Jules du Potet de Sennevoy
Magnetism Opposed to Medicine
Magnetism in Reims
It is the human gospel!
The soul who knows to read there is queen on the earth;
It supports better, ardent, calm, austere,
The rigors of the way.
To conquer it is necessary to fight.
Reims, where I had a friend, was the first city that I visited; scarcely was I arrived had I do fight with enemies that I did not know, and who slandered me before having seen or heard me; having done nothing then to attract their anger, I found the process more than inconvenient, although little new for me; but I was in province and I believed that my lift would be smoother; it was to the contrary going to become more active.
Charlatanry, falsehood, trickery, were words which circulated in the city, and magnetism was the point of sight with everyone who believed himself educated. Always the same insults cast in the face of a man, that ended by becoming insupportable to him; he turned around at the end to see who launched the outrage at him, and when he perceives that they are the same ones who have the most need to not attract attention on their person and on their false systems, he wonders why he should use such discretion with adversaries so backhanded; but soon he feels that his force is much greater in bringing a prudent conduct. He does not act here, in fact, with a philosophical or religious doctrine; they are simply physical facts to examine; the denials, the scorn on the one who produces them proves nothing; it is necessary to finish by having reason if you are not strong enough to prevent his demonstrations; in this case he has the right to show his enemies in the crowd and to avenge himself; if he does not do it, it is as he has understood that it is necessary to illuminate the men without degrading them, and that it is only when the truth is solidly established that the innovator must make known the obstacles that he has encountered, in order that other men, carrying new truths, know in advance the fate which attends them, and the dose of courage and of patience which they must possess to establish them.
Soon I put myself to the work in this city where I only knew one person. A man, named Charier, machinist of the theater, suffered horribly from a serious malady which held him bedridden for several months; he languished in prey to deep pains which had their seat in the joints. A nervous fever had, by its continuity, wrecked his forces, and this unfortunate one could not take a single step, several of his neighbors carried him into a shop that I had chosen to serve me as a hospital.
Hence the first magnetization, an abundant sweat produced the relief of the patient. At the second, he began to feel his forces return; at the fourth he could walk, and twelve days had not elapsed that the city, looked over him, resounded with his cure.
The sweats, the nervous trembling and a commencement of magnetic sleep were the sole effects which were manifest during his treatment.
They came to me with other patients, and were so happy to succeed immediately on some. Henceforth my success was certain. Soon one saw the incurables of the city come running: more than eighty were enrolled to be treated by magnetism; as many distinguished people came to be witness to the processes by means of which I obtained the prodigies that they already vaunted everywhere, and, wishing to produce them at their turn, they begged me to open a course of magnetism and to wish them to be admitted.
Nothing was more curious than seeing the treatment that I had established. Every new magnetizer had many patients to treat; these patients were were magnetized at the same time in an immense room, at the sight of the people who wanted to be witness of this spectacle. Here sleep was produced, there the attacks of epilepsy which I provoked with intention to show to my students the means of healing many of these illnesses, in exciting the fits and in thus using the sensitivity.
One saw the paralytics, in whom the limbs frozen for long years were warmed under the hands of men convinced that the source of life which was in them could be poured to the outside; fevers, from which the fits ceded without the aid of bitter concoctions. Here and there, lucid sleep came to increase the enthusiasm of my new converts, it was by one of them who would express to me most gratefully his gratitude for the pure pleasures which I had succeeded in procuring for them.
Soon magnetic medicine, that the classic physicians had declared with their sufficient authority to be charlatanry, was recognized as so positive, that those who practiced it accused the real physicians to be only charlatans.
Finally I won on my part as far as to the editor of a newspaper, M. Beranger, who, himself, obtained such extraordinary effects, that he thought dangerous to go further, because I had taught him that, past certain limits, no guide was assured.
What occurred, during this time, with the physicians of the city? Alas! There laughter had ceased. It was no longer the charlatan alone that they had to fight, but all that the city contained of the respectable, because the under-prefect himself came to thank me for my success.
“We produce what you have contested, one cried from all parts to them; no longer then deny, for you would discredit yourselves to our eyes. Study rather a powerful means to act on the sick and to cure them. See, all those that you have not been able to relieve are between our hands; more than a hundred received every day our cares, and it is we who accomplish the duties of your state.”
