Jules du Potet de Sennevoy

Magnetism Opposed to Medicine

Magnetism in the Royal Atheneum of Paris


“Long ago Homer offered to the inhabitants of Cumes to render their city the most famous of Greece, in the case that they wanted to nourish him at the expense of the public treasury; having refused by the bad counsel of the senators, they had the displeasure of repenting, for, after his death, they published that he was one of their compatriots.”

Mesmer, like Homer, came to ask asylum of a people that he believed generous, and offered it, for the price of its hospitality, to render it possessor of a science which must raise it above other peoples of the world. On the counsels of the savants, Mesmer was considered as a visionary, and the great truth which he carried was proscribed with him.

If, in place of having found a certain means to moralize the peoples and diminish mortality, Mesmer had made known a process of pillaging a city and bleeding the inhabitants, without running the risk of his life, he would have received a national reward, and his name would be then today gloriously cited.


“They call us impostors, charlatans, scoundrels,
because we want to heal,
because we claim to know to heal.”

On return to Paris, after several years absence, it was late for me to know where the public mind was on the subject of magnetism! How I was informed with vivacity what was done of importance since my departure! I hoped to find the fight ended, and the magnetizers working to extend our common belief. I thought that the Academy of Medicine had finally opened its door to the mesmerian truth, and that the enemies that I had combatted were going to tender their hands to me. Already I searched in my mind the means to prove to them that I had never had hate against them, and that all my attacks had only one aim, that of forcing them, in their own interest, to listen to us and enjoy like us the benefits of our science. No doubt, I said to myself, the government has created or is going to create a chair of magnetism at the Faculty of Medicine; one of the Monthyon prizes would be accorded to some magnetizer to encourage this so useful discovery; the nervous affections have now an assured remedy, and I am going to find myself very happy to learn than my past efforts contributed some little to diminish the sufferings that they occasioned. France finally is the equal of Germany; it has now hospitals where magnetism is employed concurrently with ordinary medicine.

I was not delayed to be cruelly disabused. The Academy had, it is true, opened once its door, but it was to dismiss shamefully a medical magnetizer [M. Berna] who had introduced it politely into this sanctuary, and was guilty only of too much zeal; his crime finally was to have believed for a moment that it was the asylum of the truth.

But barely was this door closed than another physician, coming from very far, was knocking there. [M. Pigeaire] This time one only opened the small wicket, for fear of surprise. “What do you want? – To show you a fact which can increase the sum of your knowledge. – Pass your way, we are sufficiently enlightened. – But it a truth that I carry to you! – A truth! Here we make it litter. – But one of you has promised a reward proportionate to the difficulty that we master you; come judge our work.” To this last word the wicket was closed.

Some days hence, the door opened again. A man [M. Kunholtz] entered timidly; he had the right of seance; he was a brother; he was going to converse on the works of the Academy, when one of the illustrious members of this body, seeing a large roll of papers under the arm of our newly landed: “Oh! Oh!” said he, smelling the sheets, “This is new; it is good, it is very good. Because we know your merit. Let us see, let us see, what is it? – Animal magnetism, facts which prove its existence; somnambulism, sight at distance, prevision. – Ah that, but all the heads of the Midi have then received a sunstroke?” One did such that they persuaded our man that he would be a little wise to have reason against the Academy. The advice without doubt was tasted, because the man and the roll returned the one carrying the other. Tranquility wanted more than the truth. Ah! M. Kunholtz, what occasion you have wasted! Be the slave of the sentiments of another when one is persuaded of their falsity, it is to be too much a member of the Academy. [Note: Many of these gentlemen have precious memories on magnetism; but they must not be seen until after their death. Such is courage!]

The chair of magnetism that I had dreamed to exist, I only saw it in the century to come, because the enemies of the truth that we defend are at the feet of power; they deceive it no doubt; it is not necessary that a single victim escape them or that a single pain be relieved.


Heal the sick, or retire yourselves
to allow those who want and know to heal.
Physicians of woe and of ignorance,
who know nothing about the patient, except to say:
Your ill is incurable,
resign yourself and suffer,
suffer and resign yourself.

Oh! I tell you this in truth, hurry yourself to play, the time is going to become long for you; I see you naked of maledictions which pile up; a mother will ask you soon for her daughter, a father for his son, a woman her husband, because we will heal under the eyes of all illnesses similar to the one that you have not known to cure, and one will know that you have refused to employ a treatment of which interiorly you recognize the efficacy.

The Academy not having made a step forward since my departure, I hoped at least magnetism had entered into belief and that a great number of convictions had come to increase the mass already existent. I was not deceived. It was no longer the dim twilight that preceded the rising of the sun; the truth appeared at the horizon; one could distinguish it. MM. Double, Bouillaud, Dubois (d’Amiens) and thirty-six other savant men had with their sophisms and their gross insults tried at once to mask the light that it projected, but this academic effort had prevented them only from seeing its progress.

Somnambulism rolled carriage in the streets of Paris; one was obliged to be enrolled in advance at the house of the sleepers. The magnetizers were also multiplied; some exploiting magnetically their patients, without embarking on the least discussion with that which is the subject of their magnetic practice; the others acting truly with philanthropy and with propaganda in the interest of the suffering beings.

But in magnetic society there was no question at all; newspapers dedicated to the defense of this science, not, however many readers are assured to the one who wishes to try this undertaking; public experiments since my departure, no one had held; M. Pigeaire alone had made it clear to many men of merit the curious phenomena of vision without the aid of the eyes. [FN: It is necessary to read the work (Power of Animal Electricity, or Vital Magnetism, etc. Dentu, Palais-Royal; Bailliere, place of the School of Medicine) that M. Pigeaire came to publish of the revelations that this physician made on the relations with Royal Academy of Medicine on the subject of his young daughter, to be edified on the conduct of our antagonists and to pity them of their blindness.]

The void which existed was soon to be replaced; it sufficed to make a call to the public on all the things to be assured that it would give its concurrence. It was to me to blow the trumpet to advertise our projects.

