Isis Unveiled by H. P. Blavatsky — Vol. 1

Theosophical University Press Online Edition

[[Vol. 1, Page 99]]


"I choose the nobler part of Emerson, when, after various disenchantments, he exclaimed, 'I covet Truth.' The gladness of true heroism visits the heart of him who is really competent to say this." — TYNDALL.
"A testimony is sufficient when it rests on:
1st. A great number of very sensible witnesses who agree in having seen well.
2d. Who are sane, bodily and mentally.
3d. Who are impartial and disinterested.
4th. Who unanimously agree.
5th. Who solemnly certify to the fact." — VOLTAIRE, Dictiannaire Philosophique.

THE Count Agenor de Gasparin is a devoted Protestant. His battle with des Mousseaux, de Mirville and other fanatics who laid the whole of the spiritual phenomena at the door of Satan, was long and fierce. Two volumes of over fifteen hundred pages are the result, proving the effects, denying the cause, and employing superhuman efforts to invent every other possible explanation that could be suggested rather than the true one.

The severe rebuke received by the Journal des Debats from M. de Gasparin, was read by all civilized Europe.* After that gentleman had minutely described numerous manifestations that he had witnessed himself, this journal very impertinently proposed to the authorities in France to send all those who, after having read the fine analysis of the "spiritual hallucinations" published by Faraday, should insist on crediting this delusion, to the lunatic asylum for Incurables. "Take care," wrote de Gasparin in answer, "the representatives of the exact sciences are on their way to become . . . the Inquisitors of our days. . . . Facts are stronger than Academies. Rejected, denied, mocked, they nevertheless are facts, and do exist."**

The following affirmations of physical phenomena, as witnessed by himself and Professor Thury, may be found in de Gasparin's voluminous work.

"The experimenters have often seen the legs of the table glued, so to say, to the floor, and, notwithstanding the excitement of those present, refuse to be moved from their place. On other occasions they have seen the tables levitated in quite an energetic way. They heard, with their own

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* "Des Tables," vol. i, p. 213.

** Ibid., 216.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 100 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

ears, loud as well as gentle raps, the former threatening to shatter the table to pieces on account of their violence, the latter so soft as to become hardly perceptible. . . . As to LEVITATIONS WITHOUT CONTACT, we found means to produce them easily, and with success. . . . And such levitations do not pertain to isolated results. We have reproduced them over THIRTY times.* . . . One day the table will turn, and lift its legs successively, its weight being augmented by a man weighing eighty-seven kilogrammes seated on it; another time it will remain motionless and immovable, notwithstanding that the person placed on it weighs but sixty.**. . . On one occasion we willed it to turn upside down, and it turned over, with its legs in the air, notwithstanding that our fingers never touched it once."***

"It is certain," remarks de Mirville, "that a man who had repeatedly witnessed such a phenomenon, could not accept the fine analysis of the English physicist."****

Since 1850, des Mousseaux and de Mirville, uncompromising Roman Catholics, have published many volumes whose titles are cleverly contrived to attract public attention. They betray on the part of the authors a very serious alarm, which, moreover, they take no pains to conceal. Were it possible to consider the phenomena spurious, the church of Rome would never have gone so much out of her way to repress them.

Both sides having agreed upon the facts, leaving skeptics out of the question, people could divide themselves into but two parties: the believers in the direct agency of the devil, and the believers in disembodied and other spirits. The fact alone, that theology dreaded a great deal more the revelations which might come through this mysterious agency than all the threatening "conflicts" with Science and the categorical denials of the latter, ought to have opened the eyes of the most skeptical. The church of Rome has never been either credulous or cowardly, as is abundantly proved by the Machiavellism which marks her policy. Moreover, she has never troubled herself much about the clever prestidigitateurs whom she knew to be simply adepts in juggling. Robert Houdin, Comte, Hamilton and Bosco, slept secure in their beds, while she persecuted such men as Paracelsus, Cagliostro, and Mesmer, the Hermetic philosophers and mystics — and effectually stopped every genuine manifestation of an occult nature by killing the mediums.

Those who are unable to believe in a personal devil and the dogmas of the church must nevertheless accord to the clergy enough of shrewdness

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* "Des Tables," vol. i., p. 48.

** Ibid., p. 24.

*** Ibid., p. 35.

**** De Mirville: "Des Esprits," p. 26.


to prevent the compromising of her reputation for infallibility by making so much of manifestations which, if fraudulent, must inevitably be some day exposed.

But the best testimony to the reality of this force was given by Robert Houdin himself, the king of jugglers, who, upon being called as an expert by the Academy to witness the wonderful clairvoyant powers and occasional mistakes of a table, said: "We jugglers never make mistakes, and my second-sight never failed me yet."

The learned astronomer Babinet was not more fortunate in his selection of Comte, the celebrated ventriloquist, as an expert to testify against the phenomena of direct voices and the rappings. Comte, if we may believe the witnesses, laughed in the face of Babinet at the bare suggestion that the raps were produced by "unconscious ventriloquism!" The latter theory, worthy twin-sister of "unconscious cerebration," caused many of the most skeptical academicians to blush. Its absurdity was too apparent.

"The problem of the supernatural," says de Gasparin, "such as it was presented by the middle ages, and as it stands now, is not among the number of those which we are permitted to despise; its breadth and grandeur escape the notice of no one. . . . Everything is profoundly serious in it, both the evil and the remedy, the superstitious recrudescency, and the physical fact which is destined to conquer the latter."*

Further, he pronounces the following decisive opinion, to which he came, conquered by the various manifestations, as he says himself — "The number of facts which claim their place in the broad daylight of truth, has so much increased of late, that of two consequences one is henceforth inevitable: either the domain of natural sciences must consent to expand itself, or the domain of the supernatural will become so enlarged as to have no bounds."**

Among the multitude of books against spiritualism emanating from Catholic and Protestant sources, none have produced a more appalling effect than the works of de Mirville and des Mousseaux: La Magie au XIXme Siecle — Moeurs et Pratiques des Demons — Hauts Phenomees de la Magie — Les Mediateurs de la Magie — Des Esprits et de leurs Manifestations, etc. They comprise the most cyclopaedic biography of the devil and his imps that has appeared for the private delectation of good Catholics since the middle ages.

According to the authors, he who was "a liar and murderer from the beginning," was also the principal motor of spiritual phenomena. He had been for thousands of years at the head of pagan theurgy; and

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* "Avant propos," pp. 12 and 16.

