Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/487

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tric currents; the thick wrappage of ingenious phraseology arresting the destructive discharge. There was, indeed, an elaborate and pretentious logic, supplied by Aristotle, and amended by Bacon; what was still wanted was a taste of the logic of freedom.




DURING the reign of Philip II of Spain, the Government spies in the province of Malaga made a curious discovery. In the highest valleys of the Alpujarras, and surrounded by a population of recently converted Moors, they found a tribe of mountaineers whose vernacular was as different from the Arabian as from the Spanish language, and whose neighbors believed them to be descendants of the ancient Iberians. The Ghabirs, as the Moors called them, were a most primitive and harmless race, their food consisted of the vegetable products of their peaceful valley, their only religious function in sacrificing milk and fruits to the spirit of the mountains. A few weeks after the discoverer had made his report to the Holy Office, a detachment of troopers and monks invaded the Alpujarras, the Ghabirs were dragged to Velez Malaga, and burned by order of the Grand Inquisitor. Their crime could not be condoned: they had disregarded the proclamation of 1562, and evaded tithes and baptism for seven years. In vain they pleaded their poverty, their ancient customs, and their ignorance of the Spanish language; "they were all invested with the sanbenito" says the chronicler, "and broiled to death with the proper ceremonies." The shrieks of the victims were heard at Loja, and for three days the harbor of Velez was filled with the stench of burned human flesh. It was a most edifying auto da fe—"an act of faith." The same faith had filled the Netherlands with blood and horror, had raged like the Black Death among the helpless aborigines of the New World, and had orthodoxed Spain by the systematic suppression of freedom, common sense, manhood, industry, and science.

And yet that monstrous superstition had undoubtedly supporters who honestly mistook it for the purest and most beneficent of all possible creeds. But we may be equally sure that mere ignorance would never have produced such delusions. The worst delusions are not the primitive ones, not the crude superstitions of a primitive people. The dogmas of an Ashantee rain-maker are harmless compared with those of a Spanish Inquisitor. We find priests and ignorance both in Ashantee and in Spain, but with this difference, that in Ashantee igno-