Isis Unveiled by H. P. Blavatsky — Vol. 1
Theosophical University Press Online Edition
"Strange condition of the human mind, which seems to require that it should long exercise itself in ERROR, before it dare approach the TRUTH." — MAGENDIE.
"La verite que je defends est empreinte sur tous les monuments du passe Pour comprendre l'histoire, il faut etudier les symboles anciens, les signes sacres du sacerdoce, et l'art de guerir dans les temps primitifs, art oublie aujourd'hui." — BARON DU POTET.
"It is a truth perpetually, that accumulated facts, lying in disorder, begin to assume some order if an hypothesis is thrown among them." — HERBERT SPENCER.
AND now we must search Magical History for cases similar to those given in the preceding chapter. This insensibility of the human body to the impact of heavy blows, and resistance to penetration by sharp points and musket-bullets, is a phenomenon sufficiently familiar in the experience of all times and all countries. While science is entirely unable to give any reasonable explanation of the mystery, the question appears to offer no difficulty to mesmerists, who have well studied the properties of the fluid. The man, who by a few passes over a limb can produce a local paralysis so as to render it utterly insensible to burns, cuts, and the prickings of needles, need be but very little astonished at the phenomena of the Jansenists. As to the adepts of magic, especially in Siam and the East Indies, they are too familiar with the properties of the akasa, the mysterious life-fluid, to even regard the insensibility of the Convulsionnaires as a very great phenomenon. The astral fluid can be compressed about a person so as to form an elastic shell, absolutely nonpenetrable by any physical object, however great the velocity with which it travels. In a word, this fluid can be made to equal and even excel in resisting-power, water and air.
In India, Malabar, and some places of Central Africa, the conjurers will freely permit any traveller to fire his musket or revolver at them, without touching the weapon themselves or selecting the balls. In Laing's Travels among Timanni, the Kourankos, and the Soulimas, occurs a description by an English traveller, the first white man to visit the tribe of the Soulimas, near the sources of the Dialliba, of a very curious scene. A body of picked soldiers fired upon a chief who had nothing to defend himself with but certain talismans. Although their muskets were properly loaded and aimed, not a ball could strike him. Salverte gives a similar case in his Philosophy of Occult Sciences: "In 1568, the Prince of Orange condemned a Spanish prisoner to be shot at Juliers; the soldiers tied
him to a tree and fired, but he was invulnerable. They at last stripped him to see what armor he wore, but found only an amulet. When this was taken from him, he fell dead at the first shot."
This is a very different affair from the dexterous trickery resorted to by Houdin in Algeria. He prepared balls himself of tallow, blackened with soot, and by sleight of hand exchanged them for the real bullets, which the Arab sheiks supposed they were placing in the pistols. The simple-minded natives, knowing nothing but real magic, which they had inherited from their ancestors, and which consists in each case of some one thing that they can do without knowing why or how, and seeing Houdin, as they thought, accomplish the same results in a more impressive manner, fancied that he was a greater magician than themselves. Many travellers, the writer included, have witnessed instances of this invulnerability where deception was impossible. A few years ago, there lived in an African village, an Abyssinian who passed for a sorcerer. Upon one occasion a party of Europeans, going to Soudan, amused themselves for an hour or two in firing at him with their own pistols and muskets, a privilege which he gave them for a trifling fee. As many as five shots were fired simultaneously, by a Frenchman named Langlois, and the muzzles of the pieces were not above two yards distant from the sorcerer's breast. In each case, simultaneously with the flash, the bullet would appear just beyond the muzzle, quivering in the air, and then, after describing a short parabola, fall harmlessly to the ground. A German of the party, who was going in search of ostrich feathers, offered the magician a five-franc piece if he would allow him to fire his gun with the muzzle touching his body. The man at first refused; but, finally, after appearing to hold conversation with somebody inside the ground, consented. The experimenter carefully loaded, and pressing the muzzle of the weapon against the sorcerer's body, after a moment's hesitation, fired . . . the barrel burst into fragments as far down as the stock, and the man walked off unhurt.
This quality of invulnerability can be imparted to persons both by living adepts and by spirits. In our own time several well-known mediums have frequently, in the presence of the most respectable witnesses, not only handled blazing coals and actually placed their face upon a fire without singeing a hair, but even laid flaming coals upon the heads and hands of bystanders, as in the case of Lord Lindsay and Lord Adair. The well-known story of the Indian chief, who confessed to Washington that at Braddock's defeat he had fired his rifle at him seventeen times at short range without being able to touch him, will recur to the reader in this connection. In fact, many great commanders have been believed by their soldiers to bear what is called "a charmed life"; and Prince
Emile von Sayn-Wittgenstein, a general of the Russian army, is said to be one of these.
This same power which enables one to compress the astral fluid so as to form an impenetrable shell around one, can be used to direct, so to speak, a bolt of the fluid against a given object, with fatal force. Many a dark revenge has been taken in that way; and in such cases the coroner's inquest will never disclose anything but sudden death, apparently resulting from heart-disease, an apoplectic fit, or some other natural, but still not veritable cause. Many persons firmly believe that certain individuals possess the power of the evil eye. The mal'occhio, or jettatura is a belief which is prevalent throughout Italy and Southern Europe. The Pope is held to be possessed — perchance unconsciously — of that disagreeable gift. There are persons who can kill toads by merely looking at them, and can even slay individuals. The malignance of their desire brings evil forces to a focus, and the death-dealing bolt is projected, as though it were a bullet from a rifle.
In 1864, in the French province of Le Var, near the little village of Brignoles, lived a peasant named Jacques Pelissier, who made a living by killing birds by simple will-power. His case is reported by the well-known Dr. d'Alger, at whose request the singular hunter gave exhibitions to several scientific men, of his method of proceeding. The story is told as follows: "At about fifteen or twenty paces from us, I saw a charming little meadow-lark which I showed to Jacques. 'Watch him well, monsieur,' said he, 'he is mine.' Instantly stretching his right hand toward the bird, he approached him gently. The meadow-lark stops, raises and lowers his pretty head, spreads his wings, but cannot fly; at last he cannot make a step further and suffers himself to be taken, only moving his wings with a feeble fluttering. I examine the bird, his eyes are tightly closed and his body has a corpse-like stiffness, although the pulsations of the heart are very distinct; it is a true cataleptic sleep, and all the phenomena incontestably prove a magnetic action. Fourteen little birds were taken in this way, within the space of an hour; none could resist the power of Master Jacques, and all presented the same cataleptic sleep; a sleep which, moreover, terminates at the will of the hunter, whose humble slaves these little birds have become.
"A hundred times, perhaps, I asked Jacques to restore life and movement to his prisoners, to charm them only half way, so that they might hop along the ground, and then again bring them completely under the charm. All my requests were exactly complied with, and not one single failure was made by this remarkable Nimrod, who finally said to me: 'If you wish it, I will kill those which you designate without touching them.' I pointed out two for the experiment, and, at twenty-five or
thirty paces distance, he accomplished in less than five minutes what he had promised."*
A most curious feature of the above case is, that Jacques had complete power only over sparrows, robins, goldfinches, and meadow-larks; he could sometimes charm skylarks, but, as he says, "they often escape me."
This same power is exercised with greater force by persons known as wild beast tamers. On the banks of the Nile, some of the natives can charm the crocodiles out of the water, with a peculiarly melodious, low whistle, and handle them with impunity; while others possess such powers over the most deadly snakes. Travellers tell of seeing the charmers surrounded by multitudes of the reptiles which they dispatch at their leisure.
Bruce, Hasselquist, and Lempriere,** testify to the fact that they have seen in Egypt, Morocco, Arabia, and especially in the Senaar, some natives utterly disregarding the bites of the most poisonous vipers, as well as the stings of scorpions. They handle and play with them, and throw them at will into a state of stupor. "In vain do the Latin and Greek writers," says Salverte, "assure us that the gift of charming venomous reptiles was hereditary in certain families from time immemorial, that in Africa the same gift was enjoyed by the Psylli; that the Marses in Italy, and the Ophiozenes in Cyprus possessed it." The skeptics forget that, in Italy, even at the commencement of the sixteenth century, men, claiming to be descended from the family of Saint Paul, braved, like the Marses, the bites of serpents."***
"Doubts upon this subject," he goes on to say, "were removed forever at the time of the expedition of the French into Egypt, and the following relation is attested by thousands of eye-witnesses. The Psylli, who pretended, as Bruce had related, to possess that faculty . . . went from house to house to destroy serpents of every kind. . . . A wonderful instinct drew them at first toward the place in which the serpents were hidden; furious, howling, and foaming, they seized and tore them asunder with their nails and teeth."
"Let us place," says Salverte, inveterate skeptic himself, "to the account of charlatanism, the howling and the fury; still, the instinct which warned the Psylli of the presence of the serpents, has in it some-
* Villecroze: "Le Docteur H. d'Alger," 19 Mars, 1861. Pierrart: vol. iv., pp. 254-257.
** Bruce: "Travels to Discover the Sources of the Nile," vol. x., pp. 402-447; Hasselquist: "Voyage in the Levant," vol. i., pp. 92-100; Lempriere: "Voyage dans l'Empire de Maroc, etc., en 1790," pp. 42-43.
*** Salverte: "La Philosophie de la Magie. De l'Influence sur les Animaux," vol. i.
thing more real." In the Antilles, the negroes discover, by its odor, a serpent which they do not see.* "In Egypt, the same tact, formerly possessed, is still enjoyed by men brought up to it from infancy, and born as with an assumed hereditary gift to hunt serpents, and to discover them even at a distance too great for the effluvia to be perceptible to the dull organs of a European. The principal fact above all others, the faculty or rendering dangerous animals powerless, merely by touching them, remains well verified, and we shall, perhaps, never understand better the nature of this secret, celebrated in antiquity, and preserved to our time by the most ignorant of men."**
Music is delightful to every person. Low whistling, a melodious chant, or the sounds of a flute will invariably attract reptiles in countries where they are found. We have witnessed and verified the fact repeatedly. In Upper Egypt, whenever our caravan stopped, a young traveller, who believed he excelled on the flute, amused the company by playing. The camel-drivers and other Arabs invariably checked him, having been several times annoyed by the unexpected appearance of various families of the reptile tribe, which generally shirk an encounter with men. Finally, our caravan met with a party, among whom were professional serpent-charmers, and the virtuoso was then invited, for experiment's sake, to display his skill. No sooner had he commenced, than a slight rustling was heard, and the musician was horrified at suddenly seeing a large snake appear in dangerous proximity with his legs. The serpent, with uplifted head and eyes fixed on him, slowly, and, as if unconsciously, crawled, softly undulating its body, and following his every movement. Then appeared at a distance another one, then a third, and a fourth, which were speedily followed by others, until we found ourselves quite in a select company. Several of the travellers made for the backs of their camels, while others sought refuge in the cantinier's tent. But it was a vain alarm. The charmers, three in number, began their chants and incantations, and, attracting the reptiles, were very soon covered with them from head to foot. As soon as the serpents approached the men, they exhibited signs of torpor, and were soon plunged in a deep catalepsy. Their eyes were half closed and glazed, and their heads drooping. There remained but one recalcitrant, a large and glossy black fellow, with a spotted skin. This meloman of the desert went on gracefully nodding and leaping, as if it had danced on its tail all its life, and keeping time to the notes of the flute. This snake would not be enticed by the "charming" of the Arabs, but kept slowly moving in the direction
* Thibaut de Chanvallon: "Voyage a la Martinique."
