From India to the Planet Mars, by Théodore Flournoy; tr. Daniel B. Vermilye, , at sacred-texts.com
IF I were obliged to give this cycle a place proportioned to that which it occupies in the somnambulic life of Mlle. Smith, a hundred pages would not suffice. But permit me to pass rapidly over facts concerning which I should only be obliged to repeat the greater part of the observations called forth by the preceding romances, which apply equally well, mutatis mutandis, to the personification of Marie Antoinette by Hélène.
The choice of this rôle is naturally explained by the innate tastes of Mlle. Smith for everything that is noble, distinguished, elevated above the level of the common herd, and by the fact that some exterior circumstance fixed her hypnoid attention upon the illustrious queen of France in preference to the many other historic figures equally qualified to serve as a point of attachment for her subconscious megalomaniac reveries.
In default of absolutely certain information on this point, I strongly suspect the engraving from the Memoirs of a Physician, representing the dramatic scene of the decanter between Balsamo and the Dauphiness, of having given birth to this identification
of Hélène with Marie Antoinette, as well as to that of her secondary personality of Leopold with Cagliostro.
We have, in fact, seen that this engraving (pp. 94-95), so well calculated to impress the imagination, was shown to Mlle. Smith by Mme. B. at the end of a seancethat is, at a moment when one is never sure that Hélène's return to her normal state is complete, and in which her hypnoid personality, still on a level with consciousness, so to speak, is very prone to absorb the interesting suggestions which the environment may furnish. It was several monthsa year and a quarter, possiblyafter this incident (the precise date of which, in 1892 or 1893, it is impossible to determine) that announcement was made by the table, on the 30th of January, 1894, that Hélène was the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette. It is to be recollected that in the interval she had for some time believed herself to be the reincarnation of Lorenza Feliciani; it is, however, to be noted that these two successive identifications did not have the same guarantee or psychological signification. In fact, it was Mlle. Smith, in the waking statethat is, in her normal personalitywho accepted the supposition of Mme. B., that she was the reincarnation of Lorenza; but the tablei.e., her subconsciousnessalways remained silent on this point. On the contrary, the idea of having been Marie Antoinette does not seem to have occurred to Hélène's ordinary consciousness up to the time at which Leopold revealed this secret by the table. If any conclusion may be drawn from this, it is that, under the multiple suggestions of the
engraving from Dumas works and the suppositions of Mme. B., the hypnoid imagination of Mlle. Smith at first preferred to the rôle of Lorenza that of Marie Antoinette, which is undoubtedly more flattering and more conformable to Hélène's temperament, and then elaborated and matured it, very slowly, it is true, but not excessively so, in comparison with other examples of subliminal incubations of Mlle. Smith.
From the point of view of its psychological forms of manifestation, the Royal cycle from that time followed an evolution analogous to that of its congeners described in the preceding chapters. After some months, during which it unfolded itself in visions described by Hélène and accompanied by typtological explanations dictated by the table, the trance became more profound. Mlle. Smith began to personate the queen in pantomime, of which Leopold gave the exact signification by digital indications. Speech was added the year following, at a date which I cannot fix, but the first occasion on which I was a witness to it was on the 13th of October, 1895. Handwriting only made its appearance, as far as I am aware, two years later (November 1, 1897, see Fig. 39), when the royal incarnation attained its apogee and Hélène was in the habit of retaining in memory the somnambulistic rôle of Marie Antoinette for several hours. Since then the rôle has maintained itself at a very remarkable level of perfection, but it scarcely seems to me progressing, and seems likely to become stereotyped. The objectivity of the general type of queen must be distinguished in this brilliant personality, or at least
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Fig. 39. First known example of automatic irruption of the orthography and handwriting called that of Marie Antoinette among the normal writings of Mlle. Smith. Fragments of a letter of Helen of November 1, 1897, narrating a seance during which she had successfully incarnated the queen of France and the Hindoo princess. [Collection of M. Lemaître.] See also p.
that of a lady of great distinction, as well as a realization of the individual characteristics of Marie Antoinette of Austria. As to the first point there is almost nothing left to be desired. Mlle. Smith seems by nature to possess all that this rôle demands, and hypnoid autosuggestion finds no lack of material upon which to work.
