Guide Rêveurs dours (Nature t. 1) (French Edition)

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From Cadiz it will be taken by short trips to the royal family. It is hoped that the female will be captured so that the species will not die out in Europe. The species seems to be that of harpies, heretofore considered legendary. The discovery by a M. This was no absurd opinion at a time when ovists, animalculists, preformationists, and panspermatists out- did each other in speculation about sexual generation; when Restif de la Bretonne and, evidently, Mirabeau believed that Frederick II had produced centaurs and satyrs by experiments with sodomy; and when Jacques- Pierre Brissot feared that sodomy would disfigure the human race, noting that "everyone has heard of the child-calf and the child- wolf.

The Journal de Bruxelles applauded the invention of an "hydrostatergatic" machine for traveling underwater but raised doubts about the canvas wings and tail with which a man proposed to fly in Provence: "These experiments have gone to the heads of the weak-minded to such an extent that hardly a day goes by without some more or less extravagant project being named and believed. Renaux sized up the mood of his contemporaries in a prospectus he circulated in Paris. He asked only for a subscription of 24, iivres and a lodging in the Ecole Militaire in return for devel- oping a machine that would fly without gas or smoke , Memoires secrets, November 27, , pp.

London, ; Courier de I'Europe, January 9, , p. Brissot, Theorie des loix criminelles Berlin, , I, Moreover he promised new methods of heating and cooling apartments, salvaging sunken ships, com- municating thoughts with great speed over great dis- tances, and seeing objects on other planets as clearly as if they were on earth. Cagliostro was only the most famous of the many alchemists Mercier found in Paris. Unable to afford proper doctors, the poor turned, as always, to the cheaper exploitation of the quacks and faithhealers in the underworld of medicine — and probably fared better for it.

Such practices probably had always existed, but in July a Parisian correspon- dent of the Journal de Bruxelles remarked on the era's peculiar plethora of "hermetic, cabalistic, and theosophic philosophers, propagating fanatically all the old absurdi- ties of theurgy, of divination, of astrology etc. Labre de Damette, the beggar-healer; and unidentifiable others — St. Hubert, the genie Alael, the "prophete de la rue des Moineaux," the faith-healer of the rue des Ciseaux, the "toucheur" who cured by mystic signs and touches, the purveyors of an all-curative "sympathetic powder" in- vented by Sir Kenelm Digby in the seventeenth century, Journal de Bruxelles, February 14, , pp.

Even serious scientists had long been publishing accounts in the Journal des Sgavans and the Journal de Physique of marvels like talking dogs and basilisks whose looks killed quicker than bullets. To maintain that certain fountains dried up when impure women bathed in them was to demonstrate common sense in a day when the heritage of alchemy, with its myths about magic potions that caused im- mortality and cured all diseases, could not easily be dismissed as nonsense.

Alchemists, sorcerers, and fortune tellers had imbedded themselves so deeply in Parisian life that the police found them to be better even than priests at spying and providing secret information. Honest spiritualists like L. Willermoz, and J. Lavater also flourished. They were cited in mes- merist works and practiced mesmerism themselves. Spiritualism seemed to complement the efforts of scien- tists like Goethe and Goethe's Faust to penetrate the vitalistic forces in the very marrow of the matter that A typical plan for flying machines.

It illustrates the gadgeteering aspect of the enthusiasm for popular science and shows the ancestry of modern fantasies about travel through space. The "aeronauts" have left their airships and are landing by means of their "aerostatic clothes," which also help them to navigate in water. The two balloons, full of inflammable air, follow a set direction, while the third, destitute of its gas and sustained by the immense surface it exposes to the air, is directed with the help of a rudder to a favorable place.

The two travelers who float in the air with aero- static costumes and "manivoles" in their hands have left that vessel, as has the traveler on the ground. He has his costume tucked up and his "manivoles" near him. They all have cork jackets to help them skim along the water. A compass on the front of the jackets is in- tended to guide the travelers when fog or distance prevent them from seeing earth. The sort of crow's nest on top of the balloons is to hold a man who could help in maneuvering the sails.

Mesmerism seemed to be a spiritualist science; in fact some mesmerists described it as a modern, scien- tific version of the mystic strain in Jansenism: the convul- sionaries had suffered mesmeric crises and ". James Graham. The quotations come from the Mercure, March 13, , p. Bailly avec celles de M. Philadelphia, , p. On these and other forms of occultism, see: Memoires secrets, August 11, , pp. Hervier et de ses adhe- rents , p. London, , p. D'Epremesnil, a I'occasion de quelques ecrits anonymes qu'il a recus de Beaucaire par la poste For a description of a typical alchemist session of the 's, see R.

Le Suire pseudonym , Le Philosophe parvenu. London, , I, On the police and spiritualism, see Memoires tires des archives de la police de Paris. Peuchet Paris, , III, 98, The indispensable general study of this obscure subject is Auguste Viatte, Les sources occultes du romantisme, illuminisme-theosophie , 2 vols. A satirical picture of the fashionable, foppish sort of amateur scientist. This "physicist" plans to escape his creditors and his mistresses by flying away in a balloon outfit. The little-master physicist.

By , Mercier himself, whose Tableau de Paris reflected most nuances of opinion in prerevolutionary Paris, had moved beyond mesmerism to the belief of a "new sect" that the world was full of invisible ghosts. Such beliefs did not mark one as an eccentric in those days; they were the height of fashion. For example, a play, Les illumines, featured Cleante, "a fashionable young man and an illuminist" un jeune homme a la mode et illumine , dominating a debate in a stylish salon.

