Jules du Potet de Sennevoy
Magnetism Opposed to Medicine
Magnetism in Paris
(1820 to 1825)
This is a precious thing health,
and the only one which merits, in truth,
as one employs there not only
time, sweat, pain, property,
but then life and its pursuit;
so much that without it, life comes to be injurious.
Sensation, wisdom, science and virtue, without it,
are terminated and vanished.
I was very young when for the first time I learned that serious men assured that there existed in us a force, an occult power, which, properly employed and surely directed, produced marvelous phenomena. The smile and doubt were, it is necessary that I avow, the first reception that I made to these assertions.
Soon, however, led by the desire to know the truth of experiments with magnetism, I was present at the production of extraordinary feats; but my feeble reason still refused to believe the strange things that my eyes had seen. From that moment however, I had no rest; an ardent desire to possess the truth took hold of me. To unmask the jugglery, if there was one, or to publish everywhere the reality of the marvelous discovery, caused an irrevocable determination, so grave in my mind that I sacrificed my rest to it, my pleasures, and even my future. To research the magnetizers, to listen to them with attention, to spy on their least actions, to interview the men who served them with instruments, made the occupation of my days, until finally, obtaining myself the production of phenomena that my mind refused to admit, I lived in possession of the science of which I had so ardently desired to know the reality.
This made a fine day for me, and one which will never be erased from my memory.
Doubting then my power, I had to plunge into somnambulism two young people who were completely ignorant of what magnetism was, and who, all in laughing at the bizarre procedures that I used, however vividly experienced the efficacy.
It is necessary for one self to have produced the magnetic effects in order to get an idea of the singular trouble which agitates your mind, when for the first time you obtain acts which reveal your power, Fear, hope come in turn to hold from your faculties, and the new state that you come to develop, in showing you an unknown world, erase or weaken all that remains to you of the emotions drawn from usual life.
My first step in the magnetic career left me no longer able to retreat. Belief had replaced doubt, and each day the new phenomena for me, produced in diverse circumstances, increased my enthusiasm and gave me at the same time the desire to cause the same belief in men that this truth came to serve.
Very young then to comprehend the entire importance of the discovery of Mesmer, I saw already however in it a means to enlighten mean on the prejudices which govern the nations, and the possibility to destroy in a given time the ill products of the supposed philosophical doctrines. But my extreme timidity and my little knowledge of men rendered little dreaded this weapon between my hands. In effect, to dare to conceive the thought to spread the truth as I came to acquire it, and to cause to be adopted by those same who had rejected it; to dare to put myself into the face of the savants of the epoch, and to provoke them to a new examination, was it not then, on my part, a foolish project? For the celebrated decision of Bailly, of Lavoisier, of Franklin still had force of a judged thing; the contemporary savants had added their names to this sentence, and public opinion, perverted or won by a judgment which was far from appearing unfair, had left very little hope of seeing one day this decree reformed, and the truth released at the triumphant end.
The magnetizers were in small numbers: at their head were found Deleuze and Puységur. On their banner one saw written: Charity, Love of Public Good, Good Hopes. But these devices excited the laughter and sarcasm from the antagonists of magnetism. Sincere friends of the truth had to groan from their abandonment, because then not a distinguished physician would dare to give them the support of his name.
It is not enough for a cowardly man to kill his enemy, it is necessary that he drag him in the mud. Some pretended philosophers and fine minds had thought to perceive in magnetism what made the crowd laugh; then they admire magnetizers in the theater, and the mockery of the public was the reward accorded to sympathetic men who wished to enlighten and relieve their brothers. A magnetizer was then synonymous with charlatan or with imbecile; certain members of the Academy even added the epithet of knave.
However some new works appeared. Impressed with a noble simplicity and with a great candor, they were spread into the world; one commented on them, one censured them; but they were sold, and some serious men were delivered, into the silence of the office, to their deep examination.
In reading these writings myself, I thought to recognize that the step indicated to cause the progress of magnetism was faulty; I thought that far from banishing the unbelievers of magnetic experiences, like the fathers of science had recommended to do, it was necessary to the contrary to go right to them, and to provoke them even as far as into their sanctuary; that it was necessary finally not to flee the great day, since the truth would never have anything to fear, and that only error has need of obscurity.
But here the difficulty was great. How to expose yourself in public with the ignoble mark that the savants had engraved on the forehead of the magnetizers? How to brave the laughter which seized the fine minds when a magnetizer appeared in their presence? And however it did not fail with the people of heart capable of holding the enterprise, if another grander difficulty than the first did not present itself to the mind of the experimenters; all knew that the meditation of the magnetizer was necessary, all were convinced that the tranquility of the soul was an essential condition for the success of the magnetic operation. And how to preserve this disposition in the presence of men who welcome you with laughs and crude jokes which, although it is the ordinary use of pride or a foolish vanity, are not less applauded with passion by those who hear them?
It was then certain that success was doubtful; already many magnetizers had had to repent of having taken this path.
A newspaper, The Library of Magnetism, published, it is true, the cures operated by many magnetizers; some valuable materials were then collected to serve the history of magnetism; but this discovery remained concentrated in the hands of a small number of adepts. The savant bodies remained aliens. Very little to fear by its attacks, the newspaper of which we speak had only obtained the disdain of our superb and numerous adversaries.
A lone fact came to cause the cessation of their quietude and to give life again to a question which, for long times, no longer agitated minds.
I dared to undertake the production of public experiments in the premier hospital in Paris, the Hotel Dieu, in the presence of forty incredulous physicians, and to defend magnetism, not as an advocate, but as a magnetizer.
A young girl, sick for more than a year, who vomited each day with blood, without the most assiduous care and the most energic medicines which could have relieved her, languished in this hospital; her marasmus [undernourishment] was such that one could at definitely announce her forthcoming end. One took this young girl for subject of a test, and she was transported on a stretcher into a separate chamber, where I had asked the experiment be made.
It was almost a corpse that they had given me to galvanise by this alleged animal magnetism, and, it is necessary to say here, this was a hoax that they thought to have prepared by me. But God desired that this one, who hoped in his Providence, to come out victorious with a proof where he had not courage to succeed, but resignation.
Today, this would be a thing just as simple as similar experiments; the minds are prepared, and only doubt would welcome the experimenter; but we were in 1820, and then, I have already said, a magnetizer was synonymous with charlatan, and I, so young, I did not inspire even defiance to the men who had consented to receive me; I only inspired pity in them!
I will not give here the details of these experiments, a writing collected in the time [Public Experiments on Magnetism, made at the Hotel Dieu in 1820], but only of the consequence that they had for magnetism.
Among the witnesses of these experiments, there were found many men who would not limit themselves to publish the truth; they magnetized courageously as I had done myself, and succeeded, before a great number of physicians, to reproduce magnetic and somnambulistic phenomena observed at the Hotel Dieu.
There was first Doctor Margue, attached to the Salpetriere, who was happy enough to obtain somnambulism in more than ten patients; Georget, then, acquired by numerous experiments a conviction so great that he dared return to his materialist opinions, deposited in many works, and avowed publicly that magnetism proved the spirituality of the soul. The celebrated professor Rostan came near in the same time to avow in the bosom of the School the existence of this so extraordinary force that one calls magnetism. He even published in a dictionary of medicine a profession of faith so clear, so frank in favor of the truth that we defend, that from all parts one exclaimed: “Rostan could not write these things; this article has not parted from the pen of the positive Rostan!” But this sincere man immediately sustained, in the middle of a great concourse of students which his merit attracted to his lessons, the reality of the discovery of Mesmer; and throwing bloody barbs on those who did not believe magnetism, he made scorn to fall again on men who would wish to shield it.
