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OBSERVATIONS ON ANIMAL MAGNET- good to man. On farther reflection,
however, I have thought it better to
defer this task till another opportuniMR EDITOR,
ty, and to occupy the present paper THERE is now before me the First with a few remarks relative to the his. Part of the First Volume of a work, tory of this singular species of magentitled, Archives of Animal Magnets netic agency, such as may not be unism," published in the commencement accessible to those who have little of the present year, in the German leisure or inclination for research, in language, at Altenburg and Leipsic. subjects so remote from the common This work is to be continued period path of useful study. ically; and the conduct of it has been The great teacher and practical adundertaken by three medical profes- ministrator of animal magnetism in sors in the respectable universities of modern times, was a German PhysiTubingen, Jena, and Halle, viz. Drs cian named Mesmer. This individual Eschenmayer, Kieser, and Nasse. No first distinguished himself by a disser other proof than this is necessary, tation on the Influence of the Stars on that a system which sound philosophy the Human Body, which he printed at had, more than thirty years ago, pro Vienna in 1766, and publicly defend nounced to be a delusion, has again ed as a thesis in that university. Bat been revived in Germany; and hás Father Mehl, a German philosopher, obtained credit, not merely with the having, in 1774, strongly recommend vulgar, but with the more intelli- ed the use of the loadstone in the art gent classes of society; and has even of healing, Mesmer immediately be gained the belief of some, who, from came a convert to his doctrines, and their having been elevated to the actually carried them into practice with situation of teachers in the highest success. In the midst, however, of seminaries of learning, may be pre- his attention to the utility of the loadsumed to possess a certain reputation stone, he was led to the adoption of a among men of science.
new set of principles, which he conIt was my intention, in the present ceived to be much more general and communication, to have presented important in their application. He your readers with such extracts from accordingly laid aside the use of the this journal as might enable them to loadstone, and entered on the cure of judge for themselves of the nature and disease on this more improved sysspirit of those doctrines, which are tem. This apostacy involved him in said to have excited so much interest a quarrel with Father Hehl, and with abroad, and to hold out the prospect, the celebrated Ingenhouz, by whom in their ultimate improvement, of so
he had formerly been patronised; and much mental, as well as corporeal, as their credit in Vienna was extreme
ly high, and their exertions against * Archiv für Thierischen Magnetismus, him indefatigable, his system almost Bvo, 1817.
immediately sunk into general disre
pute. To parry their opposition, he which he published, entitled, Inquiries appealed, in 1776, to the Academy of and Doubts respecting the Animal Sciences at Berlin. Here, however
, Magnetism. in his
Mesmer, in his Memoir already titute of foundation, and unworthy of mentioned, described the agent which the smallest attention." Undismayed he professed to have discovered, and
miscarriages, he made a progress through several towns Animal Magnetism, in the following of Germany, still practising magnet- manner :-" It is a fluid universally ism, and publishing, from time to diffused; the vehicle of a mutual intime, accounts of the cures he accom- fluence between the celestial bodies,
an lowed by a denial on the part of his beings; it is so continued as to admit opponents. He returned to Vienna å of no vacuum ; its subtlety does not second time, and ma irable
it is capable of anothcontion unit of illustrating, and communi. tempt to obtain for his doctrines, but with no better cating, all the impressions that are insuccess than formerly; so that, whole cident to motion; it is susceptible of ly disconcerted by these uninterrupt- flux and reflux. The animal body is left Germany, and arrived at Paris in and these effects are immediately pro
se : the beginning of the year 1778. Here duced by the agent insinuating itself his prospects soon began to brighten. into the substance of the nerves. We Having retired to Creteil with a few particularly discover, in the human patients (one of them a paralytic wo- body, qualities analogous to those of man), he restored them to perfect the loadstone ; we distinguish in it, health in a few months; and in con- poles different and opposite. The acsequence of this success, the numbers tion and the virtue of the animal magof those who applied to him for relief netism are capable of being communi. increased rapidly, and his cures were cated from one body to another, aniof the most astonishing nature. Amated or inanimate; they exert themnumerous company was daily assem- selves to considerable distances, and bled at his house in Paris, where the without the least assistance from any magnetism was publicly administered; intermediate bodies ; this action is inand M. Deslon, one of his pupils, is creased and reflected by mirrors ; it is said to have cleared, during this tide communicated, propagated, and augof success, no less a sum than £100,000. mented by