Cleante adopted "that sentimental language that makes us transmit our thoughts from one pole to the other" in order to com- municate with ghosts and to defend mesmerism. Even the most occult of Mesmer's followers rejected any sug- gestion that they were repudiating the scientific advances of their century.

Court de Gebelin, the highly esteemed author of he Monde Primitif, described mesmerism and "the supernatural sciences" as the natural products of recent scientific discoveries. One of his fellow mes- merists exulted that "physics would take the place of magic everywhere"; and another explained, "Above science is magic, because magic follows it, not as an effect, but as its perfection.

Bailly, the author of the royal commission's report con- demning mesmerism, held scientific theories that, as mesmerist pamphlets noted, embarrassingly resembled Mesmer's, and readers might even confuse the description of caloric by Lavoisier, another member of the commis- sion, with Mesmer's account of his fluid. Rousseau, Buffon, Marat, Bertholon. Mesmerism played a role in this movement, too: it showed the point at which the two extremes met. But it had not reached this point in the mid's, when a wit put it neatly in perspective: Autrefois Moliniste Ensuite Janseniste Puis Encyclopediste Et puis Economiste A present Mesmeriste.

Barbier Alexis Dureau is certainly wrong in attributing it to Pierre Didot, who, as a member of the Society of Harmony, would not have satirized mesmerism ; Court de Gebelin, Lettre de Vautcur du Monde Primitif a Messieurs ses souscripteurs sur le magnetisme animal Paris, , pp. Amsterdam, , p. Galart de Montjoie exposed the parallels between the ideas of Bailly and Gebelin in Lettres sur le magnetisme animal.

On Lavoisier's caloric, see his description of it in Traite elementaire de chimie, I, 4 "un fluide tres-subtil qui s'insinue a travers les molecules de tous les corps et qui les ecarte" , and Maurice Daumas, Lavoisier, theoricien et experimentateur Paris, , pp. The mesmerist list of philosophes is in Appel au public sur le magnetisme animal.

The epigram, from the Memoires secrets, May 25, , p. Although it is difficult to measure this interest with any precision, it certainly varied, mounting steadily from to and declining after ; and contemporary accounts indicate unmistakably that, as La Harpe put it, mesmerism prevailed as "an epidemic that has overcome all of France. Even the Almanack des Muses for is full of poems mostly hostile about it. The book- seller S. Hardy noted in his private journal that the "frenzy" of mesmerism had overcome even the passion for balloon flights.


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One is dazzled with its marvels, and if one admits doubts about its powers It was investigated by the police, patronized by the queen, ridiculed several times on the stage, burlesqued in popular songs, doggerels, and car- toons, practiced in a network of masonic-like secret La Harpe, Correspondance Utteraire. The enormous interest in mesmerism provides some clues to the mentality of literate Frenchmen on the eve of the Revolution. In the pamphlet literature during the decade before the calling of the Estates General one rarely meets any sophisticated political ideas or analysis of key issues like the land tax.

French pamphleteers produced at least twice as many works on mesmerism as on the six- month political crisis accompanying the first Assembly of Notables. Failing to foresee the Revolution, Frenchmen did not interest themselves in political theory. They dis- cussed mesmerism and other apolitical fads, like balloon flights. Why, indeed, should they have tortured them- selves with the difficult and seemingly irrelevant abstrac- tions of the Social Contract when they could fill their thoughts with Chilean monsters, flying machines, and the other miracles offered them by the wonderful, invis- ible powers of science?

True, the censorship prevented serious discussion of politics in publications like the journal de Paris, France's only daily paper. But the hottest topics of all, the subjects that provoked debates and aroused passions, the items with "news value" in the eyes of contemporary journalists, were mesmerism, balloon flights, and the other marvels of popular science.

Politics took place in the remote world of Versailles, often in the form of obscure intrigues around ill-defined factions like that of the Baron de Breteuil, the Minister of the Department of Paris, and that of Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, the Controller-General, and these intrigues had little relevance to the lives of most Frenchmen before the prerevolutionary crisis of In the eyes of the literate public, what was a critical political event, like the death of the foreign minister Vergennes, compared with the death of Pilatre de Rozier, the hero balloonist, after his Montgolfiere- Charliere caught fire and crashed during his attempt to fly across the English Channel on June 15, ?

Pilatre's death, not the Assembly of Notables, aroused the pamph- leteering instinct in Jean-Paul Marat, who lamented, "He [Pilatre] was deaf to my voice, and, like another Cassandra, I cried in the desert. The point may seem labored, but it is worth emphasizing, because no one has ever taken mesmerism and the other forms of popular science seriously — virtually no one, that is, since the French of the 's. They looked out on a world so different from our own that we can hardly per- ceive it; for our view is blocked by our own cosmologies, The death of Pilatre de Rozier after his balloon caught fire dur- ing his attempt to cross the Channel on June 15, He had bragged earlier that he could cross the Atlantic in two days, if winds were favorable.

The disaster checked the vogue of balloon flights, which in its heyday had raised issues like the influence of science on warfare, but which floundered on the more mun- dane problem of how to guide balloons when the winds were not favorable. In the eighteenth century, the view of literate French- men opened upon a splendid, baroque universe, where their gaze rode on waves of invisible fluid into realms of infinite speculation. It should help us understand the mentality of these men if we consider that on the eve of the Revolution they communicated with ghosts, with remote planets, and with one another Marat's remark is in his anonymous pamphlet, Lettres de I'observateur bon-sens a M.

