Jules du Potet de Sennevoy
Magnetism Opposed to Medicine
Magnetism in Montpellier
What is a science which is no more today
than it was yesterday;
which, by turns, vaunts, as much of oracles
Hippocrates, Galen, Boerhaave,
Frederick Hoffman, Brown, etc.;
and for all to say finally,
what is a science of which one has asked,
not if it was,
but if it was possible?
Why are there so many more pharmacies than bakeries?
It is necessary to nourish the body and the patient.
Montpellier became the goal of my holy crusade; it was a field of dangerous battle, because I had to find myself there alone in face of a corps of medical elite entrenched behind the great artillery of the university. But this very danger smiled on me, I had otherwise the feeling of my forces, and I found it glorious to introduce the truth that I possessed in this old sanctuary of the old medicine, in this place so formidable to patients.
Why would I fear in fact if the truth walked with me? Why would I flee the savants? They have only in last resort arguments to oppose the facts that I can produce under the eyes of all. – Such was my reasoning and I walked resolutely towards this hive without honey.
I arrived promptly, because the baggage of a magnetizer is not considerable, his pharmacy holds little place, and his instruments he carries all in a pair of gloves.
I endeavored to put the processes at my side, in going to make a visit to the Dean of the Faculty, M. Dubreuil, and in asking him the favor of his intervention with physicians of the Faculty, to obtain from them the entree of the hospitals which they directed and to make there public experiments for the instruction of students. My step, I ought to say, was found suitable to Monsieur the Dean, and he assured me that my proposition and my request would not encounter any obstacle. In two days at the latest, he said, you will have a response.
M. the dean came to see me the next day after my visit, but was carrying to me bad news; he had found everywhere the door closed. What! It was said by one of those Aesculapes, “You serve as patron of a magnetizer! How,” another said to him, “a juggler would find near to you protection and support!” Finally the more insulting speeches for me were convened on him. In repeating them to me, M. Dubreuil found severe words to blame the conduct of his confreres, because if magnetism was charlatanry, nothing was so easy as to do justice by examination; if to the contrary it was a useful truth, not to study it was the height of unreason.
M. Dubreuil engaged me to choose another means of spreading the truth and making known my doctrine. I had seen before the response of the physicians of the hospitals of Montpellier, and I was well resolved to dispense with their assistance. I began then by making posters to inform the young men of the school and the inhabitants of Montpellier, so as to prove the existence of animal magnetism, I would do at my own house, every day, experiments and demonstrations on patients that would be brought to me.
But already they had painted me under colors so favorable that not one individual came to know what was in question, and if in fact I carried a truth. What is the point? The charlatan could not have access in a city where medicine is so well established, in a place where true science caused each day a golden rain to fall.
A week passed then; however a student, M. Chabaud, came to find me. – This young man had heard talk of magnetism and he desired to be enlightened on this discovery. I engaged him to bring some of his comrades to me and at the end of five days they came in the number of six. To incite them to study magnetism, to destroy the false reports and the injurious suspicions that one had spread on my account was the business of a few moments, and putting myself quickly to work, I magnetized one of the young men who became almost immediately sensitive to magnetism.
The next day, in place of six students there came a dozen to me; two days later more than thirty had asked the favor of attending my experiments. Finally in a fortnight was not elapsed that a hundred fifty young men came together to listen to the lessons of the new science that I brought to them. – Only representing the truth in the middle of so great a concourse of young men, it was then very powerful this truth, since they all welcomed and offered the greatest attention to the addresses by which I sought to render them familiar!
Alas! Such a fine success was followed much with tribulations, and I had to buy dearly the privilege that I arrogated to myself, to spread the science for nothing.
How! A stranger, a charlatan, gathered a hundred and fifty young people, when the able men and the masters in the art of healing can not assemble twenty-five or thirty! The faithful sheep leaving the fold and going for adventure looking for another pasture than that of the university sheepfold! Had the voice of the shepherd lost his empire? Why this emigration and how to recall to reason young people seized with a kind of vertigo?
The first means employed was remonstration and counsels; “I was a dreamer who had not even the merit of being a physician, I had failed everywhere. The alleged science that I taught had been judged and condemned, and those who extolled it were imbeciles. ”
However some professors, unsure of their facts no doubt, came to pay me a visit, but at night with fear of being seen, and after having cause with me for a long time they still returned; I found this step in little harmony with the addresses which they held in the city. – But I did not attach them to my aim nor to my projects. In the moment where I believed myself more assured of some tranquility, I received from M. Gergonne, the Rector of the Academy of Montpellier (28 April 1836), a letter in which this functionary asked me if I had an authorization to teach, and in this case that I had to communicate it to him. I responded that I had no need of any authorization, since my science to myself, the one which I professed for twenty years, had nothing in common with the knowledge that the university possessed. I added that my being open to all the world, it was easy to assure that I spoke true, and I engaged M. Gergonne to honor me with his visit.
I received soon an injunction to cease all my conferences, with the menace of a descent of justice if I prolonged them further. I warned the persons who rendered themselves to my house of the intentions of the Rector, assuring them at the same time that I would not discontinue my experiments, and that I was decided to run the chances good or bad that my determination could bring. I had the right for myself, my cause had at the end to be recognized just, at least I thought so.
I continued then my course; my hall of teaching was a great grove where we sought to make a shelter for ourselves from the heat of the sun. There, surrounded by my students, I tried to persuade them by simple and sincere stories, not caring to efface the men who opposed me, because I suis am convinced that many of them have merit. I wanted only to cause recognition of an important truth, combatted maladroitly by the men to whom it was especially given to take advantage. There was no gall in my addresses; they were pacific, though my adversaries would have given me bitterness. Peaceful, I only was preoccupied by a fear, that of perhaps being below the mission that I tried to fulfill.
I was in the middle of one my latter public lessons, when several policemen were seen by the students; and all soon raised themselves from every part with shouts of “to the water the commissioner! to the water the informers!” These cries had carried the trouble into my soul; and when I saw a frightful tumult and the resolution that seemed to have taken the student to execute their threats, I, so resolved in presence of my enemies, I, so calm when I received to burn-for-point their insults, I fell into a state difficult to describe. My blood was frozen in my veins. “Stop! Stop!” I cried to my students. Messieurs, I said to them, these men I take under my protection; they are here the envoys of power, no reproach can be addressed to them. I want, I demand of you that you bear their presence; our conduct is innocent, do not go to render it culpable; do not render impossible by your anger the good that I can do still. And taking the chairs which were around me, I engaged the agents of the authority to sit there. The poor men were more dead than living; the pallor of their face announced the fear of which they were seized; one of them however wished to speak in order to calm the storm which growled them. “We are here at the repose of France,” he said, “but you are tranquil, we see it so, and you have nothing to fear from us.” The murmurs redoubled, and he understood that it was wiser to shut up.
I was not reassured on what was going to happen. The whispers of a hundred and fifty young men, far for the city, because my house was distant a quarter of a league, the movement impressed on the sticks with which many students were armed, all inspired me with fears; and I would have then even more if I had been instructed in that moment that the young men who found themselves at my house had old grievances against the agents of police, who many times had annoyed them in their pleasures.
I engaged the agents to listen to my teaching, to make their report faithfully, and to return if they found it suitable.
I finished this lesson at the middle of an apparent calm, then I accompanied the policemen as far as the door of my domicile, and then barred the passage to the students who, in leaving immediately, would be able to do them a bad part.
From that night, I received from an official the counsel to leave, and to go find another city more favorable to the success of my ideas. The advice was sensible no doubt, and reason dictated it: Poor human reason that each believes having to share, taking you every day for guide would often be pure folly! I remained at Montpellier, and I did well, as one will see later. The next day I received a subpoena to appear at the correctional police; I learned at the same time that a score of students were cited as witnesses. The stamped paper had not been spared, because one thought without doubt that it would not be up to the courts to pay the price.
I engaged my students to hide nothing of the truth. – I was assigned to respond to an offense of teaching, and the penalty which could affect me for this first time was a fine of a thousand francs. But what reassured me a little on the sequence of my process, that I learned that my judges were the friends of my enemies, that “the business had been arranged under the mantel of the chimney,” and the article of the code which would be applied to me, marked at the corner of the page which contained the law.
Men privileged of nature, you who do not know the pains of life, you for whom the greatest suffering is a laborious digestion, you could not comprehend the pain of a man, of whom all the moments have been dedicated to useful researches, in seeing himself conducted before a court and obliged to defend himself for an action which he regarded as an excess of virtue.
Pacific magnetizers, you who see the passage of time without your taking are of the unfortunates that science leaves to die and that your art would save, come to me to recount you prowess on some people who could pass from life that you cast to them with full hands, I would say to you: “You have done nothing useful, while the triumph of the truth of which you embrace the cause is not assured; imitate me, knock courageously at the door of science; if it is not opened; break it; and on the forehead of men that you would find in the sanctuary, write trickery, lies, and incapacity; then alone you will merit good.”
Although I did not know the judicial forms, although I was not an advocate, I resolved however to defend myself. After having listened to the prosecutor of the king whose word was ardent and elevated as if he was acting with a great criminal, I involuntarily recalled the fable of La Fontaine, The Animals Sick with the Plague. – “The donkey of this fable which was sacrificed was no more culpable than I; because if it had chewed with the breadth of its tongue the monk’s meadow, I had only passed over the domain of the university; only, it is true, I had walked next to the beaten path, and trampled a few weeds.”
