"Thou great First Cause, least understood." — Pope.
"Whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heaven itself that points out our hereafter
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! Thou pleasing, dreadful thought!" — Addison.
"There is another and a better world." — Kotzebue: The Stranger.
After according so much space to the conflicting opinions of our men of science about certain occult phenomena of our modern period, it is but just that we give attention to the speculations of mediaeval alchemists and certain other illustrious men. Almost without exception, ancient and mediaeval scholars believed in the arcane doctrines of wisdom. These included Alchemy, the Chaldeo-Jewish Kabala, the esoteric systems of Pythagoras and the old Magi, and those of the later Platonic philosophers and theurgists. We also propose in subsequent pages to treat of the Indian gymnosophists and the Chaldean astrologers. We must not neglect to show the grand truths underlying the misunderstood religions of the past. The four elements of our fathers, earth, air, water, and fire, contain for the student of alchemy and ancient psychology — or as it is now termed, magic — many things of which our philosophy has never dreamed. We must not forget that what is now called Necromancy by the Church, and Spiritualism by modern believers, and that includes the evoking of departed spirits, is a science which has, from remote antiquity, been almost universally diffused over the face of the globe.
Although neither an alchemist, magician, nor astrologer, but simply a great philosopher, Henry More, of Cambridge University — a man universally esteemed, may be named as a shrewd logician, scientist, and metaphysician. His belief in witchcraft was firm throughout his life. His faith in immortality and able arguments in demonstration of the survival of man's spirit after death are all based on the Pythagorean system, adopted by Cardan, Van Helmont, and other mystics. The infinite and
uncreated spirit that we usually call God, a substance of the highest virtue and excellency, produced everything else by emanative causality. God thus is the primary substance, the rest, the secondary; if the former created matter with a power of moving itself, he, the primary substance, is still the cause of that motion as well as of the matter, and yet we rightly say that it is matter which moves itself. "We may define this kind of spirit we speak of to be a substance indiscernible, that can move itself, that can penetrate, contract, and dilate itself, and can also penetrate, move, and alter matter,"* which is the third emanation. He firmly believed in apparitions, and stoutly defended the theory of the individuality of every soul in which "personality, memory, and conscience will surely continue in the future state." He divided the astral spirit of man after its exit from the body into two distinct entities: the "aerial" and the "aethereal vehicle." During the time that a disembodied man moves in its aerial clothing, he is subject to Fate — i.e., evil and temptation, attached to its earthly interests, and therefore is not utterly pure; it is only when he casts off this garb of the first spheres and becomes ethereal that he becomes sure of his immortality. "For what shadow can that body cast that is a pure and transparent light, such as the ethereal vehicle is? And therefore that oracle is then fulfilled, when the soul has ascended into that condition we have already described, in which alone it is out of the reach of fate and mortality." He concludes his work by stating that this transcendent and divinely-pure condition was the only aim of the Pythagoreans.
As to the skeptics of his age, his language is contemptuous and severe. Speaking of Scot, Adie, and Webster, he terms them "our new inspired saints . . . sworn advocates of the witches, who thus madly and boldly, against all sense and reason, against all antiquity, all interpreters, and against the Scripture itself, will have even no Samuel in the scene, but a confederate knave! Whether the Scripture, or these inblown buffoons, puffed up with nothing but ignorance, vanity, and stupid infidelity, are to be believed, let any one judge," he adds.†
What kind of language would this eminent divine have used against our skeptics of the nineteenth century?
Descartes, although a worshipper of matter, was one of the most devoted teachers of the magnetic doctrine and, in a certain sense, even of Alchemy. His system of physics was very much like that of other great philosophers. Space, which is infinite, is composed, or rather filled up with a fluid and elementary matter, and is the sole fountain of all life,
enclosing all the celestial globes and keeping them in perpetual motion. The magnet-streams of Mesmer are disguised by him into the Cartesian vortices, and both rest on the same principle. Ennemoser does not hesitate to say that both have more in common "than people suppose, who have not carefully examined the subject."*
The esteemed philosopher, Pierre Poiret Naude, was the warmest defender of the doctrines of occult magnetism and its first propounders,† in 1679. The magico-theosophical philosophy is fully vindicated in his works.
The well-known Dr. Hufeland has written a work on magic‡ in which he propounds the theory of the universal magnetic sympathy between men, animals, plants, and even minerals. The testimony of Campanella, Van Helmont, and Servius, is confirmed by him in relation to the sympathy existing between the different parts of the body as well as between the parts of all organic and even inorganic bodies.
Such also was the doctrine of Tenzel Wirdig. It may even be found expounded in his works, with far more clearness, logic, and vigor, than in those of other mystical authors who have treated of the same subject. In his famous treatise, The New Spiritual Medicine, he demonstrates, on the ground of the later-accepted fact of universal attraction and repulsion — now called "gravitation" — that the whole nature is ensouled. Wirdig calls this magnetic sympathy "the accordance of spirits." Everything is drawn to its like, and converges with natures congenial to itself. Out of this sympathy and antipathy arises a constant movement in the whole world, and in all its parts, and uninterrupted communion between heaven and earth, which produces universal harmony. Everything lives and perishes through magnetism; one thing affects another one, even at great distances, and its "congenitals" may be influenced to health and disease by the power of this sympathy, at any time, and notwithstanding the intervening space.§ "Hufeland," says Ennemoser, "gives the account of a nose which had been cut from the back of a porter, but which, when the porter died, died too and fell off from its artificial position. A piece of skin," adds Hufeland, "taken from a living head, had its hair turn gray at the same time as that on the head from which it was taken."||
Kepler, the forerunner of Newton in many great truths, even in that of the universal "gravitation" which he very justly attributed to magnetic attraction, notwithstanding that he terms astrology "the insane daughter of a most wise mother" — Astronomy, shares the kabalistic belief
that the spirits of the stars are so many "intelligences." He firmly believes that each planet is the seat of an intelligent principle, and that they are all inhabited by spiritual beings, who exercise influences over other beings inhabiting more gross and material spheres than their own and especially our earth.* As Kepler's spiritual starry influences were superseded by the vortices of the more materialistic Descartes, whose atheistical tendencies did not prevent him from believing that he had found out a diet that would prolong his life five hundred years and more, so the vortices of the latter and his astronomical doctrines may some day give place to the intelligent magnetic streams which are directed by the Anima Mundi.
Baptista Porta, the learned Italian philosopher, notwithstanding his endeavors to show to the world the groundlessness of their accusations of magic being a superstition and sorcery, was treated by later critics with the same unfairness as his colleagues. This celebrated alchemist left a work on Natural Magic,† in which he bases all of the occult phenomena possible to man upon the world-soul which binds all with all. He shows that the astral light acts in harmony and sympathy with all nature; that it is the essence out of which our spirits are formed; and that by acting in unison with their parent-source, our sidereal bodies are rendered capable of producing magic wonders. The whole secret depends on our knowledge of kindred elements. He believed in the philosopher's stone, "of which the world hath so great an opinion of, which hath been bragged of in so many ages and happily attained unto by some." Finally, he throws out many valuable hints as to its "spiritual meaning." In 1643, there appeared among the mystics a monk, Father Kircher, who taught a complete philosophy of universal magnetism. His numerous works‡ embrace many of the subjects merely hinted at by Paracelsus. His definition of magnetism is very original, for he contradicted Gilbert's theory that the earth was a great magnet. He asserted that although every particle of matter, and even the intangible invisible "powers" were magnetic, they did not themselves constitute a magnet. There is but one magnet in the universe, and from it proceeds the magnetization of everything existing. This magnet is of course what the kabalists term
the central Spiritual Sun, or God. The sun, moon, planets, and stars he affirmed are highly magnetic; but they have become so by induction from living in the universal magnetic fluid — the Spiritual light. He proves the mysterious sympathy existing between the bodies of the three principal kingdoms of nature, and strengthens his argument by a stupendous catalogue of instances. Many of these were verified by naturalists, but still more have remained unauthenticated; therefore, according to the traditional policy and very equivocal logic of our scientists, they are denied. For instance, he shows a difference between mineral magnetism and zoomagnetism, or animal magnetism. He demonstrates it in the fact that except in the case of the lodestone all the minerals are magnetized by the higher potency, the animal magnetism, while the latter enjoys it as the direct emanation from the first cause — the Creator. A needle can be magnetized by simply being held in the hand of a strong-willed man, and amber develops its powers more by the friction of the human hand than by any other object; therefore man can impart his own life, and, to a certain degree, animate inorganic objects. This, "in the eyes of the foolish, is sorcery." "The sun is the most magnetic of all bodies," he says; thus anticipating the theory of General Pleasonton by more than two centuries. "The ancient philosophers never denied the fact," he adds; "but have at all times perceived that the sun's emanations were binding all things to itself, and that it imparts this binding power to everything falling under its direct rays."
As a proof of it he brings the instance of a number of plants being especially attracted to the sun, and others to the moon, and showing their irresistible sympathy to the former by following its course in the heavens. The plant known as the Githymal,* faithfully follows its sovereign, even when it is invisible on account of the fog. The acacia uncloses its petals at its rising, and closes them at its setting. So does the Egyptian lotos and the common sunflower. The nightshade exhibits the same predilection for the moon.
As examples of antipathies or sympathies among plants, he instances the aversion which the vine feels for the cabbage, and its fondness toward the olive-tree; the love of the ranunculus for the water-lily, and of the rue for the fig. The antipathy which sometimes exists even among kindred substances is clearly demonstrated in the case of the Mexican pomegranate, whose shoots, when cut to pieces, repel each other with the "most extraordinary ferocity."
Kircher accounts for every feeling in human nature as results of changes in our magnetic condition. Anger, jealousy, friendship, love, and
hatred, are all modifications of the magnetic atmosphere which is developed in us and constantly emanates from us. Love is one of the most variable, and therefore the aspects of it are numberless. Spiritual love, that of a mother for her child, of an artist for some particular art, love as pure friendship, are purely magnetic manifestations of sympathy in congenial natures. The magnetism of pure love is the originator of every created thing. In its ordinary sense love between the sexes is electricity, and he calls it amor febris species, the fever of species. There are two kinds of magnetic attraction: sympathy and fascination; the one holy and natural, the other evil and unnatural. To the latter, fascination, we must attribute the power of the poisonous toad, which upon merely opening its mouth, forces the passing reptile or insect to run into it to its destruction. The deer, as well as smaller animals, are attracted by the breath of the boa, and are made irresistibly to come within its reach. The electric fish, the torpedo, repels the arm with a shock that for a time benumbs it. To exercise such a power for beneficent purposes, man requires three conditions: 1, nobility of soul; 2, strong will and imaginative faculty; 3, a subject weaker than the magnetizer; otherwise he will resist. A man free from worldly incentives and sensuality, may cure in such a way the most "incurable" diseases, and his vision may become clear and prophetic.
A curious instance of the above-mentioned universal attraction between all the bodies of the planetary system and everything organic as well as inorganic pertaining to them, is found in a quaint old volume of the seventeenth century. It contains notes of travel and an official report to the King of France, by his Ambassador, de la Loubere, upon what he has seen in the kingdom of Siam. "At Siam," he says, "there are two species of fresh-water fish, which they respectively call pal-out and pla-cadi fish. Once salted and placed uncut (whole) in the pot, they are found to exactly follow the flux and reflux of the sea, growing higher and lower in the pot as the sea ebbs or flows."* De la Loubere experimented with this fish for a long time, together with a government engineer, named Vincent, and, therefore, vouches for the truth of this assertion, which at first had been dismissed as an idle fable. So powerful is this mysterious attraction that it affected the fishes even when their bodies became totally rotten and fell to pieces.
It is especially in the countries unblessed with civilization that we should seek for an explanation of the nature, and observe the effects of that subtile power, which ancient philosophers called the "world's soul."
