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exhibitions, and I puzzled myself not a little to account for them. When young, one is so apt to imagine oneself supernaturally endowed; and experiments such as I performed were enough to develop a tendency of this kind. But, whilst carrying out the demonstrations, I set myself the task of arriving at a practical explanation of them. Eventually I convinced myself that, instead of there being anything of an occult character about my experiments, they were one and all accountable on a purely natural basis.
Further on in this article I shall explain my theories; but I must first give instances of the practice of thought-reading and the curious features they, in some cases, exhibit.
I shall never forget how the idle many and, not infrequently, the learned few imbued with abnormal fancies sought to invest what I did with an aspect of supernaturalism. Some even went so far as to say that I did not myself understand how the various feats were accomplished. Others, thorough-going spiritualists, waxed wroth with me because I would not acknowledge the influence of 'spirit power' in connection with my work.
By running counter to the former my number of friends in this world has been considerably lessened; whilst, if I am to believe the latter, anything but a cordial reception awaits me when I am transferred to another sphere.
The following is a striking instance of how people with an undercurrent of supernaturalism running through them may act in antagonism to me.
At a séance held in the Marlborough Rooms, London, close upon five years ago, under the presidency of Dr. (now Sir) J. Crichton Browne, at which Professor Ray Lankester, Professor Croom-Robertson, and other eminent scientists were present, when I was explaining the modus operandi of thought-reading, Monsignor Capel took part in one of the practical illustrations I introduced. It was a very simple test, consisting only of finding a hidden toy; yet I found it impossible of accomplishment. My subject,' instead of aiding me with his concentration of thought in the direction of the hidden object, was all the time (unconsciously I believe) resisting my progress. I complained of this, and said that I never professed to read a man's thoughts against his will; and that under such circumstances success was not possible.
'Exactly so,' replied the monsignor with charming frankness; let us, therefore, reverse the process.'
As he said this I felt him breathe on my forehead, above my blindfold. We then resumed connection with the hands, and in another moment I found myself flying across the room. In my experiments I always take the lead; but in this case my subject' took it.
I found the object almost immediately; and as I withdrew it
from its hiding-place the monsignor said, in quiet triumph, ‘I thought my process was better than yours.'
• How so?
Why, I believe in the process known as willing; and I have no belief in your theory that thoughts are conveyed through the action of the physical system. So when you had failed in your attempt upon your own plan, I bethought myself of willing you to go to the object; and' (this with a gentle reproving smile) 'you see you went there direct.'
'Well, what does that prove?'
It proves that my will is greater than yours.'
'Possibly, but in the first place you exercise your will against the experiment in such a manner that that became the dominant idea in your mind, and not the object thought of. It is only when the mind is so concentrated upon a given object, or action, as to leave no room for the consideration of any other idea that I can have any chance of success. Under such intensity of concentration the physical system acts with the mind and so gives me the impressions sought after. But if you deliberately set yourself to will one to stand still, I naturally stand still; or if you wish me to go to a part of the room opposite to where the hidden object is, there I go, because those wishes are at the time dominant in your mind and they form your actual thoughts; and I am quite as successful a thoughtreader in taking such a course as if I had found the object, provided you had elected to have allowed that to have been your dominant thought. No man, you must admit, can have two dominant ideas in his mind at one time. With regard to the second instance, I felt that you were so intent upon "willing" me to go to the spot that, in the very intensity of desire, you unconsciously dragged me the whole of the way. I did nothing but remain quite passive, until I came to the table where the toy was, and common sense told me to lift up the tambourine and take it out.
'No, Monsignor,' I added in conclusion, willing is neither more nor less than either "dragging" or "pushing," the position of the "willer" so called determining which of the two it shall be.'
At one time it was thought to be impossible to find an object outside of the room in which the experiment might be performed. It was not long, however, before I demonstrated the falsity of this contention. The first occasion was at Government House, Ottawa, where I had been dining with the Marquis of Lorne (then GovernorGeneral of Canada). The test originated with his Excellency, who took a very keen interest in the subject of thought-reading, and it consisted of finding an object outside of the drawing-room in which we were when the experiment was proposed. I was only blindfolded, and taking my subject by the hand I made a sudden dash out of the room. Some doors had to be unbolted to allow of my passage: this
I did, and eventually I found myself in the yard. Unbolting one more door I entered an out-building-it was a stable I discovered afterwards and reaching out my hand in the perfect darkness which prevailed I encountered something alive.
"This is the thing! 'I said in some consternation.
was the reply; and, on pulling off the handkerchief which bound my eyes, I found that I had been laying hold of a young moose-deer, a pet of H.R.H. the Princess Louise's.
I afterwards performed a somewhat similar experiment with the Crown Prince of Austria at the Hofburg in Vienna. Only this time the animal thought of was an immense black dog. It was a strange sight to see the Crown Princess and the ladies of the court tucking up their trains and following His Imperial Highness and myself in our mad chase along the highways and byeways of the castle; for, in the first place, H.I.H. did not know where the dog was; in the second place he, in the search for it, lost his bearings, and he certainly went to parts of the castle where neither he nor any Hapsburg had ever been before. Wherever his thoughts went there did I at once proceed, and when he mentally paused in his perplexity I did nothing but stand still. But immediately the Prince got on the right track of the dog I did not hesitate a moment in my course, but proceeded to where he lay panting in his wealth of long shaggy hair, after evidently having partaken of a late and heavy dinner.
