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Title: Medicine in the Middle Ages - Extracts from "Le Moyen Age Medical" by Dr. Edmond Dupouy
Author: Dupouy, Edmond
Language: English
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Transcriber’s note:

      It should be noted that almost all of the French in the book is
      unaccented. No attempt has been made to correct this.

      The footnotes are located at the end of the book.

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).


Extracts from “Le Moyen Age Medical”



Translated by T. C. Minor, M.D.

Reprinted from the Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic, Dec. 1, 1888,
to Feb. 16, 1889.

Cincinnati Lancet Press Print,





                     MEDICINE IN THE MIDDLE AGES.


                    TRANSLATED BY T. C. MINOR, M.D.


In the fourth century of the Christian era Roman civilization expired;
Western Europe was invaded by the barbarians; letters and science
sought a last refuge at Alexandria; the Middle Age commenced.

Greek medicine strove to survive the revolution in the city of the
Ptolemies, and even produced a few celebrated physicians, _i.e._,
Alexander Ætius, Alexander Trallian, and Paulus Ægineta, but at the
end of the seventh century the school of Alexandria also fell and
disappeared in the clouds of a false philosophy, bequeathing all
Hippocratic traditions to the Arabs, who advanced as conquerors to the

The Arabian schools of Dschondisabur, Bagdad, Damascus, and Cordova
were founded and became flourishing institutions of learning, thanks
to a few Nestorian Greeks and Jews who were attracted to these centers
of learning; such men as Aaron, Rhazes, Haly-Abas, Avicenna, Avenzoar,
Averrhoes, Albucasis, and other writers, who continued the work left
by the Greeks, leaving remarkable books on medicine and surgery.
Unfortunately the ordinance of Islamism prevented these scientists from
following anatomical work too closely, and consequently limited the
progress they might otherwise have made in medicine.[1]

What occurred in Western Europe during this period of transition?
The torch of science was extinguished; the sacred fire on the altar
of learning only remained a flickering emblem whose pale light was
carefully guarded in the chapel of monasteries. Medicine was abandoned
to the priests, and all practice naturally fell into an empirical and
blind routine. “The physician-clergy,” says Sprengel, “resorted in the
majority of cases to prayers and holy water, to the invocations of
saints and martyrs, and inunction with sacred ointments. These monks
were unworthy of the name of doctor—they were, in fact, nothing else
than fanatical hospital attendants.”

An ephemeral ray of light broke from the clouds in the _renaissance_
of 805, when Charlemagne ordered the cathedral schools to add medicine
to their studies as a part of the _quadrivium_. Some of the monks
now commenced to study the works of Celsus and Cœlius Aurelianus,
but, ever as with the Mussulmen, the Catholic religion forbade the
dissection of the human body, and the monks made no more progress
than the barbarians; so that the masses of the people had little or
no confidence in clerical medical skill. We find the proof of a lack
of confidence in the Gothic laws promulgated by Theodoric about this
period—laws kept even into the eleventh century in the greater portion
of Western Europe. These ordinances, among other things, proclaim as

“No physician must open a vein of a woman or a daughter of the
nobility without being assisted by a relative or body-servant; _quia
difficillium non est, ut sub tali occasione ludibrium interdum
adhærescat_.” (Their morality was then a subject for caution.)

“When a physician is called to dress a wound or treat a disease, he
must take the precaution to settle on his fee, for he cannot claim any
in case the patient’s life is endangered.

“He shall be entitled to five sous for operating on hard cataract.

“If a physician wound a gentleman by bleeding, he shall be condemned to
pay a fine of one hundred sous; and should the gentleman die following
the operation, the physician must be delivered into the hands of the
dead man’s relatives, who may deal with the doctor as they see fit.

“When a physician has a student he shall be allowed twelve sous for his
services as tutor.”

Towards the tenth century, however, progress in medicine is at last
noticeable. We see some monks going to make their studies at Salerno
and at Mount Cassin, where the Benedictine friars had established a
medical college in the previous century. Constantine had given these
friars Arabian manuscripts, which had been translated into Latin, with
commentaries. Also the works of the early Greek physicians and the
treatises of Aristotle on “Natural Science.” It was at Salerno that
Ægidius de Corbeil studied physic before becoming physician to Philip
Augustus. Nevertheless, medicine remained in darkness with clerical
ignorance, the superstition and despotism of the church offering an
insurmountable barrier to all science. Finally a reform was instituted
in 1206 by the foundation of the University of Paris, which included
among its school of learning a college of medicine, wherein many
students matriculated. The _physicus_ Hugo, and Obiso, physician to
Louis the Great, were the first professors in the institution. Degrees
were accorded indiscriminately to the clergy or to the laity, the
condition of celibacy being imposed on the latter likewise.

A medical and surgical service was organized at the Hotel Dieu, which
hospital was erected before the entrance of Notre Dame, under the
direction of the clergy. On certain days the priests would assemble
around the holy water font of the cathedral, _supra cupam_, in order to
discuss questions in medicine or the connection of scholastic learning
with the healing art.

The University only recognized as students of medicine persons who held
the degree of master-in-arts. They absolutely separated the _meges_ and
_mires_, surgeons, bonesetters, and barbers, who had made no classical
studies, and to whom was abandoned as unworthy of the real physicians
all that concerned minor surgery. These officers of health, so-called,
of the Middle Ages were unimportant and little respected persons; they
kept shops and never went out without carrying one or two dressing
cases; they were only comparable to drug peddlers; and the University
imposed no vows of celibacy in their case.

In many literary works in Latin it is often a question whether to call
in a physician or _mire_, and certain passages admirably serve to prove
this historical fact. In the _Roman de Dolopatos_,[2] for example, the
poet tells how to prevent the poisoning of wounds, as they are easy to
cure when the injury is recent:

    You have heard it told
      To dress a wound while new;
    ’Tis hard to heal when old.
      You’ll find this statement true.[3]
    When the doctor cometh late
      The wound may poisoned be;
    The sore may irritate
      And most sad results we see.

In another troubadour song, _The Wicked Surgeon_ (_Vilain Mire_), from
which Moliere purloined his play “A Doctor in Spite of Himself,” we
see the wife of the bone-setter assure every one that her husband is
not only a good surgeon, but likewise knows as much of medicine and
uroscopy as Hippocrates himself. (We must not forget that a knowledge
of urine was claimed by _mires_ and _meges_.) Thus the bone setter’s
wife says:

    “My husband is, as I have said,
    A surgeon who can raise the dead.
    He sees disease in urine hid,
    Knows more than e’en Ypocras did.”

The _Roman de la Rose_ shows us a poor devil who complains of not being
able to find a surgeon (_mire_) to dress his wounds, _i.e._:

    “Ne sceus que faire, ne que dire,
    Ne pour ma playe trover mire,
    Ne par herbe, ne par racine
    Je ne peus trover medecine.”

Some years after the founding of the University of Paris, a great
scientific movement occurred in the Occident. The Faculty of
Montpellier had already acquired much celebrity. The College of
Surgeons of Paris was established in 1271. Medical circles counted a
brilliant galaxy of remarkable men, _i.e._ Richard de Wendmere, Jean
de Saint Amand, Guillaume Saliceto, the great Albert, Bernard Gordon,
Arnauld de Villeneuve, Lanfranc, and Roger Bacon. The school of Paris
now wished to direct its own affairs, and accordingly, in 1280 A.D.,
separated from the University and assumed the title _Physicorum
Facultas_, and its members became physicians. Sustained by Royal edict,
they obtained rich grants from the church and from public taxes, but
these marks of favor aroused bitter jealousies; criticism rained down
on the healing art on every hand, and medicine was lampooned; these
physicians of the thirteenth century were ridiculed so bitterly as to
make the age historical, and thus inspire the comedy writers of future
generations. This is more than evidenced in the wicked satires of Guyot
de Provins (_Bible Guiot_), who cruelly assails the doctors; it was he
who wrote the poem that said:

    “Young doctors just come from Salern(o)
    Sell blown-up bladders for lantern.”

As we see, from perusing these numerous lampoons, physicians were not
held in high esteem, notwithstanding the sacerdotal character in which
the profession was invested. Meantime, in the _Roman du Noveau Renard_,
we find a passage[4] that permits the supposition that physicians
already possessed a certain amount of medical erudition; that they
were acquainted with the works of Galen, and had full knowledge of all
writers of the Arabian school, as well as that of the school of Salerno.

    “Je faisoie le physicien
    Et allegoie Galien,
    Et montrois oeuvre ancienne
    Et de Rasis et d’Avicenne,
    Et a tous les faisoie entendre
    In’estoie drois physiciens
    Et maistre des practiciens.”

In revenge, the author of the “Romance of Renard” accords but little
confidence to medical art, for he adds very maliciously:

    “All belief in medicine is folly,
    Trust it and you lose your life;
    For it is a fact most melancholy—
    Where one is cured two perish in the strife.”

Why the poet of the _Roman du Renard_ was so full of rancor against
the doctors of his time is a problem too difficult to solve; yet,
while he considered them no better than criminals and dangerous men to
society, he did not fail to call a doctor before dying. Physicians,
for some strange and unknown reason, have always been criticised by
French literary men in modern as well as ancient times. Our French
authors have never, as did the masters of Greek poesy, recognized us as
brothers in Apollo. Permit me here to call their attention to one of
the writers of Greek anthology, who said of physicians:

“The son of Phœbus himself, Æsculapius, has instilled into thy mind,
O Praxagorus, the knowledge of that divine art which makes care to be
forgotten. He has given into thy hands the balm that cures all evils.
Thou, too, hast learned from the sweet Epion what pains accompany long
fevers, and the remedies to be applied to divided flesh; if mortals
possessed medicines such as thine, the ferry of Charon would not be
overloaded in crossing the Styx.”

Notwithstanding sarcasm, in spite of epigrams and calumny, medicine has
always been a source of sublime consolation to the sick and afflicted,
the sufferer—rich and poor. At all ages the priest has been inclined
to indulge in the practice of physic, and it was at their instigation
that those nuns known as Sisters of Charity practiced medicine to a
certain extent in the Middle Ages. In the twelfth century we see the
nuns of the Convent of Paraclet, in Champagne, following the advice of
Abelard, essaying the surgical treatment of the sick. It is true the
first abbess of this nunnery was Heloise, in whose history conservative
surgery is not even mentioned. The nuns who dressed wounds were called
_medeciennes_ or _miresses_. Gaulthier de Conisi has left a history of
their good works:

    “And the world wondered when it did learn
      That woman had found a new mission;
    When the doctors of Montpellier and Salern(o)
      Saw each nun to be a physician.
    A fever they knew, a pulse they could feel,
    And best of it all is, _they managed to heal_.”

This tendency of women to care for the sick now became general. “In
our ancient poets and romancers,” says Roquefort, “we often notice
how young girls[5] were employed to cure certain wounds, because they
were more tender-hearted and gentle-handed; as, for example, Gerard
de Nevers, having been wounded, was carried into a chapel, where “a
beautiful maiden took him in hand to effect a cure, and he thought so
much of her that in brief space of time he commenced to mend; and was
so much better that he could eat and drink; and he had such confidence
in the skill of the maiden that, before a month passed, he was most
perfectly cured.”

As early as the sixth century, we note in the recital, _Des Temps
Merovingiens_, by Augustin Thierry, that Queen Radegond, wife of
Clotaire I., transformed her royal mansion into a hospital for indigent
women. “One of the Queen’s pastimes was to go thither not simply to
visit, but to perform all the most repulsive duties of nurse.”

In Feudal times it was the custom to educate the girls belonging to
the nobility in practical medicine; also in surgery, especially that
variety of surgery applied to wounds. This was immensely useful,
inasmuch as their fathers, brothers, husbands or lovers were gallant
“Knights,” who ofttimes returned from combat or tourney mutilated or
crippled. It was the delicate hand of titled ladies that rendered
similar service to strange foreign knights who might be brought wounded
to the castle gates. This is why the knights of old rendered such
devout homage to the gentler sex—knowing their kindness and love in
time of distress, when bleeding wounds were to be staunched and fever
allayed. In a Troubadour song, _Ancassin et Nicolette_, we find this

    “Nicolette, in great alarm,
    Asked about his pain;
    Found out of joint his arm,
    Put it in again;
    Dressed with herbs the aching bone—
    Plants to her had virtues known.”

Although the church was hostile to the philosophy of Aristotle, whose
works were publicly burned in 1209 A.D. by order of the Council,
Pierre de Vernon published, in the same thirteenth century, a short
poem by the title _Les Enseignements d’Aristote_, the object of which
was to vulgarize the scientific portion of the great Greek author’s
Encyclopedia. This treatise commenced as follows:

    “Primes saciez ke icest tretiez
    Est le secre de secrez numez,
    Ke Aristotle le Philosophe y doine,
    La fiz Nichomache de Macedoine
    A sun deciple Alisandre en bone fei,
    Le grant, le fiz, a Philippe le Rei,
      Le fist en sa graunt vielesce.”

Which, translated from old French, reads: “From whence learn that this
treatise is the secret of secrets, that Aristotle the philosopher, son
of Nichomachus, gave to his pupil, Alexander the Great, son of King
Philip, and which was composed in his old age.”

In recalling the fact that Aristotle was the son of Nichomachus, Pierre
de Vernon probably desired to call the attention of his readers more to
the knowledge of medicine that the author derived from his father, the
celebrated physician, than to the brilliant pupil of Plato.

Among the interesting passages in this poem we distinguish some that
advise abstinence to persons whose maladies are engendered by excesses
at table:

    “One man cannot live without wine,
    While another without it should dine;
      For the latter, ’tis clear,
      All grape juice and beer
    For his own stomach’s sake should decline.”

The author claims drinking at meals induces gastralgia from acidity of
the stomach:

    “The signs of bad stomach thus trace:
    Poor digestion, a red bloated face,
      With out-popping eyes,
      Palpitation, and sighs.
    With oppression, as though one did lace.”

He mentions eructations and sour belching as indicating frigidity of
the stomach, and advises the drinking of very hot water before meals.
Aside from this, he gives good counsel relative to all the advantages
of a sober and peaceful life:

    “If passion within you wax hot,
    Pray don’t eat and drink like a sot.
      Give wine no license;
      From rich food abstinence;
    And luxurious peace is your lot.”

The author then advises that the mouth and gums be well taken care of,
that the teeth be neatly cleaned after each meal, and the entire buccal
cavity be rinsed out with an infusion of bitter-sweet plants or leaves.

    “Puis apres si froterez
    Vos dents et gencives assez,
    Od les escorces tut en tur
    D’ arbre chaud, sec. amer de savur
    Kar iceo les dents ennientit,” etc.

Notwithstanding their want of scientific form, these precepts still
strongly contrast with the superstitious practices employed by the
monks in the treatment of disease. When holy relics failed the
priesthood had resource to supernatural power; they believed in the
faith cure; the touch of a Royal hand could heal disease. They took all
their scrofulous and goitre patients to Phillip I. and to Saint Louis.
These sovereigns had not always an excessive faith in the miraculous
gifts they were desired to bestow, but reasons of State policy forced
them to accept this monkish deceit, which was regularly practiced by
the clergy every Pentecost Day.

The _mise en scene_ was easily arranged: the King of France, after holy
communion at Saint Francis Convent, left the building surrounded by
men at arms and Benedictine friars; then he touched the spots on his
people, saying to each of his afflicted subjects: “_Rex tangit te, Deus
sanat te, in nomine Patris et filii et Spiritus sancti._”[6]

Block pretends that the King of England also enjoyed the power of
curing epilepsy, and remarks _apropos_ to this fact that the invention
is not new, since Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, possessed the power of
curing individuals attacked by enlarged spleen by simply pressing his
right foot on that viscera.

But this is no longer a superstition to-day, since the age of miracles
is past and the divinity of kings a belief almost without a disciple.
However, Gilbert and Daniel Turner, physicians of the thirteenth
century, give it credence in their writings, but they are fully
entitled to express their independent opinion.

The priests of the Middle Ages could not employ themselves as
obstetricians, neither could they treat uterine diseases. The
_ventrieres_ were the only midwives of the period; these women were
allowed to testify as experts in the courts of justice, but the burden
of proof rested on the testimony of at least three _sage femmes_ when a
newly-married woman was accused of pregnancy by a husband, as witness
the following:

“Should a man declare his wife just wedded be pregnant and she deny the
charge, it is well to conduct the accused woman to the house of some
prudent female friend, and then that three _ventrieres_ be summoned who
may regard the suspect. If they declare her to be in a family way, the
provost shall call the midwives as witnesses as before stated; but if
the _sage femmes_ declare the accused is not pregnant, then shall the
wife have cause against her husband; but better is it when the husband,
seeing the wrong wrought, shall humble himself and beg pardon.”

Midwives were sworn, according to statutes and ordinances, which
contained formulæ reports to be presented to the judges, to visit
girls who complained of having been raped; fourteen signs of such
deflowerment were admitted in testimony. Laurent Joubert has
transcribed three of such reports, of which we will reproduce only one
that was addressed to the Governor of Paris on October 23d, 1672:

“We, Marie Miran, Christophlette Reine, and Jeannie Porte, licensed
midwives of Paris, certify to whom it may concern, that on the 22d day
of October in the present year, by order of the Provost of Paris, of
date 15th of aforesaid month, we visited a house in Rue Pompierre and
there examined a girl aged thirty years, named Olive Tisserand, who had
made complaint against one Jaques Mudont Bourgeois, whom she insisted
deflowered her by violence. We examined the plaintiff by sight and the
finger, and found as follows:

“Her breasts relaxed from below the neck downwards; _mammaæ marcidæ
et flaccidæ_; her vulva chafed; _os pubis collisum_; the hair on the
os pubis curled; _pubes in orbem finuata_; the perineum wrinkled;
_perinæum corrugatum_; the nature of the woman lost; _vulva dissoluta
et mercessans_; the lips of private pendant; _labia pendenta_; the
lesser lips slightly peeled; _labiorum oræ pilis defectæ_; the nymphæ
depressed; _nymphæ depressæ_; the caroncles softened; _carunculæ
dissolutæ_; the membrane connecting the caroncles retracted; _membrana
connecteus inversa_; the clitoris was excoriated; _clitoris excoriata_;
the uterine neck turned; _collum uteri_; the vagina distended; _finus
pudoris_; in fact, the lady’s hymen is missing; _hymen deductum_;
finally, the internal orifice of the womb is open; _os internum
matricis_. Having viewed this sad state of affairs, sign by sign, we
have found traces _omnibus figillatum perspectis et perforutatis_,
etc., and the above-named midwives certify to the before-mentioned
Provost that the aforesaid statement under oath is true.”

Physicians were not obliged by the magistrates to determine the
nature of rapes on women; all gynecological questions were remanded
to midwives. In truth, among all the physicians of antiquity only
Hippocrates discussed uterine complaints and Ætius studied obstetrics.
It was only in the sixteenth century that midwifery took its place
among the medical sciences, thanks to Rhodion, Ambroise Parè,
Reif, Rousset, and Guillemeau. Shortly before this time, that is
to say, in the fifteenth century, Jacques de Foril published his
“Commentaires” on generation, his ideas being derived from Avicenna;
his notions, however, were absurd, being wholly based on astrological
considerations. He pretended that an infant is not viable in the eighth
month, because in the first month the pregnant woman is protected by
Jupiter, from whom comes life; and in the seventh month by the moon,
which favorizes life by its humidity and light; while in the eighth
month or reign of Saturn, who eats children, the influence is hostile.
But on the ninth month the benevolent influence of Jupiter is again
experienced, and for this reason the infant is more apt to be alive at
this period of gestation.

To the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages we must attribute the
prejudice that, the human body being in direct connection with the
universe, especially the planets, it was impossible for physical
change to occur without the influence of the constellations. Thus
astrology came to be considered as an essential part of medicine. This
belief in the influence of the stars came from the Orient, and was
carried through Europe after the crusades.

As to the treatise on “Diseases of Women,” attributed to Trotula, a
midwife of the school of Salerno, it is only a formulary of receipts
for the use of women—baths in the sea-sands under a hot sun to thin
ladies suffering from overfat; signs by which a good wet-nurse may be
recognized: a method of kneading the head, the nose, and the limbs of
new-born children before placing them in swaddling clothes; the use of
virgin wine mixed with honey as a remedy for removing the wrinkles of
old age.

“The _Commentaires_ of Bernard de Provincial informs us,” says
Daremberg, “that certain practices, not only superstitious but
disgusting, were common among the doctrines of Salerno; one, for
instance, was to eat themselves, and also oblige their husbands to eat,
the excrement of an ass fried in a stove in order to prevent sterility;
likewise, to eat the stuffed heart of a diseased sow in order to forget
dead friends,” etc.

We can form some judgment, from such observations, as to the
_therapeutic_ wisdom of these doctrines of the school of Salerno. It
is true, however, that at this epoch but little medicine save that of
an unique and fantastic order was prescribed. Gilbert, the Englishman,
advised, with the greatest British _sang froid_, tying a pig to the bed
of a patient attacked by lethargy; he ordered lion’s flesh in case of
apoplexy, also scorpion’s oil and angle-worm eggs; to dissolve stone in
the bladder, he prescribed the blood of a young billy-goat nourished on
diuretic herbs.

Peter of Spain, who was archbishop, and afterwards Pope, under the
name of John XXI., was a man whom historians claim was more celebrated
as a physician than as Pope; it was this Peter who adapted the
curious medical formulary known by the title of _Circa Instans_, and,
had improved on the invention. Those who wore on their bodies the
words “Balthazar,” “Gaspar” and “Melchior” need never fear attacks
of epilepsy; in order to produce a flux in the belly, it was only
necessary to put a patient’s excrement in a human bone and throw it
into a stream of water.

Hugo de Lucgnes, in fractures of the bone, employed a powder composed
of ginger and cannella, which he used in connection with the “Lord’s
Prayer,” in the meantime also invoking the aid of the Trinity. He
treated hernia by cauterization, and leprosy by inunctions of mercurial

If therapeutics made only slight progress in the thirteenth century,
we cannot say as much for other branches of the medical and natural

Arnauld de Villeneuve, physician, chemist and astrologer, particularly
distinguished himself by discovering sulphuric, nitric and hydrochloric
acids, and also made the first essence of turpentine.

Lanfranc attracted large numbers of students to the College of Saint
Come, and exhibited his skill as an anatomist and surgeon. In one of
his publications he gives a very remarkable description of chancres and
other venereal symptoms.

At the Faculty of Montpellier, which was founded in 1220 A.D., we see
as the Dean Roger of Parma, and as professor Bernard de Gordon, who
left a very accurate account of leprosy and a number of observations on
chancres following impure connection; these observations are valuable,
inasmuch as they are corroborated by Lanfranc and his contemporary,
Guillaume de Saliceto, of Italy, _two centuries before the discovery of

Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus) and Roger Bacon also belonged to the
thirteenth century.

Albert de Ballstatt, issue of a noble family of Swabia, monk of the
order of St. Dominicus, after studying in the principal schools of
Italy and Germany, arrived at Paris in 1222 A.D., and soon had numerous
auditors, among whom may be mentioned Saint Augustin, Roger Bacon,
Villeneuve, and other distinguished men. His lectures attracted such
crowds of students from the University that he was obliged to speak
from a public place in the Latin Quarter, which, in commemoration of
his success, was called _Place Maitre Albert_, afterwards corrupted to
Place Maubert.

His writings were encyclopedic, their principal merit being
commentaries on the works of Aristotle, of whom but little was known
at that period; he studied also the Latin translations of the Arabian
school, and reviewed Avicenna and Averrhoes, adding to such works some
original observations.

Albert the Great, or Albertus Magnus, the name posterity has bestowed
on this genius, was also much occupied with alchemy, and passed for a
magician. He was considered a sorcerer by many, as he was said to evoke
the spirits of the departed, and produced wonderful phenomena.

Albert’s works on natural history, his botany and mineralogy are, in
reality, taken from the works of Aristotle, as well as his _parva
naturalis_, which is only a reproduction of the _Organon_ of the Greek
philosopher; nevertheless, Albert deserves credit for his good work in
relighting the torch of science in the Occident.

His disciple, Roger Bacon, was also a monk; he studied in Paris and
afterwards removed to Oxford, England, where he actively devoted
himself to natural science, especially physics. He left behind him
remarkable observations on the refraction of light; explanation of the
formation of rainbows, inventing the magnifying glass and telescope.
His investigations in alchemy led him to discover a combustible body
similar to phosphorus, while his work on “Old Age” (_De retardtandus
senectutis occidentibus_) entitled him to a high position among the
physicians of the thirteenth century. Although one of the founders
of experimental science, one of the initiators—if the expression
may be used—of scientific positivism, he also devoted much time to
astrology. Denounced as a magician and sorcerer by his own _confreres_
in religion, he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and was only
released a few years before his death, leaving many writings on almost
every branch of science.

It was more than a century after these two great men died that medical
science commenced its upward flight.

Anatomy, proscribed by the Catholic Church, had an instant’s toleration
in the middle of the thirteenth century, thanks to the protection of
Frederick II., King of the Two Sicilies. But an edict of Pope Boniface
VIII., published in 1300, forbid dissections once more, not only in
Italy, but in all countries under Papal rule. Nevertheless, in 1316,
Mondinus, called the restorer of anatomy, being professor at the
University of Bologna, had the courage to dissect the cadavers of two
patients in public; he then published an account of the same, which
Springer declares had “the advantage of having been made after nature,
and which is preferable to all works on anatomy published since Galen’s

Some years later the prejudice against human dissection disappeared
in France, and anatomy was allowed to be taught by the Faculties of
Paris and Montpellier. Henri de Hermondaville, Pierre de Cerlata, and
Nicholas Bertrucci were particularly distinguished anatomists during
the fourteenth century, and traced the scientific path followed by
Vesalius, Fallopius, Eustachius, Fabrica de Aguapendente, Sylvius,
Plater, Varola de Torre, Charles Etienne, Ingrassias, and Arantius in
the sixteenth century.

From this time dates the escape of medicine from ecclesiastical

In 1452, Cardinal d’Estouteville, charged by the Pope with the
reorganization of the University of Paris, obtained a revocation of the
order obliging celibacy, claiming it to be “impious and senseless” in
the case of doctors.

It was at this moment that the Faculty of Physicians renounced the
hospitality of the University and installed themselves in a house on
the _Rue de la Bucherie_, the same being graciously tendered them
by Jacques Desparts, physician to the King. This faculty now opened
a register of its acts, which later became the _Commentaries of the
Society_, and, already confident of a brilliant future and its own
strength, the college engraved on its escutcheon these words: “_Urbi
et Orbi Salus_,” and declared itself the guardian of antique morality;
_veteris disciplinæ retinentissima_. Soon the dean of the faculty
obtained from royalty the right to coin medals, the same being bestowed
on physicians who rendered valuable public services; these bore the
imprint of the college coat of arms, and Guy Patin went so far as to
issue his own coined effigy in 1632 A.D.

The royal authority still further aided the medical profession and
the faculty in gathering students: for instance, an order was issued
granting physicians titles of nobility and coats of arms in cases of
great merit; they were also exempted from taxes and other contributions
to the crown, for, says Louis XIV., who speaks, “We cannot withhold
such marks of honor to men of learning and others who by their
devotion to a noble profession and personal merit are entitled to a
rank of high distinction.” Besides, some of the greatest names in
France were inscribed on the registers of the faculty; let us cite, for
instance, Prader, Mersenne, Saint Yon, Montigny, Mauvillain, Sartes,
Revelois, Montrose, Farcy, Jurency, and others. Can it be astonishing
that the Faculty of Medicine, considering such high favors, was so
deeply attached to the royalty that gave liberty and reputation to the
great thinkers of the age?

The dean, who before the thirteenth century only had the title
_Magister Scolarum_, administered the affairs of the faculty without
control, and was recognized as the chief hierarch of the corporation;
but he was elected by all the professors, and often chosen outside the
professors of the Faculty. This high office was thus duly dignified,
and it was only justice.

Above the dean, however, was the first Physician to the King, who was
a high officer of the crown, having the same rights and privileges
as the nobility, securing on his appointment the title of Count with
hereditary transmission of same to his family; he was also a Councillor
of State and wore the costume and decorations of this order. When he
came to the faculty meetings he was received by the dean and bachelors,
for he was also grand master of hygiene and legal medicine in the
realm; he named all the salaried medical appointments, notably those of
experts in medical jurisprudence.

Under Charles VIII., Adam Fumee and Jean Michel, sitting in Parliament
as Councillors; Jacques Coictier, physician to Louis XI., was the
President of the Tax Commission; while Fernel, no less celebrated as
a mathematician than as a physician, was the intimate friend of Henri
II. at the same time that Ambroise Pare was surgeon to the latter King
and his two successors; F. Miron, too, afterwards became Embassador to
Henri III.

Later we see Vautier, physician to _Marie de Medecis_, one of the
malcontents sent to the Bastile for political reasons. Valot, Daquin
and Fagon, all physicians to Louis XIV., were politicians, but were
also great dispensers of Royal favor. Medical politicians figured
largely in the time of Louis XIV. Among the independents, we may
cite Guy Patin, the intimate friend and adviser of Lamoignan and
Gabriel Naude, who was one of the most erudite men of the age. Under
such conditions, no wonder that medicine entered into a new phase of
progress. The time of study was now fixed at six years; after this
there were examinations, from which, unfortunately, however, clinical
medicine was excluded; examinations corresponded with the grades of
Bachelor and doctor; finally—triumphant act of culmination—came the
thesis with the obligation of the solemn Hippocratic oath.

The degree of Bachelor had existed since the foundation of the
University of Paris. The Bacchalauri, or Bachalarrii,[7] were always
students for the doctoral title. After numerous other tests, they
signed the following obligation:

1. I swear to faithfully observe all secrets with honor, to follow the
code and statutes laid down by the Faculty, and to do all in my power
to assist them.

2. I swear to always obey and respect the Dean of the Faculty.

3. I swear to aid the Faculty in resisting any undertaking against
their honor or ordinances, especially against those so-called doctors
who practice illicitly; and also submit to any punishment inflicted for
a proscribed action.

4. I swear to assist in full robes, at all meetings, when ordered by
the Faculty.

5. I swear to assist at the exercises of the Academy of Medicine
and the school for the space of two years, and sustain any question
assigned me, in medicine or hygiene, by a thesis. Finally, I swear to
be a good citizen, loving peace and order, and observe a decent manner
in discussion on all questions laid down by the Faculty.

This oath was read in Latin by the Dean, and, as enumerated, each
candidate for a degree solemnly answered “I swear” after each article.

Ranged with physicians at this period, although on a lower plane,
came the surgeons and barbers; these had been created under the title
of _mires_ and _meges_, by medical monks, who could not, under the
canons, resort to surgical operations, as it is written _Ecclesia
abhorrhet a sanguine_.

Let us continue their history. When the College of Physicians was added
to the University of Paris, in the twelfth century, it was specified by
the other Faculties of the institution that surgeons formed no portion
of the medical Faculty, and were not entitled to any consideration.
These surgeons kept shops and wandered through the streets with
instrument cases on their backs, seeking clients, and were assisted
in their work by the barbers, who were even more illiterate than the
surgeons; but, thanks to the exertions of Jean Pitard, surgeon to Saint
Louis, these surgeons succeeded in forming a corporation in 1271. Their
meetings were held in the dead-house of the Cordeliers’ church, and
they were allowed the same privileges as the _magistri in physica_.
They were the surgeons wearing a long robe.

It was only at the end of the century that Lanfranc obtained from
Phillip the Beautiful an order to reorganize and bestow degrees for the
exercise of surgical art. The studies were extremely practical; they
required several years’ attendance at the Hotel Dieu or in the service
of some city surgeon, likewise a certain amount of literary education.
Like the doctors, these surgeons were permitted to wear a robe and hat.
They were a great success.

Unfortunately, the barbers of the fourteenth century obtained, in their
turn, an edict from Charles V., who recognized their corporation and
authorized the knights of the razor to practice bleeding, and also all
manner of minor surgery.

The Faculty of Medicine, jealous of the Surgeons’ College, encouraged
the barbers with all their influence. They founded for the face
scrapers a special course in anatomy on condition that the barber
would always acknowledge the physician as superior to the surgeon.
The barbers made this promise, but the time arrived when they thought
themselves stronger than the Faculty of Medicine; this was in 1593;
but this same year, an order passed by Parliament, at the instigation
of the doctors, deprived the barbers of all the power granted them by
Charles V.

The barbers thus had their punishment for defying the Faculty of

The College of Surgeons, relieved from the competition of the barber
surgeons, now claimed the right to become part of the Medical Faculty,
and an ordinance of Francois I. gave them this privilege. Letters
patent were issued that read:

“It is ordained that the before-mentioned, professors, bachelors,
licentiates or masters, be they married or single, shall enjoy all the
privileges, franchises, liberties, immunities and exemptions accorded
to the other medical graduates of the University.”

Notwithstanding this Royal edict and confirmation of privileges
accorded to surgeons by Henri II., Charles IX., and Henri III., the
Faculty of Medicine positively refused to open their doors to their
mortal enemies, the much despised barber-surgeons, as they were termed.

Even Louis XIV. gave up the idea of making the doctors associate
socially with the surgeons; the latter, then, continued to keep shops,
with a sign of three sacrament boxes supported by a golden lily,
and were only allowed the cadavers of malefactors for purposes of
dissection; these bodies were stolen from the Faculty of Medicine.
In the meantime, the regular barber-surgeons renewed their ancient
allegiance to the doctors, who had vainly attempted to substitute
students in their places.

To put an end to the struggle, the College of Surgeons took the
desperate but injurious resolve to admit all barbers to their
institution and recognize their rights to a surgical degree. A year
later, 1660, the Faculty of Medicine demanded that, inasmuch as the
College of Surgeons admitted ignorant barbers to their school, the
right of surgeons to wear a medical robe and hat and bestow degrees be
denied. The Faculty of medicine gained their suit.

As an indispensable adjunct to the doctor at this period, let us now
mention the apothecary and the bath-keeper.

The patron of the apothecaries was Saint Nicholas; they belonged to the
corporation of grocers, where they were represented by three members.
Their central bureau was at the Cloister Saint Opportune.

The inspection of drug stores and apothecary shops in Paris occurred
once a year, and was made by three members elected from the central
bureau and two doctors in medicine. A druggist in Paris served four
years as an apprentice and six years as an under-dispenser; then
the applicant was obliged to pass two examinations, and, finally,
five extra examinations, the latter in the presence of the master
apothecaries and two doctors. Notwithstanding their oath[8] to not
prescribe medicine for the sick and not to sell drugs without a
doctor’s written order, druggists then, as now, had frequent conflicts
with physicians, as the latter are ever jealous of non professional
interference and always asserting supremacy.

However, it is well to say that druggists never violated the rule
relative to strict inspection of all drugs before using such articles.
All medicines were passed at the central bureau before any apothecary
would purchase for dispensing purposes.

As to bath-keepers, they belonged in antique times, as now, more to the
order of empirics; their history dates far back to the period when the
Romans introduced their bathing system into Gaul—a system which was
perpetuated up to as late as the sixteenth century.

The baths constructed by the ancients and destroyed by the barbarians,
reappeared again in the Middle Ages, under the names of vapor baths and
furnace baths. These baths were shops, usually kept by barbers, where
one could be sheared, sweated or leeched by a tonsorial artist. All the
world then took baths—even the monks washed themselves sometimes; in
fact, almost every monastery had its bath-rooms, where the poor could
wash and be bled without pay.

In those days gentlemen bathed before receiving the order of chivalry.
When one gave a ball it was customary and gallant to offer all the
guests, especially the ladies, a free bath. When Louis XI. went out
to sup with his loyal subjects, the honest tradespeople of Paris, he
always found a hot bath at his disposal. Finally, it was considered a
severe penance to forbid a person from bathing, as was done in the case
of Henry IV., who was excommunicated.

Paris had many bath-houses. From early dawn until sunset the streets
were filled, with cryers for bath-houses, who invited all passers-by
to enter. In the time of Charles VI., bath-keepers introduced vapor
baths. Some of these latter were entirely given up to women; others
were reserved for the King and gentlemen of the court. The price of
vapor baths was fixed by Police ordinance at twenty centimes for a
vapor bath and forty centimes for those who washed afterwards. This
price was subject to revision only at the pleasure of the municipal

During times of epidemics vapor baths were discontinued. It was for
sanitary reasons, probably, that an order of the Mayor of Paris, named
Delamere, forbade all persons taking vapor baths until after Christmas
eve, “on penalty of a heavy fine.” This same proclamation was repeated
by act of Parliament on December 13th, 1553, “the penalty corporeal
punishment for offending bath-keepers.”

Parisian vapor baths had such wide-spread reputations and success that
an Italian doctor of the sixteenth century by the name of Brixanius,
who arrived in Paris, wrote the following verses:

    “Balnea si calidis queras sudantia thermis,
    In claris intrabis aqua, ubi corpus inungit,
    Callidus, et multo medicamine spargit aliptes’,
    Mox ubi membra satis geminis mundata lacertis
    Laverit et sparsos crines siccaverit, albo
    Marcida subridens componit corpora lecto.”

Already, in the time of Saint Louis, the number of bath-keepers was so
great that they had a trades union; they were almost all barbers, too;
they washed the body, cut hair, trimmed corns and nails, shaved and

Bath houses more than multiplied from the twelfth century, imitations
of Oriental customs, due to the crusaders. Baths were run not only by
men, but by old harridans and fast girls. No respectable woman ever
entered a public bath-house; Christine de Pisan bears witness to that
fact in the following lines: “As to public baths and vapor baths, they
should be avoided by honest women except for good cause; they are
expensive and no good comes out of them, for many obvious reasons; no
woman, if she be wise, would trust her honor therein, if she desire to
keep it.”

The establishments known as vapor baths, as early as the time of Saint
Louis, had already degenerated into houses of prostitution. The police,
in defense of public morality, were finally obliged to forbid fast
women and diseased men from frequenting such places.

In Italy, vapor baths were recognized officially and tolerated as
places of public debauchery; this was also the case in Avignon. The
Synodal statutes of the Church of Avignon, in the year 1441, bear an
ordinance drawn by the civil magistrates and applicable to married men
and also to priests and clergy, forbidding access to the vapor baths
on the Troucat Bridge, which were set apart as a place of tolerated
debauchery by the municipal authorities. This ordinance contained a
provision that was very uncommon in the Middle Ages, _i.e._, a fine of
ten marks for a violation of the law during day time and twenty marks
fine for a violation occurring under cover of night.

In 1448 the city council of Avignon again tried its hand at regulating
the vapor baths at the bridge; but the golden days of debauched women
had long before passed away, and the previous century had witnessed the
acme of the courtesans’ fortunes. The sojourn of the Popes at Avignon
had gathered together from all over the Globe a motley collection of
pilgrims and begotten a frightful condition of libertinage; we have
the authority of Petrarch in saying that it even surpassed that of the
Eternal City, and Bishop Guillaume Durand presented the Council of
Vienna with a graphic picture of this social evil.

According to the proclamation of Etienne Boileau, Mayor of Paris in the
reign of Louis IX., barber bath keepers were forbidden to employ women
of bad reputation in their shops in order to carry on under cover,
as in the massage shops of the present day, an infamous commerce, on
penalty of losing their outfit—seats, basins, razors, etc.,—which were
to be sold at public auction for the profit of the public treasury and
the Crown. But we know full well that the Royal Ordinance of 1254,
which had for its object the reformation of public debauchery, was
only applied for the space of two years, and that the new law of 1256
re-established and legalized public prostitution which offered less
objectionable features than clandestine prostitution.

The use of public baths and hydrotherapy lasted until the sixteenth
century. At this epoch, and without any known reason, the public
suddenly discontinued all balneary practices, and this was noticeable
among the aristocratic class as among the common people. A contrary
evil was developed. “Honest women,” says Vernille, “took a pride in
claiming that they never permitted themselves certain ablutions.”
Nevertheless, Marie de Romien, (_Instruction pour les Jeunes Dames_)
in her classical work for the instruction of young women, remarks:
“They should keep clean, if it be only for the satisfaction of their
husbands; it is not necessary to do as some women of my acquaintance,
who have no care to wash until they be foul under their linen. But to
be a beautiful _damoyselle_ one may wash reasonably often in water
which has been previously boiled and scented with fragrants, for
nothing is more certain than that beauty flourishes best in that young
woman who not only looks but smells clean.”

In an opuscle published in 1530, by one called De Drusæ, we observe
that “notwithstanding the natural laws of propriety, women use scents
more than clean water; and they thus only increase the bad smells
they endeavor to disguise. Some use greasy perfumed ointments, others
sponges saturated in fragrants”

    “Entre leur cuisses et dessoubz les aisselles,
    Pour ne sentir l’espaulle de mouton.”

This horror of water did not last long, however, and at the
commencement of the seventeenth century the false modesty of women
ended with the creation of river baths, such as exist to-day along the
banks of the Seine.

Was this restoration of cleanly habits due to medical advice? This
question cannot be answered, but it may not be out of place to cite
that remarkable passage from the “Essays of Montaigne” on the hygiene
of bathing, which he recommends in certain maladies:

“It is good to bathe in warm water, it softens and relaxes in ports
where it stagnates over sands and stones. Such application of external
heat, however, makes the kidneys leathery and hard and petrifies the
matter within. To those who bathe: it is best to eat little at night
to the end that the waters drank the next morning operate more easily,
meeting with an empty stomach. On the other hand, it is best to eat a
little dinner, in order not to trouble the action of the water, which
is not in perfect accord; nor should the stomach be filled too suddenly
after its other labor; leave the work of digestion to the night, which
is better than the day, when the body and mind are in perpetual
movement and activity.

“I have noted, on the occasion of my voyages, all the famous baths of
Christendom, and for some years past have made use of waters, for as a
general rule I consider bathing healthy and deem it no risk to one’s
physical condition. The custom of ablution, so generally observed at
times past in all nations, is now only practiced in a few as a daily
habit. I cannot imagine why civilized people ever allow their bodies to
become encrusted with dirt and their pores filled with filth.”[9]

If Montaigne made great use of mineral waters, he had in revenge
a formidable dread of physicians and their medicines, a sentiment
he inherited from his father, “who died,” says he, “at the age of
seventy-four years,” and his “grandfather and great-grandfather died at
eighty years without tasting a drop of physic.”

Montaigne has justly criticized medicine in several essays on the
healing art. He knew well the _intividia medicorum_, and it was for
this reason that he remarked that a physician should always treat a
case without a consultant. “There never was a doctor,” says Montaigne,
“who, on accepting the services of a consultant, did not discontinue or
readjust something.” Is not the same criticism deserved at the present
day? How absurd are our medical consultations. The examples Montaigne
gives of disagreements of doctors in consultation as to doctrines are
equally applicable to modern times. The differences of Herophilus,
Erasistratus, and the Æsclepiadæ as to the original causation of
disease were no greater than those of the schools of Broussais and
Pasteur, which have both acquired a universal celebrity in less than
half a century.

Montaigne insisted that medicine owed its existence only to mankind’s
fear of death and pain, an impatience at poor health and a furious and
indiscreet thirst for a speedy cure, but the author of the “Essays”
adds in concluding: “I honor physicians, not following the feeling of
necessity, but for the love of themselves, having seen many honest
doctors who were honorable and well worthy of being loved.”

The reputation for disagreement among doctors so much insisted on by
Montaigne has served as a well-worn text for many other critics.

In _Les Serres_ of Guillaume Bouchet, a contemporary of the author, we
find the same shaft of sarcasm directed at physicians. Where will you
find men in any other profession save that of medicine who envy and
hate each other so heartily? What other profession on earth is given
over to such bitter disagreements? How can common people be expected
to honor and respect experts and savants so-called when the professors
call each other ignoramusses and asses? Call these doctors into a case
and one after the other they will disagree as to the diagnosis as well
as to the method of cure. As Pellisson wrote:

    “When an enemy you wish to kill
      Don’t call assasins full of vice,
    But call two doctors of great skill
      To give contrary advice.”

Or in the verses of the original:

    “D’un ennemi voulez vous defaire?
      Ne cherchez pas d’assasins
    Donnez lui deux medecins,
      Et qui’ils soient d’avis contrarie.”

This professional jealousy is always more apparent than real. Aside
from the rivalry for public patronage physicians are a very social
class of men, as witness their many festive meetings. We banquet in
honor of St. Luke the physician, and St. Come, after each thesis,
at anniversaries, at the election of the Dean, and on many other
occasions. It is these co-fraternal meetings at which are reinagurated
the old feelings of good-fellowship; our little quarrels only serve
to discipline the medical body and to increase the grandeur of the
Faculty. It is the constant rubbing of surfaces that makes the true
professional metal glitter.

When we hear new doctors, young graduates, swear the Hippocratic oath,
we do not forget that the principal articles of the statute prescribe
the cultivation of friendships, respect for the older members of the
profession, benevolence to the young beginners, and the preservation
of professional decency and kindness. It may be insisted that banquets
are not to be considered as medical assemblages, for there they laugh
long and loud, and drink many a bumper of rich Burgundy; making joyous
discourse; holding to the famous compliment of Moliere:

    Salus, honor et argentum
    Atque bonum appetitum.

We know to-day many of the truthful precepts of the School of Salerno
and their bearing on the medical records of the middle ages. Then as
now the doctor had the ever increasing ingratitude of the patient (_ad
proccarendam oegrorum ingratitudinem_).

    “The disciple of Hippocrates meeteth often treatment rude,
    The payment of his trouble is base ingratitude.
    When the patient is in grievous pain the time is opportune
    For a keen, sharp-witted doctor to make a good fortune.
    Let him profit by the sufferer’s aches and gather in the money,
    For the ant gets winter provender and the summer bee its honey.”

Our ancient friends had no pity for charlatans, however. They
rightfully abused all medical impostors, as we read in the precepts of
Salerno’s school:

    “Il n’est par d’ignorant, de chartatan stupide,
    D’histron imposteur, ou de Juif fourbe avide,
    De sorciere crasseuse ou de barbier bavard,
    De faussiare inpudent, ou de moine cafard,
    De marchand de savon, ou de avengle oculiste,
    De baigneur imbecile, ou d’absurde alchimiste,
    Pas d’heretique impur qui ne se targue, enfin,
    Du beau titre, du nom sacre de medecin.”

