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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 22, 1907, Image 32

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but next day they had so many wonders to tell that
everybody's curiosity was fired, and after that for
a fortnight the magician had prosperous times. I
was fourteen or fifteen years old?the age at which
a boy is willing to endure all things, suffer all things,
short of death by fire, if thereby he may be con
spicuous and show off before the public; and so,
when I saw the "subjects" perform their foolish
antics on the platform and make the people laugh
and shout and admire, I had a burning desire to be
a subject myself.
Every night, for three nights, I sat in the row of
candidates on the platform, and held the magic
disk in the palm of my hand, and gazed at it and
tried to get sleepy; but it was a failure; I remained
wide awake, and had to retire defeated, like the
majority. Also, I had to sit there and be gnawed
with envy of Hicks, our journeyman; 1 had to sit
there and see him scamper and jump when Sim
mons the enchanter exclaimed, "See the snake!
See the snake!" and hear him say, "My! how beau
tiful!" in response to the suggestion that he was
observing a splendid sunset; and so on?the whole
insane business. I couldn't laugh, I couldn't ap
plaud; it filled me with bitterness to have others
do it, and to have people make a hero of Hicks, and
crowd around him when the show was over, and ask
him for more and more particulars of the wonders
he had seen in his visions, and manifest in many
ways that they were proud to be acquainted with
him. Hicks?the idea! I couldn't stand it; I was
getting boiled to death in my own bile.
Succumbed to Temptation
/"VN the fourth night temptation came, and I was
not strong enough to resist. When I had gazed
at the disk awhile I pretended to be sleepy, and began
to nod. Straightway came the professor and made
passes over my head and down my body and legs
and arms, finishing each pass with a snap of his
fingers in the air, to discharge the surplus electricity;
then he began to "draw" me with the disk, holding
it in his fingers and telling me I could not take my
eyes off it, try as I might; so I rose slowly, bent
and gazing, and followed that disk all over the place.
Just as I had seen the others do. Then I was put
through the other paces. Upton suggestion 1 fled
from snakes; passed buckets at a fire; became ex
cited over hot steamboat races; made love to imag
inary girls and kissed them; fished from the platform
and landed mud cats that outweighed me?and so
on, all the customary marvels. But not in the cus
tomary way. I was cautious at first, and watchful,
being afraid the professor would discover that I was
an impostor and drive me from the platform in dis
grace; but as soon as I realized that I was not in
danger, I set myself the task of terminating Hicks's
usefulness as a subject, and of usurping his place.
It was a sufficiently easy task. Hicks was born
honest; I, without that incumbrance?so some
people said. Hicks saw what he saw, and reported
accordingly; I saw more than was visible, and
added to it such details as could help. Hicks had
no imagination; I had a double supply. He was
born calm; I was born excited. No vision could
start a rapture in him, and he was constipated as to
language, anyway; but if I saw a vision I emptied
the dictionary onto it, and lost the remnant ot my
mind into the bargain.
At thj end of my first half-hour Hicks was a thing
of the past, a fallen hero, a broken idol, and I knew
it and was glad, and said in my heart, Success to
crime! Hicks could never have been mesmerized
to the point where he could kiss an imaginary girl
in public, or a real one either; but I was competent.
Whatever Hicks had failed in, I made it a point to
succeed in, let the cost be what it might, physically
or morally. He had shown several bad defects, and
I had made a note of them. For instance, if the
magician asked, "What do you see?" and left him
to invent a vision for himself. Hicks was dumb and
blind, he couldn't see a thing nor say a word;
whereas the magician soon found that when it came
to seeing visions of a stunning and marketable sort
I could get along better without his help than with it.
Then there was another thing: Hicks wasn't
worth a tallow dip on mute mental suggestion.
Whenever Simmons stood behind him and gazed
at the back of his skull and tried to drive a mental
suggestion into it, Hicks sat with vacant face, and
never suspected. If he had been noticing, he could
have seen by the rapt faces of the audience that
something was going on behind his back that re
quired a response. Inasmuch as I was an impostor
I dreaded to have this test put upon me; for I knew
the professor would be "willing" me to. do some
thing, and as I couldn't know what it was, I should
be exposed and denounced. However, when my
time came I took my chance. I perceived by the
tense and expectant faces of the people that Sim
mons was behind me "willing" me with all his
might. I tried my best to imagine what he wanted;
but nothing suggested itself. I felt ashamed and
miserable then. I believed that the hour of my
disgrace was come, and that in another moment I
should go out of that place disgraced. I ought to be
ashamed to confess it, but my next thought was,
not how I could win the compassion of kindly hearts
by going out humbly and in sorrow for my mis
doings, but how I could go out most sensationally
and spectacularly.
A Hypnotic Crisis
HPHERE was a rusty and empty old revolver lying
on the table, among the properties employed in
the performances. On May day, two or three weeks
Drawings by J. L. S. Williams
Drunkenness of the tongue.
Verbal vivisection of one's neighbors.
A conversational conspiracy of ignorance, inquisitive
ness, impertinence, and intolerance.
Syndicating petty, prying personalities.
The malaria of meddlesomeness in a community.
Reports of the vigilance committee of society.
Public laundering of private reputations.
Playing shuttlecock with the personal affairs of others.
The imagination of the heart.
Fellowship of the emotions.
The instinctive fine brotherhood of the soul.
