BLTC Press Titles

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Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

An history of magic, witchcraft, and animal magnetism

by John Campbell Colquhoun


After mentioning the answers of the clairvoyant to some other profound questions, Dr Mayo proceeds :—" My friend then put into the hand of M. Alexis my note, and asked him if he could tell any thing about the writer ? M. Alexis said, ' The writer is bald, short in stature; something above fifty years of age; has lost the use of his legs; he is in bed ; he has a very active mind ; he is a physician.'—Each shot hit the mark. ' He lives on the sea-coast;'—This my friend denied.— ' No,' said M. Alexis on reflection, ' it is not the sea, but a river. He lives on the banks of the Rhine, about twenty leagues from Frankfort.'— The bull's eye again."

We might refer to a considerable number of additional instances of the manifestation of similar phenomena to those exhibited by M. Alexis, as described by Dr Mayo. We shall adduce only the following, which was observed by M. Van Ghert, and related in his work entitled: " Mnemosyne ; or a Collection of Remarkable Cases of Animal Magnetism ; " which was published at Amsterdam in the year 1815.

The patient was a young man, who possessed an extraordinary acuteness in discovering (or, rather, in feeling) the diseases of other persons. This gift was manifested not only when the patient placed his hand in that of the clairvoyant, but even when clothes were sent to him which had been worn for some days on the body, placed immediately in a silken wrapper, sent to him, and felt with the points of his fingers. The following instance, which took place in the presence of several unexceptionable witnesses, male and female, is demonstrative of the fact.

During one sitting, an article of the description mentioned was sent from a female patient, whose person and disease were equally unknown to the clairvoyant, and to all the individuals present. Having felt the cloth for some time, the patient said: " It belongs to a female."—This was correct. " She is about 48 years old."—Right. " Her disease is in the stomach."— Right again. " She has an aversion to food, because it excites sickness and vomiting." —This was exactly the case. " Her sight is weak, and, for some time, she has been obliged to use glasses."—She had done so for some months. "All the medicines she takes produce no good effect upon her."—Such was the case. When asked whether her disease could be cured, he said : " Yes, but not without employing Magnetism ; " and he added: "At this moment, the lady is suffering from headache above both eyes, but nowhere else." We immediately caused this to be investigated, and found it true.

"I am not quite sure," he continued, "but it appears to me that the lady has a stiff finger in her right hand." He was quite right: The thumb of the right hand had been broken, and, in consequence, became stiff.

Dr Mayo afterwards very properly observes, "that the entranced person is probably always liable to mislead you, either through his view being at that time accidentally obscured; or through the influence of preconceived notions on his mind; or through the thoughts of others who are at present influencing him. And an observer must always be on his guard against these unintentional sources of error, as well as against premeditated deception." This is a caution worthy of being more strictly observed by careless, and perhaps sceptical experimentalists.

According to Dr Mayo, " it is easy theoretically to explain the beneficial results which follow from the daily induction of trance for an hour or so, in various forms of disorder of the nervous system— in epilepsy—in the tic doleureux—in nervous palsy, and the like. As long as the state of trance is maintained, so long is the nervous system in a state of repose. It is more or less completely put out of gear. It experiences the same relief which a sprained joint feels, when you dispose it, in a relaxed position, on a pillow. A chance is thus given to the strained nerves of recovering their tone of health. And it is wonderful how many cases of nervous disorder get well at once through these simple means. As it is certain that there is no disease in which the nervous system is not primarily or secondarily implicated, it is impossible to foresee what will prove the limit to the beneficial application of Mesmerism in medical practice."

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