Jules du Potet de Sennevoy

Magnetism Opposed to Medicine

Magnetism in London

You who dig for the future the vast fields
And sow progress with the celestial seed,
If more than an ear dies under the feet of the miscreants,
From incredulity if the breath is fatal,
Know from one long labor to vanquish the long boredom;
By the perseverance you birth the prodigies;
Great truths will mature on their stems,
Of which the peoples, one day, will collect the fruits....

Like Luther, I have shouted reform!
It is not against the power to loosen the souls
that I come to rise,
but against the one more terrible
to control the bodies and to impoverish them.

I arrived at London, 5 June 1837, without a letter of recommendation, not knowing there a single person, and, as I have already said, without knowing the language. There I was then in this immense city with a truth of which no one had then wanted.

If I had carried a curious beast, an anteater, for example, an orang-outang or some thing similar, my fortune was certain, all the city would run at the moment.

If I had known to sing or dance, like it was the season when one sings and when one dances in additional measure at London, the guineas would have come to me from all sides, and my name would have become European.

But I had no curious animal to show, and one had had the maladroitness of not making of myself either a dancer or a singer; here I was truly a useless being.

Scarcely debarked, I published a prospectus of which here are some fragments:


One calls animal magnetism the action which is manifested on living bodies put into certain relations; this action, that observation comes to grasp, gives positive ideas on the mysteries of life and reveals a new world. I have considered as a holy mission the glorious task to teach a truth so useful to humanity.

Here is the program and order of the course which will begin 20 June 1837.

1st session. – History of animal magnetism since its discovery, and obstacles that this science has had to combat up to this day.
2nd session. – Physical facts which prove indubitably the existence of magnetism; and explains the diverse accounts that savant societies have rendered it.
3rd session. – Marvels of somnambulism, of ecstasy and of catalepsy.
4th session. – Traces of magnetism in antiquity.
5th session. – Processes which serve to develop the magnetic phenomena, and studies of the power by which they are produced.
6th session. – Curative virtue of magnetism recognized by many great physicians.

“From the 7th to the 12th session. – Numerous experiments made on subjects sensitive to magnetic action, and production of somnambulism and of its marvels.

Magnetism being a property of the human organization, every man possesses it and can exercise it; persons who will follow the course will magnetize under the eyes of Baron Du Potet. Of all the discoveries which honor humanity, that of animal magnetism is, without contradiction, the most extraordinary and the most useful!

What is the use of our senses to be dazzled without ceasing by the sight of new objects? What matters to us luxury and abundance, if the possession of the riches can not enlighten us on the laws which rule humanity, and on the means of parrying the accidents which constantly menace and accompany life?

Study of the hidden forces of man by somnambulism draws us from doubt where we were immersed; in learning for ourselves we cease to be the toy of chance and our life can be prolonged.
Extraordinary and divine phenomena which are offered without ceasing to the observation of those who magnetize, provide them with unknown and always new enjoyments; the other sciences, when one wishes to possess then, uses and enervates life; magnetism to the contrary, maintains man in health, favors the development of his intelligence and renders him better and more human.

Already the savant bodies have felt that they could no longer remain strangers to the study of magnetism. All over France and Germany distinguished men are occupied and try to deepen it. In the faculties of medicine of these two countries, one sustains theses in favor of the truth of which we are the most ardent apostles.
England, so fertile in men of merit and of a true philanthropy; England, which knows with nobility to welcome all that which can favor the development of the sciences and contribute to the well-being of humanity, will it remain, in the study of magnetism, behind the peoples that we have just cited? We cannot think it, and the project that we have formed, to spread the discovery of magnetism, justifies the elevated opinion that we have of the savants by whom it is glorified.


Who was astonished, the day of the opening of my course? It was myself, I assure you, because no one came; and isolated, I deplored already the fatal idea which had conducted me to the home of a people who appeared not to have taste for the mesmerian truth, and no desire even to know if this truth existed. I announced in the newspapers that I would teach, to those who wish to know it, the means to produce marvelous phenomena; not a single Englishman bothered himself to see that of which there was question.

When I spoke of magnetism with enlightened men, they seemed to pity me for my belief; some even were less indulgent. Finally they took the language of our savants of France, for twenty years: Embogue, trumpery, charlatanry, etc.

I wrote to all the dispensaries in London, in making the offer to physicians of these establishments to magnetize before them incurables that they wished to bring me; none of them responded. Absolutely like at Montpellier.

I asked on all sides patients to treat gratuitously, but useless troubles! The patients are there very differently than here under medical authority; none of them would dare to try a new medicament without consulting his pharmacist.

Finally there came an Englishman, a true gentleman, who had read many books on magnetism, and produced some magnetic phenomena. He could not consent to bring me persons of his acquaintance, because my apartment, he said, although in a beautiful quarter, was not comfortable (it only cost me a hundred francs per week).


A physician came some days after asking me if I would consent to make some experiments in a hospital; I responded that it was all my desire. Some time later he came to take me and to introduce me at Middlesex Hospital. I was received with laughter by all the assembly, which was very numerous. To put me to proof, they made descend a kind of idiot, and one of the beautiful minds of the place said in English that if I did not put this woman to sleep he would find me a donkey. This most learned one no doubt felt strong enough to replace the animal he proposed to me. I could not, however, do the offer for him, because it is only after being parted from the hospital that I apprehended this fine joke.

My experiments began, as one sees it, under happy auspices. And I was so contrary that it was only at the third seance that one could observe certain effects, and, I must say, my auditors became henceforth more attentive. Doctor Mayo and Doctor Wilson congratulated themselves home no doubt for what they had done. But the more phenomena because curious and satisfying, the more also my audience became scarce; I could not conceive anything more, that appeared inexplicable to me. Finally one good day I found alone with my interpreter, the patients having successively refused to let themselves be magnetized, and the physicians not coming to engage them; not knowing what to attribute this alienation, I took it for an insult, or at least a lack of regards. I deceived myself in all my conjectures; all the physicians had wanted to attend at my experiments, but none wanted to bear the responsibility; and the fear of being reported by the press had been stronger than the curiosity and the desire to be instructed. Those men there knew their country....

I no longer knew how to orient myself; the difficulties appeared insurmountable to me; but in this singular country, if one does not love truth for itself, one esteems much for the bad what it can do his enemy; thus advanced civilization wishes it.

A Tory hospital did not want magnetism, a Whig hospital was going to grab it. Rebutted by Middlesex, I was going to be cajoled by the North London. For an ordinary thing it had been very good; the success of the one who took me under his protection had rolled over the men who had maladroitly abandoned me; one had reported the men lacking in discernment to the point of being able to recognize the most evident truths; but it was magnetism that was involved: my protector had miscalculated, because the men ordinarily enemies were going to unite to combat the impolitic physician who rendered himself the patron of a truth which could one day destroy the whole profession.

Also swayed by the opposing coteries, I should have lost courage; but to reach into this country I had had sea sickness: it was a continuation of the same malaise and of the same sufferings.

Poor innovators, how much you are complaining! Because if the truth is your companion, if your mouth does not opens to spread the lie, the moral misery of the people that you wish to enlighten must sadden your heart the more! All these little passions which are shocking and clashing before you must give a sad idea of men, I want to say philosophers.


I had not hardly made an act of presence at this new hospital and produced some facts, than they were misrepresented by the newspaper which had, by its position, to take the defense of the impugned truth. I believed that it would be good to prevent other attacks and sent to the Lancet a response to its article; I must say it, this response was immediately inserted; I give here the translation of this letter because it will make better known my position and the progress that magnetism began to make since it was attacked.

“To the editor of the LANCET: Sir, The last number of your journal contains an article on the experiments of magnetism made by me in this moment at the Hospital of North London. The desire that I have to spread a useful truth, liberated from all error, makes me write to you to rectify all which is there erroneous in the account that one rendered of my sessions, and to restore the facts that prejudices and a shallow knowledge of magnetism have caused to distort.

“Your journal having the aim to enlighten the savants on the physiological and medical questions of a great importance, you will not refuse me, I am certain of it, the means to defend myself and to cause the ceasing of the doubts that the article that I report to you have been able to bear on my intentions and on the reality of the discovery that I have come to propagate in England.

“It would be too long to follow M.T. in all his hazardous explanations; his letter prickles, and the spirit that he has put there is no doubt to hold the place of depth. One can ‘have been in India, have seen the snake charmers and the necromancers of great Cairo, have perfectly written on all these things;’ and not know a completely new fact; because M.T. knows nothing on magnetism, and has never opened a single one of the five hundred volumes which already exist on this science.

“M.T. avows to only have attended a single time at my experiments; his details have not been given by physicians who were there daily when I operated; finally his narrative seems better made to amuse his readers than to instruct them.

