Comic Annual, 9 (1838), 97–111.
Introduction, Drollery; Letter, Drollery
Animal Magnetism, Mesmerism, Charlatanry, Homeopathy, Phrenology, Morality, Scientific Practitioners, Medical Practitioners, Cultural Geography, Narcotics, Geology, Fieldwork, Temperance, Animal Husbandry, Magnetism, Medical Treatment, Veterinary Science
The illustration captioned 'Animal Magnetism' (97) depicts a cat sitting with its tongue out underneath a bird's nest in a tree, as all the hatchlings fly down towards its mouth. The illustration captioned 'The Family Seat' (facing 97) depicts a cat attached by its claws to the seat of a gentleman's breeches while the man's horrified wife looks on from behind a fan; he has evidently attempted to sit on a chair occupied by the cat and its kittens, which are now falling to the floor as the chair overturns. The article is headed with a spoof quotation from the Sporting Intelligence: 'Charlatan is rising in public favour, and has many backers who book him to win' (97). The introduction begins: 'Of all the signs of the times—considering them literally as signs, and the public literally as "a public"—there are none more remarkable than the Hahnemann's Head,—the Crown and Compasses, devoted to Gall and Spurzheim's entire,—and the Cock and Bull, that hangs out at the House of Call for Animal Magnetizers' (97–98). It is astonishing that the Cock and Bull—'a daring, glaring, flaring, gin-palace-like establishment' dispensing 'a raw, heady, very unrectified article'—gains respectable custom. Yet 'scientific men, and even physicians, in good practice in all other respects, have notoriously frequented the bar, from which they have issued again, walking all sorts of ways at once, or more frequently falling asleep on the steps, but still talking such "rambling skimble-skamble stuff" as would naturally be suggested by the incoherent visions of a drunken man'. (98) Such occurrences are far more common in Paris than in London: Hood cites a recent instance there involving seventy-eight 'medical men'. However, 'it is not improbable that we may yet see a meeting of the College of Physicians rendered very how-come-you-so indeed by an excess of Mesmer's particular', and the example would have a 'powerful influence' in spreading the 'pernicious narcotic' to all classes, robbing them of their common senses. (99) The illustration captioned 'I was Told I Should Find Here Some Trap Rocks!' (facing 99) depicts a stern-looking gentleman with a geological hammer staring at a kneeling man who has just removed a pigeon (evidently a rock pigeon) from a wicker trap; a figure with a gun stands in the background. Hood suggests that the temperance societies might attack 'mental dram-drinking' as well (100).
Hood introduces some letters as 'materials to be worked up into Tracts' (101). Reuben Oxenham, a Lincolnshire grazier, wishes to know about animal magnetism, as it might be useful in animal husbandry. He writes to his nephew Robert Holland, a London linen-draper, who investigates and sends an account. Holland recalls the appearance of true magnets to his uncle's mind: 'little bone boxes, at sixpence a piece, with a blackamoor's head atop, and a little bar of philosopher's steel inside, that points out the north, and sets a needle dancing like mad' (103). He explains that animal magnetism 'is all of a piece with juggling, quack-salving, and mountebanking, such as universal physic'. He describes making a visit to the rooms of an 'outlandish count' who has 'set up in it in the west end' (the reference is to the leading mesmerist Jules Dupotet de Sennevoy (Winter 1998, pp. 42–46, p. 359)). (104) Holland also gives a lengthy account of the mesmeric state and actions of the subject, 'Mizz Charlot Ann Elizabet Martin' (106). The illustration captioned 'Sleeping Draughts' (facing 108) depicts a man (a surgeon's assistant?) with a basket full of medicine bottles asleep against a bank; a fierce-looking man (the surgeon?) stands over him with his whip held high, while his horse snorts, and his dog growls. In conclusion, Holland suggests possible punishments for the mesmerists, whom he suspects are acting deceitfully. A postscript gives the comical advice of a veterinary surgeon, who considers that animal magnetism 'is all very well for the old men and women Physicians, but won't go down with the Horse Doctors' (110). The illustration captioned 'Somnambulism' (111) depicts the rear view of a man in his nightcap and nightgown, with a snuffed candle in his hand and a paper marked 'Stop and read' strapped facing his back; Punch (wearing a nightcap) stands asleep, resting on a club, with his hunchback turned towards the paper.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
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