In the East only, and on the boundless tracts of unexplored Africa, will the student of psychology find abundant food for his truth-hungering soul. The reason is obvious. The atmosphere in populous neighborhoods is badly vitiated by the smoke and fumes of manufactories, steam-engines, railroads, and steamboats, and especially by the miasmatic exhalations of the living and the dead. Nature is as dependent as a human being upon conditions before she can work, and her mighty breathing, so to say, can be as easily interfered with, impeded, and arrested, and the correlation of her forces destroyed in a given spot, as though she were a man. Not only climate, but also occult influences daily felt not only modify the physio-psychological nature of man, but even alter the constitution of so-called inorganic matter in a degree not fairly realized by European science. Thus the London Medical and Surgical Journal advises surgeons not to carry lancets to Calcutta, because it has been found by personal experience "that English steel could not bear the atmosphere of India"; so a bunch of English or American keys will be completely covered with rust twenty-four hours after having been brought to Egypt; while objects made of native steel in those countries remain unoxidized. So, too, it has been found that a Siberian Shaman who has given stupendous proofs of his occult powers among his native Tschuktschen, is gradually and often completely deprived of such powers when coming into smoky and foggy London. Is the inner organism of man less sensitive to climatic influences than a bit of steel? If not, then why should we cast doubt upon the testimony of travellers who may have seen the Shaman, day after day, exhibit phenomena of the most astounding character in his native country, and deny the possibility of such powers and such phenomena, only because he cannot do as much in London or Paris? In his lecture on the Lost Arts, Wendell Phillips proves that besides the psychological nature of man being affected by a change of climate, Oriental people have physical senses far more acute than the Europeans. The French dyers of Lyons, whom no one can surpass in skill, he says, "have a theory that there is a certain delicate shade of blue that Europeans cannot see. . . . And in Cashmere, where the girls make shawls worth $30,000, they will show him (the dyer of Lyons) three hundred distinct colors, which he not only cannot make, but cannot even distinguish." If there is such a vast difference between the acuteness of the external senses of two races, why should there not be the same in their psychological powers? Moreover, the eye of a Cashmere girl is able to see objectively a color which does exist, but which being inappreciable by the European, is therefore non-existent for him. Why then not concede, that some peculiarly-endowed organisms, which are thought to be possessed of that mysterious faculty called second sight,
see their pictures as objectively as the girl sees the colors; and that therefore the former, instead of mere objective hallucinations called forth by imagination are, on the contrary, reflections of real things and persons impressed upon the astral ether, as explained by the old philosophy of the Chaldean Oracles, and surmised by those modern discoverers, Babbage, Jevons, and the authors of the Unseen Universe?
"Three spirits live and actuate man," teaches Paracelsus; "three worlds pour their beams upon him; but all three only as the image and echo of one and the same all-constructing and uniting principle of production. The first is the spirit of the elements (terrestrial body and vital force in its brute condition); the second, the spirit of the stars (sidereal or astral body — the soul); the third is the Divine spirit (Augoeides)." Our human body, being possessed of "primeval earth-stuff," as Paracelsus calls it, we may readily accept the tendency of modern scientific research "to regard the processes of both animal and vegetable life as simply physical and chemical." This theory only the more corroborates the assertions of old philosophers and the Mosaic Bible, that from the dust of the ground our bodies were made, and to dust they will return. But we must remember that
" 'Dust thou art, to dust returnest,'
Was not spoken of the soul."
Man is a little world — a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a foetus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause — the Spiritual Light of the World? This is the trinity of organic and inorganic nature — the spiritual and the physical, which are three in one, and of which Proclus says that "The first monad is the Eternal God; the second, eternity; the third, the paradigm, or pattern of the universe"; the three constituting the Intelligible Triad. Everything in this visible universe is the outflow of this Triad, and a microcosmic triad itself. And thus they move in majestic procession in the fields of eternity, around the spiritual sun, as in the heliocentric system the celestial bodies move round the visible suns. The Pythagorean Monad, which lives "in solitude and darkness," may remain on this earth forever invisible, impalpable, and undemonstrated by experimental science. Still the whole universe will be gravitating around it, as it did from the "beginning of time," and
with every second, man and atom approach nearer to that solemn moment in the eternity, when the Invisible Presence will become clear to their spiritual sight. When every particle of matter, even the most sublimated, has been cast off from the last shape that forms the ultimate link of that chain of double evolution which, throughout millions of ages and successive transformations, has pushed the entity onward; and when it shall find itself reclothed in that primordial essence, identical with that of its Creator, then this once impalpable organic atom will have run its race, and the sons of God will once more "shout for joy" at the return of the pilgrim.
"Man," says Van Helmont, "is the mirror of the universe, and his triple nature stands in relationship to all things." The will of the Creator, through which all things were made and received their first impulse, is the property of every living being. Man, endowed with an additional spirituality, has the largest share of it on this planet. It depends on the proportion of matter in him whether he will exercise its magical faculty with more or less success. Sharing this divine potency in common with every inorganic atom, he exercises it through the course of his whole life, whether consciously or otherwise. In the former case, when in the full possession of his powers, he will be the master, and the magnale magnum (the universal soul) will be controlled and guided by him. In the cases of animals, plants, minerals, and even of the average of humanity, this ethereal fluid which pervades all things, finding no resistance, and being left to itself, moves them as its impulse directs. Every created being in this sublunary sphere, is formed out of the magnale magnum, and is related to it. Man possesses a double celestial power, and is allied to heaven. This power is "not only in the outer man, but to a degree also in the animals, and perhaps in all other things, as all things in the universe stand in a relation to each other; or, at least, God is in all things, as the ancients have observed it with a worthy correctness. It is necessary that the magic strength should be awakened in the outer as well as in the inner man. . . . And if we call this a magic power, the uninstructed only can be terrified by the expression. But, if you prefer it, you can call it a spiritual power -- spirituale robur vocitaveris. There is, therefore, such magic power in the inner man. But, as there exists a certain relationship between the inner and the outer man, this strength must be diffused through the whole man."*
In an extended description of the religious rites, monastic life, and "superstitions" of the Siamese, de la Loubere cites among other things the wonderful power possessed by the Talapoin (the monks, or the holy
men of Buddha) over the wild beasts. "The Talapoin of Siam," he says, "will pass whole weeks in the dense woods under a small awning of branches and palm leaves, and never make a fire in the night to scare away the wild beasts, as all other people do who travel through the woods of this country." The people consider it a miracle that no Talapoin is ever devoured. The tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses — with which the neighborhood abounds — respect him; and travellers placed in secure ambuscade have often seen these wild beasts lick the hands and feet of the sleeping Talapoin. "They all use magic," adds the French gentleman, "and think all nature animated (ensouled);* they believe in tutelar geniuses." But that which seems to shock the author most is the idea which prevails among the Siamese, "that all that man was in his bodily life, he will be after death." "When the Tartar, which now reigns at China," remarks de la Loubere, "would force the Chinese to shave their hair after the Tartarian fashion, several of them chose rather to suffer death than to go, they said, into the other world and appear before their ancestors without hair; imagining that they shaved the head of the soul also!"† "Now, what is altogether impertinent," adds the Ambassador, "in this absurd opinion is, that the Orientals attribute the human figure rather than any other to the soul." Without enlightening his reader as to the particular shape these benighted Orientals ought to select for their disembodied souls, de la Loubere proceeds to pour out his wrath on these "savages." Finally, he attacks the memory of the old king of Siam, the father of the one to whose court he was sent, by accusing him of having foolishly spent over two million livres in search of the philosopher's stone. "The Chinese," he says, "reputed so wise, have for three or four thousand years had the folly of believing in the existence, and of seeking out a universal remedy by which they hope to exempt themselves from the necessity of dying. They base themselves on some foolish traditions, concerning some rare persons that are reported to have made gold, and to have lived some ages; there are some very strongly established facts among the Chinese, the Siamese, and other Orientals, concerning those that know how to render themselves immortal, either absolutely, or in such a manner that they can die no otherwise than by violent death.‡ Wherefore, they name some persons who have withdrawn themselves from the sight of men to enjoy free and peaceable life. They relate wonders concerning the knowledge of these pretended immortals."
If Descartes, a Frenchman and a scientist, could, in the midst of civilization, firmly believe that such a universal remedy had been found,
and that if possessed of it he could live at least five hundred years, why are not the Orientals entitled to the same belief? The master-problems of both life and death are still unsolved by occidental physiologists. Even sleep is a phenomenon about whose cause there is a great divergence of opinion among them. How, then, can they pretend to set limits to the possible, and define the impossible?
From the remotest ages the philosophers have maintained the singular power of music over certain diseases, especially of the nervous class. Kircher recommends it, having experienced its good effects in himself, and he gives an elaborate description of the instrument he employed. It was a harmonica composed of five tumblers of a very thin glass, placed in a row. In two of them were two different varieties of wine; in the third, brandy; in the fourth, oil; in the fifth, water. He extracted five melodious sounds from them in the usual way, by merely rubbing his finger on the edges of the tumblers. The sound has an attractive property; it draws out disease, which streams out to encounter the musical wave, and the two, blending together, disappear in space. Asclepiades employed music for the same purpose, some twenty centuries ago; he blew a trumpet to cure sciatica, and its prolonged sound making the fibres of the nerves to palpitate, the pain invariably subsided. Democritus in like manner affirmed that many diseases could be cured by the melodious sounds of a flute. Mesmer used this very harmonica described by Kircher for his magnetic cures. The celebrated Scotchman, Maxwell, offered to prove to various medical faculties that with certain magnetic means at his disposal, he would cure any of the diseases abandoned by them as incurable; such as epilepsy, impotence, insanity, lameness, dropsy, and the most obstinate fevers.*
The familiar story of the exorcism of the "evil spirit from God" that obsessed Saul, will recur to every one in this connection. It is thus related: "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."†
Maxwell, in his Medicina Magnetica, expounds the following propositions, all which are the very doctrines of the alchemists and kabalists.
And now let us see what are these abuses of mesmeric and magnetic powers in some healing mediums.
Healing, to deserve the name, requires either faith in the patient, or robust health united with a strong will, in the operator. With expectancy supplemented by faith, one can cure himself of almost any morbific condition. The tomb of a saint; a holy relic; a talisman; a bit of paper or a garment that has been handled by the supposed healer; a nostrum; a penance, or a ceremonial; the laying on of hands, or a few words impressively pronounced — either will do. It is a question of temperament, imagination, self-cure. In thousands of instances, the doctor, the priest, or the relic has had credit for healings that were solely and simply due to the patient's unconscious will. The woman with the bloody issue who pressed through the throng to touch the robe of Jesus, was told that her "faith" had made her whole.
The influence of mind over the body is so powerful that it has effected miracles at all ages.
"How many unhoped-for, sudden, and prodigious cures have been effected by imagination," says Salverte. "Our medical books are filled with facts of this nature which would easily pass for miracles."§
But, if the patient has no faith, what then? If he is physically nega-
* "Aphorisms," 22.
† Ibid., p. 69.
‡ Ibid., p. 70.
§ "Philosophie des Sciences Occultes."
tive and receptive, and the healer strong, healthy, positive, determined, the disease may be extirpated by the imperative will of the operator, which, consciously or unconsciously, draws to and reinforces itself with the universal spirit of nature, and restores the disturbed equilibrium of the patient's aura. He may employ as an auxiliary, a crucifix — as Gassner did; or impose the hands and "will," like the French Zouave Jacob, like our celebrated American, Newton, the healer of many thousands of sufferers, and like many others; or like Jesus, and some apostles, he may cure by the word of command. The process in each case is the same.
In all these instances, the cure is radical and real, and without secondary ill-effects. But, when one who is himself physically diseased, attempts healing, he not only fails of that, but often imparts his illness to his patient, and robs him of what strength he may have. The decrepit King David reinforced his failing vigor with the healthy magnetism of the young Abishag;* and the medical works tell us of an aged lady of Bath, England, who broke down the constitutions of two maids in succession, in the same way. The old sages, and Paracelsus also, removed disease by applying a healthy organism to the afflicted part, and in the works of the above-said fire-philosopher, their theory is boldly and categorically set forth. If a diseased person — medium or not — attempts to heal, his force may be sufficiently robust to displace the disease, to disturb it in the present place, and cause it to shift to another, where shortly it will appear; the patient, meanwhile, thinking himself cured.
