Isis Unveiled by H. P. Blavatsky — Vol. 1
Theosophical University Press Online Edition
"Hermes, who is of my ordinances ever the bearer . . .
Then taking his staff, with which he the eyelids of mortals
Closes at will, and the sleeper, at will, reawakens." — Odyssey, Book V.
"I saw the Samothracian rings
Leap, and steel-filings boil in a brass dish
So soon as underneath it there was placed
The magnet-stone; and with wild terror seemed
The iron to flee from it in stern hate. . . ." — Lucretius, Book VI.
"But that which especially distinguishes the Brotherhood is their marvellous knowledge of the resources of the medical art. They work not by charms but by simples." — (MS. Account of the Origin and Attributes of the True Rosicrucians.)
ONE of the truest things ever said by a man of science is the remark made by Professor Cooke in his New Chemistry. "The history of Science shows that the age must be prepared before scientific truths can take root and grow. The barren premonitions of science have been barren because these seeds of truth fell upon unfruitful soil; and, as soon as the fulness of the time has come, the seed has taken root and the fruit has ripened . . . every student is surprised to find how very little is the share of new truth which even the greatest genius has added to the previous stock."
The revolution through which chemistry has recently passed, is well calculated to concentrate the attention of chemists upon this fact; and it would not be strange, if, in less time than it has required to effect it, the claims of the alchemists would be examined with impartiality, and studied from a rational point of view. To bridge over the narrow gulf which now separates the new chemistry from old alchemy, is little, if any harder than what they have done in going from dualism to the law of Avogadro.
As Ampere served to introduce Avogadro to our contemporary chemists, so Reichenbach will perhaps one day be found to have paved the way with his OD for the just appreciation of Paracelsus. It was more than fifty years before molecules were accepted as units of chemical calculations; it may require less than half that time to cause the superlative merits of the Swiss mystic to be acknowledged. The warning paragraph about healing mediums,* which will be found elsewhere, might have
* From a London Spiritualist journal.
been written by one who had read his works. "You must understand," he says, "that the magnet is that spirit of life in man which the infected seeks, as both unite themselves with chaos from without. And thus the healthy are infected by the unhealthy through magnetic attraction."
The primal causes of the diseases afflicting mankind; the secret relations between physiology and psychology, vainly tortured by men of modern science for some clew to base their speculations upon; the specifics and remedies for every ailment of the human body — all are described and accounted for in his voluminous works. Electro-magnetism, the so-called discovery of Professor Oersted, had been used by Paracelsus three centuries before. This may be demonstrated by examining critically his mode of curing disease. Upon his achievements in chemistry there is no need to enlarge, for it is admitted by fair and unprejudiced writers that he was one of the greatest chemists of his time.* Brierre de Boismont terms him a "genius" and agrees with Deleuze that he created a new epoch in the history of medicine. The secret of his successful and, as they were called, magic cures lies in his sovereign contempt for the so-called learned "authorities" of his age. "Seeking for truth," says Paracelsus, "I considered with myself that if there were no teachers of medicine in this world, how would I set to learn the art? No otherwise than in the great open book of nature, written with the finger of God. . . . I am accused and denounced for not having entered in at the right door of art. But which is the right one? Galen, Avicenna, Mesue, Rhasis, or honest nature? I believe, the last! Through this door I entered, and the light of nature, and no apothecary's lamp directed me on my way."
This utter scorn for established laws and scientific formulas, this aspiration of mortal clay to commingle with the spirit of nature, and look to it alone for health, and help, and the light of truth, was the cause of the inveterate hatred shown by the contemporary pigmies to the fire-philosopher and alchemist. No wonder that he was accused of charlatanry and even drunkenness. Of the latter charge, Hemmann boldly and fearlessly exonerates him, and proves that the foul accusation proceeded from "Oporinus, who lived with him some time in order to learn his secrets, but his object was defeated; hence, the evil reports of his disciples and apothecaries." He was the founder of the School of Animal Magnetism and the discoverer of the occult properties of the magnet. He was branded by his age as a sorcerer, because the cures he made were marvellous. Three centuries later, Baron Du Potet was also accused of sorcery and demonolatry by the Church of Rome, and of charlatanry by the
* Hemmann: "Medico-Surgical Essays," Berl., 1778.
academicians of Europe. As the fire-philosophers say, it is not the chemist who will condescend to look upon the "living fire" otherwise than his colleagues do. "Thou hast forgotten what thy fathers taught thee about it — or rather, thou hast never known . . . it is too loud for thee!"*
A work upon magico-spiritual philosophy and occult science would be incomplete without a particular notice of the history of animal magnetism, as it stands since Paracelsus staggered with it the schoolmen of the latter half of the sixteenth century.
We will observe briefly its appearance in Paris when imported from Germany by Anton Mesmer. Let us peruse with care and caution the old papers now mouldering in the Academy of Sciences of that capital, for there we will find that, after having rejected in its turn every discovery that was ever made since Galileo, the Immortals capped the climax by turning their backs upon magnetism and mesmerism. They voluntarily shut the doors before themselves, the doors which led to those greatest mysteries of nature, which lie hid in the dark regions of the psychical as well as the physical world. The great universal solvent, the Alkahest, was within their reach — they passed it by; and now, after nearly a hundred years have elapsed, we read the following confession:
"Still it is true that, beyond the limits of direct observation, our science (chemistry) is not infallible, and our theories and systems, although they may all contain a kernel of truth, undergo frequent changes, and are often revolutionized."**
To assert so dogmatically that mesmerism and animal magnetism are but hallucinations, implies that it can be proved. But where are these proofs, which alone ought to have authority in science? Thousands of times the chance was given to the academicians to assure themselves of its truth; but, they have invariably declined. Vainly do mesmerists and healers invoke the testimony of the deaf, the lame, the diseased, the dying, who were cured or restored to life by simple manipulations and the apostolic "laying on of hands." "Coincidence" is the usual reply, when the fact is too evident to be absolutely denied; "will-o'-the-wisp," "exaggeration," "quackery," are favorite expressions, with our but too numerous Thomases. Newton, the well-known American healer, has performed more instantaneous cures than many a famous physician of New York City has had patients in all his life; Jacob, the Zouave, has had a like success in France. Must we then consider the accumulated testimony of the last forty years upon this subject to be all illusion, confederacy with clever charlatans, and lunacy? Even to breathe
* Robert Fludd: "Treatise III."
** Prof. J. P. Cooke: "New Chemistry."
such a stupendous fallacy would be equivalent to a self-accusation of lunacy.
Notwithstanding the recent sentence of Leymarie, the scoffs of the skeptics and of a vast majority of physicians and scientists, the unpopularity of the subject, and, above all, the indefatigable persecutions of the Roman Catholic clergy, fighting in mesmerism woman's traditional enemy, so evident and unconquerable is the truth of its phenomena that even the French magistrature was forced tacitly, though very reluctantly, to admit the same. The famous clairvoyante, Madame Roger, was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses, in company with her mesmerist, Dr. Fortin. On May 18th, 1876, she was arraigned before the Tribunal Correctionnel of the Seine. Her witness was Baron Du Potet, the grand master of mesmerism in France for the last fifty years; her advocate, the no less famous Jules Favre. Truth for once triumphed — the accusation was abandoned. Was it the extraordinary eloquence of the orator, or bare facts incontrovertible and unimpeachable that won the day? But Leymarie, the editor of the Revue Spirite, had also facts in his favor; and, moreover, the evidence of over a hundred respectable witnesses, among whom were the first names of Europe. To this there is but one answer — the magistrates dared not question the facts of mesmerism. Spirit-photography, spirit-rapping, writing, moving, talking, and even spirit-materializations can be simulated; there is hardly a physical phenomenon now in Europe and America but could be imitated — with apparatus — by a clever juggler. The wonders of mesmerism and subjective phenomena alone defy tricksters, skepticism, stern science, and dishonest mediums; the cataleptic state it is impossible to feign. Spiritualists who are anxious to have their truths proclaimed and forced on science, cultivate the mesmeric phenomena. Place on the stage of Egyptian Hall a somnambulist plunged in a deep mesmeric sleep. Let her mesmerist send her freed spirit to all the places the public may suggest; test her clairvoyance and clairaudience; stick pins into any part of her body which the mesmerist may have made his passes over; thrust needles through the skin below her eyelids; burn her flesh and lacerate it with a sharp instrument. "Do not fear!" exclaim Regazzoni and Du Potet, Teste and Pierrard, Puysegur and Dolgorouky — "a mesmerized or entranced subject is never hurt!" And when all this is performed, invite any popular wizard of the day who thirsts for puffery, and is, or pretends to be, clever at mimicking every spiritual phenomenon, to submit his body to the same tests!*
* In the "Bulletin de l'Academie de Medecine," Paris, 1837, vol. i., p. 343 et seq., may be found the report of Dr. Oudet, who, to ascertain the state of insensibility [[Footnote continued on next page]]
The speech of Jules Favre is reported to have lasted an hour and a half, and to have held the judges and the public spellbound by its eloquence. We who have heard Jules Favre believe it most readily; only the statement embodied in the last sentence of his argument was unfortunately premature and erroneous at the same time. "We are in the presence of a phenomenon which science admits without attempting to explain. The public may smile at it, but our most illustrious physicians regard it with gravity. Justice can no longer ignore what science has acknowledged!"
Were this sweeping declaration based upon fact and had mesmerism been impartially investigated by many instead of a few true men of science, more desirous of questioning nature than mere expediency, the public would never smile. The public is a docile and pious child, and readily goes whither the nurse leads it. It chooses its idols and fetishes, and worships them in proportion to the noise they make; and then turns round with a timid look of adulation to see whether the nurse, old Mrs. Public Opinion, is satisfied.
Lactantius, the old Christian father, is said to have remarked that no skeptic in his days would have dared to maintain before a magician that the soul did not survive the body, but died together with it; "for he would refute them on the spot by calling up the souls of the dead, rendering them visible to human eyes, and making them foretell future events."* So with the magistrates and bench in Madame Roger's case. Baron Du Potet was there, and they were afraid to see him mesmerize the somnambulist, and so force them not only to believe in the phenomenon, but to acknowledge it — which was far worse.
And now to the doctrine of Paracelsus. His incomprehensible, though lively style must be read like the biblio-rolls of Ezekiel, "within and without." The peril of propounding heterodox theories was great in those days; the Church was powerful, and sorcerers were burnt by the dozens. For this reason, we find Paracelsus, Agrippa, and Eugenius Philalethes as notable for their pious declarations as they were famous for their achievements in alchemy and magic. The full views of Paracelsus on the occult properties of the magnet are explained partially in his famous book, Archidaxarum, in which he describes the wonderful tinct-
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] of a lady in a magnetic sleep, pricked her with pins, introducing a long pin in the flesh up to its head, and held one of her fingers for some seconds in the flame of a candle. A cancer was extracted from the right breast of a Madame Plaintain. The operation lasted twelve minutes; during the whole time the patient talked very quietly with her mesmerizer, and never felt the slightest sensation ("Bul. de l'Acad. de Med.," Tom. ii., p. 370).
* Prophecy, Ancient and Modern, by A. Wilder: "Phrenological Journal."
ure, a medicine extracted from the magnet and called Magisterium Magnetis, and partially in the De Ente Dei, and De Ente Astrorum, Lib. I. But the explanations are all given in a diction unintelligible to the profane. "Every peasant sees," said he, "that a magnet will attract iron, but a wise man must inquire for himself. . . . I have discovered that the magnet, besides this visible power, that of attracting iron, possesses another and concealed power."