When the royal trance is complete no one can fail to note the grace, elegance, distinction, majesty sometimes, which shine forth in Hélène's every attitude and gesture.
She has verily the bearing of a queen. The more delicate shades of expression, a charming amiability, condescending hauteur, pity, indifference, overpowering scorn flit successively over her countenance and are manifested in her bearing, to the filing by of the courtiers who people her dream. The play of her hands with her real handkerchief and its fictitious accessories, the fan, the binocle with long handle, the scent-bottle which she carries in a pocket in her girdle; her curtseying, the movement, full of grace and ease, by which she never forgets at each turning around, to throw back her imaginary train; everything of this kind, which cannot be described, is perfect in its ease and naturalness. Special personification of the unhappy Austrian wife of Louis XVI. is of a less evident, and moreover doubtful, accuracy. To judge of it from the only objective point of comparison at our disposal, the handwriting (see Figs. 39 to 41), the Marie Antoinette of Hélène's somnambulisms little resembles her supposed prototype, for there is less of difference between the autographs of Cagliostro and of Leopold (see p. 109) than there is between that of the real queen and that of her pretended reincarnation in Mlle. Smith, the latter having a rounded, inclined calligraphy, much more regular than in her normal state, instead of the angular and illegible writing which was characteristic of the queen of France, to say nothing of the glaring differences in formation
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Fig. 40. Writing of Mlle. Smith incarnating Marie Antoinette. Seance of November 7, 1897. Beginning of a letter, written in ink and addressed to Philippe dOrléans (M. Aug. de Morsier, who was not present at the seance). After the ink-stains of the last line, Hélène threw down her pencil, then began again and finished her letter in pencil in a still more regular and slanting hand than the above.
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Fig. 41. Writing and signature of Marie Antoinette. Fragment of a letter written from the Temple to General de Jarnayes, and reproduced in the Isographie des Hommes célèbres. [Collection of fac-similes published under the direction of Duchesne, Sr., Paris, 1827-30.]
of many letters. Some orthographic analogies (Hélène writes instans, enfans, étois, etc.) have nothing specific about them, and simply recall the general habits of the last century (see p. 112).
Not having discovered any indication as to Marie Antoinette's manner of speaking, I do not know whether the hypnoid imagination of Hélène has succeeded better than with the handwriting in adopting in her royal incarnations certain intonations and a pronunciation which have nothing of German in them, and would rather recall the English accent. The timbre of her voice does not change, but her speech becomes trailing, with a slight rolling of the rs, and takes on something precise and affected, very pretty, but slightly irritating by its length. We already know that there is not an absolute wall of separation between Hélène's various trances. Just as is the case with the Martian and the Hindoo, the handwriting or the spelling of the queen sometimes slips into the correspondence of Mlle. Smith (see Fig. 39), and she also sometimes assumes the accent of Marie Antoinette, if not in the ordinary waking state (I do not know whether that is ever the case), at least outside her Royal cycle, especially in the phases of transition in which she begins or ends by incarnating Leopold, the Martians, etc. (see, for example, p. 56).
From the point of view of its content, the Royal cycle forms a collection of scenes and varied tableaux, like the Martian dream, lacking any continuous plot, and in which marked historic events scarcely hold a placee.g., in it the queen is never seen to mount the scaffold
as Simandini ascends her funeral pile. One does not always even know whether the spectacle before our eyes is supposed to be the repetition, the exact recollection, of unknown but real episodes in the life of Marie Antoinette, or indeed whether it has to do with new, actual incidents passing now between the reincarnated queen and her old acquaintances whom she discovers in the persons present at the seance or in the disincarnate spirits in mediumistic relationship with her. That depends on the casee.g., on the 25th of December, 1896, Mlle. Smith, entranced, addresses touching exhortations to a lady present whom she took for the Princess Lamballe, which, according to Leopold, is a reproduction of the last evening which the unhappy queen, sustained by her companion in captivity, passed in this world. (It is true that at Christmas, 1792, the princess had already, three months previously, fallen a victim to the massacres of September.) Again the Abbé Grégoire dictates by the table, which bows significantly to Hélène, "I desired to save you, but I was not able"; or the sinister Hébert says to her by the same process, "I was the cause of your death . . . I suffer; pray for me." Ought we to consider real the homage and the posthumous remorse which these two disincarnate spirits bring after the lapse of a century to their sovereign, finally recognized in the person of Mlle. Smith?
