Mind-reading began its career in Chicago. The sensation produced by it was astonishing, and it has not yet "had its day." It has not only puzzled the minds of everyday people of the world, but has also engaged the attention of scholars, scientific men, statesmen, and even crowned heads. The first person who made any display of it was J. Randall Brown. He became a monomaniac on the subject, experimenting with all his acquaintances, and informing them of the many wonderful things he could do, till they began to think he was "possessed," as some of them expressed it. Brown's first public success, and that which caused him to adopt mind-reading as a profession, was, strange to say, on a wager which he made with an old and well-known resident of Chicago. He made a bet that he could find a pin, no matter where it was concealed, stipulating only that it should be within walking distance. After considerable speculation as to where the hiding-place should be, the gentleman concealed the pin beneath one of the rugs in front of the Sherman House. Brown was blindfolded, took his friend's hand, and, after wandering about, led him directly to the spot, much to the man's surprise, as well as to the depletion of his pocket-book.
Brown, feeling assured of success, now started out professionally. He made a tour of the States, creating great astonishment, and coining both notoriety and money. His success was unprecedented, and he is still traveling about, giving much the same entertainment as formerly.
Washington Irving Bishop traveled with Brown for some time as assistant and finally discovering how the trick was done was shrewd enough to go abroad where it had not yet been introduced. For a person having no credentials whatever, and no means, Bishop created a most astonishing sensation. He required an assistant, and secured the services of a bright youth named Charles Garner, who, like Bishop was well-posted in anti-spritualistic performances. Like his employer, Garner was an assistant but a short time until he also became master of the art, taking it at once to the continent, where, under the name of Stuart Cumberland, he too, made a great success. The public exploits of these two gentlemen are well known. Their careers have attracted the attention of many scientific men, and much speculation has been made as to the cause and effect of their tests.
The pursuit of mind-reading as a profession does not affect the nervous system any more than any other intellectual calling, in fact not as much. Although circulars of prominent mind-readers are, in very large part, exaggerations of the possibilities of their performance, and such as are probably beyond the power of man to accomplish, nevertheless, the work may be varied in form as indefinitely as the performer's brain is fertile of invention. The one essential condition which is to be impressed unmistakably upon those who take part in the performance, is that the person to be led to the secreted article must concentrate his mind upon the place where the article is hidden, until that place has been reached by the mind-reader and himself, and then upon the article itself. This mental concentration is required as constantly as possible to the end. If the mind-reader fails, the fault lies with the subject, for he must succeed if the subject fairly complies with this single condition. There may occasionally be found an individual incapable of prolonged or even brief mental concentration, because of great trouble, loss of fortune, or ill-health. Such subjects are always to be avoided if possible, as the accomplishment of the trick with them is exceedingly improbable, if not altogether impossible.
It follows then that the best minds available should always be chosen. The mind-reader has then nothing to do but to establish physical contact between himself and his subject, and, after starting a motion of his body in any direction, quietly surrender himself to the involuntary muscular leading of his subject, when he will find himself led unconsciously to the proper place.
Almost any physical contact will be sufficient, although Brown's method of placing the back of the subject's hand to his forehead is probably the best, because the most impressive. When you have the back of the subject's hand to your forehead, start a swaying motion around and go in the direction you find it easiest for the subject and yourself to move; go and you will be led to the place. If you lead him in a different direction to the one he is thinking of, you will find more resistance to moving him or his hand. To be blindfolded is not essential, although helpful, because it presents the appearance of rendering the work of the mind-reader more difficult, while it really assists him in being passive to the leadings of his subject, as it shuts out from his mind all exterior detractions. The body of any, and every person has always an inclination, more or less strong, in the direction of the thoughts of the mind, more especially so if the body is in motion. For instance, if you think of an object on your right, accompanying that thought will be a slight motion of the body in the same direction. Then place your mind upon some other object in the opposite direction, and over will go the body accordingly.
The natural law of mutual dependence between mind and matter - or habit of harmony of action between the brain and body of man or beast - is the whole secret of mind-reading. It follows that all the mind-reader has to do is simply to observe carefully the actions of the muscles of his subject's hand against his forehead, and follow in the direction indicated by the subject's muscles, and he will find himself led unmistakably toward the place upon which the subject's mind is concentrated. Having reached the place, the mind-reader will feel around with one hand until the secreted article is found, and as soon as his hand touches it - although he has no previous knowledge of its nature - he will recognize it instinctively for the subject has unconsciously imparted such information by the relaxation of his muscles. As mind is indivisible; or in other words as it is impossible for a person's mind to be in two places at the same time, it is plainly to be seen that if the subject honestly concentrates his mind upon the article hidden, he can not discover the fact that he is leading the so-called mind-reader, instead of being led himself. It is obvious from the foregoing explanation, that instead of the mind-reader being the operator and leading the subject, as is generally supposed, he is himself led by the subject; hence, the mind-reader is the subject, and the subject the operator. To sum it all up, the mind-reader "must follow the least resistance."