I was no longer this time going to recruit protectors of the truth that I teach at the house of men who detested it; this folly had ceased for a long time to exist at my house; other magnetizers had had it also, but they also radically healed. It was now to the crowd that it was necessary to address; to first convince it, then to initiate it to the art of healing without drugs the greater part of the illnesses which afflict men. But this task is difficult; to accomplish it, much perseverance is necessary. It does not however need a great number of workers; it is necessary only to those who will be employed to perfectly know the terrain. We know it, ourselves, because twenty times we have run it it; however, before conducting others to the seat of the place that we want to make capitulate, we must assure ourselves that the route is practicable and take our positions.


“All is reduced to knowing if medicine
must be done in the interest of the physicians and the remedies,
or in the interest of the patients...
We believe, ourselves, that it is in the interest of the patients;
it is free to anyone who wishes to think the opposite.”

The gracious welcome that I received from some members of the Royal Atheneum engaged me to solicit the honorable men who direct this scientific institution the favor of doing lectures on magnetism in this beautiful and vast location. The authorization that I had requested was accorded to me without any difficulty; in consequence the day of the opening of my course was fixed at 5 March.

Occupying a court where so many eloquent voices had been heard, my weakness as a man of science intimidated me very much; but I however reassured myself by this thought that one would no doubt have indulgence for me, since I was not giving myself as an orator, but only a magnetizer.

My speech from opening was heard, I must say, with a benevolent attention; some fragments only must find place here, because I have to render account of the most essential things, experiments which follow the explanation of principles and processes which today form the magnetic science.

“Messieurs,” I said, “it is always with mistrust for myself, with a kind of timidity, that I address before new men the question of magnetism. Surely, however, its existence, as I have it from my own life, I fear to sustain its thesis with too much ardor. It is that it no longer acts here only, Messieurs, physical facts of nature of those which have served to form your instruction; it does not act a proper discovery only to augment the catalog of those which are made every day. If the phenomena of which the latest we will offer you the picture are true, if we are not impostors, our science, to us, is destined to modify the current social order in destroying a great number of prejudices received among men as truths.

“I have need then, Messieurs, all your indulgence; but especially to not be too prompt in your judgment. I have need that you recall often that it is only the magnetic effects that I want to convince you, and not make you share my manner of seeing the consequences that my mind has been able to draw from these effects. If sometime your reason revolts against the assertions of the new phenomena, still incomprehensible, inexpressible, do not reject them by this lone reason; know that we are surrounded by marvels, and that they no more astonish us alone, because we have the habit of considering them.

“Messieurs, the nature of your institution has permitted all the innovators to come to this tribune to defend or announce what they believe to be truths; you have always listened to them, sometimes applauded, and you have, and in showing yourselves tolerant and enlightened, been useful to intellectual progress. Many men, who are remarked today in the sciences and letters, have not let themselves forget either that they owe you a part of their fame.

“As for me, Messieurs, everywhere searching for impartial and wise men, I must naturally come to knock at your door, and ask to put under your eyes the pieces of a great process; you have welcomed me and I thank you, because I hope to win you to my just cause, and to render you the advocates of a fecund discovery in happy results.

“Having been all my life exposed to false knowledge, it is however without hate and without anger that I will translate before my disloyal enemies, but also without saying about their conduct and their arguments; I will not leave it to you to any longer to ignore the advantages of magnetism, nor abuse those which can result from this badly employed force. Finally, after having taken the dross from the crucible, I will show to you the pure gold which is found there.

“The task that I have imposed on myself is great and difficult; and I must now witness to you the regret which I experience, that of a more advanced man than I in the science is not charged with the mission that I am going to try to fill.

“There are the truths which seem to have remained for a long time ignored by the nations, because their study being difficult and their knowledge long to acquire, few men find themselves disposed to voluntarily make the sacrifice of a part of their life to researches uncertain in their duration.

“But, as the genius of a man or chance caused to discover a simple and easy method to reach knowledge of suspected truth, at the instant one sees indifference cease; the crowd runs to the new way, because now it requires little work; and what seemed to have been the patrimony of some becomes the part of all.

“This digression is applied to animal magnetism, an ancient discovery, known only to some men in the midst of each century, but rejected by the generality of savants as a pure chimera. It then took a long time and all the genius of Mesmer until the truth that I try to make prevail obtains the character of evidence that one begins to recognize in it today.

“Because a science is only really a science when the facts which serve as base have been submitted to the savants, and when they have submitted the evidence to time. Indeed, how many of the doctrines born of the imagination of some men have but for an instant dazzled the nations and reigned over the minds! One was left convinced by reason, one had badly studied the facts on which they were supported; one day this scaffolding of opinions collapses, because it lacks a solid base, and the man that one believed to be a genius only was a man of mind.

“From another side, how many truths have we not repelled at the origin, not by ignorance, but by the most enlightened men!

“It is necessary then to hold ourselves in guard, even against the opinions of the savants, and only adopt after very mature reflections the judgment that the authority of their names appear to impose on us; because for a Newton there can be found many Descartes, and thousands of sophists existing often where one will not find a solid mind.

“As for me, Messieurs, I have rejected of good hour the opinion of men who passed for sages; I have only wanted to draw to myself the testimony of my senses, especially in what they could acquire, and I have had place to congratulate myself for my determination, because a great truth, rejected by the most illustrious savants, has become for me an incontestable reality, and has given me the measure of confidence that one must have in the judgment of others.

“But, Messieurs, how does it happen that members of all the academies are deceived on the physical facts? Is it that for the observation of certain phenomena of nature the savants would have less perfect senses than the rest of men, or would they disdain sometimes to make use of them? Their reason appearing to them superior and infallible, they judge rather that they not examine; it is that they have done in the question of magnetism. The facts advanced not appearing probable to them, they have examined with lightness and inattention.

