Volume 2 Page 274
A GREAT LIGHT UNDER A BUSHEL
[The Theosophist, Vol. I, No. 5, February, 1880, pp. 125-129]
If, according to the ironical definition of a French writer, language were not given to man “that he might the better dissimulate his thought,” at some future day, in a catechism of sciences, we might hope to see the following answer under the heading of Physiology.
Ques.—What is Physiology?
Ans.—The art of denying all that its specialists have not yet come to know, and, of unconsciously disfiguring that which they do know.
The relevancy of this answer posterity will fully recognize and appreciate; especially when mesmerism, or animal magnetism, shall have become a recognized science, and generations of stubborn physicians shall have been publicly accused by history, of having sacrificed generations of their contemporary suffering millions to their ferocious conceit and obstinacy.
For those of our readers who may know but little of this most ancient science, practiced since prehistoric times in India, Egypt and Chaldaea; and, who have never heard that it was the basis of the wonderful “magic art” of the Phrygian Dactyls and of the initiated priests of Memphis, we will briefly sketch its history, and show what—as now
confessed by the greatest men of modern science—it is able to perform.
“ANIMAL MAGNETISM, called also mesmerism, [is] a force or fluid by means of which a peculiar influence may be exerted on the animal system,” says the New American Cyclopaedia. Since the destruction of the pagan temples and after an interval of several centuries, it was practiced and taught by Paracelsus, the great mystic and one of the sect of the “fire-philosophers.” Among these this force was known under the various names of “living fire,” the “Spirit of light,” etc.; the Pythagoreans called it the “Soul of the world” (anima mundi), and the Alchemists, “magnes,” and the “Celestial Virgin.” About the middle of the 18th century, Max Hell, Professor of Astronomy at Vienna, and a friend of Dr. F. Anthony Mesmer, advised him to try whether, like another Paracelsus and Kircher, he could not cure diseases with the magnet. Mesmer improved upon the idea and ended in performing the most miraculous cures—no more by mineral, but, as he claimed, by animal magnetism. In 1778 Mesmer went to Paris; caused in this city the greatest excitement, and from the first, firmly mastered public opinion. He would not, however, give his secret to the government, but instead of that formed a class, and nearly 4,000 persons studied under his directions at various times; Lafayette, the Marquis de Puységur, and the famous Dr. Charles d’Eslon being his pupils. His methods were not those of the present day, but he treated his patients by placing magnets on various parts of their bodies, or by having them sit round a covered tub from the cover of which an iron rod went out to each person, the whole party thus being connected by touching hands. He also made passes with his hands over their bodies. While Mesmer, provoking in the body and limbs of the sick persons a cold prickling sensation, nervous twitchings, drowsiness, sleep, and procuring thereby an alleviation and often a total cure, did not go further than to cure nervous diseases, it was the Marquis de Puységur, his pupil, who discovered somnambulism—the most important result of animal magnetism. And it was Deleuze, the famous naturalist of the Jardin des Plantes, a
man greatly respected for his probity and as an author, who published in 1813 a Critical History of Animal Magnetism.* At this time, notwithstanding its evident success and benefit, mesmerism had nearly lost ground. In 1784, the French Government had ordered the Medical Faculty of Paris to make an enquiry into Mesmer’s practices and theory, and report. A commission was appointed of such men as the American Philosopher Franklin, Lavoisier, Bailly, and others. But, as Mesmer refused to deliver his secret and make it public, the result was that having carefully investigated the mode of treatment, the report admitted that a great influence was wrought upon the subjects, but this influence was ascribed by them chiefly to imagination! The impression left thereby on the public mind was that Mesmer was a charlatan, and his pupils—dupes.
Notwithstanding the general prejudice, magnetism throve and got known over the whole world. It had made an invasion upon the grounds of medical routine and fought its way step by step. It appealed from the stubborn hostility of the Academy and the old traditions of its members to the judgment of the multitude, promising to abide by the decree of the majority. “It was in vain that its friends were treated as charlatans by the medical faculty and the majority of the learned,” writes Deleuze; “the man, who had witnessed mesmeric experiments among his friends, would believe despite all the authority which could be brought to bear upon him.” At last, in 1825, owing to the efforts of Dr. P. F. Foissac, a young physician of note and an enthusiastic admirer of Mesmer, the Royal Academy of Medicine in Paris appointed another learned commission and had a serious investigation made. Would anyone believe it? Owing to numerous intrigues, the opinion of the learned investigators was withheld for over five years; and it was only in 1831, that the report was rendered, and then found to the great discomfiture of the old academical and mouldy
* [The work which is meant here is Histoire critique du megnétisme animal, by Jean Philippe François Deleuze (Paris: Mame, 1813. 2 Vols. 8vo.).—Compiler.]
