Publisher Information: Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1784.
[Franklin, Benjamin (1706-90); Antoine Lavoisier (1743-94), Jean-Sylvain Bailly (1736-93) et al.] Rapport des commissaires chargés par le Roi, de l’examen du magnétisme animal. 4to. 66pp. Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1784. 238 x 187 mm. 18th-century ownership signature of [Gabriel] Depéret de Maury, physician of Limoges. Bound with: Extrait des registres de la Société royale de médecine. Séance du 24 août 1784. 4pp. Paris: Ph.-D. Pierres, 1784. Together 2 works in 1. Recent full morocco tooled in gilt and blind in antique style. Tear in the Rapport’s title-leaf mended, light toning but very good.
First Quarto Edition; the official edition, printed at the French king’s private press in the Louvre. This copy bears the ownership signature of Gabriel Depéret de Maury, a Limoges physician who played a minor administrative role in the French revolutionary government; he also published a dissertation on opium.
In the spring of 1784 the French government, no longer able to ignore the challenges to established medicine and politics posed by Mesmer and his followers, appointed two separate commissions to investigate animal magnetism. The first commission, presided over by Benjamin Franklin (then the U.S. Ambassador to France), consisted of nine members, including chemist Antoine Lavoisier, astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly and Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, inventor of the guillotine. This commission decided to investigate animal magnetism as practiced by Mesmer’s disciple Charles d’Eslon, since d’Eslon, unlike Mesmer, welcomed an official inquiry. After observing d’Eslon at work and performing several tests on his clients, the Franklin commission concluded that mesmeric “fluid” did not exist, and that the convulsions and other effects produced by animal magnetism were merely the products of imagination and imitation. The commission’s report, edited by Bailly, unleashed a storm of controversy that raged for many years, with dozens of pamphlets and books published on both sides.
Bound with this copy is a four-page summary of the report of the second commission appointed to investigate animal magnetism. This commission, made up of five members of the Société Royale de Médecine, also condemned Mesmer and his practices. Crabtree Animal Magnetism, Early Hypnotism and Psychical Research: An Annotated Bibliography, 31. Darnton, Mesmerism, pp. 62-64. Duveen, Bibliography of the Works of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, 223. Norman M124. Tinterow, Foundations of Hypnosis, p. 578. Miquel-Dalton, Les médecins dans l’histoire de la Révolution (1902), p. 23.Book Id: 51394