Thursday Morning, April 27, 1843
The true power of Human, or Animal Magnetism, is reported to have been discovered by Anthony Mesmer, a Swiss, physician, in about the year 1750. He appeared in Paris in 1788, and by his wonderful developments of the mysteries of this power, excited the astonishment and curiosity of the distinguished literary men of that age. Mesmer seems to have used his power of magnetizing in curing diseases, and would often mysteriously perform certain ceremonies by steel rods, tubes and cords, which were supposed to convey a certain power from magnetized trees, plants, and water, to which they were attached. In 1784 the French King directed a committee of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Paris to investigate the subject, and report their opinion of its merits. Dr. Franklin was in Paris at that time, and was a member of the committee. From the investigations of this committee, and their conclusion, we can have no very favorable opinion of the science; for they attributed what they witnessed in the experiments before them, to strong imagination.
The Rev. Mr. Townsend, an English gentleman, in speaking upon the report of this committee, says “Say what you will, the important point in Mesmerism,” which is only another name for Animal Magnetism, “the strange influence of man upon his fellows, was conceded by the committee, in terms the most explicit.” In 1825, this subject was again brought before the Academy, at the suggestion of Dr. Foissac. The multitude of facts, which had accumulated on the subject, induced the Academy to appoint a second committee to investigate the affair. After four years careful investigation, a report was made favorable to Magnetism.
From France, a knowledge of this subject soon spread throughout many of the countries of Europe, as Germany, Russia, Prussia, Great Britain, &c. and innumerable works have been written upon the subject in various languages. The progress of this science in Great Britain, however, has not advanced so far as in our own country, although the distinguished Dr. John Elliotson, President of the London University Hospital, and the Rev. Chauncey Hare Townsend, of the established Church, are believers and advocates of this science.
Charles Poyen, a French gentleman, claims the honor of first introducing this science into the United States in 1836. He travelled through the New England States and we had the pleasure of hearing one of his first lectures. But Mons. Poyen met with very little success. His book published in 1837, entitled the “Progress of Animal Magnetism in New England,” is an interesting and scientific work. Few men were found who devoted any time to the investigation of the science at that time, and the subject was finally driven from the public mind by public burlesque.
A few years passed away, and many new facts having come to light, the subject was renewed. Dr. Collyer, who is familiarly known to most of the citizens of New England, publicly lectured upon this unpopular science. From this moment a strong excitement arose in the discussion of the subject, which has led to a more close investigation of the science; and the results of this investigation have proved beyond a doubt the existence of this mysterious power.
Among the distinguished persons who have been successful magnetizers, beside the above, are Dr. D. Gilbert, Benjamin T. Nyman, Esq. the Rev. J. B. Dods, Mrs. Furgus, Silas Allen, Esq. the Rev. John Pierpont, &c. of Boston, and several gentlemen of New York, Philadelphia, Hartford, and Louisville, Kentucky. In our own State we have John Neal, Esq. and Professor Ingraham of Portland, and Mr. P. P. Quimby of Belfast.
It is not our design now to go into a philosophical discussion of the truths of Mesmerism, or Animal Magnetism, but to give a few of the experiments, we have had the pleasure of witnessing, under the direction of Mr. Quimby. Before we proceed to the experiments, we will say Mr. Quimby is a gentleman in size rather smaller than the medium of man, with a well proportioned and well balanced Phrenological head, and with the power of concentration surpassing any thing we have ever witnessed. His eyes are black and very piercing, with rather a pleasant expression, and he possesses the power of looking at one object without even winking for a great length of time. Thus when he commences to magnetize, he fixes his eyes upon the subject’s, and neither moves nor winks until he entirely accomplishes his object.
