網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

as a consequence, that they who asserted! the only foundation of knowledge to be sensation, should maintain the only foundation of virtue to be the desire of pleasure. Both falsehoods refuted, with the noblest eloquence and the most exquisite art, the student passes to other dialogues, not less beautiful, the 'Phædo' and 'Philebus:' and finds himself on the very threshold of those great practical structures of Plato's philosophy, which he will yet enter to little purpose, if he has not disciplined himself by all this previous investigation, to be ready to conform his will to objective laws of action, which shall be to him the measure of virtue; and his reason to objective forms of belief, which shall be to him allpowerful truths, real, absolute, existing.

But at this point we rest for the present: in the hope that on a future occasion the reader will not be unwilling to enter with

us.

DUELLING. Our attention has been directed to an announcement in the Standard, from which we learn that a step has at length been taken in the only effectual direction for the suppression of that one of the chivalric institutions which has haunted the field of modern society with most pertinacity and least argument; - a rude, barbaric figure, stripped by centuries of all the costumes and accessories which made it picturesque, or gracious, or valuable, and looking monstrous amid the lights and forms of advanced civilization. An Association has been got up for the extermination of Duelling-composed of members influential in the precise classes within which, and for whose benefit, the murderous nuisance was supposed more especially to act. It consists of 326 members, of whom 34 are noblemen and their sons, 15 are baronets, and 16 members of the Lower House. What is more important still, the army and navy, hitherto the head-quarters of conventionalism, furnish a large contingent to this demonstration. In its ranks are 30 admirals and generals, 23 colonels and lieutenant-colonels, 44 captains and 24 lieutenants in the navy; and of the army, 17 majors and 26 captains. The bar furnishes a detachment of 24 and the association denounces the unmeaning modern wager of battle" as sinful, irrational, and contrary to the laws of God and man; and pledges itself to discountenance the same by its example and all its influence. An institution, attacked by every other species of argument, and sustained against them all only by opinion, was to be successfully assailed by opinion alone; and this measure at once knocks away the sole stay which held the ugly figure against the pressure of modern sense and modern arrangements.-Athenæum, 8th July.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

MAGIC AND MESMERISM,

From Tait's Magazine.

A Tale. In 3 volumes. Saunders and ley.

second-sight, and second-hearing, though extinct for generations, was an exclusive attribute of the Scottish Highlanders, and Ot-chiefly of the Hebrideans; and, conse quently, that modern clairvoyance is, in MESMERISM, and Phreno-Mesmerism, seem Scotland, but a recovered faculty. Scotthe prevailing popular frenzy of the hour. land, also, has a prior claim to "The The epidemic is, we presume, on the de- Tongues," though there were powerful cline in America, where it broke out fierce-" manifestations" both in London and Oxly about four years back; but it has had a ford. The only remarkable difference is, powerful revival in France, where the be- that science now pretends to explain the lief in Mesmerism has languished on for phenomena which formerly were said to sixty years; while in Britain, in every be produced by supernatural influence, or town, village, and hamlet, adepts of both the agency of the Devil. Clairvoyance is, sexes, professional and amateur, are mes- we understand, at present as fashionable in merizing, and being mesmerized, hypno- Paris as ever was fortune-telling in the tizing, or being hypnotized; lecturing (for palmy days of Le Normand; and clairvoymoney) and exhibiting, in illustration of ance, we prophesy, will get fast ahead at their lectures, the varied phenomena of home; while, instead of the magistrate Animal Magnetism, from the simple rigidity sending the prophetesses to Bridewell as of a finger or a limb up to the highest cheats and impostors, they are petted and achievements of phreno-magnetism, ex- well-paid by the ladies, and every encouragetatic delirium, and clairvoyance. Tailors, ment afforded to keep up the deception, hand-loom weavers, sempstresses, and fe- and attain greater proficiency in their art.males of no ostensible calling, are all (for We therefore apprehend that any thing we money) exhibiting the Mesmeric phe- have witnessed in clairvoyance will be utnomena in various degrees of perfection, terly eclipsed by what is to come hereto select private circles-consisting of la- after, if proper encouragement be given. dies, idlers, and men of science; while the We have heard of a female whom a Frenchless profoundly initiated, or the less enter-man, her mesmerizer, for a length of time. prising, are content to perform before thin exhibited at private parties in Boston, at or crowded audiences, as it may happen, twelve dollars for each exhibition, whose and generally at very moderate rates. The doings take the shine completely out of all first crop of these itinerant lecturers and ex- that we have yet attained in Scotland. No hibitors in this quarter have been peculiar- doubt, after exhibiting in that intellectual ly unfortunate in their staff; that is, in the city, the American far-seer must have been adepts who accompany them; clumsy, ill-accredited to every town in the Union, and trained, maladroit rogues, whose bungling may still be prosperously pursuing her performances were enough to ruin any pro- career. We are not here entering upon the fessor, if the great majority of the audi- question of the possibility, by certain means, ences had not been in the humor of being of inducing artificial somnambulism, and guiled, while the minority viewed the thing even the cataleptic state: which is nothing in the light of a broad, acted piece of farce, new, and for which there seems an explitoo absurd to require exposure, and which cable cause. The agency by which this abserved to laugh out the hour as well as normal condition is produced, is, however, any thing else. It is not easy to say which still the subject of controversy, some reclass of society has been the most tickled jecting Animal Magnetism, who yet, under with the excitement and palpable humbug another name, recognize the Mesmeric of these edifying exhibitions. We restrict phenomena to an extent at which others these remarks to the platform and private hesitate. The state of coma being proexhibitions in Edinburgh and the neighboring towns; pronouncing no opinion upon genuine Mesmeric phenomena; a matter for grave and searching investigation, and one quite unconnected with the tom-fooleries and egregious humbug to which we allude. Meanwhile, we have reached a stage in Scotland which may well make England envious. If clairvoyance arose in France, and has made a distinguished progress in America, it ought to be remembered that

