From Demon Possession to Magic Show: Ventriloquism, Religion, and the Enlightenment
As the project has proceeded, we've become interested in how religion is inscribed in bodies. Diane Winston has reflected on the role of costume in Salvation Army life. Marie Griffith pointed to healing practices in Pentecostalism. And Robert Orsi is looking at how Catholic practice shaped children's experience. In his work for the project, Leigh Eric Schmidt has been interested in how the senses-particularly hearing--have shaped religious practice and ideas. In this article, from the June 1998 issue of Church History, Schmidt looks at how Enlightenment scholars and other assorted skeptics used ventriloquism to illustrate how the ear can be deceived into believing in supernatural voices.
Enjoy Rare Signed Books For Your Shelf In Saducismus Triumphatus: Or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions (1681), Joseph Glanvill marveled at those so possessed by the devil that they became his mouthpiece: "For Ventriloquy, or speaking from the bottom of the Belly, 'tis a thing I think as strange and difficult to be conceived as any thing in Witchcraft, nor can it, I believe, be performed in any distinctness of articulate sounds, without such assistance of the Spirits, that spoke out of the Daemoniacks." By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, ventriloquism, loosened from the confines of theological debates over demonology, had become a salient category in rationalistic discussions of religion and had taken center stage as a form of enlightened entertainment. This expanded construction of ventriloquy provided a tangible way of thinking about revealed religion as rooted in illusion--that, indeed, various wonders of the devout ear such as divine calls, the voices of demonic possession, prophecy, mystical locutions, oracles, and even the sounds of shamanic spirits had their origins in vocal deceptions that empiricists could pinpoint and magicians could demonstrate. The new ventriloquism, in its sober appraisal of all sectarian enthusiasm and religious credulity made suspect the very claim that God could speak to or through the human. In performative practice, the ventriloquist's art shifted the focus of learned attention from the divine struggle over the soul to the protean malleability of personal identity, the fears and attractions of imposture, and the sheer pleasures of amusement.1 Despite varied pressures of reform in the early modern world, magical practices proved highly resilient, particularly in their old dance with natural philosophy. The Enlightenment did not so much assault magic as absorb and secularize it; with the help of the market, legerdemain was
transformed into a widely distributed commodity of edifying amusement.2 The enlightened magician cultivated such newly codified arts as ventriloquism and the display of phantasmagoria, turning the old juggler's repertory into an object lesson on religious illusion and epistemological trickery (with the consequent need to hone technical knowledge and skeptical rationality). In the expanding marketplace of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century entertainment--in theaters, museums, inns, coffeehouses, and concert halls--magic was given renewed prominence as a stage art explicitly allied with philosophical experiment rather than supernatural power. The old forms of magic--alchemy, astrology, palmistry, healing, and treasure-seeking--persisted and often enough even flourished, but, from the late eighteenth century on, the magician increasingly appeared as one of the alluring celebrities of the Enlightenment, a wizard arrayed against wizardry, an exposer of "supernatural humbugs." This skeptical pose became characteristic of leading American illusionists from P. T. Barnum to Houdini to the Amazing Randi.3 Through closely examining the reformulation of ventriloquism from a demonological category to a technique of enlightened magic, this essay circles around two larger points. First, it looks at how rationalists went about creating a universal, naturalistic category for explaining (away) religious phenomena, especially the "irrational" voices of popular Christian experience. It locates the formation and diffusion of such knowledge in the intersections of philosophy and entertainment, scientific experiment and magical display, print and performance. For the learned, ventriloquism provided a grounds for suspicion and contest: knowledge of the art came to supply a ready-at-hand script for the performative exposure of the "superstitious" beliefs of others.4 Second, whereas most scholars, in keeping with the wider emphasis on the "ocularcentrism" of modernity, have drawn attention to the optics of modern science, technology, consumption, and surveillance, this essay foregrounds the "aural culture" of the Enlightenment. To the visual moorings of modernity need to be added the complementary concerns with the disciplining of the ear the science of acoustics, the voices of revelation and madness, the perceptual "illusions" of hearing, the technologies of the auditory, and the aesthetics of sound. Amid the putative visual dominance of the modern sensorium, the sudden popularity of ventriloquism as both philosophy and entertainment at the end of the eighteenth century gave expression to the continuing strength of these aural fascinations among the learned. The assumed eclipse of orality by the visuality of print has left hearing's complex history far more muffled than hearkened to, submerged under the reigning narrative of the eye's modern hegemony.5 What the enlightened strove, in particular, to contain was the explosive aurality of popular Christianity--all the internal and external voices that beckoned the faithful from George Fox and John Bunyan to John Woolman, Lorenzo Dow and Jarena Lee, all the "hearsay" of the demonic and the miraculous. As Tom Paine concluded with characteristic bluntness, "I totally disbelieve that the mighty ever did communicate anything to man, by any mode of speech, in any language, or by any kind of vision." To destroy the anathema of immediate revelation--what Ethan Allen mocked as a "heavenly dictating voice"--the enlightened resorted to various devices: some textual and historical (such as the attack on the biblical record or on the Sibylline prophecies), some medical (such as the detailed pathologizing of enthusiasm or the delineation of the illusions of the diseased ear), some acoustical (such as the wide-ranging pursuit of the mechanics and technologies of sound), some political (such as the unmasking of the oracular impostures of tyrannical priests), and some playful (such as the use of rational amusements like ventriloquism and the phantasmagoria). As part of this multilayered critique, the sportive magic of the
" In demonological discussions." who spoke during trances or fits an apparently diabolical voice. The term itself. Speaking as it were from the bottome of hir bellie." Among Scot's lengthy explanations for the whole affair. "Pythonists" or "Ventriloqni" speak in a "hollowe" voice.6 AN ENLIGHTENMENT THEORY OF THE ORIGINS OF RELIGION: OR HOW TO TURN SUPERNATURAL VOICES INTO AURAL ILLUSIONS From late antiquity into the eighteenth century. and conjuring. that the Woman could by a natural knack. and so abused Saule. in hir counterfeit hollow voice. In the early modern versions of this debate about Samuel's ghost. who.8 Whv would God allow necromancy. as difficult as this. who formerly had sought to suppress all magical diviners. With the help of the necromancer. a practice repeatedly abominated. necromancy.Enlightenment was serious business. meant literally one who speaks from the belly. without anie of these supernaturall devices: for I could cite a hundred papisticall and cousening practises.7 Much of the formative discussion of ventriloquy in the Christian tradition focused on the story of the Witch of Endor recounted in Samuel 28 in which King Saul. who was speaking and by what means or powers. and pagan idolatry. argued that it was "a real Apparition" and thought that the ventriloquial explanation was nonsense: "It cannot certainly in any reason be thought. as a member of the Royal Society. but one of the most intriguing to centuries of interpreters was the question of the ventriloquized voice. as cleanlie handled. much different from their usual one. answering to Saul in Samuels name. he offered this image of magical illusion: "This Pythonist being Ventriloqua. was committed to establishing an empirical base for the defense of supernaturalism against emergent mechanists and materialists. As Reginald Scot explained in The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584). shifted the blame. ventriloquism was deeply embedded in Christian discourses about demon possession. offering up the skeptical professions of the philosophes in a performative and entertaining mode. so as to deceive
. that is. disguises himself and visits a sorceress in hope of summoning up the ghost of Samuel and discerning the future of battle against the Philistines.. and it long held a place among many other specialized markers for different types of divination. prophecy. comparing the woman's powers to that constant Protestant bugbear of Catholic "magic": "Let us confesse that Samuell was not raised . and see whether this illusion may not be contrived by the art and cunning of the woman. and are "such as take upon them to give oracles" or "to tell where things lost become. or who claimed soothsaying powers. interlocutors swung. Sat hears the prophet Samuel speak from beyond the grave--an apparent success for the soothsayer that made for considerable anxious commentary in the patristic literature and long afterward. a leading harbinger of dissent from long-standing demonic readings." In direct opposition Joseph Glanvill. between those who saw the power of the demonic and the supernatural on display and those who supported increasingly skeptical explanations. did cast hir selfe into a transe. much less that she could from her Belly imitate his Voice.. Reginald Scot's work. speak such a Discourse as is related from Samuel. to be used for divine purposes? Was this whole scene not accomplished through the power of the devil? Was this apparitional voice of Samuel real and prophetic or only a diabolical illusion created by the enchantress to trick a weakened Saul? The story bundled many compelling theological issues together. such nomenclature to one who had "a familiar spirit. as in the larger controversies over witchcraft. in its Greek and Latin derivations.