brains to contain a unanimous decision to the following effect:
It was reported that—
(1) Mesmerism is a force capable of exercising a powerful influence on the human system; (2) that this influence does not depend upon imagination; (3) that it does not act with equal force on all persons, and upon some is entirely powerless; (4) that it produces somnambulic sleep; (5) that in this sleep injury to the nerves of sensation does not cause the slightest sense of pain; (6) that the sleeper can hear no sound save the voice of the magnetizer; (7) that the sleeper’s nerves of touch and smell carry no sensation to the brain, unless excited by the magnetizer; (8) that some sleepers can see with their eyes closed, can foretell accurately, even months in advance (as was amply proved) various events, and especially the time of the return of epileptic fits, their cure, and discover the diseases of persons with whom they are placed in magnetic connection; and that persons suffering with weakness, pains, epilepsy, and paralysis, were partially or entirely cured by magnetic treatment.
The report created the greatest sensation. Mesmerism extended all over the world. Students of the new science became more numerous than ever, the ablest writers kept track of its progress and high among all others as a mesmerizer and a writer stood Baron J. D. Du Potet.* About the year 1840, Baron Karl von Reichenbach, an eminent German chemist, and the discoverer of creosote, discovered a new force, fluid, or principle—which we regard rather as one of the correlations of the Anima Mundi—which he called od or odyle. This agent, according to his theory, “is not confined to the animal kingdom, but pervades the universe, is perceived in various ways by sensitives, has the
* Besides many modern and very able periodicals such as the Chaîne Magnétique conducted under the patronage of the venerable Baron Du Potet, Honorary Fellow of our Society, at Paris, and the Revue Magnétique, by Donato, among the best works upon magnetism are those of H. G. Atkinson, Dr. Elliotson, and Professor William Gregory, of Edinburgh.
greatest influence upon life and health, and like electricity and galvanism, has two opposite poles, and may be accumulated in, or conducted away from, animal bodies.”* Then came the discovery of Dr. Braid of Manchester, who found that he could produce sleep in patients by ordering them to look steadily at some small and brilliant object, about a foot from their eyes and above their level. He called the process hypnotism and gave to his theory the graceful name of neurypnology, setting it down as a mesmeric antidote.
Such is, in brief, the history of this wonderful principle in nature; a principle, as little understood as were electricity and galvanism in days of old. And yet while the latter, as soon as demonstrated, were unanimously accepted and even greeted, the former, however great its claims for alleviating the pains of suffering humanity, however much demonstrated, is today as bitterly denied and decried as it was in the days of Mesmer. Shall we say why? Because, while electricity and galvanism in their practical application by, and meaning in, science are the gross manifestations of the universal Proteus, the great Anima Mundi—Magnetism, in its broadest and most mysterious sense, discovers beyond mere physical results horizons so mysterious and vast, that the matter of fact and sceptical scientists stagger and repulse its spiritual possibilities with all the might of their narrow-minded materialism. Once that they admit its existence and give it rights of citizenship, the whole of their schools will have to be remodelled. On the other hand, the clergy are as bitter against it, for its results, in their beneficent effects, upset every necessity for believing in divine “miracles,” or fearing the diabolical, and give the lie direct to their old slanders.
We will now show the progress of magnetism under its various modern names of mesmerism, magnetism, hypnotism, and other isms, among the men of science, and mesmerizers who explain it, each in his own way.
* [Reichenbach, Researches on Magnetism. See mainly the “Conclusions” at the end of the Seventh Treatise.—Compiler.]
MESMERISM AND HYPNOTISM IN FRANCE
As we propose to deal with that dangerous bugbear of physical science — mesmerism — we will have to examine these apples of discord freshly plucked by us in the garden of the scientists, with due caution and respect. We mean to cut off every possible retreat for the enemy, and will, therefore, strictly hold but to the personal experiments and explanations of some of the recognized leaders of medicine.
