صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

dissociated from the voice, and manner, and action of the individual speaker.

From circumstances which it is unnecessary to detail, Prince Hohenlohe became acquainted, in the year 1820, with an obscure individual, of the name of Martin Michell, who for many years had carried on the trade of working cures, by prayers and exorcisms of various kinds, and who, at this time, continued his plans in secret, in defiance of the proscription of the police. This individual maintained, as the foundation of his system, that the power of working miracles still exists in our time, as in the days of the Apostles, provided that the operator and operated should both possess a full and entire confidence in Christ Jesus, and in his Almighty Power.


I need not enter upon the motives which associated Prince Hohenlohe with Martin Michell: it is only important to remark, that this connexion existed, and that the prince determined to avail himself of the savoir faire of this subaltern agent, which would enable him, on the experiment of the first miracle, should it fail, to throw the blame of such failure upon the inferior agent; and if it succeeded, to leave him in the obscurity of the back ground, and to appropriate to himself all the honour of success. This is one of the commonest principles of human nature, and belongs to the class of political expedients, to which the ambitious almost necessarily resort, for the prosecution of their plans of aggrandising themselves. The prince seems to have been well aware of the reputation he enjoyed, in his clerical capacity; but he wisely determined to prepare the public mind for the subsequent exhibition of his miraculous gift of healing by some suitable pulpit addresses particularly on the power of faith,


on the superiority of the Catholic religion.

Such were the circumstances when he happened to meet with an admirable patient in the Princess Matilda of Schwarzenberg, at that time nineteen years of age, having been attacked in her eighth year with paralysis; for the cure of which, the assistance of the most celebrated surgeons and physicians had in vain been sought. Still, notwithstanding reiterated disappointment, means were continued to be employed; and it is on record, from the testimony of her professional attendants, that a fortnight before the performance of the alleged miracle, her state was so much improved, that she could raise herself upon her couch, and sit up, which she could not have done before; that she could move her limbs without pain; and that, if she had not yet been permitted to walk, it was from the fear of pulling down these great advances towards recovery, by a premature or excessive effort.

In this happy state of things, the Prince Hohenlohe fixed his visit to the patient, accompanied by his agent and tool, Martin Michell; the former contenting himself with watching the operations of the latter. After pursuing the plan which will be presently more particularly detailed, as the usual process of Prince Hohenlohe, he commanded the princess to rise, and she did rise: she left her bed without assistance, threw off the mechanical supports which had been given her during the previous curative process, went immediately into the garden, and appeared next morning in public to return thanks at church. According to my view of this case, as in that of Miss Fancourt, the cure had already been effected by the slow and combined operation of time, and rest, and remedies; and there was wanting only a powerful stimulus to the function of voli

tion, to give the necessary increased energy to the muscles; and, with a patient of a lively imagination and highly wrought sensibility, it was not difficult to calculate upon the probable result.

This result, however, was immediately proclaimed as miraculous; and the prince, watching the favourable opportunity, dexterously contrived to disencumber himself of his agent: nobody heard of the proscribed Martin Michell, and he dared not openly lay claim to his share in the cure; consequently he retired to the shades of obscurity, where he contented himself with still carrying on his machinations in secret, and enjoying their profitable results, leaving the field of fame open to his pupil, who being superior to the claims of wealth, and receiving no pecuniary reward, was immediately followed by crowds of patients, and by a multitude of pretended miraculous cures. The great reputation of the prince was, to a certain extent limited by various measures of police, to which he had become obnoxious, in consequence of the excessive eagerness of the assembled patients. Among other methods adopted to undeceive the public, the local magistracy gave him twenty-four patients to act upon, not one of whom was materially relieved; and losing the advantage which accrued to him in consequence of abstraction from close supervision, he gradually outlived his renown, which, in fact, had only rested upon the great power exerted by the brain and nervous system upon all the other vital functions, when carefully carried up to its highest degree of tension. So long as these plans were carried on in public, in the midst of an enthusiastic and ignorant circle, so long success was the result, and miraculous agency the alleged cause; but, when the experiments were made before well informed and competent judges, the result was

either altogether unsuccessful, or it was nothing more than every medical man may produce almost every day, by giving a proper direction and excitement to the extreme activity of the brain and nervous system. The truth of this conclusion will be further shewn by considering the methods pursued by this most extraordinary, and most successful, worker of modern miracles.