“Introduced, there for nearly a month, at the Hospital of North London by Doctor Elliotson, physician of this hospital, to demonstrate there the existence of magnetism, I have, under the eyes of this distinguished physician, proceeded with some trials which were not presented at first with very great results; but we soon succeeded in arriving at what was the object of our researches; phenomena of the greatest importance offered themselves to our regards, and we had only the more to pursue our tests to be witnesses of singular facts, well capable by their nature to cast a new day on the domain of the sciences, and especially physiology and medicine.

“The narrative of all these experiments will be made, I do not doubt it, by Doctor Elliotson himself. He will render homage to the truth, and will tell what he has seen. One knows very well the character of this savant to not be convinced in advance that his recitation will be rigorously exact.

“Not anticipating the future, I can here however recount what hundreds of persons have already seen, and what thousands of others are called to see.

“Yes, Mister Editor, a new power is being revealed to the world, and already it is no longer a mystery; one encounters everywhere men who search to deepen it and to recognize the laws. It is not in shadow, but in full day that this power can be demonstrated; nothing of the marvelous exists in the processes which serve to make it recognized; and soon there will be no more mystery in its use than in the one of electrical and galvanic machines.

“You will feel how important it is that the first impressions caused by the appearance of this new discovery not be distorted  by the little sincere stories. Public opinion, soon called to be pronounced, must be protected against error, from whatever part it arrives.

“Permit me to enter into some details and to not imitate M.T. Laughter and jokes must not be permitted when there is a high scientific question.

“If it was true that a man could penetrate into another man with a part of the vital principle that his organization harbors, the phenomena which would result from this addition of life made to this individual must have a supernatural character, and surprise both by their novelty and by the dissimilarity they would present with the other phenomena of nature. Ah well, this hypothesis becomes a reality by magnetic action: the individual submits to magnetization, the man who feels the effects of this power, ceases for an instant to be the same being; all is modified in his organization; his perceptions are more prompt, more extended, and he becomes capable of executing things which he had not been able to do and on which he had not reflected in his usual state. Thence a series of inconceivable marvels, and which have at their appearance struck with admiration those who were the first witnesses. The agent which produces a similar state gives the means to heal many maladies rebellious to all the remedies of ordinary medicine; and the ecstatic state that it provokes calls philosophy and medicine to new meditations which, I am certain, will birth doctrines fecund in happy results.

“To propagate a similar discovery, much prudence is necessary to those who in accept the mission: because men are rapid in their assertions, and the suspicions of imposture and of charlatanry weigh always on the one whose actions are not perfectly explained. Already one has said that I have intimate relations with the patients, and that I have intended with them to deceive the men who try to be enlightened. Without considering that I do not speak the language of the men that I magnetize; without considering that I take the first comers for the subjects of my experiments, and that I only ask,  enlightened savants to judge, that there will be more than folly on my part in hoping to convince if I do not have the truth with me.

“Ill will is at the door of all innovators; it remains there until the truth of which he calls himself the interpreter has been recognized, studied, proved, and then the human justice bursts forth, and the man who had enough genius to discover the unknown, receives his reward; but often, before this sentence of the nations, he stops living, for the griefs which envy and ignorance have caused him have shortened his days.

“It will not be the same here, I hope; one will leave me at liberty to spread a new science and to draw the rules in it. Twenty years of experiences and of observations have made me recognize well the occult facts that I am going to reveal. I call everyone to my teachings; in order that the truth be accessible to all, it is necessary that it be clear, evident, comprehensible, and I will accomplish all these promises. Soon, no doubt, thousands of your compatriots will be capable of producing the marvels to which they will be witnesses and sometimes the agents. They will say if my mouth opens to spread the imposture, and if the facts that I have promised to produce were simulated. Then one will judge the man who has come full of confidence to find a free and enlightened nation, to apprehend from him a discovery of which the importance can not then be calculated.

“I wait on you, Mister Editor, that you will, in the interest of the truth, insert this response to the men who, animated no doubt with the desire to enlighten their fellow citizens, nevertheless lack a very essential quality, that of studying their subject.

“If you permit it to me, sir, I will give you a a series of proper articles to make known in England the works of the savants of my country on the subject of magnetism, and give certain notions on the employment of this means as a therapeutic agent. I have the honor to be, etc.”

I continued my experiments, and already men of the highest distinction attended there. Lord Stanhope was one of the first visitors; he recalled without doubt that his father was the defender of Mesmer in England; and taking me perhaps for his successor, he was to me full of goodwill. Many professors of the University came thence, and the movement should no more relent. However the holidays arrived; for, at this period of the year, you do not leave London when one is a physician of the great world; do not leave the city at a given time, it is a very great inconsideration for all who occupy a rank in the medical hierarchy to not avoid with the greatest care. But this fortunate time should not be that of repose: war was declared, it was impossible to retreat.

Doctor Elliotson, too great a physician to remain at London during the holidays, some attraction offering him new experiences, took his flight toward Switzerland. The order had been left by him to allow me the liberty to continue my treatments in his rooms; but he was not arrived already in France that impediments of every kind had arisen. It was the amphitheater that they had refused me, because it belonged to a lone professor to occupy it; it was the patients alien to the hospital to whom they refused entree. Soon even the visitors were repelled, and as this was not for my own instruction alone that I made the experiments, I stopped returning to the North London Hospital.

This suspension, and the distance of the man who could alone defend with success the truth of facts of which he had been witness, would give fine play to the press; the adversaries of magnetism were going to succeed or rather the rivals of the doctor, those who had not known to take a position as good as his, were going to deceive the opinion in order to shed M. Elliotson.

I wrote to M. Lord Stanhope to inform him of the suspension of my experiments and to ask him for his counsels; he responded immediately by the following letter:

“Sir, I was on the point of writing to you to apprehend the rest of your experiments with Okey, Lucy Clarke, Rebecca, and a young epileptic man, and report to you that a surgeon of this neighborhood has the intention of going to London to see them. The news that you communicate to me in your letter causes me a very sensible pain, the more so because they were for me quite unexpected. I do not understand the pretext which has caused the cessation of the experiments at the hospital of the University, I have not seen the newspapers of which you speak to me, with the exception of a satirical article in Blackwood’s Magazine, and I known nothing of M. Berna, of Paris, so that I am in ignorance on all those points, and by consequence out of state to form a competent judgment. I flatter myself that one could begin again the experiments when Doctor Elliotson, who rendered you justice in his speech, will return, or even by the permission of some other physician; but if one is mistaken in this hope, there is nothing which prevents you from continuing the experiments at your house and of making it known by a notice in Lancet, as a journal of medicine, or by other means. The notice should be short and I take the liberty of proposing to you the enclosure that I have drafted, but I count to render myself into the city in a few days and to have occasion to discuss this affair with you.

“Magnetism is a real and very important truth which offers results of the highest interests, and I am always of the opinion: Great is truth and it will prevail. In this country the spirit of party is mixed in everything, but your process should suffice to convinced the most incredulous. It is however very disagreeable and discouraging to be exposed to the attacks where ignorance is allied with vulgarity, when even one could respond in interpreting your justifications.

“M. Colquhoun, advocate at Edinburgh, has published in two volumes a very instructive and enlightening book on magnetism and speaks of you. If you have desire to write to him on the difficulties which have presented themselves, I will gladly take care to send him your letter, and I will also write to him on my behalf. I have the honor to be, Sir, your very humble and very obedient servant, Lord Stanhope.”

Poor public, you who believe that savants and physicians respect each other and that they esteem the truths which much influence your happiness, that they finally have some pity on the ills that you suffer; go, I know them as your masters and your directors; before me their soul has spoken, their instincts are made known; I have contemplated all; nothing will be lost of what I have seen and heard; soon no doubt, snatching from them the mask with which they cover themselves, you will see what there is of the generous in the man that you honor.

I who believed that there is more virtue, more sincere love of the rights of humanity in the savants of a people whose power governs twenty nation, and that I will find there near them support which I had lacked in my country, I was dazzled by your renown; your philanthropists appeared to me as giants; but similar to the flying baton of the fable, it is something from far and it is nothing near. Your renown, powerful Albion, is founded on charlatanry, lie and pride; all that which is not moved by one of these motivators languishes in your bosom and dries up. But already your empire is being torn, the corrupting poison of the false sages and of the false savants have penetrated into the entrails of the people; the cries of its suffering and of its misery resound from one pole to the other, and you have no remedy to oppose this terrible scourge.

Flee, you who have the sensibility; here one cannot understand you, you want to allege the evils of others, take your step elsewhere, here there is no echo for you. You see, all is cold and icy; it is only a shadow of humanity, the warmth is then on the continent.

This cry of suffering has not escaped me in thinking all that I have borne insult and irony in spreading in England the germ of the new truth, in recalling that the press has dragged me into the muck while those who would tear me then have known me personally, without studying the science of which I have come to enrich them.

