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their exertions; and, in a short time after they began to co-operate, a royal ordinance appeared, directing that two commissions of inquiry should be forthwith appointed by the medical faculty. This ordinance bears the date of the 12th of March, 1784. The commissions consisted, the one of the members of the Academy of Sciences, the other of the members of the Society of Physicians. Both investigated the subject minutely, and were decisive and nearly unanimous in their declaration, that animal magnetism was altogether unworthy of credit.
Notwithstanding the high authority of the commissioners, there were many individuals, of great sagacity and learning, who differed altogether from the tenor of the unfavourable report. Jussieu, the celebrated naturalist, was one of these. This distinguished man had been originally appointed as one of the commissioners; he examined the question with his colleagues, and came to a very different conclusion from them on the merits of animal magnetism. Instead, therefore, of signing the report, which condemned the new art, Jussieu declined to do so, and published a full account of his own sincere impressions. In this condition animal magnetism has remained up to a very recent period, still scoffed at by the learned, still practised partly in secresy by a few intrepid men. In England, we scarcely know any thing of the art, except historically, and then it is called to our recollection by the term Mesmerism. It is only a few years back that Mr. Chenevix attempted to introduce the practice into these countries ; but, though what may be regarded as a fair trial was granted him, still no other general effect was produced than that of increasing the contempt in which Mesmerism was previously held. Nevertheless, it is a very curious fact, that in the chief countries of Europe, now and then some individual, fully entitled to the character of a philosopher, was to be met with, who looked upon the principle of animal magnetism as one full of promise. Indeed, it is impossible for one who is well informed in ancient and modern history, not to feel that he has no right to be incredulous when he hears an account of any phenumena which may have been produced by violent moral emotions. In Greece, the Delphic Oracles were universally respected ; and the moral feelings of human nature have been at all times made a convenient medium for acting on the physical powers. The testimonies in fact are abundant, which prove the influence of the imagination over the judgment. Hence it is, that those persons who are eminent for their knowledge of human character, have ever been most prone to treat every suggestion connected with the phenomena of life with great attention, and it is to this cause that we attribute the indulgence which has been so frequently granted to Mesmer and his doctrines by individuals apparently the most opposed to him in sincerity and good sense. To such a pitch have men of discernment lately carried this indulgence, this willingness to be persuaded, that, at the very moment in which we write, there exists in Berlin a “ magnetic Clinic,” in which the practice is permanently established. In short, this general feeling, particularly in France, has been attended with some practical results, which are likely to prove important to the best interests of mankind. In the kingdom just mentioned, so late as the year 1826, the experience of the good effects of animal magnetism was so very striking, that a proposal for a fresh inquiry into its merits was unhesitatingly adopted by the French Academy of Science. A young physician, named Foissac, who had witnessed the effects of the practice, made a distinct proposition to the Academy, when a commission was appointed, consisting of the following members :Messrs. Bourdois, Double, Itard, Gueneau de Hussy, Guersent, Fouquier, Laennec, Lerous, Magendie, Marc, and Thillaye. The commission commenced its labours in 1826, and only made its report in June, 1831, when its contents gave rise to an extraordinary sensation, and ultimately to a long discussion. The report forms one of the most curious documents which was ever submitted to the world ; it contains the results of examinations and experiments which appear to have been undertaken and conducted with the severest caution and circumspection ; and, from the first to the last line, exhibits a spirit of uncompromising preference for truth, which at once commands our confidence and admiration.
The experience of the commissioners, it appears, was of a very various nature, so as to allow them to class the total results under four distinct heads. The first comprehends all those cases in which the magnetism had no effect at all; in the second class are included those in which the effect was very slight indeed; the third class is made up of cases where the effects that were produced might be attributed to other causes than magnetism, such as ennui, whilst the last class consisted only of such cases as presented circumstances to justify the conclusion that the effects could only arise from magnetism. As an example of the first class, the member of the commission who drew up the report, stated that he himself had submitted to the operation with the determination of · experiencing its effects, both in health and during illness, but he experienced no change whatever. The persons belonging to the second class experienced always a sensation of some change taking place, both in the pulse and in the breathing; a sense of coldness in the fingers which were touched by the magnetiser; a disposition to sleep, a slight heat in the stomach, and sometimes a moderation of slight disorders, whenever these existed.