** Salverte: "Philosophy of Magic."
of the flute-player, who at last took to his heels. The modern Psyllian then took out of his bag a half-withered plant, which he kept waving in the direction of the serpent. It had a strong smell of mint, and as soon as the reptile caught its odor, it followed the Arab, still erect upon its tail, but now approaching the plant. A few more seconds, and the "traditional enemy" of man was seen entwined around the arm of his charmer, became torpid in its turn, and the whole lot were then thrown together in a pool, after having their heads cut off.
Many believe that all such snakes are prepared and trained for the purpose, and that they are either deprived of their fangs, or have their mouths sewed up. There may be, doubtless, some inferior jugglers, whose trickery has given rise to such an idea. But the genuine serpent-charmer has too well established his claims in the East, to resort to any such cheap fraud. They have the testimony on this subject of too many trustworthy travellers, including some scientists, to be accused of any such charlatanism. That the snakes, which are charmed to dance and to become harmless, are still poisonous, is verified by Forbes. "On the music stopping too suddenly," says he, "or from some other cause, the serpent, who had been dancing within a circle of country-people, darted among the spectators, and inflicted a wound in the throat of a young woman, who died in agony, in half an hour afterward."*
According to the accounts of many travellers the negro women of Dutch Guiana, the Obeah women, excel in taming very large snakes called amodites, or papa; they make them descend from the trees, follow, and obey them by merely speaking to them.**
We have seen in India a small brotherhood of fakirs settled round a little lake, or rather a deep pool of water, the bottom of which was literally carpeted with enormous alligators. These amphibious monsters crawl out, and warm themselves in the sun, a few feet from the fakirs, some of whom may be motionless, lost in prayer and contemplation. So long as one of these holy beggars remains in view, the crocodiles are as harmless as kittens. But we would never advise a foreigner to risk himself alone within a few yards of these monsters. The poor Frenchman Pradin found an untimely grave in one of these terrible Saurians, commonly called by the Hindus Moudela.*** (This word should be nihang or ghariyal.)
When Iamblichus, Herodotus, Pliny, or some other ancient writer tells us of priests who caused asps to come forth from the altar of Isis, or of thaumaturgists taming with a glance the most ferocious animals, they
* Forbes: "Oriental Memoirs," vol. i., p. 44; vol ii., p. 387.
** Stedmann: "Voyage in Surinam," vol. iii., pp. 64, 65.
*** See "Edinburgh Review," vol. lxxx., p. 428, etc.
are considered liars and ignorant imbeciles. When modern travellers tell us of the same wonders performed in the East, they are set down as enthusiastic jabberers, or untrustworthy writers.
But, despite materialistic skepticism, man does possess such a power, as we see manifested in the above instances. When psychology and physiology become worthy of the name of sciences, Europeans will be convinced of the weird and formidable potency existing in the human will and imagination, whether exercised consciously or otherwise. And yet, how easy to realize such power in spirit, if we only think of that grand truism in nature that every most insignificant atom in it is moved by spirit, which is one in its essence, for the least particle of it represents the whole; and that matter is but the concrete copy of the abstract idea, after all. In this connection, let us cite a few instances of the imperial power of even the unconscious will, to create according to the imagination or rather the faculty of discerning images in the astral light.
We have but to recall the very familiar phenomenon of stigmata, or birth-marks, where effects are produced by the involuntary agency of the maternal imagination under a state of excitement. The fact that the mother can control the appearance of her unborn child was so well known among the ancients, that it was the custom among wealthy Greeks to place fine statues near the bed, so that she might have a perfect model constantly before her eyes. The cunning trick by which the Hebrew patriarch Jacob caused ring-streaked and speckled calves to be dropped, is an illustration of the law among animals; and Aricante tells "of four successive litters of puppies, born of healthy parents, some of which, in each litter, were well formed, whilst the remainder were without anterior extremities and had harelip." The works of Geoffroi St. Hilaire, Burdach, and Elam, contain accounts of great numbers of such cases, and in Dr. Prosper Lucas's important volume, Sur l'Heredite Naturelle, there are many. Elam quotes from Prichard an instance where the child of a negro and white was marked with black and white color upon separate parts of the body. He adds, with laudable sincerity, "These are singularities of which, in the present state of science, no explanation can be given."* It is a pity that his example was not more generally imitated. Among the ancients Empedocles, Aristotle, Pliny, Hippocrates, Galen, Marcus Damascenus, and others give us accounts quite as wonderful as our contemporary authors.
In a work published in London, in 1659,** a powerful argument is
* Elam: "A Physician's Problems," p. 25.
** The "Immortality of the Soul," by Henry More. Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge.
made in refutation of the materialists by showing the potency of the human mind upon the subtile forces of nature. The author, Dr. More, views the foetus as if it were a plastic substance, which can be fashioned by the mother to an agreeable or disagreeable shape, to resemble some person or in part several persons, and to be stamped with the effigies, or as we might more properly call it, astrograph, of some object vividly presented to her imagination. These effects may be produced by her voluntarily or involuntarily, consciously or unconsciously, feebly or forcibly, as the case may be. It depends upon her ignorance or knowledge of the profound mysteries of nature. Taking women in the mass, the marking of the embryo may be considered more accidental than the result of design; and as each person's atmosphere in the astral light is peopled with the images of his or her immediate family, the sensitive surface of the foetus, which may almost be likened to the collodionized plate of a photograph, is as likely as not to be stamped with the image of a near or remote ancestor, whom the mother never saw, but which, at some critical moment, came as it were into the focus of nature's camera. Says Dr. Elam, "Near me is seated a visitor from a distant continent, where she was born and educated. The portrait of a remote ancestress, far back in the last century, hangs upon the wall. In every feature, one is an accurate presentment of the other, although the one never left England, and the other was an American by birth and half parentage."
The power of the imagination upon our physical condition, even after we arrive at maturity, is evinced in many familiar ways. In medicine, the intelligent physician does not hesitate to accord to it a curative or morbific potency greater than his pills and potions. He calls it the vis medicatrix naturae, and his first endeavor is to gain the confidence of his patient so completely, that he can cause nature to extirpate the disease. Fear often kills; and grief has such a power over the subtile fluids of the body as not only to derange the internal organs but even to turn the hair white. Ficinus mentions the signature of the foetus with the marks of cherries and various fruits, colors, hairs, and excrescences, and acknowledges that the imagination of the mother may transform it into a resemblance of an ape, pig, or dog, or any such animal. Marcus Damascenus tells of a girl covered with hair and, like our modern Julia Pastrana, furnished with a full beard; Gulielmus Paradinus, of a child whose skin and nails resembled those of a bear; Balduinus Ronsaeus of one born with a turkey's wattles; Pareus, of one with a head like a frog; and Avicenna, of chickens with hawks' heads. In this latter case, which perfectly exemplifies the power of the same imagination in animals, the embryo must have been stamped at the instant of conception when the hen's imagination saw a hawk either in fact or in fancy. This is evident,
for Dr. More, who quotes this case on the authority of Avicenna, remarks very appropriately that, as the egg in question might have been hatched a hundred miles distant from the hen, the microscopic picture of the hawk impressed upon the embryo must have enlarged and perfected itself with the growth of the chicken quite independently of any subsequent influence from the hen.
Cornelius Gemma tells of a child that was born with his forehead wounded and running with blood, the result of his father's threats toward his mother " . . . with a drawn sword which he directed toward her forehead"; Sennertius records the case of a pregnant woman who, seeing a butcher divide a swine's head with his cleaver, brought forth her child with his face cloven in the upper jaw, the palate, and upper lip to the very nose. In Van Helmont's De Injectis Materialibus, some very astonishing cases are reported: The wife of a tailor at Mechlin was standing at her door and saw a soldier's hand cut off in a quarrel, which so impressed her as to bring on premature labor, and her child was born with only one hand, the other arm bleeding. In 1602, the wife of Marcus Devogeler, a merchant of Antwerp, seeing a soldier who had just lost his arm, was taken in labor and brought forth a daughter with one arm struck off and bleeding as in the first case. Van Helmont gives a third example of another woman who witnessed the beheading of thirteen men by order of the Duc d'Alva. The horror of the spectacle was so overpowering that she "suddainly fell into labour and brought forth a perfectly-formed infant, only the head was wanting, but the neck bloody as their bodies she beheld that had their heads cut off. And that which does still advance the wonder is, that the hand, arme, and head of these infants were none of them to be found."*
If it was possible to conceive of such a thing as a miracle in nature, the above cases of the sudden disappearance of portions of the unborn human body might be designated. We have looked in vain through the latest authorities upon human physiology for any sufficient theory to account for the least remarkable of foetal signatures. The most they can do is to record instances of what they call "spontaneous varieties of type," and then fall back either upon Mr. Proctor's "curious coincidences" or upon such candid confessions of ignorance as are to be found in authors not entirely satisfied with the sum of human knowledge. Magendie acknowledges that, despite scientific researches, comparatively little is known of foetal life. At page 518 of the American edition of his Precis Elementaire de Physiologie he instances "a case where the umbilical cord was ruptured and perfectly cicatrized"; and asks "How was the
* Dr. H. More: "Immortality of the Soul," p. 393.
circulation carried on in this organ?" On the next page, he says: "Nothing is at present known respecting the use of digestion in the foetus"; and respecting its nutrition, propounds this query: "What, then, can we say of the nutrition of the foetus? Physiological works contain only vague conjectures on this point." On page 520, the following language occurs: "In consequence of some unknown cause, the different parts of the foetus sometimes develop themselves in a preternatural manner." With singular inconsistency with his previous admissions of the ignorance of science upon all these points which we have quoted, he adds: "There is no reason for believing that the imagination of the mother can have any influence in the formation of these monsters; besides, productions of this kind are daily observed in the offspring of other animals and even in plants." How perfect an illustration is this of the methods of scientific men! — the moment they pass beyond their circle of observed facts, their judgment seems to become entirely perverted. Their deductions from their own researches are often greatly inferior to those made by others who have to take the facts at second hand.
