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ment thought proper to cut the delusion short by confining hin in St. Lazare.
This did not suffice: other patients rapidly presented themselves to deceive others, and be deceived themselves. One woman, with a short leg, went to have it stretched by dancing upon the grave: at the end of some months a calculation was made that at the same rate of elongation the cure would be perfected when she should have capered there for fifty-four years. A Spaniard, who had received a blow in the eye, applied the apothecary's prescription with a rag of the deacon Paris's shirt, and the cure was attributed to the relic. The churchyard now became a scene of the strangest extravagance. Magistrates in their robes, men and women of rank, priests, monks, and doctors of the Sorbonne, were to be seen there, mingled with the vulgarest rabble, as admiring and believing spectators, while knaves and dupes were exhibiting themselves upon the grave, dancing, jumping, jerking, whirling, or writhing in the contortions of real or pretended convulsionary movements. Folly and fanaticism are always contagious enough; but there was more than the natural contagion of these moral endemics here: the deacon had been a confessor in the cause of Jansenism, and the Jansenists were as ready as the Jesuits to obtain credit by promoting any delusion in their own favour. Government at last shut the churchyard, and this gave occasion to the well-known pasquinade which was written upon the gates:
De par le Roi, défense à Dieu
In an earlier stage of the frenzy, such an interference might have proved effectual. It had been delayed too long. The earth from the churchyard, the water from the well of which the deacon used to drink, were now said to operate miraculous cures. And while the prisons were crowded with those who, in defiance of the police, presented themselves at the churchyard, extravagances infinitely worse than those which had been suppressed, were committed in private houses. Like the French revolution, that which had begun in enthusiasm, accident, and intrigue, had now passed into the hands of wretches, in whom it would be difficult to say whether villainy or madness predominated. It no longer sufficed for the patients to invoke the blessed deacon, and expect relief by means of convulsions, which the fervour of their devotion produced. The convulsionnaires, as they were called, stood in need of human succour for receiving his miraculous aid. These succours were administered by men the persons who required them being generally women; and they consisted in blows with a stick, a stone, a hammer, a poker, or a sword. One woman would lie down to be threshed like a bundle of wheat; another stood upon her head; a
third forming a half circle, by bending her body back, remained in that frightful position, while a stone, fifty pounds weight, fastened by a rope to a pulley in the ceiling, was repeatedly let fall upon the abdomen; a fourth had a plank placed across her while she lay on her back, and bore the weight of as many men as could stand upon the plank.
These disgusting practices were reduced to a system; there were the great and the little succours; among the former, the exercise of the spit was classed. It is affirmed that one woman was fastened stark naked to a spit, with a pullet tied behind her, and a brother, as the male assistants were called, turned the spit before a fierce fire, till the bird was fairly roasted. The salamanders, who have displayed their art in England, show that this might be possible for any one flagitious enough to become the subject of such an exhibition; and what is most marvellous here, is the utter profligacy of the abandoned performer. But even the indubitable accounts which have appeared of what the Indian Yoguees inflict upon themselves would hardly obtain belief for the fact, that women presented themselves to undergo actual crucifixion in these accursed displays of fanaticism and impiety, obscenities and horrors, if it were not established beyond all possibility of doubt. Baron Grimm has preserved an account of two of these shocking exhibitions, from notes taken on the spot by M. de Condamine and M. de Gustel. Sister Rachel and Sister Felicite, who were both between thirty and forty years of age, were moved in spirit to present the lively image of our Saviour's passion; and they were actually nailed through the hands and feet to two wooden crosses, and so continued for upwards of three hours. It was evident that they suffered the severest agony, especially when the nails were driven in, and when they were taken out; this occasioned muscular shrinkings and writhings, which it was impossible to suppress; but with Indian fortitude they withheld every indication of suffering over which the mind had power. And to keep up the delusion of their ́admirers, and aid the deceit of their spiritual directors, who were affirming that they felt the most exquisite delight, they affected sometimes to slumber as if in a beatific trance; and sometimes addressed the spectators in the fondling and babyish language of the nursery. When they were taken down, the wounds, which bled freely, were washed and bandaged, after which they sate down quietly to eat in the midst of the assembly. There was no frand in all this, nor were the women themselves guilty of any other deception than that of encouraging the belief that they had endured unutterable pleasure while they were suspended. They were pitiable fanatics, acting under the direction of consummate knaves. And if any delusion could be suspected in this case, the circum1, VÓL. XXVIII. NO. LV.
stances at the second exhibition were such as to put its reality beyond all doubt. In this also, two women, Sisters Françoise and Marie, were crucified. M. de Condamine examined the nails when they were driven in, and when they were taken out; they were rough square nails, more than three inches long, and entered about a half inch into the wood of the cross. Marie could not conceal the agony she felt when they were driven in, and in less than an hour, cried out that she must be taken down, for she could bear it no longer being accordingly unfastened, she was carried away senseless, to the great confusion of her associates. Sister Françoise was of a stronger fibre, and remained on the cross upwards of three hours, during which time its position was frequently altered. This woman had announced that she had received a divine command to have the gown burnt off her back that day, and had been assured of receiving much comfort from the operation. The directors, unless they were as mad as herself, must have supposed that she was properly prepared for such an ordeal; and accordingly she was set on fire; but on her part all had been pure insanity, unalloyed with fraud, and this was a trial against which no illusion of mind could strengthen her; she shrieked for help-water was poured upon her, and she was carried away half scorched, half drowned, thoroughly ashamed, and sufficiently punished.
