By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery
Author: Lawrence, Robert Means
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's Notes: Greek words and some characters may not display
properly--in that case, try another version. Words italicized in the
original are surrounded by _underscores_. Some typographical and
punctuation errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the




The Riverside Press Cambridge



_Published October 1910_

     They have observed but little, who have not remarked how much
     Imagination contributes to give success to the curative power
     of a medicine.
                                          VICESIMUS KNOX, D.D.
                                      _Winter Evenings_, I, p. 154.

     The mind has the same command over the body, as the master
     over the slave.


Certain historic modes of healing, including the use of medical amulets
and charms, which have been regarded from early times as magical
remedies, belong properly to the domain of Psychical Medicine. For the
therapeutic virtues of medical amulets are not inherent in these
objects, but are due to the influence exerted by them upon the
imaginative faculties of the individuals who employ them. They afford
powerful suggestions of healing. In this volume the writer has sought to
emphasize the fact that the efficiency of many primitive therapeutic
methods, and the success of charlatanry, are to be attributed to mental
influence. The use of spells and incantations, the practice of laying-on
of hands, the cult of relics, mesmerism, and metallo-therapy, have been
important factors in the evolution of modern mental healing. The method
of their operation, a mystery for ages, is revealed by the word
suggestion. Thus may be traced some of the steps in the development of
psycho-therapy. One ruling force, namely, the power of the imagination,
has always been the potent therapeutic agent, whether in the word of
command, in medical scripts, or in the methods of quackery.
                                                                R. M. L.

          May 20, 1910.


    I. MEDICAL AMULETS                                  3

   II. TALISMANS                                       19

  III. PHYLACTERIES                                    24

   IV. THE POWER OF WORDS                              30


   VI. THE ROYAL TOUCH                                 73

  VII. THE BLUE-GLASS MANIA                            93

 VIII. THE TEMPLES OF ESCULAPIUS                       97

   IX. STYPTIC CHARMS                                 105

    X. HEALING-SPELLS IN ANCIENT TIMES                111

   XI. MEDICINAL RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS                   135

  XII. METALLO-THERAPY                                139

 XIII. ANIMAL MAGNETISM                               143





XVIII. QUACKS AND QUACKERY                            201

  XIX. QUACKS AND QUACKERY (_continued_)              223


  PARACELSUS                                          243


  JEROME CARDAN                                       251

  GIUSEPPE BALSAMO                                    253

  VALENTINE GREATRAKES                                255

  JOHANN BAPTIST VAN HELMONT                          260

  ROBERT FLUDD                                        263

  MICHEL DE NOTREDAME                                 265

  WILLIAM LILLY                                       268

  JOHANN JOSEPH GASSNER                               271

INDEX                                                 273




Among the various subjects which belong to the province of medical
folk-lore, one of the most interesting relates to amulets and protective
charms, which represent an important stage in the gradual development of
Medicine as a science. And especially noteworthy among medical amulets
are those inscribed with mystic sentences, words, or characters, for by
their examination and study we may acquire some definite knowledge of
the mental condition of the people who made use of them.

Satisfactorily to explain the derivation of the English word "amulet"
has taxed the ingenuity of etymologists, and its origin is admittedly
obscure. According to some authorities, the Latin _amuletum_ was derived
from _amoliri_, to avert or repel; but the greater weight of evidence
points to the Arabic verb _hamala_, meaning "to carry." The definitions
usually given embody both of these ideas; for amulets, in the ancient
medical conception of the term, were any objects, ornamental or
otherwise, worn on the bodies of men or animals, and believed to
neutralize the ill effects of noxious drugs, incantations, witchcrafts,
and all morbific agencies whatever.[4:1] To the Oriental mind amulets
symbolize the bond between a protective power and dependent mundane
creatures; they are prophylactics against the forces of evil, and may be
properly characterized as objects superstitiously worn, whose alleged
magical potency is derived from the faith and imagination of the

The use of amulets has been attributed to religious sentimentality or
religiosity. The latter word has been defined as "an excessive
susceptibility to the religious sentiments, especially wonder, awe, and
reverence, unaccompanied by any correspondent loyalty to divine law in
daily life."[4:3]

Any one desirous of moralizing on the subject may find a theme
presenting aspects both sad and comical. When, however, one reflects
that amulets, in some one of their protean forms, have been invested
with supernatural preventive and healing powers by the people of all
lands and epochs, and that they have been worn not only by kings and
princes, but by philosophers, prelates, and physicians of eminence as
well, it is evident that the subject deserves more than a passing

It would be vain to seek the origin of their employment, which lies
hidden behind the misty veil of remote antiquity. The eastern nations of
old, as is well known, were much addicted to the use of amulets; and
from Chaldea, Egypt, and Persia the practice was transmitted westward,
and was thus extended throughout the civilized world. Among the great
number of popular amulets in ancient times, many were fashioned out of
metals, ivory, stone, and wood, to represent deities, animals, birds,
and fishes; others were precious stones or cylinders inscribed with
hieroglyphics; necklaces of shell or coral, crescent- or hand-shaped
charms, and grotesque images. Their virtues were derived either from the
material, from the shape, or from the magic rites performed at the time
of their preparation. According to a popular belief, which prevailed
throughout the East in the earlier centuries of the Christian era, all
objects, whether inanimate stones and metals, or brutes and plants,
possessed an indwelling spirit or soul, which was the cause of the
efficiency of all amulets.[5:1] They were therefore akin to fetishes, in
the present acceptation of the term; for a fetish, as defined in the
classification of medicines and therapeutic agents in the collections of
the National Museum at Washington, D. C., is a material object supposed
to be the abode of a spirit, or representing a spirit, which may be
induced or compelled to help the possessor.

According to Juvenal ("Satires," Book III, v, 1), Grecian athletes wore
protective charms in the arena, to counterbalance the magical devices of
their opponents. It is probable that the ethics of modern athletic
contests would not countenance such expedients. But so implicit was the
confidence of the Roman citizen in his amulet, that a failure to avert
sickness or evil of any sort was not attributed to inherent lack of
power in the charm itself, but rather to some mistake in the method of
its preparation.[6:1]

In the time of the Emperor Hadrian (A. D. 76-138), and of his
successors, the Antonines, the resources of occult science, known only
to the initiated few, were believed to be sufficiently powerful, through
the agency of spells and charms, to control the actions of evil
spirits.[6:2] The early Christians readily adopted the pagan custom of
wearing amulets as remedies against disease, and as bodily safeguards,
in spite of the emphatic condemnation of the Church.

Origen (A. D. 186-253), a native of Alexandria, wrote that in his time
it was customary for a person ailing from any cause to write certain
characters on paper or metal, and fasten the amulet, thus improvised,
upon the part of the body affected.[7:1] Passages from the books of the
Gospel (literally "good spell") were especial favorites as such
preservatives; they were usually inscribed on parchment, and were even
placed upon horses.[7:2] Amulets were also employed to propitiate the
goddess Fortune, and to thwart her evil designs. So insistent was the
belief in the virtues of these objects, and to such a pitch of credulity
did the popular mind attain, that special charms in great variety were
devised against particular diseases, as well as against misfortunes and
evil of whatever kind.[7:3]

Medieval astrology was a chief factor in promoting the use of amulets.
Magic lent its aid to such an extent that, in certain lands, a chief
part of Medicine consisted in the selection of suitable amulets against
disease, and in their preparation.[7:4]

The almost universal dependence upon amulets, as prophylactics or
healing agencies, originated through popular ignorance and fear.

With the advent of Christianity, many former superstitious beliefs were
abandoned. Yet the process was very gradual.

The newest converts from paganism, while renouncing the forms which they
had of necessity abjured, were disposed to attribute to Christian
symbols some of the virtues which they had believed to inhere in heathen
emblems and tokens.[8:1] The amulets and charms used by prehistoric man
were silent appeals for protection against the powers of evil, the
hostile forces which environed him.[8:2]

The doctrines of the Gnostics have been held by some writers to be
responsible for the introduction of many amulets and charms in the early
centuries of this era. Notwithstanding the fact (says Edward Berdoe in
his "Origin of the Art of Healing") that the spirit of Christianity in
its early day was strenuously opposed to all magical and superstitious
practices, the nations which it subdued to the faith in Christ were so
wedded to their former customs that they could not be entirely divorced
from them. Thus, in the case of amulets, it was found necessary to
substitute Christian words and tokens for their heathen counterparts.

Amulets and charms were much in vogue in ancient Egypt, and so great was
the traditional reputation of the people of that country, as expert
magicians, that throughout Europe in medieval times, strolling
fortune-tellers and Gypsies were called _Egyptians_, and by this name
they are still known in France. A written medical charm usually
consisted of a piece of skin or parchment, upon which were inscribed a
few words or mystic symbols. This was enclosed in a small bag or case,
which was suspended from the wearer's neck.

The physician of the fifteenth century was wont to write his
prescription in mysterious characters, and bind it upon the affected
portion of the patient's body.[9:1]

In the rabbinical medicine, occult methods, involving astrology and the
wearing of parchment amulets and charms, were more in evidence than the
use of drugs; and among the inhabitants of ancient Babylon, traditional
spells for driving out the demons of sickness were much employed.[9:2]

The forms of words embodied in charms and incantations were originally
intended to be sung, and usually contained some rhyme, jingle, or
alliterative verses.

The origin of these may be ascribed to the use of lullabies and
cradle-songs, as a means of soothing infants, and lulling them to sleep.
But formerly sick persons of all ages were comforted by these simple
melodies. Dr. Joseph Frank Payne, in the "Fitz-Patrick Lectures,"
delivered at Oxford in 1904, remarked that many of the nursery rhymes
of to-day are relics of literary forms which had formerly a deeper and
sometimes a more formidable meaning.

For a goodly proportion of these magical therapeutic formulas had
evidently a definite purpose, namely, the expulsion of the demons, who
were believed to be the originators of disease.

Charm-magic, or the cure of disease through the instrumentality of
written medical charms, may be properly classed as one method of
utilizing the therapeutic force of suggestion. In ancient Assyria sacred
inscriptions were placed upon the walls of the sick-room, and holy texts
were displayed on either side of the threshold.

The Roman writer, Quintus Serenus Samonicus, author of "Carmen de
Medicina," is said to have recommended as a cure for quartan ague, the
placing of the fourth book of the Iliad under the patient's head.[10:1]
Charm-magic has been regarded as a survival of animism, the theory which
endows the phenomena of nature with personal life. It has also been
defined as the explanation of all natural phenomena, not due to obvious
material causes, by attributing them to spiritual agencies.

According to this view, the majority of superstitious fancies are of
animistic origin. These include, not only many methods of primitive
psycho-therapy, but also the belief in goblins, haunted houses, and the
veneration of holy relics.

Magic writings have been and often are efficient psychic remedies for
functional affections, in direct proportion to the user's faith in them.
A certain sense of mystery seems essential. Given that, and plenty of
confidence, and it matters not whether the inscriptions are biblical
verses, unintelligible jargon, or even invocations of the Devil.

As an illustration of the attitude of the clergy towards the practice of
heathen medical magic in Britain during the seventh century, we quote
the words of an eminent French writer, St. Eligius, Bishop of Noyon
(588-659), as recorded by the English ecclesiastical historian, Rev.
Samuel Roffey Maitland (1792-1866), in his series of essays, entitled
"The Dark Ages":--

     Before all things I declare and testify to you that you shall
     observe none of the impious customs of the pagans, neither
     sorcerers, nor diviners, nor soothsayers, nor enchanters, nor
     must you presume for any cause, or for any sickness, to
     consult or inquire of them; for he who commits this sin loses
     unavoidably the grace of baptism. In like manner pay no
     attention to auguries, and sneezings; and when you are on a
     journey pay no attention to the singing of certain little
     birds. But whether you are setting out on a journey, or
     beginning any other work, cross yourself in the name of
     Christ, and say the Creed and the Lord's Prayer with faith and
     devotion, and then the enemy can do you no harm. . . . Let no
     Christian place lights at the temples, or the stones, or at
     fountains, or at trees . . . or at places where three ways
     meet, or presume to make vows. Let none presume to hang
     amulets on the neck of man or beast; _even though they be made
     by the clergy, and called holy things, and contain the words
     of Scripture_; for they are fraught, not with the remedy of
     Christ, but with the poison of the Devil. Let no one presume
     to make lustrations, nor to enchant herbs, nor to make flocks
     pass through a hollow tree, or an aperture in the earth; for
     by so doing he seems to consecrate them to the Devil.

     Moreover, as often as any sickness occurs, do not seek
     enchanters, nor diviners, nor sorcerers, nor soothsayers, or
     make devilish amulets at fountains or trees, or cross-roads;
     but let him who is sick trust only to the mercy of God, and
     receive the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ with
     faith and devotion; and faithfully seek consecrated oil from
     the church, wherewith he may anoint his body in the name of
     Christ and according to the Apostle, the prayer of faith shall
     save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.

From very early times, says Lady Wilde, the pagan physicians of Ireland,
who were famous as skilled practitioners, were prominent among the
Druids. Although thoroughly conversant with the healing properties of
herbs, they appreciated keenly the influence exerted upon the minds of
their patients by charms, fairy cures, and incantations. Therefore their
methods of treatment were of a medico-religious character, the psychic
element being utilized in the form of various magic rites and
ceremonies, which were important healing factors. The ancient Druidic
charms are still in use among the Irish peasants, the titles of pagan
deities being replaced, however, by the name of Christ and words of the
Christian ritual. In this form they are regarded as magic talismans,
when repeated over the sick, and the peasants have a strong faith in
these mystic formulas, which have a powerful hold upon their
imaginations, having been transmitted to them through many generations
of a credulous ancestry.[13:1]

The peasants of Ireland do not wholly depend upon the skill of their
fairy-women. On the contrary, every housekeeper has an intimate
knowledge of the healing virtues of common herbs. The administration of
these is always accompanied with a prayer. After domestic resources have
been exhausted, especially if the ailment is believed to be of
supernatural origin, recourse is had to the witch-doctress.

In a volume entitled "Beware of Pickpockets" (1605), being a warning
against charlatans, occurs this passage:

     Others, that they may colourably and cunningly hide their
     grosse ignorance, when they know not the cause of the disease,
     referre it unto charmes, witchcrafts, magnifical incantations
     and sorcerie. Vainely and with a brazen forehead, affirming
     that there is no way to help them but by characters, circles,
     figure-castings, exorcismes, conjurations and others impious
     and godlesse meanes. Others set to sale at a great price,
     certain amulets of gold and silver, stamped under an
     appropriate and selected constellation of the planets, with
     some magical characters, shamelessly boasting that they will
     cure all diseases and worke I know not what other wonders.

The employment of amulets involves the idea of protection against divers
kinds of malicious spirits, including the demons of disease, ghosts,
fairies, and evil-minded sprites, surly elves, fiends, trolls, pixies,
bogies, kelpies, gnomes, goblins, witches, devils, imps, _Jinn, et id
omne genus_. Amulets served as preventives against bodily ailments or
injuries, misfortune and ill-luck generally.

Medieval practitioners, while utilizing material remedies to some
extent, relied more on the resources of occult science, whether in the
form of incantations or the revelations of astrology. The adept
consulted the stars to determine the prognosis of a case of fever, for
example. If he prescribed drugs only, his reputation suffered in the
popular estimation. In order to be abreast of the times, the shrewd
medieval physician needed to be well versed in star-craft, or at least
to make a pretense thereto. It is probable that many patients would have
despised a practitioner who looked only to his Herbal and store of
drugs, and neglected _Capricornus_ and _Ursa Major_.[14:1]

In "Chambers's Cyclopædia," published in 1728, an amulet is defined as
a kind of medicament, hung about the neck, or other part of the body, to
prevent or remove disease. And a charm is described as a magic power or
spell, by which, with the assistance of the Devil, sorcerers and witches
were supposed to do wondrous things, far surpassing the power of Nature.
According to popular opinion, medicines were of some value as remedies,
but to effect radical cures the use of magic spells was desirable.

John Atkins wrote, in "The Navy Surgeon, or a Practical System of
Surgery" (1737), that the best method of employing medical amulets
consisted in adapting them to the patients' imaginations. "Let the
newness and surprise," wrote he, "exceed the invention, and keep up the
humor by a long roll of cures and vouchers; by these and such means,
many distempers, especially of women, who are ill all over, or know not
what they ail, have been cured more by a fancy to the physician than by
his prescription. Quacks again, according to their boldness and way of
addressing, command success by striking the fancies of an audience."

Edward Berdoe, in the "Origin and Growth of the Healing Art," comments
on the universality of amuletic symbols and talismans. They are peculiar
to no age or region, and unite in one bond of superstitious brotherhood
the savage and the philosopher, the Sumatran and the Egyptian, the
Briton and the native of Borneo. When a medical written charm is wholly
unintelligible, its curative virtue is thereby much enhanced. The
Anglo-Saxon document known as the _Vercelli manuscript_ by some means
found its way to Lombardy. Its text being undecipherable, the precious
pages of the manuscript were cut up, to serve as amulets.

Apropos of this subject, Charles M. Barrows, in "Facts and Fictions of
Mental Healing," remarks that whatever acts upon a patient in such a way
as to persuade him to yield himself to the therapeutic force constantly
operative in Nature, is a means of healing. It may be an amulet, a
cabalistic symbol, an incantation, a bread-pill, or even sudden fright.
It may be a drug prescribed by a physician, imposition of hands,
mesmeric passes, the touch of a relic, or visiting a sacred shrine.

Dr. Samuel McComb, in "Religion and Medicine,"[16:1] remarks that the
efficacy of the amulets and charms of savages depends upon the fact that
they are symbols of an inner mental state, the objects to which the
desire or yearning could attach itself--in a word, they are
auto-suggestions, done into wood and stone.

Professor Hugo Münsterberg has said that the less a patient knows about
the nature of suggestion, the more benefit he is likely to experience
therefrom; but that, on the contrary, a physician may obtain the better
results, the more clearly he understands the working of this therapeutic

It is also doubtless true that much good may result from the employment
of suggestion by a charlatan, in the form of a written medical charm,
both parties being alike profoundly ignorant of the healing influence

In the Talmud, two kinds of medical amulets are specified, viz: the
"approved" and the "disapproved." An approved amulet is one which has
cured three persons, or which has been made by a man who has cured three
persons by means of other amulets.[17:1] A belief in the healing power
of amulets was very general among the Hebrews in the later periods of
their history. No people in the whole world were more addicted to the
use of medicinal spells, exorcisms, and various enchantments. The
simpler amulets consisted of pieces of paper, with a few words written
upon them, and their use was quite general. Only one of the approved
kind was permitted to be worn abroad on the Sabbath.[17:2]

The Talmud therefore permits the use of superstitious modes of healing,
the end sought justifying the means, and the power of mental influence
being tacitly recognized. This principle is faithfully carried out
to-day, says a writer in the "Journal of Biblical Literature,"[18:1] in
all rural communities throughout the world. The Hebrew law-makers did
not make a concession to a lower form of religion by endorsing magical
remedies, but merely shared the contemporary belief in the demoniac
origin of disease. The patient was regarded as being in a condition of
enchantment or fascination,--under a spell, to use the popular phrase.
To dissolve such a spell, recourse was had to amulets, written charms,
or the spoken word of command.


[4:1] Carolus Christianus Krause, _De Amuletis Medicis Cogitata
Nonnulla_, vol. iii, p. 4. Lipsia, 1758.

[4:2] Jo. Christianus Teutscherus, _De Usu et Abusu Amuletorum_.
Lipsiensis, 1720.

[4:3] _Century Dictionary._

[5:1] John William Draper, _History of the Intellectual Development of
Europe_, vol. i, p. 392.

[6:1] _Chambers's Journal_, vol. xvi, p. 57; 1861.

[6:2] George F. Fort, _Medical Economy during the Middle Ages_, p. 78.

[7:1] _The Reliquary_, vol. vii, p. 162; 1893.

[7:2] James Townley, _The Reasons of the Law of Moses_, vol. ii, p. 944.

[7:3] _Exercitationum Anatomico-Chirurgicarum Decades Duæ. De Amuletis._
Lugd: Batavorum, 1708.

[7:4] _Encyclopédie des Gens du Monde_, art. "Amulette."

[8:1] _The Catholic Encyclopædia._

[8:2] Elwood Worcester, D.D., _Religion and Medicine_.

[9:1] C. J. S. Thompson, _The Mystery and Romance of Alchemy and
Pharmacy_, p. 124.

[9:2] _Encyclopædia Biblica_, art. "Medicine."

[10:1] William George Black, _Folk-Medicine_.

[13:1] _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland._

[14:1] George Roberts, _The Social History of the People of the Southern
Counties of England_.

[16:1] New York, 1908, p. 94.

[17:1] Joseph Barclay, _The Talmud_.

[17:2] John Kitto, _A Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature_.

[18:1] Vol. xxiii, 1904.



A talisman may be described as an emblematical object or image,
accredited with magical powers, by whose means its possessor is enabled
to enlist the aid of supernatural beings. Frequently it is a precious
stone, sometimes a piece of metal or parchment, whereon is engraved a
celestial symbol, such as the representation of a planet or zodiacal
sign; or the picture of an animal or fabulous monster. Mystic words and
occult phrases are oftentimes substituted, however, for such devices. It
is essential that talismans should be prepared under suitable
astrological conditions and planetary influences; otherwise they are of
no value. Like amulets, they were formerly worn on the body, either as
prophylactics or as healing agents. Tradition ascribes their invention
to the Persian philosopher Zoroaster, but their use was probably coeval
with the earliest civilizations: descriptions of cures wrought by
medical talismans are to be found in the works of Serapion, a physician
of the ancient sect of Empirics, who lived in Alexandria about 250
B. C.; and in those of Almansor (born 939), the minister of Hesham II,
Sultan of Cordova.

Talismans were fashioned out of various metals, and their mystic virtues
differed according to their forms and the symbols which they bore.
Silver moon-shaped talismans, for example, were much in vogue as
preservatives from fleshly ills; and they were also believed to insure
travellers against mishaps.

In medieval times talismans and amulets were generally used as remedial
agents. A mystical emblem, representing the inexpressible name of God,
which was preserved at the Temple in Jerusalem, is found on many
engraved gems. And two triangles, crossing each other, are said to have
been the diagram of the Gnostics, with which many marvellous cures were

The pentacle, or wizard's foot, a mathematical figure, used in magical
ceremonies, was considered to be a defence against demons. We read in
Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion":

     His shoes were marked with cross and spell:
     Upon his breast a pentacle.

This symbol, says C. J. S. Thompson, in "The Mystery and Romance of
Alchemy and Pharmacy," consisted of a five-rayed star, and was often
chalked upon the door-steps of houses, to scare away fiends. Thus it
served the same purpose as the familiar horse-shoe, when the latter was
placed with the prongs downward.

The belief in the pentacle's demon-repelling power has been attributed
to the fact that it resolves itself into three triangles, and is thus a
triple emblem of the Trinity. Paracelsus, according to the
above-mentioned writer, ascribed a similar, although less marked virtue,
to the hexagram.

The Tyrolese physician, Joseph Ennemoser, in his "History of Magic"
(1844), observed that in his time a peculiar influence was attributed by
mesmerists to certain metals and precious stones. And he expressed the
belief that the popular faith in talismans, prevalent in the early ages,
originated through similar ideas. The Buddhists credited the sapphire
with magical power. Probably the magnetic polarities of jewels, rather
than their brilliancy, constitute their chief potency as talismans. Yet
the latter quality doubtless strongly influences the imagination.

Talismans were formerly divided into three classes, _astronomical_,
_magical_, and _mixed_.

The first-named consisted usually of a magical figure, cut or engraved
under certain superstitious observances of the configuration of the

It has been defined as the seal, figure, character, or image of a
heavenly sign, constellation, or planet, engraved on a sympathetic
stone, or on a metal corresponding to the star, in order to receive its

Magical talismans were inscribed with mysterious symbols, words of
superstitious import, and the names of unknown angels; they were well
adapted to inspire with awe the minds of the ignorant. The so-called
mixed talismans bore various unintelligible devices and barbaric names.
Some of the most ancient protective and healing charms were fashioned
out of roots, twigs, and plants. Whatever its form, the talisman was
believed to exert an extraordinary influence over the bearer, especially
in warding off disease or injury.

In its widest sense, the word talisman is synonymous with amulet.

The Dutch historian, Johann Busch (1400-1477), told of his meeting a
woman, the wife or daughter of a soldier, on some public festal occasion
at Halle in Prussian Saxony. Observing that she wore a little bag
suspended from her neck, he asked her what it contained. Thereupon the
woman showed him a bit of parchment bearing divers mystic inscriptions,
and the statement that Pope Leo guaranteed the bearer thereof against
bodily injuries, fainting spells, and drowning. Then followed the words,
_Christus vincit; Christus regnat_, together with the names of the
twelve apostles, and those of the three Wise Men, Balthasar, Melchior,
and Kaspar.[23:1]

This doubtless was a fair specimen of the inscribed amulets, worn by
German peasants in the fifteenth century.

Even nowadays the names of the three _magi_ are often to be seen, as
talismanic symbols, upon the doors and walls of dwellings in certain
Roman Catholic countries; a fact noted by the present writer, while
sojourning in the Austrian Tyrol a few years ago.


[20:1] M. F. Blumler, _A History of Amulets_.

[22:1] _The Century Dictionary._

[23:1] Johann Heinrich Zedler, _Grosses Universal Lexicon_, art.
"Talismans." Leipzig und Halle, 1744.



     They ware in their foreheads scrowles of parchment, wherein
     were written the tenne commaundements given by God to Moses,
     which they called _philaterias_.
             JOHN MARBECK, _Book of Notes and Common-Places_: 1581.

     There were Phylacteries for the head, reaching from one ear to
     the other, and tied behind with a thong; and Phylacteries for
     the hand, fastened upon the left arme, above the elbow, on the
     inside, so that it might be near the heart.
                            THOMAS GODWIN, _Moses and Aaron_: 1616.

Among the Greeks of the first century A. D. the word phylacterion (from
φυλάσσειν, to guard, and equivalent to the Roman _amuletum_)
signified a portable charm, which was believed to afford protection
against disease and evil spirits. Such charms, in their simplest form,
consisted of rolls of parchment or ribbon, inscribed with magical
spells, and were hung around the wearer's neck, or attached to the hem
of his garment. Among the Hebrews and early Christians similar
protectives were used, although the latter substituted Gospel texts for
the magic formulas. Some authorities have maintained that phylacteries
were not strictly amulets, but it is certain that they were held in
superstitious regard.[25:1] More elaborate phylacteries consisted of
tiny leathern boxes, cubical in form, and containing four sections of
the Mosaic Law, written on parchment and folded in the skin of a clean
beast. These were carried either upon the head or left arm.[25:2]

The custom of wearing portions of the Gospels, suspended from the neck,
was common in the East. Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) sent to
Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards, a box containing a copy of the
Gospels, as a charm against the evil spirits which beset children.[25:3]
The origin of this practice is found in Deuteronomy VI, 6-9: "And these
words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou
shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and
when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them
for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine
eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy

In the rabbinical Targum, the Aramaic translation of the Bible, canto
VIII, written about A. D. 500, occurs this passage: "The congregation of
Israel hath said, I am chosen above all people, because I bind the
Phylacteries on my left hand and on my head, and the scroll is fixed on
the right side of my door, the third part of which is opposite my
bed-room, that the evil spirits may not have power to hurt me."

Thus it would appear that the saying quoted by Grimm, "Christians place
their faith in words, the Jews in precious stones, and the Pagans in
herbs," is not wholly correct, for the Jews added to a trust in stones,
a faith in the long, embroidered, text-inscribed phylactery.[26:1]

At the beginning of the Christian era, the belief was general among the
Jews and pagans, that by means of magical formulas the evil influence of
the Devil and demons could be successfully resisted. Therefore the
Hebrew exorcists found easily a fertile soil for the cultivation of
their supernatural art. This, says a writer in the "Jewish
Encyclopædia," was the atmosphere in which Christianity arose, with the
claim of healing all that were oppressed of the Devil. The name of Jesus
became the power by which the host of Satan was to be overcome. But
pharisaism diagnosed the disease of the age differently, and insisted
that the observance of the Law was the best prophylactic against
disease. The wearing of phylacteries indicates that they were regarded
by the Jews as amulets. Belief in the power of the Law became the
antidote against what may be termed "Satanophobia," a pessimistic and
habitual dread of devils and demons.

The wearing of phylacteries is a fundamental principle of the Jewish
religion. They are to be preserved with the greatest care. Indeed, the
Rabbis assert that the single precept of the phylacteries is equal in
value to all the commandments.[27:1] The Talmud says: "Whoever has the
phylacteries bound to his head and arm, and the fringes thrown over his
garments, and the Mezuza[27:2] fixed on his door-post, is safe from sin;
for these are excellent memorials, and the angels secure him from sin;
as it is written, 'The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that
fear him, and delivereth them.'"[27:3] Maimonides, the Jewish
philosopher of the twelfth century, extolled the sacred influence of the
phylacteries. For as long as one wears them on his head and arm, he is
obliged to be meek and God-fearing, and must not suffer himself to be
carried away by laughter or idle talk, nor indulge in evil thoughts, but
must turn his attention to the words of truth and uprightness.

In order to emphasize their religious zeal, the Pharisees and scribes,
in our Lord's time, were wont to "make broad their phylacteries."[27:4]
Josephus, the historian of the first century, speaks of the wearing of
phylacteries, as an established and recognized custom. According to the
_Cabala_, they were significant of the wisdom and greatness of God, and
their use distinguished the cultured and pious from the common people,
who were ignorant of the Law.

Great care was taken in the preparation of phylacteries, and no
Christian, apostate, or woman was allowed to write the inscriptions upon
them. Even at the present time, there are Jews in Russia and Poland, who
wear them during the whole day.[28:1]

It was customary to tie certain kinds of phylacteries into a knot.
Reference to this ancient practice is found in certain Assyrian
talismans, now in the British Museum. Following is a translation of one
of them: "Hea says: 'Go, my son! take a woman's kerchief, bind it round
thy right hand; loose it from the left hand. Knot it with seven knots;
do so twice. Sprinkle it with bright wine; bind it round the head of the
sick man. Bind it round his hands and feet, like manacles and fetters;
sit down on his bed; sprinkle water over him. He shall hear the voice of
Hea. Darkness shall protect him, and Marduk, eldest son of Heaven, shall
find him a happy habitation.'"[28:2]

While the practice of wearing phylacteries may not have originated in a
superstitious belief in their virtues as "appurtenances to make prayers
more powerful," it would appear that they came to be regarded not only
as protective charms, which is indicated by their name, but also as
magical remedies, having occult healing properties.[29:1] Their power
was supposed to inhere in the written words, enclosed in the small
leathern case.

At the present day, verses from the Scriptures, the Koran, and other
sacred writings are sometimes worn upon the person and are also placed
upon horses or camels, by Arabs, Turks, Grecians, and Italians, with the
avowed purpose of averting malignant glances.[29:2]


[25:1] _Encyclopædia Britannica._

[25:2] Samuel Burder, _Oriental Customs_, vol. ii, p. 226.

[25:3] Smith and Cheetham, _A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities_.

[26:1] William George Black, _Folk-Medicine_, p. 165.

[27:1] Joseph Barclay, _The Talmud_.

[27:2] Scroll of parchment, inscribed with passages of Scripture.

[27:3] Psalm xxxiv, 7.

[27:4] James Hastings, D.D., _A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels_,
1908, p. 360. Matthew, xxiii, 5.

[28:1] Philip Schaff, D.D., _A Religious Encyclopædia_.

[28:2] _Biblical Things not generally known_, 1879, pp. 177-8. _Marduk,
the Chaldean Hercules._

[29:1] James Hastings, _A Dictionary of the Bible_.

[29:2] Frederick Thomas Elworthy, _The Evil Eye_.



     In every word there is a magic influence, and each word is in
     itself the breath of the internal and moving spirit.
                          JOSEPH ENNEMOSER: _The History of Magic_.

     There is magic in words, surely, and many a treasure besides
     Ali Baba's is unlocked with a verbal key.
                                   HENRY VAN DYKE: _Little Rivers_.

     For it was neither herbs, nor mollifying plaster that restored
     them to health, but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all
     things.                            WISDOM OF SOLOMON, XVI, 12.

The power of words in stimulating the imagination is well expressed in
the following sentences:--

     Words, when well chosen, have so great a force in them, that a
     description often gives us more lively ideas than the sight of
     the things themselves. The reader finds a scene drawn in
     stronger colors, and painted more to the life in his
     imagination, by the help of words, than by an actual survey of
     the scene which they describe. In this case the poet seems to
     get the better of nature. He takes indeed the landscape after
     her, but gives it more vigorous touches, heightens its beauty,
     and so enlivens the whole piece, that the images which flow
     from the objects themselves, appear weak or faint in
     comparison with those that come from the expressions.[30:1]

     The medical science of the ancient Romans was largely
     theurgical, and was founded on a pretended influence over
     spiritual beings, whether gods or demons. Their system of
     therapeutics included prayers, invocations, and magical
     sentences. In speaking of verbal charms, Lord Bacon commented
     on the fact that amongst the heathen nations, either barbarous
     words, without meaning, were used, or "words of similitude,"
     which were intended to feed the imagination. Also religious
     texts, which strengthen that faculty. Mystical expressions
     were favorites, as were also Hebrew sentences, as belonging to
     the holy tongue. No examples of magical formulas are found in
     the Bible, but Rabbinical literature contains a large number
     of them, the majority being designated as "heathen," and their
     use forbidden.[31:1]

A belief in the potency of written or spoken words, for the production
of good or evil, has been characteristic of all historic epochs and
nations. The exorcist of ancient Egypt relied on amulets and mysterious
phrases for the cure of disease; and a metrical petition traced on a
papyrus-leaf, or a formula of prayer opportunely repeated, "put to
flight the serpents, who were the instruments of fate."[31:2]

The efficacy anciently attributed to verbal charms appears to have been
partly due to a current opinion that names of persons and things were
not of arbitrary invention, but were in some mysterious manner evolved
from nature, and hence were possessed of a certain inherent force,
which was potent either for good or evil.[32:1]

Our Lord, when on earth, went about healing the sick by the sole power
of words. A notable instance of this is the case of the centurion of
Capernaum, who deemed himself unworthy of the honor of having Christ
enter his dwelling, in order to cure his servant, who lay sick of the
palsy. "But speak the word only," he said, "and my servant shall be
healed." And the Master replied: "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed,
so be it done unto thee." And his servant was healed in the self-same
hour. That evening, we are told, many that were possessed with devils
were brought unto him; and he cast out the spirits with his word, and
healed all that were sick.[32:2] The popularity of Scriptural texts in
primitive therapeutics is doubtless largely due to the many wonderful
cures wrought by words, which are recorded in the Bible.

Usually, in the Gospels, the healing word is addressed to the patient,
but occasionally to his master, or to one of his parents. Whenever the
belief in the power of sacred words appears outside of Holy Writ, it is
generally expressed in the guise of a superstitious formula. This belief
is found, however, in the mystical tenets of the ancient Jewish sect,
known as the Essenes. It is also clearly stated in the Zend Avesta, as
follows: "One may heal with herbs, one may heal with the Law, one may
heal with the Holy Word; amongst all remedies, this is the healing one,
that heals with the Holy Word; this one it is that will best drive away
sickness from the body of the faithful; for this one is the best healing
of all remedies."[33:1]

The religious and devotional sentences, which are so commonly seen above
the entrances of dwellings in Germany and other European lands, and the
passages from the Koran similarly used among Moslems, are not
necessarily evidence of the piety of the members of a household. For, as
has been remarked, these sentences are often regarded merely as
protective charms.[33:2]

According to an old Welsh custom, fighting-cocks were provided with
prophylactic amulets before entering the arena. These amulets consisted
of biblical verses, inscribed on slips of paper, which were bound around
the cocks' legs. A favorite verse thus used was Ephesians, VI, 16:
"Taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all
the fiery darts of the wicked."[33:3] Some of the old English medical
verse-spells are sufficiently quaint exponents of popular credulity.

The following, for example, was in vogue as a remedy for cramp in the

     "The Devil is tying a knot in my leg,
      Mark, Luke and John, unloose it, I beg."[34:1]

Mr. W. G. Black, in his "Folk-Medicine" (p. 170), remarks that many of
the magic writings used as charms were nothing else than invocations of
the Devil; and cites the case of a young woman living in Chelsea,
England, who reposed confidence in a sealed paper, mystically inscribed,
as a prophylactic against toothache. Having consented, at the request of
her priest, to examine the writing, this is what she found: "Good Devil,
cure her, and take her for your pains." This illustrates the somewhat
trite proverb, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'twere folly to be wise," and
is a proof of the wisdom of the popular belief that the inscription of a
healing formula should not be seen by the wearer, inasmuch as its mystic
words are ordinarily invocations of spiritual Beings, and are not
therefore adapted for comprehension by the human intellect!

The mere remembrance of some traditional event in the life of our Lord
has been accounted of value in popular leech-craft, as in the following
charm against ague, taken from a diary of the year 1751, and still used
in Lincolnshire within recent times: "When Jesus came near Pilate, he
trembled like a leaf, and the judge asked Him if He had the ague. He
answered that He neither had the ague nor was He afraid; and whosoever
bears these words in mind shall never fear the ague or anything

Eusebius of Cæsarea, in his Ecclesiastical History,[35:2] gives the text
of two letters alleged to have formed a correspondence between our Lord
and Abgar, King of Edessa. They were said to have been originally
written in Aramaic or Syro-Chaldaic characters, and were discovered
beneath a stone some eighty miles from Iconium, the modern Konieh, in
Asia Minor, in the year 97, and afterwards lost. Regarded as authentic
by some learned authorities, they were nevertheless rejected as
apocryphal by a church council at Rome, during the pontificate of
Gelasius I, in the year 494. According to Eusebius, King Abgar, who was
afflicted with a grievous sickness, learning of the wonderful cures
wrought by our Lord, wrote Him a letter begging Him to come to Edessa.
And the Master, although not acceding to this request, wrote a reply to
the king, promising to send one of His disciples to heal him. And in
fulfilment of that promise, after His resurrection, Thomas the Apostle,
by divine command, sent Thaddeus, one of the seventy disciples, to
Abgar. Such is the popular tradition. Full particulars of the visit of
Thaddeus, together with copies of the letters taken from a Book of
Records preserved at Edessa, may be found in a work entitled, "Ancient
Syriac Documents," edited by W. Cureton, D.D. Copies of these letters
were used as charms by the early Christians, and for this purpose were
placed upon their door-lintels; they were still to be seen within recent
years in many a cottage of Shropshire and Devon, where they are valued
as preservatives from fever.[36:1] In the opinion of not a few scholars
they are ingenious literary forgeries; but strong evidence in favor of
their authenticity is afforded by the discovery, announced by Professor
Bohrmann to the archæological congress at Rome, April 30, 1900, of
copies of the same letters, inscribed in Doric Greek, in the stone-work
above the gateway of the Palace of the Kings at Ephesus. The translated
text of the rediscovered letters is as follows:

     _From Abgar to Christ:_ I have heard of Thee and the cures
     wrought by Thee without herb or medicine, for it is reported
     that Thou restoreth sight to the blind and maketh the lame to
     walk, cleanseth the leper, raiseth the dead, chaseth out
     devils and unclean spirits, and healeth those that are
     tormented of diseases of a long continuance. Hearing all this
     of Thee, I was fully persuaded that Thou art the very God come
     down from heaven to do such miracles, or that Thou art the son
     of God and performeth them. Wherefor I have sent Thee a few
     lines entreating Thee to come hither and cure my diseases.
     Hearing that the Jews murmur against Thee and continue to do
     Thee mischief, I invite Thee to my city, which is but a little
     one, but is beautiful and sufficient to entertain us both.