Generally it is impossible to decide whether the incident transpiring pretends simply to republish the past or constitutes a new fact.
The location of the royal scenes and visions is
often undetermined. Many are located in the gardens or the apartments of the Petit Trianon, and the furniture which Hélène describes there is, indeed, always pure Louis XVI. More rarely Marie Antoinette is found at the Temple, or at certain rendezvousinnocent, but very imprudentin some secret abode in Paris. She is never seen in Austria, since, unlike the Hindoo princess still filled with her Arab memories, she seems to have completely lost sight of her past as a young girl.
In the surroundings of the queen, the king is conspicuous by his absence; very rarely she makes some allusions to him with a marked indifference. The greater part of the personages known to that epoch, whom I refrain from enumerating, figure in it incidentally, but there are three who continually reappear and hold the first rank. There is, first, the Count of Cagliostro, "mon sorcier," or "ce cher sorcier," as the queen familiarly calls him, who never has enough of his visits and his conversations, which are very varied, including the discussion of philosophic subjects, such as the future life and the existence of God as well as the gossip of the last fête at Versailles. There is, secondly, Louis Philippe dOrléans (Equality); while the third is the old Marquis de Mirabeau; all of whom, especially the first, have served as hallucinatory interlocutors towards Hélène in numerous scenesup to the time at which, to the great amusement of the sitters, the somnambulistic monologue was transformed into real and lively conversation, in consequence of the introduction into the seances of M. Eugène
[paragraph continues] Demole, then of M. Aug. de Morsier, in whom Marie Antoinette immediately recognized the two personages last above mentioned.
Since this unexpected meeting with her two contemporaries, reincarnated, like herself, the somnambulistic queen freely permits herself, on occasion, the pleasure of renewing the little suppers and joyous evenings of long ago. When a seance which has lasted from four o'clock until seven in the afternoon seems to have come to an end, and Mlle. Smith, after having awakened from a long series of Hindoo, Martian, and other scenes, has been invited to dine and refresh herself before taking up her household duties, it often happens that, perceiving M. Demole or M. de Morsier among the persons present, she gives a slight start, with a change of countenance, sometimes barely perceptible, but which there is no mistaking; then, in her very characteristic accent of Marie Antoinette, exclaims, "Oh, marquis, you have been here, and I had not noticed you before!" And then follows a somnambulistic vigil which may be prolonged until nearly ten o'clock in the evening, maintained by means of the suggestive amiability of her improvised companions in sustaining their rôles of Mirabeau or Philippe dOrléans.
They descend to the dining-room. The queen takes her place at the table alongside of the marquis (or of Philippe). She has eyes and ears for him alone, the other guests and the servants remaining shut out from her dream. She eats and drinks only that which he sets before her, and it is no sinecure to supply the wants of this august neighbor, since
she possesses a truly royal appetite. The amount of food which she devours and the goblets of wine which she drinks off one after another, without suffering any inconvenience, are astounding, as in her normal state Mlle. Smith is sobriety itself and eats very little. After dinner they pass into the salon, with many compliments and obeisances, and Marie Antoinette takes coffee. On the first occasions of this kind, she also accepted a cigarette from Philippe and smoked itMlle. Smith never smokes in her waking statebut the remarks of the persons present upon the historical untruthfulness of this feature must have been registered, and bore fruit, since at the following seances she did not seem to understand the use of tobacco in that form; she accepted, on the other hand, with eagerness, a pinch of imaginary snuff, which almost immediately brought about by autosuggestion a series of sneezes admirably successful.
The evening passes in most varied conversation, until, evidently feeling fatigue, the queen becomes silent, closes her eyes, and goes to sleep in an easy-chair. At that instant Leopold, who gives no sign of life, and from whom no response can be obtained during the royal somnambulism, reappears and answers by the fingers or manifests himself in spontaneous gestures. Hélène's hand, e.g., is raised, and makes passes on her forehead to accentuate the restorative sleep which is about to bring her back to her normal state. At the end of some timehalf an hour or moreshe awakes without any recollection of the evening, believing that she
has not yet dined, and complaining of hunger and thirst, as if her stomachic sensibility participated in the amnesia and other modifications which accompany the change of personality. Nevertheless, at such times I have never seen her accept anything more than a couple of glasses of water, after which she feels wide awake.
