"Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence
And fills up all the mighty void of sense. . . . " — Pope.
"But why should the operations of nature be changed? There may be a deeper philosophy than we dream of — a philosophy that discovers the secrets of nature, but does not alter, by penetrating them, its course." — Bulwer.
Is it enough for man to know that he exists? Is it enough to be formed a human being to enable him to deserve the appellation of man? It is our decided impression and conviction, that to become a genuine spiritual entity, which that designation implies, man must first create himself anew, so to speak — i.e., thoroughly eliminate from his mind and spirit, not only the dominating influence of selfishness and other impurity, but also the infection of superstition and prejudice. The latter is far different from what we commonly term antipathy or sympathy. We are at first irresistibly or unwittingly drawn within its dark circle by that peculiar influence, that powerful current of magnetism which emanates from ideas as well as from physical bodies. By this we are surrounded, and finally prevented through moral cowardice — fear of public opinion — from stepping out of it. It is rare that men regard a thing in either its true or false light, accepting the conclusion by the free action of their own judgment. Quite the reverse. The conclusion is more commonly reached by blindly adopting the opinion current at the hour among those with whom they associate. A church member will not pay an absurdly high price for his pew any more than a materialist will go twice to listen to Mr. Huxley's talk on evolution, because they think that it is right to do so; but merely because Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so have done it, and these personages are the S---- and S----'s.
The same holds good with everything else. If psychology had had its Darwin, the descent of man as regards moral qualities might have been found inseparably linked with that of his physical form. Society in its servile condition suggests to the intelligent observer of its mimicry a kinship between the Simia and human beings even more striking than is exhibited in the external marks pointed out by the great anthropologist.
The many varieties of the ape — "mocking presentments of ourselves" — appear to have been evolved on purpose to supply a certain class of expensively-dressed persons with the material for genealogical trees.
Science is daily and rapidly moving toward the great discoveries in chemistry and physics, organology, and anthropology. Learned men ought to be free from preconceptions and prejudices of every kind; yet, although thought and opinion are now free, scientists are still the same men as of old. An Utopian dreamer is he who thinks that man ever changes with the evolution and development of new ideas. The soil may be well fertilized and made to yield with every year a greater and better variety of fruit; but, dig a little deeper than the stratum required for the crop, and the same earth will be found in the subsoil as was there before the first furrow was turned.
Not many years ago, the person who questioned the infallibility of some theological dogma was branded at once an iconoclast and an infidel. Vae victis! . . . Science has conquered. But in its turn the victor claims the same infallibility, though it equally fails to prove its right. "Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis," the saying of the good old Lotharius, applies to the case. Nevertheless, we feel as if we had some right to question the high-priests of science.
For many years we have watched the development and growth of that apple of discord — modern spiritualism. Familiar with its literature both in Europe and America, we have closely and eagerly witnessed its interminable controversies and compared its contradictory hypotheses. Many educated men and women — heterodox spiritualists, of course — have tried to fathom the Protean phenomena. The only result was that they came to the following conclusion: whatever may be the reason of these constant failures — whether such are to be laid at the door of the investigators themselves, or of the secret Force at work — it is at least proved that, in proportion as the psychological manifestations increase in frequency and variety, the darkness surrounding their origin becomes more impenetrable.
That phenomena are actually witnessed, mysterious in their nature — generally and perhaps wrongly termed spiritual — it is now idle to deny. Allowing a large discount for clever fraud, what remains is quite serious enough to demand the careful scrutiny of science. "E pur se muove," the sentence spoken ages since, has passed into the category of household words. The courage of Galileo is not now required to fling it into the face of the Academy. Psychological phenomena are already on the offensive.
The position assumed by modern scientists is that even though the occurrence of certain mysterious phenomena in the presence of the
mediums be a fact, there is no proof that they are not due to some abnormal nervous condition of those individuals. The possibility that they may be produced by returning human spirits need not be considered until the other question is decided. Little exception can be taken to this position. Unquestionably, the burden of proof rests upon those who assert the agency of spirits. If the scientists would grapple with the subject in good faith, showing an earnest desire to solve the perplexing mystery, instead of treating it with undignified and unprofessional contempt, they would be open to no censure. True, the great majority of "spiritual" communications are calculated to disgust investigators of even moderate intelligence. Even when genuine they are trivial, commonplace, and often vulgar. During the past twenty years we have received through various mediums messages purporting to be from Shakespere, Byron, Franklin, Peter the Great, Napoleon and Josephine, and even from Voltaire. The general impression made upon us was that the French conqueror and his consort seemed to have forgotten how to spell words correctly; Shakespere and Byron had become chronic inebriates; and Voltaire had turned an imbecile. Who can blame men trained to habits of exactitude, or even simply well-educated persons, for hastily concluding that when so much palpable fraud lies upon the surface, there could hardly be truth if they should go to the bottom? The huckstering about of pompous names attached to idiotic communications has given the scientific stomach such an indigestion that it cannot assimilate even the great truth which lies on the telegraphic plateaux of this ocean of psychological phenomena. They judge by its surface, covered with froth and scum. But they might with equal propriety deny that there is any clear water in the depths of the sea when an oily scum was floating upon the surface. Therefore, if on one hand we cannot very well blame them for stepping back at the first sight of what seems really repulsive, we do, and have a right to censure them for their unwillingness to explore deeper. Neither pearls nor cut diamonds are to be found lying loose on the ground; and these persons act as unwisely as would a professional diver, who should reject an oyster on account of its filthy and slimy appearance, when by opening it he might find a precious pearl inside the shell.
Even the just and severe rebukes of some of their leading men are of no avail and the fear on the part of men of science to investigate such an unpopular subject, seems to have now become a general panic. "The phenomena chase the scientists, and the scientists run away from the phenomena," very pointedly remarks M. A. N. Aksakof in an able article on Mediumism and the St. Petersburg Scientific Committee. The attitude
of this body of professors toward the subject which they had pledged themselves to investigate was throughout simply disgraceful. Their premature and prearranged report was so evidently partial and inconclusive as to call out a scornful protest even from unbelievers.
The inconsistency of the logic of our learned gentlemen against the philosophy of spiritualism proper is admirably pointed out by Professor John Fisk — one of their own body. In a recent philosophical work, The Unseen World, while showing that from the very definition of the terms, ,matter and spirit, the existence of spirit cannot be demonstrated to the senses, and that thus no theory is amenable to scientific tests, he deals a severe blow at his colleagues in the following lines:
"The testimony in such a case," he says, "must, under the conditions of the present life, be forever inaccessible. It lies wholly outside the range of experience. However abundant it may be, we cannot expect to meet it. And, accordingly, our failure to produce it does not raise even the slightest presumption against our theory. When conceived in this way, the belief in the future life is without scientific support, but at the same time it is placed beyond the need of scientific support and the range of scientific criticism. It is a belief which no imaginable future advance of physical discovery can in any way impugn. It is a belief which is in no sense irrational, and which may be logically entertained without in the least affecting our scientific habit of mind, or influencing our scientific conclusions." "If now," he adds, "men of science will accept the position that spirit is not matter, nor governed by the laws of matter, and refrain from speculations concerning it restricted by their knowledge of material things, they will withdraw what is to men of religion, at present, their principal cause of irritation."
But, they will do no such thing. They feel incensed at the brave, loyal, and highly commendable surrender of such superior men as Wallace, and refuse to accept even the prudent and restrictive policy of Mr. Crookes.
No other claim is advanced for a hearing of the opinions contained in the present work than that they are based upon many years' study of both ancient magic and its modern form, Spiritualism. The former, even now, when phenomena of the same nature have become so familiar to all, is commonly set down as clever jugglery. The latter, when overwhelming evidence precludes the possibility of truthfully declaring it charlatanry, is denominated an universal hallucination.
Many years of wandering among "heathen" and "Christian" magicians, occultists, mesmerisers; and the tutti quanti of white and black art, ought to be sufficient, we think, to give us a certain right to
feel competent to take a practical view of this doubted and very complicated question. We have associated with the fakirs, the holy men of India, and seen them when in intercourse with the Pitris. We have watched the proceedings and modus operandi of the howling and dancing dervishes; held friendly communications with the marabouts of European and Asiatic Turkey; and the serpent-charmers of Damascus and Benares have but few secrets that we have not had the fortune to study. Therefore, when scientists who have never had an opportunity of living among these oriental jugglers and can judge at the best but superficially, tell us that there is naught in their performances but mere tricks of prestidigitation, we cannot help feeling a profound regret for such hasty conclusions. That such pretentious claims should be made to a thorough analysis of the powers of nature, and at the same time such unpardonable neglect displayed of questions of purely physiological and psychological character, and astounding phenomena rejected without either examination or appeal, is an exhibition of inconsistency, strongly savoring of timidity, if not of moral obliquity.
