Conrad Amman and the Voice of Inspiration

Compiled by Steven Connor. as part of The Dumbstruck Archive, a continuing, online supplement to Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Quicquid hactenus de Voce & Loquela dixi, de quotidiana illa & vulgari accipi velim, quae fit expirando; est enim & alius adhuc modus eam per inspirationem formandi, qui non cuivis datus est, quemque aliquoties in Gastrimythi quibusdam admiratus sum: et Amstelaedami olim Vetulam quandam audivi utroque modo loquentem, sibique ad quaesita quasi inspirando respondentem, et eam cum Viro, duos ad minimum passus ab ea remoto, colloqui dejerassem; Vocem enim, inter inspirandum absorptam, longinquo venire credebam. Muliercula haec Pythiam agere facile potuisset.

Everything that I have said here about voice and speech must be understood to refer to the way things occur ordinarily, that is, in the expiration of air; however, there is another way of forming the voice, through inspiration, a capacity which is not given to all, but which I have admired in certain Gastrimyths. In Amsterdam I heard an old woman speaking in these two ways. She responded to the questions which she put to herself while breathing in; and one would thought that she was conversing with another person, at least six feet away from her; for the voice, which she drew into herself while breathing in, seemed to me to come from some distance away. This old woman could easily have acted as a Pythoness.

Conrad Amman, Dissertatio de loquela (Amsterdam; apud Joannem Wolters, 1700), p. 117