** Vol. i., p. 244.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 102 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

it was he, again, who, encouraged by the increase of heresies, infidelity, and atheism, had reappeared in our century. The French Academy lifted up its voice in a general outcry of indignation, and M. de Gasparin even took it for a personal insult. "This is a declaration of war, a 'levee of shields' " — wrote he in his voluminous book of refutations. "The work of M. de Mirville is a real manifesto. . . . I would be glad to see in it the expression of a strictly individual opinion, but, in truth, it is impossible. The success of the work, these solemn adhesions, the faithful reproduction of its theses by the journals and writers of the party, the solidarity established throughout between them and the whole body of catholicity . . . everything goes to show a work which is essentially an act, and has the value of a collective labor. As it is, I felt that I had a duty to perform. . . . I felt obliged to pick up the glove. . . . and lift high the Protestant flag against the Ultramontane banner."*

The medical faculties, as might have been expected, assuming the part of the Greek chorus, echoed the various expostulations against the demonological authors. The Medico-Psychological Annals, edited by Drs. Brierre de Boismont and Cerise, published the following: "Outside these controversies of antagonistical parties, never in our country did a writer dare to face, with a more aggressive serenity, . . . the sarcasms, the scorn of what we term common sense; and, as if to defy and challenge at the same time thundering peals of laughter and shrugging of shoulders, the author strikes an attitude, and placing himself with effrontery before the members of the Academy . . . addresses to them what he modestly terms his Memoire on the Devil!"**

That was a cutting insult to the Academicians, to be sure; but ever since 1850 they seem to have been doomed to suffer in their pride more than most of them can bear. The idea of asking the attention of the forty "Immortals" to the pranks of the Devil! They vowed revenge, and, leaguing themselves together, propounded a theory which exceeded in absurdity even de Mirville's demonolatry! Dr. Royer and Jobart de Lamballe — both celebrities in their way — formed an alliance and presented to the Institute a German whose cleverness afforded, according to his statement, the key to all the knockings and rappings of both hemispheres. "We blush" — remarks the Marquis de Mirville — "to say that the whole of the trick consisted simply in the reiterated displacement of one of the muscular tendons of the legs. Great demonstration of the system in full sitting of the Institute — and on the spot . . . expressions of Academical gratitude for this interesting communication, and, a few days later, a full assurance given to the public by a professor of the medical

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* Vol. ii., p. 524.

** "Medico-Psychological Annals," Jan. 1, 1854.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 103 THE DEVIL "THE PILLAR OF FAITH."

faculty, that, scientists having pronounced their opinion, the mystery was at last unravelled!"*

But such scientific explanations neither prevented the phenomenon from quietly following its course, nor the two writers on demonology from proceeding to expound their strictly orthodox theories.

Denying that the Church had anything to do with his books, des Mousseaux gravely gave the Academy, in addition to his Memoire, the following interesting and profoundly philosophical thoughts on Satan:

"The Devil is the chief pillar of Faith. He is one of the grand personages whose life is closely allied to that of the church; and without his speech which issued out so triumphantly from the mouth of the Serpent, his medium, the fall of man could not have taken place. Thus, if it was not for him, the Saviour, the Crucified, the Redeemer, would be but the most ridiculous of supernumeraries, and the Cross an insult to good sense!"**

This writer, be it remembered, is only the faithful echo of the church, which anathematizes equally the one who denies God and him who doubts the objective existence of Satan.

But the Marquis de Mirville carries this idea of God's partnership with the Devil still further. According to him it is a regular commercial affair, in which the senior "silent partner" suffers the active business of the firm to be transacted as it may please his junior associate, by whose audacity and industry he profits. Who could be of any other opinion, upon reading the following?

"At the moment of this spiritual invasion of 1853, so slightingly regarded, we had dared to pronounce the word of a 'threatening catastrophe.' The world was nevertheless at peace, but history showing us the same symptoms at all disastrous epochs, we had a presentiment of the sad effects of a law which Goerres has formulated thus: [vol. v., p. 356.] 'These mysterious apparitions have invariably indicated the chastening hand of God on earth.' "***

These guerilla-skirmishes between the champions of the clergy and the materialistic Academy of Science, prove abundantly how little the latter has done toward uprooting blind fanaticism from the minds of even very educated persons. Evidently science has neither completely conquered nor muzzled theology. She will master her only on that day when she will condescend to see in the spiritual phenomenon something besides mere hallucination and charlatanry. But how can she do it without investigating it thoroughly? Let us suppose that before the time when

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* De Mirville: "Des Esprits," "Constitutionnel," June 16, 1854.

** Chevalier des Mousseaux: "Moeurs et Pratiques des Demons," p. x.

*** De Mirville: "Des Esprits," p. 4.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 104 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

electro-magnetism was publicly acknowledged, the Copenhagen Professor Oersted, its discoverer, had been suffering from an attack of what we call psychophobia, or pneumatophobia. He notices that the wire along which a voltaic current is passing shows a tendency to turn the magnetic needle from its natural position to one perpendicular to the direction of the current. Suppose, moreover, that the professor had heard much of certain superstitious people who used that kind of magnetized needles to converse with unseen intelligences. That they received signals and even held correct conversations with them by means of the tippings of such a needle, and that in consequence he suddenly felt a scientific horror and disgust for such an ignorant belief, and refused, point-blank, to have anything to do with such a needle. What would have been the result? Electro-magnetism might not have been discovered till now, and our experimentalists would have been the principal losers thereby.

Babinet, Royer, and Jobert de Lamballe, all three members of the Institute, particularly distinguished themselves in this struggle between skepticism and supernaturalism, and most assuredly have reaped no laurels. The famous astronomer had imprudently risked himself on the battlefield of the phenomenon. He had explained scientifically the manifestations. But, emboldened by the fond belief among scientists that the new epidemic could not stand close investigation nor outlive the year, he had the still greater imprudence to publish two articles on them. As M. de Mirville very wittily remarks, if both of the articles had but a poor success in the scientific press, they had, on the other hand, none at all in the daily one.

M. Babinet began by accepting a priori, the rotation and movements of the furniture, which fact he declared to be "hors de doute." "This rotation," he said, "being able to manifest itself with a considerable energy, either by a very great speed, or by a strong resistance when it is desired that it should stop."*

Now comes the explanation of the eminent scientist. "Gently pushed by little concordant impulsions of the hands laid upon it, the table begins to oscillate from right to left. . . . At the moment when, after more or less delay, a nervous trepidation is established in the hands and the little individual impulsions of all the experimenters have become harmonized, the table is set in motion."**

He finds it very simple, for "all muscular movements are determined over bodies by levers of the third order, in which the fulcrum is very near to the point where the force acts. This, consequently, communicates a

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* Ibid., "Revue des Deux Mondes," January 15, 1854, p. 108.

** This is a repetition and variation of Faraday's theory.


great speed to the mobile parts for the very little distance which the motor force has to run. . . . Some persons are astonished to see a table subjected to the action of several well-disposed individuals in a fair way to conquer powerful obstacles, even break its legs, when suddenly stopped; but that is very simple if we consider the power of the little concordant actions. . . . Once more, the physical explanation offers no difficulty."*

In this dissertation, two results are clearly shown: the reality of the phenomena proved, and the scientific explanation made ridiculous. But M. Babinet can well afford to be laughed at a little; he knows, as an astronomer, that dark spots are to be found even in the sun.

There is one thing, though, that Babinet has always stoutly denied, viz.: the levitation of furniture without contact. De Mirville catches him proclaiming that such levitation is impossible: "simply impossible," he says, "as impossible as perpetual motion."**

Who can take upon himself, after such a declaration, to maintain that the word impossible pronounced by science is infallible?