One such is Monsieur Naquet, deputy of Vaucluse, Professor of the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, and author of Ancient and Modern Revelations.* This gentleman, who is a hard-shelled materialist, to whom the mere idea of soul in man is as unwelcome as the smell of incense used to be to the traditional devil, is just now giving a series of scientific lectures in Paris, the main object of which seems to be to admit the phenomena of mesmerism (at last!) and—fight against the theory of the human soul having anything to do with them. Having successfully pulled out the props from under the ancient revelation, i.e., the Bible—and demonstrated the absurdity of belief in the modern Catholic “miracles” of Lourdes and Salette—against which position we will not protest—he tries his hand at Spiritualism and Mesmerism. Unfortunately for the able lecturer he seems to labour under the impression that the votaries of both spirit intercourse and Mesmer must necessarily believe in Supernaturalism—hence miracles. Of course, he makes a mess of it. We quote, translating portions of his lectures verbatim:
Hand in hand with these persons (the spiritualists) who bring forward such weak arguments, we find moving, nevertheless, a few others (mesmerizers) whose ideas deserve to be taken into consideration and discussed. These pretend [?] to produce at will in some human beings a peculiar kind of sleep, called the magnetic. They affirm their ability to communicate to certain subjects the faculty of seeing through opaque bodies, and they maintain that such facts remain inexplainable unless we admit the existence of a soul in man.
* Révélation Antique et Révélation Moderne.
To begin with: are the facts from which these men draw their conclusions at all certain?* Admitting that they are, cannot they be explained upon any other hypothesis than the existence of this Soul?
The facts under consideration are affirmed by enlightened and honourable men; thus, in this case, they do not offer that startling character of imbecility and imposture which constitutes the fundamental feature of Spiritualism.† Therefore, I will not immediately pronounce upon the unreality of all they tell us of magnetism; but, at the same time I propose to show that these facts, however real, do not in the least prove any necessity for the intervention of a soul to account for them.
Magnetic sleep can be explained quite naturally. The phenomena of electric attraction daily produced before our very eyes, and which no one ever attempted to attribute to a supernatural cause, are at least as extraordinary as the mesmeric influence of one man upon another man. For the last several years, sleep, followed by complete insensibility and identical in all points with the magnetic sleep, is produced by purely mechanical means. To obtain it, one has but to approach a light to the patient’s nose. The fixing of his eyes upon the luminous point produces a cerebral fatigue which results in sleep. At this day, it is no longer to be doubted that magnetism belongs to a phenomenon of the same kind, light being replaced by other agents and expedients which bring on the same cerebral fatigue, and finally sleep.
Lucidity seems more doubtful than simple magnetic sleep, and it becomes still more difficult to give it credence. Admitting it to be demonstrated, however, we could again explain it without meddling with the Spirit.
We will know that light and heat are but vibratory motions; that light and heat differ but in the length of their undulations; that these undulations which are perceptible to our eye, are of various lengths, producing in us the sensation of various colours; that moreover among the undulatory motions, which we recognize as heat, there are waves of different lengths; that there exists, in short, such a thing as a real calorific spectrum. On the other hand, as, beyond the red ray, there are motions which remain unperceivable by the eye, but which become sensible to the touch as heat, so there are others beyond the violet ray, which develop in us neither impressions of heat nor those of
*At the time of this lecture the eminent physician believed but little in the mesmeric phenomena. Since then, having repeatedly witnessed experiments of animal magnetism by Professor Charcot, he doubts no longer; nay—he believes, and yet, while finding it impossible to doubt, he tries to explain the whole upon his own materialistic hypothesis.—Ed., Theos.
† More than one spiritualist might return the compliment to materialism and with usury.—Ed., Theos.
luminosity, but which we can make manifest by the chemical influence which they exercise upon certain substances. Finally, experiment shows to us that there are bodies permeable to heat, yet perfectly impermeable to light, and vice versa.
Thus, we can admit the production of vibrations or waves of various lengths and infinitely variable. But of all such possible motions there is but a certain number only, within very restricted limits, that are perceived by us as light, heat, or chemical rays. All greater and smaller motions escape our senses, as would the luminous motions, had we no organ of sight. They escape us simply because we have no organs fit to perceive them.
Let us now suppose that, owing to a nervous sur-excitement, our organs may become impressionable to the extra-calorific or extra-luminous rays. THE FACTS OF MAGNETIC LUCIDITY WOULD BE PERFECTLY EXPLAINED.
