|III||IMMATERIALITY OF THE SOUL|
|V||ORIGIN OF KNOWLEDGE|
|VI||DREAMS AND THEIR CAUSES|
|IX||CONCLUSIVE PROOF AGAINST THE FLUID THEORY|
|XII||MIND ACTING UPON MIND|
What are primary truths? According to Mr. Stewart:
"They are such and such only, as can neither be proved nor refuted by other propositions of greater perspicuity. They are self-evident; not borrowing the powers of reasoning to shed light upon themselves."
We are naturally inclined to consider the reality of our personal existence. That we exist is the great basis upon which we build everything. It is the foundation of all knowledge. Without self-existence nothing could result in the progress of the understanding.
If any man questions the fact of his own existence, that very process by which he doubts, proves to a demonstration, that an existing, doubting power must have been precedent, must have had a creation. The first internal thought is immediately followed with an undoubting conviction of personal self-existence.*
It is a primary truth in nature, and requires no further explanation.
Another primary truth is personal identity.
This is the knowledge of ourselves; the identifying of ourselves with our self-existence. We know that we exist, and in that existence we recognize our personality.
Man is composed of matter and mind, by some mysterious combination united; and we may divide our identity into mental and bodily.
Mental identity is the continuance and oneness of the thinking and reasoning principle. It is not divisible in length, breadth and dimensions composed of particles etc. like matter, nor does it change or cease to exist. It remains as it was originally with all its eternal powers its eternal principles.
Bodily identity is the sameness of the bodily organization the man in figure, as we behold him with our natural eyes. The particles of matter of which the body is composed may change; but its shape and structure and its physical creation are the same.
Professor Upham, in his work on Intellectual Philosophy, in reference to this subject, uses the following language:
"It was a saying of Seneca, that no man bathes twice in the same river; and still we call it the same, although the water within its banks is constantly passing away, and in like manner, we identify the human body, although it constantly changes."
Personal identity, then, comprehends the man as we behold him, in his bodily and mental nature, mysteriously and wonderfully made!
The old soldier, who has fought the battles of his country in the days of the American Revolution, will recount his deeds of valor and his heroic sufferings to his youthful listeners, not doubting, that he is really the same old soldier, who was in his country's service some sixty years since.
The early settlers of our country, as they look abroad over the cultivated plain, never doubt, that they are really the same individuals, who some forty years felled the trees of the forest and turned the wilderness into a fruitful garden!
So is man constituted, that his own identity is one of the first primary truths.
We are so constituted that we believe, or rather there seems to be an authoritative principle within us of giving confidence or credence to certain propositions and truths, which are presented to our minds. Among the first things which the mind admits is that there is no beginning or change without a cause, that nothing could not create something. When any new principle is discovered, man immediately seeks out the cause, looks for some moving power, as though it could not be self-creative and self-acting.
In contemplating the material universe, in beholding the beautiful planetary system, the sun, the moon and the stars regulated and controlled by undeviating laws, who does not say, these are the results of some mighty creative intelligence! That the power of their existences and harmonious motions was originated beyond themselves. Thus it is that we attribute to every effect a cause to every result a motive power. Matter and mind have uniform, undeviating and fixed laws. And they are always subject to and controlled by them. We are not to suppose otherwise, unless we give up our belief that any object is governed or directed. Yet we are not to suppose that the same laws apply both to matter and mind. Each has its peculiar governing principle, and in as much as mind, in its nature, deviates from matter, so may its laws deviate.
We all believe that the earth will continue to revolve on its axis and perform its annual orbit around the sun, that summer and winter, seed-time and harvest will continue to succeed each other, "that the decaying plants of autumn will revive again in spring." This belief does not arise in the mind at once; but has its origin now in one instance and then in another, until it becomes universal.
It is a conceded principle that mind does not possess, or rather we fail to detect, the same qualities in mind as in matter.
No sect of philosophers, I believe, have ever pretended that mind is distinguished by extension, divisibility, impenetrability, color, etc.; and therefore, most have agreed to use immateriality, as applied to the soul, in distinction from materiality, as applied to the body; that the soul is destitute of those qualities which appear in matter, having its own peculiar attributes, such as thought, feeling, remembrance and passion.
The mind, as it exists in man and develops itself through the bodily organs, no doubt has a close connection with matter, the physical system, and particularly the brain.
Yet we are not to suppose that mind is dependent for its existence upon the organs of the body; nor is it subject to the control of matter, although influenced and impressed by it.
Mind, rather, exercises a direction to matter, producing certain results.
If mind was any portion of the materiality of the body, a destruction of any portion of this would destroy a portion of that.
But this is not the fact.
Individuals, deprived of some of their limbs, do not exhibit any degree of loss of mind. . . . How often has it appeared far more active and energetic, in the last moments of dissolving nature, than when the physical powers were in full health and vigor!
Men upon the battlefield, mutilated and wounded and suffering the most intense pain have displayed, amid all this disaster of the body, the highest powers of intellectual action.
So that, although mind to us appears at first view to have an inseparable connection with the body; yet for its energies, its full, unqualified powers of action do not rely upon bodily health and vigor.
The works of genius, as displayed in the various branches of science, literature and law, bear the character of a higher order of creation than matter.
Memory and imagination do not appear to have resulted from ponderous substances.
The powers of judgment and reasoning must have originated in something higher and nobler than divisible bodies.
To what cause can you attribute the origin and perfection of the demonstrations of Euclid? What constituted the authorship of the wise laws of Solon and the political institutions of Lycurgus, and those of modern Europe, and the greatest concentration of wisdom ever embodied into one human work — I mean the American Constitution?
What gave almost intellectual inspiration to the Iliad and Odyssey? What gave birth to the wonderful productions of Tasso and Spencer and Milton?
Where shall we look for the origin of the Philippics of the ancients, or in more modern days, for the speeches of a Fox and the orations of a Webster?
Where human genius has wrought its highest triumphs and achieved transcendent greatness, who can say its creative cause, its fountain light, is in powerless and inert matter!
To ascribe the qualities of matter to the soul would erase forever the idea of a future and eternal existence.
But we have no direct evidence of the soul's dissolution and discontinuance at death. The death of the body is only the removal of the soul's sphere of action from our natural view and no doubt gives a larger world of spiritual action in its new destination.
And have we not every reason to suppose that the soul will exist, after the dissolution of the body?
Death, in the language of Dr. Stewart:
"Only lifts the veil, which conceals from our eyes the invisible world. It annihilates the material universe to our senses and prepares our minds for some new and unknown state of being."
We have already stated that belief is a simple state of the mind and, consequently, cannot be made plainer by any process of reasoning.
It is always the same in its nature, although it admits of different degrees, which we express in the language of presumption, probability and certainty, etc.
It is on the principle of belief that the mind is operated upon in the various exhibitions of its power.
For without confidence, what can we accomplish?
Without a belief in our ability to accomplish, what would be the result?
It is a principle which comes into every department of reasoning, and testimony is only so operative upon the mind as it affects our belief.
Those who style themselves philosophers and have written upon the subject of the mind have always considered the soul as constituting a nature which is one and indivisible; yet for the purpose of more fully understanding its various stages of action, they have given it three parts or views in which it may be contemplated, expressed in the Intellect, Sensibilities and the Will; or the intellectual, sensitive and voluntary states of the mind.
We find in different languages terms expressive of these three states. Different authors, in works not written expressly upon the subject of the mind, have adopted these modes of expressing its action.
The popular author of "Literary Hours" [Nathan Drake] has given in one of his works an interesting biographical sketch of Sir Robert Steele. After referring to his repeated seasons of riot and revelry, of his determinations and repentances, etc., he thus describes him,
"His misfortune, the cause of all his errors, was not to have clearly seen where his deficiencies lay; they were neither of the head nor of the heart, but of the volition. He possessed the wish, but not the power of volition to carry his purposes into execution."
It has been remarked of Burns, that the force of that remarkable poet lay in the power of his understanding and the sensibilities of his heart.
Dr. Currie, in his life of Burns, makes use of the following language:
"He knew his own failings and predicted their consequences; these melancholy forebodings were not long absent from his mind; yet his passions carried him down the stream of error and swept him over the precipice he saw directly in his course. The fatal defect of his character lay in the comparative weakness of his volition; which governing the conduct according to the dictates of the understanding, entitles it to be denominated rational."
Professor Upham, in his philosophy, informs us of a celebrated writer, who in giving directions to his son as to the manner of conducting with foreign ministers, uses the following language:
"If you engage his heart, you have a fair chance of imposing upon his understanding and determining his will."
Shakespeare, the great philosopher of the human understanding, says in the second scene of Hamlet:
"It shows a will most incorrect to heaven, a heart unfortified, an understanding simple and unschooled."
The daily observation of every individual will result in the belief of different states of the mind. We often speak of the natural operations of the mind; its natural state, etc., which is only that condition or standard nearest which a great majority of minds have resemblance. We also speak of the excited condition; the excited and deranged state. It is said with much truth that every man is blessed with some peculiarities entirely his own; that no two men are precisely alike in all respects.
Now as we deviate from the great standard (or natural state), mind becomes excited, or morbid and insane. And all these different states or different temperatures of the mind are produced from strong impressions, made under peculiar circumstances. We are susceptible of sensations; governed and controlled by them, under all circumstances. These direct all our conduct throughout the whole life.
The life of man is a succession of sensations or impressions, which induce him to act in one capacity or another. His capabilities are enlarged, as these impressions are numerous and powerful; or limited, as they are rare and light. All great minds are susceptible to the highest degree. His mind is most powerful and gigantic whose impressions are stamped upon the intellect with an indelible mark. This fact resolves the mystery of memory and explains the system of reasoning. We are the receptacles of successive impressions. Every step the mind takes in its progress of thought is marked with a new impression. Every beginning, every progress and every conclusion results in a new impression.
It is a very natural question among students to enquire how the mind acquires knowledge from external objects. We will illustrate the process in this manner. An object is presented through the senses, and the mind perceives, then is immediately impressed with the idea of that object, or receives the impression which the presentation of the object makes. This is the starting point, and the mind immediately desires to possess or reject the same, according to the character of the impression, or at least to know what constitutes the object.
Now as the mind, in this case, is dependent upon the senses to convey a knowledge of the object to itself, or rather to place itself in immediate communication with the object; its attention and action is solely directed by the impression received. To an untaught or unlearned mind, the presentation of an object would leave an impression, but it is possible that action would here cease, unless it should receive other impressions than that merely of the object. But present the same object to a well-trained mind, and it gives an impression, which is immediately followed by a successive train of impressions and ideas; giving rise to innumerable subjects of thought and contemplation. But to the untaught mind, present a second object, and a second impression is communicated, which is immediately followed by the first. Then comes a comparison or an impression of the difference of the two. And so a succession of objects presented multiplies the number of impressions which follow, in a ten-fold ratio. The principle of association, which is a successive train of impressions, is set in operation and keeps the mind ever on the stretch. Thus the mind goes on its voyage of successive thoughts, arising from the presentation of one object, or from some strong impression produced in some manner through the organs of sense.
Language is the expression of ideas or impressions, and this is, perhaps, the great source by which mind communicates with mind, through the sense of hearing. The conversation among our friends is the method, by language, of expressing ideas or impressions, which produce similar ideas and impressions upon those to whom the conversation is directed. If you describe a scene you have witnessed in some distant country, giving different lights and shades, as the impressions follow each other on your mind, bringing before another individual one grand view of the whole transaction, you give rise to impressions in the mind of your listener; which upon the principle of association, carries him back to a hundred different scenes of a similar character, each of which are associated with ten-thousand impressions, which are similar to those communicated at the place of transaction.
Two men pass an old castle. Each receives an impression from the presentation of the object. It will remind one of some old ruins of a castle which he saw a thousand miles distant and whatever transpired, or what he witnessed at the time he saw it. The other, perhaps, will be reminded of some legend or old story which he read in his boyish days, where lords and knights and ladies were made its inhabitants and visitors, about which are associated the days of chivalry and love.
How differently are these two individuals affected by the appearance of the old castle! Each mind receives the starting point from the same source, and then arise all these impressions; entirely different in their course, yet equally rapid in their succession. A succession of ideas arises according to the previous acquisitions of each mind, and these diverging trains are pursued, until another subject presents itself, which breaks up this course of thought. Then mind takes a different route and receives its new train of ideas or impressions. Here, too, it pursues its course; nor does it cease its wanderings, until it receives a stronger impression from some other external object. It then sets off again in another direction and passes rapidly over a numerous train of ideas, succeeding each other on the principle of association.
I will illustrate the manner of acquiring the first impression, by presenting an apple. It appears to the mind, or rather the mind perceives it to be, a substance; then of spherical dimensions. Here are two impressions given. If I exercise the sense of touch, I shall learn the same facts. It feels round, like itself. I convey another impression by the sense of smell. I taste of it, and here is a fourth impression. As the sight, feeling, smell and taste of the object affects me, pleasantly or unpleasantly, I am impressed to take or reject the fruit.
These are the means by which we acquire knowledge. Not in so rapid a succession as I have described, because before we can pronounce the character of any object, we must have learned a language and the different modes of expressing its appearance to those who understand the language we employ. Thus it is by testimony that we receive much of our information. At first, it is difficult to believe what we are not accustomed to witness, ourselves. Yet as the mind becomes enlightened and understands the principle upon which it is received, it yields its confidence and adopts this method of obtaining knowledge.
An individual who should be told that, upon some parts of our globe constant night prevails for a certain number of months, and upon some other parts of the same globe, constant day reigns for the same length of time, would not be very likely to believe it; unless such an anomaly could be explained upon principles which would carry conviction, by a comparison of all the knowledge he possesses upon the subject. Thus it is that mind is set in motion by the presentation of external objects. Before it is thus moved, it is a mere blank; possessing certain inherent powers which will only exhibit themselves by the exercise of some moving power.
"The mind," says Professor Upham, in his work on Mental Philosophy,
"appears at its creation to be merely an existence, involving certain principles and endowed with certain powers, but dependent for the first and original development of those principles and the exercise of those powers on the condition of an outward impression. But after it has been once brought into action, it finds new sources of thought and feeling in itself."
Having, therefore, all these inherent powers to acquire its knowledge, its knowledge is in proportion to the impressions it has received from external objects and internal operations. If you present a subject of conversation to a well-trained mind, stored with impressions or knowledge, you have started a point which sets in motion the whole ocean of mind, educated from the past, and leads to endless discussions. But should you present the same topic to an untaught or partially-disciplined mind, you would start the current of thought, it is true; but that current would soon cease, or rather could not be very extended, because the subjects of thought, or the whole amount of knowledge possessed by the individual, is limited.
I have spoken of the natural mind and the way of acquiring knowledge through the bodily senses, only. But there are other means of communication by which impressions are conveyed to the mind. If the spiritual being be independent of matter, why cannot we communicate with it, without the aid of the bodily senses? It is to this subject, I would now call your attention.
The mind, itself, obeys the laws which its Creator first laid down; and we are not to suppose any strange anomaly in its outward exhibitions is contrary to the original design. The Great Law-giver possesses all wisdom and is the fountain-head of all perfection. The mind is not a creative experiment of his; himself being ignorant of what results will follow. If these strange phenomena of the mind, which are exhibited in the different states of excitement, are exceptions to the common rule, we must attribute to the Great Mind imperfection and humanity; or a direct interposition to stay the great laws which were first given to suppress and bewilder ignorant and dependent man. But to my mind, it does not appear consistent with the wisdom of God that so extended an interference would be personally made to counteract first principles, which are displayed in this age of mesmeric light. It must be that all these strange appearances are reconcilable with eternal laws. And we are to look to these, alone, for a probable and clear solution.
The same laws govern the mind when in its natural state and susceptible of impressions through the five senses, as when in its excited and unnatural condition; or under the influence of Nervauric, Phrenomagnetic, Mesmeric or Somnambulistic influence. The only difference is this; in the method of conveying impressions to the mind. Give the impression, whether through the senses or otherwise, and the same correspondent results follow. If I make an impression upon the mind of a beautiful landscape, by pointing it out to the natural eye, it is the same as though I made the same impression upon that mind while in an excited or mesmeric state. The view is as real and pleasing in one case as in the other, to the mind that beholds it. It is as much an existence before the mind when the impression without the material object is made as when the impression with a presentation of the real landscape to the natural eye is given.
We shall here give a brief outline of what appears to be the condition of mind when in an excited or mesmeric state. Susceptibility is in its highest state of action, and the operator seems to control the direction of thought, if he chooses; or can so impress the mind with influences as to govern its action, in a measure. This point is, no doubt, gained by some powerful impression produced by the operator upon the mind of the subject. This condition can be produced by other influences than an individual mind. A fright by suddenly coming upon some external object will often produce a similar state of mind. Intense thought and excruciating pains produce this excited state and sometimes sets the mind in action; when it is enabled to exhibit the same phenomena as when induced by an individual operator.
We shall have occasion in the progress of our work to refer to cases which arise from unknown impressions upon the mind; producing hallucination, insanity, dreaming, somnambulism, spectral illusions, etc. This excited state of the mind, called by some the magnetic, mesmeric and congestive, is no doubt produced by a powerful impression of the operator upon the mind of the subject, concentrating or drawing the whole attention to one influence. No set rules can be given by which this influence can be exercised, because the same efforts will produce different results upon different minds; yet no doubt every mind has its portal of access, and could we know where that is or the way and manner of approaching it, we could produce impressions so powerful upon every mind as to subdue the action of the bodily senses and communicate directly with it.
The doctrine, therefore, of powerful magnetizers (as they call themselves); that only a more powerful capacity or higher order of intellectual vigor can subdue a weaker mind and produce the excited or mesmeric state, is idle as the wind. These higher orders of intellects with strong sensibilities are more capable of being brought to the contemplation of one individual subject and of receiving the most powerful impressions, if you can discover the accessible road to their sensibilities. If you can produce an impression upon such a mind as will overcome all his prejudices towards you or your science, and acquire his undivided confidence, you will then excite the mind into this spiritual state of action, and he will readily read your own thoughts. Indeed, I have been led to the conclusion that the highest powers of genius have been the results of excited minds, upon the principles I have laid down; and that they are but the inspiration of this spiritual action.
What is it that contributes so much to distinguish Homer and Demosthenes, Virgil and Cicero, Milton, Tasso, Shakespeare and the whole host of great men who lived in ancient and modern times? It must have been this excited state, during which poetry and eloquence and the highest achievements of mind were left as lights of their genius, to live through all coming time. Eloquence, which holds the multitude in breathless silence or sways them hither and thither, produces the controlling impression upon each mind, which in its turn, impresses and influences the other; exciting a low degree of the mesmeric state. It is, in fact, a principle by which we are all more or less governed in all our pursuits.
The high degree of excitement, called clairvoyant, gives the mind freedom of action, placing it in close contact with everything. There is nothing remote or distant, past or future; everything is present and discoverable. It only requires direction, and the subject is before it. It is enabled to discover and describe countries and cities, mountains and plains, rivers and oceans, inhabitants and animals on distant parts of the globe. The mind will pass into the depths of the earth; or rather looks through all matter, all space and all time, giving its character, its condition and its result. Call its attention to any subject, however remote, and it is present to the mind.
These ideas that I have thrown out in relation to mind in its highest state of excitement are not the result of a vivid imagination or the productions of a speculating mind, but the effect of experiments, repeated at different times and on various occasions. They are facts, which stand out beyond all contradiction; all cavil! And we are not to pass them as a freak of nature or as the result of contradictory laws. It must be the highest state of action to which the mind has arrived; giving testimony of the great powers with which it is created, yet controlled by its natural laws. We must not, therefore, account for this wonderful development upon the supposition of exceptions to general rules, but upon the continuation of great and undeviating principles.
The peculiar state of the mind, usually called dreaming, is explainable upon the principles laid down in our premises; namely, that impressions are conveyed to the mind by some other process than through our bodily senses.
We may fall asleep under a deep impression of some transaction which has actually occurred, and the mind, having long been under the most powerful action of thought in connection with the transaction, will yield up the access through its natural body and receive its impressions directly upon itself.