sound ; and the virtue itIn 1799 he published a Memoir on self is capable of being accumulated, Animal Magnetism, and promised a concentrated, and transferred. Though complete system upon the subject, the fluid be universal, all animal which should make as great a revolu- bodies are not equally susceptible of tion in philosophy as it had already it; there even are some, though very done in medicine. Struck, as it is few, of so opposite a nature, as by said, with the clearness and accuracy their mere presence to supersede its efof his reasonings, the magnificence of fects upon any other contiguous bodies. his pretensions, and the extraordinary The animal magnetism is capable of and unquestionable cures he perform- curing, immediately, diseases of the ed, some of the greatest physicians nerves, and mediately, other distemand most enlightened philosophers of pers. It improves the action of mediFrance became his converts. He was cines; it forwards and directs the sapatronised by people of the first rank; lutary crisis, so as to subject them his system became an affair of bon ton ; totally to the government of the judge and animal magnetism was warmly ment; by means of it the physician espoused by the fashionable world. becomes acquainted with the state of
Nevertheless, the new doctrine was health of each individual, and decides not without its opponents. Some of with certainty upon the causes, the the ablest pens in France were em- nature, and the progress, of the most ployed in refutation of it ; and in par- complicated distempers; it prevents ticular, Thouret, Regent physician of their increase, and effects their extirthe Faculty of Paris, and member of pation, without at any time exposing the Royal Society of Medicine, great- the patient, whatever be his sex, age, ly distinguished himself by a work or constitution, to alarming conse
quences. In the influence of the mage of iron that were inserted in its lid. netism, nature holds out to us a sove- The patients then, arranged in consireign instrument for securing the derable number, and in successive health and lengthening the existence ranks, round the bucket, derived the of mankind.”
magnetic virtue at once from all these The apparatus necessary for the conveyances :- from the branches of administration of the magnetism, and iron, which transmitted to them that the method in which it was employed, of the bucket ;- from the cord which were the following. In the centre of was passed round their bodies, and a large apartment was circular box the union of their fingers, which commade of oak, and about a foot or a foot municated to them that of their neighand an half deep, which was called the bours ;-and from the sound of the bucket. The lid of this box was piano forte or a musical voice, which pierced with a number of holes, in communicated through the air. The which were inserted branches of iron, patients were besides magnetised dielbowed and moveable. The patients rectly, by means of a finger or a bar of were arranged in ranks about this iron, guided before the face, above or bucket, and each had his branch of behind the head, and over the surface iron, which, by means of the elbow, of the parts affected, the distinction of might be applied immediately to the 'the poles still observed. They were part affected.
A cord passed round also acted upon by a look, and by their bodies, connected the one with having their attention excited. But the other. Sometimes a second means especially they were magnetised by of communication was introduced, by the application of the hands, and by the insertion of the thumb of each pa- the pressure of the fingers upon the tient between the fore finger and hypochonders and the regions of the thumb of the patient next him. The lower belly; -an application frequently thumb thus inserted was pressed by continued for a long time, sometimes the person holding it. The impression for several hours. received by the left hand of the patient
In this situation the patients offered was communicated through his right, a spectacle extremely varied, in pro- ; and thus passed through the whole portion to their different habits of circle. A piano forte was placed in body. Some of them were calm, trane one corner of the apartment, and dif- quil, and unconscious to any sensa- i. ferent airs were played, with various tion; others coughed, spat, were afdegrees of rapidity. Vocal music was fected with a slight degree of pain, a sometimes added to the instrumental. Partial or an universal burning and The persons who superintended the perspiration ; a third class were agia process had each of them an iron tated and tormented with convulsions. rod in his hand, from ten to twelve These convulsions were rendered exinches in length. This rod was a traordinary by their frequency, their conductor of the magnetism, and had violence, and their duration. As soon the power of concentrating it at its as one person was convulsed, others point, and of rendering its emana- presently were affected by that symptions more considerable. Sound was tom. Accesses of this kind sometimes also a conductor of magnetism; and lasted upwards of three hours; they in order to communicate the fluid to were accompanied with expectorations the piano forte, nothing more was ne
of a thick and viscous water, brought cessary than to approach to it the iron away by the violence of the efforts. rod.