The tricks of mind-reading are exceedingly numerous, depending on the ingenuity of the performers in devising them. We will give the leading ones: (1) The finding of a concealed article, usually a pin. (2) The finding of a person thought-of. (3) The imaginary murder; a number of knives are laid on the table, and are considered instruments of death. Any person selects any one of the knives, and with it kills, in his mind, one of the audience;
then conceals the knife and the body, the latter imaginary of course. The mind-reader first finds the murderer, then the knife, then the party supposed to have been killed, and whether it was a thrust or a slash, then the place where the body was to be concealed. (4) The love token, very popular with the ladies. A young man thinks of a handsome lady present to whom he would present a bouquet as a token of love. The mind-reader takes the bouquet in his hand and finds the lady, to whom he presents it. (5) The game of chess. Two gentlemen are seated at a table to play chess; one of them actually plays, the mind-reader guesses the play of the other; that is, he takes and places the men the other only thought of. A very fine experiment. (6) The living picture or tableau. Several ladies and gentlemen form a tableau, all in different or grotesque positions, and then resume their seats. The mind-reader finds each person in the order they were called, and places each one in the same position they were before, forming the tableau perfectly. (7) The finding any number thought of, usually of a bank-note. The mind-reader holds in his right hand a piece of chalk, and the person who knows the number places his or her right hand on the right hand of the mind-reader, thinks first of the first number or figure of the series, and the mind-reader writes thus the first figure on the blackboard, and so on till the full number is written. The hand of the mind-reader is guided entirely by the hand of the subject. (8) Drawing. A painter thinks of an animal, and the mind-reader draws an outline of the same. The principle is the same as writing a number thought of. (9) To find things placed on a table or to select a small object from a large number of objects. The mind-reader places the finger tips of the left hand of the subject on the finger tips of his right hand, moves them thus connected to and fro over the articles. The mind-reader can be blindfolded. When the hand is over the article thought of, the mind-reader feels a strong pulsation in the finger tips of the subject, and this is always a proof that the article is the one thought of.
These are, generally the first "tests" used by beginners. Of course there are many others, such as the tracing of a route on a map, the driving of a pair of horses to find an article, the spelling of names, all depending on the ingenuity of the mind-reader in devising them. In all cases some kind of contact between the operator and the subject must exist. The connection by a wire is quite sufficient in many "tests" for an expert, it is declared, but does not prove satisfactory to a beginner. The statement which is sometimes made that mind-reading can be used in detecting crime, is, of course, preposterous, even though there is in "mind transference" all that has been claimed; for where is there a criminal that will comply with the required conditions? It has been suggested that mesmerism has something to do with mind-reading; and even some "second-sight" artists in the United States bill themselves as mind-readers.
The following is the announcement used by Brown an his programmes and circulars:
"J. RANDALL BROWN, The Great ! The Only ! The Original !
MIND READER !
In His Wonderful Experiments in Mental Telegraphy and Exemplifications of the Latest Refined Spiritualistic
Phenomena, Assisted by
LILLIE MAY BROWN, The Powerful Materializing Medium.
The Most Marvelous Demonstrations Ever Witnessed. The Most Stubborn Skeptics Wild with Enthusiasm.
The following are some of the Manifestations that usually take place in presence of these Mediums:
MIND READING, in which J. Randall Brown claims to be the original and only person in the world ever having produced these phenomena.
A committee of six well-known gentlemen will be chosen by the audience for the purpose of selecting the subjects for the various experiments in Mind Reading, thus rendering collusion impossible Mr. Brown's wonderful power will then be exemplified in the following manner: telling persons where they were born; their occupation; their names; the amount of money in any person's pocket; the combination of a safe; the number of your watch; read the contents of a sealed letter; can tell the chapter and verse of any passage in the Bible you may think of; can interpret the thoughts of a foreigner; designate any person thought of among the audience; read a musical composition from the mind of a professor of music; or, indeed, read any thought in any person's mind.
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