A few years ago a celebrated physician, author of an excellent work on the force of imagination, being desirous to add experimental to his theoretical knowledge, made application to the Minister of Justice to be allowed an opportunity of proving what he asserted, by an experiment on a criminal condemned to death. The minister complied with his request, and delivered over to him an assassin, a man who had been born of distinguished parents. The physician told him that several persons who had taken an interest in his family had obtained leave of the minister that he should suffer death in some way other than on the scaffold, to avoid the disgrace of public execution; and that the easiest death he could die would be by blood-letting. The criminal agreed to the proposal, and counted himself happy in being freed from the painful exhibition which would otherwise have been made of him, and rejoiced at being thus enabled to spare the feelings of his family and friends. At the time appointed the physician repaired to the prison, and the patient having been extended on a table, his eyes bound, and every thing being ready, he was slightly pricked near the principal veins of the legs and arms with the point of a pen. At the four corners of the table were four little fountains, filled with water, from which issued small streams, falling into basins placed there to receive them. The patient, thinking that it was his blood that trickled into the basins, became weaker and weaker by degrees, and the remarks of the medical men in attendance, in reference to the quality and the appearance of the blood (made with that intention) increased the delusion, and he spoke more and more faintly, until at length his voice was scarcely audible. The profound silence which reigned in the apartment, and the constant dropping of the fountain, had so extraordinarily an effect on the brain of the poor patient, that all his vital energies were soon gone, although before a very strong man, and he died without having lost a single drop of blood.

Sources:
The Dublin penny journal – 1835
Atkinson´s casket, Samuel Coate Atkinson – 1836

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