“To appreciate the timidity, prejudice, and superficiality which have marked the treatment of psychological subjects in the past, we propose to review a book which lies before us. It is the Histoire du Merveilleux dans les Temps Modernes. The work is published by its author, the learned Dr. Figuier, and teems with quotations from the most conspicuous authorities in physiology, psychology, and medicine. Dr. Calmeil, the well-known director-in-chief of Clarenton, the famous lunatic asylum of France, is the robust Atlas on whose mighty shoulders rests this world of erudition.
As the ripe fruit of the thought of 1860 it must forever keep a place among the most curious of works of art. Moved by the restless demon of science, determined to kill superstition – and, as a consequence, spiritism – at one blow, the author affords us a summary view of the most remarkable instances of mediumistic phenomena during the last two centuries.
The discussion embraces the prophets of Cevennes, the Camisards, the Jansenists, the Abbe Paris, and other historical epidemics, which, as they have been described during the last twenty years by nearly every writer upon the modern phenomena, we will mention as briefly as possible.
It is not facts that we desire to bring again under discussion, but merely the way in which such facts were regarded and treated by those who, as physicians and recognized authorities, had the greater responsibility in such questions.
If this prejudiced author is introduced to our readers at this time, it is only because his work enables us to show what occult facts and manifestations may expect from orthodox science. When the most world-renowned psychological epidemics are so treated, what will induce a materialist to seriously study other phenomena as well as authenticated and as interesting, but still less popular?
Let it be remembered that the reports made by various committees to their respective academies at that time, as well as the records of the judicial tribunals, are still in existence, and may be consulted for purpose of verification.
It is from such unimpeachable sources that Dr. Figuier compiled his extraordinary work. We must give, at least, in substance, the unparalleled arguments with which the author seeks to demolish every form of super-naturalism, together with the commentaries of the demonological des Mousseaux, who, in one of his works, pounces upon his skeptical victim like a tiger upon his prey.”
H. P. Blavatsky