Punch,  21 (1851), 222.

The Wonders of Hungerford Hall

The Sceptical Gentleman


Essay, Rejoinder


Mesmerism, Animal Magnetism, Experiment, Homeopathy, Quackery, Phrenology, Spiritualism, Telegraphy, Belief

    Responds to a reply to his communication on mesmerism at the Hungerford Hall (see PU1/21/18/3). Defends his approach to mesmerism by pointing out that the 'marvellousness of [mesmerists'] assertions induces close scrutiny of their facts' and implies that mesmerists, owing to their 'Intolerance of scepticism, in matters of science', are guilty of the 'imposture of enthusiasm'. Insists that he is not denying the possibility of phenomena produced between Prudence Bernard and Auguste Laissaigne, only that it is 'not proven'. Argues for a series of experiments by candid persons on the effect of the will on Prudence Bernard's ability to behave as if she were really walking on a bed of serpents. Denies the existence of corroborative evidence for her supposed thought-reading powers and urges that such evidence can only be produced in the Royal Institution. Adds that Michael Faraday should be asked to verify her apparent power to 'attract the magnet', and insists that the action of the electric telegraph, unlike 'Mesmeric miracles', can be verified 'at any time for the sum of one shilling, with no extra change of scepticism'.

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