The investigation of medical science was far from being an honor to
the middle ages. The best of the profession was hidden in the doctoral
sanctuary, enveloped in those mysteries which are never penetrated by
the profane and only known to the initiated.

The recommendations as to the secrets of our art are addressed to all
young doctors in that famous epilogue commencing:

    “Gardez surtout, gardez qui’un profane vulgaire
    De votre art respecte ne perce le mystere;
    Son eclat devoile perdrait sa dignite
    D’un mystere connu decroit la majeste,”

Let us invoke God, the Supreme physician, let us demand the
professional banishment of every doctor who reveals a professional

    “Exsul sit medicus physicius secreta revelans.”—Amen!


                              THE PLAGUE

Several great epidemics of the Plague had already devastated the world;
the plague of Athens in the fifth century, B. C.; the plague of the
second century, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius; the plague of the
third century, in the reign of Gallus; then came that most terrible
epidemic of the sixth century, known by the name of the inguinal
pestilence, which, after ravaging Constantinople spread into Liguria,
then into France and Spain. It was in 542, according to Procopius,
that an epidemic struck the world and consumed almost all the human

“It attacked the entire earth,” says our author, “striking every race
of people, sparing neither age nor sex; differences in habitation,
diet, temperament or occupation of any nature did not stop its ravages;
it prevailed in summer and in winter, in fact, at every season of the

“It commenced at the town of Pelusa in Egypt, from whence it spread by
two routes, one through Alexandria and the rest of Egypt, the other
through Palestine. After this it covered the whole world, progressing
always by regular intervals of time and force. In the springtime of 543
it broke out in Constantinople and announced itself in the following

“Many victims believed they saw the spirits of the departed
rehabilitated in human form. It appeared as though these spirits
appeared before the subject about to be attacked and struck him on
certain portions of the body. These apparitions heralded the onset
of the malady. It is but fair to say that the commencement of the
disease was not the same in all cases. Some victims did not see the
apparitions, but only dreamed of them, but all believed they heard
a ghostly voice announcing their inscription on the list of those
who were going to die. Some claim that the greater number of victims
were not haunted either sleeping or waking by these ghosts and the
mysterious voice that made sinister predictions.

“The fever at the onset of the attack came on suddenly,—some while
sleeping, some while waking, some while at work. Their bodies
exhibited no change of color, and the temperature was not very high.
Some indications of fever were perceptible, but no signs of acute
inflammation. In the morning and at night the fever was slight, and
indicated nothing severe either to the patient or to the physician who
counted the pulse. Most of those who presented such symptoms showed no
indications of approaching dissolution; but the first day among some,
the second day in others, and after several days in many cases, a bubo
was observed on the lower portion of the abdomen, in the groin, or
in the folds of the axilla, and sometimes back of the ears or on the

“The principal symptoms of the disease on its invasion were as I have
pointed out; for the remainder, nothing can be precisely indicated of
the variations of the type of the disease following temperament; these
other symptoms were only such as were imprinted by the Supreme Being at
his divine will.

“Some patients were plunged into a condition of profound drowsiness;
others were victims to furious delirium. Those who were drowsy remained
in a passive state, seeming to have lost all memory of the things
of ordinary life. If they had any one to nurse them they took food
when offered from time to time, and if they had no care soon died of
inanition. The delirious patients, deprived of sleep, were eternally
pursued by their hallucinations; they imagined themselves haunted by
men ready to slay them, and they sought flight from such fancied foes,
uttering dreadful screams. Persons who were attacked while nursing the
sick were in the most pitiable condition—not that they were more liable
to contract the disease by contact, however, for nurses and doctors
did not get the disease from actual contact with the sufferers, for
some who washed and laid out the dead never contracted the malady, but
enjoyed perfect health throughout the epidemic; some, however, died
suddenly without apparent cause. Many of the nurses were overworked
keeping patients from rolling out of bed and preventing the delirious
from jumping from high windows. Some patients endeavored to throw
themselves in running water, not to quench their thirst, but because
they had lost all reason. It was necessary to struggle with many of
the sick in order to make them swallow any nourishment, which they
would not accept without more or less resistance. The buboes enfeebled
certain patients who were neither drowsy nor delirious, but who finally
succumbed to their atrocious sufferings.

“As nothing was known of this strange disease, certain physicians
thought its origin was due to some source of evil hidden in the buboes,
and they accordingly opened these glandular bodies. The dissection
of the bubo showed sub-adjacent carbuncles, whose rapid malignity
brought on sudden death or an illness of but few days’ duration. In
some instances the entire body was covered by black spots the size of
a bean. Such unfortunates rarely lived a day, and generally expired
in an hour. Many cases died suddenly, vomiting blood. One thing I can
solemnly affirm, that is, that the wisest physicians gave up all hope
in the case of many patients who afterwards recovered; on the contrary,
many persons perished at the very time their health was almost
re-established. For all these causes, the malady passed the confines
of human reasoning, and the outcome always deceived the most natural

“As to treatment, the effects were variable, following the condition
of the victim. I may state that, as a fact, no efficacious remedies
were discovered that could either prevent the onset of the disease
or shorten its duration. The victims could not tell why they were
attacked, nor how they were cured.

“Pregnant women attacked inevitably aborted at death, some succumbing
while miscarrying; some going on to the end of gestation, dying in
labor along with their infants. Only three cases are known where women
recovered of plague after aborting; while only one instance is on
record where a newly-born child survived its mother in this epidemic.
Those in whom the buboes increased most rapidly in size, maturated
and suppurated, most often recovered, for the reason, no doubt, that
the malignant properties of the bubonic carbuncle were weakened or

“Experience proved that such symptoms were an almost sure presage of
a return to health. Those, on the contrary, in whom the tumor did not
change its aspect from the time of its eruption, were attacked with all
the symptoms I have before described. In some cases the skin dried and
seemed thus to prevent the tumor, although it might be well developed,
from suppurating. Some were cured at the price of a loss of power in
the tongue, which reduced the victims to stammer and articulate words
in a confused and unintelligible manner for the rest of their days.

“The epidemic at Constantinople lasted four months, three months of
which time it raged with great violence. As the epidemic progressed the
mortality-rate increased from day to day, until it reached the point
of 5,000 deaths per day, and on several occasions ran up to as high as
10,000 deaths in the twenty four hours.”

Let us pass over this very important description that Procopius gives
of the moral effect of this epidemic on the people, of the scenes
of wild and heart-rending terror, of curious examples of egotism
and sublime devotion, of instances of blind superstition developed
in a great city under the influence of fear and the dread of a very
problematical contagion.

Evagre, the scholastic, another Greek historian of the sixth century,
recounts in his works the story of the plague at Constantinople. He
states that he frequently observed that persons recovering from a
first and second attack subsequently died on a third attack; also that
persons flying from an infected locality were often taken sick after
many days of an incubating period, falling ill in their places of
refuge in the midst of populations free, up to that time, from the

In following the progress of this epidemic from the Orient to the
Occident, it was noticed that it always commenced at the sea-ports
and then traveled inland. The disease was carried much more easily by
ships than it could be at the present time, inasmuch as there were
no quarantines and no pest-houses for isolating patients. It entered
France by the Mediterranean Sea. It was in 549 that the plague struck
Gaul. “During this time,” says Gregory of Tours, “the malady known as
the _inguinal disease_ ravaged many sections and the province of Arles
was cruelly depopulated.”[11]

This illustrious historian wrote in another passage: “We learned this
year that the town of Narbonne was devastated by the _groin disease_,
of so deadly a type that when one was attacked he generally succumbed.
Felix, the Bishop of Nantes, was stricken down and appeared to be
desperately ill. The fever having ceased, the humor broke out on his
limbs, which were covered with pustules. It was after the application
of a plaster covered with cantharides that his limbs rotted off, and he
ceased to live in the seventieth year of his age.

“Before the plague reached Auvergne it had involved most all the rest
of the country. Here the epidemic attacked the people in 567, and so
great was the mortality that it is utterly impossible to give even the
approximate number of deaths. Populations perished _en masse_. On a
single Sunday morning three hundred bodies were counted in St. Peter’s
chapel at Clermont awaiting funeral service. Death came suddenly; it
struck the axilla or groin, forming a sore like a serpent that bit so
cruelly that men rendered up their souls to God on the second or third
day of the attack, many being so violent as to lose their senses. At
this time Lyons, Bourges, Chalons, and Dijon were almost depopulated by
the pestilence.”

In 590 the towns of Avignon and Viviers were cruelly ravaged by the
_inguinal disease_.

The plague reached Marseilles, however, in 587, being carried there by
a merchant vessel from Spain which entered the port as a center of an
infection. Several persons who bought goods from this trading vessel,
all of whom lived in one house nevertheless, were carried off by the
plague to the number of eight. The spark of the epidemic did not burn
very rapidly at first, but after a certain time the baleful fire of
the pest, after smouldering slowly, burst out in a blaze that almost
consumed Marseilles.

Bishop Theodorus isolated himself in a wing of the cloister Saint
Victor, with a small number of persons who remained with him during
the plague, and in the midst of their general desolation continued to
implore Almighty God for mercy, with fasting and prayer until the end
of the epidemic. After two months of calm the population of the city
commenced to drift back, but the plague reappeared anew and most of
those who returned died. The plague has devastated Marseilles many
times since the epoch just mentioned.

Anglada[12] who, like the writer, derives most of his citations from
Gregory of Tours, thinks that the plague that devastated Strasbourg in
591 was only the same _inguinal disease_ that ravaged Christendom. He
cites, in support of his assertion, that passage from the historian
poet Kleinlande translated by Dr. Boersch: “In 591 there was a great
mortality throughout our country, so that men fell down dying in the
streets, expiring suddenly in their houses, or even at business. When a
person sneezed his soul was apt to fly the body; hence the expression
on sneezing, ‘God bless you!’ And when a person yawned they made the
sign of the cross before their mouths.”

Such are the documents we possess on the great epidemic of inguinal
plague of the fourth century, documents furnished by historians, to
whom medical history is indebted, and not from medical authors, who
left no marks at that period.

                           THE BLACK PLAGUE.

The Black Plague of the fourteenth century was more destructive even
than the bubonic pest of the sixth century, and all other epidemics
observed up to the present day. In the space of four years more than
twenty five millions of human beings perished—one-half the population
of the world. Like all other pestilences, it came from the Orient—from
India, and perhaps from China. Europe was invaded from east to west,
from south to north. After Constantinople, all the islands and
shores of the Mediterranean were attacked, and successively became
so many foci of disease from which the pestilence radiated inland.
Constantinople lost two-thirds of its population. Cyprus and Cairo
counted 15,000 deaths. Florence paid an awful tribute to the disease,
so great being the mortality that the epidemic has often been called
_Peste de Florence_; “100,000 persons perished,” says Boccaccio. Venice
lost 20,000 victims, Naples 60,000, Sicily 53,000, and Genoa 40,000,
while in Rome the dead were innumerable.

In Spain, Germany, England, Poland, and Russia the malady was as fatal
as in Italy. At London they buried 100,000 persons in the cemeteries.
It was the same in France. Avignon lost 150,000 citizens in seven
months, among whom was the beautiful Laura de Noves, immortalized by
Petrarch, who expired from the plague in 1348, aged forty-one years.
At Marseilles 56,000 people died in one month; at Montpellier three
quarters of the population, including all the physicians, went down in
the epidemic. Narbonne had 30,000 deaths and Strasbourg 16,000 in the
first year of the outbreak. Paris was not spared; the _Chronique de
Saint Denis_ informs us that “in the year of Grace 1348, commenced the
aforesaid mortality in the Realms of France, the same lasting about a
year and a half, increasing more and more until Paris lost each day 800
inhabitants; so that the number who died there amounted to more than
500,000 people, while in the town of Saint Denis the number reached

Among the victims were Jeanne de Bourgogne, wife of Philip VI.; Jeanne
II., Queen of Navarre, grandchild of Philip the Beautiful. In Spain,
died Alphonse XI. of Castille. “Happily,” says the _Chronicle_, “during
the years following the plague the fecundity of women was prodigious—as
though nature desired to repair the ravages wrought by death.” The
symptoms and history of this plague have been described by several
ocular witnesses, among others Guy de Chauliac, the celebrated surgeon
and professor at Montpellier, who has left the following recital in
quaint old French:

“The disease was such that one never before saw a like mortality. It
appeared in Avignon in the year of our Saviour 1348, in the sixth year
of the Pontificate of Clement VI., in whose service I entered, thanks
to his Grace.

“Not to displease you, I shall briefly narrate for your edification the
advent of the disease.

“It commenced—the aforesaid mortality—in January and lasted for the
space of seven months.

“The disease was of two kinds. The first type lasted two months, with
a continued fever and spitting of blood. This variety killed in three
days, however.

“The second type of the disease, prevailing during the epidemic time,
also had a continued fever, with apostumes and carbuncles at the
external parts, principally on the axilla and in the groin; all such
attacked usually died in five days.

“The malady was so contagious, especially that form in which
blood-spitting was noticed, that one not only caught it from sojourning
with the sick, but also, it sometimes seemed, from looking at the
disease, so that men died without their servants and were buried
without priests.

“The father visited not his son, nor the son his father. Charity was
dead and hope disappeared.

“I call the epidemic great, inasmuch as it conquered all the earth.

“For the pestilence commenced at the Orient, and cast its fangs against
all the world, passing through Paris towards the West.

“It was so destructive that it left only a quarter of the population of
mankind behind.

“It was a shame and disgrace to medicine, as many doctors dared not
visit the sick through fear of becoming infected; and those who visited
the sick made few cures and fewer fees, for the sick all died save a
few. Not many having buboes escaped death.

“For preservation, there was no better remedy than to fly from the
infection, to purge one’s self with aloe pills, to diminish the blood
by phlebotomy, to purify the air with fire, to comfort the heart
with cordials and apples and other things of good odor; to console
the humors with Armenian bole and resist dry rot by the use of acid
things. For the cure of the plague we used bleedings and evacuations,
electuaries, syrups and cordials, and the external apostumes or
swellings were poulticed with boiled figs and onions mixed with oil
and butter; the buboes were afterwards opened and treated by the usual
cures for ulcers.

“Carbuncles were leeched, scarified and cauterized.

“I, to avoid infamy, dared not absent myself from the care of the sick,
but lived in continual fear, preserving myself as long as possible by
the before-mentioned remedies.

“Nevertheless, towards the end of the epidemic, I fell into a fever,
which continued with an aposthume in the groin, and was ill for nigh
on six weeks, being in such danger that all my companions believed I
should die; nevertheless, the bubo being poulticed and treated as I
have above indicated, I recovered, thanks be to the will of God.”

According to the records of that time, many persons died the first
day of their illness. These bad cases were announced by a violent
fever, with cephalgia, vertigo, drowsiness, incoherency in ideas,
and loss of memory; the tongue and palate were black and browned,
exhaling an almost insupportable fetidity. Others were attacked by
violent inflammation of the lungs, with hemorrhage; also gangrene,
which manifested itself in black spots all over the body; if, to the
contrary, the body was covered by abscesses, the patients seemed to
have some chance for recovery.

Medicines were powerless, all remedies seeming to be useless. The
disease attacked rich and poor indiscriminately; it overpowered the
robust and debilitated; the young and the old were its victims. On the
first symptom the patients fell into a profound melancholy and seemed
to abandon all hope of recovery. This moral prostration aggravated
their physical condition, and mental depression hastened the time of
death. The fear of contagion was so great that but few persons attended
the sick.

The clergy, encouraged by the Pope, visited the bedsides of the
dying who bequeathed all their wealth to the Church. The plague was
considered on all sides as a punishment inflicted by God, and it was
this idea that induced armies of penitents to assemble on the public
streets to do penance for their sins. Men and women went half naked
along the highways flagellating each other with whips, and, growing
desperate with the fall of night, they committed scandalous crimes. In
certain places the Jews were accused of being the authors of the plague
by poisoning the wells; hence the Hebrews were persecuted, sometimes
burned alive by the fanatical sects known as Flagellants, Begardes
and Turlupins, who were encouraged in their acts of violence by the
priests, notwithstanding the intervention of Clement VI.

Physicians were not only convinced of the contagious nature of the
disease, but also believed that it could be transmitted by look and
word of mouth. Such doctors obliged their patients to cover their
eyes and mouth with a piece of cloth whenever the priest or physician
visited the bedside. “_Cum igitur medicus vel sacerdos, vel amicus
aliquem infirmum visitare voluerit, moneat et introducat aegrum suos
claudere et linteamine operire._”

Guillaume de Machant, poet and _valet de chambre_ of Philip the
Beautiful, mentions this fact in one of his poems, _i. e._:

    “They did not dare, in the open air
    To even speak by stealth,
    Lest each one’s breath might carry death
    By poisoning the other’s health.”

And, in the preface of the “Decameron,” Boccaccio remarks in his turn,
“The plague communicated direct, as fire to combustible matter. They
were often attacked from simply touching the sick, indeed it was not
even necessary to touch them. The danger was the same when you listened
to their words or even if they gazed at you.”

One thing is certain, that is, that those who nursed the patients
surely contracted the disease.

All the authorities of the Middle Ages concur in their statements as to
the contagious nature of the plague. The rules and regulations enforced
against the afflicted were barbarous and inhuman. “Persons sick and
well, of one family, when the pest developed,” says Black,[14] “were
held, without distinction, in close confinement in their home, while on
the house door a red cross was traced, bearing the sad and desperate
epitaph, ‘_Dieu ayez pitie de nous!_’ No one was permitted to leave
or enter the plague-stricken house save the physician and nurse, or
other persons who might be authorized by the Government. The doors of
such dwellings were guarded and kept closed until such a time as the
imprisoned had all died or recovered their health.”

We can well judge of the terror inspired by the pestilence by the
precautions taken by the physicians in attendance on the sick. In his
treatise on the plague Mauget describes the costume worn by those who
approached the bedsides of patients:

“The costumes worn, says he, “were of Levant morocco, the mask having
crystal eyes and a long nose filled with subtile perfumes. This nose
was in the form of a snout, with the openings one on each side; these
openings served for respiratory passages and were well filled at the
anterior portion with drugs, so that at each breath they contained
a medicated air. Under a cloak the doctor also wore buskins made of
morocco; closely sewed breeches were attached to the bottines above the
ankle; the shirt, the hat and gloves were also of soft morocco.”

Thus accoutered the doctor resembled a modern diver clad in a bathing
suit of leather.

In order not to alarm the population all public references to funerals
were forbidden. In the ordinances of magistrates of Paris, passed
September 13, 1553, we read, “And likewise be it declared that the
aforesaid Chamber forbids by statute all criers of funerals and wines,
and all others, no matter what be their state or condition, to render
for sale at any church, house, doorway or gate of this city, or on
the streets thereof, any black cloth or mourning stuffs such as are
used for mortuary purposes, under penalty of forfeiture of their
licenses and property, and confiscation of all goods, especially of the
aforesaid black cloths.”

Let it be well understood that the great epidemics of plague in the
sixth and twelfth centuries were of a nature to terrify ignorant
populations. The narratives of the historians of that epoch show them
to be imbued with the superstitious ideas of antiquity. This attack
of an invisible enemy whose blows fell right and left paralyzed
and terrified every one. “In the midst of this orgie of death,”
remarks Anglada, “the thought of self-preservation absorbed every
other sentiment. Dominated by this selfish instinct the human mind
shamelessly displayed its cowardice, egotism and superstition. Social
ties were rudely sundered, the affections of the heart laid aside. The
sick were deserted by their relatives; all flew with horror from the
plague-breathing air and contact with the dreadful disease. The corpses
of the victims of the epidemic abandoned without sepulture exhaled a
horrible putrid odor, and became the starting point of new infectious
centres. The worse disorder overthrew all conditions of existence.
Human passion raged uncontrolled; the voice of authority was no longer
respected; the wheels of civilization ceased to revolve.”

As to the other epidemics of the plague that periodically devastated
France from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century we possess but few
historical documents. We have had in our hands an opuscule by Pierre
Sordes, who was attacked by the plague in 1587, at the age of twenty,
who afterward wrote a treatise on the epidemic, which work he dedicated
to Cardinal de Sourdis, the Archbishop of Aquitaine.

The author in this monograph endeavors to explain the remedies then
in use for preservation against the infection of the disease. “Avoid
all fatigue, anger, intemperance, too much association with women, as
the act ennervates our forces and enfeebles our spirits. One should
clothe himself in the wools of Auvergne and the camulets of Escot.”
Moreover, says our author, “one should perfume his clothes with laurel,
rosemary, serpolet, marjolane, sage, fennel, sweetbriar, myrrh, and
frankincense.” When the room was to be disinfected “one should use
fumigations of good dry hay. One should not go out early without eating
and taking a drink. One should close the ears with a little cotton
scented with musk and hold in his mouth a clove or piece of angelica
root. One should hold in his hand a piece of sponge saturated in
vinegar, which should be smelled frequently. One should wear upon his
stomach an acorn filled with quicksilver and a small pouch containing
arsenic. Finally, one should take twice a week a pill composed of
aloes, myrrh, and saffron.”

Notwithstanding all these precautions, Pierre Sordes was attacked by
the plague; having a buboe in the left groin, which caused him acute
pain and to which he applied “_un emplastre de diachyllum cum gummis_”
and afterwards a blister. Not being able to obtain resolution, feeling
his strength undermined and perceiving his entire body “covered with
black lumps and spots, fatal prognostic signs to all who are found thus
marked, I called for a surgeon, the last one left alive, and he brought
his cautery and with it pierced through the apostume. From then the
fever disappeared little by little, and I was perfectly cured eight
days after the application of the aforesaid cautery, with the exception
that, reading in a draught Bartas “Treatise on the Plague,” I brought
on another attack of fever that well nigh carried me off.

“This is my experience at Figeac in the year 1587, when the plague
destroyed 2500 people, with all the miseries and calamities that can be
read in Greek and Roman histories.”


Towards the end of the tenth century a new epidemic appeared in Europe,
the ravages of which spread terror among the people of the Occident;
this disease was known by the name of _mal des ardents_, sacred fire,
St. Anthony’s fire, St. Marcell’s fire, and hell fire.

This great epidemic of the Middle Ages is considered by many modern
writers as one of the forms of ergotism, notwithstanding the contrary
conclusions arrived at by the Commission of 1776, composed of such men
as Jussieu, Paulet, Saillant, and Teissier, who were ordered to report
as to the nature of the disease by the Royal Society. According to the
work of this Commission the _mal des ardents_ was a variety of plague,
with buboes, carbuncles and petechial spots, while St. Anthony’s fire
was only gangrenous ergotism. This is a remarkable example of the
confusion into which scientific facts were allowed to fall through the
fault of careless authors. It is in such instances that we may estimate
the importance of history. We find in the “Chronicles of Frodoard,” in
the year 945, the following: “The year 945, in the history of Paris
and its numerous suburban villages, a disease called _ignis plaga_
attacked the limbs of many persons, and consumed them entirely, so
that death soon finished their sufferings. Some few survived, thanks be
to the intercession of the Saints; and even a considerable number were
cured in the Church of Notre Dame de Paris. Some of these, believing
themselves out of danger, left the church; but the fires of the plague
were soon relighted, and they were only saved by returning to Notre

Sauvel, the translator of Frodoard, remarks that at this epoch the
Church of Notre Dame served as a hospital for the sick attacked by the
epidemic, and sometimes contained as high as six hundred patients.

Another historian of the time was Raoul Glaber,[15] who mentions
that “in 993 a murderous malady prevailed among men. This was a sort
of hidden fire, _ignis occultus_, the which attacked the limbs and
detached them from the trunk after having consumed the members. Among
some the devouring effect of this fire took place in a single night.

“In 1039,” continues our author, “divine vengeance again descended on
the human race with fearful effect and destroyed many inhabitants of
the world, striking alike the rich and the poor, the aristocrat and the
peasant. Many persons lost their limbs and dragged themselves around as
an example to those who came after them.”

In the _Chronicle of France_, from the commencement of the Monarchy up
to 1029,[16] the monk Adhemar speaks of the epidemic in the following
terms: “In these times a pestilential fire (_pestilential ignis_)
attacked the population of Limousin; an infinite number of persons of
both sexes were consumed by an invisible fire.”

Michael Felibien, a Benedictine friar of Saint Maur, also left notes
on the epidemic of gangrene. He states in his _History of Paris_: “In
the same year, 1129, Paris, as the rest of France, was afflicted by the
_maladie des ardents_. This disease, although known from the mortality
it caused in the years 945 and 1041, was all the more terrible inasmuch
as it appeared to have no remedy. The mass of blood, already corrupted
by internal heat which devoured the entire body, pushed its fluids
outwards into tumors, which degenerated into incurable ulcers and thus
killed off thousands of people.”

We could make many more citations, derived from ancient writers, but
we think we have quoted enough authors to prove that the _mal des
ardents_ was only the plague confounded with the symptoms known as
gangrenous ergotism. Could it not have been a plague of a gangrenous
type? We cannot positively affirm, however, that it had no connection
with poisoning by the _sphacelia_ developed in grain, particularly
on rye. Its onset was sudden, and often very rapidly followed by a
fatal termination. The _mal des ardents_ had no prodroma with general
symptoms and marked periods, as in gangrenous ergotism, but it had, to
the contrary, an irregular march, rapid in its evolution, “devouring,”
as Mezeray says, “the feet, the arms, the face, and private parts,
commencing most generally in the groin.”

                         MEASLES, SCARLATINA.

Before the sixth century, the terrible period of the plague, one never
heard of the eruptive fevers. Small-pox, measles and scarlet fever
were unknown to the ancients. Neither Hippocrates nor Galen nor any
of the Greek physicians who practiced in Rome make mention of these
diseases. The historians and poets of Greece and Italy who have written
largely on medical subjects remain mute on these three great questions
in pathology. Some authors have endeavored to torture texts for the
purpose of throwing light on the contagious exanthemata, but they have
not been repaid for their fresh imagination.[17] It is admitted to-day
that the eruptive fevers are comparatively new diseases, which made
their appearance in the Middle Ages.

The first document that the history of medicine possesses on this
point is that left by Marius, Bishop of Aventicum, in Switzerland,
who says, in his chronicle, “_Anno 570, morbus validus cum profluvio
ventris et variola, Italiam Galliamque valde affecit_.”[18]

Ten years later, Gregory of Tours described the symptoms of the new
disease in the following terms:[19]

“The fifth year of the reign of Childebert, 580, the region of Auvergne
was inundated by a flood and numerous weather disasters, which were
followed by a terrible epidemic that invaded the whole of Gaul. Those
attacked had violent fevers, accompanied by vomiting, great pain in
the neighborhood of the kidneys, and a heaviness in the head and neck.
Matter rejected by the stomach looked yellowish and even green, many
deeming this to be some secret poison. The peasants called the pustules
corals.[20] Sometimes, after the application of cups to the shoulders
or limbs, blisters were raised, which, when broken, gave issue to
sanious matter, which oftentimes saved the patient. Drinks composed of
simples to combat the effects of the poison were also very efficacious.

“This disease, which commenced in the month of August, attacked all the
very young children and carried them off.

“In those days Chilperic was also seriously afflicted, and as the King
commenced to convalesce his youngest son was taken with the malady,
and when his extremity was perceived he was given baptism. Shortly
afterwards he was better, and his eldest brother, named Chlodobert, was
attacked in his turn. They placed the Prince in a litter and carried
him to Soissons, in the chapel of Saint Medard; there he was placed in
contact with the good Saint’s tomb, and made vows to him for recovery,
but, very weak and almost without breath, he rendered his soul to God
in the middle of night.

“In those days, Austrechilde, wife of King Gontran, also died of the
disease; while Nantin, Count of Angouleme, also succumbed to the same
malady, his body becoming so black that it appeared as though calcined

Gregory of Tours, in another chapter, narrates:

“The year of the reign of King Childebert, 582, another epidemic broke
out; this was accompanied by blackish spots of a malignant nature, with
pustules and vesicles, and carried off many victims.

“Touraine was cruelly devastated by this disease. The patient attacked
by fever soon had the surface of his body covered by vesicles and
small pustules. The vesicles were white and very hard, presenting no
element of softness, and were accompanied by great pain; when they had
attained maturity they broke and allowed the humor within to escape.
Their sticking to the clothing of the body added considerably to the
pain. Medical art was wholly impotent in the presence of this malady,
at least when God did not come to the doctor’s aid.

“The wife of Count Eborin, who was attacked by the disease, was so
covered by vesicles that neither her hand nor the sole of her foot nor
any portion of her body was exempt; even her eyes remained closed.
Soon after the fever ceased the fall of the pustules occurred, and the
patient recovered without more inconvenience.”

Small-pox came, then, from the Orient—that eternal center of all
pestilences and curses. From the seventh century the Saracen armies
spread the malady wherever they passed—in Syria, Egypt, and Spain; in
their turn, the Crusaders, in returning from the Holy Land, brought
the disease into France, England, and Germany. From thence the great
epidemics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, after which
the small-pox became epidemic, appearing and disappearing without
causation, but always destroying myriads of victims. “In 1445,” says
Sauvel “from the month of August to Saint Andres’ day (November 30),
over 6,000 infants died in Paris from small-pox.[21] The physicians
knew neither the nature nor the treatment of the new disease.[22]

The measles was first noted at the same time as the small-pox, making
its first appearance as an epidemic in the sixth century.

It is more than probable that the measles originated in Egypt, and
according to Borsieri, it had such an extension throughout Western
Europe that there were but few persons who had not suffered attacks.
The history of measles, however, is less clearly defined than that of
small-pox, although Anglada says that it figured among the _spotted
diseases_, of which Gregory of Tours speaks.[23] But it was only in the
sixteenth century that Prosper Martian exactly describes the disease.

Says Martian, “It is a disease of a special type peculiar to children,
who can no more avoid it than small pox. It commences with a violent
fever, followed, towards the third day, by an eruption of small red
spots, which become elevated by degrees, making the skin feel rough to
the touch. The fever lasts until the fifth day, and when it has ceased
the papules commence to disappear.”

Measles was designated in the middle ages under the name _Morbilli_,
which signified a petty plague, the same that _Morbus_ meant a special
plague. It is then fair to presume that the type of disease was no more
serious than it is at the present day.

It is probable that the measles of the sixth century included at the
same time small-pox, measles and scarlet fever, of which the ancients
made no differential diagnosis. Anglada affirms the co-existence of all
forms of eruptive fevers and gives the following reasons:

“The contemporaneous appearance of variola and rubeola represents
the first manifestation of an epidemic constitution, resulting from
a collection of unknown influences as to their nature, but manifest
by their effects. The earth was from thence prepared to receive
scarlatina, and it soon came to bear its baleful fruits. We do meet
some mention of scarlet fever in the writings of the Arabian School,
but it is merely suspected and only vaguely indicated. But when we
remember how difficult it often is to diagnose at first between variola
and measles, we are not astonished at the indecision manifested in
adding another exanthematous affection to the medical incognito. It
was only after innumerable observations and the experience of several
centuries that the third new disease received its nosological baptism.
There is nothing to prove that it did not co-operate with earlier
epidemics of variola and rubeola, remaining undistinguished as to type,

What clearly proves that there was confusion between the various fevers
of exanthemata is that Ingrassias describes scarlatina in 1510, under
the name of _rosallia_, adding, “Some think the measles and _rosallia_
are the same malady; as for me, I have determined their differences on
many occasions. _Nonnulli sunt qui morbillos idem cum rossalia esse
existimant. Nos autem soepissime distinctos esse affectus, nostrismet
oculis, non aliorum duntaxat relationi confidentes inspeximus._”[24]

These facts appear conclusive enough to admit that measles and scarlet
fever are, like variola, the products of the epidemic constitution
developed during the sixth century, as contemporaries of the bubonic
plague, all these maladies representing the medical constitution of the
first centuries of the Middle Age.


The name of Sweating Sickness was given to the great epidemic of fever
that appeared in England in the fifteenth century, and from thence
extended over Continental Europe. This epidemic broke out in the month
of September, 1486, in the army of Henry VII., encamped in Wales, and
soon reached London, extending over the British Isles with frightful
rapidity. Its appearance was alarming and during its duration, which
was only a month, it made a considerable number of victims. “It was so
terrible and so acute that within the memory of man none had seen its

This epidemic reappeared in England in 1513, 1517 and 1551. It was
preceded by very moist weather and violent winds. The mortality
was great, patients often dying in the space of two hours; in some
instances half the population of a town being carried off. The epidemic
of 1529 can only be called murderous; King Henry VIII. was attacked and
narrowly escaped death. Although flying from village to village the
nobility of England paid an enormous tribute to the King of Terrors.
The Ambassador from France to London, M. du Bellay, writing on the 21st
of July, 1529, remarks, “The day I visited the Bishop of Canterbury
eighteen of the household died in a few hours. I was about the only one
left to tell the tale, and am far from recovered yet.”

This same year the sweating sickness spread all over Europe. It made
terrible ravages in Holland, Germany and Poland. At the famous synod
of Luther and Zwingle, held at Marburg, the Reformed ministers seized
by fear of death prayed for relief from the pestilence. At Augsburg
in three months eighteen thousand people were attacked and fourteen
hundred died.

This epidemic did not extend as far as Paris, but it developed in
the north of France and Belgium. Mezeray mentions this fact in the
following terms: “A certain disease appeared this year (1529),
commencing in England. It was of a contagious nature, and passed over
from France to the Lower Countries, and thus spread over most of
Europe. Those attacked sweated profusely; it was for this reason that
the malady was called the _English Sweat_. First one had a hard chill,
then a very high fever, which carried the patient off in twenty-four
hours, unless promptly remedied.”

Fernel, physician to Henry II., who practiced in Paris, likewise
speaks of this sudorific sickness in one of his works.[25] He says:
“_Febres sudorificae quae insolentes magno terrore in omnem inferiorem
Germaniam, in Galliam, Belgicam, et in Britanniam ab anno Christi
millesimo quingentesimo vigesim autumno potissimum pervagatae sunt_.”

It prevailed almost always in summer and autumn, especially when
the weather was moist and foggy. Contrary to what is seen in other
epidemics, it was observed that the weak and poor, the old and infants
were not attacked as often as robust persons and those in affluent

The symptoms noted by physicians, such as Kaye and Bacon, may
be classed into three distinct periods: 1. The period of chill,
characterized by pains and formication in the limbs an extraordinary
prostration of the physical forces—a tremulous, shaky period. 2. The
period of sweat, preceded by a burning heat all over the body and an
unquenchable feverish thirst. The patient was agitated, disquieted by
terror and despair. Many complained of spasms in the stomach, followed
sometimes by nausea and vomiting, suffocation and lumbar pains—a
constant symptom ever—headache, with palpitation of the heart and
præcordial anxiety. 3. This period was announced by a high delirium,
sometimes muttering, sometimes loquacious; a fetid sweaty odor,
irregular pulse, coma, and, in the last-named condition, death always

The duration of the disease was most frequently but a few hours, rarely
exceeding a day, whether the termination was favorable or fatal.

Convalescence was always long, often being complicated by diarrhœa
or dropsy. It has been remarked in this connection that the malady
might be confounded with the miliary sweat observed in Picardy and
central France, but in the first named disease no cutaneous eruption
was observed. Fernel clearly affirms this statement, as he says: “In
this affection there is no carbuncle, bubo, exanthema nor eczema, but
simply a hypersecretion of sweat.”

Such was the sweating sickness of the sixteenth century, which made so
few victims in France, but which destroyed so many people in England
and Germany. The origin of this disease has been often discussed, and
also its nature; but all theories emitted by various authors partake of
the doctrines of other days and are too antiquated to be revamped. We
will content ourselves with saying that the classification of periods
made by us is logical, and we consider the sweating sickness of the
fifteenth century as a pernicious fever, in which the sweating stage
predominated and consequently became the characteristic symptom of the

                              THE SCURVY.

It has been supposed by many that Hippocrates described scurvy under
the name of _enlarged spleen_, an affection attributed to the use of
stagnant water and characterized by tumefaction of the gums, foul
breath, pale face, and ulceration of the lower limbs. But the study of
this Hippocratic passage leads us to think that these symptoms were
more of the character of scrofula than of scurvy. The recital by Pliny
of the diseases of the Roman soldiers while on an expedition to Germany
seems to indicate scurvy, which Coelius Aurelianus, and after him the
Arabian physicians, claims presented only a slight analogy to that

Springer thinks that we may find the first traces of scurvy in the
expedition of the Normans to Wineland, in the first years of the
eleventh century. In admitting that the men commanded by Eric Thorstein
were obliged to winter on the western shores of Wineland and almost
all succumbed to an endemic malady of that country, proves that it was
nothing but scurvy, although that word’s only signification, in Danish,
is ulceration of the mouth.

We have, besides, another document, which has great authentic value,
a proof transmitted to us by our earliest and best chronicler of the
Middle Ages, by Joinville, the friend and companion of Saint Louis in
his Crusade into Palestine. In his memoirs he gives a very succinct
recital of the epidemic of famine and scurvy which attacked the French
army on the banks of the Nile in 1248, just after the battles of
Mansourah. Says Joinville: “After the two battles just mentioned,
commenced our great miseries in the army; at the end of nine days
the bodies of our dead soldiers arose to the surface of the water
(their tissues were corrupted and rotten), and these corpses floated
to a point between our two camps (those of the King and the Duke of
Bourgogne), at a point where a bridge touched the water. So many had
been slain that a great crowd of corpses floated on the stream for a
long distance. The bodies of the dead Saracens were sickening; the army
servants threw open a portion of the bridge and permitted the dead
infidels to float down the river, but they buried the dead Crusaders in
great pits dug in the ground. I saw among other dead the body of the
Chamberlain of the Count D’Artois, and many other friends among the

“The only fish we had eaten for four months were of the variety called
_barbus_, and these _barbus_ fed on the dead bodies, and for this cause
and other miseries of the country where never a drop of rain fell
sickness entered our army of such a sort that the flesh on the limbs
dried and the skin on the legs became black and like old leather boots,
and many sick rotted in their groin; and all having the last named
symptom died. Another sign of death was when the nose bled.”

The relation of Joinville leaves no doubt as to the nature of the
epidemic that attacked the Crusaders. Here we have a pen picture of
the debility, the hemorrhages, the livid ecchymosis of the skin, the
fungous tumefaction and bleeding of the gums, which characterize the
disease known as scurvy.

According to the writings of some German physicians of the fifteenth
century, this malady was endemic in the septentrional portions of
Europe upon the shores of the Baltic Sea. In Holland numerous epidemics
of scurvy were observed among the lower classes of the population,
coinciding with bad conditions of public hygiene. Food consisting
of salt and smoked meats, dwellings located on marshy ground, cold
atmospheres charged with fogs, etc., etc.

This was the same affection that attacked our colonies in Canada, but
at that time we had no knowledge of the therapeutic indications in such
emergencies, and quote as a proof of this a remarkable observation
inscribed on the registers of Cartier on his vessels during his sojourn
in Canada: “The disease commenced in our midst in a curious and unknown
manner; some patients lost their flesh and their limbs grew black and
swollen like charcoal, and some were covered over with bloody splotches
like purpura; after which the disease showed itself on the hips,
thighs, arms, and neck, and in all the mouth was infected and rotten
at the gums, so that all the flesh fell off to the roots of the teeth,
which also most often dropped out; and so terrible was this plague that
on my three ships by February only ten healthy men were about out of a
crew of over a hundred.

“And, as the disease was unknown to us, the Captain of the ships was
asked to open a few bodies to see if we could possibly detect the
lesion and thus be able to protect the survivors. We found the hearts
of the dead to be white and withered, surrounded by a rose colored
effusion; the liver healthy, but the lung black and mortified and all
its blood retired to the sac of the heart. The spleen likewise was
impaired for about two finger-lengths as though rubbed by a rough

From this autopsy rudely made[26] it is true we discern most of the
signs of scrofula; a profound alteration of the blood and an effusion
of the liquids into certain viscera, denoting a diminution in the
amount of fibrin and the number of globules, alterations that also
serve to explain the tendency to hemorrhages observed in very serious
cases of scurvy.


Leprosy is a disease originating in the Orient; Egypt and Judea were
formerly the principal infected centers. It was the return of an
expedition to Palestine, under Pompey, that imported the malady to
Italy. In the first years of the Christian Era it is mentioned by
Celsus, who advised that it should be treated by sweating, aided by
vapor baths. Some years later Areteus used hellebore, sulphur baths,
and the flesh of vipers taken as food, a treatment adopted by others,
as, for instance, Musa and Archigenes.

In the second century the disease was in Gaul; Soranus treated the
lepers of Aquitaine, who were numerous.[27]

According to Velly, leprosy was common in France in the middle of the
eighth century epoch, when Nicholas, Abbot of Corbeil, constructed
a leper hospital, which was never much frequented until after the
Crusades of the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. At this period the
number of lepers, or _ladres_, a name given to the unfortunates in
remembrance of their patron saint, St. Lazarus, became so great that
every town and village was obliged to build a leper house in order to
isolate the afflicted. Under Louis VIII. there were 2,000 of these
hospitals; later the number of such asylums reached 19,000.

According to the historians of this time, when a man was suspected
to be a leper he could have no social relations without making full
declaration as to what the real nature of his complaint might be.
Without this precaution his acts were void, from the capitulary of
Pepin, which dissolved all marriage contracts with lepers, to the law
of Charlemagne, that forbade their associating with healthy persons.
The fear of contagion was such that in places where no leprosy existed
they built small houses for any one who might be attacked; these houses
were called _bordes_.[28] A gray mantle, a hat and wallet, were also
supplied the victims, also a _tartarelle_, a species of rattle, or a
small bell, with which they warned all passers near not to approach.
They also had a cup placed on the far side of the road, in which all
persons might drop alms without going near the leper.

Leper houses were enriched, little by little, by the liberality of
kings and nobles and the people, and to be a leper became less inhuman
and horrible than at the beginning.

Lepers, however, were forced to submit to severe police regulations.
They were forbidden under the severest penalties from having sexual
relations with healthy persons, for such intimacy was considered as
the most dangerous method of conveying the contagion. After entering
a leper house the victim was considered as dead under the civil law,
and in order to make the patients better understand their position the
clergy accompanied them to their asylum, the same as to their funeral,
throwing the cemetery dust on them while saying: “Enter into no house
save your asylum. When you speak to an outsider stand to the windward.
When you ask alms sound your rattle. You must not go far from the
asylum without your leper’s robe. You must drink from no well or spring
save on your own grounds. You must pass no plates nor cups without
first putting on your gloves. You must not go barefooted, nor walk in
narrow streets, nor lean against walls, trees, or doors, nor sleep on
the edge of the road,” etc.

When dead they were interred in the lepers’ cemetery by their

Separated from society, these pariahs, living together, sometimes
reproduced their own species, and finished their days in the most
frightful cachexia, awaking only contempt, disgust, and repulsion among
the healthy of the outside world.

It is true that each time that sanitary measures were relaxed by
the authorities—such, for instance, as the perfect isolation of the
patients—an increase in the number of lepers was noticeable. When this
was observed the old-time ordinances were enforced again with vigor.
It was thus in 1371 the Provost of Paris issued an edict enjoining all
lepers to leave the Capital within fifteen days, under heavy corporal
and pecuniary penalties; and in 1388, all lepers were forbidden to
enter Paris without special permission; in 1402 this restriction was
renewed, “under penalty of being taken by the executioner and his
deputies and detained for a month on a diet of bread and water, and
afterwards perpetual banishment from the kingdom.” Finally, in April,
1488, it was announced “all persons attacked by that abominable, very
dangerous and contagious malady known as leprosy, must leave Paris
before Easter and retire to their hospitals from the date of issuance
of this edict, under penalty of imprisonment for a month on bread and
water; and, where they had property, the sequestration of their houses
and jewels and arbitrary corporal punishment; it was permitted them,
however, to send things to them by servants, the latter being in

We can understand from this how these poor wretches, at different
epochs, were accused of horrible crimes, among other things poisoning
rivers, wells, and fountains. As regards this accusation, says the
author of the _Dictionnaire des Mœurs des Francais_, Philip le
Long burned a certain number of these poor devils at the stake and
confiscated their wealth, giving it to the Order of Malta and St.

The historians and chronicalers of the eleventh and twelfth century
often designated the person attacked by leprosy by the name of _mesel_,
_mezel_, _meseau_ or _mesiaus_. Meantime Barbazin pretends that it is
necessary to make a distinction.[29]

_Mesel_, according to Barbazin, was a person covered with sores
and ulcers, while the leper was an insensible man. He thinks that
_mesellerie_ was at its origin a different affection than leprosy, and
that these two diseases have been wrongly confounded. “They have both
served,” says he, “to designate a frightful disease, that is reputed
the most dangerous of all maladies.”

As supporting this assertion of Barbazin, we have found in the
Romanesque tongue some documents strongly confirming this point. They
appear more interesting, inasmuch as they have heretofore been unknown
to medical literature, as, for instance:

“Seneschal, I now demand of you, said he (Saint Louis), which you love
better, whether you be _mesiaus_, or whether you commit a mortal sin;
and I, who never have lied, responded that rather would I commit thirty
mortal sins than be _mesiaus_.” (Joinville, _Histoire de Saint Louis_.)

The leprosy, however, was not an absolute cause for divorce, as we
note in the following passage: “A man can leave his wife only for
fornication, and not alone for leprosy, and lepers may marry; and one
may cancel marriage if the husband become leper, and the same may be
said of the bride.”

In the same manuscript another analogous fact shows the invalidation
of the marital act for the reason of _mesellerie_ complicated by
impotence or barrenness.

“A woman who through impotence has lost that which is necessary to
her, so that he cannot cohabit with her, for the reason that he is
_mesiaus_, may marry another, telling the latter, however, that the
first she married was worth nothing, not even an infant, as he could
not cohabit; that nothing can prevent cohabitation in marriage nor the
begetting of children.”

Individuals attacked by _mesellerie_ were in reality outside the pale
of the law. For we read in fact in the “_Coutume de Beauvoisis_, cap.
39,” that “_mesiaus_ must not be called on as witnesses, for custom
accords them no place in the conversation of gentlemen.”