In escorting her home, I was witness on one occasion to a return of the royal somnambulism. She was exceedingly desirous of going to the house of a well-known personage (whom she had perceived in her vision during the seance), who had been received at the court of Marie Antoinette, and who died in Geneva in the first quarter of this century; it was only upon arriving before the house in which he had lived, and as she was upon the verge of entering it, that I finally succeeded in awakening and restoring her to herself, without memory of the incident, and very much astonished at the unaccustomed streets in which we found ourselves.
It is useless to give a more circumstantial narration of these dinners and soirées of Marie Antoinette. They are very entertaining for the spectators, but lose much of their interest when related in their entirety. Their details are exactly what might be expected of a lively subliminal imagination, alert and full of verve, abundantly supplied, on account of the illustrious queen, with notions still more easily explicable, thanks to the intellectual atmosphere of France, than those of the Hindoo cycle.
Numerous anachronisms, however, slip into them, and her Majesty sometimes falls into the snares
which the marquis or Philippe take a malicious pleasure in setting for her. She often escapes them when they are too clumsy, and, with a most comical display of temper, is at first confused, then curiously questions, or manifests uneasiness in regard to the mental state of her interlocutors when they introduce the telephone, the bicycle, steamships, or the modern scientific vocabulary into their eighteenth-century conversation. But, on the other hand, she herself employs terms still more malapropos, such as, "to derail" (figuratively), "metre" and "centimetre," etc. Certain words, such as "tramway" and "photography," have occasioned serious conflicts. Marie Antoinette first allows the treacherous word to pass unnoticed, and it is evident that she perfectly understood it, but her own reflection, or the smile of the sitters, awakens in her the feeling of incompatibility; she returns to the word just used, and pretends a sudden ignorance and astonishment in regard to it. Spiritism explains these blunders by accusing the Machiavellian companions of the queen of grossly abusing the suggestibility attached to the trance state by jumbling her ideas and throwing her into confusion. Psychology is not surprised that the subliminal imitation, however remarkable it may be, presents some little defects, and every one is in accord in regard to her thoughtless manner of expressing herself, in attributing these anachronisms to an accidental mingling of the memories of her ordinary personality and of the present life with those of the royal personality revived during the somnambulism. In her rôle as
queen, Mlle. Smith gives evidence of a great deal of ingenuity. She is full of witty repartees, which disconcert her interlocutors, the style of which is sometimes perfectly after the manner of the epoch.
This ease and readiness of dialogue, excluding all reflective or calculating preparation, denote a great freedom of mind and a wonderful facility for improvisation. There are mixed with these, on the other hand, some witticisms and episodes which are not at all impromptu, but are the evident result of a preliminary elaboration in the course of the subconscious reveries and various automatisms which the royal romance causes to surge up in Hélène's ordinary life.
There are some scenes whose development or repetition can be followed in a series of seances and spontaneous visions as it passes through the other cycles. The following is one example among many:
At the end of a seance at which M. de Morsier was present (October 10, 1897), Mlle. Smith enters into her dream of Marie Antoinette. During dinner she makes several allusions to her son, the Dauphin, speaks of her daughter, tells of having demanded of her sorcerer the sex of her next child, etc.matters all foreign to the conversation of Philippe, and which seem to announce some underlying scene ready to break forth. In fact, in the middle of the soirée the queen becomes absorbed and distrait, and finally falls on her knees in a dark corner of the salon; her monologue indicates that she is before the cradle where the little Dauphin and his sister are lying asleep. Presently she returns to seek Philippe and
to conduct him to admire the sleeping children, to whom, in a very soft voice, she sings an unknown nursery rhyme ("Sleep in peace," etc.) of a plaintive melody analogous to that of the Hindoo chant; the tears gush from her eyes; tender kisses upon the imaginary cradle and a fervent prayer to the Virgin terminate this extremely touching maternal scene.
