Imagens das páginas

like the legislative prohibition not to marry with one's deceased wife's sister; but that, unlike the latter, it can be evaded; inasmuch as an asymptote, by changing its name and forfeiting its properties, may at any time unite itself with the object to which it had before been infinitely near. Again, I found my boyish distrust and disbelief in sines and cosines replaced by an intelligent and wellsatisfied acquaintance with them. And I even obtained a glimpse of the higher analysis itself, pointing with its unerring finger to the exact height, else unmeasurable, at which my candle should stand in the centre of my round table, to shed upon it its maximum of illumination.

A liberal hour being over, and my dolphin-like recreation ended, my new friend entered into desultory chat, and asked me among other things, if I had not written something on the divining-rod. I replied to his question by giving him the copy I had of the Letters ;” and promised, as a New-Year's gift for the morrow, to present him with the implement itself. And I lent bim Von Reichenbach's book on Od, with which he was unacquainted. Then he told me that there were two or three experiments, possibly akin to trials with the divining-rod, with which he had been familiar for years, and which he had shown to many without receiving an explanation of them.' He said that as far as he knew they were original and his own; and that he would willingly show them to me. He wanted only for that purpose a piece of silver, a gold ring, and a bit of silk. These were easily found. And he attached the silk to the ring, which he then held suspended by the silk over a silver spoon, at a distance of half an inch.

Shortly the ring shaped its first vague movements into regular oscillations in a direction to and fro, or towards and from, Herr Caspari. I will call such oscillations longitudinal. It was evident to me, that this

phenomenon must be akin to the motion of the diviningrod.

Then, at Herr Caspari's suggestion, I summoned the maid, who was directed to place her hand in Herr Caspari's disengaged hand. On her doing so, the oscillations of the ring became transverse. How pregnant was this fact! An Od-current had been established between the two experimenters; and the apparent influence of the two metals on each other had been modified.

Herr Caspari told me that, as far as he knew, these experiments would only succeed when made with silver and gold, and a bit of silk. But he said that he had still another experiment to show me, which he did the following day. He said he had a little pea-like bit of something, which he had been told was schwefel-kies, that exhibited another motion : when held suspended by silk over either of the fingers, it rotated one way; when held suspended over the thumb, it rotated in the contrary direction. .

Herr Caspari left me, after agreeing to assist me in the further examination of these phenomena; and the New Year coming in found me in busy thought how to elicit, through variations of Herr Caspari's experiments, some important physical evidence as to the reality and agency of Von Reichenbach's Od-force.

In ten days we have succeeded in disentangling the confused results which attended our first experiments; and as I see no likelihood of extending them at present in any new direction, I present them to the reader now, as complete as I can at present render them. I have used the term “ divining-ring,” partly because I have a vague idea of having seen Herr Caspari's first facts adverted to in some publication under that name; partly because it is really thus far deserved :—if you place a

piece of silver on a table, and lay over the table and it an unfolded silk pocket-handkerchief, you can discover where the silver lies by trying with the suspended ring each part of the surface. The ring will only oscillate when held over the silver. But now I have to substitute another name for the sake of precision.

A fragment of anything, of any shape, suspended either by silk or cotton thread, the other end of which is wound round the first joint either of the fore-finger or of the thumb, I will call an Odometer. The length of the thread does not matter. It must be sufficient to allow the ring, or whatever it is, to reach to about half an inch from the table, against which you rest your arm or elbow to steady your hand. If there be nothing on the table the ring or its equivalent soon becomes stationary. Then you test the powers of the odometer by placing upon the table under it what substances you please. These I would call Od-subjects.

To obtain uniform results with the Odometer, it is important to attach the sustaining thread always to the same finger of the same hand,—best to the fore-finger of the right hand. It is evident that this rule is not to prevent the experimenter, when he has succeeded in thus obtaining a series of consistent results, from trying what will come of substituting his other digits for that first employed.

I have armed the odometer with gold, silver, lead, zinc, iron, copper; with coal, bone, horn, dry wood, charcoal, cinder, glass, soap, wax, sealing-wax, shell-lac, sulphur, earthenware. As od-subjects I have likewise tried most of the substances above enumerated. All do not go equally well, or perform. exactly the same feats, with each odometer. For example, an odometer of dry wood remains stationary over gold; while it oscillates with great vivacity over glass. The respective habi

tudes of different odometers to different od-subjects is one of the simplest points of investigation which the facts I am narrating suggest.

A gold ring with a plain stone in it was the first odometer which I employed, and it is one of the most largely available. And gold forms in general the most successful od-subject. Sulphur likewise displays very lively motions in the odometer. But the material which I finally employed to verify the following phenomena was shell-lac, a portion a full inch long, broader towards the lower end, then cut to be lancet-shaped. The odometer moves more sluggishly with some than with others, and in the same hand on different days; and doubtless is capable of manifesting a greater variety of effects than I have yet elicited from it. I can only pledge myself to the certainty of my being always now able to obtain with the shell-lac odometer all the results mentioned in the XXVII. experiments which first follow. Over rock-crystal, however, the shell-lac odometer acts very feebly; but a glass odometer moves with brilliant vivacity. I would besides advise the reader to try a gold-ring odometer, in preference, for experiments X., XI., XII., XIII.

Then here are the results :

I. Odometer (we will suppose armed with shell-lac) held over three sovereigns heaped loosely together to form the od-subject; the odometer suspended from the right forefinger of a competent person of the male sex. ResultLongitudinal oscillations.

II. Let the experimenter, continuing experiment I., take with his unengaged hand the hand of a person of the opposite sex. Result-Transverse oscillations of the odometer.

III. Then, the experiment being continued, let a person of the sex of the experimenter take and hold the


unengaged hand of the second party. Result-Longitudinal oscillations of the odometer.

IV. Repeat experiment I., and, the longitudinal oscillations being established, touch the forefinger which is engaged in the odometer with the forefinger of your other hand. Result — The oscillations become transverse.

V. Repeat experiment I., and, the longitudinal oscillations being established, bring the thumb of the same hand into contact with the finger implicated in the odometer. ResultThe oscillations become transverse.

VI. Then, continuing experiment V., let a person of the same sex take and hold your unengaged hand. Resultthe oscillations become again longitudinal.

VII. Experiment I. being repeated, take and hold in your disengaged hand two or three sovereigns. Result -The oscillations become transverse.

VIII. Continuing experiment VII., let a person of the same sex take and hold your hand which holds the sovereigns. Result — The oscillations become longitudinal.

IX. If the odometer be attached to the thumb instead of to the forefinger, it oscillates longitudinally; but on approaching the thumb so as to touch the forefinger, the oscillations become of course transverse.

X. Repeat experiment I., but let the od-subject be a double row of five sovereigns, each disposed longitudinally from you, and hold the odometer over the middle of the double row of sovereigns. Result-Longitudinal oscillations, but the excursions are inordinately long. Still, on touching the forefinger with the thumb, the oscillations become either transverse, or the odometer moves in an ellipse, of which the long axis corresponds with the axis of the double line of sovereigns.

XI. Dispose ten sovereigns longitudinally from you

« AnteriorContinuar »