The unknown has always had a great attraction for every class of mind, and whoever promises to lift for us the veil of the mysterious and to afford us a glimpse into the unknown world may always count upon a large following. It is the infirmity of great minds as of small. The poet, the mystic, the imaginative philosopher, share its higher privileges; the charlatan, the quack, and the stage performer, its greater profits. There is one phase of the pursuit of the unknown, and one method of manipulating it, which has had the privilege of exciting the interest and inflaming the imagination of mankind in all periods of history, in every phase of civilisation, and in every part of the world; probably even amongst prehistoric peoples, and certainly amongst aboriginal savages. It is the endeavour to search out hidden forces and mysterious qualities of the mind — to discover other methods of transmitting mental impressions than those of sight, speech, and touch; other avenues than those of the five senses; and other means of mental influence than those everywhere known and visible. It is with this quest, and with some of its ancient vestiges and strange modern developments, that I purpose to deal. Hypnotism, which is now the subject of much intelligent and well-directed modem research, and is also, unfortunately, the plaything of a class of wandering stage performers, is the lineal descendant of many ancient beliefs.
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