« PreviousContinue »
perfect conviction. How! what will you say ? sician ? Fie! for shame! Yes, I, a physician, and one, indeed, who has written a whole treatise on gout, sought from Herr Gassner help against the hell-torture. Well, do not imagine that on that account I have ceased for 'a moment to be a physician; for I confess it now candidly, that I rather intended to test Herr Gassner than hoped to derive any cure from him. But a man that sees will not deny that it is day when the sun burns his neck; and a courageous physician will believe that he is ill when he feels pain. All those present, and the aforesaid physicians, fully testify that which we saw, and I myself, to my astonishment, experienced.
5. He who will not believe that Herr Gassner cures all kinds of diseases,—he who rejects the evidence of such impartial and overwhelming witnesses, I must either send as one dangerously ill to the water-cure, or, if that does not succeed, to the mad-house; or as a non-natural sufferer to the curative powers of Herr Gassner. But he requires believing patients !"
He now proceeds, in the tone of the opposing doctors, that, indeed, every physician has, according to his own statement, cured
kind of disease: some by electricity, and some by other means, by sympathy and imagination. Many also have enquired whether Herr Gassner's crucifix, or the chain on his neck, or his half-silken sash, be not electric? Whether a magnet be not concealed in his cloak, or his hands be stroked with one, or be even anointed with a sympathic ointment !
After he has circumstantially shown that none of these accusations will hold good, he comes to the conclusion“ that Herr Gassner performed all his cures merely by the glorified name of Jesus Christ, and the laying on of his hands and his cloak. But he gives the people oil, eyewater, and the like: he counsels them to use such things after the cure has taken place. He has, however, in order to make the blind see, no eye-water, nor oil to put in motion a paralysed limb; much less, powder and fumigations to drive out the devil. He merely touches the joints of the lame; he rubs the ears and glands of the deaf; he touches
with his fingers the eyelids of the blind; he draws the pains forth under his hands by a commanding strong voice. He commands them with the same power, with an earnest and authoritative voice, to come out and depart, and it takes place. Where, then, is the sympathy, where the electricity, where the magnet, and all philosophical acuteness ?"
but why then does he not cure all by the same means ?"
“ Ask your own consciences; enquire into the mode of life and the mode of thinking of your uncured friends, whether they come within the conditions required by Herr Gassner, and possess the three kinds of faith which we mentioned in the opening of this account of Gassner, and you may yourselves answer the question.
“Are you silent? You will then first open your thoughts to me, when you have experienced what has been the permanence of the Gassner mode of cure.
“ Herr Gassner demands as a security against a relapse into the sickness, like St. Peter, a constant and perpetual conflict. Wherefore ? Because the attacks of our invisible enemy are never ceasing. He prescribes to every one how he can maintain himself in health without his aid; and I assure you on honour sincerely, that I have known many, very many, who have cured themselves of violent illness without going to or having seen Herr Gassner, but merely by following his book by my advice, and who still daily derive benefit from it. And I have never known one person who has relapsed into the old non-natural sickness who has not first deviated from the prescribed rules of Herr Gassner, or wholly abandoned them? Who, then, was to blame ?"
JOSEPH BALSAMO, called Count Cagliostro, born in 1743 at Palermo, is generally classed amongst the magicians. There exists, however, no particular doctrine of his ; he led with his wife a rambling life through all the countries of Europe. He is accused, at least in the writings, life, and acts of Joseph Balsamo, the so-called Count Cagliostro, from the documents produced against him on his trial at Rome in
1790, and Zurich 1791, of having practised all kind of impositions, of gold-making, and of possessing the secret of prolonging life; that he secretly taught the Cabbalah and cabbalistic arts; that he pretended to call up and exorcise spirits, and actually did frequently foretel future things; and that in small, secret companies, and chiefly by means of a little boy, whom he took aside with him into a separate room, in order to fit him for divining.
It is farther stated, that in the order of Freemasons he: assumed the character of an apostle of the Egyptian freemasonry; and that he had heretically attached himself to all sorts of religions. The same charges are brought against him by the Countess von der Recke, in a book on the life and opinions of Cagliostro. From all these accounts, we may set down Cagliostro as an accomplished adventurer, whose magic consisted
in this, that he with the boy, or the so-called orphan, or doves, made his experiments in magnetism. For it says in the documents of the trial, pp. 82, 90, etc.,
“ This child had to kneel before a small table, on which a can of water and some lighted candles stood. He now instructed the boy to look into the water-can, and so commenced his conjuration ; laid his hand on the head of the boy, and in this position addressed a prayer to God for a successful issue of the experiment.