If, therefore, we should ever receive from some contemporaneous Faraday the same fling that that gentleman made years since, when, with more sincerity than good breeding, he said that "many dogs have the power of coming to much more logical conclusions than some spiritualists,"* we fear we must still persist. Abuse is not argument, least of all, proof. Because such men as Huxley and Tyndall denominate spiritualism "a degrading belief" and oriental magic "jugglery," they cannot thereby take from truth its verity. Skepticism, whether it proceeds from a scientific or an ignorant brain, is unable to overturn the immortality of our souls — if such immortality is a fact — and plunge them into post-mortem annihilation. "Reason is subject to error," says Aristotle; so is opinion; and the personal views of the most learned philosopher are often more liable to be proved erroneous, than the plain common sense of his own illiterate cook. In the Tales of the Impious Khalif, Barrachias-Hassan-Oglu, the Arabian sage holds a wise discourse: "Beware, O my son, of self-incense," he says. "It is the most dangerous, on account of its agreeable intoxication. Profit by thy own wisdom, but learn to respect the wisdom of thy fathers likewise. And remember, O my beloved, that the light of Allah's truth will often penetrate much easier an empty head, than one that is so crammed with learning that many a silver ray is crowded out for want of space; . . . such is the case with our over-wise Kadi."
These representatives of modern science in both hemispheres seem never to have exhibited more scorn, or to have felt more bitterly toward the unsolvable mystery, than since Mr. Crookes began the investigation of the phenomena, in London. This courageous gentleman was the first to introduce to the public one of those alleged "materialized" sentries that guard the forbidden gates. Following after him, several other learned members of the scientific body had the rare integrity, combined with a degree of courage, which, in view of the unpopularity of the subject, may be deemed heroic, to take the phenomena in hand.
But, alas! although the spirit, indeed, was willing, the mortal flesh proved weak. Ridicule was more than the majority of them could bear; and so, the heaviest burden was thrown upon the shoulders of Mr. Crookes. An account of the benefit this gentleman reaped from his disinterested investigations, and the thanks he received from his own brother scientists, can be found in his three pamphlets, entitled, Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism.
After a while, the members appointed on the Committee of the Dialectical Society and Mr. Crookes, who had applied to his mediums the most crucial tests, were forced by an impatient public to report in so many plain words what they had seen. But what could they say, except the truth? Thus, they were compelled to acknowledge: 1st. That the phenomena which they, at least, had witnessed, were genuine, and impossible to simulate; thus showing that manifestations produced by some unknown force, could and did happen. 2d. That, whether the phenomena were produced by disembodied spirits or other analogous entities, they could not tell; but that manifestations, thoroughly upsetting many preconceived theories as to natural laws, did happen and were undeniable. Several of these occurred in their own families. 3d. That, notwithstanding all their combined efforts to the contrary, beyond the indisputable fact of the reality of the phenomena, "glimpses of natural action not yet reduced to law,"* they, to borrow the expression of the Count de Gabalis, "could make neither head nor tail on't."
Now this was precisely what a skeptical public had not bargained for. The discomfiture of the believers in spiritualism had been impatiently anticipated before the conclusions of Messrs. Crookes, Varley, and the Dialectical Society were announced. Such a confession on the part of their brother-scientists was too humiliating for the pride of even those who had timorously abstained from investigation. It was regarded as really too much, that such vulgar and repulsive manifestations of phe-
nomena which had always, by common consent of educated people, been regarded as nursery tales, fit only to amuse hysterical servant-girls and afford revenue to professional somnambulists — that manifestations which had been consigned by the Academy and Institute of Paris to oblivion, should so impertinently elude detection at the hands of experts in physical sciences.
A tornado of indignation followed the confession. Mr. Crookes depicts it in his pamphlet on Psychic Force. He heads it very pointedly with the quotation from Galvani: "I am attacked by two very opposite sects — the scientists and the know-nothings, yet I know that I have discovered one of the greatest forces in nature. . . ." He then proceeds:
"It was taken for granted that the results of my experiments would be in accordance with their preconceptions. What they really desired was not the truth, but an additional witness in favor of their own foregone conclusions. When they found the facts which that investigation established could not be made to fit those opinions, why, . . . so much the worse for the facts. They try to creep out of their own confident recommendations of the inquiry, by declaring 'that Mr. Home is a clever conjurer who has duped us all.' 'Mr. Crookes might, with equal propriety, examine the performances of an Indian juggler.' 'Mr. Crookes must get better witnesses before he can be believed.' 'The thing is too absurd to be treated seriously.' 'It is impossible, and therefore can't be.' . . . (I never said it was impossible, I only said it was true.) 'The observers have all been biologized, and fancy they saw things occur which really never took place,' etc., etc., etc."*
After expending their energy on such puerile theories as "unconscious cerebration," "involuntary muscular contraction," and the sublimely ridiculous one of the "cracking knee-joints" (le muscle craqueur); after meeting ignominious failures by the obstinate survival of the new force, and finally, after every desperate effort to compass its obliteration, these filii diffidentiae — as St. Paul calls their class — thought best to give up the whole thing in disgust. Sacrificing their courageously persevering brethren as a holocaust on the altar of public opinion, they withdrew in dignified silence. Leaving the arena of investigation to more fearless champions, these unlucky experimenters are not likely to ever enter it again.† It is easier by far to deny the reality of such manifestations from a secure distance, than find for them a proper place among the classes of
natural phenomena accepted by exact science. And how can they, since all such phenomena pertain to psychology, and the latter, with its occult and mysterious powers, is a terra incognita for modern science. Thus, powerless to explain that which proceeds directly from the nature of the human soul itself — the existence of which most of them deny — unwilling at the same time to confess their ignorance, scientists retaliate very unjustly on those who believe in the evidence of their senses without any pretence to science.
"A kick from thee, O Jupiter! is sweet," says the poet Tretiakowsky, in an old Russian tragedy. Rude as those Jupiters of science may be occasionally toward us credulous mortals, their vast learning — in less abstruse questions, we mean — if not their manners, entitles them to public respect. But unfortunately it is not the gods who shout the loudest.
The eloquent Tertullian, speaking of Satan and his imps, whom he accuses of ever mimicking the Creator's works, denominates them the "monkeys of God." It is fortunate for the philosophicules that we have no modern Tertullian to consign them to an immortality of contempt as the "monkeys of science."
But to return to genuine scientists. "Phenomena of a merely objective character," says A. N. Aksakof, "force themselves upon the representatives of exact sciences for investigation and explanation; but the high-priests of science, in the face of apparently such a simple question . . . are totally disconcerted! This subject seems to have the privilege of forcing them to betray, not only the highest code of morality — truth, but also the supreme law of science — experiment! . . . They feel that there is something too serious underlying it. The cases of Hare, Crookes, de Morgan, Varley, Wallace, and Butleroff create a panic! They fear that as soon as they concede one step, they will have to yield the whole ground. Time-honored principles, the contemplative speculations of a whole life, of a long line of generations, are all staked on a single card!"*
In the face of such experience as that of Crookes and the Dialectical Society, of Wallace and the late Professor Hare, what can we expect from our luminaries of erudition? Their attitude toward the undeniable phenomena is in itself another phenomenon. It is simply incomprehensible, unless we admit the possibility of another psychological disease, as mysterious and contagious as hydrophobia. Although we claim no honor for this new discovery, we nevertheless propose to recognize it under the name of scientific psychophobia.
They ought to have learned by this time, in the school of bitter experience, that they can rely on the self-sufficiency of the positive sciences only to a certain point; and that, so long as there remains one single unexplained mystery in nature, the word "impossible" is a dangerous word for them to pronounce.
In the Researches on the Phenomena of Spiritualism, Mr. Crookes submits to the option of the reader eight theories "to account for the phenomena observed."
These theories run as follows:
The first of these theories having been proved valid only in exceptional, though unfortunately still too frequent cases, must be ruled out as having no material bearing upon the phenomena themselves. Theories the second and the third are the last crumbling entrenchments of the guerilla of skeptics and materialists, and remain, as lawyers say, "Adhuc sub judice lis est." Thus, we can deal in this work but with the four remaining ones, the last, eighth, theory being according to Mr. Crookes's opinion, but "a necessary adjunct" of the others.