My experiments at the Hotel Dieu had only caused to inflame my zeal; I provoked examination everywhere, and, appealing the sentence carried against Mesmer in 1784, I put under the eyes of all those who wanted to see them the living facts which had to regain opinion for us.
Doctor Bertrand published his scholarly Treatise on Somnambulism, Chardel The Sketch of Human Nature, Deleuze a Practical Instruction on Magnetism. Hope returned then to all those who desired the triumph of magnetism because they had perceived the benefits; they joined their efforts in order to extend knowledge and usage.
Somnambulism was researched and studied again, not by the generality of physicians, but by only some who had the courage to avow their belief. One of them, Doctor Foissac, dared (in 1826) to ask the Academy of Medicine for a solemn examination, offering himself to do all the experiments which would be necessary to convince them. The Academy, already shaken by the opinion of several of its members, did not think it duty to refuse, and decided to name a provisory commission, charged with making a provisory report, in which it would render account if it could, without compromising itself, to examine the facts of magnetism and of somnambulism of which the story came to it from all parts.
Doctor Frappart, from his side, gained to our cause Broussais and his son, in making experiments at Val-de-Grace. I, by a call to the young people of the School, went more straight to the point, I opened a public course of magnetism in a large room at the Dauphine crossing, and six or seven hundred students hastened there. I dared, before them, to raise some doubts on the sincerity of the opinion of the professors who sought to turn them away from the study of magnetism; I dared to proclaim aloud the strange phenomena of somnambulism and the benefits of magnetism. I had to defy thus the threats of a deceived youth, I had to overcome all fear, of deceiving myself on my principles, before being heard, while my audience believed that I was a Jesuit and was ready to treat me in consequence.
Yet nothing unpleasant occurred to me; they soon understood that the man who wished a public examination of his acts could not be a mischievous man; my course ended peacefully, and many of those who came intending to be my contradictors became my friends.
Finally the truth began to make its day and to have an echo in Paris. One could already speak of his belief; one was then really taxed with enthusiasm, with propensity to reverie, of illuminism, but one did not pass yet longer for a trickster or for a knave.
The tardiness which had caused magnetism to become an embarrassment to the savants no longer astonished me; this little progressive step came from the same nature of facts which serve the base of this science. In effect, men of this century, habituated to only seeing into nature the material side of things, to weigh all, to analyze all, came necessarily to repulse a truth which is perhaps more of the moral domain than of the purely physical domain.
Thenceforth, how to convince easily these men who wished not only to see the phenomena of magnetism, but to be assured at first of the cause which gives them birth, and be assured by the same means which serve ordinarily to study purely material and physical agents?
An unbeliever in good faith said to you: “Do you see this alleged magnetic fluid?” – One can only show it to you by its action on the human body, you responded: “Here are phenomena which are evidently the product of it;” and you exhibited people who experienced the action vitally. – But it was on himself that the unbeliever wished to see this power acting; and so, ceding to the desire that you had to convince him, you did not plunge him immediately into somnambulism, he directed very quickly his opinion to the people who had been witnesses to the debate.
“Cause this horse to fall into somnambulism,” said M. Virey. “Could you not do it? Then your magnetism is a dream.”
If you advised that it was necessary in the times to act, that certain dispositions were necessary, one held you as suspect; if, magnetiz878ing, you obtained first slight effects, though it is rare enough to see the first magnetization producing another thing, one explained to you the facts which had been observed: it is repose, said one; it is imagination, said another. If you produced sleep, it was all different; it was due to boredom, to monotony of the gestures, to agitation of the air, etc. The arguments did not prevent you responding, but they failed before this apostrophe: Show me this alleged fluid of which you speak without ceasing, and I will believe magnetism. But if nature has made it colorless, like that of the magnet, for example; if it wished that many of its effects not be made visible, although very real, that is to say molecular, and by consequence seizable only with time, it only remains then more that the nervous effects could convince, and this was beyond all that one wished to hear spoken. And why did one not wish to admit them? Because nature produced them sometimes alone and without magnetism.
Indeed, did we speak of spasms produced by magnetism? They are frequent without it. Of convulsions? But who has not seen them developing all the time? Of catalepsy? Many physicians have in their practice encountered this crisis. It is true that we could alone, at will, produce these diverse phenomena, but one rejected always the true cause because one could not render it sensible before the eyes. One day they would have to use the same facts in order to frighten over the dangers of magnetism, but the time had not yet come. If you said to the antagonists of magnetism: Magnetize yourselves people in their natural sleep, you will see them sensible to your action. They responded to you that they did not have faith. If you guaranteed to them that faith was by no means necessary, but only the will, they responded to you: “I would see that I would not believe.”
I recall very well one day, the takes with a very scholarly doctor, as we had the following conversation:
“If before you,” I said it, “I acted on this patient here present, and that, paralysing the muscles of the chest and suspending the movement of the heart, I made him fall dead suddenly, would you believe magnetism?”
– “Yes, certainly.”
Then, resuming: “I could explain his death by other causes than by your magnetism, for one can die suddenly.”
– “I admit your supposition,” I responded to him; “but finally if I resuscitated him at the moment when, giving no more sign of life, he would be recognized for dead, very dead?”
– “I would say ... I would say that the death was only apparent, that he did not give signs of putrefaction, etc, etc.”
If to some similar adversaries you talked of remarkable cures operated by magnetism on patients abandoned by the whole of medicine, that you claimed to prove yourself, they responded. “Is it that we do not know that many patients can heal without medicine, and even in spite of medicine? Is it that each day we do not encounter in the world men that we have condemned and who not only survive our judgments, but carry themselves then as well as we do?”
Finally, to prove that you had no more reason in this circumstance than in all the others, they went as far as making atheists in medicine, as far as denying positively the utility of this science, pretending that it was nature alone which healed. Under this point of view, they advanced singularly our affairs, and we had to thank them for their avowal, for our efforts tend to prove this truth, that it is nature which heals, that it is necessary only to know how to aid it in its operation and present it the materials of repair when it is on the point of succumbing.
One comes to see how the difficulties were great, how the obstacles were difficult to surmount with the generality of our adversaries. The more the magnetic facts were marvelous, the less they were disposed to believe the reality of magnetism. The fault, however, did not come from us, but from nature: it is the one to be accused, for it was on its work that we called the public attention and not on ours, for we are only the instruments which it uses to manifest its power.
But each day does one not see the savants astonished with a new fact, because this fact seems to derange their system and trouble their conception, as if we knew all the mysteries of nature, as if it had nothing more for us to learn? Strange error! Scarcely have we perceived this ocean of marvels which surrounds us that we believe we have probed the depth!
The preparatory commission had made its report, and, by the organ of M. Husson, it assured the Academy could, without compromising itself in the least with the world, consent to the examination that was proposed to it. In its inquest, this commission had observed that magnetism was practiced, exercised by very honorable men who, for not being physicians, did not merit less confidence; finally the report was so encouraging that the Academy, without long discussions, had adopted the conclusions and had named a new commission composed of eleven members taken among the most distinguished of its illustrious body.