We thank modern Science for teaching us such truths and explaining such a profoundly involved problem. But we can hardly refrain from reminding the erudite lecturer that he but repeats that which was explained by nearly every ancient philosopher and repeated by many a modern writer, who has treated upon clairvoyance.
The Neo-Platonists explained clairvoyance on the same principle; Baptiste van Helmont in his Opera Omnia, A.D. 1652 (p. 720), treats this second sight in the realm of the occult universe most elaborately. The Hindu Yogi reaches clairvoyance by purely physiological processes, which does not prevent him from often discerning things real, not imaginary.
“Light, heat, and chemical rays,” our wise lecturer goes on to say, “are propagated by means of vibrations, and according to the same law; thus, must it be for the rays which remain imperceptible to our senses. Let only our eyes become fit for perceiving them, and the ‘double sight’ has nothing in it to surprise us. . . . The day when these facts (of mesmerism) shall be sufficiently proved, our hypothesis will become more acceptable than that of the soul. It will allow of every explanation, without trespassing beyond the laws which govern the universe.”
We make haste to deny and emphatically protest against the imputation of believing in the supernatural. The hypothesis of Monsieur Naquet, the physiologist, if ever
accepted, beyond the small minority of his colleagues, will never prove “acceptable.” As to accusing, as he does, the vast body of Spiritualists, Spiritists, and Mesmerists of trespassing in their explanation beyond the laws which govern the universe, it is as false as it is ridiculous. Once more it shows how apt are our opponents, and especially physiologists, to disfigure facts whenever these clash with their ideas. Their arguments were unique. If, said they, artificial sleep can be produced by purely mechanical means (hypnotism), what use is there in calling spirit and soul to our help to explain this phenomenon? No use whatever, indeed. But neither did we ever pretend to explain this preliminary stage to clairvoyance-sleep whether natural, hypnotic, or mesmeric, by any soul or spirit theory. This imputation lies only in the case of uneducated Spiritualists, who attribute all such phenomena to “disembodied spirits.” But can they themselves—these high priests of intellect—the agency of the spiritual ego being put aside—any more rationally explain the phenomenon of somnambulism, clairvoyance (which some of them as we see are forced to admit) or even sleep and simple dreams, than we, not “scientifically trained” mortals? Even ordinary sleep with its infinite modifications is as good as unknown to physiology. Admitting even that the will of man is not the direct cause of magnetic effects, it yet, as Monsieur Donato, the celebrated magnetizer of Paris, remarks, “plays upon and guides many a mysterious force in nature, the mere existence of which is totally unknown to science.”
DR. CHARCOT OF PARIS
(The Illustrious Discoverer of the “Hysterical Cock”)
Meanwhile science fishes in the same water with the mesmerizers and for the same fish—only inventing for it, when caught, a new, and as it thinks, a more scientific name. The above accusation is easily demonstrated. As a proof, we may cite the case of Dr. Charcot. It is the same great Parisian professor who, having proved to his own satisfaction that no mesmeric effects can be obtained with
a subject unless this subject be naturally hysterical, mesmerized a rooster and thus became the original discoverer of the “Hysterical Cock.”* Professor Charcot is an authority upon all manner of nervous diseases, a high rival of Broca, Vulpian, Luys, etc., and besides being the celebrated physician of the hospitals of Paris, is a member of the Academy of Medicine. Like the less scientific but equally famous Dr. W. A. Hammond, of New York, he believes in the efficacy of the metallic discs of Dr. Bürck for curing more than one incurable disease, but unlike that neurologist, does not attribute any of either the cures or other phenomena to imagination; for catalepsy can be practiced upon animals, according to his own experiments. He also gives credit in his own way to the genuineness of somnambulism and the freaks of catalepsy, attributing to the latter all mediumistic phenomena. On the authority of a correspondent of Mr. Ragazzi, the Editor of the Journal du Magnétisme of Geneva, he proceeds in the following fashion:
Dr. Charcot first introduces to his audience at the hospital of La Salpêtrière (Paris) a sick girl in a state of perfect insensibility. Pins and needles are stuck in her head and body without the least effect. An application of a collar of zinc discs for five minutes returns life into the regions of the throat. Then the two poles of a horseshoe magnet are applied to her left arm and that spot exhibits sensibility, while the rest of the body remains in its previous state. The same magnet, placed in contact with the leg, instead of bringing the limb back to life, produces a violent contraction of the foot, drawing the toes to the heel; it ceases but upon an application of electricity.