I took the floor at my turn and pronounced the advocacy which follows.
“Messieurs judges, I come before you to avow a fact which honors me; I come to say to you in face that I have dared to brave the university of Montpellier, in calling, despite its defense, not only the youth of the schools, but the entire public of this city, to the narratives of facts which must be known to all.
“Yes, Messieurs, I have dared to speak before a great number of people what I have done for science and what anticipated me.
“I have dared to solicit public examination, not with a doctrine, but with extraordinary phenomena that the savants of your city ignore.
“I must say to you, the youth have come running and you will one day have to thank them. They have wished to form an opinion on a thing outside current science; they have wanted to know if the discredit thrown by the savants on magnetism had been in knowledge of cause. These young men have wanted to use their senses to examine; and disdaining, for an instant, the traditions of the school, they have run to see the new phenomena which pass all belief. Can you condemn me for this fact?
“Is it a course of medicine to which they have attended? But if I said yes, a peddler will stand up at the instant against me for betraying myself, good that however magnetism heals without remedies a great number of maladies.
“Have you then the goodness to say to me what I have taught? You do not know anything, you could not known anything, and the university is no more instructed than you. Those that I have initiated will soon say it to you, because you will go yourselves, to be enlightened, to assist at their experiments; but when they will want to be explained before you, you will see their trouble, because will lack the terms; it is not yet to make magnetism understood.
“If you condemn me to have made knowledge of a sixth sense, you would condemn Paganini for having played his new sound with his instrument; the abbé Parabere, because his organization made him find the sources?
“And the first man who magnetized a bar of iron and presented it to the crowd, was then guilty also? No, no, there is no law for those who reveal the unknown.
“You could only compass me with the law of associations, because I have received more than twenty persons at the same time. But I will come toward you full of confidence; I would recount naively to you what passes at my house, and you would find nothing blameworthy. I mix neither politics nor religion; it is not a new dogma that I try to spread, but a most useful thing, the discovery of a physical force of which the foyer is in our own organs; is it a motive to condemn me?
“Would you condemn Galvani and Volta, if they came to show you the incredible effect of a pile of metals diversely superimposed? No, you would have been the first to attend their experiments; you would make the ways so that a similar discovery was useful to humanity, and encourage with all your power the experiments made by men enlightened who enrich science with a beautiful discovery.
“And if the first one who made an electric machine had appealed to the public to be witness to the marvels of his instrument, would you punish that man for not having asked the University for authorization to produce his discovery at the great days? Harvey and Jenner would not then find grace before M. the Rector? One proving publicly the circulation of the blood, the other making known the benefits of vaccine, could not then, in our time, establish their discoveries! But the judges who would condemn these happy children of genius would have been delivered to the laughing public, and like the judges who condemned Galileo, their blackened names would have survived the time! In what am I then more guilty than they, and why would you condemn me? Is it for having spread ideas contrary to good mores? But words were never more moral than mine. I teach men to make a noble use of their life. Then once, is it for me to be mixed with political affairs? What I teach is distant from the discussions of that kind. Is it finally for having fought with the University on a science of its domain? No, a hundred times no; the University has never spoken of magnetism and has not magnetized. If one sleeps at the University, it is a natural sleep, and not a lucid sleep. Have some of the members of this body come to speak at this assembled body: ‘The art that we teach is entirely conjectural; but there is in nature a thing ignored by the greatest numbers, a principle superior to our reason. The one who knows to employ it, will he be in the last rank of society, will produce superior marvels to the works of the greatest genie.’ Oh! No, the University has said nothing similar; it does not know what magnetism is, and, while in other countries one studies with care its effects, one only speaks here to fight it and turn to ridicule those who believe.
“By what fatality has been driven the able Rector of the Academy of Montpellier at me to defend teaching a discovery which does not exist, according to him? Does he fear that I abused by false facts? But the error today can not endure long. If my experiments are made at a great day and on my own students, I cannot have accomplices, and if I do not have accomplices and I am not a charlatan, what man is it then M. the Rector? The University does not know what passes at my house; the phenomena that I provoke are unknown to them; and it will make me defend however to do and say whatever that be! But it seems to me that if I can walk without any authorization of the minister of public instruction and of the Rector of the Academy of Montpellier, I can also magnetize without their consent, because to walk and to magnetize are two natural properties of man.
It is true, Messieurs, that I question on the consequences of magnetic phenomena, I have stammered what my feeble reason had seen. But could I be only a physical machine, and would I regret not being mute? Perhaps I have deplored before my listeners the blindness of the savants, who leave to a lost child of the sciences the care to accomplish their task. There will be without doubt the crime for M. the Rector. But you, Messieurs the judges, you could recognize the offense that one has reported to you, and condemn a man, because this man will not have wished to bend unjustly the head under the throne of M. the Rector.
“Your good sense will even say to you that to ask that such an authorization had been, on my part, not a mark of weakness, but an error of judgment; because, once again, magnetism is not currently a science. It is neither physics, nor chemistry, nor medicine, it is a discovery which surpasses in grandeur all the sciences.
“A great number of savants believe so much to honor it in rejecting without examination; time will give them a severe lesson. One day, the discovery of magnetism will make the glory of the schools; physicians will employ then the processes that they condemn today. Your judgment, however it be, Messieurs, will not be forgotten, it will accompany the history of the fight that magnetizers have had to sustain; it will pass in this manner to future generations, and will recall to them the ignorance and the intolerance of the savants of this time.
“Montpellier will remember my fight and my efforts to destroy prejudices. Montpellier will remember that I have been cited to the bar of one of its courts to have me justify a virtuous action. And when, among the inhabitants of this city, new apostles of the truth will appear, one shall know how to tell them that if they found the road united, it was because a laborious man had come to tear away the thorns.
“Messieurs, if my conduct is culpable, justice has then done its duty very badly, because there are twenty years that I practice magnetism; there are ten years that I teach it at Paris under the eyes of the University, which has found nothing blameworthy. What I have done a Paris, at Bordeaux and in other cities, under the eyes of authority, could certainly be done at Montpellier. But no, my domicile has been invaded by agents of police: what have they then seen? You wish to know it? They have seen at first many young men listening to a recitation of magnetic facts; at a second visit, the same agents have found thirty four young men communicating with me and questioning me on the discovery of magnetism; at a third, oh! it is very different, the commissioners have seen a young man sleeping, and near to him seventeen young men examining with attention the singular effects of magnetism; is that an offense? And if it is an offense, it was necessary, at my house, at Paris, to seize the members of the Academy of Medicine and of Sciences who render themselves often in great number to be witness to the scenes of magnetization.
“It was necessary, as one has done here, to take the names of persons that I received; it was no longer then students, but serious men, the men who exercised the first magistracy, renowned physicians; it was necessary to bring them to a court as witnesses of the offense that I committed, and to make me a crime of having tried to enlighten them, or of having received their lights, because many practice magnetism with zeal.
“It was necessary, when with the somnambulists I rendered myself to the Academy of Medicine at Paris, provoked by several of its members, to make the police intervene, because it is there above all that I sought to explain and to make magnetism understood. It was necessary, for twenty months, when, under the eyes of the University of Paris, I dared, before more than eight hundred persons, to present the tableau which offered with marvels the discovery that I propagated, to seize me in the act of teaching.
“Later, when professing at the Atheneum of Paris, I tore from our great savants the mask of false science, it was necessary to arrest me and to conduct me before a judge.
“And when, in a circumstance most memorable of my life, scarcely then on the benches of the school, I provoked the physicians even in their sanctuary, daring to submit myself to public experiments before a great number of auditors, all competent judges, gathered in one of the first hospitals of Paris, the Hotel Dieu, it was necessary to arrest my hand which healed a young girl reduced to the last degree of marasmus and condemned to die; it was necessary to take me, and, for the price of a good action, to condemn me to a fine or to prison, because, in any of these circumstances, I had not asked for an authorization.
“But one has not done it to me, one was not able to do it. One can not prevent a man from giving evidence of what he believes to be a new power; one can not prevent a human being from speaking on the properties of his organization.
“To shut up a useful truth, is to my eyes a crime; to fear the savants that this truth dethrones, is a great cowardice. But it appears that the savants of your city are like the inhabitants of Ephesus. ‘If among us,’ they said, ‘someone wants to excel and find a new arts, that he be banished, that he go elsewhere to bring his superiority and his lights.’
“Because, Messieurs, in a country where the inhabitants would have been enlightened and generous, after having given authentic proofs of my assertions and of the truth of which I call myself the interpreter, it is a civic crown that I should have received for reward of my long works, and not a citation before a court like a man accused of a bad action.
“It is not then before you, Messieurs the Judges, that I should wish to appear, it is before the assembled University; my plea would have been much easier, I should have been on my ground; the little lights that God has left me would have served me; I would made all those old faces blush, I would have reproached those men who believe savants to be disloyal to them and to deny them justice.
“But one can be a good philosopher and a bad advocate; one can defend the cause of humanity and not want to defend himself, because I could prolong my defense. But have I to fear? The justice of my cause reassures me completely!