“In moral England,” one of the journalists has written, “a man like a magnetizer should be thrown into prison with thieves;” and reporting my house as a suspect place, he engaged his fellow citizens to keep themselves from approaching it. And you ask why? It was all simply for the money which he wanted to take from me, this man of moral England.  [Note: Do you know how a journalist gets gold in this country of liberty? He does not limit himself to attack the man that he wishes to exploit; he will make, one by one, all the stories of the private life of each of the persons who will dare to put the foot into the house on which he has placed his red seal; he will expose them on the hot seat, in searching into the family to discover there the weaknesses of each member, that he will have soon traduced into turpitude, as far as finally he has succeeded in making a desert of this house. And if you, man of heart, you wish to obtain justice, you can not, because the one that will be condemned to the fine will not be the author of the diatribes of which you have suffered; it will only be a man of straw who, without complaining, will let himself be put into prison because one would have care that his life be comfortable there. He will pass his days if you wish, while the man who has dishonored you is at your house, at your side perhaps, because you can neither know him by consequence nor pursue or kill him.] But he did not achieve his goal; only two or three physicians, cowards of their nature, would no more dare to reappear in the fear of being reported as my peers.

Attacked from all sides, I had to bow the head and let the storm pass; because how to respond to twenty papers at the same time? I placed then my confidence in the future, and the future has not deceived me; the truth has it not always the reason in the end?

I wrote a single supporting memorandum; it cannot fail to offer some interest, because it contains good explanations and refutations for those to know who defend our cause.

Response of Baron du Potet de Sennevoy to the attacks directed against his experiments at Middlesex and University College Hospital, and refutation of some objections that one opposes to the existence of animal magnetism.

“When a man has recognized a truth in opposition with the prejudices, and especially the numerous interests, it must be asked, if this task is not beyond his forces. He must study the obstacles that one will oppose to his efforts, the number of the enemies that he will have to combat and the time where he lives. These well examined, he must ask himself then if he will have enough courage to accomplish his work and to combat to the utmost the enemies of progress. The step indicated by reason, I have not followed; sure to possess a great truth, I have calculated nothing, and have gone full of ardor ahead of the men who have contested it. I have not delayed to recognize that in making myself the defender of a just cause, I followed a thorny career, full of difficulties which had to deprive me of the soft life which seemed to be reserved to me.

“In fact, scarcely had I made some steps than I recognized how difficult it would be to cause the adoption by science of a new fact of which the cause was hidden and that one had already declared it not to exist. But to step back, it would have been to lie to my conscience and to commit a great cowardice. I swore then to dedicate my entire life to the defense of a truth on the value of which all my senses had been consulted.

“It is the devotion to the new science which brings me today before your readers to justify the magnetizers from the infamous suspicion that one has launched against them. It is finally to respond to the unjust attacks that one directs to all parts against a useful discovery, and to protest with all my power against the erroneous ideas that one tries to make prevail.

“If I have chosen, Mister Editor, England in preference to other countries to make known magnetism, it is that I have judged that England, fertile in good observers and in men animated with a true philanthropy, would be capable of taking part and in deepening a discovery called to act morally and physically on the nations. I am far then from being undeceived; the obstacles that one opposes to my first steps once crossed, I will find generous men, friends especially of the truth; it will be to me to convince them of the existence and of the importance of magnetism; and, if I succeed to my goal, their support will not fail me.

“Magnetism being most especially in the spirit of medicine rather than philosophy, it is to physicians that I have first addressed myself; because one must naturally consider them as the best judges of all which happens in a human machine. Magnetism besides acts more on the sick man than on the one who is in good health, it is in the places consecrated to pain that its curative virtue must be observed.

“A foreigner and not knowing a word of English, I have had, at my arrival, to search for persons who, as myself, believe in magnetism, or those who have the desire to be convinced of its existence. Presented to a session of the Royal Society by a member of this body, I made the acquaintance of some physicians who, without believing all that one recounts of the marvels of magnetism, were however brought to adopt a part. Many told me that they had seen nothing, but that the testimonies coming from persons worthy of faith did not permit them to doubt the existence of magnetism. Experiments were proposed to me, and 12 June last, in the presence of twenty persons, I commenced the employ of magnetism at the Middlesex Hospital. A young girl almost an idiot was magnetized first, and felt no sensible effect; but in the following sessions I was more fortunate; several women felt marked effect; one especially, whose eyes were bandaged by precaution, because one accused her imagination to be the cause of the phenomena produced, experienced the contractions of the limbs, in spite of the bandages and the voluntary resistance that she opposed herself to the manifestation of her sensations. Another patient, magnetized at more than thirty steps distance, experienced effects very marked in spite of the distance. This experiment, repeated before many persons, caused M. Mayo to say that this surprising phenomenon determined his belief in magnetism. Many other patients began equally to be impressed by magnetism, when, I do not know by what motive, one successively drew them from my hands; and I had, at the eighth session, to stop, to my great regret, the experiments which promised an ample harvest of observations. But to continue my trials, it was needed for me the aid of physicians of the hospital, each of them had a motive to not be present at my experiments; numerous occupations prevented them no doubt.

“One tried to make known that my retreat took place as the result of failure, while it had only honorable motives for cause. The story of the Medical Gazette is then erroneous; and if one denied again my assertions, I proposed to recommence the experiments, very certain of success: because if lucidity does not manifest every day when you desire it; the physical magnetic effects are easy to obtain.

“Several other hospitals offered me to demonstrate magnetism there. If I have a good memory, I think to recall that the most violent of my antagonists was one of the most hasty in this offer, and that he witnessed to me how he was angered with the processes of the physicians at the Middlesex Hospital.

“Introduced to North London, the first words of Doctor Elliotson, distinguished physician of this hospital, were these: ‘In the efforts that you are going to make to prove magnetism, if you produce no good effect, I will say it; if you obtain before me useful results, I will say it equally so.’ This frankness pleased me much, I will avow it: because it is truth that I want to spread and not error. It is before enlightened men that I wish to make magnetism prevail; because my fear is only that this discovery remains ignored; but my chagrin will be to see it descend into the people before the savants have traced the rules of its employ.

“One knows that my experiments have been long extended at North London. One knows that I have magnetized many patients who became sensitive to magnetism and experienced good effects. These experiments would still persist, if, in the absence of Doctor Elliotson, one had signified to me that the rules of the hospital were opposed to my receiving foreign persons into this place. It is necessary to say that many came: because my desire to convince had made me engage the curious to attend these experiments, and to bring there the sick.

“One has written that North London Hospital became by my tests a school of jugglery, and I dare to say that one day, the truth being recognized, the North London will be proud to have been the first to open its doors to a truth that all the savant bodies rejected.

“One has called me a peddler from all parts; one has treated me as a hornet in a swarm of bees. Ah! Why then, if I have succeeded not at all, does one fear so much? Is it because I am a foreigner? But I can assure that in France I have received at my house a good number of English, and that they have not had to complain. I have searched well the motive of so little courtesy, there is only one that I can divine; but I will not tell it now: one will provide me without doubt later the occasion to not let it be ignored; but today the one who knows the secrets of his enemies wants to leave ignored his own.

“One got caught in publicity; one has exhumed in boxes all the [written] pieces against magnetism; without considering that this formidable artillery had not killed any one of its partisans; that to the contrary this unjust war had defined much of good minds to deepen the issue, and that from this examination there resulted the convictions in favor of our ideas.

“It is then necessary that we speak also of these reports. Yes, there existed the one of Deslon, the former regent doctor, Varnier, and many other physicians that one chased from the school, as it had done with the first partisans of the emetics; the one of Jussieu who to you is one a little contrary; the one of 1784 signed by the great names; but it is necessary to avow that there is a great contradiction: because to say that a thing is dangerous, it is to avow implicitly that it exists. There is the one most recent of Husson, Fouquier, Gueneau de Mussy, Itard, Tillay, Marc, Guersent, Bourdois de la Motte, etc.; that one can not be contradicted, and they will keep it from being published. It is very probable even that one of the great observers, M. Dubois of Amiens, would have been passed over in silence, if he had been favorable.

“It is also necessary that one hold to account the thirty-five voices out of sixty members of the Academy who have voted in this question; and these thirty-five were given by the men who have seen facts and examined magnetism.

“It is necessary then to add M. Cloquet, who did not lie about his operation, that one has alleged that he signed a negative report; and it is not to him that we must blame, but to M. Dubois (of Amiens) who in this circumstance has not wanted to tell the truth.