duced, all besides may be resolved into the power of imagination, which has effected greater marvels, even of a curative sort, than have yet been attributed to Mesmerism.

Having, however, in the North, made a hopeful beginning in the development of the sublimer phenomena, and already got far beyond the poor lengths of allaying or curing disease, bringing out "the organs," and rendering patients insensible to pain

during the most severe, painful, and pro-
tracted surgical operations, we are natural-
ly unwilling to retrograde from our high
vantage ground until we shall be driven
from it. We have also, as a moral nation,
laid strong hold on the moral uses of Mes-
merism or Animal Magnetism. We con-
fess, individually, that we are not prepared
all at once to live in a house of glass, and
have our curious or prying neighbors
looking after all our movements, reading
our very thoughts, and depriving us of the
useful power

Still to keep something to oursel
We scarcely tell to ony.

useful to Judges this faculty, if, like our female exhibitors, they can see what is past, as well as present-and also to physicians and lawyers, who never can get at the true facts and real symptoms of cases. There is, indeed, no end to the moral and social advantages of this new power. To a jealous or languishing lover it is exactly the magic-mirror of the ancient magician; he may always know what his absent mistress is about, and thus save anxiety, letter-writing, and postage. How pleasant, and satisfactory, for a neglected wife to look in at the Club, or elsewhere, and see what her truant husband is after-hear what he is saying, and when he thinks of moving homeThat belief in Mesmerism has reached this ward! How pleasant for the fagged relength among us, may be gathered from porter of the galleries to bring "the House" the consolation administered by a corres- before his mesmerized eyes, or rather to pondent of one of our ablest newspapers- go to it without the expense of cabs or consolation under the novel and extraor- bodily fatigue, and report all that is said dinary condition impending over society. without moving from the fireside! But One might have tolerated such lucubra-"the discovery" opens up a field of specutions in one of the mushroom towns of the lation so vast, a state of society so entirely Far West, overrun with all sorts of lec- novel, that we, for the present, waive it. turers; but in Edinburgh, in June 1843, it It is enough that men and women, who are does astonish, not to say humble us, to in no immediate danger of walking into a hear any man gravely saying, "Great ter- draw-well, believe such things probable, ror has been expressed of the extraordi- or, rather, certain. The powers of magic, nary power of clairvoyance. This can only necromancy, and sorcery, were, and are be felt by the wicked; and not by the good. believed by the vulgar, to be possessed by It is shocking to think how much we are only a few persons in compact with the in the habit of forgetting that God sees us, devil; but the men of science who believe and how terrified we are lest our evil deeds to the full extent in the alleged higher should be exposed to the world's eye. Mesmeric phenomena, out-Herod the vulSince, however, too many are unreformed gar when they assert that all mankind are by the thought of God's omniscience, is it capable of clairvoyance. But, if not capanot a proof of His extreme beneficence to ble, on how unequal a footing are human His creatures to permit a discovery which beings placed! Those who possess, or will effectually check an inconceivable have power to acquire the extraordinary amount of evil, and bring mankind to a faculty, must be supreme masters of the desstrict regard of moral duties.