     _Christ's reply to Abgar:_ Blessed art thou for believing me
     when thou hast not seen, for it is written of me that they
     that have seen me shall not believe, and that they that have
     not seen me shall believe and be saved. But concerning the
     matter thou hast written about, this is to acquaint thee that
     all things for which I was sent hither must be fulfilled and
     that I shall be taken up and returned to Him that sent me. But
     after my ascension I will send one of my disciples that shall
     cure thee of thy distemper and give life to all them that are
     with thee.[37:1]

John Gaule, in the "Magastromancer,"[37:2] declares that sacred words
derive their force from occult divine powers, which are conveyed by
means of such words, "as it were through conduit-pipes, to those who
have faith in them."

Among the Hindus, the _mantra_ is properly a divinely inspired Vedic
text; but quite generally at the present day it has degenerated into a
mere spell for warding off evil; the original religious or moral precept
being accounted of little force, when compared with the alleged magical
potency of its component words.[37:3]

The exorcism of morbiferous demons was the chief principle of primitive
therapeutics, and as a means to this end, the written or spoken word has
always been thought to exert a very great influence. Possibly indeed in
remote antiquity the art of writing was first applied in inscribing
mystic words or phrases on parchment or other material, for use as

In treating the sick, the Apache medicine-man mumbles incoherent
phrases, a method adopted quite generally by his professional brethren
in many Indian tribes. He claims for such gibberish a mysterious faculty
of healing disease. Much of its effectiveness, however, has been
attributed to the monotonous intonation with which the words are
uttered, and which tends to promote sleep just as a lullaby soothes an
ailing child.[38:2]

It is noteworthy, however, that meaningless words have always been the
favorite components of verbal charms, whose power, in the opinion of
medieval conjurers, was in direct ratio to their obscurity;[38:3] and
this fact is well shown in the incantations used by savages.

According to the late Dr. D. G. Brinton, the principle involved is,
either that the gods are supposed to comprehend what men fail to
understand; or else that the verbal charm represents "the god expressing
himself through human organs, but in a speech unknown to human
ears."[39:1] Reginald Scott expressed a popular modern idea of the force
of certain words and characters, when he said that they were able of
themselves to cure diseases, pull down, save, destroy and enchant,
"without the party's assistance."[39:2]

The term _incantation_ signifies a most potent method of magical
healing; namely, "that resting on a belief in the mysterious power of
words solemnly conceived and passionately uttered."[39:3]

In the belief of the Australian aborigines, "no demon, however
malevolent, can resist the power of the right word."[39:4] Ignorant
people are usually impressed by obscure phrases, the more so, if these
are well sprinkled with polysyllables. Cicero, in his treatise on
Divination (LXIV) criticizes the lack of perspicuity in the style of
certain writers, and supposes the case of a physician who should
prescribe a snail as an article of diet, and whose prescription should
read, "an earth-born, grass-walking, house-carrying, unsanguineous
animal." Equally efficacious might be the modern definition of the same
creature as a "terrestrial, air-breathing, gastropodous mollusk." The
degree of efficiency of such prescriptions is naturally in inverse
proportion to the patient's mental culture. An average Southern negro,
for example, affected with indigestion, might derive some therapeutic
advantage from snail diet, but would be more likely to be benefited by
the mental stimulus afforded by the verbose formula.

The Irish physicians of old had a keen appreciation of the healing
influences of incantations upon the minds of their patients, and the
latter had moreover a strong faith in the ancient Druidic charms and
invocations. It is probable that in very early times, invocations were
made in the names of favorite pagan deities. After the introduction of
Christianity by Saint Patrick, the name of the Trinity and the words of
the Christian ritual were substituted. Such invocations, when repeated
in the presence of sick persons, are regarded by the Irish peasants of
to-day as powerful talismans, effective through their magic healing
power. So great is the faith of these simple people in the ancient
hereditary cures, that they prefer to seek medical aid from the wise
woman of the village, rather than from a skilled practitioner.[40:1]

The influence of the mind upon the physical organism, through the
imagination, is well shown by the seemingly marvellous cures sometimes
wrought by medical charms. But the efficacy of magical medicine has been
usually proportionate to the degree of ignorance prevalent during any
particular epoch. Yet some of the most famous physicians of antiquity
had faith in superstitious remedies. The medical literature of the last
century before Christ, and from that period until late in the Middle
Ages, was an actual treasury of conjuration and other mummeries. Even
the great Galen, who was regarded as an oracle, openly avowed his belief
in the merits of magic cures.[41:1]

Galen wrote that many physicians of his time were of the opinion that
medicines lost much of their efficacy, unless prescribed by their
Babylonian or Egyptian names. They fully appreciated mental influence as
a factor in therapeutics. Hence, instead of regular prescriptions, they
sometimes wrote mystic formulas, which their patients either carried as
charms, or rolled into pellets, which were then swallowed.[41:2]

In a "Book of Counsels to Young Practitioners" (1300) are to be found
some interesting items regarding contemporary manners. Fledgling doctors
are therein advised to make use of long and unintelligible words, and
never to visit a patient without doing something new, lest the latter
should say, "He can do nothing without his book." In brief, a reputation
for infallibility must be maintained.

It is not surprising that curative spells were popular in the dark
ages. A modern-writer[42:1] has been quoted as saying that these were to
be used, not because they could effect direct physical changes, but
because they brought the patient into a better frame of mind. We know
that nervous affections were very prevalent in those times among the
ignorant masses of the people, and verbal charms were doubtless of value
in furnishing therapeutic mental impulses. The Germanic sooth-saying
physicians maintained that every bodily ailment could be cured by the
use of magical spells and enchanted herbs. The medieval charlatan
oculists inherited ancient medical formulas, by means of which they
professed to treat with success ophthalmic disorders. Their methods
included the recitation of ritualistic words, accompanied with suitable
gestures, and passes over the affected eyes.[42:2]

In Cotta's "Short Discoverie of the Unobserved Dangers of several sorts
of Ignorant and Unconsiderate Practisers of Physicke in England" (1612)
occur the following passages, quoted also by Brand, in "Popular
Antiquities of Great Britain."[42:3]

     If there be any good or use unto the health by _spels_, they
     have that prerogative by accident, and by the power and vertue
     of fancie. If fancie then be the foundation whereupon buildeth
     the good of spels, spels must needs be as fancies are,
     uncertaine and vaine. So must also, by consequent, be their
     use and helpe, and no lesse all they that trust unto
     them. . . . How can religion or reason suffer men that are
     not void of both, to give such impious credit unto an
     insignificant and senseless mumbling of idle words contrary to
     reason, without president of any truly wise or learned, and
     justly suspected of all sensible men?

In the early part of the seventeenth century, many diseases were
regarded in the light of magic seizures. Therefore they were not
amenable to treatment by _materia medica_. More could be accomplished
through the patient's faith and imagination.

"Physicians," wrote the German scholar, Valentine Schindler, "do not
discover and learn everything that they ought to know, in the
universities; they have often to go to old wives, gypsies, masters of
the Black Art, old peasant-folk, and learn from them. For these people
have more knowledge of such things, than all the colleges and

The influence of technical language on the uneducated patient is
exemplified in the effect produced on his mind by the mention of Latin
names. The writer was impressed with this fact while engaged in
dispensary practice some years ago. Such a patient, affected with mumps,
for example, appears to experience a certain satisfaction, and is apt
to be somewhat puffed up mentally as well as physically, when he learns
that his ailment is _Cynanche Parotidæa_; and he expects a prescription
commensurate with its importance.

The effective force of a verbal charm is increased by the rhythmic flow
of its words; the solemn recitation or murmuring of mystic phrases.
"Hence," said Jacob Grimm, "all that is strong in the speech wielded by
priest, physician, or magician is allied to the forms of poetry."[44:1]
In many a myth and fairy-tale, a cabalistic metrical verse pronounced by
the hero causes wonderful results.[44:2]

As already intimated, the manner of reciting prayers, charms, and
formulas was anciently deemed to be of more moment than the meaning of
their constituent words. In Assyria, for example, healing-spells were
repeated in a "low, gurgling monotone"; and in Egypt the magical force
of incantations was largely due, in the popular mind, to their frequent
repetition in a pleasing tone of voice.[44:3] The temper of mind which
prompts words of good cheer, is in itself a healing charm of no mean
value. For we read in the Book of Proverbs: "A merry heart doeth good
like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones."[44:4]

In this progressive age, when men of science are seeking remedies
against the so-called "dust nuisance," which at times renders walking in
our streets a penance, it may not be amiss to call to mind an ancient
spell for the removal of particles of dust or cinders from the eyes.
This consisted in chanting the ninety-first psalm thrice over water,
which was then used as a lotion for the eye.[45:1]

Popular faith in spells as therapeutic agents, an inheritance from
Chaldea and Egypt, was still strong even at the dawn of modern times;
and the force of medical charms was supplemented by various magic rites
and by the ceremonial preparation of medicines.[45:2] The use of
curative spells and characts comes within the province of white magic,
which is harmless; so called to distinguish it from black magic, or the
black art, which involves a compact with the Evil One. In rude ages the
practice of the former as a means of healing, may be said to have found
its justification in its philanthropic purpose.

According to Mungo Park, the natives of all portions of the Dark
Continent are accustomed to wear written charms, called _saphies_,
_grigris_, or fetiches, whose chief use is the warding-off or cure of
disease. Although not themselves followers of Mohammed, the savages
have entire confidence in these charms, which are supplied by Moslem
priests; but their confidence is based upon the supposed magic of the
writing, irrespective of its religious meaning.[46:1] The failure of a
charm to perform a cure is attributed to the ingratitude and fickleness
of the spirits.[46:2] In Algeria it is not an uncommon experience of
physicians who have prescribed for native patients, to meet such an one
some days after, with the prescription either suspended from his neck,
or carefully hidden in his garments.[46:3] Evidently the sole idea of
such a patient, in applying for advice, was to obtain a written formula
to serve as an amulet. The Moslems of Arabia and Persia have a custom of
applying to any stranger, preferably a European, for their protective
written charms, which are the more highly esteemed if totally
unintelligible to themselves. Such a practice, however, is not
sanctioned by orthodox followers of the Prophet, who is said to have
justified the use of healing-spells only upon condition that the
inscribed words should be none other than the names of God, and of the
good angels and _jinn_.[46:4]

The Hon. John Abercromby, in the second volume of his work entitled
"Pre- and Proto-historic Finns,"[46:5] gives a vast number of the magic
songs, or charms, of Finland, among which are to be found a collection
of formulas, under the caption, "words of healing power," which were
recited for the cure of physical ailments of every description. For the
purpose of comparison the author has also grouped together many
specimens of spells and incantations in vogue among the neighboring
peoples, as the Swedes, Slavs, and Lithuanians. He is of the opinion
that most of the magical Finnish songs were composed since the twelfth
century, and in the transition period, before Christianity had fully
taken the place of paganism. During this period the recitation of
metrical charms was no longer restricted to the skilled magician, but
became popular in every Finnish household. Hence apparently the gradual
evolution of a mass of incantations for use in every conceivable
exigency or emergency of life. A chief feature of many of these medical
charms consists in vituperation and personal abuse of the particular
spirit of sickness addressed.

The peasants of Greece have long been addicted to the use of charms for
the cure of various ailments. Following is the translation of a spell
against colic which is in vogue amongst them: "Good is the householder,
wicked is the housewife; she cooks beans, she prepares oil,
vine-cuttings for a bed, stones for a pillow; flee pain, flee colic;
Christ drive thee hence with his silver sword and his golden hand."
According to Dr. N. G. Polites, this charm originated in a tradition
that Christ when on earth begged a night's lodging at a house, the
mistress whereof was ill-tempered and unkind to the poor, while her
husband was hospitably disposed toward needy wayfarers. The husband
being absent, his wife bade Christ take shelter in the barn, and later
provided him with some beans for supper, while she and the master of the
house fared more sumptuously. In the night the woman had a severe colic,
which the usual domestic remedies failed to relieve; and her husband
appealed to the poor wayfarer, who at once exorcised the demon of

Written charms were usually worn exposed to view, in order that evil
spirits might see them and read their inscriptions. In course of time
they developed into ornaments. Wealthy Hebrews were wont to carry
amulets made of gold, silver, bronze, and precious stones; while their
poorer brethren were contented with modest bits of parchment, woolen
cloth, or lace.[48:2] In eastern countries a common variety of charm
consists of a small piece of paper or skin, duly inscribed. Manifold are
the virtues ascribed to such a charm! It may enable the bearer to find
hidden treasure, to win the favor of a man or woman, or to recover a
runaway wife.[48:3]

A written medical prescription of to-day, after having been filled and
copied by a druggist, is usually considered to have fulfilled its
mission, but the annals of popular medicine afford ample evidence of the
narrowness of such a view! The practice of swallowing the paper whereon
a recipe is written, as a veritable charm-formula, is of great
antiquity, and is still in vogue in many lands. The idea involved in
this singular custom is of course a superstitious regard for writing as
a magical curative.

In endeavoring to trace the origins of this and other analogous usages,
one must study the records of the most ancient civilizations. Among
various African tribes, written spells, called _saphies_, are commonly
used as medicines by the native wizards, who write a prayer on a piece
of wood, wash it off with water, and cause the patient to drink the
solution.[49:1] Mungo Park, while in West Africa, was once asked by his
landlord, a Bambarra native, to prepare such a charm, the latter
proffering his writing-board for the purpose. The traveller complied,
and the negro, while repeating a prayer, washed the writing off with
water, drank the mixture, and then licked the board dry, in his anxiety
to derive the greatest possible benefit from the writing.[49:2]

The eating of the paper on which a prescription has been written is
still a common expedient for the cure of disease in Tibet, where the
Lamas use written spells, known as "edible letters."[50:1] The paper
containing cabalistic words and symbols, taken internally, constitutes
the remedy, and through its influence on the imagination is probably
more beneficial to the patient than are most of the so-called "bitters"
and patent medicines of the present day.

So likewise, when a Chinese physician cannot procure the drugs which he
desires in a particular case, he writes the names of these drugs on a
piece of paper, which the patient is expected to eat;[50:2] and this
mode of treatment is considered quite as satisfactory as the swallowing
of the medicine itself. Sometimes a charm is burned over a cup of water,
and the ashes stirred in, and drunk by the patient, while in other cases
it is pasted upon the part of the body affected.[50:3]

In eastern countries generally, remedial qualities are ascribed to water
drunk out of a cup or bowl, whose inner surface is inscribed with
religious or mystical verses; and specimens of such drinking-vessels
have been unearthed in Babylonia within recent years. The magic
medicine-bowls, still used in the Orient, usually bear inscriptions from
the Koran.[50:4] In Flora Annie Steel's tale of the Indian Mutiny of
1857, "On the Face of the Waters" (p. 293), we read of a native who was
treated for a cut over the eye by being dosed with paper pills inscribed
with the name of Providence.

Dr. John Brown of Edinburgh (1810-1882) reported the case of a laboring
man affected with colic, for whom he prescribed some medicine, directing
him to "take it and return in a fortnight," assuring him that he would
soon be quite well. At the appointed time the man returned, entirely
relieved and jubilant. The doctor was gratified at the manifest
improvement in his patient's condition, and asked to see the
prescription which he had given him; whereupon the man explained that he
had "taken" it, as he had understood the directions, by swallowing the

In Egypt, at the present time, faith in the power of written charms is
generally prevalent, and forms one of the most characteristic beliefs of
the people of that country.

E. W. Lane, in "Modern Egyptians," says that the composition of these
characts is founded chiefly upon magic, and devolves usually upon the
village schoolmasters. They consist of verses from the Koran, and "names
of God, together with those of angels, genii, prophets, or eminent
saints, intermixed with combinations of minerals, and with diagrams, all
of which are supposed to have great secret virtues."

One of the most popular Egyptian methods of charming away disease is
similar to a practice already mentioned as in use among less civilized

The sacred texts are inscribed on the inner surfaces of earthenware
bowls, in which water is stirred until the writing is washed off. Then
the infusion is drunk by the patient, and without doubt the subsequent
benefit is exactly commensurate with the strength of his faith in the


[30:1] Joseph Addison, _On the pleasures of the Imagination_.

[31:1] _The Jewish Encyclopædia._

[31:2] G. Maspero, _The Dawn of Civilization_, p. 214.

[32:1] Larousse, _Dictionnaire_, art. "Charme."

[32:2] Matthew, viii, 8, 13, 16.

[33:1] _Encyclopædia Biblica_, art. "Medicine," T. K. Cheyne and J.
Sutherland Black.

[33:2] Elworthy, _The Evil Eye_, p. 400.

[33:3] Elias Owen, _Welsh Folklore_, p. 245.

[34:1] Robley Dunglison, _Medical Dictionary_, p. 202.

[35:1] _Notes and Queries_, 4th series, vol. vii, p. 443. For other
versions of this charm see W. G. Black, _Folk-Medicine_, p. 82;
Pettigrew, _Medical Superstitions_, p. 57.

[35:2] Book i, ch. 13.

[36:1] _Notes and Queries_, 5th Series, vol. i, pp. 325, 375.

[37:1] _Boston Transcript_, May 2, 1900.

[37:2] London, 1652, p. 231.

[37:3] Monier-Williams, _Religious Thought in India_, p. 197.

[38:1] C. W. King, _Early Christian Numismatics_, p. 179.

[38:2] _Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_, Washington, D. C.,
1887-8, p. 453.

[38:3] R. M. Lawrence, _The Magic of the Horse-Shoe_, p. 300.

[39:1] _Religions of Primitive Peoples_, p. 93.

[39:2] _A Discourse concerning the Nature and Substance of Devils and
Spirits_, p. 70; 1665.

[39:3] M'Clintock and Strong, _Cyclopædia_, art. "Incantation."

[39:4] D. G. Brinton, _Religions of Primitive Peoples_, p. 91.

[40:1] Lady Wilde, _Ancient Charms, Cures, and Usages of Ireland_.

[41:1] Dr. Hugo Magnus, _Superstition in Medicine_.

[41:2] Otto A. Wall, M.D., _The Prescription_.

[42:1] H. D. Traill, _Social England_, vol. ii, p. 112.

[42:2] George F. Fort, _Medical Economy of the Middle Ages_, p. 195.

[42:3] Vol. iii, p. 322.

[43:1] Johannes Janssen, _History of the German People at the Close of
the Middle Ages_.

[44:1] _Teutonic Mythology_, vol. iii, p. 1223.

[44:2] Andrew Lang, _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, vol. i, p. 101.

[44:3] T. Witton Davies, _Magic, Divination, and Demonology_, p. 127.

[44:4] Proverbs, xvii, v. 22.

[45:1] London _Spectator_.

[45:2] M'Clintock and Strong, art. "Incantation."

[46:1] _Travels_, p. 56.

[46:2] Mary H. Kingsley, _Travels in West Africa_, p. 304.

[46:3] _Mélusine_, t. ix, p. 132; 1898.

[46:4] Thomas Patrick Hughes, _A Dictionary of Islam_, art. "Da'wah."

[46:5] London, 1898.

[48:1] _Academy_, vol. xxxi, p. 291; 1887.

[48:2] Michael L. Rodkinson, _History of Amulets, Charms, and

[48:3] George H. Bratley, _The Power of Gems and Charms_.

[49:1] Sir John Lubbock, _The Origin of Civilization_.

[49:2] _Travels_, vol. i, p. 357.

[50:1] L. Austin Waddell, _The Buddhism of Tibet_, p. 401.

[50:2] Edward Berdoe, _Origin and Growth of the Healing Art_, p. 133.

[50:3] Hampton C. Du Bose, _The Dragon, Image and Demon_, p. 407.

[50:4] Austen H. Layard, _Nineveh and Babylon_, p. 417.



At the present day the remarkable benefit which often results from
hygienic and mental influences combined is well shown in the so-called
Kneipp cure, originated by Sebastian Kneipp, formerly parish priest of
Wörishofen in Bavaria. Briefly, its chief principles are simple diet,
the application of water by means of wet sheets, douches, hose, or
watering-pots; the covering of the wet body with dry underwear; and
stimulation of the imagination, together with physical invigoration, by
long walks afield barefoot, or with sandals; and lastly, music and
mental diversions. In a word, a modernized Esculapian treatment.

The remedial virtue of verbal charms and incantations is derived from
the human imagination, and upon this principle is founded the art of
mental therapeutics. The idea of a cure being formed in the mind reacts
favorably on the bodily functions, and thus are to be explained the
successful results oftentimes effected under the methods known as
Christian Science, Mind Cure, and Faith Cure.[53:1] Mrs. Mary Baker
Eddy, the founder of the first-named system, avows that Christian
Healing places no faith in hygiene or medicines, but reposes all trust
in mind, divinely directed.[54:1] She declares that the subconscious
mind of an individual is the only agent which can produce an effect upon
his body.[54:2] There is undoubtedly much that is good in the doctrines
of the Christian Scientists; but a fatal mistake therein is their
contempt for skilled medical advice in sickness. God has placed within
our reach certain remedies for the relief or cure of many bodily
ailments; and whoever fails to provide such remedies for those dependent
upon him, when the latter are seriously ill, is thereby wickedly
negligent. Mental influence is oftentimes extremely valuable, but it
cannot always be an efficient substitute for opium or quinine, when
prescribed by a competent practitioner. We read in Ecclesiasticus,
XXXVIII, 4, 10, 12: "The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth,
and he that is wise will not abhor them. . . . My son, in thy sickness
be not negligent, but pray unto the Lord, and He will make thee
whole. . . . Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created
him. Let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him."

In treatises on suggestive therapeutics stress is laid upon the
exaltation of the imaginative faculty induced by hypnotism; and it is
well known that during induced sleep this faculty accepts as real
impressions which would not pass muster if inspected by the critical
eye of the waking intelligence. The whole secret of cures alleged to
have been wrought by animal magnetism or mesmerism, may be explained by
mental influence; and so likewise those affected by metallic tractors,
anodyne necklaces, and a host of other devices. We have indeed an
intelligible explanation of the rationale of many therapeutic methods in
vogue at different periods of the world's history.

But, to recur to Christian Science, or Eddyism, it is certain that the
alleged cures of organic affections, by the methods of that system, are
not genuine. The many cases benefited by those methods have been and are
such as are amenable to mental healing, of whatever kind. A writer in
the "American Medical Quarterly," January, 1900, avers that Eddyism is
an intellectual distemper, of a contagious character; that it is
epidemic in this country, and that, in its causation, its rise and
spread, it presents a close analogy to the great epidemics of history.

The ancient magicians, in their various methods of treating the sick,
strove ever after sensational means of healing, and their example has
been closely followed by the quacks of every succeeding age. They failed
to appreciate that a tablet of powdered biscuit, discreetly
administered, may be as beneficial therapeutically as any relic of a
holy saint, because the healing force in either case is wholly mental,
and resides in the patient. The exceptional notoriety achieved by
Paracelsus was largely due to his shrewdness in pandering to the love of
the marvellous, while utilizing also _bona-fide materia medica_.

Indeed, however strong may have been the belief in magical agencies as
healing factors, the most eminent early practitioners were ever ready to
avail themselves of material remedies. For they maintained that the
actions of the physician should not be hampered by metaphysical
considerations.[56:1] Not only did the magicians employ precious stones
and metals as remedies, on account of their intrinsic value and the
popular belief in their virtues, but they also prescribed the most
loathsome and repulsive substances. The early pharmacopœias and the
works of noted charlatans, together with the annals of folk-medicine,
afford ample evidence of this fact.

Apropos of this subject, we quote from a lecture given by Dr. Richard
Cabot at the Harvard Medical School, February 13, 1909:--

     In one of our great hospitals here it has been the custom for
     a long time to use for treatment by suggestion a tuning-fork
     which is known at that hospital as a magnet. It is not a
     magnet; it is merely an ordinary, plain, rather large
     tuning-fork. But people have, as you know, a very curious
     superstition about the action of magnets, and believing this
     tuning-fork to be a magnet, they attribute occult and
     wonderful powers to it. When placed upon a supposedly
     paralyzed limb or on the throat of a person who thinks he
     cannot speak, it has wonderful powers just because it is
     supposed to be a magnet, when in fact it is a tuning-fork. I
     remonstrated once with the gentleman who uses this tuning-fork
     because, so far as I could see, it was a lie, like all other
     forms of quackery; but he said, "Why, no, it does a great deal
     of good; it cures the patients." I replied that I had no doubt
     of that. So does skunk oil and Omega oil; so does the magic
     handkerchief which Francis Truth has touched; so does the
     magic ring, the electric belt, and the porous plaster. They
     all cure, but they all deceive people, in so far as one
     supposes that something is going on which is not revealed,
     something like imaginary electricity in the ring, something
     like the supposed medical activity in the porous plaster. In
     another great hospital in this city electricity is used in the
     same way. Electricity has medical action of course, in some
     cases, but it is used also in a great number of cases where it
     is not supposed to have any medical action because it has so
     strong a psychical action. When one sees a brass instrument
     that looks like a trident approaching one's body, and feels
     long crackling sparks shoot out of its prongs against one's
     body, it naturally makes a very strong impression upon one's

How psychological methods may be employed in everyday life was the
subject of an address by Professor Hugo Münsterberg, of Harvard
University, before the Commercial Club of Chicago, December 13, 1908.
The success of these methods in the field of medicine is attested by
the constantly increasing number of cures of nervous and other
affections. "There is no magic fluid," he said, "no mysterious power
afloat; it is just a state of mind. Every one can suggest something to
every one else. It is the idea that is strong enough to overcome the
idea in another mind that produces the effects wondered at. Hypnotism is
only reënforced suggestion. It is a tool which no physician should be

Psychological knowledge, according to the same authority,[58:1] is
gradually leaking into the world of medicine. The power of suggestion,
with its varied methods, is slowly becoming a most important therapeutic
agent in the hands of reputable practitioners. The time has arrived when
medical students, about to enter upon professional life, should be
equipped with a knowledge of scientific psychology. Physicians do not
now deserve sympathy, if they are dumfounded when quacks and pretenders
are successful where their own attempts at curing have failed. It is
evident, however, that reform in this field is at hand, and it may be
admitted that even those knights-errant have helped, after many
centuries, to direct the public interest to the paramount importance of
psychology in medicine.

We may cite the invocations of the Egyptian priests to obtain a cure
from each god for those submitted to his influence; the magic formulas,
which taught the use of herbs against disease; the medicine of
Esculapius's descendants, the Asclepiads, an order of Greek physicians,
who practised medicine under the reputed inspiration of that deity, and
were bound by oath not to reveal the secrets of their art. Is it
necessary to speak of the king's touch, of the miraculous cures at the
tomb of the French ascetic priest, François Paris (1690-1727), and
especially of Lourdes, and other noted pilgrimage resorts? Many
professional healers may be mentioned, "of whom some were honest and
believed themselves to be endowed with supernatural powers like certain
magnetisers, and who used suggestion without knowing it, as for example
the Irishman Greatrakes (1628-1700), the German priest Gassner
(1727-1779), and many others whose fame does not extend beyond the
region where they exercised their mysterious power."[59:1]

In the same category, as regards their _modus operandi_, may be classed
medical charms and healing-spells. These serve also to inspire hope, or
the expectation of cure, in the patient's mind, and thus act as tonics;
they may also be useful as a means of diverting the mind of a
hypochondriac, and changing the current of his thoughts, in which sense
they may be classed as mental alteratives.

Allusion has been made to the magical spells, of ancient repute among
the Hindus, which are known as _mantras_. They are available for sending
an evil spirit into a man, and for driving it out; for inspiring love or
hatred; and for causing disease or curing it. The Hindus do not repose
confidence in a physician, unless he knows, or assumes to know, the
proper mantra for the cure of any ailment. And this is the reason why
European practitioners, who are not addicted to the use of spells, do
not find favor among them. The medical men who pretend to be versed in
occult lore, whether charlatans or magicians, are ready to furnish
suitable mantras at short notice, whether for healing, for the recovery
of stolen property, or for any other conceivable purpose.[60:1] The
ethics of quackery are probably on the same plane everywhere; and not
only are the spells forthcoming, if sufficient compensation be assured,
but they are also more or less effective, through the power of
suggestion, as therapeutic agents.

In nervous affections, where the imagination is especially active,
amulets and healing-spells exert their maximum effect.[60:2] No one,
however cultured or learned, is wholly unsusceptible to the physical
influence of this faculty of the mind; and it has been well said that
everybody would probably be benefited by the occasional administration
of a bread-pill at the hand of a trusted medical adviser.[61:1] But
faith on the patient's part is essential. Pettigrew, in his work on
"Medical Superstitions," illustrates this by an example whose pertinence
is not lessened by a dash of humor. A physician, who numbered among his
patients his own father and his wife's mother, was asked why his
treatment in the former case had been more successful than in the
latter. His reply was that his mother-in-law had not as much confidence
in him as his father had, and therefore had failed to receive as much
benefit. Similarly, if a verbal charm is to cure a physical ailment, the
patient must first form a mental conception of the cure, and believe in
the charm's efficacy. But faith in healing-spells of human devising is
sometimes cruelly misplaced, as is shown in the following anecdote,
taken from the writings of Godescalc de Rozemonde, a Belgian theologian.
A woman, suffering from a painful affection of the eyes, applied to a
student for a magical writing to charm away the trouble, and promised
him a new coat as a recompense. The student, nothing loath, wrote a
sentence on a piece of paper, which he rolled in some rags and gave to
the woman, telling her to carry the charm always about her, and on no
account to read the writing. The woman gladly complied, was cured of her
eye-trouble, and loaned the charm to another woman, similarly affected,
who also soon experienced relief. Thereupon a natural curiosity
prompted them to examine the mystic spell, and this is what they read:
"May the Devil pluck out thine eyes, and replace them with mud!"

In "Folk-Lore," for September, 1900, there is an interesting article,
giving an account of popular beliefs current in a remote village of
Wiltshire, England, where medicines are usually regarded as charms. A
man who had pleurisy was told by his doctor to apply a plaster to his
chest. On the doctor's next visit, he was informed that his patient was
much better and that the plaster had given great relief. Failing,
however, on examination of the man's chest, to find any sign of
counter-irritation of the skin, he was somewhat puzzled; but he soon
learned from the mistress of the house, that having no _chest_ at hand,
she had clapped the plaster on a large box in the corner of the

Dr. Edward Jorden (1569-1632), an English physician, wrote regarding the
oftentimes successful results of treatment by means of incantations, and
leechdoms or medical formulas, that these measures have no inherent
supernatural virtue; but in the words of Avicenna, "the confidence of
the patient in the means used is oftentimes more available to cure
diseases than all other remedies whatsoever."

From the beginning of time, the fortune-teller, the sorcerer, the
interpreter of dreams, the charlatan, the wild medicine-man, the
educated physician, the mesmerist, and the hypnotist, have made use of
the patient's imagination, to help them in their work. They have all
recognized the potency and availability of that force.[63:1]

Modern psychology explains the healing force of verbal charms as being
due to the power of suggestion. For these suggest the idea of a cure to
the subjective mind, which controls the bodily functions and conditions.
Robert Burton, in the "Anatomy of Melancholy," said in reference to this

     All the world knows there is no vertue in charms; but a strong
     conceit and opinion alone, which forceth a motion of the
     humours, spirits and blood, which takes away the cause of the
     malady from the parts affected. The like we may say of the
     magical effects, superstitious cures, and such as are done by
     mountebanks and wizards. . . . Imagination is the _medium
     deferens_ of Passions, by whose means they work and produce
     many times prodigious effects.

To give joy to the sick, said the Latin historian Cassiodorus, is
natural healing; for, once make your patient cheerful, and his cure is
accomplished. In like vein is an aphorism of Celsus: It is the mark of a
skilled practitioner to sit awhile by the bedside, with a blithe

William Ramesey, M.D., in "Elminthologia" (1668), remarks that fancy
doth not only cause but also as easily cureth divers diseases. To this
agency may be properly referred many alleged magical and juggling cures,
attributed to saints, images, relics, holy waters, avemarys,
benedictions, charms, characters, and sigils of the planets. All such
cures, wrote this author, are to be ascribed to the force of the

Written charms against toothache in Christian lands have usually a
marked family resemblance; the theme being the same, but the number of
variants legion. Saint Peter is represented as afflicted with the
toothache, and sitting on a marble stone by the wayside. Our Lord passes
by, and cures him by a few spoken words. The following quaintly
illiterate version of this spell was in vogue in the north of Scotland
within recent years: "Petter was laying his head upon a marrable ston,
weping, and Christ came by and said: 'What else [ails] thou, Petter?'
Petter answered: 'Lord God, my twoth.' 'Raise thou, Petter, and be
healed.' And whosoever shall carry these lines in My Name, shall never
feel the twothick."[64:1]

The following is a translation of a Welsh charm against toothache:

"As Peter was sitting alone on a marble stone, Christ came to him and
said: 'Peter, what is the matter with you?' 'The toothache, my Lord
God.' 'Arise, Peter, and be free'; And every man and woman will be
cured of the toothache, who shall believe these words. I do this in the
name of God."[65:1]

Another version of this charm is popular in Newfoundland. The inscribed
paper, enclosed in a little bag, is hung around the neck of the
afflicted person, from whom its contents are carefully concealed. "I've
seed it written, a feller was sitten on a marvel stone, and our Lord
came by; and he said to him, 'What's the matter with thee, my man?' And
he replied, 'Got the toothache, Marster.' Then said our Lord, 'Follow
Me, and thee shall have no more toothache.'"[65:2]

Still another form of this spell is in use among Lancashire peasants.
The paper, inscribed as follows, is stitched inside the clothing: "Ass
Sant Petter sat at the geats of Jerusalm, our Blessed Lord and Sevour
Jesus Christ Passed by, and sead, 'What eleth thee?' He sead, 'Lord, my
teeth ecketh.' Hee said, 'Arise and follow mee, and thy teeth shall
never eake eney mour.'                        Fiat + Fiat + Fiat."[65:3]

Every one is aware that it is a common experience to have an aversion
for certain articles of food, and to be affected unpleasantly by the
mere thought of them. Whereas, if a person partakes of such food
without knowledge of it, no ill effects may ensue. The sense of taste is
affected by the imagination. A man sent the cream from the
breakfast-table because it tasted sour, but found it sweet when it was
brought back by a servant, supposing it to be a fresh supply. A laxative
medicine may produce sleep, in the belief that it is an opiate; and
contrariwise, an anodyne may act as a purgative, if the patient believes
that it was so intended.[66:1] Dr. Robert T. Edes, in "Mind Cures from
the Standpoint of the General Practitioner," remarks that mental action,
whether intellectual or emotional, has little or no effect upon certain
physiological or pathological processes. Fever, for example, which is
such an important symptom of various acute diseases, does not appear to
be influenced by the imagination. Typhoid fever runs its course, and is
not directly amenable to treatment by suggestion; but nevertheless hope,
courage, and an equable mental condition do undoubtedly assist the _vis
medicatrix naturæ_. The confident expectation of a cure is a powerful
factor in bringing it about, _doing that which no medical treatment can

In recent works on suggestive therapeutics, the curative power of the
imagination is emphasized and reiterated. "It is not the faith itself
which cures, but faith sets into activity those powers and forces which
the unconscious mind possesses over the body, both to cause disease and
to cure it."[67:1]

Reference has been made to a certain similitude of religion and
superstition. Oftentimes there appears to exist also a remarkable
affinity between superstition and rheumatism, for these two are wont to
flourish together, as in days of yore. Many a man of intelligence and
education has been known to conceal a horse-chestnut in his pocket as an
anti-rheumatic charm. A highly respected citizen, of undoubted sanity,
was heard to remark that, were he to forget to carry the chestnut which
had reposed in his waistcoat pocket for more than twenty years, he
should promptly have a recurrence of his ailment.[67:2]

Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., in referring to the systematic excitement of a
definite expectation or hope, in regard to the beneficial action of
totally inert substances, relates that a French physician, M. Lisle,
especially recognized the efficiency of the imagination as a power in
therapeutics. He therefore adopted the method of treating divers
ailments by prescribing bread-pills, covered with silver leaf, and
labelled _pilules argentées anti-nerveuses_. These pills were eagerly
taken by his patients, and the results were highly satisfactory.

We may here appropriately cite one of several cases reported in the
"British and Foreign Medical Review," January, 1847. A naval officer had
suffered for some years from violent attacks of cramp in the stomach. He
had tried almost all the remedies usually recommended for the relief of
this troublesome affection. For a short time bismuth had been
prescribed, with good results. The attacks came on about once in three
weeks, or from that to a month, unless when any unusual exposure brought
them on more frequently. Although the bismuth was continued in large
doses, it soon lost its effect. Sedatives were given, but the relief
afforded by these was only partial, while their effect on the general
system was evidently very prejudicial. On one occasion, while suffering
from the effect of some preparation of opium, given for the relief of
these spasms, he was told that on the next attack he would be given a
remedy which was generally believed to be most effective, but which was
rarely used, owing to its dangerous qualities. Notwithstanding these, it
should be tried, provided he gave his assent. Accordingly, on the next
attack, a powder containing four grains of _ground biscuit_ was
administered every seven minutes, while the greatest anxiety was
expressed, within the patient's hearing, lest too much be given. The
fourth dose caused an entire cessation of pain, whereas half-drachm
doses of bismuth had never procured the same relief in less than three
hours. Four times did the same kind of attack recur, and four times was
it met by the same remedy, and with like success! Dr. Tuke remarks that
the influence of the mind upon the body, which is ever powerful in
health, is equally powerful in disease, and this influence is
exceedingly beneficial in aiding the _vis medicatrix_, and opposing the
_vis vitiatrix naturæ_.

He dwells upon the remarkable power exerted by the mind "upon any organ
or tissue to which the attention is directed, to the exclusion of other
ideas, the mind gradually passing into a state in which, at the desire
of the operator, portions of the nervous system can be exalted in a
remarkable degree, and others proportionately depressed; and thus the
vascularity, innervation and function of an organ or tissue can be
regulated and modified according to the locality and nature of the
disorder. The psychical element in the various methods comprised under
psycho-therapeutics, is greatly assisted by physical means, as gentle
friction, pointing, passes, _et cetera_."

