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Title: Psychical Miscellanea - Being Papers on Psychical Research, Telepathy, Hypnotism, - Christian Science, etc.
Author: Hill, J. Arthur
Language: English
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  Psychical Miscellanea
  _Being Papers on
  Psychical Research, Telepathy,
  Hypnotism, Christian Science, etc._


  _Author of "Psychical Investigations," "Man is a Spirit,"
  "Spiritualism; Its History, Phenomena and Doctrine," etc._


  _Printed in England_


Many friends and correspondents have suggested that I should republish
a number of articles which have appeared from time to time in various
quarters. The present volume brings these articles together, with some
which have not appeared before.

Each chapter is complete in itself, but there is more or less connexion,
for each deals with some aspect of the subject to which I have given
most attention during the last twelve years--namely, psychical research.

I thank the editors of the _Holborn Review_, _National Review_, _World's
Work_, and _Occult Review_ for permission to republish articles which
have appeared in their pages.
                                                       J. A. H.


  DEATH                                                    1
  IF A MAN DIE, SHALL HE LIVE AGAIN?                      11
  DO MIRACLES HAPPEN?                                     52
  THE TRUTH ABOUT TELEPATHY                               58
  THE TRUTH ABOUT HYPNOTISM                               63
  CHRISTIAN SCIENCE                                       75
  JOAN OF ARC                                             88
  IS THE EARTH ALIVE?                                     94
  RELIGIOUS BELIEF AFTER THE WAR                         111

Psychical Miscellanea


Our feelings with regard to the termination of our earthly existence are
remarkably varied. In some people, there is an absolutely genuine and
strong desire for cessation of individual consciousness, as in the case
of John Addington Symonds. Probably, however, this is met with only in
keenly sensitive natures which have suffered greatly in this life. Such
unfortunate people are sometimes constitutionally unable to believe in
anything better than cessation of their pain. Anything better than
that is "too good to be true", so much too good that they hardly dare
wish for it. Others, who have had a happy life, naturally desire a
continuance of it, and are therefore eager, like F. W. H. Myers, for
that which Symonds dreaded. Others, again, and these are probably the
majority, have no very marked feeling in the matter; like the good
Churchman in the story, they hope to enter into everlasting bliss, but
they wish you would not talk about such depressing subjects. This seems
to suggest that they have secret qualms about the reality of the bliss.
Perhaps they have read Mark Twain's _Captain Stormfield's Visit to
Heaven_, and, though inexpressibly shocked by that exuberant work, are
nevertheless tinged with a sneaking sympathy for its hero, who found the
orthodox abode of the blest an unbearably dull place. The harp-playing
in particular was trying, and he had difficulty in managing his wings.

Anyhow, these people avoid the subject. As Emerson says somewhere,
religion has dealings with them three times in their lives: when they
are christened, when they are married, and when they are buried. And
undoubtedly its main appeal is in the period prior to this third
formality, if they happen to have a longish illness. The rich Miss
Crawley, in _Vanity Fair,_ is typical of many. In days of health and
good spirits, this venerable lady had "as free notions of religion and
morals as Monsieur de Voltaire himself could desire"; but when she was
in the clutches of disease, and even though in the odour of sanctity, so
to speak--for she was nursed by Mrs Reverend Bute Crawley, who hoped for
the seventy thousand pounds if she could keep Rawdon and Becky off the
doorstep--even with this spiritual advantage she was in much fear, and
"an utter cowardice took possession of the prostrate old sinner."

Well, let those laugh who will. As for me, I have great sympathy with
Miss Crawley. Probably those who laugh, or are contemptuous of such
cowardice, are people who have not yet come to close quarters with
death--have not looked him, as the French say, in the white of the
eyes. Let them wait until that happens. If they come back after that
rencontre, they will be a little more tolerant of the cowardice of those
whom they called weaker brethren.

Fear of death may be divided into classes, according to its cause, i.e.,
the intellectual state out of which it seems to arise. It may be due to
the expectation of physical suffering; or, as in such cases as Cowper's
and Dr Johnson's, to expectation of what may happen after death, in
that undiscovered country from which Hamlet said no traveller returned,
though he had just been talking with his father's ghost, piping hot--as
Goldsmith has it in his Essay on Metaphor--from Purgatory. In my own
case, I think the fear is a little of both. And I admit that in both
directions the fear is irrational. As to the physical part, it is
probable that when my time comes I shall depart without much of what is
usually called pain, for the heart seems to be my weak place, and I may
reasonably hope that even though if attacked by other ailments, it
will be the heart that will give way. There will probably be suffering
through difficulty of breathing, and I dread this somewhat, for I know
how unpleasant it has been in the attacks which I have survived. Still,
it can hardly be compared with the agonising pain of many diseases.
Rationally, then, I ought not to have much fear on the physical side.

On the spiritual side I confess with Oliver Wendell Holmes that I have
never quite got from under the shadow of the orthodox hell. I had a
Puritan upbringing, not severe in its home theology I am thankful
to say, but involving attendance at an Independent Chapel where the
minister--a good man and no hypocrite--was wont to preach very terrible
sermons. I shall never quite get over the baneful effect of those
damnatory fulminations. They branded my soul. They caused me more pain
than anything else has ever done throughout my life--and this is saying
a great deal. They made me hate God. Remember, I was a defenceless
child. I knew of no other God. I thought all decent people believed like
those about me. I was the only heretic--a rebel, an outlaw, an Ishmael.
Conceive, if you can, the agony of a sensitive child struggling with
that thought! Condemned to eternal torment, with those who, in Dante's
terrible line, "have no hope of death." ("Inferno," iii, 46.)

Then I fell in with O. W. Holmes's Autocrat and Professor, and found a
friendly hand in the darkness. It led me to Emerson and Carlyle; then
I found Darwin, Spencer, and the rest of them. My loneliness was
mitigated, but the seared place in my soul was not healed, and never
will be healed. I cannot read the Inferno and Purgatorio of Dante
without horror, and thus the poetic beauty of those great cantos is
darkened for me. I cannot worship "God," for "God" is the fiend whose
image was stamped into my mind in its most plastic, most defenceless
period. Truly that early teaching has much to answer for. It has
poisoned a great part of my life. I suppose if I could have "accepted"
that Being as my God, accepting also the sacrifice--the Blood--by which
that Being's anger was supposed to be assuaged--I suppose I should have
been happy, feeling myself "saved." (But I have lately been surprised to
find how ineffective this belief can be. An acquaintance of mine, an
orthodox churchwoman who has no religious doubts, and who talks much of
the Bible, confesses to "a fear of death which clouds even her brightest
moments"--an ever-present, unconquerable dread.) However, I could not
accept the dogma. Why, I don't know. Somehow my whole mind and heart
revolted against the entire plan of salvation. I never believed any of
it. I felt it could not be true. And yet it tortured me. Illogical?
Yes: human beings are illogical. I am no exception. The Christian who
believes he will go to heaven is equally illogical in his unwillingness
to die.

When or if we succeed in getting rid of hell, the spiritual fear of
death becomes less torturing, remaining only as a vague dread, as in
Hamlet's soliloquy. Bacon says that we fear death as children fear to
go in the dark. In my own case, it is somewhat thus that the fear now
presents itself. The old hell-fear, though not utterly obliterated, is
becoming less all-swallowing. This very desirable state of affairs
is partly the result of the conclusions to which I have been led by
psychical research. After many years of experiment and close study, I
can say that I know something about after-death conditions. Not that I
pretend to be able to coerce other people into a similar belief, even if
I wanted to. Each must travel his own path. Moreover, psychical research
being a science, its results are not more certain than those of other
sciences. Alternative theories in explanation of any phenomenon are
always possible. There is no such thing as knock-down proof. But for my
part I can say that I know--in the same way that I know the truth of
Mendeleef's law, or Avogadro's law, or Dalton's atomic theory--that
human beings do not become extinct when they die, that they are often
able to communicate with us after that event, and that they are not in
any orthodox heaven or hell. My knowledge is based partly on a lengthy
and carefully-conducted series of sittings which some intimate friends
of mine have had with a medium known to me; partly on my own results
over a period of several years of systematic investigation; and partly
on various curious experiences of psychic friends of mine who are in no
sense professional mediums. (Details to some extent in my _New Evidences
in Psychical Research_ (Rider, 1911) and _Psychical Investigations_
(Cassell, 1917.) I now believe, with the Bishop of London, that a man
is essentially the same five minutes after death as he was five minutes
before. As the old woman says in _David Copperfield_, "death doesn't
change us more than life"--no, nor as much!

The upshot is, of course, that my spiritual fear of death has, I am
thankful to say, almost vanished. The lurid future has taken on a milder

It is not that I want assuring of "happiness" in a future state as
compensation for misery in this. I should be quite contented if I could
be assured that death is annihilation. It would at least be a cessation
of suffering; and that is much. I could agree with Keats:

    "Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
    Called him soft names in many a muséd rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath.
    Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain
    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
            In such an ecstasy.
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain--
    To thy high requiem become a sod!"
                                   --(_To the Nightingale_)

Easeful death--it is a good word. Keats knew disease, and was content
with prospect of ease; though at the end there is a note of depression
or despair at the thought of becoming a "sod," deaf and blind to beauty.

This reminds us of the attitude of other poets towards the great
problem. Tennyson is mildly optimistic and placid; stretches, indeed,
somewhat lame hands of faith in his sorrowful moments when his friend
has died, but on the whole is healthily disposed; friendly to the most
cheerful way of looking at it; inclined, with true British burliness, to
make the best of a bad job--a job which, after all, may not be so very
bad when we come to closer quarters with it. Afar, death is the spectre
feared of man; seen nearer, he may metamorphose into a beautiful Iris,
sent by heavenly mercy. And, afterwards, the new spiritual state will
probably be an improvement--Aeonian evolution through all the spheres.
Therefore, away with all selfish mourning either about our own
prospective fate or that of those who have left us. Let us hate the
black negation of the bier:

    "And wish the dead, as happier than ourselves
    And higher, having climb'd one step beyond
    Our village miseries, might be borne in white
    To burial or to burning, hymned from hence
    With songs in praise of death, and crowned with flowers."

No doubt Tennyson was to a very great extent able to stay himself on
the personal mystic experiences described in his poem _The Ancient
Sage_--experiences which gave him a subjective assurance that death was
"a ludicrous impossibility". Browning, characteristically buoyant, was
ready to face death with a laugh; the fog in the throat will pass, the
black minute's at end, then thy breast. In _Prospice_ we feel the eager
sureness with which he looked forward to rejoining her whose bodily
presence had left him a few months before. But even Browning's cheery
salutation is outdone by Whitman. The American, though acquainted with
suffering as Browning was not, and though apparently without much belief
or interest in personal survival, was almost uncannily friendly to his
own taking off. And it was not because he suffered so greatly that
he hailed release. It was more the natural outcome of his joyous
temperament, subdued at the last to a kind of solemn exaltation. The
following stanzas were written with George Inness' picture _The Valley
of the Shadow of Death_ in mind:

    "Nay, do not dream, designer dark,
    Thou hast portray'd or hit thy theme entire;
    I, hoverer of late by this dark valley, by its confines, having
          glimpses of it,
    Here enter lists with thee, claiming my right to make a symbol too.
    For I have seen many wounded soldiers die,
    After dread suffering--have seen their lives pass off with smiles,
    And I have watch'd the death-hours of the old; and seen the
          infant die;
    The rich, with all his nurses and his doctors;
    And then the poor, in meagreness and poverty;
    And I myself for long, O Death, have breath'd my every breath
    Amid the nearness and the silent thought of thee.

                  "And out of these and thee,
    I make a scene, a song (not fear of thee,
    Nor gloom's ravines, nor bleak, nor dark--for I do not fear thee,
    Nor celebrate the struggle, or contortion, or hard-tied knot),
    Of the broad blessed light, and perfect air, with meadows, rippling
          tides, and trees and flowers and grass,
    And the low hum of living breeze--and in the midst God's beautiful
          eternal right hand,
    Thee, holiest minister of Heaven--thee, envoy, usherer, guide
          at last of all,
    Rich, florid, loosener of the stricture-knot called life,
                Sweet, peaceful, welcome Death."

This is indeed a change from the idea of Death as King of Terrors, as
"spectre feared of man". (_In Memoriam_)

The Greek idea, at its best, seems to have been half-way between the
two extremes. It regarded death with more or less equanimity, as being
certainly not the greatest evil--no king of terrors--but merely an
emissary of greater Powers, to whose will we must bow, though with

  "He that is a man in good earnest must not be so mean as to whine
  for life, and grasp intemperately at old age; let him leave this
  point to Providence."--(Plato: _Gorgias_)

Sophocles has the same thought, with an added touch of Hamlet-like
irritation about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune:

    "It is a shame to crave long life, when troubles
    Allow a man no respite. What delight
    Bring days, one with another, setting us
    Forward or backward on our path to death?
    I would not take the fellow at a gift
    Who warms himself with unsubstantial hopes;
    But bravely to live on, or bravely end,
    Is due to gentle breeding. I have said."--(_Ajax_)

Cicero voices the same pagan feeling, in the contented language of a
rather tired, wise old man:

  "I look forward to my dissolution as to a secure haven, where I
  shall at length find a happy repose from the fatigues of a long
  voyage."--(_De Senectute_)

And was it not Cato--fine old Stoic--who, finding his natural force
abating, and accepting the hint furnished by a stumble in the street,
stooped and kissed the ground: "Proserpine, I come!" and went home,
making a speedy end, unwilling to suffer the indignity of disease and
the shame of being served in weakness? Modern opinion wisely reprobates
suicide, but there is something noble in the Roman attitude, condemn it
as we will. As a modern and almost comic example of a modern Stoic's
attitude to this same question of death we may cite the famous lines of
Walter Savage Landor:

    "I strove with none, for none was worth my strife,
    Nature I loved, and, next to Nature, Art,
    I warmed both hands before the fire of life,
    It sinks, and I am ready to depart."

"Strove with none", indeed! As a matter of fact, Landor strove with
everybody. He was one of the most quarrelsome men that ever lived.
The only man who could tolerate him was Browning. But in his mellower
moments, at least, he was "ready to depart", quietly acquiescing in the
scheme of things. To depart, note; not to be extinguished. And this view
is, all things considered, the most sane and wholesome view of the great
problem of Death. We did not begin to live when we were born in this
present tenement of flesh; we shall not cease to live when we quit it.
'Tis but a tent for a night, an interlude, a descent into matter, a
temporary incarnation for educative purposes, of the soul or a part of
it, as it pursues its lone way towards the ineffable goal. This life is
but a sleep and a forgetting;

    "The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
    Has had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar."

Death, then, is to be welcomed when it comes. We must not run to meet
it, or run from it; but we should welcome it when God thinks fit to send
it, His messenger. The beautiful eternal right hand beckons, and the
soul gladly arises and departs, to "that imperial palace whence it
came", or to fare forth on some "adventure brave and new".


A friend of mine tells me that psychical articles are always
interesting, "because so many people die and go somewhere". Presumably,
those who remain here feel a natural curiosity as to where the departed
have gone, partly for the latter's sake, and partly because they
themselves would like to know, so that they will know what to expect
when their own time comes.

The teaching of religion on this point is admittedly either rather
vague, or, if definite--as with the Augustinian theology--no longer
credible. We have progressed in sensitiveness and humanity, and can no
longer believe that a good God will inflict everlasting torment in a
lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, even on the most wicked of
His creatures. Still less can we believe in such punishment being
inflicted for the "sin of unbelief", for we now know well enough that
"belief", being the net outcome of our total experience and character,
is not under the control of the will. Consequently, a God who punished
creatures for not believing, when He knew all the time that He had so
constructed most of them that they could not believe, would be either
wicked or insane. This inability to believe "to order" is plainly
perceived if we reflect on what our feelings would be if a Mohammedan
implored us to believe in Allah and in Allah's Prophet, as the only way
of salvation. We should decline, saying perhaps that we knew better;
but the real reason of our disbelief would not lie in our knowledge but
in our general makeup. We could not believe in Mohammedanism if we
tried. We have grown up in a different climate, and have taken a
different form.

But, putting aside the vindictive hell-god of Augustine, Tertullian,
Calvin, and the rest--for not even an earthly father would punish a
child for ever--and taking Christianity at its best, we do not find any
very specific eschatological teaching. And this very absence is a good
feature. If a man tries to be good merely in order to avoid hell and
gain heaven--in other words, because it will pay--his goodness is not
much of a credit to him. It is only selfishness of a far-sighted kind.
Religion, on the other hand, when at its best, seeks to influence
character, not by threats and promises, but by encouraging moods and
attitudes and habits of thought from which good actions will flow
spontaneously, without any profit-and-loss calculations. Modern
Christianity is therefore perhaps right in touching much more lightly
on the future state than was customary in earlier centuries.

Nevertheless, we cannot repress a little curiosity. People die and go
somewhere, as my friend says. Where do they go? Modern Religion having
avoided definite answer, we turn to Science. And Science, much as it
would surprise such fine old gladiators as Huxley and Tyndall to hear
it--has an answer, and an affirmative one.

Psychical research has, in my opinion, brought together a mass of
evidence strong enough to justify the following conclusions. I do not
say they are "proved." You cannot "prove" that the earth is round,
unless your hearer will at least study the evidence. You cannot even
prove to him that 2 plus 2 makes 4, if he refuses to add. Therefore I
do not say anything about proof. I say only that after many years of
careful study and investigation I am of opinion that the evidence
justifies the conclusions.

(1) Telepathy is a fact. A mind may become aware of something that is
passing in another mind at a distance, by means other than the normal
sensory channels. The "how" of the communication is entirely unknown.
The analogy of wireless telegraphy of course suggests itself, but is
misleading. The ether-waves employed in wireless telegraphy are physical
pulses which obey the law of inverse squares; telepathy shows no
conformity with that law, and has not been shown to be an affair of
physical waves at all. I believe that it is not a physical process; that
it occurs in the spiritual world, between mind and mind, not primarily
between brain and brain. And, if so--if mind can communicate with mind
independently of brain--the theory of materialism at least is exploded.
If mind can act independently of brain, mind may go on existing after
brain dies.

(2) Communications, purporting to emanate from departed spirits, are
sometimes so strikingly evidential that it is scientifically justifiable
to assume the agency of a discarnate mind. For example, in a case known
to me, a "spirit" communicating through a non-professional medium--a
lady of means and position--referred to a recipe for pomatum which
the communicator said she had written in her recipe book. No one knew
anything about it; but, on hunting up the book, the deceased lady's
daughters found a recipe for Dr Somebody's pomade, which their mother
had evidently written shortly before her death. They confirmed that
"pomatum" was the word which their mother used. The points to be noted
are: That the medium was not a professional; that no one who knows her
has doubted her integrity; that she was not acquainted with either
the deceased lady or her daughters; that the knowledge shown was
not possessed by any living (incarnate) mind, and is therefore not
explainable by telepathy; and, finally, that the case was watched and
reported on by one of our ablest investigators--a lecturer at Newnham
College--who found no flaw in the evidence.[1] I repeat that I do not
claim this to be "proof". I give it merely as an illustration, and will
give a few more detailed cases in a later chapter. For the present I
must be content to say that the mass of evidence known to me justifies
the belief that minds survive what we call death.

  [1] _Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol. xvii,
  pp. 181-3.

The question then arises: What is the nature of the after life? And here
we are faced with great difficulties. We can ask the returning spirits,
but we cannot verify their statements. If my uncle John Smith purports
to communicate, I can test his identity by asking him to tell me
intimate family details which I can verify by asking his widow, who
still lives; but I cannot thus check his statements about his spiritual
surroundings. Still, if he has proved his identity--particularly if
telepathy seems excluded--we may perhaps feel fairly safe in accepting
his other statements as true, or at least in admitting their possible
truth. And of course we can obtain the statements of many different
spirits, and can compare them. This has been done. The result is a
striking amount of uniformity. The various spirits agree, on the main

First of all, they are surprisingly unorthodox! They tell of no heaven
or hell of the traditional kind. There is no sudden ascent into
unalloyed and eternal bliss for the good--who, as Jesus pointed out,
are not wholly good--and no sudden plunge into eternal fires for the
bad--who, similarly, are not unqualifiedly bad. There is much of bad in
the best of us, and much of good in the worst of us. Accordingly, the
released soul finds itself not very different from what it was while in
the flesh. It has passed into a higher class of the universal
school--that is all. Tennyson has the idea exactly:

    "No sudden heaven, nor sudden hell, for man,
    But through the Will of One who knows and rules--
    And utter knowledge is but utter love--
    Aeonian Evolution, swift or slow,
    Thro' all the Spheres--an ever opening height,
    An ever lessening earth."