In other words, the mind becomes, in a degree, mesmerized, and is then capable of producing all the phenomena for both in dreaming, which it would if it were actually thrown into that state by an individual second power.
The principle of association (or impression succeeding impression), by which the mind is controlled, both in its natural and excited state, is the law which always governs.
The mind always acts from impressions received, when it acts at all; and when in this state, is not regulated exclusively by surrounding objects, because it is as susceptible of impressions from objects at a vast distance, as those immediately around it.
For time, space, distance and matter are no impediments to its action. Give it direction towards any subject, and everything connected with it is present.
The dreaming state does not differ from the mesmeric; only as it is produced by another method than what is commonly called "magnetic."
We submit therefore, the following accounts of individuals of what actually passed in their minds, taken from different authors, together with the usual explanations, and shall endeavor to account for them upon such principles as we believe to govern mind.
Dr. Abercrombie, who has philosophized much upon mind, relates to us many interesting anecdotes, which he had accumulated from observation and by the assistance of his friends.
An instance is mentioned of a gentleman and his wife, who were actually dreaming upon the same subject at the same time, in the following language.
It happened at the period when there was an alarm of French invasion, and almost every man in Edinburgh was a soldier. All things had been arranged upon the expectation of the landing of the enemy; the first notice of which was to be given by a gun from the castle, and this was to be followed by a chain of signals, calculated to alarm the country in all directions.
Further, there had been recently in Edinburgh, a splendid military spectacle in which five-thousand men had been drawn up in Prince's Street, fronting the castle. The gentleman to whom the dream occurred, and who had been a zealous volunteer, was in bed between two and three o'clock in the morning, when he dreamed of hearing the signal gun.
He was immediately at the castle, witnessed the proceedings for displaying the signals and saw and heard a great bustle over the town from troops and artillery assembling in Prince's Street. At this time he was roused by his wife, who awoke in a fright, in consequence of a similar dream connected with much noise and the landing of the enemy, and concluding with the death of a particular friend of her husband's, who had served with him as a volunteer during the war.
The Dr. attributed all this remarkable occurrence to a noise produced in the room above, by the fall of a pair of tongs, which had been left in an awkward position, etc. But how it should happen that the tongs should have produced similar trains of thought in two different individuals by the noise of a fall is more than I can understand.
One would suppose that the noise would have been conveyed to the mind by the bodily senses, giving a true impression of its origin; or at least would not have resulted in impressions so foreign to the real cause.
The true explanation seems to be this. Both minds, no doubt, passed into the sleeping state; partially excited upon the alarm of the French invasion, etc., and were in the mesmeric sleep and in communication with each other, capable of giving and receiving impressions. The fall of the tongs might have affected the mind of one or both. It would not be necessary to affect more than one.
The train of association is started in this highly excited state by an impression which could not have been given through the bodily senses. The impression received is immediately followed by other impressions connected with the subject upon which the mind was most intent during the waking state; and being in communication with the other, conveyed similar impressions. Thus both minds were led along in mutual connection, receiving real impressions, but arising from (as we would say in the waking state) false causes.
Another instance is mentioned in which dreams are produced by whispering in their ears. The particulars of one case are given in the papers of Dr. Gregory and were related to him by a gentleman who witnessed them.
The subject was an officer in the expedition to Louisburg in 1758, and while in this state was a great source of amusement to his associates and friends.
They could produce in him any kind of a dream by whispering in his ear, especially if this was done by a friend with whose voice he was familiar. At one time, they conducted him through the whole progress of a quarrel, which ended in a duel; and when the parties were supposed to be met, a pistol was placed in his hand, which he fired and was awakened by the report.
On another occasion, they found him asleep on the top of a locker or bunker in the cabin, where they made him believe he had fallen overboard, and exhorted him to save himself by swimming. He immediately imitated all the motions of swimming. They then told him that a shark was pursuing him, and entreated him to dive for his life. He instantly did so, with so much force as to throw himself entirely from the lockers upon the cabin floor; by which he was much bruised - and awakened, of course.
After the landing of the army at Louisburg, his friends found him one day asleep in his tent, evidently much annoyed by the cannonading. They then made him believe that he was engaged, when he expressed much fear and showed an evident disposition to run away. Against this, they remonstrated; but at the same time increased his fears by imitating the groans of the wounded and dying.
When he asked, as he often did, who was down, they named his particular friends. At last they told him that the man next to himself in the line had fallen, when he instantly sprang from his bed, rushed out of the tent and was roused from his danger and his dream together by falling over the tent ropes.
Upon being aroused, he could not recollect anything which had transpired and had only a confused feeling of fatigue.
We can account for these experiments only upon the excited state of the mind, being capable of receiving impressions from another source than through the senses. The whispering in the ear was only whispering to the mind; the sense of hearing being, no doubt, inactive; and all the impressions of the quarrel were actually produced upon his mind and not through the sense of hearing, by the direction of those around him.
In the case of swimming, a strong impression of a shark was made upon his mind, and in the excited state, it appeared real and was actually seen, as much as though every circumstance had transpired as it appeared in the natural state.
All these impressions were the result of mind acting upon mind; impressions conveyed by the minds of those around him directly to his mind, making precisely the same result as though he had, in his waking state, fallen overboard and was pursued by a shark.
In this excited state of the mind called by philosophical writers the "dreaming," every act of the past may be called up by some directing power or by successive impressions. Dr. Abercrombie has related some incidents among his acquaintances which will illustrate this principle:
The gentleman who was the subject was at the time connected with one of the principal banks in Glasgow and was at his place at the teller's table, where money is paid, when a person entered, demanding payment of a sum of six pounds. There were several people waiting, who were, in turn, entitled to be attended before him, but he was extremely impatient and rather noisy; and being besides, a remarkable stammerer, he became so annoying that another gentleman requested my friend to pay him his money, and get rid of him. He did so, accordingly, but with an expression of impatience at being obliged to attend to him before his turn, and thought no more of the transaction.
At the end of the year, which was eight or nine months after, the books of the bank could not be made to balance; the deficiency being exactly six pounds. Several days and nights were spent in endeavoring to discover the error, but without success, when at last my friend returned home much fatigued and went to bed.
He dreamed of being at his place in the bank, and the whole transaction with the stammerer, as now detailed, passed before him in all its particulars. He awoke under a full impression that the dream was to lead him to a discovery of what he was anxiously in search of, and soon discovered that the sum paid to this person, in the manner now mentioned, had been neglected to be inserted in the book of interests; and that it exactly accounted for the error in the balance.
The Dr. acknowledges this to be a very remarkable case and not to be explained upon any principles with which he is acquainted. All the rules by which philosophers have accounted for experiments as wonderful as this, here fail him.
Had he witnessed the experiments which have been given by subjects under the excited or mesmeric state, he could have accounted for the mystery. In this state, the mind may be said to be before a map on which is written the past, present and future, and only needs direction to some definite point to disclose every act of our lives.
The error in the books had been a constant cause of excitement, and his mind had been so highly wrought up as to pass into the mesmeric state, and under the impression of discovering the error. All the transactions during the past year were before him, with the books, and he was thus enabled to detect the error. This, no doubt, was a species of the clairvoyant state of mind.
The author of Waverly has given an interesting anecdote, considered by him authentic:
Mr. R. of Bowland, a gentleman of landed property in the Vale of Gala, was prosecuted for a considerable sum; the accumulated arrears of teind (or tithe) for which he was said to be indebted to a noble family; the titulars (lay impropriators of the tithes). Mr. R. was strongly impressed with the belief that his father had, by a form of process peculiar to the laws of Scotland, purchased these lands from the titular; and therefore, that the present prosecution was groundless.
But after an industrious investigation of the public records and a careful enquiry among all persons who had transacted law business for his father, no evidence could be recovered to support his defense. The period was now near at hand, when he conceived the loss of his lawsuit to be inevitable, and he had formed his determination to ride to Edinburgh the next day and make the best bargain he could, in the way of compromise. He went to bed with this resolution, and with all the circumstances of the case floating in his mind, had a dream to the following purpose.
His father, who had been dead many years, appeared to him, he thought, and asked him why he was disturbed in his mind. (In dreams men are not surprised at such apparitions.) Mr. R. thought that he informed his father of the cause of his distress, adding that the payment of a considerable sum of money was the more unpleasant to him, because he had a strong consciousness that it was not due, though he was unable to recover any evidence in support of his belief.
'You are right my son,' replied the paternal shade. 'I did acquire right in these teinds, for payment of which you are now prosecuted. The papers relating to the transaction are in the hands of Mr. ___, a writer or attorney, who is now retired from professional business and resides at Inveresk, near Edinburgh. He was a person whom I employed on that occasion for a particular reason, but who never on any other occasion transacted business on my account.
'It is very possible,' pursued the vision, 'that Mr. _________ may have forgotten a matter, which is now of a very old date; but you may call it to his recollection by this token - that when I came to pay his account, there was difficulty in getting change for a Portugal piece of gold, and that we were forced to drink out the balance at a tavern!'
Mr. R. awoke in the morning, with all the words of his vision imprinted on his mind, and thought it worthwhile to ride across the country to Inveresk, instead of going straight to Edinburgh. When he came there, he waited upon the gentleman mentioned in the dream; a very old man. Without saying anything of the vision, he enquired whether he remembered having conducted such a matter for his deceased father.
The old gentleman could not, at first, bring the circumstance to recollection; but on mention of the Portugal piece of gold, the whole returned upon his memory. He made an immediate search for the papers and recovered them, so that Mr. R. carried to Edinburgh the documents necessary to gain the cause, which he was on the verge of losing.
This incident was explained by Dr. Abercrombie that the son, no doubt, had heard his father relate all these circumstances at some prior time, and that he had entirely forgotten them; but that the anxiety of mind upon the subject produced, in the dreaming state, some circumstance which led to discovery of what his father had previously told him.
This may be a satisfactory explanation to those who believe it, yet I apprehend all would not be fully satisfied. This, we believe, might have occurred in this manner:
The mind had become extremely excited in the waking or natural state, upon the subject of the lawsuit, and as sleep insensibly came upon him, the mind immediately passed into the excited or mesmeric state, when it would be enabled to recall the past and ascertain all about the facts from communication with the mind of the Attorney at Inveresk, or from actually beholding the papers, etc.
Even this explanation, to me, is not satisfactory, although I have no doubt of the capabilities of the mind to have discovered it upon the principle above. Yet why should we not admit the real appearance of his father's spirit and that a communication of mind with mind developed the facts, as related?
(I will simply remark here that there is no question of the fact that individuals under this highly excited state of mind may communicate with the spirits of their deceased friends. We shall relate some experiments which have transpired; proving conclusively this spiritual communication in another part of this work.)
We find recorded in some work on mental philosophy, the following anecdotes.
A gentleman of the law in Edinburgh had mislaid an important paper, relating to some affairs on which a public meeting was soon to be held. He had been making a most anxious search for it for many days; but the evening of the day preceding that on which the meeting was to be held had arrived, without his being able to discover it.
He went to bed under great anxiety and disappointment and dreamed that the paper was in a box, appropriated to the papers of a particular family with which it was in no way connected. It was accordingly found there the next morning.
Another individual connected with a public office had mislaid a paper of such importance that he was threatened with the loss of his situation, if he did not produce it. After a long and unsuccessful search under intense anxiety, he also dreamed of discovering the paper in a particular place and found it there, accordingly.
The minds of these two individuals, no doubt, passed into the clairvoyant state; when they were able to behold with the mind's eye, the condition and position of the various papers. And so intent was their mind upon the discovery; or the joy which followed the discovery in the mind produced so strong an impression as to be recollected after the mind was aroused from the dreaming state, which is not uncommon under certain circumstances.
We will remark here that, no doubt, the mind is in active operation during our sleeping hours and passes rapidly along the highway of thought, yet is not conscious of it by us in our waking state. Nor is this position contradicted by the fact that we do occasionally recollect our dreams. We seldom have any recollection of our dreams, unless some very striking impression, which causes pleasing emotions or startling fear or excessive sorrow, is left upon the mind.
And however much the mind might think while the bodily senses are wrapped in slumber, we should have no cognizance of such thoughts, unless something peculiar and effective should occur.
In our waking moments, as we pass along our streets, we seldom notice objects which are common and in their place, but if anything new is introduced and strikes us with emotions of pleasure or pain, we notice and recall it at some future time.
In passing familiar objects, the mind, no doubt, recognizes them; but the impressions are slight, and other immediate objects occupy our attention, and we are not aware that we have passed them; yet we could not argue that we have not passed them, because they did not make strong impressions, so as to be recollected.
Nor can we reject the doctrine that the mind is ever watchful and never slumbers, but even when our bodily senses are at rest, it goes on in thought; recollecting only what is most striking and peculiar in its progress.
But we know, upon the ceaseless and constant action of the mind when the bodily senses are at rest, by the excited or mesmerized condition, which is, if you please, the dreaming state; the subject seldom recollects what has transpired during his sleeping state, unless you produce a very powerful impression, which is followed by the emotion of pleasure or pain to a very high degree. Then it is enabled to recall what was intimately connected with those emotions, and those only.
I have no doubt that the two cases of dreaming and mesmerizing are controlled by similar laws, and that they are alike in constantly occupying the mind; although we recollect only those ideas which are most powerfully presented and which appear to be connected with some strong emotion.
We have witnessed a great number of experiments upon subjects in the excited or mesmeric state, which demonstrate what I have advanced, in regard to impressions. Every subject can be so powerfully impressed as to recall the thought in his waking moments; while of ordinary transactions no idea is retained.
These experiments prove both the similarity of states of mind in the dreaming and mesmeric; and also, that our powers of mind are never at rest.
Mr. Combe mentions a singular dream of an individual; that he had committed murder, and that the murder was actually committed two years after.
Another case of a clergyman who visited Edinburgh, residing not far from that city, and while sleeping at an inn dreamed that he saw his own dwelling on fire and his child in the midst of it. He awoke with the full belief of his dream, and immediately setting out for his residence, arrived in time to witness the burning of his house and to save his child from the flames.
These are published in works of philosophy as "singular and wonderful coincidence." It is said that they demonstrate a "strong propensity of character and mental emotion, combined in a dream, and by some natural cause, one speedily fulfilled."
Dr. Abercrombie has very ingeniously accounted for the last example by the supposition that "the gentleman left a servant who had shown great carelessness in regard to fire and had often given rise in his mind to a strong apprehension that he might set fire to his house; that his anxiety might have been increased by being from home, and the same circumstance might make the servant more careless."
A further supposition is made that "the gentleman, before going to bed had, in addition to this anxiety, suddenly recollected that there was, on that day, in the neighborhood of his house, some fair or periodical merrymaking, from which the servant was very likely to return home intoxicated."
And at last it is supposed that these incidents "might have been embodied into a dream of his house being on fire, and that the same circumstances might have led to the fulfillment of the dream."
This explanation does not reasonably account for the murder which took place two years after the dream, if it should prove satisfactory in regard to the fire; and therefore, we take the liberty to explain them both upon such principles as we have endeavored to lay down as governing the mind under such circumstances:
We believe that experiments have proved that, to a mind in its excited or dreaming state, when its bodily senses are dormant or inactive, and impressions are conveyed to it by direct influences upon itself; all space, time, distance and matter are no obstacles to its action.
In the cases above named, let us assume the fact that there is no such thing as time with the mind; that the past, present and future are all present and displayed before it, as upon a map, and which are all visible, and the explanation of the dreams which occurred previous to the actual occurrence are simple and readily understood.
The mind, in this state, looks forward and beholds occurrences which have not yet transpired, but are reserved for a future event; yet it is not able to distinguish at what hour of time it will transpire. It, in fact, appears to the mind precisely like all other events; whether past or present, and probably would not be remembered, unless connected with some powerful emotion.
The committal of murder, in one case, produced a most powerful impression upon the mind of the actor and was, therefore, recollected in his waking moments.
The burning of the house, in which those most dear to the clergyman were and the imminent danger of his child, no doubt summoned up all the emotions of the heart and left an impression which confirmed his belief that the scene of the dream was actually taking place.
Similar experiments have been witnessed in the declarations of mesmeric subjects, and scenes which transpired weeks and months and years after were beheld with all the vividness and reality, as though they were the events of yesterday.
We have collected a few more facts, illustrative of the power of the mind under excitement, dreaming and mesmerism"
A gentleman in Scotland was affected with aneurism of the popliteal artery and was under the care of two eminent surgeons, and the day was fixed for operation. About two days previous to the time set by the surgeons, his wife dreamed that a change had taken place in the disease, in consequence of which the operation would not be required. Upon examination of the tumor the next morning, it was found that the pulsation had nearly ceased, and it finally recovered itself.
A lady dreamed that an aged female friend of hers had been murdered by a dark servant, and the dream occurred more than once. The impression was so strange, that she actually went to the house of the lady to whom it related and prevailed upon a gentleman to watch in the adjoining room the following night.
About 3 o'clock in the morning, footsteps were heard on the stairs, and the gentleman left his place of concealment and met the servant carrying up a basket of coal, in which a strong knife was found concealed. Being questioned as to where he was going with his coal, he replied in a confused manner, "to mend his mistress' fire" — which was not very probable in the month of July and at three o'clock in the morning.
Another lady dreamed that her nephew was drowned with some young companions with whom he had engaged to sail the following day, and the impression was so strong that she prevailed upon him not to join his companions, who went on the excursion and were all drowned.
A lady who had sent her watch to be repaired, and a long time having elapsed without its return, dreamed that the watchmaker's boy had dropped it on his way to the shop, and it was injured so much as not to be repaired. Upon enquiry, this was ascertained to be a fact.
These experiments are acknowledged to be of an order not satisfactorily explainable upon such principles as are laid down by philosophers. The ground we have taken, we believe, fully explains these coincidences. (And we shall give a few experiments upon mesmeric subjects, showing that the same results may follow.)
Another very singular instance of "coincident dreams" is related by Mr. Taylor, and is given by him as an undoubted fact:
A young man, who was at an academy a hundred miles from home, dreamed that he went to his father's house in the night; tried the front door, but found it locked; got in by a back door, and finding nobody out of bed, went directly to the bedroom of his parents. He then said to his mother, whom he found awake, "Mother, I am going 'a long journey and am come to bid you good-by." This she answered under much agitation, "Oh, dear son, thou art dead."
He instantly awoke and thought no more of his dream, until a few days after, he received a letter from his father, enquiring very anxiously after his health, in consequence of a frightful dream which his mother had on the same night in which the dream now mentioned occurred to him. She dreamed that she heard someone attempt to open the front door, then go to the back door and at last, come into her bedroom. She then saw it was her son, who came to the side of her bed and said, "Mother, I am going 'a long journey and am come to bid you good-by," on which she exclaimed, "Oh, dear son, thou art dead."
(But nothing unusual happened to any of the parties.)
Dr. Abercrombie supposes these two dreams must have arisen from some strong mental impression arising in both minds about the same time, which produced a similarity of dreaming. A circumstance very extraordinary; and is quite as likely to occur from chance, as that everything is governed at haphazard, without undeviating laws.
The true explanation is simple. These two minds were in a dreaming, excited or mesmeric state. The bodily senses cease to act; impressions are now conveyed directly to the mind. All space and time, in this state, are annihilated.
Here, then, the mind of the son is in communication with his mother. He makes precisely the same impressions upon her mind as are made upon his; and both minds, being in the excited state, readily receive impressions from false causes.
But we do not design here to say how this train of thought originated; but probably from strong mental excitement in his waking moments, leading to the train which occurred in his dream. There can be no question but that one mind here was governed by the other; and therefore, both dreams would occur at the same time and upon the same subject.
The stories of second sight are also explainable upon the same principle laid down in our preceding work. Anxiety and constant thought upon subjects connected with our interests will sometimes lull us into a mesmeric or dreaming state, in which we can behold many scenes; sometimes real and sometimes fictitious.
The mind is excited into the clairvoyant state and is then enabled to perceive objects without the bodily senses. The principle of sight is in the mind; and in our natural state, that principle develops itself through the eye. In the excited state, it is developed independent of the eye; acting directly upon the object.
