« PreviousContinue »
MESMERISM IN INDIA FORTY YEARS AGO.
hand-broom, used commonly for sweeping the house floors. In about an hour the pain in the foot and numbness of the leg had ceased, the man fell asleep, and the next morning assisted in carrying me sixteen or eighteen miles.
From the marks of the teeth, and the symptoms which followed the bite, there could, I think, be no mistake as to the danger the man was in. The practice of “receiving the god into the body” is common among Dhers and other low castes among the Mahratta tribes of the western side of India, and particularly among the syces or horse-keepers in the cavalry regiments. The person receiving this rite is generally washed at the nearest rivulet or even well, and seated in a circle with several others, each of them supporting with one hand a brass dish, containing a few brass images, frankincense, sandal wood paste, cocoa-nut, and invariably a piece of turmeric. The bystanders, with a gooroo or priest, commence a quick but monotonous chant, accompanied with the sound of small brass bells, cymbals, and tom-toms; the seated party frequently responding with loud shouts, and raising the brass dish above their heads. The chief actor presently begins to sway himself about, sob, hiccup, and even roll on the ground in strange convulsions, the eyes assuming a ghastly appearance, and the body frequently rigid. Questions are now put to him about his own or some other person's health, good or bad fortune, absent persons, obtaining offspring, &c. and the replies taken as oracular. Sometimes it is undertaken as a vow, similar to the swinging ceremony or churruck pooja. I have once or twice detected imposture, and where the convulsions were only feigned; but I declare I have often seen these men perfectly insensible to pinching, beating, pricking, &c. I was once present when some young
Muhumedans rushed in and tumbled the man neck and heels down a flight of stone steps, cut and bruised him severely; but he remained insensible for some time. How this state is brought about I cannot conjecture. Certainly nothing like manipulation or mesmeric passes were ever resorted to. It could not be by the common intoxication of bang or other drugs; because, once through the ceremony, and out of the fit, they become instantly sensible, but forget every thing that has passed. When interpreter to my regiment, I had two or three instances of complaints to investigate, in which men were charged with witchcraft, for making people “follow them about in a foolish halfstupid manner." I had never then heard of mesmerism. I can only now regret that I should have lost so many excellent opportunities of searching into these and similar subjects.
An officer, formerly of the Bombay army, and I believe, still
ASTROLOGY AND THE PRESS.
in existence, once attempted to study this “magic;" but, what with the rigid fasts imposed upon him by his instructor, and the threats of his commanding officer, he gave it up.
I remain, my dear Sir,
M. E. BAGNOLD. 28, Hamilton Terrace, St. John's Wood,
230 July, 1848. The above narrative is by Colonel Bagnold, a gentleman of the highest character and of distinguished talent. And we would invite those persons who dispute the realities of the mesmeric phenomena daily witnessed in this country to reflect on the evidence it affords of old and established customs in India, which are nearly allied to mesmerism; and which clearly shew the possibility of exciting the brain until the spiritual existence (mysterious as it is) displays itself, and declares to man that he is truly something more than a mere clod of the valley. The searcher after truth will do well to peruse an article in No. XXIII of the Zoist, entitled “ Cure of a true Cancer of the Female Breast with Mesmerism, by Dr. Elliotson.” This article, we perceive, has been published as a pamphlet by Walton and Mitchell
, 24, Wardour-street, and gone through several editions: it will repay the perusal. As to the god Seetaram here mentioned, we have little doubt it is the Ash-TAR of the Phoenicians; which was the planet Venus.
ASTROLOGY AND THE PRESS.
THERE are some fair men among the press Editors: the following is from the Family Herald, which sells 100,000 a week:Amo.—" Is the study of astrology prejudicial to religion ?". Certainly not.