The literature of science is constantly furnishing examples of this truth; and when we consider the reasoning of materialistic observers upon psychological phenomena, the rule is strikingly manifest. Those who are soul-blind are as constitutionally incapable of distinguishing psychological causes from material effects as the color-blind are to select scarlet from black.
Elam, without being in the least a spiritualist, nay, though an enemy to it, represents the belief of honest scientists in the following expressions: "it is certainly inexplicable how matter and mind can act and react one upon the other; the mystery is acknowledged by all to be insoluble, and will probably ever remain so."
The great English authority upon the subject of malformation is The Science and Practice of Medicine, by Wm. Aitken, M. D., Edinburgh, and Professor of Pathology in the Army Medical School; the American edition of which, by Professor Meredith Clymer, M. D., of the University of Pennsylvania, has equal weight in the United States. At page 233 of vol. i. we find the subject treated at length. The author says, "The superstition, absurd notions, and strange causes assigned to the occurrence of such malformations, are now fast disappearing before the lucid expositions of those famous anatomists who have made the development and growth of the ovum a subject of special study. It is sufficient to mention here the names, J. Muller, Ratlike, Bischoff, St. Hilaire, Burdach, Allen Thompson, G. & W. Vrolick, Wolff, Meckel, Simpson, Rokitansky, and Von Ammon as sufficient evidence that the truths of science will in time dispel the mists of ignorance and superstition." One would
think, from the complacent tone adopted by this eminent writer that we were in possession if not of the means of readily solving this intricate problem at least of a clew to guide us through the maze of our difficulties. But, in 1872, after profiting by all the labors and ingenuity of the illustrious pathologists above enumerated, we find him making the same confession of ignorance as that expressed by Magendie in 1838. "Nevertheless," says he, "much mystery still enshrouds the origin of malformation; the origin of them may be considered in two main issues, namely: 1, are they due to original malformation of the germ? 2, or, are they due to subsequent deformities of the embryo by causes operating on its development? With regard to the first issue, it is believed that the germ may be originally malformed, or defective, owing to some influence proceeding either from the female, or from the male, as in case of repeated procreation of the same kind of malformation by the same parents, deformities on either side being transmitted as an inheritance."
Being unsupplied with any philosophy of their own to account for the lesions, the pathologists, true to professional instinct, resort to negation. "That such deformity may be produced by mental impressions on pregnant women there is an absence of positive proof," they say. "Moles, mothers' marks, and cutaneous spots as ascribed to morbid states of the coats of the ovum. . . . A very generally-recognized cause of malformation consists in impeded development of the foetus, the cause of which is not always obvious, but is for the most part concealed. . . . Transient forms of the human foetus are comparable to persistent forms of many lower animals." Can the learned professor explain why? "Hence malformations resulting from arrest of development often acquire an animal-like appearance."
Exactly; but why do not pathologists inform us why it is so? Any anatomist who has made the development and growth of the embryo and foetus "a subject of special study," can tell, without much brain-work, what daily experience and the evidence of his own eyes show him, viz.: that up to a certain period, the human embryo is a fac-simile of a young batrachian in its first remove from the spawn — a tadpole. But no physiologist or anatomist seems to have had the idea of applying to the development of the human being — from the first instant of its physical appearance as a germ to its ultimate formation and birth — the Pythagorean esoteric doctrine of metempsychosis, so erroneously interpreted by critics. The meaning of the kabalistic axiom: "A stone becomes a plant; a plant a beast; a beast a man, etc.," was mentioned in another place in relation to the spiritual and physical evolution of man on this earth. We will now add a few words more to make the idea clearer.
What is the primitive shape of the future man? A grain, a corpus-
cle, say some physiologists; a molecule, an ovum of the ovum, say others. If it could be analyzed — by the spectroscope or otherwise — of what ought we to expect to find it composed? Analogically, we should say, of a nucleus of inorganic matter, deposited from the circulation at the germinating point, and united with a deposit of organic matter. In other words, this infinitesimal nucleus of the future man is composed of the same elements as a stone — of the same elements as the earth, which the man is destined to inhabit. Moses is cited by the kabalists as authority for the remark, that it required earth and water to make a living being, and thus it may be said that man first appears as a stone.
At the end of three or four weeks the ovum has assumed a plant-like appearance, one extremity having become spheroidal and the other tapering, like a carrot. Upon dissection it is found to be composed, like an onion, of very delicate laminae or coats, enclosing a liquid. The laminae approach each other at the lower end, and the embryo hangs from the root of the umbilicus almost like a fruit from the bough. The stone has now become changed, by metempsychosis, into a plant. Then the embryonic creature begins to shoot out, from the inside outward, its limbs, and develops its features. The eyes are visible as two black dots; the ears, nose, and mouth form depressions, like the points of a pineapple, before they begin to project. The embryo develops into an animal-like foetus — the shape of a tadpole — and like an amphibious reptile lives in water, and develops from it. Its monad has not yet become either human or immortal, for the kabalists tell us that that only comes at the "fourth hour." One by one the foetus assumes the characteristics of the human being, the first flutter of the immortal breath passes through his being; he moves; nature opens the way for him; ushers him into the world; and the divine essence settles in the infant frame, which it will inhabit until the moment of physical death, when man becomes a spirit.
This mysterious process of a nine-months formation the kabalists call the completion of the "individual cycle of evolution." As the foetus develops from the liquor amnii in the womb, so the earths germinate from the universal ether, or astral fluid, in the womb of the universe. These cosmic children, like their pigmy inhabitants, are first nuclei; then ovules; then gradually mature; and becoming mothers in their turn, develop mineral, vegetable, animal, and human forms. From centre to circumference, from the imperceptible vesicle to the uttermost conceivable bounds of the cosmos, these glorious thinkers, the kabalists, trace cycle merging into cycle, containing and contained in an endless series. The embryo evolving in its pre-natal sphere, the individual in his family, the family in the state, the state in mankind, the earth in our system,
that system in its central universe, the universe in the cosmos, and the cosmos in the First Cause: — the Boundless and Endless. So runs their philosophy of evolution:
"All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is; and God the Soul."
"Worlds without number
Lie in this bosom like children."
While unanimously agreeing that physical causes, such as blows, accidents, and bad quality of food for the mother, affect the foetus in a way which endangers its life; and while admitting again that moral causes, such as fear, sudden terror, violent grief, or even extreme joy, may retard the growth of the foetus or even kill it, many physiologists agree with Magendie in saying, "there is no reason for believing that the imagination of the mother can have any influence in the formation of monsters"; and only because "productions of this kind are daily observed in the production of other animals and even in plants."
In this opinion he is supported by the leading teratologists of our day. Although Geoffroi St. Hilaire gave its name to the new science, its facts are based upon the exhaustive experiments of Bichat, who, in 1802, was recognized as the founder of analytical and philosophical anatomy. One of the most important contributions to teratological literature is the monograph of G. J. Fisher, M.D., of Sing Sing, N. Y., entitled Diploteratology; an Essay on Compound Human Monsters. This writer classifies monstrous foetal growths into their genera and species, accompanying the cases with reflections suggested by their peculiarities. Following St. Hilaire, he divides the history of the subject into the fabulous, the positive, and the scientific periods.
It suffices for our purpose to say that in the present state of scientific opinion two points are considered as established: 1, that the maternal, mental condition has no influence in the production of monstrosities; 2, that most varieties of monstrosity may be accounted for on the theory of arrest and retardation of development. Says Fisher, "By a careful study of the laws of development and the order in which the various organs are evolved in the embryo, it has been observed that monsters by defect or arrest of development, are, to a certain extent, permanent embryos. The abnormal organs merely represent the primitive condition of formation as it existed in an early stage of embryonic or foetal life."* With physiology in so confessedly chaotic a state as it is at present,
* "Transactions of the Medical Society of N. Y.," 1865-6-7.
it seems a little like hardihood in any teratologist, however great his achievements in anatomy, histology, or embryology, to take so dangerous a position as that the mother has no influence upon her offspring. While the microscopes of Haller and Prolik, Dareste and Laraboulet have disclosed to us many interesting facts concerning the single or double primitive traces on the vitelline membrane, what remains undiscovered about embryology by modern science appears greater still. If we grant that monstrosities are the result of an arrest of development — nay, if we go farther, and concede that the foetal future may be prognosticated from the vitelline tracings, where will the teratologists take us to learn the antecedent psychological cause of either? Dr. Fisher may have carefully studied some hundreds of cases, and feel himself authorized to construct a new classification of their genera and species; but facts are facts, and outside the field of his observation it appears, even if we judge but by our own personal experience, in various countries, that there are abundant attainable proofs that the violent maternal emotions are often reflected in tangible, visible, and permanent disfigurements of the child. And the cases in question seem, moreover, to contradict Dr. Fisher's assertion that monstrous growths are due to causes traceable to "the early stages of embryonic or foetal life." One case was that of a Judge of an Imperial Court at Saratow, Russia, who always wore a bandage to cover a mouse-mark on the left side of his face. It was a perfectly-formed mouse, whose body was represented in high relief upon the cheek, and the tail ran upward across the temple and was lost in his hair. The body seemed glossy, gray, and quite natural. According to his own account, his mother had an unconquerable repugnance to mice, and her labor was prematurely brought on by seeing a mouse jump out from her workbox.
In another instance, of which the writer was a witness, a pregnant lady, within two or three weeks of her accouchement, saw a bowl of raspberries, and was seized with an irresistible longing for some, but denied. She excitedly clasped her right hand to her neck in a somewhat theatrical manner, and exclaimed that she must have them. The child born under our eyes, three weeks later, had a perfectly-defined raspberry on the right side of his neck; to this day, when that fruit ripens, his birth-mark becomes of a deep crimson, while, during the winter, it is quite pale.
Such cases as these, which are familiar to many mothers of families, either in their personal experience or that of friends, carry conviction, despite the theories of all the teratologists of Europe and America. Because, forsooth, animals and plants are observed to produce malformations of their species as well as human beings, Magendie and his school infer that the human malformations of an identical character are
not at all due to maternal imagination, since the former are not. If physical causes produce physical effects in the subordinate kingdoms, the inference is that the same rule must hold with ourselves.
But an entirely original theory was broached by Professor Armor, of the Long Island Medical College, in the course of a discussion recently held in the Detroit Academy of Medicine. In opposition to the orthodox views which Dr. Fisher represents, Professor Armor says that malformations result from either one of two causes — 1, a deficiency or abnormal condition in the generative matter from which the foetus is developed, or 2, morbid influences acting on the foetus in utero. He maintains that the generative matter represents in its composition every tissue, structure, and form, and that there may be such a transmission of acquired structural peculiarities as would make the generative matter incapable of producing a healthy and equally-developed offspring. On the other hand, the generative matter may be perfect in itself, but being subjected to morbid influences during the process of gestation, the offspring will, of necessity, be monstrous.
