THE recent extraordinary discovery in Photography, as applied to the operations of the mind, has reduced the art of novel-writing to the merest mechanical labour. We have been kindly permitted by the artist to be present during one of his experiments; but as the invention has not yet been given to the world, we are only at liberty to relate the results, suppressing all details of chemicals and manipulation.
The operator began by stating that the ideas of the feeblest intellect, when once received on properly prepared paper, could be `developed' up to any required degree of intensity. On hearing our wish that he would begin with an extreme case, he obligingly summoned a young man from an adjoining room, who appeared to be of the very weakest possible physical and mental powers. On being asked what we thought of him we candidly confessed that he seemed incapable of anything but slèep; our friend cordially assented to this opinion.
The machine being in position, and a mesmeric rapport established between the mind of the patient and the object glass, the young man was asked whether he wished to say anything; he feebly replied `Nothing'. He was then asked what he was thinking of, and the answer, as before, was `Nothing'. The artist on this pronounced him to be in a most satisfactory state, and at once commenced the operation.
After the paper had been exposed for the requisite time, it was removed and submitted to our inspection; we found it to be covered with faint and almost illegible characters. A closer scrutiny revealed the following:
`The eve was soft and dewy mild; a zephyr whispered in the lofty glade, and a few light drops of rain
cooled the thirsty soil. At a slow amble, along the primrose-bordered path rode a gentle-looking and
amiable youth, holding a light cane in his delicate hand; the pony moved gracefully beneath him, inhaling
as it went the fragrance of the roadside flowers; the calm smile, and languid eyes, so admirably harmonizing
with the fair features of the rider, showed the even tenor of his thoughts. With a sweet though feeble
voice, he plaintively murmured out the gentle regrets that clouded his breast:
"Alas! she would not hear my prayer!
There was a moment's silence; the pony stumbled over a stone in the path, and unseated his rider. A crash was heard among the dried leaves; the youth arose; a slight bruise on his left shoulder, and a disarrangement of his cravat, were the only traces that remained of this trifling accident.'
`This,' we remarked, as we returned the paper, `belongs apparently to the Milk-and-Water School of Novels.'
`You are quite right,' our friend replied, `and, in its present state, it is, of course, utterly unsaleable in the present day: we shall find, however, that the next stage of development will remove it into the strong- minded or Matter-of-Fact School.' After dipping it into various acids, he again submitted it to us; it had now become the following:
`The evening was of the ordinary character, barometer at "change"; a wind was getting up in the wood,
and some rain was beginning to fall; a bad look-out for the farmers. A gentleman approached along the
bridle-road, carrying a stout knobbed stick in his hand, and mounted on a serviceable nag, possibly
worth some £40 or so; there was a settled business-like expression on the rider's face, and he whistled
as he rode; he seemed to be hunting for rhymes in his head, and at length repeated, in a satisfied tone,
the following composition:
"Well! so my offer was no go!
At this moment the horse set his foot in a hole, and rolled over; his rider rose with difficulty; he had sustained several severe bruises and fractured two ribs; it was some time before he forgot that unlucky day.'
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