Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/32

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

notic state, followed the Swedish nightingale's songs in different languages both instantaneously and correctly; and when, in order to test her powers, Mademoiselle Lind extemporized a long and elaborate chromatic exercise, she imitated this with no less precision, though unable in her waking state even to attempt anything of the sort. Now, I wish you to compare this case with another, which was reported about the same time upon what seemed equally unexceptionable testimony. When Miss Martineau first avowed her conversion to mesmerism, the extraordinary performances of her servant J—— were much talked of; and, among other marvels, it was asserted that she could converse, when in her mesmeric state, in languages she had never learned, and of which she knew nothing when awake—the particular fact being explicitly stated that Lord Morpeth had tested this power and had found it real. Now, you will readily perceive that, supposing the testimony in these two cases to have been exactly the same, its probative force would have been very different. For the first of them, though unprecedented, presented no scientific improbability to those who were prepared, by their careful study of the phenomena of hypnotism, to believe that the power of imitative vocalization, like any other, might be intensified by the concentration of the "subject's" whole attention upon the performance. But it seemed inconceivable that an uneducated servant-girl could understand what was said to her in a language she had never learned; still more, that she should be able to reply in the same language. And the only possible explanation of the fact, if fact it was, short of a miracle, may have lain either in her having learned the language long before and subsequently forgotten it, or in her being able by "thought-reading" (which is maintained by some, even at the present time, to be one of the attributes of the mesmeric state) to divine and express the answer expected by Lord Morpeth. But the marvel was entirely dissipated by the inquiries of Dr. Noble, who, being very desirous of getting at the exact truth, first applied for information to a near relative of Miss Martineau, and was told by him that the report was not quite accurate; for, on Lord Morpeth putting a question to J—— in a foreign language, J—— had replied appropriately in her own vernacular. Her comprehension of Lord Morpeth's question, however, appeared in itself sufciently strange to be suggestive of some fallacy; and having an opportunity not long afterward of asking Lord Morpeth himself what was the real state of the case. Dr. Noble learned from him that when he put a question to J—— in a foreign language she imitated his speech after a fashion by an unmeaning articulation of sound.

On the lesson which this case affords as to the credibility of testimony in regard to what are called the "higher phenomena" of mesmerism, I shall enlarge in my succeeding lecture, and at present I shall only remark that it was shown by careful comparison between the phenomena displayed by the same individuals, when "mesmerized"