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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/88

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

keeping the animal firm and quiet, but also by pressing upon the cutaneous nerves. In order to understand the whole subject, we must go further and adduce other facts which bear upon it.

The most interesting part of our investigation still remains, which, as I remarked beforehand, will lead us to the doubtful regions of mesmerism and somnambulism. And the question arises again: Has the apparently unnecessary chalk-line in Kircher's experiment any significance; and, if so, what?

I have already mentioned that I did not succeed in placing pigeons in this motionless state by holding them firmly in my hand, and pressing their heads and necks gently upon the table, as I did the hens.

I therefore endeavored to treat the pigeons as I did the little birds, that is, I held them with a thumb placed on each side of the head, which I bent over a little, while the other hand held the body gently pressed down upon the table.

Even this treatment, which has such an effect on little birds, did not seem to succeed at first with the pigeons. Almost always they flew away as soon as I liberated them and entirely removed my hands. I remarked, however, that the short time, during which the pigeons remained quietly in my fingers, increased visibly, and lengthened several minutes, when I removed the finger of the hand which held the head, only removing the hand very little, or else not at all. The hand holding the body could have been removed much sooner without doing any harm.

While I zealously pursued this trace of new events, I found, to my astonishment, that it led me to the observation of the pigeon's attention, and the fixing of its look upon my finger placed before its eyes. It is this movement which, until now, has not been taken into our consideration, and is the critical period which is of such great importance as a link between the phenomena we have noticed and others to which we are gradually approaching. In order to determine the matter still more clearly, I tried the experiment on a pigeon which I had clasped firmly by the body in my left hand, but whose neck and head were perfectly free, and held one finger of my right hand firmly before the top of its beakā€”and what did I see? The first pigeon with which I made this attempt remained rigid and motionless, as if bound, for several minutes, before the outstretched forefinger of my right hand!

Yes, I could take my left hand, with which I had held the bird, and again touch the pigeon without waking it up; the animal remained in the same position while I held my outstretched finger still pointing toward the beak. (The lecturer demonstrated this experiment in the most successful manner with a pigeon which was brought to him.)

I have repeated this striking experiment on a number of pigeons, yet I do not know whether suitable animals are frequently found, for, of course, it is to be understood that the experiment cannot always