“Whatever it be, it remains, your judgment, it will honor me. If you acquit me, it will be said that a generous man came one day, in the face of an old university body, to make known to the youth a new truth, ignored by the savants; that this man, denounced by men devoid of virtue in order not to dare avowing the facts which reverse prejudices, found enlightened judges who knew how to recognize the hate of the savant, searching to be sheltered under the mantle of the law. If you condemn me, your judgment, far from withering me, will overwhelm then more men who follow me; posterity will not pardon them, because the facts that I produced were only opposed to their lying systems, and my practice had not the character that required the law to be submitted to the censure of the University.
“Still a word, Messieurs, and I have spoken. It is not only a grace that I ask of you, it is your severe justice; but, for the honor of your city, do not cause that one day it can be said: ‘M. Du Potet sacrificed his interests, his affections to spread generously a useful truth; he came to Montpellier, believing to find there enlightened savants, he found judges there; everywhere else the savants welcomed him as brothers; here they were inhospitable to him, and they gave him disgust!’”
During the deliberation, I experienced an indefinable malaise, because if an unfavorable arrest could blemish me, it prevented me at least to follow the route that I was tracing. It closed equally the career to men who would wish, like me to combat in full day the enemies of the truth, and assured, for a longer time the triumph of men who, under the mask of deep knowledge, deceive humanity that they exploit.
The judges pronounced my acquittal in basing that my “art was not a science, but only the exercise of certain natural processes which were no more condemnable that those that one sees each day at the theater and at the public places.” Thank you, Messieurs.
Joyous with this acquittal, although it equated me to the hustlers and tour operators, I regained my house with the design of no longer irritating my enemies and of no longer attracting their hate. But, foolish as I was, their anger came with my success, their hate for me patients that I treated, and who, already, acknowledged the best, when with all the resources of pharmacy the able physicians had only known to aggravate their ills.
I could not then, without dishonor, leave this city, where, in every man that I encountered, I believed to recognize an enemy.
I announced new practical courses of magnetism, and sixty young men were enrolled to follow them, for a certain retribution. Other students had later to be initiated to this science, and henceforth the future presented itself the color of rose, because my reputation had to grow with the magnificent works that my students would produce. But here still I had counted without my hosts.
Scarcely had I begun my course than the police, who knew the route to my house, made a new descent on me, and “observed, by verbal process, that there were in my salon a great humber of young men well awakened, and two only deeply sleeping.”
Soon a new rain of subpoenas came to swoop down on me, because the rector had called the royal court, and it was necessary anew for me to come justify my actions.
How did it happen then that I who does not occupy myself with politics, I whose doctrines are far from discussions of this kind, I be tracked as a revolutionary, like a carbonaro [secret fighter]? Did I teach by accident subversive principles of morals? Ah! No; my addresses are marked in the place of morals, of wisdom. It is not that the government which makes to pursue me, it is not the public safety which requires that one causes me trials, it is a coterie that I have come to trouble in its sugary quietude and in its traffic with useless drugs.
“The people believe our lights, the drugs are sold by weight of gold; if everyone can become a physician, then it is necessary for a few medicaments to be healed; the art which prescribes them aplenty and the one who prepares them are then harmful to men. We chase far from the city this stranger who carries with him a science so dangerous for our interests; to what good is the truth which he advocates, if those who surround us believe our infallibility?
“The patients, up to now, have they refused us blood and gold that we asked of them? No, it is a right of our art that they believe imprescriptible; we prevent the light from reaching to them, and in order not to appear culpable it is necessary to strike the innocent.”
Thus reasoning without doubt were those who made to prosecute me. They acted to find out if the royal court would re-form the judgment of the first judges; they counted thus no doubt, because without that, what good would an appeal do? I appeared a second time before the justices; what an honor for me! I was not already more of a charlatan, and do you know why, dear readers? It is that to condemn me it was absolutely necessary that I was a savant; also, what evil occurred to the advocate general to arrive at proving it! Nothing was more difficult in fact. However, good will bad will, I had to be a savant, because without this title I was white as snow. “Happy the poor in spirit,” had Jesus said. – I had that day to recognize the sublime truth of these words.
My friends informed me that before mounting at the court my condemnation was decided, and I had some reason to believe that the opinion was correct. What revolution operated then in the mind of my judges, since this time yet I obtained a complete acquittal? I can not believe it.
Here is my second plea, for before this court as before the first judges I did not want an advocate.
“Messieurs, What is then this blind obstinacy which pushes certain men to prosecute, from court to court, a man who is only so far justiciable by public opinion?
“Before pronouncing some words for my defense, will you believe, Messieurs, that I am profoundly blessed by the conduct of the savants of your city in my regard, and by their small urbanity. It is a process so ridiculous that they have done me; because, Messieurs, it is not before you that I would appear, but before a jury composed of physiologists and of physicians. They would observe if my assertions could be justified by the facts; and, in one or the other case, in according me praise or blame, they would enlighten minds.
“But you, Messieurs, what have you then to make in this great question of the existence of magnetism? The University, not wanting or not being able to judge it, finds then more opportune to cause the intervening of justice?
“Your judgment, whatever it be, Messieurs, will strike the savants very differently than myself. It will remain to attest their intolerance and justify, once again, a fact unfortunately too true: it is that every man who carries a new truth is necessarily the enemy of those who have not had enough genius to discover it. The history of the progress of the sciences offers everywhere examples of the ill will of the savants, because there is not, know it well, a lone truth which has not had against it the most enlightened men of the kingdom where God had inspired it.
“Leave there the savants. They will not hold me to account however of my moderation, because my cause is so fine, my good way so evident, that I could here change roles, and accused becoming accuser, and that without offending you, Messieurs, because you are the defenders born of the oppressed.
“There is only asked one thing of me, Messieurs, a simple avowal; have I taught or not? The sole grief appears that they reproach me, it is the word Course, employed by me causing to come to my experiments people desirous of knowing the new phenomena. The rest, one attaches no importance there. Whatever I teach be true or false, the University mocks it; it has nothing to see there. A fine light suffices to its anger; a thousand francs, with defense to produce the truth to the great day, that is all which is necessary for it.
“Undeceive yourselves, Messieurs, on this faked sweetness! If I say true, then I am not an impostor, the great savants, at the head of science, lie in their teachings; and this good M. Gergonne will find himself even backward.
“But, Messieurs, do not envision here this cause as under the first point of view; the University soon will divulge secret sentiments which caused it to act in this moment. The law can it reach me for a bad word employed, and am I destined to become victim of the poverty of our language?
“I hope to make you recognize in an instant how many of those who have denounced me are deceived on my account. In reading my program, they have thought to take a savant in the act of teaching, and they have only made to observe, by the verbal report of their agent, the fact more material of my practice. The police have found at my house a man sleeping, and many young men examined this curious phenomena. But, Messieurs, I have never hidden myself; my doors have always been open; I have nothing to disavow; my acts and my speeches will be revealed to you at this instant.
“Listen then. What I teach is unknown to me in its nature, but it is the means to seize the most robust and most resolute man, and make him an automaton.
“It is the means to oppress humanity again or to render it happy. It is the good and the bad altogether. Do not take for exaggeration my assertions; they repose on facts that I have come to show the savants of your country.
“What does one want to prevent me producing in the great day? Is it a science? No. That will be later no doubt. Is it an art? Not yet; but I try to establish it. You see, in two words what difference exists between the savants and me; you will then be astonished very much.
“I made known the means to produce sleep in patients without giving them opium, of healing fever without quinine. But is it then a course of medicine? Not at all, because I banish drugs, I have no pharmacy, and my art ruins the apothecaries. You see well that the University and I are the two antipodes.
“That is not all. I have indicated the means to give more force to human organization, of sustaining it when it succumbs, of finally putting oil into the lamp nearly extinguished. Those who possess all the sciences only know to diminish life; I know how to increase it. You see well again that I encroach not at all on the domain of the University!
“All science of the University is in books, and through some little money, you possess a great treasure, that is to say the mind of these gentlemen. My science to me is in the nature of each being; each human head offers me knowledge that one does not find in the libraries. There is then no analogy between what the University teaches and what I make known.
“We do not have a Body like it, a Faculty; our teachings are easy and can be made without dissection of cadavers; our science is not a science of words, but a science of real facts, and we only needs a language to deepen it.
“If the day of the eclipse I came to say to the crowd: ‘Your eyes see this phenomena poorly; pause, with this polished glass, you are going to recognize perfectly the position of the two bodies which pass in the instant over your heads, you would condemn me for this fact? No. What do I do then? A little like the same thing. I say to those who come to my house: Your eyes of flesh made you misjudge your savants; they are very dazzling with splendor; the bright clarity which they cast prevents you from being able to observe them well. I am going to pass something under your view, and you are going to recognize at the instant their intrinsic value. If this is teaching, then I am like M. Jourdain, who made prose without knowing it. I have made science without suspecting it, and if your judgment is not obliterated, that must force me to take rank, even in spite of myself, among the honorable savants who pursue me. And you, Messieurs, tribunal becomes exceptional, you could make savants and give patents of capacity; but I avow to you in advance that you could sometimes deceive yourselves, and gratify with a title the envy of men who, like me, will have no right. Where is the right of the University and in what is it interfering? I teach neither Greek, nor Latin, physics and chemistry, no more; all that this respectable body teaches has been today sacred for me. I have never dared to touch it. Scarcely do I speak my language, and yet I am a professor, and my science is so certain that I will bring out of their state of tranquility the scholars of this country, and that I will trouble as much as I will wish their minds. Far from living in a similar isolation to that in which they live, everyone can be animated near me. And moreover I will not have, like they, eloquence; my word, far from serving me, will be against me, because the facts that I will produce to attract the crowd can not then be explained!’
