תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

two months, in the presence of above an hundred and fifty persons; and that among others, M. Jadelft, professor of physic at Nancy, a man eminent for his genius and abilities, was not only a witness of these experiments, but was actually concerned in the greatest part of them. Each of these experi. ments was repeated at different times, in different manners, and with all the precautions that could prevent fraud, through the ingenious application of mechanical contrivances, to produce the appearances under consideration. We shall give a 'part of these precautions in a translation of the Author's own words :

I repeated, says he, these experiments, sometimes blindfolding Bléton, and sometimes binding his arms behind his back, allowing him only such a use of his hands, as was barely necessary to his holding the rod. I brought him to places which he had never seen. I conducted him blind-fold, at one time, towards springs which I knew, and which he could not have known before ; at another, to grounds, whore subterraneous contents were unknown to us both. I brought him back again by different roads, and still blindfold, to the same places.-I made him go backwards ; and notwithstanding all these attempts to disconcert him, he still returned to the course of the stream, conducted me, himself still blindfold, and only supported by one arm, to the place from whence he set out, without deviating in the least from the lines that had been drawn to mark the current, and following exactly the same windings of the water that he had formerly indicated. Sometimes I removed the marks he had himself made to indicate the course of the water, and substituted false ones in their place, endeavouring thus to deceive him by his senses, but he always observed and rectified the error, and of fix hundred trials I made to deceive him, not onc fucceeded.'

Our Author's curiosity did not end here: he opened a new field of investigation, hitherto unattempted, and made experiments upon the phenomena of the virgula divina, or divining rod, which mult render them fingularly interesting to natural philofophers. He made experiments upon Bléton with magnetic composiçions, newly electrified, and found they produced no visible influence on him, more than on other men, when he was at a distance from a spring; but when he was placed above a spring, and magnetic compolitions were presented to his touch, our Author observed a diminution of three-fourths, both in the convulsive motion of his body, and the rotatory movement of the rod.

This led him to think, that with Aronger doses of this kind of electrics, and a deeper impregnation, both these movements might be entirely suspended. As soon as M. THOUVENEL withdrew his electrical preparations, the phenomena of the inAuence of the water upon Bléton resumed all their force.

not one alreacent to an abor

• It was not on Bléton alone that these electrical trials were made. We have already seen, that the proximity or contact of this man was sufficient to communicate to our Author, the -virtue of making the rod turn about. M. T. therefore provided himself with magnetic compositions, electrified sometimes in the form of balls, sometimes in powder, in bags and cafes ; and then the proximity or contact of Bléton could not communicate the smallest motion to the rod. This experiment appeared to be influenced by the state of the atmosphere, and to vary with the air, like every other kind of electricity

Other facts are related in this Treatise, which shew ftill more remarkably, the key that electricity may furnish to explain the phenomena of the divining rod. The effects of infulators or non-conductors, are generally known. - Our Author, curious to know what effects they would produce on Bléton, placed suce cessively under his feet pieces of, folded filk, and cerecloth, planks thickly covered with wax or rosin, and also glass insula. tors. In these experiments, both the motion of the rod, and the impression of the water were almost imperceptible; and they were totally suspended by making Bléton touch artificial electrics. In other experiments, made with ladders raised perpendicularly above the fprings, the impressions of the water upon the rod and the body of Bléton, manifested themselves at the height of 15, 20, and 30 feet; whereas the impression ceased, and was null with respect to both, when a piece of cereçloth was placed under these ladders.

These facts, which we have selected from a considerable number of the like kind, seem to favour our Author's conjecture, that there are eflential connexions and affinities between the phenomena of the divining rod, and those of magnetism and electricity. These experiments, followed by others, which inventive fagacity must undoubtedly suggest, will perhaps, in process of time, enable the natural philosopher and the chemist to explain these curious phenomena, and to discover new affinities between the fubterraneous, atmospherical and animal electricities, The internal streams may be the natural conductors of the firft, as the clouds in the air, and the blood-vessels in animals, are of the second and the third. One of the most essential objects of the farther experiments that may be made to illustrate the phenomena of the divining rod, ought to be, says our Author, to enquire whether these phenomena be owing to the acquisition or deper. dition of any subtile matter, which issues from the terrestrial globe, or is extracted from the human body, or whether both these causes operate at the same time, to produce the effect under consideration. For example, the direct rotation of the rod, and the convulsive motion of the body, may perhaps be occasioned by the former (the acquisition), whereas the retrograde

motion of the rod, accompanied with an internal shivering, which announces the restoration of the equilibrium in the organs of the diviner, may be occasioned by the latter (the deperdition), and then it may be inquired, whether the former be not a species of positive, and the latter a species of negative, electricity.

