Jules du Potet de Sennevoy
Magnetism Opposed to Medicine
|Jules du Potet de Sennevoy (1796-1881) was
usually known as the Baron du Potet thanks to a modest station
of nobility bequeathed to him. Thus, he also had a regular
income which allowed him to travel widely sharing his talents
and teaching throughout France and into England. It seems that
he never charged for his healing works.
Du Potet was the focal point for the spread of magnetic teaching in Western Europe through much of the 19th century. His was the third great epoch of animal magnetism, following on that of Mesmer himself, and his direct students the Marquis de Puységur and JPF Deleuze.
Both Mesmer and the Baron happily gave credit to Nature as their greatest teacher. With profound magnetic and magical abilities, du Potet instructed many hundreds of would-be mesmerists while offering relief and healing to many thousands of his country men and women. The Baron challenged the current medical system wherever he lived, eventually bringing significant numbers of physicians to the fold in many cities and provinces of France.
Du Potet published the Journal of Magnetism and other periodicals for long years. He also wrote several very revealing and valuable books on magnetism and magic, medicine and healing.
These translations of the Baron’s works are made mostly in a literal manner, largely maintaining the author’s own words while allowing the reader freedom to interpret.
The reader should be aware of some keys words in the writings: the art usually points to the so-called art of medicine. The science does the same, although occasionally these words refer to the new art and science of magnetism. Savant signifies the French scholars of the day, who were to du Potet’s mind addicted to books and philosophy while unaware of Nature. Seance refers to sessions where magnetism and healing were purveyed. Somnambulism was a relatively common effect of magnetic work. The latter produced somnambulists who experienced and expressed quite extraordinary, sometimes otherworldly effects in their magnetic sleep states.
Memoir serving the History of Magnetism
in France and in England
In opposition with certain physical laws which the scholars have believed solidly established, and with the systems of medicine owing to the genius of men of another age from our own, magnetism, the powerful action that man exercises on his fellows, came to cast a new day on the domain of the sciences and to revolutionize the intelligences which believe to have found the limits of the possible. But what can unbelief or doubt of the scholars do before the positive facts? What can reasoning do against a truth which has only need of the sense to be recognized and studied? What need have we to recall here the men who passed for fools because they presented a truth which the savant have not then perceived? What does it matter that one has declared that Mesmer was a visionary, if his discovery survives to the day and invades the world? What then finally matter the titles of the academicians who have signaled this sentence? Posterity does not always ratify the judgment of men: it often indeed blackens what they have honored; and at the place of the names that one has revered, the inflexible chisel of history engraves sometime in letters of gold those that one believes forgotten.
But why did Mesmer pursue the savants? Did he have need of them for the triumph of his doctrine? No, since it penetrates into the masses despite their opposition. Had he then forgotten then, this good Mesmer, what had happened to Galileo, to Columbus, and to so many other geniuses who were from their times the same kind as both these men? Did he believe that justice had descended on the Earth? Why did he take for judges men who live with hollow words, in exploiting humanity as they deceive? Did he hope to make them better and to correct their vices?
In his great moralist work, did Jesus address the savants? No, he knew them very well. “Unfortunate for you, scribes and pharisees hypocrites,” he said to them, “you appear just to the eyes of men, but inside you are full of iniquities,” and unmasking a lone word of the sophists, he took his disciples among the people, and his doctrine soon reigned in the world.
Puységur, Deleuze, what did you hope from them with the flatteries that you addressed to the savants of this time? Had you then not recognized that they only served to render you contemptible to the eyes, and that so to distance them from the examination that you solicited with so much ardor and constancy? Deceived myself by your teachings, I followed the route that you have traced; but recognizing finally my error and yours, I returned to my steps; and it is in the heart of men who live far from the savant coteries that I have deposited the seeds of the new truth. How have I since employed the time lost in vain endeavors? In the place of twenty savants that I have convinced, and who have done nothing to enlighten their contemporaries, fifty thousand individuals today enjoy the benefits of the discovery of Mesmer, would they have freed themselves from the medical yoke, and removed from the ways of life and of death that men full of errors have usurped over the nations.