Marat had a remote connection with Robespierre's famous light- ning rod case; see A. Cabanes, Marat inconnu: I'homme prive, le medecin, le savant, 2 ed. Greenlaw estimated that there were political pamphlets published during the first six months of in his statistical work on this surprisingly unstudied subject, "Pamphlet Literature on the Eve of the French Revolution," Journal of Modern History, XXIX , An estimate made in put the number of mesmerist pamphlets at Appel au public sur le magnetisme animal This figure seems reliable, for there are works in the incomplete collection of prerevolutionary mesmerist writings in the Bibliotheque Nationals The Mercure of October 20, , pp.

Their thoughts drifted about among the clusters of attitudes — flighty, nebulous, and at times imperceptible to someone peering through two centuries of time — that made up the High Enlightenment.

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Despite its difficulties, an investigation of that remote mental universe should improve the understanding of pre- revolutionary radicalism; for radical ideas filtered down to the reading public, not as so many citations of Rousseau, but as components of contemporary interests. One may therefore turn to mesmerism, the greatest vogue of the 's, to see how the radical movement worked its way into the minds of ordinary literate Frenchmen. Its Jehovah-like founder spoke mainly through disciples like Nicolas Bergasse, who preached to the faithful for him and wrote the letters and pamph- lets issued in his name.

His authentic voice lies buried in history; even his contemporaries failed to understand it, for it reached them in an impenetrable German accent that made the gibberish of Cagliostro sound like clarity itself. One cannot even get close enough to the man to determine whether or not he was a charlatan; if he was, he certainly dwarfed his fellow quacks.

A friend and patron of Mozart, a personage of the first order in Paris, he exerted an influence on his age that testifies to the power of the personality hidden in his robes and rituals, the power that we appropriately acknowledge in expres- sions such as a "mesmerized" audience or a "magnetic" personality.

He studied and then practiced medicine in Vienna, where the faculty of medicine accepted the mixture of astrology and Newtonianism that he offered as his doctoral thesis, De planetarum influxu, in In he ran a magnetic clinic in company with a 1. This account of the mesmerist movement is based on: F. Mesmer, Memoire sur la decouverte du magnetisme animal Geneva, ; Mesmer, Precis historique des faits relatifs au mangetisme animal. Lon- don, ; Mesmer, Lettre de Vauteur de la decouverte du magnetisme animal a Vauteur des Reflexions preliminaires.

Nicolas Bergasse, Obser- vations de M. Bergasse sur un ecrit du Docteur Mesmer. London, ; Bergasse, Supplement aux Observations. Duval d'Epremesnil, Sommes versees entre les mains de Monsieur Mesmer. Charles-Louis Varnier. Paris, ; F. The interpretation here of the general character of mesmerism is based upon a reading of the mesmerist collections in the Bibliotheque Nationale and the British Museum.

Gassner, found that he could cure disease by manipulating the magnetic fluid without magnets. After his practice of "animal" as opposed to "mineral" magnetism antagonized the faculty of medicine, he decided to leave for Paris, the mecca of the marvelous in eighteenth-century Europe. Mesmer arrived in Paris in February with intro- ductions to some well-placed persons and established his first tub in an apartment of the Place Vendome. His imposing manner, his apparatus, and his early cures soon aroused enough attention for him to be invited to outline his theory before the Academy of Sciences.

The academicians ignored him, however, and he fell back upon another tactic. He retired to the nearby village of Creteil with a group of patients he had accumulated and invited the academy to verify his cures. When the academy also snubbed this offer, he requested an investi- gation from the Royal Society of Medicine; but he quar- reled over the verification of his patients' diseases with the commissioners sent by the society, and it refused to have any further dealings with him.

Next Mesmer turned to the medical faculty of the University of Paris. His first important convert, Charles Deslon, a docteur regent of the faculty and premier medecin of the Comte d'Artois, presented him to twelve faculty doctors at a dinner party. But the doctors refused to take his Germanic metaphysics seriously and later declined even to accept a copy of his first French publication, Memoire sur le magnetisme animal, Mesmer.

These cures, publicized by a growing number of mesmerist pamphlets, attracted ever more attention and won Mesmer a steadily increasing number of converts, including some influential persons. Mesmer's success among the fashionable amateur scientists alarmed the professionals, who by began attacking him in pamphlets and vitriolic articles in the Journal de Medecine and the Gazette de Sante. The mesmerists replied in kind, led by their master, whose Precis historique des faits relatifs au magnetisme animal set the tone of injured in- nocence and opposition to the scientific establishment that was to characterize mesmerist writing.

While the violence and volume of the pamphlet war increased, the faculty resolved to extirpate the heresy by striking Deslon off its rolls. Deslon's expulsion aroused even more con- troversy, for the faculty, like most faculties, suffered from internal rivalries; 30 of its young doctors declared themselves partisans of the new medicine, and Deslon bravely defied the old guard by challenging them to com- pete with Mesmer in the treatment of 24 patients, to be chosen by lot.

The conservative majority of the faculty counterattacked with a decree giving the 30 a choice of taking an oath of loyalty to orthodox medicine or being expelled. Two of the doctors followed Deslon into the freer field of popular medicine, publishing manifestos against "the most absolute despotism of opinion" of the faculty. Deslon's own expulsion, a complicated process of dramatic faculty meetings, negotiations, and legal maneuvers from September to September , provided the mesmerists with a martyr whose effective- ness was spoiled only by his concurrent quarrels with Mesmer and ultimately by his death while being mes- merized in August Mesmer had his own health to worry about.

