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fruit. There were upon this tree a variety of birds; and there was seen a youth who kept them in order with a switch, so that none of them ventured to fly away. He also saw three men, who looked at this tree; and it was very remarkable that the year following, three men, who resembled those seen in the vision, were promoted to be princes in the church.”
Now as to those matters and instruments which come out of various parts of the bodies of witches, there have also been in our times similar phenomena. But the hocus in these recent cases has been too palpable to need any supernatural agency to explain them. These matters, spite of appearances, or of any presumed acts of the devil
, have neither grown in the body, nor are introduced into it by any miracle. Jugglers swallow stones and glass, knives and forks, and throw up such things at pleasure, as one not long ago in America did to the astonishment of all who saw him, but in the end died of it, and was found with a whole heap of such things in his stomach. In lunacy and in spasms, people swallow, frequently, anything that they can lay hands on; others swallow pins and needles, and probably stick them into their flesh; and it happens, by no means unfrequently, that the sick, in order to draw the pity or attention of others towards them, play an heroic part, and affect a great virtue in pains and sufferings, in weaknesses and tortures. This errare humanum, or hobby, may be the effect of a whim; but it may sometimes be, as history teaches, the consequence of a selfish imposture. Wholly impure designs are frequently concealed behind the veil, and pins and needles are often the very natural means of producing swellings. A celebrated and circumspect physician, some years ago, at Copenhagen, saw for a long time number of needles come out of the body of a patient, and even helped to extract them, till he perceived the trickery, not through acute observation, but merely by chance. They are precisely needles and pins which have always created such astonishment. Wier relates, on the authority of J. Rufus, that a maid who was possessed in Constance, after violent pains in the intestines, gave forth a number of such things. “Famulam cujusdam civis a dæmonio compressam, eique tandem per poenitentiam
valedixisse, ac postea tantos in utero sensisse crutiatus, ut in singulas fere horas infantem se crederat exixuram : inde clavos ferreos, ligna, vitra compacta, lapides, ossa et hujusmodi ex matrice excrevisse.” People found but little sorcery in the hairs, the egg-shells, the yarn, even in the glass and stones, which made their appearance by unknown ways. The devil seems to have attained his object better with his pins and needles. In short, these things with women are difficult to trace to the bottom, but with pins and needles they are thoroughly at home. Yet in the very times of witchcraft we find these things explained in a similar manner, as a passage in Horst shows :—“Instructio pro formandis processibus in causis strigum, sortilegiorum_et maleficiorum, Romæ, 1671." It is there said :—“Et adeo si perquirentur singulorum lecti, præcipue ex pluma confecti, nec mirum quod quandoque reperiantur acus, nam ubi sunt mulieres, acus ubique abundant et facile est, quod per accidens spatio alicujus temporis multæ acus in predictis mobilibus introcludantur. Neque forsan ab re est considerare, dæmonem aliquando talia supponere potuisse absque partitione, ut inde credantur maleficium commissum et sic aliqua persona indebite damnum patiatur, quemadmodum videmus in actu exorcismi nonnullorum obsessorum, qui videntur evomere acus, clavos et diversa involucra, quæ tamen impossibile et obsessos in corpore habere, prout non habent, etc. Ex quibus patet quam circumspectus esse debet judex circus hujusmodi reperta, cum de facili, vel potuerint supponi, vel esse naturalia, vel (he adds in favour of his own times] facta opera dæmonis sive alicujus ministerio."
There were in the middle ages other kindred phenomena, which had their foundation in religious fanaticism. To these belong the ecstasies and convulsions in the churchyard of St. Medard at Paris, where at the grave of the Deacon of Paris people had the most violent convulsions and visions, which to all appearance were very like the possessions of ancient times. They are said to have continued perfectly insensible to, and uninjured by, stabs and blows with pointed poles and iron bars, and under the crush of the heaviest weights which were thrown upon them. The community of spirits and of visions was also plentifully there. The Phrygian prophets and the Montanists exhibited many phenomena resembling these convulsions, to which Irenæus and Tertullian had nothing to object. But never were the convulsions and the excitement more horrible than amongst the Flagellants, and in the Dancing-mania, a disease in the middle ages, which Hecker describes. See “ The Dancingmania; a Popular Disease," 1832.