We were present a few days since when a subject was under the magnetic influence, and saw some few experiments upon local magnetism, clairvoyance, &c. When the subject was thoroughly magnetized, and the bandages placed over the eyes, Quimby placed his finger upon the organ of Self Esteem, and inquired whether it was not very wrong to allow slavery in this country, and was answered, no, no!—that slavery was one of the best institutions in the world, and that one half of the world were just fit to be the slaves of the other! He then asked the magnetized, what he thought of himself, and was answered that he possessed all power, that he should one day be a great man, that he should be Governor, and even more, that he should one day be PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! Just as he had spoken the above, Quimby passed his hand to the organ of Reverence, and the subject instantly changed his tone and thoughts, and said, oh! he should never be any thing but a poor miserable mechanic, that he could not do any thing, &c. Changing the hand to Self Esteem, the subject instantly commenced his important manner of talking as in the first instance. Quimby placed his fingers upon the organ of Alimentiveness, and the subject immediately commenced talking about good living, and how much he could eat, and said one would be astonished to see the amount of food he consumed in his family; and then named over several rich, palatable articles, which he could relish. An apple was presented, and he snatched and devoured it like a half starved man. Quimby then asked him to examine a person present, and tell him the cause of locality of the disease, the pain and irritation, &c. which he readily did correctly. A lock of hair was presented, and he told whose it was, and being requested, also examined and described the disease of the individual to whom the lock of hair belonged. He examined several other persons, who were not present, and his description of the pain and feelings corresponded with the real pain and feelings as described by these individuals themselves. He was placed in communication with a small boy, and requested to take him to New York and describe the city to him, which he did, and began to describe the buildings in the city with much interest. Neither the mesmerized nor the boy had even been in New York except when under the magnetic influence. He was then sent in search of the Ship Arbella, which sailed not long since from this port, and found her in latitude 27 North. He also visited several other vessels from this port, and told where they were, and described who were on board, &c. He announced the arrival in New York of a certain gentleman belonging to this place, and told about what time he would arrive here, which proved to be correct, as the gentleman has arrived and testified to the facts. Quimby then sent him in pursuit of a handkerchief, which he had recently lost, and he told where it was, and described the person who took it, but did not give his name.
At another time we were placed in communication with the mesmerized, and after some conversation, agreed to visit a town about seventy miles from this place. I then took him in my imagination to the place I wished him to go, and then, so far as I could, dismissed all thought upon the objects around him, and requested him to describe whom he saw, and whatever might interest him. He went on to say how many persons were present, and then immediately exclaimed that a particular person was present whom he had seen, about whom I wished to inquire. This was the only person of the family he had ever seen, and he inquired of me who the others were, saying he did not know their names. I then requested him to visit, with me, Bowdoin College, and took him into Prof. Cleaveland's Chemical Laboratory, the Anatomical Museum, Collection of Minerals, birds, shells, &c. he wished to stop and see what was in a glass jar, which he described in a precise manner, and was unwilling to leave the room as soon as I wished. After passing around in other departments, I requested him to return to Belfast. He said he had seen a good deal which interested him, and very politely thanked me for my kindness in showing him attention. We soon arrived in Belfast safe. The subject has never been in Brunswick, and knows nothing of what he had seen under the magnetic influence. We have seen other curious experiments performed with equal success, too numerous to mention.
From the above experiments and others, many of which are of the true clairvoyant character, we come to this conclusion,—that Human Magnetism, or Mesmerism, is an indescribable, unseen something, exercised by the magnetizer upon the magnetized, and that it entirely overcomes with sleep the body, through which the mind ordinarily receives its ideas from external objects, and that it gives another and clearer medium of communication of thought to the soul; which acts entirely separate from and independent of the body,—that this communicated power enables the soul to be more like its original self, and that in its existence in this state, there is no such time as distance and space,—that it can behold all things, however distant or near, and look through all material bodies.
We are not prepared to say to what degree these investigations, if continued, may not progress, and improve society and the world.
[“I. N. Felch” and “Belfast” are handwritten at the side of this article. Note: Isaac Newton Felch was the editor of the Belfast, Maine, Waldo Signal on this date (April 27, 1843), and is probably the author of this article. Felch would later become the editor of the Portland, Maine, Evening Courier, and the Portland, Maine, Daily Evening Courier, in the 1860s.—Ron Hughes]