Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/376

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power, means adequate to frustrate his atmospheric mischiefs? To these means belong the church-bells, provided they have been duly consecrated and baptized. The aspiring steeples, around which cluster the low dwellings of men, are to be likened, when the bells in them are ringing, to the hen spreading its protecting wings over its chickens; for the tones of the consecrated metal repel the demons and avert storm and lightning."

During protracted drought it was the custom for the priests to make intercession and inaugurate rain-processions, and it is narrated that, in the year 1240, in Lüttich a large rain-procession failed, three times, to produce any effect, "because, in the supplication of all saints, God's mother had been forgotten." A new procession was formed, due respect was shown her Majesty, and the rain immediately came down with such violence that the devout procession was dispersed.

If the fields were visited by destructive insects, the Church had remedies against them also. It commanded them in the name of God to depart; and, if they did not obey, regular processes were instituted against them, which ended in their excommunication by the Church. In the year 1474 the May-bug committed great depredations in the neighborhood of Berne. The authorities of the city sought relief against the scourge from the Bishop of Lausanne, who issued a letter of excommunication, which was solemnly read by a priest in the churchyard of Berne. The letter began thus: "Thou irrational, imperfect creature, thou May-bug, thou whose kind was never inclosed in Noah's ark; in the name of my gracious lord the Bishop of Lausanne, by the power of the glorified Trinity through the merits of Jesus Christ, and by the obedience you owe the Holy Church, I command you, May-bugs, all in common and each one in particular, to depart from all places where nourishment for man and cattle germinates and grows." The letter ends with a summons to the insects to present themselves at Wivelsburg on the sixth day thereafter, at one o'clock, if they do not disappear before that time, and assume the responsibility before the court of the gracious lord of Lausanne! Arrangements were made beforehand for a legal trial; the accused, of course, was to have a lawyer, and the Bishop devised the plan of summoning from hell the spirit of an infamous one named Perrodet, who had died a few years before. But, in spite of many summonses, neither Perrodet nor the May-bugs deigned to appear, and finally the episcopal tribunal gave its verdict of excommunication in the name of the Holy Trinity—"to you accursed vermin, that are called May-bugs, and which can not even be counted among the animals." The Government ordered the authorities of the afflicted district to report concerning the effects of the measure; but a chronicle of the time reports that "no effect was observed, because of our sins."

The most scrupulous attention to legal forms was given to the frequently recurring processes against May-bugs, grasshoppers, worms,