Happier than I, enlightened moreover by the past, my disciples will attain the aim that I proposed myself to attain, in spreading amidst the people the discovery of Mesmer; and in signaling the errors without number committed by this alleged medical science, they will gather from this monstrous tree and show to the crowd that its fruits were poisoned.
Oh! That there did not exist so much tolerance for men of our times who can without murmuring listen to speeches which do not accord with their belief? Why does the past not serve them with teaching? I could then without detour say what my soul understands and show without fear the changes that the truth I defend must produce in the future.
Today my speeches pass for being those of a fool, or rather of an enthusiast, who, without respect for what is recognized as good, pleases himself to blemish by his word the men whom the nation distinguishes and honors.
But without saying it totally this truth that I sense so well, I troubled these enemies who live in peace on this sorry ground, where they see each day falling like thousands of ears [of corn] before nature has matured them. My voice will make itself heard to signal their indifference and their impotence; I will not accord entirely my words at the present time. Enlighten yourselves, I say without ceasing to my fellow citizens, enlighten yourselves on the means that the art holds in reserve for you to rescue yourself when your days will be in peril. Be less careless that you are not so affectedly well as one calls health. Do not count so much on the resources that the officials offer; these concoctions so vaunted are prescribed and compounded by men whose existence is the same as yours; their senses are no more refined than those which govern you. Weak as you in the presence of illness, they make only conjectures on it, and it is to chance that they deliver your life and theirs.
What does it matter to the sick man, I will repeat, that men pass their existence in the boredom of painful and difficult travail, if with all their labor it must only result in a heap of words and of systems which do not advance the art of healing! Of what import are these luminous reasons where the art appears to surpass nature, if in the final result it alone is charged with the task! What matters this great number of schools, these academic congresses, if, despite this imposing apparatus, interminable disputes must alone be the product!
The difficulties of this science are then very great, its study very difficult, and the men who succeed to knowledge only then appear like those stars which show sometimes in space, and of which the slow return causes one to doubt their existence?
If it is so then, I do conceive that the Romans lived two centuries without physicians; not that they despised life, but they thought they recognized that physicians then were impotent to prolong it, to govern it. They thought they recognized that for all the epidemics which afflicted the human species, medicine had no remedy to oppose the devastating scourge; they better liked to collect the recommendations inscribed on hangings suspended on the walls of the ancient temples, and to serve them in their illnesses, than to adopt the new medicaments owed to the caprices of certain minds, for the ones came from God and the others from the foolish human.
All is much changed since that time: this doubtful art is implanted in the nations; it has grown in importance, it is a powerful body in the social state. The men who practice it, this art, are honored, considered, and if they are not all satisfied by the favors of fortune and of power, it is that these children of Aesculapius have become very numerous, and that the population has not increased in reason along with their increase.
I would part from the circle that I traced if I would show you these men, little content with their fate, invading the work force and throwing themselves into politics; it is only with their science that I must speak to you, monstrous and killing science, whose apostles avow the terrible dangers without shuddering.
Do not think that I am moved by a blind hate against a body that I do not know; I have no hate against anyone, I know medicine and physicians, for my youth was passed on the benches of a celebrated school, and it is with the desire to confront the truth there that I approached it. I am not here the enemy of man, but of his principles; my attacks are outside of all personal considerations; my lone passion was always to combat error opposed to the eternal laws of nature.
Had not the peoples of antiquity recognized that it was necessary to be pure in order to practice medicine? They had made it a priesthood, because all men are not called to fulfill this divine function. Purity today, one does not comprehend it, or rather physicians learn to scorn it.
There is nothing more beautiful, greater than the noble profession of the physician, when he knows to heal! Image of God on Earth, who is the one that dared to dispute him with the hands of immortality? But the divine being no longer exists in the academies. No, no, modern sciences, you have remained in the rear, at least on this side. There is nothing more sacred in this art at other times so vaunted: Hippocrates alone merits to be recalled; and it is in vain that each day one evokes his shade; our modern physicians have forgotten their origin, and darkness reigns where formerly there was light.
These are the times that we wish to question; these are the memories that we wish to awaken in the minds.
Soon without doubt thousands of voices will be joined to ours to demand the reform of an art which makes victims each day, and power comes to our aid, the persecuted truth will be established to the goodness of all.