Astrology is full of the most sublime, religious ideas, and its principle is accepted, at least, if not borrowed, by the first and greatest of all religions. Thus, for instance, prophecy accepts the basis of astrological direction when it substitutes a day for a year, as 1260 days for 1260 years. All interpreters of prophecy proceed upon this principle, and this is the very basis of astrology itself, without which it could have no existence. Here, therefore, prophecy and astrology agree in principle. The Scriptures say nothing against astrology. They rebuke astrologers, and laugh at their pretensions; but they do the same with priests, magistrates, and
all other wiseacres and rulers amongst men. When the three astrologers came from the east to see the young Saviour, they had his star to guide them, and it guided them aright. Whether this was natural or miraculous it matters not; the Scriptures respect the idea of the astrological direction in the particular case alluded to. In the wars of the Jews, also, we are told by the sacred writer that the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. What this means we do not pretend to say. All that we affirm is, that though there be many severe
ASTROLOGY AND THE PRESS.
thrusts levelled at astrologers, there is not one that is definitely pointed at astrology, and there is nothing whatever in astrology that contradicts any one of the doctrines of the Christian religion. Milton, the poet, believed in it. Bishop Hall believed in it. Melancthon, the Protestant Reformer and helpmate of Luther, believed in it. Sir Mathew Hale, an eminently religious English judge, besides Lord Bacon, Archbishop Usher, and other eminent Christians, believed in it. With such great names to guarantee the purity of its principles, no man need have any religious fear of studying it. But still it is one of those bewildering and fascinating subjects which are very likely to interfere with the free use of a man's practical judgment; and if a man should happen to have a bad nativity and unfortunate directions, he is very apt to fall into despondency, if he puts faith in the certainty of the evils they portend. People are all too apt to confound astrology with astrologers, as they confound the clergy with the church. Most of the professional astrologers are ignorant of their profession, and give most contradictory opinions. An astrologer ought to be a zealous, religious, honest, and discreet man, as well as an excellent calculator, otherwise he is not worth expending a shilling upon.”
On the other hand, the Editor of the Manchester Guardian, a paper of the largest circulation, we believe, of any in England, in his number for 25th Nov. 1848, declares that astrological almanacs trade on the credulity and gullibility of the public. Heaven knows, the editors of political papers have long followed the trade of gulling the public, and care little for truth or virtue, so they but make out a case for their party. The Editor disputes the reality of the fulfilment of Zadkiel's predictions, asserting that “ Zadkiel's so-called predictions are at best shrewd guesses ; the majority of which the event, so far from verifying, has utterly falsified.” Well: let us see how he makes out this assertion. He allows us to have “some sagacity;" but we fear he has but little, or he would not term those guesses “shrewd,” the major part of which are “falsified;" for they must be as stupid, in that case, as his own arguments, if possible. He says,
“ Before entering into these comparisons, we may notice one circumstance, which, as it appears to us, strikes at the root of all these pretended predicțions, whether as to the fate of nations or of individuals, as figured by certain horoscopes and nativities. The old astrologers worked these“ schemes" by pretending to point out certain “ planetary influences.” But the only planetary bodies known to them (apart from the earth), were the Sun, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury; in all seven, counting our satellite. But, since that period, Uranus and Ceres were discovered ; subsequently Pallas, Juno, and Vesta ; and very recently Neptune, Astrea, and Flora. Here are eight other planetary bodies never taken into the account, their entire and aggregate influence, 'malefic or benefic, wholly disregarded, because their very existence was unknown to the old astrologers. And the same thing is true, to a proportionate degree, of the Raphael, Zadkiel, et hoc genus onine, of the present day. Zadkiel, as we shall shew hereafter, predicts direful effects by Uranus being in the ruling sign of any land" (that of England, we presume, being Aries, and hence threatens us with a year of dis
ASTROLOGY AND THE PRESS.
aster and affliction in 1849. Here he uses an element wholly unknown to the older astrologers, from Nostradamus down to old Lilly; yet he, too, seems not to take any notice of the more recently-discovered planets, or to permit them to exercise any influence over the destinies of earth's people or its nations."