“These experiments of metallotherapia and mineral magnetism remind one of the gropings of Mesmer in 1774, and of his applications of magnetized pieces in the case of nervous diseases,” says Mr. Pony, the medical student, in his letter to the Journal du Magnétisme, and an eye-witness.
Another subject is brought. She is hysterical like the first
* See Revue Magnétique for February, 1879, edited by Donato at Paris.
one, and appears in a state of complete anaesthesia. A strong ray of electric light is directed on her, and the patient is instantaneously cataleptized. She is made to assume the most unnatural positions; and, according to the attitude commanded, have her countenance “by suggestion,” says Dr. Charcot, “express that which her gestures imply. Thus her hands, crossed on her bosom, are followed by an expression of ecstasy on her face; her arms, stretched forward, produce in her features an air of supplication. . . .”
If, while the subject is in this state, the luminous ray is abruptly withdrawn, the patient collapses and falls again into somnambulism—a word which shocks Professor Charcot beyond description. At the command of the physician, and while he proves her utter insensibility by sticking pins in every portion of her body, the patient is made to obey the doctor at every word of command. He forces her to rise, to walk, to write, etc.
In a letter from Mr. Aksakoff, which is published further on, it will be seen that Donato, the professional magnetizer produces by will power all that is produced by the sceptical savant by electricity and mechanical means. Does the latter experiment prove that mesmerism is but a name? Can we not, rather, see in both a mutual corroboration; a proof, moreover, of the presence in man’s system of all those subtle powers of nature, the grosser manifestations of which are only known to us as electricity and magnetism, and the finer escaping entirely the scrutiny of physical science?
But one of the most curious features of the phenomenon, brought on by Dr. Charcot’s experiments, is to be found in the effect produced on his patients by vibrations like those felt on a railway train. Upon perceiving it, the illustrious professor had a huge diapason, 40 centimeters high, placed upon a large chest. As soon as this instrument is made to vibrate, the patients at once fall into catalepsy; and whenever the vibrations are abruptly stopped, the patients sink into complete somnambulism.
It would seem, then, that Dr. Charcot, in order to produce the above described effects, uses but two agents—sound and light. Thus, this assurance may become of an
immense importance to all the Aryan students of Theosophy, especially to those who study the Sanskrit, and who, thanks to Swami Dayanand, are now enabled to learn the real and spiritual meaning of certain disputed words. Those of our Fellows who have mastered the occult significance of the words Vach and Hiranyagarbha* in their application to “sound” and “light” will have in the above an additional proof of the great wisdom of their forefathers, and the profound and spiritual knowledge contained in the Vedas, and even in other sacred Brahmanical books, when properly interpreted.
In considering the phenomena produced by Dr. Charcot, the cold materialist and man of science, it is highly interesting to read a letter on his own personal experiences in magnetism, with the famous magnetizer, Mr. Donato, of Paris, by Alexandre Aksakoff, F.T.S., Russian Imperial Councillor, which was recently addressed by him to a French journal. The results obtained are all the more worthy of notice from the fact that Mr. Donato had not previously attempted the so-called “transmission of thought” from one person to another by the mere will of the magnetizer and
* Translated by Professor Max Müller as “gold,” whereas it really means “divine light,” in the exact sense understood by the mediaeval alchemists. In his Sanskrit work, Sâhitya Grantha, the learned philologist, on the ground that the word “gold”, Hiranya. is found in the Mantra Agnihi Poorvebhihi, takes the opportunity of going against the antiquity of the Vedas, and to prove that they are not as old as commonly thought, since the exploration of gold-mines is of comparatively modern date. In his turn, Swami Dayanand Saraswati shows in his Rig-vedâdi-Bhâshya Bhûmika, Book IV. p. 76, that the Professor is entirely wrong. The word Hiranya does not mean “gold” but the golden light of divine knowledge, the first principle in whose womb is contained the light of the eternal truth which illuminates the liberated soul when it has reached its highest abode. It is, in short, the “Philosopher’s Stone” of the alchemist, and the Eternal Light of the Fire Philosopher.—Ed., Theos.
