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The Witch Mania

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435 pages2 hours

Summary

Excerpt from Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions. The essay begins: "The belief that disembodied spirits may be permitted to revisitthis world, has its foundation upon that sublime hope of immortality,which is at once the chief solace and greatest triumph of our reason.Even if revelation did not teach us, we feel that we have that withinus which shall never die; and all our experience of this life butmakes us cling the more fondly to that one repaying hope. Butin the early days of "little knowledge," this grand belief became thesource of a whole train of superstitions, which, in their turn, becamethe fount from whence flowed a deluge of blood and horror. Europe, fora period of two centuries and a half, brooded upon the idea, not onlythat parted spirits walked the earth to meddle in the affairs of men,but that men had power to summon evil spirits to their aid to work woeupon their fellows. An epidemic terror seized upon the nations; no manthought himself secure, either in his person or possessions, from themachinations of the devil and his agents. Every calamity that befellhim, he attributed to a witch."

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