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for not having overlooked, during years of patient inquiry, difficulties which at once occur to themselves. I would ask them to ponder well on the fact, that no earnest and patient inquirer has ever come to a conclusion adverse to the reality of the phenomena; and that no spiritualist has ever yet given them up as false. I would ask them, finally, to dwell upon the long series of facts in human history that Spiritualism explains, and on the noble and satisfying theory of a future life that it unfolds. will do this, I feel confident that the result I have alone aimed at will be attained; which is, to remove the prejudices and misconceptions with which the whole subject has been surrounded, and to incite to unbiassed and persevering examination of the facts. For the cardinal maxim of Spiritualism is, that every one must find out the truth for himself. It makes no claim to be received on hearsay evidence; but on the other hand, it demands that it be not rejected without patient, honest, and fearless inquiry.
SINCE my article appeared in the Fortnightly Review, I have seen Dr. Carpenter's latest work, “The Principles of Mental Physiology." One or two of the learned doctor's statements have been noticed in foot-notes to this book, but there are a few others calling for remark, which I will now refer to.
At p. 296 Dr. Carpenter says, that the only answer spiritualists give to Faraday's experiments is, that—"Faraday's performers moved the tables with their hands, whereas we know that we do not;”—and he then continues—“Those who make this assertion are (of course) scientifically bound to demonstrate it, by showing that in their case the table does go round without any deflection of the index by lateral pressure, but they have uniformly refused to apply this test to their own performance although repeatedly challenged to do so.” But Dr. C. omits to tell us who are the spiritualists whose “only answer” is above given, and who are they, who have been “repeatedly challenged ” and have “uniformly refused” to accept the challenge. On inquiry it may be found that it is the men of science who have “uniformly refused” to witness the proof of what they say spiritualists are scientifically bound to demonstrate.
In the spring of 1867, when I had obtained the proofs of force in lifting (not turning) a table (as detailed at p. 132) I invited Dr. Carpenter to attend some sittings with every probability of being able to show the phenomena. He came once. The sitting was not very successful, raps and taps of varying character being alone produced. Although strongly pressed to do so, he never came again. With Professor Tyndall exactly the ning occurred. He came once, and declined to come again; although informed of phenomena which had repeatedly occurred in my own house, which he could not explain, and which I had every reason to believe would occur in his presence if he would only give three or four short sittings to these investigations. More recently Dr.
Sharpey and Professor Stokes, Secretaries of the Royal Society, refused the invitation of one of their own Fellows, Mr. Crookes, to witness experiments which formed the subject of a paper offered to the Society. Where we are vaguely and generally accused of “uniformly refusing” to produce certain proofs, it is only right that the public should know how our scientific opponents receive our offers to exhibit even more conclusive proofs. We must also remember that Dr. Carpenter is acquainted with the evidence of the Dialectical Committee, of Serjeant Cox, of Mr. Crookes, of Mr. Varley, and of myself, as to the movement of heavy objects entirely without contact of the medium or any other person ; yet in 1874 he can adduce nothing but the utterly exploded and almost forgotten “table turning” of the time of Faraday, as worthy of notice!
The theory of “unconscious cerebration” is Dr. Carpenter's special hobby, yet in his application of it to explaining the phenomena of dreams we find a remarkable amount of contradiction and false reasoning.
At p. 586, for example, he notices the "suspension of our power to form common sense judgments,” the "suspension of our moral sense,” and the "entire want of coherence between the ideas that successively present themselves," as characteristics of dreams, and to be explained as the normal result of “unconscious cerebration.” But he imputes to the very same cause an exaltation of the imaginative and reasoning powers and their action in strict logical succession, so as to produce results which the whole working powers of the mind were unable to achieve; and in many cases the committal of these results to paper without a single
And all this is still to be accepted as explained by the magical words, "unconscious cerebration.”
As an illustration of Dr. Carpenter's mode of reasoning we give the narrative of a student at an Amsterdam University, adduced by him as supporting his views. The Professor having to perform a laborious and difficult mathematical calculation found that he could not get the correct result, owing to errors occurring in some of numerous figures employed. He therefore gave the problem to ten of his pupils. The narrator worked at it unsuccessfully for three evenings, but always without effect; and after sitting up till one in the morning on the third trial, went to bed much disappointed at not having been able to do the work cor
rectly, as it was particularly required the next day. On getting up in the morning he found to his astonishment on his writing table the problem correctly solved in his own handwriting, not a single figure being wrong. But the important fact is, that the work was done by a shorter and better method than the student had attempted during his three evenings' work. The work he had already done and with which his mind must have been imbued was not done over again without error, but an altogether new and better class of work was performed ; and the Professor himself was astonished at it, and declared that he “had never once thought of a solution so simple and concise.”
Now here is evidently a case in which the ordinary rules of unconscious cerebration do not apply. For something is done in a way the doer had never thought of when awake. The student had been trying over and over again to find out the numerical error in his calculation, not to perform the calculation itself by any other method. When asleep he does not find out this error -which, if done, might have been imputed to the repetition of the former cerebral action, uninfluenced by the disturbing causes which had led to error-but he begins, de novo, in a way he had never attempted when awake, and solves the problem by a process which even his mathematical tutor had not thought of ! This is exactly analogous to those cases of trance mediums who do in trance what they cannot do when awake-speak languages they have never learnt, for example ; and to impute such actions to “unconscious cerebration” is not to explain them, but merely to give a name, and, like a child or a savage, accept the name as a sufficient explanation. It is exactly an analogous case to that of Mr. Lewes (given at page 196), in which preconceived ideas completely shut out the plainest logical consequences of the facts adduced.
I have been informed by some of my correspondents that, because I have not referred to any cases of new information of practical utility having been derived from spiritual communications, I am supposed to admit that such do not exist. This is
I believe there are many such instances, but as bearing on the question whether Spiritualism is a reality or a delusion, I did not think them of much importance, and they