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PROFESSOR OF MESMERISM.
ELLEN had already been long enough from home to incur the
chance of exciting surprise or alarm at her absence; she was therefore compelled
to postpone her visit to the Professor of Mesmerism until the following day.
On her return to the Place, after an absence of nearly three
hours, her fears were to some extent realised, her father being uneasy at her
disappearance for so long a period. She availed herself of this opportunity to
acquaint Mr. Monroe with her anxiety to devote her talents to some useful
purpose, in order to earn at least sufficient to supply them both with clothes,
and thus spare as much as possible the purse of their benefactor. Her father
highly approved of this laudable aim and Ellen assured him that one of the
families, for whom she had once worked at the West End, had promised to engage
her as a teacher of music and drawing for a few hours every week. It will be
recollected that the old man had invariably been led to believe that his
daughter was occupied in private houses with her needle, when she was really in
the service of the statuary, the artist, the sculptor, and the photographer : he
therefore now readily put faith in the tale which Ellen told him, and even
undertook not only to communicate her intention to Markham, but also to prevent
him from throwing any obstacle in its way. This task the old man accomplished
that very day; and thus Ellen triumphed over the chief difficulty which she bad
foreseen-namely, that of accounting for the frequent absence from home which her
new pursuits would render imperative. And this duplicity towards her sire she
practised without a blush. Oh! what a wreck of virtue and chastity had the mind
of that young female become!
The Professor of Mesmerism occupied a handsome suite of
apartments in New Burlington Street. He was a man of about fifty, of
prepossessing exterior, elegant manners, and intelligent mind. He spoke English
fluently, and was acquainted with many continental languages besides his own.
It was mid-day when Miss Monroe was ushered into his
The Professor was evidently struck by the beauty of her
appearance; but he held her virtue at no high estimation, in consequence of the
source of her recommendation to him. Little cared he, however, whether she were
a paragon of moral excellence, or an example of female degradation: his
connexion with her was to be based upon a purely commercial ground; and he
accordingly set about an explanation of his views and objects. Ellen listened
with attention, and agreed to become the patient of the mesmerist.
Thus, having sold her countenance to the statuary, her
likeness to the artist, her bust to the sculptor, her entire form to the
photographer, and her virtue to a libertine, she disposed of her dreams to the
Several days were spent in taking lessons and studying her
part, under the tutelage of the Professor. She was naturally of quick
comprehension; sad this practice was easy to her. Her initiation was therefore
soon complete; and the Professor a length resolved upon giving a private
exhibition of "the truths of Mesmerism practically illustrated" to a
few friends. Ellen took a feigned name; and all the preliminary arrangements
The memorable evening arrived; and by eight o'clock the
Professor's drawing-room was filled with certain select individuals, all of whom
were favourably incline towards the "science of Mesmerism." Some of
them, indeed, were perfectly enthusiastic in behalf of this newly-revived
doctrine. The reporters of the press were rigidly excluded from this meeting,
with two or three exceptions in favour of journals which were known to be
friendly to the principle of Animal Magnetism.
When the guests were thus assembled, Ellen was led into the
apartment. She was desired to seat herself comfortably in an easy aim-chair; and
the Professor then commenced his manipulations, "with a view to produce
coma, or mesmeric sleep." In about five minutes Ellen sank back, apparently
in a profound sleep, with the eyes tightly closed.
The Professor then expatiated upon the truths of the science
of Mesmerism; and the assembled guests eagerly drank in every word he uttered.
At length he touched upon Clairvoyance, which he explained in the
"Clairvoyance, "he said, "is the most extraordinary result
of Animal Magnetism. It enables the person magnetised to foretel events relating
both to themselves and others; to describe places which they have never visited,
and houses the interior of which they have never seen; to read books opened and
held behind their heads; to delineate the leading points of pictures in a
similar position; to read a letter through its envelope; to describe the motions
or actions of a person in another room, with a wall intervening; and to narrate
events passing in far distant places."
The Professor then proposed to give practical illustrations
of the phenomena which he had just described.
The visitors were now all on the tiptoe of expectation; and
the reporters prepared their note-books. Meantime Ellen remained apparently
wrapped up in a profound slumber; and more than one admiring glance was turned
upon her beautiful classic features and the exuberant richness of her bust.
"I shall now question the patient," said the
Professor, "in a manner which will prove the first phenomenon of
clairvoyance; namely, the power of foretelling events relative to themselves
He paused for a moment, performed a few more manipulations,
and then said, "Can you tell me any thing its reference to future events
which are likely to happen to myself?"
"Within a week from this moment you will hear of the
death of a relation! " replied Ellen in slow and measured terms.
"Of what sex is that relation?"
"A lady: she is now dangerously ill."
"How old is she?"
