Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the opportunity was not afforded me at an earlier period. What I have seen lately has made a deep impression on my mind, and the recognition of the reality of these manifestations, from whatever cause, is tending to revolutionise my thoughts and feelings on almost every subject.?

Captain BURTON, of Mecca and Salt Lake City, is not a man to be taken in by a "gross deception,” yet note what he says about the Davenport Brothers, who are supposed to have been so often exposed. In a letter to Dr. Ferguson, and published by him, Captain Burton states that he has seen these manifestations under the most favourable circumstances, in private houses, when the spectators were all sceptics, the doors bolted, and the ropes, tape, and musical instruments provided by themselves. He goes on to say—“Mr. W. Fay's coat was removed while he was securely fastened hand and foot, and a lucifer match was struck at the same instant, showing us the two gentlemen fast bound, and the coat in the air on its way to the other side of the room.

Under precisely similar circumstances, another gentleman's coat was placed upon him." And he concludes thus—“I have spent a great part of my life in Oriental lands, and have seen there many magicians. Lately I have been permitted to see and be present at the performances of Messrs. Anderson and Tolmaque. The latter showed, as they profess, clever conjuring, but they do not even attempt what the Messrs. Davenport and Fay succeed in doing. Finally, I have read and listened to every explanation of the Davenport tricks' hitherto placed before the English public, and, believe me, if anything would make me take that tremendous leap from matter to spirit, it is the utter and complete unreason of the reasons by which the manifestations are explained.

Professor CHALLIS, the Plumierian Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, is almost the only person who, as far I know, has stated his belief in some of these phenomena solely from the weight of testimony in favour of them. In a letter to the Clerical Journal of June, (?) 1862, he says:

-“But although I have no grounds, from personal observation, for giving credit to the asserted spontaneous movements of tables, I have been unable to resist the large amount of testimony to such facts, which has come from many independent sources, and from a vast number of witnesses. England, France, Germany, the United States of America, with most of the other nations of Christendom, contributed simultaneously their quota of evidence. In short, the testimony has been so abundant and consentaneous, that either the facts must be admitted to be such as are reported, or the possibility of certifying facts by human testimony must be given up

VIII.

THE THEORY OF SPIRITUALISM.

MANY of my readers will, no doubt, feel oppressed by the strange and apparently supernatural phenomena here brought before their notice. They will demand that, if indeed they are to be accepted as facts, it must be shown that they form a part of the system of the universe, or at least range themselves under some plausible hypothesis.

There is such an hypothesismold in its fundamental principle, new in many of its detailswhich links together all these phenomena as a department of nature hitherto entirely ignored by science and but vaguely speculated on by philosophy; and it does so without in any way conflicting with the most advanced science or the highest philosophy. According to this hypothesis, that which, for want of a better name, we shall term "spirit," is the essential part of all sensitive beings, whose bodies form but the machinery and instruments by means of which they perceive and act upon other beings and on matter. It is “spirit" that alone feels, and perceives, and thinks—that acquires knowledge, and reasons and aspires—though it can only do so by means of, and in exact proportion to the organisation it is bound up with. It is the “spirit” of man that is man. Spirit is mind; the brain and nerves are but the magnetic battery and telegraph, by means of which spirit communicates with the outer world.

Though the spirit is in general inseparable from the living body to which it gives animal and intellectual life (for the vegetative functions of the organism could go on without spirit), there not unfrequently occur individuals

so constituted that the spirit can perceive independently of the corporeal organs of sense, or can perhaps wholly or partially quit the body for a time and return to it again. At death it quits the body for ever. The spirit like the body has its laws, and definite limits to its powers. It communicates with spirit easier than with matter, and in most cases can only perceive and act on matter through the medium of embodied spirit. The spirit which has lived and developed its powers clothed with a human body, will, when it leaves that body, still retain its former modes of thought, its former tastes, feelings, and affections. The new state of existence is a natural continuation of the old one. There is no sudden acquisition of new mental proclivities, no revolution of the moral nature. Just what the embodied spirit had made itself, or had become that is the disembodied spirit when it begins its life under new conditions. It is the same in character as before, but it has acquired new physical and mental powers, new modes of manifesting the moral sentiments, wider capacity for acquiring physical and spiritual knowledge. The great law of "continuity,” so ably shown by Mr. Grove in his recent address to the British Association at Nottingham, to pervade the whole realm of nature, is thus, according to the Spiritual theory, fully applicable to our passage into, and progress through a more advanced state of existence,-a view which should recommend itself to men of science as being in itself probable, and in striking contrast with the doctrines of theologians, which place a wide gulf between the mental and moral nature of man, in his present, and in his future state of existence.

Now this hypothesis, taken as a mere speculation, is as coherent and intelligible as any speculation on such a subject can be. But it claims to be more than a speculation, since it serves to explain and interpret that vast accumula

tion of facts of which a few examples only have been here given, and to furnish a more intelligible, consistent, and harmonious theory of the future state of man, than either religion or philosophy has yet put forth.

And first; as to the interpretation of facts. In the simplest phenomena of Animal Magnetism, when the muscles, the senses, and the ideas of the patient, are subject to the will of the operator, spirit acts upon spirit, through the intermediation of a peculiar relation between the magnetic or life power of the two organisms; and thus the magnetiser is enabled by his will to affect both the mind and the body of the patient and to induce in him for a time an ideal world. In the higher phenomenon of “simple clairvoyance,” the spirit appears to be to some extent released from the trammels of body, and is enabled to perceive by some other processes than those of the ordinary senses. In the still higher clairvoyant state termed “mental travelling” the spirit would appear to quit the body (still connected with it however by an ethereal link) and traverse the earth to any distance, communicating with persons in remote countries if it has any clue by which to distinguish them, and (perhaps through the mediation of their organisation) perceiving and describing events occurring around them.

Under certain conditions disembodied spirit is able to form for itself a visible body out of the emanation from living bodies in a proper magnetic relation to itself; and, under certain still more favourable conditions, this body can be made tangible. Thus all the phenomena of “mediumship” take place. Gravity is overcome by a form of life-magnetism, induced between the spirit and the medium ; visible hands or visible bodies are produced, which sometimes write, or draw, or even speak. Thus departed friends come to communicate with those still living,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »