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Title: Modern Magic
Author: Vere, Maximilian Schele de
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  _Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem
  Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat._




  Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1878, by
  In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

  108 TO 114 WOOSTER STREET, N. Y.


The main purpose of our existence on earth--aside from the sacred and
paramount duty of securing our salvation--is undoubtedly to make
ourselves masters of the tangible world around us, as it stands revealed
to our senses, and as it was expressly made subject to our will by the
Creator. We are, however, at the same time, not left without information
about the existence of certain laws and the occurrence of certain
phenomena, which belong to a world not accessible to us by means of our
ordinary senses, and which yet affect seriously our intercourse with
Nature and our personal welfare. This knowledge we obtain sometimes, by
special favor, as direct revelation, and at other times, for reasons as
yet unknown, at the expense of our health and much suffering. By
whatever means it may reach us, it cannot be rejected; to treat it with
ridicule or to decline examining it, would be as unwise as
unprofitable. The least that we can do is to ascertain the precise
nature of these laws, and, after stripping these phenomena of all that
can be proved to be merely incidental or delusive, to compare them with
each other, and to arrange them carefully according to some standard of
classification. The main interest in such a task lies in the discovery
of the grain of truth which is often found concealed in a mass of
rubbish, and which, when thus brought to light, serves to enlarge our
knowledge and to increase our power. The difficulty lies in the absence
of all scientific investigation, and in the innate tendency of man to
give way, wantonly or unconsciously, to mental as well as to sensual

The aim of this little work is, therefore, limited to the gathering of
such facts and phenomena as may serve to throw light upon the nature of
the magic powers with which man is undoubtedly endowed. Its end will be
attained if it succeeds in showing that he actually does possess powers
which are not subject to the general laws of nature, but more or less
independent of space and time, and which yet make themselves known
partly by appeals to the ordinary senses and partly by peculiar
phenomena, the result of their activity. These higher powers, operating
exclusively through the spirit of man, are part of his nature, which has
much in common with that of the Deity, since he was created by God "in
His own image," and the Lord "breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life and man became a living _soul_." This soul is not, as materialists
maintain, merely the sum of all perceptions obtained by the collective
activity of bodily organs--a conclusion which would finally make it the
product of mere material atoms, subject to constant physical and
chemical changes. Even if it were possible--which we deny--to reduce our
whole inner life, including memory, imagination, and reason, to a system
of purely physical laws, and thus to admit its destruction at the moment
of death, there would still remain the _living soul_, coming directly
from the Most High, and destined to continue throughout eternity. This
soul is, hence, independent of time. Nor is it bound by space, except so
far as it can commune with the outer world only by means of the body,
with which it is united in this life. The nature of this union is a
mystery as yet unfathomed, but precisely because it is such a mystery,
we have no right to assume that it is altogether indissoluble during
life; or, that it ceases entirely at the moment of death. There is, on
the contrary, overwhelming evidence that the soul may, at times, act
independently of the body, and the forces developed on such occasions we
have, for the sake of convenience rather than on account of the special
fitness of the term, preferred to call _magic_ powers.

There is no evidence whatever before us as to the mutual relations of
soul and body after death. Here, necessarily, all must be mere
speculation. Nothing more, therefore, will be claimed for the following
suggestions. When the body becomes unfit to serve any longer as an abode
and an instrument to the soul, the tie which was formed before or at the
moment of birth is gradually loosened. The soul no longer receives
impressions from the outer world such as the body heretofore conveyed to
it, and with this cessation of mutual action ends, also, the community
of sensation. The living soul--in all probability--becomes conscious of
its separation from the dead body and from the world; it continues to
exist, but in loneliness and self-dependence. Its life, however, becomes
only the more active and the more self-conscious as it is no longer
consumed by intercourse with the world, nor disturbed by bodily
disorders and infirmities. The soul recalls with ease all long-forgotten
or much-dimmed sensations. What it feels most deeply at first is, we
may presume, the double grief at being separated from the body, with
which it has so long been closely connected, and at the sins it has
committed during life. This repentance will be naturally all the
heartier, as it is no longer interrupted by sensual impressions. After a
while this grief, like all sorrows, begins to moderate, and the soul
returns to a state of peace: sooner, of course, in the case of persons
who in their earthly life already had secured peace by the only means
revealed to man; later, by those who had given themselves entirely up to
the world and their passions. At the same time the living soul enters
into communion with other souls, retaining, however, its individuality
in sex, character, and temper, and, possibly, proceeds on a course of
gradual purification, till it reaches the desired haven in perfect
reconciliation with God. During this intermediate time there is nothing
known to us which would absolutely forbid the idea that these living
souls continue to maintain some kind of intercourse with the souls of
men on earth, with whom they share all that constitutes their essential
nature, save only the one fact of bondage to the body. Nor is there any
reason why the soul in man should not be able, by its higher powers, to
perceive and to consort with souls detached from mortal bodies, although
this intercourse must needs be limited and imperfect because of the
vast difference between a free soul and one bound to an earthly, sinful
body. For man, when he dies, leaves behind in this world the body, dead
and powerless, a corpse. He continues, however, to live, a soul, with
all the peculiar powers which make up our spiritual organism; that is to
say, the true man, in the higher sense of the word, exists still, though
he dwell in another world. This soul has now no longer earthly organs of
sense to do its bidding, but it still controls nature which was made
subject to its will; it has, moreover, a new set of powers which
represent in the higher world its higher body, and the character of its
new active life will be all the more elevated, as these organs are more
spiritual. Man cannot but continue to develop, to grow, and to ripen, in
the next world as he did in this; his nature and his destiny are alike
incompatible with sudden transitions and with absolute rest. The soul
must become purer and more useful; its organs more subtle and more
powerful, and it is of this life of gradual improvement and purification
that we may occasionally obtain glimpses by that communion which no
doubt still exists between earth-bound souls and souls freed from such

There are, it is well known, many theologians who sternly deny any such
further development of man's spiritual part, and insist upon looking at
this life as the only time of probation accorded to him, at the end of
which immediate and eternal judgment is rendered. Their views are
entitled to the utmost consideration and respect. But different opinions
are entertained by some of their brethren, not less eminent in piety,
profound learning, and critical acumen, and hence at least equally
deserving of being attentively listened to and carefully regarded. So it
is also with the belief in the possibility of holding intercourse with
disembodied spirits. Superficial observers are ready to doubt or to
deny, to sneer haughtily, or to scoff contemptuously. But men of great
eminence have, from time immemorial, treated the question with great
attention and deep interest. Melanchthon wrote: "I have myself seen
ghosts, and know many trustworthy people who affirm that they have not
only seen them, but even carried on conversations with them" (De Anima
Recogn.: Wittemb. 1595, p. 317), and Luther said nearly the same; Calvin
and Knox also expressed similar convictions. A faith which has lasted
through all ages of man's history, and has such supporters, cannot but
have some foundation, and deserves full investigation. Alchemy, with its
visionary hopes, contained, nevertheless, the germ of modern chemistry,
and astrology taught already much that constitutes the astronomy of our
day. The same is, no doubt, the case with Modern Magic, and here, also,
we may safely expect to find that "out of darkness cometh light."


  WITCHCRAFT                 13


  DREAMS                     94

  VISIONS                   116

  GHOSTS                    155

  DIVINATION                270

  POSSESSION                340

  MAGNETISM                 376

  MIRACULOUS CURES          429

  MYSTICISM                 448




    "Witchcraft is an illegitimate miracle; a miracle is legitimate


Perhaps in no direction has the human mind ever shown greater weakness
than in the opinions entertained of witchcraft. If Hecate, the oldest
patroness of witches, wandered about at night with a gruesome following,
and frightened lovers at their stealthy meeting, or lonely wanderers on
open heaths and in dark forests, her appearance was at least in keeping
with the whole system of Greek mythology. Tacitus does not frighten us
by telling us that witches used to meet at salt springs (Ann. xiii. 57),
nor the Edda when speaking of the "bearers of witches' kettles," against
whom even the Salic Law warns all good Christians. But when the Council
of Ancyra, in the fifth century, fulminates its edicts against women
riding at night upon weird animals in company with Diana and Herodias,
the strange combination of names and the dread penalties threatened,
make us almost think of witches as of real and most marvelous beings.
And when wise councillors of French Parliaments and gray dignitaries of
the Holy German Empire sit in judgment over a handful of poor old women,
when great English bishops and zealous New England divines condemn
little children to death, because they have made pacts with the Devil,
attended his sabbaths, and bewitched their peaceful neighbors--then we
stand amazed at the delusions, to which the wisest and best among us are

Christianity, it is true, shed for a time such a bright light over the
earth, that the works of darkness were abhorred and the power of the
Evil One seemed to be broken, according to the sacred promises that the
seed of woman should bruise the serpent's head. Thus Charlemagne, in his
fierce edict issued after the defeat of the Saxons, ordered that death
should be inflicted on all who after pagan manner gave way to devilish
delusions, and believed that men or women could be witches, persecuted
and killed them; or, even went so far as to consume their flesh and give
it to others for like purposes! But almost at the same time the belief
in the Devil, distinctly maintained in Holy Writ, spread far and wide,
and as early as the fourth century diseases were ascribed not to organic
causes, but to demoniac influences, and the Devil was once more seen
bodily walking to and fro on the earth, accompanied by a host of smaller
demons. It was but rarely that a truly enlightened man dared to combat
the universal superstition. Thus Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, shines
like a bright star on the dark sky of the ninth century by his open
denunciation of all belief in possession, in the control of the weather
or the decision of difficulties by ordeal. For like reasons we ought to
revere the memory of John of Salisbury, who in the twelfth century
declared the stories of nightly assemblies of witches, with all their
attending circumstances, to be mere delusions of poor women and simple
men, who fancied they saw bodily what existed only in their imagination.
The Church hesitated, now requiring her children to believe in a Devil
and demons, and now denouncing all faith in supernatural beings. The
thirteenth century, by Leibnitz called the darkest of all, developed the
worship of the Evil One to its fullest perfection; the writings of St.
Augustine were quoted as confirming the fact that demons and men could
and did intermarry, and the Djinns of the East were mentioned as spirits
who "sought the daughters of men for wives." The first trace of a
witches' dance is found in the records of a fearful Auto-da-fè held in
Toulouse in the year 1353, and about a century later the Dominican monk,
Jaquier, published the first complete work on witches and witchcraft. He
represented them as organised--after the prevailing fashion of the
day--in a regular guild, with apprentices, companions, and masters, who
practised a special art for a definite purpose. It is certainly most
remarkable that the same opinion, in all its details, has been
entertained in this century even, and by one of the most famous German
philosophers, Eschenmayer. While the zeal and madness of
devil-worshippers were growing on one side, persecution became more
violent and cruel on the other side, till the trials of witches assumed
gigantic proportions and the proceedings were carried on according to a
regular method. These trials originated, invariably, with theologians,
and although the system was not begun by the Papal government it
obtained soon the Pope's legal sanction by the famous bull of Innocent
VIII., _Summis desiderantes_, dated December 4, 1484, and decreeing the
relentless persecution of all heretical witches. The far-famed _Malleus
maleficatum_ (Cologne, 1489), written by the two celebrated judges of
witches, Sprenger and Gremper, and full of the most extraordinary views
and statements, reduced the whole to a regular method, and obtained a
vast influence over the minds of that age. The rules and forms it
prescribed were not only observed in almost all parts of Christendom,
but actually retained their force and legality till the end of the
seventeenth century. Nor were these views and practices confined to
Catholic countries; a hundred and fifty years after the Reformation, a
great German jurist and a Protestant, Carpzon, published his _Praxis
Criminalis_, in which precisely the same opinions were taught and the
same measures were prescribed. The Puritans, it is well-known, pursued a
similar plan, and the New World has not been more fortunate in avoiding
these errors than the Old World. A curious feature in the
above-mentioned works is the fact that both abound in expressions of
hatred against the female sex, and still more curious, though
disgraceful in the extreme, that the special animosity shown by judges
of witchcraft against women is solely based upon the weight which they
attached to the purport of the Mosaic inhibition: "Thou shalt not suffer
a _witch_ to live" (Exodus xii. 18).

These are dark pages in the history of Christendom, blackened by the
smoke of funeral piles and stained with the blood of countless victims
of cruel superstition. For here the peculiarity was that in the majority
of cases not the humble sufferers whose lives were sacrificed, but the
haughty judges were the true criminals. The madness seems to have been
contagious, for Protestant authorities were as bloodthirsty as
Catholics; the Inquisition waged for generations unceasing war against
this new class of heretics among the nations of the Romanic race.
Germany saw great numbers sacrificed in a short space of time, and in
sober England, even, three thousand lost their lives during the Long
Parliament alone, while, according to Barrington, the whole number who
perished amounted to not less than thirty thousand! If only few were
sacrificed in New England, the exception was due more to the sparse
population than to moderation; in South America, on the contrary, the
persecution was carried on with relentless cruelty. And all this
happened while fierce war was raging almost everywhere, so that, while
the sword destroyed the men, the fire consumed the women! Occasionally
most startling contrasts would be exhibited by different governments. In
the North, James I., claiming to be as wise as Solomon, and more learned
than any man in Christendom, imagined that he was persecuted by the Evil
One on account of his great religious zeal, and saw in every Catholic an
instrument of his adversary. His wild fancy was cunningly encouraged by
those who profited by his tyranny, and Catholics were represented as
being, one and all, given up to the Devil, the mass and witchcraft, the
three unholy allies opposed to the Trinity! In the South, the Republic
of Venice, with all its petty tyranny and proverbial political cruelty,
stood almost alone in all Christendom as opposed to persecutions of
wizards and witches, and fought the battle manfully on the side of
enlightenment and Christian charity. The horrors of witch-trials soon
reached a height which makes us blush for humanity. The accused were
tortured till they confessed their guilt, so that they might lose not
only life upon earth, but also hope for eternity. If, under torture,
they declared themselves innocent, but ready to confess their guilt and
to die, they were told that in such a case they would die with a
falsehood on their lips, and thus forfeit salvation. Some of the
sufferers were found to have a stigma on their bodies, a place where the
nerves had been paralysed, and no pain was consequently felt--this was a
sure sign of their being witches, and they were forthwith burnt; if they
had no such stigma, the judge decided that the Devil marked only his
doubtful adherents, and left his trusty followers unmarked! The terror
became so great that in the seventeenth century repentant "witches
abounded, because it had become customary" merely to hang or to
decapitate those who confessed, while all others were burned alive.
Hundreds suffering of painful diseases or succumbing to unbearable
privations, forthwith fancied themselves bewitched, or actually sought
relief from the ills of this life by voluntarily appearing before the
numerous tribunals for the trial of witchcraft. The minds of men were so
thoroughly blinded, that even when husbands testified the impossibility
of their wives having attended the witches' sabbath, because they had
been lying all night by their side in bed, they were told, and quite
ready to believe, that a phantom had taken the place of their absent
wives! In one of the most famous trials five women confessed, after
suffering unspeakable torture, that they had disinterred an infant, the
child of one of their number, and supped upon it with the Devil; the
father of the child persevered till the grave was opened, and behold,
the child's body was there unharmed! But the judges declared it to be a
phantom sent by the Evil One, since the confession of the criminals was
worth more than mere ocular proof, and the women were burnt accordingly.
(Horst. Demonomagie, i. p. 349.) The most signal proof of the absurdity
of all such charges was obtained in our own country. Here the number of
those who complained of being plagued and injured by demoniac agencies
became larger in precise proportion as trials increased and
condemnations succeeded. But when nineteen of the accused had been
executed, and the judges becoming appalled at the daily growing number
of complaints, set some of the prisoners free, and declined to arrest
others, there was suddenly an end of these grievances, no more accounts
of enchantment and witchcraft were heard, and soon the evil disappeared

It was a similar return to reason which at last led in Europe also to a
reaction. The Doge of Venice and the Great Council appealed to the pope,
Leo X., to put a curb upon the intemperate zeal of his ministers, and he
saw himself forced to check the merciless persecution. Occasionally
voices had been raised, already before that public appeal, condemning
such wholesale slaughter; among these were men like Bacon of Verulam,
Reginald Scotus, and, marvel of marvels, two famous Jesuits, Tanner and
Spee. And yet even these merciful and enlightened men never, for a
moment, doubted the genuineness of witchcraft and its fatal effects.
Father Spee, a most learned man, writing against the ceaseless
persecutions of pretended witches, nevertheless declared, in 1631, in
his renowned _Cautio criminalis_, by far the best work written on that
side of the question, that "there are in the world some few wizards and
enchanters, which could not be denied by any body without frivolity and
great ignorance," and even Bayle, while condemning the cruelty of
witches' trials, seriously proposes to punish witches for their
"ill-will." Vaudé, the well-known librarian of Cardinal Mazarin, wrote
an able work as an apology of all the great men who had been suspected
of witchcraft, including even Clemens V., Sylvester II., and other
popes, and a renowned Capuchin monk, d'Autun, pursued the same subject
with infinite subtlety of thought and great happiness of diction in his
_L'incrédulité savante et la crédulité ignorante_. A witch was, however,
still condemned to be burned in 1698, in Germany; fortunately the judge,
a distinguished jurist of the University of Halle, was remonstrated with
by an esteemed colleague, and thus induced to examine himself as well as
the whole grievous subject with unsparing candor. This led him to see
clearly the error involved in trials of witchcraft, and he wrote, in
1701, a most valuable and influential work against the Crime of Magic.
He succeeded, especially, in destroying the enormous prestige heretofore
enjoyed by Del Rio's great work _Disquisitiones magicæ_, the favorite
hand-book of judges of all lands, which was even adopted, though from
the pen of a Jesuit, by the Protestants of Germany. In no case, however,
were the personal existence of the Devil, and his activity upon earth,
denied by these writers; on the contrary, it is well known that Luther,
Melanchthon, and even Calvin, continued always to speak of Satan as
having a corporeal existence and as being perceptible to human senses.
The negation contended for applied only to his direct agency in the
physical world; his moral influence was ever readily admitted. Sporadic
cases of witchcraft, and their trial by high courts of justice, have
continued to occur down to our day. Maria Theresa was the first
peremptorily to forbid any further persecutions on account of
_Veneficium_, as it had become the fashion to call the acts of magic by
which men or beasts were said to be injured. There are, however, writers
who maintain, in this century, and in our generation, even, the direct
agency of the Devil in daily life, and see in demoniac sufferings the
punishment of the wicked in this life already.

The question of how much truth there may have been in this belief in
witchcraft, held by so many nations, and persevered in during so many
centuries, has never yet been fully answered. It is hardly to be
presumed that during this long period all men, even the wisest and
subtlest, should have been completely blinded or utterly demented. Many
historians as well as philosophers have looked upon witchcraft as a mere
creation of the Inquisition. Rome, they argue, was in great danger, she
had no new dogma to proclaim which would give food to inquiring minds,
and increase the prestige of her power; she was growing unpopular in
many countries heretofore considered most faithful and submissive, and
she was engaged in various dangerous conflicts with the secular powers.
In this embarrassment her Inquisitors looked around for some means of
escape, and thought a remedy might be found in this new combination of
the two traditional crimes of heresy and enchantment. Witchcraft, as a
crime, because of the deeds of violence with which it was almost
invariably associated, belonged before the tribunal of the secular
judge; as a sin it was to be punished by the bishop, but as heresy it
fell, according to the custom of the day, to the share of neither judge
nor bishop, but into the hands of the Inquisition.

The extreme uniformity of witchcraft from the Tagus to the Vistula, and
in New England as in Old England, is adduced as an additional evidence
of its having been "manufactured" by the Inquisition. Nothing is gained,
however, by looking upon it as a mere invention; nor would such an
explanation apply to the wizards and witches who are repeatedly
mentioned and condemned in Holy Writ. Witchcraft was neither purely
artificial, a mere delusion, nor can it be accounted for upon a purely
natural basis. The essential part in it is the magic force, which does
not belong to the natural but to the spiritual part of man. Hence it is
not so very surprising, as many authors have thought it, that thousands
of poor women should have done their best to obtain visions which only
led to imprisonment, torture, and death by fire, while they procured for
them apparently neither comfort nor wealth, but only pain, horror, and
disgrace. For there was mixed up with all this a sensation of pleasure,
vague and wild, though it was in conformity with the rude and coarse
habits of the age. It is the same with the opium eater and hasheesh
smoker, only in a more moderate manner; the delight these pernicious
drugs afford is not seen, but the disease, the suffering, and the
wretched death they produce, are visible enough. The stories of witches'
sabbaths taking place on certain days of the year, arose no doubt from
the fact that the prevailing superstition of the times regarded some
seasons as peculiarly favorable for the ceremony of anointing one's self
with narcotic salves, and this led to a kind of spiritual community on
such nights, which to the poor deluded people appeared as a real meeting
at appointed places. In like manner there was nothing absolutely absurd
or impossible in the idea of a compact with the Devil. Satan presented
himself to the minds of men in those ages as the bodily incarnation of
all that is evil and sinful, and hence when they fancied they made a
league with him, they only aroused the evil principle within themselves
to its fullest energy and activity. It was in fact the selfish, covetous
nature of man, ever in arms against moral laws and the commandments of
God, which in these cases became distinctly visible and presented itself
in the form of a vision. This evil principle, now relieved from all
constraint and able to develop its power against a feebly resisting
soul, would naturally destroy the poor deluded victim, in body and in
spirit. Hence the trials of witchcraft had at least some justification,
however unwise their form and however atrocious their abuses. The
majority of the crimes with which the so-called witches were charged,
were no doubt imaginary; but many of the accused also had taken real
delight in their evil practices and in the grievous injury they had done
to those they hated or envied. Nor must it be forgotten that the age in
which these trials mainly occurred was emphatically an age of
superstition; from the prince on his throne to the clown in his hut,
everybody learnt and practiced some kind of magic; the ablest statesmen
and the subtlest philosophers, the wisest divines and the most learned
physicians, all were more or less adepts of the Black Art, and many
among them became eminently dangerous to their fellow-beings. Others,
ceaselessly meditating and brooding over charms and demoniac influences,
finally came to believe in their own powers of enchantment, and
confessed their guilt, although they had sinned only by volition,
without ever being able really to call forth and command magic powers.
Still others labored under a regular panic and saw witchcraft in the
simplest events as well as in all more unusual phenomena in nature. A
violent tempest, a sudden hailstorm, or an unusual rise in rivers, all
were at once attributed to magic influences, and the authorities urged
and importuned to prevent a recurrence with all its disastrous
consequences by punishing the guilty authors. Has not the same insane
fury been frequently shown in contagious diseases, when the common
people believed their fountains poisoned and their daily bread infected
by Jews or other suspected classes, and promptly took justice into their
own hands? It ought also to be borne in mind, as an apology for the
horrible crimes committed by judges and priests in condemning witches,
that in their eyes the crime was too enormous and the danger too
pressing and universal to admit of delay in investigation, or mercy in
judgment. The severe laws of those semi-barbarous times were immediately
applied and all means considered fair in eliciting the truth. Torture
was by no means limited to trials of witches, for some of the greatest
statesmen and the most exalted divines had alike to endure its terrors.
Moreover no age has been entirely free from similar delusions, although
the form under which they appear and the power by which they may be
supported, differ naturally according to the spirit of the times.
Science alone cannot protect us against fanaticism, if the heart is once
led astray, and fearful crimes have been committed not only in the name
of Liberty but even under the sanction of the Cross. Basil the Great
already restored a slave _ad integrum_, who said he had made a pact with
the Devil, but the first authentic account of such a transaction occurs
in connection with an Imperial officer, Theophilus of Adana, in the days
of Justinian. His bishop had undeservedly humiliated him and thus
aroused in the heart of the naturally meek man intense wrath and a
boundless desire of revenge. While he was in this state of
uncontrollable excitement, a Jew appeared and offered to procure for him
all he wanted, if he would pledge his soul to Satan. The unhappy man
consented, and was at once led to the circus where he saw a great number
of torch-bearers in white robes, the costume of servants of the church,
and Satan seated in the midst of the assembly. He obeyed the order to
renounce Christ and certified his apostacy in a written document. The
next day already the bishop repented of his injustice and restored
Theophilus in his office, whereupon the Jew pointed out to him how
promptly his master had come to his assistance. Still, repentance comes
to Theophilus also, and in a new revelation the Virgin appears to the
despairing man after incessant prayer of forty days and nights--a fit
preparation for such a vision. She directs him to perform certain
atoning ceremonies and promises him restoration to his Christian
privileges, which he finally obtains by finding the certificate of his
apostasy lying on his breast, and then dies in a state of happy relief.
After that similar cases of a league being made with Satan occur quite
frequently in the history of saints and eminent men, till the belief in
its efficacy gradually died out and recent efforts like those recorded
by Goerres (III. p. 620) have proved utterly fruitless.

Among the magic phenomena connected with witchcraft, none is more
curious than the so-called witches' sabbath, the formal meeting of all
who are in league with Satan, for the purpose of swearing allegiance to
him, to enjoy unholy delights, and to introduce neophytes. That no such
meeting ever really took place, need hardly be stated. The so-called
sabbaths were somnambulistic visions, appearing to poor deluded
creatures while in a state of trance, which they had produced by
narcotic ointments, vile decoctions, or even mere mental effort. For the
most skillful among the witches could cause themselves to fall into the
Witches' Sleep, as they called this trance, whenever they chose; others
had to submit to tedious and often abominable ceremonies. The knowledge
of simples, which was then very general, was of great service to cunning
impostors; thus it was well known that certain herbs, like aconite,
produce in sleep the sensation of flying, and they were, of course,
diligently employed. Hyosciamus and taxus, hypericum and asafoetida were
great favorites, and physicians made experiments with these salves to
try their effect upon the system. Laguna, for instance, physician to
Pope Julius III., once applied an ointment which he had obtained from a
wizard, to a woman, who thereupon fell into a sleep of thirty-six hours'
duration, and upon being aroused, bitterly complained of his cruelty in
tearing her from the embraces of her husband. The Marquis d'Agent tells
us in his _Lettres Juifs_ (i. l. 20), that the celebrated Gassendi
discovered a drug which a shepherd used to take whenever he wished to go
to a witches' assembly. He won the man's confidence, and, pretending to
join him in his journey, persuaded him to swallow the medicine in his
presence. After a few minutes, the shepherd began to stagger like an
intoxicated person, and then fell into profound sleep, during which he
talked wildly. When he roused himself again many hours afterwards, he
congratulated the physician on the good reception he had met at Satan's
court, and recalled with delight the pleasant things they had jointly
seen and enjoyed! The symptoms of the witches' sleep differ, however;
while the latter is, in some cases, deep and unbroken, in other cases
the sleepers become rigid and icy cold, or they are subject to violent
spasms and utter unnatural sounds in abundance. The sleep differs,
moreover, from that of possessed people in the consciousness of bodily
pain which bewitched people retain, while the possessed become
insensible. Invariably the impression is produced that they meet kindred
spirits at some great assembly, but the manner of reaching it differs
greatly. Some go on foot; but as Abaris already rode on a spear given to
him by Apollo (Iamblichus De Vita, Pyth. c. 18), others ride on goats.
In Germany a broomstick, a club, or a distaff, became suitable vehicles,
provided they had been properly anointed. In Scotland and Sweden the
chimney is the favorite road, in other countries no such preference is
shown over doors and windows. The expedition, however joyous it may be,
is always very fatiguing, and when the revellers awake they feel like
people who have been dissipated. The meetings differ in locality
according to size: whole provinces assemble on high, isolated mountains,
among which the Brocken, in the Hartz Mountains, is by far the most
renowned; smaller companies meet near gloomy churches or under dark
trees with wide-spreading branches.

In the north of Europe the favorite resort is the Blue Mountain,
popularly known as Blokulla, in Sweden, and as Blakalla in Norway, an
isolated rock in the sea between Smoland and Oland, which seems to have
had some association in the minds of the people with the ancient
sea-goddess Blakylle. In Italy the witches loved to assemble under the
famous walnut tree near Benevent, which was already to the Longobards an
object of superstitious veneration, since here, in ancient times, the
old divinities were worshipped, and afterwards the _strighe_ were fond
of meeting. In France they had a favorite resort on the Puy de Dôme,
near Clermont, and in Spain on the sands near Seville, where the
_hechizeras_ held their sabbaths. The Hekla, of Iceland, also passes
with the Scandinavians for a great meeting-place of witches, although,
strangely enough, the inhabitants of the island have no such tradition.
It is, however, clear that in all countries where witchcraft prospered,
the favorite places of meeting were always the same as those to which,
in ancient times, the heathens had made pilgrimages in large numbers, in
order to perform their sacrifices, and to enjoy their merry-makings.

In precisely the same manner the favorite seasons for these ghastly
meetings correspond almost invariably with the times of high festivals
held in heathen days, and hence, they were generally adopted by the
early Christians, with the feast and saints' days of Christendom. Thus
the old Germans observed, when they were still pagans, the first of May
for two reasons: as a day of solemn judgment, and as a season for
rejoicing, during which prince and peasant joined in celebrating the
return of summer with merry songs and gay dances around the May-pole.
The witches were nothing loth to adopt the day for their own festivities
also, and added it to the holidays of St. John the Baptist and St.
Bartholomew, on which, in like manner, anciently the holding of public
courts had brought together large assemblies. The meetings, however,
must always fall upon a Thursday, from a determined, though yet
unexplained association of witchcraft with the old German god of
thunder, Donar, who was worshipped on the Blocksberg, and to whom a goat
was sacrificed--whence also the peculiar fondness of witches for that
animal. The hours of meeting are invariably from eleven o'clock at night
to one or two in the morning.

The assembly consists, according to circumstances, of a few hundred or
of several thousands, but the female sex always largely prevails. For
this fact the famous text-book of judges of witchcraft, the _Malleus_,
assigned not less than four weighty reasons. Women, it said, are more
apt to be addicted to the fearful crime than men because, in the first
place, they are more credulous; secondly, in their natural weakness they
are more susceptible; thirdly, they are more imprudent and rash, and
hence always ready to consult the Devil, and fourthly and mainly,
_femina_ comes from _fe_, faith and _minus_, less, hence they have less

The guests appear generally in their natural form, but at times they are
represented as assuming the shape of various animals; the Devil's
followers having a decided preference for goats and for monkeys,
although the latter is a passion of more recent date. The crowd is
naturally in a state of incessant flowing and ebbing; the constant
coming and going, crowding and pressing admits of not a moment's quiet
and even here it is proven that the wicked have neither rest nor peace.

Among this crowd flocks are seen, consisting of toads and watched over
by boys and girls; in the centre sits Satan on a stone, draped in weird
majesty, with terrible but indistinct features, and uttering short
commands with an appalling voice of unnatural and unheard of music. A
queen in great splendor may sit by his side, promoted to the throne from
a place among the guests. Countless demons, attending to all kinds of
extraordinary duties, surround their master; or, dash through the crowd
scattering indecent words and gestures in all directions. English
witches meet, also, innumerable kittens on the Sabbath and show the
scars of wounds inflicted by the malicious animals. Every visitor must
pay his homage to the lord of the feast, which is done in an
unmentionable manner; and yet they receive nothing in return--according
to their unanimous confessions--except unfulfilled promises and delusive
presents. Even the dishes on the table are but shams; there is neither
salt nor bread to be found there. They are bound, besides, to pledge
themselves to the performance of a certain number of wicked works, which
are distributed over the week, so that the first days are devoted to
ordinary sins and the last to crimes of special horror. Music of
surpassing weirdness is heard on all sides, and countless couples whirl
about in restless, obscene dances; the couples joining back to back and
trying in vain to see each other's faces. Very often young children are
brought up by their mothers to be presented to the Master; when this is
done, they are set to attend the flocks of toads till the ninth year,
when they are called up by the Queen to abjure their Christian faith and
are regularly enrolled among witches.

The descriptions of minor details vary, of course according to the
individual dispositions of the accused, whose confessions are invariably
uniform as to the facts stated heretofore. The coarser minds naturally
see nothing but the grossest indecency and the vilest indulgences, while
to more refined minds the apparent occurrences appear in a light of
greater delicacy; they hear sweet music and witness nothing but gentle
affection and brotherly love. But in all cases these witches' sabbaths
become a passion with the poor deluded creatures; they enjoy there a
paradise of delight,--whether they really indulge in sensual pleasure or
surrender mind and will so completely to the unhallowed power that they
cease to wish for anything else, and are plunged in vague, unspeakable
pleasure. And yet not even the simple satisfaction of good looks is
granted them; witches are as ugly as angels are fair; they emit an evil
odor and inspire others with unconquerable repugnance.

How exclusively all these descriptions of witches' sabbaths have their
origin in the imagination of the deluded women is seen from the fact
that they vary consistently with the prevailing notions of those by whom
they are entertained; with coarse peasants, the meetings are rude feasts
full of obscene enjoyments; with noble knights, they become the rovings
of the wild huntsman, or a hellish court under the guise of a Venus'
mountain; with ascetic monks and nuns, a subterranean convent filled
with vile blasphemies of God and the saints. This only is common to all
such visions, that they are always conceived in a spirit of bitter
antagonism to the Church: all the doctrines not only but also the
ceremonies of the latter are here travestied. The sabbath has its
masses, but the host is desecrated, its holy water obtained from the
lord of the feast; its host and its candles are black, and the _Ite
missa est_ of the dismissing priest is changed into: "Go to the Devil!"
Here, also, confession is required; but, the penitent confesses having
omitted to do evil and being guilty of occasional acts of mercy and
goodness; the penalty imposed is to neglect one or the other of the
twelve commandments.

When witches were brought to trial, one of the first measures was to
search for special marks which were believed to betray their true
character. These were especially the so-called witches' moles, spots of
the size of a pea, on which for some reason or other the nerves had lost
their sensibility, and where, in consequence, no pain was felt. These
were supposed to have been formed by being punctured, the Evil One
performing the operation with a pin of false gold, with his claws or his
horns. Other evidences were found in the peculiar coloring of the eyes,
which was said to represent the feet of toads; in the absence of tears
when the little gland had been injured, and, above all, in the specific
lightness of the body. In order to ascertain the latter the accused were
bound hand and foot crosswise, tied loosely to a rope, and then, three
times, dropped into the water. If they remained floating their guilt was
established; for either they had been endowed by their Master with
safety from drowning, or the water refused to receive them because they
had abjured their baptism! It need not be added that the executioners
soon found out ways to let their prisoners float or sink as they
chose--for a consideration.

Witches' trials began in the earliest days of Christianity, for the
Emperor Valens ordered, as we learn from Ammianus Marcellinus, all the
wizards and enchanters to be held to account who had endeavored by
magic art to ascertain his successor. Several thousands were accused of
witchcraft, but the charge was then, as in almost every later age, in
most cases nothing more than a pretext for proceedings against obnoxious
persons. The next monster process, as it began to be called already in
those early days, was the persecution of witches in France under the
Merovingians. The child of Chilperic's wife had died suddenly and under
suspicious circumstances, which led to the imprisonment of a prefect,
Mummolus, whom the queen had long pursued with her hatred. He was
accused of having caused her son's death by his charms, and was
subjected to fearful tortures in company with a number of old women.
Still, he confessed nothing but that the latter had furnished him with
certain drugs and ointments which were to secure to him the favor of the
king and the queen. A later trial of this kind, in which for a time calm
reason made a firm stand against superstition, but finally succumbed
ingloriously, is known as the _Vaudoisie_, and took place in Arras in
1459. It was begun by a Count d'Estampes, but was mainly conducted by a
bishop and some eminent divines of his acquaintance, whose inordinate
zeal and merciless cruelty have secured to the proceedings a peculiarly
painful memory in the annals of the church. A large number of perfectly
innocent men and women were tortured and disgracefully executed, but
fortunately the death of the main persecutor, DuBlois, made a sudden end
to the existence of witchcraft in that province. One of the most
remarkable trials of this kind was caused by a number of little
children, and led to most bloody proceedings. It seems that in the year
1669 several boys and girls in the parish of Mora, one of the most
beautiful parts of the Swedish province of Dalarne, and famous through
the memory of Gustavus Vasa and Gustavus III., were affected by a
nervous fever which left them, after their partial recovery, in a state
of extreme irritability and sensitiveness. They fell into fainting fits
and had convulsions--symptoms which the simple but superstitious
mountaineers gradually began to think inexplicable, and hence to ascribe
to magic influences. The report spread that the poor children were
bewitched, and soon all the usual details of satanic possession were
current. The mountain called Blakulla, in bad repute from of old, was
pointed out as the meeting-place of the witches, where the annual
sabbath was celebrated, and these children were devoted to Satan. Church
and State combined to bring their great power to bear upon the poor
little ones, an enormous number of women, mostly the mothers of the
young people, were involved in the charges, and finally fifty-two of the
latter with fifteen children were publicly executed as witches, while
fifty of the younger were condemned to severe punishment! More than
three hundred unfortunate children under fourteen had made detailed
confessions of the witches' sabbath and the ceremonies attending their
initiation into its mysteries. A similar fearful delusion took hold of
German children in Würtemberg, when towards the end of the seventeenth
century a large number of little boys and girls, none of whom were older
than ten years, began to state that they were every night fetched away
and carried to the witches' sabbath. Many were all the time fast asleep
and could easily be roused, but a few among them fell regularly into a
trance, during which their little bodies became cold and rigid. A
commission of great judges and experienced divines was sent to the
village to investigate the matter, and found at last that there was no
imposture attempted, but that the poor children firmly believed what
they stated. It became, however, evident that a few among them had
listened to old women's tales about witches, with eager ears, and, with
inflamed imaginations, retailed the account to others, till a deep and
painful nervous excitement took hold of their minds and rapidly spread
through the community. Many of the children were, as was natural at
their age, led by vanity to say that they also had been at the sabbath,
while others were afraid to deny what was so positively stated by their
companions. Fortunately the commission consisted, for once, of sensible
men who took the right view of the matter, ordered a good whipping here
and there, and thus saved the land from the crime of another witches'

Our own experiences in New England, at the time when Sir William Phipps
was governor of the colonies, have been forcibly reported by the great
Cotton Mather. Nearly every community had its young men and women who
were addicted to the practices of magic; they loved to perform
enchantments, to consult sieves and turning keys, and thus were
gradually led to attempt more serious and more dangerous practices. In
Salem, men and women of high standing and unimpeached integrity, even
pious members of the church, were suddenly plagued and tortured by
unknown agencies, and at last a little black and yellow demon appeared
to them, accompanied by a number of companions with human faces. These
apparitions presented to them a book which they were summoned to sign or
at least to touch, and if they refused they were fearfully twisted and
turned about, pricked with pins, burnt as if with hot irons, bound hand
and foot with invisible fetters, and carried away to great distances.
Some were left unable to touch food or drink for many days; others,
attempting to defend themselves against the demons, snatched a distaff
or tore a piece of cloth from them, and immediately these proofs of the
real existence of the evil spirits became visible to the eyes of the
bystanders. The magic phenomena attending the disease were of the most
extraordinary character. Several men stated that they had received
poison because they declined to worship Satan, and immediately all the
usual sequences of such treatment appeared, from simple vomiting to most
fearful suffering, till counteracting remedies were employed and began
to take effect. In other cases the sufferers complained of burning rags
being stuffed into their mouths, and although nothing was seen, burnt
places and blisters appeared, and the odor and smoke of smouldering rags
began to fill the room. When they reported that they were branded with
hot irons, the marks showed themselves, suppuration took place, and
scars were formed which never again disappeared during life--and all
these phenomena were watched by the eager eyes of hundreds. The
authorities, of course, took hold of the matter, and many persons of
both sexes and all ages were brought to trial. While they were tortured
they continued to have visions of demoniac beings and possessed men and
women; when they were standing, blindfolded, in court, felt the approach
of those by whom they pretended to be bewitched and plagued, and
urgently prayed to be delivered of their presence. Finally many were
executed, not a few undoubtedly against all justice, but the better
sense of the authorities soon saw the futility, if not the wickedness of
such proceedings, and an end was made promptly, witchcraft disappearing
as soon as persecution relaxed and the sensation subsided.

Similar trials have nevertheless continued to be held in various parts
of Europe during the whole of the last century, and many innocent lives
have been forfeited to this apparently ineradicable belief in
witchcraft. Even after torture was abandoned in compliance with the
wiser views of our age, long imprisonment with its attending sufferings
and great anxiety as to the issue, proved fully sufficient to extort
voluntary confessions, which were, of course, of no value in themselves,
but served the purpose of keeping alive the popular superstition. In
1728 a specially fearful trial of this kind took place in Hungary,
during which nearly all the disgraceful scenes of mediæval barbarity
were reënacted, and which ended in a number of cruel executions. The
last witches' trial in Germany took place in 1749, when the
mother-superior of a convent near Würzburg, in Bavaria, known as Emma
Renata, was condemned to be burnt, but by the leniency of the
authorities, was allowed to die by decapitation. Switzerland was the
scene of the last of these trials ever held, for with this act of
justice, as it was called by the good people of Glarus, the persecution

Even in England, however, the feeling itself seems to have lingered long
after actual trials had ceased. Thus it is well known that the terrible
trial of witches held at Marlboro, under Queen Elizabeth, led to the
establishment of a so-called witches' sermon to be delivered annually at
Huntingdon, and this custom was faithfully observed down to the latter
part of the eighteenth century. Nearly about the same time--in 1743--an
earnest effort was made in Scotland to kindle once more the fire of
fierce persecution. In the month of February of that year, the Associate
Presbytery, in a public document addressed to the Presbytery of the
Seceded Churches, required for certain purposes a solemn acknowledgment
of former sins, and a vow to renounce them forever. Among these sins
that austere body enumerated the "_abolition_ of the death penalty for
witchcraft," since the latter was forbidden in Holy Writ, and the
leniency which had taken the place of the former severity in punishing
this crime, had given an opening to Satan to tempt and actually to
seduce others by means of the same old accursed and dangerous
snares.--(_Edinb. Rev._, Jan. 1847.)



    "Peace!--the charm's wound up."


The most startling of all scenes described in Holy Writ--as far as they
represent incidents in human life--is, no doubt, the mysterious
interview between unfortunate King Saul and the spirit of his former
patron, the prophet Samuel. The poor monarch, abandoned by his friends
and forsaken by his own heart, turns in his utter wretchedness to those
whom he had but shortly before "put out of the land," those godless
people who "had familiar spirits and the wizards." Hard pressed by the
ancient enemy of his people, the Philistine, and unable to obtain an
answer from the great God of his fathers, he stoops to consult a witch,
a woman. It seems that Sedecla, the daughter of the Decemdiabite--for so
Philo calls her according to Des Mousseaux--had escaped by her cunning
from the fate of her weird sisters, and, having a familiar spirit,
foretold the future to curious enquirers at her dwelling in Endor. At
first she is unwilling to incur the penalty threatened in the king's
decree, but when the disguised monarch, with a voice of authority
promises her impunity, she consents to "bring up Samuel." As soon as
the fearful phantom of the dread prophet appears, she becomes
instinctively aware of the true character of her visitor, and, far more
afraid of the power of the living than of the appearance of the
departed, she cries out trembling: "Why hast thou deceived me? Thou art
Saul!" Then follows the appalling scene in which Samuel reproves the
miserable, self-despairing king, and foretells his death and that of his

There can be no doubt that we have here before us an instance of genuine
magic. The woman was evidently capable of casting herself into a state
of ecstasy, in which she could at once look back into the past and
forward into the future. Thus she beholds the great prophet, not sent by
God from on high, as the Holy Fathers generally taught, but according to
the then prevailing belief, rising from Sheol, the place of departed
spirits, and then she utters, unconsciously, his own words. For it must
not be overlooked that Samuel makes no revelations, but only repeats his
former warnings. Saul learns absolutely nothing new from him; he only
hears the same threatenings which the prophet had pronounced twice
before, when the reckless king had dared to sacrifice unto God with his
own hand (I. Sam. xiii.), and when he had failed to smite the Amalekite,
as he was bidden. Possessed, as it were, by the spirit of the living
Samuel, the woman speaks as he had spoken in his lifetime, and it is
only when her state of exaltation renders her capable of looking into
the future also, that she assumes the part of a prophetess herself, and
foretells the approaching doom of her royal visitor.

That the whole dread scene was fore-ordained and could take place only
by the will of the Almighty, alters nothing in the character of the
woman with the familiar spirit. It is a clear case of necromancy, or
conjuring up of the spirits of departed persons, such as has been
practised among men from time immemorial. Among the chosen people of God
persons were found from the beginning of their history who had familiar
spirits, and Moses already fulminates his severest anathemas against
these wizards (Lev. xx. 27). They appear under various aspects, as
charmers, as consulters of familiar spirits, as wizards, or as
necromancers (Deut. xviii. 11); they are charged with passing their
children through the fire, with observing times (astrologers); with
using enchantments; or they are said in a general way to "use
witchcraft" (II. Chron. xxxiii. 6). That other nations were not less
familiar with the art of evoking spirits, we see, for instance, in the
"Odyssey," which mentions numerous cases of such intercourse with
another world, and speaks of necromancers as forming a kind of close
guild. In the "Persius" of Æschylus the spirit of Darius, father of
Xerxes, is called up and foretells all the misfortunes that are to
befall poor Queen Atossa. The greatest among the stern Romans could not
entirely shake off the belief in such magic, in spite of the
matter-of-fact tendencies of the Roman mind, and the vast superiority of
their intelligence. A Cato and a Sylla, a Cæsar and a Vespasian, all
admitted, with clear unfailing perception, the small grains of truth
that lay concealed among the mass of rubbish then called magic. Even
Christian theology has never absolutely denied the existence of such
extraordinary powers over the spirits of the departed, although it has
consistently attributed them to diabolic influences.

In this point lies the main difference between ancient and modern magic.
For the oldest Magi whom we know were the wise men of Persia, called,
from _mah_ (great), Mugh, the great men of the land. They were the
philosophers of their day, and, if we believe the impartial evidence of
Greek writers--not generally apt to overestimate the merits of other
nations--they were possessed of vast and varied information. Their aim
was the loftiest ever conceived by human ambition; it was, in fact,
nothing less than the erection of an intellectual Tower of Babel. They
devoted the labors of a lifetime, and the full, well-trained vigor of
their intelligence to the study of the forces of nature, and the true
character of all created beings. Among the latter they included
disembodied spirits as well as those still bound up with bodies made of
earth, considering with a wisdom and boldness of conception never yet
surpassed, both classes as one and the same eternal creation. The
knowledge thus acquired they were, moreover, not disposed merely to
store away in their memory, or to record in unattractive manuscripts;
they were men of the world as well as philosophers, and looked for
practical results. Here the pagan spirit shone forth unrestrained; the
end and aim of all their restless labors was Power. Their ambition was
to control, by the superior prestige of their knowledge, not only the
mechanical forces of Nature, but also the lesser capacities of other
created beings, and finally Fate itself! Truly a lofty and noble aim if
we view it, as in equity we are bound to do, from their stand-point, as
men possessing, with all the wisdom of the earth, as yet not a particle
of revealed religion.

It was only at a much later period that a distinction was made between
White Magic and Black Magic. This arose from the error which gradually
overspread the minds of men, that such extraordinary powers--based,
originally, only upon extraordinary knowledge--were not naturally given
to men; but, could only be obtained by the special favor of higher
beings, with whom the owner must needs enter into a perilous league. If
these were benevolent deities, the results obtained by their assistance
were called White Magic; if they were gods of ill-repute, they granted
the power to perform feats of Black Magic, acts of wickedness, and
crimes. Christianity, though it abolished the gods of paganism,
maintained, nevertheless, the belief in extraordinary powers accorded by
supernatural beings, and the same distinction continued to be made.
Pious men and women performed miracles by the aid of angels and saints;
wicked sinners did as much by an unholy league with the Evil One. The
Egyptian charmer, of Apulejus, who declared that no miracle was too
difficult for his art, since he exercised the blind power of deities who
were subject to his will, only expressed what the lazzarone of Naples
feels in our day, when he whips his saint with a bundle of reeds, in
order to compel him to do his bidding. Magicians did not change their
doctrine; they hardly even modified their ceremonies; their allegiance
only was transferred from Jupiter to Jehovah, even as the same column
that once bore the great Thunderer on Olympus, is now crowned by a
statue of Peter Boanerges. Nor has the race of magicians ever entirely
died out; we find enough notices in classic authors, whose evidence is
unimpeachable, to know that the Greeks were apt scholars of the ancient
Magi and transferred the knowledge they had thus obtained and long
jealously guarded, to the priests of Egypt, who in their turn became the
masters of the two mightiest nations on earth. First Moses sat at their
feet till, at the age of forty, he "was learned in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians," and could successfully cope with their "magicians and
sorcerers." Then the land of the Nile fell into the hands of the Romans,
and poverty and neglect drove the wise men of Egypt to seek refuge in
the capital of the world, where they either lived upon the minor arts
and cunning tricks of their false fate, or, being converted to
Christianity, infected the pure faith with their ill-applied knowledge.
Certain portions of true magic survived through all persecutions and
revolutions; some precious secrets were preserved by the philosophers of
later ages and have--if we believe the statements made by trustworthy
writers of every century--ever since continued in the possession of
Freemasons and Rosicrucians; others became mixed up with vile
superstitions and impious practices, and only exist now as the Black Art
of so-called magicians and witches.

Wherever magic found a fertile soil among the people, it became a
science, handed down from father to son, and such we find it still in
the East Indies and the Orient generally; when it fell into the hands of
skeptics, or weak, feeble-minded men, it degenerated with amazing speed
into imposture and common jugglery. What is evident about magic is the
well-established fact that its ceremonies, forms, and all other
accessories are almost infinite in variety since they are merely
accidental vehicles for the will of man, and real magicians know very
well that the importance of such external aids is not only overrated but
altogether fallacious. The sole purpose of the burning of perfumes, of
imposing ceremonies and awe-inspiring procedures, is to aid in producing
the two conditions which are indispensable for all magic phenomena: the
magician must be excited till his condition is one resembling mental
intoxication or becomes a genuine trance, and the passive subject must
be made susceptible to the control of the superior mind. For it need not
be added, that the latter will all the more readily be affected, the
feebler his will and the more imperfect his mental vision may be by
nature or may have been rendered by training and careful preparation.
Hence it is that the magic table of the dervish; the enchanted drum of
the shaman; the medicine-bag of the Indian are all used for precisely
the same purpose as the ring of Hecate; the divining rod and the magic
wand of the enchanter. Legend and amulet, mummy and wax-figure, herb and
stone, drug and elixir, incense and ointment, are all but the means,
which the strong will of the gifted Master uses in order to influence
and finally to control the weaker mind. Thus powerful perfumes, narcotic
odors, and anæsthetic salves are employed to produce enervation and
often actual and complete loss of self-control; in other cases the
neophyte has to turn round and round within the magic circle, from east
to west, till he becomes giddy and utterly exhausted. It is very curious
to observe how, as far as these preparations go, in the most distant
countries and among the most different forms of society the same means
are employed for the same purpose: the whirling dance of the fanatic
dervish is perfectly analogous to the wild raving of our Indian
medicine-man, who ties himself with a rope to a post and then whirls
around it in fierce fury. Thus, also, the oldest magicians speak with
profound reverence of the powers of a little herb, known to botanists as
_Hypericum perforatum L._, and behold! in the year 1860 a German author
of eminence, Justinus Kerner, still taught seriously, that the leaves
of that plant were the best means to banish evil spirits! Mandrake and
elder have held their own in the false faith of nations from the oldest
times to our day, and even now Germans as well as slaves love to plant
the latter everywhere in their graveyards, as suggestive of the realm of

White Magic, though strictly forbidden by the Church in all ages, seems
nevertheless to have had irresistible attractions for wise and learned
men of every country. This charm it owes to the many elements of truth
which are mixed up with the final error; for it aims at a thorough
understanding of the mysteries of Nature--and so far its purpose is
legitimate and very tempting to superior minds--but only in order to
obtain by such knowledge a power which Holy Writ expressly denies to
man. When it prescribes the study of Nature as being the outer temple of
God and represents all the parts of this vast edifice, from the central
sun of the universe to the minutest living creation, as bound up by a
common sympathy, no objection can be made to its doctrines, and even the
greatest minds may fairly enroll themselves here as its pupils. But when
it ascribes to this sympathy an active power and attributes to secret
names of the Deity, to certain natural products, or to mechanically
regulated combinations of the stars, a peculiar and supernatural effect,
it sinks into contemptible superstition. Hence the constant aim of all
White Magic, the successful summoning of superior spirits for the
purpose of learning from them what is purposely kept concealed from the
mind of man, has never yet been reached. For it is sin, the same sin
that craved to eat from the tree of knowledge. Hence, also, no
beneficial end has ever yet been obtained by the practices of magic,
although wise and learned men of every age have spent their lives and
risked the salvation of their souls in restless efforts to lift the veil
of Isis.

Black Magic, the Kishuph of the Hebrews, avows openly its purpose of
forming a league with evil spirits in order to attain selfish ends,
which are invariably fatal to others. And yet it is exactly here that we
meet with great numbers of well-authenticated cases of success, which
preclude all doubt and force us to admit the occasional efficiency of
such sinful alliances. The art flourishes naturally best among the
lowest races of mankind, where gross ignorance is allied with blind
faith, and the absence of inspiration leaves the mind in natural
darkness. We cannot help being struck here also with the fact that the
means employed for such purposes have been the same in almost all ages.
Readers of classic writers are familiar with the drum of Cybele--the
Laplanders have from time immemorial had the same drum, on which heaven,
hell, and earth are painted in bright colors, and reproduce in pictorial
writing the letters of the modern spiritualist. A ring is placed upon
the tightly stretched skin, which slight blows with a hammer cause to
vibrate, and according to the apparently erratic motions of the ring
over the varied figures of gods, men, and beasts, the future is
revealed. The consulting savage lies on his knees, and as the pendulum
between our fingers and the pencil of Planchette in our hand write
apparently at haphazard, but in reality under the pressure of our
muscles acting through the unconscious influence of our will, so here
also the beats of the hammer only seem to be fortuitous, but, in
reality, are guided by the ecstatic owner. For already Olaf Magnus
("Hist. Goth." L. 3, ch. 26) tells us that the incessant beating of the
drum, and the wild, exulting singing of the magician for hours before
the actual ceremony begins, cause him to fall into a state of
exaltation, without which he would be unable to see the future. That the
drum is a mere accident in the ceremony was strikingly proved by a
Laplander, who delivered up his instrument of witchcraft to the pious
missionary (Tornaeus) by whom he had been converted, and who soon came
to complain that even without his drum he could not help seeing hidden
things--an assertion which he proved by reciting to the amazed minister
all the minute details of his recent journey. Who can help, while
reading of these savage magicians, recalling the familiar ring and
drumstick in the left hand of the Roman Isis--statues with a drum above
the head, or the rarely missing ring and hammer in the hands of the
Egyptian Isis? It need hardly be added that the Indians of our continent
have practised the art with more or less success from the day of
discovery to our own times. Already Wafer in his "Descr. of the Isthmus
of Darien" (1699) describes how Indian sorcerers, after careful
preparation, were able to inform him of a number of future events, every
one of which came to pass in the succeeding days. The prince of Neu-Wied
again met a famous medicine-man among the Crea Indians, whose prophecies
were readily accepted by the whites even, and of whose power he
witnessed unmistakable evidence. Bonduel, a well-known and generally
perfectly trustworthy writer, affirms, from personal knowledge, that
among the Menomonees the medicine-men not only practise magic, but are
able to produce most astounding results. After beating their drum,
Bonduel used to hear a heavy fall and a faint, inarticulate voice,
whereupon the tent of the charmer though fifteen feet high, rose in the
air and inclined first on one and then on the other side. This was the
time of the interview between the medicine-man and the evil spirit.
Small doll-like figures of men also were used, barely two inches long,
and tied to medicine-bags. They served mainly to inflame women with
loving ardor, and when efficient could drive the poor creatures to
pursue their beloved for days and nights through the wild forests. Other
missionaries also affirm that these medicine-men must have been able to
read the signs and perhaps to feel in advance the effects of the weather
with amazing accuracy, since they frequently engaged to procure storms
for special purposes, and never failed. It is interesting to notice
that according to the unanimous testimony of all writers on Indian
affairs, these medicine-men almost invariably find a violent and
wretched death.

It is not without interest to recall that the prevailing forms of the
magic of our day, as far as they consist of table-moving,
spirit-rapping, and the like, have their origin among the natives of our
continent. The earliest notice of these strange performances appeared in
the great journal of Augsburg, in Germany (_Allgemeine Zeitung_), where
Andree mentioned their occurrence among Western Indians. Sargent gave us
next a more detailed description of the manner in which many a wigwam or
log-cabin in Iowa became the scene of startling revelations by means of
a clumsy table which hopped merrily about, or a half-drunk, red-skinned
medium, from whose lips fell uncouth words. (Spicer, "Lights and
Sounds," p. 190.) It was only in 1847 that the famous Fox family brought
these phenomena within the pale of civilization: having rented a house
in Hydeville, N. Y., already ill-reputed on account of mysterious
noises, they reduced these knockings to a kind of system, and, by means
of an alphabet, obtained the important information that they were the
work of a "spirit," and that his name was Charles Ray. Margaret Fox
transplanted the rappings to Rochester; Catherine, only twelve years
old, to Auburn, and from these two central places the new Magic spread
rapidly throughout the Union. Opposition and persecutions served, as
they are apt to do, only to increase the interest of the public. A Mrs.
Norman Culver proved, it is true, that rappings could easily be produced
by certain muscular movements of the knee and the ankle, and a committee
of investigation, of which Fenimore Cooper was a member, obtained ample
evidence of such a method being used; but the faith of the believers was
not shaken. The moving of tables, especially, furnished to their minds
new evidence of the actual presence of spirits, and soon circles were
established in nearly all the Northern and Western States, formed by
persons of education without regard to confession, who called themselves
Spiritualists or Spiritists, and their most favored associates Media. A
number of men, whose intelligence and candor were alike unimpeachable,
became members of the new sect, among them a judge, a governor of a
State, and a professor of chemistry. They organized societies and
circles, they published journals and several works of interest and
value, and produced results which more and more strengthened their

The new art met, naturally, with much opposition, especially among the
ministers and members of the different churches. Some of the opponents
laughed at the whole as a clever jugglery, which deserved its great
success on account of the "smartness" of the performers; others
denounced it as a heresy and a crime; the former, of course, saw in it
nothing but the hand of man, while the latter admitted the agency of
spirits, but of spirits from below and not from above. An amusing
feature connected with public opinion on this subject was, that when
trade was prosperous and money abundant, spiritualism also flourished
and found numerous adherents, but when business was slow, or a crisis
took place, all minds turned away from the favorite pastime, and
instinctively joined once more with the pious believers in the
denunciation of the new magic. Thus a kind of antagonism has gradually
arisen between orthodox Christians and enthusiastic spiritualists; the
controversy is carried on with great energy on both sides, and, alas! to
the eye of the general observer, magic is gaining ground every day, at
least its adherents increase steadily in numbers, and even in social
weight. (Tuttle, "Arena of Nature.") Not long ago the National
Convention of Spiritualists, at their great meeting at Rochester, N.Y.
(August, 1868), laid down nineteen fundamental principles of their new
creed; their doctrines are based upon the fact that we are constantly
surrounded by an invisible host of spirits, who desire to help us in
returning once more to the father of all things, the Great Spirit.

Modern magic met with the same opposition in Europe. The French Academy,
claiming, as usually, to be supreme authority in all matters of science,
declined, nevertheless, to decide the question. Arago, who read the
official report before the august body, closed with the words: "I do not
believe a word of it!" but his colleagues remembered, perhaps, that
their predecessors had once or twice before committed themselves
grievously. Had not the same Academy pronounced against the use of
quinine and vaccination, against lightning-rods and steam-engines? Had
not Réaumur suppressed Peyssonel's "Essay on Corals," because he thought
it was madness to maintain their animal nature; had not his learned
brethren decreed, in 1802, that there were no meteors, although a short
time later two thousand fell in one department alone; and had they not,
more recently still, received the news of ether being useful as an
anæsthetic with scorn and unanimous condemnation? Perhaps they recalled
Dr. Hare's assertion that our own Society for the Advancement of Useful
Knowledge had, in 1855, refused to hear a report on Spiritualism,
preferring to discuss the important question: "Why do roosters always
crow between midnight and one o'clock?" At all events they heard the
report and remained silent. In the same manner Alexander von Humboldt
refused to examine the question. This indifference did not, however,
check the growth of Spiritualism in France, but its followers divided
into two parties: spiritualists, under Rivail, who called himself Allan
Cardec, and spiritists, under Piérard. The former died in 1869, after
having seen his _Livre des Esprits_ reappear in fifteen editions; to
seal his mission, he sent, immediately after his death, his spirit to
inform his eager pupils, who crowded around the dead body of their
leader, of his first impressions in the spirit world. If the style is
the man (_le style c'est l'homme_), no one could doubt that it was his
spirit who spoke.

