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After fome preparatory and neceflary fteps, (for M. St. Gille, he had been told, did not choofe to gratify the curiofity of every one) the Abbé waited upon him, informed him of his defign, and was very cordially received. He was taken into a parlour on the ground floor, when M. St. Gille and himself fat on the oppofite fides of a fmall fire, with only a table between them the Author keeping his eyes conftantly fixed upon M. St. Gille all the time. Half an hour had paffed, during which that gentleman diverted the Abbé with the relation of many comic fcenes which he had given occafion to by this talent of his; when, all on a fudden, the Abbé heard himself called by his name and title, in a voice that feemed to come from the roof of a house at a distance. He was almost petrified with aftonishment: on recollecting himself however, and asking M. St. Gille whether he had not just then given him a fpecimen of his art, he was answered only by a smile: but while the Abbé was pointing to the houfe from which the voice had appeared to him to proceed, his furprize was augmented on hearing himfelf answered, It was not from that quarter,' apparently in the fame kind of voice as before, but which now feemed to iffue from under the earth, at one of the corners of the room. In fhort this factitious voice played, as it were, every where about him, and feemed to proceed from any quarter, or diftance, from which the operator chofe to tranfmit it to him. The illufion was fo very ftrong, that prepared as the Abbé was for this kind of converfation, his mere fenfes were absolutely incapable of undeceiving him. Though confcious that the voice proceeded from the mouth of M. St. Gille, that gentleman appeared abfolutely mute, while he was exercising this talent; nor could the Author perceive any change whatever in his counteHe obferved however, at this firft vifit, that M. St. Gille contrived, but without any affectation, to present only the profile of his face to him, while he was fpeaking as a Ventriloquift.


The Abbé, who is a mot unconscionable and multifarious digreffer, and is continually starting out of his way to explain or difcufs the minutest matter that comes across him, proceeds directly from his narrative of the firft vifit he made to M. St. Gille, to account for all the circumstances attending Saul's conference with the witch of Endor; and endeavours to fhew that the fpeech fupposed to be addressed to Saul by the ghost of Samuel, actually proceeded from the mouth of the reputed forcerefs, whom he fuppofes to have been a capital Ventriloquift. On thefe grounds he explains that tranfaction, and reconciles all its circumstances to the relation given of it in the bible; where, it is to be observed, that Saul is not faid to have seen Samuel, but only to have heard a voice; which, it now apM m 3


pears, a Ventriloquift can produce and tranfmit from any quarter, and with any degree of ftrength whatever. He afterwards brings many inftances to prove that the antient oracles principally fupported their credit, and derived their influence, from the exercise of this particular art. This fuppofition, he thinks, will not appear by any means forced or incredible: whether we reflect on the nature of the art itself, so very capable of impofing on the multitude; or on the various other confiderations here offered in fupport of it. The vocal or fpeaking oaks, for inftance, of Dodona, (the feat of one of the moft celebrated of the antient oracles) receive from hence a much more fimple and plaufible folution, than from any of the hypothefes invented by the Authors who have treated on this fubject. There was no neceffity, he obferves, to conceal the priest, who was to utter the responses, in a hollow tree; or to form fubterraneous cavities for his reception. These contrivances could fcarce be executed or employed without frequent danger of discovery: whereas a fingle Ventriloque, without any apparatus, could render not only oaks, but even rocks and clouds, vocal, without any hazard of detection.

After various difcuffions, more or lefs connected with his principal subject, the Author relates at length all the teftimonies that he has been able to collect, relating to the few Ventriloquifts that have been defcribed by different authors, within the last two or three hundred years. From this collection we fhall only extract the fubftance of a little history given by Brodeau, a learned critic in the 16th century; who relates one of the fingular feats performed by a moft capital Ventriloquift and cheat, in his time; who had not only the talent of emitting a voice, from any distance, or in any direction; but had likewife a particular knack at counterfeiting the tone or manner of speaking of thofe with whom he had at any time converfed. He was called Louis Brabant, and was Valet de Chambre to Francis the firft. Our countryman Dickenfon fpeaks of him particularly, in his tract, intitled Delphi Phanicizantes, printed in 12mo at Oxford, in 1655.