“I do not wish to recall here, Messieurs, all the truths that the savants have thus condemned and which have served their judgments; the list would be too numerous and would diminish the respect that one reserves them as one must truly to men who dedicate their vigils to useful researches; because if they sometimes go astray, they only have to pay the tribute of the imperfection of our nature. I have wanted only in this sketch to convince you that the opinion of the savants, however unanimous that it be, can not prevent a truth from being produced; it delays it for a time, it serves to oppress the men who possess it, it withers them sometimes; but this truth, if it is truly one, ends by reversing all the obstacles and taking the rank which is assigned it among the other human knowledge.

“In my course I do not pretend to take as far as the origin of the discovery of magnetism; this date will always remain ignored; it is in vain that one would find it in the history of the peoples; the name of the happy man to whom it was for the first time revealed will always be unknown; but everything proves that magnetism was known in the most remote times. Greece, Libya were in possession of this truth, for everywhere in these celebrated countries monuments are then standing to attest that men possessed the knowledge and made use of it, either to act on the spirit of the peoples and to render them easier to govern, or to come to their aid when they were sick, or finally that they wanted to make known in advance to some chosen men the future lot which was reserved to them. But in studying the historians of these flourishing epochs, one perceives quickly that this occult science had been hidden to the Egyptians, who possessed it well before the peoples of Greece.

“Isis, Serapis, your secrets are at discovery today; in vain you have hidden them under allegories or impenetrable veils. The time has come to put us in possession of your mysteries, and soon what made your glory, your riches, will no longer be buried in your graves.

“Happy and pacific the conquest of science due to the works of Mesmer and of Puységur, you have been made at an epoch where tolerance and liberty begin to reign among us; soon you would have made too many victims.

“But Egypt was herself the tributary of India; there the same ideas, the same mysteries, the same beliefs, attest that the same truth was long known there before having penetrated into Egypt, and its imprint that has been so strong that twenty centuries have not been able to efface it.

“Messieurs, we boast of the advancement of our ideas, we believe ourselves at the summit of the ladder of human knowledge, we forget that other peoples have been also elevated as us, that they have had other beliefs, other mores, and no one today however would dare to assure that they were less fortunate than we are.

“We forget the past in order to see only the present; we treat of barbarism of nations which were great and opulent, without considering that we are only plagiarists of these nations, without considering that we owe them nearly all our arts and our sciences. New discoveries daze us on our own merit; the ancients only esteemed those who favored the moral and physical development of man, and that which preserved them in health. It was for them the principal assets of life; the rest they regarded as having little of value.

“Today, Messieurs, your ideas are arrested on all these points; my assertions would have no empire over your minds; also it is not by reasoning that I would try to convince you, but by the facts of which you draw all the consequences.

“While, Messieurs, the current Faculties repulse magnetism, it is transmitted by a kind of initiation. The people, who should have known this truth only after the scholars would  have laid out the rules; the people begin to produce phenomena of lucid somnambulism. The facts which must be reinforced in the temples and examined by men of the highest intelligence, these facts amuse, divert and serve as toys to men who can not know all the scope. This action so simple on their part had been regarded in other times as the greatest sacrilege and punished with the last torture, because this magic was not exercised outside the temples and under the eyes of the profane; but today there are no more mysteries in the sciences; everything is unveiled to the eyes of all. The savants are discredited thus when they act slowly to examine new phenomena, because their judgment, which must always advance before that of the public, is no more than a superfetation, when all the consequences of the new truth have been deduced or experienced.

“Messieurs, one has often reproached us with the slowness of the progress of our discovery, without considering that many generous men have used their life to combat and to reverse the obstacles that powerful men, by fatal influence that they exercise, pleased themselves to make it reborn. But if one had adopted the step that I have for some time; if, ceasing to call physicians to remit them a precious trust, the propagators of magnetism had spread the knowledge of this truth among the people, and called the generality of the citizens to their teaching, today there would no longer be doubt on their sincerity, and the men who from all time accused us would receive today the dishonor which await them.

“Messieurs, if I had only recognized in magnetism a curious fact, without utility, I would have ceased long ago to occupy myself with it, and my activity would be carried on other points of science; but my intention being to dissimulate nothing, I want to make known to you the whole entire truth, and all which can make for the happiness of men. Already, Messieurs, the consequences of new facts have been perceived by advanced men; Fourrier has adopted them; the disciples of Saint-Simon could not discard them; Azais today takes them and uses them to explain the mysteries of life; Baron Massais, like all the German philosophers, has launched toward the future, promising that man will be happier, because having discovered the means to penetrate into himself, he will know more. But, Messieurs, all these consideration will require much more force before your minds when I would put under your eyes a single one of the memorable magnetic facts; it is alone then that my work would appear sincere, and that sharing the pains that I have had to experience combatting all my life the bad faith hidden under deceptive appearance of doubt, you will be disposed to sustain on your turn the noble cause of the truth.”

After having, in all my lessons, traced the history of magnetism and made known the facts on which this science is founded, there remained to me a most difficult task, the one of producing under the eyes of all those who would wish to see them the phenomena of which I had offered the picture. In a hospital I would not have been embarrassed, the facts would arrive promptly to justify my assertions; but at the Atheneum I had no patients. To introduce in this place men known to me, it was to follow the common route, and I did not want to; everything commended me to work with the lone elements which were offered me, that is to say to magnetize those of my auditors who would present themselves to be submitted to my experiments. My part taken, I walked bravely in this path of doubtful investigation.

The Atheneum announced, after my consent, that such a day I would do magnetic experiments. The hall was filled this time, because everyone wanted to see at work a magnetizer sufficiently sure of himself to aspire in producing in the middle of the crowd effects which demanded silence and contemplation to be manifested. Many magnetizers even had hastened, and I found there in presence of persons of whom the opinions were very diverse, but I perceived no malevolence; I can not say how much this disposition, that I encountered for the first time in my life, rejoiced my heart, because it gave me the measure of the progress of magnetism.

