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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/328

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

He repeated this story minutely and with great persistence, notwithstanding the postal authorities denied having given him the letter, in the face of the asseverations of the prefects that there were not thirty anarchists in Brescia, where he was in correction, and although all the facts were against him. Observe that he was in prison, that he had been there three months, and that he was told he would be likely to stay there as long as he adhered to his story.

Efforts to account for the phenomenon were unsuccessful, because his friends and relatives made no mention of any traces of insanity. Light began to break upon the case when it was learned that he had attempted suicide, a few years before, in grief at the death of his mother, and also that on the day before he gave himself up he had stolen a small sum from his drunken brother. These, however, were only distant hints. The matter was fully explained when, after he had drunk a litre of wine in the prison, he began to exclaim, "Viva l'anarchio!" (Hurrah for anarchy!), "Morte al Re!" (Death to the king!), to kiss a dagger, to break various things against imaginary guards, and, after a short period of quiet, to swear and forswear himself that his companions had done what he had done, that they had shouted for anarchy, PSM V56 D0328 Ravachol.pngRavachol. had broken the vases, and had desired to kill the king.

This cleared up the matter at once for me, but I wished to complete the elucidation with an experiment. I began by giving him ten, then twenty, then thirty, then forty grammes of alcohol, up to eighty. I observed that his personality began to change after forty grammes. He became somewhat insolent and suspicious, and had vague delirious imaginings of persecutions. When invited to sing anarchistic songs he refused, evidently fearing to compromise himself, but sang them voluntarily in an undertone. When the dose of alcohol was increased to ninety grammes his personality seemed immediately to undergo a full change; his touch became twice as fine (three millimetres), and his visual field increased threefold; he declared that there was a spy around. When put into his cell he sang anarchistic hymns, threatened death to