He demonstrates further that in man lies hidden a "sidereal force," which is that emanation from the stars and celestial bodies of which the spiritual form of man — the astral spirit — is composed. This identity of essence, which we may term the spirit of cometary matter, always stands in direct relation with the stars from which it was drawn, and thus there exists a mutual attraction between the two, both being magnets. The identical composition of the earth and all other planetary bodies and man's terrestrial body was a fundamental idea in his philosophy. "The body comes from the elements, the [astral] spirit from the stars. . . . Man eats and drinks of the elements, for the sustenance of his blood and flesh; from the stars are the intellect and thoughts sustained in his spirit." The spectroscope has made good his theory as to the identical composition of man and stars; the physicists now lecture to their classes upon the magnetic attractions of the sun and planets.*
Of the substances known to compose the body of man, there have been discovered in the stars already, hydrogen, sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron. In all the stars observed, numbering many hundreds, hydrogen was found, except in two. Now, if we recollect how they have deprecated Paracelsus and his theory of man and the stars being composed of like substances; how ridiculed he was by astronomers and physicists, for his ideas of chemical affinity and attraction between the two; and then realize that the spectroscope has vindicated one of his assertions at least, is it so absurd to prophesy that in time all the rest of his theories will be substantiated?
And now, a very natural question is suggested. How did Paracelsus come to learn anything of the composition of the stars, when, till a very recent period — till the discovery of the spectroscope in fact — the constituents of the heavenly bodies were utterly unknown to our learned acade-
* The theory that the sun is an incandescent globe is — as one of the magazines recently expressed it — "going out of fashion." It has been computed that if the sun — whose mass and diameter is known to us — "were a solid block of coal, and sufficient amount of oxygen could be supplied to burn at the rate necessary to produce the effects we see, it would be completely consumed in less than 5,000 years." And yet, till comparatively a few weeks ago, it was maintained — nay, is still maintained, that the sun is a reservoir of vaporized metals!
mies? And even now, notwithstanding tele-spectroscope and other very important modern improvements, except a few elements and a hypothetical chromosphere, everything is yet a mystery for them in the stars. Could Paracelsus have been so sure of the nature of the starry host, unless he had means of which science knows nothing? Yet knowing nothing she will not even hear pronounced the very names of these means, which are — hermetic philosophy and alchemy.
We must bear in mind, moreover, that Paracelsus was the discoverer of hydrogen, and knew well all its properties and composition long before any of the orthodox academicians ever thought of it; that he had studied astrology and astronomy, as all the fire-philosophers did; and that, if he did assert that man is in a direct affinity with the stars, he knew well what he asserted.
The next point for the physiologists to verify is his proposition that the nourishment of the body comes not merely through the stomach, "but also imperceptibly through the magnetic force, which resides in all nature and by which every individual member draws its specific nourishment to itself." Man, he further says, draws not only health from the elements when in equilibrium, but also disease when they are disturbed. Living bodies are subject to the laws of attraction and chemical affinity, as science admits; the most remarkable physical property of organic tissues, according to physiologists, is the property of imbibition. What more natural, then, than this theory of Paracelsus, that this absorbent, attractive, and chemical body of ours gathers into itself the astral or sidereal influences? "The sun and the stars attract from us to themselves, and we again from them to us." What objection can science offer to this? What it is that we give off, is shown in Baron Reichenbach's discovery of the odic emanations of man, which are identical with flames from magnets, crystals, and in fact from all vegetable organisms.
The unity of the universe was asserted by Paracelsus, who says that "the human body is possessed of primeval stuff" (or cosmic matter); the spectroscope has proved the assertion by showing that the same chemical elements which exist upon earth and in the sun, are also found in all the stars. The spectroscope does more: it shows that all the stars are suns, similar in constitution to our own;* and as we are told by Professor Mayer,** that the magnetic condition of the earth changes with every variation upon the sun's surface, and is said to be "in subjection
* See Youmans: "Chemistry on the Basis of the New System — Spectrum Analysis."
** Professor of Physics in the Stevens Institute of Technology. See his "The Earth a Great Magnet," — a lecture delivered before the Yale Scientific Club, 1872. See, also, Prof. Balfour Stewart's lecture on "The Sun and the Earth."
to emanations from the sun," the stars being suns must also give off emanations which affect us in proportionate degrees.
"In our dreams," says Paracelsus, "we are like the plants, which have also the elementary and vital body, but possess not the spirit. In our sleep the astral body is free and can, by the elasticity of its nature, either hover round in proximity with its sleeping vehicle, or soar higher to hold converse with its starry parents, or even communicate with its brothers at great distances. Dreams of a prophetic character, prescience, and present wants, are the faculties of the astral spirit. To our elementary and grosser body, these gifts are not imparted, for at death it descends into the bosom of the earth and is reunited to the physical elements, while the several spirits return to the stars. The animals," he adds, "have also their presentiments, for they too have an astral body."
Van Helmont, who was a disciple of Paracelsus, says much the same, though his theories on magnetism are more largely developed, and still more carefully elaborated. The Magnale Magnum, the means by which the secret magnetic property "enables one person to affect another mutually, is attributed by him to that universal sympathy which exists between all things in nature. The cause produces the effect, the effect refers itself back to the cause, and both are reciprocated. "Magnetism," he says, "is an unknown property of a heavenly nature; very much resembling the stars, and not at all impeded by any boundaries of space or time. . . . Every created being possesses his own celestial power and is closely allied with heaven. This magic power of man, which thus can operate externally, lies, as it were, hidden in the inner man. This magical wisdom and strength thus sleeps, but, by a mere suggestion is roused into activity, and becomes more living, the more the outer man of flesh and the darkness is repressed . . . and this, I say, the kabalistic art effects; it brings back to the soul that magical yet natural strength which like a startled sleep had left it."*
Both Van Helmont and Paracelsus agree as to the great potency of the will in the state of ecstasy; they say that "the spirit is everywhere diffused; and the spirit is the medium of magnetism"; that pure primeval magic does not consist in superstitious practices and vain ceremonies but in the imperial will of man. "It is not the spirits of heaven and of hell which are the masters over physical nature, but the soul and spirit of man which are concealed in him as the fire is concealed in the flint."
The theory of the sidereal influence on man was enunciated by all the mediaeval philosophers. "The stars consist equally of the elements
* "De Magnetica Vulner Curatione," p. 722, 1. c.
of earthly bodies," says Cornelius Agrippa, "and therefore the ideas attract each other. . . . Influences only go forth through the help of the spirit; but this spirit is diffused through the whole universe and is in full accord with the human spirits. The magician who would acquire supernatural powers must possess faith, love, and hope. . . . In all things there is a secret power concealed, and thence come the miraculous powers of magic."
The modern theory of General Pleasonton* singularly coincides with the views of the fire-philosophers. His view of the positive and negative electricities of man and woman, and the mutual attraction and repulsion of everything in nature seems to be copied from that of Robert Fludd, the Grand Master of the Rosicrucians of England. "When two men approach each other," says the fire-philosopher, "their magnetism is either passive or active; that is, positive or negative. If the emanations which they send out are broken or thrown back, there arises antipathy. But when the emanations pass through each other from both sides, then there is positive magnetism, for the rays proceed from the centre to the circumference. In this case they not only affect sicknesses but also moral sentiments. This magnetism or sympathy is found not only among animals but also in plants and in minerals."**
And now we will notice how, when Mesmer had imported into France his "baquet" and system based entirely on the philosophy and doctrines of the Paracelsites — the great psychological and physiological discovery was treated by the physicians. It will demonstrate how much ignorance, superficiality, and prejudice can be displayed by a scientific body, when the subject clashes with their own cherished theories. It is the more important because, to the neglect of the committee of the French Academy of 1784 is probably due the present materialistic drift of the public mind; and certainly the gaps in the atomic philosophy which we have seen its most devoted teachers confessing to exist. The committee of 1784 comprised men of such eminence as Borie, Sallin, d'Arcet, and the famous Guillotin, to whom were subsequently added, Franklin, Leroi, Bailly, De Borg and Lavoisier. Borie died shortly afterward and Magault succeeded him. There can be no doubt of two things, viz.: that the committee began their work under strong prejudices and only because peremptorily ordered to do it by the king; and that their manner of observing the delicate facts of mesmerism was injudicious and illiberal. Their report, drawn by Bailly, was intended to be a death-blow to the new science. It was spread ostentatiously throughout all the schools and ranks of society, arousing the bitterest feelings
* See "On the Influence of the Blue Ray."
** Ennemoser: "History of Magic."
among a large portion of the aristocracy and rich commercial class, who had patronized Mesmer and had been eye-witnesses of his cures. Ant. L. de Jussieu, an academician of the highest rank, who had thoroughly investigated the subject with the eminent court-physician, d'Eslon, published a counter-report drawn with minute exactness, in which he advocated the careful observation by the medical faculty of the therapeutic effects of the magnetic fluid and insisted upon the immediate publication of their discoveries and observations. His demand was met by the appearance of a great number of memoirs, polemical works, and dogmatical books developing new facts; and Thouret's works entitled Recherches et Doutes sur le Magnetisme Animal, displaying a vast erudition, stimulated research into the records of the past, and the magnetic phenomena of successive nations from the remotest antiquity were laid before the public.
The doctrine of Mesmer was simply a restatement of the doctrines of Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Santanelli, and Maxwell, the Scotchman; and he was even guilty of copying texts from the work of Bertrand, and enunciating them as his own principles.* In Professor Stewart's work,** the author regards our universe as composed of atoms with some sort of medium between them as the machine, and the laws of energy as the laws working this machine. Professor Youmans calls this "a modern doctrine," but we find among the twenty-seven propositions laid down by Mesmer, in 1775, just one century earlier, in his Letter to a Foreign Physician, the following:
1st. There exists a mutual influence between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and living bodies.
2d. A fluid, universally diffused and continued, so as to admit no vacuum, whose subtility is beyond all comparison, and which, from its nature, is capable of receiving, propagating, and communicating all the impressions of motion, is the medium of this influence.
It would appear from this, that the theory is not so modern after all. Professor Balfour Stewart says, "We may regard the universe in the light of a vast physical machine." And Mesmer:
3d. This reciprocal action is subject to mechanical laws, unknown up to the present time.
Professor Mayer, reaffirming Gilbert's doctrine that the earth is a great magnet, remarks that the mysterious variations in the intensity of its force seem to be in subjection to emanations from the sun, "changing with the apparent daily and yearly revolutions of that orb, and pulsating
* "Du Magnetisme Animal, en France." Paris, 1826.
** "The Conservation of Energy." N. Y., 1875.
in sympathy with the huge waves of fire which sweep over its surface." He speaks of "the constant fluctuation, the ebb and flow of the earth's directive influence." And Mesmer:
4th. "From this action result alternate effects which may be considered a flux and reflux."
6th. It is by this operation (the most universal of those presented to us by nature) that the relations of activity occur between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and its constituent parts.
There are two more which will be interesting reading to our modern scientists:
7th. The properties of matter, and of organized body, depend on this operation.
8th. The animal body experiences the alternate effects of this agent; and it is by insinuating itself into the substance of the nerves, that it immediately affects them.