“One has believed that the best means to chase me from the city, without shouting too much, was a trial. One is deceived, no doubt, because going away without justifying my assertions would be cowardice; fear of justice, when my conduct was not reprehensible, and error of judgment; and I wished neither to be weak nor unreasonable. In other times it would only have been before you that I would appear, this would be before an inquisition, and during my judgment one would ready the faggots to execute the sentence, because the power of which I serve myself is absolutely occult; it is then that the coated judges of another robe than yours have, in our country, burned Joan of Arc, Urbain Grandier, and so many other victims who only had a faculty inherent in human nature, one then did not know the source, and, in their simplicity, the judges believed that it was the evil spirit.
“Will you condemn me for having tried to recognize this law which gives to certain men a supernatural power? Will you condemn me for having given the evidence of it existence? Provoke then a law which proscribes all researches, and, as God, say to the genie of man: ‘You will come up to here, you will not go any further!’
“When the University will know magnetism, that it will have established the reality, that it will teach it under the form of science in the schools, it could perhaps, in virtue of its privilege, if it possessed it then, trouble those who will claim to have deepened it more. But until then the pretensions of the University will appear absurd to you, and its actions to prevent the truth from being produced by experiments, the acts of dementia.
“See in what trouble I could cast you by a single word. If I came to say to you: ‘My stories are mendacious, the phenomena that I produce, pure illusion; what would you say? Would you condemn a man for having taught a thing which does not exist.’
“The University has not yet said: ‘We admit magnetism, we know all the parts that one can take to reach the knowledge of man, and to find the means to heal him. No, far from adopting magnetism, the current savant bodies deny it; strong from the judgment of their ancestors, they regard us as dreamers, impostors, and our science does not merit a new examination.’
“We, we have dared to give a denial to these sublime geniuses, and similar to that ancient philosopher who contented himself to walk before someone who denied movement, we are ourselves put to produce the facts one day, without trying then to explain them. Messieurs, if it would prove our discovery, we would do it without leaving this chamber. But it is a question of words that one makes to me: One could not attack the actions of man, one attacks his speeches; he will not be condemned for what he has done, but for what he has said.
“It is a matter of knowing if you, Messieurs, religious observers of the law, you will consent to falsify its spirit in the interest of men injured in their vanity as savants.
“It is a matter of knowing if you will see a culprit in the simple man who has only sought to prove properties of his being, because magnetism is a natural faculty of the human organization, and you possess it like me.
“It is a matter of knowing if you will see an offense or an infraction of the law there where it can neither have offense nor infraction, or even if you will follow the example of the other judges who have acquitted me. But recall, Messieurs, that it is not a grace that that I ask of you, but your justice. In according it to me you be yourselves without reproach, because there can be no right or law against what does not yet exist; there can be no privilege to subdue the unknown.
“The nation which will have a similar law in its code will merit to be banned by humanity.
“In spite of everything, if your judgment has to deceive my expectation, those who will come to signify to me your sentence will find me practicing and giving knowledge of magnetism, because I will just do this all my life.
“I will not pay any fee which will be inflicted; I will go to prison. And know you, Messieurs, that it will be glorious for me, because while will reside locked up there, the truth that I will have made known will produce a great day! One will finish by asking who is the one to whom one owes it; and learning that he is under lock and key, and expiating the wrong of having reasoned too soon, there would not be enough scorn to overwhelm my persecutors.”
My escape was fine, because the president, M. de Podenas, appeared well resolved to apply the law to me. His finger, constantly fixed on the fatal article, and his movements and his colleagues announced enough that his opinion was contrary to the sentence that the other judges wished to render.
Also his anger was one which can no longer manifest when burst the applause of the spectators which rendered homage to a just justice. He soon gave the order to the gendarmes to grab hold of those who applauded; but they were too numerous no doubt, or then the gendarmes perhaps had been put to sleep by my speech, because they did not appear to hear the voice of the president, who, to the contrary, however, had rendered it so strong that it made, I think, the window panes tremble.
My reputation grew with the persecution that they kindled against me, the sick arrived to me from all parts; I was not interrupted for the education of my students. However I had to divide my work, because the rancor of the men that I had just defeated had nearly caused me to pursue with the law against the associations; fearing henceforth to receive more that nineteen persons at the same time and committing myself again with the court, I was obliged to give myself four times more pain. At bottom it was then a good for me, since in this manner, exercising myself on robust men, I prepared my organization to sustain a work that a magnetizer never would believe possible to execute.
The bitter evils of each day, in leaving me glimpses that there would not be later repose for me, made me feel sometimes discouragement and my presentations felt the effects. In the fear of passing for an enthusiast to the eyes of my students, I hid half of the truth in order not to be obliged to sustain it totally. I suffered no doubt from this disposition, because then the fight was in me and left me no repose.
“Cold minds,” I said to my students, “are without sympathy to the ills of others, and for those who admire great things; with them there must not be any warmth of soul; they can not imagine that one feels anything they do not feel. Ah! Messieurs, pity them, those hard and negative men, because they will never exemplify their fatherland! They will never do a work worthy to excite enthusiasm; but for that do not believe that they can not go astray, to the contrary. Like their sensibility, the horizon of their faculties is limited; their shrunken mind could not discover anything nor create anything, they attack those who create, those who discover, and prosecute them sometimes as far as death.
“Men that report to you, true human hornets, humming their life without bringing to the common hive a single drop of honey; they have made stings, that is all. You will see them soon causing me a crime in regard to what I will cast in the future, if, full of my subject, I am rushing to show you certain changes to which our mores and our sciences must submit by a knowledge more perfect in science that I teach you. If I have raised so many passions by announcing it with simple physical principles, what will it be then if I have to reveal what twenty-four years of work and of observations have given me knowledge to the contrary of received ideas!
“Likewise I will hide the truth by love for it; it is a sacrifice of which you will thank me later, since it will have served to level some difficulties which are opposed to the progress of our ideas.”
The young men of the school who followed my course deeply regretted that I was not admitted into the hospitals. Often they spoke to me of a woman who was attacked with an epileptiform malady, of which the irregular fits were infinitely varied and curious to observe; sometime she fell into a state of coma which lasted several hours, sometimes even more than a day, without consciousness and without any sensitivity. The patient was in the halls of Doctor Kesergue, an antagonist of magnetism. There was not then any hope of submitting her to a magnetic treatment at the hospital; but knowing humanity and the charity of a lady of the city, Madame de Saint-Pierre, I invoked her pity so much that she solicited the departure of this patient. She obtained it not without difficulties and in submitting to the jokes of the physician who, knowing that she would be magnetized and judging her incurable, believed to play a good turn to Madame de Saint-Pierre in consigning the patient to the door, so that then this sad refuge of the poor was no longer open to her.
I magnetized this patient in the presence of a great number of persons of the city, and of more than fifty students who all knew her. The effects of the magnetism were sudden; she fell into lucid somnambulism from the first magnetization; predicted her crises, regulated the duration of her sleeps, announced the spitting of blood and the appearance of her menses which for a long time were suppressed, and fixed finally the duration of her treatment to a period sufficiently near. She offered us extremely remarkable phenomena; the students thence drew useful practical lessons of magnetism, and we had the good fortune to see her leave for her country in a state of convalescence; soon after her departure, she wrote to Madame de Saint-Pierre to thank her for her good care and to inform her of her perfect healing.
A student named Courbassier was affected with a paralysis of the muscles of half of the face; I magnetized him, and there supervened on the forehead and the temples a very considerable swelling. He went to consult M. Kesergue who assured him gravely that it was shingles and that it was for forty days. – The week was not past that all had disappeared, even the paralysis. Thanks to me, this young man was inserted into the Journal of the Midi in a succinct and sincere narrative of his treatment and his healing.
A celebrated professor of the school of medicine of Montpellier, M. Lordat asked me if I would consent to magnetize before him some patients that he would bring to me. I consented to it without hesitation and from the next day I magnetized in his presence and in that of several physicians a young girl of eighteen to twenty years, who for eighteen months had aphonia (extinction of voice); the means in similar cases indicated had been tried, and the bleeding only had sometimes rendered the voice, but for some hours only, and in the day when the bleeding was practiced. In her sleep, asked on the means to employ to heal her, she responded that in three days she would recover her voice no more to lose it. The fact was very curious so that everyone would not want to verify it. I magnetized her then three days in a row, following her orders, and toward the middle of the third day her voice returned all of a sudden. Soon filled with joy, she ran through the whole city in shouting: “It is I who speak, it is I who speak!” and her flow was so animated that one might think that she sought to catch up for lost time.
Her magnetic sleep had offered very curious facts which were collected by M. Lordat. The distinguished man offered to give me a testimonial of the fact of the healing of this girl; but I thanked him, responding to him that I would multiply many such examples of healing that those only who would have interest to not believe would refuse their belief in magnetism.