But the tables, after having waltzed, oscillated and turned, began tipping and rapping. The raps were sometimes as powerful as pistol-detonations. What of this? Listen: "The witnesses and investigators are ventriloquists!"

De Mirville refers us to the Revue des Deux Mondes, in which is published a very interesting dialogue, invented by M. Babinet speaking of himself to himself, like the Chaldean En-Soph of the Kabalists: "What can we finally say of all these facts brought under our observation? Are there such raps produced? Yes. Do such raps answer questions? Yes. Who produces these sounds? The mediums. By what means? By the ordinary acoustic method of the ventriloquists. But we were given to suppose that these sounds might result from the cracking of the toes and fingers? No; for then they would always proceed from the same point, and such is not the fact."***

"Now," asks de Mirville, "what are we to believe of the Americans, and their thousands of mediums who produce the same raps before millions of witnesses?" "Ventriloquism, to be sure," answers Babinet. "But how can you explain such an impossibility?" The easiest thing in the world; listen only: "All that was necessary to produce the first manifestation in the first house in America was, a street-boy knocking at the door of a mystified citizen, perhaps with a leaden ball attached to a

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* "Revue des Deux Mondes," p. 410.

** "Revue des Deux Mondes," January, 1854, p. 414.

*** "Revue des Deux Mondes," May 1, 1854, p. 531.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 106 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

string, and if Mr. Weekman (the first believer in America) (?)* when he watched for the third time, heard no shouts of laughter in the street, it is because of the essential difference which exists between a French street-Arab, and an English or Trans-Atlantic one, the latter being amply provided with what we call a sad merriment, "gaite triste."**

Truly says de Mirville in his famous reply to the attacks of de Gasparin, Babinet, and other scientists: "and thus according to our great physicist, the tables turn very quickly, very energetically, resist likewise, and, as M. de Gasparin has proved, they levitate without contact. Said a minister: 'With three words of a man's handwriting, I take upon myself to have him hung.' With the above three lines, we take upon ourselves, in our turn, to throw into the greatest confusion the physicists of all the globe, or rather to revolutionize the world — if at least, M. de Babinet had taken the precaution of suggesting, like M. de Gasparin, some yet unknown law or force. For this would cover the whole ground."***

But it is in the notes embracing the "facts and physical theories," that we find the acme of the consistency and logic of Babinet as an expert investigator on the field of Spiritualism.

It would appear, that M. de Mirville in his narrative of the wonders manifested at the Presbytere de Cideville,**** was much struck by the marvellousness of some facts. Though authenticated before the inquest and magistrates, they were of so miraculous a nature as to force the demonological author himself to shrink from the responsibility of publishing them.

These facts were as follows: "At the precise moment predicted by a sorcerer"case of revenge — "a violent clap of thunder was heard above one of the chimneys of the presbytery, after which the fluid descended with a formidable noise through that passage, threw down believers as well as skeptics (as to the power of the sorcerer) who were warming themselves by the fire; and, having filled the room with a multitude of fantastic animals, returned to the chimney, and having reascended it, disappeared, after producing the same terrible noise. "As," adds de Mirville, "we were already but too rich in facts, we recoiled before this new enormity added to so many others."****

But Babinet, who in common with his learned colleagues had made such fun of the two writers on demonology, and who was determined, moreover, to prove the absurdity of all like stories, felt himself obliged

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* We translate verbatim. We doubt whether Mr. Weekman was the first investigator.

** Babinet: "Revue des Deux Mondes," May 1, 1854, p. 511.

*** De Mirville: "Des Esprits," p. 33.

**** Notes, "Des Esprits," p. 38.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 107 BABINET'S METEORIC CAT.

to discredit the above-mentioned fact of the Cideville phenomena, by presenting one still more incredible. We yield the floor to M. Babinet, himself.

The following circumstance which he gave to the Academy of Sciences, on July 5, 1852, can be found without further commentary, and merely as an instance of a sphere-like lightning, in the "OEuvres de F. Arago," vol. i., p. 52. We offer it verbatim.

"After a strong clap of thunder," says M. Babinet, "but not immediately following it, a tailor apprentice, living in the Rue St. Jacques, was just finishing his dinner, when he saw the paper-screen which shut the fireplace fall down as if pushed out of its place by a moderate gust of wind. Immediately after that he perceived a globe of fire, as large as the head of a child, come out quietly and softly from within the grate and slowly move about the room, without touching the bricks of the floor. The aspect of this fire-globe was that of a young cat, of middle size . . . moving itself without the use of its paws. The fire-globe was rather brilliant and luminous than hot or inflamed, and the tailor had no sensation of warmth. This globe approached his feet like a young cat which wishes to play and rub itself against the legs, as is habitual to these animals; but the apprentice withdrew his feet from it, and moving with great caution, avoided contact with the meteor. The latter remained for a few seconds moving about his legs, the tailor examining it with great curiosity and bending over it. After having tried several excursions in opposite directions, but without leaving the centre of the room, the fire-globe elevated itself vertically to the level of the man's head, who to avoid its contact with his face, threw himself backward on his chair. Arrived at about a yard from the floor the fire-globe slightly lengthened, took an oblique direction toward a hole in the wall over the fireplace, at about the height of a metre above the mantelpiece." This hole had been made for the purpose of admitting the pipe of a stove in winter; but, according to the expression of the tailor, "the thunder could not see it, for it was papered over like the rest of the wall. The fire-globe went directly to that hole, unglued the paper without damaging it, and reasscended the chimney . . . when it arrived at the top, which it did very slowly . . . at least sixty feet above ground . . . it produced a most frightful explosion, which partly destroyed the chimney, . . ." etc.

"It seems," remarks de Mirville in his review, "that we could apply to M. Babinet the following remark made by a very witty woman to Raynal, 'If you are not a Christian, it is not for lack of faith.' "*

It was not alone believers who wondered at the credulity displayed by

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* De Mirville: "Faits et Theories Physiques," p. 46.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 108 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

M. Babinet, in persisting to call the manifestation a meteor; for Dr. Boudin mentions it very seriously in a work on lightning he was just then publishing. "If these details are exact," says the doctor, "as they seem to be, since they are admitted by MM. Babinet and Arago, it appears very difficult for the phenomenon to retain its appellation of sphere-shaped lightning. However, we leave it to others to explain, if they can, the essence of a fire-globe emitting no sensation of heat, having the aspect of a cat, slowly promenading in a room, which finds means to escape by reascending the chimney through an aperture in the wall covered over with a paper which it unglues without damaging!"*

"We are of the same opinion," adds the marquis, "as the learned doctor, on the difficulty of an exact definition, and we do not see why we should not have in future lightning in the shape of a dog, of a monkey, etc., etc. One shudders at the bare idea of a whole meteorological menagerie, which, thanks to thunder, might come down to our rooms to promenade themselves at will."