How subject even a scientific opinion is to error, we may see, if we only compare the several articles on spiritual phenomena from the able
pen of that gentleman, which appeared from 1870 to 1875. In one of the first we read: . . . "the increased employment of scientific methods will promote exact observations and greater love of truths among inquirers, and will produce a race of observers who will drive the worthless residuum of spiritualism hence into the unknown limbo of magic and necromancy." And in 1875, we read, over his own signature, minute and most interesting descriptions of the materialized spirit — Katie King!*
It is hardly possible to suppose that Mr. Crookes could be under electro-biological influence or hallucination for two or three consecutive years. The "spirit" appeared in his own house, in his library, under the most crucial tests, and was seen, felt, and heard by hundreds of persons.
But Mr. Crookes denies that he ever took Katie King for a disembodied spirit. What was it then? If it was not Miss Florence Cook, and his word is our sufficient guarantee for it — then it was either the spirit of one who had lived on earth, or one of those that come directly under the sixth theory of the eight the eminent scientist offers to the public choice. It must have been one of the classes named: Fairies, Kobolds, Gnomes, Elves, Goblins, or a Puck.†
Yes; Katie King must have been a fairy — a Titania. For to a fairy only could be applied with propriety the following poetic effusion which Mr. Crookes quotes in describing this wonderful spirit:
"Round her she made an atmosphere of life;
The very air seemed lighter from her eyes;
They were so soft and beautiful and rife
With all we can imagine of the skies;
Her overpowering presence makes you feel
It would not be idolatry to kneel!"‡
And thus, after having written, in 1870, his severe sentence against spiritualism and magic; after saying that even at that moment he believed "the whole affair a superstition, or, at least, an unexplained trick — a delusion of the senses;"§ Mr. Crookes, in 1875, closes his letter with the following memorable words: — "To imagine, I say, the Katie King of the last three years to be the result of imposture does more violence to one's reason and common sense than to believe her to be what she herself affirms."|| This last remark, moreover, conclusively proves that:
1. Notwithstanding Mr. Crookes's full convictions that the somebody calling herself Katie King was neither the medium nor some confederate, but on the contrary an unknown force in nature, which — like love — "laughs at locksmiths"; 2. That that hitherto unrecognized form of Force, albeit it had become with him "not a matter of opinion, but of absolute knowledge," — the eminent investigator still did not abandon to the last his skeptical attitude toward the question. In short, he firmly believes in the phenomenon, but cannot accept the idea of its being the human spirit of a departed somebody.
It seems to us, that, as far as public prejudice goes, Mr. Crookes solves one mystery by creating a still deeper one: the obscurum per obscurius. In other words, rejecting "the worthless residuum of spiritualism," the courageous scientist fearlessly plunges into his own "unknown limbo of magic and necromancy!"
The recognized laws of physical science account for but a few of the more objective of the so-called spiritual phenomena. While proving the reality of certain visible effects of an unknown force, they have not thus far enabled scientists to control at will even this portion of the phenomena. The truth is that the professors have not yet discovered the necessary conditions of their occurrence. They must go as deeply into the study of the triple nature of man — physiological, psychological, and divine — as did their predecessors, the magicians, theurgists, and thaumaturgists of old. Until the present moment, even those who have investigated the phenomena as thoroughly and impartially as Mr. Crookes, have set aside the cause as something not to be discovered now, if ever. They have troubled themselves no more about that than about the first cause of the cosmic phenomena of the correlation of forces, whose endless effects they are at such pains to observe and classify. Their course has been as unwise as that of a man who should attempt to discover the sources of a river by exploring toward its mouth. It has so narrowed their views of the possibilities of natural law that very simple forms of occult phenomena have necessitated their denial that they can occur unless miracles were possible; and this being a scientific absurdity the result has been that physical science has latterly been losing prestige. If scientists had studied the so-called "miracles" instead of denying them, many secret laws of nature comprehended by the ancients would have been again discovered. "Conviction," says Bacon, "comes not through arguments but through experiments."
The ancients were always distinguished — especially the Chaldean astrologers and Magians — for their ardent love and pursuit of knowledge in every branch of science. They tried to penetrate the secrets of na-
ture in the same way as our modern naturalists, and by the only method by which this object can be obtained, namely: by experimental researches and reason. If our modern philosophers cannot apprehend the fact that they penetrated deeper than themselves into the mysteries of the universe, this does not constitute a valid reason why the credit of possessing this knowledge should be denied them or the imputation of superstition laid at their door. Nothing warrants the charge; and every new archaeological discovery militates against the assumption. As chemists they were unequalled, and in his famous lecture on The Lost Arts, Wendell Phillips says: "The chemistry of the most ancient period had reached a point which we have never even approached." The secret of the malleable glass, which, "if supported by one end by its own weight, in twenty hours dwindles down to a fine line that you can curve around your wrist," would be as difficult to rediscover in our civilized countries as to fly to the moon.
The fabrication of a cup of glass which was brought by an exile to Rome in the reign of Tiberius, — a cup "which he dashed upon the marble pavement, and it was not crushed nor broken by the fall," and which, as it got "dented some" was easily brought into shape again with a hammer, is a historic fact. If it is doubted now it is merely because the moderns cannot do the same. And yet, in Samarkand and some monasteries of Thibet such cups and glass-ware may be found to this day; nay, there are persons who claim that they can make the same by virtue of their knowledge of the much-ridiculed and ever-doubted alkahest — the universal solvent. This agent that Paracelsus and Van Helmont maintain to be a certain fluid in nature, "capable of reducing all sublunary bodies, as well homogeneous as mixed, into their ens primum, or the original matter of which they are composed; or into an uniform, equable, and potable liquor, that will unite with water, and the juices of all bodies, and yet retain its own radical virtues; and, if again mixed with itself will thereby be converted into pure elementary water": what impossibilities prevent our crediting the statement? Why should it not exist and why the idea be considered Utopian? Is it again because our modern chemists are unable to produce it? But surely it may be conceived without any great effort of imagination that all bodies must have originally come from some first matter, and that this matter, according to the lessons of astronomy, geology and physics, must have been a fluid. Why should not gold — of whose genesis our scientists know so little — have been originally a primitive or basic matter of gold, a ponderous fluid which, as says Van Helmont, "from its own nature, or a strong cohesion between its particles, acquired afterward a solid form?"
There seems to be very little absurdity to believe in a "universal ens that resolves all bodies into their ens genitale." Van Helmont calls it "the highest and most successful of all salts; which having obtained the supreme degree of simplicity, purity, subtilty, enjoys alone the faculty of remaining unchanged and unimpaired by the subjects it works upon, and of dissolving the most stubborn and untractable bodies; as stones, gems, glass, earth, sulphur, metals, etc., into red salt, equal in weight to the matter dissolved; and this with as much ease as hot water melts down snow."
It is into this fluid that the makers of malleable glass claimed, and now claim, that they immersed common glass for several hours, to acquire the property of malleability.
We have a ready and palpable proof of such possibilities. A foreign correspondent of the Theosophical Society, a well-known medical practitioner, and one who has studied the occult sciences for upward of thirty years, has succeeded in obtaining what he terms the "true oil of gold," i.e., the primal element. Chemists and physicists have seen and examined it, and were driven to confess that they neither knew how it was obtained nor could they do the same. That he desires his name to remain unknown is not to be wondered at; ridicule and public prejudice are more dangerous sometimes than the inquisition of old. This "Adamic earth" is next-door neighbor to the alkahest, and one of the most important secrets of the alchemists. No Kabalist will reveal it to the world, for, as he expresses it in the well-known jargon: "it would explain the eagles of the alchemists, and how the eagles' wings are clipped," a secret that it took Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philalethes) twenty years to learn.