In all these cases, as in the recent instance of Miss Fancourt, the spirit of party-feeling unhappily is apt to cast a veil over the clear perception and sound judgment of those who have marshalled themselves on either side of the question: each finds it difficult to retrace an injudicious movement, or to retract a hasty expresssion : having committed himself and his opinions, he is zealous for the support of those opinions, and becomes on either side, the warm, enthusiastic partizan. Truth will attach, for the most part, to one class of these disputants; but even here, it will be so often disguised by the natural warmth with which it is invested, and by the disposition to exaggerate and distort its placid features, that it will become a caricature, and there will be room even for good to be evil spoken of. It is grievous that this should happen among those who equally pro-fess, and seek after the same great object; but so it is, that in the frailty of human nature, each will contend, on the one side, for the completeness of opinions (not evidence) arising from such excellent and estimable individuals; while the respondents will not allow of the slightest deviation in circumstance, from the principles of their reason, and the results of their judgment : in fact, each looks too much to himself, too little to the real object of pursuit.

The same principle is well exemplified in the case of Prince Hohenlohe;-only that in this instance we should not be expecting



the influence of truly Christian views, because there wanted even the semblance of a Christian basis, for a superstructure, which was nevertheless grafted upon the Ro-Catholic creed:-but it seems, that in all ages and places, Christians are men; and that the infirmities of our nature cleave even to those who have been renewed in the spirit of their minds, so long as they remain associated with this tenement of clay. A

list of no fewer than thirteen works on this subject now before me (the most accessible of which are an article in the Journal Complémentaire du Dictionnaire des Sciences Medicales, for November 1822, and a work entitled "Cures Miraculeuses, opérées par le Prince de Hohenlohe," &c.) proves how great was the difference of opinion, and how great also the excitement produced by these reports. Nor, when it is considered, that on all sides it was asserted, that by the efficacy of the prayers of the prince, the deaf heard, the blind saw, and the paralytic was restored to the use of his limbs,

is it surprising that these events should have acquired the character of miraculous, and should have thrown a halo of sanctity and influence around him to whom God had delegated such power.

In fact, if all events and occurrences, which are not palpable to our senses, may be considered as miraculous, then indeed the cures of Prince Hohenlohe may be safely placed in this class. It is the result of facts alone, not of opinions and prejudices, which can decide a question of this nature; -and it must be remembered, that the influence of novelty gives a charm to circumstances and narrations, which prompts mankind to believe and to admire them because they are new, without deeply investigating their title to credibility consequently, it is necessary, in all questions of deviation from the established laws of nature,

that the facts should be authentic, and that they should be related by persons capable of judging of the circumstances under which they have occurred, and sufficiently impartial to relate them without gloss or exaggeration; equally and most carefully avoiding the ebullition of popular feeling, which always leans to the side of the marvellous; and the frigid scepticism of those who will admit, and believe, nothing but what is demonstrated. If this prudent reserve and firm adherence to truth had been observed, the fame of Prince Hohenlohe would have been of a much shorter duration; and it would have been shewn, that if the cures were allowed, they were dependent upon the physical laws of our incorporated nature.

According to the published declaration of the prince, there was no hope of success, unless the patient possessed a full and unshaken confidence in God;-and not only that He could, but that He would succour those who in sincerity sought the relief afforded through his servant. In the performance of his miracles accordingly, the prince first asked the patient if he or she (generally the latter) firmly believed that God could heal him, and that He would do so. Being answered in the affirmative, the prince engaged in silent, or viva voce prayer, beseeching God graciously to remove the disease of the individual, and restore his lost health; both for the immediate good of the patient, for the support and comfort of His church, and the glory of His great name, that God might be glorified in others;-pleading this answer to prayer on the ground of the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of my Father in my name, He will give it you;" on the ground of the faith of the sick individual; and finally, for the honour of Jesus Christ his Son, and of His church. Since, added the prince, the faith

of Christians, in the present day, has fallen to so low a state, and that the ordinary methods of instruction are insufficient to awaken the heart to the displays of the mercy and love of God, events of an extraordinary nature are necessary to restore it to its original purity and stability. This part of the process was then terminated by a solemn benediction, given in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Immediately afterwards, the prince interrogated the patient if he felt himself relieved; and, having received an affirmative reply, he commanded him, in the name of Jesus Christ, to arise and walk without assistance. At the least appearance of fear, hesitation, or anxiety, he exhorted to a firm and unlimited confidence in God-to take courage and to gain a victory over self, since Divine grace had assuredly placed him in a situation to employ his limbs, if he would use on his part the required exertion. And then, if the event did not correspond to this prediction and expectation of the prince, he encouraged the patient for futurity; saying, that it often happened, that the sick were not worthy of this grace at the moment, and that their healing at that time would not ultimately be advantageous to their souls' health; but that they ought by fasting and prayer, and penance, and continued progress in good works, to prepare themselves for acceptance with God, that He would grant their prayer.