“ The child was now clairvoyant, and said at first that he saw something white, then that he saw a child or angel, etc., and after this spoke of all sorts of future things. He availed himself also of an orphan maiden at Mitau, who being already of a marriageable age, could not, of course, be considered as simple and innocent as a small boy. The questions which he put to the orphan girl did not confine themselves to the angel, but extended to the discovery of secrets and future events, when he frequently made his experiments without the can of water, and merely placed the orphan behind a screen. He also, it is not known whether the more thoroughly to convince the spectators or to throw dust in their eyes, laid his hand on other individuals, and transferred to them a portion of his own power. He worked, it says at page 93, through the usual ceremonies, and alí was wonderfully corroborated through the appearance of the angel. At page 134 it says, “In what manner does the
sanctifying vision come ?
In three ways.
First, when God makes himself visible, as to the patriarchs; secondly, through the appearance of angels; and, finally, through artistic practices and inward inspiration."
Cagliostro expressly declared before the Inquisition that he had never had anything to do with the devil; and if, he said, “I am a sinner, I trust that a merciful God will forgive me.” He declared very distinctly also, p. 146, “ that he believed his Egyptian system had nothing whatever to do with the church of Rome, and especially in what related to the employment of the orphans." Cagliostro in 1791 was condemned in full council of the Inquisition for many crimes, and as deserving of the severest punishments awarded to heretics, teachers of error, archheretics, masters and adherents of superstitious magic, and out of especial grace was committed to perpetual imprisonment, instead of suffering death. He died in prison in 1795, at St. Leo in the states of the Church.
Swedenborg, regarded in more than one point of view, belongs to the history of magic, not because he was himself a magician at all, but because he belongs to magnetism, being a truly remarkable example of a high degree of self-development of the inner sense-of a religious clairvoyance; and also in relation to his philosophy of nature.
The name of Swedenborg is a bugbear to the so-called learned world, which runs from mouth to mouth shrieking, it knows not why. For people take no trouble to know Swedenborg really, or to hear the accused; and if any one has occasionally deigned to ride full gallop, extra-post, through Swedenborg's voluminous writings, he understands, as a stranger from this world, nothing of the spirit-language of the prophet; it is a gibberish to him; and he quits the land in haste, leaving it unknown and deserted behind him, without suspecting the existence of the precious stones and treasures which lie there, or of looking amongst them with diligence and close inspection.
And if in the writings of Swedenborg the seeing of spirits is not to be entirely freed from the charge of phantasy, and if enthusiasm and exaltation are not to be denied, there is still so much that is profound and noble in his works on God and Man, on the Phenomena of Nature, and their harmony with the spiritual, that he must unquestionably be deemed worthy of ranking with the greatest spirits of history: I find it therefore proper to introduce here a concise account of his life and writings, and their influence on our subject.
I take the whole from a book which bears the title : Emanuel Swedenborg's Theological Works; on his theory of God, of the world, heaven, hell, the spiritual world, and the future life. A selection from his collected works. Leipsic, 1789: and immediately from the translation of Swedenborg's writings by Hofacker.
Emanuel Swedenborg was born at Upsala, in Sweden, 29th of January, 1688. His father was bishop of Skara. On account of his distinguished talents, diligence, and acquirements, Swedenborg was appointed in his youth to a prominent post in a provincial college ; and distinguished himself in it by his uprightness and disinterestedness. Very soon afterwards, he showed himself by his numerous and profound writings on mineralogy, natural philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, etc., to be one of the most learned and thinking men of his age, and his extensive and frequent travels through the principal counties of Europe at the same time extended his knowledge and his fame. On account of his virtue and learning, esteemed by every one as a man of high worth and blameless morals, Swedenborg somewhere about the year 1740 renounced all worldly intercourse and renown, and devoted himself entirely to inquiries into the spiritual world From this period to that of his death, on the 29th of March, 1772, in London, Swedenborg wrote many works on the spiritual world, and all in the Latin tongue. His writings are based on the solid foundations of the Bible, whose mysterious revelations he laboured to make clear. His diction and doctrine in his works are spiritual, deep, and richly metaphorical, and, therefore, not understood by the world, for they are inward, and treat of the world of spirits and of eternity. For to