I have said that this view is unorthodox, and so it is, if compared with
the orthodoxy of Calvin or Edwards or Tertullian. But it is pleasant
to find that orthodoxy to-day is a different thing, and that the
Tennysonian notion is backed up in high quarters. The Bishopric of
London is the highest ecclesiastical office in England, after the
Archbishoprics of Canterbury and York, and we find the present Bishop
of London (Dr Winnington-Ingram) speaking as follows:

"Is there anything definite about death in the Bible? I believe there
is. I think if you follow me, you will find there are six things
revealed to us about life after death. The first is that the man is the
same man. Instead of death being the end of him, he is exactly the same
five minutes after death as five minutes before death, except having
gone through one more experience in life. In the second place the
character grows after death; there is progress. As it grows in life
so it grows after death. A third thing is, we have memory. 'Son,
remember', that is what was said to Dives in the other world. Memory for
places and people. We shall remember everything after death. And with
memory there will be recognition; we shall know one another. Husband and
wife, parents and children. Sixthly, we still take great interest in the
world we have left".

The good Bishop gets all this out of the Bible, and quite rightly. We
hope no heresy-hunter will accuse him of "selecting" his texts and
ignoring the hell-fire ones.

So far as earth-language can go, the foregoing represents the probable
truth regarding the after life. If we inquire for details, we shall
get nothing very satisfactory. If we ask a spirit concerning what he
does--how he occupies himself--he will either say he "cannot explain so
that you will understand" or will tell about living in houses, going
to lectures, teaching children, and the like. All this is obviously
symbolical. Any communications that a discarnate entity can send must,
to be intelligible to us, be in human earth-language; and this language
is based on sense-experience. After death, experience is different, for
we no longer have the same bodily senses--eyes, ears, etc.: consequently
no explanation of the nature of spiritual existence can be more than
approximately true; yet such expressions as living in houses, going to
lectures, and the like, may be as near the truth as earth-language can
get. If a bird tried to describe air-life to a fish, the best it could
do would be to say it is something like water-life, but there is more
light, more ease of movement, more detail, more things of interest
and beauty. Of the wonders of sound--skylark's song, human choruses,
instrumental symphonies--no idea could be conveyed to the fish. Probably
our friends in the next stage of existence have, in addition to the
experiences which they can partly describe, other experiences of which
they can give us absolutely no idea. They have been promoted. Their
interests and activities have become wider, their joys greater. Yet they
are the "same" souls, as the butterfly is the "same" as the chrysalis
from which it has arisen. But to know exactly what it feels like to be a
butterfly, the caterpillar and chrysalis have to wait Nature's time. So
must we.


Spiritualism and Psychical Research are to the fore just now, and there
is much newspaper and vocal discussion, based for the most part on
ignorance, particularly as regards the violent attackers of these
things. It is desirable that exact knowledge of the subject should
become more general, and in a recent volume I have tried to review the
whole subject impartially.[2]

  [2] _Spiritualism: Its History, Phenomena, and Doctrine_ (Cassell &
  Co., Ltd.).

But there are many who in these stressful days have no time for even
one volume on this kind of thing, and for them, or such of them as may
read this, I have tried in the present article to give an idea of what
psychical research is, on the spiritualistic side, omitting the medical
side which concerns itself with suggestive therapeutics. The article was
first written as a paper which was read before a society of clergy in
Bradford, whose request for it was a significant and pleasing indication
that ministers are aware of the importance of the subject. They are
realising that psychical research is a powerful support to religious
faith, and that its results provide comfort for the bereaved. We live in
a scientific age, and the sorrowing heart asks for more than a text and
an assurance that it is God's will and all for the best; it asks whether
it is a fact that the departed one still lives and knows and loves,
whether it is well with him, and whether there will be reunion "over
there". Psychical research enables us to answer these questions in
the affirmative. Science is now backing up religion, and is providing
ministers with by far the best weapon against materialism and so-called
rationalism. It meets these negative 'isms on their own ground, and does
not need to take cover under intuition or personal religious experience,
which are convincing only to the experient. I am not belittling these;
I am only saying that the phenomenal evidence is more potent for the
scientific type of mind, and that a knowledge of this evidence is useful
to those who are defending religion.


It is found by experiment that ideas can be communicated from mind to
mind through channels other than the known sensory ones. Professor
Gilbert Murray of Oxford, probably the most famous Greek scholar in this
country, recently carried out some interesting experiments of this kind
in his own family. He would go into another room, leaving his wife and
daughter to decide on something which they would try to communicate to
him on his return. They chose the most absurd and unlikely things, but
in a large number of cases Professor Murray, by making his mind as
passive as possible and saying the first thing that came into his head,
was able to reproduce with startling accuracy the idea they had in mind.
For instance, they thought of Savonarola at Florence and the people
burning their clothes and pictures and valuables. Says Professor Murray:
"I first felt 'This is Italy', then, 'this is not modern'; and then
hesitated, when accidentally a small tarry bit of coal tumbled out of
the fire. I smelt oil or paint burning and so got the whole scene. It
seems as though here some subconscious impression, struggling up towards
consciousness, caught hold of the burning coal as a means of getting
through".[3] On another occasion they thought of "Grandfather at the
Harrow and Winchester cricket match, dropping hot cigar-ash on Miss
Thompson's parasol." Professor Murray's guess, reported verbatim, was:
"Why, this is grandfather! He's at a cricket match--why it's absurd:
he seems to be dropping ashes on a lady's parasol." Another time they
thought of a scene in a book of Strindberg's which Professor Murray had
not read: a poor, old, cross, disappointed schoolmaster eating crabs for
lunch at a restaurant, and insisting on having female crabs. Professor
Murray says: "I got the atmosphere, the man, the lunch in the restaurant
on crabs, and thought I had finished, when my daughter asked: 'What kind
of crabs?' I felt rather impatient and said: 'Oh, Lord, I don't know:
female crabs.' That is, the response to the question came automatically,
with no preparation, while I thought I could not give it. I may add that
I had never before heard of there being any inequality between the sexes
among crabs, regarded as food."

  [3] _Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol. 29,
  p. 59. (For brevity's sake I shall hereinafter use the recognised
  initials "S.P.R." for the Society.)

This kind of evidence is not the best, because the thoughts of
members of one family run more or less in similar grooves; though the
experimenters recognised this and chose unlikely things purposely. Other
investigators have sometimes used cards, drawing one at random from a
shuffled pack, looking at it, and the percipient then trying to say what
it is. The chance of success is of course one in fifty-two, and the
amount of success which we might expect by chance in any series can
be mathematically determined. In one series of successful experiments
conducted by Sir Oliver Lodge the odds against an explanation by chance
alone were about ten millions to one. In ordinary matters this would be
regarded as proof.

Other experiments of the same general character have been carried out by
Sir William Barrett, Professor Sidgwick, and others, and details may be
found in the S.P.R. _Proceedings_. In most cases the idea comes into the
mind as an impression, but if the percipient is a good visualiser it is
sometimes seen almost externalised as a hallucination. This leads us to
the next step.

If it is possible to convey to another mind--sometimes so vividly that
the thing is almost seen as if out there in space--an image of scenes
thought about, may it not be possible to convey an image of oneself?
This idea occurred to a gentleman referred to by Myers as Mr S. H. B.
in his book _Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death_. Mr
S. H. B., whom I know by correspondence and whose brother I have known
personally for many years, decided that he would try to make himself
visible to two young ladies whom he knew, and he concentrated his mind
on the effort just before going to bed. He willed to show himself in
their room at one o'clock in the morning. The distance from his house to
theirs was three miles. Next time he saw them, a few days later, they
told him they had had a great fright: the elder sister had seen Mr B.'s
apparition, had screamed and awakened her little sister, who also saw
him. The time was one o'clock in the morning. They told him this before
he said anything about his experiment, and they had no reason to expect
that he would try anything of the kind. Both Mr B. and his brother
are keen and successful business men; Mr S. H. B. is now retired, his
brother is still the head of a large firm. I mention this because some
critics seem to have a notion that psychical researchers are a crowd of
long-haired poets or semi-lunatic cranks.


Now if a living man can by force of will project a telepathic phantasm
of himself, it is reasonable to suppose that a dead man can do the same,
if the so-called dead man still exists; for telepathy does not seem to
be a physical process of ether-waves, does not conform to the law of
inverse squares or propagate itself in all directions as physical forces
do. It seems to occur in the mental world, between mind and mind rather
than between brain and brain. Consequently, telepathy from the dead is
likely to be easier than from the living, for they over there are not
clogged with the fleshly body. Certainly, however they may be explained,
there are many cases of the apparition of a deceased person. The
difficulty about accepting the evidentiality of some of them is that if
the percipient knew that the person appearing was dead, the apparition
may be merely a subjective hallucination. And even if the death was not
known, it might be surmised, and the apparition might be the result of
expectancy if the person appearing was known to be ill or in danger. But
there are some cases in which a certain amount of detail is conveyed,
rendering a subjective explanation not very probable. For instance,
Captain Colt had a vision of his brother, in a kneeling position, with
a bullet wound in his right temple. He described the vision to several
people in the house before any news came, so the case does not rest on
his word alone. In due time information arrived that his brother had
been killed. He had been shot through the right temple, had fallen among
a heap of others, and was found in a kneeling position. In his pocket
was a letter from Capt. Colt asking him, if anything happened to him,
to make his presence known in the room in which as a matter of fact the
apparition was seen. The vision, it was found, occurred a few hours
after the death. Mr Myers gives full details in _Human Personality_.
In this case the bullet-wound and the kneeling position are points of
correct detail which are hardly explicable on a subjective theory. The
best sceptical theory is that the incident was telepathic, the wounded
brother sending out his telepathic message after being shot. This is
possible, but hardly probable; for death in the case of a bullet-wound
through the temple must be almost instantaneous.

Spontaneous cases of this kind and of this degree of evidentiality
are rare, but there is a large mass of evidence of the same general
character. The S.P.R. once carried out an extensive inquiry, receiving
answers from 17,000 people, and tabulating the results in a volume of
the _Proceedings_. The final conclusion, expressed in weighed and
guarded words, was that "Between deaths and apparitions of the dying
person a connexion exists which is not due to chance alone". This was
signed, among other members of the Committee, by Professor Sidgwick,
whom Professor James once called "the most exasperatingly critical mind
in England". Some of the apparitions occur before the person's actual
death, but usually in such cases he is already unconscious and the
spirit practically free. As to those occurring after, the main
difficulty about admitting them as proof of survival is, as just said,
the possibility that although they may appear after the death of the
person, the telepathic impulse may have been sent out before, and may
have remained latent for some time in the mind of the percipient. This
has been carefully considered by investigators, and in many cases there
are reasons for regarding it as an insufficient theory. On the whole,
the evidence tends more and more to suggest that in at least some
instances these happenings are due to the agency of a discarnate mind.
The proof is cumulative, and no single case can be crucial. There is
no coerciveness about it, and each can invent his own hypothesis. But
those who have considered the subject most carefully have come to the
provisional conclusion that the agency of the so-called dead is in some
cases a reasonable, and indeed the most reasonable, supposition. There
are of course many narratives of this kind in the Bible,[4] the _Lives_
of the Saints, and other literature, but these records, being of
pre-scientific date, and lacking the corroborative testimony which we
now require, are of a lower order of evidentiality. The new evidence,
however, is throwing a backward light on many of these ancient stories,
and making them credible once more. To me personally, the Bible is a
much more living book than it used to be. I believe that many things in
it which I used to regard as myths may have been facts.

  [4] _E.g._, Moses and Elias on the Mount.


There are instances, then, of people occasionally having visions which
seem to be in some way caused by departed persons. Sometimes the
percipient has only one experience of the kind in his life; more often
he has several, for this seeing power is somehow temperamental--a sort
of gift, like the alleged second sight of the Highlander. It was well
known to St Paul, as his reference to "discerning of spirits" shows
(1 _Cor._, xii). With some people the experience is fairly common. And
in a very few persons the gift is so strong that it is to some extent
under control. I say to some extent, and I wish to use words very
carefully and to have them understood very clearly at this point. I
know several people, who by putting themselves into a passive and
receptive condition, but without any trance state, can generally get
evidential messages from somewhere; that is, messages embodying facts
which the sensitive did not normally know. And some of this matter
seems to be due to telepathy from the dead. But it cannot be done at
will. I believe that professional mediums who sit for all comers for a
fee are often, and indeed generally, quite honest people, but that they
cannot distinguish between their own imaginations and what really comes
through. Professor Murray, when saying what came into his head, did not
know whether it was right or not; that is, he did not know, until he was
told, whether he had really got the thing telepathically or whether
it was an idea thrown up by his own imagination. So with professional
mediums. They give out the ideas that come to them, but as a rule they
cannot distinguish; and, the power not being entirely under control,
there is often a large mixture of their own imagination.

I have, however, the good fortune to be acquainted with a sensitive who
has the unusual power of being able to distinguish; and this is a great
advantage, rendering verbatim note-taking much easier, and eliminating
any necessity for balancing hits against misses. If nothing comes, he
sits silent or talks ordinarily. If he gets anything, it is practically
always correct. The amount of his success varies, and he will not sit
for people in general. I know many people who have asked him to visit
them, offering handsome payment, but he usually declines. He says he
cannot do it to order, and would be upset if he failed and caused
disappointment. He comes to me, however, because I understand and
always tell him that he need not worry if he gets nothing. In fact the
meeting is regarded as a social call and not as a séance. We talk for
a while about ordinary things, and in half-an-hour or so, if the medium
can get his mind placid enough and is in good trim generally, he will
begin to see and describe spirits present, often getting their names
and all sorts of details. These come for the most part in flashes, and
I take down every word he says, in shorthand, without giving any help
or indication as to whether he is right or wrong. Sometimes in a whole
afternoon he will have only one or two of these gleams, and on one
occasion he got nothing. With conditions at their best he will talk
almost continuously for an hour, the flashes following each other
closely; and sometimes a spirit will remain visible for several
minutes, moving about the room. About a dozen of these interviews are
described in detail in my book _Psychical Investigations_, and other
investigations of the same sensitive by two very able friends of mine
in another town are described in _New Evidences in Psychical Research_.

Perhaps one or two illustrative incidents may make things clearer.

The first time Wilkinson came to see me he said, in the middle of
ordinary talk, that he saw with me the form of a woman who looked about
fifty-four, and whom he described, saying further that her name was
Mary. Taking up a piece of paper and a pencil, he wrote in an abstracted
manner the words "Roundfield Place". He looked at it, without reading
it aloud, then said: "That will be a house", and proceeded to write
something else. I got up to look, and found "Roundfield Place. Yes" (the
"Yes" written in answer to his remark "That will be a house") and a
signature "Mary". Now it happens that my mother's name was Mary,
that the description applied to her, and that she died, in 1886, at
Roundfield Place, not the house to which Wilkinson came, whither we
removed in 1897. Other similar things were said, about other deceased
relatives, all true.

In this kind of thing it is our duty to stick to known causes before
admitting unknown, and my first supposition was that Wilkinson had
primed himself with information. He could have ascertained most of the
things by local inquiry, though it would not be very easy, for my mother
had been dead twenty-two years, and only middle-aged or elderly people
would remember her. Further interviews with him, however, soon carried
me beyond the fraud theory--for holding which I now apologise to him,
feeling considerably ashamed--for he gave me messages from many people
whose association with me I feel sure he did not know, and also some
family matter of a very private kind, characteristic of the spirit who
purported to be communicating, but known to only four living people. I
then fell back on telepathy, assuming that the medium was reading my
mind. But, pursuing my investigations, I received information which I
did not know but which turned out true. For example, Wilkinson on one
occasion described a Ruth and Jacob Robertshaw, giving details about
them and saying that Ruth had a very spiritual appearance, with a sort
of radiance about her, indicating that she had been a very good woman,
and giving other particulars. All this meant nothing to me, for the
names were unknown. But, as I had on some other occasions found that
spirits were described who were relatives of my last visitor, I asked
the person who had last entered the room--except inhabitants of the
house--whether she had known people of these names. It turned out that
they were connexions of hers with whom she had been in close touch
during life, and everything said by the medium was correct. Now in the
first place this incident ruled out fraud, for Miss North's visit had
occurred three days before, and Wilkinson would have had to have
detectives watching both doors of my house, from first thing in the
morning to the last thing at night, to find out who my last visitor
had been; or he would have had to be in league with a servant or a
neighbour, and even thus could hardly have succeeded, for servants
are sometimes out--moreover, similar things have happened during the
_régime_ of different servants--and neighbours could not easily watch
both doors during dark winter evenings. Further, our neighbours are
friends of ours, non-spiritualists, and not acquainted with Wilkinson.
And, after getting to know who my last visitor was, information about
her deceased relatives would have had to be hunted up. I could give
further reasons for believing that fraud was an untenable hypothesis,
but I must be brief. What, next, about telepathy? Well, I had no
conscious knowledge of these people, so the medium could not have got
his information from my conscious mind. It is possible to assume that
I knew it subliminally, and that the medium abstracted it from those
hidden levels of my mind. This is a guess, but a legitimate guess. It
is the guess that Miss Dougall (author of _Pro Christo et Ecclesia_)
makes in criticising this very incident in the book of essays called
_Immortality_, by Canon Streeter and others. She suggests that on the
occasion of Miss North's visit my mind had photographed the contents
of hers, without my knowing it, and that the medium developed the
photograph and read off the required information. It may be so, but it
seems to me far-fetched. Miss Dougall, I may add, is a member of the
S.P.R., and her criticism is instructed criticism, worthy of careful
attention. But I cannot accept her theory, which seems to me more
wonderful and to require more credulity than the spirit theory. For it
is to be observed that the assumed mind-reading is of a character quite
different from anything that has been experimentally established. In
telepathic experiments, like those of Professor Murray, some incarnate
person is _trying_ to communicate the thought. This is not the case in
my sittings with Wilkinson. I am not trying to communicate anything to
him; very much the contrary. And I do not find, after long and careful
observation, any parallelism between what he says and what I happen to
be thinking about. There is, in short, no evidence for the supposition
that my mind is read. The evidence points unmistakably to discarnate
agency--telepathy _from the dead_.


The sort of thing I have described is usually known as normal
clairvoyance, because the sensitive is in a normal state, not in
trance. But there is a further stage, into which, indeed, Mr Wilkinson
sometimes passes, in which there is a change of personality, and a
spirit purports to speak or write with the medium's organs. There
is nothing weird or uncanny in the procedure, nothing deathly or
coma-like; the medium usually sits up and even walks about, though
some trance mediums have to sit still and keep their eyes closed. I
have had visits from many trance mediums; and most of them have failed
to get anything evidential--which at least suggests their honesty, for
they could easily have obtained _some_ information about my deceased
relatives. But the whole matter of trance control is a thorny problem.
Indubitably, evidence of supernormal faculty is sometimes given in
this state, but we of the S.P.R. are divided as to what the control
really is. Some think it is a spirit, as claimed; others think it is
a secondary personality of the medium, as in the remarkable case
of split personality described in Dr Morton Prince's book _The
Dissociation of a Personality_. Mrs Sidgwick, widow of the Professor
and sister of Mr A. J. Balfour, has made a careful psychological study
of the case of Mrs Piper, given in 657 pages of _Proceedings_, vol.
28, and her conclusion is that though telepathy from the dead is
probably shown, and certainly some kind of supernormality, the
controls themselves are dream-fragments of the medium's mind. I am not
qualified to pronounce an opinion on Mrs Piper, not having met her;
but as to the trance mediums I have experimented with, I incline to
agree with Mrs Sidgwick. I think it may be a dodge of the subliminal
to get the over-anxious normal consciousness temporarily out of
the way. But this is a psychological detail, and a difficult one,
requiring much further study. From the psychical research point of
view Mrs Piper's case may be studied in _Proceedings_, vols. 6, 8, 13,
16, and a few of the later ones, or some idea of it can be got from
Sir Oliver Lodge's _Survival of Man_. All the investigators were
convinced of either telepathy or something more. Fraud was excluded by
introducing sitters anonymously, Dr Hodgson himself introducing over
150 different people in this way, and taking careful notes. I have
experimented similarly with Wilkinson, introducing people from distant
places such as Middlesex and Northumberland as well as from towns
nearer home, either under false names or with no names at all, and
being present myself to take notes. Friends of mine have done the same
thing. We were unanimously sceptical to start with, probably more
sceptical than most of those who will read this paper, for we
disbelieved in survival itself. We are now convinced that the fraud
theory is out of the question, that at the very least a complicated
theory of mind-reading--including the reading of the minds of distant
and unknown persons--must be assumed if the theory of survival and
communication is to be avoided.