The Society of Flagellants appeared in Italy in the thirteenth century. The disease first attacked the inhabitants of Perugia, and, finally, nearly all the people of Italy. After crimes and abominations had disgraced Italy, a great repentance and fear of Christ fell upon them; and the noble and the commoner, the young and the old, even children of five years of age, ran through the streets naked with whips and leathern straps, with which, amid sighs and weeping, they chastised themselves on the shoulders till the blood flowed, and they cried aloud for mercy. Even in the night, too, they went about by ten thousand at a time, with torches, and with priests and banners. This frenzy, however, became far more extensive in the middle of the fourteenth century in consequence of the Black Death. The scourges of the Brothers of the Cross in Westphalia were sticks with loose-hanging thongs, at the end of each of which were iron prickles, with which they chastised themselves till their bodies were green and blue. In 1374 there were seen in Aix-la-Chapelle troops of men and women, out of Germany, who, hand in hand, and in a state of perfect insanity, danced furiously for whole hours together, till they fell down exhausted. Then they complained of great oppression, and groaned, till people laced up the lower parts of their bodies, and pressed them together by blows of the fists and by treading on them. Some said that they saw in their convulsions the heavens open ; then followed spasms, and epileptic convulsions and fearful racking of the limbs, and those who were accidentally present became infected by them, so that they were irresistibly compelled to join them. For two hundred years examples of their dancings continued. The history of the St. Vitus's dance and its contagiousness is better known.
Tholuck gives the following facts concerning the sect of Jumpers or Springers who arose in America in 1760. (See Tholuck's Miscellaneous Writings, Th. i. p. 91.) “Their divine service was accompanied by the most wonderfully convulsive gestures; and still in the religious assemblages of the Me. thodists there, which are held in the open air, that is, at their camp-meetings, the convulsions and violent spasms, under the name of jerkings, are by no means uncommon. The remarkable epidemic laughing-mood is also of this kind, which sometimes attacks them in their public services. Women have often been known to laugh for two days together, and to be so attacked by the devil that they could not resist. Wesley, their founder, was attacked by this laughing epidemic on a Sunday fourteen years before, as he was walking with his brother in a meadow, and while they were singing religious hymns. Spite of their endeavours, neither of them could give over, and they were obliged to go home. Poor L— created a particularly great sensation; and they knew very well that she did not feign. Never, he says, had he seen any one who was so terribly dragged hither and thither by the evil one. Now she laughed aloud so that she was nearly suffocated; now she broke forth in cursing and blaspheming the name of God: then she stamped on the ground with such extraordinary strength that four or five people were not able to hold her. She was like one possessed. Finally, with a feeble voice, she called on Christ for help, and the violence of the paroxysm
ceased. Because these paroxysms expressed themselves in laughter, they considered them to be the work of the devil.
Of the same kind were those magical occurrences amongst the children in the orphan-houses at Amsterdam and Horn, which may be compared perfectly to the effect on the children at Mora. The Netherland historian, P. C. Hooft, relates that, in the year 1566, the children in the orphanhouses at Amsterdam were so horribly tormented that it was enough to make any one's hair stand, on end. Many children possessed by devils were not only so severely tortured that after their release the effects continued to cling to them through their lives, but they also climbed like cats up the walls and over the roofs, and made such horrible faces that the most
courageous men were terrified at them. They could speak foreign languages, and related things which took place at the same moment in other places, even in the courts of justice. They made such extraordinary movements in particular before the houses of certain women, that there arose a loud outcry against those women as witches.
In the orphan-house at Horn, according to Franz Kniper, in his work on the Devils, the following circumstances occurred in the same year as the strange events at Mora. In the year 1670 a great number of orphans of both sexes, but generally of the uneducated class, were attacked with a complaint for which various doctors of medicine could find no cure. The children fell down suddenly, and lost all consciousness. They were terribly racked and torn. They stamped with the feet, struck their arms and their heads on the earth, gnashed their teeth, howled and yelled like dogs. The stomachs of some of them rose and fell so violently as if they had soine living thing within them. When they lay still they were as stiff as so many pieces of wood, and they could be carried about without their limbs moving; in which state they frequently continued for hours. The paroxysms infected other children when they saw them, or when they only heard their howling; and they fell into this condition on almost every occasion of divine worship, either before the preacher, or during the hours of prayer. The more God was prayed to for aid, the worse became the paroxsyms. In the times of fast these children were the most disorderly, and yet the most free from these attacks, because they had freedom and pleasure, and this, therefore, was regarded as devilish. When, at length, the children were taken out of the orphan-house, and received into the families of the citizens, they became rapidly better.
The same circumstances took place amongst the girls, in the girls' school of Antoinette Bourignon at Ryssel, from 1640 to 1650, which we shall soon become better acquainted with, more than fifty of whom by degrees confessed that they could bewitch people ; the first, who had been shut up on account of some misdemeanour, found