To be consistent, this theory must account for diploteratological cases (double-headed or double-membered monsters), which seems difficult. We might, perhaps, admit that in defective generative matter, the head of the embryo might not be represented, or any other part of the body be deficient; but, it hardly seems as if there could be two, three, or more representatives of a single member. Again, if the generative matter have hereditary taint, it seems as if all the resulting progeny should be equally monstrous; whereas the fact is that in many cases the mother has given birth to a number of healthy children before the monster made its appearance, all being the progeny of one father. Numerous cases of this kind are quoted by Dr. Fisher; among others he cites the case of Catherine Corcoran,* a "very healthy woman, thirty years of age and who, previously to giving birth to this monster had born five well-formed children, no two of which were twins . . . it had a head at either extremity, two chests, with arms complete, two abdominal and two pelvic cavities united end to end, with four legs placed two at either side, where the union between the two occurred." Certain parts of the body, however, were not duplicated, and therefore this cannot be claimed as a case of the growing together of twins.
Another instance is that of Maria Teresa Parodi.** This woman, who had previously given birth to eight well-formed children, was delivered of a female infant the upper part of which only was double. Instances in
* "Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science," vol. xv., p. 263, 1853.
** "Recherches d'Anatomie transcendante et Pathologique, etc.," Paris, 1832.
which before and after the production of a monster the children were perfectly healthy are numerous, and if, on the other hand, the fact that monstrosities are as common with animals as they are with mankind is a generally-accepted argument against the popular theory that these malformations are due to the imagination of the mother; and that other fact — that there is no difference between the ovarian cell of a mammifer and man, be admitted, what becomes of Professor Armor's theory? In such a case an instance of an animal-malformation is as good as that of a human monster; and this is what we read in Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell's paper On two-headed Serpents: "A female snake was killed, together with her whole brood of young ones, amounting to 120, of these three were monsters. One with two distinct heads; one with a double head and only three eyes; and one with a double skull, furnished with three eyes, and a single lower jaw; this last had two bodies."* Surely the generative matter which produced these three monsters was identical with that which produced the other 117? Thus the Armor theory is as imperfect as all the rest.
The trouble proceeds from the defective method of reasoning usually adopted — Induction; a method which claims to collect by experiment and observation all the facts within its reach, the former being rather that of collecting and examining experiments and drawing conclusions therefrom; and, according to the author of Philosophical Inquiry, "as this conclusion cannot be extended beyond what is warranted by the experiments, the Induction is an instrument of proof and limitation." Notwithstanding this limitation is to be found in every scientific inquiry, it is rarely confessed, but hypotheses are constructed for us as though the experimenters had found them to be mathematically-proved theorems, while they are, to say the most, simple approximations.
For a student of occult philosophy, who rejects in his turn the method of induction on account of these perpetual limitations, and fully adopts the Platonic division of causes — namely, the Efficient, the Formal, the Material, and the Final, as well as the Eleatic method of examining any given proposition, it is but natural to reason from the following stand-point of the Neo-platonic school: 1. The subject either is as it is supposed or is not. Therefore we will inquire: Does the universal ether, known by the kabalists as the "astral light," contain electricity and magnetism, or does it not? The answer must be in the affirmative, for "exact science" herself teaches us that these two convertible agents saturating both the air and the earth, there is a constant interchange of electricity and magnetism between them. The question No. 1 being
* "Silliman's Journal of Science and Art," vol. x., p. 48.
settled, we will have now to examine what happens — 1st. To it with respect to itself. 2d. To it with respect to all other things. 3d. With all other things, with respect to it. 4th. To all other things with respect to themselves.
ANSWERS: 1st. With respect to itself. That inherent properties previously latent in electricity, become active under favoring conditions; and that at one time the form of magnetic force is assumed by the subtile, all-pervading agent; at another, the form of electric force is assumed.
2d. With respect to all other things. By all other things for which it has an affinity, it is attracted, by all others repelled.
3d. With all other things with respect to it. It happens that whenever they come in contact with electricity, they receive its impress in proportion to their conductivity.
4th. To all other things with respect to themselves. That under the impulse received from the electric force, and in proportion to its intensity, their molecules change their relations with each other; that either they are wrenched asunder, so as to destroy the object — organic or inorganic — which they formed, or, if previously disturbed, are brought into equilibrium (as in cases of disease); or the disturbance may be but superficial, and the object may be stamped with the image of some other object encountered by the fluid before reaching them.
To apply the above propositions to the case in point: There are several well-recognized principles of science, as, for instance, that a pregnant woman is physically and mentally in a highly impressible state. Physiology tells us that her intellectual faculties are weakened, and that she is affected to an unusual degree by the most trifling events. Her pores are opened, and she exudes a peculiar cutaneous perspiration; she seems to be in a receptive condition for all the influences in nature. Reichenbach's disciples assert that her odic condition is very intense. Du Potet warns against incautiously mesmerizing her, for fear of affecting the offspring. Her diseases are imparted to it, and often it absorbs them entirely to itself; her pains and pleasures react upon its temperament as well as its health; great men proverbially have great mothers, and vice versa. "It is true that her imagination has an influence upon the foetus," admits Magendie, thus contradicting what he asserts in another place; and he adds that "sudden terror may cause the death of the foetus, or retard its growth."*
In the case recently reported in the American papers, of a boy who was killed by a stroke of lightning, upon stripping the body, there was found imprinted upon his breast the faithful picture of a tree which grew
* "Precis Elementaire de Physiologie," p. 520.
near the window which he was facing at the time of the catastrophe, and which was also felled by the lightning. Now, this electrical photography, which was accomplished by the blind forces of nature, furnishes an analogy by which we may understand how the mental images of the mother are transmitted to the unborn child. Her pores are opened; she exudes an odic emanation which is but another form of the akasa, the electricity, or life-principle, and which, according to Reichenbach, produces mesmeric sleep, and consequently is magnetism. Magnetic currents develop themselves into electricity upon their exit from the body. An object making a violent impression on the mother's mind, its image is instantly projected into the astral light, or the universal ether, which Jevons and Babbage, as well as the authors of the Unseen Universe, tell us is the repository of the spiritual images of all forms, and even human thoughts. Her magnetic emanations attract and unite themselves with the descending current which already bears the image upon it. It rebounds, and re-percussing more or less violently, impresses itself upon the foetus, according to the very formula of physiology which shows how every maternal feeling reacts on the offspring. Is this kabalistic theory more hypothetical or incomprehensible than the teratological doctrine taught by the disciples of Geoffroi St. Hilaire? The doctrine, of which Magendie so justly observes, "is found convenient and easy from its vagueness and obscurity," and which "pretends to nothing less than the creation of a new science, the theory of which reposes on certain laws not very intelligible, as that of arresting, that of retarding, that of similar or eccentric position, especially the great law, as it is called, of self for self."*
Eliphas Levi, who is certainly one of the best authorities on certain points among kabalists, says: "Pregnant women are, more than others, under the influence of the astral light, which assists in the formation of their child, and constantly presents to them the reminiscences of forms with which it is filled. It is thus that very virtuous women deceive the malignity of observers by equivocal resemblances. They often impress upon the fruit of their marriage an image which has struck them in a dream, and thus are the same physiognomies perpetuated from age to age.
"The kabalistic use of the pentagram can therefore determine the countenance of unborn infants, and an initiated woman might give to her son the features of Nereus or Achilles, as well as those of Louis XV. or Napoleon."**
If it should confirm another theory than that of Dr. Fisher, he should be the last to complain, for as he himself makes the confession, which
* Ibid., p. 521.
** "Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie," p. 175.
his own example verifies:* "One of the most formidable obstacles to the advancement of science . . . has ever been a blind submission to authority. . . . To untrammel the mind from the influence of mere authority, that it may have free scope in the investigation of facts and laws which exist and are established in nature, is the grand antecedent necessary to scientific discovery and permanent progress."
If the maternal imagination can stunt the growth or destroy the life of the foetus, why cannot it influence its physical appearance? There are some surgeons who have devoted their lives and fortunes to find the cause for these malformations, but have only reached the opinion that they are mere "coincidences." It would be also highly unphilosophical to say that animals are not endowed with imagination; and, while it might be considered the acme of metaphysical speculation to even formulate the idea that members of the vegetable kingdom — say the mimosas and the group of insect-catchers — have an instinct and even rudimentary imagination of their own, yet the idea is not without its advocates. If great physicists like Tyndall are forced to confess that even in the case of intelligent and speaking man they are unable to bridge the chasm between mind and matter, and define the powers of the imagination, how much greater must be the mystery about what takes place in the brain of a dumb animal.
What is imagination? Psychologists tell us that it is the plastic or creative power of the soul; but materialists confound it with fancy. The radical difference between the two, was however, so thoroughly indicated by Wordsworth, in the preface to his Lyrical Ballads, that it is no longer excusable to interchange the words. Imagination, Pythagoras maintained to be the remembrance of precedent spiritual, mental, and physical states, while fancy is the disorderly production of the material brain.
From whatever aspect we view and question matter, the world-old philosophy that it was vivified and fructified by the eternal idea, or imagination — the abstract outlining and preparing the model for the concrete form — is unavoidable. If we reject this doctrine, the theory of a cosmos evolving gradually out of its chaotic disorder becomes an absurdity; for it is highly unphilosophical to imagine inert matter, solely moved by blind force, and directed by intelligence, forming itself spontaneously into a universe of such admirable harmony. If the soul of man is really an outcome of the essence of this universal soul, an infinitesimal fragment of this first creative principle, it must of necessity partake in degree of all the attributes of the demiurgic power. As the creator, breaking up the chaotic mass of dead, inactive matter, shaped it into
* "Transactions of Medical Society, etc.," p. 246.
form, so man, if he knew his powers, could, to a degree, do the same. As Pheidias, gathering together the loose particles of clay and moistening them with water, could give plastic shape to the sublime idea evoked by his creative faculty, so the mother who knows her power can fashion the coming child into whatever form she likes. Ignorant of his powers, the sculptor produces only an inanimate though ravishing figure of inert matter; while the soul of the mother, violently affected by her imagination, blindly projects into the astral light an image of the object which impressed it, and, by re-percussion, that is stamped upon the foetus. Science tells us that the law of gravitation assures us that any displacement which takes place in the very heart of the earth will be felt throughout the universe, "and we may even imagine that the same thing will hold true of those molecular motions which accompany thought."* Speaking of the transmission of energy throughout the universal ether or astral light, the same authority says: "Continual photographs of all occurrences are thus produced and retained. A large portion of the energy of the universe may thus be said to be invested in such pictures."
