« PreviousContinue »
The phenomena which are included under the name Animal Magnetism, present so many points of interest, that they have of late years attracted universal attention. Not only are learned men engaged in endeavouring to understand ail that is problematical in them, according to their comprehensiveness and worth, and to find the proper point of view from which they are to be regarded, but even the popular mind is attracted towards them, in the expectation of deriving either amusement or instruction from their mysteries.
Magnetism possesses properties which are not only practically useful as regards health and the relations of life, but also in respect to the highest interests of mankind.
We have, in the foregoing pages, looked at Animal Magnetism in its relations to other phenomena of life, and as connected with the sciences, and throughout its historical career; so that sound deductions may be drawn. Hence the reader who has accompanied us will have been placed at a point of view from whence he may discover that many wonderful stories can be explained and connected most naturally with well-known facts; he will have been enabled to form an unfettered judgment regarding circumstances which superstition has deified, scepticisin rejected as folly, or blind belief accepted as miracles. Lastly, having compared together historical facts, it is possible that he may have discovered traces of a more extended universe than that of the senses or of worldly experience, and that in human nature lie the germs of powers which are occasionally met with in this earthly home, but which here are never perfectly developed
By Animal Magnetism we understand those peculiar physical and psychological phenomena which are produced in others principally for the cure of diseases, by a conscious mechanical influence. The mutual impression produced by living beings upon each other is merely a modified universal law of mutual impression, which has been designated natural magnetism; for this reason Mesmer, its discoverer, called this artificial manner of producing it, by analogous reasoning, magnetism. “By these means, we discover in Animal Magnetism a new medical science, or the art of healing and prevention of disease, not through a substance but by a power; a movement which, like sound in the air, like light in the ether, appears to be endowed with a surpassing mobility. It is called Animal Magnetism, because the animal part of man is the medium, the conducting body of this penetrating magnetism, and is more particularly active in that particular which distinguishes our animal from the vegetable organisations, namely, in the direction of our senses, and the higher faculties of man."'*
Magnetism has also been called Life-magnetism, on account of its universal influence on human beings, and Mesmerism from its discoverer, which is perhaps the best designation for this new curative system founded on his theories. Kluge and others call it Animal Magnetism, in contra-distinction to universal vegetable and mineral magnetism. The word magnetism in itself says too little, and is too indefinite; universal magnetism says too much ; and Tellurism is merely an individual idea adopted by Kieser.
Although Animal Magnetism only gives but an indistinct idea, yet it is not difficult to find explanations through it for many well-known phenomena. Its analogy with mineral magnetism is expressed by Mesmer in the following words (p. 18):
“ Just as the properties of the magnet may by certain * Mesmerism ; or, the System of Mutual Influence, Theory and Uses of Animal Magnetism as an Universal Healing Medium, &c.; by Dr. F. A. Mesmer; edited by Dr. Karl Christian Wolfart. Berlin, 1814, pp. 18, 19. Explanations of Mesmerism by Dr. Wolfart, p. 147.
processes be called into action in iron and steel, and be so strengthened that they are able to represent a true magnet, so have I discovered the means of strengthening the actual magnetism of any individual being to such a degree, that phenomena are produced which aro analogous to those of the magnet. Just as natural heat may be raised by certain processes so far that fire is the consequence, so is natural magnetism a description of invisible fire, which, by a continued series of movements, is enabled to impart itself in an immeasurable degree to other animate or inanimate bodies; and this fire, in relation to its application as a curative agent, is that which I call Animal Magnetism, which, as will be seen, may become an immediate remedy,—may strengthen the activity of the muscular fibre, regulate the functions depending on it, and by such means infuse harmony in the internal parts and members of the human body."
A peculiar description of iron-stone is called magnet, or loadstone, and possesses the remarkable property of attracting and retaining iron and steel ; an influence which, if the bodies are light and easily moved, shows itself at a considerable distance, and is not weakened even if another substance is placed between the magnet and the attracted body; that is to say, the interspersed substance not being iron, or of a ferruginous nature. A magnet will operate in this manner through paper, wood, glass, &c. Such a magnet has generally two points, called poles, which show most strongly this attraction for iron ; and at the same time, if the magnet is suspended, it invariably turns towards the north and south-with a certain variation, how
This last property of the magnet is caused by the earth's magnetic pole, and was the origin of the discovery of the compass. Between these two poles there is an opposite attraction, so that the south pole of one magnet is attracted by the north pole of another, and at the same time is repelled by the south pole of the same. It is particularly remarkable that the power of a magnet is strengthened if it is made to support an increasing series of weights. Lastly, the magnetic power may be artificially given to any iron by rubbing it with a loadstone. The magnet is also
deflected towards the centre of the earth. In a much smaller degree is the magnetic power observable in other substances; as nickel, cobalt, serpentine, porphyry.
