Jules du Potet de Sennevoy

Magnetism Opposed to Medicine

Some Observations on MAGNETISM

“One sleeps willingly after meals, in the Midi, as it is called the Siesta; men commend sleep. The sleepers dream, one says, under the influence of the magnetic fluid, although this fluid has been misunderstood by such celebrities as Franklin, Bailly, Lavoisier, d’Arcet, etc.

“One asks why return us to the puerilities of Mesmer and his disciples, which have been obliged, for sixty years, to abandon this magnetism as useless, because of a decision of new savants delegated from the academies of sciences and of medicine at Paris 11 August 1784.

“Then as now, there were believers and enthusiasts, even educated subjects allowing themselves to be carried away by the desire to know this science declared chimerical; our learned physicians, at Charenton and elsewhere, heal a few subjects attacked with hallucinations; there exist many nuances in society, which are not doubted to be attacks of this affect and which are avid to try and to know what appears marvelous and mysterious. If magnetism does not do ill, it returns to the method of observation and of waiting; healing occurs if nature operates a happy crisis; the professors have said as much of the little bleedings practiced on young and robust subjects.

“If the professor tries to relieve incurable patients, why does he not address the authority in order to obtain entry of a great civil hospice where are found gathered all the patients? Must one think that he prefers to go to a city of the second order, to captivate there a rich people struck to believe what he cannot define, etc.

“One has had examples that imagination struck with an unknown thing, desire, fear, fatigue and boredom as the result of diverse causes, like the loss of a friend,  his property or others, have acted seriously on subjects with a mind gifted with more or less judgment: there are persons whom one makes to believe all that one wants.

“The movements of the hands of magnetizers displaces portions of air and fatigues the vision of subjects; the true or simulated convulsionaries, having the memory of their affection, their imagination stricken with a chimerical hope, causes them to enter into crises: who says more says less. One knows the effect of sympathetic or provoked yawning, as that has been so many times observed between individuals gathered, bored, having need to eat or to sleep. The hiccup, nervous affection, disappears often by a fear which operates on the moral aspect. Saliva augments in the mouth at the view of an alimentary desire, etc.

“The magnetizer heals when he reaches a fortunate moment where nature operates alone: the imagination is taken for the magnetic fluid; it is however useful to second nature, as by the vaccine which has diminished the mortality of smallpox.

“One puts children to sleep in brushing the head and rocking them: the ladies are even put to sleep between the hands of persons charged to coif them.

“One tries to reanimate the worm-eaten magnetism, ancient dream similar to the gods of paganism.

“The bellicose times as before the empire, and during its disasters, had repressed this magnetism tainted with the miraculous. The medicine of the celebrated Broussais was well followed and appreciated; the homeopaths have appeared and disappeared. The magnetizers, that authority leaves at liberty (between the hands which have perhaps the right of exploiting it) will not cause illness, but will move the infirm who would be better in resting in the bosom of their families.

“It has been recognized that imagination, of which the ability is as powerful as it is little known, was the agent that one took for the magnetic fluid. However, let us hope for something unknown which the magnetizing professor would possess.

“The greatest noise of his magnetism will be that a girl, with a great good sense, would dream at his seances, and that as the oracles of the ancients, she pronounces the words according to his desires, to which one cares to give the most advantageous sense.

“Let us believe that the professor has the same fate as Mesmer and his disciples.

Piel, Doctor in medicine, decorated surgeon major, of the 3rd Engineers.
Metz, 29 November 1839.


I must, before ending this work, add to the list personages of Metz who have been instructed in magnetism. [Names nineteen, then adds ten students at Paris.]


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