Says de Gasparin, in his monster volume of refutations: "In questions of testimony, certitude must absolutely cease the moment we cross the borders of the supernatural."**

The line of demarcation not being sufficiently fixed and determined, which of the opponents is best fitted to take upon himself the difficult task? Which of the two is better entitled to become the public arbiter? Is it the party of superstition, which is supported in its testimony by the evidence of many thousands of people? For nearly two years they crowded the country where were daily manifested the unprecedented miracles of Cideville, now nearly forgotten among other countless spiritual phenomena; shall we believe them, or shall we bow to science, represented by Babinet, who, on the testimony of one man (the tailor), accepts the manifestation of the fire-globe, or the meteor-cat, and henceforth claims for it a place among the established facts of natural phenomena?

Mr. Crookes, in his first article in the Quarterly Journal of Science, October 1, 1871, mentions de Gasparin and his work Science v. Spiritualism. He remarks that "the author finally arrived at the conclusion that all these phenomena are to be accounted for by the action of natural causes, and do not require the supposition of miracles, nor the intervention of spirits and diabolical influences! Gasparin considers it as a fact fully established by his experiments, that the will, in certain

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* See Monograph: "Of the Lightning considered from the point of view of the history of Legal Medicine and Public Hygiene," by M. Boudin, Chief Surgeon of the Military Hospital of Boule.

** De Gasparin: vol. i., page 288.


states of organism, can act at a distance on inert matter, and most of his work is devoted to ascertaining the laws and conditions under which this action manifests itself."*

Precisely; but as the work of de Gasparin called forth numberless Answers, Defenses, and Memoirs, it was then demonstrated by his own work that as he was a Protestant, in point of religious fanaticism, he was as little to be relied upon as des Mousseaux and de Mirville. The former is a profoundly pious Calvinist, while the two latter are fanatical Roman Catholics. Moreover, the very words of de Gasparin betray the spirit of partisanship: — "I feel I have a duty to perform. . . . I lift high the Protestant flag against the Ultramontane banner!" etc.** In such matters as the nature of the so-called spiritual phenomena, no evidence can be relied upon, except the disinterested testimony of cold unprejudiced witnesses and science. Truth is one, and Legion is the name for religious sects; every one of which claims to have found the unadulterated truth; as "the Devil is the chief pillar of the (Catholic) Church," so all supernaturalism and miracles ceased, in de Gasparin's opinion, "with apostleship."

But Mr. Crookes mentioned another eminent scholar, Thury, of Geneva, professor of natural history, who was a brother-investigator with Gasparin in the phenomena of Valleyres. This professor contradicts point-blank the assertions of his colleague. "The first and most necessary condition," says Gasparin, "is the will of the experimenter; without the will, one would obtain nothing; you can form the chain (the circle) for twenty-four hours consecutively, without obtaining the least movement."***

The above proves only that de Gasparin makes no difference between phenomena purely magnetic, produced by the persevering will of the sitters among whom there may be not even a single medium, developed or undeveloped, and the so-called spiritual ones. While the first can be produced consciously by nearly every person, who has a firm and determined will, the latter overpowers the sensitive very often against his own consent, and always acts independently of him. The mesmerizer wills a thing, and if he is powerful enough, that thing is done. The medium, even if he had an honest purpose to succeed, may get no manifestations at all; the less he exercises his will, the better the phenomena: the more he feels anxious, the less he is likely to get anything; to mesmerize requires a positive nature, to be a medium a perfectly passive one. This is the Alphabet of Spiritualism, and no medium is ignorant of it.

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* Crookes: "Physical Force," page 26.

** De Gasparin: "Science versus Spirit," vol. i., p. 313.

*** Ibid., vol. i., p. 313.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 110 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

The opinion of Thury, as we have said, disagrees entirely with Gasparin's theories of will-power. He states it in so many plain words, in a letter, in answer to the invitation of the count to modify the last article of his memoire. As the book of Thury is not at hand, we translate the letter as it is found in the resume of de Mirville's Defense. Thury's article which so shocked his religious friend, related to the possibility of the existence and intervention in those manifestations "of wills other than those of men and animals."

"I feel, sir, the justness of your observations in relation to the last pages of this memoire: they may provoke a very bad feeling for me on the part of scientists in general. I regret it the more as my determination seems to affect you so much; nevertheless, I persist in my resolution, because I think it a duty, to shirk which would be a kind of treason.

"If, against all expectations, there were some truth in Spiritualism, by abstaining from saying on the part of science, as I conceive it to be, that the absurdity of the belief in the intervention of spirits is not as yet demonstrated scientifically (for such is the resume, and the thesis of the past pages of my memoire), by abstaining from saying it to those who, after having read my work, will feel inclined to experiment with the phenomena, I might risk to entice such persons on a path many issues of which are very equivocal.

"Without leaving the domain of science, as I esteem it, I will pursue my duty to the end, without any reticence to the profit of my own glory, and, to use your own words, 'as the great scandal lies there,' I do not wish to assume the shame of it. I, moreover, insist that 'this is as scientific as anything else.' If I wanted to sustain now the theory of the intervention of disembodied spirits, I would have no power for it, for the facts which are made known are not sufficient for the demonstration of such a hypothesis. As it is, and in the position I have assumed, I feel I am strong against every one. Willingly or not, all the scientists must learn, through experience and their own errors, to suspend their judgment as to things which they have not sufficiently examined. The lesson you gave them in this direction cannot be lost.

"GENEVA, 21 December, 1854."

Let us analyze the above letter, and try to discover what the writer thinks, or rather what he does not think of this new force. One thing is certain, at least: Professor Thury, a distinguished physicist and naturalist, admits, and even scientifically proves that various manifestations take place. Like Mr. Crookes, he does not believe that they are produced by the interference of spirits or disembodied men who have lived


and died on earth; for he says in his letter that nothing has demonstrated this theory. He certainly believes no more in the Catholic devils or demons, for de Mirville, who quotes this letter as a triumphant proof against de Gasparin's naturalistic theory, once arrived at the above sentence, hastens to emphasize it by a foot-note, which runs thus: "At Valleyres — perhaps, but everywhere else!"* showing himself anxious to convey the idea that the professor only meant the manifestations of Valleyres, when denying their being produced by demons.

The contradictions, and we are sorry to say, the absurdities in which de Gasparin allows himself to be caught, are numerous. While bitterly criticizing the pretensions of the learned Faradaysiacs, he attributes things which he declares magical, to causes perfectly natural. "If," he says, "we had to deal but with such phenomena (as witnessed and explained (?) by the great physicist), we might as well hold our tongues; but we have passed beyond, and what good can they do now, I would ask, these apparatus which demonstrate that an unconscious pressure explains the whole? It explains all, and the table resists pressure and guidance! It explains all, and a piece of furniture which nobody touches follows the fingers pointed at it; it levitates (without contact), and it turns itself upside down!"**

But for all that, he takes upon himself to explain the phenomena.

"People will be advocating miracles, you say — magic! Every new law appears to them as a prodigy. Calm yourselves; I take upon myself the task to quiet those who are alarmed. In the face of such phenomena, we do not cross at all the boundaries of natural law."***

Most assuredly, we do not. But can the scientists assert that they have in their possession the keys to such law? M. de Gasparin thinks he has. Let us see.