Of late years there has been a great development in automatic writing
among quite non-professional mediums--private people who are members of
the S.P.R., as for instance the late Mrs Verrall, Classical Lecturer at
Newnham--and some noteworthy evidence has been obtained. But it is too
complex even to summarise here. It seems to be the work of Gurney,
Hodgson, Myers, and Sidgwick, on the other side, for different messages
have come through different sensitives, making sense when put together,
and sense characteristic of these departed leaders. This had not been
thought of, so far as we know, by any living person, and it seems to
eliminate telepathy from the living, for the messages are not understood
until the bits are pieced together. The evidence fills several volumes
of our _Proceedings_, and students should read them carefully.

There are many other kinds of mediumship or psychic faculty, and many
volumes are in existence on each phase; the library of the London
Spiritualist Alliance contains about 3,000. I have read about 500 of
them, and would not recommend anyone else to do the same. There is a
great deal of rubbish among them, though they are not all rubbish. The
reading I recommend is the _Proceedings_ of the S.P.R., the writings of
Sir William Barrett, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr W. J. Crawford, and, above
all, the great work of F. W. H. Myers, _Human Personality and Its
Survival of Bodily Death_, in the original two-volume edition. The
abridged one-volume edition omits many of the illustrative cases. I do
not think that conviction is to be achieved by mere reading; books
would never have convinced me. But careful reading is perhaps
sufficient to lead a fairly tolerant mind to realise that there is
something here which must not be dismissed off-hand; something which is
worthy of investigation. That is as much as we expect. Sir Oliver Lodge
often says that we shall do well if we succeed, in this generation, in
modifying the psychological climate, creating an atmosphere more
favourable to unprejudiced examination of the facts. We have no desire
for revolutions; we want knowledge to grow slowly and surely. The
S.P.R. has been in existence only thirty-seven years, and the
subject is in its scientific infancy. Take the beginnings of any one
science--say, Chemistry, dating it somewhat arbitrarily from Priestley
or Dalton--and note what a little way discovery had gone in a like
period. With increased numbers of workers the pace increases; but in
every science the progress at first must be slow. In psychical research
a good start has been made, and the investigators seem to be certainly
on the track of something, whether their inferences are right in
every detail or not. And every advance in science has extended our
conceptions of this wonderful universe. The heavens declare the glory
of God in a tremendously larger way than they did in the days of the
old Ptolemaic astronomy, though man foolishly fought the Copernican
idea because it seemed to lessen our dignity by making our earth a
speck on the scale of creation instead of the central body thereof. So
with all other phenomena, physical and psychical. We may be sure that
all discovery will be real revelation. With this faith--a well-grounded
faith--we need not fear advance.


I add a few words, rather against my inclination, about recent criticism
of a kind which is hardly worthy that name. Two books, one by Dr Mercier
and one by Mr Edward Clodd, have had a certain popularity, mainly
because they attacked, with a certain smartness of phrase, the book of
a greater man. "Raymond" was being widely read and talked about, and
its popularity secured some success for these hostile books. Curiously
enough, even some of the clergy have quoted approvingly some of the
arguments of these rationalists, no doubt much to the glee of Mr Clodd
in particular. Now I have said before that instructed criticism is
always welcome, for we may hope to learn something from it. But Dr
Mercier, on his own statement, came new to the subject at the age of
sixty-four, read _Raymond_ and _The Survival of Man_, and immediately
sat down to write a flippant book the publication of which we hope he
now regrets. Not only had he never investigated for himself, but he was
also ignorant of the work of the S.P.R.

As to Mr Clodd, his book is better-informed, though frequently unfair.
For instance, in his references to me he is very careful to avoid
any consideration of the strong parts of my case. Like the famous
theological professor, he looks the difficulties boldly in the face--not
_very_ boldly--and passes on, without speaking to them. He has obviously
read fairly widely, but where he does criticise in detail, he always
seizes on weak points and quietly ignores the strong ones. As to
personal investigation he is almost entirely without experience. He says
he attended a séance about fifty years ago, but has forgotten most of
what happened! He says this, with a momentary lapse from his usual
cleverness--for it gives away his case--in a letter to the April (1918)
_International Psychic Gazette_. In other words, he poses as an
authority on a branch of science of which he has no first-hand
knowledge. He criticises and dismisses airily the opinions and
investigations of those who have worked at the subject for ten, twenty,
thirty, or forty years; for it is over forty years since Sir William
Barrett brought his experiments in telepathy before the British
Association. Mr Clodd is a Rationalist, and knows without investigation
that these things cannot be. He is as _à prioristic_ as a medieval
Schoolman, in spite of his scientific pose. And his prejudices
unfortunately prevent him from seeking and studying the facts which
might lead him to other conclusions.

I have not said anything about the S.P.R. itself, but may here add a
few remarks. Says its official leaflet: "The aim of the Society is to
approach these various problems without prejudice or prepossession of
any kind, and in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned inquiry
which has enabled Science to solve so many problems, once not less
obscure nor less hotly debated.... Membership of the Society does not
imply the acceptance of any particular explanation of the phenomena
investigated, nor any belief as to the operation, in the physical world,
of forces other than those recognised by Physical Science". In other
words, the Society has no creed, except that the subject is worth

The Society has well over 1,000 members, and is growing steadily. It
includes many famous men in all walks of life, and indeed its membership
list has been said to contain more well-known names than any other
scientific society except the Royal Society itself. Among the
Vice-presidents are the Right Honourables A. J. and G. W. Balfour, Sir
William Barrett, Sir Oliver Lodge, the late Bishop Boyd-Carpenter and
the late Sir William Crookes. The President for the current year is Lord
Rayleigh, probably the greatest mathematical physicist now living.[5]
The President of the Royal Society (Sir J. J. Thomson) is a member, also
Professor Henri Bergson of Paris, Dr L. P. Jacks (editor of _The Hibbert
Journal_) and innumerable other scientists and scholars whose names are
known to everyone.

  [5] Lord Rayleigh's lamented death has since occurred, July, 1919.

Finally let me assure you that the S.P.R. is so conservative and
suspicious that admission is almost as difficult to obtain as membership
of a high-class London club. It is extremely anxious to keep out cranks
and emotional people of all sorts, and it requires any applicant to be
vouched for as suitable by two existing members; and each application is
separately considered by the Council. The result is a level-headed lot
of members, and the maintenance of a sane and scientific attitude and

From the philosophic side it is sometimes urged that we cannot reason
from the phenomenal to the noumenal, from the world of appearance to the
world of reality; that consequently nothing happening in the material
world can prove the existence of a spiritual one. But this is easily
answered. We cheerfully agree, with Kant, that a spiritual world cannot
be proved coercively and in such knock-down fashion that belief cannot
be avoided. But it can be proved in the same way and to the same extent
as many other things which we believe and find ourselves justified in
believing. For instance, atoms and electrons and the Ether of Space are
not phenomenal; no one has ever seen or heard or felt or smelt them; but
we infer their real existence from the behaviour of the matter which
does affect our senses. Again: we cannot _prove_ to ourselves that other
human beings exist, or even that an external world exists; my experience
may be a huge subjective hallucination. If I were reading this paper I
should not be able to prove to myself that any other mind was present.
Looking around, I should receive certain impressions--sensations of
sight--and I should call certain aggregations of these the physical
bodies of beings like myself. From the similarity of their structure and
behaviour to the structure and behaviour of my own body, I should infer
that they have got minds somehow associated with them, as my mind is
associated with my body. But you could not prove it to me. If you got
angry with my obstinacy, and knocked me down, I should experience
painful sensations, but the existence of a mind external to me--and an
angry one--would still be a matter of inference only. But we find that
the inference is justified. We find that it "works," and social life is
possible. For the purposes, then, both of science and of ordinary life,
we do reason from phenomenon to noumenon, from appearance to reality,
from attribute to substance; and our reasoning justifies itself.
I affirm, therefore, that the kind of proof which we as psychical
researchers put forward for the existence of and communication from
discarnate minds, is philosophically the same kind as the proof we have
of the existence of incarnate minds. If a short and clear exposition of
the point is required, free from any psychical-research bias, I may
refer inquirers to the chapter on the Psychological Theory of an
External World in J. S. Mill's _Examination of Sir William Hamilton's
Philosophy_. Our evidence may be insufficient to justify belief--in the
opinion of many, it is--and I blame no one for disbelieving; but it is
evidence. And if it sufficiently accumulates and improves in quality, it
may amount to a degree of proof at least comparable with that concerning
electrons, which are now accepted as real by all physicists.

One or two difficulties may here be briefly referred to:

1. The appearance in Mrs Piper's script of such obvious dream-stuff
as messages from Homer, Ulysses, and Telemachus! These are of course
absurdities, and no psychical researcher regards them as anything else.
But they are no more absurd than many of our own dreams, and we must
remember that automatic writing comes from the dream-strata of the
medium's mind, these strata seeming to lie _between_ our normal
consciousness and the spiritual world. Consequently messages which
really seem to come from beyond: _i.e._, which are evidential--are often
mixed with subliminal matter from the medium's mind. As a communicator
once said: "The medium's dreams get in my way." All this has to be
allowed for, but in good mediums there is not much of it. In my friend
Wilkinson's case there is none, for he can distinguish. In Mrs Piper's
case there is a little, but it does not invalidate the huge mass of real
evidence that has come. And it at least testifies to her honesty, for no
medium would pretend to get messages from people whom everyone knows to
be mythical--messages which are indeed comic and therefore enable
opponents to score points with the general public by obvious witticisms.

Huxley is often referred to, as having wisely declined to investigate,
knowing beforehand that it was all nonsense. Huxley was busy with his
own work, and, believing _à priori_ that alleged psychical phenomena
were either fraud or self-delusion, naturally declined to give any time
to them. We need not regret his decision, for he was doing work that was
more important than psychical investigation would have been, just then.
But he was wrong in his _à priori_ belief, or rather unbelief. He had
never seen any of these phenomena, but that did not prove that they did
not happen. A native of mid-Africa may never have seen snow, but that
does not prove that no snow exists.

And it happens that the Dialectical Society went on with its task,
appointing committees which investigated without any paid medium. The
majority of the investigators were utterly sceptical at first; they were
practically all convinced at the finish. I state this merely as a fact,
not as a specially important fact; for I find that beginners, when
suddenly faced with striking phenomena, are liable to go from the
extreme of unbelief to an extreme of belief. When one's materialistic
scheme is exploded, there seems no criterion left, and anything may
happen. It usually takes an investigator a year or two to adjust himself
and to learn to follow the evidence and not overshoot it.

Some people say: "But if communication is possible, why cannot _I_
communicate direct with my own departed loved ones?" The question
is seen on reflection, however, to be easily answered. In the first
place, we cannot communicate direct even with our friends in the next
town; we have to get the help of postmen or telegraph clerks and the
like. It is therefore not at all surprising that an intermediary is
needed when they are removed further from our conditions. Probably all
of us have germs of psychic faculty--though I have not yet discovered
any in myself--somewhat as we can all play or sing a little; but the
Paderewskis and Carusos are few. Similarly with psychic faculty. Few
have enough of it to communicate for themselves. On the other hand, it
is much commoner than Carusos are; but of course, when it occurs in a
private person, that person does not advertise the fact. Outsiders would
either scoff, or say "lunacy", or crowd round asking for "sittings",
out of curiosity. Consequently only sympathetic intimates are told, or
people who, like myself, are known to be sympathetic investigators. Some
of the most remarkable sensitives in England at the present day are of
this private kind--people of education and position--and they are not
even spiritualists in the sense of belonging to the spiritualist sect.
They are of various religious persuasions, and belong mostly to rather
orthodox bodies. There is nothing of the crank about them; they are not
Theosophists or Christian Scientists or adherents of any other of
what the sergeant called "fancy religions." I may say that the most
extraordinary experiences I have ever had have been with a psychic of
this kind. I have not alluded to these experiences in my paper, because
the matter is private. But I just mention these things because I find
that psychic faculties are more common than I once thought, and a
sympathetic minister could probably hear of private cases if he let his
sympathy and interest be known. But of course, if he is known to have
condemned the whole thing as Satanic--as Father Bernard Vaughan does--or
as lunacy, people with psychic experiences will take very good care not
to tell him about them.

As to details about the nature of the after-life, I have no dogmatic
opinions to offer. Probably it is impossible for those over there to
describe their experience adequately, in our earthly terms. Such
information as we get must be largely symbolical, as when mediums
describe a specially good deceased person as surrounded with radiance. I
have several times noticed that the relative "brightness" or "radiance"
of a spirit, as described by the medium, has correctly indicated that
spirit's character, though the medium had no normal knowledge whatever
of either the person's character or even existence. But though our
information must probably be mainly symbolical, I think we are justified
in believing that we begin the next stage pretty nearly where we leave
off here. There is no sudden jump to unalloyed bliss for even such good
people as you, no sudden plunge to everlasting woe even for sinners like
me. This, I admit, is not in accordance with what I used to hear from
the pulpit twenty years ago. But it agrees with what I read now of the
opinions of such men as the Bishop of London and Dr J. D. Jones; and
other clerical writers, such as Canon Storr in his _Christianity and
Immortality_ and Dr Paterson Smyth in his excellent _Gospel of the
Hereafter_ take the same view. Our modern moral sense refuses to believe
that a good God will sentence any creature to everlasting pain; and
although it may be contended that man has free-will and is therefore
the arbiter of his own fate, it still remains that God gave him that
freedom, and therefore still bears the ultimate responsibility. To
retain belief in a God who can be loved and worshipped, I at least must
disbelieve in everlasting pain for anyone.

And, added to this moral revolt, there has come a war in which millions
of young men have died before their natural time. These young fellows,
we feel, are at least in most cases neither good enough for heaven nor
bad enough for hell. The sensible supposition seems to be--and it is
borne out by psychical facts--that they have gone on to the next stage
of life, which to most or all of them is an improvement; that they are
busy and happy there; that they are still more or less interested in and
cognisant of our affairs; that they will come to meet their loved ones
when _they_ cross over--of this I have had much evidence--and that they
and humanity as a whole are travelling on an upward path toward some
goal at present inconceivable to our small and flesh-bound souls.

Some people have objected that psychical research will substitute
knowledge for faith. This is surely a curious objection, and few will
advance it. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, and my
belief is that He wants us to learn all we can about His handiwork.
Nature is a book given to us by our Father, for our good; study of it is
a duty, neglect of it is unfilial and wrong. Psychical research studies
its own particular facts in nature, and is thus trying to learn a little
more of God's mind. It is not we, but those who oppose us, who are

And as to this matter of faith; well, after we have learnt all we can,
there will still be plenty of scope left for the exercise of faith in
general, for our knowledge will always be surrounded by regions of the
unknown. If anyone says that psychical research antagonises _Christian_
faith, I say most emphatically that on the contrary it _supports_ it.
Christianity was based on a Fact: the Resurrection and Appearances of
Jesus. Psychical-research facts are rendering that event credible to
many who have disbelieved it. Myers says that in consequence of our
evidence, everyone will believe, a century hence, in that Resurrection;
whereas, in default of our evidence, a century hence no one would have
believed it. And to him, personally, psychical research brought back the
Christian faith which he had lost.

I hope that the facts and inferences which I have very sketchily put
before you will have made it clear that there is some reality in the
subject-matter of our investigations, and that these latter powerfully
support a religious view of the universe. I believe that we are
giving materialism its death-blow; hence the wild antagonism of such
well-meaning but belated writers as Mr Clodd. But we are not ourselves
religious teachers. That is your domain. You will use our work and its
results, as you use the work and results of other labourers in the
scientific vineyard. And I think you will find ours specially helpful.


Probably few of us keep a diary nowadays. I don't. But I somehow got
into the habit, soon after I became interested in psychical things, of
jotting down in a notebook the conclusions at which I had arrived--or
the almost complete puzzlement in which I found myself, as the case
might be. Glancing recently through these records of my pilgrimage, it
seemed to me that a sketch of it might be of some interest or amusement
to others.

Professor William James says in his _Talks to Teachers_ that it is
very difficult for most people to accept any new truth after the
age of thirty; and that indeed old-fogeyism may be said to begin
at twenty-five. It is perhaps therefore not surprising that, coming
fresh to the subject at thirty-two--in 1905--I found the struggle to
psychical truth a very long and arduous affair. Having been brought up
on the ministrations of a hell-fire-preaching Nonconformist pastor
whose theology made me into a very vigorous Huxleyan agnostic, I was
biased against anything that savoured of "religion," and moreover
"spiritualism" was unscientific and absurd. So I thought, in my
ignorance; for I knew nothing whatever of the evidence on which
spiritualistic beliefs are based.

However, I fortunately ran up against hard facts which soon cured me of
negative dogmatism. I became acquainted with a medium who satisfied me
that she could diagnose disease, or rather her medical "control" could,
from a lock of the patient's hair; and this without any information
whatever being given. Also that the diagnosis often went beyond the
knowledge of the sitter, thus excluding telepathy from anyone present or
near. But this did not prove that the control was a spirit, so I turned
to other investigations.

First, I set myself to "read up". I feel sure that this is the best
course for beginners to adopt, after once achieving real open-mindedness.
It enables one to investigate with proper scientific care when
opportunity arises, and with much better chance of securing good
evidence. Without this preparation, an investigator has little idea how
to handle that delicate machine called a medium, and indeed no amount of
reading will entirely equip the experimenter, for there are many things
which only experience can teach. Also, without this preparation, the
investigator will be liable either to give things away by talking too
much, or will create an atmosphere of suspicion and discomfort by being
too secretive. It takes some practice to achieve an open and friendly
manner while never losing sight of the importance of imparting no
information that would spoil possible evidence. This of course is
desirable from the medium's point of view as well as that of the sitter.
It is hard on a medium if, for example, a really supernormally-got name
does not count because the sitter himself had let it slip.

I think my reading began with _Light_ and some of Mr E. W. Wallis's
books, but I soon found my way to the _Proceedings of the Society for
Psychical Research_, and recognised that here was what I was seeking.
I cannot sufficiently express my admiration, which is as great as ever,
for such masterly pieces of evidence as, for instance, Dr Hodgson's
account of sittings with Mrs Piper, in volume 13. If we were perfectly
logical beings, without prejudice, that account ought to convince
anybody; certainly it ought to convince the reader of the operation of
_something_ supernormal, and it ought to go a long way towards
excluding telepathic theories and rendering the spirit explanation the
most reasonable one. But we are not logical beings. We require to be
battered for a long time by fact after fact before we will admit a new
conclusion. I remember saying, as indeed I noted down in the diary
mentioned, that a few of these volumes, with Myers's _Human Personality_,
left me in the curious position of being able to say that, though I was
not convinced, I felt that logically I ought to be, for the evidence
seemed irrefragable. Then I read Crookes' _Researches in the Phenomena
of Spiritualism_, and my logical agreement was accentuated, for Sir
William Crookes was my scientific Pope, in consequence of my having
worked from his chemical writings, and having an immense admiration
for his mind and method. But my actual inner conviction was not much
changed. Kant says somewhere that we may test the strength of our
beliefs by asking ourselves what we would bet on them. At this point I
had not got to the stage of being prepared to bet much on the truth of
the survival of human beings or the possibility of communicating with
them if they did survive. I thought the case was logically proved, but
I didn't feel it in my bones, as the phrase goes. For this, personal
experience is necessary; at least it is for an old fogey of over
thirty, with my particular build of mind.