Among other important works which appeared between 1798 and 1824, when the French Academy appointed its second commission to investigate mesmerism, the Annales du Magnetisme Animal, by the Baron d'Henin de Cuvillier, Lieutenant-General, Chevalier of St. Louis, member of the Academy of Sciences, and correspondent of many of the learned societies of Europe, may be consulted with great advantage. In 1820 the Prussian government instructed the Academy of Berlin to offer a prize of three hundred ducats in gold for the best thesis on mesmerism. The Royal Scientific Society of Paris, under the presidency of His Royal Highness the Duc d'Angouleme, offered a gold medal for the same purpose. The Marquis de la Place, peer of France, one of the Forty of the Academy of Sciences, and honorary member of the learned societies of all the principal European governments, issued a work entitled Essai Philosophique sur les Probabilites, in which this eminent scientist says: "Of all the instruments that we can employ to know the imperceptible agents of nature, the most sensitive are the nerves, especially when exceptional influences increase their sensibility. . . . The singular phenomena which result from this extreme nervous sensitiveness of certain individuals, have given birth to diverse opinions as to the existence of a new agent, which has been named animal magnetism. . . . We are so far from knowing all the agents of nature and their various modes of action that it would be hardly philosophical to deny the phenomena, simply because they are inexplicable, in the actual state of our information. It is simply our duty to examine them with an attention as much more scrupulous as it seems difficult to admit them."
The experiments of Mesmer were vastly improved upon by the Marquis de Puysegur, who entirely dispensed with apparatus and produced
remarkable cures among the tenants of his estate at Busancy. These being given to the public, many other educated men experimented with like success, and in 1825 M. Foissac proposed to the Academy of Medicine to institute a new inquiry. A special committee, consisting of Adelon, Parisey, Marc, Burdin, Sen., with Husson as reporter, united in a recommendation that the suggestion should be adopted. They make the manly avowal that "in science no decision whatever is absolute and irrevocable," and afford us the means to estimate the value which should be attached to the conclusions of the Franklin committee of 1784, by saying that "the experiments on which this judgment was founded appeared to have been conducted without the simultaneous and necessary assembling together of all the commissioners, and also with moral predispositions, which, according to the principles of the fact which they were appointed to examine, must cause their complete failure."
What they say concerning magnetism as a secret remedy, has been said many times by the most respected writers upon modern Spiritualism, namely: "It is the duty of the Academy to study it, to subject it to trials; finally, to take away the use and practice of it from persons quite strangers to the art, who abuse this means, and make it an object of lucre and speculation."
This report provoked long debates, but in May, 1826, the Academy appointed a commission which comprised the following illustrious names: Leroux, Bourdois de la Motte, Double, Magendie, Guersant, Husson, Thillaye, Marc, Itard, Fouquier, and Guenau de Mussy. They began their labors immediately, and continued them five years, communicating, through Monsieur Husson, to the Academy the results of their observations. The report embraces accounts of phenomena classified under thirty-four different paragraphs, but as this work is not specially devoted to the science of magnetism, we must be content with a few brief extracts. They assert that neither contact of the hands, frictions, nor passes are invariably needed, since, on several occasions, the will, fixedness of stare, have sufficed to produce magnetic phenomena, even without the knowledge of the magnetized. "Well-attested and therapeutical phenomena" depend on magnetism alone, and are not reproduced without it. The state of somnambulism exists and "occasions the development of new faculties, which have received the denominations of clairvoyance, intuition, internal prevision." Sleep (the magnetic) has "been excited under circumstances where those magnetized could not see, and were entirely ignorant of the means employed to occasion it. The magnetizer, having once controlled his subject, may "put him completely into somnambulism, take him out of it without his knowledge, out of his sight, at a certain distance, and through closed doors." The external senses of the sleeper
seem to be completely paralyzed, and a duplicate set to be brought into action. "Most of the time they are entirely strangers to the external and unexpected noise made in their ears, such as the sound of copper vessels, forcibly struck, the fall of any heavy substance, and so forth. . . . One may make them respire hydrochloric acid or ammonia without inconveniencing them by it, or without even a suspicion on their part." The committee could "tickle their feet, nostrils, and the angles of the eyes by the approach of a feather, pinch their skin so as to produce ecchymosis, prick it under the nails with pins plunged to a considerable depth, without the evincing of any pain, or by sign of being at all aware of it. In a word, we have seen one person who was insensible to one of the most painful operations of surgery, and whose countenance, pulse, or respiration did not manifest the slightest emotion."
So much for the external senses; now let us see what they have to say about the internal ones, which may fairly be considered as proving a marked difference between man and a mutton-protoplasm. "Whilst they are in this state of somnambulism," say the committee, "the magnetized persons we have observed, retain the exercise of the faculties which they have whilst awake. Their memory even appears to be more faithful and more extensive. . . . We have seen two somnambulists distinguish, width their eyes shut, the objects placed before them; they have told, without touching them, the color and value of the cards; they have read words traced with the hand, or some lines of books opened by mere chance. This phenomenon took place, even when the opening of the eyelids was accurately closed, by means of the fingers. We met, in two somnambulists, the power of foreseeing acts more or less complicated of the organism. One of them announced several days, nay, several months beforehand, the day, the hour, and the minute when epileptic fits would come on and return; the other declared the time of the cure. Their previsions were realized with remarkable exactness."
The commission say that "it has collected and communicated facts sufficiently important to induce it to think that the Academy should encourage the researches on magnetism as a very curious branch of psychology and natural history." The committee conclude by saying that the facts are so extraordinary that they scarcely imagine that the Academy will concede their reality, but protest that they have been throughout animated by motives of a lofty character, "the love of science and by the necessity of justifying the hopes which the Academy had entertained of our zeal and our devotion."
Their fears were fully justified by the conduct of at least one member of their own number, who had absented himself from the experiments, and, as M. Husson tells us, "did not deem it right to sign the report."
This was Magendie, the physiologist, who, despite the fact stated by the official report that he had not "been present at the experiments," did not hesitate to devote four pages of his famous work on Human Physiology to the subject of mesmerism, and after summarizing its alleged phenomena, without endorsing them as unreservedly as the erudition and scientific acquirements of his fellow committee-men would seem to have exacted, says: "Self-respect and the dignity of the profession demand circumspection on these points. He [the well-informed physician] will remember how readily mystery glides into charlatanry, and how apt the profession is to become degraded even by its semblance when countenanced by respectable practitioners." No word in the context lets his readers into the secret that he had been duly appointed by the Academy to serve on the commission of 1826; had absented himself from its sittings; had so failed to learn the truth about mesmeric phenomena, and was now pronouncing judgment ex parte. "Self-respect and the dignity of the profession" probably exacted silence!
Thirty-eight years later, an English scientist, whose specialty is the investigation of physics, and whose reputation is even greater than that of Magendie, stooped to as unfair a course of conduct. When the opportunity offered to investigate the spiritualistic phenomena, and aid in taking it out of the hands of ignorant or dishonest investigators, Professor John Tyndall avoided the subject; but in his Fragments of Science, he was guilty of the ungentlemanly expressions which we have quoted in another place.
But we are wrong; he made one attempt, and that sufficed. He tells us, in the Fragments, that he once got under a table, to see how the raps were made, and arose with a despair for humanity, such as he never felt before! Israel Putnam, crawling on hand and knee to kill the she-wolf in her den, partially affords a parallel by which to estimate the chemist's courage in groping in the dark after the ugly truth; but Putnam killed his wolf, and Tyndall was devoured by his! "Sub mensa desperatio" should be the motto on his shield.
Speaking of the report of the committee of 1824, Dr. Alphonse Teste, a distinguished contemporaneous scientist, says that it produced a great impression on the Academy, but few convictions: "No one could question the veracity of the commissioners, whose good faith as well as great knowledge were undeniable, but they were suspected of having been dupes. In fact, there are certain unfortunate truths which compromise those who believe in them, and those especially who are so candid as to avow them publicly." How true this is, let the records of history, from the earliest times to this very day, attest. When Professor Robert Hare announced the preliminary results of his spiritualistic investigations, he,
albeit one of the most eminent chemists and physicists in the world, was, nevertheless, regarded as a dupe. When he proved that he was not, he was charged with having fallen into dotage; the Harvard professors denouncing "his insane adherence to the gigantic humbug."
When the professor began his investigations in 1853, he announced that he "felt called upon, as an act of duty to his fellow-creatures, to bring whatever influence he possessed to the attempt to stem the tide of popular madness, which, in defiance of reason and science, was fast setting in favor of the gross delusion called Spiritualism." Though, according to his declaration, he "entirely coincided with Faraday's theory of table-turning," he had the true greatness which characterizes the princes of science to make his investigation thorough, and then tell the truth. How he was rewarded by his life-long associates, let his own words tell. In an address delivered in New York, in September, 1854, he says that "he had been engaged in scientific pursuits for upwards of half a century, and his accuracy and precision had never been questioned, until he had become a spiritualist; while his integrity as a man had never in his life been assailed, until the Harvard professors fulminated their report against that which he knew to be true, and which they did not know to be false."
How much mournful pathos is expressed in these few words! An old man of seventy-six — a scientist of half a century, deserted for telling the truth! And now Mr. A. R. Wallace, who had previously been esteemed among the most illustrious of British scientists, having proclaimed his belief in spiritualism and mesmerism, is spoken of in terms of compassion. Professor Nicholas Wagner, of St. Petersburg, whose reputation as a zoologist is one of the most conspicuous, in his turn pays the penalty of his exceptional candor, in his outrageous treatment by the Russian scientists!
There are scientists and scientists and if the occult sciences suffer in the instance of modern spiritualism from the malice of one class, nevertheless, they have had their defenders at all times among men whose names have shed lustre upon science itself. In the first rank stands Isaac Newton, "the light of science," who was a thorough believer in magnetism, as taught by Paracelsus, Van Helmont, and by the fire-philosophers in general. No one will presume to deny that his doctrine of universal space and attraction is purely a theory of magnetism. If his own words mean anything at all, they mean that he based all his speculations upon the "soul of the world," the great universal, magnetic agent, which he called the divine sensorium.* "Here," he says, "the
* "Fundamental Principles of Natural Philosophy."
question is of a very subtile spirit which penetrates through all, even the hardest bodies, and which is concealed in their substance. Through the strength and activity of this spirit, bodies attract each other, and adhere together when brought into contact. Through it, electrical bodies operate at the remotest distance, as well as near at hand, attracting and repelling; through this spirit the light also flows, and is refracted and reflected, and warms bodies. All senses are excited by this spirit, and through it the animals move their limbs. But these things cannot be explained in few words, and we have not yet sufficient experience to determine fully the laws by which this universal spirit operates."
There are two kinds of magnetization; the first is purely animal, the other transcendent, and depending on the will and knowledge of the mesmerizer, as well as on the degree of spirituality of the subject, and his capacity to receive the impressions of the astral light. But now it is next to ascertain that clairvoyance depends a great deal more on the former than on the latter. To the power of an adept, like Du Potet, the most positive subject will have to submit. If his sight is ably directed by the mesmerizer, magician, or spirit, the light must yield up its most secret records to our scrutiny; for, if it is a book which is ever closed to those "who see and do not perceive," on the other hand it is ever opened for one who wills to see it opened. It keeps an unmutilated record of all that was, that is, or ever will be. The minutest acts of our lives are imprinted on it, and even our thoughts rest photographed on its eternal tablets. It is the book which we see opened by the angel in the Revelation, "which is the Book of life, and out of which the dead are judged according to their works." It is, in short, the MEMORY of GOD!