"I do not risk myself to explain anything; it is no business of mine. (?) To authenticate simple facts, and maintain a truth which science desires to smother, is all I pretend to do. Nevertheless, I cannot resist the temptation to point out to those who would treat us as so many illuminati or sorcerers, that the manifestation in question affords an interpretation which agrees with the ordinary laws of science.

"Suppose a fluid, emanating from the experimenters, and chiefly from some of them; suppose that the will determined the direction taken by the fluid, and you will readily understand the rotation and levitation of that one of the legs of the table toward which is ejected with every action of the will an excess of fluid. Suppose that the glass causes the

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* De Mirville pleads here the devil-theory, of course.

** "Des Tables," vol. i., p. 213.

*** Vol. i., p. 217.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 112 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

fluid to escape, and you will understand how a tumbler placed on the table can interrupt its rotation, and that the tumbler, placed on one of its sides, causes the accumulation of the fluid in the opposite side, which, in consequence of that, is lifted!"

If every one of the experimenters were clever mesmerizers, the explanation, minus certain important details, might be acceptable. So much for the power of human will on inanimate matter, according to the learned minister of Louis Philippe. But how about the intelligence exhibited by the table? What explanation does he give as to answers obtained through the agency of this table to questions? answers which could not possibly have been the "reflections of the brain" of those present (one of the favorite theories of de Gasparin), for their own ideas were quite the reverse of the very liberal philosophy given by this wonderful table? On this he is silent. Anything but spirits, whether human, satanic, or elemental.

Thus, the "simultaneous concentration of thought," and the "accumulation of fluid," will be found no better than "the unconscious cerebration" and "psychic force" of other scientists. We must try again; and we may predict beforehand that the thousand and one theories of science will prove of no avail until they will confess that this force, far from being a projection of the accumulated wills of the circle, is, on the contrary, a force which is abnormal, foreign to themselves, and supra-intelligent.

Professor Thury, who denies the theory of departed human spirits, rejects the Christian devil-doctrine, and shows himself unwilling to pronounce in favor of Crookes's theory (the 6th), that of the hermetists and ancient theurgists, adopts the one, which, he says in his letter, is "the most prudent, and makes him feel strong against every one." Moreover, he accepts as little of de Gasparin's hypothesis of "unconscious will-power." This is what he says in his work:

"As to the announced phenomena, such as the levitation without contact, and the displacement of furniture by invisible hands — unable to demonstrate their impossibility, a priori, no one has the right to treat as absurd the serious evidences which affirm their occurrence" (p. 9).

As to the theory proposed by M. de Gasparin, Thury judges it very severely. "While admitting that in the experiments of Valleyres," says de Mirville, "the seat of the force might have been in the individual and we say that it was intrinsic and extrinsic at the same time — and that the will might be generally necessary (p. 20), he repeats but what he had said in his preface, to wit: 'M. de Gasparin presents us with crude facts, and the explanations following he offers for what they are worth. Breathe on them, and not many will be found standing after this. No,

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 113 PROF. THURY'S "ECTENIC FORCE."

very little, if anything, will remain of his explanations. As to facts, they are henceforth demonstrated' " (p. 10).

As Mr. Crookes tells us, Professor Thury refutes "all these explanations, and considers the effects due to a peculiar substance, fluid, or agent, pervading in a manner similar to the luminiferous ether of the scientists, all matter, nervous, organic or inorganic, which he terms psychode. He enters into full discussion as to the properties of this state, or form, or matter, and proposes the term ectenic force . . . for the power exerted when the mind acts at a distance through the influence of the psychode."*

Mr. Crookes remarks further, that "Professor Thury's ectenic force, and his own 'psychic force' are evidently equivalent terms."

We certainly could very easily demonstrate that the two forces are identical, moreover, the astral or sidereal light as explained by the alchemists and Eliphas Levi, in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie; and that, under the name of AKASA, or life-principle, this all-pervading force was known to the gymnosophists, Hindu magicians, and adepts of all countries, thousands of years ago; and, that it is still known to them, and used at present by the Thibetan lamas, fakirs, thaumaturgists of all nationalities, and even by many of the Hindu "jugglers."

In many cases of trance, artificially induced by mesmerization, it is also quite possible, even quite probable, that it is the "spirit" of the subject which acts under the guidance of the operator's will. But, if the medium remains conscious, and psycho-physical phenomena occur which indicate a directing intelligence, then, unless it be conceded that he is a "magician," and can project his double, physical exhaustion can signify nothing more than nervous prostration. The proof that he is the passive instrument of unseen entities controlling occult potencies, seems conclusive. Even if Thury's ectenic and Crookes's psychic force are substantially of the same derivation, the respective discoverers seem to differ widely as to the properties and potencies of this force; while Professor Thury candidly admits that the phenomena are often produced by "wills not human," and so, of course, gives a qualified endorsement to Mr. Crookes's theory No. 6, the latter, admitting the genuineness of the phenomena, has as yet pronounced no definite opinion as to their cause.

Thus, we find that neither M. Thury, who investigated these manifestations with de Gasparin in 1854, nor Mr. Crookes, who conceded their undeniable genuineness in 1874, have reached anything definite. Both are chemists, physicists, and very learned men. Both have given all their attention to the puzzling question; and besides these two scien-

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* Crookes: "Psychic Force," part i., pp. 26-27.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 114 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

tists there were many others who, while coming to the same conclusion, have hitherto been as unable to furnish the world with a final solution. It follows then, that in twenty years none of the scientists have made a single step toward the unravelling of the mystery, which remains as immovable and impregnable as the walls of an enchanted castle in a fairy tale.

Would it be too impertinent to surmise that perhaps our modern scientists have got in what the French term un cercle vicieux? That, hampered by the weight of their materialism, and the insufficiency of what they name "the exact sciences" to demonstrate to them tangibly the existence of a spiritual universe, peopled and inhabited much more than our visible one, they are doomed forever to creep around inside that circle, unwilling rather than unable to penetrate beyond its enchanted ring, and explore it in its length and breadth? It is but prejudice which keeps them from making a compromise with well-established facts and seek alliance with such expert magnetists and mesmerizers as were Du Potet and Regazzoni.

"What, then, is produced from death?" inquired Socrates of Cebes. "Life," was the reply.* . . . "Can the soul, since it is immortal, be anything else than imperishable?"** The "seed cannot develop unless it is in part consumed," says Prof. Lecomte; "it is not quickened unless it die," says St. Paul.

A flower blossoms; then withers and dies. It leaves a fragrance behind, which, long after its delicate petals are but a little dust, still lingers in the air. Our material sense may not be cognizant of it, but it nevertheless exists. Let a note be struck on an instrument, and the faintest sound produces an eternal echo. A disturbance is created on the invisible waves of the shoreless ocean of space, and the vibration is never wholly lost. Its energy being once carried from the world of matter into the immaterial world will live for ever. And man, we are asked to believe, man, the living, thinking, reasoning entity, the indwelling deity of our nature's crowning masterpiece, will evacuate his casket and be no more! Would the principle of continuity which exists even for the so-called inorganic matter, for a floating atom, be denied to the spirit, whose attributes are consciousness, memory, mind, LOVE! Really, the very idea is preposterous. The more we think and the more we learn, the more difficult it becomes for us to account for the atheism of the scientist. We may readily understand that a man ignorant of the laws of nature, unlearned in either chemistry or physics, may be fatally drawn into materialism through his very ignorance; his incapacity of

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* Plato: "Phaedo," § 44.