“And since the antagonists of magnetism give their opinion, it is necessary also that they permit us to cite those of Cuvier, Laplace, Deleuze, Georget, Bertrand; because, it they adopt this latter for the antagonist to magnetism, the greatest pleasure that they can do us, it is to recommend his works. One will hold account also of the opinion of the dean of physiologists of France, M. Lordat, that of M. Ampere, the celebrated physicist, that of M. Francoeur: this is then a man of whom the opinion is worth something. It would be very difficult for me to exhaust the matter; and I assure you that my list will resemble an encyclopedia, because Fouquier, Marjolin, Dumas, Delpit, Despine, Rostan, are men of whom one cannot contest the merit. But that is not at all yet; I can cite the names of the first magistrates of my country; men who have the misfortune to be strangers to medicine, but who have no less of very great lights. And finally France is not the sole place where magnetism is practiced: Germany, Russia, America, all these countries have a great number of partisans of this science. One has thought that a low levee will suffer to stop a river which overflows; it is a thought which can only come to God: because how would it be possible to the savants who can not destroy one of the thousands of existing systems, systems solely based on reasoning, how, I say, would they have the pretension to prevent the magnetic doctrine from being expanded, which has innumerable facts for basis?

“It is painful to think that the greatest wrong of the magnetizers in admitting their discovery has been to sustain that the magnetic effects are the product of a force that they have called magnetic. If they had said: ‘It is our imagination which acts on the patients; it is the action of a strong soul on a weak soul which is the cause of the phenomena that we obtain; we know better than anyone come the mind acts on matter, etc.;’ all the savants would be exclaiming on this assertion; they would have well known to prove that nature constrained all the individuals due to the same laws; that it is neither imagination, nor the soul on which the magnetizer acts, but all the action simply which results from two organized bodies, put into certain relations. They would have called in testimony the generally recognized phenomena of sympathy and of antipathy. They would have soon recognized in us the magnetic fluid, or a kind of electricity: but why does one not see it, having found it in the air, in the mineral kingdom, and lately in the plant kingdom, why, I ask, man, this head of the animal kingdom, would be deprived. Here then, they would have proved that many fish possessed the electric property, and could even kill at a sufficiently great distance other fish and even men. But the contradiction is sometimes profitable; it furnishes the occasion to write with luminous reasons and to make reputations: during this time the honors and the money rain on you. There arrives one day when all this scaffolding of opinions falls on itself: you cease to be a great man without ceasing to be academies; what matters then your reputation if you have lived well? Because for good men it is the aim of life. Here, Mister Editor, it is only of my country that I wish to speak.

“When magnetism will be well understood, and it will make on the savants no more effect than the light on certain patients, one will explain its irresistible action on the human body, as one explains now that of different agents in nature. It will neither appear then neither absurd nor ridiculous to believe in the singular effects, because one will find the cause of it is natural.

“Today it is necessary then to respond to the objections, and to show how an experimenter can very well not prove that which he advances, without the one in the right to class his unsuccess in the rank of voluntary and premeditated frauds.

“When some men only recount the marvelous facts in assuring to have produced them,  one can contest their testimony and believe that they are in error, especially if the facts are of an order superior to usual phenomena of nature. These denials acquire more value then, when, having wished to show and to prove these facts, one does not succeed. But if from all parts the same facts are attested by the most honorable personages; if thousands of men assure again that they have seen with their own eyes, one must believe then that there is sometimes the impossibility of showing them when one desires it, and that nature can not always obey the desires of the magnetizer when these desires are especially contrary to the laws which it has established. To call jugglers, mystifiers, charlatans, the men who are unhappy enough to not succeed in a delicate experiment, it is to be shown animated by a profound hate against magnetism: because the best professors of chemistry and physics, acting on inorganic bodies and by consequence constant in experiments, because of foreign and often very weak causes have come to destroy or alter the conditions of success.

“The action of seeing without aid of the eyes, even at a distance, a phenomenon which one denies, I myself adopt, because I have seen it and produced it often, even in the open. The law in virtue of which this faculty exists, I avow that I do not entirely understand; but I know perfectly what prevents the manifestation of it in certain cases, because it has also occurred to me of not always succeeding, and here is the explanation.

“When I have acted on a somnambulist in silence and in contemplation, and as I have only had near to me inoffensive persons who do not know what is going to be produced, or who attend without suspecting my intentions, I was calm and tranquil; the action of my being on the somnambulist was regular nearly like the one of a physical machine; and what passed into the somnambulist was also regular. Nature then was manifested without constraint, and the phenomena which resulted had a particular character, and almost always satisfying.

“But it was otherwise, when my desire to cause to participate men who doubted my stories made me admit my experiences. Soon those acted on me by their doubt expressed often by biting words or bitter laughs. Thenceforth I ceased to be calm and tranquil, my mind entered into an extreme agitation; my heart battled with violence, and it is in this unfavorable physical and moral disposition that I was obliged to justify my assertions. I should have avowed that I could do no more, but pride prevented listening to the voice of wisdom.

“What happened then? The being that I magnetized, and who had no reason to be troubled, because he usually did not know what had to pass in his sleep, no longer slept in the same manner; his cheeks colored, his heart beat like mine, and, thus he fell into somnambulism, I perceived soon that this was no longer the regular state of his past sleeps, and that the state of agitation and of trouble from my being had developed in him the same super-excitation; and it is in this contrary disposition that I pressed him to obey, that I solicited him to give me proofs of his vision. He consented there, to the truth, with difficulty (because he was warned that changes were operating on him), but finally he consented; and soon we had the proof that his lucidity no longer existed, and that all his previsions were inexact.

“This failure, in putting me outside myself, only caused to add to the difficulties which already existed, and rendered negative experiments. Many lessons of this kind would finally enlighten me, and I acquired proof that I had discovered the cause of the unsuccess of these experiments, when, repeating them before the same men, I was resolved enough to be insensible to their talk, and to no longer allow myself to be influenced by their mocking regards. Water, if transparent as it is when it is calm and tranquil, no longer reflects objects as soon as it is agitated; even the mirror tarnished by a light breath ceases to be faithful. If you cause humid currents to penetrate near to an electric machine, though you turn the crank correctly, you will not obtain electricity. These passing accidents having ceased, ordered its course; but those who have only perceived the disorder accuse you of falsehood, and one adds your name to those of all charlatans.

“What to do then in these circumstances? Pity the men who force you to bend the head under their precipitate judgments, wait until time gives you benefit of cause over them, for, when men deny a fact that nature proves, it is very certain that this will end sooner or later to be right.

“Here is a fact of sight, without aid of eyes, attested by educated men, and which finds naturally its place here. We choose it among a hundred others, because those who have observed it are living and holding today a distinguished rank in the Faculty of Medicine of Paris. I extract this fact from the Dictionary of Medicine, printed at Paris in 1827, the article Magnetism.

“After having spoken about somnambulic faculties in general, M. Rostan, professor of the Faculty, expressed himself thus: ‘But, if the vision is abolished in its natural sense, it is thoroughly demonstrated by myself that it exists in many parts of the body. Here is an experiment that I have frequently repeated; this experiment has been made in the presence of M. Ferrus. I took my watch that I placed at three or four inches behind the head; I asked the somnambulist if she was some thing: Certainly, I see some thing which shines; this makes me ill. Her face expressed pain; ours had to express astonishment; we looked at ourselves, and M. Ferrus, broke the silence, he said to me that, since she was some thing shining, she told no doubt what it was.

“‘What is it that you see shining? – Ah! I do not know; I cannot tell you it. – Look well? – Wait... it fatigues me... Wait... it is a watch. A new subject of surprise. But if she sees that it is a watch, then said M. Ferrus, she will no doubt see the hour that it is. – Could you tell the hour it is? Oh! No, it is too difficult. – Pay attention, try again. – Wait... I will try... I will tell perhaps the hour, though I could never see the minutes. After having tried with greatest attention: It is eight hours minus ten minutes; that was exact. M. Ferrus wanted to repeat the same experiment, and he repeated it with the same success. He made me turn the hands of his watch many times; we presented it to her without having looked at it, she was not mistaken.’

“There will honestly be a day to read what one then has accumulated of the sophisms for proving that man does not act on his fellow, while it is recognized that two molecules have this property.

“Do we explain how lucidity is operated, and do we believe its possibility, say the antagonists of magnetism, as if they could explain all the phenomena of nature. Let them tell us how opium causes sleep, how their arms move. Alas! How they confess it themselves, they know infinitely few things, and they contest a new fact because this fact does not enter into their mind. They cry to us: ‘The eyes is made to see, the ear to hear;’ we know it as well as they, but we know also that the ear and the eye are only instruments, and that the principle which sees and which hears is not the organ itself. That this principle can not be transported onto some other part of the body, it is an opinion which is denied by the facts produced by other causes than animal magnetism. Catalepsy, ecstasy observed by so many able physicians, offer the most complete and most evident proof of the transposition of the senses. To deny all these testimonies, is to be very bold; it is to presume that one possesses a great genius; and in this case, one must accord the right to ask for proofs.

