Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay

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Ed. Wordsworth Editions, 1995. Size 20 x 13 cm. State: Used, excellent. 724 pages

By Charles Mackay
London, april 23rd, 1841

The object of the Author in the following pages has been to collect the Most remarkable instances of those moral epidemics which have been excited, sometimes by one cause and some times by another, and to show how easily the masses have been led astray, and how imitative and gregarious men are, even in their infatuations and crimes.

Some of the subjects introduced may be familiar to the reader; but the Author hopes that sufficient novelty of detail will be found even in these, to render them acceptable, while they could not be wholly omitted in justice to the subject of which it was proposed to treat. The memoirs of the South Sea madness and the Mississippi delusion are more complete and copious than are to be found elsewhere; and the same may be said of the history of the Witch Mania, wich contains an account of its terrific progress in Germany, a part of the subject which has been left comparatively untouched by Sir Walter Scott, in his “Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft”, the most important that have yet appeared on this fearful but most interesting subject.

Popular delusions began so early, spread so widely, and have lasted so long, that instead of two or three volumes, fifty would scarcely suffice to detail their history. The present may be considered more of a miscellany of delusions than a history, -a chapter only in the great and awful book of human folly which yet remains to be written, and which Porson once jestingly said he would write in five hundred volumes! Interspersed are sketches of some lighter matters, -amusing instances of the imitativeness and wrongheadedness of the people, rather than examples of folly and delusion.

Religious manias have been purposely excluded as incompatible with the limits prescribed to the present work; -a mere list of the would alone be sufficient to occupy a volume.

CONTENTS
I- THE MISSISSIPPI SCHEME
John Law; his birth and youthful career – Duel between Law and Wilson – Law’s escape from the King’s Bench – The “Land-bank” – Law’s gambling propensities on the continent, and acquaintance with the Duke of Orleans – State of France after the reign of Louis XIV – Paper money instituted in that country by Law – Enthusiasm of the French People at the Mississipi Scheme – Marshal Villars – Stratagems employed and bribes given for an interview with Law – Great fluctuations in Mississippi stock – Dreadful murders -Law created comptroller-general of finances – Great sale for all kinds of ornaments in Paris – Financial difficulties commence -Men sent out to walk the mines on the Mississippi, as a blind – Payment stopped at the bank – Law dismissed from the ministry – Payments made in specie – Law and the Regent satirised in song – Dreadful crisis of the Mississippi Scheme – Law, almost a ruined man, flies to Venice – Death of the Regent – Law obliged to resort again to gambling – his death at Venice.

II- THE SOUTH-SEA BUBBLE
Originated by Harley Earl of Oxford – Exchange Alley a scene of great excitement – Mr. Walpole – Sir John Blunt -Great demand for shares – Innumerable “Bubbles” – List of nefarious projects and bubbles – Great rice in South-Sea stock- Sudden fall – General meeting of the directors – Fearful climax of the South-Sea expedition – Its effects on society – Uproar in the House of Commons – Escape of Knight – Apprehension of Sir John Blunt – Recapture of Knight at Tirlemont – His second escape – Persons connected with the scheme examined – Their respective punishmets – Concluding remarks.

III- THE TULIPOMANIA
Conrad Gesner – Tulips brought from Vienna to England – Rage for the tulip among the Dutch – Its great value -Curious anecdote of a sailor and a tulip – Regular marts for tulips – Tulips employed as a means of speculation -Great depreciation in their value – End of the mania.

IV- THE ALCHYMISTS
Introductory remarks – Pretended antiquity of the art – Geber – Alfarabi – Avicenna – Albertus Magnus – Thomas Aquinas – Artephius – Alain de Lisle – Arnold de Villeneuve – Pietro d’Apone – Raymond Lulli – Roger Bacon – Pope John XXII – Jean de Meung – Nicholas Flamel – Gerge Ripley – Basil Valentine – Bernard of Tréves – Trithemius – The Maréchal de Rays – Jacques Coeur – Inferior adepts – Progress of the infatuation during the sisteenth and seventeenth centuries – Augurello – Cornelius Agrippa – Paracelsus – George Agricola – Denys Zachaire – Dr. Dee and Edward Kelly – The Cosmopolite – Sendivogius – The Rosicrucians – Michael Mayer – Robert Fludd -Jacob Böhmen – John Heydon – Joseph Francis Borri – Alchymical writers of the seventeenth century – Delisle – Albert Aluys – Count de St. Germain – Cagliostro – Present state of the science.

V- MODERN PROPHECIES
Terror of the approaching day of judgment – A comet the signal of that day – The prophecy of Whiston – The people of Leeds greatly alarmed at that event – The plague in Milan – Fortune-tellers and Astrologers – Prophecy concerning the overflow of the Thames – Mother Shipton – Merlin – Heywood – Peter of Pontefract – Robert Nixon – Almanac-papers.

VI- FORTUNE-TELLING
Presumption and weakness of man – Union of Fortune-tellers and Alchymists – Judicial astrology encouraged in England from tbe time of Elizabeth to William and Mary – Lilly the astrologer consulted by the House of Commons as to the cause of the Fire of London – Encouragement of the art in France and Germany – Nostradamus – Basil of Florence – Antiochus Tibertus – Keppler – Necromancy – Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Arnold Villeneuve – Geomancy – Augury – Divination: list of various species of divination – Oneiro-criticism (interpretation of dreams) – Omens.

