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poraries, he was supposed to mean that, in subsequent periods, Magic would be openly and successfully practised; and it is not a little to the credit of his discernment, that he so well calculated the probable limits of scientific acquirement. In former days, had any writer affirmed that in the course of half a century, it would become possible to go from London to Bristol in one hour, he would have been almost universally disbelieved; but if his learning and wisdom, in other respects, had haply occasioned any one to give credit to him in this, the difficulty would only have been solved by supposing the aid of infernal agency. Now, although

one has as yet witnessed so rapid a rate of travelling, we are by no means unwilling to believe, when told of its probable future accomplishment. There is one sense, then, in which we must always acknowledge “ occult causes,” and “occult properties," although we no longer call them by names so mystical as of yore. Medicines are administered every day, although we cannot even guess the mode of their operation. We have a tolerable idea of the probable result, and with this, very probably, we must for ever be contented. We can hardly say what is and what is not beyond the bounds of human investigation : but if we consider the extreme difficulty which invests many subjects

such, for example, as the effect of volition upon the nerves, and through them upon the muscles; the nature of animal life, and many others which might be instanced, we shall hardly expect even an approximation to a true theory of these things.

These considerations, whilst they prevent us from

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regarding with contempt the superstitions from which the philosophers of the Middle Ages were never entirely free, cannot fairly be adduced to excuse the same notions in the present day. But we are not therefore entitled, when any claims of the kind are set up, to treat those who assert them either as enthusiasts or impostors. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have produced their wonder-workers in what would have been called of old Medical Magic; and the most curious instance on record, perhaps, in the history of the world is Animal Magnetism. The effects which were certainly wrought by the animal Magnetisers, the number and importance of those who avowed their belief in the system, and the length of time. during which it flourished, make it well worthy of consideration.

The virtues of the loadstone had been greatly extolled by the ancients; it had even been declared possessed of a rational soul, and capable of great moral agencies over the human constitution. Probably, on account of its attracting iron, it was supposed to be endowed with a general power of attraction; and it was hence used to heal dissensions in families, to excite love, and to promote friendship. In a case like this, and in an age like that of which we speak, any analogy, however slight, was a sufficient foundation for a belief in such qualities; they could not be too absurd to be credited, and if a cause was asked, the “occult properties of Nature" was an answer always ready and always satisfactory. Many of these notions came down to later times. Paracelsus, in his “ Archidoxorum,” gives such a list of remedies as may match even those of Pliny ; but


when he speaks of the loadstone, he becomes, if not very correct, at least not unreasonable. Trusting to its power of attracting iron, he orders it to be reduced to a powder, and applied in the shape of a plaster to wounds, in order to draw out the particles of iron which might by abrasion remain in the flesh. The idea that this remedy was an effective one was so strong, that, though Dr. Gilbert of Colchester wrote expressly against it so far back as A. D. 1600, demonstrating that by being pulverized it was deprived of its attractive force, it continued in vogue for upwards of a hundred years later, and is not, among the uneducated classes, altogether discontinued in the present day. Paracelsus had so high an opinion of the medical virtues lodged in the magnet, that there were few diseases which he considered would not yield to its attractive


and those few were soon added by Van Helmont and his other disciples. It seems singular that they did not congratulate themselves upon having, in this mineral, obtained the elixir of life. The science of magnetism had by this time begun to excite the attention of the philosophical world; and those remarkable facts which it developed and which were already ascertained, presented a basis sufficiently broad for the erection of many fanciful and ingenious theories. The idea was soon caught that Magnetism was a subtle, invisible fluid, passing through the whole Universe, and which, though only as yet known through the medium of the loadstone and iron, was yet existing and operating in every other substance.

other substance. Kircher entertained this opinion, and distinguishes accordingly between animal, vegetable, and mineral Magnetism. As, however, the loadstone was the only substance known through which any magnetic experiments could be made, physicians were obliged to exhibit mineral Magnetism alone in cases of disease, trusting to the sameness of the fluid and the gentleness of its operation in this state.

M. le Noble, a French ecclesiastic, obtained great celebrity, in 1775, from his mode of applying the magnet in cases of nervous and spasmodic affections, particularly in tic douloureux. His plan was to cause powerful but light magnets to be worn in the dress, near the parts disordered ; as, for instance, in caps, for nervous headache. His success being noticed he was induced to apply in 1777 to the Royal Society of Medicine in Paris, and to request that a committee appointed by that body would examine the virtues of his magnetic dresses. The request was complied with. M. Andry and M. Thouret were appointed as a committee, and after a long and patient investigation, delivered a report greatly in favor of the plan pursued by M. le Noble.

While this was going on in Paris, a Jesuit at Vienna had made use of magnetised steel plates, in medical cases, with considerable success. whose name was Hell, appears to have been somewhat of an empiric, if not wholly so; for he attributed the success which he obtained, not so much to the magnetic fluid as to the peculiar shape of his plates. Among those who witnessed his practice, and, in fact, assisted in it, was Anton Mesmer, who had taken his degree of M.D. at the University of Vienna at the age of thirty-two, and who had commenced his medical career by writing a trea

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tise “ On the Influence of the Planets on the Human Body.” This, which shows the nature of Mesmer's studies, may be regarded as a first step towards those doctrines which he subsequently maintained. Mesmer employed the plates which Hell had made; and having performed some remarkable cures he attributed them to his mode of employing the plates, and to the magnetic fluid which they contained. Hell published the results of Mesmer's experiments, but gave only as a cause the form which he had himself devised for the plates. Mesmer replied and Hell rejoined ; and as notoriety appears to have been Mesmer's aim, he was not much disappointed when the victory was declared to be Hell's.

While this dispute continued, Mesmer was always writing and talking about his pretended discoveries. Had Mesmer been a truly philosophical inquirer he would have been pronounced on the very verge of an important discovery, so singular are of his assertions. “ I have observed,” says he, " that the magnetic matter is almost the same as the electric fluid, and that it may be propagated in the same manner as this by means of intermediate bodies.” It has been suspected in our own day, and, indeed, more than suspected, that magnetism and electricity are, in fact, one and the same fluid seen under different circumstances, 1 But the character of Mesmer forbids us to suppose that his remark was more than a chance illustration; the very next words destroy the illusion ; “ Steel is not the only substance adapted for the purpose; I have



| See Prof. Barlow's paper “On the probable Electric Origin of all the Phenomena of Terrestrial Magnetism,” Phil. Trans. 1831.

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