“Before the laws of gravitation had been discovered by Newton, when the savants wrote on the configuration of the earth, some sustained that it was perfectly round, others flat. A good number tried to prove that it was immobile, and that there were no antipodes, because, ‘if there was, they would necessarily have the head at the foot; how ridiculous it is to think.’ One knows what has become of all these opinions. It will be the same for vision without the aid of the eyes. One must hope that the mystery which accompanies this phenomenon will soon cease to exist. But somnambulic lucidity is only one of the facts of magnetism; there are thousands of others that its adversaries forget; and moreover these facts are as interesting and perhaps more useful to study. It would be necessary here for a whole treatise to make them known, and I must close in the limits of a newspaper article.

“I am forced then to only attach myself to one thing: magnetism acts powerfully in all the nervous affections, and renders possible the healing of some maladies that the whole art of medicine could not succeed to heal. There is that which one must first verify; but it seems for our adversaries that it is there the least important part. For me, who has always preferred the life of my fellows to the experiments of vain curiosity, it is on the point of view of its utility especially as I have studied and envisioned magnetism; it is as a means of treatment, as a therapeutic agent, that I have always employed it. If sometimes I have lent myself to experiments that one has solicited from me, I have always had place to repent: because, in those cases, the patients on which I have acted were much less healthy after the preceding experiments, and their restoration was retarded. It would be well, sooner or later, to seriously examine magnetism; but it is to be regretted that those who should be the first instructed in its results are the last to know them.

“Will England see its savants neglect this study? Will our appeals be disdained? Will one continue to cast on us the suspicions of charlatanry, of jugglery, and will one then long class the facts that we produce in the annals of voluntary and premeditated frauds?... The opposition of the current savants would seem to suggest it. But the truth will penetrate the masses, it will reach them in spite of all resistance: because when once magnetism is a physical truth, it can not fail to triumph with all the enemies determined against it.

“There will be disorders, abuses; it would be necessary to research what one will disdain to learn; it will be necessary to know a fact of which one can be the victim. But it will be too late: magnetism is not all the other sciences; it carries with it new moral beliefs; and you will have, by your obstinacy or your ill will; been the cause of frightful ills, that one could never extirpate from the nations. One will curse you, because it is from high that light must descend: ‘there are superiors who must illumine the inferiors, for me to use a figure of the ancient philosophy.’ Let one cast away as much as one would wish the writings against magnetism and against its results; be certain that they will not at all prevent the truth from being produced. One will place the works of Dubois (d’Amiens), Bouillaud, Virey aside with those of thirty other antagonists of magnetism; and all these masterpieces will return to the sublime treatises left us by the sublime geniuses who wished to prove to their contemporaries that the earth did not turn and the blood did not circulate.

“Let me be permitted, in terminating this letter, to express a regret, the one to see so many scholarly men delivered to denials, in place of deepening a science which offers such a vast field to their observations. Let them deign then to try a power that they have in themselves, and accept the offer that I have made to them in drawing the rules. Their discussion will then become profitable, and humanity will thank them for they will have served to illuminate its march.”

Baron Du Potet.    London, 20 December 1838.

My perseverance was profitable to me. The newspapers became silent, because they were condemned to give news every day to their readers; when they did not have any, it was necessary that they fabricate it, and this sophisticated food resembled as much the aliments prepared in the times of drought, and which are things only for filling stomachs and not for nourishing bodies. My experiments, denatured by the newspapers, had, for some time, brightened the readers without enlightening their reason; that had to have a term, and this term soon arrived.

The stories of some personages of high distinction, who had attended my experiments at Middlesex and North London hospitals, the benevolent recommendations of Lord Stanhope, and perhaps also the reading of my memorandum, had produced a veritable reaction in my favor. The press had taken so much care of me, that in spite of itself no doubt it had acquitted me a veritable celebrity; and at London, when one has begun to attract regards, the crowd rushes, it increases; soon it was a furor.

From all parts they hastened to my house; ambassadors, counts and marquises, princes, dukes, I had the badge of honor to see my salon filled every day by pictures of three kingdoms; my house was the rendez-vous of fashion. Not to be seen in what passed there, not being able to repeat some scenes, it was from negligence; one could no longer be part of the fashion. [FN: 8 January 1837, attending my experiments were the personages of whom the names follow: A list of nearly forty lords, ladies, barons, counts, bishops, physicians, etc. is given.]

Physicians vied then for the favor of attending my seances. Curiosity pushed them to my house, because I announced a means to heal patients by the production of unusual phenomena. The court had to attend my demonstrations; my antagonists then, in fear that I delight their rich prey, almost became my friends, for the high favor which I enjoyed near to the great world gave me a kind of power which rendered me formidable in their eyes.

Good people, reassure yourself; you do not see then that this favor is only due to the distraction that I have procured with loafers! Do you think that they will give themselves the trouble to examine and to deepen a science which demands some effort of mind? MEN OF LEISURE WANT TO BE AMUSED AND NOT ENLIGHTENED. This rich aristocracy will diminish nothing in tribute that it pays for every day; accustomed as it is to your remedies, do not fear; nothing changes with such difficulty as the bad habits. Your pharmacies will preserve their splendor; a century still is necessary in this country that your poisons be observed there.

Yes, I could say to the distinguish personages that you have not been able to prevent coming to my house: “Your physicians have a good medicine for them, because it enriches them; but this medicine is not made for the sick;. See, far from diminishing their ills, it aggravates them to the contrary. The hand of a friend is preferable to the savant compositions of the art; do not put sophistication in a lamp close to being extinguished, because you could not relight it; but give a little of your life, and this human lamp will enlighten them sometimes.”

Physicians, would you have no pity on foolish humanity? Does it matter then a little to your eyes that the ills increase and be perpetuated, provided that you be at ease in this atmosphere of pains? Return then to the less egotistical sentiments, and if you do not wish to be dispensers of the truth that I carry, cease then at least to be the oppressors.

I knew that the proofs that I gave without ceasing of magnetism were attenuated by the reasoning of my adversaries, when I was no longer there to fight them; but to retake the advantage which they made me then lose and to destroy their arguments, I placed myself to act in new conditions that I will make known.

Experiments made on the men of good health and of an avowed incredulity.

My trials on patients, while developing extremely curious physical phenomena did not convince enough to win public opinion, and take away all suspicion on the reality of the facts that I produced. Many physicians thought and said that these patients could be gaining a prize of money, lending themselves to play an infamous role, but which had to serve to acquire for me a reputation. I have known to devour the pains caused me by these suspicions, hoping that they would have an end, and that one would render me justice some day. But to hasten this moment, I prepared myself to make public experiments on people of the world, on known men, on whom the suspicion of being accomplices could not be cast. I had a double purpose in act thus: to convince that magnetism is a physical force acting on persons in good health like on patients, and to prove that incredulity or doubt prevented its action not at all.

My first trials were at North London Hospital on some young students, and developed sensible effects but of little importance, except however on a young physician named Hunter who experienced extremely curious effects. I will not give the details of these experiments, because I have to speak on facts of a more general notoriety.

At the moment when my experiments commenced to make sensations, they brought to my house many distinguished personages; many provoked me and engaged me to magnetize them in saying: “Convince us and all the world will believe.”

There was at first Lord Dengastrie who, while of great physical strength, had to cede to a power which often enjoyed the resistance that one opposed to it. Magnetized the first  time with three later, he sensed little of anything. The next day the phenomena were more marked; at around twenty steps of distance, he was obliged to bow down at a sign of my hand, and to remain bent for as long as I wished. When in this position I turned around him, at some steps of distance, he followed my movements in turning on himself, but only being able to raise himself when I had there consented. His eyes also were closed at a great distance to me, when I directed my fingers toward them. An extreme agitation manifested itself equally when I directed the hand towards his feet.

A more surprising effect of magnetism took place on the colonel of the Guards of the Queen, Achberman. Magnetized before a great number of persons of the court, he soon experienced singular sensations. His face became red and animated; his eyes seemed to bulge out of the orbits; and soon, giving signs of the most vivid anger, he darted from his seat, seeming to search in the middle of the crowd for the person who must be the victim of his fury. It would be impossible here to render this scene. All the people who were witness of it were filled with fear; many even, seized with dread, left the hall with precipitation, so much the fear of a danger had won the assembly. The looks of the magnetized one had then something so terrible that no one dared to brave them. No doubt none of the audience could believe in that instant that the signs of my hand would calm this moral tempest as they had caused it to be born; no doubt also they exaggerated the dangers of magnetism; and the same men who, before this experiment, laughed at me and the processes that I employed, would not wish in the moment that I would try  the efficacy on them.

And how do we choose the phenomena which are born in such circumstances to not have a terrible aspect? You provoke by your disdain and your injurious doubts the one who, sure of the truth, says to you that tranquility of mind is necessary so that the action is regular and salutary. You put into question his probity and his avowals, and cause to bear in him a state of passion and of anger. He no longer desires a thing but: to vanquish, and to prove to you his victory in annihilating your forces.

