The Galaxy, Volume 23, No. 2, February, 1877
Author: Various
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We have been struck in reading these letters with the strong analogy between Balzac's career and that of the great English writer whose history was some time since so expansively written by Mr. Forster. Dickens and Balzac take much in common; as individuals they strongly resemble each other; their differences are chiefly differences of race. Each was a man of affairs, an active, practical man, with a temperament of almost phenomenal vigor and a prodigious quantity of life to expend. Each had a character and a will—what is nowadays called a personality—which imposed themselves irresistibly; each had a boundless self-confidence and a magnificent egotism. Each had always a hundred irons on the fire; each was resolutely determined to make money, and made it in large quantities. In intensity of imaginative power, the power of evoking visible objects and figures, seeing them themselves with the force of hallucination, and making others see them all but just as vividly, they were almost equal. Here there is little to choose between them; they have had no rivals but each other and Shakespeare. But they most of all resemble each other in the fact that they treated their extraordinary imaginative force as a matter of business; that they worked it as a gold mine, violently and brutally; overworked and ravaged it. They succumbed to the task that they had laid upon themselves, and they are as similar in their deaths as in their lives. Of course, if Dickens is an English Balzac, he is a very English Balzac. His fortune was the easier of the two, and his prizes were greater than the other's. His brilliant opulent English prosperity, centred in a home and diffused through a progeny, is in strong contrast with the almost scholastic penury and obscurity of much of Balzac's career. But the analogy is still very striking.

In speaking formerly of Balzac in these pages we insisted upon the fact that he lacked charm; but we said that our last word upon him should be that he had incomparable power. His letters only confirm these impressions, and above all they deepen our sense of his strength. They contain little that is delicate, and not a great deal that is positively agreeable; but they express an energy before which we stand lost in wonder, in an admiration that almost amounts to awe. The fact that his devouring observation of the great human spectacle has no echo in his letters only makes us feel how concentrated and how intense was the labor that went on in his closet. Certainly no solider intellectual work has ever been achieved by man. And in spite of the massive egotism, the personal absoluteness, to which these pages testify, they leave us with a downright kindness for the author. He was coarse, but he was tender; he was corrupt in a way, but he was hugely natural. If he was ungracefully eager and voracious, awkwardly blind to all things that did not contribute to his personal plan, at least his egotism was exerted in a great cause. The "Comedie Humaine" has a thousand faults, but it is a monumental excuse.



[1] Paris: Calmann Levy. 1876.

[2] December, 1875.



Bring withered autumn leaves! Call everything that grieves, And build a funeral pyre above his head! Heap there all golden promise that deceives, Beauty that wins the heart and then bereaves— For love is dead.


Not slowly did he die! A meteor from the sky Falls not so swiftly as his spirit fled; When with regretful, half-averted eye He gave one little smile, one little sigh— And so was sped.


But, oh, not yet, not yet Can my lost soul forget How beautiful he was while he did live; Or, when his eyes were dewy and lips wet, What kisses, tenderer than all regret, My love would give!


Strew roses on his breast! He loved the roses best; He never cared for lilies or for snow. Let be this bitter end of his sweet quest! Let be the pallid silence that is rest— And let all go!



When Smith's Circus and Menagerie Combination Company went to Utica James Rounders was a lusty fellow of twenty, of some natural sagacity, and no school education. An interest in wild beasts had been developing in him for several years, and the odor of sawdust had become grateful to his nostrils. It was, however, only one kind of wild beast with which he was especially occupied. The quadruped of the noble aspect, stately gait, and tremendous roar—the lion—was the animal of Rounders's predilection and the object of his study.

He had gotten together some leading facts—so far as the stories of lion-killers may be regarded as such—concerning his favorite animal. He had heard how a lion had galloped off from the suburbs of the Cape of Good Hope with a two years' old heifer in his mouth, and jumped over a hedge twelve feet high, taking his burden over with him. In the same region of southern Africa another lion was seen bearing off a horse at a canter, the neck in his mouth and the body slung behind across his back. According to one who hunted the animal in the interior of Africa, a lion one day sprang on an ox, his hind feet on the quarters, his fore feet about the horns, and drew the head backward with such force as to break the back of the animal. On another occasion the same hunter saw a lion who took a heifer in his mouth, and though its legs trailed on the ground, he carried it off as a cat would a rat, and jumped across a wide ditch without difficulty. These accounts of the lion's strength were articles of faith with James Rounders. He had been told that the royal Bengal tiger of Asia was the equal in strength, if not the superior, of the African lion, he having been known to smash the head of a bullock by a single blow of his paw; but this Rounders did not believe.

He read with some difficulty, moving his lips as he did so, in order to get the matter clearly before his mind. He regarded it as a laborious task, and would sooner have chopped a cord of wood than read for half an hour. Notwithstanding the irksomeness of reading, there were two books which led him conscientiously through their pages to the end—those of Gordon Cumming and Jules Gerard on the hunting and killing of lions. The two volumes comprised his library, and furnished his mind with all the literary nutriment which it required.

Rounders went to the opening performance of Smith's Circus and Menagerie Combination Company. The ground leading up to the front of the canvas was garnished in the usual way. There were two small parasitic tents near the great one, on which primitive pictures hung of the woman of enormous girth and the calf with six legs. A man stood at the flap entrance of each, inviting people to enter and see these wonders of nature for a moderate sum. Near by was the lemonade wagon, whose proprietor was handing out glasses of his fluid with a briskness that showed that many were athirst.

When he entered the great tent the brass band was blowing blatantly, four cavaliers in rusty spangles and four dowdy women were riding round the ring, going through the old-time preliminary called the grand entry; for whatever else may change, the circus remains faithful to its traditions. The Yorick of the sawdust soon followed, and said the things which convulsed us with laughter in our tender years, and which cause us to smile in our maturity in the recollections they bring back. It was the same bold joke and the same grimace. The quips and quirks force on us the fact that there is but little originality in the human mind, and this was substantially the reflection of Rounders as he turned an indifferent ear to the wearisome wit. He prided himself on his acumen, and was not to be taken in with such worn buffoonery. Yet I trow that even Rounders envied the children who gave themselves over body and soul to the accredited man of humor.

He looked at the woman going through the hoops, the trick pony seeking for the hidden handkerchief, and the bareback rider turning a summerset, with a mild interest, for he had seen them or something like them before. The strong man who threw up the cannon balls into the air, and allowed them to fall on his nape, to roll down the hollow of his back to the ground, hardly aroused this indifferent spectator. What he looked forward to with curiosity was the performance of the lion-tamer, and when it did come it exceeded his expectations.

The master of the ring, attired in what resembled the uniform of an officer of the navy, stepped into the middle of the arena, and with the affectation of good breeding characteristic of the class, said, "Ladies and gentlemen: I have the honor to announce that John Brinton, the most extraordinary and celebrated tamer of lions in the world, will appear before you in his remarkable performance, during which every one is requested to keep his seat. Your attention is especially directed to the third part of it, as one of the marvels of the nineteenth century.

"To-morrow there will be a matinee at one o'clock, and in the evening the performance at the usual hour."

The speaker bowed and retired. The band struck up "See, the Conquering Hero Comes," as the Brinton in question came forward with that dash which belongs to lion-tamers everywhere. He was an athletic man between forty and fifty, of a stern countenance, and of a self-possession that was evident as soon as he appeared. He was arrayed in flesh-colored tights, with embroidered sky-blue velvet around the loins. He bore in one hand a black rod, five or six feet long, and in the other a whip. His hair was short, and he was cleanly shaved. Men who put their heads between lions' jaws generally are, for the titillation of a straggling hair might produce a cough that would prove tragical. He was quick and decided in all his movements, as the lion-tamer should be, in order to leave the beast no time to work itself up to a decision.

The cage which he entered contained two lions. One was large, grumbling, and fierce, who had passed a part of his life in the wilds of Africa; the other, and smaller of the two, was an emasculated beast, born behind the bars, and was as tractable as the animal usually is that has never known freedom. The performance consisted of three parts. The first was of the kind common to menageries. The tamer entered by the little door in a corner, with the celerity which all tamers employ, and stood for a moment in the statuesque immobility to which they are also given, in coming before the public. Having done this, he started forward with the black rod in his left hand, approached the animals, driving them to the end of the cage, the end of the rod nearly touching their faces. Here they stood under protest, growling. Then he raised his whip, struck the smaller beast, making it run from one end of the cage to the other, and leap over his shoulder in a way familiar to people who have visited a menagerie. He threw it down, put his foot on its prostrate body, and folded his arms in the character of victor. He lay down on it, pulled open its jaws, and inserted his head therein. Then he jumped up and dismissed it, with a cut of the whip, to one corner. During this time the larger lion had been an indifferent and surly spectator. The tamer approached, touching him with the rod, when he jumped forward with a growl, half crouching. Quickly the tamer caught hold of his upper jaw and tore it open, as great, rebellious cog-wheel growls issued from the mighty throat. Then he spurned him with his foot, bowed to the audience, went to the door, let himself out like a flash, the two animals making a bound against it as he disappeared.

"A, B, C," said Rounders. "Nothing new about that."