And I was fortunately able to get this experience. One of the two
best-known mediums in the North of England, Mr A. Wilkinson, happened
to live only a few miles away, though he was and is generally away from
home, speaking for spiritualist societies from Aberdeen to Exeter,
and being booked over a year ahead. However, I was able to get an
introduction to him through friends who also carried out investigations
with him (described in my _New Evidences in Psychical Research_), and
since then, with intermissions due mainly to ill-health, I have
had friendly sittings with him continuously. To him I owe my real
convictions, and for this I cannot adequately thank him. Without his
kindness I could never have achieved certainty; for owing to a damaged
heart I could not get about to interview mediums, and there was no other
medium within reasonable distance. Besides, Mr Wilkinson has stretched a
point in my case, for he does not give private sittings, preferring to
confine himself to platform work; and I suppose he makes an exception in
my case in view of my inability. I here once more thank him for all he
has done for me.

At my first sitting with him he described and named my mother and other
relatives, whom he saw apparently with me. I had no reason to believe
that he had any normal knowledge of these people; certainly I had never
mentioned them to him, and it was in the last degree unlikely that
anyone else had. My mother had been dead twenty-two years, and was not
at all a prominent person. Moreover, he got by automatic writing a
signed message from her, giving the name of the house in which we lived
at the time of her death, but which we had left eleven years later. This
seemed to be given by way of a test. At later sittings my father and
other relatives manifested, with names and identifying detail, and
the proof began to be almost coercive. The evidence went beyond any
possibility of the medium's normal knowledge, and was characteristic of
the different communicators in all sorts of subtle ways. Telepathy alone
remained as a possible alternative to the spirit explanation. Then came
a peculiar phase, as if there were a definite plan on the part of some
of my friends on the other side for the purpose of utterly convincing me
by bringing evidence which could not possibly be accounted for by any
supposition of a reading of my own mind. A spirit friend of mine would
turn up, bringing with him a spirit whom I had never heard of, and
saying that he was a friend of his; and on inquiry I would find that it
was so--and sometimes it needed a great deal of inquiry, which made it
all the better evidence, for it showed how difficult it would have been
for the medium to obtain the information; though indeed at this stage
the evidence had forced me past crude suspicions of that sort. On other
occasions unknown spirits would appear, and I would find that they
belonged to the last visitor I had had. Several incidents of this kind
are described in my book _Psychical Investigations_. After some years
of this kind of experience I became fully satisfied that the spirit
explanation was the only reasonable one. Some writers, like Miss Dougall
in a recent volume of essays called _Immortality_, invent a complicated
hypothesis according to which my mind photographs the mind of a visitor
and the medium on his next visit develops and reads off the photograph;
but I confess that my credulity does not stand the strain put upon it by
such a hypothesis. Besides, I have lately had--as if to get round even
such tortured theories as this--evidence giving details which have not
been known to any person I have ever met. I was told to write to a
certain friend of mine, father of the ostensible communicator. The facts
were unknown even to him, but he was able to verify them completely;
and they were characteristic and evidential of the identity of the
ostensible communicator.

If all my results were of the kind I have had through Mr Wilkinson the
case would, for me, be so utterly and overwhelmingly proved that doubt
would be absurd. But this is too much to expect. I have had many
other mediums here, with varying success, but nothing approaching Mr
Wilkinson's. In many cases it is fairly obvious that the medium's
subliminal--or the control's imagination--has been doing part of the
business, no doubt unknown to the medium's normal consciousness. But in
no case have I had any indication of fraud. This seems sufficient answer
to Mr Edward Clodd's credulous acceptance of the theory of a Blue-Book
and inquiry system which enables mediums to post themselves up about
likely sitters. It would be the easiest thing in the world for an
imitation medium to learn enough about me to give what would seem on the
face of it a fairly "good" sitting. But this is never the case. Either
the medium fails or he is so successful that normal knowledge is ruled
out. On Mr Clodd's theory, I ought to have neither of these extremes;
I ought to have no failures, and no results going beyond what inquiry
could produce. But I need not labour this point, for Mr Clodd has
recently confessed his almost absurd innocence of any first-hand
experience. In a letter to the _International Psychic Gazette_ for
April, 1918, he said he had been to a sitting about fifty years ago, but
he does not remember much about what happened! Yet he sets up as an
authority on this branch of experimental science! It is like someone
writing on chemistry after being in a laboratory once, fifty years ago.

Some of my most curious experiences, concerning which I have not yet
published anything in detail, have been in connexion with crystal
vision. I happen to know a sensitive--not a professional medium or even
a spiritualist--who has physical-phenomena powers of very unusual and
indeed probably unique type. Not only can she see in the crystal and
get evidential messages by writing seen therein, but the writing or
pictures are visible to anyone present. I have seen them myself. As
many as six people at a time, myself among them, have seen the same
thing, and not one of the six was of suggestible type or had had any
hallucinations. All were middle-aged, except one young lieutenant, and
we were indeed a rather exceptionally un-neurotic and stodgy lot. But
though the things seem objective--I am going to try to photograph them,
also the sensitive, in the hope of confirming the Crewe phenomena--they
are somehow more or less influenced by the sensitive's own mind,
without her conscious knowledge; for, _e.g._, in one message,
purporting to come from my father, I was addressed as Arthur, a name
which would be natural to the medium who knows me mostly from printed
matter and a few letters, but which is entirely inappropriate in
relation to my father. Yet a good deal of evidence of identity has come
through this sensitive, and this "mixture" does not invalidate the
case. Again, a queer feature of this sensitive's powers is that lost
objects are frequently found as a result of instructions given in the
crystal; and in many of these cases it seems certain that the position
of the lost object could not have been known to any incarnate mind,
or of course it would not have been left there. In one case it was a
valuable ruby; in several others it was Treasury notes. This sensitive
also is a medium for very good raps, which all present can hear quite
distinctly and which show intelligence, answering questions and so

I have therefore reached the conviction that human survival is a fact,
that the life over there is something like an improved version of
the present one, and--a comforting thought, supported by much of my
evidence--that we are met at death by those who have gone before. Some
of my more mystical friends, who have not needed such prolonged jolting
to get them out of materialistic grooves, are rather bored with me for
dwelling so much on the evidence and on the nature of the next state.
They call it "merely astral"; as for them, their minds soar in higher
flights. One friend, a sort of radical High Churchman, said to me some
time ago that he was "not interested in the intermediate state". But
I rather think that he will have to be. I may be wrong, but I suspect
that, whether they like it or not, these good people will have to go
through the intermediate state before they get anywhere else. Good
though they are, I do not believe they are good enough for unalloyed
bliss or union with the Godhead. Such sudden jumps do not happen.
Progress is gradual. Indeed, I have noticed lately that my High
Churchman friend has shown much more interest in these merely psychical
things. Perhaps he thinks he had better turn back and make sure of the
next state and its nature, perceiving that it is a necessary bridge or
"tarrying-place" (which is the alternative reading for the "mansions"
of our Father's house) on the way to the heaven which he quite rightly
aims at.

As to the future of psychical science and opinion, I feel sure that
great things are now ahead. The war, with the terrible amount of
mourning it entails, has quickened interest in the subject, and for
millions of people the question of survival and the next state has
become an urgent and abiding one. Their interest, instead of being
almost wholly on this side, is very largely over there, whither their
loved ones have gone. Similarly with the soldiers who have come safely
through the war. All have lost friends, all have faced the possibility
of sudden or slow and painful death. And probably all young people at
present, and most adults, have out-grown the crude beliefs of last
century's orthodoxy with its everlasting hell, and are ready for a more
rational system. This is being supplied, backed by scientific proof, by
psychical research and scientific spiritualism. It seems likely that the
religion of the best minds for the next half-century or so, and perhaps
onward, will be something like that which Myers came to hold in his
later years. It does not much matter whether the spiritualist sect
grows as an institution or not. Many people will accept its main belief
without feeling it necessary to leave the communion to which they
already belong. It seems certain that the idea itself will be the ruling
idea in many minds for a long time, and no doubt psychic faculty will
become much more common, for thousands are now trying to develop it who
never cared to try before. Quite possibly the effort on both sides of
the veil, in consequence of so many premature deaths, may bring about
a closer communion between the two sides than has ever been known
hitherto. A great lift-up of earthly thought would be the result, a
perhaps final emergence from the chrysalis stage of materialism; and we
shall then be near the time when, as the inspired Milton makes his
Raphael say:

    "Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
    Improved by tract of time, and winged ascend
    Ethereal, as we, or may, at choice,
    Here or in heavenly Paradises dwell."


Mr G. K. Chesterton, with true journalistic instinct, recently
stimulated public interest in himself and other worthy things by
engineering a discussion on "Do Miracles Happen?" The debate furnished
an opportunity of harmlessly letting off steam, but apparently each
disputant "was of his own opinion still" at the finish; though some of
the newspapers thought that the affirmative was proved, not by argument,
but by the actual occurrence of a miracle at the meeting--for Mr Bernard
Shaw was present, but remained silent! Joking apart, however, these
discussions are usually rendered nugatory by each debater attaching a
different meaning to the word. To one of them, a "miracle" involves the
action of some non-human mind; to others it is only a "wonderful"
occurrence, which is the strictly etymological meaning. It is only in
the latter sense that orthodox science has anything to say on the

David Hume, in the most famous of his essays, says that a miracle is "a
violation of the laws of nature", which laws a "firm and unalterable
experience has established". A century later, Matthew Arnold disposed of
the question in an even shorter manner. "Miracles do not happen", said
he, in the preface to _Literature and Dogma_. Modern science has,
speaking generally, concurred.

But the two statements are not very satisfactory. It is true, no doubt,
that miracles did not enter into the experience of David Hume and
Matthew Arnold; but this does not prove that they have never entered
into the experience of anybody else. If I must disbelieve all assertions
concerning phenomena which I have not personally observed, I must deny
that the sun can ever be north at mid-day, as indeed the Greeks did
(according to Herodotus), when the circumnavigators of Africa came back
with their story. But if I do, I shall be wrong. (_Histories_, book IV,
"I for my part do not believe them", says even this romantic historian.)

It is as unsafe to reject all human testimony to the marvellous as it
is to accept it all without question. The modern mind has gone to the
negative extreme, as the medieval mind went to the other. Take for
instance the twenty-five thousand Lives of the Saints in the great
Bollandist collection. They are full of miracles, of most incredible
kinds; yet in those days the accounts caused no astonishment. There was
no organised knowledge of nature, outside the narrow orbit of daily
life--and how narrow that was, we with our facile means of communication
and travel can hardly realise. Consequently there was little or no
conception of law or orderliness in nature, and therefore no criterion
by which to test stories of unusual occurrences. Anything might happen;
there was no apparent reason why it shouldn't. One saint having retired
into the desert to lead a life of mortification, the birds daily brought
him food sufficient for his wants; and when a brother joined him they
doubled the supply. When the saint died, two lions came and dug his
grave, uttered a howl of mourning over his body, and knelt to beg a
blessing from the survivor. (Cf. the curious story of St Francis taming
"Brother Wolf", of Gubbio, in chapter 21 of the _Fioretti_.) The
innumerable miracles in the _Little Flowers_ and _Life of St Francis_
are repeated in countless other lives; saints are lifted across rivers
by angels, they preach to the fishes, who swarm to the shore to listen,
they are visited by the Virgin, are lifted up in the air and suspended
there for twelve hours while in ecstasy they perceive the inner mystery
of the Most Blessed Trinity. Almost every town in Europe could produce
its relic which has produced its miraculous cures, or its image that had
opened or shut its eyes, or bowed its head to a worshipper. The Virgin
of the Pillar, at Saragossa, restored a worshipper's leg that had been
amputated. This is regarded by Spanish theologians as specially well
attested. There is a picture of it in the Cathedral at Saragossa.
(Lecky, _Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe_, vol. 1, page
141.) The saints were seen fighting for the Christian army, when the
latter battled with the infidel. In medieval times this kind of thing
was accepted without question and without surprise.

About the end of the twelfth century there came a change. The human mind
began to awake from its long lethargy; began to writhe and struggle
against the dead hand of authority which held it down. The Crusades, as
Guizot shows, had much to do with the rise of the new spirit, by causing
educative contact with a high Saracenic civilization. Men began to
wonder and to think. Heresy inevitably appeared, and became rife. In
1208 Innocent III established the Inquisition, but failed to strangle
the infant Hercules. In 1209 began the massacre of the Albigenses, which
continued more or less for about fifty years, the deaths being at least
scores of thousands; but the blood of the martyrs was the seed of
further freedom and enlightenment. Nature began to be studied, in
however rudimentary a way, by Roger Bacon and his brother alchemists.
The Reformation came, weakening ecclesiastical authority still further
by dividing the dogmatic forces into two hostile camps, and thus giving
science its chance. Galileo appeared, and did his work, though with many
waverings, for Paul V and Urban VIII kept successively a heavy hand on
him; he was imprisoned at seventy, when in failing health, and, some
think, tortured--though this is uncertain, and his famous _e pur si
muove_ is probably mythical. More important still, Francis Bacon,
teaching with enthusiasm the method of observation and experiment. The
conception of law, of rationality and regularity in nature, emerged;
Kepler and Newton laid down the ground plan of the universe, evolving
the formulæ which express the facts of molar motion. Uniformity in
geology was shown by Lyell, while Darwin and his followers carried
law into biological evolution. Then man became swelled-headed; became
intoxicated with his successes. It had already been so with Hume, and
it became more so with his disciples. Man treated his own limited
experience as a criterion, and denied what was not represented by
something similar therein. Especially was this the case when alleged
facts had any connection with religion. Religion had tried to
exterminate science, and it was natural enough that, in revenge, science
should be hostile to anything associated with religion. Consequently,
the scientific man flatly denied miracles, not only such stories as the
rib of Adam and the talking serpent (concerning which even a church
father like Origen had made merry in Gnostic days fifteen hundred years
before), but also the healing miracles of Jesus, which to us are now
beginning to look possible enough.

This negative dogmatism is as regrettable as the positive variety. It
is not scientific. Science stands for a method, not for a dogma. It
observes, experiments, and infers; but it makes no claim to the
possession of absolute truth. A genuine science, confronted with
allegations of unusual facts, neither believes nor disbelieves. It
investigates. The solution of the problem is simply a question of
evidence. Huxley in his little book _Hume_, and J. S. Mill in his
_Essays on Religion_, made short work of the "impossibility" attitude.
Says the former in _Science and Christian Tradition_, page 197:

"Strictly speaking, I am unaware of anything that has a right to the
title of an impossibility, except a contradiction in terms. There are
impossibilities logical, but none natural. A 'round square', a 'present
past', 'two parallel lines that intersect', are impossibilities, because
the ideas denoted by the predicates round, present, intersect, are
contradictory of the ideas denoted by the subjects square, past,
parallel. But walking on water, or turning water into wine, are plainly
not impossibilities in this sense".

No alleged occurrence can be ruled out as impossible, then, unless the
statement is self-contradictory. Difficulty of belief is no reason. It
was found difficult to believe in Antipodes; if there were people on
the under side of the earth, "they would fall off". But the advance of
knowledge made it not only credible but quite comprehensible. People
stick on, all over the earth, because the earth attracts them more
powerfully than anything else does. Similarly with some miracles. They
may seem much more credible and comprehensible when we have learned
more. Indeed, the wonders of wireless telegraphy, radio-activity, and
aviation are intrinsically as miraculous as many of the stories in the
world's sacred writings.

This is not saying, however, that we are to believe the latter _en
bloc_. They must be taken individually, and believed or disbelieved
according to the evidence and according to the antecedent probability or
improbability. The standing still of the sun (_Joshua_, x) does not seem
credible to the scientific mind which knows that the earth is spinning
at the equator at the rate of one thousand miles an hour and that any
sudden interference with that rotation would send it to smithereens,
with all the creatures on its surface. Of course, a Being who could stop
its rotation could perhaps also prevent it from flying to smithereens;
but we have to extend the miracle in so many entirely hypothetical ways
that the whole thing becomes too dubious for acceptance. It is simpler
to look on the story as a myth.

But such things as the clairvoyance of Samuel (I _Samuel_, x), and
even the Woman of Endor story, are quite in line with what psychical
research is now establishing. And the healing miracles of Jesus are
paralleled, in kind if not in degree, by innumerable "suggestive
therapeutic" doctors. Shell-shock blindness and paralysis are cured at
Seale Hayne Hospital and elsewhere in very "miraculous" fashion. And
turning water into wine is not more wonderful than turning radium into
helium, and helium into lead, which nature is now doing before our
eyes. These things, therefore, have become credible, if the evidence
is good enough. Whether evidence nineteen hundred years old can be
good enough to take as the basis of serious belief is another matter.
Scientific method insists on a high standard of evidence. We must be
honest with ourselves, and not believe unless the evidence satisfies our
intellectual requirements. But the modern and wise tendency is to regard
religion as an attitude rather than as a belief or system of beliefs. It
does not stand or fall with the miracle-stories.


The amount of nonsense that is talked, and apparently widely believed,
about telepathy, is almost enough to make one wish that the phenomenon
had not been discovered, or the word invented. Without any adequate
basis of real knowledge, the "man in the street" seems to be accepting
the idea of thought-transference as an incontrovertible fact, like
wireless telegraphy--which latter is responsible for a good deal of easy
credence accorded to the former, both seeming equally wonderful. But the
analogy is a false one. There is a great deal of difference between the
two. In wireless telegraphy we understand the process: it is a shaking
of the ether into pulses or waves, which act on the coherer in a
perfectly definite way and are measurable. But in spite of much loose
talk about "brain-waves", the fact is that we know of no such thing.
Indeed, there is reason to believe that telepathy, if it is a fact at
all--and I believe it is--may turn out to be a process of a different
kind, the nature of which is at present unknown. For one thing, it does
not seem to conform to physical laws. If it were an affair of ripples in
the ether--like wireless telegraphy--the strength of impact would vary
in inverse ratio with the square of the distance. The influence would
weaken at a known rate, as more and more distance intervened between
sender and recipient. And this, in many cases at least, is not found to
be so, consequently Mr Gerald Balfour and other leading members of
the Society for Psychical Research incline to the opinion that the
transmission is not a physical process, but takes place in the spiritual

I have said that I believe in telepathy, yet I have deprecated too-ready
credence. What, then, are the facts?

The first attempt at serious investigation of alleged supernormal
phenomena by an organised body of qualified observers was made by the
London Society for Psychical Research, which was founded in 1882 by
Henry Sidgwick (Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge), F. W. H.
Myers and Edmund Gurney (Fellows of Trinity), W. F. Barrett (Professor
of Experimental Physics at Dublin, and now Sir William), and a few
friends. The membership grew, and the list now includes the most famous
scientific names throughout the civilised world. In point of prestige,
the society is one of the strongest in existence.

The first important work undertaken was the collection of a large
number of cases of apparition, etc., in which there seemed to be some
supernormal agency at work, conveying knowledge; as in the case of
Lord Brougham, who saw an apparition of his friend at the moment of
the latter's death. The results of this investigation were embodied in
the two stout volumes called _Phantasms of the Living_ (now out of
print, but an abridged one-volume edition has recently been edited by
Mrs Sidgwick (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., 1919), and in
Vol. x. of the _Proceedings_ of the Society. As the outcome of this
arduous investigation, involving the collection and consideration
of about 17,000 cases and extending over several years of time, the
committee made the cautious but memorable statement that "Between
deaths and apparitions of the dying person a connexion exists which is
not due to chance alone". This guarded statement was carefully worded
in order to avoid committing the society to any definite (_e.g._
spiritualistic) interpretation. Some of the apparitions occurred
within twelve hours before the death, some at the time of death, and
some a few hours afterwards. But these latter of course do not prove
"spirit-agency"--though indeed sometimes they seem to render it
probable--for the telepathic impulse or thought may have been sent
out by the dying person, remaining latent--so to speak--until the
percipient happened to be in a sufficiently passive and receptive
state to "take it in".

