Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/520

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be twitched right and left to a half-round with such velocity that not a feature could be discovered, but the face appeared as much behind as before. Head-dresses were of little account among the female jerkers. Handkerchiefs, bound tight round the head, were flirted off with the first twitch, and the hair put into the utmost confusion; this was of very great inconvenience, to redress which the generality were shorn, though directly contrary to their confession of faith. Such as were seized with the jerks were wrested at once, not only from under their own government, but from that of every one else, so that it was dangerous to attempt confining them or touching them in any manner, to whatever danger they were exposed. Yet few were hurt, except such as rebelled against the operations through willful and deliberate enmity, and refused to comply with the injunctions which it came to enforce."

The same writer gives the history of a case of jerks as follows, and no case could illustrate more strikingly the nature of the affection:

A young man, of a pious family, the son of a tanner, feigned sickness one Sunday morning to avoid going that day to camp-meeting. He kept his bed until he was assured that all the family, except a few negro children, had left the premises, and was much pleased at the success of his stratagem. As he lay quietly in his bed, his thoughts naturally turned to the camp-meeting in progress. The assembled multitude, excited, agitated, convulsed, rose up vividly before his mind. All at once, while occupied with the scene, he felt himself violently jerked out of bed, and dashed round the walls in a manner utterly beyond his control. Prayer, he remembered, was deemed efficacious in such circumstances, and he fell upon his knees in the hope that it would prove a sedative in his case. It turned out as he hoped, and he returned to bed, happy at finding the spirit exorcised. But the enemy soon returned; the jerks were as bad as ever, but were again allayed by prayer. Dressing himself, he now went to the tan-yard, and set about currying a hide to occupy his mind. He rolled up his sleeves, and, grasping his knife, was about to commence the operation, when suddenly the knife was flirted out of his hand, and he was jerked violently backward, over logs and against fences, as before. Gaining relief by resorting once more to prayer, he ventured to resume his occupation, but was again seized with convulsions, and at last forsook the tan-yard and betook himself to strong cries for mercy, at which he was found engaged by the family on their return from the meeting in the evening.[1]

Another characteristic example is related by a writer in the "Gospel Herald"[2]":

A gentleman and lady of some note in the fashionable world were attracted by curiosity to the camp-meeting at Cane Ridge. They indulged in many contemptuous remarks on their way, about the poor

  1. Davidson, op. cit.
  2. "History of Methodism in the United States.