During the interim venders went about holding up photographic portraits of the tamer, lustily shouting his professional and private virtues. Their voices were, however, soon drowned in the clash of the brass band, which played a prelude to what was coming. At the conclusion of this a lone and last voice cried out, "Ice-cold lemonade," but it was promptly suppressed by those near the crier, as Brinton again appeared.

The second part was a short drama enacted with the larger animal, whose name was Brutus, the smaller one being driven into an adjoining cage. In the drama Brutus was the faithful friend of his master, the tamer, who is attacked by his enemies—a dozen supernumeraries in rusty spangles, who simultaneously thrust their spears through the bars from the outside of one end of the cage; when the spears are thus thrust through the bars, the master calls on his faithful servant Brutus to save his master's life, and rid him of his enemies, giving the command in the words:

"To the rescue, Brutus! Down with the miscreants!"

This was the "situation." Brutus advances at the word of command, and with a few blows from his great paws breaks the brittle spears which the somewhat flasque enemies hold from without. At this the tamer strikes an attitude, and shouts in a melodramatic voice:

"Saved! And by this noble animal!"

These words are accompanied with the action of putting an arm affectionately around the neck of Brutus. This is the denouement.

He bows and retires as before, this time amid increased applause.

"Not bad," said the critical Rounders, "but nothing extra."

As Brinton disappeared the voices of the venders arose again, to be drowned as before by the blare of the wind instruments. Silence was restored for his next appearance. It was the third part which Rounders desired especially to see, and a surprise was reserved for him. In it the tamer entered the cage with a great piece of raw meat in each hand, Brutus being still alone, standing in the middle of the cage, eagerly looking out for his master. Brinton threw one of the pieces down in the middle of the floor, and the beast pounced on it as only a wild beast can, holding it between his paws as he gluttonously devoured it—not with a lateral movement of the jaws, but cat-like—amid half stifled, threatening growls, with menacing eyes turned from time to time toward the tamer. What the tamer then did was the most extraordinary performance which Rounders had ever seen, and sent thrills of admiration down his spinal column.

Brinton calmly approached the ferocious animal feeding, and took away from it the half finished piece of meat, and as he did so the beast growled, but submitted! After which he waved the half consumed beef in the air and bowed, amid great applause, in which Rounders heartily joined. Then the tamer said:

"Brutus, you have behaved so well I shall reward you with another piece."

Which he did, the beast seizing it and gorging himself as before. At this point the master of the ring stepped forth again as the tamer disappeared, and said:

"Ladies and gentlemen, when you recollect how difficult it is to take a bone away from even a pet dog, it will give you some idea of the marvellous performance you have just witnessed. It will be repeated to-morrow during the day and evening."

"This is a real show," said Rounders, wound up to enthusiasm. "But how does he do it?" This was the question which at once presented itself, and thereafter gave him no peace. With this perplexing inquiry was mingled a deep and abiding admiration. He was brought to a determination to which he had been moving for two or three years. In a word, he decided then and there to enter the vocation. He sought the man who had sent the tingling, shivering sensation down his vertebrae, and explained that he wanted to go with him on any terms and in any capacity.

Brinton had taken off his professional gear, and was undistinguishable from the sombre mass of his fellow citizens. He was out on the open space near the great tent, looking abstractedly at a man blowing with distended cheeks into a lung-testing machine. Rounders stood before him with the respect due to a man who snatches meat away from a ferocious lion.

After going through his work with the beasts, Brinton was usually tired and somewhat indifferent to the ordinary affairs of life. Other things seemed pale after the emotions of the cage. When Rounders explained to him what he wanted, the tamer said:

"You've got it."

"Got what?"

"The lion fever. You are lion struck. I've seen a good many like you. Its an uphill business. Not one keeper in fifty gets the handling of the brutes, and still the only way of going about it is to be a keeper. Besides handling them, you must have a specialty—a trick, you know. You've got to get up one yourself or worm it out of somebody else. As for the lion man telling anybody—that is something I haven't yet met with. You may take his life, but he won't give up his trick; it's his pride, his pleasure, and his bread and butter."

"I want to be a keeper all the same," returned Rounders.

"Come on then," said Brinton; "for we want a keeper, as we left one at the last town. He was a young man who had been reading in natural history about the noble nature of the lion, and he put his hand in between the bars to pat Brutus on the head. The surgeon examined him, and said his arm was fractured in several places—it was a regular chaw. We left him in the hospital. I tell you this as a warning not to go fooling round the beasts—that is, if you're coming."

The fate of the young man of a too trusting faith in the noble nature of the lion did not turn Rounders from his determination, and the next morning he was a part of the establishment.

At first the tongue of the tamer was pretty closely tied touching matters of his profession, but in due time he expanded into talk when he saw the genuine enthusiasm of the keeper for all that related to the subject, yet naturally practised strict reserve in everything concerning his particular work. In a word, professional secrets remained entombed.

He thought men were born to his vocation, and there was no resisting it. He had followed shows and hung around lion cages when he was a boy. Toward manhood the business had exercised such a fascination that he at last obtained employment with a tamer, whom he followed until he was killed by his beasts. This sanguinary spectacle deterred him for the time from the idea of entering a cage, but he continued his work.

There were two kinds of lions in the menageries—those born and raised in the cages and those caught as whelps wild in Asia and Africa. A few full grown were caught in pits. The first time he entered a cage was in a small show in a provincial town. The two lions whom he then encountered were old and sick, and bore the scars of twenty years' whipping on their bald hides; besides, they were born and brought up behind the bars. They growled from force of habit, but there was not much danger in them. The posters of course announced the two brutes as two of the most ferocious kings of the forest.

From these he passed to cage-bred lions in their prime, thence to the wild animals, of which Brutus was one. Until the tamer was able to work with these last, he was not considered as belonging to the rank of real tamers. The sensation he experienced the first time he entered the cage of wild animals was difficult to describe; it was an appreciation of imminent danger coupled with courage. When he issued from the cage his tights and spangled cloth felt as if they had just come out of the wash tub. He was steeled up to the point of bravery before the brutes, but ten minutes afterward a child could have knocked him over.

The principal secret of managing the brutes was not to be afraid of them. When the man showed fear he was lost. The mastery was not acquired so much through violence of treatment as an absolute sense of security in their presence. Audacity and self-possession were necessary every minute, every second; a moment's loss of equilibrium might prove fatal.

The buttery mode of treatment about which bookmen wrote had no existence in fact among showmen. No man managed his beasts with kindness. When his Brutus licked his face in his performance it looked affectionate, but it was not; he did it because he was afraid; and when the animal went through this osculatory business he was obliged to keep his eye on him with all the concentration of his will, for there was something in the beast's eyes which showed that he would sooner use his teeth than his tongue.

There was an impression that a lion once tamed is tamed for good, as a horse is broken to harness. This was an error; the lion had to be tamed every day anew in order to keep him in subjection.

Rounders asked him if he meant to say that all lions were vicious. To which he answered negatively. There were good lions and bad lions, just as there were good and bad men. The bad beasts, however, were more numerous than the others, for it was their nature to kill to provide for their hunger. The book talk about their generosity was not trustworthy; the instinct of the beast was to kill when it was hungry, but when its stomach was full it was less dangerous. He had seen the beast in its wild state, having hunted him in Africa. He had captured Brutus there when the animal was two years old; he was then ten, but always retained something of his wild nature. He was secured in a pit with his mother, the mother being shot.

In another menagerie with which he had been connected his principal performance was "the happy family," in which he brought together in the same cage two lions, several wolves, a couple of bears, a sheep, a small elephant with a monkey on his back. The crowning feature of this was the introduction of the sheep's head into the lion's mouth, which he held open by the upper lip with a strong grip. The sovereignty of the lions was acknowledged by the other animals, who looked at them with fear, getting as far away from them as the cage would permit. He had to pull each one into the cage by force. He compelled a bear to stand with his nose in close proximity to that of a lion; he called this the kiss of friendship; the bear had to be kicked and pushed into position, looking at the lion with terror; the lion did not deign to look at the bear, but kept his eye fixed on his master, whom of course he obeyed under protest. When the sheep was brought forward, and its head was put between the lion's jaws, it was almost in a swooning condition, and excited general pity. He had to get a new sheep every month, the daily fear causing them soon to decline unto death.

The foregoing, in substance, was a portion of the talk with which Brinton gratified himself as well as his listener, the appreciative Rounders.

The trick of pulling away the meat from under the jaws of Brutus was technically known under the canvas as the "meat-jerk." It continued to remain uppermost in the mind of the new keeper.

The nomadic life had pleasures for Rounders, aside from the fascination of the "meat-jerk." He drove a gayly colored wagon in the caravan, as it moved through the country. At night, like the Arabs, they folded their tents and stole away, and at dawn they were on the march. Perched on his seat, Rounders's eyes dwelt on the landscape with its purple tints of the morning, and his nostrils sniffed the sweet odors of Nature while she was still in deshabille. Silently, like a variegated serpent, the caravan crept around the hills and through the valleys. The musicians, clad in gold and scarlet, rode through the country in their magnificent chariot, and gave out no sound, their breath being reserved for the towns and villages. The vestal silence remained unbroken by the stridulous clarinet and the blatant trombones.