Dr. Fournie, of the National Deaf and Dumb Institute of France, in chapter ii. of his work,** in discussing the question of the foetus, says that the most powerful microscope is unable to show us the slightest difference between the ovarian cell of a mammifer and a man; and, respecting the first or last movement of the ovule, asks: "What is it? has it particular characters which distinguish it from every other ovule?" and justly answers thus: "Until now, science has not replied to these questions, and, without being a pessimist, I do not think that she ever will reply; from the day when her methods of investigation will permit her to surprise the hidden mechanism of the conflict of the principle of life with matter, she will know life itself, and be able to produce it." If our author had read the sermon of Pere Felix, how appropriately he might utter his Amen! to the priest's exclamation — MYSTERY! MYSTERY!
Let us consider the assertion of Magendie in the light of recorded instances of the power of imagination in producing monstrous deformities, where the question does not involve pregnant women. He admits that these occur daily in the offspring of the lower animals; how does he account for the hatching of chickens with hawk-heads, except upon the theory that the appearance of the hereditary enemy acted upon the hen's imagination, which, in its turn, imparted to the matter composing the germ a certain motion which, before expanding itself, produced the monstrous chicks? We know of an analogous case, where a tame dove,
* Fournie: "Physiologie du Systeme Nerveux, Cerebro-spinal," Paris, 1872.
belonging to a lady of our acquaintance, was frightened daily by a parrot, and in her next brood of young there were two squabs with parrots' heads, the resemblance even extending to the color of the feathers. We might also cite Columella, Youatt, and other authorities, together with the experience of all animal breeders, to show that by exciting the imagination of the mother, the external appearance of the offspring can be largely controlled. These instances in no degree affect the question of heredity, for they are simply special variations of type artificially caused.
Catherine Crowe discusses at considerable length the question of the power of the mind over matter, and relates, in illustration, many well-authenticated instances of the same.* Among others, that most curious phenomenon called the stigmata have a decided bearing upon this point. These marks come upon the bodies of persons of all ages, and always as the result of exalted imagination. In the cases of the Tyrolese ecstatic, Catherine Emmerich, and many others, the wounds of the crucifixion are said to be as perfect as nature. A certain Mme. B. von N. dreamed one night that a person offered her a red and a white rose, and that she chose the latter. On awaking, she felt a burning pain in her arm, and by degrees there appeared the figure of a rose, perfect in form and color; it was rather raised above the skin. The mark increased in intensity till the eighth day, after which it faded away, and by the fourteenth, was no longer perceptible. Two young ladies, in Poland, were standing by an open window during a storm; a flash of lightning fell near them, and the gold necklace on the neck of one of them was melted. A perfect image of it was impressed upon the skin, and remained throughout life. The other girl, appalled by the accident to her companion, stood transfixed with horror for several minutes, and then fainted away. Little by little the same mark of a necklace as had been instantaneously imprinted upon her friend's body, appeared upon her own, and remained there for several years, when it gradually disappeared.
Dr. Justinus Kerner, the distinguished German author, relates a still more extraordinary case. "At the time of the French invasion, a Cossack having pursued a Frenchman into a cul-de-sac, an alley without an outlet, there ensued a terrible conflict between them, in which the latter was severely wounded. A person who had taken refuge in this close, and could not get away, was so dreadfully frightened, that when he reached home there broke out on his body the very same wounds that the Cossack had inflicted on his enemy!"
In this case, as in those where organic disorders, and even physical
* "Night-Side of Nature," by Catherine Crowe, p. 434, et seq.
death result from a sudden excitement of the mind reacting upon the body, Magendie would find it difficult to attribute the effect to any other cause than the imagination; and if he were an occultist, like Paracelsus, or Van Helmont, the question would be stripped of its mystery. He would understand the power of the human will and imagination — the former conscious, the latter involuntary — on the universal agent to inflict injury, physical and mental, not only upon chosen victims, but also, by reflex action, upon one's self and unconsciously. It is one of the fundamental principles of magic, that if a current of this subtile fluid is not impelled with sufficient force to reach the objective point, it will react upon the individual sending it, as an India-rubber ball rebounds to the thrower's hand from the wall against which it strikes without being able to penetrate it. There are many cases instanced where would-be sorcerers fell victims themselves. Van Helmont says: "The imaginative power of a woman vividly excited produces an idea, which is the connecting medium between the body and spirit. This transfers itself to the being with whom the woman stands in the most immediate relation, and impresses upon it that image which the most agitated herself."
Deleuze has collected, in his Bibliotheque du Magnetisme Animal, a number of remarkable facts taken from Van Helmont, among which we will content ourselves with quoting the following as pendants to the case of the bird-hunter, Jacques Pelissier. He says that "men by looking steadfastly at animals oculis intentis for a quarter of an hour may cause their death; which Rousseau confirms from his own experience in Egypt and the East, as having killed several toads in this manner. But when he at last tried this at Lyons, the toad, finding it could not escape from his eye, turned round, blew itself up, and stared at him so fiercely, without moveing its eyes, that a weakness came over him even to fainting, and he was for some time thought to be dead."
But to return to the question of teratology. Wierus tells, in his De Praestigiis Demonum, of a child born of a woman who not long before its birth was threatened by her husband, he saying that she had the devil in her and that he would kill him. The mother's fright was such that her offspring appeared "well-shaped from the middle downward, but upward spotted with blackened red spots, with eyes in his forehead, a mouth like a Satyr, ears like a dog, and bended horns on its head like a goat." In a demonological work by Peramatus, there is a story of a monster born at St. Lawrence, in the West Indies, in the year 1573, the genuineness of which is certified to by the Duke of Medina-Sidonia. The child, "besides the horrible deformity of its mouth, ears, and nose, had two horns on the head, like those of young goats, long hair on his body, a fleshy girdle about his middle, double, from whence hung a piece
of flesh like a purse, and a bell of flesh in his left hand like those the Indians use when they dance, white boots of flesh on his legs, doubled down. In brief, the whole shape was horrid and diabolical, and conceived to proceed from some fright the mother had taken from the antic dances of the Indians."* Dr. Fisher rejects all such instances as unauthenticated and fabulous.
But we will not weary the reader with further selections from the multitude of teratological cases to be found recorded in the works of standard authors; the above suffice to show that there is reason to attribute these aberrations of physiological type to the mutual reaction of the maternal mind and the universal ether upon each other. Lest some should question the authority of Van Helmont, as a man of science, we will refer them to the work of Fournie, the well-known physiologist, where (at page 717) the following estimate of his character will be found: "Van Helmont was a highly distinguished chemist; he had particularly studied aeriform fluids, and gave them the name of gaz; at the same time he pushed his piety to mysticism, abandoning himself exclusively to a contemplation of the divinity. . . . Van Helmont is distinguished above all his predecessors by connecting the principle of life, directly and in some sort experimentally, as he tells us, with the most minute movements of the body. It is the incessant action of this entity, in no way associated by him with the material elements, but forming a distinct individuality, that we cannot understand. Nevertheless, it is upon this entity that a famous school has laid its principal foundation."
Van Helmont's "principle of life," or archaeus, is neither more nor less than the astral light of all the kabalists, and the universal ether of modern science. If the more unimportant signatures of the foetus are not due to the imagination of the mother, to what other cause would Magendie attribute the formation of horny scales, the horns of goats and the hairy coats of animals, which we have seen in the above instances marking monstrous progeny? Surely there were no latent germs of these distinguishing features of the animal kingdom capable of being developed under a sudden impulse of the maternal fancy. In short, the only possible explanation is the one offered by the adepts in the occult sciences.
Before leaving the subject, we wish to say a few words more respecting the cases where the head, arm, and hand were instantly dissolved, though it was evident that in each instance the entire body of the child had been perfectly formed. Of what is a child's body composed at its birth? The chemists will tell us that it comprises a dozen pounds of solidified gas, and a few ounces of ashy residuum, some water, oxygen,
* Henry More: "Immortality of the Soul," p. 399.
hydrogen, nitrogen, carbonic acid, a little lime, magnesia, phosphorus, and a few other minerals; that is all! Whence came they? How were they gathered together? How were these particles which Mr. Proctor tells us are drawn in from "the depths of space surrounding us on all sides," formed and fashioned into the human being? We have seen that it is useless to ask the dominant school of which Magendie is an illustrious representative; for he confesses that they know nothing of the nutrition, digestion, or circulation of the foetus; and physiology teaches us that while the ovule is enclosed in the Graafian vesicle it participates — forms an integral part of the general structure of the mother. Upon the rupture of the vesicle, it becomes almost as independent of her for what is to build up the body of the future being as the germ in a bird's egg after the mother has dropped it in the nest. There certainly is very little in the demonstrated facts of science to contradict the idea that the relation of the embryonic child to the mother is much different from that of the tenant to the house, upon whose shelter he depends for health, warmth, and comfort.
According to Demokritus, the soul* results from the aggregation of atoms, and Plutarch describes his philosophy as follows: "That there are substances infinite in number, indivisible, undisturbed, which are without differences, without qualities, and which move in space, where they are disseminated; that when they approach each other, they unite, interlock, and form by their aggregation water, fire, a plant, or a man. That all these substances, which he calls atoms by reason of their solidity, can experience neither change nor alteration. But," adds Plutarch, "we cannot make a color of that which is colorless, nor a substance or soul of that which is without soul and without quality." Professor Balfour Stewart says that this doctrine, in the hands of John Dalton, "has enabled the human mind to lay hold of the laws which regulate chemical changes, as well as to picture to itself what is there taking place." After quoting, with approbation, Bacon's idea that men are perpetually investigating the extreme limits of nature, he then erects a standard which he and his brother philosophers would do well to measure their behavior by. "Surely we ought," says he, "to be very cautious before we dismiss any branch of knowledge or train of thought as essentially unprofitable."**
Brave words, these. But how many are the men of science who put them into practice?
* By the word soul, neither Demokritus nor the other philosophers understood the nous or pneuma, the divine immaterial soul, but the psyche, or astral body; that which Plato always terms the second mortal soul.
** Balfour Stewart, LL.D., F.R.S.: "The Conservation of Energy," p. 133.
Demokritus of Abdera shows us space crammed with atoms, and our contemporary astronomers allow us to see how these atoms form into worlds, and afterward into the races, our own included, which people them. Since we have indicated the existence of a power in the human will, which, by concentrating currents of those atoms upon an objective point, can create a child corresponding to the mother's fancy, why is it not perfectly credible that this same power put forth by the mother, can, by an intense, albeit unconscious reversal of those currents, dissipate and obliterate any portion or even the whole of the body of her unborn child? And here comes in the question of false pregnancies, which have so often completely puzzled both physician and patient. If the head, arm, and hand of the three children mentioned by Van Helmont could disappear, as a result of the emotion of horror, why might not the same or some other emotion, excited in a like degree, cause the entire extinction of the foetus in so-called false pregnancy? Such cases are rare, but they do occur, and moreover baffle science completely. There certainly is no chemical solvent in the mother's circulation powerful enough to dissolve her child, without destroying herself. We commend the subject to the medical profession, hoping that as a class they will not adopt the conclusion of Fournie, who says: "In this succession of phenomena we must confine ourselves to the office of historian, as we have not even tried to explain the whys and wherefores of these things, for there lie the inscrutable mysteries of life, and in proportion as we advance in our exposition, we will be obliged to recognize that this is to us forbidden ground."*
Within the limits of his intellectual capabilities the true philosopher knows no forbidden ground, and should be content to accept no mystery of nature as inscrutable or inviolable.