"that the voice was not her own. and George Sinclair--the contention that necromancers. was predictably biting about ventriloquy. that so by the concourse of people money may be given them. Ann Cole. was that she often uttered her "reviling" expressions without "any motion at all" of her mouth and lips--"a clear demonstration. "hath been often practiced in these latter days in many places. or as if it came from their own Fundament. were those afflicted with such trances." One of the signs that the devil was indeed speaking "vocally" in another New England woman. Elizabeth Knapp." Increase Mather thought. that what they shall say be heard. to draw many silly people to them. with his own firsthand encounters with the possessed. ventriloquy was one of the terms used to debate whether or not Satan was speaking through the possessed: was it a "familiar spirit" who was making people roar out in low and unnatural voices. so they by this imposture do make the people beleeve that they are possesed by the devil. and demoniacs were mostly frauds was "threadbare Sophistry. "Engastriloques. as 'tis judged. The lexicographer Thomas Blount captured this in his entry under ventriloquist for his Glossographia (1656)--"one that has an evil spirit speaking in his belly. easily placed the term in a frame
. "This imposture of speaking in the Belly. voices. as if it was from a different Part of the Room. speaking within them." "Such persons are call'd. and namely in this Island of England. or roosters)? Or." Thomas Ady wrote in A Perfect Discovery of Witches (1661)."13 For all the sneering of writers from Scot to Hobbes to Hutchinson.11 Skeptics from Reginald Scot on were inevitably contemptuous of all such trickeries of the voice." the Anglican Francis Hutchinson explained in 1718 in an essay attacking the reality of witches. taunt ministers and godly neighbors. seeing such vocal forms as part of the "false miracles" of enchanters by which they were "able to make very many men believe" that their own voice "is a voice from Heaven. and tormenting them. not moving his lips. ventriloquism was being fashioned into an anti-enthusiast weapon. these discussions long remained torn. and bellowings fraudulent or diseased? As the Reverend John Whiting reported of a Hartford woman. Henry More."12 In Leviathan (1651)." In the hands of philosophical rationalists. another way of exposing Christian wonders and delimiting superstition. making use of her lips) held a discourse for a considerable time." he said. cats. in 1662. low" voices from sometimes motionless lips highly compelling evidence for the fearful presence of demons. she "was taken with strange fits." Those who held on to the supernaturalist position heard in these "grum. They can make. apparitions. and so do by that pretence move the people to charity. to stand wondring at them. apparitions. "They can change their Voices. and wonders that Glanvill and his various allies stood ready to defend against the incipient challenges of medical materialists and other skeptical debunkers of witchcraft. horses." For Glanvill--as with the Mathers. or mimic the cries of animals in what amounted to an infernal menagerie (dogs. "Some Counterfeits can speak out of their Bellies with a little or no Motion of their Lips. arguing for a naturalistic view of wonders and for the prevalence of religious imposture.10 In the context of such dramatic religious phenomena.one that knew him as Saul did. or one that by use and practice can speake as it were out of his belly." Diabolical as well as prophetic utterances were part of a biblical world of spirits. wherein she (or rather the devil. and they that practice it do it commonly to this end. and possessions. or Ventriloquists.9 The scriptural debate over the Witch of Endor and the sources of Samuel's voice had its lived counterpart in the "sacred theater" of possession that haunted seventeenth-century Protestants and Catholic alike. that they shall not be like their own. Thomas Hobbes. witches." In the late 1740s John Wesley.
14 The decisive turn toward the Enlightenment construction of ventriloquism was made in 1772 by Joannes Baptista de La Chapelle. a widely recognized form of stage entertainment. the rogue ventriloquist.15 La Chapelle began in the thicket of the age-old Christian debate about the Witch of Endor and the apparitional voice of Samuel. Frederick Quitman. and Russian (1787) and widely abstracted in the new encyclopedias. Likewise. Ventriloquism. a Lutheran minister who was ashamed of lingering Christian "superstitions. It was the main source for the 1797 entry on the subject in the Encyclopedia Britannica (and its ensuing American incarnation). oracles. and its stories even became staples of popular how-to guides by the mid-nineteenth century. which required neither supernatural assistance
. La Chapelle's treatise took its place in a stream of works by such writers as Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle." Another preacher. encyclopedist. He moved the debate out of the biblical narratives. through the art of ventriloquy. fetishes. the scriptural commentaries. and Charles de Brosses and emerged as especially influential in the interpretation of vocal deceptions. suggesting that those rationalistic critics were wrongheaded who saw mere guile in the extraordinary manifestations of popular Christianity. In one American replay of the Scot-Glanvill divide in 1810.similar to Glanvill's. priestly cheats. still encountered demoniacs with altered voices and Satan-controlled tongues and hurried to pray over them. ou l'engastrimythe. The phenomenon of ventriloquism thus remained embroiled in Christian debates about the diabolical and the revelatory even as the skeptical sought to turn it into a consummate example of staged religious imposture. He gave it renewed currency as an idea. John Trenchard. and mediumistic phenomena. a practiced technique of modulation. others would then turn his philosophic observations into a system of rational recreation. was an art. La Chapelle. Part of much wider currents within the Enlightenment to establish a natural history of superstitions. not the belly. Robert Scott. reinvented ventriloquism as a general category for the rationalistic explanation of supernatural voices. revelatory voices. Methodist preachers in the early republic. misdirection. who could speak in a manner unobserved by the spectators. and muscular control. That year La Chapelle--mathematician. Translated into Dutch (1774). had the ability to feign voices and to create the aural illusion of the supernatural." suggested that the Witch of Endor be interpreted as "a ventriloquist. Taking up the side that the soothsayer was a studied impostor. he concluded. in 1799. fragmentary sequel Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist (1803-1805). La Chapelle's tome provided much of the basic analysis of ventriloquism across Europe and North America for the next century. and another member of the Royal Society--published his 572-page opus. that deserved attention for finding the "causes" of this vocal phenomenon). and then he cut through the whole tangle. La Chapelle expanded this into a blanket explanation for superstition that moved from the artifice of the ancient oracles to credulity and fanaticism among his contemporaries. inventor. and anatomy (it was the physiology of the mouth and throat. and pious frauds. more than anyone else. it influenced a mix of philosophic interpreters from Dugald Stewart to David Brewster to Eusebe Salverte. Italian (1786). it was used by Charles Brockden Brown as the background on the topic for his major fictional creation of Carwin. argued La Chapelle. Antonius van Dale. in Wieland (1798) and in the serialized. a small pamphlet published in Morristown. it provided all of the material for one of the first American expositions of the art. miracles. Le Ventriloque. who. New Jersey. such as Solomon Sharp and William Swayze. and the theological territory of demonology into the domain of experimentation. quickly countered Quitman's exegesis with a public rejoinder affirming the divine reality of the apparition and the voice. acoustics.
confounding people with his amateur illusions time and again. but the grocer certainly had a roguish streak. But then Saint-Gille. and then the researchers laboriously persuaded her of the real source of her illusion (the gendered aspects of this exhibition-the men of reason. reproduced from one commentary to another. he anchored his attack on imposture in experimental exhibitions. Saint-Gille learns that the brothers are in mourning over the recent death of one of their members. instead of going to view the possessed. particularly of the grocer. and now those demystified illusions could be turned into a Baconian exercise of enlightened entertainment. drew out the doubled moral of the story.nor any special endowments of nature. he projects a ghostly voice of the dead friar-one that laments the indifferent prayers of his fellows for his suffering soul in Purgatory." was particularly important for La Chapelle's purpose of establishing his point that ventriloquism was a generative force of religious delusion. That was shift of perspective. lets the duped in on the trickery--telling them that it had all been done by the art of ventriloquy. conjured up similar conclusions. falling on the floor in fear and astonishment. "The art of the ventriloquists is then admirable for establishing and destroying superstition. so identified. but most would repeat his basic conviction: ventriloquy was a primeval font of religious illusion that was capable of being turned from the purposes of occult mystery to modern eclaircissement. Overawed by the divine evidences he finds in the ghostly voice. Locating two contemporaries who had developed ventriloquial skills for their own amusement--one a Viennese baron who dabbled in puppetry and mimicry and another a nearby grocer named Saint-Gille who always enjoyed a good practical joke--La Chapelle built his explanatory framework on scientific report and empirical observation. thus reaffirming the ease with which the senses are deceived and the need for critical reason.18
. and trying desperately to make amends to their lost brother. with its anti-Catholic dimensions taking on an added edge when repeated in Britain and North America. Unlike previous writers. Saint-Gille takes the devout back to the church and turns it into the scene of their awakening from illusion. ventriloquism could be turned with delicious irony from being a buttress of superstition to a tool of the Enlightenment. that it was an important technique for creating "an appearance of revelation. a didactic amusement that would enact rationality's triumph over superstition and truth's routing of fraud. La Chapelle reports in all seriousness. Saint-Gille's talents were employed to convince a credulous woman that she heard the voice of a spirit. Other writers on the subject would improve the details of La Chapelle's anatomy or augment his acoustic precision. showing them his techniques of mystification. that he himself is the all-too-human source of this oracle. aptly "Les Religieux dupés. the woman of superstitious faith-were all too transparent). monitored by two other natural philosophers from the Academie Royale des Sciences. Soon the ventriloquist has the whole community praying for forgiveness.16 La Chapelle insisted that Saint-Gille was an honest man and hence a source. the prior even tells Saint-Gille that such apparitions effectively put to flight all the skeptical reasonings of the philosophers. La Chapelle's formal experiments with Saint-Gille. he closely observed a magical performer. One story." Taking refuge in a monastery during a storm. In one test. visiting the tomb in the church. In the consummate act of the enlightened magician. La Chapelle. The study of nature had yielded up the secrets of the sorcerer's power as well as the ancient springs of political and religious despotism."17 That farcical story became La Chapelle's most renowned scene. The point to La Chapelle was that he had found one of the originating causes of religious phantasms and that now.
20 The immediate religious struggles on which such experiment observations fed were the battles over what the enlightened like to cal popular enthusiasm and credulity. well acquainted with the powers of the ventriloquist. to give us true information of things necessary to our preservation and happiness. I have. became especially concerned about the art's apparent challenge to empiricism." The powers of impersonation paled before the minute discriminations of "an attentive ear. La Chapelle gradually saw through his tricks. at once referred [the voice] directly to the mouth of the speaker. One was epistemology. become distinctly sensible of the imposition. or under a panic. "our author. Stewart. the art now illumined many of the issues that were the lifeblood of eighteenth-century intellectual life. As the editors of the 1797 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica assured. and have sometimes wondered that it should have misled me for a moment.19 The acoustic deceptions of ventriloquists (or gastriloquists. The perceptual disciplines that the ventriloquists demanded would help further the aural culture of a highly reasonable Christianity. human senses." Likewise. Reid briefly. no longer hearing the voices as if they came from rooftops or cellars." Reid admitted that he (unlike La Chapelle) had not had "the fortune to be acquainted with any of these artists. thought deceptions of this variety finally had "but narrow limits. Dugald Stewart. who was able to frequent ventriloquists' exhibitions and pined to see more (especially the celebrated Alexandre Vattemare). if imperfect. and their varied allies imagined was a fine-tuned discipline of hearing." What Reid. Both Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart addressed the issue in their massive philosophies of the mind. Stewart at some length. Reid acknowledged. of
." but hazarded that the vocal illusions possible were "only such an imperfect imitation as may deceive those who are inattentive.With La Chapelle's expansive reformulation of ventriloquism. placed his consideration of ventriloquism in his Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (3 vols. for example. in general. Reid affirmed that the senses were not "given to us by some malignant demon on purpose to delude us" but rather "by the wise and beneficent Author of nature. were "limited and imperfect." but they were not inherently "fallacious. in effect. 1792-1827) at the end of a long section on "sympathetic imitation" in which he considered the human propensity for copying others and the weighty influence that the imagination has on the the body. a carefully trained ear that would minimize the power of both "acoustic illusions" and "wonderful relations. before ventriloquism had been formalized as a stage performance or as "an engine for drawing money. Dugald Stewart. as Reid called them) were thought to be containable within this framework. Improving. Writing in 1785. The impressions that the mind received through the senses. Ever the enemy of skeptics." always "able to distinguish the copy from the original"." so empirical knowledge was both widely reliable and also capable of ongoing refinement. perhaps even sharpened in their discernment. La Chapelle's study provided observers with a new "ground of suspicion.. and augmenting the senses were crucial parts of this Baconian enterprise." After habitual study of Saint-Gille. Here he took up "the contagious nature of convulsions." Reid's confident pledge was that the drag of credulity and the power of deception weakened as experience deepened and learning grew. emerged from these vocal tricks unscathed." at least for the philosophically disciplined viewer: "In the progress of entertainment. keep people from hearing things in credulous ways. training. Predictably the Scottish Common-Sense thinkers." that would. and having acquired a new kind of experience. and both saw these vocal deceptions in the context of their larger efforts to discipline the senses. whose arguments for the reliability of human perception were so prized for American Protestant didacticism.
