Three Thousand Years of Mental Healing
by George Barton Cutten
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GEORGE BARTON CUTTEN, Ph.D. (Yale) President Of Acadia University


New York Charles Scribner's Sons 1911

Copyright, 1911, by Charles Scribner's Sons Published February, 1911



Artemus Wyman Sawyer, D.D., LL.D.






I. Introduction—Mental Healing 3

II. Early Civilizations 19

III. The Influence of Christianity 35

IV. Relics and Shrines 61

V. Healers 110

VI. Talismans 138

VII. Amulets 158

VIII. Charms 189

IX. Royal Touch 224

X. Mesmer and After 249

XI. The Healers of the Nineteenth Century 273

Index 309


The present decade has experienced an intense interest in mental healing. This has come as a culmination of the development along these lines during the past half century. It has shown itself in the beginning of new religious sects with this as a, or the, fundamental tenet, in more wide-spread general movements, and in the scientific study and application of the principles underlying this form of therapeutics.

Many have been led astray because, being ignorant of the mental healing movements and vagaries of the past, the late applications, veiled in metaphysical or religious verbiage, have seemed to them to be new in origin and principle. No one could consider an historical survey of the subject and reasonably hold this opinion. It is on account of the ignorance of similar movements, millenniums old, that so much, if any, originality can be credited to the founders.

The object of this volume is to present a general view of mental healing, dealing more especially with the historical side of the subject. While this is divided topically, the topics are presented in a comparatively chronological order, and thereby trace the development of the subject to the present century.

The term "mental healing" is given the broadest possible use, and comprehends any cures which may be brought about by the effect of the mind over the body, regardless of whether the power back of the cure is supposed to be deity, demons, other human beings, or the individual mind of the patient.

It is hoped that this may contribute to the knowledge of a subject which is of such wide-spread popular interest.

George Barton Cutten.

Wolfville, Nova Scotia, December 1, 1910.


Bas-relief representing the Gallic AEsculapius dispatching a demon Frontispiece


Cure through the Intercession of a Healing Saint 72

Valentine Greatrakes 134

Sir Kenelm Digby 152

King's Touch-pieces 226

F. A. Mesmer 252

John Alexander Dowie 276

George O. Barnes 290

Mary Baker Eddy 302




"'Tis painful thinking that corrodes our clay."—ARMSTRONG.

"Oh, if I could once make a resolution, and determine to be well!"—WALDERSTEIN.

"The body and the mind are like a jerkin and a jerkin's lining, rumple the one and you rumple the other."—STERNE.

"I find, by experience, that the mind and the body are more than married, for they are most intimately united; and when the one suffers, the other sympathizes."—CHESTERFIELD.

"Sublime is the dominion of the mind over the body, that for a time can make flesh and nerve impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so that the weak become so mighty."—STOWE.

"The surest road to health, say what they will, Is never to suppose we shall be ill; Most of those evils we poor mortals know From doctors and imagination flow."—CHURCHILL.

The fact that there is a reciprocal relation between mental states and bodily conditions, acting both for good and ill, is nothing new in human experience. Even among the most crude and unobserving, traditions and incidents have given witness to this knowledge. For centuries stories of the hair turning white during the night on account of fright or sorrow, the cause and cure of diseases through emotional disturbances, and death, usually directly by apoplexy, caused by anger, grief, or joy, have been current and generally accepted. On the other hand, irritability and moroseness caused by disordered organs of digestion, change of acumen or morals due to injury of the brain or nervous system, and insanity produced by bodily diseases, are also accepted proofs of the effect of the body on the mind.

Recent scientific investigation has been directed along the line of the influence of the mind over the body, and to that phase of this influence which deals with the cure rather than the cause of disease. In addition to what the scientists have done along this line, various religious cults have added the application of these principles to their other tenets and activities, or else have made this the chief corner-stone of a new structure. There are some reasons why this connection with religion should continue to exist, and why it has been a great help both to the building up of these particular sects and the healing of the bodies of those who combine religion with mental healing.

We must not forget that in early days the priest, the magician, and the physician were combined in one person, and that primitive religious notions are difficult to slough off. Shortly before the beginning of the Christian era there were some indications that healing was to be freed from the bondage of religion, but the influence of Jesus' healing upon Christians, and the overwhelming influence of Christianity upon the whole world, delayed this movement, so that it did not again become prominent until the sixteenth century. About this time, when therapeutics as a science began to shake off the shackles of religion and superstition, another startling innovation was noticeable, viz., the division of mental healing into religious and non-religious healing. This change came gradually, and as is usual in all reform, certain prophets saw and proclaimed the real truth which the people were not able to follow or receive for centuries.

Paracelsus, who lived during the first half of the sixteenth century, wrote these shrewd words: "Whether the object of your faith is real or false, you will nevertheless obtain the same effects. Thus, if I believe in St. Peter's statue as I would have believed in St. Peter himself, I will obtain the same effects that I would have obtained from St. Peter; but that is superstition. Faith, however, produces miracles, and whether it be true or false faith, it will always produce the same wonders." We have also this penetrating observation from Pierre Ponponazzi, of Milan, an author of the same century: "We can easily conceive the marvellous effects which confidence and imagination can produce, particularly when both qualities are reciprocal between the subject and the person who influences them. The cures attributed to the influence of certain relics are the effect of this imagination and confidence. Quacks and philosophers know that if the bones of any skeleton were put in the place of the saint's bones, the sick would none the less experience beneficial effects, if they believed they were near veritable relics."

What seemed to be a movement whereby mental healing should be divided so that only a portion of it should be connected with religion proved to be too far in advance of its time, and not until the advent of Mesmer was this accomplished. Healing other than mental, however, did obtain its freedom at this time. While Mesmer and his followers emphasized non-religious mental healing, it should not be thought that mental therapeutics was ever entirely separated from the church. There have always been found some sects which laid particular emphasis on it, and both Roman Catholic and Protestant orthodox Christianity have always admitted it. It has been considered, even if not admitted, that the power of the Infinite was more clearly shown by the healing of the body than by the restoration of the moral life. It is natural, then, that the sects which showed this special proof of God's presence and power would grow faster than their spiritual competitors, but that they would decline more rapidly and surely than those which espoused more spiritual doctrines.

On the other hand, it is not difficult to see why mental healing would be helped by its connection with religion. Religion grips the whole mind more firmly than any other subject has ever done, and when one accepts the orthodox conception of God, he naturally expects to come in contact with One whose sympathies are in favor of the cure of his diseases, and whose power is sufficient to bring about this cure. With this basis there is set up in the mind of the patient an expectancy which has always proven to be a most valuable precursor of a cure. The devout religious attitude of mind is one most favorable for the working of suggestion, and persons of the temperament adapted to the religious expression most valued in the past are those who could be most readily affected by mental means. For these reasons, it can be easily understood why mental healing has continued to be associated with religion, and why when thus associated it has been so successful.

To those not very familiar with mental healing, it has seemed strange that any law could be formulated which would comprehend every variety. In the following pages many different forms will be described, and in examining the subject it will be found that many and varied are the explanations given for the results produced. We find also a general distrust of all the others, or else a claim that this particular sect is the only real and true exponent of mental healing, and that it produces the only genuine cures. Those which claim to be Christian sects, however divergent the direct explanation of their results, give the final credit to God, and base their modus operandi upon the Bible—in fact, they claim to be the direct successors of Jesus and his disciples in this respect.

We find, however, that the healer connected with the Christian sect has no advantage over his Mohammedan or Buddhist brother, and that neither is able to succeed better than the non-religious healer in all cases. We recognize that when one class of healers fails in a case another may succeed, but the successful one is just as liable to fail in a second case when the first one cures. What particular form of suggestion is most effective in any given case depends upon the temperament of the individual and his education, religious training, and environment. When we consider the whole matter we are forced to the conclusion that mental cures are independent of any particular sect, religion, or philosophy; some are cured by one form and some by another. Not the creed, but some force which resides in the mind of every one accomplishes the cure, and the most that any religion or philosophy can do is to bring this force into action.

