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It exhorts the parishioners to turn towards God with all their heart, stirs them up to a detestation of their sins, and to sincere contrition, accompanied with the resolution to live henceforward in justice and charity, to pay their tithes, and three days consecutively to march in procession round the damaged vineyards, before and after each of which high mass is to be celebrated, and certain prayers are to be sung. Two individuals at least out of each family are required to take part in these pious exercises. The processions duly came off, and the parish priest made his report to the judge. And now counsel for the defendant takes up the running, and in his protest argues that the other party are out of court. Peter Rembaud-it is a pity his name should be lost-expresses his astonishment at the proceedings adopted towards his clients—the most innocent creatures in the world. Common sense tells us (he says) that brute beasts like these “verpillons” cannot be regularly summoned before the magistrate ; that they cannot reasonably be condemned for contumacy, and that no excommunication, no censure, has power to affect them. In the Book of Genesis we are told that the beasts of the earth were created before man : “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing." And in another place: “God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply.” The Creator of the world certainly would not have said this, if he had not also intended to give animals the means of living. Now, it is plainly proved by Scripture, that vegetables are the food of beasts as well as of man : “ To every thing that creepeth on the earth, I have given every green herb for meat.” Consequently these poor insects had only used a legal right, when taking up their quarters among the plaintiffs' vines. To invoke the civil and the canon law, the lex divina and the lex gentium against these little beasts, is as inconsistent as it is unreasonable; as if creatures void of reason and governed by instinct could be amenable to any other than the natural law. “ Hence I maintain as clear and indisputable,” continues the defendant's lawyer, “that the forms of excommunication and ecclesiastical censure are out of place here. True, plaintiffs may object that the Creator has put all animals in subjection to man, and may quote the preacher: 'Posuit timorem illius super omnem carnem et bestiarum et volatilium ;' and bring forward the proverb : 'Qui seminat metet,' let him reap that soweth ; and the passage from Isaiah, “ Plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof;' but these texts are foreign to the purpose. The insects upon whom you invoke the thunders of the Church, have only conformed to the natural law.” The defendants' counsel wound
up by praying that the case should be dismissed and the plaintiffs charged with costs. Plaintiffs asked for time to answer—for all these pleas were written-and about a month after their counsel undertook to prove both from Scripture and the canon law, that “insects were created for the use of man.”
Certainly there are some insects who make use of man, but hardly in Maitre Faeti's sense. It would seem that the syndics of St. Julien de Maurienne had not much confidence in the goodness of their cause, for they were the first to propose a sort of compromise. On the last Sunday in June, after high mass, the métral, William Morard, made the usual proclamation, and at noon the great bell was tolled, summoning all the manantz et habitantz of the little town to the parloir or public square, where the syndics explained the necessity of assigning to the “amblevins” a place of “sufficient pasture without the vineyards of St. Julien, such as they can live upon, so that they may no longer eat and lay waste the vineyards aforesaid.” After a little discussion it was unanimously agreed to offer the insects a piece of land in a place known as the Grande Feisse, containing between forty and fifty sesteries, “peuplee et garnye de plusieurs espesse de boes, plantes, et feuillages, comme foulx, allagniers (chataigners ?), cyrisiers, chesnes, planes, arbessiers, et aultres arbres et buissons oultre l'herbe et pasture, qui y est en asses bonn equantité.” The good people of St. Julien reserved, however, the right of thoroughfare for the purpose (among others) of reaching certain "mynes de colleurs," or ochre-pits, in the vicinity. Nor was this the only reserve, and it is a curious evidence to the state of the times : “And seeing that the place is a safe retreat in time of war or other disturbance, because it is well supplied with springs, we reserve the right to withdraw there in time of need, and promise on these conditions to make an agreement en bonne forme et vallable à perpétuyté.'
After various sittings and adjournments, one of which was occasioned by the passage of the forces (transitu armigerorum) of Charles Emmanuel I., Duke of Savoy, who was planning the seizure of the marquisate of Saluzzo, the proceedings were resumed on the 3rd of September, when Fillioli refused, on behalf of his dumb clients, the asylum offered by the plaintiffs, on the ground that it was “sterilis locus et nullius reditus,” and prayed for a nonsuit with costs. The official took time to consider his judgment, and it would appear from a note on the margin of the judgment, pro visitatione iij. florenos, that a commission was sent to inspect the Grande Feisse and report upon it. What they said we cannot tell, neither
can we know the decision to which the judge arrived, for a portion of the sheet containing it has perished. The last notice of this singular case is a minute of the 20th December 1587, recording that this suit cost the syndics of St. Julien nineteen florins, three of which were fees to the vicar-general and official ; and we should say that they had a great deal of law for their money.
At the first blush, one would be inclined to think this curious law-suit nothing more than a ponderous mediæval jest; but it was really a serious business.