hysteric disorders. for all their cultivation of republican virtue and education. attesting that the susceptibility of the human imagination to fall for such vocal illusions was immense. the superstitious person being "the willing dupe of his own judgment. and of all different kinds of enthusiasm" and the joined importance of imitation and imagination in explaining "these various phenomena." The ventriloquist had "the supernatural always at his command. steeped via their father in a long history of radical Protestant sectarianism. Sometimes I conceived the apparition to be more than
. The pious Theodore. a tongue-tied Presbyterian minister turned fluent natural philosopher. In his Letters on Natural Magic (1832). somewhat more cautious. after all. Clara. and imagination provided guiding categories of explanation. The Wieland family. The Transformation and in Memoirs of Carwin.21 Ventriloquism was relevant to this discussion for Stewart because of the crucial role that "the imagination of the spectator or of the hearer" played in the human susceptibility to both deception and enthusiasm. to the agreeable delusions practised on [them] by the artist. had journeyed from a Quaker upbringing into deistic skepticism.22 No one explored such tensile propositions about reason and religious voices with greater depth than Charles Brockden Brown in Wieland." "The influence over the human mind which the ventriloquist derives from the skillful practice of his art. the ways in which their own imaginations were excited. picked up on Stewart's point. "is greater that which is exercised by any other species of conjuror. proves an easy target for Carwin's deceptions after his arrival at their tranquil home." Brewster concluded. or. David Brewster. making up for any gaps in the artifice. "of listening to the audible enunciation" of the divine will. the Biloquist." being able to "summon up innumerable spirits" and to make them "unequivocally present to the imagination of his auditors. of panics. the Camisards. and the Cambuslang revival) for which sympathy. like Tom Paine. for Stewart the point was the way in which the ventriloquist "manages the imaginations of his audience" through misdirection." but that was part of a longer train of popular enthusiasms and religious frenzies (such as the Quakers. Whereas some wanted to emphasize the formal acoustic dimensions of vocal illusions." The ventriloquist was thus like the mesmerist or the revivalist in bringing the imaginations of his spectators under his own skillful management. retain active religious imaginations and are all too ready to attribute supernatural agency to Carwin's mysterious voices. and Carwin's ventriloquist act is one emblem of Brown's religious disavowals. and theater. Brown. finally yielding "without resistance. The Scottish Enlightenment was hardly any more moderate than the French when it came to retuning the resonances of popular Christian piety. imitation. The representation of Carwin partakes of La Chapelle's doubled perspective: this knowledge abetted the Enlightenment's ambition for a new mode of hearing deaf to the sounds of supernatural promptings and at the same time underscored the disheartening power of enthusiasm and the ease of imposture. Stewart accented the complicity of the deceived. is torn by the appearance of the marvelous: "My opinions were the sport of eternal change. Clara and her brother Theodore." In between images of the ventriloquist's enormous power to manipulate people's enthusiastic imaginations and the confident assertions that ventriloquism finally only advanced the rationalistic disciplines of modernity existed a core Enlightenment concern: the triumphant progress of the new learning faced the obduracy of popular religion." Animal magnetism was his leading example of the power of the imagination in rendering people susceptible to "theatrical representations. counterfeiting. had long sought "the blissful privilege of direct communication" with God.
who had been many years dead. reason easily slipped into humbug. Carwin feels emboldened to move from simple mimicry and the ventriloquizing of distant voices to feigning utterances of the dead and even God. La Chapelle and his varied heirs had all seen ventriloquism as an ancient conspiracy of priests." Carwin. My father was a confident believer in supernatural tokens. both his own family and the Wielands fail badly at suspicion. and voices had been heard on a multitude of occasions. it tendered a naturalistic vocabulary to sustain such incredulity in the face of the clamoring voices of religious inspiration and the sweeping rise of revivalistic fervor. It provided a naturalistic lens on religions across the board and came specifically to provide a way of making sense of indigenous shamans encountered through colonial contact. "Neither angel nor devil had any part in affair. "No other instrument" but deft ventriloquy was necessary to "institute a new sect. The voice of his wife.human. too late." but they had remained impervious to his "mode of explaining these appearances.24 Ventriloquism offered a playful way for rationalists and deists to scorn the continuing ferment of enthusiasm and prophecy-all the innovative voices of evangelical awakening. what Brown calls interchangeably. had been twice heard at midnight whispering at his pillow. In Carwin. Brown always had it both ways: Enlightenment dreams that philosophical experiments with ventriloquism would unmask popular "superstitions" blended into the new masquerades made possible with such "rational" forms of recreation. Yet. had tried to make the Wielands aware of "the power of mimicry. Carwin's studied art dupes them all (with murderous consequences for the Wielands as Theodore is eventually thrown into such madness by these "divine" voices that he murders his wife and children). will provide the naturalistic grounds for presuming "auricular deception" through his learned exposition of ventriloquy or. "A thousand superstitious tales were current in the family. provides a potent "lesson to mankind on the evils of credulity.23 Similar credulity within Carwin's own family started him in the cultivation of this art." Carwin learns from a European mentor. a sardonic hedge against prophecy and demonism.25 The uses to which ventriloquial theory could be put ultimately extended far beyond such "local" applications within European and North American Christianity." on the fatality of religious illusions. "double-tongued" quality of this vocal trickery). a strategy of disenchantment. The whole episode. "Can you doubt these were illusions?" Clara's uncle asks her with appropriate skepticism after hearing about the voices." Seeing in such popular religious beliefs an opening to manipulate his father. The mesmerizing impostor Carwin was less interested finally in taming the enthusiastic imagination than manipulating "the ignorant and credulous" for his own ends of wealth. the apparently repentant Carwin tells Clara as he reveals the technical knowledge of his enlightened magic. In this juggling of the Enlightenment and magic." Carwin avers." The philosophic knowledge of ventriloquism provided an assumption of suspicion. power and pleasure." incapable of absorbing such knowedge. biloquism (aptly capturing the divided. as one of the chief means employed among
. Put to the test. Brown created the sort of charlatan who bared the "irrationality" hidden in La Chapelle's embrace of the illusionist Saint-Gille as a philosophical ally. all the personal discoveries of divine "calling" amid these outpourings of the Spirit. I had no grounds upon which to build a disbelief. "Apparitions had been seen. and such subversions from within made the natural philosopher's hope of containing the eruptive voices of democratized Christianity all the more a pipe dream. Earlier Carwin. tipping his hand.
Decades later one of the major ethnographers among the Chukchees and Eskimos still included in his massive field report a section on "ventriloquism and other tricks in his discussion of religious practices. one more time. Lyon's story was then picked up by David Brewster in his Letters on Natural Magic.27 Using ventriloquism as a way of interpreting religious wonders and advancing scientific rationality continued to expand after the excursions of Stewart and Brewster. was possibly the son of a slave mother and white master. only the natural curiosity of the ventriloquist's illusion. voices." the negation of all the old marvels--ghosts. Stewart." Philosopher and explorer thus joined together to make ventriloquism a vagrant hypothesis ready to explain Eskimo "wizards" as readily as Delphic oracles or sectarian enthusiasts." it turned out. La Chapelle's accounts of abusive ventriloquial pranks were given an even more explicitly racial spin in the anecdote of one performer who supposedly disrupted a black revival meeting with a series of thrown voices. Some years later. finding "all the effect of ventriloquism" in the varied imitations that he saw enacted among the Eskimos by "an ugly and stupid-looking young glutton. each moment becoming more distant. . and could with credit to themselves carry on a contest with the best artists of the kind of civilized countries. the learned were able to take "possession" of shamanism itself. quickly becoming part of the ventriloquist's echo chamber. and was so managed as to sound as if retreating beneath the deck." Here." Speaking wryly of a diviner's possession by a spirit named Tornga and the "hollow" voice that replaced the shaman's own. much to the consternation of the congregation. no threat of difference. ready to incorporate these "savages" and their "male wizards" into their peculiar account of superstition's natural history. "The Chukchee ventriloquists. so that they would avoid being deceived by the slippery talk of mountebanks as well as the supernatural tales of "colored servants. Lyon reported what he heard in diction shaped by ventriloquial categories: "Suddenly the voice seemed smothered. when it ceased entirely.Egyptians." Through the category of ventriloquy. in 1851. no hint of the ecstatic or the demonic. the ventriloquist. and Lyon saw no mystery in this. visions. "Les Religieux dupés" had become "Blitz and the Darkies. ritual into art(ifice). with a laudatory preface by the Amherst chemist Edward Hitchcock." he observed. as Brewster said. having broken up the meeting. and other pagans "to effect the apparition of their gods. Greeks. "ventriloquists of no mean skill. were La Chapelle's stories of Saint-Gille's duped monks and Dugald Stewart's appropriation of Captain Lyon's travels." but Dugald Stewart made a significant extension of the construct by concluding his remarks on the subject in Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind with an account of Captain George Lyon's travels among the Eskimos. to perform their own interpretive sleight of hand of transforming the strange into the familiar. the narrator invites his ostensibly white reader to share a good laugh at the irredeemably credulous. [I]t is really wonderful how a shaman can keep up the illusion. the avowed hope was the further "diffusion of Scientific principles. . Richard Potter. and prognostications--as well as the refinement of the judgment of the young. and ultimately giving the idea of being many feet below the cabin. In a lengthy tract called Ventriloquism Explained (1834). were simply." though tellingly illumination is not offered to the "cullered bredderen." Though one of the earliest ventriloquists. "display great skill. only what EuroAmerican stage magicians had by now rendered a harmless and humorous simulation." Brewster. . leaves them with "their eyes rolled heavenward. "The Eskimaux of Igloolik.26 Stewart and Brewster read Lyon's "curious" narrative of exploration with their new explanatory tools." Instead. stage ventriloquism remained a predominantly Euro-American
. Lyon himself had licensed this reading.