As a general rule, one sharp distinction is noticed between the religious and the non-religious healers, viz., the religious healer sees no limit to his healing power, and affirms that cancer and Bright's disease are as easily cured, in theory at least, as neuralgia or insomnia; the non-religious healer, sometimes designated as the "scientific healer," on the contrary, recognizes that there are some diseases which are more easily cured than others, and that of those others some are practically incurable by psycho-therapeutic methods.

The line has been drawn in the past between functional and organic diseases, the former including diseases where there is simply a derangement of function, like indigestion, and the latter comprehending the diseases where the organ is affected, like ulcer of the stomach. The more we know about diseases the less sure we seem to be about their classification; some of which we were formerly sure have recently caused us considerable doubt. For example, we have formerly classed cancer as an organic disease and consequently incurable by mental means. The question is now asked, "Is cancer an organic disease, or is it some functional derangement of the epithelium tissue which causes it to grow indefinitely until it invades some vital organ?"

A further question arises due to further study. Some of the latest investigators claim that most if not all persons have cancer at some time in life, but that anti-toxin or some other remedy is supplied by the body itself, and the growth is stopped and the tissue absorbed. The question then seems to be pertinent, "If the body can produce the cure within itself, and this would be functional, why cannot mental means stimulate the body to produce it?" or "Does not mental influence stimulate the body to produce it?" What the cancer experts tell us of the wide-spread extension of the disease and its spontaneous cure, the tuberculosis experts affirm of tuberculosis, and certainly of the latter disease spontaneous cures are not uncommon. We also know that mental influence may, in fact does, have an indirect but no less beneficial influence in the cure of tuberculosis. From these examples one seems to be forced to either one of two conclusions, either of which is contrary to generally accepted ideas, viz., first, that these are not organic diseases; or, second, organic diseases are aided or cured by means of mental healing. In general, however, the distinction holds good; the so-called functional cases are amenable to cure by mental means, and the organic are much less so.

Coming back, then, to the common law which underlies all cases or forms of mental healing, we find two general principles upon which it is built—the power of the mind over the body, and the importance of suggestion as a factor in the cure of the disease. The law may be tersely stated in the first person as follows: My body tends to adjust itself so as to be in harmony with my ideas concerning it. This law is equally applicable to the cause or cure of disease by mental means. To apply this law in a universal way as far as mental healing is concerned, we should notice that however the thought of cure may come into the mind, whether by external or auto-suggestion, if it is firmly rooted so as to impress the subconsciousness, that part of the mind which rules the bodily organs, a tendency toward cure is at once set up and continues as long as that thought has the ascendancy.

Hack Tuke quotes Johannes Mueller, a physiologist who lived during the first half of the last century, as follows: "It may be stated as a general fact that any state of body which is conceived to be approaching, and which is expected with certain confidence and certainty of occurrence, will be very prone to ensue, as the mere result of the idea, if it do not lie beyond the bounds of possibility." This is a fair statement of the law from the stand-point of consciousness, but does not include all of the vast influence of subconscious ideas which are so potent in the cure of diseases by mental means. Mueller's observation was in advance of his times, but could not be expected to include the results of the latest researches of modern science.

For a great many years physicians have recognized that not only are all diseases made worse by an incorrect mental attitude, but that some diseases are the direct result of worry and other mental disturbances. The mental force which causes colored water to act as an emetic, or postage-stamps to produce a blister, can also produce organic diseases of a serious nature. The large mental factor in the cause of diseases is generally admitted, and it seems reasonable to infer that what is caused by mental influence may be cured by the same means. There is no restriction in the power of the mind in causing disease, and should we restrict the mind as a factor in the cure? The trouble seems to be in the explanation. People ask, "How can the mind have such an effect upon the body?" and to the answer of this question we must now turn our attention.

We all recognize that involuntarily certain bodily effects take place. We blush when we do not wish to; we betray our fears by our blanched faces. Some other factors of mind than the conscious mental processes have charge, and rule certain functions. The heart, the respiratory apparatus, the glands, and digestive organs all carry on their regular functions during sleep and also better without our direction when we are awake. What is the explanation of this? We have recently been saying that the subconsciousness rules these physical organs, and through this that the effects already referred to take place. So much has been written recently regarding the subconsciousness that anything more at this time would be superfluous; suffice it to say that the general conclusions on that subject are accepted as the basis of faith cure. We may, however, go further in our endeavor to explain.

In such mental troubles as psychasthesia much has lately been heard about psycho-analysis and re-education. What does that mean in the language of the psychology of a few years ago? In cases of unreasonable fears or phobias, for example, there is a firmly rooted system of ideas which refuses to depart at the command of consciousness. We analyze the mental store to find out the cause of the unreasonable persistence, and sometimes, quite frequently in fact, have to resort to hypnosis or hypnodization to find the initial trouble. It is then corrected, and re-education consists in living over again from the first experience, the events connected with that fear and correcting them up to date. In this process minutes only are used where the original experiences took weeks. Putting it in other words, we have certain systems of ideas; as a psychological fact of long standing we know that other elements may be injected into that system so as to change it, or that one system may be destroyed and another system built up to take its place. This is the secret of cures of this nature—of mental troubles—the irritating factor, the thorn in the mind, is extracted.

We have heard in modern psychology of the hot and cold places in consciousness, or, to use other terms for the same idea, the central and peripheral ideas, meaning the ideas which dominate consciousness, and those which are in the background. The mind can readily attend to only one thing at a time; if that be pain, for example, that takes up all of our attention. On the other hand, if for some reason some other ideas suddenly become central, then the pain is driven away to the periphery and we say we have no pain, or we have less pain. The sufferer from neuralgia experiences no pain as he responds to the fire alarm, and the toothache stops entirely as we undergo the excitement and fear of entering the dentist's office. Serious lesions yield to profound emotion born of persuasion, confidence, or excitement; either the gouty or rheumatic man, after hobbling about for years, finds his legs if pursued by a wild bull, or the weak and enfeebled invalid will jump from the bed and carry out heavy articles from a burning house. The central idea is sufficient to command all the reserve energy, and that idea which has suddenly and unexpectedly become central may remain so. What Chalmers called "the expulsive power of a new affection" in the cure of souls, is the precise method of operation in the cure of some bodily ills.

I have here made two suggestions which may help to show how mental healing may be brought about. Not simply the alleviation of bodily ills, but the complete cure may result from the influence on the subconsciousness. A large number of cures are brought about by faith in certain religious practices, this faith amounting to a certainty in the minds of the patients before the cure is started or while it is in progress. Trustful expectation in any one direction acts powerfully through the subconsciousness because it absorbs the whole mind, and thus competition with other ideas, either consciously or subconsciously, is largely excluded. It is this which acts in mental healing under the caption of faith, although some abnormal conditions may also arise to assist the suggestion.

That this confident expectation of a cure is the most potent means of bringing it about, doing that which no medical treatment can accomplish, may be affirmed as the generalized result of experiences of the most varied kind, extending through a long series of ages. It is this factor which is common to methods of the most diverse character. It is noticeable that any system of treatment, however absurd, that can be puffed into public notoriety for efficacy, any individual who by accident or design obtains a reputation for a special gift of healing, is certain to attract a multitude of sufferers, among whom will be many who are capable of being really benefited by a strong assurance of relief. Thus, the practitioner with a great reputation has an advantage over his neighboring physicians, not only on account of the superior skill which he may have acquired, but because his reputation causes this confident expectation, so beneficial in itself.

There have been fashions in cures as in other things. At one time a certain relic, or healer, would attract and cure, and shortly afterward it would be deserted and inefficacious, not because it had lost its power, but because it had lost its reputation, and the people had consequently lost their faith in it. Some other relics would then acquire a reputation, spring into popular favor, and the crowds would flock to them. We have many modern instances of this kind. If sufficient confidence in the power of a concoction, a shrine, a relic, or a person can be aroused, genuine cures can be wrought regardless of the healing properties of the dose.