As the dawn of physical science broke into a glaring day-light, the spiritual sciences merged deeper and deeper into night, and in their turn they were denied. So, now, these greatest masters in psychology are looked upon as "ignorant and superstitious ancestors"; as mountebanks and jugglers, because, forsooth, the sun of modern learning shines to-day so bright, it has become an axiom that the philosophers and men of science of the olden time knew nothing, and lived in a night of superstition. But their traducers forget that the sun of to-day will seem dark by comparison with the luminary of to-morrow, whether justly or not; and as the men of our century think their ancestors ignorant, so will perhaps their descendants count them for know-nothings. The world moves in cycles. The coming races will be but the reproductions of races long bygone; as we, perhaps, are the images of those who lived a hundred centuries ago. The time will come when those who now in public slan-
der the hermetists, but ponder in secret their dust-covered volumes; who plagiarize their ideas, assimilate and give them out as their own — will receive their dues. "Who," honestly exclaims Pfaff — "what man has ever taken more comprehensive views of nature than Paracelsus? He was the bold creator of chemical medicines; the founder of courageous parties; victorious in controversy, belonging to those spirits who have created amongst us a new mode of thinking on the natural existence of things. What he scattered through his writings on the philosopher's stone, on pigmies and spirits of the mines; on signs, on homunculi, and the elixir of life, and which are employed by many to lower his estimation, cannot extinguish our grateful remembrance of his general works, nor our admiration of his free, bold exertions, and his noble, intellectual life."*
More than one pathologist, chemist, homoeopathist, and magnetist has quenched his thirst for knowledge in the books of Paracelsus. Frederick Hufeland got his theoretical doctrines on infection from this mediaeval "quack," as Sprengel delights in calling one who was immeasurably higher than himself. Hemman, who endeavors to vindicate this great philosopher, and nobly tries to redress his slandered memory, speaks of him as the "greatest chemist of his time."† So do Professor Molitor,‡ and Dr. Ennemoser, the eminent German psychologist.§ According to their criticisms on the labors of this Hermetist, Paracelsus is the most "wondrous intellect of his age," a "noble genius." But our modern lights assume to know better, and the ideas of the Rosicrucians about the elementary spirits, the goblins and the elves, have sunk into the "limbo of magic" and fairy tales for early childhoods.||
We are quite ready to concede to skeptics that one-half, and even more, of seeming phenomena, are but more or less clever fraud. Recent exposures, especially of "materializing" mediums, but too well prove the fact. Unquestionably numerous others are still in store, and this will
continue until tests have become so perfect and spiritualists so reasonable as no longer to furnish opportunity to mediums or weapons to adversaries.
What should sensible spiritualists think of the character of angel guides, who after monopolizing, perhaps for years, a poor medium's time, health and means, suddenly abandon him when he most needs their help? None but creatures without soul or conscience would be guilty of such injustice. Conditions? — Mere sophistry. What sort of spirits must they be who would not summon if necessary an army of spirit-friends (if such there be) to snatch the innocent medium from the pit dug for his feet? Such things happened in the olden time, such may happen now. There were apparitions before modern spiritualism, and phenomena like ours in every previous age. If modern manifestations are a reality and palpable facts, so must have been the so-called "miracles" and thaumaturgic exploits of old; or if the latter are but fictions of superstition so must be the former, for they rest on no better testimony.
But, in this daily-increasing torrent of occult phenomena that rushes from one end of the globe to the other, though two-thirds of the manifestations are proved spurious, what of those which are proved genuine beyond doubt or cavil? Among these may be found communications coming through non-professional as well as professional mediums, which are sublime and divinely grand. Often, through young children, and simple-minded ignorant persons, we receive philosophical teachings and precepts, poetry and inspirational orations, music and paintings that are fully worthy of the reputations of their alleged authors. Their prophecies are often verified and their moral disquisitions beneficent, though the latter is of rarer occurrence. Who are those spirits, what those powers or intelligences which are evidently outside of the medium proper and entities per se? These intelligences deserve the appellation; and they differ as widely from the generality of spooks and goblins that hover around the cabinets for physical manifestations, as day from night.
We must confess that the situation appears to be very grave. The control of mediums by such unprincipled and lying "spirits" is constantly becoming more and more general; and the pernicious effects of seeming diabolism constantly multiply. Some of the best mediums are abandoning the public rostrum and retiring from this influence; and the movement is drifting churchward. We venture the prediction that unless spiritualists set about the study of ancient philosophy, so as to learn to discriminate between spirits and to guard themselves against the baser sort, twenty-five years more will not elapse before they will have to fly to the Romish communion to escape these "guides" and "controls" that they have fondled so long. The signs of this catastrophe already exhibit
themselves. At a recent convention at Philadelphia, it was seriously proposed to organize a sect of Christian Spiritualists! This is because, having withdrawn from the church and learned nothing of the philosophy of the phenomena, or the nature of their spirits, they are drifting about on a sea of uncertainty like a ship without compass or rudder. They cannot escape the dilemma; they must choose between Porphyry and Pio Nono.
While men of genuine science, such as Wallace, Crookes, Wagner, Butlerof, Varley, Buchanan, Hare, Reichenbach, Thury, Perty, de Morgan, Hoffmann, Goldschmidt, W. Gregory, Flammarion, Sergeant Cox and many others, firmly believe in the current phenomena, many of the above named reject the theory of departed spirits. Therefore, it seems but logical to think that if the London "Katie King," the only materialized something which the public is obliged more or less to credit out of respect to science, — is not the spirit of an ex-mortal, then it must be the astral solidified shadow of either one of the Rosicrucian spooks — "fantasies of superstition" — or of some as yet unexplained force in nature. Be it however a "spirit of health or goblin damn'd" it is of little consequence; for if it be once proved that its organism is not solid matter, then it must be and is a "spirit," an apparition, a breath. It is an intelligence which acts outside our organisms and therefore must belong to some existing even though unseen race of beings. But what is it? What is this something which thinks and even speaks but yet is not human; that is impalpable and yet not a disembodied spirit; that simulates affection, passion, remorse, fear, joy, but yet feels neither? What is this canting creature which rejoices in cheating the truthful inquirer and mocking at sacred human feeling? For, if not Mr. Crookes's Katie King, other similar creatures have done all these. Who can fathom the mystery? The true psychologist alone. And where should he go for his text-books but to the neglected alcoves of libraries where the works of despised hermetists and theurgists have been gathering dust these many years.
Says Henry More, the revered English Platonist, in his answer to an attack on the believers of spiritual and magic phenomena by a skeptic of that age, named Webster:* "As for that other opinion, that the
greater part of the reformed divines hold, that it was the Devil that appeared in Samuel's shape, it is beneath contempt; for though I do not doubt but that in many of these necromantic apparitions, they are ludicrous spirits, not the souls of the deceased that appear, yet I am clear for the appearing of the soul of Samuel, and as clear that in other necromancies, it may be such kinds of spirits, as Porphyrius above describes, 'that change themselves into omnifarious forms and shapes, and one while act the parts of daemons, another while of angels or gods, and another while of the souls of the departed.' And I confess such a spirit as this might personate Samuel here, for anything Webster alleged to the contrary, for his arguments indeed are wonderfully weak and wooden."
When such a metaphysician and philosopher as Henry More gives such testimony as this, we may well assume our point to have been well taken. Learned investigators, all very skeptical as to spirits in general and "departed human spirits" in particular, during the last twenty years have taxed their brains to invent new names for an old thing. Thus, with Mr. Crookes and Sergeant Cox, it is the "psychic force." Professor Thury of Geneva calls it the "psychode" or ectenic force; Professor Balfour Stewart, the "electro-biological power"; Faraday, the "great master of experimental philosophy in physics," but apparently a novice in psychology, superciliously termed it an "unconscious muscular action," an "unconscious cerebration," and what not? Sir William Hamilton, a "latent thought"; Dr. Carpenter, "the ideo-motor principle," etc., etc. So many scientists — so many names.
Years ago the old German philosopher, Schopenhauer, disposed of this force and matter at the same time; and since the conversion of Mr. Wallace, the great anthropologist has evidently adopted his ideas. Schopenhauer's doctrine is that the universe is but the manifestation of the will. Every force in nature is also an effect of will, representing a higher or lower degree of its objectiveness. It is the teaching of Plato, who stated distinctly that everything visible was created or evolved out of the invisible and eternal will, and after its fashion. Our Heaven — he says — was produced according to the eternal pattern of the "Ideal World," contained, as everything else, in the dodecahedron, the geometrical model used by the Deity.* With Plato, the Primal Being is an emanation of the Demiurgic Mind (Nous), which contains from the eternity the "idea" of the "to be created world" within itself, and which idea he produces out of himself.† The laws of nature are the established relations of this idea to the forms of its manifestations; "these
forms," says Schopenhauer, "are time, space, and causality. Through time and space the idea varies in its numberless manifestations."
These ideas are far from being new, and even with Plato they were not original. This is what we read in the Chaldean Oracles:* "The works of nature co-exist with the intellectual [[noerio]], spiritual Light of the Father. For it is the soul [[psuche]] which adorned the great heaven, and which adorns it after the Father."
"The incorporeal world then was already completed, having its seat in the Divine Reason," says Philo† who is erroneously accused of deriving his philosophy from Plato's.
In the Theogony of Mochus, we find AEther first, and then the air; the two principles from which Ulom, the intelligible [[noetos]] God (the visible universe of matter) is born.‡
In the Orphic hymns, the Eros-Phanes evolves from the Spiritual Egg, which the AEthereal winds impregnate, Wind§ being "the spirit of God," who is said to move in AEther, "brooding over the Chaos" — the Divine "Idea." In the Hindu Katakopanisad, Purusha, the Divine Spirit, already stands before the original matter, from whose union springs the great Soul of the World, "Maha =Atma, Brahm, the Spirit of Life";|| these latter appellations are identical with the Universal Soul, or Anima Mundi, and the Astral Light of the theurgists and kabalists.