Marie-Antoinette, apparently influenced by mesmerist courtiers like the Comte de Segur, intervened to rescue her people by having Maurepas and other government officials negotiate with Mesmer in March and April The government offered Mesmer a life pension of 20, livres and another 10, a year to set up a clinic, if he would but accept the surveillance of three government "pupils.

He shocked Parisians by lecturing Marie- Antionette grandly on "the austerity of my principles. The society was founded by Nicolas Bergasse, a philos- opher-lawyer-hypochondriac from a wealthy commercial family of Lyons, and by his best friend, Guillaume Kornmann, a rich banker from Strasbourg.


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  7. Bergasse and Kornmann attached themselves to Mesmer's tubs, at the usual price of 10 louis a month, in the spring of They rallied around their master in September , when Deslon set up his own treatment in Paris and was there- fore read out of the movement. Deslon returned to the fold for ten weeks at the end of , only to leave once more when Mesmer refused to reveal his ultimate doc- trinal secrets.

    Bergasse then resolved to protect Mesmer from future schismatics and to satisfy his financial de- mands by organizing his first twelve disciples into a society with an initiation fee of louis a member. After some difficult bargaining, Mesmer agreed to confide 2. The quotations come from d'Onglee, Rapport au public, p. Whether or not Mesmer was a charlatan, he certainly made the most of his doctrine.

    By June he had established himself sumptuously in the Hotel de Coigny, rue Coq-Heron; he traveled about Paris in an elegant coach; and he had collected , livres, ac- cording to the treasurer of the Society of Harmony. The society itself also prospered. The burgeoning interest of the public corresponded to the society's growth, for mesmerism's power to enter- tain, if not to cure, was beyond dispute. Renegade fol- lowers of Mesmer often offered the public fascinating glimpses of his doctrinal secrets in letters like those Galart de Montjoie published in the Journal de Paris in February and March Berthollet, the famous chemist, raised a storm by stalking out of Mesmer's treat- ment, shouting that the cures were produced by the imagination; and the Courier de VEurope disclosed that they were done by sulphur.

    These revelations only in- creased the public's excitement. Those who could not afford the price of Mesmer's own explanation of his magical powers could at least learn about his equipment and techniques from counterfeit tubs and pictures that were hawked in the streets. If the cartoons in the collec- tions of the Bibliotheque Nationale represent accurately A mesmerist charlatan, his pocket bulging with money, puts a helpless beauty into a state of somnambulism. It was widely believed that mesmerizing was a sort of sexual magic, and a secret report by the royal commission on animal magnetism warned the king about its threat to morality.

    Sp mp? The salacious character of these cartoons helped imaginations dwell on such in- teresting topics as, What went on in the crisis room? Why did men usually mesmerize women, and why usually on the hypochondria? Popular songs and doggerels also fed such interests with refrains like: Que le charlatan Mesmer, Avec un autre frater Guerisse mainte femelle; Qu'il en tourne la cervelle, Eh les tatant ne sais oil C'est fou Tres fou Et je n'y crois pas du tout. Or: Vieilles, jeunes, laides, belles, Toutes aiment le docteur, Et toutes lux sont fideles.

    The punch line of the most widely reproduced doggerel, in the version that circulated in the Petites Affiches, went: Si quelqu' esprit original Persiste encore dans son delire, 11 sera permis de lui dire: Crois au magnetisme. The hangers-on of the Cafe du Caveau, a gathering place of gossip and news, propagated a promesmerist version of the same song, which ended: "Loin du magnetisme. In December , for example, a young man broke into the royal levee and threw himself at the king's feet, im- ploring deliverance from the "demon that possesses me; it's that knave Mesmer who has bewitched me.

    On Berthollet's experience with mesmerism, see Memoires secrets, May 26, , pp. They show scenes around the tubs and caricatures of Mesmer, sometimes with a faraway look in his eye and a laudatory verse printed underneath him, sometimes in animal form, pawing a fainting woman. Several cartoons concern the Affaire du Collier, but few between and could be considered political. The doggerels come from Memoires secrets, January 17, , pp. Mesmer a song sheet of , followed by untitled coup- lets ; and a printed Impromptu fait au Cafe du Caveau. Another cartoon pages takes its theme from the refrain of a popular doggerel.

    It emphasizes the animality of animal magnetism by portraying Mesmer and his followers as dogs. The gesture of the canine Mesmer, reinforced by music, pro- duces chaos. The placards advertise a sale of mesmerist equip- ment and Les Docteurs modernes, the antimesmerist play.

    The "miracle" created a sensation, dividing the town into those who thought Hervier a saint and those who considered him a sorcerer, and it caused him to be suspended from preaching and then reinstated, thanks to the support of the local parlement. They found that a shepherd boy being mes- merized on their estate at Buzancy fell into a strange sleep, stood up, walked, and conversed according to their orders; and they soon learned to produce the most extraordinary effects with this "mesmeric somnambu- lism.

    They hypnotized large numbers of peasants tied together around a magnetized tree. And they discovered that a somnambulist could see his own insides while being mesmerized, that he could diagnose his sickness and predict the day of his recovery, that he could even communicate with dead or distant persons.