Perhaps the most estimable high-priest of this branch of modern magic is
a well known professor of Geneva, Roessinger, a physician of great
renown and much beloved by all who know him. He is, however, a rock of
offense to American spiritualists, because he has ever remained firmly
attached to his religious faith, and admits no spiritual revelations as
genuine which do not entirely harmonize with the doctrines of Christ and
the statements of the Bible. Unfortunately this leads him to believe
that his favorite medium, a young lady enjoying the mystic name of
Libna, speaks under the direct inspiration of God himself! In England
the new magic has not only numerous but also influential adherents, like
Lord Lytton and the Darwinian Wallace; papers like the _Star_ and
journals like the _Cornhill Magazine_, support it with ability, and
names like Home in former years and Newton in our day, who not only
reveal secrets but actually heal the sick, have given a new prestige to
the young science. The works of Howitt and Dr. Ashburner, of Mrs. Morgan
and Mrs. Crossland have treated the subject under various aspects, and
in the year 1871, Crookes, a well-known chemist, investigated the
phenomena of Home's revelations by means of an apparatus specially
devised for the purpose. The result was the conviction that if not
spiritual, they were at least not produced by any power now known to
science.--_Quart. Journ. of Science_, July, 1871.

In Germany the new magic has been far less popular than elsewhere, but,
in return, it has been there most thoroughly investigated. Men of great
eminence in science and in philosophy have published extensive works on
the subject, which are, however, more remarkable for zeal and industry
than for acute judgment. Gerster in Regensburg claimed to have invented
the Psychography, but Szapary in Paris and Cohnfeld in Berlin discovered
at the same time the curious instrument known to us as Planchette. The
most practical measure taken in Germany for the purpose of ascertaining
the truth was probably the formation of a society for spirit studies,
which met for the first time in Dresden in 1869, and purposes to obtain
an insight into those laws of nature which are reported to make it
possible to hold direct and constant intercourse with the world of
spirits. Here, as in the whole tendency of this branch of magic, we see
the workings not merely of idle curiosity but of that ardent longing
after a knowledge of the future and a certainty of personal eternity,
which dwells in the hearts of all men.

The phenomena of modern magic were first imperfect rappings against the
wall, the legs of a table or a chair, accompanied by the motion of
tables; then followed spirit-writing by the aid of a psychograph or a
simple pencil, and finally came direct "spirit-writings," drawings by
the media, together with musical and poetical inspirations, the whole
reaching a climax in spirit-photographs. The ringing of bells, the
dancing of detached hands in the air, the raising up of the entire body
of a man, and musical performances without human aid were only
accomplished in a few cases by specially favored individuals. Two facts
alone are fully established in connection with all these phenomena: one,
that some of the latter at least are not produced by the ordinary forces
of nature; and the other, that the performers are generally, and the
medium always, in a more or less complete state of trance. In this
condition they forget themselves, give their mind up entirely into the
hands of others--the media--and candidly believe they see and hear what
they are told by the latter is taking place in their presence. Hence
also the well-established fact that the spirits have never yet revealed
a single secret, nor ever made known to us anything really new. Their
style is invariably the same as that in which ecstatic and
somnambulistic persons are apt to speak. A famous German spiritualist,
Hornung, whose faith was well known, once laid his hands upon his
planchette together with his wife, and then asked if there really was a
world of spirits? To the utter astonishment of all present, the
psychograph replied No! and when questioned again and again, became
troublesome. The fact was simply that the would-be magician's wife did
not believe in spirits, and as hers was the stronger will, the answer
came from her mind and not from her husband's. On the other hand, it
cannot be denied that media--most frequently delicate women of high
nervous sensibility, and almost always leading lives of constant and
wearying excitement--become on such occasions wrought up to a degree
which resembles somnambulism and may really enable them, occasionally,
in a state of clairvoyance, to see what is hidden to others. It is they
who are "vitalized," as they call it, and not the knocking table, or the
writing planchette, and hence arises the necessity of a medium for all
such communications. That there are no spirits at work in these
phenomena requires hardly to be stated; even the most ardent and
enthusiastic adherents of the new magic cannot deny, that no original
revelation concerning the world of spirits has yet been made, but that
all that is told is but an echo of the more or less familiar views of
men. It is far more interesting to notice, with Coleman, the electric
and hygroscopic condition of the atmosphere, which has evidently much to
do with such exhibitions. The visions of hands, arms, and heads, which
move about in the air and may occasionally even be felt, are either mere
hallucinations or real objective appearances, due to a peculiar
condition of the air, and favorably interpreted by the predisposed mind.
Hence, also, our own continent is, for its superior dryness of
atmosphere, much more favorable to the development of such phenomena
than that of Europe.

Spiritualists in the Old as in the New World are hopeful that the new
magic will produce a new universal religion, and a better social order.
In this direction, however, no substantial success has yet been
obtained. Outsiders had expected that at least an intercourse with
departed spirits might be secured, and thus the immortality of man might
be practically demonstrated. But this also has not yet been done. What
then can we learn from modern magic? Only this: that there are evidently
forces in nature with whose character and precise intent we are not yet
acquainted, and which yet deserve to be studied and carefully analyzed.
Modern magic exhibits certain phenomena in man which are not subject to
the known laws of nature, and thus proves that man possesses certain
powers which he fails or does not know how to exert in ordinary life.
Where these powers appear in consequence of special preparation or an
exceptional condition of mind, they are comparatively worthless, because
they are in such cases merely the result of physical or mental disease,
and we can hope to profit only by powers employed by sound men. But
where these powers become manifest by spontaneous action, apparently as
the result of special endowment, they deserve careful study, and all the
respect due to a new and unknown branch of knowledge.

Nor must it be overlooked, that, although modern magic as a science is
new, most of the phenomena upon which it is based, were well known to
the oldest nations. The Chinese, who seem to have possessed all the
knowledge of mankind, ages before it could be useful to them, or to
others, and to have lost it as soon as there was a call for it, had,
centuries ago, not only moving tables, but even writing spirits. Their
modern planchette is a small board, which they let float upon the water,
with the legs upward; they rest their hands upon the latter, and watch
the gyrations it makes in the water. Or they hold a small basket with a
camel's-hair brush attached to one end suspended over a table upon which
they have strewn a layer of flour; the brush begins to move through the
flour and to draw characters in it, which they interpret according to
their alphabet. The priests of Buddha in Mongolia, also, have long since
employed moving tables, and for a good purpose, usually to detect
thieves. The lama, who is appealed to for the purpose, sits down before
a small four-legged table, upon which he rests his hands, whilst reading
a book of devotion. After perhaps half an hour, he rises, and as he does
so, holding his hand steadily upon the table, the table also rises and
follows his hand, which he raises till hand and table are both level
with his eyes. Then the priest advances, the table precedes him, and
soon begins to move at such a rate that it seems to fly through the air,
and the lama can hardly follow. Sometimes it falls down upon the very
spot where the stolen goods are hidden; at other times it only indicates
the direction in which they are to be sought for; and not unfrequently
it refuses altogether to move, in which event the priest abandons the
case as hopeless. (_Nord. Biene_, April 27, 1853.) Here also it is
evident that the table is not the controlling agent, but the will of the
lama, whom it obeys by one of those mysterious powers which we call
magic. It is the same force which acts in the divining rod, the
pendulum, and similar phenomena.

The name of Medium is an American invention, and is based upon the
assumption that only a few favored persons are able to enter into direct
communication with spirits, who may then convey the revelations they
receive to others. They are generally children and young persons, but
among grown men also certain constitutions seem to be better adapted to
such purposes than others. In almost all cases it has been observed,
that the electric condition of the medium is a feature of greatest
importance; the more electricity he possesses, the better is he able to
produce magic phenomena, and when his supply is exhausted by a long
session, his power also ceases. Hence, perhaps, the peculiar
qualification of children; while, on the other hand, the fact that they
not unfrequently are able to answer questions, in languages, of which
they are ignorant, proves that they also do not themselves give the
reply, but only receive it from the questioner, and state it as it
exists in the mind of the latter. Hence, also, the utter absurdity of
so-called spirit paintings, and, still worse, of poetical effusions like
Mr. Harris' "Lyric of the Golden Age," in eleven thousand four hundred
and thirty wretched verses. For what the "circle" does not know
individually or collectively, the medium also is not able to produce.
This truth is made still more evident by the latest phenomena developed
in spiritualistic circles, the so-called trance speaking, which may be
heard occasionally in New York circles, and which requires no
interposition of a medium. For here, also, we are struck by the utter
absence of usefulness in all these revelations; the inspired believers
speak, they recite poetry, but it remains literally _vox et præterea
nihil_, and we are forcibly reminded of the words of Æschylus, who
already said in his "Agamemnon" (v. 1127),

    "Did ever seers afford delight?
     The long practised art of all the seers whom
     Ever the gods inspired, revealed
     Naught but horrors and a wretched fate."

Among the media of our day, Home is naturally _facile princeps_. A
Scotchman by birth, he claims that his mother already possessed the gift
of Second Sight, and that in their home near Edinburgh similar
endowments were frequent among their neighbors. At the age of three
years he saw the death of a cousin, who lived in a distant town, and
named the persons who were standing around her couch; he conversed
constantly in his childish way with spirits and heard heavenly music;
his cradle was rocked by invisible hands, and his toys came unaided into
his hands. When ten years old he was taken to an aunt in America, in
whose house he had no sooner been installed than chairs and tables, beds
and utensils, began to move about in wild disorder, till the terrified
lady sent the unlucky boy away. Attending once an exhibition of
table-moving he fell into fits and suddenly became cataleptic; during
the paroxysm he heard a summoning, then the spirits announced the
wrecking of two sailors, the table began to rock as in a storm, the
whistling of the wind through the tackle, the creaking of the vessel,
and the dull, heavy thud of the waves against her bows, all were
distinctly heard, and finally the table was upset, while the spirits
announced the name and the age of the perishing seamen. From that day
Home carefully cultivated his strange gifts, and developed what he
considered a decided talent for reading the future. As a young man he
returned to Europe and soon became famous. Florence was, for a time, the
principal stage of his successes; here he not only summoned the spirits
of the departed, but was raised by invisible powers from the ground and
hovered for some time above the heads of his visitors. The superstitious
Italians finally became excited and threatened him with death, from
which a Count Branichi saved him at great personal peril. In Naples the
spirits suddenly declared their intention to leave him on February 10,
1856, and to remain absent for a whole year; they did so, and during the
interval Home enjoyed better health than ever in his life! In Rome he
became a Catholic, and good Pio Nono himself offered him his crucifix to
kiss, with the words: "That is the only true magic wand!"--unfortunately
this was not Home's view always; at least we find him in 1864 in the
same city in conflict with the papal police, who ordered him to cease
all intercourse "with higher as well as with lower spirits," and finally
compelled him to leave the Eternal City. He then claimed publicly,
what, it must not be forgotten, he had consistently maintained from the
beginning of his marvelous career, that he was the unwilling agent of
higher powers, which affected him at irregular times, independent of his
will, and often contrary to his dearest wishes. It must be added that he
gave the strongest proof of his sincerity by never accepting from the
public pecuniary compensation for the exhibition of peculiar powers.

His exterior is winning; he is of medium height, light-haired and
light-complexioned, of slender figure; simple and well-bred in his
manners, and of irreproachable morale. The highest circles of society
have always been open to him, and his marriage with a daughter of the
Russian general Stroll has given him wealth and an agreeable position in
the world. As the spirits had predicted, they returned on the 10th of
February, 1857, and announced themselves by repeated gentle
knockings--in other words, Home's former nervous disease returned, and
with it his exceptionable powers. He was then in Paris, and soon excited
the attention of the fair but superstitious Empress, whose favor he
speedily obtained by a revelation concerning the "Empereur de l'avenir,"
as the spirits had the gallantry to call her infant son. Napoleon also
began to take an interest in the clever, talented man, whose special
gifts did not prevent him from being a pliant courtier and a cunning
observer. He showed himself grateful for the kindness with which Eugenie
provided for his sister's education by exerting his powers to the
utmost at the Tuileries, and by revealing to the Emperor the secrets he
had skillfully elicited during his spiritual sessions, from statesmen
and generals. At the house of Prince Murat he performed, perhaps, the
most surprising feats he has ever accomplished: seated quietly in his
arm-chair, he caused tables to whirl around, the clocks in two rooms to
stand still or to go at will, all the bells in the house to ring
together or separately, and handkerchiefs to escape irresistibly from
the hands and the pockets of several persons, the Emperor included. Then
the floor seemed to sink, all the doors of the house were slammed to and
opened again, the gaslights became extinct, and when they as suddenly
blazed up again, Home had disappeared without saying good-bye. The
guests left the house quietly and in a state of great and painful
excitement. At another exhibition in Prince Napoleon's house, a renowned
juggler was present by invitation to watch Home, but he declared, soon,
that there was no jugglery, such as he knew, in what he saw, and the
meeting, during which the most startling phenomena were exhibited, ended
by Home's falling into a state of fearful catalepsy. Perhaps nothing can
speak more clearly of the deep interest felt in the modern magician by
the highest in the land, than the fact that more than once private
sessions were held at the Tuileries, at which, besides himself, the
Emperor and the Empress, only one person was allowed to be present, the
Duke of Montebello. It is said, though not by Home himself, that at one
of these meetings the sad fate of the Empire was clearly predicted, and
even the time of the Emperor's death ascertained. One achievement of
modern magic in which Home is unique, is the raising of his body into
the air; no other person having as yet even attempted the same exploit.
He is lifted up in a horizontal position, sometimes only to a short
distance from the floor, but not unfrequently, also, nearly to the
ceiling; on one occasion, in Bordeaux, he remained thus suspended in the
sight of several persons for five minutes. Another speciality of his, is
the lengthening of his body. According to a statement deserving full
credit ("Human Nature," Dec. 1868), he can, when in a state of trance,
add four inches to his stature! Finally, he has been repeatedly seen
passing in the air out of one window of the room in which his visitors
were assembled, and returning through another window, an exhibition
which almost always ended in the complete exhaustion and apparent
illness of the magician.

Home himself maintains that he performs no miracles, and is not able to
cause the laws of nature to be suspended for a moment, but that he is
gifted with an exceptional power to employ faculties which he possesses
in common with all his brethren. In him they are active; in the vast
majority of men they lie dormant, because man is no longer conscious of
the full and absolute control over Nature, with which he has been
endowed by the Creator. He adds that it is faith alone, without the aid
of spirits, which enables him to cause mysterious lights to be seen, or
heavy pieces of furniture to move about in the air, and to produce
strange sounds and peculiar visions in the mind of his friends. On the
other hand, when he is lifted up into the air, or enabled to read the
future, and to reveal what absent persons are doing at the moment, he
professes to act as a willingless instrument of spirits, having neither
the power to provoke his ability to perform these feats, nor to lay it
aside at will. Occasionally he professes to be conscious of an electric
current, which he is able to produce at certain times and in a certain
state of mind; this emanation protects his body against influences fatal
to others, and enables him, for instance, to hold live coals in his
hand, and to thrust his whole head into the chimney fire. This "certain
state of mind," as he calls it, is simply a state of trance. Hence the
extremely variable nature of his performances, and his great reluctance
to appear as a magician at the request of others. Nor is he himself
always quite sure of his own condition; thus, in the winter of 1870,
when he wished to exhibit some of the simplest phenomena in the presence
of a number of savants in St. Petersburg, he failed so completely in
every effort, that the committee reported him virtually, though not in
terms, an impostor. The same happened to him at a first examination held
by Mr. Crookes, a well-known professor of chemistry, in company with
Messrs. Cox and Huggins; they did not abandon their purpose, however,
and at the next meeting, when certain antipathic spectators were no
longer present, Home displayed the most remarkable phenomena. The
committee came to the conclusion that he was enabled to perform these
feats by means of a new "psychic force," which it was all-important for
men of science to investigate thoroughly.

The number of men and women who possess similar endowments, though
generally in an inferior degree only, is very great, especially in the
United States. Only one feature is common to them all--the state of
trance in which they are enabled to produce such startling phenomena--in
all other respects they differ widely, both as to the nature of their
performances and as to their credibility. For, from the first appearance
of media in spiritualistic circles, in fact, probably already in the
exhibitions of the Fox family, delusion and willful deception have been
mixed up with actual magic. Tables have been moved by clever
legerdemain; spirit rappings have been produced by cunning efforts of
muscles and sinews; ventriloquists have used their art to cause
extraordinary noises in the air, and Pepper's famous ghosts have shown
the facility with which the eye may be deceived and the other senses be
taken captive. The most successful deception was practised by the
so-called Davenport Brothers, whose well-known exhibitions excited
universal interest, as long as the impression lasted that they were the
work of invisible spirits, while they became even more popular and
attractive when their true nature had been discovered, on account of the
exquisite skill with which these juggling tricks were performed.

The masters of physical science have amply proved that table-moving is a
simple mechanical art. Faraday and Babinet already called attention to
the fact that the smallest muscles of the human body can produce great
effects, when judiciously employed, and cited, among other instances,
the so-called Electric Girl, exhibited in Paris, who hurled a chair on
which she had been sitting, by muscular power alone, to a great
distance. The same feat, it is well-known, has been repeatedly
accomplished by other persons also. Like muscular efforts are made--no
doubt often quite unconsciously--by persons whose will acts
energetically, and when several men co-operate the force of vibrations
produced in a kind of rhythmical tact, becomes truly astounding. We need
only remember, that the rolling of a heavily laden cart in the streets
may shake a vast, well-built edifice from roof to cellar, and that the
regular tramp of a detachment of men has more than once caused
suspension bridges, of great and well-tried strength, to break and to
bury hundreds of men under their ruins. Thus a few children and delicate
women alone can, by an hour's steady work and undivided attention, move
tables of such weight that a number of strong men can lift them only
with difficulty. The only really new force which has ever appeared in
this branch of modern magic is the Od of Baron Reichenbach; its
presence and efficacy cannot be denied, although the manner in which it
operates is still a mystery. In the summer of 1861 the German baron
found himself in a company of table-movers at the house of Lord William
Cowper, the son-in-law of Lord Palmerston. To prove his faith he crept
under the heavy dining-table, resting with his full weight on one of the
three solid feet and grasping the other two firmly with his hands. The
wood began to emit low, electric sounds, then came louder noises as when
furniture cracks in extremely dry weather, and finally the table began
to move. Reichenbach did his best to prevent the movement, but the table
rushed down the room, dragging the unlucky baron with it, to the intense
amusement of all the persons present. The German savant maintains that
this power, possessed only by the privileged few who are peculiarly
sensitive, emanates from the tips of the fingers, becomes luminous in
the dark, and acts like a lever upon all obstacles that come in its way.
As the existence of Od is established beyond all doubt, and its effects
are admitted by all who have studied the subject, we are forced to look
upon it as at least one of the mysterious elements of modern magic.

The Od is, as far as we know, a magnetic force; for as soon as certain
persons are magnetized they become conscious of peculiar sensations,
heat or cold, headache or other pains, and, if predisposed, of a
startling increase of power in all their senses. They see lights of
every kind, can distinguish even minute objects in a dark room, and
behold beautiful white flames upon the poles of magnets. Reichenbach
obtained, as he believed, two remarkable results from these first
phenomena. He concluded that polar lights, aurora boreales, etc., were
identical with the magnetic light of the earth, and he discovered that
sensitive, sickly persons, who were peculiarly susceptible to magnetic
influences, ought to lie with the head to the north, and the feet to the
south in order to obtain refreshing sleep. The next step was an effort
to identify the Od with animal magnetism; Reichenbach found that
cataleptic patients who perceived the presence of magnets with exquisite
accuracy, and followed them like mesmerized persons, were affected alike
by his own hands or those of other perfectly sound, but strongly
magnetic men. He could attract such unfortunate persons by his
outstretched fingers, and force them to follow him in a state of
unconsciousness wherever he led them. According to his theory, the two
sides of man are of opposite electric nature and a magnetic current
passes continually from one side to the other; sensitive persons though
blind-folded, know perfectly well on which side they approach others.

Gradually Baron Reichenbach extended the range of his experiments,
employing for that purpose, besides his own daughter, especially a Miss
Nowotny, a sad sufferer from cataleptic attacks. She was able to
distinguish, by the sensations which were excited in her whole system,
more than six hundred chemicals, and arranged them, under his guidance,
according to their electro-chemical force. Another sick woman, Miss
Maiss, felt a cool wind whenever certain substances were brought near
her, and by these and similar efforts in which the baron was aided by
many friends, he ascertained the fact, that there is in nature a force
which passes through all substances, the human body included, and is
inherent in the whole material world. This force he calls the Od. Like
electricity and magnetism, this Od is a polar force, and here also
opposite poles attract, like poles repel each other. The whole subject,
although as yet only in its infancy, is well deserving of careful study
and thorough investigation.

The manifestations of so-called spirits have naturally excited much
attention, and given rise to the bitterest attacks. In England,
especially, the learned world is all on one side and the Spiritualists
all on the other; nor do they hesitate to say very bitter things of each
other. The _Saturday Review_, more forcibly than courteously, speaks of
American spiritualists thus: "If this is the spirit world, and if this
is spiritual intelligence, and if all the spirits can do, is to whisk
about in dark rooms, and pinch people's legs under the table, and play
'Home, Sweet Home,' on the accordeon, and kiss folks in the dark, and
paint baby pictures, and write such sentimental, namby-pamby as Mr.
Coleman copies out from their dictation--it is much better to be a
respectable pig and accept annihilation than to be cursed with such an
immortality as this." To which the _Spiritual Magazine_ (Jan., 1862),
does not hesitate to reply. "We shall not eat breakfast bacon for some
time, for fear of getting a slice of the editor of the _Saturday
Review_, in his self-sought appropriate metempsychosis." It must be
borne in mind, however, that spiritualists everywhere appeal to their
own reason as the highest tribunal before which such questions can be
decided, and to the laws of nature, because as they say, they are
identical with the laws of practical reason. They believe, as a body,
neither in angels nor in demons. Their spirits are simply the purified
souls of departed men. Protestant theologians, who admit of no
purgatory, see in these exhibitions nothing but the deeds of Satan.
Catholic divines, on the other hand, and Protestant mystics, who, like
the German, Schubert, believe that there exist what they curiously
enough call a "more peaceful infernal spirit," ascribe them to the
agency of evil spirits. In the great majority of cases, however, the
spirits have clearly shown themselves nothing else but the product of
the media. The latter, invariably either of diseased mind by nature or
over-excited for the occasion, believe they see and hear manifestations
in the outer world, which in reality exist only in their own
consciousness. A Catholic medium is thus visited by spirits from heaven
and hell, while the Protestant medium never meets souls from purgatory.
Nothing has ever been revealed concerning the future state of man, that
was not already well known upon earth. Most diverting are the
jealousies of great spirits, of Solomon and Socrates, Moses and
Plato--when the media happen to be jealous of each other! A somewhat
satirical writer on the subject explains even the fact that spirits so
often contradict each other and say vile things of sacred subjects, by
the inner wickedness of the media, which comes to light on such
occasions, while they carefully conceal it in ordinary life! If these
spirits are really the creations of the inner magic life, of which we
are just learning to know the first elementary signs, then the powers
which are hidden within us may well terrify us as they appear in such
exhibitions, while we will not be surprised at the manner in which many
an ordinary mortal appears here as a poet or a prophet--if not as a
wicked demon. Nor must it be overlooked that our memory holds vast
treasures of knowledge of which we are utterly unconscious until, under
certain circumstances, one or the other fact suddenly reappears before
our mind's eye. The very fact that we can, by a great effort and
continued appeals to our memory, recall at last what was apparently
utterly forgotten, proves the presence of such knowledge. A state of
intense excitement, of fever or of trance, is peculiarly favorable to
the recovery of such hidden treasures, and there can be no doubt that
many a medium honestly believes to receive a new revelation, when only
old, long forgotten facts return to his consciousness. Generally
however, we repeat, nothing is in the spirit that is not in the medium.
The American spiritualist conjures up only his own countrymen, and
occasionally some world-renowned heroes like Napoleon or Cæsar,
Shakespeare or Schiller, while the cosmopolitan German receives visits
from men of all countries. Finally it must be borne in mind that,
according to an old proverb, we are ever ready to believe what we wish
to see or hear, and hence the amazing credulity of the majority of
spiritualists. Even skeptics are not free from the influence of this
tendency. When Dr. Bell, the eminent physician of Somerville, Mass.,
investigated these phenomena of modern magic, many years ago, he
promptly noticed that the spirits never gave information which was not
already in the possession of one or the other person present. Only in a
few cases he acknowledged with his usual candor, and at once, at the
meeting itself, that a true answer was returned. But when he examined,
after his return home, these few exceptional revelations, he discovered
that he had been mistaken, and that these answers had been after all as
illusory as the others.

There can be no doubt therefore, that modern magic, as far as it
consists in table-moving and spirit-rapping, with their usual
accompaniments, is neither the work of mechanical jugglery exclusively,
nor, on the other hand, the result of revelations made by spirits. In
the mass of accumulated evidence there remain however, after sifting it
carefully, many facts which cannot be explained according to the
ordinary course of nature. The power which produces these phenomena
must be classified with other well-known powers given to man under
exceptional circumstances, such as the safety of somnambulists in
dangerous places; the cures performed by faith, and the strange
exhibitions made by diseased persons, suffering of catalepsy and similar
affections. If men, under the influence of mesmerism, in a state of
ecstatic fervor, or under the pressure of strong and long-continued
excitement, show powers which are not possessed by man naturally, then
modern magic also may well be admitted as one of the means by which such
extraordinary, and as yet unexplored forces are brought to light. All
that can be reasonably asked of those who so peremptorily challenge our
admiration, and demand our respect for the new science, is that it shall
be proved to be useful to man, and this proof is, as yet, altogether

In Mexico the preparation for acts of magic seems to have been downright
intoxication; at least we learn from Acosta, in his _Hist. nat. y moral
de los Indias_ (lv.), that the priests, before sacrificing, inhaled
powerful perfumes, rubbed themselves with ointments made of venomous
animals, tobacco and hempseed, and finally drank chica mixed with
various drugs. Thus they reached a state of exaltation in which they not
only butchered numbers of human beings in cold blood, and lost all fear
of wild beasts, but were also able to reveal what was happening at a
great distance, or even future events. We find similar practices, also,
nearer home. The Indians of Martha's Vineyard had, before they were
converted, their skillful magicians, who stood in league with evil
spirits, and as pawaws discovered stolen things, injured men at a
distance, and clearly foretold the coming of the whites. The pious
Brainert gives us full accounts of some of the converted Delawares, who,
after baptism, felt the evil spirit depart from them, and lost the power
of magic. One, a great and wicked magician, deplored bitterly his former
condition, when he was a slave of the evil one, and became, in the good
missionary's words: "an humble, devout, hearty, and loving Christian."
It is more difficult to explain the magic of the so-called Archbishop
Beissel, the head of the brotherhood at Ephrata, in Pennsylvania, who,
according to contemporary authorities "oppressed by his magic the father
and steward of the convent, Eckerling, to such a degree, that he left
his brethren and sought refuge in a hermit's hut in the forest!" The
spirits of departed brethren and sisters returned to the refectory at
this bishop's bidding; they partook of bread and meat, and even
conversed with their successors. There can be no doubt that Beissel,
abundantly and exceptionally gifted, possessed the power to put his
unhappy subordinates, already exhausted by asceticism of every kind,
into a state of ecstasy, in which they sincerely believed they saw these
spirits, and were subjected to magic influences. That such power has by
no means entirely departed from our continent, may be seen in the
atrocities perpetrated at the command of the negroes' Obee, of which
well-authenticated records abound in Florida and Louisiana, as well as
in Cuba.

The Indo-Germanic race has known and practised black magic from time
immemorial, and the Vendidad already explains it as an act which
Ahriman, the Evil Spirit, brought forth when overshadowed by death. In
Egypt it flourished for ages, and has never become entirely extinct.
Jannes and Jambres, who led the priests in their opposition to Moses (2.
Tim. iii. 8), have their successors in our day, and the very miracles
performed by these ancient charmers have been witnessed again and again
by modern travelers. Holy Writ abounds with instances of every kind of
magic; it speaks of astrology, and prophesying from arrows, from the
entrails of animals, and from dreams; but, strangely enough, the
charming of serpents and the evil eye are not mentioned, if we except
Balaam. The Kabbalah, on the contrary, speaks more than once of the evil
eye (ain hara), and all the southern nations of Europe, as well as the
Slavic races, fear its weird power.

The eye is, however, by no means employed only to work evil; by the side
of their _mal occhio_ the Italians have another gift, called
_attrativa_, which enables man, apparently by the force of his eye only,
to draw to himself all whom he wishes to attract. The well-known Saint
Filippo Neri thus not only won all whom he wished to gain over, by
looking at them, but even dogs left their beloved masters and followed
him everywhere. Cotton Mather tells us in his "Magnolia" that quakers
frequently by the eye only--though often, also, by anointing or
breathing upon them--compelled others to accompany them, to join their
communion, and to be in all things obedient to their bidding. Tom Case,
himself a quaker, certainly possessed the power of overwhelming those at
whom he looked fixedly for a while, to such a degree that they fell down
as if struck with epilepsy; once, at least, he turned even a mad bull,
by the force of his eye, till it approached him humbly and licked his
hand like a pet dog. Even in our own age Goethe has admitted the power
of certain men to attract others by the strength of their will, and
mentions an instance in which he himself, ardently wishing to see his
beloved one, forced her unconsciously to come and meet him halfway.
(Eckermann, iii. 201.)

It avails nothing to stigmatize a faith so deeply rooted and so
universal as mere superstition. Among the mass of errors which in the
course of ages have accumulated around the creed, the little grain of
truth, the indubitable power of man's mind to act through the eye, ought
not to be overlooked.

It is the same with the magic known as such to the two great nations of
antiquity. If the Greeks saw in Plato the son of Apollo, who came to his
mother Perictione in the shape of a serpent, and in Alexander the Great
the son of Jupiter Ammon, they probably intended merely to pay the same
compliment to their countrymen which modern nations convey by calling
their rulers Kings and Kaisers "by the Grace of God." But the
consistency with which higher beings came to visit earth-born man in the
shape of favored animals, is more than an accident. The sons of God came
to see the daughters of men, though it is not said in what form they
appeared, and the suggestion that they were the "giants upon the earth,"
mentioned in Holy Writ, is not supported; but exactly as the gods came
from Olympus in the shape of bulls and rams, so the evil spirits of the
Middle Ages appeared in the shape of rams and cats. A curious instance
of the mixture of truth and falsehood appears in this connection. It is
well-known that the Italians of the South look upon Virgil as one of the
greatest magicians that ever lived, and ascribe to his tomb even now
supernatural power. The poet himself had, of course, nothing whatever to
do with magic; but his reputation as a magician arose from the fact
that, next to the Bible, his verses became, at an early period, a
favorite means of consulting the future. _Sortes Virgilianæ_, the lines
which upon accidentally opening the volume first met the eye, were a
leading feature of the art known as stichomania.

The story of the greatest magician mentioned in the New Testament has
been thoroughly examined, and the main features, at least, are well
established. Simon Magus was a magician in the sense in which the
ancients used that term; but he possessed evidently, in addition, all
the powers claimed by better spiritualists, like Home in our day. A
native of Gitton, a small village of Samaria, he had early manifested
superior intellectual gifts, accompanied by an almost marvelous control
over the minds of others. By the aid of the former he produced a lofty
gnostic system, which crumbled, however, to pieces as soon as it came
into contact with the inspired system of Christianity. His influence
over others led him, in the arrogance which is inherent to natural man,
to consider himself as the Great Divine Power, which appeared in
different forms as Father, Son, and Spirit. He professed to be able to
make himself invisible and to pass, unimpeded, through solid
substances--precisely as was done in later ages by Saint Dominic and
other saints (Goerres. Mystic, ii. 576)--to bind and to loosen others as
well as himself at will; to open prison doors and to cause trees to grow
out of the bare ground. Before utterly rejecting his pretensions as mere
lies and tricks, we must bear in mind two facts: first, that modern
jugglers in India perform these very tricks in a manner as yet
unexplained, and secondly, that he, in all probability, possessed merely
the power of exciting others to a high state of exaltation, in which
they candidly believed they saw all these things. At all events, his
magic deeds were identical with the miracles of later saints, and as
these are enthroned in shrine and statue in Rome, so the Eternal City
erected to Simon Magus, also, a statue, and proclaimed him a god in the
days of Claudius! Another celebrated magician of the same race, was
Sedechias (Goerres. Mystic, iv. ii. 71), who lived in the days of Saint
Louis, and who, once, in order to convince the skeptics of his day of
the real existence of spirits, such as the Kabbalah admits, ordered them
to appear in human form before the eyes of the monarch. Instantly the
whole plain around the king's tent was alive with a vast army; long rows
of bright-colored tents dotted the lowlands, and on the slopes around
were encamped countless troops; whilst mounted squadrons appeared in the
air, performing marvelous evolutions. This was probably the first
instance of those airy hosts, which have ever since been seen in various

The Christian era gave to magic phenomena a new and specific character;
what was a miracle in apostolic times remained in the eyes of the
multitude a miracle to our day, when performed by saints of the
church--it became a crime and an abomination when the authors were
laymen, and yet both differed in no single feature. The most remarkable
representative of this dual nature of supernatural performances is, no
doubt, Dr. Faust, whom the great and pious Melanchthon states to have
well known as a native of the little village of Knittlingen, near his
own birth-place, and as a man of dissolute habits, whom the Devil
carried off in person. His motto, which has been discovered under a
portrait of his (Hauber's "Bibl. Mag."), was characteristic of his
faith: _Omne bonum et perfectum a Deo, imperfectum a diabolo_. His vast
learning, his great power over the elements, and the popular story of
his pact with the Evil One, made him a hero among the Germans, of whose
national tendencies he was then the typical representative.
Unfortunately, however, nearly every Christian land has had its own
Faust; such was, for instance, in Spain the famous Dr. Toralba, who
lived in the sixteenth century, and by the aid of a servile demon read
the future, healed the sick, traveled through the air, and even when he
fell into the hands of the Inquisition, obtained his release through the
Great Admiral of Castile. Gilles de Laval, who was publicly burnt in
1440, and Lady Fowlis, of Scotland, are parallel cases.

One of the most absurd ceremonies belonging to black magic, was the
well-known Taigheirm, of the Scotch Highlands, a demoniac sacrifice
evidently handed down from pagan times. The so-called magician procured
a large number of black cats, and devoted them, with solemn
incantations, and while burning offensive incense of various kinds, to
the evil spirits. Then the poor victims were spitted and slowly roasted
over a fire of coals, one after the other, but so that not a second's
pause occurred between the death of one and the sufferings of the next.
This horridly absurd sacrifice had to be continued for three days and
nights, during which the magician was not allowed to take any food or
drink. The consequence was, that if he did not drop down exhausted and
perish miserably, he became fearfully excited, and finally saw demons in
the shape of black cats who granted him all he desired (Horst.
"Deuteroscopia," ii. 184). It need hardly be added that in the state of
clairvoyance which he had reached, he only asked for what he well knew
was going to happen, and that all the fearful visions of hellish spirits
existed only in his overwrought imagination. But it will surprise many
to learn that such "taigheirms" were held as late as the last century,
and that a place is still shown on the island of Mull, where Allan
Maclean with his assistant, Lachlain Maclean, sacrificed black cats for
four days and nights in succession. The elder of the two passed for a
kind of high-priest and chief magician with the superstitious islanders;
the other was a young unmarried man of fine appearance, and more than
ordinary intelligence. Both survived the fearful ceremony, but sank
utterly exhausted to the ground, unable to obtain the revelation which
they had expected; nevertheless they retained the gift of second sight
for their lives.

It must not be imagined, finally, that the summoning of spirits is a
lost art; even in our day men are found who are willing to call the
departed from their resting-place, and to exhibit them to the eyes of
living men. The best explanation of this branch of magic was once given
by a learned professor, whom the Prince Elector of Brandenburg,
Frederick II., sent for from Halle, in order to learn from him how
spirits could be summoned. The savant declared that nothing was easier,
and supported his assertion by a number of actual performances. First
the spectator was prepared by strong beverages, such as the Egyptian
sorcerers already used to employ on similar occasions, and by the
burning of incense. Soon he fell into a kind of half-sleep, in which he
could still understand what was said, but no longer reflect upon the
sense of the words; gradually his brain became so disturbed, and his
imagination so highly excited, that he pictured to himself images
corresponding to the words which he heard, and called them up before his
mind's eye as realities. The magician, protected against the effects of
the incense by a sponge filled with an alcoholic mixture, then began to
converse with his visitor, and tried to learn from him all he could
concerning the person the latter wished to see, his shape, his clothes,
etc. Finally the victim was conducted into a dark room, where he was
suddenly asked by a stern, imperious voice: "Do you not see that woman
in white?" (or whatever the person might be,) and at once his
over-excited imagination led him to think that he really beheld what he
expected or wished to see. This was allowed to go on till he sank down
exhausted, or actually fainted away. When he recovered his
consciousness, he naturally recollected but imperfectly what he had seen
while in a state of great excitement, and his memory, impaired by the
intermediate utter exhaustion and fainting, failed to recall the small
errors or minute inaccuracies of his vision. All that was left of the
whole proceeding was a terrifying impression on his mind that he had
really seen the spirits of departed friends.

Such skillful manoeuvres were more than once employed for sinister
purposes. Thus it is a well-known historical fact that the men who
obtained control over King Frederick William II., after his ascension to
the throne, and held it for a time by the visions which they showed him,
employed means like these to summon the spirits he wished to see. The
master in this branch of black magic was undoubtedly Joseph Balsamo, the
Count Cagliostro of French history. He was neither a magician in the
true sense of the word, nor even a religious enthusiast, but merely an
accomplished juggler and swindler, who had acquired, by natural
endowment, patient study, and consummate art, a great power over the
minds of others. He played upon the imagination of men as upon a
familiar instrument, and the greatest philosophers were as easily
victimized by him as the most clear-sighted women, in spite of the
natural instinct which generally protects the latter against such
imposition. His secret--as far as the summoning of the spirits of the
departed is concerned--has died with him, but that enlightened,
conscientious men candidly believed they had been shown disembodied
spirits, is too well established by memories of French and Dutch writers
to be doubted. In the meetings of his "lodges of Egyptian Freemasons"
he, as Grand Cophtha, or those whom he had qualified by breathing upon
them, employed a boy or a girl, frequently called up at haphazard from
the street, but at other times carefully prepared for the purpose, to
look into the hand or a basin of water. The poor child was, however,
first made half-unconscious, being anointed with the "oil of wisdom," no
doubt an intoxicating compound, and after numerous ceremonies, carried
into a recess called the Tabernacle, and ordered to look into the hand
or a basin of water. After the assembly had prayed for some time, the
"Dove," as they called the child, was asked what he saw. Ordinarily he
beheld first an angel or a priest--probably the image of Cagliostro
himself in his sacerdotal robes--but frequently also monkeys, the
offspring of a skeptical imagination. Then followed more or less
interesting revelations, some utterly absurd, others of real interest,
and at times actual predictions of future events. Cagliostro himself,
during his last trial before the Inquisition of Rome, while readily
confessing a large number of impostures, stoutly maintained the
genuineness of these communications and insisted that they were the
effects of a special power granted by God. His assertion has some value,
as the shrewd man knew very well how much more he was likely to gain by
a prompt avowal than by such a denial; his wife, also, although his
accomplice in former years, and now by no means disposed to spare her
quasi-husband, always stated that this was a true mystery which she had
never been able to fathom. If we add to these considerations the fact
that numerous masters of lodges, even in Holland and England, obtained
the same results, and that they cannot all have been impostors or
deluded victims, there remains enough in these well-established
phenomena to ascribe them to a mysterious, magic power. (_Compendio
della vita, etc. di G. Balsamo_, Roma, 1791.) It is in fact quite
evident that the unfortunate juggler possessed in a very rare degree a
power akin to that practised by a Mesmer, a Home, and other men of that
class, without having the sense to understand its true nature or the
ambition to employ it for other than the lowest selfish purposes. Trials
of magicians, who have conjured up the dead and compelled them to reveal
the future, are still taking place every now and then; in the year 1850
not less than four men, together with their associates, were accused of
this crime in enlightened Germany, and the proceedings in one case,
which occurred in Munich, created no small sensation.

Black magic, therefore, must also be looked upon as by no means a mere
illusion, much less as the work of evil spirits. The results it obtains
at times are the work of man himself, and exist only within his own
conscience. But if man can produce such marvelous effects, which lie
apparently beyond the range of the material world, how much more must
the Creator and Preserver of all things be able to call forth events
which transcend--to our mind--the limits of the tangible world. Such
occurrences, when they have a higher moral or religious purpose in view,
we call Miracles, and they remain incomprehensible for all whose
knowledge is confined to the physical world. Above the laws of nature
there rules the Divine Will, which can do what Nature cannot do, and
which we can only begin to understand when we bear in mind the fact that
by the side of the visible order of the world or above it, there exist
spiritual laws as well as spiritual beings. In a miracle, powers are
rendered active which ordinarily remain inactive, but which exist none
the less permanently in the world. Hence all great thinkers have readily
admitted the existence of miracles: a Locke and a Leibnitz as well as,
more recently, a Stahl and a Schopenhauer. Locke, in his "Discourse of
Miracles," goes so far as to call them the very credentials of a
messenger sent from God, and asserts that Moses and Christ have alike
authenticated the truth and the divine character of their revelations by
miracles. Even their possible continuance is believed in by those who
hope that men will ever continue among us who "have tasted the good word
of God and _the powers of the world to come_." (Hebrews vi. 5.)



    "To sleep--perchance to dream."


Of the two parts of our being, one, spiritual and heaven-born, is always
active, the other, the bodily, earth-born part, requires frequent and
regular rest in sleep. During this time of repose, however, the mind
also ceases apparently its operations, merely, however, because it has
no longer servants at its command, who are willing and able to give
expression to its activity. When the senses are asleep the mind is
deprived of the usual means of communication with the outer world; but
this does not necessarily condemn it to inaction. On the contrary, it
has often been maintained that the mind is most active and capable of
the highest achievements when released from its usual bondage to the
senses. Already Æschylus in his "Eumenides" says:

    The mind of sleepers acts more cunningly;
    The glare of day conceals the fate of men.

It seems, however, as if the intermediate state between the full
activity of wakeful life and the complete repose of the senses in sound
sleep, is most favorable to the development of such magic phenomena as
occur in dreams. The fact that the susceptibility of the mind is at
that time peculiarly great is intimately connected with the statement
recorded in Holy Writ, that God frequently revealed His will to men in
dreams. If we admit the antiquity of the book of Job, we see there the
earliest known announcement of this connection. "In a dream, in a vision
of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the
bed; then He openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruction"
(xxxiii. 15). Next we are told that "God came to Abimelech in a dream by
night" (Gen. xx. 3), and from that time we hear of similar revelations
made by night in dreams throughout the whole history of the chosen
people. Frequently, however, the dreams are called visions. Thus Balaam
prophesied: "He hath said, which heard the words of God and knew the
knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty,
falling into a trance, but having his eyes open." Daniel had his secret
"revealed in a night vision," but such favor was denied to Saul, for
"the Lord answered him not, neither by dream nor by Urim, nor by
prophets." To Solomon, on the contrary, "the Lord appeared in a dream by
night" many times; Joel was promised that "old men should dream dreams
and young men shall see visions," a pledge quoted by St. Peter as having
been amply fulfilled in his day (Acts ii. 17). For dreams did not lose
their importance at the coming of Christ. To his reputed father "the
Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream," bidding him to take Mary to his
wife; again he was warned in a dream "not to return to Herod," and the
Lord spake "to Paul in the night by a vision" more than once, as he was
by a dream also sent to Macedonia.

What in these and similar cases is accepted as divine inspiration, is in
secular history generally looked upon as mysterious, magic revelation;
but the phenomena remain the same in all instances, and those appearing
in dreams are identical with the symptoms exhibited in revelations
occurring during the day, when the favored recipient is wide awake.
Clairvoyance by night differs in no way from clairvoyance during the
day; a state of ecstasy, a trance, is necessary in either case. That
prophetic dreams generally remain unknown--outside of Holy Writ--must be
ascribed to the fact that they leave no recollection behind, unless they
are continued into a state of half-sleep, from which a sudden awakening
takes place; and soon then they are invariably clothed in some allegoric
form, and become liable to be erroneously or, at least, imperfectly
interpreted. Thus dreams, like trances, often prefigure death under the
form of a journey, and represent the dying man as an uprooted tree, a
withered flower, or a drowning swimmer. The early Christians, foreseeing
martyrdom, very frequently received in dreams an intimation of their
impending fate under such symbolic forms, and, what was quite peculiar
to their visions was that they often extended to the pagan jailors and
keepers, whose minds had been excited by witnessing the sufferings and
the constancy of their victims, and who, in many cases, became, in
consequence of these dreams, converts to the new faith. The facility,
however, with which such symbols can be misunderstood, has been as fatal
to dreams in the estimation of most men, as the inaccurate manner in
which the real revelation is often presented to the still half-sleeping
mind. Hence the popular belief that dreams "go by contraries," as vulgar
slang expresses it. This faith is based upon the well-established fact
that a genuine dream, in the act of impressing itself upon memory, often
suffers not only mutilation but actual reversion. Thus Rogers saw, in a
dream, Hikey, a small, weak man, murder a powerful giant, Caulfield--in
the actual encounter, which he had really foreseen, the latter killed
his puny antagonist. It is, therefore, as dangerous to "believe in
dreams," as to deny their value altogether and to ascribe all
realizations of dreams, with, Macnish, to mere accident. ("Sleep," p.
81.) Men of cool judgment and clear mind have at all times been found on
the side of believers, and even our great Franklin, with his eminently
practical mind and well-known aversion to every kind of superstition,
firmly trusted in views which he believed to have come to him in dreams.

Antiquity believed in dreams, not only as means by which the Gods
revealed their will, but as special favors accorded to fortunate men.
Thus we are told that once two men were traveling together from Arcadia
to Megara; when they reached the city, one of the two remained at an
inn, while the other went to stay with a a friend. Both, wearied by the
journey, retired to rest; but the traveler who was at a private house
dreamt in the night that his friend urged him to come to his assistance,
as the innkeeper was about to murder him. Terrified by the vivid dream,
he jumped up; but, upon reflection, he concluded that the whole was but
an idle fancy, and lay down again. Thereupon the dream was repeated; but
this time his friend added, that it was too late to come to his aid now,
as he had been murdered, and his body would in the morning be carried
out of the city, concealed under a load of manure. This second dream
made such an impression upon the Arcadian that he went at an early hour
to the city gate, and to his amazement soon saw a wagon loaded with
manure approaching the place where he stood. He stopped the driver and
asked him what he had hidden in his wagon? The man fled, trembling; the
body of the murdered friend was found, and the treacherous innkeeper
paid with his life for his crime. (Cicero, _De divin._)

One of the oldest of well-authenticated dreams in Christian times,
revealed to St. Basil the death of Julian the Apostate. It seemed to him
in his sleep that he saw the martyr Mercurius receive from God the order
to kill the tyrant, and after a short time return and say: "O Lord,
Julian is killed as Thou hast commanded!" The saint was so firmly
convinced of having received a direct revelation from heaven, that he
immediately made the news known to the people, and thus gained new honor
when the official information at last arrived. (_Vita S. Basil._, etc.,
p. 692.) Here, also, the deep-seated hatred of the Christian priest
against the Emperor, who dared to renew the worship of the ancient gods
of the Pagans, no doubt suggested the vivid dream, while, on the other
hand, the transmission of the actual revelation was so imperfect as to
change the real occurrence--Julian's death by a Persian lance--according
to the familiar way of thinking of St. Basil, into his execution at
divine command by a holy martyr. There is no lack of renowned men of all
ages who have had their remarkable dreams, and who have, fortunately for
future investigation, recorded them carefully. Thus Melanchthon tells us
that he was at a convent with a certain Dr. Jonas, when letters reached
him requesting him to convey to his friend the sad news of his
daughter's sudden death. The great reformer was at a loss how to
discharge the painful duty, and driven by an instinctive impulse, asked
Dr. Jonas whether he had ever had any remarkable dreams. The latter
replied that he had dreamt, during the preceding night, of his return
home, and of the joyful welcome he had met from all his family, except
his oldest daughter, who had not appeared. Thereupon Melanchthon told
him that his dream had been true, and that he would never see his
daughter again, as she had been summoned to her eternal home. Petrarch
had a dream which was evidently also the reflex of his thoughts in the
day-time, but accompanied by a direct revelation. He had been, for some
days, very anxious about the health of his patron, a Colonna, who was
Bishop of Lombez, and one night saw himself in a dream walking by his
friend's side, but unable to keep pace with him; the bishop walked
faster and faster, bidding him stay behind, and when the poet insisted
upon following him, he suddenly assumed a death-like appearance, and
said, "No, I will not have you go with me now!" During the same night in
which Petrarch had this dream in Parma, the bishop died at his palace in
Lombez. The well-known Thomas Wotton, also, dreamt a short time before
his death, while residing in Kent, that he saw five persons commit a
robbery at Oxford. On the following day he added a postscript to a
letter which he had written to his son Henry, then a student at that
university, in which he mentioned his dream, and asked if such a robbery
had really taken place. The letter reached the young man on the morning
after the crime had been committed, when town and university were alike
in a state of intense excitement. He made the letter immediately known
to the authorities, who found in the account of the dream so accurate a
description of the robbers, that they were enabled at once to ascertain
who were the guilty persons, and to have them arrested before they could
escape. (Beaumont, p. 223.) The great German poet Gustav Schwab received
the first intimation of the French Revolution in 1848 through a
remarkable dream which his daughter had in the night preceding the 24th
of February. She had been attacked by a malignant fever, and was very
restless and nervously excited; during that night she saw, in her
feverish dreams, the streets of Paris filled with excited crowds, and
was forced to witness the most fearful scenes. When her father came to
her bedside next morning, she gave him a minute description of the
building of barricades, the bloody encounters between the troops and the
citizens, and of a number of sad tragedies which she had seen enacted in
the narrow and dark streets of the great city. The father, though deeply
impressed by the vivid character of the dream, ascribed it to a
reminiscence of the scenes enacted during the Revolution of 1789, and
dismissed the subject, although his child insisted upon the thoroughly
modern character of the buildings, and the costumes and manners of all
she had seen. Great was, therefore, the amazement of the poet and of all
who had heard of the dream, when, several days afterwards, the first
news reached them of the expulsion of the Orleans family, and much
greater still when the papers brought, one by one, descriptions of the
scenes which the feverish dream had enabled the girl to see in minute
detail, and yet with unerring accuracy. It is true that the poet, in
whose biography the dream with all the attending circumstances is
mentioned at full length, had for years anticipated such a revolution,
and often, with a poet's graphic power, conjured up the scenes that
were likely to happen whenever the day of the tempest should arrive.
Thus his daughter's mind had, no doubt, long been filled with images of
this kind, and was in a state peculiarly susceptible for impressions
connected with the subject. There remains, however, the magic phenomenon
that she saw, not a poet's fiction, but actual occurrences with all
their details, and saw them in the very night during which they
happened. In the papers of Sir Robert Peel was found a note concerning
his journey from Antibes to Nice, in 1854. He was on board the steamer
Erculano, which, on the 25th of April, so violently collided with
another steamer, the Sicilia, that it sank immediately, and two-thirds
of the passengers perished. Among those who were rescued were the great
English statesman and the maid of two ladies, the wife and the daughter
of a counselor of a French court of justice at Dijon. The young girl had
had a presentiment of impending evil, but her wish to postpone the
journey had been overruled. The father, also, though knowing nothing of
the precise whereabouts of his beloved ones, had been much troubled in
mind about their safety, and in the very night in which the accident
happened, saw the whole occurrence in a harassing dream. He distinctly
beheld the vessel disappear in the waves, and a number of victims, among
whom were his wife and his child, struggling for life, till they finally
perished. He awoke in a state of great anguish, summoned his servants to
keep him company, and told them what he had dreamt. A few hours later
the telegraph informed him of the accident, and of his own grievous
affliction. (_Journ. de l'âme_, Févr. 1857, p. 253.)

While in these dreams events were made known which happened at the same
time, in other dreams the future itself is revealed. Cicero, in his work
on Divination (I. 27, and II. 66), and Valerius Maximus have preserved a
number of such dream-visions, which were famous already in the days of
antiquity; a dream concerning the tyrant Dionysius was especially well

It seems that a woman, called Himera, found herself in a dream among the
gods on Olympus, and there saw chained to the throne of Jupiter a large
man with red hair and spotted countenance. When she asked the divine
messenger who had carried her to those regions, who that man was, he
told her it was the scourge of Italy and Sicily, a man who, when
unchained, would destroy many cities. She related her dream on the
following morning to her friends, but found no explanation, till several
years afterwards, when Dionysius ascended the throne. She happened to be
in the crowd which had assembled to witness the triumph of the new
monarch, and when she saw the tyrant, she uttered a loud cry, for she
had recognized in him the man in chains under Jupiter's throne. The cry
attracted attention; she was brought before Dionysius, forced to relate
her dream, and sent to be executed. Equally well known was the
remarkable dream which Socrates had a short time before his death. His
sentence had already been passed, but the day for its execution was not
yet made known, when Crito, one of his friends, came to him and informed
him that it would probably be ordered for the next morning. The great
philosopher replied with his usual calmness: "If such is the will of the
gods, be it so; but I do not think it will be to-morrow. I had, just
before you entered, a sweet dream. A woman of transcending beauty, and
dressed in a long white robe, appeared to me, called me by name, and
said, 'In three days you will return to your beloved Phthia' (Socrates'
native place)." He did not die till the third day.

Alexander the Great came more than once, during his remarkable career,
in peculiar contact with prophetic dreams. He was thus informed of the
coming of Cassander long before he ever saw him, and even of the
influence which the still unknown friend would have on his fate. When
the latter at last appeared at court, Alexander looked at him long and
anxiously, and recognized in him the man he had so often seen in his
dreams. It so happened, however, that before his suspicions assumed a
positive form, a Greek distich was mentioned to him, written to prove
the utter worthlessness of all dreams, and the effect of these lines,
combined with the discovery that Cassander was the son of his beloved
Antipater, induced him to lay aside all apprehensions. Nevertheless, his
friend subsequently poisoned him in cold blood. Not less famous was the
dream which warned Caius Gracchus of his own sad fate. He saw in his
sleep the shadow of his brother Tiberius, and heard him announce in a
clear voice, that Caius also would share his tragic end, and be murdered
like himself in the Capitol. The great Roman frequently related this
dream, and the historian Coelius records that he heard it repeated
during Gracchus' life-time. It is well known that the latter afterwards
became a tribune, and was killed while he held that office, in the same
manner as his brother. Cicero also had his warning dream. He was
escaping from his enemies, who had driven him out of Rome, and seeking
safety in his Antium villa. Here he dreamt, one night, that, as he was
wandering through a waste, deserted country, the Consul Marius met him,
accompanied by the usual retinue, and adorned with all the insignia of
his rank, and asked him why he was so melancholy, and why he had fled
from Rome. When he had answered the question, Marius took him by his
right hand, and summoning his chief officer to his side, ordered him to
carry the great orator to the temple of Jupiter, built by Marius
himself, while he assured Cicero he would there meet with new hopes. It
was afterwards ascertained that at the very hour of the dream, the
Senate had been discussing in the temple of Jupiter the speedy return of
Cicero. It would have been well for the great Cæsar, also, if he had
deigned to listen to the warning voice of dreams, for in the night
before his murder, his wife, Calphurnia, saw him, in a dream, fall
wounded and copiously bleeding into her arms, and there end his life.
She told him of her dream, and on her knees besought him not to go out
on that day; but Cæsar, fearing he might be suspected of giving undue
weight to a woman's dreams, made light of her fears, went to the Senate,
and met his tragic fate. Among later Romans the Emperor Theodosius was
most strikingly favored by dreams, if we may rely upon the statement of
Ammianus Marcellinus (I. 29). Two courtiers, anxious to ascertain who
should succeed the Emperor Valens on the throne, employed a kind of
magic instrument, resembling the modern psychograph, and succeeded in
deciphering the letters Theod. Their discovery became known to the
jealous emperor, who ordered not only Theodorus, his second secretary of
state, to be executed, but with him a large number of eminent personages
whose names began with the ominous five letters. For some unknown
reasons, Theodosius, then in Spain, escaped his suspicions, and yet it
was he, who, when Valens fell in the war against the Goths, was summoned
home by the next emperor, Gratianus, to save the empire and assume the
supreme command of the army. When the successful general returned to
Byzantium to make his report to the emperor, he had himself a dream in
which he saw the great Patriarch of Antioch, Meletius, invest him with
the purple, and place the imperial crown upon his head. Gratianus,
struck by the brilliancy of the victory obtained at the moment of
supreme danger, made Theodosius Emperor of the East, and returned to
Rome. During the following year (380) a great council was held in
Constantinople, and here, amid a crowd of assembled dignitaries of the
church, Theodosius instantly recognized the Bishop of Antioch, whom he
had never seen except in his dream.

It is not generally known that the prediction of future greatness which
Shakespeare causes the three witches to convey to Macbeth, rests on an
historic basis. The announcement came to him, however, probably not at
an actual meeting, but by means of a prophetic dream, which presented to
the ambitious chieftain the appearance of an encounter with unearthly
agents. This presumption is strengthened by the first notice of the
mysterious event, which occurs, it is believed, in "Wyntownis Cronykil,"
where Macbeth is reported to have had a vivid dream of three weird
women, who foretold him his fate. Boethius derived his information from
this source, and for unknown reasons added not only Banquo as a witness
of the scene, but described it, also, first of all chroniclers, as an
actual meeting in a forest.

The report that the discovery of the famous Venus of Milo was due to a
dream, is not improbable, but is as yet without sufficient
authentication. The French Consul, Brest, who was a resident of Milo,
dreamed, it is stated, two nights in succession, that he had caused
diggings to be made at a certain place in the island and that his
efforts had been rewarded by the discovery of a beautiful statue. He
paid no attention to the dream; but it was repeated a third time, and
now so distinctly that he not only saw clearly all the surroundings,
but, also, the traces of a recent fire on the spot that had been pointed
out to him before. When he went on the following day to the place, he
instantly recognized the traces of fire, began his researches, and
discovered not only the Venus, now the glory of the Louvre, but, also,
several other most valuable statues. The well-known dream concerning
Major André is open to the same objections, although it is quoted in
good faith by Mrs. Crowe (i., p. 59). We are told that the Rev. Mr.
Cunningham, the poet, saw in a dream a man who was captured by armed
soldiers and hanged on a tree. To his utter consternation, he recognized
on the following day, in Major André, who was then for the first time
presented to him, the person he had seen in his dream. The latter was
then just on the point of embarking for America, where he met with his
sad fate.

A large number of dreams which are looked upon as prophetic, are nothing
more than the result of impressions made on the mind during sleep by
some bodily sensation. A swelling or an inflammation, for instance, is
frequently announced beforehand by pain in the affected part of the
body; the mind receives through the nerves an impression of this pain
and clothes it, during sleep and in a dream, into some familiar garb,
the biting of a serpent, the sting of an insect, or, even, the stab of
a dagger. An occasional coincidence serves to lend prestige to such
simple and perfectly natural dreams. Thus Stilling ("Jenseits," p. 284)
records the well-known story of a young man in Padua, who dreamed one
night that he was bitten by one of the marble lions which stand before
the church of St. Justina. Passing by the place, on the following day,
with some companions, he recalled the dream, and putting his hand into
the mouth of one of the lions, he said, defiantly: "Look at the fierce
lion that bit me last night." But at the same moment he uttered a
piercing cry and drew back his hand in great terror: a scorpion, hid in
the lion's mouth, had stung him, and the poor youth died of the venom.
The German poet Conrad Gessner dreamed, in a similar manner, that a
snake bit him in his left breast; the matter was completely forgotten,
when five days later a slight rising appeared on the spot, which
speedily developed itself into a fatal ulcer, and caused his death in a
short time.

