I am quoting from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Greek Interpreter by Arthur Conan Doyle:
His visitor, on entering his rooms, had drawn a life-preserver from his sleeve, and had so impressed him with the fear of instant and inevitable death that he had kidnapped him for the second time.
I found this entry for the exact expression in Farlex, but it says :"To please and affect someone by exhibiting a particular skill or manner.", while in the quote, it's clear that the victim (Mr. Melas) is not impressed with something pleasant or nice. It would be a great convenience if you could shed some light.