The Conjuror’s Magazine
Vol 1 No 2 (September 1791) p 42
I have included the paragraph immediately preceding the announcement of Gilbert’s forthcoming ‘General Essay on Magic’ because it bears all the hallmarks of his style: italics galore - phrases such as “the fountain and reservoir of all science” – the raging against “mere physics”.
From CORRESPONDENTS &c.
We trust, with confidence, that this work will rise to a degree of eminence, not generally augured by those, who viewed its modest commencement. To bring MIND within the circle of Science—to rescue those, who have been excluded the fountain and reservoir of all science, from drinking of his own streams, and who have expelled from even a seat among them, him, who ought to have filled their throne from the consequences of their own delirium of the mere physics—will be the object and shall be the attainment of the select part of this Publication. For the rest—we shall be happy to amuse—and in all—to instruct and animate.
In our next Number, we shall present the Public with a general essay on Magic; from the Correspondent who uses the signature of B.
Vol 1 No 3, (October 1791) pp.77-80
This and The Augur articles show William Gilbert's views of causality. “Whatever human powers can do in body, man can cause to be done by his spirit; nay, nothing can be done without this cause, as body is efficient through spirit only.”
THERE are certain original
principles, or laws of existence, on which every being and creature must
be formed: the being of a star is on the same principle as the being of a
cat. The macrocosm, or great world, corresponds, nerve to nerve, and joint to
joint, with the microcosm or little world. There cannot be a more convincing
instance of the existence of one and the same principle with equal strength in
the smallest and greatest subjects than the version of the magnet to that pole
for which it is touched. The poles of the world exist in a slip of iron or
steel: the heavenly bodies exist in man: Of this last the astrologer has the
same apodictical conviction, which every sailor has of the first: he steers by
it, and arrives at his port. This is answer enough for all the impudent trash
and lies of the Hemi-cyclopedias on the present subject, for this wise century
past. “Seeking to be wise, they became fools.”
A man, who studies himself in the stars, has the same advantage as in a looking glass. He has another: objects are magnified, and the lines consequently traced with greater ease and certainty: they also embrace other objects, consequently make him social to the utmost limits of his capacity; that is, he perceives the bearings and effects of himself and his actions, in a clearer medium than otherwise he could---sees and feels the consequences of a good or bad action with more decision and force than he could otherwise, and so learns to choose the good and refuse the bad.
Let it be remembered, that as the heavens are the most extensive prospect given to the human eye, and correspondently the most ample field for contemplation, they are necessarily the basis of every science, and in particular,
No Divination is perfect without Astrology.
Astrology must enter into it’s principles, as the elements into bodies. But astrology has of late been considered merely as giving an intimation of future events; so, that her grand office of gatekeeper or usher to magic, (viz. the action of the mind, as walking, speaking, or embracing, is the action of the body) has been forgotten.
Every person, and much more every philosopher, knows, that every bodily or visible action commences invisibly or in mind. The arm which gives a blow, or the mouth which gives a kiss, are moved through the means of blood, nerves, muscles, &c. these are them selves moved by the thoughts or intentions, and these again by some still remoter cause, the remotest being GOD, of whom the Psalmist philosophically says (for true philosophy is one with true piety) “darkness and clouds are round about him:” and Solomon repeats the same, “the Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.”
Religion teaches the filial cultivation or worship of this remotest cause of human action, first practically; secondly, doctrinally; the first, respecting the heart or will of man, which ever and always regulates his practice; the second, his head or understanding, whose office it is to explain the manner, and assign the reasons of his practice.
Now, Magic, subordinately to Religion, teaches the social cultivation of those principles or beings, which are the medium of communication between God and man, considering the last as a genus, or between the purest spirit and the inertest matter, considering man individually.
Now, there arises another distinction, spiritual magic and natural magic. To explain this I must call to the reader’s recollection (for I shall not say inform) that as there is no man without life or spirit as well as body, (every instance of putrefaction proving, that the last cannot exist without the first) so it is, the principle being exactly the same, equally a fact, and equally the subject of experience, that no part of a man, internal or external, can exist without its own proper spirit. Thus the blood informed by spirit, circulates and is warm; nay, so great, so independent is this spirit, that polar cold cannot abate, nor tropical suns increase its determinate warmth. But separate the body or external appearance of blood from its spirit, either by extravasation or disease, and corruption, palsy, and death, ensue. Sinews, nerves, bones, perish, on a separation from their own spirit, though the man in general lives. Embalming and preservation of bodies is effected by the infusion of external spirits congenial to the original and internal spirit.