VII- THE MAGNETISERS
The influence of imagination in curing disease – Mineral magnetisers – Paracelsus – Kircher the Jesuit – Sebastian Wirdig – William Maxwell – The Convulsionaries of St. Medard – Father Hell – Mesmer, the founder of Animal Magnetism – D’Eslon, his disciple – M. de Puysegur – Dr. Mainauduc’s success in London – Holloway, Loutherbourg, Mary Pratt, &c. – Perkins’s “Metallic Tractors” – Decline of the science.

VIII- INFLUENCE OF POLITICS AND RELIGION ON THE HAIR AND BEARD
Early Modes of wearing the hair and beard – Excommunication and outlawry decreed against curls – Louis VII’s submission thereto the cause of the long wars between England and France – Charles V of Spain and his courtiers – Peter the Great – His tax upon beards – Revival of beards and moustaches after the French Revolution of 1830 – The King of Bavaria (1838) orders all civilians wearing moustaches to be arrested and shaved – Examples from Bayeux tapestry.

IX- THE CRUSADES
Different accounts of the Crusaders derived from History and Romance – Pilgrimages to the Holy Land first undertaken by converted Jews and the very credulous – Increasing number of pilgrims every year – Relics greatly valued – Haroun al Reschid – The pilgrims taxed – Robert of Normandy – The pilgrims persecuted by the Turks – Peter the Hermit – His first idea of rousing thb powers of Christendom – His interview with Simeon – Peter the Hermit breaches the Holy War to all the nations of Christendom – The Pope crosses the Alps – King Philip accused
of adultery with Bertrade de Montfort – The Council of Clermont – Oration of Urban II -The “Truce of God” – Gautier sans Avoir, or Walter the Pennyless – Gottschalk – The arrival at Semlin – Peter the Hermit at Nissa – At Constantinople – The Crusaders conducted in safety to Constantinople – Fresh hordes from Germany – Godfrey of Bouillon – Count of Vermandois – Tancred – The siege of Antioch – The Holy Lance – Fate of Peter
Barthelemy – Siege of Jerusalem – St. Bernard – Second Crusade: Siege of Damascus – Third Crusade: Death of Henry II – Richard Coeur de Lion – Fourth Crusade – Fifth Crusade: Constantinople assaulte – Sixth Crusade: Camhel and Cohreddin – Seventh Crusade: Departure of Louis IX for Cyprus – For Acre – His death at Carthage – End of the Crusades.

X- THE WITCH MANIA
Popular notions of the devil – Inferior demons – Demons of both sexes – Demons preferring the night between Friday and Saturday – The devil in the shape of a goat – Sorcery – Execution of Joan of Arc – Witches burned in Europe -Various charges of Witchcraft – Trois Echelles – The Witches of Warbois – John Knox – Torture of Dr. Fian – The Lancashire Witches – Matthew Hopkins – Burnings at Würzburg, at Lindheim, at Labourt – Request of the parliament of Rouen to the King, in 1670 – Würzburg: the scene of the last case of Witchcraft – The Witchcraft of Lady Hatton – Witchcraft at Hastings and many other parts of England.

XI- THE SLOW POISONERS
Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury – Trial of Weston – Of Sir Jervis Elwes – Poisoning most prevalent in Italy – Poisons manufactured by La Tophania – Her death – Madame de Brinvilliers – The poisoning of her father and two brothers – Lavoisin and Lavigoreux.

XII- HAUNTED HOUSES
The haunted house in Aix-la-Chapelle – In Tours – The royal palace of Woodstock a haunted house – The supposed ghosts at Tedworth – At Cock Lane – At Stockwell – Haunted house at Baldaroch.

XIII- POPULAR FOLLIES OF GREAT CITIES
Cant phrases – “Quoz” – “What a shocking bad hat” – “Hookey Walker” – “There he goes with his eye out” – “Has your mother sold her mangle?” – “Does your mather know you’re out?” – “Tom and Jerry” – “Jim Crow”.

XIV- POPULAR ADMIRATION OF GREAT THIEVES
Robin Hood – Claude Duval – Dick Turpin – Jonathan Wild – Jack Sheppard – Vidocq – Mausch Nadel – The Beggar’s Opera – Rob Roy.

XV- DUELS AND ORDEALS
The origin of the Duello – All persons engaged in duelling excommunicated by the Council of Trent – The fire ordeal – The water ordeal – The Corsned – Duel between Ingelgerius and Gontran – Duel between Francois de Vivonne and Guy de Chabot – L’Isle-Marivaut and Marolles – Richelieu – Duel between the Dukes De Beaufort and De Nemours- Laws against duelling – Duel between Lord Sanquir and Turner – Between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun–German students inveterate duellists.

XVI- RELICS
The True Cross of our Saviour – The Santa Scala, or Holy Stairs – The mad Knight of Malta – Shakespeare’s Mulberry-tree.