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a member, and which condemned mesmerism as an imposture—was so struck with what he saw, that he strongly recommended the subject to the attention and study of physicians. His objections were against the theory alone. He laid it down in the separate report which he gave in, that no physical cause had been proved to be in operation beyond animal heat ! curiously overlooking the fact that common heat would not produce the effects observed ; and, therefore, that the latter must have been owing to that something which animal heat, or the radiating warmth of a living body, contains, in addition to common heat. That something we now know, but only since 1845, to be the Od force.
The Od force is so new, so young in science, that Mesmer's reputation has not yet been credited with the honour thence reflected upon it. I will not say that Mesmer's astral force was a distinct anticipation of Von Reichenbach's discovery, which was noways suggested by the former, and was from first to last an effort of inductive observation. But the guess of the mystic had certainly a most happy parallelism to the truth, which a different sort of mind tracked in the same field; for the Od force reaches us even from the stars, and the sun and the fixed stars are Od-negative; and the planets and the moon Od-positive. It is unnecessary to follow Mesmer through his minor performances. The relief sometimes obtained by stroking diseased parts with the hand — that is, the effects obtained through the local action of Od—had been before proclaimed by Dr Greatrex, whose pretensions had had no less an advocate than the Honourable Robert Boyle. The extraordinary tales of Mesmer's personal power over individuals are probably part exaggeration, part real results of his confi
dence and skill in the use of the means he wielded. · Mesmer died in 1815.
Among his pupils, when at the zenith of his fame, was the Marquis de Puységur. Returning from serving at the siege of Gibraltar, this young officer found mesmerism the mode at Paris, and appears to have become, for no other reason, one of the initiated. At the end of a course of instruction, he professed himself to be no wiser than when it began; and he ridiculed the credulity of his brothers, who were stanch adherents of the new doctrine. However, he did not forget his lesson; and on going the same spring to his estate at Besancy, near Soissons, he took occasion to mesmerise the daughter of his agent and another young person, for the toothache, and they declared themselves, in a few minutes, cured. This questionable success was sufficient to lead M. de Puységur, a few days after, to try his hand on a young peasant of the name of Victor, who was suffering with a severe fluxion on his chest. What was M. de Puységur's surprise, when, at the end of a few minutes, Victor went off into a kind of tranquil sleep, without crisis or convulsion, and in that sleep began to gesticulate and talk, and enter into his private affairs. Then he became sad; and M. de Puységur tried mentally to inspire him with cheerful thoughts: he hummed a lively tune to himself inaudibly, and immediately Victor began to sing the air. Victor remained asleep for an hour, and awoke composed, with his symptoms mitigated.
The case of Victor revolutionised the art of mesmerism. The large part of his life, in which M. de Puységur had nothing to do but to follow this vein of inquiry, was occupied in practising and advocating a gentle manipulation to produce sleep, in preference to the more exciting means which led to the violent crises in Mesmer's art. I have no plea for telling how M. de Puységur served in the first French revolutionary armies; how he quitted the service in disgust; how narrowly he escaped the guillotine; how he lived in retirement afterwards, benevolently endeavouring to do good to his sick neighbours by means of mesmerism; how he survived the Restoration; and how, finally, he died of a cold caught by serving in the encampment at Rheims, at the coronation of Charles X.
For he had fulfilled his mission the day that he put Victor to sleep. He had made a vast stride in advance of his teacher. Not but that Mesmer must frequently have induced the same condition; but he had passed it by unheeded as one only of numerous equivalent forms of salutary crises; or that M. de Puységur himself estimated, or had the means of estimating, the real nature and value of the step which he had made. To himself he appeared to be winning a larger domain for mesmerism, when in fact he had emerged into an independent field, into which mesmerism happened to have a gate.
The state which he had induced in Victor was common trance, the initiatory sleep, followed by half-waking. He had obtained this result by using the Od force with quietness and gentleness, leaving out the exciting mental agencies to which the mixture of violent seizures in Mesmer's practice is attributable. The gentler method has been adopted and practised by the successors of M. de Puységur, by Deleuze, Bertrand, Georget, Rostan, Foissac, Elliotson, and others. To Dr Elliotson, the most successful probably, certainly the most scientific employer of the practice of mesmerism, the credit is due of having introduced its use into England : the credit,-for it required no little moral courage to encounter the storm of opposition with which his honest zeal in the advocacy of an unpopular practical truth was met. It is but fair to add, that though his theory has been superseded, and his method changed, to Mesmer belongs the merit of having first tracked out and realised this path of discovery. The golden medal is his.
The modern practice of mesmerism contemplates two objects: one, the application of the Od force to produce local effects; the other, its employment to induce trance. In the present slight sketch I shall say nothing on the first subject; but let me describe how trance is induced. It is to be observed, that attention to certain conditions favours very much the success of the experiment. The room should not be too light; very few persons should be present; the patient and the operator should be quiet, tranquil, and composed; the patient should be fasting. The operator has then only to sit down before the patient; who is likewise sitting with his hands resting on his knees, and gently closed, with the thumbs upwards. The operator then lays his hands half-open upon the patient's, pressing the thumbs against those of the patient, as it were taking thumbs : this is a more convenient attitude than taking hands in the ordinary way. The operator and patient have then only to sit still. An Od-current is established ; and if the patient is susceptible, he will soon become drowsy, and perhaps be entranced at the first sitting. Instead of this, the two hands of the operator may be held horizontally with the fingers pointed to the patient's forehead, and either maintained in this position, or brought downwards in frequent passes opposite to the patient's face, shoulders, arms; the points of the fingers being held as near the patient as possible without touching.
It is easy, theoretically, to explain the beneficial results which follow from the daily induction of trance for an hour or so, in various forms of disorder of the nervous system, - in epilepsy, - in tic-doloreux, - in nervous palsy and the like. As long as the state of trance is maintained, so long is the nervous system in a state of repose. It is more or less completely put out of gear. It experiences the same relief which a sprained joint feels
when you dispose it in a relaxed position on a pillow. A chance is thus given to the strained nerves of recovering their tone of health ; and it is wonderful how many cases of nervous disorder get well at once through these simple means. As it is certain that there is no disease in which the nervous system is not primarily or secondarily implicated, it is impossible to foresee what will prove the limit to the beneficial application of mesmerism in medical practice.
In operative surgery the art is not less available. In trance the patient is insensible, and a limb may be removed without the operation exciting disturbance of any kind. And what is equally important, in all the after-treatment, at every dressing, the process of mesmerising may be resorted to again, with no possible disadvantage, but being rather soothing and useful to the patient, independently of the extinction of the dread and suffering of pain. The first instance in which an operation was performed on a patient in this state was the celebrated case of Madame Plantin. It occurred twenty years ago. The lady was sixty-four years of age, and laboured under scirrhus of the breast. She was prepared for the operation by M. Chapélain, who on several successive days threw her into trance by the ordinary mesmeric manipulations. She was then like an ordinary sleep-walker, and would converse with indifference about the contemplated operation, the idea of which, when she was in her natural state, filled her with terror. The operation of removing the diseased breast was performed at Paris on the 12th of April 1829, by M. Jules Cloquet; it lasted from ten to twelve minutes. During the whole of this time the patient, in her trance, conversed calmly with M. Cloquet, and exhibited not the slightest sign of suffering. Her expression of countenance did not change; nor was the voice, the breathing, or the pulse at all affected. After