Now then, Spiritual Magic practical operates on the Spirit of man; and on the spirit of his component parts : the same speculative, teaches how to operate thus. Natural Magic practical operates on the Matter of man, either wholly or partially : the same speculative, teaches how to do this, and good Magic how to do these beneficially.
But there is another subdivision of Natural Magic. It must be remembered, that as man is three-fold, so are his members; that is, there is a spiritual, innermost or remotest, a natural or external, and a medium between these two extents, viz. an internal. And this triplicity or trinity is essential to existence, for there can be nothing without a beginning, a middle, and an end, whether a being of space or a being of time. Mr. Swedenborg, before me, has very elaborately explained this in his “Treatise of the Holy Scripture.”
This subdivision has produced its correspondent in the faculty of physic. The chymist applies himself and his art to the internal or medium; the druggist and apothecary to the matter or external only, so far forth as he can: for after all his efforts to avoid chemistry, he must trust his patient to the chymical powers of a grain of opium, or calomel, not to the mechanic ones; of a wheel and a lever : the chymist, the harnessed academician, after strutting all his life in the chains of despotic experiment, fearing or abusing the activity of metaphysics, and spurning the superstitions of magic, finds, after years of precise abstraction and attempted reduction to terra damnata in his crucibles, a spirit exhale at last: rather indeed, than allow the possibility of understanding that, which they do not chuse to try to understand, the physicians of the day apply to diseases beyond their art, a name by which they mean to express the boundary of all art, nervous; but which without regarding their vapouring at all who attempt to pass, it is the direction and will be the effect of this one essay to throw down, trample on and annihilate.
It is curious to observe, how a word experimentally used by their great predecessors, to express the perfection of manly strength, has been insensibly converted by the dispirited modern physicians of to day, on the same ground of experience to express every weakness of mind and body. The ancients felt the seat of their strength to be in mind; they invigorated as they spiritualised; they expressed their idea of strength by the seat of the most subtle spirits, the nerves; they enlarged, they grew firm as they approach divinity. I will not trace the contrast. I will say though, that I mean the parallel of the modern physician’s science to apply to the modern clergyman’s religion; not excepting the best man and first preacher in this class.
I now proceed to another class or scale, not consisting of many, but the few of as much importance as all the rest put together. I speak exactly true, anatomically correct.
The class I am now with, Magicians, do not in religion as chymists in spirituals, speculatively deny its possibility or sneer at its principles but rather like physicians or apothecaries, who do not profess chymistry, fully and sincerely acknowledge its existence, but try to practice without it as much as they can. But apothecaries cannot administer drugs which do not operate by a higher and chymical Power, so cannot the magician operate but through the superiour influences of religion, inspired from the Remotest GOD.
As a parallel to these, are those mystics, nay even receivers of Swedenborg, whose practice has been, hugging the ground like a worm, while their intellect has been basking in some of the brightest beams of divine splendors.
Thus have I brought this science from visionary to a foundation, and a foundation not less solid than the throne of GOD . I have quoted scriptures which, opposite to the vulgar sense of the learned, who attribute firmness to the footing shewn by the slender rays of their own understanding, and fluctuation to the region of clouds above them, rest implicitly on this region of clouds as containing the Throne of GOD: the place of David’s sheet-anchor was indeed covered with waters, but was protected from winds; it is within the veil, but is “both sure and stedfast”.
The putting the mind of man into motion by the deepest or most efficacious or most mental means, which the person can devise, is spiritual Magic Practical; the devising or knowledge of these means is spiritual Magic speculative or scientific.
As man embraces in his form (that
of God) the forms, and consequently the principles or spirits of all creation,
it follows that, when these springs are touched in him, they are touched in all
creation. Hence at his fall, at the moment that his mind ceased to be the
I Cor. iii. 21, 22, 23.