A gentleman sitting by the fire during a stormy night, while his domestics are upon the lake and exposed to the ravages of the storm, falls to sleep (in mesmeric sleep), under the excitement of their absence. The mind is immediately present with the boat and discovers every transaction which befalls the company. If the boat is capsized, he sees it; if it is to return safe, he beholds it.
But we are told that, under such circumstances, we should expect a disaster; and that the mind, falling asleep with all the picture of their danger before it, conjured up by its imagination, would naturally dream their loss. And if the boat returns, nothing more is thought of the dream; if she is lost, these revive all the circumstances as they transpired in the sleeping moments!
I grant that such might occur, or rather happen; but presume the instances of chance would not be numerous enough to account for all the stories of second sight. If the mind is regulated at all by laws, we do not see the reasons of so many exceptions; especially, as I contend, all these dreaming phenomena cannot be satisfactorily explained upon other principles than what we have laid down.
There is, however, a question which would naturally suggest itself in relation to the impressions we receive while in this excited, dreaming state. What we dream will not always come to pass. This does not militate against that doctrine we have laid down, but will only confirm what we have before declared in relation to the power of impressions to regulate our thoughts.
We will illustrate our subject in this manner. Suppose an individual, whose mind has been long upon one subject in which he finds himself deeply interested, while having his mind intently fixed under ordinary excitement, with all his external faculties in action, he arrives at certain conclusions, which he believes to be correct; and a strong impression is made, governing the further action of the mind in relation to the subject.
Now this conclusion may not be correct, yet the individual would be firm in his position. A wrong impression arising somewhere in the process of reasoning has led to a wrong conclusion. Now if the individual could detect the first false step, he would correct the conclusion and vindicate truth.
This is the natural operation of mind, under ordinary excitement. Now place a subject in the dreaming (or mesmeric) state, and it becomes far more susceptible of impressions than before. It is, therefore, even more liable to receive a wrong impression from some external cause or internal emotion than in its natural state; and therefore, all of these false dreams may be accounted for on this principle.
An individual passing into this excited state may have, in his waking moments, impressed upon his mind something as having actually taken place, which had not and did not transpire, with such power as that the impression would control the mind and be led to an endless number of false conclusions, which the facts in the case did not warrant.
This is when the mind is led astray and does not receive impressions from facts, but from preceding impressions. Then that mind cannot distinguish the false from the true cause, unless in the course of its progress, it is led to reconsider or review the whole scene, with the idea of getting the facts and giving a true statement. The mind can act from fact, or rather receive its impressions from facts; and when this is the case, will always develop true results.
We shall mention only a few cases of what is usually called "dreams," and pass to another division of our subject. The following incident is related by Dr. Abercrombie, who was acquainted with all the particulars and fully vouches for their accuracy.
Two ladies, sisters, had been for several days in attendance upon their brother, who was ill of a common sore throat; severe and protracted, but not considered as attended with danger. At the same time, one of them had borrowed a watch of a female friend, in consequence of her own being under repair. This watch was one to which particular value was attached, on account of some family associations, and some anxiety was expressed that it might not meet with any injury.
The sisters were sleeping together in a room communicating with that of their brother, when the elder of them awoke in great agitation; and having roused the other, told her that she had had a frightful dream. “I dreamed,” she said, “that Mary's watch stopped, and that when I told you of the circumstances, you replied,” 'much worse than that has happened, for __________'s breath has stopped, also' " — naming their brother, who was ill.
To quiet her agitation, the younger sister immediately got up and found the brother sleeping quietly, and the watch, which had been carefully put by in a drawer, going correctly. The following night the very same dream occurred, followed by similar agitation, which was again composed in the same manner; the brother being again found in quiet sleep and the watch going well.
On the following morning, soon after the family had breakfasted, one of the sisters was sitting by her brother, while the other was writing a note in an adjoining room. When her note was ready for being sealed, she was proceeding to take out the watch alluded to, which had been put by in her writing desk, and she was astonished to find it stopped. At the same instant, she heard a scream of intense distress from her sister in the other room; their brother, who had still been considered as going on favorably, had been seized with a sudden fit of suffocation and had just breathed his last.
I have frequently alluded to the capacities of mind acting in its excited state, independent of matter. This can be clearly proved by a subject under the mesmeric influence. The mind is then present with all things and needs only to be directed, and the object is before it. Distance and space are nothing; and therefore, no time is required to pass the mind from one object to another.
It is so in our waking thoughts. The mind is occupied with only one thing at a time, and when it is directed to a new object of thought, the direction and the attention pass at the same instant. Nor does it require any longer time or any other further effort to think of an object in the Chinese Empire than those nearest us.
The mind, in our natural state, depends upon the five senses for its external information and forms all its ideas of things through them. But in the excited state, it receives no impressions through the organs of sense; but every object which acts at all, acts directly upon the mind or is presented by the influence of another mind.
Instances of dreaming are now on record in which this principle is fully illustrated:
Smillie, in his Natural History, relates a case of a medical student of the University of Edinburgh, who was accustomed to dream and be aroused from the same cause that produced the first impression.
We also notice instances of the following character.
A gentleman dreamed that he had enlisted as a common soldier, joined his regiment, deserted, was apprehended, carried back, tried, condemned to be shot and at last led out for execution. After all these preparations, a gun was fired, and he awoke with the report and found that a noise in the adjoining room had both produced the dream and awakened him.
Dr. Gregory mentions a case in which a gentleman, who had taken cold from sleeping in a damp place, was liable to a feeling of suffocation when he slept in a lying posture, and this was always accompanied with a dream of a skeleton which grasped his throat. On one occasion, he procured a sentinel, giving him directions to arouse him, whenever he was disposed to sink down; as these dreams never occurred when he slept in a sitting position. He began to sink away, and upon his being aroused, instantly found fault with his attendant for not having aroused him immediately; as he had been in a struggle with the skeleton for a long time before he awoke.
"A friend of mine," says Dr. Abercrombie, "dreamed that he had crossed the Atlantic and spent a fortnight in America. In embarking on his return, he fell into the sea, and having awoke from the fright, discovered that he had not been asleep above ten minutes."
"Count Lavallette," says Professor Upham, who was some years since condemned to death in France, relates a dream which occurred during his imprisonment, as follows:
'One night while I was asleep, the clock of the Palais de Justice struck twelve and awoke me. I heard the gate open to relieve the sentry, but I fell asleep again immediately. In this sleep, I dreamed that I was standing in the Rue St. Honore at the corner of the Rue de l'Echelle.
A melancholy darkness spread around me, all was still; nevertheless a low and uncertain sound soon arose. All of a sudden I perceived, at the bottom of the street and advancing towards me, a troop of cavalry; the men and horses however, all flayed. This horrible troop continued passing in a rapid gallop — and casting frightful looks at me. Their march, I thought, continued five hours; and they were followed by an immense number of artillery and wagons, full of bleeding corpses, whose limbs still quivered; a disgusting smell of blood and bitumen almost choked me.
At length the iron gate of the prison, shutting with great force, awoke me again. I made my repeater strike; it was no more than midnight, so that the horrible phantasmagoria had lasted no more than two or three minutes; that is to say, the time necessary for relieving the sentry and shutting the gate. The cold was severe and the watchword short. The next day, the turnkey confirmed my calculations.'
These experiments all confirm the doctrine of the rapidity of thought; that no time, as we are accustomed to measure it, is required for transactions which would occupy months and years in their performance. Yet the mind lives in these short periods required to pass upon such scenes, apparently the whole time it would require to perform them.
The mind, in its dreaming or excited state, will pass from country to country, from shore to shore, mountain to mountain, in rapid succession, feeling that it has actually passed over a space of time sufficient to have accomplished all these distances. Under such influences, the mind would perform a pilgrimage to Mecca, experience all the particulars of the passage of the Rubicon, visit St. Petersburg and Moscow and be engaged in a whaling voyage in the Pacific Ocean, all in rapid succession.
Impression follows impression, and results and conclusions follow as rapidly as they are produced. It is true that the mind compares every transaction of thought with its knowledge, previously attained. And it is thus deceived in the measure of time when it does not, through the organized body, perform its thoughts. It has no other method by which to calculate than such as is derived from previous knowledge.
Somnambulism is another state of mind as laid down by different philosophers. It is only another condition of excited mind, by which all the impressions are received by another process than that of the bodily organs; by which the subject is induced to walk and perform bodily and mental labor.
This condition of mind is really the dreaming or excited state and explainable upon the same principles as other dreams. But the difficulty in explanations given by those who have written upon the subject is the misconception of its cause; mixing up the action of the mind under such excitement with its action through the bodily senses.
I do not intend to convey the idea that the mind may not act partly from one cause or condition and partly from the other. It does so act; and this, no doubt, is the cause of many impressions which the mind, in its dreaming state, is constantly receiving.
Their confusion in explanations arises from the argument being drawn from the knowledge received through the bodily senses alone; not mentioning to explain the phenomena arising from an independent state. If facts alone, subject to the laws which govern mind, were to furnish a basis, it is not possible to explain these two conditions - natural and excited, on other principles than those which have governed us throughout this work.
Somnambulism is, then, a species of mesmerism, and a subject may be so controlled as to perform the same experiments we shall give, selected from different works.
"A young nobleman," says Dr. Abercrombie, "living in the citadel of Breslau, was observed by his brother, who occupied the same room, to rise in his sleep, wrap himself in a cloak and escape by a window to the roof of a building. He then tore in pieces a magpie's nest, wrapped the young birds in his cloak, returned to his apartment and went to bed. In the morning he mentioned the circumstances as having occurred in a dream and could not be persuaded that there had been anything more than a dream, till he was shown the magpies in his cloak.”
"A farmer in one of the counties of Massachusetts had employed himself, some weeks in winter, threshing his grain. One night as he was about closing his labors, he ascended a ladder to the top of the great beams in the barn, where the rye which he was threshing was deposited, to ascertain what number of bundles remained unthreshed, which he determined to finish the next day.
The ensuing night, about two o'clock, he was heard by one of the family to rise and go out. He repaired to his barn, being sound asleep and unconscious of what he was doing, set open his barn doors, ascended the great beams of the barn, where his rye was deposited, threw down a flooring and commenced threshing it. When he had completed it, he raked off the straw and shoved the rye to one side of the floor and then again ascended the ladder with the straw and deposited it on some rails that lay across the great beams. He then threw down another flooring of rye, which he threshed and finished, as before.
Thus he continued his labors, until he had threshed five floorings; and on returning from throwing down the sixth and last, in passing over part of the haymow, he fell off where the hay had been cut down about six feet, on the lower part of it, which awoke him. He at first imagined himself in his neighbor's barn, but after groping about in the dark for a long time, ascertained that he was in his own; and at length found the ladder on which he descended to the floor, closed his barn doors which he found open and returned to his house. On coming to the light, he found himself in such a profuse perspiration that his clothes were literally wet through.
The next morning on going to his barn, he found that he had threshed during the night five bushels of rye, had raked the straw off in good order and deposited it on the great beams and carefully shoved the grain to one side of the floor, without the least consciousness of what he was doing, until he fell from the hay."
[Elements of Intellectual Philosophy, Upham]
We recollect of reading an account of a clergyman who had been long contemplating the writing of a sermon upon a certain passage of the Scripture, which required deep thought. He arose from his sleep during the night and entirely wrote out the whole discourse in a most lucid and convincing reasoning and language and returned to rest. On the following day, he could recollect nothing of the transaction but the different heads of the subject connected with dreaming. Upon going to his study, he was surprised to find the whole discourse in writing, neatly executed in his usual form of writing sermons.
Another instance came under our own observation, in the western part of Maine, of the gentleman farmer who, during the month of August, in one of his night walks, arose and taking his scythe, went into his field and actually mowed down a half acre of his best wheat, returned the scythe to its usual place and returned to bed. He awoke the next morning and recollected nothing of the transaction but remarked that he had a singular dream of taking his scythe and mowing an acre of his wheat, instead of reaping it, as was his usual method. He was loath to believe what he witnessed with his own eyes - the grain in the swath and that it had been done by his own hand. It no doubt would have been charged upon some of his good neighbors, had not some of his own household witnessed the whole transaction.
Philosophers have confessed their inability to explain satisfactorily these strange phenomena; and then, by undertaking to show in what possible manner it might all happen, mystify what was before mysterious. We do not learn from them how it is possible for one to see at all under any circumstances, without the bodily organ of sight; and much less have they proved to us the power of seeing without eyes and in Egyptian darkness.
"There is," says Professor Upham, "a set of nerves which are understood to be particularly connected with respiration and appear to have nothing to do with sensation and muscular action. There is another set which one knows to possess a direct and important connection with sensation and the muscles. These last are separable into distinct filaments, having separate functions; some being connected with sensation merely and others with volition and muscular action.
In sensation, the impression made by some external body exists, at first, in the external part of the organs of sense and is propagated along one class of filaments to the brain. In volition and voluntary muscular movement, the origin of action, as far as the body is concerned, seems to be the reverse; commencing in the brain and being propagated along other and appropriate nervous filaments to the different parts of the system.
Hence it sometimes happens that, in diseases of the nervous system, the power of sensation is, in a great measure lost, while that of motion fully remains; or on the contrary, the power of motion is lost, while that of sensation remains.
These views help to throw light upon the subject of somnambulism. Causes, at present unknown to us, may operate through their appropriate nervous filaments to keep the muscles awake, without disturbing the repose and inactivity of the senses. A man may be asleep as to all the powers of external perception and yet be awake in respect to the capabilities of muscular motion and aided by the trains of association which make a part of his dreams, may be able to walk about and to do many things, without the aid of the sight or hearing."
It cannot be possible that the explanation given by the professor was satisfactory to himself. For it would be one of the greatest experiments of chance ever known or thought of for a man to rise from his sleep and go to his barn and climb to the great beams, throw down his bundles of grain, thrash them and rake up the straw etc., etc., and follow up this course of business without seeing or without the power of sight.
But the explanation given above admits that such transactions might happen without sight or hearing. No one has ever undertaken to explain them upon the supposition that they do really see and perform all these muscular actions by the aid of the visual powers of mind.
There is another experiment referred to by the professor as not having been reached by any of his previous statements and explanations, and he considers that they may form an exception to the usual appearances in somnambulists, but of a marked and extraordinary character.
"There are few cases," he says — the recent instance of Jane Rider in this country is one:
“where persons in the condition of somnambulism have not only possessed slight visual power but perceptions of sight increased much above the common degree.
In the extraordinary narrative of Jane Rider, the author informs us that he took two large wads of cotton and placed them directly on the closed eyelids and then bound them on with a black, silk handkerchief. The cotton filled the cavity under the eyebrows and reached down to the middle of the cheek, and various experiments were tried to ascertain whether she could see.
In one of them, a watch enclosed in a case was handed to her, and she was requested to tell what o'clock it was by it; upon which, after examining both sides of the watch, she opened the case and then answered the question. She also read, without hesitation, the name of a gentleman written in characters so fine that no one else could distinguish it at the usual distance from the eye. In another paroxysm, the lights were removed from her room and the windows so secured that no object was discernible, and two books were presented to her; when she immediately told the titles of both, though one of them was a book which she had never before seen.
In other experiments, while the room was so darkened that it was impossible with the ordinary powers of vision to distinguish the colors of the carpet, her eyes were also bandaged. She pointed out the different colors in the hearth rug, took up and read several cards lying on the table, threaded a needle and performed several other things, which could not have been done without the aid of the vision.
Of extraordinary cases of this kind, it would seem that no satisfactory explanation, at least no explanation which is unattended with difficulties, has as yet been given."
This last case, with the remarks, is extracted from Upham's Mental Philosophy, Vol. 1, page 214. He expresses no difficulty in explaining how the farmer of Massachusetts could do his thrashing in the midst of darkness and without the power of sight but is willing to acknowledge his inability to explain the method of seeing, in the case of Jane Rider.
To us, it appears that they may both be explained upon the same principle; that they are nearly parallel cases and can be accounted for in no other way than by the principles we have laid down; namely, that in the excited, dreaming or somnambulistic subject, impressions are conveyed to the mind, without the aid of the bodily organs and that the faculties of the mind are acting in direct communication with objects; that the mind sees, hears, tastes, smells and feels, without the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and hands. And that precisely the same impressions may be conveyed to the mind directly, without these organs, as could be with them.
A case of somnambulism is related by Dr. Gillett of Connecticut. The subject was a lady of Wapping, near East Windsor, Conn., who was, while in this state, able to thread her needle, perform her domestic labors, read a book upside down with great fluency, tell the time by a watch held near her head and know what her friends were doing in any part of the room, at any moment, etc., etc.
This condition of mind was supposed to result from her weakness and ill health. She was afterwards cured of these spasms by the influence of mesmeric operations.
The case of Yarnell, a lad born in Buck's County, Pennsylvania, is a striking instance of somnambulism (or excited state of mind). He could perceive persons and their conduct, however remote, by simply resting his hands upon his knees and his head upon his hands. He was frequently questioned by wives, whose husbands were gone to sea and had been absent a long time, and would give the correct information as to their place and conduct. He would often direct where stolen goods were found and describe the persons who had taken them.
Other instances might be named of the same class, proving the most extraordinary power of the mind while in this excited state.
One remark, before we close this part of our subject. The cases of somnambulism which we have referred to are conditions of mind, precisely like those in the mesmeric state. Every action which transpired in the accounts above may be produced by a subject under the mesmeric influence.
This places the question, beyond a doubt, that the different conditions of the mind are all governed by similar laws and explainable upon such principles as we have laid down.
We have taken for examples such anecdotes and incidents as are familiar to almost every individual who has paid close attention to the philosophy of the mind, such as are found in various authors who have explained these phenomena, according to their ideas of mind; but we have endeavored to explain them upon other principles.
We proceed now to a further illustration of our position upon the theory of mesmerism.
Anton Mesmer, a Swiss Physician, about the year 1750, was distinguishing himself by his philosophical writings. From some cause or other, he left his native country and appeared in France in 1778. Soon after his arrival, he introduced the new science of Animal Magnetism, which has since been sometimes called mesmerism, from its supposed discoverer.
The phenomena exhibited by Mesmer under the influence of his new science had been familiar, in one form or other, to the inhabitants of the world, so far back as history extends; yet he claimed the honor of discovering its powers and its laws. He introduced the doctrine of the magnetic fluid and was accustomed to magnetize trees, by whose power, in turn, subjects were thrown into the magnetic state, etc.
I believe it has generally been conceded, by all who have succeeded him and who have claimed much honor for having advanced the science, that Mesmer first operated with the animal fluid. In the year of 1784, the subject of Animal Magnetism excited much interest in Paris, and the King was finally induced to direct a committee of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Paris to give the subject a thorough consideration and report their opinion of its merits.
The American Philosopher Dr. Franklin was then Ambassador at the Court of France and was appointed a member of this committee. It appears during the progress of their investigations that two principles were to be decided. First, whether the experiments were really performed as they appeared, or were they a species of deception practiced by collusion, contact or by previous practice? Second, whether, if there should be no deception practiced, there is sufficient evidence from the facts developed to establish a theory of Magnetic Fluid, through which all these strange appearances of the mind were exhibited.
The committee decided that there was not sufficient evidence exhibited to show that the phenomena called magnetic were caused by the action of a fluid, as had been contended by the disciples of Mesmer. This settled, with them, the second part of their enquiry. The results, however, and the facts witnessed were more difficult to reject. They were thought to be "singular and wonderful" and were finally attributed to the power of the imagination. The mysterious influence of mind over mind was readily conceded; yet they supposed the medium to be, not a magnetic fluid, but imagination. We find no fault with this report, except in the term used as its cause; namely, the imagination, believing that even the facts disclosed before the honorable committee were such as to require another expression.
