Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/537

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
formed, by ordering him to do so when still somnambulistic. I asked him what he had been doing. he said he bad been crowing. I asked him why he crowed. He said he did not know, he crowed because he could not help it. I asked him what he had been thinking of, and his answer was, "Je pensais à mes poules" ("I was thinking of my hens").

This, however, appeared to be as far as we have yet got in this new excursion into psychical research of animals; it is not very instructive or edifying. So far as all these persons went they must be pronounced impudent impostors, and it is difficult to conceive how they can have succeeded in duping serious people, or how they can be permitted to have carried on the fraud for so many years. So also with the imaginary effects of the various medicinal substances in sealed tubes. I repeated this performance on every one of these five subjects of M. Luys, on whom he has for years been lecturing, whom he has photographed, and of whose good faith he gives so many assurances. We made notes (sometimes written by myself, sometimes by Dr. Sajous, sometimes by M. Cremiêre) of the results. The subjects were never once right, even by accident. When Mervel at the hospital supposed the tube to contain mercury although it really contained diabetic sugar, he suffered agonies of the kind which he supposed mercury to produce. He had gnawing pains; his limbs were being eaten away, and he was in dire agony from the worst effects which a prolonged mercurial course used often to produce, and of which the repute is still a tradition in the hospitals. Madame Vix, at my rooms, had another opinion of the effect of mercury, gathered apparently from its use in infantile ailments; for she was a mother. When she thought the tube contained mercury she began to suffer acute pains—"colique d'enfants," she said; and to stop the comedy I had to apply to her neck what was supposed to be a tube of cinnamon Avater, but which was really charged with bisulphide of mercury. This quickly calmed her pains, which were beginning to be indecorous. With Mervel at the hospital, when I had him to myself and hypnotized by the ward attendant, all the effects suj)posed to be due to valerian were produced with burned sugar. He was duly and quickly transformed into a cat, and the whole drama was enacted in the ward, but this time under the influence of a tube of sugar-water, with vivid feline effects. Strychnine, of which I was warned that the effects were most dangerous, for, as Dr. Luys observed to me, "You might kill a patient with it through incautiously applying the tube," I used repeatedly and most incautiously without producing any effects, for I was careful never to mention its name. I may emphasize that on this occasion it was not I who hypnotized Mervel, but a person who was well accustomed to do so.

Leaving now the detail of the various scenes of this tragi-