Both Van Helmont and Paracelsus agree as to the great potency of the will in the state of ecstasy; they say that “the spirit is everywhere diffused; and the spirit is the medium of magnetism”; that pure primeval magic does not consist in superstitious practices and vain ceremonies but in the imperial will of man. “It is not the spirits of heaven and of hell which are the masters over physical nature, but the soul and spirit of man which are concealed in him as the fire is concealed in the flint.”

The theory of the sidereal influence on man was enunciated by all the mediaeval philosophers. “The stars consist equally of the elements

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of earthly bodies,” says Cornelius Agrippa, “and therefore the ideas attract each other. . . . Influences only go forth through the help of the spirit; but this spirit is diffused through the whole universe and is in full accord with the human spirits. The magician who would acquire supernatural powers must possess faith, love, and hope. . . . In all things there is a secret power concealed, and thence come the miraculous powers of magic.”

The modern theory of General Pleasonton singularly coincides with the views of the fire-philosophers. His view of the positive and negative electricities of man and woman, and the mutual attraction and repulsion of everything in nature seems to be copied from that of Robert Fludd, the Grand Master of the Rosicrucians of England. “When two men approach each other,” says the fire-philosopher, “their magnetism is either passive or active; that is, positive or negative. If the emanations which they send out are broken or thrown back, there arises antipathy. But when the emanations pass through each other from both sides, then there is positive magnetism, for the rays proceed from the centre to the circumference. In this case they not only affect sicknesses but also moral sentiments. This magnetism or sympathy is found not only among animals but also in plants and in minerals.”

And now we will notice how, when Mesmer had imported into France his “baquet” and system based entirely on the philosophy and doctrines of the Paracelsites — the great psychological and physiological discovery was treated by the physicians. It will demonstrate how much ignorance, superficiality, and prejudice can be displayed by a scientific body, when the subject clashes with their own cherished theories. It is the more important because, to the neglect of the committee of the French Academy of 1784 is probably due the present materialistic drift of the public mind; and certainly the gaps in the atomic philosophy which we have seen its most devoted teachers confessing to exist. The committee of 1784 comprised men of such eminence as Borie, Sallin, d’Arcet, and the famous Guillotin, to whom were subsequently added, Franklin, Leroi, Bailly, De Borg and Lavoisier. Borie died shortly afterward and Magault succeeded him. There can be no doubt of two things, viz.: that the committee began their work under strong prejudices and only because peremptorily ordered to do it by the king; and that their manner of observing the delicate facts of mesmerism was injudicious and illiberal. Their report, drawn by Bailly, was intended to be a death-blow to the new science. It was spread ostentatiously throughout all the schools and ranks of society, arousing the bitterest feelings

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among a large portion of the aristocracy and rich commercial class, who had patronized Mesmer and had been eye-witnesses of his cures. Ant. L. de Jussieu, an academician of the highest rank, who had thoroughly investigated the subject with the eminent court-physician, d’Eslon, published a counter-report drawn with minute exactness, in which he advocated the careful observation by the medical faculty of the therapeutic effects of the magnetic fluid and insisted upon the immediate publication of their discoveries and observations. His demand was met by the appearance of a great number of memoirs, polemical works, and dogmatical books developing new facts; and Thouret’s works entitled Recherches et Doutes sur le Magnetisme Animal, displaying a vast erudition, stimulated research into the records of the past, and the magnetic phenomena of successive nations from the remotest antiquity were laid before the public.

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