Every man has a weakness, and Brinton had his. He was in tender thraldom. He loved the woman that jumped through the hoops and balloons on a padded horse. Whenever her eyes turned on him they sent a thrill through him more exciting than that produced by Brutus. He generally stood near the ring-board when she appeared in public, and envied the ringmaster the agreeable duty of assisting her to mount. Admiringly he watched her shapely legs going through the hoops and over the garters, as her eyes sparkled and her face flushed with the excitement, but there was no indication of his love being returned.

When Rounders discovered this tenderness in the heart of the tamer, he thought of Samson and Delilah, and wondered if something of the kind could not be done with natural comeliness instead of a pair of scissors. Guided by instinct, Rounders, who was a shrewd fellow, as has already been said, made his court to Mlle. La Sauteuse, known in private life as Sally Stubbs. There were conventional barriers between a keeper and a rider, but Rounders by tact and good looks got over them, and whispered sweet nonsense in the porches of Miss Stubbs's willing ear.

One evening, after the performance, as the moon shone athwart the great tent, and the brass band was hushed, Sally Stubbs stood against a background of canvas, bathed in the sheen from on high. Quiet reigned in the tents of the elephantine woman and the calf with six legs. The lung-tester had folded up his machine and departed. The sound of "ice-cold lemonade" had died in the general stillness. Mlle. La Sauteuse leaned over lovingly to the new keeper, and asked in a low, sympathetic voice,

"What can I do for you, Jim Rounders?"

"Find out the 'meat-jerk,'" was the swift response.

"Alas," said the fair Stubbs, "when you've been as long in the tent as I've been, you'll know that that is impossible. You might as well ask me for a slice of the moon that is now lookin' down on this here peaceful scene atween you and me."

"You've heard the Sunday school story about Samson and Delilah?" pursued Rounders.

"What's that got to do with John Brinton's secret?"

"What's been done can be done again. Delilah wormed it out of Samson: why can't Sally Stubbs worm it out of Brinton?"

"Cut off his hair, as the Bible woman did?"

"That's too thin," said Rounders rashly, without fear of theological dogma. "That's allygory. They call it hair-cuttin', and when they call it that, its hairsplittin'. Take my word for it, Sally Stubbs, that when she got the secret out of that hefty, long-haired man, she did it with her pretty ways and good looks."

Still, Miss Stubbs affirmed that such a project as Rounders entertained was impossible; and it was true. In his weakest, or most sentimental hours, Brinton knew how to withstand even the blandishments of the charming Stubbs when she approached professional topics. Under her smile he opened up like a morning-glory kissed by Aurora; but when she tried to penetrate into the mystery of his great lion act, he closed up like the same flower when it encounters the sun. He had a well-ordered mind divided into compartments—business was one thing and love was another.

Meanwhile the keeper kept his eye on every movement of Brinton. He was his shadow. When he was not occupied with the master, he was looking after the animals. Reciprocity of kindness is a principle of nature which Rounders had observed, and in which he had some faith, notwithstanding the pessimist views of Brinton. He began by familiarizing Brutus with the sight of his face, person, and voice. He spoke to the animal in the most sympathetic accent of which he was capable. He hung round his cage as long and as often as his duties would permit. He reached the point of cajolery, and assumed friendship, as:

"Well, Brutus, how are you, old boy? How did you like the last feed? I'm afraid this travellin' round in confinement, on wheels, is injurin' your complexion. Of course you would like to be footin' it like the rest of us. I reckon it would be better for you, but it might be bad for some of us two-legged fellows. Eh, bully boy?"

This jocularity was in strange contrast to the sombre indifference with which the king of the forest looked down on the speaker. Rounders infringed on the rules laid down by Brinton in giving bits of meat to the beast whenever an opportunity presented itself; but notwithstanding these offerings, the two sombre eyes continued to regard him with an unchanged expression. One day, to arouse him from his condition of indifference or latent kindness, Rounders introduced a stick under the bars to poke him up in a friendly way, touching him on his extended paws. The beast struck quickly, and almost caught his hand. As it was, one of his fingers was bruised by the blow. Brinton, unperceived by Rounders, had been standing behind him noting the incident.

"Rounders," said Brinton, "you're lucky. About two months ago a fellow did the same thing as you've been doing, but he did not come out as well as you."

"What befell him?" asked Rounders.

"Brutus caught his hand under the bars, pulled in his arm, reached out his other paw in an affectionate embrace around the man's neck, pressed him against the bars, and mashed him. When I came up it was too late. He dropped on the sawdust and never got up again."

In noting their habits, Rounders observed that they were more afraid of the short pole which Brinton carried into the cage than they were of the whip. Brinton called this bit of dark wood his magic wand, which in a measure justified its name, for as soon as he touched them with it, they gave way and drew back to the end of the cage. He usually carried it with him into a little tent-chamber, which was rigged up near the lion's cage. One night, after issuing from the cage, he forgot to take the magic wand with him, leaving it lying on the sawdust, alongside of one of the wheels which carried the beasts. Jim Rounders picked it up with curiosity, and found it very heavy. In a word, it was iron. He drew his hand caressingly from one end of it to the other, as he thought of the effects which it produced when it came in contact with the lions' noses. As his hand softly reached down to the other end, he drew it back as if bitten by a viper, with an exclamation that would not have met with favor in the Young Men's Christian Association. The end was hot. He carried the rod into the little tent-chamber, and left it there. It was now made clear to him why the animals showed such an aversion to the end of the magic wand.

The wife of Brutus was a lioness called Cleopatra, generally kept in another cage. In the order of nature she was at times more affectionate to her husband than at others, and during such periods Brutus became irritable, and difficult to manage. It was hard to keep him down, even with the hot iron. As they wended their way from village to village, and town to town, over the old-fashioned turnpikes, Brutus entered one of the irritable phases of his life, during which, it is hardly necessary to say, the vigilant eye of Rounders was nearly always on the tamer in his management of the brute. One night, through a chink of the little tent-chamber, he saw Brinton standing irresolute, although behind his time for entering the cage; the beads of sweat stood on his forehead, and he held his heated iron in his hand; then he roused himself to decision, spat on the heated end of the magic wand, which hissed, and strode quickly to the cage.

This was a revelation to Rounders. It was apparent that even Brinton, plucky as he was, had his moments of apprehension and demoralization, from which he concluded that the danger must be real. Rounders, as usual taking a deep interest, followed him to the cage and took his station near the front of it. Brinton's first action as soon as he got into the cage was to run at the nose of Brutus with his hot iron and drive him back to one end. Rounders fancied he could almost hear the frizzle of the flesh. He went through the first part of the performance with the cage-bred lion, whipping him and making him jump over his shoulders in the usual way, but he omitted that part where he tore open the jaws of Brutus, and made him lick his face.

The dramatic event took place in the second part. Brinton in his preoccupation of that night left the magic wand reposing against the wheel near the door of the cage as he entered it, to play the drama. Brutus, rebellious and gloomy, went through his part until the scene where the spears are thrust through the bars arrived. His master gave the word of command:

"To the rescue, Brutus! Down with the miscreants!" at the same time pointing as usual to the spears with the enemies behind them. Brutus, who was at the opposite end of the cage—the tamer in the centre—did not move. Brinton gave the command a second time, stamping with his foot to enforce it. The eyes of the lion did not turn in the direction of the spears, as they heretofore did when the animal was ordered to the rescue, but settled in a sombre manner on Brinton, whom the beast began gradually to approach. At this moment Rounders, who was narrowly watching the proceeding, observed a momentary quailing of the eye in the tamer; still he called up his fierce expression again, and gave the order for the third time to the gradually advancing brute, whose eyes were steadily fixed on him. The heart of Rounders beat quick; he held his breath. The theory then flashed through his mind about the steady human eye being able to hold the lion in subjection or deter him from attacking, and he scanned the eyes of Brinton. They were both fixed on the beast, but there was no sign of the beast's quailing. Brinton cursed and shouted at the brute, the motive of which Rounders quickly understood, another theory being that the lion is sometimes prevented from attacking in this way. This noise seemed rather to contribute to the ire of the beast; besides it was presently drowned in his mighty roar. The culminating point of anger was reached, the mane stood out on end, and the lashing tail stiffened into a straight line, as the animal made a bound toward Brinton, who still bore himself as if he were complete master. Brinton fell. Quick as a flash, Rounders seized the magic wand, burst open the little door, and made a lunge at the brute on top of the fallen man. The men with the spears attacked him from behind, and as the animal turned for a moment to face them, Rounders took advantage of it to clutch Brinton, drag him to the door, and out of the cage.

At this the applause was deafening. It was the first night in this community, and the spectators thought it was in the play. The heart of Rounders turned sick as he heard the admiring shouts. He pulled Brinton into the little tent-chamber; thence he smuggled him into a room in an adjoining hotel.

The beast had ripped the flesh from the bone nearly the length of his leg, as the surgeon ascertained, who was secretly called in. Fortunately no bones were broken. Five minutes after the event of the cage, the manager of the concern came before the audience and stated that the celebrated lion-tamer, John Brinton, who had been engaged at a fabulous sum, and had performed before all the crowned heads of Europe, was taken with a sudden indisposition to which he was sometimes subject, and would be obliged to deny himself the pleasure of appearing again that evening. Then he added some remark about the noble beast of the forest, who probably regretted the non-appearance of its master—whom he positively loved, as much as the people before him.