If I imagine a picture or scene, it will not appear real to me. I might create images corresponding to certain names which would be given them, but there would be no belief on my part of the real existence of such created images. The poet may rely upon his powers of imagination and portray in measured verse ideal existences, which please and amuse, but should he portray what he believed to exist, or knows to exist, just as he would describe any fact, no one would contend that the work was a species of imagery but a relation of facts by the author, or at least, what was believed to be true by him.
Milton, in Paradise Lost, displayed the highest powers of the imagination, but we do not presume he believed himself relating simple facts which actually transpired according to the description he has given. Yet to some minds who have read this work of genius and have a belief and a conviction of the reality of his imagery, it is with them a matter of fact.
Imagination can have no permanent effect over the conduct of an individual, because an impression produced upon the mind by an imaginary cause ceases to control him the moment he is conscious of this fact. If I should read an account of some wonderful event in the columns of a newspaper, and I believed it to be a fact, there would be no imagination upon my part, although the whole scene might be the work of the editor's imagination. It would be imagery to him but reality to me.
Now the committee did not pretend that collusion or consent of action produced such results as were exhibited before them, but that it was by some unknown mystery; the influence of imagination. It must be admitted, at the present day, that all subjects act from impressions and that they really believe in the reality of the cause of these impressions; else they would not appear so sincere or would not be sincere. If it were the result of the imagination, it would indeed be a species of polite deception, because a subject could not be supposed to act sincerely and know, at the same time, that it proceeded from false causes and that he was deceiving himself.
The operator, or rather the controller of the mind of a subject in the mesmeric state, may produce impressions upon the recipient from false causes; yet those causes would be real to his subject and produce the same results, as though every impression were the result of a real cause. A mesmerizer may imagine a book before the subject, and the subject will see and feel it, although no book be in a room; that is, the same impression is made upon his mind by the mind of the operator, as though a book had really been placed before him. The operator thinks (or imagines) the book, but the subject receives a real impression and acts as though the object was before him.
I have frequently amused myself with experiments of this nature, fully demonstrating the effect of imagination producing real impressions upon the subject. I have handed Lucius, my subject, a six-inch rule and imagined it to be twelve inches. He would immediately divide the rule into twelve inches by counting. Present him with the rule, and ask him how many inches it contains, and he would answer correctly; unless, by the operation of my mind, I should produce an impression that it contained twelve inches. I have first asked him to tell me how long it was, and he would answer me correctly. I would then ask him to look again, and then I would imagine any length I pleased, and he would answer me according to the impression I produced by my imagination (or thought). So in regard to other impressions which I would cause to be made upon his mind; always producing the same results, as though the real object were presented.
I understand the term "imagination," as employed by the honorable Committee, to refer to the subject and not the operator; that it is a result of the imagination of the subject. Our remarks above, we think, explain precisely how much the imagination has to do with this subject, believing as we do that the mesmerized mind acts from impressions regulated by the same laws as when impressions are made by the communication of the bodily senses. In the experiments we have named, and no doubt it was so before the Committee, whatever imagination has to do with the experiments at all is confined, not to the subject, but to the operator or individual who is in communication with the subject.
We believe the Committee had good and conclusive evidence against the theory of a fluid, and we are equally unbelieving in the imagination as being the result of all they witnessed. We are aware that much, very much, appears at first view to be the power of imagination; but a further investigation into the results will prove that, with the mesmeric subject, there is no such power as imagination.
There was an interesting experiment which was performed before the Committee at Paris of this nature. A tree was magnetized, as the operator supposed, and the subject was to be led up to it, and the magnetic fluid would pass into him and throw him into the magnetic state. This was performed several times with perfect accuracy. But the Committee finally hit upon this method. Instead of taking him to the magnetized tree, he was led up, blindfold, to one not magnetized and quite as mysteriously fell into the mesmeric condition. This proved to the Committee, as it must to everyone, that in fact, one tree possesses the same principle and quantity of magnetism as the other, which the operator had acted upon; or that neither of them was impregnated with magnetism but that some other cause, called by the Committee imagination, produced the mesmeric sleep.
Query, was this imagination! The subject in the first instance believed that he was led to the magnetized tree, which was true; and there could not have been imagination about this. In the second instance, he was led to the natural tree, but he believed it to be magnetized, and of course the same impressions and the same results would follow, if you reject the magnetic fluid. Every circumstance, to the subject, would be the same in both experiments; and if like causes produce like effects, it could not be the result of a magnetic influence, because one tree was magnetized and the other was not; and the impressions, being real in both cases, could not have affected the imagination.
Imagination supposes something not real. These impressions from which the subject acts are real and not imaginary, to him. If the reply is that imagination produced both results, we answer that every thing which makes an impression upon the mind is, then, the result of the imagination. All the impressions we receive are imagined, and man's whole conduct is nothing but a series and succession of imaginations.
If I direct my subject to do a certain thing at such a time, informing him what that is and the result I wish to produce, and nothing further is said or thought about the direction, until the time arrives; and should the subject, by his own voluntary act, do according to my direction, is it the result of his imagination? If, on the other hand, I desire him to do something at a certain time but do not communicate to him my desire, and he should, without further cause, perform the very act I wished, would it be the power of his imagination?
If these are all the result of imagination, then everything which surrounds us exists only in imagery, and the world is ideal. The system of Berkeley, concerning the non-existence of matter and that material existences are but images, etc., might be well adopted; and to carry up the science a little further, Hume, with his creations of images and impressions, would be the pattern philosopher of the images of men! We are rather disposed to confine the use of the word imagination to its proper definition and not to confound it with realities.
We must, therefore, reject both the magnetic fluid and the imagination as being the cause of the phenomena called mesmeric. We embrace a doctrine which both the Committee and the followers of Mesmer do not deny; namely, the influence of mind over mind, not through the medium of a fluid or the imagination, but by direct contact with and action upon mind.
We shall now proceed to examine the theory of a fluid and to show what deception those who have adopted and advocated the theory have practiced upon themselves. It has been remarked, and with what truth, our readers will hereafter decide, that Animal Magnetism is a stupendous humbug; that it is a species of polite deception held up to the community as something strange, wonderful and real; a delusion played upon the credulity of honest citizens by artful and designing operators.
The facts resulting from experiments in this enlightened age cannot be refuted; but I am aware that the oddity and unreasonable methods of accounting for them, by the writing and lectures of the advocates of a fluid theory, are so inconsistent with many experiments performed by the followers of Mesmer, themselves, that not only the animal fluid but all the strange phenomena of mind arising from the mesmeric state are rejected at once and passed over to the grave of delusion. But the rejection of facts should be more carefully done, than of falsehood. Nor should we give up the whole facts, because the system of explanation is inconsistent and absurd.
It is not really the community who are so essentially humbugged, as those who adopt and defend the fluid theory. They are really deceived, supposing they have the agency of a fluid when, in fact, there is no fluid about the experiments. Their belief, however, enables them to perform their experiments, and they proceed as though they were really doing something by its agency. If they should adopt the theory of solids instead of fluids, it would be quite as reasonable, and they might perform all the experiments which they now perform with the fluid; or reject both, and then all the experiments can be better performed, which could be performed by fluids and solids.
The Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend A.M., late, of Trinity Hall, Cambridge has published a volume of some four hundred pages entitled, “Dispassionate Inquiry into Mesmerism.” It is, on the whole, a very interesting work and serves rather to amuse than to instruct and direct the enquirer after truth. His experiments were good and expressed in beautiful language and with scientific terms. But the error of all his labor was in the first impression from a false cause. He was a believer in the magnetic fluid and endeavored to bring all the facts he discovered under its agency. Like the religionist who first writes out his creed and then bends every possible principle he can discover in the Bible to support a fabric which he has, himself, designed, he appears to be more intent upon settling the question of a fluid agency and bending all his experiments to support his theory, than to branch out in opposition and undertake to prove the falsity of his position.
On page 276, Book fourth, we find the following principle laid down. "First, I affirm that, productive of the effects called mesmeric, there is an action of matter as distinct and specific as that of light, heat, electricity or any other of the imponderable agents, as they are called; that when the mesmerizer influences his patient, he does this by a medium, either known already in other guise or altogether new to our experience.”
What proofs, it will be asked, can I bring forward to this assertion? I answer — such proofs as are considered available in all cases where an impalpable, imponderable medium is to be considered; facts, namely, on certain appearances which, bearing a peculiar character, irresistibly suggest a peculiar cause. Let us take only one of these. Standing at some yards distant from a person who is in the mesmeric state, that person being perfectly stationary and with his back to me, I, by a slight motion of my hand (far too slight to be felt by the patient through any disturbance of the air) draw him towards me, as if I actually grasped him. What is the chain of facts which is here presented to me? First, an action of my mind, without which I could not have moved my hand; secondly, my hand's motion; thirdly, motion produced in a body, altogether external to and distant from myself. But it will at once be perceived that, in the chain of events as thus stated, there is a deficient link. The communication between me and the distant body is not accounted for. How could an act of my mind originate an effect so unusual?
Here then follows the explanation. That which is immaterial cannot, by its very definition, move masses of matter. It is only when mysteriously united to a body that spirit is brought into relationship with place or extension; and under such a condition alone, and only through such a medium, can it propagate motion. Now in some wondrous way, spirit is in us, incorporate. Our bodies are its medium of action. By them, and only by them, as far as our experience reaches, are we enabled to move masses of foreign matter. I may sit and will forever that yonder chair to come to me, but without the direct agency of my body, it must remain where it is. All the willing in the world cannot stir it an inch. I must bring myself into absolute contact with the body which I desire to move.
But in the case before us, I will, I extend my hands, I move them hither and thither, and I see the body of another person — a mass of matter, external to myself, yet not in apparent contact with me — moved and swayed by the same action which stirs my own body. Am I thence to conclude that a miracle has been performed; that the laws of nature have been reversed; that I can move foreign matter, without contact or intermediate agency? Or must I not rather be certain that, if I am able to sway a distant body, it is by means of some unseen lever that volition is employing; something which is equal to a body; something which may be likened to an extended corporeity, which has become the organ of my will?
Here we have the experiment and the explanation. Let us examine the reasoning:
First, "that which is immaterial cannot, by its very definition, move masses of matter. I must bring myself into absolute contact with the body which I desire to move."
The person at a distance is then brought into absolute contact by the agency (or electricity). He "wills, extends his hands and moves them hither and thither," and the patient, at a distance, being in actual contact with him by this electric agency, extends his hands, moves them hither and thither, etc.
The body or arm and hand of the patient is moved by the mind of the operator, just as it acts in his body; electricity being the medium of communication, as though the body of the operator, his mind and the body of the patient are one person.
Now, if electricity or any other fluid can so connect mind and matter, I do not see why we may not connect ourselves with the chair in the supposition above, and mind, with its new organ of contact, will cause the chair to move on the same principle of connection as the body of the patient.
Mind, no doubt, has equal power to connect itself with a chair as with any other material body, by the agency of electricity. The body of the patient, without his mind or acting independently of his own will, as it must, if it were moved by the mind of the operator, would be like every other material thing and susceptible of action upon it by another mind to the same degree as the chair; being no more or less.
And if he proves to you that the motion of the patient's hands is from the same mind as the motion of the operator's, through the agency of electricity, I will as conclusively prove that, by the same agent, your minds may be in absolute contact with any or all material bodies and that you can as easily move the universe of matter by the mind as the body of one man.
But was not the experiment really performed? We answer, yes - without electricity or any other fluid; not by the mind of the operator acting on the body of the patient but upon his mind. It was mind acting upon mind.
The proposition laid down by the Rev. gentleman, i.e. that immateriality cannot move masses of materiality, does not apply to destroy the influence or action of mind, being immaterial, over immaterial mind.
We trust we have shown by such experiments as have been introduced into the former part of this work, the great laws by which such facts are produced; that mind in the excited (or mesmeric) state is present with everything; that space, distance and material objects are no impediments to its action; that it is susceptible of impressions from other minds and will act under such impressions as it receives.
Suppose, then, the operator is impressed to extend his hand; that impression is immediately made upon the mind of his patient, and all the organs of his body, being under this control of his mind, act in conformity to the impression. The distance from the patient is no obstacle, because mind, acting directly without the medium of the bodily senses, knows nothing of space and distance. It only requires direction, and it is present with the object.
If electricity be the lever by which the operator moved the arm of the patient, as asserted by the Rev. Mr. Townshend, we would ask where the fulcrum rests by which he gets his power. It might be answered that it rests where the fulcrum of the globe's foundation was supposed to — upon the back of an enormous tortoise!
We will say, further, that the experiment above could have been performed without the motion of the hand of the operator; by his willing the patient (or impressing his mind) to extend the hand. So that all that is necessary to be done in such experiments is to give an impression to do an act upon the mind of the subject, and the result immediately follows.
"A friend of mine at Cambridge," says the Rev. Mr. Townshend, "was susceptible of being influenced by myself, but transiently and imperfectly; while on the other hand, he was at once and invariably brought into the mesmeric state by being subjected to the action of a young fellow student, who (as to the rest) used no art in his manipulations and merely imitated rudely my proceedings and gestures."
Also the following is extracted from his work on mesmerism. "E. A., whom I could mesmerize in a few seconds, was operated upon for an hour by another person, who in other cases had displayed immense mesmeric power, without experiencing any effect whatever."
Here are two cases directly opposite in their character. The first could only be partially operated upon by an experienced and powerful magnetizer, but a fellow student could throw him into the mesmeric sleep, without exercising the least effort to pass the fluid.
If it had been a fluid, he who knew best how to direct it, of course, would magnetize better than one who neither knew how nor used effort but only imitated the actions of a mesmerizer.
The second case proves conclusively that the fluid by which Mr. Townshend and the powerful magnetizer operated upon their subjects — and of course it must be the same - did not produce a result when under the control of one, which it did under that of the other, upon the same subject. If it was a fluid, why did not the same results follow from the same causes? Both were powerful magnetizers and of course knew how to use and direct the fluid.
From facts like these, Mr. Townshend concludes that it is not the power of the magnetizer but the "proportions between the respective strengths of mesmerizer and patient which insures success and that the less or more on either side would indifferently prevent a perfect result."
So that he has ventured to predict that, in the progress of this science, a "neurometer or instrument to ascertain the nervous power of a person might give to mesmerism that precision which science requires."
We fear, however, that he advanced beyond what we shall ever realize from the fluid theory; that his mind had probably been exhilarated by a surcharge of electricity, which enabled him to predict an event which, if it ever transpires, we think must be very far distant in the future.
We have endeavored in every portion of our work to keep distinctly in view the theory of mind acting upon mind; not through a medium, because we see no necessity of an agent different from itself, but by direct action.
To those who are partial to a theory of fluid and are sincere and, as they say, conscious of the fact, we will remark that, on the whole, we differ but little from them, save in the fluid.
They are obliged to admit that it is often all mind acting upon mind, yet all the followers of Mesmer must complicate this operation by intermixing it with some imponderable agent; as though immateriality cannot act upon immateriality, without the agency of matter.
If mind acts upon mind at all — and we contend it does — without the agency of the bodily senses, we see no reason why it may not act directly, carrying the influence home to the very soul of the subject, as well as to wield the lever of a fluid to make an impression or to mount its thoughts astride of a streak of electricity, to be conveyed to the mind of the subject. It is a little surprising to us, however, that some of the doctors of mesmerism have not put their theory to the test; not by always supposing that a fluid is necessary but by experimenting without the fluid, in such cases as could not have been possible for any fluid to pass. Had this been the case, the theory of a fluid would have been abandoned long ago, for it would have been ascertained that all the fluid which really exists is in the mind of the operator, being like Berkeley's composition of matter; made up of ideas, impressions, etc.
Mesmerism was introduced into the United States by M. Charles Poyen, a French gentleman who did not appear to be highly blessed with the powers of magnetizing to the satisfaction of his audience in his public lectures. I had the pleasure of listening to one of his lectures and pronounced it a humbug, as a matter of course and that his remarkable experiments, which were related, were in my belief, equally true with witchcraft. I had never been a convert to witchcraft nor had ever had any personal interviews with ghosts or hobgoblins and therefore, considered all stories bordering on the marvelous as delusive.
Next came Dr. Collyer, who perhaps did more to excite a spirit of enquiry throughout the community than any who have succeeded him. But the community were still incredulous, and the general eccentricity of his character, no doubt, contributed much to prejudice the minds of his audience against his science.
He, however, like all those who had preceded him on both sides of the water, must have a long handle to his science; namely, a subtle fluid of the nature of electricity. So contrary to all experience did all the facts elicited from his experiments appear, in connection with the laws which govern electricity, that almost every man of science would reject both theory and facts, without a moment's consideration. However, the perseverance of the Dr. overcame, in part, some of the prejudices, and he at last drew out of a committee in the city of Boston an acknowledgment of the facts; although they refrained from any expression of their opinion as to their occasion.
Collyer was, like all others, satisfied as to the fluid, and nothing could be accomplished, without producing a current upon the subject or surcharging him with a quantity of the electric fluid. In a work published by him in 1842, although he is still the advocate of the fluid, yet he rejects the doctrines of Phreno-Magnetism, Neurology, etc., as introduced and defended by Dr. Buchanan and La Roy Sunderland.
The same course which enabled him to detect the fallacy of their theories would have led him, upon pursuing the subject a little further, to have rejected entirely his whole theory of a fluid. He would have looked to another cause of all this phenomenon.
From testimony now before the community, there is no doubt that Collyer performed the first phreno-magnetic experiments in this country and that the honor, if there be any, of the discovery should be yielded to him. It is a matter of little consequence to the community who shall wear the wreath of honor, but we prefer to see the peacock dressed in his own plumage and not bear the shame of a naked plucking by his neighboring fowl.
Dr. Buchanan and the Rev. La Roy Sunderland have claimed the distinguished honor of discovering the sciences of Nervaurics and Phreno-Magnetism. These two sciences (so called), although claimed as distinct, are really regulated by the same laws; not the laws of a nervous fluid or of electricity but by the same great laws as govern all minds in the excited or mesmeric state — mind acting upon mind.
It is the direct influence of the operator upon the subject which produces such results. The exciting of particular organs in the brain by the nervous fluid or by electricity is the principle of these sciences. That is, Dr. Buchanan actually fills up these different organs of the brain, or such of them as he chooses, which produces an over action of these organs. This is done by contact of the fingers upon these bumps of the head.
Dr. Collyer has given a few examples. The following experiments were given before the citizens of Canandaigua, New York:
|ON JOHN PARSHALL|
|Touching organ of:|
|Caution||"Feels like fighting"|
|Firmness||"Firm as a rock"|
|Acquisitiveness||"Smiles and laughs"|
|Destructiveness||"Feels well; is kindly disposed"|
|ON OSCAR NILES|
|Touching organ of:|
|Caution||"Desires to laugh"|
|Benevolence||"Desires to fight"|
|Mirthfulness||"Desires to sing"|
|Veneration||"Desires to walk"|
|Self-esteem||"As big as anyone"|
The examples above show conclusively that there is no truth in the theory. There is no correspondence between the organs touched and the effects, except in a few instances. This would always be the case, unless something actually occurred beside the passage of the fluid into the organ to be excited.
I have personally tried hundreds of experiments, all going to prove not only that there is no such thing as exciting different locations of the head, but that there is no fluid at all. I can perform, and have done so repeatedly, the same experiments as have been done by Dr. Buchanan or La Roy Sunderland, without being near my subject or by contact with any other part of the body than the head. The fingers or toes of any subject are quite as susceptible of excitement from the fluid and of producing all the remarkable phenomena and passions of the mind, as the head.
Phrenologists have laid down only thirty-four different organs; but in the rapid march of the science under the excitement of the nervous fluid or electricity, the number of organs has suddenly increased to upwards of two hundred. What a rapid stride in the progression of the science of Phrenology!
And among these new organs are Felony, Drunkenness, Idiocy, Insanity, etc., etc. What dogies must have been such philosophers as Gall and Spurzheim who, after devoting their whole lives in careful observation, could discover only thirty-four organs in the brain, when these lights of modern genius came puffing by on their fluid cover, upsetting everything which lay before them and only stopping to gather a new recruit of electricity, after having passed over two hundred newly discovered organs in the space of six months.