    By the autumn of the Marquis de Puysegur was mesmerizing on a huge scale with the enthusiastic support of local officials in Bayonne, and accounts of his feats circulated through- out the nation along with records of cures performed by straight mesmerizing. Memoires secrets, December 3, , p. Hervier, et de ses autres adherents. Amsterdam, ; Hervier, Lettre sur la decouverte du magnetisme animal.

    Hervier sur le magnetisme animal Detail des cures operees a Buzancy, pres Soissons par le magnetisme animal Soissons, ; J. Bayonne, ; A. Mesmer claimed to have discovered induced somnambulism but seems not to have practiced it much. The Comte de Montlosier, a young provincial gentleman, was probably a typical convert to mesmerism.

    He reacted to the crude religiosity of the Augustinian monks who had directed his early education by devouring the works of the philosophies, adopting somewhat fash- ionable free-thinking views, and plunging into scientific studies. Newspapers and letters carried the news of the excitement about Mesmer to his estate in Auvergne, where he busied himself with various experiments in the natural sciences. When a student of Deslon's arrived in the neighborhood and promptly cured a woman of a disease that had kept her ill for two years, Montlosier decided to give mesmerizing a try.

    His instant success inspired him to travel about the countryside, healing peasants and gentlewomen, and to abandon his flirtation with atheism. He had found a deeper, more satisfying kind of science, a science that left room for his religious impulses without excluding his sympathies for philos- ophy. He had found the "new Paracelsus" called for in the Encyclopedic, the romantic, vitalistic science of nature that inspired the dreams of Diderot and of Diderot's d'Alembert.

    It seemed to Montlosier that mesmerism would "change the face of the world," and this enthu- siasm still burned strong in him in Servan, a well known legal philosopher, a Rousseauist, and a friend and correspondent of Voltaire, d'Alembert, Helvetius, and Buffon.

    Far from favoring blind leaps into the occult, 6. Memoires de M. Yet his enthu- siasm for scientific progress carried him far beyond the limits of experience. The balloon flights had amazed him, he wrote to a nonmesmerist friend; and, "as to electricity, I have an electric machine that amuses me enormously every day; but it astounds me much more. Never have the effects of mesmerism struck me so: if anything should confirm for me the existence of a universal fluid, unique agent in its modifications of so many diverse phenomena, it will be my electric machine. He continued, ''For what, after all, are we, sir, in our most exquisite sentiments as in our most vast thoughts; what are we, if not a more or less admirable organ composed of more or fewer stops, but whose bellows never were and never will be in the pineal gland of Descartes nor in the medullary substance of [illegible name], nor in the diaphragm, where certain dreamers have placed it, but in the very principle that moves all the universe?

    Introduction by David M. Hart

    Man, with his liberty, walks only to the cadence of all nature, and all nature moves only to that of a single cause; and what is that cause if not a truly universal fluid, which penetrates all of nature? Servan to M. Julien, August 17, probably Servan's copy of the original letter , Bibliotheque municipale, Grenoble, R Servan's other letters show the same combination of cautious empiri- cism and mystic deism.

    See, for example, a letter of April 16, Grenoble N , written when Mesmer was visiting him, in which he warned against distorting Mesmer's ideas into an occult, meta- physical system, and a letter to Julien dated only "ce 11 mars" R , in which he discussed the "premier agent physique, lequel est dans les mains de l'agent des agents et de l'etre des etres; celui qui ne veut remonter qu'a l'agent physique est un spinoziste a tous les diables. Condorcet, who typifies so many attitudes of the Enlightenment, rejected mesmerism, but he felt a need to justify his rejection and to put his reasons down in writing.

    Mesmer had converted some distinguished men, including doctors and physi- cists, Condorcet noted; moreover, distinguished men had often shown a penchant for "extraordinary facts. It was a question that plagued the philosophers of the eighteenth century, and Condorcet had no satisfactory answer to it. Only the man with a "well-established reputation," Condorcet concluded, conceding, "That is hard for human reason. For if the legitimacy of the systems swarming in France were to be determined by the respectability of the men who testified in their favor, no ideas would survive outside the magic circle of the academies and salons.

    It might even be viewed as a lay revival of Jansenism Meister compared Servan's mesmerist writing with Pascal's Provinciates. It cut to the core of contemporary attitudes, exposing the need for authority in the vague, speculative area where science and religion met. Seen in the privacy of personal letters and diaries, it appears as an affair of conscience, a challenge to the imperfect arrangement of the thoughtful man's beliefs.

    Seen in the polemical literature that brought it before the public, it appears as a challenge to authority — not only to Hervier's superiors in the church, but also to the 8. See the selection from Condorcet's manuscripts in Appendix 6. By the spring of , when the Journal de Bruxelles wondered whether mesmerism "soon will be the sole universal medicine," the government had reason to fear that it was getting out of hand — especially because, as we shall see, the Paris police had submitted a secret report that some mesmerists were mixing radical political ideas in their pseudoscientific discourses.

    At last it has won the attention of the government," remarked the Memoires secrets on April 24, , in an account of the appointment of a royal commission to investigate mesmerism — or, as Mesmer and his followers believed, to crush it with a blow from the most prestigious and most prejudiced scientists in France. Prestigious indeed, the commission consisted of four prominent doctors from the faculty of medicine, including Guillotin, and five members of the Academy of Sciences, including Bailly, Lavoisier, and the celebrated Benjamin Franklin.