No student of Hermetic philosophy, nor any spiritualist, will object to the abstract principle laid down by Hume that a miracle is impossible; for to suppose such a possibility would make the universe governed through special instead of general laws. This is one of the fundamental contradictions between science and theology. The former, reasoning upon universal experience, maintains that there is a general uniformity of the course of nature, while the latter assumes that the Governing Mind can be invoked to suspend general law to suit special emergencies. Says John Stuart Mill,** "If we do not already believe in supernatural agencies, no miracle can prove to us their existence. The miracle itself, considered merely as an extraordinary fact, may be satisfactorily certified by our senses or by testimony; but nothing can ever prove that it is a miracle.
* Fournie: "Physiologie du Systeme Nerveux," p. 16.
** "A System of Logic." Eighth ed., 1872, vol. ii., p. 165.
There is still another possible hypothesis, that of its being the result of some unknown natural cause; and this possibility cannot be so completely shut out as to leave no alternative but that of admitting the existence and intervention of a being superior to nature."
This is the very point which we have sought to bring home to our logicians and physicists. As Mr. Mill himself says, "We cannot admit a proposition as a law of nature, and yet believe a fact in real contradiction to it. We must disbelieve the alleged fact, or believe that we were mistaken in admitting the supposed law." Mr. Hume cites the "firm and unalterable experience" of mankind, as establishing the laws whose operation ipso facto makes miracles impossible. The difficulty lies in his use of the adjective which is Italicized, for this is an assumption that our experience will never change, and that, as a consequence, we will always have the same experiments and observations upon which to base our judgment. It also assumes that all philosophers will have the same facts to reflect upon. It also entirely ignores such collected accounts of philosophical experiment and scientific discovery as we may have been temporarily deprived of. Thus, by the burning of the Alexandrian Library and the destruction of Nineveh, the world has been for many centuries without the necessary data upon which to estimate the real knowledge, esoteric and exoteric, of the ancients. But, within the past few years, the discovery of the Rosetta stone, the Ebers, d'Aubigney, Anastasi, and other papyri, and the exhumation of the tile-libraries, have opened a field of archaeological research which is likely to lead to radical changes in this "firm and unalterable experience." The author of Supernatural Religion justly observes that "a person who believes anything contradictory to a complete induction, merely on the strength of an assumption which is incapable of proof, is simply credulous; but such an assumption cannot affect the real evidence for that thing."
In a lecture delivered by Mr. Hiram Corson, Professor of Anglo-Saxon Literature at the Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., before the alumni of St. John's College, Annapolis, in July, 1875, the lecturer thus deservedly rebukes science:
"There are things," he says, "which Science can never do, and which it is arrogant in attempting to do. There was a time when Religion and the Church went beyond their legitimate domain, and invaded and harried that of Science, and imposed a burdensome tribute upon the latter; but it would seem that their former relations to each other are undergoing an entire change, and Science has crossed its frontiers and is invading the domain of Religion and the Church, and instead of a Religious Papacy, we are in danger of being brought under a Scientific Papacy — we are in fact already brought under such a Papacy; and as in the sixteenth cen-
tury a protest was made, in the interests of intellectual freedom, against a religious and ecclesiastical despotism, so, in this nineteenth century, the spiritual and eternal interests of man demand that a protest should be made against a rapidly-developing scientific despotism, and that Scientists should not only keep within their legitimate domain of the phenomenal and the conditioned, but should 'reexamine their stock in trade, so that we may make sure how far the stock of bullion in the cellar — on the faith of whose existence so much paper has been circulating — is really the solid gold of Truth.'
"If this is not done in science as well as in ordinary business, scientists are apt to put their capital at too high a figure, and accordingly carry on a dangerously-inflated business. Even since Prof. Tyndall delivered his Belfast Address, it has been shown, by the many replies it has elicited, that the capital of the Evolution-School of Philosophy to which he belongs, is not nearly so great as it was before vaguely supposed to be by many of the non-scientific but intelligent portion of the world. It is quite surprising to a non-scientific person to be made aware of the large purely hypothetical domain which surrounds that of established science, and of which scientists often boast, as a part of their settled and available conquests."
Exactly; and at the same time denying the same privilege to others. They protest against the "miracles" of the Church, and repudiate, with as much logic, modern phenomena. In view of the admission of such scientific authorities as Dr. Youmans and others that modern science is passing through a transitional period, it would seem that it is time that people should cease to consider certain things incredible only because they are marvellous, and because they seem to oppose themselves to what we are accustomed to consider universal laws. There are not a few well-meaning men in the present century who, desiring to avenge the memory of such martyrs of science as Agrippa, Palissy, and Cardan, nevertheless fail, through lack of means, to understand their ideas rightly. They erroneously believe that the Neo-platonists gave more attention to transcendental philosophy than to exact science.
"The failures that Aristotle himself so often exhibits," remarks Professor Draper, "are no proof of the unreliability of his method, but rather of its trustworthiness. They are failures arising from want of a sufficiency of facts."*
What facts? we might inquire. A man of science cannot be expected to admit that these facts can be furnished by occult science, since he does not believe in the latter. Nevertheless, the future may demon-
* Draper: "Conflict between Religion and Science," p. 22.
strate this verity. Aristotle has bequeathed his inductive method to our scientists; but until they supplement it with "the universals of Plato," they will experience still more "failures" than the great tutor of Alexander. The universals are a matter of faith only so long as they cannot be demonstrated by reason and based on uninterrupted experience. Who of our present-day philosophers can prove by this same inductive method that the ancients did not possess such demonstrations as a consequence of their esoteric studies? Their own negations, unsupported as they are by proof, sufficiently attest that they do not always pursue the inductive method they so much boast of. Obliged as they are to base their theories, nolens volens, on the groundwork of the ancient philosophers, their modern discoveries are but the shoots put forth by the germs planted by the former. And yet even these discoveries are generally incomplete, if not abortive. Their cause is involved in obscurity and their ultimate effect unforeseen. "We are not," says Professor Youmans, "to regard past theories as mere exploded errors, nor present theories as final. The living and growing body of truth has only mantled its old integuments in the progress to a higher and more vigorous state."* This language, applied to modern chemistry by one of the first philosophical chemists and most enthusiastic scientific writers of the day, shows the transitional state in which we find modern science; but what is true of chemistry is true of all its sister sciences.
Since the advent of spiritualism, physicians and pathologists are more ready than ever to treat great philosophers like Paracelsus and Van Helmont as superstitious quacks and charlatans, and to ridicule their notions about the archaeus, or anima mundi, as well as the importance they gave to a knowledge of the machinery of the stars. And yet, how much of substantial progress has medicine effected since the days when Lord Bacon classed it among the conjectural sciences?
Such philosophers as Demokritus, Aristotle, Euripides, Epicurus, or rather his biographer, Lucretius, AEschylus, and other ancient writers, whom the materialists so willingly quote as authoritative opponents of the dreamy Platonists, were only theorists, not adepts. The latter, when they did write, either had their works burned by Christian mobs or they worded them in a way to be intelligible only to the initiated. Who of their modern detractors can warrant that he knows all about what they knew? Diocletian alone burned whole libraries of works upon the "secret arts"; not a manuscript treating on the art of making gold and silver escaped the wrath of this unpolished tyrant. Arts and civilization had attained such a development at what is now termed the archaic ages that we learn,
* Edward L. Youmans, M.D.: "A Class-book of Chemistry," p. 4.
through Champollion, that Athothi, the second king of the first dynasty, wrote a work on anatomy, and the king Necho on astrology and astronomy. Blantasus and Cynchrus were two learned geographers of those pre-Mosaic days. AElian speaks of the Egyptian Iachus, whose memory was venerated for centuries for his wonderful achievements in medicine. He stopped the progress of several epidemics, merely with certain fumigations. A work of Apollonides, surnamed Orapios, is mentioned by Theophilus, patriarch of Antioch, entitled the Divine Book, and giving the secret biography and origin of all the gods of Egypt; and Ammianus Marcellinus speaks of a secret work in which was noted the precise age of the bull Apis — a key to many a mystery and cyclic calculation. What has become of all these books, and who knows the treasures of learning they may have contained? We know but one thing for a certainty, and that is, that Pagan and Christian Vandals destroyed such literary treasures wherever they could find them; and that the emperor Alexander Severus went all over Egypt to collect the sacred books on mysticism and mythology, pillaging every temple; and that the Ethiopians — old as were the Egyptians in arts and sciences — claimed a priority of antiquity as well as of learning over them; as well they might, for they were known in India at the earliest dawn of history. We also know that Plato learned more secrets in Egypt than he was allowed to mention; and that, according to Champollion, all that is really good and scientific in Aristotle's works — so prized in our day by our modern inductionists — is due to his divine Master; and that, as a logical sequence, Plato having imparted the profound secrets he had learned from the priests of Egypt to his initiated disciples orally — who in their turn passed it from one generation to another of adepts — the latter know more of the occult powers of nature than our philosophers of the present day.
And here we may as well mention the works of Hermes Trismegistus. Who, or how many have had the opportunity to read them as they were in the Egyptian sanctuaries? In his Egyptian Mysteries, Iamblichus attributes to Hermes 1,100 books, and Seleucus reckons no less than 20,000 of his works before the period of Menes. Eusebius saw but forty-two of these "in his time," he says, and the last of the six books on medicine treated on that art as practiced in the darkest ages;* and
* Sprengel, in his "History of Medicine," makes Van Helmont appear as if disgusted with the charlatanry and ignorant presumption of Paracelsus. "The works of this latter," says Sprengel, "which he (Van Helmont) had attentively read, aroused in him the spirit of reformation; but they alone did not suffice for him, because his erudition and judgment were infinitely superior to those of that author, and he despised this mad egoist, this ignorant and ridiculous vagabond, who often seemed to have fallen into insanity." This assertion is perfectly false. We have the writings of Hel- [[Footnote continued on next page]]
Diodorus says that it was the oldest of the legislators Mnevis, the third successor of Menes, who received them from Hermes.