“The second reason is that when a _mesiaus_ calls on a healthy man, or
when a healthy man calls on a _mesel_, the _mesiaus_ may put in the
defense that he is beyond the reach of worldly law, and cannot be held
responsible in such a case.”

These unfortunates besides could not inherit nor dispose of their own
wealth during their lives. The following passage from the “ancient
customs of Normandy” bears witness, _i. e._:

“The _mesel_ can be no man’s heir from the time his disease is
developed, but he may have a life interest, as though he were not a

The same as in many other diseases the leprosy presented itself under
different forms and various degrees of gravity, as is proved from the
following passage from _Le Pelerinage de l’humaine lignee_:

    “Homs, qui ne scet bien discerner
    Entre sante et maladie,
    Entre le grant mesellerie
    Entre le moienne et le meure.”

This gravity of different forms of leprosy has likewise been mentioned
by the Arabian school, and notably by Avicenna, who had seen numerous
cases complicated with ulcerations of the genital organs; also, by the
Englishman, Gilbert, who wrote in the thirteenth century regarding the
existence of several species of leprosy, which could not always be
easily distinguished by reason of the uncertainty of their symptoms.
As to its character as a constitutional malady we have the word of
the Syrian Jaliah ebn Serapion, who attributes its connection to the
predominance of certain humors; finally, Valescus of Tarentum insists
on the heredity of the disease.

The leprosy, the pork measles and the _mesellerie_ were then only
clinical forms of a single affection of a contagious nature—a
hereditary disease whose symptoms appeared successively on the skin, in
the mucous membranes, the viscera and in the nervous system. It then
required a diathesis, which resembled greatly in its evolution that of
syphilis, with which it has often been confounded.

The physicians of leper hospitals have left behind a great number
of medical documents bearing on the characteristics of the disease,
but their observations are so confused that we can only conclude
that they considered all cutaneous maladies as belonging to the same
constitutional vice.

They recognized, however, the _ladrerrie_ (disease arising from measly
pork), by the following symptoms, the same being laid down by Guy de

“Eyelids and eyebrows swollen, falling of eye-lashes and eyebrows,
which are replaced by a finer quality of hair; ulceration of septum
of the nose, odor of ozoena, granulated tongue, fœtid breath, painful
breathing, thickening and hardness of the lips, with fissures and
lividity of same; gums tumefied and ulcerated; furfuraceous scales
in the hair, purple face, fixed expression, hideous aspect; forehead
smooth and shiny like a horn; pustules on face; veins on chest much
developed; breasts hard.”

“Thinness of muscles of the hand, especially thumb and index finger;
lividity and cracking of the nails; coldness of the extremities;
presence of a serpiginous eruption; insensibility of the legs,
collections of nodosities around the joints; under the influence
of cold elevations appeared on the cutis, making it appear like

“Sensation of pricking, ulcerations of skin; sleep uneasy, fetidity of
sweat; feeble pulse, bad odor of blood, which is viscid and oily to the
touch and gritty after incineration, likewise of a violet black color.”

The contagious characteristic of leprosy through sexual relation was
noticed by physicians attached to hospitals, and was the subject of
police restriction by public sanitary officers. Thus in the thirteenth
century the celebrated Roger Bacon, surnamed the admirable doctor,
wrote that commerce with a leprous woman could be followed by very
serious consequences. This opinion was corroborated by a physician
of the University of Oxford, his contemporary John of Gaddsen, and
by the observations of Bernard Gordon, a celebrated practitioner of
Montpellier. We all know the history of a Countess who came to be
treated for leprosy at Montpellier, when a Bachelor in Medicine charged
with the task of dressing her sores, fell desperately in love with the
leper lady, and from his _amours_ contracted most serious cutaneous

At this period the leprosy had already begun to assume a venereal type
of marked character, and many prostitutes suffered from attacks. As we
all are aware, Jean Manardi, an Italian doctor, has fully expressed
his opinion on this subject. In a letter addressed to a friend, Michel
Santana, one of the first specialists who treated pox, Manardi remarks:
“This disease has attacked Valencia, in Spain, being spread broadcast
by a famous courtesan, who, for the price of fifty crowns, accorded her
favors to a nobleman suffering from leprosy. This woman having been
tainted, in her turn contaminated all the young men who called on her,
so that more than four hundred were affected in a brief space of time.
Some of these, having followed the fortunes of King Charles into Italy,
carried and spread this cruel malady in their track.”

Another Italian physician, Andre Mathiole, likewise shows the identity
of leprosy with syphilis,—in the following terms: “Some authors have
written that the French have taken this disease from impure commerce
with leprous women while traversing the mountains of Italy.”[30]

We could easily multiply such citations to complete the facts observed
by Fernel and Ambroise Pare in France, and also by many Italian
physicians, from whence it would be easy to understand why Manardi came
to the following conclusion: “Those who have connection with a woman
who has had recent _amours_ with a leper, a courtesan in whose womb the
seeds of disease may linger, sometimes contract leprosy and at other
times suffer from other maladies of a more or less serious nature,
according to their predispositions.”

This modification from _measles_ (the disease from corrupt pork diet)
into leprosy of the venereal type is made progressively through the
intermediary of the ordinary agencies of prostitution,—bawds and
libertines,—who for a very long period eluded the wise laws ordained by
sanitary police for the restriction of lepers. In 1543, the affection
was so wide-spread as to be beyond sanitary control, and the edict of
Francois I., re establishing leper hospitals, amounted to nothing.
There were too many poxed people. The Hospital of Lourcine, which was
specially devoted to these cases at Paris contained 600 patients in
1540, and in the wards of Trinity Hospital and the Hotel Dieu there
were many more. It was the same in the Provinces, notably at Tolouse,
which had the merit of creating the first venereal hospital ever
instituted, under the Gascon name of “_Houspital das rognousez de la
rougno de Naples_.” Finally, fifty years later, in 1606, for want of
lepers, the leper asylums were officially closed. Henry IV., in a
proclamation, gave those remaining “to poor gentlemen and crippled

Thus ended the epidemic of leprosy in France, which had prevailed from
the second century, observing the same progress in other countries of
Western Europe during the same period of time. Syphilis, the product
of the venereal maladies of antiquity and the leprosy of the Middle
Ages, announced a new era; syphilis was thus contemporaneous with the

In the collection of Guy Patin’s letters, there is an interesting
document relating to the connection of leprosy and syphilis, as witness
the principal passage:

“It was not long since that I saw in Auvergne a patient who was
suspected of measles (_hog disease_), for the reason that his family
had the reputation of being thus afflicted, though he bore on his body
no marks of the disease. This led me to recall the fact that some
families in Paris have been suspected of this taint; but really we
have no measles or leprosy here. In former times there was a hospital
dedicated to such cases in the Faubourg Saint Denis. I have noticed
no cases in Champagne, Normandy nor Picardy, although in all these
Provinces I found asylums formerly used for such cases that are now
turned into hospitals for plague victims. In former times leprosy
was confounded with pox, through the ignorance of doctors and the
barbarity of the age; nevertheless, there are yet a few lepers in
Provence, Languedoc and Poitou.”

We have here the authority of Guy Patin for saying that leprosy had
almost entirely disappeared from France in the sixteenth century.

Although modern Faculties are prone to insist that the real science of
medicine only dates back its origin to the discovery of the microscope,
and that the study of antique medicine is only a retrospective
exposition calculated to show the slight scientific value of ancient
observations, I assert that the many observations recorded by our
medical ancestors are of immense value. Let us cite, as a single
instance, this transformation of a constitutional malady, attenuated
by time, transmitted by heredity through the same masses of people
for ten centuries,—populations having a similar diathesis,—a disease
taking a new vigor and attacking other generations, but destined in a
given time to disappear, most probably, in its turn, in another unknown
metamorphosis. Such an idea may cause a smile in that haughty _section
hors rang_ in medicine, which is so devoted to the culture of specific
germs that but one idea can certainly be adopted as an irrefutable
dogma in medicine—that is, if the facts it represents coincide with the
modifications of the wag—in the tail end of a bacillus.

As for myself, I remain convinced that everything seen in modern times,
through the objective even of an instrument of precision, cannot
destroy the accumulated work of twenty centuries of medical observation
and study.

                _Scientiæ enim per additamenta fiunt._

                             THE SYPHILIS.

If the true syphilis—the variety that appeared in the fifteenth
century—was unknown in the Middle Ages, there still exist documents
which fully affirm the existence of contagious venereal diseases
several hundreds of years before the Italian wars of Charles VIII.
and Louis XII. The maladies which, in times of antiquity, afflicted
the Hebrews and Romans, as a result of impure sexual commerce, are
to-day only the results of the progress made by prostitution after the
Crusades; that is to say, they are merely the products of debauchery
and leprous virus imported from the Orient.

As early as the twelfth century France knew the _mal malin_ or _mal
boubil_, an affection characterized by sores and ulcerations on the
arms and genital organs. Gauthier de Coinci, Prior of the Abbey of
St. Medard de Soissons, at the beginning of the thirteenth century
considered these maladies as impure and contagious, and warned his
priests in the following verselets:

  “The monk, the church clerk and the priest
  Must not defile themselves the least,
  But with good conscience and pure heart
  Keep their hands off from private part.
  Pray God at morning and at night
  To hide corruption from their sight;
  The _mal boubil_ the _mal malan_
  Comes ever to each sinning man.”

We are permitted to suppose from these lines that the disease was
localized in “a wicked place that the hands must not touch,” and that
it was only an affection of the same nature as the _gorre_ and _grand
gorre_, one of the numerous expressions applied to all contagious
maladies of the sexual organs. This fact cannot be contested, for at
the same epoch, in a poem entitled “_Des XXIII Manieres de Vilains_,”
we find an imprecation launched by this anonymous author against all
blackguards and bawds:

  “That they may be
  Itchy, poxed, and apostumed,
  Covered with ulcers, badly rheumed,
  Full of fever, jaundice sapped,
  That they may be, also, clapped.”

Or, as given in French:

    “Qu ils aient ...
    Rogne, variole et apostume,
    Et si aient plente de grume,
    Plente de fievre et de jaunisse,
    Et si aient la chade-pisse”

Now, the opuscle, from which these verses are derived, was reprinted
in 1833 by Francisque Michel, and is contemporaneous with the
manuscripts of the thirteenth century, analyzed by M. Littre in _a note
on syphilis_,[31] where our erudite author says: “At this epoch the
venereal diseases had an analogous form to those we observe to-day.”

_This document dates back 200 years before the discovery of America_,
and is duly authenticated by the testimony of Guillaume Saliceti,
a physician and Italian priest of the thirteenth century. “When a
man has received a corruption of the penis, after having cohabited
with an obscene woman or for other cause, there comes a tumor in the
groin.”[32] And some years after Lanfranc, a student of Salicetis,
wrote, in his turn, in his _Parva Cyrurgia_, that “buboes appear
following ulcers on the penis.” His description of chancres and other
venereal accidents is very remarkable.

Another writer of the thirteenth century, Michel Scott, a Scotch
physician, alchemist, and philosopher, who lived in France and Germany
for many years, says in one of his numerous works:[33] “Women become
livid and have discharges. If a woman is in such a condition and a
man cohabit with her his penis is easily diseased, as we often see in
adolescents who, ignorant of this fact, often contract a sore organ or
are attacked by leprosy. It is also well to know that if a discharge
exist at the epoch of conception, the fetus is more or less diseased,
and in this case a man must abstain from all connection, and the woman
should resist sexual advances, if she have foresight.”

This passage leaves no possible doubt as to the existence of
blenorrhagia with the discharge and as to the presence of an hereditary
syphilitic diathesis, for if the author gives the last-mentioned the
name of leprosy it is only for the reason that at this period no
positive term was in use to designate venereal diseases,[34] which were
confounded with leprosy, with or without reason, the former only being,
perhaps, a transformation of the latter.

About a century later, that is to say, on August 8th, 1347, Queen
Jeanne of Naples, Countess of Provence, sent to Avignon the statutes
relating to the establishment of houses of prostitution in that city.
Article IV. of this law regulated police measures in the following
terms: “The Queen ordains that every Saturday the bailiff and a
barber deputed by the Councilmen shall visit every debauched girl in
the place, and if they find any one who has the disease arising from
venery, that such a one may be separated from the other girls and
lodged apart, to the end that no one may have commerce with her, and
that the young may thus avoid contracting disease.”[35]

These statutes were first made known by Astruc,[36] and have been
inserted without reserve by Grisolle in his _Traite de Pathologie
Interne_; also by Cazenave in his _Traite des Syphilides_; but Jules
Courtet, and after him Rabutaux and Anglada, have considered these
documents as somewhat apocryphal.

We shall not stop to discuss the authenticity of these documents; they
have characteristics that make their genuineness almost indisputable.
Besides, we can quote other authors against whom no arguments can be
used; for instance, we will cite John of Gaddesen, a physician of the
English Court, who affirmed that sexual connection with a leprous woman
produced ulcers of the penis;[37] besides, his compatriot Gilbert,
who described in his _Compendium Medicinal_, in the year 1300, the
treatment of gonorrhœa and chancre so common after the Crusades; or
Gui du Chauliac, who in 1360 noticed “the ulcers born of commerce
with a tainted woman, impure and chancrous (_ex coitu cum fœtida vel
immunda vel cancrosa muliere_).”[38] Again, note Torella, of Italy,
who considered pox as a contagious malady which had existed from times
of antiquity, and which had made its appearance at different epochs,
but of which the symptoms, poorly understood by medical men, prevented
isolation and its proper pathological identity.[39]

We need not reproduce the text of all the French and especially the
Italian doctors, who established the identity of venereal diseases
_before the year_ 1494—such writers as Montagnana, Petrus Pintor,
Nicolas Leonicenus, Joseph Grunpeck, etc. As to these works, they
have all been mentioned by Fracastor, in his celebrated _Treatise on
Contagious Diseases_ (_de morbis contagiosis_), a work at once a fine
poem, whose Latinity is perfect and a monograph of true scientific

Fracastor described the patient as well as the disease: “The victims
were sad and broken with pale faces.”

“They had chancres on their private parts; these chancres were
changeable; when cured at one point they reappeared at another; they
always broke out again.”

“Pustules with crusts were raised on the skin; in some these commence
on the scalp first; this was the usual case; in a few they appeared
elsewhere. At first these were small, afterwards increasing in size,
appearing like unto the milk crust in children. In some these pustules
were small and dry—in others large and humid. Sometimes they were
scarlet, sometimes white, sometimes hard and pink. These pustules
opened at the end of some days, pouring out an incredible quantity of
stinking and nasty liquid, once opened they became true phagedenic
ulcers, which not only consumed the flesh but even the bone.”

“Those whose upper regions were attacked had malignant fluxions, that
eat away the palate, the trachea, the throat and the tonsils. Some
patients lost their lips, others their noses, others their eyes, others
their private parts.”

“Large gummy tumors appeared in many and disfigured the limbs. These
growths were often the size of an egg or a French roll of bread. When
opened these tumors discharged a whitish mucilaginous liquid. They were
principally noted on the arms and legs; while ulcerating sometimes they
grew callous, at other times remaining as tumors until death.”

“As if this were not sufficient, terrible pains oftimes attacked the
limbs; these generally came when the pustules appeared. These pains
were long abiding and well nigh insupportable, aching most at night,
not only affecting the articulation, hut also the bones and nerves of
the limbs. Sometimes the patient had pustules without pains, at other
times pains without pustules; but the great majority had pustules and

“The patients were plunged into a condition of languor. They became
thin, weak, without appetite, sleeping not, always sad and in a sullen
humor, the face and the limbs swollen, with a slight fever at times.
Some suffered with pains in the head, pains of long duration, which did
not recede before any remedies.”

“Although the greater majority of mortals have taken this disease
by contagion, it is no less certain that a great number of others
contracted it from infection. It is impossible to believe, in fact,
that in such a short time the contagion that marches so slowly by
itself and which is communicated with such difficulty, should overrun
such a number of countries, after having been (as it is claimed),
imported by a single fleet of Spanish ships. For it is well known
that its existence was determined in Spain, France, Italy and Germany
and all through Scythia at the same period of time. Without doubt the
malady originated spontaneously, like the petechial fever, or it had
always existed.”

“A barber, my friend, has a very old manuscript, containing directions
for the treatment of the affection. This has for its title: ‘_Medicine
for the thick scabs, with pains in the joints._’ The barber remembered
the remedy laid down in this work, and at the very commencement of
the new malady thought he recognized the contagion by the name of the
_thick_ scabs. But physicians having examined this remedy found it too
violent, inasmuch as it was composed of quicksilver and sulphur. He
would have been happier had he not consulted the doctors; he would have
grown wealthy by incalculable gains.”

We see from this that the syphilis of the fifteenth century did not
present precisely the same symptoms as the variety of to day. Formerly
secondary and tertiary accidents supervened much more rapidly, besides
being very violent in their manifestations. Besides the disease was
exceedingly malignant often causing, death in a short time, which
fact led many authors of that epoch to consider the symptoms due to a
pestilence brought about by general causes.[40] Nicholas Massa wrote in
fact, that: “The patient has pains in the head, arms, and especially
the legs, which are always intensified at night. The buboes in the two
groins are salutary when they suppurate. We observe a chafed and scaly
condition of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Ulcers of a
bad appearance are frequently noted on the penis; these ulcers are hard
and callous and very slow in healing. In exploring the throat we often
discover a relaxed condition of the uvula and the presence of sordid
ulcers, which rarely suppurate. With all this eruptive process we note
certain hard tumors that adhere to the skin and bone and bear the name
of _gummata_. These tumors may ulcerate and produce osseous caries.”[41]

We notice the same errors in all the descriptions given by the authors
of the sixteenth century; they exhibit an imperfect knowledge of the
symptomatology, of the genesis and primitive constitutional accidents.
We see that as yet clinical medicine had no existence, and that our
predecessors were ignorant of the art of co-ordinating the signs of a
disease in a thoughtful manner. Nevertheless, their descriptive powers
in writing on venereal diseases, as before noted, were excellent,
and had the merit of exactitude and honest observation; as, Pierre
Manardi observes: “The principal sign of the French disease consists in
pustules coming out on the end of the penis in men and at the entrance
of vulva or neck of womb among women. Most frequently these pustules
ulcerate; I say frequently for the reason that I have seen patients in
whom these ulcers were hard as warts, cloves or apple seeds.”

Here we have the aspect of primary syphilis presented by a physician
whose name will, with justice, remain attached to the disease as long
as it has a history. The secondary symptoms of the malady have never
been more dramatically pictured than by Fernel, who remarks: “They had
horrible ulcers on them, which might be mistaken for glands, judging
from size and color, from which issued a foul discharge of a villainous
infecting kind, enough to give a heart-ache; they had long faces of
a greenish-black complexion, so covered with sores that nothing more
hideous could be imagined.”[42]

Relative to the duration of secondary symptoms, under date of 1495,
Marcello de Cumes wrote from the camp of Novarro that “the pustules on
the face, like those of leprosy and variola, lasted a year or more when
the patient was not treated.”[43]

The physiognomy of the unfortunates whose faces were adorned with lumps
and whose foreheads bore the sadly characteristic _corona veneris_,
has been well described in the following verses by Jean Lemaire,
of Belgium, a poet and historical writer of fifteenth century. The
portrait is exact:

    “But in the end, when the venom is ripe,
    Sprout out big warts of a scarlet type,
    Persistent, spreading over the face,
    Leaving the brand of shame and disgrace,
    An injury left after passion’s rude storm,
    Fair human nature thus to deform.
    High forehead, neck, round chin and nose
    Many a warty sore disclose;
    And the venom, with deadly pain,
    Runs through the system in every vein,
    Causing innumerable ailments, no doubt,
    From itch to the ever-tormenting gout,” etc.

Meantime, the symptoms of syphilis were not long in losing some of
their acute features. Already, in 1540, Antoine Lecocq noted this
fact in France:[44] “Sometimes,” says he, “the virus seems to expend
its strength on the groins in tumefaction of the glands; and, if this
bubo suppurates, it is well. This tumor we call bubo; others call it
_poulain_ (colt or filly) for mischief’s sake, as those who are thus
attacked separate their legs while walking, horse style.” Fernel
declared that the venereal disease at the end of the sixteenth century
so little resembled that of his early days that he could scarcely
believe it the same. He remarks: “This disease has lost much of its
ferocity and acuteness.”

On his part, Fracastor remarked, in 1546, that “For six years past
the malady has changed considerably. We now notice pustules on but
few patients, and they have but few pains, and these are generally
slight; but more gummy tumors are observed. A thing that astonishes the
world is the falling out of the hair of the head and baldness in other
portions of the body. It sometimes happens that in the worst cases the
teeth become loose and even fall out.”[45]

These phenomena were evidently due to the action of mercurial ointment,
which was much used in Italy from the time it was recommended by
Hugo, of Boulogne, in the _malum mortuum_, or malignant leprosy of
the Occident. In France guaiac was much used, or holy wood, which was
then known as _sanctum lignum_, when only the Latin equivalent was
in vogue. Besides, mention is made of mercurial stomatitis following
inunctions with the so-called Neapolitain ointment in the Prologue of
_Pantagruel_, by Rabelais.

This passage from Dr. Francis Rabelais[46] leads us to think that
physicians were undecided about caring for syphilitic patients in the
fifteenth century, almost all doctors, in fact, refusing to examine
into the character of a disease of which they knew nothing; a disease
whose infecting centers were the most degraded and ignoble public
places; a malady not described in the works of Hippocrates nor Galen.

So, this _lues venerea_, as it is called by Fernel, made numerous
victims in all countries. It spread in the towns and throughout the
rural districts, and, at times, caused such ravages that, in the
large cities, the authorities were obliged to use sanitary measures
against the pox, as had been done at other times in the case of
leprosy. Syphilitics were expelled from places and forbidden, under
severe penalties, from having intercourse with healthy people. But
it soon came to be known that contagion could only occur through
sexual connection, and the patients then hid in hospitals, where
they were specially treated by the methods laid down by the first
syphilographers,—vapor baths, mercurial inunctions, frictions, etc.
Unfortunately, no prophylactic measures were instituted against
prostitutes, although they were recognized as having a monopoly in
venereal disorders; for they did not believe at that time, like Jean de
Lorme, who said: “The pox may be caught by touching an infected person;
by breathing the same air; by stepping, barefooted, in the patient’s
sputa, and in many other manners.”

Even the poets wrote sonnets, poems and ballads upon this _mal d’amour_
(lovesickness). One could form an immense volume by collecting all
the verses written and published on this subject during the sixteenth
century. But no poem indited during that period presents so great an
interest to medical science as the ballad of Jean Droyn, of Amiens,
dedicated to the Prince, in which the author, stronger in the etiology
of syphilis than the doctors of his time, advised young men who feared
_grosse verole_ (the pox) not to indulge in _liasons_ with girls of the
town without first being satisfied with their pathological innocence.

This ballad was published at Lyons in 1512, that is to say, seventeen
years after the appearance of the disease in the army of Charles VIII.,
at an epoch when the majority of doctors considered the affection as an
infectious malady due to the action of a pestilential miasm in the air.
We shall reproduce but a few lines of this poetical-medical-historical

    “Perfumed darlings, dandies, dudes,
      Take warning in each case,
    Beware all types of fleshy nudes
      And don’t fall in disgrace.

    Sure, gentlemen and tradesmen gay
      May throw away their money,
    Give banquets and at gaming play,
      As flies are drawn by honey.

    I warn you all of love’s sweet charms,
      Place on them protocole,
    For haunting oft strange women’s arms
      Brings sometimes _grosse verole_.

    “Let love, with moderation wise,
      Attend each amorous feast.
    Let all be clean unto your eyes,
      Fly all lewd girls at least.

    Happier and nobler ’tis to gain
      For virtue high renown
    Than wound your honor with a stain,
      With women of the town.

    Keep out of danger from disease,
      Good health will you console,
    But if you strive the flesh to please
      Beware of _grosse verole_.”

In the final stanzas of this poem, which will not bear a more complete
reproduction owing to a maudlin sentimentality existing in modern
times, we find that the Prophet Job is not regarded as strictly
virtuous, for we read:

    “Prince, sachez que Job fut vertueux,
    Mais si futil rongneux et grateleux,
      Nous lui prions qu’il nous garde et console,
    Pour corriger mondains luxurieux,
      S’est engendree ceste grosse verole.”

Notwithstanding the undoubted proof of the antiquity of venereal
diseases, Astruc, as we all know, defends the American origin of the
malady, and endeavors to support his views on the hypothesis emitted by
Ulrich de Hutten in 1519, _i.e._, at the siege of Naples, at the end
of 1494, a Spanish army commanded by Gonsalva of Cordova came to the
rescue of the besieged. Their soldiers communicated to the girls of the
town and the courtesans of the neighborhood the _maladie Americaine_
(American disease), which was contracted in turn, after the capture of
Naples, by the army of King Charles, and afterwards spread throughout
France. But history informs us that the King of France did not return
to Paris with his troops from the Italian campaign until the month of
March, 1496. Now it was on the 6th of March, in this same year, that
Parliament issued a proclamation regulating the pox, in which the
first section reads: “To-day, the 6th of March, whereas in the City of
Paris a disease of a certain contagious character, known as _verole_
(pox), prevails, the which has made much progress in the Realm the past
two years, as well at Paris as in other places, and there is reason
to fear, this being Springtime, that it may increase, it is deemed
expedient to take cognizance of the same.”

Other testimony is gathered from the narrative of the voyages of
Christopher Columbus by his contemporary Petrus Martyr, of Anghierra,
historian attached to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. According
to the notes given him by the great navigator on his return to Spain,
authentic records kept from day to day,[47] the Spanish and Italian
sailors of Columbus found “people who lived in the Age of Gold; with no
ditches, no fences, no books, no laws. The men were entirely naked, the
women only protected by a belly-band of light material; notwithstanding
all this, their morals were pure.” Besides, Petrus Martyr (_La Syphilis
au XV. Siecle_) proves there was syphilis in Spain in 1487.

When Columbus returned to Europe a second time he left behind him,
under orders of his brother, a hundred of his companions in arms, who
were a collection of adventurers from all the nations of the earth.
These men committed all sorts of excesses among the unfortunate
Indians—steeping themselves in lust and every manner of crime,
violating the women, and indulging in wholesale debauchery. Says
Charles Renaut: “Looking at matters from this standpoint, I am ready
to believe that the Spaniards carried the disease to the natives of
Hispanola, and that the latter did not give the malady to the Spanish.”

We shall not dwell further on the origin of syphilis, nor its
connection with leprosy and other cutaneous maladies which were so
prevalent in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. We may consider
the disease as something new, and trace its period of invasion and
development to the discovery of America, or assert that it arose from
a semi extinct affection (leprosy), assuming a new type under the
influence of a special epidemic constitution.

One thing is clearly proven, _i.e._, that syphilis was preceded by
contagious venereal affections, which lost the irregular and malignant
forms of the fifteenth century. When then the civilized nations of
earth create a true Public Health Service, syphilis will be vanquished,
and will pass away to the ranks of other extinct maladies.


                      ORIGIN OF MAGIC AND SORCERY

From the day that Louis XIV. dissolved the Parliament of Rouen, which
had condemned several persons in the Province of Vire to death for the
crime of sorcery, but few sorcerers have been seen in France.

It was in 1682 that Urbain Grandier was tortured and burned alive for
having launched a malediction against the Ursulines of Loudun.

A violent reaction occurred against the Inquisitors, theologians,
and their accomplice butchers, thanks to the courageous intervention
of eminent philosophers and savants, who were justly indignant at
the crimes of the Roman Catholic priesthood. This reaction clearly
demonstrated the fact that the innumerable victims of religious
intolerance in the Middle Ages were not sorcerers, nor possessed of
the devil, nor minions of Hell. Psychologists and moralists claimed
that the victims of these delusions were insane, persons suffering
from semi delusions, subjects of monomania. Science classed these
unfortunates into several groups, among which may be enumerated persons
afflicted with hallucinations, demonomaniacs, erotomaniacs, subjects
of lycanthropy, etc., without counting vampires, choreomaniacs,
lypemaniacs, and others whose attacks are recognized by medical science.

The encyclopedists and their disciples declared themselves satisfied,
inasmuch as psychological experts had done away with the absurd
traditions of the Middle Ages as well as antique superstitions. The
death penalty for demonidolatry was removed, but the doors of the
insane asylum opened for its followers.

Could any better arrangement have been made at the present day? Let us
take the history of this famous epidemic of demonidolatry of other days
and examine the documentary evidence offered against those accused of
the crime of sorcery, passing the testimony through the crucible of
modern science, pathology, physiology, together with all observable
symptoms, holding in view meanwhile modern neurological discoveries;
let us strive, in a word, to solve this great psychological question,
which has greatly agitated the human understanding for four hundred
years past.

We believe _what is, is the truth_, and in order to best judge the
facts narrated, it is well to first arrange our knowledge as to the
psychological condition of Occidental populations during the Middle
Ages, a condition that was only the continuation of the ideas and
traditions of antiquity, modified by the fanatical prejudices of a new
religion and by a cruel and barbarous social Constitution.

If history authorizes us, in fact, to conclude that the occult sciences
have existed from the earliest periods of antiquity, that the people
who brought learning from the Orient to the Occident, have at all
times admitted the existence of genii, angels, and demons, it is easy
to explain the action that such mysterious traditions would have on
the ignorant minds of the peasantry of the Middle Ages, bowed under
the yoke of slavery to feudal Lords and the clerical despotism of the
Romish Church.

Let us interrogate these historical texts with impartiality, and
analyze these ancient theogonies, which are, so to speak, the _proces
verbaux_ of the philosophic development of the human mind, and we
shall see whether we can admit that mental diseases may prevail
_epidemically_ for several generations, like the pestilential maladies
of the fourth century, for example.

We know that it was in India, the cradle of human genius, that the
doctrine of supernaturalism, of good and bad spirits exerting an occult
influence on mankind, was born. Ancient history shows such a belief
goes back to antique times. Zoroaster, inspired by _Ahura Mazda_,
the Omniscient, wrote, in the Zend Avesta, the text and commentaries
of the religious law dedicated to the Aryas of India and Persia.
This law had for its object the destruction of the cult of _dews_ or
demons, who infested the earth under human forms, and also to repress
the naturalistic instinct of the most ancient people of _Asia_, by
initiating them in a faith for Celestial genii.

The disciples of Zoroaster were the _Magi_; that is to say, the learned
men of the day, but they modified the doctrine of the Prophet, which
the Guebres alone preserved in its purity, with the fundamental
doctrine of the dualism of light and darkness, represented by _Ormazd_
and _Ahriman_, the spirit of the blest and the spirit of the damned.

The Chaldeans, celebrated from times of antiquity for their knowledge,
not only of astronomy, but all other sciences, adopted the doctrines of
the Zend-Avesta, and their Magi transmitted the same to the Egyptians,
Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans, and finally to the Gauls, whose adepts
were the Druids.

The science or Magic of the Chaldeans was only magnetism, somnambulism,
and spiritism.

Says M. F. Fabart: “The Magi, according to certain _bas reliefs_
exhumed in Oriental countries, knew the virtue of magnetic passes. We
see figures with hands extended, influencing by their gestures the
subjects, who, seated before them, have closed eyes.

“The Pythonesses and Sybills did not have the power of foresight until
they had passed through the crisis of an artificial somnambulism, and
we find passages in antique authorities where this imposed sleep is

In one of my preceding works I have spoken of several very curious
passages in the _Pharsalia_ of Lucan, where he speaks of the oracles
of the female magician Erichto and the responses of the Pythonesses in
the Temple of Delphi to the inquiries of Appius. Cassandra, priestess
to Apollo in the tragedy of Agamemnon, by Seneca the tragedian, is a
perfect type of the hypnotizable hysteric, and, if the poet does not
describe the methods followed by the priests of the temple in order to
magnetize their subjects, we find them noted by other Latin authors
in terms so explicit as to leave no doubt as to their knowledge of
magnetic passes (hypnotism).

Says Cœlius Aurelianus: “We make circular movements with the hands
before the eyes of the patient. Under our gaze the subject follows the
movements of our hands, the eyes blinking.” It is while giving the
treatment for catalepsy that the Roman physician, the contemporary of
Galen, initiates us in magnetic practice. After giving a description
of the neurosis, which he characterizes by prostration, immobility,
rigidity of neck, loss of voice, stupor of the senses, widely opened
eyelids, fixity of the eyes and ocular expression, the Latin author
teaches us how to relieve the disease and partially waken the movement,
senses, and intelligence of the patient; and he magnetizes, as is
clearly indicated in the following lines: “_Atque ita, si ante oculos
eorum quisquam digitos circum moveat, palpebrant ægrotantes, et suo
obtutu manuum trajectionem sequuntur; vel si quicquam profecerint etiam
toto obtutu converso attendunt; et inclamati, respicientes lacrymantur
nihil dicentes, sed volentium respondere vultum æmulantes_.”[49]

The precepts of Zoroaster were differently modified among ancient
people. Moses, who wished the glory of being the great prophet of
Israel, wrote the law of Jehovah and abjured the Magi, by whom he had
been initiated. The Hebrews meantime preserved the Mazadean religion
in memory; they created magic. Ahriman became Astaroth, Beelzebub,
Asmodeus and other demons, who had for interpreters the Pythonesses
and Prophetesses (_mediums_). Ormazd was transferred into a legion
of angels and archangels, who appeared to men to make prophecies.
Presently the Jewish magicians invented the _Kabbala_, occult science,
by which, in pronouncing certain words, they performed miracles and
submitted supernatural powers to the caprices of the human will; they
were above all necromancers.

The occult sciences of the ancients, necromancy and magic, had, as will
be observed, more or less connection with the phenomena of magnetism
of the present day. Meantime necromancy resembled modern spiritualism,
toward which the researches of present day magnetizers tend. The
necromancers invoked the souls of the dead to know the future and the
secrets of the present. The Jews pursued this study with much ardor,
notwithstanding the prohibition of Moses, who wished them not _to
speak to wood_. We know that the Pythoness (_witch_) of Endor evoked
the spirit of Samuel before Saul on the eve of battle and predicted
the King’s death. The grotto where this celebrated medium lived still
exists, and she receives, it is said, the travelers who visit her from
far and wide near Mount Tabor.

Magic was also known by the High Priests in Pharaoh’s court. Like the
Magi of Medea and Chaldea they invoked the spirits and supernatural
powers by methods and ceremonies consisting principally of gestures and

Hermes Trismegistus, whom the Alchemists regard as their master,
spread the science of occult magic. Following him we see the mystical
doctrines of the Orient flourish at Alexandria with the founders of
neoplatonism. These taught that the _Goetie_ was the supernatural art
which is practiced by the aid of wicked spirits, that the _Magie_
produced mysterious manifestations with the assistance of material
demons and superior spirits; that the _Pharmacists_ controlled spirits
by means of philters and elixirs.

In Greece and in Italy the celestial genii were believed in, and they
multiplied to infinity, peopling the Olympus of Polytheism. Priests
profited by the superstitious idea of the people who invoked the aid
of the witches and sibyls who derived their wisdom from the Magi of
the Orient. Following the example, the historians, philosophers and
poets were apparently led to the belief in all the Genii, in the power
of spirits and their intimate relations with men through the medium of
seers, in a condition of frenzy or somnambulism (trance).

We know that the poet Hesiodus in his theogony, that Plato, from the
time of his initiation with the Hermetic doctrines, that Aristotle in
his philosophical works, all admit the existence of immaterial beings
interesting themselves in the affairs of humanity. The Pythagorians,
on their side, affirmed their power of controlling demons by keeping
themselves in constant meditation, abstinence and chastity.[50]

During all times of antiquity, there were corporations of priests,
philosophers, theosophists, thaumaturgists and other sects, who
exercised the trade of invoking spirits by conjuring them with charms,
by enchantments and witchcraft, and changing by their aid the laws of
nature, to command the elements and accomplish other extraordinary
feats. In order to do these prodigies they had recourse to cabalistic
formulæ, indicated in conjuring books, or by incantations, magical
circles, or simply by magnetic power.

Simon of Samaria, Circe, Medea, Plotinus, Porphyrius, Jamblichus,
and the famous Canidie, so justly cursed by Horace, belonged to this
clan of magicians, gnostics, enchanters and mediums, who acquainted
the people with the occult arts of the magi of Chaldea. It is only
necessary to study history to be convinced of this fact.

Damis, the historian and pupil of Apollonius of Tyana, has left us
the biography of his master, the most remarkable thaumaturgist of
antiquity. It is in this work that he shows that while Apollonius
was lecturing on philosophy at Ephesus, he stopped in the midst of
his speech and cried out to the murderer who, at the same moment,
assassinated Domitian at Rome, “Courage, Stephanus; kill the tyrant!”
Apollonius had sojourned long in India, and all his disciples have
attested the marvelous things he could do. He cured incurable diseases
and made other miracles that astonished his contemporaries who were
partisans, like himself, of the doctrines of Pythagoras.

Porphyrius published the fifty-four treatises of his master Plotinus,
the illustrious neoplatonist, a work in which we find all the ideas
of contemporaneous experimental psychology and a mystical philosophy
supported on extasy, contemplation and hypnotism—ideas which were again
enunciated one day by the enchanter Merlin, Albertus Magnus, Pic de
la Mirandolle, Lulle, Cornelius Agrippa, Count Saint Germain, Joseph
Balsamo, Robert Fludd, Richard Price and the _freres_ of _Rose Croix_.

But, before these, there were others who believed they preserved the
mysterious secrets of nature, the Illuminati, the seers and others
not our immediate ancestors; the Druids in the dark forests of Gaul,
along with the Druidesses. Both classes belonged to the Sacerdotal
order, and only received the vestures of their sacred ministry after
twenty years consecrated to the study of astrology, laws of nature,
medicine and the Kabbala. Their theodicy taught the existence of one
God alone and the immateriality of the spirit, called after death to
be reincarnated an indetermined number of times up to the point when
perfection was obtained; when a new, more divine and happy distinction
was achieved. It admitted as a principal religious dogma the ascendant
metempsychosis, as in the case of the first magi and the great
Greek philosophers; also a multitude of genii and superior spirits
intermediate between the Divinity and mankind.

The _Druids_ were not only the priests, but dictators of Gaul; they
were assisted in their functions by the _Eubages_, the soothsayers and
sacrifices of their religion, by the _Bards_, the poets and heralds,
and the _Brenns_, who participated in supreme power. Druidism was
then an admixture of warlike ideas of the first inhabitants of Gaul,
together with the doctrines imported by the Magii from Chaldea.
So the Druids were the astronomers, physicians, surgeons, priests
and lawgivers. The Druidesses, descendants of the Pythonesses and
Sibyls of the Orient, spoke in oracles and predicted the future;
their influence was considerable and often surpassed that of the
Druid priests themselves, for they knew just as well how to use the
Kabbala and magic; and besides, as virgins, consecrated depositaries
of the secrets of God, they stood high in the eyes of the people. It
is for this reason that the Druids and Druidesses were, under Roman
domination, the defenders of national independence; but, forced to
take refuge in dense forests far removed from the people, persecuted
by the Romans, barbarians and Christians, they progressively became
magicians, enchanters, prophets and charmers, condemned by the Councils
and banished by civil authority.

It is at this epoch that evil spirits were noticed prowling around
in the shadows of night and indulging in acts of obscene depravity.
There were the _Gaurics_, beings the height of giants; the _Suleves_,
beardless personages who were succubi, attacking travelers; and the
_Dusiens_ were incubi, demons who deflowered young girls during their
maiden slumbers.

Saint Augustin accorded his belief to all these fables, which were
retailed throughout the country, affirming that we have no right to
question the existence of these demons or libertine spirits, which make
impure attacks on persons while asleep. (_Hanc assidue immunditiam et
tentare et efficere_,—Saint Augustin, in his “City of God.”)

Decadence slowly ensued, so that in the seventh century Druidism
disappeared, but the practice of magic, occult art, and the mysterious
science of spirits were transmitted from generation to generation, but
lessened in losing the philosophic character of ancient times. In a
word, magic became sorcery, and its adepts were no longer recruited
save in the infamous and ignorant classes of society. The adoration of
nature and God, the immortality of the soul, the grand ceremonies held
at the foot of gigantic oak trees, gave way to hideous demons, gross
superstitions, witchcraft, and the most immoral abberations. Occultism
still subjugated the masses, but the science had fallen into the hands
of the profane and of charlatans.


Magic, or the science of magic, then served as a basis, as we have said
before, for mythology and legends and was noticeable in the dogmas of
all religions, for, as Saint Augustin observes, “In order to penetrate
the mystical senses of fictions and allegories, and the parables
contained in sacred history, it is necessary to be versed in the study
of occult science, of which numerals make part.”[51]

But from the Greek dæmon, or the _Sapiens_ of Plato, Christianity made
a demon, a fallen angel, who wished to people his empire with the
souls of the unbaptized; he is borrowed from the Jews with Beelzebub,
Asmodeus, Satan, and their numerous colleagues. After Jesus, who was
tempted by the Devil, and who delivered those possessed by devils, we
see the apostles and saints visited in turn by the angels of God and
also by spirits of evil, who fight battles among spiritual armies.
These are only visions, apparitions of angels or demons who are
vanquished before the anointed of the Lord.

Mankind wished to participate in the honors and emotions of
communicating with supernatural beings; it is for this purpose that
humanity addressed magicians and practitioners of Occultism. So we see
in the first ages of Christianity the Bishops were uneasy in regard to
magicians by reason of the popularity of the latter, notwithstanding
the peasantry had submitted to the dogmas of the Church.

Paul Lacroix, the learned bibliophile, cites as the most ancient
monument made mention of in this connection, an aggregation of shadowy
women collected for a mysterious purpose, who devoted themselves
to making magical incantations; this fragment is gathered from the
Canons of a Council which, he thinks, was held before the time of
Charlemagne. It treats of aerial flights that these sorcerers made,
or thought they made, in company with Diana and Herodias, _i.e._,
“_Illiud etiam non est omitendum quod quædam sceleratæ mulieres, retro
post Satanam conversæ, demonum illusionibus et phantasmatibus seductæ,
credunt et profitentur se nocturnis horis, cum Diana, dea paganorum,
vel cum Herodiate et innumera multitudine mulierum, equitare super
quasdam bestias, et multarum terrarum spacia intempestæ noctis silentio
pertransire ejusque jussionibus velut dominæ obedire, et certis
noctibus ad ejus servitium evocari_.”[52]

Which, being freely translated, reads: “We must not forget that
impious women devoted to Satan, were seduced by apparitions, demons
and phantoms, and avowed that during the night they rode on fantastic
beasts along with Diana, a Pagan goddess, or Herodias and an
innumberable throng of women. They pretended to traverse immense space
in the silence of the night, obeying the orders of the two demon-women
as those of a sovereign, being called into their service on certain
given occasions.”

We can understand from this that if Christianity silenced Pagan
oracles, it did not authorize magicians to put the spiritual world
aside. The clergy accepted the evidence of the witnesses of grace, but
refused that of the profane, who were only inspired by demons; they
recognized in the latter the power of giving men illusions of the
senses, of cohabiting with virgins under the form of _incubi_ and with
men under the form of _succubi_,—demons who could insinuate themselves
through natural orifices into all the cavities of the body, and possess

Theologians have described all the pains endured by those
possessed,—pangs in their thoracic and abdominal organs which, made
by the demons, forced their victims to speak, sing, move, to be in a
condition of anæsthesia or hyperæsthesia, following the imp’s will;
in other words, the possessed were subject to infernal action. To
the worship of spirits the first Bishops of the Church substituted a
foolish fear of demons.

From this exaggeration of the power of evil genii over man surged the
silly terrors and superstitious fears of damnation, which were the
starting-point of aberration among the first demonomaniacs. It was for
these unfortunates that the clergy invented exorcisms and great annual
ceremonies destined to deliver those possessed by demons, ceremonies
at which the Bishops convened the people and the nobles to assist, in
order to show the triumphs of the Church over Satan and his imps.

The theatrical arrangement of these assemblages certainly induced
some apparent cures—making the faithful cry out “a miracle, truly;”
but who does not know that all affections of the nervous system love
to be treated at the hands of thaumaturgists? To invent demons to
have the glory of defeating them and to deliver mankind from their
influence,—such appears to have been the objective point of the
primitive Christian Church. This was certainly a clever trick in
theological magic, and, if the end did not seem to justify the means to
critical philosophic eyes, we may admit, at least, that it was better
to exorcise the possessed than to burn them alive at the stake, as was
done some centuries later.

“This doctrine of demons was so intimately intermixed with the dogmas
of this perfected religious system by the Fathers of the Church,” says
Sprengel, that “it is not astonishing authors attributed many phenomena
of nature to the influence of demons.” One of the most celebrated
doctors of the Church, Origen, of Alexandria, in his _Apology for
Christianity_, remarks: “There are demons that produce famines,
sterility, corruption of the air, epidemics; they flutter surrounded
by fogs in the lower regions of the atmosphere, and are drawn by the
blood of their victims in the incense that the pagans offer them as
their Divinity. Without the odor of sacrifice, these demons could
not preserve their influence. They have the most exquisite senses,
are capable of the greatest activity, and possess the most extended

Saint Augustin had already written that demons were the agents of the
diseases of Christians, and attacked even the new-born who came to
receive baptism.

The Church taught that these demons acted through the intermediary of
fallen creatures who were in revolt against God and his holy ministers.
Such were the sorcerers and female mediums, who were met among ruins,
in rocky cavern, and in other hidden and obscure places. For a morsel
of bread or a handful of barley such creatures could be consulted;
one could demand from them the secrets of the future, instruments for
revenge, charms to secure love.

Among these sorcerers there were old panderers, who knew, from personal
experience, all practices of debauchery, and who gave the name of
_vigils_ to the saturnalia indulged in among villagers on certain
nights, gatherings composed of bawds and pimps, to which were invited
numerous novices in libidinousness. These sorcerers and witches also
knew the remedies that young girls must take when they wish to destroy
the physiological results of their imprudences, and what old men need
to restore their virility. They knew the medicinal qualities of plants,
especially those that stupified. Perhaps a few of these sorcerers
discovered, from magical incantations, the epoch of deliverance from
Feudal morals, the abolition of servitude, equality and liberty. One
thing is certain, however, _i.e._, that the clergy saw nothing in them
save enemies of the Church and religion, creatures who were dangerous
to society and deserving only destruction, _per fas et nefas_, by
exorcism, by fire—indeed, even by the accusations tortured out of
insane persons.

