Jules du Potet de Sennevoy

Magnetism Opposed to Medicine

Magnetism in Bordeaux
(January 1836)

Then, if one finds a means to do good everywhere,
that people had no need of physicians and of remedies,
we would applaud this discovery.
And if it was proved that there are principles and elements
of medicine in vigor up to now, which prevent,
by their falsity, this happy discovery,
we will say that these principles and these elements
have been fatal to humanity.

Soon, when we have told all to you,
the dread will seize you.

I thought to find at Bordeaux the elements of success for my propaganda; I rendered myself there on leaving Reims: Already in this city magnetism was known: M. le Count de Brivasac had made there numerous experiments, and if they were not totally convincing, at least they had prepared for me the ways in disposing the minds to examine it.

I began by the public lectures where I signaled the causes of incredulity and indifference affected by our adversaries to the subject of our science. Soon I saw hastening to my teaching a crowd of distinguished men, and receiving from the most part of them encouragements, I continued my attacks.

The Journal of Medicine no longer denied magnetism then, but it reject the greater part of the curious phenomena that somnambulism offers. This conduct is and must be the one of the physicians of all countries.

They deny the phenomena which accompany somnambulism, as if they were not the rigorous consequence of the torment of the body of the sleepers. What! You admit that fermented liqueurs produce incomprehensible phenomena; you admit that opium causes effects most singular yet and strange aberrations of the brain, and do not want to admit that magnetism, this agent so active, so stimulating of life itself, and to which all the vital and nervous forces obey, produces the attested phenomena by so many respectable people! One thing reassures us happily, it is that you have denied at first the principle itself, you have rejected the existence of magnetism, and that later you have been obliged to retract yourselves. Today, forced to admit it, you contest the principle facts which accompany it. Your step, we now know it; we are assured that you will admit one day that which you currently reject; you will then no longer have repugnance for the entirely new facts which could arise, because they will perhaps be then contrary either to your interests or your suits.

I opened practical courses of magnetism, and eighty persons were enrolled to follow them. My new students had soon acquired the conviction that I exercised a great power on most of the men that I magnetized, and this conviction rendered them easier the use of the means of which they had seen me taking such a great part. Each day someone among them produced some new phenomenon, and each day also the enthusiasm of the my disciples was growing.

In the philosophical conferences, I gave out glimpses of the future of the new revelation; I engaged all my students to love one another, to practice the good in the silence and only to demonstrate to our adversaries in order to show them healings of maladies on which medicine had been impotent.

A gentle fraternity was soon established among them, as I had desired. They had the idea to form an academic society for tightening the lines which already united them; but it was a mistake without doubt, because not having a common thought, and each interpreting the facts according to the extent of his mind, interminable discussions became necessary to take place and to present division and disorder where harmony alone should have reigned. The Society [of Harmony] at Paris was dissolved in this manner. The magnetic societies would be only durable when the philosophical doctrine that magnetism allowed to glimpse would have been formulated and accepted by the intelligence of all.

Among these new magnetizers there were found those who warmly served the cause of magnetism. In a hundred locations in the city, experiments took place, and each day a good number of people acquired a conviction that the sophisms of the savants and the physicians could no longer destroy.

In my latter instructions I said to friends that I was going to leave soon: Have a great thought when you magnetize; have enthusiasm; it is necessary that your soul be moved by the love of humanity, by all which is sublime! It is necessary to call to God in the distress which will arouse ignorance and bad faith. – In calling to God; this thought which will revolt our modern skeptics is for me full of the future. My dear friends, the light comes from on high, man turns alway the eyes toward this superior region; when he searches for truth, it is there that he carries his regards. Magnetism causes comprehension of God, it gives more than conscience, it initiates you to Him.

