Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/222

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

in the wards of a hospital and by a patient in a state of "lucid somnambulism" and of good faith, I suppose I ought to have assumed that "there was no room for fraud or imposture." I ventured, however, to think otherwise. I took with me on the third occasion a magnet lent me by Dr. Johnson, of London, which had been thoroughly demagnetized by being thrust into the fire, and a series of steel pins which had been variously magnetized in inverse senses, and I found that the heightened senses of Mervel were quite incapable of distinguishing between the inert magnet, the variously magnetized needles, and the true magnet. I even placed the needles and the magnet in the hands of Dr. Luys and asked him to determine what Mervel saw. He saw always, in reply to Dr. Luys's questions, the orthodox thing. I then gently suggested to Dr. Luys that he should try some test experiments and use an electro-magnet, in which he could at will put on and take off the current and try for himself whether the patient did or did not really perceive what he described. I ventured to repeat the same suggestion when Mervel was describing the colored lights he saw around the poles of a faradic machine. My suggestions, however, were not favorably received; and Dr. Luys observed that he must be allowed to make his experiments in his own way. At these sittings Dr. Sajous, Dr. Lutaud, M. Cremière, of St. Petersburg, and others, were present. To end this part of the matter, I should state that I took successively three other subjects of demonstration whom Dr. Luys has presented to his classes, and tested still more decisively their pretended powers of distinguishing emanations from the north and south poles of the magnet and seeing the colored flames of Reichenbach. These subjects were a person named Jeanne, an accomplished impostor, and the most distinguished and highly trained of M. Luys's subjects, whose portrait occurs repeatedly in the illustrations of his lectures, and who describes herself as his premier sujet; a person named Clarice, whose marvelous powers are also much described in the publications of Dr. Luys; and a patient now in the wards named Marguerite. I tested these subjects repeatedly in the presence sometimes of the gentlemen above named, sometimes of Dr. Olivier, of Dr. Meurice, and of others whom I need not at present name. The results were that Mervel, whether sent to sleep by Dr. Luys, or by myself, or by the wardsman, was never really asleep to the extent of not being able to gather verbal and visual suggestions as to his course of action, as to what he ought to do and what he ought to see, and that his hysterical or hypnotic slumber did not prevent him from simultaneously carrying on a course of elaborate imposture. When I rapidly displaced the magnetic photographs of Dr. Luys or my own, he blundered over them, but immediately he understood that he was blundering he corrected