The noises which had run on my account, the suspicions of accomplices, of jugglery, began to vanish. In fact, it was a great day that I operated, and my actions could not be contested.
Already my clientele was numerous; from all parts flowed around me a large quantity of patients. What! I said to myself, in this city where everyone who comes is a physician or aspires to be, in this place, near the temple of Epidaurus, there are thousands of patients; the pharmacy is here flourishing and so many people are suffering? Never a city had more need than Montpellier for the art of the beneficent Mesmer!
My domicile, as I have already said, was far from the city; the visitors had to by consequence brave the ardors of the sun to be witness to the scenes of magnetization; but curiosity was so deeply excited by what was recounted of the extraordinary, that to come there was no need to ask the road. The route was covered with people who rendered themselves to my house or who departed it. – Some were in carts, others on barrows; some in brilliant equipages. – From far one could see a long file of men with crutches, and all going “to the house of the man who heals.” That was the name which they had given me.
Three hundred persons at least came each day to my house, and there where formerly I had taught the processes of magnetism, one could see the marvels which it produced between my hands. Sometimes fifty patients were ranged around me and submitting in turn to magnetization that I had known to render as powerful as electric action; that were struck in a manner so sudden that nearly always the magnetic effects had attained all their development at the third minute!
How many volumes would it not be necessary to render account of the facts produced during a year on many thousands of patients! Who could describe the marvelous effects that a single man could produce, animated as he was by the fire of a divine enthusiasm! The souls and the bodies seemed to obey at the sign of my will, and the places where they passed these marvels could be regarded as enchanted scenes.
How many times, at night, struck with what I had produced of the admirable during the day, did it give me desire to describe it and to leave a monument worthy of the sentiments which had inspired me! But, cruel fatality! Not being able to find the words to render my thoughts, a delirious fever impaired my mind, and I groaned overwhelmed by the cruel sentiment of my impotence.
It is then that a friendly hand came to calm the ardor of my mind and to render me calm of which I had so much need to pursue my work, because each day my travail had to begin again with so much constancy and not the least of fatigue.
Many of the unfortunate patients that the noise of my cures attracted to me came from thirty leagues [@ 100 miles]; how to send them back? Among them there was found some who could not have procured a shelter; it is then that, letting myself be won over by pity that they inspired me, I lodged them in all the corners of my house. Were they at least cognizant of what I did for them? God only knows it; but I, in appreciating their conduct, I thought to recognize that their moral misery was then greater than their physical misery. “I was paid by the government to heal,” they said; and not wanting to recognize my disinterest for a humane work, in the middle of the city where the ordinary physician is so greedy, they wanted to make of me a god for not being obliged to recompense the man.
But had I ended at least by extinguishing the hate of my persecutors? Alas! No. Not being able to come to the end of me in employing the ministry of justice, they had recourse to the ministry of priests. They did so well that those, animated especially of the same sentiments as the others, because they had no more virtue, mounted in the pulpit to signal to the people as a supplicant of Satan. In four churches, at the same time, my works were denounced as diabolical. [Note: “You burn to learn this great mystery... Ah, well, whatever it costs me, I am going to tell you this frightful word; this magnetism, this marvelous, prodigious, gloomy art is only another thing than the demon. Yes, the same demon; it is he who conducts the hand of the magnetizer; it is he who heals the most desperate patients; it is he who gives to the somnambulists the gift of prophecy and that of the miracles; it is he finally who serves himself with this last resources to pervert humankind.”]
I possessed a great power, that was incontestable, but the devil was half of the part; and “the one who caused healing then lost his soul.” Then comparing me to Saint Simon, to a republican and to a drinker of blood, they tried to inspire in the people a great horror of me, in order to achieve the execution of their project.
O France! Land which passes to be the most enlightened and the civilized in the world. What! You close then into your bosom hideous fanaticism; the truth can then encounter thus a thousand shackles! A university city allows with impunity people to stagnate in ignorance, and you require from the priest more light! To what then do the savants serve? Gold which they receive is then a theft which they cause the nation?
Where am I then? Is it a dream? Have I heard you well? Stupid men throw rocks at windows of my house in shouting at the sorcerer (how to disguise). I have then gone by two centuries? No, it is not a dream, it is necessary to flee these inhospitable places! Here the good passes for being an evil, philanthropy is a crime, and the man who renders himself culpable must be stoned!
But no, I will remain, I will undeceive these men that fanaticism blinds, and one day they will render me justice!
Then fighting so many obstacles, my life was only more a long combat, and my weak organs only found compensation in the secret joy that my heart felt; because I believed to have more virtue than my persecutors. The bishop, an enlightened man, soon prevented the insane preaching, but already the poor patients had reflected, and many said out loud: “I love better to be healed by the devil than always to suffer;” and covering themselves in blessed objects, they ran anew to my house.
A boat conductor, who suddenly had paralysis of his limbs, came, lying in a cart, to receive the cares of the physicians of the hospitals of Montpellier. Seen, when he crossed the city, by the people, those diverted the vehicle from its direction in shouting: “the house of the man who heals! the house of the man who heals!” and accompanied him in great number, they carried him to me in the middle of other patients already collected in my garden.
He was in a grievous state: his members contorted and drawn to the trunk took from him the possibility of making movement, and when one made the effort to raise him he cried in a lamentable voice.
Magnetized immediately, he was asleep in less than five minutes; I commanded him then to walk, and placing myself before him in making a step I attracted him in my direction. Soon one saw his limbs lengthen; then, raising himself with effort, he followed me without passing a cry; I brought him back in the same manner, and questioned him on the number of times that he needed to be magnetized, he responded: Three times. I awakened him, and already he was no longer the same man; he could move his limbs and put himself on his seat.
The sensations of pleasure that I felt were shared by the crowd; there was yet another thing when the next day one saw this man paraded in the city, only having a stick for support. The third day, as he had announced to me, he could reflect on his departure; there only remained for him the memory of all his pains. He was paraded from door to door; they showed him while shouting of the miracle; his joy, it is necessary to say, was imprinted on all his features.
A carpenter from Gignac, who for seven years had considerably swollen legs which prevented him from delivering himself to his works, was conducted to my house. I believed that this illness, because of its antiquity, was incurable, and I refused to treat him; but he begged me and supplicated me so much so that I had pity on him, that I decided to magnetize him; the effects were sudden, thus to say; from the second session he felt more ease to move his legs, and the swelling had already diminished; at end of seven days they were in their natural state. This man felt no joy; he thanked me with emotion, showed everyone his shoes, his stockings which appeared to have been made for a giant, and took his crutches to a tree in my garden, when a physician, to whom I had accorded an entree to my house (and it was a great favor then, because I had had so many of them complaining at me that I refused all requests that they addressed to me), advised this patient and recognizing him for having given his cares, caught him in a separate part of the garden, and said to him: “You do not see that you are here in the house of a charlatan, and that your ill is going to return stronger and more incurable!” This miserable one came to solicit me with the same importunity so that I would give my cares to two sick priests that had chosen him to make this request.
The patient that I came to cure returned on foot to his house, and I believe that the distance is seven leagues. His healing caused a very great sensation in the town, because he was very well known. He returned to see me at some time from there; he had been able to work several hours in the water without any feeling of his old inconvenience. From all those who, in the class of this man, received my cares, none was more thankful.
Such extraordinary cures brought to my house so great a quantity of patients that I soon found the impossibility of treating them all. I joined to myself several young men of the school, and every day a hundred fifty patients were magnetized. The poor were the cause that I soon had the rich, and those, in spite of their offers of money, in spite of their supplications, endured waiting for some time before I consented to receive them.
M. de Boisserolles, son of the former general of this name, rich proprietor of Ganges, was attacked, for several years, with a malady that the physicians of Montpellier regarded as incurable. It was a kind of gout which affected principally the legs and the kidneys. Caries of all the teeth and yellow color of the skin announced well enough the ravages that this humor had caused in the whole organism. This patient could only walk bent in two and supported by two persons; in this manner, he was dragged painfully rather than walked; it is in vain that he had searched for relief for a state so cruel. This gentleman called me to give him treatment; I found him sensitive to magnetism, although magnetic sleep was not developed. I dared to permit him to walk straight and without aid into the streets of Montpellier; but I required of him that, whatever happened, he not follow other counsels than mine, and that his docility was as great as my perseverance.
My recommendation, in fact, could not have been more useful. Twelve days were not passed than already the humor, which had caused so much of the suffering to M. de Boisserolles, began to go away. The urine was at first very charged, the skin became oily and let escape a great quantity of thick humor; clothes multiplied in a frightening manner; he had as many as sixty per day; spitting even was abundant, and the nose let flow equally a great quantity of serous fluid. This extraordinary crisis soon alarmed the family, which was running on the the noise that the patient was in a desperate state. My exhortations fully reassured M. de Boisserolles, but my influence was fought by contrary reasoning, coming from men who were neither my friends, nor those of the truth.
Madame de Boisserolles, to acquire more confidence, passed each day many hours in the middle of the patients; and there, I saw her asking each of them about what they experienced, about what I had been able to say to him of his malady and of his treatment; and only perceiving the people happy and full of hope, the patients relieved and in the way of healing, she became herself my auxiliary to counterbalance the fears that one had tried to make penetrate into the mind of her husband.