They were attentive, and I successively magnetized many persons, without producing anything on them other than light effects which were afield, it is necessary to avow, of power to give a conviction. A lady only fell into a magnetic half-sleep, and a young collegian felt a beginning of attraction, when placing myself at some feet from her I tried to attract her into my direction. All the curious were disenchanted; one had told them about miracles and they only saw insignificant effects; they were waiting to see falling successively like Capuchins cards all the individuals who dared place themselves on the fatal harness, and I produced only light shaking. For the philosophers, this had already been much; for, without instrument, acting on a human machine placed some steps from you, and one only making signs, there it was, by this lone little fact, the seeds of a great revolution in the physical sciences; but few men, there that day, began to reflect on what they had perceived.

I announced that I would continue my experiments, and that I would only quit the Atheneum when I would have given irrecusable proofs of the power that I came to announce. Everyone left without showing his displeasure. Some only saw in me an enthusiast, a credulous man; many believed perhaps that I was a maniac; but what affected me especially, it was that I learned that the magnetizers had been less indulgent; some blamed sharply my conduct; to their eyes I compromised magnetism, I was inexcusable. They only then recalled my young years when I had dared to present myself at the Hotel Dieu of Paris in the middle of an anthill of unbelievers and that I had succeeded; they had then forgotten the story of my whole life? But then how are men made: indulgent for themselves, they are merciless for others. Why then did not one of these magnetizers take my place that day there? But no, they need a public of their own, the magnetized and a local express. It is not thus that one establishes a truth, but it is by knowing to sacrifice everything to it, even his reputation.

I pardon them however, because if I have suffered well, it is only because I knew that many persons of the assembly bore me a vital interest and that they were deeply affected with my lack of success. In the second seance I obtained pronounced effects on many auditors which were presented anew to be magnetized; it only remained to me to continue my experiments; the success was then assured.

In the description that I will try to give, one will only see a sketch of what occurred at the Atheneum. Forty seances of two and half hours each have furnished innumerable effects, because one hundred thirty person perhaps were magnetized, and, a surprising thing! more than two thirds furnished us the observation of extremely remarkable phenomena. Three or four thousand curious have attended these seances. Croi, Montmorency, Montemart, Montesquiou have been there many times; magistrates, soldiers, deputies, distinguished writers, have often congratulated me for my happy successes, and I must here thank them for their vote. Soon perhaps I will ask them their assistance, because it is not enough to be assured of the existence of a great truth, it is then necessary to make it into a kind which is useful to humanity.

One has written no record of the experiments, one has not asked for any single attestation, because here, as at Montpellier and at London, it was that the facts were so numerous, so evident, finally so authentic, that to put them in doubt one would have to be not only blind, but academic.

A member of the Atheneum, M. ***, who did not believe in magnetism, allowed himself to be magnetized. The first time he experienced nothing very sensible; at the second seance he had a frequent blinking of the eyelids, and at the third operation his eyes closed in spite of themselves. There supervened an inflammation of the eyelids which he attributed to the magnetization, and he no longer wished to consent to be magnetized.

A young chamber maid, brought to the seance by an honorable family, was put to sleep in some moments, but we did not continue more experiments on her.

Mme *** coming to the Atheneum with several persons of her acquaintances, and notably M. Herbert, editor in chief of the newspaper The French Echo, let herself be magnetized, and soon spasms appeared and difficulty with respiration became extreme. I made this anguished state stop, and a commencement of somnambulism took place.

I repeated this experiment twice with the same success; it was not necessary to touch this lady; the effects took place at many feet of distance. Did I know this person? Not at all. Also the curious came with her highly proclaiming their belief, and no longer demanding new experiments; the aim was attained, they were convinced.

Some men of the School of Medicine brought a person who was submitted to magnetism; she was soon made to sleep. One pinched her, stuck pins into her arms, she felt nothing. Awaking, she had no awareness of what passed, and she had held a sufficiently long conversation.

One of the students submitted himself then to magnetization; he did not sleep, but he experienced suppression and suffocation. It was enough that all were convinced; they were fifteen from the same society.

A Russian lady of distinction, who attended this day at the seance, experienced visibly the effects of magnetism, although placed sufficiently far from the magnetized. I perceived, and without changing place I put her to sleep completely in her chair, and in the state of magnetic sleep I made her walk as far as the dais; there, wanting to make her talk, I could not do it; her jaw muscles were so strongly tightened that it would have easier to break them than to open them. I awakened her; she was in a great astonishment, not knowing how she had come to me. She no longer want to let herself be magnetized, in spite of the begging that I made to her several times.

Perhaps the most incomprehensible magnetic action is the one exercised on M. P..., a large and robust man, enjoying good health, and having been already magnetized without apparent success by another magnetizer. To act on him, I had made him consent to holding himself erect, and, in this position, I placed myself at around twenty feet, he did not delay long to feel the effects of the magnetism. They commenced, like many of those magnetized, by a vague inquietude, a very marked respiration and immobility of features. Soon this common situation was passed; one saw then a frightening strabismus, an extreme convulsive agitation in the muscles of the legs; and rising by degrees on the tiptoes, he remained in this attitude, although unsteady, until my resolution attracted him into my direction had lasted four or five minutes; then the scene changed again: the movement of legs becoming more rapid, the carpet was shaking.

Placed near to M. P...., one felt a repeated oscillation which could have indicated almost like the pulse the interior agitation from the magnetism. The saturation continuing to augment this state, the effects arrived then to their peak, and M. P... advanced one step in my direction; almost at that instant a most violent effort then took place; this effort made, in dragging the feet on the the carpet, caused a singular noise as that of a cord of the bass; from that moment he no longer knew himself, he covered the distance which separated us; and if then one barred his passage, he acted in a convulsive manner, provoking the persons who try to restrain him. Often, by prudence, I avoided him to make way, especially when my energy was great. It was then that all gasping, his very precipitate respiration, his pulse beating with violence, and his body finally, became similar to an elastic body that a considerable shock began to shake, only ceasing to be oscillating by degrees and in an insensible manner.