Definite experimentation was also made, of various kinds, _e.g._, one
person would be shown a card or diagram, and another (blindfolded) would
maintain a passive mind, saying aloud what ideas "came into his head".
Some of these experiments--which are still required and should be tried
by those interested in the subject--indicated that the concentration of
A's mind did indeed sometimes produce a reverberation in the mind of B.
In a series conducted by Sir Oliver Lodge, the odds against the
successes being due to chance can be mathematically shown to be ten
millions to one.

For this new fact or agency, Mr Myers invented the word "telepathy"
(Greek _tele_, at a distance, and _pathein_, to feel), and defined it
as "communication of impressions of any kind from one mind to another,
independently of the recognised channels of sense".

But I wish to say, and to emphasise the statement, that this
transmission, though regarded as highly probable by many acute minds,
cannot yet be regarded as unquestionably proved, still less as occurring
in a common or frequent way. We have all of us known somebody who
claimed to be able to make people turn round in church or in the street
by "willing" them, but usually these claims cannot be substantiated.
It is difficult to eliminate chance coincidence. And the folks who lay
claim to these powers are usually of a mystery-loving, inaccurate build
of mind, and therefore very unsafe guides. Moreover, how many times have
they "willed" without result?

One reason why I deprecate easy credence, leaning to the sceptical side
though believing that the thing sometimes happens, is, that there is
danger of a return to superstition, if belief outruns the evidence.
If the popular mind gets the notion that telepathy is more or less
a constant occurrence--that mind can influence mind whenever it
likes--there is a possibility of a return to the witchcraft belief which
resulted in so many poor old women being burnt at the stake in the
seventeenth century. I prefer excessive disbelief to excessive credulity
in these things; it at least does not burn old women because they have a
squint and a black cat and a grievance against someone who happens to
have fallen ill. Unbalanced minds are very ready to believe that someone
is influencing them. I have received quite a number of letters from
people (not spiritualists) who, knowing of my interest in these
matters, got it into their foolish heads that I was trying some sort of
telepathic black magic on them. I had not even been thinking about them.
It was entirely their own imagination. One of these people is now in an
asylum. I think she would probably have become insane in any case--if
not on this, then on some other subject--but these incidents almost make
me wish that we could confine the investigation and discussion of the
subject to our own circle or society until education has developed more
balanced judgment in the masses. But of course such a restriction is
impossible. The daily press and the sensational novelists have got hold
of the idea. We must counteract the sensational exaggerations, which
have such a bad effect on unbalanced minds, by stating the bare, hard
facts. Here, as elsewhere, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It
is the half-informed people who are endangered. The remedy is more
knowledge. Let them learn that, though there is reason to believe that
under certain conditions telepathy is possible and real, there is
nevertheless no scientific evidence for anything in the nature of
"bewitching", or telepathy of maleficent kind. This cannot be too
strongly insisted on. Let us follow the facts with an open mind, but
let us be careful not to rush beyond them into superstition.


Various popular novelists, such as George Du Maurier in _Trilby_, and
E. F. Benson in _The Image in the Sand_, have taken advantage of the
possibilities which hypnotic marvels offer to the sensational writer,
and have put into circulation a variety of exaggerated ideas. This is
regrettable. Of course the novelist can choose his subject, and can
treat it as he likes; it is the public's fault if it takes fiction for
fact, or allows its notions of fact to be coloured or in any way
influenced by what is avowedly no more than fiction.

But it is certain that it is thus influenced. It is therefore desirable
that the public should be told from time to time exactly what the
scientific position is--what the conclusions are, of those who are
studying the subject in a proper scientific spirit, with no aim save the
finding of truth. This will at least enable the public to discriminate
between fact and fiction, if it wants to.

No doubt the phenomena in question have been often discovered,
forgotten, and rediscovered; but in modern times the movement dates from
Mesmer. Friedrich Anton Mesmer was born about 1733 or 1734. In 1766 he
took his doctor's degree at Vienna, but did not come into public notice
until 1773. In that year he employed in the treatment of patients
certain magnetic plates, the invention of Father Hell, a Jesuit,
professor of astronomy at Vienna.

Further experiments led him to believe that the human body is a kind of
magnet; and that its effluent forces could be employed, like those of
the metal plates, in the cure of disease. Between 1773 and 1778 he
travelled extensively in Europe, with a view to making his discoveries
better known. Also he sent an account of his system to the principal
learned bodies of Europe, including the Royal Society of London, the
Academy of Sciences at Paris, and the Academy at Berlin.

The last alone deigned to reply; they told him his discovery was an
illusion. Apparently they knew all about it, without investigating.
There is no dogmatism so unqualified, no certainty so cocksure, as that
of complete ignorance.

The method at first was probably a system of magnetic passes or
strokings of the diseased part by the hand of the doctor. But, as the
patients increased in number, a more wholesale method had to be devised.
Consequently Mesmer invented the famous "_baquet_". This was a large
tub, filled with bottles of water previously "magnetised" by Mesmer.

The bottles were arranged to radiate from the centre, some of them with
necks pointing away from it and some pointing towards it. They rested
on powdered glass and iron filings, and the tub itself was filled with
water. In short, it was a sort of glorified travesty of a galvanic
battery. From it, long iron rods, jointed and movable, protruded through
holes in the lid. These the patients held, or applied to the region of
their disease, as they sat in a circle round the _baquet_. Mesmer and
his assistants walked about, supplementing the treatment by pointing
with the fingers, or with iron rods, at the diseased parts.

All this may seem, at first sight, very absurd. But the fact remains
that Mesmer certainly wrought cures. And apparently he frequently
succeeded in curing or greatly alleviating, where other doctors had
completely failed. It is no longer possible for any instructed person to
regard Mesmer as a charlatan who knowingly deluded the public for his
own profit. His theories may have been partly mistaken, but his
practical results were indubitable.

It is also worth noting that he treated rich and poor alike, charging
the latter no fee. He was a man of great tenderness and kindness of
heart, devoted to the cause of the sick and suffering; and the accounts
of his patients show the unbounded gratitude which they felt towards
him, and the respect in which he was held.

The orthodox doctors, of course, felt otherwise. They were envious and
jealous of the foreign innovator and his success. And his fame was too
great to allow of his being ignored. Consequently the Royal Society
of Medicine (Paris) appointed a commission to inquire into the new
treatment. The finding, of course, was adverse. The investigators could
not deny the cures, but they fell back on the recuperative force of
nature (_vis medicatrix naturæ_) and denied that Mesmer's treatment
caused the cure.

Obviously, Mesmer, having treated his patients, could not prove that
they would not have recovered if he had _not_ treated them; so his
critics had a strong position. But, on the other hand, neither can an
orthodox doctor prove that _his_ cures are due to _his_ treatment. If it
is _vis medicatrix naturæ_ in one case, it may be the same in the other.

Modern medicine is more and more coming to this conclusion--is
abandoning drugging as it abandoned bleeding and cautery, and is leaving
the patient to nature. This is a significant fact.

But there is good reason to believe that Mesmer's treatment was a real
factor in his cures, for in many cases the patient had been treated by
orthodox methods for years without effect. Perhaps, as the doctors said,
it was "only the recuperative force of Nature", but if the doctors could
not set that force to work, and Mesmer somehow could, he is just as much
entitled to the credit of the cure as if he had done it by bleeding or
drugging. However, by one sort of persecution or another, he was driven
out of Paris, and more or less discredited. After a visit to England, he
retired to Switzerland, where he lived in obscurity until his death in

The method was kept alive by various disciples, such as the Marquis de
Puységur, Dupotet, Deleuze, and many more, but in an amateurish sort of
way. The first-named found that in one of his patients he could induce
a trance state which showed peculiar features. In trance, the man knew
all that he knew when awake, but when awake he knew nothing of what had
happened in trance. This second condition thus seemed to be equivalent
to an enlargement of personality.

Both in England and France the medical side came to the front again,
in the hands of Braid (a Manchester surgeon who first used the term
"hypnotism", from Greek _hypnos_, sleep, and whose book _Neurypnology,
or the Rationale of Nervous Sleep_ was published in 1843), Liébeault,
Bernheim, Elliotson, and Esdaile.

Elliotson and Esdaile still believed in a magnetic effluence, but the
idea was given up by Braid and the "Nancy school" (the investigators
who followed the lines of Liébeault of Nancy), for it was found that
patients could be hypnotised without passes or strokings or any
manipulation. Braid told his patients to gaze fixedly at a bright
object, _e.g._, his lancet. Liébeault produced sleep by talking
soothingly or commandingly filling the patient's mind with the idea
of sleep. In some cases it was found that patients could hypnotise
themselves by an effort of will (this was confirmed more recently by Dr
Wingfield's experiments with athletic undergraduates at Cambridge), and
this disposed of the hitherto supposedly necessary "magnetic effluence"
from the operator.

The most modern opinion is pretty much the same. Dr Tuckey, who learnt
his method from Liébeault himself, and who practised for twenty years in
the West End of London, is convinced that the whole thing is suggestion.
So is Dr Bramwell, who shares with Dr Tuckey the leading position among
hypnotic practitioners in England. The latter, it may be remarked, was
the first qualified medical man to write an important book on the
subject in English, after Braid.

The tendency now is to give suggestions without attempting to induce
actual trance. It is found with many patients that if they will make
their minds passive and receptive, listening to the doctor's suggestions
in an absent-minded sort of way, those suggestions--that the health
shall improve and the specified symptoms disappear--are carried out. The
explanation of this is "wrapped in mystery". No one knows exactly how it
comes about. But it seems to be somewhat thus:

The complicated happenings within our bodies, such as the chemical
phenomena known as digestion and the physical phenomena such as blood
circulation and contraction of involuntary muscles, seem to imply
intelligence, though that intelligence is not part of the conscious
mind, for we do not consciously direct the processes. They go on all
the same--for example--when we are asleep. Presumably, then, there is a
mental Something in us, which never sleeps, and which runs the organic
machinery. If we could get at this Something, and give it instructions,
a part of the machinery which is working wrongly might get attended to
and put right. Unfortunately, the ordinary consciousness is in the way.
We cannot get at the mechanic in the mill, because we have to go through
the office, and the managing director keeps us talking.

Well, in hypnotic trance, or even in the preoccupied "absent-minded"
state, we get past the managing director--who is asleep or attending to
something else--into the mill. We get at the man who really attends to
the machinery. We get past the normal consciousness, and can give our
orders to the "subconscious" or "subliminal"--which means "below the
threshold". In Myers' phrase, suggestion is a "successful appeal to the
subliminal self", but exactly how it comes about, and why the patient
usually cannot do it for himself but has to have the suggestion
administered by a doctor, we do not know.

Of course the word "suggestion" does not really explain anything. It
is a word employed to cover our ignorance. Suggestive methods are as
empirical as Mesmer's. In each case a successful appeal is made to the
recuperative forces of nature, _vis medicatrix naturæ_; but exactly how
or why suggestion does it, we know no more--or hardly any more--than we
know how and why Mesmer's _baquet_ did it. The fact remains, however,
that the thing is done. What we lack is only a satisfactory theory.

At one time it was thought that only functional disorders could be
relieved. But it is now recognised that the line between functional
and organic is an arbitrary one. If we cannot find definite organic
change in tissue, we call the ailment functional; but nevertheless
some change there must be, though microscopic or unreachable.
Consequently even functional disorders are at bottom organic; and,
though of course grave lesions produce the gravest disorders, there is
no _à priori_ impossibility in a hypnotic cure of even the most radical

However, as a matter of practical fact, the "mechanic" has his
limitations, like the normal consciousness. He is not omnipotent.
Consequently we cannot be sure of being able to stimulate him to the
extent of a cure. It depends on his knowledge and power. But he can
always do something, if we can get at him. The chief difficulty is that
in many people he is inaccessible.

For instance, I have many times submitted myself to the treatment of
Dr Tuckey and another medical friend, without effect. I have each time
tried my best to help, making my mind as passive as I could; for I was
sure that if a suggestible stage could be reached, some troublesome
heart symptoms and insomnia could be alleviated. But I was never
able to reach a state even approaching hypnosis. I suppose my normal
consciousness could not put itself sufficiently to sleep. Being
interested in the scientific aspect of the subject, my consciousness
watched the process and analysed its own sensations, instead of
"letting go" and subsiding out of the way.

As to the proportion of susceptible persons, observers differ.
Wetterstrand and Vogt hold that all sane and healthy people are
hypnotisable, and Dr Bramwell's results among strong farm labourers at
Goole support that view. Patients with nervous ailments are difficult
to hypnotise; out of one hundred such cases in his London practice, Dr
Bramwell only influenced eighty. This is the percentage of susceptibles
found by Drs Tuckey and Bernheim also.

The insane are usually unhypnotisable, probably because of their
inability to concentrate their attention. Out of the 80 per cent. of
sane susceptibles, only a small proportion go off into hypnotic sleep;
ten according to Tuckey, rather more according to the experience of
Bramwell, Forel, and Vogt. Most of the susceptible, however, though
retaining consciousness, may be deprived of muscular control. For
example, if told that they cannot open their eyes, they find that
it is so.

The various "stages" of hypnosis shade gradually into each other, and
classifications are not much good. Charcot's three stages of lethargy,
catalepsy, and somnambulism are now discredited as true stages. In good
subjects they are producible at will, and as observed at the Salpêtrière
they were almost certainly due to training.

I have no space for the quoting of detailed medical cases, but it is
desirable to emphasise the practical facts and to make the subject
as concrete as possible to the reader, so I will quote just one, as
illustration, from Dr Bramwell's contribution to _Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research_, vol. xiv, page 99.

"Neurasthenia; suicidal tendencies. Mr D----, aged 34, 1890; barrister.
Formerly strong and athletic. Health began to fail in 1877, after
typhoid fever. Abandoned work in 1882, and for eight years was a chronic
invalid. Anæmic, dyspeptic, sleepless, depressed. Unable to walk a
hundred yards without severe suffering. Constant medical treatment,
including six months' rest in bed, without benefit. He was hypnotised
from June 2 to September 20, 1890. By the end of July all morbid
symptoms disappeared, and he amused himself by working on a farm. He can
now walk forty miles a day without undue fatigue." Similar cases are
now being recorded in the military hospitals. Soldiers make excellent

It has been much debated whether a hypnotised person could be made to
commit a crime. Probably not; it is difficult to be quite sure, but the
evidence is on the negative side. True, a hypnotised subject will put
sugar which he has been told is arsenic into his mother's tea, but his
inner self probably knows well enough that it is only sugar. On the
other hand, it is certain that a hypnotiser may obtain a remarkable
amount of control over specially sensitive subjects, particularly by
repeated hypnotisations.

I have seen hypnotised subjects who seemed almost perfect automata,
obeying orders as mechanically as if they had no will of their own left.
Certainly no one, either man or woman, but particularly the latter,
should submit himself or herself to hypnotic treatment except by a
qualified person in whom full trust can be reposed. And, even then, in
the case of a woman patient, it is well for a third person to be

But the stories of the novelists, about subjugated wills, hypnotising
from a distance, and all the rest of it, are quite without adequate
foundation in fact. There is very little evidence in support of hypnosis
produced at a distance, and in the one case where it did seem to occur
there had been repeated hypnotisations of the ordinary kind, by which a
sort of telepathic rapport was perhaps established (Myers' _Human
Personality_, vol. i, page 524).

Hypnotism against the will is a myth; except perhaps in here and there a
backboneless person who could be influenced any way, without hypnosis or
anything of the kind. The Chicago pamphleteer who wants to teach us how
to get on in business by developing a "hypnotic eye" is merely after
dollars. It is all bunkum.

There is a sense, however, in which hypnotic treatment can be a help in
education and in strengthening the character. Backward and lazy children
could probably be improved, and I know cases in which sleep-walking and
other bad habits have been cured by suggestion. From this it is but a
step to dipsomania, which can often be cured. Dr Tuckey reports seventy
cures out of two hundred cases.

F. W. H. Myers, to whose genius doctors as well as psychologists owe
their first scientific conceptions in this domain, was extremely
optimistic here. He held that though we cannot expect to manufacture
saints, any more than we can manufacture geniuses, there is nevertheless
enough evidence to show that great things could be done.

"If the subject is hypnotisable, and if hypnotic suggestion be applied
with sufficient persistency and skill, no depth of previous baseness
and foulness need prevent the man or woman whom we charge with 'moral
insanity', or stamp as a 'criminal-born', from rising into a state where
he or she can work steadily and render services useful to the community"
(_Human Personality_, vol. i, page 199). Experiments on hypnotic lines
ought certainly to be carried out in our prisons and reformatories. As
to the formerly alleged dangers of such experimentation--dangers of
hysteria, etc., alleged by the Charcot school which is now seen to have
been quite on a wrong tack--they do not exist, if the operator knows his

Says Professor Forel: "Liébeault, Bernheim, Wetterstrand, Van Eeden,
De Jong, Moll, I myself, and the other followers of the Nancy school,
declare categorically that, although we have seen many thousands of
hypnotised persons, we have never observed a single case of mental or
bodily harm caused by hypnosis, but, on the contrary, have seen many
cases of illness relieved or cured by it". Dr Bramwell fully endorses
this, saying emphatically that he has "never seen an unpleasant symptom,
even of the most trivial nature, follow the skilled induction of
hypnosis" (_Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol.
xii, page 209).

A proof that _intellectual_ powers outside the normal consciousness
may be tapped by appropriate methods is afforded by the remarkable
experiments of Dr Bramwell, on the appreciation of time by somnambules.
He ordered a hypnotised subject to carry out, after arousal, some
trivial action, such as making a cross on a piece of paper, at the end
of a specified period of time, reckoning from the moment of waking.
In the waking state, the patient knew nothing of the order; but a
subliminal mental stratum knew, and watched the time, making the subject
carry out the order when it fell due.

The period varied from a few minutes to several months, and it was
stated in various ways, _e.g._ on one occasion Dr Bramwell ordered the
action to be carried out in "24 hours and 2880 minutes". The order was
given at 3.45 P.M. on December 18, and it was carried out correctly at
3.45 P.M. on December 21. In other experiments, the periods given were
4,417, 8,650, 8,680, 8,700, 10,070, 11,470 minutes.

All were correctly timed by the subliminal stratum, the action being
promptly carried out at the due moment. In the waking state the patient
was quite incapable--as most of us would be--of calculating mentally
when the periods would elapse. But the hypnotic stratum could do it,
and this shows that there are intellectual powers which lie outside
the field of the normal consciousness. The argument could be further
supported by the feats of "calculating boys", who can sometimes solve
the most complicated arithmetical problems, without knowing how they do
it. They let the problem sink in, and the answer is shot up presently,
like the cooked pudding in the geyser.

But these things are still in their infancy. Psychology is working at
the subject, but we do not yet know enough to enable us to venture
far in the direction of practical application of hypnotic methods in
education. It seems likely, however, that further investigation will
yield knowledge which may be of inestimable practical value in the
training of minds, as well as in the curing of mental and bodily


It has been said, as a kind of jocular epigram, that the Holy Roman
Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. With similar truth it
may be said that Christian Science is neither Christian nor science,
in any ordinary sense of those words. Still, perhaps we ought to allow
an inventor to christen his own creation, even if the name seems
inappropriate or likely to cause misunderstanding; and, Mrs Eddy having
invented Christian Science as an organised religion--though, as we shall
see, borrowing its main features from an earlier prophet--we may admit
her right to give a name to her astonishing production. In order that
the personal equation may be allowed for, the present writer begs to
affirm that he writes as a sympathetic student though not an adherent.

