Suddenly, however, he protruded a spare skinny hand from the cloak in which it had hitherto been enveloped, and pointed with a short staff, tipped with metal, in the direction of my face, as it he were commencing an exorcism.
Then followed the exorcism proper: "By the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, which God hath given to make known unto His servants those things which are shortly to be ... I exorcise you, ye angels of untold perversity.... May all the devils that are thy foes rush forth upon thee and drag thee down to hell!... May the Holy One trample on thee and hang thee up in an infernal fork, as was done to the five kings of the Amorites!... May God set a nail to your skull, and pound it with a hammer as Jael did to Sisera!... May Sother break thy head and cut off thy hands, as was done to the cursed Dagon!... May God hang thee in a hellish yoke, as seven men were hanged by the sons of Saul!"
Standing with candle raised above her head, her eyes piercing the space before her, she recalled every word of the exorcism which had caught the drippings from the fountains of Chaldean, Phoenician, and Egyptian mystery.
'She was too poor to pay for the necessary forms of exorcism; and hitherto those priests to whom she had addressed herself were either so ignorant of the meaning of her broken French, or her Irish-English, or else esteemed her to be one crazed as, indeed, her wild and excited manner might easily have led any one to think that they had neglected the sole means of loosening her tongue, so that she might confess her deadly sin, and after due penance, obtain absolution.
Harsnett's books were the outcome of this affair and the ensuing exposures of the Catholics, and they were more significant than anything that had gone before. The Church of England had not committed itself very definitely on witchcraft, but its spokesman in the attack upon the Catholic pretenders took no uncertain ground. He was skeptical not only about exorcism but about witchcraft as well.
As Tiffles was applying this species of exorcism in vain, Marcus came to his assistance. "What on earth can it be?" exclaimed Tiffles. "Not a new kind of steam engine; or an electrical apparatus; or a clock; or a sewing machine; or anything for spinning, carding, or weaving nothing that is adapted to any useful labor.
When a man is by sickness or otherwise deprived of his reason, or when subject to convulsion fits, they imagine him possessed by an evil spirit, and their ceremony of exorcism is performed by putting the unfortunate wretch into a hut, which they set fire to about his ears, suffering him to make his escape through the flames in the best manner he can.
But he was a man who hated Puritanism with all his heart, and would at once have suspected Puritan exorcism.
Almost all the miracles Jesus believed he performed seem to have been miracles of healing. The kind of healing which he most often practised was exorcism, or the expulsion of demons. There can be no doubt that he had in his lifetime the reputation of possessing the greatest secrets of the art.
I fear that such was the secret motive of my prying. I was, and no mistake, looking for a miracle. The only thing that at this distance of time strikes me as miraculous is the extent of my imbecility. I positively hoped to obtain from that battered and shady invalid some exorcism against the ghost of doubt.