Response – It is the property, which bodies have of being susceptible to the action of a universally distributed fluid, a fluid which surrounds all that exists and which serves to maintain the equilibrium of all the vital functions.
Q. – Does this fluid only exist in animals; and are they the only individuals in nature which experience the effects of it?
R. – This principle is of equal necessity to vegetation. It is because of this principle that the sappy juice is able to circulate, and thereby contribute to the plant’s development.
Q. – Does this fluid have any relation to the magnet?
R. – Although this action, which is powerful in nature, has been given the name “magnetism,” the fluid which is the prime mover of this action does not appear to have the properties of the magnet. It does not behave as a magnet-a body, which is affected from the north to the south. On the contrary, the poles are vertical; that is to say, from bottom to top.
Q. – How can the effects of this animal fluid be demonstrated?
R. – When a very healthy subject is in immediate contact with a sick subject, or merely with one who is defective in one of his natural functions, it means to evoke more or less sharp sensations in the sick part, like cold, heat, and sometimes even pain.
Q. – In what way should one touch a sick person in order for him to experience the effects of magnetism?
R. – First of all, one must place oneself opposite the patient, back to the north, bringing one’s invalid’s; then lay one’s two thumbs lightly on the nerve plexes which-are located at the pit of the stomach, and the fingers on the hypochondria. From time to time it is good to run one’s fingers over the ribs, principally towards the spleen, and to change the position of the thumbs. After having continued this exercise for about a quarter of an hour, one performs in a different manner, corresponding to the condition of the patient.
For example, if it is a disorder of the eyes, one lays the left hand on the right temple. One then opens the eyes of the patient and brings one’s thumbs very close to them. Then the thumbs are run from the root of the nose (bridge) all around the socket.
If one has to deal with a violent headache, the tip of one thumb is brought to the forehead, the other behind the head opposite to it.
The same thing applies to all pains which are experienced in other parts of the body. It is always necessary that one hand is on one side, and the other hand is on the opposite side. If the sickness is general, the hands-made into a pyramid with the fingers-are passed over the whole body, starting at the head and then descending along the two shoulders down to the feet. After this one returns to the head: from the front and from the rear, then over the abdomen and over the back.
Q. – What must one do before discontinuing the magnetism?
R. – One must strive to bring the magnetism in equilibrium in all parts of the body. One attains this by bringing the index finger of the right hand to the left side of the crown of the head, bringing it down over the length of the face, over the chest, the abdomen, and the thighs. Then one must withdraw the index finger from the body and go back to the head, describing a kind of circle; this maneuver is repeated seven or eight times, after which the same thing is done with feet against the the left hand on the right side. A rod of iron can be used in place of the finger.
Q. – Is it possible to increase the force or quantity of magnetic fluid in people?
R. – The power of magnetism is augmented by establishing a direct interconnection among several people.
Q. – How can this interconnection be established?
R. – In two ways: the simplest is to form a chain with a certain number of people, having them hold hands; one can also do this with the help of the baquet.
Q. – What is the baquet?
R. – It is a vat about six to seven feet; more or less, in diameter by eighteen inches in height. There is a double bottom in the interior of this vat, in which fragments of broken bottles, gravel, stones, and sticks of pounded sulfur and iron filings are placed. All of this is filled with water and covered up with a floor nailed to the vat. On the surface of the lid, six inches in from the rim, one makes various holes in order to allow the passage of iron rods which are arranged so that one end penetrates the bottom of the vat and the other is directed, by means of a curve, over the pit of the stomach of the patient or other affected parts of the body.
Q. – Are there then any other procedures which need to be followed in order to establish an interconnection among several people?
R. – It is also necessary that they be attached at the middle of the body with a hemp rope having the thickness of a finger.
It is important to note that according to Mesmer, the baquet is only an accessory. The following is a footnote from “Precis Historique des Faits Relatifs.au Magnetisme Animal Jusqu’en Avril 1781″ Payot (Paris, 1971), pp. 89-202. This article, which is not included in this article, was first published in 1781.
“The so-called “imitators” of my method have erected baquets in their hotels resembling the one that can he seen in my treatment room. If that’s all these imitators know about, they are not very advanced.
Assuming that I were to have a suitable establishment, I would abolish the baquets. In general, I only use these little contrivances when I am forced to do so.“
Q. – How does one demonstrate that magnetism has an effect on plants?
R. – By establishing an interconnection among several plants or trees.
Q. – How is this interconnection established
R. – It is first necessary to bend some branches from several trees and attach them to each other; then place a rod of iron in front of each tree, bent in such a manner that one end having been driven into the ground, the other touches the cavity of the tree, at a height of four feet. After this, all of the trees are connected with the same rope. Things being thus arranged, if the finger is then brought to a young growth [shoot or sprout] of one of these trees, all the young leaves will flutter in a more-or-less perceptible manner. However, this effect would be even more obvious if one were to place several interconnecting sensitive sprouts between each tree. In bringing the finger to one of these plants, one would see each one shorten [contract]. It is said that the very same thing occurs with acacias.
Q. – Are plants, therefore, able to contribute to the animal’s economy by making the application of animal magnetism more effective?
R. – Beyond a doubt. The only thing to do is to connect the patients with the plants and to attach them with the same rope, directing the end of a rod of iron, which is driven into the ground over the plexes of the stomach.
Q. – Can a person magnetize himself?
R. – Yes, either with the assistance of plants or the baquet. In this case the patient brings his hands or a rod of iron over the affected parts in the manner we have already explained.
Q. – How does a person fortify himself?
R. – By flinging back both hands, open and outstretched, behind himself. Then the fortification starts with the eyes and goes to the tips of the fingers.
Baquet – Translated as “tub.” The word “baquet” has been kept in the text since this word is usually used in reference to Mesmer’s equipment.
Hypochorzdrium – Regio hypochondriaca; that is, the region beneath the ribs.
Author – Franz Anton Mesmer