Mary A. Morse Baker was born on July 16th, 1821, of pious parents, at
Bow, New Hampshire. Her father was almost illiterate, rather passionate,
a keen hand at a bargain, and a Puritan in religion. All the Bakers were
a trifle cranky and eccentric, but some of them possessed ability of
sorts, though Mary's father made no great success in life. His daughter
made up for him afterwards.

The first fifteen years of Mary Baker's life were passed at the old
farm at Bow. The place was lonely, the manner of life primitive, and
education not a strong point in the community. Mrs Eddy afterwards
claimed to have studied in her girlhood days Hebrew, Greek, Latin,
natural philosophy, logic, and moral science! It was, however,
maintained by her contemporaries that she was backward and indolent, and
that "Smith's _Grammar_, and as far as long division in arithmetic",
might be taken as indicating the extent of her scholarship. There is
certainly some little discrepancy here, and perhaps Mrs Eddy's memory
was a trifle at fault. She made no claim to any acquaintance with this
formidable array of subjects in the later part of her life, and it
seems probable that her contemporaries were right. Her physical beauty,
coupled with delicate health, seem to have resulted in "spoiling", for
even as a child she dominated her surroundings to a surprising extent.

In 1843 she married George Glover, who died in June, 1844, leaving her
penniless. Her only child was born in the September following. After ten
years of widowhood she married Daniel Paterson, a travelling dentist.
In 1866 they separated, he making some provision for her. In 1873 she
obtained a divorce on the ground of desertion. In 1877 she married Asa
Gilbert Eddy, who died in 1882.

So much for her matrimonial experiences, which may now be dismissed, as
they had no particular influence on her character and career. To prevent
confusion, we will call her throughout by the name which is most
familiar to us and to the world.

The chief event of Mrs Eddy's remarkable life, the event which put her
on the road to fame and fortune, occurred in 1862. This was her meeting
with the famous "healer", Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. This latter was an
unschooled but earnest and benevolent man, who had made experiments in
mesmerism, etc., and who had found--or thought he had found--that people
could be cured of their ailments by "faith". He therefore began to
work out a system of "mind-cure", which he embodied in voluminous MSS.
Patients came to him from far and near, and he treated all, whether they
could pay or not. Quimby was much above the level of the common quack,
and his character commands our respect. He was a man of great natural
intelligence, and was admirable in all his dealings with family,
friends, and patients.

Mrs Eddy visited him at Portland in 1862, her aim being treatment for
her continued ill-health. She claims to have been cured--in three
weeks--though it is clear from her later letters that the cure was not
complete. Still, great improvement was apparently effected, for she had
been almost bedridden, with some kind of spinal or hysterical complaint,
for eight years previously. But Quimby's effect on her was greater
mentally even than physically. She became interested in his system,
watched his treatment of patients, borrowed his MSS., and mastered his
teachings. In 1864 she visited him again, staying two or three months,
and prosecuting her studies. She now seemed to have formed a definite
desire to assist in teaching his system. No doubt she dimly saw a
possible career opening out in front of her; though we need not
attribute her desire entirely to mere ambition or greed, for it is
probable that Quimby did a great amount of genuine good, and his pupil
would naturally imbibe some of his zeal for the relief of suffering

In 1866 Quimby died, aged sixty-four. His pupil decided to put on the
mantle of her teacher, but more as propagandist and religious prophet
than as healer. In this latter capacity perhaps her sex was against her.
(Even now the average individual seems to have a sad lack of confidence
in the "lady doctor"!) But she was poor, and prospects did not seem
promising. For some time she drifted about among friends--chiefly
spiritualists--preparing MSS. and teaching Quimbyism to anyone who would
listen. (She afterwards denied her indebtedness to Quimby, claiming
direct revelation. "No human pen nor tongue taught me the science
contained in this book, _Science and Health_, and neither tongue nor
pen can overthrow it."--_Science and Health_, p. 110, 1907 edition.)

Though unsuccessful as healer (in spite of her later claim to have
healed Whittier of "incipient pulmonary consumption" in one visit),
she certainly had the knack of teaching--had the power of inspiring
enthusiasm and of inoculating others with her ideas. In 1870 she
turned up at Lynn, Mass., with a pupil named Richard Kennedy, a lad of
twenty-one. Her aim being to found a religious organisation based on
practical results (the prayer of faith shall heal the sick, etc.), it
was necessary to work with a pupil-practitioner. Accordingly she and
Kennedy took offices at Lynn, and "Dr Kennedy" appeared on a signboard
affixed to a tree.

Immediate success followed. Patients crowded the waiting-rooms. Kennedy
did the "healing" and Mrs Eddy organised classes, which were recruited
from the ranks of patients and friends; fees, a hundred dollars for
twelve lessons, afterwards raised to three hundred dollars for seven
lessons. Before long, however, she quarrelled with Kennedy, and in 1872
they separated, but not before she had reaped about six thousand dollars
as her share of the harvest. It was her first taste of success, after
weary years of toil and stress and hysteria and eccentricity. Naturally,
like Alexander, she sighed for further conquest. _L'appétit vient en
mangeant._ And, though in her fiftieth year, she was now more energetic
than ever.

Her next move was the purchase of a house at 8, Broad Street, Lynn,
which became the first official headquarters of Christian Science. In
1875 appeared her famous book, _Science and Health, With Key to the
Scriptures_, which was financed by two of its author's friends. The
first edition was of a thousand copies. As it sold but slowly, she
persuaded her chief practitioner, Daniel Spofford, to give up his
practice and to devote himself to advertising the book and pushing its
sale. Since then it has been revised many times, and the editions are
legion. Loyal disciples of the better-educated sort have assisted in its
rewriting, and it is now a very presentable kind of affair as to its
literary form. Most, if not all, of the editions have been sold at a
minimum of $3.18 per copy, with _editions de luxe_ at $5 or more, and
the author's other works are published at similarly high prices. All
Christian Scientists were commanded to buy the works of the Reverend
Mother, and all successive editions of those works. It is not surprising
that Mrs Eddy should leave a fortune of a million and a half dollars. It
may be mentioned here that she moved from Lynn to Boston in 1882, thence
to Concord (New Hampshire) in 1889, and finally to a large mansion in a
Boston suburb which she bought for $100,000, spending a similar sum in
remodelling and enlarging. The modern prophet does not dwell in the
wilderness, subsisting on locusts and wild honey. He--or she--has moved
with the times, and has a proper respect for the almighty dollar and the
comforts of civilisation.

In 1881 was founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. This
imposingly-named institution never had any special buildings, and its
instructions were mostly given in Mrs Eddy's parlour, Mrs Eddy herself
constituting all the faculty. Four thousand students passed through
the "College" in seven years, at the end of which period it ceased to
exist. The fees were usually $300 for seven lessons, as before. Few
gold-mines pay as well as did the "Metaphysical College". The fact does
not at first sight increase our respect for the alleged cuteness of the
inhabitants of the States. But, on further investigation, the murder is
out. Most of these students probably earned back by "healing" much more
than they paid Mrs Eddy. Our respect for Uncle Sam's business shrewdness
returns in full force.

The experiment of conducting religious services had been made by Mrs
Eddy at Lynn in 1875, but the first Christian Science Church was not
chartered until 1879. The Scientists met, however, in various public
halls of Boston, until 1894, when a church was built. This was soon
outgrown, and 10,000 of the faithful pledged themselves to raise two
million dollars for its enlargement. The new building was finished in
1906. Its auditorium holds five thousand people. The walls are decorated
with texts signed "Jesus, the Christ," and "Mary Baker G. Eddy"--these
names standing side by side.

The following examples, culled almost at random, will further show how
great is her conviction that she has the Truth, how vigorously she bulls
her own stocks (somehow, financial metaphors seem inevitable when
writing of Mrs Eddy):

"God has been graciously fitting me during many years for the reception
of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific
mental healing". (_Science and Health_, p. 107.)

"I won my way to absolute conclusion through divine revelation, reason
and demonstration". (_Ibid._, p. 109.)

"To those natural Christian Scientists, the ancient worthies, and to
Christ Jesus, God certainly revealed the Spirit of Christian Science,
if not the absolute letter". (_Ibid._, p. 483.)

"The theology of Christian Science is truth; opposed to which is the
error of sickness, sin, and death, that truth destroys". (_Miscellaneous
Writings_, p. 62.)

"Christian Science is the unfolding of true Metaphysics, that is,
of Mind, or God, and His attributes. Science rests on principle and
demonstration. The Principle of Christian Science is divine". (_Ibid._,
p. 69.)

The following maybe quoted as an example of mixed good and evil, with a
certain flavour of unconscious humour:

"Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and
kills at last. If indulged, it masters us; brings suffering to its
possessor throughout time, and beyond the grave. If you have been badly
wronged, forgive and forget: God will recompense this wrong, and punish,
more severely than you could, him who has striven to injure you".
(_Miscellaneous Writings_, p. 12.)

The advice is good, but it is not new. And Mrs Eddy seemed to experience
a special joy in the thought that by leaving our enemies alone they
will receive from God a more effective trouncing than we with our poor
appliances could administer. The ideal Christian would not want his
enemies handed over to the inquisitor--he would beg for them to be let
off. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" That is
the Christian attitude. It is perhaps too high for ordinary mortals to
attain to, but Mrs Eddy made such high claims that we are entitled to
judge her by correspondingly high standards.

The form of service in the various Christian Science churches at first
included a sermon. But Mrs Eddy soon saw that this might introduce
discord: for the preachers might differ in their interpretations of
_Science and Health_. And Mrs Eddy above all things aimed at unity in
order to keep the control in her own hands. Therefore, in 1895, she
forbade preaching altogether. The Bible and _Science and Health, With
Key to the Scriptures_, were to be read from, but no explanatory
comments were to be made. The services comprise Sunday morning and
evening readings from these two books, with music; the Wednesday evening
experience meeting; and the communion service, once or twice a year
only. There is no baptismal, marriage, or burial service, and weddings
and funerals are never conducted in Christian Science churches.

As to church government, there was a nominal board of directors, but Mrs
Eddy had supreme power. She could appoint or dismiss at will. The Church
was hers, body and soul. Probably no other religious leader ever had
such an unqualified sway. The Holy Father at Rome is a mere figurehead
in comparison with the late Reverend Mother.

In June, 1907, there were in all 710 branch churches. Of these,
twenty-five were in Canada, fourteen in Britain, two in Ireland, four in
Australia, one in South Africa, eight in Mexico, two in Germany, one in
Holland, one in France, and the remainder in the States. There were also
295 societies not yet incorporated into churches. The total membership
of the 710 churches was probably about 50,000. (In _Pulpit and Press_,
p. 82, Mrs Eddy puts the number at 100,000 to 200,000; and this was in
1895. Some claim that the total number of adherents is as high as a
million. But these are probably exaggerated estimates.) About one-tenth
of these make their living by their faith. Here we come to the secret of
Christian Science success.

There are about 400 authorised Christian Science "healers", and many
who practise without diploma but not without pay. These people treat
sick folks, receiving fees. Their method is to assure the patient
that he is under a delusion in thinking himself ill, that matter
is an illusion, that God is All, etc. It sounds very absurd. But the
curious thing is that many people have been cured by this treatment,
and--naturally--these people become ardent Christian Scientists. It is
by the practical application that Christian Science as a religion lives
and thrives. As to the kind of diseases cured, the most extravagant
claims are made. In _Miscellaneous Writings_, p. 41, Mrs Eddy
definitely states that "all classes of disease" can be healed by her
method. After careful sifting of much evidence, however, Dr Myers and
his brother (F. W. H. Myers) found that no proof was forthcoming for
the cure of definite organic disease by Christian Science methods.
(_Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol. IX, p. 160;
also _Journal_, vol. VIII, p. 247.) Undoubtedly they have been, and are
continually, efficient in relieving, and even curing, many functional
disorders which have resisted ordinary medical treatment--and it must
be remembered that many functional derangements are as serious,
subjectively, as grave organic disease--and consequently it is
undeniable that Christian Science often does good. But it is probable
that the same amount of good, and perhaps more, could be done by the
hypnotic or suggestive treatment of a qualified medical man, or perhaps
by other forms of "faith-healing". The Christian Scientist is using
suggestion; but he couples it up with religion, and thus, perhaps--with
some people--succeeds in driving the suggestion home with greater
force. It is noteworthy that similar attempts are now being made in
other directions--witness the Emmanuel movement in New York, the
Faithists and various "psycho-therapeutic" societies in England, and
the tendency in some quarters (Bishop of London) to return to anointing
and laying on of hands by clergymen.

Psychologically, Mrs Eddy is at least classified, if not entirely
explained, by one word--monoideism. She was a person of one idea. These
people, for whom we usually have the simpler term of "crank", are common
enough. I have no personal acquaintance with the circle-squaring and
perpetual-motion cranks mentioned by De Morgan (_The Budget of
Paradoxes_), but I know a "flat-earth" crank, and am well acquainted
with a "British-Israelite" crank, who seems to derive unspeakable
joy--tempered only by his failure to convert me--from the thought that
we Britishers are veritably the descendants of one or more of the Lost
Tribes. All these people are conscious of a mission. They have had a
revelation, and are anxious to impart it. Their efforts may not be due
to the "last infirmity of noble mind", still less to a lower motive.
They may just be built that way. The majority of them, like my
Lost-Tribes friend, get no hearing because of the inflexible pragmatism
of a stiffnecked and utilitarian generation. "What difference does it
make whether we are the Tribes or not?" asks the man in the street. And
he passes on with a shrug or a grin, according to temperament. This
terrible pragmatic test makes short work of many amiable cranks. And it
is just here that Christian Science scores its point; for it cures
physical disease, thereby becoming intensely practical. Health is the
chief "good" of life. Anything that will restore it to an ailing body
commands immediate and universal respect. Christian Science therefore
appeals, on its practical side, to the deepest thing in us--to the
primal instinct of self-preservation. Hence its success.

It is possible to blame Mrs Eddy unjustly for her love of power as such.
She was not unique in this respect. The difference is that Mrs Eddy
succeeded while the others have not, and are consequently not heard of.
My Lost-Tribes friend would be as autocratic as anybody if he had the
chance; but his motive would not be greed of power, but rather the
overmastering desire to push his cause, to proselytise, to promulgate
his one idea, almost by force, if such a thing were possible. Most of
us know a few fanatics of this kind. The objects of their devotion are
varied--one is mad north-north-west, another south-south-east--but
all suffer from a lack of balance, a lack of proper distribution of
interest. Of course, we may cheerfully admit that we are all more or
less specialists in our several departments, and that the line between
sanity and insanity is rather arbitrary. We all seem more or less mad to
those who do not agree with us.

The good and true part of Christian Science is its demonstration of the
influence of mind on body, and of the usefulness of inducing mental
states of an optimistic character. It may, of course, be said that we
need no Mrs Eddy to tell us this. True, we don't. The great seers and
poets have always taught optimism, and the influence of mind on body was
medically recognised--more or less--long before even Quimby's time. But
we must remember that different minds need different treatment--need
their nutriment and stimulant in different forms, to suit the various
mental digestions and receptive powers. Consequently, though we may
prefer Browning for optimism and the doctors for hypnotic therapeutics,
we need not complain if others prefer Mrs Eddy and her disciples.
If they get good from their way of putting things, and if that good
manifests itself in their character and life--in their total reaction on
the world--by all means let them continue to walk in their chosen way.
It would be wrong to try to turn them. The system "works"; therefore it
is true for them. The tree is known by its fruits. And the fruits of
Christian Science are undoubtedly often good. In this complex world
nothing is unmixedly good, and harm is no doubt done occasionally. But,
on the whole, it seems probable that Mrs Eddy, with all her hysteria and
morbidities and rancours and queerness, has been a power for good in
the world. Her writings meet a want which some people feel, or, rather,
provide them with a useful impulse in the direction of physical and
spiritual regeneration. If you can make a sick person stop brooding over
his ailments and worrying over things in general, you have achieved
something which enormously increases his chance of recovery; and if you
can make him turn all his thoughts and energies in the direction of
recovery, and all his emotional powers in the direction of love and
goodwill to his fellow-men and towards God, there is no limit to the
powers which may be put in operation. In spite of all our achievements
in science--and they have been great--we are only, as Newton said,
picking up pebbles on the sea-shore. Nature is boundless; we can fix no
limits to her powers. And we know so little, really, about disease, that
I am not at all prepared to deny the Christian Science claims, even
with regard to organic disease. The distinction between organic and
functional is in our own inabilities, not in the nature of the case;
we call a disease "organic" when we find definite tissue-change, and
"functional" when we do not; but in the latter case there must be some
organic basis, though too small perhaps to be discoverable--say a lesion
in a tiny nerve. Consequently I regard the question of Christian Science
cures as entirely one of evidence. I keep an open mind. If I come across
enough evidence, I will believe that it can cure tuberculosis of the
lungs and other diseases, as claimed, whether I can understand how it
does it or not. At present, like Dr Myers, I am not convinced; but I
have seen enough of Christian Science results among my own friends to
prevent me from denying anything. I merely suspend judgment. But I do
believe that the power of the mind over the body is so great that almost
anything is possible; and I think that the medical advance of the next
half-century will be chiefly in this hitherto neglected direction.
I happen to know that this, or something very near this, was the
strongly-held opinion of the late Professor William James of Harvard,
who, in addition to being the most brilliant psychologist of his
generation, was also a qualified doctor of medicine.


Great results often flow from small causes. Pascal said that if
Cleopatra's nose had been shorter the history of the world would have
been different. Similarly it may be truly said that if a peasant girl of
Domrémy had not had hallucinations, France would now have been a British
province. And it is curious to reflect that the Church which burnt her
as a heretic and sorcerer has her, and her only, to thank for such
hold as it still maintains on France, for the latter would have become
Protestant if England had won. The Roman church now recognises this, and
has beatified the Maid. The next step will be her canonisation as a
saint. Thus does the whirligig of Time bring its revenges.

Jeanne d'Arc was born in the village of Domrémy near Vaucouleurs, on the
border of Champagne and Lorraine, on January 6th, 1412. She was taught
to spin and to sew, but not to read or write, these accomplishments
being beyond what was necessary for people in her station of life. Her
parents were devout, and she was brought up piously. Her nature was
gentle, modest, and religious, but with no physical weakness or morbid
abnormality--on the contrary, she was exceptionally strong, as her later
history proves.

At or about the age of thirteen, Jeanne began to experience what
psychology now calls "auditory hallucinations". That is, she heard
voices--usually accompanied by a bright light--when no visible person
was present. This, of course, is a common symptom of impending mental
disorder; but no insanity developed in Jeanne d'Arc. Startled she
naturally was at first, but continuation led to familiarity and trust.
The voices gave good counsel of a commonplace kind, as, for instance,
that she "must be a good girl and go regularly to church." Soon,
however, she began to have visions: saw St Michael, St Catherine, and St
Margaret; was given instructions as to her mission; eventually made her
way to the Dauphin; put herself at the head of 6,000 men, and advanced
to the relief of Orleans, which was besieged by the conquering English.
After a fortnight of hard fighting the siege was raised, and the enemy
driven off. The tide of war had turned, and in three months the Dauphin
was crowned King at Rheims, as Charles the Seventh.

At this point Jeanne felt that her mission was accomplished. But her
wish to return to her family was over-ruled by king and archbishop, and
she took part in the further fighting against the allied English and
Burgundian forces, showing great bravery and tactical skill. But in
November, 1430, in a desperate sally from Compiegne--which was besieged
by the Duke of Burgundy--she fell into the enemy's hands, was sold to
the English, and thrown into a dungeon at their headquarters in Rouen.

After a year's imprisonment she was brought to trial--a mock trial
before the Bishop of Beauvais, in an ecclesiastical court. Learned
doctors of the church did their best to entangle the simple girl in
their dialectical toils; but she showed a remarkable power of keeping to
her simple affirmations and of avoiding heretical statements. "God has
always been my Lord in all that I have done". But the trial was only
pretence, for her fate was already decided. She was burnt to death,
amid the jeers and execration of a rabble of brutal soldiery, in a Rouen
market-place on May 30th, 1431.

