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HYPNOTISM AND MESMERISM.                 83
times. Its modern history has also been largely a record of superstitious belief, fostered by chicanery and ignorance ; the nature of the phenomena being such that in the hands alike of honest ignorance and conscious fraud they may be made to sanction every belief, confirm every dogma, and foster every superstition. It was these facts which drove scientific men from the field of investigation in the early modern history of the science. Mesmer himself, in the light of modern knowledge of the subject, is apt to be accused of charlatanism; but, as we shall see further on, he is entitled, in common with all investigators, to the largest measure of charity.
As before remarked, the facts of hypnotism obtained by the experimenters of the different schools appear to contradict each other. This, however, is obviously only an apparent contradiction, for it is axiomatic that no one fact in Nature is inconsistent with any other fact. It follows that there must be some underlying principle or principles, heretofore overlooked, which will harmonize the facts. It is the purpose of this chapter to outline a few fundamental principles which, properly understood, will enable the student of hypnotism to reconcile many seeming inconsistencies. An understanding of the salient points of difference between the various schools can best be conveyed by briefly outlining the modern history of the science.
Mesmer is entitled to the credit of having first brought the subject to the attention of the scientific world, although probably his attention was attracted to it by the writings of Paracelsus and Van Helmont. In the early part of his career he was deeply interested in the study of astrology, and he fancied that the planets somehow exerted an influence on the health of human beings. He at first thought that this influence was electrical, but afterwards referred it to magnetism. At that time his cures : were effected by stroking the diseased bodies with artificial magnets. He achieved considerable success by such means, and published a work in 1766 entitled " De Planetarum Influxa." In 1776, however, he met Gassner, a Catholic