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Some Reminiscences, V.

I was much impressed by a book I read when I was about 16: the life of Robert Houdin, a French prestidigitateur; he used to take his son past a shop window, say a toyshop or any other with a variety of articles on show, and tell him to look at the things displayed, rhen taking him away at once he would ask him to describe everything he saw. It seemed to me that this was an admirable way of forming what I call “ eye-memory,” and having adopted a similar mode of study I have found the result of great use in my professional career, of which I could give many striking examples. Francis Galton in his book Human Faculty calls it the power of visualization, and says one may test himself by trying to picture the breakfast table as it was this morning, &c. I heard Prof. Stokes, the “Memory Man,” with his wonderful boys, lecture with illustrations at the old Coliseum, Regent’s Park. His recommendation was “Observe, reflect, link thought with thought, and . . . ?” My memory fails me, but it was nearly 70 years ago. As a lad I used to go to all the conjuring entertainments I could and always offered myself when any of the audience were requested to step up. I wanted to see how it was done. I remember particularly Prof. Anderson, the so-called “Wizard of the North,” Dr. Lynn, who always made pretence of showing the spectators “how it was done,” Maskelyne and Cooke, the Davenport Brothers, and Pepper’s Ghost. I heard Prof. Pepper give a lecture once in a room where there was a temporary platform, when he made several striking experiments. Among other things, I saw him dip his hand in molten lead. In another experiment he had two glasses with different coloured liquids in, fie said that when he poured one into the other the colour would disappear. It did, and so did he, as the plank of the platform on which he was standing gave way at the same time. I always wanted to get to the bottom of any mystery, and when opportunity offered in 1868 I joined “The Dalston Association of Enquirers into Spiritualism.” I attended the meetings for some months but saw nothing that could not have been simulated. Florrie Cook, one of the party, afterwards became a celebrated medium. She is referred to in Florence Marryat’s book, There is no death. My failure to find any distinct proofs in spiritualism does not lead me to deny the possibility, or in face of Sir Oliver Lodge’s Raymond one should perhaps say the probability, of some occult phenomena taking place. I have had many proofs of telepathy, some of which may be explained by the analogy of wireless telephony, where the brains of the projector and recipient may be connected by etheric waves, but other cases that I have had of prevision cannot be so expiained, and the instances were too full and definite to admit of mere coincidence as an explanation. It is a great pity scientists do not take up the study systematically instead of pooh-poohing it as the majority do. When I started practice on my own account my first clie