At the siege of Breda, in the Netherlands, A. D. 1625, the Prince of
Orange, son of William the Silent, availed himself of the "force of
imagination" to cure his soldiers during a serious epidemic then
prevailing among them. He provided his army surgeons with small vials
containing a decoction of wormwood, camomile, and camphor. The troops
were informed that a rare and precious remedy had been obtained in the
East, with much difficulty and at great expense. Moreover, so great was
its potency, that two or three drops in a gallon of water formed a
mixture of wonderful therapeutic value. These statements, made with
great solemnity, deeply impressed the soldiers, and their expectation of
being cured was realized. For we are told that "they took the medicine
eagerly, and grew well rapidly."[70:1]

Thomas Fuller, in the "Holy State," book III, chapter 2, relates the
following, which he styles a merry example of the power of imagination
in relieving fatigue:

"A Gentleman, having led a company of children beyond their usuall
journey, they began to be weary, and joyntly cried to him to carry them;
which because of their multitude he could not do, but told them he would
provide them horses to ride on. Then cutting little wands out of the
hedge as nagges for them, and a great stake as a gelding for himself,
thus mounted, Phancie put metall into their legs, and they came
cheerfully home."

In his ward at the _Hôpital Andral_, in Paris, Dr. Mathieu had a large
number of tubercular patients. One morning, while making his rounds, he
lingered before one of them and remarked to the house physician and the
students who were with him:

     That there had just been discovered in Germany a specific for
     tuberculosis--namely, "antiphymose." Next day he again spoke
     of this antiphymose, and, in the hearing of the patients, as
     before, told of the wonderful results it yielded when employed
     in the treatment of tuberculosis. For a week the patients
     talked of nothing but that wonderful antiphymose; they
     couldn't understand why "the chief" didn't try the new drug.

     Their wishes were at last acceded to, and the experiments with
     antiphymose, which Dr. Mathieu said he had obtained from
     Germany, began. To judge of the action of that drug, which was
     injected under the skin, it was determined that the
     house-physician himself should take the temperature and
     register the weight of the consumptives under treatment.

     This was done, and soon it seemed evident that a powerful and
     highly beneficent medicine was at work. Under the influence of
     this new remedy, the patients' fever subsided and their weight
     increased. Some gained a kilogramme and a half, some two, and
     some even three kilogrammes. Meanwhile the cough ceased, and
     those who had been unable to touch food began to eat; those
     who had been unable to sleep now slept all night. And if, to
     complete the test, the injections of antiphymose were stopped,
     the fever returned and all the old symptoms reasserted
     themselves. The victims grew thin.

     Now this famous antiphymose, this marvellous drug procured
     from Germany, was nothing but water, ordinary water, but
     sterilized in Dr. Mathieu's laboratory! All that talk before
     the patients about the discovery and therapeutic virtue of
     antiphymose, all those little bluffs involved in the
     house-physician's taking the temperature and the weight of the
     patients, were simply a _mise-en-scène_ designed to create a
     sort of suggestion and to reënforce it as much as possible.
     And it was manifestly suggestion, and not the injections of
     pure water, that checked the fever, arrested the cough,
     diminished the expectoration, revived the appetite, and
     increased the weight.[72:1]

A simple experiment, with a view to proving that a patient is accessible
to auto-suggestion, is described by Professor Münsterberg. Some
interesting-looking apparatus, with a few metal rings, is fastened upon
his fingers, and connected with a battery and electric keys. The key is
then pushed down in view of the patient, who is instructed to indicate
the exact time when he begins to feel the electric current. The
sensation will probably shortly be felt in one of his fingers; whereupon
the physician can demonstrate to him that there was no connection in the
wires, and that the whole galvanic sensation was the result of

Joseph Jastrow, in "Fact and Fable in Psychology," remarks that the
modern forms of irregular healing present apt illustrations of occult
methods of treatment which were in vogue long ago. And chief among these
is the mental factor, whether utilized when the patient is awake or when
he is unconscious, as a curative principle. The legitimate recognition
of the importance of mental conditions and influences in therapeutics is
one of the results of the union of modern psychology and medicine.


[53:1] Thomas Jay Hudson, _The Law of Psychic Phenomena_, p. 23.

[54:1] _Christian Healing_, p. 14.

[54:2] _Ibid._, p. 7.

[56:1] Dr. Hugo Magnus, _Superstition in Medicine_.

[58:1] _McClure's Magazine_, November, 1909.

[59:1] H. Bernheim, M.D., _Suggestive Therapeutics_, p. 196.

[60:1] Larousse, tome x, p. 1104.

[60:2] Edward Berdoe, _The Healing Art_, p. 248.

[61:1] Reuben Post Halleck, _Psychology and Psychic Culture_, p. 166.

[63:1] Mark Twain, _Christian Science_, p. 34

[64:1] _Proceedings of the Society of Antiquarians of Scotland_, 3d
Series, vol. iii, p. 492. Edinburgh, 1893.

[65:1] _The Academy_, vol. xxxi, p. 258; 1887.

[65:2] _Journal of American Folk-Lore_, vol. viii, p. 287; 1895.

[65:3] John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson, _Lancashire Folk-Lore_.

[66:1] Alfred T. Schofield, M.D., _The Unconscious Mind_, p. 288.

[67:1] Alfred T. Schofield, M.D., _The Unconscious Mind_, p. 366.

[67:2] _Boston Herald_, February 20, 1909.

[70:1] Adams, _The Healing Art_, vol. i, p. 202.

[72:1] Dr. R. Romme, in _La Revue_.

[72:2] _Psychotherapy_, p. 213.



     _Malcolm._ Well; more anon.--Comes the king forth, I pray you?

     _Doctor._ Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls
     That stay his cure: their malady convinces
     The great assay of art; but at his touch--
     Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand--
     They presently amend.

     _Malcolm._            I thank you, doctor.      [_Exit Doctor._

     _Macduff._ What's the disease he means?

     _Malcolm._                              'Tis called the evil:
     A most miraculous work in this good king;
     Which often, since my here-remain in England,
     I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
     Himself best knows: but strangely visited people,
     All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
     The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
     Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
     Put on with holy prayers: and 'tis spoken,
     To the succeeding royalty he leaves
     The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
     He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
     And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
     That speak him full of grace.
                                        _Macbeth_, Act IV, Scene 3.

The healing of physical ailments by laying-on of hands was in vogue in
the earliest historic times. Certain Egyptian sculptures have been
found, illustrative of this practice, wherein one of the healer's hands
is represented as touching the patient's stomach, and the other as
applied to his back.[74:1]

From numerous references to the subject in Holy Writ, three are here
given: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by
prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the Presbytery."[74:2] "They
shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not
hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
"And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon
a few sick folk, and healed them."[74:3]

We are told that Asclepiades of Bithynia, a famous Grecian physician of
the second century B. C., who practised at Rome, systematically employed
the "induced trance" in the treatment of certain affections. Probably he
considered this method to conform with certain principles which he
advocated. For he professed that a physician's duty consisted in healing
his patients safely, speedily, and pleasantly; and as he met with
considerable success, his system was naturally very popular. It seems
certain that the physicians of old had no true conception of the
psychological and physiological principles of healing by laying on of
hands. It is probable, on the other hand, that they used this method in
a haphazard way, relying largely on the confidence of their patients
and the expectation of cure.[75:1]

Tacitus, in his "History," book IV, chapter 81, relates that at the
instance of the God Serapis, a citizen of Alexandria, who had a maimed
hand, entreated that he might be pressed by the foot and sole of
Vespasian (A. D. 9-79). The Emperor at first ridiculed the request, and
treated it with disdain. However, upon learning the opinion of
physicians that a cure might be effected through the application of a
healing power, and that it was the pleasure of the gods that he should
be the one to make the attempt, Vespasian, with a cheerful countenance,
did what was required of him, while the multitude that stood by awaited
the event in all the confidence of anticipated success. Immediately,
wrote the historian, the functions of the affected hand were restored.

The priests and magi of the ancient Druids possessed a wonderful faculty
of healing. They were able to hypnotize their patients by the waving of
a wand, and while under the spell of this procedure, the latter could
tell what was happening afar off, being vested with the power of

But the Druidic priests also effected cures by stroking with the hand,
and this method was thought to be of special efficacy in rheumatic
affections. They also employed other remedies which appealed to the
imagination, such as various mesmeric charms and incantations.[76:1]

John Timbs remarks in "Doctors and Patients," that any person who
claimed to possess the special gift of healing, was expected to
demonstrate his ability by means of the touch; for this was the
established method of testing the genuineness of any assumed or
pretended curative powers. Among Eastern nations at the present time,
European physicians are popularly credited with the faculty of healing
by manual stroking or passes, and the same ideas prevail in remote
communities of Great Britain. In the opinion of the author above
mentioned, the belief in the transmission of remedial virtues by the
hands is derived from the fact that these members are the usual agents
in the bestowal of material benefits, as, for example, in almsgiving to
the poor.

According to the popular view, royal personages were exalted above other
people, "because they possessed a distinctive excellence, imparted to
them at the hour of birth by the silent rulers of the night." In view of
this belief, it was natural that sovereigns should be invested with
extraordinary healing powers, and that they should be enabled, by a
touch of the hand, to communicate to others an infinitesimal portion of
the virtues with which they had been supernaturally endowed. These
virtues dwelt also in the king's robes. Hence arose the belief in the
miraculous power of healing by the imposition of royal hands.[77:1]

     There is nothing that can cure the King's Evil,
     But a Prince.
                                  JOHN LYLY (1553-1606), _Euphues_.

The treatment of scrofulous patients by the touch of a reigning
sovereign's hand is believed to have originated in France. According to
one authority, Clovis I (466-511) was the pioneer in employing this
method of cure. Louis I (778-840) is reported to have added thereto the
sign of the cross. The custom was in vogue during the reign of Philip I
(1051-1108), but that monarch is said to have forfeited the power of
healing, by reason of his immorality and profligacy.[77:2] During later
medieval times the Royal Touch appears to have fallen into disuse in
France, reappearing, however, in the reign of Louis IX (1215-1270), and
we have the authority of Laurentius, physician to Henry IV, that Francis
I, while a prisoner at Madrid after the battle of Pavia, in 1525, "cured
multitudes of people daily of the Evil."

The Royal Touch was a prerogative of the kings of England from before
the Norman Conquest until the beginning of the Hanoverian dynasty, a
period of nearly seven hundred years, and the custom affords a striking
example of the power of the imagination and of popular credulity. The
English annalist, Raphael Holinshed, wrote in 1577 concerning King
Edward the Confessor (1004-1066), that he had the gift of healing divers
ailments, and that "he used to help those that were vexed with the
King's Evil, and left that virtue, as it were, a portion of inheritance,
unto his successors, the kings of this realm."

But the earliest reference to this king as a healer by the touch was
made by the English historian, William of Malmesbury (1095-1143), in his
work, "De Gestis Regum Anglorum." The story, wrote Joseph Frank Payne,
M.D., in "English Medicine in the Anglo-Saxon Times," has the familiar
features of the legends and miracles of healing by the early
ecclesiastics, saints, or kings, as they are found in the histories and
chronicles from the time of Bede, the Venerable (673-735). But there
appears to be no real historical evidence that Edward the Confessor was
the first royal personage who healed by laying on of hands.

John Aubrey, in his "Miscellanies," asserts, on the authority of certain
English chronicles, that in the reign of King Henry III (1206-1272),
there lived a child who was endowed with the gift of healing, and whose
touch cured many diseases. Popular belief, as is well known, ascribed
this prerogative also to a seventh son.

Pettigrew, in his "Superstitions connected with the History and
Practice of Medicine and Surgery," said that Gilbertus Anglicus, the
author of a "Compendium Medicinæ," and the first practical writer on
medicine in Britain, who is believed to have flourished in the time of
Edward I (1239-1307), asserted that the custom of healing by the Royal
Touch was an ancient one.

In the opinion of William George Black ("Folk-Medicine," 1883), the
subject belongs rather to the domain of history than to that of popular

Thomas Bradwardin, an eminent English prelate of the fourteenth century,
and Archbishop of Canterbury, described the usage in question as already
long-established in his time; and Sir John Fortescue, Lord Chief Justice
of England, during Henry the Sixth's reign, declared that the English
kings had exercised this privilege from time immemorial.

In a small tract published by His Majesty's command, entitled, "The
Ceremonies for the Healing of them that be diseased with the King's
Evil, used in the Time of King Henry VII" (1456-1509), we find that it
was customary for the patients to kneel before the king during the
religious exercises, which were conducted by the chaplain. After laying
his hands upon them, the monarch crossed the affected portion of the
body of each patient with an "Angel of Gold Noble." This coin bore as
its device the archangel Michael, standing upon and piercing a dragon.
In later reigns it was replaced by a small golden or silver medal,
having the same emblem, and known as a _touch-piece_.

Andrew Borde, in his "Breviary of Health" (1547, the last year of the
reign of Henry VIII), in reference to the King's Evil, wrote as follows:
"For this matter, let every man make friendes to the Kynges Majestie,
for it doth perteyne to a Kynge to helpe this infirmitie, by the grace
of God, the which is geven to a king anoynted. But forasmuch as some men
doth judge divers times a fystle or a French pocke to be the king's
evill, in such matters it behoveth not a kynge to medle withall."

Queen Elizabeth, who reigned from 1558 to 1603, continued the practice,
as we are informed by her chaplain, Rev. Dr. William Tooker, who
published in 1590 a quarto volume on the subject, in which he claimed
that the power of healing by touch had been exercised by royal
personages from a very early period. He asserted that the Queen never
refused touching any one who applied for relief, if, upon examination by
her medical advisers, the applicant was found to be affected with the
King's Evil. The Queen was especially disposed to touch indigent
persons, who were unable to pay for private treatment. Although averse
to the practice, Queen Elizabeth continued to exercise the prerogative,
doubtless from philanthropic motives, and in deference to the popular
wish. William Clowes, an eminent contemporary practitioner, and chief
surgeon of Bartholomew's Hospital, London, in a monograph issued in
1602, wrote that the _struma_ or _evill_ was known to be "miraculously
healed by the sacred hands of the Queene's most royall majesty, even by
divine inspiration and wonderfull worke and power of God, above man's
skill, arte and expectation."[81:1]

When, in 1603, on the death of Elizabeth, James VI of Scotland became
King of England with the title of James I, he was sceptical regarding
the efficacy of the Royal Touch. The Scotch ministers, whom he brought
with him, urged its abandonment as a superstitious ceremony; while his
English counsellors recommended its continuance, maintaining that a
failure so to do would amount to a debasing of royalty. Unwillingly
therefore he followed the advice of the latter.

We do not find many references to the prevalence of this custom in the
reign of Charles I, but there is evidence that it was in use at that
time. This is apparent in certain extracts from State Papers, relating
chiefly to medicine and pharmacy, published under the direction of the
Master of the Rolls, as follows:

     April 10, 1631. John, Lord Poulett, sent a child, a little
     girl, to the King, to be touched for the King's Evil, and she
     has come home safely, and mends every day in health.

     January 15, 1632. Godre, Bois, a Frenchman, prisoner in the
     King's Bench, takes upon him to cure the King's Evil, and
     daily a great concourse of people flocked to him, although it
     is conceived that if such cures have been, it is rather by
     sorcery and incantation than by any skill he has in physic.
     _Endorsed:_ The Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench is to
     call him for examination, to be indicted for cosenage.

     June 7, 1632. Sir Thomas Richardson, Lord Chief Justice of the
     King's Bench, to the Council, thinks there is not sufficient
     evidence to convict Bois Gaudre of cosenage or sorcery, but
     thinks he has committed a contempt worth punishment, in taking
     upon him to cure the King's Evil. He has imprisoned him, of
     which he complains bitterly.

     June 7, 1632. Examination of James Philip Gaudre, Knight of
     St. Lazare, in France. Is a Frenchman, and has been in England
     for seven years, chiefly at Sir Thomas Wolseley's house, whose
     daughter he married, until two years past, he was arrested for
     debt. By his experience in surgery, has recovered many poor
     persons of the King's Evil, some before His Majesty touched
     them, and some after. Never made any benefit by his skill,
     other than sometimes those whom he had done good to would give
     him a Capon, or small sums paid by him for herbs and other
     things. Used his skill often in France, and cured many. Did
     not cure any in England until Midsummer last, when a poor man,
     who had but one son, who was sick of that disease, made moan
     to him, and he cured him. Thinks that by reason he is the
     youngest of seven sons, he performs that cure with better
     success than others, except the King. Has no skill in sorcery,
     witchcraft, or enchantment, nor ever used any such

The ceremony of the Royal Touch reached its height of popularity during
the reign of Charles II (1630-1685). From the "Diary of John Evelyn," we
learn that His Majesty began to touch for the King's Evil, July 6, 1660.
The King sat in state, attended by the surgeons and the Lord
Chamberlain. The opening prayers and the Gospel having been read, the
patients knelt on the steps of the throne, and were stroked on either
cheek by the King's hand, the chaplain saying: "He put his hands upon
them and healed them." Then the King hung a gold "angel" around the neck
of each one. On March 28, 1684, so great was the concourse of people,
with their children, anxious to be cured, that six or seven were crushed
to death "by pressing at the Chirurgeon's door for tickets."

Dr. Richard Wiseman, favorite surgeon of Charles II, wrote that a belief
in the Royal Touch was evidently a party tenet. It was therefore
encouraged by the sovereign, and upheld by all who were disposed to
please the Court. In commenting on the alleged efficacy of this
treatment, Dr. Wiseman expressed his conviction that the imagination of
the patient was doubtless powerfully affected by the magnificence and
splendor of the ceremony. Failure to receive benefit was ascribed to
lack of faith. It was said that Charles once handled a scrofulous Quaker
with such vigor, that he made him a healthy man and a sound Churchman in
a moment.[83:1]

Women quacks were very numerous at this period, and throve exceedingly.
Their resoluteness in thrusting their ignorant pretensions upon the
public, gave evidence of the same dogged pertinacity which characterizes
the modern suffragettes in their fanatical efforts to obtain redress for
alleged wrongs.

Thus the psychic healing forces are ever potent, so long as the patient
has faith in the treatment employed.

Dr. John Browne, a surgeon in ordinary to Charles II, published a
treatise entitled "Charisma Basilicon, or the royal gift of healing
strumas, or king's-evil swellings, by contact or imposition of the
sacred hands of our kings of England and France, given them at their

The elaborate ceremonies and the presentation of gold pieces were
regarded by the author as evidences of the great piety, charity, and
humility of the sovereign. He comments moreover on the admirable results
of this treatment among people of many nationalities.

     None ever hitherto mist thereof, wrote he, unless their little
     faith and incredulity starved their merits, or they received
     his gracious hand for curing another disease, which was not
     really allowed to be cured by him; and as bright evidences
     hereof, I have presumed to offer that some have immediately
     upon the very touch been cured; others not so easily, till the
     favour of a second repetition thereof.

     Some also, losing their gold, their diseases have seized them
     afresh, and no sooner have these obtained a second touch and
     new gold, but their diseases have been seen to vanish, as
     being afraid of his majestie's presence.[85:1]

Of the vast numbers of patients who repaired to the healing receptions
of Charles II, doubtless many were attracted by curiosity, and others by
the desire for gold.

In the Parliamentary Journal for July 2-9, 1660, it was stated that the
kingdom having been for a long time troubled with the evil, by reason of
His Majesty's absence, great numbers have lately flocked for cure.

     His sacred majesty, on Monday last, touched 250, in the
     banquetting house; among whom, when his majesty was delivering
     the gold, one shuffled himself in, out of an hope of profit,
     which had not been stroked; but his majesty quickly discovered
     him, saying: "this man hath not yet been touched." His majesty
     hath, for the future, appointed every Friday for the cure, at
     which 200, and no more, are to be presented to him, who are
     first to repair to Mr. Knight, the king's surgeon, being at
     the Cross Guns, in Russell Street, Covent Garden, over against
     the Rose Tavern, for their tickets.

The presentation of the gold was regarded as a token of the king's good
will, and a pledge of his wish for the patient's recovery. Silver coins
were sometimes used, but the sovereign power of gold was distinctly
admitted, as the disease is reported to have returned, in some cases,
upon the medal being lost. The presentation of a second golden
touch-piece was alleged to be effective in subduing the scrofula.

The following announcement appeared in the "Public Intelligencer," under
date of Whitehall, May 14, 1664:

"His Sacred Majesty, having declared it to be his Royal will and purpose
to continue the healing of his People for the Evil during the month of
May, and then to give over till Michaelmas next, I am commanded to give
notice thereof, that the people may not come up to Town in the interim
and lose their labour."

Charles II is said to have found the practice extremely lucrative. It is
not surprising that many practitioners in those days were credited with
having wrought marvellous cures.

We know that the undoubted influence of the mind on the body, and the
power of suggestion and expectant attention, apply only to subjective
states and functional ailments. Thus it is intelligible why so many
people of education and culture, on the principle that seeing is
believing, were able to testify to miraculous cures in their own

William Andrews, in "Historic Romance," says that the records of the
Town of Preston, Lancashire, show that the local Corporation voted
grants of money to enable patients to make the journey to London, to be
touched for the evil. In the year 1682 bailiffs were instructed to "pay
unto James Harrison, bricklayer, ten shillings, towards carrying his son
to London, in order to the procuring of His Majesty's touch." Again, in
1687, being the third year of James II, when the King was at Chester,
the Preston Town Council passed a vote, ordering the payment to two
young women, of five shillings each, "towards their charge in going to
Chester to get His Majesty's touch."

Thomas Cartwright, Bishop of Chester, wrote in his diary, August 27,
1687: "I was at His Majesty's levee, from whence, at nine o'clock, I
attended him into the closet, where he healed three hundred and fifty

Queen Anne (1702-1714) was the last of the English sovereigns who
exercised the royal prerogative of healing by laying-on of hands. She
made an official announcement in the London "Gazette," March 12, 1712,
of her intention to "touch publicly." Samuel Johnson, then a child of
about three years of age, was one of the last who tested the efficacy of
this superstitious rite, and without success. Acting upon the advice of
Sir John Floyer, a noted physician of Lichfield, Mrs. Johnson took her
son to London, where he was touched by the Queen. When asked in later
years if he could remember the latter, he used to say that he had a
"confused, but somehow a sort of solemn recollection of a lady in
diamonds and a long black hood."[88:1] George I, the successor of Queen
Anne, regarded the Royal Touch as a purely superstitious method of
healing, and during his reign the practice fell into desuetude.

The English jurist, Daines Barrington (1727-1800), in his "Observations
upon the Statutes," relates the case of an old man whom he was examining
as a witness. This man stated that he had been touched for the evil by
Queen Anne, when she was at Oxford. Upon being asked whether the
treatment had been effective, he replied facetiously that he did not
believe that he ever had the evil, but that his parents were poor, and
did not object to the piece of gold.[88:2]

During the reign of George II, a writer of a speculative turn of mind
queried whether the disuse of this long-established custom might be
attributed to the sullenness of the reigning prince, who, as was
generally known, had received many evidences of his subjects'
displeasure; or whether the alleged divine power of healing by the Royal
Touch had been withdrawn from him. And it was replied that the sovereign
had as good a title as any of his predecessors to perform this holy
operation. Moreover, he was so much in love with all sorts of pageantry
and acts of power that he would willingly do his part. But the
degeneracy and wickedness of the times, which tended to bring all pious
and holy things into contempt, and then into disuse, was the reason for
this neglect.[89:1]

In the year 1746, or thereabouts, one Christopher Lovel, a native of
Wells, in Somersetshire, but afterwards a resident of Bristol, being
sadly afflicted with the King's Evil, and having during many years made
trial of all the remedies which medical science could suggest, and
without any effect, decided to go abroad in search of a cure. Proceeding
to France, he was touched at Avignon by the eldest lineal descendant of
a race of kings, who had, for a long succession of ages, healed by
exercising the royal prerogative. But this descendant and heir had not
at that time been crowned. Notwithstanding this fact, however, the usual
effects followed, and from the moment that the man was touched, and
invested with the narrow ribbon, to which a small silver coin was
pendant, according to the rites prescribed in the office appointed by
the Church for that solemnity, he began to mend, and recovered strength
daily, arriving at Bristol in good health, after an absence of some four

Such, briefly, is an account of this remarkable case, as given in Thomas
Carte's "History of England," published about 1746. But a contributor to
the "Gentleman's Magazine," January 13, 1747, who signed himself
_Amicus Veritatis_, wrote in reference to the foregoing account,
expressing surprise that sensible people should give credit to such a
tale, which was calculated to support the old threadbare notion of the
divine hereditary right of royal personages to cure by touch. The then
reigning sovereign, George II, wrote he, despised such childish

The report of this alleged wonderful case made a great noise among the
ignorant classes. But the sceptic writer above mentioned argued that
Lovel's cure was but temporary, and that the benefit was due to change
of air and a strict regimen, rather than to the touch of the Pretender's
hand at Avignon. For, queried he, can any man with a grain of reason
believe that such an idle, superstitious charm as the touch of a man's
hand can convey a virtue sufficiently efficacious to heal so stubborn a
disorder as the King's Evil?

French tradition ascribes the origin of the gift of healing by royal
touch, to Saint Marculf, a monk whose Frankish ancestry is shown by his
name, which signifies forest wolf. This personage was a native of
Bayeux, and is reputed to have flourished in the sixth century A. D. His
relics were preserved in an abbey at Corbigny, and thither the French
monarchs were accustomed to resort, after their coronation at Rheims, to
obtain the pretended power of curing the King's Evil, by touching the
relics of this saint. But according to the historian, François Eudes de
Mézeray (1610-1683), the gift was bestowed upon King Clovis (466-511) at
the time of his baptism.

In 1515, the year of his accession, Francis I laid his hands on a number
of persons in the presence of the Pope, during the prevalence of an
epidemic at Bologna, Italy. And in 1542 he issued the following
statement: "On our return from Rheims, we went to Corbigny, where we and
our predecessors have been accustomed to make oblations, and pay
reverence to the precious relics of Saint Marculf for the admirable gift
of healing the King's Evil, which he imparted miraculously to the kings
of France, at the pleasure of the Creator. The grace we exercised in the
usual way, by touching the parts affected, and signing them with the
sign of the cross."

Louis XIII of France (1601-1643) is said to have bestowed upon Cardinal
Richelieu all of his prerogatives, except the Royal Touch.

His successor, Louis the Great, is credited with having touched sixteen
hundred people on Easter Sunday, 1686, using the words, "_Le Roy te
touche, Dieu te guérisse._" Every French patient received a present of
fifteen sous, while foreigners were given double that amount.[91:1]

According to the Swiss theologian, Samuel Werenfels (1657-1740), who
published a treatise on "The Power of curing the King's Evil," this
prerogative was shared by the members of the House of Hapsburg. And the
same authority relates that the kings of Hungary were able to heal
various affections by the Royal Touch, and to neutralize by this method
the toxic effects of the bite of venomous creatures.


[74:1] Joseph Ennemoser, _The History of Magic_, vol. i, p. 209.

[74:2] 1 Timothy, iv, 14.

[74:3] Mark, xvi, 18; vi, 5.

[75:1] H. Addington Bruce, in _The Outlook_, September, 1909.

[76:1] Lady Wilde, _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland_.

[77:1] J. Cordy Jeaffreson, _A Book about Doctors_.

[77:2] _Chambers's Encyclopædia._

[81:1] Pettigrew, _op. cit._, p. 132.

[82:1] John Morgan Richards, _A Chronology of Medicine_.

[83:1] Lord Macaulay, _The History of England_, vol. iii, p. 379.

[85:1] Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, _Medical Superstitions_.

[86:1] _The Lancet_, vol. ii, 1901.

[88:1] _Once a Week_, vol. xv (1866), p. 219.

[88:2] E. Cobham Brewer, _A Dictionary of Miracles_.

[89:1] _Common-sense_, August 13, 1737.

[91:1] Hon. Daines Barrington, _Observations upon the Statutes_, 1766.



As illustrative of the power of the imagination, the so-called
blue-glass mania, which prevailed extensively in this country, affords a
striking example. About the year 1868, General Augustus J. Pleasanton,
of Philadelphia, made some experiments to determine whether or not rays
of sunlight passing through colored glass had any therapeutic effect on
animals and plants. His selection of blue glass as a medium was probably
based upon the theory that the blue ray of the solar spectrum possesses
superior actinic or chemical properties.

Experimenting first on plants, he adopted the method of inserting panes
of blue and violet glass in the roof of his grapery, and noticed as a
result an apparent extraordinary rapidity and luxuriance of growth of
the vines, and later a correspondingly large harvest of grapes.
Encouraged by this success, he built a piggery, having a glass roof, of
which one portion was fitted with panes of blue glass, and the other
with ordinary transparent glass. It was claimed that the pigs kept under
the former developed more rapidly than those under the latter. An
Alderney bull-calf, which was very small and feeble at birth, was
placed in a pen under violet glass. In twenty-four hours it was able to
walk and became quite animated. By the same method a mule was reported
to have been cured of obstinate rheumatism and deafness. Again, a
canary-bird, which had been an exceptionally fine warbler, declined to
eat or sing, and appeared to be in a feeble state of health. The bird in
its cage was placed in the bath-room of its owner's dwelling, the
windows of which contained colored-glass panes. It was alleged that the
little creature speedily improved; its voice became sweeter and more
melodious than ever, while its appetite was simply voracious.

Notable cures of human beings were also reported. Cases of neuralgia and
rheumatism were said to have been benefited, the development of young
infants vastly promoted, while as a tonic for producing hair on bald
heads, blue glass was a veritable specific. During the year 1877 popular
interest in the craze reached its culmination. In this country the
furore assumed national proportions. Peddlers went from door to door in
the cities, selling blue glass, and did a thriving business; while many
instances of remarkable cures effected by the new panacea were recorded
in the newspapers. Then after a time came the reaction; the whole theory
became a subject for ridicule and satire, and the public mind was ready
to turn its attention to some other fad.

But in spite of the fickleness of the popular mind, this well-known
fact remains, that a good sun-bath, with or without the medium of
colored glass, is often of great hygienic value. There is truth in the
Italian proverb: _Dove non va il sole, va il medico_: where the sunlight
enters not, there goes the physician.

I have thus attempted briefly to describe the blue-glass mania, because
it seems aptly to illustrate the healing force of the imagination. So
long as people have confidence in blue glass and sunlight combined, to
cure fleshly ills, these agents undoubtedly act in many cases "like a
charm," and may be classed as mental curatives.

In recent years, however, efforts have been made to determine whether
certain colored rays of the spectrum were more potent than others
therapeutically. Under the caption "Light-Cures, Old and New," in
"Everybody's Magazine," October, 1902, Arthur E. Bostwick, Ph.D.,
remarks that there was a germ of truth in the blue-glass craze, for it
has recently been shown that the red rays are injuriously stimulative in
eruptive diseases, and of course the blue glass strained these rays out.
It goes without saying that if there were simply health-giving qualities
in the blue rays and no injurious ones in the red and yellow, ordinary
light would be as effective as that which had passed through blue glass;
for the glass introduces no new quality or color into the light; it only
absorbs certain rays of the spectrum, allowing others to pass. If blue
light, therefore, is more healthful than white, it must be because the
remainder of the spectrum has an injurious effect.

An Austrian physician, Dr. Kaiser, has recently asserted, in a paper
read before the Vienna Medical Society, that blue light is effective in
reducing inflammation, allaying pain, and curing skin-disease,
especially by promoting absorption of morbid humors. He asserts that a
beam from a powerful lantern, after passing through blue glass, will
kill cultures of various bacilli, when directed upon them at a distance
of fifteen feet for half an hour daily during six days.



It has been truly said that temples were the first hospitals, and
priests the earliest physicians.[97:1] In the temples of Esculapius, in
Greece, a main object of the various mystic rites was to exert a
powerful influence on the patient's imagination. This was supplemented
by practical therapeutic and hygienic treatment, such as baths, friction
of the skin, and a strict diet. These primitive sanatoria were built in
places carefully chosen for their salubrity of climate and healthful
environment. Doubtless their founders were actuated by a belief that
Esculapius was ever ready to help those who first helped themselves. In
view, therefore, of the superior hygienic conditions, together with
intelligent medical care, it is not surprising that seemingly marvellous
cures should result, especially of impressionable persons affected with
nervous disorders.

The walls of those temples were adorned with bas-reliefs, of which
specimens have been preserved. One of these represents a recumbent
patient, and a physician seated by the bedside. Near by stands a tall,
erect personage, supposed to be the god of health, while the figures of
two suppliants may be seen approaching him.[98:1] When a patient arrived
at the gate of the temple, he was not allowed to enter at once; for
strict cleanliness was deemed a prerequisite for admission to the god's
presence. And in order to place him in this desirable condition with the
greatest possible despatch, he was plunged into cold water, after which
he was permitted to enter the sacred precincts. According to a poetic
fancy of the Grecian pilgrim in search of health, the proper cure for
his ailment would be revealed by the god of healing to his worshipper in
the latter's dreams.[98:2] The interpretation of these dreams and the
revelation to the patient of their alleged meaning was entrusted to a
priest, who served as an intermediary between Esculapius and the
patient. Several of these oracular prescriptions, inscribed upon a
marble slab, were found on the site of an Esculapian temple near Rome.
Translations of two of them may serve as examples:

"Lucius, having a pleurisy, and being given over by everybody, received
from the god this oracle, that he should come and take the ashes off his
altar, and mixing them with wine, apply them to his side. Which done, he
was cured, and returned thanks to the god, and the people congratulated
him upon his happy recovery."

"The god gave this oracle to a blind soldier, named Valerius Aper, that
he should mingle the blood of a white cock with honey, and make a
collyrium, which he should put upon his eyes three days together. After
which he saw, and came publicly to return thanks."[99:1]

Although usually regarded as a purely mythological being, Esculapius is
believed by some writers to have been an historic personage. According
to tradition, he transmitted his professional knowledge to his
descendants, the Asclepiadæ, a priestly caste, versed in medical lore.
For centuries the most famous Grecian physicians were members of this
order; and the great Hippocrates, styled "the Father of Medicine," is
said to have claimed to be the seventeenth in direct descent from
Esculapius.[99:2] Although the god of healing may be said to have been
also the first practising physician, his distinguished teacher Chiron,
the wise Centaur, was without doubt the first medical professor whose
name has been handed down. To Chiron is usually ascribed the honor of
having introduced among the Grecians the art of Medicine, in the
thirteenth century B. C. He was reputed to have been a learned chief or
prince of Thessaly, who was also a pioneer among equestrians, one who
preferred horseback as a means of locomotion, rather than the chariot,
or other prototype of the chaise, buggy, automobile, or bicycle. Hence
the superstition of that rude age gave him a place among the Centaurs.
He is reported moreover to have imparted instruction to the Argonauts,
and to the warriors who participated in the siege of Troy. From this
hero is derived the name of the plant centaury, owing to a legend of its
having been used with success as a healing application to a wound in
Chiron's foot.

The worship of Esculapius, as the god of healing, was widespread among
the Greeks, and lasted even into Christian times. Patients repaired to
the temples, just as relief is sought to-day by a devotional pilgrimage,
or by a resort to a sacred spring. The records of cures were inscribed
upon the columns or walls of the temple, and thus is believed to have
originated the custom of recording medical and surgical cases.[100:1]

The priests exerted a powerful influence upon the minds of applicants by
reciting wonderful tales, as they led them through the sacred precincts,
explaining in mystical language the miraculous cures which had been
performed there, and calling attention to the numerous votive offerings
and inscriptions upon the temple walls. It may readily be conceived,
wrote Richard J. Dunglison, M.D.,[100:2] that these procedures made a
deep impression upon the patients' minds, and the more so, because the
priests were wont to dwell especially upon the cures which had been
effected in analogous cases.

Moreover hydro-therapy was supplemented by massage, which often had
beneficial results in nervous affections; and fumigation of the
patients, before they received advice from the oracle, lent an air of
mystery. Those who were cured returned to express their gratitude and to
offer presents to the god, as well as to the priests. They usually also
brought some ornament for the adornment of the temple.

The act of sleeping in a sanctuary, in order to obtain medical relief,
either through revelations by dreams, or through a divine visitation,
was termed _incubation_.

According to the philosophy of oneiromancy, or the art of taking omens
from dreams, during sleep the soul was released from the body, and thus
enabled to soar into spiritual regions and commune with celestial
beings. Therefore memories of ideas suggested in dreams were cherished
as divine revelations.[101:1]

The opinion has been advanced that the methods employed to procure
"temple sleep" were similar to those in use at the present time for the
production of the hypnotic state. A cure was effected by awakening a
healing instinct in the patient's subconscious mind.[101:2]

So far as we are aware, no authentic rational explanation has been
given of the phenomenal appearance of a god in the patient's presence.
It seems plausible that Asklepios, the Grecian Esculapius, was
personated by some priest of majestic mien, who gave oracular medical
advice, which serves as a powerful therapeutic suggestion. Various
attendant circumstances doubtless contributed to impress the patient's
highly wrought imagination, such as the dim light, the sense of mystery,
and, it may be, certain tricks of ventriloquism.

In the earliest days of temple-sleep, that is, probably about the
seventh century B. C., this mode of treatment was practised without a
tinge of superstition, the applicants' faith being deep and sincere. For
in that era the belief was general that human art was powerless to cure
disease, and the gods alone could furnish aid. Temple-sleep, wrote Dr.
Hugo Magnus, was not degraded into superstition until the physicians had
come to the conclusion that the phenomena of disease were not evidence
of divine displeasure, but that they were due to natural causes. When
therefore this new belief became established, temple-sleep degenerated
into a superstitious rite. As early as the fifth century B. C., the
celebrated poet, Aristophanes, in his comedy, "Plutus," severely
criticized this ceremony, as practised in his time. And, although the
more enlightened among the Greeks came to regard it with disfavor, the
custom was never entirely abandoned by the ancient world.

     Having bathed Plutus in the sea, says the servant Cario, we
     went to the temple of Esculapius; and when our wafers and
     preparatory sacrifices were offered on the altar, and our
     cakes on the flame of Vulcan, we laid him on a couch, as was
     proper, and made ready our own mattresses. When the priest had
     extinguished the lights, he told us to go to sleep, adding
     that if any of us heard the hissing we should by no means
     stir. We therefore all remained in bed, and made no noise. As
     for myself, I could not sleep, on account of the odor of a
     basin of savory porridge which an old woman had at the side of
     her bed, and which I longed for amazingly. Being, therefore,
     anxious to creep near it, I raised my head and saw the
     sacristan take the cakes and dried figs from the sacred table,
     and going the round of the altars, put all that he could find
     into a bag. It occurred to me that it would be meritorious in
     me to follow his example, so I arose to secure the basin of
     porridge, fearing only that the priest might get at it before
     me, with his garlands on. . . . The old woman, on hearing me,
     stretched forth her hand. But I hissed, and seized her fingers
     with my teeth, as if I were an Esculapian snake; then, drawing
     back her hand again, she lay down and wrapped herself up
     quickly, while I swallowed the porridge, and, when full,
     retired to rest.