Believe in the good, the new truth must render man better and more humane; the moral laws of humanity are written in whole in magnetism and somnambulism. All the legislators of antiquity have drawn from these sources of living waters. Who will thrill to be possessor of such a great secret! What! The man holding in him the principle of all things! His life, this little blue flame, is at his disposition; it can lose a part without being too exhausted, and when it gives by the procedures what I have made known to you, it remains often at the surface of the body of the who receives it, it torments him agreeably, it passes and repasses by waves on his skin, sometimes it escapes suddenly and loses itself one knows not where; but often it finds a part of the body less well kept, it enters then fiercely in this new domicile as in its own, it carries there your will, your desires and renders us absolute master of the house, well that the proprietor be there. An able physician uses sometimes a narcotic to cause sleep in one whom he wishes to render insensible to pain: magnetism does still more, it deprives the man of the self, the soul patrimony which pertains to him on the earth; but this beneficent genie gives more than he takes. Before leaving it regards whether all is in order, if all is not at its place; it works itself to put it there; it goes, it comes, it disturbs, looks right, left, and its work finished, it departs without even the memory of the good which it has done; it takes away only the impurities of the house; it has cleaned the stables of Augeas. But as to virtues it is necessary to be a good magnetizer, and what tender harmonies one should draw with an animated human machine by an able hand! The sounds drawn with a violin by Paganini are nothing compared to the harmony which will result from two souls then put in rapport, because there all will be divine, this will be the concert of the angels raised up to God.

Then, seeking to guard my students agents the dangerous art that one names medicine, I showed them that, although our science was in its cradle, it was however already capable of liberating from the yoke that this art had for too long placed on us.

When nature is powerful to heal an illness, is it such that all efforts of medicine are not useless? – We know this, they said.

A lamp which is extinguished for lack of oil, do you think it will not be illumined again if you add some? – Why then thus do you submit yourself to an art of which the insufficiency is so well demonstrated to you? We believe that God has given no more light to men; but now we perceive all the weakness of the science that you report to us. These apostles in effect are subject to all the illnesses; none of them know to protect themselves from the accidents which accompany and menace life constantly; they are impotent even to govern it. – That one then alone is truly physician who knows to heal himself.

How important are Greek and Latin, and the admirably formulated orders? It is not science which heals, that serves only to mask a charlatanry which gives gold and estimation.  What is there more necessary in this life? – Life and health, is it that someone considers their value?

After having passed in review the ills caused to society by false medicine and lying philosophy, I hoped for the future; but this future could not exist for me and for those that I taught; it was permitted only to see it in thought.

Yes, I said to them, far from this sewer and from this manchineel [poisonous] tree, still flows a a weak source; its water is limpid and fresh, some drops desalt you and make you smile at life. This water comes from Lethe without doubt, because those who in drinking forget for an instant their ills and are reborn to hope. To find this source it is only necessary to be simple of thoughts and to practice the good; magnetism is the route, the will alone causes it to happen there; would you not wish to do it then?

How much I have suffered in order to get it here! Because the path was unknown to me, the men whom I asked about it always deceived me, and when I followed the beaten path, I stumbled at every step. It was necessary to have courage to persist, but the more I advanced however, the more I was certain that a great truth would be the reward of my perseverance; and possessing finally this truth, all has not been sorrows in my life. Pure enjoyments of the soul, I have tasted you! How many times have I not seen death fleeing at my approach, and life returning into bodies worn by the disease and remedies! Oh! No, it is not a dream, the fatal sentence had been pronounced, nature itself had abandoned the fight. The lamp was extinguished, I poured oil into this lamp; it was lit again to glitter for some time. This oil was my life, it was this fire which circulated in me, and which lit me in that moment; it was this spark which goes out from my eyes, which goes, quick as my thought, carrying life and health into organs invaded by the cold of death. O delicious scenes! Who dared to try to paint you? It is the soul which comprehends you; word can not render you. Fresh serenity which is born as the result of a good action, you grow from that which you experience. Oh! It is there only that man believes himself the image of God on Earth, and that he understands well the immortality of his soul.

