Page images

be roused to usefulness in him, as it is a natural gift. He says:-"It is foolish to believe that it is through the devil (who only thrives where ignorance abounds) that one man may by his will influence others, even at a distance. Magnetism is present everywhere, and has nothing new but the name; neither does it present any feature contrary to reason, excepting to those who scoff at everything, or ascribe all they are unable to comprehend to the power of the devil" (Van Helmont de magnetica vulnerum curatione). Also, Opera omnia, Frankfort, 1682. Similar views are to be found in Maxwell (Medicina Magnetica, libri tres, in quibus tam theoria quam praxis continetur); Burggraf (Balneum Dianæ magneticum, 1600); Robert Fludd (Philosophia mosaica, etc, 1638).

The magnet had been applied much earlier in various diseases. Pliny, Galen, Dioscorides, and Avicenna, have ascribed a power to the magnet of thinning and improving the slugglish juices of the human body, more particularly in disorders of the abdomen, and hypochondriasis. A magnet worn suspended round the neck is said to be an excellent remedy against convulsions and affections of the nerves. Etius, Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Borel, and Meker, have recorded many very remarkable cases of cure by loadstones; for instance, Etius, a case of gout (Tradunt, detentum magnetum manu chiragricorum dolores sedare, æque convulsis opitulatur, etc.), Paracelsus one of hemorrhage. The oldest and most singular cures by the magnet on record are contained in the following works,— Joh. Jac. Schweighardi, ars magnetica s. disquisitio de natura, viribus et prodigiosis effectibus magnetis, Herbiss. 1631.-Wepfer de secretis, Basil. 1667.-Borelli, Hist. et observ. physico-med. Cent. vi.-Acta eruditor. Lips. 1707. -Talbot, in Birch's History of the Royal Society, vol. iv. --Göttinger gelehrte Anz. 1763, S. 252.-Gazette Sanitaire, 1661, No. 23.-T. Zwingeri Scrutinium magnetis physicomedic. Basil. 1697.-J. G. Pasch, Abhandlung von den Zähnen, Wien, 1776.-Ch. Weber, Die Wirkung der künstlichen Magnete in seltenen Augenkrankheiten, Hannover, 1767.-Heinsius, Beiträge zu Versuchen mit künstlichen Magneten, Leipzig, 1776.-Max. Hell, Unpartheiischer Bericht über die sonderbaren Wirkungen künst

lichen Magnete, Wien, 1775.-Histoire de l'Académie Royale de Médec. sur les propriétés médicales de l'aimant, Paris, 1777, T. H.-E. G. Baldinger, Narratio historica de magnetis viribus ad morbos sanandos, Gotting. 1778.Unzer, Beschreibung der mit dem künstlichen Magnet angestellten Versuche, Altona, 1778.-J. G. Reichel Res pond. Christ. Ludwig dissertat. de Magnetismo in corpore humano, Lipsiæ, 1772.-Audry de Thouret, Observat. et recherches sur l'usage de l'aimant en médecine; ou, Mémoire sur le Magnét. Animal, Paris, 1782.-J. G. Bolten, Nachricht von einem mit dem künstlichen Magnet gemachten Versuch in einer Nervenkrankheit, Hamburg, 1775. Also, many later works on the preparation and application of the artificial magnet, by Weber, Deinmann, Becker, and Bulmerincq.

Although it cannot be maintained that magnetism is something new, yet undoubtedly Mesmer was the primary discoverer, as he was the first who arranged the various phenomena which were produced in sick persons by a certain course of action, in a comprehensive and complete theory; and through him it was that a new science was created: although we may on another occasion take a closer view of this theory, yet we must now become at least somewhat acquainted with the mesmeric operations, and the phenomena produced thereby in its patients.

The mesmeric influence of magnetism for curative purposes is either directed upon the whole body or upon individual portions alone. For this purpose, man is provided by nature with a remarkable and perfectly adapted conductor-the hand. If a man is suffering under any affection, the disease is always more or less confined to one certain spot, where, as it were, all the activity of the body is collected. If, then, two men mutually influence each other magnetically, the united activity of this influence is directed upon the diseased part, and the hands are particularly calculated to act upon any given spot. This locally excited place becomes now the focus of activity in different directious, and the disease becomes general instead of local; on which account the contractions and convulsions produced by magnetism are salutary, and when properly guided, often lead to health without the application of medicines.

The magnetic influence by the hands extends even to animals and plants, which thereby acquire a peculiar state, and even inorganic substances may be so influenced by magnetism, that in certain circumstances they may be used as conductors.

The act of magnetising-the magnetic process, takes place either by personal contact or by means of conductors. Personal magnetic influence operates

1stly. Through the approximation of the operator to the patient.