But, what if the healer be morally diseased? The consequences may be infinitely more mischievous; for it is easier to cure a bodily disease than cleanse a constitution infected with moral turpitude. The mystery of Morzine, Cevennes, and that of the Jansenists, is still as great a mystery for physiologists as for psychologists. If the gift of prophecy, as well as hysteria and convulsions, can be imparted by "infection," why not every vice? The healer, in such a case, conveys to his patient — who is now his victim — the moral poison that infects his own mind and heart. His magnetic touch is defilement; his glance, profanation. Against this insidious taint, there is no protection for the passively-receptive subject. The healer holds him under his power, spell-bound and powerless, as the serpent holds a poor, weak bird. The evil that one such "healing medium" can effect is incalculably great; and such healers there are by the hundred.
But, as we have said before, there are real and God-like healers, who, notwithstanding all the malice and skepticism of their bigoted opponents,
have become famous in the world's history. Such are the Cure d'Ars, of Lyons, Jacob, and Newton. Such, also, were Gassner, the clergyman of Klorstele, and the well-known Valentine Greatrakes, the ignorant and poor Irishman, who was endorsed by the celebrated Robert Boyle, President of the Royal Society of London, in 1670. In 1870, he would have been sent to Bedlam, in company with other healers, if another president of the same society had had the disposal of the case, or Professor Lankester would have "summoned" him under the Vagrant Act for practicing upon Her Majesty's subjects "by palmistry or otherwise."
But, to close a list of witnesses which might be extended indefinitely, it will suffice to say that, from first to last, from Pythagoras down to Eliphas Levi, from highest to humblest, every one teaches that the magical power is never possessed by those addicted to vicious indulgences. Only the pure in heart "see God," or exercise divine gifts — only such can heal the ills of the body, and allow themselves, with relative security, to be guided by the "invisible powers." Such only can give peace to the disturbed spirits of their brothers and sisters, for the healing waters come from no poisonous source; grapes do not grow on thorns, and thistles bear no figs. But, for all this, "magic has nothing supernal in it"; it is a science, and even the power of "casting out devils" was a branch of it, of which the Initiates made a special study. "That skill which expels demons out of human bodies, is a science useful and sanative to men," says Josephus.*
The foregoing sketches are sufficient to show why we hold fast to the wisdom of the ages, in preference to any new theories that may have been hatched from the occurrences of our later days, respecting the laws of intermundane intercourse and the occult powers of man. While phenomena of a physical nature may have their value as a means of arousing the interest of materialists, and confirming, if not wholly, at least inferentially, our belief in the survival of our souls and spirits, it is questionable whether, under their present aspect, the modern phenomena are not doing more harm than good. Many minds, hungering after proofs of immortality, are fast falling into fanaticism; and, as Stow remarks, "fanatics are governed rather by imagination than judgment."
Undoubtedly, believers in the modern phenomena can claim for themselves a diversity of endowments, but the "discerning of spirits" is evidently absent from this catalogue of "spiritual" gifts. Speaking of the "Diakka," whom he one fine morning had discovered in a shady corner of the "Summer Land," A. J. Davis, the great American seer, remarks: "A Diakka is one who takes insane delight in playing parts, in juggling
tricks, in personating opposite characters; to whom prayer and profane utterances are of equi-value; surcharged with a passion for lyrical narrations; . . . morally deficient, he is without the active feelings of justice, philanthropy, or tender affection. He knows nothing of what men call the sentiment of gratitude; the ends of hate and love are the same to him; his motto is often fearful and terrible to others — SELF is the whole of private living, and exalted annihilation the end of all private life.* Only yesterday, one said to a lady medium, signing himself Swedenborg, this: 'Whatsoever is, has been, will be, or may be, that I am; and private life is but the aggregative phantasms of thinking throblets, rushing in their rising onward to the central heart of eternal death!' "†
Porphyry, whose works — to borrow the expression of an irritated phenomenalist — "are mouldering like every other antiquated trash in the closets of oblivion," speaks thus of these Diakka — if such be their name — rediscovered in the nineteenth century: "It is with the direct help of these bad demons, that every kind of sorcery is accomplished . . . it is the result of their operations, and men who injure their fellow-creatures by enchantments, usually pay great honors to these bad demons, and especially to their chief. These spirits pass their time in deceiving us, with a great display of cheap prodigies and illusions; their ambition is to be taken for gods, and their leader demands to be recognized as the supreme god."‡
The spirit signing himself Swedenborg — just quoted from Davis's Diakka, and hinting that he is the I am, singularly resembles this chief leader of Porphyry's bad demons.
What more natural than this vilification of the ancient and experienced theurgists by certain mediums, when we find Iamblichus, the expositor of spiritualistic theurgy, strictly forbidding all endeavors to procure such phenomenal manifestations; unless, after a long preparation of moral and physical purification, and under the guidance of experienced theurgists. When, furthermore, he declares that, with very few exceptions, for a person "to appear elongated or thicker, or be borne aloft in the air," is a sure mark of obsession by bad demons.§
Everything in this world has its time, and truth, however based upon unimpeachable evidence, will not root or grow, unless, like a plant, it is thrown into soil in its proper season. "The age must be prepared,"
says Professor Cooke; and some thirty years ago this humble work would have been doomed to self-destruction by its own contents. But the modern phenomenon, notwithstanding the daily exposes, the ridicule with which it is crowned at the hand of every materialist, and its own numerous errors, grows and waxes strong in facts, if not in wisdom and spirit. What would have appeared twenty years ago simply preposterous, may well be listened to now that the phenomena are endorsed by great scientists. Unfortunately, if the manifestations increase in power daily, there is no corresponding improvement in philosophy. The discernment of spirits is still as wanting as ever.
Perhaps, among the whole body of spiritualist writers of our day, not one is held in higher esteem for character, education, sincerity, and ability, than Epes Sargent, of Boston, Massachusetts. His monograph entitled The Proof Palpable of Immortality, deservedly occupies a high rank among works upon the subject. With every disposition to be charitable and apologetic for mediums and their phenomena, Mr. Sargent is still compelled to use the following language: "The power of spirits to reproduce simulacra of persons who have passed from the earth-life, suggests the question — How far can we be assured of the identity of any spirit, let the tests be what they may? We have not yet arrived at that stage of enlightenment that would enable us to reply confidently to this inquiry. . . . There is much that is yet a puzzle in the language and action of this class of materialized spirits." As to the intellectual calibre of most of the spirits which lurk behind the physical phenomena, Mr. Sargent will unquestionably be accepted as a most competent judge, and he says, "the great majority, as in this world, are of the unintellectual sort." If it is a fair question, we would like to ask why they should be so lacking in intelligence, if they are human spirits? Either intelligent human spirits cannot materialize, or, the spirits that do materialize have not human intelligence, and, therefore, by Mr. Sargent's own showing, they may just as well be "elementary" spirits, who have ceased to be human altogether, or those demons, which, according to the Persian Magi and Plato, hold a middle rank between gods and disembodied men.
There is good evidence, that of Mr. Crookes for one, to show that many "materialized" spirits talk in an audible voice. Now, we have shown, on the testimony of ancients, that the voice of human spirits is not and cannot be articulated; being, as Emanuel Swedenborg declares, "a deep suspiration." Who of the two classes of witnesses may be trusted more safely? Is it the ancients who had the experience of so many ages in theurgical practices, or modern spiritualists, who have had none at all, and who have no facts upon which to base an opinion, except such as have been communicated by "spirits," whose identity they have no means
of proving? There are mediums whose organisms have called out sometimes hundreds of these would-be "human" forms. And yet we do not recollect to have seen or heard of one expressing anything but the most commonplace ideas. This fact ought surely to arrest the attention of even the most uncritical spiritualist. If a spirit can speak at all, and if the way is opened to intelligent as well as to unintellectual beings, why should they not sometimes give us addresses in some remote degree approximating in quality to the communications we receive through the "direct writing"? Mr. Sargent puts forward a very suggestive and important idea in this sentence. "How far they are limited in their mental operations and in their recollections by the act of materialization, or how far by the intellectual horizon of the medium is still a question."* If the same kind of "spirits" materialize that produce the direct writing, and both manifest through mediums, and the one talk nonsense, while the other often give us sublime philosophical teachings, why should their mental operations be limited "by the intellectual horizon of the medium" in the one instance more than in the other? The materializing mediums — at least so far as our observation extends — are no more uneducated than many peasants and mechanics who at different times have, under supernal influences, given profound and sublime ideas to the world. The history of psychology teems with examples in illustration of this point, among which that of Boehme, the inspired but ignorant shoemaker, and our own Davis, are conspicuous. As to the matter of unintellectuality we presume that no more striking cases need be sought than those of the child-prophets of Cevennes, poets and seers, such as have been mentioned in previous chapters. When spirits have once furnished themselves with vocal organs to speak at all, it surely ought to be no more difficult for them to talk as persons of their assumed respective education, intelligence, and social rank would in life, instead of falling invariably into one monotonous tone of commonplace and, but too often, platitude. As to Mr. Sargent's hopeful remark, that "the science of Spiritualism being still in its infancy, we may hope for more light on this question," we fear we must reply, that it is not through "dark cabinets" that this light will ever break.†
It is simply ridiculous and absurd to require from every investigator who comes forward as a witness to the marvels of the day and psychological phenomena the diploma of a master of arts and sciences. The experience of the past forty years is an evidence that it is not always the minds which are the most "scientifically trained" that are the best in matters of simple common sense and honest truth. Nothing blinds like
fanaticism, or a one-sided view of a question. We may take as an illustration Oriental magic or ancient spiritualism, as well as the modern phenomena. Hundreds, nay thousands of perfectly trustworthy witnesses, returning from residence and travels in the East, have testified to the fact that uneducated fakirs, sheiks, dervishes, and lamas have, in their presence, without confederates or mechanical appliances, produced wonders. They have affirmed that the phenomena exhibited by them were in contravention of all the known laws of science, and thus tended to prove the existence of many yet unknown occult potencies in nature, seemingly directed by preterhuman intelligences. What has been the attitude assumed by our scientists toward this subject? How far did the testimony of the most "scientifically" trained minds make impression on their own? Did the investigations of Professors Hare and de Morgan, of Crookes and Wallace, de Gasparin and Thury, Wagner and Butlerof, etc., shake for one moment their skepticism? How were the personal experiences of Jacolliot with the fakirs of India received, or the psychological elucidations of Professor Perty, of Geneva, viewed? How far does the loud cry of mankind, craving for palpable and demonstrated signs of a God, an individual soul, and of eternity, affect them; and what is their response? They pull down and destroy every vestige of spiritual things, but they erect nothing. "We cannot get such signs with either retorts or crucibles," they say; "hence, it's all but a delusion!" In this age of cold reason and prejudice, even the Church has to look to science for help. Creeds built on sand, and high-towering but rootless dogmas, crumble down under the cold breath of research, and pull down true religion in their fall. But the longing for some outward sign of a God and a life hereafter, remains as tenaciously as ever in the human heart. In vain is all sophistry of science; it can never stifle the voice of nature. Only her representatives have poisoned the pure waters of simple faith, and now humanity mirrors itself in waters made turbid with all the mud stirred up from the bottom of the once pure spring. The anthropomorphic God of our fathers is replaced by anthropomorphic monsters; and what is still worse, by the reflection of humanity itself in these waters, whose ripples send it back the distorted images of truth and facts as evoked by its misguided imagination. "It is not a miracle that we want," writes the Reverend Brooke Herford, "but to find palpable evidence of the spiritual and the divine. It is not to the prophets that men cry for such a 'sign,' but rather to the scientists. Men feel as if all that groping about in the foremost verge or innermost recesses of creation should bring the investigator at length close to the deep, underlying facts of all things, to some unmistakable signs of God." The signs are there, and the scientists too; what can we expect more of them, now
that they have done so well their duty? Have they not, these Titans of thought, dragged down God from His hiding-place, and given us instead a protoplasm?