I saw for myself this salutary advice; many physicians came to beg me to do for them a course of magnetism at the hospital. I had, in this circumstance, to silence a very pardonable repugnance, and only listen to the voice of my heart which always made me pardon the insults.
I had in this new teaching the majority of the physicians of the city, and all the students of the hospital.
The first subject that they gave me to magnetize was a young girl who, for three or four months, was in a state of nervous delirium, having sometimes fifty or sixty convulsive attacks in a day. During her attacks, she sang, screamed, and, apostrophizing one after the other the patients of the hospital, troubled night and day this place, already so full of pains.
The first session offered nothing remarkable; and, during the time that it was necessary for this test without apparent results, my auditors were saying among themselves: “Is it that magnetism would not succeed here as in the city? Perhaps have we too good eyes?”
The second day, nothing sensible yet: the patient sought to give me blows of the feet and to spit in my face. The mirth of my auditors showed me plenty what was their desire and the state of their mind.
The third session was near to its end, and no symptom of magnetic action then yet made to be seen; I heard the jokes that they afforded on me; I was at the point of sight the jesters of the assembly; the forced cough of some, the yawning of others, all announced to me that I had lost the confidence that the story of my works had been able to inspire. Finally, when I no longer waited for anything that day, and as I thought of the punishments of tomorrow, at the moment finally where I was going to finish this test, the young girl fell suddenly into the most profound somnambulism. More sensitivity, more hearing, more vision, although the eyes were covered, and this body experienced through me, and through me alone.
How happy I was then with astonishment, I could tell the stupefaction of my auditors, for they had just passed from the most absolute disbelief to a conviction so much stronger, that the facts which were the base had ceased to be probable.
I who, an instant before, was only being scorned, or all the least worthy of pity, I found myself then to be a sincere, courageous man possessing a great power; but my new converts had caused to buy dearly the change of their language.
The experiments continued for some time on this young girl; pistol shots were made unexpectedly near to the auditory canal, but her sleep was troubled not at all; they pinched her, they pricked her, she felt nothing; her eyes remained open an entire hour without a single blink, and while she sang to us in a delightful manner the canticles and the songs that she had learned during childhood, we saw many times the flies walking on her eyes and the edges of the lashes, without exciting the slightest movement of those parts.
While I produced then marvels on the unfortunates affected with maladies of all kinds, ignorant and animated persons of a false piety spread in the city the noise that having magnetized a patient placed under the image of the Christ, I had been thrown backwards. “You are warned of this secret full of horror. I leave to a scholar more than I to elucidate what there is of the diabolical in all this; as for me, as I do not wish to deal with the spirit of the darkness, whenever I see one of these magnetizers coming, I would say frankly to him: Vade retro [go back].” Thus ended a small brochure published against magnetism.
The attacks of my young patient were all previewed and announced by her; she indicated with precision the diverse changes to which her constitution had to submit, and she left at the end of three weeks from the hospital in full convalescence. It was one of the merchants of the city, M. Didier, my student, who charitably welcomed this patient to his care and completed her treatment.
It is in this same hospital that I recounted before thirty people the story of a magnetizer who had abused his power in assassinating in a duel a brave young man, but who could not secure himself against an occult force of which he was no doubt unaware. Seized by kind of vertigo at the moment where he put himself on guard, this unfortunate young man could not defend himself and was killed basely by his adversary. My story found many unbelievers, when seizing at the instant a sword-cane that was carried by one of the auditors, I gave the sword to an intern of the hospital, M. Mopinot, I think, and kept for myself the scabbard. Then armed, I walked resolutely toward my adversary physically much stronger than I, and soon they saw him totter; his eyes were in a state of strabismus and his legs bent under him; it would have been easy for me to kill him without the least resistance. The spectators no longer then thought my stories exaggerated, and certainly no one of them dared in that moment to seek a quarrel with me.
This was not bad to begin my new career, and the success indicated to me the route to follow then to assure the triumph of magnetism, for leaving more that two hundred defenders of my cause in a single city, the truth could no longer be muzzled there.