Those who were present, and who have seen me magnetize the colonel, will still keep the memory; they will recall that if my power had for an instant diminished, that if I had not been initiated deeply to some of the secrets of magnetism, I would have been able to compromise life, or at least the health of the one who was submitted to my experiments, which here all occurred well; the reason of the magnetized one returned gradually, and at the end of an hour it remained no more to him than a shock to the nervous system, a vague inquietude which, however, lasted some days. When M. Achberman returned to see me, he was far from being tranquil in my house; one saw in all his person a singular trouble, and the fear of submitting himself to a new trial which dominated in him the desire that he had expressed elsewhere to still be magnetized. [Note: I have learned since that he had obtained similar effects on one of his friends, before a great number of unbelievers.]

I made with great repugnance these kinds of experiments, because magnetism, after my conviction, should only be employed on the sick, to repair the disorders by their maladies, and not on the men in good health. But how to resist the provocations which renew themselves twenty times in a day? How to make heard the language of truth to men who refused all preliminary explanation, to the curious wanting, above all, to see the facts produced?

Once entered in this course, I had to continue walking thus. It was not the means to prove the curative action of magnetism; but in this manner I gained partisans to its cause, and at the same time I destroyed the arguments of the antagonists of this science, for, according to them, “the alleged magnetism only acts on weak persons and nervously disposed, by their organization, at the impressions coming from imaginary causes; the strong and robust men should not by consequence feel anything.”

I continued then my experiments, and soon new facts were observed on men who submitted themselves to my tests. One, the Lord Jousselin, after some passes made in front of him, rose up in begging me to cease my action; suffocation was manifested, and the embarrassment that he felt made him fear a suspension of respiration. However my adversary was at least six feet tall and appeared gifted with a strong physique even superior to my own. Lord Cantelupe, in some minutes, was seized by sleep; he avowed that if I had continued to magnetize him, I would have put him to sleep entirely. Lord Grey experienced the same effects.

I pass here many other experiments made on persons who avowed publicly to have felt effects. As these effects were not very apparent for persons who were witnesses, one could believe that the imagination had some part there; but I made to feel with much violence my influence on a member of the Chamber of the Commons, M. Milne, who had laughingly provoked me, and who returned two times to submit himself to magnetism. I had to cease my test at the end of ten minutes, because the pallor of his face and the state of his respiration did not permit me to push them further. He avowed that the voice had lost him when he had wanted to speak in order to beg me to discontinue.

Another member of the Parliament, M. M...., came with a physician to attend my experiments, begged me to try my action on him in the presence of his physician. I consented; and soon he manifested suffocation and an irresistible need to walk. Soon a convulsive laugh took place, and this nervous state lasted nearly half an hour. Some days later, I had the occasion to magnetize him anew, and the sensitivity was then much greater. At ten steps I closed his eyes without him being able to open them; when I continued to direct my hands toward their region, the head lowered in spite of him, and when with efforts of will he succeeded to raise it, it was soon again carried on to the chest. The same magnetic effect took place when I magnetized him standing, and being at five or six steps behind him a door which prevented me from being perceived. In this position, he was drawn in spite of himself into my direction, and approached the spot where I was placed.

I developed then very remarkable phenomena on the young Russian prince Gagarin, who came to my house with five of his friends, among whom was his physician. Three of them delivered themselves to my experiments, and experienced the least contestable effects.

I will be reproached no doubt for not having succeeded on all those that I have magnetized; certainly, I confess it, many of the attempts have not been followed with results. But who does not know that the best vaccine does not take on all those one inoculates? Who does not know that a quantity of alcoholic liqueur, taken in the same dose by a certain number of men, only puts some into intoxications? Who then does not know that opium does not always produce sleep, even given at the very strong dose? Will one say that wine does not intoxicate, as opium does not produce sleep, or even that manna is not purgative because certain stomachs digest it? It seems that in the question of magnetism many men have sacrificed their reason, and that in them there is a part taken in advance to repel the new truth without wanting to examine the facts which serve to support them.

This digression has drawn me a little far from my subject; but it is not useless, because it brings me to this conclusion, that the man in good health is sensible to magnetism, like the sick man: that in the first health can be altered one instant by the application of a new agent, and that in the second equilibrium can be restored by a series of mesmerian operations, when he has been deranged by a malady.

I must add that, even as magnetism doe not always develop visible effects, its action has not at least place in all those magnetized. This action is then comparable to the one which results from the ingestion of chemical and physical agents that we have cited above; although they do not have apparent phenomena, they have not less given place to incontestable modifications.

I have not cited witnesses to prove the facts that I come to advance; they have had such a great publicity, so many honorable persons have seen them produced, that anyone of my assertions could not be denied. I could add here a host of other experiments, made with a great success, on young strong and robust men, unbelievers in magnetism; but I will end by a last fact of this kind, that more than a hundred persons have seen and that they could attest.

In the month of May 1838, I received a letter from Madame Merianne Campbell; this lady asked me if I would consent to magnetize some persons of her acquaintance in a seance which would take place at my house; I acquiesced very willfully. At the day convened fifteen or twenty persons arrived at the rendez-vous; M. Barke, one of the invited, wished to be magnetized. He assured me that I would not produce any effect on him because he did not believe in magnetism. I commenced however and at the end of some minutes I could perceive that he was very sensitive to my action; I ceased soon to magnetize him closely; I placed him a dozen steps from me and at this distance we remained both standing, the regards fixed the one on the other. Soon his attitude changed completely; his head was carried backwards, his arms were stiff and convulsed; he raised himself on tiptoes and in this position he balanced as a man in the state of intoxication; then constrained from advancing in my direction, he made a step forward, and at the instant he was obliged to raise himself again on tiptoes to sustain himself by an effort of resistance to the powerful attraction which acted on him; but vain efforts! He did not delay but an instant the moment of his arrival at the place that my will had assigned to him; he finally arrived there, and on a single sign of my hand he stepped forward as a man who makes a profound salute. I extended then my hand on the carpet, and his body was attracted there with so much violence that he fell as an inert mass; one raised him; he had only a very imperfect idea of all which had passed.

These extraordinary facts were repeated by the persons who composed this gathering; they discovered many unbelievers and perhaps M. Barke himself. Mme Campbell solicited me anew to magnetize one who had offered us such curious facts; the number of persons admitted to this seance was raised to at least sixty, and among them men of the highest distinction, Lord Nugent, Marquis de Sligot, etc. I commenced then to magnetize M. Barke; we were placed the one and the other on a straight line and around twelve steps apart. The effects were almost the same as the preceding seance; perhaps they were only a little more difficult to obtain. However he advanced, following the impulse of my will, coming to pass between two armchairs which were before me and on my sides. Arrived near to me I forced him, without touching him, to bow down, and soon giving more force to my will I made him fall to the floor with so much violence that his clothes were torn in his fall; many persons were very fearful; they feared that he would not have done much harm, but as the first time one raised him, and when one recounted to him what had happened to him, there was no wish to believe.

I repeat here that I knew nothing at all of this young man, that I had never talked with him, and that thus I had not been able to act on his mind; otherwise he avowed loudly that he did not believe in magnetism.

It would be impossible to render the sensation that all the persons experienced who attended these two seances. It would have been desired that all the unbelievers should witness of such convincing effects; perhaps finally they would have been rendered to the evidence. But I am wrong, those who would not have known M. Barke personally would be able to believe that he was my accomplice and that it was a game concerted in advance. Alas! I excuse them, because they are no more culpable than the very illustrious member of the old Faculty of Paris, who said on the subject of inoculation that the “inoculated were dupes and imbeciles, and the inoculators scoundrels and knaves.”

Each epoch has its retrograde men; every new discovery offends them and injures their vision; it is necessary to pity them since their resistance to the truth prevents them from enjoying it.


To magnetize my patients, I had them placed into two files in straight lines; sometimes seven or eight were then ranked the ones beside the others, and placing myself then in front, at some feet from the first patient, I directed my hand to the top of his head and remained in this position until I saw that one of them had felt the magnetic action; then, approaching each patient, I magnetized him without having him change place and I recommenced then until I believed that they were all magnetized sufficiently. Six patients required of me two and a half hours. This magnetization had an advantage, it is that it maintained the patients in a softer magnetic state than the one which resulted from a direct application of magnetism; it is this method that I employed with so much success at Montpellier. It came to me often, to surprise those who did not know magnetism, to take the most sensitive of the magnetized and to place them all on the same line and standing; as soon as I wished it, all were influenced at the same time; some fell on their seats, others remained immobile as struck with terror, others finally entered into the deepest somnambulism. Spectators remained stupefied with nothing to discover which could explain the terrible and curious effects of which they were witnesses.

Sometimes I caused to hold standing certain patients, and I begged some persons to give them their arms; then placed at a great distance I directed my action on the patient who soon became an embarrassment for those who held him, because he obeyed the laws of gravity as a corpse would have done, and threatened at each instant to fall. I have seen in certain cases that magnetism affects also the person put into communication with the magnetized one and produces kinds of electric shocks. In other circumstances I magnetized my patients through healthy people, and these were sometimes as impressed as the patient.