Louis, it feems, had fallen moft defperately in love with a young, handfome, and rich heirefs; but was rejected by the parents, as an unfuitable match for their daughter, on account of the lowness of his circumstances. The young lady's father dying, he makes a vifit to the widow, who was totally ignorant of his fingular talent. Suddenly, on his first appearance, in open day, in her own houfe, and in the prefence of several perfons who were with her, the hears herself accofted, in a voice perfectly resembling that of her dead husband, and which feemed to proceed from above; exclaiming, "Give my daughter in marriage to Louis Brabant. He is a man of great fortune,


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and of an excellent character. I now endure the inexpreffible torments of purgatory, for having refufed her to him. If you obey this admonition, I fhall foon be delivered from this place of torment. You will at the fame time provide a worthy hufband for your daughter, and procure everlafting repole to the foul of your poor hufband."

The widow could not for a moment refift this dread fummons, which had not the moft diftant appearance of proceeding from Louis Brabant; whofe countenance exhib.ted no visible change, and whofe lips were clofe and motionlefs, during the delivery of it. Accordingly fhe confents immediately to receive him for her fon-in-law. Louis's finances, however, were in a very low fituation; and the formalities attending the marriage contract rendered it neceffary for him to exhibit fome fhew of riches, and not to give the ghoft the lye direct. He accordingly goes to work upon a fresh fubject; one Cornu, an old and rich banker at Lyons; who had accumulated immenfe wealth by ufury and extortion, and was known to be haunted by remorfe of confcience on account of the manner in which he had acquired it.

Paffing over the preliminary fteps and preparations, behold Louis Brabant tête a tête with the old ufurer, in his little back parlour, preparing him for his enfuing operations upon him, by artfully turning the converfation upon religious fubjects; on demons and fpectres, the pains of purgatory, and the torments of hell. During an interval of filence between them, a voice is heard, which to the astonished banker feems to be that of his deceased father, complaining, as in the former cafe, of his dreadful fituation in purgatory, and calling upon him to deliver him instantly from thence, by putting into the hands of Louis Brabant, then with him, a large fum for the redemption of Chriftians then in flavery with the Turks: threatening him at the fame time with eternal damnation, if he did not take this method to expiate likewife his own fins. The Reader will naturally fuppofe that Louis Brabant affected a due degre: of aftonishment upon the occafion; and further promoted the deception by acknowledging his having devoted himself to the profecution of the charitable defign imputed to him by the ghoft.

An old ufurer is naturally fufpicious. Accordingly the wary banker makes a fecond appointment with the ghoft's delegate, for the next day; and, to render any defign of impofing upon him utterly abortive, takes him into the open fields; where not a house, or a tree, or even a bufh, or a pit, were in fight, capable of fcreening any fuppofed confederate. This extraordi nary caution excited the Ventriloquist on his part, to exert all the powers of his art. Wherever the banker conducts him, at

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every step, his ears are faluted on all fides, with the complaints and groans not only of his father, but of all his deceased relations, imploring him for the love of God, and in the name of every faint in the calendar, to have mercy on his own foul and theirs, by effectually feconding with his purfe the intentions of his worthy companion. Cornu could no longer refift the voice of heaven, and accordingly carries his gueft home with him, and pays him down 10,000 crowns; with which the honest Ventriloquist returns to Paris, and marries his miftrefs.-The catastrophe was fatal. The fecret was afterwards blown, and reached the ufurer's ears; who was fo much affected by the lofs of his money, and the mortifying railleries of his neighbours, that he took to his bed and died.

