Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/159

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



JUNE, 1889.



NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.
VI.—DIABOLISM AND HYSTERIA.
By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL. D., L. H. D.,
EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.
PART II.

ABOUT forty years later than the New England epidemic of "possession" occurred another typical series of phenomena in France. In the year 1727 there died in the city of Paris a simple and kindly ecclesiastic, the Archdeacon of Paris. He had lived a pious, Christian life, and was endeared to multitudes by his charity; unfortunately, he had espoused the doctrine of Jansen on the subject of grace and free will; and, though he remained in the Galilean Church, he and those who thought like him were opposed by the Jesuits, and finally condemned by a papal bull.

His remains having been buried in the cemetery of St. Medard, the Jansenists flocked to say their prayers at his tomb, and soon miracles began to be wrought there. Ere long they were multiplied. The sick being brought and laid upon the tomb, many were cured. Wonderful stories were attested by eye-witnesses. The myth-making tendency — the passion for developing, enlarging, and spreading tales of wonder — came into full play and was given free course.

Many thoughtful men satisfied themselves of the truth of these representations. One of the foremost English scholars came over, examined into them, and declared that there could be no doubt as to the reality of the cures.

This state of things continued for about four years, when, in 1731, more violent effects showed themselves. Sundry persons approaching the tomb were thrown into convulsions, hysterics, and catalepsy; these diseases spread, became epidemic, and soon