** Ibid., § 128.


understanding the philosophy of the exact sciences, or drawing any inference by analogy from the visible to the invisible. A natural-born metaphysician, an ignorant dreamer, may awake abruptly and say to himself: "I dreamed it; I have no tangible proof of that which I imagined; it is all illusion," etc. But for a man of science, acquainted with the characteristics of the universal energy, to maintain that life is merely a phenomenon of matter, a species of energy, amounts simply to a confession of his own incapability of analyzing and properly understanding the alpha and the omega even of that — matter.

Sincere skepticism as to the immortality of man's soul is a malady; a malformation of the physical brain, and has existed in every age. As there are infants born with a caul upon their heads, so there are men who are incapable to their last hour of ridding themselves of that kind of caul evidently enveloping their organs of spirituality. But it is quite another feeling which makes them reject the possibility of spiritual and magical phenomena. The true name for that feeling is — vanity. "We can neither produce nor explain it — hence, it does not exist, and moreover, could never have existed." Such is the irrefutable argument of our present-day philosophers. Some thirty years ago, E. Salverte startled the world of the "credulous" by his work, The Philosophy of Magic. The book claimed to unveil the whole of the miracles of the Bible as well as those of the Pagan sanctuaries. Its resume ran thus: Long ages of observation; a great knowledge (for those days of ignorance) of natural sciences and philosophy; imposture; legerdemain; optics; phantasmagoria; exaggeration. Final and logical conclusion: Thaumaturgists, prophets, magicians, rascals, and knaves; the rest of the world, fools.

Among many other conclusive proofs, the reader can find him offering the following: "The enthusiastic disciples of Iamblichus affirmed that when he prayed, he was raised to the height of ten cubits from the ground; and dupes to the same metaphor, although Christians, have had the simplicity to attribute a similar miracle to St. Clare, and St. Francis of Assisi."*

Hundreds of travellers claimed to have seen fakirs produce the same phenomena, and they were all thought either liars or hallucinated. But it was but yesterday that the same phenomenon was witnessed and endorsed by a well-known scientist; it was produced under test conditions; declared by Mr. Crookes to be genuine, and to be beyond the possibility of an illusion or a trick. And so was it manifested many a time before and attested by numerous witnesses, though the latter are now invariably disbelieved.

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* "Philosophy of Magic," English translation, p. 47.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 116 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

Peace to thy scientific ashes, O credulous Eusebe Salverte! Who knows but before the close of the present century popular wisdom will have invented a new proverb: "As incredibly credulous as a scientist."

Why should it appear so impossible that when the spirit is once separated from its body, it may have the power to animate some evanescent form, created out of that magical "psychic" or "ectenic" or "ethereal" force, with the help of the elementaries who furnish it with the sublimated matter of their own bodies? The only difficulty is, to realize the fact that surrounding space is not an empty void, but a reservoir filled to repletion with the models of all things that ever were, that are, and that will be; and with beings of countless races, unlike our own. Seemingly supernatural facts — supernatural in that they openly contradict the demonstrated natural laws of gravitation, as in the above-mentioned instance of levitation — are recognized by many scientists. Every one who has dared to investigate with thoroughness has found himself compelled to admit their existence; only in their unsuccessful efforts to account for the phenomena on theories based on the laws of such forces as were already known, some of the highest representatives of science have involved themselves in inextricable difficulties!

In his Resume de Mirville describes the argumentation of these adversaries of spiritualism as consisting of five paradoxes, which he terms distractions.

First distraction: that of Faraday, who explains the table phenomenon, by the table which pushes you "in consequence of the resistance which pushes it back."

Second distraction: that of Babinet, explaining all the communications (by raps) which are produced, as he says, "in good faith and with perfect conscientiousness, correct in every way and sense — by ventriloquism," the use of which faculty implies of necessity — bad faith.

Third distraction: that of Dr. Chevreuil, explaining the faculty of moving furniture without contact, by the preliminary acquisition of that faculty.

Fourth distraction: that of the French Institute and its members, who consent to accept the miracles, on condition that the latter will not contradict in any way those natural laws with which they are acquainted.

Fifth distraction: that of M. de Gasparin, introducing as a very simple and perfectly elementary phenomenon that which every one rejects, precisely because no one ever saw the like of it.*

While the great, world-known scientists indulge in such fantastic theories, some less known neurologists find an explanation for occult phe-

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* De Mirville: "Des Esprits," p. 159.


nomena of every kind in an abnormal effluvium resulting from epilepsy.* Another would treat mediums — and poets, too, we may infer — with assafoetida and ammonia,** and declare every one of the believers in spiritual manifestations lunatics and hallucinated mystics.

To the latter lecturer and professed pathologist is commended that sensible bit of advice to be found in the New Testament: "Physician, heal thyself." Truly, no sane man would so sweepingly charge insanity upon four hundred and forty-six millions of people in various parts of the world, who believe in the intercourse of spirits with ourselves!

Considering all this, it remains to us but to wonder at the preposterous presumption of these men, who claim to be regarded by right of learning as the high priests of science, to classify a phenomenon they know nothing about. Surely, several millions of their countrymen and women, if deluded, deserve at least as much attention as potato-bugs or grasshoppers! But, instead of that, what do we find? The Congress of the United States, at the demand of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, enacts statutes for organization of National Insect Commissions; chemists are busying themselves in boiling frogs and bugs; geologists amuse their leisure by osteological surveys of armor-plated ganoids, and discuss the odontology of the various species of dinichtys; and entomologists suffer their enthusiasm to carry them to the length of supping on grasshoppers boiled, fried, and in soup.*** Meanwhile, millions of Americans are either losing themselves in the maze of "crazy delusions," according to the opinion of some of these very learned encyclopaedists, or perishing physically from "nervous disorders," brought on or brought out by mediumistic diathesis.

At one time, there was reason to hope that Russian scientists would have undertaken the task of giving the phenomena a careful and impartial study. A commission was appointed by the Imperial University of St. Petersburg, with Professor Mendeleyeff, the great physicist, at its head. The advertised programme provided for a series of forty seances to test mediums, and invitations were extended to all of this class who chose to come to the Russian capital and submit their powers to examination. As a rule they refused — doubtless from a prevision of the trap that had been laid for them. After eight sittings, upon a shallow pretext, and just when the manifestations were becoming interesting, the commission prejudged the case, and published a decision adverse to the claims of mediumism. Instead of pursuing dignified, scientific methods, they set spies to peep

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* See F. Gerry Fairfield's "Ten Years with Spiritual Mediums," New York, 1875.