One day Doctor Lardner, professor of the University of London, one of the most distinguished men of this country, begged me to do this experiment on him; he was placed for this effect between me and the patient, and soon M. Lardner bent as if he was going to fall. He took himself very quickly from this direction and said to us that he had felt the length of the vertebral column a sensation similar to the one that an electric discharge had caused to him; during this experiment he turned the back to me so that his imagination could not be influenced; the patient at his side had experienced the effects that he usually felt.

At the same seance, a gentleman who appeared to have eaten well put himself into fashion on the line of my patients, taking the place of a poor man suffering as I had retired him believing magnetized enough, and remained there without more ceremony; I had the air to not pay any attention, and I directed on him my magnetic action. Soon he was so much affected that I had a fearful moment there might result some accident, but happily it was nothing. The next day this same gentleman (it was a young very robust officer) came with several of his comrades from the same regiment, of which one had recounted this fact and which would not be believed. I commenced to magnetize him when he was then in the middle of his friends, and he was suddenly almost taken with the same accidents as the old one. “Very curious!” they cried, “very curious!“” but not one of them understood the importance of such an extraordinary fact, and tried to deepen it.

Most of the patients who fall into somnambulism offer, one knows, as proof of their new state, the character of insensibility. I have said and repeat, and in front of me I had made conclusive experiments; this one did not suffice, and every time that I was distracted by a conversation, or that I moved away from the patients in a way not to see them, it was [away from the one] to whom were pinned the most pins in their flesh and would raise up the most of their hair; it is only when they were awakened that I was instructed on it, because then the magnetized showed me on their limbs the bruises resulting from prolonged pinches, or occasioned by the large pins of which frequent punctures had tattooed the skin. Sometimes even the inhumanity of the visitors went as far as to use canes of which they put the end on one of the feet of the somnambulists, in supporting all the weight of their bodies on the other extremity, in the manner to efface the flesh. If I complained of the barbaric treatments of which one had used to acquire a conviction, one nearly mocked me, because, one said, they are poor patients.

Humanity! Humanity! You have disappeared from the earth like virtue of which you were the sister!

An experiment that I often made because it was without danger, it was to put very strong tobacco in the nose of a sleeping person, and this sneezing power was not then sensed as when I wished it; I only had need to direct the finger or the cane toward the nasal fossa for the tobacco to have its effect: I equally caused this sensation to cease thence as I wished it. – It was nearly always on a sign from one of the audience that I acted, and then one was assured that the tobacco had not at all been felt. One day one put into the nose of a person then sleeping extremely strong pepper; it occasioned no sensation; but a certain quantity had been carried into the chest by respiration, and on awakening, the patient was taken with suffocation and of a burning sentiment in the nasal fossa; this pain lasted a very long time; since then I no longer suffered similar experiments, I feared that a charitable man did not deserve a day of poison.

I could cause the sensing of odors in depositing some drops on the skin of a somnambulist; when this odor was agreeable, the magnetized one marked her pleasure by a particular character of her visage; one could see likewise the vexation that a disagreeable odor like ammonia caused her. When it occurred to me to make some noise, to whistle or to sing, being bent across the region of the epigastrium, the patient heard it and repeated the sound which was being made; if to the contrary the noise was directed toward her ears, one obtained no sign of hearing.

Among the patients who offered me truly curious effects, I must mention Lucy Clarke, an epileptic, of whom sleep was often accompanied with lucidity. I have published her story in the Medical Gazette of London, limiting it solely to the narrative of physical facts and her healing, because the curious phenomena of vision at distance and of previsions would have been repulsed as not meriting examination; however these facts were of the greatness exactitude.

One day this somnambulist, falling suddenly into a prophetic delirium, made herself speak on the political state of France and of England, in employing terms so chosen and expressing with a facility so great and an elocution so pure, that all those attending were soon taken from astonishment to doubt, and from doubt to indignation; they left my house, insulted me and shouted that they had been deceived. I no doubt had well hidden my game, because this girl only spoke in English, a language that I understood not at all, and this scene where I had played the role of the mute was only explained after it was terminated. Three benevolent persons reported to me in all its details and made me much regret not having been able to comprehend what this young girl had said.

Then the facts which would have to clarify and convince only served to alienate me from the minds the most disposed to add faith to the facts usually due to magnetism; but sometimes somnambulism casts a light so pure and so vital that the vision of men can only be habituated to see by degrees; without that one runs the risk of rendering it to them unsupportably.

Here is a fact so totally incredible published by the newspapers of London. Everyone has believed it because it has been produced by nature alone; but soon, when one will recognize what nature rarely does, the art also succeeds to produce it, the magnetizers will be promptly rehabilitated in opinion. One finds this fact in the Globe and Traveler of 18 August 1837; it is recounted in this manner:

“ENGLISH SOMNAMBULE: – A girl of seven years, orphan of poor parents, and living at the house of a farmer whose cattle she kept, slept in a room which was only separated by a thin partition from the one occupied by a traveling musketeer. This one was a very able musician who often passed a part of the night executing pieces chosen for a rare beauty; but the child only found in this music an unpleasant noise. After having resided six months in this house, she fell sick; they transported her to the house of a charitable lady who took care of her, and who, when she was restored from her long illness, took her to her service.

“Some years after she entered the house of this lady, one heard often in the middle of the night a delicious music in the house; the curiosity of the whole family was excited to the highest point, and one passed entire hours trying to discover the invisible musician. Finally one perceived that the sounds came from the sleeping chamber of the servant; one found her there sleeping deeply; but there left from her lips a sound absolutely similar to the sweetest notes of a little violin. Having watched her, one was assured that after two hours she was in bed, she was agitated and murmured between her teeth; then she proffered sounds like those that one produced in tuning a violin; finally, after some preludes, she led off on the most difficult pieces, and executed them with much clarity and precision, in rendering sounds which perfectly resembled the finest modulations of the violin. She paused sometimes in the middle of her execution, imitated the sound of an instrument that one tunes, then retook in the most correct manner the piece at the spot where she had finished.

“These paroxysms returned at irregular intervals, varying from twenty-four hours to fifteen or even twenty days; they were followed ordinarily with a certain degree of fever accompanied with pains in diverse parts of the body. At the end of a year or two, this music was not limited to imitation of the violin: she often changed in similar sounds to those of an old piano that this girl heard ordinarily in the house where she then lived.

“A year later, she began to speak much in her sleep; it seemed then that she was instructing another girl younger than she. She spoke often with much ease and exactitude on an infinity of political and religious subjects, on the news of the day, the historical part of the Scriptures, public men, and especially on the character of the members of the family and their visitors. In these discussions, she showed a prodigious discernment joined to a propensity to sarcasm, and an astonishing aptitude to counterfeit all kinds of personages.

“For all the duration of this extraordinary affection which appeared to have continued ten or eleven years, this girl had, in the waking state, a borrowed air and the mind singularly blocked, although nothing had been spared to instruct her. She was, in relation to intelligence, much inferior to other domestics of the same house, and had no special taste for music. She had not the least memory for what passed during her sleep; but in her nocturnal ravings one heard often complaints of infirmity that she had to speak during sleep. She said also that it was very fortunate that she was not obliged to sleep near the other domestics; because they tormented her already enough without that.” (Abercrombie, On the Intellectual Powers.)


The young Okey, with whom Doctor Elliotson could draw on such a great part, had been put into somnambulism by me, when I magnetized her at the hospital. Seven sessions had been necessary for me to bring her to this state. A volume would be necessary to tell her story, such effects that she has presented are so numerous and extraordinary.

Mary Ambrose, who I magnetized at my house, struck with a great astonishment and often stupor the persons who saw her for the first time submitted to my powers. I will try to give here some of the physical effects that her magnetic sleep presented.

Magnetized for the first time in the course of October 1837, Mary Ambrose experienced very few effects in the first days; it was only later that magnetism determined the singular phenomena that I am going to try to describe. 1) At the first passes made in front of her, stiffness of the limbs and convulsive movement to the head; 2) Immobility of the eyelids; the eyes remained open and fixed and the jaws very tight; the jaw muscles presented an enormous protrusion, and their hardness could make them be taken for bony protuberances. 

This singular state was accompanied with the stiffness of the arms and especially the hands and the fingers, of which the tension was extreme. These phenomena were modified after an instant, when I magnetized the head and especially the jaws, but they soon recovered their appearance if I occupied myself with another patient.