The whole system of mental therapeutics may be divided into two parts; what we may designate as metaphysical cure denies that either matter or evil exists, and heals by inspiring the belief that the disease cannot assail the patient because he is pure spirit; the other class, faith cure, recognizes the disease, but cures by faith in the power of divinity, persons, objects, or suggestion.

Without doubt the best example of the former theory and the most successful application of it are found in Christian Science. Perhaps it is not so difficult to understand the frame of mind which brought about this theory on the part of Mrs. Eddy. Here was an hysterical, neurotic woman who knew nothing all her life but illness and misfortune. She had suffered much from many physicians and was none the better but rather worse. One physician had called her disease one thing, another had designated it another, until confusion and uncertainty were increased with every physician consulted. She began to despair of ever either knowing about her disease or of having it cured. As a last resort she went to Quimby, and he told her there was no disease and no need of suffering. He denied the suffering, and she accepted his teaching; she followed him in denying disease and then matter, and kept on with her theory of negation and denial until she evolved her present theory. It was a natural reaction from all conceivable pains characteristic of hysteria, to no pain; from all conceivable diseases which different physicians had opined, to no disease; from the infirmity of body with its inhibitory discomfitures, to no body. The history of the founder of Christian Science is its best raison d'etre, especially from a psychological stand-point, and the rather strange thing is that a reaction from an abnormality, going as it naturally does to another abnormality, should find a response in the religious cravings of so many; the philosophy undoubtedly would not attract as it does were there not connected with it, in the practical working of the system, the lure of mental healing.

Faith cure, the other form of mental healing, has such a variety of forms that it is practically impossible to describe a typical one. Faith in some power, or, what amounts to the same thing, the uncritical reception of suggestions concerning the cure, is the common factor in all forms.

The question naturally arises, Which is the best form of mental healing? There is no best form for all diseases and all persons. For example, it matters not how new associational systems are formed so long as they are substituted for the pernicious ones. It may be in the common experiences of every-day life, through the pleading of a friend, during sleep or trance, in some abnormal state of a hypnotic character, or during religious ecstasy, and we cannot well say in any given case that one form will be more efficacious than another. Mental healing creates nothing new, but simply makes use of the normal mechanism of the mind and body. The question then is, What method of mental healing is most likely to stimulate the mental mechanism so that physiological processes will be set up leading to a cure? The great power of faith and expectancy may decide the question, and the answer may be in favor of the form in which the patient has the most faith, either on account of its reputation, or on account of some prejudice on the part of the patient.



"The office of the physician extends equally to the purification of mind and body; to neglect the one is to expose the other to evident peril. It is not only the body that by its sound constitution strengthens the soul, but the well-regulated soul by its authoritative power maintains the body in perfect health."—PLATO.

"Aristotle mapped out philosophy and morals in lines the world yet accepts in the main, but he did not know the difference between the nerves and the tendons. Rome had a sound system of jurisprudence before it had a physician, using only priest-craft for healing. Cicero was the greatest lawyer the world has seen, but there was not a man in Rome who could have cured him of a colic. The Greek was an expert dialectician when he was using incantations for his diseases. As late as when the Puritans were enunciating their lofty principles, it was generally held that the king's touch would cure scrofula. Governor Winthrop, of colonial days, treated 'small-pox and all fevers' by a powder made from 'live toads baked in an earthen pot in the open air.'"—MUNGER.

"There is nothing so absurd or ridiculous that has not at some time been said by some philosopher. Fontenelle says he would undertake to persuade the whole republic of readers to believe that the sun was neither the cause of light or heat, if he could only get six philosophers on his side."—GOLDSMITH.

A glance at the history of medicine will show three fairly well defined periods. The beginning of the first is hidden in the uncertain days of prehistoric ages and the period continues down to early Christian times—perhaps the end of the second century when Galen died. The second period extends from this time to the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries, and the third period embraces the last three or four centuries. The second period was almost wholly stationary, and this, we are ashamed to say, was largely due to the prohibitive attitude of the church. The science of medicine, then, is almost wholly the result of the investigations and study of the last period. This means that medicine is one of the youngest of the sciences, while from the very nature of the case it is one of the oldest of arts.

From the beginning of the art of therapeutics, mental healing has been a large factor in the cure. This was not recognized, of course, for only in the last century has the psychic element been admitted to any extent as a therapeutic agent. We can read back now, however, and see what a large element this really was. The cruder the art, the more powerful was the mental influence. The ways of primitive therapeutics are completely hidden from us except what we can gather from the races which retained their primitive practices in historic times. We can well understand, though, that the concoctions of medicine-men and witch-doctors could have little effect except in a suggestive way. Snakes' heads, toads' toes, lizards' tails, and beetles' wings have a small place in the pharmacopoeia of to-day, except as placebos, and it is extremely doubtful if they were ever valuable for any other purpose.

The object of the primitive practitioner seems to have been to make an impression upon the patient either by the explanation of his disease or by the effort made to effect a cure. The explanation most frequently given was that demons were responsible for the trouble, and the cure of the disease was an attempted exorcism of the demon. The more fantastic the ceremony, the more likely the cure, on account of the mental influence upon the patient. The primitive man's religion and therapeutics were inextricably interwoven and, unless we make an exception of the past few years, this has always been an unprofitable union for one or both. All the early civilizations with the exception of the Greeks, as well as the Christian nations up to the sixteenth century, were handicapped by this partnership, and it was only by divorcing the two that therapeutics was able to make the great advance during the last period. The nature of the primitive religions was responsible to a great extent for the nature of the method of healing, therefore, appeasing the offended deity and exorcising the demon were therapeutic as well as religious ceremonies.

The Chinese of to-day, except in some of the seaboard cities, must be classed among the earliest civilizations, for their mode of living has not changed much in the last two or three milleniums. Their system of medical practice partakes of the character of that found among the early people, with some slight modifications which show some relationship to the European practice during the Dark Ages.

All sorts of disgusting doses are administered, and incantations and exorcisms are among the most effective methods of healing. For example, Hardy reports that a missionary told him of his being called in to see a man suffering from convulsions; he found him smelling white mice in a cage, with a dead fowl fastened on his chest, and a bundle of grass attached to his feet. This had been the prescription of a native physician.

Medicines are made from asses' sinews, fowls' blood, bears' gall, shaving of a rhinoceros' horn, moss grown on a coffin, and the dung of dogs, pigs, fowl, rabbits, pigeons, and bats. Cockroach tea, bear-paw soup, essence of monkey paw, toads' eyebrows, and earth-worms rolled in honey are common doses. The excrement of a mosquito is considered as efficacious as it is scarce, and here, as in Europe in the Middle Ages, the hair of the dog that bit you is used to heal the bite and to prevent hydrophobia. An infusion from the bones of a tiger is believed to confer courage, strength, and agility, and the flesh of a snake is boiled and eaten to make one cunning and wise. Chips from coffins which have been let down into the grave are boiled and are said to possess great virtue for catarrh. Flies, fleas, and bedbugs prepared in different ways are given for various diseases. Medicines are given in all forms, and not infrequently pills are as large as a pigeon's egg. If any of these medicines ever had any beneficent effect it must have been through mental rather than through physical means.

Nevius has left us in no doubt concerning the belief in demons among the Chinese, and of the effect this belief has on their theory of disease. Certain forms are daily observed to drive away the evil spirits. For this purpose Taoist priests are hired to recite formulae, ring bells, and manipulate bowls of water, candles, joss-sticks, and curious charms. Sometimes the family insists that one of the priests shall ascend a ladder, the rounds of which are formed of swords or knives with the sharp edge uppermost, and go through his exorcisms at the top. Instead of the priest, the mother may make a fire of paper and wave a small garment of her sick child over it.

A relative or friend of a sick person will visit a temple and beat the drum, which notifies the god that there is urgent need of his help. To be sure that the god hears, his ears are tickled, and the part of the image which corresponds to the afflicted part of the sick person's body is rubbed. Some ashes from the censor standing before the image may be taken to the sick-room and there reverenced. Holy water is brought from the temple, boiled with tea, and drunk as a certain cure for disease. Spells are written on paper and burned; the ashes are then put into water and drunk as medicine. Charms and magical tricks of all kinds are tried in order to drive away the demon.

