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  • Chinese Pied Pipers? November 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    pied piper

    Beach ran into this weird little text in the depth of the archives of a book quoting a book quoting a book. It is dated to 1820 but reported almost sixty years later in a discussion of horse whispering (a recent obsession on this blog). It does not appear in any newspaper database that we have access to: which is not the same thing as saying that it does not exist, of course. But it is certainly reason enough to treat it with caution and to examine it carefully before treating it like what it purports to be: a reliable report. The story allegedly first appeared in Malacca, in what is today Malaya: presumably in a local English-language newspaper? Canton is, of course, Guangzhou over a thousand miles away in China: the hall of mirror is even longer then.  Now onto this gang of Chinese pied pipers.

    It has been discovered, that there exists a gang of child-stealers. A person when walking in the suburbs of Canton, recognised a child of his employer, who had lately suddenly disappeared. The child did not know him, but appeared stupid. When brought home, the stupifying charms could only be dissipated by the priests of Budha (who were probably well acquainted with the mysterious practice of mesmerism). Search was made, and the retreat of six men and three women were discovered, who had carried on this trade for several years. Dr Esdaile saw a boy in India of about ten years old, who had been found two miles from his home, following a man, and appearing in a stupified state. When he came to his recollection, he told that when in a field by his father’s house, a man, whom he had never seen before, came up to him, took him by the hand, and began to mutter charms over him; very soon after, the man passed his hands across his eyes, and that thereupon he lost his senses, and felt compelled to follow him.

    There is here the very great fear of losing a child, which comes up so insistently from modern legends (and they are practically always legends) about Roma stealing children (another post another day) to medieval and modern legends about the fairy changeling. Is mesmerism/hypnotism really powerful enough to convince a child to leave with someone against the child’s will: perhaps we are speaking about something less subtle like presence, charisma and ‘animal magnetism’? Is there any well documented material for this kind of hypnotic child-stealing? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com