The science of Neurology, as defended by Dr. Buchanan in a course of lectures delivered in the city of New York about two years since, has been most admirably criticized by a correspondent of the "Magnet," a work edited by La Roy Sunderland, who was the great champion of PhrenoMagnetism. We take pleasure in giving the whole communication, showing, as we think, some of the absurdities there advanced. (From the Magnet, No. 8., January 1841. Copy the correspondence, signed C.)
The excitability of the human brain by nervauric influence will soon be, if it is not already, an exploded idea. There cannot be anything in it. Not that I suppose the experiments which Dr. Buchanan professed to perform were not performed. But on the contrary, I have performed the same class of experiments and am constantly repeating them upon different individuals with whom I meet daily.
Nor do I intend to charge any deception upon Dr. Buchanan designedly practiced upon the community. It is a matter of belief, no doubt, with him; and so believing, he could not perform his experiments without attributing them to the very cause he has selected. But if he should believe it sympathy alone, he might behold the same results on abandoning all fluids; he could operate so as to produce the same phenomena by the direct influence of his mind upon the mind of his patient.
They are a class of mesmeric results performed without a fluid; nervauric, muscular, magnetic, galvanic or electric. It was the impression which his mind made on the mind of his patient. In order to make an impression, it will be necessary for anyone to have full confidence in the means he uses, or no impression will follow.
Phreno-Magnetism is the same thing, in principle, as neurology; and the remarks we have made upon Nervaurics are quite applicable to Phreno-Magnetism. There is no question but certain feelings and conditions of mind corresponding to Benevolence, Neuration, Self-Esteem, Combativeness, etc., may be excited in the mind; but that these organs, as laid down by phrenologists, are magnetized, electrified, galvanized or nervaurised is idle to the wind.
Experiments will always fail, if the operator does not understand the location of these organs; which is conclusive proof against the theory of a fluid and the exciting of particular organs. The subject too, might also, were he acquainted with Phrenology, do much to answer the particular touches of the operator upon different parts of the head; but when the operator and the subject are both unskilled in the science, the experiment will always correspond with the condition of the mind of the operator.
Another fact which I have observed among different operators is that no two locate these organs corresponding to what they wish to show, in the same place. Some locate the organ of Ejection near Caution; others, near Benevolence and others, in different places; all going to show that "there is nothing in a location."
We venture the assertion that, whatever action is produced upon the brain at all during this excited state, results rather from the mind of the subject, whose impressions are received from the mind of the operator.
The Rev. Mr. Dods of Boston, Mass., we believe, deals more extensively in the magnetic fluid than any other magnetizer. We have examined his work upon the subject of mesmerism and can but smile at proofs so conclusively drawn in support of his theory.
A careful reading of the whole work is a comfortable lecturing into a talkative sleep, ending in ethereal and sublime explanations above the capacity of ordinary men. We were somewhat at a loss to determine whether the Rev. gentleman was most profuse in his language or his fluid!
We do not doubt his sincerity in support of his fluid but must wonder at his credulity. It is a strong proof of the wanderings of an excited mind, connected with a strong belief, of the means by which wonderful results are produced.
If we were to take up all the points in his theory and discuss them, we fear our pages would be too voluminous for ordinary purposes and that few would be inclined to pursue the investigation. Dods, like all others who believe in the fluid theory, supposed that something must be the medium of communication between mind and mind and between mind and matter, separate from the bodily senses; and he has at once brought in the aid of a subtle fluid, which pervades all nature.
To introduce the whole theory as it is contended for by most of those who have gone before me, I make the following extract from a pamphlet published in the city of Boston, A.D. 1843, entitled "The History and Philosophy of Animal Magnetism" and dedicated by the author to Robert H. Collyer, M.C., etc. (Copy chap. Fourth)
And who, after such an array of distinguished names, would differ from their established theory! All these men were powerful magnetizers and many of them of the first order of talent; but we fear a little inclined to speculate upon a theory, rather than to elicit facts aside from theory.
We are satisfied that they all believed in the fluid, but what its character is remains to be settled among them, as it seems no two agree to allow it the same name or character. If this "elastic, invisible ether, pervading all nature" causes all these phenomena, it is a God-like power, second only to its author.
That it should operate so mysteriously — sometimes magnetizing individuals by contact and at others, passes through the space of one hundred miles and surcharges the patient and induces the mesmeric state; now made to reside in a letter and again concealing itself in a tumbler of water; passing to the trunk of a tree and from all these, passing out upon a particular individual and inducing the magnetic sleep.
If I could possibly believe in the fluid theory, it would be far more marvelous and astonishing to trace out such laws as must govern this "invisible ether" than the experiments which follow. Or perhaps it may be a principle, without the pale of the law, governing itself under the direction of the operator; in part, at some times and at others, entirely at its own control.
Some of the theories of the old philosophers who wrote upon the subject of the soul appear to us rather speculative. Fire and other imponderable agents, so-called, were made, not the connecting link of soul and body but the soul, itself. Tracing the analogy of their ideas down to those of the fluid system, we cannot see why this fluid might not be the soul, itself.
It is the means, we are taught, through which the mind acts; and we are to suppose, of course, that it cannot act at all, except through the fluid, when the bodily senses are closed. It may then be either the soul, itself, or a necessary appendage; without which, although the soul might exist, it could not act or give any evidence of its existence.
The same author from whom we have quoted the fluid theory makes the following remarks, in defense of his theory against the powers of imagination:
"We disapprove this charge at once," (that it is all the work of imagination) "by the fact that a person who has been magnetized several times can be thrown into the magnetic sleep by the magnetizer, when he is at a distance of half a mile and at a moment when the person to be acted upon shall not even suspect it. This has been done successfully by a person who did not even know where the subject of his operations was at the time he made the attempt."
Now upon the principle of a fluid to be "directed upon the brain of the subject," how is it possible that direction can be given, when the operator is ignorant of the location of his subject; and how is it possible that this fluid can be made to pass through so great a distance?
If the experiment above alluded to has been performed, could it have been done by the fluid? If by a fluid, how could the operator so direct it as to strike upon the brain of the subject, when he was ignorant of his situation? How could he give effectual direction, without knowing where to direct! And then the fluid is to pass through the space of half a mile, before it can act upon the subject.
If such an experiment as the above can be performed (and we know personally it can) with the fluid and not without it, we certainly must assign the power of intelligence to the fluid; and it, being commanded by the mind of the operator to go in search of his subject and induce sleep, etc., obeys its master.
Such experiments as the above prove one of two things; namely, either that there is no fluid by which a communication is effected between mesmerizer and mesmerized or that this fluid is an intelligent being, capable of thought itself.
We contend that there is no fluid in the case. If others believe there is and that it is capable of receiving intelligence and obeying commands, we are not accountable for such belief; but we leave the community, who read and think, the sole of judging which theory - fluid or no fluid, appears the most consistent.
I have performed a similar experiment upon my subject Lucius, at a distance, sometimes knowing where he was and sometimes, not knowing. Yet I did not use any fluid, to my knowledge.
We have, in another part of this work, alluded to the experiment of the magnetized trees, the experiments before the Committee at Paris, France, in proof that no fluid was in the tree and communicated to the subject. I will again repeat the experiment in substance.
The subject was blindfold and led up to a magnetized tree and immediately fell into the magnetic sleep. Being again blindfold was, without his knowledge, led up to a tree not magnetized and also fell into the magnetic sleep; proving conclusively that there was the same virtue in the magnetized and the natural tree.
There is another class of subjects introduced by magnetizers in proof of a magnetic fluid. Some are in the habit of giving their subjects a magnet by which they are thrown into the magnetic sleep. This experiment is explained by attributing the power to the magnet of communicating the fluid to the subject, etc.
I have repeatedly magnetized subjects by any little metallic article, presenting it to them after having imbued it with the fluid. I have also performed the same experiment by passing to them a similar article, not imbued with my fluid, and it produced the same results. I took two combs belonging to two ladies present and magnetized one of them, (that is, went through all the ceremony of magnetizing it), and the other, I only took and passed back to the lady, without any operation upon it, and both ladies were thrown into the magnetic sleep by these combs.
The lady who received the comb not magnetized was ignorant of that fact and on the contrary, believed it magnetized. Perkin's metallic points are celebrated among mesmerizers and were considered sacred proofs of the fluid theory. Yet after they had their run, some cunning wag introduced wooden points, so neatly counterfeiting the metallic in their appearance that they would effect the same results upon a patient as the genuine points.
I recollect a young man who, in company with Dr. Cutter, the famed lecturer in this part of Maine, visited this place; and being an easy subject to mesmerize, as a matter of defense against the influence of powerful magnetizers, carried with him a magnet, believing it to be a safe preventive against all magnetic power. When armed with his magnet, no one could magnetize him; but without it, almost anyone could induce sleep.
If by some artful management, we could have induced him to believe his magnet absent, although it might have been concealed about him, we venture to say that he would have been quite as easily operated upon, as if his magnet had really been absent.
The truth is that it was a matter of belief with the subject, and he governed himself, accordingly. If I could induce him to believe that magnetism or the magnet had nothing to do with mesmerism or the excited state of mind called mesmeric, then the charm of the magnet would be broken.
The Rev. Mr. Dods has become so confident of a fluid medium of mind and its similarity to electricity, that he has found it convenient, and perhaps companionable, to carry about with him, when upon his tours of lecturing, an Electric Machine; and I believe he makes it an associate or assistant in throwing subjects into the magnetic state.
If this fluid be electricity, we do not see why Mr. Dods could not, with his machine, surcharge a whole audience with a few turns of the handle, by placing them in contact with its power.
We have witnessed the experiments of persons standing upon a glass stool and receiving a surcharge of electricity, so that sparks might be seen to emit from various parts of their body; yet we saw no signs of magnetic sleep. Now if this fluid be electricity, it does appear to me that the Electric Machine would be the very first power by which subjects could be magnetized.
While in the city of Boston about one year since, I met with a friend who began to question me as to the tricks I am playing in magnetism, and as we continued our conversation some time, he suddenly turned his head, and after a few moments pause, charged me with an attempt to magnetize him!
I did not let him know, but it was so. In truth, however, I did not think of it, until after he named it. I state this experiment to show that I did not designedly use any fluid; indeed, could not have given direction to any, but the result upon my friend was just the same, no doubt, as though I had really sat down with the intention of performing an operation.
This was the belief which he exercised in his mind; that I was trying my powers upon him, and he became excited and partially yielded. I do not think I exerted any power to control him, yet he felt a power which he believed proceeded from me, and it began to induce the mesmeric state into which he was passing.
A friend of mine, a powerful magnetizer who called on me not long since, operated upon a young lady in my family and threw her into the mesmeric sleep. He was a firm believer in the magnetic fluid, and everything was done according to the law supposed to govern it.
I began to exercise the power of my mind over the subject, and she would readily obey me. Desiring her to come to me, she immediately turned her head and was about to rise, when her operator, observing the movement, began to cut off the fluid with his hand, so as to shut out the power I was gaining over her. I ceased trying to impress her mind with the desire of coming to me, and she turned back.
During the same sleep, I exercised a control over her, which was observed by the operator, and when he discovered it, awoke her, saying it was very dangerous mixing up the fluids of different magnetizers upon the subject, at the same time.
I could not induce him to go on with his experiments and was obliged to do what I could to show that there was no danger from mixing up fluids, etc., or that all the danger arising in the case would be from the fear and belief of the mesmerizer.
I then performed a few experiments and requested him to exercise all his fluid power to counteract them. I am unable to say whether the fear of disturbing the fluid did not prevent him from making an effort, for all my experiments succeeded.
Steel and various kinds of metal are supposed to have powerful influence over subjects in the mesmeric sleep. Experiments have been introduced to prove the supposition. Some operators cannot exercise their magnetic powers, if they have about them steel or silver. This is also a matter of belief.
If an operator believes he cannot make an impression upon his subject while this or that metallic substance is about him, then as a matter of course, he will not; but remove what he thinks is the difficulty, and then mind acts in full faith and produces a full and decided expression.
I recollect that when I first began to magnetize, I had all this horrid fear about the influence of metal, steel, silver, etc., upon the subjects; and being a full believer then in the fluid theory, supposed some strange connection in all metallic substances with the magnetized subjects.
Having on a certain occasion put my subject into sleep, after surcharging him with the fluid, a young lady present held her scissors pointing directly towards the head of the subject. Upon my first observing it, I was excited, fearing some bad result. The impression was conveyed to the mind of the subject, and all the consequences I feared would result, followed. This to my mind, at that time, was conclusive proof of the power of certain metallic substances, highly magnetic, upon a subject.
I have had very many excellent experiments in Phreno-Magnetism, exciting the organs by pointing a steel rod pointed at one end to the supposed location, believing the fluid passed out of myself through this rod into the organ. When I held the sharp point of the rod towards the organ, the subject would immediately arouse and answer to the direction; but if I held the blunt end, it would not affect him.
This to me, as I was trying my experiments to prove whether there was any fluid or not, was strong testimony in favor of the fluid system. I had supposed there must be some agent to bring out such results and immediately embraced the theory adopted by most magnetizers, for want of something better.
Having adopted, as a matter of belief, an agent by which I could bring about this excited state of mind, I had assigned it certain laws, such as I knew to govern electricity. I had all the faith to produce a result, when I directed the pointed end to the organ I wished to excite; but when I reversed the point and presented the blunt end, I did not suppose for an instant that the excitement would follow. So the results corresponded with my own feelings.
I have witnessed the same experiments performed by other magnetizers, and they always advance such facts as I have named as conclusive proofs of a fluid theory. Since I have abandoned the fluid theory, I find no difficulty in using either end of the steel rod, or use no rod at all; and placing myself at a respectable distance from the subject, can produce the same results as I did when the steel rod and fluid theory were the only means of my operation.
When in the city of Boston with my subject, one of the most powerful magnetizers put my subject into the magnetic sleep and proceeded with his experiments in phreno-magnetics to convince me that the organs were excited by a fluid. He remained in contact with the subject and directed his fluid with the points of his fingers. I was sitting in the room at some distance from the scene of operation and exerted myself to counteract the impression given by the operator. The operator's experiments all failed, although he was in contact with the subject, and as he supposed, was filling up his head with the electric or magnetic fluid.
I also entertained the same idea with other magnetizers about the condition of the atmosphere as being favorable or unfavorable to successful experiments. I could always, under this belief, succeed better in fine, clear weather. Indeed, my experiments seldom succeeded in a dull and cloudy atmosphere.
I had been giving some very interesting experiments during one evening and did not know but the atmosphere was clear and bright, as when I entered the hall. At the close of the experiments, I was astonished to learn that, for the last two hours, during the time of my best experiments, the atmosphere had been cloudy and that rain had been falling. This circumstance was one of the first which led to the rejection of the fluid theory.
I believed in the power to mesmerize a tumbler of water which, upon being drunk, would throw the patient into the magnetic sleep, and have often amused my audience by this simple experiment. I supposed I did imbue the water with some new virtue, and this was also the belief of the subject, and the results followed, as I had anticipated.
The experiment of the silk handkerchief has been one I have performed repeatedly. I would magnetize the handkerchief and pass it to the subject, and it would induce the mesmeric sleep. I was so confident in the fluid theory and that silk would affect its operation that on one occasion, when I had put my subject to sleep, and a lady was sitting nearby dressed in silk, his hands and feet were extended towards her dress.
These simple facts all went to confirm me in the belief of the fluid theory. Yet I have been compelled to reject them all; and I find there is no difficulty in producing the same results with a tumbler of clear water, as when I have surcharged it with magnetic fluid or with a silk handkerchief in its natural state, as when magnetized. And I can, with all safety, allow ladies to sit near my subject in silk apparel, without any fear of distracting his slumber.
I have magnetized a cedar twig and given it to my subject, and he would immediately pass into the magnetic state. I have also given him other articles and told him I had magnetized them, although I had not; yet he would pass into sleep, as before.
We might multiply simple cases of this class to a very great number, but all of them would terminate as those I have mentioned. I have performed them with the fluid and have done the same, without it.
It has sometimes been supposed that subjects are not susceptible of influence from the operator, only in the sleeping state. This is not so.
Dr. Buchanan, although a devoted advocate of the fluid, has given many experiments in proof of a controlling power, which the operator may have over the subject. It is, with me, my daily practice to perform most of my experiments when the subject could not know, in his waking moments, my wishes; while to all appearance, he is not influenced by anyone.
I have frequently extended my power to impress upon the mind of some person in my presence a wish to do something, keeping distinctly in my mind what I would have him do. And the subject would soon do the very act which I had wished to bring about.
I have frequently operated upon a subject in his waking state, producing certain feelings in him, corresponding to my own; have relieved pain in hundreds of instances to the benefit and happiness of persons under my influence; have relieved headache and pain in any part of the body.
As I was writing a few sentences above, an individual called on me and stated that his foot was very painful to him, and if I could ease the pain and adding that he did not believe I could; that he would not deny the fact and should be a believer in mesmerism. I operated upon his foot and relieved the pain. He acknowledged the fact and began, he said, to be a little more serious.
Apolonius of Tyana, Emanuel Swedenborg, Mahomet and others had the power of inducing this state of the mind upon themselves. This is a further and conclusive proof against a fluid theory.
Another individual present, who began to ridicule the fact and made some strong remarks against any power I might exercise over him, desired me to make a simple experiment upon his foot and leg. I immediately wrote upon a piece of paper, not letting anyone know the writing, and laid it down upon the table and told him I had written upon that paper what kind of a sensation I would produce upon his foot and leg.
I commenced the operation, and in about two minutes, he said his foot and leg began to prickle and felt as though it was going to sleep. I handed him the paper, and he read just what he had felt.
Some have replied to similar experiments above that they were the results of imagination. We reply that the subject did not know what kind of a sensation we should produce and therefore, could not imagine in the case. To him it was a reality, because he felt the prickling sensation and did not imagine that I was going to produce it.
I have frequently taken persons and endeavored to produce a warm or cold sensation upon their limbs, without their knowledge and have succeeded in bringing about my wishes.
A certain physician, who was a complete skeptic, and perhaps more in a jocose manner than otherwise, invited me to visit one of his patients. I complied, and after looking at the patient and fixing her attention upon me, took the physician outside and told him what sort of a sensation I would produce upon her.
We returned to her, and I commenced impressing her mind with the same feeling I had named to the physician. She immediately complained of being cold and trembling, which was the very feeling I had been trying to produce. The physician, I presume, will recollect the circumstance and vouch for the fact.
We might fill up our pages with hundreds of experiments, similar to those we have given and all performed in the same manner.
Perhaps my readers may, at this point, enquire in what manner all these simple experiments are performed. It is simply this.
I first get the attention of my subject, endeavoring to exclude all other external influences and drawing their mind to myself. I then work up the sensation I wish to produce upon my subject in my own mind, and it is immediately communicated to that of the subject, and a correspondent feeling will be the result.
It is the simple process of mind acting upon mind. It is necessary to draw the attention of the subject to myself, in order to receive the impression, because no one could receive impressions from external objects, unless he should give his attention to them.
The public speaker makes it the first object to gain the attention of his audience and then proceeds to reason out the whole subject; and they are also prepared to go on with the speaker and receiving corresponding emotions with him. So in mesmerizing, some powerful impression must be produced to draw the attention of the subject and exclude other external influences, and then the mind is prepared for further action.
All these simple experiments can be more easily performed if the subject is told what result you desire to effect; yet they can be performed, and I have repeatedly given them, without any knowledge of my desire having been communicated to the subject.
In the town of Skowhegan, on the banks of the Kennebec, I met with a young man, deaf and dumb, but was a very sensitive subject and easily operated upon in his waking moments. I requested him to sit down and place his hand upon the table, and count by raising his hand up and down. I then asked someone to direct me to stop him, when he had made a certain number of counts; naming to me the number.
When he had made the particular counts, I willed him to stop, and he did so. I then impressed his mind with the desire to walk back and forth upon the floor, and he arose and commenced walking. A gentleman asked me to stop him when he arrived at a certain point, and I exercised my power upon his mind, and he stopped instantly at the very point.