The magnet has also been called Siderit ; and according to Lucretius, (de rerum natura, lib. vi. v. 908) derived its name among the Greeks from the country of the Magnesians, or Magnesia, in Thessaly, where it is frequently met with. Pliny derives the name from a shepherd, Magnes, who was tending his sheep in Mount Ida, and is said to have discovered the stone by its fastening itself to his iron-bound staff (Historia natur. lib. xxxvi. c. 17). Others have called it Heraclion—the stone of Hercules—from its frequency near the city of Heraclea. The word is first met with in the Orphean poetry, where we find
" The warlike Mars loves the magnet.”
We may also discover in Homer, Pythagoras, Epicureus, and Aristotle, that they were not unacquainted with it; and according to Athanasius Kircher (Magnes, sive de arte magnetica, Coloniæ, 1643), it was known even in the earliest ages in Asia, Egypt, and Greece. He also states, that among the Hieroglyphics “ magnetic pictures” are represented, particularly in the temples of Serapis and the Sun. The polarity, however, of the magnet was certainly not known in the early ages; and the compass is first mentioned in 1180 in France, in the poems of Hugues Bercy and John of Metun (Recherches de la France, par Pasquier, lib. v. c. 25). According to Zonaras and Photius (Lexica Græca), a certain Eusebius is said to have navigated by aid of the “ Batylus,” a stone belonging to the Oracles. Whether it was the native loadstone or artificial magnet is not related. Albertus Magnus is certainly of the opinion that Aristotle knew of the polarity of the magnet; but no passage
such reference can now be discovered in his works. Others maintain, that the small iron arrow belonging to Solomon of Crete, and which showed the hours, was a magnet; and again, others believe that it was first introduced from China by Paulus Venetus in 1200. It is also said that Vasco de Gama on rounding the Cape of Good
Hope discovered some natives, who navigated by means of a needle ; but more probably it was the Neapolitan Giaa, or Gioja, who was the first discoverer of the compass
in the 13th century (Kircher). Later, the French, English, and Belgians all claimed the discovery (Attempted Chronological History of Magnetism, by F. W. A. Murhart, Cassel, 1797). These remarkable properties of the magnet gave rise, even in the earliest times, to many different opinions, views, and theories of celebrated. men, which are to be found in Pliny, Lucretius, and, later, in Gilbert (de Magnete, &c., de magno magnete telluris physiologia nova, Londini, 1600). Plato believed the magnetic attractions to be of divine origin, and Thales
loadstone bas a soul. But not alone were theories formed, but also experiments and discoveries made, which very soon led to the belief that an universal power of nature existed, which probably might be the general basis of matter. The first who watched the phenomena of magnetism more narrowly, made many new experiments, and founded a totally new and comprehensive theory which was connected with the universal law of nature, was Gilbert. According to him, the whole earth is a magnetic substance, as well as the sun, moon, and all other heavenly bodies. Euler also maintains, in a treatise for the Parisian Academy, that the earth is generally magnetic, and not simply provided with a central magnetic core, as Halley supposed. Descartes, A pinus, Brugman, Bernoulli, and others, touched upon this likewise in their works. Euler's theory was afterwards extended by Kepler (Harmonia mundi), and Stevin, and more particularly Paracelsus, to the whole universe, so that all operations of nature and its whole connection was declared to be magnetic (Archidoxis magica; de Ente astrorum; Tractatus de magnete, philosophia fugax). He speaks of magnete magno, of magnetic power, of magnetic secrets, even of a magic influence by the will
other men. Magic is a great sudden wisdom, as reason is openly a great folly.” He also applied magnets in many diseases.
The most faithful follower of Paracelsus, Baptista van Helmont, soon amplified his teachings, and almost spoke in the very words of Mesmer, when he admitted that magic, or an unknown power in man, needs only to