Hearing the unspoken language of another's heart.
Barometric sensitiveness to another's moods.
Two sharing the joy and the sorrow of one.
The universal kinship of humanity made a fact.
The Gulf Stream of love through the waters of the
world's misunderstanding.
The power to feel vividly what one has not experienced.
Wearing a ready made uniform of belief.
Thinking along the lines of least resistance.
The one word adopted as a trademark by each creed
to distinguish it from the others.
Keeping in step with the rear guard.
Comfortable conservatism in the world of thought.
Fighting on the side of the biggest battalions of belief.
Living in an atmosphere of thought guaranteed by
authority, tradition, and respectability.
Sterilized mental food put up in cans.
Arrogant assumption of the sole infallibility of one's faith.
before, there had been a celebration by the schools,
and I had had a quarrel with a big boy who was the
school bully, and I had not come out of it with
"credit. That boy was now seated in the middle of
the house, half-way down the main aisle. I crept
stealthily and impressively toward the table, with
a dark and murderous scowl on my face, copied
from a popular romance, seized the revolver sud
denly, nourished it, shouted the bully's name,
jumped off the platform, and made a rush for him
and chased him out of the house before the paralyzed
people could interfere to save him. There was a
storm of applause, and the magician, addressing
the house, said most impressively:
" That you may know how really remarkable this
is, and how wonderfully developed a subject we have
in this boy, I assure you that without a single spoken
word to guide him he has carried out what I mentally
commanded him to do, to the minutest detail. I
could have stopped him at a moment in his vengeful
career by a mere exertion of my will; therefore the
poor fellow who has escaped was at no time in
So I was not in disgrace. I returned to the plat
form a hero, and happier than I have ever been in
this world since. As regards mental suggestion, my
fears of it were gone. I judged that in case I failed
to guess what the professor might be willing me to
do, J could count on putting up something that
would answer just as well. I was right, and ex
hibitions of unspoken suggestion became a favorite
with the public. Whenever I perceived that I was
being willed to do something, I got up and did some
thing,?anything that occurred to me,?and the
magician, not being a fool, always ratified it. When
people asked me, "How can you tell what he is
willing you to do?" I said, "It's just as easy!" and
they always said admiringly " Well, it beats me how
you can do it."
Tough on the Subject
1-IICKS was weak in another detail. When the pro
fessor made passes over him and said, " His whole
body is without sensation now. Come forward, and
test him, ladies and gentlemen," the ladies and
gentlemen always comj)lied eagerly, and stuck pins
into Hicks, and if they went deep Hicks was sure to
wince. Then that poor professor would have to ex
plain that Hicks wasn't "sufficiently under the in
fluence." But I didn't wince; I only suffered, and
shed tears on the inside. The miseries that a con
ceited boy will endure to keep up his "reputation"!
And so will a conceited man; I know it in my own
person, and have seen it in a hundred thousand
others. That professor ought to have protected me,
and I often hoped he would, when the tests were
unusually severe; but he didn't. It may be that he
was deceived as w.?ll as the others, though I did not
believe it nor think it possible. Those were dear
good people; but :hey must have carried simplicity
and credulity to the limit. They would stick a pin
in my arm and bear on it until they drove it a third
of its length in, and then be lost in wonder that by a
mere exercise of will power the professor could turn
my arm to iron and make it insensible to pain.
Whereas it was not insensible at all; I was suffering
agonies of pain.
After that fourth night,?that proud night, that
triumphant night,?I was the only subject. Simmons
invited no more candidates to the platform. I per
formed alone.' every night, the rest of the fortnight.
In the beginning of the second week I conquered
the last doubters. Up to that time a dozen wise old
heads, the intellectual aristocracy of the town, had
held out, as implacable unbelievers. I was as hurt
by this as if I were engaged in some honest occupa
tion. There is nothing surprising about this. Human
beings feel dishonor the most, sometimes, when they
most deserve it. That handful of overwise old gentle
men kept on shaking their heads all the first week, and
saying they had seen no marvels there that could not
have been produced by collusion; and they were
pretty vain of their unbelief too, and liked to show
it and air it, and be superior to the ignorant and
the gullible. Particularly old Dr. Peake, who was
the ringleader of the irreconcilables, and very
formidable; for he was an F.F.V., he was learned,
white haired, and venerable, nobly and richly clad
in the fashions of an earlier and a courtlier day, he
was large and stately, and he not only seemed wise,
but was what he seemed in that regard. He had
great influence, and his opinion upon any matter
was worth much more than that of any other person
in the community. When I conquered him at last,
I knew I was undisputed master of the field; and
now, after more than fifty years, I acknowledge, with
a few dry old tears, that I rejoiced without shame.
A Timely Memory ?
[Dictated December 2, 1906.]
TN 1847 we were living in a large white house on
* the corner of Hill and Main-sts., a house that
still stands, but isn't large now, although it hasn't
lost a plank,?I saw it a year ago and noticed that
shrinkage. My father died in it in March of "the
year mentioned; but our family did not move out
of it until some months afterward. Ours was not
the only family in the house; there was another
?Dr. Grant's. One day Dr. Grant and Dr. Rey
burn argued a matter on the street with sword canes,
and Grant was brought home multifariously punc
tured. Old Dr. Peake calked the leaks, and came
every day for awhile to look after him.
The Giants were Virginians, like Peake, and one
Continued on page 23

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