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He knew the cause of every maladie,
There was in Vienna, at the period of Mesmer's entrance upon public duties, a professor of astronomy, named HEHL, who was busily engaged in curing all sorts of maladies by the use of steel plates impregnated with the essence of loadstone. Mesmer, who was himself a believer in the curative powers of the magnet, availed himself of Hehl's apparatus, for the purpose of exhibiting the remedy according to his own notions of propriety; and the use of the new formula in his hands was attended by the most extraordinary suc
“ Two of a trade can never agree"—the jealousy of the astronomer involved him in a quarrel with the physician; the former was the better tactician, and in the end Hehl and his myrmidons drove Mesmer out of Vienna. Scotched but not killed, Mesmer wended his way towards France, scattering blessings on the road; and in the year 1778 he established himself in the more genial atmosphere of Paris. There he was soon surrounded by crowds of patients; the happiest results again followed his manipulations, and he conciliated the gratitude of multitudes; but his popularity excited the envy of some of the less worthy members of the medical profession, and Deslon with some of his confrères broke in upon the grounds which Mesmer had cultivated with indefatigable assiduity and consummate skill, and carried away the crop. Bitterly disappointed, Mesmer applied to the ruling powers for compensation, and he succeeded in obtaining the patronage of the Queen, and the promise of an annuity of thirty thousand francs, on condition that his processes should be submitted to the examination of three persons named by the government; he however suddenly left Paris, and went to Spa, and thither he was followed by a host of patients of rank and fortune. At Spa he soon amassed a sum of money sufficiently large to enable him to return to Paris, and recommence his professional career in a becoming style ; but the formation of a society for the gratuitous propagation of his principles contracted the
sphere of his usefulness, and he withdrew from “ the madding crowd” and the public walks of life, and retired to “the coot sequestered vale"-the place of his nativity. Thus genius rose
“ And shot a day-spring into distant climes
Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main,
The discovery_according to Mesmer's own account of it-introduced " an universal method of healing and preserving mankind." The active principle he represented as “ a fluid universally diffused. It perfects the action of medicines; it excites and directs salutary crises in such a manner that the physician may render himself master of them; by its means he knows the state of health of each individual, and judges with certainty of the origin, the nature, and the progress of the most complicated diseases” This fluid is “ the medium of a mutual influence between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and animated bodies; it is continuous, so as to leave no void; its subtilty admits of no comparison; it is capable of receiving, propagating, and communicating all the impressions of motion ; it is susceptible of flux and of reflux. The animal body experiences the effects of this agent; by insinuating itself into the substance of the nerves it affects them immediately. This action takes place at a remote distance without the aid of any intermediate body; it is increased and reflected by mirrors ; communicated, propagated, and augmented by sound; its virtues may be accumulated, concentrated, and passed from body to body.” But “ although this fluid is universal, all animal bodies are not equally susceptible of it; there are even some, though a very small number, which have properties so opposite, that their very presence destroys all the effects of it on other bodies.” The most susceptible subjects, in the opinion of a writer in the Phreno-magnet, are those who have “ a temperament composed of about three parts nervous, and one bilious ;” according to another authority, women are incomparably more susceptible of the magnetic influence than men."
Some years ago, an ingenious individual, named Perkins, devised
an instrument which he called the Metallic Tractor, and for which he obtained patent rights, for the purpose of collecting the fluid and applying it to the body; these instruments caused great temporary excitement, but fell into desuetude in consequence of the discovery by Dr. Falconer, that tractors of wood were quite as efficacious as tractors of metal. This circumstance was regarded by many as affording sufficient grounds for the rejection of the entire system ; but, in point of fact, the intervention of wooden media—such are the peculiar properties of the fluid—is in no way incompatible with the successful administration of the power. There exists some difference of opinion among professors on the subject of this fluid; but its real existence has lately been demonstrated by Messieurs Thirlorier and Lafontaine. In a recent number of the Gazette des Hôpitaux it is stated that these gentlemen “ have at length discovered the third imponderable fluid, so long and vainly sought after by others, and have proved its existence by making passes at the Galvanometer;" while in Kent it has actually been seen in the semblance of a lambent blue flame;
“ Oh that the chemist's magic art
Could crystallize this sacred treasure !"
In England the science is now advancing, in the face of sturdy opposition, with mighty strides ; in the words of the editor of the Phreno-magnet, it is “ becoming respectable, and will ere long, no doubt, be fashionable;" its present “ dignified position” is attributed, by another public character, to the “ exertions of the phrenologists." The Phreno-mesmerists do indeed appear to have fallen upon a rich vein; for although their works hitherto can scarcely be said to be carried below the superficies, yet they are daily astonishing the world by the display of their great and increasing riches. The Magnetists must not however, as a school, be confounded with the Phrenologists; many receive the dogmas of Gall who reject those of Mesmer; and many, again, admit the value of Gall's anatomical discoveries who regard his mental system as delusive. As a whole, Mesmerism still presents many moot cases, many knotty points ; there are yet many depths to be sounded, many mysteries to be un
veiled; but, trampling upon difficulties, its course is still onward. “ In Mesmer's tub there lay a mighty science in its cradle"-what may we not expect when the infant becomes a man?
“ Most things hae a sma' beginning,
But wha kens how things will end ?"
In his search among the authorities for illustrations of the general truth of his own representations, the writer met with many narratives of philosophical phenomena and mesmeric facts, which displayed the wonders of modern science in vastly more vivid lights than any of those in which he had endeavoured to exhibit them ; brief notices of a few of the more striking of these narratives will be found in the sequel. The historical facts involved in the Cases in Point may fail to annihilate dogged scepticism, but they will not fail, it is presumed, to excite deep thought in the minds of all unprejudiced readers ; and to the extent that they do this will they have a tendency to subserve the cause of true philosophy—of the liberal sciences and the useful arts.