The surprising cures frequently effected were inexplicable, even to the
scientific minds of antiquity.

Victor Duruy, in his "History of Rome,"[103:1] relates the following
instance, on the authority of the Greek writer Ælian. A man named
Euphronios, who had been an ardent follower of Epicurus, suffered from
some obstinate affection which his physicians failed to cure. His
relatives therefore carried him into a neighboring Esculapian temple,
where in the night, during sleep, he heard the voice of an oracle,
saying, "In the case of this man, there is only one means of
restoration, namely, to burn the hooks of Epicurus, to knead these
sacrilegious ashes with wax, and to cover the stomach and chest with the
compound." These directions were carried out, and Euphronios was
promptly cured and converted.


[97:1] J. B. Thiers, _Traité des Superstitions_, p. 385.

[98:1] _Archives générales de Médecine_, November, 1891, pp. 582 _et

[98:2] Frank Granger, _The Worship of the Romans_, p. 158.

[99:1] Daniel Le Clerc, _The History of Physic_, p. 84.

[99:2] Le Clerc, p. 109.

[100:1] _Encyclopædia Britannica_, art. "Medicine."

[100:2] _History of Medicine._

[101:1] Mary Hamilton, _Incubation in Pagan Temples_.

[101:2] Dr. Carl du Prel, _Die Mystik der alten Griechen_; Leipzig,

[103:1] Vol. vi, p. 399.



     Fancy can save or kill; it hath closed up wounds, when the
     balsam could not, and without the aid of salves, to think hath
     been a cure.

     With bandage firm Ulysses' knee they bound;
     Then, chanting mystic lays, the closing wound
     Of sacred melody confessed the force;
     The tides of life regained their azure course.
                                           _The Odyssey_, XIX, 535.

Probably the stanching of blood sometimes ascribed to the power of a
verbal charm should be accredited to the _vis medicatrix_ of Dame Nature
herself. The mere sight of blood, as well as its loss, may induce
syncope, a condition favorable to the cessation of hemorrhage. Where
faith in a magic spell is strong, it is conceivable that a psychic or
emotional force should influence the circulation of the blood, and
affect its flow locally by a contraction or dilatation of the
arterioles, through the agency of the vaso-motor nerves. Familiar
instances are to be seen in the sudden glow or pallor of the cheek,
under the stress of intense emotion.

In a curious English manuscript, thought to be of the fourteenth
century, which is preserved in the Royal Library at Stockholm, are to
be found many specimens of healing-spells; and among them one which was
to be repeated in church, as follows: "Here bygynyth a charme for to
staunch ye blood. _In nomine Patris_, etc. Whanne oure Lord was don on
ye crosse yane come Longeus thedyr and smot hym yt a spere in hys syde.
Blod and water yer come owte at ye wonde, and he wyppyd hys eyne and
anon he sawgh kyth thorowgh ye vertu of yat God. Yerfore I conjure the
blood yat yu come not oute of yis christen woman. _In nomine Patris et
Filii_," etc.[106:1]

The following "Charme to Stanch Blood" is taken from a manuscript of the
fifteenth century: "Jesus, that was in Bethlehem born, and baptyzed was
in the flumen Jordane; as stente the water at hys comyng so stente the
blood of this man N. thy serwaunt, throw the virtu of thy holy name,
Jesu, and of thy cosyn, swete sente Jon. And sey thys Charme fyve tymes,
with fyve Pater Nostirs, in the worship of the fyve woundys."

A popular medieval narrative charm for healing wounds and arresting
hemorrhage, is to be found in the "Compendium Medicinæ" of Gilbertus
Anglicus, physician to the Archbishop of Canterbury toward the close of
the twelfth century. The work was first published at Lyons, France, in
the year of 1500.

     "Write a cross of Christ, and sing thrice over the place
     these words, and a Pater Noster: _Longinus miles lancea punxit
     Dominum, et restitit sanguis et recessit dolor._"

Longinus or Longeus is the traditional name of the Roman soldier who
pierced with a spear the side of our Lord, upon the Cross.[107:1]

Verbal styptic charms were much in vogue among the Irish people in early
times. Translations of two such charms may serve as examples. "A child
was baptized in the river Jordan; and the water was dark and muddy, but
the child was pure and beautiful." These words were repeated over the
wound, a finger being placed on the site of the hemorrhage; and then:
"In the name of God, and of the Lord Christ, let the blood be stanched."

Another similar charm was as follows:

"There came a man from Bethlehem to be baptised in the river Jordan; but
the water was so muddy that it stopped flowing: So let the blood! Let it
stop flowing in the name of Jesus, and by the power of Christ!"[107:2]

Homer tells in the Odyssey how the sons of Autolycus cured Ulysses, who
had been injured while hunting the wild boar, by stanching the blood
flowing from a wound in his leg, by means of a verbal charm. "With
nicest care the skilful artists bound the brave, divine Ulysses'
ghastly wound; and th' incantations stanch'd the gushing blood."[108:1]
We have also the testimony of the Grecian lexicographer, Suidas, that
various maladies were cured by the repetition of certain words, in the
time of Minos, King of Crete.

In Sir Walter Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel," there are frequent
references to the use of curative spells; as for example in the
following lines:

     She drew the splinter from the wound,
       And with a charm she stanch'd the blood.[108:2]

Again, in "Waverley," the hero of that name, while on a stag hunt with
some Scottish chieftains, had the misfortune to sprain an ankle. The
venerable Highlander, who officiated as surgeon, proceeded to treat the
injury with much ceremony. He first prepared a fomentation by boiling
certain herbs which had been gathered at the time of a full moon, a
charm being recited the while, of which the following is a translation:
"Hail to thee, thou holy herb, that sprung on holy ground! All in the
Mount Olivet, first wert thou found. Thou art boot for many a bruise,
and healest many a wound; in our Lady's blessed name, I take thee from
the ground."

The leech next applied the lotion to Waverley's ankle, at the same time
murmuring an incantation; and to this latter procedure, rather than to
the medicinal virtue of the herbs, the subsequent alleviation of pain
and swelling was attributed by all who were present.

In the rugged, mountainous districts of western Ireland, a region
inhabited mostly by shepherds and fishermen, medical practice still
devolves largely upon "fairy-women" and "witch-doctors," who rely upon
herbs, prayers, and incantations in their treatment of the sick. In
Ireland, too, are individuals reputed to be masters of the art of
"setting" charms for controlling hemorrhage; their method being the
repetition of certain words arbitrarily selected, whose weirdness tends
to impress the patient with a sense of the mysterious.[109:1]

Spells for checking the flow of blood are plentiful in the early
literature of Germany, and are still employed to some extent. In Dr. G.
Lammert's "Volksmedizin in Bayern" (Würzburg, 1869), many hemostatic
formulas are given, which are popular among the peasantry in various
portions of the empire. They are usually adjurations or commands
addressed to the blood, considered as a personality. Thus a spell in
vogue in the mountainous region of Odenwald in Hesse, is as follows:
"Blood, stand still, as Christ stood still in the river Jordan."

In "Folk-Lore," March, 1908, reference is made to a styptic spell in use
at the present time in northern Devonshire, among wise women who are
skilled in the art of controlling hemorrhage by psychic methods. The
spell consists in repeating the verse, Ezekiel, XVI, 6. In the locality
above mentioned it is customary to seek the aid of one of these
professional "stenters," instead of a surgeon or veterinarian, and the
people have implicit faith in this mode of treatment. The presence of
the wise woman is not essential. She merely pronounces the spell
wherever she may happen to be, with the assurance that it will be found
effectual, on the return of the messenger to the patient.

The prevalence of similar beliefs is shown in the following verse from a
popular poem of the seventeenth century:

     Tom Pots was but a serving-man;
     But yet he was a Doctor good;
     He bound his kerchief on the wound,
     And with some kind words stanch'd the blood.


[106:1] _Archæologia_, vol. xxx, p. 401; 1844.

[107:1] J. F. Payne, M.D., _English Medicine in the Anglo-Saxon Times_.

[107:2] Lady Wilde, _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland_.

[108:1] This is the earliest mention of a medical charm in classic
literature, and hence originated the phrase "Homeric Cure," as applied
to healing by magical verses.

[108:2] Canto III, section xxiii.

[109:1] James Mooney, _The Medical Mythology of Ireland_.



     Neither doth fansy only cause, but also as easily cure
     diseases; as I may justly refer all magical cures thereunto,
     performed, as is thought, by saints, images, relicts, holy
     waters, shrines, avemarys, crucifixes, benedictions, charms,
     characters, sigils of the planets, inverted words, etc. And
     therefore all such cures are rather to be ascribed to the
     force of the imagination, than to any virtue in themselves.
                                    RAMESEY, _Elminthologia_: 1668.

     His night-spell is his guard, and charms his physicians.
                    BISHOP HALL, _Characters of Vertues and Vices_.

Certain Chaldean and Persian words were formerly believed to have a
particular efficacy against the demons of sickness. The languages of
men, it was averred, were not of human origin, but were gifts from the
gods; and inasmuch as magic had its source in Chaldea and other Eastern
countries, it was reasoned that certain words of the languages spoken in
those places were possessed of an inherent magical value.[111:1] Hence
these words were used in invocations addressed to spirits. In the
popular belief of the ancient Babylonians, illnesses were caused by the
entrance into the body of divers aerial spirits, and incantations were
the chief means employed for their expulsion.

In Accadian medical magic, on the same principle, bedridden patients
were treated by fastening about their heads "sentences from a good
book."[112:1] Naturally, among nations where such views prevailed,
physicians were but little esteemed, and the cure of disease devolved
upon exorcists and sorcerers. Medicine was merely a branch of Magic, and
not a rational science, as in more enlightened countries. Incantations
against the spirits of disease were usually recited by the priests, who
were supposed, by reason of their education and training, to be
specially expert in the choice of the most efficient formulas.

The Chaldean medical amulets were of various kinds. Frequently they
consisted of precious stones, engraved with mystic sentences; or strips
of cloth, upon which were written talismanic verses, after the manner of
Jewish phylacteries. But of whatever form, the chief source of their
supposed efficacy appears to have been the words and characters
inscribed upon them.[112:2] Gradually, however, a system of therapeutics
was evolved, and the use of charms and incantations yielded in a measure
to practical methods. The later Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions (about
B. C. 1640) contain references to classified diseases;[112:3] and
although healing-spells were still largely in vogue, the employment of
various herbs and potions became an important feature in Assyrian

The therapeutic methods employed by the priests of Finland in early
times were chiefly magical. They exorcised the spirits of disease by
means of sacred words and healing-spells, which they believed to be of
divine origin.[113:2]

Adoration of the hidden forces of nature, and worship of superior
beings, gave rise to incantations. It was believed moreover that by the
use of appropriate formulas these mysterious powers could be rendered
subservient to the will of man. In the popular imagination, even the
moon could be made to descend to the earth at the command of an
enchantress, by means of an appropriate spell. For, as Virgil sang:
_Carmina vel possunt cœlo deducere lunam._

Among the ancient Aryan peoples, incantations were an important factor
in therapeutics, and naturally the use of the same methods persisted
among their descendants, after their dispersion and settlement in
different parts of the world.

Christianus Pazig, in his "Treatise on Magic Incantations," remarked
that the ancient origin of written spells is attested alike by sacred
and profane literature. According to tradition, Ham, the son of Noah,
inscribed mystic sentences on flinty rocks and metals at the time of the
Deluge, in order to preserve them, "being influenced perhaps by the fear
that he would not be allowed to take into the Ark a book filled with
these vanities." The secret art of preparing incantations is said to
have been imparted to others by Mizraim, the son of Ham, and as a result
Egypt and Persia were invaded by hordes of magicians, who aspired to
dominate universal nature, and to subject to their own wills not only
human beings and the lower animals, but even inanimate objects as well.
The Roman poet Lucan (born about A. D. 39) wrote in his
"Pharsalia,"[114:1] that by the spells of Thessalian witches, there
flowed into the obdurate heart a love that entered not there in the
course of nature. And to the same authority is accredited the saying
that even the world might be made to stand still by means of a suitable
incantation; a saying which voiced the popular belief in the miraculous
power of words.

There is abundant evidence to show that the phenomena of
psycho-therapeutics were known to the ancients, and that Assyrian
practitioners effected cures by the agency of suggestion, although they
were ignorant of the mode of its operation. The method of treating and
curing in a mysterious way has been a widely spread one. It was known in
Egypt; in Greece there was the temple of Asklepios or Esculapius; it
was prevalent in Rome; it was in vogue during the Middle Ages. There
were oracles and shrines and sacred grottos and springs; and their
existence and the matters and facts relating to the practices and cures
performed at them are quite as well established as are those of Lourdes
in France, or of Sainte Anne de Beaupré, in the Province of Quebec. Dr.
Pierre Janet is of the opinion that always and everywhere these cures
have been effected under the same laws. The maladies that can be cured
have always been the same. There are illnesses that could not be
vanquished at Asklepios; they are obdurate still at Lourdes. The same
things are done to-day that were done in the temples, and under the same
conditions and in the same way, and even in the same space of time. This
historic similitude shows us that the miraculous cures are all of them
subject to the same regular laws. In far-away Japan there exist
precisely the same miracle cures as elsewhere. In fact, it seems to have
been a matter of independent discovery by investigators all over the
world. Dr. Janet is of the opinion that it is not Asklepios that has
copied Assyria, or Lourdes that has patterned after the Greeks, but that
all have worked independently and have attained to a similar use of the
same natural laws.[115:1]

The Anglo-Saxon clergy sanctioned the use of the relics of saints as
having curative virtues in nearly all diseases. A hair from a saint's
beard, moistened in holy water and taken inwardly, was a favorite remedy
for fever.[116:1]

Direct healing power was also ascribed to the tombs of saints, and
indeed to anything pertaining to the latter. In the popular view, sacred
relics were not only potent to heal, but also brought good fortune. This
was true in medieval times, but the early heathen nations had no such
beliefs.[116:2] In a recent article in the "Century Magazine," March,
1908, entitled "Christianity and Health," Rev. Samuel McComb, D.D.,
averred that the relic of a dead superstition may achieve as much, in
the cure of physical disorders, as faith in the living God.

The ecclesiastical miracles in the Middle Ages, and the healing wonders
in our own time, attested as they are by the highest medical
authorities, show what curative power lies in the mere psychological
state of trust and confidence. Dr. A. T. Schofield says,[116:3] in
explanation of the many seemingly miraculous cures worked at Lourdes and
elsewhere, that all the causative changes take place in the unconscious
mind, yet the patient is wholly ignorant of anything but the results in
the body. Therefore, in such cases, radical cures may be effected

In a lecture on "Temples and Cults in Babylon and Assyria," during his
Lowell Institute course at Boston, January 18, 1910, Dr. Morris Jastrow,
Jr., spoke of incantation as a popular custom in ancient times.

It is difficult, he said, to draw the line between public and private
cults. Divination by means of the liver was an official cult and bore
only on public affairs, and there was in its determination a ritual.
Astrology, on the contrary, was largely a private affair, and needed but
an observation of the heavens, which was done without religious
ceremony. When, however, a cult became very popular, the priests were
not slow to add its ceremonies to their own.

A most important cult of this nature was incantation. This was against
disease and misfortune. Disease was caused by a witch or demon who took
possession of the sick one, and cure depended on the ability to get rid
of the demon. The elements of fire and water had much to do with the
combating of disease, and the two chief deities appealed to were Ea, god
of water, and Marduk, god of the sun and fire. In both cases the idea
was one of purification. Extended rituals were recited, questions were
asked by the priests that demanded almost confessions for their replies.

The physicians of ancient Egypt blended science and superstition in
their prescriptions. While fully appreciating the benefit of a stimulus
to the patient's imagination, they did not, however, neglect the
employment of medicinal remedies.

In a papyrus medical treatise of the sixteenth century B. C., discovered
at Thebes in the winter of 1872-73, by the German Egyptologist George
Ebers, are to be found numerous incantations and conjurations.
Nevertheless the same treatise affords evidence of a careful preparation
of complex recipes.[118:1] Some of the prescriptions in this document
are considered by Miss Amelia B. Edwards to be of mythological origin,
while others appear to have been derived from the medical lore of

Egyptian medical papyri contain both prescriptions for remedies to be
used for various ailments, and conjurations for the expulsion of demons,
together with petitions for the present intervention of deities.[118:3]

The Chaldean magi also employed many formulas and incantations for
repelling evil spirits and for the cure of disease. Specimens of such
formulas are to be seen on clay tablets exhumed from the ruins of
ancient Nineveh. They consist chiefly in a description of some disease,
with the expression of a desire for deliverance from it, and a command
enforcing its departure.[119:1] During the preparation of their
medicines the ancient Egyptians offered prayers and invocations, of
which the following is a specimen:

"May Isis heal me, as she healed Horus, of all the ills inflicted upon
him when Set slew his father Osiris. O Isis, thou great Enchantress,
free me, deliver me from all evil, bad and horrible things, from the god
and goddess of evil, from the god and goddess of sickness, and from the
unclean demon who presses upon me, as thou didst loose and free thy son

The Egyptians held the theory that many diseases were due to the anger
of Isis, who was also believed by them to have discovered various
remedies. Hence the propitiation of this goddess by invocations was a
natural expedient.[119:3]

So great was the fondness of the Egyptians for amulets, that they were
wont to hang them about the necks of mummies to ward off demons.[119:4]
Apropos of this singular custom, we may remark, in passing, that
mummy-dust was prescribed by English physicians as late as during the
reign of Charles II, to promote longevity. They reasoned that inasmuch
as pulverized mummy had lasted a long time, it might, when assimilated
by their patients, assist the latter to do likewise.[120:1]

The worship of subterranean deities, representing the hidden forces of
nature, is said to have been a chief feature of the religion of the
prehistoric Pelasgians inhabiting Greece; and it was believed that if
once the particular formula or spell, wherein lay the secret of their
power, could be discovered, these deities might be rendered subservient
to the will of man.[120:2] Similarly, in many religions of antiquity,
the names of deities were invested with great power, and whoever uttered
them was "master of the god."[120:3]

Cato the Censor (B. C. 234-149), in his treatise "De Re Rustica,"
chapter 157, recommended a written charm for the cure of fractures; and
Ovid (B. C. 43-A. D. 18), in his "Metamorphoses," wrote these lines: "By
means of incantations I break in twain the viper's jaws." In very early
times physicians were regarded as under the protection of the gods, and
the magical charms employed by them were therefore naturally invested
with supernatural curative power. Melampus, a noted mythical leech of
Argos, before the Trojan War, was said to have made use of
healing-spells in his practice.

Professor H. Blümner, in "The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks," chapter
7, remarks that, in the early historic era, medicine developed
especially in two directions in Greece: namely, as practised by a
regular medical fraternity; and secondly, "as a kind of religious
mystery in the hands of the priests." The latter system was doubtless
connected with the worship of Esculapius. But quacks and charlatans were
much in evidence, even in that remote epoch. Francis Bacon, in his
"Advancement of Learning," chapter 2, says that "the poets were
clear-sighted in discerning the credulity of men in often preferring a
mountebank, or a cunning woman to a learned physician. Hence they made
Esculapius and Circe brother and sister, and both children of Apollo."

The Grecians believed that petitions offered in a foreign tongue were
more favorably received than those in the vernacular; and as a reason
for this belief it was alleged that the earliest languages, however
barbarous and strange to classic ears, contained words and names which
were somehow more consonant to nature and hence more pleasing to their
deities.[121:1] Especial magical efficacy has always been ascribed to
certain Hebrew, Arabian, and Indian words.[121:2]

Aëtius, who lived at Amida in Mesopotamia in the fifth century, the
first Christian physician whose medical writings are extant, repeated
biblical verses during the preparation of his medicines, in order to
increase their efficacy.[122:1] And until comparatively modern times,
the employment of verbal charms, curative spells, and formulas, was
believed to enhance the therapeutic virtues of medicines. No remedy, we
are told, was administered without mysterious ceremony and incantation.

According to Suidas, a Greek lexicographer, supposed to have lived in
the tenth century, the method of curing diseases by the repetition of
certain words had been practised ever since the time of the mythological
King Minos, of Crete. Indeed, among the peoples of antiquity, the
science of therapeutics was largely of a theurgic or supernatural
character, and Sibylline verses were in great repute. In this connection
it is interesting to note that, according to one authority, the word
carminative, a remedy which relieves pain "like a charm," is derived
from the Latin _carminare_, to use incantations.

Words of encouragement and a cheerful mien are good therapeutic agents;
and the physician of Plato's day, we are told, sometimes took an orator
along with him, in his visits to Grecian households, to persuade his
patients to take medicines.[122:2] Such an expedient may have been
warranted in those days, but it is of course wholly unnecessary in this
age of palatable elixirs and chocolate-coated tablets.

Alexander of Tralles, a Greek physician of the sixth century,
recommended a verse of Homer for the cure of colic. In our advanced
stage of culture, we should hardly be content with such a carminative,
but should rather employ one of the modern aromatic remedies of the
pharmacopœia. In the classic age, however, as well as at later
epochs, the use of verbal charms for the cure of disease was forbidden
under severe penalties. The case is recorded of a woman of Achaia, who
was stoned to death for attempting to cure a fever by the repetition of
spells. This was in the fourth century, during the reign of

The Greeks invoked Asklepios, the god of Medicine, and his daughters
Hygeia, the goddess of Health, and Panacea, the All-Healer, who
personified attributes of their father. Apollo, too, under the title of
Pæan, was worshipped as a health-deity and physician of the gods. He was
addressed both as a healer and destroyer; as one who inflicted diseases,
but who likewise vouchsafed remedies for their cure. But there appears
to have been no incompatibility between the offering of prayers to these
heathen deities, and the use of magical spells, formulas and verses. For
religion, the healing art, and magic seem to have been inextricably
blended in the early days of Greece and Rome, notwithstanding the
teachings of Hippocrates, who first strove to liberate medicine from the
superstition which enslaved it.

The complex character of therapeutic methods in vogue among the ancient
classical peoples, finds a modern parallel in the case of American
aborigines. In various tribes the functions of priest, doctor, and
wizard are assumed by one and the same person.[124:1] Under the
influence of civilization the leech and parson have their distinct
professions, and the rôle of the magician loses much of its importance.
In the present advanced stage of culture, many physicians devote
themselves to particular branches of their art, and each human organ,
when ailing, may invoke assistance from its own special Esculapian.

The Romans of the fourth century, says Edward Gibbon,[124:2] "dreaded
the mysterious power of spells and incantations, of potent herbs and
mysterious rites, which could extinguish or recall life, inflame the
passions of the soul, blast the works of creation, and extort from
reluctant demons the secrets of futurity." They held firmly to the
belief that this miraculous power was possessed by certain old hags and
enchantresses, who lived in poverty and obscurity. The modern popular
ideas about witches having compacts with evil spirits, whereby the
former are enabled to operate supernaturally, appear to be of very
ancient origin, as is evident from the folk-lore of different peoples.

Magical arts, wrote Gibbon, although condemned alike by popular opinion
and by the laws of Rome, were continually practised, because they tended
to gratify the most imperious passions of men's hearts.

Among pagan nations prayers were somewhat akin to incantations, and were
not always regarded as petitions; but their value was supposed to inhere
in the power of the uttered words, a power which even the gods were
unable to withstand.[125:1] The mystic verses by means of which Athenian
physicians anciently invoked supernatural aid, were called _carmina_,
charms,[125:2] their magical nature was incompatible with a purely
devotional spirit, and they were therefore incantations rather than
prayers. Invocations of deities and magic spells have one point in
common; both are appeals to spirits believed to possess supernatural
powers. This very kinship may render verbal charms the more obnoxious to
devout people, on the same principle which led Lord Bacon to declare
superstition to be the more repulsive on account of its similitude to
religion, "even as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man."
In the prayers offered by the Romans to their deities, the choice of apt
phrases was considered to be of greater importance than the mental
attitude of the petitioner, because of the prevalent belief in the
efficacy of appropriate words _per se_.

Hence, we are told, when prayers for the welfare of the State were
publicly recited by a magistrate, it was customary for a high-priest to
dictate suitable expressions, lest an unhappy selection of words provoke
divine anger.[126:1] Popular credence attributed to the classic writer
Marcus Varro (B. C. 116-28), sometimes called "the most learned of the
Romans," the faculty of curing tumors by the direct expression of mental
force, namely, by means of words.[126:2]

The Romans believed that the magical power of prayers was enhanced if
they were uttered with a loud voice. Hence a saying attributed to
Seneca: "So speak to God as though all men heard your prayers." Of great
repute among the healing-spells of antiquity was the cabalistic word
_Abracadabra_, which occurs first in a medical treatise entitled
"Præcepta de Medicina," by the Roman writer Quintus Serenus Samonicus,
who flourished in the second century. An inverted triangular figure,
formed by writing this word in the manner hereinafter described, was
much valued as an antidote against fevers; cloth or parchment being the
material originally used for the inscription.

     Thou shalt on paper write the spell divine,
     _Abracadabra_ called, on many a line,
     Each under each in even order place,
     But the last letter in each line efface;
     As by degrees the elements grow few,
     Still take away, but fix the residue,
     Till at the last one letter stands alone,
     And the whole dwindles to a tapering cone.
     Tie this about the neck with flaxen string,
     Mighty the good 't will to the patient bring.
     Its wondrous potency shall guard his bed,
     And drive disease and death far from his head.[127:1]

Another favorite therapeutic spell, no less venerable than Abracadabra,
was the mystical word _Abraxas_, which was first used by Basilides, a
leader of the Egyptian Gnostics in the second century. This word,
engraved on an antique precious stone, sometimes accompanied by a
magical emblem and meaningless inscription, was commonly used as a
medical amulet, and was well adapted to fire the imagination of ignorant

The following curious extract is taken from a rare book published by W.
Clowes, serjeant-surgeon to Queen Elizabeth, entitled, "A Proved
Practice for all Young Chirurgians," 1588:

     It is not long since that a subtile deluder, verie craftely
     having upon set purpose his brokers or espials abroade, using
     sundry secret drifts to allure many, as did the syrens by
     their sweet sonets and melody seduce mariners to make them
     their pray, so did his brokers or espials deceive many, in
     proclayming and sounding out his fame abroade from house to
     house, as those use which crye, "Mistresse, have you any worke
     for the tincker?" At the lengthe they heard of one that was
     tormented with a quartaine; then in all post haste this bad
     man was brought unto the sicke patient by their craftie means,
     and so forth, without any tariance, he did compound for
     fifteene pounde to rid him within three fits of his agew, and
     to make him as whole as a fish of all diseases: so a little
     before the fit was at hand, he called unto the wife of the
     patient to bring him an apple of the biggest size, and then
     with a pinne writte in the rinde of the apple _Abracadabra_,
     and such like, and perswaded him to take it presently in the
     beginning of his fit, for there was (sayeth he) a secret in
     those words. To be short, the patient, being hungry of his
     health, followed his counsell, and devoured all and every
     peece of the apple. So soon as it was receyved, nature left
     the disease to digest the apple, which was to hard to do; for
     at length he fell to vomiting, then the core kept such a
     sturre in his throate, that wheretofore his fever was ill, now
     much worse, _a malo ad pejus_, out of the frying-pan into the
     fire: presently there were physitions sent for unto the sick
     patient, or else his fifteene pound had been gone, with a more
     pretious jewell: but this lewde fellow is better knowne at
     Newgate than I will heere declare.[128:1]

Certain mystic sentences of barbaric origin, mostly unintelligible, and
known as "Ephesian Letters," engraved upon the famous statue of Diana at
Ephesus, were popular among the Greeks as charms wherewith to drive
away diseases, to render the wearer invincible in battle, or to purify
demon-infested places. Their invention was attributed to the fabulous
Dactyls of Phrygia, and they appear to have been held in equally great
esteem, whether pronounced orally as incantations, or inscribed upon
strips of parchment and worn as amulets.

In ancient Hibernia, the former western limit of the known world, the
Druids, in their medical treatment, relied much upon magic rites and
incantations.[129:1] And the early Irish physicians, who belonged to the
Druid priesthood, were devoted to mystical medicine, although they also
prescribed various herbs with whose therapeutic use they were
familiar.[129:2] In Ireland according to Lady Wilde,[129:3] invocations
were formerly in the names of the Phenician god Baal, and of the Syrian
goddess Ashtoreth, representing the sun and moon respectively. . . .
After the establishment of Christianity, formulas of invocation were
usually in the names of Christ or the Holy Trinity, and those of Mary,
Peter, and numerous saints were also used. In Brand's "Popular
Antiquities,"[129:4] we find a long list of the names of saints who were
invoked for the cure of particular ailments; and the same authority
quotes from a work entitled "The Irish Hubbub," by Barnaby Rich, 1619,
these lines: "There is no disease, no sicknesse, no greefe, either
amongst men or beasts, that hath not his physician among the saints."

The devotion of the Teutonic tribes to magical medicine is not
surprising to any one versed in the mythological lore of Scandinavia,
which is replete with sorcery. And throughout the Middle Ages, although
medical practice was largely in the hands of Christian priests and
monks, yet sorcerers and charlatans continued to employ old pagan usages
and magical remedies. The German physicians of the Carlovingian era
pretended to cure ailments by whispering in the patient's ear, as well
as by the use of enchanted herbs. They inherited ceremonial formulas
from the practitioners of an earlier age, for the treatment of
ophthalmic diseases; and in addition to such spells, they made use of
various gestures, and were wont to thrice touch the affected

In Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology"[130:2] is to be found an old German
spell against gout, as follows: "God, the Lord went over the land; there
met him 70 sorts of gouts and goutesses. Then spake the Lord: 'Ye 70
gouts and goutesses, whither would ye?' Then spake the 70 gouts and
goutesses: 'We go over the land and take from men their health and
limbs.' Then spake the Lord: 'Ye shall go to an elder-bush and break off
all his boughs, and leave with [such an one, naming the patient] his
straight limbs.'"

Many old German healing-spells contain the names of our Lord and of the
Virgin, which probably superseded those of pagan deities and sacred
mythological personages, the formulas remaining otherwise the same. Such
spells are akin to pious invocations or actual prayers. Others exhibit a
blending of devotion and credulity, and appear to have degenerated into
mere verbal forms.

According to a tradition of the North, while Wodan and Baldur were once
on a hunting excursion, the latter's horse dislocated a leg; whereupon
Wodan reset the bones by means of a verbal charm. And the mere narration
of this prehistoric magical cure is in repute in Shetland as a remedy
for lameness in horses at the present day.

A remarkable cure for intermittent fever, in a marshy district of
Lincolnshire, is described in "Folk-Lore," June, 1898 (page 186). An old
woman, whose grandson had a bad attack of the fever, fastened upon the
foot-board of his bed three horse-shoes, with a hammer laid cross-wise
upon them. With the hammer the old crone gave each shoe a smart tap,
repeating each time this spell: "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, nail the
Devil to this post, one for God and one for Wod and one for Lok. . . .
Yon's a sure charm," said she, "that will hold the Old One as fast as t'
church tower, when next he comes to shake un." The chronicler of this
curious incantation calls attention to the association of the name of
God with two heathen personages: Wodan, the chief ruler, and Loki, the
spirit of evil, in the mythology of the North.

The early Saxons in England knew little of scientific medicine, and
relied on indigenous herbs. They were much addicted to the use of wizard
_spells_, a term which originated with them; and were too ignorant to
adopt the skilled methods of the practitioners of Greece and Italy.

The invention of some especially forceful words for exorcising fiends
and illnesses was ascribed to Robert Grosseteste (about 1175-1253),
Bishop of Lincoln; and the fact that a learned prelate should devote
attention to the subject is strong testimony to its importance in
medieval times. There is indeed abundant evidence that throughout that
period verbal charms were very commonly worn, whether devotional
sentences, prayer formulas written on vellum, or mystic letters, words,
and symbols inscribed on parchment.[132:1] For many centuries medical
practice consisted largely of prayers and incantations, the employment
of charms and talismans, and the performance of superstitious rites.
Until the seventeenth century these methods were more or less in vogue.
Thus, a verse from the Lamentations of Jeremiah was thought to be a
specific for rheumatism.[133:1]

The Atharva-Veda, one of the ancient Vedas, or religious books of the
Hindus, contains hundreds of healing-spells, as well as formulas to
secure prosperity, in expiation of sin, and as safeguards against
robbers and wild beasts. They are repeated either by the person
expecting assistance therefrom, or by a magician for his benefit. Of the
therapeutic verses brief examples are here given:

(A charm against fever.) "O _Takman_ (fever), along with thy brother
_balasa_, along with thy sister cough, along with thy cousin _paman_, go
to yonder foreign folk!"

(A charm against cough.) "As a well-sharpened arrow swiftly to a
distance flies, thus do thou, O Cough, fly along the expanse of the

(A charm against the demons of disease.) "O amulet of ten kinds of wood,
release this man from the demon and the fit which has seized upon his

While reciting the above formula, a talisman consisting of splinters
from ten kinds of wood is fastened upon the patient, and ten of his
friends rub him down.[133:2]

The following translation of an old Scottish incantation against
disease is taken from a collection of charms, chiefly of the Outer
Hebrides Islands, and included by Alexander Carmichael in his "Carmina
Gaelica," Edinburgh, 1900.

     Peter and James and John,
     The Three of sweetest virtues in glory,
     Who arose to make the charm,
     Before the great gate of the City,
     By the right knee of God the Son,
     Against the keen-eyed men,
     Against the peering-eyed women,
     Against the slim, slender, fairy darts,
     Against the swift arrows of fairies.
     Two made to thee the withered eye,
     Man and woman in venom and envy,
     Three whom I will set against them.
     Father, Son, and Spirit Holy.
     Four-and-twenty diseases in the constitution of man and beast.
     God scrape them, God search them, God cleanse them,
     From out thy blood, from out thy flesh,
     From out thy fragrant bones,
     From this day, and each day that comes,
     Till thy day on earth be done.


[111:1] A. J. L. Jourdan, _Histoire de la Médecine_, tome ii, p. 139.

[112:1] _Encyclopædia Britannica_, art. "Babylonia."

[112:2] François Lenormant, _Chaldean Magic_, p. 45.

[112:3] Hermann Peters, _Pictorial History of Pharmacy_.

[113:1] A. Laurent, _La Magie et le Divination chez les
Chaldeo-Assyriens_, p. 33.

[113:2] François Lenormant, _Chaldean Magic_, p. 244.

[114:1] Book vi, 452.

[115:1] _Lowell Institute Lecture_; Boston, November, 1906.

[116:1] John Thrupp, _The Anglo-Saxon Home_, p. 277.

[116:2] Jacob Grimm, _Teutonic Mythology_, p. 1177.

[116:3] _The Unconscious Mind_, pp. 348-349.

[118:1] _Journal of Science_, vol. xiii, p. 101; 1876.

[118:2] _Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers_, p. 219.

[118:3] Alfred Wiedmann, _Religion of the Ancient Egyptians_, p. 272.

[119:1] François Lenormant, _Chaldean Magic_, p. 12.

[119:2] Johann Hermann Baas, _The History of Medicine_, tr. by H. E.
Henderson, p. 23.

[119:3] R. Dunglison, _History of Medicine_, p. 23.

[119:4] _Boston Transcript_, March 4, 1900.

[120:1] A. Lang, _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, vol. i, p. 96.

[120:2] Larousse, _Grand Dictionnaire_, art. "Incantation."

[120:3] T. Witton Davies, _Magic, Divination, and Demonology_, p. 62.

[121:1] John Potter, _Antiquities of Greece_, vol. ii, p. 244.

[121:2] Georg Conrad Horst, _Zauber-Bibliothek_, vol. iii, p. 62.

[122:1] Alfred C. Garratt, M.D., _Myths in Medicine_, p. 47; _Dublin
University Magazine_, Feb., 1874, p. 221.

[122:2] J. P. Mahaffy, _Greek Antiquities_, p. 71.

[123:1] J. B. Thiers, _Traité des Superstitions_, p. 420.

[124:1] Herbert Spencer, _Principles of Sociology_, vol. iii, p. 37.

[124:2] _The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire._

[125:1] M'Clintock and Strong, _Biblical Cyclopædia_, art.

[125:2] Kurt Sprengel, _Histoire de la Médecine_, tome i, p. 123.

[126:1] Rodolfo Lanciani, _A Manual of Roman Antiquities_, p. 357.

[126:2] Frank Granger, _The Worship of the Romans_, p. 227.

[127:1] C. W. King, _The Gnostics and their Remains_, p. 316.

[128:1] _Archæologia_, vol. xxx, pp. 427-28; 1884.

[129:1] Brand, _Popular Antiquities_, vol. iii, p. 269.

[129:2] _Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland_,
vol. ii, p. 74.

[129:3] _Ancient Cures, Charms, and Usages of Ireland_, p. 9.

[129:4] Vol. i, pp. 356 _seq._

[130:1] George F. Fort, _Medical Economy during the Middle Ages_, p.

[130:2] Vol. iv, p. 1698.

[132:1] George F. Fort, _Medical Economy_, p. 296.

[133:1] Robley Dunglison, _History of Medicine_, p. 18.

[133:2] _The Sacred Books of the East_, edited by F. Max Müller, vol.
xlii, p. 2.



The discovery of the script of the ancient Germans, supposed to be of
Egyptian or Phenician origin, was attributed to Wodan, who was regarded
as the chief expert in magical writing. The so-called noxious runes were
thought to bring evil upon enemies; the helpful ones averted misfortune,
while the medicinal runes were credited with healing properties.[135:1]
These ancient characters formed the earliest alphabets among the
Germanic peoples, and are found throughout Scandinavia, as well as in
Great Britain, France, and Spain, engraved upon monuments, stones,
coins, and domestic utensils. The Gothic word _runa_ meant originally a
secret magical character, and was used to signify a mysterious speech,
song, or writing. The reputed inherent therapeutic qualities of
medicinal runes were potent psychic factors, through the subconscious
mind, in healing disease.

The Anglo-Saxons made use of runic inscriptions, not only as curatives,
but also to banish melancholy and evil thoughts. After their conversion
to Christianity, biblical texts were substituted for the runes, and the
art of composing the former was studied with as much care as had been
devoted to the heathen charms.[136:1] The term _rune_ became a synonym
for knowledge and wisdom; an oracular, proverbial expression.[136:2] The
traditional belief of the Anglo-Saxons in the efficacy of healing runes
persisted in the fourteenth century. When foreign medical practitioners
settled in England at that period, the cures wrought by them were
attributed to the superior virtues of the charms employed, rather than
to their professional skill.[136:3]

The ancient Saxons, before their arrival in Britain, were wont to go
forth into battle, having engraven upon their spears certain runic
characters, which were valued as protective charms, and served to
inspire confidence on the part of the warriors. These magic inscriptions
were believed to have been either invented or improved by Wodan, who
taught the art of putting them into rhyme, and engraving them upon
tables of stone.[136:4] In William Camden's "Britannia,"[136:5] are
described divers medicinal inscriptions, found in Cumberland. These were
used as spells among the borderers even as late as the close of the
eighteenth century. A book of such charms, of that era, taken from the
pocket of a moss-trooper or bog-trotter, contained among other things a
recipe for the cure of intermittent fever by certain barbarous characts.