The power of clairvoyance will, doubtless, be eagerly sought after, [no doubt of it,] and, with whatever motive, a belief in its existence may have some influence in improving morals, and in establishing religion on the interpretations placed in our hands by God himself of his marvellous works." It is, at least, pleasant to find that every one can seek after and perhaps attain, this wondrous power for himself-and not be compelled to consult, and pay one of the initiated, when he wishes to peep in and see what mischief his neighbors are about in their blinded parlors and locked closets. One thing is clear: no police, or other crime-detector, should be appointed to office who does not possess clairvoyance -if there is to be any farther use either for them or for priestly confessors. How

.tinies of those shut out from participating in it. What would be an ordinary physician, however able, when compared with one who can look minutely into his patient's viscera, and examine his brain or spine; or Talleyrand himself to the statesman who, instead of employing spies, and tampering with seals, could at once Mesmerize himself, and be transported, in spirit, or by exalted sense, to the privy coun cils and cabinets of St. Petersburg, Madrid, or the Tuileries?-To come to our tale of Magic and Mesmerism, which, in the present fantastic humor of the public, is likely, we think, to make a favorable debût.

The tale is said to be founded on facts that occurred about a hundred years ago, when a Jesuit priest, who had atrociously abused his office of confessor, was tried for

what nothing else could effect, religion could; "Such was the power of the priesthood, that and before its members all doors flew open, all artificial barriers fell. Royalty itself was fain to humble its head before the cowl, and the veil had precedence of the coronet. Hence, perhaps, the secret of many a misnamed religious and of a certain mania for saintship, a prevailcalling, the source of many a fervent devotion, ing distemperature of mind at that epoch, which was a convenient channel for female ambition."

sorcery. He had corrupted the minds of middle class in France for admission into many young women whose confessor he the society of the aristocracy. was, robbed them of their innocence, and obtained an extraordinary influence over them, which was, at last, imputed to magic and sorcery, though the phenomena exhibited were, it is said, precisely those which are witnessed in persons under the influence of Animal Magnetism. The singular trial of the Jesuit is said to be found among the Causes Célèbres; though we do not remember it. The author of the tale appears to be a believer in Mesmerism, to the extent of extatic delirium and clairvoyance. He concludes, that what in former ages was attributed to sorcery, magic, demoniac possession, and witch craft, was, in fact, the consequences of Animal Magnetism, or, as others think, of nervous disease, imagination, and trick. The tale is written with considerable power and skill, and has a certain Mesmeric influence. Although it is felt repulsive, and even unwholesome, one is constrained to follow it out. The scene is Toulon; the principal heroine is Catherine Cadières, the inspired and Holy Maid, who, like Isabella Campbell of Row, and other persons laboring under nervous disease, foretold future events, possessed the most exalted clairvoyance, and was followed and wor shipped as a prophetess, until it was found, too late, that all was delusion, and that the weak-minded and weak-nerved excitable girl, who at last awoke to reason, had been the dupe and victim of a consummate vil. lain and hypocrite. Remarkable instances are not wanting of the power of both priests and presbyters over women, through merely natural magic. But the Jesuit s magic was not simply the art of playing with and inflaming the passions, exciting the mind, and unhinging the reason, but that art or science afterwards named Mesmerism, in which he was a proficient. Protestant "Already past fifty, his tall, gaunt, emaciated young ladies, of enthusiastic temperament frame made him look considerably older. His and weak nerves and understanding, who skin, sallow and drawn like parchment, adhered are in danger of losing their sober-mind- tightly to the frontal and cheek bones, giving to edness and retiring modesty from the am. their cavities beneath a remarkably ascetic apbition to make a distinguished figure in the pearance-his pallor, contrasting with harsh, religious world, or who, through the delu-heavy unintellectual brows-his large mouth, sions of vanity, are betrayed into wild fan-formed alogether one of the coarsest and most and ears that stuck to his head like two plates, tastical pretensions, may find a useful lesson ungainly exteriors imaginable. His eye was the in the fate of the Holy Maid of Toulon. She was constitutionally a natural somnambulist, and from childhood she had a decided vocation, and was, partly through her mother's excessive vanity, led to imagine that she was born to be a saint. Saintship, it should be noticed, was at that period the only passport possessed by the

The young saint was exceedingly beautiful, and the object of the passionate attachment of a young lawyer of great worth and abilities. But spiritual vanity and delusion had shut up the womanly springs of her heart; though she was fluctuating between her natural affections and her imaginary spiritual vocation, when the Jesuit appeared on the scene, and began his magnetic and other practices, under the veil of the most stern and rigid sancity, the most exalted spiritualism. His first object and his last was the honor of his Order ;-to raise the Jesuits of Toulon above the Carmelites of that city, who had the best preachers, the care of the most fashionable souls in the place, and enjoyed more of the favor of the bishop. The ruin, soul and body, of the Holy Maid, was but an episode in the life of the wily Jesuit, who fell under the temptation of her beauty, though his master-passion was the exaltation of his Order. Before the arrival in Toulon of this star of the Order, rumor was busy about his talents, eloquence, and exalted piety. The Jesuits were triumphant by anticipation; the Carmelites incredulous and scornful. When the decisive Sunday arrived, the Carmelites were fairly routed, old and ugly as the Jesuit champion was found to be:

only redeeming point about the man-large, dark, and fiery, it scanned the assembled crowd with a glance of fierce assurance that seemed the prologue to success, and was not devoid of a sort of rude dignity.

degrees, until it became loud and full, and, like, "His voice was at first husky, but cleared by his glance, seemed to search every conscience. and descend into every heart.