    The government also appointed a commission of five members from the faculty's rival, the Royal Society of Medicine, which condemned mesmerism in a report of its own separate investigation. The first commission, however, attracted the most attention. Undeterred by an open letter from Mesmer to Franklin disavowing Deslon's version of animal magnetism, the commissioners spent weeks listening to Deslon lecture on theory and observing his patients fall into convul- sions and trances.

    They underwent continuous mes- merizing themselves, with no effect, and then determined to test the operation of Deslon's fluid outside the excitable atmosphere of his clinic. They found that a false report that she was being mesmerized through a door caused a woman patient to have a "crisis. Journal de Bruxelles, May 1, , p. Four normal cups of water were held before a Deslon patient at Lavoisier's house; the fourth cup produced convulsions, yet she calmly swallowed the mesmerized contents of a fifth cup, which she believed to be plain water.

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    A series of such experiments, reported in a lucid, rational manner, but- tressed the commission's conclusion: Mesmer's fluid did not exist; the convulsions and other effects of mesmerizing could be attributed to the overheated imaginations of the mesmerists. In pamphlet after pamphlet they repeated the same arguments. The commission exposed its bias by refusing to investigate the orthodox doctrine practiced by Mesmer; the imagination alone could not produce the extraordinary effects of mesmerizing; the commissioners had neglected the most important evidence of the fluid's power, the hundreds of cures it had performed; and, in any case, nothing could be more certain than the lethal character of conventional medicine.

    These pamphlets make dreary reading today, but their very bulk testifies to the passions aroused by the report in Rapport des commissaires charges par le Roi de I'examen du magne- tisme animal, drafted by Bailly Paris, ; Rapport des commissaires de la Societe Royale de Medecine, nommes par le Roi pour faire I'examen du magnetisme animal Paris, A secret report to the King by the Bailly commission also warned that mesmerism could damage morality. Ironically, the one-hundred-third member of the Society of Harmony was Franklin's foppish grandson, William Temple Franklin.

    On Frank- lin's role in the mesmerist controversy, see C. The best argued and most often cited attacks on the commis- sion's report, aside from the works of Bergasse, were: J. Bonnefoy, Analyse raisonnee des rapports des commissaires charges par le Roi de I'examen du magnetisme animal Lyons, ; J.

    Servan, Doutes d'un provincial proposes d MM. Fournel, Remon- trances des malades aux medecins de la faculte de Paris Amsterdam, Les Docteurs Modernes ran for 21 performances, an enormous success for such a topical affair. It provided material for endless gossip, essays by literary pundits like La Harpe, and a bitter counterattack by Mesmer' s supporters.

    The counterattack was led by Jean-Jacques d'Epremesnil, the future leader of the attacks on the government in the Parlement of Paris. D'Epremesnil denounced the play as slander in a pamphlet that he had thrown into the audience from the third loge during one of the first performances. He tried to get the Parlement, the police, the king himself to suppress such an outrage, but without success; so he published a manifesto de- claring his own faith in mesmerism and had it thrown into the audience attending another performance.

    Mesmer, if my personal position does not permit me to extend to him directly the aid of the law, at least I owe him, in the name of humanity, for his person and for his discovery, a public testimonial of my admiration and of my gratitude, and I hereby give it. The lackey, however, whistled at the wrong play, not understanding that there was a double bill. Nothing could prevent the jibes of the play and the antimesmerist pamphlets and poems from checking the movement's momentum.

    Although the number of pamphlets declined after , two Parisian theaters considered mesmerism topical enough to produce imitations of Les Docteurs Modernes in La physicienne and Le medecin malgre tout le monde.

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    On December 11, , the Journal de Bruxelles reported on the resiliency of Mesmer's doctrine. If the capital makes merry with the truly comic scenes of the tub, the provinces have taken them seriously: that's where the really heated practi- tioners are. Everyone is involved with it.

    Leading mesmerists like d'Epremesnil spread the faith throughout the country, and Mesmer himself Les Docteurs Modernes, comedie-parade en un acte et en vaudeville suivie du Baquet de Sante, divertissement analogue, mile de couplets. Duval d'Epremesnil, Reflexions preliminaires a loccasion de la piece intitulee les Docteurs Modernes.

    Boyd Princeton, , VII, For contemporary accounts of the Docteurs Modernes affair, see Journal de Paris, November 18, 27, and 28, , pp. By then the Societe Harmonique des Amis Reunis of Strasbourg, one of the most active groups, was wading into the deep waters of spiritualism under the protection of A. Angels had possessed the inner beings of somnambulists in Stockholm, communicating "an adumbration, though feeble, of the first immediate correspondence with the invisible world," the letter ex- plained.

    Mesmerism and Swedenborgianism comple- mented one another perfectly, it maintained, and the societies of Strasbourg and Stockholm should cooperate in the business of regenerating mankind by disseminating one another's works. Extrait de la correspondance de la Societe Royale de Medecine, relativement au magnetisme animal; par M.

    Thouret Paris, , p. The letter of Gerard, Strasbourg's Preteur royal, dated June 8, , and other letters, showing that he used his office as late as May 8, , to promote mesmerism in matters like the appointment of a new member of the university's medical faculty, are in Archives de la ville de Strasbourg, mss AA and see esp.