A lame argument is this worn-out objection, which has been answered a thousand times. Would the Editor allow that Priestley, and the chemists of his day, knew any thing of chemistry ? or would he say that there was no such science in existence, because modern chemists have made enormous strides in discovery, and now possess a knowledge of principles utterly unknown to “the older” chemists ? Every science is progressive; and though we know not what Neptune may do, we do know beyond dispute what Saturn does : for instance, if he afflict Mercury at birth, he makes men like the Editor of the Manchester Guardian, who presume to argue on a science of the very fundamental principles of which they are totally ignorant; men who are too idle or too dishonest to master their subject before they address the public. Hence do they become the laughing-stocks of those persons who read their poor attempts, as the Editor must be to all who peruse his paper-elderly ladies excepted.
The Editor objects that the prediction of events which occurred lately to Louis Phillippe are not fulfilled. And because the Revolution in France was not named under the 6 voice of the stars” in February, it was not foretold at all. Excellent logic! “ France has not yet been plunged into war," quoth the Editor ; though Zadkiel, he shews, foretold such an event. In the name of, even editorial, honesty-if there be such a thing—what is it that has gone on in France ? Have the THOUSANDS whose blood stained the stones of the cities of France in February, May, and JUNE, been the victims of merry-making? Is the Editor aware of what "WAR” really signifies ? England, too, he says has not been plunged into war since this eclipse, “though more than twelve months have elapsed.” Yet he has given long accounts of a bloody and disastrous war in India, in which our troops have been defeated! Then he quotes the prediction that “ moon in April 1848 will affect Louis Philippe severely;" and that certain matters about the 5th of March - seem to denote danger of poison to the old man, who will certainly suFFER about that time and bend his frame towards the earth.” Yea, verily; and suffer he did, it to be hurled from a throne and driven a wanderer on the earth, with not a five-franc piece in his pocket, be to suffer. Where does the Editor learn the meaning of words ? Yet, in spite of the hieroglyphic, and all that was said of Louis Philippe suffering by “sedition” and the “tur
ASTROLOGY AND THE PRESS.
bulent scenes," &c. in Paris, it is coolly asserted, that the predictions did not 6 even glance at the real state of events as to France or its ex-monarch.” And the Editor adds, “the only approach to poisoning we have heard of is the deleterious state of the water at Claremont.” Very good: that was “danger of poison.
Want of space compels us to leave this sapient Editor, who, we hope, will not be in danger of poison from the black bile of prejudice that rankles in his system and prevents him perceiving even the broad glare of truth.
We must now turn to our old friend the Editor of the Athenæum, who, unlike the country scribe, has talent enough. Would that he might use it to uphold truth instead of error! He says “ we cannot comply with Zadkiel's request, that we will refute astrology-because it is enough that it is not established after a trial of many centuries." Thus he strikes his colours, and eschews argument. Well; if his readers choose to consider that “it is enough," why, let them, say we. Yet we doubt whether they will not demur to this dictum, and say to themselves, “surely, if this said science of astrology be so very false, and so utterly ungrounded, it would be very easy for the Editor to refute it at once by reference to any well-known nativity, or to any case of a large eclipse.” And they may even argue, that though Zadkiel be not worth setting right, yet the tens of thousands of his readers are worth saving from this delusion, which the Editor calls “detestable.” And they may say, for example, “why not take the great eclipse of the sun on the 15th April, 1847, which was visible from the Cape of Good Hope to Ceylon, and most parts of Australia, and then shew that it was not followed, according to the laws of astrology, by warfare and battles at the Cape, or by insurrection and fearful bloodshed at Ceylon, and by great mortality of sheep, especially, in Australia, as Zadkiel foretold at page 33 of his Almanac for 1847?” Or, “Why not take the nativity of Louis Philippe, and shew that the planet Saturn was not in 20° of Virgo when he was born, and that the Moon was not in 20° of Virgo also on his birth-day 1847; and that the great eclipse did not take place on the place the Sun was in at his birth, as asserted by Zadkiel; and that the events that took place subsequently did not accord with the doctrines of astrology.” Moreover, they may ask, “Why not shew that in March last, when the ex-king was a fugitive, suffering want and misery, Saturn was not 90°, a square aspect, from the place the Moon was in at his birth, and Mars also passing over that very place?" If the readers of the Athenæum be cute enough to think like this, what