The persecutions of the Mesmerists will one day make a curious volume, for they will be written, of course. The disciples of Galileo, Harvey, Jenner, &c., have been exacted in their struggles and suffering, and those of Mesmer even more brightly will shine in martyrology. Seriously, the trials to which travelling Mesmerists are put to, are, at times, humiliating and painful enough, albeit, they afford infinite sport to the unbelievers. These travelling “ Professors,” or many of them, are charlatans thus far : that they pretend to treat scientifically, phenomena, the real nature of which they are entirely ignorant of ; and the study of which, they are, neither by education, habit, or aim, at all fitted for. They are charlatans, in that their superficial knowledge of mere effects, is simply made available in the shape of exhibition ; and the success of the show being their first object, they may [1] be suspected, perhaps, in some cases, of a little “management.” At the same time, the vulgar idea of general collusion, which prevails among those who will not, themselves, experiment, would be ridiculous, if it were not pitiable.

De Bonneville had been electrifying Detroit by his more than galvanic effects upon the muscles of scores of his impressibles, when an enormous sized Wolverine, “trying the thing” himself, found that he was quite equal to the professor, in setting folks to-sleep and “makin’ on ‘em cut up” afterwards, and, accordingly, in the furor of his discovery, off he went into the country to lecture and diffuse the new light which had been dispensed to him. His success was tremendous ; town and village said there was “something in it,” until his reputation, as in other cases, begat him enemies. The Wolverine Mesmerizer, after astonishing a “Hall” full, one evening, at some very “promising town,” or other, and which bade fair, shortly, to be “quite a place,” returned to the tavern, to be arrested in the bar-room by a score of “first citizens,” who had then and there congregated “jest to test the humbug, any how !”

“ Good evening, Perfesser,” said one. “ Won’t you take a little of the fluid ?” said another, and this being an evident hit in the way of a joke, the “anti-humbugs” proceeded to more serious business.

“ Perfesser,” said the principal speaker, a giant of a fellow—before whose proportions, even the huge Magnetizer looked small. “ Perfesser,” said he, biting off the end of a “plug,” and turning it over in his jaws very leisurely, “ a few on us, here, hev jest concludded to hev you try an experiment, appintin’ ourselves a reg’lar constutted committee to report !”

The Professor begged to appoint a more proper place and hour, &c ., or, according to the apprehensions of the “ crowd,” evinced the expected [2] desire to make “ a clean back out.”

“ Perfesser,” resumed the “ big dog,” “ ef we ondustand right, you call your Mesmerism a ‘ re-mee-jil agent,’ which means, I s’pose, that it cures things ?”

The disciple of science referred to divers cases about town, in which he had been successful, to say nothing of the “ pulling teeth” operation, which he had just concluded his lecture with.

“ Yes,” said the challenger, “ you’re death on teeth, we know, but ken Mesmerism come the re-mee-jil over rheumatiz ?”

“ Inflammatory or chronic ?” demanded the Professor.

“ Wa’ll, stranger, we ain’t much given to doctors’ bottle names but we reckon it’s about the wust kind.”

The Mesmerizer was about to define the difference between inflammatory attacks and local affections, when he was interrupted by the inquisitor, who rather allowed that as far as the locality of the disorder was concerned, it had a pre-emption right to the hull critter, and that, furthermore, it was jest expected of him that [3] he should forthwith visit the case, and bid him take up his bed and walk, or he himself would be escorted out of town, astride of a rail, with the accompanying ceremonies. This was a dilemma either horn of which, promised a toss to his reputation, but the crowd were solemnly in earnest ; already triumphing in his detection, they began to look wolfish at him, and wise at each other, so that the Wolverine had nothing left for it, but to demand boldly to “ see the patient !” We had better give the rest of the story as it was related to a humorous friend of ours, by the disciple of Mesmer, himself.

“ Up stars I went with ‘em, mad as thunder, I tell you ; first at being thought a humbug, and next, that my individooal share of the American eagle should be compelled into a measure, by thunder ! I’d a-gin ‘em a fight, if it hadn’t ben for the science, which would a suffered any how, so I jest said to myself, let ‘em bring on their rheumatiz ! I felt as if I could a Mesmerized a horse, and I determined whatever the case might be, I’d make it squeal, by thunder !

“ Here he is,” and in we all bundled into a room, gathering round a bed, with me shut in among ‘em, and the cussed big onenlightened heathen, that did the talking, drawing out an almighty bowie knife at the same time.

“ That’s your man !” said he. Well, there lay a miserable looking critter, with his eyes sot and mouth open—and his jaws got wider and wider, as he saw the crowd and the bowie knife, I tell you ! “ That’s the idea !” said the old big Ingin.

“ Rise up in that bed !” said I, and I tell you what, I must a looked at him dreadful, for up he jumped clean on eend, as if he’d jest got a streak of galvanic.

“ Git out on this floor,” said I, with a wuss look, and I wish I may be shot if he didn’t come, lookin’ wild, I tell ye !

Now, cut dirt, d—m you ! screamed I, and Jehu Gineral Jackson! If he didn’t make a straight shirt-tail for the door, may I never make another pass. After him I went, and after me they came, and prehaps there wasn’t the orfullest stampede down three pair of stars that ever occurred in Michigan ! Down cut old rheumatiz, through the bar-room ; out I cut after him—over went the stove in the rush after both on us ; I chased him round two squars—in the snow, at that then headed him off, and chased him back to the hotel agin, where he landed in a fine sweat, begged for his life, and said—he’d give up the property ! Well, I wish I may be shot if he wasn’t a feller that they were offerin’ a reward for, in Buffalo ! I made him dress himself—cured him of rheumatiz—run it right out of him ; delivered him up, pocketed the reward, and established the science, by thunder !”

St. Louis Reveille.


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.45 (3 January 1846): 528. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text reads “man.”
[2] Original text reads “expeeted.”
[3] Original text reads “tha t.”

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