« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
The above test of holding a pasteboard before the eyes, is one which Dr. Carpenter informed me he considered conclusive, as he found that supposed clairvoyants always failed to see through it. But it is evident that he had never met with a case of very perfect clairvoyance like that above described.*
We will now pass to the evidence for the facts of what is termed Modern Spiritualism.
* Not one of the important facts mentioned in this chapter, on the authority of medical men, nor any others of a like nature to be found in the works here quoted, are taken notice of by Dr. Carpenter in his recent volume on “Mental Physiology; in which he nevertheless boldly attempts to settle the whole question of the reality of such facts! It is, we suppose, owing to his limited space that, in a work of over 700 pp., none of the well-attested facts opposed to his views could be brought to the notice of his readers.
THE EVIDENCE OF THE REALITY OF
I now propose to give a few instances in which the evidence of the appearance of preter-human or spiritual beings is as good and definite as it is possible for any evidence of any fact to be. For this purpose I shall use some of the remarkable cases collected and investigated by the Hon. Robert Dale Owen, formerly member of Congress and Ainerican Minister at Naples. Mr. Owen is the author of works of a varied character; “Essays,”. Moral Physiology," “ The Policy of Emancipation,” and many others. He has been, I believe, throughout his life a consistent and philosophical sceptic, and his writings show him to be well educated, logical, and extremely cautious in accepting evidence.
In 1855, during his official residence at Naples, his attention seems to have been first attracted to the subject of the "supernatural," by witnessing the phenomena occurring in the presence of Mr. Home. He tells us that “sitting in his own well-lighted apartment, in company with three or four friends, all curious observers like himself,” a table and lamp weighing ninety-six pounds “rose eight or ten inches from the floor, and remained suspended in the air while one might count six or seven, the hands of all present being laid upon the table.”
And on another occasion he states:-"In the diningroom of a French nobleman, the Count d'Ourches, residing near Paris, I saw on the first day of October 1858, in broad daylight, at the close of a déjeuner à la fourchette, a
dinner-table seating seven persons, with fruit and wine on it, rise and settle down as already described, while all the guests were standing around it, and not one of them touching it. All present saw the same thing."
He then commenced collecting evidence of so-called supernatural phenomena, occurring unsought for, and has brought together, in his “Footfalls on the Boundary of another World,” the best arranged and best authenticated series of facts which have yet been given to the public on this subject.
This work is certainly the most philosophical of its kind that has yet appeared, and perhaps, had it been entitled “A Critical Examination into the Evidence of the Supernatural,” which it really is, it would have attracted more attention than it appears to have done.
Nothing is more common than the assertion that all supposed apparitions, when not impostures, are hallucinations; because, it is said, there is no well-authenticated case of an apparition having been seen by two persons at
It is therefore advisable to give an outline here of one case of this kind, which is given more fully at p. 278 of Mr. Owen's book.
Sir John Sherbroke and General George Wynyard were Captaiu and Lieutenant in the 33rd Regiment, stationed in the year 1785 at Sydney, in the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. On the 15th of October of that year, about nine in the morning, as they were sitting together at coffee in Wynyard's parlour, Sherbroke, happening to look up, saw the figure of a pale youth standing at a door leading into the passage.
He called the attention of his companion to the stranger, who passed slowly through the room into the adjoining bed-chamber. Wynyard, on seeing the figure, turned as pale as death, grasped his friend's arm, and, as soon as it had disappeared, exclaimed, “Great
God ! my brother!" Sherbroke thinking there was some trick, had a search immediately made, but could find no one either in the bed-room or about the premises. brother officer, Lieutenant Gore, coming in at the time, assisted in the search, and at his suggestion Sherbroke made a memorandum of the date, and all waited with anxiety for letters from England, where Wynyard's brother
The expected letter came to Captain Sherbrooke, asking him to break to his friend the news of his brother John's death, which had occurred on the day and hour when he had been seen by the two officers. In 1823 Lieutenant-Colonel Gore gave this account in writing to Sir John Harvey, Adjutant-General of the Forces in Canada. He also stated that some years afterwards Sir Sherbroke, who had never seen John Wynyard alive, recognised in England a brother of the deceased, who was remarkably like him, by the resemblance to the figure he had seen in Canada. Mr. Owen has obtained additional proof of the correctness of these details from Captain Henry Scott, R.N., who was told by General Paul Anderson, C.B., that Sir John Sherbroke had, shortly before his death, related the story to him in almost exactly the same words as Mr. Owen has given it and which was communicated in manuscript to Captain Scott.
The evidence in this case of the fact of the appearance of the same apparition to two people (one of whom did not know the individual) is very complete; and I cannot rest satisfied with any theory which requires me to reject such evidence, without offering any intelligible explanation of what occurred.
I will now give an abstract of a few more of Mr. Owen's cases, to illustrate their general character and the careful manner in which they have been authenticated and tested. The first is one which he calls “ The Fourteenth of November.” (“Footfalls,” p. 299.)
On the night between the 14th and 15th of November, 1857, the wife of Captain G. Wheatcroft, residing in Cambridge, dreamed that she saw her husband (then in India). She immediately awoke, and looking up, she perceived the same figure standing by her bedside. He appeared in his uniform, the hands pressed across the breast, the hair dishevelled, the face very pale. His large dark eyes were fixed full upon her; their expression was that of great excitement, and there was a peculiar contraction of the mouth, habitual to him when agitated. She saw him, even to each minute particular of his dress, as distinctly as she had ever done in her life. The figure seemed to bend forward as if in pain, and to make an effort to speak, but there was no sound. It remained visible, the wife thinks, as long as a minute, and then disappeared. She did not sleep again that night. Next morning she related all this to her mother, expressing her belief that Captain W. was either killed or wounded. In due course a telegram was received to the effect that Captain W. had been killed before Lucknow on the 15th of November. The widow informed the Captain's solicitor, Mr. Wilkinson, that she had been quite prepared for the fatal news, but she felt sure there was a mistake of a day in the date of his death. Mr. Wilkinson then obtained a certificate from the War Office, which was as follows:
“War Office, 30th January, 1858, “These are to certify that it appears, by the records in this office, that Captain G. Wheatcroft, of the 6th Dragoon Guards, was killed in action on the 15th of November, 1857.
(Signed) “B. HAWES." A remarkable incident now occurred. Mr. Wilkinson was visiting a friend in London, whose wife has all her life had perception of apparitions, while her husband is a