George Havelock Helm. and it is from this source that all the superstitions and religions have grown out. offered in 1900 a translation of a French essay on ventriloquism and prophecy by physiologist Paul Garnault that distilled in undiluted form this Enlightenment theory of religion's illusionist origins: "In all ancient religions. Religious and artistic ventriloquism both represent a very ancient illusion. and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. the American Helm echoed the French Garnault: It is through the prodigy of the dead being able to speak... The Practical Magician. In addition to these "houses of deceits. Ventriloquism Made Easy (1860). and secret meitions of things" in the New Atlantis. Not the gnostic occultist. and are the first source of the belief in prophecy and divination. Zulus. HIS OWN MAGICIAN": PERFORMANCES OF SUSPICION In his vision of the model college for increasing "the knowledge of Causes. Such ideas were given materiality in the actual performances of enlightened magicians.. and illusions. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters. but the common juggler would become part of the advancement of empiricism: We have also houses of deceits of the senses. But we do hate all impostures and lies. which could not have been rendered patent and convincing except with the aid of ventriloquism. where we represent all manner of feats of juggling. if we would disguise those things and labour to make them seem more miraculous. . likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp. .technique. or How to Become a Ventriloquist (1891). in short. and Ventriloquist's Guide (1876). . impostures. gods.30 La Chapelle's theorizing about religion and deception cast a long shadow among philosophers and popularizers alike ("many peoples are adepts in ventriloquism--e." Bacon also pictured "perspective-houses" and "soundhouses." the current on-line Britannica still reports). And surely you will easily believe that we have so many things truly natural which induce admiration."31
. . Francis Bacon dreamed of magical performance becoming an instrument of science. a theatric chiaroscuro in which the "white magic" of enlightened ingenuity was regularly contrasted with "dark" superstition. in spirits. false apparitions. and their fallacies. "EVERY MAN . and Eskimo. such rationalistic views of simulation were made democratic practices of suspicion.29 Later still one American writer." Roving from "primitives" in China and Africa back again to the Witch of Endor.." in which various visual and aural deceptions were demonstrated. could in a world of particulars deceive the senses. ventriloquism has played and still plays a great part. "We represent small sounds as great and deep.g.28 The themes of priestly illusion and shamanistic deception were still sounded even in the bargain how-to guides on ventriloquy that began to appear in greater numbers after midcentury. Maoris. in all primitive religions that have survived unto this very day. such as Everybody a Ventriloquist (1856). that people became imbued with a belief in the conversations of the dead. in everything pertaining to inspiration and revelation. in these stage acts.
they achieved such illusions through clever misdirection. which. as conjurers of the Enlightenment. will."32 Among the most renowned of these enlightened magicians were the operators of the phantasmagoria or magic lantern ghost shows. mimics. they would help keep people from being "imposed on" by both charlatans and priests. Robertson chose a cloistered chapel surrounded by the tombs of monks for one of his grandest displays of simulated apparitions. and to that popular belief in miracles exorcism. In all. jugglers. and by persons acting in concert that have a miraculous appearance. and animal cries (in effect. conjuration. As an 1802 playbill of one of Robertson's imitators proclaimed. but mingled with the assorted entertainments at fairs and markets. Many of these illusionists expressly presented their dexterous tricks as philosophical recreations and mechanical experiments. and well-nigh motionless lips or "speaking without appearing to speak". freaks. precise modulation. which professes to expose the Practices of artful Impostors and pretended Exorcists. the phantasmagoria were quickly exported by various performers to North America. Made a spectacle across Europe. up a chimney. there are mechanical and optical deceptions. they cleverly played off these other voices and invisible beings. And besides these. and they were also puppeteers. and puppeteers. illustrative of natural principles. mastering impressions of multiple voices. such as the French magus Etienne Gaspard Robertson who took a well-known technology and widely popularized it in the late 1790s. Their explanations of their own deceptions were designed to destroy any lingering beliefs about magicians holding "intelligence with supernatural beings".33 Ventriloquism was the close ally of the phantasmagoria. making it seem to come from various distances and places (under the floor. badgering. flourishing in the United States in the first quarter of the nineteenth century (and well beyond that through ongoing reinvention and improvement). and to open the Eyes of those who still foster an absurd Belief in GHOSTS or DISEMBODIED SPIRITS. out of a pocket or hat)." Deistic skepticism about the divine showmanship of miracles found performative corroboration in the entrepreneurial showmanship of enlightened magicians like Robertson. recreating the devil's menagerie of familiars in secular form). The arts of the juggler were thus widely refashioned into "a most agreeable antidote to superstition. There is now an exhibition in Paris of ghosts or spectres. and witchcraft." The naturalistic implications of such displays were not lost on deistic debunkers of revealed religion. not of occult powers or diabolic alliances. sorcery. it is presumed. creating a sublime spectacle of both Gothic horror and demystifying reason. the shows of acrobats. afford also to the Spectator an interesting and pleasing Entertainment.Bacon's utopian dreams found partial fulfillment in the new celebrity magicians of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In The Age of Reason. Before that. "This SPECTROLOGY.34 The new performers of ventriloquism were adepts of mimicry. though it is not imposed upon the spectators as a fact. Its rise as a stage art was coeval with the ghost shows. such vocal talents did not constitute a distinct performative genre. has an astonishing appearance. flirting. which when known are thought nothing of. from the ceiling. mountebanks. capering. sometimes using wooden dolls and automata to create stage doubles (such magical figures echoed the "puppets" used in witchcraft and foreshadowed the "dummies" that eventually became the sine qua non of vaudeville acts of the late nineteenth century). Paine latched onto such shows to illustrate his larger attack on prophecy and miracle: "There are performances by sleight-of-hand. they were also experts at "throwing" the voice. musicians. ventriloquists were masters at animating the inanimate. Like Saint-Gille. natural sounds. coming into its own between 1795 and 1825. they were bearers of aural astonishment--
long accustomed as they were to opposing both players and jugglers as dissolute influences." it was "by the power of Ventriloquism" that the "artful woman" occasioned "a voice to come from the Ghost. Rannie bravely played up the controversy. with the sole object of understanding the rationale. Rannie insisted that he had come "before the public." Some of the early ventriloquists such as John Rannie. Rannie was lamenting in his advertising how hard it was "to remove the cobwebs of imposition from the eyes of ALL mankind" and how his shows were being scorned by certain "disciples of illiberality. Jonathan Harrington. knife swallowing. George Sutton.35 In the United States." In his rounds he estimated that he had gone to observe close to thirty different ventriloquists! Leading the way in this new host of performers was John Rannie. which may be productive of the sublime. and John Wyman achieved considerable reputations in the United States. if possible. but he also stood out as an exemplar of stage magic's entanglement with rational religion. a Scottish actor and magician." to dispel for good "the clouds of superstition. Europe." Touring the eastern seaboard in 1810.
. he crisscrossed the republic. who. He commonly presented himself as a magician of the Enlightenment cultivating philosophical experiments. making appearances from New York to New Orleans. Maine. and a few adepts such as Alexandre Vattemare. "is one of the most singular phenomena that has been contemplated by the most enlightened sages. in bragging of his assiduous dedication to science in 1823.36 Much of Rannie's variegated act was the usual juggler's show of card tricks. ventriloquism became an established stage art m the first decade of the nineteenth century and remained a popular staple of antebellum theater and entertainment thereafter. Rannie was still playing the part of the enlightened magician. Richard Potter. and North America. Rannie explained in a Boston advertisement in 1804. he offered these poor "contracted spirits" a few more opportunities "to clear away the mists that have been cast over their understandings by the artful deceivers of antiquity. in which the town would be "swallowed up by an earthquake."37 Such propositions evidently did not sit well with some of Boston's Protestant faithful. suggested the scope of this rational amusement in the early republic: "Our constant devotion to anatomical pursuits has prompted us to improve every opportunity of witnessing these exhibitions. confounding. and." Edmund Burke concluded in his influential aesthetics. in the course of 3 days. to Natchez." How the woman "managed" this voice "as she pleased. Like the many ventriloquists after him. from Newburyport. William Love. By early August. which Saul took to be the voice of the prophet himself.of sounds uncertain." only to find that many in Boston had "the self-sufficience of an Ostrich" with their unseeing heads stuck in a bush. even boasting at one point of creating through his vocal artistry the impression of a prophecy in Portland. Massachusetts. and bestial. Ventriloquism. low." Rannie promised. "are almost infinite. as the first ventriloquist to tour the United States." He described the scriptural notion of familiar spirits and then informed his potential viewers that "when the witch at Endor raised the apparition of Samuel. Mississippi. and slack-wire walking. Like any showman worth his salt. with both the ability and intention of exposing. with ventriloquism as his most prodigious talent in that line." The credulous." Comparing himself melodramatically to Copernicus in his confrontation with reigning orthodoxies. and Antonio Blitz were internationally celebrated. exterminating the very dregs of fanaticism. tremulous. put on innumerable American shows between 1801 and 1811. Rannie rejoiced. One Boston physician. would be "clearly demonstrated in the course of this evening's exhibition. "The modifications of sound. touring in Britain. intermittent.