What then seized M. de Boisserolles for such an extraordinary change took place in his habitual state? To the great despair of the pharmacists, I only gave him magnetism and magnetic water. For sure I put something in the bottles, at least the physicians and the pharmacists ensured it. Alas! They were then deceived, because they brought me bottles of water perfectly clogged, and I did not unseal any. They were reduced to saying that I got along with the domestics; what a pity!
After ten or twelve days of crises, which had produced a great state of weakness and an extreme thinness, the forces began to return. To his great surprise, the patient could hold himself on his seat; I engaged him to take a little food, to take care of himself more, and especially to not expend too quickly the new force that I gave him.
What I had predicted happened to him. It was a full six weeks that I treated him, that I had the pleasure of encountering him in the street coming alone in front of me. He walked straight and had only a light cane to sustain him. The right leg, where one had established a cautery maladroitly, was alone then suffering and weak. This patient was perfectly healed? I do not think it, and I engaged him to be magnetized each year at the same period, a month duration, for totally modifying his constitution which appeared to me faulty.
M. de Boisserolles himself soon learned to magnetize. Having gathered at my house Doctor Pigeaire, MM. de Montvaillant, Faventine, Olivier, Leon, and other distinguished personages, I began for them a course in magnetism.
What did my antagonists say to the narrative of my treatments? They spread the noise that my cures had not held, that such a person had fallen sick again, that others were dead, etc. I had the bonhomie to believe these noises at first; but soon I got information, and, to my great satisfaction, that these noises were lies. Such had already been to my regard the conduct of men full of light and of good faith who denied magnetism. Monsieur Recamier, famous physician, had he not said also, in full Academy, that Mlle Samson, who I had healed at the Hotel Dieu in Paris, had returned some time after and was dead in her rooms? And the assertion of this distinguished man would have passed without doubt the eyes of all for the truth, if by chance, some days hence, I had not encountered this girl, who consented to accompany me to the Academy, and to come in full seance to give a glowing denial to the one who had dared to advance that she was dead. M. Husson, as this fact interested him like myself, addressed verbal report which was signed by twenty persons.
Let us go, Messieurs the enemies of magnetism, with courage! You are not at the end. Do not weaken! Give yourselves the hand. How those of Paris responded to those of Montpellier! But your arms are used, and if they always make fire, now they will only injure you.
Already magnetism spread itself into the cities neighboring Montpellier; one of my students, M. Olivier, of Beziers, wrote me from this city, 19 December 1836, the following letter: “Sir, In spite of two terrible adversaries of sublime magnetism, the ignorance and egoism under a doctoral robe, since I have had the happiness to write you, I have defied the incredulity in full coffee, and this audacity has perfectly succeeded. I have not failed in a single experiment, and moreover one required much of me, because not falling asleep, there was nothing to do, and that one in the middle of laughter, of noise and of jokes. I have constantly overcome on the most incredulous and the most robust. Our cause is here generally won. When you will arrive, you will find prepared terrain; you only have to cast the seeds there; all our intelligent youth await you with impatience.”
Some days later, M. Olivier wrote me again, and I give this letter entire: “My dear sir, Glory to your science, honor to you, who, far from making a monopoly, try to propagate it! Convinced of the pleasure that I will do you, I am impressed to make known to you the effects surpassing that I have produced here, and of which I am then also astonished as those who have been the witnesses.
“The mistress of coffee where I was proposed to me in joking to magnetize her; I accepted. In two minutes her eyelids lower, unusual motions appear, accompanied by light plaintive cries; I question: ‘Do you sleep? – No. – Do you suffer? – No. – Do you want to sleep? – No, I can not open the eyes. – If I leave you in this state, will you suffer? – No.’ Toward the end of this experiment, enters a young man of eighteen years close to time to see in what state this woman be found; he is surprised, but he says quietly to someone: ‘I don’t believe it.’ One responds to him: ‘Ask M. Olivier to magnetize you.’ He advances and says to me: ‘Do you want to magnetize me? I am quite sure that you will do nothing to me.’ – ‘Gladly, put yourself there.’ He places himself on a chair, and in two minutes his eyes are closed, convulsive movements declare themselves, his chest is swollen, violent hiccups are heard and he tries to flee from me; I say to persons who are there: ‘This young man suffers certainly from the stomach, either accidentally or habitually.’ Finally, not being able to continue my magnetism, he rises to flee; I take him softly by the hand, I order him to be seated and he obeys. He is so agitated that I do not dare to interrogate him in this state, and I awaken him. He asks where he is, how he came and if he had been as sensitive to magnetism as the woman that he had seen sleeping. One responded to him: ‘A hundred times more.’ He did not wish to believe that he was deeply asleep, and he was stupefied when one rendered him account of all his movements. I asked him if he did not usually suffer from the stomach; he said to me no, but that he had eaten far too much at lunch and that when he had entered the digestion was painful. He placed himself at a table and leaned happily against the wall. While each of these happened, two of my friends entered, being informed and begged me to renew the experiment. I took hold of a cane, I placed myself at four steps, I directed it toward the epigastrium of this young man; in a minute he fell over backwards violently, broke the flasks which were on the table, and I only had time to prevent him from falling to the floor. I renewed the experiment, but this time the lightning was not so quick. Finally emboldened, I pushed the proof as far as the thought and I succeeded completely.
“I hope that you will not forget the promise that you made to come pass some time here. I am convinced that you will have many patients and I guarantee you a numerous and well composed course; all our young men are impatient to follow it, especially since they have seen or known what has happened here. For the rest I confess to you that of all I am not the least astonished. This young man has said that when he was in my presence he hardly dared to look at me, and that my voice or the least of my movements in the chamber held him under the charm. That which is singular, it is that every day he broke lances against magnetism and that when he submitted to the power, he had just had a very lively discussion with an uncle who is a priest and who wished that he believed. I guarantee you of his conversion. Awaiting the pleasure of seeing you, etc. Olivier.” Beziers, 27 December 1836
Here is another letter which was written from Roujan, 24 December 1836: “My dear professor, Faithful to the promise that I made to you on my departure from Montpellier, I have to acquit myself to you with a recognition without limits in announcing to you, as you have assured me so often, the healing of a demoiselle; she hears as if she had never been deaf. Encouraged by this cure, I have delivered myself to magnetism; I have in this moment six patients in treatment, of whom are two epileptics who must be healed, the one 6 January and the other the 7th; they are excellent somnambulists and very clairvoyant, because I have often put them to the proof in making them consult the same patients in different chambers and without their knowledge; they have many times astonished me by the designation of the same illnesses. But what makes my admiration, they are the same therapeutic means that they have often indicated to me without any knowledge of medicine.
“I was called last week to Pezenas by two of my confreres to see a brave captain attacked with paralysis for four years, and who wished to submit to magnetism. I magnetized him; he was not sensitive at all. Two days later I returned with one of the somnambulists of whom I have already spoken to you; I put her in rapport, and he announced to me that the captain had water in the head, the liver tainted and that there was no remedy to give. Happily the somnambulist spoke low enough so that the patient could not here; there were only two of his doctors whom I had placed very near, who heard her as I did.
“All the faculty of medicine of Pezenas were assembled and begged me after dinner to do some proofs on the patient that I had brought. I consented in the interest of science; I put the patient to sleep four times, at ten feet in distance, directing toward her my hand, and that in two minutes. If I called her she responded to me, while she was deaf to the voice of those gentlemen, however trying to imitate my voice. They had to make much noise at his ears, she was still plunged into sleep. What surprised them the most, was to hear her designate the number of persons present; she said that there were twenty-one, which was true. Monsieur the Mayor at the head and all were the most distinguished of Pezenas in relation with the sciences in taking part. I regret much, my dear professor, that you were not present at this assembly, you would have enjoyed seeing their surprise. And not being able to explain these diverse phenomena per the ordinary, the unbelievers have taken the part to talk of accomplices; however, as I observed to them I had poorly chosen my accomplice, since she had announced that there was nothing to be done for the captain, and that it was for him only that I had brought them and that he was in my interest to treat, this reflection caused many to think that I had reason, what they had seen was the effect of animal magnetism.
“I have made at Pezenas as much of a sensation as you made in the time at Montpellier; everyone talks about magnetism. I would only have need of your presence and of some other subject; you would have been enchanted with seeing the avidity and especially the curiosity of these gentlemen. I proposed, once that the patients that I have in treatment will be healed, to pass some days in this town, to convince the disbelievers of the existence of magnetism and of the effects that one can obtain as curative means. I have learned with pleasure by M. Kuhnholtz that you have opened a course and that you have a great number of students. Your very devoted, L. Carles, D-M.”
Another student, M. Faventine, wrote me from Vigan, 20 January 1837: “Permit me to talk to you of my magnetic successes; I have undertaken the cure of four persons attacked with ills of the eyes and of rheumatic pains; they are all healed, to the great despair of the physicians, who all the years at the same period were in use of treating them without healing them. I have the honor of saluting you, Faventine.”