Far more interesting, and occasionally productive of good results, are
dreams which might be called retrospective, inasmuch as they reveal
events of the past, which stand in some connection with present or
impending necessities. Many of these, no doubt, arise simply from the
recovery of forgotten facts in our memory; others, however, cannot be
thus explained. Justinus tells us of Dido's dream, in which she saw her
departed husband, Sichæus, who pointed out to her his concealed
treasures and advised her to seek safety in flight. St. Augustine also
has an account of a father who after death appeared to his son and
showed him a receipted account, the loss of which had caused his heir
much anxiety. (_De cura pro mortuis_, ch. xi.) After Dante's death the
thirteenth canto of his Paradise could nowhere be found, and the
apparent loss filled all Italy with grief and sorrow. His son, Pietro
Alighieri, however, saw a long time afterwards, in a dream, his father,
who came to his bedside and told him that the missing papers were
concealed under a certain plank near the window at which he had been in
the habit of writing. It was only when all other researches had proved
vain, that, attention was paid to the dream; but when the plank was
examined the canto was found in the precise place which the dream had

A similar dream of quite recent occurrence was accidentally more
thoroughly authenticated than is generally the case with such events.
The beautiful wife of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild of Paris had lost a
valuable ring while hunting in the woods near her castle of Ferrières.
It so happened that early associations made the jewel specially dear to
her, and she felt the loss grievously; a reward of fifteen hundred
francs was, therefore, offered at once for its recovery. The night after
the hunt, the daughter of one of the keepers saw in a dream an unknown
man of imposing appearance, who told her to go at daybreak to a certain
crossroad in the forest, where she would find the ring at the foot of a
beech-tree, close to the highway. She awakes, dresses herself at once,
and goes to the place of which she has dreamed; after half an hour's
walk she reaches the crossroads and almost at the same moment sees
something glittering and shining like a firefly, picks it up, and
behold! it is the ring. The girl had not even seen the hunt, nor did she
know anything of the loss of the jewel; the whole occurrence, and the
place where it was lost, all were pointed out to her in her dream. (_Le
Monde Illustré_, Dec. 15, 1860).

It has already been mentioned that the question has often been mooted
whether the mind was really quite at rest during sleep, or still
operative in dreams. Some authors deny its activity altogether; others
admit a partial activity. The philosopher Kant went so far as to
maintain that perceptions had during sleep were clearer and fuller than
those of the day, because of the perfect rest of the other senses.
Recollection, alone, he added, was missing, because the mind acted in
sleep without the coöperation of the body.

There are, however, certain facts which seem to prove that the mind
does, at least, not altogether cease its activity while the body is
asleep. How else could we explain the power many persons undoubtedly
possess to awake at a fixed hour, and the success with which, more than
once, great mental efforts have been made during profound sleep? Of the
latter, Tartini's famous sonata is a striking instance. He had
endeavored in vain to finish this great work; inspiration would not
come, and he had abandoned the task in despair. During the night he had
a dream in which he once more tried his best, but in vain; at the moment
of despair, however, the Devil appeared to him and promised to finish
the work in return for his soul. The composer, nothing loath, surrenders
his soul and hears his magnificent work gloriously completed on the
violin. He wakes up in perfect delight, goes to his desk, and at once
writes down his "Devil's Sonata." Even children are known occasionally
to be able to give intelligent answers while fast asleep; the questions,
however, must be in accordance with the current of their thoughts,
otherwise they are apt to be aroused. A case is quoted by Reil of two
soldiers who used, at times, to keep up an uninterrupted conversation
during a whole night, while they were to all appearances fast asleep. A
lady, also, was unable to refuse answers to questions put to her at
night, and had at last to lock herself in carefully whenever she went to

Hence it is that some of the most profound thinkers who have discussed
the subject of dreams, like Descartes and Leibnitz, Jouffroy and Dugald
Stewart, Richard and Carus, with a number of others, assert the
uninterrupted wakefulness of the mind. Some authors believe that the
spiritual part of man needs no sleep, but delights in the comfort of
feeling that the body is in perfect repose, and of forgetting, by these
means, for a time the troubles of daily life, and the responsibilities
of our earthly existence. They base this view upon the fact, that, as
far as we can judge, the mind is, during sleep, independent of the body
and the outer world. Thinking is quite possible during sleep without
dreaming, and certain bodily sensations, even, are correctly perceived,
as when we turn over in our sleep, because lying on one side produces
pain or uneasiness. We not only talk while we are asleep, but laugh or
weep, sigh or groan. A slight noise, a whispered word, affect the course
of our thoughts, and produce new images in our dreams, as certain
affections and even the pressure upon certain organs are sure to produce
invariably the same dreams. Space and time disappear, however, and
naturally, because we can measure them only by the aid of our senses,
and these are, for the time, inactive. Hence Dugald Stewart ascribes the
manner in which a moment's dream often comprises a year, or a whole
lifetime, to the fact that, when we are asleep, the images created by
our imagination appear to be realities, while those which we form when
we are awake are known to us to be mere fictions, and hence not subject
to the laws of time.

It will not surprise us, therefore, to find that this activity of the
mind, deprived of the usual means of making itself known to others by
gesture, sound, or action, seeks frequently a symbolical utterance, and
this is the grain of truth here also hid under the vast amount of
rubbish, known as the interpretation of dreams. Troubles and
difficulties may thus appear as storms; sorrow and grief as tears;
troubled waters may represent pain, and smooth ice impending danger; a
dry river-bed an approaching famine, and pretty flowers great joy to
come, provided, always, we are disposed to admit a higher class of
prophetic dreams. Such a view is supported by high authority, for since
the days of Aristotle, great writers, divines as well as philosophers,
have endeavored to classify dreams according to their nature and
importance. The great reformer, Melanchthon, in his work on the soul,
divided them into common dreams, void of importance; prophetic dreams,
arising from the individual gifts of the sleeper; divine dreams,
inspired by God either directly or through the agency of angels, and
finally, demoniac dreams, such as the witches' sabbath. One great
difficulty attending all such classification arises, however, from the
well-known fact, already alluded to, that external sensations are by far
the most frequent causes of dreams. Even these have been systematically
arranged by some writers, most successfully, perhaps, in the work of
Maine de Biran, but he overlooks again the numerous cases in which
external noises and similar accidents produce a whole train of thoughts.
Thus Pope dreamed of a Spaniard who impudently entered his library,
ransacked the books on the shelves, and turned a deaf ear to all his
remonstrances. The impression was so forcible that he questioned all his
servants, and investigated the matter thoroughly, till he was finally
forced to acknowledge that the whole transaction was a dream caused by
the fall of a book in his library, which he heard in his sleep. A still
more remarkable case occurred once in a hotel in Dantzic, where not one
person only, but all the guests, without exception, dreamed of the
sudden arrival of a number of travelers, who disturbed the whole house,
and took possession of their rooms with unusual clatter and noise. Not
one had arrived, but during the night a violent storm had arisen,
causing doors to slam and window-shutters to flap against the house,
noises which had aroused in more than fifty people precisely the same



    Concipiendis visionibus quas phantasias vocant.


Visions, that is, the perception of apparently tangible objects in the
outer world, which only exist in our imagination, have been known from
time immemorial among all nations on earth. They are, in themselves,
perfectly natural, and can frequently be traced back without difficulty
to bodily affections or a disordered state of the mind, so that many
eminent physicians dispose of them curtly as mere incidental symptoms of
congestion or neuralgia. They may present real men and things, known
beforehand, and now reproduced in such a manner as to appear
objectively; or they may be ideal forms, the product of the moment, and
incompatible with the laws of actual life. Persons who have visions and
know nothing of their true nature, are apt to become intensely excited,
as if they had been transferred into another world. The images they
behold seem to them of supernatural origin, and may inspire them with
lofty thoughts and noble impulses, but only too frequently they disturb
their peace of mind and lead them to crime or despair.

When visions extend to other senses besides sight, and the peculiar
state of mind by which they are caused affects different parts of the
body at once, they are called hallucinations; most frequent among insane
people, of whom, according to Esquirol, eighty in a hundred are thus
affected, they are generally quite insignificant; while visions through
the eye, are often accompanied by very remarkable magic phenomena. Thus
the visions which great men like Cromwell and Descartes, Byron or
Goethe, record of their own experience, were evidently signs of the
great energy of their mental life, while in others they are as clearly
symptoms of disease. Ascribed by the ancients to divine influence,
Christianity has invariably denounced them--when not indubitably
inspired by God, as in the case of the martyr Stephen and the apostle
St. John--as works of the Devil. At all times they have been
communicated to others, either by contagion or, in rare cases, by the
imposition of hands, as they have been artificially produced. Thus
extreme bodily fatigue and utter prostration after long illness are apt
to cause hallucinations. Albert Smith, for instance, while ascending
Mont Blanc, and feeling utterly exhausted, saw all his surroundings
clearly with his eyes, and yet, at the same time, beheld marvelous
things with the so-called inner sense. A Swiss who, in 1848, during a
severe cold, crossed from Wallis to Kandersteg by the famous Gemmi Pass,
eight thousand feet high, saw on his way a number of men shoveling the
snow from his path, fellow-travelers climbing up on all sides, and
rolling masses of snow which changed into dogs; he heard the blows of
axes and the laughing and singing of distant shepherds, while his road
was utterly deserted, and not a human soul within many miles. His hands
and feet were found frozen when he arrived at last at his quarters for
the night, and ten days later he died from the effects of his exposure.
During the retreat of the French from Russia the poor sufferers, frozen
and famished, were continually tormented by similar hallucinations,
which increased their sufferings at times to such a degree as to lead
them to commit suicide. Another frequent cause of visions is
long-continued fasting combined with more or less ascetic devotion. This
is said to explain why the prophets of the Old Testament were so
vigorously forbidden to indulge in wine or rich fare. Thus Aaron was
told: "Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee,
when ye go into the tabernacle" (Levit. x. 9); Moses remained forty
days, and "neither did eat bread nor drink wine," when he was on Mount
Sinai (Deuter. ix. 9); the Nazarites were ordered not to "drink any
liquor of grapes, nor to eat moist grapes or dried," and even to abstain
from vinegar (Numbers vi. 3), and Daniel and his companions had nothing
but "pulse to eat and water to drink" (Dan. i. 12), in order to prepare
them for receiving "wisdom and knowledge and the understanding of dreams
and visions."

Narcotics also, and, in our day, most of the anæsthetics can produce
visions and hallucinations, but the result is in all such cases much
less interesting than when they are produced spontaneously. Tobacco and
opium, betel, hasheesh, and coca are the principal means employed; but
Siberia has besides its narcotic mushrooms, Polynesia its ava, New
Granada and the Himalaya the thorn-apple, Florida its emetic apalachine,
and the northern regions of America and Europe have their ledum. The
most effective among these narcotics seems to be the Indian hemp, since
the visions it produces surpass even the marvelous effects of opium, as
has been recently again most graphically described by Bayard Taylor.
Laughing-gas, also, has frequently similar effects, and affords,
besides, the precious privilege of freedom from the painful, often
excruciating consequences of other narcotics. When perfumes are employed
for the express purpose of producing visions, it is difficult to
ascertain how much is due to their influence, and how much to the
over-excited mind of the seer. Benvenuto Cellini describes--though
probably not in the most trustworthy manner--the amazing effect produced
upon himself and a boy by his side, by the perfumes which a priest burnt
in the Coliseum. The whole vast building seemed to him filled with
demons, and the boy saw thousands of threatening men, four huge giants,
and fire bursting out in countless places. The great artist was told, at
the same time, that a great danger was threatening him, and that he
would surely lose his beloved Angelica within the month; both events
occurred as predicted, and thus proved that in this case at least magic
phenomena had accompanied the visions. (_Goethe, B. Cellini_, l. iv. ch.

Among other external causes which are apt to produce visions, must be
mentioned violent motions, especially when they are revolving, as is the
case with the Shamans of the Laplanders and the dancing Dervishes of the
East; self-inflicted wounds, such as the priests of Baal caused in order
to excite their power of divination, and long-continued imprisonment, as
illustrated in the well-known cases of Benvenuto Cellini and Silvio
Pellico. The latter was constantly tormented by sighs or suppressed
laughter which he heard in his dungeon; then by invisible hands pulling
at his dress, knocking down his books or trying to put out his light,
till he began seriously to suspect that he might be the victim of
invisible malignant powers. Fortunately all these phenomena disappeared
at break of day, and thus his vigorous mind, supported by true piety,
was enabled to keep his judgment uninjured.

Diseases of every kind are a fruitful source of visions and some are
rarely without them; but the character of visions differs according to
the nature of the affections. Persons who suffer with the liver have
melancholy, consumptive patients have cheerful visions. Epileptics often
see fearful spectres during their paroxysms, and persons bitten by mad
dogs see the animal that has caused their sufferings. The case of the
bookseller Nicolai in Berlin is well known; the disease of which he
suffered, is not only very common in some parts of Russia, but
productive of precisely the same symptoms. The patients experience first
a sensation of great despondency, followed by a period of profound
melancholy, during which they see themselves surrounded by a number of
persons, with whom they converse and quarrel, half conscious of their
own delusion and yet not able to master it wholly. They are generally
bled, whereupon the images become transparent and shrink into smaller
and smaller space, till they finally disappear entirely. Affections of
the heart and the subsequent unequal distribution of the blood through
the system are apt to produce peculiar sounds, which at times fashion
themselves into loud and harmonious pieces. The excitement usually
attendant upon specially fatal plagues and contagious diseases increases
the tendency which the latter naturally have to cause hallucinations.
During a plague in the reign of Justinian, men were seen walking through
the crowd and touching here and there a person; the latter were at once
attacked by the disease and invariably succumbed. Upon another such
occasion marks and spots appeared on the clothing of those who had
caught the contagion, as if made by invisible hands, the sufferers began
next to see a number of spectres and died in a short time. The same
symptoms have accompanied the cholera in modern times, and more than
once strange, utterly unknown persons were not only seen but heard, as
they were conversing with others; what they said was written down in
many cases, and proved to be predictions of approaching visits of the
dread disease to neighboring houses. A magic power of foresight seems in
these cases to be developed by the extreme excitement or deep anxiety,
but the unconscious clairvoyance assumes the form of persons outside of
their own mental sphere, within which they alone existed.

By far the most frequent causes of visions are, however, those of
psychical nature, like fixed ideas, intense passions, or deep-rooted
prejudices, and concealed misdeeds. When they are produced by such
causes they have often the appearance of having led to the commission of
great crimes. Thus Julian the Apostate, who had caused the image of his
guardian angel to be put upon all his coins and banners, naturally had
this form deeply impressed upon his mind. In the night before a decisive
battle, he saw, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, this protecting
genius in the act of turning away from him, and this vision made so deep
an impression upon his mind that he interpreted it as an omen of his
impending death. On the following day he fell in battle. The fearful
penalty inflicted upon Charles IX. by his own conscience is well known;
after the massacre of St. Bartholomew he saw, by day and by night, the
forms of his victims around him, till death made an end to his
sufferings. On our own continent, one of the early conquerors gave a
striking instance of the manner in which such visions are produced. He
was one of the adventurers who had reached Darien, and was on the point
of plundering a temple; but, a few days before, an Indian woman had told
him that the treasures it held were guarded by evil spirits, and if he
entered it the earth would open and swallow up the temple and the
conquerors alike. Nothing daunted, he led his men to the attack; but, as
they came in sight, he suddenly saw, in the evening light, how the
colossal building rocked to and fro as in a tempest, and thoroughly
intimidated he rode away with his followers, leaving the temple and its
treasures unharmed. That visions are apt to precede atrocious crimes is
quite natural, since they are in such cases nothing but the product of
the intense excitement under which murders are often committed; but, it
would be absurd to look upon them as motive causes. Ravaillac had
constant visions of angels, saints, and demons, while preparing his mind
for the assassination of Henry IV., and the young student who attempted
the murder of Napoleon at Schönbrunn repeatedly saw the genius of
Germany, which appeared to him and encouraged him to free his country
from the usurper. Persons who attempt to summon ghosts are very apt to
see them, because their mind is highly wrought up by their proceedings
and they confidently expect to have visions. But some men possess a
similar power without making any special effort or peculiar
preparations, their firm volition sufficing for the purpose. Thus Talma
could at all times force himself to see, in the place of the actual
audience before whom he was acting, an assembly of skeletons, and he is
said never to have acted better than when he gave himself up to this
hallucination. Painters, also, frequently have the power to summon
before their mind's eye the features of those whose portrait they are
painting; Blake, for instance, was able actually to finish likenesses
from images he saw sitting in the chair where the real persons had been

While visions are quite common, delusions of the other senses are less
frequent. The insane alone hear strange conversations. Hallucinations of
the taste cause patients to enjoy delightful dishes, or to partake of
spoiled meat and other unpalatable viands, which have no existence.
Sweet smells and incense are often perceived, bad odors much less
frequently. The touch is of all senses the least likely to be deceived;
still deranged people occasionally feel a slight touch as a severe blow,
and persons suffering from certain diseases are convinced that ants,
spiders, or other insects are running over their bodies.

The favorite season of visions is night--mainly the hour about
midnight--and in the whole year, the time of Advent, but also the nights
from Christmas to New Year. This is, of course, not a feature of
supernatural life, but the simple effect of the greater quiet and the
more thoughtful, inward life, which these seasons are apt to bring to
busy men. The reality of our surroundings disappears with the setting
sun, and in deep night we are rendered almost wholly independent of the
influence exercised in the day by friends, family, and even furniture.
All standards of measurement, moreover, disappear, and we lose the
correct estimate of both space and time. Turning our thoughts at such
times with greater energy and perseverance inward, our imagination has
free scope, and countless images appear before our mind's eye which are
not subject to the laws of real life. Darkness, stillness, and solitude,
the three great features of midnight seasons, all favor the full
activity of our fancy, and set criticism at defiance by denying us all
means of comparison with real sounds or sights. At the same time, it is
asserted, that under such circumstances men are also better qualified to
perceive manifestations which, during the _turba_ of daily life, are
carelessly ignored or really imperceptible to the common senses. So long
as the intercourse with the world and its exigencies occupy all our
thoughts, and self-interest makes us look fixedly only at some one great
purpose of life, we are deaf and blind to all that does not clearly
belong to this world. But when these demands are no longer made upon us,
and especially when, as in the time of Advent, our thoughts are somewhat
drawn from earthly natures, and our eyes are lifted heavenward, then we
are enabled to give free scope to our instincts, or, if we prefer the
real name, to the additional sense by which we perceive intangible
things. A comparison has often been drawn between the ability to see
visions and our power to distinguish the stars. In the day, the
brilliancy of the sun so far outshines the latter, that we see not a
single one; at night they step forth, as it were, from the dark, and the
deeper the blackness of the sky, the greater their own brightness. Are
they, on that account, nothing more than creatures of our imagination,
set free by night and darkness?

As for the favorite places where visions most frequently are seen, it
seems that solitudes have already in ancient times always been looked
upon as special resorts for evil spirits. The deserts of Asia, with
their deep gullies and numerous caves, suggested a population of shy and
weird beings, whom few saw and no one knew fully. Hence the fearful
description of Babylon in her overthrow, when "Their houses shall be
full of doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there and satyrs shall
dance there." (Isaiah xiii. 21). The New Testament speaks in like manner
of the deserts of Palestine as the abode of evil spirits, and in later
days the Faroe Islands were constantly referred to as peopled with weird
and unearthly beings. The deserts of Africa are full of Djinns, and the
vast plains of the East are peopled with weird apparitions. The
solitudes of Norwegian mountain districts abound with gnomes and
sprites, and waste places everywhere are no sooner abandoned by men than
they are occupied by evil spirits and become the scenes of wild and
gruesome visions.

Well-authenticated cases of visions are recorded in unbroken succession
from the times of antiquity to our own day, and leave no doubt on the
mind that they are not only of common occurrence among men, but
generally, also, accompanied by magic phenomena of great importance. The
ancients saw, of course, most frequently their gods; the pagans, who had
been converted to Christianity, their former idols threatening them with
dire punishment; and Christians, their saints and martyrs, their angels
and demons. Thus all parties are supported by authorities in no way
peculiar to one faith or another, but common to all humanity; and the
battle is fought, for a time at least, between faith and faith, and
between vision and vision. A famous rhetor, Aristides, who is mentioned
in history as one of the mightiest champions polytheism ever has been
able to raise against triumphant Christianity, saw, in his hours of
exaltation, the great Æsculapius, who gave him directions how to carry
on his warfare. At such times his public addresses became so attractive
that thousands of enthusiastic hearers assembled to hang upon his lips.
The story of the genius of Socrates is well known; Aulus Gellius tells
us how the great sage was seen standing motionless for twenty-four hours
in the same place, before joining the expedition to Potidea, so absorbed
in deep thought that it seemed as if his soul had left the body. Dion,
Plato's most intimate friend, saw a huge Fury enter his house and sweep
it with a broom; a conspiracy broke out, and he was murdered, after
having lost his only son a few days before. (Plutarch's "Life of Dion,"
55.) The same Simonides, who according to Valerius Maximus (_De
Somniis_, l. i. ch. 5), had escaped from shipwreck by the timely warning
of a spirit, was once dining at the magnificent house of Skopas at
Cranon, in Thessaly, when a servant entered to inform him that two
gigantic youths were standing at the door and wished to see him
immediately. He went out and found no one there; but, at the same
moment, the roof and the walls of the dining-room fell down, burying all
the guests under the ruins (Phædrus' Fab., iv. 24). The ancients looked
upon the vision, in both cases, as merely effects of the prophetic power
of the poet, which saved him from immediate death; once in the form of a
spirit and the second time in the form of the Dioscuri. For, as
Simonides had shortly before written a beautiful poem in honor of Castor
and Pollux, his escape and the friendly warning were naturally
attributed to the heroic youths, who constantly appear in history as
protective genii. In Greece they were known to have fought, dressed in
their purple cloaks and seated on snow-white horses, on the side of the
Locri, and to have announced their victory on the same day in Olympia,
and Sparta, in Corinth, and in Athens (Justin, ix. 3). In Rome they were
credited with the victory on the banks of Lake Regillus, and reported to
have, as in Greece, dashed into the city, far ahead of all messengers,
to proclaim the joyful news. During the Macedonian war they met Publius
Vatinius on his way to Rome and informed him that, on the preceding day,
Æmilius Paulus had captured Perseus. Delighted with the news, the
prefect hastens to the Senate; but is discredited and actually sent to
jail on the charge of indulging in idle gossip, unworthy of his high
office. It was only when at last messengers came from the distant army
and confirmed the report of Perseus' captivity, that the unlucky prefect
was set free again and honored with high rewards.

In other cases the warning genius was seen in visions of different
nature. Thus Hannibal was reported to have traced in his sleep the whole
course and the success of all his plans, by the aid of his genius, who
appeared to him in the shape of a child of marvelous beauty, sent by the
great Jupiter himself to direct his movements, and to make him master of
Italy. The child asked him to follow without turning to look back, but
Hannibal, yielding to the innate tendency to covet forbidden fruit,
looked behind him and saw an immense serpent overthrowing all
impediments in his way. Then came a violent thunderstorm with fierce
lightnings, which rent the strongest walls. Hannibal asked the meaning
of these portents, and was told that the storm signified the total
subjection of Italy, but that he must be silent and leave the rest to
fate. That the vision was not fully realized, was naturally ascribed to
his indiscretion. The genius of the two Consuls, P. Decius and Manlius
Torquatus, assumed, on the contrary, the shape of a huge phantom which
appeared at night in their camp at the foot of Vesuvius, and announced
the decision that one leader must fall in order to make the army
victorious. Upon the strength of this vision the two generals decided
that he whose troops should first show signs of yielding, should seek
death by advancing alone against the Latin army. The legions of Decius,
therefore, no sooner began to fall back, than he threw himself, sword in
hand, upon the enemy, and not only died a glorious death for his
country, but secured a brilliant victory to his brethren.

At a later period a genius saved the life of Octavian, when he and
Antony were encamped at Philippi, on the eve of the great battle against
Brutus and Cassius. The vision appeared not to himself, however, but to
another person, his own physician, Artorus, who, in a dream, was ordered
to advise his master to appear on the battle-field in spite of his
serious indisposition. Octavian followed the advice and went out, though
he had to be carried by his men in a litter; during his absence the
soldiers of Brutus entered the camp and actually searched his tent, in
which he would have perished inevitably without the timely warning. Of a
very different nature was the vision of Cassius, the lieutenant of
Antony, who, during his flight to Athens, saw at night a huge black
phantom, which informed him that he was his evil spirit. In his terror
he called his servants and inquired what they had seen, but they had
noticed nothing. Thus tranquilized, he fell asleep again, but the
phantom returned once more, and disturbed his mind so painfully that he
remained awake the rest of the night, surrounded by his guards and
slaves. The vision was afterwards interpreted as an omen of his
impending violent death.

The Emperor Trajan was saved from death during a fearful earthquake by a
man of colossal proportions, who came to lead him out of his palace at
Antioch; and Attila, who, to the surprise of the world, spared Rome and
Italy at the request of Pope Leo the Great, mentioned as the true motive
of his action the appearance of a majestic old man in priestly garments,
who had threatened him, drawing his sword, with instant death if he did
not grant all that the Roman high-priest should demand.

In other cases, which are as numerous as they are striking, the genius
assumes the shape of a woman. Thus Dio Cassius ("Hist. Rome," l. lv.),
as well as Suetonius ("Claudius," l. i), relate that when Drusus had
ravaged Germany, and was on the point of crossing the Elbe, the
formidable shape of a gigantic woman appeared to him, who waded up to
the middle of the stream and then called out: "Whither, O Drusus? Canst
thou put no limit to thy thirst of conquest? Back! the end of thy deeds
and of thy life is at hand!" History records that Drusus fell back
without apparent reason, and that he died before he reached the banks of
the Rhine. Tacitus tells us, in like manner, a vision which encouraged
Curtius Rufus at the time when he, a gladiator's son, and holding a most
humble position, was accompanying a quæstor on his way to Africa. As he
walked up and down a passage in deep meditation, a woman of unusual
size appeared to him and said: "Thou, O Rufus, shalt be proconsul of
this province!" The young man, perhaps encouraged and supported by a
vision which was the result of his own ambitious dreams, rose rapidly by
his eminent ability, and after he had reached the consulate, really
obtained the province of Africa (Ann., xi. 21). The younger Pliny, who
tells the same story in his admirable letter to Sura on the subject of
magic, adds that the genius appeared a second time to the great
proconsul, but remained silent. The latter saw in this silence a warning
of approaching death, and prepared for his end, which did not fail soon
to close his career.

It is very striking to see how in these visions also the inner life of
man was invariably clearly and distinctly reflected. The ambitious youth
saw his good fortune personified in the shape of a beautiful woman,
which his excited imagination called Africa, and which he hoped some
time or other to call his own. Brutus, on the contrary, full of
anticipations of evil, and suffering, and perhaps unconsciously, bitter
remorse on account of Cæsar's murder, saw his sad fate as a hideous
demon. The army, also, sharing, no doubt, their leader's dark
apprehensions, looked upon the black Æthiopian who entered the camp as
an evil omen. The appointed meeting at Philippi was merely an evidence
of the superior ability of Brutus, who foresaw the probable course of
the war and knew the great strategic importance of the famous town.

In the same manner a tradition was long cherished in Augsburg of a
fanatic heroine on horseback, who appeared to Attila when he attempted
to cross the river Lech on his way from Italy to Pannonia. She called
out to him: "Back!" and made a deep impression upon his mind. The
picture of the giant woman was long preserved in a Minorite convent in
the city, and was evidently German in features and in costume. It is by
no means impossible that the lofty but superstitious mind of the
ruthless conqueror, after having long busied itself with his approaching
attack upon a mighty, unknown nation, personified to himself in a
momentary trance the genius of that race in the shape of a majestic

This was all the more probable as Holy Writ also presents to us a whole
series of mighty women who exercised at times a lasting influence on the
fate of the chosen people, and the world's history abounds with similar
instances. There was Deborah, "a prophetess who judged Israel at that
time," and went to aid in the defeat of Sisera, and there was Huldah,
the prophetess, who warned Josiah, king of Judah. We have the same grand
images in Greek and in Roman history, and German annals mention more
than one Jettha and Velleda. The series of warnings given by the more
tender-hearted sex runs through the annals of modern races from the
oldest times to our own day. One of the latest instances happened to a
king well known for his sneering skepticism and his utter disbelief of
all higher powers. This was Bernadotte, who forsook his benefactor in
order to mount the throne of Sweden, and turned his own sword against
his former master. Long years after the fall of Napoleon, he was on the
point of sending his son Oscar with an army against Norway, and met with
much opposition in the Council of State. Full of impatience and
indignation, he mounted his horse and rode out to cool his heated mind;
as he approached a dark forest near Stockholm, he saw an old woman
sitting by the wayside, whose quaint costume and wild, disheveled hair
attracted his attention. He asked her roughly what she was doing there?
Her reply was: "If Oscar goes into the war which you propose, he will
not strike but receive the first blow." The king was impressed by the
warning and returned, full of thoughts, to his palace; after a sleepless
night he informed the Council of State that he had changed his views,
and would not send the prince to Norway (_La Presse_, May 4, 1844). Even
if we accept the interview with the woman as a mere vision, the effect
of the king's long and anxious preoccupation with an important plan upon
the success of which the security of his throne and the continuation of
his dynasty might depend, the question still remains, why a man of his
tastes and haughty skepticism should have clothed his doubts in words
uttered by an old woman, dressed in fancy costume?

The number of practical, sensible men who have, even in recent times,
believed themselves under the special care and protection of a genius
or guardian angel, is much larger than is commonly known. The ancients
looked upon a genius as a part of their mythology; and modern
Christians, who cherish this belief, refer to the fact that the Saviour
said of little children: "In heaven their _angels_ do always behold the
face of my Father" (Matt. xviii. 10). These visions--for so they must be
called--vary greatly in different persons. To some men they appear only
when great dangers are threatening or sublime efforts have to be made;
while in others, they assume, by their frequency, a more or less
permanent form, and may even be inherited, becoming tutelary deities of
certain houses, familiar spirits, or specially appointed guardian angels
of the members of a family or single individuals. Hence, the well-known
accounts of the genius of Socrates and the familiar spirits of the
Bible, in ancient times. Hence, also, the almost uninterrupted line of
similar accounts through the Middle Ages down to our own day. Thus,
Campanella stated that whenever he was threatened with misfortune, he
fell into a state half way between waking and sleeping, in which he
heard a voice say: "Campanella! Campanella!" and several other words,
without ever seeing a person. Calignan, Chancelor of Navarre, heard in
Béarn, his name called three times, and then received a warning from the
same voice to leave the town promptly, as the plague was to rage there
fearfully. He obeyed the order, and escaped the ravages of the terrible
disease (Beaumont, "Tractat.," etc., p. 208). The Jesuit Giovanni
Carrera had a protecting genius, whom he frequently consulted in cases
of special difficulty. He became so familiar with him, that he had
himself waked every night for his prayers, but when at times he
hesitated to rise at once, the spirit abandoned him for a time, and
Carrera could only induce him to come back by long-continued praying and
fasting ("Hist. S. J.," iii. p. 177).

The Bernadottes had a tradition that one of their ancestors had married
a fairy, who remained the good genius of the family, and long since had
predicted that one of that blood would mount a throne. The Bernadotte
who became a king never forgot the prophecy, and was largely influenced
by it, when the Swedish nobles offered him the throne. It is well known
that Napoleon himself either believed, or affected to believe, in a good
genius, who guided his steps and protected him from danger. He appeared,
according to his own statements, sometimes in the shape of a ball of
fire, which he called his "star," or as a man dressed in red, who paid
him occasional visits. General Rapp relates that, in the year 1806, he
once found the Emperor in his room, apparently absorbed in such deep
meditation that he did not notice his entrance, but that, when fairly
aroused, he seized Rapp by the arm and asked him if saw that star? When
the latter replied that he saw nothing, Napoleon continued: "It is my
star; it is standing just above you. It has never forsaken me; I see it
on all important occasions; it orders me to go on, and has always been
a token of success." The story, coming from General Rapp himself, is
quoted here as endorsed by the great historian, Amédée Thierry.

Des Mousseaux reports the following facts upon the evidence of
trustworthy personal friends. (_La Magie_, etc., p. 366.) A Mme. N., the
daughter of a general, was constantly visited by her mother, who had
died long ago, and received from her frequent information of secret
things, which procured for herself the reputation of being a prophetess.
At one time her mother's spirit warned her to try and prevent her
husband, who would die by suicide, from carrying out his purpose. Every
precaution was taken, and even the knives and forks were removed after
meals; but it so happened that a soldier of the National Guard came into
the house and left his loaded gun in an anteroom. The lady's husband
unfortunately chanced to see it, took it and blew his brains out on the

A peculiarly interesting class of visions are those to which great
artists have, at times, owed their greatest triumphs. Here, also, the
line between mere delusion and real magic phenomena is often so faint as
to escape attention. For artists must needs cultivate their imagination
at the expense of other faculties, and naturally live more in an ideal
world than in a real world. Preoccupied as they are, by the nature of
their pursuits, with images of more than earthly beauty, they come
easily to form ideals in their minds, which they endeavor to fix first
upon their memory, and then upon canvas or in marble, on paper or in
rapturous words. Raphael Sanzio had long in vain tried to portray the
Holy Virgin according to a vague ideal in his mind; at last he awoke one
night and saw in the place where his sketch was hanging a bright light,
and in the radiance the Mother of Christ in matchless beauty, and with
supernatural holiness in her features. The vision remained deeply
impressed upon his mind, and was ever after the original of which even
his best Madonnas could only be imperfect copies. Benvenuto Cellini,
when sick unto death, repeatedly saw an old man trying to pull him down
into his boat, but as soon as his faithful servant came and touched him,
the hideous vision disappeared. The artist had evidently a picture of
Charon and his Acherontic boat in his mind, which was thus reproduced in
his feverish dreams. On another occasion, when he had long been in
prison, and in despair contemplated suicide, an "unknown being" suddenly
seized him and hurled him back to a distance of four yards, where he
remained lying for hours half dead. In the following night a "fair
youth" appeared to him and made him bitter reproaches on account of his
sinful purpose. The same youthful genius appeared to him repeatedly when
a great crisis approached in his marvelously adventurous life, and more
than once revealed to him the mysteries of the future. (Goethe's "Benv.
Cell." i. p. 375.) Poor Tasso had fearful hallucinations during the time
when his mind was disordered, but above them all hovered, as it were,
the vision of a glorious Virgin surrounded by a bright light, which
always comforted and probably alone saved him from self-destruction.
Like Raphael, Dannecker also had long tried in vain to find perfect
expression for his ideal of a Christ on the Cross; one night, however,
he also saw the Saviour in a dream, and at once proceeded to form his
model, from which was afterwards copied the well-known statue of
transcendent beauty and power.

Paganini used to tell with an amusing air of assumed awe and reverence,
that his mother had seen, a few days before his birth, an angel with two
wings and of such dazzling splendor that she could not bear to look at
the apparition. The heavenly messenger invited her to express a wish,
and promised that it should be fulfilled. Thereupon she begged him on
her knees to make her Nicolo a great violinist, and was told that it
should be so. The vision--perhaps nothing more than a vivid form of
earnest desire and fervent prayer--had, no doubt, a serious influence on
the great artist, who was himself strangely susceptible to such
impressions. (_Moniteur_, Sept. 30, 1860.)

Nothing can here be said, according to the purpose of these sketches, of
the long series of visions vouchsafed to martyrs and saints; their
history belongs to theology. But holy men have, independent of their
religious convictions, often been as famous for their visions as for the
piety of their hearts, and their achievements in the world. Loyola, for
instance, with his faculties perpetually strained to the utmost, and
with his thoughts bent forever upon a grand and holy aim, could not well
fail to rise to a state of psychic excitement which naturally produced
impressive visions. Hence he continually saw strange sights and heard
mysterious voices, the effect now of extreme despondency and now of
restored confidence in God and in himself as the agent of the Most High.
And yet these visions never interfered with the clearness of his
judgment nor with his promptness and energy in acting. Luther, also, one
of the most practical men ever called upon to act and to lead in a great
crisis, had visions; he saw the Devil and held loud discussions with
him; he suffered by his persecutions, and made great efforts to rid
himself of his unwelcome guest, while engaged in his great work, the
translation of the Bible. For he was, after all--and for very great and
good purposes--only a man of his age, imbued with the universal belief
in the personal existence and constant presence of Satan, and felt, at
the same time, that he was engaged in a warfare upon the results of
which depended not only the earthly welfare, but the eternal salvation
of millions.

It is difficult to say whether Mohammed, who had undoubtedly visions
innumerable, received any aid from his hallucinations in devising his
new faith. Men of science tell us that he suffered of _Hysteria
muscularis_, a disease not uncommon in men as well as in women, which
produces periodical paroxysms and is characterized by an alternate
contraction and expansion of the muscles. When the attack came the
prophet's lips and tongue would begin to vibrate, his eyes turned up,
and the head moved automatically. If the paroxysms were very violent he
fell to the ground, his face turned purple, and he breathed with
difficulty. As he frequently retained his consciousness he pretended
that these symptoms were caused by angels' visits, and each attack was
followed by a new revelation. The disease was the result of his early
lawless life and of the freedom which he claimed, even in later
years--pleading a special dispensation from on high as a divinely
inspired prophet. It is not to be wondered at that the new religion,
springing from such a source, and proclaimed amid the mountains and
steppes of Arabia, which, according to popular belief, are all alive
with djinns and demons, should be largely based upon visions and

The important part which visions hold in the history of the various
religions of the earth lies beyond our present purpose; we know,
however, that the records of ancient temples, of prophets, saints, and
martyrs, and of later convents and churches, abound with instances of
such so-called revelations from on high. They have more than once served
at critical times to excite individuals and whole nations to make
sublime efforts. One of the best known cases of the former class is that
of Constantine the Great, who told Eusebius of Cæsarea, affirming his
statement with a solemn oath, that he saw in 312, shortly before the
decisive battle at Rome against his formidable adversary Magentius, a
bright cross in the heavens, surrounded by the words: _In hoc signo
vinces_. But this vision stood by no means alone. He himself beheld,
besides, in a dream during the following night, the Saviour, who ordered
him to use in battle henceforth a banner like that which he had seen in
his vision. Nazarius, a pagan, also speaks of a number of marvelous
signs in the heavens seen in Gaul immediately before the emperor's great
victory. Nor can it be doubted that this vision not only inspired
Constantine with new hopes and new courage, enabling him to secure his
triumph, but also induced him, after his success, to avow himself openly
a convert to the faith of Christ.

The visions of that eminent man Swedenborg are too well known to require
here more than a mere allusion. Beginning his intercourse with the
supernatural world at the ripe age of forty-five, he soon gave himself
up to it systematically, and felt compelled to make his daily
conversations, as well as the revelations he received from time to time,
duly known to the public. Thus he wrote with an evident air of firm
conviction: "I had recently a conference with the Apostle Paul;" and at
another time he assured a Würtemberg prelate, "I have conferred with St.
Paul for a whole year, especially about the words in Romans iii. 28.
Three times I have conversed with St. John, once with Moses, and a
hundred times with Luther, when the latter confessed that he had taught
_fidem solam_ contrary to the warning of an angel, and that he had
stood alone when renouncing the pope. With angels, finally, I have held
constant intercourse for the last twenty years, and still hold daily

Classic as well as Christian art, is indebted to visions for more than
one signal success. On the other hand, they have as frequently been made
to serve vile purposes, mainly by feeding superstition and supporting
religious tyranny. We need only recall the terrible calamity caused by a
wretched shepherd boy in France, who, in 1213, saw, or pretended to see,
heavenly visions, ordering him to enlist his comrades, and with their
aid, to rescue the Holy Land from the possession of infidels. Thousands
of little children were seized by the contagious excitement, and leaving
their home and their kindred, followed their youthful leader, unchecked
by the authorities, because of the interpretation applied to the words
of Jesus: "Suffer little children to come unto Me!" Not one of them ever
reached Palestine, as all perished long before they had reached even
Southern France.

It is not exactly a magic phenomenon, but certainly a most startling
feature in visions, that the minds of many men should be able, by their
own volition, to create images and forms so perfectly like those
existing in the world around us, that the same minds are incapable of
distinguishing where hallucination and reality touch each other. This
faculty varies, of course, as much as other endowments: sometimes it
produces nothing but vague, shapeless lights or sounds; in other
persons it is capable of calling up well-defined forms, and of causing
even words to be heard and pain to be inflicted. During severe suffering
in body or soul, it may become a comforter, and in the moment of passing
through the valley of the shadow of death, it is apt to soothe the
anguish, by visions of heavenly bliss, but to an evil conscience it may
also appear as an avenger, by prefiguring impending judgment and
condemnation. It is this influence on the lives of men, and their great
moral importance, which lends to visions--and in a certain degree even
to hallucinations--additional interest, and makes it our duty not to set
them aside as mere idle phantoms, but to try to ascertain their true
nature and final purpose. This is all the more necessary, as in our day
visions are considered purely the offspring of the seer's own mental
activity, a truth abundantly proven by the simple fact that blind or
deaf people are quite as capable of having visions and hallucinations,
as those who have the use of all their senses.

Thus these magic phenomena have, in an unbroken chain, accompanied
almost all the great men who are known to history, from the earliest
time to our own day. In modern times they have often been successfully
traced to bodily and mental disorders; but this fact diminishes in no
way the interest which they have for the student of magic. The great
Pascal, who was once threatened with instant death by the upsetting of
his carriage, henceforth saw perpetually an abyss by his side, from
which fiery flames issued forth; he could conceal it by simply placing a
chair or a table between it and his eyes. In the case of the English
painter Blake, who had visions of historic personages which appeared to
him in idealized outlines, his periodical aberrations of mind were
accepted as sufficient explanation. The bookseller Nicolai, of Berlin,
on the contrary, who, like Beaumont, saw hundreds of men, women, and
children accompanying him in his walks or visiting him in his chamber,
found his ghostly company dependent on the state of his health. When he
was bled or when leeches were applied, the images grew pale, and
disappeared in part or dissolved entirely. A peculiarity of his case
was, that he never saw visions in the dark, but all his phantasms
appeared in broad daylight, or at night when candles had been brought in
or a large fire was burning in the fireplace. Captain Henry Bell had
been repeatedly urged by a German friend of his, Caspar von Sparr, to
translate the Table-talk of Martin Luther, which, having been suppressed
by an edict of the Emperor Rudolphus, had become very rare, and of which
Sparr had sent him a copy, discovered by himself in a cellar where it
had lain buried for fifty-two years. Captain Bell commenced the work;
but abandoned it after a little while. A few weeks later a white-haired
old man appeared to him at night, pulling his ear and saying: "What!
will you not take time to translate the book? I will give you soon a
place for it and the necessary leisure." Bell was much startled; but
nevertheless neglected the work. A fortnight after the vision he was
arrested and lodged in the gate-house of Westminster, where he remained
for ten years, of which he spent five in the translation of the work.
(Beaumont, "Tractat.," p. 72.) Even religious visions have by no means
ceased in modern times, and more than one remarkable conversion is
ascribed to such agency. We do not speak of so-called miracles like that
of the children of Salette in the department of the Isère, in 1849, or
the recent revelations at Lourdes, and in Southern Alsace, which were
publicly endorsed by leading men of the church, and have furnished rich
material even for political demonstrations. The vision of Major
Gardiner, also, who, just before committing a sinful action, beheld the
Saviour and became a changed man, has been so often published and so
thoroughly discussed that it need not be repeated here. The conversion
of young Ratisbone, in 1843, created at the time an immense sensation.
He was born of Jewish parents, but, like only too many of his race, grew
up to become a freethinker and a scoffer, rejecting all faiths as idle
superstitions. One day he strolled into the church Delle Fratte in Rome,
and while sunk in deep meditation, suddenly beheld a vision of the
Virgin Mary, which made so deep an impression upon him that it changed
the whole tenor of his life. He gave up the great wealth to which he had
fallen heir, he renounced a lovely betrothed, and resolutely turning his
back upon the world, he entered, as a novice, into a Jesuit convent;
thus literally forsaking all in order to follow Christ.

The magic phenomena accompanying visions, have, among nations of the
Sclavic race, not unfrequently a specially formidable and repellent
character, corresponding, no doubt, with the temperament and turn of
imagination peculiar to that race. The Sclaves are apt to be ridden by
invisible men, till they drop down in a swoon; they are driven by wild
beasts to the graves of criminals, where they behold fearful sights, or
they are forced to mingle with troops of evil spirits roving over the
wide, waste steppes, and they invariably suffer from the sad effects of
such visions, till a premature death relieves them after a few months.
In Wallachia a special vision of the so-called Pickolitch is quite
common, and has, in one case at least, been officially recorded by
military authorities. A poor private soldier, who had already more than
once suffered from visions, was ordered to stand guard in a lonely
mountain pass, and forced by the rules of the service to take his place
there, although he begged hard to be allowed to exchange with a brother
soldier, as he knew he would come to grief. The officer in command,
struck by the earnestness of his prayer, promised to lend him all
possible assistance, and placed a second sentinel for his support close
behind him. At half past ten o'clock the officer and a high civil
functionary saw a dark figure rush by the house in which they were; they
hastened at once to the post, where two shots had fallen in rapid
succession, and found the inner sentinel, the still smoking rifle in
hand, staring fixedly at the place where his comrade had stood, and
utterly unconscious of the approach of his superior. When they reached
the outer post they found the rifle on the ground, shattered to pieces,
and the heavy barrel bent in the shape of a scythe, while the man
himself lay at a considerable distance, groaning with pain, for his
whole body was so severely burnt that he died on the following day. The
survivor stated that a black figure had fallen, as if from heaven, upon
his comrade and torn him to pieces in spite of the two shots he had
fired at it from a short distance, then it had vanished again in an
instant. The matter was duly reported to headquarters, and when an
investigation was ordered, the fact was discovered that a number of
precisely similar occurrences had already been officially recorded. The
vision is, of course, nothing more than a product of the excited
imagination of the mountaineers, who lend the favorite shape of a
"Pickolitch" to the frequent, bizarre-looking masses of fog and mist
which rise in their dark valleys, hover over gullies and abysses, and
driven by a sudden current of wind, fly upward with amazing rapidity,
and thus seem to disappear in an instant. The apprehension of the poor
sentinel, on the other hand, was a kind of clairvoyance produced by the
combined influence of local tradition, the nightly hour and the dark
pass, upon a previously-excited mind, while the vision of the two
officers was a similar magic phenomena, the result of the impressions
made upon them by the instant prayer of the victim, and a hot discussion
about the reality of the "Prikolitch." The sentinel probably saw a weird
shape and fired; the gun burst and killed him outright, setting fire to
his clothes, a supposition strengthened by the statement that the poor
fellow, anticipating a meeting with the spectre, had put a double charge
into his rifle. The accident teaches once more that a mere denial of
facts and a haughty smile at the idea of visions profit us nothing,
while a calm and careful examination of all the circumstances may throw
much light upon their nature, and help, in the course of time, to
extirpate fatal superstitions, like those of the "Prikolitch."

It is interesting to see how harmless and even pleasant are, in
comparison, the visions of men with well-trained minds and kindly
dispositions. The bookseller Nicolai entertained his phantom-guests, and
was much amused, at times, by their conversation. Macnish ("Sleep," p.
194) tells us the same of Dr. Bostock, who had frequent visions, and of
an elderly lady whom Dr. Alderson treated for gout, and who received
friendly visits from kinsmen and acquaintances with whom she conversed,
but who disappeared instantly when she rang for her maid. Another
patient of Dr. Alderson's, who saw himself in the same manner surrounded
by numbers of persons, even felt the blows which a phantom-carter gave
him with his whip. Although in all these cases the visions disappeared
after energetic bleeding and purging, the phenomena were nevertheless
real as far as they affected the patient, and have in every instance
been fully authenticated and scientifically investigated. The well-known
author, Macnish, himself was frequently a victim of this kind of
self-delusion; he saw during an attack of fever fearful hellish shapes,
forming and dissolving at pleasure, and during one night he beheld a
whole theatre filled with people, among whom he recognized many friends
and acquaintances, while on the stage he saw the famous Ducrow with his
horses. As soon as he opened his eyes the scene disappeared, but the
music continued, for the orchestra played a magnificent march from
Aladdin, and did not cease its magic performance for five hours. The
vision of the eye seems thus to have been under the influence of his
will, but his hearing was beyond his control.

A very interesting class of visions accompanied by undoubted magic
phenomena, and as frequent in our day as at any previous period, is
formed by those which are the result of climatic and topographic
peculiarities. We have already stated that the peculiar impression made
upon predisposed minds by vast deserts and boundless wastes is
frequently ascribed, by the superstitious dwellers near such localities,
to the influence of evil spirits. Such a vision is the Ragl of Northern
Africa, which occurs either after fatiguing journeys through the dry,
hot desert, in consequence of great nervous excitement, or as one of the
symptoms of typhoid fever in native patients. Seeing and hearing are
alike affected, the other senses only in rare cases. Ordinarily the eye
sees everything immensely magnified or oddly changed; pebbles become
huge blocks of stone, faint tracks in the hot sand change into broad
causeways or ample meadows, and distant shadows appear as animals,
wells, or mountain-dells. If the moon rises the vision increases in size
and distinctness; the scene becomes animated, men pass by, camels follow
each other in long lines, and troops are marching past in battalions.
Then the ear also begins to succumb to the charm; the rustling of dry
leaves becomes the sweet song of numerous birds; the wind changes into
cries of despair, and the noise of falling sand into distant thunder.
The brain remains apparently unaffected, for travelers suffering of the
Ragl are able to make notes and record the symptoms, although the
note-book looks to them like a huge album with costly engravings. There
can be little doubt that the great afflux of blood to the eyes and the
ears is the first cause of these phenomena, but the peculiar nature of
the visions remains still a mystery. One striking peculiarity is their
unvarying identity in men of the same race and culture; Europeans have
their own hallucinations which are not shared by Africans; the former
see churches, houses, and carriages, the latter mosques, tents, and
camels, thus proving here also the fact that these delusions of the
senses are produced in the mind and not in the outer world. Travelers
who suffer from hunger or from the dread effects of the simoon are
naturally more subject to the Ragl than others; the visions generally
appear towards midnight and continue till six or seven o'clock in the
morning, while during the day they are only seen in cases of aggravated
suffering. Another peculiarity is the fact that these visions connect
themselves only with small objects and moderate sounds; the gentle
friction of a vibrating tassel on his camel's neck appeared to the great
explorer Richardson like the clacking of a mill-wheel, but the words
shouted by his companion sounded quite natural. Thus he saw in every
little lichen a green garden spot, but the stars he discerned distinctly
enough to direct his way by them even when suffering most intensely from
the Ragl.

The Fata Morgana of the so-called Great Desert in Oregon, in which the
waters of the Paducah, Kansas, and Arkansas lose themselves to a great
extent, is a kindred affection. Here also phantoms of every kind are
seen, gigantic horsemen, colossal buildings, and flitting fires; but the
absence of heat makes the visions less frequent and less distinct. The
Indians, however, like the Moors of Africa, dread these apparitions and
ascribe them to evil spirits. These phenomena have besides a special
interest, by proving how constantly in all these questions of modern
magic facts are combined with mere delusions. The flitting fires, to
which we alluded, for instance, are not mere visions, but real and
tangible substances, the effect of gaseous effusions which are quite
frequent on these steppes. So it is also with the local visions peculiar
to mountain regions, like the Little Gray Man of the Grisons in
Switzerland and the gnomes of miners in almost all lands. The dwellers
in Alpine regions acquire--or even inherit, it may be--a peculiar power
of divination with regard to the weather; they feel instinctively, and
without ever giving themselves the trouble of trying to ascertain the
reason, the approach of fogs and mists, so dangerous to the welfare of
their herds and their own safety. This presentiment is clothed by local
traditions and their own vivid imaginations in the familiar shape of
supernatural beings, and what was at first perhaps merely a form of
speech, has gradually become a deep-rooted belief handed down from
father to son. They end by really seeing--with their mind's eye--the
rising mists and drifting fogs in the shape which they have so often
heard mentioned, or give to rising gases, far down in the bowels of the
earth, the form of familiar gnomes. These visions are hence not
altogether produced by the imagination, but have, so to say, a grain of
truth around which the weird form is woven.

A numerous class of visions, presenting some of the most interesting
phenomena of this branch of magic, must be looked upon as the result of
the innate desire to fathom the mystery of future life. The human heart,
conscious of immortality by nature and assured of it by revelation,
desires ardently to lift the veil which conceals the secrets of the life
to come. Among other means to accomplish this, the promise has often
been exacted of dear friends, that they would, after death, return and
make known their condition in the other world. Such compacts have been
made from time immemorial--but so far their only result has been that
the survivors have believed occasionally that they have received visits
from deceased friends--in other words, that their state of great
excitement and eager expectation has caused them to have visions. It
remains true, after all, that from that bourne no traveler ever returns.
Nevertheless, these visions have a deep interest for the psychologist,
as they are the result of unconscious action, and thus display what
thoughts dwell in our innermost heart concerning the future.



    "Sunt aliquid manes; letum non omnia finit."

There are few subjects, outside of the vexed questions of Theology, on
which eminent men of all nations and ages have held more varied views
than so-called ghosts. The very term has been understood differently by
almost every great writer who has approached the boundary line of this
department of magic. The word which is now commonly used in order to
designate any immaterial being, not made of the earth, earthy, or
perhaps, in a higher sense, the "body spiritual" of St. Paul, was in the
early days of Christianity applied to the visible spirits of deceased
persons only. In the Middle Ages again, when everything weird and
unnatural was unhesitatingly ascribed to diabolic agency, these
phenomena, also, were regarded as nothing else but the Devil's work.
Theologians have added in recent days a new subject of controversy to
this vexed matter. The divines of the seventeenth and eighteenth century
denied, of course, the possibility of a reappearance of the spirits of
the departed, as they were in consistency bound to deny the existence of
a purgatory, and yet, from purgatory alone were these spirits,
according to popular belief, allowed to revisit the earth--heaven and
hell being comparatively closed places. As the people insisted upon
seeing ghosts, however, there remained nothing but to declare them to be
delusions produced for malign purposes by the Evil One himself; and so
decided, not many generations ago, the Consistory of Basle in an appeal
made by a German mystic author, Jung Stilling. And yet it is evident
that a number of eminent thinkers, and not a few of the most skeptic
philosophers even, have believed in the occurrence of such visits by
inmates of Sheol. Hugo Grotius and Puffendorf, whose far-famed worldly
wisdom entitles their views to great respect, Machiavelli and Boccaccio,
Thomasius and even Kant, all have repeatedly admitted the existence of
what we familiarly call ghosts. The great philosopher of Königsberg
enters fully into the subject. "Immaterial beings," he says, "including
the souls of men and animals, may exist, though they must be considered
as not filling space but only acting within the limits of space." He
admits the probability that ere long the process will be discovered, by
which the human soul, even in this life, is closely connected with the
immaterial inmates of the world of spirits, a connection which he states
to be operative in both directions, men affecting spirits and spirits
acting upon men, though the latter are unconscious of such impressions
"as long as all is well." In the same manner in which the physical world
is under the control of a law of gravity, he believes the spiritual
world to be ruled by a moral law, which causes a distinction between
good and evil spirits. The same belief is entertained and fully
discussed by French authors of eminence, such as Des Mousseaux, De
Mirville, and others. The Catholic church has never absolutely denied
the doctrine of ghosts, perhaps considering itself bound by the biblical
statement that "the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints
which slept, arose and came out of the graves and went into the holy
city and appeared unto many." (St. Matt. xxvii. 52.) Tertullian, St.
Augustine, and Thomas de Aquinas, all state distinctly, as a dogma, that
the souls of the departed can leave their home, though not at will, but
only by special permission of the Almighty. St. Augustine mentions
saints by whom he was visited, and Thomas de Aquinas speaks even of the
return of accursed inmates of hell, for the purpose of terrifying and
converting criminals in this world. The "Encyclopedia of Catholic
Theology" (iv. p. 489) states that "although the theory of ghosts has
never become a dogma of the Holy Church, it has ever maintained itself,
and existed in the days of Christ, who did not condemn it, when it was
mentioned in his presence." (St. Matt. xiv. 26; St. Luke xxiv. 37.)

Calmet, the well-known Benedictine Abbot of Senon, in Lorraine, who was
one of the most renowned theological writers of the eighteenth century,
says (i. 17): "Apparitions of ghosts would be more readily understood if
spirits had a body; but the Holy Church has decided that angels, devils
and the spirits of the departed are pure immaterial spirits. Since this
question transcends our mental faculties, we must submit to the judgment
of the Church, which cannot err." Another great theologian, the German
Bengel, on the contrary, assumed that "probably the apparitions of the
departed have a prescribed limit and then cease; they continue probably
as long as all the ties between body and soul are not fully dissolved."
This question of the nature of our existence during the time immediately
following death, is, it is well known, one of the most vexed of our day,
for while most divines of the Protestant Church assume an immediate
decision of our eternal fate, others admit the probability of an
intermediate state, and the Catholic Church has its well-known
probationary state in purgatory. It may as well be stated here at once
that the whole theory of ghosts is admissible only if we assume that
there follows after death a period during which the soul undergoes, not
an immediate rupture, but a slow, gradual separation from its body,
accompanied by a similar gradual adaptation to its new mode of
existence. Whether the spirit, during this time, is still sufficiently
akin to earthy substances to be able to clothe itself into some material
perceptible to the senses of living men, is of comparatively little
importance. The idea of such an "ethereal body" is very old, and has
never ceased to be entertained. Thus, in 1306, already Guido de la
Tones, who died in Verona, appeared during eight days to his wife, his
neighbors, and a number of devout priests, and declared in answer to
their questions that the spirits of the departed possessed the power to
clothe themselves with air, and thus to become perceptible to living
beings. Bayle also, in his article on Spinoza (note 2), advocates the
possibility, at least, of physical effects being produced by agents
whose presence we are not able to perceive by the use of our ordinary
senses. Even so eminently practical a mind as Lessing's was bewildered
by the difficulties surrounding this question, and he declared that
"here his wits were at an end."

Another great German writer, Goerres, in his "Christian Mystic" (iii. p.
307), not only admits the existence of ghosts, but explains them as "the
higher prototypal form of man freed from the earthy form, the spectrum
relieved of its envelope, which can be present wherever it chooses
within the prescribed limits of its domain." This view is, however, not
supported by the experience of those who believe they have seen ghosts;
for the latter appear only occasionally in a higher, purified form,
resembling ethereal beings, as a mere whitish vapor or a shape formed of
faint light; by far more generally they are seen in the form and even
the costume of their earthy existence. The only evidence of really
supernatural or magic powers accompanying such phenomena consists in the
ineffable dread which is apt to oppress the heart and to cause intense
bodily suffering; in the cold chill which invariably precedes the
apparition, and in the profound and exquisitely painful emotion which is
never again forgotten throughout life.

As yet, the subject has been so little studied by candid inquiries, that
there are but a few facts which can be mentioned as fully established.
The form and shape under which ghosts appear, are the result of the
imagination of the ghost seer only, whether he beholds angels or devils,
men or animals. If his receptive power is highly developed, he will see
them in their completeness, and discern even the minutest details; weak
persons, on the other hand, perceive nothing more than a faint, luminous
or whitish appearance, mere fragmentary and embryonic visions. These
powers of perception may, however, be improved by practice, and those
who see ghosts frequently, are sure to discover one feature after
another, until the whole form stands clearly and distinctly before their
mind's eye. The ear is generally more susceptible than the eye to the
approach of ghosts, and often warns the mind long before the apparition
becomes visible. The noises heard are apt to be vague and ill defined,
consisting mainly of a low whispering or restless rustling, a strange
moving to and fro, or the blowing of cold air in various directions.
Many sounds, however, are so peculiar, that they are never heard except
in connection with ghosts, and hence, baffle all description. It need
not be added, that the great majority of such sounds also exist only in
the mind of the hearer, but as the latter is, in his state of
excitement, fully persuaded that he hears them, they are to him as real
as if they existed outside of his being. Nor are they always confined to
the ghost seer. On the contrary, the hearing of such sounds is as
contagious as the seeing of such sights; and not only men are thus
affected, and see and hear what others experience, but even the higher
animals, horses and dogs, share in this susceptibility. When ghosts
appear to speak, the voice is almost always engastrimantic, that is, the
ghost seer produces the words himself, in a state of ecstatic
unconsciousness, and probably by a kind of instinctive ventriloquism. To
these phenomena of sight and hearing must be added, thirdly, the
occasional violent moving about of heavy substances. Furniture seems to
change its place, ponderous objects disappear entirely, or the whole
surrounding scene assumes a new order and arrangement. These phenomena,
as far as they really exist, must be ascribed to higher, as yet
unexplained powers, and suggest the view entertained by many writers on
the subject, that disembodied spirits, as they are freed from the
mechanical laws of nature, possess also the power to suspend them in
everything with which they come in contact. The last feature in
ghost-seeing, which is essential, is the cold shudder, the ineffable
dread, which falls upon poor mortal man, at the moment when he is
brought into contact with an unknown world. Already Job said: "Fear came
upon me and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit
passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up" (iv. 14, 15). This
sense of vague, and yet almost intolerable dread, resembles the agony of
the dying man; it is perfectly natural, since the seeing of ghosts, that
is, of disembodied spirits, can only become possible by the more or
less complete suspension of the ordinary life in the flesh. For a
moment, all bodily functions are suspended, the activity of the brain
ceases, and consciousness itself is lost as in a fit of fainting. This
rarely happens without a brief instinctive struggle, and the final
victory of an unseen and unknown power, which deprives the mind of its
habitual mastery over the body, is necessarily accompanied by intense
pain and overwhelming anguish.