Thus, Pope Gregory IX., in a letter addressed to several German
Bishops in 1234, described the initiation of sorcerers as follows:
“When the master sorcerers receive a novice, and this novice enters
their assembly for the first time, he sees a toad of enormous size—as
large, in fact, as a goose. Some kiss its mouth, others its rear.
Then the novice meets a pale man, with very black eyes, and so thin
as to appear only skin and bones; he kisses this creature, too, and
feels a chill as cold as ice. After this kiss it is easy to forget the
Catholic faith. The sorcerers then assemble at a banquet, during which
a black cat descends from behind a statue that is usually placed in the
center of the gathering. The novice kisses the rear anatomy of this
cat, after which he salutes, in a similar manner, those who preside at
the feast and others worthy of the honor. The apprentice in sorcery
receives in return only the kiss of the master; after this the lights
are extinguished and all manner of impure acts are committed among the

This was the belief, then, of those who a few years later composed the
“_Tribunal of the Inquisition_” and accepted the banner of Loyola,
and shortly afterwards again a member of the congregation of Saint
Dominick and professor of theology, Barthelemi de Lepine, convinced
of the existence of demons and Demonidolators, showed himself to be
a furious adversary of the sorcerers in a famous dissertation, which
was immediately adopted by his co-religionists. He affirmed that “the
_possessed_ go to the _sorcerers’_ meetings in body or in spirit and
have carnal intercourse with the devil; that they immolate children,
transforming them into animals notably cats; that they have obscene
visions, and it is best to exterminate them, for their number is
growing legion.”

Barthelemi de Lepine, in speaking thus, only followed the traditions
of the Fathers of the Church; of Saint George, Saint Eparchius, Saint
Bernard, Innocent VIII., and of Antonio Torquemada, who were the
historians of the _incubi_ of their times, and launched anathemas
against the _possessed_ of the Demon of luxury.

The Jesuit father Costadau wrote, in his treatise _De Signis_,
_apropos_ of incubism: “The thing is too singular to treat lightly. We
would not believe it ourselves had we not been convinced by personal
experience with the Demon’s malice, and, on the other hand, find an
infinity of writings of the first order from Popes, theologians,
and philosophers, who have sustained and proved that there are men
so unfortunate as to have shameful commerce and other things more
execrable with such demons.”

Another Jesuit, Martin Antoine del Rio, published six books
(_Disquisitiones Magicæ_) in 1599, in which his credulity attained
the limit of fanaticism, thus making the good priest one of the most
redoubtable enemies of demonomania. Such were the doctrines on which
reposed the theocratical pretensions of the theologians.

It is not astonishing that the last years of the Middle Ages,
during the time religious struggles reached their highest period
of exacerbation, owing to the quarrels between the Court of Rome
and the Reformation, witnessed the multiplication in the number of
demonomaniacs to such an extent that the whole world commenced to
believe in the power of demons. “At this unfortunate time,” remarks
Esquirol, “the excommunicated, the sorcerers and the damned were
seen everywhere; alarmed, the Church created tribunals, before which
the devil was summoned to appear and the _possessed_ were brought to
judgment; scaffolds were erected, funeral pyres were lighted around
stakes, and demonomaniacs, under the names of sorcerers and possessed,
doubly the victims of prevailing errors, were burnt alive, after being
tortured to make them renounce pretended compacts made with the Evil
One. There was a jurisprudence against sorcery and magic as there
were laws against theft and murder. The people, seeing the Church
and Princes believing in the reality of these extravagances, were
positively persuaded as to the existence of demons.”

No authority raised itself to protect these miserable possessed
people; justice, philosophy, and science remained subjected to
theology, becoming more and more the accomplices of an autocratic and
ever-intolerant Church.

Among the magistrates, historians and publicists, who were the most
ardent supporters of the Inquisition, we may mention J. Bodin, of
Angers, who published, in 1581, a work entitled _Demonomanie_. He
shows that the victims of demonomania enjoy perfect integrity of the
mental faculties and are in every sense responsible, before Courts of
Ecclesiastical Justice and Parliaments, for their impure relations with
supernatural beings, and he logically concludes that all Demonomaniacs
should be committed to the stakes and burnt alive. “Meantime,” says
this amiable author, “we can deliver the possessed by exorcisms, and
animals may be thus exorcised as well as men.” To the support of his
thesis he then brings an immense collection of ridiculous stories,
which are not supported by evidence. He says: “Those possessed by
a demon can spit rags, hair, wood and nails from their mouths.” He
cites the case of a possessed woman who had her chin turned towards
her back, tongue pushed out of the mouth, a throat which furnished
sounds analogous to the crowing of a crow, the chatter of a magpie and
the song of the cuckoo. Finally, he pretends that the devil may speak
through the mouth of the possessed and use all the idioms, known and
unknown; that he can deflower young girls and give them voluptuous
sensations, etc.

This work of J. Bodin is, in reality, the argument of a public
prosecutor, presented with passion and prejudice, having all the
erroneous arguments of the Inquisitors, so that the latter were more
than satisfied at convincing the secular magistrates and fixing their
jurisdiction as to the crime of sorcery. On the other hand, the same
year that Bodin gave publicity to his inhuman side of the question,
the _Essays of Michel Montaigne_ appeared in Paris, in which this
celebrated writer appealed to philosophy. He demanded that human life
should be protected from fantastic accusations, and made that famous
response to a Prince who showed him some sorcerers condemned to death:
“In faith, I would rather prescribe hellebore than hemlock faggots, as
they appear to be more insane than culpable.” Montaigne concluded one
of his essays on this subject with the satirical remark: “It is placing
a high valuation on human conjecture when we cook a man alive for an

Meantime, Bodin had reasoned against Montaigne. But the one remained
the ignorant prosecutor of the Middle Ages, while the other was an
immortal philosopher, whom Colbert certainly quoted before presenting
to Louis XIV. the famous edict of 1682, which forbade in the future
“_the cooking alive of sorcerers_.”

Meantime, there was still a century to attain before one of the
Prime Ministers of France put an end to all trials for sorcery, and
during the intervening period there were other purveyors of the death
penalty by the stake-burners of the Inquisition; among these were the
celebrated Boguet, Criminal Judge of Bourgogne, and Pierre de l’Ancre,
his colleague of Aquitanus, cited by Calmeil as the most fanatical
judges of their day.

Boguet, in his _Discours des Sorciers_, wrote: “There were in France
only three hundred thousand under King Charles IX., and they have since
increased more than half as much again. The Germans prevent their
growth by burning at the stake; the Swiss destroy whole villages at
one time; in Lorraine the stranger may see thousands existing with but
few executions. It is difficult to understand why France cannot purge
itself of these creatures. These sorcerers walk around by thousands
and multiply on earth like caterpillars in our gardens. I wish I could
enforce punishment according to my ideas, for the earth would soon be
purged of those possessed. For I fain would collect them all in one
mass and burn them alive in a single bonfire.”

Pierre de l’Ancre, Councillor to the Parliament of Bordeaux, published
in 1613 his _Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et demons_,
and in 1622 his _Incredulite et mecreance du sortilege pleinement
convaincue_. In these two works the author treats all questions
regarding sorcery, and declares that in his capacity of judge he
believes it a mistake to spare the life of any individual accused
of magic, as he considers sorcerers _as the enemies of morality and
religion_, and accuses them of having found means of “ravishing women
even while they laid in the embraces of their husbands, thus forcing
and violating the sacred oaths of marriage, for the victims are
made adulterous even in the presence of their husbands, who remain
motionless and dishonored without power to prevent; the women mute,
enshrouded in a forced silence, invoking in vain the help of the
husband against the sorcerer’s attack, and calling uselessly for aid;
the husband charmed and unable to offer resistance, suffering his own
dishonor with open eyes and helpless arms.

“The sorcerers dance around the bed in an indecent manner, like at a
Bacchanalian feast, accoupling adulterously in a diabolical fashion,
committing execrable sodomies, blaspheming scandalously, taking
insidious carnal revenges, perpetrating all manner of unnatural acts,
brutalizing and denaturalizing all physical functions, holding frogs,
vipers, and lizards, and other deadly animal poisons in their hands,
making stinking smells, caressing with lascivious amorousness, giving
themselves over to horrible and shameful orgies.”

Thus says the Prosecutor of the Council of Bordeaux, but he fails
to support his statements by a single material fact, not even one
individual case being proven. His trials show nothing but a few poor
demented women, who responded always in the affirmative to the obscene
and indecent questions of the judges and prosecutors _employed by the
Most Holy Inquisition_.

A sad thing philosophy registers celebrated names during this Age.
We mention only those of Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Nicholas
Malebranche, Thomas Hobbes, Francis Bacon, Leibnitz, and the immortal
Newton. Unfortunately these great geniuses could not take part in
the struggle between the clerical party and free thinkers. Honored
as scholars, their Governments never asked their advice on questions
claimed to be under the control of religious orders. The clergy had all
the latitude they desired in writing the history of demonology, and
also the evidence wrung from those accused of sorcery—vague responses
drawn out by fear, by torture, by suggestion imposed in the obscurity
of a penitential tabernacle. A witness of veracity, as we have before
stated, never gave testimony as to the conduct of the sorcerers at the
secret vigils. Their invocations on initiation, their famous inunctions
used on the body, with magical ointments while in a condition of
absolute nudity; their equestrian position on broom sticks; their
flying tricks up the chimney and their bewitched reunions when horned
devils rode on their shoulders, are legendary recitals which could
only be accepted by ignorant fanatics and judges firm in the Faith.
How a man with the seeming intelligence of Prosecutor Bodin, who was
delegated by the State, who wrote six works on _The Republic_ and _The
Constitution_—works which have been compared in point of ability as
ranking with Montesquieu’s _Spirit of the Law_; how a publicist of
talent could support such stories as we have mentioned in his work on
sorcery is a matter of profound amazement. Yet, Bodin testifies as to
his faith in the story of that peasant of Touraine “who found himself
naked, wandering around the fields in the morning,” and who gave as
an explanation of his conduct that he had surprised his wife the night
before as she was making preparations to go to a sorcerers’ vigil, and
that he had followed his better half, accompanied by the Devil, as far
as Bordeaux, many leagues away. Bodin also believed the narration of
that girl from Lyons “whom the lover perceived rubbing herself with
magical ointment preparatory to attending a sorcerers’ vigil; and the
lover, using the same ointment, followed his girl and arrived at the
vigil almost as soon as she.”

As to that poor peasant who was found naked and alone in the field
and forced to denounce his wife to the authorities, Bodin remarks
impressively, “The woman confessed and was condemned to be burnt at the

Pierre de l’Ancre was never able to prove his stories by sentinels,
sergeants, guards, or policemen, as to the appearance of the demon he
described in his _Traite sur les demons_; a spirit that showed itself
as a large blood-hound or as a wild bull. It is true that in another
part of his book he demonstrates the changeable character of his Devil,
and gives the following description, which methinks is more worthy the
pen of an insane man rather than that of a magistrate: “The Devil of
the _sabbat_ (vigil) is seated in a black chair, with a crown of black
thorns, two horns at the side of the head and one in the forehead with
which he gores the assemblage. The Devil has bristling hair, pale and
troubled looking face, large round eyes widely opened, inflamed and
hideous looking, a goatee, a crooked neck, the body of a man combined
with that of a billy goat, hands like those of a human being, except
that the nails are crooked and sharp pointed at the ends; the hands are
curved backwards. The Devil has a tail like that of a jackass, with
which, strange to say, he modestly covers his private parts. He has
a frightful voice without melody; he preserves a strange and superb
gravity, having the countenance of a person who is very melancholy and
tired out from overwork.”

This was the spirit of the lieutenants of justice called on by the
Inquisitorial clergy to fix the penalty for the crime of sorcery.
“Sorcery being a crime,” say they with the spirit of conviction,
“consented to between man and the Devil; the man bowing to adore
Satan, and receiving in exchange a part of his infernal power.”

According to this compact, “The demon unites carnally with the sorcerer
and female medium likewise; these unite themselves with Satan, denying
God, Christ and the Virgin, and profaning all objects of sanctity by
their profane presence.

“They become zealots for evil and render eternal homage to the Prince
of Darkness.

“They are baptized by the Devil and dedicate to his service all
children born to them by nature.

“They commit incests, poison people, and bewitch and work cattle to

“They eat the carrion from the rotting bodies of hanged criminals.

“They enter into a Cabalistic circle laid out by the accursed one,
and matriculate in a secret order which is engaged in all manner of
outrages against society; they accept secret marks that affirm their
complete vassalage to Satan.

“Finally, they repudiate all authority other than that of the master
in the Cabala (Kabbala), and, abomination above all, _they incite the
people to revolt_.”

Meantime, while the Judges and Inquisitors pursued all intelligent
people with the most wicked determination, Leloyer published his
monograph on specters,[54] whose doctrines are closely connected with
modern Spiritualistic theories.

This celebrated Councillor wrote that the soul, the spiritual essence
which animates the organism, may be distracted and separated from the
body for an instant, as we see in cases of ecstacy.

Now, we know that this nervous phenomenon, which may be _natural_, when
connected with catalepsy, hysteria and somnambulism, or _provoked_ when
it is produced experimentally on subjects in a hypnotic condition,
almost always coincides with an acute moral impression and a suspension
of one or more of the senses. It is during the duration of this
phenomenon that the soul, according to Leloyer, performs far-off
journeys,—not orthodox, however, for we are told that during the period
of such ecstacies, following cataleptic immobility, seven of these
ecstatics were burned alive at Nantes in 1549.

In another chapter, he adds that souls may, after death, impress
themselves on our senses by taking fantastic forms. He supports
this opinion by the incident relative to a daughter of the famous
Juriscouncillor of the sixteenth century, Charles Dumoulin, who
appeared to her husband and told him the names of assassins; and of the
specter who informed the Justice of the crime committed by the woman
Sornin on her husband, that the soul of Commodus appeared so often to

The author of the _Spectres_ attributes to supernatural beings the
frights experienced by certain persons who live in haunted houses.
Every night they are awakened by the sound of noises,—blows resound
on the floor and raps come on the partitions; every few minutes there
are peals of ghostly laughter, whistling, clapping of hands to attract
attention; these nervous persons see spirits and are startled at sudden
apparitions of the dead; specters seize them by the feet, nose, ears,
and even go so far as sit on their chests. Such houses are said to be
the rendezvous of demons.

The persons spoken of by Leloyer _are to-day known as mediums producing
physical effects_, and the phenomena observed centuries since are
evidently the same as those investigated by William Crookes, with the
collaboration of Kate Fox and Home.[55]

“In the ecstacy of sorcerers,” resumes Leloyer, “the soul is present,
but is so preoccupied by the impressions that it receives from the
Devil, that it cannot act on the body it animates. On awaking, such
ecstatics may remember things they have seen, events in which they have
assisted, as in the case when the soul temporarily abandons its earthly

Meanwhile, it is but fair to observe that the author makes certain
reservations; he admits that ecstacy and hallucination may be provoked
by a pathological condition of the nervous system, and are not always
the result of the work of demons. He also comments on a certain number
of vampires remaining in a lethargic sleep, from a nervous condition,
after returning from a sorcerer’s vigil, a fact which, according to
Calmeil, was of a nature to throw the theories of the Councillors of
the Inquisition into disfavor.

The theory of the author of _Spectres_ resembles considerably, as will
at once be noticed, that of the first Magii and the modern doctrine
of Spiritualism. Leloyer, besides, has gathered a number of facts to
support his affirmations; among others, he cites the observation given
him by Philip de Melanchton, the learned Hellenist and author of the
famous confession of Augsburg. This was a spiritual manifestation
experienced by the widow of Melanchton’s uncle: One day, while weeping
and thinking of the dear lost one, two spirits appeared to her
suddenly,—“one habited in the stately, dignified form of her husband,
the other specter in the garb of a gray friar. The one representing her
husband approached her and said a few consoling words, touched her hand
and disappeared with his monkish companion.”

Melanchton, although one of the chiefs of the Reformation, was still
imbued with the ideas of the Romish Church; after some hesitation he
concluded that the specters seen by his aunt were demons. The same
phenomena have been observed by modern _mediums_; William Crookes, the
celebrated London scientist, relates facts to which he has been witness
which are even more extraordinary than the one we have just narrated.

Jerome Cardan, of Paris, the celebrated mathematician, renowned for
his discovery of the formula for resolving cubic equations, solemnly
affirmed that he had a protecting spirit, and never doubted the reality
of this apparition. Cardan also tells how his father one evening
received a visit from seven specters, who did not fear to enter into an
argument with the learned old man.

Imagination, exalted by chimerical fear of demons, sees the work of
these evil-doing spirits on every hand, in gambling, in sickness, in
accidents, in infirmity, in all the ordinary accidents of life. The
sorcerers are accused of attacking man’s virility by witchcraft. The
victims say that some one has knotted their private organs (_noue
l’aiguilette_). This pretended catastrophe in magic, the origin of
which dates back to times of antiquity, may be classed among abnormal
physiological effects under the influence of a moral cause, fear,
timidity, and certainly the suggestion of a feeble mind.

Such are the sorcerers that Bodin accuses, perhaps not without reason
always, since we see that impotency in some young melancholic subjects
who appear easily impressed with fantastic notions.

“Sorcerers,” says Bodin, “have the power to remove but a single organ
from the body, that is, the virile organ; this thing they often do
in Germany, often hiding a man’s privates in his belly, and in this
connection Spranger tells of a man at Spire who thought he had lost
his privates and visited all the physicians and surgeons in the
neighborhood, who could find nothing where the virile organs had once
been, neither wound nor scar; but the victim having made peace with the
sorcerer, to his great joy soon had his treasure restored.”

There was no need of this kind of witchcraft, _pour nouer
l’aiguilette_, in a timid boy, already subjugated by fear of the devil.
Certainly, if the sorcerers had ideas of that force which is known
to-day as _suggestion_, they could very easily destroy the virile power
of the subject by governing his will and thoughts, his physical and
moral personality. When we can confiscate the physical anatomy of a
man he is reduced to all manner of impotencies. Who will affirm that
suggestion is not one of the mysteries of sorcery?


After the theosophists, theurgists, and the priests, we will now
interrogate the writings of the physicians of antiquity and of the
Middle Ages, as to this question of spirits and their connection with
the affairs of mankind.

We see that Galen is often drawn away by the beliefs of his time, to
the most ridiculous prejudices and fancies, and that he is the defender
of magical conjurations. He claimed that Æsculapius appeared to him one
day in a dream and advised bleeding in the treatment of pleurisy by
which he was attacked.

After Galen, Soranus of Ephesus used magical chants for curing certain
affections. Scribonius Largus, a contemporary of the Emperor Claudius,
indicated the manner of gathering plants, so that they might possess
the strongest healing properties (the left hand must be raised to
the Moon). Plants thus gathered cured even serpent bites. Archigenes
suspended amulets on the necks of his patients. And although Pliny
often declared that he wished “to examine everything in nature and
not to speculate on occult causes” he reproduces in his works all the
superstitious practices employed in medicine.

In the sixth century, Ætius, physician to the Court of Constantinople,
acquired great surgical renown by the preparation of applications of
pomades, ointments, and other topical remedies, in which superstition
played a leading _role_.[56] Thus, in making a certain salve it was
necessary to repeat several times in a low voice, “May the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob accord efficacy to this medicine.” If one had
a foreign body in the throat it was necessary to touch the neck of the
patient and say, “As Jesus Christ raised Lazarus, and Jonah came out
of a whale, come out thou bone”; or, better still, “The Martyr Blase
and the Servant of Christ commands thee to come out of the throat or
descend to the stomach.”[57]

After Ætius, we see Alexander of Tralles indulge in the same follies.
In the colic he bids us use a stone on which is represented Hercules
seated on a lion, a ring of iron on which was inscribed a Greek
sentence, and, on the other, the diagram of the Gnostics (a figure
composed of two equilateral triangles); and he adds that sacred things
must not be profaned.

Against the gout, the same Alexander of Tralles recommended a verse
from Homer, or, better still, to engrave on a leaf of gold the words
_mei_, _dreu_, _mor_, _phor_, _teus_, _za_, _zown_. He conjured, by the
words _Iao_, _Sabaoth_, _Adonai_, _Eloi_, a plant he employed in the
same disease. In quotidian fever he advised an amulet made of an olive
leaf on which was written in ink, _Ka Poi. A._[58]

In the thirteenth century, Hugo de Lucques said a _Pater noster_ and
other prayers to the Trinity to cure fractures of the limbs. But
in the following century astrology replaced the magic of religious
superstition. Arnauld de Villeneuve attributed to each hour of the
day a particular virtue which influenced, according to the influence
of the horoscope, the different parts of the body. According to
Arnauld, we can use bleeding only on certain days when such and such
a constellation is in place, and no other time; but the position of
the moon more particularly needed attention. The most favorable time
for phlebotomy was when Luna was found in the sign of Cancer; but the
conjunction of the latter with Saturn is injurious to the effects of
medicines, and especially of purgatives.[59]

His contemporary, Bernard de Gordon (of Montpellier), gives as a sure
method of hastening difficult accouchments the reading of passages from
the Psalms of David. He explains the humors of certain hours of the day
in the following manner: the blood in the morning moves towards the
sun, with which it is in harmony; but it falls towards evening, because
the greatest amount of sanguification occurs during sleep. In the third
hour of the day the bile runs downwards, to the end that it may not
make the blood acid;[60] the black bile moves at the ninth hour and the
mucus towards evening.

The efficacy of precious stones for bewitching, and many other
superstitious ideas, were likewise noted by medical authors, notably
Italian writers, as, for instance, Michel Savonarola, Professor at
Ferrara, one of the most celebrated physicians of his age. In Germany,
Agrippa of Nettesheim, philosopher, alchemist and physician, had a
predilection for magic and the occult sciences, if we are to judge from
his works published in 1530 and 1531, _i.e._, _De incertitudianæ et
vanitate scientiarum_, _De occulta philosophia_, in which he mentions
action induced at a distance and forsees the discovery of magnetism.

Like him, his contemporaries, Raymond Lulle, in Spain, and J. Reuchlin,
published books on the Cabala (_Kabbala_), and, in Italy, Porta
founded, at Naples, the _Academy of Secrets_, for the development
of occult sciences, which are explained in his treatise _De Magia

At almost the same epoch, Paracelsus, Professor at Basle, claimed that
he possessed the universal panacea; that he had found the secret of
prolonging life, by magic and astrology, for he diagnosed diseases
through the influence of the stars. After him, Van Helmont defended
animal magnetism, and gave himself up to the study of occult science,
in company with his student, Rodolphe Goclenius.

In the sixteenth century, Fernel, who, inasmuch as he was a
mathematician and an astronomer, published his _Cosmotheria_, where he
indicated the means of measuring a meridian degree with exactitude; his
remarkable works on physiology (_De naturali parte medicinæ_, 1542),
on pathology and therapeutics, which gave him the nickname of the
French Galen. Fernel fully admitted the action of evil spirits on the
body of man; he believed that adorers of the Demons could, by the aid
of imprecations, enchantments, invocations and talismans, draw fallen
angels into the bodies of their enemies, and that these Demons could
then cause serious sickness. He compared the _possessed_ to maniacs,
but that the former had the gift of reading the past and divining the
most secret matters. He affirmed that he had been witness of a case of
delirium caused by the presence of the Devil in a patient, that which
was denied by several doctors at the epoch.[61] He also believed in
lycanthropy.... In the same century, another of our medical glories,
Ambroise Pare, the Father of French surgery, also adopted the theory
of the Inquisitors regarding sorcery in his works,[62] in which may
be found his remarkable anatomical and surgical discoveries. We read
the following quaintly conceived passage: “Demons can suddenly change
themselves into any form they wish; one often sees them transformed
into serpents, frogs, bats, crows, goats, mules, dogs, cats, wolves,
and bulls; they can be transmuted into men as well as into angels
of light; they howl in the night and make infernal noises as though
dragging chains, _they move chairs and tables_, rock cradles, turn the
leaves of books, count money, throw down buckets, etc., etc. They are
known by many names, such as cacodemons, incubi, succubi, coquemares,
witches, hobgoblins, goblins, bad angels, Satan, Lucifer, etc.

“The actions of Satan are supernatural and incomprehensible, passing
human understanding, and we can no more understand them than we can
comprehend why the loadstone attracts the needle. Those who are
possessed by demons can speak with the tongue drawn out of their mouth,
through the belly and by other natural parts; they speak unknown
languages, cause earthquakes, make thunder, clear up the weather, drag
up trees by the roots, move a mountain from one place to another, raise
castles in the air and put them back in their places without injury,
and can fascinate and dazzle the human eye.

“_Incubi_ are demons in the disguise of men, who copulate with female
sorcerers; _succubi_ are demons disguised as women, who practice vile
habits not only on sleeping, but wakeful men.”

“Ambroise Pare,” says Calmeil, “believed that demons _hoarded up
all kinds of foreign bodies in their victims’ persons_, such as
old netting, bones, horse-shoes, nails, horsehair, pieces of wood,
serpents, and other curious odds and ends, and cites the wellknown case
of Ulrich Neussersser.”

The celebrated surgeon concludes from this that “it was the Devil
who made the iron blades and other articles found in the stomach and
intestines of the unfortunate Ulrich.”

What would Pare have thought had he seen the strange objects so
commonly found by modern surgeons in ovarian cysts? How many demons
would it take to produce the numerous objects noticed at the present

Happily these demonological physicians accepted purely and simply the
suggestion that demons could act on men, and abandoned the victims to
the tender mercy of the theologians and their tools the lawyers. Yet,
even in this time of atrocities there were a few courageous physicians
who struggled for humanity as against ecclesiastical despotism. Let us
quote, according to Calmeil, one Francoise Ponzinibus, who destroyed
one by one all the arguments that served to support the criminal code
against demons. It was this brave doctor who dared to write that
demonidolatry constituted a true disease; that all the sensations
leading the ignorant to believe in _spirits_ who adored the Devil were
due to a depraved moral and physical condition; that it was false that
certain persons could isolate their souls from their bodies at night
and thus leave their homes for far off places inhabited by demons;
that the accouplement of sorcerers and all the crimes attributed to
them could not be logically supposed but must be legally proven; that
it was cruel and atrocious to burn demented people at the stake for

Let us also quote from Andre Alciat, another courageous physician, who
dared accuse an Inquisitor of murdering a multitude of insane people on
the plea of witchcraft. He considered the vigil (_sabbat_) of sorcerers
as an absurd fiction, and saw in so-called _possessed_ only so many
poor demented women given over to fanatical delusions and wild dreams.

Paul Zacchias, the author of “Medico-Legal Questions” (_Questiones
Medico-legales_), a work in which he shows himself to be as wise
an alienist as Doctor of Laws. The avowed and open enemy of
supernaturalism, he boldly denounced the cruelties committed against
the demented.

Let us finally inscribe on the roll of honor, with our respects, the
name of Jean Wier,[63] or rather of Joannes Wierus, physician to the
Duke of Cleves, who studied in Paris, where he received the degree
of doctor, and was afterwards the disciple of Cornelius Agrippa,
a partisan of demonology. Like the latter, Jean Weir believed in
astrology, alchemy, the cabala, sorcerers and female mediums; likewise
in demons who possessed control of human beings through magic power.
But in his works that he published in 1560 he proclaims the innocence
of those unfortunates punished for witchcraft, and declares them to
have been insane and melancholic; likewise asserting that they could
have been cured by proper treatment. He declares that he is fully
persuaded that sorcerers, witches, and lycanthropic patients who were
burned at the stake were crazy people whose reason had been overthrown;
and that the faults imputed to these unfortunates were dangerous to
none but themselves; that the possessed were dupes to false sensations
that had been experienced during the time of their ecstatic transports
or in their sleep.

Weir[64] insisted that the homicidal monomania attributed to the
inhabitants of Vaud should not be credited, and was not except by fools
and fanatics; while the so-called vampires, whose blood was shed on the
banks of Lake Leman, the borders of the Rhine, and on the mountains of
Savoy, had never been guilty of crimes, nor murders especially, and
cites cases of condemnation where the _insanity_ or _imbecility_ of the
victims was incontestible. He declares, in general, that all sorcerers
are irresponsible, that they are insane, and that the devils possessing
them can be combatted without exorcism. “Above all,” says he to the
judges and executioners, “do not kill, do not torture. Have you fear
that these poor frightened women have not suffered enough already?
Think you they can have more misery than that they already suffer?
Ah! my friends, even though they merited punishment, rest assured of
one thing, _that their disease is enough_.” Beautiful words, worthy
of a grand philosopher. Born in the sixteenth century, he believed in
magic and sorcery; but as a physician he pleaded for the saving of
human life, and as a man he frowned down the crimes committed on the
scaffold. “The duty of the monk,” says he, “is to study how to cure the
soul rather than to destroy it.” Alas! he preached his doctrine in the
barren desert of ecclesiastical fanaticism.

Although, less well known than those names just mentioned, we must
not forget to note that group of talented men who contributed with
Ponzinibus, Alciat, Zacchias and Jean Wier in the restoration to
medicine of the study of facts, thus freeing the healing art of many
speculative ideas derived from the Middle Ages; we allude to such men
as Baillou, Francois de la Boe (_Sylvius_), Felix Plater, Sennert,
Willis, Bonet, and many other gallant souls who assisted in freeing
medicine from the religious autocracy that overshadowed it,—men who
were the _avant couriers_ of modern positivism.

Many of those who had preceded these writers had been learned men and
remarkable physicians, to whom anatomy, clinical medicine and surgery
owed important discoveries, but the majority of these were not brave
enough to defend their intelligence against religious superstitions.
In some instances, indeed, they were even the criminal accessories of
the theologians and inquisitors. In acting in adhesion to Demonological
ideas, their very silence on grand psychological questions evidences
their weakness,—we are sorry to say this,—and lowers them from the high
position of humanitarians; the masses of the people of the Middle Ages
owed the majority of their medical savants nothing on the score of
liberty of conscience.


In order to fully comprehend the Demonomania of the Middle Ages, it is
necessary to previously analyze the different elements composing the
medical constitution of the epoch, and, investigate under what morbid
influences such strange _neuroses_ were produced.

These influences, we shall find from thence, in the state of
intellectual and moral depression provoked by the successive
pestilential epidemics, which, from the sixth century decimated the
population of Western Europe; in the disposition of the human mind
towards supernaturalism, which had invaded all classes of society; in
the terrors excited by the tortures of an ever flaming and eternal
hell; in the fright, caused by the cruel and atrocious decisions of
brutal Inquisitors, and their fanatical tools, the officers of the
law. We find too, that a frightful condition of misery had weakened
the inhabitants of city and country, morally and physically, inducing
a multitude of women to openly enter into prostitution for protection
and nutrition, owing to the iniquity of a despotic regime; then too,
there were added bad conditions of hygiene and moral decadence, so that
intelligence was sapped and undermined, together with a breaking down
of the vitality of the organism.

In the recital of the miseries of the Middle Age, made by a master
hand, by an illustrious historian, who bases his assertions on antique
chronicles whose veracity cannot be questioned, we read the following:
“Society was impressed with a profound sentiment of sadness, it was
as though a pall of grief covered the generation; the whole world
given over to plagues; the invasion by barbarians; horrible diseases;
terrible famines decimating the masses by starvation; violent wind
storms; greyish skies with foggy days; the darkness of night casting
its shroud everywhere; a cry of lamentation ascends to Heaven through
all this gruesome period. That sombre witness, our contemporary Glaber,
fully indicates the position of society devoured by war, famine and the
plague. It was thought that the order of seasons and the laws of the
elements, that up to that period governed the world, had fallen back
into the original chaos. It was thought that the end of the human race
had arrived.”[65]

When the epidemic of Demonomania attacked the earth, at the end of
the fifteenth century, more than ten generations had undergone the
depressive action of the superstitions and false ideas spread broadcast
by religion. Heredity had prepared the earth, the human mind being in
an absolute condition of receptivity for all pathological actions. The
education of children was confined to teaching them foolish doctrines,
diabolical legends, mysterious practices that weakened their judgments.
With the progression, from childhood to majority, a vague sentiment
of uneasiness was experienced with a constant preoccupation on the
subject of conscience and sin. In full adult age, as we have observed,
came religious monomania, with acute sexual excitement, and persistent
erotic ideas.

Arriving at this phase of the situation, some became theomaniacs,
others demonomaniacs, saying they were possessed by sorcery, under the
influence of genesic and other senses, with psychal hallucinations, and
in some cases, psycho-sensorial illusions. These fictitious perception
were produced either through the influence of the mind, assailed by
supernatural conceptions, or by morbid impressions transmitted most
often by the great sympathetic, or, finally, by an unknown action
arising from the exterior.

Under the influence of these hallucinations, which manifested
themselves in a state of somnambulism, or during physiological sleep,
the recollection persisting to the after awakening, the Demonomaniac
responded to those asking questions, that he had heard the confused
noises made by the sorcerers at their _vigil_, had heard also the
conversation of the devils, and had seen scenes of the wildest
prostitution enacted by the demons; that fantastic animals were
perceived; that strange odors of a diabolical nature, the savor of
rotten meat, and corrupt human flesh, tainted blood of new born babes,
and other noisome things had been smelled; that these effluvias were
horrible, repulsive, nauseating, combined with the stink of sorcerers
and the sulphurous vapors of magical perfumes; that he felt himself
touched by supernatural beings who had the lightness of smoke or mist,
and wafted away in the air. The hallucinations of the genital senses
had led him to believe he had carnal connection, always of a painful
nature, with succubi. When the victim to these delusions was a woman,
she had the impression of having been brutally violated or deflowered,
and some women declared they oftentimes experienced the voluptuous
sensations of an amorous coition.

These hallucinations developed one after the other; those belonging to
the anesthetized class, coming first, those belonging to the genesic
class, coming last. The complexity of their symptoms produced what
we call _dedoublement_, or a dual personality. Those _possessed_,
claimed to be in the power of a demon, who entered their body by one
of the natural passages, sporting with their person, placing itself in
apposition with any place in their organism, proposing all sorts of
erotic acts, natural and unnatural, whispering shameless propositions
in their ears, blasphemy against God, forcing them to sign a contract
with the Devil in their own blood.

The nervous state in which such weak minded creatures were found,
victims to nocturnal hallucinations, insensibly induced a species of
permanent somnambulism, during which they acquired a particularly
morbid personality. They affirmed themselves to be sorcerers possessed
by demons. When this personality disappeared, and the patient returned
to a normal condition, a simple suggestion was all sufficient to cause
the reappearance of the hallucination. This explains why so many
individuals accused of sorcery, denied at first what they afterwards
affirmed. When the Judge demanded with an air of authority, what
they had done at the witch meeting, (_vigil_), they entered into a
most precise recital of minute details, and all the circumstances
surrounding the nocturnal reunions of demons and their victims; and, by
reason of this crazy avowal, or so called confession were burned at the
stake for participation in diabolical practices.

In the _Chronicles of Enguarrand, of Monstrelet_, a truthful and
trustworthy historian of the incidents of his time, we find a
description of the famous _epidemics_ of sorcery in Artois, which
caused such a multitude of victims to be burnt at the stake, by order
of the Inquisition. The facts recounted by this celebrated writer
support the interpretations we have given to these phenomena. He
expresses himself as follows:

“In 1459, in the village of Arras, in the country of Artois, came a
terrible and pitiable case of what we named _Vaudoisie_. I know not
why.” “Those possessed, who were men and women, said that they were
carried off every night by the Devil, from places where they resided,
and suddenly found themselves in other places, in woods or deserts,
when they met a great number of other men and women, who consorted with
a large Devil in the disguise of a man, who never showed his face.
And this Demon read, and prescribed laws and commandments for them,
which they were obliged to obey; then made his assembled guests kiss
his buttocks; after which, he presented each adept a little money,
and feasted them on wines and rich foods, after which the lights were
suddenly extinguished, and strange men and women knew each other
carnally in the darkness, after which they were suddenly wafted through
space, back to their own habitations, and awakened as if from a dream.

“This hallucination was experienced by several notable persons of the
city of Arras, and other places, men and women, _who were so terribly
tormented, that they confessed_, and in confessing, acknowledged that
they had seen at these witch reunions many prominent persons, among
others, prelates, nobles, Governors of towns and villages, _so that
when the judges examined them, they put the names of the accused in the
mouths of those who testified_, and they persisted in such statements
although forced by pains and tortures to say that they had seen
otherwise, and the innocent parties named were likewise put in prison,
and tortured so much, that confessions were forced from them; and
_these too, were burned at the stake most inhumanely_.

“Some of those accused who were rich and powerful escaped death by
paying out money; others were reduced into making confessions on the
promise that in _case they confessed their lives and property would be
spared_. Some there were indeed who suffered torments with marvelous
patience, not wishing to confess on account of creating prejudice
against themselves; many of these gave the Judges large bribes in money
to relieve them from punishment. Others fled from the country on the
first accusation, and afterwards proved their perfect innocence.”[66]

Calmeil considers this narrative of so-called sorcery as a delirium,
prevailing epidemically in Artois, where “many insane persons were
executed,” although he is forced to add: “these facts lead us to
foresee what misfortunes pursued the false disciples of Satan in former

These neuroses of the inhabitants of Artois had already been observed,
almost half a century previous, among a class of sectarians by the name
of the _Poor of Lyons_. These people were designated in the Romanesque
tongue as _faicturiers_, the word _faicturerie_ meaning sorcerer, or
one who believes in magic. Demonomania then evidently dated back to the
very commencement of the Middle Ages.

The judgment of the tribunals of Arras, which condemned the sorcerers
of Artois to be burned alive at the stake, is a curious document in
old French, which merits a short notice at least, for it is supported
on the following considerations, which were accepted as veracious,
although merely the delirious conceptions of ignorant peasants:

“When one wished to go to the witch reunion (_vigil_), it was only
necessary to take some magical ointment, rubbed on a yard stick, and
also a small portion rubbed on the hands. This yard stick or broomstick
placed between the legs, permitted one to fly where he willed over
mountain and dale, over sea and river, and carried one to the Devil’s
place of meeting, where were to be found tables loaded down with fine
eatables and drinkables. There was also the Devil himself, in the form
of a monkey, a dog or a man, as the case might be, and to him one
pledged obedience and rendered homage; in fact one adored the Devil and
presented unto him his soul. Then the possessed kissed the Devil’s
rear—kissing it goat fashion in a butting attitude. After having eaten
and taken drink, all the assemblage assumed carnal forms; even the
Devil took the disguise of man or sometimes woman. Then the multitude
committed the crime of sodomy and other horrible and unnatural
acts—sins against God that were so wholly contrary to nature that the
aforesaid Inquisitor says he does not even dare to name, they are too
terrible and wicked ever to mention to innocent ears, crimes as brutal
as they were cruel.”[67]

Among these sorcerers there was a poet, a painter and an old Abbot, who
passed for an amateur in the mysteries of Isis. Perhaps the Inquisition
pursued such individuals as sorcerers and heretics, knowing them to be
given over to debauchery. Similar things occurred as before said very
early in the Middle Ages.([68])

As also before mentioned, there were demons who cohabited with women at
night, and sometimes with men, called _incubi_ and _succubi_, following
as they were active, (_incubare_, to lie upon), or passive, (_sub
cubare_, to lie under).

Calmeil has written, that virgins dedicated to chastity by holy laws
were frequently visited by these demons, disguised in the image of
Christ, or of an angel, or seraphim. Sometimes the Devil took the form
of the Holy Virgin, and attempted to seduce young monks from paths of
piety. “Having impressed the victims with the power of beauty,” says
the sage alienist,([69]) “the wicked demon then got into the bed of the
young girl, or young man, as the case might be, and sought to seduce
them through shameful practices. The Gods, so say the ancients, often
sought the society of the daughters of Princes; these pretended Gods
were nothing but demons. A Devil possessed Rhea, under the form of
Mars, and this succubus passed for Venus the day Anchises thought he
cohabited with the Godess of beauty.

“The demon incubi accosted by preference fallen women, under the form
of a black man, or goat. From times immemorial, damned spirits have
attacked certain females, under the form of lascivious brutes. Hairy
satyrs or shags, fauns and sylvains were only disguised incubi.

The connections between the _possessed_ and _incubi_ were often
accompanied by a painful sensation of compression in the epigastric
region, with impossibility of making the least movement, the victim
could not speak or breathe. She had all the phenomena noticeable in an
attack of nightmare. Meantime, some had different sensations. A nun of
Saint Ursula, named Armella, said that she seemed “always in company
with demons who tempted her to surrender her honor. During five months,
while this combat lasted, it was impossible to sleep at night, by
reason of the specters, who assumed varied and monstrous shapes.”[70]
This virtuous nun preserved her chastity notwithstanding the frightful

Angele de Foligno accused the incubi, says Martin del Rio, of beating
her without pity, of putting fire in her generative organs, and
inspiring her with infernal lubricity. There was no portion of her body
that was not bruised by the attack of these demons, and the lady was
not able to rise from her bed.

Another nun, named Gertrude, cited by Jean Wier, avowed that from the
age of fourteen years, she had slept with Satan in person, and that the
Devil had made love to her, and often wrote her letters full of the
most tender and passionate expressions. A letter was found in this poor
nun’s cell, on the 25th of March, 1565. This amorous epistle was full
of the details of the Demon’s nocturnal debaucheries.

Bodin, in his “Demonomania” gives the observation of Jeanne Hervillier,
who was burned alive, by sentence of the Parliament of Paris. She
confessed to her Judges, that she had been presented to the Devil, by
her grandmother, at the age of twelve years. “A Devil in the form of a
large black man, who dressed in a black suit and rode a black horse.
This Devil had carnal intercourse with her, the same as men have with
women, only without seed. This sin had been continued every ten, or
fifteen days, even after she married and slept with her husband.”

This same author reports many instances of the same kind. Among others,
that of Madelaine de la Croix, Abbess of a nunnery in Spain, who went
to Pope Paul III., confessing, that from the age of twelve years,
she had relations with a demon, _in the form of a Moor_, and, that
for more than thirty years this commerce had been continued. Bodin
firmly believes, that this nun had been presented to Satan, “_from
the belly of her mother_,” and affirms that “such copulations are
neither illusions, nor diseases.” In his work, he also gives extracts
of the interrogatories put to the Sorcerers of Longni, in the presence
of Adrien de Fer, Lieutenant General of Laon. These sorcerers were
condemned to be burnt at the stake, for having commerce with incubi.
He mentions Marguerite Bremond, who avowed that she had been led off
one evening, by her own mother, to a reunion of Demons, and “found in
this place six devils in human shape, but hideous to behold. After the
demon dance was finished, the devils returned to the couches with the
girls, and one cohabited with her for the space of half an hour, but
she escaped conception, as he was seedless.”

One of the distinctive characters of demons, was their infectious
stink, which exhaled from all portions of the body. This odor
attributed to the Devil was an hallucination to the sense of smell
which entered, like those of the genesic sense, into all the complex
hallucinations of Demonomania.

Examples of men cohabiting with demons, are cited by many authors of
the Middle Ages. Gregory of Tours has left us the record of Eparchius,
Bishop of Auvergne, who cohabited with succubi.

Jerome Cardan, physician and Italian mathematician, tells of a priest
who cohabited for over fifty years, with a demon disguised as a woman.

Pic de Mirandolle, relates how another priest had commerce for over
forty years with a beautiful succubus, whom he called Hermione. Bodin
recounts the story of Edeline, the Prior of a religious community in
Sorbonne. An adversary of Demonomaniacal doctrines, Edeline was accused
by the theologians of defending demons. Before the Tribunal the Prior
declared that he had been visited by Satan, in the form of a black ram,
and had prostituted his body to an incubus, and only obeyed his master
in preaching that sorcery was a chimerical invention. “Although the
proof furnished by the registers of the Tribunal of Poitiers,” remarks
Calmeil, “leaves no doubt as to the alienation of the intellectual
faculties at the moment of his trial, Edeline was none the less
condemned to perpetual seclusion from the world.”

As another striking example of hallucination, bearing upon this
question of incubism, Guibert de Nogent tells of a monk, “who was sick,
and retained the services of a Jew doctor. In exchange for health, the
aforesaid physician, demanded a sacrifice. ‘What sacrifice?’ asked
the monk. ‘The sacrifice of that which is the most precious to men,’
answered the Jew. ‘What may that be?’ inquired the monk. And the
demon, for it was the Devil disguised as a doctor, had the audacity to
explain. ‘Oh curses! Oh shame! to require such a thing of a priest’—but
the victim, nevertheless, did what was asked. It was the denial of
Christ and the true faith.”

Like psycho-sensorial hallucinations of the other senses, that of
the genesic sense may assume the erotic type of disease, and is due
undoubtedly, in some men, to a repletion of the spermatic vesicules. It
is this that Saint Andre, physician in ordinary to Louis XIV., gives
as an explanation of incubism. “The incubus,”[71] says this writer,
“a chimera that had for its foundation only a dream, an over excited
imagination, too often a longing after women; artifice had no less a
part in the creation of the incubus,—a woman, a girl, only a devotee in
name, already long before debauched, but desiring to appear virtuous
to hide her crime, passes off the offenses of some lover as the act of
a demon; this is the ordinary explanation. In this artifice the woman
is often aided by the _suggestions_ of the man—a man who has heard
_succubi_ speaking to him in his sleep, usually sees most beautiful
women in his dreams, which, under such circumstances, are often

It is certain that an ardent imagination and exaggerated sexual
appetite have played a leading _role_ in the history of _incubi_, but,
meantime, there may be exceptions.

Nicholas Remy, Inquisitor of Lorraine, has given a description of
_impurities_ committed between demons and sorcerers, according to the
testimony given by those _possessed_.[72] Fortunately, he has only
given a Latin version of what they have told him. He states: “_Hic
igitur, sive vir incubet, sive succubet fœmina, liberum in utroque
naturæ debet esse officium, nihilque omnino intercedere quod id vel
minimum moretur atque impediat, si pudor, metus, horror, sensusque,
aliquis acrior ingruit; il icet ad irritum redeunt omnia e lumbis
affœaque prorsus sit natura_.”