"Between sixty and seventy. I can see her lying upon her
sick-couch with two doctors by her side. She has just undergone a most painful
"it is perfectly true," whispered the Professor to
his friends, "that I have an aunt of that age; but I am not aware that she
is even ill - much less at the point of death."
"It is wonderful - truly wonderful!" exclaimed
several voices, in a perfect enthusiasm of admiration.
[-261-] "Let us now test
her in reference to the second phenomenon I mentioned," said the Professor;
"which will show the power of describing places she has never visited,
and houses whose interiors she has never seen."
"Ah! that will be curious, indeed," cried several
"Perhaps you, Mr. Wilmot," said the Professor,
addressing a gentleman standing next to him, "will have the kindness to
examine the patient relative to your own abode."
· "Certainly," replied Mr. Wilmot; then, turning
towards Ellen, he said, "Will you visit me at my house ? "
"With much pleasure, was her immediate answer."
"Where is it situated?"
"In Park Lane."
"Come in with me. What do you see?"
"A splendid hall, with a marble table between two
pillars on one side, and a wide flight of stairs, also of marble, on the
"Come with me into the dining room of my house. Now what
do you see?"
"Seven large pictures."
"Where are the windows?"
"There are three at the bottom of the room."
"What colour are the curtains?"
"A rich red."
" What is the subject of the large picture facing the
"The battle of Trafalgar."
"How do you know it is that battle?"
"Because I can read on the flag of one of the ships the
words, 'England expects that every man will do his duty.' "
"I shall not ask her any more questions," said Mr.
Wilmot, evidently quite amazed by these answers. "Every one of her replies
is true to the very letter. And I think," he added, turning towards the
other guests, "that you all know me well enough to believe me, when I
declare most solemnly that this young person has never, to my knowledge, been in
my house in her life."
A murmur of satisfaction arose amongst the guests, who were
all perfectly astounded at the phenomena now illustrated - although they had
come, as before said, with a predisposition in favour of Mesmerism.
"We will have another proof yet," said the
Professor. "Perhaps Mr. Parke will have the kindness to question the
Mr. Parke stepped forward, and said, "Will you do me the
favour to walk with me to my house."
"Thank you, I will," answered Ellen, still
apparently remaining in a profound mesmeric sleep.
"Where is my house?"
"In Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square."
"How many windows has it in front?"
"Where are the two statues of Napoleon?"
"In the library."
"What else do you see in that room?"
"Immense quantities of books on shelves in glass
"Are there any pictures?"
" Yes - seven."
"What is the subject of the one over the
"A beautiful view of London, by moonlight, from one of
"Wonderful!" ejaculated Mr. Parke. "All she
has said is perfectly correct. It is not necessary to ask her any more questions
on this subject."
"Gentlemen," said the Professor, casting a
triumphant glance around him, " I am dehighted to perceive that you are
satisfied with this mode of illustrating the phenomena of clairvoyance. I will
now prove to you that the patient can read a book held open behind her head."
He then performed some more manipulations to plunge his
patient into as deep a mesmeric sleep as possible, although she had given no
symptom of an inclination to awake throughout the preceding examination. Having
thus confirmed, as he said, her perfect state of coma, the Professor took up a
book - apparently pitched upon at random amongst a heap of volumes upon the
table; and, holding it open behind the head of the patient, he said, "What
"A book," was the immediate reply.
"Milton's Paradise Lost."
"At what page have I opened it?"
"I can read pages 110 and 111."
"Read a few lines."
Ellen accordingly repeated the following passage in a slow
and beautifully mellifluous tone
"Now morn, her rosy steps in th'
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam waked, so 'customed, for his sleep
Was airy light, from pure digestion bred,
And temperate vapours bland, which th' only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on every bough."*
[*Commencement of Book V.]
" That is sufficient," cried
several voices. " Do not fatigue her. We are perfectly satisfied, it is
really marvellous. Who will now dare to doubt the phenomena of clairvoyance?"
"Let us take a picture," said the Professor; "and
she will delineate all the leading points in it."
The mesmerist took an engraving from a portfolio, and held it
behind Ellen's head.
"What is this?" he demanded.
"What is the subject?"
"I do not know the subject; but I can see two figures in
the fore-ground, with a camel. The back-ground has elevated buildings. Oh! now I
can see it plainer; it is a scene in Egypt; and those buildings are the
"Extraordinary!" cried Mr Wilmot.
"And that little hesitation was a proof of the fact that
she could really see the picture," added Mr. Parke.
"Wonderful! extraordinary!" exclaimed numerous
At this moment a servant entered the room and delivered a
letter to his master, the Professor, stating that it had just been left by a
friend from Paris.
The mesmerist was about to open it, when a sudden idea seemed
to strike him.
"Gentlemen," he exclaimed, throwing the letter upon
the table, "the arrival of this missive affords me an opportunity of
proving another phenomenon belonging to clairvoyance. The patient shall read
this letter through the envelope."
"But if its contents be private?" said a guest.
"Then I am surrounded by gentlemen of honour, who will
not publish those contents," returned the professor with a smile.
A murmur of approbation welcomed this happy compliment of the
The mesmerist held the letter at a short distance
[-262-] from Ellen's countenance, and said, "What is
"A letter," she replied. "It is written in
" Read it," cried the mesmerist.
"The writing is obscure, and the lines seem to cross
"That is because the letter is in an envelope and
folded," said the Professor. " But try and read it."
Ellen then distinctly repeated the contents of the letter, of
which the following is a translation :-
"HONOURED SIR, - I have to acquaint you with the alarming illness of my
beloved mistress, your aunt Madame Delabarre. She was taken suddenly ill four
days ego. Two eminent physicians are in constant attendance upon her. It Is
believed that if she does not get better in a few days, the medical attendants
will perform an operation upon her. Should your leisure and occupation permit,
you would do well to hasten to France to comfort your venerable relative.
"Your humble servant,
"Ah! my poor aunt! my poor
aunt!" cried the Professor: " she is no more! It was her death that
the patient foretold ere now! Yes - the two physicians - the painful operation -
Oh! my poor aunt!"
The mesmerist tore open the letter, hastily glanced over it,
and handed it to the gentleman who stood nearest to him. This individual perused
it attentively, and, turning towards the other guests, said, - "It is word
for word as the patient read it."
The enthusiasm of the disciples of mesmerism present was only
damped by the grief into which the Professor was now plunged by the conviction
of the death of his venerable aunt. They, therefore, briefly returned their best
thanks for the highly satisfactory illustrations of the truths of mesmeric
phenomena which they had witnessed upon the occasion, and took their leave,
their minds filled with the marvels that had been developed to them.
The moment the guests and the reporters had taken their departure, the Professor
hastened up to Ellen, took her by the hand, and exclaimed in a transport of joy,
"You may rise, my good young lady; it is all over! You acquitted yourself
admirably! Nothing could be better. I am delighted with you! My fortune is made
- my fortune is made! These English blockheads bite at anything"
Ellen rose from the chair in which she had feigned her
mesmeric sleep, and was by no means displeased with the opportunity of
stretching her limbs, which were dreadfully cramped through having remained an
hour in one unchanged position. The Professor compelled her to drink a glass of
wine to refresh her; and in a few minutes she was perfectly at her ease once
"Yes," repeated the mesmerist; " you conducted
yourself admirably. I really could not have anticipated such perfection at what
I may call a mere rehearsal of your part. You remembered every thing I had told
you to the very letter. By cleverly selecting to examine you, those persons
whose houses I have visited myself, and the leading features of which I am able
to explain to you beforehand, I shall make you accomplish such wonders in this
respect, that even the most sceptical will be astounded. You have an excellent
memory; and that is the essential. Moreover, I shall never mislead you. The book
and the print agreed upon between us during the day, shall always be chosen for
illustration at the lecture. By the bye, your little hesitation about the
engraving was admirable. You may always introduce that piece of acting into
your part: it appears true. The part then is not over-done. I give you great
credit for the idea. In a few days I shall tell all my friends that I have
received a letter announcing my aunt's death; and that her demise took place at
the very moment when you behold her death-bed in your mesmeric slumber. This
will astound them completely. On the next occasion we must introduce into our
comedy the scene of the patient describing what takes place is another room
with a wall intervening; and as we will settle beforehand all that I shall
do in another apartment, upon the occasion, that portion of the task will not be
"But suppose, sir," said Ellen, "that a
gentleman, concerning whose house you have given me no previous description,
should wish to examine me, - what must I do in such a case?"
"Remain silent," answered the Professor.
"And would not this excite suspicion?"
"Not a bit of it. I have my answer ready - 'There is
no magnetic affinity, no mesmeric sympathy, between you and your interlocutor.'
That is the way to stave off such a difficulty; and it applies equally to a
stranger holding books or prints for you to read with the back of your
"I really can scarcely avoid laughing when I think of
the nature of the farce," observed Ellen.
"And yet this is not the only doctrine with which the
world is duped," said the Professor. "But it is growing late; and you
are doubtless anxious to return home. I am so well pleased with you, that I must
beg you to accept this five-pound note as an earnest of my liberal intentions.
You were very perfect with the poetry and the letter - the letter, by the
bye, from my poor old aunt, whose existence is only in my own
imagination!- Indeed, altogether, I am delighted with you!"
Ellen received the money tendered her by the mesmerist, and
took her departure.
Thus successfully terminated her first essay as a patient to
a Professor of Animal Magnetism!
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