After the show was over that night, the manager asked the doctor how long the wounded tamer would keep his bed, to which answer was made that it would be several weeks. The manager did not know what was to be done. Then, turning to Rounders, he said,

"There's good stuff in you. Brinton owes you his life. Don't you think you might go into Pompey until Brinton gets on his legs?" (Pompey being the old emasculated lion who appeared to the public in the same cage with Brutus). To which question Rounders, picking up heart of grace, said he thought he might.

"I mean," added the manager, "of course, in keeping Brutus out of the cage, and confining your handling to Pompey, who is not a bad-natured animal. Have you got the courage to go into him?"

Rounders said he had.

"I don't want any foolhardiness," continued the manager. "If you can manage to make Pompey run around the cage a little, that will do until Brinton recovers."

A few minutes afterward Rounders was in the room of the wounded tamer, to whom he said:

"I'm going in to do the business with Pompey, until you get well."

The expression of languid suffering left the face of Brinton, as he asked, "What are you going to do with him?"

"Do what you did with him—or try to."

"Perhaps you may do it, Rounders."

"If I knew the 'meat jerk,' I don't know but I might try that on him."

"Look here, Rounders," said the reclining man, "I have a word to say to you. You tried to get Sally Stubbs away from me; for that I didn't like you. But what you have done to-night wipes that out, and puts something to the credit side of your account. This being the case, let me give you this advice: Don't try the 'meat-jerk,' and when you go into Pompey, go at him before he has time to think."

Brinton was left in the town where he met with his mishap, under charge of the doctor, and the train moved on to the next village, where Rounders was to make his first appearance as a performer. He had faith in hot iron, and as soon as he got inside of the cage door he went to Pompey with the magic wand. The animal stood a moment and lashed his tail, when Rounders quickly frizzled his nose before he had time for reflection; then he gave way, retreating to one end. Here Rounders strode toward him with his whip and gave him a cut, returned to the middle of the cage, and stamped his foot as he had seen Brinton do. The animal hesitated. Rounders stamped his foot again and raised his whip; then Pompey jumped over his shoulder and up and down the ends of the car in the traditional fashion. The new tamer pulled open his jaws, lay down between his paws, and stood over him with a foot on his neck in sign of victory. After which he bowed and retired. This was the whole performance as far as the lions were concerned, the others—Cleopatra and Brutus—being simply exhibited.

"Not bad for a beginner," said the manager when he came out of the cage. Miss Stubbs, who was standing by in short cloud-like skirts and flesh-colored tights, said something more handsome, being in closer sympathy with Rounders than the manager.

For two or three weeks Rounders continued to go through a performance like the initiatory one, but at the end of that time his ambition moved him to do something more. Pompey was tractable, and he determined to attempt the "meat-jerk." He had not forgotten the advice of Brinton, but he thought it was given through jealousy. He communicated his determination to the manager, who told him if he thought he could do it, to go ahead, for the managerial mind was absorbed with the idea of additional attraction. He also informed Miss Stubbs of his project, who exhibited more solicitude, and her first impulse was to dissuade the ambitious Rounders from the undertaking. Under such circumstances men are not inclined to heed the words of women, and in this instance Rounders did not. His principal aim in making the communication was to elicit information. She knew Brinton perhaps better than any one else in the company. Couldn't she give him some "points"? Alas! she had no "points" to give, for, however expansive Brinton may have been under Cupid's influence, he was as close as an oyster in what related to his profession, as has already been said. There was but one course left for Rounders to pursue, which was to play a close imitation of Brinton.

The night of the representation came. The first part of the lion performance passed off, and the second was at hand. The sweat stood on the forehead of Rounders in drops as it had on that of Brinton when Rounders saw him on the night of his irresolution. He issued from the little tent-chamber, with a piece of meat in each hand, as he had seen Brinton do. Miss Stubbs stood at the door of the cage in her professional costume, with the magic wand in her hand.

"Jim Rounders," said she solemnly, "keep cool. If you lose your presence of mind, you're gone."

"All right, Sally Stubbs," said he reassuringly as he opened the door and went in with the two pieces of meat. The hungry animal jumped to his feet and switched his tail. He smelt the meat. Rounders threw him a piece, which he seized with the voracity common to lions, and began to eat, growling between each bite. Rounders eyed the menacing beast for a few moments, as it fed, then approached and put out his hand, at which there was a louder and more threatening growl. It was the growl of warning. A low feminine voice reached Rounders's ear from the cage door, which said,

"Jim Rounders, don't do it." But Rounders was not a man to renounce a project when it was once lodged in his head; and he boldly reached down to take hold of the meat on which Pompey was feeding. A gurgling growl, rising to a high key, was the response, and a spring. Rounders was down and the beast on top of him. At that moment the cage door flew open. Sally Stubbs ran with the magic wand against the beast and stuck it into his mouth, and as it went in, the act sounded like putting a steak on the fire. She caught the prostrate man by the arm, and drew him behind her with her free hand, and thus holding him, she dragged him backing toward the door, holding out her rod in front to prevent a renewal of the attack. The two got out safe together. On examination it was found that Rounders had sustained no other injury than some severe bruises.

"No more of that, Rounders," said the manager. "I don't want the prospects of my show ruined by a tragedy. You have had a narrow escape. Let it be a lesson to you not to undertake a thing you don't understand."

Rounders's first act after the rescue was to kiss Miss Stubbs on both cheeks, saying as he did so,

"Sally Stubbs, you are the only one of the kind."

"Mister Rounders," said she, pertly pushing him back, "none of them liberties with me. I may be foolish enough to go into a cage after you, but I'm not foolish enough to suffer them things."

After that there was no performance with the lions for over a week, during which Rounders was despondent. He was still occupied with the extraordinary feat of removing meat from under the jaws of a feeding lion. It pursued him night and day, and he told Miss Stubbs that he would never be happy until he found out the secret.

At length Brinton overtook the company, having come by railway. He was completely restored, and as anxious to begin again as the manager to have him do so. He was informed of the accident which had befallen him who had attempted to walk in his traces. He turned to Rounders saying,

"Now I suppose you'll own that I wanted to do you a good turn."

"I acknowledge it—I was presumptuous and wanted tapping," answered Rounders with proper humility.

"As I told you before," continued Brinton, "I owe you something. Sit down here and let me talk to you."

Brinton picked up a piece of shingle, took out his knife, and whittled as the two sat down together.

"You want to learn the business, but you begin at the wrong end. You don't know much about lion nature, and you want to do the high art in the profession on sight. A man must creep before he can walk. Now, you tried to begin by walking, and you know what came of it."

This was a specimen of a bit of the talk given for the benefit and guidance of the lion-tamer en herbe, and by the time Brinton got through with his advice, his words had a salutary effect, at least for the time being.

There was a smouldering gleam of vengeance in the eye of Brinton when he entered the cage for the first time after his accident, which brightened almost into a flame as he bore down on Brutus with the hot rod. He persistently thrust it at him; the great cog-wheel growls issued from his throat, and he tried to break down the rod with his paw; then he ingloriously fled around the cage as Brinton chased him with his whip. This was accompanied with curses low but intense, which would have shocked the Christian spectators of the assembly had they heard them.

In playing the drama, Brinton took the precaution to have put in the centre of the cage, as part of the decorations, a stump of a tree, which was hollow, and contained a navy revolver and a bowie-knife. When he gave the command to Brutus to leap forward against the spears, Brinton stood alongside of the stump with one hand inside of it, his forefinger playing with the trigger of the revolver. The apprehension of a recurrence of the critical scene which has been narrated was however groundless. Brutus dutifully leaped forward and smashed the brittle spears, without hesitation, and calmly suffered himself to be embraced as a "noble beast" afterward.

The "meat-jerk" was given with the success which usually characterized it in the hands of Brinton, the applause being enthusiastic.

"And yet," said Rounders to Miss Stubbs, as they both stood looking at the performance, "he does it just as I tried to do it. How easy and natural! As he says, it's high art."

"I don't think it's anything to be compared to standin' on my cream-colored horse and jumping through the balloons."

"Ah, Sally Stubbs, we can't see these things with the same eyes," said Rounders, with a sigh.

Miss Stubbs noted that sigh as she had the other sighs to which Rounders gave himself over ever since his failure. She was persuaded that the man was incorrigible, unless that particular mystery was unfolded to him.

One day, as the caravan wound the shoulder of a steep hill, the horses drawing the wagon containing Brutus shied at some object in the woods, which precipitated horses and wagon down an embankment of twelve or fifteen feet. The outside woodwork broke in several places, and the shock knocked the door of the cage open. The driver jumped up unhurt, but consternation was depicted on his face when his eyes turned toward the cage. Brutus was standing on the ground lashing his sides with anger at the bruises which he had received from the fall. Word went along the caravan that the lion was out; all the vehicles stopped, and several of the company's people ran to the brow of the embankment and looked down on the scene of the catastrophe and the infuriated lion. Brinton, who was riding in a buggy a short distance ahead of the wagon of Brutus, jumped out and ran back to the spot where the disaster had just taken place. He held in his hand an ordinary whip used in driving a buggy. With this he approached the angry animal, the people falling back. When he got near him he raised his whip menacingly. The brute made the quick bound for which he is known, and struck him down, his claws sinking deep into vital parts. He called out the name of Brutus with a groan. At this juncture the animal discovered that it was his master, as he quickly snuffed his prostrate person. That day Brinton had put on a new suit of clothes, and when he ran toward the animal it was evident he had not recognized him. Brinton lay unconscious on the ground, the animal not making any further attack after his discovery of the identity. The brute did not betray any sorrow at what he had done, nor did he give any proof of affection. He simply became indifferent, and while he was in this state, Rounders enticed him into another cage by the display of a piece of meat, and as soon as he got him in, he jumped out and locked the door.

