This quality of invulnerability can be imparted to persons both by living adepts and by spirits. In our own time several well-known mediums have frequently, in the presence of the most respectable witnesses, not only handled blazing coals and actually placed their face upon a fire without singeing a hair, but even laid flaming coals upon the heads and hands of bystanders, as in the case of Lord Lindsay and Lord Adair. The well-known story of the Indian chief, who confessed to Washington that at Braddock’s defeat he had fired his rifle at him seventeen times at short range without being able to touch him, will recur to the reader in this connection. In fact, many great commanders have been believed by their soldiers to bear what is called “a charmed life”; and Prince

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Emile von Sayn-Wittgenstein, a general of the Russian army, is said to be one of these.

This same power which enables one to compress the astral fluid so as to form an impenetrable shell around one, can be used to direct, so to speak, a bolt of the fluid against a given object, with fatal force. Many a dark revenge has been taken in that way; and in such cases the coroner’s inquest will never disclose anything but sudden death, apparently resulting from heart-disease, an apoplectic fit, or some other natural, but still not veritable cause. Many persons firmly believe that certain individuals possess the power of the evil eye. The mal’occhio, or jettatura is a belief which is prevalent throughout Italy and Southern Europe. The Pope is held to be possessed — perchance unconsciously — of that disagreeable gift. There are persons who can kill toads by merely looking at them, and can even slay individuals. The malignance of their desire brings evil forces to a focus, and the death-dealing bolt is projected, as though it were a bullet from a rifle.

In 1864, in the French province of Le Var, near the little village of Brignoles, lived a peasant named Jacques Pelissier, who made a living by killing birds by simple will-power. His case is reported by the well-known Dr. d’Alger, at whose request the singular hunter gave exhibitions to several scientific men, of his method of proceeding. The story is told as follows: “At about fifteen or twenty paces from us, I saw a charming little meadow-lark which I showed to Jacques. ‘Watch him well, monsieur,’ said he, ‘he is mine.’ Instantly stretching his right hand toward the bird, he approached him gently. The meadow-lark stops, raises and lowers his pretty head, spreads his wings, but cannot fly; at last he cannot make a step further and suffers himself to be taken, only moving his wings with a feeble fluttering. I examine the bird, his eyes are tightly closed and his body has a corpse-like stiffness, although the pulsations of the heart are very distinct; it is a true cataleptic sleep, and all the phenomena incontestably prove a magnetic action. Fourteen little birds were taken in this way, within the space of an hour; none could resist the power of Master Jacques, and all presented the same cataleptic sleep; a sleep which, moreover, terminates at the will of the hunter, whose humble slaves these little birds have become.

“A hundred times, perhaps, I asked Jacques to restore life and movement to his prisoners, to charm them only half way, so that they might hop along the ground, and then again bring them completely under the charm. All my requests were exactly complied with, and not one single failure was made by this remarkable Nimrod, who finally said to me: ‘If you wish it, I will kill those which you designate without touching them.’ I pointed out two for the experiment, and, at twenty-five or

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thirty paces distance, he accomplished in less than five minutes what he had promised.”

A most curious feature of the above case is, that Jacques had complete power only over sparrows, robins, goldfinches, and meadow-larks; he could sometimes charm skylarks, but, as he says, “they often escape me.”

This same power is exercised with greater force by persons known as wild beast tamers. On the banks of the Nile, some of the natives can charm the crocodiles out of the water, with a peculiarly melodious, low whistle, and handle them with impunity; while others possess such powers over the most deadly snakes. Travellers tell of seeing the charmers surrounded by multitudes of the reptiles which they dispatch at their leisure.

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