In Paul B. du Chaillu's work, "The Viking Age" (London, 1889), mention
is made of the ancient northern custom of employing runes as medical

One Egil went on a journey to Vermaland, and on the way he came to the
house of a farmer named Thorfinn, whose daughter, Helga, had long been
ill of a wasting sickness. "Has anything been tried for her illness?"
asked Egil. "Runes have been traced by the son of a farmer in the
neighborhood," said Thorfinn.

Then Egil examined the bed, and found a piece of whalebone with runes on
it. He read them, cut them off, and scraped the chips into the fire. He
also burned the whalebone, and had Helga's clothes carried into the open
air. Then Egil sang:

     As man shall not trace runes,
     except he can read them well,
     it is thus with many a man,
     that the dark letters bewilder him.
     I saw on the cut whalebone ten hidden
     letters carved, that have caused the woman
             a very long sorrow.

Egil traced runes and placed them under Helga's pillow. It seemed to
her as if she awoke from a sleep, and she said that she was then

The ancient northern peoples wore protective and defensive amulets,
which were fastened around the arm, waist, or neck. These amulets were
styled _ligamenta_, _ligaturæ_, or _phylacteria_, by the writers of the
early Middle Ages. They were usually fashioned as gold, silver, or glass
pendants. Cipher-writing and runes were commonly inscribed upon them,
often for healing, but contrariwise, to bewitch and injure.[138:2]

Among the peoples of Western Europe, ancient magical healing formulas,
relics of previous ages, were employed in medieval times by rural
charlatans, who professed to cure ophthalmic disorders by the recitation
of ritualistic phrases, together with suitable gestures of the arms and
fingers over the affected eyes. Dislocations were said to have been
promptly reduced by means of runic enchantments, which were doubtless
supplemented by mechanical treatment; while fractured bones of man or
beast were alleged to unite readily under the influence of Odinic
charms. Wherever the Teutonic races were found, a knowledge of runic
remedies appears to have prevailed.[138:3]


[135:1] M. Mallet, _Northern Antiquities_, p. 226.

[136:1] John Thrupp, _The Anglo-Saxon Home_.

[136:2] Nelson's _Encyclopædia_.

[136:3] H. D. Traill, _Social England_, vol. ii, p. 110.

[136:4] Joseph Strutt, _Manners of the English_, vol. i, p. 17.

[136:5] Vol. iii, p. 455.

[138:1] _The Egil's Saga_, chap. 72.

[138:2] Jacob Grimm, _Teutonic Mythology_, pp. 1173-1174.

[138:3] George F. Fort, _Medical Economy in the Middle Ages_.



Metallo-therapy has been defined as a mode of treating various
affections, chiefly those of a nervous character, by the external
application of metals. It was recommended by Galen and other medical
writers, but they attributed its curative powers to the magical
inscriptions which the metals bore.

Mesmer experimented with magnets extensively, but soon abandoned their
use, as he found that he could obtain equally good results without them.

The so-called "metallic tractors" originated with Dr. Elisha Perkins
(1740-1799), a practising physician of Norwich, Connecticut, and
consisted of two rods, one of brass, and the other of steel. In cases of
rheumatism and various neuroses, the affected portions of the body were
lightly stroked by means of the tractors, and many remarkable cures were
reported. The new therapeutic method was endorsed by many reputable
practitioners, both in the United States and Europe, and its fame spread
like wild-fire.

It was soon discovered, however, that wooden tractors were fully as
efficacious as the metallic ones, and that the many vaunted cures were
psychic. Thus Perkins's tractors afford a striking example of the
curative force of suggestion.

Thereby (wrote John Haygarth, M.D., Fellow of the Royal Medical Society
of Edinburgh, in a brief treatise on the Imagination, published in the
year 1800) is to be learned an important lesson in Medicine, namely, the
wonderful and powerful influence of the passions of the mind, upon the
state and disorders of the body. This fact, he continued, was too often
overlooked in Practice, where sole dependence was placed upon material
remedies, without utilizing mental influence. To the latter, this
sagacious physician, writing more than a century ago, was shrewd enough
to ascribe the marvellous cures attributed to the remedies of quacks,
whose magnificent and unqualified promises inspire weak minds with

In one of his Lowell Institute lectures, at Boston, November 14, 1906,
Dr. Pierre Janet described the development of metallo-therapy in France
between the years 1860 and 1880. Metallic discs were applied to the
patient's body. These discs were of different kinds, sometimes being
composed of two or more metals. In some cases a magnet was used.
Different subjects, it was found, did not manifest sensitiveness to the
same metals, some being cured by iron, others by copper, while the
greatest number were susceptible to gold. Many interesting facts
relating to these cures were noted, such as periods of transition and
oscillation in the maladies, and most curious of all, a kind of
transference. For example, should a paralysis or a contraction seat
itself on the right side, the application of the discs would effect a
cure, but the malady would often return to the opposite side. And there
were other curious phenomena. A modification of sensation was invariably

Under the influence of the metal disc, the shin and muscles, which
before were numb, regained their normal states, and the return of
sensation preceded the cure, and was an indispensable condition. One can
obtain exactly the same results with discs composed of inert substances.
An old-fashioned letter-wafer, for instance, applied to the hand, has
produced similar effects. According to Dr. Janet, these phenomena are
wholly due to psychic agencies, partly akin to suggestion and partly
different. They depend upon the mechanism of attention. This faculty,
when directed upon any organ, will bring into prominence sensations not
ordinarily felt.

Consciousness is limited, in that it does not always take cognizance of
all the existing sensations. This explains the phenomenon of
transference, in that the suppression of those sensations which were
prominent brings to the surface others which were not before recognized
by the consciousness.

As a result of the introduction of metallo-therapy in the hospitals of
Paris, an enormous number of hysterical patients applied for treatment,
influenced partly, no doubt, by the love of notoriety.



Although curative attributes were ascribed to the magnet in ancient
times, and the same belief prevailed in the Middle Ages, the noted
charlatan Paracelsus (1493-1541) was the first to propound the theory of
the existence of magnetic properties in the human body. During the
seventeenth century several persons in Great Britain claimed the ability
to cure diseases by stroking with the hand, and of these the most
notable was the celebrated Irish empiric, Valentine Greatrakes

It was asserted, moreover, by certain practitioners, that by magnetizing
a sword it could be made to cure any wound which the sword had
inflicted. And about the year 1625, Dr. Robert Fludd, an English
physician of learning and repute, introduced the famous "weapon-salve,"
which became immensely popular. Its ingredients consisted of moss
growing on the head of a thief who had been hanged, mummy dust, human
blood, suet, linseed oil, and Armenian bole, a species of clay. All
these were mixed thoroughly in a mortar. The sword, after being dipped
in the blood from the wound, was carefully anointed with the precious
mixture, and laid by in a cool place. Then the wound was cared for
according to the most approved surgical methods, with thorough cleansing
and bandaging.

The successful results naturally attending this treatment were
attributed by the _ignobile vulgus_ to the wonderful ointment. There
were sceptics who denied its efficacy, but the new remedy appealed to
the popular imagination. However, a certain Pastor Foster issued a
pamphlet entitled "A Spunge to wipe away the Weapon-Salve," which latter
the writer affirmed to be an invention of the Devil, who gave it to
Paracelsus, by whom it was bequeathed to the eminent Italian physician,
Giambattista della Porta, and finally was acquired by Doctor Fludd. In
reply to this attack, the latter published a vigorous refutation, under
the following caption: "The Squeezing of Parson Foster's Spunge, wherein
the Spunge-bearer's immodest carriage and behaviour towards his
brethren, is Detected; the Bitter Flames of his slanderous reports are,
by the sharp Vinegar of Truth, Corrected and quite Extinguished, and
lastly, the virtuous validity of his Spunge in wiping away the
Weapon-Salve, is crushed out and clean abolished."

In commenting on certain superstitious methods in surgery, which were in
vogue in the sixteenth century, the noted chemist and physician, Andrew
Libavius, a native of Halle, in Saxony, remarked that while wounds are
healed by nature, pretended magical remedies may be of use by directing
the natural forces to the spot, _through the imagination_.

Another favorite remedy, somewhat akin to the weapon-salve, was the
so-called "sympathetic powder," which was said to consist of sulphate of
copper prepared with mysterious ceremonies.

According to popular report, the recipe was brought from the East by a
Carmelite friar, and was introduced in England by Sir Kenelm Digby, a
noted chemist and philosopher of the seventeenth century, who was also a
Gentleman of the Bedchamber of Charles I. He published a volume on the
healing of wounds by means of this preparation. Portions of the
patient's bloodstained apparel were immersed in a solution of the
sympathetic powder, the wound meantime being cleansed and bandaged. A
strictly enforced regimen also formed part of the treatment.

As may readily be inferred, this wonderful powder, like the
weapon-salve, was equally efficacious, whether used at a distance from
the patient, or near by.

But it has ever been true, that the positive and reiterated assertions
of a charlatan will usually avail to delude not only the wonder-loving
public, but even persons of intellect and distinction. The secret of the
sympathetic powder became known to Dr. Theodore Turquet de Mayerne (at
one time the chief physician of James I), who is said to have derived
considerable profit from the sale of this once famous nostrum.[146:1]

The system of therapeutics known as Mesmerism, originated by Friedrich
Anton Mesmer (1733-1815), a German physician, affords a notable example
of the influence of the mind upon the body through the imagination. In
its essential principles, it does not materially differ from the ancient
method of healing by laying-on of hands. As a young man Mesmer became
interested in astrology, believing that the stars exert, according to
their relative position at certain times, a direct influence upon human
beings. He at first identified this supposed force with electricity, and
afterwards with magnetism. Later he claimed to be endowed with a
mysterious power available for the cure of various diseases. Removing to
Paris in 1778, Mesmer at once began to demonstrate his theories,
maintaining that he was able to exercise a therapeutic effect upon his
patients, by virtue of a magnetic fluid proceeding from him, or simply
by the domination of his will over that of the patient.

He asserted that the magnetic fluid is the medium of a mutual influence
between the stars, the earth, and human beings. By insinuating itself
into the substance of the nerves of the human body, it affects them at
once, being moreover capable of communication from one body to other
bodies, animate or inanimate. It perfects the action of medicines, and
heals affections of the nerves. In animal magnetism nature presents a
universal method of benefiting mankind. Such, at least, was the
declaration of Mesmer.[147:1]

With a view to influencing the imaginations of his patients, this shrewd
practitioner caused his consulting apartments in Paris to be dimly
lighted and surrounded by mirrors. Strains of soft music were heard,
subtle odors pervaded the air, and the patients were seated around a
circular oaken trough or _baquet_, in which were disposed a row of
bottles containing so-called electrical fluid. A complicated system of
wires connected the mouths of the bottles with handles, which were
grasped by the patients. After the latter had waited for a while in
expectant silence, Mesmer would appear, wearing a coat of lilac silk,
and carrying a magician's wand, which he manipulated in a graceful and
mysterious manner. Then, discarding the wand, he passed his hands over
the bodies of the patients for a considerable time, "until the
magnetized person was saturated with the healing fluid."

So great was the interest aroused by Mesmer's methods and the many
seemingly marvellous cures resulting therefrom, that the Royal Society
of Paris appointed a commission, which included Benjamin Franklin, to
investigate the subject. The members of this commission reported that
those patients who were not aware of the fact that they were being
magnetized experienced no effects from the treatment. Those who were
told that they were being magnetized experienced symptoms, although the
magnetizer was not near them. Imagination, apart from magnetism,
produced marked effects, while magnetism, without imagination, produced
nothing. The benefits resulting from Mesmer's treatment were due,
according to the commission's report, to three factors, namely: (1)
actual contact; (2) the excitement of the imagination; and (3) "the
mechanical imitation which impels us to repeat that which strikes our

The ability to cure disease without the use of medicines or surgical
appliances has been claimed by alleged healers in all ages. When such
cures were effected, they were attributed to a special gift with which
the healer was divinely endowed, and this gift was bestowed, in rare
instances, upon individuals who were distinguished by especial sanctity.
Mesmer did not claim this quality, and yet he performed cures which were
as notable as those of any saint or inspired healer of earlier times. He
believed that through animal magnetism a direct physical effect was
exerted upon the human body. And this effect he held to be due to the
virtues of a subtle fluid.

Frank Podmore, in "Mesmerism and Christian Science" (1909), expresses
the belief that Mesmer obtained many of his ideas from his
contemporary, Gassner. For even if he did not actually meet the latter,
Mesmer must have known him by reputation and doubtless was familiar with
his methods of healing. Gassner was a believer in the demoniac theory of
disease, and sought to expel the evil spirit by chasing it from one part
of the body to another, finally driving it out by word of command, from
the fingers or toes. Similar procedures were characteristic of Mesmer's
earlier methods, but were not retained by his successors.

One of Mesmer's most prominent followers was Armand Marc Jacques de
Chastenet, Marquis de Puységur, born of noble ancestry at Paris, March
1, 1751. He entered early upon a military career, and attained by
successive promotions the rank of colonel in the Royal Artillery in
1778. Serving with distinction at the siege of Gibraltar during the
Spanish campaign, he was appointed field-marshal in 1789, and
lieutenant-general in 1814. Meanwhile he had become greatly interested
in the subject of animal magnetism, having been at one time a pupil of
Mesmer, whom he had assisted at the latter's _séances_. Retiring to his
château at Buzancy, Department of Aisne, in northern France, he devoted
himself to the study of the phenomena of mesmerism, and to practical
experimentation of its therapeutic value in the open air, beneath the
dense foliage of the forests, after the style of the ancient Druids.
Puységur introduced new methods of magnetizing, and demonstrated that
many of the resultant phenomena could be made to appear by gentle
manipulation, and without the mysterious appliances and violent
procedures of Mesmer. Mindful of the latter's assertion that wood could
be magnetized, he decided to experiment upon a large elm tree which grew
upon the village green. As a result, streams of magnetic fluids were
alleged to pass from its branches by means of cords twisted around the
bodies of patients, who sat in a circle about the tree, with thumbs
interlocked, in order to afford a direct passage for the healing

In his work entitled "Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire et à
l'établissement du Magnétisme Animal" (London, 1786), Puységur affirmed
his belief in the ancient doctrine of the existence of a universal
fluid, vivifying all nature, and always in motion. This doctrine he
maintained to be an ancient truth, the rejection whereof was due to
ignorance. He continued his researches and practice until his death at
Buzancy, August 1, 1825.

The magnetic fluid, according to some authorities, may be reflected like
light or propagated like sound, and increased, opposed, accumulated, and
transmitted to another object. Moreover this principle, which is akin to
a sixth sense, artificially acquired, may be employed for the cure of
nervous affections, by provoking and directing salutary crises, thus
bringing the healing art to perfection.

     Mesmerism clearly appears to be no more than an antecedent of
     hypnotism; few, if any, of the distinctive features of the
     modern science appearing in an appreciated form in its
     practices. Mesmer had little experience and no appreciation of
     the hypnotic state, or of the phenomena of suggestion; he
     constantly elaborated his physical manipulations, denied the
     imagination any place in his effects, and regarded the crisis
     as the distinctive and essential factor in his cures; and when
     confronted with subjects in hypnotic state, pronounced the
     production of this state as foolish and regarded it as a
     subordinate phase of the magnetic crisis.[151:1]

Thomson Jay Hudson, in his volume, "The Law of Mental Medicine," affirms
that the therapeutic successes of the ancient method of laying-on of
hands, the King's touch, metallic tractors, and mesmerism are fully
explained by the doctrine of suggestion, the mental energy of the healer
being transmitted as a therapeutic impulse from his subjective mind
through the medium of the nerves to the affected cells of the patient's
body, connection being established by so-called cellular rapport, that
is, "by bringing into physical contact the nerve-terminals of the two

The distinguished psychologist, James Braid, said that whoever supposes
that the power of imagination is merely a mental emotion, which may vary
to any extent, without corresponding changes in the physical functions,
labors under a mighty mistake. Suggestions by others of the ideas of
health, vigor, and hope, are influential with many people for restoring
health and energy both of mind and body. Having then such an effective
power to work with, the great desideratum has been to find the best
means for regulating and controlling it, so as to render it subservient
to our will for relieving and curing diseases. The modes devised, both
by mesmerists and hypnotists, for these ends, are a real, solid, and
important addition to practical therapeutics.[152:1]

The importance of suggestive healing methods can hardly be
overestimated, and has been emphasized by many writers. Notable among
recent publications on the subject are Dr. T. J. Hudson's work, entitled
"The Law of Psychic Phenomena," and Dr. A. T. Schofield's "Unconscious
Mind." Dr. Pierre Janet, in one of his Lowell Institute lectures, in
Boston, November 3, 1906, remarked that

     Before the time of Mesmer the sleep produced by magnetizers
     was really the cause of numberless cures. Hypnotism, which has
     replaced it little by little since 1840, and has been more
     rapidly developed since 1878, differs from its ancestor more
     in the interpretation of the phenomena than in the practices
     themselves. It has naturally had the same therapeutic
     applications, and its methods are probably legitimate.
     Hypnotic sleep has had many helpful influences. It is really a
     change in the equilibrium of the brain and mental faculties
     and produces great modifications in the memory and in
     sensibility. Life is indeed a long series of habits to which
     we are accustomed; hypnotism changes these habits which in a
     normal condition we do not try to modify, and on awakening,
     all memory of the change is gone, although its effects may

     Now oftentimes the nervous system becomes fixed in certain
     disagreeable or dangerous habits, and the upsetting of these,
     the uplifting of the mind from the rut, is of great service.
     In the sleep of hypnotism speech, action, methods of thought,
     all are changed, there is a cerebral rest, and beneficial
     results often follow.

     From the period following Braid's contributions up to the
     foundation of modern hypnotism, . . . the history of the
     subject may be briefly told. The field is occupied largely by
     propagandists of one or another of the extravagant forms
     of animal magnetism . . . by traveling mesmerists, by
     sensationally advertised subjects, and by a small and
     unorganized number of scientific men, attempting to stem the
     tide of mysticism and error with which the others were
     deluging the public. The recognition of hypnotism as an
     altered physiological and psychological condition, after
     repeated demonstrations, at last gained the day, securing for
     the phenomena a place in the accepted body of scientific

Professor Bernheim says that the hypnotic condition and the phenomena
associated therewith are purely subjective, and originate in the nervous
system of the patient.

     The fixation of a brilliant object, so that the muscle which
     holds up the upper eyelid becomes fatigued, and the
     concentration of the attention on a single idea, bring about
     the sleep. The subjects can even bring about this condition in
     themselves, by their own tension of mind, without being
     submitted to any influence from without. In this state the
     imagination becomes so lively that every idea spontaneously
     developed or suggested, by a person to whom the subject gives
     this peculiar attention and confidence, has the value of an
     actual representation to him.[154:1]

It has been well said that if Mesmer's methods served only to
demonstrate the curative power of the imagination, they have been of
some benefit to humanity.

The consideration of hypnotic cures does not appertain to our theme. Far
from these being primitive methods, they represent what is most modern
and advanced in psycho-therapeutics.


[146:1] Francis J. Shepherd, M.D., _Medical Quacks and Quackery_.

[147:1] F. A. Mesmer, _Mémoire sur la Découverte du Magnétisme Animal_;
Paris, 1779.

[151:1] _The Cosmopolitan_, vol. xx, p. 363.

[152:1] Braid, _Neurypnology_, p. 338.

[153:1] _The Cosmopolitan_, February, 1896.

[154:1] H. Bernheim, M.D., _Suggestive Therapeutics_, p. 111.



From early times it was a universal custom to place at the beginning of
a medical prescription certain religious verses or superstitious
characters, which formed the invocation, or prayer to a favorite
deity.[155:1] Angelic beings were frequently appealed to, and among
these the Archangel Raphael was thought to be omnipotent for the cure of
disease. John Aubrey, in his "Miscellanies," relates that a certain
physician, Dr. Richard Nepier, a person of great piety, whose knees were
horny with much praying, was wont to ask professional advice of this
archangel, and that his prescriptions began with the abbreviation "R.
Ris." for _Responsum Raphælis_, Raphael's answer. The name of Raphael
was often seen on amulets and talismans. But our information regarding
this angel is derived chiefly from the Book of Tobit, where Raphael is
represented as the guide and counsellor of the young Tobias. In one of
the later _Midrashim_, Raphael appears as the angel commissioned to put
down the evil spirits that vexed the sons of Noah with plagues and
sicknesses after the Flood, and he it was who taught men the use of
"simples," and furnished materials for the "Book of Noah," the earliest
treatise on materia medica.[156:1]

A recent writer affirms that ℞ is the emblem of the sun-god _Ra_, and
signifies "In the name of _Ra_," or "_Ra_, God of Life and Health,
inspire me."[156:2] This deity was regarded as the Supreme Being, not
only by the Egyptians, but by other heathen people of antiquity, because
the sun was the greatest and most brilliant of the planets.

In Egyptian hieroglyphics[156:3] _Ra_ was represented as a hawk-headed
man, holding in one hand the symbol of life, and in the other the royal

The medical symbol ℞, still in use at the present day, owes its
origin, however, neither to the angel Raphael nor to the god _Ra_. It is
the ancient sign of Jupiter. This sign, which also symbolized the metal
tin, had many modifications, some of which were as follows: Z, ♃, Ψ.

These were gradually replaced by the letter R, or its astrological
modification ℞, which was equivalent to _Recipe_, Jupiter,--Take, O
Jupiter! We are told that the astrological signs were thus brought into
use during Nero's reign, and that the practice of Medicine was then and
afterwards regulated by the government. It is not improbable that
Christian physicians were obliged to follow the example of their heathen
professional brethren in prefixing to their prescriptions invocations to

Johann Michael Moscherosch (1600-1669), a learned German writer, offered
a unique explanation of the meaning of the medical symbol ℞, which he
maintained to be equivalent to _Rec_, an abbreviation for _per decem_.
And he explained the significance of the latter as being that one
prescription out of ten might be expected to prove beneficial to the
patient. It is certain, wrote Dr. Otto A. Wall, in his volume, "The
Prescription," that pharmacies for the dispensing of medicines on
physicians' prescriptions were already in existence at the ancient
Spanish city of Cordova, and at other large municipalities under the
control of the Arabs, previous to the twelfth century. And as early as
1233, pharmacy laws had already been passed in the Two Sicilies. By that
time, it appears probable that medical prescriptions were no longer mere
superstitious formulas, but that they contained directions for
compounding material remedies having more or less medicinal virtues.

Modern medical prescriptions may be classed as lineal descendants of the
healing-spells of former ages. In the most ancient known
pharmacopœia, a papyrus discovered about the year 1858 in the
Necropolis at Thebes, and believed to date from the sixteenth century
B. C., no invocations or symbols are found, nor were the latter
generally employed as prefixes to medical formulas prior to the first
century A. D.; when their use appears to have originated among the
Greeks and Romans, and the custom has continued until the present day.
At the time of the alchemists, in the sixteenth century, "the influence
of the Church on the minds of men, or perhaps the fear of the
Inquisition, led physicians to adopt an invocation to the Christian God;
just as they abbreviated a prayer to crossing themselves with their
fingers over their foreheads and breasts, so they contracted the
invocation to the sign of the cross as a superscription."[158:1]

Thus instead of the sign ℞ some physicians began their prescriptions
with the Greek letters Α. Ω.; or the letters J. D. for
_Juvante Deo_, C. D. for _Cum Deo_, or N. D. for _Nomine Dei_.

Dr. Rodney H. True, lecturer on botany at Harvard College, in a paper on
Folk Materia Medica, read at a meeting of the Boston branch of the
American Folk-Lore Society, February 19, 1901, gave a list of
therapeutic agents, mostly of animal origin, forming the stock in trade
of a European druggist some two hundred years ago. This list includes
the fats, gall, blood, marrow from bones, teeth, livers, and lungs of
various animals, birds, and reptiles; also bees, crabs, and toads,
incinerated after drying; amber, shells, coral, claws, and horns; hair
from deer and cats; ram's wool, partridge feathers, ants, lizards,
leeches, earth-worms, pearl, musk, and honey; eyes of the wolf,
pickerel, and crab; eggs of the hen and ostrich, cuttlefish bone, dried
serpents, and the hoofs of animals.

With the development of materia medica in Europe, the use of animal
drugs diminished; but during the last decade of the nineteenth century,
extracts of animal organs were manufactured on a large scale, and found
a ready market. Thus some of the articles mentioned are reckoned among
remedial agents to-day, but most of them doubtless owed their virtues to
mental action. Wolf's eyes in former times and bread pills nowadays may
be cited as typical remedies, acting through the patient's imagination
and possessing no intrinsic curative properties, yet nevertheless
valuable articles of the pharmacopœia from the standpoint of
suggestive therapeutics. In a list of Japanese quack medicines, of the
present time, we find mention of "Spirit-cheering" pills.[159:1]

In "A Booke of Physicke and Chirurgery, with divers other things
necessary to be knowne, collected out of sundry olde written bookes, and
broughte into one order. Written in the year of our Lorde God 1610,"
among many curious prescriptions we find the following: "A good
oyntment against the vanityes of the heade. Take the juice of worm woode
and salte, honye, waxe and incens, and boyle them together over the
fire, and therewith anoynte the sick heade and temples." The volume
referred to was the property of Mr. William Pickering, an apparitor of
the Consistory Court at Durham, England.

A commentator on the above prescription observed that few coxcombs,
dandies, and heads filled with bitter conceits, would like to be
anointed with this cure of self-sufficiency. The wax might make the
plaster stick, but it might be feared that the honey and the incense
would neutralize the good effects to be expected from the wormwood and
salt. If, however, the phrase "vanityes of the head" be interpreted to
mean a dearth of ideas, we may assume that the above prescription was
intended as a stimulus to the imagination, and as such it might well
have a therapeutic value.

Dr. William Salmon, a London practitioner, published in the year 1693 "A
Short Manual of Physick, designed for the general use of Her Majestie's
subjects, accommodated to mean capacities, in order to the Restauration
of their Healths."

In this little volume we find a prescription for "an Elixer Universall,
not particular for any distemper," as follows:

     Rex Metallorum [gold]                  ℥ ss.
     Pouder of a Lyon's heart               ℥ iv.
     Filings of a Unicorn's Horn            ℥ ss.
     Ashes of the whole Chameleon           ℥ iss.
     Bark of the Witch Hazle            Two handfulls.
     Lumbrici [Earth-worms]                A score.
     Dried Man's Brain                       ℥ v.
     Bruisewort      }
     Egyptian Onions }                     aa lbss.

     Mix the ingredients together and digest in my _Spiritus
     Universalis_, with a warm digestion, from the change of the
     moon to the full, and pass through a fine strainer. This
     Elixer is temperately hot and moist, Digestive, Lenitive,
     Dissolutive, Aperative, Strengthening and Glutinative; it
     opens obstructions, proves Hypnotick and Styptick, is
     Cardiack, and may become Alexpharmick. It is not specially
     great for any one Single Distemper, but of much use and
     benefit in most cases wherein there is difficulty and
     embarrassment, or that which might be done, doth not so
     clearly appear manifest and Open to the Eye.

The above elixir is a fine specimen of the product of a shrewd
charlatan's fertile brain, and doubtless found a ready sale at an
exorbitant price. The fact that one, at least, of its ingredients is
mythical, probably enhanced its curative properties, in the minds of a
gullible public. The horn of the unicorn was popularly regarded as the
most marvellous of remedies. In reality, it was the tusk of a cetaceous
animal inhabiting the northern ocean, and known as the sea-unicorn or
narwhal. In the popular mind it was of value as an effective antidote
against all kinds of poisons, the bites of serpents, various fevers,
and the plague.

In describing a scene in the Arctic regions, Josephine Diebitsch Peary
wrote as follows in her volume, "The Snow Baby" (1901):

     Glossy, mottled seals swim in the water, and schools of
     narwhal, which used to be called unicorns, dart from place to
     place, faster than the fastest steam yacht; with their long,
     white ivory horns, longer than a man is tall, like spears, in
     and out of the water.

One of the teeth of the narwhal is developed into a straight, spirally
fluted tusk, from six to ten feet long, like a horn projecting from the
forehead. This horn is sometimes as long as the creature's body, and
furnishes a valuable ivory. The narwhal also yields a superior quality
of oil.[162:1]

Sir Thomas Browne in his "Pseudo-doxia Epidemica"[162:2] remarked that
many specimens of alleged unicorn's horn, preserved in England, were in
fact portions of teeth of the Arctic walrus, known as the morse or
sea-horse. In northern latitudes these teeth are used as material
wherewith to fashion knife-handles or the hilts of swords. The long
horns, preserved as precious rarities in many places, are narwhal-tusks.

The belief in the medicinal virtues of unicorn's horn is comparatively
modern, as none of the ancients, except the Italian writer Ælian (about
A. D. 200), ascribed to it any curative or antidotal properties. Sir
Thomas Browne characterized this popular superstition of his time as an
"insufferable delusion."

H. B. Tristam, in his "Natural History of the Bible," remarks that there
is no doubt of the identity of the unicorn of Scripture with the
historic _urus_ or aurochs, known also as the _reêm_, a strong and large
animal of the ox-tribe, having two horns. This animal formerly inhabited
Europe, including Great Britain, and survived until comparatively recent
times, in Prussia and Lithuania. The belief in the existence of a
one-horned quadruped is very ancient. Aristotle mentions as such the
oryx or antelope of northern Africa. The aurochs was hunted and killed
by prehistoric man, as is shown by the finding of skulls, pierced by
flint weapons.[163:1]

In the Septuagint, the Hebrew word _reêm_ was translated _monoceros_ in
the Greek text. This is alleged by some authorities to be an incorrect
rendering. The Vulgate has the Latin term _unicornis_, the one-horned.

In Lewysohn's "Zoologie des Talmuds" is to be found the following
rabbinical legend: When the Ark was ready, and all the creatures were
commanded to enter, the _reêm_ was unable to pass through the door,
owing to its large size. Noah and his sons were therefore obliged to
fasten the animal by a rope to the Ark, and to tow it behind. And in
order to prevent its being strangled, they attached the rope to its
horn, instead of around its neck. . . . It was formerly thought that the
legendary unicorn was in reality the one-horned rhinoceros, but this
seems improbable. The fabulous creature mentioned by classic writers as
a native of India was described as having the size and form of a horse,
with one straight horn projecting from its forehead. In the museum at
Bristol, England, there is a stuffed antelope from Caffraria, which
closely answers this description. Its two straight taper horns are so
nearly united that in profile they appear like a single horn.

The unicorn of Heraldry first appeared as a symbol on one of the
Anglo-Saxon standards, and was afterwards placed upon the Scottish
shield. When England and Scotland were united under James I, the silver
unicorn became a supporter of the British shield, being placed opposite
the golden lion, in the royal arms of Great Britain.[164:1]


[155:1] Jonathan Pereira, _Selecta e Prescriptis_, p. 5.

[156:1] Rönsch, _Buch der Jubiläen_, p. 385.

[156:2] _Notes and Queries_, Tenth Series, June 4, 1904.

[156:3] F. Lenormant, _Chaldean Magic_, p. 81.

[157:1] Evidence of the old belief in planetary influence is found in
our language in the words "jovial," "mercurial," "saturnine," "martial,"
"disastrous," and "ill-starred."

[158:1] Otto A. Wall, M.D., _The Prescription_, pp. 12-23. In this work
much space is devoted to the history and evolution of medical recipes.

[159:1] _Boston Herald_, February 27, 1908.

[162:1] _The Century Dictionary._

[162:2] Book iii, p. 130.

[163:1] _Encyclopædia Britannica_, art. "Unicorn"; Rev. J. G. Wood,
_Bible Animals_.

[164:1] F. S. W., _Dame Heraldry_, p. 175.



A relic has been defined as an object held in reverence or affection,
because connected with some sacred or beloved person deceased. And
specifically, in the Roman Catholic and Greek churches, a saint's body
or portions of it, or an object supposed to have been associated with
the life or body of Christ, of the Virgin Mary, or of some saint or
martyr, and regarded therefore as a personal memorial, worthy of
religious veneration.[165:1]

The worship of relics and the belief in their healing properties appear
to have originated in a very ancient custom which prevailed among the
early Christians, of assembling at the tombs of martyrs, for the purpose
of holding memorial services. The bones of saints also became objects of
great veneration, and this doctrine was supported by the teachings of
Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and other Fathers of the
Church, of the fourth and fifth centuries. The belief in the marvellous
virtues attributed to sacred relics was sustained by such miracles as
that recorded in 2 Kings, xiii, 21: "And it came to pass, as they were
burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the
man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man was let down, and
touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet."

Some authorities, however, ascribe the origin of the cult of relics to
the words contained in Acts, v, 15: "Insomuch that they brought forth
the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at
the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them."

In the year 325, Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, the
first Christian Emperor of Rome, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where
she was alleged to have discovered the wood of the true Cross. This,
according to tradition, was found, with two other crosses and various
sacred relics, under a temple of Venus, which stood near the Holy
Sepulchre. And the true Cross was identified by means of a miraculous
test; for when a sick woman was touched with two of the crosses, no
effect was apparent; but upon contact with the true Cross, she was
immediately restored to health.[166:1] Such is the legend.

Of the four nails found in the place where the Cross was buried, one was
said to have been sent to Rome. Another the Empress Helena threw into
the Gulf of Venice, to allay a storm; while the other two were sent by
her to Constantine, who welded one of them to his helmet, as an amulet,
and affixed the other to his horse's headstall.

Among the classic peoples, symbols of their gods were used by physicians
in writing prescriptions for material remedies, as invocations or
charms, and were credited with the same wonderful healing powers which
were ascribed to holy relics, blessed medals and amulets, and in later
times to many purely superstitious remedies.[167:1]

The worship of relics naturally afforded a strong impulse to visit
sacred places, and especially Palestine.

     Generally speaking, the prized relic, a piece of the true
     cross, whether possessed by a church, a crowned head or a
     private individual, is a minute speck of wood, scarcely
     visible to the naked eye, set sometimes on an ivory tablet,
     and always inclosed in a costly reliquary. M. Rohault de
     Fleury, who calculates that the total volume of the wood of
     the original cross must have been somewhere about 178,000,000
     cubic millimetres, has made a list of all the relics of which
     he can find any record, and the sum of their measurements
     amounts to only 3,941,975 cubic millimetres, or about one
     forty-fifth of the amount of wood necessary to reconstruct the
     original cross. In the United States there is not an
     authenticated relic of the cross as large as half a
     lead-pencil, and some are so minute as to be visible only
     through the aid of a microscope. The Church of St. Francis
     Xavier in New York has a fragment which is exposed for
     veneration on Easter Sunday, as is the custom in European
     churches possessing a relic. Another fragment, at the
     Cathedral, is shown on Good Friday. This relic is in a crystal
     and gold casket, set with precious stones, which form the
     centre of a handsome altar cross. The French Church of St.
     Jean Baptiste, in East Seventy-sixth Street, also possesses a
     relic of the cross.[168:1]

The powder obtained by scraping the tombstones of saints, when placed in
water or wine, was in great repute as a remedy. The French historian,
Gregory of Tours (544-595), was said to have habitually carried a box of
this powder, when travelling, which he freely dispensed to patients who
applied to him.

Great was his faith in this substance, as is apparent from his own
words: "Oh, indescribable mixture, incomparable elixir, antidote beyond
all praise! Celestial purgative (if I may be permitted to use the
expression), which throws into the shade every medical prescription;
which surpasses in fragrance every earthly aroma, and is more powerful
than all essences; which purges the body like the juice of scammony,
clears the lungs like hyssop, and the head like sneezewort; which not
only cures the ailing limbs, but also, and this is much more valuable,
washes off the stains from the conscience!"[168:2]

Chrysostom (350-407) commented on the fact of the whole world's
streaming to the site of Christ's crucifixion. Rome was also a favorite
resort of pilgrims, chiefly as the site of the graves of the great
apostles, while many flocked to the tomb of Saint Martin of Tours.
Meanwhile, wrote Henry C. Sheldon in a "History of the Christian
Church," there were emphatic cautions against an overestimate of the
value of pilgrimages. The eminent Greek Father, Gregory of Nyssa
(332-398), said that change of place brings God no nearer.

The cult of relics developed rapidly in the Middle Ages. Even the theft
of these precious objects, we are told, was condoned, "in virtue of the
benevolent intent of the thief to benefit the region to which the
treasure was conveyed."[169:1] The custom received encouragement from
many eminent scholars, who appear to have been deceived by certain
mysterious physical phenomena, the nature of which was not understood
even in comparatively recent times.[169:2]

Pope Gregory the First (550-604), we are told, was wont to bestow, as a
mark of his special favor, presents of keys, in which had been worked up
some filings of Saint Peter's chains, accompanied with a prayer that
what had bound the apostle for martyrdom, might release the recipient
from his sins.

The second Nicene Council (A. D. 787) decreed that no church should be
consecrated unless it enshrined some relics.[170:1]

At the celebrated Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino, in southern Italy,
which was founded in the year 529, the care of the sick was enjoined as
a pious obligation. There diseases were treated chiefly by means of
prayers and conjurations, and by the exposition and application of
sacred relics, which appealed to the patients' imagination, and thereby,
through suggestion, assisted the healing forces of nature.[170:2]

Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, in "British Monachism," states that among the
early monks of England, medical practice devolved on clerks, on account
of their ability to read Latin treatises on therapeutics.

Until the middle of the fifteenth century, physicians were forbidden to
marry, owing to the prevalent opinion that the father of a family could
not heal so well as a bachelor. The art of writing prescriptions was
made to conform to the dogmas of the existing religion, "for which
reason relics were introduced into the Materia Medica."

The medieval priests and monks, who were actively interested in the
development of medical science, encouraged the therapeutic use of such
relics. Miraculous agencies were the more eagerly sought after on
account of the popular belief in devils and witches as morbiferous

The reliquary, or repository for relics, was regarded as the most
precious ornament in the lady's chamber, the knight's armory, the king's
hall of state, and in the apartments of the pope or bishop.[171:1]

Gradually the custom of relic-worship degenerated into idolatry. In the
year 1549 John Calvin published a tract on the subject, wherein he
stated that the great majority of alleged relics were spurious, and that
it could be shown by comparison that each Apostle had more than four
bodies, and that every Saint had two or three at least. The arm of Saint
Anthony, which had been worshipped at Geneva, when removed from its
case, proved to be part of a stag. Among the vast number of precious
relics, presumably false, which were exhibited at Rome and elsewhere,
were the manger in which Christ was laid at his birth, the pillar on
which he leaned, when disputing in the temple, and the waterpots in
which he turned water into wine at the marriage feast of Cana at


[165:1] _Century Dictionary._

[166:1] E. Cobham Brewer, _A Dictionary of Miracles_, art. "Relics."