Confidering the fuperftitious and credulous fpirit of the age when this piece of deceit is faid to have been practised, the preceding relation appears by no means incredible. We very naturally recollect on this occafion the audiences given to a very bungling ghoft, in our own times, and in our own capital; where fome reputed found heads were faid to have been ftrangely unhinged by the clumfy manoeuvres of the dumb ghost of CokJane, who converfed only by fcratching and knocking. Had the faid ghoft been a finished Ventriloquist-and particularly, if in the folemn and ever memorable vifit made to the gloomy vault of Clerkenwell, Fanny had accofted her fagacious and inquifitive nocturnal vifitants with a speech from her cofin, couched in awful and ghoftly terms, the intellectual concution must have been complete and irrefiftable. This at least is certain, that in the days of King James, or later fill in New England, a man would have ftood a fair chance of being hanged on even lefs fubftantial evidence.

This laft mentioned trick of Louis Brabant, played off on the old ufurer, alone, is even exceeded by an innocent piece of waggery, not long ago practifed with fuccefs, by the Author's hero, M. St. Gille, on a whole community. Out of respect to the minifters of religion, the Author does not specify the fcene of this adventure; which however, he obferves, needs no particular authentication, as the whole affair is very well known at Paris. The following are the outlines of this modern hiftory, which may ferve as a proper companion, and as a kind of voucher, to the preceding.

M. St. Gille returning home from a place whither his bufinefs had carried him, fought for fhelter from an approaching thunder florm, in a neighbouring convent. Finding the whole community in mourning, he inquires the caufe, and is told that one of their body had died lately, who was the ornament and delight of the whole fociety. To pafs away the time, he walks into the church, attended by fome of the religious, whq


fhew him the tomb of their deceafed brother, and fpeak feelingly of the fcanty honours they had beftowed on his memory. Suddenly a voice is heard, apparently proceeding from the roof of the quire, lamenting the fituation of the defunct in purgatory, and reproaching the brotherhood with their lukewarmnefs and want of zeal on his account. The friars, as soon as their aftonifhmen: gave them power to fpeak, confult together and agree to acquaint the reft of the community with this fingular event, fo interefting to the whole fociety.

M. Sr. Gille, who wished to carry on the joke ftill further, diffuates them from taking this ftep; telling them that they will be treated by their absent brethren as a fet of fools and vifionaries. He recommends to them, however, the immediately calling the whole community into the church, where the ghoft of the departed brother may probably reiterate his complaints. Accordingly all the friars, novices, lay-brothers, and even the domeftics of the convent are immediately fummoned and collected together. in a fhort time the voice from the roof renewed its lamentation and reproaches, and the whole convent fell on their faces, and vowed a folemn reparation. As a first ftep, they chaunted a De profundis in full choir; during the intervals of which the ghoft occafionally expreffed the comfort he received from their pious exercifes and ejaculations on his behalf. When all was over, the Prior entered into a serious converfation with M. St. Gille, and, on the ftrength of what had juft paffed, fagacioufly inveighed against the abfurd incredulity of our modern fceptics and pretended philofophers, on the article of ghosts or apparitions. M. St. Gille thought it now high time to difabufe the good fathers. This purpose, however, he found it extremely difficult to effect, till he had prevailed upon them to return with him into the church, and there be witnesses of the manner in which he had conducted this ludricous deception.

In confequence of three memoirs prefented by the Author to the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris, in which he communicated to them the obfervations that he had collected on the fubject of Ventriloquism in general, and thofe he had made on M. St. Gille in particular; that learned body deputed two of its members, M. de Fouchy, and Le Roi, to accompany him to St. Germain-en-Laye, in order to verify the facts, and to make their obfervations on the nature and caufes of this extraordinary faculty. In the courfe of this inquiry a very fingular plan was laid and executed, to put M. St. Gille's powers of deception to the trial, by engaging him to exert them in the prefence of a large party, confifting of the Commiffaries of the Academy, and fome perfons of the higheft quality, who were to dine in the open forest near St. Germain-en-Laye on a particular day.


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