Two newspapers, dedicated to the defense of magnetism, spread the knowledge of the new facts, and by their stories the provinces were taken with a kind of craze for somnambulism.
Men who had joked at magnetism and written against its existence, reviewed their opinions and confessed that they were convinced. It is then that one saw Pigault-Lebrun came to sustain with warmth the existence of a truth which he had other times battled.
But the great affair was the work of the latter commission. What did it do? Did it fulfill its mandate? Had the magnetizers justified their assertions? A profound secret was kept on their works. One was assured of the probity of the physicians who composed it: Husson, Fouquier, Marc, Gueneau de Mussy, Itard, Bourdois, etc., inspired all confidence; but the time elapsed without the report being announced. Doctor Foissac had ceased to occupy himself to present facts to the named commissioners, but he assured to have produced them as convinced. I myself claimed to have put in the state of magnetism a member of the Academy made part of the commission, M. Itard, and this one in the presence of his colleagues. M. Double, the unbeliever, had been one of the witnesses to this fact, and I must say, at the subject of this physician, that he did all possible to avoid remaining until the end of seance; he was visibly unquiet, agitated, for there was a verbal report to sign, and it was then impossible to allege complacence or complicity; also for three times M. Husson was obliged retain him, and at the end M. Double did not dare to refuse his signature.
I gave the detailed circumstances on another seance at the Academy, when one of my somnambulists played cards with very scholarly academicians who had kept their eyes very open, while those of the others were completely closed. However the part was not equal, for the somnambulist, although with her eyes closed, saw perfectly the play of her adversary, and consequently won much more often than he.
The opinion of Cuvier, favorable to magnetism, although expressed timidly, added to our hope. Laplace, in his calculation of probabilities, in consigning his belief, held the unbelievers in a prudent reserve. Ampere went much further than these savants in the affirmation of the magnetic phenomena. Francoeur, rendering account of the observed facts in the department of Ardeche [southern France] by a distinguished physician, dared, in a seance at the Philomatic Society, to talk of sight without the aid of eyes and of prevision.
New experiments, publicly made in some hospitals of Paris under the eyes of the commission, were announced finally as a serious examination took place. But it was only a passing glow; this ardor was soon slowed down; the council of the hospices, moved by inexplicable motives, were opposed to the continuation of these experiments, and the commissioners did not have enough courage or enough power to disregard this decision worthy of the Middle Age.
The political events of 1830 would shake the minds and give another direction to the ideas; the report of the commission was, for this reason, delayed for a year.
At this epoch, the French tribunes had been called to judge the causes where magnetic somnambulism played a little worthy role; its poor use had given place to serious abuse, and the women who rendered themselves culpable of signal abuse had been condemned to sufficiently considerable amends.
The young men full of ardor that I had convinced of tirelessly producing magnetism the remarkable phenomena; they were without fear; I had promised to come to their aid if they encountered embarrassing cases. Many had then recourse to me, and in giving them the proof of a great power, I taught them to develop their own, and to rule it well, and to pause at the limits that I thought should not be crossed. [Note: How much I was pleased when I reviewed my old students! If magnetism was charlatanry, would not time enlighten them, and instead of proving for themselves what I sensed for them, would they not regret to approach me?]
Theses on magnetism appeared around the same time at the Faculty. It was a remarkable innovation; moreover the boldness of these writings was not much faulted, as the grade of a doctor was not refused because of the beliefs which were expressed there.
Finally, one officially announced the reading of the report of the commission on magnetism. It was the 21st June 1831 that this reading began. Thus it had not taken less than six year to obtain the verification of a fact!
The assembly was a big suit, for they were going to fight a great battle. The champions opposed to new ideas were numerous; they could easily recognize them, but they were older, which is not to say more respectable. Men without prejudice, those who desired the truth for love of it, were also at their post. Not having soaked in ancient quarrels which magnetism had other times raised, they saw it without anger taking rank among the sciences and following the natural route which, each day, opens itself for all other human knowledge.
The reading began, and soon one could perceive the spite of some, the irritation of some others, but in no part indifference; the coldest were singularly agitated. It would be difficult to describe this session; the disinterested man in the question of magnetism, who would have been witness of these sad debates, would be desperate to see a new idea for capture with the Academy, and he would leave the sanctuary of science, believing without doubt to be residing some time in a house of fools.
What then the commission asked? That magnetism should be adopted? No. It made part to the Academy of what it had seen and observed; it engaged the new researches, and limited itself to make the ways so that magnetism should return into the domain of medicine, and that it cease to be exploited by charlatans.
Did the commission demand that it should be taken on its word? No, nothing of the sort had come from the mouth of the reporter: “Examine yourselves, said he, magnetize yourselves, and you will acquire a conviction which can only come in following the step which we have pursued.”
Nothing was more reasonable that this report; wisdom had presided at its drafting, but this unfortunate work, in addition to the evidence of the existence of magnetism, contained then numerous facts on vision without the aid of eyes, of previsions, of actions at distance, and listen well, of examples of instinct for remedies in somnambulists.
All these facts had been collected and observed with a scrupulous good faith by men of a merit and of a recognized capacity; however one heard from all parts: “What! Men bankrupt of our knowledge would predict better than we could to make the diverse modifications of their organization, and would announce, without medical studies, what are the necessary remedies for their healing or for the relief of their ills? This is not possible, it is a lie; and the commissioners otherwise so wise, have assuredly lost their minds!”
No, savant doctors, reassure yourselves, your confreres have the brain in a normal state, the truth that you neither wish to see, nor comprehend, they have seen and comprehended, and have only revealed to you a small part, that the same forms of language have then freshened.
The commissioners left all bruised form the melee; their conscientious work was buried in boxes of the Academy, and the agitation caused by these debates were not delayed to cease. The anti-magnetic champions had seen their bags filled with insults and sophisms. It was necessary to take a good rest; the work had been too laborious and especially too profitable.
Witness of this sad combat, who had endured two sessions, I left heartbroken. What! I said to myself, science as we teach must pass through a similar channel to reach the public! What! Those are the impartial judges which we have chosen! Oh! Pity for them! I am ashamed to have had for an instant the idea to enlighten them and to put them in possession of the mesmerian truth; if they had not enough wisdom to comprehend it, how would they possess the virtues necessary to make useful employment?
From that moment on, I gave another direction to my activity; I had acquired a new proof that there was nothing to hope from the savant bodies, and that the magnetizers had lost their time in being obstinate at knocking at the door of the Academy. I had bitter regret; the loss of so many years employed at pursuing an impossible work afflicted me profoundly, but did not discourage me.
Physicians, I said to myself, do not want to draw from a powerful means to heal the sick; one must complain of such a stupid blindness. The physiologists disdain the study of a discovery which can make known some new laws of life; it is necessary to let them live in their ignorance. The philosophers refuse or recoil before the examination of a science which can illuminate them with an intense light; it is necessary to renounce convincing them. Henceforth, all for the people. To instruct the mass of citizens that error exploits, and signal the people of whose egoism prevents the truth from being spread, must be the rule of conduct of each magnetizer.