Then comes the sentence of the four girls of Vosges, according to
the confessions, who were named Nanette, Claudine, Nicola, and
Didace, and of whom Nicholas Remy, fortunately for the masses of the
profession, only speaks in Latin, lest modesty be shocked at the
narration. “_Alexia Drigæa recensuit doémoni suo pœnem, cum surrigebat
tentum semper extitisse quanti essent subices focarii, quos tum
forte præsentes digito demonstrabat; scroto ac coleis nullis inde
pendentibus_, etc.” (We forbear from further quotation and for fuller
particulars refer the reader to the original.)

Were these girls attacked by a malady, a complex hallucination of the
senses that led them to firmly believe they were possessed or owned
by a supernatural being who obliged them to abdicate their free will
in his favor? Were they only, after all, prostitutes suffering from
nymphomania? We can only insist that prostitution, or a low standard
of morality, enters largely into the history of those _possessed_ by

Aside from imaginary _vigils_ (Sabbat), supposed to be frequented
by those who were really insane, it is well to remember there
were numerous houses of prostitution, conducted by old bawds and
unscrupulous panderers, where nightly orgies occurred and scenes of
wild debauchery were common. The real sorcerers boasted of their magic
and their relations with demons, but, in reality, they knew nothing
except the art of compounding stupefying drugs, of which they made
every possible use. Having passed their entire lives in vice, their
passions, instead of becoming extinct, were exalted by age. “Before
ever becoming sorcerers,” remarks Professor Thomas Erastus, “these
_lamia_ (magicians) were libidinous and in close relation with the Evil

Pierre Dufour, the celebrated bibliomaniac, made a very lengthy and
learned investigation as to the connection of sorcery with the social
evil, and reaped a veritable harvest of facts, duly authenticated by
the histories of trials for the crime of Demonidolatry, arriving at the
conclusion that sorcery made fewer dupes than victims. Says Dufour:
“Aside from a very small number of credulous magicians and sorcerers,
all who were initiated in the mysteries served, or made others serve,
in the abominable commerce of debauchery. The _vigil_ offered a fine
opportunity as a spot for such turpitudes. Such reunions of hideous
companies of libertines and prostitutes was for the profit of certain
knaves, and the sorcerers’ assemblage was patronized by many misguided
young women, who fell from grace through libidinous fascination.”

Meantime, sorcery persisted always, notwithstanding judgments and
executions. In the year 1574, on the denunciation of an old demented
hag, eighty peasants were burned alive at Valery, in Savoy. Three years
later nearly four hundred inhabitants of Haut-Languedoc perished for
the same offense. In 1582 an immense number of so-called sorcerers were
executed at Avignon. From 1580 to 1595 nine hundred persons accused of
witchcraft were put to death.

In 1609, in the country of Labourde (Basses Pyrenees), the prisons were
overcrowded with men, women and children accused of sorcery. Fires for
stake-burnt victims lit up all the villages in the Province, and the
courts spared no one. Many of these unfortunates accused themselves
of believing in the demons of sorcery and having visited diabolical
gatherings (_vigils_), where they had prostituted themselves to incubi.
Others, to whom the death penalty was meted out, were innocent persons
who had been _informed against_, but these, too, although denying all
charges, were condemned to be burnt alive.

The same year some of the inhabitants of the country of Labourde, who
had sought refuge in Spain, were accused of having carried demons into
Navarre. Five of these unfortunates were burnt at the stake by order of
the Inquisition, one woman being strangled and burned after her death.
Even bodies were exhumed to be given to the flames. Eighteen persons
were permitted to make penance for their alleged sorceries.

During two years, 1615 and 1616, twenty cases of Demonidolatry were
punished in Sologne and Berry; these persons were accused of being at
a vigil, without having been anointed with frictions however. An old
villain, aged seventy-seven years, named Nevillon, pretended to have
seen a procession of six hundred people, in which Satan took the shape
of a ram, or buck, and paid the sorcerers eight sous, for the murder
of a man, and five sous for the murder of a woman. They accused him of
having killed animals by the aid of his bewitchings. Nevillon was hung
along with those he accused. Another peasant, by the name of Gentil
Leclercq, avowed that he was the son of a sorcerer, that he had been
baptized at the _vigil_, by a demon called _Aspic_; he was condemned to
be hanged, and his body was burnt. The same it was in the case of a man
called Mainguet and his wife, together with one Antoinette Brenichon,
who asserted they had all three visited a witch reunion in company.

An accusation of anthropophagy was launched against the inhabitants
of Germany, by Innocent VIII., in 1484, and a hundred women were also
accused of having committed murders, and cohabiting with demons.

The Inquisitors inspired the story of Nider, on the Sorceries of the
Vaudois. They found, according to the testimony of certain witnesses,
that these Vaudois cut the throats of their infants, in order to
make magical philters, which would permit them to traverse space
to attend the _vigil_ of the witches, (_Sorcerers_). Other persons
_accused themselves_ of cohabiting with demons; some pretended they
had caused disasters, floods and tempests, by the influence they had
through Satan. Many submitted to the most horrible tortures with an
insensibility so complete, that the theologians concluded that the
fat of the first born males procured this demonological faculty for
bearing pain. This general anæsthesia permits us to affirm that these
unfortunates were neuropathic.

It would be a difficult matter to establish the exact number of victims
offered up to the fanaticism of the Inquisition. Already, in 1436, the
inhabitants in the country of Vaud, Switzerland, had been accused of
anthropophagy, of eating their own children, in order to satisfy their
ferocious appetites. Some one said they had submitted to the Devil,
and raised the outcry that they had eaten thirteen persons within a
very short time. Immediately the Judge and the Prosecutor of Eude,
investigated the story. Failing to obtain the proof of eye witnesses,
they subjected, according to Calmeil, hundreds of unfortunates to the
tortures of the rack, after which a certain number were burned at the
stake. Entire families overpowered by terror, fled from home, and found
refuge in more hospitable lands; but fanaticism and death followed them
like a plague.[74]

The moral and physical torture, undergone by those who were suspected
of this anthropophagical sorcery, made some of the victims confess that
they had the power to kill infants, by uttering charm words, and that
ointments made of baby fat gave them the power to fly through the air
at pleasure; that the practice of Demonic science permitted them to
cause cows and sheep to abort, and, that they could make thunder and
hail storms, and destroy the crops of others; that they could create
flood and pestilence, etc. This was the anthropophagical epidemic of

The same observations might be made regarding what was known as
lycanthrophy, which always arose among the possessed and sorcerers;
that is to say crazy people, especially those of the monomaniac type,
accused themselves and others with imaginary crimes, in confessions
made to judges. As an example, we can cite the case of the peasant,
spoken of by Job Fincel, and also one mentioned by Pierre Burgot,
of Verdun, who did not hesitate to assert themselves to be guilty
of lycanthrophy. They were burned alive at Poligny, but the remains
of the five women and children, whose flesh they pretended to have
devoured, were never found. In order to transform themselves into
wolves, they claimed to use a pomade given them by the Devil; and,
while in a certain condition, they copulated with female wolves. Jean
Wier has written long essays on this last case of lycomania, and
thinks the malady of these two men was due to narcotics, of which they
made habitual use; but Calmeil is inclined to consider, that in a
general manner, lycomania is a partial delerium confined to homicidal
monomaniacs. This appreciation of the case seems justified by the
similar one of Gilles Gamier, who was convinced that he had killed four
children, and eaten their flesh. He was condemned to be burnt at the
stake at Dole, as a wehr-wolf, (_loupe garron_), and the peasants of
the suburbs were authorized by the same order to kill off all men like
him. But we must not conclude from this particular instance, that a
general law existed on the subject.

In 1603, the Parliament of Bordeaux, thought itself liberal in
admitting attenuating circumstantial evidence, in the case of a boy
from Roche Chalais, named Jean Grenier, who was accused of lycanthropy,
by three young peasants. In the trial, no attempt was made to find
evidence, the accused confessed all that was desired, and he was
sentenced to imprisonment for life, before which verdict was announced,
the Court said, that having taken into consideration the age and
imbecility of this patient, who was so stupid that an idiot or child of
seven years would know better, it added mercy to the judgment.”

He was then one of the imbeciles of the village, such as we see in
asylums for insane, whose presence we rid ourselves of by isolation in
charitable institutions.

At the same epoch, in the space of two years, 1598 to 1600, we can
count the number of poor wretches of the Jura, whose poverty compelled
them to beg nourishment, and who were almost all condemned to death as
Demonidolators and lycanthropes. Ready and only too willing to leave
this world, these poor people answered all questions as to accusation
in the affirmative, and went to death with the greatest indifference.
The infamous prosecutor, Bouget, who was sent into the Jura as a
criminal agent, boasted that he had executed alone more than six
hundred of these innocents.

The Inquistorial terror then reigned supreme; and it was only with
extreme difficulty, at that time, that a poor idiot, named Jacques
Roulet, condemned to death as a lycanthrope by the criminal Judge of
Angers, was placed in an asylum for idiots, by order of the Parliament
of Paris; this, too, in the seventeenth century.


The demonomaniacal hysteria of the Cloister, of which we have
enumerated a few examples of a most remarkable kind, was present, in
the Middle Ages, in the form of an epidemic neurosis, characterized
by complex disturbances of the nervous system between the life of
relation and of organic life; that is to say, by functional symptoms
dependent on the general sensibility of the organs of sense, the active
organs of movement, and the intelligence. In our observations we shall
consequently recognize:

_Hyperæsthesia and spasm of the stomach and abdominal organs_, in the
hallucination of poisoning by witches.

_Hyperæsthesia of the ovary and the uterus and vagina_, from the
hallucination of painful cohabitation with incubi.

_Spasms of the pharynx and laryngeal muscles_: coughs, screams and
barks of the prodromic period to convulsive attacks.

_Vaso-motor disturbances_, in the cutaneous marks, which are attributed
to the Devil, but are simply produced by contact with some foreign body.

_Somnambulism_, in the execution of movements (sometimes in opposition
with the laws of equilibrium), in a lucid state of mind, outside the
condition of wakefulness, with or without mediumistic faculties and
the conservation of memory; in the perception of sensations, without
the intervention of the senses; in sensorial hallucinations produced
by a simple touch; in _ecstasy_, with loss of tactile sense and
hallucinations of vision.[75]

_Suggestion_, unconsciously provoked in rapid modifications of
sensibility, in alterations of motility, in automatic movements
executed in _imitation_ (_one form of suggestion_), or by the
domination of a foreign willpower, and, in general, _in the penetration
of an idea or phenomenon into the brain_, by word, gesture, sight, or

_Catalepsy_, in the immobility of the body, the fixity of the regard,
and the rigidity of the limbs in all attitudes, that we desire to place
them (_a very rare_ phenomenon).

_Lethargy_, in the depression of all parts of the body, and a
predisposition on the part of the muscles to contract.

_Delirium, finally_, in the impossibility of hoping to discern false
from true sensations.

We find, after this, that in analyzing the principal symptoms of
hystero-demonomania, we easily note the characteristics of ordinary
hysterical folly; we see that _it always attacks_ by preference the
impressionable woman. She who is fantastic, superstitious, hungry for
notoriety, full of emotions,—one who possesses to the highest degree
the gift of assimilation and imitation,—the subject of nightmare,
nocturnal terrors, palpitations of the heart; a woman fickle in
sentiment, one passing easily from joy to sadness, from chastity to
lubricity,—a woman, in a word, who is capable of all manner of deceit
and simulation, a natural-born deceiver.

The attacks of delirium among hystero-demonomaniacs have always a
pronounced acute character; but, although violent and repeated, they
are liable to disappear rapidly, and are often followed by relapse.
These attacks of delirium are observed:

1. _Before the convulsive attacks_, under the form of melancholia or
agitation, with hallucinations of sight and hearing.

2. _During convulsive attacks_, in the period of passional attitudes,
under the most varied forms, by gestures in co-ordination with the
hallucinations observed by the mind of the patient; we often see such
persons express the most opposite sentiments—piety, erotism, and terror.

3. _After convulsive attacks_, in the form of despair, shame, rage,
sadness, with an abundant shedding of tears.

4. _Without convulsive attacks_; in that case, the delirium may occur
at any period; it is masked hysteria, which has a very great analogy to
masked epilepsy.

The delirium of these patients, _en resume_, has for essential
characteristics, exaltation of the intelligence, peculiar fixity of
ideas, perversion of the sentiments, absence of will power, tendency
to erotism. In a number of observations on delirium among hysterical
cases in a state of hypnotism recently published, patients have been
noted who believed that they cohabited with cats and monkeys, while
some had hallucinations of phantoms and assassins—visions that resulted
from complex hallucinations and have a certain similarity to those of
hystero-demonomania observed in the Middle Ages; and, if the demons
did not actually play the principle _role_ in these hallucinations, it
is because the imagination had not the anterior nourishment and belief
in supernaturalism and no faith in the sexual relations of demons with

It was in 1491, about the time Jeanne Pothiere was on trial, that it
was noticed that young girls in religious communities were subject
to an epidemic mental affection, which led its victims to declare
that they had fallen into the power of evil spirits. This species of
delirium betrayed itself to the eyes of its observers by a series of
strange and extravagant acts. These patients at once pretended to be
able to read the future and prophesy. (See Calmeil, work cited.)

Abusive religious practices, false ideas of the future life, a tendency
to mysticism, the fear of Hell and the snares of the Devil, the
development of hysterical neurosis, in one subject, into suggestion
inherent to imitation; such was the succinct history of the epidemic
of the nuns of Cambrai. Jeanne Pothiere, their companion, denounced by
them, was condemned to perpetual imprisonment, for having cohabited
“434 times” (so the nuns said) with a Demon, and having introduced the
lustful devil into their before peaceful convent. For it could have
been nothing less than a demon that chased the poor young nuns across
the fields and assisted them to climb trees, where, suspended from the
branches, they were inspired to divine hidden things, to foretell the
future, and be the victims of convulsions.

Sixty years later, in 1550, there suddenly occurred a great number of
hystero-demonomaniacal epidemics similar to that in the convent of
Cambrai. The nuns of Uvertet, following a strict fast, were attacked
by divers nervous disorders. During the night they heard groans,
when they burst out in peals of hysterical laughter; following this
manifestation, they claimed they were lifted out of their beds by a
superior force; they had, at the same time, contractions in the muscles
of the limbs and of the face. They attacked each other in wild frenzy,
giving and taking furious blows; at other times they were found on
the ground, as though “inanimate,” and to this species of lethargy
succeeded a maniacal agitation of great violence. Like the nuns of
Cambrai, they climbed trees and ran over the branches as agile as
so many cats, descending head downwards with feet in the air. These
manifestations were, of course, attributed to a compact with the Devil,
and the officers of the law, acting on the accusations of these nuns,
arrested a midwife residing in the neighborhood, on the charge of
witchcraft (_sorcery_). It is needless to add that the midwife died
soon after.

A neurosis almost similar occurred the same year among the nuns at
Saint Brigette’s Convent. In their attacks these nuns imitated the
cries of animals and the bleating of sheep. At chapel one after the
other were taken with convulsive syncope, followed by suffocation and
œsophageal spasms, which sometimes persisted for the space of several
days and condemned the victims to an enforced fast. This epidemic
commenced after an hysterical convulsion occurred in one of the younger
nuns, who had entered the convent on account of disappointment in love.
Convinced that this unfortunate creature had imported a devil into the
religious community, she was banished to one of the prisons of the

At about this same time another epidemic of hystero-demonomania broke
out at the Convent of Kintorp, near Strasbourg. These nuns insisted
that they were possessed. Convulsions and muscular contractions which
followed these attacks, along with delirium, were attributed to
epilepsy. Progressively, and as though by contagion, all the nuns were
stricken. When the hysterical attack arrived they uttered howls, like
animals, then assaulted each other violently, biting with their teeth
and scratching with finger-nails. Among those having convulsions the
muscles of the pharynx participated in the general spasmodic condition.
The attack was announced by a fetid breath and a sensation of burning
at the soles of the feet. One day some of the young sisters denounced
the convent cook, Elise Kame, as a sorcerer, although she suffered
like the others from convulsive hysteria. This accusation finished
the poor girl, who, together with her mother, was committed alive to
the flames. Their death, most naturally, did not relieve the convent
of the disease; the nervous malady, on the contrary, spread around
in the neighborhood of the institution, attacking married women and
young girls, whose imaginations were overpowered by the recital of
occurrences within the convent walls.

We must admit that at that period doctors confounded hysteria with
epilepsy. Spasms of the larynx, muscular contractions that we of the
present day can provoke experimentally, as well as other phenomena
of hysterical convulsions in somnambulic phases of hypnotism, were
considered at that period only the manifest signs of diabolical
possession. As to the stinking breath, which revealed the presence
of the Devil among the nuns, that is a frequent symptom in grave
affections of the nervous system; it is often a prodroma of an attack
or series of maniacal convulsions. We have found that this fetidity of
breath coincides with the nauseating odor of sweat and urine, to which
we attribute the same semeological value as that of the mouth.

Another epidemic of hysterical convulsions, complicated with
nymphomania, occurred at Cologne in 1554, in the Convent of Nazareth.
Jean Wier, who was sent to examine these patients, recognized that the
nuns were possessed by the Demon of lubricity and debauchery, who ruled
this convent to a frightful extent.

P. Bodin has himself furnished the proofs; it was this author who
wrote the history of erotic nuns. He remarks: “Sometimes the bestial
appetites of some women lead them to believe in a demon; this occurred
in the year 1566, in the Diocese of Cologne, where a dog was found
which, it was claimed, was inhabited by a demon; this animal bit the
religious ladies under their skirts. It was not a demon, but a natural
dog. A woman who confessed to sinning with a dog was once burned at

“But it may be that Satan is sometimes sent by God, as certain it is
that all punishment comes from him, through his means or without his
means to avenge such crimes, as happened in a convent in Hesse, in
Germany, where the nuns were demonomaniacs and sinned in a horrible
manner with an animal.”

Thus says Bodin, the public prosecutor of sorcerers among the laity and
the religious orders. Would he not have shown much greater wisdom if he
had humanely judged the actions of mankind, and had condemned as social
absurdities the innumerable convents and monasteries to which the
fanaticism of the Middle Ages attracted so many men and women who might
have followed more useful avocations? The convulsions of nymphomaniac
girls were very wild, and diversified by curious movements of the
pelvis, while lying in a position of dorsal decubitus, with closed
eyelids. After such attacks these poor nervous nuns were perfectly
prostrated, and only breathed with the greatest difficulty. It was thus
with young Gertrude, who was first attacked by a convulsive neurosis
which it was claimed had been induced by nymphomaniac practices in the
convent, and that evil spirits possessed these nuns.

In 1609, hystero-demonomania made victims in the Convent of Saint
Ursula, at Aix. Two nuns were said to be _possessed_; these were
Madeleine de Mandoul and Loyse Capel. They were exorcised without
success. Led to the Convent of Saint Baume, they denounced Louis
Gaufridi, priest of the Church of Acoules of Marseilles, as being a
sorcerer, who had bewitched them.

The Inquisitor Michaelis has left us the history of this trial by
exorcism. These patients had all the symptoms of convulsive hysteria,
with nymphomania, catalepsy, and hallucinatory delirium. This Judge,
however, only saw in these manifestations the work of several demons,
who tormented these nuns one after, the other, at the instigation of
the priest, Louis Gaufridi, who was arrested, tried, condemned by the
executioner, and led to the gallows with a rope around his neck, in
bare feet, a torch in hand; thus punished, the unfortunate and innocent
priest fell into a state of dementia, and while in this condition
confessed that he was the author of the nuns’ demonomania.

As soon as Gaufridi had been sentenced to death by the Inquisition,
the nuns of Saint Brigette’s Convent, at Lille, who had assisted at
the exorcism of the nuns of Saint Ursula, in turn were attacked by
hystero-demonomania. The report soon spread that they, too, were
possessed, and the Inquisitor Michaelis came to Avignon to exorcise the
demons. One of these nuns, Marie de Sains, suspected of sorcery, was
sent to jail. Three of her companions, treated by exorcism, denounced
the unfortunate girl as a witch. Marie de Sains, who, up to this time,
had asserted innocence, finished by declaring herself guilty towards
the rest of the nuns in the cloister. The demons found under the
nuns’ beds were placed there, according to Marie’s statement, by the
unfortunate Gaufridi.

She testified that, “the Devil, to recompense the priest, gave him the
title of ‘Prince of Magicians;’ and promised me,” added the nun, “all
kinds of sovereign honors for having consented to poison the other
nuns’ minds by witchcraft. Sister Joubert, Sister Bolonais, Sister
Fournier, Sister Van der Motte, Sister Launoy, and Sister Peronne, who
were first to have symptoms of _possession_ through diabolical power,
soon fell under the action of the potent philter. The witchcraft was
made with the host and consecrated blood, powdered billy goat horns,
human bones, skulls of children, hair, finger-nails, flesh, and seminal
fluid from the sorcerer; by adding to this mixture pieces of the human
liver, spleen, and brain, Lucifer gave to the hideous melange a virtue
of terrible strength. The sorcerers who gave this horrible concoction
to their acquaintances not only destroyed them, but also a large number
of new-born children.”

This unfortunate, besides, accused herself of having caused the death
of a number of persons, including children, the mother, and often
godmother; she claimed to have administered debilitating powders to
many others. She confessed to casting an evil spell on the other
nuns, which had given them over to lubricity; declared she had been
to the witch _vigils_ and cohabited with devils, and that she had
also committed sodomy, had intercourse with _dogs_, _horses_, and
_serpents_; finally, she acknowledged that she had accorded her favors
to the priest, Louis Gaufridi, whereas the nun was really innocent.

Marie de Sains was found guilty of being possessed by a demon. She was
exorcised and condemned to perpetual imprisonment and most austere
penances by the Court of Tournay.

Immediately after the trial of Marie de Sains another nun, Simone
Dourlet, was tried for the crime of sorcery, and by force of torture
and _suggestions_, she admitted to have been at a witch _vigil_ and was
guilty. The history of this poor girl is revolting, for not only was
she innocent of all crimes imputed to her, but she was not even sick.
She was the victim of the hallucinations of her companions.

Another form of hystero- or hysterical demonomania was observed the
same year near Dax, in the Parish of Amon, where more than 120 women
were attacked by _impulsive insanity_, following the expression of
Calmeil, but which has been designated by others as the _Mal de Laira_.
This neurosis, which was only a variety of hysteria, was characterized
by convulsions and loud barking. De L’Ancre gives an interesting
description of this outbreak, but does not fail to attribute the
affection to sorcerers. “It is a monstrous thing,” says he, “to see in
church more than forty persons, all braying and barking like dogs, as
on nights when the moon is full. This music is renewed on the entrance
of every new sorcerer, who has perhaps given the disease to some other
woman. These possessed creatures commence barking from the time they
enter church.”

The same barking symptoms were noticed in dwellings when these witches
passed along the street, and all passers by commenced to bark also when
a sorcerer appeared.

The convulsions resembled those noticed in enraged insane persons.
During the attack the victims would wallow on the earth, beating the
ground with their bodies and limbs, turning their violence on their own
persons without having will power to control their madness for evil
doing. According to Calmeil their cases were rather hysterical than of
an epileptic type.

A very remarkable fact in regard to this neurosis was that those women
who howled were exempt from convulsions and reciprocally. These howls
or barks were comparable to the cries uttered by the nuns of Kintorp
and the bleatings of the sisters of Saint Brigette.

We have also the record of a German convent, where the nuns meowed like
cats, and ran about the cloister imitating feline animals.

It is useless to add that the _Mal de Laira_ was a cause of several
condemnations of nuns who admitted they had bewitched their

Among the numerous trials for Demonidolatry, that which has been most
noted was certainly the case of Urbain Grandier, and the Ursulines of
Loudun, from 1632 to 1639.

The Convent of Loudun was founded in 1611 by a dame of Cose—Belfiel.
Only noble ladies were received therein—Claire de Sazilli, the
Demoiselles Barbezier, Madmoiselle de la Mothe, the Demoiselles
D’Escoubleau, etc. These titled ladies had all received brilliant
educations, but had submitted to life in a nunnery by vocation. Seven
of these young women were suddenly attacked by hallucinations. They all
claimed to be victims of witchcraft.

During the night these girls went in and out of the convent doors,
sometimes standing on their heads, as is the case with certain
individuals subject to natural somnambulism. These nuns all accused a
chaplain of the order recently deceased of causing their troubles, and
several of the ladies claimed that the chaplain’s ghost made shameful
propositions to them.

The disease grew worse from day to day, until Justice was called on
to interfere, when the nuns changed their minds and declared that the
real cause of their possession was in reality one Urbain Grandier,
priest to the Church of Saint Pierre of Loudun, a man distinguished for
his brilliant intelligence, perfect education, but rather given to
gallantry, and a desire for public notoriety.

Was it Mignon, the new chaplain of the order, who _suggested_ to the
nuns their pretended persecutor?

That was the story, but Urbain Grandier attached no importance to the

The attacks of the nuns increased more and more, however, and were
complicated with catalepsy, ecstasy and nymphomania, the victims making
obscene and shameful remarks. Then exorcisers were called in, but met
with no success. These ladies on the contrary endeavored to provoke
the priests by lascivious gestures and indecent postures. Some of them
wriggled over the floor like serpents, while others moved their bodies
backwards so that their heads touched their heels, a motion, according
to eye-witnesses, made with the most extraordinary quickness. At times
the nuns screamed and howled in unison like a chorus of wild beasts.

A historian of the time, De Le Menardy, witness _de visu et de auditu_,
has written: “In their contortions they were as supple and easily bent
as a piece of lead—in such a way that their bodies could be bent in
any form—backwards, forwards and sidewise, even so the head touched
the earth, and they remained in these positions up to such a time as
their attitudes might be changed.” These movements were especially
produced during the time of the attempted exorcisms. At the first
mention of Satan “they raised up, passed their toes behind their necks,
and, with legs separated, rested themselves on their perinæums and
gave themselves up to indecent manual motions.” They were delirious at
this time from demonomanical excitement. Madam de Belfiel claimed to
be sitting on seven devils, Madam de Sazilli had ten demons under her,
while Sister Elizabeth modestly asserted her number of imps to be five.

During the exorcisms these poor women _fell sound asleep_, which
induces Calmeil to think “the condition of these women resembled
closely that of _magnetic somnambulists_.” This supposition would
permit us to explain the impossibility of the nuns telling on certain
days what they had said or done during the course of a nervous attack.
The days when they escaped _contortions_—when they were to the
contrary violently exalted by the nature of these tactile and visceral
sensations—they recalled too much, for the power of reflection
disgusted these unfortunates with their own vile and uncontrollable
acts and assertions.

This epidemic had continued fifteen months, and all the Ursuline nuns
had been attacked by the epidemic when Laubardemont, one of the secret
agents of the Cardinal Richelieu, arrived at Loudun to examine into the
alleged Demonidolatry said to exist in the convent. The Cardinal had
given this agent absolute and extended power. Urbain Grandier, who was
the author of a libel against Richelieu, was arrested for complicity
in this sorcery, and brought before a commission of Justices, whose
members had been chosen by Laubardemont. He was confronted by the nuns,
invited to exorcise them, and then subjected to most cruel tortures.
Iron needle points were stuck in his skin, all over the body, in order
to find anæsthetised points, which were the pretended marks of the

Notwithstanding his protestations of innocence, the Judges taking
the acts of the accusers while in the poor priest’s presence, for
his appearance was the signal for scenes of the most violent frenzy,
condemned the man to be tied to a gallows alive. There he was subjected
to renewed tortures, while the various muscles of his body were torn
apart and his bones broken.

The punishment of Urbain Grandier did not put an end to the epidemic
of hysterical demonomania among the Ursulines, for the malady extended
to the people of the town, even to the monks who were charged with
conducting the exorcisms; but the vengeance of his Red Eminence
(Cardinal Richelieu) was satisfied.

Many commentaries have been made since then on this outbreak of
Demonidolatry among the Ursulines. These we have no desire to reproduce
nor to discuss, as it would only tend to show the ancient ignorance
prevailing regarding diseases of the nervous system, and the want of
character and weakness of the physicians of that epoch, together with
the fanaticism of the monks and priesthood. One thing, however, appears
to be worthy of remembrance; that is the analogy between the convulsive
symptoms observed among the nuns and the phenomena of somnambulism
described by Calmeil. This fact appears to us as so much the more
remarkable, as the learned doctor of Charenton was a declared adversary
of magnetism, and published his work almost half a century since—that
is, in 1845.

The sleep into which the nuns fell during the period of exorcism,
the forgetfulness of the scenes witnessed where they had played such
a _role_, are, to our mind, only phenomena of hypnotism, and the
resemblance is so strong that we do not believe it would be impossible
to artificially reproduce another epidemic of hysterical demonomania.

Let us for an instant accept the _hypothesis_ of a convent, where
twenty young nuns are confined. Of these at least ten will be subject
to hypnotism. Let us now admit that these recluses, living the
ordinary ascetic and virtuous life of the cloister, plunged deeply in
the mysticisms of the Catholic faith, receive one day as confessor
and spiritual director a man of energetic character, knowing all the
practices of _hypnotism_ and of _suggestion_—a disciple let us say
of Puel, Charcot, De Luys, Barety, Bernheim—a perfect neurologist.
Now, if this man cared to magnetize individually each of these nuns
in the silence and obscurity of the confessional, and should then
suggest to them that they were _possessed_ by all the demons known to
sorcery, what would occur? Let us suppose again that he should carry
his physiological power further and put his _subjects_ into an ecstacy,
catalepsy or lethargy—into a condition where marked hallucinations
might occur and nervous excitation be provoked, how long would it be
before this man could make these women similar to those who once lived
in the convent of the Ursulines at Loudun?

We have not admitted this fiction for the purpose of having any one
conclude that the possessed of Loudun were the mere playthings of
some person who used hypnotism in an interest that we ignore; but, if
this fact may be considered possible by the will of an individual,
who can affirm at this day that there does not exist an unknown
force, intelligent or not, capable of producing the same pathological
phenomena observed long ago? What we call, in 1888, hypnotism in the
amphitheatres of our universities, we reserve for another chapter,
where we will give revelations much more extraordinary, and also more
supernatural; our chapter on the neurology of the nineteenth century
will, we promise, be _very interesting_.

Let us yet remark that the hystero-demonomaniacal manifestations were
not peculiar to the Ursulines of Loudun. They have been observed in
many convents in the same conditions of habits and prolonged fastings
among debilitated young girls; from long vigils spent in prayer and
nervous depression, caused by over-religious discipline; by mystical
exhortations from a man invested in a sacred character, on whom fall
all the discussions, all the entreaties, and all the thoughts of the
girls in the cloister.

The history of the nuns of Loudun was identically reproduced under
the same conditions among the sisters of Saint Elizabeth’s Convent
at Louviers, in 1643, three years after the execution of poor Urbain
Grandier for witchcraft.

In a short time eighteen nuns were attacked with hysterical
demonomania; they had active hallucinations of all the senses,
convulsions, and delirium. Like the Ursulines, they blasphemed,
screamed, and gave themselves over to all manner of strange
contortions, claiming to be _possessed_ by demons, describing in
obscene terms the orgies of the witch vigil (_Sabbat_), perpetrating
all varieties of debauchery, even unknown to the vilest prostitutes;
after this they finally accused one or more persons of bewitching them
through sorcery.

The nuns of Louviers, for instance, after being duly exorcised
according to the Canons of the Church, accused as the author of their
affliction, and as a bad magician, their old time confessor, the Abbot
Picard, who died before their symptoms were developed; then they
accused another priest, by the name of Francois Boulle, and several of
their companions, notably Sister Madeleine Bavan. These innocent people
were tried by the Parliament of Rouen, who ordered that the body of the
priest, Picard, should be exhumed, carried to the stake, there tied to
the living body of Francois Boulle, and after being burnt their ashes
should be cast to the winds. This execution, in the open air, occurred
in the seventeenth century, in the “Old Market Place” at Rouen, at the
spot where Joan d’Arc had also been burnt alive for being _possessed_,
as was claimed, by supernatural beings. What a comment on intelligence
in an age of partial enlightenment!

In order to close this chapter on hysterical demonomania among
religious orders, of which we have given some examples, we shall
cite an interesting relation left us by the Bishops and Doctors of
Sorbonne, together with the testimony of the King’s deputies, regarding
the _possession_ of nuns at the Convent of Auxonne. Here there were
always convulsions and screams, with blasphemy, aversion to taking the
sacraments, possession, and exorcisms; and there was, undoubtedly, the
phenomenon of _suggestion_ observed with much precision.

We might say that the nuns of Auxonne were accessible to suggestion;
for, at the command or even the thought of the exorcists, they fell
into a condition of somnambulism; in this state they became insensible
to pain, as was determined by pricking Sister Denise under the
finger-nail with a needle; they had also the faculty of prosternating
the body, making it assume the form of a circle,—in other words, they
could bend their limbs in any direction.

The Bishop of Chalons reports that “all the before mentioned girls,
secular as well as regular, to the number of eighteen, _had the gift of
Language_, and responded to the exorcists _in Latin_, making, at times,
their entire conversation in the classical tongue.

“Almost all these nuns had a full knowledge of the secrets and inner
thoughts of others;[78] this was demonstrated particularly _in the
interior commandments_, which had been made by the exorcists on
different occasions, which they obeyed exactly ordinarily, _without the
commandments being expressed to them either by words or any external

“The Bishop himself, among others, experimented on the person of Denise
Pariset, to whom, _giving a command mentally to come to him immediately
and be exorcised_, whereupon the aforesaid nun immediately came to him,
although her residence was in a quarter of the village far removed
from the Episcopal residence. She said on these occasions that she was
commanded to come; and this experiment was repeated several times.

“Again, in the person of Sister Jamin, a novice, who on hearing the
exorcism, told the Bishop his interior commandment made to the Demon
during the ceremony. Also, in the person of Sister Borthon, who, being
_commanded mentally_ to make her agitations violent, immediately
prostrated herself before the Holy Sacrament, with her belly against
the earth and her arms extended, executing the command at the same
instant, with a promptitude and precipitation wholly extraordinary.”[79]

Here, I believe, are facts so well authenticated of transmission of
thought or of mental _suggestions_, perhaps _voluntarily unknown_ to
certain modern neurologists. These neuropaths of Auxonne presented
still more extraordinary phenomena; at the word of command they
suspended the pulsations of the pulse in an arm, in the right arm, for
example, and transfered the beatings from the right arm to the left
arm, and _vice versa_. This fact was discovered by the Bishop, and
many ecclesiastics verified the same, and “it was promptly done in the
presence of Doctor Morel, who recognized and makes oath to the fact.”

We cannot dwell too long on the Demonomania of the Middle Ages, to
which we have, perhaps, added some historical facts which are new and
which we believe it to be our duty to publish, seeing a connection with
modern hypnotism. We shall thus open a new field for investigation on
strange affections, classed up to the present time in all varieties
of monomania, but which appear to us to belong to a variety of mental
pathology independent of insanity, properly speaking. If it were
otherwise it would be necessary to recognize as crazy persons, not only
the Demonomaniacs of the Middle Ages, but also the Jansenists, who went
into trances, and the choreics and convulsionists (_convulsionnaires_)
of the eighteenth century. They were certainly not crazy, those who
came to the mortuary of Saint Medard, to the tomb of the Deacon Paris,
to make an appeal against the Papal bull of Clement XI. And was it
not another cause than auto suggestion, to which it is necessary to
attribute the nervous phenomena that the _appelants_ exhibited during
thirty consecutive years?

The exaltation of religious ideas, so often advanced by psychologists,
cannot account for these phenomena. I have seen palpable proofs of
this in the various accidents that suddenly overcame sceptics and
strong-minded men of modern times, who came as amateurs to assist at
the experiments on convulsive subjects. These symptoms, as is well
known, are usually ushered in by violent screams, rapid beatings of
the heart, contractions of muscles, and analogous nervous symptoms.

Besides, it is incontestible that many patients and infirm people
obtain an unhoped for cure following convulsive cries; while others, in
a state of health, are taken with hallucinations and delirium. I have
seen patients who would lacerate certain portions of the body that were
the seat of burns, and continue to walk, cry, gesticulate, and abuse
themselves, like insane persons in a real state of dementia.

The Jansenists did not speak, had no compacts with demons, no
exorcisms at which Inquisitors and their acolytes could suggest ideas
of demonomania; and notwithstanding their great austerities and the
most rigorous fasts, we note among the _convulsionnaires_ of Saint
Medard only the ideas of possession by the Holy Spirit and divine
favors obtained through the protection of the kind-hearted Deacon; and
meantime, those possessed by God, as by the Devil, were subjects of
somnambulism, to trances, lethargy, catalepsy, and other phenomena.[80]

The last analogy, finally, between the two nervous epidemics, was the
Royal authority, a special form of _suggestion_ in the Middle Ages,
which put an end to sorcery or witchcraft as well as to Jansenism.

                      HYSTERIA AND PSYCHIC FORCE.

Among the phenomena observed in demonomaniacal hysteria there are
some, as we have remarked, that modern neurologists have wished to
_pass over in silence_, because it was impossible to give a rational
explanation. It arose from that mysterious force which acts upon the
human personality and its faculties and produces _supernatural results_
in contradiction to well known scientific laws, known in one sense as
_Psychic Force_, but which is nothing else than _modern spiritualism_.

This force, a power possessed in a high degree not only by hysterical
persons, but all varieties of neuropaths, who are designated as
_mediums_ by spiritual psychologists, _cannot be doubted by real
scientists to day_.

The demonologists of the Middle Ages have often mentioned it in the
demonomaniacs, and attributed it to possession by evil spirits; and,
if not pathologists, _they did not disdain to occupy themselves with
something that tends to simplify the study of the physiology of the
nervous system_; but to minds of the modern type, that consider science
as synonymous with truth, it seems strange and incomprehensible that
our learned investigators should have been overpowered by the fear of
the criticism that might overtake them because _they cannot explain
purely and simply an inexplicable fact, a truth, real positive and

Not being ourselves timorous to this prudence, which is, they claim,
one of the conditions, _sine qua non_, to be a candidate for the
Institute of France, we shall now pursue our investigations with the
historical documents regarding the medical Middle Age we possess, and
thus loyally seek a scientific interpretation for facts observed in
modern spiritualism or _psychic force_.

Among these documents we will choose as a type the “Trial made to
deliver a girl possessed by the Evil Spirit, at Louviers.” This suit,
which dates back to 1591, is in reality a series of trials written
up by several magistrates, in the presence of numerous witnesses,
reporting with precision all facts observed by them—facts interpreted,
it is true, with ideas of the demonidolatry of the sixteenth century,
but having a character whose authenticity is undisputed, and _even
undiscussed_. The first trial is thus conceived:[81]

“On Saturday, the 18th day of August, 1591, in the morning at Louviers,
in the aforesaid place, before us, Louis Morel, Councillor of the King,
Provost General and Marshal of France for the Province of Normandy,
holding Court in the service of the King in the villages and castles of
Pont de l’Arche and Louviers, with one lieutenant, one recorder, and
fifty archers, assisted by Monsieur Behotte, licentiate of law, Judge
Advocate and Lieutenant General of Monsieur the Viscount of Rouen, in
the presence of Louis Vauquet, our clerk.” * * *

This old document, in French now almost obsolete and difficult of
translation,[82] goes on to state that in a house at Louviers,
belonging to Mrs. Gay, two officers, belonging to the troops occupying
the town, who had temporary quarters with Gay, complained to their
commandant that “a spirit in the house mentioned tormented them.”
Now, this house was occupied by three ladies: Madame Gay, one of her
friends, a widow named Deshayes, and a servant girl called Francoise

Captain Diacre, who was commandant of the village, found on
investigation the general disorder of the residence, the furniture
turned upside down, the two ladies terrified, and the servant girl with
several wounds on her body. The latter was suspected of being in league
with the Devil, and was arrested and cast into the prison of the town.
On her person was found a purse containing a teston (old French coin),
a half teston, and a ten-sous piece. The trial proved nothing. The
ladies might have had nightmare, the officers might have been drunk,
the noises heard might have been the result of a thousand different
causes, but it is necessary to mention this case in order to comprehend
the subsequent trials.

The second trial, witnessed, tried, and authenticated by the same
authorities, determined the fact that Francoise Fontaine was born at
Paris, Faubourg Saint Honore, and that at the age of twenty two years
she had already witnessed similar phenomena in a house “haunted,” said
she, “by evil spirits that frightened her so much that she went to a
neighbor’s to sleep while her mistress was absent from home.” This
statement was proved correct in six subsequent trials containing the
depositions of Marguerite Prevost, Suzanne Le Chevalier, Marguerite Le
Chevalier, and Perrine Fayel.

The following trial states that on Saturday, the 31st of August, 1591,
before Louis Morel, Councillor of the King, assisted by his clerk,
Louis Vauquet, etc., etc.,

“Came Pierre Alix, first jailer and guard of the prison, who threw
himself on his two knees before us, holding the prison keys in his
hand, pale and overcome by emotion; for which action we remonstrated,
when he stated to our great astonishment that he did not wish to
longer act as prison guard, for the reason that the evil spirit that
tormented the aforesaid Francoise Fontaine likewise tormented him, and
also the prisoners, who desired to break jail and fly in order to
save themselves, having a presentement that the aforesaid Francoise
Fontaine, was in a dungeon or pit, and _that she had removed a great
iron door that had fallen upon her afterwards_; and several persons
having ran to her along with the jailer found the aforesaid Fontaine
acting as though possessed by an evil spirit, with her throat swollen,”

Let us pass over an interminable recital made by Francoise Fontaine
to the priests and counsellors of the King, relative to _diabolic
possession_, to which she had been subject all her life. Also, as to
the testimony of many witnesses as to her performance while in jail;
as, for instance, “the body of Francoise rose in the air about four
feet, without being in contact with anything, and she floated towards
us in the air,” etc., etc.

Francois Fontaine claimed that she had consented to belong to the
Demon, who was “a black man with whom she had cohabited.” Considered
from a medical standpoint the girl was a victim to hysterical

Let us make a few more extracts from the records of this trial:

“As the aforesaid Fontaine told us these things, being meantime on
her two knees before us, who were seated on a raised platform, the
aforesaid Fontaine fell forward on her face as though she had been
struck from above, and the candles in the chandeliers of the room
were extinguished, except those on the clerk’s table, the which were
roughly blown upon several times without being put out, when no visible
person present was near them to blow, and these candles were raised out
of their candlesticks, lighted as they were, and rubbed against the
ground in an attempt to extinguish them, and the which were finally
extinguished with a great noise, without any human hand appearing near
them; the which so astonished the priest, the advocate, the first
jailer, the archers guard, who were present, that they retired, leaving
us alone, the hour being then nine o’clock at night.

“Finding myself alone, I recommended my soul to God, and exclaimed in
a loud voice the words, ‘My God, give me grace not to lose my soul to
the Devil, and I command thee O, Demon, by the power I have invoked, to
leave the body of Francoise Fontaine! Again I repeat the command!’”

At the same instant the exorcist felt himself seized by the legs, arms
and body, and tightly held in the arms of an unknown force, which felt
hot and blew a warm breath, while blows were rained on the Judge’s body
as though he were beaten by a heavy piece of wood. He was struck on the
jaw and under the ear hard enough to draw blood, etc.

At the eleventh trial it was found that Francoise Fontaine was bodily
raised out of bed during the night by an unseen force, and this fact is
duly authenticated by witnesses.

In the following trial the same phenomena were produced in the church
at Louviers, during the mass of exorcism, where:

“Francoise Fontaine floated from the earth into the air, higher than
the altar, as though lifted up by the hair by an unseen hand, which
quickly alarmed the assistants, who had never before witnessed such an
occurrence,” etc.

In presence of these facts Francoise was led back to prison, and it was
decided by the clerical council, assisted by two eminent physicians,
Roussel and Gautier, to cut off the girl’s hair, as was the custom when
witches were arrested.

During this operation, which was performed publically by Dr. Gautier,
the same phenomenon was reproduced. For says the veracious old French
chronicle: “Francoise est de rechef enleuee en l’air fort hault, la
tete en bas, les pieds en hault sans que ses accoustrementz se soient
renuersez, au trauers desquelz il sortoit par deuant et par derriere
grande quantite d’eaue et fumee puante.”

Like the many preceding trials, with experiments, which are duly
attested by magistrates, physicians and the clerk, seven person in all,
who witnessed the phenomena, as to material facts, we cannot suspect
people whose honesty was never doubted; for it was through their
influence that Francoise Fontaine was set at liberty, after all her
inexplicable symptoms had disappeared and her nervous malady abated.

In order to render an account of the _supernatural_ phenomena observed
by early demonographers and attributed to evil spirits, let us briefly
glance at the experiments made regarding _Spiritualism_ by a few brave
physiologists of our own epoch, who have dared to investigate the
analogy existing between these two orders of phenomena.

Among the modern experimenters who have made a scientific study of this
subject—let us call it _Psychic Force_, if you will—we will mention Mr.
Crookes, member of the Royal Society of London, the (English Academy
of Sciences), the master mind, the most illustrious in modern science;
the discoverer of thallium, radiant matter, photometer of polarization,
spectral microscope—a chemist and physicist of the first order,
accustomed to the most minute experimental investigations.

The experiments of this _savant_ have been arranged by him in three
classes, as follows:

    CLASS I.—_Movement of weighty bodies with contact, but without
                          mechanical effort._

This movement is one of the most simple forms of the phenomenon
observed; it presents degrees that vary from trembling or vibration
of the chamber and its contents up to the complete elevation in the
air, when the hand is placed above, of a weighty body. We commonly
object that when they touch an object put in motion, they push, draw
or raise it. I have experimentally proved that this is impossible in a
great number of cases; but, as a matter of evidence, I attach little
importance to that class of phenomena considered in themselves, and
have only mentioned them as a preliminary to other movements of the
same kind, but without contact.

“These movements (and I may truly add all other similar phenomena) are
generally preceded by a particular breeziness of the air, amounting
sometimes almost to a true wind. This air disperses leaves of paper and
lowers the thermometer several degrees.

“Under some circumstances, to the subject of which I shall, at some
future day, give more details, I have not found any of this air; but
the cold was so intense that I can only compare it to that experienced
by placing the hand at a short distance from mercury in a state of
congelation.” (_Crookes_).