"The oracles assert that the impression of thoughts, characters, men, and other divine visions, appear in the aether. . . . In this the things without figure are figured," says an ancient fragment of the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster.*
Thus, ancient as well as modern wisdom, vaticination and science, agree in corroborating the claims of the kabalists. It is on the indestructible tablets of the astral light that is stamped the impression of every thought we think, and every act we perform; and that future events — effects of long-forgotten causes — are already delineated as a vivid picture for the eye of the seer and prophet to follow. Memory — the despair of the materialist, the enigma of the psychologist, the sphinx of science — is to the student of old philosophies merely a name to express that power which man unconsciously exerts, and shares with
* "Simpl. in Phys.," 143; "The Chaldean Oracles," Cory.
many of the inferior animals — to look with inner sight into the astral light, and there behold the images of past sensations and incidents. Instead of searching the cerebral ganglia for "micrographs of the living and the dead, of scenes that we have visited, of incidents in which we have borne a part,"* they went to the vast repository where the records of every man's life as well as every pulsation of the visible cosmos are stored up for all Eternity!
That flash of memory which is traditionally supposed to show a drowning man every long-forgotten scene of his mortal life — as the landscape is revealed to the traveller by intermittent flashes of lightning — is simply the sudden glimpse which the struggling soul gets into the silent galleries where his history is depicted in imperishable colors.
The well-known fact — one corroborated by the personal experience of nine persons out of ten — that we often recognize as familiar to us, scenes, and landscapes, and conversations, which we see or hear for the first time, and sometimes in countries never visited before, is a result of the same causes. Believers in reincarnation adduce this as an additional proof of our antecedent existence in other bodies. This recognition of men, countries, and things that we have never seen, is attributed by them to flashes of soul-memory of anterior experiences. But the men of old, in common with mediaeval philosophers, firmly held to a contrary opinion.
They affirmed that though this psychological phenomenon was one of the greatest arguments in favor of immortality and the soul's preexistence, yet the latter being endowed with an individual memory apart from that of our physical brain, it is no proof of reincarnation. As Eliphas Levi beautifully expresses it, "nature shuts the door after everything that passes, and pushes life onward" in more perfected forms. The chrysalis becomes a butterfly; the latter can never become again a grub. In the stillness of the night-hours, when our bodily senses are fast locked in the fetters of sleep, and our elementary body rests, the astral form becomes free. It then oozes out of its earthly prison, and as Paracelsus has it — "confabulates with the outward world," and travels round the visible as well as the invisible worlds. "In sleep," he says, "the astral body (soul) is in freer motion; then it soars to its parents, and holds converse with the stars." Dreams, forebodings, prescience, prognostications and presentiments are impressions left by our astral spirit on our brain, which receives them more or less distinctly, according to the proportion of blood with which it is supplied during the hours of sleep. The more the body is exhausted, the freer is the spiritual man, and the more vivid the impressions of our soul's memory. In heavy and robust sleep, dream-
* Draper: "Conflict between Religion and Science."
less and uninterrupted, upon awakening to outward consciousness, men may sometimes remember nothing. But the impressions of scenes and landscapes which the astral body saw in its peregrinations are still there, though lying latent under the pressure of matter. They may be awakened at any moment, and then, during such flashes of man's inner memory, there is an instantaneous interchange of energies between the visible and the invisible universes. Between the "micrographs" of the cerebral ganglia and the photo-scenographic galleries of the astral light, a current is established. And a man who knows that he has never visited in body, nor seen the landscape and person that he recognizes may well assert that still has he seen and knows them, for the acquaintance was formed while travelling in "spirit." To this the physiologists can have but one objection. They will answer that in natural sleep — perfect and deep, "half of our nature which is volitional is in the condition of inertia"; hence unable to travel; the more so as the existence of any such individual astral body or soul is considered by them little else than a poetical myth. Blumenbach assures us that in the state of sleep, all intercourse between mind and body is suspended; an assertion which is denied by Dr. Richardson, F. R. S., who honestly reminds the German scientist that "the precise limits and connections of mind and body being unknown" it is more than should be said. This confession, added to those of the French physiologist, Fournie, and the still more recent one of Dr. Allchin, an eminent London physician, who frankly avowed, in an address to students, that "of all scientific pursuits which practically concern the community, there is none perhaps which rests upon so uncertain and insecure a basis as medicine," gives us a certain right to offset the hypotheses of ancient scientists against those of the modern ones.
No man, however gross and material he may be, can avoid leading a double existence; one in the visible universe, the other in the invisible. The life-principle which animates his physical frame is chiefly in the astral body; and while the more animal portions of him rest, the more spiritual ones know neither limits nor obstacles. We are perfectly aware that many learned, as well as the unlearned, will object to such a novel theory of the distribution of the life-principle. They would prefer remaining in blissful ignorance and go on confessing that no one knows or can pretend to tell whence and whither this mysterious agent appears and disappears, than to give one moment's attention to what they consider old and exploded theories. Some might object on the ground taken by theology, that dumb brutes have no immortal souls, and hence, can have no astral spirits; for theologians as well as laymen labor under the erroneous impression that soul and spirit are one and the same thing.
But if we study Plato and other philosophers of old, we may readily perceive that while the "irrational soul," by which Plato meant our astral body, or the more ethereal representation of ourselves, can have at best only a more or less prolonged continuity of existence beyond the grave; the divine spirit — wrongly termed soul, by the Church — is immortal by its very essence. (Any Hebrew scholar will readily appreciate the distinction who comprehends the difference between the two words ruah and nephesh.) If the life-principle is something apart from the astral spirit and in no way connected with it, why is it that the intensity of the clairvoyant powers depends so much on the bodily prostration of the subject? The deeper the trance, the less signs of life the body shows, the clearer become the spiritual perceptions, and the more powerful are the soul's visions. The soul, disburdened of the bodily senses, shows activity of power in a far greater degree of intensity than it can in a strong, healthy body. Brierre de Boismont gives repeated instances of this fact. The organs of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing are proved to become far acuter in a mesmerized subject deprived of the possibility of exercising them bodily, than while he uses them in his normal state.
Such facts alone, once proved, ought to stand as invincible demonstrations of the continuity of individual life, at least for a certain period after the body has been left by us, either by reason of its being worn out or by accident. But though during its brief sojourn on earth our soul may be assimilated to a light hidden under a bushel, it still shines more or less bright and attracts to itself the influences of kindred spirits; and when a thought of good or evil import is begotten in our brain, it draws to it impulses of like nature as irresistibly as the magnet attracts iron filings. This attraction is also proportionate to the intensity with which the thought-impulse makes itself felt in the ether; and so it will be understood how one man may impress himself upon his own epoch so forcibly, that the influence may be carried — through the ever-interchanging currents of energy between the two worlds, the visible and the invisible — from one succeeding age to another, until it affects a large portion of mankind.
How much the authors of the famous work entitled the Unseen Universe may have allowed themselves to think in this direction, it would be difficult to say; but that they have not told all they might will be inferred from the following language:
"Regard it as you please, there can be no doubt that the properties of the ether are of a much higher order in the arcana of nature than those of tangible matter. And, as even the high priests of science still find the latter far beyond their comprehension, except in numerous but minute
and often isolated particulars, it would not become us to speculate further. It is sufficient for our purpose to know from what the ether certainly does, that it is capable of vastly more than any has yet ventured to say."
One of the most interesting discoveries of modern times, is that of the faculty which enables a certain class of sensitive persons to receive from any object held in the hand or against the forehead impressions of the character or appearance of the individual, or any other object with which it has previously been in contact. Thus a manuscript, painting, article of clothing, or jewelry — no matter how ancient — conveys to the sensitive, a vivid picture of the writer, painter, or wearer; even though he lived in the days of Ptolemy or Enoch. Nay, more; a fragment of an ancient building will recall its history and even the scenes which transpired within or about it. A bit of ore will carry the soul-vision back to the time when it was in process of formation. This faculty is called by its discoverer — Professor J. R. Buchanan, of Louisville, Kentucky — psychometry. To him, the world is indebted for this most important addition to Psychological Sciences; and to him, perhaps, when skepticism is found felled to the ground by such accumulation of facts, posterity will have to elevate a statue. In announcing to the public his great discovery, Professor Buchanan, confining himself to the power of psychometry to delineate human character, says: "The mental and physiological influence imparted to writing appears to be imperishable, as the oldest specimens I have investigated gave their impressions with a distinctness and force, little impaired by time. Old manuscripts, requiring an antiquary to decipher their strange old penmanship, were easily interpreted by the psychometric power. . . . The property of retaining the impress of mind is not limited to writing. Drawings, paintings, everything upon which human contact, thought, and volition have been expended, may become linked with that thought and life, so as to recall them to the mind of another when in contact."
Without, perhaps, really knowing, at the early time of the grand discovery, the significance of his own prophetic words, the Professor adds: "This discovery, in its application to the arts and to history, will open a mine of interesting knowledge."*
The existence of this faculty was first experimentally demonstrated in 1841. It has since been verified by a thousand psychometers in different parts of the world. It proves that every occurrence in nature — no matter how minute or unimportant — leaves its indelible impress upon physical nature; and, as there has been no appreciable molecular dis-
* J. R. Buchanan, M.D.: "Outlines of Lectures on the Neurological System of Anthropology."
turbance, the only inference possible is, that these images have been produced by that invisible, universal force — Ether, or astral light.
In his charming work, entitled The Soul of Things, Professor Denton, the geologist,* enters at great length into a discussion of this subject. He gives a multitude of examples of the psychometrical power, which Mrs. Denton possesses in a marked degree. A fragment of Cicero's house, at Tusculum, enabled her to describe, without the slightest intimation as to the nature of the object placed on her forehead, not only the great orator's surroundings, but also the previous owner of the building, Cornelius Sulla Felix, or, as he is usually called, Sulla the Dictator. A fragment of marble from the ancient Christian Church of Smyrna, brought before her its congregation and officiating priests. Specimens from Nineveh, China, Jerusalem, Greece, Ararat, and other places all over the world brought up scenes in the life of various personages, whose ashes had been scattered thousands of years ago. In many cases Professor Denton verified the statements by reference to historical records. More than this, a bit of the skeleton, or a fragment of the tooth of some antediluvian animal, caused the seeress to perceive the creature as it was when alive, and even live for a few brief moments its life, and experience its sensations. Before the eager quest of the psychometer, the most hidden recesses of the domain of nature yield up their secrets; and the events of the most remote epochs rival in vividness of impression the flitting circumstances of yesterday.
Says the author, in the same work: "Not a leaf waves, not an insect crawls, not a ripple moves, but each motion is recorded by a thousand faithful scribes in infallible and indelible scripture. This is just as true of all past time. From the dawn of light upon this infant globe, when round its cradle the steamy curtains hung, to this moment, nature has been busy photographing everything. What a picture-gallery is hers!"
It appears to us the height of impossibility to imagine that scenes in ancient Thebes, or in some temple of prehistoric times should be photographed only upon the substance of certain atoms. The images of the events are imbedded in that all-permeating, universal, and ever-retaining medium, which the philosophers call the "Soul of the World," and Mr. Denton "the Soul of Things." The psychometer, by applying the fragment of a substance to his forehead, brings his inner-self into relations with the inner soul of the object he handles. It is now admitted that the universal aether pervades all things in nature, even the most solid. It is beginning to be admitted, also, that this preserves the images of all
* W. and Elizabeth M. F. Denton: "The Soul of Things; or Psychometric Researches and Discoveries." Boston, 1873.
things which transpire. When the psychometer examines his specimen, he is brought in contact with the current of the astral light, connected with that specimen, and which retains pictures of the events associated with its history. These, according to Denton, pass before his vision with the swiftness of light; scene after scene crowding upon each other so rapidly, that it is only by the supreme exercise of the will that he is able to hold any one in the field of vision long enough to describe it.