Of such manuscripts as have descended to us, most are but Latin retranslations of Greek translations, made principally by the Neo-platonists from the original books preserved by some adepts. Marcilius Ficinus, who was the first to publish them in Venice, in 1488, has given us mere extracts, and the most important portions seemed to have been either overlooked, or purposely omitted as too dangerous to publish in those days of Auto da fe. And so it happens now, that when a kabalist who has devoted his whole life to studying occultism, and has conquered the great secret, ventures to remark that the Kabala alone leads to the knowledge of the Absolute in the Infinite, and the Indefinite in the Finite, he is laughed at by those who because they know the impossibility of squaring the circle as a physical problem, deny the possibility of its being done in the metaphysical sense.
Psychology, according to the greatest authorities on the subject, is a department of science hitherto almost unknown. Physiology, according to Fournie, one of its French authorities, is in so bad a condition as to warrant his saying in the preface to his erudite work Physiologie du Systeme Nerveux, that "we perceive at last that not only is the physiology of the brain not worked out, but also that no physiology whatever of the nervous system exists." Chemistry has been entirely remodelled within the past few years; therefore, like all new sciences, the infant cannot be considered as very firm on its legs. Geology has not yet been able to tell anthropology how long man has existed. Astronomy, the most exact of sciences, is still speculating and bewildered about cosmic energy, and many other things as important. In anthropology, Mr. Wallace tells us, there exists a wide difference of opinion on some of the most vital questions respecting the nature and origin of man. Medicine has been pronounced by various eminent physicians to be nothing better than scientific guess-work. Everywhere incompleteness, nowhere perfection. When we look at these earnest men groping around in the dark to find the missing links of their broken chains, they seem to us like persons starting from a common, fathomless abyss by divergent paths. Each of these ends at the brink of a chasm which they cannot explore. On the
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] mont himself to refute it. In the well-known dispute between two writers, Goclenius, a professor in Marburg, who supported the great efficacy of the sympathetic salve discovered by Paracelsus, for the cure of every wound, and Father Robert, a Jesuit, who condemned all these cures, as he attributed them to the Devil, Van Helmont undertook to settle the dispute. The reason he gave for interfering was that all such disputes "affected Paracelsus as their discoverer and himself as his disciple" (see "De Magnetica Vulner.," and 1. c., p. 705).
one hand they lack the means to descend into its hidden depths, and on the other they are repulsed at each attempt by jealous sentries, who will not let them pass. And so they go on watching the lower forces of nature and from time to time initiating the public into their great discoveries. Did they not actually pounce upon vital force and catch her playing in her game of correlation with chemical and physical forces? Indeed they did. But if we ask them whence this vital force? How is it that they who had so firmly believed, but a short time since, that matter was destructible and passed out of existence, and now have learned to believe as firmly that it does not, are unable to tell us more about it? Why are they forced in this case as in many others to return to a doctrine taught by Demokritus twenty-four centuries ago?* Ask them, and they will answer: "Creation or destruction of matter, increase or diminution of matter, lies beyond the domain of science . . . her domain is confined entirely to the changes of matter . . . the domain of science lies within the limits of these changes — creation and annihilation lie outside of her domain."** Ah! no, they lie only outside the grasp of materialistic scientists. But why affirm the same of science? And if they say that "force is incapable of destruction, except by the same power which created it," then they tacitly admit the existence of such a power, and have therefore no right to throw obstacles in the way of those who, bolder than themselves, try to penetrate beyond, and find that they can only do so by lifting the Veil of Isis.
But, surely among all these inchoate branches of science, there must be some one at least complete! It seems to us that we heard a great clamor of applause, "as the voice of many waters," over the discovery of protoplasm. But, alas! when we turned to read Mr. Huxley, the learned parent of the new-born infant is found saying: "In perfect strictness, it is true that chemical investigation can tell us little or nothing, directly, of the composition of living matter, and . . . it is also in strictness, true, that WE KNOW NOTHING about the composition of any body whatever, as it is!"
This is a sad confession, indeed. It appears, then, that the Aristotelian method of induction is a failure in some cases, after all. This also seems to account for the fact that this model philosopher, with all his careful study of particulars before rising to universals, taught that the earth was in the centre of the universe; while Plato, who lost himself in
* Demokritus said that, as from nothing, nothing could be produced, so there was not anything that could ever be reduced to nothing.
** J. Le Conte: "Correlation of Vital with Chemical and Physical Forces," appendix.
the maze of Pythagorean "vagaries," and started from general principles, was perfectly versed in the heliocentric system. We can easily prove the fact, by availing ourselves of the said inductive method for Plato's benefit. We know that the Sodalian oath of the initiate into the Mysteries prevented his imparting his knowledge to the world in so many plain words. "It was the dream of his life," says Champollion, "to write a work and record in it in full the doctrines taught by the Egyptian hierophants; he often talked of it, but found himself compelled to abstain on account of the 'solemn oath.' "
And now, judging our modern-day philosophers on the vice versa method — namely, arguing from universals to particulars, and laying aside scientists as individuals to merely give our opinion of them, viewed as a whole — we are forced to suspect this highly respectable association of extremely petty feelings toward their elder, ancient, and archaic brothers. It really seems as if they bore always in mind the adage, "Put out the sun, and the stars will shine."
We have heard a French Academician, a man of profound learning, remark, that he would gladly sacrifice his own reputation to have the record of the many ridiculous mistakes and failures of his colleagues obliterated from the public memory. But these failures cannot be recalled too often in considering our claims and the subject we advocate. The time will come when the children of men of science, unless they inherit the soul-blindness of their skeptical parents, will be ashamed of the degrading materialism and narrow-mindedness of their fathers. To use an expression of the venerable William Howitt, "They hate new truths as the owl and the thief hate the sun. . . . Mere intellectual enlightenment cannot recognize the spiritual. As the sun puts out a fire, so spirit puts out the eyes of mere intellect."
It is an old, old story. From the days when the preacher wrote, "the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing," scientists have deported themselves as if the saying were written to describe their own mental condition. How faithfully Lecky, himself a rationalist, unconsciously depicts this propensity in men of science to deride all new things, in his description of the manner in which "educated men" receive an account of a miracle having taken place! "They receive it," says he, "with an absolute and even derisive incredulity, which dispenses with all examination of the evidences!" Moreover, so saturated do they become with the fashionable skepticism after once having fought their way into the Academy, that they turn about and enact the role of persecutors in their turn. "It is a curiosity of science," says Howitt, "that Benjamin Franklin, who had himself experienced the ridicule of his countrymen for his attempts to identify lightning and elec-
tricity, should have been one of the Committee of Savants, in Paris, in 1778, who examined the claims of mesmerism, and condemned it as absolute quackery!"*
If men of science would confine themselves to the discrediting of new discoveries, there might be some little excuse for them on the score of their tendency to a conservatism begotten of long habits of patient scrutiny; but they not only set up claims to originality not warranted by fact, but contemptuously dismiss all allegations that the people of ancient times knew as much and even more than themselves. Pity that in each of their laboratories there is not suspended this text from Ecclesiastes: "Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."** In the verse which follows the one here quoted, the wise man says, "There is no remembrance of former things"; so that this utterance may account for every new denial. Mr. Meldrum may exact praise for his meteorological observation of Cyclones in the Mauritius, and Mr. Baxendell, of Manchester, talk learnedly of the convection-currents of the earth, and Dr. Carpenter and Commander Maury map out for us the equatorial current, and Professor Henry show us how the moist wind deposits its burden to form rivulets and rivers, only to be again rescued from the ocean and returned to the hill-tops — but hear what Koheleth says: "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits."**
"All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again."***
The philosophy of the distribution of heat and moisture by means of ascending and descending currents between the equator and the poles, has a very recent origin; but here has the hint been lying unnoticed in our most familiar book, for nearly three thousand years. And even now, in quoting it, we are obliged to recall the fact that Solomon was a kabalist, and in the above texts, simply repeats what was written thousands of years before his time.
Cut off as they are from the accumulation of facts in one-half of the universe, and that the most important, modern scholars are naturally unable to construct a system of philosophy which will satisfy themselves, let alone others. They are like men in a coal mine, who work all day and emerge only at night, being thereby unable to appreciate or understand the beauty and glory of the sunshine. Life to them measures the term of human activity, and the future presents to their intellectual per-
* The date is incorrect; it should be 1784.
** Ecclesiastes i. 10.
*** Ibid., i. 6.
**** Ibid., i. 7.
ception only an abyss of darkness. No hope of an eternity of research, achievement, and consequent pleasure, softens the asperities of present existence; and no reward is offered for exertion but the bread-earning of to-day, and the shadowy and profitless fancy that their names may not be forgotten for some years after the grave has closed over their remains. Death to them means extinction of the flame of life, and the dispersion of the fragments of the lamp over boundless space. Said Berzelius, the great chemist, at his last hour, as he burst into tears: "Do not wonder that I weep. You will not believe me a weak man, nor think I am alarmed by what the doctor has to announce to me. I am prepared for all. But I have to bid farewell to science; and you ought not to wonder that it costs me dear."*
How bitter must be the reflections of such a great student of nature as this, to find himself forcibly interrupted midway toward the accomplishment of some great study, the construction of some great system, the discovery of some mystery which had baffled mankind for ages, but which the dying philosopher had dared hope that he might solve! Look at the world of science to-day, and see the atomic theorists, patching the tattered robes which expose the imperfections of their separate specialties! See them mending the pedestals upon which to set up again the idols which had fallen from the places where they had been worshipped before this revolutionary theory had been exhumed from the tomb of Demokritus by John Dalton! In the ocean of material science they cast their nets, only to have the meshes broken when some unexpected and monstrous problem comes their way. Its water is like the Dead Sea — bitter to the taste; so dense, that they can scarcely immerse themselves in it, much less dive to its bottom, having no outlet, and no life beneath its waves, or along its margin. It is a dark, forbidding, trackless waste; yielding nothing worth the having, because what it yields is without life and without soul.