2ndly. Through the hands.

3rdly. By the eyes. 4thly. By words.

Influence by conductors may take place through the whole of nature, with its substances and productions, both organic and inorganic. Water, metals, living animals and trees, even the light of the sun and moon, may be aids and conductors to this magnetic fluid.

Magnetizing by the hand is the most usual method; for the hands are the true organs of the will. They are the instruments by which the will is palpably exhibited. The hands give the direction of activity to the will; and as the body is the visible material reflection of the soul, so are the hands the physiognomic expressions of the composition and activity of the will and the character.

Magnetizing by the eyes, and gazing upon the patient, is usually very powerful, when it is done continuously, and with intention. Animals cannot support the glance of the human eye; and it is not rare for a sick person to fall asleep merely by being looked at, particularly if accustomed to magnetic treatment.

Words are the direct embodiment of the ideas of the soul, and are used to act even physically; to excite, restrain, invigorate, or lead.

Farther than this we do not proceed; the full and minute explanation of magnetism not having been the object of the foregoing work; and for further information, the reader is referred to Der Magnetismus im Verhältniss zur Natur und Religion, Stuttgart, 1842. (Magnetism in connection with Religion.)

Those phenomena designedly produced by magnetism,

which, however, arise naturally in many diseases, and may also be produced by other means and influences, are most easily classed as physical and psychological. Those which are most frequent are physical crises, and less frequently, psychological conditions. The former are not unusual in all magnetic patients. Among the psychological phenomena may be classed the waking up of the inner consciousness with extraordinary activity of the outer senses; as, for instance, that dream-like middle state between sleep and waking called somnambulism; or the more rare and still higher state of the soul, which is known as the power of the seer,-clairvoyance, ecstasy, &c.

Happily, prejudices of all kinds are giving way before the power of knowledge and enlightenment, and magnetism has now no longer to strive against the spirit of the age. The physician who will not introduce magnetism into his own individual practice, yet no longer denies its reality. It is no longer an interdicted word in the writings of the philosopher and the psychologist; whilst many a theologian has taken up the subject zealously, now he can recognize something beyond miracles or sorcery in it. As to the learned, if they are not altogether advocates of it, neither are they altogether opposed to it; besides, the time is passed when they were considered the infallible judges of all unknown mysteries and higher truths.

The advancing spirit of the age, and in an especial manner the attention which is paid to the earnest study of natural philosophy, have given a new importance to the subject of Animal Magnetism. The veil which formerly enwrapped so many mysteries and enigmas is falling off by degrees, by means of the irresistible and rapid discoveries of physics and chemistry, of organology and anthropology. This truer and more intimate knowledge of all the natural sciences has produced one of those general reforms in which the schools and the sects, narrow-souled private views, fancies, and prejudices, are dispersed as shadows of night before the ascending daylight of truth.

Magnetism is thus brought under the protection of science and general intelligence, of which it will become an active and useful agent. Magnetism is no new principle; it is an organic development of the powers inherent in

[blocks in formation]

man. No fresh human characteristic is revealed by it; for all organic development of the present time has its origin in the past whence it has successfully sprung. Thus magnetism is according to its nature as old as humanity. But it is different with the doctrine regarding magnetism. This may be new, since the facts scattered throughout the course of history must be collected, must be compared with those of the present day, and a theory formed out of which a rational system of application may be obtained. It is no reason that because the history of magnetism as yet vibrates between contradictory opinions, between fact and appearance, that we should not seek out its physiological root from amidst the physical and psychological facts which everywhere abound.

As concerns the historical facts of magnetism, people are now at all events convinced that that which occurs to the individual is common to the whole race, and that those kindred phenomena have never failed in any age or nation. Magnetism is therefore an historical fact; it is nothing theoretical, but a practical reality; it is a fact of scientific importance; it is of the most momentous value to the physician, while it in no way contradicts religion.

Magnetism has alone given us the key to an historical criticism of that mysterious and mystical region of the human soul in which the hidden power plays his magical part. It has been the first to render intelligible the hieroglyphics of fanaticism, of magic, and of sorcery, and to impart to them a scientific intelligence. Thus magnetism becomes a valuable expositor of philosophy and history, directing attention towards the forbidden questions of human nature, and rendering their perception more acute, while it enriches them with facts and ideas which they would not otherwise have possessed.

The history of magnetism is divided into two portions,that of the ancient magic, and that of modern magnetism. Christianity was a very important crisis in the existence of magic,-in fact, the most important; for the advent of Christ is in an historical point of view the central era when the old time comes to an end and the new commences; when the night-like shadowiness of mysteries is dissolved into the daylight of self-consciousness and the purpose and

« PreviousContinue »