The third class of cases were those principally of an order of persons evidently of very strong imaginations. It is a proof of the impartiality with which the experiments were carried on, that the commissioners used many legitimate subterfuges, in order to test the real efficacy of the magnetic power. Thus it was that the magnetiser placed himself behind one of the patients in the third class, affecting, for aught she believed, to be going on with the operation. In fact, he was merely in pretence; but still the
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patient showed the same tendency to sleep as during the operation itself. Before we proceed to the details of the wonders which are unfolded under the fourth head, we deem it convenient, with the view of rendering the account intelligible, that we should explain the nature of the operation itself.
Mesmer, who certainly laid the foundation of the modern art, was in the habit of operating not only by actual contact of his hands with the patient, but by means also of a long rod of iron, which he held at some distance from his body. One of his principal methods was to convey the fluid (for he represented the acting principle to be in that form) by cords, either from magenetised trees, or out of covered vessels, to his patients, and was in this manner able to throw them into a condition, in which they could not be said to be either awake or asleep. In his most palmy days, however, this skilful conjurer was enabled to save himself an immensity of trouble ; for one glance of his eye was quite enough very commonly to rivet the subdued patient in a profound slumber. He always operated, except in case he employed the magnetised trees, in a chamber darkened to a sort of partial light resembling twilight. The chamber was lined with mirrors; and the place, on occasions when the operation was going on, became a wilderness of solemn silence, which was broken only by the liquid sounds of an Armonica, of which Mesmer was a perfect master. Many improvements of this plan have since taken place; and the best mode of practice, as now adopted in Paris, is fully described by Mr. Colquhoun.
The magnetiser has two ways of operating ; that by his hands in contact with the patient, called manipulation, and that in which he uses certain media of intercommunication with the patient. In the process by manipulation, the author says, that the usual practice is to move the hand, the palm and fingers being on some part of the patient, in one direction downwards, from the head to the feet. Then the operator is to return, throwing the hands round in a semicircle, turning the palms outwards, in order that the effect of the direct or downward stroke of the hand may not be disturbed. It would appear, from the cautions of all experienced magnetisers, that it is contrary to all the laws of this great remedy to attempt to direct the hand in a course contrary to that which was first selected ; so that bringing the hands up direct from the feet to the head, after they had been brought down from the head to the feet, would neutralise all the efficacy of the first friction. Mr. Colquhoun goes on to say,–
If we attempt to operate with the back of the hand, no effect whatever will probably be produced upon the patient. If, in the course of this process, the hands or fingers of the operator are made actually to touch the body of the patient, it is called manipulation with contact. If, on the contrary, the operation is conducted at some distance, it is called manipulation in distans,
The manipulation with contact is of two kinds. It is accompanied either with considerable pressure, or with light touching; manipulation with strong, or with light contact. The manipulation with strong contact is certainly the most ancient, and the most universally prevalent mode of operating, and traces of it are to be found in almost all ages and countries. In manipulating with light contact, the hand, indeed, is conducted very lightly along the body of the patient; but the magnetizer must perform this operation with the utmost energy, and always have the desire of applying strong pressure to the body of the patient.
The manipulation in distans, is applied at a distance of from generally two to six inches from the patient's body. In the case of very susceptible persons, it is performed at a still greater distance. The effects of this mode of manipulating are less intense than those produced by actual contact, and, besides, it requires a greater energy of volition on the part of the magnetizer. It is, however, frequently employed in magnetizing very irritable patients, who cannot endure any stronger method.
