« PreviousContinue »
physical science is very clear; and Schweigger traces the electro-magnetism into everything, rendering only still more apparent their medical knowledge.
Plato compares, in Ione, the penetrating power of poetry with the marvellous strength of the Samothracian rings; thus showing their effect even on the mind as an auxiliary influence in the vaticinations in the temples. That the magnet played a great part in the temples is certain. I have already spoken of that magnetic stone in the form of Venus, which, by a living embrace, held fast a statue of Mars, which was raised into the air. Pausanias also speaks of a splendid seat or throne of iron, which stood near the consecrated sacrificial hearth of Apollo at Delphi. Plutarch, on Isis and Osiris, has a remarkable passage wherein it is said, -according to the books which are ascribed to Hermes, -the
power which affects the circulation of the sun is called Horus, and by the Grecians Apollo ; and soon afterwards, that the Egyptians often call Isis by the name of Athene; and, indeed, with an expression which means, “I came through myself,”—which clearly denotes an original power of acting. Typhon also is called Seth, and Smy, and Beban,—which expressions indicate binding and opposing power. The magnet they call the bone of Horus, iron that of Typhon, as Manetho says: “for like as iron drawn by a stone often follows it, but often also is turned and driven away in the opposite direction, so also is the wholesome, good, and regular motion of the world: it turns round and recedes, softens and appeases that rough Typhonic power, till it returns into itself, and sinks down in dissatisfaction."
In this place a mystic language is used, which contains more than a simple physical action. There is in it concealed the fundamental idea of a universal and magnificent activity of magnetism, even in a cosmic aspect. The newer philosophy speaks not merely of an earth magnetism ; it has discovered that a universal cosmic magnetism, a force active in the amber, pervades the universe.
“Such matters gladly we proclaim,
Till joyfully we view the course of stars,
The experiences of animal magnetism afford evidence that the cosmic powers may be momentarily employed; not merely those of the sun and moon, whether quickening or destroying, but also the power of stars may be so mightily concentrated, that healing and destruction may become dependent upon it. As the god of physical light, Apollo was also pre-eminently the seer with the spiritual eye, the soothsayer and source of oracles; and in the Zendavesta it is said “ that fire gives knowledge of the future, science, and amiable speech. Apollo is also the avenger, armed with bow and arrows (Il. i. 42, etc.) He is called the sender of fatal missiles as well as the creative, lifeexciting god, and the god who at once cripples the strength of men, as I have repeatedly found confirmed to the letter in the influence of the sun on magnetic experiments : in that antithesis, probably, more is contained than is meant in mythologic language by the beneficent influence of the spring sun, and the pestilence-bringing summer heat. It is that universe-pervading magnetic power which in little produces health and disease through alternating' action, and in the great unites the stars into one general causation of life and death.
We find, too, traces of the use of the magnet amongst the ancient Egyptians. Pliny relates that the temple of Arsinoe was to have been vaulted with magnetic stone, in order to receive a hovering statue of Arsinoe made of iron, according to the arrangement of Ptolemaus Philadelphus, but who, as well as the architect, died before the completion of the temple. According to Cedrenus and Augustine there were anciently temples so constructed. Cedrenus, indeed, says that an ancient image in the Serapium at Alexandria was suspended by magnetic force. Augustine, who, however, names no particular temple, expresses himself as if the question was of a soaring in the air,-a legend, says Schweigger, which the Mahometans also relate of their prophet's coffin. It is not impossible, however, what Cassiodorus says, that in a temple of Diana bung an iron Cupid without being held by any band. It might be directly borne
up by a magnet fixed in the roof. Such were cases already referred to where great weights were suspended by magnets.
In connection with these passages deserves to be mentioned what is related by Plutarch of the festivals which were celebrated every nine years by the so-called Daphephorians in honour of Horus and Apollo at Thebes, where an iron ball was carried about, from which several smaller ones were suspended. Also in Thebes, in Bæotia, there was, according to Pausanias, an altar consisting of a stone, which was brought there by Hercules in his sleep. This was dedicated to Apollo, and was sought as favourable to the foretelling of future events. It has already been said that the first name of the magnet was the Herculean stone ; and the Batilene, the meteoric and soothsaying stone of the priests of Cybele, we have spoken of; and in China the magnet yet belongs to the religious sanctities, and receives divine honours. “An astonishing number of offerings," says the missionary Gutzlaff, "are brought to the magnet: a piece of red cloth is thrown over it, incense is kindled before it, and gold paper in the form of a Chinese ship is burnt.”