--to oppose the idea of supernatural agency in any production of man. was actually an automaton made to speak by a concealed ventriloquist.supposedly left town in "great numbers." (Rannie shared this delight in religious roguery with Europe's most sensational ventriloquist Alexandre Vattemare. was to "convince the world that in order to support wisdom. &c. such entrepreneurial magicians and their expositors became agents of the "Village Enlightenment. assisted by good rules and proper application?" Pinchbeck asked of Rannie's effective voices. a distinctly picaresque "voice of reason." blending illusionist performance with the business of print in the wider democratization of experimental knowledge and critical reason. having heard of Rannie's feats in and around Boston. or any unnatural visions seen. and banish folly. only well-learned technique and daring enterprise." His own mission.38 One of the first American expositors of ventriloquism. Barnum built his empire around one of the grand institutions of democratized Enlightenment and entertainment. "but so to convince superstition of her many ridiculous errors. pretended MAGICIANS. "What is there a man cannot acquire by observation. as with Rannie before him. especially for terrifying "superstitious rustics" with divine voices.--to shew the disadvantages arising to society from a vague as well as irrational belief of man's intimacy with familiar spirits.39 The lingering influence of enlightened magicians like Rannie and Pinchbeck was significant. Barnum made a sensation by claiming Joice Heth. T. CONJURATIONS. the performative exposure of "supernatural humbugs"-
." Rannie's concert-hall exhibitions gave performative expression to the biblical hermeneutics of Scot and the natural philosophy of La Chapelle. for example.) Barnum's selling of hoax and illusion. he related after debunking the story of a churchyard apparition as just one more chimera. automata. whenever any uncommon sounds are heard. in which a major part of the spectacle was--as Neil Harris has shown--the question of how things worked. Barnum was only the most visible heir in an extensive company. WITCHES. it is indispensably necessary to search into the secret causes of such sounds and visions. wanted to make sure that the right point was sinking in with the credulous: "The intention of this work was not only to amuse and instruct. the hidden operations of his attractions. DEMONIACS.) Rannie soon added optical phantasms to his ventriloquial illusions. Surveying the widening array of enlightened magic on display in the early republic--phantasmagoria. "the parent of manufactories. Barnum opened his monumental chronicle of The Humbugs of the World (1866) with praise for an illusionist who first "astonished his auditors with his deceptions" and then later showed "how each trick was performed. the supposedly 161-year-old nurse of baby George Washington. and even an "Acoustic Temple" that revealed "how the Pagan priests by making use of tubes deceived the people" with oracles-Pinchbeck rejoiced in the progress of scientific ingenuity. and EXORCISTS." For Barnum." Along with book peddlers and publishers. there was clearly no "diabolical agency" in Rannie's voices (even if some of the benighted still wanted to hear them this way). and how every man might thus become his own magician." For Pinchbeck. Indeed. including ventriloquism. who was a magical showman himself. the American Museum. his desire to goad inquiry and expose credulity through respectable entertainment. ventriloquism. That Yankee trickster and anti-Calvinist Universalist P." William Pinchbeck explained in one of his two manuals on enlightened magic in 1805. (At one point. promising "to expose the practices of artful IMPOSTORS. and to open the eyes of those who still foster an absurd belief in GHOSTS." whose promotional biography presented him as famed for his offstage tricks. was intimately connected to his inculcation of a healthy skepticism.
. "who was something of a ventriloquist." Moss made a telling move--that is. By the 1850s mediums had far expanded their communicative powers beyond telegraphic rapping. spirits played musical instruments. ghosts. Ira Davenport. one of Moss's colleagues. thrown into "a magnetic trance." In another crowning moment of encounter. were Spiritualists. The example of a preacher for the Disciples of Christ. to Barnum and Houdini. Soon afterwards they began to have visitations of angels among them." Moss related.42 The favorite target of illusionists. but a playground of skeptical rationality and bold enterprise. prophets. "No wonder the Mormons hated us. The new ventriloquy and its allied knowledges supported habits of Suspicion and provided performative techniques for "exposing" the religious claims of others. Mormon claims of prophecy and miracle left Moss in spasms of incredulity. magic was not a form of hermetic knowledge. is especially revealing. it proved usable by skeptics and evangelicals alike. the tract also dished up a Protestant tale of Catholic ventriloquy--of Dominicans who threw their voices into images of Jesus and Mary to create religious impressions and gain earthly power. or oracles-helped put people on their guard. and various stage magicians made a popular show out of their exposure of mediums. With the twin lights of modern science and scriptural purity as guides. and knew just how their angels were made. As knowledge of "enlightened" magic became more widespread. The unmasking of Catholic priestcraft invariably entailed the exposure of magical trickery.40 As with Captain Lyon's encounters with the Eskimos. some of whom then interpreted the strange sounds (with traditional piety) as an encounter with the devil. From Robertson and Philipstal." scattering the group in terror. "with some of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. I was suspicious of these angels from the first. who were always performing some sleight of hand or false prodigy (the hocus-pocus of transubstantiation for starters).whether mediums. antipapist polemic was secured on the ingrained Reformation assumption that Catholic priests were essentially corrupt magicians. "About this time a new supply of preachers came on from New York. The Davenport brothers. The anticlerical. religious and otherwise. and spoke (either through the trance of mediums or simply on their own). and showed how it could be done." disrupted an outdoor Mormon meeting by imitating "the screams of a panther. "I said I had studied the black arts. he performed them. Catholics in their embrace of the miraculous and the sacramental were always seen by a broad spectrum of Protestants and deists as the perpetrators and dupes of various forms of magic. two of the most renowned and controversial mediums. were regularly charged with being impostors. among them Parley Pratt and Martin Harris. ventriloquism intruded as a rationalistic explanation of spirit voices. Jesse Jasper Moss.41 Mormons were not the only ones vexed by didactic magicians." was Moss's laconic conclusion after all these harassments. In these contests. and chemical illusions of Catholics. and he sought through Enlightenment forms of natural magic to unmask Mormon supernaturalism as a pious fraud. Specifically drawing on the knowledge of natural magic offered up by writers such as David Brewster. however. a little Methodist Sunday school tract of 1848 typically recounted the fraudulent exorcisms. materialized in spectral form. not a spiritual quest for harmonial powers." In stating "publicly my suspicions. or necromancy. pretended miracles. such enlightened forms of magic often ended up having a shaping influence on popular Christian exchanges. to Mulholland and Randi. made them ever ready to detect imposture. to Rannie and Pinchbeck. in his confrontation with Mormons in Ohio in the 1830s.
or in his usual tone of voice or manner. but also by the frailties of that faith.." Tocqueville feared. Tocqueville noted. like Masonic ritual. or Spiritualists. it was female. but apparently as the forced proxy of someone else. women had fraudulent gimmicks and sympathetic imaginations. "The first thing that occurs to every one is that it was the result of so common an art as ventriloquism. As he watched one of the girls. its capacity to sustain the associational bonds that made democracy work.. Was not this ventriloquism? We answer emphatically. the battle became sharply gendered. a defender admitted that "some will ask. ventriloquism through the mid-nineteenth century was an almost exclusively male profession. In the former physiology. Had he not heard ventriloquists? Ay. when it had market value and philosophical interest." one guidebook (misnamed Everybody a Ventriloquist) noted in 1856. As one sympathetic biographer admitted of the brothers' vocal gift. to an "almost wild spiritualism. that Americans were
. Within these apparent contradictions." Such protestations aside. men like himself had the authoritative knowledge of enlightened magic (and implicitly the option to perform it for decent money).speak "not as from himself.44 Exposing the "imposture" and "priestcraft" of other faiths became something of a sport in antebellum America. Page concluded." When Harvard-educated Charles Page. Page the acoustician nonetheless asserted that women were especially capable of spiritualist "witchery. As with other forms of stage magic. and the natural magic of the Enlightenment provided a common script for these encounters." to arraign supernatural claims at the bar of their own critical reason and individual judgment.. Etc. who fronted his name with "Professor" and followed it by "M. Antebellum Americans were prone.. unnatural" voices heard at the Davenport seances. "Effects produced by the female organs of speech have always manifested a deficiency of power. he was sure that she was cleverly misdirecting people's attention to get them to think sounds were coming from where they were not: "Our knowledge of ventriloquism." A woman. Tocqueville was intrigued not only by the strength of Christianity in the United States. in the latter. he called upon his joined understanding of acoustics and enlightened magic. potent voices of men." and then he provided (via Brewster) an excursus on the mechanics of such deceptions.D. was a distinctly masculine preserve. The extension of rationalistic suspicion threatened to taint the country with "an almost insurmountable distaste for whatever is supernatural. No. "There have been few female ventriloquists." set out to expose the Fox sisters. "fortified us against this trick. No one could convince him that a disembodied man could talk like other folks. it was associated especially with women's bellies. In his travels in the 1830s. whether with Mormons. as Melville did later. it was male." he said. Catholics. Despite the fact that every leading illusionist of the period was male and that the manuals insisted on the "lack of power in the female voice" for gaining proficiency in the art..43 When the charge of ventriloquism greeted female mediums. with the throat and the deep." In Page's scripting of these encounters. suspicions lingered." Even the father of the Davenports was reported to be skeptical of "the spectral tongues" given vent through his sons' meetings: "He knew better. such wizardry. that he had!" This sort of critique--that spiritualist raps and voices were accomplished "by the ordinary acoustic method of the ventriloquists"--was prevalent enough that even Madame Blavatsky dignified it with a biting response in Isis Unveiled." but they were also ever eager to "laugh at modern prophets. "is the first to be imposed upon and most apt to impose upon herself. a deeper cultural logic of gender was at work: when ventriloquism was seen as a biblical and spiritual form of deception. sepulchral." Of the "deep.