A very singular thing, there only remained to the magnetized a confused memory of what had passed. I exercised my magnetic action across a wall which separated the great hall of the Atheneum from a little salon, and the effects were absolutely the same; it was remarked that his look tried to penetrate through the wall. When M. P.... was seated while I magnetized him, the phenomena were different; his eyes were closed, preceding in their closure by strabismus; then the head bent, the respiration became sparse and deep, and in that moment, if one raised his arms and his legs, these parts fell away as if they had belonged to a corpse.

After the cessation of this state, did the magnetized one experience some pains? No, none. Had this vital fermentation of the blood and this agitation so excessive of the nervous system caused some morbid alterations? No, still. Did he feel at last stiffness, and were his appetite or his regular sleep deranged? No, a hundred times no. – But how then to explain this mystery? The alcoholic liquors, the exciting gases enervate and use life soon; an irritation of the nervous system, caused by anger or joy, can cause illnesses or even kill. Ah! It is that life here has not been troubled by any of these agents; and the magnetized one feels more activity than he had before the magnetization, his functions are executed better than in the ordinary state; he has more cheer, more happiness finally, because to the life that he had, another is added. If someone has suffered, it is the magnetizer; if someone must be pitied, it is this latter, because it is his organization which has been pressured in order to make the agent of these phenomena move.

How does it happen then that the magnetizer resists? How! I am going to make you understand it. Have you seen a man splitting or sawing wood? Have you seen them carrying heavy loads? No doubt you have accomplished difficult journeys; where did you assume, or where were gathered the forces that it was necessary to dispense in order to resist or suffer so much loss and fatigue? At a reserve which is only known to you. At each instant however you turn the faucet, without disturbing yourself and without finding where the source is.  Do you not see that every day men die in the force of age? The fight is terrible then; sometimes it is twenty or thirty days that they put up to end their career; it is the same with which agony accompanies incessant convulsions that seem to require the superhuman forces in order to be then prolonged; sometimes it is a frail organization, a weak woman who offers you this spectacle with a life which seems to be unable to dry up. It is not alimentation, the cordials, because often or nearly every day the patients have not been able to take anything; all this does not astonish you. You say to me then where do the insane get the forces that it is necessary for them to resist the crises which last entire months and during which they endure cold, hunger, thirst, without ceasing a single instant to execute violent movements? This problem you can not resolve it, because you only see pulleys, cords, levers in the human organization; man only represents to you a physical machine; you do not go any further before the mysteries of life. Try then finally to know yourself, and you will no longer let yourself die before the term fixed by nature, you will cease to bend under the blind law of fate.

“Two courageous men undertook a long and difficult voyage; they count on fatigues and on deprivations, they have taken their part and organized themselves in consequence. With a nearly equal physical force they supported themselves the same in the first fatigues; but arrived only to two thirds of the route, their exhaustion and the insupportable heat of the climate came to take from both of them the hope that they had had as far as arriving at the goal of their enterprise. Their last provisions were consumed for more than a day, because they had encountered unexpected obstacles. Lying on a burning ground they awaited death, death much more from fright as they were far from their country and the beings who were dear to them; hope was extinguished in them and a quick death appeared to them a benefit.

“One of them however suddenly let go of this kind of torpor, he no longer wished to die; he raised himself up unsteadily and tried to communicate to his unfortunate friend the resolution which he came to take; he even tried to drag him toward a more propitious place. The more insane appeared to be the one who wished to flee, because there was no steed to aid in fleeing the space. But the courageous man casts on his companion a last regard, he dragged himself rather than walk, and while still searching for him from afar he moves away more and more; soon he feels forces which he had not suspected, and hastens the step as if he was on his first day; in joy that he feels he forgets all that he has suffered, even the misfortunes of his companion; he walks no longer, he runs; and it is only in arriving, crazy and delirious, at the distant place where he was expected that the memory of his sufferings and the agony of his friend are presented to his mind? How to go to aid him? It would have taken two days for the best walker to cross the space which this one had taken ten hours to traverse.”

These two men had the same forces, but only one knew how to make them arise and to employ them. How many effects I could cite in support of this assertion! Yes, there are in man incalculable and unknown forces; it is imagination, the antagonists of magnetism will say; ah! Messieurs, please, tell us then in good faith what is imagination.

Far from magnetization weakening the magnetized or the magnetizer, it is to the contrary salutary for both of them; it renews in the one and the other the principle of the nervous forces, forces which ordinarily stagnate in those who do not know how to make use of them; also does one see that nearly all the magnetizers have lived very long and exempt from infirmities, what they lost by magnetization being rendered more pure and active. The magnetized having received on his side an increase in vital forces, his organization has been able to acquire all its development. If I have been able to give proofs so numerous of a great magnetic power, it is that I have forced my organization to deliver me without reserve the key to this treasury and sometimes I have been prodigious with it; but is it not better then to use it in this way than to age and die as a miser, only having lived for self?

A young Pole, attracted to the seances by curiosity, begged me to magnetize him; he was very sensitive and we did the experiment which suited him. He was placed so to be magnetized, and in this position one gave him a book containing poetry; he was begged to read in a high voice, and during this time I magnetized him; at first he felt little of anything, but one perceived that his voice because less and less elevated, and finally the hand which held the book bent over, and he ended by sleeping. The experiment had been long, and it had to be thus: the reading held him strongly alert, and the efforts which he made to well sense the cadence of the verse, and especially to read the very fine characters, rendered success as much more doubtful as he was not a somnambulist, and that before this experiment of simple physical effects had taken place without sleep.

A woman of great stature, as the person of whom I am going to speak sometimes accompanied, was taken with nervous attacks as we had not yet perceived; she lay on her chair in arching her head backward and in making inarticulate cries; if I approached her in this state, I attracted her whole body in the direction that it pleased me to indicate. One day, as I placed her on a stool, her body became similar to a magnetic needle. She bent over and followed the circle that I traced in turning slowly around her; then watching me to bow down, she bent so much backward that she appeared to be in a horizontal position. I prevented her from coming to the seances, because she was taken with suffocations each time that she attended there, when especially many persons were magnetized before her; her nervous state only ceased then that at the end of a very long time.