[167:1] Otto A. Wall, M.D., _The Prescription_.

[168:1] _Boston Courier_, March 26, 1910.

[168:2] Dr. Hugo Magnus, _Superstition in Medicine_.

[169:1] H. C. Sheldon, _op. cit._

[169:2] William Smith and Samuel Cheetham, _A Dictionary of Christian
Antiquities_, art. "Relics."

[170:1] _All the Year Round_, vol. 69, p. 246; 1891.

[170:2] _Time_, vol. v; February, 1887.

[171:1] Henry Hart Milman, D.D., _History of Latin Christianity_, vol.
vi, p. 248.

[171:2] Philip Schaff, _History of the Christian Church_.



     Dubito, an omnia, quae de incantamentis dicuntur
     carminibusque, non sint adscribenda effectibus musicis, quia
     excellebant eadem veteres medici.
                                    HERMANN BOERHAAVE. (1668-1738.)

     Preposterous ass! that never read so far
     To know the cause why music was ordained.
     Was it not to refresh the mind of man,
     After his studies, or his usual pain?--
                       _The Taming of the Shrew_, Act III, Scene 1.

     I think sometimes, could I only have music on my own terms,
     could I live in a great city, and know where I could go
     whenever I wished and get the ablution and inundation of
     musical waves, that were a bath and medicine.
                                                     R. W. EMERSON.

     Musick, when rightly order'd, cannot be prefer'd too much. For
     it recreates and exalts the Mind at the same time.

     It composes the Passions, affords a strong Pleasure, and
     excites Nobleness of Thought. . . .

     What can be more strange than that the rubbing of a little
     hair and cat-gut together, should make such a mighty
     Alteration in a Man that sits at a distance?
                            JEREMY COLLIER, _Essay on Music_: 1698.

     "Music the fiercest grief can charm."
                                 POPE, _St. Cecilia's Day_, I, 118.

From time immemorial the influence of musical sounds has been recognized
as a valuable agent in the treatment of nervous affections, and for the
relief of various mental conditions. According to one theory, the
healing quality of a musical tone is due to its regular periodic
vibrations. It acts by substituting its own state of harmony for a
condition of mental or physical discord. Noise, being inharmonious, has
no curative power. Music may be termed the health and noise the disease
of sound.[173:1]

"The man that hath no music in himself," says Shakespeare ("The Merchant
of Venice," Act v, Scene 1), "nor is not moved with concord of sweet
sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. The motions of his
spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus. Let no such
man be trusted. . . ."

The ancient Egyptians were not ignorant of musico-therapy. They called
music physic for the soul, and had faith in its specific remedial
virtues. Music was an accompaniment of their banquets, and in the time
of the fourth and fifth dynasties consisted usually of the harmony of
three instruments, the harp, flute, and pipe.[173:2] The Persians are
said to have cured divers ailments by the sound of the lute. They
believed that the soul was purified by music and prepared thereby for
converse with the spirits of light around the throne of Ormuzd, the
principle of truth and goodness. And the most eminent Grecian
philosophers attributed to music important medicinal properties for both
body and mind.

John Harrington Edwards, in his volume, "God and Music,"[174:1] remarks
that the people of antiquity had much greater faith than the moderns in
the efficacy of music as a curative agent in disease of every kind;
while the scientific mind of to-day demands a degree of evidence which
history cannot furnish, for asserted cures by this means in early times.

Impressed with the sublime nature of music, the ancients ascribed to it
a divine origin. According to one tradition, its discovery was due to
the sound produced by the wind whistling among the reeds, which grew on
the borders of the Nile.

Polybius, the Greek historian of the second century B. C., wrote that
music softened the manners of the ancient Arcadians, whose climate was
rigorous. Whereas the inhabitants of Cynætha (the modern town of
Kalavrita) in the Peloponnesus, who neglected this art, were the most
barbarous in Greece. Baron de Montesquieu, in "The Spirit of Laws,"
remarked that as the popular exercises of wrestling and boxing had a
natural tendency to render the ancient Grecians hardy and fierce, there
was a necessity for tempering those exercises with others, with a view
to rendering the people more susceptible of humane feelings. For this
purpose, said Montesquieu, music, which influences the mind by means of
the corporeal organs, was extremely proper. It is a kind of medium
between manly exercises, which harden the body, and speculative
sciences, which are apt to render us unsociable and sour. . . . Let us
suppose, for example, a society of men so passionately devoted to
hunting as to make it their sole employment; they would doubtless
contract thereby a kind of rusticity and fierceness. But if they
happened to imbibe a taste for music, we should quickly perceive a
sensible difference in their customs and manners. In short, the
exercises used by the Greeks could raise but one kind of passions,
namely, fierceness, indignation, and cruelty. But music excites all
these, and is likewise able to inspire the soul with a sense of pity,
lenity, tenderness, and love.

In a rare work, styled "Reflexions on Antient and Modern Music, with the
application to the Cure of Diseases,"[175:1] we find that the custom
prevailed, among certain nations of old, of initiating their youth into
the studies of harmony and music. Whereby, it was believed, their minds
became formed to the admiration and esteem of proportion, order, and
beauty, and the cause of virtue was greatly promoted. "Music," moreover,
"extends the fancy beyond its ordinary compass, and fills it with the
gayest images."

Christianus Pazig, in "Magic Incantations," page 29, relates that the
wife of Picus, King of Latium, was able by her voice to soothe and
appease wild animals, and to arrest the flight of birds.

And the French traveller Villamont asserted that crocodiles were
beguiled by the songs of Egyptian fishermen to leave the Nile, and
allowed themselves to be led off and exposed for sale in the markets.

Recent experiments have confirmed the traditional theory of the soothing
effect of music upon wild animals. A graphophone, with records of Melba,
Sembrich, Caruso, and other operatic stars, made the rounds of a
menagerie. Many of the larger animals appeared to thoroughly enjoy
listening to the melodious strains, which seemed to fascinate them. The
one exception, proving the rule, was a huge, blue-faced mandrill, who
became enraged at hearing a few bars from "Pagliacci," and tried to
wreck the machine. Of all the animals, the lions were apparently the
most susceptible to musical influence, and these royal beasts showed an
interest in the sweet tones of the graphophone, akin to that of a human

There is abundant evidence of the fondness of spiders for soothing
musical tones. The insects usually approach by letting themselves down
from the ceiling of the apartment, and remain suspended above the
instrument.[176:2] Professor C. Reclain, during a concert at Leipsic,
witnessed the descent of a spider from a chandelier during a violin
solo. But as soon as the orchestra began to play, the insect retreated.
Mr. C. V. Boys, who has made some interesting experiments with a view to
determining the susceptibility of spiders to the sound of a tuning-fork,
reports, in "Body and Mind," that by means of this instrument, a spider
may be made to eat what it would otherwise avoid. Male birds charm their
mates by warbling, and parrots seem to take delight in hearing the piano
played, or in listening to vocal music.

Charles Darwin, in "The Descent of Man," remarks that we can no more
explain why musical tones, in a certain order and rhythm, afford
pleasure to man and the lower animals, than we can account for the
pleasantness of certain tastes and odors. We know that sounds, more or
less melodious, are produced, during the season of courtship, by many
insects, spiders, fishes, amphibians, and birds. The vocal organs of
frogs and toads are used incessantly during the breeding season, and at
this time also male alligators are wont to roar or bellow, and even the
male tortoise makes a noise.

Music is the sworn enemy of ennui or boredom, and the demons of
melancholy. It "hath charms," wrote William Congreve (1670-1729), "to
soothe the savage breast."[177:1] Orpheus with his lyre was able to
charm wild beasts, and even to control the forces of Nature; and
because of its wonderful therapeutic effects, which were well known to
the Greeks, they associated Music with Medicine as an attribute of
Apollo.[178:1] Chiron the centaur, by the aid of melody, healed the
sick, and appeased the anger of Achilles. By the same means the lyric
poet Thales, who flourished in the seventh century B. C., acting by
advice of an oracle, was able to subdue a pestilence in Sparta.[178:2]

Pythagoras also recognized the potency of music as a remedial force.
Tuneful strains were believed by the physicians of old to be uncongenial
to the spirits of sickness; but among medicine-men of many American
Indian tribes, harsh discordant sounds and doleful chants have long been
a favorite means of driving away these same spirits.[178:3] Aulus
Gellius, the Roman writer of the second century, in his "Attic
Nights,"[178:4] mentioned a traditionary belief that sciatica might be
relieved by the soft notes of a flute-player, and quoted the Greek
philosopher Democritus (born about B. C. 480) as authority for the
statement that the same remedy had power to heal wounds inflicted by
venomous serpents. According to Theophrastus, a disciple of Plato and
Aristotle (B. C. 374-286), gout could be cured by playing a flute over
the affected limb;[179:1] and the Latin author Martianus Capella, who
flourished about A. D. 490, asserted that music had been successfully
employed in the treatment of fevers, and in quieting the turbulence of
drunken revellers.

Among the ancient northern peoples, also, songs and runes were reckoned
powerful agents for working good or evil, and were available "to heal or
make sick, bind up wounds, stanch blood, alleviate pain, or lull to
sleep."[179:2] A verse of an old Icelandic poem, called the "Havamal,"
whose authorship is accredited to Wodan, runs as follows: "I am
possessed of songs, such as neither the spouse of a king nor any son of
man can repeat. One of them is called, 'the Helper.' It will help thee
at thy need, in sickness, grief, and all adversities. I know a song
which the sons of men ought to sing, if they would become skilful

The Anglo-Saxons appreciated the healthful influence of music. At a very
early period in their history, a considerable number of persons adopted
music and singing as a profession. It was the gleemen's duty to
entertain royal personages and the members of their courts. Afterwards
these functions devolved upon the minstrels, a class of musicians who
wandered from castle to camp, entertaining the nobility and gentry with
their songs and accompaniments. The intermediate class of musicians,
whom the later minstrels succeeded, appeared in France during the eighth
century, and came, at the time of the Norman Conquest, to England, where
they were assimilated with the Anglo-Saxon gleemen.[180:1] In the early
poetry of Scandinavia there is frequent reference to the magical
influence of music. Wild animals are fascinated by the sound of a harp,
and vegetation is quickened. The knight, though grave and silent, is
attracted, and even though inclined to stay away, cannot restrain his

The earliest biblical mention of music as a healing power occurs in
Samuel, XVI, 23, where David (the son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite) cured
the melancholy of King Saul by playing upon the harp. "So Saul was
refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."

In medieval times, music was successfully employed in the treatment of
epidemic nervous disorders, a custom which probably originated from the
ancient song-remedies or incantations.[180:3] The same agent was also
used as an antidote to the poison of a viper's fang, especially the
tarantula's bite, which was believed to induce tarantism, or the dancing
mania. Antonius Benivenius, a learned Italian physician of the
fifteenth century, related that an arrow was drawn from a soldier's body
by means of a song.

A notable instance of the power of vocal music in charming away
obstinate melancholy is in the case of Philip V of Spain, where the
melodious voice of the great Italian singer Farinelli proved effective
after all other remedies had failed.

Such are a few instances of the influence of song and melody as
seemingly magical agencies, and therefore not inappropriately may they
be classed under that branch of folk-lore which deals with
healing-spells and verbal medical charms.

It has been well said that music is entitled to a place in our Materia
Medica. For while there may not be much music in medicine, there is a
great deal of medicine in music. For the latter exerts a powerful
influence upon the higher cerebral centres, and thence, through the
sympathetic nervous system, upon other portions of the body. Indeed the
entire working of the human mechanism, physical and psychical, may be
aided by the beautiful art of music. With some people the digestion is
facilitated by hearing music. Voltaire said that this fact accounted for
the popularity of the opera.

In such cases the music probably acts by banishing fatigue, which
interferes with the proper assimilation of food. Hence one may derive
benefit from listening to the orchestra during meal-times at
fashionable hotels. Milton believed in the benefit to be derived from
listening to music before dinner, as a relief to the mind. And he also
recommended it as a post-prandial exercise, "to assist and cherish
Nature in her first concoctions, and to send the mind back to study, in
good tune and satisfaction." Milton practised what he preached, for it
was his custom, after the principal meal of the day, to play on the
organ and hear another sing.[182:1]

The Reverend Sydney Smith once said that his idea of heaven was eating
_foie gras_ to the sound of trumpets.

There is evidence that in ancient times the banquets, which immediately
followed sacrifices, were attended with instrumental music. For we read
in Isaiah, v, 12: "And the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe, and
wine, are in their feasts." And in the households of wealthy Roman
citizens, instruction was given in the art of carving, to the sound of
music, with appropriate gestures, under the direction of the official
carver (_carptor_ or _scissor_).[182:2]

We find in the "Apocrypha"[182:3] the following passage: "If thou be
made the master of a feast . . . hinder not musick. . . . A concert of
musick in a banquet of wine is as a signet of carbuncle set in gold. As
a signet of an emerald set in a work of gold, so is the melody of musick
with pleasant wine."

Chaucer, in his "Parson's Tale," speaks of the _Curiositie of
Minstralcie_, at the banquets of the well-to-do in his day.

The banquets of the Anglo-Saxons were enlivened by minstrels and
gleemen, whose visits were welcome breaks in the monotony of the
people's lives. They added to their musical performances mimicry and
other means of promoting mirth, as well as dancing and tumbling, with
sleights of hand, and a variety of deceptions to amuse the
company.[183:1] In the intervals between the musical exercises, the
guests talked, joked, propounded and answered riddles, and boasted of
their own exploits, while disparaging those of others. Later,
when the liquor took effect, they were wont to become noisy and
quarrelsome.[183:2] "Then wine wets the man's breast-passions; suddenly
rises clamour in the company, an outcry they send forth various."[183:3]

In the great houses of the nobility and gentry, minstrels' music was the
usual seasoning of food. It is true, wrote Mons. J. J. Jusserand, in
"English Wayfaring Life of the Fourteenth Century," that "the voices of
the singers were at times interrupted by the crunching of the bones,
which the dogs were gnawing under the tables, or by the sharp cry of
some ill-bred falcon; for many lords kept these favorite birds on
perches behind them."

We learn from the same authority that in the great dining-halls of the
castles of the wealthy, galleries were placed for the accommodation of
the minstrels, above the door of entrance, and opposite to the dais upon
which stood the master's table.


[173:1] _Boston Transcript_, March 10, 1900.

[173:2] George Rawlinson, _History of Ancient Egypt_, vol. ii, p. 49.

[174:1] J. G. Millingen, M.D., _Curiosities of Medical Experience_.

[175:1] London, 1749.

[176:1] _Boston Sunday Herald_, May 2, 1909.

[176:2] George J. Romanes, _Animal Intelligence_.

[177:1] _The Mourning Bride_, Act I, Scene 1.

[178:1] Joseph Ennemoser, _The History of Magic_, vol. i, p. 358.

[178:2] _Music_, vol. ix, p. 361; 1896.

[178:3] Daniel G. Brinton, _The Myths of the New World_, p. 306.

[178:4] Book iv, chap. 13.

[179:1] Larousse, _Dictionnaire_, art. "Incantation."

[179:2] Brand, _Popular Antiquities_, vol. iii, p. 1226.

[179:3] M. Mallet, _Northern Antiquities_, p. 351.

[180:1] _Century Dictionary_, under "Minstrel."

[180:2] Thomas Keightley, _The Fairy Mythology_, p. 98.

[180:3] George F. Fort, _Medical Economy during the Middle Ages_, p.

[182:1] _Music_, vol. ix; 1896.

[182:2] William Smith, _A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities_,
art. "Coena."

[182:3] Ecclus. xxxii, 1-6.

[183:1] Joseph Strutt, _Sports and Pastimes of the People of England_.

[183:2] Thomas Wright, _A History of Domestic Manners and Sentiments in
England during the Middle Ages_.

[183:3] _Exeter Manuscript_; British Museum.



Dr. Herbert Lilly, in a monograph on musical therapeutics, expresses the
opinion that musical sounds received by the auditory nerve, produce
reflex action upon the sympathetic system, stimulating or depressing the
vaso-motor nerves, and thus influencing the bodily nutrition. He
maintains, without fear of contradiction, that certain mental conditions
are benefited by suitable musical harmonies. Muscle-fatigue is overcome
by stimulating melodies, as is strikingly exemplified in the effect of
inspiring martial strains upon wearied troops on the march. And it
appears to be an established fact that the complex process of digestion
is facilitated by cheerful music, of the kind termed "liver music" by
the French, which is provided by them at banquets.[185:1]

But in regard to this subject, there have been not a few scoffers and
dissenters, even among people of distinction. Douglas Jerrold, the
playwright, was one of these, for he declared that he disliked dining
amidst the strains of a military band, because he could taste the brass
in his soup. Charles Lamb, in his chapter on "Ears," remarked, that
while a carpenter's hammer, on a warm summer day, caused him to "fret
into more than midsummer madness," these unconnected sounds were nothing
when compared with the measured malice of music. For while the ear may
be passive to the strokes of a hammer, and even endure them with some
degree of equanimity, to music it cannot be passive. The noted author
relates having sat through an Italian opera, till, from sheer pain, he
rushed out into the noisiest places of the crowded streets, to solace
himself with sounds which he was not obliged to follow, and thus get rid
of the distracting torment of endless, fruitless, barren attention!
According to his frank avowal, music was to him a source of pain, rather
than of pleasure.

The Reverend Richard Eastcott, in his "Sketches of the Origin, Progress
and Effects of Music," told of a "gentleman of very considerable
understanding," who was heard to declare that the rattling of a fire-pan
and tongs was as grateful to his feelings as the best concert he ever
heard. However, such rare exceptions, if not germane to our subject, may
be said to prove the general rule that music is of real value in
therapeutics, and that most people are susceptible to its beneficent

Music has accomplished a great many things and has been put to many
uses, but it is seldom employed in making good boys out of bad.

An almost accidental experiment at the Middlesex County truant school
at North Chelmsford has shown it to be a truth, that wickedness takes
flight at martial strains; for a full-fledged brass band, in which the
delinquent youths are the musicians, has fairly revolutionized the
discipline of the school, and many a lad who did not have half a chance
has been started "right" on the road to success.

The question is often asked: How can music effect a
character-metamorphosis in the boy who has every mental and moral
indication of turning out badly?

Music is an educative factor of prime importance, and promotes the
evolution of good hereditary traits. Whatever the psychologic
explanation of its effects may be, it appears to develop the qualities
of kindness and manliness.[187:1]

Not every one, however, is influenced by the foregoing considerations. A
recent writer, in an essay on the "Plague of Music," remarks that under
the name of music we are afflicted with every variety of noise; for
example, the sounds produced by hurdy-gurdies, bag-pipes and minstrels;
the harpman, the lady who has seen better days, and who sings before our
house in the evening. "Not to mention the millions of pianos and the
millions of fiddles that never cease being thumped and scratched all the
world over, night and day. The contemplation of such collective discord
is truly appalling."[188:1]

The famous English philosopher, Roger Bacon (1214-1292), known as "The
Admirable Doctor," wrote that a cheerful mind brings power and vigor,
makes a man rejoice, stirs up Nature, and helps her in her actions and
motions; of which sort are joy, mirth, and whatever provokes laughter,
as also instrumental music and songs, facetious conversation, and
observation of the celestial bodies.

It has been proved, by physiological experiments upon men and the lower
animals, that musical sounds produce a marked effect upon the
circulation. The pulse-rate is usually quickened, and the force of the
heart-beats increased in varying degrees, dependent upon the pitch,
intensity and _timbre_ of the sounds, and the idiosyncrasy of the

It may be safely affirmed, therefore, that music should have a place
among psychic remedial agents.

A recent writer has remarked that the "Marsellaise" was like wine to the
French revolutionists, and lifted many a head, and straightened many a
weary back on some of those terrible forced marches of Napoleon's.

Music may be classed in the same category with certain drugs, as a
therapeutic agent. And like drugs, each composition has its own special
effect. Thus a brisk Strauss waltz might act as a stimulant, but it
would not answer as a narcotic. A nocturne would be sure to

The time may come when a German street-band will be recognized as a
powerful tonic; a cornet solo will take the place of a blister; a
symphony or a sonata may be recommended instead of morphine; the moxa
will give way to Wagner, and opium to Brahms. A prolonged shake by a
singer will drive out chills and fever, according to the theory of
Hahnemann. Cots at symphony concerts may yet command the highest

Music is one of those intangible but effective aids of Medicine, which
exert their healthful influence through the nervous system. It is in
fact a mental tonic. A writer in the London "Lancet" remarks that "a
pleasing and lively melody can awake in a faded brain the strong emotion
of hope, and energizing by its means the languid nerve control of the
whole circulation, strengthen the heart-beat and refresh the vascularity
of every organ. Even aches are soothed for a time by a transference of
attention, and why then should not pain be lulled by music?"

Robert Burton, author of "The Anatomy of Melancholy," in commenting on
the curative effects of music, remarked that it is a sovereign remedy
against mental depression, capable even of driving away the Devil

     "When griping grief the heart doth wound,
        And doleful dumps the mind oppress,
      Then music with her silver sound,
        With speedy help doth lend redress."
                               _Romeo and Juliet_, Act IV, Scene 5.

The nurse's song, Burton wrote, makes a child quiet, and many times, the
sound of a trumpet on a sudden, bells ringing, a carman's whistle, a boy
singing some ballad on the street, alters, revives and recreates a
restless patient who cannot sleep in the night. Many men are made
melancholy by hearing music, but the melancholy is of a pleasing kind.

In a curious German treatise, "Der Musikalische Arzt,"[190:1] we find
the following quotation from an article entitled "Reflections on Ancient
and Modern Music."[190:2]

"If it be demanded how musick becomes a remedy, and inciteth the patient
to dance, 'tis answer'd that sound having a great influence upon the
actions of the air, the air mov'd causeth a like motion in the next air,
and so on till the like be produced in the Spirits of the body, to which
the air is impelled."

According to the French physician, Jean Etienne Dominique Esquirol
(1772-1840), music acts upon the physique by determining nervous
vibrations, and by exciting the circulation. It acts upon the _morale_
by fixing the attention upon sweet impressions, and by calling up
agreeable recollections.

François Fournier de Pescay, a contemporary of the above-named,
commented on the fact that many famous writers of antiquity regarded
music as a panacea, whereas in the light of modern medical science, it
cannot be considered as an effective remedy in such affections as
rheumatism, for example.[191:1]

An _adagio_ may set a gouty father to sleep, and a _capriccio_ may
operate successfully on the nerves of a valetudinary mother. A slight
indisposition may be removed by a single air, while a more obstinate
case may require an overture or a _concerto_. The tastes of the patient
should be consulted.

Country squires, when kept indoors by stress of bad weather, will
experience much relief in a hunting-song, while young gentlemen of the
town will perhaps prefer an old English derry-down. Hospital inmates
will usually be content with hurdy-gurdies, and the poorer classes may
be supplied with ballads at their own homes. Some patients will recover
with all the rapidity of a jig, while others will mend in minuet-time.
And surely the public welfare will be eminently promoted, when our
physicians' prescriptions are printed from music-type, and when we have
nothing more nauseous to swallow than the words of a modern

According to the Dutch physician Lemnius (1505-1568), music is a chief
antidote against melancholy; it revives the languishing soul, affecting
not only the ears, but the vital and animal spirits. It erects the mind,
and makes it nimble.

The Reverend Sydney Smith graphically described the effect of enlivening
music upon an audience, who had been manifestly bored and were gaping
with ennui during the execution of an elaborate fugue, by a skilled
orchestra. Suddenly there sprang up a lively little air, expressive of
some natural feeling. And instantly every one beamed with satisfaction,
and was ready to aver that music affords the most delightful and
rational entertainment.

And such is doubtless the opinion of the great majority of people of
culture and refinement, especially those of a jovial or mercurial
temperament. According to Martin Luther, the Devil is a saturnine
person, and music is hateful to him.

Many and sundry are the means, says Robert Burton, which philosophers
and physicians have prescribed to exhilarate a sorrowful heart, to
divert those fixed and intent cares and meditations, which in this
malady so much offend; but in my judgment, none so present, none so
powerful, none so apposite as mirth, music and merry company.[193:1]

During recent years the influence of music in disease has been the
subject of renewed attention. In London Canon Harford, an enthusiastic
believer in the efficacy of this method of treatment, organized bands of
musicians, under the auspices of the Order of Saint Cecilia, who visited
certain hospitals, where permission had been given, and there exercised
their art with results highly encouraging and beneficial.

And in Boston Dr. John Dixwell has for many years been active in
providing music for hospital patients. His admirable enterprise has been
successful, and has received the endorsement of the medical fraternity.
A wise discrimination is essential in the selection of music especially
adapted to benefit any particular class of cases.

The National Society of Musical Therapeutics was founded in the city of
New York, by Miss Eva Augusta Vescelius, in the year 1903, with the
object of encouraging the study of music in relation to life and health;
and also for the promotion of its use as a curative agent in hospitals,
asylums, and prisons. The therapeutic use of music is believed to have
passed the experimental stage. It is now admitted, says Miss Vescelius,
that music can be so employed as to exercise a distinct psychological
influence upon the mind, nerve-centres and circulatory system; and may
serve as an efficient remedy for many ills to which the flesh is said to
be heir. The selection of music in hospitals and asylums needs
thoughtful consideration, for there we meet with all kinds of discord.
An emotional song, for example, which would give pleasure to one, might
sadden another, and a patient suffering from nostalgia would not be
benefited by a melody suggesting a home-picture.

Will the trained nurse of the future have to include voice culture in
her training before she is declared competent to minister to the wants
of the sick?

This question is raised by Dr. George M. Stratton, professor of
experimental psychology in Johns Hopkins University. In an address on
"The Nature and Training of the Emotions," delivered before more than a
hundred nurses of the hospitals of Baltimore, he made the broad
statement that music would be a vital factor in treating the sick in the

Dr. Stratton did not insist that every nurse of the future must be a
Patti, a Melba, or a Nordica; but he held that in the future a young
woman who devotes her life to nursing the sick should be able to sing to
the patient under her care.[194:1]

The mental effect of music is generally recognized as beneficial, in
that it lifts the entire being into a higher state. That this effect is
communicated to the body, is admitted, but the extent of physical
benefit has not been sufficiently investigated either by musicians or by
scientists. In the application of music for the treatment of disease, it
should be remembered that the seat of many disorders is primarily in the
mind, and that therefore the mental condition must be radically changed
before a cure is possible. "In listening to music, the mind absorbs
those tones which have become silenced in itself, and in the body as a
necessary consequence; just as the stomach assimilates those
food-elements which are required to repair the waste of the system. Thus
our music-food is selected and distributed where it is most needed, and
this natural selection of musical vibrations acts specifically upon
those parts of the body which are out of harmony. A concert programme is
a _menu_ for the multitude. We hear all the music printed on it, but
digest very little of it. Some kinds of music thus heard, must
inevitably be wasted on the listener, or cause a musical

The English clergyman and writer, Hugh Reginald Haweis, extols music as
a healthy outlet for emotion, and as especially adapted for young
ladies. Joy flows naturally into ringing harmonies, says he, while music
has the subtle power to soften melancholy, by presenting it with its
fine emotional counterpart.

A good play on the piano has not unfrequently taken the place of a good
cry upstairs, and a cloud of ill-temper has often been dispersed by a
timely practice. One of Schubert's friends used to say that, although
very cross before sitting down to his piano, a long scramble-duet
through a symphony or through one of his own delicious and erratic
pianoforte duets, always restored him to good humor.[196:1]

For many years the subject of musico-therapy has been discussed
editorially in the columns of the "London Lancet." We give some
statements emanating from this authority.

Music influences both brain and heart through the spinal cord, probably
on account of its vibratory or wave motion, which stimulates the
nerve-centres. . . .

It acts as a refreshing mental stimulant and restorative. Therefore it
braces depressed nervous tone and indirectly through the nervous
system reaches the tissues. It is of most use in depressed mental
conditions. . . . The value of music as a therapeutic agent cannot yet
be precisely stated, but it is no quack's nostrum. It is an intangible,
but effective aid of medicine.

It seems strange that the healing influence of music has not been more
thoroughly studied from a psychological standpoint, and utilized, when
one is mindful of the great store of evidence, gathered for centuries,
of the marked power of this agent upon the lower animals, and of its
worth as a mental, and therefore as a physical tonic and stimulant, for
human beings. A chief reason for this neglect has been ascribed to the
materialistic views which have prevailed in therapeutics.

It was formerly believed quite generally, in Italy and elsewhere, that
music was the only efficient cure for the effects of the bite of the
tarantula, a species of large spider, so called from the city of
Taranto. These effects consisted of a feigned or imaginary disease known
as tarantism, which was prevalent in Apulia and other portions of
southern Italy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Tarantism
was an epidemic nervous affection characterized by involuntary dancing,
gesticulations, contortions and cries. In spite, however, of all that
has been written on this subject by physicians and historians, it
appears to be a fact that the bite of the tarantula is not more venomous
than that of other large spiders. Indeed, Dr. H. Chomet, who diligently
investigated the matter, never succeeded in finding a case of tarantism,
nor was he able even to obtain a glimpse of one of these insects.

It is certain, however, that tarantism was very prevalent in earlier
times. J. F. C. Hecker, M.D., in his "Epidemics of the Middle Ages,"
stated that the music of the flute, cithern or other instrument alone
afforded relief to patients affected with this disease. So common was
it, that the cities and villages of Apulia resounded with the beneficent
strains of fifes, clarinets and drums. And the superstition was general
that by means of music and dancing, the poison of the tarantula was
distributed over the whole body, and was then eliminated through the
pores of the skin.

The bite of the star-lizard, _Stellio vulgaris_, of Southern Europe, was
also popularly believed to be poisonous.

According to Perotti (1430-1480), persons who had been bitten by this
reptile fell into a state of melancholia and stupefaction. While in this
condition they were very susceptible to the influence of music. At the
very first tone of a favorite melody, they sprang up, shouting for joy,
and danced without intermission until they sank to the ground,

Frequent allusions to the remarkable therapeutic power of music, and
especially to its specific anti-toxic virtues, are to be found in the
works of many writers. Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), in "Arcadia," book
1, said: "This word did not less pierce poor Pyrocles, than the right
tune of music toucheth him that is sick of the tarantula." And Jonathan
Swift (1667-1745), in "The Tale of a Tub," has this passage: "He was
troubled with a disease, reversed to that called the stinging of the
tarantula, and would run dog-mad at the noise of music, especially a
pair of bag-pipes." Again: "This Malady has been removed, like the
Biting of a Tarantula, with the sound of a musical instrument."[199:1]

Many physicians and historians have written on this subject, and with
singular unanimity have endorsed music as a curative agent for

Notable among these were Alexander ab Alexandro, a prominent Neapolitan
civilian, who flourished toward the close of the fifteenth century, and
Athanasius Kircher, a famous German Jesuit, in a treatise entitled "Ars
Magnetica de Tarantismo" (Rome, 1654). Dr. Richard Mead, in an essay on
the tarantula, published in 1702, wrote that this insect was wont to
creep about in the Italian corn-fields during the summer months, and at
that season its bite was especially venomous. Music was the sole remedy
employed, and none other was needed. Among other authorities may be
mentioned: Dr. Pierre Jean Burette (1665-1747), "Dialogue sur la
musique"; Dr. Giorgio Baglivi, "De Anatomia, Morsu et Effectibus
Tarantulae Dissertatio" (1695); and Dr. Théodore Craanen, a Dutch
physician, "Tractatus physico-medicus De Tarantula" (Naples, 1722).
Worthy of note also is an elaborate dissertation, "System einer
Medizinischen Musik" (Bonn, 1835), by Dr. Peter Joseph Schneider,
wherein the author devotes several pages to this interesting theme.

Dr. Mead, above mentioned, gave a curious description of the symptoms
of tarantism. "While the patients are dancing," said he, "they lose in a
manner the use of all their senses, like so many drunkards, and indulge
in many ridiculous and foolish antics. They talk and act rudely, and
take great pleasure in playing with vine-leaves, naked swords, red
cloths, and the like. They have a particular aversion for anything of a
black color, so that if a bystander happens to appear in apparel of that
hue, he must immediately withdraw; otherwise the patients relapse into
their symptoms with as much violence as ever."


[185:1] _New York Medical Record_, October 29, 1909.

[187:1] _Boston Daily Advertiser_, November 7, 1907.

[188:1] Mrs. John Lane, _The Champagne Standard_.

[188:2] _Chambers's Journal_, vol. lxxi, p. 145; 1894.

[189:1] _Appleton's Booklovers' Magazine_, July, 1905.

[189:2] _Boston Herald_, May 12, 1907.

[190:1] Wien (Vienna), 1807.

[190:2] _Philosophical Transactions_, 1668, p. 662.

[191:1] _The Lancet_, vol. ii; 1880.

[192:1] _The Gentleman's Magazine_, vol. lxxvii; November, 1807.

[193:1] _Anatomy of Melancholy_, vol. ii, p. 132.

[194:1] _The Chicago Inter-Ocean._

[195:1] _Boston Transcript_, March 10, 1900.

[196:1] _Music and Morals._

[199:1] _The Spectator_, August 18, 1714.



     Quackery and the love of being quacked, are in human nature as
     weeds are in our fields.
                                       DR. J. BROWN, _Spare Hours_.

     They are Quack-salvers, Fellowes that live by senting oyles
     and drugs.
                            BEN JONSON, _Volpone_, Act II, Scene 2.

     These, like quacks in Medicine, excite the malady to profit by
     the cure, and retard the cure to augment the fees.
                                                 WASHINGTON IRVING.

     Here also they have, every night in summer, a world of
     Montebanks, _Ciarlatani_, and such stuff, who together with
     their remedies, strive to please the People with their little
     Comedies, Popet-plays and songs.
                                    R. LASSELS, _Voy. Ital._: 1698.

     _Le monde n'a jamais manqué de charlatans; cette science, de
     tout temps, fut en professeurs très fertile._
                                                       LA FONTAINE.

     He took himself to be no mean Doctour, who being guilty of no
     Greek, and being demanded why it was called an _hectic_ fever;
     'because,' saith he, 'of an _hecking_ cough, which ever
     attendeth that disease.'
                                   THOMAS FULLER, _The Holy State_.

     Man is a dupable animal. Quacks in Medicine, quacks in
     Religion, and quacks in Politics know this and act upon that
     knowledge. There is scarcely anyone who may not, like a trout,
     be taken by tickling.
                                                    ROBERT SOUTHEY.

     Quack doctors are indeed pompous, self-sufficient, affectedly
     solemn, venal and unfeeling with a vengeance.
                                               VICESIMUS KNOX, D.D.

     If Satan has ever succeeded in compressing a greater amount
     of concentrated mendacity into one set of human bodies, above
     every other description, it is in the advertising quacks.
                            _Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal._

     The bold and unblushing assertion of the empiric, of a
     never-failing remedy, constantly reiterated, inspires
     confidence in the invalid, and not unfrequently tends by its
     operation on the mind, to assist in the eradication of
                                         THOS. J. PETTIGREW, F.R.S.

The word _quack_, meaning a charlatan, is an abbreviation of
_quack-salver_. To quack is to utter a harsh, croaking sound, like a
duck; and hence secondarily, to talk noisily and to make vain and loud
pretensions.[202:1] And a salver is one who undertakes to perform cures
by the application of ointments or cerates. Hence the term quack-salver
was commonly used in the seventeenth century, signifying an ignorant
person, who was wont to extol the curative virtues of his salves. Now we
see, said Francis Bacon, in "The Advancement of Learning,"[202:2] the
weakness and credulity of men. For they will often prefer a mountebank
or witch before a learned physician. And therefore the poets were
clear-sighted in discerning this extreme folly, when they made
Esculapius and Circe brother and sister. For in all times, in the
opinion of the multitude, witches, old women and impostors have had a
competition with physicians.

According to one authority, the term _quack_ is derived from an ancient
Saxon word, signifying small, slender and trifling, and hence was
applied to shallow and frivolous itinerant peddlers, who foisted upon a
credulous community such wares as penny-plasters, balsam of liquorice
for coughs, snuffs for headaches, and infallible eye-lotions.[203:1]

It has also been maintained that quack is a corruption of _quake_, and
that quack-doctors were so called because, in marshy districts, patients
affected with intermittent fever, sometimes vulgarly known as the
_quakes_, were wont to be treated by ignorant persons, who professed to
charm away the disease, and hence were styled _quake-doctors_.

In William Harrison's "Description of the Island of Britain," occurs the
following curious passage: "Now we have many chimneys, and yet our
tenderlings complain of reumes, catarres and poses; then had we none but
reredores, and our heads did never ake. For, as the smoke in those days
was supposed to be a sufficient hardening for the timber of the house,
so it was reputed a far better medicine to keep the good man and his
family from the _quacke_ or pose, wherewith as then very few were
acquainted." A writer in "Notes and Queries,"[203:2] remarked that the
word _quacke_, in the foregoing extract, probably signified a disease
rather than a charlatan, and possibly the mysterious affection known as
"the poofs," from which good Queen Bess suffered one cold winter. This
_quacke_ appears to have been a novelty and therefore fashionable,
affected by the tenderlings of that era, "as the proper thing to have."
The quack-doctor, continues the writer above mentioned, must have been a
fashionable style of man, not meddling much with the poor, and familiar
with boudoirs, curing the new disease with new and wondrous remedies.

May not the word _quacke_, asks Stylites, another enquirer, as above
used, mean _quake_ or ague? For an ague-doctor must have had much
employment, and if successful, great renown, in those days of fens,
marshes and undrained ground.

In an anniversary discourse delivered before the New York Academy of
Medicine, November 7, 1855, Dr. John Watson remarked that the numbers
and pretensions of the illegitimate sons of Esculapius were as great in
ancient as in modern times. And they were quite as wont to receive the
patronage of the upper classes. The Emperor Nero thus favored the shrewd
Lydian practitioner, Thessalus, who maintained that all learning was
without value.

And if we may believe the statements of Pliny and Galen, the Roman
quacks equalled, if they did not exceed, in ignorance and arrogance,
the vast horde of handicraftsmen, bone-setters, herniotomists,
lithotomists, abortionists, and poison-venders, who overran Southern
Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

The inhabitants of ancient Chaldea, in common with many primitive
peoples of later times, cherished the belief that all diseases were
caused by demons. Medicine was merely a branch of Magic, and the chief
healing agents were exorcisms, incantations, and enchanted beverages.
There were, properly speaking, no physicians. Sometimes, wrote François
Lenormant, in "Chaldean Magic," disease was regarded as an effect of the
wickedness of different demons, and sometimes it appears to have been
considered as the work of a distinct malevolent being, who exercised his
power upon man.

According to the old Shamanic belief, which was the primeval religion of
all mankind, every physical ailment is caused by a little devil which
enters the body and can be expelled therefrom only by means of magic.