Physicians, you were taken back, all your pharmacy had not been able to furnish you a drug to prolong life. A being without science, without any physical means, having only for him his conviction, placed himself at the bedside of the dying; he concentrated in himself, he gathered the forces that you do not know exist, you, direct them by thought on the body that you abandon to him, he warms it, reanimates it and gives nature an aid which prevents it from succumbing. You deny the work of this man, you overwhelm him with your disdains; the patient, more just than you, holds his hand, he smiles at him and in this mute language that you have the misfortune of not understanding is found the reward of a very simple action without doubt, but this action raises this man above you and gives him a friend.

No, you do not know more to heal the ills of the body than the priest knows to heal the ills of the soul; that is not learned in a school of medicine or in a seminary. You, physicians, your God Aesculapius, the one to which you raise the altar was divine and healed the sick in indicating to them in dreams that which was necessary to do in order to be healed. All the physicians of this remote epoch were divines, that is to say seers. Your divine Hippocrates himself avowed that he owed a part of his knowledge to the lights which came in dreams. How would you know to heal, you? Not one of you delivers yourself to meditation; you have, it is true, formulas for all the maladies. You forget then that your first pharmacopeias were composed in the ancient temples, and put word for word on the ex voto [hangings] that the thankful patients had suspended on the walls of the temple. Your medicine today is a thing of fashion: that which was good today will be bad tomorrow. What does it matter to you? Each delivers to you his life with an indifference truly admirable, and death or life they belong to you. Go, cut; but what should affect you however, it is that you are submitted to the same regime. As you have treated the others one will treat you yourselves; and your confreres will have no more worry about you than you have had with them. The earth, this vast Clamart [French city], never says: It is enough. Oh! Culpable indifference which breaks the laws of nature! Will you continue to reign among men? Will no effort of the human spirit be attempted to extricate them from this apathy?

Cry, cry, mourning mother, over the death of a son robbed of your love. It is not the Parque [divine master of human destiny] who had marked the instant of his death; but as your tears dry up, you will have need later for your spouse; because the same hands which have prepared you, under the name of concoctions, the poisons given to your child are not inactive. See the pharmacies all resplendent with light; there, in those with vases as of alabaster, in those golden crystals are laid the alcoholic extract of nux vomica, hydrocyanic acid, morphine acetate, prussic acid and a thousand other poisons, all destined for you to be given as remedies; the art does honor to it, nature is frightened of it, because it has never claimed to heal by similar means. It is for the frightful suicide that one has prepared them, and their inventor should be dragged to condemnation.

Where do you go, young girl all resplendent with freshness and adornment? In you all announces perfect health. You believe in a long future of happiness; who could doubt it? Because you do not have twenty years. The ball whence you run with your companions will change into sadness the joy of your parents. This fresh wind that you breathe with so much happiness, take guard, it is death. Some hours of pleasure will have withered this tender flower which barely flourishes. Oh! It is not the pleasure which kills, it makes for living to the contrary, when it is moderate; it is the frightful bleeding and those leeches that one places by the hundreds for indispositions which would be nothing, because some hours of magnetic treatment would make them disappear entirely.

Now, draw your languishing and withering life, the fearful consumption devours your organs; Your life! It has run away with your blood. There is no more time to add to your days: they are counted; tomorrow you die, you die while it was so easy to give you life. The hand of your mother could do so more than science and your Aesculapians. This hand paraded on you with art, in adding to your forces, gave to nature the means to reestablish in your organs the harmony that an accident at first light had deranged.

No, no, medicine will not change methods, if the foolishness of the patients is not enlightened by so many teachings. Time teaches nothing more to men; they are old; it is in vain that the truth seeks to make the day. Their heart, as the Earth, seems to be cooled; like the Earth, one must pierce the strata to a very great depth to find there the heat and the life.

Unhappy the man who feels the truth and who dares to speak it! His life is only more a long combat, he fights naked against the armored adversaries, he must succumb in the fight.

I left from Bordeaux with the certainty that I would serve better then the interests of magnetism, if I was going to have my actions judged by inhabitants of a city in the middle of which were our more violent antagonists.

Here are the names of the persons who followed my course of magnetism at Bordeaux. [A list of 88 names follows.] Some other persons should be added to this list, but I do not know their names.

MOM Introduction

People Medicine