We pass over several observations of our Author, relative to the important discoveries that may be made by such inquiries, and to the advantages that medical practice may derive from them. We imagine that our Readers will be, at this moment, peculiarly anxious to see all the degrees of evidence, with which the relation of the fa&ts hitherto mentioned is accompanied, and we are desirous to satisfy them, on this head, as far as this can be done from the Author's declarations. He tells us, that he addressed circular advertisements to all the persons who employed Bléton, and to all the provinces where this man exercised bis fingular profession, in order to obtain accurate and well-at, tefted accounts of the success of his undertakings. The result of this was a multitude of testimonies, which cor.firmed his own observations; and these are published at length in the third section of the Work now before us. He does not always mention the names of the persons who have sent him the memoirs and letters that attest Bliton's talent and success, but he points out always their place of residence, their employments, rank, and all the circumstances that are adapted to make them known. He offers moreover to thew their letters and their seals, to such as desire it. Among those who bear testimony in this case, we find a great number of persons in distinguished Gtuations,-bishops, magistrates, heads of colleges and communities, physicians, &c. It appears by these testimonies, that many towns, communities, and individuals, are indebted to Blé. con for the springs with which they are enriched. Among the Memoirs that have been sent to our Author, several are composed by persons eminently skilled in chemistry and natural philosophy, among whom he particularly mentions M. Sigaud de la Fond. This ingenious professor, so well known, and to juftly celebrated, has appeared publicly as an assertor and witness of Bléton's atchievments; he even affirms, that he has seen operations of the divinatory rod, still more wonderful than those of Bléton. If this extract had not already surpassed the bounds we proposed to give it, we would copy M. Sigaud's account of the effects of metals upon a divinatory rod, which, in the hands of a fair lady at Bourges, was indeed marvellous in its indications. M. Sigaud was an eye witness of these marvels, which are only such, because we are unacquainted with their mechanical causes. The attraction of the loadstone is every wbit as marvellous as the divinatory rod; and there is as much narrowAels of mind in disbelieving things, because they surprize ys, KK 4

ang

[ocr errors]

and because they have been the innocent occafions of fraud and impofture, as there is in the most implicit and superstitious credulity. The great point here is to examine facts and teftimonies. The name of M. Sigaud is certainly of great weight in the relations of our Author: we are even highly disposed to believe him, in what he himself relates of the lady of Bourges; though, to render the moral evidence complete here, we could wish to know something of the moft material qualities and accompliments of the lady in question. For here a more than ordinary fascination may be suspected, against which philosophers are not always proof ;-being, at the best, men of like passions with ourselves. .

Our Author speaks much of the medical uses that may be derived from successful inquiries into the mechanical causes of the phenomena we have been relating, and thinks the power of managing (or being managed by, one might as well say) the divinatory rod, might be communicated to many, who are not as yet initiated into these mysteries.-But we go a step fartber, and observe, that the improvement of this science may not only be subfervient to medical purposes, but also to mental and moral uses, if the attempts to establih materialism should succeed. For if, contrary to expectation, it Ihould be generally believed, that the simple principle in man, which thinks and wills, is either a grain of salt, or a bubble of air, or an electrical spark, or a drop of water, or a globule of oil, or å particle of earth, or a piece of glass, -why then it is not impossible that the divining Fod, by the intervention of magnetism, electricity, &c. may form interesting communications with the faculties and affec. tions, the tranfactions and secrets of this principle, which as yet is invisible. It may discover mines of virtue which are hid, and pure currents of generosity and genius, which run under ground, unnoticed and unknown. It may bring to light motives, plans, and purposes, that would undeceive dupes, and disconcert impostors. But alas ! we know already too much of poor humaniry, both in private and public scenes, to need or defira any farther manifestations of its misery and folly.

A RT. IV. Lettre sur la Litterature Allemande, &c. i. e. A Letter concerning

German Literature, addressed to Her Royal Highness the Duchets Dowager of Brunswick-Wolfeabattel, traoffated from the German.

12mo. Berlin. 1981. IT is reported, that the Royal Author of a letter on this I same subject (of which we gave a short account when it appeared), desired to know the sentiments of the learned and respectable Abbé JERUSALEM concerning his performance ; and,

thas

that to gratify this desire, his royal fifter addressed herself to the Abbé, and thus gave occasion to the Letter now before us. The Abbé is a rational divine, a good philosopher, and an insinuating courcier ; withal a worthy and virtuous man. The royal author had laid himself more or less open to criticism, by confounding too much the state of literature in Germany, in the earlier part of the present century, with the very advantageous revolution that has been progressively improving taste and genius in that country for these last forty years. The Abbé, indirectly, and with all the mellifluous gentleness of which contradiction is susceptible, corrects this error, and makes the proper distinctions. His principal design in this Letter, is to thew ift, the obstacles (not yet entirely removed) that have retarded the progress of the belles lettres and sciences in Germany; and, 2dly, to indicate the successful attempts that have been made, by the native energy of genius, in that country, notwithstanding there obstacles. • Under the first of these articles, the ingenious Author mentions the wars, which beginning at the period when the exiled muses took refuge in the Welt, continued so long to ravage Germany ;-ihe circumstances of the German empire, which exhibits to learning no common protector, no fixed residence;the contempt which the grandees have almost always shewed for literature, as below their dignity, and only fit for the lower ranks in society ;-the little encouragement given to learned men, who were scattered here and there, secking for a bare sube sistence by laborious occupations, which extinguished genius, and who, when they had not the badge of nobility, were excluded from courts, kept at a distance from the commerce of the polite world, and obliged to live in a discouraging obscurity. These and other obstacles to the progress of taste and genius are pointed out by this respectable Writer in a very interesting manner.

He observes farther, that Germany was indebted, for the first dawn of good taste, to the French, and more especially to a colony of that nation, which fled from persecution, and found an afylum in the territories of the Elector of Brandenburg. This colony, according to our Author, polithed the rough Germans by the elegance of their insinuating manners, the beauty and harmony of their language, and the masterly productions of their poets, orators, and historians, which were superior to any thing which Germany had as yet exhibited in the line of liteȚature.—But these advantages were not exempt from inconveniences. The more learned Germans studied and admired the French language, but began to be almost alhamed of their own ; at least many despaired of being ever able to render ic elegant and harmonious. This discouragement suppressed emu

lation,

« הקודםהמשך »