I then desired him to speak to me, and he made a noise. I made a stronger impression upon his mind to speak louder, and he made a stronger effort to talk; graduating his effort and raising his voice (or noise), with my thoughts impressing him to speak louder or softer. Someone then asked him in writing if he heard me speak, and he answered that his “mind heard." And so it is.
The mind hears, sees, feels and causes every action of the body. And impressions are conveyed directly upon the mind, when the attention is given to the operator in such a manner as to shut out all other influences. And to produce these impressions and sensations when the mind of the subject is thus prepared, the operator must produce, in himself, the same sensation which he would communicate to the subject.
The experiments last mentioned upon the deaf and dumb young man were performed without the subject knowing, by any of his outward senses, what I could design. I was behind the subject and out of his sight during the most part of the experiments. I took every precaution in this case, as I have done repeatedly, to place the experiments upon such a basis that no one could attribute them to the imagination.
A young lady, who was passing some time at my house during the past season, was sitting in the keeping room, and I was in one of my chambers with my little daughter. I requested my daughter to go down into the keeping room, and tell the young lady I wished her to give her attention to me for a few minutes; that I wished to perform some experiments upon her. I also requested my daughter to remain with her, and see what they were.
I then commenced the operation of my mind, to paralyze one of her limbs. In a few minutes, her foot moved out and became entirely paralyzed. I then willed her to rise and walk, and she immediately obeyed, saying to my daughter, "Your father desires me to walk, and it is impossible for me to resist."
I willed her to come to the chamber door; that I had something to say to her. She then asked my daughter if her father did not speak. Upon her replying that he did not, she said, "He did and wishes to tell me something." She came to my door and asked me if I did not speak to her. I replied that I did - in my mind, but not with my voice. She could not believe that she did not hear my voice.
These experiments were done in the evening, and my wife being absent, I told her that I should will her to ask my wife a question when she returned, but would not tell her what it should be. Wishing to see how far I could carry out this principle of operating upon her mind directly, I willed her to ask my wife if she had turned the cat outdoors. In two hours from that time, my wife came in, and as she came upstairs, she enquired if she had turned the cat outdoors.
Such experiments as I have named above, and others of the same character, I have performed upon subjects in their waking state. I find, however, but few persons who are very susceptible of such impressions; yet I have given them before so many persons that they, by those who witnessed them, cannot be disputed.
During my public exhibitions, I have practiced my subject, after the evening's exhibition is nearly closed, in similar experiments. I have left him and passed into another room and requested someone to tell me which of his arms to paralyze. Having directed me, he would return to my subject and request him to give his attention to me; that I was about to perform an experiment upon one of his limbs, arms or legs, not allowing him to know which. Soon the arm which I was requested to affect would become paralyzed.
Such experiments I have given to the public on many occasions. It is more difficult to influence the mind in the waking state than when mesmerized. Yet these experiments were done when he was awake.
My reader may enquire whether such experiments are not all the influence of the imagination. We reply that they are not imaginary, but real. The impressions received by the subject are real and not imaginary, and the results are also real and not imaginary. The arm or foot does become paralyzed, and there is no imagination about it.
If it were the result of an excited imagination, the sequences could not be real. In the case of my subject, how could he know which arm I intended to operate upon? If he imagined, he could not produce the paralysis; and therefore, no one can attribute it to imagination.
We have given our views more at length upon what we consider the power of imagination in another part of this work and shall not now go into a discussion of the subject so particularly. The distinction, however, is very clear between real and imaginary experiments or states of mind.
If I act from an impression upon my mind, which I believe to be true, there is no imagination about the transaction. If I create an impression in my own mind, which I know to be from a false cause, or if I receive an impression and know it to be the result of my imagination, it could not further affect me.
Suppose I imagined that my arm was paralyzed. Would that state of the mind bring about the real condition, which I imagined? And if to me who imagined it, it should appear real, which circumstance would only be after the continuance of the imagination, would this imaginary condition of mind appear real to an individual who might be standing by?
If it were the result of my imagination, it would not appear real to a disinterested bystander. And if it should appear and really be paralyzed, and hundreds of individuals should witness the fact, I presume that these individuals would not be willing to ascribe it to the powers of imagination.
Indeed, a man might imagine a thousand things, none of which would turn out to be true, because there is no truth in imagination. Men often act from false causes; not, however, false in appearance to them. The impressions they receive, of course, are real; and we cannot ascribe results from such real impressions as flowing from an excited imagination.
These experiments then, are real; flowing from real impressions which are produced by causes which appear real, and are so, to the subject; although the operator may have produced the cause without a real existent object. It is then imaginary to the operator, but reality to the subject.
Clairvoyance is also an excited state of the mind, which enables the subject to see objects with an independent power of sight, without the use of the bodily eyes. It also implies the capacity to see every object to which the mind's attention is called, whether present or distant.
We have alluded to this state or capacity of mind in many of our experiments, but have not spoken of this power disconnected with other experiments. We recur to the subject again, to assert our belief in such a power, founded on facts which have come under our own observation and which we have been enabled to give to the public.
Thought-reading, itself, is more astounding, perhaps, than seeing independent of the organ of sight. Yet in the present state of the world, men who have witnessed these phenomena all agree that subjects in the mesmeric state will read the thoughts of those who are in communication with them. And by some it is asserted that this is all which constitutes clairvoyance.
We however, rely upon facts, which have not been controverted and cannot be explained on other principles than that the mind does possess the independent power of sight. We shall give a few examples illustrating this part of our subject and then proceed to show why so much reliance cannot be placed in the subject as is desirable, while exercising this faculty.
On a certain occasion, I took my subject to Brunswick, entered the college grounds, passed into the Anatomical Cabinet, and requested him to pass 'round the room and describe to me everything he saw, which arrested his attention. He commenced on the left, as you pass into the room, and described many things which I knew to be there. But there was one curiosity which he named with the rest, of which I had no recollection, and I was quite confident he had made a mistake.
I had occasion to visit Brunswick in a few days, and to satisfy my curiosity, called at the Anatomical Cabinet and found everything in precisely the same order as he had described them. The curiosity, of which I knew nothing, was there; and he must have actually seen it, or he could not have described it. It was not embraced in my thoughts, and the subject was perfectly ignorant of the existence of an Anatomical Cabinet connected with Bowdoin College, and had never been within thirty miles of the town.
On another occasion a friend of mine was in communication with a subject who had been excited (or mesmerized) and directed him to go to such a house, being occupied by a friend of his, and describe to him every particular about its external appearance. He did so, and in this minute description, was particular to speak of a peculiarity about that portion which was not in view of the street. After the experiment was over, my friend stated that he had given a correct description of the house, except the peculiarity of which we have spoken, and remarked that he was mistaken in that.
About a month after this, I met this same friend, and he related to me that my subject was correct in his description of the house; even to the peculiarity. He had visited the house, and upon examination, everything was found to agree with the minute description given by my subject.
During the winter of 1843, I visited Wiscasset with my subject and lectured before an audience and gave experiments illustrating my theory of mesmerism. After putting my subject into the clairvoyant state, a gentleman by the name of Clark was placed in communication with him.
Mr. Clark directed him to find the barque, on board of which was his son. He immediately saw the barque, described the vessel minutely, gave a general description of the Captain and Mate; and his son asked the Captain what time he would arrive in New York and received the answer, which he communicated to Mr. Clark in the presence of the whole audience.
I left Wiscasset on the following day and visited Bath. In a few days, I returned to Wiscasset and gave further experiments. Mr. Clark was again placed in communication with him and directed him to find the same vessel. He did so, and said she was hauling in to the wharf on dock in New York City at that moment, and that she arrived on such a day.
Upon making a calculation about the arrival of the mail, it was found that the news of her arrival would reach Wiscasset on the following day. When the mail came, many persons who had witnessed the experiment were at the post office, anxiously waiting the news and to test the truth of clairvoyance. The news was received of the barque's arrival, corresponding with the information communicated on the evening before, by my subject. This circumstance was related in the newspaper printed at Wiscasset at the time.
On another occasion, I placed my subject in communication with a gentleman who was an entire stranger to me, and he took him to a certain bridge. My subject saw the bridge and described it very particularly. The gentleman gave up the subject and declared to the audience that the description was incorrect, and he could not do anything with my subject at clairvoyance.
On the following day, I met the same gentleman, and he assured me that my subject was correct, according to what he had learned since last evening; that the bridge had been rebuilt since he had seen it and many material alterations made, such as my subject described.
We would remark here that many experiments of a similar character have been set down at the time as a partial failure, but that it was ascertained afterwards that the communicants were in the error and that the subject was correct.
My subject was placed in communication with a lady who directed him to her father's house, which he described with particularity, even noticing the closets and doors and often giving a description of each member of the family, said there was an old lady sitting in the corner with a pair of spectacles over her eyes and that she was knitting.
The lady immediately wrote home and ascertained that, at the time named by my subject, there was such an individual present in the room, answering to the description of my subject, and that she was also knitting.
While in Bangor, a lady was put in communication with my subject and requested him to go with her. He complied and described a certain house and the flower-garden about it; even the shape of the flower beds. While he was going on with the description, he exclaimed at the top of his lungs, "Get out, get out!"
She enquired what he saw, and he replied that there was a great dog digging up one of the beds and destroying the flowers. He also asked the lady if she did not see him; that he should think she might, as the dog had made so large a hole!
This house and garden was situated in Gardiner. The lady immediately wrote to G. and received an answer that my subject was correct; that there was a dog which did actually dig into one of the beds and destroy the flowers. Some time after this, I met one of the ladies of the house at Gardiner, who related to me the same facts.
During a session of the District Court in this village in 1842, some curiosity was exhibited among many distinguished gentlemen present to witness some of my experiments. I called on Judge Allen and found Gov. Anderson, Judge Briggles, the Rev. Mr. Hodgsdon and others present.
Several experiments were performed. The Rev. Mr. Hodgsdon, being placed in communication with my subject, took him to Dexter where his family were then residing. He described the house and family and said there was a small child sick, lying in the cradle; that Mrs. Hodgsdon said the child was getting better, etc.
Mr. Hodgsdon corrected Lucius, and told him that he was mistaken about the cradle; that there was no cradle in the house. Lucius replied that there was and that the child was lying in it; and he would not yield to Mr. Hodgsdon's correction.
The following day, he returned to his family and found that Lucius was correct; that a cradle had been borrowed of one of his neighbors and that the child was lying in it, was getting better, etc., just as had been related by my subject.
While in the city of Boston, Dr. W________ performed an experiment with my subject; took him to his father's house, and he described many things and said they were roasting beef in the kitchen. This was in the evening and seemed rather singular that beef-roasting should be going on at that time.
The Dr. visited his father's the following day, being Thanksgiving, and learned that what my subject had said was true.
A gentleman in this village, who was given a little to skepticism towards clairvoyance, although he was confident of the power of thought-reading, requested me to call at his office with my subject at such an hour. In the meantime, he had been to his house and requested his wife to arrange something in a certain room, different from what it was then, and not let him know what the change was to be.
The gentleman returned to his office, and the room was put in order. My subject was taken to the room and described all the particulars, which the gentleman found to be correct upon his return. I took him to the room, myself, and he asked me if I heard what the lady said. I enquired what it was, and he replied, "She says, 'I wish he would come, if he is coming. I wonder if he is here now.'"
This was found to be the conversation of the lady while in the room at the time my subject was there, directed to her mother, who was also present.
A lady who had been frequently thrown into the mesmeric state by me, desired to be directed to Boston and ascertain when her son, who was residing there, would be home. I mesmerized her and directed her to Boston. She visited her son and asked him when he would be in Belfast. He answered her on such a day, which proved to be correct.
I also, on another occasion, took her to Boston to see her son. She said he had left in the schooner, Comet. I then directed her to find the Comet. She did and said it was just at that time coming out of a certain harbor, giving the name; and that she would arrive in Belfast on such a night, and that he would be home on the following morning, after her arrival. He came, according to her prediction.
These experiments are introduced to prove true clairvoyance; that the subject does actually see objects which do not exist in the mind of the operator and of which the operator could have no knowledge; that there is something in all these facts seen independent of any other power than independent sight.
Every experiment develops something which is found to be true and cannot be explained upon the principle of thought-reading. We say, then, that the mind is capable of such excitement, or of attaining to a state in which it may see without bodily eyes; and also be present with all things at the same instant.
In other words, to the mind, independent of the body, there is no such impediment as time, space, distance and materiality; but that it only requires direction, and all its inherent faculties are in operation, giving its attention to the object to which it has been directed.
The eye, ear, nose, sense of touch or the tongue is nothing, except as they convey, in our natural state, certain sensations to the mind, from which a peculiar state of emotions arise.
The faculty of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch exists in the mind, independent of the organs by which objects are communicated to these faculties. And cut off these organs or appendages, and then mind acts directly, or receives its impressions directly, from external and internal objects.
If then, you institute a peculiar state of the mind called mesmeric, and close up the bodily eyes, the faculty of the mind does not cease to act. It is rather, in part, freeing the soul from its narrow confinement in the sphere of acquiring knowledge through the limited means of the eye, and giving it a range of sight, limited only by the laws of mind, and not the laws of matter.
It returns more like itself, when it shall have been entirely divested of man's materiality and left free, not to roam throughout the ranges of thought, but to be existent, with all its original faculties in full display; with all the creations of the Great First Cause.
We have given experiments to show the position we have taken; experiments which we challenge the world to gainsay and which we cannot explain by any other principles than these we have laid down as governing the mind at all times, under similar circumstances.
We say conclusive proofs are given in these facts of the mind's capacity to see through all space, or to be present with all things in the universe and behold them, independent of the bodily eye and independent of the knowledge of the operator.
The question then arises, “Will the subject, at all times, act and see independent of the operator and state the true condition of the object to which their attention is called?”
I answer, “They will not,” and that experiments of this character often fail. But this does not arise from the inability of the subject to see and relate the facts; but from the controlling influence of the operator over the mind of the subject, which induces the subject to describe the thoughts and ideas of the individual in communication with him, rather than to look to the object or scene, itself, and describe from actual view.
It appears to be an easier task for a subject under the control of an individual to read the thoughts of his controller about certain things, than to describe such things from actual sight.
I will relate an experiment here which I tried when I first began to magnetize.
I had been out during the evening, giving some private experiments, and on returning home, lost my pocket handkerchief. I heard nothing from it for more than a week. I then magnetized my subject and requested him to find it. He told me where I could find it; described the individual who picked it up in the street, and told where it was found.
The next morning, I saw an individual answering to the description and enquired of him if he had found a handkerchief, and he replied that he had and told me when and where; which was precisely as my subject had told me.
Flushed with my success in this experiment, I adopted the rule that my subject would, under all circumstances in the mesmeric state, find anything which might be lost. My faith was unbounded with my new discovery, and I began to dream of hidden treasures and mountain views and diamonds in the desert, when lo! — the very next experiment I made was a total failure!
This drove me back again into the real world, and I was obliged to feel along slowly and cautiously to discover the cause of my disaster. It was in part owing to the influence I exercised over my subject; compelling him to read my thoughts, rather than to give me the real state of things, and partly from the condition of the subject, not having passed into the high clairvoyant state.
We will give a few experiments in thought-reading and show when we are sometimes deceived in our experiments.
I mesmerized my subject in private and resolved to try experiments in thought-reading and satisfy myself as to the power of a subject to describe the thoughts of another. I commenced by bringing before my mind a house, which he immediately saw and described, according to my thought. I then would imagine a cat and a dog, and my subject would answer instantly, as the image was formed in my mind. I then brought before me a whole caravan of animals of various classes and sizes, commencing with a platoon of elephants, then lions, tigers, rhinocerous, camels, monkeys, baboons, etc.
My subject would, without hesitation, describe them as they arose in thought in my mind. I would think of an army of officers and soldiers passing in review, and he would relate all my thoughts. I would imagine a person coming, who was well-known to my subject, and he would call him by name.
And a host of such experiments were performed, which would fill a volume; all going to show with what accuracy and rapidity he would read my thoughts.
In my public exhibitions, I have given experiments of the same character.
On one occasion, a lady requested me to place her in communication with my subject. I gave her a seat on the stage and requested my subject to go to Michigan, where the lady said her husband was, and find the lady's husband. He did so, and gave a very minute description of the gentleman; stated how long he had been there, named his occupation and that he had written a letter to his wife, and told the contents of the letter.
This was done in the presence of a large audience; many of whom were acquainted with the facts and did testify to the truth of his disclosure. The lady, I will state, did not speak while my subject was going on with his description, and she and her husband were entire strangers to me and my subject.
During a session of the Supreme Court in Belfast, Judge Tenney presiding, there was some little excitement upon the subject of mesmerism. Judge Tenney was anxious to witness a few experiments. I called at his room one evening, and I placed my subject, after I had mesmerized him, under his control.
The Judge wrote on a piece of paper, folded it up, and held it in his hand. He then requested my subject to go with him to a certain house and asked him whom he saw. He exclaimed it was a little deformed man and described him, giving his height and appearance.
The Judge then handed me the paper, and upon it was written that he had a brother who was deformed, etc., giving a description very similar to that of my subject.
R. B. Allyn, Esq., of this village, was desirous of satisfying himself as to my subject's power of thought-reading. He named the experiment he was going to try to no one, but carefully wrote a description of a large house he was going to imagine and filed the description in his drawer, not allowing anyone to know its contents.
He described a sign over the door with the word "abandoned" written upon it. He also located the house on his own premises below the village, upon which there is no building. After I had placed him in communication with my subject, he put this question to him. "Will you go with me?" — not stating where. He answered, "Yes."
"Now Lucius, can you tell me what I am looking at?"
He replied, "A large house."
"Be particular, and describe the house and the grounds around it."
Lucius immediately proceeded to give a description of the house, observed the sign over the door, and read off the word "abandoned," and described its location and the appearance of the lands about it. Mr. Allyn then took from his drawer the paper containing the description of the house, corresponding precisely with that given by Lucius; and even to the word “abandoned” written upon the sign.
While in the city of Boston, some young gentlemen of my acquaintance called on me and desired to see some private experiments. I complied and placed my subject, after mesmerizing him, in communication with several of them. One of them, however, did not succeed well in what he designed to bring before my subject. Indeed, a total failure attended every effort he made in this experiment.
I took the young gentleman to one side and requested him to relate to me what experiment he wished Lucius to perform. He complied and said he was trying to bring a gentleman by the name of Lowel, of Ellsworth, before his mind; that Lucius might describe him.
It so happened that I was acquainted with Lowel, and my subject had also seen him. I returned to my subject and imagined the gentleman coming towards me in his peculiar manner of walking. Lucius soon described him and said it was Esq. Lowel, of Ellsworth.
This was true thought-reading; only describing my own ideas.
Individuals have presented a box containing various articles and requested my subject to describe them. This he would do with accuracy, either from reading the thoughts of those who presented it, they knowing what it contained; or from actually seeing the articles themselves, by an independent power of sight.
So in almost all the experiments we have related in thought-reading, the subject may be said to either describe the thoughts of those around him or to actually see and describe the persons and objects, themselves.
Where an explanation may be given in thought-reading or clairvoyance, it is difficult and perhaps impossible to tell from which the subject acts. And perhaps he may be governed in part by one power and in part, by the other. We think this fact will explain much of the difficulty which attends experiments in true clairvoyance.
Another cause of failure and which is in close connection with this part of our subject is that a subject will often be influenced in his description and conduct by an association of ideas, which leads him astray, and to talk often upon some subject entirely foreign to that which was first presented.
I will give one example illustrating my ideas upon this subject, and it will correspond precisely with what I have before remarked in this work, when speaking upon the principles of association.
Two individuals come into my room and see a large book upon my table. Both observe it and thoughts arise; or impressions are received, which give rise to trains of thought. But each has his peculiar train, different from the other, although the same book gave rise to each train.
One will be reminded of a similar book, which he saw in a certain place at such a time, and what transpired in connection with it. The other would, perhaps, be reminded of something very unlike the book itself; perhaps a person, a country, a city, an army or almost any idea of thought different from the other.