At the Edinburgh meeting of the British Association, in 1871, Sir William Thomson said: "Science is bound by the everlasting law of honor to face fearlessly every problem which can fairly be presented to it." In his turn, Professor Huxley remarks: "With regard to the miracle-question, I can only say that the word 'impossible' is not, to my mind, applicable to matters of philosophy." The great Humboldt remarks that "a presumptuous skepticism that rejects facts without examination of their truth is, in some respects, more injurious than unquestioning credulity."
These men have proved untrue to their own teachings. The opportunity afforded them by the opening of the Orient, to investigate for themselves the phenomena alleged by every traveller to take place in those countries, has been rejected. Did our physiologists and pathologists ever so much as think of availing themselves of it to settle this most momentous subject of human thought? Oh, no; for they would never dare. It is not to be expected that the principal Academicians of Europe and America should undertake a joint journey to Thibet and India, and investigate the fakir marvel on the spot! And were one of them to go as a solitary pilgrim and witness all the miracles of creation, in that land of wonders, who, of his colleagues, could be expected to believe his testimony?
It would be as tedious as superfluous to begin a restatement of facts, so forcibly put by others, Mr. Wallace and W. Howitt,* have repeatedly and cleverly described the thousand and one absurd errors into which the learned societies of France and England have fallen, through their blind skepticism. If Cuvier could throw aside the fossil excavated in 1828 by Boue, the French geologist, only because the anatomist thought himself wiser than his colleague, and would not believe that human skeletons could be found eighty feet deep in the mud of the Rhine; and if the French Academy could discredit the assertions of Boucher de Perthes, in 1846, only to be criticised in its turn in 1860, when the truth of de Perthes' discoveries and observations was fully confirmed by the whole body of geologists finding flint weapons in the drift-gravels of northern France; and if McEnery's testimony, in 1825, to the fact that he had discovered worked flints, together with the remains of extinct animals, in Kent's Hole Cavern† was laughed at; and that of
Godwin Austen to the same effect, in 1840, ridiculed still more, if that were possible; and all that excess of scientific skepticism and merriment could, in 1865, finally come to grief, and be shown to have been entirely uncalled for; when — says Mr. Wallace "all the previous reports for forty years were confirmed and shown to be even less wonderful than the reality;" — who can be so credulous as to believe in the infallibility of our science? And why wonder at the exhibition of such a lack of moral courage in individual members of this great and stubborn body known as modern science?
Thus fact after fact has been discredited. From all sides we hear constant complaints. "Very little is known of psychology!" sighs one F. R. S. "We must confess that we know little, if anything, in physiology," says another. "Of all sciences, there is none which rests upon so uncertain a basis as medicine," reluctantly testifies a third. "What do we know about the presumed nervous fluids? . . . Nothing, as yet," puts in a fourth one; and so on in every branch of science. And, meanwhile, phenomena, surpassing in interest all others of nature, and to be solved only by physiology, psychology, and the "as yet unknown" fluids, are either rejected as delusions, or, if even true, "do not interest" scientists. Or, what is still worse, when a subject, whose organism exhibits in itself the most important features of such occult though natural potencies, offers his person for an investigation, instead of an honest experiment being attempted with him he finds himself entrapped by a scientist (?) and paid for his trouble with a sentence of three months' imprisonment! This is indeed promising.
It is easy to comprehend that a fact given in 1731, testifying to another fact which happened during the papacy of Paul III., for instance, is disbelieved in 1876. And when scientists are told that the Romans preserved lights in their sepulchres for countless years by the oiliness of gold; and that one of such ever-burning lamps was found brightly burning in the tomb of Tullia, the daughter of Cicero, notwithstanding that the tomb had been shut up fifteen hundred and fifty years,* — they have a certain right to doubt, and even disbelieve the statement, until they assure themselves, on the evidence of their own senses, that such a thing is possible. In such a case they can reject the testimony of all the ancient and medieval philosophers. The burial of living fakirs and their subsequent resuscitation, after thirty days of inhumation, may have a suspicious look to them. So also with the self-infliction of mortal wounds, and the exhibition of their own bowels to the persons present by various lamas, who heal such wounds almost instantaneously.
For certain men who deny the evidence of their own senses as to phenomena produced in their own country, and before numerous witnesses, the narratives to be found in classical books, and in the notes of travellers, must of course seem absurd. But what we will never be able to understand is the collective stubbornness of the Academies, in the face of such bitter lessons in the past, to these institutions which have so often "darkened counsel by words without knowledge." Like the Lord answering Job "out of the whirlwind," magic can say to modern science: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding!" And, who art thou who dare say to nature, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed"?
But what matters it if they do deny? Can they prevent phenomena taking place in the four corners of the world, if their skepticism were a thousand times more bitter? Fakirs will still be buried and resuscitated, gratifying the curiosity of European travellers; and lamas and Hindu ascetics will wound, mutilate, and even disembowel themselves, and find themselves all the better for it; and the denials of the whole world will not blow sufficiently to extinguish the perpetually-burning lamps in certain of the subterranean crypts of India, Thibet, and Japan. One of such lamps is mentioned by the Rev. S. Mateer, of the London Mission. In the temple of Trevandrum, in the kingdom of Travancore, South India, "there is a deep well inside the temple, into which immense riches are thrown year by year, and in another place, in a hollow covered by a stone, a great golden lamp, which was lit over 120 years ago, still continues burning," says this missionary in his description of the place. Catholic missionaries attribute these lamps, as a matter of course, to the obliging services of the devil. The more prudent Protestant divine mentions the fact, and makes no commentary. The Abbe Huc has seen and examined one of such lamps, and so have other people whose good luck it has been to win the confidence and friendship of Eastern lamas and divines. No more can be denied the wonders seen by Captain Lane in Egypt; the Benares experiences of Jacolliot and those of Sir Charles Napier; the levitations of human beings in broad daylight, and which can be accounted for only on the explanation given in the Introductory chapter of the present work.* Such levitations are testified to — besides Mr. Crookes — by Professor Perty, who shows them produced in open air, and lasting sometimes twenty minutes; all these phenomena and many more have happened, do, and will happen in every country of this globe, and that in spite of all the skeptics and scientists that ever were evolved out of the Silurian mud.
Among the ridiculed claims of alchemy is that of the perpetual lamps. If we tell the reader that we have seen such, we may be asked — in case that the sincerity of our personal belief is not questioned — how we can tell that the lamps we have observed are perpetual, as the period of our observation was but limited? Simply that, as we know the ingredients employed, and the manner of their construction, and the natural law applicable to the case, we are confident that our statement can be corroborated upon investigation in the proper quarter. What that quarter is, and from whom that knowledge can be learned, our critics must discover, by taking the pains we did. Meanwhile, however, we will quote a few of the 173 authorities who have written upon the subject. None of these, as we recollect, have asserted that these sepulchral lamps would burn perpetually, but only for an indefinite number of years, and instances are recorded of their continuing alight for many centuries. It will not be denied that, if there is a natural law by which a lamp can be made without replenishment to burn ten years, there is no reason why the same law could not cause the combustion to continue one hundred or one thousand years.
Among the many well-known personages who firmly believed and strenuously asserted that such sepulchral lamps burned for several hundreds of years, and would have continued to burn may be forever, had they not been extinguished, or the vessels broken by some accident, we may reckon the following names: Clemens Alexandrinus, Hermolaus Barbarus, Appian, Burattinus, Citesius, Coelius, Foxius, Costaeus, Casalius, Cedrenus, Delrius, Ericius, Gesnerus, Jacobonus, Leander, Libavius, Lazius, P. della Mirandola, Philalethes, Licetus, Maiolus, Maturantius, Baptista Porta, Pancirollus, Ruscellius, Scardeonius, Ludovicus Vives, Volateranus, Paracelsus, several Arabian alchemists, and finally, Pliny, Solinus, Kircher, and Albertus Magnus.
The discovery is claimed by the ancient Egyptians, those sons of the Land of Chemistry.* At least, they were a people who used these lamps far more than any other nation, on account of their religious doctrines. The astral soul of the mummy was believed to be lingering about the body for the whole space of the three thousand years of the circle of necessity. Attached to it by a magnetic thread, which could be broken but by its own exertion, the Egyptians hoped that the ever-burning lamp, symbol of their incorruptible and immortal spirit, would at last decide the more material soul to part with its earthly dwelling, and unite forever with its divine self. Therefore lamps were hung in the sepulchres of the rich. Such lamps are often found in the subterranean caves of the dead,
and Licetus has written a large folio to prove that in his time, whenever a sepulchre was opened, a burning lamp was found within the tomb, but was instantaneously extinguished on account of the desecration. T. Livius, Burattinus, and Michael Schatta, in their letters to Kircher,* affirm that they found many lamps in the subterranean caves of old Memphis. Pausanias speaks of the golden lamp in the temple of Minerva at Athens, which he says was the workmanship of Callimachus, and burnt a whole year. Plutarch† affirms that he saw one in the temple of Jupiter Amun, and that the priests assured him that it had burnt continually for years, and though it stood in the open air, neither wind nor water could extinguish it. St. Augustine, the Catholic authority, also describes a lamp in the fane of Venus, of the same nature as the others, unextinguishable either by the strongest wind or by water. A lamp was found at Edessa, says Kedrenus, "which, being hidden at the top of a certain gate, burned 500 years." But of all such lamps, the one mentioned by Olybius Maximus of Padua is by far the more wonderful. It was found near Atteste, and Scardeonius‡ gives a glowing description of it: "In a large earthen urn was contained a lesser, and in that a burning lamp, which had continued so for 1500 years, by means of a most pure liquor contained in two bottles, one of gold and the other of silver. These are in the custody of Franciscus Maturantius, and are by him valued at an exceeding rate."
Taking no account of exaggerations, and putting aside as mere unsupported negation the affirmation by modern science of the impossibility of such lamps, we would ask whether, in case these inextinguishable fires are found to have really existed in the ages of "miracles," the lamps burning at Christian shrines and those of Jupiter, Minerva, and other Pagan deities, ought to be differently regarded. According to certain theologians, it would appear that the former (for Christianity also claims such lamps) have burned by a divine, miraculous power, and that the light of the latter, made by "heathen" art, was supported by the wiles of the devil. Kircher and Licetus show that they were ordered in these two diverse ways. The lamp at Antioch, which burned 1500 years, in an open and public place, over the door of a church, was preserved by the "power of God," who "hath made so infinite a number of stars to burn with perpetual light." As to the Pagan lamps, St. Augustine assures us they were the work of the devil, "who deceives us in a thousand ways." What more easy for Satan to do than represent a flash of light, or a bright flame to them who first enter into such a subterranean cave? This was as-
serted by all good Christians during the Papacy of Paul III., when upon opening a tomb in the Appian Way, at Rome, there was found the entire body of a young girl swimming in a bright liquor which had so well preserved it, that the face was beautiful and like life itself. At her feet burned a lamp, whose flame vanished upon opening the sepulchre. From some engraved signs it was found to have been buried for over 1500 years, and supposed to have been the body of Tulliola, or Tullia, Cicero's daughter.*
Chemists and physicists deny that perpetual lamps are possible, alleging that whatever is resolved into vapor or smoke cannot be permanent, but must consume; and as the oily nutriment of a lighted lamp is exhaled into a vapor, hence the fire cannot be perpetual for want of food. Alchemists, on the other hand, deny that all the nourishment of kindled fire must of necessity be converted into vapor. They say that there are things in nature which will not only resist the force of fire and remain inconsumable, but will also prove inextinguishable by either wind or water. In an old chemical work of the year 1700, called [[Nekrokedeia]], the author gives a number of refutations of the claims of various alchemists. But though he denies that a fire can be made to burn perpetually, he is half-inclined to believe it possible that a lamp should burn several hundred years. Besides, we have a mass of testimony from alchemists who devoted years to these experiments and came to the conclusion that it was possible.