Several weeks after (the 1st of December), a new romance makes its appearance in a spontaneous access of visual, auditive, and graphic automatism, the recital of which Hélène sent me the following day. That evening, while alone with her mother, she had interrogated Leopold upon an affair in which she was greatly interested, and had obtained from him an answer: "As soon as his communication was ended, I saw everything disturbed around me; then at my left, at a distance of about thirty feet, a Louis XVI. salon, not very large, was outlined, in the middle of which was a square piano, open. Before this piano was seated a woman, still young, the color of whose hair I could not distinguish. Whether it was blond or gray I could not clearly see. She played and sang at the same time. The sounds of the piano, the voice even, reached me, but I could not catch the words of the song. A young girl and a boy stood on either side of the piano. Not far from them was seated a young lady holding an infant on her lap. * This charming vision lasted a very short time, not longer than ten minutes."
After the disappearance of the vision, Hélène had the idea of taking up her pencil. " With pencil in hand, I was asking myself what I should write, when all at once I heard again the melody; then, this time very distinctly, the words, but without any vision. The whole passed into my head, into my brain, and instinctively I pressed my hand to my forehead in order to hear and understand better. I felt myself compelled to hold the pencil in a manner different from my habitual way of holding it. Here are the words of the song heard and traced at that instant. As you see, the handwriting is not like mine; there are also some very glaring errors of orthography.
"Approchez-vous approchez-vous | enfans chéris approchez-vous | quand le printemps sur nous ramène | ses frais parfums ses rayons dor | venez enfans sous son haleine | gazouiller bas mes doux trésors | approchez-vous approchez-vous | enfans chéris approchez-vous | êtres chéris enfans bénisapprochez-vous de votre mère | son doux baiser petits amis | calme et guérit toutes misères | approchez-vous approchez-vous | enfans chéris approchez-vous." *
Some months later the two preceding scenes were reproduced, with variations of detail, on the same evening, during which Marie Antoinette first conducts Philippe towards the fictitious cradle of her cherubs and sings to them her first song: "Sleep in
peace," etc. Then she leads him to the piano, and, displaying an imaginary sheet of music beneath his eyes, obliges him to accompany her while she sings the "Song of Elizabeth."
M. de Morsier, who, fortunately, is not easily embarrassed, improvised an accompaniment to which the queen accommodated herself after some criticism, and to which she sings in a very sweet, pure voice some words which were found to be, word for word, identical with those automatically written by Hélène on the preceding 1st of December. In this example is seen the mixture of preparation, of repetition, and of impromptu, which are inferred from the varied incidents which constitute the royal soirées.
It is probable that if it were possible to be a witness of, or if Mlle. Smith could remember all the spontaneous automatisms which aid in nourishing the royal romance, nocturnal dreams, hypnagogic visions, subconscious reveries during the waking state, etc., there would be presented interminable imaginary conversations with the marquis, Philippe, Cagliostro, and all the fictitious personages who occasionally make their appearance in the somnambulistic scenes of Marie Antoinette.
It is by this underlying and unknown work, perhaps never interrupted, that the personality of the queen of France is slowly prepared and elaborated, and which shines forth and displays itself with so much of magnificence in the soirées with Philippe dOrléans and the Marquis de Mirabeau.
I have stated that, except these two gentlemen, who always form part of the royal dream when they
are present (and even sometimes when absent), the others present at the seances are excluded. It is understood that they do not pass unperceived on this account.
In the same manner as in the negative hallucinations or systematic anæsthesia of hypnotized subjects, that which seems to be not felt is nevertheless registered; so, in like manner, it is altogether probable that nothing of that which passes around her escapes the fundamental individuality of Mlle. Smith. The royal personality which occupies the foreground of the scene and finds itself in an elective rapport, limited to Philippe and the marquis, merely causes the other personalities to be relegated to the background without breaking their connection with the environment. There are many proofs of this. For example, in walking, Marie Antoinette never runs against any of the others present. The remarks and criticisms of the latter are not lost upon her, since very frequently her conversation betrays their influence after some minutes. At the same time, if any one pinches her hand or tickles her ear, her lips, her nostrils, she seems anæsthetic; still, at the end of a few seconds she turns her head away, and if the tickling is persisted in, she experiences a kind of agitation accommodated to the circumstances of her dream, changes her position on some pretext, etc.