The person who played upon Sometimes these expectorations were the instrument furnished also a por- accompanied with small quantities of tion of the fluid ; and the magnetism blood; and there was among others a was transmitted by the sounds to the lad who frequently brought up blood surrounding patients. The cord which in considerable abundance. These was passed round the bodies of the convulsions were characterised by prepatients was destined, as well as the cipitate and involuntary motions of all union of their fingers, to augment the the limbs, or of the whole body; by effects by communication. The interior a contraction of the throat; by sudden part of the bucket was so constructed affections of the hypochonders and the as to concentre the magnetism; and epigastrium; by a distraction and was a grand reservoir, from which the wildness in the eyes ; by shrieks, tears, fluid was diffused through the branches hiccuppings, and immoderate laughter,
They were either preceded or followed ultimately to share the fate of every by a state of languor and reverie, by popular delusion. Fortunately howa species of dejection and even drow- ever for science, Mesmer's operations siness. The least unforeseen noise were deemed worthy of the attention occasioned starting; and it was ob- of government; and on the 12th of served, that the changing the key and March 1784, a committee, consisting the time, in the airs played upon the partly of physicians, and partly of piano forte, had an effect upon the members of the royal academy of patients ; so that a quicker motion sciences, was appointed by the king agitated them more, and renewed the to examine thoroughly the principles vivacity of their convulsions. Nothing of the new magnetical system. At could be more astonishing than the the head of this committee was the sight of these spasms. One that had celebrated Dr Franklin; and the innot seen them could have no idea of dividuals united with him in the inthem; and in beholding the whole quiry were, Majault, Le Roy, Sallin, scene, the profound repose of one class Bailly, D'Arcet, De Bory, Guillotin, of patients was not less striking than and Lavoisier. These philosophers the violence with which another class immediately entered on the discharge was agitated.
of the duty which had been intrusted The first part of the work to which to them, with all the judgment and I have alluded, by Thouret, had for assiduity which it was natural to exits object to shew, that the theory of pect from men so eminently qualified Mesmer, instead of being a novelty in for the task. Mesmer refused to have science, was an ancient system, which any communication with this commithad been abandoned by the learned a tee; but M. Deslon, the most concentury before. He demonstrated, in siderable of his pupils, consented to the most satisfactory manner, by pre- disclose to them the whole principles cise references to the writings of Para- and practice of his master, and to ascelsus, Van Helmont, Godenius, Bar- sist them in all their investigations. gravius, Libavius, Wirdig, Maxwel, Accordingly, the commissioners, after Sir Kenelm Digby, Santanelli, Tent- having made themselves acquainted zel, Kircher, and Borel, that all the with the theory of animal magnetism, propositions published and avowed by as it was professed by Mesmer, witnessMesmer were positively laid down by ed each of them repeatedly, its effects one or other of these authors. In the in public, when administered by Desa second part, Thouret proves, by obser- lon ; they submitted, in private, to be vations and reasoning, remarkable for magnetised themselves; and they mag their acuteness and good sense, that netised others in a variety of circumall the effects ascribed by Mesmer to stances. The final results of their inthe operation of a new species of mag- quiry were communicated to the king, netism were to be attributed solely to on the 11th of August, in a Report the influence of the imagination on the which was drawn up by Dr Franklin, body; that they admitted of the same and which will be read with admiraexplanation as the cures of the two tion, as long as the history of the hufamous empirics, Greatrakes and Gass man mind affords interest to the moral ner ; and that to pretend to the dis- philosopher or the physiologist. The covery of a curative means, which animal magnetic fluid was pronounced should extend to every species of dis- to have no existence; and compression, ease, or, in other words, to a universal imagination, and imitation, were shewn medicine, was an illusion unworthy of to be the true causes of the effects atan enlightened age.