" that personal identity could be "shivered into pieces" and hence the integrity of individual moral responsibility lost. "Hallucinations of hearing. antebellum American theorists like Amariah Brigham contributed to the pathologizing of religious excitements and various forms of devotional intensity.45
Ventriloquism's modern transformation points us to some other ways of thinking about the American Enlightenment and its fate. the breast." in which the widening knowledge of illusion often fueled a harsh game of disenchantment. The Enlightenment construction of ventriloquism helped broker the much larger transition to hearing the voices of religious experience as psychological illusions 6r symptoms of inner fragmentation. ." Boismont noted. a web. stark images of divided." and he had multiple cases and statistics to show this. "and some patients have imagined themselves to become ventriloquists. Two quick sketches-one of medical psychology. What Reid saw as the potentially "dangerous" abilities of the ventriloquist-the powers of impersonation and doubling--were a cultural emblem of those splittings. multiple. This interpretive construct was one small token of the growing power of naturalism to translate the Christian drama of possession and vocal presences into the delusions of double consciousness and the proliferating diagnoses of dementia-monomania. the other of commercial entertainmentwill have to suffice here to illustrate the rippling effects of the enlightened way of reimagining the voices of popular Christian piety. The lingering force of that vast network of learning can be gauged in any number of cultural realms in the nineteenth-century United States." he found. the reach of which is hardly measured by the failure of organized deism. and dissociation. "The voices emanate from the head. so too did the magic circle of the Enlightenment. As the sphere of Christianity widened. published in 1853 and offering what he called a "rational history" or "medical history" of apparitions and religious ecstasy. the abdomen. erotomania. this had been Thomas Reid's underlying dread. built on a series of incredulous disavowals. or the Protestant absorption of Scottish moral philosophy.46 Brierre de Boismont's Hallucinations. . that the unity of the self was being fractured by Humean skepticism. The fate of these altered voices echoed the larger process by which the travails of the soul became matters of the self-one in which the divine struggle of demonic possession passed into a bleak diagnosis of the divisibility of personal identity. The Enlightenment was an encyclopedia. the epigastrium. were the "most common. that someone might be "two or twenty different persons. In a Barnumesque culture in which every man might . sustained amid a welter of exposures and counterexposures--a small raft in a sea of suspicion. serves as a good example of these trends. The new ventriloquism of the late eighteenth century imagined the final erasure of demons and spirits and their replacement by a profusion of naturalized voices. or counterfeited selves. it is important to recognize how widely Enlightenment forms of knowledge and suspicion were diffused. any new faith was hard won. The language of enlightened
." At other points "horrible phantasmagoria" were said to assault his patients who saw demons and other fiends approaching them. As much as their British and French counterparts. become his own magician." Though these reservations in Tocqueville's account would be easy to discount. hallucination.given to "a sort of instinctive incredulity. the success of evangelicalism. As much as epistemological uncertainty. how popular they could be.
The illusionist technologies of the Enlightenment. The Gospel Ventriloquist. available for the price of admission. puppeteers. as a commercial amusement. In that. Ventriloquism shared in this luxuriant growth. "Nothing could dissipate these ludicrous illusions. The belly-speaking demons had been renamed. and what was left was an uncontainable welter of aural illusions and terribly divided selves. cinema. spectacular." concluded Tylor. This convergence. the term illusion itself was moved from the domain of the magical into the psychological. ventriloquism was indicative of the larger absorption of the sacred into the mediated. from mattresses. and after she died he dissected her stomach and intestines. from the chimney." with the re-Christiainization of this Enlightenment amusement. he was a showman. "that among ourselves the word 'ventriloquist' should have sunk to its present meaning. now he was a stage entertainer. like the phantasmagoria. no longer a shaman. as is common in American religious history. and television. In the last-named pamphlet from 1976. and domesticated forms of modern consumption. demonic.' because she spoke incessantly on religious subjects. from wardrobes. Perhaps. helped lay the groundwork for a whole complex of modern entertainments. "How changed a philosophy it marks. B. called by her wardens "the 'Mother of the church. in "old times" the ventriloquist "was really held to have a spirit rumbling or talking from inside his body". the heavenly voices completely repositioned. stretching back at least to the 1950s with the formation of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. it passed into vaudeville." found herself confined to an asylum. the evangelicals are having the last laugh with the rise of "gospel ventriloquism. and magicians. pastor Robert Blazek tells the story of how he "decided to pursue the knowledge and ability to use ventriloquism for Christ. searching for the anatomy of ventriloquism gone mad."48 The enlightened magician and his philosophical expositors made ventriloquism an easy and entertaining trick. has even resulted in dozens of little tracts such as 111 Ways to Use Ventriloquism in Church Work. A devout Catholic woman. "She fancied she had in her belly all the personages of the new testament. radio (incongruously enough). it takes something of an excavation even to discern the old meanings of ventriloquism." her physician reported. and Using Ventriloquism in Christian Education. Boismont sounded less like he was observing a patient than watching a ventriloquist's show: "Invisible voices may be external or internal.47 The second trajectory is that the new ventriloquism managed to submerge its oracular. As E. Writing of case XXX. but the philosophes might well be laughing too at their success in turning a demonic struggle into a
. Just how safe that medium had become is indicated by the evangelical embrace of the art as an acceptable form of evangelistic entertainment over the last several decades." A starker example came from another early-nineteenth-century treatise on the "illusions" of the insane. Now "gospel vents" have crowded onto the stage with their older vaudeville counterparts-stalwarts in a thriving evangelical subculture of entertainers. Within this vast culture of showmanship. Tylor remarked of the naturalistic abandonment of an animistic universe in his monumental study of Primitive Culture (1871). and Christian precursor within the expanding culture of commodified leisure. it even became a pop culture icon with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. from neighboring houses. The demonic voices and the divine locutions of the old ventriloquism looked incredibly tame once turned into an amusement.magic--Boismont made considerable use of Brewster's Letters on Natural Magic--slid into the medical case studies of the devoutly insane. a show of mastered simulation." how he turned himself and his dummy "Little Joe" into a winning tandem of evangelists. they come from heaven." and out of her belly even came voices dramatizing the crucifixion.
1996). Joseph Glanvill. 1984). 1681). James Randi. For an especially evocative treatment of rational recreations and illusionist demonstrations in early modem Europe. Annabel Patterson. the spirits most familiar to modern culture prowl the cinema and Disney's Magic Kingdom as much as the souls of saints and sinners. 3. 1968). St. The Power of the Charlatan. Occult and Scientific Mentalities in The Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ed. Saducisorus Triumphatus: Or. and the Origins of the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 16-74. Unreasonable Facsimiles (New York: Zone Books. Grete de Francesco. A Magician among the Spirits (New York: Harper and Brothers. See. 2. The controversy over the links between Renaissance Hermeticism and natural philosophy on the European side has generated a considerable literature. 344..
. For an overview of occultist practices in early America. P. Brian Vickers. Yates. Mass. David Goldblatt. interested in the polyphony of discrepant "voices" within texts and in the problem of authorial voice. For representative works in the rich tradition of skeptical magic see Harry Houdini. MIT Press." in Historical Criticism and the Challenge of Theory.didactic illusion. The Humbugs of The World (New York: Carleton. 1992). has generally been bracketed out by American historians of religion and magic. have taken up ventriloquism as a trope. who. Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. T.
1. 294. 1996). Janet Levarie Smarr (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. "From the Age of Reason to the Age of Barnum: The Great Automaton Chess Player and the Emergence of Victorian Cultural Illusionism. along with that of the stage. esp. see Barbara Maria Stafford. 145-66. The Enlightenment side of the magical tradition. ed. Miriam Beard (New Haven Yale University Press 1939) 229-49. The Shows of London (Cambridge. 1866). 1978). See. Artful Science: Enlightenment Entertainment and the Eclipse of Visual Education (Cambridge Mass. Voicing America: Language. The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses. 67-97." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 51(1993): 389-98. 1993). and Christopher Looby. Literary Form. Ventriloquism's history has been told primarily by practitioners. Barnum. I Can See Your Lips Moving: The History and Art of Ventriloquism (North Hollywood: Plato Publishing. By far the best example of that genre is Valentine Vox. 1990). 1924).: Harvard University Press. Awash in a Sea of Faith: Christianizing the American People (Cambridge. "Ventriloquism: Ecstatic Exchange and the History of Artwork. 64-76. 1938). Richard D. Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France (Cambridge. trans. Otherwise the scholarship is dominated by critical theorists. Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions (London: J. 1994) For other important treatments of the magical exhibitionism of the Enlightenment see Robert Darnton. 1964). esp. Frances A. James W Cook. See Hillel Schwartz.. Mass: Harvard University Press. 2: 64. Ventriloquists also receive some notice in Hillel Schwartz's encyclopedic pastiche of twins and simulations. Collins. see Jon Butler." Winterthur Portfolio 30 (Winter 1995) 231-57. 27-33. 81. for example. "'They Say' or We Say: Protest and Ventriloquism in Early Modern England. John Muiholland. 1993). 132-37. Giordarro Bruno and The Hermetic Tradition (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.. for example.49 Like La Chapelle going to watch a magician instead of to pray over the possessed. Conjuring (New York. Jr. Martin 5. Beware Familar Spirits (New York: Scribner's. Altick.
