It will be conceived that by submitting themselves to such gymnastics from infancy, certain men, already predisposed by atavism or a peculiar conformation, might succeed in doing things that would seem impossible to the common run of mortals. Do we not daily see acrobats remaining head downward for a length of time that would suffice to kill 99 per cent, of their spectators through congestion if they were to place themselves in the same posture? Can the savage who laboriously learns to spell, letter by letter, comprehend how many people get the general sense of an entire page at a single glance?
There is no reason, then, a priori, for assigning to the domain of legerdemain the astonishing facts that are told us by a large number of witnesses, worthy of credence, regarding a young fakir who, forty years ago, was accustomed to allow himself to be buried, and resuscitated several months afterward.
An English officer, Mr. Osborne, gives the following account of one of these operations, which took place in 1838 at the camp of King Randjet Singh:
"After a few preparations, which lasted some days, and that it would prove repugnant to enumerate, the fakir declared himself ready to undergo the ordeal. The Maharajah, the Sikhs chiefs, and Gen. Ventura, assembled near a masonry tomb that had been constructed expressly to receive him. Before their eyes, the fakir closed with wax all the apertures in his body (except his mouth) that could give entrance to air. Then, having taken off the clothing that he had on, he was enveloped in a canvas sack, and, according to his wish, his tongue was turned back in such a way as to close the entrance to his windpipe. Immediately after this he fell into a sort of trance. The bag that held him was closed and a seal was put upon it by the Maharajah. The bag was then put into a wooden box, which was fastened by a padlock, sealed, and let down into the tomb. A large quantity of earth was thrown into the hole and rammed down, and then barley was sown on the surface and sentinels placed around with orders to watch day and night.
"Despite all such precautions, the Maharajah had his doubts; so he came twice in the space of ten months (the time during which the fakir was buried), and had the tomb opened in his presence. The fakir was in the bag into which he had been put, cold and inanimate. The ten months having expired, he was disinterred, Gen. Ventura and Capt. Ward saw the padlock removed, the seals broken, and the box taken from the tomb. The fakir was taken out, and no pulsation either at the heart or pulse indicated the presence of life. As a first measure for reviving him, a person introduced a finger gently into his mouth and placed his tongue in its natural position. The top of his head was the only place where there was any perceptible heat. By slowly pouring warm water over his body, signs of life were gradually obtained, and after about two hours of care the patient got up and began to walk.
"This truly extraordinary man says that during his burial he has delightful dreams, but that the moment of awakening is always very painful to him. Before returning to a consciousness of his existence he experiences vertigoes. His nails and hair cease to grow. His only fear is that he may be harmed by worms and insects, and it is to protect himself from these that he has the box suspended in the center of the tomb."
This sketch was published in the Magasin Pittoresque in 1842 by a writer who had just seen Gen. Ventura in Paris, and had obtained from him a complete confirmation of the story told by Capt. Wade.
Another English officer, Mr. Boileau, in a work published in 1840, and Dr. MacGregor, in his medical topography of Lodhiana, narrate two analogous exhumations that they separately witnessed. The question therefore merits serious examination.--A. de Rochas, in La Nature.
Some experiments recently made by M. Olszewsky appear to show that liquid oxygen is one of the best of refrigerants. He found that when liquefied oxygen was allowed to vaporize under the pressure of one atmosphere, a temperature as low as -181.4° C. was produced. The temperature fell still further when the pressure on the liquid oxygen was reduced to nine millimeters of mercury. Though the pressure was reduced still further to four millimeters of mercury, yet the oxygen remained liquid. Liquefied nitrogen, when allowed to evaporate under a pressure of sixty millimeters of mercury, gave a temperature of -214° C., only the surface of the liquid gas became opaque from incipient solidification. Under lower pressures the nitrogen solidified, and temperatures as low as -225° C. were recorded by the hydrogen thermometer. The lowest temperature obtained by allowing liquefied carbonic oxide to vaporize was -220.5° C.