The psychometer is clairvoyant; that is, he sees with the inner eye. Unless his will-power is very strong, unless he has thoroughly trained himself to that particular phenomenon, and his knowledge of the capabilities of his sight are profound, his perceptions of places, persons, and events, must necessarily be very confused. But in the case of mesmerization, in which this same clairvoyant faculty is developed, the operator, whose will holds that of the subject under control, can force him to concentrate his attention upon a given picture long enough to observe all its minute details. Moreover, under the guidance of an experienced mesmerizer, the seer would excel the natural psychometer in having a prevision of future events, more distinct and clear than the latter. And to those who might object to the possibility of perceiving that which "yet is not," we may put the question: Why is it more impossible to see that which will be, than to bring back to sight that which is gone, and is no more? According to the kabalistic doctrine, the future exists in the astral light in embryo, as the present existed in embryo in the past. While man is free to act as he pleases, the manner in which he will act was foreknown from all time; not on the ground of fatalism or destiny, but simply on the principle of universal, unchangeable harmony; and, as it may be foreknown that, when a musical note is struck, its vibrations will not, and cannot change into those of another note. Besides, eternity can have neither past nor future, but only the present; as boundless space, in its strictly literal sense, can have neither distant nor proximate places. Our conceptions, limited to the narrow area of our experience, attempt to fit if not an end, at least a beginning of time and space; but neither of these exist in reality; for in such case time would not be eternal, nor space boundless. The past no more exists than the future, as we have said, only our memories survive; and our memories are but the glimpses that we catch of the reflections of this past in the currents of the astral light, as the psychometer catches them from the astral emanations of the object held by him.
Says Professor E. Hitchcock, when speaking of the influences of light upon bodies, and of the formation of pictures upon them by means of it: "It seems, then, that this photographic influence pervades all nature; nor can we say where it stops. We do not know but it may imprint upon
the world around us our features, as they are modified by various passions, and thus fill nature with daguerreotype impressions of all our actions; . . . it may be, too, that there are tests by which nature, more skilful than any photographist, can bring out and fix these portraits, so that acuter senses than ours shall see them as on a great canvas, spread over the material universe. Perhaps, too, they may never fade from that canvas, but become specimens in the great picture-gallery of eternity."*
The "perhaps" of Professor Hitchcock is henceforth changed by the demonstration of psychometry into a triumphant certitude. Those who understand these psychological and clairvoyant faculties will take exception to Professor Hitchcock's idea, that acuter senses than ours are needed to see these pictures upon his supposed cosmic canvas, and maintain that he should have confined his limitations to the external senses of the body. The human spirit, being of the Divine, immortal Spirit, appreciates neither past nor future, but sees all things as in the present. These daguerreotypes referred to in the above quotation are imprinted upon the astral light, where, as we said before — and, according to the Hermetic teaching, the first portion of which is already accepted and demonstrated by science — is kept the record of all that was, is, or ever will be.
Of late, some of our learned men have given a particular attention to a subject hitherto branded with the mark of "superstition." They begin speculating on hypothetical and invisible worlds. The authors of the Unseen Universe were the first to boldly take the lead, and already they find a follower in Professor Fiske, whose speculations are given in the Unseen World. Evidently the scientists are probing the insecure ground of materialism, and, feeling it trembling under their feet, are preparing for a less dishonorable surrender of arms in case of defeat. Jevons confirms Babbage, and both firmly believe that every thought, displacing the particles of the brain and setting them in motion, scatters them throughout the universe, and think that "each particle of the existing matter must be a register of all that has happened."** On the other hand, Dr. Thomas Young, in his lectures on natural philosophy, most positively invites us to "speculate with freedom on the possibility of independent worlds; some existing in different parts, others pervading each other, unseen and unknown, in the same space, and others again to which space may not be a necessary mode of existence."
If scientists, proceeding from a strictly scientific point of view, such as the possibility of energy being transferred into the invisible universe — and on the principle of continuity, indulge in such speculations, why should occultists and spiritualists be refused the same privilege? Gan-
* "Religion of Geology."
** "Principles of Science," vol. ii., p. 455.
glionic impressions on the surface of polished metal, are registered and may be preserved for an indefinite space of time, according to science; and Professor Draper illustrates the fact most poetically. "A shadow," says he, "never falls upon a wall without leaving thereupon a permanent trace, a trace which might be made visible by resorting to proper processes. . . . The portraits of our friends, or landscape-views, may be hidden on the sensitive surface from the eye, but they are ready to make their appearance, as soon as proper developers are resorted to. A spectre is concealed on a silver or glassy surface, until, by our necromancy, we make it come forth into the visible world. Upon the walls of our most private apartments, where we think the eye of intrusion is altogether shut out, and our retirement can never be profaned, there exist the vestiges of all our acts, silhouettes of whatever we have done."*
If an indelible impression may be thus obtained on inorganic matter, and if nothing is lost or passes completely out of existence in the universe, why such a scientific levee of arms against the authors of the Unseen Universe? And on what ground can they reject the hypothesis that "Thought, conceived to affect the matter of another universe simultaneously with this, may explain a future state?"**
In our opinion, if psychometry is one of the grandest proofs of the indestructibility of matter, retaining eternally the impressions of the outward world, the possession of that faculty by our inner sight is a still greater one in favor of the immortality of man's individual spirit. Capable of discerning events which took place hundreds of thousands of years ago, why would it not apply the same faculty to a future lost in the eternity, in which there can be neither past nor future, but only one boundless present?
Notwithstanding the confessions of stupendous ignorance in some things, made by the scientists themselves, they still deny the existence of that mysterious spiritual force, lying beyond the grasp of the ordinary physical laws. They still hope to be able to apply to living beings the same laws which they have found to answer in reference to dead matter. And, having discovered what the kabalists term "the gross purgations" of Ether — light, heat, electricity, and motion — they have rejoiced over their good fortune, counted its vibrations in producing the colors of the spectrum; and, proud of their achievements, refuse to see any further. Several men of science have pondered more or less over its protean essence, and unable to measure it with their photometers, called it "an hypothetical medium of great elasticity and extreme tenuity, supposed to
* J. W. Draper: "Conflict between Religion and Science," pp. 132, 133.
** "Unseen Universe," p. 159.
pervade all space, the interior of solid bodies not excepted"; and, "to be the medium of transmission of light and heat" (Dictionary). Others, whom we will name "the will-o'-the-wisps" of science — her pseudo-sons — examined it also, and even went to the trouble of scrutinizing it "through powerful glasses," they tell us. But perceiving neither spirits nor ghosts in it, and failing equally to discover in its treacherous waves anything of a more scientific character, they turned round and called all believers in immortality in general, and spiritualists in particular, "insane fools" and "visionary lunatics";* the whole, in doleful accents, perfectly appropriate to the circumstance of such a sad failure.
Say the authors of the Unseen Universe:
"We have driven the operation of that mystery called Life out of the objective universe. The mistake made, lies in imagining that by this process they completely get rid of a thing so driven before them, and that it disappears from the universe altogether. It does no such thing. It only disappears from that small circle of light which we may call the universe of scientific perception. Call it the trinity of mystery: mystery of matter, the mystery of life and — the mystery of God — and these three are One."**
Taking the ground that "the visible universe must certainly, in transformable energy, and probably in matter, come to an end," and "the principle of continuity . . . still demanding a continuance of the universe. . ." the authors of this remarkable work find themselves forced to believe "that there is something beyond that which is visible*** . . . and that the visible system is not the whole universe but only, it may be, a very small part of it." Furthermore, looking back as well as forward to the origin of this visible universe, the authors urge that "if the visible universe is all that exists then the first abrupt manifestation of it is as truly a break of continuity as its final overthrow" (Art. 85). Therefore, as such a break is against the accepted law of continuity, the authors come to the following conclusion: —
"Now, is it not natural to imagine, that a universe of this nature, which we have reason to think exists, and is connected by bonds of energy with the visible universe, is also capable of receiving energy from it? . . . May we not regard Ether, or the medium, as not merely a bridge**** between
* F. R. Marvin: "Lecture on Mediomania."
** "Unseen Universe," p. 84, et seq.
*** Ibid., p. 89.
**** Behold! great scientists of the nineteenth century, corroborating the wisdom of the Scandinavian fable, cited in the preceding chapter. Several thousand years ago, the idea of a bridge between the visible and the invisible universes was allegorized by ignorant "heathen," in the "Edda-Song of Voluspa," "The Vision of Vala, the Seeress." For what is this bridge of Bifrost, the radiant rainbow, which leads the [[Footnote continued on next page]]
one order of things and another, forming as it were a species of cement, in virtue of which the various orders of the universe are welded together and made into one? In fine, what we generally called Ether, may be not a mere medium, but a medium plus the invisible order of things, so that when the motions of the visible universe are transferred into Ether, part of them are conveyed as by a bridge into the invisible universe, and are there made use of and stored up. Nay, is it even necessary to retain the conception of a bridge? May we not at once say that when energy is carried from matter into Ether, it is carried from the visible into the invisible; and that when it is carried from Ether to matter it is carried from the invisible into the visible?" — (Art. 198, Unseen Universe.)
Precisely; and were Science to take a few more steps in that direction and fathom more seriously the "hypothetical medium" who knows but Tyndall's impassable chasm between the physical processes of the brain and consciousness, might be — at least intellectually — passed with surprising ease and safety.
So far back as 1856, a man considered a savant in his days — Dr. Jobard of Paris, — had certainly the same ideas as the authors of the Unseen Universe, on ether, when he startled the press and the world of science by the following declaration: "I hold a discovery which frightens me. There are two kinds of electricity; one, brute and blind, is produced by the contact of metals and acids"; (the gross purgation) . . . "the other is intelligent and CLAIRVOYANT! . . . Electricity has bifurcated itself in the hands of Galvani, Nobili, and Matteuci. The brute force of the current has followed Jacobi, Bonelli, and Moncal, while the intellectual one was following Bois-Robert, Thilorier, and the Chevalier Duplanty. The electric ball or globular electricity contains a thought which disobeys Newton and Mariotte to follow its own freaks. . . . We have, in the annals of the Academy, thousands of proofs of the INTELLIGENCE of the electric bolt . . . But I remark that I am permitting myself to become indiscreet. A little more and I should have disclosed to you the key which is about to discover to us the universal spirit."*
The foregoing, added to the wonderful confessions of science and what we have just quoted from the Unseen Universe, throw an additional lustre on the wisdom of the long departed ages. In one of the preceding chapters we have alluded to a quotation from Cory's translation of Ancient Fragments, in which it appears that one of the Chaldean Oracles expresses this self-same idea about ether, and in language singularly like
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] gods to their rendezvous, near the Urdar-fountain, but the same idea as that which is offered to the thoughtful student by the authors of the "Unseen Universe"?
* "L'Ami des Sciences," March 2, 1856, p. 67.
that of the authors of the Unseen Universe. It states that from aether have come all things, and to it all will return; that the images of all things are indelibly impressed upon it; and that it is the store-house of the germs or of the remains of all visible forms, and even ideas. It appears as if this case strangely corroborates our assertion that whatever discoveries may be made in our days will be found to have been anticipated by many thousand years by our "simple-minded ancestors."