There were schools of medicine in Egypt in the fifteenth century before the Christian era, and the Egyptians made great progress in the study and practice of medicine. Notwithstanding this, we find many examples of mental healing, or at least attempts at healing by mental means, among the recipes and prescriptions which have come down to us. Poor and superstitious persons, especially, had recourse to dreams, to wizards, to donations, to sacred animals, and to exvotos to the gods. Charms were also written for the credulous, some of which have been found on small pieces of papyrus, which were rolled up and worn, as by the modern Egyptians.

The Ebers papyrus, an important and very ancient manual of Egyptian medicine, has thrown much light on early Egyptian practices. It shows that an important part of the treatment prior to 1552 B. C., consisted in the laying on of hands, combined with an extensive formulary and ceremonial rites. The physicians were the priests, and among the interesting contents of this manuscript are several formulae to be used as prayers while compounding medicaments. Some of the prescriptions given here are accompanied by exorcisms which were to be used at the same time. Many of the prescriptions could have had little but mental influence because the remedies recommended consisted of horrible mixtures of unsavory ingredients, the theory, if we can judge by the medicines, being that the more disgusting the dose the more efficacious the remedy; this is true from a mental stand-point.

Demonism was not unknown; in fact, it underlay much of the treatment. People did not die, but they were assassinated. The murderer might belong to this or to the spirit world. He might be a god, a spirit, or the soul of a dead man that had cunningly entered a living person. The physician must first discover the nature of the possessing spirit, and then attack it. Powerful magic was the weapon used, and the healer must be an expert in reciting incantations and skilful in making amulets. On account of this, the Egyptians became the most skilled in magic of any people, and have their equals only in the Hindus of to-day. The experiences of Joseph and Moses, as recorded in the Bible, give us some idea of their skill at that time. After the exorcism the physician used medicine to relieve the disorders which the presence of the strange being had produced in the body.

Maspero gives us the following information: "The cure-workers are divided into several categories. Some incline towards sorcery, and have faith in formulas and talismans only; they think they have done enough if they have driven out the spirit. Others extol the use of drugs; they study the qualities of plants and minerals, describe the diseases to which each of the substances provided by nature is suitable, and settle the exact time when they must be procured and applied; certain herbs have no power unless they are gathered during the night at the full moon, others are efficacious in summer only, another acts equally well in winter or summer. The best doctors carefully avoid binding themselves exclusively to either method."[1]

Among the early Egyptians the human body was divided into thirty-six parts, each of which was thought to be under the particular government of one of the aerial demons, who presided over the triple divisions of the twelve signs. The priests practised a separate invocation for each genius, which they used in order to obtain for them the cure of the particular member confided to their care. We have the authority of Origen for saying that in his time when any part of the body was diseased, a cure was effected by invoking the demon to whose province it belonged. Perhaps this is why the different parts of the body were assigned to the different planets, and later to different saints. It undoubtedly accounts for the fact that an Egyptian physician treated only one part of the body and refused to infringe on the domain of his brother physician.

Incubation was commonly practised at the temples of Isis and Serapis as it was afterward among the Greeks. This "temple sleep" was closely akin in its effects to hypnotism and was undoubtedly efficacious in the case of some diseases.

The Babylonian system of therapeutics was not unlike the Egyptian as far as incantations were concerned. Many of these have been discovered. The formulas usually consist of a description of the disease and its symptoms, a desire for deliverance from it, and an order for it to depart. Some draughts were given which may have had some medicinal effect, but they were supposed to be enchanted drinks. Knots were supposed to have some magical effect on diseases, and conjurations were also wrought by the power of numbers. The Book of Daniel shows the official recognition given to magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers.

The Jews seem to have got their early medical knowledge from the Egyptians, and changed it only in so far as their religion made it necessary, for with them as with others the healing art was a part of the religion, and the Levites were the sole practitioners. Much valuable medical knowledge was mixed with much that could only have had a mental influence. Disease was considered a punishment for sin, and hence the cure was religious rather than medical. The disease might be inflicted by God direct, and the cure would be a proof of his forgiveness; it might also be inflicted by Satan or the spirits of the air with the permission of Jehovah, and the cure would then be brought about by exorcism.

There seems to have been a rather elaborate system of demonology among the Jews, who were at one time the chief exponents of the doctrine, and consequently the principal exorcists. Among the Jews a prominent "demoness of sickness is Bath-Chorin. She touches the hands and lower limbs by night. Many diseases are caused by demons." According to Josephus, "to demons may be ascribed leprosy, rabies, asthma, cardiac diseases, nervous diseases, which last are the specialty of evil demons, such as epilepsy." Incantations were in use among the later Jews, and amulets of neck-chains like serpents and ear-rings were employed to protect the wearers against the evil eye and similar troubles.

In India, medicine became a separate science very early, according to the sacred books, the Vedas. Notwithstanding this, demonology played a large part in the production of disease according to their theories, and religious observances were helpful in the cures.

Among the oldest documents which we possess relative to the practice of medicine, are the various treatises contained in the collection which bears the name of Hippocrates (460-375 B. C.). He was the first physician to relieve medicine from the trammels of superstition and the delusions of philosophy.

The Greeks undoubtedly believed in demons, but, different from the nations around them, considered the demons to be well-intentioned. Homer (c. 1000 B. C.) speaks frequently of demons, and in one instance in the Odyssey tells of a sick man pining away, "one upon whom a hateful demon had gazed." Empedocles (c. 490-430 B. C.) taught that demons "were of a mixed and inconstant nature, and are subjected to a purgatorial process which may finally end in their ascension to higher abodes." Yet he attributed to them nearly all the calamities, vexations, and plagues incident to mankind. Plato (427-347 B. C.) writes of demons good and bad, and Aristotle (384-322 B. C.), the son of a physician, speaks directly of "demons influencing and inspiring the possessed." Socrates (470-399 B. C.) claimed to have continually with him a demon—a guardian spirit.

In Greece, in early days, physicians were looked upon as gods. Even after the siege of Troy, the sons of the gods and the heroes were alone supposed to understand the secrets of medicine and surgery. At a late period AEsculapius, the son of Apollo, was worshipped as a deity. When we speak of the art of healing in Greece, one naturally thinks of the apparent monopoly of the AEsclepiades, who ministered unto the Grecian sick for centuries.

The original seat of the worship of AEsculapius was at Epidaurus, where there was a splendid temple, adorned with a gold and ivory statue of the god, who was represented sitting, one hand holding a staff, the other resting on the head of a serpent, the emblem of sagacity and longevity; a dog crouched at his feet. The temple was frequented by harmless serpents, in the form of which the god was supposed to manifest himself. According to Homer, his sons, Machaon and Podalirius, who were great warriors, treated wounds and external diseases only; and it is probable that their father practised in the same manner, as he is said to have invented the probe and the bandaging of wounds. His priests, the AEsclepiades, however, practised incantations, and cured diseases by leading their patients to believe that the god himself delivered his prescriptions in dreams and visions; for this imposture they were roughly satirized by Aristophanes in his play of "Plutus." It is probable that the preparations, consisting of abstinence, tranquillity, and bathing, requisite for obtaining the divine intercourse, and, above all, the confidence reposed in the AEsclepiades, were often productive of benefit.