It is manifest, in short, that the excitations to which she seems to be insensible at the moment, far from having no effect, are stored up and produce, by their sum total, reactions which are retarded for some minutes and which are intelligently adapted to the
somnambulistic scene, but with an intensity much more exaggerated than diminished by this period of latency.
Music also affects her, precipitating her out of the dream of Marie Antoinette into a common hypnotic state, in which she assumes passionate attitudes, which have in them nothing of the regal, and which conform to the varied airs which follow each other upon the piano.
In her phases as Marie Antoinette, Hélène has an accent characteristic of it; she recognizes me vaguely; she has some allochiria, a complete insensibility of the hands, and a large appetite; she does not know who Mlle. Smith is; if she is asked to give the actual date, she replies correctly as to the month and day, but indicates a year of the last century, etc. Then all at once her state changes; the royal accent gives way to her ordinary voice, she seems wide awake, all mental confusion has disappeared, she is perfectly clear as to persons, dates, and circumstances, but has no memory of the state from which she has just emerged, and she complains of a sharp pain in her finger (where I had pinched it while in her preceding phase). I took advantage one day of these alternations to offer her a pencil, and dictated to her the sentence of Fig. 42. In her normal moments she holds the pencil in her accustomed manner, between the index and middle fingers, and writes in her usual hand; during the returns of the royal somnambulism she holds it between the thumb and index-finger and assumes her handwriting and orthography known as that of Marie Antoinette,
exactly as her voice is invested with the accent. It is to be presumed that all her other functions, if one could examine them, would show parallel analogous variations, the changing of the personality being naturally accompanied by connected changes not only of the memory and the sensibility, but of motility of the emotional dispositionin brief, of all the faculties of the individuality.
I must add that in each of her states Hélène has the memory of preceding periods of the same kind, but not of another state: it was, for example, necessary to dictate anew, for the second test, the sentence of , which she did not remember having heard or written a few minutes previously. This separation into distinct memories is not, however, absolute, nor very profound: the personality of Marie Antoinette
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Fig. 42. Differences of handwriting of Mlle. Smith at the end of an incarnation of Marie Antoinette, according to whether she is in her normal state (upper lines, in her usual handwriting), or in a return of the royal dream (lower lines; note the word foisoit). Natural size. The tremor of some of the strokes is not in the original, but occurred in the reproduction in ink.
is, in short, a modificationof an intensity and extent which vary greatly with the seancesof the ordinary personality of Mlle. Smith, rather than an alternating and exclusive personality, of which so many striking cases have been observed.
For the mere spectators, the royal somnambulism is perhaps the most interesting of all of Hélène's cycles, on account of the brilliancy and life of the rôle, the length of time during which it may be sustained, the unexpected happenings which the presence of other real persons brings into it. It is truly a comedy.
But for the lovers of the supernormal it is the least extraordinary of the subliminal creations of Mlle. Smith, because the general environment, being in France, is so imbued with historic or legendary memories of the illustrious and unfortunate queen that there is nothing surprising in the hypnoid reconstruction of a personage so well known.
Finally, the psychologist and moralist who undertakes to reflect on the inner meaning of things cannot escape the impression of sharp contrast as compared with reality which this sparkling romance affords.
In themselves, Mlle. Smith's royal somnambulisms are almost always gay and joyous; but, considering their hidden source, in so far as they are the ephemeral and chimerical revenge of the ideal upon the real, of impossible dreams upon daily necessities, of impotent aspirations upon blind and crushing destiny, they assume a tragic signification. They express the sensation lived through, felt, of the bitter
irony of things, of futile revolt, of fatality dominating the human being. They seem to say that all happy and brilliant life is only an illusion soon dissipated. The daily annihilation of the dream and the desire by implacable and brutal reality cannot find in the hypnoid imagination a more adequate representation, a more perfect symbol of an emotional tonality, than her royal majesty whose existence seemed made for the highest peaks of happiness and of fameand ended on the scaffold.
356:* It will be readily understood that this vision represents Marie Antoinette with her three children and Madame Elizabeth.
357:* I have respected the orthography as well as the complete absense of punctuation of this bit of automatic writing, confining myself to marking by vertical bars its evident separation into verses of eight feet. It is written in the inclined and regular hand called that of Marie Antoinette (like that of Fig. 40), but with a pencil too pale to permit its reproduction.