Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/225

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213
THE REVIVAL OF WITCHCRAFT.

the patients of Dr. Luys tallies with the negative results of Peterson and Kennelly, but it is perhaps too much to hope that it will put an end to the habitual exploitation of magnetic superstitions in this connection.

I come now to another series of phenomena which various eminent journalists have noted as illustrations of what the Times correspondent described as a perfectly genuine exhibition, and one which, as he said, in concluding his description of it, "proved that suggestions and impressions can be conveyed from one person to another by mere contact, and even across an intervening space." As he professes to be an impartial and guarded observer, I will quote his report, which, so far as some obvious occurrences are concerned, describes accurately what appears to go on in the extravagant folly which they have described so seriously, known as "l’envoûtement." This is a title taken from the practices of the middle ages, when the magicians of France and Italy exercised (as the magicians of the far East do now) their powers of sorcery upon a wax image, which, being duly endowed with mystical relationship to a human subject, was pinched, tortured, wasted, or destroyed, with corresponding results to the unhappy individual in whose effigy it was made. Here is the modern counterpart in the new mesmerism of which the modern historian gives the explanation which I have just quoted:

There remains, however, one set of recent experiments, which, from their novel and startling character, deserve special attention. I refer to the transference of sensibility from a hypnotic subject to inanimate objects. I have been fortunate enough to witness some of these experiments, and will describe what I saw. They were not carried out by Dr. Luys, but by an amateur who attends his clinique. This gentleman had a roughly constructed figure, about a foot high, resembling the human form, and made of gutta percha or some such material, and he experimented with it on a hysterical young woman, one of the hospital patients, and an extremely sensitive subject. She was placed in an arm-chair and hypnotized, and he seated himself immediately opposite in close contact with her, their legs touching, and her hands upon his knees. After some preliminary business of stroking her arms and so forth, he produced the figure and held it up in front of her, presumably to be charged with her magnetism, for these experiments rest on the magnetic theory. Then he placed it out of her sight and pinched it. Sometimes she appeared to feel it and sometimes she did not, but he was all the time in actual contact with her. Then he held it where she could see it, and this time she obviously suffered acutely whenever he touched the figure and in the place where he touched it, although she did not look at it or seem to observe it. Especially when he touched the sole of the foot, it evidently tickled her beyond endurance. Then the figure was placed aside on a table out of the sight both of the girl and of the operator, while another put one hand on the operator's back and the other on the image. I was in such a position as to see them all, and whenever the second gentleman touched the figure the girl felt it. Then she was told that she was to feel it just the same after being woke up, and an attempt was made to wake her, but she was by this time very profoundly affected, and the