Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/49
WITCHCRAFT IN BAVARIA. 37
the beginning tlie satellite of Satan, tlie arch-seducer, and his facile instrument in bringing sin into the world with all its woe. This notion often croj)s out where one would least expect it, as, for ex- ample, in Albrecht Diirer's engraving of four naked women, bear- ing the date 1491 and the enigmatical letters O. G. H., which probably mean Odium Generis Humani. The female figures doubtless represent witches. Patristic and scholastic writers from Chrysostom to Thomas Aquinas vie with each other in their de- nunciations of woman, and the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum fairly overwhelm the reader with passages from these sources in proof of her flagitiousness. They also derive femina from fe and minus, signifying a creature of little faith. To this astounding etymology, which from the use of the word fe (faith) would seem to be of Spanish origin, they add an equally conclusive argument from physiology, declaring that " only an imperfect animal could have been formed out of a crooked rib." How could a being with such an origin be straightforward or exert any other than a per- verting influence upon man, and, as Milton says, " by her charms draw him awry " ? On the other hand, we are seriously assured that God's selection of man, in distinction from woman, as the form of his earthly incarnation, has tended to preserve the male portion of the human race from satanic influences and especially from " the scourge of sorcery." " Praise be to the Most High for this gracious immunity! " exclaim these devout Dominicans. It is hardly con- ceivable that such wretched twaddle, which would have been silly enough if uttered in jest, should have been put forth by Christian metaphysicians and moralists in justification of barbarous cruelty in- flicted for centuries upon the most helpless members of society. Perhaps the queerest feature of this foolish and fanatical crusade against woman is that it should have been preached by the ardent adherents of a Mariolatrous religion, in which the adoration of the Virgin Mother had already superseded the worship of her divine Son.
Hartlieb, to whose book we have just referred, was a physician, humanist, diplomatist, a man of the world with knowledge and experience gained by travel, well versed in literature and with a scientific turn of mind, and yet this representative of the highest culture of his time firmly believed in the reality of witchcraft and attributed it to the direct agency of the devil. He seems to have been especially interested in the art by which old hags produced hailstorms and showers of rain, and took every opportunity to get at the secret of it. In 1446, while he was on a mission from the Bavarian duke to the Count Palatine at Heidelberg, a notorious sorceress had been arrested and cast into prison. As a special favor