Pythagoras brought his doctrines from the eastern sanctuaries, and Plato compiled them into a form more intelligible than the mysterious numerals of the sage — whose doctrines he had fully embraced — to the uninitiated mind. Thus, the Cosmos is "the Son" with Plato, having for his father and mother the Divine Thought and Matter.¶
"The Egyptians," says Dunlap,† "distinguish between an older and younger Horus, the former the brother of Osiris, the latter the son of Osiris and Isis." The first is the Idea of the world remaining in the Demiurgic Mind, "born in darkness before the creation of the world." The second Horus is this "Idea" going forth from the Logos, becoming clothed with matter, and assuming an actual existence.††
"The mundane God, eternal, boundless, young and old, of winding form," ‡‡ say the Chaldean Oracles.
This "winding form" is a figure to express the vibratory motion of the Astral Light, with which the ancient priests were perfectly well
* Cory: "Chaldean Oracles," 243.
† Philo Judaeus: "On the Creation," x.
‡ Movers: "Phoinizer," 282.
§ K. O. Muller, 236.
|| Weber: "Akad. Vorles," 213, 214, etc.
¶ Plutarch, "Isis and Osiris," i., vi.
† "Spirit History of Man," p. 88.
†† Movers: "Phoinizer," 268.
‡‡ Cory: "Fragments," 240.
acquainted, though they may have differed in views of ether, with modern scientists; for in the AEther they placed the Eternal Idea pervading the Universe, or the Will which becomes Force, and creates or organizes matter.
"The will," says Van Helmont, "is the first of all powers. For through the will of the Creator all things were made and put in motion. . . . The will is the property of all spiritual beings, and displays itself in them the more actively the more they are freed from matter." And Paracelsus, "the divine," as he was called, adds in the same strain: "Faith must confirm the imagination, for faith establishes the will. . . . Determined will is a beginning of all magical operations. . . . Because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, is that the arts are uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain."
The opposing power alone of unbelief and skepticism, if projected in a current of equal force, can check the other, and sometimes completely neutralize it. Why should spiritualists wonder that the presence of some strong skeptics, or of those who, feeling bitterly opposed to the phenomenon, unconsciously exercise their will-power in opposition, hinders and often stops altogether the manifestations? If there is no conscious power on earth but sometimes finds another to interfere with or even counterbalance it, why wonder when the unconscious, passive power of a medium is suddenly paralyzed in its effects by another opposing one, though it also be as unconsciously exercised? Professors Faraday and Tyndall boasted that their presence at a circle would stop at once every manifestation. This fact alone ought to have proved to the eminent scientists that there was some force in these phenomena worthy to arrest their attention. As a scientist, Prof. Tyndall was perhaps pre-eminent in the circle of those who were present at the seance; as a shrewd observer, one not easily deceived by a tricking medium, he was perhaps no better, if as clever, as others in the room, and if the manifestations were but a fraud so ingenious as to deceive the others, they would not have stopped, even on his account. What medium can ever boast of such phenomena as were produced by Jesus, and the apostle Paul after him? Yet even Jesus met with cases where the unconscious force of resistance overpowered even his so well directed current of will. "And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief."
There is a reflection of every one of these views in Schopenhauer's philosophy. Our "investigating" scientists might consult his works with profit. They will find therein many a strange hypothesis founded on old ideas, speculations on the "new" phenomena, which may prove as reasonable as any, and be saved the useless trouble of inventing new
theories. The psychic and ectenic forces, the "ideo-motor" and "electro-biological powers"; "latent thought" and even "unconscious cerebration" theories, can be condensed in two words: the kabalistic astral light.
The bold theories and opinions expressed in Schopenhauer's works differ widely with those of the majority of our orthodox scientists. "In reality," remarks this daring speculator, "there is neither matter nor spirit. The tendency to gravitation in a stone is as unexplainable as thought in human brain. . . . If matter can — no one knows why — fall to the ground, then it can also — no one knows why — think. . . . As soon, even in mechanics, as we trespass beyond the purely mathematical, as soon as we reach the inscrutable, adhesion, gravitation, and so on, we are faced by phenomena which are to our senses as mysterious as the will and thought in man — we find ourselves facing the incomprehensible, for such is every force in nature. Where is then that matter which you all pretend to know so well; and from which — being so familiar with it — you draw all your conclusions and explanations, and attribute to it all things? . . . That, which can be fully realized by our reason and senses, is but the superficial: they can never reach the true inner substance of things. Such was the opinion of Kant. If you consider that there is in a human head some sort of a spirit, then you are obliged to concede the same to a stone. If your dead and utterly passive matter can manifest a tendency toward gravitation, or, like electricity, attract and repel, and send out sparks — then, as well as the brain, it can also think. In short, every particle of the so-called spirit, we can replace with an equivalent of matter, and every particle of matter replace with spirit. . . . Thus, it is not the Cartesian division of all things into matter and spirit that can ever be found philosophically exact; but only if we divide them into will and manifestation, which form of division has naught to do with the former, for it spiritualizes every thing: all that, which is in the first instance real and objective — body and matter — it transforms into a representation, and every manifestation into will."*
These views corroborate what we have expressed about the various names given to the same thing. The disputants are battling about mere words. Call the phenomena force, energy, electricity or magnetism, will, or spirit-power, it will ever be the partial manifestation of the soul, whether disembodied or imprisoned for a while in its body — of a portion of that intelligent, omnipotent, and individual will, pervading all nature, and known, through the insufficiency of human language to express correctly psychological images, as — GOD.
The ideas of some of our schoolmen about matter are, from the kabalistic standing-point, in many a way erroneous. Hartmann calls their views "an instinctual prejudice." Furthermore, he demonstrates that no experimenter can have anything to do with matter properly termed, but only with the forces into which he divides it. The visible effects of matter are but the effects of force. He concludes thereby, that that which is now called matter is nothing but the aggregation of atomic forces, to express which the word matter is used: outside of that, for science matter is but a word void of sense. Notwithstanding many an honest confession on the part of our specialists — physicists, physiologists and chemists — that they know nothing whatever of matter,* they deify it. Every new phenomenon which they find themselves unable to explain, is triturated, compounded into incense, and burned on the altar of the goddess who patronizes modern scientists.
No one can better treat his subject than does Schopenhauer in his Parerga. In this work he discusses at length animal magnetism, clairvoyance, sympathetic cures, seership, magic, omens, ghost-seeing, and other spiritual matters. "All these manifestations," he says, "are branches of one and the same tree, and furnish us with irrefutable proofs of the existence of a chain of beings which is based on quite a different order of things than that nature which has at its foundation laws of space, time and adaptability. This other order of things is far deeper, for it is the original and the direct one; in its presence the common laws of nature, which are simply formal, are unavailing; therefore, under its immediate action neither time nor space can separate any longer the individuals, and the separation impendent on these forms presents no more insurmountable barriers for the intercourse of thoughts and the immediate action of the will. In this manner changes may be wrought by quite a different course than the course of physical causality, i.e., through an action of the manifestation of the will exhibited in a peculiar way and outside the individual himself. Therefore the peculiar character of all the aforesaid manifestations is the visio in distante et actio in distante (vision and action at a distance) in its relation to time as well as in its relation to space. Such an action at a distance is just what constitutes the fundamental character of what is called magical; for such is the immediate action of our will, an action liberated from the causal conditions of physical action, viz., contact."
"Besides that," continues Schopenhauer, "these manifestations present to us a substantial and perfectly logical contradiction to materialism, and even to naturalism, because in the light of such manifestations,
that order of things in nature which both these philosophies seek to present as absolute and the only genuine, appears before us on the contrary purely phenomenal and superficial, and containing at the bottom of it a substance of things a parte and perfectly independent of its own laws. That is why these manifestations — at least from a purely philosophical point of view — among all the facts which are presented to us in the domain of experiment, are beyond any comparison the most important. Therefore, it is the duty of every scientist to acquaint himself with them."*
To pass from the philosophical speculations of a man like Schopenhauer to the superficial generalizations of some of the French Academicians, would be profitless but for the fact that it enables us to estimate the intellectual grasp of the two schools of learning. What the German makes of profound psychological questions, we have seen. Compare with it the best that the astronomer Babinet and the chemist Boussingault can offer by way of explaining an important spiritualistic phenomenon. In 1854-5 these distinguished specialists presented to the Academy a memoire, or monograph, whose evident object was to corroborate and at the same time make clearer Dr. Chevreuil's too complicated theory in explanation of the turning-tables, of the commission for the investigation of which he was a member.