Well-authenticated cases of the appearance of spirits of departed
persons are mentioned in the earliest writings. Valerius Maximus relates
in graphic words the experience of the poet Simonides, who was about to
enter a vessel for the purpose of undertaking a long journey with some
of his friends, when he discovered a dead body lying unburied on the
sea-shore. Shocked by the impiety of the unknown man's friends, he
delayed his departure to give to the corpse a decent funeral. During the
following night, the spirit of this man appeared to him and advised him
not to sail on the next day. He obeys the warning; his friends leave
without him, and perish miserably in a great tempest. Deeply moved by
his sad loss, but equally grateful for his own miraculous escape, he
erected to the memory of his unknown friend a noble monument in verses,
unmatched in beauty and pathos. Phlegon, also, the freedman of the
Emperor Hadrian, has left us in his work, _De Mirabilibus_, one of the
most touching instances of such ghost-seeing; it is the well-known story
of Machates and Philimion, which Goethe reproduced in his "Bride of
Corinth." Nor must we forget the numerous examples of visions in dreams,
by which the Almighty chose to reveal His will to his beloved among the
chosen people--a series of apparitions, which the Church has taken care
to continue during the earlier ages, in almost unbroken succession from
saint to saint. Pagans were converted by such revelations, martyrs were
comforted, the wounded healed, and even an Emperor, Constantine, cured
of leprosy, by the appearance of the two apostles, Peter and Paul.

The truth, which lies at the bottom of all such appearances, is
probably, that ghostly disturbances are uniformly the acts of men, but
of men who have ceased for a time to be free agents, and who have, for
reasons to be explained presently, acquired exceptional powers. Thus, a
famous jurist, Counselor Hellfeld, in Jena, was one evening on the point
of signing the death warrant of a cavalry soldier. The subject had
deeply agitated his mind for days, and before seizing his pen, he
invoked, as was his custom in such cases, the "aid of the Almighty
through His holy spirit." At that moment--it was an hour before
midnight--he hears heavy blows fall upon his window, which sound as if
the panes were struck with a riding-whip. His clerk also hears the blows
distinctly, and begins to tremble violently. This apparent accident
induces the judge to delay his action; he devotes the next day to a
careful re-perusal of the evidence, and is now led to the conviction
that the crime deserves only a minor punishment. Ere the year has
closed, another criminal is caught, and volunteers the confession that
he was the perpetrator of the crime for which the soldier was punished.
In that solemn moment, it was, of course, only the judge's own mind,
deeply moved and worn out by painful work, which warned him in a
symbolic manner not to be precipitate, and the very fact that the blows
sounded as if they had been produced by a whip proved his unconscious
association of the noise with the cavalry soldier. And yet he and his
clerk believed and solemnly affirmed, that they had heard the mysterious
blows! This dualism, which, as it were, divides man into two beings, one
of whom follows and watches the other, while both are unconscious of
their identity, is the magic element in these phenomena. This
unconsciousness, proving--as in dreams--the inactivity of our reason,
produces the natural effect, that we fancy all ghostly appearances are
foolish, wanton and wicked. The fact is, moreover that they almost
always proceed from a more or less diseased or disturbed mind, and
acquire importance only in so far as it is our duty here also to
eliminate truth from error. Thus only can we hope to counteract their
mischievous tendency, and to prevent still stronger delusions from
obtaining a mastery over weak minds. This is the purpose of a club
formed in London in 1869, the members of which find amusement and useful
employment in investigating all cases of haunted houses and other
ghostly appearances.

That the belief in ghostly disturbances is not a modern error, we see
from St. Augustine, who already mentions the farm of a certain Hasparius
as disquieted by loud noises till the prayer of a pious priest restored
peace. The Catholic Church has a St. Cæsarius, who purified in like
manner the house of the physician Elpidius in Ravenna, which was filled
with evil spirits and only admitted the owner after he had passed
through a shower of stones. Another saint, Hubertus, was himself annoyed
by ghosts in his residence at Camens, and never succeeded in obtaining
peace till he died, in 958. Wicked or interested men take, of course,
but too readily advantage of the credulity of men and employ similar
disturbances for personal purposes; such was the case with the ghosts
that haunted the Council house in Constance and the palace at Woodstock
in Cromwell's time. The case of a scrupulously conscientious Protestant
minister in Germany, which created in 1719 a great excitement throughout
the empire, is well calculated to show the real nature of a number of
such ghostly disturbances. He had been called to the death-bed of a
notorious sinner, a woman, who desired at the last moment to receive the
comforts of religion. Unfortunately he reached her house too late; she
was already unconscious, and died in his presence, as he thought,
unreconciled with her God and with himself, whom she had often insulted
and cursed in life. Deeply disturbed he returned home, and after having
dwelt upon the painful subject with intense anxiety for several days he
began to hear footsteps in his house. Gradually they became more
frequent; then he distinguished them clearly as a woman's step, and at
last they were accompanied by the dragging of a gown. Watches were set,
sand was strewn, dogs were kept in the house--but all in vain; no trace
of man was found, and still the sounds continued. The unhappy man prayed
day and night, and the noise disappeared for a fortnight. When he ceased
praying they returned, louder than ever. He sternly bids the ghost
desist, and behold! the ghost obeys. When he asks if it is a good angel
or a demon, no answer is given; but the question: Art thou the Devil?
finds an immediate reply in rapid steps up and down the house--for the
poor man's mind was filled with the idea that such things can be done
only by the Evil One. At last he summons all his remaining energy and in
a tone of command he orders the ghost to depart and never to reappear.
From that moment all disturbances cease--and very naturally, for the
haunted, disturbed man, had fully recovered the command over himself;
the dualism that produced all the spectral phenomena had ceased, and the
restored mind accomplished its own cure. As these phenomena are thus
produced from within, it appears perfectly natural also that they should
be reported as occurring most frequently in the month of November.
Religious minds and superstitious dispositions have brought this fact
into a quaint connection with the approach of Advent-time, but the cause
is probably purely physical; the dark and dismal month with its dense
fogs emblematic of coming winter predisposes the mind to gloomy thoughts
and renders it less capable of resisting atmospheric influences.

A very general belief ascribes such disturbances, under the name of
"haunted houses," to the souls of deceased persons who can find no rest
beyond the grave. The series of ghost stories based upon this
supposition begins with the account of Suetonius and continues unbroken
to our day. Then it was the spirit of Caligula, which could not be quiet
so long as his body, which had only been half burned, remained in that
disgraceful condition. Night after night his house and his garden were
visited by strange apparitions, till the palace was destroyed by fire
and the emperor's sisters rendered the last honors to his remains.

Thus the disposition of modern inquiries to trace back all popular
accounts of great events, all familiar anecdotes and fairy tales, and
even proverbs and maxims, to the ancients, has been fully gratified in
this case also. They were not only known to antiquity, but formed a
staple of popular tales. Thus the younger Pliny tells us one which he
had frequently heard related. At Athens there stood a large, comfortable
mansion, which, however, was ill-reputed. Night after night, it was
said, chains were heard rattling, first at a distance, and then coming
nearer, till a pale, haggard shape was seen approaching, wearing beard
and hair in long dishevelled locks and clanking the chains it bore on
hands and feet. The occupants of the house could not sleep, were
terrified, sickened and died. Thus it came about that the fine building
stood empty, year after year, and was at last offered for sale at a low
price. About that time the philosopher Athenodorus came to Athens and
saw the notice; he had his suspicions aroused by the small sum demanded
for the house, inquired about the causes and rented the house. For he
was a man of courage and meant to fathom the mystery.

On the evening of the first day he dismissed his servants and remained
alone in the front room, writing and occupying himself, purposely, with
grave and abstract questions, so as to allow no opening for his
imagination. As soon as all was quiet around him the clanking and
rattling of chains begins; but he pays no heed and continues to write.
The noise approaches and enters the room; as he looks up he sees the
well-known weird shape before him. It beckons him, but he demands
patience and writes on as before; then the ghost shakes his chains over
his head and beckons once more imperatively. Now he rises, takes his
lamp, and follows his visitor through the passages into a court-yard,
where the ghost disappears. The philosopher pulls up some grass on the
spot and marks the place. On the following day he appeals to the
authorities to cause the place to be dug up; and when this is done, the
bones of an old man, loaded with heavy chains, are found. From that time
the house was left undisturbed, as if the departed had only desired to
induce some intelligent person to bestow upon him the honors of a
decent burial, which among the ancients were held all-important.
("Letter to Sera," l. vii. 27.) The story told by Lucian
("Philopseudes," xxx.) is almost identical with that of Pliny. Here,
also, a house in Corinth, once belonging to Eubatides, was left
unoccupied, for the same reasons, and began to decay, when the
Pythagorean, Arignotus, determined to ascertain the reality of these
nightly appearances. He goes there after midnight, places his lamp on
the floor, lies down and begins to read. Soon a horrible monster
appears, black as night, and changes from one disgusting beast into
another, till at last it yields to the stern command of the intrepid
philosopher and disappears in a corner of the large room. When day
breaks, workmen are brought in to take up the floor; a skeleton is found
and decently interred, and from that day the house is left to its usual
peace and quiet. ("Epist." l. vii. 27.) Plutarch, also, in his "Life of
Cimon," states that the baths at Chæronea were haunted by the ghost of
Damon, who had there found his death; the doors were walled up and the
place forsaken, but up to his day no relief had been devised, and
fearful sights and terrible sounds continued to render the place

Nor are Eastern lands unacquainted with this popular belief. Egypt has
its haunted houses in nearly every village, and in Cairo there are a
great number, while in Tunis whole streets were abandoned to ghostly
occupants. In Nankin a great mandarin owned a spacious building which
he could neither occupy himself nor rent to others, because of its evil
reputation. At last the Jesuit Riccius, a missionary, offered to take it
for his order; the fathers moved into it, conquered the ghosts by some
means best known to themselves, and not only obtained a good house but
great prestige with the natives for their triumph over the spirits (C.
Hasart. _Hist. Eccles. Sinica_, p. 4, ch. iii.).

The same singular belief is not only met with in every age and among the
most enlightened nations, but even in our own century a similar case
occurred and is well authenticated. The Duke Charles Alexander of
Würtemberg of unholy memory, died at the town of Ludwigsburg, perhaps by
murder. For years afterwards the palace was the scene of most violent
disturbances; even the sentinels, powerful and well-armed men, were
bodily lifted up and thrown across the parapet of the terrace. At other
times the whole building appeared to be filled with people; doors were
opened and closed, lights were seen in the apartments and dim figures
flitted to and fro. Large detachments of troops under the command of
officers, specially selected for the purpose, were ordered to march
through the palace more than once, on such occasions, but never
discovered a trace of human agency (Kerner. _Bilder._ p. 143). Even the
great Frederick of Prussia, a man whose thoroughly skeptical mind might
surely be supposed to have been free from all superstition, was once
forced to admit his inability to explain by natural causes an occurrence
of the kind. A Catholic priest in Silesia lost his cook, who had been
specially dear to him; her ghost--as it was called--continued to haunt
the house, and, most strange of all, not in order to disturb its peace,
but to perform the usual domestic service. The floors were swept, the
fires made, and linen washed, all by invisible hands. Frederick, who
accidentally heard of the matter, ordered a captain and a lieutenant of
his guard to investigate it; they were received by the beating of drums
and then allowed to witness the same household performances. When the
grim old captain broke out in a fearful curse, he received a severe box
on the ears and retreated utterly discomfited. Upon his report to the
king the house was pulled down and a new parsonage erected at some
distance from the place. The occurrence is mentioned in many historical
works and quoted without comment even by the great historian Menzel.
Another striking case of a somewhat different character, was fully
reported to the Colonial Office in London. The scene was a large vault
in the island of Barbadoes, hewn out of the live rock and accessible
only through a huge iron door, fastened in the usual way by strong bolts
and a lock, the key to which was kept at the Government House. During
the year 1819 it was opened four times for purposes of interment, and
each time it was observed that all the coffins in the vault had been
violently thrown about. The Governor, Lord Combermere, went himself,
accompanied by his staff and a number of officers, to examine the place,
and found the vault itself in perfect order and without a trace of
violence. He ordered the door to be closed with cement and placed his
seal upon the latter, an example followed by nearly all the bystanders.
Eight months later, the 28th of April, 1820, he had the vault opened in
the presence of a large company of friends and within sight of a crowd
of several thousands. The cement and the seals were found to be perfect
and uninjured; the sand which had been carefully strewn over the floor
of the vault showed no footmark or sign whatever, but the coffins were
again thrown about in great confusion. One, of such weight that it
required eight men to move it, was found standing upright, and a child's
coffin had been violently dashed against the wall. A carefully drawn up
report with accompanying drawings was sent home, but no explanation has
ever been discovered. Scientific men were disposed to ascribe the
disturbance to earthquakes, but the annals of the island report none
during those years; there remains, however, the possibility that the
examination of the vault was after all imperfect, and that the sea might
have had access to it through some hidden cleft. In that case an
unusually high tide might very well have been the invisible agent.

Even the Indian of our far West cherishes the same superstitious belief,
and in his lodge on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, he hears
mysterious knockings. To him they are the kindly warning of a spirit,
whom he calls the Great Bear, which announces some great calamity.

That certain localities seem to be frequented by ghosts, that is, to be
haunted, with special preference, must be ascribed to the contagious
nature of such mental affections as generally produce these phenomena.
This is, moreover, by no means limited, as is commonly believed, to
Northern regions, where frequent fogs and dense mists, short days and
long nights, together with sombre surroundings and awe-inspiring sounds
in nature, combine to predispose the mind to expect supernatural
appearances. Thus, for instance, fair Suabia, one of the most favored
portions of Germany, sweet and smiling in its fertile plains, and by no
means specially gruesome, even in the most secluded parts of the Black
Forest, teems with haunted localities. Dr. Kerner's home, Weinsberg,
enjoyed ghostly visits almost in every house; the neighborhood was
similarly favored, and even in the open country there are countless
peasants' cottages and noblemen's seats, which are frequented by ghosts.
One of the most attractive estates in Würtemberg was purchased in 1815
by a distinguished soldier, whose dauntless courage had caused him to
rise rapidly from grade to grade under the eye of the great Napoleon.
Soon after his arrival his wife was aroused every night by a variety of
mysterious noises, rising from weird, low whinings to terrific
explosions. The colonel also heard them, and tried his best to ascertain
the cause. Night after night, moreover, the great castle clock, which
went perfectly well all day long, struck at wrong hours, and was found
all wrong in the morning. The disturbing powers soon became personal;
for one night, when the colonel, sitting at the supper table, and
hearing the usual sounds, said angrily, "I wish the ghost would make
himself known!" a fearful explosion took place, knocking down the
speaker and bringing all the inmates of the house to the room. Search
was immediately instituted, and the main weight of the great clock was
discovered to be missing. A new weight had to be ordered, and only long
afterwards the old one was found wedged in between two floors above the
clock. Nor were the disturbances confined to the castle: at midnight the
horses in the stable became restless and almost wild, tearing themselves
loose and sweating till they were covered with white foam. One night the
colonel went to the stable, mounted his favorite charger, who had borne
him in the din and roar of many a battle, and awaited the striking of
midnight. Instantly the poor animal began to tremble, then to rear and
kick furiously, until his master, famous as a good horseman, could hold
him in no longer, and was carried around the stable by the maddened
horse so as to imperil his life. After an hour, the poor creatures began
to calm down, but stood trembling in all their limbs; the colonel's own
horse succumbed to the trial and died in the morning. A new stable had
to be built, which remained free from disturbances.

By far the most remarkable and, strange enough, at the same time the
best authenticated of all accounts of disturbances caused by recently
departed friends is found in a memoir written by the sufferer herself,
and addressed to the famous Baron Grimm under the pseudonym of Mr. Meis.
Through the latter the story reached Goethe, who at once appropriated it
in all its details, and merely changing the name of the principal to
Antonelli, inserted it in his "Conversations of German Emigrants." The
same event is fully related in the "Memoirs of the Margravine of
Anspach" as "a story which at that time created a great sensation in
Paris, and excited universal curiosity." But even greater authority yet
is given to this account by the fact that it was officially recorded in
the police reports of Paris, from which it has been frequently extracted
for publication. Mdlle. Hippolyte Clairon makes substantially the
following statements: "In the year 1743 my youth and my success on the
stage procured for me much attention from young fops and elderly
profligates, among whom, however, I found frequently a few better men.
One of these, who made a deep impression upon me, was a Mr. S., the son
of a merchant from Brittany, about thirty years old, fair of features,
well made, and gifted with some talent for poetry. His conversation and
his manners showed that he had received a superior education, and that
he was accustomed to good society, while his reserve and bashfulness,
which prevented him from allowing his attachment to be seen, made him
all the dearer to me. When I had ascertained his discretion, I permitted
him to visit me, and gave him to understand that he might call himself
my friend. He took this patiently, seeing that I was still free and not
without tender feelings, and hoping that time might inspire me with a
warmer affection. Who knows what might have happened! But I used to
question him closely, both from curiosity and from prudence, and his
candid answers destroyed his prospects; for he confessed that,
dissatisfied with his modest station in life, he had sold his property
in order to live in Paris in better society, and I did not like this.
Men who are ashamed of themselves are not, it seems to me, calculated to
inspire others with respect. Besides, he was of a melancholy and
dissatisfied temper, knowing men too well, as he said, not to despise
and avoid them. He intended to visit no one but myself, and to induce me
also to see no one but him. You may imagine how I disliked such ideas. I
might have been held by garlands, but did not wish to be bound with
chains. From that moment I saw that I must disappoint his hopes, and
gradually withdrew from his society. This caused him a severe illness,
during which I showed him all possible attention. But my steady refusal
to do more for him only deepened the wound, and at the same time the
poor young man had the misfortune of being stripped of nearly all his
property by his faithless brother, to whom he had intrusted the sale of
all he owned, so that he saw himself compelled to accept small sums from
me for the payment of his daily food and the necessary medicines.

"At last he recovered part of his property, but his health was ruined;
and as I thought I was rendering him a real service by widening the
distance between us, I refused henceforth to receive his letters and his

"Thus matters went on for two years and a half, when he died. He had
sent for me, wishing to enjoy the happiness of seeing me once more in
his last moments, but my friends would not allow me to go. He had no one
near him except his servants and an old lady, who had of late been his
only companion. Our lodgings were far apart: his near the
Chaussée-d'Antin, where only a few houses had as yet been built, and
mine near the Abbey of St. Martin. My daily guests were an agent, who
attended to all my professional duties, Mr. Pipelet, well known and
beloved by all who knew him, and Rosely, one of my fellow-comedians, a
kind young man full of wit and talent. We had modest little suppers, but
we were merry and enjoyed ourselves heartily. One evening I had just
been singing several pretty airs which seemed to delight my friends,
when the clock struck eleven, and at the same moment an extremely sharp
cry was heard. Its plaintive sound and long duration amazed everybody; I
fainted away and remained for nearly a quarter of an hour unconscious.

"My agent was in love with me and so mad with jealousy that when I
recovered, he overwhelmed me with reproaches, and said the signals for
my interview were rather loud. I told him that as I had the right to
receive when and whom I chose, no signals were needed, and this cry had
surely been heart-rending enough to convince him that it announced no
sweet moments. My paleness, my tremor, which lasted for some time, my
tears flowing silently and almost unconsciously, and my urgent request
that somebody would stay up with me during the night, all these signs
convinced him of my innocence. My friends remained with me, discussing
the fearful cry, and determining finally to station guards around the

"Nevertheless the dread sound was repeated night after night; my
friends, all the neighbors, and even the policemen who were stationed
near us, heard it distinctly; it seemed to be uttered immediately under
my window, where nothing could ever be seen. There was no doubt
entertained as to the person for whom it was intended, for whenever I
supped out, no cry was heard; but frequently after my return, when I
entered my room and inquired about it of my mother and my servants, it
suddenly pierced the air anew. Once the president of the court, at whose
house I had been entertained, proposed to see me home in safety; at the
moment when he wished me good-night at the door, the cry was heard right
between us, and the poor man had to be lifted into his carriage more
dead than alive.

"Another time my young companion, Rosely, a clever, witty man, who
believed in nothing in heaven or on earth, was riding with me in my
carriage on our way to a friend who lived in a distant part of the city.
We were discussing the fearful torment to which I was exposed, and he,
laughing at me, at last declared he would never believe it unless he
heard it with his own ears, and defied me to summon my lover. I do not
know how I came to yield, but instantly the cry was repeated three
times, and with overwhelming fierceness. When our carriage reached the
house, the servants found us both lying unconscious on the cushions, and
had to summon assistance before we recovered. After this I heard nothing
for several months, and began to hope that all was over. But I was sadly

"The members of the king's troop of comedians had all been ordered to
appear at Versailles, in honor of the dauphin's marriage, and as we were
to spend three days there, lodgings had been provided. It so happened,
however, that a friend of mine, Mme. Grandval, had been forgotten, and
seeing her trouble, I at last offered her, towards three o'clock in the
morning, to share my room, in which there were two beds. This forced me
to take my maid into my own bed, and as she was in the act of coming, I
said to her: 'Here we are at the end of the world, the weather is
abominable, and the cry would find it hard to follow us here!' At that
moment it resounded close to us; Mme. Grandval jumped up terribly
frightened, and ran through the whole house, waking everybody, and
keeping us all in such a state of excitement that not an eye was closed
the whole night. Seven or eight days later, as I was chatting merrily
with a number of friends, at the striking of the hour, a shot was
heard, coming apparently through my window. We all heard it and saw the
fire, but the pane was not broken. Everybody thought at once of an
attempt to murder me, and some friends hastened instantly to the Chief
of Police. Men were immediately sent to search the houses opposite, and
for several days and nights the street was strictly guarded by a number
of soldiers; my own house was searched from roof to cellar, and friends
came in large companies to assist in watchings: nevertheless, the shot
fell night after night at the same hour, for three months, with
unfailing accuracy. No clue was found and no sign was seen save the
sound of the shot and the sight of the fire. Daily reports of the
occurrence were sent to the headquarters of the police, new measures
were continually devised and applied, but the authorities were baffled
as well as all who tried to fathom the mystery. I became at last quite
accustomed to the disturbance, and was in the habit of speaking of it as
the doing of a _bon diable_, because he contented himself so long a time
with jugglers' tricks; but one night as I had stepped through the open
window out upon a balcony, and was standing there with my agent by my
side, the shot suddenly fell again and knocked us both back into the
room, where we fell down as if dead. When we recovered our
consciousness, we got up, and after some hesitation, confessed to each
other that our ears had been severely boxed, his on the right side and
mine on the left, whereupon we gave way to hearty laughter. The next
night was quiet, but on the following day I was riding with my maid to
a friend's house, where I had been invited to meet some acquaintances.
As we passed through a certain part of the city, I recognized the houses
in the bright moonlight, and said jestingly: 'This looks very much like
the part of town where poor S. used to live.' At the same moment a near
church clock struck eleven, and instantly a shot was fired at us from
one of the buildings, which seemed to pass through our carriage. The
coachman thought we had been attacked by robbers, and whipped his horses
to escape; I knew what it meant, but still felt thoroughly frightened,
and reached the house in a state little suited for social enjoyment.
This was, however, the last time my unfortunate friend used a gun.

"In place of the firing there came now a loud clapping of hands, with
certain modulations and repetitions. This sound, to which I had become
accustomed on the stage by the kindness of my friends, did not disturb
me as much as my companions. They would station themselves around my
door and under my window; they heard it distinctly, but could not see a
trace of any person. I do not remember how long this continued; but it
was followed by the singing of a sweet, almost heavenly melody, which
began at the upper end of the street and gradually swelled till it
reached my house, where it slowly expired. Then the disturbance ceased

"The only light that was ever thrown upon the mystery came from an old
lady who called on me on the pretext of wishing to see my house which I
had offered for rent. I was very much struck by her venerable appearance
and her evident emotion. I offered her a chair and sat down opposite to
her, but was for some time unable to say a word. At last she seemed to
gather courage and told me that she had long wished to make my
acquaintance, but had not dared to come so long as I was constantly
surrounded by hosts of friends and admirers. At last she had happened to
see my advertisement and availed herself of the opportunity in order to
see me--and to visit my house, which had a deep though melancholy
interest in her eyes. I guessed at once that she was the faithful friend
who alone remained by the bedside of poor S., when he was prostrated by
a fatal disease and refused to see anybody else. For months, she now
told me, he had spoken of nothing save of myself, looking upon me now as
an angel and now as a demon, but utterly unable to keep his thoughts
from dwelling uninterruptedly upon the one subject which filled his mind
and his heart alike. I tried to explain to the old lady how I had fully
appreciated his good qualities and noble impulses, finding it, however,
impossible to fall in with his peculiar views of society and to promise,
as he insisted I should do, to forsake all I loved for the purpose of
living with him in loneliness and complete retirement. I told her, also,
that when he sent for me to see him in his last moments, my friends
prevented my going, and that I felt myself that the sight of his death
under such circumstances would have been dangerous in the extreme to my
peace of mind, besides being utterly useless to the dying man. She
admitted the force of my reasoning, but repeated that my refusal had
hastened his end and deprived him at the last moment of all
self-control. In this state of mind, when a few minutes before eleven,
the servant had entered and assured him in answer to his passionate
inquiry, that no one had come, he had exclaimed: 'The heartless woman!
She shall gain nothing by her cruelty, for I will pursue her after death
as I have pursued her during life!' and with these words on his lips he
had expired."

The impression produced by this thoroughly authenticated recital is a
strong argument in favor of a continued connection after death of the
human soul with the world in which we live. There was a man whose whole
existence was absorbed by one great and all-pervading passion; it
brought ruin to his body and disabled his mind from correcting the
vagaries of his fancy. He died in this state, with a sense of grievous
wrong and intense thirst of revenge uppermost in his mind. Then follow a
number of magic phenomena, witnessed, for several years, by thousands of
attached friends and curious observers, defying the vigilance of
soldiers and the acuteness of police agents. These disturbances, at
first bearing the stamp of willful annoyance, gradually assume a milder
form, as if expressive of softening indignation; they become weaker and
less frequent, and finally cease altogether, suggestive of the peace
which the poor erring soul had at last found, by infinite mercy and
goodness, when safely entering the desired haven.

On the other hand--for contrasts meet here as well as elsewhere--these
phenomena have been frequently ascribed to purely physical causes, and
in a number of cases the final explanation has confirmed this
suggestion. A hypochondriac artist, for instance, was nightly disturbed
by a low but furious knocking in his bed, which was heard by others as
well as by himself. He prayed, he caused priests to come to his bedside,
he had masses read in his behalf, but all remained in vain. Then came a
plain, sensible friend, who, half in jest and half in earnest, covered
his big toe with a brass wire which he dipped into an alkaline solution,
and behold, the knockings ceased and never returned! (Dupotel, "Animal
Magn.") In another case a somnambulistic woman frightened herself as
well as others by most violent knockings whenever she was disappointed
or thwarted; her physician, suspecting the cause, finally gave her
antispasmodic remedies, and it soon appeared that in her nervous spasms
the muscles had been vibrating forcibly enough to produce these
disturbances. Since these discoveries it has been found that almost
anybody may produce such knockings--which stand in a suspicious
relationship to spirit-rappings--by exerting certain muscles of the leg;
some men, who have practised this trick for scientific purposes, like
Professor Schiff, of Florence, are able to imitate almost all the
various knockings generally ascribed to ghosts and spirits. The public
performances of Mr. Chauncey Burr, in New York, gave very striking
illustrations of this power, and a Mr. Shadrach Barnes rapped with his
toes to perfection.

In a large number of cases such phenomena appear in connection with
persons who suffer of some nervous disease, and then the knockings are,
of course, produced unconsciously, and may be accompanied by evidences
of exceptional powers. It need not be added, however, that the two
symptoms are not necessarily of the same nature; generally the
mechanical knockings precede the development of ecstatic visions. A girl
of eleven years, the child of humble Alsatian parents, presented, in
1852, this succession of symptoms very strikingly. The child had a habit
of falling asleep at all hours; at once mysterious knockings began to
perform a dance or a march, and continued daily for more than an hour.
After some time the poor girl began, also, to talk in her sleep, and to
converse with the knocking agent. She would order him to beat a tattoo,
or to play a quickstep, and immediately it was done. The directions of
bystanders, even when not uttered but merely formed earnestly in their
mind, were obeyed in like manner. Finally the child, getting no doubt
worse and unmercifully excited by the crowds of curious people who
thronged the house, began to admonish her audience, and to preach and
pray; during these exhortations no knockings were heard, but she became
clairvoyant and recognized all the persons present, even with her eyes
closed. She fancied that a black man with a red shawl produced the
knockings and delivered the speeches. Her clairvoyance became at last so
striking that her case excited the deepest interest of persons in high
social position, and several physicians examined it with great care. Her
disease was declared to be neurosis coeliaca ("Magicon," v. 274).

A very peculiar and utterly inexplicable phenomenon belonging to this
class of ghostly appearances is the complete removal of persons by an
unseen power. The idea of such occurrences must have been current among
the Jews, for when "there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire
... and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (II. Kings ii. 11),
the sons of the prophets did not at once resign themselves, but sent
fifty strong men to seek him, "lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord
hath taken him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley"
(v. 16). In the New Testament the same mysterious removal is mentioned
in the case of Philip, after his interview with the Ethiopian, whom he
baptized. "The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch
saw him no more," and "Philip was found at Azotus" (Acts viii. 39, 40).
What in these cases was done by divine power, is said to be occasionally
the work of an unknown and unseen force. Generally, no doubt, men or
children lose themselves by accident, either when they are already from
illness or other cause in a state of semi-consciousness, or when they
become so bewildered and frightened by the accident itself, that they
fancy they must have been carried away by a mysterious power. The best
authenticated case is reported in Beaumont (p. 65). An Irish steward,
crossing a field, saw in it a large company feasting, and was invited to
join their meal. One of them, however, warned him in a whisper not to
accept anything that should be offered. Upon his refusal to eat, the
table vanished and the men were seen dancing to a merry music. He was
again invited to join, and when he refused, all disappeared, and he
found himself alone. He hurried home thoroughly terrified, and fainted
away in his room. During the night he dreamt--or really saw--that one of
the mysterious company appeared at his bedside and announced to him that
if he dare leave the house on the following day, he would be carried
away. He remained at home till the evening, when, thinking himself safe,
he stepped across the threshold. Instantly his companions saw him, with
a rope around his body, hurried away so fast that they could not follow.
At last they meet a horseman whom they request by signs to arrest the
unhappy victim; he seizes the rope and receives a smart blow, but
rescues the steward. Lord Orrery desired to see the man, and when the
latter presented himself before the earl, he reported that another
nightly visitor had threatened him as before. He was, thereupon, placed
in a large room under the guard of several stout men; a number of
distinguished persons, two bishops among them, went constantly in and
out. In the afternoon he was suddenly lifted into the air; a famous
boxer, Greatrix, who had been specially engaged to guard him, and
another powerful man, seized him by the shoulders, but he was dragged
from their grasp and for some time carried about high above their heads,
till at last he fell into the arms of some of his keepers. During the
night the same apparition stood once more by his bed-side, inviting him
to drink of a gray porridge, which would cure him of all ills and
protect him against further violence. He suffered himself to be
persuaded, when the visitor made himself known as a former friend who
had to attend those mysterious meetings in punishment of the dissolute
life he had led upon earth, and who now wished to save another unhappy
fellow-being from a like sad fate. At the same time he reminded him of
his neglect to pray, and then disappeared. The steward speedily
recovered from his fright, and was no further molested. There can be
little doubt that the man was ill at ease in body and in conscience, and
that this double burden was too heavy to bear for his mind; his thoughts
became disordered, till he felt an apparently external power stronger
than his own will, and thus not only imagined strange visions, but
actually obeyed erratic impulses of his diseased mind, as if they were
acts of violence from without.

A favorite pastime of these pseudo-ghosts is the throwing of stones at
the buildings or even into the rooms of those whom they wish to annoy.
Good Cotton Mather loved to tell stories of such perverse proceedings,
and states at length the sufferings of George Walton, at Portsmouth, in
1682. Invisible hands threw such a hailstorm of stones against his
house, that the door was burst open, although the inhabitants, when hit
by the stones, only felt a slight touch. Then the stones began to fly
about inside, and to destroy the window-panes from within; when picked
up by some of the witnesses, they proved to be burning hot; they were
marked and placed upon a table, whereupon they commenced to fly about
once more. It is characteristic of the whole proceeding that the only
person really injured by the operation was the owner of the house, a
quaker! The learned author delights also in recitals of children who
were plagued by evil spirits, having forks and knives, pins and sharp
scissors stuck into their backs, and whose food, at the moment when it
was to be carried from the plate to the mouth, flew away, leaving yarn,
ashes, and vile things to reach the palate! At other times the
disturbance assumes a somewhat more dignified form, and appears as the
ringing of bells. Thus Baxter tells us of a house at Colne Priory, in
Essex, where, for a time, every morning at two o'clock a large bell was
heard, while in the parish of Wilcot, a smaller bell waked the vicar
night after night with its tinkling, and yet could not be heard outside
of the dwelling. Physicians know very well how readily the pressure of
blood to certain vessels in the head produces the impression of the
ringing of bells, and experience tells us how easily men are made to
believe that they see or hear what others assure them is seen or heard
by everybody. Even the great John Wesley seems not to have been fully
convinced of the purely natural character of such disturbances, when
they annoyed his venerable father at Epworth Rectory; and Dr. Priestley,
a calm and cautious writer, says of these phenomena: "It is perhaps the
best-authenticated and the best-told story of the kind that is anywhere
extant, on which account, and to exercise the ingenuity of some
speculative person, I thought it not undeserved of being published." It
seems that in 1716 the rectory became the scene of strange disturbances,
which were at first ascribed to one of the minister's enemies, Jeffrey.
The inmates heard an incessant walking about, sighing and groaning,
cackling and crowing; a hand-mill was set whirling around by invisible
hands, and the Amen! with which Wesley's father ended the family prayer
was accompanied by a noise like thunder. Even the faithful watchdog was
disturbed and his instinct overawed, for he sought refuge with men, and
barked furiously, till his excitement rose to a state resembling
madness, he even anticipated the coming of the disturbance, and
announced it by his intense agitation.

The subject is one of extreme difficulty because of the large number of
cases in which all such disturbances have been clearly traced to the
agency of dissatisfied servants, hidden enemies, or envious neighbors,
whose sole purpose was a desire to drive the occupant from his house, or
to diminish its value. It is characteristic of human nature that the
cunning and the skill displayed on such occasions even by ignorant
servants and awkward rustics are perfectly amazing, a fact which proves
anew the assertion of old divines, that the Devil is vastly better
served than the Lord of Heaven. Even the best authenticated case of such
mysterious disturbances, Kerner's so-called Seeress of Prevorst, is not
entirely free from all suspicion. Mrs. Hauffe, a lady of delicate
health, great nervous irritability, and a mind which was, to say the
least, not too well balanced, became the patient of Dr. Justinus Kerner,
in southern Germany. Besides her mysterious power to reveal unknown
things, to read the future, and to prescribe for herself and others, of
which mention has been made before; she was also pursued by every
variety of strange noises. Plates and glasses, tables and chairs were
violently thrown about in the house in which she lived; a medicine phial
rose slowly into the air and had to be brought back by one of the
bystanders, and an easy-chair was lifted up to the ceiling, but came
down again quite gently. The suffering woman was the only one who knew
the cause of these phenomena; she ascribed them all to a dark spirit,
Belon's companion, who appeared to her as a black column of smoke, with
a hideous head, and whose approach oppressed even some of the
bystanders--especially the patient's sister. He was not content with
disturbing Mrs. Hauffe only, but carried his wantonness even into the
homes of distant friends and kinsmen. A pious minister, who frequently
visited the poor sufferer, was contagiously affected by the ill-fated
atmosphere of her house; night after night he was waked up, by a "bright
spirit," who coughed and sighed and sobbed in his presence, till a
fervent prayer drove him away; if the poor divine, however, prayed only
faintly or entertained doubts in his heart, the spirit mocked him with
increased energy. Later even the minister's wife succumbed, saw the same
luminous appearances and heard the same mysterious noises, till the
whole matter was suddenly brought to an end by an amulet! To this class
of occurrences belongs also the experience of the Rev. Dr. Phelps of
Stratford, Connecticut. One fine day he found, upon returning from
church, that all the doors of his house, which he had carefully locked,
were open and everything in the lower rooms in a state of boundless
confusion. Nothing, however, had been stolen. In the upper story a room
was found to be occupied by eight or ten persons diligently reading in
an open Bible, which each one held close to his face. Upon examination
these readers were discovered to be bundles of clothes carefully and
most cunningly arranged so as to represent living beings. Everything was
cleared away and the room was locked; but in three minutes, the
clothing, which had been put aside, disappeared, and when the door was
opened the same scene was presented. For seven long months the house was
haunted by most extraordinary phenomena; noises of every kind were
heard by day as well as by night; utensils and window-panes were broken
before the eyes of numerous witnesses by invisible hands, and the son of
the house, eleven years old, was bodily lifted up and carried away to
some distance. The most searching inquiry led to no result, until at
last Dr. Phelps, almost in despair, applied to some spiritualists, and
in consequence of the hints he received was enabled to bring the
disturbances to a speedy end (_Rechenberg_, p. 58).

Stone-throwing seems to be a favorite amusement with Eastern ghosts
also; at least we are told that it is quite frequent in the western part
of the Island of Java, where the Sunda people live amid gigantic
mountains and still active volcanoes. They believe in good and evil
spirits, and are firmly convinced that constant intercourse is kept up
between earth-born men and heavenly beings. The whole Indian Archipelago
is filled with the latter, and hence, the throwing of stones, sand and
gravel, by invisible hands, has a name of its own, it is called
Gundarua. Some thirty years ago, a German happened to be
Assistant-Resident at Sumadang, in the service of the Dutch government.
His wife had taken a fancy to a native child ten years old, who was
allowed to go in and out the house at will. One morning during the
German's absence, the child's white dress was found to be soiled all
over with red betel-juice, and at the moment when her patroness made
this discovery, a stone fell apparently from the ceiling, at her feet.
The same phenomenon was repeated over and over again, till the lady, in
her distress, appealed to a neighboring native sovereign, who promised
his assistance. He sent immediately a large force of armed men, who
surrounded the house and watched the room; nevertheless, the red spots
reappeared and stones fell as before. Towards evening, a Mohammedan
mufti, of high rank, was sent for; but he had scarcely opened his Koran,
to read certain sentences for the purpose of exorcising the demons, when
the sacred book was hurled to one side and the lamp to another. The lady
took the child to the prince's residence to spend the night there, and
no disturbance occurred. But when her husband, for whom swift messengers
had been sent out, returned on the following day, the same trouble
occurred; the child was spit at with betel-juice and stones kept falling
from on high. Soon the report reached the Governor-General at
Breitenzorg, who thereupon sent a man of great military renown, a Major
Michiels, to investigate the matter. Once more the house was surrounded
by an armed force, even the neighboring trees were carefully guarded,
and the major took the little girl upon his knees. In spite of all these
precautions, her dress was soon covered with red spots, and stones flew
about as before. No one, however, was injured. They were gathered up,
proved to be wet or hot, as if just picked up in the road, and at night
filled a huge box. The same process continued, when a huge sheet of
linen had been stretched from wall to wall, so as to form an inner
ceiling under the real ceiling; and now not only stones, but also fruit
from the surrounding trees, freshly gathered, and mortar from the
kitchen fell into the newly formed tent. At the same time the furniture
was repeatedly disturbed, tumblers and wineglasses tossed about, and
marks left on the large mirror as if a moist hand had been passed over
the surface. The marvelous occurrences were duly reported to the home
government, and the king, William II., ordered that no pains should be
spared to clear up the matter. But no explanation was ever obtained;
only the fact was ascertained that similar phenomena had been repeatedly
observed in other parts of the island also, and were considered quite
ordinary occurrences by the natives. Certain families, it may be added,
claim to have inherited from their ancestors the power to make
themselves invisible, a gift which is almost invariably accompanied by
the Gundarua; as these native families gradually die out, the symptoms
of the latter also disappear more and more. There is no doubt that here,
as in the Russian _poganne_ (cursed places which are haunted by ghosts),
the belief in such appearances, bequeathed through long ages from father
to son, has finally obtained a force which renders it equal to reality
itself. Reason is not only biased, but actually held bound; the mind is
wrought up to a state of excitement in which it ceases to see clearly,
and finally visions assume an overwhelming force, which ends in symptoms
of what is called magic. The same law applies, for instance, to the
ancient home of charmers and magicians, the land of the Nile, where
also the studies of the ancient Magi have been assumed by a succession
of learned men, till they were taken up by fanatic Mohammedans, whose
creed arranges invisible beings, angels, demons, and others, in regular
order, and assigns them a home in distinct parts of the universe. It is
not without interest to observe that even Europeans, after a long
residence in the Orient, become deeply imbued with such notions, and men
like Bayle St. John, in his account of magic performances which he
witnessed, do not seem able to remain altogether impartial.

One of the most remarkable phenomena belonging to this branch of magic
is the appearance of living or recently deceased persons to friends or
supplicants. The peculiarity in this case consists in the constantly
changing character of the appearance: the double--as it is called--is
the vision of the dying man, which appears to others or to his own
senses. The former class of cases was well known in antiquity, for
Pythagoras already had, according to popular report, appeared to
numerous friends before he died. Herodotus and Maximus Tyrius state
both, that Aristæus sent his spirit into different lands to acquire
knowledge, and Epimenides and Hernestinus, from Claromenæ, were
popularly believed to be able to visit, when in a state of ecstasy, all
distant countries, and to return at pleasure. St. Augustine, also,
states ("Sermon," 123) that he, himself, had appeared to two persons who
had known him only by reputation, and advised them to go to Hippons in
order to obtain their health there by the intercession of St. Stephen.
They really went to the place and recovered from their disease. At
another time his form appeared to a famous teacher of eloquence in
Carthage and explained to him several most difficult passages in
Cicero's writings (_De cura pro mortuis_, ch. ii). The saints of the
Catholic church having possessed the gift of being in several places at
once, apparently so very generally, that the miracle has lost its
interest, except where peculiar circumstances seem to suggest the true
explanation. Such was, for instance, the last-mentioned case, recited by
St. Augustine (_De Civ. Dei._ l. 8. ch. 18). Præstantius requested a
philosopher to solve to him some doubts, but received no answer. The
following night, however, when Præstantius lay awake, troubled by his
difficulties, he suddenly saw his learned friend standing by his bedside
and heard from his lips all he desired to know. Upon meeting him next
day, he inquired why he had been unwilling to explain the matter in the
daytime, and thus caused himself the trouble of coming at midnight to
his house. "I never came to your house," was the reply, "but I dreamt
that I did." Here was very evidently a case of magic activity on the
part of the philosopher, whose mind was, in his sleep, busily engaged in
solving the propounded mystery and thus affected not himself only, but
his absent friend likewise.

The story of Dr. Donne's vision is well known, and deserves all the more
serious attention as his candor was above suspicion, and his judgment
held in the highest esteem. He formed part of an embassy sent to Henry
IV. of France, and had been two days in Paris, thinking constantly and
anxiously of his wife, whom he had left ill in London. Towards noon he
suddenly fell into a kind of trance, and when he recovered his senses
related to his friends that he had seen his beloved wife pass him twice,
as she walked across the room, her hair dishevelled and her child dead
in her arms. When she passed him the second time, she looked sadly into
his face and then disappeared. His fears were aroused to such a degree
by this vision that he immediately dispatched a special messenger to
England, and twelve days later he received the afflicting news that on
that day and at that hour his wife had, after great and protracted
suffering, been delivered of a still-born infant (Beaumont, p. 96). In
Macnish's excellent work on "Sleep," we find (p. 180) the following
account: "A Mr. H. went one day, apparently in the enjoyment of full
health, down the street, when he saw a friend of his, Mr. C., who was
walking before him. He called his name aloud, but the latter pretended
not to hear him, and steadily walked on. H. hastened his steps to
overtake him, but his friend also hurried on, and thus remained at the
same distance from him; thus the two walked for some time, till suddenly
Mr. C. entered a gateway, and when Mr. H. was about to follow, slammed
the door violently in his face. Perfectly amazed at such unusual
conduct, Mr. H. opened the door and looked down the long passage, upon
which it opened, but saw no one. Determined to solve the mystery, he
hurried to his friend's house, and there, to his great astonishment,
learnt that Mr. C. had been confined to his bed for some days. It was
not until several weeks later that the two friends met at the house of a
common acquaintance; Mr. H. told Mr. C. of his adventure, and added
laughingly, that having seen his double, he was afraid Mr. C. would not
live long. These words were received by all with hearty laughter; but
only a few days after this meeting the unfortunate friend was seized
with a violent illness, to which he speedily succumbed." What is most
remarkable, however, is that Mr. H. also followed him, quite
unexpectedly, soon to the grave. Whatever may have been the nature of
the event itself, it cannot be doubted that the minds of both friends
were far more deeply impressed by its mysteriousness than they would
probably have been willing to acknowledge to themselves, and that the
nervous excitement thus produced brought out an illness lurking already
in their system, and rendered it fatal. A very remarkable case was that
of a distinguished diplomat, related by A. Moritz in his "Psychology."
He was lying in bed, sleepless, when he noticed his pet dog becoming
restless, and apparently disturbed to the utmost by a rustling and
whisking about in the room, which he heard but could not explain.
Suddenly a kind of white vapor rose by his bed-side, and gradually
assumed the outline and even the features of his mother; he especially
noticed a purple ribbon in her cap. He jumped out of bed and endeavored
to embrace her, but she fled before him and as suddenly vanished,
leaving a bright glare at the place where she had disappeared. It was
found, afterwards, that at that hour--10 o'clock A. M.--the old lady had
been ill unto death, lying still and almost breathless on her couch; she
had felt the anguish of death in her heart, and had thought so anxiously
of her son and her sister, that her first question when she recovered
was, whether she had not perhaps been visited by the two persons who had
thus occupied her whole mind. It was also ascertained that, contrary to
a life's habit, she had on that day worn a purple ribbon in her
night-cap. A German professor once succeeded in establishing the
connection which undoubtedly exists between the will of certain persons
and their appearance to others. He had only been married a year in 1823,
when he was compelled to leave his wife and to undertake a long and
perilous journey. Once, sitting in a peculiarly sad and dejected mood
alone in a room of his hotel, he longed so ardently for the society of
his wife, that he felt in his heart as if, by a great effort of will, he
should be able to see her. He made the effort, and, behold! he saw her
sitting at her work-table, busily engaged in sewing, and himself, as was
his habit, on a low foot-stool by her side. She tried to conceal her
work from his eyes. A few days later a messenger reached him, sent by
his wife, who was in great consternation and anxiety. On that day she
also had suddenly seen her husband seated by her side, attentively
watching her at work, and continuing there till her father entered the
room, upon which the professor had instantly disappeared. When he
returned to his house he made minute inquiries as to the work he had
seen in the hands of his wife, and this was of such peculiar character
as to exclude all ideas of a mere dream on his part. Here also the
supreme will of the professor must have endowed him for the moment with
exceptional powers, enabling him to make himself visible to his wife,
while the latter, with the ardent love which bound her to her husband,
was at the same moment sympathetically excited, and thus enabled to
second his will, and to behold him as she was accustomed to see him most

Owen in his "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World," reports fully
a remarkable case here repeated only in outline. Robert Bruce, thirty
years old, served as mate on board a merchant vessel on the line between
Liverpool and St. John in New Brunswick. When the ship was near the
banks he was one day about noon busy calculating the longitude, and
thinking that the captain was in his cabin--the next to his own--he
called out to him: How have you found it? Looking back over his
shoulder, he saw the captain writing busily at his desk, and as he heard
no answer, he went in and repeated his question. To his horror the man
at the desk raised his head and revealed to him the face of an entire
stranger, who regarded him fixedly. In a state of great excitement he
rushed to the upper deck, where he found the captain and told him what
had occurred. Thereupon both went down; there was no one in the cabin,
but on the captain's slate an unknown hand had written these words:
Steer NW.! No effort was spared to solve the mystery; the whole vessel
was searched from end to end, but no stranger was discovered; even the
handwriting of every member of the crew was examined, but nothing found
resembling in the least degree the mysterious warning. After some
hesitation the captain decided, as nothing was likely to be lost by so
doing, to obey the behest and ordered the helmsman to steer northwest. A
few hours later they encountered the wreck of a vessel fastened to an
iceberg, with a large crew and a number of passengers, in expectation of
certain death. When the unfortunate men were brought back by the ship's
boats, Bruce suddenly started in utter amazement, for in one of the
saved men he recognized, by dress and features, the person he had seen
at the captain's desk in the cabin. The stranger was requested to write
down the words: Steer NW.! and when the words were compared with those
still standing on the slate, they were identical! Upon inquiry it turned
out that the shipwrecked man had at noon fallen into a deep sleep,
during which he had seen a ship approaching to their rescue. When he had
been waked half an hour later he had confidently assured his
fellow-sufferers that they would be rescued, describing even the vessel
that was to come to their assistance. Words cannot convey the amazement
of the unfortunate men when they saw, a few hours afterwards, a ship
bear down upon them, which bore all the marks predicted by their
companion, and the latter assured Robert Bruce that everything on board
the vessel appeared to him perfectly familiar.

Cases in which men have been seen at the same time at two different
places are not less frequent, though here the explanation is much less
easy. A French girl, Emilie Sagée, had even to pay a severe penalty for
such a peculiarity: she was continually met with at various places at
once, and as she could not give a satisfactory excuse for being at one
place when her duties required her to be at another, she was suspected
of sad misconduct. She lived as governess in a boarding-school in
Livonia, and the girls of the institute saw her at the same time sitting
among them and walking below in the garden by the side of a friend, and
not unfrequently two Miss Sagées would be seen standing before the
blackboard, looking exactly alike and performing the same motions,
although one of them only wrote with chalk on the board. Once, while she
was helping a friend to lace her dress behind, the latter looked into
the mirror and to her horror saw two persons standing there, whereupon
she fell down fainting. The poor French girl lost her place not less
than nineteen times on account of her double existence (Owen,
"Footfalls," etc., p. 348).

Occasionally this "double" appears to others at the same time that it is
seen by the owner himself. Thus the Empress Elizabeth, of Russia, was
seen by a Count O. and the Imperial Guards, seated in full regalia on
her throne, in the throne-room, while she was lying fast asleep in her
bed. The vision was so distinct, and the terror of the beholders so
great, that the Empress was actually waked, and informed of what had
happened, by her lady-in-waiting, who had herself seen the whole scene.
The dauntless Empress did not hesitate for a moment; she dressed hastily
and went to the throne-room; when the doors were thrown open, she saw
herself, as the others had seen her; but so far from being terrified
like her servants, she ordered the guard to fire at the apparition. When
the smoke had passed away, the hall was empty--but the brave Empress
died a few months latter (_Bl. aus Prevost_, V. p. 92). Jung Stilling
mentions another striking illustration. A young lieutenant, full of
health and in high spirits, returns home from a merry meeting with old
friends. As he approaches the house in which he lives, he sees lights in
his room and, to his great terror, himself in the act of being undressed
by his servant; as he stands and gazes in speechless wonder, he sees
himself walk to his bed and lie down. He remains for some time
dumbfounded and standing motionless in the street, till at last a dull,
heavy crash arouses him from his revery. He makes an effort, goes to the
door and rings the bell; his servant, who opens the door, starts back
frightened, and wonders how he could have dressed so quickly and gone
out, as he had but just helped him to undress. When they enter the
bedroom, however, they are both still more amazed, for there they find a
large part of the ceiling on the bed of the officer, which is broken to
pieces by the heavy mortar that had fallen down. The young lieutenant
saw in the warning a direct favor of Providence and lived henceforth so
as to show his gratitude for this almost miraculous escape ("Jenseits,"
p. 105).

Not unfrequently the seeing of a "double" is the result of physical or
mental disease. Persons suffering of catalepsy are especially prone to
see their own forms mixing with strange persons, who people the room in
which they are confined. Insanity, also, very often begins with the
idea, that the patient's own image is constantly by his side,
accompanying him like his shadow wherever he goes, and finally
irritating him beyond endurance. In these cases there is, of course,
nothing at work but a diseased imagination, and with the return of
health the visions also disappear.

Perhaps the most important branch of this subject is the theory,
cherished by all nations and in all ages, that the dying possess at the
last moment and by a supreme effort, the mysterious power of making
themselves perceptible to friends at a distance. We leave out, here
also, the numerous instances told of saints, because they are generally
claimed by the Catholic Church as miracles. One of the oldest
well-authenticated cases of the kind, occurred at the court of Cosmo
de' Medici, in 1499. In the brilliant circle of eminent men which the
great merchant prince had gathered around him, two philosophers, Michael
Mercatus, papal prothonotary, and Marsilius Ficinus were prominent by
their vast erudition, their common devotion to Platonic philosophy, and
the ardent friendship which bound them to each other. They had solemnly
agreed that he who should die first, should convey to the other some
information about the future state. Ficinus died first, and his friend,
writing early in the morning near a window, suddenly heard a horseman
dashing up to his house, checking his horse and crying out: "Michael!
Michael! nothing is more true than what is said of the life to come!"
Mercatus immediately opened the window and saw his bosom friend riding
at full speed down the road, on his white horse, until he was out of
sight. He returned, full of thought, to his studies; but wrote at once
to inquire about his friend. In due time the answer came, that Ficinus
had died in Florence at the very moment in which Mercatus had seen him
in Rome. Our authority for this remarkable account is the Cardinal
Baronius, who knew Mercatus and heard it from his own lips; but the
dates which he mentions do not correspond with the annals of history. He
places the event in the year 1491, but Michele de' Mercati was papal
prothonotary under Sixtus V. (1585-90) and could, therefore, not have
been the friend of Ficinus, the famous physician and theologian, who
was one of Savonarola's most distinguished adherents.

Nor can we attach much weight to the old ballads of Roland, which recite
in touching simplicity the anguish of Charlemagne, when he heard from
afar the sound of his champion's horn imploring him to come to his
assistance, although the two armies were at so great a distance from
each other that when the Emperor at last reached the ill-fated valley of
Ronceval, his heroic friend had been dead for some days. Calderon
depicts in like manner, but with the peculiar coloring of the Spanish
devotee, how the dying Eusebio calls his absent friend Alberto to his
bedside, to hear his last confession, and how the latter, obeying the
mysterious summons, hastens there to fulfil his solemn promise.

A well-known occurrence of this kind is reported by Cotton Mather as
having taken place in New England. On May 2d, 1687, at 5 o'clock A. M.,
a young man, called Beacon, then living in Boston, suddenly saw his
brother, whom he had left in London, standing before him in his usual
costume, but with a bleeding wound in his forehead. He told him that he
had been foully murdered by a reprobate, who would soon reach New
England; at the same time he described minutely the appearance of his
murderer, and implored his brother to avenge his death, promising him
his assistance. Towards the end of June official information reached the
colony that the young man had died on May 2d, at 5 o'clock A. M., from
the effects of his wounds. But here, also, several inconsistencies
diminish the value of the account. In the first place, the narrator has
evidently forgotten the difference in time between London and Boston in
America, or he has purposely falsified the report, in order to make it
more impressive. Then the murderer never left his country; although he
was tried for his crime, escaped the penalty of death by the aid of
influential friends. It is, however, possible that he may have had the
intention of seeking safety abroad at the time he committed the murder.

The apparition of the great Cardinal of Lorraine at the moment of death,
is better authenticated. D'Aubigné tells us (_Hist. Univer._ 1574, p.
719) that the queen Catherine of Medici, was retiring one day, at an
earlier hour than usual, in the presence of the King of Navarre, the
Archbishop of Lyons, and a number of eminent persons, when she suddenly
hid her eyes under her hands and cried piteously for help. She made
great efforts to point out to the bystanders the form of the Cardinal,
whom she saw standing at the foot of her bed and offering her his hand.
She exclaimed repeatedly: "Monsieur le Cardinal, I have nothing to do
with you!" and was in a state of most fearful excitement. At last one of
the courtiers had the wit to go to the Cardinal's house, and soon
returned with the appalling news that the great man had died in that
very hour. To this class of cases belongs also the well-known vision of
Lord Lyttleton, who had been warned that he would die on a certain day,
at midnight, and who did die at the appointed hour, although his
friends had purposely advanced every clock and watch in the house by
half an hour, and he himself had gone to bed with his mind relieved of
all anxiety. Jarvis, in his "Accreditated Ghost Stories," p. 13, relates
the following remarkable case: "When General Stuart was Governor of San
Domingo, in the early part of our war of independence, he was one day
anxiously awaiting a certain Major von Blomberg, who had been expected
for some time. At last he determined to dictate to his secretary a
dispatch to the Home Government on this subject, when steps were heard
outside, and the major himself entered, desiring to confer with the
Governor in private. He said: 'When you return to England, pray go into
Dorsetshire to such and such a farm, where you will find my son, the
fruit of a secret union with Lady Laing. Take care of the poor orphan.
The woman who has reared him has the papers that establish his
legitimacy; they are in a red morocco pocket-book. Open it and make the
best use you can of the papers you will find. You will never see me
again.' Thereupon the major walked away, but nobody else had seen him
come or go, and nobody had opened the house for him. A few days later,
news reached the island that the vessel on which Blomberg had taken
passage, had foundered, and all hands had perished, at the very hour
when the former had appeared to his friend the Governor. It became also
known that the two friends had pledged each other, not only that the
survivor should take care of the children of him who died first, but
also that he should make an effort to appear to him if permitted to do
so. The Governor found everything as it had been told him; he took
charge of his friend's son, who became a _protégé_ of Queen Charlotte,
when she heard the remarkable story, and was educated as a companion of
the future George IV."

Lord Byron tells the following story of Captain Kidd. He was lying one
night in his cabin asleep, when he suddenly felt oppressed by a heavy
weight apparently resting on him; he opened his eyes, and by the feeble
light of a small lamp he fancied he saw his brother, dressed in full
uniform, and leaning across the bed. Under the impression that the whole
is a mere idle delusion of his senses, he turns over and falls asleep
once more. But the sense of oppression returns, and upon opening his
eyes he sees the same image as before. Now he tries to seize it, and to
his amazement touches something wet. This terrifies him, and he calls a
brother officer, but when the latter enters, nothing is to be seen.
After the lapse of several months Captain Kidd received information that
in that same night his brother had been drowned in the Indian Sea. He
himself told the story to Lord Byron, and the latter endorsed its
accuracy (_Monthly Rev._, 1830, p. 229).