There are some peculiar preparations of gold, silver, and mercury; also of naphtha, petroleum, and other bituminous oils. Alchemists also name the oil of camphor and amber, the Lapis asbestos seu Amianthus, the Lapis Carystius, Cyprius, and Linum vivum seu Creteum, as employed for such lamps. They affirm that such matter can be prepared either of gold or silver, reduced to fluid, and indicate that gold is the fittest pabulum for their wondrous flame, as, of all metals, gold wastes the least when either heated or melted, and, moreover, can be made to reabsorb its oily humidity as soon as exhaled, so continuously feeding its own flame when it is once lighted. The Kabalists assert that the secret was known to Moses, who had learned it from the Egyptians; and that the lamp ordered by the "Lord" to burn on the tabernacle, was an inextinguishable lamp. "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil-olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always" (Exod. xxvii. 20).
Licetus also denies that these lamps were prepared of metal, but on
page 44 of his work mentions a preparation of quicksilver filtrated seven times through white sand by fire, of which, he says, lamps were made that would burn perpetually. Both Maturantius and Citesius firmly believe that such a work can be done by a purely chemical process. This liquor of quicksilver was known among alchemists as Aqua Mercurialis, Materia Metallorum, Perpetua Dispositio, and Materia prima Artis, also Oleum Vitri. Tritenheim and Bartolomeo Korndorf both made preparations for the inextinguishable fire, and left their recipes for it.*
Asbestos, which was known to the Greeks under the name of [[Asbestos]], or inextinguishable, is a kind of stone, which once set on fire
cannot be quenched, as Pliny and Solinus tell us. Albertus Magnus describes it as a stone of an iron color, found mostly in Arabia. It is generally found covered with a hardly-perceptible oleaginous moisture, which upon being approached with a lighted candle will immediately catch fire. Many were the experiments made by chemists to extract from it this indissoluble oil, but they are alleged to have all failed. But, are our chemists prepared to say that the above operation is utterly impracticable? If this oil could once be extracted there can be no question but it would afford a perpetual fuel. The ancients might well boast of having had the secret of it, for, we repeat, there are experimenters living at this day who have done so successfully. Chemists who have vainly tried it, have asserted that the fluid or liquor chemically extracted from that stone was more of a watery than oily nature, and so impure and feculent that it could not burn; others affirmed, on the contrary, that the oil, as soon as exposed to the air, became so thick and solid that it would hardly flow, and when lighted emitted no flame, but escaped in dark smoke; whereas the lamps of the ancients are alleged to have burned with the purest and brightest flame, without emitting the slightest smoke. Kircher, who shows the practicability of purifying it, thinks it so difficult as to be accessible only to the highest adepts of alchemy.
St. Augustine, who attributes the whole of these arts to the Christian scapegoat, the devil, is flatly contradicted by Ludovicus Vives,* who shows that all such would-be magical operations are the work of man's industry and deep study of the hidden secrets of nature, wonderful and miraculous as they may seem. Podocattarus, a Cypriote knight,† had both flax and linen made out of another asbestos, which Porcacchius says‡ he saw at the house of this knight. Pliny calls this flax linum vinum, and Indian flax, and says it is done out of asbeston sive asbestinum, a kind of flax of which they made cloth that was to be cleaned by throwing it in the fire. He adds that it was as precious as pearls and diamonds, for not only was it very rarely found but exceedingly difficult to be woven, on account of the shortness of the threads. Being beaten flat with a hammer, it is soaked in warm water, and when dried its filaments can be easily divided into threads like flax and woven into cloth. Pliny asserts he has seen some towels made of it, and assisted in an experiment of purifying them by fire. Baptista Porta also states that he found the same, at Venice, in the hands of a Cyprian lady; he calls this discovery of Alchemy a secretum optimum.
Dr. Grew, in his description of the curiosities in Gresham College
(seventeenth century), believes the art, as well as the use of such linen, altogether lost, but it appears that it was not quite so, for we find the Museum Septalius boasting of the possession of thread, ropes, paper, and net-work done of this material as late as 1726; some of these articles made, moreover, by the own hand of Septalius, as we learn in Greenhill's Art of Embalming, p. 361. "Grew," says the author, "seems to make Asbestinus Lapis and Amianthus all one, and calls them in English the thrum-stone"; he says it grows in short threads or thrums, from about a quarter of an inch to an inch in length, parallel and glossy, as fine as those small, single threads the silk-worms spin, and very flexible like to flax or tow. That the secret is not altogether lost is proved by the fact that some Buddhist convents in China and Thibet are in possession of it. Whether made of the fibre of one or the other of such stones, we cannot say, but we have seen in a monastery of female Talapoins, a yellow gown, such as the Buddhist monks wear, thrown into a large pit, full of glowing coals, and taken out two hours afterward as clear as if it had been washed with soap and water.
Similar severe trials of asbestos having occurred in Europe and America in our own times, the substance is being applied to various industrial purposes, such as roofing-cloth, incombustible dresses and fireproof safes. A very valuable deposit on Staten Island, in New York harbor, yields the mineral in bundles, like dry wood, with fibres of several feet in length. The finer variety of asbestos, called [[amiantos]] (undefiled) by the ancients, took its name from its white, satin-like lustre.
The ancients made the wick of their perpetual lamps from another stone also, which they called Lapis Carystius. The inhabitants of the city of Carystos seemed to have made no secret of it, as Matthaeus Raderus says in his work* that they "kemb'd, spun, and wove this downy stone into mantles, table-linen, and the like, which when foul they purified again with fire instead of water." Pausanias, in Atticus, and Plutarch† also assert that the wicks of lamps were made from this stone; but Plutarch adds that it was no more to be found in his time. Licetus is inclined to believe that the perpetual lamps used by the ancients in their sepulchres had no wicks at all, as very few have been found; but Ludovicus Vives is of a contrary opinion and affirms that he has seen quite a number of them.
Licetus, moreover, is firmly persuaded that a "pabulum for fire may be given with such an equal temperament as cannot be consumed but after a long series of ages, and so that neither the matter shall exhale
but strongly resist the fire, nor the fire consume the matter, but be restrained by it, as it were with a chain, from flying upward." To this, Sir Thomas Browne,* speaking of lamps which have burned many hundred years, included in small bodies, observes that "this proceeds from the purity of the oil, which yields no fuliginous exhalations to suffocate the fire; for if air had nourished the flame, then it had not continued many minutes, for it would certainly in that case have been spent and wasted by the fire." But he adds, "the art of preparing this inconsumable oil is lost."
Not quite; and time will prove it, though all that we now write should be doomed to fail, like so many other truths.
We are told, in behalf of science, that she accepts no other mode of investigation than observation and experiment. Agreed; and have we not the records of say three thousand years of observation of facts going to prove the occult powers of man? As to experiment, what better opportunity could have been asked than the so-called modern phenomena have afforded? In 1869, various scientific Englishmen were invited by the London Dialectical Society to assist in an investigation of these phenomena. Let us see what our philosophers replied. Professor Huxley wrote: "I have no time for such an inquiry, which would involve much trouble and (unless it were unlike all inquiries of that kind I have known) much annoyance. . . . I take no interest in the subject . . . but supposing the phenomena to be genuine — they do not interest me."† Mr. George H. Lewes expresses a wise thing in the following sentence: "When any man says that phenomena are produced by no known physical laws, he declares he knows the laws by which they are produced."‡ Professor Tyndall expresses doubt as to the possibility of good results at any seance which he might attend. His presence, according to the opinion of Mr. Varley, throws everything in confusion.§ Professor Carpenter writes, "I have satisfied myself by personal investigation, that, whilst a great number of what pass as such (i.e., spiritual manifestations) are the results of intentional imposture, and many others of self-deception, there are certain phenomena which are quite genuine, and must be considered as fair subjects of scientific study . . . the source of these phenomena does not lie in any communication ab-extra, but depends upon the subjective condition of the individual which operates according to certain recognized physiological laws . . . the process to which I have given the name 'unconscious cerebration' . . . performs a
large part in the production of the phenomena known as spiritualistic."*
And it is thus that the world is apprised through the organ of exact science, that unconscious cerebration has acquired the faculty of making the guitars fly in the air and forcing furniture to perform various clownish tricks!
So much for the opinions of the English scientists. The Americans have not done much better. In 1857, a committee of Harvard University warned the public against investigating this subject, which "corrupts the morals and degrades the intellect." They called it, furthermore, "a contaminating influence, which surely tends to lessen the truth of man and the purity of woman." Later, when Professor Robert Hare, the great chemist, defying the opinions of his contemporaries, investigated spiritualism, and became a believer, he was immediately declared non compos mentis; and in 1874, when one of the New York daily papers addressed a circular letter to the principal scientists of this country, asking them to investigate, and offering to pay the expenses, they, like the guests bidden to the supper, "with one consent, began to make excuses."
Yet, despite the indifference of Huxley, the jocularity of Tyndall, and the "unconscious cerebration" of Carpenter, many a scientist as noted as either of them, has investigated the unwelcome subject, and, overwhelmed with the evidence, become converted. And another scientist, and a great author — although not a spiritualist — bears this honorable testimony: "That the spirits of the dead occasionally revisit the living, or haunt their former abodes, has been in all ages, in all European countries, a fixed belief, not confined to rustics, but participated in by the intelligent. . . . If human testimony on such subjects can be of any value, there is a body of evidence reaching from the remotest ages to the present time, as extensive and unimpeachable as is to be found in support of anything whatever."†
Unfortunately, human skepticism is a stronghold capable of defying any amount of testimony. And to begin with Mr. Huxley, our men of science accept of but so much as suits them, and no more.
"Oh shame to men! devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, — men only disagree
Of creatures rational. . . ."‡
How can we account for such divergence of views among men taught out of the same text-books and deriving their knowledge from the same
source? Clearly, this is but one more corroboration of the truism that no two men see the same thing exactly alike. This idea is admirably formulated by Dr. J. J. Garth Wilkinson, in a letter to the Dialectical Society.
"I have long," says he, "been convinced, by the experience of my life as a pioneer in several heterodoxies which are rapidly becoming orthodoxies, that nearly all truth is temperamental to us, or given in the affections and intuitions, and that discussion and inquiry do little more than feed temperament."
This profound observer might have added to his experience that of Bacon, who remarks that ". . . a little philosophy inclineth a man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth man's mind about to religion."
Professor Carpenter vaunts the advanced philosophy of the present day which "ignores no fact however strange that can be attested by valid evidence"; and yet he would be the first to reject the claims of the ancients to philosophical and scientific knowledge, although based upon evidence quite "as valid" as that which supports the pretensions of men of our times to philosophical or scientific distinction. In the department of science, let us take for example the subjects of electricity and electro-magnetism, which have exalted the names of Franklin and Morse to so high a place upon our roll of fame. Six centuries before the Christian era, Thales is said to have discovered the electric properties of amber; and yet the later researches of Schweigger, as given in his extensive works on Symbolism, have thoroughly demonstrated that all the ancient mythologies were based on the science of natural philosophy, and show that the most occult properties of electricity and magnetism were known to the theurgists of the earliest Mysteries recorded in history, those of Samothrace. Diodorus, of Sicily, Herodotus, and Sanchoniathon, the Phoenician — the oldest of historians — tell us that these Mysteries originated in the night of time, centuries and probably thousands of years prior to the historical period. One of the best proofs of it we find in a most remarkable picture, in Raoul-Rochette's Monuments d'Antiquite Figures, in which, like the "erect-haired Pan," all the figures have their hair streaming out in every direction — except the central figure of the Kabeirian Demeter, from whom the power issues, and one other, a kneeling man.* The picture, according to Schweigger, evidently represents a part of the ceremony of initiation. And yet it is not so long since the elementary works on natural philosophy began to be ornamented with cuts of electrified heads, with hair
standing out in all directions, under the influence of the electric fluid. Schweigger shows that a lost natural philosophy of antiquity was connected with the most important religious ceremonies. He demonstrates in the amplest manner, that magic in the prehistoric periods had a part in the mysteries and that the greatest phenomena, the so-called miracles — whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian — rested in fact on the arcane knowledge of the ancient priests of physics and all the branches of chemistry, or rather alchemy.