Charles Webster Freer. On modern ocularcentrism. Whether Hebrew. 1993). Modernity and The Hegemony of Illusion (Berkeley: University of California Press. 6. The Eighteenth Century Confronts The Gods (Cambridge. Belgick. Manuel. From Paracelsus to Newton: Magic and The Making of Modern Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. python or pythonist. 1959). Saducismus. 1982).. 9. Glossographia: Or. 1923). a Dictionary. Lynn Thorndike. 114. and the Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. 4." 7. 2: 64. Natural Religion and The Nature of Religion: The Legacy of Deism (London: Routledge. 18-21. J. and gastriloquist. The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584. esp. ed. engastrimyth. 1:352.448. 1: 596." in The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine. Reginald Scot. See Thomas Blount. Spanish. or ventriloquial speech included ob. I present the religious dimensions of this piety. "Be Sober and Reasonable": The Critique of Enthusiasm in The Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries (Leiden: Brill." see Peter Harrison. ed. Teutonick. Mass. Frank E. On religious oralitym especially preaching. Glanvill. 1993). 8. The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1991). Samuel Preus. see Walter I. John Pell (New York: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints. demonic. Flint. Reason the Only Oracle of Man. along with other aspects of the Enlightenment critique. 1656) as well as the pertinent entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. reprint. Stout. The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: The Church of England and its Enemies. in a book-inprogress on "Hearing Voices. "Religion. 1992). 1940). A. Peter Byrne.: Harvard University Press. see the work of Harry S. The early modern vocabulary for soothsaying and divination was very rich. Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley: University of California Press. J. 5. 1973). see especially Martin Jay. 1945). Scot. "The Age of Reason. as Are Now Used in Our Refined English Tongue (London: Newcomb. other terms used for one given to prophetic. David Michael Levin. Ong. 231. though presented within the near universal framework of the triumph of visuality. A History of Magic and Experimental Science (New York: Columbia University Press. 470-71. I. British or Saxon. "Religion" and The Religions in The English Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Latin. Italian. Communications. French.
. Explaining Religion: Criticism and Theory from Bodin to Freud (New Haven: Yale University Press. Greek. 1989). 1990). 121. Interpreting all such Hard Words. particularly. Foner (New York: Citadel. Philip S. see Valerie I. For the most sustained theorizing of the sensorium and sound. 101. J. 54-56." William and Mary Quarterly 34(1977): 519-41. Ethan Allen. On the history of the Enlightenment construction of "religion. Thomas Paine. 1987). London: Rowan and Littlefield. Discoverie. Michael Heyd. 1995). 1660-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ed. For background on the problems the Witch of Endor created for Christian commentaries. The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History (New Haven: Yale University Press. Champion. 1967).
John Gough. see Jane Kamensky. 181 n-182 n. 1994).p. The Transformation and Memoirs of Carwin. 207-211 (see as well the voices in the case of Eunice Cole. An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences (Boston: n. L'Estrange Ewen. 16. Frederick H. Increase Mather. (London: Wesleyan Conference." see Clarke Garrett. Frederick H. with an Account of the Art of Ventriloquism. see David D.. 15. 10-19." in Works. 78. See. 165-66. Or. "Elements of Philosophy. 452. 1839-1845). A Collection of Diverting Stories and Extraordinary Facts. Prodigies and Apparent Miracles. Anthony Todd Thomson (London: Bentley. Witchcraft and Demonianism (London: Heath Cranton. John Wesley.J. An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft (London: Knaplock. Narrative of William Swayze. 1799). Blount. ed. N. 50. 3: 434. 150-79. 1677). 14. Quitman."' in The Works of The Rev. and Fontenelle. esp. William Swayze. Robert Scott. Wieland. A. M. 8~87. and Power of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil. Emory Elliot (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 4548. Thomas Ady. After ventriloquism became popular on stage various others followed up La Chapelle's treatise with their own investigations of the acoustics and anatomy of the art. 1991). 1987). 26-29. 140. trans. 1846). ed. Thomas Hobbes.122-29. For the 1799 pamphlet (not available through the Charles Evans imprints. Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England: A Documentary History. 283-84. Occasioned by His Late Treatise on Magic (Poughkeepsie: Adams. For a recent interpretation that insightfully highlights the vocality of possession.v. For these well-known and oft-scrutinized cases. Spirit Possession and Popular Religion: From the Camisards to The Shakers (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 8-9. or. 225-29). 336. 1: 498.p. See also Hobbes. 1810). 1: 157-62. 4-6. Form." in The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury (London: Boho. Minister of The Gospel (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Room. F. Andrew Manship. For English examples. 1997). Hume. The Biloquist.M.. s. John Wesley. 1856). John Webster. S. for example. A Treatise on Magic. "Letter to the Author of 'The Enthusiasm of Methodists and Papists Compared. see Charles Brockden Brown. For the author's notation on La Chapelle in Wieland. The Occult Sciences: The Philosophy of Magic. 9: 7. see Eusebe Salverte. on the Intercourse between Spirits and Men (Albany: Balance. "Leviathan.. Quitman. see AmusementHall. and Other Entertaining Matter (Morristown.10. 1933). 1661).
. 1684). 1872). Francis Hutchinson. see C. On possession as "sacred theater. 81-82. but preserved at the New Jersey Historical Society). Letters to The Rev. "Facts and Observations to Explain the Curious Phenomenon of Ventriloquism." Journal of Natural Philosophy Chemistry and the Arts 2 (June 1802). For the influence on Salverte. Glossographia. 148-49. "ventriloquist". 12. 202. The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft (London: J. 1638-1692 (Boston: Northeastern University Press. 11. Thirteen Years' Experience in the Itinerancy (Philadelphia: Higgins and Perkinpine. Or. M. Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (New York: Oxford University Press. Hall.:n. 13. or the Matter. 1718). 149. 1810). A Perfect Discovery of Witches (London: Brome.. La Chapelle hitherto has not been written into the history of the naturalistic study of religion alongside other Enlightenment speculators such as Trenchard. 1839).
Le Ventriloque. Sciences. G. Anthelme Richerand. 31 August 1824. Reid. 2: 83. 419-22. Brown. "The Rise and Long Life of the Protestant Enlightenment in America. Thomas Reid. 39. 3:16671. There were at least seven American editions of Brewster's Letters between 1832 and 1845. Letters on Natural Magic (London: John Murray. Steven Watts.Lespagnolm. 67. 341. La Chapelle. 171-72. "Ventriloquism. Dissertation sur l'errgastrimisme (Paris: Didot Jeune. For the point that the illusion was less about acoustics than the misdirection of the imagination Stewart was drawing especially on an anonymous review of John Gough's research in Edinburgh Review 2 (April 1803): 192-96. Encyclopaedia Britannica. David Brewster.p. and Alexander Cowie (Kent State: Kent State University Press. 2: 319-20. 69-70." in The Works of Dugald Stewart (Cambridge: Hilliard and Brown. Works. 18. 506-507. For a basic contextualization of this dimension of the novel. 1: 325-26. "Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man." 23. Reid. I have also suggested the impact of the Scottish Enlightenment on popular piety in Holy Fairs: Scottish Communions and American Revivals in the Early Modem Period (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1829). Mass. A Treatise on Ventriloquism with Extracts from the Opinions of Several Authors Respecting that Extraordinary Gift of Human Faculty (New Haven: n. Noll.. 22. 18: 639~41. ou l'engastrimythe (Paris: Duchesne. 21. Krause. William M. 19. 1994). esp. 1750-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hartford: Belknap and Hamersley. A Dictionary of Arts. Dugald Stewart. Wieland is among the most widely commented upon novels of the early national era. Works. Elements of Physiology. Le Ventriloque." Boston Medical Intelligencer. ed. 165. Huff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bernard
. 225-28. 1842). 323-60. see Mark A. Prodigals and Pilgrims: The American Revolution against Patriarchal Authority. 137-51. De Lys (Philadelphia: Dobson. Works." Boston Medical Intelligencer. esp. 20. The Book of Nature (1826 reprint." in Knowledge and Belief in America: Enlightenment Traditions and Modern Religious Thought." in The Works of Thomas Reid (Charlestown. "Philosophy of the Human Mind. 54-58. Stewart. 1811). M. 88-124. W. "Voice. and Miscellaneous Literature (Philadelphia: Dobson. See also Gough. Or. 1833). see "Historical Essay. but scholars have been imprecise in contextualizing the book's central illusionist practice of ventriloquism and the religious meanings that flow from it. Stewart. The Romance of Real Life: Charles Brockden Brown and the Origins of American Culture (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 438-39. 3:168-69. 322. Shea and Peter A. 1811). 22 July 1823. 1995). "Facts and Observations." in Charles Brockden Brown. Joarines Baptista de la Chapelle. 1977). 1989). 1845). 152. 184-85. John Mason Good. 471-78. xxi. 82-89. 1813). trans. 1:108. Sydney J. 309. 235-48. ed. 257-62. 1982). 1798). 32. For an excellent overview of American Protestant indebtedness to the Scottish Enlightenment. Butler. Wieland. 17. George Smith Sutton. Awash. 170-83. Readings that I have found especially insightful for my purposes include: Jay Fliegelman.: Etheridge. The Novels and Related Works of Charles Brockden Brown. 1772). J. S.
and Sketches of Some Unrevealed Religions (London: Masters. Ventriloquism Explained: And Juggler's Tricks. K. see especially Nathan O. Letters. The Magician on the American Stage. and Ventriloquist's Guide (New York: Hurst. James Spedding. Treatise. 243. 2:12027. Butler. '54. and C. The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press. Charles Joseph Pecor. 26. N. 1977) 69-71 When one ventriloquist advertised a special show in 1802 for black Philadelphians he was forced to cancel the performance. trans. Origin and History of Ventriloquism with Full and Comprehensive Instruction in the Art (Philadelphia: Brinckloe. Curiosities of Superstition. 8. 1. E Lyon of H. 11415. Works. How to Become a Ventriloquist (New York Tousey. x. 25. Brewster. Magician. 1 February 1851. during the Recent Voyage of Discovery under Captain Parry (London: Murray. New Hampshire. H. 1861). or Legerdemain Exposed: With Remarks on Vulgar Superstitions (Amherst: J. Stewart. W. 31. 164. George W. 88~9. Hecla. Rosenthal and Watts both do an especially fine job of locating the novel within Brown's wider deistic suspicions about revealed religion. D. S. 1752-1874 (Washington. vol. 234. George Havelock Helm (Brooklyn: n. 4l~42." Flag of the Union. The Practical Magician. [Thomas D. 1904-1909). 1: 425-27. 1910). Awash. 17678. The Chukchee. 274-78. Davenport Adams. see John R.: Rumford.