Full of this idea, I opened a public course at the Central Atheneum, and there, before an audience of more than six hundred persons, I dared to pronounce the speech that one will read. I broke then with my past, which had been all of abnegation before the savants, and I taught the sole route to follow in order to force them to examination, for they will eventually get tired of being dragged in tow.
Speech on animal magnetism,
pronounced 13 February 1835,
at the Central Atheneum.
“Convinced of a great truth, I have hesitated for a long time to say everything. I have believed that in avowing by degrees its importance, I would frighten less the people who must suffer, or rather I would dispose them to be seized and to spread it in their own interest. My speeches have not touched them, my appeals have found deafness, and the phenomena which should have enlightened them have not obtained this result.
“Should I shut up and close in my self the seed that I believe fertile? Should I imitate our savants, leaving to the generation which grows from us the care to develop and to make known a truth which ought to cast such a great day on all the sciences? No, I am separated from cold hearts, from hearts that the sufferings of humanity do not move; more sensitive to their own interest than to the interest of science. I have recognized too late that my sincere speeches would not find echo among them, and regretting a time vainly lost, I have taken the part of spreading in the world what the savants had first to know solely. That they are only acknowledged by their conduct of contempt that we will have for them, that they submit to their hard reproaches as one is in the way of addressing them, and if some misfortunes are the result of an unthinking application of the new principles that I have exposed to you, they are the savants and especially the physicians, who should trace the rules and who have not done it, that one should render them responsible.
“We will roll out before you the pieces of a great process, a process which interests the whole of humanity, for it acts with a new art of healing the ills which afflict us, and of a truth which must place on new bases the moral and physical sciences.
“In this examination, we will distance from us all weakness, we will speak to you without hate and without passion, our language will be sincere, and our avowals, perhaps very strong as prudence demands it, will not leave you any doubt on the purity of our intentions.
“We begin then the examination of this great question, we cause to introduce into your minds the conviction which dominates us, and since you will become my judges, it is your duty to listen to me with attention.
“Messieurs, from all parts of honorable men, in sane judgement, make appeal to the world on an ancient discovery, always contested.
“They say: Man has marvelous properties which nearly equal the gods; man can act on his fellows and on all living nature; man can be put into a state where are revealed to him his high destinies on Earth; man finally can modify at his will what appears to escape his senses, and this moral and physical action can be recognized, studied, proven, for all men are apt to feel it and to communicate it. There is only ignorance or bad faith which can put it in doubt.
“To assertions so positive, how do the men in possession of science and at the head of the opinion respond?”
“They say: All the marvels of which you speak to us are so many lies. The earliest antiquity was infected; it believed, as you, in the power of men on men, in revelations, in previsions, and it is found in all the epochs of men who claim to have supernatural power. But it is found with the savants like us, who possess the true light, and who have done justice with all these reveries. Cease then pursuing with your propositions of examination; science has nothing to learn from you; you are fools or imbeciles, you only inspire us with pity!
“Happy savants, we must bow before your lights, and the nation must raise altars to you!
“Let the vulgar bow and lower the head! As he cites with pride the names of these illustrious savants; as he adopts as articles of faith their judgments, that astonishes me not all; men seem to be made for the lie; without that it would be difficult to exploit them. Ah! Messieurs, I cannot paint for you the sentiments which I feel; It is not anger, it is not scorn, it is a profound affliction at the sight of the obstacles which are always opposed to the reign of the truth on Earth. It is then very true that God has delivered the world to the disputes of men; it is then very true that there will always be doubt and uncertainty, and that nations like individuals will disappear from the Earth, without leaving another thing, as marks of their passage, than vain opinions!
“And when a man in the middle of this chaos will come to say to the world: Stop your course here, the truth that you pursue is near to you, it has followed you everywhere, you have not recognized it; when you have thought to seize it, you only hold the shade; – this man will only obtain for prize of his virtue and of his happy genius exile and perhaps the scaffold.
“Let us drive away from us this sad truth; forget, if able, the history of ancient time, but let us mark with a burning iron the savants of our epoch who, less cruel than their ancestors, have not been more mindful of their honor and more friend of the truth.
“Let us make its torch shine to your eyes; that its clear life penetrate you, that its rays show you the false knowledge covered with with the overcoat of truth; it will be more possible then to impose upon you and make you believe a superiority which has only come from a failure of examination and from habit as you have left to others the care of ruling your destinies.
“What will become of our great doctors, if we prove to you just now that each individual has in himself a superior natural principle of intelligence in their mind and in their high reason? What will they make of their knowledge amassed with so many pains and cares, if it is soon recognized that in a brain virgin with their sophisms there be found what confounds them? And you, dreamy philosophers who think to know man and his destinies, tear up your systems, for when you have written them you had less sense than the last of the somnambulists.
“Ah! I sense how much my mission is great and fine, but I have no illusion, I know in advance the pitfalls and the dangers which are sown on my route; but what does it matter? I am strong with my courage, it will not abandon me; my only fear is that the weakness of my means do not offer you, Messieurs, such a defense as this great truth requires.
“Also, in this precinct, I make appeal to all generous men, and say to them: Magnetism is a powerful lever which can raise the moral world and the physical world; help me to make it move.
“If however my speeches do not find echo among you, Ah! I would be far from blaming you. I know too the empire of prejudices and of the vain systems which rule today, thanks to vanity and egoism of the scholarly bodies. But the light which they flee spreads despite them, they will soon hear of men foreign to all the sciences being spoken in perceiving them: These men have only passion for the old errors; they have recoiled before what could enlighten them; and believe that the lie must serve their interests, they have combatted righteousness and calumniated virtue.
“And when, under your eyes, there will be produced the facts worthy of admiration, facts that they will not be called to judge, because they will have lost the right, as everyone perceives the trouble of their soul, and remembers that the truth for the one who has denied is an iron which burns, a worm which flushes the heart.
“And when physicians will come also at their turn to complain that magnetism invaded medicine, and that without their ministry one healed their maladies, that it would be answered them: Mesmer, in coming among you, had thought you worthy to know his doctrine; he begged you, entreated you to examine the effects which he produced; he desired you for sole judges of his discovery; you published, without wanting to hear him, that he was only a visionary and a charlatan; and after having heard him, you have added your disgusting and perfidious epithets, and you engaged then the government to proscribe it.
“Later, enlightened men, recognizing the falsity of your judgments, Puységur, Deleuze and a hundred others, appealed to your lights, to your good faith; you did not want to hear them; your ears, deaf to the truths as your works revealed, only opened themselves to listen to the accusations made against them by those accustomed only to champion abuses. And when generous men came as far as your sanctuaries to try to convince you in healing some of your patients, laughter and sarcasm were the first welcome that you gave them. But forced to render you evident proofs that the magnetizers furnished you, you kept silence; and when it was necessary for you to justify yourselves with the denial of justice of which one accused you, you have then, in insignificant reports, avowed a portion of the facts, and, an unheard thing, you have not wanted to publish what you have recognized as true.
“However the truth, in spite of your shackles, parted from the circle that you had traced around it: magnetism, that you believed crushed, rose again after many centuries; but it is to triumph and to extend its wings on the world. Powerful genie who embraces the universe, ah! if an unfortunate fate has willed that you should long remain ignored, and that you fought battles, it is that your triumph might be more solemn!