In chapter xi., which is entirely devoted to the wonderful achievements of the ancients, we propose to demonstrate our assertions more fully. We will show, on the evidence of the most trustworthy classics, that at a period far anterior to the siege of Troy, the learned priests of the sanctuaries were thoroughly acquainted with electricity and even lightning-conductors. We will now add but a few more words before closing the subject.
The theurgists so well understood the minutest properties of magnetism, that, without possessing the lost key to their arcana, but depending wholly upon what was known in their modern days of electro-magnetism, Schweigger and Ennemoser have been able to trace the identity of the "twin brothers," the Dioskuri, with the polarity of electricity and magnetism. Symbolical myths, previously supposed to be meaningless fictions, are now found to be "the cleverest and at the same time most profound expressions of a strictly scientifically defined truth of nature," according to Ennemoser.*
Our physicists pride themselves on the achievements of our century and exchange antiphonal hymns of praise. The eloquent diction of their class-lectures, their flowery phraseology, require but a slight modification to change these lectures into melodious sonnets. Our modern Petrarchs, Dantes, and Torquato Tassos rival with the troubadours of old in poetical effusion. In their unbounded glorification of matter, they sing the amorous commingling of the wandering atoms, and the loving interchange of protoplasms, and lament the coquettish fickleness of "forces" which play so provokingly at hide-and-seek with our grave professors in the great drama of life, called by them "force-correlation." Proclaiming matter sole and autocratic sovereign of the Boundless Universe, they would forcibly divorce her from her consort, and place the widowed queen on the great throne of nature made vacant by the exiled spirit. And now, they try to make her appear as attractive as they can by incensing and worshipping at the shrine of their own building. Do they forget, or are they utterly unaware of the fact, that in the absence of its
legitimate sovereign, this throne is but a whitened sepulchre, inside of which all is rottenness and corruption! That matter without the spirit which vivifies it, and of which it is but the "gross purgation," to use a hermetic expression, is nothing but a soulless corpse, whose limbs, in order to be moved in predetermined directions, require an intelligent operator at the great galvanic battery called Life!
In what particular is the knowledge of the present century so superior to that of the ancients? When we say knowledge we do not mean that brilliant and clear definition of our modern scholars of particulars to the most trifling detail in every branch of exact science; of that tuition which finds an appropriate term for every detail insignificant and microscopic as it may be; a name for every nerve and artery in human and animal organisms, an appellation for every cell, filament, and rib in a plant; but the philosophical and ultimate expression of every truth in nature.
The greatest ancient philosophers are accused of shallowness and a superficiality of knowledge of those details in exact sciences of which the moderns boast so much. Plato is declared by his various commentators to have been utterly ignorant of the anatomy and functions of the human body; to have known nothing of the uses of the nerves to convey sensations; and to have had nothing better to offer than vain speculations concerning physiological questions. He has simply generalized the divisions of the human body, they say, and given nothing reminding us of anatomical facts. As to his own views on the human frame, the microcosmos being in his ideas the image in miniature of the macrocosmos, they are much too transcendental to be given the least attention by our exact and materialistic skeptics. The idea of this frame being, as well as the universe, formed out of triangles, seems preposterously ridiculous to several of his translators. Alone of the latter, Professor Jowett, in his introduction to the Timaeus, honestly remarks that the modern physical philosopher "hardly allows to his notions the merit of being 'the dead men's bones' out of which he has himself risen to a higher knowledge";* forgetting how much the metaphysics of olden times has helped the "physical" sciences of the present day. If, instead of quarrelling with the insufficiency and at times absence of terms and definitions strictly scientific in Plato's works, we analyze them carefully, the Timaeus, alone, will be found to contain within its limited space the germs of every new discovery. The circulation of the blood and the law of gravitation are clearly mentioned, though the former fact, it may be, is not so clearly defined as to withstand the reiterated attacks of modern
science; for according to Prof. Jowett, the specific discovery that the blood flows out at one side of the heart through the arteries, and returns through the veins at the other, was unknown to him, though Plato was perfectly aware "that blood is a fluid in constant motion."
Plato's method, like that of geometry, was to descend from universals to particulars. Modern science vainly seeks a first cause among the permutations of molecules; the former sought and found it amid the majestic sweep of worlds. For him it was enough to know the great scheme of creation and to be able to trace the mightiest movements of the universe through their changes to their ultimates. The petty details, whose observation and classification have so taxed and demonstrated the patience of modern scientists, occupied but little of the attention of the old philosophers. Hence, while a fifth-form boy of an English school can prate more learnedly about the little things of physical science than Plato himself, yet, on the other hand, the dullest of Plato's disciples could tell more about great cosmic laws and their mutual relations, and demonstrate a familiarity with and control over the occult forces which lie behind them, than the most learned professor in the most distinguished academy of our day.
This fact, so little appreciated and never dwelt upon by Plato's translators, accounts for the self-laudation in which we moderns indulge at the expense of that philosopher and his compeers. Their alleged mistakes in anatomy and physiology are magnified to an inordinate extent to gratify our self-love, until, in acquiring the idea of our own superior learning, we lose sight of the intellectual splendor which adorns the ages of the past; it is as if one should, in fancy, magnify the solar spots until he should believe the bright luminary to be totally eclipsed.
The unprofitableness of modern scientific research is evinced in the fact that while we have a name for the most trivial particle of mineral, plant, animal, and man, the wisest of our teachers are unable to tell us anything definite about the vital force which produces the changes in these several kingdoms. It is necessary to seek further for corroboration of this statement than the works of our highest scientific authorities themselves.
It requires no little moral courage in a man of eminent professional position to do justice to the acquirements of the ancients, in the face of a public sentiment which is content with nothing else than their abasement. When we meet with a case of the kind we gladly lay a laurel at the feet of the bold and honest scholar. Such is Professor Jowett, Master of Balliol College, and Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford, who, in his translation of Plato's works, speaking of "the physical philosophy of the ancients as a whole," gives them the following
credit: 1. "That the nebular theory was the received belief of the early physicists." Therefore it could not have rested, as Draper asserts,* upon the telescopic discovery made by Herschel I. 2. "That the development of animals out of frogs who came to land, and of man out of the animals, was held by Anaximenes in the sixth century before Christ." The professor might have added that this theory antedated Anaximenes by some thousands of years, perhaps; that it was an accepted doctrine among Chaldeans, and that Darwin's evolution of species and monkey theory are of an antediluvian origin. 3. " . . . that, even by Philolaus and the early Pythagoreans, the earth was held to be a body like the other stars revolving in space."† Thus Galileo, studying some Pythagorean fragments, which are shown by Reuchlin to have yet existed in the days of the Florentine mathematician;‡ being, moreover, familiar with the doctrines of the old philosophers, but reasserted an astronomical doctrine which prevailed in India at the remotest antiquity. 4. The ancients " . . . thought that there was a sex in plants as well as in animals." Thus our modern naturalists had but to follow in the steps of their predecessors. 5. "That musical notes depended on the relative length or tension of the strings from which they were emitted, and were measured by ratios of number." 6. "That mathematical laws pervaded the world and even qualitative differences were supposed to have their origin in number"; and 7. "The annihilation of matter was denied by them, and held to be a transformation only."§ "Although one of these discoveries might have been supposed to be a happy guess," adds Mr. Jowett, "we can hardly attribute them all to mere coincidences."||
In short, the Platonic philosophy was one of order, system, and proportion; it embraced the evolution of worlds and species, the correlation and conservation of energy, the transmutation of material form, the indestructibility of matter and of spirit. Their position in the latter respect being far in advance of modern science, and binding, the arch of their
philosophical system with a keystone at once perfect and immovable. If science has made such colossal strides during these latter days — if we have such clearer ideas of natural law than the ancients — why are our inquiries as to the nature and source of life unanswered? If the modern laboratory is so much richer in the fruits of experimental research than those of the olden time, how comes it that we make no step except on paths that were trodden long before the Christian era? How does it happen that the most advanced standpoint that has been reached in our times only enables us to see in the dim distance up the Alpine path of knowledge the monumental proofs that earlier explorers have left to mark the plateaux they had reached and occupied?
If modern masters are so much in advance of the old ones, why do they not restore to us the lost arts of our postdiluvian forefathers? Why do they not give us the unfading colors of Luxor — the Tyrian purple; the bright vermilion and dazzling blue which decorate the walls of this place, and are as bright as on the first day of their application? The indestructible cement of the pyramids and of ancient aqueducts; the Damascus blade, which can be turned like a corkscrew in its scabbard without breaking; the gorgeous, unparalleled tints of the stained glass that is found amid the dust of old ruins and beams in the windows of ancient cathedrals; and the secret of the true malleable glass? And if chemistry is so little able to rival even with the early mediaeval ages in some arts, why boast of achievements which, according to strong probability, were perfectly known thousands of years ago? The more archaeology and philology advance, the more humiliating to our pride are the discoveries which are daily made, the more glorious testimony do they bear in behalf of those who, perhaps on account of the distance of their remote antiquity, have been until now considered ignorant flounderers in the deepest mire of superstition.
Why should we forget that, ages before the prow of the adventurous Genoese clove the Western waters, the Phoenician vessels had circumnavigated the globe, and spread civilization in regions now silent and deserted? What archaeologist will dare assert that the same hand which planned the Pyramids of Egypt, Karnak, and the thousand ruins now crumbling to oblivion on the sandy banks of the Nile, did not erect the monumental Nagkon-Wat of Cambodia? or trace the hieroglyphics on the obelisks and doors of the deserted Indian village, newly discovered in British Columbia by Lord Dufferin? or those on the ruins of Palenque and Uxmal, of Central America? Do not the relics we treasure in our museums — last mementos of the long "lost arts" — speak loudly in favor of ancient civilization? And do they not prove, over and over again, that nations and continents that have passed away have buried
along with them arts and sciences, which neither the first crucible ever heated in a mediaeval cloister, nor the last cracked by a modern chemist have revived, nor will — at least, in the present century.
"They were not without some knowledge of optics," Professor Draper magnanimously concedes to the ancients; others positively deny to them even that little. "The convex lens found at Nimroud shows that they were not unacquainted with magnifying instruments."* Indeed? If they were not, all the classical authors must have lied. For, when Cicero tells us that he had seen the entire Iliad written on skin of such a miniature size, that it could easily be rolled up inside a nut-shell, and Pliny asserts that Nero had a ring with a small glass in it, through which he watched the performance of the gladiators at a distance — could audacity go farther? Truly, when we are told that Mauritius could see from the promontory of Sicily over the entire sea to the coast of Africa, with an instrument called nauscopite, we must either think that all these witnesses lied, or that the ancients were more than slightly acquainted with optics and magnifying glasses. Wendell Phillips states that he has a friend who possesses an extraordinary ring "perhaps three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and on it is the naked figure of the god Hercules. By the aid of glasses, you can distinguish the interlacing muscles, and count every separate hair on the eyebrows. . . . Rawlinson brought home a stone about twenty inches long and ten wide, containing an entire treatise on mathematics. It would be perfectly illegible without glasses. . . . In Dr. Abbott's Museum, there is a ring of Cheops, to which Bunsen assigns 500 B.C. The signet of the ring is about the size of a quarter of a dollar, and the engraving is invisible without the aid of glasses. . . . At Parma, they will show you a gem once worn on the finger of Michael Angelo, of which the engraving is 2,000 years old, and on which there are the figures of seven women. You must have the aid of powerful glasses in order to distinguish the forms at all. . . . So the microscope," adds the learned lecturer, "instead of dating from our time, finds its brothers in the Books of Moses — and these are infant brothers."