Chasseneuz himself tells us that it had long been discussed in the officiality of Autun how Burgundy could be best delivered from a plague of hurebers, probably the Attelabus Bacchus of modern entomologists. He calls them locusts, but comforts their Burgundian victims by assuring them that these creatures were nothing like those seen in India, which are not less than three feet long; their legs are furnished with teeth, which the natives (he tells us) use as
Although Dr. Chasseneuz was not a priest, he declared that the best means of removing such a scourge was scrupulously to pay tithes and all ecclesiastical dues, and to make a woman walk barefoot round the infested fields : accessu mulieris, nudis pedibus et menstrualis, omnia animalia officientia flavescunt. He adds that these creatures were sent as a judgment from God for their disorderly lives, especially for their blasphemy, and then he tells how a blasphemer had such a severe attack of the falling sickness that he tore himself to pieces and rendered up his soul to the Evil One; how a child five years old was torn by demons from the arms of his father who was guilty of the same crime; and how a citizen of Milan for a similar offence met with a tragical end. He had just lost all his fortune at the gaming-table, and thrusting his dagger into the earth, he said : O maledicte Christe, utinam potuissem te ita transfigere in utero matris, sicut transfixi terram! When he pulled out his dagger, it was dripping with blood. He went home, and immediately the roof fell in upon him, and he was carried away by devils. He next quotes Peter Damien's story, how a gentleman having cut up a fowl and well seasoned it (aquú piperatá), boasted to his companions that neither Peter nor Christ could put it together again. At a moment the cock returned to life and covered with feathers. Crowing and clapping his wings, he so covered the blasphemer with the sauce that all his body became leprous. We need not follow Chasseneuz any further.
In reading these entomological episodes we should bear in mind that the ravages of insects were much more considerable and fre
quent than they are now. The charters of the Middle Ages bring before us vast tracts of fallow land (sedimina), others utterly waste (deserta), others uncleared and overrun with thorns and brambles (incultæ), and others devastated by floods, and presenting nothing but a barren surface (gleriæ). Thick forests covered the mountains and spread over the plains. Large districts were quite uninhabited, marshes occupied the lower parts of the valleys, and their pestilential waters gave birth to swarms of noxious creatures, which fell upon the crops and devoured them as locusts devour the harvests of Africa. It may easily be understood how the people prayed for divine mercy at the first appearance of the scourge. By prayer did not the hermit Pruminius deliver the island of St. Mark from a number of devastating insects? When prayer failed, men next ran to the bishop the nearest representative of God upon earth, and as he could not condemn any criminals unheard, the offending vermin were summoned into his court to answer for their offences. These entomological law-suits, which may be traced as far back as the eleventh century, did not fall into disuse until the eighteenth. As late as 1731 we read in the registers of the municipal council of Thouon : "Item, a été délibéré que la ville se joindra aux paroisses de cette province qui voudront obtenir de Rome une excommunication contre les insectes, et que l'on contribuera aux frais pro rata.”
Only a few days back, the Italian correspondent of the “Daily News” suggested that the “bottle-nosed whales," about which Mr. Bright had been so pestered, might be got rid of by the same means as the Italian fishermen employ to get rid of sword-fish and other piscatorial nuisances. A priest is taken out to sea, when he formally curses those enemies to the fishing trade. Unfortunately we are not told whether the curse is successful.
The proceedings against animals may have had their origin in the belief of a power enjoyed by evil spirits of employing the brute creation as an instrument of persecution against man. Diabolical possession was an indisputable fact to the people of the Middle Ages; and St. Mammet, Bishop of Vienne, excommunicated certain wolves and pigs who devoured young children even in the streets of the city, on the ground that the devil and his imps had entered into them, as the unclean spirits had entered into the swine “in the country of the Gadarenes.” Hence, in a clerical point of view, we may understand the rationale of the following excommunications: When St. Bernard was on a pastoral visit to Frogny, in the diocese of Laon, an immense swarm of flies filled the church in which he was about to preach, and by their loud buzzing nearly frightened
away the congregation. Ascending the pulpit, the venerable man calmly said, “I excommunicate them,” and the flies at once fell dead in such quantities that they covered the floor, and had to be removed with shovels. “ This miracle," continues the disciple and biographer of St. Bernard, “ so spread abroad that the curse of the flies at Frogny (muscarum Fuscinacensium maledictio) became a proverb.” A story of a similar nature is told by St. Ambrose (De Virginibus, lib. 3), of a priest, who, being disturbed every day during mass by the croaking of some frogs in a neighbouring marsh, ordered them to be silent, and immediately they became dumb. What amount of truth-if any—there may be in these two stories, we do not profess to estimate. They spread from mouth to mouth, each time gaining something by the transmission, until, at last, the facts were so per
by the superstitious credulity of the age that some simple natural phenomenon assumed the dimensions of a miracle. Nor do these two curious stories stand alone. Thus we are told that when St. Hugh, Bishop of Grenoble in the eleventh century, was at Aix les Bains in Savoy, he excommunicated the serpents by which that little town was infested, and that ever afterwards their bite ceased to be venomous. The legend of St. Patrick, which is of a still earlier date, is too well known to need repetition here.
ASTRONOMICAL NOTES FOR APRIL.
BY W. T. LYNN, B.A., F.R.A.S.
of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Positions or THE PLANETS.—Mars is this month the only large planet which is visible in the first half of the night, excepting Saturn, which, however, does not rise, even at the end of the month, until nearly half-past ten.
Mars still continues to be visible until considerably past midnight, being on the meridian at eight o'clock in the evening of the cleventh day. He is in the constellation Leo, and will be in conjunction with the Moon on the night of the 20th.
Neither of the inferior planets will be well placed for observation, Mercury being in superior conjunction with the Sun on the 29th of this month, and Venus on the 9th of next.
The Moon.—New Moon occurring on the morning (at lh. 48m.) of the twelfth day, observations of the objects on the lunar surface may commence on the evening of the 15th. On that of the 16th,