by Professor Marmaduke Herringbone-Stove

There has been much interest recently in these fair shores on the topic of the diabolical and malevolent practice of mesmerism.

I hear you gasp at my mention of the word, but as an expert I hold no fear of these devious practices. I have spent many years studying this foul perversion of natural forces. I understand how it operates, how it can control the mind of a more fragile being, how it can destroy a man. But I have no wish now to expand on this topic. I have written elsewhere on it and frequently give speeches and lectures.

No, today I wish to keep you abreast of events on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, namely in America. It has come to my attention that there has been a  legal trial most recently near the famed city of Salem. A trial that was called by the newspapers the “Second Salem Witch Trials” although it features no witch. Indeed the indicted, one Daniel H Spofford, was accused of none other than mesmerism!

SpoffordDaniel H Spofford,  Alleged Mesmerist

Let me acquaint you of the facts as they appear to me. This seems a tragic tale indeed, a “fall from grace” if you will. For Mr Spofford was very much engaged with the brilliant if theoretically misguided Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science movement. Clearly, there he was exposed to the powers and practice that Mrs Eddy and others have called “animal magnetism”. But these powers have a dark side too. A power that Mrs Eddy has written about in a chapter of her famed “Science and Health” book. That she has called Malignant Animal Magnetism, or more simply, mindcrime.

Daniel H Spofford, for all his years of service to Mrs Eddy, must have been seduced by these dark powers. It was said in court that he

“is a mesmerist, and practices the art of mesmermism, and by his said art and the power of his mind influences and controls the minds and bodies of other persons, and uses his said power and art for the purposes of injuring the persons and property and social relations of others and does by said means so injure them”

In particular, the unfortunate Lucretia Brown was a target of his terrible powers, being made invalided by this devious soul Spofford. Yes, it is true she had received the injury decades before and yes, Spofford had fallen out with Mrs Eddy. It is also alleged that Mrs Eddy’s lawyers assisted in drawing up the complaint, but surely this is merely the act of a benevolent friend.

In any account, the law proved once again what an ass it can be. The case was thrown out by the Judge, who foolishly suggested the claim was vague, that no law had been broken and that the law would not be able to stop Mr Spofford if he did have the powers that Mrs Brown suggested he had. I say the law is an ass, but maybe there is another, more sinister reason why the case was rejected. My conjecture is this, Mr Spofford used his powers as a mesmerist…to mesmerise the judge!

Now surely we can see how powerful these mesmerists are and surely all good men and women should arm themselves against such mental meddling. The truth should be told, explained, and given to all mankind, that they may keep themselves safe

Professor Herringbone-Stove, Greater Manchester

(Professor Herringbone-Stove is available to deliver lectures to meetings attended by appropriate gentlefolk, birthdays for over 10s and weddings where liqour is not served.)

Please Note: The views expressed by contributors to The Benthic Times may not reflect the views of the editors or owners. Students of legal history are earnestly encouraged to study this document for an alternative perspective.

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