« AnteriorContinuar »
There are sections of dangerous ground which cannot here be opened. The French Commissioners, in their secret report, stated that magnetism“ ought to be prohibited,” on the ground of its immoral tendencies ; and a recent writer on Mesmerism has deemed it his duty to devote a chapter of his book to the inculcation of purity of conduct on the part of professors. There is reason to believe that, on the continent, scenes have been enacted, under the guise of science and philanthropy, full of the
“ Horrible and awfu', Which e'en to name wad be unlawfu'."
In the Rationale of Magnetism “ the expediency of having direction-posts for clairvoyants, as well as for other travellers,” is insisted upon ; otherwise, it is remarked, “ circuitous routes will often be taken, and sometimes the way may be missed altogether.” It is not likely that such polyglot-posts will be put up until the world is more enlightened; and the clairvoyant whose powers are mature can never need them.
the back, the head, etc. “ If there be any foreign influence in the system, it will be all drawn together, and fitting about with a throbbing sensation, from one locality to another. And if good judgment be exercised in pouring water upon any point in direct magnetic sympathy with that part the influence may for the moment occupy, it will be speedily expelled—unless the abnormality has been induced by complex causes." This method has been successful, it is stated even in cases of madness occasioned by “crossinfluence."
The process very much resembles that followed by the regular physician in the early and furious stage of mania ; but the eye of the man of mere routine is not keen enough to detect the virus of madness which flits about from spot to spot to avoid the cold affusion.
La Roy Sunderland says “if your subject should become convulsed do not be alarmed; keep calm and indulge no unkind or impure feeling-if left entirely to himself the influence will in time disappear."
PATTERNS OF PATIENCE.
“ I had thought to have strucken him with a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me, his clothes made a false report." Coriolanus.
“ Madame B
is 25 years of age and of an extremely sensitive character; she has an intense dread of the least pain. I had several times produced somnambulism in her, and ascertained her insensibility in this state. I pricked her several times with a pin ; I held one of her fingers for some seconds in the flame of a candle; she gave not the least sign of pain. During these trials she answered my questions with her usual ease.'
“ She sat like Patience on a monument."
* Madame Plantain, aged 64, consulted M. Clocquet about a cancer in her breast, which she had had for several years. M. Chapelain, the lady's physician, proposed to M. Clocquet to operate during magnetic sleep; the latter, who considered the operation indispensable, consented, and fixed the day for performing it. The operation lasted twelve minutes ; during this time the patient continued to converse tranquilly, and gave not the least sign of sensibility. When awoke, she did not appear to have any idea or feeling of what had passed; but on ascertaining that she had been operated upon, and seeing her children around her, she evinced considerable emotion, which the magnetiser checked by immediately putting her to sleep." Clocquet.
Reports of cases resembling the foregoing are to be found in all books on Mesmerism, and in the newspapers of the day ; these two
will suffice to illustrate the soothing power which the magnetist has at command;
“ Is not this something more than fantasy ?
What think you of it?"
In attempting to answer questions of this kind, the sceptic usually refers to the ordinary effects of physical stimulants, telling us that they excite the vascular and nervous systems, and then induce insensibility or collapse; the subject of them, like Tam o'Shanter, sees
unco' sights,” and rises “ o'er a' the ills o' life victorious ;” or, he is utterly prostrated, so that one is obliged to ask whether he is " dead or drunk".
—as was the case with Christopher Sly—in which state the loss of a set of teeth would not excite a murmur. He then expatiates on the passions of the mind, and the power they possess of producing similar results; he says the lever of the dentist often res away the tooth-ache-that Irving performed various cures on
—that the French Commissioners reported that they found, after a full investigation, that man could act upon man at all times, and almost at will, by striking his imagination ; and that this action upon the mind was reducible to an art—that an excited ima gination often induces insanity, and sometimes death. Then is proposed a series of inferential questions, somewhat resembling those that follow ;-does not the mesmerist always look out for the extremely sensitive, and admit that women succumb to his power more regularly than men? does he not sometimes excite the brain until delirium ensues ? are not epileptic patients known to be more susceptible than any others ? has not the mysterious an almost magical power of charming the crowd ? do not men of strong mind and firm health, keeping their eyes in the plane of easy vision, and not fixed on one spot, set the pass at defiance with invariable success ? did not Dr. Elliotson prevent men of science from sounding the depths of Mesmerism, by proposing conditions of inquiry to which the Fellows of the Royal Society refused to assent ? you blazon your lucky strokes-what do you do with your non liquets. To all such queries, and to others broadly suggestive of suspicions of venality, professional and plebeian, the mesmerist contents himself by
replying—“out of all your sleights,” and take the evidence of your senses ! Did Herr Dobler or Katterfelto ever try the combustibility of a live finger ?
“ There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
THE INVISIBLE HAND.
“ Hold it in !
"M. Husson came to apprise me that M. Recamier desired to see me put Catharine to sleep through the partition. I at once expressed my wish that so respectable an evidence should be admitted. I passed into the closet, in which I was shut up. The woman was then brought forward, and placed at a distance of more than six feet from the closet. They tell her that I am not to come. I set myself to work. In three minutes she is asleep. Three minutes after, M. Recamier touches her, raises her eyelids, shakes her by the hands, questions her, pinches her, strikes the furniture to make as much noise as possible; he pinches her again, and with all his force, five times; again he begins to torment her; he raises her up three different times, and lets her fall back again; the patient continues insensible to so much violence, which I could not witness without pain, knowing that the painful sensations which were not evinced at this moment, would be reproduced on awaking, and would occasion convulsions. During her probation, I put several questions to her, to which she returned answers; M. Recamier interposed his
own, on which she was invariably mute. I return to the closet, and the signal for awaking her having been given, she awoke in two minutes.” Dupotet.
“Every man's house is his castle;” but the moat and the portcullis oppose no obstacles to the ingress of Science, and Science may, now and then, give the privilege of entrée to Ferocity—the nec sinit esse feros is not invariably true. This is one of the terrific attributes of Mesmerism.
The indications of this case do not quadrate with the Rev. La Roy Sunderland's theory of Pathetism, so called " because the term gives an idea of the susceptibility to change, induced by contact or mental apprehension, or sympathy with the process adopted to bring it about.” This writer says, “ take any subject who is highly susceptible, and cause him to apprehend you are willing him to go to sleep, and during the sitting, you will him not to go to sleep, and you will find that he will fall into the somnipathetic state, in despite of your will.” This doctrine contravenes those taught by the majority of mesmerists concerning the power of volition, and the force of gesture; and also those promulgated by another section of professors relating to the fluidity of the agent. In express terms, the reverend gentleman declares that the agent in mesmerism “is not a fluid;" and this, he asserts, “any one may demonstrate in five minutes.” What then becomes of the magnetic fluid of Mesmer? the nervous fluid of Buchanan? the galvanic fluid of Lafontaine ? the blue fluid of Dann? Mr. La Roy Sunderland ascribes all the effects produced by mesmerism to “nervous induction or sympathy;"' and considers it as “amazing that scientific gentlemen should be so often deceived with regard to this agency-it was ignorance of this law," he says,“ that led Mesmer into so many egregious blunders, and caused the commissioners of the French Academy to decide in such strong terms against this subject.'”
Thus does this reverend magnetist seek to stultify and defame all his scientific predecessors, and give plausibility to the objections of those opponents who attribute the results of mesmerism to nervous irritation, and mental excitement.
Dr. Sigmond says the somnific “art seems to me to consist in