One of the most remarkable interviews of this kind, which continued for
some time, and led to a prolonged and interesting conversation during
which the three senses of sight, hearing, and touch, were alike
engaged, is that which a Mrs. Bargrave had on the 8th of September,
1805. According to an account given by Jarvis ("Accred. Ghost Stories,"
Lond., 1823), she was sitting in her house in Canterbury, in a state of
great despondency, when a friend of hers, Miss Veal, who lived at Dover,
and whom she had not seen for two years and a half, entered the room.
The two ladies had formerly been very intimate, and found equal comfort,
during a period of great sorrow, in reading together works treating of
future life and similar subjects. Her friend wore a traveling suit, and
the clocks were striking noon as she entered; Mrs. Bargrave wished to
embrace her, but Miss Veal held a hand before her eyes, stating that she
was unwell and drew back. She then added that she was on the point of
making a long journey, and feeling an irresistible desire to see her
friend once more, she had come to Canterbury. She sat down in an
armchair and began a lengthened conversation, during which she begged
her friend's pardon for having so long neglected her, and gradually
turned to the subject which had been uppermost in Mrs. Bargrave's mind,
the views entertained by various authors of the life after death. She
attempted to console the latter, assuring her that "a moment of future
bliss was ample compensation for all earthly sufferings," and that "if
the eyes of our mind were as open as those of the body, we should see a
number of higher beings ready for our protection." She declined,
however, reading certain verses aloud at her friend's request, "because
holding her head low gave her the headache." She frequently passed her
hand over her face, but at last begged Mrs. Bargrave to write a letter
to her brother, which surprised her friend very much, for in the letter
she wished her brother to distribute certain rings and sums of money
belonging to her among friends and kinsmen. At this time she appeared to
be growing ill again, and Mrs. Bargrave moved close up to her in order
to support her, in doing so she touched her dress and praised the
materials, whereupon Miss Veal told her that it was recently made, but
of a silk which had been cleaned. Then she inquired after Mrs.
Bargrave's daughter, and the latter went to a neighboring house to fetch
her; on her way back she saw Miss Veal at a distance in the street,
which was full of people, as it happened to be market-day, but before
she could overtake her, her friend had turned round a corner and

Upon inquiry it appeared that Miss Veal, whom she had thus seen, whose
dress she had touched, and with whom she had conversed for nearly two
hours, had died the day before! When the question was discussed with the
relatives of the deceased, it was found that she had communicated
several secrets to her Canterbury friend. The fact that her dress was
made of an old silk-stuff was known to but one person, who had done the
cleaning and made the dress, which she recognized instantly from the
description. She had also acknowledged to Mrs. Bargrave her
indebtedness to a Mr. Breton for an annual pension of ten pounds, a fact
which had been utterly unknown during her lifetime.

In Germany a number of such cases are reported, and often by men whose
names alone would give authority to their statements. Thus the
philosopher Schopenhauer (_Parerga_, etc., I. p. 277) mentions a sick
servant girl in Frankfort on the Main, who died one night at the Jewish
hospital of the former Free City. Early the next morning her sister and
her niece, who lived several miles from town, appeared at the gate of
the institution to make inquiries about their kinswoman. Both, though
living far apart, had seen her distinctly during the preceding night,
and hence their anxiety. The famous writer E. M. Arndt, also, quotes a
number of striking revelations which were in this manner made to a lady
of his acquaintance. Thus he was once, in 1811, visiting the Island of
Rügen, in the Baltic, and having been actively engaged all day, was
sitting in an easy-chair, quietly nodding. Suddenly he sees his dear old
aunt Sophie standing before him; on her face her well-known sweet smile,
and in her arms her two little boys, whom he loved like his own. She was
holding them out to him as if she wished to say by this gesture: "Take
care of the little ones!" The next day his brother joined him and
brought him the news that their aunt had died on the preceding evening
at the hour when she had appeared to Arndt. Wieland, even, by no means
given to credit easily accounts of supernatural occurrences, mentions
in his "Euthanasia" a Protestant lady of his acquaintance, whose mind
was frequently filled with extraordinary visions. She was a
somnambulist, and subject to cataleptic attacks. A Benedictine monk, an
old friend of the family, had been ordered to Bellinzona, in
Switzerland, but his correspondence with his friends had never been
interrupted for years. Years after his removal the above-mentioned lady
was taken ill, and at once predicted the day and hour of her death. On
the appointed day she was cheerful and perfectly composed; at a certain
hour, however, she raised herself slightly on her couch, and said with a
sweet smile, "Now it is time for me to go and say good-bye to Father C."
She immediately fell asleep, then awoke again, spoke a few words, and
died. At the same hour the monk was sitting in Bellinzona at his
writing-table, a so-called pandora, a musical instrument, by his side.
Suddenly he hears a noise like an explosion, and looking up startled,
sees a white figure, in whom he at once recognizes his distant friend by
her sweet smile. When he examined his instrument he found the
sounding-board cracked, which, no doubt, had given rise to his hearing
what he considered a "warning voice." The Rev. Mr. Oberlin, well-known
and much revered in Germany, and by no means forgotten in our own
country, where a prosperous college still bears his name, declares in
his memoirs that he had for nine years constant intercourse with his
deceased wife. He saw her for the first time after her death in broad
daylight and when he was wide awake; afterwards the conversations were
carried on partly in the day and partly at night. Other people in the
village in which he lived saw her as well as himself. Nor was it by the
eye only that the pious, excellent man judged of her presence;
frequently, when he extended his hand, he would feel his fingers gently
pressed, as his wife had been in the habit of doing when she passed by
him and would not stop. But there was much bitterness and sorrow also
mixed up with the sweetness of these mysterious relations. The
passionate attachment of husband and wife could ill brook the terrible
barrier that separated them from each other, and often the latter would
look so wretched and express her grief in such heartrending words that
the poor minister was deeply afflicted. The impression produced on his
mind was that her soul, forced for unknown reasons to remain for some
time in an intermediate state, remained warmly attached to earthly
friends and lamented the inability to confer with them after the manner
of men. After nine years the husband's visions suddenly ended and he was
informed in a dream that his wife had been admitted into a higher
heaven, where she enjoyed the promised peace with her Saviour, but could
no longer commune with mortal beings.

It is well known that even the great reformer, Martin Luther, knew of
several similar cases, and in his "Table Talk" mentions more than one
remarkable instance.

Another well-known and much discussed occurrence of this kind happened
in the days of Mazarin, and created a great sensation in the highest
circles at Paris. A marquis of Rambouillet and a marquis of Preci,
intimate friends, had agreed to inform each other of their fate after
death. The former was ordered to the army in Flanders, while the other
remained in the capital. Here he was taken ill with a fever, several
weeks after parting with his friend, and as he was one morning towards 6
o'clock lying in bed awake, the curtains were suddenly drawn aside, and
his friend dressed as usual, booted and spurred, was standing before
him. Overjoyed, he was about to embrace him, but his friend drew back
and said that he had come only to keep his promise after having been
killed in a skirmish the day before, and that Preci also would share his
fate in the first combat in which he should be engaged. The latter
thinks his friend is joking, jumps up and tries to seize him--but he
feels nothing. The vision, however, is still there; Rambouillet even
shows him the fatal wound in his thigh from which the blood seems still
to be flowing. Then only he disappears and Preci remains utterly
overcome; at last he summons his valet, rouses the whole house, and
causes every room and every passage to be searched. No trace, however,
is found, and the whole vision is attributed to his fever. But a few
days later the mail arrives from Flanders, bringing the news that
Rambouillet had really fallen in such a skirmish and died from a wound
in the thigh; the prediction also was fulfilled, for Preci fell
afterwards in his first fight near St. Antoine (Petaval, _Causes
Célèbres_, xii. 269).

The parents of the well-known writer Schubert were exceptionally endowed
with magic powers of this kind. The father once heard, as he thought in
a dream, the voice of his aged mother, who called upon him to come and
visit her in the distant town in which she lived, if he desired to see
her once more before she died. He rejected the idea that this was more
than a common dream; but soon he heard the voice repeating the warning.
Now he jumped up and saw his mother standing before him, extending her
hand and saying: "Christian Gottlob, farewell, and may God bless you;
you will not see me again upon earth," and with these words she
disappeared. Although no one had apprehended such a calamity, she had
actually died at that hour, after expressing in her last moments a most
anxious desire to see her son once more.

Tangible perceptions of persons dying at a distance are, of course, very
rare. Still, more than one such case is authoritatively stated; among
these, the following: A lawyer in Paris had returned home and walked, in
order to reach his own bedroom, through that of his brother. To his
great astonishment he saw the latter lying in his bed; received,
however, no answer to his questions. Thereupon he walked up to the bed,
touched his brother and found the body icy cold. Of a sudden the form
vanished and the bed was empty. At that instant it flashed through his
mind that he and his brother had promised each other that the one dying
first should, if possible, give a sign to the survivor. When he
recovered from the deep emotion caused by these thoughts, he left the
room and as he opened the door he came across a number of men who bore
the body of his brother, who had been killed by a fall from his horse
(_La Patrie_, Sept. 22, 1857). The Count of Neuilly, also, was warned in
a somewhat similar manner. He was at college and on the point of paying
a visit to his paternal home, when a letter came telling him that his
father was not quite well and that he had better postpone his visit a
few days. Later letters from his mother mentioned nothing to cause him
any uneasiness. But several days afterward, at one o'clock in the
morning, he thought, apparently in a dream, that he saw a pale ghastly
figure rise slowly at the lower end of his bed, extend both arms,
embrace him and then sink slowly down again out of sight. He uttered
heart-rending cries, and fell out of his bed, upsetting a chair and a
table. When his tutor and a man-servant rushed into the room, they found
him lying unconscious on the floor, covered with cold, clammy
perspiration and strangely disfigured. As soon as he was restored to
consciousness, he burst out into tears and assured them that his father
had died and come to take leave of him. In vain did his friends try to
calm his mind, he remained in a state of utter dejection. Three days
later a letter came from his mother, bringing him the sad news, that
his father had died on that night and at the hour in which he had
appeared by his bedside. The unfortunate Count could never entirely get
rid of the overwhelming impression which this occurrence had made on his
mind, and was, to the day of his death, firmly convinced of the reality
of this meeting (_Dix Années d' émigration._ Paris, 1865).

We learn from such accounts that there prevails among all men, at all
ages, a carefully repressed, but almost irresistible belief in
supernatural occurrences, and in the close proximity of the spirit
world. This belief is neither to be treated with ridicule nor to be
objected to as unchristian, since it is an abiding witness that men
entertain an ineradicable conviction of the immortality of the soul. No
arguments can ever destroy in the minds of the vast majority of men this
innate and intuitive faith. We may decline to believe with them the
existence of supernatural agencies, as long as no experimental basis is
offered; but we ought, at the same time, to be willing to modify our
incredulity as soon as an accumulation of facts appear to justify us in
so doing. Our age is so completely given up to materialism with its
ceaseless hurry and worry, that we ought to hail with a sense of relief
new powers which require examination, and which offer to our
intellectual faculties an untrodden field of investigation, full of
incidents refreshing to our weary mind, and promising rich additions to
our store of knowledge.

It can hardly be denied that there is at least a possibility of the
existence of a higher spiritual power within us, which, often slumbering
and altogether unknown, or certainly unobserved during life, becomes
suddenly free to act in the hour of death. This may be brought about by
the fact that at that time the strength of the body is exhausted, and
earthly wants no longer press upon us, while the spiritual part of our
being, largely relieved of its bondage, becomes active in its own
peculiar way, and thus acquires a power which we are disposed to call a
magic power. This power is, of course, not used consciously, for
consciousness presupposes the control over our senses, but it acts by
intuitive impulse. Hence the wide difference existing between the
so-called magic of charmers, enchanters, and conjurors, justly abhorred
and strictly prohibited by divine laws, and the effects of such supreme
efforts made by the soul, which depend upon involuntary action, and are
never made subservient to wicked purposes.

The results of such exertions are generally impressions made apparently
upon the eye or the ear; but it need not be said that what is seen or
heard in such cases, is merely the effect of a deeply felt sensation in
our soul which seeks an outward expression. If our innermost being is
thus suddenly appealed to, as it were, by the spirit of a dying friend
or companion, his image arises instantaneously before our mind's eye,
and we fancy we see him in bodily form, or our memory recalls the
familiar sounds by which his appearance was wont to be accompanied.
Dying musicians remind distant friends of their former relations by
sweet sounds, and a sailor, wounded to death, appears in his uniform to
relatives at home. The series of sights and sounds by which such
intercourse is established, varies from the simplest and faintest vision
to an apparently clear and distinct perception of well-known forms, and
constitute feeble, hardly perceptible, sighs or sobs to words uttered
aloud, or whole melodies clearly recited. If a living person, by such an
unconscious but all-powerful effort of will, makes himself seen by
others, we call the vision a "double," in German, a "Doppelgänger;" if
he produces a state of dualism, such as has been mentioned before, and
sees his own self in space before him, we speak of second sight.

Such efforts are, however, by no means strictly limited to the moment of
dissolution, when soul and body are already in the act of parting. They
occur also in living persons, but almost invariably only in diseased
persons. The exceptions belong to the small number of men in whom great
excitement from without, or a mysterious power of will, cause a state of
ecstasy; they are, in common parlance, "beside themselves." In this
condition, their soul is for the moment freed from the bondage in which
it is held by its earthy companion, and such men become clairvoyants and
prophets, or they are enabled actually to affect other men at a
distance, in various ways. Thus it may very well be, that strange
visions, the hearing of mysterious voices, and especially the most
familiar phenomenon, second sight, are in reality nothing more than
symptoms of a thoroughly diseased system, and this explains very simply
the frequency with which death follows such mysterious occurrences.

Men have claimed--and proved to the satisfaction of more or less
considerable numbers of friends--that they could at will cause a partial
and momentary parting between their souls and their bodies. Here also
antiquity is our first teacher, if we believe Pliny (_Hist. Nat._ vii.
c. 52), Hermotimus could at his pleasure fall into a trance and then let
his soul proceed from his body to distant places. Upon being aroused, he
reported what he had seen and heard abroad, and his statements were, in
every case, fully confirmed. Cardanus, also, could voluntarily throw
himself into a state of apparent syncope, as he tells us in most graphic
words (_De Res. Var._ v. iii. l. viii. c. 43). The first sensation of
which he was always fully conscious, was a peculiar pain in the head,
which gradually extended downward along the spine, and at last spread
over the extremities--evidently a purely nervous process. Then he felt
as if a "door was opened, and he himself was leaving his body,"
whereupon he not only saw persons at a distance, but noticed all that
befell them, and recalled it after he had recovered from the trance. An
old German Abbé Freitheim, of whose remarkable work on _Steganographie_
(1621), unfortunately only a few sheets have been preserved, claims the
power to commune with absent friends by the mere energy of his will. "I
can," says he, "make known my thoughts to the initiated, at a distance
of many hundred miles, without word, writing or cypher, by any
messenger. The latter cannot betray me, for he knows nothing. If needs
be, I can even dispense with the messenger. If my correspondent should
be buried in the deepest dungeon I could still convey to him my thoughts
as clearly, as fully, and as frequently as might be desirable, and all
this, quite simply, without superstition, without the aid of spirits."

The famous Agrippa (_De occulta philos., Lugduni_, III. p. 13) quotes
the former writer, and asserts that he also could, by mere effort of
will, in a perfectly simple and natural manner convey his thoughts not
to the initiated only, but to any one, even when his correspondent's
present place of residence should be unknown. The most remarkable, and,
at the same time, the best authenticated case of this kind, is that of a
high German official mentioned in a scientific paper (_Nasse.
Zeitschrift für psychische Aerzte_, 1820), and frequently copied into
others. A Counsellor Wesermann claimed to be able to cause distant
friends to dream of any subject he might choose. Whenever he awoke at
night and made a determined effort to produce such an effect, he never
failed, provided the nature of the desired dream was calculated to
startle or deeply excite his friends. His power was tested in this
manner. He engaged to cause a young officer, who was stationed at
Aix-la-Chapelle, nearly fifty miles from his own home, to dream of a
young lady who had died not long ago. It was eleven o'clock at night,
but by some accident the lieutenant was not at home in bed, but at a
friend's country-seat, discussing the French campaign. Suddenly the
colonel, his host, and he himself see at the same time the door open, a
lady enter, salute them sadly, and beckon them to follow her. The two
officers rise and leave the room after her, but once out of doors, the
figure disappears, and when they inquire of the sentinels standing guard
outside, they are told that no one has entered. What made the matter
more striking yet, was the fact that although both men had seen the door
open, this could not really have been so, for the wood had sprung and
the door creaked badly whenever it was opened. The same Wesermann could,
in like manner, cause his friends to see his own person and to hear
secrets which he seemed to whisper into their ears whenever he chose;
but he admitted upon it that his will was not at all times equally
strong, and that, hence, his efforts were not always equally successful.
Cases of similar powers are very numerous. A very curious example was
published in 1852, in a work on "Psychologic Studies" (Schlemmer, p.
59). The author, who was a police agent in the Prussian service,
asserted that persons who apprehended being conducted to gaol with
special anxiety, often made themselves known there in advance,
announcing their arrival by knocks at the gates, opening of doors, or
footsteps heard in the room set aside for examining new comers. One day,
not the writer only, but all the prisoners in the same building, and
even the sentinel at the gate heard distinctly a great disturbance and
the rattling of chains in a cell exclusively appropriated to murderers.
The next day a criminal was brought who had expressed such horror of
this gaol, and made such resistance to the officials who were to carry
him there, that it had become necessary, after a great uproar, to chain
him hands and feet. It is well known that the mother of the great
statesman Canning at one time of her life suffered under most mysterious
though harmless nightly visitations. Her circumstances were such that
she readily accepted the offer of a dwelling which stood unoccupied,
with the exception of the basement, in which a carpenter had his
workshop. At nightfall he and his workmen left the house, carefully
locking the door, but night after night, at twelve o'clock precisely,
work began once more in the abandoned part of the house, as far as the
ear could judge, and the noise made by planing and sawing, cutting and
carving increased, till the fearless old lady slipt down in her stocking
feet and opened the door. Instantly the noise was hushed, and she looked
into the dark deserted room. But as soon as she returned to her chamber
the work began anew, and continued for some time; nor was she the only
one who heard it, but others, the owner of the house included, heard
everything distinctly.

The following well-authenticated account of a posthumous appearance, is
not without its ludicrous element. A court-preacher in one of the
little Saxon Duchies, appeared once in bands and gowns before his
sovereign, bowing most humbly and reverently. The duke asked what he
desired, but received no answer except another deep reverence. A second
question meets with the same reply, whereupon the divine leaves the
room, descends the stairs and crosses the court-yard, while the prince,
much surprised at his strange conduct, stands at a window and watches
him till he reaches the gates. Then he sends a page after him to try and
ascertain what was the matter with the old gentleman, but the page comes
running back almost beside himself, and reports that the minister had
died a short while before. The prince refuses to believe his report, and
sends a high official, but the latter returns with the same report and
this additional information: The dying man had asked for writing
materials, in order to recommend his widow to his sovereign, but had
hardly commenced writing the letter when death surprised him. The
fragment was brought to the duke and convinced him that his faithful
servant, unable to reach him by letter, and yet nervously anxious to
approach him, had spiritually appeared to him in his most familiar
costume (Daumer, _Mystagog._ I. p. 224).

Before we regret such statements or treat them with ridicule, it will be
well to remember, that men endowed with an extraordinary power of
controlling certain faculties of body and soul, are by no means rare,
and that the difference between them and those last mentioned, consists
only in the degree. We speak of the power of sight and limit it
ordinarily to a certain distance--and yet a Hottentot, we are told, can
perceive the head of a gazelle in the dry, uniform grass of an African
plain, at the distance of a thousand yards! Many men cannot hear sounds
in nature which are perfectly audible to others, while some persons hear
even certain notes uttered by tiny insects, which escape altogether the
average hearing of man. Patients under treatment by Baron Reichenbach,
saw luminous objects and the appearance of lights hovering above ground,
where neither he nor any of his friends could perceive anything but
utter darkness, and the special gift with which some persons are endowed
to feel, as it were, the presence of water and of metals below the
surface, is well authenticated. Poor Caspar Hauser, bred in darkness and
solitude, felt various and deep impressions upon his whole being during
the first months of his free life, whenever he came in contact with
plants, stones or metals. The latter sent a current through all his
limbs; tobacco fields made him deadly sick, and the vicinity of a
graveyard gave him violent pains in his chest. Persons who were
introduced to him for the first time, sent a cold current through him;
and when they possessed a specially powerful physique, they caused him
abundant perspiration, and often even convulsions. The waves of sound he
felt so much more acutely than others, that he always continued to hear
them with delight, long after the last sound had passed away from the
ears of others. It may be fairly presumed that this extreme
sensitiveness to outward impressions is originally possessed by all men,
but becomes gradually dulled and dimmed by constant repetition; at the
same time it may certainly be preserved in rare privileged cases, or it
may come back again to the body in a diseased or disordered condition,
and at the moment of dissolution.

Nor is the power occasionally granted to men to control their senses
limited to these; even the spontaneous functions of the body are at
times subject to the will of man. An Englishman, for instance, could at
will modify the beating of his heart (Cheyne, "New Dis.," p. 307), and a
German produced, like a veritable ruminant, the antiperistaltic motions
of the stomach, whenever he chose (Blumenbach, _Phys._ § 294). Other men
have been known who could at any moment cause the familiar "goose-skin,"
or perspiration, to appear in any part of the body, and many persons can
move not only the ears--a lost faculty according to Darwin--but even
enlarge or contract the pupil of the eye, after the manner of cats and
parrots. Even the circulation of the blood has been known, in a few rare
cases, to have been subject to the will of men, and the great
philosopher Kant did not hesitate to affirm, supported as he was by his
own experience, that men could, if they were but resolute enough,
master, by a mere effort of the will, not a few of their diseases.

A striking evidence of the comparative facility with which men thus
exceptionally gifted, may be able to imitate certain magic phenomena,
was once given by an excellent mimic, whom _Richard_ describes in his
_Théorie des Songes_. He could change his features so completely that
they assumed a deathlike appearance; his senses lost gradually their
power of perception, and the vital spirit was seen to withdraw from the
outer world. A slow, quivering motion passed through his whole system
from the feet upward, as if he wished to rise from the ground. After a
while all efforts of the body to remain upright proved fruitless; it
looked as if life had actually begun to leave it already. At this moment
he abandoned his deception and was so utterly exhausted that he heard
and saw but with extreme difficulty.

In the face of these facts the possibility at least cannot be denied
that certain specially endowed individuals may possess, in health or in
disease, the power to perceive phenomena which appear all the more
marvelous because they are beyond the reach of ordinary powers of

In our own day superstition and wanton, or cunningly devised, imposture
have been so largely mixed up with the subject, that a strong and very
natural prejudice has gradually grown up against the belief in ghosts.
Every strange appearance, every mysterious coincidence, that escaped the
most superficial investigation, was forthwith called a ghost. History
records, besides, numerous cases in which the credulity of great men has
been played upon for purposes of policy and statecraft. When the German
Emperor Joseph showed his great fondness of Augustus of
Saxony--afterwards king of Poland--his Austrian counsellors became
alarmed at the possible influence of such intimacy of their sovereign
with a Protestant prince, and determined to break it off. Night after
night, therefore, a fearful vision arose before the German emperor,
rattling its chains and accusing the young prince of grievous heresy.
Augustus, however, known already at that time for his gigantic strength,
asked Joseph's permission to sleep in his room; when the ghost appeared
as usual, the young prince sprang upon him, and feeling his flesh and
blood, threw him bodily out of a window of the second story into a deep
fosse. The unfortunate king of Prussia, Frederick William II., fell soon
after his ascension of the throne into the hands of designing men, who
determined to profit by his great kindness of heart and his tendency to
mysticism, and began to work upon him by supernatural apparitions. One
of the most cunningly devised impostures of the kind was practised upon
King Gustavus III. of Sweden by ambitious noblemen of his court.

The scene was the ancient Lofoe church in Drotingholm, a favorite
residence of former Swedish monarchs. The king's physician, Iven Hedin,
learnt accidentally from the sexton that his master had been spending
several nights in the building, in company with a few of his courtiers.
Alarmed by this information he persuaded the sexton to let him watch the
proceedings from a secret place in the old steeple of the church. An
opportunity came in the month of August, 1782, and he had scarcely taken
possession of his post when two of the royal secretaries came in, closed
the door, and arranged a curious contrivance in the body of the
building. To his great surprise and amusement the doctor saw them fasten
some horse-hairs to the heavy chandeliers suspended from the lofty
ceiling, and then pin to them masks sewed on to white floating garments.
Finally large quantities of incense were scattered on the floor and set
on fire, while all lights, save a few thin candles, were extinguished.
Then the king was ushered in with five of his courtiers, made to assume
a peculiar, very irksome position, and all were asked to hold naked
swords upon each other's breasts. Thereupon the first comer murmured
certain formulas of conjuration, and performed some ceremonies, when his
companion slowly drew up one of the masks. It was fashioned to resemble
the great Gustavus Adolphus, and in the dimly-lighted church, filled
with dense smoke, it looked to all intents and purposes like a ghost
arising from the vaults underneath. It disappeared as slowly into the
darkness above, and was immediately followed by another mask
representing Adolphus Frederick, and even the physician, who knew the
secret, could not repress a shudder, so admirably was the whole
contrived. Then followed a few flashes of lightning, during which the
horse-hairs were removed, lights were brought in, and the king, deeply
moved and shedding silent tears, escorted from the building. The
faithful physician watched his opportunity, and when a favorable hour
appeared, revealed the secret to his master, and thus, fortunately for
Sweden, defeated a very dangerous and most skillfully-conducted

Even ventriloquism has lent its aid to many an historical imposture, as
in the case of Francis I. of France, whose valet, Louis of Brabant,
possessed great skill in that art, and used it unsparingly for his own
benefit and to the advantage of courtiers who employed him for political
purposes. He even persuaded the mother of a beautiful and wealthy young
lady to give him her daughter's hand by imitating the voice of her
former husband, and commanding her to do so in order to release him from

We fear that to this class of ghostly appearances must also be counted
the almost historical White Lady of the Margraves of Brandenburg.

Report says that she represents a Countess Kunigunde of Orlamünde, who
lived in the fourteenth century and killed her two children, for which
crime she was executed by order of a Burggrave of Nuremberg. History,
however, knows nothing of such an event, and the White Lady does not
appear till 1486, when she is first seen in the old palace at Baireuth.
This was nothing but a trick of the courtiers; whenever they desired to
leave the dismal town and the uncomfortable building, one of the court
ladies personated the ghost, and occasionally, even two white ladies
were seen at the same time. In 1540 the ghost met with a tragic fate;
it had appeared several times in the castle of Margrave Albert the
warrior, and irritated the prince to such a degree that he at last
seized it one night and hurled it headlong down the long staircase. The
morning dawn revealed his chancellor, Christopher Strass, who had
betrayed his master and now paid with a broken neck for his bold
imposture. After this catastrophe the White Lady was not seen for nearly
a hundred years, when she suddenly reappeared in Baireuth. In the year
1677 the then reigning Margrave of Brandenburg found her one day sitting
in his own chair and was terrified; the next day he rode out, fell from
his horse, and was instantly killed. From this time the White Lady
became a part of the history of the house of Brandenburg, accompanying
the princes to Berlin and making it her duty to forewarn the illustrious
family of any impending calamity. King Frederick I. saw her distinctly,
but other sovereigns discerned only a vague outline and now and then the
nose and eyes, while all the rest was closely veiled. In the old palace
at Baireuth there exist to this day two portraits of the White Lady, one
in white, as she appeared of old, and very beautiful, the other in black
satin, with her hair powdered and dressed after more modern
fashion--there is no likeness between the two faces. The ghost was
evidently a good patriot, for she disturbed French officers who were
quartered there, in the new palace as well as in the old, and as late as
1806 thoroughly frightened a number of generals who had laughed at the
credulity of the Germans. In 1809 General d'Espagne roused his aides in
the depth of night by fearful cries, and when they rushed in he was
found lying in the centre of the room, under the bedstead. He told them
that the White Lady, in a costume of black and white, resembling one of
the portraits, had appeared and threatened to strangle him; in the
struggle she had dragged the bedstead to the middle of the room and
there upset it. The room was thoroughly searched at his command, the
hangings removed from the walls, and the whole floor taken up, but no
trace was found of any opening through which a person might have
entered; the doors had been guarded by sentinels. The general left the
place immediately, looking upon the vision as a warning of impending
evil, and, sure enough, a few days later he found his death upon the
battle-field of Aspern. Even the great Napoleon, whose superstition was
generally thought to be confined to his faith in his "star," would not
lodge in the rooms haunted by the White Lady, and when he reached
Baireuth in 1812, a suite of rooms was prepared for him in another wing
of the palace. It was, however, noticed that even there his night's rest
must have been interrupted, for on the next morning he was remarkably
nervous and out of humor, murmuring repeatedly "_Ce maudit château_,"
and declaring that he would never again stay at the place. When he
returned to that neighborhood in 1813, he refused to occupy the rooms
that had been prepared for him, and continued his journey far into the
night, rather than remain at Baireuth. The town was, however, forever
relieved of its ill-fame after 1822. It is not without interest that in
the same year the steward of the royal palace died, and report says in
his rooms were found a number of curiosities apparently connected with
the White Lady's costume; if this be so, his ardent patriotism and
fierce hatred of the French might well furnish a cue to some of the more
recent apparitions. The White Lady continued to appear in Berlin, and
the terror she created was not even allayed by repeated discoveries of
most absurd efforts at imposture. Once she turned out to be a white
towel agitated by a strong draught between two windows; at another time
it was a kitchen-maid on an errand of love, and a third time an old cook
taking an airing in the deserted rooms. She appeared once more in the
month of February, 1820, announcing, as many believed, the death of the
reigning monarch, which took place in June; and quite recently (1872)
similar warning was given shortly before the emperor's brother, Prince
Albrecht, died in his palace.

White ladies are, however, by no means an exclusive privilege of the
house of Brandenburg; Scotland has its ancient legends, skillfully used
in novel, poem and opera, and Italy boasts of a Donna Bianca, at
Colalta, in the Marca Trivigiana, of whom Byron spoke as if he had never
doubted her existence. Ireland has in like manner the Banshee, who warns
with her plaintive voice the descendants of certain old families,
whenever a great calamity threatens one of the members. Curiously
enough she clings to these once powerful but now often wretchedly poor
families, as if pride of descent and attachment to old splendor
prevailed even in the realms of magic.

Historical ghosts play, nevertheless, a prominent part in all countries.
Lilly, Baxter and Clarendon, all relate the remarkable warnings which
preceded the murder of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. In this case the
warning was given not to the threatened man, but to an old and faithful
friend, who had already been intimate with the duke's father. He saw the
latter appear to him several nights in succession, urging him to go to
the duke, and after revealing to him certain peculiar circumstances, to
warn him against the plots of his enemies, who threatened his life.
Parker was afraid to appear ridiculous and delayed giving the warning.
But the ghost left him no peace, and at last, in order to decide him,
revealed to him a secret only known to himself and his ill-fated son.
The latter, when his old friend at last summoned courage to deliver the
mysterious message, was at first inclined to laugh at the warning; but
when Parker mentioned the father's secret, he turned pale and declared
only the Evil One could have entrusted it to mortal man. Nevertheless,
he took no steps to rid himself of his traitorous friend and continued
his sad life as before. The father's ghost thereupon appeared once more
to Parker, with deep sadness in his features and holding a knife in his
hand, with which, he said, his unfortunate son would be murdered.
Parker, whose own impending death had been predicted at the same time,
once more waited upon the great duke, but again in vain; he was rudely
sent back and requested not to trouble the favorite's peace any more by
his foolish dreams. A few days afterwards Lieutenant Felton assassinated
the duke with precisely such a knife as Parker had seen in his visions.

A similar occurrence is related of the famous Duchess of Mazarin, the
favorite of Charles II., and Madame de Beauclair, who stood in the same
relation to James II. The two ladies, who were bosom friends, had
pledged their word to each other, that she who died first should appear
to the survivor and inform her of the nature of the future state. The
duchess died; but as no message came from her, her friend denied stoutly
and persistently the immortality of the soul. But many years later, when
the promise was long forgotten, the duchess suddenly was seen one night,
gliding softly through the room and looking sweetly at her friend,
whispering to her: "Beauclair, between twelve and one o'clock to-night
you will be near me." The poor lady died at the appointed hour (Nork.
"Existence of Spirits," p. 260). Less well-authenticated is the account
of a warning given to King George I. shortly before his death, although
it was generally believed throughout England at the time it occurred.
The report was that the Queen, Sophia, repeatedly showed herself to her
husband, beseeching him to break off his intercourse with his beautiful
friend, Lady Horatia. As these requests availed nothing, and the monarch
refused even to believe in the reality of her appearance, she at last
tied a knot in a lace collar, declaring that "if mortal fingers could
untie the knot, the king and Lady Horatia might laugh at her words." The
fair lady tried her best to undo it, but giving it up in despair, she
threw the collar into the fire; the king, highly excited, snatched the
lace from the burning coals, but in so doing, touched with it the light
gauze dress of his companion. In her terror she ran with great swiftness
through room after room, thus fanning the flames into a blaze, and
perished amid excruciating pains. The king, it is well known, died only
two months later.

A case which created a very great sensation at the time when it
happened, and became generally known through the admirable manner in
which it was narrated by the eloquent Bernardin de St. Pierre (_Journal
de Trévoux_, vol. viii.), was that of the priest Bezuel. When a young
man of 15, and at college, he contracted an intimate friendship with the
son of a royal official, called Desfontaines. The two friends often
spoke of future life, and when parted in 1696, they signed with their
blood a solemn compact, in which they agreed that the first who died
should appear after death to the survivor. They wrote to each other
constantly, and frequently alluded in their letters to the agreement. A
year after their parting, Bezuel happened to be, one day, in the
fields, delivering a message to some workmen, when he suddenly fell down
fainting. As he was in perfect health, he knew not what to think of this
accident, but when it occurred a second and a third time, at the same
hour, on the two following days, he became seriously uneasy. On the last
occasion, however, he fell into a trance, in which he saw nothing around
him, but beheld his friend Desfontaines, who seized him by the arm and
led him some thirty yards aside. The workmen saw him go there, as if
obeying a guardian hand, and converse with an unseen person for three
quarters of an hour. The young man heard here from his friend's lips,
that he had been drowned while bathing in the river Orne on the day and
at the hour when Bezuel had had his first fainting fit, that a companion
had endeavored to save him, but when seized by the foot by the drowning
man, had kicked him on the chest, and thus caused him to sink to the
bottom. Bezuel inquired after all the details and received full answers,
but none to questions about the future life; nevertheless, the
apparition continued to speak fluently but calmly, and requested Bezuel
to make certain communications to his kinsmen, and to repeat the "seven
penitential psalms," which he ought to have said himself as a penance.
It also mentioned the work in which Desfontaines had been engaged up to
the day of his death, and some names which he had cut in the bark of a
tree near the town in which he lived. Then it disappeared. Bezuel was
not able to carry out his friend's wishes, although the arm by which he
had been seized, reminded him daily of his duty by a severe pain; after
a month, the drowned man appeared twice more, urging his requests, and
saying each time at the end of the interview, "_bis, bis_," just as he
had been accustomed to do when in life. At last the young priest found
the means to do his friend's bidding; the pain in the arm ceased
instantly and his health remained perfect to the end of his life. When
he reached Caen where Desfontaines had perished, he found everything
precisely as he had been told in his visions, and two years afterwards
he discovered by chance even the tree with the names cut in the bark.
The amiable Abbé de St. Pierre does his best to explain the whole
occurrence as a natural series of very simple accidents; there can be,
however, no doubt of the exceptionable character of the leading features
of the event, and the priest, from whose own account the facts are
derived, must evidently in his trance have been endowed with powers of

In the first part of this century a book appeared in Germany which led
to a very general and rather violent discussion of the whole subject. It
was written by a Dr. Woetzel, whose mind had, no doubt, been long
engaged in trying to solve mysteries like that of the future life, since
he had early come in contact with strange phenomena. The father of a
dear friend of his having fainted in consequence of receiving a serious
wound, was very indignant at being roused from the state of perfect
bliss which he had enjoyed during the time. He affirmed that in the
short interval he had visited his brother in Berlin, whom he found
sitting in a bower under a large linden-tree, surrounded by his family
and a few friends, and engaged in drinking coffee. Upon entering the
garden, his brother had risen, advanced towards him and asked him what
had brought him so unexpectedly to Berlin. A few days after the
fainting-fit a letter arrived from that city, inquiring what could have
happened on that day and at that hour, and reciting all that the old
gentleman had reported as having been done during his unconsciousness!
Nor had the latter been seen by his brother only, but quite as
distinctly by the whole company present; his image had, however,
vanished again as soon as his brother had attempted to touch him
(Woetzel, p. 215). From his work we learn that he had begged his wife on
her death-bed to appear to him after death, and she had promised to do
so; but soon after her mind became so uneasy about the probable effects
of her pledge, that her husband released her, and abandoned all thoughts
on the subject. Several weeks later he was sitting in a locked room,
when suddenly a heavy draught of air rushed through it, the light was
nearly blown out, a small window in an alcove sounded as if it were
opened, and in an instant the faint luminous form of his wife was
standing before the amazed widower. She said in a soft, scarcely audible
voice: "Charles, I am immortal; we shall see each other again." Woetzel
jumped up and tried to seize the form, but it vanished like thin mist,
and he felt a strong electric shock. He saw the same vision and heard
the same words repeatedly; his wife appeared as he had last seen her
lying in her coffin; the second time a dog, who had been often petted by
her, wagged his tail and walked caressingly around the apparition. The
book, which appeared in 1804, and gave a full account of all the
phenomena, met with much opposition and contempt; a number of works were
written against it, Wieland ridiculed it in his "Euthanasia," and others
denounced it as a mere repetition of former statements. The author was,
however, not abashed by the storm he had raised; he offered to swear to
the truth of all he had stated before the Great Council of the
University of Leipzig, and published a second work in which he developed
his theory of ghosts with great ability. According to his view, the
spirits of the departed are for some time after death surrounded by a
luminous essence, which may, under peculiarly favorable circumstances,
become visible to human eyes, but which, according to the weakness of
our mind, is generally transformed by the imagination only into the more
familiar form of deceased friends. He insists, besides, upon it that all
he saw and heard was an impression made upon the outer senses only, and
that nothing in the whole occurrence originated in his inner
consciousness. As there was nothing to be gained for him by his
persistent assertions, it seems but fair to give them all the weight
they may deserve, till the whole subject is more fully understood.

Another remarkable case is that of a Mr. and Mrs. James, at whose house
the Rev. Mr. Mills, a Methodist preacher, was usually entertained when
his duties brought him to their place of residence. One year he found
they had both died since his last visit, but he staid with the orphaned
children, and retired to the same room which he had always occupied. The
adjoining room was the former chamber of the aged couple, and here he
began soon to hear a whispering and moving about, just as he used to
hear it when they were still alive. This recalled to him the reports he
had heard in the town, that the departed had been frequently seen by
their numerous friends and kinsmen. The next day he called upon a plain
but very pious woman, who urged him to share her simple meal with her;
he consented, but what was his amazement when she said to him at the
close of the meal: "Now, Mr. Mills, I have a favor to ask of you. I want
you to preach my funeral sermon next Sunday. I am going to die next
Friday at three o'clock." When the astonished minister asked her to
explain the strange request, she replied that Mr. and Mrs. James had
come to her to tell her that they were ineffably happy, but still bound
by certain ties to the world below. They had added that they had not
died, as people believed, without disposing of their property, but that,
in order to avoid dissensions among their children, they had been
allowed to return and to make the place known where the will was
concealed. They had tried to confer with Mr. Mills, but his timidity had
prevented it; now they had come to her, as the minister was going to
dine that day at her house. Finally they had informed her of her
approaching death on the day she had mentioned. The Methodist minister
looked, aided by the heirs and a legal man, for the will and found it at
the place indicated. Nanny, the poor woman, died on Friday, and her
funeral sermon was preached by him on the following Sunday (Rechenberg,
p. 182).

A certain Dr. T. Van Velseu published in 1870, in Dutch, a work, called
_Christus Redivivus_, in which he relates a number of very remarkable
appearances of deceased persons, and among these the following: "A
friend of the author's, a man of sound, practical mind, and a declared
enemy of all superstition, lost his mother whom he had most assiduously
nursed for six weeks and who died in full faith in her Redeemer. A few
days later his nephew was to be married in a distant province, but
although no near kinsman of his, except his mother, could be present,
he, the uncle, could not make up his mind so soon after his grievous
loss, to attend a wedding. This decision irritated and wounded his
sister deeply and led to warm discussions, in which other relatives also
took her side, and which threatened to cause a serious breach in the
family. The mourner was deeply afflicted by the scene and at night,
having laid the matter before God, he fell asleep with the thought on
his mind: 'What would your mother think of it?' Suddenly, while yet wide
awake, he heard a voice saying: 'Go!' Although he recognized the voice
instantly, he thought it might be his sister's and drew the bed-curtain
aside, to see who was there. To his amazement he saw his mother's form
standing by his bedside; terrified and bewildered he dropped the
curtain, turned his face to the wall and tried to collect his thoughts,
but at the same time he heard the same voice say once more: 'Go!' He
drew the curtain again and saw his mother as before, looking at him with
deep love and gentle urgency. This excites him so that he can control
himself no longer; he jumps up and tries to seize the form--it draws
back and gradually dissolves before his eye. Now only he recalls how
often he has conversed with his mother about the future life and the
possibility of communication after death; he becomes calm, decides to
attend the wedding and sleeps soundly till the morning. The next day he
finds his heart relieved of a sore burden; he joins his friends at the
wedding and finds, to his infinite delight, that by his presence only a
serious difficulty is avoided and peace is preserved in a numerous and
influential family. In this case the effect of the mind on the
imagination is strikingly illustrated, and although the vision of the
mother may have existed purely in the son's mind, the practical result
was precisely the same as if a spirit had really appeared in tangible
shape so as to be seen by the outward eye."

In some instances phenomena, like those described, are apparently the
result of a disturbed conscience, and occur, therefore, in frequent
repetition. Already Plutarch, in his "Life of Cimon," tells us that the
Spartan general, Pausanias, had murdered a fair maiden, Cleonice,
because she overthrew a torch in his tent and he imagined himself to be
attacked by assassins. The ghost of the poor girl, whom he had
dishonored in life and so foully killed, appeared to him and threatened
him with such fearful disgrace, that he was terrified and hastened to
Heraclea, where necromancers summoned the spirits of the departed by
their vile arts. They called up Cleonice, at the great commander's
request, and she replied reluctantly, that the curse would not leave him
till he went to Sparta. Pausanias did so and found his death there, the
only way, says the historian of the same name, in which he could ever be
relieved of such fearful guilt. Baxter, also, tells us (p. 30) of a Rev.
Mr. Franklin, whose young son repeatedly saw a lady and received at her
hands quite painful correction. Thus, when he was bound apprentice to a
surgeon, in 1661, and refused to return home upon being ordered to do
so, she appeared to him, and when he resisted her admonitions,
energetically boxed his ears. The poor boy was in bad health and seemed
to suffer so much that at last the surgeon determined to consult his
father, who lived on the island of Ely. On the morning of the day which
he spent travelling, the boy cried out: "Oh, mistress, here's the lady
again!" and at the same time a noise as of a violent blow was heard.
The child hung his head and fell back dead. In the same hour the surgeon
and the boy's father, sitting together in consultation, saw a lady enter
the room, glance at them angrily, walk up and down a few times and
disappear again.

The fancy that murdered persons reappear in some shape after death for
the purpose of wreaking their vengeance upon their enemies, is very
common among all nations, and has often been vividly embodied in legends
and ballads. The stories of Hamlet and of Don Giovanni are based upon
this belief, and the older chronicles abound with similar cases
belonging to an age when violence was more frequent and justice less
prompt than in our day. Thus we are told in the annals of the famous
castle of Weinsberg in Suabia--justly renowned all over the world for
the rare instance of marital attachment exhibited by its women--that a
steward had wantonly murdered a peasant there. Thereupon disturbances of
various kinds began to make the castle uninhabitable; a black shape was
seen walking about and breathing hot and hateful odors upon all it met,
while the steward became an object of special persecution. The
townspeople at first were skeptic and laughed at his reports, but soon
the black visitor was seen on the ramparts of the town also and created
within the walls the same sensation as up at the castle. The good
citizens at last observed a solemn fast-day and performed a pilgrimage
to a holy shrine at Heilbrum. But all was in vain, and the disturbances
and annoyances increased in frequency and violence, till at last the
unfortunate steward died from vexation and sorrow, when the whole ceased
and peace was restored to town and castle alike (Crusius, "Suabian
Chron." ii. p. 417).

Another case of this kind is connected with a curious token of gratitude
exhibited by the gratified victim. A president of the Parliament of
Toulouse, returning from Paris towards the end of the seventeenth
century, was compelled by an accident to stop at a poor country tavern.
During the night there appeared to him an old man, pale and bleeding,
who declared that he was the father of the present owner of the house,
that he had been murdered by his own son, cut to pieces, and buried in
the garden. He appealed to the president to investigate the matter and
to avenge his murder. The judge was so forcibly impressed by his vision
that he ordered search to be made, and lo! the body of the murdered man
was found, and the son, thunderstruck by the mysterious revelation,
acknowledged his guilt, was tried, and in course of time died on the
scaffold. But the murdered man was not satisfied yet; he showed himself
once more to the president and asked how he could prove his gratitude?
The latter asked to be informed of the hour of his death, that he might
fitly prepare himself, and was promised that he should know it a week in
advance. Many years afterwards a fierce knocking was heard at the gate
of the president's house in Toulouse; the porter opened but saw no one;
the knocking was repeated, but this time also the servants who had
rushed to the spot found nobody there; when it was heard a third time
they were thoroughly frightened and hastened to inform their master. The
latter went to the door and there saw the well-remembered form of his
nightly visitor, who told him that he would die in eight days. He told
his friends and his family what had happened, but only met with
laughter, as he was in perfect health and nothing seemed more improbable
than his sudden death. But as he sat, on the eighth day, at table with
his family, a book was mentioned which he wished to see, and he got up
to look for it in his library. Instantly a shot is heard; the guests
rush out and find him lying on the floor and weltering in his blood.
Upon inquiry it appeared that a man, desperately in love with the
chamber-maid and jealous of a rival, had mistaken the president for the
latter and murdered him with a pistol (De Ségur, _Galérie morale et
politique_, p. 221).

Among the numerous accounts of visions which seem to have been caused by
an instinctive and perfectly unconscious perception of human remains,
the story of the Rev. Mr. Lindner, in Königsberg, is perhaps the best
authenticated, and from the character of the man to whom the revelation
was made, the most trustworthy. It is fully reported by Professor
Ehrmann of Strasburg, in _Kies. Archiv._ x. iii., p. 143. The minister,
a modest, pious man, awoke in the middle of the night, and saw, by the
bright moonlight which was shining into the room, another minister in
gown and bands, standing before his open bible, apparently searching for
some quotation. He had a small child in his arms, and a larger child
stood by his side. After some time spent in speechless astonishment, Mr.
Lindner exclaimed: "All good spirits praise God!" whereupon the stranger
turned round, went up to him and offered three times to shake hands with
him. Mr. Lindner, however, refused to do so, gazing at the same time
intently at his features, and after a while he found himself looking at
the air, for all had disappeared. It was a long time afterwards, when
sauntering through the cloisters of his church, he was suddenly arrested
by a portrait which bore all the features of the minister he had seen on
that night. It was one of his predecessors in office, who had died
nearly fifty years ago in rather bad odor, reports having been current
at the time, as very old men still living testified, that he had had
several illegitimate children, of whose fate nothing was known. But
there was a still further sequel to the minister's strange adventure. In
the course of the next year his study was enlarged, and for that purpose
the huge German stove had to be removed; to the horror of the workmen
and of Mr. Lindner, who was promptly called to the spot, the remains of
several children were found carefully concealed beneath the solid
structure. As there is no reason to suspect self-delusion in the
reverend man, and the vision cannot well be ascribed to any outward
cause, it must be presumed that his sensitive nature was painfully
affected by the skeletons in his immediate neighborhood, and that this
unconscious feeling, acting through his imagination, gave form and shape
to the impressions made upon his nerves.

In another case the principal person was a candidate of divinity,
Billing, well known as being of a highly sensitive disposition and given
to hallucinations; the extreme suffering which the presence of human
remains caused to his whole system had been previously already observed.
The great German fabulist, Pfeffel, a blind man, once took Billing's arm
and went with him into the garden to take an airing. The poet noticed
that when they came to a certain place, the young man hesitated and his
arm trembled as if it had received an electric shock. When he was asked
what was the matter, he replied, "Oh, nothing!" But upon passing over
the spot a second time, the same tremor made itself felt. Pressed by
Pfeffel, the young man at last acknowledged that he experienced at that
spot the sensation which the presence of a corpse always produced in
him, and offered to go there with the poet at night in order to prove to
him the correctness of his feelings. When the two friends went to the
garden after dark, Billing perceived at once a faint glimmer of light
above the spot. He stopped at a distance of about ten yards, and after a
while declared that he saw a female figure hovering above the place,
about five feet high, with the right arm across her bosom and the left
hand hanging down by her side. When the poet advanced and stood on the
fatal spot, the young man affirmed that the image was on his right or
his left, before or behind him, and when Pfeffel struck around him with
his cane, it produced the effect as if he were cutting through a flame
which instantly reunited. The same phenomena were witnessed a second
time by a number of Pfeffel's relations. Several days afterwards, while
the young man was absent, the poet caused the place in the garden to be
dug up, and at a depth of several feet, beneath a layer of lime, a human
skeleton was discovered. It was removed, the hole filled up, and all
smoothed over again. After Billing's return the poet took him once more
into the garden, and this time the young man walked over the fatal spot
without experiencing the slightest sensation (_Kieser, Archiv._, etc.,
p. 326).

It was this remarkable experience which led Baron Reichenbach to verify
it by leading one of his sensitive patients, a Miss Reichel, at night to
the great cemetery of Vienna. As soon as she reached the place she
perceived everywhere a sea of flames, brightest over the new graves,
weaker over others, and quite faint here and there. In a few cases these
lights reached a height of nearly four feet, but generally they had more
the appearance of luminous mists, so that her hand, held over the place
where she saw one, seemed to be enveloped in a cloud of fire. She was in
no way troubled by the phenomena, which she had often previously
observed, and Baron Reichenbach thought he saw in them a confirmation of
his theory about the Od-light. There can be, however, little doubt that
the luminous appearance, perceptible though it be only to unusually
sensitive persons, is the result of chemical decomposition, which has a
peculiar influence over these persons.

Hence, no doubt, the numerous accounts of will-o'-the-wisps and ghostly
lights seen in graveyards; the frightened beholder is nearly always
laughed at or heartily abused, and more than one poor child has fallen a
victim to the absurd theory of "curing it of foolish fears." There can
be no doubt that light does appear flickering above churchyards, and
that there is something more than mere idle superstition in the
"corpse-candles" of the Welsh and in the "elf-candles" of the Scotch,
which are seen, with foreboding weight, in the house of sickness,
betokening near dissolution. At the same time, it is well known that
living persons also have, under certain circumstances, given out light,
and especially from their head. The cases of Moses, whose face shone
with unbearable brightness, and of the martyr Stephen, are familiar to
all, and the halo with which artists surround the heads of saints bears
eloquent evidence of the universal and deeply-rooted belief. But science
also has fully established the fact that light appears as a real and
unmistakable luminous efflux from the human body, alike in health and
in mortal sickness. By far the most common case of such emission of
light is the emission of sparks from the hair when combed. Before and
during the electrical "dust-storms" in India, this phenomenon is of
frequent occurrence in the hair of both sexes. In dry weather, and when
the hair also is dry, and especially immediately before thunderstorms,
the same sparks are seen in all countries. Dr. Phipson mentions the case
of a relative of his, "whose hair (exactly one yard and a quarter long),
when combed somewhat rapidly with a black gutta-percha comb, emits
sheets of light upward of a foot in length," the light being "composed
of hundreds of small electric sparks, the snapping noise of which is
distinctly heard."

But electric light is sometimes given off by the human body itself, not
merely from the hair. A memorable instance of this phenomenon is
recorded by Dr. Kane in the journal of his last voyage to the Polar
regions. He and a companion, Petersen, had gone to sleep in a hut during
intense cold, and on awaking in the night, found, to their horror, that
their lamp--their only hope--had gone out. Petersen tried in vain to get
light from a pocket-pistol, and then Kane resolved to take the pistol
himself. "It was so intensely dark," he says, "that I had to grope for
it, and in so doing, I touched his hand. At that instant the pistol--in
Petersen's hand--became distinctly visible. A pale bluish light,
slightly tremulous, but not broken, covered the metallic parts of it.
The stock, too, was distinctly visible as if by reflected light, and to
the amazement of both of us, also the thumb and two fingers with which
Petersen was holding it--the creases, wrinkles and circuit of nails
being clearly defined upon the skin. As I took the pistol my hand became
illuminated also." This luminous and doubtless electric phenomenon took
place in highly exceptional circumstances, and is the only case recorded
in recent times. But a far more remarkable phenomenon of a similar kind
is mentioned by Bartholin, who gives an account of a lady in Italy, whom
he rightly styles _mulier splendens_, whose body became
phosphorescent--or rather shone with electric radiations--when slightly
rubbed with a piece of dry linen. In this case the luminosity appears to
have been normal, certainly very frequent under ordinary circumstances,
and the fact is well attested. Mr. B. H. Patterson mentions in the
journal _Belgravia_ (Oct., 1872), that he saw the flannel with which he
had rubbed his body, emit blue sparks, while at the same time he heard a
"crackling" sound. These facts prove that the human body even in
ordinary life, is capable of giving out luminous undulations, while
science teaches us that they appear quite frequently in disease. Here
again, Dr. Phipson mentions several cases as the result of his reading.
One of these is that of a woman in Milan, during whose illness a
so-called phosphoric light glimmered about her bed. Another remarkable
case is recorded by Dr. Marsh, in a volume on the "Evolution of Light
from the Human Subject," and reads thus: "About an hour and a half
before my sister's death, we were struck by luminous appearances
proceeding from her head in a diagonal direction. She was at the time in
a half-recumbent position, and perfectly tranquil. The light was pale as
the moon, but quite evident to mamma, myself, and sisters, who were
watching over her at the time. One of us at first thought it was
lightning, till shortly afterwards we perceived a sort of tremulous
glimmer playing around the head of the bed, and then, recollecting that
we had read something of a similar nature having been observed previous
to dissolution, we had candles brought into the room, fearing that our
dear sister would perceive the luminosity, and that it might disturb the
tranquillity of her last moments."

The other case relates to an Irish peasant, and is recorded from
personal observation by Dr. Donovan, in the _Dublin Medical Press_, in
1870, as follows: "I was sent to see Harrington in December. He had been
under the care of my predecessor, and had been entered as a phthisical
patient. He was under my care for about five years, and I had
discontinued my visits, when the report became general that mysterious
lights were seen every night in his cabin. The subject attracted a great
deal of attention. I determined to submit the matter to the ordeal of my
own senses, and for this purpose I visited the cabin for fourteen
nights. On three nights only I witnessed anything unusual. Once I
perceived a luminous fog resembling the aurora borealis; and twice I saw
scintillations like the sparkling phosphorescence exhibited by
sea-infusoria. From the close scrutiny I made, I can with certainty say,
that no imposition was either employed or attempted."

The only explanation ever offered by competent authority of the luminous
radiations from persons in disease, ascribes them to an efflux or escape
of the nerve-force, which is known to be kindred in its nature to
electricity, transmuting itself into luminosity as it leaves the body.
The Seeress of Prevorst reported that she saw the nerves as shining
threads, and even from the eyes of some persons rays of light seemed to
her to flash continually. Other somnambulists also, as well as
mesmerized persons, have seen the hair of persons shine with a multitude
of sparks, while the breath of their mouth appeared as a faint luminous

The same luminosity is, finally, perceived at times in graveyards, and
would, no doubt, have led to careful investigation more frequently, if
observers had not so often been suspected of superstitious
apprehensions. In the case of Baron Reichenbach's patients, however, no
such difficulty was to be feared; they saw invariably light, bluish
flames hovering over many graves, and what made the phenomena more
striking still, was the fact that these moving lights were only seen on
recent graves, as if naturally dependent upon the process of
decomposition. If we connect this with our experience of luminosity seen
in decaying vegetables, in spoiled meat, and in diseased persons, we
shall be prepared to believe that even so-called ghost stories, in which
mysterious lights play a prominent part, are by no means necessarily
without foundation.

Cases in which deceased persons have made themselves known to survivors,
or have produced, by some as yet unexplained agency, an impression upon
them through other senses than the sight, are very rare. Occasionally,
however, the hearing is thus affected, and sweet music is heard, in
token, as it were, of the continued intercourse between the dead and the
living. One instance may serve as an illustration.

The Countess A. had all her life been remarkable for the strange delight
she took in clocks; not a room in her castle but had its large or small
clock, and all these she insisted upon winding up herself at the proper
time. Her favorite, however, was a very curious and most costly clock in
her sitting-room, which had the form of a Gothic church, and displayed
in the steeple a small dial, behind which the works were concealed; at
the full hour a hymn was played by a kind of music-box attached to the
mechanism. She allowed no one to touch this clock, and used to sit
before it, as the hand approached the hour, waiting for the hymn to be
heard. At last she was taken ill and confined for seven weeks, during
which the clock could not be wound up, and then she died. For special
reasons the interment had to take place on the evening of the next day,
and, as the castle was far from any town, the preparations took so much
time that it was nearly midnight before the body could be moved from the
bedroom to the drawing-room, where the usual ceremonies were to be
performed. The transfer was accomplished under the superintendence of
her husband, who followed the coffin, and in the presence of a large
number of friends and dependents, while the minister led the sad
cortége. At the moment when the coffin approached the favorite clock, it
suddenly began to strike; but instead of twelve, it gave out thirteen
strokes, and then followed the melody of a well-known hymn:

    "Let us with boldness now proceed
     On the dark path to a new life."

The minister, who happened to have been sitting a little while before by
the count's side, just beneath the clock, and had mournfully noticed its
silence after so many years, was thunderstruck, and could not recover
his self-control for some time. The count, on the contrary, saw in the
accident a solemn warning from on high, and henceforth laid aside the
frivolity which he had so far shown in his life as well as in his
principles ("Evening Post" [Germ.], 1840. No. 187).

There are finally certain phenomena belonging to this part of magic,
which have been very generally attributed to an agency in which natural
forces and supernatural beings held a nearly equal share. They suggest
the interesting but difficult question, whether visions and ecstasy can
extend to large numbers of men at once? And yet without some such
supposition the armies in the clouds, the wild huntsman of the Ardennes,
and like appearances cannot well be explained. Here also no little
weight must be attached to ancient superstitions which have become, as
it were, a part of a nation's faith. Thus all Northern Germany has from
the earliest days been familiar with the idea of the great Woden ranging
through its dark forests, at the head of the Walkyries and the heroes
fallen in battle, while his wolves and his raven followed him on his
nightly course. When Christianity changed the old gods of the German
race into devils and demons, Woden became very naturally the wild
huntsman, who was now escorted by men of violence, bloody tyrants, and
criminals, often grievously mutilated or altogether headless. There can
be little doubt but that these visions also rested upon some natural
substructure: exceptional atmospheric disturbances, hurricanes coming
from afar and crashing through mighty forests, or even the modest tramp
of a band of poachers heard afar off, under favorable circumstances by
timid ears. The very fact that the favorite time for such phenomena is
the winter solstice favors this supposition. They are, however, by no
means limited to seasons and days, for as late as 1842 a number of
wheat-cutters left in a panic the field in which they were engaged,
because they believed they heard Frau Holle with her hellish company,
and saw Faithful Eckhard, as he walked steadily before the procession,
warning all he met to stand aside and escape from the fatal sight. An
occurrence of the kind, which took place in 1857, was fortunately fully
explained by careful observers: the cause was an immense flock of wild
geese, whose strange cries resembled in a surprising manner the barking
of a pack of hounds during a hunt. Another occurrence during the night
of January 30, 1849, threw the whole neighborhood of Basle in
Switzerland into painful consternation. The air was suddenly filled with
a multitude of whining voices, whose agony pierced the hearts of all who
heard them; men and beasts seemed to be suffering unutterable anguish,
and to be driven with furious speed from the mountain-side into a valley
near Magden; here all ended in an instant amid rolling thunder and
fearful flashes of lightning. A fierce storm arising in distant clefts
and crevices, and carrying possibly fragments of rock, ice, and moraine
along with it, seems here to have been the determining cause.

