Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/221

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
209
THE REVIVAL OF WITCHCRAFT.

performances of other patients and trained subjects of Dr. Luys who have differing aptitudes and a various répertoire. The man was brought in from the waiting-room and put in an arm-chair; a finger held up before his eyes sufficed to plunge him into induced sleep. This was clearly not simulated, and in a highly trained subject is exceedingly common. The eyelids were then lifted, and a little performance was gone through, which is described in the programme set out in Dr. Luys's Leçons Cliniques as the prise du regard. A finger is held before him; he gazes at it, sits bolt upright, and follows it as though fascinated around the room. This is, of course, a very ordinary performance, and is only, so to speak, the lever de rideau. He is taken back to his chair, and then begins the second performance. He is shown a magnetic bar, and here the true stage play begins, as it does in so many of these mesmeric performances, with the utterly irrelevant introduction of the apparatus of magnetism. He sees now from one pole of the magnet the "odic" effluvia, the blue flames, which are familiar to the readers of Reichenbach. He is delighted with them; he caresses the bar like a child with a toy; he follows it all over the place, and when the opposite pole of the magnet is presented to him, he is struck with horror at the red flames which issue from it, and shows every sign of fear and disgust. There are infinite variations of this marvel. Thus, a photograph of the poles of a magnet affects him in a similar way, no matter how old the photograph. On the face of Dr. Luys he sees red flames proceeding from the eyes and nostrils on one side of the face and blue flames on the other, which is supposed to coincide with the duality of the nerve-centers of the brain and the opposite polarity of the two sides of the body—puerile deductions which bear upon their face ignorant credulity, but which are supposed to derive evidential strength from these heightenings of the visual perception of this individual and the other performers of the same school. For these subjects quickly learn how to pretend to see the same thing; and Colonel de Rochas d'Aiglun, the administrateur of the Polytechnic School in Paris, whom Dr. Luys was good enough to introduce to me, has subjects who have made for him also a considerable series of drawings showing these flames playing about magnets and parts of magnets, surrounding crystals, and irradiating the features of himself and others. One patient has done me the honor of making my portrait with all its magnetic accompaniments. To the heightened visual perception of these ladies and gentlemen it seems that from one side of my face issues a sheet of lambent blue flame, and my eyes dart rays of blue fire; the other side is equally luminous with red flame, while down the middle of my face is a bright streak of yellow. Mervel drew this interesting picture, and the others confirmed it; and as this was done