The wounded man was picked up and conveyed to a neighboring farmhouse, Rounders being one of those who carried him. In proceeding to the house he revived, and when they reached it, they carefully placed him on a couch. The nearest physician was sent for, he living two or three miles away. Making an effort to control the manifestation of suffering, Brinton requested all to leave the room except Rounders. His request was complied with. He asked Rounders to sit down alongside of him, as he could not speak loud, and he wanted to reserve his strength.

"Jim Rounders," said he with a softened expression of the eyes, "I have something to say to you, and I want to say it before it is too late. There was no use sending for the doctor—I won't be here long."

At this Rounders offered a consolatory word to inspire hope, but Brinton understood with what intent it was uttered and took no notice of it.

"Jim Rounders," pursued he, "I owe you something, and I want to pay you before I die. It's about the 'meat-jerk.'"

Naturally the curiosity of Rounders was eager.

"Like all great inventions," continued the tamer, "it's as simple as A, B, C when you know how it's done."

The secret, as explained by the sinking man, was in substance as follows: It is a work of several months. You begin by giving the lion a large piece of meat, and when he has polished it to the bone, you give another piece, and when he fastens on that you pick up the bone. After awhile you will be able to take the bone from under his mouth as you slip the other piece of meat in its place. In time he gets to know that when you take the first piece away from him, though it should be only half finished, it is to be replaced by a larger piece. Gradually you let a little time pass between the taking away and the giving, which he will get accustomed to. This is the time you bow to the audience as if the feat were finished, and when you give the second piece in an indifferent manner, as if it were of no importance, the public will not see through it.

"Just as you did not see through it," to resume the words of Brinton, "though you watched me like a hawk."

"How simple!" said the enthusiastic listener.

"So simple," continued the wounded man with effort, "I'm sure you wonder to yourself you never thought of it before."

Here he gasped for breath. After a pause he gathered himself together for another effort, and went on.

"You tried it on Pompey. He was never trained, and of course you failed. If you are afraid of handling Brutus, you can train Pompey—as I did Brutus."

The tamer stopped again to get breath, and the pause was longer than those which preceded it. He was weak unto death. The faint reflection of a smile flitted over his features as he said in a hoarse whisper,

"My last performance now—no postponement—on account of the weather."

After another long pause, in the same hoarse whisper, he said,

"This secret—will be a fortune—to you, Jim Rounders. Now shake hands—and let—me die."

And two hands clasped. One was warm, and pulsating with vigorous life, but the other was dead. As Rounders held the lifeless one in his, he resolved to renounce the ungrateful profession; but after the burial of the dead tamer, the ruling passion took possession of him again, and he did not rest until he had performed the "meat-jerk" with Brutus. Indeed, he was not satisfied to walk in the footsteps of Brinton, but became in his turn a creator of a Biblical drama, which he called "Daniel in the Lion's Den."



First I would give thee—nay, I may and will, Thoughts, memory, prayers, a sacred wealth unguessed, My soul's own glad and beautiful bequest, Conveyed in voiceless reverence, deep and still, As angels give their thoughts and prayers to God! Next I would yield, in service freely made, All of my days and years, thy needs to fill; To bear or heavy cross, or thorny rod, Glad of my bondage, deeming it most meet: Oh, mystery of love, as strange as sweet, That love from its own wealth should be repaid! Last, I would give thee, if it pleased thee so, And for thy pleasure, wishing it increased, My woman's beauty, heart and lips aglow; But this, dear, last—so soon its charm must fade, It is, indeed, of all my gifts, the least!



The arraignment of Dr. Slade, the spiritual medium, before a London magistrate, on a charge of vagrancy, suggests the rather trite remark that "history repeats itself."

Spiritualism is literally "as old as the hills." Lying in a manner dormant through long years, it has had its periodical outcroppings; as, when absolutely prohibited by an edict of Israel's first king, B. C. 1060; when it was abjured by the Council of Ancyra of Galatia, in A. D. 314; and again when ranking highest among the popular delusions of a people boasting of their civilization and culture, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-six.

Having its foundations in truth, there have not been found wanting, in the remote past as in the present, unscrupulous persons ready to erect on those foundations the most stupendous frauds.

The mental phenomena which have given rise to what is called spiritualism are daily exhibited in some form or other in the life and experience of almost every one. But the simplest and perhaps the most interesting method of exhibition is by means of the little toy called Planchette; a brief account of some experiments with which will best serve to illustrate the nature of the phenomena in question.

The writer and a lady friend placing the tips of their fingers lightly on the board, the following words were traced on the paper upon which it was placed:

"Have you courage for the future?"

"Will you not faint by the roadside?"

"You will be beset by foes within and without."

"Lions in your pathway."

"Hope and trust—trust—trust."

On being asked to whom this applied, it answered:

"The heart that needs it will understand."

A question was then put by a bystander; but instead of answering, it went on as though continuing the former train of thought:

"Hope and trust. You will have trials you know not of." And again, "Hope and trust."

Here another question was put by a bystander, but instead of answer came the words:

"You will find important letters awaiting you from home. Hope and trust."

I then asked: "To whom are these words addressed?"

Ans.—Soon enough you will know. Hope and trust.

To a question given mentally by a bystander it answered:

"Letters awaiting you. Hope and trust."

Ques.—Letters from whom?

Ans.—Your home and family.

Ques.—From what place?

Ans.—Soon enough you will know.

Ques.—Are they all well at home?

Ans.—With God all things are well.

Not being able to decipher this clearly, it repeated:

"With God all things are well. Trust Him."

I confess to having been impressed with these words, so solemn were they, so oracular, and, as it then appeared, so fitly spoken. At the time of making these experiments I was on board one of the Pacific Mail steamships, on my way to San Francisco; and I had reason to be particularly solicitous in regard to my future. But my companion, in these my first experiments, just entering a new and untried field, had far more cause of anxiety than myself in regard to the future. To her these warnings seemed singularly applicable. Satisfied that my cooperator exercised no voluntary control over the board, absolutely certain the words were not emanations of my own mind, and impelled by curiosity, I determined to try the effect of a few test questions, and, ridiculous as it may appear, ascertain from the instrument itself something of its nature.

Is there any power in Planchette, or is it merely a vehicle? I asked.

Ans.—Inactive bodies have no active agency.

Ques.—Whence come the words of Planchette—whence her intelligence?

Ans.—From the seat of intelligence in the one who commands me.

Ques.—Can you foretell coming events?

Ans.—The future is not made known to man.

Ques.—Can you give information not in the minds of the operators?

Ans.—No, or in the mind of some one who works me.

Ques.—What distinction do you make between the operator and the worker?

Ans.—The worker may be removed from the board.

Ques.—Are you influenced by animal magnetism?


Ques.—Are you influenced by electricity?

Ans.—One and the same.

Ques.—Do the minds of the present operators influence the answers?


Ques.—Is it the result of magnetism?

Ans.—The power of giving out.

Ques.—Giving out what?

Ans.—Yielding magnetism.

Ques.—Which of the operators influences you most?

Ans.—Neither is worth without the other.

Ques.—Have you communications with the spirit world?

Ans.—Disembodied spirits—no.

Ques.—Can you be put to any practical use?

Ans.—Man will be introduced to the world of science.

Ques.—Is your information concerning the ordinary affairs of life of any practical value?

Ans.—Not much, unless the worker is reliable as an informant.

Ques.—What is magnetism?

Ans.—Magnetism is the force of the universe.

Ques.—What is electricity?

Ans.—Electricity is the outward expression of the hidden force.

Ques.—Has magnetism or electricity anything to do with the polarity of the needle?

Ans.—The interchange of magnetism throughout the entire universe.

Ques.—Give a more definite answer.

Ans.—Currents are exchanged from earth to air and from planet to planet.

Ques.—Do these affect the mariner's compass?


Ques.—Can we control the local attraction of the compass?


Ques.—How? I exclaimed excitedly, as the thought flashed through my mind that I was on the eve of a great discovery.

Ans.—By the substitution of some other attractive force?

Ques.—Name one.

Ans.—Magnetized iron.[3]

Ques.—Can the compass be so constructed as to be uninfluenced by local attraction?

Ans.—No, inasmuch as all surroundings are themselves magnets or the mediums of conveyance.

Ques.—Can the approach of storms be foretold by the amount of electricity in the air?

Ans.—Storms are the disturbance of the equilibrium, and therefore can be foretold when the atmospherical balance is understood.

Ques.—Can you give information not in the minds of the operators?