I have obtained, like the eminent “member of the Royal Society of
London,” the movement of weighty bodies by contact very easily, not
only lifting massive tables of a weight altogether out of proportion
and far superior to the force of a very robust man, but have also seen
this furniture move in a given direction; I have even noted a small
square table keep time in beating with a determined cadence. This
phenomenon, well known to all experimenters, may be reproduced without
the assistance of a powerful medium; it was well known in times of
antiquity, but is not mentioned in the writings on sorcery during the
Middle Ages.

As extraordinary as these facts seem, they are no more singular than
those observed by W. Crookes, and very recently by Zoellner,[83]
Professor in the University of Leipsic and correspondent of the French
Institute, in presence of Professors Fechner, Braune, Weber, Scheibner,
and the celebrated surgeon, Thiersch. It was with Slade, an American
medium as extraordinary as Home, that Zoellner experimented. These
experiments may be thus briefly mentioned:

1. Movements made by psychic force, through the medium of Slade, of a
magnet enclosed in a compass box.

2. Blows struck on a table, a knife raised in air, without contact, to
the height of a foot.

3. Movement of heavy bodies. Zoellner’s bed was drawn two feet from the
wall, Slade remaining seated with his back to the bed, his legs covered
and in full view of the experimenters.

4. A fire-screen broken with noise, without contact with the medium,
and the fragments thrown five feet.

5. Writing produced on several experimental occasions between two
slates belonging to Zoellner, and held well in view.

6. Magnetization of a steel needle.

7. Acid reaction given to neutral substances.

8. Imprints of hands and naked feet on smoked surfaces or surfaces
powdered with flour, which did not correspond with the hands and feet
of the medium, who remained meantime in full view of the experimenters,
while Slade’s feet were covered with shoes.

9. Knots tied in bands of copper sealed at both ends and held in the
hands of Slade and Zoellner, etc.

We find the same tests and facts observed by Mr. Crookes and the French
experimenters, who, following his example, have sought to account for
_Psychic Force_.

   CLASS II.—_Phenomenon of percussion and other analogous noises._

The popular name of _spiritual rapping_ gives a very poor idea of this
class of phenomena. On different occasions during his experiments, Mr.
Crookes heard blows of a delicate variety, such as might be produced by
the point of a needle; a cascade of sounds, as acute as those coming
from an induction coil in full activity; sharp blows or detonations in
the air; acute notes of a metallic variety; rasping sounds similar to
that heard from a machine with rubbing action; noises like scratching;
twittering chirps like a bird, etc.

“I have observed these noises,” says Crookes, “with the majority of
mediums, each of whom has a special peculiarity. They were more varied
with Mr. Home; but, for force and certainty of result, I have never met
a medium who approached Kate Fox. For several months I experimented,
it may be said, in an unlimited manner, and verified the different
manifestations induced by the presence of this lady, and I especially
examined the phenomenon relative to these noises.

“With mediums, it is necessary in general that they be methodically
seated for the _seance_ before noises are heard, but with Miss Kate Fox
it was sufficient to merely place her hand on any object, no matter
what, and violent blows were heard, like a triple sound of beating, and
sometimes so loud as to be heard at different pieces of furniture in
the room.

“In this manner, I have heard these noises on a living tree, on a
fragment of glass, on a membrane extended in a frame—for instance, a
tambourine—on the top of a cab, and on the edge of the parquet railing
in the theatre.

“However, effective contact is not always necessary. I have heard
the noise sound inside walls, when the hands and feet of the medium
were tightly held; when Miss Fox was seated in a chair; when she was
suspended above the platform; finally, when she had fallen on a sofa in
a dead faint.

“I have heard these same noises on the harmonica; I have felt them on
my shoulder and under my hands; I have heard them on a leaf of paper
held between the fingers by the aid of a wire passed through one corner.

“With a perfect knowledge of the numerous theories advanced, in
America principally, to explain these knocks or spirit rapping, I have
verified them by all methods I could imagine, so that I have acquired
a positive conviction as their objective reality, and the absolute
certainty that it was impossible to produce these sounds by artifice or
some mechanical means.

“An important question is here asked that deserves attention, _i.e._
‘_are these noises governed by an intelligence?_’[84]

“From the commencement of my investigations, I have recognized the fact
that the power which produced the phenomena, was not simply a fluid
force, but that _it is associated with an intelligence, or follows its

During the three years that I have experimented in psychology with Dr.
Puel and his friends, there has been no _seance_ where we have not
been able to determine more or less important phenomena of percussion.
An experiment I love to make is that of striking my fingers on the
table, either to imitate the music of a band with drum accompaniment
with some known air, and the same sound is immediately produced on the
under surface of the piece of furniture, with the same rhythm appearing
to be invoked by an invisible hand performing under the table. This
phenomenon is manifested sometimes spontaneously upon my demand or
that of my assistant. I observed it one evening at my own house for
more than a quarter of an hour from, the moment I entered the room;
in this case the noise was a rolling, which appeared to arise from
the metallic surface of a table. It was a member of my family who
called my attention to the abnormal noise, so much the more curious,
inasmuch as I could produce it at will, giving shades and variations
expressed by the movements of my hand. In order to respond in advance
to any objection, I will say it was two o’clock in the morning when
this phenomenon was produced, and there was no passing carriages in the
street to make any kind of a vibration.

These phenomena of percussion are sometimes produced with a most
extraordinary intensity, as in the observations of Kate Fox in the
house at Hydesville; these were probably only phenomena of percussion
similar to those observed at Louviers, in the home of Madame Gay,
under the mediumship of Francoise Fontaine, in 1591, manifestations
which were then attributed to the Devil, or later to a condition of
hallucinations, among the witnesses, according to the _materialistic
psychologists_ of the nineteenth century.

           CLASS III.—_Alteration of the weight of bodies._

The experiments made by Mr. Crookes, in regard to the alterations
in the weight of bodies, enters the category of psychic phenomena
examined with the most mathematical exactitude, by the aid of accurate
registering apparatus. It is in these experiments that the celebrated
English physician was able to witness _Psychic Force_ developed by his

The description and designs of the apparatus thus used may be found in
the “_Moniteur de la Policlinique_,” of the 7th and 14th of May, 1882,
and in “_Le Spiritisme_” of Dr. Paul Gibier, published in the year 1887.

This article is too lengthy for reproduction in this work, but we have
the right to consider it as the point of departure for experimental
psychology, for not only have they not been denied in France and other
countries, but _they have been recognized as absolutely true_, by
several colleagues of Mr. Crookes, belonging to the _Royal Society of

 CLASS IV.—_Movements of heavy bodies at a distance from the medium._

“There are numerous instances in which heavy objects, such as tables,
chairs, ropes, etc., have been moved when the medium never touched
them. I will mention a few striking cases.

“My own chair turned half way around while my feet were on the floor.

“In full view of all the people present, a chair started from a far
off corner and advanced slowly to a table while we were watching its

“On another occasion an arm chair came from to the place we were
seated, and then, on my demand, slowly returned backward a distance of
three feet.

“During three consecutive _seances_, a small table crossed the room
under conditions I had especially fixed in advance, in order to
respond victoriously to all objections that might possibly be raised
against the reality of the phenomenon.

“I repeated on several occasions the experiment considered as
conclusive by the “_Dialectic Society_,” that is to say, the movement
of a heavy table in a full glare of light, the backs of chairs being
turned towards the table about one foot of distance, each person being
in a kneeling posture upon his chair, the hands placed upon the back
above the table, but not touching it.

“On one of these occasions, the experiment took place while I walked
all around the table in order to see how each person was placed.”

In our own seances, with Madam Rosine, L.B., we have seen, ten or
twelve times at least, a small table on rollers, advance towards us as
though moved by a force of attraction or repulsion.

A similar phenomenon was very often produced in my office, under the
mediumistic influences of M. D. with a strength of extraordinary
propulsion, which seemed to originate in brute force. The traces of
violent shocks of a table against my bureau still remain to testify to
the results of this occurrence.

   CLASS V.—_Chairs and tables raised from the earth without contact
                           with any person._

“A remark usually made when cases of this kind arise is: ‘Why do these
things only occur with chairs and tables? Is this a privilege solely
enjoyed by pieces of furniture?’ I wish to answer this by stating that
I simply observed facts and report them without pretending to enter
into the _why_ and _how_; but, in truth, it is very evident that if any
inanimate object of a certain weight can be lifted from the earth in
the ordinary dining room, it could as easily be anything else than a
chair or table.

“That such phenomena are not limited to furniture I have numerous
proofs, as have other experimenters; the _intelligence_ or _force_,
whichever it may be, that produces the manifestations, can only operate
with materials that are at its disposition.

“On five distinct occasions a heavy dining table was raised from the
floor for a height varying from some inches to a foot and a half, under
special imposed conditions that made fraud impossible.

“On another occasion a heavy table was raised to the ceiling, in full
light, _while I held the feet and hands of the medium_.

“At another time the table raised itself above the floor, without any
one touching it, but under conditions I had previously imposed in such
a manner as to render the proof of the fact incontestable.” (_Crookes._)

The phenomena observed in this class of experiments belong to those of
_movement without contact_. Although these are difficult to obtain, I
have noticed them several times; I have seen, in my own home, a massive
table raised some distance from the floor ten or fifteen seconds after
all contact had ceased. Dr. Gibier had the advantage of obtaining
complete levitation and seeing the table _turn and touch the ceiling
with its four feet_, under the mediumistic influence of Mr. Slade. The
Doctor affirms this fact in his own book on the subject.

In the trial of August 31st, 1591, a phenomenon similar to the one
narrated befell Francoise Fontaine, _i.e._, the fall of an iron door
on the unfortunate girl; the elevation in the air of a washtub and
its being emptied in the presence of the jailer and the prisoner
Aufrenille. Francois Fontaine was evidently a _medium_ with _psychic

             CLASS VI.—_Raising human beings in the air._

“This phenomenon has taken place in my presence four times, although in
obscurity. The conditions under which these movements were performed,
however, were completely satisfactory; but the ocular demonstration of
such a thing is necessary to prevent the effects of our preconceived
opinions; for example, upon that which is _naturally possible or
impossible_, I shall only mention here cases in which the deductions of
reason have been affirmed by the sense of vision.

“I saw, one day, in the quality of spectator, a chair on which a lady
was seated raised from the floor several inches.

“On another occasion, in order to avoid being suspected of producing
the phenomenon by artificial means, the lady knelt on the chair, so
that the four legs of the piece of furniture were visible to every
eye; then the chair was lifted from the floor three inches, remaining
suspended in the air for ten seconds, when it slowly descended to the
floor again.

“Another time, but separately, two children were raised to the ceiling
in their chairs, under a full glare of light, under conditions entirely
satisfactory to me, for I was on my knees and attentively watched the
feet of the chairs in order to see that no one touched them.

“The most remarkable examples of levitation I have observed have taken
place with Mr. Home. On three occasions I have seen him lifted to the
ceiling of the room. On the first occasion he was seated in a chair,
the second time he was kneeling on a chair, and the third experiment
he stood on the chair. In all these instances I had every facility for
examining the phenomena at the moment they occurred.

“Over a hundred instances where Mr. Home was raised from the floor in
the presence of numerous witnesses have been published, and I have had
the oral testimony of at least three witnesses to these exhibitions,
_i.e._, Count Dunraven, Lord Lindsay, and Captain Wynne.

“To reject the numerous depositions presented on this subject would be
to reject all human testimony on any other subject; for there are no
facts in history, be they sacred or profane, that are supported on such
a solid basis of proof.

“The number of witnesses who will testify to the levitations of Mr.
Home is overwhelming. It is to be greatly desired that persons whose
testimony would be accepted as conclusive by the scientific world would
seriously examine with patience these facts.

“The majority of ocular witnesses of these phenomena are still living,
and will most assuredly bear witness; but in a few years it will be
difficult, if not impossible, to obtain such _direct evidence_ as in
the case of Home.” (_Crookes._)

It is to this class of phenomena that the case of Francois Fontaine
belongs, the authenticated facts of which, officially recorded and
witnessed, are matters of history; her levitations in the prison at
Louviers cannot be doubted.

The cataleptic symptoms accompanying the ascentional movements of this
woman bear witness as to the special neuropathic condition in which she
was found—a condition to-day in which most mediums develop _psychic
force_, either spontaneously or following hypnotic maneuvers.

One of the benefits to future science will be the explanation given to
these phenomena now considered supernatural; things that our learned
Academicians refuse to believe in, _although not investigating_,
insisting that such phenomena are hallucinations, the mere assertions
of writers and those who witness them; while these so-called _savants_,
who laugh spiritualism to scorn, claiming it a fraud and imposture, are
themselves afraid to be convinced by scientific experimentation.[85]

   CLASS VII.—_Movement of small objects without personal contact._

“Under this title I propose to describe certain particular phenomena of
which I have been a witness.

“I shall content myself to here allude to some facts all the more
surprising, since those who have witnessed them did so under
circumstances that rendered all deception impossible; it would be
foolish to attribute these results to fraud, for the phenomena were
not observed in the house of a medium, but in my own home, where any
previous preparation was out of the question.

“A medium was taken to my dressing room and seated in a certain portion
of the chamber under the watchful eyes of a number of attentive
witnesses, and played an accordion _I held in my own hand_ with the
keys upside down; this same accordion then floated in the air, playing
as it remained suspended.

“This medium could not secretly introduce to my home a machine strong
enough to rattle my windows and remove Venetian blinds to the distance
of eight feet; to tie knots in my handkerchief and carry it to a
far-off corner of a large room; to play notes on a piano at a distance;
to make a plate float around the room; to raise a water carafe from
a table; to make a coral necklace stand up on one of its limber
extremities; to put a fan in the usual society motions; or to start the
pendulum of a clock when the time piece was sealed in glass and screwed
tightly to the wall.” (_Crookes._)

These same phenomena are produced by Fakirs. A certain number of fig or
other leaves are perforated by bamboo sticks stuck in the ground. The
charmer extends his hands, the leaves move up along the long sticks on
which they are strung.

Another experiment: a vase is filled with water and spontaneously
moves over a table, leans, oscillates, is raised a perceptible height,
without a drop of water being spilled.

Musical instruments render sounds, play melodious airs, under the eyes
of the investigator, at some distance from the Fakir and without the
latter making any apparent movement. Dr. Gibier cites these phenomena,
witnessed by persons entitled to every confidence.

During seances at the home of my friend Dr. Fuel, with Madam L. B., we
have witnessed similar phenomena. Several times my _confrere_ and I
have seen damask curtains at his office windows shake and open; have
heard the sound of a small trumpet placed in the center of a table, in
the dark, it is true, but we were holding each other’s hands in the
circle and used all possible precautions not to be duped or humbugged.

                  CLASS VIII.—_Luminous apparitions._

“These manifestations are weak and generally require a darkened room.
I wish to recall to my readers the fact that on these occasions I have
taken all the necessary precautions to avoid being deceived by light
due to luminous oils (of which phosphorous might form the basis) or
other means. Besides, I have endeavored in vain to imitate these lights

“I have seen under experimental conditions of the most severe sort, a
solid body having its own light about the size of a goose egg float
around the room without noise at a height not to be touched even by
standing on ones toes, afterwards softly descend to the floor.

“This luminous globe remained visible for more than ten minutes before
disappearing; it struck the table on three occasions, making the noise
produced by any hard and solid body of the same size.

“During this time, the medium was seated in an arm chair, in an
apparent condition of insensibility.

“I have seen luminous sparks disport themselves above the heads of
various persons.

“I have obtained response to questions by means of flashes of light,
any number of times in front of my own face.

“I have seen sparks of light rise from the table and to the ceiling and
fall back on the table with a distinct noise of solidity.

“I have obtained, alphabetically, a communication, by means of flashes
of light, produced in mid air, before my eyes, while my hand moved
around in the rays of the communicating light; I have seen a luminous
cloud float up and rest on a picture.

“On several occasions, under similar conditions of severe control,
a body solid in appearance but crystalline, having a light of its
own, has been placed in my hand by a hand not belonging to any person
present in the room. In _the full glare of light_, I have seen a
luminous body fly to the top of a heliotrope placed on top of a
_console_, break off a small branch of the plant and carry it to the
hand of a lady present.

“I have sometimes seen similar luminous clouds _visibly condense,
assume the form of a hand_, and carry small articles to people, but
these phenomena properly belong to another class of manifestations.”

The only phenomena of this nature that I have noticed were produced
under the following circumstances: One evening, after commencing some
experiments with Madam L. B., in the parlor of Dr. Puel, we were
obliged to cut the _seance_ short owing to a convulsive hysterical
attack that overcame the medium—an attack which lasted more than an
hour and which was only stopped by the application of metallic plates
to the thorax. Having regained consciousness, the lady, with her
husband and Dr. Puel, retired to the latter’s consultation office,
where I was summoned a few moments later by my _confrere_. Madam L. B.
was standing, supported by my two friends,[86] while from her chest
arose phosphorescent vapors, which grew more dense and thick as the
lights in the room were turned down. These phenomena lasted more than a
quarter of an hour, during which Madam L. B. uttered long and painful
groans. These vapors had the odor of phosphorus, and seemed to rise
from the epigastric region.

I was called some months later to attend to Madam L. B., whom I found
in a condition of profound anæmia and mental prostration, reminding me
of the _seance_; I prescribed granules of phosphoric acid for her with
excellent results.

   CLASS IX.—_Apparition of hands, either luminous or visible under
                           ordinary light._

“One finds himself frequently touched by hands, or something having the
form of hands, during _dark seances_, or under circumstances which do
not permit us to see these forms; but _I have seen these hands_.

“I shall not speak here of instances in which the phenomenon occurred
in obscurity, but will simply choose some of the _numerous instances_
in which I have seen the hands _in the light_.

“A small hand, of charming shape, has risen from the table and extended
me a flower; this hand appeared and disappeared three times at
intervals and gave me every opportunity to convince myself that it was,
in appearance, as real as my own. This occurred in a full light, in my
own room, while I held the hands and feet of the medium.

“On another occasion, a small hand and arm, similar to those of a
child, appeared to play around a lady seated near me; this arm floated
to my side, struck my arm lightly and pulled my coat several times.

“Another time, I saw an arm and hand tear the petals from a flower
placed in Mr. Home’s _boutonniere_ and hold the same before the faces
of parties sitting near him.

“On this occasion, and with other witnesses, who saw the same
manifestations, a hand touched the keys of an accordeon and played the
instrument, while the medium’s hands were visible meantime, and even
held at times by persons seated near him.

“The hands and fingers have always appeared solid and like those of any
living person; at times, however, they appeared nebular, condensations
in the form of hands.

“These phenomena were not visible to the same extent to all the persons
present. For example, one person would see a flower or other small
object; another person would see a small cloud of luminosity fly over
the flower; another, still, would notice a nebulous hand; while others,
again, would simply see the movement of the flower.

“I have seen, on several occasions, an object move with the appearance
of a luminous cloud and perfectly condense into the form of a hand;
under such circumstances the hand is visible to all persons present.

“It is not always a simple form, for often the hand perfectly resembles
that of a living person, and has every element of grace; the fingers
move; the flesh presents a human appearance, the same as though that of
a living person; at the wrist or arm this form may become nebulous, and
end in a luminous cloud of vapor.

“To the touch the hand appears cold, icy as in death at times; while on
other occasions it feels warm and living, clasping my hand like that of
an old friend would.

“I have retained one of these hands in mine, _firmly resolved not to
let it escape_; it made no resistance nor effort to disengage itself,
but appeared to gradually resolve itself into vapor.” (_Crookes_).

I have heard many persons affirm that they perceived hands that
touched them in _full light_. I never had this experience, but I can
testify that during eight or ten sittings I and five or six persons
who assisted me felt these hands perfectly; and among these hands were
those belonging to a small child, and _certainly_ no small child was in
the house; these baby hands were soothing and caressing. Our medium was
still Madam L. B., who, during the _seance_, was held down tightly on
a sofa by Madam P., whose scrupulous attention may be relied on where
_science_ is at stake, for all our experimentations of this sort were
in the dark. Several times the small baby hands were put in my sleeve,
and seemed to take pleasure in pulling off my cuffs and taking them to
other persons in the room. My eyeglass was also taken by the infantile
fingers and carried to one of the circle.[87]

                      CLASS X.—_Direct writing._

This is the expression we employ to designate a writing not produced by
any person present, and Mr. Crookes gives the following description of
this phenomenon:

“I have often received words and messages written on paper (on which I
had made private marks) under the most severe conditions of control;
and I have heard, in the dark, the noise of the pencil moving across
the paper. The precautions previously taken by me were so strict that
my mind is perfectly convinced, as if the characters of the writing
were formed under my own eyes.

“But, as space will not permit me to enter into complete details, I
shall simply choose two cases in which my eyes as well as my ears were
witnesses of the operation.

“The first case I shall cite took place, it is true, in _dark seance_,
but the result was none the less satisfactory.

“I was seated near the medium, Miss Fox, and there were only two
persons present, my wife and a relative of ours; I held both hands of
the medium in one of mine, while her feet were on top of my own. There
was paper before us on the table and my hand held the pencil.

“A luminous hand descended from above, and, after hovering near me for
a few seconds, took the pencil from my hand, writing rapidly on the
paper, threw the pencil over our heads and gradually faded in obscurity.

“The second case may be considered and registered as a discovery.
A good discovery is often more convincing than the most successful

“This occurred in the light of my own room, in the presence of Mr. Home
and a few friends. Different circumstances, unnecessary to enumerate
here, had shown that evening that _the psychic power was very strong_.
I expressed the desire of witnessing the production of a real written
message, similar to that I had one of my friends mention a short
time before. At the instant this wish was uttered an alphabetical
communication was given which read, ‘_We will try_.’

“A pencil and some sheets of paper were placed on the center of the
table. Soon _the pencil stood on its point and advanced_, by jerks,
then fell over. It raised itself again and fell over; it tried a third
time but with no better result.

“After three fruitless attempts, a small piece of wood which laid near
on the table slid towards the pencil and raised itself some inches
above the table. The pencil now raised itself anew, supporting itself
against the wood, and the two made an effort to write on the paper;
this did not succeed and a new trial was made. On the third attempt the
wooden lath abandoned its efforts and fell back to its old position on
the table; the pencil remained in the position where it fell on the
paper, and an alphabetical message said to us, “_We have tried to do
what you have asked, but our power is exhausted_.” (Crookes.)

In India, the Fakirs easily obtain direct writing; they spread fine
sand on a table or other smooth surface and place on this sand a small
pointed stick made of wood. At a given moment this stick rises and
traces characters on the sand, which are responses to questions put by
the lookers on.[88]

In the experiments made with our friend Dr. Puel, we obtained writing
on over twenty slates. A bit of chalk was placed on a new slate and
this slate was placed on a table at some distance from the medium,
Madam L. B., the experiments being made with all the cautions possible.
A previous examination of both surfaces of the slate put away all
doubts as to any fraud in that respect. I, meantime, held the hands of
Madame L. B., the medium, who was always in a hypnotic condition during
such experiments, at which several persons usually assisted—persons who
were known to be capable of observing and recording facts with coolness
and deliberation.

All these communications have a signature, and many of them date
1900 as the epoch when _modern spiritualism_ shall be scientifically
recognized by the world.

Dr. Gibier, who made interesting experiments with Mr. Slade, like
us, obtained spontaneous writing on many slates, of which he gives
reproductions in his remarkable work, _a book that he had the courage
to write and to which his celebrated name is affixed_.[89]

We do not find in any Middle Age documents such spontaneously written
communications; at least Demonographers do not mention them in their
writings, for if they had it would have been a most striking proof of
the analogy of magic with modern spiritualism and Indian Fakirism,
which serves as an intermediary in the history of Occultism.

              CLASS XI.—_Forms and figures of phantoms._

“These phenomena are rarely ever witnessed. The conditions required
for their appearance seeming so delicate, and so little prevents their
production, that it is only on very few occasions that I have witnessed
satisfactory results. I will cite two cases:

“At twilight, in a _seance_ by Mr. Home, given at a private house, the
blinds of a window, back of the medium about eight feet, were seen to
move, then all the persons sitting near the window perceived a shadowy
form that grew darker and then semi-transparent, like that of a man
trying the shutters with his hand. While we gazed at this object in the
twilight it evanesced and the window shutters ceased to move.

“The following example is still more striking. As in the preceding
case Mr. Home was the medium. A phantom form came from the corner
of the room, took an accordeon in its hand, and glided around the
room playing the instrument beautifully. This phantom was visible to
all those present for the space of several minutes, Mr. Home being
perfectly visible at the same time. Then this shade approached a lady
in the room, when the frightened woman uttered a scream and the phantom
vanished.” (_Crookes._)

We regret that space will not permit our giving the experiments made on
Miss Cook and Katie King, spectres which became so tangible that they
were photographed.

This History given by Crookes regarding spiritual photography is well
nigh incredible, but Dr. Crookes has remarked concerning doubters and
his personal experiments, “_I do not say that it is possible, I say
that it is_.”

These apparitions of forms and figures of phantoms were more common
to the Middle Ages than at the present day, if we are to believe the
numerous cases cited by Pierre Le Loyer.[90]

This celebrated author in fact, will not admit that there is any
doubt on this subject; a matter he has thoroughly studied, for he
says in this preface of his work—“_Aussi est traicte des extases et
rauissements: de l’essence, nature et origine des Ames, et de leur
estat apres le deces de leurs corps; plus des Magiciens et Sorciers, de
leur communication avec les malins esprits; ensemble des remedes pour
se preseruer des illusions et impostures diaboliques_.”

In analyzing passages from this curious document, we will immediately
see the correlation that exists between what was called in other times
sorcery or magic, and spiritualism. In speaking of these spectres
which form in the air, and under our eyes, Pierre Le Loyer writes: “We
know them by the coldness of their touch and their bodies, which are
soft, their hands receding from ours like soft cotton when pressed, or
a snow-ball squeezed in a child’s hand. They tarry no longer than it
pleases them, returning again into their element.”

Further along, Le Loyer adds: “A bad spirit questioned by a sorcerer
why his body was not warm, responded that it was not in his power to
give it heat.”

But, meantime, he attributed these apparitions to evil spirits and
demons; finally, our author seeks to explain “what is this body seen
and touched of these demons, so to speak, of the air, water and earth?”

“These devils appear indifferently to all persons; they themselves
affect the society of certain, individuals some much more than others.”

“To these sorcerers and witches (_mediums_), they ordinarily show
themselves in a visible form, and will come to those who call them.”

“As to persons subject to these sort of things, they are usually those
young and tender of age, cold and imperfectly organized beings; by such
we can speak with power; old men and eunuchs, and withal melancholy

“All those these devils dominate over, are estranged from their
natural, beings, and not infrequently become maniacs.”

Our author in his chapter on the essence of souls, affirms, that “that
the ancient oracles _were only the Oracles of the souls of men_,” and
to be specific, he gives a long list of names. He remarks, “there were
in Greece, temples known to be psychomantic, and in such places were
received responses from the souls of different men. It was for this
reason too, that the souls for the same reason watched over the places
where the bodies of generous and noble barons had been burned.”

Further along Le Loyer mentions the origin of the _power that the
spirits possess of manifesting themselves to us_, but our author
_disagrees with the modern theories that makes them derive their power
from the medium_, for he remarks that the spirits can act “_through
their own powers_,” and are governed only by their own intelligence.
“They are not off so far,” adds he, “and the distance between us and
the spirits is so slight that we may easily communicate;” however, he
says, meantime: “They are commanded by God and conform to his will.”

Finally, he considers man as an inferior being to the spirits of the
dead—in fact, he states: “The soul appears to derive nothing from
another, and, as an invisible spirit, it acts with us as a passive
agent, being too proud to control that which is inferior; and I deny,”
says he, “that the true souls of the dead obey either charms or magical

Of the future of the soul after death he remarks to one of his
opponents, whose opinions he refuted, that “_this soul, whatever it
may be, in a state of health or not purged, comes by degrees and not
at one bound into the full fruition and happiness of God_;” and these
degrees, according to Le Loyer, are like prisons where the penalties
for misdeeds done in the flesh are to be satisfied. He admits, however,
that some spirits make more rapid progress than others. These, to his
mind, are the judgments of God after death, and the fire mentioned in
Scriptures. Such is the manner in which he explains away the ideas of
the images of Paradise and Hell, the promises to the virtuous and the
wicked. He cites (_apropos_ of manifestations before courts of justice)
houses “where spirits have appeared and made all manner of noises, that
disturbed the tenants at night.” He speaks of Daniel and Nicholas
Macquereau, who rented a house for a term of years. “They had been
living there but a short time when they heard the noises and hubbub
made by invisible spirits, who allowed them neither sleep nor repose.”
The court cancelled the lease, thus _admitting that there were places
haunted by spirits_.”[91]

      CLASS XII.—_Particular examples which seem to indicate the
               intervention of a superior intelligence._

“It has already been demonstrated that these phenomena are governed by
an Intelligence; an important question is to know what is the source of
this Intelligence.

“Is this the Intelligence of the _medium_ or some one else present in
the room? Or is this Intelligence exterior? I do not wish to commit
myself on this point at present in a positive manner. I will say that I
have observed several circumstances which appeared to demonstrate that
the will and the intelligence of the medium have a great influence on
the phenomena. I have likewise observed others which seemed to prove
in a conclusive manner the intervention of an intelligence entirely
independent of all persons found in the room where the _seance_ was

“Space will not permit me to give here all the arguments that might
serve to prove these propositions, but I will briefly mention one or
two circumstances chosen from among a number of others. I have several
times seen phenomena take place simultaneously, some of them being
unknown to the medium. I have seen Miss Fox write automatically a
message for a person present, while a message for another person was
given alphabetically by means of _raps_, and during all the time of
these manifestations she conversed on a subject entirely different
from the two others.

“The following case is, perhaps, still more astonishing. During a
_seance_ with Mr. Home, a small wooden lath, that I have previously
mentioned, came across the table to me, in full light, and gave me a
message by striking lightly on my hand; I repeated the alphabet and
the lath struck me at the proper letters; the other end of this wooden
stick was some distance off from the hands of Mr. Home.

“The blows were so distinct and clear, the wooden lath was so evidently
under the invisible power that governed its movements, that I said:
‘Can the intelligence that governs the movements of this lath change
the character of the movement and give me a telegraphic message by
means of the Morse alphabet, by blows struck on my hand?’

“I had every reason for thinking that the Morse alphabet was entirely
unknown to all the other persons present, and I knew it only
imperfectly myself.

“Immediately after I had said this the character of the raps changed
and the message was continued in the manner I demanded. The letters
were given too rapidly for me to catch but a word now and then,
consequently I lost the message; but I had heard sufficient to convince
me that there was a good Morse operator at the other extremity of the
line, no matter what place it might be in.

“Another example: A lady wrote automatically by the aid of Planchette.
I sought to discover the means to prove what she wrote was not due to
_unconscious cerebration_. Planchette, as it always does, affirmed
that, although the movements were made by the hands and arms of the
operator, there was an intelligence coming from an invisible being,
who played on her brain like an instrument of music and thus put her
muscles in motion.

“I then remarked to this Intelligence, ‘Can you see what is contained
in this chamber?’ And Planchette answered, ‘Yes.’ ‘Can you read this
journal?‘ said I, placing my finger on a copy of the _London Times_
that happened to be back of me on a table, but which I could not see.
‘Yes’ responded Planchette. ‘Very well,’ said I, ‘write the word now
covered by my finger.’ Planchette commenced to move and the word
‘however’ was slowly written. I turned around and saw that the word
‘however’ was covered by the end of my finger. I had not looked at the
paper when I attempted this experiment, and it was impossible for the
lady, had she tried, to see any word in the journal, as she was seated
at a table and the _London Times_ lay on a table back of me with my
body interposed.” (_Crookes._)

In the experiments in typtology at which I have assisted, to
all the demands addressed to _psychic force_ the responses have
always presented a particular character independent of that of the

I have sometimes tried to concentrate my will upon the answer awaited,
and have always failed in my attempts at mental pressure.

1 have likewise determined that these answers cannot be dictated by
the mind of the medium, whose scientific and literary knowledge were
not always equal to the message received. This observation coincides
with the facts observed among pretended Demonomaniacs, who had in their
attacks the gift of language, responding in Latin to the exorcists,
making entire discourses in this language, of which they knew not the
first elements.

Under the name of _phenomena of ecstasy_, Dr. Gibier described, after
his experiments with the medium Slade, his displacement by a stronger
spirit to that of his usual control. Says Gibier, the phenomena
produced from thence were “a certain discoloration of the medium’s
face, which became red, a sort of grin contracting the muscles of the
visage, the eyes were convulsed upwards, and after some nystagmatic
movements of the ball of the eye the eyelids closed tightly, gritting
of the medium’s teeth was heard, and a convulsive sign, indicating the
commencement of his _possession_ by a strange spirit. After this short
phase, which was painful to behold, the medium’s face fell into a smile
and the voice, as well as the attitude, was completely modified to that
of a different person. Slade thus transformed to his regular control,
saluted all our party most graciously.”

Among the experiments made by Dr. Gibier to control this condition of
_incarnation_ (the English call it _trance_), we might cite that of
a comparison of the dynamometric force of the medium in his natural
condition and the _trance_ state. In the first case, by reason of two
previous attacks of hemiplegia, Slade’s muscular force gave 27 kilos to
the right and 35 kilos to the left. In the second state there were 63
kilos to the right and 50 kilos to the left. Meantime, Dr. Gibier, no
more than ourselves, deems it proper to consider the trance state other
than a hypothesis, “a foreign element, introduced in the scene, and
like it present in the experiences of suggestion and catalepsy.”

If we cannot give a scientific explanation of these phenomena, it
is our duty to examine them as others and retrace their history,
especially seeking those points of coincidence with the proofs
furnished by the history of demonomania and diabolic possession of the
Middle Ages; for we are convinced that these phenomena were dominated
by the same unknown force, interpreted differently by reason of the
philosophic and religious ideas of the epoch at which they were studied.

          CLASS XIII.—_Varied cases of a complex character._

Under this title Mr. Crookes cites facts that cannot be classed
otherwise by reason of their complex character. As an example, he
reports two cases: one being an experiment in typtology between
himself, Miss Fox, and another lady. He proved that a bell that
belonged in his business office was brought to the table, as a proof
announced by the intellectual force, that communicated with him, _of
its strength_. The chamber in which this was done was separated from
the office by a door which he previously securely locked with a key,
and he was absolutely positive that the bell in question was in his

“The second case I desire to report,” says Mr. Crookes, “took place
one Saturday night under a full glare of light, Mr. Home and my family
being the only persons present.

“My wife and I, having passed the day in the country, had brought home
flowers with us that I had gathered; on arriving at home we had given
them to a servant to put in water. Mr. Home came shortly after and we
went into the dining room. At the instant we seated ourselves, the
domestic brought the flowers, arranged in a vase; I placed them in the
center of the table, which was not covered by a cloth. It was the first
time Mr. Home had seen these flowers.

“Immediately a message came, given by the rap alphabet, which said,
‘It is impossible for matter to pass through matter, but we will show
you that we can do it.’ We waited in silence, and soon a luminous
apparition was seen floating over the bouquet of flowers, and then,
in full view of all my family at the table, a branch of China grass,
fifteen inches in length, which ornamented the middle of the bouquet,
slowly rose from the bunch of flowers, descended from the vase and
moved across the table, and my wife saw a hand stretched out from under
the table and seize the flower; at the same moment she was struck three
times on the left shoulder and the noise made by the slaps was so loud
we all heard it; then the luminous hand dropped the China grass to the
floor and disappeared. Only two persons of my family saw the hand, but
every one at the table noticed the different movements of the plant
stalk, as I have before described them.

“During the time that this phenomena lasted we all saw Mr. Home’s hands
on the table, where they rested motionless, and they were at least
eighteen inches from where the plant stalk disappeared.

“It was a dining-room table that opened in folds, it did not lengthen,”

As a contribution to the facts mentioned in this class, I may report
the famous experiments with the bracelet made by Dr. Puel—experiments
that I have witnessed a dozen times at least—as well as numerous other
persons. A bracelet made of brass, without opening or solder, cut by
a machine out of a solid piece of metal, was placed on the forearm
of Madame L. B. The lady’s hands rested flat on the table, or were
held in the hands of those experimenting. At a given moment, often
in the middle of a conversation, Madame L. B. uttered a piercing cry
and at the same instant the bracelet would fall on the floor, or on
some piece of furniture, with great force. Several times, under the
same circumstances,—that is to say, when the lady’s hands were firmly
pressed down on the table by those experimenting,—I have seen the
bracelet _pass from one arm to the other_.

So, in opposition to all laws of physics, it appears that matter can
pass through matter; I affirm the reality of this, and others, who
are no more victims to hallucination than I, can also testify to the
truth of this statement. And no matter what may be the consequences to
my professional reputation, and utterly without regard for anything
that may be said by critics, I boldly maintain, as if under oath, that
my senses lead me to this imposed conviction. Besides, I am far from
being alone in believing what I have seen, whether or no it be “_in
harmony with our acquired knowledge_;” to the names of French, English
and German _savants_ I have cited, there are experimenters in all
countries who have the courage to believe the evidence offered by their
own senses, as witness that celebrated English geologist, who, after
ten years of investigation with the phenomena under control, _declared
spiritualism to be true_, drawing from his experiments the following
conclusions: “_Who shall determine the limits of the possible, limits
that science and observation accumulate each day? Let us examine, let
us doubt, but not be so daring as to deny the possibility of such
occurrences_” (Barkas).

If now we have established the balance-sheet of facts attributed to the
Demonomania of the Middle Ages, and compared them to the experiences of
experimental psychology, we are not only led to recognize a striking
analogy between them, but also to interpret them by the hypothesis of
an intelligent force of an intensity proportionate to certain nervous
pathological conditions. It is necessary to remember, in fact, that,
according to the Ritual of the Roman Catholic Church, the phenomena
necessary to recognize _possession_ among Demonomaniacs were:

1. The faculty of knowing thoughts, even though they are not expressed.

2. Intelligence in unknown languages.

3. The faculty of speaking foreign tongues which are unknown to the
party speaking them.

4. A knowledge of future events.

5. A knowledge of what is transpiring in far-off places.

6. Development of superior psychal force.

7. Suspension of persons or bodies in the air for a considerable space
of time.

No less interesting is it than to compare these phenomena to those
observed by the thirty-three members of the commission appointed by
the “Dialectic Society of London.” The following was this committee’s
report, after eighteen months’ investigation:

1. Noises of varied nature, apparently arising from the furniture,
floor or walls of the room, accompanied by vibrations which are often
perceptible to the touch, are present without being produced by
muscular action or any mechanical means whatever.

2. Movements of heavy bodies occur without the aid of mechanical
apparatus of any sort, and without equivalent development of muscular
force on the part of persons present, and even frequently without
contact or connection with any one.

3. These noises and movements are produced often at the moment wished
for and in the manner demanded by persons present, and, by means of
a simple code of sounds, respond to questions and write coherent

4. The response and communications obtained are, for the most
part, hackneyed and commonplace, but sometimes they give facts and
information only known to one person in the room.

5. The circumstances under which the phenomena are present vary, the
most striking feature being that the presence of certain persons seems
necessary to their production, and that the presence of some people
serves as a check; but this difference does not seem to depend on
the belief or the unbelief of those present as to the nature of the

The testimony, oral and written, received by the commission affirmed
the reality of phenomena much more extraordinary still, such as heavy
bodies rising in the air (men in certain cases floated through the
atmosphere) and remaining in suspension without tangible support;
apparitions of hands and forms belonging to no human beings, but
seemingly alive, judging by their aspect and motions.

This report was signed by _savants_ of the first order, as sceptical
before commencing their investigations as the most positive
Materialists of our academies of science. Let us cite, among the
celebrated names of men known throughout the world for their
learning and scientific veracity, those of the great naturalist and
_collaborateur_ of Darwin, Russell Wallace, Professor A. Morgan,
President of the Mathematical Society of London and Secretary of
the Royal Astronomical Society; F. Varley, Chief Engineer of the
Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Company and member of the Royal Society of

Mr. Morgan does not fear to add to the report the following lines: “I
am perfectly convinced, from what I have seen and heard, in a manner
that renders doubt impossible, that _Spiritualists_, without doubt, are
upon a track that will lead to the advancement of the psychal sciences;
their opponents are those who seek to trammel all progress.”

Mr. Varley writes to the celebrated Professor Tyndall: “I am obliged to
investigate the nature of the force that produces these phenomena, but,
up to the present time, I have been unable to discover anything save
the source from which this _psychic force_ emanates, _i.e._, from the
vital systems of the mediums. I am only studying, however, a thing that
has been the object of investigation for two thousand years; brave men,
whose minds are elevated above the narrow prejudices of our century,
seem to have sounded the depths of the subject in question,” etc.

This opinion of the learned English physicist proves, once more, that
we are right in connecting Demonomania to the magic of antiquity and to
modern spiritualism. One must be perfectly blind or of poor judgment
not to see the connecting links that unite these various phenomena. And
if our men of science dare no longer say that these facts are worthy
of credit, although refusing to investigate the same, it is because
they lack courage, it is because they dare not brave the criticism
of pretended strong-minded men and the jests of the ignorant. If the
_vulgum pecus_, the amorphous matter that stuffs the superior element
of society, contest the value of the works of Crookes, Wallace, Morgan,
Varley, Gibier, Zoellner, Mapes, Hare, Oxon, Sexton, and others, they
can only be included in the same class of people who ridiculed Galileo,
Harvey, Jenner, Franklin, Young, Davy, Jussieu, Papin, Stephenson,
and Galvani, with all the authors of great discoveries and scientific
truths, who have invariably been combatted by the pseudo-scientific
and half-fledged goslings whose names adorn our so-called colleges and
other mutual admiration societies.[93]

Why, then, longer refuse to study _a force_ recognized by some of the
most eminent men among modern civilized nations and by the modest
pioneers who first studied these phenomena in France? If the number of
experimenters named be not sufficient to convince sceptics, let them
enter into a full study of present-day psychology, and find a host of
the greatest modern neurologists.

Nine years of study has led Mr. Oxon, Professor at the University of
Oxford, to formulate the following propositions on _Psychic Force_,
which corroborate the results obtained by his colleagues in England,
Germany, and America, and which still constitute another proof of the
identity of the phenomena:

“1. A force exists which acts by means of a special type of human
organization, a force that we call _psychic force_.

“2. It is demonstrated that this force is, in certain cases, governed
by an intelligence.

“3. It is proved that this intelligence is often other than that of the
person or persons through whose influence it acts.

“4. This Force, thus governed by an exterior intelligence, at times
manifests its action, independent of other methods, by writing coherent
phrases, without the intervention of any known mode of writing.

“5. The evidence of the existence of this force governed by an
intelligence rests on

“(_a_) The evidence observed through the senses.

“(_b_) The fact that _the force_ often uses a language unknown to the

“(_c_) The fact that the subject matter treated is very frequently
superior to the medium’s knowledge or education.

“(_d_) The fact that it has been found impossible to produce the same
results by fraud under the conditions in which these phenomena are

“(_e_) The fact that these special phenomena are not only produced in
public and by paid mediums, but likewise in a family circle where no
strangers are admitted.”

Without writing to prejudice the question, I believe, in my turn, that
I can solemnly affirm that this force has intimate connection with the
soul, the mind or the ministerial part of our being, as it is called;
that it acts on our ideas as well as on our physiological functions,
and it is to my mind the destiny of humanity to investigate its essence
and study its phenomena, its manifestations and all its sensible
effects by all our senses and means of investigation.

It is high time that secular boasting of the materialistic scientists
be checked, and that they should recognize the fact that force does
not arise from matter alone but exists independent of it and primarily
submits to its laws.

Starting, then, with the proposition that an unknown force exists, to
whose influence we unconsciously submit, science should investigate
this force, isolate, and control it, if it be in our power so to do.

Instead of opposing an ignorant skepticism to modern discoveries
in _psychic force_, our learned Academicians should investigate
the acquired facts for inspiration in future work, remembering
that good thought of Laplace: “We are so far from knowing all the
agents of Nature and their different modes of action, that it is
not philosophical to deny the existence of phenomena simply because
they cannot be explained in the actual condition of our present

Such are the conclusions I believe I have a right to draw from my
historical studies on the Demonomania of the Middle Ages. Let me
briefly recapitulate my personal views on the subject:

1. There exists a psychic force, intelligent, inherent to humanity,
manifesting itself, under determined conditions, by various phenomena,
with an intensity more or less great.

2. Certain human beings, known as mediums, who are very sensitive to
the action of magnetism, facilitate the production of these phenomena,
considered as supernatural in the actual state of our present
scientific knowledge, and in apparent contradiction with all known
physical and physiological laws.

3. In certain nervous conditions, natural or provoked, this Force can
possess the human organism and bring about, temporarily, either a
change in one’s personality or an alteration in one’s sensations and in
the intellectual and moral faculties.


All _savants_ who have studied the literary and historical part of
medicine fully recognize the powerful interest it offers, especially
that medicine portrayed in the works of poets and dramatic authors of
the Middle Ages. It is in the works of these writers, in fact, that we
find the most exact appreciation of medical ideas of the epoch, because
we can judge their morals, criticise their faults, account for their
tendencies—all without bringing in medical science at any given moment,
with its teachings, errors, and prejudices.

In all that concerns the Middle Ages, we shall find this first in
the writings of philosophers, in certain dramatic works, known under
the name of _Moralities_, because their purport was to demonstrate,
under the form of an allegory, a precept of morality. The personages
of such dramatic scenes always represent ideas, often abstract and
usually fantastic,—The World, Justice, Good Company, Gourmands, Dinner,
Banquet, Experience, Gout, Jaundice, Dropsy, and Apoplexy. A second
class, errors and prejudices, are seldom wanting in some poetical
works, in _comedies and farces_, _satirical_ and _indecent_ poems, that
recall some of the early productions of the Latin Theatre. Eventually
impressed with the Gallic spirit of levity, these short pieces,
enjoyed by clerks and small tradesmen, contain cutting criticisms on
the weaknesses of mankind, doctors in particular. These plays are
considered the embryo of the French stage, which, later, has been
immortalized by the most illustrious of our writers of comedy.