The excavations of Cavvadias at Epidaurus have furnished us with much interesting material concerning the cures performed at this ancient shrine, five hundred years before the beginning of the Christian era. If the modern physician still recognizes AEsculapius as his patron saint, he must have great respect for mental healing. It appears certain from inscriptions found upon "stelae" that were dug up at Epidaurus and published in 1891, that the system of AEsculapius was based upon the miracle-working of a demi-god, and not upon medical art as we now know it. The modus operandi was unique in some details. The patients, mostly incurables, came laden with sacrifices. After prayer, they cleansed themselves with water from the holy well, and offered up sacrifices. Certain ceremonial acts were then performed by the priests, and the patients were put to sleep on the skins of the animals offered at the altar, or at the foot of the statue of the divinity, while the priests performed further sacred rites. The son of Apollo then appeared to them in dreams, attended to the particular ailments of the sufferers, and specified further sacrifices or acts which would restore health. In many cases the sick awoke suddenly cured. Large sums of money were asked for these cures; from one inscription we learn that a sum corresponding to $12,000 was paid as a fee. The record of the cure was carved on the temple as at Lourdes to-day, e.g.:

"Some days back, a certain Caius, who was blind, learned from an oracle that he should repair to the temple, put up his fervent prayers, cross the sanctuary from right to left, place his five fingers on the altar, then raise his hand and cover his eyes. He obeyed, and instantly his sight was restored, amid the loud acclamations of the multitude. These signs of the omnipotence of the gods were shown in the reign of Antoninus."

"A blind soldier, named Valerius Apes, having consulted the oracle, was informed that he should mix the blood of a white cock with honey, to make up an ointment to be applied to his eyes for three consecutive days. He received his sight, and returned public thanks to the gods."

"Julian appeared lost beyond all hope, from a spitting of blood. The gods ordered him to take from the altar some seeds of the pine, and to mix them with honey, of which mixture he was to eat for three days. He was saved, and came to thank the gods in the presence of the people."[2]

It was not until five centuries later, when credulity concerning miracles was on the wane, that the priests began to study and to apply medical means in order to sustain the reputation of the place, and to keep up its enormous revenues.

Temples similar to this one at Epidaurus existed at numerous places, among which were Rhodes, Cnidus, Cos, and one was to be found on the banks of the Tiber. The temple at Cos was rich in votive offerings, which generally represented the parts of the body healed, and an account of the method of cure adopted. From these singular clinical records, Hippocrates, a reputed descendant of AEsculapius, is reported to have constructed his treatise on Dietetics.

For a long time after the age of Hercules and the heroic times, invalids in Greece sought relief from their sufferings from these descendants of AEsculapius in the temples of that god, which an enlightened policy had raised on elevated spots, near medicinal springs, and in salubrious vicinities. Those men who pretended in right of birth to hold the gift of curing, finally learned the art of it. The preservation in the temple of the history of those diseases, the cure of which had been sought by them, aided greatly in this happy culmination.

Of AEsculapius himself, it is said that he employed the trumpet to cure sciatica; he claimed that its continued sound made the fibres of the nerves to palpitate, and the pain vanished. In line with this treatment, Democritus affirmed that diseases are capable of being cured by the sound of a flute, when properly played.

Herbs were also used among the Greeks, but almost wholly in the form of charms rather than on account of what we claim now as real medicinal value. For example, great virtues were ascribed to the herb alysson which was pounded and eaten with meat to cure hydrophobia. If suspended in the house, it promoted the health of the inmates and protected both men and cattle from enchantments; when bound in a piece of scarlet flannel round the necks of the latter, it preserved them from all diseases.

There seems to have been no independent school of Roman medicine. From early times there was a very complicated system of superstitious medicine, as a part of the religion, which is supposed to have been borrowed from the Etruscans. This comprehended both the theory and cure of disease. The Romans got along for centuries without doctors; in fact, doctors were a Grecian importation, not made until about two centuries before Christ.

[1] G. Maspero, Life in Ancient Egypt and Assyria, chap. VII.

[2] E. Berdoe, "A Medical View of the Miracles at Lourdes," Nineteenth Century, October, 1895.



"The Alchemist may doubt the shining gold His crucible pours out, But faith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast To some dear falsehood, Hugs it to the last."

"Death is the cure of all diseases. There is no catholicon or universal remedy I know, but this, which though nauseous to queasy stomachs, yet to prepared appetites is nectar, and a pleasant potion of immortality."—BROWNE.

"I'll tell you what now of the Devil: He's no such horrid creature; cloven-footed, Black, saucer-ey'd, his nostrils breathing fire, As these lying Christians make him."—MASSINGER.

"If the cure be wrought, what matters it to the happy invalid ... whether the cure is wrought by the touch of the Divine hand or the overpowering influence of a great idea upon the nervous system? If our hunger be appeased, it matters little whether it is by manna rained down from heaven, or a wheaten loaf raised from the harvest field. Miraculous water from the rock does not quench the thirst better than that which bubbles from the village spring."—BERDOE.

The advent of the Christian religion into the world, while purporting to minister especially to the spiritual life, had a wide-reaching and potent influence on the art of healing the body. We cannot sum up the effect by saying that this influence was either wholly good or bad—its relation to therapeutics was a mixed one. It can be truthfully said that nothing has retarded the science of medicine during the past two thousand years so much as the iron grip of decadent orthodoxy, and, on the other hand, no power has caused men and women so to sacrifice time, money, and even life itself for the care and nurture of the sick, as the example and precepts of Jesus Christ.

For eighteen centuries this paradoxical position was held by the church, and the antithetical attitudes of hindrance and help continued to exist. As valuable as was the spirit instilled into the hearts of His followers by the tenderness of the Master, it was never sufficient to counterbalance the deterrent effects of the religion which they espoused. The retardation was caused by two related beliefs which permeated the church: The first was the doctrine of the power of demons in the lives of men, especially in the production of disease; and the second was the prevalence of the idea of the possibility and probability of the performance of miracles, particularly in the healing of diseases.

A rather complicated science of demonology had come down from primitive sources through Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek civilization, although the demons of the Greeks were principally good spirits. At the time of Christ, however, the Jews were the most ardent advocates of demonology, and hence the chief exorcists. They expelled demons partly by adjuration and partly by means of a certain miraculous root named Baaras. They considered it nothing at all out of the ordinary to meet men who were possessed by demons, and just as common an experience to see them healed by having the demon exorcised. Josephus assures us that in the reign of Vespasian he had himself seen a Jew named Eleazar perform an exorcism; by means of adjuration and the Baaras root he drew a demon through the nostrils of a possessed person, who fell to the ground on the accomplishment of the miracle, while on the command of the magician the demon, to prove that it had really left its victim, threw down a cup of water which had been placed at a distance.

Knowing as we do the close relationship between Judaism and Christianity, it does not surprise us to discover that the Christians inherited the doctrine and practice of the Jews in this matter. This is more readily understood when we remember the connection of Jesus with cases of demoniacal possession, and Paul's frequent references to the spirits of the air. Following the example of their Master, Christians everywhere became exorcists. Through the influence of Philo's writings, Jewish demonology was propagated among Christian converts, and the Gnostics quickly absorbed and spread the notion of preternatural interposition. Next to the belief in the second coming of Christ, the doctrine which most influenced the action of the early church was that of a spiritual world and its hierarchy. Terrestrial things were ruled by all sorts of spiritual beings.

Some philosophers, as well as the founders of different religions, expelled demons, and the Christians fully recognized the power possessed by the Jewish and gentile exorcists; the followers of Christ, however, claimed to be in many respects the superior of all others. The fathers maintained the reality of all pagan miracles as fully as their own, except that doubt was sometimes cast on some forms of healing and prophecy. Demons which had resisted all the enchantments of the pagans might be cast out, oracles could be silenced, and unclean spirits compelled to acknowledge the truth of the Christian faith by the Christians, who simply made the sign of the cross, or repeated the name of the Master.

The power of the Christian exorcists was shown by still more wonderful feats. Demons, which were sometimes supposed to enter animals, were expelled. St. Hilarion (288-371), we are told, courageously confronted and relieved a possessed camel. "The great St. Ambrose [340-397] tells us that a priest, while saying mass, was troubled by the croaking of frogs in a neighboring marsh; that he exorcised them, and so stopped their noise. St. Bernard [1091-1153], as the monkish chroniclers tell us, mounting the pulpit to preach in his abbey, was interrupted by a crowd of flies; straightway the saint uttered the sacred formula of excommunication, when the flies fell dead upon the pavement in heaps, and were cast out with shovels! A formula of exorcism attributed to a saint of the ninth century, which remained in use down to a recent period, especially declares insects injurious to crops to be possessed of evil spirits, and names, among the animals to be excommunicated or exorcised, moles, mice, and serpents. The use of exorcism against caterpillars and grasshoppers was also common. In the thirteenth century a bishop of Lausanne, finding that the eels in Lake Leman troubled the fishermen, attempted to remove the difficulty by exorcism, and two centuries later one of his successors excommunicated all the May-bugs in the diocese. As late as 1731 there appears an entry on the municipal register of Thonon as follows: 'Resolved, that this town join with other parishes of this province in obtaining from Rome an excommunication against the insects, and that it will contribute pro rata to the expense of the same.'"