Here it is verbatim: "As to the movements and oscillations alleged to happen with certain tables, they can have no cause other than the invisible and involuntary vibrations of the experimenter's muscular system; the extended contraction of the muscles manifesting itself at such time by a series of vibrations, and becoming thus a visible tremor which communicates to the object a circumrotary motion. This rotation is thus enabled to manifest itself with a considerable energy, by a gradually quickening motion, or by a strong resistance, whenever it is required to stop. Hence the physical explanation of the phenomenon becomes clear and does not offer the slightest difficulty."†
None whatever. This scientific hypothesis — or demonstration shall we say? — is as clear as one of M. Babinet's nebulae examined on a foggy night.
And still, clear as it may be, it lacks an important feature, i.e., common sense. We are at a loss to decide whether or not Babinet accepts en desespoir de cause Hartmann's proposition that "the visible effects of matter are nothing but the effects of a force," and, that in order to form a clear conception of matter, one must first form one of force. The philosophy to the school of which belongs Hartmann, and which is
partly accepted by several of the greatest German scientists, teaches that the problem of matter can only be solved by that invisible Force, acquaintance with which Schopenhauer terms the "magical knowledge," and "magical effect or action of Will." Thus, we must first ascertain whether the "involuntary vibrations of the experimenter's muscular system," which are but "actions of matter," are influenced by a will within the experimenter or without. In the former case Babinet makes of him an unconscious epileptic; the latter, as we will further see, he rejects altogether, and attributes all intelligent answers of the tipping or rapping tables to "unconscious ventriloquism."
We know that every exertion of will results in force, and that, according to the above-named German school, the manifestations of atomic forces are individual actions of will, resulting in the unconscious rushing of atoms into the concrete image already subjectively created by the will. Democritus taught, after his instructor Leucippus, that the first principles of all things contained in the universe were atoms and a vacuum. In its kabalistic sense, the vacuum means in this instance the latent Deity, or latent force, which at its first manifestation became will, and thus communicated the first impulse to these atoms — whose agglomeration, is matter. This vacuum was but another name for chaos, and an unsatisfactory one, for, according to the Peripatetics "nature abhors a vacuum."
That before Democritus the ancients were familiar with the idea of the indestructibility of matter is proved by their allegories and numerous other facts. Movers gives a definition of the Phoenician idea of the ideal sun-light as a spiritual influence issuing from the highest God, Iao, "the light conceivable only by intellect — the physical and spiritual Principle of all things; out of which the soul emanates." It was the male Essence, or Wisdom, while the primitive matter or Chaos was the female. Thus the two first principles — co-eternal and infinite, were already with the primitive Phoenicians, spirit and matter. Therefore the theory is as old as the world; for Democritus was not the first philosopher who taught it; and intuition existed in man before the ultimate development of his reason. But it is in the denial of the boundless and endless Entity, possessor of that invisible Will which we for lack of a better term call God, that lies the powerlessness of every materialistic science to explain the occult phenomena. It is in the rejection a priori of everything which might force them to cross the boundary of exact science and step into the domain of psychological, or, if we prefer, metaphysical physiology, that we find the secret cause of their discomfiture by the manifestations, and their absurd theories to account for them. The ancient philosophy affirmed that it is in consequence of the manifestation of that Will — termed by Plato the Divine Idea — that everything visible and invisible
sprung into existence. As that Intelligent Idea, which, by directing its sole will-power toward a centre of localized forces called objective forms into being, so can man, the microcosm of the great Macrocosm, do the same in proportion with the development of his will-power. The imaginary atoms — a figure of speech employed by Democritus, and gratefully seized upon by the materialists — are like automatic workmen moved inwardIy by the influx of that Universal Will directed upon them, and which, manifesting itself as force, sets them into activity. The plan of the structure to be erected is in the brain of the Architect, and reflects his will; abstract as yet, from the instant of the conception it becomes concrete through these atoms which follow faithfully every line, point and figure traced in the imagination of the Divine Geometer.
As God creates, so man can create. Given a certain intensity of will, and the shapes created by the mind become subjective. Hallucinations, they are called, although to their creator they are real as any visible object is to any one else. Given a more intense and intelligent concentration of this will, and the form becomes concrete, visible, objective; the man has learned the secret of secrets; he is a magician.
The materialist should not object to this logic, for he regards thought as matter. Conceding it to be so, the cunning mechanism contrived by the inventor; the fairy scenes born in the poet's brain; the gorgeous painting limned by the artist's fancy; the peerless statue chiselled in ether by the sculptor; the palaces and castles built in air by the architect — all these, though invisible and subjective, must exist, for they are matter, shaped and moulded. Who shall say, then, that there are not some men of such imperial will as to be able to drag these air-drawn fancies into view, enveloped in the hard casing of gross substance to make them tangible?
If the French scientists reaped no laurels in the new field of investigation, what more was done in England, until the day when Mr. Crookes offered himself in atonement for the sins of the learned body? Why, Mr. Faraday, some twenty years ago, actually condescended to be spoken to once or twice upon the subject. Faraday, whose name is pronounced by the anti-spiritualists in every discussion upon the phenomena, as a sort of scientific charm against the evil-eye of Spiritualism, Faraday, who "blushed" for having published his researches upon such a degrading belief, is now proved on good authority to have never sat at a tipping table himself at all! We have but to open a few stray numbers of the Journal des Debats, published while a noted Scotch medium was in England, to recall the past events in all their primitive freshness. In one of these numbers, Dr. Foucault, of Paris, comes out as a champion for the eminent English experimenter. "Pray, do not imagine," says he,
"that the grand physicist had ever himself condescended so far as to sit prosaically at a jumping table." Whence, then, came the "blushes" which suffused the cheeks of the "Father of Experimental Philosophy"? Remembering this fact, we will now examine the nature of Faraday's beautiful "Indicator," the extraordinary "Medium-Catcher," invented by him for the detection of mediumistic fraud. That complicated machine, the memory of which haunts like a nightmare the dreams of dishonest mediums, is carefully described in Comte de Mirville's Question des Esprits.
The better to prove to the experimenters the reality of their own impulsion, Professor Faraday placed several card-board disks, united to each other and stuck to the table by a half-soft glue, which, making the whole adhere for a time together, would, nevertheless, yield to a continuous pressure. Now, the table having turned — yes, actually having dared to turn before Mr. Faraday, which fact is of some value, at least — the disks were examined; and, as they were found to have gradually displaced themselves by slipping in the same direction as the table, it thus became an unquestionable proof that the experimenters had pushed the tables themselves.
Another of the so-called scientific tests, so useful in a phenomenon alleged to be either spiritual or psychical, consisted of a small instrument which immediately warned the witnesses of the slightest personal impulsion on their part, or rather, according to Mr. Faraday's own expression, "it warned them when they changed from the passive to the active state." This needle which betrayed the active motion proved but one thing, viz.: the action of a force which either emanated from the sitters or controlled them. And who has ever said that there is no such force? Every one admits so much, whether this force passes through the operator, as it is generally shown, or acts independently of him, as is so often the case. "The whole mystery consisted in the disproportion of the force employed by the operators, who pushed because they were forced to push, with certain effects of rotation, or rather, of a really marvellous race. In the presence of such prodigious effects, how could any one imagine that the Lilliputian experiments of that kind could have any value in this newly discovered Land of Giants?"*
Professor Agassiz, who occupied in America nearly the same eminent position as a scientist which Mr. Faraday did in England, acted with a still greater unfairness. Professor J. R. Buchanan, the distinguished anthropologist, who has treated Spiritualism in some respects more scientifically than any one else in America, speaks of Agassiz, in a recent article, with
a very just indignation. For, of all other men, Professor Agassiz ought to believe in a phenomenon to which he had been a subject himself. But now that both Faraday and Agassiz are themselves disembodied, we can do better by questioning the living than the dead.
Thus a force whose secret powers were thoroughly familiar to the ancient theurgists, is denied by modern skeptics. The antediluvian children — who perhaps played with it, using it as the boys in Bulwer-Lytton's Coming Race, use the tremendous "vril" — called it the "Water of Phtha"; their descendants named it the Anima Mundi, the soul of the universe; and still later the mediaeval hermetists termed it "sidereal light," or the "Milk of the Celestial Virgin," the "Magnes," and many other names. But our modern learned men will neither accept nor recognize it under such appellations; for it pertains to magic, and magic is, in their conception, a disgraceful superstition.