An unaffected gayety often breaks out in brilliant, sparkling dialogues
in these frivolous farces, and assures the instant success of the
play. The public laughed in high glee, without prudery, at the broad I
insinuations and comical acts in such representations. So the writers
of that period went into raptures when they chanced to make a hit with
their satirical tirades, that amused the passing age. Sometimes the
clergy were satirized as well as the doctor; even the Pope himself
received the attention of the comedians, as witness the carnival of
1511. Even the avarice of Louis XII. was ridiculed. Comedy’s procession
represented Justice by its attorneys, shysters and police; but, above
all, comedy delighted to burlesque the doctor, _Facultas saluberrema
medicinæ parisiensis_, ridiculing them like the rest of the world,
without the least respect for their robe or bonnet.

Pray, what do these jolly, railing spirits of the Middle Ages say of
our medical ancestors of the good old times? Master Jehan Bouchet, for
example, with his piece, _Traverseur des voyes perilleuses_, and Pierre
Gringore under the pseudonym of _Mere Sotte_, and Nicholas Rousset and
Coustellier, and Jacques Grevin and Pierre Blanchet, and all other
members of that joyous group without care, without pretension, but
not without talent. If professional honor was never really put on
trial by these wits, the pedantic gravity of our medical forefathers,
their formidable doctoral accoutrement, their consultations, sentences
formulated in horrible and barbarous Latin, were all the objects of
raillery and piquant epigrams. We shall find also, in other works we
propose to analyze, the same false ideas of the public regarding the
healing art as exists to-day; the same tendency to always lead one into
error, and unjustly accuse the medical profession of all the accidents
that happen to a patient—this, too, notwithstanding all ancient codes
of hygiene and all the ages of experience.

When a physician prescribed, for example, in the case of one attacked
by fever, the daily libations were stopped, and we always find the
neighbors and boon companions of the sufferer enter the sick room for
the purpose of criticizing the doctor’s prescriptions and orders,
and such persons excited the patient by their remarks on medical
despotism. This has always been the case since doctors and patients
were created, not only in the Middle Ages, but at all epochs. Olivier
Basselin bears testimony to this fact in one of his charming _Vaux de
Vire_[95] poetical compositions, roundelays and Bacchic songs, dating
back to the sixteenth century; this sonnet is not long;[96] it relates
to a drunkard to whom only barley water is given, and who recovers his
health, according to the veracious poet, through a charitable friend,
who breaks the doctor’s orders and fills the patient up with wine. We
have often read this poem with pleasure, and give a condensed extract:

    One of my neighbors sick was lying,
      Gasping with weak and feverish breath:
    “Alas! they’ll kill me,” said he, sighing,
      “Forbidding wine; and barley water’s death.

    “Alas! my thirst is great, annoying;
      I’d like one drink before I die;
    Neighbor, with you one glass enjoying;
      Pray quickly to the vintner’s hie.

    “Dear friend, my wish don’t be denying,
      Always to me you’ve been a brother;
    Now, for the wine in haste go flying,
      We’ll take one parting glass together.

    “Since doctors made me quit a-drinking,
      My flask I’ve left yon in my will.
    These doctors, I can’t help a-thinking,
      Don’t cure as often as they kill.”

    Thus spoke my neighbor, sick and weary.
      Of wine he drank full bottles five;
    The fever left him blithe and cheery;
      He’s still a-drinking, and _alive_.

The Bibliotheque of the French Theatre contains a great number of other
dramatic compositions, as well as comedies and farces, in which doctors
carry principal _roles_, it is true, but more often are introduced for
the mere purpose of giving the author a chance for pleasantry at the
expense of medicine; and these characters sometimes exceed the limit of
license. Some of these works are gems of literary art. We may cite, for
instance, the “Farce of the Doctor who Cures all Diseases,” by Nicholas
Rousset; the “Discours Facetieux” of Coustellier; “The true Physician,
who Cures all Known Diseases;” and several besides, “La Medecine de
Maistre Grimache,” “Le Triomphe de treshaulte et tres puissante Dame
Verolle,” of Francois Juste; “Mary and the Doctor,” “The Sweetheart of
the Family Physician,” as well as some farces by Tabarin—works dating
back to the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

But we shall only take up the study of a few works that have a
veritable literary medical interest, and shall confine ourselves
to the study of the “Farces de Maitre Pathelin, du Munyer et de la
Folie du Monde;” to the moralities of “A’aveugle et du Boiteux, de
Folie et d’Amour;” to the comedies of “La Tresoriere et de Lucelle;”
to the tragedy “De la Goutte,” and to the book of “Gargantua et de
Pantagruel.” This will suffice to give an idea of medicine as portrayed
in the literature of the Middle Ages.

                     THE FARCE OF MASTER PATHELIN.

The farce of Master Pathelin, whose author was Pierre Blanchet, is
certainly the richest jewel in the crown of the old French Theatre;
it was what inspired Moliere in several of his works. Represented
for the first time in 1480, this celebrated farce is one of the most
precious literary monuments for the study of Middle Age morality. It
is a _chef d’œuvre_ of spirit, malice, comedy, and _naivete_, in which
medicine is found in every scene, either in the simulation of disease,
with consultations, with drugs, and, most amusing of all, the eternal
ingratitude of the sick.

All the educated world knows the subject of Master Pathelin: A lawyer
without a case or client; a man living on his wits and expedients,
making dupes and yet retaining a certain degree of professional
correctness in his language and his artifices. Guillemette, his wife,
is his worthy accomplice. It is she who reproaches him with not having
more clients and his reputation of earlier days; of starving her to
death by famine. It is she who excites him by ironically saying:

    “Maintenant chascun vous appelle
    Partout; avocat dessoubz l’orme,
    Nos robes sont plus qu’estamine

And Pathelin responds that he cannot get their clothing out of pawn
without redeeming or stealing it—both things out of the question, as
he has no money and will not commit a crime. It is then that the worthy
couple hit on the credit system to renew their wardrobe. It is for this
purpose he goes to a draper’s to purchase cloth to make new clothes. On
entering the shop he uses the salutation of the period, “God be with
you,” and politely inquires after the shopkeeper’s health, which to
him is very dear. Then he asks after his father’s health, telling him
he resembles his sire like an old picture. Finally, he takes sixteen
yards of fine cloth, and, telling the draper to call at his house in
the evening for his money and to eat, as Master Pathelin expresses
it, “a Rouen goose roasted,” having invited the astonished tradesman
to dine with him, the lawyer walks out with the cloth without paying.
Arriving home he relates his adventure to the delighted Guillemette,
who is overpowered with bewilderment, however, when she learns that the
draper is invited to a roast goose supper. At first it is suggested
that they borrow a tailor’s goose, but fear that the draper will not
appreciate the joke and demand his money legally induces the worthy
couple to adopt a strategem. It is very simple: Master Pathelin is
to feign insanity, or rather that maniacal form of excitation so
frequently employed even at the present day by those who seek to avoid
the consequences of crimes—an excitation principally characterized by
uncontrollable loquacity, mobility of ideas, incoherence, and pretended

These scenes of simulation are extremely curious and interesting. As
soon as the draper enters the wife warns him not to make a noise in the

    “He’s lying in bed. Don’t speak!
    Poor martyr! he’s been sick a week.

But the draper refuses to accept the explanation. It cannot be a week,
he says, for

    “’Tis only this afternoon, you see,

   Your husband bought cloth from me.”

Then the voice of the attorney is heard in the next room shouting to
his wife:

    “Guillemette? Un peu d’eue rose!
    Haussez moy, serrez-moy derriere!
    Trut! a qui parlay. Je? L’esguiere?
    A boire? Frottez moy la plante.”

Rose water in that century was employed to reanimate the strength
of sick people. Among apothecaries it was called _aqua cordialis
temperata_. Rose water was prescribed in the following cases: “_In
mortis subitis et malignis, ubicunque magnus est virium lapsus
præscribitur; quemadmodum etiam prodest a morbo convalescentibus, ad
vires instaurandas._”

Pathelin simulates hallucinations of sight, and uses all manner of
words employed by magicians in their conjurations; he asks the draper
and Guillemette to put a charm around his neck such as are used to
frighten away demons. He then, in his ravings, abuses the doctors for
their malpractice and not understanding the quality of his urine.([97])
Notwithstanding all this the draper is not convinced and demands his
money. We all know what importance was attributed to the examination of
the urine in olden times, long before any search was made for albumen,
sugar, or other morbid principles that it might contain. Charlatans
especially exploited in this field of medicine, practicing it illegally
in the country under the name of _water jugglers_ or _water judges_.
Such men still practice in Normandy and certain northern provinces of

The intestinal functions had also more or less importance in the eyes
of the public, and the physician was not always consulted as when to
give physic. People sent to an apothecary and ordered a clyster with
cassia and other ingredients, according to the following formula of
the pharmacopœia: “_Cassia Pro Clysteribus. Est eadem pulpa cassiæ cum
decocto herbarum aperitirarum extracta et saccharo Thomæo condita.
Oportet autem illas herbas adhibere recentes, parumque decoquere, alias
viribus aperitivis omnio privantur; siccæ autem per se carent virtute
illa aperitiva._”

In the “Revue Historique” of Angers we find a document bearing on the
private life of Cardinal Richelieu; it has for its title: “Things
furnished for the person of His Most Eminent Highness, the Cardinal
Duke Richelieu during the year 1635, by Perdreau, apothecary to his
Excellency.” During the one year the Cardinal had used seventy-five
clysters and twenty-seven cassia boluses, without counting other
laxative medicines and bottles of tisane, his purgative bill amounting
to 1401 livres and 14 sous. It is evident that Richelieu was a badly
constipated Cardinal.

It was a fine period for apothecaries, and we might add that Moliere
did them considerable harm.

Let us return to Master Pathelin. He was allowed a short breathing
spell for Guillemette, fought off the obdurate creditor by making him
leave the room a few moments while her husband used the bedpan.

But this respite is of short duration; the draper soon returns to
demand his cloth back or his money, although the wife declares her
husband “is dying in frenzy.” Then commences another scene of maniacal
simulation in this wonderful psychological play. In his pretended
delirium, Pathelin indulges in Limousin _patois_, Flemish, Lower
Breton; his words grow unintelligible and incoherent in order to
convince the draper of his insanity.

    “Mere de Diou, la coronade,
    Par fie, y m’en voul anar,
    Or renague biou, outre mar,
    Ventre de Diou, zen diet gigone,
    Castuy carrible, et res ne donne.”

Let us pass from a wild Flemish harangue, that possesses but little
interest even to those understanding the dialects.

The psychic symptoms, which dominate in the simulated delirium of
Master Pathelin, are especially incoherent in language with mobility
of ideas. The author of this fine comedy had evidently observed
the progressive instability of thought among certain maniacs, the
impossibility of fixing their attention, the too rapid succession of
ideas without order; in fact, that absolute incoördination, a kind of
cerebral automatism, which is the announcement of the breaking-down
of intellectual faculties and the prelude of absolute dementia. In
his ravings, Pathelin descants on the _Mal de Saint Garbot_, or,
more properly speaking, Garbold; this was dysentery, although such a
scholar as Genin translates it as meaning hemorrhoids. Saint Garbold
who was Bishop of Bayeux in the seventh century, was driven out from
his episcopal chair by his diocesans, and, in order to be avenged, sent
them dysentery.

We may remark, in this connection, that during the Middle Ages many
maladies were called after the Saints, whose aid they invoked in given
diseases; _Saint Ladre_ or _Lazare_, for leprosy; _Saint Roch_, for
the plague; _Saint Quentin_, for dropsy; _Saint Leu_, _Saint Loupt_,
_Saint Mathelin_, _Saint Jehan_, _Saint Nazaire_, _Saint Victor_, for
epilepsy, fever, deafness, madness, etc.

The _mal Saint Andreux_, _mal Saint Antoine_, _mal Saint Firmin_, _mal
Saint Genevieve_, _mal Saint Germain_, _mal Saint Messaut_, _mal Saint
Verain_, designated erysipelas, scurvy, etc. Drunkenness was called the
_mal Saint Martin_.

Syphilis naturally had its patron Saint; in fact, it was known as _mal
Saint homme Job_, _Saint Merais_, _Saint Laurant_, _mal Saint Eupheme_,
etc. In fact, all diseases had as an attachment the name of one or more
Saints, at whose shrine the afflicted might implore aid.

But to return to Master Pathelin: After numerous tirades he finishes
by acknowledging his deceit to the draper. This is an epitome of the
farce of Master Pierre Pathelin, a medical study that had an immense
run in the fifteenth century and remains a valuable document regarding
French morality in the Middle Ages, as interesting to the student of
psychology as to the Theatre. Some years after this (1490) the sequel
to Master Pathelin appeared, called the “Last Will of Pathelin,” which
is also full of strange medical conceits appertaining to the age in
which it was written. In this piece, Pathelin, after years of fraud
and deceit, really becomes ill and sends for the lawyer and priest,
abandoning the doctor to a certain extent. In his will he leaves all
his ailments to different religious orders and charitable institutions,
as, for instance, one _item_ of his will reads as follows:

    “Au quatre convens aussi,
    Cordeliers, Carmes, Augustins,
    Jacobins, soient ors, on Soient ens,
    Je leur laisse tous bons lopins,
    A tous chopineurs et y vrongnes,
    Notre vueil que je leur laisse
    Toutes goutes, crampes et rongnes,
    Au poing, au coste, a la fesse,” etc.

But enough of Master Pathelin. Let us now turn to the consideration of
another curious farce.

                          LA FARCE DE MUNYER.

This farce, whose author was Andre de la Vigne, dates back, like
preceding one, to the fourteenth century. The miller of the Middle
Ages, the ancestor of our present Jack-pudding (French slang for
miller), was in antique times the most rascally and cheating type of
trader, from whence the old Gascon proverb, “One always finds a thief
in a miller’s skin.”

In this farce we see the miller “lying in bed as though sick,” uttering
long groans and sighing over the pains he professes to endure—groans,
however, to which his wife appears insensible. He commences thus:

    “Now am I in sore distress,
      My sickness hard to cure,
    My sore discomfort is not less.
      Heart-ache I can’t endure.”

To this his wife responds indifferently, although the miller persists
in asking for a bottle of good wine, saying that his “reins and belly
need the supreme consolation of the bottle.” The wife obstinately
refuses her husband the wine, remarking that he cannot “repair his
stomach by filling the belly;” but, instead, she sends for the priest,
who is, moreover, her lover, and carries on a flirtation with the holy
man in the presence of her husband, for the purpose of making the
invalid rise from his sick-bed; but, thinking his end near, the miller
demands that he shall be permitted to die in the faith, or “_mourir
catholiquement_.” He confesses to the priest, avowing all his thefts,
his frauds, his falsification and _amours_, and is prepared to render
his soul.

But the miller has absorbed some of the popular ideas of his day,
professed by certain philosophers of the time; he believes that, at the
moment of death, the soul of man escapes by his anus, and warns the
priest to absolve him from his sins, saying:

    “Mon ventre trop se determine.
    Helas! Je ne scay que je face;
    Ostez vous!”

The priest answers:

    “Ha! sauf vostre grace!”

Then the miller remarks:

    “Ostez vous, car je me conchye.”

The wife and the priest pull the sick man to the edge of the bed and
place him in such a position that, if the doctrine of soul departure by
the anus be true, they may witness the miller’s final performance. The
phenomenon of rectal flatulence is now observed, when suddenly to the
consternation of the wife and priest, a demon appears, and placing a
sack over the dying miller’s anus catches the rectal gas and flies off
in sulphurous vapor. In the next act we see the Devil appear before his
patron Lucifer bearing the sack supposed to contain the damned soul of
the miller received in the aforesaid sack at the moment it escaped from
the anus. The devil is commanded by Lucifer to empty the sack at the
feet of Proserpine who is busily engaged in cooking in Hell’s kitchen,
but in place of the miller’s soul they only find _spoiled bran_; the
rascal has cheated even in death.

It seems strange that earlier comedy writers all showed a tendency to
make their principle scenes pathological burlesques. Thus in many plays
the heroes and heroines were attacked by colic in order to excite the
laughter of the audience, when the buffoon would imitate by signs the
act of defecation. This peculiar French gayety and lack of prudery
is fully evidenced in the comic effects of Pourceaugnac with the
detersive, insinuative and carminative clysters of Moliere.

This farce, had in former days, an immense success, and is still
occasionally played, being considered a _chef d’œuvre_ of malice and
humor by our best critics and most distinguished authors. In France
the audience always laugh when a thief while plundering is suddenly
taken with pains in his bowels and diarrhœa, while a rectal syringe
flourished aloft as a weapon of defense will bring down the gallery in
a storm of applause.

                        L’AVEUGLE ET LE BOITEUX

Is another play in which medicine acts a part, by the same author of
the preceding farce; the plot is as follows: A blind man and a lame man
implore public charity on a deserted road; the blind man deplores his
fate as never having seen the light, and the lame man bitterly bemoans
not being able to walk but a few steps at one time, on account of the
gout which has rendered him paraplegic. These two make a mutual avowal
of their infirmities and agree to form a copartnership for mutual
assistance; the lame man climbs on the blind man’s shoulders and they
start out the road in search of charitable persons who may aid them
with alms. On going some little distance the beggars hear a noise; this
is made by a procession of monks going on a pilgrimage to the tomb of
Saint Martin. “What do they say?” asks the blind man; to which the lame
man responds:

    They tell of things curious and quaint,
    Of miracles, wonderous, if true,
    Performed by a newly made saint,
    For whose aid each monk goes to sue;
    This Saint cures all ills he can find,
    Even fits, ulcers, fevers and gout;
    He _healeth the halt_ and the blind
    In a manner that’s past finding out.

We all know the eternal popular faith and belief in the ability of the
Saints to cure every malady that flesh is heir to. However, in the
present instance, it seems that one of the requirements necessary to
be healed was a perfect spirit of resignation to all ills on the part
of the sufferer—_now this is the case of our two mendicants_, who now
become alarmed at the idea that they may be cured and thus deprived
of a method of earning their daily bread, _i.e._, by beggary, so they
undertake a number of subterfuges to escape the pious pilgrimage, which
gives rise to many amusing adventures and situations, which might be
well utilized by some modern playwriter. In the end the two mendicants
escape from going with the pilgrim monks to visit the Saint’s shrine,
as the blind man detests the light and the lame man is too lazy to
walk, in fact both are admirably suited with their afflictions. It is
during one of these scenes that the lame man relates to the blind man
the best methods for deceiving the public by simulating maladies, and
making a regular profession of begging. He discloses all the secrets of
those who in the Middle Ages sought public commiseration to earn alms;
he remarks:

    “Puisque de tout je suis reffait,
    Maulgre mes deus et mon visage,
    Tant feray, que seray deffaict,
    Encore ung coup de mon corsaige,
    Car je vous dis bien que encor scay—je”

    “La grant pratique et aussi l’art,
    Par onguement et par herbaige,
    Combien que soye miste et gaillart,
    Que huy on dira que ma jambe art
    Du cruel mal de Sainct Anthoyne,” etc.

In this lengthy poem, too long to transcribe from the French, the
lame mendicant gives a list of herbs, through means of which various
diseases may be simulated, especially those maladies of the skin that
are repulsive to the majority of mankind; thus he describes the itch
produced by certain varieties of the _clematis_ and the appearance of
leprosy induced by the use of an ointment of which _veronica_ formed
the basis. He also describes how to produce the disease of _Saint
Fiacre_, an affection characterized by warts and ulcers around the
anus. It is useless to add there is nothing new under the sun. Let us
now turn our attention to another play, _i.e._;

                           LUNACY AND LOVE.

This is a play with six characters, written in 1556, by Louise Labe,
sometimes called the _Belle Cordiere_.

Love, at all periods of time, has served as an inexhaustible subject
of analysis and observation, not only to poets and novelists, but
also to moralists, and especially physicians. Psychologists have
always considered love, when excessive, as an evidence of insanity.
Esquirol says that “love has lost its empire in France, indifference
having captivated the hearts of our people, who, given over to amorous
passions, having neither purity nor exhaltation, engender attacks of
erotic lunacy.” This learned alienist has also discovered that out
of 323 cases of insanity among the poor, love figured as a cause in
forty-six cases; and out of 167 cases among the rich, twenty-five
persons went insane on account of love. These close relations between
“Lunacy and Love,” admitted since mankind _entered into society_, have
served as a text for the Middle Ages, as is witnessed by the title of
the play we have mentioned; a work the more curious, for reason of its
_finesse_, notwithstanding the jests employed by its author as the
following analysis will witness.

Love and Lunacy arrive at the same moment at a festival to which
Jupiter has convened all the Gods. Lunacy, full of arrogance, wishes
to enter the banquet-hall before Love, and in order to do so turns
everything topsy-turvy to secure his end. The vindictive Love, in
order to be avenged, discharges a flight of arrows from the historical
quiver; but Lunacy avoids these by becoming invisible, and in his wrath
pulls out Love’s eyes, but afterwards skilfully puts them back in place
with a bandage.

Love, in despair at being blinded, goes to implore the help of his
mother. The latter desires the boy to remove the bandages from his
eyes, but his efforts are useless; they are full of knots. Venus calls
on Jupiter for justice for the injury done her boy. The Father of Gods
accepts the position of arbitrator and cites the offender to appear
before his tribunal. Mercury acts as attorney for Lunacy and Apollo
does the special pleading for Love. In the cross-examination, Love
tries to inform Jupiter of the fashions of loving, and tells him if
he desires true affection and happiness to descend to earth, drop all
appearances of greatness, and, under the guise of a simple mortal, seek
to captivate some earthly beauty. Apollo, speaking for his client,
young Cupid, is so eloquent that all the assemblage of Gods is seduced
by his oratory, and condemns Lunacy without even giving him a hearing.
But Jupiter is impartial in his tribunal, and allows Mercury to argue
for the defense. The latter pleads, in turn, with such eloquence
that one-half the jury is ready to say that Lunacy is not guilty—at
least among Olympian jurors. Jupiter is undecided; he is very wise,
however, and makes the following decision. “Owing to the differences of
witnesses and the importance of the case, we have set the case for a
re-hearing in three times seven times nine centuries—18,900 years—until
which time Folly, or Lunacy, shall lead the Blind (Cupid) anywhere she
chooses to go; and, at the end of the time named, should Cupid’s eyes
be restored, the Fates may decree otherwise.”

Lunacy and Love are thus rendered inseparable and eternal on earth;
they are connected together for the happiness of humanity and the
delight of psychologists, philosophers and moralists, who will always
find in these subjects something new for meditation and study. Need we
add, also, that the alienists will secure any number of clients owing
to Jupiter’s decision?

Let us now turn to a brief mention of

                         THE TREASURER’S WIFE.

This comedy, by Jacques Grevin, a medical poet, born at Clermont, was
written in the sixteenth century. This physician, from his earliest
youth, was enamored with the daughter of one of his confreres, Charles
Etienne; she was a noted beauty, but preferred another doctor, Jean
Liebaut, the author of “La Maison Rustique,” to our poet. In order to
console himself for the loss of his sweetheart, Grevin commenced to
write rhymes, and even surpassed Jodelle, the author of “Cleopatra and
Dido,” by his fecundity. He followed Marguerite de France, wife of the
Duke of Savoy, to whom he was family physician, to Turin, and died
there in 1570.

He left several plays in verse, the principal one of which was “La
Tresoriere,” an adulterous comedy relating to the intrigue of a
financier’s wife. It is only of medical interest inasmuch as it alludes
to syphilis, which at the time this play was written prevailed in
Europe almost as an epidemic, and as a study of the morals of the epoch
is not without interest to the syphilographer. The author, probably
owing to his early disappointment in love, had but a poor opinion of
the virtue of the women in his century, and makes many odd comparisons,
as, for instance:

    “Woman, ’tis often been said,
      Resembles a church lamp bright,
    That hangs on the altar overhead,
      And outshines the candles at night;
    She sheds an equal light on all,
    But without her light, no shadows fall.”

He was no believer in the morality of the aristocratic classes, and
alludes to the laxity of social rules and the spread of syphilis in the
following lines:

    “Aussi la femme a beau changer
    Un familier a l’etranger,
    L’etranger au premier venu,
    Toujours son cas est maintenu
    En son entier, si d’aventure
    Elle n’y mele quelqu’ ordure.”

The reference to the syphilis is here found in the two last lines; if
she has a love affair, there is ordure in the result. The allusion in
other passages is much more apparent, but too impolite for an English

Let us now turn to another curious old French play,


Pharmacists, even at the present day, notwithstanding the rigid laws
to the contrary, often sell narcotics without a prescription. That the
modern druggist only follows the custom of his ancestor is evidenced
by this comedy of the sixteenth century, by Louis Le Jars, _i.e._,

The plot is as follows: At the moment a rich banker gives the hand
of his daughter Lucille to the Baron Saint Amour, he learns that the
former has been already secretly married to one of his clerks, a young
man named Ascagne. In his wrath the banker places a pistol at Ascagne’s
head, offering him at the same moment a goblet of poison, giving him
his choice as to the manner of death. Ascagne chooses poison, and
bravely drinks half the goblet and falls down, apparently inanimate.
The father then has the body of Ascagne carried into his daughter’s
presence, and also the remaining half-goblet of poison; the young woman
does not hesitate to drain the other half of the poison to the dregs,
and drops to the floor, like Ascagne, without consciousness.

Almost immediately following this double poisoning, a courier arrives
and demands Ascagne, who turns out to be the son of the King of Poland.
The banker is in despair, and sends post-haste for the apothecary
who furnished the poison, and the druggist forthwith declare that
the mixture is only a narcotic, the effects of which he can soon
neutralize. Scene of overpowering tenderness and joy, and marriage over
again to a real Prince.

It sometimes happens that physicians themselves give away opiates
without regard for the rights of the _medicamentarius renenum coquens_
of the neighborhood. Jean Auvray, Member of the French Parliament
and poet, evidences this fact in a tragio-comedy entitled “Innocence
Uncovered.” This little play is only a rural version of Phedra and
Hippolyte. Marsilie, in fact, is in love with Fabrice, the son of
Phocus, her husband, by a former marriage. Her passion for the young
man is so violent that she falls ill, and in a visit made her by
Fabrice the latter learns of the love his step-mother bears him, but
loyally repulses her advances. Marsilie, reflecting on the infamy of
her conduct, wishes to kill herself in a fit of remorse; but to prevent
this and calm her, Fabrice promises that if she will not suicide
he will visit her when his father is absent from home. Phocus soon
starts on a journey. Marsilie recalls to Fabrice the promise he made,
but Fabrice answers her offers with contempt and quits her presence
overcome with horror. Acting under the advice of her maid servant,
through fear that the young man may tell his father of her perfidy,
Marsilie consents to poison Fabrice, and sends her _valet_, Thomas, to
see a doctor and thus secure poison. The unfortunate _valet_ is very
much embarrassed and cannot tell the physician exactly what he desires,
and in order to obtain some deadly drug he details the symptoms of
an imaginary malady, and descants in the following manner: “Sir, for
several days past my master, who exceeds the Persians as a gourmand
in the cooking of delicious meats, gave a grand dinner party, equal
to that of the Gods at the wedding festival of Thetis. Now, know
that I, his principal servant, sat behind him; there by his order I
tasted every dish brought in by the butler, when such a terrible fury
broke forth in my belly that I was overcome with fright and agony. The
rumblings and grumblings in my interior were only comparable to the
reverberation of thunder claps among the highest crags of Tartarus.
Hell was astonished and our castle walls shook,” etc., etc.

This narration, which is made in French rhyme and is too long for
reproduction, naturally leads the doctor to prescribe for the impudent
_valet_, who proposes to pay him a hundred crowns for enough poison to
kill his master. The physician is angry and revengeful at the same time
at the _valet’s_ dreadful proposition, but, restraining himself, he
accepts the gold and gives Thomas in place of poison only a soporific
liquor; this the valet brings to his mistress, Marsilie. Now, Antoine,
the only son of Marsilie by Phocus, returning from the chase, sees the
flagon of liquor, and, mistaking it for wine, swallows the contents
at one draught. He falls to the floor unconscious and all believe
him dead. Marsilie accuses Fabrice of poisoning his stepbrother; the
unfortunate young man is taken before the judge, who condemns him to
death; he is about to be executed, when the physician enters on the
scene, tells all that has passed, and restores to life the supposed
dead Antoine.

Marsilie is tried and found guilty and repudiated by her husband and
family; and Fabrice becomes dearer than ever to his father. Without
making further commentaries on this piece, we see the place occupied
on the stage by medicine in the Middle Ages and the social standing of
the physician in polite society. We also note the _irregular_ practice
of the doctor, as well as the high standard of professional honor he
maintained in many instances.

                               THE GOUT.

This tragedy, in poetic form, was composed towards the close of the
sixteenth century by J. D. L. Blambeausaut. It has only three scenes,
and depicts the triumph of the gout. The poet describes an old man
overcome by the multiple pains of podagra, praying to obtain some
slight respite from the atrocious and agonizing pain he endures. The
Gout, an ever malevolent deity, rejects the old man’s prayer for
help, but carries him into a gathering of doctors who are vaunting, in
mutual admiration society fashion, their power in jugulating all forms
of disease and exalting their specifics for every known affection.
In order to punish these arrogant disciples of Æsculapius for their
presumption, the Gout gives them all the disease that bears his name,
and afterwards jeers at their impotent efforts to cure themselves of
aching joints.

This tragedy, name given by the author of the poem, is a very curious
treatise on the gout in rhyme, in which we find all the pathogenetic
theories given credence before the time that medical chemistry revealed
the action of an excess of uric acid in the organism. The blood, bile,
peccant humors settling in the parts affected were, as we all know,
causes attributed to diathesis by the majority of medical authors of
the Middle Ages. Thus the gout-afflicted man, in his imprecations
against what he calls “the torturer of humanity,” comes to say:

    “From the top of my head to the end of my toes
    I am cruelly tortured by agony’s woes,
    Filled up with black blood and billious humor,
    My flesh seems to pulsate like a sore tumor.
    The eating and gnawing I can’t describe well;
    My tendons all ache with the twinges of Hell,
    While through my fingers pains cut like a knife
    And add to my torment! I’m weary of life.”

Meantime our patient does not appear to have a robust faith in the
humoral theories of his physician, for he adds, in accursing the malady
that has ruined his health, that it permits him no repose:

    “Mal que jamais l’homme n’a pu comprendre
    Qui le plus sage induirait a se pendre.”

That is to say, that the doctors do not understand how to manage the
disease, a common idea among patients who are not cured of their malady
as speedily as they desire.

In one of the scenes the gout addresses a pompous eulogy on its power
over humanity, and inveighs against those physicians who discover a new
specific against gout every day. This list of remedies for the disease
is appalling; we cull but a few to satisfy the reader’s curiosity:

    “One advises flea wort and a parsley pill,
    One eats fruit at morning, when with gout he’s ill,
    One chews leaves of lettuce, one takes wild purslain;
    Another smells pond lilies, when he doth complain.
    Some remedies most curious are for gout deemed good,
    Such are herbs and simples to purify the blood;
    Angelica and gentian, the iris and green thyme,
    Along with fresh culled myrtle will cure it all the time;
    Hyssop and lavender, cherry and water cress,
    Basil, hops and anise, all make the pain grow less.
    Lentills, sage and savory, when the bowels they unbind,
    And the marvelous merchoracan that comes from far off Ind.
    There’s the beauteous laurel leaf that crowneth bard and king,
    Privet and cardamoms, whose praise we often sing.
    And there’s the sleeping poppy, what peace within it resides,
    Culled by the Turkish houris in the garden Hesperides;
    There’s the soothing comfrey and the glorious hoarhound,
    And the magic betal nut, in tropic isles that’s found;
    There’s the fragrant _fleur de lis_, when with pain you cry,
    There’s the odorous sheep dung, given always on the sly.
    Some dote on peach blossoms; some on saffron red,
    Some like hyoscyamus mixed with piss-a-bed;
    There’s bread crumbs and fennel mixed with young carrots
    Pounded in a mortar along with eschalots.
    There are some who use an ointment this disease to heal,
    Made of rinds of citron and golden orange peel,
    With frankencense and veratria root, to ease gouty pain,
    Applied to the great toes on the leaves of green plantain.
    There’s saltpeter ointment too, when to the foot applied
    It makes the patient furious wroth, or else he’s terrified,
    Giving the gout new twinges, and the sufferer spasms
    Only eased by eggs and flour in a soft cataplasm.
    Some patients take a razor and their own flesh deeply cut;
    The wound then duly poulticed is with meal and Cyprus nut.
    Some take red cabbage when other methods fail
    And eat it with vinegar mixed with the slime of snail;
    Some use biting dressings made from ugly lizards,
    Pounded up with doe’s hoof and weasel gizzards.
    Many think a certain and most efficacious cure
    Is a little blue stone ointment mixed with man’s ordure,
    And a celebrated surgeon, a knight of great renown,
    Used virgin urine as a cure for all the men in town.
    Some wear charms like foxes’ tails, or a beaver tooth;
    Others boil a new born caul and chew it up, forsooth,”
    etc., etc., _ad nauseam_.

Such are a few of the drugs employed against the gout, and certainly we
cannot enumerate all the remedies spoken of by this malevolent demon.
The treatment of Alexander Trallian, for example, is no less odd than
many of the recipes given in this poetic formulary; it was composed of
myrrh, coral, cloves, rue, peony and birthwort pounded together and
mixed in certain proportions, and prescribed as an antidote to the gout
for the space of 365 days, in the following manner: To be taken for
100 consecutive days, and then omitted for thirty days; then taken for
another 100 days, with fifteen days omission afterwards; finally, every
other day for 360 days. Circumcision was also a remedy, only applicable
to Christians for obvious reasons.[98]

This treatment is an example of the methodical system, and “rests
upon superstitious gifts,” says Sprengel. But there are some merits
discoverable even in this apparent superstition, _i.e._, the great
truth that the gout is a constitutional disease produced by luxury, and
consequently incurable by medicines; a severe regimen being imposed, at
the same time foolish prescriptions were given; it was the dieting and
not the formula that made Alexander Trallian’s treatment so successful.
However, it must not be forgotten that some medicines had a powerful
effect in attenuating the violence of the gouty attack; it was for
this reason that Cœlius Aurelianus resorted to purgatives and mineral
waters; and among the drugs used by chance in the Middle Ages were
found the flowers and bulbs of colchicum; the haughty Demon of Gout
dared not treat this remedy with disdain.

Meantime the _Gout_ addressed the following lines to the physicians and
_mires_ of the age.

    “Gardez vous, Siriens;
    Menteurs magiciens,
    Vendeurs de theriaque,
    Qu’elle ne vous attaque.”

To call the doctor of ancient times a “_vender of Theriacum_” was an
insult to professional pride. This absurd remedy was invented by one
of Nero’s slaves, and held a high place in public estimation. “It was
laid down in the pharmacopœias, _ad ostentationem artis_,” says Pliny,
“and enjoyed a reputation that was never justified by its thirty-six
ingredients and the varied assortment of inert gums entering into its

In the third scene of the tragedy, the Demon Gout, recalls to the
memory of the doctors of the Middle Ages, its illustrious victims of

    “Priam, disposed to run, had gout;
    Achilles was too lame to get about;
    Bellerophon’s saddle toes complained;
    Ædipus had big joints that pained;
    Plisthenes on his feet, all swollen stood,
    Cursing the gout that coursed with his blood.”

How many other of the great have wept with the gout?

Then calling his faithful servitors, Pain, Insomnia, and Indigestion,
the Demon Gout bids them plunge his fiery darts into his enemies, to
burn them with an unquenchable flame:

    “Toy, brule ici par des douleurs nouvelles
    Le chef premier, les cuisses et tendons,
    Toy, convertis leur nerfs en noir charbons,
    Et vous aussi, d’une fureur soudaine,
    Froissez leurs mains, rendez leur drogue vaine.”

With this superb peroration, he afflicts all good doctors with the
gout and rheumatism. Since that day physicians the world over, says
our talented author, J. D. L. Blambeausaut, have been the victims of
this horrible malady. Let us now turn to the consideration of a curious
hygienic play, no less interesting than that of the Gout,


This moral play, to which we might give the title of hygienic poetry,
appeared in 1507, under the name of its author, Nicolas de la Chesnaye,
along with another work, the latter in prose, on the “Government of the
Human Body.”

Nicolas de la Chesnaye was not only a poet but a doctor. He was a
physician of enough importance to be personal friend and medical
attendant of Louis XII, at whose instigation the poetical play was
written. This work is considered by many French critics to be a classic
of its kind; it is a poem dealing with all the curious manners and
customs of the time, and treats of morality and the stage. In a
prologue Nicole de la Chesnaye informs us how he came to be a poet, or,
rather, a writer of verses to be recited on the public stage, in which
were embodied the hygienic and dietetic precepts of the epoch, together
with the medical doctrines in vogue. Let us cite a few lines from this
prologue: “Oh, ye who write or attempt to follow copies of ancient
works, ye should strive to omit such phrases as are difficult to be
understood by the masses of the people; endeavor then to not exceed in
quantity and quality their mental capacity and your own understanding.
On such an occasion as this, I, who am ignorant as compared to many
among ye, have had the hardihood to compose and put in rhyme this
little play of mine upon morality. The intention of this work is to
make an exterminating war on gluttony, debauchery, inebriety, and
avariciousness, and to praise and extol temperance, virtue, sobriety,
and generosity, to the end of improving mankind. So in this work I have
given the personages of my play the names of different maladies, as,
for example, Apoplexy, Epilepsy, Dropsy, Jaundice, Gout, etc., etc.”

The object of the author’s play is thus plainly stated at the outset.
In the first act we see Dinner, Supper, and Banquet conniving against
honest gentlemen by inviting them to feast. Among the plotters are also
Good Company, Fried Meats, Gourmandizer, Drink Hearty, and others. In
the midst of the festivities rascals fall on the assembled guests and
give them deadly blows; these villains are Apoplexy, Gout, Epilepsy,
Gravel, and Dropsy. Almost all the guests present are more or less
injured, and upon their complaint their assailants are cited to appear
before a court held by Judge Experience, while the attorneys for the
plaintiffs and defendants are Remedy, Medical Aid, Sobriety, Diet, and
Old Pills. The trial, carried on in rhyme, is piquant and amusing, and
ends in the conviction of Supper, who is condemned to wear bread and
milk handcuffs. Dinner is doomed to a long exile on penalty of being
hung should he return. Supper is well pleased with the light sentence.
One of the attorneys abuses wine during the course of his argument for
plaintiffs, as, for instance:

    “Good wine is full of wicked lies,
    Good wine a wise man will despise,
    Good wine corrupts the blood and tongue,
    Good wine has many a fellow hung.[100]
    Good wine lascivious men will rue.
    Good wine, though red, makes drinkers blue.
    Good wine means lost ability,
    Good wine means lost docility.
    Good wine means jaundiced liver pain.
    Good wine means a wild, raving brain.
    Good wine means arson, murder, lust,
    Good wine means prison chains and rust.
    Good wine means broken family ties.
    Good wine means woman’s tears and sighs.
    Good wine makes cowards of the brave.
    Good wine digs a good drinker’s grave.”

He then goes on and gives examples, as, for instance, Alexander the
Great killing his foster-brother Clitus at a drinking banquet; he cites
the opinions of Saint Jerome and Terrence; he depicts Lot debauching
his daughters and Noah exposed to the mockery of his sons; he shows
Holofernes decapitated by Judith, and places all these cases to the
credit of intemperance. Then he adds a long list of diseases resulting
from drink, of which we shall only quote one verse of the original:

    “D’ou vient gravelle peu prisie
          Y dropsie,
          Ou pleuresie’
    Collicque qui les boyaulx touche?
    Dont vient jaunisse, ictericie
          Et squinancie?
    Tout vient de mal garder la bouche.”

In quaint old French all the symptoms of alcoholism are perfectly
enumerated. It is evident that the epilepsy mentioned by the author is
only the epileptiform convulsion noticed in modern cases of chronic

As to the _ictericie_, which a modern critic has translated as meaning
_black humor_, it is nothing more than what is now known as cirrhosis
of the liver. Nicole de la Chesnaye was a physician; his critical
commentator not much of one. We cannot follow this classical author
through the innumerable reasons he gives for blaming liquor drinking
and his high tributes of praise to the cause of Middle Age temperance,
and we cannot quote those original strophes on the ancient satirical

    “Le satirique Juvenal
    Avoit bien tout cousidere.
    Quand il dist qu’il vient tant de mal
    De long repas immodere,” etc., etc.

In another scene the drunken revelry of the Banqueters is re-enacted,
on the return of the convicts from exile, and another temptation to the
weak and young and foolish. In fact, one of the youths present, Folly
(_Le Fol_), is attacked and badly used up by the villain Gravel. The
poor fellow cries:

    “Alarme! Je ne puis pisser
    La Gravelle me tient aux rains!
    Venez ouyr mes piteux plains,
    Vous, l’Orfevre et l’Appoticaire.”

Then follows a comical scene of suffering, couched in such language as
would offend modern ears polite, and, therefore, out of respect to the
reader omitted.

In this play are many dialogues between Hippocrates, Galen, Avicenna,
and Averrhoes, who discuss medical topics at length, but these are too
lengthy for reproduction in this epitomized translation.

The morality of Nicole de la Chesnaye is full of good intentions, but
it is questionable whether he accomplished any considerable result in
reforming the morals of the Middle Ages; he perhaps fell as short in
his aim as modern hygienists on the morality of our own epoch. The same
instincts predominate now as in days of antiquity; the society man of
to-day is generally a mere digestive tube, serving to keep alive the
more or less badly served vital organs.

                        THE FOLLY OF THE WORLD.

This is a farce by the same Nicole de la Chesnaye. It was acted in
1524, and one of his chief personages in the play depicted a doctor of
the period. The following is a short analysis of this really curious

_Grandmother Sottie_ leads to the _World_ several persons whom she
desires the latter to watch while plying their avocations; the
_shoemaker_ makes his boots _too tight_ always; the _dressmaker’s_
dresses are ever _too large_; the _priest’s_ masses are said _too long_
or _too short_. This bad showing on the part of the World’s workers
make his mundane majesty sick. He sends a specimen of his urine to the
doctor, who, after a scientific examination, declares the World’s brain
is affected, and also that his new-found client must be visited in
person. On meeting the World he interrogates him as to his health, and
asks questions which might serve to make a diagnosis. The World tells
the doctor he is no longer afraid of water on the brain, but of being
consumed in a deluge of fire. The doctor then utters the following
wise and rather satirical observations:

    “World! be not troubled in thinking of fire,
      Let your mind on that score be at peace.
    Know that each monk, and low, rascally _friar_
      Sells and buys a good, fat benefice;
    Why, even the children, your subjects in arms,
      Are born to be _Abbots_, _Bishops_, and _Priors_,
    While church-bells keep ringing false fire alarms.
      But, great World, _all the clergy_ are liars!
    Their flattering’s truly their sweetest incense,
      Yet the parasites fawn for your treasures;
    Ah! church love for war was ever intense,
      And their doctrines mar all earthly pleasures.”

The World is so impressed by the doctor’s remarks that he immediately
weds Folly. Ever since, it is needless to remark, the World has enjoyed
pleasure without as much dread of fire. It is an easy matter to seize
the apologue sought by the author.

Here we see, as early as the sixteenth century, the social reforms
begun by medicine and continued up to the eighteenth century. The
abbots, priors and other gentry of the Church, who lived in idleness
and luxury, holding sinecures for which the masses were taxed; the
flatterers of bastard princes, the agents of the rich and aristocratic,
ruled the country and made wars costing thousands of lives for the
glory of the Church—_i.e._, _themselves_. These are the parasites that
epidemically attack the _World_.

                       GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL.

Among the famous galaxy of philological stars of the sixteenth century,
the men who honored their age, we may enumerate Montaigne, Amyot,
Calvin, Marot, Michel de l’Hospital, Etienne Dolet,[101] and the
one great genius who eclipsed them all, the immortal Rabelais, who
was at once physician, philosopher, politician, philanthropist and
_litterateur_; in other words, he illustrated science and letters by
his erudition, and merits a place in the ranks of glorious Frenchmen
and among the list of benefactors of humanity.

Son of a wine-house keeper, the owner of the “Lamprey Tavern,” at
Chinon, he took orders in the Church, following the custom of the
epoch, because he wished to devote his life to study. During some years
he led the life of a monk, and was a close student of Latin and Greek
literature; to the latter especially he owes his concise, nervous,
but virile style, resembling that of Aristophanes. But soon fatigued
with religious hypocrisy, whose victim he refused to become, he left
the Cordelier and Benedictine Orders and sought refuge in the charming
village of Leguge, that his intimate friend, the Bishop of Maillezais,
had placed at his disposal.

Here, Rabelais gave himself up with ardor to the study of belle lettres
and science, only meeting socially the freethinkers, with whom he
discussed those great philosophic questions that had just commenced
to occupy the minds of the really thoughtful. Such superior men as
Estissic, Bonaventure Desperriers, Clement Marot, Jean Bouchet,
Guillaume, Bude, and Louis Berquin were the friends of Rabelais.

Etienne Dolet, the poet, philosopher and celebrated printer, who laid
down his life in opposition to monarchial and religious tyranny, was
the very particular friend and adviser of Francois Rabelais, and one
day traced for him the programme of a book destined, to his mind, to
unveil the vices and console the mass of victims who suffered from
social iniquities.