Since then I have frequently demonstrated my ability to find objects-even the smallest pins-hid in the open streets. Two years ago last summer I gave an open-air test of this kind in the heart of London itself. A pin was hid by that classical scholar, the Rev. Dr. Holden in Trafalgar Square; and the Spanish Minister, Sir Charles Tupper, and Professor Romanes, F.R.S., were amongst those who acted on the committee. I speedily found the pin, although I experienced some difficulty in getting through the crowd which had assembled outside. The starting-place was an upstairs room in the Charing Cross Hotel.
Perhaps, however, one of the most interesting of these out-door experiments I ever performed took place in Berlin twelve months ago last Easter. Having purchased an Easter-egg and put into it a quantity of gold, the egg was given to Mr. Casson, the American Minister, to hide anywhere within a radius of a kilometre of the Hôtel de Rome, which was the starting-point. Accompanied by Count Moltke, His Excellency Dr. Lucius, and Prince Ratibon, as a committee of inspection, Mr. Casson took away the egg and hid it, whilst I remained with the balance of the committee in the hotel. Instead of taking Mr. Casson by the hand, as I had done in other cases, I caused him to be connected with me by a piece of thin wire. One end of the wire was twisted round my right wrist and the other
end round his left; the coil itself remained slack. Thus connected we started on our errand of search. From time to time the wire was drawn taut and it cut into our wrists with the force I exercised in pulling my subject along; but, as far as possible, I avoided actually touching his hand with my own. After leaving the Unter den Linden we turned into a narrow street, and then into the Emperor Wilhelm's stables. I went up to a corn-box, and found it locked. For a moment I took Mr. Casson's hand in mine in order to increase the impression. This done, I moved towards Prince Ratibon, and putting my hand in his pocket I fetched out the key of the box, which I at once opened, and inside, among the corn, I discovered the hidden egg. The egg and its contents were afterwards presented to the Crown Princess of Germany as an Easter gift for the Kindergarten, in which Her Imperial Highness takes so deep an interest.
It is not, of course, always such straight sailing as this. Sometimes the subject unconsciouly, and at other times purposely, deceives you. There are many people in the world who, whilst ethically honest almost to an extreme, are physiologically dishonest without scruple. With these people but very little can be done in the matter of thought-reading, the success of which depends as much upon their honesty of purpose as it does upon their concentration. Such people will think it a smart thing to do' a thought-reader; and, whilst outwardly promising to obey all the conditions, will not hesitate to do their best to inwardly exert themselves to thwart the operator,' counting such action as perfectly legitimate and proper.
A notable instance of this kind occurred with the renowned General Ignatieff, whom I had the honour of meeting one night at supper at the palace of Count Paul Schouvaloff, in St. Petersburg. The author of the San Stefano treaty and a well-known officer of the court had elected, for the purposes of the experiment, to imagine themselves a pair of bandits. The former was to enact the rôle of the robber, whilst the latter was to do the murdering. Whilst I was out of the room it was agreed that these gentlemen should select from out of the company some person who should do duty for a Queen's messenger, whom they in imagination wished to waylay and rob of his despatches. This having been duly carried out, I returned to the room, and taking the officer by the hand I at once indicated the person who had been selected as the victim, and without any difficulty I re-enacted the mock tragedy in every detail, even to wiping the imaginary blood-stains from off the knife used upon the carpet, as had been done in the first instance.
Then came the turn of General Ignatieff, who had taken some papers from the victim and had hidden them.
With him I experienced a difficulty at the outset he is very stout and has a natural disinclination to move fast, it was therefore
quite an effort to get him along at all. At last I mounted a chair, for the purpose of exploring a vase on the mantel-shelf to which his thoughts had been going. Finding it empty, I dismounted, and turning to the gallant general I begged of him to concentrate his whole thoughts upon the place where the hidden despatches really were. He actually did so; and, before he had time to alter his mind, I had opened the door of a closet at the end of the room and there in a corner lay the papers.
I was much exhausted at the close of my search, and I think I was vexed; for I felt that my subject had almost purposely led me astray. I therefore asked him why he had thought of the vase when the papers were not in it.
"I think of it?' he replied, with that look of bland astonishment which he knows so well how to assume. It was never for a moment in my thoughts.'
Impossible? C'est juste, monsieur !' and he bowed his grandest. 'Really, how can you say so?' broke in a young lady on our right. You know very well that you did at first think of putting the papers in the vase, but that, as you said at the time, you thought they would be too easily found, and so you put them over there' (indicating the closet).
General Ignatieff is a marvellous man; for he was not in the least abashed at this. He simply smiled his blandest.
'What a memory you have, ma chère comtesse! Ma vie! what a memory!' and he let fall a little laugh as he said this, shaking his forefinger the while in playful reproof.
In my experiment with Mr. Gladstone, in the smoking-room in the House of Commons, on the 16th of June, 1884, a very remarkable thing occurred.
It will be remembered that the then Premier undertook to think of three figures, and that I successfully interpreted his thoughts. Before, however, this result was arrived at the following hitch took place. I had without difficulty told the first two figures, viz. 3 and 6, when I found that Mr. Gladstone's mind was wavering with regard to the remaining figure; and I had to beg of him to more firmly concentrate his whole thoughts upon it. This he promised to do, and I therefore, without hesitation, declared the third figure to be 6 -making a total of 366-which Mr. Gladstone declared was the correct number.
I then asked him why he had hesitated about the third figure, and why he had at first thought of 5, and had afterwards altered his mind to 6.
The premier seemed much surprised at the question, and he wound up by asking me how I knew he had done so.
I reminded him that he overlooked the fact of my being a thought