“The public has read your reports, Messieurs; they have been printed and delivered, despite you, to the judgement of men who love to be enlightened; one has penetrated the causes of your reticence, divined your motives of hate, and apprehended that it had been necessary to you for six years to produce such a slender work, one has said that never in our days would the truth be welcomed by you, that magnetism, could not heal anyone, it would still be too important for the new day that it would cast the hydra from your systems, and that it would produce upset in the ideas that you have made with men and with nature.
“You have wished to hide the truth; but there arrives an epoch where the lie collapses of itself.
“Misfortune to those who have resisted so long the truth, because their defeat is more than ignominious!
“The truth goes straight to the point, it marches to discovery, it does not set forth any ambush; but every blow it strikes, it strikes justly.
“We will shake those who have impeached our intentions and misunderstood the will that we would do the good, and one day, all gathered, we will overturn the altar where the false gods are censed, the temples where one only sacrifices human victims, and tear off the masks of lying priests who receive offerings, we will show them to the crowd covered with the blood of their brothers and of their own blood; we will retake the power that they have usurped, power of life and of death that they have arrogated to themselves; and society, returning into its rights, will no longer be a herd of sheep as a body, as one calls the Faculty of Medicine, decimated at its fantasy without having account to render, even before its accomplices.
“You now raise again the statue of Aesculapius, place it under your porticos, but you recall that it was in the temples of this god that one went to sleep in order to find health, and that one no longer goes into yours except to die there.
“Magnetism! Power which emanates from the soul, power born with man and only dies with him, power which can come at the end of all, power which runs the extent with the rapidity of the spirits, and which strikes the object, however it be, to which it is attached!
“Supernatural power, and one that can not render in words; power which comes from the divinity and which renders man great, noble and equal to the gods!
“This power can, like lightning, strike man, and, although invisible, it is stronger and more powerful than all the physical forces that man has amassed.
“But it is necessary, to exercise it, as man has an absolute empire on all his thoughts.
“It is necessary that he be healthy from all impure thoughts, in order that no remorse prevent him possessing it in all its energy.
“O you then who wish to magnetize, reflect that this force is divine and that it cannot be allied with vice.
“Begin by purifying your soul, chasing away all bad thoughts, do not touch sacred things with profane hands, as the sole desire to do the good of humanity be your unique virtue, you will have enough.
“You will crush the head of frightful monster of imposture, and the lone enjoyment of having done the good will cause you to relish in advance good weal and the pure joys that the sages wait for at the end of their life. But do not thus deceive yourself, all these joys and these pleasures do not come without pain and without travail, keep yourself then in nonchalance; say to yourself: it is necessary, that I desire, and that an incessant action emit from your heart this principle of life, more precious than all your riches.
“As soon as the lazy man will stop wanting, his arms will cease to obey; do not complain of your weakness, one has always enough physical forces when the soul and the heart are in accord.
“The sage, who is really a sage, has always the forces of the soul which will receive from nature; death alone can remove them from him.
“Ah, well! Imitate him, be like him, do not let yourself carry trouble in your soul, when, armed with a strong will and full of confidence in the truth, you will find men who will treat you as impostors, enthusiasts, dreamers, perhaps knaves, even assassins; let your heart not be discouraged; continue to do good to men in relieving their ills and in spreading a simple and consoling doctrine; the sole true doctrine, because it reposes entirely on nature and on its immutable laws. By this step, you will win your enemies the same; far from fleeing them, go straight to them, ask them what is the cause of their incredulity, try to bring them to see the facts, show them the dutiful nature of your desires when they are founded on the good; if they do not believe then, submit themselves to your action, cause to penetrate into their organs the principle of life of which you can dispose; do it without hate and without anger, you will have more force; the least of facts that you produce then will be more convincing for them that all those which they have seen you produce on others. Teach them the mechanism of your action, tell them that the will acting is the first motive of it, place them then in the most favorable circumstances.
“Make it that they try their incipient power on children or on sleeping men, and when they will have seen these latter sensible, even from a distance, to simple movements of the hand, you will have attained your aim, you will convince the incredulous, you will then have to moderate his zeal. If he treated you as an enthusiast, it will be for himself the same, he will be more so than you, for you, you will know how you act, this will be your cold reason enlightened by experience and by the truth; he will not know it yet; you will see him provoking effects that he could not conduct; you will be obliged to aid him with your counsel, with redressing his errors and perhaps repairing the accidents of which he will be the cause; he will learn soon to read in the book of nature. He will sense then all that which is great, sublime in magnetism; he will cherish you, you will have taken away the bandage with which his eyes were covered, and his thankful soul will find, to pay the service you will have rendered him, expressions which will touch your heart, because there exists a moral at the base of magnetism, a pure moral like the divine essence. Ah! If those who feel could speak, they would express to you that which the mouth cannot render to you: the divine things are not made to be explained by man in his state of nature, because it is the flesh which expresses itself!
“Corrupted man, foul pulp, how do you want your creations to be sublime! You contest what the greatest geniuses have done because you can not sense their works. Blind, you deny the light because you lack the organs to see it!
“Seek then for a friend who takes off your fatal bandage, calls to your aid Providence, begs to change your heart and render it sensitive to the charms of the truth; without that you will die without having lived.
“Unfortunate one! Who does not believe magnetism, you have never then loved! You have never then had a friend, and pressed the hand of a brother! Your heart is then always deaf to the sufferings of others, and in yours there was never an open door for pity! Oh! If it is so, I conceive it, all men who do not sense have need of the matter.
“We stop to paint another sad tableau of the man who is occupies himself with no one who deserves it except the one who thinks as he!
“It is to you, men of right heart, that we address our doctrines; it is you that we want to convince: when you will be thus, ignorance and stupidity will recoil with fright, or they will even come themselves to bring you the tribute of their defeat.
“Listen, I will say to the good and sensible man who wants to occupy himself with magnetism: Do you want to know the pleasures which will be the fruit of your studies? I cannot designate them for you: it is nature itself which will be charged to give them to you.
“When relieving a patient at the expense of your life, you will see him fall into a beneficent sleep, interview him, he will respond to you: you will know from him the cause of his malady, the remedies to bring there, and becoming in turn physician, prophet, philosopher, he will instruct you by his lessons of all that nature has hidden from our feeble eyes. You will cease then to be in the common crowd; you will begin to become truly a man: the prejudices that education and time will have amassed in your intelligence will disappear by degrees, like the night at the approach of the star which illuminates us.
“Let it never happen to you the thought of abusing my secrets, and of making them serve vain experiments. Go, he is very crazy the one who plays with magnetism, because it is a divine emanation, and using it to satisfy a vain curiosity, is to commit a sacrilege!
“Magnetic sleep, sleep of happiness where the soul is disengaged from the body, where the soul hovers and seems to be flying! Nature is its domain, it tastes then felicity, the body is more its prison. Happiness inexpressible than any word can cause to sense! Word, echo without life, you can only give worthless sounds; the soul has another organ than you, but to hear it the ears are not necessary, it is a conscience, and then its language is so much more expressive as the flesh is more sleepy.
“How great must be those savants who wrote on the door of their temples: Man, know thyself! They knew without any doubt that which exists within our opaque and gross body. Nature itself had taught it to them, and if their secret has not come until now, it is only necessary to blame the pride of man and his vanity, because he believes he knows everything without having learned anything. He does not wish to recognize superiority, even the one that gives genius: and why then unveil the mysteries, if his heart is not compelled to sense this benefit and show himself grateful?