Another class of phenomena of this kind relates to the great battles
that have at times decided the fate of the world. Thus Pausanias already
tells us ("Attica," 32), and so do other historians of Greece, how the
Plain of Marathon resounded for nearly four centuries every year with
the clash of arms and the cries of soldiers. It was evidently the deep
and lasting impression made upon a highly sensitive nation, which here
was bequeathed from generation to generation, and on the day of the
battle, when all was excitement, resulted in the perception of sounds
which had no real existence. Events of such colossal proportions, which
determine in a few hours the fate of great nations, leave naturally a
powerful impress upon contemporaries not only, but also upon the
children of that race. Such was, among others, the fearful battle on the
Catalaunian Fields, in which the Visi-Goths and Aetius conquered Attila,
and one hundred and sixty-two thousand warriors were slain. It was at
the time reported that the intense bitterness and exasperation of the
armies continued even after the battle, and that for three days the
spirits of the fallen were contending with each other with unabated
fury. The report grew into a legend, till a firm belief was established
that the battle was fought year after year on the memorable day, and
that any visitor might behold the passionate spirits as they rose from
their graves, armed with their ancient weapons and filled with
undiminished fury. One by one the soldiers of the two armies, it was
said, leave their lowly graves, rise high into the air, and engage in
deadly but silent strife, till they vanish in the clouds. It is well
known how successfully the great German painter, Kaulbach, has
reproduced the vision in his magnificent fresco of the "Hunnenschlacht."
In other countries these ghostly visions assume different forms. Thus
the neighborhood of Kerope, in Livonia, is in like manner renowned for a
long series of fearful butcheries during the wars between the German
knights and the Muscovites. There also, night after night, the shadowy
battle is fought over again; but the clashing of arms and the hoarse
war-cries are distinctly heard, and the pious traveler hastens away from
the blood-soaked plains, uttering his prayers for the souls of the
slain. In the Highlands of Scotland also, and on the adjoining islands,
most weird and gruesome sights have been watched by young and old in
every generation. The dark, dismal atmosphere of those regions, the
dense fogs and impenetrable mists, now rising from the sea, and now
descending from the mountains, and the fierce, inclement climate, have
all combined for ages to predispose the mind for the perception of such
strange and mysterious phenomena. Nearly every clan and every family has
its own particular ghost, and besides these the whole nation claims a
number of common visions and prophetic spirits, whose harps and wild
songs are heard faintly and fearfully sounding on high. A friend of Mr.
Martin, the author of a work on "Second Sight," used to recite several
stanzas belonging to such a prophetic song, which he had heard himself
on a sad November day, as it came to him through the drooping clouds and
sweeping mists from the summit of a lonely mountain. At funerals also,
wonderful voices were heard high in the air, as they accompanied the
chanting of the people below, with a music not born upon earth, and
filling the heart with strange but sweet sadness. Nearly the same
visions are seen and the same songs are heard in Sweden and Norway,
proving conclusively that like climatic influences produce also a
similar magic life, in individuals not only, but in whole nations. For
even if we are disposed to look upon these phenomena as merely strange
appearances of clouds and mists, accompanied by the howling and
whistling of the wind and the tumbling down of rocks and gravel, there
remains the uniformity with which thousands of every generation
interpret these sights and sounds into weird visions and solemn

It is, however, not quite so evident why the peculiar class of visions
which is often erroneously called second sight--the beholding of a
"double"--should be almost entirely confined to these same northern
regions. It is, of course, not unknown to other lands also, and even
Holy Writ seems to justify the presumption that the idea of a "double"
was familiar to the people of Palestine. For the poor damsel Rhoda, who
"for gladness" did not open the door at which Peter knocked, after he
had been miraculously liberated, but ran to announce his presence to the
friends who were assembled at the house of Mark's brother, was first
called mad, and then told: "It is his angel" (Acts xii. 13). They
evidently meant, not that it was the spirit of their deceased friend,
since they would have been made aware of his death, but a phantom
representing his living body. But the number of authentic cases of
persons who have seen their own form, is vastly greater at the North
than anywhere else. The Celtic superstition of the "fetch," as the
appearance of a person's "double" is there called, is too well known to
require explanation. But the vision itself is one of the most
interesting in the study of magic, since it exhibits most strikingly the
great power which the human soul may, under peculiar circumstances,
gain and exercise over its own self, leading to complete self-delusion.

A case in which this strange abdication of all self-control led to most
desirable consequences, is mentioned by Dr. Mayo. A young man recently
from Oxford once saw a friend of his enter the room in which he was
dining with some companions. The new comer, just returning from hunting,
seemed to them to look unusually pale and was evidently in a state of
great excitement. After much urging he at last confessed that he had
been seriously disturbed in mind by a man who had kept him close company
all the way home. This stranger, on horseback like himself, had been his
exact image, down to a new bridle, his own invention, which he had tried
that day for the first time. He fancied that this "double" was his own
ghost and an omen of his impending death. His friends advised him to
confer with the head of his college; this was done, and the latter gave
him much good advice, adding the hope that the warning would not be
allowed to pass unimproved. It is certain that the apparition made so
strong an impression upon the young man as to lead to his entire
reformation, at least for a time.

It is claimed by many writers that there are persons who continually
have visions, because they live in constant communication with spirits,
although in all cases they have to pay a fearful penalty for this sad
privilege. They are invariably diseased people, mostly women, who fall
into trances, have cataleptic attacks, or suffer of even more painful
maladies, and during the time of their affliction behold and converse
with the inmates of another world. The most renowned of these seers was
a Mrs. Hauffe, who has become well known to the reading world through
Dr. J. Kerner's famous work, "The Seeress of Prevorst." A peculiar
feature in her case was the fact that the visions she had were
invariably announced to bystanders by peculiar sounds, heard by all who
were present. The forms assumed by her mysterious visitors varied almost
infinitely; now it was a man in a brown gown, and now a woman in white.
Often, when the spirits appeared in the open air, and she tried to
escape from them by running, she was bodily lifted up and hurried along
so fast that her companions could not keep pace with her. It was only
later in life that she fell as a patient into the hands of Dr. Kerner,
who was quite distinguished as a poet, and had a great renown as a
physician for insane people of a special class. His house at Weinsberg
in Würtemberg, was filled to overflowing with persons of all classes of
society, from the highest to the lowest, and all had visions. Nor was
the doctor himself excluded; he also was a seer, and has given in the
above-mentioned book a full and most interesting account of the diseases
in connection with which magic phenomena are most frequently observed.
By the aid of careful observation of actual facts, and using such
revelations vouchsafed to him and others as he believed fully
trustworthy, he formed a regular theory of visions. First of all he
admits that the privilege of communing with spirits is a grievous
affliction, and that all of his more thoughtful patients continually
prayed to be delivered of the burden. It is evident from all he states
that not only the body, but the mind also suffers--and in many cases
suffers unto destruction--under the effects of such exceptional powers;
that in fact the lines of separation between this life and another life
can never be crossed with impunity. His most interesting patient, Mrs.
Hauffe, presents the usual mixture of mere fanciful imagery with
occasional flashes of truth; her genuine revelations were marvelous, and
can only be explained upon the ground of real magic; but with them are
mixed up the most absurd theories and the most startling contradictions.
She insisted, however, upon the fact that only those spirits could
commune with mortal man who were detained in the middle realm--between
heaven and hell--the spirits of men who were in this life unable, though
not unwilling, to believe that "God could forgive their sins for the
sake of Christ's death." She was often tried by Dr. Kerner and others;
she was told that certain still living persons had died, and asked to
summon their spirits, but she was never misled. There can be no doubt
that the poor woman was sincere in her statements; but she was
apparently unable to distinguish between real visions in a trance and
the mere offspring of her imagination. That her peculiarities were
closely connected with her bodily condition is, moreover, proved by the
fact that her whole family suffered in similar manner and enjoyed
similar powers; a brother and a sister, as well as her young son, all
had visions and heard mysterious noises. The latter were, in fact,
perceptible to all the inmates of the strange house; even the great
skeptic, Dr. Strausz, who once visited it, heard "long, fearful
groanings" close to his amiable hostess, who had fallen asleep on her
sofa. Nor were the ghosts content with disturbing the patients and their
excellent physician; they made themselves known to their friends and
neighbors, also, and even the good minister in the little town had much
to suffer from nightly knockings and strange utterances.

Dr. Kerner himself heard many spirits, but saw only one, and that only
as "a grayish pillar;" on the other hand he witnessed countless
mysterious phenomena which occurred in his patients' bedrooms. Now he
beheld Mrs. Hauffe's boots pulled off by invisible hands, while she
herself was lying almost inanimate, in a trance, on her bed, and now he
heard her reveal secrets which, upon writing to utterly unknown persons
at a great distance, proved to be correctly stated. What makes a
thorough investigation of all these phenomena peculiarly difficult, is
the fact that Dr. Kerner's house became an asylum for somnambulists as
well as for real patients, and that by this mixture the scientific value
of his observations, as regards their psychological interest, is
seriously impaired. He himself was a sincere believer in magic
phenomena; almost all of his friends and neighbors, from the humblest
peasant to the most cultivated men of science, believed in him and his
statements, and there can be no doubt that astonishing revelations were
made and extraordinary powers became manifest in his house. But here,
also, the difficulty of separating the few grains of truth from the
great mass of willful, as well as of unconscious delusion, is almost
overwhelming, and our final judgment must be held in suspense, till more
light has been thrown on the subject. Dr. Kerner's son, who succeeded
his father at his death in 1862, still keeps up the remarkable
establishment at Weinsberg; but exclusively for the cure of certain
diseases by magnetism.



    "There shall not be found among you any one that useth divination."

    --DEUT. xviii. 9.

The usual activity of our mind is limited to the perception of the world
around us, and its life, as far as the power of our senses reaches; it
must, therefore, necessarily be confined within the limits of space and
time. There are, however, specially favored men among us who profess an
additional power, or even ordinary men may be thus endowed under
peculiar circumstances, as when they are under the influence of nervous
affections, trances, or even merely in an unusual state of excitement.
Then they are no longer subject to the usual laws of distance in space,
or remoteness in time; they perceive as immediately present what lies
beyond the reach of others, and the magic power by which this is
accomplished is called Divination. This vision is never quite clear, nor
always complete or correct, for even such exceptionable powers are in
all cases more or less subject to the imperfections of our nature;
habitual notions, an ill-executed imagination, and often a disordered
state of the system, all interfere with its perfect success. These
imperfections, moreover, not only affect the value of such magic
perceptions, but obscure the genuine features by a number of false
statements and of erroneous impressions, which quite legitimately excite
a strong prejudice against the whole subject. Hence, especially, the
rigor of the Church against divination in every form; it has ever
ascribed the errors mixed up with the true parts of such revelations to
the direct influence of the Evil One. The difficulty, however, arises
that such magic powers have nothing at all to do with the question of
morality; the saint and the criminal may possess them alike, since they
are elements of our common nature, hidden in the vast majority of cases,
and coming into view and into life only in rare exceptional instances.

Divination, as freed from the ordinary limits of our perceptions,
appears either as clairvoyance, when things are seen which are beyond
the range of natural vision, or as prophecy, when the boundary lines of
time are overstepped. The latter appears again in its weakest form as a
mere anticipation of things to come, or rises to perfection in the
actual foretelling of future events. It is sad enough to learn from the
experience of all nations that the occurrences thus foreseen are almost
invariably great misfortunes, yet our surprise will cease if we remember
that the tragic in life exercises by far the greatest influence on our
mind, and excites it far beyond all other events. Nor must we overlook
the marvelous unanimity with which such magic powers are admitted to
exist in Man by all nations on earth. The explanation, also, is
invariably the same, namely, that Man possessed originally the command
over space and time as well as God himself, but that when sin came into
the world and affected his earth-born body, this power was lost, and
preserved only to appear in exceptional and invariably most painful
cases. So thought the ancients even long before revelation had spoken.
They believed that Man had had a previous god-like existence before
appearing upon earth, where he was condemned to expiate the sins of his
former life, while his immortal and divine soul was chained to a
perishing earthy body. Plato, Plutarch, and Pythagoras, Cicero (in his
book _De Divinatione_), and even Porphyrius, all admit without
hesitation the power of divination, and speak of its special vigor in
the moments preceding death. Melanchthon ascribed warning dreams to the
prophetic power of the human soul. Brierre de Boismont also is forced to
admit that not all cases of clairvoyance and prophesying are the results
of hallucination by diseased persons; he speaks, on the contrary, and in
spite of his bitter skepticism, of instances in which the increased
powers of perception are the effect of "supernatural intuition."

One of the most prolific sources of error in Divination has ever been
the variety of means employed for the purpose of causing the preparatory
state of trance. It is well known in our day that the mind may be most
strangely affected by innumerable agencies which are apparently purely
mechanical, and often utterly absurd. Such are an intent gazing at
highly-polished surfaces of metal, or into the bright inside of a gold
cup, at the shining sides of a crystal, or the varying hues of a glass
globe; now vessels filled with pure water, and now ink poured into the
hand of a child, answer the same purpose. Fortune-telling from the lines
of the hand or the chance combinations of playing-cards are, in this
aspect, on a par with the prophecies of astrologers drawn from the
constellations in the heavens. It need hardly be added that this almost
infinite variety of more or less absurd measures has nothing at all to
do with the awaking of magic power, and continues in use only from the
prestige which some of the means, like the cup of Joseph and the mirror
of Varro, derive from their antiquity. Their sole purpose is uniformly
to withdraw the seer's attention from all outward objects, and to make
him, by steadily gazing at one and the same object, concentrate his
thoughts and feelings exclusively upon his own self. Experience has
taught that such efforts, long continued, result finally in utter loss
of feeling, in unconsciousness, and frequently even in catalepsy. It is
generally only under such peculiarly painful circumstances that the
unusual powers of our being can become visible and begin to operate.
While these results may be obtained, as recent experiments have proved,
even by mere continued squinting, barbarous nations employ the most
violent means for the same purpose--the whirling of dervishes, the
drumming and dancing of northern shamans, the deafening music of the
Moors, are all means of the same kind to excite the rude and fierce
nature of savages to a state of excessive excitement. In all cases,
however, we must notice the comparative sterility of such divination,
and the penalty which has to be paid for most meagre results by injuries
inflicted upon the body, and by troubles caused in the mind, which, if
they do not become fatal to life, are invariably so to happiness and
peace. That the sad privilege may have to be paid for with life itself,
we learn already from Plutarch's account of a priestess who became so
furious while prophesying, that not only the strangers but the priests
themselves fled in dismay, while she herself expired a few hours later
(II. p. 438).

The state in which all forms of divination are most apt to show
themselves is by theologians called _ecstasis_, when it is caused by
means specially employed for the purpose and appears as a literally
"being beside one's self"; by its side they speak of _raptus_, when the
abnormal state suddenly begins during an act of ordinary life, such as
walking, working, or even praying. The distinction is of no value as to
the nature of the magic powers themselves, which are in all cases the
same; it refers exclusively to the outer form.

One of the simplest methods is the Deasil-walking of the Scotch
Highlanders: the seer walks rapidly three times, with the sun, around
the person whose future is to be foretold, and thus produces a trance,
in which his magic powers become available. Walter Scott's "Chronicles
of the Canongate" gives a full account of this ceremony. Robin Oig's
aunt performs the ceremony, and then warns him in great terror, that she
has seen a bloody dagger in his hand, stained with English blood, and
beseeches him to stay at home. He disregards the omen, kills the same
night an Englishman, a cattle-dealer, and pays for the crime with his

In the East, on the contrary, the usual form is to employ a young boy,
taken at haphazard from the street, and to force him to gaze intently at
Indian ink poured into the hollow of the hand, at molten lead, wax
poured into cold water, the paten of a priest or a shining sword, with
which several men have been killed. General readers will recall the
famous boy of Cairo, who saw thus, in the dark, glittering surface of
ink, the great Nelson--curiously enough as in a mirror, for he reported
the image to be without the left arm and to wear the left sleeve across
the breast, while the great admiral had lost his right arm and wore the
right sleeve suspended. Burke, in his amusing "Anecdotes of the
Aristocracy," etc. (I. p. 124), relates how the "magician" Magraubin in
Alexandria appeared with a ten-year-old Coptic boy before the officers
of H. M's. ship _Vanguard_. After burning much incense and uttering many
unintelligible formulas he rolled a paper in the shape of a cornucopia,
filled it with ink, and bade the boy tell them what he saw. As usual, he
saw first a broom sweeping, and was thoroughly frightened. When a young
midshipman asked him to inquire what would be his fate, he described
instantly a sailor with gold on the shoulders, fighting against Indians
till he fell dead; then came friends and buried him under a tree on a
hill. The midshipman, Croker, returned home, abandoned the sea, and
became a landowner in one of the midland counties of England, where he
often laughed at the absurd prediction. Long years afterwards, however,
when there was a sudden want of seamen, he was recalled into service and
sent on a long cruise. He rose to become a captain, and while in command
of a frigate fell, upon the island of Tongataboo, in a skirmish with the
natives, whereupon he was interred there under a lofty palm-tree which
stood on a commanding eminence. The same author repeats (I. p. 357) the
well-known story of Lady Eleanor Campbell, which is in substance as

Poor Lady Primrose, a daughter of the second Earl of Loudoun, had for
years endured the saddest lot that can befall a noble woman: she had
been bound by marriage to a husband whose dissolute habits and untamable
passions inspired her with fear, while his short love for her had long
since turned into bitter hatred. At last he formed the resolution to rid
himself forever of his wife, whose very piety and gentleness were a
standing reproof to his villainy. By a rare piece of good luck she was
awake when he came from his deep potations, a bare sword in his hand,
and ready to kill her; she saw him in the mirror before which she
happened to be sitting, and escaped by jumping from a window and
hastening to her husband's own mother. After this attempt at her life
he disappeared, no one knew whither, but the poor lady, forsaken and yet
not a widow, could not prevent her thoughts from dwelling, by day and by
night, year after year, upon the image of her unfortunate husband and
his probable fate in foreign lands. It was, therefore, not without a
pardonable interest that she heard, one winter, people talk of a
foreigner who had suddenly appeared in Canongate and created a great
sensation throughout Edinburgh by his success in showing to inquiring
visitors what their absent friends were doing. Her intense anxiety about
her husband and her natural desire to ascertain whether she was still a
wife or already a widow, combined to tempt her to call on the magician;
she went, therefore, with a friend, both disguised in the tartans and
plaids of their maids. Before they reached the obscure alley to which
they had been directed, they lost their way, and were standing helpless,
exposed to the cold, stormy weather, when suddenly a deep voice said to
them: "You are mistaken, ladies, this is not your way!" "How so?" asked
Lady Primrose, addressing a tall, gentlemanly looking man, with a stern
face of deep olive color, in which a pair of black eyes shone like
stars, and dressed in an elegant but foreign-looking costume. The answer
came promptly: "You are mistaken in your way, because it lies yonder,
and in your disguise, because it does not conceal you from him who can
lift the veil of the Future!" Then followed a short conversation in
which the stranger made himself known as the magician whom they were
about to visit, and, by some words whispered into the lady's ear, as a
man who not only recognized her as Lady Primrose, but who also was
perfectly well acquainted with all the intimate details of her history.
Amazed and not a little frightened, the two ladies accepted his
courteous invitation to follow him, entered the house, and were shown
into a simply furnished room, where the stranger begged them to wait for
him, till all was ready for the ceremony by which alone he could satisfy
their curiosity. After a short pause he reappeared in the traditional
costume of a magician, a long tunic of black velvet which left his
breast, arms, and hands free, and requested Lady Primrose to follow him
into the adjoining room. After some little hesitation she left her
companion and entered the room, which was perfectly plain, offering
nothing to attract the eye save the dark curtains before the windows, an
old-fashioned arm-chair, and a kind of altar of black marble, over which
a large and beautiful mirror was suspended. Before the latter stood a
small oven, in which some unknown substance burnt with a blue light,
which alone feebly lighted up the room. The visitor was requested to sit
down, to invoke help from above, and to abstain from uttering a sound,
if she valued her life and that of the magician. After some simple but
apparently most important ceremonies, the magician threw a pinch of red
powder upon the flame, which instantly changed into bright crimson,
while a few plaintive sounds were heard and red clouds seemed to rise
before the mirror, broken at short intervals by vivid flashes of
lightning. As the mist dispersed the glass exhibited to the lady's
astonished eye the interior of a church, first in vague outlines
undulating as passing clouds seemed to set them in motion, but soon
distinctly and clear in the minutest details. Then a priest appeared
with his acolytes at the altar, and a wedding party was seen standing
before him, among whom Lady Primrose soon recognized her faithless
husband. Before she could recover from her painful surprise she saw a
stranger hastily entering the church, wrapped in his cloak; at the
moment when the priest, who had been performing the usual ceremony, was
about to join the hands of the couple before him, the unknown dropped
his cloak and rushed forward. Lady Primrose saw it was her own brother,
who drew his sword and attacked her husband; suddenly a thrust was made
by the latter which threatened to be fatal, and the poor lady cried out:
"Great God, they will kill my brother!" She had no sooner uttered these
words than the whole scene in the mirror became dim and blurred, the
clouds rose again and formed dense masses, and soon the glass resumed
its ordinary brightness and the flame its faint blue color. The
magician, apparently much excited, informed the lady that all was over,
and that they had escaped a most fearful danger, incurred by her
imprudence in speaking. He would accept no reward, stating that he had
merely wished to oblige her, but would not have dared do so much, if he
had foreseen the peril to which they had both been exposed. Lady
Primrose, accompanied by her friend, reached home in a state of extreme
excitement, but immediately wrote down the hour and the day of her
strange adventure, with a full account of all she had seen in the magic
mirror. The paper thus drawn up she sealed in the presence of her
companion and hid it in a secret drawer. Not long afterwards her brother
returned from the Continent, but for some time refused to speak at all
of her husband; it was only after being long and urgently pressed by the
poor lady, that he consented to tell her, how he had heard of Lord
Primrose's intention to marry a very wealthy lady in Amsterdam, how by
mere chance he had entered the church where the marriage ceremony was to
be performed, and how he had come out just in time to prevent his
brother-in-law from committing bigamy. They had fought for a few minutes
without doing each other any injury, and after being separated, he had
remained, while Lord Primrose had disappeared, no one knew whither. Upon
comparing dates and circumstances, it appeared that the mirror had
presented the scene faithfully in all its details; but the ceremony had
taken place in the morning, the visit to the magician at night, so that
the latter had, after all, only revealed an event already completed.
There remains, however, the difficulty of accounting for the means by
which in those days--about 1700--an event in Amsterdam could possibly
have been known in Edinburgh, the night of the same day on which it

In France, under Louis XIV., a glass of water was most frequently used
as a mirror in which to read the future. The Duke of St. Simon reports
that the Duke of Orleans was thus informed that he would one day become
Regent of France. The Abbé Choisy mentions a remarkable occurrence which
took place at the house of the Countess of Soissons, a niece of the
great Cardinal Mazarin. Her husband was lying sick in the province of
Champagne, and she was anxious to know whether she ought to undertake
the long and perilous journey to him or not; in this dilemma a friend
offered to send for a diviner, who should tell her the issue of her
husband's illness. He brought her a little girl, five years old, who, in
the presence of a number of distinguished persons of both sexes, began,
under the nobleman's direction, to tell what she saw in a glass of
water. When she began by saying that the water looked as if it were
troubled, the poor lady was so frightened that her friend suggested he
would ask the spirit to show the child not her husband himself, but a
white horse, if the Count was dead, and a tiger if he was alive. Then he
asked the girl what she saw now? "Ah!" she cried out at once, "what a
pretty white horse!" The company, however, refused to be content with
one trial; five times in succession the test was altered, and in such a
manner that the little child could not possibly be aware of the choice,
but in each case the answer was unfavorable to the absent Count. It
appeared, afterwards, that he had really died a day or two before the
consultation. One of the most striking cases of such exceptional
endowment was a Frenchman, Cahagnet, who in his work, _Lumière des
Morts_ (Paris, 1851), claimed to see remote objects and persons. He used
to make a mental effort, upon which his eyes became fixed and he saw
objects at a great distance, reading the title and discerning the
precise shape of books in public libraries, or watching absent friends
engaged in unusual occupations! This state of clairvoyance, however,
never lasted more than sixty seconds, nor could he ever see the same
object twice--limitations of his endowment which secured for him greater
credit than he would have otherwise possessed. Occasionally he would
assist the effort he had to make by fixedly gazing at some shining
object, such as a small flaw in a mirror or a glass. Another restraint
under which he labored, and which yet increased the faith of others,
consisted in this, that such sights as presented themselves
spontaneously to him proved invariably to be true, while the visions
which he purposely evoked were not unfrequently unfounded in fact.

Among recent magicians of this class, a Parisian, Edmond, is perhaps the
most generally known. He is a man without education, who leads a life of
asceticism, and is said to equal the famous Lennormand in his ability to
guess the future by gazing intently at certain cards. The latter,
although not free from the charge of charlatanism, possessed
undoubtedly the most extraordinary talent of divining the thoughts of
those who came to consult her, and an almost marvelous tact in
connecting the knowledge thus obtained with the events of the day. She
began her career already as a young girl at a convent-school, where her
playmates asked her laughing who would be the next abbess, and she
mentioned an entirely unknown lady from Picardy as the one that would be
appointed by the king. Contrary to all expectations the favorite
candidates were put aside, and the unknown lady appointed, although
eighteen months elapsed before her prophecy was fulfilled. As early as
1789 she predicted the overthrow of the French government, and during
the Revolution her reputation was such that the first men of the land
came to consult her. The unfortunate princess Lamballe and Mirabeau,
Mme. de Staël and the king himself, all appeared in her stately
apartments. Her efforts to save the queen, to whose prison she managed
to obtain access, were unsuccessful; but when her aristocratic
connections caused her to be imprisoned herself, even the noble and
virtuous Mme. Tallien sought her society. The new dynasty, whose members
were almost without exception more or less superstitious, as it is the
nature of all Corsicans, consulted her frequently; the great Napoleon
came to her in 1793, when he was disgusted with France, and on the point
of leaving the country; he sent for her a second time in 1801 to confer
with her at Malmaison, and the fair Josephine actually conceived for
her a deep and lasting attachment. Afterwards, however, she became as
obnoxious to the Emperor as his inveterate enemy, Mme. de Staël; she was
repeatedly sent to prison because she predicted failures, as in the case
of the projected invasion of England, or because she revealed the secret
plans of Napoleon. The Emperor Alexander of Russia also consulted her in
1818, and of the Prussian king, Frederick William III., it is at least
reported that he visited her incognito. After the year 1830 she appeared
but rarely in her character as a diviner; she had become old and rich,
and did not perhaps wish to risk her world-wide reputation by too
numerous revelations. She maintained, however, for the rest of her life
the most intimate relations with many eminent men in France, and when
she died, in 1843, seventy-one years old, leaving to her nephew a very
large fortune, her gorgeous funeral was attended by a host of
distinguished personages, including even men of such character as
Guizot. And yet she also had not disdained to use the most absurd and
apparently childish means in order to produce the state of ecstasy in
which she alone could divine: playing-cards fancifully arranged, the
white of an egg, the sediment of coffee, or the lines in the hand of her
visitors. At the same time, however, she used the information which she
casually picked up or purposely obtained from her great friends with
infinite cunning and matchless tact, so that the better informed often
asked her laughingly if her familiar spirit Ariel was not also known as
Talleyrand, David, or Geoffroy? The charlatanism which often and most
justly rendered her proceedings suspicious to sober men, was in fact
part of her system; she knew perfectly well the old doctrine, _mundus
vult decipi_, and did not hesitate to flatter the fondness of all
Frenchmen for a theatrical _mise en scène_.

Dryden's famous horoscope of his younger son Charles was probably
nothing more than one of those rare but striking coincidences of which
the laws of probability give us the exact value. He loved the study of
astrology and never omitted to calculate the nativity of his children as
soon as they were born. In the case of Charles he discovered that great
dangers would threaten him in his eighth, twenty-third, and thirty-third
or forty-third year; and sure enough those years produced serious
troubles. On his eighth birthday he was buried under a falling wall; on
the twenty-third he fell in Rome from an old tower, and on his
thirty-third he was drowned in the Thames.

Divination by means of bones--generally the shoulder bones of rams--is
quite common among the Mongols and Tongoose, and the custom seems to
have remained unchanged through centuries. For Purchas already quotes
from the "Journal" of the Minorite monk Guillaume de Rubruguis, written
in 1255, a description of the manner in which the Great Khan of Mongolia
tried to ascertain the result of any great enterprise which he might
contemplate. Three shoulder bones of rams were brought to him, which he
held for some time in his hands, while deeply meditating on the subject;
then he threw them into the fire. After they were burnt black they were
again laid before him and examined; if they had cracked lengthways the
omen was favorable, if crossways the enterprise was abandoned. Almost
identically the same process is described by the great traveler Pallas,
who witnessed it repeatedly and obtained very startling communications
from the Mongol priests. But here also violent dancing, narcotic
perfumes, and wild cries had to aid in producing a trance. The
Laplanders have, perhaps, the most striking magic powers which seem to
be above suspicion. At least we are assured by every traveler who has
spent some time among them, from Caspar Peucer ("Commentaries," etc.,
Wittebergae, 1580, p. 132) down to the tourists of our days ("Six Months
in Lapland," 1870), that they not only see persons at the greatest
distance, but furnish minute details as to their occupation or
surroundings. After having invoked the aid of his gods the magician
falls down like a dead man and remains in a state of trance for
twenty-four hours, during which foreigners are always warned to have him
carefully guarded, "lest the demons should carry him off." During this
time the seer maintains that his "soul opens the gates of the body and
moves about freely wherever it chooses to go." When he returns to
consciousness he describes accurately and minutely the persons about
whom he has promised to give information. In the East Indies it is well
known clairvoyance has existed from time immemorial, and the kind of
trance which consists in utter oblivion of actual life and perfect
abstraction of thought from this world is there carried out to
perfection. The faithful believer sits or lies down in any position he
may happen to prefer for the moment, fixes his eyes intently upon the
point of his nose, mutters the word One, and finally beholds God with an
inner sense, in the form of a white brilliant light of ineffable
splendor. Some of these ascetics pass from a simple trance to a state of
catalepsy, in which their bodies become insensible to pain--but this
kind of _ecstasis_ is not accompanied by divination.

Another branch of divination conquers the difficulty which distance in
space opposes to our ordinary perceptions. In all such cases it is of
course not our hearing or smelling which suddenly becomes miraculously
powerful, but another magic power, which causes impressions on the
mind like those produced by the eye and the ear. The oldest
well-authenticated instance of magic hearing is probably that of
Hyrcanus, the high-priest of the Jews, who while burning incense in the
temple, heard a voice saying: "Now Antiochus has been slain by thy
sons." The news was immediately proclaimed to the people, and some time
afterward messengers came announcing that Antiochus had thus perished as
he approached Samaria, which he desired to relieve from the besieging
army under the sons of Hyrcanus (Josephus, "Antiq." lxiii. ch. 19). A
still more striking instance is also reported by a trustworthy author
(Theophylactos Simocata, l. viii. ch. 13). A man in Alexandria, Egypt,
saw, as he returned home about midnight, the statues before the great
temple moved aside from their seats, and heard them call out to him that
the Emperor had been slain by Phocas (602). Thoroughly frightened he
hastened to the authorities, reporting his adventure; he was carried
before Peter, the Viceroy of Egypt, and ordered to keep silence. Nine
days later, however, the official news came that the Emperor had been
murdered. It is evident that the knowledge of the event came to him in
some mysterious way, and for an unknown purpose; but that what he saw
and heard, was purely the work of his imagination, which became the
vehicle of the revelation.

There exists a long, almost unbroken series of similar phenomena through
the entire course of modern history, of which but a few can here find
space. Richelieu tells us in his _Mémoires_ ("Coll. Michaud--Poryoulat,"
2d series, vii. p. 23), that the _Prévost des Maréchaux_ of the city of
Pithiviers was one night engaged in playing cards in his house, when he
suddenly hesitated, fell into a deep musing, and then, turning to his
companions, said solemnly: "The king has just been murdered!" These
words made a deep impression upon all the members of the assembly, which
afterward changed into genuine terror, when it became known that on that
same evening, at the same hour of four o'clock, P. M., Henry IV. had
really been murdered. Nor was this a solitary case, for on the same day
a girl of fourteen, living near the city of Orleans, had asked her
father, Simonne, what a king was? Upon his replying that it was the man
who commanded all Frenchmen, she had exclaimed: "Great God, I have this
moment heard somebody tell me that he was murdered!" It seems that the
minds of men were just then everywhere deeply interested in the fate of
the king, and hence their readiness to anticipate an event which was no
doubt very generally apprehended; even from abroad numerous letters had
been received announcing his death beforehand. In the two cases
mentioned this excitement had risen to divination. The author of the
famous _Zauber Bibliothek_, Horst, mentions (i. p. 285) that his father,
a well-known missionary, was once traveling in company with the renowned
Hebrew scholar Wiedemann, while a third companion, ordinarily engaged
with them in converting Jews, was out at sea. It was a fine, bright day;
no rain or wind visible even at a distance. Wiedemann had walked for
some time in deep silence, apparently engaged in praying, when suddenly
he stopped and said: "Monsieur Horst, take your diary and write down,
that our companion is at this moment exposed to great peril by water.
The storm will last till night and the danger will be fearful; but the
Lord will mercifully preserve him and the vessel, and no lives will be
lost. Write it down carefully, so that when our friend returns, we may
jointly thank God for His great mercy." The missionary did so, and when
the three friends were united once more their diaries were compared,
and it appeared that the statement had been exact in all its details.

Clairvoyance, as far as it implies the seeing of persons or the
witnessing of events at a great distance, is counted among the most
frequent gifts of early saints, and St. Augustine mentions a number of
remarkable cases. Not only absent friends and their fate were thus
beheld by privileged Christians, but even the souls of departing saints
were seen as they were borne to heaven by angelic hosts. The same
exceptional gifts were apparently granted to the early Jesuit fathers;
thus Xavier once saw distinctly a whole naval expedition sailing against
the pirates of Malacca and defeating them in a great naval battle. He
had himself caused the fleet to be sent from Sumatra, and remained
during the whole time in a trance. He had fallen down unconscious at the
foot of the altar, where he had been fervently praying for a long time,
and during his unconsciousness he saw not only a general image of what
was occurring at a distance of 200 Portuguese leagues, but every detail,
so that upon recovering from the trance he could announce to his
brethren the good news of a great victory, of the loss of only three
lives, and of the very day and hour on which the official report would
be received (Orlandini, l. vii. ch. 84). Queen Margaret, not always
reliable, still seems to state well-known facts only, when she tells us
in her famous _Mémoires_ (Paris, 1658) the visions of her mother, the
great Queen Catherine de Medici. The latter was lying dangerously ill
at Metz, and King Charles, a sister, and another brother of Margaret of
Valois, the Duke of Lorraine, and a number of eminent persons of both
sexes, were assembled around what was believed to be her death-bed. She
was delirious, and suddenly cried out: "Just see how they run! my son is
victorious. Great God! raise him up, he has fallen! Do you see the
Prince of Condé there? He is dead." Everybody thought she was delirious,
but on the next evening a messenger came bringing the news of the battle
of Jarnac, and as he mentioned the main events, she calmly turned to her
children, saying: "Ah! I knew; I saw it all yesterday!" It seems as if
in times of great and general expectation, when bloody battles are
fought, and the destiny of empires hangs in the scales, the minds of the
masses become so painfully excited that the most sensitive among them
fall into a kind of trance, and then perceive, by magic powers of
divination, what is taking place at great distances. This
over-excitement is, moreover, not unknown to men of the highest
character and the greatest erudition. Calvin, whose stern, clear-sighted
judgment abhorred all superstition, nevertheless once saw a battle
between Catholics and Protestants with all its details. Swedenborg,
whose religious enthusiasm never interfered with his scrupulous candor,
saw more than once with his mind's eye events occurring at a distance of
hundreds of miles. His vision of the great fire at Stockholm is too well
authenticated to admit of doubt. Not less reliable are the accounts of
another vision he had at Amsterdam in the presence of a large company.
While engaged in animated conversation, he suddenly changed countenance
and became silent; the persons near him saw that he was under the
influence of some strong impression. After a few moments he seemed to
recover, and overwhelmed with questions, he at last reluctantly said:
"In this hour the Emperor Peter IV. of Russia has suffered death in his
prison!" It was ascertained afterwards that the unfortunate sovereign
had died on that day and in the manner indicated.

Among modern seers the most remarkable was probably the well-known poet,
Émile Deschamps, who published in 1838 interesting accounts of his own
experiences. When he was only eight years old it was decided that he
should leave Paris and be sent to Orleans; this troubled him sorely, and
in his great grief he found some little comfort in setting his lively
fancy to work and to imagine what the new city would be like. When he
reached Orleans he was extremely surprised to recognize the streets, the
shops, and even the names on the sign-boards, everything was exactly as
he had seen it in his day-dreams. While he was yet there he saw his
mother, whom he had left in Paris, in a dream rising gently heavenwards
with a palm-branch in her hand, and heard her voice, very faint but
silvery, call to him, "Émile, Émile, my son!" She had died in the same
night, uttering these words with her departing breath. Later in life he
often heard strange but enchanting music while in a state of partial
ecstasis; he saw distant events, and, among others, distinctly described
a barricade, the defenders of the adjoining house, and certain events
connected with the fight at that spot, as they had happened in Paris on
the same day (_Le Concile de la libre pensée_, i. p. 183).

A still higher power of divination enables men to read in the faces and
forms of others, even of totally unknown persons, not only the leading
traits of their character, but even the nature of their former lives.
There can be no doubt that every important event in our life leaves a
more or less perceptible trace behind, which the acute and experienced
observer may learn to read with tolerable distinctness and accuracy. It
is well known how the study of the human face enables us thus to discern
one secret after another, and how really great men have possessed the
power to judge of the capacity of generals or statesmen to serve them,
by natural instinct and without any effort. We say of specially endowed
men of this class, that they "can read the souls of men," and what is
most interesting is the well-established fact that the purer the mind
and the freer from selfishness and conceit, the greater this power to
feel, as it were, the character of others. Hence the superiority of
women in this respect; hence, especially, the unfailing instinct of
children, which enables them instantly to distinguish affected love from
real love, and makes them shrink often painfully from contact with evil

When this power reaches in older men a high degree of perfection, it
enters within the limits of magic, and in this form was well known to
the ancients. The Neo-Platonic Plotinus is reported by Porphyrius to
have been almost marvelously endowed with such divining powers; he
revealed to his pupils the past and the future events of their lives
alike, and once charged the author himself with cherishing thoughts of
suicide, when no one else suspected such a purpose. In like manner, we
are told, Ancus Nævius, the famous augur of the first Tarquins, could
read all he desired to know in the faces of others. The saints of the
church were naturally as richly endowed, and from Filipo Neri to Xavier
nearly all possessed this peculiar gift of divination. But other men,
also, and by no means always those most abundantly endowed with mental
superiority, have frequently a peculiar talent of this kind. Thus the
well-known writer Zschokke, the author of the admirable work, "Hours of
Devotion," gives in his autobiographical work, _Selbstschau_, a full
account of his peculiar gifts as a seer, which contains the following
principal facts: At the moment when an utter stranger was first
introduced to him, he saw a picture of his whole previous life rising
gradually before his mind's eye, resembling somewhat a long dream, but
clear and closely connected. During this time he would, contrary to his
general custom, lose sight of the visitor's face and no longer hear his
voice. He used to treat these involuntary revelations at first as mere
idle fancies, till one day he was led by a kind of sportive impulse to
tell his family the secret history of a seamstress who had just left the
room, and whom he had never seen before. It was soon ascertained that
all he had stated was perfectly true, though known only to very few
persons. From that time he treated these visions more seriously, taking
pains to repeat them in a number of cases to the persons whom they
concerned, and to his own great amazement they turned out in every case
to be perfectly accurate. The author adds one case of peculiarly
striking nature: "One day," he says, "I reached the town of Waldshut,
accompanied by two young foresters, who are still alive. It was dusk,
and tired by our walk we entered an inn called The Grapevine. We took
our supper at the public table in company with numerous guests, who
happened to be laughing at the oddities and the simplicity of the Swiss,
their faith in Mesmer, in Lavater's 'System of the Physiognomy,' etc.
One of my companions, hurt in his national pride, asked me to make a
reply, especially with regard to a young man sitting opposite to us,
whose pretentious airs and merciless laughter had been peculiarly
offensive. It so happened that, a few moments before, the main events in
the life of this person had passed before my mind's eye. I turned to him
and asked him if he would answer me candidly upon being told the most
secret parts of his life by a man who was so complete a stranger to him
as I was? That, I added, would certainly go even beyond Lavater's power
to read faces. He promised to confess it openly, if I stated facts.
Thereupon I related all I had seen in my mind, and informed thus the
whole company at table of the young man's history, the events of his
life at school, his petty sins, and at last a robbery which he had
committed by pilfering his employer's strong-box. I described the empty
room with its whitewashed walls and brown door, near which on the right
hand, a small black money-box had been standing on a table, and other
details. As long as I spoke there reigned a deathlike silence in the
room, which was only interrupted by my asking the young man, from time
to time, if all I said was not true. He admitted everything, although
evidently in a state of utter consternation, and at last, deeply touched
by his candor, I offered him my hand across the table and closed my

This popular writer, a man of unblemished character, who died in 1850,
regretted by a whole nation, makes this account of his own prophetic
power still more interesting by adding that he met at least once in his
life another man similarly endowed. "I once encountered," he says,
"while travelling with two of my sons, an old Tyrolese, a peddler of
oranges and lemons, in a small inn half concealed in one of the narrow
passes of the Jura Mountains. He fixed his eyes for some time upon my
face, and then entered into conversation with me, stating that he knew
me, although I did not know him, and then began, to the intense delight
of the peasants who sat around us and of my children, to chat about
myself and my past life. How the old man had acquired his strange
knowledge he could not explain to himself or to others, but he evidently
valued it highly, while my sons were not a little astonished to discover
that other men possessed the same gift which they had only known to
exist in their father."

It must not be forgotten that the human eye has, beyond question, often
a power which far transcends the ordinary purposes of sight, and
approaches the boundaries of magic. There is probably no one who cannot
recall scenes in which the soothing and cheering expression of gentle
eyes has acted like healing balm on wounded hearts; or others, in which
glances of fury and hatred have caused genuine terror and frightened the
conscience. History records a number of instances, from the glance of
the Saviour, which made Peter go out and weep bitterly, to the piercing
eye of a well-known English judge, which made criminals of every rank in
society feel as if their very hearts lay open to the divining eye of a
master. This peculiar and almost irresistible power of the eye has not
inaptly been traced back to the gorgon head of antiquity--a frightful
image from Hades with a dread glance of the eye, as it is called by
Homer (Il. viii. 349; Odyss. xi. 633). The same fearful expression,
chilling the blood and almost arresting the beating of the heart, is
frequently mentioned in modern accounts of visions. Thus the Demon of
Tedworth recorded by Glanvil ("Sadd. Triumph." 4th ed. p. 270),
consisted of the vague outlines of a human face, in which only two
bright, piercing eyes could be distinguished. In other cases, a faint
vapor, barely recalling a human shape, arises before the beholder, and
above it are seen the same terrible eyes

    "Sent from the palace of Ais by fearful Persephoneia."

Magic divination in point of time includes the class of generally very
vague and indefinite perceptions, which we call presentiments. These
are, unfortunately, so universally mixed up with impressions produced
after the occurrence--_vaticinium post eventum_--that their value as
interesting phenomena of magic is seriously impaired. There remains,
however, in a number of cases, enough that is free from all spurious
admixture, to admit of being examined seriously. The ancients not only
believed in this kind of foresight, but ascribed it with Pythagoras to
revelations made by friendly spirits; in Holy Writ it rises almost
invariably, under direct inspiration from on high, to genuine prophecy.
It reveals not only the fate of the seer, but also that of others, and
even of whole nations; the details vary, of course, according to the
prevailing spirit of the times.

When Narses was ruling over Italy, a young shepherd in the service of
Valerianus, a lawyer, was seized by the plague and fell into syncope. He
recovered for a time, and then declared that he had been carried to
heaven, where he had heard the names of all who in his master's house
should die of the plague, adding that Valerianus himself would escape.
After his death everything occurred as he had predicted. An English
minister, Mr. Dodd, one night felt an irresistible impulse to visit a
friend of his who lived at some distance. He walked to his house, found
the family asleep, but the father still awake and ready to open the door
to his late visitor. The latter, very much embarrassed, thought it best
to state the matter candidly, and confessed that he came for no
ostensible purpose, and really did not know himself what made him do so.
"But God knew it," was the answer, "for here is the rope with which I
was just about to hang myself." It may well be presumed that the Rev.
Mr. Dodd had some apprehensions of the state of mind of his friend; but
that he should have felt prompted to call upon him just at that hour,
was certainly not a mere accident.

The family of the great Goethe was singularly endowed with this power of
presentiment. The poet's grandfather predicted both a great
conflagration and the unexpected arrival of the German Emperor, and a
dream informed him beforehand of his election as alderman and then as
mayor of his native city. His mother's sister saw hidden things in her
dreams. His grandmother once entered her daughter's chamber long after
midnight in a state of great and painful excitement; she had heard in
her own room a noise like the rustling of papers, and then deep sighs,
and after a while a cold breath had struck her. Some time after this
event a stranger was announced, and when he appeared before her holding
a crumbled paper in his hand, she had barely strength enough to keep
from fainting. When she recovered, her visitor stated that in the night
of her vision a dear friend of hers, lying on his deathbed, had asked
for paper in order to impart to her an important secret; before he could
write, however, he had been seized by the death-struggle, and after
crumpling up the paper and uttering two deep sighs he had expired. An
indistinct scrawl was all that could be seen; still the stranger had
thought it best to bring the paper. The secret concerned his now
orphaned child, a girl whom Goethe's grandparents thereupon took home
and cared for affectionately (_Goethe's Briefwechsel_, 3d ed., II. p.

Bourrienne tells us in his _Mémoires_ several instances of remarkable
forebodings on the part of Napoleon's first wife, Josephine. Her mind
was probably, by her education and the peculiar surroundings in which
she passed her childhood, predisposed to receive vivid impressions of
this kind, and to observe them with great care and deep interest. Thus
she almost invariably predicted the failure of such of her husband's
enterprises as proved unsuccessful. After Bonaparte had moved into the
Tuileries on the 18th Brumaire, she saw, while sitting in the room of
poor Marie Antoinette, the shadow of the unfortunate queen rise from the
floor, pass gently through the apartment, and vanish through the window.
She fainted, and from that day predicted her own sad fate. On another
occasion the spirit of her first husband, Beauharnais, appeared before
her with a gesture of solemn warning; she immediately turned to
Napoleon, exclaiming: "Awake, awake, you are threatened by a great
danger!" There seemed to be, for some days, no ground for apprehension,
but so strong were her fears that she secretly sent for the minister of
police and entreated him to take special measures for the safety of the
First Consul. At eight o'clock of the evening of the same day the latter
left the Tuileries on his way to the opera; a terrible explosion was
heard in the Rue St. Nicaise, where conspirators attempted to blow up
the dictator, and he narrowly escaped with his life. Josephine at once
hastened to his side, and after having most tenderly cared for the
wounded, embraced Napoleon in public with tears streaming down her face,
and implored him hereafter to listen more attentively to her warnings.
Napoleon, however, though superstitious enough firmly to believe in what
he called his "star," and even to see it shining in the heavens when no
one else beheld it, never would admit the value of his wife's

Presentiments of this kind are most frequently felt before death, and it
is now almost universally believed that the impending dissolution of the
body relieves the spirit in many cases fully enough from its bondage to
endow it with a clear and distinct anticipation of the coming event. A
large number of historical personages have thus been enabled to predict
the day, and many even the hour of their own death. The Connétable de
Bourbon, who was besieging Rome, addressed, according to Brantôme (_Vies
des gr. capitaines_, ch. 28), on the day of the final assault, his
troops, and told them he would certainly fall before the Eternal City,
but without regret if they but proved victorious. Henry IV. of France,
felt his death coming, according to the unanimous evidence of Sully,
L'Etoile, and Bassompierre, and said, before he entered his coach on the
fatal day: "My friend, I would rather not go out to-day; I know I shall
meet with misfortune." On the 16th of May, 1813, four days before the
battle of Bautzen, two of Napoleon's great officers, the Duke of Vicenza
and Marshal Duroc, were in attendance at Dresden while the emperor was
holding a protracted conference with the Austrian ambassador. The clock
was striking midnight, when suddenly Duroc seized his companion by the
arm and with frightfully altered features, looking intently at him, said
in trembling tones: "My friend, this lasts too long; we shall all of us
perish, and he last of all. A secret voice tells me that I shall never
see France again." It is well known that on the day of the battle a
cannon-ball which had already killed General Kirchner, wounded Duroc
also mortally, and when he lay on his deathbed he once more turned to
the Duke of Vicenza and reminded him of the words he had spoken in

The trustworthy author of "Eight Months in Japan," N. Lühdorf, tells us
(p. 158) a remarkable instance of unconscious foreboding on the part of
a common sailor. The American barque _Greta_ was in 1855 chartered to
carry a great number of Russians, who had been shipwrecked on board the
frigate _Diana_ during an earthquake at Simoda to the Russian port of
Ayan. A sailor on board was very ill, and shortly before his death told
his comrades that he would soon die, but that he was rather glad of it,
as they would all be captured by the English, with whom Russia was then
at war. The report of his prediction reached the captain's cabin, but
all the officers agreed that such an event was next to impossible; a
dense fog was making the ship perfectly invisible, and no English fleet
had as yet appeared in the Sea of Okhotsk, where the Russians had
neither vessels nor forts to tempt the British. The whole force of
England in those waters was at that moment engaged in blockading the
Russian fleet in the Bay of Castris in the Gulf of Tartary. Nevertheless
it so chanced that a British steamer, the corvette _Barracouta_, hove in
sight on the 1st of August and captured the vessel, making the Russians
prisoners of war.


A special kind of divination, which has at times been evidenced in
certain parts of Europe, and is not unknown to our North-western
Indians, consists in the perception of contemporaneous or future events,
during a brief trance. Generally the seer looks with painfully raised
eyelids, fixedly into space, evidently utterly unconscious of all around
him, and engaged in watching a distant occurrence. A peculiar feature of
this phenomenon, familiar to all readers as second sight, is the
exclusion of religious or supernatural matters; the visions are always
strictly limited to events of daily life: deaths and births, battles and
skirmishes, baptisms and weddings. The actors in these scenes are often
personally unknown to the seer, and the transactions are as frequently
beheld in symbols as in reality. A man who is to die a violent death,
may be seen with a rope around his neck or headless, with a dagger
plunged into his breast, or sinking into the water up to his neck; the
sick man who is to expire in his bed, will appear wrapped up in his
winding sheet, in which case his person is more or less completely
concealed as his death is nearer or farther off. A friend or a messenger
coming from a great distance, is seen as a faint shadow, and a murderer
or a thief, as a wolf or a fox. Another peculiar feature of second sight
is the fact that the same visions are very frequently beheld by several
persons, although the latter may live far apart and have nothing in
common with each other. The phenomena are sporadic in Germany and
Switzerland, in the Dauphiné and the Cevennes; they occur in larger
numbers and are often hereditary in certain families, in Denmark, the
Scotch Highlands and the Faroe Islands. In Gaelic, the persons thus
gifted are called Taishatrim, seers of shadows, or Phissichin,
possessing knowledge beforehand. Hence, they have been most thoroughly
studied in those countries, and Mr. Martin has gathered all that could
be learnt of second sight in the Shetlands, in a work of great
interest. Here the phenomena are not unfrequently accompanied by magic
hearing also, as when funerals are seen in visions, and at the same time
the chants of the bystanders and even the words of the preacher are
distinctly heard. The most marked form of this feature is the taisk or
wraith, a cry uttered by a person who is soon to die, and heard by the
seer. The dwellers on those remote islands are also in the habit of
smelling an odor of fish, often weeks and months before the latter
appear in their waters. A special kind of divination exists in Wales and
on the Isle of Man, where the approaching death of friends is revealed
by so-called body lights, caulawillan cyrth.

The entirely unselfish character of second sight must not be overlooked,
as far as it increases in a high degree the value of such phenomena and
adds to their authenticity. In the great majority of cases the persons
and events seen under such circumstances are of no interest to the seer;
they are frequently utterly strange and unknown to him, and hence find
no sympathy in his heart. It appears as if, by some unknown and hence
magic process, a window was opened for the soul to look out and behold
whatever may happen to be presented to the inner vision; this image is
then transferred to the outer eye, and the seer's imagination makes him
believe that he sees in reality what is revealed to him by this
mysterious process. Hence also the facts that the persons gifted with
second sight, so far from laboring under diseases of any kind, are
almost without exception simple, frugal men, free from chronic
affections, and perfect strangers to hysterics, spasms, or nervous
sufferings. Insanity and suicide are as unknown to them as drunkenness,
and no case of selfish interest or willful imposture has ever been
recorded in connection with second sight. This does not imply, however,
that efforts have not been made by others to profit by the strange gifts
of such persons; but even the career of the famous Duncan Campbell, a
deaf and dumb Scot, who, in the beginning of the last century, created
an immense sensation in London, only proved anew the well-known
disinterestedness of these seers. In many instances the gift of second
sight is treated with indifference, and hardly noticed. Such was the
case with Lord Nelson, who is reported to have exhibited the gift of a
kind of second sight, at least in two well-authenticated cases, related
by Sir Thomas Hardy to Admiral Dundas, and quoted by Dr. Mayo, as he had
the account from the latter. Captain Hardy heard Nelson order the
commander of a frigate to shake out all sails to sail towards a certain
place where he would in all probability meet the French fleet, and as
soon as he had made it out, to run into a certain port and there to wait
for Nelson's arrival. When the officer had left the cabin, Nelson turned
to Hardy, saying: "He will go to the West Indies; he will see the
French; he will make the port I told him to make, but he will not wait
for me--he will sail for England." The commander actually did so. In
this case, however, Nelson may possibly have only given a striking
evidence of his power to read the character of men, and to draw his
conclusions as to their probable action. In the following instance his
knowledge appeared, on the contrary, as a magic phenomenon. It was
shortly before the battle of Trafalgar, when an English frigate was made
out at such a distance that her position could not be accurately
ascertained. Suddenly Nelson turned to Hardy, who was standing by his
side, and said: "The frigate has sighted the French." Hardy had nothing
to say in reply. "She sights the French; she will fire presently." In an
instant the low sound of a signal-shot was heard afar off!

In other cases the curious gift is borne with great impatience, and
becomes a source of intense suffering. This is certainly very pardonable
in men who read impending death in the features of others, and hence are
continually subject to heart-rending impressions. Sometimes the moribund
appears as if he had been lying in his grave already for several days,
at other times he is seen wrapped up in his shroud or in the act of
expiring. In some parts of Germany the approaching death of a neighbor
is announced by the appearance of Death itself, not in the familiar
mythological form, but as a white, luminous appearance, which either
stops before the house of the person who is to die soon, or actually
enters it and places itself by the side of the latter. Occasionally the
image is seen to fill the seat or to walk in a procession in the place
of a man as yet in perfect health, who nevertheless soon falls a victim
to some disease or sudden attack.

Second sight is, like all similar magic phenomena, frequently mentioned
in the writings of the ancients. Homer mentions a case in his "Odyssey"
(xx. v. 351). Apollonius of Tyana was delivering an oration at Ephesus,
when he suddenly stopped in the middle of a sentence and beheld in a
vision the Emperor Domitian at Rome, in the act of succumbing to his
murderers. He fell into a kind of trance, his eyes became fixed, and he
exclaimed in an unnatural voice: "Down with the tyrant!" (_Vita Apoll.
Zenobis Anolo interprete._ Paris, 1555, l. viii. p. 562.) Henry IV.,
when still Prince of Navarre, saw on the eve of St. Bartholomew several
drops of blood falling upon the green cloth of the card-table at which
he was seated in company with several courtiers; the latter beheld the
fearful and ominous sight as well as he himself. German writings abound
with instances of men having seen their own funeral several days before
their death, and in many instances the warning is reported to have had a
most salutary effect in causing them to repent of their sins and to
prepare for the impending summons. One of the most remarkable instances
is that of a distinguished professor of divinity, Dr. Lysius, in
Königsberg. He had inherited special magic powers through many
generations from an early ancestor, who saw a funeral of very peculiar
nature, with all the attending circumstances, long before it actually
took place. He himself had his first revelation when, lying in bed
awake, he saw suddenly his chamber quite light, and something like a
man's shadow pass him, while on his mind, not on his ear, fell the
words: _Umbra matris tuæ_. Although his mother had just written to him
that she was in unusually good health and spirits, she had died that
very night. On another occasion he astonished his friends by telling
them what a superb new building he had seen erected in Königsberg,
giving all the details of church and school-room to a little gate in a
narrow alley. Many years afterwards such a building was really erected
there, and he himself called to occupy part of it, when that little gate
became his favorite entrance. Although he had many such visions, and his
wife, succumbing to the contagious influence of magic powers, also
foresaw more than one important event, he sternly refused to attach any
weight to his own forebodings or those of other persons. Thus a poor
woman, possessing the gift of second sight, once came to some members of
his family and told them she had seen seven funerals leave his house;
when this was reported to him, he denounced the superstition as
unchristian, and forbade its being mentioned again in his presence. But,
although there was not a sick person in the house at the time, and even
the older members of the family were unusually hale and hearty, in a few
weeks every one in the house was dangerously ill, the head of the family
alone excepted, and as three only escaped, the seven deaths which had
been foreseen actually took place.

The annals of Swedish history (Arndt, _Schwed. Gesch._ p. 317) record a
remarkable case of this kind. The scene was the old castle of Gripsholm,
near Stockholm, a place full of terrible reminiscences, and more than
once made famous by strange mysteries. A great state dinner given to a
prince of Baden, had just ended, when one of the guests, Count Frölich,
suddenly gazed fixedly at the great door of the dining-hall, and when he
regained his composure, declared he had just seen their princely guest
walk in, wearing a different uniform from that in which he was actually
dressed, as he sat in the place of honor. It was, however, a custom of
the prince's to wear one costume one day and another the next day, and
thus to change regularly; Count Frölich had seen him in that which he
would accordingly wear the next day. The impression was beginning to
wear away, and the accident was nearly forgotten, when suddenly a great
disturbance was heard without, servants came running in, women were
heard crying, and even the officers on guard were seriously disturbed.
The report was that "King Eric's ghost" had been seen. On the following
day the Prince of Baden was thrown from his carriage and instantly
killed; his body was brought back to Gripsholm.

Here also we meet again with the exceptional powers granted to Goethe.
He had just parted with one of his many loves, the fair daughter of the
minister of Drusenheim, Friederike, and was riding in deep thought upon
the footpath, when he suddenly saw, "not with the eyes of the body, but
of the spirit," his own self in a new light gray coat, laced with gold,
riding towards him. When he made an effort to shake off the impression,
the vision disappeared. "It is strange, however," he tells us himself,
"that I found myself eight years later riding on that same road, in
order to see Friederike once more, and was then dressed, by accident and
not from choice, in the costume of which I had dreamt" (_Aus Meinem
Leben_, iii. p. 84). A kindred spirit, Sir Humphry Davy, had once a
vision, which strangely enough was fulfilled more than once. In his
attractive work ("Consolations in Travel," p. 63), he relates how he
saw, when suffering of jail fever, the image of a beautiful woman, with
whom he soon entered into a most interesting conversation. He was at the
time warmly attached to a lady, but the vision represented a girl with
brown hair, blue eyes and blooming complexion, while his lady-love was
pale and had dark eyes and dark hair. His mysterious visitor came
frequently, as long as he was really sick, but as his strength returned,
her visits became rarer, and at last ceased altogether. He forgot it
entirely; but ten years later he suddenly met in Illyria, a girl of
about fourteen or fifteen years, who strikingly resembled the image he
had seen, and now recalled in all its details. Another ten years passed,
and the great chemist met once more in traveling, a person who as
strikingly resembled his first vision, and became indebted to her tender
care and kindness for the preservation of his life.