So that if you enquire of each about what train of thought arose upon seeing the book, they would name something entirely different. The application of this principle to mesmerized subjects is this.
Subjects sometimes are in such a condition that, upon receiving a first impression, their mind is immediately led off upon such objects or transactions as are associated with this first impression; and if you request them to describe the object which caused this first impression, the rapidity of thought is such that they would be quite as likely to describe some portion of the train of thought which follows, as the object itself.
On this principle, a subject might not describe either the object itself, nor read the thoughts of those around him, but describe minutely an idea of their own creation or association, which follows in the train of thought first set in motion by the object to which one had called the attention of the subject.
As though I beheld a book, and a train of thought commences which leads me to think of some friend, almost at the same instant which I beheld the book. Someone who had called my attention to the book would ask me to describe it, and if I should then proceed to describe my friend about whom I was thinking, by the time the question should be put, instead of the book — this would be a parallel case to a mesmerized mind governed by the same principle.
We have heard of men; indeed, witnessed ourselves the act, who in their natural state, reply to questions without giving the correct answer, but speak of something brought to the mind by the question; although one observing could not discover any relation between the answer given and the question put.
On a certain occasion I magnetized my subject and directed him to go to such a well and measure accurately the depth of the water. He did so, and told to one-fourth of an inch the depth of the water. This was independent sight, because I did not know anything in relation to the well.
Now if I had known how deep the water was and thought it, and the subject had described my thoughts and given the true depth — this would be thought-reading. If, however, I had taken him to the well and he, upon seeing the water or upon being reminded of it, should associate with it the depth of another well he had actually measured in his waking state, and instead of giving the true depth, given that of the well he measured before he was mesmerized — this would be an answer on the principle of association. This is another action of the mind, under different circumstances.
We have, therefore, given examples, proving to a demonstration that there are such states of mind as clairvoyant, thought-reading, and that arising from association. The mind sometimes acts in one of these capacities and sometimes in another, and is also governed at other times by the principle of association.
Now the difficulty in a clairvoyant subject is this. The mesmerized mind is liable to be under the partial control of all these conditions at the same time, and would describe an object; partly from actual independent sight, partly from thought reading, and partly from association — and the result, always, is a total failure in all.
We are not able, in this early stage of our science, to give definite rules by which we can tell how far the subject may be led astray from independent sight by these two other principles. Indeed we have no barometer by which to ascertain how much weight our own thoughts or the associations of the subject, may have over the mesmerized mind.
In the progress of future advancement, this mystery may be solved; and subjects, under proper regulations, may discover to the operator the true action of his mind; whether it be seeing, thought-reading or association.
When mesmerism has attained this height in the march of its discoveries, a new and brighter era in the history of the world will have dawned upon humanity; the ignorance of the past will be entombed in the light of the future; and truth, disrobed of superstition, will govern paramount the universe of immortal thought.
Our remarks have thus far been confined to what we are pleased to call the "development of the metaphysical mysteries" of our subject; mesmerism.
We have sought to select that system which appears to be most consistent with the facts we have offered; that system only by which we can explain satisfactorily the wonderful phenomena of mind. We have thought our course, thus far, justifiable upon the ground that a complete knowledge of the development of mesmerism is necessary to a good understanding of the practical part of our science. We protest against a mere knowledge of results, without cause. We should know rather the cause, and we may then produce or prevent results.
Our course has been to introduce such explanation as appears consistent with all the experiments given; and as far as we had the power, to enlighten the understanding, rather than to mystify what has already been too mysterious. How far we have succeeded, an intelligent community will act as our tribunal, and we shall rest satisfied with their candid decision.
We now come to the useful and practical part of our subject. It is to this part of our work we would solicit the attention of our reader.
The study of the philosophy of science is entertaining and instructive, but the utility of science is, after all, the great point to be attained in its advances.
We shall proceed to show what connection mesmerism, as we understand it, has with the relief of suffering humanity; and consequently, its necessary connection with medical science. The world is full of theories and humbugs. No two men can agree precisely in any science about which there is much controversy as to the laws by which it is made up. The difficulties arising in medical science are from the uncertainties of its practice. It is not like many of the physical sciences, about which there may be uniform and constant results.
Even in this enlightened age, there seem to be no settled rules of practice. Every physician, of course, defines his own position; or rather works out the position of his brother, and then declares his system entirely opposite. The whole practice of the schools and the faculty seems to have been a continual introduction of theories contradicting each other; each order as they rise and fall, opposing all others.
While diseases are the same now as in the days of Hippocrates and Galen, the remedies have been as numerous as sands upon the sea shore. Every physician has his own remedy for the old diseases. So far back as history runs, we trace the rise, progress and fall of theory after theory. The course of progress is often in this manner.
Upon the introduction of a new theory and its full adoption into practice, all preceding theories retire to the shades for a season; the novelty soon ceases to astonish; and then all sects of physicians are equally successful in some cases.
Soon another star appears and dazzles with his awful splendor all who have preceded him; but he, too, passes the meridian of glory and goes to the shades of night. Then arises another, more brilliant than the last, and after the harvest moon of his glory, passes like his predecessors into decay.
(side note: some show the beginning of this topic starting here however it doesn't make sense thus I've chosen to add the above paragraphs that seem to fit this topic.)
Thus it has been from the days of Esculapius to Harrison and Thompson, and perhaps I should not slight Graham and Alcott who, I must say, give a very economical system of medical practice, which would not be very likely to induce the gout or dyspepsia. The different theories of practice, however, no doubt grew out of the uncertainty of medicine. And the uncertainty of medicine was the necessary result of a want of a knowledge of those laws by which the animal economy of man is sustained.
It all proceeds from the mistaken notion that medicine operates upon the organs which constitute the body, without any reference to the impressions which it conveys to the mind. Medicine, upon the organs of the body, if it were to act upon them alone, would always produce the same results upon the same organizations. It would be a matter of certainty with the physician that if Lobelia or Ipecac be taken into the stomach in measured quantities, proportionate effects will follow. And so of all medicines. If, on a certain occasion, under certain symptoms, a certain medicine restored health — why will it not do so in all cases, when the symptoms and disease are the same?
We have selected from Dr. Abercrombie such remarks as convey our ideas upon the uncertainty of medicine as practiced by physicians.
[Quote from Dr. Abercrombie, Part IV, page 293 (copy the whole chapter).]
We have in this quotation the whole truth, so far as the uncertainty of medicines is concerned. But even Dr. Abercrombie, we think, has not touched the real cause of all this uncertainty, except where he partly attributes it to the "mental emotions." We hazard the assertion that all these difficulties arise from mental emotions; that whatever results follow the application of medicine are produced by the impressions which the taking and action of this medicine has upon the organs of the body. And the same medicines do not affect different individuals in the same manner, because they, upon being taken, convey to these minds different impressions; and the mind exercises a control over the body and answers to the impressions by a result upon the functions of the body — either good or bad.
Every intelligent physician with whom I have conversed has always acknowledged that mind has much to do with the taking of medicine, if good results follow; that no physician could probably do his patient much good, unless he should possess the confidence of such patient. Intelligent physicians, although they have full faith in medical remedies and believe that these, with the mental emotions of the patient, are the only restoratives of health, yet do not, after all, consider that remedies possess such astonishing powers as is supposed by the quacks.
I believe that there is a virtue in medicine which, when taken by the patient, conveys impressions to the mind; and that these impressions often result in the entire restoration of health. The mind of man is generally taken up with surrounding objects and seldom is attracted to contemplate the body to which it is attached. If however, by any attraction, it should be turned upon the body, a war seems to arise between the body and mind, and the mind appears to be unwilling to abide its confinement. Disease then begins to prey upon the body and continues to increase, until the soul departs and leaves matter to return to its original dust.
We think we have abundant proof of the power of the mind to control the health of the body. Patients are advised to travel in pleasant countries and visit watering places; to bathe in sea water and mineral water; to spend the cold seasons in milder climates; engage more in pleasantries of society — or even do anything by which the mind may be led off from its old habits of warring with the body.
But why should we even enumerate particular methods of restoring the health of a patient, without a dose of medicine? All these methods are medicines for the mind; they leave lasting impressions, and they restore the health. So is every remedy taken into the stomach or externally applied to the body, a medicine for the mind. And it is only so far effectual to the end designed as it impresses the mind.
We do not then, discard the use of medicines, but rather recommend them. But we protest against such use, unless he who prescribes knows the laws by which his remedy is governed. The true design of all medicine is to lead the mind to certain results, and then it — the mind — will restore the body. No matter what this medicine is, if it accomplishes all the physician designs, it will effect a cure — if it produces a healthy state of mind. Thus it is that very small doses, under the direction of the homeopathic practice, effect such astonishing cures. Thus it is that so many drops of pure water, taken under the direction of a skillful physician, will restore health. Thus it is that a change of scenery gives new and pleasant impressions to the mind of a patient and results in a perfect restoration of the bodily health.
We must here indulge in a pleasant anecdote related to me by a friend of mine; the truth of which I would not dare question. He was in bad health of being troubled with the "cramp in his stomach," and the remedy was always one or two of Brandwith's pills. On one occasion he was taken very suddenly, and after taking the pills as usual, served up in a tumbler of cold water he drank — and the next morning found himself restored to perfect health, as usual in former attacks. He accidentally looked into his tumbler and saw both of the pills, which he had supposed were drunk, in the bottom of his tumbler. He found it must have been the cold water that cured him. He was, however, so much pleased with the idea of his cure that the cramp never returned.
A young physician of my acquaintance, who was rising rapidly in his profession, was called to attend a patient who had been for a long time under the care of an old practitioner, but was fast failing. The old physician had given up all hopes of his patient's recovery and finally told him he could do him no good. At this unfavorable moment, my young friend was called. He examined the patient, ascertained what remedies had been administered, etc., and found that they were just such as he should apply in such a case. Somewhat puzzled for a moment what to order, he became very grave and thoughtful. He found that the mind of the patient was such as to reject the medicine, and he determined to try the venture of a new medicine. He then returned to his office, filled an ounce vial of good pure water and again visited the patient, ordered ten drops to be administered at a time and repeated once in two hours. This was effectual, and the patient was soon restored.
Another physician, who is highly distinguished in his profession, related the following story. Being called to visit a patient that had been under the care of several physicians but was continually growing worse, he ascertained that they had been treating the patient in just such a manner as he should have done under the same circumstances. The patient, however, had no confidence in their treatment, and as a matter of course, continued to grow worse. He examined the patient, and finally placing his hand upon his side, remarked that if he could produce a warm sensation there in five minutes, he could cure him. A warm sensation was felt by the patient, and the physician pronounced his case not dangerous; remarking that he had medicines which would certainly cure him. He then turned 'round and poured out the same kind of medicine as had been given to the patient by the other physicians, and it was taken in full confidence of a restoration to health. The result was that the patient immediately recovered.
We might mention a hundred such instances and then call our own experience to confirm the truth of them. But we have given these, proving that it is really the mind upon which an impression is to be made, and that after all, the medicine has nothing to do in the matter, only so far as it induces a state of feeling antecedent to a restoration. While the physicians have always admitted that the mind of the patient has much to do in the operation of medicine and the restoration of health, yet nothing is ever mentioned of the fact that "mind acts upon mind" — that the mind of the physician has something to do in bringing about such results as restore health.
Here then, we trace a great portion of the difficulty in the uncertainty of medicine. The physician has not been aware of this fact, and therefore proceeds upon wrong principles in administering his medicine. In this respect, the quack may effect more than the intelligent physician, because he has more confidence in the remedies he applies. He, however, believes the great remedy is really in the medicine and has full confidence in administering it to the patient and impresses his mind with the restorative powers of his balsam.
Perhaps the quack might not understand the composition of his medicine, yet he knows the results and is so firm in his belief that he would almost bring about the result if the medicine had by mistake been omitted. The intelligent physician, knowing the properties of his medicine and having seen much practice, does not attribute an almighty charm to his antidote and, therefore, manifests less confidence in his skill. His mind influences directly that of his patient, and he, too, will place but little confidence in the medicine. The result is that the patient becomes worse.
Now had the physician understood — or rather had he brought into his practice the great law that mind acts upon mind — he might have remedied the whole evil. He would then have commanded all the influence which his powerful mind could exert over the mind of his patient, and thus with the powerful or gentle action of the medicine, directed a healthful result. In some instances, a powerful medicine taken under the impression of a good influence may do much and indeed, in some instances, entirely restore the patient. But it acts far more healthfully upon the patient when the mind is rightly directed.
This principle of making deep impressions upon patients by a medicinal or other process seems to have been well understood by Hippocrates, the great father of cures. When the plague broke out at Athens during the second year of the Peloponesian war, it ravaged the whole army and bid defiance to the remedies of the most skillful physicians in that ancient city. At this critical period, the great Hippocrates entered the city and applied his remedies, which soon began to check its ravages. His name only could save his countrymen. He caused fires to be lighted up in the streets and lanes of Athens to purify and clarify the atmosphere; introduced the warm bath to expel the infection by the surface of the skin; and to support their weakness, caused them to drink the rich wines of Naxos — thus employing external agents to impress deeply the mind with the idea of an effectual remedy.
We might enumerate other instances where the great cause of success in a particular treatment of disease was similar in principle to the above; but history is full of such examples, and the daily observation of every student of human nature confirms its records. Every action which results to the benefit or injury of the patient is directed upon the mind, which immediately answers the impression upon the disease of the body. Matter, in itself, is capable of no action, except by chemical process, unless connected with a mind (or spirituality). The health and vigor of the body depends solely upon the condition and action of the mind, because the immaterial part of man governs the material. Matter (or body) connected with mind is under the immediate control of this spirituality.
If then, the mind, by external or internal influences, has received impressions to destroy the health and vigor of the body, and those impressions cannot be removed, then the body follows that state of mind and readily submits. If the mind of a patient does not feel some confidence in the restorative powers of a medicine taken, there is a probable chance that it will do the patient no good. His mind counteracts the impression usually conveyed to the minds of most patients by a strong impression that it could do no good.
There are other reasons why medicines prove so uncertain in the practice of physicians. And perhaps the greatest evil of all we could enumerate is the course which each physician has, in his own judgment, selected to pursue towards his brother competitors. It is a fact worth mentioning to those who have not witnessed it that no two physicians, who reside in our towns and villages where a direct competition is kept up, can agree to the same treatment of the same disease. If one is successful in his treatment, the other would not adopt the same course but must have his peculiar method and denounce the other.
It is this constant warring with each other, this constant opposition, this unhallowed wish to rise on the ruins of a brother, this ambitious longing to put down every man of the same profession and assume the confidence, the practice and the distinguished honor which a suffering community can bestow. I protest against this vile slander of your neighbor's medicine (or practice), not so much for the folly exhibited in the individual physician, as the enormous evil entailed upon the suffering community. While physicians labor to destroy what confidence the community have been disposed to place in them, how can they individually expect to reap the advantage of a position which they have been constantly laboring to destroy?
It is an old saying that "two gamesters can never agree," but we find this principle carried out to the very letter in medical practice. The success of my neighbor is not to be endured, while I do not receive the direct emolument. “Let the world perish if I, alone, can't save it,” is the common expression of every physician.
I do not intend to embrace the whole class, without some reserve. There are some honorable exceptions, men in medical science whose position is above the filth and slime of enmity; it is the proud position of a great mind desirous of progress, availing himself with all the assistance which may flow from the smaller sources that surround him. It is a remark in sacred history that the foolish things of this world sometimes confound the wise, and the great mind is ever watchful of the fulfillment of this declaration. It embraces whatever is useful and true and rejects whatever is injurious and false.
We are of the opinion that this entire want of confidence in each other and the medicines administered manifest among common physicians goes far to counteract what practical service any remedy may usually, under a proper condition of things, effect. It must be true that physicians are not aware of the influence which mind exerts upon mind and the results upon the body, or they would desist from such violence. We return to an expression we have before uttered — that we have full confidence in the power of certain medicines to produce healthful results; but further assert that the mind of the patient or physician may so control this power as to produce disastrous results. We protest against this pretended ignorance of the physician upon the causes of the uncertainty of medicine. He should, or ought to know what they result from or the great governing principle by which a failure follows. We exclaim against the daring and lawless courage of a physician who marches up blindfold to the battleground of disease, struggling with nature and often failing in his efforts to effect a reconciliation; raises a war club and strikes at random. If he luckily hits disease, the patient is restored; and if not, the patient dies.
Our remarks thus far go to show that the mind has much to do with the practice of medicine and that results are from impressions conveyed to it by some process. We now proceed to illustrate by experiments what mesmerism has to do with diseases; and shall at the same time show the influence of mind acting upon mind.
By the action of my mind upon my patient in his waking state, I can produce the same results which flow from the taking of medicine. I can produce an emetic or cathartic; a dizziness or pain in the head; relieve pain in any part of the system; and restore patients by acting directly upon their minds. If we succeed in giving such experiments and confirm the above declaration, will anyone doubt the fact that it is the mind which is operated upon and conveys the result to the body? We will not argue this point further, but proceed to give some further remarks and the experiments.
We lay it down as a principle that all medical remedies affect the body, only through the mind. The truth of this principle is tested in an experiment which I had upon a lady of intelligence, who was placed under my care. Her health was generally bad and caused a depression of spirits. I could magnetize her easily, but preferred to perform my experiments in her waking moments. If she complained of pain in the head, I could relieve it. If her feet and hands were cold, I could induce a warm sensation. If her head became hot and feverish, I could induce a cool state and drive off the fever. Indeed, almost any state I desired to produce, corresponding with the effect of medicine taken into the stomach, would follow.
This is not a solitary case. I might enumerate hundreds of experiments, equally wonderful and interesting, all tending directly to show that mind governs the body, and to affect the body, it must be done through the mind.
An individual, who was an entire stranger to me, called and said he was not a believer in mesmerism but would become so, if I could relieve the pain under which he was then suffering, from a contusion of the foot. I requested him to sit down, and I would try; that I would first induce a strange feeling upon his foot, and he might tell me the sensation which would follow. In about five minutes he remarked that he felt a prickling sensation, as though his "foot was going to sleep." This was what I designed to do. I then proceeded to relieve the pain, and he described a cool sensation at first, which was soon followed by entire relief. He acknowledged the result and remarked, "Humbug or no humbug — the pain is gone."
While I was traveling with my subject in 1843, a gentleman who had long been troubled with lameness proceeding from rheumatic influence, hobbled upstairs and entered my room. He requested me to operate upon him and do him all the good I could. I made some enquiries into his case and proceeded to relieve the pain and restore him to health. In less than one hour, he was enabled to walk with greater ease (his own declaration) than for the preceding two years. He left me in good spirits, and the following morning rode to a neighboring town and unfortunately, upset his sleigh. All the violence of the old rheumatic complaint returned.
Two days after, I heard of his misfortune and called on him. His physician was present and writing a prescription for medicines. I enquired of the doctor after his patient, who gave me no favorable account. I directed him to apply his mesmeric power and relieve the pain, without prescription. He smiled and said he had made the attempt; could throw him into a sleeping state, but could not relieve the pain. He gave me permission to try my power. I sat down by him and soon relieved the pain, and before we left, he was enabled to walk about the room. The physician tore up his prescription and remarked that he saw no occasion for his services, and we both left in company.
A friend of mine took me to see an Irish gentleman, who was in the last stages of consumption. Upon entering his house, we could distinctly hear him breathe. My friend introduced me and related the occasion of our call. The man, with much difficulty, replied that nothing could help him, etc. I commenced acting upon his mind. In a short time, the difficulty of breathing was removed, and the man, raising himself up in bed, exclaimed to my friend, "Why, sir, what does this mean? My, sir — I feel... I feel very much relieved!" After spending an hour with him, we left. I called again the next morning and found him up and dressed and doing well. I left town that day and have not since heard of him.