** Marvin: "Lecture on Mediomania."

*** "Scientific American," N. Y., 1875.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 118 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

through the key-holes. Professor Mendeleyeff declared in a public lecture that spiritualism, or any such belief in our souls' immortality, was a mixture of superstition, delusion, and fraud; adding that every "manifestation" of such nature — including mind-reading, trance, and other psychological phenomena, we must suppose — could be, and was produced by means of clever apparatus and machinery concealed under the clothing of mediums!

After such a public exhibition of ignorance and prejudice, Mr. Butlerof, Professor of Chemistry at the St. Petersburg University, and Mr. Aksakof, Counsellor of State in the same city, who had been invited to assist on the committee for mediums, became so disgusted that they withdrew. Having published their protests in the Russian papers, they were supported by the majority of the press, who did not spare either Mendeleyeff or his officious committee with their sarcasms. The public acted fairly in that case. One hundred and thirty names, of the most influential persons of the best society of St. Petersburg, many of them no spiritualists at all, but simply investigators, added their signatures to the well-deserved protest.

The inevitable result of such a procedure followed; universal attention was drawn to the question of spiritualism; private circles were organized throughout the empire; some of the most liberal journals began to discuss the subject; and, as we write, a new commission is being organized to finish the interrupted task.

But now — as a matter of course — they will do their duty less than ever. They have a better pretext than they ever had in the pretended expose of the medium Slade, by Professor Lankester, of London. True, to the evidence of one scientist and his friend, — Messrs. Lankester and Donkin — the accused opposed the testimony of Wallace, Crookes, and a host of others, which totally nullifies an accusation based merely on circumstantial evidence and prejudice. As the London Spectator very pertinently observes:

"It is really a pure superstition and nothing else to assume that we are so fully acquainted with the laws of nature, that even carefully examined facts, attested by an experienced observer, ought to be cast aside as utterly unworthy of credit, only because they do not, at first sight, seem to be in keeping with what is most clearly known already. To assume, as Professor Lankester appears to do, that because there are fraud and credulity in plenty to be found in connection with these facts — as there is, no doubt, in connection with all nervous diseases — fraud and credulity will account for all the carefully attested statements of accurate and conscientious observers, is to saw away at the very branch of the tree of knowledge on which inductive science necessarily rests, and to bring the whole structure toppling to the ground."


But what matters all this to scientists? The torrent of superstition, which, according to them, sweeps away millions of bright intellects in its impetuous course, cannot reach them. The modern deluge called spiritualism is unable to affect their strong minds; and the muddy waves of the flood must expend their raging fury without wetting even the soles of their boots. Surely it must be but traditional stubbornness on the part of the Creator that prevents him from confessing what a poor chance his miracles have in our day in blinding professed scientists. By this time even He ought to know and take notice that long ago they decided to write on the porticoes of their universities and colleges:

Science commands that God shall not
Do miracles upon this spot! *

Both the infidel spiritualists and the orthodox Roman Catholics seem to have leagued themselves this year against the iconoclastic pretensions of materialism. Increase of skepticism has developed of late a like increase of credulity. The champions of the Bible "divine" miracles rival the panegyrist's mediumistic phenomena, and the middle ages revive in the nineteenth century. Once more we see the Virgin Mary resume her epistolary correspondence with the faithful children of her church; and while the "angel friends" scribble messages to spiritualists through their mediums, the "mother of God" drops letters direct from heaven to earth. The shrine of Notre Dame de Lourdes has turned into a spiritualistic cabinet for "materializations," while the cabinets of popular American mediums are transformed into sacred shrines, into which Mohammed, Bishop Polk, Joan of Arc and other aristocratic spirits from over the "dark river," having descended, "materialize" in full light. And if the Virgin Mary is seen taking her daily walk in the woods about Lourdes in full human form, why not the Apostle of Islam, and the late Bishop of Louisiana? Either both "miracles" are possible, or both kinds of these manifestations, the "divine" as well as the "spiritual," are arrant impostures. Time alone will prove which; but meanwhile, as science refuses the loan of her magic lamp to illuminate these mysteries, common people must go stumbling on whether they be mired or not.

The recent "miracles" at Lourdes having been unfavorably discussed in the London papers, Monsignor Capel communicates to the Times the views of the Roman Church in the following terms:

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

*"De par le Roi, defense a Dieu,
De faire miracle, en ces lieux."

A satire that was found written upon the walls of the cemetery at the time of the Jansenist miracles and their prohibition by the police of France.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 120 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

"As to the miraculous cures which are effected, I would refer your readers to the calm, judicious work, La Grotte de Lourdes, written by Dr. Dozous, an eminent resident practitioner, inspector of epidemic diseases for the district, and medical assistant of the Court of Justice. He prefaces a number of detailed cases of miraculous cures, which he says he has studied with great care and perseverance, with these words: 'I declare that these cures effected at the Sanctuary of Lourdes by means of the water of the fountain, have established their supernatural character in the eyes of men of good faith. I ought to confess that without these cures, my mind, little prone to listen to miraculous explanations of any kind, would have had great difficulty in accepting even this fact (the apparition), remarkable as it is from so many points of view. But the cures, of which I have been so often an ocular witness, have given to my mind a light which does not permit me to ignore the importance of the visits of Bernadette to the Grotto, and the reality of the apparitions with which she was favored.' The testimony of a distinguished medical man, who has carefully watched from the beginning Bernadette, and the miraculous cures at the Grotto, is at least worthy of respectful consideration. I may add, that the vast number of those who come to the Grotto do so to repent of their sins, to increase their piety, to pray for the regeneration of their country, to profess publicly their belief in the Son of God and his Immaculate Mother. Many come to be cured of bodily ailments; and on the testimony of eye-witnesses several return home freed from their sickness. To upbraid with non-belief, as does your article, those who use also the waters of the Pyrenees, is as reasonable as to charge with unbelief the magistrates who inflict punishment on the peculiar people for neglecting to have medical aid. Health obliged me to pass the winters of 1860 to 1867 at Pau. This gave me the opportunity of making the most minute inquiry into the apparition at Lourdes. After frequent and lengthened examinations of Bernadette and of some of the miracles effected, I am convinced that, if facts are to be received on human testimony, then has the apparition at Lourdes every claim to be received as an undeniable fact. It is, however, no part of the Catholic faith, and may be accepted or rejected by any Catholic without the least praise or condemnation."

Let the reader observe the sentence we have italicized. This makes it clear that the Catholic Church, despite her infallibility and her liberal postage convention with the Kingdom of Heaven, is content to accept even the validity of divine miracles upon human testimony. Now when we turn to the report of Mr. Huxley's recent New York lectures on evolution, we find him saying that it is upon "human historical evidence that we depend for the greater part of our knowledge for the doings of


the past." In a lecture on Biology, he has said " . . . every man who has the interest of truth at heart must earnestly desire that every well-founded and just criticism that can be made should be made; but it is essential . . . that the critic should know what he is talking about." An aphorism that its author should recall when he undertakes to pronounce upon psychological subjects. Add this to his views, as expressed above, and who could ask a better platform upon which to meet him?

