This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In our days when prayers are offered up in the churches for dry weather or for rain, it is not usual to stop to consider whether any one may possibly have good reason for objecting to the proposed change. They did these things more justly in the old times. Under the supposition that there might possibly be some good as well as injury, what was called an insect advocate was provided, and it had a due trial before it was condemned. Professor Hagen has gone over the history of some of these curious cases. We extract the following from his interesting paper:
In the year of the Lord 1479, appeared in the canton of Berne, Switzerland, an enormous number of grubs, and it was feared that the whole crop would be destroyed. Therefore, the Council of the Commonwealth sent a deputation to the Archbishop of Lausanne with the petition to banish the obnoxious creatures from the canton. Of course it is not stated that the neighboring cantons had agreed to receive the grubs, but the archbishop seems not to have considered the incongruity of said petition. He gave an affirmative answer and authorized the priest at Berne to impose the banishment of the grubs, providing for strict observance of the customs and laws. After a prayer an advocate for the people was chosen. He notified the court of his appointment, and proposed the citation of the grubs. On a certain day some of the grubs were brought before the court and their advocate chosen. The priest, followed by a large crowd of pious people in a solemn procession, went to the cemetery, to the fields, to the vineyards and to the banks of the river to serve the summons on the defendant.
He delivered the following, at that time, probably courteous address as warning and as citation to the felons:
"Ye hideous and degraded creatures, ye grubs! There was nothing like ye in the ark of Noah. By orders of my august superior, the Archbishop of Lausanne, and in obedience to the holy church, I command ye all and every one to disappear during the next six days, from every place where food grows for man or beast. If not obedient, I enjoin ye to appear on the sixth day, at one o'clock, afternoon, at Willis-burg, before the Archbishop of Lausanne."
As some righteous people objected because the citation was not exactly made in the manner provided by law, the case was postponed, and after a lawful citation, another day was named. Then the process began. The advocate chosen for the defendant was Jean Perrodet, a well-known dogmatical and obstinate disputant. Perhaps it will appear somewhat doubtful if the nomination of this advocate fulfilled exactly the demands of the law and custom of the time, as it is stated that Mr. Perrodet had died only a short time before his nomination. Nevertheless, the case and the complaint were read, and as no defender appeared, the judgment was given for the plaintiff. "We, Benedictus of Monferrand, Archbishop of Lausanne, condemn and excommunicate ye obnoxious worms and grubs, that nothing shall be left of ye, except such parts as can be useful to man." The Government ordered its officers to report the consequences of the excommunication. But the saucy chronicler says "that no success had been obtained - probably on account of the sins of the people."