. 3:156.S.7 of Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History (Leiden: Brill. ed. Wieland." New York History 61(1980): 359-86. Brown. 435-39. Kirbye. 162. Gordon S. 104-125. 1825). ed. with Instructions and Anecdotes Combined (Philadelphia: Brown's. Hurst]. For the original account. 1856). 359-74.H. "Blitz and the Darkies. 1989).: Emerson and West. 1834).Rosenthal.M. 3:171-73. See also Sutton.p. and Douglas Heath (London: Longman. Brown. Robert Ellis. unpaginated preface. See Pecor. Bernard Rosenthal (Boston: G. "Observations on Ventriloquism. See Everybody a Ventriloquist. see George Francis Lyon. 149-50." which would have been useful for selling his magic. 163. 1859). 194. [1900?]). Wieland. Waldemar Bogoras. 27. Paul Garnault. 1860). Adams. Dugald Stewart. Ventriloquism Made Easy Also An Exposure of Magic (Philadelphia: Wyman the Wizard. Hatch." in Critical Essays on Charles Brockden Brown. '55 (Philadelphia: Childs and Peterson. 1882). 1876). and to have carefully concealed his own background). Elisha Kent Kane. Eastman. reprinted in Everybody a Ventriloquist: A History of Ventriloquism. 26-29. Francis Bacon." Edinburgh Journal of Science 9 (1828): 250-52.C. and Harry Kennedy. 1751-1906 (Concord. On the religious hothouse.3540. The Works of Francis Bacon. 1891) 30. 5. History of The Town of Andover. 1981). 28. 24. The Private Journal of Captain G. "The Voices of Wieland. On Potter's racial identity (he is said to have passed as "an East Indian. History of Ventriloquism. Arctic Explorations in the Years 1853. Wood. 77-78. 1856). "Evangelical America and Early Mormonism. 56. Hall. 82~3.. 29. 24-25.
Annals of the New York Stage (New York: Columbia University Press. "Phantasmagorical Wonders: The Magic Lantern Ghost Show in Nineteenth-Century America." Boston Medical Intelligencer. 37. 1784). Natural Magic: Or. 199-201. Isherwood. and venues of various magicians. see X. 144. 8386. For Robertson's own account. 67. 197-98. 344. Paine. 1968).. Altick. Physical Amusements and Diverting Experiments (London: n. Ill. 262.. The Magician and the Cinema (New York: Oxford University Press. Odell. See also William Hooper.: Meyerbooks. Theodore Barber. Vox. Philip Astley. 57-85. The Conjurer Unmasked. 3. "Phantasmagoria: Spectral Technology and the Metaphorics of Modern Reverie. 1: 508. Moulton. William Johnston (London: Longman. 14 July 1804.. 56. Vattemare is the only one of these performers to have been studied in detail. 41-48.p. Mernoires recreatifs scientifiques et anecdotiques (Paris: n." Film History 3 (1989): 73-86 (playbill on p. trans. promoteur des echanges internationaux de publications (Brussels: n. See J. Or. Isherwood. (London: Lane. Alexandre Vattemare: Artiste. The best study of stage magic in North America for this period is Pecor's Magician on the American Stage. Puppets and "Popular" Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press.p. (Ph. 75-78. Magician. [Henri Decremps]. 100-101.. ). shows.p. 1973). 33. Adam Phillips (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1990). L. 1785).32.p. Pecor. For Rannie's shows within the wider theatrical history of the period. Like ventriloquism. see David Grimsted. A Philosophical Inquiry in to The Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Whidden. Robert M. I am indebted to his work for substantiating the geographic range of these itinerant performers. 4 vols. 1927). Erik Barnouw. 104-112. Pecor tracks the travels. Book of Nature. J. The European Ventriloquist's Exhibition (Portsmouth: S. 1817). 1792-1915 (Glenwood. ed. 1791). Dargent. See also [John Rannie].. 1784). Good. George C. see Etienne Gaspard Robertson. 1800-1850 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 217-20. 209-210. History and Art. Complete Writings. Guiseppe Pinetti. Rational Recreations in which The Principles of Numbers and Natural Philosophy Are Clearly and Copiously Elucidated. "Ventriloquism. See Salverte. trans. 117. Xenophon Theodore Barber. diss. D." 2 vols. 1986). 1Q93). 5-52. 3: 269-70. 1983). the phantasmagoria were also incorporated into the natural history of superstition. A History of Inventions and Discoveries. Edmund Burke. including several of the early ventriloquists (such as Rannie and Potter) and documents the development of magic as professional theater. Altick.
.D. Melodrama Unveiled: American Theater and Culture. the Magical Companion. l-34: Terry Castle. 35. 1: 26592. Brewster. 36. "Evenings of Wonders: A History of the Magic Lantern in America.. Shows. Coliumbian Centinel. New York University. Farce. 36. 1995). (London: Davis. John Beckmann. Farce and Fantasy: Popular Entertainment in Eighteenth-Century Paris (New York: Oxford University Press. 5th ed. On puppets and witchcraft. Being a Clear and FulI Explanation of all the Surprizing Performances Exhibited as well in this Kingdom as on the Continent. 34-36. Physical Amusements Revealed (London: n. see Scott Cutler Shershow. Thomas Denton (London: Stalkei. viii-ix. Shows. 1788). 79). 1981). 1: 272-310. 2: 143-44. Houdini's History of Magic in Boston. 1831). Letters. Breslaw's Last Legacy. For the ghost shows." Critical Inquiry 15 (Autumn 1988): 26-61. Occult Sciences. 34. See also H.
142. 1835). 68. 14 April 1810. A2. Kunhardt. 1:105. 31-34. 70. On the democratization of the Enlightenment through print. 3. "Be Sober and Reasonable. 1989). 1 August 1804. "Ventriloquism. 46. Rannie. Origin. see especially Heyd. 42-43. Everybody a Ventriloquist. On Barnum's "operational aesthetic" and uses of deception. Kirbye. 1976). H. see R. the Celebrated Dramatic Ventriloquist (London: Lowndes. ed. 1805). The Mediums and the Conjurors (New York: Arno. T. Blavatsky." 39." National Magazine 2 (June 1853): 529. and Lyon. [William T.p. Nichols." typescript. Barnum: America's Greatest Showman (New York: Knopf. Philip B. 43. Psychomancy: Spirit-Rappings and TableTippings Exposed (New York: Appleton. Jesse Jasper Moss. 20-22. T. Capen. The Davenport Brothers. 10. Humbug: The Art of P. 12. 360. for
. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (Boston: Beacon. 47-49.. Observations on the Influence of Religion upon the Health and Physical Welfare of Mankind (Boston: Marsh. I am indebted to Elizabeth Kronzek for bringing this memoir to my attention. 1864). and Peter W. "The Village Enlightenment in New England. Ann Braude. 81-2. For Heth and ventriloquism. 42. 338-44. On earlier efforts to medicalize enthusiasm. Parapsychology. Alexis de Tocqueville. Pretended Miracles. 95. Humbugs. 41. Barnum. 56. 1977). Democracy in America (New York: Vintage Books. 33-89. 42-43. 3. The World-Renowned Spiritual Mediums: their Biography and Adventures in Europe and America (Boston: White. 1945). see Neil Harris. 7. and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press. see James Webb. 1869). 40. Otley. 320. 294. Nashville. Laurence Moore. 7-9. New York Evening Post 7 March 1810. Or Many Mysteries Unravelled (Boston n. William Frederick Pinchbeck Witchcraft. 391-92. Works. 3. Moncrieff]. 90-91. 1972). "Autobiography. 58. P. "Voice.. On the broader movement. Or the Art of Fortune-Telling Unveiled (Boston: n p 1805). European Ventriloquist's Exhibition. The Disciples of Christ Historical Society. 111.: Theosophical Publishing House. 1822). 45. 61-62. P. Amariah Brigham. For other primary materials on the battle between magicians and mediums. 1853).38. 1848). 98-110. 2:114. Charles G.. T. A Biography of the Brothers Davenport (London: Saunders. 114-15. Isis Unveiled (Wheaton. 1973). Memoirs and Anecdotes of Monsieur Alexandre. see David Jaffee. v. 39. 1995). 44. see Philip B. In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism. 7." On the larger translation of religious idioms into psychological ones. 53-60. 47-48. 13-15. Ill. 1765-1820. Page. 179-81. see. The Expositor. Barnum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 211-23. 2: 4. Reid. 32. William Frederick Pinchbeck. L. 38-40. Kunhardt III. 27 32. Kunhardt Jr. Columbian Centinel. Magic. Aurora General Advertiser. and Remarkable Natural Pherromena (New York: Lane and Scott. 357." William and Mary Quarterly 47 (July 1990): 32746.
142-58. esp. Magnetism. 133. 420.32. Ecstasy. Dreams. see Vox. Visions. Brierre de Boismont. 97-98. Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press.: Maher.org/cathen/10735a. 1986). Ian Hacking.: Maher.newadvent. see R. and on The Medico-Legal Question of Their Confinement. trans. New York: Arno Press. 111 Ways to Use Ventriloquism in Church Work (Littleton. 1833). On ventriloquism's thriving as a commercial entertainment.example. On the larger issue of commodification and Christian amusements." Church History 67:2 (June 1998). William H. Hallucinations: Or. 182. Using Ventriloquism in Christian Education (Littleton. esp. Leigh Eric Schmidt. 127. Laurence Moore. Tylor. Colo. "'Hey. and Somnambulism (1853. Observations on the Illusions of the Insane. 1994). 172. 1986): Cullen Murphy. Return to the electronic journal page
SEE ALSO. reprint. 49.'" Atlantic Monthly 264 (August 1989): 62-71. Used by permission. Language. Colo. 1976). Religion. 48. "From Demon Possession to Magic Show: Ventriloquism. American Society of Church History. and the Enlightenment.: Boley. the Rational History of Apparitions. Philosophy. 11-12. The Gospel Ventriloquist: Five Gospel Ventriloquist Routines (Hopkinsville.Copyright 1998. 1995). Religion. Art and Custom (New York: Holt. Rewriting The Soul: Multiple Personality and The Sciences of Memory (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2: 132-34. Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology. A. Edward B. 47.
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. Robert E. Andersen. 1889). 90-92. Let Me Outta Here!. Blazek. See also Bill Boley.90. 77. William Liddell (London: Renshaw and Rush. Jean Esquirol. 274-304. History and Art.