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which they stand committed to maintain than to the pure service of unadorned truth. The narrator is asked, for example, some unimportant question with regard to the apparition; he answers it on the hasty suggestion of his own imagination, tinged as it is with a belief in the general fact, and by doing so often gives a feature of minute evidence which was before wanting, and this with perfect unconsciousness on his own part.' (Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, p. 344.)
At Paris in the second half of last century, where and when sceptical philosophy, if ever, was in the ascendant, the proceedings of M. Mesmer roused the utmost curiosity. The wonders which he performed were not, however, by him attributed to supernatural agency, but rather to a natural force not understood by men of science at the time. He claimed to have discovered a new agent which he named • Animal Magnetism. It was, in his own words, • a fluid universally diffused, the vehicle of a mutual influence between the celestial bodies, the earth, and the bodies of animated beings. It is so continued as to admit of no vacuum : its subtlety does not admit of illustration. ... The action and the virtue of animal magnetism are capable of being communicated from one body to another, animated or inanimate. They exert themselves to considerable distances, and without the least assistance from any intermediate bodies. ... The animal magnetism is capable of curing immediately diseases of the nerves, and mediately other distempers, ... it forwards and directs the salutary crises so as to subject them totally to the government of the judgement. And so on.
Mesmer's theories were rejected with contempt by the scientific men of Berlin and of Vienna, where he had first of all announced his discoveries. In France he achieved much greater success, and his proceedings and writings in Paris excited the attention of the most learned men of the day. By some the Animal Magnetism was applauded as the greatest of discoveries, and by others decried as the juggle of an unprincipled impostor.' *
Under these circumstances Louis XVI. appointed a commission of scientific men, with Benjamin Franklin at its head, to inquire into the whole subject of the animal magnetism as then practised in Paris. They attended at what would now be called public and private séances, they investigated the nature of the crises, they subjected the experiments to tests of their own, and some of their number even submitted themselves to the treatment. Unanimously they report that
* Report of Dr. Franklin.
the crises of various kinds which they had witnessed were caused by the excited imaginations of those who suffered them, that the existence of the magnetic fluid was absolutely destitute of proof, that it was incapable of being perceived by any of the senses, and had no action either on themselves or on the subjects of the several experiments. Finally they reported that they had demonstrated in the most decisive way that the imagination without the magnetism produces 'convulsions, and the magnetism without the imagination ' produces nothing ;' that the fluid had no existence, and could therefore have no use. We may remark here upon the businesslike and common-sense fashion in which this commission went to work, and contrast the thoroughness of their investigations with those of our contemporary English searchers after truth.
Table-turning, which arose and reached its greatest popularity in England in the years immediately before 1860, was in like manner attributed to some occult force, brought into existence, as in the experiments of Mesmer, by a circuit of human hands. Indeed, an assembled party of Mesmer's disciples, seated round his 'bucket,' with iron rods extending to it to conduct the animal magnetism,' was evidently the prototype of the table-turners' séance three-quarters of a century later. The tables, it will be remembered, in those favoured years did much more than turn. By tilts and raps they answered questions, and even on occasions were known to lead a successful search for articles mislaid by their owners. The machine invented by Faraday showed that when the table moved there had been muscular pressure, proving, at all events, that the joint and several testimony of experimenters, however honestly given, cannot always be implicitly trusted. Table-turning of the old sort is now out of fashion, thongh tables are still, we are informed, the favourite subjects of the influence of an occult force, which lifts them into the air, and sustains them there, in the absence of personal contact, without any visible or ascertainable means of support whatever.
The world, it is clear, however scientific the age, is full of mystery still. Is it not a disgrace to science that, from the dawn of history to the end of the nineteenth century, truth and fable should remain so inextricably mixed ? By this time surely men should know what to believe about ghosts and apparitions, about modern miraculous cures, about prophetic dreams and warnings, about levitations—whether of saints or of tables-about mesmerism, about spirit-rapping,
about crystal-gazing, about second sight, about witchcraft, and the hundred other supposed manifestations of the interference of a spiritual power, or of an unexplored natural cause, with the well-ordered course of things.
So thought, not unnaturally, the distinguished persons who, in the year 1882, founded the Society for Psychical Research. It was a scandal,' declared Professor Sidgwick, in his inaugural address to that Society, that the dispute as to the reality of these phenomena should be still going on. It would be the main object of the Society to remove this scandal. Is there then, as a matter of fact, communication between living men and disembodied spirits ? Are apparitions merely the creatures of the imagination of those who witness them? Thirteen years have elapsed. The Society has created a bulky literature in its courageous attempt to explore, in a professed spirit of scientific inquiry, territory in which the imagination rather than the reason of man had hitherto preferred to roam. There are no branches of the subject, so far as we know, that the Society has not investigated, and assuredly no more single-minded men ever inquired into anything. They have formed a ‘Hauntedhouse Committee, whose members visit, but as yet have visited in vain, houses said to be frequented by ghosts. They have taken a “Census of Hallucinations,' having, indeed, made inquiry in the personal experiences of some 17,000 individuals. They have deeply pondered over the visions seen by the little peasant girls of Lourdes. They have despatched a commissioner tɔ India to investigate the truth of the statements of Madame Blavatsky, and the alleged wonder-working powers of the Mahatmas. The Society grudges neither trouble nor expense, yet we doubt much whether all their labours will be found in the long run to affect either the knowledge or the credulity of men.