The Carmelites were routed; and the Jesuits or even at mass, though I allow him to be an looked that ineffably humble and meek triumph excellent preacher." of which women and monks only have the secret."

The fame of Father Girard increased every day:

"A murmur of disapprobation went round the circle, and the word heretic."

To Catherine's lover Mademoiselle Raymond remarked, as they walked home together:

"Gradually, the churches of the bare-footed Carmelites were deserted, their preachers voted "You, I am sure, are not bigoted, and will tame, their confessors unsatisfactory, and the not misunderstand me if I tell you, that I object tide of public favor was rapidly ebbing from to Father Girard as a confessor for Catherine them. Father Girard understood, marvellously, on account of his zeal. The good fathers who the art of warming the zeal of elderly ladies,have until now guided us, used all their efforts and making them denounce and renounce the to maintain my poor friend within the bounds pleasures in which they could scarcely continue of real piety, and prevent her imagination from to take a share; but he had for some time no taking too wild a flight. They thought of her opportunity of exercising his power over the happiness and their duty only, and were not, minds of the junior members of the com-like this idol of the day, struggling for notoriety. munity." I hear that of him which convinces me he will be but too glad to have such a disciple, and will make of her an instrument for the advancement of his own vain-glory and ambition. But I am afraid," she added hesitatingly, "you will think it very bold in one so young, so inexperienced, to advance such opinions."

But this time came. e. Catherine had, in piety, always been the pattern of her young companions, and she, constrained by the will of Heaven, [by Animal Magnetism,] had chosen the Jesuit for her confessor, telling her friends

Being reassured on this point, she continued

"Next to the danger of over-exciting a young person so predisposed to religious enthusiasm as Catherine is, there will be another and very serious evil attendant upon this. There will arise among these young ladies an emulation of holiness, a struggle to get furthest in the esteem

how to turn this rivalship to the advantage of his reputation. His disciples will no longer consider religion a duty, but desecrate it into an occupation-an amusement to fill up the void that must at times be felt in such a quiet life as ours. The loftier feeling of religion will be lost, in the hearts of many, amid its grimaces."

"It is not Father Girard's brilliant eloquence that has touched me, nor am I dazzled by his great reputation; for I should have resisted both these impulses, as being too worldly to in duce me to resign my soul into the keeping of a stranger. No! it is the will of Heaven. You all remember St. John's Day, when Father Gi-and good graces of their teacher, who will know rard preached at the church of the Carmelites. The service being over, I was about to depart, when, crossing the porch, I happened to meet him, and caught his eye, as I had often done before, resting upon me. At the same instant, an angel form appeared visibly to me, pointing towards him, and a voice distinctly murmured in my ear-This is the man who is to lead thee unto Heaven.' I well-nigh fainted with surprise, and can well imagine yours in listening to this extraordinary fact. Yet, when we remember how of yore the will of God was revealed in visions to his chosen, we may wonder, but may not doubt. His voice bids me seek Father Gi rard, to whom, alone, the mission of my salvation

is given. I follow not, therefore, my own blind, erring judgment, which might deceive, but the guidance of Providence, which I obey with joy.

ful confidence."

This is among the lessons that we consider excellently adapted to Protestant as well as Catholic young devotees. The greatest change in the character of these girls was soon visible. Some of them had been previously engaged to be married: but their approaching nuptials seemed, by a tacit understanding, to be something savoring of worldliness and levity, which should be altogether eschewed.

"They walked as though they dreaded the contact of any thing so material as earth, even with the soles of their feet; and their eyes sought the ground as if to avoid the subjects of scandal with which the air around must be filled. Confession, communion, and penance, employed all their days-holy converse with each other their evenings and melancholy meditations their

Father Girard had thenceforward the care of the tender consciences of all the young ladies of Toulon, save the soul of one clear-headed and soberly religious girl, who stuck to the old Carmelite confessor, who from childhood had trained them all, and benefited them in many ways. Mademoiselle Raymond told her companions-nights. The great reform that the rector had

"This, I regret to say, seems, to me at least. a mere love of change, caprice, imitation. I, for one, am quite certain of having no part or parcel in Catherine's vision, and I am not likely to be visited by one myself. I shall not therefore attend Father Girard either at the confessional

wrought in these lovely young pupils soon became known, and his power in reclaiming and purifying souls was the theme of every tongue.

"The Jesuits deemed their triumph complete; but the Carmelites bided their time with that quiet, untiring patience of which men of the world cannot even form a conception."

« 上一頁繼續 »