There was a period of time when the learned Academics made themselves particularly merry at the simple enunciation of some marvels which the ancients gave as having occurred under their own observations. What poor dolts — perhaps liars, these appeared in the eyes of an enlightened century! Did not they actually describe horses and other animals, the feet of which presented some resemblance to the hands and feet of men? And in A.D. 1876, we hear Mr. Huxley giving learned lectures in which the protohippus, rejoicing in a quasi-human fore-arm, and the orohippus with his four toes and Eocene origin, and the hypothetical pedactyl equus, maternal grand-uncle of the present horse, play
* Siljestrom: "Minnesfest ofver Berzelius," p. 79.
the most important part. The marvel is corroborated! Materialistic Pyrrhonists of the nineteenth century avenge the assertions of superstitious Platonists; the antediluvian gobe-mouches. And before Mr. Huxley, Geoffroi St. Hilaire has shown an instance of a horse which positively had fingers separated by membranes.* When the ancients spoke of a pigmy race in Africa, they were taxed with falsehood. And yet, pigmies like these were seen and examined by a French scientist during his voyage in the Tenda Maia, on the banks of the Rio Grande in 1840;** by Bayard Taylor at Cairo, in 1874; and by M. Bond, of the Indian Trigonometrical Survey, who discovered a wild dwarfish race, living in the hill-jungles of the western Galitz, to the southwest of the Palini Hills, a race, though often heard of, no trace of which had previously been found by the survey. "This is a new pigmy race, resembling the African Obongos of du Chaillu, the Akkas of Schweinfurth, and the Dokos of Dr. Krapf, in their size, appearance, and habits."**
Herodotus was regarded as a lunatic for speaking of a people who he was told slept during a night which lasted six months. If we explain the word "slept" by an easy misunderstanding it will be more than easy to account for the rest as an allusion to the night of the Polar Regions.*** Pliny has an abundance of facts in his work, which until very recently, were rejected as fables. Among others, he mentions a race of small animals, the males of which suckle their young ones. This assertion afforded much merriment among our savants. In his Report of the Geological Survey of the Territories, for 1872, Mr. C. H. Merriam describes a rare and wonderful species of rabbit (Lepus Bairdi) inhabiting the pine-regions about the head-waters of the Wind and Yellowstone Rivers, in Wyoming.**** Mr. Merriam secured five specimens of this animal, "which . . . are the first individuals of the species that have been brought before the scientific world. One very curious fact is that all the males have teats, and take part in suckling their young! . . . Adult males had large teats full of milk, and the hair around the nipple of one was wet, and stuck to it, showing that, when taken, he had been engaged in nursing his young." In the Carthaginian account of the early voyages of Hanno,***** was found a long description of "savage people . . . whose bodies were hairy and whom the interpreters called gorillae"; [[anthropon agrion]] as the text reads, clearly implying thereby that
* "Seance de l'Academie de Paris," 13 Aout, 1807.
** Mollien: "Voyage dans l'interieur de l'Afrique," tome ii., p. 210.
*** "The Popular Science Monthly," May, 1876, p. 110.
**** Malte-Brun, pp. 372, 373; Herodotus.
***** "The Popular Science Monthly," Dec., 1874, p. 252, New York.
****** The "Periplus of Hanno."
these wild men were monkeys. Until our present century, the statement was considered an idle story, and Dodwell rejected altogether the authenticity of the manuscript and its contents.* The celebrated Atlantis is attributed by the latest modern commentator and translator of Plato's works to one of Plato's "noble lies."** Even the frank admission of the philosopher, in the Timaeus, that "they say, that in their time . . . the inhabitants of this island (Poseidon) preserved a tradition handed down by their ancestors concerning the existence of the Atlantic island of a prodigious magnitude . . . etc."*** does not save the great teacher from the imputation of falsehood, by the "infallible modern school."
Among the great mass of peoples plunged deep in the superstitious ignorance of the mediaeval ages, there were but a few students of the Hermetic philosophy of old, who, profiting by what it had taught them, were enabled to forecast discoveries which are the boast of our present age; while at the same time the ancestors of our modern high-priests of the temple of the Holy Molecule, were yet discovering the hoof-tracks of Satan in the simplest natural phenomenon. Says Professor A. Wilder: "Roger Bacon (thirteenth century), in his treatise on the Admirable Force of Art and Nature, devotes the first part of his work to natural facts. He gives us hints of gunpowder and predicts the use of steam as a propelling power. The hydraulic press, the diving bell and kaleidoscope are all described."****
The ancients speak of waters metamorphosed into blood; of blood-rain, of snow-storms during which the earth was covered to the extent of many miles with snow of blood. This fall of crimson particles has been proved, like everything else, to be but a natural phenomenon. It has occurred at different epochs, but the cause of it remains a puzzle until the present day.
De Candolle, one of the most distinguished botanists of this century, sought to prove in 1825, at the time when the waters of the lake of Morat had apparently turned into a thick blood, that the phenomenon could be easily accounted for. He attributed it to the development of myriads of those half-vegetable, half-infusory animals which he terms Oscellatoria rubescens, and which form the link between animal and vegetable organisms.***** Elsewhere we give an account of the red snow
* The original was suspended in the temple of Saturn, at Carthage. Falconer gave two dissertations on it, and agrees with Bougainville in referring it to the sixth century before the Christian era. See Cory's "Ancient Fragments."
** Professor Jowett.
*** "On the Atlantic Island (from Marcellus) Ethiopic History."
**** "Alchemy, or the Hermetic Philosophy."
***** See "Revue Encyclopedique," vol. xxxiii., p. 676.
which Captain Ross observed in the Arctic regions. Many memoirs have been written on the subject by the most eminent naturalists, but no two of them agree in their hypotheses. Some call it "pollen powder of a species of pine"; others, small insects; and Professor Agardt confesses very frankly that he is at a loss to either account for the cause of such phenomena, or to explain the nature of the red substance.*
The unanimous testimony of mankind is said to be an irrefutable proof of truth; and about what was ever testimony more unanimous than that for thousands of ages among civilized people as among the most barbarous, there has existed a firm and unwavering belief in magic? The latter implies a contravention of the laws of nature only in the minds of the ignorant; and if such ignorance is to be deplored in the ancient uneducated nations, why do not our civilized and highly-educated classes of fervent Christians, deplore it also in themselves? The mysteries of the Christian religion have been no more able to stand a crucial test than biblical miracles. Magic alone, in the true sense of the word, affords a clew to the wonders of Aaron's rod, and the feats of the magi of Pharaoh, who opposed Moses; and it does that without either impairing the general truthfulness of the authors of the Exodus, or claiming more for the prophet of Israel than for others, or allowing the possibility of a single instance in which a "miracle" can happen in contravention of the laws of nature. Out of many "miracles," we may select for our illustration that of the "river turned into blood." The text says: "Take thy rod and stretch out thine hand (with the rod in it) upon the waters, streams, etc. . . . that they may become blood."
We do not hesitate to say that we have seen the same thing repeatedly done on a small scale, the experiment not having been applied to a river in these cases. From the time of Van Helmont, who, in the seventeenth century, despite the ridicule to which he exposed himself, was willing to give the true directions for the so-called production of eels, frogs, and infusoria of various kinds, down to the champions of spontaneous generation of our own century, it has been known that such a quickening of germs is possible without calling in the aid of miracle to contravene natural law. The experiments of Pasteur and Spallanzani, and the controversy of the panspermists with the heterogenists — disciples of Buffon, among them Needham — have too long occupied public attention to permit us to doubt that beings may be called into existence whenever there is air and favorable conditions of moisture and temperature. The records of the official meetings of the Academy of Sciences of Paris**
* "Bulletin de la Soc. Geograph.," vol. vi., pp. 209-220.
** See "Revue Encyclopedique," vols. xxxiii. and xxxiv., pp. 676-395.
contain accounts of frequent appearances of such showers of blood-red snow and water. These blood-spots were called lepra vestuum, and were but these lichen-infusoria. They were first observed in 786 and 959, in both of which years occurred great plagues. Whether these zoocarps were plants or animals is undetermined to this day, and no naturalist would risk stating as a certainty to what division of the organic kingdom of nature they belong. No more can modern chemists deny that such germs can be quickened, in a congenial element, in an incredibly short space of time. Now, if chemistry has, on the one hand, found means of depriving the air of its floating germs, and under opposite conditions can develop, or allow these organisms to develop, why could not the magicians of Egypt do so "with their enchantments"? It is far easier to imagine that Moses, who, on the authority of Manetho, had been an Egyptian priest, and had learned all the secrets of the land of Chemia, produced "miracles" according to natural laws, than that God Himself violated the established order of His universe. We repeat that we have seen this sanguification of water produced by Eastern adepts. It can be done in either of two ways: In one case the experimenter employed a magnetic rod strongly electrified, which he passed over a quantity of water in a metallic basin, following a prescribed process, which we have no right to describe more fully at present; the water threw up in about ten hours a sort of reddish froth, which after two hours more became a kind of lichen, like the lepraria kermasina of Baron Wrangel. It then changed into a blood-red jelly, which made of the water a crimson liquid that, twenty-four hours later, swarmed with living organisms. The second experiment consisted in thickly strowing the surface of a sluggish brook, having a muddy bottom, with the powder of a plant that had been dried in the sun and subsequently pulverized. Although this powder was seemingly carried off by the stream, some of it must have settled to the bottom, for on the following morning the water thickened at the surface and appeared covered with what de Candolle describes as Oscellatoria rubescens, of a crimson-red color, and which he believes to be the connecting link between vegetable and animal life.
Taking the above into consideration, we do not see why the learned alchemists and physicists — physicists, we say — of the Mosaic period should not also have possessed the natural secret of developing in a few hours myriads of a kind of these bacteria, whose spores are found in the air, the water, and most vegetable and animal tissues. The rod plays as important a part in the hands of Aaron and Moses as it did in all so-called "magic mummeries" of kabalist-magicians in the middle ages, that are now considered superstitious foolery and charlatanism. The rod of Paracelsus (his kabalistic trident) and the famous wands of Albertus Magnus,
Roger Bacon, and Henry Kunrath, are no more to be ridiculed than the graduating-rod of our electro-magnetic physicians. Things which appeared preposterous and impossible to the ignorant quacks and even learned scientists of the last century, now begin to assume the shadowy outlines of probability, and in many cases are accomplished facts. Nay, some learned quacks and ignorant scientists even begin to admit this truth.
In a fragment preserved by Eusebius, Porphyry, in his Letter to Anebo, appeals to Choeremon, the "hierogrammatist," to prove that the doctrine of the magic arts, whose adepts "could terrify even the gods," was really countenanced by Egyptian sages.* Now, bearing in mind the rule of historical evidence propounded by Mr. Huxley, in his Nashville address, two conclusions present themselves with irresistible force: First, Porphyry, being in such unquestioned repute as a highly moral and honorable man, not given to exaggeration in his statements, was incapable of telling a lie about this matter, and did not lie; and second, that being so learned in every department of human knowledge about which he treats,** it was most unlikely that he should be imposed upon as regards the magic "arts," and he was not imposed upon. Therefore, the doctrine of chances supporting the theory of Professor Huxley, compels us to believe, 1, That there was really such a thing as magic "arts"; and, 2, That they were known and practiced by the Egyptian magicians and priests, whom even Sir David Brewster concedes to have been men of profound scientific attainments.
* Porphyry: "Epistola ad Anebo., ap. Euseb. Praep. Evangel," v. 10; Iamblichus: "De Mysteriis AEgypt."; Porphyrii: "Epistola ad Anebonem AEgyptium."
** "Porphyry," says the "Classical Dictionary" of Lempriere, "was a man of universal information, and, according to the testimony of the ancients, he excelled his contemporaries in the knowledge of history, mathematics, music, and philosophy."