THE SOUL-HUNTER


THE SOUL-HUNTER *

* Unpublished pages from the diary of Dr. Arthur Lee — “the Montrouge Vampire.”

I BOUGHT his body for ten francs. Months before I had bought his soul, bought it for the first glass of the poison ___ the first glass of the new series of horrors since his discharge, cured ___ cured! ___ from the “retreat.” Yes, I tempted him, I, a doctor! Bound by the vows ___ faugh! I needed his body! His soul? pah! but an incident in the bargain. For soul is but a word, a vain word ___ a battlefield of the philosopher fools, the theologian fools, since Anaximander and Gregory Nanzianus. A toy. But the consciousness? That is what we mean by “soul,” we others. That then must live somewhere. But is it, as Descartes thought, atomic? or fluid, now here, now there? Or is it but a word for the totality of bodily sense? As Weir Mitchell supposed. Well, we should see. I would buy a brain and hunt this elusive consciousness. Just so, luck follows skill; the brain of Jules Foreau was the very pick of the world's brains. The most self-conscious man in Europe! Intellectual to an incredible point, introspective beyond the Hindus, “and” with the fatal craving which made him mine. Jules Foreau, you might have been a statesman; you became a sot ___ but you shall make the name of doctor Arthur Lee famous for ever, and put an end to the great {121} problem of the ages. Aha, my friend, how mad of me to fill my diary with this cheap introspective stuff! I feel somehow that the affair will end badly. I am writing my “defence.” Certainly that excuses the form. A jury can never understand plain facts ___ the cold light of science chills them; they need eloquence, sentiment. … Well, I must pay a lawyer for that, if trouble should really arise How should it? I have made all safe ___ trust me!

I gave him the drug yesterday. The atropine was a touch of almost superhuman cleverness; the fixed, glassy stare deader than death itself. I complied with the foolish formulae of the law; in three hours I had the body in my laboratory. In the present absurd state of the law there is really nobody trustworthy in a business of this sort. “Tant pis!” I must cook my own food for a month or so. For no doubt there will be a good deal of noise. No doubt a good deal of noise. I must risk that. I dare not touch anything but the brain; it might vitiate the whole experiment. Bad enough this plaster of Paris affair. You see a healthy man of thirteen stone odd in his prime will dislike any deep interference with his brain ___ resent it. Chains are useless; nothing keeps a man still. Bar anaesthesia. And anaesthesia is the
one thing barred. He must feel, he must talk, he must be as normal as possible. So I have simply built his neck, shoulders, and arms into plaster. He can yell and he can kick. If it does him any good he is welcome. So ___ to business.