Here we have a representative materialist, and a representative Catholic prelate, enunciating an identical view of the sufficiency of human testimony to prove facts that it suits the prejudices of each to believe. After this, what need for either the student of occultism, or even the spiritualist, to hunt about for endorsements of the argument they have so long and so persistently advanced, that the psychological phenomena of ancient and modern thaumaturgists being superabundantly proven upon human testimony must be accepted as facts? Church and College having appealed to the tribunal of human evidence, they cannot deny the rest of mankind an equal privilege. One of the fruits of the recent agitation in London of the subject of mediumistic phenomena, is the expression of some remarkably liberal views on the part of the secular press. "In any case, we are for admitting spiritualism to a place among tolerated beliefs, and letting it alone accordingly," says the London Daily News, in 1876. "It has many votaries who are as intelligent as most of us, and to whom any obvious and palpable defect in the evidence meant to convince must have been obvious and palpable long ago. Some of the wisest men in the world believed in ghosts, and would have continued to do so even though half-a-dozen persons in succession had been convicted of frightening people with sham goblins."

It is not for the first time in the history of the world, that the invisible world has to contend against the materialistic skepticism of soul-blind Sadducees. Plato deplores such an unbelief, and refers to this pernicious tendency more than once in his works.

From Kapila, the Hindu philosopher, who many centuries before Christ demurred to the claim of the mystic Yogins, that in ecstasy a man has the power of seeing Deity face to face and conversing with the "highest" beings, down to the Voltaireans of the eighteenth century, who laughed at everything that was held sacred by other people, each age had its unbelieving Thomases. Did they ever succeed in checking the progress of truth? No more than the ignorant bigots who sat in judgment over Galileo checked the progress of the earth's rotation. No exposures whatever are able to vitally affect the stability or instability of a belief which humanity inherited from the first races of men, those, who — if we

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 122 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

can believe in the evolution of spiritual man as in that of the physical one — had the great truth from the lips of their ancestors, the gods of their fathers, "that were on the other side of the flood." The identity of the Bible with the legends of the Hindu sacred books and the cosmogonies of other nations, must be demonstrated at some future day. The fables of the mythopoeic ages will be found to have but allegorized the greatest truths of geology and anthropology. It is in these ridiculously expressed fables that science will have to look for her "missing links."

Otherwise, whence such strange "coincidences" in the respective histories of nations and peoples so widely thrown apart? Whence that identity of primitive conceptions which, fables and legends though they are termed now, contain in them nevertheless the kernel of historical facts, of a truth thickly overgrown with the husks of popular embellishment, but still a truth? Compare only this verse of Genesis vi.: "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. . . . There were giants in the earth in those days," etc., with this part of the Hindu cosmogony, in the Vedas, which speaks of the descent of the Brahmans. The first Brahman complains of being alone among all his brethren without a wife. Notwithstanding that the Eternal advises him to devote his days solely to the study of the Sacred Knowledge (Veda), the first-born of mankind insists. Provoked at such ingratitude, the eternal gave Brahman a wife of the race of the Daints, or giants, from whom all the Brahmans maternally descend. Thus the entire Hindu priesthood is descended, on the one hand, from the superior spirits (the sons of God), and from Daintany, a daughter of the earthly giants, the primitive men.* "And they bare children to them; the same became mighty men which were of old; men of renown."**

The same is found in the Scandinavian cosmogonical fragment. In the Edda is given the description to Gangler by Har, one of the three informants (Har, Jafuhar, and Tredi) of the first man, called Bur, "the father of Bor, who took for wife Besla, a daughter of the giant Bolthara, of the race of the primitive giants." The full and interesting narrative may be found in the Prose Edda, sects. 4-8, in Mallett's Northern Antiquities.**

The same groundwork underlies the Grecian fables about the Titans; and may be found in the legend of the Mexicans — the four successive races of Popol-Vuh. It constitutes one of the many ends to be found in

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* Polier: "Mythologie des Indous."

** Genesis vi., 4.

*** Mallett: "Northern Antiquities," Bohn's edition, pp. 401-405.


the entangled and seemingly inextricable skein of mankind, viewed as a psychological phenomenon. Belief in supernaturalism would be otherwise inexplicable. To say that it sprang up, and grew and developed throughout the countless ages, without either cause or the least firm basis to rest upon, but merely as an empty fancy, would be to utter as great an absurdity as the theological doctrine that the universe sprang into creation out of nothing.

It is too late now to kick against an evidence which manifests itself as in the full glare of noon. Liberal, as well as Christian papers, and the organs of the most advanced scientific authorities, begin to protest unanimously against the dogmatism and narrow prejudices of sciolism. The Christian World, a religious paper, adds its voice to that of the unbelieving London press. Following is a good specimen of its common sense:

"If a medium," it says,* "can be shown ever so conclusively to be an impostor, we shall still object to the disposition manifested by persons of some authority in scientific matters, to pooh-pooh and knock on the head all careful inquiry into those subjects of which Mr. Barrett took note in his paper before the British Association. Because spiritualists have committed themselves to many absurdities, that is no reason why the phenomena to which they appeal should be scouted as unworthy of examination. They may be mesmeric, or clairvoyant, or something else. But let our wise men tell us what they are, and not snub us, as ignorant people too often snub inquiring youth, by the easy but unsatisfactory apothegm, 'Little children should not ask questions.' "

Thus the time has come when the scientists have lost all right to be addressed with the Miltonian verse, "O thou who, for the testimony of truth, hast borne universal reproach!" Sad degeneration, and one that recalls the exclamation of that "doctor of physic" mentioned one hundred and eighty years ago by Dr. Henry More, and who, upon hearing the story told of the drummer of Tedworth and of Ann Walker, "cryed out presently, If this be true, I have been in a wrong box all this time, and must begin my account anew."**

But in our century, notwithstanding Huxley's endorsement of the value of "human testimony," even Dr. Henry More has become "an enthusiast and a visionary, both of which, united in the same person, constitute a canting madman."***

[[Footnote(s)]] -------------------------------------------------

* In the "Quarterly Review" of 1859, Graham gives a strange account of many now deserted Oriental cities, in which the stone doors are of enormous dimensions, often seemingly out of proportion with the buildings themselves, and remarks that dwellings and doors bear all of them the impress of an ancient race of giants.

** Dr. More: "Letter to Glanvil, author of 'Saducismus Triumphatus.' "

*** J. S. Y.: "Demonologia, or Natural Knowledge Revealed," 1827, p. 219.

[[Vol. 1, Page]] 124 THE VEIL OF ISIS.

What psychology has long lacked to make its mysterious laws better understood and applied to the ordinary as well as extraordinary affairs of life, is not facts. These it has had in abundance. The need has been for their recording and classification — for trained observers and competent analysts. From the scientific body these ought to have been supplied. If error has prevailed and superstition run riot these many centuries throughout Christendom, it is the misfortune of the common people, the reproach of science. The generations have come and gone, each furnishing its quota of martyrs to conscience and moral courage, and psychology is little better understood in our day than it was when the heavy hand of the Vatican sent those brave unfortunates to their untimely doom, and branded their memories with the stigma of heresy and sorcery.

Chapter 5