In some parts of the world this gift of second sight assumes very
peculiar forms. In Africa, for instance, and especially in the countries
adjoining the Sahara, men and women are found who possess alike the
power of seeing coming events beforehand. More than once European
travelers have been hospitably received by natives who had been warned
of their coming. Richardson tells us in his graphic account of his
"Mission to Central Africa," that his arrival had thus been announced to
the chief and the people of Tintalus in these words: "A caravan of
Englishmen is on the way from Tripoli, to come to you." The seer was an
old negro-woman, a reputed witch, who had a great reputation for
anticipating events. In the Isle of France--we learn from James Prior in
his "Voyage in the Indian Seas"--there are many men who can see vessels
at a distance of several hundred miles. One of them described accurately
and minutely the wreck of a ship on the coast of Madagascar, from whence
it was to bring provisions. A woman expecting her lover on board another
ship, inquired of one of these seers if he could give her any comfort:
he replied promptly that the vessel was only three days' sail from the
island, and that her friend was then engaged in washing his linen. The
ship arrived at the appointed time, and the man corroborated the seer's
statement. The great navigator relates even more surprising feats
accomplished by the director of signals, Faillafé, who saw vessels
distinctly at a distance of from sixty to one hundred sea miles. Their
image appeared to him on the horizon in the shape of a light brown
cloud with faint outlines, but yet distinctly enough to enable him to
distinguish the size of the vessel, the nature of its rigging, and the
direction in which it was sailing.

Second hearing seems to be limited to the eastern part of Scotland,
where it occurs occasionally in whole families. Mrs. Crowe mentions, for
instance, a man and his wife in Berwickshire, who were both aroused at
night by a loud cry which they at once recognized as peculiar to their
son. It appeared afterwards that he had perished at sea in that night
and at the same hour when the cry was heard (I. p. 161). In another case
a man in Perthshire was waked by his wife, who told him that no doubt
their son had been drowned, for she had distinctly heard the splash as
he fell into the water, and had been aroused by the noise. Here also the
foreboding proved true: the man had fallen from the yardarm, and
disappeared before a boat could be lowered, although his fall had been
heard by all aboard.

It must finally be mentioned that second sight has been noticed not in
men only, but even in animals. Horses especially seem to be extremely
sensitive to all magic influences, and accounts of their peculiar
conduct under trying circumstances are both numerous and perfectly well
authenticated. Thus a minister in Lindholm, the Rev. Mr. Hansen, owned a
perfectly gentle and good-natured horse, which all of a sudden refused
to stand still in his stable, began to tremble and give all signs of
great fear, and finally kicked and reared so wildly that he had to be
removed. As soon as he was placed in another stable he calmed down and
became perfectly quiet. It was at last discovered that a person endowed
with second sight had ascribed the strange behavior of the horse to the
fact that a coffin was being made before his open stable, and that the
horse could not bear the sight. The man was laughed at, but not long
after the minister's wife died, and for some special reasons the coffin
was actually made in full view of the former stable of the horse (Kies.
_Arch._ viii. p. 111). Dogs also have been reported in almost
innumerable cases to have set up a most painful howling before the
approaching death of inmates of a house where they were kept.

In England and in Germany especially, they are considered capable of
seeing supernatural beings. When they are seen to cower down of a
sudden, and to press close to the feet of their masters, trembling often
in all their limbs, and looking up most piteously, as if for help,
popular belief says: "All is not right with the dog," or "He sees more
than men can see." The memory of Balaam's ass rises instinctively in our
mind, and we feel that this part of creation, which groaneth with us for
salvation, and which was included among those for whose sake the Lord
spared Nineveh, may see what is concealed from our eyes. Samuel Wesley
tells us expressly how a dog, specially bought for the purpose of
frightening away the evil-disposed men who were at first suspected of
causing the nightly disturbances at the parsonage, barked but once the
first night, and after that exhibited, upon the recurrence of those
noises, quite as much terror as the children.

Nor are dogs and horses the only animals considered capable of
perceiving by a special instinct of their own the working of
supernatural agencies. During a series of mysterious disturbances in a
German village, the chickens fled in terror from the garden, and the
cattle refused to enter the enclosure, when the appearances were seen.
Swiss herdsmen have a number of stories concerning "feyed" places in the
Alps, to which neither caress nor compulsion can induce their herds to
go, even when pasture is rare everywhere else, and rich grass seems to
tempt them to come to the abhorred meadows. Storks have been known to
have abandoned the rooftree on which for years they had built their
nest, and in every case the forsaken house was burnt during the summer.
This and other peculiarities of sagacious animals have been especially
noticed in Denmark, where all animals are called _synsk_, seers, when
they are believed to possess the gift of second sight.


The highest degree of divination is the actual foretelling of events
which are yet to happen. The immediate causes which awaken the gift are
of the most varied character, and often very curious. Thus a young
Florentine, Gasparo, who had been wounded by an arrow, and could not be
relieved, began in his fearful suffering to pray incessantly, day and
night; this excited him to such a degree that he finally foretold not
only the name of his visitors, but also the hour at which they would
come, and finally the day of his complete recovery; he also knew, by the
same instinct, that later in life he would go to Rome and die there.
When the iron point was at last removed from his wound, his health began
to improve, and at once his prophetic gift left him and never returned.
He went, however, to Rome, and really died in the Eternal City
(Colquhoun, p. 333). The priests of Apollo, at Colophon, intoxicated
themselves with the water of his fountain, which was as famous for
bestowing the gift of prophecy as Æsculapius' well at Pergamus and the
springs near his temple at Pellena. In other temples vapors were inhaled
by the prophetic priests. In the prophet-schools of the Israelites music
seems to have played a prominent part, for Samuel told Saul he would
meet at the hill of Gad "a company of prophets coming down from the high
place with a psaltery and a tabret and a pipe before them." The Jews
possessed, however, also other means to aid in divining: Joseph had his
cup, a custom still prevalent in the East; and the High Priest, before
entering into the Holiest, put on the Thummim with its six dark jewels
and the Urim with its six light-colored jewels, whereupon the brilliant
sparkling of the precious stones and the rich fumes of incense combined
with the awful sense of the presence of Jehovah in predisposing his
mind to receive revelations from on high. The false prophets of Baal, on
the contrary, tried to produce like effects by bloody means: "They cut
themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out upon them,"
and then they prophesied. It has already been mentioned that in India
the glance was fixed upon the navel, until the divine light began to
shine before the mind's eye--in other words, until a trance is induced,
and visions begin to appear. The changes which immediately precede
dissolution seem, finally, to be most favorable to a development of
prophetic powers. Already Aretæus, the Cappadocian, said that the mind
of many dying persons was perfectly clear, penetrating and prophetic,
and mentions a number of cases in which the dying had begun to converse
with the dead, or foretold the fate of those who stood by their bedside.
Thus Homer also makes dying Hector warn Achilles of his approaching end,
and Calanus, when in the act of ascending the funeral pile, replies to
Alexander's question if he had any request to make: "No, I have nothing
to ask, for I shall see you the day after to-morrow!" And on that day
the young conqueror died.

Suetonius reports that the Emperor Augustus was passing away almost
imperceptibly, when he suddenly shuddered and said that forty youths
were carrying him off. It so happened that when the end came, forty men
of his body-guard were ordered to raise and convey the body to another
room in the palace. There are a few cases known in which apparently
dying persons, after delivering such prophecies, have recovered and
retained the exceptional gift during the remainder of their lives, but
these instances are rare and require confirmation.

As all magic phenomena are liable to be mixed up with delusion and
imposture, so divination of this kind also has been frequently imitated
for personal or political purposes. The ancient oracles already gave
frequently answers full of irony and sly humor. The story of King
Alexander of Epirus is well known, who was warned by the oracle at
Dodona to keep away from the Acherusian waters, and then perished in the
river Acheros, in Italy. Thus Henry IV. of England had been told that he
would die at Jerusalem; he thought only of Palestine, but met his death
unconsciously in a room belonging to the Abbey of Westminster, which
bore the name of the holy city. In Spain, Ferdinand the Catholic
received warning that he would die at Madrigal, and hence carefully
avoided the city of that name; but when his last illness overtook him at
an obscure little town, he found that it was called Madrigaola, or
Little Madrigal. The historian Mariana (_Hist. de rebus Hisp._, l. xxii.
chap. 66) also mentions the despair of the famous favorite Don Alvarez
de Luna, whom an astrologer had warned against Cadahalso, a village near
Toledo; the unfortunate man died on the scaffold which is also called
cadahalso. In France it was the fate of the superstitious queen,
Catherine de Medici, to experience a similar mortification: the famous
Nostradamus had predicted that she would die in St. Germain, and she
carefully avoided that palace; but when her last end came, she found
herself sinking helpless into the arms of a courtier called St. Germain.

Nor is there any want of false prophecies from the time when Jeremiah
complained that "a wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the
land; the people prophesy falsely" (Jer. v. 30), to the great money
crisis in 1857, which filled the land with predictions of the
approaching end. Periods of great political or religious excitement
invariably produce a few genuine and a host of spurious prophets, which
represent the sad forebodings filling the mind of a distressed nation
and avail themselves of the credulity of all great sufferers. Some of
the most absurd prophecies have nevertheless caused a perfect panic,
extending in some cases throughout whole countries. Thus in 1578 a
famous astrologer, the father of all weather prophecies in our almanacs,
predicted that in the month of February, 1524, when three planets should
enter at once the constellation of the fishes, a second deluge would
destroy the earth. The report reached the Emperor Charles V., who
submitted the matter to his Spanish theologians and astrologers. They
investigated it with solemn gravity and found it very formidable; from
Spain the panic spread through the whole of Europe. When February came
thousands left their houses and sought refuge on mountain and hill-top;
others hoped to escape on board ships, and a rich president at Toulouse
actually built himself a second ark. When the deluge did not take place,
divines and diviners were by no means abashed; they declared that God
had this time also taken pity upon sinful men in consideration of the
fervent prayer of the faithful, as he had done before in the case of
Nineveh. The fear of the last judgment has at all times so filled the
minds of men as to make them readily believe a prediction of the
approaching end of the world, an event which, it is well known, the
apostles, Martin Luther, and certain modern divines, have persistently
thought immediately impending. Sects have arisen at various epochs who
have looked forward to the second Advent with a sincerity of conviction
of which they gave striking and even most fearful evidence. The
Millerites of the Union have more than once predicted the coming of
Christ, and in anticipation of the near Advent, disposed of their
property, assumed the white robes in which they were to ascend to
heaven, and even mounted into the topmost branches of trees to shorten
the journey. In Switzerland a young woman of Berne became so excited by
the coming of judgment, which she fixed upon the next Easter day, that
she prophesied daily, gathered a number of followers around her, and
actually had her own grandfather strangled in order to save his soul
before the approaching Advent. (Stilling, "Jenseits," p. 117.)

Not unfrequently prophecies are apparently delivered by intermediate
agents, angels, demons or peculiarly marked persons. It was no doubt an
effect of the deep and continued excitement felt by Caius Cassius, that
his mind was filled with the image of murdered Cæsar, and hence he could
very easily fancy he saw his victim in his purple cloak, horse and rider
of gigantic proportions, suddenly appear in the din of the battle at
Philippi, riding down upon him with wild passion. It is well known that
the impression was strong enough to make him, who had never yet turned
his back upon the enemy, seek safety in flight, and cry out: "What more
do you want if murder does not finish you?" (Valer. Max. I. 8.)

It must lastly be borne in mind, that prophecies have not remained as
sterile as other magical phenomena. Already Herder mentions the
advantages of ancient oracles. He says (_Ideen zur Phil. d. Geschichte_,
iii. p. 211): "Many a tyrant and criminal was publicly marked by the
divine voice (of oracles), when it foretold their fate; in like manner
it has saved many an innocent person, given good advice to the helpless,
lent divine authority to noble institutions, made known works of art,
and sanctioned great moral truths as well as wholesome maxims of state
policy." It need hardly be added that the prophets of Israel were the
main upholders of the religious life as well as of the morality of the
chosen people; while the priests remained stationary in their views, and
contented themselves with performing the ceremonial service of the
temple, the prophets preserved the true faith, and furthered its
gradually widening revelation. In their case, however, divination was so
clearly the result of divine inspiration, that their prophecies can
hardly be classed among magic phenomena. The ground which they have in
common with merely human forebodings and divinings, is the state of
trance in which alone prophets seem to have foretold the future, whether
we believe this ecstatic condition to have been caused by music,
long-protracted prayer or the direct agency of the Holy Spirit.

This ecstasy was in the case of almost all the oracles of antiquity
brought on by inhaling certain gases which rose from the soil and
produced often most fearful symptoms in the unfortunate persons employed
for the purpose. At the same time they were rarely free from an addition
of artifice, as the priests not only filled the mind of the pythoness
beforehand with thoughts suggested by their own wisdom and political
experience, but the latter also frequently employed her skill as a
ventriloquist, in order to increase the force of her revelations. Hence
the fact, that almost all the Greek oracles proceeded from deep caves,
in which, as at Dodona and Delphi, carbonic gas was developed in
abundance; hence, also, the name of _ventriloqua vates_, which was
commonly given to the Delphi Pythia. The oldest of these oracles, that
at Dodona, foretold events for nearly two thousand years, and even
survived the almost universal destruction of such institutions at the
time of Christ; it did not actually cease till the third century, when
an Illyrian robber cut down the sacred tree. The oracle of Zeus
Trophonius in Boeotia spoke through the patients who were brought to the
caves, where they became somnambulists, had visions and answered the
questions of the priests while they were in this condition. The Romans
also had their somnambulist prophets from the earliest days, and
whenever the state was in danger, the Sibylline books were consulted.
Christianity made an end to all such divination in Italy as in Greece.
It is strange that the vast scheme of Egyptian superstition shows us no
oracles whatever; but among the Germans prophets were all the more
numerous. They foretold war or peace, success or failure, and exercised
a powerful influence on all affairs. One of the older prophetesses,
Veleda, who lived in an isolated tower, and allowed herself to be but
rarely consulted, was held in high esteem even by the Romans. The Celts
had in like manner prophet-Druids, some of whom became well known to the
Romans, and are reported to have foretold the fate of the emperors
Aurelian, Diocletian and Severus.

We have the authority of Josephus for the continuance of prophetic power
in Israel even after the coming of Christ. He tells us of Jesus, the son
of Ananus, who ran for seven years and five months through the streets
of Jerusalem, proclaiming the coming ruin, and, while crying out "Woe is
me!" was struck and instantly killed by a stone from one of the siege
engines of the Romans. (Jos., l. vi. c. 31.) Josephus himself passes
for a prophet, having predicted the fall of the city of Jotapata
forty-seven days in advance, his own captivity, and the imperial dignity
of Vespasian as well as of Titus. Of northern prophets, Merlin is
probably the most widely known; he was a Celtic bard, called Myrdhin,
and his poems, written in the seventh century, were looked upon as
accurate descriptions of many subsequent events, such as the exploits of
Joan of Arc. In the sixteenth century Nostradamus took his place, whose
prophetic verses, _Vraies Centuries et Prophéties_, are to this day
current among the people, and now and then reappear in leading journals.
He had been a professor of medicine in the University of Montpellier,
and died in 1566, enjoying a world-wide reputation as an astrologer. His
brief and often enigmatical verses have never lost their hold on
credulous minds, and a few striking instances have, even in our century,
largely revived his credit. Such was, for instance, the stanza (No. 10):

    _Un empereur naître près d'Italie,
     Qui à l'empire sera vendu très cher;
     Dirònt avec quels gens il se ralliè,
     Qu'on trouvera moins prince que boucher,_

which was naturally applied to the great Napoleon and his marshals.

Another northern prophet, whose predictions are still quoted, was the
Archbishop of Armagh, Malachias, who, in 1130, foretold the fate of all
coming popes; as in almost all similar cases, here also the accidental
coincidences have been carefully noted and pompously proclaimed, while
the many unfulfilled prophecies have been as studiously concealed. It is
curious, however, that he distinctly predicted the fate of Pius VI.,
whom he spoke of as "_Vir apostolicus moriens in exilo_" (he died, 1799,
an exile, in Valence), and that he characterized Pius IX. as "Crux de
Cruce." St. Bridget of Sweden had the satisfaction of seeing her
prophecies approved of by the Council of Basle; they were translated
subsequently into almost every living language, and are still held in
high esteem by thousands in every part of Europe. The most prominent
name among English prophets is probably that of Archbishop Usher, who
predicted Cromwell's fate, and many events in England and Ireland, the
result, no doubt, of great sagacity and a remarkable power of
combination, but exceeding in many instances the ordinary measure of
human wisdom. An entirely different prophet was Rice Evans (Jortin,
"Rem. on Eccles. Hist.," p. 377), who, fixing his eye upon the hollow of
his hand, saw there images of Lord Fairfax, Cromwell, and four other
crowned heads appearing one after another; thus, it is said, he
predicted the Protectorate and the reign of the four sovereigns of the
house of Stuart. Jane Leade, a most extraordinary and mysterious person,
founded in 1697, when she had reached the age of seventy-four, her
so-called Philadelphian Society, a prominent member of which was the
famous Pordage, formerly a minister and then a physician. This very vain
woman maintained that she was inspired in the same manner as St. John
in Patmos, and that she was compelled by the power of the Holy Spirit to
foretell the future. In spite of her erroneous announcement of the near
Millennium, she foretold many minor events with great accuracy, and was
highly esteemed as a prophet. Dr. Pordage had mainly visions of the
future world, which were all characterized by a great purity of heart
and wildness of imagination. Swedenborg also had many prophetic visions,
but their fulfillment belongs exclusively to future life, and their
genuineness, firmly believed by the numerous and enlightened members of
the New Church, cannot be proved to others in this world.

One of the most remarkable cases of modern prophesying which has been
officially recorded, is connected with the death of Pope Ganganelli. The
latter heard that a number of persons in various parts of Italy had
predicted that he would soon end his life by a violent death. He
attached sufficient importance to these reports to hand the matter over
to a special commission previously appointed to examine grave charges
which had been brought against the Jesuits, perhaps suspecting that the
Order of Jesus was not unconnected with those predictions. Among the
persons who were thereupon arrested was a simple, ignorant peasant-girl,
Beatrice Rensi, who told the gendarme very calmly: "Ganganelli has me
arrested, Braschi will set me free," implying that the latter would be
the next pope. The priest at Valentano, who was arrested on the same
day (12th of May, 1774), exclaimed quite joyously: "What happens to me
now has been predicted three times already; take these papers and see
what my daughter (the Rensi) has foretold." Upon examination it appears
that the girl had fixed the pope's day upon the day of equinoxes, in the
month of September; she announced that he would proclaim a year of
absolution, but not live to see it; that none of the faithful would kiss
his foot, nor would they take him, as usual, to the Church of St. Peter.
At the same time she spoke of a fierce inward struggle through which the
Holy Father would have to pass before his death. Soon after these
predictions were made officially known to the pope, the bull against the
order of Jesuits was laid before him; the immense importance of such a
decree, and the evident dangers with which it was fraught, caused him
great concern, and when he one night rose from his bed to affix his
signature, and, frightened by some considerations, threw away the pen
only to take it up at last and sign the paper, he suddenly recalled the
prophecy of the peasant-girl. He drove at once to a great prelate in
Rome, who had formerly been the girl's confessor, and inquired of him
about her character; the priest testified to her purity, her unimpeached
honesty, and her simplicity, adding that in his opinion she was
evidently favored by heaven with special and very extraordinary powers.
Ganganelli was made furious by this suggestion, and insisted upon it
that his commission should declare all these predictions wicked lies,
the inspirations of the Devil, and condemn the sixty-two persons who had
been arrested to pay the extreme penalty in the Castle of St. Angelo on
the 1st of October. In the meantime, however, his health began to
suffer, and his mind was more and more deeply affected. Beatrice Rensi
had been imprisoned in a convent at Montefiascone; on the 22d of
September she told the prioress that prayers might be held for the soul
of the Holy Father; the latter informed the bishop of the place, and
soon the whole town was in an uproar. Late in the afternoon couriers
brought the news that Ganganelli had suddenly died at eight o'clock in
the morning; the body began to putrefy so promptly that the usual
ceremonies of kissing the pope's feet and the transfer to St. Peter's
became impossible! The most curious effects of the girl's predictions
appeared however, when the Conclave was held to elect a successor. Many
Cardinals were extremely anxious that Braschi should not be elected,
lest this should be interpreted as a confirmation of the prediction, and
hence as the work of the Evil One; others again looked upon the girl's
words as an indication from on high; they carried the day. Braschi was
really chosen, and ascended the throne as Pius VI. The commission,
however, continued the work of investigation, and finally acquitted the
Jesuits of the charge of collusion; Beatrice Rensi's predictions were
declared to be supernatural, but suggested by the Father of Lies, the
accused were all set free. The Bishop of Montefiascone, Maury, reported
officially in 1804 that the girl had received a pension from Rome until
the French invasion, then she left the convent in which she had
peacefully and quietly lived so long, and was not heard of again.

The famous predictions of Jacques Cazotte, a man of high literary renown
and the greatest respectability, were witnessed by persons of
unimpeachable character and have been repeatedly mentioned as authentic
by eminent writers. Laharpe--not the tutor of the Russian Emperor
Alexander--reports them fully in his _OEuvres choisies_, etc. (i. p.
62); so do Boulard, in his _Encycl. des gens du Monde_, and William
Burt, who was present when they were made, in his "Observations on the
Curiosities of Nature." It is well known that Cazotte had joined the
sect of Martinists, and among these enthusiasts increased his natural
sensitiveness and his religious fervor. With a mind thus predisposed to
receive strong impressions from outside, and filled with fearful
apprehensions of the future, it was no wonder that he should fall
suddenly into a trance and thus be enabled by extraordinary magical
influences to predict the horrors of the Revolution, the sad fate of the
king and the queen, and his own tragic end.

The report of his predictions as made by Jean de Laharpe, who only died
in 1823, and with his well-established character and high social
standing vouched for the genuineness of his experience, is substantially
as follows: He had been invited, in 1788, to meet at the palace of the
Duchess de Gramont some of the most remarkable personages of the day,
and found himself seated by the side of Malesherbes. He noticed at a
corner of the table Cazotte, apparently in a deep fit of musing, from
which he was only roused by the frequent toasts, in which he was forced
to join. When at last the guests seemed to be overflowing with fervent
praises of modern philosophy and its brilliant victory over old
religious superstitions, Cazotte suddenly rose and in a solemn tone of
voice and with features agitated with deep emotion said to them:
"Gentlemen, you may rejoice, for you will all see that great and
imposing revolution, which you so much desire. You, M. Condorcet, will
expire lying on the floor of a subterranean prison. You, M. N., will die
of poison; you, M. N., will perish by the executioner's hand on the
scaffold." They cried out: "Who on earth has made you think of prisons,
poison, and the executioner? What have these things to do with
philosophy and the reign of reason, which we anticipate and on which you
but just now congratulated us?" "That is exactly what I say," replied
Cazotte, "in the name of philosophy, of reason, of humanity, and of
freedom, all these things will be done, which I have foretold, and they
will happen precisely when reason alone will reign and have its
temples." "Certainly," replied Chamfort, "you will not be one of the
priests." "Not I," answered the latter, "but you, M. de Chamfort, will
be one of them and deserve to be one; you will cut your veins in
twenty-two places with your razor, and yet die only several months
after that desperate operation. You, M. Vicque d'Azyr, will not open
your veins, because the gout in your hands will prevent it, but you will
get another person to open them six times for you the same day, and you
will die in the night succeeding. You, M. Nicolai, will die on the
scaffold, and you, M. Bailly, and you, M. Malesherbes." "God be
thanked," exclaimed M. Richer, "it seems M. Cazotte only deals with
members of the Academy." But Cazotte replied instantly: "You also, M.
Richer, will die on the scaffold, and they who sentence you, and others
like you, will be nevertheless philosophers." "And when is all this
going to happen?" asked several guests. "Within at most six years from
to-day," was the reply. Laharpe now asked: "And about me you say
nothing, Cazotte?" The latter replied: "In you, sir, a great miracle
will be done; you will be converted and become a good Christian." These
words relieved the company, and all broke out into merry laughter. Now
the Duchess of Gramont also took courage, and said: "We women are
fortunately better off than men, revolutions do not mind us." "Your sex,
ladies," answered Cazotte, "will not protect you this time, and however
careful you may be not to be mixed up with politics, you will be treated
exactly like the men. You also, Duchess, with many ladies before and
after you, will have to mount the scaffold, and more than that, they
will carry you there on the hangman's cart, with your hands bound behind
your back." The duchess, perhaps looking upon the whole as a jest,
said, smiling: "Well, I think I shall at least have a coach lined with
black." "No, no," replied Cazotte, "the hangman's cart will be your last
carriage, and even greater ladies than you will have to ride in it."
"Surely not princesses of the royal blood?" asked the duchess. "Still
greater ones," answered Cazotte. "But they will not deny us a
confessor?" she continued. "Yes," replied the other, "only the greatest
of all who will be executed will have one." "But what will become of
you, M. Cazotte?" asked the guests, who began at last to feel thoroughly
uncomfortable. "My fate," was the reply, "will be the fate of the man
who called out, Woe! over Jerusalem, before the last siege, and Woe!
over himself, while a stone, thrown by the enemy, ended his life." With
these words Cazotte bowed and withdrew from the room. However much of
the details may have been subsequently added to the prediction, the fact
of such a prophecy has never yet been impugned, and William Burt, who
was a witness of the scene, emphatically endorses the account.

Even the stern Calvinists have had their religious prophets, among whom
Du Serre is probably the most interesting. He established himself in
1686 in the Dauphiné, but extended his operations soon into the
Cevennes, and thus prepared the great uprising of Protestants there in
1688, which led to fearful war and general devastation. Special gifts of
prophecy were accorded to a few generally uneducated persons; but in
these they appeared very strikingly, so that, for instance, many young
girls belonging to the lowest classes of society, and entirely
unlettered, were not only able to foretell coming events, but also to
preach with great eloquence and to interpret Holy Writ. These phenomena
became numerous enough to induce the _camisards_, as the rebellious
Protestants of the Cevennes were called, finally to form a regular
system of inspiration. They spoke of four degrees of ecstasis: the first
indication, the inspiring breath, the prediction, and the gifts; the
last was the highest. The spirit of prophecy could be communicated by an
inspired person to others; this was generally done by a kiss. Even
children of three and four years were enabled to foretell the future,
and persevered, although they were often severely punished by their
parents, whom the authorities held responsible for their misconduct, as
it was called. (_Theâtre Sacré des Cevennes_, p. 66.)

Nor has this gift of prophesying been noticed only in men of our own
faith and our race.

An author whose trustworthiness cannot be doubted for a moment, Jones
Forbes, gives in his "Oriental Memoirs" (London, 1803), an instance of
the prophesying power of East Indian magicians, which is as well
authenticated as remarkable. A Mr. Hodges had accidentally made the
acquaintance of a young Brahmin, who, although unknown to the English
residents, was famous among the natives for his great gifts. They became
fast friends, and the Indian never ceased to urge Hodges to remain
strictly in the path of duty, as by so doing he was sure to reach the
highest honors. In order to enforce his advice he predicted that he
would rise from the post he then occupied as Resident in Bombay to
higher places, till he would finally be appointed governor. The
prediction was often discussed among Hodges' friends, and when fortune
favored him and he really obtained unusually rapid preferment, he began
to rely more than ever on the Indian's prediction. But suddenly a severe
blow shattered all his hopes. A rival of his, Spencer, was appointed
governor, and Hodges, very indignant at what he considered an act of
unbearable injustice, wrote a sharp and disrespectful letter to the
Governor and Council of the Company. The result was his dismissal from
the service and the order to return to Europe. Before embarking he sent
once more for his friend, who was then living at one of the sacred
places, and when he came informed him of the sad turn in his affairs and
reproached him with his false predictions. The Indian, however, was in
no way disconcerted, but assured Hodges that although his adversary had
put his foot on the threshold, he would never enter the palace, but that
he, Hodges, would, in spite of appearances, most surely reach the high
post which he had promised him years ago. These assurances produced no
great effect, and Hodges was on the point of going on board the ship
that was to carry him to Europe, when another vessel sailed into the
harbor, having accomplished the voyage out in a most unusually short
time, and brought new orders from England. The Court of Directors had
disapproved of Spencer's conduct as Governor of Bengal, revoked his
appointment, dismissed him from service, and ordered Hodges to be
installed as Governor of Bombay! From that day the Brahmin obtained
daily more influence over the mind of his English friend, and the latter
undertook nothing without having first consulted the strangely gifted
native. It became, however, soon a matter of general remark, that the
Brahmin could never be persuaded to refer in his predictions to the time
beyond the year 1771, as he had never promised Hodges another post of
honor than that which he now occupied. The explanation of his silence
came but too soon, for in the night of the 22d of February, 1772, Hodges
died suddenly, and thus ended his brilliant career, verifying his
friend's prophecy in every detail.


The relations in which some men stand to Nature are sometimes so close
as to enable them to make discoveries which are impossible to others.
This is, for instance, the case with persons who feel the presence of
waters or of metals. The former have, from time immemorial, generally
used a wand, the so-called divining rod, which, according to Pliny, was
already known to the ancient Etruscans as a means for the discovery of
hidden springs. An Italian author, Amoretti, who has given special
attention to this subject, states that at least every fifth man is
susceptible to the influence of water and metals, but this is evidently
an overestimate. In recent times many persons have been known to possess
this gift of discovering hidden springs or subterranean masses of water,
and these have but rarely employed an instrument. Catharine Beutler, of
Thurgovia, in Switzerland, and Anna Maria Brugger of the same place,
were both so seriously affected by the presence of water that they fell
into violent nervous excitement when they happened to cross places
beneath which larger quantities were concealed, and became perfectly
exhausted. In France a class of men, called _sourciers_, have for ages
possessed this instinctive power of perceiving the presence of water,
and others, like the famous Abbé Paramelle, have cultivated the natural
gift till they were finally enabled, by a mere cursory examination of a
landscape, to ascertain whether large masses of water were hidden
anywhere, and to indicate the precise spots where they might be found.

Why water and metals should almost always go hand in hand in connection
with this peculiar gift, is not quite clear; but the staff of Hermes,
having probably the form of the divining rod, was always represented as
giving the command over the treasures of the earth, and the Orphic Hymn
(v. 527) calls it, hence, the golden rod, producing wealth and
happiness. On the other hand, the _Aquæ Virgo_, the nymph of springs,
had also a divining rod in her hand, and Numa, inspired by a water
nymph, established the worship of waters in connection with that of the
dead. For here, also, riches and death seem to have entered into a
strange alliance. Del Rio, in his _Disquisitiones magicæ_, mentions thus
the Zahuri of Spain, the lynx-eyed, as he translates the name, who were
able on Wednesdays and Saturdays to discover all the veins of metals or
of water beneath the surface, all hidden treasures, and corpses in their
coffins. There is at least one instance recorded where a person
possessed the power to see even more than the Zahuris. This was a
Portuguese lady, Pedegache, who first attracted attention by being able
to discover subterranean springs and their connections, a gift which
brought her great honors after she had informed the king of all the
various supplies of water which were hidden near a palace which he was
about to build. Shafts were sunk according to her directions, and not
only water was found, but also the various soils and stones which she
had foretold would have to be pierced. She also seems to have cultivated
her talent, for we hear of her next being able to discover treasures,
even valuable antique statues, in the interior of houses, and finally
she reached such a degree of intuition, that she saw the inner parts of
the human body, and pointed out their diseases and defects.

Savoy seems to be a specially favorable region for the development of
this peculiar gift, for if in Cornwall one out of every forty men is
believed to possess it, in Savoy the divining rod is in the hands of
nearly every one. But what marks the talent in this case as peculiar is
that it is by no means limited to the discovery of water, but extends to
other things likewise. A very wealthy family, called Collomb, living in
Cessens, boasted of more than one member who was able, by the aid of the
rod and with bandaged eyes, to discover not only pieces of money, but
even needles, evidently cases of personal susceptibility to the presence
of metals, aided by electric currents. Once, at least, the gift was made
useful. A number of bags filled with wheat had been stolen from a
neighboring house, and the police were unable to discover the
hiding-place. At the request of his friends one of the Collombs
undertook the search with the aid of the divining rod; he soon found the
window through which the bags had been handed out; he then followed the
track along the banks of the river Cheran, and asserted that the thief
had crossed to the other side. At that time nothing more was discovered;
but soon afterwards a miller living across the river was suspected, the
bags were found, and the culprit sent to the galleys. (_Revue
Savoisienne_, April 15, 1852.) Dr. Mayo mentions, mainly upon the
authority of George Fairholm, a number of instances in which persons
belonging to all classes of society have exhibited the same gift, but
ascribes its efficacy to the presence of currents of Od.

The divining rod, originally a twig of willow or hazel, is often made of
metal, and the impression prevails that in such cases an electric
current, arising from the subterranean water or metals, enters the
diviner's body by the feet, passes through him, and finally affects the
two branches of the rod, which represent opposite poles. It is certain
that when the electric current is interrupted, the power of the divining
rod is suspended. Dr. Mayo tells us of a lady of his acquaintance in
Southampton, who at his request used a divining rod of copper and iron
wire, made after the fashion of the usual hazel rod; it answered the
purpose fully, but when the ends touched by her hands were covered with
sealing-wax, it became useless; as soon as she put her fingers in
contact with the unprotected wire, the power instantly returned. This
certainly seemed to be strong evidence of the existence of an electric
current. Nevertheless, many believe that the divining rod acts in all
cases simply as an extension of the arms, and thus serves to make the
vibrations of the muscles more distinct. It is by this theory they
explain the fact which has caused serious trouble to careful inquirers
like Count Tristan and Dr. Mayo, that the gift of using the divining rod
varies with the state of health in the individuals in whom it has been



    "Thereupon St. Theophilus made a pact with the Devil."

    --ACTA, S. S., 4 February.

Many forms of insanity, it is well known, are accompanied by the fixed
idea that the sufferer is continually associated with another being, a
friend or an enemy, a man, an animal, or a mere shadow. Somnambulists,
also, not unfrequently fancy that they obtain their exceptional
knowledge of hidden things, not by intuition or instinct, but through
the agency of a medium, whom they look upon as an angel or a demon.
There is, however, a third class of cases, far more formidable than
either of those mentioned, in which the mind is disturbed, and magic
phenomena are produced by an agency apparently entirely independent of
the patient himself. Such are possession, vampirism and
zoanthropy--three frightful forms of human suffering, which are
fortunately very rare, being limited to certain localities in space, to
a few short periods in time, and to men of the lowest grade only.

Possession is that appalling state of mind which makes the patient
believe that he is in the power of a foreign evil being, which has for
the time full control over his body. This power it abuses by plaguing
the body in every imaginable way, by distorting the features till they
assume a scornful, diabolical expression, and above all, by causing the
sufferer to give utterance to cynical remarks and horrible blasphemy.
All these phenomena are based upon the division of the patient's
individuality, which cannot be remedied by any effort of his own, and
which makes him look upon the evil principle in his nature as something
outside of himself, and no longer under his control. The phenomena which
accompany possession are too fearful in their nature, and yet at the
same time too exceptional to keep us altogether and easily from
believing, as many thoughtful and even pious men have thought, that in
these cases a real demon takes possession of the afflicted. The bitter
hatred against religion, which is always a symptom of possession, would
naturally tend to enforce such a presumption. The possessed know not
only their own sins, but also those of the bystanders, and use this
knowledge with unsparing bitterness and cruel scorn; at the same time
they feel the superiority of others with whom they may come in contact,
as the demoniacs of the Bible never failed to recognize in Christ the
Son of God. From the numerous cases of modern possession which have been
investigated, we derive the following information as to its real nature.
Possession is invariably a kind of insanity, which is accompanied by
exceptional powers, producing magic phenomena; it is also invariably
preceded by some grave disorder or dangerous disease. The former may be
of purely mental nature, for violent coercion of will, sudden and
subversive nervous shocks or long-continued enforcement of a hateful
mode of life, are apt to produce the sad effect. Hence its frequent
occurrence in monasteries, orphan asylums and similar institutions,
where this kind of insanity is, moreover, liable to become epidemic. At
other times the cause is a trivial one, and then a peculiar
predisposition must be presumed which only needed a decisive act to
bring the disturbed mind to its extremity. But possession is not merely
an affection of the mind, it is also always a disease of the body, which
in the bewildered and disordered imagination of the patient becomes
personified in the shape of a demon; hence the graver the disease, the
fiercer the demon. As sickness worries the patient, robs him of his
appetite and makes all he used to like distasteful to him, so the demon
also suffers no enjoyment; interferes with every pleasure, and
consistently rages especially against religion, which alone could give
consolation in such cases. The outbursts of rage in demoniacs, when
efforts are made to exorcise or convert them, even although nothing but
prayers may be attempted, is ascribed to an instinctive repugnance of
the sufferers for means which they feel to be utterly inappropriate to
their case--very much as if men, mad with hunger, were to be fed with
moral axioms. Possession is finally sometimes limited to parts of the
body; as when a demoniac is spoken of who was dumb (Matt. ix. 32), and
another who was blind and dumb (Matt. xii. 22). In other cases the body
is endowed with supernatural strength, and four or five powerful men
have been known to be scarcely able to hold a frail girl of fifteen.

A peculiar feature in possession is, that during the most violent
attacks of apparent fury, accompanied by hideous cries and frightful
contortions, the pulse is not quickened and the physical strength of the
patient does not seem in the least diminished. The disease, however,
naturally affects his whole system and exhausts it in time. The
possessed man, who unlike somnambulists retains, during the paroxysms,
full control over all his senses, never speaks of the demon that
possesses him, but the demon speaks of him as of a third person, and at
the same time of himself, a feature which powerfully contributes to the
popular belief of actual demons dwelling in these unfortunate persons.
And yet, after the paroxysm is over, the poor sufferer knows nothing of
the horrible things he has done, and of the fearful words he has
uttered; if he is told what has occurred, he is terribly shocked, and
bitterly repents his misdoings.

The paroxysms are twofold: in the body they appear as violent
convulsions accompanied by a contraction of the throat and the _globulus
hystericus_; saliva forms in abundance, black, coal-like lumps are
thrown up and the breath is hot and ill-smelling. In this mental form
they appear as a raging of the demon against the possessed and against
religion--in fact a struggle of the patient with himself and his former
convictions. Occasionally the good principle within him assumes, in
contradistinction to the demon who personifies the evil principle, the
form of a guardian angel, who comforts the poor sufferer as he is tossed
to and fro like a ship in a tempest, and promises him assistance. Nor is
the demon always alone; there may be, as Holy Writ teaches, seven,
thousands, or their name may be "Legions," for these visionary beings
are only so many representatives of certain evil principles at work in
the soul of the possessed. Some patients have been enabled to trace this
connection and to discover that each symptom of their disease was thus
personified by a separate demon to whom in their paroxysms they ascribed
the infliction: Lucifer caused pricking and stinging pains, Anzian
tearing and scratching, Junian convulsions of limbs, etc. The fearful
suffering which demoniacs have to undergo and the still more harassing
conflicts in their soul drive them frequently to despair and engender
thoughts of suicide. During these paroxysms the struggle between light
and darkness, heaven and hell, eternal bliss and damnation, angel and
devil, is carried on with such energy and dramatic truthfulness that
those who witness it are apt to become deeply excited and often suffer
not a little from the violent transitions from sympathy to horror and
from heartfelt pity to unspeakable disgust. As soon as the dualism in
the soul relaxes, and with it the disease becomes milder, the demon also
grows more quiet; a happy moment of rest ensues, which the exorciser
calls the period of conversion; and when this has once taken place the
patient is no longer able to distinguish the demon as apart from
himself, the contradistinction exists no more, and he is reconciled to
his true self.

There is no instance known in which an intelligent, well-educated person
has become possessed; the terrible misfortune falls exclusively upon
rude and coarse natures, a fact which explains the coarseness and
rudeness of so-called demons. Medicinal remedies are seldom of much
avail, as the disease has already reached a stage in which the mind is
at least as much affected as the body. Exorcising has frequently been
successful, but only indirectly, through the firm faith which the
sufferer still holds in his innermost heart. The great dogma that Christ
has come into this world to destroy the works of the Evil One, has
probably been inculcated into his mind from childhood up, and can now
begin once more, after long obscuration, to exercise its supreme power.
The cure depends, however, not only on the presence of such faith, but
rather on the supremacy which the idea of Christ's power gains over the
idea of the devil's power. Hence the symptoms of possession not
unfrequently cease under a fervent invocation of the Saviour, if the
exorciser is able by his superior energy of will to create in the
patient a firm faith in the power of the holy name. This expulsion of
the demon is, of course, nothing more than the abandonment of the
struggle by the evil principle in the sufferer's soul, by which the good
impulses become once more dominant, and a healthy, natural state of
mind and body is restored.

It must, however, not be overlooked that the views of possession have
changed essentially in different nations and ages. At the time of
Christ's coming the belief in actual possession, the dwelling of real
demons in the body of human beings, was universal, and to this belief
the language of Holy Writ naturally adapts its records of miracles.

The Kabbalah as well as the Talmud contain full accounts of a kingdom of
hell, opposed to the heavenly kingdom, with Smaal as head of all
satanism or evil spirits, defying Jehovah. The latter are allowed to
dwell upon earth side by side with the sons of Adam, and occasionally to
possess them and to live in their souls as in a home of their own. In
other cases it was the spirit of a deceased person which, condemned for
sins committed during life to wander about as a demon, received
permission to enter the soul of a living being. The New Testament
mentions at least seven cases of possession, from the woman whose
suffering was simply ascribed to the Devil's agency, to Mary Magdalene
who was relieved of seven demons, and the Gadarene, who had a "legion"
of devils. The Catholic Church also has always taught the existence of
evil spirits; doctrinal works, however, mention only one, Diabolus or
Satanas. Although the Church adheres consistently to the theory of
actual possession, it teaches that demons cannot wholly take possession
of a human soul, but only force it to obedience or accept voluntary
submission. Hence their power over the body also never becomes absolute,
but is always shared with the soul of the sufferer. Among Protestants
many orthodox believers look upon possession as a mere delusion
practised by the Evil One; others admit its existence, but attribute it
to the souls of deceased persons and not to demons. This was the
doctrine of the ancient Greeks, who, like the Romans, seem to have known
but a few rare cases of possession, which they ascribed to departed
spirits. Thus Philostratus, in his life of Apollonius (l. iii. ch. 38),
mentions a young man who was for two years possessed by a demon
pretending to be the spirit of a soldier killed in battle. Nearly all
nations on earth have records of possession. Thus cases occurring in
China and Japan and in the Indies are attributed to the influence of
certain deities, as the Hindoos know neither a hell nor a devil. Early
travelers, like Blom and Rochefort, report, in like manner, that in some
of the islands of the Caribbean Sea evil spirits are believed to obtain
at times possession of women and then to enable them to foretell the
future. According to Ellis the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands were
much plagued by evil spirits dwelling in some of their brethren.

It was only towards the latter part of the last century that possession
was found to be nothing more than a peculiar disease arising from the
combination of an unsound mind with an unsound body. This discovery was
first made by Farmer in England, and by Semler in Germany; since that
time the symptoms of the character of the affection have been very
generally studied and thoroughly investigated.

Thus it has been discovered that similar phenomena are occasionally
observed in typhus and nervous fevers. First the patients fancy they
feel somebody breathing by their side, or blowing cold air upon their
head; after long unconsciousness they are apt to imagine that they are
double, and have been known to hesitate where to carry the spoon
containing their medicine. In still more marked cases, persons who have
suffered from the effects of some great calamity, and have thus been
brought to the verge of the grave, have even acted two different
individualities, of which one was pious and the other impious, or one
speaking the patient's native tongue and the other a foreign language.
As they recovered and as the return of health brought back bodily and
mental strength, this dualism also ceased to be exhibited during the
paroxysm, and finally disappeared altogether.

Possession is generally announced some time beforehand by premonitory
symptoms, but the first cause is not always easily ascertained. When we
are told that certain cases have originated in a hastily spoken word, a
fierce curse or an outburst of passion, we only learn thus what was the
first occasion on which the malady has been noticed, but not what was
the first cause. This lies almost invariably in moral corruption; the
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of the heart are
by far the most frequent sources of the frightful disease. Occasionally
a very great and sudden grief, like the unexpected death of a beloved
person, or too great familiarity with evil thoughts in books or in
conversation, produce the same effect--in fact all the various causes
which result in insanity may produce also possession. Nor must serious
bodily injuries be forgotten. A student of the University of Halle
considered himself possessed, and the case puzzled experienced
physicians for some time, till it was ascertained that he had received a
violent blow upon the head, which required trepanning. Before the
operation could be undertaken, however, matter began to ooze out from
the ear, and he suddenly was relieved from the paroxysms and all
thoughts of possession. Convents are naturally very frequently scenes of
possession--the inmates are either troubled by bitter remorse for sins
which have led them to seek refuge in a holy place, where they cannot
find peace, or they succumb to the rigor of severe discipline and are
unable to endure the constant privation of food or sleep. The sin
against the Holy Ghost, which unfortunate persons have imputed to
themselves, has produced many a case of possession. When the mind is
thus predisposed by great anguish of soul or a long-continued inward
struggle, the most trifling incident suffices in determining the
outbreak of the disease. One patient became possessed because his wife
told him to go to the Devil, and another because he had in jest
exorcised a demon in a playmate; now a man curses himself in a moment of
passion, and then a boy drinks hastily a glass of cold water when
overheated, and both fall victims to the disease.

The magic phenomena accompanying possession are by far the most
remarkable within the whole range of modern magic, but a number of the
more striking are frequently identical with those seen in religious
ecstasy. Demoniacs also exhibit the traces of injuries inflicted by
demons, as saints show the stigmas, and their wounds heal as little as
those of stigmatized persons. They share in like manner with religious
enthusiasts paroxysms during which they remain suspended in the air, fly
up to the ceiling or are carried to great distances without touching the
ground. The strength of the possessed is amazing. A monk, known in
ecclesiastical history as Brother Rafael of Rimini, could not be bound
by any ropes or chains; as soon as he was left alone he broke the
strongest fetters, raced up the roof of the church, ran along the
topmost ridge, and was often found sitting on the great bell, to which
no one else had ever been able to gain access. At last the demons led
him to the top of the steeple itself and were about to hurl him down, as
he said; the abbot and his monks and an immense crowd of people
assembled below, and besought him to invoke the aid of their patron
saint so as to save body and soul. It does not appear by what miraculous
influence a change was wrought in the poor man; but he did raise his
voice, which had not been heard to address a saint for many years, and
instantly his mind returned, he found his way down to the church and was

The most frequent symptom in possession is a strong antipathy against
everything connected with religion; the holy names of God and Christ,
the presence of priests, the singing of hymns and the reciting of
prayers, excite intense pain, and provoke outbursts of fury. Even young
children manifest this aversion, especially when they have previously
been forced to attend church, and to engage in devotional exercises
against their inclination. Hence it is, also, that paroxysms are most
frequent at the regular hours of divine service, or break forth suddenly
at the sight of a procession or the hearing of ringing bells. The
symptom itself arises naturally from the imaginary conflict between a
good and an evil principle, the latter being continually in arms against
anything that threatens to crush its own power. All the other symptoms
of this fearful disease occur, also, in St. Vitus' dance, in catalepsy,
and even in ordinary trances; only they appear more marked, and make a
greater impression upon bystanders, because they are apparently caused
by a foreign agent, the possessing demon, and not by the patient
himself. As the digestive organs are in all such cases sympathetically
excited, and seriously affected, a desire for unnatural food is very
frequent; the coarsest victuals are preferred; unwholesome, and even
injurious substances are eagerly devoured; and medicines as well as
strengthening food are vehemently rejected. The sufferer is apt to
interpret this as a new plague, his demon refusing him his legitimate
sustenance, and compelling him to feed like an animal.

One of the most remarkable historical cases of apparent possession
accompanied by magic phenomena, was that of Mirabeau's grandmother.
Married when quite young to the old marquis, she tried after his death
to protect herself against the temptations of the world, and of her own
heart, by ascetic devotion. In her eighty-third year, she was attacked
by gout which affected her brain, and she became insane, in a manner
which according to the views of her days was called possession. It was
found necessary to shut her up in a bare room with a pallet of straw,
where no one dared enter but her valet, a man seventy years old, with
whom she had fallen in love! For, strange as it may appear, her fearful
affliction restored to her the charms of youth; she, who had been
reduced to a skeleton by old age and unceasing devotion, suddenly
regained the plumpness of her early years, her complexion became fair
and rosy, her eyes bright and even, her hair began to grow out once
more. But, alas! her tongue, also, had changed; once afraid to utter a
word that could be misinterpreted, the unruly member now sent forth
speeches of incredible licentiousness, and overwhelmed the old servant
with terms of endearment and coarse allusions. At the same time the
retired ascetic became a violent blasphemer, and would allow no one to
enter her chamber who had not first denied God, threatening to kill him
with her own hands if he refused. For four long years the unfortunate
lady endured her fearful affliction, till death relieved her of her
sufferings--but the student of history traces to her more than one of
the startling features in the character of her grandson, the Mirabeau of
the Revolution. (Bülau, _Geh. Gesch._, xii.)

Relief is generally possible only when a powerful hold has been obtained
upon the mind of the patient; after that appropriate remedies may be
applied, and the body will be restored to its natural healthy condition.
In a few cases remarkable incidents have produced a cure, such as the
sudden clanking of chains, or a peculiarly fervent and impressive
prayer. Even a night's sound sleep, induced by utter exhaustion, has had
the happiest effect.

It seems as if, the train of thoughts once forcibly interrupted, a
return to reason and an abandonment of fixed ideas become possible. Even
a specially violent paroxysm may be salutary; probably by means of the
severe struggle and extreme excitement which it is apt to produce. Many
patients, under such circumstances, fall prostrate on the ground, losing
their consciousness, and awake after a while as from a dream, without
being able to remember what has happened. In other cases the
hallucination continues to the last moment, and leads the patient to
imagine that the demon leaves him in the shape of a black shadow, a
bird, or an insect. Such recoveries are almost invariably accompanied
by violent efforts to discard foreign matters, which have been lodged in
the system, and largely contributed to produce the disease. Exorcism
has, of course, no direct effect: even when the power to "cast out
devils" (Mark xvi. 17) is given, it is not said by what means the
casting out is to be accomplished, except that it must be done in the
Saviour's name. The formalities, carefully regulated and prescribed by
many decrees of the Church since the third century, do no good except so
far as they re-awaken faith, impart hope, and free the mind from
distressing doubts. Ignatius Loyola never cured possessed persons
otherwise than by prayer. As early as the sixteenth century a case is
recorded clearly illustrating the true nature of exorcism. A demon was,
after many fruitless attempts, at last driven out by a particle of the
cross of our Saviour, but in departing he declared in a loud voice that
he knew full well the nature of the piece of wood; it was cut from a
gallows and not from the true cross, nevertheless he was forced to go
because the exorcist willed it so, and the patient believed in his
power. The same rule applies to cures achieved by relics; not that these
had any effect, but in the long-cherished faith of the possessed, that
they might and could wield such power over evil spirits.

The main point is here also the energy of will in the exorciser, and
that this special gift is by no means confined to men was strikingly
illustrated by a famous lady, the wife of a Marquis de la Croix, who was
a Spanish general and Viceroy of Galicia. In her youth a matchless
beauty with almost perfect classical features, she retained an imposing
carriage and bewitching grace throughout a long life, and even in old
age commanded the admiration of all who came in contact with her, not
only by the superiority of her mind but also by the beauty of her eyes
and the charming expression of her features. After the death of her
husband she had much to endure from neglect in the great world, from
sickness and from poverty, doubly hard to bear because standing in
painful contrast to the splendor of her former life. The effects of a
violent attack of sickness produced at last a partial disturbance of her
mind, which showed itself in visions and the power to drive demons from
the possessed. Her theory was that as the sins of men caused their
diseases, and as the Devil was the cause of all sins, sickness was
invariably produced by demoniac agency; she distinguished, however,
between sufferers who had voluntarily given themselves up to sin, and
thus to the service of the Devil, and those who had unawares fallen into
his hands. Her practice was simple and safe: she employed nothing but
fervent prayer and the imposition of hands, which she had moistened with
holy water or oil. In the course of time she found her way to Paris, and
there met, amid many skeptics, also with countless believers, some of
whom belonged not only to the highest classes of society, but even to
the sect of Free-thinkers, then prominent in the French capital. Such
were Marshal Richelieu, Count Schomberg, an intimate of the famous
circle-meeting at Baron Holbach's house, and even the illustrious
Buffon. When she was engaged in exorcising, her imposing stature, her
imperious eye and commanding voice aided her at least as much as her
perfect faith and striking humility, so that her patients, after a short
demur, willingly looked upon her as a saint who might, if she but chose,
perform miracles. With such a disposition obedience was no longer
difficult, and the remarkable lady healed all manners of diseases, from
modest toothache to rabid madness. Even when she was unsuccessful, as
frequently happened, she won all hearts by her marvelous gentleness and
humble piety. Thus, when a possessed man was brought to her in the
presence of an illustrious company, and all her efforts and prayers were
fruitless, she placed herself bravely between the enraged man and her
friends whom he threatened to attack. He began to foam at the mouth, and
amid fearful convulsions and dread imprecations, broke out into a long
series of terrible accusations against the poor lady, charging her with
all her real and a host of imaginary sins, till she could hardly stand
up any longer. She listened, however, with her arms folded over her
bosom and her eyes raised to heaven, and when the madman at last sank
exhausted to the ground, she fell upon her knees and said to the
bystanders: "Gentlemen, you see here a punishment ordained by God for
the sins of my youth. I deserve this humiliation in your presence, and I
would endure it before all Paris if I could thus make atonement for my
misdeeds." (_Mém. du Baron de Gleichen_, p. 149.)

One of the most fearful features of possession is its tendency to spread
like contagion over whole communities. Many such cases are recorded in
history. The monks of the Convent of Quercy were thus attacked in 1491,
and suffered, from the oldest to the youngest, during four months,
incredible afflictions. They ran like dogs through the fields, climbed
upon trees, imitated the howling of wild beasts, spoke in unknown
tongues, and foretold, at the same time, future events. (Goerres, iv.
II.) In the year 1566 a similar malady broke out in the Orphan House at
Amsterdam, and seventy poor children became possessed. They also climbed
up the walls and on the roofs, swallowed hairs, needles, and pieces of
glass and iron, and distorted their features and their limbs in a
fearful manner. What, however, made the greatest impression upon the
good citizens of the town were the magic phenomena connected with their
disease. They spoke to the overseer and even to the chief magistrate of
their secret affairs, made known plots hatched against the Protestants
and foretold events which happened soon after. In a convent of nuns at
Yssel in the Netherlands, a single nun, Maria de Sains, caused one of
the most fearful calamities among her sisters that has ever been known.
Naturally a woman of superior mind, but carried away by evil passions,
she finally succumbed to the struggle between the latter and the strict
rules of her retreat; she began to accuse herself of horrible crimes
and excesses. The whole country was amazed, for she had passed for a
great saint, and now, of a sudden, she confessed that she had murdered
numberless little children, disinterred corpses, and carried poor girls
to the meeting of witches. All these misdeeds, which existed only in her
disordered imagination, she ascribed to the agency of a demon, by whom
she was possessed, and before many weeks had passed, every nun and lay
sister in the ill-fated convent was possessed in precisely the same

One of the most recent cases of possession is reported by Bishop Laurent
of Luxemburg, in a pamphlet on the subject. In the year 1843 a woman,
thirty-four years old, was brought to him who had been possessed since
her fifteenth year, and who exhibited the remarkable phenomenon that in
her sound moments she spoke no other language but the patois of her
native place, while in her paroxysms she used Latin, French, and German
at will. When the good bishop threatened the demon, the latter attacked
him in return, troubling him with nightly visits and suggesting to him
sinful doubts of the existence of God and the efficacy of Christ's
sacrifice. This fact shows how easily such disturbances of mind can be
transferred to others, when disease or mental struggles have prepared a
way. Fortunately the bishop first mastered his own doubts, and, thus
strengthened, obtained the same mastery over the possessed woman. He
commanded the demon to come out of her, whereupon she fell into
convulsions, speaking in a disguised tone of voice; but after a while
drew herself up, and now her face was once more free from anguish, and
"angel-like." Another bishop, who had been requested to exorcise
possessed persons in Morzine, in the Chablais, was not so successful. At
this place, in 1837, a little girl, nine years old, in consequence of a
great fright, fell into a deathlike sleep, which returned daily, and
lasted about fifteen minutes. A month later, another girl, eleven years
old, was attacked in the same way, and soon the number of afflicted
persons rose to twenty, all girls under twenty years. After a while they
declared that they were possessed by demons, and ran wild through the
fields, climbed to the top of lofty trees, and fell into violent
convulsions. In vain did the local priest and his vicar attempt to
arrest the evil; the girls laughed them to scorn. When the civil
authorities interfered, they were met with insults and blows; the guilty
were fined, but the number steadily increased, and now grown women also
were found in the crowd. At last the official reports reached Paris, and
the minister sent the chief superintendent of insane asylums to the
village. He immediately distributed all the affected among the adjoining
towns and hamlets, to break off the association, and sent the priest and
his vicar to their superior, the bishop of Annecy. A few only of the
women recovered, several died and one man also succumbed; others, when
they returned to Morzine, relapsed, and in 1864 the malady began to
spread once more so fearfully that the bishop of Annecy himself came to
exorcise the possessed. Seventy of them were brought to the church,
where the most fearful scenes took place; howling and yelling filled the
sacred building, seven or eight powerful men scarcely succeeded in
bringing one possessed child to the altar, and when there, the demoniacs
broke out in horrible blasphemies. The bishop, exhausted by the intense
excitement, and suffering from serious contusions inflicted upon him by
the unfortunate women, had to leave the place, unable to obtain any
results. Even as late as 1869 two demons were solemnly exorcised upon an
order from the bishop of Strasbourg, and with the consent of the prefect
of the department. The ceremony took place in the Chapel of St. George,
in the presence of the lady-abbesses, under the direction of the
Vicar-General of the diocese, assisted by other dignitaries and the
Superior of the Jesuits. The two boys who were to be relieved had long
been plagued with fearful visions and publicly given evidence of being
possessed, for "twenty or thirty times they had been led into a public
square in the presence of large crowds, and there they had pulled
feathers out of a horrible monster which they saw above them in a
threatening attitude; these feathers they had handed to the bystanders,
who found that when they were burnt they left no ashes." When the two
children were brought to the house of the Sisters of Charity, they
became clairvoyant, and revealed to the good ladies, although they had
never seen them before, their family relations, their antecedents and
many secrets. They also spoke in unknown tongues, and exhibited all the
ordinary phenomena of possession. The official report containing these
statements, and closing with their restoration to health and reason, is
so far trustworthy as it is signed by several hundred persons, among
whom the government authorities, officers, professors and teachers are
not wanting.

There can be little doubt that the dancing mania which broke out
repeatedly in various parts of the continent of Europe, was a kind of
possession. The facts are recorded in history; the explanation only is
left as a matter of discussion. In 1374, when a new and magnificent
church was to be consecrated, in Liege, large numbers of people came
from North Germany; "men and women, possessed by demons, half naked,
wreaths on their heads, and holding each other's hands, performed
shameless dances in the streets, the churches, and houses." When they
fell down exhausted they had spasms, and convulsions; at their own
request, friends came and pressed violently upon their chests, till they
grew better. Their number soon reached thousands, and other thousands
joined them in Holland and Brabant, although the priests frequently
succeeded in exorcising them--whenever their mind was still sound enough
to recall their early reverence for holy men and their faith in holy
things. Some time before, the good people of Perugia had taken it into
their heads that their sins required expiation, and had begun to
scourge themselves publicly in the most cruel manner. The Romans were
infected soon after, and copied their example; from thence the contagion
spread, and soon all over Italy men, women, and children were seen
inflicting upon themselves fearful punishment in order to drive out the
evil spirits by whom they fancied themselves possessed. Noble and
humble, rich and poor, old and young, all joined the crowds which in the
daytime filled squares and streets, and at night, under the guidance of
priests, marched with waving banners, and blazing torches, in vast
armies through the land. Nor can we shut our eyes to the fact that the
Jumpers and Jerkers of the Methodist Church present to us instances of
the same mental disorder, caused by over-excitement, which in earlier
days was called possession, and that, hence, these aberrations, also,
infinitely varied as they are, according to the temper of men and the
habits of the locality in which they occur, must be numbered among the
phenomena of modern magic.