Ans.—Planchette is a tool, and does nothing of herself.

Ques.—A tool in the hands of whom?

Ans.—Of those who work her.[4]

Now if these various answers came from the minds of the "workers," we were asking questions which we ourselves were answering, we will say, unawares, out of the depths of our consciousness. As a seeker after truth, therefore, I became as much involved as the dreamer spoken of by Jeremy Taylor in one of his sermons. A man who implicitly believed in dreams, he relates—in effect—dreamed one night that all dreams were false. "If," reasoned he on awakening, "dreams are indeed false, then is this one false; therefore they are true. But if, as I have always supposed, they are true, then is this dream true; therefore they must be false."

Planchette's oracular sayings became famous among the passengers who thronged the room to hear its predictions and to ask questions. The trip to which I refer was made in the early part of November, 1868, while the Presidential election was in progress, and there was naturally great curiosity on the part of the passengers to know how their several States had voted.

Of the six States asked about, Planchette gave the majority in figures for one candidate or the other. On comparing these figures subsequently with the published returns, it was found that not one answer was correct—not a single answer was even approximately true.

There was a certain shipmaster on board who had left his vessel in Rio Janeiro, with directions to the mate to bring her to San Francisco, by way of Cape Horn. The oracle was consulted as to the position of the ship at that particular time. Without a moment's hesitation, the latitude and longitude of the vessel were given, placing her somewhere off Valparaiso (Chili). "That's just where I put her!" cried the master with an ejaculation of unfeigned surprise. On reaching San Francisco shortly after, the vessel was discovered quietly tied up at one of the wharves. I found too, on landing, that the prophecy, "You will find important letters awaiting you from home," was not fulfilled, neither in my case nor in that of the other "worker."

Now in the case of putting down the position of the merchant vessel, the "worker" who was operating with me at the time did not know how to plot the position of a ship at sea, after the manner of seamen; and although the method of stating a ship's position was perfectly familiar to me, yet I anticipated that the answer in regard to her would have been given in general and indefinite terms. What was my astonishment, then, to find distinctly written out, "Latitude 35 deg. 30 min. S.; longitude 98 deg. 40 min. W." True this position was about four thousand miles out of the way, but where did the answer, such as it was, come from?

Continued experiments proved that in every instance where Planchette attempted to foretell an event, it failed ignominiously; and while it replied to questions with the utmost effrontery, it was rarely correct, unless indeed, as it shrewdly said itself, "the worker was reliable as an informant."

Many months after these experiments, I found myself on the shores of southern France. Here my associations were entirely different from those I had known in the far-off Pacific, and, desirous of ascertaining how Planchette would comport itself under the change of conditions, I essayed further trials.

It will be sufficient to give one example of the answers given:

"What should one do," it was asked, "when life becomes unbearable?" The answer was contained in one word, but written in such a scrawl as to be illegible. The question was repeated, when the same word apparently was written in reply, but still illegible. The question was put a third time, when Planchette, with great energy, wrote in bold characters, and distinct, the word PRAY. On comparing this with the former answers, they were found to be the same.

The question, however, is not as to the degree of faith to be placed in the words of Planchette, but why should it write at all?

In attempting to answer this question, I shall confine myself mainly to the field of daily experience, and draw illustrations from such works only as are familiar to the great majority of readers.

Our twofold nature has often been noticed and commented upon. It has been said that we are possessed of two separate and distinct characters: the outward, which we present to the world, and with which we are in some degree familiar ourselves, and that inner, deeper part of which we know so little.

St. Paul reveals the existence of our dual nature when he exclaims with passionate fervor, "The good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that do I. I delight in the law of God after the inner man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind." Xenophon gives, in the Cyropedia, a remarkable speech, expressing almost precisely the same idea. Araspes, a young nobleman of Media, is overwhelmed with mortification on being detected by Cyrus in an indiscretion in regard to a captive princess. Chided by Cyrus, "Alas," said he, "now I am come to a knowledge of myself, and find most plainly that I have two souls: one that inclines me to good, another that incites me to evil ..."—the animal versus the spiritual nature, referred to by St. Paul.

In another place St. Paul, speaking of the "Word of God," says it is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow...." Heb. iv. 12. Hence we may term the two elements of our duality soul and spirit, they being two separate and distinct entities.

The learned Doctor Whedon, in commenting on the forty-fourth verse of the fifteenth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, where the great apostle speaks of the resurrection, says the expression natural body, as distinct from spiritual body, fails utterly to convey to the mind of the English reader the apostle's true idea. "If," he says, "we assume a difference between soul and spirit, and coin the word soulical as the antithesis of spiritual, we present his exact idea. The Greek word psyche, soul or life, when used as antithetical to pneuma, spirit, signifies that animating, formative, and thinking soul or anima which belongs to the animal, and which man, as animal, shares as his lower nature with other animals. Its range is within the limits of the five senses, within which limits it is able to think and to reason. Such is the power of the highest animals. Overlying this is the spirit which man shares with higher natures, by which thought transcends the range of the senses, and man thinks of immensity, eternity, infinity, immortality, the beautiful, the holy, and God—it is certain that man's mind possesses both these classes or sets of thought." Now in regard to the higher of these elements, there are very many well authenticated cases where the extreme susceptibility of the mind (the seat of these elements) to outward impressions, and the reaction of the mental sensation on the nervous system, has led to the most singular and, in some instances, even fatal results. So marvellously delicate is this portion of our organization, that we are not always conscious of this reaction, and as the reaction is conveyed from the nerve centres to the muscular tissue, we actually find ourselves uttering words or making motions unconsciously. So sensitive is the brain through the influence of this higher nature, so subtle its functions, that it is often impressed by means indiscernible to the bodily eye or to the ordinary senses—by means just as mysterious as the action of magnetic attraction or the course of the electric wave.

Byron alludes to this exquisite susceptibility with no less of truth than beauty:

And slight withal may be the things which bring Back on the heart the weight which it would fling Aside for ever; it may be a sound, A tone of music, summer's eve or spring, A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound, Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound.

And how or why we know not, nor can trace Home to its cloud this lightning of the wind ...

Having referred to the reaction of a mental sensation on the nervous system, let us now examine the course by which the reaction proceeds.

We are told by physiologists that stimuli applied to the nerves in certain cases induce contraction or motion in the muscles by direct conduction of a stimulus along a nerve, or by the conduction of a stimulus to a nervous centre, whence it is reflected along another nerve to the muscles. Not only mechanical and electrical, but psychical stimuli "excite the nerves, whether these are ideational, emotional, or volitional. They proceed from the brain, being themselves sometimes induced by external causes, and sometimes originating primarily in the great nervous centres from the operations of the instinct, the memory, the reason, or the will."

When a stimulus of any kind, whether mechanical, chemical, electrical, or vital, acts upon the living nervous substance, it produces an impression on that nerve substance and excites within it some particular change, and the property by which this takes place in the nerve substance has been called its excitability or neurility. But the nerve substance not only receives such an impression from a stimulus and is excited to such a change, but it possesses the property of conducting that impression in certain definite directions, and this property might be spoken of as conductility.

When such an impression is thus conducted simply along a nerve fibre, and thence to a muscle, it induces or excites, as we have seen, the contraction of that muscle, and so exercises what is called a motor function.

The nerve cells appear to possess, beyond the simple excitability to general stimuli, conductility, and the peculiar receptivity which is essential to sensation, a special or more exalted kind of excitability which is called into play under mental or psychical stimuli by the changes produced in the gray matter[5] in the formation of ideas, emotions, and the will.[6]

Now if two sympathetic nerve systems operated upon by psychical stimuli be directed to one and the same point, it is by no means difficult to understand how the brains belonging to those systems may be brought into telegraphic communication by means of the nerve fibres, the product of the two minds evolved, and the resultant idea, by means of a simple mechanical contrivance operated upon by the motor function already explained, be transmitted to paper by the process of writing so familiar to both. The action of the psychical stimuli on the nerve fibre, and its transmission thence to the muscles resulting in the movement of the board, is so subtle that we ourselves are not aware of its operation except through the results produced.

It has just been said that two minds may be brought into telegraphic communication by means of nerve fibres. Let us see how far the expression is justified by facts. There are few of us who have not experienced the truth of Solomon's saying that "if two persons lie together, they have heat; but how can one be warm alone?" Even the close proximity of two persons affects their respective temperatures, and heat and motion we know to be correlative. It has been shown by the physicist that mechanical force producing motion is correlative with and convertible into heat, heat into chemical force, chemical force into electrical force, and electrical force into magnetic force. Moreover, that each of these is correlative and convertible into the other, all being thus interchangeable.

"Now it is not to be supposed that the force acting in a nerve is identical with electrical force, nor yet a peculiar kind of electricity, nor even physically induced by it, as magnetism may be, but that in the special action of the living nerve a force is generated peculiar to that tissue, which is so correlated with electricity that an equivalent of the one may in some yet unknown manner excite, give rise to, or even be converted into the other. In this concatenation of the several forces of nature, physical and vital, the force acting in a nerve may also be correlated with chemical force, with the heat developed in the muscle, and even with the peculiar molecular motions which produce muscular contraction and all its accompanying physical and mechanical consequences." If, then, two brains, one in London and one in New York, may be brought into communication with each other through their respective nerve systems and the common medium of the electric wire, and both brought to bear on one idea—say the rate of exchange, consols, or the price of gold—is it to be wondered at that two other brains, in close proximity, may be brought into communication through the media of the nerve fibres which are operated upon by a force so similar to that which courses along the electric wire? Or is it strange that the two sympathetic minds—two minds having a strong affinity for each other—should combine and generate ideas? and having produced them, is it strange they should give them expression in writing? Before the days of Franklin, this might indeed appear strange, but it surely cannot be so considered now.

