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The Witch Mania - cover

The Witch Mania

Charles Mackay

Publisher: Seltzer Books

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Summary

Excerpt from Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions. The essay begins: "The belief that disembodied spirits may be permitted to revisit  this 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 within  us which shall never die; and all our experience of this life but  makes us cling the more fondly to that one repaying hope. But  in the early days of "little knowledge," this grand belief became the  source of a whole train of superstitions, which, in their turn, became  the fount from whence flowed a deluge of blood and horror. Europe, for  a period of two centuries and a half, brooded upon the idea, not only  that 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 woe  upon their fellows. An epidemic terror seized upon the nations; no man  thought himself secure, either in his person or possessions, from the  machinations of the devil and his agents. Every calamity that befell  him, he attributed to a witch."

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