It is not irrelevant in this place to refer to what is said in one of Wolfart's Year-books on the magnetism of life (book ii. part 1), and of the vision of a clairvoyant, in which those iron Samothracian rings were described by an individual who certainly had before known nothing of them. “In respect to the seeress, says the relater, I observe, that this vision has by no means arisen through outward communication,--through hearing or reading. Though the patient has a good natural understanding, she could scarcely, from her former education and knowledge of life, have had opportunity to hear or see anything on these subjects."
Dr. Martius asked the seeress, whether magnetism was practised in the most ancient times before the birth of Christ, and that by the Egyptians ? After a short pause she
gave me the following reply, which she repeated for several days,“In a great sandy plain, where there is a very pure and healthy air, at some distance from a great city, I see a temple in which physicians or priests heal the sick. They are Egyptians." She then described the temple, the style of building, the eastern aspect, its internal rooms and halls. At first, she seemed to enter a splendid hall, on the ceiling of which were painted the half-moon and many stars. Then
a door conducted her to a great saloon, which was of an oval shape, like the building. Round the hall, at about a foot from the walls, stood eighteen beds or couches for the sick, or rather for the sleeping ones whom she saw on them. The mattresses on which they lay, and the pillows, were stuffed with herbs. Between each two beds, which were placed about three feet from each other, and in such a manner that two and two stood together, at such a distance that a person could go round the beds, there were placed, where the heads of the sleepers came together, according to the shape of the room, nine shining, polished, hollow iron pillars of about three inches in diameter and three feet high. These pillars were fixed firmly on triangular pedestals, which were filled with herbs; but the pillars were filled with quicksilver, and closed at the top with a round knob. (Another magnetic seeress of Bendo Bendsen, in Kieser's Archives, states quicksilver to be the most powerful auxiliary support of magnetic power.) These pillars were united to each other by chains of polished iron, so formed as to project, and the links were of a triangular form, for isolating or uniting, according as might be required. The space included within these pillars was thus fenced out by them. A chain, the links of which were of the form just described, only stronger, was then drawn round the whole space formed by the pillars. At this chain now sate the sick on each side, with the pillars at their backs, holding the chain with one hand, and in the other, by a short handle, a ball, on the top of which was a
This was also three inches in diameter, was hollow and filled with herbs. Besides this the physicians had hollow tubes of polished iron, also filled with herbs, with which they touched the affected part of the sufferers. The Egyptian statues of the servants of the temple have almost always rich staves in their hands. With balls only they touched the forehead of the sick, and especially of the sleepers. Thus they did not apply the positive electric points to the brain, exciting it, but the ball's negative electricity,—soothing or drawing from
The sick who suffered from cramps, and lay in the beds in the hall, had these attacks removed especially by touching and rubbing; as we find, by our own experience, is most effectual.
The invalids thus sitting along the chain, the priests so proceeded from each end of it, that, holding the right or left hand of each person one after the other, they thus met in the middle. With the ball they touched the chain, and shook it to increase and to speed on the magnetic effect. She saw the sleepers wrapped only in white linen dresses, and holding in their hand such balls. She saw the priests in white dresses with a girdle. She saw this treatment as a religious transaction, conducted only in the evenings, and with sleepers, and principally in the moonlight. The priests were unmarried, and chose the eldest amongst them as their chief or king, who was adorned with a crown, and provided with a staff and ball, whence, said she, probably originated the sceptre of the present day.
Two other halls adjoined the one described, in which the sick were more particularly treated. Two entrances conducted to these halls.
The number nine of the pillars had a particular signification, and had particular reference to a constellation. The clairvoyant made the excellent remark concerning this vision, that such an establishment organised by government at the national cost, for magnetic treatment on a large scale, would be a great public advantage, in which we fully agree. Thousands thereby would be saved, and the most severe ailments would often be wholly cured with the greatest ease by magnetism. She also added the remark, that in the Vatican there are many documents upon the early practice of magnetism which might probably be found on search.
Schweigger has amply shown that the old poets have especially wrapped the knowledge of the magnet and the amber in fable, and that the knowledge of the magnet and of electricity was far more extended than is generally supposed. But we find other insulated historical facts of magic action indicated in mythology which obviously accord with animal magnetism. Exactly in proportion as we learn clearly to understand the mythic language of nature through newer discoveries, and, as it were, to imitate the phenomena there described, do we perceive the truth of the sentiment that natural appearances were the foundation of myths: “Opinionum commenta delet dies, naturæ judicia confirmat” — Cicero.