Dr. H. took me to see one of his patients who was very low in the last stages of consumption. We found her very weak and oppressed with a difficulty of breathing. I commenced operating upon her and removed the difficulty of breathing and induced a strong and healthful feeling. We left her very comfortable, and she declared she was much better. Whether she recovered from her illness, I have not heard.
Another patient in the last stages of consumption, who was entirely given over by all the physicians, sent for me a few days since. I soon relieved much of his pain, enabled him to swallow with less difficulty and entirely threw off his fever, which had returned regularly every day previous for some time. He appears now much better than when I first saw him. But it is too much to suppose that he can be restored from his very debilitated state to health.
I will now introduce another class of experiments. A gentleman residing out of town was seized with an affection of the head, producing severe pain. This continued for the space of two or three months but increasing in severity, until he entirely lost the power of seeing and was blind. He sent for me to visit him. I did so and found him in the state I have described, suffering intensely from the pain in his head and not able to see any object around him. I commenced exercising my powers to throw him into the mesmeric state and was soon successful. I then relieved the pain of his head and proceeded to enable him to see objects around him. I placed my fingers in front of his eyes, and he soon remarked that he saw them and felt an influence proceeding from them, which was cooling. I was trying to 'allay the fever in that portion of the brain connected with his eyes, which was probably the influence he felt.
He could tell when I was near to him or at a distance. I then roused him from his sleeping condition and commenced operating upon his eyes to induce the power of sight. He described the sensations produced like "flakes of clouds passing before his eyes," being sometimes so dark that he could distinguish no light and then followed with light. I continued my operations, until he was enabled to see an object I held up before him, described what it was and read the figures which were printed upon it. His health was so far gone that it would have been almost a miracle to have restored him. I left him, however, in this condition and soon after heard of his death.
A young man came to me not long since who was very pale and emaciated and asked if I could help him. He was much troubled to breathe and felt a bad pain in his side. I commenced experimenting upon him in his waking state, and in a few moments relieved his difficulty of breathing and took away the pain in his side. He is now an active and healthy young man, enabled to attend to his business.
I called on a young man residing upon the Kennebec, whom I found in this condition. He had not spoken or even whispered or walked for the previous eight or nine months and could not get about, only as he managed himself along in his chair. I commenced operating upon him in his waking state, and in the course of one-half hour, I requested him to answer me. He immediately answered me and easily talked. I then enabled him to walk across the floor, and his neighbors came in, and he was able to converse with them and to walk while in their presence. I left him in this condition and called the following day. He was walking his room, and when I spoke to him, he answered me by a nod of his head. I told him I did not understand him. He then answered me readily and was able to talk very well.
This was the condition in which I left him and have no doubt but that he would have fully recovered, had not other counteracting influences been brought to act upon him. These influences were produced upon him by his ignorant physician; who was probably feeling that some glory might be detracted from his great professional distinction if the patient, who had been so long under his immediate and mighty curatives, should recover by so simple a process, which his dull genius had not discovered. Soon after I left, I was informed that this benevolent gentleman was so kind as to inform him that I was an impostor and had only been playing upon his imagination; that he would, in a few days, be worse, etc. Thus by every act of which this little man was capable of exercising, he produced an opposite impression upon his mind; destroying all the good I had accomplished. So much for the kindness, benevolence and philanthropy — or if you please, the ignorance and bigotry of his physician.
We have found but few such in the world, and we desire, so far as our friends and ourselves are concerned, that they may be less frequent than angel's visits. Had he possessed the common feelings of humanity, even though he could not at that time place much confidence in so simple an operation of a stranger — yet for his friend's sake, would it not have been the part of wisdom to have suspended the counteracting influences and rather assisted the mind of his patient and friend to overcome the difficulty? We leave the matter to the patient and his neighbors to say how much benefit such a physician is to mankind.
I was not long since called upon to visit an old lady who was afflicted with the acute rheumatism, sometimes called. I found her in the most extreme pain. I commenced operating upon her in the waking state and soon eased the acute pains. Before I left her, she said she did not feel any pain in her limbs, and she could use them without difficulty. I saw her husband the following day, and he informed me that she slept well during the night and was fast recovering.
I was called upon to visit an old lady, whom I found in ill health and very low and gloomy in her feelings. She had given up all hope of recovering, and even distributed her goods and chattels among her kinsmen. I observed that her temperament was such as to be easily wrought upon and told her I could restore her to perfect health. I operated upon her mind in the waking state and relieved all her suffering pains; but there was one difficulty, she remarked, about her, which, if it was not removed, would be the death of her. It was this. She said her liver was completely caked over and that she could feel it on her side. I examined her side and allowed her to think so, but told her I could remove that feeling and would do so. I then made an effort to regulate her feelings in this particular. She said she felt better, and I left her, promising to call the next day. I did so and found her pretty well, but the cake upon her liver had not entirely dissipated. I, however, corrected the disease, and the woman is entirely restored.
The cases we have just enumerated may appear, at first view, to be nothing but imaginary diseases. This was not the fact. They were all real, and all the impressions which were given by myself were real. I do not suppose that the last case was precisely what the old lady supposed; yet there was some disease or some cause which she attributed to a strong covering to her liver.
We have endeavored to keep up a distinction between imaginary and real cases. And we will simply state here that all the patients were really as we have described them, and none of them were troubled with imaginary evils; that what is real cannot be imaginary; that the moment the reality commences, imagination ceases. I will give one illustration. If I imagine a sharp pain in my finger and continue to keep up the imagination, the pain is not there; it exists only in my imagination, or rather does not exist at all. Now suppose I commence imagining a pain in my finger, and while doing it, a pain should be actually felt, just when I was imagining. Would the pain really felt be real? We think it would — and when this sensation exists there, imagination ceases to act.
In the cases above, the remedies resorted to are real to the subjects, because they restored them. At least they are as real as the diseases, and the diseases were as real as any disease with which mankind are afflicted. If then, one answers that all these cases are imaginary, we reply then — everything is imaginary and nothing is real.
We proceed to give other cases of a different class and which will more fully prove the distinction between the real and the imaginary. There's a lady residing in this country who had been lame and unable to walk for two years. She had been under the care of physicians, who had resorted to every medicine consistent with the case, within the range of their profession. She had been three months under the care of the celebrated Dr. Hewit of Boston but received no benefit, but continued about the same. This was the condition in which I found her, unable to bear any weight upon her foot. We now ask — was this case real or imaginary, upon the facts as we have stated? Whatever the answer is, she and her friends, who were enabled to feel and see her condition, believed it real.
I was lecturing in town and was sent for to visit her. I complied and commenced operating upon her in her waking state. In less than one-half hour, she rose from her chair and walked across the room and out of her keeping room into the other, astonishing all who beheld her. She continued to walk and grow better and has now nearly recovered. This walking could not have arisen from any excitement under which she labored at the time, because she continued to get better, and her ankle and foot are nearly, or quite, well. Is the recovery of the lady imaginary? If you think it unreal, we will give another!
It is this. A good old farmer residing in town, who took a trip to one of the islands in our bay, was severely bitten by a dog through the wrist. His hand and arm began to perish and had already become much smaller than the other. When I saw him, which was about three months after his misfortune, a sore on the back of his hand had broken out several times, or at stated intervals. I found him in a lawyer's office, stating his case to his attorney, who had commenced a suit against the owner of the dog and afterwards, recovered seven hundred dollars damages. I examined his arm at that time and found it in the condition I have described. In the conversation, he remarked that, if I would restore it, he would not spare the greatest expense of which his condition in life would admit.
Before I commenced operating upon him, I asked him to use it and lift up a very small pamphlet which lay on the table. This he was unable to do, and he stated that he had no use of it. I then took him into an adjoining room and operated upon him in his waking state. I soon enabled him to use his hand and arm. He took up the largest volume of the law library, held it in his hand and carried it into the other room. He then took hold of the bottom of a chair, lifted it up and carried it around. He returned to his farm and began to labor, using his hand and arm. In about three months, his arm had assumed its natural size and appeared perfectly well. He complained only of a slight weakness in twisting his wrist. I soon removed that difficulty, and he is now fully restored.
Another case. A man in the country, who had injured his wrist by blasting a rock and had not been able to use it for nine months, called on me. His hand and arm had withered very much and was carried in a sling. It was also cold, although in midsummer, and he was obliged to keep it wrapped up from the air. I commenced operating upon him, and before I left him, he was enabled to lift a pail of water and other things which were near us. Before he left town, which was on the same day, he could lift with his lame hand and arm a weight of fifty pounds. I have not seen or heard of him since and do not know whether he recovered entirely.
We suppose, after giving our last examples, that no one will attribute their restoration to the imagination. We need not argue the case furthermore as to the reality of the condition of the patients we have named or the facts of their recovery. If any part of the whole transactions were real, then all were real. If any part were imaginary, then all were imaginary. And if these cases were imaginary, then we say that all diseases, all conditions of mind and matter — anything about us and around us — is imaginary; and nothing has any reality.
We might state a great number of cases similar to the above, all showing the same results and proving the same facts, all being real and not imaginary. We have read of cases when persons have been thrown into the mesmeric state and had some of the most dangerous and, in the waking state, painful surgical operation performed, without manifesting the least pain. We do not doubt their authority. We have had only one case when an actual operation was performed of the above class.
A lady residing about ten miles from Belfast came to our village to have a polypus extracted from her nose by one of our surgeons. She called on Dr. N. at his office and requested him to send for me to throw her into the mesmeric state. He was no believer in mesmerism and at first refused, but the lady would not consent to the operation until I was sent for. I found her in the Dr.'s office and in ten minutes threw her into the mesmeric state and requested the Dr. to commence. He performed the operation, and she did not even move a single muscle during the whole time, and gave no appearance of pain. While the operation was being performed, the blood was observed by someone standing by to run into her mouth, and I was requested to induce her to spit. I did so, and she answered by spitting out the blood. When she awoke, she was not conscious of having suffered any pain. This experiment took place in the presence of some four or five individuals, and it was at that time noticed in the public prints.
We now proceed to another state of mind, called by philosophers, "insanity."
The power of reason; that is, the faculty by which we compare facts with each other and mental expressions with external things, is said to be lost in insanity. In this state of mind, the subject appears to be under the complete control of some strong and irresistible impression or train of successive impressions; real to him, and which he cannot repulse with a comparison with external objects.
Like a subject in the dreaming (or mesmeric) state, he is not able to discover what impressions flow from false causes, and distinguish them from those which flow from real causes. The subject, himself, acts precisely as every man would under the same real impressions.
Then mind is governed and controlled by the same laws in this state, as in the natural or dreaming state. It acts from real impressions, under a full belief of the real causes of such impressions. This state is, no doubt, induced by some powerful impression upon the mind, which cannot be removed by slight impressions produced upon the mind from common and every day objects.
If this state is removed at all, it must be done by inducing some counteracting impression, which will lead the mind into a different channel of thought. This state of mind often exhibits in the individual more acuteness and intelligence, in almost every subject, than when in its natural condition. He will reason correctly, although from unsound data, and return answers justifying his conduct, which would display a thoughtful and premeditating mind.
We have read numerous instances of individuals whose conduct has been most unreasonable, yet could justify their acts by giving inducements to such conduct, based upon reasonable grounds.
Dr. Abercrombie relates the case of a clergyman in Scotland who, having displayed many extravagances of conduct, was brought before a jury to be declared incapable of managing his own affairs and placed under the care of trustees. Among the extravagant exhibitions of conduct was that he had burnt his library.
When the jury requested him to give an account of this part of his conduct, he replied in the following terms.
"In the early part of my life, I had imbibed a liking for a most unprofitable study; namely, controversial divinity. On reviewing my library, I found a great part of it to consist of books of this distinction. I was so anxious that my family should not be led to follow the same pursuit, that I determined to burn the whole."
He gave answers to other charges brought against him, justifying his conduct, and the jury did not find sufficient grounds for guarding him with trustees; but in the course of two weeks, he was in a state of decided mania!
Individuals, while in this excited state, when some leading impression has control, have really believed themselves to be some great actor in the world, an emperor or a king, and supposed all the fair fields about them and all the inhabitants who live within their state or nation are subject to their control.
Others have descended in the scale of their existence and supposed themselves beasts of burden or mere things. These are all real to the subject. He feels himself, just as he believes. This is sometimes called a deranged state of mind.
It is, however, a disease; as much so as any condition of man. For we contend that disease is nothing; only as it conveys impressions to the mind. That if one should cut his finger, and no sensation should be conveyed through the sense of touch to the mind, it would not give pain to the subject. This position we know by experiments upon individuals, both in their waking and mesmeric state.
Insanity, monomania and hallucination are all diseases; and remedies may be administered to counteract them. The treatment of the subject, while insane, has much to do with his recovery. For the benefit of this class of individuals, hospitals are erected at the public expense, where the best remedies can be administered.
This disease, among physicians, is not usually attributed to flow from the same sources as what they term those of the body; and therefore, they do not resort to the same remedies. Physicians generally call insanity a disease of the mind, while fever and other similar states are diseases of the body.
I maintain that all diseases are only known to exist as they affect the mind of the patient; that is, there would be no disease which could affect an individual, provided it could not make a sensation upon his mind. If he did not feel sick, he would not probably be sick.
In cases of scrofula and what is sometimes termed "King's Evil," diseases said to be incurable, the power of the Seventh Son to cure them is an effect upon the mind, being conclusive evidence that some strong impression induced the disease.
And the belief of the patient and that also of the Seventh Son, acting in concert to produce a counteracting impression, would destroy the old first cause, which brought about this diseased state; and nature then restores herself.
We do not believe that the Seventh Son has any more virtue to heal patients than any individual; nor do we think the fact of his passing his hand over the diseased portion of the body could affect anything towards counteracting the first impression; only so far as an external motion may assist to more strongly impress the mind.
It is simply the process of mind acting upon, and in correspondence with mind.
I will introduce an experiment here, which goes to show something in proof of what we are explaining.
An individual fell from his horse and dislocated his elbow. The surgeon set it, and his arm was, when I first saw it, badly swollen and very painful. I commenced operating upon it, and in a short time, reduced the swelling, so that the bandages were very loose, and all the pain subsided. He was then enabled to lift up a chair, without any pain; but before could not lift a pound, nor even use his fingers.
Someone may enquire whether the dislocation of the elbow was a disease of the mind. We answer — it was; that is, all the pain which was the result of the falling from the horse was in the mind, being the only part of man susceptible of sensation; that the mere blow or contusion would not produce any pain, unless there was a mind which could feel the blow, because matter is not supposed to have the power of sensation.
We might bring many facts, as we trust we have in the former part of this work, to show where the disease is to be remedied and where, of course, it must flow from to affect the person; or when an impression is produced, from which follows all the phenomena of disease, both of body and mind.
But we allude to the subject here to illustrate our ideas upon insanity. And by the results we have effected upon diseases, by operating upon the mind, we think the argument is conclusive that all disease, including insanity, flow from the impressions upon the mind, as their first cause.
The treatment of insane persons, therefore, should correspond with the great principle of mind acting upon mind and of impressions counteracting impressions.
We give the following experiments illustrating the power of mind over mind in cases of insanity.
I was called upon, about two years since, to visit an insane man who had been chained to prevent him from extravagant conduct, but who had by some means gotten loose and was raving about his premises, to the danger of his own family and his neighbors. I found him in the wildest state of insanity.
I approached him in company with another individual. When he saw us coming, he advanced towards us with a ten-foot pole. My friend could not proceed, and I was left alone to meet him. I advanced, keeping my eye steadily fixed upon him. He held his pole and advanced, until we came within ten feet of each other. He then suddenly stopped and told me not to advance another step.
I continued, however, to walk towards him, and as I came up, he threw down his pole and, looking me in the eye, asked what I wanted. I requested him to go into the house. He followed me in and became as obedient to my commands as a child. I performed several experiments upon him, showing how easily I could control him.
When any of his family came near, he would commence raving; but upon my requesting him to be quiet, he readily complied. I ordered him to dress himself, and upon clothing being handed to him, he complied. He would size up to me and look at my form and enquire how much I weighed. I asked him to guess. He thought two-hundred and fifty pounds. I allowed him to think so, although my real weight was about onehundred and forty. I was enabled to control him, while I was present, without touching him at all.
Another case is of a man who had become ravingly insane and was imprisoned in the county jail. He would allow nothing in his cell and allow no one to enter. He kept up a constant hollering, so as to be heard all over the village. The keeper of the prison decided that something must be done.
My situation was such that I had occasion to see him. I took another man with me, and going to the door of the cell, requested him to remain outside and not allow him to know that he was near. I opened the cell door, holding in my hand a green hide and a rope. He ordered me not to approach him, holding in his hand a stone, which he had dug out of some part of his cell.
I stood and looked at him about five minutes. He began to step back, and I entered. I then ordered him to come to me and get down on his knees. He obeyed instantly, and I then thought I would try an experiment. I told him I would not whip or tie him then — but if he ever made any more noise, or destroyed his bedding or anything which might be handed him, I would certainly kill him; at the same time, showing my intention in my countenance.
He seemed to be very much agitated and frightened. I produced so strong an impression upon his mind, that he was perfectly quiet and became more rational. In the course of three weeks, he left the prison and returned home, perfectly sane. He has been sane, ever since.
Thus the power of impressions over the mind to produce or counteract disease must be acknowledged. And the action of mind upon mind must be conceded. It is, in insanity, as in other diseases, necessary to make an impression more powerful than that which preceded this diseased state, and thus lead or drive the mind into a new channel of thought.
So in diseases of every class, an impression counteracting that which induced the disease must be made, and nature will restore herself. This impression may be made by administering powerful medicine, or it may be done, upon some patients, by the mind of an operator acting upon the mind of the patient.
It might be a question, in regard to all the experiments we have presented in this volume, whether it is really the strong intellectual power of a mind, which may gain the ascendancy over another and hold it in complete submission, as in the case of our two last experiments.
We answer that we do not think it is great intellectual power, but the capacity (or power) of arresting the attention and producing a strong impression. And this faculty may be cultivated and enlarged in its power to produce impressions and arrest the attention of the mind to the exclusion of surrounding influences.
We have mentioned the fact, in another page, that the idea of magnetizing (or mesmerizing) only those persons who are dull and enjoy poor health and weak minds is exploded. The more intelligent the mind, if the attention can be fixed and drawn away from surrounding influences, the more certain you are of producing the excited (or mesmeric) state, in the highest degree. A bright, intelligent and thoughtful person, enjoying good health, always makes the best subject.
We do not, there fore, claim a more powerful intellect by which we can produce such results upon mind, but attribute it to a natural and cultivated power in this capacity, by which I am enabled to exercise and produce such experiments as are called mesmeric, magnetic, etc.
The fact that the community have always laid it down as a general principle that only a more powerful mind can operate upon and control a weaker, has retarded the progress of this branch of intellectual philosophy. The idea, no doubt, arose from some self-conceited personage, or perhaps a numerous class of those who were public magnetizers, desirous of claiming all the intellect which is really worth having.
It is a fact, we are compelled to acknowledge that some of my predecessors in this branch of science seem to have possessed no other intellectual faculty than that of mesmerizing; and the consequence was that they would be desirous of instructing the world to believe that the power they exercise is, indeed, that of a great mind and to be surpassed by no other power.
All we have to remark upon this class of philosophers is that, whatever discoveries and advances they have made in the progress of human knowledge, should be thankfully received. And the follies and egotisms which have been interwoven with their progress should be rejected, as the consoling food for the vanity and self-esteem of its projectors.
No man would be justified in rejecting the whole Copernican System, because some wandering genius, desirous of making himself greater than the rest, should have advanced the idea and proceeded to prove it, that the earth is spherical and turns on its axis every twenty four hours and is kept in motion on the principle of a great wheel in a treadmill, by the constant tramping of an enormous Mammoth upon the equator.
"Retain the good and reject the evil." Then will science advance.
We now enter upon another branch of our subject, by which a solution of the mysteries of past ages is given. We refer to the mystery and responses of the Ancient Apollo, the Egyptian Magi, the Black Art, Witchcraft, trances, catalepsy, etc. We copy the following from Dr. Collyer's pamphlet upon Psychography.