The recently published vol. x. of the ‘Proceedings of the •Society' opens with an address from its President, the Right Hon. Arthur James Balfour, M.P., F.R.S. It is not a little startling to find on the inside of the cover of this volume, facing the address delivered by Mr. Balfour, the following notice, printed conspicuously with the full sanction of the Society :
GLASS BALLS FOR CRYSTAL-GAZING. Glass balls well suited for crystal-gazing can be obtained from the Assistant Secretary of the Society for Psychical Research in four sizes, as below, on ebonised stands, and in boxes, postage included
No. 1–1 in. diameter, solid, 3 shillings.
5 No. 4-3
8 No. 4 is also supplied hollow, to be filled with water, for 53. The hollow balls have been found equally good as specula with the solid.
The famous 'angelicall stone' of Dr. John Dee is said still to exist in the British Museum. Dr. Dee was a mathematician and traveller of the time of James I., well known in the Courts of Europe, and the “True Relation of his Actions with Spirits' was made known to the public in the latter half of the seventeenth century by Dr. Casaubon, who introduced the narrative with an interesting preface of his own. Dr. Dee's method was to write down the description given to him by his assistant, Mr. Kelly, of what the latter saw when gazing into the magic stone, or crystal. Occasionally, however, it appears that the spirits were both seen and heard by the doctor himself, for whose truth and sincerity Casaubon freely vouches. With Kelly as interpreter, a large number of conversations that took place between Dee and various spirits are duly recorded by the latter. Casaubon and Dee differ only in their explanation of these occurrences, in the view taken of the character of these spirits. With Dee they were good spirits; with Casaubon they were very much the reverse. That the magic stone was brought to Dee by an angel is a matter of doubt; but that it was
brought by a spirit was sure enough. Indeed, Casaubon urges that Dee's only (but great and dreadful) error was
that he mistook false lying spirits for angels of light, the • Divel of Hell (as we commonly call him) for the God of « Heaven.'
The Psychical Research Society, as we shall see, though not perhaps altogether rejecting, as regards crystal-gazing, the spiritualistic theory of earlier times, strongly inclines to the belief that the steady contemplation of crystals, or glass balls (hollow globes being as good as solid ones for the purpose), induces a condition of trance in the mind of the gazer, and thereby lays his mind open to the reception of impressions received from other minds, to which, under normal circumstances, the minds of men are closed. Thus, a condition of mind is acquired under which the crystalgazer sees before his mental eye a picture of what is actually taking place at a distance. The views held by the Psychical Research Society on the subject of the trance condition of mind are so important-indeed, are so fundamental as regards the conclusions adopted—that they deserve to be most carefully considered. It is our earnest desire to avoid any misrepresentation or unfairness in bringing before our readers the teaching of that Society; and we shall, therefore, here give an abstract, or condensation, as far as possible in his own words, of the address of Professor Oliver Lodge, F.R.S., to the Society, which finds a place in Vol. X. of the
Proceedings,' immediately after the address of Mr. Balfour, before referred to.
'It has long been known,' says Professor Lodge, that in order to achieve remarkable results in any department of intellectual activity, the mind must be to some extent unaware of passing occurrences. To be keenly awake and on the spot" is a highly valued accomplishment, and for the ordinary purposes of murdane affairs is a far more useful state of mind than the rather hazy and absorbed condition which is associated with the quality of the mind called genius; but it is not as effective for brilliant achievement.
• When a poet, or musician, or mathematician feels himself inspired, his senses are, I suppose, dulled, or half-asleep; and though probably some part of his brain is in a great state of activity, I am not aware of any experiments directed to test which that part is, nor whether, when in that state, any of the more ordinarily used portions are really dormant or no. It would be interesting, but difficult, to ascertain the precise physiological accompaniments of that which, on a small scale, is called à brown study, and on a larger scale a period of inspiration.
'It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the state is somewhat allied to the initial condition of anæsthesia—the somnambulic condition when, though the automatic processes of the body go on with greater perfection than usual, the conscious or noticing aspect of the mind is latent, so that the things which influence the person are apparently no longer the ordinary events which affect his peripheral organs, but either something internal or else something not belonging to the orainarily known physical universe at all.
• The mind is always in a receptive state, perhaps; but whereas the business-like wide-awake person receives impressions from every trivial detail of his physical surroundings, the half-asleep person seems to receive impressions from a different stratum altogether; higher in some instances, but different always from those received by ordinary men in their everyday state.
In a man of genius the state comes on of itself; and the results are astounding. There exist occasionally feeble persons, usually young, who seek to attain to the appearance of genius by the easy process of assuming or encouraging an attitude of vacancy and uselessness. There may be all grades of results attained while in this state, and the state itself is of less than no value unless it is justified by the results.
* By experiment and observation it has now been established that a state very similar to this can be induced by artificial means, c.g. by