The foregoing facts do not seem to show that the ancients had merely "some knowledge of optics." Therefore, totally disagreeing in this particular with Professor Fiske and his criticism of Professor Draper's Conflict in his Unseen World, the only fault we find with the admirable book of Draper is that, as an historical critic, he sometimes uses his own optical instruments in the wrong place. While, in order to magnify the atheism of the Pythagorean Bruno, he looks through convex lenses; when-
ever talking of the knowledge of the ancients, he evidently sees things through concave ones.
It is simply worthy of admiration to follow in various modern works the cautious attempts of both pious Christians and skeptical, albeit very learned men, to draw a line of demarcation between what we are and what we are not to believe, in ancient authors. No credit is ever allowed them without being followed by a qualifying caution. If Strabo tells us that ancient Nineveh was forty-seven miles in circumference, and his testimony is accepted, why should it be otherwise the moment he testifies to the accomplishment of Sibylline prophecies? Where is the common sense in calling Herodotus the "Father of History," and then accusing him, in the same breath, of silly gibberish, whenever he recounts marvellous manifestations, of which he was an eye-witness? Perhaps, after all, such a caution is more than ever necessary, now that our epoch has been christened the Century of Discovery. The disenchantment may prove too cruel for Europe. Gunpowder, which has long been thought an invention of Bacon and Schwartz, is now shown in the school-books to have been used by the Chinese for levelling hills and blasting rocks, centuries before our era. "In the Museum of Alexandria," says Draper, "there was a machine invented by Hero, the mathematician, a little more than 100 years B.C. It revolved by the agency of steam, and was of the form that we should now call a reaction-engine. . . . Chance had nothing to do with the invention of the modern steam-engine."* Europe prides herself upon the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo, and now we are told that the astronomical observations of the Chaldeans extend back to within a hundred years of the flood; and Bunsen fixes the flood at not less than 10,000 years before our era.† Moreover, a Chinese emperor, more than 2,000 years before the birth of Christ (i.e., before Moses) put to death his two chief astronomers for not predicting an eclipse of the sun.
It may be noted, as an example of the inaccuracy of current notions as to the scientific claims of the present century, that the discoveries of the indestructibility of matter and force-correlation, especially the latter, are heralded as among our crowning triumphs. It is "the most important discovery of the present century," as Sir William Armstrong expressed it in his famous address as president of the British Association. But, this "important discovery" is no discovery after all. Its origin, apart from the undeniable traces of it to be found among the old philosophers, is lost in the dense shadows of prehistoric days. Its first vestiges are dis-
covered in the dreamy speculations of Vedic theology, in the doctrine of emanation and absorption, the nirvana in short. John Erigena outlined it in his bold philosophy in the eighth century, and we invite any one to read his De Divisione Naturae, who would convince himself of this truth. Science tells that when the theory of the indestructibility of matter (also a very, very old idea of Demokritus, by the way) was demonstrated, it became necessary to extend it to force. No material particle can ever be lost; no part of the force existing in nature can vanish; hence, force was likewise proved indestructible, and its various manifestations or forces, under divers aspects, were shown to be mutually convertible, and but different modes of motion of the material particles. And thus was rediscovered the force-correlation. Mr. Grove, so far back as 1842, gave to each of these forces, such as heat, electricity, magnetism, and light, the character of convertibility; making them capable of being at one moment a cause, and at the next an effect.* But whence come these forces, and whither do they go, when we lose sight of them? On this point science is silent.
The theory of "force-correlation," though it may be in the minds of our contemporaries "the greatest discovery of the age," can account for neither the beginning nor the end of one of such forces; neither can the theory point out the cause of it. Forces may be convertible, and one may produce the other, still, no exact science is able to explain the alpha and omega of the phenomenon. In what particular are we then in advance of Plato who, discussing in the Timaeus the primary and secondary qualities of matter† and the feebleness of human intellect, makes Timaeus say: "God knows the original qualities of things; man can only hope to attain to probability." We have but to open one of the several pamphlets of Huxley and Tyndall to find precisely the same confession; but they improve upon Plato by not allowing even God to know more than themselves; and perhaps it may be upon this that they base their claims of superiority? The ancient Hindus founded their doctrine of emanation and absorption on precisely that law. The [[To On]], the primordial point in the boundless circle, "whose circumference is nowhere, and the centre everywhere," emanating from itself all things, and manifesting them in the visible universe under multifarious forms; the forms interchanging, commingling, and, after a gradual transformation from the pure spirit (or the Buddhistic "nothing"), into the grossest matter, beginning to recede and as gradually re-emerge into their primitive state, which is the absorption into Nirvana‡ — what else is this but correlation of forces?
Science tells us that heat may be shown to develop electricity, electricity produce heat; and magnetism to evolve electricity, and vice versa. Motion, they tell us, results from motion itself, and so on, ad infinitum. This is the A B C of occultism and of the earliest alchemists. The indestructibility of matter and force being discovered and proved, the great problem of eternity is solved. What need have we more of spirit? its uselessness is henceforth scientifically demonstrated!
Thus modern philosophers may be said not to have gone one step beyond what the priests of Samothrace, the Hindus, and even the Christian Gnostics well knew. The former have shown it in that wonderfully ingenious mythos of the Dioskuri, or "the sons of heaven"; the twin brothers, spoken of by Schweigger, "who constantly die and return to life together, while it is absolutely necessary that one should die that the other may live." They knew as well as our physicists, that when a force has disappeared it has simply been converted into another force. Though archaeology may not have discovered any ancient apparatus for such special conversions, it may nevertheless be affirmed with perfect reason and upon analogical deductions that nearly all the ancient religions were based on such indestructibility of matter and force — plus the emanation of the whole from an ethereal, spiritual fire — or the central sun, which is God or spirit, on the knowledge of whose potentiality is based ancient theurgic magic.
In the manuscript commentary of Proclus on magic he gives the following account: "In the same manner as lovers gradually advance from that beauty which is apparent in sensible forms, to that which is divine; so the ancient priests, when they considered that there is a certain alliance and sympathy in natural things to each other, and of things manifest to occult powers, and discovered that all things subsist in all, they fabricated a sacred science from this mutual sympathy and similarity. Thus they recognized things supreme in such as are subordinate, and the subordinate in the supreme; in the celestial regions, terrene properties subsisting in a causal and celestial manner; and in earth celestial properties, but according to a terrene condition."
Proclus then proceeds to point to certain mysterious peculiarities of
plants, minerals, and animals, all of which are well known to our naturalists, but none of which are explained. Such are the rotatory motion of the sunflower, of the heliotrope, of the lotos — which, before the rising of the sun, folds its leaves, drawing the petals within itself, so to say, then expands them gradually, as the sun rises, and draws them in again as it descends to the west — of the sun and lunar stones and the helioselenus, of the cock and lion, and other animals. "Now the ancients," he says, "having contemplated this mutual sympathy of things (celestial and terrestrial) applied them for occult purposes, both celestial and terrene natures, by means of which, through a certain similitude, they deduced divine virtues into this inferior abode. . . . All things are full of divine natures; terrestrial natures receiving the plenitude of such as are celestial, but celestial of supercelestial essences, while every order of things proceeds gradually in a beautiful descent from the highest to the lowest.* For whatever particulars are collected into one above the order of things, are afterwards dilated in descending, various souls being distributed under their various ruling divinities."†
Evidently Proclus does not advocate here simply a superstition, but science; for notwithstanding that it is occult, and unknown to our scholars, who deny its possibilities, magic is still a science. It is firmly and solely based on the mysterious affinities existing between organic and inorganic bodies, the visible productions of the four kingdoms, and the invisible powers of the universe. That which science calls gravitation, the ancients and the mediaeval hermetists called magnetism, attraction, affinity. It is the universal law, which is understood by Plato and explained in Timaeus as the attraction of lesser bodies to larger ones, and of similar bodies to similar, the latter exhibiting a magnetic power rather than following the law of gravitation. The anti-Aristotelean formula that gravity causes all bodies to descend with equal rapidity, without reference to their weight, the difference being caused by some other unknown agency, would seem to point a great deal more forcibly to magnetism than to gravitation, the former attracting rather in virtue of the substance than of the weight. A thorough familiarity with the occult faculties of everything existing in nature, visible as well as invisible; their mutual relations, attractions, and repulsions; the cause of these, traced to the spiritual principle which pervades and animates all things; the ability to furnish the best conditions for this principle to manifest itself, in other words a profound and exhaustive knowledge of natural law — this was and is the basis of magic.
In his notes on Ghosts and Goblins, when reviewing some facts adduced by certain illustrious defenders of the spiritual phenomena, such as Professor de Morgan, Mr. Robert Dale Owen, and Mr. Wallace, among others — Mr. Richard A. Proctor says that he "cannot see any force in the following remarks by Professor Wallace: 'How is such evidence as this,' he (Wallace) says, speaking of one of Owen's stories, 'refuted or explained away? Scores, and even hundreds, of equally-attested facts are on record, but no attempt is made to explain them. They are simply ignored, and in many cases admitted to be inexplicable.' " To this Mr. Proctor jocularly replies that as "our philosophers declare that they have long ago decided these ghost stories to be all delusions; therefore they need only be ignored; and they feel much 'worritted' that fresh evidence should be adduced, and fresh converts made, some of whom are so unreasonable as to ask for a new trial on the ground that the former verdict was contrary to the evidence."
"All this," he goes on to say, "affords excellent reason why the 'converts' should not be ridiculed for their belief; but something more to the purpose must be urged before 'the philosophers' can be expected to devote much of their time to the inquiry suggested. It ought to be shown that the well-being of the human race is to some important degree concerned in the matter, whereas the trivial nature of all ghostly conduct hitherto recorded is admitted even by converts!"
Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten has collected a great number of authenticated facts from secular and scientific journals, which show with what serious questions our scientists sometimes replace the vexed subject of "Ghosts and Goblins." She quotes from a Washington paper a report of one of these solemn conclaves, held on the evening of April 29th, 1854. Professor Hare, of Philadelphia, the venerable chemist, who was so universally respected for his individual character, as well as for his life-long labors for science, "was bullied into silence" by Professor Henry, as soon as he had touched the subject of spiritualism. "The impertinent action of one of the members of the 'American Scientific Association,' " says the authoress, "was sanctioned by the majority of that distinguished body and subsequently endorsed by all of them in their proceedings."* On the following morning, in the report of the session, the Spiritual Telegraph thus commented upon the events:
"It would seem that a subject like this" — (presented by Professor Hare) "was one which would lie peculiarly within the domain of 'science.' But the 'American Association for the Promotion of Science'† decided
that it was either unworthy of their attention or dangerous for them to meddle with, and so they voted to put the invitation on the table. . . . We cannot omit in this connection to mention that the 'American Association for the Promotion of Science' held a very learned, extended, grave, and profound discussion at the same session, upon the cause why 'roosters crow between twelve and one o'clock at night!' " A subject worthy of philosophers; and one, moreover, which must have been shown to effect "the well-being of the human race" in a very "important degree."
It is sufficient for one to express belief in the existence of a mysterious sympathy between the life of certain plants and that of human beings, to assure being made the subject of ridicule. Nevertheless, there are many well-authenticated cases going to show the reality of such an affinity. Persons have been known to fall sick simultaneously with the uprooting of a tree planted upon their natal day, and dying when the tree died. Reversing affairs, it has been known that a tree planted under the same circumstances withered and died simultaneously with the person whose twin brother, so to speak, it was. The former would be called by Mr. Proctor an "effect of the imagination"; the latter a "curious coincidence."