My course at the hospital had been begun 5 September 1835, it ended on the 23rd of the same month. Here are the names of the physicians and student who followed it. – Physicians, MM. Savigny, Chabaud, Lejeune, Philippe, Hennequin, Panis, Henriot, Langlet, Duval, Petit. – Students, MM. Mopinot, Goulet Bonnard, Robinet, Dubois, Griffon, Cagnet, Colignon, Urban, Charbonnet.
Many distinguished merchants who had not been able to follow my course in the city were joined to the physicians of the hospital; among them were found MM. Didier, Givelet, Sandelion, Dudin, Champagne, Jacquet. Sixty-six other persons had followed my first course. I only possess unfortunately an incomplete list that I give nevertheless here, for it contains names which are very dear to me. [A list of twenty-five names follow.]
Some days after as I had stopped my experiments at the hospital, one of my auditors, a distinguished physician, in sending me the price of the subscription to the course, wrote to me a letter which terminates by the paragraph following:
“Receive, Monsieur, in my name and in that of all my confreres, the thanks which you are well due, for the helpfulness with which you were ready to enlighten us on the phenomena of magnetism. Will you please also well believe the sentiments of esteem that all those who have had the benefit of knowing you, and of which I am happy to be the interpreter on this occasion. Your devoted confrere, Petit, D.-M.”
I parted, leaving, I can say it, with friends in great number. The testimonials of sympathy that I have received from them have often penetrated me with the regret of the power not to settle me in this city; but pushed by a secret force, would I have ever been able to stop there where I found rest for my spirit and fresh affection for my heart?
Scarcely had I left Reims than I received a letter which forced me to return there precipitately. This letter read as follows:
“My friend M. Du Potet, I do not dare to say my dear friend, because in truth you have, without wanting it, done us too much harm for me to give you this name; and for another side, you have taught us, at the rudimentary state, a science so powerful, that the name of friend would go badly from disciple to master.
“My friend M. Du Potet, we all are, or almost all (I wish to speak of those who have obtained success in magnetizing) in a great embarrassment; many have produced somnambulism without great efforts, but as a result of the somnambulism are developed appalling phenomena.
“Return to Reims to conclude the instruction begun with your students who are more or less in confusion. If there were only the students, this would be nothing; but the beings on whom they experiment then are women, living beings: this lone word will determine you, I hope, to come to pass some days then in our city; in all cases, please send me some mail instructions by mail.
“Adieu, Monsieur, I have not the strength to be angry with you, but I recommend you prudence for the future; I keep all my scorn for our claimed savants, and beg you to accept my cordial handshake. Beranger.”
The facts of the unregulated somnambulism were manifested. They gave me the circumstantial details on the acts of folly of which magnetism appeared to be the cause. There arrived at Reims that which always presented when a magnetizer, little sure of himself, let go to the sentiments of fear and terror, in perceiving the new phenomena which confounded his reason. The trouble with the soul of the magnetizer caused then to be felt into the body of the magnetized one, in a manner to occasion serious disorders of his organization. But all these facts soon loose their gravity. The first precaution that is always proper in take in such a case, is to stop the magnetizations of the timorous magnetizer. Thence the serious symptoms disappear a little like those of intoxication. If they persist, it is necessary that a new magnetizer not fear to momentarily aggravate the ill in magnetizing anew, and the magnetic principle of which he disposes, much different than the first, soon chases before him as far as the memory of the disorder which were manifested.
I rendered myself immediately to Reims, and I found many of my friends in consternation. Two women were sleeping for some days without it having been possible to entirely awaken them. The troubled imagination of the magnetizers created for them monsters which had for the somnambulists all the appearances of reality; and in the middle of this disorder one saw appearing phenomena of incredible lucidity. One of the women saw all that her magnetizer did, although absent; she intercepted his secrets and was capable of then revealing things most hidden.
I quickly magnetized the most disturbed of the two somnambulists, and we immediately perceived a favorable change in her state; I could even induce her to talk quietly, as also with the person who was the involuntary cause of her trouble; and then commanding her imperiously to forget everything, she herself informed us that these images flew from her brain. Thence she assured me to no longer see them, I awakened her brusquely. She was well. – But in the same day the accidents reappeared; a second magnetization was necessary, and that one was sufficient. The calm did not delay returning equally in the bodies of the magnetizers and those of the magnetizees.
