The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 19, 2009

Aug. 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal died on August 19, 1662. The author of Pensees, was a devout mathematician. This story about his infanthood, was published in a magazine, The Living Age, in 1884.

When Blaise Pascal was a year old, a woman reputed among the peasantry of Auvergne to be a sorceress, and whom his father refused to aid in a lawsuit, was supposed to have bewitched the infant, who forthwith began to pine visibly away. M. Pascal, who for some time paid no attention to the gossip, at last grew alarmed, and threatening the woman with the direst pains and penalties, brought her to confess that she had indeed bewitched the child, and that his sickness was unto death. The only remedy was that the charm should be laid on some one else, a life for a life, but as the exchange with a human being was not to be thought of, she consented to take a cat. Undeterred by the remonstrances of two monks who came to console Madame Pascal, the family gave her the cat, and with a plaster made from herbs plucked before sunrise by a girl under seven years old, and no doubt bruised down with the cat's blood, the sick infant recovered, predisposed to accept the miracle of the holy thorn, and other occurrences of the like nature. But M. Pascal, who afterwards repented that be had in his eager desire to save his child allowed this new appeal to the powers of evil, must have seen that the witch's ability was stronger to hurt than to save, since the child's feeble health remained feeble to the end.

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