    New York, , quotation from p. D'Epremesnil wrote the notes to Rapport des cures operees a Bayonne par le magnetisme animal. Bayonne, and visited the Societe de l'Harmonie of Bordeaux in December "Durant huit seances de plusieurs heures chacune, ce magistrat celebre a expose le systeme de M. Mesmer avec une clarte, une force et une noblesse qui transportaient les auditeurs" Recueil d' observations et de faits relatif au magnetisme animal.

    The lyonnais, however, practiced a unique technique of locating a patient's disease, without touching him, from the sensa- tions felt by the mesmerizer. Led by the Chevalier de Barberin, they mesmerized ailing horses in this fashion, confirming their diagnoses to their own satisfaction, if not to others', by autopsies, and so provided an answer to the charge that mesmerizing merely affected the imagination, a faculty that the ''beast-machine" pre- sumably lacked.

    The lyonnais also prided themselves on J. Petetin's discovery of induced catalepsy, a state in which patients sometimes saw their own insides. Petetin's followers opened the way to the painless hyp- notic tooth extractions and amputations that provoked mesmerist controversies well into the nineteenth century. But the most provocative variety of mesmerism in Lyons was connected with the spiritualist cults that had taken root in its traditionally mystic soil. The Lyons mesmerist society, La Concorde, blossomed with Rosicrucians, Swedenborgians, alchemists, cabalists, and assorted theosophists recruited largely from the masonic Ordre des Chevaliers Bienfaisants de la Cite Sainte.

    Many of these mystic masons also staffed the Loge Elue et Cherie, a spiritualist secret society which prepared to propagate the true, primitive religion from hieroglyphic messages received from God by its founder, J. God was also speaking to Willermoz through the somnambu- lists of the Concorde, the traditional mysteries of the Chevaliers Bienfaisants, and other theosophic groups, including the martinist Ordre des Chevaliers des Elus Coens.

    Saint-Martin was well qualified for his role of metaphysical consultant to mesmerists, for he had fol- lowed the movement closely and had joined the Parisian Society of Harmony as its twenty-seventh member on February 4, But he felt that Mesmer's emphasis on the action of the fluid could lead to materialism and expose his followers to the evil influence of spirits called "astral intelligences.

    Puysegur's somnambulism provided direct contact with the spiritual world, and Barberin's technique of mes- merizing cut the ground from under the old-fashioned "fluidists" by dispensing with any material sort of fluid. Thus Saint-Martin wove the later varieties of mesmerism into a mystical and heavily martinist syn- thesis which, carried on the wave of enthusiasm for somnambulism, typified mesmerist thinking during the last few years of the Ancien Regime.

    Examples of the extensive contemporary literature concerning later developments of mesmerism, especially in the provinces, are: Pierre Orelut, Detail des cures operecs a Lyon. Petetin, Memoire sur la decouverte des phenomenes que presentent la catalepsie et le somnambulisme ; Reflexions impartiales sur le magne- tisme animal. Geneva, ; Systeme raisonne du magnetisme universel. See also J. It is the Isiac table, one of the most remarkable antiquities, where mesmerism is seen at its dawning, in the symbolic writing of our first fathers in animal magnetism, to which only mes- merists have the key.

    The mother society nonetheless seemed to be too conservative to the hotheads of Lyons. The lyonnais severed their ties with Paris, while the strasbourgeois maintained their affiliation only after quarreling publicly about their extravagant practice of somnambulism. The more adventuresome of the Parisians were always welcome in the open house for mystics kept by the Duchesse de Bourbon, who mesmerized constantly with Saint-Martin and Bergasse.

    Bergasse also haunted the spiritualist gatherings at the home of J. Schweizer and his wife Magdalene, who championed the theory of physiognomy developed by their relative, J. Lavater, the Zurich mesmerist-mystic. Other forms of German mysticism, following the route of Cagliostro, poured into France through the Amis Reunis of Strasbourg, and other spiritualists, Jacques Cazotte, for example, spread their doctrines among the French mesmerists. Conversation turns almost entirely upon these matters; they fill everyone's thoughts; they strike everyone's imagination.

    Looking around us, we see only sorcerers, initiates, necromancers, and prophets. Everyone has his own, on whom he counts. Mesmer's ideas had escaped his control and had run wildly through super- natural regions where he believed they had no business. But by then he had left France in order to search for more fortune in travels to England, Austria, Italy, Switzer- land, and Germany, where he died near his birthplace Barbeguiere, La maconnerie mesmerienne.

    Comte de Montbrison Brussels, , II, , , quotation from p. Caspar Schweizer: ein Charakterbild aus dem Zeitalter der franzdsischen Revolution, ed. Jakob Baechtold Berlin, , and G. The societies of Paris and Strasbourg publicized their quarrel in Extrait des registres de la Societe de VHarmonie de France du 4 Janvier and Expose des cures operees depuis le 25 d'aout Strasbourg, Like d'Epremesnil, Bergasse experimented with many kinds of occultism.

    His papers in the Chateau de Villiers, Villiers, Loir-et-Cher, include his copy of Saint-Martin's mystic work, Des erreurs et de la verite, and a letter he wrote on March 21, , which shows that he was then involved In a project to reprint Saint-Martin's works. In a letter to his fiancee oi May 7, , he described himself as "presqu'aussi physionomiste que Lavater.

    Cazotte, an influential, martinist man of letters, wrote a mesmerist work published as Temoignage spiritual- iste d'outre-tombe sur le magnetisme humain, Fruit d'un long pelerinage, par J. This aspect of Cazotte's literary career is not treated in the most thorough study of him, E. Shaw, Jacques Cazotte Cambridge, Mass. Before he may be permitted to wander out of this narrative and into his obscure, postrevolutionary career, it is important to take account of a schism in the Parisian Society of Harmony that brought out the radical strain in the movement.