[Agnih pûrvebhih are the first two words from the second verse of the Hymn to Agni, Rigveda, I, 1. In pronouncing, h carries over vowel preceding it. The Sanskrit work referred to is the Hindi Introduction to Swâmi Dayânanda’s Rigveda-bhâshya.—Compiler.]
felt and expressed considerable doubt as to the success of his efforts in that direction.
Two French papers, the Rappel and the Voltaire, have borne flattering testimony to the character and attainments of Mr. Donato, and he is generally known as one of those men who have dared to quit the ruts traced by habit and tradition, and investigate, to quote his own words, “the occult motor which animates us, the mysterious forces which create life, the bonds that unite us to one another, our mutual affinities, and our connection with the supreme power, the eternal lever of the world.”
So much for Mr. Donato. As to Aksakoff, he is a highly intelligent and truthful gentleman; reputed to be, in his earnest researches in the domain of magnetism and psychology not only a cautious investigator, but rather of a too distrustful nature. We here give the verbatim translation of his article published by him in La Revue Magnétique, of February, 1879.
MONSIEUR DONATO AND MLLE. LUCILE: EXPERIENCES IN
Having had the pleasure of making, at Paris, the acquaintance of Mr. Donato and of his amiable and excellent pupil, I did not wish to lose the opportunity of attempting an experiment, under my own direction, to ascertain the possibility of transmitting thought from one human being to another by the vehicle of the will alone. It is known that one of the most ordinary aphorisms of modern psychology is: “Psychological activity cannot go beyond the periphery of the nerves.” If then it can be proved that human thought is not limited to the domain of the body, but that it can act at a distance upon another human body, transmit itself to another brain without visible and recognised communication, and be reproduced by word, movement, or any other means, we obtain an immense fact before which material physiology should bow down, and which should be seized by psychology and philosophy to give a new support and a new development to their metaphysical speculations. This fact has in many ways and under many forms been proved by animal magnetism; but in the experiments which I planned, I wished to see it presented in a form at once convincing and easy to reproduce by any person acquainted with magnetism.
When I asked Mr. Donato if he would accord me a private interview for certain experiments which I had in view, he consented willingly
and promised to hold himself at my service for the day and hour I should indicate. So, having announced myself by a telegram, I went to his house on the 17th of November at two o’clock, and after a few minutes’ conversation, we began our work.
First experiment.—I begged Mr. Donato to commence by putting to sleep his subject, Mlle. Lucile, and he at once placed an armchair between the two windows of the room and a few paces from the wall; in it Mlle. Lucile seated herself, and slept (magnetically) in a few moments. We took our places at the other end of the room, opposite the sleeper, and I then drew from my pocket a card-case from which I took a card and handed it to Mr. Donato, begging him, simply by looking at Mlle. Lucile, to induce her to make the movement indicated on the card. On it was written “Extend the left arm.” Mr. Donato rose, remained motionless near me, and looked at Mlle. Lucile; after an instant her left arm began to move, slowly extended itself, and remained in that position until Mr. Donato replaced it by her side.
Second experiment.—I passed to Mr. Donato a white handkerchief which I had brought with me, and begged him to cover with it the face and head of Mlle. Lucile. This being done, and the edges of the handkerchief falling on her shoulders, we took our places again, and in silence I gave to Mr. Donato a second card on which was written, “Raise the right arm vertically.” Mr. Donato fixed his eyes on the motionless body of Mlle. Lucile and soon her right arm, obedient to the thought which directed it, executed the movement indicated—slowly, gently, stopping always when Mr. Donato turned his head to look at me. I felicitated him on his success and begged him that all danger of overfatigue might be avoided, to remove the handkerchief and awake Mlle. Lucile.
Third experiment.—After ten minutes of conversation, Mlle. Lucile is again asleep, and her head covered by the handkerchief; we resume our places, and I pass to Mr. Donato a third card bearing the words, “Put both hands upon your head,” and I asked Mr. Donato to stand this time behind Mlle. Lucile. He expresses some doubt as to the possibility of success in this position, but makes the attempt and fails; a fact which did not surprise me, as the polaric connection between the operator and his subject was reversed. At this moment I approached Mr. Donato and a remarkable phenomenon was produced. As I wished to ask the magnetizer to concentrate his will on the occiput of the sleeper, my hand made an involuntary movement towards her back to indicate the place named, and while it was still some inches distant, Mlle. Lucile moved suddenly forward. Thus I obtained in an unexpected and conclusive manner the confirmation of the phenomenon of polarity, or of attraction and repulsion, which I had already observed at the public representations, and which proves very clearly that the sleep of Mlle. Lucile was neither natural nor feigned. “If you will allow me to use my hands,” said Mr. Donato, “I am sure to succeed.”