Apollonius and Iamblichus held that it was not "in the knowledge of things without, but in the perfection of the soul within, that lies the empire of man, aspiring to be more than men."* Thus they had arrived at a perfect cognizance of their godlike souls, the powers of which they used with all the wisdom, outgrowth of esoteric study of the hermetic lore, inherited by them from their forefathers. But our philosophers, tightly shutting themselves up in their shells of flesh, cannot or dare not carry their timid gaze beyond the comprehensible. For them there is no future life; there are no godlike dreams, they scorn them as unscientific; for them the men of old are but "ignorant ancestors," as they express it; and whenever they meet during their physiological researches with an author who believes that this mysterious yearning after spiritual knowledge is inherent in every human being, and cannot have been given us utterly in vain, they regard him with contemptuous pity.
Says a Persian proverb: "The darker the sky is, the brighter the stars will shine." Thus, on the dark firmament of the mediaeval ages began appearing the mysterious Brothers of the Rosie Cross. They formed no associations, they built no colleges; for, hunted up and down like so many wild beasts, when caught by the Christian Church, they were unceremoniously roasted. "As religion forbids it," says Bayle, "to spill blood," therefore, "to elude the maxim, Ecclesia non novit sanguinem, they burned human beings, as burning a man does not shed his blood!"
Many of these mystics, by following what they were taught by some treatises, secretly preserved from one generation to another, achieved discoveries which would not be despised even in our modern days of exact sciences. Roger Bacon, the friar, was laughed at as a quack, and
is now generally numbered among "pretenders" to magic art; but his discoveries were nevertheless accepted, and are now used by those who ridicule him the most. Roger Bacon belonged by right if not by fact to that Brotherhood which includes all those who study the occult sciences. Living in the thirteenth century, almost a contemporary, therefore, of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, his discoveries — such as gunpowder and optical glasses, and his mechanical achievements — were considered by every one as so many miracles. He was accused of having made a compact with the Evil One.
In the legendary history of Friar Bacon, as "well as in an old play written by Robert Green, a dramatist in the days of Queen Elizabeth, it is recounted, that, having been summoned before the king, the friar was induced to show" some of his skill before her majesty the queen. So he waved his hand (his wand, says the text), and "presently was heard such excellent music, that they all said they had never heard the like." Then there was heard a still louder music and four apparitions suddenly presented themselves and danced until they vanished and disappeared in the air. Then he waved his wand again, and suddenly there was such a smell "as if all the rich perfumes in the whole world had been there prepared in the best manner that art could set them out." Then Roger Bacon having promised a gentleman to show him his sweetheart, he pulled a hanging in the king's apartment aside and every one in the room saw "a kitchen-maid with a basting-ladle in her hand." The proud gentleman, although he recognized the maiden who disappeared as suddenly as she had appeared, was enraged at the humiliating spectacle, and threatened the friar with his revenge. What does the magician do? He simply answers: "Threaten not, lest I do you more shame; and do you take heed how you give scholars the lie again!"
As a commentary on this, the modern historian* remarks: "This may be taken as a sort of exemplification of the class of exhibitions which were probably the result of a superior knowledge of natural sciences." No one ever doubted that it was the result of precisely such a knowledge, and the hermetists, magicians, astrologers and alchemists never claimed anything else. It certainly was not their fault that the ignorant masses, under the influence of an unscrupulous and fanatical clergy, should have attributed all such works to the agency of the devil. In view of the atrocious tortures provided by the Inquisition for all suspected of either black or white magic, it is not strange that these philosophers neither boasted nor even acknowledged the fact of such an intercourse. On the contrary, their own writings prove that they held that magic is "no more than the
application of natural active causes to passive things or subjects; by means thereof, many tremendously surprising but yet natural effects are produced."
The phenomena of the mystic odors and music, exhibited by Roger Bacon, have been often observed in our own time. To say nothing of our personal experience, we are informed by English correspondents of the Theosophical Society that they have heard strains of the most ravishing music, coming from no visible instrument, and inhaled a succession of delightful odors produced, as they believed, by spirit-agency. One correspondent tells us that so powerful was one of these familiar odors — that of sandal-wood — that the house would be impregnated with it for weeks after the seance. The medium in this case was a member of a private family, and the experiments were all made within the domestic circle. Another describes what he calls a "musical rap." The potencies that are now capable of producing these phenomena must have existed and been equally efficacious in the days of Roger Bacon. As to the apparitions, it suffices to say that they are evoked now in spiritualistic circles, and guaranteed by scientists, and their evocation by Roger Bacon is thus made more probable than ever.
Baptista Porta, in his treatise on Natural Magic, enumerates a whole catalogue of secret formulae for producing extraordinary effects by employing the occult powers of nature. Although the "magicians" believed as firmly as our spiritualists in a world of invisible spirits, none of them claimed to produce his effects under their control or through their sole help. They knew too well how difficult it is to keep away the elementary creatures when they have once found the door wide open. Even the magic of the ancient Chaldeans was but a profound knowledge of the powers of simples and minerals. It was only when the theurgist desired divine help in spiritual and earthly matters that he sought direct communication through religious rites, with pure spiritual beings. With them, even, those spirits who remain invisible and communicate with mortals through their awakened inner senses, as in clairvoyance, clairaudience and trance, could only be evoked subjectively and as a result of purity of life and prayer. But all physical phenomena were produced simply by applying a knowledge of natural forces, although certainly not by the method of legerdemain, practiced in our days by conjurers.
Men possessed of such knowledge and exercising such powers patiently toiled for something better than the vain glory of a passing fame. Seeking it not, they became immortal, as do all who labor for the good of the race, forgetful of mean self. Illuminated with the light of eternal truth, these rich-poor alchemists fixed their attention upon the things that lie beyond the common ken, recognizing nothing inscrutable but the First
Cause, and finding no question unsolvable. To dare, to know, to will, and remain silent, was their constant rule; to be beneficent, unselfish, and unpretending, were, with them, spontaneous impulses. Disdaining the rewards of petty traffic, spurning wealth, luxury, pomp, and worldly power, they aspired to knowledge as the most satisfying of all acquisitions. They esteemed poverty, hunger, toil, and the evil report of men, as none too great a price to pay for its achievement. They, who might have lain on downy, velvet-covered beds, suffered themselves to die in hospitals and by the wayside, rather than debase their souls and allow the profane cupidity of those who tempted them to triumph over their sacred vows. The lives of Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, and Philalethes are too well known to repeat the old, sad story.
If spiritualists are anxious to keep strictly dogmatic in their notions of the "spirit-world," they must not set scientists to investigate their phenomena in the true experimental spirit. The attempt would most surely result in a partial re-discovery of the magic of old — that of Moses and Paracelsus. Under the deceptive beauty of some of their apparitions, they might find some day the sylphs and fair Undines of the Rosicrucians playing in the currents of psychic and odic force.
Already Mr. Crookes, who fully credits the being, feels that under the fair skin of Katie, covering a simulacrum of heart borrowed partially from the medium and the circle, there is no soul! And the learned authors of The Unseen Universe, abandoning their "electro-biological" theory, begin to perceive in the universal ether the possibility that it is a photographic album of En-Soph — the Boundless.
We are far from believing that all the spirits that communicate at circles are of the classes called "Elemental," and "Elementary." Many — especially among those who control the medium subjectively to speak, write, and otherwise act in various ways — are human, disembodied spirits. Whether the majority of such spirits are good or bad, largely depends on the private morality of the medium, much on the circle present, and a great deal on the intensity and object of their purpose. If this object is merely to gratify curiosity and to pass the time, it is useless to expect anything serious. But, in any case, human spirits can never materialize themselves in propria persona. These can never appear to the investigator clothed with warm, solid flesh, sweating hands and faces, and grossly-material bodies. The most they can do is to project their aethereal reflection on the atmospheric waves, and if the touch of their hands and clothing can become upon rare occasions objective to the senses of a living mortal, it will be felt as a passing breeze gently sweeping over the touched spot, not as a human hand or material body. It is useless to plead that the "materialized spirits" that have exhibited themselves with
beating hearts and loud voices (with or without a trumpet) are human spirits. The voices — if such sound can be termed a voice at all — of a spiritual apparition once heard can hardly be forgotten. That of a pure spirit is like the tremulous murmur of an AEolian harp echoed from a distance; the voice of a suffering, hence impure, if not utterly bad spirit, may be assimilated to a human voice issuing from an empty barrel.