Similar effects of action on persons who were in the number of spectators, without desiring nor fearing to be magnetized, have taken place a great number of times. But if at the Atheneum I could have been able to observe this strange phenomenon, it did not surprise me, since at Montpellier somnambulism was produced often on people who formed the circle around my patients, and who only came like the curious or to accompany the infirm people in their families.

Let it not be said that it is imagination, imitation, etc., for it would be a mistake. Let it be recalled that men sleeping in natural sleep are sensitive to magnetism during their sleep, and that it suffices so that one even magnetizes in the apartment where they are found. Yes, magnetism, like odors, saturates the air with its principle, and can be transmitted to sufficiently great distance. That of which I am certain, it is that it forms around men as one magnetizes a veritable nervous atmosphere. The somnambulists perceive perfectly this fluid, but then even as one would not acquire this manner of certainty, the innumerable facts prove its existence.

It is not here that I should draw part of these facts to explain the moral epidemics, and the most dangerous epidemics yet, those which carry death with them.

For superficial examiners, they have only seen in the facts that I have produced a dead action, like the electric or galvanic action; but their error is great, and it is necessary up to a certain time to not undeceive them; as they only know that it is life itself which serves as the lever, or which is attained by magnetism.

Mme Desh..., a young lady of nervous constitution, was likewise submitted to magnetism, and the effects no less curious that those that we come to describe are manifested in her. After some minutes her head was bowed on her chest; one saw then the jerking movements of the arms and the convulsive agitation of the whole body. If I placed myself then at a great distance from this lady, there occurred something curious in all her person; her eyes at first searched mine, then the fingers of the hand; the one alone who was at my side was agitated in an extraordinary manner, thence all the body appeared soon pointed in my direction. When I had left her for some minutes in this state, the respiration became very active; this singular trouble could have caused one to believe that this lady suffered, however it was nothing, because interrogating her almost immediately after the cessation of magnetism, she only complained of a little fatigue in the limbs which had been violently agitated; this fatigue of hers only lasted a moment. This lady was in good health when she submitted to magnetism; and as far as this state had been deranged by the effects that she experienced, she became to the contrary stronger and had more color.

Mme the Countess of G.... was also magnetized; the effects that she presented were extremely curious; all her episodes of somnambulism were accompanied by a kind of ecstasy that my will had not at all sought to produce. Some minutes after the magnetization had commenced, one saw her eyes close, but they soon opened and remained fixed as in the attitude of a person who prays. I could speak to her in this state with the eyelids and the eyes ceasing to be immobile. She did not see nor hear anyone; her impassive face offered a character of beauty that one would vainly believe on no visage of a woman; it would be impossible to describe this situation which had some thing of magic.

I interrogated this lady, she spoke of her malady, and indicated what it was necessary to do to heal her, and the time of her healing if she followed what she ordered. Unfortunately for her and for magnetism, the distinguished person was obliged to leave for a journey, and we lost her, like many other magnetized ones, at the moment where the phenomena became of great interest. [Note: It is to this lady that a magnetizer offered generously his services, in saying to her that I was not trying to cure her, that he would do for her much more than I, and finally that he would give her the most assiduous treatments, far from a sometimes malevolent public. For the rest, he added, M. Du Potet only has his name for it, etc. Yes, it is true, I only have my name for myself, but it is the result of twenty-five years of work and of perseverance. This lady did not want to profit from such an obliging offer, an offer coming especially from a man, who, every day gave me his hand.]

A Portuguese lady, Mme de L..., had been magnetized by a magnetizer of great renown, but he could not put her to sleep; she remained incredulous although having seen curious experiments done on persons of her acquaintance. She submits herself laughingly to new experiments, and three minutes were not elapsed that she was deeply asleep; interrogated she responded that in eight magnetizations she would be lucid. This seance arrived to us then in term, and from the third she could order for herself three grains of calomel and of rhubarb water; awakened she did not wish to execute her order, and no one could convince her that she prescribed this medicament. Several seances followed then, and every time in her sleep she returned to calomel; finally she took it one day that she felt more uncomfortable that usual; it resulted in a great good for her health, as she had announced. I had to then give up hope of continuing with this patient the development of lucid sleep. The countryside, which attracted everyone at this period, had a greater attraction for her than magnetism offered, for she did not yet believe in it, but her illness no doubt will make her return to me.

Mme P..., a young and pretty person, was submitted to magnetism; she soon fell into a singular state; it was neither sleep nor waking; her eyes were closed in spite of herself, and soon the muscles of her face experienced some contractions; her head remained upright and almost immobile; only, if I changed place going to the right or to the left, she turned the head in my direction as if searching for me with the eyes. When her sleep had lasted ten minutes, her eyes opened by a convulsive effect, and the globe of the eye being pushed forward gave a slight protrusion to the eyes and made them appear larger. The look was directed toward the sky; one could perceive that there was in this position a little strabismus, but this indefinable situation, which lasted some minutes, charmed all the spectators in letting them perceive an angelic figure that the most able brush perhaps could never render. When I put this lady, well awake, in front of a mirror, and as, placing myself a few steps from her, one saw soon a very strong shaking of the head; the shaking was followed in almost an instant with movements backwards, and losing the power to hold herself erect, she would have infallibly fallen backwards if one had not sustained her. She had then some convulsive movements that magnetism, otherwise directed, caused to happen in a few minutes.

A porter, brought by Mme Niepce, who lived in the house of this woman, was magnetized and slept very promptly. She was ill and indicated from the first time a treatment for the pains that she had at the heart; she found herself so well from this remedy that this encouraged her to return to the Atheneum. Her sleep became more lucid each time, when a malicious man assured her that if she allowed herself to be magnetized then, she would wither away and die in a year. This ridiculous story frightened this woman and especially her husband; we could not disperse then their common repugnance; finally she ceded and was put to sleep again. Interrogated on many things, she responded in a lucid enough manner, and to this question: What is magnetism? It is the science which comes to find the woman, she said; her lucidity had to have its complement at the end of some days. A spectator thought of pricking her to find out if she was insensible, she was in fact; but awakened one told her she had been pricked, and this imprudence encountered a weak character, she no longer returned. In a visit that she made to my house with her husband, I put her to sleep, and in this state I could make seen two patients who were unknown to her; she recognized as much their illness and indicated remedies which appeared appropriate. Already I had caused her to do a similar thing in a public seance at the Atheneum; a lady that I did not know wanted at any force to interrogate her on her health, and soon the somnambulist recognized her illness and indicated to her a treatment; but especially do not forget, she added, to take often the softening enemas.