Scripture was cited to prove the diabolical character of some animals during the Middle Ages. Says White: "Did anyone venture to deny that animals could be possessed by Satan, he was at once silenced by reference to the entrance of Satan into the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and to the casting of devils into swine by the Founder of Christianity himself."[3]

Notwithstanding the pleasing theory adopted by the earlier Christian writers that the powers of darkness were unable to harm the faithful without the permission of divinity, to whom demoniacal spirits were ultimately subjected, unlimited power was conceded to those beings who existed under divine sanction. Demoniacal aeons or emanations were acknowledged to be the primitive source of earthly sufferings, pestilence among men, sickness and other bodily afflictions, but inflicted with the consent of God, whose messengers they were.

Early Christian writers boldly asserted that all the disorders of the world originated with the devil and his sinister companions, because they were stirred with the unholy desire to obtain associates in their miseries. It was impossible to fix a limit to the number of these malevolent spirits constantly provoking diseases and infirmities upon men. They were alleged to surround mankind so densely that each person had a thousand to his right and ten thousand to the left of him. Endowed with the subtlest activity, they were able to reach the remotest points of earth in the twinkling of an eye.

According to Salverte, Tatian, a sincere defender of Christianity, who lived in the second century, "does not deny the wonderful cures effected by the priests of the temples of the Polytheists; he only attempts to explain them by supposing that the pagan gods were actual demons, and that they introduced disease into the body of a healthy man, announcing to him, in a dream, that he should be cured if he implored their assistance; and then, by terminating the evil which they themselves had produced, they obtained the glory of having worked the miracle."[4]

So firm was the belief that Christians could exorcise these demons that from the time of Justin Martyr (100-163), for about two centuries, there is not a single Christian writer who does not solemnly and explicitly assert the reality and frequent employment of this power. In his Second Apology, Justin says: "And now you can learn this from what is under your own observation. For numberless demoniacs throughout the whole world, and in your city, many of our Christian men exorcising them in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, have healed and do heal, rendering helpless and driving the possessing demons out of the men, though they could not be cured by all the other exorcists, and those who used incantations and drugs."

Irenaeus (130-202) held that mankind, through transgressions of divine command, fell absolutely from the time of Adam into the power of Satan. On the other hand, he assures us that all Christians possessed the power of working miracles; that they prophesied, cast out devils, healed the sick, and sometimes even raised the dead; that some who had been thus resuscitated lived for many years among them, and that it would be impossible to reckon the wonderful acts that were daily performed.[5]

Tertullian (160-220) insisted that a malevolent angel was in constant attendance upon every person, but in writing to the pagans in a time of persecution he challenged his opponents to bring forth any person who was possessed by a demon or any of those prophets or virgins who were supposed to be inspired by a divinity. He asserted that all demons would be compelled to confess their diabolical character when questioned by any Christians, and invited the pagans, if it were otherwise, to put the Christian immediately to death, for this, he thought, was the simplest and most decisive demonstration of the faith.

Lecky tells us of the attitude of the fathers toward demonism in the following words: "Justin Martyr, Origen, Lactantius, Athanasius, and Minucius Felix, all in language equally solemn and explicit, call upon the pagans to form their own opinions from the confessions wrung from their own gods. We hear from them, that when a Christian began to pray, to make the sign of the cross, or to utter the name of his Master in the presence of a possessed or inspired person, the latter, by screams and frightful contortions, exhibited the torture that was inflicted, and by this torture the evil spirit was compelled to avow its nature. Several of the Christian writers declare that this was generally known to pagans."[6]

Origen (185-254) said: "It is demons which produce famine, unfruitfulness, corruptions of the air, pestilence; they hover concealed in clouds in the lower atmosphere, and are attracted by the blood and incense which the heathen offer to them as gods." He thought, though, that Raphael had special care of the sick and the infirm. Cyprian (186-258) charged that demons caused luxations and fractures of the limbs, undermined the health, and harassed with diseases. Up to this time it was the privilege of any Christian to exorcise demons, but Pope Fabian (236-250) assigned a definite name and functions to exorcists as a separate order. To-day the priest has included in his ordination vows those of exorcist. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) declared that bodily pains are provoked by demons, and that medicines are useless, but that demoniacs are often cured by laying on of consecrated hands. St. Augustine (354-430) said: "All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons; chiefly do they torment fresh-baptized Christians, yea, even the guiltless new-born infants."

Baltus[7] says: "De tous les anciens auteurs ecclesiastiques, n'y en ayant pas un qui n'ait parle de ce pouvoir admirable que les Chretiens avoient de chasser les demons," and Gregory of Tours (538-594) says that exorcism was common in his time, having himself seen a monk named Julian cure by his words a possessed person. This testimony of Gregory's concerning the prevalence of exorcisms at the end of the sixth century is interesting in view of the facts that the Council of Laodicea, in the fourth century, forbade any one to exorcise, except those duly authorized by the bishop, and that in the very beginning of the fifth century a physician named Posidonius denied the existence of possession. The fathers of the church, however, ridiculed the solemn assertion of physicians that many of these alleged demoniacal infirmities were attributable to material agencies, and were fully persuaded in their own minds that demons took possession of the organism of the human body.

At about this time, such a broad-minded man as Gregory the Great (540-604) solemnly related that a nun, having eaten some lettuce without making the sign of the cross, swallowed a devil, and that, when commanded by a holy man to come forth, the devil replied: "How am I to blame? I was sitting on the lettuce, and this woman, not having made the sign of the cross, ate me along with it." This is but an example of the ideas concerning the entrance of demons into the possessed.[8] Besides the possibility of being taken into the mouth with one's food, they might enter while the mouth was opened to breathe. Exorcists were therefore careful to keep their mouths closed when casting out evil spirits, lest the imps should jump into their mouths from the mouths of the patients. Another theory was that the devil entered human beings during sleep, and at a comparatively recent period a king of Spain, Charles II (1661-1700), kept off the devil while asleep by the presence of his confessor and two friars.[9]

Shortly before the reign of Gregory, there came into vogue the fashion of exorcising demons by means of a written formula rather than by the earlier means of making the sign of the cross and invoking the name of Jesus. The theory of demonology was never very clear nor consistent. By some it was claimed that in the practice of the magical arts evil spirits provided cure for sickness, others maintained that they could not heal any diseases, and hence the true test of Christianity was the ability to cure bodily ills. A compromise position was that demons were only successful in eliminating diseases which they had themselves caused. There was not a little doubt in some cases about the character of the possessing spirits, and it behooved people to be careful; demons might use men as habitations, and while posing as good angels vitiate health and provoke disease.

At the beginning of the seventh century, we have an account of an exorcism by St. Gall (556-640), and during the Carlovingian age the healing at Monte Cassino was based on the Satanic origin of disease. When the conversion of northern races to Christianity began, demonology received a stimulus. An unlimited number of demons, similar in individuality and prowess, were substituted for the pagan demons, and the pagan gods were added as additional demons. When proselytes were taken into the church, care was taken to exorcise all evil spirits. During the baptismal service the Satanic hosts, as originators of sin, vice, and maladies, were expelled by insufflation of the officiating clergyman, the sign of the cross, and the invocation of the Triune Deity. The earliest formulas for such expulsion directed a double exhalation of the priest.[10]

In all epidemics of the Middle Ages, such persons as were afflicted by pestilent diseases were declared contaminated by the devil, and carried to churches and chapels, a dozen at a time, securely bound together. They were thrown upon the floor, where they lay, according to the attestation of a pitying chronicler, until dead or restored to health.