    Bergasse's tendency to dominate the meetings of the society had brought him into con- flict with Mesmer several times. By July their quarrels threatened to split the society into hostile factions, but the defense of the common cause against the commis- sion's report restored harmony until November, when a dispute over a proposal to revise its statutes produced a final break.

    A committee, led by Bergasse, Kornmann, and d'Epremesnil, demanded the revision in order to provide for the public propagation of the doctrine, now that the subscription for Mesmer had been filled. Mesmer balked, demanded more money, and finally summoned a general assembly of the society in May The assembly adopted statutes guaranteeing his supreme direction of the movement and the secrecy of his doctrine.

    Then, despite various maneuvers, efforts to arrange a compro- mise, and a harangue by d'Epremesnil in his best par- liamentary style, it expelled the Bergasse faction and took over the Hotel de Coigny. The outcasts summoned a rival assembly, which adopted statutes drafted by d'Epremesnil, but by June they conceded that Mesmer had kept the loyalty of most members and that their rump organization had collapsed. They continued to meet informally, however, at Kornmann's house, where, freed from the orthodoxy of the Society of Harmony, they developed the social and political aspects of mes- merist theory.

    See the sources in note 1 above and also Extrait des registres de la Societe de V Harmonic de France du 30 November , which balances them with a pro-Mesmer account of the schism and the subsequent reorganization of the Societes de 1'Harmonie. The papers of the Parisian society in the Bibliotheque historique de la ville de Paris, ms serie 84 and Collection Charavay, mss and , indicate that after the purge of the Bergasse group, it was dominated by Savalette de Langes, de Bondy, de Lavigne, Bachelier d'Ages, Gombault, and the Marquis de Gouy d'Arsy.

    Like the innocuous masonic societies of the time, the Society practiced "perfect equality" in its sessions, which included "persons of all ranks, united by the same tie," as Antoine Servan emphasized in his defense of mesmerizing. Mesmer himself proclaimed grandly, "I am not astonished that the pride of persons of high birth should be wounded by the mixture of social conditions found at my house; but I think nothing of it. My humanity encompasses all ranks of society. Even the egalitarianism of its sessions could be factitious, as an antimesmerist pamphlet observed.

    The pamphlet said that it then con- sisted of "48 persons, among whom there are 18 gentle- See Abbe Augustin de Barruel, Conjuration contre la religion catholique et les souverains. Paris, , p. The 59 members of the Harmony of Bordeaux, for example, included 20 merchants, 10 doctors, and only 2 aristocrats; and the thoroughly bourgeois Harmony of Bergerac later devel- oped into the local Jacobin club. But the Parisian society included some of the greatest aristocrats in France — the Due de Lauzun, the Due de Coigny, the Baron de Talley- rand cousin of the future foreign minister , and the Marquis de Jaucourt, for example — and its members often boasted about the number of courtiers among themselves in order to establish the respectability of their cause, which the Comte de Segur even defended to the queen.

    Mesmer's ideal of harmony could easily be construed as a formula for political quietism, as was suggested by a mesmerist pamphlet recommending the "blind respect that is due the government. The quotations come, respectively, from the diary of the Baron de Corberon, Bibliotheque municipals Avignon, ms ; J. Servan, Doutes d'un provincial, p.

    Vienna, , pp. Axxx a M. Bxxx sur le livre intitule: Recherches et doutes sur le magnetisme animal de M. Thouret , p. The full membership list of the Parisian society is in Journal du magnetisme Paris, The members that can be identified from it were wealthy bourgeois and aristocrats. Even Mesmer's treatment suggested the high status of his clientele.

    One of his four tubs was reserved, without charge, for the poor and was rarely used, but places at the other three had to be booked well in advance like seats in the opera, and they report- edly brought in louis a month. Flowers set apart the tub for "ladies of breeding," and Mesmer's German doorman was said to announce arrivals with three kinds of whistles, which varied according to the patient's social standing.

    The society met in the Hotel de Coigny, where Mesmer lived and conducted his treatments. Its officers varied, but they usually were: perpetual president, Mesmer, whose faulty French limited his participation in meetings; vice presidents, Adrien Duport, the mem- ber of Parlement and future Feuillant leader, and the Marquis de Chastellux, the prominent soldier and man of letters; orator, Bergasse, sometimes aided by others; treasurer, Kornmann; one or two masters of ceremonies; an archivist, and from one to four secretaries.

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    Each member received an elaborate diploma from Mesmer, which bound him to secrecy and certified his place in the hierarchy of disciples: Bergasse was first, Kornmann second, Duport thirty-fourth, Lafayette ninety-first, and d'Epremesnil one-hundred-thirty-sixth. Bergasse, who dominated the society's meetings, claimed that he in- named in Recueil 'observations, and the society of Bergerac is studied in Henri Labroue, La societe populaire de Bergerac avant la Revolution.

    The more frivolous character of the Parisian society was well described in L'Antimagnetisme. Mais le magnetisme animal, considere en grand, est dans ce moment le joujou le plus a la mode et qui fait remuer le plus de tetes. Corberon noted a strong masonic influence on the formal meetings in the assembly room of the Hotel de Coigny, but his descriptions of the instruction courses rather resemble reports of the scientific lectures in the Parisian museums and lyceums.

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