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time. Belief in the occult, which has often included thought reading in one form or another, has come over the world in more or less regular cycles; and it was exploited by Cagliostro with not less success, though of course more hypocrisy, than by Houdin.
Probably the emergence of each of these cycles has been due rather to human nature than to the conscious efforts of spiritual quacks. But the subject has given such splendid opportunities to conjurers, whether of the honest skill of Mr. Maskelyne or the adventurous greed of Mr. Sludge, that the enthusiasm for the occult has finally exploded in mockery. The writer of this book worked with one of the most famous of conjurers, manufactured some of his instruments, and was behind the scenes of the séance. Twenty-five years ago he published a rational explanation of what we may call the mechanics of the mystery, and the extraordinary curiosity evoked by the performance of the Zancigs gives a peculiar interest to this recapitulation and expansion of the old explanations. Any two people who practised the codes that he outlines could unquestionably, if they were as quick and industrious, perform most of the feats of Heller, Houdin, and the Zancigs. It is worth notice that Mr. Zancig has himself told us of his capacity for laborious industry.
Now and again the explanation shows up a marvel hardly less great than the alleged mystery. Washington May Bishop, for instance, was able to perform his astonishing trick, known as the ring-threading trick, by means of a capacity to put his shoulder out of joint by sheer force of will. Even this would have been no good if he had not possessed an almost incredible power of grasp with the top joints of his fingers. Again, when he astonished Huxley by discovering the shilling of which only Huxley knew the
hiding-place, he brought off the feat by help of a delicacy of sensation which almost amounted to another sense. As he moved about with Huxley's hand on his wrist he could always detect a change of pressure when, as children say, he was "getting hot." It was a case of what Huxley himself called "unconscious cerebration": the brain, whether its owner would or not, perceptibly affected the nerves of the fingers.
But the feats of clairvoyance which have most astounded the wide-eyed public have been accomplished by little simple dodges that have nothing wonderful in them at all. Of these dodges no one perhaps has a more extensive and peculiar knowledge than Mr. Wicks. A certain number of revelations on the working of codes has been published in the newspapers, but here we are given in detail, in a variety of concrete instances, the exact working of the codes and the precise manipulations of the silent tricks. The thing is simple enough. By making letters stand for figures, any one, so long as he is allowed to speak, can convey to a student of the code any figures he wishes, and the principle may be extended in all sorts of directions. For example, you promise to convey to the clairvoyante, who is blindfolded, an accurate knowledge of the different objects that you will successively touch. Your first step is to utter some common word which in your code conveys the class of thing-for instance, "good" may stand for clothing; then the initial letters of the brief sentences you utter will inform her of the first few letters of the word, and the whole thing is done. Feats that filled you with astonishment are seen to be ludicrously simple, and the conjurer proper appears to be a person infinitely cleverer and more wonderful than the most accomplished thought-reader.
Mr. Wicks begins his little book with
this sentence, "The capacity of the human mind for wonder naturally disposes the uninformed to superstition, and for every unusual occurrence for which no explanation is perceivable on the surface, they look to the supernatural as the only possible cause of that they do not understand." When he wrote this did he know that Aristotle begins his Metaphysics with much the same sentiment? He, too, started from the maxim that "the world begins in wonder," but the world seems to end in wonder too: omnia exeunt in mysterium. No amount of exposure will ever persuade the world against a belief in the forces which, for want of a better word, we call supernatural. Nothing, of course, is supernatural; if it is here at all, it is natural. But the world is in its way right. We are beset by forces of which we have no perception. On either side of each conscious sense is a sense that perceives without knowing it perceives. Sensitive people are said to have been filled with an unreasonable terror on entering a room where a crime had been The Outlook.
committed. ble theory their senses are aware, though their intelligence is not, of the smell of blood. The brain itself has probably a very wide debatable ground
According to one plausi
wider, it may be, than the senses of hearing and smelling. We have what Mr. Myers called a subliminal consciousness, and the brain may possibly have the capacity to register sensations which do not come by way of the senses. The facts of mesmerism, suspiciously near to clairvoyance, are not disputed. No doubt the world will be more foolishly credulous than usual if, in the light of these precise revelations, it does not enjoy a laugh at its own gullibility. But the new revelations only half reveal. Let us by all means apply what the ancients called Occam's razor and cut off as superfluous all unnecessary causes, but the codes and the conjuring skill of Mr. Maskelyne are no more an "open sesame" to the doors of mystery than were the sortes Vergilianae which the Middle Ages took as a short cut across the roundabout roads of reason.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
Messrs. Macmillan are preparing a cheap edition of Mr. Winston Churchill's biography of his father. It will be in a single volume of over nine hundred pages, and will be issued at 7s. 6d. net.