Unsound mind was universally accepted as a specific distinction of diabolical power, and caused by the corporeal presence of an impure spirit. Imbeciles and the insane were, throughout the Middle Ages, especially conceded to be the abode of avenging and frenzied demons. In aggravated cases, the actual presence of the medicinal saint was necessary; in less vexatious maladies, the bare imposition of hands, accompanied by plaintive prayer, quickly healed the diseased.[11]

As early as the fifth century before Christ, Hippocrates of Cos asserted that madness was simply a disease of the brain, but notwithstanding the reiteration of this scientific truth the church repudiated it, and as late as the Reformation, Martin Luther maintained that not only was insanity caused by diabolical influences, but that "Satan produces all the maladies which afflict mankind." Even much later, however, when other diseases were assigned a physical origin, insanity was still thought to be demoniacal possession. As late as Bossuet's time, lunacy was thought to be the work of demons. The cultured and progressive Bishop of Meaux, while trying to throw off the shackles of superstition, delivered and published two great sermons in which demoniacal possession is defended. To show how the idea has clung, notwithstanding the advancement and enlightenment of late years, we may notice a trial which took place at Wemding, in southern Germany, in 1892, of which White tells us.

"A boy had become hysterical, and the Capuchin Father Aurelian tried to exorcise him, and charged a peasant's wife, Frau Herz, with bewitching him, on evidence that would have cost the woman her life at any time during the seventeenth century. Thereupon the woman's husband brought suit against Father Aurelian for slander. The latter urged in his defence that the boy was possessed of an evil spirit, if anybody ever was; that what had been said and done was in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Church, as laid down in decrees, formulas, and rituals sanctioned by popes, councils, and innumerable bishops during ages. All in vain. The court condemned the good father to fine and imprisonment."[12]

I cannot refrain from quoting in this connection the now famous epitaph of Lord Westbury's, suggested by the decision given by him as Lord Chancellor in the case against Mr. Wilson in which it was charged that the latter denied the doctrine of eternal punishment. The court decided that it did "not find in the formularies of the English Church any such distinct declaration upon the subject as to require it to punish the expression of a hope by a clergyman that even the ultimate pardon of the wicked who are condemned in the day of judgment may be consistent with the will of Almighty God." The following is the epitaph:

"RICHARD BARON WESTBURY, Lord High Chancellor of England. He was an eminent Christian, An energetic and merciful Statesman, And a still more eminent and merciful Judge. During his three years' tenure of office He abolished the ancient method of conveying land, The time-honored institution of the Insolvents' Court, And The Eternity of Punishment. Toward the close of his earthly career, In the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, He dismissed Hell with costs, And took away from Orthodox members of the Church of England Their last hope of everlasting damnation."[13]

In the Middle Ages there was a strange and incongruous mixture of medicine and exorcism. Notice the following prescriptions:

"If an elf or a goblin come, smear his forehead with this salve, put it on his eyes, cense him with incense, and sign him frequently with the sign of the cross."

"For a fiend-sick man: When a devil possesses a man, or controls him from within with disease, a spew-drink of lupin, bishopwort, henbane, garlic. Pound these together, add ale and holy water."

"A drink for a fiend-sick man, to be drunk out of a church bell: Githrife, cynoglossum, yarrow, lupin, flower-de-luce, fennel, lichen, lovage. Work up to a drink with clear ale, sing seven masses over it, add garlic and holy water, and let the possessed sing the Beati Immaculati; then let him drink the dose out of a church bell, and let the priest sing over him the Domine Sancte Pater Omnipotens."[14]

Three methods of driving out demons from the insane were used: the main weapon against the devil and his angels has always been exorcism by means of ecclesiastical formula and signs. These formulas degenerated at one time to the vilest cursings, threatenings, and vulgarities. A second means was by an effort to disgust the demon and wound his pride. This might simply precede the exorcism proper. To accomplish this purpose of offending the demons, the most blasphemous and obscene epithets were used by the exorcist, which were allowable and perfectly proper when addressing demons. Most of these are so indecent that they cannot be printed, but the following are some examples:

"Thou lustful and stupid one,... thou lean sow, famine-stricken and most impure,... thou wrinkled beast, thou mangy beast, thou beast of all beasts the most beastly,... thou mad spirit,... thou bestial and foolish drunkard,... most greedy wolf,... most abominable whisperer,... thou sooty spirit from Tartarus!... I cast thee down, O Tartarean boor,... into the infernal kitchen!... Loathsome cobbler,... dingy collier,... filthy sow (scrofa stercorata),... perfidious boar,... envious crocodile,... malodorous drudge,... wounded basilisk,... rust-colored asp,... swollen toad,... entangled spider,... lousy swineherd (porcarie pedicose),... lowest of the low,... cudgelled ass," etc.[15]

The pride of the demon was also to be wounded by the use of the vilest-smelling drugs, by trampling underfoot and spitting upon the picture of the devil, or even by sprinkling upon it foul compounds. Some even tried to scare the demon by using large-sounding words and names.

The third method of exorcism was punishment. The attempt was frequently made to scourge the demon out of the body. The exorcism was more effective if the name of the demon could be ascertained. If successful in procuring the name, it was written on a piece of paper and burned in a fire previously blessed, which caused the demons to suffer all the torments in the accompanying exorcisms. All forms of torture were employed, and in the great cities of Europe, "witch towers," where witches and demoniacs were tortured, and "fool towers," where the more gentle lunatics were imprisoned, may still be seen. The treatment of the insane in the Middle Ages is one of the darkest blots on the growing civilization.

The exorcism being completed, when some of the weaker demons were put to flight an after service was held in which everything belonging to the patient was exorcised, so that the demon might not hide there and return to the patient. The exorcised demons were forbidden to return, and the demons remaining in the body were commanded to leave all the remainder of the body, and to descend into the little toe of the right foot, and there to rest quietly.

After the Reformation, two contests shaped themselves in the matter of exorcisms. The Protestants and the Roman Catholics vied with each other in the power, rapidity, and duration of the exorcisms. Both put forth miraculous claims, and with as much energy denied the power of the other. They agreed in one thing, and that was the erroneous position and teaching of the physicians. This, however, was but a continuation of that rivalry between the advancement of science and the conservation of theology, which is as old as history. In our examination of the influence of Christianity upon mental healing, it may be well for us to glance at the discouraging attitude of Christianity toward medicine.[16]

The usurpation of healing by the church, which was a most serious drawback to the therapeutic art, will be traced in the following chapters; there are, however, some other ways in which the church retarded the work of physicians. Chief among these was the theory propagated by Christians that it was unlawful to meddle with the bodies of the dead. This theory came down from ancient times, but was eagerly accepted by the church, principally on account of the doctrine of the bodily resurrection. In addition to this, surgery was forbidden because the Church of Rome adopted the maxim that "the church abhors the shedding of blood." A recent English historian has remarked that of all organizations in human history, the Church of Rome has caused the spilling of most innocent blood, but it refused to allow the surgeons to spill a drop.

Monks were prohibited the practice of surgery in 1248, and by subsequent councils, and all dissections were considered sacrilege. Surgery was considered dishonorable until the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. The use of medicine was also discouraged. Down through the centuries a few churchmen and many others, especially Jews and Arabs, took up the study. The church authorities did everything possible to thwart it. Supernatural means were so abundant that the use of drugs was not only irreligious but superfluous. Monks who took medicine were punished, and physicians in the thirteenth century could not treat patients without calling in ecclesiastical advice.

We are told that in the reign of Philip II of Spain a famous Spanish doctor was actually condemned by the Inquisition to be burnt for having performed a surgical operation, and it was only by royal favor that he was permitted instead to expiate his crime by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he died in poverty and exile.

This restriction was continued for three centuries, and consequently threw medical work into the hands of charlatans among Christians, and of Jews. The clergy of the city of Hall protested that "it were better to die with Christ than to be cured by a Jew doctor aided by the devil." The Jesuit professor, Stengal, said that God permits illness because of His wish to glorify Himself through the miracles wrought by the church, and His desire to test the faith of men by letting them choose between the holy aid of the church and the illicit resort to medicine.