10.30. A.M. He is decidedly under the new drug ___ eta "; yet he does not
    move. He takes longer to come back to life than I supposed. {122}
10.40. Warmth to extremities. Inhalations of lambda . He cannot speak yet, I
    think. The glare of eyes is not due to hate, but to the atropine.
10.45. He has noticed the plaster arrangement and the nature of the room. I
    think he guesses. A gurgle. I light a cigarette and put it in his
    mouth. He spits it out. He seems hardly to understand my good-humour.
10.47. The first word ___ "What is it, you devil?" I show him the knife, "et"
    "cetera," and urge him to keep calm and self-collected .
10.50. A laugh, not too nervous. A good sigh. "By George, you amuse me!"
    Then with a sort of wistful sigh, "I thought you just meant to poison
    me in some new patent kind of way." Bad; he wants to die. Must cheer
    him up.
11.0. I have given my little scientific lecture. The patient unimpressed.
    The absinthe has damaged his reasoning faculty. He cannot see the "a"
    "priori" necessity of the experiment. Strange!
11.10. Lord, how funny! ___ he thinks I may be mad, and is trying all the old
    dodges to "humour" me! I must sober him.
11.15. Sobered him. Showed him his own cranium ___ he had never missed it, of
    course. Yet the fact seemed to surprise him. Important, though, for
    my thesis. Here at least is one part of the body whose absence in
    nowise diminishes the range of the sensorium ___ soul ___ what shall we
    call it? "chi ." Some important glands, of course, rule a man's
    whole life. Others again ___ what use is a lymphatic to the soul? To
    "chi "? {123} Well, we must deal with the glands in detail, at the
    fountain-head, in the brain.
11.20. My writing seems to irritate him. Daren't give drugs. He flushes and
    pales too easily. Absence of skull? Now, a little cut and tie ___ and
    we shall see.
    N.B. ___ To keep this record very distinct from the pure surgery of the
    business.
11.22. A concentrated, sustained yell. It has quite shaken me. I never heard
    the like. "All out" too, as we used to say on the Cam; he's physically
    exhausted ___ "e.g.", has stopped kicking. Legs limp as possible. Pure
    funk; I never hurt him.
11.25. A most curious thing: I feel an intense dislike of the man coming over
    me; and, with an almost insane fascination, the thought, "Suppose I
    were to "kiss" him?" Followed by a shiver of physical loathing and
    disgust. Such thoughts have no business here at all. To work.
12.0. I want a drink; there are most remarkable gaps in the consciousness ___
    not implying unconsciousness. I am inclined to think that what we call
    continuous pain is a rhythmic beat, frequency of beat less than one in
    sixty. The shrieks are simply heartbreaking.
12.5. Silence, more terrible than the yells. Afraid I had an accident. He
    smiles, reassures me. Speaks ___ "Look here, doctor, enough of this
    fooling; I'm annoyed with you, really don't know why ___ and I yell
    because I know it worries you. But listen to this: under the drug I
    really died, though you thought I was simulating death. On the
    contrary, it is now that {124} I am simulating life." There seemed to
    me, and still seems, some essential absurdity in these words; yet I
    could not refute him. I opened my mouth and closed it. The voice went
    on: "It follows that your whole experiment is a childish failure." I
    cut him short; this time I found words. "You forget your position," I
    said hotly. "It is against all precedent for the vivisectee to abuse
    his master. Ingrate!" So incensed was I that I strode angrily to the
    operating-chair and paralysed the ganglia governing the muscles of
    speech. Imagine my surprise when he proceeded, entirely incommoded:
    "On the contrary, it is you who are dead, Arthur Lee." The voice came
    from behind me, from far off. "Until you die you never know it, but
    you have been dead all along." My nerve is clearly gone; this must be
    a case of pure hallucination. I begin to remember that I am alone ___
    alone in the big house with the ... patient. Suppose I were to fall
    ill? ... Was this thought written in my face? He laughed harsh and
    loud. Disgusting beast!
12.15. A pretty fool I am, tying the wrong nerve. No wonder he could go on
    talking! A nasty slip in such an experiment as this. Must check the
    whole thing through again. ...
1.0. O.K. now. Must get some lunch. Oddly enough, I am pretty sure he was
    telling the truth. He feels no pain, and only yells to annoy me.
2.10. Excellent! I suppress all the senses but smell, and give him his
    wife's handkerchief. He bubbles over with amorous drivel; I should
    love to tell him what she {125} died of, and who. ... A curious trait,
    that last remark. Why do I "dislike" the man? I used to get on A1 with
    him. (N.B. to stitch eyelids with silk. Damn the glare.)
2.20. Theism! The convolution with the cause-idea lying too close to the
    convolution with the fear-idea. And imagination at work on the nexus!
    About 24 mu between Charles Bradlaugh and Cardinal Newman!
2.50. So for faith and doubt? Sceptical criticism of my whole experiment
    boils up in me. What is "normality"? Even so, what possible relation
    is there between things and the evidence of them recorded in the brain?
    Evidence of something, maybe. A thermometer chart gives a curve; yet
    the mercury has only moved up and down. What about the time dimension?
    But it is not a dimension; it is only a word to explain multiplicity of
    sensation. Words! words! words! This is the last straw. There is no
    conceivable standard whereby we may measure anything whatever; and it
    is useless to pretend there is.
3.3. In short, we are all mad. Yet all this is but the expression of the
    doubt-stop in the human organ. Let me pull out his faith-stop!
4.45. Done; the devil's own job. He seems to be a Pantheist Antinomian with
    leanings towards Ritualism. Not impressive. My observation-stop (= my
    doubt-stop nearly) is full out. (Funny that we should fall into the
    old faculty jargon.) Perhaps if one's own faith-stop were out there
    would be a fight; if one's reception-of-new-ideas-stop, a conversion.{126}
5.12. I only wish I had two of them to test the "tuning-up" theory of
    collective Hallucination and the like. Out of the question; we must
    wait for Socialism. But enough for the day is the research thereof.
    I've matter for a life's work already.
7.50. An excellent scratch dinner ___ none too soon. Turtle soup, potted
    char, Yorkshire pie, Stilton, burgundy. Better than nothing. To-
    morrow the question of putrefactive changes in the limbs and their
    relation to the brain.
3.1. Planted bacilli in left foot. Will leave him to sleep. No difficulty
    there; the brute's as tired as I am. Too tired to curse. I recited
    "Abide with Me" throughout to soothe him. Some lines distinctly
    humorous under the circumstances. Will have a smoke in the study and
    check through the surg. record. Too dazed to realise everything, but I
    am assuredly an epoch. Whaur's your Robbie Pasteur noo?
12.20. So I've been on a false trail all day! The course of the
    A.M. research has let right away from the "chi -hunt." The byways have
    obscured the main road. Valuable though; very very valuable. In the
    morning success. Bed!
12.30. Yells and struggles again when I went in to say good-night. As I had
    carefully paralysed "all" sensory avenues (to ensure perfect rest), how
    was he aware of my presence? The memory of the scented handkerchief,
    too, very strong; talked a lot of his wife, thinking here with him.
    Pah! what beasts some men must be! Disgusting fellow! I'm no prude
    either! If ever I do a woman I'll stop the Filth-gutter. "Ce serait"
    "trop." {127}
12.40 Maybe he did "not" know of my presence; merely remembered me. He has
    cause. How much there is in one's mind of the merely personal idea of
    scoring off the bowlers. And every man is a batsman in a world of
    bowlers. Like that leg-cricket game, what did we call it? Oh! bed,
    bed!
5.0. Patient seriously ill; plaster irks breathing; all sorts of troubles
    expected and unexpected. Putrefaction of left foot well advanced:
    promises well for the day's work if I can check collapse.
5.31. Patient very much better; paralysed motor ganglia; safe to remove
    plaster. Too much time wasted on these foolish mechanical details of
    life when one is looking for the Master of the Machine.
6.12. Patient in excellent fettle; now to find "chi " ___ the soul!
11.55. Worn out; no "chi " yet. Patient well, normal; have checked shrieks,
    ingenious dodge.
2.15. No time for food; brandy. Patient fighting fit. No "chi ."
3.1. "Dead!!!" No cause in the world ___ I must have cut right into the
    "chi ," the soul.
    The meningeal ---
[Dr. Lee's diary breaks off abruptly at this point. His researches were never published. It will be remembered that he was convicted of causing the death of his mistress, Jeannette Pheyron, under mysterious circumstances, some six months after the date of the above. The surgical record referred to has not been found. ___ EDITOR.]

{128}

 

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