Extremely curious effects were offered to observation when, directing from distance the magnetic force, I tried to attract this patient to myself and to make her walk. A trembling of the head and the jerking movements of the extremities announced that she was impressed by my action, and that her body would obey a power that its will could not neutralize. In effect, she raised herself by degrees in remaining curved on the trunk; the movements of oscillation from right to left could cause fear one instant that she would fall; but maintained and attracted by a powerful attraction, she advanced in gliding on the carpet and heading in my direction. When I ceased to attract her she remained immobile; but if I changed place, her body leaned toward the side where I directed my steps. A remarkable fact, it is that in this moment she seemed fixed to the floor, and it became very difficult to remove her from this position.

During all this time her eyelids did not lower, her eyes were immobile; her fingers stiff, as if they had been those of a statue, only flexed in employing a strong pressure, and returning soon to the position that magnetism had given them.

It was not very easy to stop this singular state. Magnetism, directed toward the plexus, increase this kind of perturbation; the passes made a the root of the nose, which ordinarily cause somnambulism to cease, did not obtain here its aim; but when one magnetized the cervical vertebrae in breathing lightly at a small distance, then the effects of stiffness and of tension of the limbs weakened by degrees; the patient raised up from her seat, walked without knowing where she went, and was soon leaning against the partitions of the wall. In this position, if other patients were sleeping, she tended to move closer to them, and often to prevent her I was obliged to employ force or to conduct her to a neighboring room. There, she began to retake her senses; her eyes became sensitive to light, she rubbed them for a long time, but in a mechanical manner; because the ideas and the word were not then perfectly returned. Yet far from being painfully affected by such bizarre effect which produced an appearance of torture, the patient only  complained of light pains in the muscles of the neck, and soon her face having lost all rigidity, allowed to be seen a sentiment of indefinable joy; her look had some thing of grace and of softness which she did not have before magnetism.

The application of magnetism, often repeated, caused the disappearance of the frightful epileptic malady of which she was attacked; a single episode had taken place during the first eight days of her treatment.

The thinness of this patient ceased by degrees; a gray color, spread under her skin, disappeared and she could return to her work. The regular physician had not been able to affect this cruel malady; many remedies had been employed without any success; the aggravation on the contrary was observed. How did I manage to heal her? Here the mystery can not be revealed entirely, because the work that nature operates is unknown to me; what passed in the circulation of the fluids has not been perceived, and could not be. The success announced that it was by magnetism that it was necessary to combat this malady, and not by remedies. This example could serve without doubt some patients who waste their time and use the rest of their forces to search for a healing which can only take place by the means that we have employed.


The Queen had the good news to be informed of my successes; her ladies of honor and Lord Stanhope discussed them with her often. If I had been admitted into the presence of such an august person: “Show yourself enlightened and generous,” I would have said to her, “protect the man who carries into your empire a great truth, who, well known, can raise your people above other peoples of the world; that by your orders a monument be dedicated to the teaching of the new science. And soon, powerful queen, men grateful for what you have done for their happiness will raise altars.”

Supporting my discourse by the immediate production of marvels of which she had heard the stories, I would without doubt convince her of the importance and the greatness of this truth so stupidly rejected by men of science.

Events have ordained otherwise. A physician, Doctor Elliotson, in making the experiments which were negative because he knew little magnetism, came to cast some doubts into the minds of better disposed men, and to distance for a time the realization of the great projects which they had already conceived.

I have to respond on the mistakes of an imprudent magnetizer, and who, departing immediately after have committed them, seemed to leave me the responsibility of his acts. – One caused me a crime by his failure. Confounding together the master and the student, the one falling had to reverse the other. So one believed it in the pharmacies where were elaborated the diatribes against magnetism.

At this epoch, I saw clearly that my life had to be used to open the path of fortune to some men little made to deserve it. Disgust took me for an instant, and envisioning my mission as terminated in this country, I resolves to leave it. As well, physically, my life was no longer supportable there. I had not had, since my arrival, a single moment of repose; the climate was far from being favorable to me, and finally the reward from such pains was not in relation with the expenses that I had been obliged to make in England.

I passed nearly twenty months in this country; the first six months were employed, without any successes, to call the scholarly men to study magnetism. Then I changed the system to their regard, I disdained their vote; then one has seen more that four hundred of my antagonists running to be witnesses of the effects that I offered to show them far from public. But my regards, my needs even were accorded preferably to men who frankly avowed to me their incredulity and the desire that they experience to be convinced.

Ten thousand persons, I do not exaggerate, have attended at my house the most curious and most instructive experiments . Every day my salon was filled with the most distinguished personages of England; the ambassadors of all the powers came there. If I have not convinced all the mass of visitors, I have at least prepared the most rebellions to see with less prejudice the new magnetizers and to listen more docilely to the relations of their curious researches.

Have I been aided by someone in my difficult mission? Yes; at first by Lord Stanhope, who gave me very good counsels, and who determined many distinguished personages to come to my house to be convinced of the existence of magnetism; but especially by modest and enlightened physician, Doctor Edw. Harrisson. This is veritably the only man of London who made ready for me a loyal and general concourse; that this friend, whose soul is so elevated, receive my just homage! If the truth is rendered triumphant, I want it to be known that he has been one of the most useful instruments.

I had to leave at London a memory of my passage, and I drew it in publishing a work on magnetism, perfectly translated; but if in the future my book recalls the journey that I have made in London, it will have ignored all that was necessary of me in courage and in resignation to support the insolent remarks of the people I came to instruct.

Before leaving, I could not refuse to make a demonstration of the principles and of the effects of magnetism, in an honorable institution of London. Here is the letter which was written to me soliciting this seance by me:

“Monsieur the Baron, Knowing your liberal ideas and your great zeal for the progress of science, we take the liberty to beg you with fervor of giving us your powerful aid for the promotion of useful knowledge, and favoring us with a lecture on animal magnetism. If you do us the grace of according our request, and you prefer better to express yourself in the French language, we have a French man who could serve you as interpreter, if you wanted it. Sir, believe me your very respectful servant.” J. Burdidge.
Islington and Pentonville, Philo-Scientific Society, 13 October 1838.

I conducted some subjects sensitive to magnetism, and before an immense assembly I gave for one last time evident proofs of magnetic force.

Since my departure from London, I learned that magnetism was in progress and that it was studied in all of England; the persecution on its side no longer relented: Doctor Elliotson had been forced to renounce the place of professor of medicine that he occupied at the hospital of the University. This recalls to us our old Faculty, which chased from it bosom the first physicians who were using the emetics, and later, in 1784, Doctors Fournelle, Varnier, Deslon, and some others, because of their beliefs favorable to magnetism. But the witherings which are inflicted by ignorance bring us to the place of lowering us: Galileo at his knees, asking pardon for what he had said about the earth turning, was certainly in this position much greater than his judges.

A newspaper on magnetism is published now in Edinburgh, Scotland. The work of Deleuze came to be translated into the English language. There is every reason, then, to fear that this nation does not advance us in the study of magnetism, and in its application to the treatment of diseases.

I must mention here the works of M. Colquhoun, distinguished advocate, who published an excellent work, Isis Revelata. Here is a letter that I received from this estimable man; it was written to me at London; but when it arrived there I had already returned to Paris. I give it here entire, in spite of the flattering things that it contains for me, because it reinforces the useful teachings on the progress that I have made in magnetism in England.

“Monsieur the Baron, I would have sooner recognized the honor that you have had the goodness to make me, in presenting me your very interesting work on animal magnetism, but I have only received it two days ago, in consequence, Sir James Colquhoun, which just arrived from Scotland.

“With my thanks, Monsieur the Baron, permit me to congratulate on your successes in making animal magnetism finally known to the savants of England. I have worked for several years in teaching the principles and in indicating the facts of this science; but although I can flatter myself to have opened the way a little in distancing certain obstacles of prejudice, attracting to this subject, up to the very negligent, the attention of my compatriots, it is only after your arrival at London that it has made marked progress in the public mind of the English. It has been long that I have known your merit, and I hoped that after your first successes you would take courage, as you have the talent, to argue the rights of the truth in spite of the annoyances of the ignorant and the malicious. We fight for the good of humanity, and our triumph can be retarded, but in the end it is certain.

“Our distinguished friend, Lord Stanhope, made note to me from time to time of your processes and of the advancement of our science, and I am assured that the most perfect success will soon crown your beneficent efforts.

“As for what regards myself, there are some need which prevents me from delivering myself to the practice of magnetism; but the thing can well be committed to M. the Baron Du Potet and to those who will be instructed by such a master. – I understand now that one begins to practice magnetism at Edinburgh in Scotland. I know that many of the best physicians of this city are not there totally opposed, and your talents also are will recognized.

“I will be well at ease, Monsieur the Baron, to have the occasion to make your personal acquaintance, and also to be eyewitness with others of your very interesting operations; but affairs that I must not neglect render it difficult to absent myself. Perhaps a good time will come. I have the honor to be, Monsieur the Baron, your obliged servant, J. C. Colquhoun.” Dumbarton, 20 July 1838.

MOM Introduction

People Medicine