Abundant traces of this doctrine, says Charles Godfrey Leland in "Gipsy
Sorcery," appear in our highest civilization and religion among people
who gravely attribute every evil to the Devil, instead of to the
unavoidable antagonisms of nature. "If," continues this writer, "a pen
drops from our fingers, or a penny rolls from our grasp, the former, of
course, falls on our new white dress, while the latter, nine times out
of ten, goes directly to the nearest grating, crack or rat-hole."

In the religion of the ancient Copts, the Devil was believed to have
inherited from his ancestors all the power attributed by ignorance and
superstition to certain superior beings. He it was who originated all
diseases, and by a singular contradiction, he likewise cured them,
either directly or through the agency of the magicians and quacks who
followed in his train.[206:1]

According to a widespread doctrine of antiquity, innumerable demons were
ever active in endeavoring to inflict diseases upon the bodies of human

No medical practitioner, however skilful, could successfully cope with
these supernatural beings. Their evil designs could be checked only by
experts in occult science. It has been said that whoever humors the
credulity of man, is sure to prosper. The modern quack exemplifies this.
"The Devil, the Christian successor of the ancient evil spirit, has
exerted a great influence on the medical views of all classes of people.
He and his successors were considered 'the disturbers of the peace' in
the health of humanity. The Devil was able to influence each individual
organ in a manner most disagreeable to the owner of the same."[206:2]
Although the hideous portrayals of the Evil One, with horns, hoofs,
pitchfork, and tail, appealed strongly to the imagination, they were
wholly fanciful. If Satan were to appear in human form, as for example
in the guise of a charlatan (says William Ramsey in "The Depths of
Satan," 1889), we might expect him to assume the appearance, dress and
demeanor of a gentleman.

Indeed, although the idea of the embodiment of evil is naturally
repellent, a study of the Devil's personality, as represented in
theology, romance, and popular tradition, reveals much that is
interesting. In the rôle of a medical pretender, however, he deserves no
more sympathy than any other quack.

In England, says William George Black, in "Folk-Medicine," the Devil has
long represented much of the paganism still existing, and seems to have
been regarded almost as the head of the medical profession. He has
enjoyed the reputation of being able to inflict and cure diseases, not
only those of his own production, but also natural diseases, since he
knows their origin and causes better than physicians can. For, wrote the
learned Dutch practitioner and demonologist, Johann Wier (1515-1588),
physicians being younger than the Devil, must necessarily have had less

James Grant, in the "Mysteries of All Nations" (page 1), remarks that
the doctrine of devils is of great antiquity, probably dating from the

The immediate descendants of Adam and Eve must have learned from them,
or by tradition, the circumstances connected with the temptation, fall,
and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Therefore it seems highly
probable that the serpent was regarded, at a very early period, as
something more than an _ordinary earthly reptile_.

In the Dark Ages popular opinion credited the Devil with a vast amount
of erudition; and he was, moreover, reputed to be well versed in medical
science and magical arts. Whenever a man of genius had accomplished some
task which appeared to be above the powers of the human mind, it was
commonly believed that the Devil either had performed the work or had at
least rendered some assistance.[208:1]

Burton quotes from the German philosopher, Nicholas Taurellus (born
1547), as follows: "Many doubt whether the Devil can cure such diseases
as he hath not made; and some flatly deny it. Howsoever, common
experience confirms to our astonishment that magic can work such facts,
and that the Devil without impediment can penetrate through all the
parts of our bodies, and cure such maladies by means to us unknown."

Again, says Burton, many famous cures are daily performed, affording
evidence that the Devil is an expert physician; and God oftentimes
permits witches and magicians to produce these effects. Paracelsus
encouraged his patients to cultivate a strong imagination, whereby they
should experience beneficial results. . . . Therein lies the secret in a
nutshell. If a man has confidence in the treatment prescribed by a
charlatan, he may be benefited thereby. The Devil is a charlatan.
Therefore, if God permit, even diabolical remedies may be efficacious,
if the patient's faith in them is strong enough. It is not so much the
quality as the strength of the faith, says Dr. McComb in "Religion and
Medicine," that is of vital moment, so far as the removal of a given
disorder is concerned.

The Christians of the early centuries accepted the pagan doctrine of
demonology without modification. The belief in demoniac possession and
the belief in witches were later developments from this same doctrine.
In the third century originated a new order of ecclesiastics, whose
members were known as exorcists. The expulsion of evil spirits was their
special function. But in addition to the official exorcists, many
sorcerers and magicians assumed to cure the possessed, as well as those
suffering from other diseases. The idea of good and evil demons assumed
in the Middle Ages a specifically Christian character, which resembled
the ancient Babylonian doctrine except that the good demons were
replaced by angels and saints, whereas the evil spirits were embodied in
the Devil. Both saints and devils were thenceforth destined to play
their part in the domain of medicine.

Martin Luther, as is well known, was a firm believer in the doctrine
which held that the Devil was the originator of all diseases. No
ailment, maintained the great reformer, comes from God, who is good, and
does good to every one. It is the Devil who causes and performs all
mischief, who interferes with all play and all arts, and who brings
about pestilences and fevers. Luther believed that he himself was
compelled, when his physical condition was out of order, to have a
scuffle with the Evil One, and thereby obtain the mastery over

Tatian, the Syrian writer, of the second century, declared that the
profligacy of demons had made use of the productions of nature for evil
purposes. The demons, he wrote, do not cure, but by their art make men
their captives.

In that age, everybody, of whatever class or station in life, believed
in the existence of demons, who were thought to be omnipresent,
infesting men and the lower animals, as well as trees and rivers. At the
time of the Reformation the same belief prevailed and was an important
factor in influencing men's actions.[210:2]

A belief in the personality of the Evil One is amply warranted by
Scripture. What is not warranted, says a writer in "Social
England,"[210:3] by anything in Holy Writ, is the medieval conception of
Satan, ruling over a kingdom of darkness, in rivalry with God.

Ignorance is guided by terror, rather than by love. To the
undisciplined mind, whatever is supernatural or unexpected, makes a
stronger appeal than the familiar phenomena of daily life. We cannot
understand the motives and acts of our forefathers, wrote Henry C. Lea,
in a "History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages," unless we take
into consideration the mental condition engendered by the consciousness
of a daily and hourly personal contact with Satan.

Charlatans were not unknown in the fifth century B. C. For the great
Hippocrates inveighed against those who relied on amulets and charms as
curative agents. In his view, the physician should possess a mind of
such serenity and dignity as to be superior to superstition, for the
latter is incompatible with a knowledge of the truth.[211:1]

The Romans of old, who drove nails into the walls of the Temple of
Jupiter, in the hope of warding off the Plague, employed thereby a quack

Indeed, for more than six hundred years, they had no physicians, but
employed theurgic methods of treatment by means of prayers, charms, and
prescriptions from the ancient Sibylline Books, which were reputed to
date from the reign of Tarquin the Proud, in the sixth century B. C.
These volumes were kept in a stone chest, under ground, in the Temple of
Jupiter Capitolinus at Rome. The ancient Romans possessed only the rude
surgery and domestic medicine of the barbarians, until the importation
of scientific methods from Greece. Cato the Censor (B. C. 234-149)
disliked physicians, partly because they were mostly Greeks, and partly
because he himself, although venerated as a model of Roman virtue, was
an outrageous quack, who thought himself equal to a whole college of

From a very early time, and for many centuries, medical pretenders and
empirics were known as "magicians." Practitioners of this class throve
exceedingly during the reigns of several Roman emperors. They strove to
work upon the imaginations of the people by sensational curative
methods. Inasmuch, wrote Dr. Hugo Magnus, as whatever is curious and
unusual, has always possessed a special fascination for humanity, the
incredible remedies of the magicians found everywhere hosts of
believers. And as the most nonsensical theories, if well tinged with the
miraculous, find eager credence, there developed a rude form of
psycho-therapy. For by the employment of extraordinary and even
loathsome substances, many of which had no value as material remedies,
they sought to impress curative ideas upon the minds of their patients,
and doubtless very often with success. Inventive genius must have been
sorely taxed among the magicians, in their endeavors to originate
sensational prescriptions. The voluminous works of Alexander of
Tralles, Quintus Serenus Samonicus, Marcellus Empiricus, and of many
others, show how close was the union between medicine and magic. An
enumeration of uncouth remedies formerly in vogue would fill huge
pharmacopœias, and belongs to the domain of Folk-Medicine. Let one or
two examples suffice here.

For the removal of those hardened portions of the epidermis, usually
occurring upon the feet, and vulgarly known as corns, Pliny the Elder,
in his "Natural History," recommends the sufferer, after observing the
flight of a meteor, to pour a little vinegar upon the hinge of a door.

And Sextus Placitus Papyriensis, a nonsensical medical writer of the
fourth century, advises, for the cure of glaucoma, that the affected eye
be rubbed with the corresponding organ of a wolf.

Dr. Theodor Puschmann, in his "History of Medical Education," quotes an
old writer[213:1] who inveighed against those practitioners who were
wont to fill the ears of their patients with stories of their own
professional skill, while depreciating the services of others of the
fraternity. Such unscrupulous quacks sought also to win over the
patient's friends by little attentions, flatteries and innuendoes. Many,
said this philosopher, recoil from a man of skill even, if he is a
braggart. "When the doctor," he continues, "attended by a man known to
the patient, and having a right of entry into the house, advances into
the dwelling of the sick man, he should make his appearance in good
clothes, with an inclination of the head; he should be thoughtful and of
good bearing, and observe all possible respect. So soon as he is within,
word, thought and attention should be given to nothing else but the
examination of the patient, and whatever else appertains to the case."

In England, during the earliest times, the administration of medicines
was always attended with religious ceremonial, such as the repetition of
a psalm. These observances however were often tinctured with a good deal
of heathenism, the traditional folk-lore of the country, in the form of
charms, magic and starcraft. It is evident, wrote the author of "Social
England,"[214:1] from the cases preserved by monkish chronicles, that
the element of hysteria was prominent in the maladies of the Middle
Ages, and that these affections were therefore peculiarly susceptible to
psychic treatment. The Angles and Saxons brought with them to England a
belief in medicinal runes and healing spells, and the cures wrought by
their medical men were attributed to the magic potency of the charms
employed. Some interesting information on contemporary manners is
contained in a "Book of Counsels to Young Practitioners" (A. D. 1300).
The use of polysyllabic and unintelligible words is therein
recommended, probably as a goad to the patient's imagination.

Medical charms, wrote a shrewd philosopher of old, are not to be used
because they can effect any change, _but because they bring the patient
into a better frame of mind_.[215:1]

An interesting account of the manners and methods of itinerant
charlatans of the period is found in "English Wayfaring Life in the
Middle Ages" (fourteenth century), by the noted writer and diplomat, M.
Jean Jules Jusserand. These Bohemian mountebanks went about the world,
selling health. They selected the village green or market-place as
headquarters, and spreading a carpet or piece of cloth on the ground,
proceeded to harangue the populace. Big words, marvellous tales, praise
of their own distinguished ancestry, enumeration of the wonderful cures
wrought by themselves, statements of their purely altruistic motives and
benevolent designs, and of their contempt for filthy lucre, these were
characteristic features of their discourses, which preceded the
exhibition and sale of infallible nostrums.

The law, wrote M. Jusserand, distinguished very clearly between an
educated physician and a cheap-jack of the cross-ways. The court-doctor,
for example, had the support of an established reputation. He had
studied at one of the universities, and he offered the warranty of his
high position. The wandering herbalist was less advantageously known. In
the country, indeed, he was usually able to escape the rigor of the
laws, but in the cities and larger towns he could not ply his trade with
impunity. The joyous festivals of Old England attracted many of these
hawkers of pills and elixirs, for on such occasions they met the rustic
laborers, whose simplicity rendered them an easy prey. These
peasant-folk pressed around, open-mouthed, uncertain whether they ought
to laugh or to be afraid. But they finished usually by buying specimens
of the eloquently vaunted cure-alls.

In medieval times, we are told, it was difficult to distinguish quacks
from skilled practitioners, because the latter were inclined to be
superstitious. In the year 1220 the University of Paris, with the
sanction of the Church and municipality, issued a statute against
unlicensed practitioners, and in 1271 another, whereby Jews and Jewesses
were forbidden "to practice medicine or surgery on any Catholic
Christian." All so-called chirurgeons and apothecaries, as well as
herbalists, of either sex, were enjoined from visiting patients,
performing operations, or prescribing any medicines except certain
confections in common use, unless in the presence and under the
direction of a physician, the penalties being excommunication,
imprisonment, and fine.[216:1]

Never before, says Roswell Park, M.D., in "An Epitome of the History of
Medicine," were there so many sorcerers, astrologers and alchemists, as
existed at the close of the Dark Ages. These were mostly restless
adventurers, of a class common at all periods of history, who chafed
under the yoke of authority. Such individuals, in enlisting in the army
of charlatans, were not usually actuated by philanthropic motives.
Whatever benevolent sentiments they may have entertained, were in behalf
of themselves. Many of them lived apart, as recluses, and were, in
modern parlance, cranks, who lacked mental poise. Yet they were usually
shrewd, and more or less adepts in occult science.

The power of auto-suggestion was evident in the cures of medieval
ailments wrought by the methods of faith-healing. Prayer and
intercession were the chief means employed, but these were often
supplemented by the use of concoctions of medicinal herbs from the
monastery garden.

The resources of therapeutics were, moreover, derived from a strange
mixture of magic, astrology, and alchemy. A contemporary manual of
"Hints to Physicians" advised the doctor, when called to visit a
patient, to recommend himself to God, and to the Archangel Raphael.
Then, after having refreshed himself with a drink, he was to praise the
beauty of the country and the liberality of the family. He was also
cautioned to avoid expressing a hasty opinion of the case, because the
patient's friends would attach the more value to the physician's
judgment, if they were obliged to wait for it.[218:1]

Paracelsus devoted much attention to chemistry as a science distinct
from alchemy. Indeed he may be regarded as the founder of medical
chemistry.[218:2] He extolled the merits of certain medicines now
recognized as among the most valuable in the modern pharmacopœia.
Chief among these was the tincture of opium, to which he gave its
present name of laudanum, a contraction of _laudandum_, something to be

The eccentric German alchemist and philosopher, Henry Cornelius Agrippa
(1486-1535), described a prosperous charlatan of his day as "clad in
brave apparel, and having on his fingers showy rings, glittering with
precious stones; a fellow who had gotten fame on account of his travels
in far countries, and by reason of his obstinate manner of vaunting with
stiff lies the merits of his nostrums. Such an one had continually in
his mouth many barbarous and uncouth words."

Towards the close of the sixteenth century, France was invaded by a
horde of mountebanks in showy and fantastic garb, who went from one town
to another, loudly and with brazen effrontery proclaiming in the
market-places their ability to cure every kind of ailment. And the
people, then as now easily duped, lent willing ears to these wily
pretenders, and bought freely of their marvellous pills and

The prevalence of quackery in England is shown by a preamble to a
statute of Henry VIII, as follows: "Forasmuch as the science and cunning
of Physic and Surgery are daily, within this Realm, exercised by a great
number of ignorant persons, of whom the greater part have no insight in
the same, nor in any other kind of learning. Some also ken no letters on
the book; so far forth that common artificers, as smiths, weavers and
women, boldly and accustomably take upon them great cures, in which they
partly use scorcery and witchcraft, and partly apply such remedies to
the disease as being very noxious and nothing meet; to the high
displeasure of God, great infamy to the Faculty, and the grievous damage
and destruction of divers of the King's people, most especially of them
that cannot discern the cunning from the uncunning."

Probably Dr. Gilbert Skeene, of Aberdeen, Scotland, had in mind such
pretenders, when he wrote, in a treatise on the Plague, published in
1568, that "Medicineirs[219:2] are mair studious of their ain helthe nor
of the common weilthe."

A statute of the thirty-fourth year of Henry VIII (1543) contains the
statement that although the majority of the members of the craft of
chirurgeons had small cunning, yet they would accept large sums of
money, and do little therefor; by reason whereof their patients suffered
from neglect.

At about this period, many were the marvellous remedies which were
advertised, and keen was the rivalry among empirics, in their efforts to
outdo their brethren in the selection of high-sounding names for their
vaunted panaceas. Among the latter were to be found such choice nostrums
as _rectifiers of the vitals_, which were warranted to supply the places
of all other medicines whatsoever.

Other pleasing remedies rejoiced in the names of _vivifying drops_,
_cephalic tinctures_, _gripe-waters_, and _angelical specifics_.

"The Anatomyes of the True Physition and Counterfeit Mounte-banke"
(imprinted at London, 1605) contains an enumeration of some of the
classes of people wherefrom recruits were drawn to swell the ranks of
charlatans in England some three centuries ago. Such were:

     Runagate Jews, the cut-throats and robbers of Christians,
     slow-bellied monks, who have made escape from their cloisters,
     simoniacal and perjured shavelings, busy Sir John lack-Latins,
     thrasonical and unlettered chemists, shifting and outcast
     pettifoggers, light-headed and trivial druggers and
     apothecaries, sun-shunning night-birds and corner-creepers,
     dull-pated and base mechanics, stage-players, jugglers,
     peddlers, prittle-prattling barbers, filthy graziers, curious
     bath-keepers, common shifters and cogging cavaliers, bragging
     soldiers, lazy clowns, one-eyed or lamed fencers, toothless
     and tattling old wives, chattering char-women and
     nurse-keepers, long-tongued midwives, 'scape-Tyburns,
     dog-leeches, and such-like baggage. In the next rank, to
     second this goodly troupe, follow poisoners, enchanters,
     wizards, fortune-tellers, magicians, witches and hags. Now, if
     you take a good view of these sweet companions, you shall find
     them, not only dolts, idiots and buzzards; but likewise
     contemners and haters of all good learning.

     For the greater part of them disdain book-learning, and never
     came where learning grew. . . . They are such as cannot abide
     to take any pains or travel in study. They reject incomparable
     Galen's learned Commentaries, as tedious and frivolous
     discourses, having found through Paracelsus's Vulcanian shop,
     a more short way to the Wood. . . . Others are so notoriously
     sottish, that being over head and ears in the myrie puddle of
     gross ignorance, yet they will by no means see or acknowledge

     For to give an instance in the most absolute, exquisite and
     divine frame of man's body, if they can shew a rude
     description thereof, hanging in their chamber, and nickname
     two or three parts, (so as it would make a horse to break his
     halter to hear them) they think themselves jolly fellows, and
     are esteemed great anatomists in the eyes of the Vulgar. . . .

     Now it is the honestest and safest course for good and learned
     physicians, to have no society with these barbarians, enemies
     to all antiquity, humanity and good learning, lest they hear
     the old saying, _like will to like_. As was said of the Devil
     dancing with the collier.[222:1]

We may glean some information about the methods of the practising quacks
of the seventeenth century, from the following announcement, which is to
be found in Cotgrave's "Treasury of Wit and Language" (1665):

     "My name is Pulsefeel, a poor Doctor of Physick,
     That does wear three-pile velvet in his hat,
     Has paid a quarter's rent of his house beforehand,
     And (simple as he stands here) was made doctor beyond sea.
     I vow, as I am right worshipful, the taking
     Of my degree cost me twelve French crowns, and
     Thirty-five pounds of butter in Upper Germany.
     I can make your beauty and preserve it,
     Rectifie your bodie and maintaine it,
     Clarifie your blood, surfle your cheeks, perfume
     Your skin, tinct your hair, enliven your eye,
     Heighten your appetite; and as for Jellies,
     Dentifrizes, Dyets, Minerals, Fricasses,
     Pomatums, Fumes, Italia masks to sleep in,
     Either to moisten or dry the superficies, Faugh! Galen
     Was a goose and Paracelsus a Patch, to Doctor Pulsefeel."


[202:1] There is a legend of a certain physician, who would never eat
roast duck, because certain members of that impolite bird's tribe had
addressed insulting remarks to him.

[202:2] Book ii, x, 2.

[203:1] _An Enquiry into Dr. Ward's Practice of Physick_; London,
Printed for J. Humphrey at the Pamphlet Shop, next to the Artichoke,
near Great Turn-Stile in Holburn, 1749.

[203:2] Second Series, vol. iii; 1857.

[206:1] _The New World_, vol. ii; 1893.

[206:2] Dr. Hugo Magnus, _Superstition in Medicine_.

[208:1] _Universal Cyclopædia and Atlas_, 1908.

[210:1] Dr. Hugo Magnus, _Superstition in Medicine_.

[210:2] _The International Monthly_, vol. v; 1902.

[210:3] Vol. ii.

[211:1] _Montreal Medical Journal_, vol. xxxi; 1902.

[212:1] Edward Berdoe, _The Origin and Growth of the Healing Art_.

[213:1] Charaka, _Samhita_, vol. iii, p. 8.

[214:1] Vol. ii, p. 108.

[215:1] _Social England_, vol. ii, p. 104.

[216:1] _Practitioner_, vol. lxviii; 1902.

[218:1] M. D. Synge, _A Short History of Social Life in England_.

[218:2] Dr. Theodor Puschmann, _A History of Medical Education_.

[219:1] Larousse, _Grand Dictionnaire Universel_, art. "Charlatan."

[219:2] This word appears to have been used in the sense of
_Medicaster_, a diminutive of the Latin _Medicus_, a physician.

[222:1] The spelling of this extract has been modernized.



An English physician, who practised during the early part of the reign
of King James I, described the charlatan of that period as shameless, a
mortal hater of all good men, an adept in cozening, legerdemain,
conycatching,[223:1] and all other shifts and sleights; a cracking
boaster, proud, insolent, a secret back-biter, a contentious wrangler, a
common jester and liar, a runagate wanderer, a cogging[223:2] sychophant
and covetous exactor, a wringer of his patients. In a word, a man, or
rather monster, made of a mixture of all vices.[223:3]

Robert Burton, in "The Anatomy of Melancholy," published in 1621, said
that "if we seek a physician as we ought, we may be eased of our
infirmities; such a one, I mean, as is sufficient and worthily so
called. For there be many mountebanks, quack-salvers and empiricks, in
every street almost, and in every village, that take upon them this
name, and make this noble and profitable art to be evil spoken of and
contemned by reason of these base and illiterate artificers. . . . Many
of them to get a fee, will give physick to every one that comes, without

That original genius, Daniel Defoe (1661-1731), in his "Description of a
Quack Doctor," wrote that sometimes he would employ the most vulgar
phrases imaginable, and again he would soar out of sight and traverse
the spacious realms of fustian and bombast. He was, indeed, very sparing
of his Latin and Greek, as (God knows) his stock of those commodities
was but slender. But then, for hard words and terms, which neither he,
nor you, nor I, nor anybody else could understand, he poured them out in
such abundance that you'd have sworn he had been rehearsing some of the
occult philosophy of Agrippa, or reading extracts from the Cabala.

"If a man doth but write a book," observed an old author, "or at least
transcribe a great part of it, word for word, out of another book, and
give it a new title, he is naturally regarded by the _ignobile vulgus_
as a famous doctor, especially if he write M.D. after his name. But let
none of these poor shifts or sleights deceive you. You will quickly see
that the drift of such publication was only to sell off some _Packets of
Quack Remedies_, and hedge you into his clutches, where 'tis odds but
he will pinch, if he does not gripe you to death."[225:1]

In the old Province of Languedoc, in Southern France, charlatans were
liable to be summarily dealt with. For when any mountebank appeared in
the city of Montpellier, the magistrates were empowered to set him
astride of a meagre, miserable ass, with his face to the animal's tail.

Thus placed, the wretched mountebank was made to traverse the streets of
the town, his progress meanwhile being enlivened by the hooting and
shouts of the children, and the ironical jeers of the populace.[225:2]

The facility wherewith ignorant persons may acquire a reputation for
skill in Medicine, is exemplified by the following anecdote. A
Staffordshire cobbler had somehow gotten possession of a parcel of
medical receipts, and made such diligent use thereof, that he not only
was speedily invested with the title of Doctor, but likewise became
famous in the neighborhood on account of some alleged remarkable cures.
Thereupon he laid aside his awl to assume the dignity of a charlatan. It
happened that a young lady of fortune fell ill about that time, and her
mother was induced to send for the newly fledged Esculapian. The
latter, after examining the patient, remarked that he would go home and
consider the case, as he never prescribed rashly. Accordingly in looking
over his recipes, he found one which tickled his fancy, although the
directions, "to be taken in a proper vehicle," mystified him. Nothing
daunted, he consulted a dictionary and found that a vehicle was either a
coach, cart or wheel-barrow. Highly elated, he hastened to inform the
young lady's mother that her coach must be gotten ready at once, and
that her daughter must get into it and take the remedy which he had
brought. But the lady would not consent, alleging the risk of exposure
to the outside air. "Well," said the rascally quack, "you must then
order a wheel-barrow to be sent to your daughter's room, for this
medicine must be taken in a proper vehicle, and in my opinion a
wheel-barrow will answer the purpose as well as a coach."[226:1] Can any
one doubt that the wheel-barrow furnished a powerful therapeutic
suggestion in this case?

In the early part of the eighteenth century, it appears that charlatans
were very numerous in England. Indeed the "corps of medical savages" was
almost as motley and manifold in form as in the Middle Ages. The
dabblers in medicine included grocers, book-sellers, printers,
confectioners, merchants and traders, midwives, medical students,
preachers, chemists, distillers, gipsies, shepherds, conjurors, old
women, sieve-makers and water-peddlers. Apothecaries were permitted to
sell drugs to "alchemists, bath-servants and ignorant quacks, while
dabsters, calf-doctors, rag-pickers, magicians, witches,
crystallomancers, sooth-sayers and other _mancipia_ [purchased slaves]
of the Devil, were allowed to practice Medicine."[227:1]

At this same period, we are told, the mass of the English people were
extraordinarily credulous. And this fact was true, not only of the
densely ignorant class, but also of the more intelligent and better
educated middle class, who were ready to believe everything that
appeared in print.[227:2] Hence was afforded an ideal field for the
exercise of the wily charlatan's activities. And the glowing
advertisements of quack remedies appealed strongly to the popular fancy.

A London surgeon, Dr. P. Coltheart, writing in 1727, asserted that
English practitioners of that time were the peers of any in Europe. He
complained, however, of the multitude of ignorant quacks, who were
allowed a free hand in the practice of their pretended art, to the
detriment of the community.

The spectacle of such a gallant array of charlatans, recruited from the
ranks of illiterate tramps and vagrants, the very scum of society, yet
thriving by reason of the popular credulity, certainly warranted the
scathing arraignment of these interlopers by reputable physicians, who
thus found a vent for their righteous indignation, although they were
powerless to impede thereby the strong tide of imposture.

How often it happened, wrote William Connor Sydney, in "England and the
English in the Eighteenth Century," that a bricklayer (who chanced to be
the seventh son of his father), or a sharp-witted cobbler, picked up an
antiquated collection of medieval recipes, and perused it in his leisure
hours! Then, dispensing with his trowel or awl, he devoted himself to
the sale of pellets, lotions and gargles, possessing marvellous virtues!

Here is a copy of an advertisement which appeared in an early number of
the London "Spectator":

     Loss of Memory or Forgetfulness certainly cured by a grateful
     electuary, peculiarly adapted for that end. It strikes at the
     primary source, which few apprehend, of Forgetfulness, makes
     the head clear and easy, the spirits free, active and
     undisturbed; corroborates and revives all the noble faculties
     of the soul, such as thought, judgment, apprehensions, reason
     and memory, which last in particular it so strengthens as to
     render that faculty exceeding quick and good beyond
     imagination, thereby enabling those whose memory was almost
     totally lost, to remember the minutest circumstances of their
     affairs, etc; to a wonder. Price 2s. 6d a pot. Sold only at
     Mr. Payne's, at the _Angel and Crown_, in St. Paul's
     Church-Yard, with directions.

William Smith, in his "History of the Province of New York from its
First Discovery to the Year 1722" (London, 1757), wrote as follows:

     The History of our Diseases belongs to a Profession with which
     I am very little acquainted. Few physicians amongst us are
     eminent for their skill. Quacks abound like Locusts in Egypt,
     and too many have recommended themselves to a full Practice
     and profitable subsistence. This is the less to be wondered
     at, as the Profession is under no Kind of Regulation. Loud as
     the call is, to our Shame be it remembered, we have no Law to
     protect the Lives of the King's Subjects from the Malpractice
     of Pretenders. Any man at his Pleasure sets up for Physician,
     Apothecary and Chirurgeon. No candidates are either examined
     or licensed, or even sworn to fair practice. In 1753 the City
     of New York alone boasted the Honour of having forty Gentlemen
     of that Faculty.

A contributor to the Cincinnati "Lancet and Observer," October, 1861,
moralized on this subject in a somewhat pessimistic vein.

To see an ignorant, boastful quack petted, caressed and patronized by
people of culture and refinement, wrote he, such as members of the
learned professions, statesmen, philosophers, shrewd merchants and
bankers, as well as by worthy mechanics and trusting farmers, is enough
to make one ponder whether after all it is worth while to devote money,
time and talents in acquiring a thorough knowledge of professional
duties. . . . However natural such a method of reasoning, it will not
influence the sober _mens conscia recti_ of the trained physician.

In an address before the Medical and Surgical Society of Baltimore,
January 17, 1859, Dr. Lewis H. Steiner defined quackery as that mode of
practising medicine, which adopts one and the same remedy for every
disease, of whatever origin or nature. Quackery, wherever found, is
based upon a misapplication of some recognized principle or fact, and
hence invariably presupposes the existence of a modicum of truth, as its

Precisely as the counterfeit coin has a certain value with the unwary,
on account of its resemblance to that which is genuine, so all quackery
must proceed from a false application of a known truth, or an attempted
imitation of this truth in various forms.

An analogy was drawn between a quack and the weaker animal in a
dog-fight by a writer in "The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal,"
April 1, 1846. For, said he, it is a trait of human nature to side with
the under-dog. And it is this trait which causes some people to be
pleased at the quack's success, for they regard him, in a sporting
sense, as a little dog, and demand for him fair play. The maudlin
sympathies of such persons are aroused by the sight of an adventurer
striving against odds, with one sole end in view, namely, the
accumulation of shekels under false pretences.

Probably at no period in the world's history has charlatanry been more
flourishing than during the first decade of the twentieth century, and
that too in the face of unexampled progress in medical Science. The
reason is not far to seek. The modern quack utilizes the power of the
unconscious or subjective mind over the body. This is the effective
agency, not only in so-called mental healing, but also in
semi-scientific cures of various sorts, in faith-cures, as well as in
the cures ascribed to relics and charms.[231:1] The widespread heralding
of patent medicines is also founded upon the principle of
auto-suggestion. The descriptions of symptoms and diseases in the
advertisements of charlatans, suggest morbid ideas to the objective mind
of the reader. These ideas, being then transferred to his subjective
mind, exert an unwholesome influence upon his bodily functions.[231:2]
His next procedure is the trial of some vaunted nostrum. Thus the shrewd
empiric thrives at the expense of his fellow men. He takes a mean
advantage of their credulity, though probably in most cases unaware of
the vicious psychological processes, which render many his willing

It has been aptly remarked that the public is ever more ready to believe
pleasing fictions, than disagreeable verities. _Populus vult decipi_,
trite saying though it be, is as true to-day as at any time in the
past. If it were not so, quackery could not thrive. Gladly the people
"honors pay to those who on their understandings most impose." Apropos
of the methods of charlatans, is the story of a certain Scotch farmer,
whose success in selling his cattle at high prices aroused the curiosity
of his neighbors. One day, when fuddled with drink, after much coaxing,
he revealed the secret by saying: "On going to sell my beasties, I first
finds a fool, and then I shoves 'em on to him."[232:1]

Dr. William Osler, in his "Aequanimitas and Other Addresses" (1904),
remarked that "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers"; and in matters
medical the ordinary citizen of to-day has not one whit more sense than
the Romans of old, whom the witty Greek writer Lucian scourged for a
credulity which made them fall easy victims to the quacks of the second
century. Man has an inborn craving for medicine. Heroic dosing for
several generations has given his tissues a thirst for drugs; and now
that the pharmacists have cloaked even the most nauseous remedies, the
temptation is to use physic on every occasion.

Dudley F. Sicher, in the "Popular Science Monthly," September, 1905,
comments on the enormous development of quackery, which has been more
than commensurate with the growth of medical science and the advance of
western civilization, in recent years. According to this authority, the
number of resident quacks in Berlin, Germany, has increased sixteen-fold
since 1874. And in New York City, there are approximately twenty
thousand, against six thousand regular practitioners. "Given on the one
hand the limitations of scientific medicine, the dread of disease, and
the power of auto-suggestion, and on the other hand, depraved humanity,
hard-driven in the struggle for existence, and you have the essential
parts, which, with a few minor pieces, make up the quackery
machine. . . . Psycho-therapeutics and knowledge of human nature make up
the quack's entire outfit." The popular distrust of legitimate Medicine
facilitates a recourse to the alleged marvellous specifics and panaceas,
so extensively advertised; lineal descendants of the magical remedies of

Then, too, the secrecy and mystery associated with the remedies of
quacks, appeal strongly to the popular fancy.

Charles Dickens wrote in "Barnaby Rudge" that it was only necessary to
invest anything, however absurd, with an air of mystery, in order to
give it a secret charm and power of attraction, which people are unable
to resist. False prophets, he said, false priests, false doctors, false
prodigies of whatever kind, veiling their proceedings in mystery, have
always addressed themselves at an immense advantage, to the popular
credulity, and have been, perhaps, more indebted to that resource in
gaining and keeping for a time the upper hand of Truth and Common Sense,
than to any half-dozen items in the whole catalogue of imposture. To
awaken curiosity and to gratify it by slow degrees, yet leaving
something always in suspense, is to establish the surest hold that can
be had, in wrong, on the unthinking portion of mankind.

Unscrupulous charlatans have shrewdness enough to make free use of the
power of suggestion in their nefarious practice, though oftentimes
doubtless wholly ignorant of its mode of action. The great majority of
them, while probably unaware of the existence of subconscious mental
life, have always had a vivid realization of the positive fact of the
gullibility of human nature, a fact which affords them the keenest
pleasure and enduring satisfaction.

One can well imagine that the winning smile which often illumines the
features of a sleek and crafty pretender, is supplanted by audible
chuckling when he retires from company. Having long since gotten rid of
his conscience, he can afford to be merry at the expense of his fellow

It has been aptly said that no amount of instruction in physiology or
materia medica at medical colleges will have any influence in the
suppression of quackery. But the recognition and utilization, by the
profession, of the wonderful forces of psycho-therapy _will_ have such
an influence, because light will thereby be shed upon the methods of the
charlatan, whose operations will then no longer be shrouded from the
public view in mystery, wherein has lain for many centuries their most
potent charm.

The author of "Physic and Physicians" (London, 1839) remarks that a
doctor should always have ready an answer to every question which a lady
may put to him, for the chances are that she will be satisfied with it.
Moreover he should invariably diagnose an affection with celerity; and
rather than betray ignorance of the seat of a disorder, it were better,
says this writer, to assign it at once to the pancreas or pineal gland.
A lady once asked her apothecary, an ignorant fellow, regarding the
composition of castor oil, and seemed quite content with his reply, that
it was extracted from the beaver. Another patient asked her physician
how long she was likely to be ill, and was told that it depended largely
on the duration of the disease. A certain doctor, probably a quack,
acquired some notoriety by always prescribing the _left_ leg of a boiled
fowl. Reiteration of the superior nutritive qualities of that member,
and positive assertions of the comparative worthlessness of the right
leg, doubtless impressed the patients' minds in a salutary manner.

A writer in "Putnam's Magazine," August, 1909, commends the so-called
Emmanuel Movement as capable of benefiting many, in all stations of
life. He says further that the wicked and the charlatan may enter upon
the practice of psycho-therapy, but in a majority of cases, the
sub-conscious mind, upon which the healer works, will reject the evil
suggestion of the practitioner who strives to use his powers for malign
purposes. That is the almost unanimous verdict of the psychological
experts. If the old proverb be true, "_In vino veritas_," so in the
hypnotic state the real bent of the normal mind and personality is more
ready to follow the good and reject the bad suggestion, than in the
normal, conscious state. Instinctive morality comes to the aid of the
genuine psycho-therapist, and refuses its coöperation to the

In the United States, the door yawns wider for the admission of
charlatans than in any other country. The demand for panaceas and for
the services of those who pretend to cure by unusual methods, is not
limited to persons who are wanting in intelligence, or to those who are
weakened and discouraged by exhausting diseases. So long as the love of
the marvellous exists, there will be a certain demand for quackery, and
the supply will not be wanting.[236:1]

Probably in no region of the world does there exist a more attractive
field for medical pretenders, than the thickly settled foreign
settlements of the city of New York. Here they may thrive and fatten, as
they ply their nefarious trade, doubtless slyly laughing the while, on
account of the simplicity of their helpless victims. The poor hungry
wretch who steals a loaf of bread is held legally accountable for the
theft, and if caught, he is punished therefor. The unscrupulous quack,
by reason of his shrewdness, goes scot-free, though a vastly greater
villain. To quote from a recent editorial in the "New York Times": "A
course in medicine and surgery is expensive, and takes a lot of time,
while a varied assortment of pseudo-religious and pseudo-philosophic
phrases can be learned in a few days by any man or woman with a
disinclination for honest work."

A recent English writer argued that it were folly to attempt the
suppression of quackery by statute; for, says he, the freeborn
Anglo-Saxon considers that he has the inalienable right of going to the
Devil in his own way. And he resents anything like dictation in the
sphere of medicine, as much as in religion.


[223:1] Thieves' slang for cheating.

[223:2] One who used loaded dice in gambling.

[223:3] _Beware of Pick-Purses, or a Caveat for Sick Folkes to take
heede of unlearned Physitions and unskilfull Chyrurgians._ By F. H.,
Doctor in Physick. Imprinted at London, 1605.

[225:1] _The Modern Quack or Medicinal Impostor._ London. Printed for
Thomas Warner, at the Black Boy, in Pater Noster Row, 1724.

[225:2] _Cautions and Advice to the Public respecting some Abuses in
Medicine, through the Malpractices of Quacks or Pretenders_, by William
Jackson. London. [No date.]

[226:1] P. Coltheart, Surgeon, London, 1727.

[227:1] Joh. Hermann Baas, _History of Medicine_, p. 771.

[227:2] _Social England_, vol. v. p. 66.

[231:1] A. T. Schofield, M.D., _The Unconscious Mind_, pp. 334-5.

[231:2] Dr. John Duncan Quackenbos, _Hypnotic Therapeutics_, p. 88.

[232:1] John D. Jackson, M.D., _The Black Arts in Medicine_.

[236:1] Dr. Austin Flint, in the _North American Review_, October, 1889.



