Mesmerism
MESMER, Franz Anton. Mémoire sur la découverte du magnétisme animal. Geneva: Chez P. Fr. Didot le jeune , 1779.
First edition of the manifesto of mesmerism. Small octavo. [2], vi, 85, [3, blank] pp. With half-title.

Garrison and Morton 4992.1. Hunter & Macalpine, pp. 480-482. Norman Library M4. Printing and the Mind of Man 225.

[Bound together with:]

ESLON, Charles d’. Observations sur le magnétisme animal. London: P. Fr. Didot, le jeune, 1780.

First edition. Small octavo. [4], 151, [1, blank] pp.

Norman Library M77 (1781 edition).

[And:]

ROUSSEL DE VAUZESME, August. De Sectione Symphyseos Ossium Pubis Admittenda... nova editio, aucta & emendata. Paris: in medicorum scholis apud autorem, 1778.

A new edition, expanded and ammended, the same year as the first edition. Small octavo. [iii]-114, [1, errata], [1, blank] pp. Bound without half-title. A treatise arguing in favor of symphysiotomy over Caesarean section during childbirth.

Together three works in one small octavo volume (6 1/2 x 4 1/8 inches; 166 x 104 mm), containing Mesmer’s work and a response supporting it. Contemporary quarter sheep over paste paper boards. Spine stamped in gilt with brown morocco gilt lettering label. Edges dyed red. Overall an extremely clean nice copy.

“The manifesto of animal magnetism. On the eve of the French Revolution, Mesmer captured the imagination of the Parisian pubic with his remarkable ability to effect cures by throwing his patients into ‘mesmeric’ trances, and with his philosophical system aimed at creating amore perfect human society through harmony with the physical universe. As much a social movement as a medical practice, mesmerism spread quickly throughout Europe and America, and became such a mania in pre-Revolutionary France that between 1779 and 1789 more literature was generated on mesmerism than on any other single topic. At first Mesmer used actual magnets to perform his cures but later dispensed with these on the ground that nearly all substances could be magnetized by touch. He employed either direct contact between physician and patient, or contact via the ‘baquet,’ a tub-like apparatus which could be charged with the universal fluid like a Leyden jar. Mesmer always insisted on the physical nature of his cures, which he initially ascribed to magnetic forces or electricity; later he devised the theory of a ‘universal fluid’ acting on the nervous system, which was susceptible to this fluid on account of its inherent property of ‘animal magnetism.’ It is ironic that Mesmer refused to credit the agency of the mind in any of his cures, because his discovery led to the large-scale investigation of psychological phenomena, and is thus an ancestor of psychopathology and psychotherapy” (Norman Library).

“Eslon, a docteur régent of the Faculté de Médecine, was the first important Parisian convert to mesmerism. His outspoken support and practice of Mesmer’s techniques caused dissention within the Faculté and so antagonized its conservative majority that he was eventually expelled. Eslon later broke with Mesmer and set up a rival mesmeric treatment center in Paris, where he practiced his own version of animal magnetism. When the royal commission to investigate mesmerism was formed it was Eslon’s practice and theory of animal magnetism that the commission examined, much to the displeasure of orthodox mesmerists. The present work is Eslon’s major treatise on magnetism, describing his first encounter with animal magnetism and how he became convinced of its efficacy. It also gives the details of eighteen cases treated by Mesmer under Eslon’s observation, one of the patients being Eslon himself” (Norman Library).

Garrison and Morton 4992.1. Norman Library M4. Norman Library M77. PMM 225.

HBS # 68250 $4,500