At the point at which we are now arrived, the attitude assumed by the materialists toward psychical phenomena being perfectly defined, we may assert with safety that were this key lying loose on the threshold of the "chasm" not one of our Tyndalls would stoop to pick it up.
How timid would appear to some kabalists these tentative efforts to solve the GREAT MYSTERY of the universal ether! although so far in advance of anything propounded by cotemporary philosophers, what the intelligent explorers of the Unseen Universe speculate upon, was to the masters of hermetic philosophy familiar science. To them ether was not merely a bridge connecting the seen and unseen sides of the universe, but across its span their daring feet followed the road that led through the mysterious gates which modern speculators either will not or cannot unlock.
The deeper the research of the modern explorer, the more often he comes face to face with the discoveries of the ancients. Does Elie de Beaumont, the great French geologist, venture a hint upon the terrestrial circulation, in relation to some elements in the earth's crust, he finds himself anticipated by the old philosophers. Do we demand of distinguished technologists, what are the most recent discoveries in regard to the origin of the metalliferous deposits? We hear one of them, Professor Sterry Hunt, in showing us how water is a universal solvent, enunciating the doctrine held and taught by the old Thales, more than two dozen centuries ago, that water was the principle of all things. We listen to the same professor, with de Beaumont as authority, expounding the terrestrial circulation, and the chemical and physical phenomena of the material world. While we read with pleasure that he is "not prepared to concede that we have in chemical and physical processes the whole secret of organic life," we note with a still greater delight the following honest confession on his part: "Still we are, in many respects, approximating the phenomena of the organic world to those of the mineral kingdom; and we at the same time learn that these so far interest and depend upon each other that we begin to see a certain truth underlying the notion of those old philosophers, who extended to the mineral world the notion of a vital force, which led them to speak of the earth as a great living organism, and to look upon the various changes of its air, its waters, and its rocky depths, as processes belonging to the life of our planet."
Everything in this world must have a beginning. Things have latterly gone so far with scientists in the matter of prejudice, that it is quite a wonder that even so much as this should be conceded to ancient philosophy. The poor, honest primordial elements have long been exiled, and our ambitious men of science run races to determine who shall add one more to the fledgling brood of the sixty-three or more elementary substances. Meanwhile there rages a war in modern chemistry about terms. We are denied the right to call these substances "chemical elements," for they are not "primordial principles or self-existing essences out of which the universe was fashioned."* Such ideas associated with the word element were good enough for the "old Greek philosophy," but modern science rejects them; for, as Professor Cooke says, "they are unfortunate terms," and experimental science will have "nothing to do with any kind of essences except those which it can see, smell, or taste." It must have those that can be put in the eye, the nose, or the mouth! It leaves others to the metaphysicians.
Therefore, when Van Helmont tells us that, "though a homogeneal part of elementary earth may be artfully (artificially) converted into water," though he still denies "that the same can be done by nature alone; for no natural agent is able to transmute one element into another," offering as a reason that the elements always remain the same, we must believe him, if not quite an ignoramus, at least an unprogressed disciple of the mouldy "old Greek philosophy." Living and dying in blissful ignorance of the future sixty-three substances, what could either he or his old master, Paracelsus, achieve? Nothing, of course, but metaphysical and crazy speculations, clothed in a meaningless jargon common to all mediaeval and ancient alchemists. Nevertheless, in comparing notes, we find in the latest of all works upon modern chemistry, the following: "The study of chemistry has revealed a remarkable class of substances, from no one of which a second substance has ever been produced by any chemical process which weighs less than the original substance . . . by no chemical process whatever can we obtain from iron a substance weighing less than the metal used in its production. In a word, we can extract from iron nothing but iron."** Moreover, it appears, according to Professor Cooke, that "seventy-five years ago men did not know there was any difference" between elementary and compound substances, for in old times alchemists had never conceived "that weight is the measure of material, and that, as thus measured, no material is ever lost; but, on the contrary, they imagined that in such experiments** as these the substances involved underwent a mysterious transformation. . . . Centuries," in short,
* Cooke: "New Chemistry," p. 113.
** Ibid., pp. 110-111.
*** Ibid., p. 106.
"were wasted in vain attempts to transform the baser metals into gold."
Is Professor Cooke, so eminent in modern chemistry, equally proficient in the knowledge of what the alchemists did or did not know? Is he quite sure that he understands the meaning of the alchemical diction? We are not. But let us compare his views as above expressed with but sentences written in plain and good, albeit old English, from the translations of Van Helmont and Paracelsus. We learn from their own admissions that the alkahest induces the following changes:
"(1.) The alkahest never destroys the seminal virtues of the bodies thereby dissolved: for instance, gold, by its action, is reduced to a salt of gold, antimony to a salt of antimony, etc., of the same seminal virtues, or characters with the original concrete. (2.) The subject exposed to its operation is converted into its three principles, salt, sulphur, and mercury, and afterwards into salt alone, which then becomes volatile, and at length is wholly turned into clear water. (3.) Whatever it dissolves may be rendered volatile by a sand-heat; and if, after volatilizing the solvent, it be distilled therefrom, the body is left pure, insipid water, but always equal in quantity to its original self." Further, we find Van Helmont, the elder, saying of this salt that it will dissolve the most untractable bodies into substances of the same seminal virtues, "equal in weight to the matter dissolved"; and he adds, "This salt, by being several times cohobated with Paracelsus' sal circulatum, loses all its fixedness, and at length becomes an insipid water, equal in quantity to the salt it was made from."*
The objection that might be made by Professor Cooke, in behalf of modern science, to the hermetic expressions, would equally apply to the Egyptian hieratic writings — they hide that which was meant to be concealed. If he would profit by the labors of the past, he must employ the cryptographer, and not the satirist. Paracelsus, like the rest, exhausted his ingenuity in transpositions of letters and abbreviations of words and sentences. For example, when he wrote sutratur he meant tartar, and mutrin meant nitrum, and so on. There was no end to the pretended explanations of the meaning of the alkahest. Some imagined that it was an alkaline of salt of tartar salatilized; others that it meant algeist, a German word which means all-spirit, or spirituous. Paracelsus usually termed salt "the centre of water wherein metals ought to die." This gave rise to the most absurd suppositions, and some persons — such as Glauber — thought that the alkahest was the spirit of salt. It requires no little hardihood to assert that Paracelsus and his colleagues were ignorant of the natures of elementary and compound substances; they may not be called by
* "De Secretis Adeptorum." Werdenfelt; Philalethes; Van Helmont; Paracelsus.
the same names as are now in fashion, but that they were known is proved by the results attained. What matters it by what name the gas given off when iron is dissolved in sulphuric acid was called by Paracelsus, since he is recognized, even by our standard authorities, as the discoverer of hydrogen?* His merit is the same; and though Van Helmont may have concealed, under the name "seminal virtues," his knowledge of the fact that elementary substances have their original properties, which the entering into compounds only temporarily modifies — never destroys — he was none the less the greatest chemist of his age, and the peer of modern scientists. He affirmed that the aurum potabile could be obtained with the alkahest, by converting the whole body of gold into salt, retaining its seminal virtues, and being soluble in water. When chemists learn what he meant by aurum potabile, alkahest, salt, and seminal virtues — what he really meant, not what he said he meant, nor what was thought he meant — then, and not before, can our chemists safely assume such airs toward the fire-philosophers and those ancient masters whose mystic teachings they reverently studied. One thing is clear, at any rate. Taken merely in its exoteric form, this language of Van Helmont shows that he understood the solubility of metallic substances in water, which Sterry Hunt makes the basis of his theory of metalliferous deposits. We would like to see what sort of terms would be invented by our scientific contemporaries to conceal and yet half-reveal their audacious proposition that man's "only God is the cineritious matter of his brain," if in the basement of the new Court House or the cathedral on Fifth Avenue there were a torture-chamber, to which judge or cardinal could send them at will.
Professor Sterry Hunt says in one of his lectures:** "The alchemists sought in vain for a universal solvent; but we now know that water, aided in some cases by heat, pressure, and the presence of certain widely-distributed substances, such as carbonic acid and alkaline carbonates and sulphides, will dissolve the most insoluble bodies; so that it may, after all, be looked upon as the long-sought for alkahest or universal menstruum."
This reads almost like a paraphrase of Van Helmont, or Paracelsus himself! They knew the properties of water as a solvent as well as modern chemists, and what is more, made no concealment of the fact; which shows that this was not their universal solvent. Many commentaries and criticisms of their works are still extant, and one can hardly take up a book on the subject without finding at least one of their spec-
* Youmans: "Chemistry," p. 169; and W. B. Kemshead, F. R. A. S.: "Inorganic Chemistry."
** "Origin of Metalliferous Deposits."
ulations of which they never thought of making a mystery. This is what we find in an old work on alchemists — a satire, moreover — of 1820, written at the beginning of our century when the new theories on the chemical potency of water were hardly in their embryonic state.
"It may throw some light to observe, that Van Helmont, as well as Paracelsus, took water for the universal instrument (agent?) of chymistry and natural philosophy; and earth for the unchangeable basis of all things — that fire was assigned as the sufficient cause of all things — that Seminal impressions were lodged in the mechanism of the earth — that water, by dissolving and fermenting with this earth, as it does by means of fire, brings forth everything; whence originally proceeded animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms."*
The alchemists understand well this universal potency of water. In the works of Paracelsus, Van Helmont, Philalethes, Pantatem, Tachenius, and even Boyle, "the great characteristic of the alkahest," "to dissolve and change all sublunary bodies — water alone excepted," is explicitly stated. And is it possible to believe that Van Helmont, whose private character was unimpeachable, and whose great learning was universally recognized, should most solemnly declare himself possessed of the secret, were it but a vain boast!**
In a recent address at Nashville, Tennessee, Professor Huxley laid down a certain rule with respect to the validity of human testimony as a basis of history and science, which we are quite ready to apply to the present case. "It is impossible," he says, "that one's practical life should not be more or less influenced by the views which we may hold as to what has been the past history of things. One of them is human testimony in its various shapes — all testimony of eye-witnesses, traditional testimony from the lips of those who have been eye-witnesses, and the testimony of those who have put their impressions into writing and into print. . . . If you read Caesar's Commentaries, wherever he gives an account of his battles with the Gauls, you place a certain amount of confidence in his statements. You take his testimony upon this. You feel that Caesar would not have made these statements unless he had believed them to be true."
Now, we cannot in logic permit Mr. Huxley's philosophical rule to be applied in a one-sided manner to Caesar. Either that personage was naturally truthful or a natural liar; and since Mr. Huxley has settled that point to his own satisfaction as regards the facts of military history in his favor, we insist that Caesar is also a competent witness as
* John Bumpus: "Alchemy and the Alkahest," 85, J. S. F., edition of 1820.
** See Boyle's works.
to augurs, diviners, and psychological facts. So with Herodotus, and all other ancient authorities, unless they were by nature men of truth, they should not be believed even about civil or military affairs. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. And equally, if they are credible as to physical things, they must be regarded as equally so as to spiritual things; for as Professor Huxley tells us, human nature was of old just as it is now. Men of intellect and conscience did not lie for the pleasure of bewildering or disgusting posterity.