Max Muller gives a number of such cases in his essay On Manners and Customs. He shows this popular tradition existing in Central America, in India, and Germany. He traces it over nearly all Europe; finds it among the Maori Warriors, in British Guiana, and in Asia. Reviewing Tyler's Researches into the Early History of Mankind, a work in which are brought together quite a number of such traditions, the great philologist very justly remarks the following: "If it occurred in Indian and German tales only, we might consider it as ancient Aryan property; but when we find it again in Central America, nothing remains but either to admit a later communication between European settlers and native American story-tellers . . . or to inquire whether there is not some intelligible and truly human element in this supposed sympathy between the life of flowers and the life of man."
The present generation of men, who believe in nothing beyond the superficial evidence of their senses, will doubtless reject the very idea of such a sympathetic power existing in plants, animals, and even stones. The caul covering their inner sight allows them to see but that which they cannot well deny. The author of the Asclepian Dialogue furnishes us with a reason for it, that might perhaps fit the present period and account for this epidemic of unbelief. In our century, as then, "there
is a lamentable departure of divinity from man, when nothing worthy of heaven or celestial concerns is heard or believed, and when every divine voice is by a necessary silence dumb."* Or, as the Emperor Julian has it, "the little soul" of the skeptic "is indeed acute, but sees nothing with a vision healthy and sound."
We are at the bottom of a cycle and evidently in a transitory state. Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. In the sublunary regions, the spheres of the various elements remain eternally in perfect harmony with the divine nature, he says; "but their parts," owing to a too close proximity to earth, and their commingling with the earthly (which is matter, and therefore the realm of evil), "are sometimes according, and sometimes contrary to (divine) nature." When those circulations — which Eliphas Levi calls "currents of the astral light" — in the universal ether which contains in itself every element, take place in harmony with the divine spirit, our earth and everything pertaining to it enjoys a fertile period. The occult powers of plants, animals, and minerals magically sympathize with the "superior natures," and the divine soul of man is in perfect intelligence with these "inferior" ones. But during the barren periods, the latter lose their magic sympathy, and the spiritual sight of the majority of mankind is so blinded as to lose every notion of the superior powers of its own divine spirit. We are in a barren period: the eighteenth century, during which the malignant fever of skepticism broke out so irrepressibly, has entailed unbelief as an hereditary disease upon the nineteenth. The divine intellect is veiled in man; his animal brain alone philosophizes.
Formerly, magic was a universal science, entirely in the hands of the sacerdotal savant. Though the focus was jealously guarded in the sanctuaries, its rays illuminated the whole of mankind. Otherwise, how are we to account for the extraordinary identity of "superstitions," customs, traditions, and even sentences, repeated in popular proverbs so widely scattered from one pole to the other that we find exactly the same ideas among the Tartars and Laplanders as among the southern nations of Europe, the inhabitants of the steppes of Russia, and the aborigines of North and South America? For instance, Tyler shows one of the ancient Pythagorean maxims, "Do not stir the fire with a sword," as popular among a number of nations which have not the slightest connection with each other. He quotes De Plano Carpini, who found this tradition prevailing among the Tartars so far back as in 1246. A Tartar will not consent for any amount of money to stick a knife into the fire, or touch it with any sharp or pointed instrument, for fear of cutting the "head of the fire."
The Kamtchadal of North-eastern Asia consider it a great sin so to do. The Sioux Indians of North America dare not touch the fire with either needle, knife, or any sharp instrument. The Kalmucks entertain the same dread; and an Abyssinian would rather bury his bare arms to the elbows in blazing coals than use a knife or axe near them. All these facts Tyler also calls "simply curious coincidences." Max Muller, however, thinks that they lose much of their force by the fact "of the Pythagorean doctrine being at the bottom of it."
Every sentence of Pythagoras, like most of the ancient maxims, has a dual signification; and, while it had an occult physical meaning, expressed literally in its words, it embodied a moral precept, which is explained by Iamblichus in his Life of Pythagoras. This "Dig not fire with a sword," is the ninth symbol in the Protreptics of this Neo-platonist. "This symbol," he says, "exhorts to prudence." It shows "the propriety of not opposing sharp words to a man full of fire and wrath — not contending with him. For frequently by uncivil words you will agitate and disturb an ignorant man, and you will suffer yourself. . . . Herakleitus also testifies to the truth of this symbol. For, he says, 'It is difficult to fight with anger, for whatever is necessary to be done redeems the soul.' And this he says truly. For many, by gratifying anger, have changed the condition of their soul, and have made death preferable to life. But by governing the tongue and being quiet, friendship is produced from strife, the fire of anger being extinguished, and you yourself will not appear to be destitute of intellect."*
We have had misgivings sometimes; we have questioned the impartiality of our own judgment, our ability to offer a respectful criticism upon the labors of such giants as some of our modern philosophers — Tyndall, Huxley, Spencer, Carpenter, and a few others. In our immoderate love for the "men of old" — the primitive sages — we were always afraid to trespass the boundaries of justice and refuse their dues to those who deserve them. Gradually this natural fear gave way before an unexpected reinforcement. We found out that we were but the feeble echo of public opinion, which, though suppressed, has sometimes found relief in able articles scattered throughout the periodicals of the country. One of such can be found in the National Quarterly Review of December, 1875, entitled "Our Sensational Present-Day Philosophers." It is a very able article, discussing fearlessly the claims of several of our scientists to new discoveries in regard to the nature of matter, the human soul, the mind, the universe; how the universe came into existence, etc. "The religious world has been much startled," the author proceeds to say, "and not a
little excited by the utterances of men like Spencer, Tyndall, Huxley, Proctor, and a few others of the same school." Admitting very cheerfully how much science owes to each of those gentlemen, nevertheless the author "most emphatically" denies that they have made any discoveries at all. There is nothing new in the speculations, even of the most advanced of them; nothing which was not known and taught, in one form or another, thousands of years ago. He does not say that these scientists "put forward their theories as their own discoveries, but they leave the fact to be implied, and the newspapers do the rest. . . . The public, which has neither time nor the inclination to examine the facts, adopts the faith of the newspapers . . . and wonders what will come next! . . . The supposed originators of such startling theories are assailed in the newspapers. Sometimes the obnoxious scientists undertake to defend themselves, but we cannot recall a single instance in which they have candidly said, 'Gentlemen, be not angry with us; we are merely revamping stories which are nearly as old as the mountains.' " This would have been the simple truth; "but even scientists or philosophers," adds the author, "are not always proof against the weakness of encouraging any notion which they think may secure niches for them among the immortal Ones."*
Huxley, Tyndall, and even Spencer have become lately the great oracles, the "infallible popes" on the dogmas of protoplasm, molecules, primordial forms, and atoms. They have reaped more palms and laurels for their great discoveries than Lucretius, Cicero, Plutarch, and Seneca had hairs on their heads. Nevertheless, the works of the latter teem with ideas on the protoplasm, primordial forms, etc., let alone the atoms, which caused Demokritus to be called the atomic philosopher. In the same Review we find this very startling denunciation:
"Who, among the innocent, has not been astonished, even within the last year, at the wonderful results accomplished by oxygen? What an excitement Tyndall and Huxley have created by proclaiming, in their own ingenious, oracular way, just the very doctrines which we have just quoted from Liebig; yet, as early as 1840, Professor Lyon Playfair translated into English the most 'advanced' of Baron Liebig's works."†
"Another recent utterance," he says, "which startled a large number of innocent and pious persons, is, that every thought we express, or attempt to express, produces a certain wonderful change in the substance of the brain. But, for this and a good deal more of its kind, our philosophers had only to turn to the pages of Baron Liebig. Thus, for instance,
that scientist proclaims: 'Physiology has sufficiently decisive grounds for the opinions, that every thought, every sensation is accompanied by a change in the composition of the substance of the brain; that every motion, every manifestation of force is the result of a transformation of the structure or of its substance.' "*
Thus, throughout the sensational lectures of Tyndall, we can trace, almost to a page, the whole of Liebig's speculations, interlined now and then with the still earlier views of Demokritus and other Pagan philosophers. A potpourri of old hypotheses elevated by the great authority of the day into quasi-demonstrated formulas, and delivered in that pathetic, picturesque, mellow, and thrillingly-eloquent phraseology so preeminently his own.
Further, the same reviewer shows us many of the identical ideas and all the material requisite to demonstrate the great discoveries of Tyndall and Huxley, in the works of Dr. Joseph Priestley, author of Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit, and even in Herder's Philosophy of History.
"Priestley," adds the author, "was not molested by government, simply because he had no ambition to obtain fame by proclaiming his atheistic views from the house-top. This philosopher . . . was the author of from seventy to eighty volumes, and the discoverer of oxygen." It is in these works that "he puts forward those identical ideas which have been declared so 'startling,' 'bold,' etc., as the utterances of our present-day philosophers."
"Our readers," he proceeds to say, "remember what an excitement has been created by the utterances of some of our modern philosophers as to the origin and nature of ideas, but those utterances, like others that preceded and followed them, contain nothing new." "An idea," says Plutarch, "is a being incorporeal, which has no subsistence by itself, but gives figure and form unto shapeless matter, and becomes the cause of its manifestation" (De Placitio Philosophorum).
Verily, no modern atheist, Mr. Huxley included, can outvie Epicurus in materialism; he can but mimic him. And what is his "protoplasm," but a rechauffe of the speculations of the Hindu Swabhavikas or Pantheists, who assert that all things, the gods as well as men and animals, are born from Swabhava or their own nature?† As to Epicurus, this is what Lucretius makes him say: "The soul, thus produced, must be material, because we trace it issuing from a material source; because it exists, and exists alone in a material system; is nourished by material food; grows with the growth of the body; becomes matured with its maturity; declines with its decay; and hence, whether belonging to man
or brute, must die with its death." Nevertheless, we would remind the reader that Epicurus is here speaking of the Astral Soul, not of Divine Spirit. Still, if we rightly understand the above, Mr. Huxley's "mutton-protoplasm" is of a very ancient origin, and can claim for its birthplace, Athens, and for its cradle, the brain of old Epicurus.
Further, still, anxious not to be misunderstood or found guilty of depreciating the labor of any of our scientists, the author closes his essay by remarking, "We merely want to show that, at least, that portion of the public which considers itself intelligent and enlightened should cultivate its memory, or remember the 'advanced' thinkers of the past much better than it does. Especially should those do so who, whether from the desk, the rostrum, or the pulpit, undertake to instruct all willing to be instructed by them. There would then be much less groundless apprehension, much less charlatanism, and above all, much less plagiarism, than there is."*
Truly says Cudworth that the greatest ignorance of which our modern wiseacres accuse the ancients is their belief in the soul's immortality. Like the old skeptic of Greece, our scientists — to use an expression of the same Dr. Cudworth — are afraid that if they admit spirits and apparitions they must admit a God too; and there is nothing too absurd, he adds, for them to suppose, in order to keep out the existence of God. The great body of ancient materialists, skeptical as they now seem to us, thought otherwise, and Epicurus, who rejected the soul's immortality, believed still in a God, and Demokritus fully conceded the reality of apparitions. The preexistence and God-like powers of the human spirit were believed in by most all the sages of ancient days. The magic of Babylon and Persia based upon it the doctrine of their machagistia. The Chaldean Oracles, on which Pletho and Psellus have so much commented, constantly expounded and amplified their testimony. Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Epicharmus, Empedocles, Kebes, Euripides, Plato, Euclid, Philo, Boehius, Virgil, Marcus Cicero, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, Psellus, Synesius, Origen, and, finally, Aristotle himself, far from denying our immortality, support it most emphatically. Like Cardon and Pompanatius, "who were no friends to the soul's immortality," as says Henry More, "Aristotle expressly concludes that the rational soul is both a distinct being from the soul of the world, though of the same essence," and that "it does preexist before it comes into the body."†
Years have rolled away since the Count Joseph De Maistre wrote a sentence which, if appropriate to the Voltairean epoch in which he lived,
applies with still more justice to our period of utter skepticism. "I have heard," writes this eminent man, "I have heard and read of myriads of good jokes on the ignorance of the ancients, who were always seeing spirits everywhere; methinks that we are a great deal more imbecile than our forefathers, in never perceiving any such now, anywhere."*