Jules du Potet de Sennevoy

Magnetism Opposed to Medicine

Magnetism in Beziers

But these men have much to be excusable
and to have desired the good,
their errors are no less errors, fatal errors,
errors which must be destroyed by love for the good.

The friend of his breath rejoins his friend.
Arab proverb

Before leaving altogether the Midi, I rendered myself to Beziers, at the solicitation of many distinguished persons; I opened in this town two courses of magnetism, and then left there numerous students of whom the belief reposed on the irrecusable facts. Here are there names: [A list of forty-five names follow.]

At the end of these courses my gentlemen treated me as a friend; they offered me a banquet which I accepted, and there, a free outpouring came to establish between us a gentle fraternity; they were convinced of magnetism and wanted to realize the good that it can do. A society had to be constituted and a public treatment opened for the poor; magnetism would have established a gentle sympathy between the men moved by the sentiment of the good; the philosophical truth which clearly stands out from the somnambulic phenomena could spread ideas contrary to the prejudices which perpetuate the ill. But today what link can unite men with each other! All are divided, all are separated; it is by chance than one encounters acts of virtue, and it is only by a great constancy and a great obstinacy that one can at times recall men to it; all are effaced very quickly, and common life begins again to be terminated miserably. One knows that all is false and lying around the self, one feels that truth could reign in place of error; but dragged by a whirlwind one ceases without fighting and becomes a toy of the elements that one could enslave.

I left Beziers and I only stopped longer at Bordeaux, where I found my students again, become then more believing by the experiments that they had done and happier perhaps by the moral consequences that their mind had been able to draw from these facts.

I did not want my passage to be useless; I pronounced two discourses before an assembly so numerous that the great hall of the Circus could scarcely contain; and inciting my auditors to the study of magnetism, I perceived, by the numerous testimonies of sympathy which were given me, how much this new science had for the future in this city.

What power dare then to take the initiative! It does not act here of republicanism, of saint-simonism, but only of a great moral and physical truth; men today are as if being needles not magnets; they will only take by chance the direction of the pole; men, I say, do not believe in anything, hope in anything, walk without knowing where is the goal, and the trouble with intelligence which resembles folly has caused to bear frightful suicide.

Enough systems, enough theories on humanity; today no one wishes more because they are all lying and the fruit of combinations of mind and not of nature.

Magnetism reveals a new world; once again it is not a question of hollow ideas, but of facts; and before these facts are spread into the masses and carry there the erroneous beliefs that it will be difficult as a result to destroy, the government must, if it was penetrated with its high mission, name chosen men, not physicians in the likes of Magendie, Cornac, Bouillaud, and Dubois of Amiens, not men of letters like it swarms in all the academies, because those, full of their works and infatuations of their own merit, will only see in nature matter and movement and will only cause then a gross and dead law; but men who have felt the truth and who do not ask more than to sacrifice their life to study more still and spread it. As one deigns to listen to them and to furnish them a convenient place, where their art can at first be exercised in silence and far from the passions of men, and soon it will be recognized that magnetizers have not exaggerated their discovery, because in addition a new medicine essentially conservative and not murderous like the one which exists today, there will then go out the means of moralizing men and of rendering them happy.


The philanthropy of the English, their love of science, those two virtues of a great people, had much resonated to my ears, that it gave me desire to make the voyage to London in order to assure myself whether in fact this nation valued better than mine.

There perhaps, I said to myself, the savants have fewer prejudices than in my country; there, all the useful discoveries are protected and those who teach them are honored, respected, often even enriched; why would magnetism be made exception to the common rule?

I knew well that Mesmer had failed when he had undertaken to spread magnetism at London; I was not ignorant of other isolated attempts, like that of the savants Chenevix and Colquhoun, etc., but I thought that the truth had been poorly presented, and that to make it succeed and prosper in that country it was necessary to disengage it from the marvels of which one had surrounded it.

A single thing much embarrassed me, I did not know the English language; but I made this reflection: “One will believe me as much more since the difficulty of deceiving will be much greater for me.” In fact fraud, if there was, must soon be discovered, since I must have at each moment need of a confidant.

I decided then to cross the strait, and missionary with a new doctrine, I did not have to fear obstacles. To triumph where others had failed appeared to me worthy of desire; I did not listen more to the counsels of experienced people who knew the country that I wished to put in possession the secret of magnetism, and who tried to divert me from my undertaking. Reasonings have no power on the man convinced by his instinct that what he conceives can be realized. He can achieve success through torments without number, through unheard of fatigues; but finally he succeeds, leaving to others the pleasures of reward; for nature seems not to want that men be able to taste at the same time the sweetnesses of glory and those of riches.

MOM Introduction

People Medicine