This consultation, before two hundred personages, was some thing new and unexpected; it is a precedent which would not be wasted, because if somnambulism indicated remedies, not to use it would be more than silliness, it would be stupidity.

A young Spaniard, M..., was magnetized a first time without feeling much effect. At the second he was visibly influenced, but to date from the third session he offered the most remarkable phenomena. After having magnetized him at around twenty feet from me, both remaining erect, I made simple movements of the hand, and I attracted him into my direction with much violence that one could fear an instant that he might break his head in falling. As he did not wish to obey the power which drew him toward me, his pose was then the most tragic; his eyes pushed a little from the orbits, and his face animated by the sentiment of anger, gave to his whole being a character so strange, so singular, that the surprise of those who saw this effect for the first time could not conceal it. When he arrived close to me, still not wanting it and resisting physically, he was in a nervous state the most pronounced, with a violent trembling of the whole body, the sweat on his face and the limbs cold. He soon returned to himself and there only remained a weak memory of the fight; he recalled only that from the beginning of the action he had taken resolutely his part to resist, but as soon invaded by the magnetic force and reduced to the role of a machine, he seemed no longer to think. I magnetized ten or twelve times this young man, always with the same success, without the assembly, which was always too numerous, had ceased a single instant of being moved, then as I, by the appearance of the very strange phenomena.

M. G..., large and robust, also experienced singular effects, but less pronounced than those we have just described. If he was magnetized standing, he head bent slightly, his face took a character which not at all the one of an awake man, his eyes remained open all the time of the magnetization without there being a single blink of the eyelids. In this state, when I magnetized one of his hands, one saw it slowly obey as a new kind of attraction. He no longer heard a light hum, and seemed to be finally one of the wax automata that one sees on the boulevards. Some passes made across the forehead and the face destroyed this sort of charm, and he appeared astonished that I had produced on him something, because he was stronger than I and took always the resolution to not allow himself to be drawn to the effect of a power which he could not understand.

A patient, brought by one of the distinguished professors of the Atheneum, M. Alma Grand, was magnetized two times without effects being very apparent. At the third time he offered us some new very curious facts. After a light blink of the eyelids, large tears, of which the source did not dry up, sprinkled over his face. The nose also let escape a great quantity of serous fluid; the mouth finally, not wanting to remain immobile in the middle of this general arousal, because the skin was covered with sweat, cast by the commissures of the lips much saliva. Soon the shirt, the vest were inundated, without this patient having made the smallest movement; however he felt, he had the consciousness of that which he experienced, but his will was paralyzed. The same effects have taken place each time that I have magnetized him; each time also he assumed a better feeling and believed he had to attribute it to the magnetic currents that he assured feeling in the belly and in the limbs when I magnetized him.

A young student, whose domicile is in the locale of the Atheneum, was so sensitive to magnetism that, being placed many times in front of the persons that I magnetized, he gave way to sleep without power to resist it; one warned me and I magnetized him. I obtained on him singular effects; if I magnetized him standing, I did not have the power to make him advance, but the one of making him bend at the knees; and in this position that he maintained as much I wished him, I had only to direct my hands toward the carpet to direct his head, and to bend it entirely. When I revealed this situation to him, he was always extremely astonished to find himself thus and could render no account of the manner in which it was brought about. If I put another person to sleep, he would fall asleep on his side, without my trying to produce this effect, and he awoke naturally when the other person awakened. He assured me that when he did not come to the seance and that he was in his house, he felt perfectly the instants where I magnetized.

One of the most remarkable effects should find its place here. Sometime in my seance I magnetized ten persons, of diverse characters and temperaments; when this magnetization lasted for half an hour; it was not rare to see the influence far from the magnetized. One day a lady, Mme Baroness de Crespy the Prince, who attended often these experiments, rather to accompany the ladies who asked her this favor in order for her to examine the effects of magnetism, because she did not believe, experienced three times violent effects of magnetism without my trying to magnetize her. Here is how: there were among the persons that I regularly magnetized a young woman who experienced bizarre effects; it was tics of the muscles of the face, jerks starting from the trunk, and a fixity in the regard which had something of catalepsy. She felt equally my proximity or my distance and was more or less agitated.

All the persons that I magnetized before her affected Mme de Crespy not at all, but when I reached to the one of whom I come to designate the state, Mme de Crespy felt taken with suffocation, and soon, could no more master the effects which she experienced, one was obliged to conduct her into a nearby room; it was neither sympathy nor antipathy: she did not know at the person responsible for these attacks. When the effects ceased in the first magnetized one, they disappeared equally in the second. A single experiment would not suffice to confirm the unusual effect; we have verified it many times. The Baron de Crespy, my friend, a man very versed in the arts and literature, engaged of himself his wife to consent to new experiments which in fact took place. Alien thing! When this double crisis passed and as I magnetized other persons, Mme de Crespy felt nothing.

One knows that two strings of a violin, mounted at the same tone on two different instruments, vibrate both yet, just as one alone had been put into movement. Did the impression that Mme de Crespy experienced have something analogous with this phenomenon? – I do not pretend at all to explain here the magnetic facts, I leave to each this difficult task.

An English lady, from the first seance where she attended the experiments at the Atheneum, felt visibly entrained into my direction, and went into spasms if I went to find her at her place to directly magnetize her; and that which is singular, it is that I could only put her to sleep entirely in magnetizing a person placed beside her. I tried vainly many times with another process.