Such, then, is the rationale of what may be termed the automatic writing, by means of Planchette, and such writing is simply a manifestation of what has been named psychic force. Whether operated by one or two persons, the rationale is the same.

There is reason to believe that the phenomenon just explained was known to the ancients, and that it was the origin of the oracles which formed so important a feature, at one period, in the history of Greece; such, for example, as the "Whispering Groves of Dodona," and the yet more famous oracle of Delphi.[7] It is worthy of remark that these oracles were not established at the first by the Greeks themselves. They were of foreign origin, having been first introduced from Egypt, then the seat of learning.

The secret of psychic force having been once discovered, it may easily be conceived how it would be seized upon as a means of communicating, as the pagans supposed, with beings of another world, and how readily the more enlightened and designing would avail themselves of it as a means to practise upon the credulity of a superstitious people. Such were the cunning priesthood in the temples of pagan worship. They were quick to take advantage of a discovery that offered so powerful a leverage, and having once secured its services, they did not scruple to shape the utterances to suit their own selfish ends. Frequently their answers were so framed as to admit of a double interpretation.

Croesus consulted the oracle of Delphi on the success that would attend his invasion of the Medes. He was told that by passing the river Halys a great empire would be ruined. He crossed, and the fall of his own empire fulfilled the prophecy. Sometimes they were couched in vague and mysterious terms, leaving those who solicited advice to put whatever construction upon them their hopes or fears suggested. Compare, for example, the first specimen of writing given in this article with the descriptions we read in ancient history of the utterances of the Delphic oracle. How vague and indefinite are its warnings! and then the continual recurrence of the solemn admonition, "Hope and trust"—does it not seem prophetic of some evil hour, when all one's hope and faith were to be tried to the utmost?

Suppose these words had been addressed to a superstitious person by the priestess of a temple situated in the deep recesses of a dense forest, among the toppling crags of some lofty mountain range, or near the gloomy habitations of the dead: it could not have failed of making a serious impression upon the mind. It was thus that the pagan priesthood threw about their oracles everything that could inspire the mind of the visitor with a sense of awe. We are told that the "sacred tripod" was placed over the mouth of a cave whence proceeded a peculiar exhalation.

On this tripod sat the Pythia—the priestess of Apollo—who, having caught the inspiration, pronounced her oracles in extempore prose or verse. The cave and the exhalations were mere accessories, stage properties as it were, the more readily to impose upon those who came to consult the oracle. So of the "sacred tripod," which was the symbol merely of the real instrument which had given birth to this system of fraud.

Planchette, the "sacred tripod" of the ancients, uses language of various styles. Sometimes it will not deign to speak at all; sometimes its answers are vague and unmeaning; sometimes singularly concise and pertinent.

A very striking point of similarity is the occasional irrelevancy of the answers. Tisamenus, soothsayer to the Greek army, consulted the oracle at Delphi concerning his lack of offspring, when he was told by the Pythia that he would win five glorious combats; and when Battus asked about his voice he was told "to establish a city in Libya abounding in fleeces." Such freaks are common with the modern Pythia. The resemblance is complete.

It is to the development of psychical force, as shown by Planchette, that the phenomena known as mesmerism and the so-called spiritualism are undoubtedly due. In some persons this force is found to exist abnormally, when its manifestations are certainly extraordinary. The trouble is that we are not always satisfied with its feeble and uncertain utterances, and are too often impelled by cupidity or other equally unworthy motive to practise the charlatanism of the crafty priests of old.

In the time of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean priesthood, the magicians and astrologers, and those who had understanding in all visions and dreams, possessed all the learning of the known world. Much of their learning was transmitted to Egypt and thence to Greece, but much of it we know was lost to the world. From all that we can gather now, however, we may feel assured that they were not ignorant of the existence of what has been termed psychic force, or a sixth sense, or unconscious cerebration (for our terminology in all speculations bordering: on the "unknowable" must necessarily be uncertain), and as a neighboring people, the Israelites, communicated with their God through that medium, they supposed, as was natural, that they could communicate with their gods in the same way. And they were perfectly sincere in that belief. But in the process of time and migration the theology of the Greeks came to bear little resemblance to that of the Chaldeans. The dignity of the priestly office and the influence of the priesthood became greatly diminished. That the religion of these several nations had one common origin, and that the priests and prophets of God's chosen people had many imitators among other nations, there is abundant proof.

The story of the origin of the Pythia, for example, contains points not without resemblance to certain passages in our own early sacred history. The Son of God is at enmity with the serpent; the serpent pursues a woman, and is trodden under foot by the Son. Zeus is the god of the Greeks; Apollo is his son; Leto—or Latona—is pursued by Python, the serpent, and is slain by Apollo. To commemorate this deed a temple was erected at Delhi to Apollo, and the priestess was called the Pythia. Regarded as the symbol of wisdom by the Egyptians, the serpent came to be considered by the Greeks as representing the principle of evil.[8] Ages before this, however, the history of our first parents, the temptation, and the fall, and the prophecy that the Son should bruise the serpent's head, had been recorded. The wonderful Chaldeans too had mapped out the same story among the eternal stars, their great designs being still traceable on the celestial globes of our common schools.

But the intellectual Greek was not long to be imposed upon. Men who could discourse on the immortality of the soul had not much faith in the nonsense often put forth by a priestess of Apollo. Themistocles made a tool of the oracle in order to serve his own purposes, and Demosthenes publicly denounced it. Convinced that the oracle was subsidized by Philip of Macedon, and instructed to speak in his favor, he boldly declared that the Pythia philippized, and bade the Athenians and Thebans remember that "Pericles and Epaminondas, instead of listening to the frivolous answers of the oracle, the resort of the ignorant and cowardly, consulted only reason in the choice of their measures."

Had there been a London magistrate at hand in the days of the great Athenian orator, it would certainly have gone hard with the poor Pythia.

No observer of human nature can doubt that we are bound by an "electric chain," and that we are liable to impressions, the sources of which are often unknown to us. Nor can we doubt that there have been abnormally sensitive persons, like Swedenborg, whose receptivity was such that the brain could be impressed by means which would entirely fail with the normal brain. But in respect to the professional mediums, notwithstanding the antiquity of the class and their many advocates, it remains to be shown where they have been of the slightest practical utility, or served any good or useful end. Nay more. It remains to be shown wherein the modern medium is entitled to a particle more of respect than the medium of Endor.



[3] This answer is the more remarkable from the fact that my mind was intent upon the revelation of some new theory, while the other operator was not at all familiar with the subject. The simplicity of the answer, and its statement of what had been the common practice for years past, made me feel for the moment that I had been very cleverly hoaxed.

[4] In every instance the writing of Planchette has been copied verbatim.

[5] The gray matter of the nervous centres, the precise nature of which is unknown.

[6] "Outlines of Physiology."

[7] There is no doubt that spirit-writing is very ancient, China alone furnishing sufficient evidence of the fact.

"Spirit-writing," says Taylor, "is of two kinds, according as it is done with or without a material instrument. The first kind is in full practice in China, where, like other rites of divination, it is probably ancient. It is called 'descending of the pencil,' and is especially used by the literary classes. When a Chinese wishes to consult a god in this way, he sends for a professional medium. Before the image of the god are set candles and incense, and an offering of tea or mock money. In front of this on another table is placed an oblong tray of dry sand. The writing instrument is a V-shaped wooden handle, two or three feet long, with a wooden tooth fixed at its point. Two persons hold this instrument, each grasping one leg of it, and the point resting on the sand. Proper prayers and charms induce the god to manifest his presence by a movement of the point in the sand, and thus the response is written, and there only remains the somewhat difficult and doubtful task of deciphering it...."—"Primitive Culture." By Ed. B. Taylor. Vol. I., p. 133.

[8] The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field; "Be ye wise as serpents."—Bible.



Here's yer toy balloons! All sizes. Twenty cents for that. It rises Jest as quick as that 'ere, Miss, Twice as big. Ye see it is Some more fancy. Make it square Fifty for 'em both. That's fair.

That's the sixth I've sold since noon. Trade's reviving. Just as soon As this lot's worked off I'll take Wholesale figgers. Make or break, That's my motto! Then I'll buy In some first-class lottery: One half ticket, numbered right— As I dreamed about last night.

That'll fetch it. Don't tell me! When a man's in luck, you see, All things help him. Every chance Hits him like an avalanche. Here's your toy balloons, Miss. Eh? You won't turn your face this way? Mebbe you'll be glad some day!

With that clear ten-thousand prize This yer trade I'll drop, and rise Into wholesale. No! I'll take Stocks in Wall street. Make or break, That's my motto! With my luck, Where's the chance of being stuck? Call it Sixty Thousand, clear, Made in Wall street in one year.