I received at the same time letters from Arles and from Nimes, where experiments were made in order to convince of magnetism. But what filled me with joy, was to learn that my old students did not forget me and raised themselves by degree as far a comprehending the value of magnetism; their recognition especially touched me even to the bottom of the heart.
Here is what two of these gentlemen wrote: “Each of us operates from his side. We have epileptics, scrofulous swellings, gastritis, suppression of menses, etc., in treatment. In general, there is the amelioration of the state of the patients.
“Many of the members of the Society have very curious somnambulists; the phenomena of the highest interest are presented. The unbelievers no longer laugh at magnetism, they fear it. – Being less than twenty member in our Society, we have not had need of authorization; but if it becomes necessary, we are sure to obtain it from the authority.
“In a word, all goes well; the seed that you have cast here germinates and promises a good harvest. We all owe you much gratitude, and as for me, I protest to you, a new day is being made in my mind. I live in a new sphere and I would not wish for ten years of existence not having received the initiation. And yet what am I? What is this feeble spark near the hearth of light which I perceive, which I divine, but which I can not yet see?
“In leaving you, sir, you have testified to us the life desired to attach your name to our Society. It is to the name of all its members that I have to beg you to accept the title of honorary President of the Society of Harmony of Bordeaux. You will give us in accepting it a new testimony to the goodwill and the affection that you have well wanted to show us. It will also be very agreeable to us of having your name on our diplomas; as soon as I will have received your response I will hasten to send them so that you appose your signature.
“It will be for the society a day of fest that one when it will receive your news. Please let us know as soon as possible. Tell us if you have many students in Toulouse, and how magnetism has been received there. All heart to you and always, V. M.” Bordeaux, 3 May 1836.
“My dear professor, What thanks do I not owe you for the initiation to that which you have called me! What a vast field has opened before my eyes, and as my mind has launched into a most elevated sphere! The book of nature, of which I have scarcely seen the first page, allows me to glimpse a future full of charms; my studies are then more settled on serious things, and now I can appreciate the full scope of the famous ‘know yourself’ of he ancients, on which they caused to repose science and philosophy. This new era in my existence is your work. It is to you that returns the merit, because without you I would search still for the truth as I had vainly asked all the sects, all the schools.
“The successes that you have obtained at Montpellier are of a happy presage. You have known to render impotent the attacks, the jealousies and the vengeances of the medical Areopagus; it is a triumph. Follow your route. It must conduct you, not to repose, because a man of good is always pursued by hate and envy, but to the reward of all your efforts. Humanity which has need of guides will finish through you to understand in spite of the doctors and the savants; and the seeds that you have spread will produce good fruits. The world had not been created to remain the prey of ignorance; we hope then that the God of truth will reverse all the false gods.
“We work always; unfortunately we are in a town where reigns ignorance and vanity! Here, you have seen it, one repels all science; money is the motive of all the actions, and all the calculations, all the connections. What to do before so much foolishness and pride? Be resigned, work and wait. We do it. Your letters, which will always be received as useful lessons, will encourage us, and, persevering workers, you will find us always ready to second you in your noble and beneficent enterprise. Please receive, my dear president, the assurance of the deep and sincere affection and of the unalterable friendship that you have inspired in your very devoted, “E” Bordeaux, 5 August 1836.
A congress of savants was assembled at Montpellier; I have to seize this occasion to call attention of the men who took part in it on the new science that I taught. I wrote on this subject a memorandum that I read in public session; the conclusions were adopted and they voted me thanks “for having called first the attention of the congress on the phenomena of magnetism.”
Here was the end of my memorandum: After having related the facts attributed to magnetism in general, “Now,” I added, “it remains for me to draw some consequences from these facts. In admitting for an instant their reality, you see what becomes of your knowledge which is not purely physical or mathematical? What do you make of your physiology, where you have deposited what you have known of man and the laws of his government? Will you dare to place your reason and your views on medicine in the presence of instinct, and your systems in the face of the new facts which reverse them?And what will become of your medicine of today, if it is soon recognized that without any medicament one can heal the greatest number of maladies?
“You would rather like to contest the facts than to adopt them; then again, it is not a property of some individuals; all man possess it; it is the product of our organization; it does not require a genius to put it into work, and now many thousands of men propagate with zeal this new revelation and this new means of healing.
“I wait for you, Messieurs, not that you declare yourselves partisans of magnetism, but that in the interest of science and of humanity of which you are here the noble representatives, you take a deliberation on the subject of which I come to talk to you, I ask that it be expressed, in your general relations, the formal vow at a following congress memoranda be presented on animal magnetism, and that solemn discussions come finally to apprehend for the world that magnetism is one of the surprising great truths of nature or one of the great errors of the human mind.”
All then was going better at Montpellier: M. Professor Lordat supported magnetism in his chair in the Faculty; Doctor Kunholtz, associated with the same Faculty, treated already a certain number of patients by this method, because two months of examination and of studies at my magnetic clinic, the finest that one had ever seen, had taught him all the parts that one could draw from magnetism.
A young, rich and beautiful person from Montpellier, who every month experienced frightful pains at the approach of these periods and during their duration, pains that the resources of classical medicine could neither cure nor relieve, was healed by me in magnetizing her four days before and four days after this period; the pains no longer reappeared to the third month.
Mlle Casalis, attacked with an intermittent fever that quinine had many times caused to disappear, but which returned obstinately at the end of some time, was perfectly healed by my treatments without her becoming a drug addict.
A young man in a less opulent position was healed with the same malady and the same processes. When he returned completely to health, I sent him to his physician for him to observe the fact, but that one chased him from his house and saying to him that he was an imbecile.
A miller of Sommieres, named Gaillet, epileptic for ten years, came to see me to be healed. This man, as his attacks had many times taken him in his boat, kept his life only by the courage of some people who had seen him drowning. He went to sleep at the first instants of magnetization, and in his sleep he declared before an immense crowd that he would be healed in five days. Such a prompt healing did not appear durable to me; in fact he had a relapse and returned as I had recommended to him. – Asleep again, he said that this relapse was not of same nature as his old attacks, that it was only the effect of a fear that one had caused him recently, but that he was perfectly healed; and since, my news confirmed to me the correctness of his assertion.
A sergeant of the elite body of the city of Montpellier, that rheumatism had rendered impotent to the point that one was obliged to dress him like a child, felt such effects from magnetism that at the end of some weeks he was in the state to put on his own clothes and retake his occupations.
My house was then frequented by the officers of the garrison of Montpellier; the counsel general came to sit in body at my experiments and at my demonstrations; the jurors of the department at the end of the hearings did not fail to go to my house, and I received from them all the most sincere testimonies of the satisfaction that they experienced in seeing a means so simple as the one that I employed to render so many services to humanity.
Curiosity could not be satisfied, because the facts were always new; each patient being affected in a different manner, the experiences varied also to infinity and left those who were witnesses in an unspeakable astonishment.
In fact, one, an epileptic of Bedarieux, a large and robust man, was dragged into my direction when I wanted him, and six men could not impede him then.
This other, M. Jouve, of Beziers, affected with a paralysis of all of one side of the body, experienced such powerful effects that, submitted to magnetization, one saw after an instant the two paralyzed members enter into convulsion and execute movements so rapid and so inconceivable, that they inspired fear in those who saw them. When the magnetization had begun and as I distanced myself from him, he suddenly raised himself and ran after me without power to stop him; sometimes even I enjoyed turning around a tree, in order to see if the power which attracted him would lose its action; but, far from it! He turned with as much rapidity as I put to flee it!
An epileptic boy was taken with an attack as soon as I magnetized him; and it is then that in provoking a great number each day, I managed to cure him.
A young girl affected with a white tumor at the knee experienced, by the sole effect of magnetism, convulsive movements of the muscles of this part, capable by their nature to occasion the greatest disorders; and however she complained of no pain, while in her usual state the least contact of this tumor was one that can not be more sensitive. This effect so singular of magnetism had for result diminishing considerably the swelling and of putting the patient in the state of walking without crutches.
Another girl, Julie Brunelle, belonging to an honest family of Sommieres, who was for seven years paralyzed of the lower limbs and could only move herself with the aide of two crutches, had been brought by her parents to my treatment. Not being able to magnetize myself because of my numerous occupations, I had charged this treatment to a student in medicine. For a fortnight treated by this student without experiencing amelioration in her state, she was persuaded that she could only heal if I magnetized myself. Apprehending her chagrin and seeing her all sad to leave from the house, I called to her, and as soon as she returned I put her to sleep in less than six minutes. She declared before most of the world that she would quit her crutches in nineteen days; that she would walk at first with difficulty, but at the end of some months, the sensibility returning to her limbs, there would only remain a little trouble that time alone was called upon to overthrow; but that this trouble as the rest would not at all prevent her from walking.
The nineteenth day, after her awakening from magnetic sleep, I engaged her to walk, which she did without falling, but also without lengthening the legs much; it was necessary for an hour to make the path that I had been able to do in some minutes. However the elasticity of the limbs returned little by little, and this girl has been able to deliver herself since to hard occupations without any suffering, and without being obliged to use support.
A young woman became deaf following upon sleep was brought by her husband to draw her healing; she only heard with an extreme difficulty the strongest noise that one could make, and for nearly two years this state persisted. Magnetized, she slept at the instant, and to the great surprise of the audience the faculty of hearing returned immediately; but I knew that this faculty would only last during her sleep, and that awakening she would be as deaf as before; also I pressed her with questions on the means to employ to render permanent the usual state of hearing; she assured that what I did was good, and that in a fortnight the sensibility of this organ would return.