One of the members of the Atheneum, a distinguished man of the physical sciences, M. Rousseau, came often to the magnetic seances accompanied by a woman of fifty years; this woman was tormented all the time that I magnetized. When she had consented to let magnetism be tried on her, she felt nearly immediately a singular agitation. Although her eyes were closed, she felt the direction of my fingers toward her brain and manifested, by movements of her hands and contractions of the muscles of her face, disagreeable sensations that this magnetization made her experience.

A young lady, brought to the Atheneum by one of the professors, M. Lambert, much wanted to permit that I magnetize her. There was scarcely four minutes that I had commenced my operation that already she was fallen into a kind of magnetic sleep, accompanied with a trembling of all the body and a frequent respiration. I caused to stop this state in some minutes to avoid an attack of nerves that everything announced. She returned a second time to be then magnetized, and soon we saw the symptoms of sleep manifested; but the singular agitation that we had already observed arrived in a manner then more developed, and I could not prevent a kind of suffocation, tears and some cries. On was impressed to calm her; some instants after it only remained for her a slight fatigue in the limbs, and no memory of that which passed.

A young man, who came to be instructed at my house in magnetic processes, brought to me at the Atheneum one of his friends of so great a sensitivity that it was with fear that I magnetized him. The slightest action of magnetism had access on him at more than twenty-five feet; my hand directed on one of the parts of his body produced there convulsions of a great intensity. When one stressed for an instant in the region of the stomach, a movement of torsion of the whole trunk took place, and if one persisted there some minutes alone, these movements resembled those of a reptile. The respiration was then more than double, his face red and inflamed, his eyes brilliant, and still he acknowledged no suffering. In one of the seances I gave him a magnetized cane and hat; he wanted to walk with these objects, but magnetic action developing, the effects resembled those of intoxication; it was impossible for him to take two steps in a straight line. This very curious state soon ceased as one took the magnetized objects from him.

When I attracted myself to this young man while commanding him to resist, he was agitated for some minutes on his seat, and launched then with a great violence in my direction; many efforts were necessary to prevent him reaching there; and he would have, I believe, maltreated those who barred him then passage, if I had not put an end to the fight in approaching myself to him.

All the magnetized experienced in the first five minutes the beginning of my action on them; ordinarily around the tenth minute the magnetic effects had acquired all their development, and I let them rarely last more than double that time; in the case where sleep was manifested I prolonged a little more. When it came to me to interrogate sleeping persons on the time that they wished to pass in sleep, they responded: Always.

I limit here an explanation of facts that I could extend to infinity, because there has arrived many times that a single seance would have required more development of the story than I give for all, so much there was to observe and describe.

What had been my goal in making these experiments? To prove by numerous examples the positive and irrecusable existence of a force that one calls – wrong or right – animal magnetism. One did not ask me to justify its curative property, since one only proposed a single patient to magnetize; it is then only, as I come to say it, the moral and physical action of a one being on another and the abnormal play which results that one wishes to observe. I have produced more than one would dare to hope; by a hundred examples I have fatigued the eyes of my auditors of marvelous phenomena of magnetism, and I must say in passing, it was necessary to act then in order that there remained no more doubt on the existence of this singular property of man.

When satiety arrived to many of my usual auditors, they asked me to show them lucid somnambulism, in saying to me that they were convinced of magnetism, but that it remained to them their incredulity touching the phenomena of vision. “Show us lucidity!” they repeated to me. Yes, I want it much, but recognize not the difficulty that there is to satisfy you. See, all the persons of the world that I have had the privilege to render here somnambulists have fled when one has told to them, awake, that they have spoken during their sleep and announced the day where they could reveal what is for us unknown. Try to make them return, enchain them if you can now. Try to win them by your attentions, speak to them of your love for science or rather of the noble desire that you have to satisfy your curiosity, you only will obtain vague promises, the door of your institution once crossed will no longer be open again for these persons, because they will fear, without doubt quite wrongly to deliver the mysteries of their life. Do not say that you, in a state of somnambulism, would consent to experiments, because you know absolutely nothing; the life of magnetic sleep is a novel existence so different from ordinary life that the tastes, inclinations, affections even are changed; and if you are sincere, you will avow even that you would not allow yourselves to be tormented and investigated as one has done to certain magnetized ones, especially if you had heard the criticism that badly raised and ignorant men permit themselves sometimes to make on estimable persons who at first lent themselves at good grace to the experiments. This motive and others then have not permitted me to insist to the magnetized to obtain longer trials, because I did not owe it; I know all that can come out of a human head, and the responsibility of certain acts would not at all have reached my contradictors, because I alone was responsible.

My goal was to attract to the study of magnetism and not frighten timorous men; all that had passed certain limits of intelligence would have at the instant established the fight between the spectators, and it was that which I feared the most. How not to fear in fact the men who, frightened at the sight of an attack of nerves, rising up with indignation against the magnetizer, a voluntary cause of this instructive accident? How not to fear the alleged scholars who, coming for the first time to attend at the Atheneum my demonstrations, kept everything in suspicion? Is it that one day, after having, during two and a half hours, produced admirable phenomena on more than eight persons, a physician did not approach me to throw into my face the word complicity? Without doubt I owe him thanks, because if this one, a physician, lacked sense to recognize physiological facts of an extreme evidence, how would these same facts suddenly convince men foreign to all physical knowledge? I was then without ceasing in the presence of pitfalls; I have known to avoid them in not ceding much to the exigency of men convinced of magnetic phenomena, but who wished to see more than what I produced, and in daring however to scorn rather the judgment of fools to keep myself above their censure in exposing to the great day and before an always new public the phenomena of animal magnetism. The method that I have followed was the lone rationale, the lone good; one will perceive soon, because it alone can habituate the minds to the possibility of the existence of the supernatural facts of somnambulism.

Have a little patience, I will say today to those who are forward, wait some time; do you not see that already the prejudices weakening and that one begins to believe in the existence of certain phenomena? The magnetizers will prove those that one contests yet, and soon I myself will come here before you to produce the series of miracles that you could not yet see. (Paris, 11 October 1839)

MOM Introduction

People Medicine