“It is not enough to be obstinate in the work: it is necessary then to know what leads to the truth.
“Thus, man has sought everywhere the means of preservation, he has thought to find in the inorganic bodies that to relieve the ills which afflict him. Thus, electricity, galvanism, mineral magnetism, have been vaunted as sovereign remedies for certain maladies.
“But a corpse lying close to a living body will not warm it again. Thus the dead fluid, in place of carrying life, as one has alleged, only carries in its organs a state of perturbation and a super-excitation always dangerous, because these fluids are certainly strangers to vitality.
“Always man has sought life where it was not: his nature contained it; he searched for it elsewhere! As he only then blamed his folly, if despite all efforts that he made to know the truth, the error was always at bottom of the crucible.
“It was always a scourge to humanity: ignorance and barbarism have always weighed on it.
“Ah! Keep yourself from confounding the truth that we defend, with infamous charlatanry which walks close to it! You will distinguish them by their works. Truth is simple, it marches straight and to discovery; the other is suspicious, stumbles at every step, and only asks for gold.
“Unfortunate condition of men cradled by the lie! Great children that we are we will die without having learned during our life another thing than worthless words. What remains of so many pains and cares? Doubt and boredom, nothing more.
“But you who wish to know, take magnetism, it is the door to the sciences. Knock, knock, armed with a strong will, it will open to you; but it is necessary that your desires be sincere and that thought of doing good accompany you without ceasing.
“It is easy by speeches to excite tribes to revolutions, to revolutions; but to express true things, sublime things, and to cause understanding of them, it is not the work of a single day, it is centuries which are necessary. Then, since antiquity most removed, men to whom nature has spoken cry to you: You have a natural medicine, superior to the one that the art teaches and practices. This one makes victims, the other does not do so, it does not know to do it. Medicine of the art is all conjectures; it has only vain systems for support, all fallible as man; the other is certain as nature, because it rests on one of its laws. It is the one of which we wish you to enter, and make you recognize the superiority.
“Ah! Believe in our language, it is sincere, and no desire to deceive you could enter our soul: it is the tribute of twenty years of work and of observations that we carry to you: Here, it is your cause that we plead, it is your suffering which touches us; it is for the truth, that we sense deeply, a protest by our mouth against some of the great errors of the human mind, and this error is medicine; because if one was obliged to cite the name of the victims that it has made, there would not be a library large enough to contain all the volumes.
“Ah! If this art is true, why then this fear which is experienced by the condemned unfortunates to go have themselves treated in your hospitals? Why this repugnance that pain still can not overcome? It is, like the fox of the fable near the cave of the lion, they see well to enter, they see poorly to leave; it is that they know, the unfortunates! All the experiences that they are destined to undergo.
“Your philanthropy is great, Messieurs, your cares are generous! If I dared to tell here the truth on all these things, if I dared to tell tests made daily, tests of which you boast among yourselves, and that your journals repeat sometimes, for example the potions of Bicetre [Hospital], of which eight unfortunates died the same day... Earth, they say, covers your failures! Ah! If there exists a supreme justice, and as one day we must render account of our works, Ah!, Messieurs, how much you will be pitied and how much suffering is reserved for you!
“Who will ever dare to say what happens in the amphitheaters [of the medical schools], the profanations which are committed there? Ah! I feel a profound horror. What then have they done to nature with the unfortunates who go to die in your hospitals, first to be mutilated and then sold? So then their dirty remains receive the burial which is due them! But it is necessary to have been witness to all that which you do, in order to believe all the miseries of man. Human justice, you are only a name!
“Let us draw the curtain on all the scenes where man learns to degrade his soul, all in receiving into his organs the poison which must, in a coming day, destroy harmony.
“Let us keep the silence of the tombs, and if we see things which would revolt the savage tribes, let us recall that in our country one encourages them, one even rewards them, and that they become a title of recommendation and a source of fortune.
“And this is your medicine! It is thus this art so honored and in which you have placed your confidence.
“Come, approach now; come to talk with us as we are in error; come, rejecting our doctrine, convince us of the superiority of yours; come, cause to approach this immense machine with its innumerable instruments; as we see it in a great day: enter into your pharmacies where one prepares this potions which ought to render health.
“You, patients, why do you tremble? Why is your heart like an agitated sea? Why this fright in the presence even of ministers of this so vaunted art?
“It is that the science of medicine does not go as far as promising you tomorrow, it is that it knows nothing to tell you on the duration of your malady and on the accidents which must accompany it. He, who ought to know himself well, knows nothing more about him, and has no confidence in those who profess principles so fruitful in happy results.
“Ah! This alleged science would be well ridiculed if it was not cruel! It is necessary however to render the physicians the justice which they merit: they have much science, that is incontestable; but once again it is not science which heals in medicine; to the contrary, the more a physician is a savant, if he is only a savant, the more he loses patients, and the examples that one can cite exist at every step. They have discoursed on all the illnesses with a very great knowledge, their theses were sublime, if you wish to consider their works, their efforts; they have devastated the plants, slaughtered the animals, dissected the corpses by the thousands, discerned the most subtle and most hidden parts, then they have flattered themselves to make their will endure the pleasure, and to stop the pain; it is there the aim of their art, of their science, of the works of their days and the dreams of their nights. They have made a moral where they have sought sovereign happiness, a medicine where they have thought to find a perfect health! Insane! As they consider that which to them returned with their chimeras; their false moral has wished to heal their passions, it has killed their soul by indifference, their medicine has wanted to heal your ills, it has killed your bodies by its remedies.
“I exaggerate nothing, Messieurs, and if there remained a doubt on the truth of this tableau, tell me to what use is the science of medicine during cholera? Has one ever shown more ignorance of medicine which heals? They were reduced to counting victims of this terrible scourge, and themselves, like the Orientals, seemed to believe the fatality, and stricken, they allowed themselves to die, knowing that their art was powerless. The heart failed in thinking of all these things, reason is offended by seeing so many of such poor merit, and the memoir which preserves the memory of so many of such recent disasters, recall to you without ceasing also their weakness and their negligence.
“There is your medicine, Messieurs. Now here is ours.
“We have spoken of pharmacy, but we have none; of machine, we have never known it. We have spoken of numerous instruments, we recuse the use of them. It is in our own forces and in our own organs that we will draw the whole principle of our medicine.
“We do not have like you a Body, a Faculty; our teachings are easy and can be made without dissection of corpses; our science is not a science of words, but a science of real facts, and we only have need of a language to deepen it.
“All our secrets repose in nature, and it is nature itself which teaches us; it is there that we have drawn them, and we are only the depositories. Also, this is only a sacred depot from which it authorizes us to spread the benefits, benefits that we must shed on all, and not on a small number.
“The rich have no more right to expect them than the poor, because both are submitted equally to its laws.
“This gift so precious as the one named LIFE, and which vanishes with us, there are our potions, there are our concoctions, we admit no others. It is in carrying into the body of others the principle which maintains life in our bodies, that we replace in the others the same principle which has fled.
“There are our secrets, there are our mysteries, mysteries which reveal all the power of man; mysteries which reverse all the systems that the centuries have amassed until ours, and which will establish, as I hope, the empire of the truth on the earth.