     These may Inform all whom it might Concern, that Mr. John
     Kaighin, of the Province of West New Jersey, hath lived with
     me (here under named) a considerable time, as a Disciple, to
     learn the Arts and Mysteries of Chymistry, Physick, and the
     Astral Sciences, whereby to make a more Perfect Discovery of
     the Hidden Causes of more Occult and Uncommon Diseases, not so
     easily to be discovered by the Vulgar Practice. In all which
     he has been very Dilligent and Studious, as well as in the
     Administration of the Medecines, and in the various Cases:
     wherein his Judgment may be safely depended upon in all
     things, so far as he follows my Instructions. And Hope he may
     in all things answer the Confidence that may be reposed in
                                                           C. WITT.
     GERMANTOWN, Febr. 20, 1758.

Following is a Prayer for a Dyspeptic, drawn up by an adherent of
Christian Science:

     Holy Reality, Blessed Reality, believing that Thou art
     everywhere present, we believe that Thou art in this patient's
     stomach, in every fibre, in every cell, in every atom; that
     Thou art the sole, only Reality of that stomach. Heavenly,
     Holy Reality, Thou art not sick, and therefore nothing in this
     universe was ever sick, is now sick, or can be sick. We know,
     Father and Mother of us all, that there is no such thing as a
     really diseased stomach; that the disease is the Carnal
     Mortal Mind given over to the World, the Flesh and the Devil;
     that the mortal mind is a twist, a distortion, a false
     attitude, the _Hamartia_ [ἁμαρτία, sin] of Thought.

     Help us to stoutly affirm, with our hand in your hand, with
     our eyes fixed on Thee, that we never had Dyspepsia, that we
     will never have Dyspepsia, that there is no such thing, that
     there never was any such thing, that there never will be any
     such thing. Amen.[239:1]


[239:1] _The Faith and Works of Christian Science._




THEOPHRASTUS BOMBASTUS VON HOHENHEIM, commonly known as Paracelsus, was
born in 1493 at Maria Einsiedeln, near Zurich, Switzerland. When he was
nine years old, his father, who was a reputable physician, removed his
residence to Carinthia. Paracelsus received instruction in chemistry
from the Abbot Trithemius, a Benedictine monk, and then investigated
mining methods, and learned the physical properties of minerals, ores,
and metals. He also studied at universities in France, Germany, and
Italy. Quite early in his career he developed a taste for a Bohemian
mode of life and is reported to have gained a livelihood by
psalm-singing, astrological prescriptions, chiromancy, and even by the
practice of the Black Art. He was also keen in acquiring information
about popular remedies and nostrums, from travelling mountebanks,
barbers, old women, and pretenders of all kinds. In 1526 he was
appointed Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the
University in Basle. Here he taught doctrines of his own, denouncing the
prevailing tenets of Medical Science, as derived from the ancients, and
claiming for himself a supremacy over all other teachers and writers.
According to his view, Philosophy, Astrology, Alchemy and Virtue were
the four pillars of Medicine. It is a problem how to reconcile his
ignorance, his weakness and superstition, his crude notions and
erroneous observations, his ridiculous inferences and theories, with his
grasp of method, his lofty views of the true scope of Medicine, his
lucid statements, his incisive and epigrammatic criticisms of men and
motives.[244:1] After remaining at Basle for about a year, he resumed
his wanderings, frequenting taverns and spending whole nights in
carousals, with the lowest company. Paracelsus believed that it was
reserved for him to indicate the right path to the medical practitioners
of his day. In carrying out this idea, he exhibited such colossal
conceit, and indulged in such virulent abuse of his medical brethren,
that he became the object of their hatred and persecution.[244:2]

According to his doctrine, man is a little world or microcosm, and in
him are represented all the elements which are to be found in the great
world or macrocosm. Some diseases, he averred, require earthy remedies,
others aqueous or atmospheric, and still others, igneous. Paracelsus was
thoroughly imbued with the cabalistic theories prevalent in his time,
and traced analogies between the stars and various portions of the human
body. His fame as the greatest of charlatans appears to have been due in
large measure to his influence over the popular imagination by the magic
power of high-sounding words, which were mostly beyond the comprehension
of his hearers. His teachings have been aptly described as a system of
dogmatic and fantastic pseudo-philosophy. The following quotation may
serve as an illustration.

     All these recipes which are prepared for elemental diseases,
     consist of six things, two of which are from the planets, two
     from the elements, and two from narcotics. For although they
     can be composed of three things, one out of each being taken,
     yet these are too weak for healing purposes. Now there are two
     which derive from the planets, because they conciliate and
     correct medicine; two derive from the elements, in order that
     the grade of the disease may be overcome. Lastly, two are from
     the narcotics, because the four parts already mentioned are
     too weak of themselves to expel a disease before the crisis.
     Observe then, concerning composition, to forestall the
     critical day. Recipes prepared in this manner, are very
     helpful for diseases in all degrees of acuteness.

Paracelsus was the first to promulgate the theory of the existence of
magnetic properties in the human body, maintaining that the latter was
endowed with a double magnetism, of which one portion attracted to
itself the planets, and was nourished by them; whence came wisdom,
thought, and the senses. The other portion attracted to itself the
elements; whence came flesh and blood. He also asserted that the
attractive and hidden virtue of man resembles that of amber and of the
magnet, and that this virtue may be employed by healthy persons for the
cure of disease in others. Thus probably originated the idea which
developed into Animal Magnetism, and from it Anton Mesmer is said to
have derived inspiration some two hundred years later. Paracelsus died
at Salzburg, Austria, in 1541.

In the words of that eminent English divine, Thomas Fuller (1608-1661),
Paracelsus boasted of more than he could do, did more cures seemingly
than really, more cures really than lawfully, of more parts than
learning, of more fame than parts, a better physician than a man, and a
better chirurgeon than physician.

Paracelsus was a very prince among quacks, for probably no man ever
talked more loudly and ostentatiously or made vainer pretensions. He was
emphatically a knavish practitioner of medicine, a master of the art of
puffery, and was phenomenally successful in achieving notoriety.
Whatever his natural talent may have been, says Edward Meryon,
M.D.,[246:1] he placed himself in the category with those of the same
nature, who have ever been ready to purchase this world's riches at the
ruinous price of character and reputation.

The system of Paracelsus was founded upon mysticism and fanaticism of
the grossest kind. The chief aim of his doctrine was the blending of
mysticism and therapeutics, and the creation thereby of a false science,
wherewith he sought to exert an influence over the ignorant classes.

According to the cabalistic doctrine, the various events of life and all
natural phenomena are due to influences exerted by gods, devils, and the
stars. Each member and principal organ of the human body was supposed to
correspond with some planet or constellation. Similar foolish ideas were
widely prevalent, especially in Germany. Paracelsus was an ignoramus,
who affected to despise all the sciences, because of his lack of
knowledge of them. While prating much about divine light as the source
of all learning and culture, his boorish mien and rude manners afforded
evidence that he did not profit much by its happy influence.[246:2]

The Paracelsians maintained that life is a perpetual germinative
process, controlled by the _archaeus_ or vital force, which was supposed
to preside over all organic phenomena. The principal _archaeus_ was
believed to have its residence in the stomach, but subordinates guarded
the interests of the other important bodily organs.

Nature was sufficient for the cure of the majority of ills. But when
the internal physician, the man himself, was tired or incapable, some
remedy had to be applied, which should antagonize the spiritual seed of
the disease.[247:1] Such remedies, known as _arcana_, were alleged to
possess marvellous efficiency, but their composition was kept secret.
That is to say, they were quack medicines.

Paracelsus maintained that a man who, by abstraction of all sensuous
influences, and by child-like submission to the will of God, has made
himself a partaker of the heavenly intelligence, becomes thereby
possessed of the philosopher's stone. He is never at a loss. All
creatures on earth and powers in heaven are submissive to him; he can
cure all diseases, and can himself live as long as he chooses, for he
holds the elixir of life, which Adam and the early fathers employed
before the Flood, and by which they attained to great longevity.

The philosopher's stone, known also as the _great elixir_, or the _red
tincture_, when shaken in very small quantity into melted silver, lead
or other metal, was said to transmute it into gold. In minute doses it
was supposed to prolong life and restore youth, and was then called
_elixir vitæ_.[247:2] Says Ben Jonson in "The Alchemist" (1610), "He
that has once the Flower of the Sun, the perfect Ruby which we call
_Elixir_ . . . by its virtue can confer honour, love, respect, long
life; give safety, valour, yea and victory, to whom he will. In eight
and twenty days he'll make an old man of fourscore a child."

Paracelsus was foremost among a group of extraordinary characters, who
claimed to be the representatives of science at the close of the Middle
Ages. These men were of a bold, inquisitive temper, and with all their
faults, they had a noble thirst for knowledge. "Better the wildest
guess-work, than that perfect torpor which follows the parrot-like
repetition of the words of a predecessor!"[248:1] These irregular
practitioners, however impetuous and ill-balanced, were pioneers in
opening up new fields of investigation, and in exploring new paths,
which facilitated the progress of their successors in the search for
scientific truths.


philosopher, and cabalist, of noble ancestry, was born at Cologne, on
the Rhine, September 14, 1486. Having received a liberal education and
being by nature versatile, he became in his youth a secretary at the
Court of the German Emperor, Maximilian I.

He served moreover in the army under that monarch, during several
Italian campaigns, and by reason of gallantry, won the spurs of a
knight. Becoming averse to the profession of arms, he studied with
avidity law, medicine, philosophy, and languages, and in 1509 became
Professor of Hebrew at Dôle, in the department of Jura, France. Here his
caustic humor and intemperate language involved him in quarrels with the
monks, while his restless disposition impelled him to rove in search of
adventure. He visited successively London, Pavia, and Metz, where he
became a magistrate and town orator.

Having expressed opinions contrary to the prevalent beliefs in regard to
saints and witches, he was forced to depart abruptly. We next hear of
him as a practising physician in Fribourg, Switzerland. Thereafter he
became a vagabond and almost a beggar. Like his contemporary,
Paracelsus, he advanced the most paradoxical theories during his
adventurous career, which latter was partly scientific and partly
political, but always turbulent. Finally he established himself at
Lyons, where he again practised medicine, and became physician to Louise
of Savoy, Regent of France, and the mother of Francis I. Here Agrippa
soon fell into disgrace and was banished. In 1528 he joined the Court
of Margaret of Austria, ruler of the Netherlands, at Antwerp. On the
publication of his work, "On the Vanity of the Sciences," he was
imprisoned for a year at Brussels.

Upon his release, he returned to Lyons, where he was again detained in
custody, on account of an old libel against his former patroness.

His death occurred at Grenoble, France, February 18, 1535.

Agrippa was possessed of great versatility and learning, but his
writings are tinctured with bitterness and satire. He has been described
as restless, ambitious, enthusiastic, and credulous, a dupe himself and
a deceiver of others. His career was a continuous series of
disappointments and quarrels.

Yet he was an earnest searcher after truth, who was fain to attempt the
unlocking of Nature's secrets, but did not hold the right key.
Profoundly superstitious, he taught, for example, that the herb,
_Verbena officinalis_, vervain, would cure tertian or quartan fevers
according to the manner in which it was divided or cut. Agrippa has been
tersely described as a "meteor of philosophy."


JEROME CARDAN, an Italian physician, author, mathematician and
philosopher, was born at Pavia, September 24, 1501. He was the
illegitimate son of Facio Cardan, a man of repute among the learned in
his neighborhood, from whom Jerome received instruction in his youth.
Although idolized by his mother, he incurred his father's dislike, and
these circumstances, we are told, exerted a peculiar influence upon his
character. Despite many difficulties, however, he achieved both fame and
notoriety. After having received degrees in arts and medicine from the
University of Padua, he became Professor of Mathematics at Milan in
1534, and later was admitted to the College of Physicians in that city.
In 1547 he declined an invitation to become court physician at
Copenhagen, on account of the harsh northern climate and the obligation
to change his religion. In the year 1552 Jerome Cardan visited Scotland
at the request of John Hamilton, Archbishop of St. Andrews, whom he
treated for asthma with success. Thence he was summoned to England to
give his professional advice in the case of Edward VI, after which he
returned to Milan with enhanced prestige. He afterwards practised
Medicine at Pavia and Bologna and finally settled at Rome, where he
received a pension from the Pope. His death occurred there, September
21, 1575.

Cardan was possessed of great natural ability, and for a time was
regarded as the most eminent physician and astrologer among his
contemporaries. But his mind was of a peculiar cast, and his temper most
inconstant. He had, says Peter Bayle, in his "Historical Dictionary," a
decided love of paradox, and of the marvellous, an infantine credulity,
a superstition scarce conceivable, an insupportable vanity, and a
boasting that knew no limits. His works, though full of puerilities and
contradictions, of absurd tales and charlatanry of every description,
nevertheless offer proofs of a bold, inventive genius, which seeks for
new paths of science, and succeeds in finding them. According to his own
statement, he found pleasure in roaming about the streets all night
long. His love of gaming amounted to a mania. Baron von Leibnitz
(1646-1716) wrote of Cardan, that notwithstanding his faults, he was a
great man, and without his defects, would have been incomparable. He
wrote extensively on philosophy, mathematics, and medicine, and also on
chiromancy. For his own follies and misfortunes he apologized,
attributing them all to the influence of the stars. He has been
described as a genuine philosopher and devotee of science, and his
lasting reputation is chiefly due to his discoveries in algebra, in
which art, wrote the historian, Henry Hallam, he made a great epoch.


One of the most notorious charlatans of the eighteenth century was
Giuseppe Balsamo, who was born at Palermo, Sicily, June 2, 1743. Though
of humble origin, this arch-impostor assumed the title of Count
Alessandro di Cagliostro, and styled himself Grand Cophta, Prophet and
Thaumaturge. He married Lorenza Feliciani, the daughter of a
girdle-maker of Rome. Balsamo professed alchemy and free-masonry,
practised medicine and sorcery, and raised money by various methods of
imposture. He rode about in his own coach, attended by a numerous
retinue in rich liveries. His attire consisted of an iron-gray coat, a
scarlet waistcoat trimmed with gold lace, and red breeches. His jaunty
hat was adorned with a white feather, and handsome rings encircled his
fingers. He carried a sword after the fashion of the times, and his
shoe-buckles shone like flashing jewels.

Balsamo was a man of great energy; gifted with persuasive eloquence
which seemed to exercise a charm over his hearers. Having rare natural
abilities, he enriched his mind by diligent studies and observations of
human nature, during his tours abroad. But in spite of these advantages
he failed to rise above the sphere of an unscrupulous charlatan.

In 1780 he settled in Strasburg, where he established a reputation by
some marvellous cures. Here was the culmination of his fame and fortune.
Five years later he came to Paris, where he became implicated in the
notorious affair of the "Diamond Necklace," and was imprisoned in the
Bastille for some months. His death occurred at the fortress of Saint
Léon, Rome, in 1795. A sublimer rascal never breathed, wrote W.
Russell, LL.D., in "Eccentric Personages." Balsamo had unlimited faith
in the gullibility of mankind, and was amply endowed with the gifts
which enable their possessor to shear the simpletons of society.


VALENTINE GREATRAKES was born at Affane, County of Waterford, Ireland,
on Saint Valentine's Day, February 14, 1628. He was educated a
Protestant at the free school of Lismore near his home, and at Trinity
College, Dublin.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1641, his mother fled with him to
England and took refuge in Devonshire, where he devoted himself to the
study of the classics and divinity. Afterwards Greatrakes served for
seven years in Cromwell's army, holding a commission as lieutenant of
cavalry under Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery. In 1656 he left the army and
returned to Affane, where he was appointed a magistrate and served as
such with credit.

Soon after the Restoration, in obedience to a divine impulse, he began
practice as a healer of various diseases by the method known as
laying-on of hands, stroking, or touching, which had been employed by
the sovereigns of England, from the time of Edward the Confessor.
Greatrakes's success was immediate and phenomenal. People flocked to him
so rapidly, we are told, from all quarters, that "his barns and
out-houses were crammed with innumerable specimens of suffering
humanity." In 1665 he returned to England, where he performed many
seemingly marvellous cures; and came to be regarded as a greater
miracle-worker than King Charles II himself. But after an investigation
and adverse report by members of the Royal Society, his practice fell
into disrepute, and he retired to his native land, where he sojourned in
obscurity until his death, which is supposed to have occurred after the
year 1682. One David Lloyd, a biographer, issued a tract entitled
"Wonders no Miracles, or Mr. Valentine Greatrakes' Gift of Healing
Examined," wherein he endeavored to show that the famous "Irish
stroaker" was little better than an impostor. In reply to this,
Greatrakes published a pamphlet, vindicating his methods, with
testimonials from persons of quality and distinction.

Greatrakes has been described as a man of unimpeachable integrity, a
highly respectable member of society, and incapable of attempting to
deceive by fraud. Notoriety was distasteful to him, and in this respect
he was above the plane of an ordinary charlatan. An enthusiast, he
believed himself to be invested with divine healing powers. His success
was surely due to forcible therapeutic suggestions communicated by him
to the minds of highly imaginative and credulous people, who reposed
confidence in his methods. It mattered not that they believed the cures
of their nervous disorders to be wrought solely through the physical
agency of laying-on of hands, whereby some mysterious healing force,
magnetic or otherwise, was communicated to them.

In attempting an explanation of the cures wrought by Greatrakes, Henry
Stubbe, a contemporary writer, affirmed that "God had bestowed upon Mr.
Greatarick a peculiar temperament, or composed his body of some
particular ferments, and the effluvia thereof, sometimes by a light,
sometimes by a violent friction, restore the temperament of the
debilitated parts, reinvigorate the blood, and dissipate all
heterogeneous ferments out of the bodies of the diseased, by the eyes,
nose, hands and feet." There is nothing recorded in regard to
Greatrakes's methods (says Professor Joseph Jastrow, in "Fact and Fable
in Psychology"), which definitely suggests the production of the
hypnotic state; but direct suggestion, reinforced by manipulation,
obviously had much to do with the cures.

In 1666 the Chamberlain of the Worcester Corporation expended ten
pounds, fourteen shillings in an entertainment for "Mr. Greatrix, an
Irishman famous for helping and curing many lame and diseased people,
only by stroking of their maladies with his hand and therefore sent for
to this and many other places."

From a letter written by Greatrakes to the Archbishop of Dublin, it
appears that he believed himself to be inspired of God, for the purpose
of curing disease. He received lavish hospitality in many homes, when at
the height of his popularity, and was regarded as a phenomenal adept in
the art of healing by touch.[257:1]

If there exists such a thing as the "gift of healing," Greatrakes
appears to have possessed it. Dr. A. T. Schofield believes that in
certain rare cases individuals are endowed with the faculty of curing by
touch, to which the terms magnetic, psychic, occult, hypnotic, and
mesmeric have been applied. This power is resident in the operator, and
has nothing to do with suggestion; whereas in so-called faith-healing,
the power is resident in the patient, who, by the exercise of faith,
puts it into action.

Greatrakes has been described as having an agreeable personality,
pleasant manners, a fine figure, gallant bearing, a handsome face,
musical voice, and a good stock of animal spirits. Thus equipped, we may
not wonder that he was ever welcome in merry company. He had an impulse
or strange persuasion of his own mind (says J. Cordy Jeaffreson, in "A
Book about Doctors") that he had the gift of curing the King's Evil. A
second impulse gave him the power of healing ague, and a third
"inspiration of celestial aura imparted to him command, under certain
conditions, over all human diseases." Greatrakes adapted his
manipulations to the requirements of individual cases. Oftentimes gentle
stroking sufficed, but when the evil spirits were especially malignant,
he employed energetic massage. Occasionally the demon fled, "like a
well-bred dog," at the word of command, but more frequently the victory
was not won until the healer had rubbed himself into a red face, and a
copious perspiration.

It is narrated that when Greatrakes was practising in London, a
rheumatic and gouty patient came to him. "Ah," said the healer,
colloquially, "I have seen a good many spirits of this kind in Ireland.
They are watery spirits, who bring on cold shivering and excite an
overflow of aqueous humor in our poor bodies." Then, addressing the
demon, he continued: "Evil spirit, who has quitted thy dwelling in the
waters, to come and afflict this miserable body, I command thee to quit
thy new abode, and to return to thine ancient habitation."[258:1]

From among a large number of testimonials of cures performed by
Greatrakes, a single example may suffice.



     Whereas you are pleased to enquire after the Cure, by God's
     means done upon me, by the stroking of my head by Mr.
     Greatrakes; These are thoroughly to inform you that being
     violently troubled with an excessive pain of the head, that I
     had hardly slept six hours in six days and nights, and taken
     but very little of sustenance in that time; and being but
     touch'd by him, I immediately found ease, and (thanks be to
     God) do continue very well; and do further satisfie you, that
     the rigour of the pain had put me into a high Fever, which
     immediately ceas'd with my head-ache: and do likewise further
     inform you that a Servant being touch'd for the same pain,
     that had continu'd upon him for twelve years last past, he
     touch'd him in the forehead, and the pain went backward; and
     that but by his stroking upon the outside of his cloaths, the
     pain came down to and out of his foot: the party continues
     still well. These Cures were wrought about 3 weeks before

     And thus much I assure you to be true from him that is
                                       Your Friend and Servant
                                                       EDM. SQUIBB.

     COVENT-GARDEN, _April 20, 1666_.
     At my Lady Verney's, the place of my residence.

While Greatrakes acquired great celebrity on account of the numerous
cures which he performed, he was unable to explain the nature of his
healing powers. In a letter to the Hon. Robert Boyle, he expressed the
belief that many of the pains which afflict men, are of the nature of
evil spirits. "Such pains," wrote he, "cannot endure my hand, nay, not
my glove, but flye immediately, though six or eight coats and cloaks be
put between the parties' body and my hand, as at York House, the Lady
Ranalough's and divers other places, since I came to London."


JOHANN BAPTIST VAN HELMONT, a celebrated Belgian physician, scholar and
visionary, of noble family, was born at Brussels in 1577. At an early
age he began the study of medicine, and was appointed Professor of
Surgery at the University of Louvain. Becoming, however, infected with
the delusions of alchemy, and being possessed of an ardent imagination,
he inclined naturally to the study of occult science, and was infatuated
with the idea of discovering a universal remedy. He was, moreover, a
follower of the eminent theologian, Johann Tauler (1290-1361), founder
of mystic theology in Germany. Van Helmont has been described as an
enthusiastic and fantastic, though upright friend of the truth. He
adhered to the theosophic and alchemistic doctrines of a somewhat
earlier epoch, and was an admirer of the dogmatic pseudo-philosophy of

The German writer, Johann Christian Ferdinand Hoefer (1811-1878), said
that Van Helmont was much superior to Paracelsus, whom he took as his
model. He had the permanent distinction of revealing scientifically the
existence of invisible, impalpable substances, namely gases. And he was
the first to employ the word gas as the name of all elastic fluids
except common air.[260:1] Van Helmont graduated as Doctor of Medicine in
1599, and after several years of study at different European
universities, he returned home and married Margaret van Ranst, a noble
lady of Brabant. He then settled down on his estate at Vilvoorden, near
Brussels, where he remained until his death in 1644.

Johann Hermann Baas, in his "History of Medicine," characterizes him as
a fertile genius in the department of chemistry, but denies that he was
a great and independent spirit, outrunning his age, or impressing upon
it the stamp of his own individuality. Van Helmont, like many another
irregular practitioner, achieved fame by some remarkable cures. It was
said of him that his patients never languished long under his care,
being always killed or cured within two or three days. He was frequently
called to attend those who had been given up by other physicians. And to
the latters' chagrin, such patients were often unexpectedly restored to

A lover of the marvellous, and credulous to the point of superstition,
Van Helmont became infatuated with erroneous doctrines. His
contemporaries, dazzled, it may be, by the brilliancy of his mental
powers, regarded him as an erratic genius, but not as a charlatan.

The term _spiritual_ vitalism has been applied to the philosophy of Van
Helmont. He maintained that the primary cause of all organization was
_Archaeus_ (Gr. ἀρχαῖος, primitive), a term said to have been
invented by Basil Valentine, the German alchemist (born 1410).

This has been defined as a spirit, or invisible man or animal, of
ethereal substance, the counterpart of the visible body, within which it
resides, and to which it imparts life, strength, and the power of
assimilating food.[261:2] _Archaeus_ was regarded as the creative
spirit, which, working upon the raw material of water or fluidity, by
means of a ferment promotes the various actions which result in the
development and nutrition of the physical organism. As life and all
vital action depended upon _archaeus_, any disturbance of this spirit
was regarded as the probable cause of fevers and other morbid


ROBERT FLUDD, surnamed "the Searcher," an English physician, writer and
theosophist, member of a knightly family, first saw the light at
Milgate, Kent, in the year 1574. His father, Sir Thomas Fludd, was
Treasurer of War under Queen Elizabeth. Robert was a graduate of St.
John's College, Oxford.

After taking his degree in 1598, he followed the example of many another
man of original mind, athirst for knowledge of the world, and led a
roving life for six years, "in order to observe and collect what was
curious in nature, mysterious in arts, or profound in science."

Returning to London in 1605, he entered the College of Physicians, and
four years later receiving a medical degree, he established himself at
his house in Coleman Street, in the metropolis, where he remained until
his death in 1637.

Fludd was a voluminous writer, and one of the most famous _savants_ of
his time. He was at once physician, chemist, mathematician, and
philosopher. But his chief reputation was due to his system of
theosophy. Profoundly imbued with mystical lore, he combined in an
incomprehensible jumble the doctrines of the Cabalists and Paracelsians.
William Enfield, in the "History of Philosophy," remarks of the
peculiarity of this philosopher's turn of mind, that there was nothing
which ancient or modern times could afford, under the notion of modern
wisdom, which he did not gather into his magazine of science. Fludd was
reputed to be a man of piety and great learning, and was an adept in the
so-called Rosicrucian philosophy. In his view, the whole world was
peopled with demons and spirits, and therefore the faithful physician
should lay hold of the armor of God, for he has not to struggle against
flesh and blood. He published treatises on various subjects which are
replete with abstruse and visionary theories. The title of one of these
treatises is as follows: "De Supernaturalis, Naturalis,
Praeternaturalis, et Contranaturalis Microcosmi Historia, 1619."

The phenomena of magnetism were ascribed by him to the irradiation of
angels. Robert Fludd enjoyed the acquaintance and friendship of many
scientists at home and abroad, and was without doubt one of the most
versatile and erudite of contemporary British scholars.

He devoted much time to scientific experiments and natural philosophy,
and constructed a variety of odd mechanisms, including an automatic
dragon and a self-playing lyre.[264:1] Moreover, he was a believer in
mystical faith-cures, and in the existence of a kind of dualism in
therapeutics, whereby sickness and healing were produced by two
antagonistic forces.


MICHEL DE NOTREDAME, or NOSTRADAMUS, a celebrated French physician and
astrologer, of Jewish ancestry, was born at Saint-Remi, a small town in
Provence, December 14, 1503. Both of his grandfathers were practitioners
of medicine, and his father, Jacques de Notredame, was a notary of
Saint-Remi. Michel studied medicine at Avignon and afterwards at the
University of Montpellier, where he took his degree.

During the prevalence of an epidemic in the south of France, he acquired
distinction by his zealous ministrations to the stricken peasants, and
more especially by some remarkable cures attributed to a remedy of his
own invention. After the pestilence had subsided, Notredame devoted many
years to travel, after which, in the year 1544, he settled at Salon, a
little town in the present Department of Bouches-du-Rhône. During a
second visitation of the plague, which raged in Provence, he accepted an
invitation from the authorities of Lyons and Aix to visit those places.
Although his success in treating patients at this time served to enhance
his fame as a practitioner, his chief reputation was due to his capacity
as an astrologer. He claimed moreover to have the faculty of reading the
future, and became the subject of a bitter controversy. For while he
gained many adherents abroad, in his own country he was regarded as
little better than a charlatan. He became involved in controversies with
his professional _confrères_, who were jealous of his success and
doubtless also suspicious of his methods.

It is worthy of note that the most notorious quacks, often men of
genius and education, though mentally ill-balanced, and morally of low
standards, have been great travellers and shrewd observers of the weak
points in human nature. When such an one becomes ambitious to acquire
wealth, he is likely to prove a dangerous person in the community.
Notredame was regarded as a visionary by some of his contemporaries,
while others believed him to have illicit correspondence with the Devil.
Among those who were impressed by his pretensions as a soothsayer, was
Catherine de' Medici (regent for her son, Charles IX), who invited him
to visit the French Court, where he was received as a distinguished

Michel de Notredame published in 1555 his famous work entitled
"Centuries," a collection of prophecies, written in quatrains. His death
occurred at Salon, July 2, 1566.

We quote as follows from a rare volume, "The True Prophecies of Michel
Nostradamus, Physician to Henry II and Charles IX, Kings of France,
translated by Theophilus de Garencieres, Doctor in Physick, London,

     He was popularly believed "to have naturally a genius for the
     knowing of future things, as he himself confesseth in 2
     Epistles to King Henry II, and to Cæsar, his own son. And
     besides that genius, the knowledge of astrology did smooth him
     the way to discover many future events. He had a greater
     disposition than others to receive those supernatural lights,
     and as God is pleased to work sweetly in his creatures, and to
     give some forerunning dispositions to those graces he
     intendeth to bestow, it seemeth that to that purpose he did
     choose our author to reveal him so many wonderful secrets. We
     see every day that God in the distributing of his graces,
     carrieth Himself towards us according to our humours and
     natural inclinations. He employeth those that have a generous
     martial heart, for the defence of His Church, and the
     destruction of tyrants.

     "He leadeth those of a melancholick humour into Colledges and
     Colisters, and cherisheth tenderly those that are of a meek
     and mild disposition.

     "Even so, seeing that Nostradamus inclined to this kind of
     knowledge, He gave him in a great measure the grace of it."


WILLIAM LILLY, a famous English astrologer of yeoman ancestry, was born
at Diseworth, an obscure village in northwestern Leicestershire, May 1,
1602. In his autobiography he described his native place as a "town of
great rudeness, wherein it is not remembered that any of the farmers
thereof, excepting my grandfather, did ever educate any of their sons to
learning." His mother was Alice, daughter of Edward Barham, of Fiskerton
Mills in Nottinghamshire.

When eleven years of age, he was placed in the care of one John Brinsley
at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, not far from Diseworth. Here he received
instruction in the classics. In April, 1620, he went to London to seek
his fortune, and obtained employment as foot-boy and general factotum in
the family of one Gilbert Wright, of the parish of St. Clement Danes, a
man of property, but without education.

Not long after his master's death in 1627, Lilly married the widow, and
being then in comfortable circumstances, devoted considerable time to
the pursuit of angling, and became fond of listening to Puritan
sermons.[268:1] Having abundant leisure, he was enabled to humor the
natural bent of his mind, and to begin the study of astrology, which he
continued with zeal, devoting special attention to the magical circle
and to the invocation of spirits. Keenly alive to the popular credulity,
he claimed the possession of supernatural powers as a fortune-teller and
soothsayer, largely as a result of the study of the works of noted
astrologers, including the "Ars Notoria" of Cornelius Agrippa.

Becoming a prey to melancholy and hypochondria, he lived in retirement
for five years at Hersham in Surrey, and then returned to London in
1641. At this time, wrote Lilly in his autobiography, "I took careful
notice of every grand action between king and parliament, and did first
then incline to believe that, as all sublunary affairs depend on
superior causes, so there was a possibility of discovering them by the
configuration of the heavens."

In 1644 he published his first almanac, under the title, "Merlinus
Angelicus Junior, the English Merlin Revived, or a Mathematical
Prediction of the English Commonwealth." This publication was issued
annually for nearly forty years, and found a ready sale, being shrewdly
adapted to the popular taste. Lilly was said to have acquired
considerable influence over the credulous monarch, Charles I, who was
wont to consult him regarding political affairs. He was an adept in the
wily arts of the charlatan, achieving notoriety by unscrupulous methods.
Not a few of his exploits, wrote one of his biographers, indicate rather
the quality of a clever police detective, than that of a profound

After the Restoration, Lilly fell into disrepute, and again retired to
his estate at Hersham, where he began the study of Medicine, receiving a
license to practise in the year 1670, when sixty-eight years of age.
Thenceforth he combined the professions of physic and astrology. His
death occurred June 9, 1681.

Among his publications are the following: "Mr. Lillie's Prediction
concerning the many lamentable Fires which have lately happened, with a
full account of Fires at Home and Abroad." 1676. "Strange news from the
East, or a sober account of the Comet or blazing star that has been seen
several Mornings of late." 1677.


JOHANN JOSEPH GASSNER, who was regarded as a thaumaturge by his
partisans, and as a charlatan by his opponents, was born at Bratz, a
village of the Austrian Tyrol, August 20, 1727. He was educated at
Innsbruck and Prague, became a priest, and settled at Coire, the capital
of the Swiss canton of Grisons. Here he remained for some fifteen years,
ministering acceptably to his parishioners. It appears that he then
became impressed with the scriptural accounts of the healing of
demoniacs, and devoted himself to the study of the works of famous

Gradually he acquired a reputation as a healer by means of the methods
of laying on of hands, conjuration and prayer. Many of the Tyrolese
peasantry flocked to him, as did their Irish brethren to Greatrakes.
Gassner treated them all without recompense. He believed that the
efficiency of his methods was dependent upon the degree of faith of his
patients. Some cases he affected to benefit by drugs, others by touch,
and still others by exorcism. He was a pioneer in the employment of
suggestion, while summoning to his aid the forces of religious faith,
prayer and material remedies.

The Bishop of Constance sent for Gassner, and after a careful
examination of his methods and beliefs, became convinced of the purity
of his character, and of his good faith. The bishop therefore permitted
him to continue his practice at Coire and its neighborhood.

Gassner's reputation as a thaumaturge spread throughout Germany and
adjacent countries, and he numbered among his patrons many persons of
influence. In 1774, upon invitation of the Bishop of Ratisbon, he
removed to Ellwangen, in Würtemberg, where he is said to have cured many
by the mere word of command, _Cesset_. He died at Bondorf, in the
Diocese of Ratisbon, in the year 1779.

The celebrated Dutch physician, Antoine de Haen, who was a contemporary
of Gassner, described the latter as a man of jovial temperament, and a
sworn foe to melancholy. He did not take advantage of the popular
credulity for his own pecuniary gain, and was therefore morally far
above the plane of an ordinary charlatan.


[244:1] _Encyclopædia Britannica_, art. "Paracelsus."

[244:2] Edward Theodore Withington, _Medical History_, p. 225.

[246:1] _The History of Medicine._

[246:2] P. V. Renouard, _History of Medicine_, p. 368.

[247:1] _Encyclopædia Britannica_, art. "Medicine."

[247:2] _Century Dictionary._

[248:1] _Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine_, June, 1854.

[257:1] _The Gentleman's Magazine_, part i; 1856.

[258:1] John Timbs, _Doctors and Patients_, vol. ii, p. 33.

[260:1] Joseph Thomas, _Universal Dictionary of Biography_, art. "Van

[261:1] Rev. Hugh James Rose, _A New General Biographical Dictionary_.

[261:2] _The Century Dictionary._

[264:1] _The New International Encyclopædia._

[268:1] Henry Lee, _Dictionary of National Biography_.


Abracadabra, 126.

Amulets, 5, 6, 14, 60-62, 138.

Ancient Irish physicians, 12, 13, 40.

Ancient medical prescriptions, 155-164.

Angel of gold, 83, 85.

Animal magnetism, 143-154.

Animals, effect of music upon, 176, 177, 180.

Atharva-Veda, 133.

Auto-suggestion, 217, 231.

Blue-glass mania, 93-96.

Chaldean medical amulets, 112.

Charlatans, 201-238.

Charms, 6, 9, 122-123, 125.

Christian Science, 53-55.

Correspondence between Christ and King Abgar, 35-37.

Curative spells, 41, 42, 45.

Demonology, the doctrine of, 209, 210.

Demons of disease, 206.

Devil, the, 205-211.

Divination, 117.

Dreams, the interpretation of, 98.

Druids, the, 12, 13, 75, 129.

Edible letters, 50.

Edible prescriptions, 51.

Egyptian medicine, 117-120.

Ephesian letters, 128-129.

Fairy-women, 13, 109.

Grigris, 45.

Healing by manual stroking, 76.

Healing-spells, 111-134, 138.

Hydro-therapy, 97, 101.

Hypnotism, 153, 154.

Imagination, the curative power of, 53-72, 145, 151.

Incantations, 9, 39, 47, 109, 113, 114, 134, 205.

Incubation, 101-104.

Intermittent fever, remarkable cure for, 131, 132.

King's Evil, 73-92.

Kneipp cure, 53.

Laying on of hands, 73-92.

Magical healing formulas, 10, 11, 13, 26.

Mantras, 37, 60.

Medical amulets, 3, 9, 15, 17.

Medicine, irregular practitioners of, 243-272.

Medieval physicians, 14.

Mesmerism, 146-151.

Metallic tractors, 139.

Metallo-therapy, 139-142.

Music, as a cure for tarantism, 197-200;
  as a medicine, 189;
  at banquets, 180-184;
  at hospitals, 193;
  distasteful to some persons, 186;
  healing influence of, 172-200.

New York City, quackery in, 237.

Oracles, 98-99.

Pentacle, the, 20, 21.

Phylacteries, 24-29.

Power of words, the, 30-52.

Protective charms, 46-48.

Psychological methods in Medicine, 56-59.

Psycho-therapy in ancient times, 114-115.

Quacks and Quackery, 201-238.

Quack, derivation of the word, 202.

Quack remedies, 220.

Quake-doctors, 203.

℞, medical symbol, 156, 157.

Relics, healing qualities attributed to, 165-171.

Royal touch, the, 73-92.

Runic Inscriptions, 135-138, 214.

Saphies, 45, 49.

Snail as an article of diet, 39.

Spell against gout, 130-131.

Spirit-cheering pills, 159.

Styptic charms, 105-110.

Suggestion, 16, 63, 86, 140, 151, 231.

Sympathetic powder, 145.

Talismans, 19-23.

Temples of Esculapius, 97-104.

Toothache charms, 64-66.

Touch-pieces, 79, 80, 86.

Unicorn's horn, 161-164.

_Vis medicatrix naturæ_, 66, 69-72, 105.

Weapon-salve, 143-144.

Words, the power of, 30-52, 111, 126.

Transcriber's Notes:

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     page 44, Footnote 44-4: Proverbs, xvii, v.[original has p.]

     page 154: representation to him.[original has extraneous
     quotation mark]

     page 186: best concert he ever heard.[original has extraneous
     quotation mark]

     page 275: Oracles, 98-99[original has 88, 89].

     page 276: Saphies, 45, 49[original has 48].

The following words appear with and without a hyphen. They have been
left as in the original.

     Psycho-therapy           Psychotherapy
     sooth-sayers             soothsayers
     star-craft               starcraft
     sub-conscious            subconscious

The following words have variant spellings. They have been left as in
the original.

     Chirurgians              Chyrurgians
     physick                  Physick             Physicke
     practice                 practise            practised
     Theodore                 Théodore

On page 219, the word "sorcery" is misspelled "scorcery". Since it
occurs in quoted material, it has been left as in the original.

Ellipses match the original.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.