The probabilities of falsification by such men having been defined so clearly by a man of science, we feel free from the necessity of discussing the question in connection with the names of Van Helmont and his illustrious but unfortunate master, the much-slandered Paracelsus. Deleuze, though finding in the works of the former many "mythic, illusory ideas" — perhaps only because he could not understand them — credits him nevertheless with a vast knowledge, "an acute judgment," and at the same time with having given to the world "great truths." "He was the first," he adds, "to give the name of gas to aerial fluids. Without him it is probable that steel would have given no new impulse to science."* By what application of the doctrine of chances could we discover the likelihood that experimentalists, capable of resolving and recombining chemical substances, as they are admitted to have done, were ignorant of the nature of elementary substances, their combining energies, and the solvent or solvents, that would disintegrate them when wanted? If they had the reputation only of theorists the case would stand differently and our argument would lose its force, but the chemical discoveries grudgingly accorded to them, by their worst enemies, form the basis for much stronger language than we have permitted ourselves, from a fear of being deemed over partial. And, as this work, moreover, is based on the idea that there is a higher nature of man, that his moral and intellectual faculties should be judged psychologically, we do not hesitate to reaffirm that since Van Helmont asserted, "most solemnly," that he was possessed of the secret of the alkahest, no modern critic has a right to set him down as either a liar or a visionary, until something more certain is known about the nature of this alleged universal menstruum.
"Facts are stubborn things," remarks Mr. A. R. Wallace, in his preface to Miracles and Modern Spiritualism. Therefore,** as facts must be our
* Deleuze: "De l'Opinion de Van Helmont sur la Cause, la Nature et les Effets du Magnetisme." Anim. Vol. i., p. 45, and vol. ii., p. 198.
** A. R. Wallace: "An Answer to the Arguments of Hume, Lecky, etc., against Miracles."
strongest allies, we will bring as many of these forward as the "miracles" of antiquity and those of our modern times will furnish us with. The authors of the Unseen Universe have scientifically demonstrated the possibility of certain alleged psychological phenomena through the medium of the universal ether. Mr. Wallace has as scientifically proved that the whole catalogue of assumptions to the contrary, including the sophisms of Hume, are untenable if brought face to face with strict logic. Mr. Crookes has given to the world of skepticism his own experiments, which lasted above three years before he was conquered by the most undeniable of evidence — that of his own senses. A whole list could be made up of men of science who have recorded their testimony to that effect; and Camille Flammarion, the well-known French astronomer, and author of many works which, in the eyes of the skeptical, should send him to the ranks of the "deluded," in company with Wallace, Crookes, and Hare, corroborates our words in the following lines:
"I do not hesitate to affirm my conviction, based on a personal examination of the subject, that any scientific man who declares the phenomena denominated 'magnetic,' 'somnambulic,' 'mediumic,' and others not yet explained by science, to be impossible, is one who speaks without knowing what he is talking about, and also any man accustomed, by his professional avocations, to scientific observations — provided that his mind be not biassed by pre-conceived opinions, nor his mental vision blinded by that opposite kind of illusion, unhappily too common in the learned world, which consists in imagining that the laws of Nature are already known to us, and that everything which appears to overstep the limit of our present formulas is impossible, may require a radical and absolute certainty of the reality of the facts alluded to."
In Mr. Crookes' Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena called Spiritual, on p. 101, this gentleman quotes Mr. Sergeant Cox, who having named this unknown force, psychic, explains it thus: "As the organism is itself moved and directed within the structure by a force — which either is, or is not controlled by — the soul, spirit, or mind . . . which constitutes the individual being we term 'the man,' it is an equally reasonable conclusion that the force which causes the motions beyond the limits of the body is the same force that produces motion within the limits of the body. And, as the external force is often directed by intelligence, it is an equally reasonable conclusion that the directing intelligence of the external force is the same intelligence that directs the force internally."
In order to comprehend this theory the better, we may as well divide it in four propositions and show that Mr. Sergeant Cox believes:
1. That the force which produces physical phenomena proceeds from (consequently is generated in) the medium.
2. That the intelligence directing the force for the production of the phenomena (a) may sometimes be other than the intelligence of the medium; but of this the "proof" is "insufficient"; therefore, (b) the directing intelligence is probably that of the medium himself. This Mr. Cox calls "a reasonable conclusion."
3. He assumes that the force which moves the table is identical with the force which moves the medium's body itself.
4. He strongly disputes the spiritualistic theory, or rather assertion, that "spirits of the dead are the sole agents in the production of all the phenomena."
Before we fairly proceed on our analysis of such views we must remind the reader that we find ourselves placed between two extreme opposites represented by two parties — the believers and unbelievers in this agency of human spirits. Neither seem capable of deciding the point raised by Mr. Cox; for while the spiritualists are so omnivorous in their credulity as to believe every sound and movement in a circle to be produced by disembodied human beings, their antagonists dogmatically deny that anything can be produced by "spirits," for there are none. Hence, neither class is in a position to examine the subject without bias.
If they consider that force which "produces motion within the body" and the one "which causes the motion beyond the limits of the body" to be of the same essence, they may be right. But the identity of these two forces stops here. The life-principle which animates Mr. Cox's body is of the same nature as that of his medium; nevertheless he is not the medium, nor is the latter Mr. Cox.
This force, which, to please Mr. Cox and Mr. Crookes we may just as well call psychic as anything else, proceeds through not from the individual medium. In the latter case this force would be generated in the medium and we are ready to show that it cannot be so; neither in the instances of levitation of human bodies, the moving of furniture and other objects without contact, nor in such cases in which the force shows reason and intelligence. It is a well-known fact to both mediums and spiritualists, that the more the former is passive, the better the manifestations; and every one of the above-mentioned phenomena requires a conscious predetermined will. In cases of levitation, we should have to believe that this self-generated force would raise the inert mass off the ground, direct it through the air, and lower it down again, avoiding obstacles and thereby showing intelligence, and still act automatically, the medium remaining all the while passive. If such were the fact, the medium would be a conscious magician, and all pretense for being a passive instrument in the hands of invisible intelligences would become useless. As well plead
that a quantity of steam sufficient to fill, without bursting, a boiler, will raise the boiler; or a Leyden jar, full of electricity, overcome the inertia of the jar, as such a mechanical absurdity. All analogy would seem to indicate that the force which operates in the presence of a medium upon external objects comes from a source back of the medium himself. We may rather compare it with the hydrogen which overcomes the inertia of the balloon. The gas, under the control of an intelligence, is accumulated in the receiver in sufficient volume to overcome the attraction of its combined mass. On the same principle this force moves articles of furniture, and performs other manifestations; and though identical in its essence with the astral spirit of the medium, it cannot be his spirit only, for the latter remains all the while in a kind of cataleptic torpor, when the mediumship is genuine. Mr. Cox's first point seems, therefore, not well taken; it is based upon an hypothesis mechanically untenable. Of course our argument proceeds upon the supposition that levitation is an observed fact. The theory of psychic force, to be perfect, must account for all "visible motions . . . in solid substances," and among these is levitation.
As to his second point, we deny that "the proof is insufficient" that the force which produces the phenomena is sometimes directed by other intelligences than the mind of the "psychic." On the contrary there is such an abundance of testimony to show that the mind of the medium, in a majority of cases, has nothing to do with the phenomena, that we cannot be content to let Mr. Cox's bold assertion go unchallenged.
Equally illogical do we conceive to be his third proposition; for if the medium's body be not the generator but simply the channel of the force which produces the phenomena — a question upon which Mr. Cox's researches throw no light whatever — then it does not follow that because the medium's "soul, spirit, or mind" directs the medium's organism, therefore this "soul, spirit, or mind," lifts a chair or raps at the call of the alphabet.
As to the fourth proposition, namely, that "spirits of the dead are the sole agents in the production of all the phenomena," we need not join issue at the present moment, inasmuch as the nature of the spirits producing mediumistic manifestations is treated at length in other chapters.
The philosophers, and especially those who were initiated into the Mysteries, held that the astral soul is the impalpable duplicate of the gross external form which we call body. It is the perisprit of the Kardecists and the spirit-form of the spiritualists. Above this internal duplicate, and illuminating it as the warm ray of the sun illuminates the earth,
fructifying the germ and calling out to spiritual vivification the latent qualities dormant in it, hovers the divine spirit. The astral perisprit is contained and confined within the physical body as ether in a bottle, or magnetism in magnetized iron. It is a centre and engine of force, fed from the universal supply of force, and moved by the same general laws which pervade all nature and produce all cosmical phenomena. Its inherent activity causes the incessant physical operations of the animal organism and ultimately results in the destruction of the latter by overuse and its own escape. It is the prisoner, not the voluntary tenant, of the body. It has an attraction so powerful to the external universal force, that after wearing out its casing it finally escapes to it. The stronger, grosser, more material its encasing body, the longer is the term of its imprisonment. Some persons are born with organizations so exceptional, that the door which shuts other people in from communication with the world of the astral light, can be easily unbarred and opened, and their souls can look into, or even pass into that world, and return again. Those who do this consciously, and at will, are termed magicians, hierophants, seers, adepts; those who are made to do it, either through the fluid of the mesmerizer or of "spirits," are "mediums." The astral soul, when the barriers are once opened, is so powerfully attracted by the universal, astral magnet, that it sometimes lifts its encasement with it and keeps it suspended in mid-air, until the gravity of matter reasserts its supremacy, and the body redescends again to earth.
Every objective manifestation, whether it be the motion of a living limb, or the movement of some inorganic body, requires two conditions: will and force — plus matter, or that which makes the object so moved visible to our eye; and these three are all convertible forces, or the force-correlation of the scientists. In their turn they are directed or rather overshadowed by the Divine intelligence which these men so studiously leave out of the account, but without which not even the crawling of the smallest earth-worm could ever take place. The simplest as the most common of all natural phenomena, — the rustling of the leaves which tremble under the gentle contact of the breeze — requires a constant exercise of these faculties. Scientists may well call them cosmic laws, immutable and unchangeable. Behind these laws we must search for the intelligent cause, which once having created and set these laws in motion, has infused into them the essence of its own consciousness. Whether we call this the first cause, the universal will, or God, it must always bear intelligence.
And now we may ask, how can a will manifest itself intelligently and unconsciously at the same time? It is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of intellection apart from consciousness. By consciousness we do
not necessarily imply physical or corporeal consciousness. Consciousness is a quality of the sentient principle, or, in other words, the soul; and the latter often displays activity even while the body is asleep or paralyzed. When we lift our arm mechanically, we may imagine that we do it unconsciously because our superficial senses cannot appreciate the interval between the formulation of the purpose and its execution. Latent as it seemed to us, our vigilant will evolved force, and set our matter in motion. There is nothing in the nature of the most trivial of mediumistic phenomena to make Mr. Cox's theory plausible. If the intelligence manifested by this force is no proof that it belongs to a disembodied spirit, still less is it evidence that it is unconsciously given out by the medium; Mr. Crookes himself tells us of cases where the intelligence could not have emanated from any one in the room; as in the instance where the word "however," covered by his finger and unknown even to himself, was correctly written by planchette.* No explanation whatever can account for this case; the only hypothesis tenable — if we exclude the agency of a spirit-power — is that the clairvoyant faculties were brought into play. But scientists deny clairvoyance; and if, to escape the unwelcome alternative of accrediting the phenomena to a spiritual source, they concede to us the fact of clairvoyance, it then devolves upon them to either accept the kabalistic explanation of what this faculty is, or achieve the task hitherto impracticable of making a new theory to fit the facts.