The fifteenth day expired, in leaving somnambulism where I had plunged her to make her repeat her assertion, we saw in her an astonishment that the pen cannot describe; she heard at first a great humming in the ears; the sounds arrived confused, without value, then after an instant she comprehended what one said around her. The joy that she felt threw her into extraordinary convulsions; with great tears inundating her face. But finally, returning to her, I engaged her to put cotton in her ears, to not pay too much attention to what was going on around her, and to only enjoy the faculty that she had found again by degrees. She followed my counsels, and her healing has been complete and lasting.
I magnetized a young deaf mute from Montpellier, who only had to remain in this city for a few days; he was asleep after a few instants. In his sleep, I said to him at the ear, and with a voice a little elevated, du-po-tet, and our surprise was great when we heard repeated du-po-tet. He was awakened an instant after, without there remaining to him anything of the emotion which we supposed to have caused it. I would have wished to continue to magnetize him, but as I could not guarantee his healing, his parents sent him to Toulouse, where his education of deaf-mute had to be continued.
A young girl, who could not be developed, was brought to my treatment; soon she was sleeping, she assured that in magnetizing her for three weeks her menses would appear; she fixed the precise hour for it, and when the time came, the mother came to assure us that her daughter was not deceived. I engaged a physician who knew the family to check the accuracy of her assertion with all the possible cautions, and he came to tell me that he reserved no doubt, the material certainty being acquired by him. The spittings of blood that this girl frequently had no longer appeared, and she recovered a colorful complexion which she had lost for some time.
Two men of Lodeve were affected both with a malady having the same character, an old malady, refractory to all remedies; it was a kind of paralysis of the lower limbs. They had an extreme difficulty to make the journey from the city to my domicile, and were only supported by two sticks, and walking in scraping the ground, they gained painfully the place where they had to find the healing of their ills.
Both however were not healed at the same time; one was relieved only at the end of some days, and I was pleased for him to descend five steps of a stairs in my garden without being supported. Soon, becoming more enterprising, he returned to the city his stick on the shoulder, but without being perfectly healed, because it was necessary for more than two months before his restoration was complete.
The other patient was jealous of the prompt amelioration supervening in the state of his comrade; but I did so well that he soon had nothing left to envy him.
Both experienced surprising effects: as soon as they were magnetized, they trembled and were agitated with convulsive movements, as if the had had the Dance of Saint Guy (Vitus). The magnetization terminated, they experienced much heat in the ordinarily cold limbs, and acknowledged each time a feeling of strength that for long times they no more knew.
Their malady came from a chill; all my patients knew them and called them under the name the two panards [splayfooted].
A young man from Paris, sent to Montpellier to try the climate as means to slow a malady of the chest and to prolong a life of which the end was unfortunately too close, came to solicit me doing something for him, and to render him the more supportable life. He was stooped, spitting with difficulty, eating no longer and could not sleep; every night, abundant sweats came then increased his state of weakness. The physician of the savant town had applied to him eight cauteries on the chest, and these emunctories did not suppurate. I did not want to magnetize this patient, I knew his malady very well, and the impossibility of healing it was too well shown to me. However I ended by ceding to the solicitations of persons who were dear, and I magnetized him. To the great surprise of the patient and of his family, from the next day the cauteries rendered abundantly; respiration and expectoration became easier. The sleep did not wait, and this patient, experiencing such happy effects, thought that he was healed; he assured it which so much certainty that it cost me to undeceive him; I only warned all those who had seen him and who knew him that this amelioration was only momentary; I said to them: Soon the attacks will reappear; in that moment alone he enjoyed an artificial life due to the vital principle that I had introduced into his organ, but that impulsion had to have a term, and that would be the signal of his death. And what did the patient do during such a cruel prognosis? To show that his forces were returned, he danced before his friends, he assured that I was the god of medicine; but the more he praised me, the more I was saddened, and I was not wrong. Magnetism, after some time, could only relieve him momentarily and during the session; a few days hence, he could longer support action; and renouncing a treatment which had produced the sole good which he could enjoy, although no other would have procured it, he returned himself into the hands of the physicians of the city, who, excited him charitably against me, made him believe that I was the cause of new attacks which developed and which were only the rigorous result of the march of the disease.
Too much suffering for not being a believer, he went through the city saying that I had killed him and that I was an assassin; he even threatened me by writing about me to be brought before a court. I saw there the too easy influence of an enemy on the mind of a patient; I complained of the injustice of men, and I waited for him to put into execution his projects to be able to freely unmask the baseness of my enemies and to put before the eyes of the patient the fatal truth which he had to ignore!
A boy of twenty-five or twenty-six years, blind for two years, came with his poor mother begging me to try to render him sight; the eye appeared to be sound, a paralysis of the optic nerve had been determined alone for the loss of the vision, and since then all the efforts has been unfruitful to give him even the sensation of light.
Every day at the same hour his mother brought him and every day I tried in vain to put him to sleep; already fifteen days were spent and no modification had taken place; what especially disturbed me, was that he developed no sensitivity to magnetism. – At the moment where I despaired of obtaining nothing, I saw him fall into a half-sleep, and putting to profit this instant I magnetized the region of the eye with all the force of which I was capable. The next day new sleep, new action of my part on the organ of vision; the third day a similar maneuver without this man announcing the least change; only his face and that of his mother appeared all radiant. I perceived also that the retina [pupil] was dilated by a light pressure, that which I had not yet remarked. Finally after some days he could not keep his secret, he avowed to me that he had begun to see, and that finding himself before a mirror and trying to see himself he had perceived his teeth distinctly. What had only been a glow reappeared in a more marked manner after some new magnetizations; he saw his fingers, his baton, his mother. Ah! What delicious sensation he had to feel!
At the end of still more days, he perceived a little postern which existed at the base of a rampart which terminated the promenade of the esplanade; he was then however distant, because he found himself on the route. Parting from this moment, he came alone to my house, and every day his vision took more force and more extension; he recognized people of his acquaintance, letters at the head of a newspaper, and soon the colors of cards; finally he could play and read.
One of his relatives, the Hippocrates and the oracle of the city, who had given him treatments during his cruel infirmity, had received his first visit; I had almost commanded him and he promised me.
My readers, what do you believe that he responded to this man you saw him playing cards and who walked through the whole city without his mother and without his stick? I give you a thousand. The very far seeing physician dismissed him very cavalierly in saying to him: It is your imagination, you are only a fool. – I believe that dating from that moment they were no longer cousins.
I rendered also vision to a young mother of a family; in the body of that one the sensibility of the eyes was not totally extinguished; she saw the light of the sun, but could distinguish nothing but confusedly. Put into somnambulism she indicated with precision the day when she would begin to see; a seton that she wore at the neck was removed by her orders as useless; she avowed to us that many times she had desired to throw herself out the window, and that the fear of God alone had restrained her.
The short term that she had fixed for a favorable change in the state of her eyes arrived, and her prevision was not wrong. She did not let anyone know what she owed me; she was still the best proof of the efficacy of my processes. What could one object to her? She did not see before she came to my house; her vision was weakening by degrees, and no physician had given her hope. Now she worked, went out, came back; the idea of suicide was no longer present to her mind; it was more necessary for me to make of this woman an eloquent defender.
I had in treatment a crowd of incurables capable of filling a vast hospital, all the infirmities of the department were given rendez-vous at my house. – I could not pretend to heal all the sick, but the greatest number could be relieved. This good that they tasted came with an expense of my forces, and I had lavished so much on them that it was time to think about retreat; reason did me a duty. However this was not without a bitter regret that I left the places so propitious to the propagation of magnetism, places where I had done so much for this science!
Never was the life of magnetizer more active; for a long time I magnetized as many as a hundred patients in a single day; I had had up to forty somnambulists at the same time; in certain cases eight, ten, sometimes even more sleeping at the same time. Never did one see the least accident, the least crisis manifesting, without at the very moment all being calmed. The movement very frequently repeated with my arms had much fatigued the joints of the shoulder that sometimes then I felt there pains. Today I could certainly not do what I did then. My life at Montpellier had been debauchery of good, an excess of duties of a man toward others; have I been at least rewarded for so many fatigues, and so many pains and cares?...
The clever ones will come at any house like stragglers after a battle won; they will have done nothing, but they will have raised the word, they will dazzle with great words, and the common always unaware will believe that they have been martyrs; they will demand gold, one will give it to them, because no one will doubt more then the truth that they will have needed to defend me as far as the enclosure of the court.
Very happy, if the power, which will be determined sooner or later to create chairs of magnetism in the schools of medicine, do not name, men who will only have the most vulgar notions of the deep science that they will be charged to teach.
Humanity will be enlightened slowly on the most important discovery of all those that the human genius has been able to make. Must one be discouraged at this thought and cease all work? No, to the contrary. Many workers must not attend the inauguration of the temple which they raise; their ears will never hear the sacred hymns which will be chanted in the honor of the Eternal; what matter, if they carry in dying the conviction that their passage has not been useless, since they have prepared the happiness of their successors?