BLTC Press Titles

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The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Animal magnetism

by Unknown


J. Haddon. Casile-strwl, Finsburjr.


Mesmerism, or as it is more pertinently termed " Animal Magnetism," is at present but a doubtful speculation. The statements which have been made by its advocates, respecting the nature and effects of their newly discovered agency, are for the most part so irreconcileable with all the known laws of the human organization, and partake so much of the purely marvellous, as to have called forth every species of ridicule and abuse. Having, however, obtained the unswerving testimony and support of men of acknowledged wisdom and probity, and having been again and again subjected to apparent demonstration before the eyes of many witnesses, they have, in defiance of Herculean hostilities, at length elicited a large share of popular interest in this country; and, amidst conflicting opinions, each inquirer is anxious to form his own, as to whether animal magnetism is a matter of fact or fallacy. The object of this little work is to afford to the general reader, more particularly, the means, as far as they have as yet been supplied, by which such a conclusion may be arrived at.

It may here be right to state, that the writer is not prepared to receive as facts all the statements, nor to assent to, " as proven," all the doctrines which Mesmerists have promulgated ; not from a disinclination to reject in general whatever is seemingly incompatible, or even at variance with past experience, but because, in their zeal for their subject, Mesmerists appear in its support to have united with more worthy evidence, first, some facts which though genuine, are extraneous to it; and, secondly, others which have had no foundation, but in the brains of sagacious impostors and wits, or in the imaginations of weak-minded persons, fanatics, and idiots. The alleged effects of the Mesmeric fluid are so strikingly analogous to some forms under which functional disorders of the nervous system display themselves, as to make it in the highest degree probable that some phenomena which have been attributed to the former, have in reality belonged to the latter class; and indeed, a careful scrutiny of the authorized experiments leaves no (loul)t of this source of fallacy, in the minds of those who are practically acquainted with the Protean vagaries of hysterical attacks and reveries.

It is the amount of mystery with which truth, when first detected, is naturally and afterwards artificially surrounded, that renders its separation, like fine gold from the ore, a process of so much difficulty ; hut for the toil, however severe, the smallest quantity, if it be but as " three grains of wheat in a bushel of chaff," will prove an ample reward.

All great discoveries have been in advance of the age which saw their dawning; and philosophy has never been more unworthy of its name, than when, as in many instances, it has arrayed itself in hostility against a new because startling doctrine. The successful pioneers in scientific discovery have been comparatively few, simply because the amount of moral courage essential to the formation of such a character has been rarely engaged in combination with a due proportion of the higher faculties of the mind. Entering upon his purpose, such an one has not only to encounter and dissipate the almost impenetrable shadows which surround unrevealed truth, but to contend with a fearful and well-nigh overwhelming phalanx of mental, and sometimes bodily persecution, from those who, with himself, are confessedly the lovers and followers of science ; against which nothing but the rescources of the most indomitable fortitude, and an almost superstitious conviction of truth can prevail. History is too well stored with such (alas ! unheeded) instances; and the lives of Copernicus, Galileo, Harvey and others, martyrs of science, need not be resorted to for a confirmation of the fact. The wreaths that should have adorned thi'ir brows have yet to be gathered around their biers; and it is the glory of succeeding ages to recompense injured worth with the just meed of an honourable immortality.

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