“Yes,” responded Rabelais, in answer,[102] “a book truly humane must be
addressed to all. The time has arrived when philosophy must leave the
clouds and shine like the sun for the entire universe. We must, from
this hour, suck from the breast of truth for the ignorant and learned.
I will see what is in me, and write a book of philosophy, which shall
instruct, console and amuse the brave vintners of Deviniere and the
jolly wine-drinkers of Chinon, as well as the learned. So well shall
this be done that Princes, Kings, Emperors and paupers may drink gayly
at one table together. The _truth_, no matter how hard to reach, and
rugged though its nature, must be related as truly as that found in
God’s book; and it shall be presented in a living form, so human and
natural that it will be accepted by all the world, and awaken in the
soul of mankind a common thought. What use is there, unless supported
on eternal conscience, to recount to good and true men the histories
that they love to have related, histories they themselves have made?
For instance, the ‘History of Giants,’ so much printed in our age,
since the divine art of bookmaking seems so well adapted to an end.
Through all of France I hear told the dreadful prowess of the enormous
giant Gargantua; it is necessary to lay violent hands on this history,
include in it all the world, and hand it back thus _newly created_
to the good people who invented the tale. Here is the true secret;
we derive from the humble class of citizens their plain and simple
ideas, and give them back ornamented with all the good things that the
study of philosophy brings us. The rustic thoughts of the villager,
such is the point I wish to attain, in divulging treasures hidden in
secret up to the present time by the enemies of light.” Such was the
plot conceived by the immortal Rabelais, which soon served as a basis
for “Gargantua and Pantagruel.” Thus, under the familiar form of an
impossible and exaggerated fictitious history, following the advice of
Dolet, our author proposed to attack in his book all the hypocritical
prejudices, superannuated ideas, together with the political and
religious superstitions of the Middle Ages;[103] he thus paved a way
for a Revolution, that must some day be accomplished in social morals,
to the profit of science and reason. In order to change the control
of orthodox and monarchial guardians, it was necessary to resort to
stratagems, to dissimulate in his plans of attack and use the ideas and
language of the superior classes. He had often heard the aristocracy
use vulgar and obscene expressions, and he was to put these back in the
mouths of his characters, so as to depict their unrestrained passions,
intrigues, _amours_, the luxury of their dress, their penchant for
disputation, their tendency to sensuality; all these were to be part of
his projected romance, which was not to be understood as irony even in
the sense of its paraboles.

The official sanction to publication was to be obtained by making
the authorities believe that the author was only a gay and witty
philosopher, a prince of good fellows whose doctrines were not
dangerous to the continuance of the nobility and the prerogatives of
the aristocracy; whose ideas presented nothing subversive, neither
as to the secular power nor to sacerdotal domination. Meantime, the
Sorbonnists, whom Rabelais had the impudence to rail at, doubted
perhaps the position reserved for them in such a satire, as for several
years previous they had been secretly hostile to him, which was a
serious matter, considering their influence.

The condemnation to the stake of Louis Berquin, as a propagator of
reform ideas; the pursuit of Desperriers, accused of Atheism; and the
red danger-signals waving on every hand, determined Rabelais, before
publishing his work, to quit Touraine and to go to Montpellier, where
he demanded protection of the Faculty. His natural pronounced taste for
the natural sciences, the avidity with which he continually extended
the circle of his knowledge, and, above all, the liberty of University
life, had long before attracted the former monk towards the study of

It was under these conditions that Rabelais left Longey to go to
Montpellier, where his reputation for erudition, keen wit and most
perfect good nature had long before preceded him.

The reading of all the classical Greek authors, and principally
Aristotle, had initiated him in the natural sciences to that extent
that he was ready to receive his degree of “Bachelor in Medicine”
shortly after his arrival at the University, under the following
circumstances: He had followed the crowd of students who read theses in
the public halls, and thus mingled with the auditors at the meeting;
the discussion was on the subject of botany. The arguments of the
orators appeared so weak to Rabelais that he soon manifested signs of
impatience by a very sarcastic remark that drew the attention of the
Dean to the newcomer. He was invited to enter the enclosure reserved
for doctors who debated, but excused himself on the grounds that his
opinions would not be proper to enunciate before such a gathering of
_savants_, and that he was, besides, only a Bachelor; but, being
pressed by the crowd, who seemed pleased by his appearance and manner,
he treated the question under discussion in such a masterly manner, and
with an eloquence so unequalled, that rounds of applause greeted him on
every side; his knowledge of the subject seemed unbounded. The Faculty
was so pleased that he was immediately honored with the Baccalaureat.
This was in November, 1530.

Rabelais had not taken his doctor’s bonnet when his great medical
talent was fully known and appreciated by the professors of the Medical
Department of Montpellier, where his winning grace, good humor, and
communicative gayety made him friends everywhere.

Two of his boon companions at the University were Antoine Saporta, who
afterwards became Dean of the Faculty, and Guillaume Rondelet; with
these men he inaugurated at Montpellier theatrical representations with
a medical leaning. He wrote some celebrated farces, among others “The
Dumb Wife” (_La Femme Mute_), in which he himself assumed a leading
_role_—a farce which is related, as to plot, in “Pantagruel,” by
Panurge, under the title of “History of a Good Husband who Espoused a
Dumb Wife.” The following is an extract: “Now, the good husband wished
that his wife might speak, and, thanks to the skill of a doctor and
surgeon, who cut a piece from under the tongue, the woman commenced
to talk, and she talked and talked with recovered speech, as though
to make up for lost time, until the husband returned to the doctor
for a remedy to keep his wife’s mouth shut. The physician responded
that he had proper remedies for making women speak, but no remedy had
ever been discovered to keep a wife’s tongue quiet. The only thing
he could suggest to the husband was for the latter to become deaf in
order not to hear the woman’s voice. The old reprobate submitted to
an operation in order to be deaf, and, when the physician demanded
his fee for professional services, the husband answered that he was
too deaf to hear anything.” Then the doctor, in order to make the man
pay his bill, strove to restore his hearing by forcing drugs down the
husband’s throat, whereupon both husband and wife fell on the physician
and surgeon and so beat both medical men with clubs that they were left
for dead. This farce was played at Montpellier by a company of medical
students, and enjoyed an immense run of success. It was this farce that
helped Moliere out in one of his scenes in his famous play “Medecin
malgre lui.”

His literary productions, strange to say, did not injure his scientific
work meantime. During the time he resided at Montpellier he published
a translation of some of the works of Hippocrates and Galen, and also
commenced his “Pantagruel,” in which medical history may find some
valuable documents, for he showed himself to be in every line not
only a physician but a philosopher.[104] We will not return to this,
as it is too long, and would take an infinity of time to recall his
anatomical erudition, and it is needless to say he dissected as well
as he wrote. A very just conception of his style is obtained from the
description of the combat between Brother John and the soldiers of
Pichrocole, who had invaded the Abbey of Seville, a description which
is terminated in these droll lines: “Some died without speaking, others
spoke without dying; some died in speaking, others spoke in dying.”

In all his chapters it is easy to perceive that Rabelais never once
forgot he was a physician, and consequently a philanthropist, for could
the author of “Pantagruel” be otherwise? He pleased all those who
suffered, especially gouty patients, to whom he dedicated a portion of
his work. He states, at the beginning of his prologue, to Gargantua,
“This is for those who love gayety, for laughter is a proper attribute
of man.”

It was this same sentiment of humanity which led Rabelais to give
disinterested services to syphilitics, that unfortunate class of sick
whom the majority of doctors disdained to treat in the sixteenth
century. In 1538 he went to Paris and made great efforts to reform the
treatment to which such patients were barbarously subjected; the number
of such sufferers was great. He works this fact into the description
that Epistemon gives of Hell, “where, not counting Pope Sextus, there
are five millions of poxed devils, for there is as much pox in one
world as in the other.” But Rabelais, alas for modern theories, did
not fish in the ether with hook and line for microbes, while holding
the white hands of Venus.

It was Rabelais, then, who pleaded the cause of these poor poxed
patients, attacked by mercury as well as the syphilis, and who
exclaims: “How often I have seen them when they were anointed and
greased with mercurial ointment; their faces as sharp as a butcher
knife and their teeth rattling like the key-board of a broken-down
organ or the creaking motion of an old spinnet.”

It is evident he employed sweating baths, however, since it is
evidently proved by that passage from the redoubtable “Pantagruel’s”
nativity: “For all sweat is salt, as is evidenced if you but taste your
own sweat, or, a better experiment still, try that of pox patients when
they are being sweated.”

We know, besides, that G. Torella, affirms that “the best methods of
curing pox is to make the patient sweat near a stove or hot oven for
fifteen consecutive days, while fasting meantime.”

Syphilis, as already remarked, was exceedingly common in the sixteenth
century, as will be found by referring to the writings of Italian and
French specialists of that epoch. Rabelais corroborates this fact, for
he frequently alludes to this malady in his works; according to our
illustrious author great personages were not exempt from the disease,
not even the Pope and the Sacred College of Rome, not even kings and
princes, in fact all the nobility, for we read in chapter seventeen of
“Pantagruel”: “Moreover, Pope Sextus gave me fifteen hundred pounds
of rents on his domains for having cured His Holiness of _la bosse
chancreuse_, which so much tormented him that he feared to be crippled
all his life.” Now, a protuberant chancre was nothing but an inguinal
bubo, whose suppuration was considered as a favorable symptom of the

Even the good “Pantagruel” did not escape, more than others, the
fashionable contagion of his time, for we read: “Pantagruel was taken
sick, and his stomach was so disordered that he could neither eat nor
drink; and as misfortunes never come singly, he was seized with a
clap, which tormented him more than you would think, but his physician
succored him well, and by means of drugs, lenitive and diuretic, they
caused him to urinate away his misfortune (_pisser son malheur_). And
his urine was so hot that since that time it has never grown cold, and
there are different places in France where he left his mark, now called
the _hot baths_, as, for instance, at Cauterets, Limoux, Dax, Balaruc,
Neris, and Bourbon-Lancy.”[105]

The chapters of Rabelais’ famous book which most evidence his medical
knowledge are those discussing the perplexities of Panurge on the
question of marriage. Pantagruel has long commented _pro_ and _con_,
but has not fully made up his mind; he does not demand a solution
of the matrimonial problem from Gods, dreams, nor from the oracles
of Sibyls. He, however, consents to take council from Herr Trippa,
allegorical name bestowed by Rabelais on the German Camilla Agrippa,
of Neterheim, a philosopher and physician best known by his books on
alchemy, magic, and occult science. This _savant_ proposed to unveil
our heroes’ future destiny by “pyromancy, æromancy, hydromancy,
gyromancy”; or, better still, by “necromancy I will make a spirit rise
from the dead, like Apollonius of Tyana to Achilles, like the Witch of
Endor to Saul, who will tell you all, even as Erichto, dead and rotten
in body, rose in spirit and predicted to Pompey the issue of the battle
of Pharsalia.”[106]

Panurge always refuses, but finishes by taking advice from a priest,
physician, lawyer, and philosopher, who elucidate the question. The
consultation with the physician Rondibilis, that is to say, the
author’s friend Guillaume Rondelet, fellow student of Rabelais at the
University of Montpellier, is particularly interesting to all doctors
by reason of the anatomical and physiological arguments.

The good physician Rondibilis thus responds to Panurge on the question
of marriage:

“You say that you feel within yourself the sharp pricking stings
of sensuality. I find in our Faculty of Medicine, and we found our
opinion on the ideas enunciated by the ancient Platonists, that carnal
concupiscence is controlled in five manners.

“_Imprimis_, by wine; for intemperance in wine makes the blood
cold, slackens up the cords, dissolves the nerves, dissipates the
generative seed, stupefies the senses, perverts muscular movement;
which weaknesses are all impediments to the act of generation. Hence
it is that Bacchus, God of tipplers, bousers, and drunkards, is always
painted beardless and dressed in a woman’s habit, like unto a thing
effeminate or a eunuch. You know full well the antique proverb, _i.e._,
that Venus is chilled without the society of Ceres and Bacchus.”

These reflections on the general effects of alcohol on the nervous
system are very just. As to its particular effects on the function
of generation, it is admitted by all hygienists that alcohol taken
occasionally in excess excites venereal desires, but when taken
habitually it weakens the generative functions. Amyot remarks that
“_those who drink much wine are slothful in performing the generative
act, and their seed are good for nothing, as a rule_.”

Rondibilis told Panurge the truth. Let us now see what other advice he
gave his patient, and also note the methods by which he proposed to
secure the best possible completion of the conjugal act.

“_Secondly_, the fervency of lust is abated by means of certain drugs
and plants, which make the taker cold-blooded towards women; in other
words, unfit him for the act of copulation. Such are the water lily,
agnus castor, willow twigs, hemp stalks, tamarisk, mandrake, gnat
flower, hemlock, and others; the which entering the human body by their
elementary virtues and specific properties freeze and destroy the
prolific germinal fluid, and obstruct the generative spirit instead of
leading it to those passages and conduits designed for its reception by
Nature, and, by preventing expulsion, prevent man from undertaking the
feat of amorous dalliance.”

We will not enter into a discussion of the anaphrodisiac value of
the plants mentioned by Rondibilis. We still recognize the soothing
properties of _Agnus Castus_ and _vitex_, or monk’s powder, as it is
sometimes called; also that of belladonna, hemlock, digitalis, lupulin,
camphor, and hempseed; as for tamarack and willow bark, their virtues
are at least doubtful.

But from this passage from Rabelais we must conclude that the
therapeutic uses of plants was already well known in the sixteenth

Again says Doctor Rondibilis: “Passion or lechery is subdued by hard
labor and continual toiling, which makes such a dissolution in the
whole body that the blood has neither time nor leisure to spare for
seminal resudations or superfluity of the third concoction. Nature
particularly reserves itself, deeming it much more necessary to
conserve the individual rather than to multiply the human species. Thus
the chaste Diana hunted incessantly. Thus the tired and overworked
are said to be ‘castrated.’ We continually see semi-impotency among
athletes. In this manner wrote Hippocrates in his great work, ‘_Liber
de Aere, Aqua, et Locis_’: ‘There is in Scythia a tribe which has been
more impotent than eunuchs to venereal desires, because these people
live continually on horseback and hard work. To the contrary, idleness,
the mother of luxury, begets sexual passion.’”

There is no necessity for long commentaries to demonstrate that manual
labor and active physical exercise lessen the natural tendency to
erotic ideas. The workingman and peasant are, as all the world knows,
less given to the passion of love than the idle and luxurious of the
cities. And the reasons given above by the Middle Age physicians are
to-day admitted by all physiological writers.

But let us continue the advice of Rondibilis:

“Fervent study diminishes the erotic tendency, for under such
conditions there is an incredible resolution of the spirits, so that
they never rest from carrying on a generative resolution. When we
contemplate the form of a man attentive to his studies we shall see all
the arteries of the brain tied down as though with a cord, in order to
furnish him spirits sufficient to keep filled the ventricles of common
sense, imagination, apprehension, memory, co-ordination,” etc.

These rather vague and imperfect physiological explanations are
open to discussion, but we all are aware that an excess of work, of
intellectual labor applied to science, letters, or arts, is recognized
to-day as a cause for weakening of venereal desires and the forerunner
of impotency.

Again says Rondibilis: “As to the venereal act, again: I am of the
opinion that the desire is subdued by the methods resorted to by
the Hermits of Thebaide, who macerate their bodies so as to quell
sensuality; this they do twenty-five or thirty times a day, to reduce
the rebellion of the flesh.”

This is to say that a certain cause of impotence consists in an excess
of genital apparatus, no matter of what variety; and we will add what
the physician of Montpellier has not mentioned, that this maceration,
which was nothing else than masturbation, superinduced spermatorrhœa,
the morbid effects of which, on the human economy, are well known.

It is unnecessary to follow our Master Rondibilis in all his
dissertations regarding the anatomical and moral imperfections of
women, which he attributes to the misleading of Nature’s ordinary good
sense, which he thinks “molded women more for the delectation of man
and the perpetuity of the species rather than to secure perfection in
the individual.” One thing is certain, that is, that he speaks with
much physiological spirit, and that the amiable Panurge is so enchanted
with the learned talk of Doctor Rondibilis that he does not forget
to pay him a consultation fee, for, says the veracious chronicles,
“Approaching him he put in his hand, without saying a word, four
_nobles a la rose_, the which Rondibilis accepted gracefully.” These
coins were made of fine gold, and struck off in 1334 by Edward III., of
England. They had on one side the figure of a ship, and on the other a
rose, arms of the Houses of York and Lancaster. This consultation was
royally paid for in money of the Realm.

If we study Rabelais closely we find he was a contagionist of
pronounced type, and believed in no other prophylactic against
pestilence except flight from the contaminated country. This is what he
makes his character “Pantagruel” do when the latter was in a village
“which he found most pleasant to dwell in, had not the plague chased
him out.” In another passage our author remarks: “The cause of plague
is a stinking and infecting exhalation.” It must be added, however,
that the plague was endemic at this epoch, and people, on the word
of prophets, attributed the cause to divine wrath. The roads were
crowded with pilgrims going to make vows and prayers at the chapel of
Saint Sebastian. How often had Rabelais endeavored to combat these
superstitions! As a proof of this let us make another short quotation
from the great satirist: “False prophets announce this lie! They thus
blaspheme the Just and the Saints of God, whom they make out to be
demons of cruelty. These canting hypocrites, the clergy, preach in my
native Province that Saint Anthony gives erysipelas, Saint Eutrope
gives dropsy, Saint Gildas makes people insane, and Saint Gildus
perpetuates the gout. I am amazed that our glorious King allows these
impostors to preach such scandalous lies in his realm; and they should
be punished rather than those who, by magic or otherwise, may bring the
plague into the country. The _plague_ only kills the body; but clerical
impostors poison human souls.”

It required a grand amount of courage to hold and express such
opinions in the sixteenth century, in the very face of the butchers
of the Inquisition. This courage was not acquired by Rabelais from
his philosophic studies nor his religious ideas; it was inspired by
scientific convictions, of which the Holy Office dared not demand a
retraction, as it did in the case of Galileo. _For the Papacy, from the
earliest periods of time, has always avoided controversy with medical
science._ And we may recall here the device that Rabelais inscribed
in his heart, as on the first page of his books: “_To Doctor Francois
Rabelais and to his friends_.” He was proud of his medical title, and
he considered practice (and we mention this fact inasmuch as an ancient
writer has claimed he did not belong to our glorious profession) as
a sort of magistral and sacerdotal duty, and demanded, as the first
condition for making a doctor, that the candidate for the honored
medical degree should have _a healthy heart_.

It was for his patients’ edification that he composed portions of his
books. He wished to calm their senses by revealing to them the great
spectacle of the world; and its purpose is all apparent, _i.e._, to
inspire among mankind a love for humanity; having no other personal
ambition himself than to play the part of doctor in the _role_ of life,
to dress the wounds of the unfortunate, to treat diseases of the body
and minister to the low-spirited and downhearted.

The strong masculine independence of his character is noted in the
manner in which he has attacked all oppressions, be they from science
or the Princes of the Church. He refused to blindly submit to the
authority of the so-called masters in physics, and reserved the right
to freely discuss their doctrines. “Hippocrates, Galen and Aristotle,”
he remarks, “great as they are, never knew all. Science is the work of
many successions of generations, and that which makes its grandeur so
mysterious is that the more we know the more new problems are presented
us for solution. Science, like, Nature, is infinite.” This lofty
language deeply astounded thinkers, and roused against its author that
same servile Pontifical party that prowled and plotted in the gilded
antechamber of the aristocratic chateaux-owners of the day; the same
variety of creatures we see to-day circulating, Indian file, through
the corridors of our academies, faculties and courts. For the new as
for the ancient, it is always the same word of the past, _Magister
dixit_. That never changes.

While acting as professor at Lyons, Rabelais gave “a course of
anatomical lectures, given with so much eloquence,” writes Eugene
Noel, “as to astonish all listeners; and he showed his audience
how man was constructed, like a magnificent and precious piece of
architecture, a thing of grace and beauty, so that the people crowded
to the lecture-room to hear him. Dolet followed these lectures. One
day Rabelais lectured on the cadaver of a man who had been hanged, and
he discoursed on his subject with so much grace and warmth, showing
so clearly the miracle of our nature, that Dolet, leaving the hall,
exclaimed: “Would I were hanged and I should be so could I be the
occasion of so divine a discourse!” Some passages of this celebrated
lecture may be found embodied in “Pantagruel;” for we see that he
taught, outside the grandeur of creation, respect for life and _what a
sacred thing blood is_.

Says Rabelais: “A single labor pain of this world is to manufacture
blood continually. In this work each member has its proper office.
Nutrition is furnished by the whole of nature; it is the bread, it
is wine—these are the aliments of all species. In order to find and
prepare this material, the hands of mankind work, the feet climb and
bear the machinery, the eyes lead us, the tongue tastes for us, the
teeth masticate our food, while the stomach receives and digests.” Here
our anatomist dwells somewhat at length on the formation of the blood
and the part played in digestion by our organs, adding:

“What joy among these dispensing officers of the body when, after their
complex work and hard labor, they see this stream of red gold. Each
limb separates and opens to assimilate or purify anew this treasure,
_the blood_. The heart, with its musical diastole and systole,
subtilizes it so that, met at the ventricle, it is perfection; then,
by the veins, it returns from all the limbs. The harmony of Heaven is
no greater than that of the body of man. One is overwhelmed and lost
when endeavoring to penetrate the depths of this wonderful microcosm.
Believe me, there is therein something divine; ah! this _little world_
is so good that, this alimentation achieved, _it thinks already for
those who are not yet born_.”

This extract from Rabelais serves to repel the accusation of scepticism
so often made against him, and we see two men in the personality of the
celebrated writer of the sixteenth century: the _savant_ who enriched
_belle lettres_, and the popular philosopher who addressed himself to
the disinherited of fortune and science. It was for the latter that he
claimed from secular power the right to the material satisfactions of
life, aside from the opinion of Pope and Church. Rabelais was the very
incarnation of philanthrophy and in this above all other things he has
honored the medical profession, of which he is an immortal member.

Rabelais it was who wished to be Architriclinus for the poor, for the
indigent, the joyous heart of the Pantagruelist. It was to the latter
that he remarked: “Drink merry friends, eternally, drink like hungry
fishes. I shall, be your cup-bearer and host; I shall attend to your
thirst, and never fear that the wine will fall short as at the wedding
in Cana. As much as you draw from the tap, as much more will I astonish
you at the bung; so that the wine cask shall never be empty; source of
all life’s enjoyment, perpetual spring of happiness.”

The recollection of his youth, so calm and joyous in his father’s
saloon, “the Lamprey Tavern,” amid the brave drinkers and gay wits,
with full goblets of the rich Septembral vintage, pure, sparkling,
rosy, grape juice, the glorious wine of his native Province, had much
influence on the ideas and opinions of the philosopher. He heard again,
as in the echos of memory, the merry songs of the grape gatherers,
and the Bacchic chants died away in musical notes adown the aisles of
the Temple of Time. He was happy in knowing himself to be Francois
Rabelais, doctor in medicine, but looking backwards, he felt the vague
and indefinable sentiment of poetry, that is ever associated with great
genius. It was then he cried:

    “O bouteille!
    Pleine tout
    Des mysteres,
    D’un oreille
    Je t’ecoute.”

Yet his heart was never sad, nor even tinged with melancholy. He
dreamed of the golden age of a universal fraternity among mankind and
eternal joy, the duration of the soul’s exile on earth.

To the Burgundy wine of France we owe this moral analgesia, which
chases away passions and all cares engendered by stupid worldly
ambition. He preferred the face of a jolly drunkard to the head of a
tyrannical Cæsar. He loved the wine bibber’s nose, as he says “that
musical bugle richly inlaid with colors of gorgeous design, purple,
with crimson bands, enameled with jewel-like pimples, embroidered with
veins of heavenly blue. Such a nose has the good priest Panzoult, and
Piedbois, physician at Angers.”

Rabelais did not ignore the fact that these “good drinkers” once had
the gout, for he did not forget to give a medical prognosis in the
case of the voracious Gargantura. “All his life he will be subject to
gravel.” But what difference is it though he had gravel, and the red
nose, that glorious work of Bacchus? He derived his warmest consolation
from the thought that a little good wine heated his blood and soothed
the bitterness of life, making him forget the injustice of some, and
the ingratitude of others; a veritable _nepenthe_ for his miseries,
cares and apprehensions. Every good drinker is a sage. Horace had said
so, and Rabelais who had read this master of Latin poetry, inscribed on
the front of his dwelling place

                            “HIC BIBITUR.”

 “_Within this place they drink wine, that delicious, precious,
 celestial, joyous, God-given, nectar and liquor._”

But, at the bottom of Master Francois Rabelais’ cask was a flavor not
fancied by all the world, the taste of free thought, opposition to all
tyranny, a Homeric spirit with a sonorous voice whose echo will resound
into future ages. Our authors, including historians, philosophers and
poets, revere his memory; and one of their greatest minds has said:
“Rabelais was a Gaul, and what is Gallic is Grecian, for Rabelais
is the formidable masque of antique comedy detached from the Greek
proscenium, bronze turned into living flesh, a human face full of
laughter, making us merry and laughing with us.” A similar judgment is
pronounced by the author of _Burgraves_, and _Notre Dame de Paris_.
Rabelais is immortal in spite of the ecclesiastical detractors who have
covertly assailed his memory for several centuries.

A doctor, philosopher, writer, he was the first exception in the
positive world, of that profound faith identical with science. It was
for that reason that the physicians of the Middle Ages looked up to him
as one of their glories; it is for this reason that his works should
hereafter be placed among the medical classics and no longer remain
neglected by the masses of that profession he honored. In the epitaph
he left, he did not forget the doctoral title he always so honorably

    “Cordiger et medicus, dein pastor et intus obivi,
    Si nomen quæris, te mea Scripta docent.”[107]

He did not think in making this verse, that the Parisians would one day
engrave his name with his last words on the marble of his statue as
witness for future generations that the memory of Rabelais must never
be effaced.

                              [THE END.]

  _Reprint from
  The Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic,
  December 1, 1888 to
  February 16, 1889._


[1] The Mahometans considered dissection of the human cadaver not only
as an impious act, but also forbid its practice by their religious
dogmas. They believed that the soul, after death, did not suddenly
abandon the body, but withdrew itself gradually, until it left the
limbs and finally entered the thoracic cavity. Thus the body could not
be dissected without suffering. However, osteology was not neglected,
and studies were made on the bones gathered in cemeteries.

[2] The romance of Dolopatos or the Seven Sages is the work of a
Troubadour of the twelfth century, named Herbers. The origin of this
poem seems to date back to Indian literature.

[3] The words are in old French and therefore not easily translated:

    “Vous avez oi la novelle
    Tandis com li plaie est novelle
    Lors pust estre mieux garie
    Que lors quant elc est envieillie.” etc., etc.

[4] This famous poem, by Perrot de St. Cloof, as a work of imagination,
is considered the most remarkable literary monument of the Middle Ages.

[5] The reader of old French can translate the following lines at his

        La pie avoit tel meschief,
        Et la Jambe si boursoufflee,
        Si vessiee et si enflee
        Si pleine de treus et de plaies;
        In’il i avoit, ce croi, de naies
        Et d’estoupes demi giron,
        Boue et venin tout environ,
        De toutes parts en saillait fors.
                     —_Gautier de Conisi._

[6] In the _Miracles de Saint Louis_ we find the history of a cure
effected through the royal touch. This cure affords an illustration of
how the monks wrote medicine in the thirteenth century. The disease
resulted in this patient from white swelling of the left knee. The
following is the veracious chronicle:

“About the year of Our Savior 1174, before the Feast of St. Andre,
one Jehan Dugue of the town of Combreus, in the Diocese of Orleans,
was attacked by inflammation of the left leg near the knee. Several
openings were observable in the flesh, which was soft and rotten above
and below the joint.”

[7] Bachelor was in other times a title of chivalry or a University
degree. The word was derived from the Latin _Bachalarius_. The word was
not introduced into France until the sixteenth century. Under the name
_bachelor_ or _bachelard_ were afterwards known all young men in the
army studying the profession of arms, or sciences or arts.

[8] See the oath taken by Christian apothecaries and those that
fear God, prescribed by the _Procureur General_, Jean de Resson,
_Institutions Pharmaceutique_, 1626.

[9] Before modern times medicated baths were not held in favor; the
sand and iron baths, so highly extolled by Scribonius and Herodotus,
of Rome, were unknown in France. Sulphur baths were recommended in the
eleventh century, by Gilbert, of England, in dropsy and other cachectic
affections; and by Arnauld de Villeneuve, in cases of stone in the
bladder. Mineral water baths did not come into use really until the
sixteenth century. Hubert praised the waters of Bourboune in 1570,
and Pidoux those of Pougnes in 1584. The waters of Auvergne and the
Pyrennees were first described in the seventeenth century, as well as
those of Aix and of De Begnols, in Genanden.

[10] Procopius, the Greek historian, born at Cæsarea in the year
500, left behind him numerous works, among which may be enumerated
_L’Histoire de son temps_, in eight volumes (_Procopii Cæsariensis
Historia sui temporibus_). This history of the times by Procopius gives
a full description of the Plague, and is one of the _chef d’oeuvres_
of medical literature, one that will never be excelled. In this work
nothing being omitted, not even the different clinical forms, it is
truly classical.

[11] Georgius Florentius Gregorius, _Historia Francorum_, de 417 591

[12] Anglada: _Etude sur les Maladies eteintes et les Maladies

[13] _Traduction de Laurent Joubert de Montpellier._

[14] Black. “Histoire de la Medecine et de la Chirurgie.”

[15] The “Chronique de Raoul Glaber,” Benedictine of Cluny, covers the
period between the year 900 and 1046. It may be found translated in the
collection of memoirs on the History of France by Guizot.

[16] “Nouvelle Bibliotheque des Manuscripts.”

[17] Satirical writers would not have failed to have spoken of the
marks left by small-pox. Such authors as Martial, who frequented the
public baths in order to write up the physical infirmities of his
fellow-townsmen, to the end of divulging their deformities in biting
epigram, would only have been too happy to have mocked the faces of
contemporaries marked by the cicatrices of small-pox.

[18] In the year 570, a violent disease, with running of the belly and
variola, cruelly afflicted Italy and France.

[19] Gregorii Turonensis, _Opera Omnia_, Liber V.

[20] Latin _corallum_, which signifies heart, lung, intestines, and by
extension of meaning, the interior of the body.

        “C’est la douleur, c’est la bataille
        Qui li detrenche la coraille.”
                          —_Roman de la Rose._

[21] Sauvel, “Histoire et recherches des antiquites de la Ville de

[22] In the year 622, Aaron pointed out small-pox for the first time,
but it was only in the year 900 that the two Arabian physicians,
Rhazes and Avicenna, wrote their works on this malady and determined
the clinical forms, giving the prognosis and diagnostic signs and the
methods of treatment. Rhazes, physician to the hospital at Bagdad,
recommended, on account of the warm climate of his country, cool
and refreshing drinks. In the period of lever, he advised copious
bleedings, and for children wet cupping. He covered up his patients
in warm clothing, had their bodies well rubbed, and gave them a
plentiful supply of ice-water to drink. In certain cases, he placed
large vessels of hot water, one in front and one behind the patient, in
order to facilitate the eruptive process; then the body was anointed
before the sweat cooled off. He prescribed lotions for the eyes when
the eruption was heavy in the ocular regions. He advised the use of
gargles. He opened the pustules, when they maturated, with a golden
needle, and absorbed the pus with pledgets of cotton. He gave opium for
the diarrhœa and insomnia, and, when the disease declined, used mild
purgatives, etc., etc.

[23] Aaron, a contemporary of Paulus d’Aegineta, speaks only briefly
of the malady in his works. Rhazes mentions measles in his works,
giving a clear account of its diagnosis and treatment. He says that
when the patient experiences great anxiety and falls into a syncope,
he should be plunged into a cold bath and then be vigorously rubbed
over the skin to the end of provoking the eruption. Avicenna did not
recognize measles, considering it only a billious fever or small
pox. Constantine, the African, follows the example of Avicenna and
reproduces the opinion of the Arabian School without comments.

[24] Johannis Philipi Ingrassiae. “De tumoribus praeter naturam.” Cap.

[25] Fernelli. “Universa Medico.”

[26] “Brief recit et succinte narration de la navigation faicte en
ysles de Canada.” Paris, 1545.

[27] Gregory of Tours says that in Paris they had a place of refuge,
where they cleaned their bodies and dressed their sores.

[28] They designated by the name of _borde_, _bordeau_, _bordell_,
_bordette_, _bourde_, or _bourdeau_, a small house or cabin built
on the edge of town; a cabin intended to contain lepers. The word
_bordell_, a house of ill-fame, as used even in modern days, takes its
origin from _borde_, an asylum for lepers.

[29] Etienne Barbazin, erudite and historian, born in 1696, author of
a number of works on the History of France: “Recueil alphabetique de
pieces historiques”; “Tableaux et Contes Francais, des XII., XIII.,
XIV., et XV. centuries”; “The Orders of Chivalry, etc.” He also
left numerous manuscripts on the origin of the French language. See
“Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal.”

[30] Pierre Andre Mathiole, “De Morbo Gallico.”

[31] Note sur la syphilis au XIII. siecle, “Gazette Medicale de Paris.”

[32] “Cyrurgia,” Magistri Guilielmi de Saliceti, 1476.

[33] Michel Scott: “De procreatione hominis physionomia.” Work
published in 1477, but written in 1250, for the author was born in 1210.

[34] It was Fracastor who gave venereal diseases the name of syphilis
in his poem “Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus,” published at Verona in
1530. According to Ricord, syphilis is derived from the Greek words
_sus_, pork, and _philia_, love (love for pork). _Gorre_ in the
Romanesque language long before had the same signification.

[35] The Provencal text in the original reads as follows: “La reino vol
que toudes lous samdes la Baylouno et un barbier deputat des consouls
visitoun todos las filios debauchados, que seran au Bourdeou; et si sen
trobo qualcuno qu’abia mal vengut de paillardiso, que talos filios sion
separados et lougeados a part afin que non las counougoun, por evita
lou mal que la jouinesso pourrie prendre.”

[36] Astruc: “De Morbis Venereis,” chap. viii.

[37] Jean de Gaddesen: “De concubitu cum muliera leprosa, in Rosa

[38] “Cyrurgia Guidonis de Cauliaco.”

[39] Torella: “De Pudendagra Tractatus.”

[40] “The reign of astrology,” remarks Sprengle, “led physicians
to attribute the affection to the influence of the stars. Saturn
who devoured his children, had, following the common expression,
produced the pox. It was his conjunction with Mars, in the sign of
the Virgin, that gave rise to the epidemic. Or it was the conjunction
of Jupiter with Saturn in Scorpio, as in 1484. At other times it was
the opposition of these two planets, as was noticed in 1494. Finally,
it was the conjunction of Saturn and Mars, as in 1496. (“If it was
the combined action of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the sign of the
Virgin that produced the syphilis, the astrologers might well think
that Mercury could destroy the effects of the disease, which would be
better than bleeding or purging.”) Leonicus attributed the cause of the
venereal plague to the general inundations that occurred about that
period, _i.e._, 1493, and afterwards in 1528. Besides, they recognized
as a cause of these venereal symptoms a general acridity of the humors
and the pre eminence of the four cardinal humors, but more especially
of a metastasis of bilious matter from the liver towards the genital

[41] “De Morbo Gallico.”

[42] “Antiquites de Paris,” Tome III., by Sauval.

[43] “Observations et histoires chirurgiques,” 1670, Geneve.

[44] Antoine Lecocq, “De ligno sancto.”

[45] The use of mercury, _larga manu_, in frictions was commenced in

[46] Rabelais himself had attended syphilitic patients at Lyons, and
perhaps elsewhere, with more or less success. He says, in fact, in the
fifth book of Pantagruel, that among impossible things it is necessary
to class a quintessence “warranted to cure the pox, as they say at
Rouen.” Now, be it known that syphilis of Rouen was of such a bad type
that it passed for an incurable malady. From whence the proverb, “For
Rouen pox and Paris itch there’s no remedy.”

[47] “De Rebus Oceanis et de Orbe novo decades.”

[48] “Histoire Philosophique et Politique de l’Occulte.”

[49] Cœlius Aurelianus: “De Acutis Morbis.” Edition Dalechamp, p. 90.

[50] Magic had rank among the sciences of the school of Alexandria 150
years before our era, in a medico-theosophical sect, whose members
applied to cosmogony the doctrine of emanation. These admitted that
demons come from the source of eternal light, and that man might become
their equal by leading a contemplative life. There were a number of
such demons, all phenomena of nature, and particularly all diseases
were attributed to demonic power. These demons were incorporeal, and
their light surrounded certain bodies in the same manner that the sun
gleams in water without being contained therein. (See Sprengel). Let it
not be forgotten that the Alexandrian Library, the richest institution
of the kind in ancient times, and the Temple of Serapis, in which it
was installed, were committed to the flames at the instigation of the
monks, by order of their creature, the apathetic Emperor Theodosius.

[51] “De doct. Christ.” liber II.

[52] Baluze, “Capitularia regum,” capitola 13.

[53] Fleury, “Histoire Ecclesiastique,” Tome XVII.

[54] Leloyer, “Des Spectres,” Angers, 1588.

[55] See “Psychologie Experimentale,” by Dr. Puel; “L’Histoire de
l’Occulte,” by Felix Fabart; the “Livre des Esprits,” by Allan Kardec,
and “Fakirisme Moderne,” by Dr. Gibier,—many extracts from the latter
having been translated and published in the CINCINNATI LANCET-CLINIC in

[56] Sprengel, work cited, tome iii.

[57] Tetrabiblon, ii. et iv.

[58] Sprengel, tome ii., et Alexander Trallian. Liber ix. et xii.

[59] Arnauld de Villeneuve: “De Phlebotomia.”

[60] Bernard Gordon: “Lillium Medicinæ.”

[61] J. Fernelli, “Opera Universa Medicina,” liber II, chapter 16.

[62] Ambroise Pare, “Oeuvres,” ninth edition, Lyons, 1633, p. 780.

[63] Read the works of Jean Wier in the Bibliotheque Diabolique,
with the commentaries of Bourneville thereon. These books have for
a title “Histoires disputes et discours des illusions et impostures
des diables, des magiciens infames, sorcieres et empoisonneurs, des
ensorcelez et demoniaques et de la guerizon d’iceux.” Two splendidly
edited volumes. Delahaye & Co., publishers.

[64] J. Weir: “De præstigiis dæmonum et incantationibus.”

[65] Capeifuge.

[66] Monstrellet, _Chroniques_, liber, III.

[67] Jacques Duclerc, _Memoires_, liber IV., cap. IV.

[68] We find proof of this fact in the works of Gautier Coinsi, who
wrote on “magicians” as early as 1219, He gave such sorcerers the name

    “En la ville une gieve avoit
    Qui tant d’engien et d’art savoit
    De tresgiet d’informanterie,
    De barat et d’enchanterie
    Que devant li apartement
    Faisoit venir a parlement
    Les ennemis et les deables.”

[69] Calmeil’s work, before cited, p. 103.

[70] “Ecole du pur Amour de Dieu ouverte aux Scavants.” Work cited by
P. Dufour.

[71] “Lettres au sujet de la magie, des malefices et des Sorciers,”
Paris, 1725.

[72] Remigius, “Demonolatriæ libritres,” Lugd, 1595, p. 55.

[73] Thomas Erastus, “De Lamiis.”

[74] Nider: “In malleo maleficorum.”

[75] The ecstasy takes a sublime and contemplative character if,
during watchfulness, the soul looks upwards to the Divinity; the
hallucinations are erotic, on the other hand, if the mind and heart
dwell on dreams of love; when the thoughts are obscene during the
wakeful period, lascivious sensations are apt to follow. With
irritation of the sexual organs, male or female, come illusions, which
are mistaken for diabolical practices on the part of demons. (See

There is considerable of a correlation between chronic metritis and
obscene dreams.

[76] Mental suggestions.

[77] F. Willis observed a similar outbreak in 1700 in a convent at
Oxford, England, where the barking fit was followed by convulsions and
finally pronounced mania.

Reulin and Hecquet described a similar epidemic in 1701, characterized
by meowing like cats, which were heard every day at the same hour among
a crowd of nuns in a convent of Paris. These nuns all suddenly ceased
meowing when they were accused and told if the thing re-occurred they
should all be taken out and horse-whipped by a company of soldiers, who
were stationed at the convent door to carry out the order. See “Traite
des affections vaporeuses.”

[78] Mind reading?

[79] “Histoire des Diables,” p. 57 et 58.

[80] That is to say, particular states of sensation among certain
beings, conditions which may be produced artificially, with the
development of lucidity, in proportion to the power of the hypnotizer.

[81] Manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale. Published for the first
time by M. A. Benet, Paris, 1883.

[82] For full report the reader is referred to the original

[83] Zoellner, “Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen,” 1877 and 1881.

[84] When we question the Fakirs of India as to the phenomena of
_Spiritualism_, they answer that they are produced by spirits. “The
Spirits” they say are the Souls of our ancestors, serving us now as
_mediums_; we loan them our natural fluid to combine with theirs, and
by this mixture they establish a _fluid body_, by the aid of which they
act on matter, as you have seen.” (Paul Gibier, “Le Spiritisme.”)

[85] To give an idea of the ignorance of the _materialistic_ school
of _so-called scientists_, it is only necessary to read the word
“Somnambulism” as defined in “Littres Dictionary of Medicine,” where
we find the following lines on _rappings_: “These sounds are due to a
slight previous displacement of the patella, of the tibia on the femur,
when the tendon of the long lateral peroneal suddenly brings the parts
back to their first position. This displacement is induced by muscular
contraction and can be easily cultivated by habit.” The author of
this definition supports his statement by the _pretended experiments_
of Flint and Schiff; he might have said more justly on _the mere
assertion_ of Jobert de Lamballe and Velpeau, _who have all committed_,
as is well known, _in this connection a grave and stupid error in

[86] Mr. and Mrs. L. B. are intimate friends of Dr. Puel, but the the
lady, who is a medium, gives us her mediumistic services in a most
disinterested manner; besides, she and her husband occupy a social
position which places them far beyond the need or desire for pecuniary

[87] One of my friends, L. B., always has a wax taper in his hand,
which he lights from time to time, in order to find whether any fraud
is manifest.

[88] Recital of M. Jacolliot, Judge of the Tribunal at Pondichery,
India. Cited by Dr. Gibier.

[89] Dr. Gibier, “Le Spiritisme,” 1887. In the experiments made by Mr.
Oxon, of the University of Oxford, with the mediums Slade and Monck,
spontaneous writing was obtained, under the following conditions: The
slates were new, marked with a sign, and closely bound together. Oxon
never lost sight of these slates and held down his hand on them for the
time being. They were never out of his possession after he had washed
and marked them. These experiments were made under a full glare of

[90] Pierre Le Loyer: Discussions and histories of spectres, visions,
apparitions of men, angels, demons, and spirits making themselves
visible to men. 1605. Paris, Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal. 1225. S. A., in

[91] There was at Athens a house which passed as being haunted by a
phantom. The philosopher, Athenodorus, rented this mansion. The first
night he occupied the same, while engaged in his studies, he heard and
saw a spirit, that made repeated signs to him to follow; he accordingly
followed this shade of the departed into the courtyard, where the ghost
disappeared. Athenodorus marked the spot of ground on which the spirit
had last stood, and next day asked the town magistrate to dig up the
earth at the place named; there they found bones loaded with chains,
which were released and given decent sepulture, with all due funeral
honors. The phantom returned no more (Pliny the Younger, Letters VII et

This is almost the history of the experience of Kate Fax at Hydesville.

[92] As examples of responses obtained by psychography, we may cite
the following definitions given by Eugene Nus and his collaborateurs,
artists, philosophers, and men of letters:

_Physics._—Knowledge of material forces that produce life and the
organism of worlds.

_Chemistry._—Study of different properties of materials, either simple
or composite.

_Mathematics._—Properties of forces and numbers flowing from the
universal laws of order.

_Electricity._—Direct force from the earth, emanating from particular
life to worlds.

_Magnetism._—Animal force, holding persons together; bond of universal

_Galvanism and Electro-Magnetism._—Combined forces of earthly and
animal life.

[93] “I am attacked by two classes of different persons,” says Galvani,
“the _savants_ and the ignorant; all torment and ridicule me, calling
me _the dancing master of frog legs_. Meantime, I believe I have
discovered one of the great forces of Nature.”

[94] Laplace; “Traite du calcul des probabilities.”

[95] Olivier Basselin was the proprietor of a mill in the valley of
Vire, where he composed his little poems; hence, he named his rhymes
“Vaux de Vire.”

[96] This is, to a certain extent, a dialect poem, and bears a close
resemblance in more than one respect to Tennyson’s “Northern Farmers”.


    “Et mon orine
    Vous dit elle que je meure?”


    “On pense estre guari par l’obscure parole
    De quelque charlatan qui le pipe et le vole;
    Un autre plus niais me fait exorciser,
    Ou par un circoncis se fait cabaliser.”

[99] In the old French text, “Condampnacion des bancquetz a la louenge
de diepte et sobriete pour le prouffit du corps humain.”

[100] Poetic license in such rhymes unlimited.

[101] The group of poets of the same period was composed of Ronsard, Du
Bellay, Jodelle, Dorat, Belleau, Bail, and last, but not least, Pontus
de Thiard.

[102] Eugene Noel, “Rabelais medecin, ecrivain et philosophe.”

[103] In the happy Abbey of Theleme, that Gargantua builds, we see the
inscription of Fourier’s phalanctory destined for the elect, with the
inscription over the great door:

    “Ci n’ entrez pas hypocrites, bigots,
    Vieulx matagots, mariteux, boursofles.

    “Haires, cagots, caphards, empantouples,
    Gueux mitoufles, frapparts escarnifles.

    “Ci n’ entrez pas, masche faim practiciens,
    Clercs, basochiens, mangeurs de populaire,
    Officiaulx, scribes et pharisiens,
    Juges anciens,” etc., etc.

[104] The first edition of “Pantagruel” dates back to 1553, and the
year following he was physician at the Lyons Hospital, where he made
first, _before Vesalius_, anatomical lectures on the human cadaver.

[105] This origin of the French thermal sources is very curious, and
certainly ignored by ordinary patients.

[106] Agrippa has defined the _role_ of those who deal in magic in
his work, “De Vanitate Scientiarum, cap de Magia Naturali.” He says:
“Magicians are diligent students of nature, and by means of previous
preparation often produce marvelous effects, which the vulgar mostly
deem miracles, whereas they may only be natural work.” Traduction de
Louis de Mayerne, Turquet, medecin du roi Henry IV. 1603.

[107] “Monk, Physician, afterwards Clergyman, I descend into the tomb.
If thou desire to know mine name, mine works will inform thee.”

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and
punctuation remains unchanged.

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