Three short stories for very young readers are included in Nina Rhoades's "Priscilla of the Doll Shop" (LothropLee & Shepard Co.). The book be longs in the category of the Prudy and Dotty Dimple Books of the lamented "Sophie May" and seems well calculated to minister to the pleasure of small girls of to-day as those did to their mothers.
Under the title "Aims and Ideals in Art" E. P. Dutton & Co. publish eight lectures which were given in 1905 and 1906 by George Clausen, Professor of Painting, to the students of the Royal Academy. At the same time, in a uniform volume, they publish a new edition, the third, of Mr. Clausen's "Six Lectures on Painting" which were delivered before the same audience in 1904. Both volumes are fully illustrated, and they are an important and interesting contribution to the discussion both of the theory and the practice of art.
No doubt curious readers will attempt to identify the "Felicity" of
Clara E. Laughlin's new novel with a certain popular actress, as well as to point out the resemblance between the "prince of vagabond players" to whom the gifted child owes her career and a favorite comedian. Portraits or fancy pictures, Miss Laughlin has drawn them with a clever pencil. Stage experiences, types, ambitions and romances furnish a lavish store of material, and the selection and combination has been admirably made. But the dominant interest is human, not professional, and Felicity herself and the man who catches her girlish fancy would be striking character studies in any setting. The story is clean, bright, and attractive, and is sure to be in demand for summer reading. Charles Scribner's Sons.
East" none too soon for those who read the earlier work. Since its appearance. the Portsmouth treaty and the AngloJapanese alliance have changed the face of affairs, producing the condition significantly named the "truce," by Mr. Weale, and treated as such by the more astute nations. "Japan and the New Position," "China and the Chinese," "The Powers and their Influence" are the three parts into which the book is divided, but to these are added some fifteen appendices containing treaties, trade statements, and miscellaneous matter of value in estimating the exact nature of the present situation. In the first division, three chapters, "The Japanese Government and the Japanese People," "Rail Power and the Japanese Front," and "Why Japan Made Peace" are of especial value. The two chapters "John Glynn," the hero of Arthur called "China for the Chinese" are of Paterson's new novel, is a shrewd, the most consequence in the second (alsturdy young Englishman whose fron- though it contains few words not truly tier experiences in the States have golden.) In the third, "The United given him a training that stands him States and the New Responsibility" alin good stead when he returns to take though brief, and so guarded that its up philanthropic work in one of the manner might almost be called gingerly, worst districts in London. The energently states some noteworthy truths. getic and strong-willed young woman May Jonathan, inasmuch as by way who acts as secretary of the organiza- of placating his vanity the new Amertion plays the part of heroine, and the ican officials coming to the east are defivillain is the outwardly-respectable nitely praised, be persuaded to note and landlord to whom the saloons and gambling dens of the quarter pay rent and toll. Prize-fights, robberies, riots and attempted murders follow each other thick and fast through some three hundred and fifty closely-printed pages, but whether the writer's evident familiarity with the problems of applied philanthropy will suffice to make his story as acceptable to the social student as to the lover of sensational fiction is an open question. Henry Holt & Co.
profit by these truths, and at least to keep his powder dry between peace conferences. The more widely Mr. Weale's book is read, the better both for the Mongolian and for the white man. The United States have not yet paid the full price for the sins of their slave-holding days, and still suffer for harboring the old error that all men who dwell on the face of the earth not only have equal rights to certain things but are equal and similar. Perhaps it would do no harm to consider the hypothesis that some of them are or may come to be superior to the white man. (The Macmillan Co.)
Mr. B. L. Putnam Weale's "The Truce in the East and its Aftermath" follows his "The Reshaping of the Far
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