tributed to it. “ The curious and inThis work of Thouret's received, teresting inquiries of M. Thouret,” from a Committee of the Royal Society say the commissioners, “ have conof Medicine appointed to examine it, vinced the public, that the theory, the that praise to which it was so justly operations, and the effects of the anie entitled, from the talent and the erum mal magnetism proposed in the last dition it displayed ; and it cannot be age, were nearly the same with those doubted, that its influence would alone revived in the present. The magnethave been sufficient to have arrested ism, then, is no more than an old falsethe progress of the doctrine it exposed, hood. The theory, indeed, is now préeven if animal magnetism had not sented (as was necessary in a more enbeen, from its very nature, destined lightened age) with a greater degree
of pomp; but it is not, on this ace ating influence which they have over count, the less erroneous.”
the understanding. To be convinced This interesting Report was trans- of the reality of this fact, it is only lated into English, with an Historical necessary to attend to the operations Introduction, in 1786 ; and it is from of the mind to be called forth in learns this translation, which is respectably ing any language. In acquiring a executed, that the preceding detail has knowledge of Latin, for instance, a been almost verbatim extracted. It person ought, (if I may be allowed to is very important however to mention, borrow the words of Beattie) to be able that in addition to this Memoir, which to "show, that he not only knows the was obviously meant for the public general meaning, the import of the eye, the commissioners deemed it their particular words, but also can refer duty to communicate a private Report each to its class ; enumerate all its to the king ; in which, with a laudable terminations, specifying every change solicitude for the morals of the sex, of sense, however minute, that may they disclosed certain circumstances, be produced by a change of inftection accompanying the administration of or arrangement; explain its several the magnetism, in the highest degree dependencies; distinguish the literal unfavourable to the purity of the few meaning from the figurative; one spemale feeling and character, and which, cies of figure from another; and even by designing individuals, might be the philosophical use of words from rendered subservient to purposes of the the idiomatical, and the vulgar from most criminal profligacy. This secret the elegant; recollecting occasionally Memoir has since been made public. other words and phrases that are sy
An exposure so complete, accom. nonimous or contrary, or of different plished by men whose integrity and though similar signification; and actalents were acknowledged over the counting for what he says, either from whole of Europe, speedily produced the reason of the thing, or by quoting the effects that were to have been ex- a rule of art or a classical authority; pected from it.
In a few months, -a mode of proceeding which must Mesmer and his animal magnetism no doubt operate differently, according were forgotten.
as it is more or less scrupulously obSince the overthrow of this system, served; but by which, even when parthe most remarkable popular delusion tially adopted, and as far as possible which has prevailed, is the belief in applied to other languages, it will not the influence of the metallic tractors surely be denied, the attention must of Perkins. With how much talent be fixed, the judgment strengthened, this deception was exposed, by Dr Hay- and the memory improved. garth and his scientific friends, is ge- All this, it may be answered, is very nerally known. To this most able and true, and all this may be safely intelligent physician, physiology is in- granted; but it may be asked, in condebted for a series of experiments, dis- formity with a very popular objection, playing; in a manner still more striking at how high a price are these benefits perhaps than had hitherto been done, to be purchased ? Why at the expense the influence of powerful emotions on of thought ?-at the expense of that the corporeal frame.
G. which alone merits a moment's conEdinburgh, 1st. Sept.
sideration ; for, it may be maintained, the natural tendency of such an employment of the human faculties is to abstract the attention from things to words; from real important know
ledge to things insignificant in themMR EDITOR,
selves, and valuable only as a means It is my object, on the present occae for the attainment of an end. sion, to advert to some of the advan- This, however, is evidently founded tages of which, if impartially consider- upon error. Every thing is liable to ed, the study of ancient and foreign be abused. But because some men languages will be found to be produc- have been deluded by contracted views, tive.
and foolishly imagined that their menThe first advantage which I shall tal aliment was augmented in propornotice, as resulting from an acquaint- tion as their verbal stores were increag, ance with such studies, is the invigore ed, it does not surely follow that all
ON THE UTILITY OF STUDYING AN
CIENT AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES.