ο»Ώ ,(}Jt!NSCO= -'|1888-02-25|Rhyl Record and Advertiser - Welsh Newspapers Online
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ROYAL ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL.…

ST. ASAPH. )

RHUDDLAN. ." -

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(CopxrigM.) ,(}Jt!NSCO= BY ANGBLO J. LEWIfl. ..1 Yes, I have certainly aftak. that tad, befA But where?" Over and over again Ijhad palf tiie same question to myself, but it seemed as far from solution as ever. It was a winter night in the year 19. I had been spending the evening with a friend at High- gate, and, after a long, dreary walk throigh snow and sleet, had just got back to my snug Irooms at St. Lazarus'Hospital, where I held thei office of resident surgeon. It was nearly midnight, but I did not feel inclined for sleep, and having taken off my overcoat and put on my slippers, Iidrew my easy-chair up to the nre, and sat d6wn t^ enjoy a 3uiet pipe. I had finished one pipe, and was eliberatmg whether to have another, Mien my eyes chanced to fall on an object placed on a side- table, and covered with a green baike cloth. Another subject, I suppose," I said, hauf aloud. I crossed the room, an(f lifted the baize. On a wooden slab, which I was accustomed to, use as a dissecting table, lay, as I had anticipated,la human head, newly severed from the body. I should here explain that I had been for some time past devoting special attention to the various forms of brain disease, and that the dissecting-room porter had a standing order that whenever a subject was known to have suffered from that class of disease, the head was to be reserved for me. I recognised the present specimen as that of a young woman who had been brought into the hospital two days previously, suffering from acute brain-fever, and whom, from the first, there had be&i but little hope of saving. After looking at it for a momeht or two, I covered the head once more, relighted" my* pipe, and took up the Lancet again, for I was in the middle of an interesting article. But I found that I could no longer concentrate my attention on my reading. Somehow or other my thoughts would wander back to that grisly object on the side-table. My medical experience had ma e me too familiar with the relics of mortality for them to excite anything like the nervous horror or repulsion whieh such objects arouse in the non- pi ofessional mind. My interest in the head arose repulsion which such objects arouse in the non- pi ofessional mind. My interest in the head arose from a very different cause. I could not help fancying that, somewhere or other, I had seen that face before. I remembered that the same idea had c ossed my mind when the dying girl, with the close-cut hair, was first brought into the ward, but J had almost immediately discarded it, thinking that I must be deceived by some chance likeness. Now, however, the idea recurred to me with redoubled force, and do what I might, I could not drive it away. I ransacked my memory, but in vain. I could not localise the face, and yet, as I reflected, the conviction grew stronger and stronger that the features were somehow familiar to me. Once more I rose from my chair, and, removing the cloth, gazed at the head for some I minutes, trying to recall the missing link of association, Dut in vain. Again I sat down, and my thoughts strayed away to that grim triptych in the Musle Wiertz, at Brussels, m which are represented the fancied sensations of a severed head during the first three minutes after decapita- tion. I wondered whether there was any real foundation for the belief of Sue and Sommering, so terribly illustrated by the genius of the artist; whether a head once severed from the body could under any circumstances think and feel, for ever so short a time. I recalled the experiment said to haVe been tried by the great French surgeon, Vel. peau, on the poisoner De la Pommerais, and the asserted fact that the severed head of the criminal did, by a movement of the eyelid, as previously agreed between them, prove that it he&rd and understood the voice of its questioner. I found myself speculating on the mystery of life whether there could by any possibility be a life of the brain after the life of the heart had ceased, and the spinal cord was severed. And ever and anon, amid my other reflections, came back the original puzzle, Where had I seen that face before ? 41 Ah," I thought, If those silent lips could speak, they might give me the answer to my riddle And then a still more startling thought flashed through my brain, an idea so wild, so unheard. of, that it almost took away my breath. In my earlier student days I had amused myself by practising mesmerism, and had found myself to possess the mystic power in a very unilsual de- gree. What if I could impart some of my own vitality to that silent brain, compel it to live once more, and answer the riddle that baffled me. It was a wild, almost insane idea, too extravagant for Serious consideration. I tried to dismiss it, | but it would not be shaken off, and I determined at last that I would i t any rate try the experiment. I locked my door, for I should have been ashamed to be surprised in so extravagant an occupation and then, utv the head and placing it in a convenient pwium, I began to make mesmeric passes over it. At first I ex. perienced an uneasy fee Vng, as though I were a Wizard, pmcti¡n unlawful arts, And half afraid of the -ult. But this feeling speedily Wore off, a;: i i found myself notonly ardentlydesiringtosr.ee o 'Uut giadually acquiring a Conviction that I h¡¡¡]d IL, ji). For nearly half- an-hoUr I persevered wit1¡rnt ranilt, though I threw the utmost of iuy will into my efforts. At last, just, a? I ww *ig to lose hope, I fancied tint I ppl.ceiv -,I, 7 i [iuver of the eye- lids. I thereupon redo "i ay cTorts, and after a few minrites more, d.u i v. hi -h I had been making passes with al:ror; fntii; in energy, the dead eyes slowly opened and looked at me. As long as "I live I shall never ferret that moment. I experienced no sense of horror or alarm, but a conscientious scruple crossed mv mind as to whether I had any right to carry my experiment farther, and, after a moment's pause, I began the reverse, or de-magnetising, passes. As I did so, how- ever, the expression of the face changed to one of agonised reproach, and I could not resist the impression that, for some reason OT other, the head wished me to continue. Thus encouraged, I resumed the mesmerising process, and the face after a few moments recovered its former com- paratively tranquil expression. As I proceeded, the eyes moved with greater freedom, and the features became more mobile. The expression of the face seemed to vary, but I could not read its meaning. Suddenly the conviction flashed upon me (how I cannot say, but as, if borne in upon me by some sympathetic sense) that the head was trying to speak, but cordd make no sound. Do you wish to speak ?" I said. The head gazed at me with appealing eyes, but was silent, I remem- bered Valpeaus experiment "If you' understand what I say, close your eyes. The eyes closed instantly, then opened again with the old appeal- ing gaze. If you desire tospeak, close your eyes again." Again they closed. Can I help you ? The eyes closed once more, and then, slowly, as if With effort, looked away from me towards a table in another part of the room. I followed their direction, but could not see anything to indicate what was desired. The table in question was strewn with surgical and other apparatus. I walked towards it, the eyes following me. Is it something on this table you want me to use?" The eyes closed and again opened. After a moments reflection, I saidt "I will touch every object on this table in succession. When I come to the right one, close your eyes." The eyes closed in token of comprehension, then opened again with an eager look. I took up one article after another ana laid it down and laid it down again, but the head made no sign. I had touched nearly every object on the table, and I began to fear that there was a misunderstanding on the one side or the other; when I chanced to place my hand on some electrical apparatus, with whieh I had been experimenting earlier in the day. To my surprise the eyes closed. Ah, the microphone I exclaimed. Yds, that may assist. But how to nse it ?" I removed the apparatus to the table Whereon the head lay. K Am I right so far?" I asked. The eyes closed. '^Direct me I said when I am doing right, close your eyes again." I applied the Wires of the battery to different parts of the head without receiv- ing the approving signal; but at last, on placing one side ih contact with the, hypoglossal nerve, and the other Under the tongue, the eyes nosed. I noticed, however, with dismay &å.t the head seemed to be losing its temporary VJtaljty, and relapsing into its former insensible condition, though the eyes still pursued me with that mute appealing gare, as though entreating succour. For a moment I was at a loss, but sud- denly I remembered that during my recent efforts to discover and carry out the wishes of the head I had suspended my mesmeric operations. I now resumed the passes, and was speedily rewarded by finding that the head shewed renewed signs of vitality. I persevered, and after a few minntes longer I perceived a slight movement of the lip Ma a voice said in a whisper so faint that, even with the aid of the microphone, it was all but laandible—• -tint ce glie tu m'as ottblU, Henri ?

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