“Yes, we have already said, we want neither potions nor concoctions taught by the men of the art: we do not admit any treatment than the one which would be ordained by the patient, or by the one which, confused with him, feels at the same moment the same pains and the same sufferings.
“We go further then, we admit only, as capable of healing, those who can heal themselves!
“But, Messieurs, this medicine so simple and however so marvelous, as the ancients knew, and that they only transmitted to chosen men, has fallen into the public domain. One speaks especially of marvels that it bears; and men foreign to all the sciences produce phenomena which surpass in grandeur all that which the physical sciences offer that is most admirable.
“Magnetism of which we speak has been destined for all time to galvanise the dying body of a corrupt society, and why at our epoch would it delay its action? It is to you, men who listen to me, to second my efforts and to seek to know who you are. Here you can cast the anchor. An immense truth like all of nature will teach you that the desires of man can stop floating at the will of his passions, and that his doubts can be resolved.
“But we repeat it: man cannot know without work. It is necessary to plunge his soul into the mysteries of the immensity. Because all that surrounds us is mystery, and its life is the grandest.
“If he is penetrated with these doctrines, his soul will fraternize with the divine essences; because the soul seeks that which is the most hidden even to our senses.
“Ah! How this career is great and beautiful! Happy the one who can penetrate the secrets! They offer the pure enjoyments that one does not find otherwise. Penetrate in goodness, Messieurs! Come, follow us into our march, we will conduct you as a sincere guide, into this path that you do not know.
“I will take care to distance from you all which could repel you. I will teach you to discover the pitfalls of bad faith, I will strengthen your faltering steps, as far as becoming able enough yourselves, you will be able to conduct alone, and like myself, at your turn, propagate a truth which will never count for it nearly enough defenders.
“The call that I make here, Messieurs, can not pass unperceived. If by a culpable abuse of speech I have sought to spread error among you and to divert a blame not merited on a numerous class of science, my name will remain attached to the post of infamy; but if I have spoken the truth, the negligence which you would carry to defend it would be then be inexcusable, and you would have no right to complain, then your turn would arrive to be victim of the false science that I have signaled to you.”
Casting, as I did in my course, the seeds of the true science on this fecund terrain, I was no longer without perceiving myself as it had been until then the principle the better path to follow. That it be permitted to render myself proud here with my courage and my perseverance; and if the certainty of having done some good and of having contributed to the spreading of a consoling doctrine must be my sole recompense, one could not take it from me, because it based itself on more than twenty years of an obstinate travail. Will the men who will soon come to reap in the field which I have had to clear have at least a thought for him who wrenched so many thorns? No without doubt, they will enjoy calmly and happily, complaining only to be obliged to bend down to pick up the ears [of corn].
Very few magnetizers had been engaged in the fight with the Academy; most recused themselves, although desiring ardently the triumph of magnetism; it is as to the essence very few men are disposed to make sacrifices for love. When ridicule can reach you, one sees recoiling men who would not flee before a sword. One was, moreover, warned against the physicians, one had had already so much to complain of them! Their conduct had been in so many circumstance so partial, the facts that they had been invited to verify had been so misrepresented by them in the records that they had made, as it was to which it would not be presented before the commission. Humanity, honor, make a duty to the magnetizers to brave all in order to justify and extend their belief, but only three or four presented themselves; if this was enough to convince the commissioners, this was too little to furnish a great quantity of materials, and it was necessary to overwhelm them.
A new newspaper, Hermes, had been created to defend magnetism; it is in this record that one can read the sad debates of the Academy.
My favorite occupation was to make students magnetizers, to teach them what a long practice had caused me to discover good and useful in magnetism, and, stimulating their zeal for the science, in showing them a simple and easy method for magnetizing with product, I made useful instruments for progress.
I avoided in the discussions all that carried the name of savant; to convince by reasoning was not my share; I knew otherwise, by a cruel experience, that the savants would not use magnetism; those that I had been able to convince recoiled even before the idea of giving any publicity to that which they had seen; and to the reproaches which I had made to one of them of the pusillanimity of his conduct, “What do you want?” he responded to me, “I like tranquility better than truth.” Another had his clientele to preserve; that one having numerous places to fill, there remained for him very little time for delivering himself to new researches, and almost added: “What would they say to me if they knew that I occupied myself with magnetism! In fact, they had all tried to render this science ridiculous.”
Messieurs the savants, I know your sincere love for the truth, I have known to appreciate your philanthropy, it is fine and well intended; men who believe you the natural guides of humanity do not then doubt themselves that you are merely merchants who only esteem science for that which can yield gold or honors! Yes, it is necessary that you do for humanity what can be translated into money; the rest touches you little, and you leave to the fools, as you call them, the care of making true philanthropy, reserving however the honor of reward to you, because it is what distributes the prize of virtue to you.
Resolved to leave Paris, and to endeavor to proffer the truth after having spread it in the provinces, I wanted however to try a final effort. I wrote to the Institute in order to read a memoir where I prepared to make some experiments under the eyes of a new commission of academicians; but weeks, even months passed without my being called; finally, at the end of four months, my turn came when I thought only more of my voyage. I read however this memoir. It read as follows:
TO MESSIEURS, MEMBERS OF THE INSTITUTE.
“One of the members of the celebrated body to which I address myself has said in one of his writings: ‘Truths well recognized never perish; time neither wears nor weakens them.’ Justice of this axiom applies perfectly to animal magnetism, of which I will nourish you for an instant.
“Glimpsed by all peoples, but more specially described in the latter centuries by a great number of physiologists, animal magnetism or rather the property which organized and living bodies have to act on each other in virtue of laws which are not yet well known, this faculty so evident for those who have sought to recognize it, has always been fought by the savant bodies, and rejected as a chimera, in spite of the efforts of a great number of men of merit who would seek to direct minds toward the study of a discovery so important.
“However, Messieurs, those who act then in regard of magnetism have studied with ardor the phenomena of light, those of electricity, of galvanism; they seem to have completely delved into the nature of all these fluids foreign to vitality, and the surprising effects of the vital fluid continue to be entirely unknown to them; all these phenomena which can cast with such great lights on the knowledge that we have of man have been put aside as not meriting a serious examination, one judges with an inconceivable prejudice.
“You yourselves all recall, Messieurs, the great quarrel which took place in 1784, then with the arrival of Mesmer in Paris and with the publication of his system. The greater part of the savants of this epoch would give opinion on this question; the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Medicine, were called to examine what Mesmer claimed to be a discovery, and to enlighten the government and the world on the effects resulting from the application to the treatment of the maladies of what one called then mesmerism.
“Bailly, Lavoisier, Franklin, Jussieu, and many other illustrious savants were charged with this mission.
“You know, Messieurs, the judgment that they carried on magnetism; they examined at first the system of Mesmer in all its points; they recognized its lack of solidity; their arguments were found without replica and thence the system of Mesmer crumbled on all sides.
“The resulting effects of magnetization were at their turn examined; after having recognized that there was nothing exaggerated in the account that was rendered daily with it, the commissioners bore on their cause a judgment which was less happy in its results than the one carried on the system, well that this judgment was full of force, of logic and of ingenious explanations.
“One soon recognized that in placing in other conditions that those which had been admitted as necessary, one could obtain the manifestation of such sensible effects, and thence the new explanations of the commissioners were no more regarded as hypotheses than facts, which, in their turn, were reversed.