Sixty thousand! Umph! Let's see. Bond and mortgage'll do for me. Good. That gal that passed me by Scornful like—why, mebbe I Some day'll hold in pawn—why not?— All her father's prop. She'll spot What's my little game, and see What I'm after's her. He! he!

He! he! When she comes to sue— Let's see. What's the thing to do? Kick her? No! There's the perliss! Sorter throw her off like this! Hello! Stop! Help! Murder! Hey! There's my whole stock got away! Kiting on the house tops! Lost! All a poor man's fortin! Cost? Twenty dollars! Eh! What's this? Fifty cents! God bless ye, Miss!




The career of the Abbe Gerard had been an eminently successful one—successful in every way; and even he himself was forced to acknowledge it to be so as he reviewed his past life, sitting by a blazing fire in his comfortable apartment in the Rue Miromeuil previous to dressing for the Duc de Frontignan's dinner-party. Born of poor parents in the south of France, entering the priesthood at an early age, having received but a meagre education, and that chiefly confined to a superficial knowledge of the most elementary treatises on theology, he had, in twenty-five years, and solely by his own exertions, unaided by patronage, obtained a most desirable berth in one of the leading Paris churches, thereby becoming the recipient of a handsome salary and being enabled to indulge his tastes as a dilettante and homme du monde. The few hours snatched from those absorbed by his parochial duties he had ever devoted to study, and his application and determination had borne him golden fruit. Moreover, he had so cultivated his mind, and made such good use of the rare opportunities afforded him in early life of associating with gentlemen, that when now at length he found his presence in demand at every house in the "Faubourg" where wit and graceful learning were appreciated, no one would ever have suspected he had not been bred according to the strictest canons of social refinement.

But in his upward progress such had been his experience of life that when, during the brief intervals of breathing time he allowed himself, he would look below and above, he was forced to confess that at every step a belief, an illusion had been destroyed and trodden under foot, and he would wonder, while bracing himself for a new effort, how it would all end, and whether the mitre he lusted for would not after all, perhaps, be placed upon a head that doubted even the existence of a God. He was not a bad man, but merely one of that class who have embraced the priesthood merely as a means of raising themselves from obscurity to eminence, and have in their intercourse with the world discovered many flaws and blemishes in what they may at one time have considered perfect. When his reason rejected many of the fables hitherto cherished and believed in, the Abbe Gerard was at the beginning inclined to abandon in despair the attempt to discern the true from the false, and this all the more that he saw the time thus spent was, in a worldly sense, but wasted, and that the good things of this world come to such reapers as gather wheat and tares alike, well knowing there is a market for them both.

During a certain period, therefore, of his struggle upward, while his worldly ambition was aiding by sly insinuations and comparisons the deadly work already begun by the destruction of his dreams, Henri Gerard was nigh being an atheist. But the nature of the man was too finely sensual for this phase to be lasting, and when at length he found himself so far successful in his worldly aspirations as to be tolerably sure of their complete fulfilment; when at length he found time to examine spiritual matters apart from their direct bearing upon his social altitude, his aesthetic sense—which by this time had necessarily developed—he was struck by the exquisite beauty of Christianity, and thus, as a shallow philosophy had nearly induced him to become an atheist, a deep and sensual spirit of sentimentality nearly made him a Christian. His Madonna was the Madonna of Raphael, not that of Albert Duerer: the woman whose placid grace of countenance creates an emotion more subtly voluptuous than desire; not she in whose face can be discerned the human mother of the Man of Sorrows and of Him divinely acquainted with all grief. The Holy Spirit he adored was not the Friend of the broken-hearted or the Healer of the blind Bartimoeus, but He "who feedeth among the lilies"—the Alpha and Omega of all aesthetic conception. Christianity he looked upon as the highest moral expression of artistic perfection, and he regarded it with the same admiration he accorded to the Antinous and the Venus of Milo. He was not, however, by nature a pagan as some men are—men who, in the words of De Musset, "Sont venu trop tard dans un monde trop vieux"; but the atmosphere in which his early years had been spent had been so antagonistic to the impulses of his nature, his inner life had been so cramped in and starved, that when at length the key of gold opening the prison door let in the outer air, his spirit revelled in all the wild extravagance so often accompanying sudden and long wished-for emancipation. His nature was perhaps not one that could have been attuned to a perfect harmony with that of a Greek or Roman of the golden days, but one better calculated to enjoy the hybrid atmosphere of the Italian Renaissance; and he would have been in his element in the Rucellai Gardens, conversing with feeble little Cosimino, or laughing with Buondelmonte and Luigi Alamanni. He did not believe in the narrative of the Bible, but its precepts and tendencies he appreciated and admired, although, it must be confessed, he did not always put himself out to follow them. In his heart he utterly rejected all idea of a future life, since it was incompatible with his conception of the artistic unity of this; but he would blandly acknowledge to himself that there are perhaps things we cannot comprehend, and that beauty may have no term. He assimilated, so far as in him lay, his duties as a priest with his ideas as a man of culture; and his sermons were ever of love; sermons which, winged as they were with impassioned eloquence, were deservedly popular with all: from the scholar, who delighted in them as intellectual feasts, to the fashionable Paris woman of the second empire, who was enchanted at finding in the quasi-fatalistic and broadly charitable views enunciated therein means whereby her vulgar amours might be considered in a light more pleasing to herself and more consoling to her husband.

On the Sunday afternoon preceding the evening on which we introduce him to the reader the Abbe had departed from his usual custom, and, by especial request of his cure, had preached a most remarkable sermon upon the Personality of Satan. It is a vulgar error to suppose that men succeed best when their efforts are enlivened by a real belief in the matter in hand. Not only some men have such a superabundance of fervid imagination that they can, for the time being, provoke themselves into a pseudo belief in what they know in their saner moments to be false, but moreover a large class of men are endowed with minds so restless and so finely strung that they can play with a sophism with marvellous dexterity and skill, while lacking that vigorous and comprehensive grasp of mind which the lucid exposition of a hidden truth necessitates. The Abbe Gerard belonged a little to both these classes of beings; and moreover, his vanity as an intellectual man provoked him to extraordinary exertions in cases wherein he fancied he might win for himself the glory of strengthening and verifying matters which in themselves perhaps lacked almost the elements of existence. "Spiritual truths," he once cynically remarked to Sainte-Beuve, whom, by the way, he detested, "will take care of themselves; it is the nursing of spiritual falsehood which needs all the care of the clergy." On the Sunday in question he had surpassed himself. With biting irony he had annihilated the disbelievers in Divine punishment, and then, with persuasive and overwhelming eloquence, he had urged the necessity of believing not only in hell, but in the personality of the Prince of Evil. Women had fainted in their terror; men had been frightened into seeking the convenient solace of the confessional, and the Archbishop had written him a letter of the warmest thanks.

It was a triumph which a man of the nature of the Abbe Gerard particularly enjoyed. The idea of finding himself the successful reviver of an inanimate doctrine, while secretly conscious that he was, in reality, a skeptic in matters of dogmatically vital importance, was to a mind so prone to delight in paradoxes eminently agreeable. It pleased him to see the letter of the Archbishop lying upon a volume of Strauss, and to read the glowing and extravagant praise lavished on him in the pages of the "Univers" after having enjoyed a sparkling draught of Voltaire.

Such was the Abbe Gerard—the type of a class. The Duc de Frontignan, with whom he was dining on the evening this story opens, was or rather is in many ways a no less remarkable personage in Paris society. Possessing rank, birth, and a splendid income, he had inherited more than a fair share of the good gifts of Providence, being endowed not only with considerable mental power, but with the tact to use that power to the best advantage. Although beyond doubt clever, he was universally esteemed a much more intellectual man than he really was, and this through no voluntary deceitfulness on his part, but owing to a method he had unconsciously adopted of exhibiting his wares with their most favorable aspect to the front. He was well read, but not deeply read, and yet all Paris considered him a profound scholar; he was quick and epigrammatic in his appreciation and expression of ideas, as men of cultivation and varied experience are apt to be, but he enjoyed the reputation of being a wit, and finally having merely lounged through the world, impelled by a spirit of restlessness, begotten of great wealth and idleness, society looked upon him as a bold and adventurous traveller. One gift he most certainly possessed: he was vastly amusing and entertaining, and resembled in one respect the Abbe Galiani, as described by Diderot; for he was indeed "a treasure on rainy days, and if the cabinet-makers made such things, everybody would have one in the country." He not only knew everybody in Paris, but he possessed an extraordinary faculty of drawing people out, and forcing them to make themselves amusing. No man was in his society long before he discovered himself openly discussing his most cherished hobby, or airily scattering as seed for trivial conversation the fruit of long years of experience and reflection. His hotel in the Rue de Varenne was the resort of all that was most remarkable and extraordinary in the fashionable, the artistic, the diplomatic, and the scientific world. His intimacy with the Abbe Gerard was one of long standing: they mutually amused each other; the keen intellect of the priest found much that was interesting in the shallow but attractive and brilliant nature of the layman; while the Duke entertained feelings of the warmest admiration for a man who, having risen from nothing, enlivened the most exclusive coteries with his graceful learning and charming wit.

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