This is not our philosophy, but that of the numberless generations of theurgists and magicians, and based upon their practical experience. The testimony of antiquity is positive on this subject: [[Daimonioin phonai anarthroi eisi]]. . . .* The voices of spirits are not articulated. The spirit-voice consists of a series of sounds which conveys the impression of a column of compressed air ascending from beneath upward, and spreading around the living interlocutor. The many eye-witnesses who testified in the case of Elizabeth Eslinger, namely:† the deputy-governor of the prison of Weinsberg, Mayer, Eckhart, Theurer, and Knorr (sworn evidence), Duttenhofer, and Kapff, the mathematician, testified that they saw the apparition like a pillar of clouds. For the space of eleven weeks, Doctor Kerner and his sons, several Lutheran ministers, the advocate Fraas, the engraver Duttenhofer, two physicians, Siefer and Sicherer, the judge Heyd, and the Baron von Hugel, with many others, followed this manifestation daily. During the time it lasted, the prisoner Elizabeth prayed with a loud voice uninterruptedly; therefore, as the "spirit" was talking at the same time, it could be no ventriloquism; and that voice, they say, "had nothing human in it; no one could imitate its sounds."
Further on we will give abundant proofs from ancient authors concerning this neglected truism. We will now only again assert that no spirit claimed by the spiritualists to be human was ever proved to be such on sufficient testimony. The influence of the disembodied ones can be felt, and communicated subjectively by them to sensitives. They can produce objective manifestations, but they cannot produce themselves otherwise than as described above. They can control the body of a medium, and express their desires and ideas in various modes well known to spiritualists; but not materialize what is matterless and purely spiritual — their divine essence. Thus every so-called "materialization" — when genuine — is either produced (perhaps) by the will of that spirit whom the "appearance" is claimed to be but can only personate at best, or by the elementary goblins themselves, which are generally too stupid to deserve the honor of being called devils. Upon rare occasions the spirits are able to subdue and control these soulless beings, which are ever ready to
assume pompous names if left to themselves, in such a way that the mischievous spirit "of the air," shaped in the real image of the human spirit, will be moved by the latter like a marionette, and unable to either act or utter other words than those imposed on him by the "immortal soul." But this requires many conditions generally unknown to the circles of even spiritualists most in the habit of regularly attending seances. Not every one can attract human spirits who likes. One of the most powerful attractions of our departed ones is their strong affection for those whom they have left on earth. It draws them irresistibly, by degrees, into the current of the Astral Light vibrating between the person sympathetic to them and the Universal Soul. Another very important condition is harmony, and the magnetic purity of the persons present.
If this philosophy is wrong, if all the "materialized" forms emerging in darkened rooms from still darker cabinets, are spirits of men who once lived upon this earth, why such a difference between them and the ghosts that appear unexpectedly — ex abrupto — without either cabinet or medium? Who ever heard of the apparitions, unrestful "souls," hovering about the spots where they were murdered, or coming back for some other mysterious reasons of their own, with "warm hands" feeling like living flesh, and but that they are known to be dead and buried, not distinguishable from living mortals? We have well-attested facts of such apparitions making themselves suddenly visible, but never, until the beginning of the era of the "materializations," did we see anything like them. In the Medium and Day Break, of September 8, 1876, we read a letter from "a lady travelling on the continent," narrating a circumstance that happened in a haunted house. She says: ". . . A strange sound proceeded from a darkened corner of the library . . . on looking up she perceived a cloud or column of luminous vapor; . . . . the earth-bound spirit was hovering about the spot rendered accursed by his evil deed. . . ." As this spirit was doubtless a genuine elementary apparition, which made itself visible of its own free will — in short, an umbra — it was, as every respectable shadow should be, visible but impalpable, or if palpable at all, communicating to the feeling of touch the sensation of a mass of water suddenly clasped in the hand, or of condensed but cold steam. It was luminous and vapory; for aught we can tell it might have been the real personal umbra of the "spirit," persecuted, and earth-bound, either by its own remorse and crimes or those of another person or spirit. The mysteries of after-death are many, and modern "materializations" only make them cheap and ridiculous in the eyes of the indifferent.
To these assertions may be opposed a fact well known among spiritualists: The writer has publicly certified to having seen such materialized forms. We have most assuredly done so, and are ready to repeat the
testimony. We have recognized such figures as the visible representations of acquaintances, friends, and even relatives. We have, in company with many other spectators, heard them pronounce words in languages unfamiliar not only to the medium and to every one else in the room, except ourselves, but, in some cases, to almost if not quite every medium in America and Europe, for they were the tongues of Eastern tribes and peoples. At the time, these instances were justly regarded as conclusive proofs of the genuine mediumship of the uneducated Vermont farmer who sat in the "cabinet." But, nevertheless, these figures were not the forms of the persons they appeared to be. They were simply their portrait statues, constructed, animated and operated by the elementaries. If we have not previously elucidated this point, it was because the spiritualistic public was not then ready to even listen to the fundamental proposition that there are elemental and elementary spirits. Since that time this subject has been broached and more or less widely discussed. There is less hazard now in attempting to launch upon the restless sea of criticism the hoary philosophy of the ancient sages, for there has been some preparation of the public mind to consider it with impartiality and deliberation. Two years of agitation have effected a marked change for the better.
Pausanias writes that four hundred years after the battle of Marathon, there were still heard in the place where it was fought, the neighing of horses and the shouts of shadowy soldiers. Supposing that the spectres of the slaughtered soldiers were their genuine spirits, they looked like "shadows," not materialized men. Who, then, or what, produced the neighing of horses? Equine "spirits"? And if it be pronounced untrue that horses have spirits — which assuredly no one among zoologists, physiologists or psychologists, or even spiritualists, can either prove or disprove — then must we take it for granted that it was the "immortal souls" of men which produced the neighing at Marathon to make the historical battle scene more vivid and dramatic? The phantoms of dogs, cats, and various other animals have been repeatedly seen, and the world-wide testimony is as trustworthy upon this point as that with respect to human apparitions. Who or what personates, if we are allowed such an expression, the ghosts of departed animals? Is it, again, human spirits? As the matter now stands, there is no side issue; we have either to admit that animals have surviving spirits and souls as well as ourselves, or hold with Porphyry that there are in the invisible world a kind of tricky and malicious demons, intermediary beings between living men and "gods," spirits that delight in appearing under every imaginable shape, beginning with the human form, and ending with those of multifarious animals.*
Before venturing to decide the question whether the spectral animal forms so frequently seen and attested are the returning spirits of dead beasts, we must carefully consider their reported behavior. Do these spectres act according to the habits and display the same instincts, as the animals during life? Do the spectral beasts of prey lie in wait for victims, and timid animals flee before the presence of man; or do the latter show a malevolence and disposition to annoy, quite foreign to their natures? Many victims of these obsessions — notably, the afflicted persons of Salem and other historical witchcrafts — testify to having seen dogs, cats, pigs, and other animals, entering their rooms, biting them, trampling upon their sleeping bodies, and talking to them; often inciting them to suicide and other crimes. In the well-attested case of Elizabeth Eslinger, mentioned by Dr. Kerner, the apparition of the ancient priest of Wimmenthal* was accompanied by a large black dog, which he called his father, and which dog in the presence of numerous witnesses jumped on all the beds of the prisoners. At another time the priest appeared with a lamb, and sometimes with two lambs. Most of those accused at Salem were charged by the seeresses with consulting and plotting mischief with yellow birds, which would sit on their shoulder or on the beams overhead.† And unless we discredit the testimony of thousands of witnesses, in all parts of the world, and in all ages, and allow a monopoly of seership to modern mediums, spectre-animals do appear and manifest all the worst traits of depraved human nature, without themselves being human. What, then, can they be but elementals?
Descartes was one of the few who believed and dared say that to occult medicine we shall owe discoveries "destined to extend the domain of philosophy"; and Brierre de Boismont not only shared in these hopes but openly avowed his sympathy with "supernaturalism," which he considered the universal "grand creed." ". . . We think with Guizot," he says, "that the existence of society is bound up in it. It is in vain that modern reason, which, notwithstanding its positivism, cannot explain the intimate cause of any phenomena, rejects the supernatural; it is universal, and at the root of all hearts. The most elevated minds are frequently its most ardent disciples."‡
Christopher Columbus discovered America, and Americus Vespucius reaped the glory and usurped his dues. Theophrastus Paracelsus rediscovered the occult properties of the magnet — "the bone of Horus" which, twelve centuries before his time, had played such an important part in the theurgic mysteries — and he very naturally became the founder
of the school of magnetism and of mediaeval magico-theurgy. But Mesmer, who lived nearly three hundred years after him, and as a disciple of his school brought the magnetic wonders before the public, reaped the glory that was due to the fire-philosopher, while the great master died in a hospital!
So goes the world: new discoveries, evolving from old sciences; new men — the same old nature!