TEOTIHUACÁN, MEXICO—PYRAMID OF THE SUN
(From Eugen Kusch, Mexiko im Bild, 1967. Courtesy
Hans Carl, Publisher, Nürnberg, Germany.)
PALENQUE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO—TEMPLE OF INSCRIPTIONS
(From Eugen Kusch, Mexiko im Bild, 1967. Courtesy
Hans Carl, Publisher, Nürnberg, Germany.)
“Use them,” I said, and, still behind Mlle. Lucile, he made a few passes from the shoulders to the elbows, when the hands of the subject rising slowly placed themselves upon her head.
Fourth experiment.—Mlle. Lucile still remaining asleep with her head under the handkerchief, I give to Mr. Donato a card on which was written, “Join the hands as if praying,” and I place myself on a sofa to the left of Mlle. Lucile, the better to observe the movements of Mr. Donato. He remains motionless at five or six paces from her and looks at her fixedly; her hands take the desired position and retain it until Mr. Donato removes the handkerchief and awakes her.
Fifth experiment.—After ten minutes’ rest, Mlle. Lucile goes back to the arm-chair and is again put to sleep. The fifth card orders her to make a knot with the handkerchief, and Mr. Donato, placing himself behind Mlle. Lucile, extends his hand over her head without touching her. She rises and he directs her by his thought towards the table on which the handkerchief has, unknown to her, been placed. Obeying the attraction of the hand, she reaches the table, Mr. Donato still keeping the same position behind her, and I standing near him. With growing interest we watch her movements, and see her hand seize the handkerchief, draw out one of its ends, and tie a knot. Mr. Donato himself was astonished, for this time it was no longer a simple exercise of will, but a thought transmitted and executed!
Sixth and last experiment.—It was almost useless to continue, but as Mr. Donato insisted, I handed him another card with the following inscription, “Touch your left car with your right hand.” Mlle. Lucile still asleep was already back in her arm-chair; Mr. Donato stood in front of her, and I occupied my former place on the sofa. Motionless and silent, the magnetizer looked at his subject, whose right arm soon executed the order given, by three successive movements, the hand approaching the breast, and then the ear, which it finally touched.
These experiments were for me perfectly conclusive; Mlle. Lucile executed the movements desired without the least hesitation. The thoughts that Mr. Donato was to transmit to her were indicated to him by me only by cards prepared in advance, and in most cases he acted on her from a distance which rendered any conventional sign or signal difficult, even if her face had not been covered with a handkerchief, which I had ascertained was thick enough to hide from her any slight sign given by the hands or face of Mr. Donato; besides which it would have required a very complicated system of minute telegraphy to indicate the movements required.
I asked Mr. Donato if he had ever attempted to produce anything of the kind in public, and he answered that these experiments exacted very harmonious conditions, difficult to obtain in large assemblies, and that he did not like to risk a failure. I think if Mr. Donato would exercise his pupil oftener in this direction, he would finish by producing a series of public phenomena of this kind with the same ease
with which he produces the others. It would be well worth the trouble, for none can deny that these experiments illustrate especially the phenomena of lucidity and clairvoyance, and present them in their simplest and clearest form.
As I left Paris the day after our interview, I could only express my satisfaction to Mr. Donato by a little note which was printed in No. 16 of La Revue. It is with great pleasure that I now fulfil my promise to publish all the details of our experiments, and I profit by this opportunity to signify publicly to Mr. Donato my high appreciation of the zeal, knowledge, and loyalty with which he devotes himself to the defence and promulgation of the most interesting science of human magnetism.
15th January, 1879.
St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect, No. 6.
*Russian translator of the Magnétisme et magnétothérapie of the Count Franz von Szapary, St. Petersburg, 1860; editor of the German Review, Psychische Studien.
[Vide the Bio-Bibliographical Index of Vol. I, for comprehensive data concerning Alexander Nikolayevich Aksakoff.—Compiled.]