It would be tedious to enumerate and describe all the various kinds of manipulation detailed in elementary works on this subject. They may all of them, however, be combined, according to the skill and judgment of the magnetizer, who will vary his modes according to the effects produced, and the degree of sensibility evinced by the patient.— pp. 80–82.
Kluge, professor of Berlin, who has had ample experience in the practice of magnetism, and who, we believe, is chiefly followed in Germany, lays down the following plan of proceeding :
Before commencing the magnetic manipulations, it is necessary that both the magnetizer and the patient should be conveniently placed, in order that the former may be enabled to perform his operations, and the latter prepared for the expected crisis of sleep. A semi-recumbent posture of the patient is, upon the whole, the most convenient, the body being, at the same time, so far bent, that the operator can reach, without difficulty, from the crown of the head to the toes. Should the patient be unable to leave his bed, we must endeavour to place him in a properly bended position, by means of pillows. It is not necessary that the patient should be completely undressed, only no silk covering should be allowed to intervene. The best situation, perhaps, in which a magnetic patient can he placed, is in an easy arm-chair, with his hands resting on the arms, his feet upon a foot-stool, and his knees bent somewhat forward. The magnetizer then places himself upon a common chair, opposite to the patient, and so near as to be able to enclose his knees within his own, but without designedly touching them. The magnetizer then proceeds to the manipulations, which are distinguished into the preparatory and effective. The preparatory manipulations are then performed in the following manner :
The operator lays hold of the shoulders of the patient with both his hands, in such a manner that the balls of his thumbs are placed in the arm-pits, and the other fingers rest upon the shoulders. In this position he continues for a few seconds, excites in himself the intention of pressing the shoulders together, and then laying hold of the upper part of the arms, glides down to the elbow, tarries there a little, and then proceeds down to the hands, where he applies the points of his thumbs to those of his patient, and allows the remaining fingers to rest upon the back of the patient's hands. He then returns by means of the dorsal manipulation (i. e. the hands being thrown round in a semicircle, in the manner already described) to the shoulders, and repeats the same operation two or three times; after which he commences the effective manipulations, of which a general description has already been given.-pp. 83, 84.
We need not give an account of the method by which the commissioners had their experiments performed in the different places to which they were allowed to have access. At all events, there is ample testimony in the report that they used the utmost diligence, caution, and care ; and it is impossible for any reasonable and impartial man who reads their most candid narrative, to doubt for a moment that he himself would have drawn exactly the same conclusions as they did were he placed in the same circumstances. There are many facts in the report to prove the truth of the character which we have given to the commission. In the first place the members of the commission were induced to begin their labours by examining the case of a somnambulist who was presented to them by Dr. Foissac, the individual who challenged the inquiry, and who seemed to set the fate of magnetism upon the evidence which this case would furnish. But it turred out a sad failure, for the woman presented no more than a few physiological phenomena, and she was so fatigued by the questions of the commissioners, that she begged to be allowed to discontinue the exhibition. The committee, after doing all that it was possible for men to accomplish in order to obtain facilities for carrying on their important inquiries, either finding no proper cases in the hospitals, or being refused the opportunity of experimenting in them, found that they had no other resource than to appeal to all the physicians who had either sanctioned the practice or themselves practiced magnetism. Their appeal was heard, and several of this class of practitioners came forward with patients. The reporter pauses at this statement to apprize us, that in no case did the commissioners intrust to any but their own members the task of directing the experiments, or noting down the proceedings; he says that they uniformly directed the modes of experimenting, the plan of inquiring, and the course that was to be pursued, with the exception of the single case of the celebrated Cloquet, whose veracity was not to be doubted, and whose statement, therefore, they with implicit credit received.
We have already shown that some of the cases were failures, and that it was not until we came to the fourth class of patients in the ; reporter's arrangement that we met with any manifestations of the magnetic effect which could be regarded as unequivocal. We therefore proceed at once to those cases, giving the reader fair warning that he will be called on for a very considerable share of fortitude to risk all the dangers by which his credulity is about to be assailed. Cases are given in numbers, of which the members of