Again, if for the sake of argument it should be admitted that Mr. Crookes' word "however" might have been clairvoyantly read, what shall we say of mediumistic communications having a prophetic character? Does any theory of mediumistic impulse account for the ability to foretell events beyond the possible knowledge of both speaker and listener? Mr. Cox will have to try again.
As we have said before, the modern psychic force, and the ancient oracular fluids, whether terrestrial or sidereal, are identical in essence — simply a blind force. So is air. And while in a dialogue the sound-waves produced by a conversation of the speakers affect the same body of air, that does not imply any doubt of the fact that there are two persons talking with each other. Is it any more reasonable to say that when a common agent is employed by medium and "spirit" to intercommunicate, there must necessarily be but one intelligence displaying itself? As the air is necessary for the mutual exchange of audible sounds, so are certain currents of astral light, or ether directed by an Intelligence, necessary for the production of the phenomena called spiritual. Place
* CROOKES: "Researches, etc.," p. 96.
two interlocutors in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, and, if they could live, their words would remain inarticulate thoughts, for there would be no air to vibrate, and hence no ripple of sound would reach their ears. Place the strongest medium in such isolating atmosphere as a powerful mesmerizer, familiar with the properties of the magical agent, can create around him, and no manifestations will take place until some opposing intelligence, more potential than the will-power of the mesmerizer, overcomes the latter and terminates the astral inertia.
The ancients were at no loss to discriminate between a blind force acting spontaneously and the same force when directed by an intelligence.
Plutarch, the priest of Apollo, when speaking of the oracular vapors which were but a subterranean gas, imbued with intoxicating magnetic properties, shows its nature to be dual, when he addresses it in these words: "And who art thou? without a God who creates and ripens thee; without a daemon [spirit] who, acting under the orders of God, directs and governs thee; thou canst do nothing, thou art nothing but a vain breath."* Thus without the indwelling soul or intelligence, "Psychic Force" would be also but a "vain breath."
Aristotle maintains that this gas, or astral emanation, escaping from inside the earth, is the sole sufficient cause, acting from within outwardly for the vivification of every living being and plant upon the external crust. In answer to the skeptical negators of his century, Cicero, moved by a just wrath, exclaims: "And what can be more divine than the exhalations of the earth, which affect the human soul so as to enable her to predict the future? And could the hand of time evaporate such a virtue? Do you suppose you are talking of some kind of wine or salted meat?"** Do modern experimentalists claim to be wiser than Cicero, and say that this eternal force has evaporated, and that the springs of prophecy are dry?
All the prophets of old — inspired sensitives — were said to be uttering their prophecies under the same conditions, either by the direct outward efflux of the astral emanation, or a sort of damp fluxion, rising from the earth. It is this astral matter which serves as a temporary clothing of the souls who form themselves in this light. Cornelius Agrippa expresses the same views as to the nature of these phantoms by describing it as moist or humid: "In spirito turbido HUMIDOQUE."**
Prophecies are delivered in two ways — consciously, by magicians who are able to look into the astral light; and unconsciously, by those
* Lucian: "Pharsalia," Book v.
** "De Divinatio," Book i., chap. 3.
*** "De Occulta Philosoph.," p. 355.
who act under what is called inspiration. To the latter class belonged and belong the Biblical prophets and the modern trance-speakers. So familiar with this fact was Plato, that of such prophets he says: "No man, when in his senses, attains prophetic truth and inspiration . . . but only when demented by some distemper or possession . . ." (by a daimonion or spirit).* "Some persons call them prophets; they do not know that they are only repeaters . . . and are not to be called prophets at all, but only transmitters of vision and prophecy," — he adds.
In continuation of his argument, Mr. Cox says: "The most ardent spiritualists practically admit the existence of psychic force, under the very inappropriate name of magnetism (to which it has no affinity whatever), for they assert that the spirits of the dead can only do the acts attributed to them by using the magnetism (that is, the psychic force) of the mediums."**
Here, again, a misunderstanding arises in consequence of different names being applied to what may prove to be one and the same imponderable compound. Because electricity did not become a science till the eighteenth century, no one will presume to say that this force has not existed since the creation; moreover, we are prepared to prove that even the ancient Hebrews were acquainted with it. But, merely because exact science did not happen before 1819 to stumble over the discovery which showed the intimate connection existing between magnetism and electricity, it does not at all prevent these two agents being identical. If a bar of iron can be endowed with magnetic properties, by passing a current of voltaic electricity over some conductor placed in a certain way close to the bar, why not accept, as a provisional theory, that a medium may also be a conductor, and nothing more, at a seance? Is it unscientific to say that the intelligence of "psychic force," drawing currents of electricity from the waves of the ether, and employing the medium as a conductor, develops and calls into action the latent magnetism with which the atmosphere of the seance-room is saturated, so as to produce the desired effects? The word magnetism is as appropriate as any other, until science gives us something more than a merely hypothetical agent endowed with conjectural properties.
"The difference between the advocates of psychic force and the spiritualists consists in this," says Sergeant Cox, "that we contend that there is as yet insufficient proof of any other directing agent than the intelligence of the medium, and no proof whatever of the agency of the 'spirits' of the dead."***
* Plato: "Timaeus," vol. ii., p. 563.
** Crookes: "Researches, etc.," p. 101.
*** Ibid., p. 101.
We fully agree with Mr. Cox as to the lack of proof that the agency is that of the spirits of the dead; as for the rest, it is a very extraordinary deduction from "a wealth of facts," according to the expression of Mr. Crookes, who remarks further, "On going over my notes, I find . . . such a superabundance of evidence, so overwhelming a mass of testimony . . . that I could fill several numbers of the Quarterly."
Now some of these facts of an "overwhelming evidence" are as follows: 1st. The movement of heavy bodies with contact, but without mechanical exertion. 2d. The phenomena of percussive and other sounds. 3d. The alteration of weight of bodies. 4th. Movements of heavy substances when at a distance from the medium. 5th. The rising of tables and chairs off the ground, without contact with any person. 6th. THE LEVITATION OF HUMAN BEINGS.** 7th. "Luminous apparitions." Says Mr. Crookes, "Under the strictest conditions, I have seen a solid self -luminous body, the size and nearly the shape of a turkey's egg, float noiselessly about the room, at one time higher than any one could reach on tiptoe, and then gently descend to the floor. It was visible for more than ten minutes, and before it faded away it struck the table three times with a sound like that of a hard, solid body."*** (We must infer that the egg was of the same nature as M. Babinet's meteor-cat, which is classified with other natural phenomena in Arago's works.) 8th. The appearance of hands, either self-luminous or visible by ordinary light. 9th. "Direct writing" by these same luminous hands, detached, and evidently endowed with intelligence. (Psychic force?) 10th. "Phantom-forms and faces." In this instance, the psychic force comes "from a corner of the room" as a "phantom form," takes an accordeon in its hand, and then glides about the room, playing the instrument; Home, the medium, being in full view at the time.**** The whole of the preceding Mr. Crookes witnessed and tested at his own house, and, having assured himself scientifically of the genuineness of the phenomenon, reported it to the Royal Society. Was he welcomed as the discoverer of natural
* Crookes: "Researches, etc.," p. 83.
** In 1854, M. Foucault, an eminent physician and a member of the French Institute, one of the opponents of de Gasparin, rejecting the mere possibility of any such manifestations, wrote the following memorable words: "That day, when I should succeed in moving a straw under the action of my will only, I would feel terrified!" The word is ominous. About the same year, Babinet, the astronomer, repeated in his article in the "Revue des Deux Mondes," the following sentence to exhaustion: "The levitation of a body without contact is as impossible as the perpetual motion, because on the day it would be done, the world would crumble down." Luckily, we see no sign as yet of such a cataclysm; yet bodies are levitated.
*** "Researches, etc.," p. 91.
**** Ibid., pp. 86-97.
phenomena of a new and important character? Let the reader consult his work for the answer.
In addition to these freaks played on human credulity by "psychic force," Mr. Crookes gives another class of phenomena, which he terms "special instances," which seem (?) to point to the agency of an exterior intelligence.*
"I have been," says Mr. Crookes, "with Miss Fox when she has been writing a message automatically to one person present, whilst a message to another person, on another subject, was being given alphabetically by means of 'raps,' and the whole time she was conversing freely with a third person, on a subject totally different from either. . . . During a seance with Mr. Home, a small lath moved across the table to me, in the light, and delivered a message to me by tapping my hand; I repeating the alphabet, and the lath tapping me at the right letters . . . being at a distance from Mr. Home's hands." The same lath, upon request of Mr. Crookes, gave him "a telegraphic message through the Morse alphabet, by taps on my hand" (the Morse code being quite unknown to any other person present, and but imperfectly to himself), "and," adds Mr. Crookes, "it convinced me that there was a good Morse operator at the other end of the line, WHEREVER THAT MIGHT BE."** Would it be undignified in the present case to suggest that Mr. Cox should search for the operator in his private principality — Psychic Land? But the same lath does more and better. In full light in Mr. Crookes' room it is asked to give a message, " . . . a pencil and some sheets of paper had been lying on the centre of the table; presently the pencil rose on its point, and after advancing by hesitating jerks to the paper, fell down. It then rose, and again fell. . . . After three unsuccessful attempts, a small wooden lath" (the Morse operator) "which was lying near upon the table, slid towards the pencil, and rose a few inches from the table; the pencil rose again, and propping itself against the lath, the two together made an effort to mark the paper. It fell, and then a joint effort was made again. After a third trial the lath gave it up, and moved back to its place; the pencil lay as it fell across the paper, and an alphabetic message told us: "We have tried to do as you asked, but our power is exhausted."*** The word our, as the joint intelligent efforts of the friendly lath and pencil, would make us think that there were two psychic forces present.
In all this, is there any proof that the directing agent was "the intelligence of the medium"? Is there not, on the contrary, every indication that the movements of the lath and pencil were directed by spirits "of the dead," or at least of those of some other unseen intelligent entities?
* Ibid., p. 94.
** Ibid., p. 95.
*** Ibid., p. 94.
Most certainly the word magnetism explains in this case as little as the term psychic force; howbeit, there is more reason to use the former than the latter, if it were but for the simple fact that the transcendent magnetism or mesmerism produces phenomena identical in effects with those of spiritualism. The phenomenon of the enchanted circle of Baron Du Potet and Regazzoni, is as contrary to the accepted laws of physiology as the rising of a table without contact is to the laws of natural philosophy. As strong men have often found it impossible to raise a small table weighing a few pounds, and broken it to pieces in the effort, so a dozen of experimenters, among them sometimes, academicians, were utterly unable to step across a chalk-line drawn on the floor by Du Potet. On one occasion a Russian general, well known for his skepticism, persisted until he fell on the ground in violent convulsions. In this case, the magnetic fluid which opposed such a resistance was Mr. Cox's psychic force, which endows the tables with an extraordinary and supernatural weight. If they produce the same psychological and physiological effects, there is good reason to believe them more or less identical. We do not think the deduction could be very reasonably objected to. Besides, were the fact even denied, this is no reason why it should not be so. Once upon a time, all the Academies in Christendom had agreed to deny that there were any mountains in the moon; and there was a certain time when, if any one had been so bold as to affirm that there was life in the superior regions of the atmosphere as well as in the fathomless depths of the ocean, he would have been set down as a fool or an ignoramus.
"The Devil affirms — it must be a lie!" the pious Abbe Almiguana used to say, in a discussion with a "spiritualized table." We will soon be warranted in paraphrasing the sentence and making it read — "Scientists deny — then it must be true."