“There was then still nothing resolved, but all made to hope that the truth would not delay being recognized, because above all one multiplied the experiments, and the facts produced were unfavorable to the conclusions of the report.
“You know it, Messieurs, a much different struggle than the one which had caused magnetism occurred in France; one had then other interests to defend that those of science; the partisans of the doctrine of Mesmer and those who had judged were forced by the circumstances to suspend their works; science was exiled for a moment, but this moment brought great modifications in the direction of the minds; the questions changed with the epochs, and magnetism, which had stirred profoundly the savant bodies, fell not into discredit, but into a forced forgetting, because the people who had purchased from Mesmer the favor of spreading the knowledge had disappeared from the soil which had seen them born.
“With time the truth was spread anew among us; France was a second time seized with a question which had vital interest; and if the enthusiasm was less great at this second appearance, it was also more durable; one studied better the effects of magnetism, because one experienced them with less prejudice; new discoveries also carried great changes in the method that one employed for bearing the phenomena; thence the study of magnetism had no longer anything repulsive.
“However the greatest number of savants affected a very great indifference in the presence of the facts; fortified with reports of their predecessors, they used them as a shield, for imposing names, European names were thus engraved.
“But, Messieurs, what can the authority of names do against real facts? What can the condemnation of Galileo do against the sublime truth that he unveiled? What can the arguments of the contradictors of Harvey do against the circulation of the blood which does not stop to circulate? And it was necessary for me in a more recent example to show you how many of the judgments have been broken by time, there existed one hundred thirty examples of “rock falls” sufficiently observed, and however one contested still the reality of the aeroliths [meteorites] that as so many proofs should have been established with an irrefragable manner.
“All the denials carried against the existence of magnetism do not prevent its effects being manifested. Everyone who wanted to be sure of his reality found the means to achieve this goal. But, by a rare anomaly of the sciences, it was in the men who, by state or by position, are in general foreign to scientific researches, that the discovery of magnetism found an asylum and was welcomed.
“It is by this channel that the truth climbed to the foyer of which it had primarily descended, for if one counts today a certain number of partisans of magnetism in the savant bodies, it was in obscure individuals that they drew their beliefs.
“You will welcome, Messieurs, I do not doubt, the truth, when it will appear demonstrated to you; and it is for you to facilitate the means to achieve this aim that I come to propose today to you to render witness of some experiments which seem to me, by their nature, not to be subject to any contradiction.
“Thus, Messieurs, it is not the question judged that I propose to examine anew; there are no more old facts that I wish to submit to your judgment; it is not a question of baquets, of crises or of somnambulism. I give up all the marvels that one has thought recognized in magnetism, and, while adopting them and holding them for true, I leave others the care to convince you.
“I come to solicit your examination on the facts which draw nothing from the physical order, facts which appear to manifest themselves in the same manner as those produced by electricity, galvanism and mineral magnetism, but which are not due to any of these agents, because none of them is put in play; our organization alone produces them, without the concurrence of any combination and without any contact.
“I am going to explain myself more clearly: If the numerous phenomena of which I have been witness, and which I have caused to birth, have not deceived me, they furnish the proof that our brain can, by the intermediary of the nerves, dispose of a physical force which has not yet been appreciated, and that this force, directed by the will on an organized individual like ourselves, can produce in our organization physical phenomena which are only manifested when the cause is put in play, and which cease as soon as that one ceases to act.
“This agent seems to me to produce a veritable saturation of the nervous system of the individual who receives it, for the effects do not take place instantaneously; it is necessary for a certain time o produce them; they are manifested by shocks which, themselves, only are renewed at intervals more or less lengthy.
“These movements are entirely automatic; the one who experiences them does not have the consciousness of them, it is entirely foreign to their manifestation; the will will not enjoy any role there, and I only accept, for the complete success of this experience, as a entirely passive state on the part of the patient when one acts on him.
“This condition, Messieurs, is easy to meet; at each instant we can observe it; it can not have any subterfuge on my part nor any error on yours; it cannot raise any discussion, it acts with purely physical facts, of which you alone will appreciate the causes. That it is for me animal magnetism or the nervous fluid which is the agent of these phenomena, does not matter at the present. It is only for you to recognize if the phenomenon exists, and if it is produced by an agent absolutely independent of imagination, of animal heat and of irritation of the skin, as I assure having recognized and observed it.
“If I justify what I announce to you, we will have opened a new route to the observers, found the natural explanation of numerous phenomena that one no longer denies today, but that one regards as produced by accidental causes; we will have justified the insights of Messieurs Humbold, Bogros, Reil, Authenriet, and many other savants who seem to admit the existence of a nervous fluid, and finally enrich science with a discovery of which the importance is beyond all calculation.
“The question that I propose to you to examine does not present, I repeat, any obstacle; the experiments can be made at any hour of the day; the places where one can multiply them are numerous, for we will experiment on children in young age, and in conditions that I will make known to you subsequently.
“This examination neither requires from you, Messieurs, nor abandons your beliefs, neither renunciation of any of your opinions, nor even sacrifice of reason. It only asks a little time to be made, could you refuse to examine?”
Baron Du Potet.
Such was the memorandum that I read to the Academy of Sciences 3 August 1835; it was heard with sufficient attention, and Monsieur the President named on the field a commission, composed of five members to examine the facts that I wished to submit to the Academy: MM. Double, Magendie, Serres, Roux and Dulong were the savants designated for this object.
Six weeks passed without any notice to me that these Messieurs were disposed to receive me and to hear me; I did not, therefore, think it necessary to postpone any longer the execution of the project I had formed of leaving Paris. Here moreover are the experiments that I proposed to make before this commission.
I remarked, one day as I magnetized a patient in a room where a child was sleeping, that magnetism acted on this child in his cradle, in much increasing his respiration and in producing the agitation in his limbs; when I stopped on the patient, the child became tranquil again; and the agitation occurred again to be noticed when I recommenced to magnetize. This observation and some others made in approximately the same circumstances, but on strong and robust men, who in their sleep experienced the magnetic action deeply, left me no longer doubts on this singular phenomenon that no magnetizer then had perceived. Henceforth I was impressed to make researches, and I lost no occasion to magnetize sleeping beings. I always saw marked effects produced; sometimes they were even so pronounced that they brusquely caused awakening, as if the sleepers had been touched by a lightly charged jar of Leyden.
Sleeping animals offered the same phenomena. Thence nothing was easier than to make the experiments having a character of certainty: it sufficed to be transported into a hospital, even in full day, and at any hour the hospital of children would offer us subjects of experimentation; another, without doubt, will produce what events have not allowed me to accomplish.
I was leaving with joyous heart and filled with fresh illusions that give a good conscience and the certainty that one possesses a great truth.
The obstacles that I was going to encounter, it was for me to conquer them; after all, I said to myself, it is only necessary for the eyes to be instructed with magnetism; the savants of the provinces have perhaps less prejudice than those of Paris. If those have been deaf and blind, this one comes perhaps that they live in the great center of lights; far from it I would encounter without doubt, those who, less stunned by noise, would be more accessible to the truth; but alas! I had forgotten the proverb: everywhere men look alike; and the savants especially, I could add today!
Here are the names of persons who, at Paris, who were instructed at my house in the magnetic science: [A list of 106 men follow in original text.]