Here is abundantly shewn the influence of a false religion: but leaving this consideration, can any process be devised better calculated to exalt the sensibility of the nervous system,-to excite the brain to its utmost activity,—and to create such a degree of energy of volition, as to give to this faculty that astonishing power, which would carry the patient beyond himself,-and effect a per

manent cure, in those who were suffering only from a debility of this function,-and momentarily suspend the laws of morbid action, in cases of some permanent disease; which therefore would recur when the excitement was past, as in fact was the case in numberless instances.


It is to be observed, that the performance of these miracles attracted the attendance of many who came to be healed; and of many others from curiosity, so that crowds of persons assembled to witness the exhibition of this astonishing power. Publicity was apparently courted by the prince : public places were often chosen for the performance of his miracles; the means employed were simply those above described; there was no secret art, no effort at display, no mysticism, no particular manipulations; every thing wore the appearance of the genuine simplicity of one who believed himself gifted of God to heal the sick all of which shews a most intimate acquaintance with human nature, and consequent power to avail himself of those physical laws, the influence of which he had ascertained to be so predominant as very generally to produce, and almost to ensure, such surprising results. So much warmth, and zeal, and energy, and holy confidence, did the prince appear to throw into his proceeding, that the general enthusiasm augmented at every word, and that the assembled multitudes united most earnestly their own prayers, and wishes, and hopes, for the recovery of the sick, to the petitions of the priest. The prince did not confine his cures to the limits of his own church, but extended them even to Protestants; thus shewing that his primary design was not simply to attest the truth, and to shew the advantage of a belief in the exclusive tenets of the Roman-Catholic church.

The class of discases which

Prince Hohenlohe undertook to cure, were generally those dependent on some loss of energy of the nervous and muscular systems; such as partial deafness, blindness, paralysis, feebleness of the limbs, remaining after an attack of gout, &c. &c. Occasionally the sphere of these curative essays was extended to apparently organic affections: but the experiment was never made upon a deaf and dumb patient; upon a case of blindness produced by the disorganisation of the eye; upon spinal deformity which had resulted from the destruction of the bodies of the vertebræ; upon the loss of a limb, or a disorganised joint; nor, finally, in acute diseases. In fact, his department was limited to one class of chronic disease, and that class mainly dependent for its characteristic intensity, upon a peculiar laxity of the nervous system. This is a very important fact, inasmuch as it prepares us for considering the effects produced upon patients generally; and afterwards for estimating the influence of mind upon the bodily functions and structure, in the cure of diseases.

The impression produced by this process varied in different individuals, according to their several states of health, and peculiarity of temperament. Many of them declared that they felt a peculiar glow over their whole body during the prayer; others were affected by singing in the ears; some lost the use of their senses entirely; many became cold, and lost all feeling; and the greater number experienced palpitation of the heart. One paralytic, who was submitted to experiment, on two days following, suffered so much from much from painful emotion, that nothing could induce him to submit to a third attempt, although he had repeatedly and most courageously borne the application of the redhot irons. Almost all agreed in saying that they thought their suf

ferings lessened, if not relieved, during the prayer and benediction, so that generally they left the presence of the prince with emotions of deep gratitude.

Since every day augmented the number of the patients, and as the interference of the prince was claimed every instant, so as not to leave him a moment of repose, more especially as it became necessary to provide for the relief of patients in foreign countries, he determined upon a special hour, at which he would intercede for those who lived at a great distance from him, and those in a particular district were directed to unite with him in prayer. “At such an hour," said he, in writing to these individuals, "after confessing your sins, and receiving the Holy Communion, unite your prayers with mine, in the name of Jesus Christ, and with unshaken confidence in the infinite compassion and Almighty power of our adorable Redeemer; raise your souls with full devotedness of heart, to the possession of the firmest hope, and of the most entire faith; become good Christians by full reliance upon the Saviour, by profound love to God, by genuine repentance, and by an unalterable resolution to become daily better, and to proceed in a course of good works, acceptable to God, and approved by Him.” Many of these patients were wrought up to the highest pitch of expectation before the appointed hour: the nearer it approached, the more they experienced the enthusiasm of devotional feeling; the liveliest emotions were kindled; in some instances they actually felt, and in others thought they felt, their pains diminish, and gradually disappear.

These facts, which rest upon unquestionable evidence, assimilate the miraculous cures of the prince with those effected by animal magnetism, metallic tractors, charms, relics, the Sibylline oracles,

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