The life of the Maid supplies a problem which orthodox science cannot
solve. She was a simple peasant girl, with no ambitions hankering after
a career. She rebelled pathetically against her mission. "I had far
rather rest and spin by my mother's side, for this is no work of my
choosing, but I must go and do it, for my Lord wills it." She cannot be
dismissed on the "simple idiot" theory of Voltaire, for her genius in
war and her aptitude in repartee undoubtedly prove exceptional mental
powers, unschooled though she was in what we call education. We cannot
call her a mere hysteric, for her health and strength were superb. A man
of science once said to an Abbé: "Come to the Salpêtrière Hospital, and
I will show you twenty Jeannes d'Arc." To which the Abbé responded: "Has
one of them given us back Alsace and Lorraine?"

There is the crux, as Andrew Lang quietly remarked.

The retort was certainly neat. Still, though the Salpêtrière hysterics
have not won back Alsace and Lorraine, it is nevertheless true that a
great movement may be started, or kept going when started, by fraud,
hallucination, and credulity. The Mormons, for example, are a strong
body, but the origins of their faith will not bear much criticism. _The
Book of Mormon_, handed down from heaven by an angel, is more than we
can swallow. No one saw its "metal leaves"--from which Joseph Smith
translated--except Joseph himself. We have our own opinion about
Joseph's truthfulness. Somewhat similarly with spiritualism. The great
movement is there, based partly on fact as I believe, but supported by
some fraud and much ignorance and credulity. May it not have been
somewhat thus with Jeanne? She delivered France, and her importance in
history is great; but may not her mission and her doings have been the
outcome of merely subjective hallucinations, induced by the brooding of
her specially religious and patriotic mind on the woes of her country?
The army, being ignorant and superstitious, would readily believe in the
supernatural character of her mission, and great energy and valour would
follow as a matter of course--for a man fights well when he believes
that Providence is on his side.

That is the usual kind of theory in explanation of the facts. But it is
not fully satisfactory. How came it--one may ask--that this untutored
peasant girl could persuade not only the rude soldiery, but also the
Dauphin and the court, of her Divine appointment? How came she to be
given the command of an army? Surely a post of such responsibility and
power would not be given to a peasant girl of eighteen, on the mere
strength of her own claim to inspiration. It seems, at least, very

Now it seems (though the materialistic school of historians conveniently
ignore or belittle it) that there is strong evidence in support of the
idea that Jeanne gave the Dauphin some proof of the possession of
supernormal faculties. In fact, the evidence is so strong that Mr Lang
called it "unimpeachable"--and Mr Lang did not usually err on the side
of credulity in these matters. Among other curious things, Jeanne seems
to have repeated to Charles the words of a prayer which he had made
mentally, and she also made some kind of clairvoyant discovery of a
sword hidden behind the altar of Fierbois church. Schiller's magnificent
dramatic poem "_Die Jungfrau von Orleans_," though unhistorical in some
details, is substantially accurate on these points concerning
clairvoyance and mind-reading.

As to the voices and visions, a Protestant will have a certain prejudice
with regard to the St Michael, St Catherine, and St Margaret stories,
though he may very possibly be wrong in his disbelief. But, waiving
that, it may be true that some genuine inspiration was truly given to
the Maid from the deeper strata of her own soul, and that these
monitions externalised themselves in the forms in which her thought
habitually ran. If she had been a Greek of two thousand years earlier,
her visions would probably have taken the form of Apollo and Pallas
Athene; yet they might equally well have contained truth and good
counsel, as did the utterances of the Oracles.

And, speaking of the Greeks, we may remember that the wisest of that
race had similar experiences. Socrates--the pre-eminent type of sanity
and mental burliness--was counselled by his "daimon"; by a warning Voice
which, truly, did not give positive advice like Jeanne's, but which
intervened to stop him when about to make some wrong decision. Again--to
jump suddenly down to modern times--Charles Dickens says in his letters
that the characters of his novels took on a kind of independent
existence, and that Mrs Gamp, his greatest creation, spoke to him
(generally in church) as with an actual voice. In fact, all cases of
creative genius, whether in literature, art, or invention, are examples
of an uprush from unknown mental depths: the process is not the same as
the intellectual process of reasoning. In these cases, as for instance
with Socrates, Jeanne d'Arc, Dickens, the deeper strata of the mind
may be supposed to send up thoughts so vigorously that they become
externalised as hallucinations; not necessarily morbid or injurious,
though of course many hallucinations are undoubtedly both. The
inspiration rises from below the conscious threshold. It is as if
"given"; and the normal conscious mind looks on in passive astonishment.
_Alles ist als wie geschenkt_, says Goethe--and he knew, if anybody did.
A similar thing happens, on a more ordinary plane, when a problem that
has baffled the working mind is solved in sleep. In short, the normal
consciousness is not all there is of us; there are levels and powers
below the threshold. And it seems likely that the new psychology is on
the track of a better explanation of Socrates and Jeanne d'Arc, as well
as of the nature of genius in general, than has yet been excogitated by
the philosophers. Certainly these things supply interesting material for
study, and many curious discoveries are now being made in this field of


Some of the ancients thought the earth was an animal. It has its hard
and soft parts, its bone and flesh--rock and soil--as the Norse
cosmology pictured it; also its blood, of seas, rivers, and the like.
To a coast-dwelling people, the rhythmic inflow and outflow of the
tides would suggest a huge slow blood-pulsation, or a breathing. And
heat increases with depth, in mine or cave; fire spouts from Etna and
Vesuvius; evidently the earth is hotter inside than at the surface, as
animals are hotter inside than on their skins. Some such animal-notion
was held by Plato, and by some of the later Stoics; though it does not
seem to have been worked out in detail. And the Greek, Indian, or
Egyptian theology which made the earth a goddess and the bride of
Heaven or the sun, is still more indefinite, or is crudely
anthropomorphic and primitive.

Modern approximations have been chiefly in poetry, and are pan-psychic
rather than animistic; as in Pope's _Essay on Man_:

    All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
    Whose body Nature is, and God the soul,

and in Wordsworth's _Tintern Abbey_ where the presence which disturbs
him with the joy of elevated thoughts is felt to be the Spirit which has
its dwelling in the light of setting suns and the round ocean and the
living air:

    A motion and a spirit that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
    A lover of the meadows and the woods,
    And mountains; and all that we behold
    From this green earth; of all the mighty world
    Of eye, and ear.

Emerson expresses the same thought in _Pan_ and in much of his
prose--_Nature_, _The Over Soul_, _Self-Reliance_. William James, in
early days before his pluralistic development, thought that an _anima
mundi_ thinking in all of us was a more likely hypothesis than that of
"a lot of individual souls"; and Leibnitz, among other metaphysical
great ones, Spinozistically speaks of "un seul esprit qui est universel
et qui anime tout l'univers". Finally, to quote a modern of the moderns,
we find Mr H. G. Wells finely saying that "between you and me as we set
our minds together, and between us and the rest of mankind, there is
_something_, something real, something that rises through us and is
neither you nor me, that comprehends us, that is thinking here and using
me and you to play against each other in that thinking just as my finger
and thumb play against each other as I hold this pen with which I
write". (_First and Last Things_, p. 67.)

But these various poets and thinkers, while suggesting a soul-side
of the material universe, have not ventured to attribute spirits to
specific lumps of matter such as the planets. Science has banished those
celestial genii. Kepler and Newton substituted for them the "bald and
barren doctrine of gravitation", to the disgust of the theologically
orthodox. It is possible, however, that science did not banish these
planetary spirits, but only prevented us from seeing them, by turning
our eyes in another direction, towards the laws according to which the
material universe works; as if we should become so absorbed in the
chemistry and physics of blood oxidation, digestion, cerebral change,
and the like, as to forget that the human body has a consciousness
associated with it. It may be that we are too materialistic in our
astronomy. Perhaps Lorenzo was right, even about the music of the
spheres; and that our deafness, not their silence, is the reason why
we do not hear it.

The nineteenth century produced a thinker who revived the animistic
idea in an improved form. He elaborated it into a system of philosophy,
welding into it the discoveries of science, and leaving room for any
further advance in that direction. At the same time he showed that his
system was essentially religious, and indeed quite consistent with
Christianity in its best interpretations. But his writings fell almost
dead from the press, for he was before his time. The scientific men were
materialists, and sneered at a system which recognised a spiritual
world; while the orthodox Christians were scared by its evolutionary
method and its acceptance of Darwinism when the latter arrived--for the
philosophy preceded it--and also by the novelty of some of its ideas.

Gustav Theodor Fechner was born on April 19, 1801, at Gross-Särchen in
what is now Silesia, then under the Elector of Saxony. He studied at
Leipzig, and was appointed professor of Physics at the University there,
in 1834. He conducted several scientific journals, wrote text-books,
translated Biot's _Physics_ (4 vols.) Thénard's _Chemistry_ (6 vols.)
and a work on cerebral pathology; also edited an eight-volume
_Encyclopædia_ of which he wrote about a third himself, lectured, and
made researches in electro-magnetism which injured his eyesight. His
chief scientific work, _Elements of Psycho-Physics_, was published in
1859, additions being made in 1877 and 1882. "Fechner's Law", the
fundamental law of psychophysics (that sensation varies in the ratio
of the logarithm of impression) is now an internationally current term.
Men like Paulsen and Wundt do not hesitate to call Fechner master. His
chief philosophical work is _Zend-Avesta_ (3 vols.) published in 1851,
and rearranged and condensed in _Die Tagesansicht gegenüber der
Nachtansicht_ (1879); but he published also many subsidiary volumes.
Only one of his works has appeared in English--the small volume on
_Life After Death_--and even this had to be brought out by an American
publisher! Yet Fechner is, as Professor William James said, "a
philosopher in the great sense ... little known as yet to English
readers, but destined, I am persuaded, to wield more and more influence
as time goes on". (_A Pluralistic Universe_, pp. 135, 149.) The prophecy
is already beginning to come true.

Fechner always begins with the known and indisputable, arguing thence
to the unknown. His method is thus analogical and scientific. It is the
only method that a scientific generation will tolerate. Its results may
be disputed, but so can the results of science. Even mathematics gives
us no certainties, for something must always be taken for granted. In
philosophising by analogy, we do at least keep in close touch with
experience; we do not evaporate the world into an "unearthly ballet of
bloodless categories". And if the analogies point mostly one way, with
only weak ones pointing the other, the result may be at least acceptable
as a working hypothesis, even if not "demonstrable".

Man is a living, thinking, feeling being. He is on the surface of a
nearly spherical body, which he calls the earth, out of which his
material part has arisen. The elements of his body are the same as
those in the earth. His carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen are the
carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen of the coal measures, soils,
atmosphere, oceans, of the earth. The calcium carbonate of his bones is
the calcium carbonate of her rocks as seen in cliffs at Flamborough and
Dover. He is bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh. Sometimes he calls
her Mother Earth, and involuntarily speaks the truth in jest. In Siberia
the Tartar word for the earth is "Mamma"--a curious fact. Indeed, the
bond between the earth and her children is much closer than in the case
of a human mother and her child; for we remain, all our lives, actually
_part_ of the planet's mass. If our bodies were suddenly annihilated,
the earth's gravitative attraction would be altered, and the whole solar
system would have to readjust itself to the slight diminution. We belong
to the earth. We are a film of cells on her skin. In Piccadilly and the
Bowery (and Throgmorton and Wall Streets?) we are--alas!--an eczematous

But here it may be objected that man is more than a mere body. Quite
true. Man has experiences of an order different from the material one.
You cannot express joy and sorrow by chemical equations or number
of foot-pounds. Even if there is a material equivalent or necessary
concomitant, of electrical or chemical change in cerebral tissue or
what not, the fact of the non-material experience remains a reality. To
indicate this side of human life, we call it the spiritual side. We say
that man is matter and spirit, body and soul. This is quite justifiable
and right, whether we can define the terms or not. Definition means
explaining a word by means of others that are better known. And as we
cannot get any closer to reality than our own experience, which _is_
reality to us, and as the two words conveniently classify two great
departments of experience, we justifiably say that we are soul and
body. Very well; the body, then, when we die, returns to the earth, from
which indeed it has not been severed, except as being a point at which a
special kind of activity was manifested. What then of the soul? Shall it
not return to the earth-soul, as the body returns to the earth-body?

Man has arisen out of the earth. And can the dead give birth to the
living? Such an idea is self-contradictory. If the Earth has produced
us, it cannot be really a mere dead lump, as nineteenth-century
materialistic science regarded it. It must be alive. The fifteen hundred
millions or so of human beings who live on its surface like microscopic
insects on the body of an elephant, or like epidermis-cells on our
own bodies, constitute in their total weight and size only an almost
infinitesimal proportion of the earth's mass. The earth is 8,000 miles
in diameter; if human beings were so numerous that they could only stand
up, wedged together all over its surface, tropics and poles, land and
water--the latter covers seven-tenths of it--they would only be like a
skin 1/200,000th part of an inch thick, on a globe a yard in diameter.
The total mass of all the living creatures on the earth's surface,
including all animals and all vegetation, is almost inconceivably small,
as compared with the mass of the earth. Is it not a trifle ludicrous to
find some of these little creatures looking down so condescendingly on
the remainder of the planet? Emerson was among the few who have seen the
joke, for in _Hamatreya_ he satirises those who boast of possessing
pieces of the earth:

    Where are these men? Asleep beneath their grounds:
    And strangers, fond as they, their furrows plough.
    Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys
    Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
    Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet
    Clear of the grave.

And the earth sings:

    They called me theirs,
    Who so controlled me;
    Yet every one
    Wished to stay, and is gone,
    How am I theirs,
    If they cannot hold me,
    But I hold them?

A very natural objection to the idea of the earth being full of life
and mind--as my body is full of my life and my mind--is that the
inorganic part of the planet presents no evidence of such. It does
not act as if it were alive and conscious. But this begs the whole
question. If you decide beforehand that all evidence for the existence
of mind must be the sort of phenomena exhibited by the things we call
living, the business is settled, and it is clear that the inorganic
kingdom is without consciousness. There is then no sign of mind
anywhere except in that infinitesimally thin and indeed discontinuous
skin which is made up of living individuals on the earth's surface. But
is it not somewhat presumptuous to dogmatise thus? Why should mind
always manifest itself in the same way? Non-living matter does not show
vital activities, but it does show other activities, quite systematic
and non-chaotic and comprehensible ones. How could "dead" matter have
any activity at all? Even Haeckel postulates a sort of mind in the
atom, and we have heard of "mind-stuff" before, from an equally
determined materialist. Indeed, how can we rationalise the behaviour
of phosphorus in oxygen but by saying that the two elements like each
other so well that they rush to combine whenever possible? If carbon
has great "affinity," showing a tendency to combine with many atoms of
other elements in various complicated ways--at least as regards its
favourite types--it is reasonable to regard it as a much-loving
element--the polygamous Solomon of the elements. If fluorine will
have nothing to do with other substances--except under protest, when
persuaded by Miss Hydrogen, whose gaiety and levity sometimes overcome
its sulkiness, bringing it also into the society of calcium and one or
two other metals--we must say that fluorine is unsociable, morbidly
self-centred, or perhaps mystically disposed, like Thoreau, happy by
his pond, alone. Chemical affinity is the loves of the elements.

Rising to the next grade of complexity above atoms, we find that
molecular movements, visible in the apparently representative Brownian
movements of particles, recall the fidget of a bunch of midges,
and thereby suggest a sort of life. They disobey the second law of
thermodynamics, rising in a lighter liquid, as midges rise in the
tenuous air. Of course no one can deny that in the things we call living
there are phenomena not seen elsewhere, and some of these are quite
probably not understandable at all, in terms of measurement or imagery,
as we can understand the Brownian movements by irregular bombardment of
molecules. We cannot understand the relation between a supposed
brain-change and the corresponding mental fact. The two orders of
being seem disjunctive. Perhaps these things are too close to us to be
understood; perhaps we cannot understand life and consciousness because
we are ourselves alive and conscious--as we cannot lift ourselves by
pulling at our boot tops, and cannot see our own faces because the eyes
that see are _in_ the face that is to be seen. Still the distinction
between life at its lowest and non-life at its highest (crystals?) is
so small that we may yet effect a smooth transition--may somehow see a
continuity which now eludes us. And it seems likely that this will be
effected by an extension of the mind-idea down into the inorganic,
rather than by any explanation of life by physical and chemical

Again, on the larger scale, may not cohesion, as well as chemical
affinity, be a sort of affection; in this case a kind of wide social
friendship--the "adhesive love" of Whitman, which is to supersede
"amative love"--as against the fierce and narrow loves of the elements?
A. C. Benson in _Joyous Gard_ (p. 128) quotes a geologist who says:

  It is not by any means certain that stones do not have a certain
  obscure life of their own; I have sometimes thought that their
  marvellous cohesion may be a sign of life, and that if life were
  withdrawn, a mountain might in a moment become a heap of sliding

Yes, and even in sand-grains there is cohesion of particles, and in
the smallest particles huge numbers of molecules, and again--still
smaller--atoms and electrons. Something elusive yet tremendously potent
is still there, in the sand. It would be rash to call it dead and
mindless. There seems more sense in admitting that there is something
akin to what we know as life and mind in ourselves, permeating the
material universe.