My magnetic education had been, from the principle, accompanied with the same anguish and the same torments; but no one came to my aid, and it was necessary to seek alone the remedy to the ill that I could cause. Fear then had rendered me very unhappy; however this fear did not prevent me from delivering myself again to the study of magnetism; and becoming more master of myself, I became master of others, because it is there the whole secret: “Be master of yourself, if you want to be with the person you magnetize.” Ever since I had discovered the cause of the somnambulic disorders, the least accident did not happen; but I had often been called to destroy those which were caused by less advanced magnetizers.
In sum, magnetism has dangers; however it has not killed anyone yet. Could the physicians say as much of medicine?
How much time was necessary for me to modify the spirit of a great city? Six weeks at the most; but to arrive there, I had to produce the events by the hundreds, and my forces had responded to the need that I had had for them.
The good for magnetism which resulted from this mission is incalculable. Of good and estimable young people, who were made to teach magnetism, propagating it with an ardor equal to mine. Many among them, in their journeys, neglected no occasion to speak of what they had seen and of what they had produced. The whole course and diligence were for them a tribune whence every day the most sincere and most persuasive speeches were given to support and vaunt the new truth. Then, joining example to precept, they provoked somnambulism everywhere to the astonished eyes of the incredulous spectators.
In the presence of all my students, many healings have taken place solely by the magnetic forces; I recall two only here because I will have occasion in another work to come back to the cures that I have operated.
I change nothing to the story of these two healings written under the impression of the facts; they retrace perfectly the disposition of my mind, and will recall to the persons who have been witnesses the curious phenomena offered by the patients the entire truth of my description.
Magnetism not being of properly called medicine, my language must differ from the language of medicine; it would be impossible to me, without that, to render account of the phenomena that the magnetization has made appear as if they were supernatural!
The first case of healing was produced on an epileptic, large and robust man, carpenter of his state; his attacks were frightful to see, and attacked once or twice a day; it was necessary then for many persons to hold him. – He said to us later that he had, before his treatment, resolved to commit suicide.
The second healing has taken place on a young equally epileptic woman, of twenty-four to twenty-five years. – The attacks were extremely frequent, seven to eight per day. During her treatment she lost one of her children, and the deep sadness that she felt has not caused the return of new attacks.
What do you want, whose athletic strength far exceeds those of the vulgar? Your malady does not show itself; you are suffering, however, since you come running on the sound of our renown trying to make you heal? What is your illness? You do not dare to name it? Epilepsy! Cruel play of vital forces, your virility only serves to render it more terrible and more durable, and the remedies are ineffective to cause it to cease! You come near to me without hope, because can I counter you illness? You know that I do not give remedies, and your reason is not going as far as to conceive that one can heal without making use of them. “God has chosen the weak to confound the strong;” in an instant one will see you fearful as a child, you will tremble with all your members and you will shout thank you! The doubt and a laugh of incredulity will flow from your lips; you measure your forces to mine? You do not know what acts with a fight of two souls, and that mine has won the prize in a hundred combats. You thus are warned now; resist if you can the sensations that you are going to feel. But already your limbs tremble, your voice becomes wavering, and your entrails seem to make effort to break their envelope!
Everything is moved at this spectacle, because the fight is terrible; what is then the demon which agitates you? Is your life going to be broken? Oh! You are only weaker than a reed on which passes the storm; in an instant you are to redress yourself and seek in your memory that which has given place to this strange scene. Vain efforts of your mind! You will discover nothing. There will only remain for you the memory of my power and the secret presentiment of the good that it can do you.
Now, more frightened that you were later, those who observe are asking with anxiety what is this power which can, at will of the one who possesses it, strike at a great distance the most robust and the most resolute man, and playing then to say with this force, in arresting the effects, to lessen them and to remove even the memory that produced them; and not finding valuable reasons to explain similar phenomena, they shouted: “It is the power of the Christ.” [Note: A physician, M. Hennequin, had said to me before more than thirty persons: Monsieur, you have the power of the Christ!]
Weakness of the human mind, it is necessary for a god to explain what you do not conceive; at force of searching, outside of humanity, truth, force and power, you end by straying.
Man of little sense, because you see me enter into the body of another like into a vessel without a pilot, and govern it at my will, you suppose that there is necessary for me an intermediary, and that this intermediary can only be divine. You examine then! All that which passes in you is magic [Note: Magic, science other times so honored as Plato, in the Charmides, calls it the true medicine of the soul, which acquires from it a perfect tranquility, the body a fine habit; and to Premier Alcibiade, he put that it was taught to the children of the great kings of Persia, by their theologians and philosophers called Mages, in order for them to learn to mold their control, etc.]; God willed it once, that is all. How much your ignorance troubles me, because at each instant you form the ways, and I know all their powers. Oh! Do not raise yet the curtain! There is too much malice among men to divulge such a great mystery; the sages of antiquity had reason to test them before calling them to the initiation.
Return very quickly to that which the common can know; we question the human machine that we come to agitate: a trembling deafness, molecular, attests that an agent has crossed it; the face is solemn, the eyes brilliant, a pulse very developed. At the sight of all these phenomena, there remains to the man, who wants to use his senses to examine, any doubt on the power of man.
You see now what is our work; do we only produce a curious phenomenon without utility for the sick? Why is the latter better? Is it an illusion of his mind? No, no, nature does not play with the instruments that it has created; in it everything is serious and has a purpose of utility; its means are so numerous that our ignorance is great. It is no more extraordinary to see a man fall suddenly sick than to see him suddenly heal. We do not cry miracles at the sight of works of a man, nature alone makes miracles, and it is only in imitating it that a man can render himself superior to those who contest his power.
You will heal then, unfortunate one, because nature wishes it, since it has rendered you sensitive to my action and has put me in rapport with it.
It is I who is going to furnish the materials of repair that it alone knows to employ; the work is done, and already the frightful project that you had to commit suicide has disappeared from your thought; your dreams of better days, they will come for you soon, because your attacks depart; the taste of the work is born again with your forces, and your wife smiles at you again.
Later, you will only recall the frightful state where we have found you as one recalls a painful dream; you will bless above all the beneficent hand which has prevented it from continuing, and if you sense all the importance of the benefit, you will call me, I who write your story, you will call me your friend; it is the lone title to which I aspire, the sole reward that my heart desires; go, I am very happy when the voice of my soul has found an echo.
MAGNETISM! A truth great as the world, the first who could describe your marvels will merit an immortal distinction.
But ordinary language will oppose for long times still obstacles to the narrative of the scenes of magnetism. It is necessary for new words to paint the new sensations, and the genius who must create them does not yet exist.
And you who refuses to come near, what is the ill which torments you? Again epilepsy, evil more frightful than death. You cast dread on your neighborhood, and the mother makes her children flee when she perceives you; you cause shame to yourself, because you see the fright that they feel when you appear.
Curses then to the science of the Aesculapians, because it can do nothing against your disease; it is an ill without remedy, one says, the grave only heals it. You are condemned to wander on the side of the roads as long as you have a shadow of reason; but soon becoming an imbecile, it is in a hospital that you will terminate your fearful career, and you will have appeared on this earth so as to cast dread there.
Come, take confidence, hope with nature, it can not itself break its work before the time; relieve your heart, even cry, it is a beginning of its benefits. Fear nothing more, my soul has found yours; go, go, they are well to complain of those who have no remedies for your illness, because they are ignorant themselves, and our language, simple as the truth, will not touch them.
Do not speak more of poisons that they have given you, the list is numerous, I know it, but you will take no more. To these vapors which mount to the brain, I will only oppose signs sacred like your disease; and, soon to master directing at my will the attacks, if I make you suffer, do not fear, the pain is often a benefit. Compare now: right now eight robust men could not contain you, my word suffices truly and casts to waves the serenity in your soul.
Why then a change if you submit? Am I then a god for you? No, no, as your mind does not impose, I have only one strong will and the sincere desire to make you well; nature seconded has done everything, and the product of the fermentation which exists in your organs has found an issue.
Fresh emotion that gives the truth, happiness without mixture which follows the man who possesses it! He knows that in preaching the good he reverses those who live with the ill, but his compassionate soul calls them to share with his joys; he would like to see them return from their errors; he complains to them if they persist there, and his eyes search them then far when his voice has been impotent for holding them back.