There was another reason for the antagonism of the church to physicians; the physicians in this case were inside the church. The monks converted medicine to the basest uses. In connection with the authority of the church, it was employed for extorting money from the sick. They knew little or nothing about medicine, so used charms, amulets, and relics in healing. The ignorance and cupidity of the monks led the Lateran Council, under the pontificate of Calixtus II, in 1123, to forbid priests and monks to attend the sick otherwise than as ministers of religion. It had little or no effect, so that Innocent II, in a council at Rheims in 1131, enforced the decree prohibiting the monks frequenting schools of medicine, and directing them to confine their practice to their own monasteries. They still disobeyed, and a Lateran Council in 1139 threatened all who neglected its orders with the severest penalties and suspension from the exercise of all ecclesiastical functions; such practices were denounced as a neglect of the sacred objects of their profession in exchange for ungodly lucre. When the priests found that they could no longer confine the practice of medicine to themselves, it was stigmatized and denounced. At the Council of Tours in 1163, Alexander III maintained that through medicine the devil tried to seduce the priesthood, and threatened with excommunication any ecclesiastic who studied medicine. In 1215, Innocent III fulminated an anathema against surgery and any priest practising it. Even this was not effectual.[17]

What we see in connection with dissection and surgery and medicine was repeated at a later date with inoculation, vaccination, and anaesthetics. There were the same objections by the church on theological grounds, the same stubborn battle, and the same inevitable defeat of the theological position.

So long as disease was attributed to a demoniacal cause, so long did exorcisms and other miraculous cures continue, and so far as these cures were efficacious, they must be classed as mental healing. Probably they continued longer in insanity and mental derangement on account of the beneficent and soothing effect of religion upon a diseased mind. Priestly cures of all kinds were largely, if not wholly, suggestive, and no history of mental healing would be complete without a resume of ecclesiastical therapeutics. Many vagaries of healing which the church introduced might be mentioned to show to what extent the people may be misled in the name of religion. For example, the doctrine of signatures, to be later discussed, was disseminated by priests and monks, and if these medicines were ever effective it must have been by mental means.

The demon theory of disease, which began before the age of history, and continued down through the savage ages and religions, through the early civilizations, through the gospel history, and dominated early Christianity, was finally, in the sixteenth century, to be vigorously assailed and largely overcome. The cost of this was considerable; attached as it was to the Christian church, it seemed necessary to destroy the whole Christian fabric in order to unravel this one thread. Atheism, therefore, was rampant, and science and atheism became almost synonymous, and continued so until the church freed science from its centuries of bondage and allowed it to develop so as to be again in these days a co-laborer.

In pleasing contrast to the destructive and deterrent efforts of the church against the development of medicine is the helpful care of the sick exercised by Christians. The example of Jesus as shown by his tender sympathy, his helpful acts, and his instruction to his followers, bore fruit in the relief and care of sufferers by individuals and religious asylums. About the year 1000 and later, the infirmaries which were attached to numerous monasteries, and the hospitia along the routes of travel which opened their doors to sick pilgrims, were but the development of a less portentous attempt on the part of individuals and societies to care for the sick. The Knights of St. John, or the Hospitalers as they were called, assumed as their special duty the nursing and doctoring of those in need of such attention, especially of sick and infirm pilgrims and crusaders.

Hospitals for the sick, orphanages for foundlings, and great institutions for the proper care of paupers developed with immense strides, and during the twelfth century expanded into gigantic proportions. In the ensuing age, the mediaeval mind was fired with a faith in the efficacy of unstinted charity; members of society, from holy pontiff to the humblest recluse by the wayside, rivalled each other in gratuities of clothing and food, founding of hospitals, and endowment of beneficent public institutions. St. Louis's highest claim to pious glory arose from his restless and unstinted charities to the indigent and sick. Even the lepers, which were shunned or segregated, were treated by Christian institutions; and saints and saintesses found pious expression for their humility in personal attendance and even loving embraces of these unsightly beings covered with repulsive sores. For the last millennium there has not been a time when Christian love and benevolence have not sought the opportunity of ministering to the sick.

One can easily recognize the effect which this fact would have on mental healing. The church fostered the ideas of exorcism and the cures by relics and shrines, and deprecated the use of medicine. If the hospitals and infirmaries were almost wholly in the hands of the monks and churchmen, there was little hope for the development of other than ecclesiastical mental healing. The untold good which Christian ministrations to the sick accomplished must be acknowledged, but it was not an unmixed benefit to the race as a whole.

We may more easily see, perhaps, the connection between the church and the development of medicine, and the despotic power of the church in this regard, when we remember that physicians were formerly a part of the clergy, and it was not until 1542 that the papal legate in France gave them permission to marry. In 1552 the doctors in law obtained like permission. An early priestly physician has survived to fame by the name of Elpideus, sometimes confused with Elpidius Rusticus. He was both a deacon of the church and a skilled surgeon, and was very favorably mentioned by St. Ennodius as a person of fine culture. He was sufficiently dexterous and skilful to heal the Gothic ruler, Theodoric, of a grievous illness.[18] Salverte gives us additional examples: "Richard Fitz-Nigel, who died Bishop of London, in 1198, had been apothecary to Henry II. The celebrated Roger Bacon, who flourished in the thirteenth century, although a monk, yet practised medicine. Nicolas de Farnham, a physician to Henry III, was created Bishop of Durham; and many doctors of medicine were at various times elevated to ecclesiastical dignities."[19]

The grip of the church accomplished its purpose, and science, especially the science of medicine, was strangled, almost to the death. Even the people of the time recognized the shortcomings of the physicians. Henricus Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535), writing in 1530, said with pleasant irony that physic was "a certaine Arte of manslaughter," and that "well neare alwaies there is more daunger in the Physition and the Medicine than in the sicknesse itselfe." He also gives the following picture of a fashionable doctor of his time: "Clad in brave apparaile, having ringes on his fingers glimmeringe with pretious stoanes, and which hath gotten fame and credence for having been in farre countries, or having an obstinate manner of vaunting with stiffe lies that he hath great remedies, and for having continually in his mouth many wordes halfe Greeke and barbarous.... But this will prove to be true, that Physitians moste commonlye be naught. They have one common honour with the hangman, that is to saye, to kill menne and to be recompensed therefore."[20]

[3] A. D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology, II, p. 113.

[4] E. Salverte, Philosophy of Magic (trans. Thompson), II, p. 94.

[5] W. E. H. Lecky, History of European Morals, I, p. 378.

[6] Ibid., I, p. 383.

[7] Reponse a l'histoire des oracles, p. 296.

[8] A. D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology, II, p. 101.

[9] H. T. Buckle, History of Civilization in England, II, p. 270.

[10] G. F. Fort, History of Medical Economy During the Middle Ages, p. 201.

[11] For a full discussion of this subject, see A. D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology, II, pp. 97-134.

[12] A. D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology, II, p. 128.

[13] Nash, Life of Lord Westbury, II, p. 78.

[14] Cockayne, Leechdoms, Wort-cunning, and Star-craft of Early England, II, p. 177.

[15] M. H. Dziewicki, "Exorcizo Te," Nineteenth Century, XXIV, p. 580.

[16] For a full discussion of this subject, see A. D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology, II, pp. 1-167.

[17] T. J. Pettigrew, Superstitions Connected with the History and Practice of Surgery and Medicine, pp. 51 f.

[18] G. F. Fort, History of Medical Economy During the Middle Ages, pp. 142 f.

[19] E. Salverte, Philosophy of Magic (trans. Thompson), II, p. 96.

[20] E. A. King, "Medieval Medicine," Nineteenth Century, XXXIV, p. 151.

For further references to the effect of demonism, see J. F. Nevius, Demon Possession and Allied Themes; J. M. Peebles, The Demonism of the Ages and Spirit Obsessions; articles on "Demon," "Demonism," "Demoniacal Possession," and "Devil," in the Catholic Encyclopedia, the New International Encyclopedia, and the Encyclopedia Britannica.

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