And if--to come back to our own planet--if the earth is a living
organism, there will naturally be distribution of function, as there
is in our own bodies. It would be absurd for the eye to deny life and
perception to ear or skin just because their mode of activity is
different. It is wiser to concede life and mind where-ever there is
action. In the present state of affairs, not only do we get into
difficulties by our rash assumption that there is no mind without
protoplasm (_ohne Phosphor kein Gedanke_, as the old materialist too
boldly said), but we find it impossible to draw the line between living
and non-living. Drops of oil exhibit amoeboid movements, and at the
lower end of life the slime-mass becomes so undifferentiated as to be
very much in a borderland between the two states. Probably non-living
substances gradate into living ones by imperceptible _differentiæ_, as
man would be found to gradate back into an anthropoid ape or something
of the kind if we could see all the stages. Nature does not make jumps.
Where she seems to do so, it is only because we cannot see how she
gets from one place to another distant one. But when we scrutinise the
interspace, we see that there is a path. Nature does not jump. She

It is on this line of thought that the disagreement between the schools
represented by Sir Edward Schäfer and Dr Hans Driesch respectively
may, perhaps, be happily resolved. No doubt each may have to make
concessions. The mechanist must not claim that mind is _only_ an affair
of nitrogenous colloids, for this would be a large assumption built on
a very small foundation; no biologist, however much he knows about
nitrogenous colloids, can in any conceivable sense explain his joy in a
sunset or a symphony by reference to those substances. Physical causes
have physical effects; to say that they cause anything non-physical
(_i.e._ mental) is really talking nonsense. And, on the other hand,
the vitalist must not deny consciousness to non-protoplasmic Nature.
Negations are dangerous. It is extremely risky to say that a Matterhorn
has less spiritual significance--in itself and for the whole, and not
only for us--than a cretin who wanders useless and unbeautiful about its
lower slopes. The activities of the two are different, that is all we
are justified in saying. True, the Matterhorn's are more calculable and
predictable, but that does not prove unconsciousness. Human action also
is predictable to some extent. And the more wise and unified a man
is--the nearer he approximates to ideal perfection--the more accurately
we can predict his response to a given stimulus. We might almost argue,
on these lines, that inorganic matter has a certain superiority; for
it is not capricious. It knows what it wants to do, and does it; or at
least--if this is going too far--it does things, and does them _as if_
it knew very well what it wanted to do. To the same conditions and
stimuli it always responds in the same way, like reflex action in living
beings, and like association in ordinary consciousness. Water always
boils punctually at 100°C., and freezes at 0°C., if the pressure
is 760mm. of mercury. "Canal" always makes me think of Panama and
Mars--though to other people it might suggest Suez, their different
experience having given them other association-couplings. But any one
knowing me well, or knowing any one well, could say almost certainly
what associations "canal" would have--what thought it will evoke. And
the same thing is true, to a less extent, of our actions. If a man hits
Jack Johnson, the latter will probably hit back. Still more certain is
it that no one will hit him unless drunk or insane or in some sort of
very exceptional circumstances. If, on the other hand, somebody hits me,
the outcome is less certain. It will depend to a greater extent on the
result of reflection and judgment--perhaps partly on my estimate of the
other fellow's weight, age, training and science! Yet anyone knowing
me well, and perceiving the main conditions, could predict with fair
approach to accuracy what I should do. Yet I am undoubtedly a conscious
being. Some actions of conscious beings, then, are predictable, if we
know the conditions. Indeed, in the mass, human action is calculable
with precision--witness the various kinds of insurance. Why then
deny consciousness to the Matterhorn, because _all_ its actions are
calculable and predictable? The difference is one of degree, not kind.
And indeed _are_ all its actions predictable? The fact is, they are only
hypothetically so. We say that they would be if we knew enough. But we
might say the same of the actions of a man. The truth is, that if we say
it of either we are arguing dangerously, from our ignorance and not from
our knowledge. It is indeed as risky to say that we could predict the
Matterhorn's actions _in toto_, as to say that we cannot predict the
man's; for we are continually finding that matter does things which we
did not formerly suspect--_e.g._ radio-activity. Clearly, we cannot
predict all the activities of the Matterhorn: many may depend on
undiscovered properties. So it seems that even if some human actions,
such as Newton's discovery of the law of gravitation and Milton's
_Paradise Lost_ and Spencer's Synthetic Philosophy and Raphael's Sistine
Madonna, are strictly unpredictable, it still does not sufficiently
differentiate us from the Matterhorn, which on its part also has its

As to what parts of matter have separate spirits--where the
Snowdon-spirit ends and the Moel Siabod spirit begins, and so on--we
need not trouble much about that. This individualising of parts is
a reasonable supposition, but it is not necessary to press it. Mr
Maurice Hewlett has seen the _genius loci_ of a sunny woodland
landscape translated into human idiom as an opulent Titianesque
beauty (_Lore of Proserpine_), and Manfred sees or feels a spirit of
the Alps; but these are details. The only thing that matters is the
ensoulment of the earth as a whole. No doubt its spirit-part is
divided up somehow, correspondent to its material conformation, as
our spirits are divided from each other. The division, however, is
not a hermetic sealing off. The universe is continuous. Indeed its
parts are inter-penetrative, for every particle influences every
other particle--and a thing cannot act where it is not. Similarly,
human beings are found to have modes of communication other than
those hitherto recognised by orthodox science, and are somehow able
to influence others without regard to distance. We seem to be
connected with each other in the unseen, subliminal, spiritual
region. Our separateness is illusory. So with individualisations of
earth-features. They have individual aspects, both on the physical
and spiritual side; but they are part of the one earth and its one
spirit, as we ourselves are. And that earth-spirit is part of
the universe-spirit or God, as the human spirit is part of the

It is perhaps difficult, at first, to think of the earth as having a
life and consciousness of its own, for we are located at little points,
and do not see it whole, nor do we see from the inside. We are like an
eye which looks at the body of which it forms a part, and finds it
difficult to believe in auditory, tactile, olfactory experience; more
difficult still to conceive of pure thought, emotion, will. If the earth
seems a dead lump, however, think of the human brain. It is a mere lump
of whitish filaments, _seen from outside_. But its inner experience is
the rich and infinitely detailed life of a human being. So also may the
inner experience of the earth be incomparably richer than its outer
appearance indicates to our external senses. Objectively, our brains are
part of the earth: subjectively, _we see in ourselves a part of what the
earth sees in itself_.

In thinking of the earth as an organised being, we must guard against
the error of the ancients who called it an animal. It is not an animal.
It is a Being of a higher character than any animal, for it includes
all animals and all human beings, comprising in its spirit all their
spiritual activities, and having its own activities as well. We are to
it, as our blood-corpuscles are to us; and to think of the earth-spirit
as being like our spirits would be equivalent to a blood-corpuscle
thinking of its containing body as another corpuscle, only bigger.
Whereas the truth is that a man has feelings and cognitions and
purposes, and performs acts, which the corpuscles cannot in the least
comprehend. (Somewhat similarly, a drop cannot have waves, or a small
celestial body an atmosphere; the lower cannot have what the higher has,
nor can it understand it.) The corpuscle may know or believe that its
conscience or intuition is a sort of leakage down to it, of the mind or
will of its greater self (the voice of its God), and that in so far as
it does its duty according to its lights it is assisting the purposes
of that higher Being of which it forms a part; and this faith is its
highest wisdom. So with us. Human duty, done sincerely according to our
lights, is furthering the purposes of the higher Being in whom we live
and move. This faith is our highest wisdom concerning our relation to
the earth-spirit. We see, then, that there is a good deal of sense in
faith and intuition. They are rationally justified. By them we are dimly
in touch with the over-soul on our inner side: not _really_ dimly, for
the connection is close and real, but dimly to our normal consciousness.
The connection _via_ intellect is an external, round-about affair,
necessary and useful, but different. We need to cultivate both. This is
the essence of the philosophy of Bergson. There is more than one way of
receiving truth. Science is apt to overlook the intuitional way.

On this conscience-side or moral aspect, the Fechnerian idea is
particularly fruitful and illuminating. The analogy of our own mind is
once more the key--the mirror wherewith to view the greater landscape,
the village wherefrom to draw inferences about nations. In childhood,
the world is, as James said, a big, blooming, buzzing confusion:
sensations pour in quite unconnected; the baby sees the moon, and
stretches out an arm to grab it, thus learning that it is not grabable.
It is only gradually that the child learns to associate sounds with
sights; to know what sounds indicate its mother's presence or proximity,
and what sounds its father's. Gradually, individual experiences get
linked up and harmonised. Then other disjointednesses arise. Foolish
impulses war against better judgment and parents' advice, and the
youth's mind is "torn", as we say, very aptly describing the feeling.
Growing older and wiser, his mind becomes more unified and consequently
more calm. His powers are marshalled and directed consciously at a
goal or goals. Wayward impulses are reined in. We feel that poise and
strength and wisdom are attained: never perfectly and ideally, but at
least to a considerable degree, as compared with the earlier state.

So with the earth-spirit. Being far greater than the human
subsidiary spirits, it is longer in coming to maturity. Its elements
are still largely at loggerheads with each other. The nations war
against each other, and universal peace seems a long time in coming.
But steadily, steadily works the earth-spirit, and the nations almost
unconsciously--like somnambulists--carry out its will. They are working,
consciously or unconsciously, towards universal at-one-ment. A League of
Nations has arisen, and the Federation of the World is in sight. Union
is the political watch-word. Labour is combining throughout the world.
East is learning from West, and West from East. China sends her
students to Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Harvard, and welcomes Western
methods. India repays our civilising with the poems of Tagore. In trade,
thousands of small businesses are unified in a few great combines,
preparing for some sort of Socialism. Finance spreads its world-wide
network. Science is becoming international. The frontiers are melting;
coalescence, unity, harmony are being achieved. The earth-spirit is
reconciling its warring elements. When it succeeds in the complete
reconciliation; when the era of universal peace and brotherhood shall
dawn; when it reaches its huge equivalent of the ripe, calm, contented
wisdom of human age--ah, then will come a state of things which we can
but dimly prefigure. But it will come. The age of gold is in the future,
not the past. It is our duty and our privilege to hasten the coming of
this millennium. And even this is not the end. We cannot conceive the
things that shall be. Eye hath not seen, or ear heard. Enough for us to
know the tendency, and to trust ourselves to it, actively co-operating.

    Before beginning, and without an end,
    As space eternal, and as surety sure,
    Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good,
    Only its laws endure.

    This is its touch upon the blossomed rose,
    The fashion of its hand shaped lotus-leaves;
    In dark soil and the silence of the seeds
    The robe of Spring it weaves.

    It maketh and unmaketh, mending all;
    What it hath wrought is better than had been;
    Slow grows the splendid pattern that it plans,
    Its wistful hands between.

    This is its work upon the things ye see:
    The unseen things are more; men's hearts and minds,
    The thoughts of peoples and their ways and wills,
    Those, too, the great Law binds.
                          --Sir Edwin Arnold, _Light of Asia_.

Is it asked: "Who is the Law-giver, and to what end is the Law?" The
question is foolish. Parts cannot know wholes, and the whole does not
want parts to be anything but what they obviously are. Each fits into
its place, and can do useful work there. Let it keep to tasks "of a size
with its capacity"--as à Kempis says--and leave the rest. "What doth the
Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk
humbly with thy God?"


There is naturally and rightly a great deal of anxiety in the minds of
most thoughtful people as to the state of religion after the war. The
old order seems to have come down in chaos about our ears, and we are
wondering what shape the new building will take. Even our clergy, or
some of them, are honestly confessing that beliefs can never be just
the same again; to name only two things, they feel that the literal
acceptance of the non-resistance doctrine is no longer unqualifiedly
possible, as many were formerly inclined to maintain; for the aggression
of Germany has made clear the necessity of resisting evil; second,
that the old Protestant doctrine of immediate heaven or hell cannot
satisfactorily be applied to many of the millions of young fellows
who have gone over; some idea of more gradual progress through an
intermediate state seems more reasonable. But will this be sufficient?
Shall we jog on again, after this world-shaking cataclysm, with
such a very microscopical trimming--such an almost imperceptible
sail-reefing--as this? Will not rather the whole theological scheme have
to be remodelled? Can nations which have suffered as the belligerents
have suffered--even those at home, still more the brave lads who have
gone through experiences such as they never dreamed of in their worst
nightmares--can these people, even if they wish, accept the old scheme,
or anything like it?

I am not going to try to answer such a large question directly.
Mr Wells has attempted something of the sort in his book, _God the
Invisible King_, and he prophesies a religious revolution. It may come
as he thinks, but it is perhaps more probable that, in spite of the
most earth-shaking events, a certain continuity of thought will be
maintained. New religions are not manufactured complete while you wait,
like Pallas emerging full-armed from the head of Zeus; or, if they are,
by such brilliant Olympians as Mr Wells, they do not get themselves
accepted. But there probably will be enough of a change to be called a
very considerable thought-revolution, even allowing for some inevitable
continuity; and inasmuch as each expression of opinion counts as a datum
and as a directive agency, I venture to make my prophecy. And I avoid
the negative side, also any argument as to whether or why this or that
particular doctrine will become obsolete; I think it better to let
obsolescent beliefs drop quietly into their limbo, and to concern
ourselves with the living ones that will replace them.

First and most important, the idea of God. We have heard, over and over
again, the pathetic cry: "Why does God permit such things? Surely He
must be either not All-good or not Almighty?" And one hears of men, even
among the clergy, whose minds have been clouded by this difficulty.
Mr Wells solves the problem in the fashion of J. S. Mill and the late
William James, by postulating a finite god, a good being who is doing
his best but who is struggling with a refractory material. To many
people this seems a helpful notion, for it saves God's goodness and
gives a pleasurable sense of being co-workers with Him in His effort to
improve things. But to many of us it is unsatisfactory. Indeed, if one
could say such a thing of the author of _Bealby_ and of the most genial
of modern philosophers, we might say that the finite-god idea seems
impossible to anyone with a sense of humour. Is it not really rather
ridiculous of us to decide so solemnly that God is no doubt a good
fellow but that He is having a tough time of it in fighting Satan, and
that there does not seem to be any certainty of His winning? Perhaps
the idea appeals to adventurous spirits like Wells and James because it
has an air of being a sporting event, and promises excitement; but, I
repeat, is it not a rather ridiculous proposition for us small creatures
to make? "Finite" and "Infinite" are words; I am not sure that they have
any very clear meaning. As to "infinite" in particular, the idea is only
a negative one; we think of something finite, and then say "it is not
that". But even of "finite", can we say that it has any useful clear
meaning? The pen with which I write this may be said to be finite, for
I can give its dimensions, and in many ways can define the limits of
its powers. But inasmuch as every particle in it attracts every other
particle of matter in the universe, the little pen's finiteness or
infinity depends on whether the universe itself is finite or infinite;
and that is a bigger question than our small wits can settle. And if it
is so with a pen, will it not be more so with greater things?

We measure things against the foot-rule of our own selves. We can
imagine something much greater than those selves, both physical and
spiritual. But when it comes to conceiving the whole physical universe
of which we form an insignificant part, I do not feel that we can know
whether it is finite or not. It is too big for our foot-rule. Even when
dealing with the distances of the stars, we realise that the billions of
miles which we can talk about so glibly do not convey much to our minds.
We can think of a distance of a few miles fairly clearly, recalling how
long it takes us to walk so far; but greater distances soon become mere
figures, not representing anything that we can picture. And when we
reach the conception of the whole physical universe, we get quite out of
our depth. We do not know whether it is finite or infinite; we know only
that it is inconceivably greater than we are.

So with the spirit which energises through it. Beginning with what we
know best, we find ourselves acquainted with a world of mental phenomena
bound together in and by what we call our self. Whatever we think of
Hume's argument that a mass of experiences do not involve a soul that
has them, it is reasonable and useful to have a name for the active
thing which perceives and thinks and acts and feels, whether we call it
soul or spirit or mind or self or _x_. It is something which maintains
a sort of identity, in spite of growth and change; and it is marked off
from other selves. John Smith has John Smith's experiences, not William
Jones's. This individual spirit energises through each of our bodies. Of
our own spirit we have a very close knowledge, of other spirits we have
a rather more remote knowledge from inference; we infer their states of
mind from the states of body which we observe, or from the material
effects which they cause in speaking or writing. Passing from the
inferred human spirits (inferred because certain lumps of matter act in
a way similar to that of the lumps which we call our own bodies), we
come to other and larger and very different pieces of matter such as
planets. It may seem at the first glance an absurd idea, but I for one
cannot think of matter as dead, or of a whole planet without any soul
except what is in the human bodies which make up an infinitesimal
portion of its mass. It seems to me that there must be some sort of
mind energising through the planet-mass as my own mind energises
through my body-mass. And, carrying the idea further, we arrive at a
conception of the whole universe as ensouled by a Being who in the
material immanent manifestation is the Logos of the Christian doctrine,
but who also transcends the material part as indeed the Christian
doctrine teaches. This spirit, transcending the physical universe as
well as energising through it, is greater in comparison with our spirits
than the physical universe is in comparison with our bodies. Therefore,
once more, and to a greater degree, we are out of our depth. To throw
words like finite and infinite at such a Being is to make ourselves
ridiculous. It is like a microbe sticking its own adjective-labels--if
it has any--on a man, whom the microbe's vocabulary as a matter of fact
will not apply to. God is too great for our measure. He is high as
heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than Sheol; what canst thou know? The
measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea--yea,
than the whole universe itself.

This conclusion of Zophar the Naamathite, acquiesced in by Job at the
end of the argument, seems to some minds an evaporation of God into an
Absolute without any human attributes. We feel the necessity or at least
the desirability of regarding Him as good, loving, etc., and we shrink
from any de-personalisation. But there is a way out of the difficulty.
God is incomprehensible, as the Creed says; parts cannot comprehend
wholes. But there is something deep in us, call it what you will, which
tells us that our ideals of Good, Truth, and Beauty are divine; are God
in so far as we are able to cognise Him. Good, true, beautiful actions
and thoughts are God manifested through our personal limitations; they
are rainbow colours broken out of the pure white light of God. We do
right to worship them. They are the highest we can comprehend, though we
may reach lame hands of faith to the apprehension of the Unconditioned.
But this is a very great mystery, revealed only to the mystic. And it is
a dangerous path, for by reaching "beyond good and evil" we lose touch
with humanity and with the virtues we can exercise, risking the insanity
to which Nietzsche so logically succumbed. We may dimly apprehend the
Incomprehensible, but we must live and work among comprehensibilities.
That is what we are here for. God is conceived by us--and rightly so
conceived--as Good, Truth, Beauty, though we can see that as He really
is He must transcend them. Mr Wells's distinction between the Finite God
and the Veiled Being is not an ultimate. The two are one, seen as two
because of our limitations. They are the rainbow and its source. The sun
cannot be looked upon directly, but only when dimmed or reflected.

Then as to immortality. The deaths of so many of our best, and the
sorrow thus brought into almost every home, force this question into
prominence. If blank pessimism is to be avoided, many people feel that
they must have some assurance of the continued existence of those who
have made the supreme sacrifice--a sacrifice at the call of duty,
greater probably than any sacrifice ever made by us of the older
generation who have lived in the smooth times of peace. We feel that if
these magnificent young lives have come to nought, have been _wasted_,
there is no rational religious belief possible to us. Accordingly we
inquire about immortality. And, curiously enough, Science, which in the
last generation tended to deny or discredit individual survival of
bodily death, now gives a quite opposite verdict. Psychical research
brings forward scientific evidence for that welcome belief. It seems
too good to be true; but it is true. Public opinion has not yet fully
accepted it--nor is it well that opinion should change too rapidly--for
it was well drenched in materialism during the heyday of physical
science and its astonishing applications in the latter part of
the nineteenth century, but the leaders of thought in almost all
branches--scientific, legal, literary, and what not--are now admitting
that the evidence is at least surprising, and those who have studied it
most are one by one announcing that it is convincing. There are many
questions yet to solve, such as the nature and occupations of the future
life, concerning which there are different views, and the problems may
turn out to be insoluble; but the main problem seems on the way to
be settled. The survival of human personality is a fact. And the
indications, so far as we have got, suggest that the next stage is a
life of opportunity, work, progress, even more than the present one.
There is much to be thankful for in even this only incipient revelation.
It is salvation great and joyous, to those reared amid unacceptable
theories of a blank materialism or the much more dreadful hell-doctrines
of the theologians.

The religion of the coming time, then, seems likely to be mainly based
on these two articles, belief in God in the way indicated, and belief in
survival and progress on the other side. Both beliefs are empirical, and
are thus in harmony with the temper of our time. They begin with the
things which are most real to us, first the fact of conscious experience,
then the external world, and reason upward therefrom, instead of
beginning with metaphysical entities and attributes, and reasoning
down--and failing to establish contact with the material world. Religious
experience there still may be, and this may give rise to quite new and
unexpected forms of belief or worship; but on the whole the tendency of
thought for the last three hundred years has been increasingly empirical,
and the success of the method is likely to ensure its continuance. It may
be true that the ideal world is the more real--probably it is--that out
of thought's interior sphere these phenomenal wonders of the world rose
to upper air, as Emerson says; but for us in the present circumstances
the way back to universe-spiritualisation is _via_ experience (and
mainly sense-presentations) carefully observed and studied. If these
scientific methods, which are open to everybody, can lead to belief
in God and a spiritual world to which we pass at death, it seems
unnecessary to return to the bad old days when sporadic experiences of
this or that ecstatic, or logic-chopping by this or that theologian,
led to beliefs and cults of widely differing character according to the
idiosyncracy of the writer. A method which is open to all and the rules
of which are agreed on will be likely to yield something like unanimity.
The churches may yet form one fold, if they will; in which, with
variations to satisfy different æsthetic or symbolistic needs, all souls
may find the answer to their queries, healing for their sorrow, and
scope for their reverence and love; in a word, salvation.


  Transcriber's Notes

  Punctuation has been corrected without note.

  The following printer's errors have been corrected, on page
  1   "neaking" changed to "sneaking" (tinged with a sneaking sympathy
      for its hero)
  49  "odject" changed to "object" (that the position of the lost
      object could)
  66  "comandingly" changed to "commandingly" (soothingly or
      commandingly filling the patient's mind)
  81  "handing" changed to "handed" (would not want his enemies handed
      over to)
  90  "a" added (brutal soldiery, in a Rouen market-place)
  90  "Salpètriêre" changed to "Salpêtrière" (Come to the Salpêtrière
      Hospital, and I will show you)
  97  "gegenbüer" changed to "gegenüber" (Die Tagesansicht gegenüber
      der Nachtansicht)
  98  "cerebal" changed to "cerebral" (chemical change in cerebral
      tissue or what not)
  100 "discontinous" changed to "discontinuous" (thin and indeed
      discontinuous skin which).

  Otherwise oddities and inconsistencies of the original text have been
  preserved, including the spelling of foreign names.

  The first name of Mesmer was Franz, not Friedrich.

  On page 37 a paragraph starts with point 1. There is no point 2.

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