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infinitely, and passing successively into different boxes, at the will of one of those individuals 
now called prestidigitators. It was in this way, doubtless, that Ampère bad been led to admit that, 
under certain conditions of nervous excitement, a man might be able to see even at great distances 
without the aid of his eyes; that he might, with his knee, see stars; follow the movements of actors 
on a stage with his back turned, and read a note with his elbow. Is it not possible that we, who 
even now have no faith in such marvels; we, who formerly opposed the convictions of our friend with 
all kinds of arguments, even resorting to raillery, might have carried this opposition too far on 
other points of animal magnetism? Is an extravagant skepticism more philosophical than an unlimited 
credulity? Have we any right, for example, to sweepingly affirm that no man ever has or ever will be 
able to read, with his eyes, in the profound darkness which reigns under a depth of twenty-nine 
meters of earth and rocks –I mean at the bottom of the vaults of the Paris observatory? Has it 
been well established that opaque bodies –that is, those impermeable to light– allow nothing to 
pass through them which could supply and produce vision?  
Do systematical ideas authorize us to disdain any reference to experiment, the only competent judge 
in such matters? I present all these doubts as a kind of reparation and expiation offered to the 
manes of Ampère. 
Pardon this digression, gentlemen, rendered necessary by circumstances. Your indulgence will be the 
more precious to me for having possibly – nay, I will say more, probably – displeased both the 
advocates and antagonists of magnetism. The latter will blame the extent of my concessions; the 
former, on the contrary, find me too skeptical. But, such reproaches would not be very alarming; for 
has magnetism, unless in some few isolated points, any real foundation? All that its advocates can 
desire, all they can rightfully claim at present, are unprejudiced judges, who will refuse neither 
to see nor to hear. 
Is it necessary, on the other hand, to side with those who, fanatically devoted to the experimental 
method, proceed exclusively by means of direct corollaries, and who regard an idea unworthy of being 
followed up which does not flow logically from a previous idea? I will also remark that to deny, 
a priori, belongs to theory; that negative theories are even more to be condemned, as they 
provoke no trial, no attempt, and therefore reduce, the mind to a state of quietude and somnolence 
from which science would have much to suffer. 
I cannot, besides, admit that there would be less pride in saying, not only to the sea but to all 
nature, "thou shalt go no farther." 


The traits of character which, in the course of this sketch, are found scattered here and there 
through the scientific analyses, would amply suffice in the eulogies of a large number of the 
academicians. But this would not answer in Ampère’s case. From an early period a 
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