Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/227

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215
THE REVIVAL OF WITCHCRAFT.

surrounding her was also similarly charged with her sensibility; she herself becoming anaesthetic. When pinches were made in the air at given distances, which were supposed to represent points of contact and lines of cleavage of the atmospheric planes, such pinches at these given points were always felt by her and gave what is above described as "evident pain." I was shown drawings of these planes. When the water was removed to a distance and the glass was stroked or imaginary pinches made in the air just above the water, or the water itself was touched, she gave similar manifestations. This water, we were told, was charged with her vitality, and terrible consequences might ensue if the water were maltreated, either then or subsequently. Fantastic stories are related by Colonel de Rochas of the terrible effects following from the throwing away of this water and from people stepping on it, or from watering the flowers with it. In one case, where some one incautiously drank the water, the patient fell into a swoon which lasted for a fortnight. The only correct proceeding was to allow the subject herself to drink the water at the close of the séance, and thus enable her to protect herself from the sad effects which might follow any careless treatment of it. She herself was supposed to be insensitive while under operation, and her sensibilities were externalized and communicated to others either by "contact" directly to the operator, or in another hypnotized patient who was placed in contact with her, or, as the reporter solemnly describes, "across space." Whenever her magnetizer was touched she felt it in the same place.

Now, Madame Vix furnishes séances for a fixed consideration. On page 28 of his book on the profound stages of hypnosis. Colonel de Rochas refers to her as being a subject "well known in Paris," "very distinctly polarized," and "who passes with extreme regularity" through all the phases described at length in his first chapter, and, besides, "through some phases of an indeterminate character up to the point of syncope." She presented indeed, "when the left hand was placed on her head instead of the right, general paralysis so closely resembling death in appearance," that he did not dare to continue his experiments. She did the wax-image business, the state of sympathy by contact, and the rest, with such perfection before me under the manipulations of Colonel de Rochas at the Charité and at the Polytechnique School, that I asked her to favor me with some professional sittings, which she readily consented to do. She had an extensive repertoire, and on three separate occasions she went through her performances with great precision and completeness in the presence of a variety of witnesses, some of whose names I have already cited. I determined, however, to do everything en faux. On the first occasion I solemnly went through all the series of passes and