A few individuals, who had not wholly abandoned themselves to fanaticism, or the not less deleterious influence of party-spirit, might be awakened in time by such decided proofs of delusion as these. But neither absurdities, nor horrors, nor the hateful obscenities which soon mingled themselves with these flagitious exhibitions, could undeceive the thorough-paced believers. That in an æra of learning and penetration,' says Mr. Butler, in a large capital, abounding with men of learning and discernment, under the eye of an enlightened and active society, ardently anxious to detect it, and in the face of a most despotic and vigilant police, bent on the destruction of the party for whose benefit the scene was exhibited, such an imposition could so long have been practised, is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of the human mind. It shows that when the imagination of the multitude is inflamed, their general testimony is entitled to no credit; and that in such circumstances, the testimony even of respectable individuals should be received with distrust.' Such are the reflections of one of the most judicious and candid of the English Catholics upon these transactions-a writer whose genuine liberality is not less to be admired than his full knowledge of every subject on which he touches, and whose benignant feelings always command our respect, even when we differ from him most widely in opinion. But the truth appears to be that all was not imposition, and that the
strong agency of enthusiasm had called forth powers both of mind and body, the existence of which had not, at that time, been suspected by psychologists, and of which, now their existence is known, the nature and extent are alike mysterious. Mr. Butler himself probably believes the Port-Royal miracle of La Sainte Epine. Miss Schimmelpennick, who, as a protestant, would admit no supernatural virtue in relics, and might reasonably call in question the authenticity of this particular one, nevertheless believes the fact, as having been so numerously attested by eyewitnesses of the most unsuspected piety, and most distinguished intelligence, that no person who admits the possibility of miraculous interpositions, can doubt it.' Among the well-attested cures which were wrought by faith in the Deacon Paris, there were none, perhaps, which so clearly implied a physical impossibility, and therefore a direct miracle as this. But there were many so unlike the established course of nature, that they were deemed miraculous by those who did not believe in the Deacon, as well as by those who did. Rollin, the Chevalier Folard, and other persons of equal probity, and not less distinguished in their day, were confident believers. Some of the French bishops believed; others held that these things were miracles indeed, but of the devil's working; and this explication M. Gregoire appears to adopt, relying upon the authority of his favourite father, St. Augustine, that miracles may be wrought out of the unity of the church, though he who works them is not the nearer to salvation. A middle course was taken by those who thought the convulsions might properly be expected, but disapproved of the succours, and the rest of the mummery, which had been superinduced. They termed it, in that case, a mixed work, in which there was le diable dominant, and le diable dominé. These persons were called the discernants, and the melangistes,—for sect upon sect arose according to the different degrees and shades of credulity. D'Alembert and D'Argenson advised, as the surest way of bringing these scandalous practices into disrepute, that they should be burlesqued in puppet-shows. The ministers treated a serious evil more seriously, though, perhaps, not more wisely. They banished some of the most conspicuous believers, and imprisoned others. But no severity sufficed: the belief still prevailed, the practices were continued; the disputes concerning them were vehemently carried on till the commencement of the Revolution, and the Revolution, which overturned every thing, did not destroy the sect of the Convulsionnaires.
Like the Victims, they derived a certain degree of credit from the events of the Revolution, which they were believed to have foretold. One of the crazy sisterhood had predicted a time when the sceptre would be broken, and the crown be made the sport of a
raging multitude. She had said that Louis XVI. would be de-. throned, and that perhaps his life would be attempted: she had pronounced an anathema against kings and their subjects, pastors and their flocks, and, taking a torch, she feigned to set fire to the four quarters of Paris, betokening what must happen. Negroes and savages, she prophesied, were about to enter France, and destroy every thing, and she foretold new schools for error, a new catechism, new doctrines, and the persecution of those who should oppose the teachers of falsehood. It is no wonder that these ravings of madness were appealed to as genuine prophecy, when, during the reign of madness, so much was actually perpetrated of what had been thus loosely denounced. But whether the ravings themselves were the mere products of a distempered brain, or, like the prophecies of Merlin in old times, devised for preparing and bringing about the events at which they pointed, is a question which may reasonably be asked. It is an artifice which has been used in all ages and in all countries. Our own history abounds with examples of it, and there is full proof that it was widely practised at the commencement of those measures in France, which drew on the Revolution. A society was established for the purpose of diffusing revolutionary predictions and revolutionary principles throughout Europe, by means of religious enthusiasm. Its headquarters were at Avignon, and it had its agents every where.
This is a curious subject which has never been thoroughly investigated; and perhaps it is no longer possible to trace it to its source, and ascertain who were the prime movers of the scheme, and whence the means of supporting it were derived. Barruel, who clearly understood the object of the society, but seems to have been unacquainted with its proceedings, supposes that it was chiefly composed of Swedenborgians, and disciples of St. Martin. The Swedenborgians are innocent of any such machinations; they are an inoffensive sect, holding a nonsensical belief. St. Martin has lately been called in an English journal, a very eminent philosopher.' He was originally bred to the law, but afterwards entered the army falling, however, into opinions not consistent with the military profession, he resigned his commission, travelled in Italy and England; and, then fixing his abode in Paris, had the good fortune to go through the revolution without being sullied by its crimes. M. Gregoire says it is absurd to think that he ever wished, to overthrow the government, but that, according to those who knew him, he was an inoffensive, amiable man, who set an example, en bon Théosophe, of submission to the laws, of resignation, and of beneficence.
Qu'est-ce qu'un Theosophe? A friend of St. Martin asserts that a Theosophe is a true Christian, and that to become so it is not ne