Occasionally possession is not attributed to demons, but to deceased men
who come by night from their graves, and suck the blood of their
victims, whereupon the latter begin to decline and finally die a
miserable death, while the buried man lives and thrives upon his
ill-gotten food. This is vampirism, the name being derived from the once
universal belief that there existed vampires, huge bats, who, whilst
fanning sleeping men with their soft wings, feasted upon their life's
blood and only left them when they had turned into corpses. Popular
credulity added a number of horrid details to the general outline, and
believed that the wretched victims of vampirism became themselves after
death vampires, and thus forever continued the fearful curse. It was
long thought that vampirism was known only to the nations of the Slavic
race, but recent researches have discovered traces of it in the East
Indies, and in Europe among the Magyars. Even the Sanscrit already
appears to have had a term of its own for the vampires--Pysachas,
"hostile beings, eager for the flesh and blood of living men, who
gratify their cruel lust mainly at the expense of women when they are
asleep, drunk, or insane."

Careful writers like Calmet and others have, it is true, always
maintained that, while the existence of vampirism cannot be denied, the
phenomena attending it are in all cases the creations of diseased minds
only. On the other hand, it is a well-established fact that the bodies
of so-called vampires, when exhumed, have been found free from
corruption, while in all the corpses around them decomposition had long
since begun. In the face of such facts vampirism cannot be dismissed as
simply the product of heated and over-excited imaginations, although it
must be admitted that its true nature is still to all intents and
purposes a profound mystery. According to popular belief the unusual
preservation of the corpses indicates that death has not yet obtained
full dominion over the bodies, and that hence the soul has not yet
departed to its eternal home. A kind of lower organic life, it is said,
continues, and as long as this lasts, the soul wanders about, as in a
dream, among the familiar scenes of its earthly life and makes itself
known to the friends of its former existence. The life thus extended
requires blood in order to sustain itself, and hence the minds of those
who come in magic contact with the soul of a vampire, become filled with
sanguinary thoughts, which present themselves to their imagination as
the desire to suck blood and thus lead to the actual performance. The
fact that vampirism is epidemic, like many similar mental diseases, has
led to the belief that the living are brought into close connection with
the dead and are infected by them, while in reality there is no bond
between them but a common misfortune. Nor must it be forgotten that in
this disease, as in the plague, the mere thought of being seized often
suffices to cause death without any warning symptoms, and hence the
great number of deaths in localities where vampirism has been thought to
prevail. For very few of those who are attacked succeed in escaping, and
if they survive they retain for life the marks left by their wounds. The
penalty, moreover, is not always undeserved; vampirism rarely if ever
attacks men of pure hearts and sober minds; it is found, on the
contrary, exclusively among semi-barbarous nations and only in persons
of rude, savage, and sinful disposition.

Traces of vampirism have been discovered in the most distant parts of
the earth, and often without apparent connection. The "Bruholaks" of
Greece, genuine vampires whose appearance was ascribed to the direct
influence of the Evil One, may possibly have been imported by the
numerous immigrants of Slavic origin (Huet, _Penseés Diverses_, Paris,
1722), but in Finland also the belief is, according to Castren, almost
universal, that the spirits of the departed have the power to vex and
torment persons in their sleep, and to afflict them with sorrow and
disease. In the Sunda and Molucca islands genuine vampirism is well
known, and the Dyaks of Borneo also believe in an evil spirit who sucks
the blood of living persons till they expire.

Poland and Western Russia have, however, been for two centuries the
stage on which most of these dread tragedies have occurred. Men and
women were reported to have been seen in broad daylight sucking the
blood of men and beasts, while in other cases dogs and even wolves were
suspected of being upires or vampires, as blood-suckers are called in
most Slavic dialects. The terror grew as these reports found their way
into newspapers and journals, till fear drove men and women to resort to
the familiar remedy of mixing blood with the meal used for their bread;
they escaped not by any healing powers inherent in the horrid mixture,
but thanks to the faith they had in the efficacy of the prescription and
the moral courage exhibited in its application. To prevent the spreading
of the epidemic the bodies of the vampires were disinterred, and when
found bleeding, were decapitated or impaled or burned in public. In some
parts of Hungary the disease appeared in the shape of a white spectre
which pursued the patients; they declined visibly and died in a week or
a fortnight. It was mainly in this country that physicians attending the
disinterment of suspected bodies noticed the presence of more or less
considerable quantities of blood, which was still fluid and actually
caused the cheeks to look reddish. Some of the witnesses even thought
they noticed an effort to breathe, faint pulsations, and a slight change
of features; these were, however, evidently nothing more than the
effects of currents of air which accompanied the opening of the coffin.
It was here also that animals were first believed to have been attacked
by vampires; cows were found early in the morning bleeding profusely
from a wound at the neck, and horses standing in their stalls trembling,
covered with white foam, and so thoroughly terrified as to become unfit
for use.

Another period of excitement due to accounts of vampirism comprised the
middle of last century, when all Europe was deeply agitated on the
subject. The Emperor of Germany and other monarchs appointed committees
of learned men to investigate the matter; theologians and skeptics,
philosophers and physicians, took up the discussion, and hundreds of
volumes were published on the mysterious question, but no satisfactory
result was ever obtained. Many declared the whole a fable or merely the
effect of diseased imaginations, others looked upon it as a malignant
and epidemic disease, and not a few as the unmistakable work of the
devil. Learned men searched the writings of antiquity, and soon found
more traces of the fearful disease than they had expected. They
discovered that in Thessaly, Epirus, and some parts of the Pieria, men
were reported by ancient writers as wandering about at night and tearing
all whom they met to pieces. The Lamiæ of the Greeks and the Strigæ of
the Romans evidently belonged to the same category, while the later
Tympanites of the Greeks were persons who had died while under the ban
of the church and were therefore doomed to become vampires. The Slavic
population of Moravia and Bohemia was in those days especially rich in
instances of vampirism, and so many occurred in Hungary that the Emperor
Charles IV. intrusted the investigation of the matter to a prince of
Würtemberg, before whom a number of cases were fully authenticated. Men
who had died years before, were seen to return to their former homes,
some in the daytime, some at night, and the following morning those whom
they had visited were found dead and weltering in their blood. In a
single village seventeen persons died thus within three months, and in
many instances, when bodies were disinterred, they were found looking
quite alive. At this time the Sorbonne at Paris also took up the
subject, but came to no conclusion, save that they disapproved of the
practice of disinterring bodies, "because vampires, as cataleptics,
might be restored to life by bleeding or magnetic treatment," according
to the opinion of the learned Dr. Piérard. (_Revue Spirit._, iv.)

Here we come at last to the grain of truth around which this mass of
popular superstition has gradually accumulated, and the ignorance of
which has caused hundreds of innocent human beings to die a miserable
death. There can be no doubt that cases of "suspended animation" or
apparent death have alone given rise to the whole series of fearful
tales of vampirism. The very words of a recital belonging to the times,
and to the districts where vampirism was prevalent, prove the force of
this supposition. Erasmus Francisci states that, in the duchy of Krain,
a man was buried and then suspected of being a vampire. When disinterred
his face was found rosy, and his features moved as if they attempted to
smile; even his lips opened as if gasping for air. A crucifix was held
before his eyes and a priest called out with a loud voice: "Peace! This
is Jesus Christ who has rescued thy soul from the torment of hell, and
suffered death for thee!" The sound seemed to penetrate to his ear, and
slowly a few tears began to trickle down his cheeks. After a short
prayer for his poor soul, his head was ordered to be cut off; a
suppressed cry was heard, the body turned over as if still alive, and
when the head was severed a quantity of blood ran into the grave. It was
as clear a case of a living man who had been buried before death as has
ever been authenticated. Nor are such cases as rare as is popularly
believed. High authorities assure us that, for instance, after
imperfect poisoning, in several kinds of suffocation, and in cases of
new-born children who become suddenly chilled, a state of body is
produced which presents all the symptoms of complete suspension of the
functions of life. Such apparent death is, according to the same high
medical authority, a period of complete rest, based upon a suspension of
the activity of the heart, the lungs, and all spontaneous functions,
extending frequently to the sense of touch, and the intellect even. At
the same time the natural heat of the body sinks until it seems to have
disappeared altogether. The duration of this exceptional state is
uncertain, at times the patient awakes suddenly, and in full possession
of all his faculties; in other cases external means have to be employed
to restore life. Among many well-authenticated cases of this kind, two
of special interest are mentioned by Dr. Mayo. Cardinal Espinosa, the
minister of Philip II. of Spain, died after a short period of suffering.
His rank required that he should be embalmed, and his body was opened
for the purpose. At the moment when lung and heart were laid open to
view, the surgeon observed that the latter was still beating, and the
Cardinal, awaking, had actually strength enough to seize with his hand
the knife of the operator. The other case is that of a well-known French
writer, the Abbé Prévost, who fell down dead in the forest of Chantilly.
His apparently lifeless body was found, and carried to a priest's house
in the neighborhood. The surgeon ascribed his death to apoplexy; but
the authorities ordered a kind of coroner's inquest, and the body was
opened. During the operation the Abbé suddenly uttered a cry of
anguish--but it was too late!

If a certain number of such cases of apparent death has really given
rise to the faith in vampirism, then it is equally possible to suppose,
that this kind of trance--for which there may exist a special
predisposition in one or the other race--may become at times epidemic.
Persons of peculiar nervousness will be ready to be affected, and a
locality in which this has occurred may soon obtain an unenviable
reputation. Even where the epidemic does not appear in full force, a
disturbed state of the nervous system will be apt to lead to dreams by
night, and to gossip in the daytime, on the fatally attractive subject,
and the patient will soon dream, or really imagine, that a person who
has died of the disease has appeared to him by night, and drawn his
strength from him, or, in his excited fancy, sucked his life's blood. By
such means even the popular way of speaking of nocturnal visits made by
the "vampire's ghost" is not so entirely unfounded as would appear at
first sight, and the superstition is easily shown to be not altogether
absurd, but to be based upon a small substructure of actual truth.

It is remarkable, however, that the Germanic race has never furnished
any instances of vampirism, although their ancient faith in a Walhalla,
where their departed heroes feast sumptuously, and their custom to place
food in the graves of their friends would have seemed most likely to
reconcile them to the idea that men continue to live in their graves.

How sadly persistent, on the other hand, such superstitions are among
the lower races, and in specially ignorant communities, may be gathered
from the fact that, as late as 1861, two corpses were disinterred by the
peasants of a village of Galicia, and decapitated. The people believed
them to be vampires, and to have caused a long-protracted spell of bad


Even more fearful yet than vampirism is the disease, very common already
in the days of antiquity, which makes men think that they have changed
into beasts, and then act as such, according to the logic of insanity.
Petronius is probably the first to mention, in his "Feast of
Trimalchio," a case of lycanthropy, when Niceros relates how someone who
was journeying with him threw off his garments, changed into a wolf and
ran away into the forest. When he returned home, his account continues,
he found that a wolf had fallen upon his flock, but had been wounded by
a servant in the neck with a lance. Thereupon he goes to inquire after
his fellow-traveler, and finds him sick in bed with a physician by his
side, who binds up an ugly wound in his neck. The well-known writer took
this episode from the Arcadians, a rude nation of shepherds, whose
flocks were frequently attacked by wolves, and among whom stories of men
changed into wild beasts, were quite current. Nor must we forget, among
historic personages, the daughter of King Proetus of Argos, who believed
herself changed into a cow; and of Nebuchadnezzar, who according to his
own touching account "was driven from meat, did eat grass as oxen, and
his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like
eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's claws." (Daniel iv. 33.) The
early days of Christianity are naturally full of incidents of this kind,
but what is remarkable, zoanthropy was then already treated as a mere
delusion. The holy man Macarius once saw a large procession approaching
his hermitage in Egypt; it was headed by a number of persons who led a
large and imposing-looking woman by a bridle, and followed by a crowd of
people of all ages. When they came near they told his disciples that the
woman had been changed into a mare, and had thus remained for three days
and nights without food--would the saint pray over her and restore her
to her natural condition? The delusion was so forcibly contagious that
the disciples also forthwith saw a mare, and not a woman, and refused to
admit the animal to the presence of the hermit! Fortunately the latter
had retained his self-control; he rebuked his followers, saying: "You
are the real beasts, that imagine you see something which does not
exist. This woman has not been changed, but your eyes are deluded." Then
he poured holy water over her, and at once everybody saw her once more
in her natural shape. He dismissed her and her escort with the words:
"Go more frequently to church and take the holy sacrament; then you
will escape such fearful punishment."

During the Middle Ages a similar disease existed in many parts of
Europe; men were changed into dogs or wolves, sometimes as a divine
punishment for great crimes, at other times in consequence of a delusion
produced by Satan. Such unfortunate men walked on all fours, attacked
men and beasts, but especially children, killed and devoured them. They
actually terrified many people into believing as confidently in this
delusion as they believed in it themselves! For this is one of the
specially fearful magic phenomena of zoanthropy that it is apt to
produce in healthy persons the same delusion as in the sufferer. Many
cases also are recorded of persons lying in deep sleep, produced by
narcotic ointments, who, seeing visions, fancied that they were acting
like wolves. In the year 1598 such a disease raged as an epidemic in the
Jura mountains, till the French Parliament determined to make an end of
it by treating all the afflicted either as insane or as persons
possessed by the devil and therefore deserving instant death. Among
Slavic nations and the Magyars lycanthropy is so closely connected with
vampirism that it is not always easy to draw the line between the two
diseases. There can be no doubt, however, that it is merely a variety of
possession, arising from the same unhappy state in which dualism is
developed in the soul, and two wills contend with each other for
superiority to the grievous injury of mind and body. The only
distinctive feature is this, that in lycanthropy not only the functions
of the brains but also those of the skin are disordered, and hence an
impression arises that the latter is hairy and shaggy after the manner
of wild beasts.

The German Währwolf (were-wolf or man-wolf) is the same as the
lycanthropos of the Scythians and Greeks and the _versipellis_ of the
Romans; he was in German mythology connected with Woden. Hence,
probably, the readiness with which the disease during the Middle Ages
took hold of the minds of Germans; but at that period nearly all the
nations of Europe firmly believed in the reality of such changes.

As late even as the beginning of the sixteenth century cases of this
kind occurred in France, where the possessed were known as
_loups-garoux_. A young man of Besançon was thus brought before the
Councilor of State, _De l'Ancre_, at Bordeaux, and accused of roving
like a wild animal through the neighboring forests. He confessed readily
that he was a huntsman in the service of his invisible master, the
devil, who had changed him into a wolf and forced him to range by the
side of another more powerful wolf through the country. The poor fellow
shared the usual fate of his fellow-sufferers, who were either subjected
to a sharp treatment of exorcism or simply executed as heretical

In our day lycanthropy is almost entirely limited to Servia and
Wallachia, Volhynia and White Russia. There, however, the disease breaks
out frequently anew, and popular belief knows a variety of means by
which a man may be changed into a wolf; the animal differs, however,
from a genuine wolf in his docked tail and his marked preference for the
blood of young children.

In Abyssinia there exists, according to Pearce, a belief that men are
occasionally changed into hyenas--the wolves of that country--but this
sad privilege is limited to workers in clay and iron, called Booda among
the Amharas, who wear a gold earring of special form as a distinction
from other inferior castes.

It will thus be seen that, like all other varieties of possession,
zoanthropy also is simply a kind of insanity, and our amusement at the
marvelous conduct of werewolves will vanish, if we recall the entire
change produced in man by the loss of reason. In that sad condition he
endures fatigue, cold or heat, and hunger as no healthy man ever can
learn to do; he does not mind the severest castigation, for his body is
almost insensible, it ceases to be susceptible to contagious diseases
and requires, in sickness, double or treble doses of medicine. If we
once know the precise nature of an insane person's hallucination, his
actions will be apt to appear quite consistent, and thus lycanthropy
also not only produces the fine connection of a change into a wolf, but
causes the sufferer to conduct himself in all his ways like the animal
which he represents.



    "Great is the power of the hand."

    --ST. AUGUSTINE, _Op._, iv. 487.

Mesmer, who was the first to make the anæsthetic effects of certain
passages of the hand over the bodies of patients known to the public,
sought originally to explain them by the agency of electricity; but as
early as 1773 he ascribed them to magnetism. From that day he employed
magnets, and by passing them over the affected parts of his patients, he
performed remarkable cures for many years in the city of Vienna. He
looked upon the magnet as the physician, which cured the patient in the
same way in which it attracted iron. Soon after, however, he became
acquainted with the famous Father Gassner, of Ratisbon, who had obtained
precisely the same results, without a magnet, by simple manipulations,
and, henceforth, he also treated his patients with the hand only; but he
retained the old name, looking now upon himself, and others who were
endowed in the same manner, as possessing the powers of a strong magnet.
In the meantime one of his pupils, the Marquis de Puységur, had quite
accidentally discovered the peculiar nature of somnambulism, and with
rare foresight profited by the moments of clear consciousness which at
times interrupted the trance, in order to learn from his patients
themselves the means of curing their diseases. He had from that moment
devoted all the leisure of his life to the study of these singular but
most beneficial phenomena, employing only the simplest manipulations in
place of the more exciting means used by Mesmer, and doing an immense
amount of good by his judicious cures.

Mesmer, in the course of time, adopted the better method of his former
pupil, and now his system was complete. He used magnetism for purely
practical purposes: he cured diseases by throwing well-qualified persons
into the peculiar sleep produced by magnetizing them, and availed
himself of the effects of this half-sleep upon their varied
constitutions, for his curative purposes. At the same time, however, he
ascribed the influence which he claimed to have over persons whom he had
thus magnetized, to a most delicate, all-pervading medium; this, he
maintained, was the sole cause of motion, light, heat, and life itself
in the universe, and this he stated he was communicating by his process
of magnetizing in a sufficient degree to his patients to produce
startling but invariably beneficial results. It is well known how his
removal from Vienna, where he had begun his remarkable career, to Paris,
increased in almost equal proportions the number of enthusiastic
admirers, and of bitter adversaries. In spite of an unfavorable judgment
rendered by a committee of the Academy in 1784, his new doctrines
spread rapidly through all the provinces; so-called Harmonic Societies
were formed in almost every town, and numerous institutions sprang up
founded upon the new system of magnetizing patients. It is curious that
of the nine members of that committee, among whom Franklin was not the
least renowned, only one, the great savant Jussieu, refused to sign the
report "because it was founded upon a few isolated facts," and sent in a
separate memoir, in which he described animal heat as the universal
agent of life. Equally curious objections were made by others; thus in
another report of the Academy, the king was requested to prohibit the
practice of magnetism, because it was "dangerous to the morals of the
people," and in the great hospital of the Charité, magnetic treatment
was forbidden, because "the new system had caused for a long time warm
discussions between the best informed men of science!" Urged by repeated
petitions, the Academy appointed, in 1825, a second committee to
investigate the matter, which finally reported a firm conviction of the
genuineness and efficacy of magnetism, and recommended a further
examination of this important branch of psychology and natural science.
A permanent committee was thereupon directed to take charge of the
matter, before which a very large number of important facts were
authenticated; but in 1840, and subsequently, once more, unfavorable
reports were laid before the august body and adopted by small

In England magnetism met with fierce and violent opposition, the faculty
being no little incensed by this new and unexpected competitor for fees
and reputation. Dr. Elliotson, a professor in the University of London,
and director of a large hospital, had actually to give up his place,
because of the hostility engendered by his advocacy of the new doctrine.
Afterwards the controversy, though by no means less bitter, was carried
on with more courtesy, and the subject received, on the whole, all the
attention it deserved. Germany alone has legally sanctioned magnetism as
a scientific method within the range of the healing art, and the leading
powers, like Prussia, Austria, and Saxony, have admitted its practice in
public hospitals. Unfortunately, much deception and imposture appeared
from the beginning in company with the numerous genuine cases, and led
many eminent men to become skeptics. The Russian government has limited
the permission to practice by magnetic cure to "well-informed"
physicians; but the Holy Curia, the pope's authority, after admitting
magnetism, first as a well-established fact, has subsequently prohibited
it by a decree of the Inquisition (21st April, 1841) as conducive to
"infidelity and immorality." In spite of all these obstacles, magnetism,
in its various branches of somnambulism and clairvoyance, of mesmerism
and hypnotism, is universally acknowledged as a valuable doctrine, and
has led to the publication of a copious literature.

Magnetizers claim--and not without some show of reason--that their art
was not unknown to antiquity, and is especially referred to in Holy
Writ. They rest their claim upon the importance which has from time
immemorial been ascribed to the action of the hand as producing visions
and imparting the gift of prophecy. When Elisha was called upon to
predict the issue of the war against Moab, he sent for a minstrel, "and
it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the _hand_ of the Lord
came upon him." (2 Kings iii. 15.) In like manner "the _hand_ of the
Lord was upon Ezekiel" among the captives by the river of Cheber and he
prophesied (Ezekiel i. 3); years after he says again: "The _hand_ of the
Lord was upon me in the evening" (xxxiii. 22), and once more: "the
_hand_ of the Lord was upon me" (xl. 1). It is evident that according to
biblical usage in these cases the manner of acting attributed to God is
described after the usage prevailing among men, and that the "hand upon
men" represented the usual method of causing them to fall into a trance.
But this placing the hand upon a person was by no means confined to
cases of visions; it was employed also in blessings and in sacrifices,
in consecrations and miraculous cures. Daniel felt a hand touching him,
which "set me upon my knees and the palms of my hands" (Dan. x. 10),
while soon after the same hand "strengthened him" (17); and even in the
New Testament a high privilege is expressed by the words: "The _hand_ of
the Lord was with him." (Luke i. 66.) In other cases a finger is
substituted for the hand, as when the magicians of Pharaoh said: "This
is the finger of God" (Exodus viii. 19), and the two tables of testimony
are said to have been "written with the finger of God" (Exodus xxxi.
18); in the same manner Christ said: "If I with the finger of God cast
out devils." (Luke xi. 20.) What makes this reference to finger and hand
in Eastern magic and in biblical language peculiarly interesting is the
fact that neither Greeks nor Romans ever referred in like manner to such
an agency. It is evident that these nations, possessing the ancient
wisdom of the East and the revealed knowledge of the chosen people, were
alone fully acquainted with the power which the hand of man can exercise
under peculiar circumstances, and hence looked upon it in God also, as
the instrument by which visions were caused and miracles performed.
Hence, no doubt, also the mysterious hand, which from time immemorial
has been used as one of the emblems of supreme power, often called the
hand of justice, but evidently emblematic of the "hand of God," which
rests upon the monarch who rules "by the grace of God." Magnetizers
connect all these uses made of the hand with their own method, which
consists almost invariably in certain passes made with the whole hand or
with one or more fingers.

Whatever may be thought of this connection between the meaning of the
"hand" in biblical language, and the magnetism of our day, there can be
no doubt as to the fact that the ancients were already quite familiar
with the phenomena which have startled our century as something
entirely new. The so-called temple-sleep of the Greeks was almost
identical with modern somnambulism; the only essential difference being
that then the gods of Olympus were seen, and lent their assistance, in
the place of the saints of the Middle Ages, and the mediums of our own
day. Incense, mineral waters, narcotic herbs, and decoctions of
Strychnos or Halicacabum, were, according to Pliny, employed to produce
the peculiar sleep. ("Hist. Nat." l. xxi. ch. 31.) The patients fell
asleep while lying on the skins of recently killed animals in the
Temples of Æsculapius, and other beneficent deities, and in their sleep
had dreams with revelations prescribing the proper remedies. The priests
also, sometimes, dreamt for their visitors--for a consideration--or, at
least, interpreted the dreams of others. Even magnetism by touch was
perfectly familiar to the ancients, as appears from words of Plautus:
"_Quid, si ego illum tractim tangam, ut dormiat?_" (What if I were to
touch him at intervals so that he should fall asleep?) Plutarch even
speaks of magnetizing by touching with the feet, as practised by
Pyrrhus. Other writers discovered that the Sibyls of Rome, as well as
the Druids of the Celts, had been nothing more than well-trained
somnambulists, and ere long distinct traces of similar practices were
found in the annals of the Egyptians also.

One of the earliest cases, which was thoroughly investigated, and
carefully watched, is reported by Dr. Pététin, of Lyon, in his famous
"Memoir on Catalepsy and Somnambulism." (Lyon, 1787.) His patient was a
lady who had nursed her child with such utter disregard of her own
health that her whole system was undermined. After an attack of most
violent convulsions, accompanied with apparent madness, she suddenly
began to laugh, to utter a number of clever and witty sayings, and
finally broke out into beautiful songs; but a terrible cough with
hemorrhages ended the crisis. Similar attacks occurred with increasing
frequency, during which she could read, with closed eyes, what was
placed in her hand, state hour and minute on a watch by merely touching
the crystal, and mention the contents of the pockets of bystanders. She
stated that she saw these things with varied distinctness; some clearly,
others as through a mist, and still others only by a great effort. The
reporter expresses his belief that the stomach in this case performed
all the functions of the senses, and that the epidermis, with its
network of fine nerves, acted in place of the usual organs. Pététin was
also the first to enter into direct relations with his somnambulist; he
could induce her at will to become clairvoyant, and make himself
understood by her whenever he directed his voice toward the only
sensitive part. Gradually, however, it was discovered that the degree of
close communication (_rapport_) between the two parties depended as
largely on the correspondence of character between them as on the energy
of will in the magnetizer and the power of imagination possessed by the
patient. Deleuse, one of the professors of the _Jardin des Plantes_, in
Paris, gave much attention to the subject, and in his numerous
publications maintained the existence of a magnetic fluid by the side of
the superior power with which some men are endowed, and that both were
employed in influencing others. He was frequently, and violently,
attacked on the score of his convictions, especially after several cases
of cunning deception had become known. For very soon the innate desire
for notoriety led many persons to pretend somnambulism, and skillfully
to imitate the phenomena of clairvoyance, displaying, as is not
unfrequently the case, in these efforts a skill and a perseverance which
would have secured them great success in any legitimate enterprise. A
number of volumes appeared, mostly in Germany, professing to contain
accounts of marvelous cures achieved by magnetism, which upon
examination proved to be altogether fictitious. France, however,
abounded more than any other country with impostors, and every kind of
deception and cheating was carried on there, at the beginning of this
century, under the cloak of mesmerism. Young girls, stimulated by large
rewards, and well trained by hospital surgeons, would submit to brutal
treatment, and profess to reveal, during well-simulated trances,
infallible remedies for grievous diseases. The followers of Mesmer
degraded his art by making it a merry pastime or a lucrative exhibition,
without regard to truthfulness, and without reverence for science. Even
political intriguers, and financial speculators, availed themselves of
the new discovery; precisely as in our day spirit-rapping and kindred
tricks are used. In England, and in the Union, mesmerism fared little
better; especially with us, it soon fell into the hands of quacks and
charlatans who made it a source of profit; at the same time it assumed
various new names, as, electro-biology, hypnotism, and others.

The idea that somnambulism was the effect of angelic or demoniac
influences was once largely entertained, but has long since given way to
more scientific views. But it cannot be said that the true nature of the
active principle has yet been fully ascertained, and so far the results
of mesmerism must be classed among magic phenomena. What is alone
clearly established is the power which the strong will of the magnetizer
evidently exercises over the patient, and the fact that this energy acts
through the hands as its organs. The patient, on his side, undergoes by
such an exercise of a foreign will a complete change of his
individuality; the action of his brain is modified and he falls into
magnetic sleep. Many intelligent somnambulists have distinctly stated
that they obey the will of their master and not his hands; that
manipulation, in fact, merely serves to communicate this will to their
inner sense. Whether the connection which evidently exists between the
two parties is established merely for moral agencies or by an infinitely
subtle fluid, which may possibly be the Od of Baron Reichenbach--this
question remains as yet undecided. So much only is quite certain that
neither the will alone suffices to produce the magic phenomena of
magnetism, nor heat and electricity, as the physicist Parrot maintained;
as little can electro-magnetism, unaided, be the cause of such results,
though the great Robiano stoutly asserted its power; man is a dualism of
spirit and body, and both must be influenced alike and together, in
order to obtain perfect mastery. The most plausible explanation yet
offered by men of science is, that by the will of the magnetizer his own
nervous and mental system assumes a certain condition which changes that
of the subject into one of opposite polarity, paralyzes some of his
cerebral functions and causes him to fall into a state resembling sleep.
The stronger and healthier man affects the nervous system of a feeble
and less healthy man according to his own more or less strongly marked
individuality, and the spiritual influence naturally develops itself in
the same proportions as the material influence. Hence the thoughts and
feelings, the convictions and the faith of the magnetizer are reflected
upon the mind of his subject. Even Mesmer himself had not yet reached
this point; he was, up to his death, content to ascribe the power of the
magnetizer to the waves of an universal fluid set in motion by the
superior energy of specially endowed persons. According to his doctrine
thoughts were conveyed by means of this mysterious fluid in precisely
the same manner in which light and sound are borne onward on the waves
of the air that surrounds us. They proceed from the brain and the nerves
of one person and reach those of another person in this imperceptible
manner; to dispatch them on their errand, volition is required; to
receive them, willingness and a certain natural predisposition, since
there are men incapable of being reached in this way, as there are
others who are deprived of sight or hearing. As the conveying fluid is
far more subtle than the thinnest air, permeates the whole universe and
bears a close resemblance to the fluid which sets our nerves in motion,
there is no other limit to the effects of volition on the part of the
so-called magnetizer than the strength of his will. If he possesses this
in a sufficiently high degree, he can affect those who are subject to
his superiority even at the greatest distance. Moreover, if his
influence is sufficiently effective the somnambulist acquires new and
heretofore unknown powers; he sees the interior of his own body,
recognizes its defects and diseases, and by a newly-awakened instinct,
perceives what is necessary to restore its perfect order. Such were the
views of Mesmer.

Besides this theory a number of others have been published from time to
time, by men of science of almost all countries--even modern
philosophers, like the German Schopenhauer, having entered the lists in
defense of their favorite ideas. The most striking view published in
recent times, is found in the works of Count Robiano, a learned abbé and
a brilliantly successful magnetizer. He ascribes all the phenomena of
somnambulism to the purely physical activity of the nerves, and proposes
to call his new physical science neururgy. He identifies the nervous
fluid with galvanism and voltaic electricity, and asserts that by a
galvanic battery all the results can be obtained which mesmerism claims
as its own. He also states that galvanic rings, bracelets, belts and
necklaces cause immediately somnambulism in well-qualified persons,
while carbon held before the nostrils of somnambulists in deep sleep,
awakes them instantly, and at the same time releases limbs held in
cataleptic rigidity. Alabaster, soda, and wax have similar effects, but
less promptly, and the wind from a pair of bellows has equal
power. According to his theory, currents of what he calls the
galvanic-neururgic fluid, are capable of producing all the well-known
symptoms and phenomena of thought from idiocy to genius, and from
unconscious sleep to the highest excitement; the process by which these
results can be obtained is a suspension of the vital equilibrium by
disease, intoxication, abstinence, long-continued fasting and prayer and
the like. If the marvelous fluid is unequally distributed through the
system, catalepsy ensues. The novelty and force of Robiano's doctrines
attracted much attention, but a series of experiments conducted by
eminent men soon proved that galvanism alone produced in no instance
somnambulism, but invariably required the aid of volition, which the
learned Italian in his modesty had probably underrated, if not
altogether overlooked.

It is a matter more of curiosity than of real interest that the Chinese
have--now for nearly eleven hundred years--believed in an inherent
power possessed by every human being, called yu-yang, which is identical
with an universal yu-yang. According to this view, every person endowed
with the proper ability can dispose of his own yu-yang and diffuse a
portion of it over others, so as to cure their infirmities. The French
missionary Amyot communicated this to Puységur (_Du Magnétisme Animal_,
Paris, 1807, p. 387), and looked upon the yu-yang as the universal vital
power which produces everything.

Before we dismiss any such theory--in China or nearer home--with a
supercilious smile, it is well to recall the reception which the first
revelation of electricity in the human body met among our savants. The
doctrine had to pass through the usual three stages of contempt,
controversy and final adoption. John Wesley, more than a hundred years
ago, said of it: "With what vehemence has it been opposed! Sometimes, by
treating it with contempt, as if it were of little or no use; sometimes
by arguments such as they were, and sometimes by such cautions against
its ill effects, as made thousands afraid to meddle with it." Now, every
elementary text-book teaches that all created living bodies are
electric, and that some persons, animals, and plants are so in a very
high degree. To establish this truth poor puss has had to suffer much in
order to give out electric sparks, and the sensitive plant has had to
show how its leaves

    "With quick horror fly the neighboring hand,"

which draws from them the electricity of which it contains more than
other plants. Physicians have learnt that a person who has the small-pox
cannot be electrified, the body being fully charged and refusing to
receive more electricity, while sparks may be drawn from the body of a
patient dying with cholera. Now this once despised power, in the shape
of voltaic electricity, adorns our tables with electro-plate works of
art, carries our thoughts around the globe, blasts rocks, fires cannons
and torpedoes, and even rings the bells of our houses. Now little chain
batteries, that can be carried in the waistcoat pockets, produce
powerful shocks and cure grievous diseases, while tiny bands, which yet
can decompose water in a test-tube, are worn by thousands as a
protection against intense suffering and utter prostration. What in this
case happened to electricity may very well be the fate of the new power
also, which is the true agent in all that we carelessly call magnetism.

Somnambulism and clairvoyance, by whatever means they may have been
caused, differ in this from dreams and feverish fancies, that the outer
senses are rendered inactive and in their place peculiar inner life
begins to act, while the subject is perfectly conscious. The magic
phenomena differ naturally infinitely according to the varying natures
of the patients. In the majority of cases sleep is the only result of
magnetizing; a few persons become genuine somnambulists and begin to
speak, first very indistinctly, because the organs of speech are
partially locked and the consciousness is not fully aroused. As the
spasms cease, speech becomes freer, and as the mind clears up, the
thoughts also reveal themselves more distinctly. These symptoms are
ordinarily accompanied by others of varying character, from simple heat
in the extremities and painful sobbing to actual syncope. In almost all
such cases, however, the nervous system is suffering from a violent
shock, and this produces spasms of more or less appalling violence. The
temper of the sufferers--for such they are all to some degree--varies
from deep despondency to exulting blissfulness, but is as changeable as
that of children, and resembles but too frequently the capricious and
unintelligible mental condition of insane persons.

Those who are for the first time thrown into magnetic sleep generally
feel after awaking as if a great change had taken place in them; they
are apt to remain serious, and apparently plunged in deep thought for
several days. If their case is in unskillful hands, nervous disorders
are rarely avoided; phantastic visions may be seen, and convulsions and
more threatening symptoms even may occur. Youth is naturally more
susceptible to the influence of magnetism than riper years; really old
persons have never yet been put to sleep. In like manner women are more
easily controlled than men, and hence more capable of being magnetized
than of magnetizing others. If men appear more frequently in the annals
of this new branch of magic than women, this is due merely to the fact
that men appear naturally, and so far at least voluntarily more
frequently in public statements than women. The latter, moreover, are
very rarely found able to magnetize men, simply because they are less in
the habit of exerting their will for the purpose of influencing others;
the exceptions were mostly so-called masculine women. Over their own
sex, however, they are easily able to obtain full control.

Among the curious symptoms accompanying the magic phenomena of this
class, the following deserve being mentioned. A distinguished physician,
Dr. Heller, examined the blood corpuscules of a person in magnetic sleep
and found that their shape was essentially modified; they were raised
and pointed so as to bear some resemblance to mulberries; at the same
time they exhibited a vibrating motion. Another symptom frequently
observed in mesmerism are electric shocks, which produce sometimes a
violent trembling in the whole person before the beginning of magnetic
sleep and after it has ceased. As many as four thousand such shocks have
been counted in an hour; they are especially frequent in hysterical
women and then accompanied by severe pain, in men they are of rarer
occurrence. Finally, it appears from a number of well-authenticated
cases that magnetic convulsions are contagious, extending even to
animals. Persons suffering with catalepsy have more than once been
compelled to kill pet cats because the latter suffered in a similar
manner whenever the attacks came, and the same has been noticed in
favorite dogs which were left in the room while magnetic cures were
performed. This is all the more frequently noticed as many magnetizers
look upon convulsions as efforts made by nature to restore the system to
a healthy condition, and hence excite in their patients convulsions
without magnetizing them fully.

A new doctrine concerning the magic phenomena of magnetism establishes a
special force inherent in all inorganic substances, and calls it
Siderian. This theory is the result of the observation that certain
substances, like water and metal, possess a special power of producing
somnambulism, and at one time a peculiar apparatus, called _baquet_, was
much in use, by means of which several persons, connected with each
other and with a vessel filled with water and pieces of metal, were
rendered clairvoyant. The whole subject has not yet been fully
investigated, and hence the conclusions drawn from isolated cases must
be looked upon as premature. It has, however, been established beyond
doubt that metals have a peculiar power over sensitive persons, in their
natural sleep as well as in the magnetic sleep. Many somnambulists are
painfully affected by gold, others by iron; a very sensitive patient
could, after an instant's touch, distinguish even rare metals like
bismuth and cobalt by the sensations which they produced when laid upon
her heart. Dr. Brunner, when professor of physics in Peru, had a patient
who could not touch iron without falling into convulsions, and was made
clairvoyant by simply taking her physician's pocket-knife in her hand.

This Siderian or Astral force, so called from a presumed influence
exercised by the heavenly bodies, as well as by all inorganic
substances, admits of no isolation, although it is possessed in varying
degrees by certain metals and minerals. It has no effect even upon the
electrometer or the magnetic needle; its force is radiating, quite
independent of light, but considerably increased by heat. Persons
magnetized by the mysterious force of the _baquet_ have, however, an
astonishing power over the magnetic needle and can make it deflect by
motion, fixed glance, or even mere volition. In _Galignani's Messenger_
(25th of October, 1851) the case of Prudence Bernard in Paris is
mentioned, who forced the needle to follow the motions of her head.

Whatever we may think of the value of this theory, it cannot be denied
that the effect which certain physical processes going on in the
atmosphere have on our body and mind alike is very striking and yet
almost entirely unknown. Science is leisurely gathering up facts which
will no doubt in the end furnish us a clue to many phenomena which we
now call magic, or even supernatural. Thus almost every hour of the day
has its peculiarity in connection with Nature: at one hour the
barometer, at another the thermometer reaches its maximum; at other
periods magnetism is at its highest or the air fullest of vapor, and to
these various influences the diseases of men stand in close relation.
When Auroras are seen frequently the atmosphere is found to be
surcharged with electricity; they are intimately connected with gastric
fevers, and according to some physicians, even with typhus and cholera.
It has also been ascertained that the progress of the cholera and the
plague--perhaps also of common influenza--coincides accurately with the
isogonic line; these diseases disappear as soon as the eastward
declination of the magnetic needle ceases. In recent times a
correspondence of the spots in the sun with earth-magnetism has also
been observed. In like manner it has been established that continued
positive electricity of the air, producing ozone in abundance, is apt to
cause catarrhs, inflammations, and rheumatism, while negative
electricity causes nervous fevers and cholera. Even the moon has
recovered some of its former importance in its relations to the human
body, and although the superstitions of past ages with their absurd
exaggerations have long since been abandoned, certain facts remain as
evidences of a connection between the moon and some diseases. Thus the
paroxysms of lunatics, epileptics, and somnambulists are undoubtedly in
correspondence with the phases of the moon; madmen rave most furiously
when the latter is full, and its phases determine with astonishing
regularity the peculiar affections of women, as was triumphantly proven
by the journal kept with admirable fidelity during the long life of Dr.
Constantine Hering of Philadelphia.

Another name given to these phenomena is the Hypnotism of the English.
(Braid, "Neurohypnology," London, 1843.) This theory is based upon the
fact that sensitive persons can be rendered clairvoyant by looking
fixedly at some small but bright object held close to their face, and by
continuing for some time to fix the mind upon the same object after the
eyelids have closed from sheer weariness. The method of producing this
magnetic sleep, and some of the symptoms peculiar to mesmerized persons,
has since been frequently varied. Dodds makes the patient take a disk of
zinc, upon which a small disk of copper is laid, into his hand, and
regard them fixedly; thus he produces what he calls electro-biology.
Catton, in Manchester, England, prefers a gentle brushing of the
forehead, and by this simple means causes magnetic sleep. Braid's
experiments, in which invariably over-excitement of nerves was followed
by torpor, rigidity, and insensibility, have since been repeated by
eminent physicians with a view to produce anæsthesis during painful
operations. They have met with perfect success; and the removal of the
shining object, fresh air, and slight frictions, sufficed to restore
consciousness. The same results have been obtained in France, where,
according to a report made to the French Academy, in 1859, by the
renowned Dr. Velpeau, persons induced to look at a shining object, held
close between their eyes, began to squint violently, and in a few
moments to fall, utterly unconscious and insensible, into magnetic
sleep. Maury explains the process as one of vertigo, which itself again
is caused by the pressure of blood upon the brain, and adds, that any
powerful impression produced upon the retina may have the same effect.
Hence, no doubt, the _mal occhio_ of the Italians, inherited from the
evil eye of the ancients; hence the often almost marvelous power which
some men have exercised by the mere glance of the eye. The fixed look of
the magnetizer, which attracts the eye of the patient, and holds it, as
it were, spell-bound, has very much the same effect, and when this look
is carefully cultivated it may put others beside themselves--as was the
case with Urbain Graudier, who could, at any time, cause his arms to
fall into a trance by merely fixing his eyes upon them for a few

From all these experiments we gather, once more, that men can, by a
variety of means, which are called magnetism or mesmerism, influence
others who are susceptible, till the latter fall into magnetic sleep,
have cataleptic attacks, or become clairvoyant. It is less certain that,
as many assert, these results are obtained by means of a most subtle, as
yet unknown, fluid, which the magnetizer causes to vibrate in his own
mind, and which passes from him, by means of his hands, into the
patient, where it produces effects corresponding to those felt by the
principal. To accomplish even this, it is absolutely necessary that the
magnetizer should not only possess a higher energy than his patient, but
also stand to him in the relation of the positive pole to the negative.
The extent of success is measurable by the strength of will on one hand,
and the degree of susceptibility on the other; both may be infinitely
varied, from total absence to an overwhelming abundance. Practice, at
least, however, aids the magnetizer effectually, and certain French and
Italian masters have obtained surprising results. The most striking of
these is still the cataleptic state, which they cause at will.
Breathing, pulsation, and digestion continue uninterrupted, but the
muscles are no longer subject to our will; they cease to be active, and
hence the patient remains immovable in any position he may be forced to

The general symptoms produced by magnetizing are uniformly the same: as
soon as a sufficient number of passes have been made from the head
downward the patient draws a few deep inhalations, and then follow
increased animal heat and perspiration, the effect of greater activity
of the nerves, while pain ceases and cheerfulness succeeds despondency.
If the passes are continued, these symptoms increase in force, produce
their natural consequences, and, the functions becoming normal, recovery
takes place. Magnetic sleep is frequently preceded by slight
feverishness, convulsive trembling and fainting. The eyelids, half or
entirely closed, begin to tremble, the eyeballs turn upward and inward,
and the pupils become enlarged and insensible to light. The features
change in a striking manner, peculiar to this kind of sleep, and easily
recognized. After several experiments of this kind have been made upon
susceptible persons, the outward sleep begins to be accompanied by an
inner awakening, at first in a half-dreamy state and gradually more
fully, till conversation can be attempted.

Contrary to the general impression, faith does not seem to be an
essential element of success, at least on the part of the patient, for
infants and very young children have been rendered clairvoyant as well
as grown persons. On the other hand, natural susceptibility is
indispensable, for Deleuse (_Déf. du Magnétisme_, p. 156) states that in
his extended practice he found only one out of twenty persons fit to be
magnetized. Of those whom he could influence, only one in twenty could
converse in his sleep, and of five of this class not more than one
became fully clairvoyant. Certain persons, though well endowed, impress
their patients unfavorably, cause a sensation of cold instead of heat in
their system, and produce a feeling of strong aversion. The most
remarkable feature in all these relations, however, is the fact that the
patient not unfrequently affects the magnetizer, and this in the most
extraordinary manner. One physician took into the hand with which he had
touched a dying person, two finches; they immediately sickened and died
a few days later. Another, a physically powerful and perfectly healthy
man, who was treating a patient suffering of _tic douloureux_ by means
of magnetism, became unwell after a few days, and on the seventh day
fell himself a victim to that painful disease, till he had to give up
the treatment. He handed his patient over to a brother physician, who
suffered in the same manner, and actually died in a short time.

After continued practice has strengthened the magnetizer, his "passes"
often become unnecessary, and he can at last, under favorable
circumstances, produce magnetic sleep by a simple glance or even the
mere unuttered volition. Some physicians had only to say Sleep! and
their patient fell asleep; others were able to move the sleepers from
their beds by a slight touch with the tip of the thumb. One of this
class, after curing a poor boy of catalepsy, retained such perfect
control over him that he only needed to point at him with his finger, or
to let him touch some metal which he had magnetized, in order to make
him fall down as if thunderstruck. The great German writer, known as
Jean Paul, relates of himself that he, "in a large company and by merely
looking at her fixedly, caused a Mrs. K. twice to fall almost asleep and
to make her heart beat and her color go, till S. had to help her." The
Abbé Faria, who seems to have been specially endowed with such power,
would magnetize perfect strangers by suddenly stretching out his hands
and saying in an authoritative tone: Sleep, I will it! He had a
formidable competitor afterwards in Hébert, who played almost at will
with a large number of spectators in his crowded hall, making them
follow him wherever he led, or causing them to fall asleep by simply
making passes over the inside of their hats. In the case of young girls
he produced rigidity of members with great facility, and then caused
them to assume any position he chose; his patients were utterly helpless
and powerless. Dupotet, already mentioned, possessed similar influence
over others; he once magnetized an athletic man of ripe years, by merely
walking around the chair on which he was seated, and forced him to turn
with him by jerks. On another occasion he made a white chalk-mark on the
floor, and then requested a gentleman to put both his feet upon the
spot; while he remained quietly standing by the side of his friends.
After a few minutes the stranger began to shut his eyes, and his body
trembled and swayed to and fro, till it sank so low that the head hung
down to the hips--at last Dupotet loosened the spell by upward passes.
An Italian, Ragazzoni, excited in 1859, no small sensation by his
remarkable success as a magnetizer. Unlike other physicians, he used an
abundance of gestures to accompany the active play of his expressive
features, and yet by merely breathing upon persons he could check their
respiration and the circulation of their blood; in like manner he caused
the chest to swell and paralyzed single limbs or the whole body. He
pushed needles through the hand or the skin of the forehead without
causing a sign of pain; he enabled his patients to guess his thoughts,
and set them walking, running or dancing, although they were in one room
and he in another. When he had paralyzed their senses, burning sulphur
did not affect their smell, nor brilliant light the open pupil; the
ringing of a large bell close to the ear and the firing of a pistol
remained unheard. In fine, he repeated all the experiments already made
by Puységur with his patient, Victor, but generally without the use of
passes. (Schopenhauer, _Ueber d. Willen in d. Natur._ 1867, p. 102.)
Maury, who has given a most interesting and trustworthy account of
similar cases (_Revue des Deux Mondes_, 1860, t. 25), states in speaking
of General Noizet, that the latter caused him to fall asleep by saying:
"_Dormes!_" Immediately a thick veil fell upon his eyes, he felt weak,
began to perspire, and felt a strong pressure upon the abdomen. A second
experiment, however, was less successful.

Besides passes, a variety of other means have been employed to produce
magnetic sleep and kindred phenomena. Dr. Bendsea, one of the earlier
practitioners, frequently used metal mirrors or even ordinary
looking-glasses; another Dr. Barth, maintained that by touching or
irritating any part of the outer skull, the underlying portions of the
brains could be excited. By thus pressing upon the organ of love of
children, his patients would at once begin to think of children, and
often caress a cushion. In this theory he is supported by Haddock, who
first discovered that the magnetizer's will could force his patient to
substitute his fancies for the reality, and, for instance, to believe a
handkerchief to be a pet dog or an infant, and an empty glass to be
filled with such liquids as he suggested. The influence in such cases
must, however, be rather ascribed to the fact that the magnetizers were
also phrenologists, than to the presumed organs themselves.

It must lastly be mentioned that some persons claim to possess the power
to magnetize themselves, and Dupotet, a trustworthy authority in such
matters, supports the assertion. A case is mentioned in the _Journal de
l'âme_ (iv. p. 103), of a man who could hypnotize himself from childhood
up, by merely fixing his eye for some time upon a certain point; in
later years, probably by too frequent excitement of this kind, he was
apt to fall into trances and to see visions.

The sympathetic relations which by magnetism are established between two
or more persons who are in a state of somnambulism or clairvoyance, is
commonly called _rapport_, although there is no apparent necessity for
preferring a French word. The closest relations exist naturally between
the magnetizer and his subject, and the intensity of the rapport varies,
of course, with the energy of will of the one, and the susceptibility of
the patient of the other. The same rapport exists, however, often
between the patients of the same magnetizer, and may be increased by
merely joining hands, or a strong effort of will on the part of the
physician. It has often been claimed that mesmerism produces
exceptionally by _rapport_ what in twins is the effect of a close
natural resemblance and contemporaneousness of organization.
Clairvoyants endowed with the highest powers which have yet been
observed, thus see not only their own body as if it were transparent,
but can in like manner watch what is going on within the bodies of
others, provided they are brought into _rapport_ with them, and hence
their ability to prescribe for their ailments. Puységur was probably the
first to discover this peculiarity: he was humming to himself a
favorite air while magnetizing a peasant boy, and suddenly the latter
began to sing the same air with a loud voice. Haddock's patients gave
all the natural signs of pain in different parts of the body, when he
was struck or pinched, while at the very time they were themselves
insensible to pain. Dr. Emelin found that when he held his watch to his
right ear, a female patient of his heard the ticking in her left ear; if
he held it to her own ear she heard nothing. He was, also, not a little
astonished when another patient, in a distant town to which he traveled,
revealed to him a whole series of professional meditations in which he
had been plunged during his journey. And yet such a knowledge of the
magnetizer's thoughts is nothing uncommon in well-qualified subjects who
have been repeatedly magnetized. Mrs. Crowe mentions the case of a
gentleman who was thus treated while he was at Malvern and his physician
at Cheltenham. He was lying in magnetic sleep, when he suddenly sprang
up, clapped his hands together, and broke out into loud laughter. His
physician was written to and replied that on the same day he had been
busy thinking of his patient, when a sudden knock at the door startled
him and made him jump and clap his hands together. He then laughed
heartily at his folly! (I. p. 140.) Dupotet once saw a striking
illustration of the _rapport_ which may exist between two patients of
the same magnetizer, even where the two are unknown to each other.

He was treating some of his patients in a hospital in St. Petersburg, by
means of magnetism, and found, to his surprise, that whenever he put one
of them to sleep in the upper story, the other in the lower story would
also instantly drop asleep, although she could not possibly be aware of
what was going on upstairs. This happened, moreover, not once, but
repeatedly, and for weeks in succession. If both were asleep when he
came on his daily round, he needed only arouse one to hear the other
awake with a start and utter loud cries.

Magnetic sleep generally does not begin immediately, but after some
intermediate danger; most frequently ordinary sleep serves as a bridge
leading to magnetic sleep, and yet the two are entirely different
conditions. When at last sleep is induced, various degrees of
exceptional powers are exhibited, which are evidences of an inner sense
that has been awakened, while the outer senses have become inactive. The
patient is, however, utterly unconscious of the fact that his eyes are
closed, and believes he sees through them as when he is awake. When
somnambulists are asked why they keep their eyes shut, they answer: "I
do not know what you mean; I see you perfectly well." The highest
degree, but rarely developed in specially favored persons, consists of
perfect clairvoyance accompanied by a sense of indescribable bliss; in
this state the spiritual and moral features of the patient assume a form
of highest development, visions are beheld, remote and future things are
discerned, and other persons may be influenced, even if they are at a
considerable distance. It is in this condition that persons in magnetic
sleep exhibit in the highest degree the magic phenomena of magnetism.
The latter are generally accompanied by a sensation of intense light,
which at times becomes almost painful, and has to be allayed by the
physician, especially when it threatens to interfere with the
unconscious conversations of the patient. This enjoyment has, however,
to be paid for dearly, for it exhausts the sleeper, and in many
instances it so closely resembles the struggle of the soul when parting
from the body in death, that dissolution seems to be impending.
Somnambulists themselves maintain that such magnetic sleep shortens
their lives by several years, and has to be interrupted in time to
prevent it from becoming fatal. Recollection rarely survives magnetic
sleep, but after awaking, vague and indistinct impulses continue, which
stand in some connection with the incidents of such sleep. A well known
magnetizer, Mouillesaux, once ordered a patient, while sunk in magnetic
sleep, to go on the following day and call on a person whom she did not
like. The promise was given reluctantly, but not mentioned again after
she awoke. To test the matter, the physician went, accompanied by a few
friends, on the next day, to that person's house, and, to their great
surprise, the patient was seen to walk up and down anxiously before the
door, and at last to enter, visibly embarrassed. Mouillesaux at once
followed her and explained the matter; she told him that from the moment
of her rising in the morning she had been haunted by the idea that she
ought to go to this house, till her nervousness had become so painful as
to force her to go on her unwelcome errand. (_Exposé des Cures, etc._,
iii. p. 70.)

The power to perceive things present without the use of the ordinary
organs, and to become aware of events happening at a distance, has been
frequently ascribed to an additional sense, possibly the Common Sense of
Aristotle. Its fainter operations are seen in the almost marvelous power
possessed by bats to fly through minute meshes of silk nets, stretched
out for the purpose, even when deprived of sight, and to find their way
to their nests without a moment's hesitation. Cuvier ascribed this
remarkable power to their exquisitely developed sense of touch, which
would make them aware of an almost imperceptible pressure of the air;
but while this might explain their avoiding walls and trees, it could
not well apply to slender silk threads. Another familiar illustration is
found in the perfectly amazing ability often possessed by blind, or
blind and deaf persons, who distinguish visitors by means neither
granted nor known to their more fortunate brethren. It is generally
believed that in such cases the missing senses are supplied by a
superior development of the remaining senses, but even this assertion
has never yet been fully proved, nor if proved, would it supply a key to
some of the almost marvelous achievements of blind people.

This new or general sense seems only to awaken in exceptional cases and
under peculiar circumstances. That it never shows itself in healthy life
is due to the simple fact that its power is then obscured by the
unceasing activity of the ordinary senses. A peculiar, and as yet
unexplained feature of this power is the tendency to ascribe its
results, not to the ordinary organs, but by a curious transposition to
some other part of the body, so that persons in magnetic sleep believe,
as the magnetizer may choose, that they see, or smell, or hear by means
of the finger-tips, the pit of the stomach, the forehead, or even the
back of the head. It is true that savants like Alfred Maury (_Revue des
Deux Mondes_, 1860, t. 25) and Dr. Michéa ascribe these new powers only
to an increased activity of the senses; but nothing is gained by this
reasoning, as such an astounding increase of the irritability of the
retina or the tympanum is as much of a magic phenomenon as the presumed
new sense. The simple explanation is that it is not the eye which sees
nor the ear which hears, but that images and sound-waves are carried by
these organs to the great nervous centre, where we must look for the
true source of all our perceptions. If in magnetic sleep the same images
and waves can be conveyed by other means, the result will be precisely
the same as if the patient was observing with open eyes and ears.

A lady treated by Despine thus heard with the palm of her hand and read
by means of the finger-tips, which she passed rapidly over the letters
presented to her in her sleep. At the same time she invariably ascribed
the sensations she experienced to the natural senses; flowers, for
instance, laid down unseen by her, so as barely to touch her fingers,
caused her to draw in air through the nostrils and to exclaim: Ah, how
sweet that is! and if objects were placed against the sole of her foot,
she would often exclaim: "What is that? I cannot see it distinctly."
Somnambulists can, hence, carry on domestic work in the dark with the
same success as in broad daylight, and a patient whose case has been
most carefully investigated, could hem the finest linen handkerchiefs by
holding the needle to her brow, high above her eyes. Thus persons have
seen by means of almost every part of the body, a fact which has led
more than one distinguished physiologist to assume that, under special
circumstances, all the papillæ of nerves in the epidermis may become
capable of conveying the sensual perceptions ordinarily assigned only to
certain organs, as the eye or the ear. Even this supposition, however,
would not suffice to explain the ability possessed by some magnetized
persons to see and hear by means of their fingers, even without touching
the objects or when separated from the latter by an intervening wall.

The highest magic phenomena connected with magnetic sleep consist in the
perception of hidden things and in the influence exercised over persons
at a distance. Only a few of these can be explained by natural laws and
by the increased power of the senses frequently granted to peculiarly
constituted or diseased persons. The senses, on the contrary, cease to
operate, and man, for a time, becomes endowed with a higher power, which
is probably part and portion of his spiritual being, as made after the
image of the Most High, but obscured and rendered inoperative by the
subjection of the soul to the earthborn body. Nor is this power always
under his control; as if to mark its supernatural character, the patient
very often perceives what is perfectly indifferent to himself, and is
forced, almost against his own will, to witness or foresee events, the
bearing of which he cannot discern. Generally, therefore, the importance
of these revelations is of less interest than the manner in which they
are made, which is invariably of the kind we call magic. This is still
further attested by the difficulty, which is almost always felt, of
translating them, as it were, into ordinary language, and hence the many
allegoric and symbolic forms under which they are made known. Future
events are often not seen, but read in a newspaper or heard as recited
by strangers; in other cases they are apparently imparted by the spirits
of deceased persons. A very frequent form is the impression that the
soul leaves the body and, pursuing the track of a person to whom the
magnetizer points, with all the fidelity and marvelous accuracy of a
well-trained dog, finally reaches him and sees him and his surroundings.
Nor is the distance a matter of indifference; like the ordinary senses,
this new sense also seems to have its laws and its limits, and if the
task is too heavy and the distance too great, the perception remains
vague and indefinite. Most important of all is the fact that, unlike
spiritual visions, magnetism never enables the sleeper to go beyond the
limits of our earthly home. On the other hand, time is no more an
obstacle than space, and genuine somnambulists have seen past and future
events as well as distant scenes. Mistakes, however, occur here as with
all our other senses; as healthy persons see amiss or hear amiss, so
magnetic sleepers also are not unfrequently mistaken--errors to which
they are all the more liable as the impressions received by magic powers
have to be translated into the language adapted to ordinary senses.

Among somnambulists of this class Alexis is one of the best known, and
has left us an account of many experiments in his _Explication du
Sommeil Magnétique_. Alexis was once put into magnetic sleep by a friend
of Dr. Mayo, and then ordered to go to Boppard, on the Rhine, and look
for him; Alexis, after some hesitation, stated that he had found him,
and described--although he had never seen him before--his appearance and
dress, not only, but also the state of mind in which he was at that
moment, all of which proved afterward to be perfectly correct. Alexis
declared that his perceptions varied very much in clearness, and that
his power to see friends at a distance depended largely on the affection
he felt for them. In all instances his magic powers were far inferior to
those of his natural senses, although they never misled him, as the
latter had done occasionally. In the _Bibliothèque du Magnétisme Animal_
(vii. p. 146), a remarkable case is reported as attested by undoubted
authority. The English consul, Baldwin, was, in 1795, visited by an
Italian improvisatore, who happened to have a small medicine-chest with
him. In the consul's kitchen was a little Arab, a scullion, who suffered
of a harassing cough, and whom his master magnetized in order to cure
him. While in his sleep the boy saw the medicine-chest, of which he had
known nothing before, and selected among the phials one with sugar of
agrimonium, which relieved him of his troubles. The Italian, thereupon,
asked also to be magnetized; fell promptly asleep, and wrote in this
condition, with closed eyes, a poem praising the art of magnetism.
Haddock's famous subject, Emma, actually accomplished once the crucial
test of all magic phenomena--she proved the value of magnetism in a
question of money. In the year 1849 three notes, amounting to £650, had
been deposited in a bank, and disappeared in the most unaccountable
manner. One of the clerks confessed, that although he had received them,
wrapped them up in paper, and placed them with a parcel of other notes,
he had forgotten to enter them regularly in the books. No trace could be
discovered; at last the magnetized subject was consulted, and after some
little time declared that the notes were lying in a certain room,
inserted in a certain panel, which she described so accurately that upon
search being instituted the missing notes were found, and the clerk's
character was cleared. Dr. Barth magnetized, in 1846, a lady who was
filled with anxiety about her husband in America, from whom she had not
heard for a long time. After having been put into magnetic sleep several
times, she once exclaimed: "God be thanked, my poor husband is better. I
am looking over his shoulder and see him write a letter addressed to me,
which will be here in six or seven weeks. He tells me that he has been
ill for three months." Two months afterwards she actually received such
a letter, in which her husband informed her of his three months'
illness, and regretted the pain he had probably caused her by his
protracted silence. A young lady, magnetized by Robert Napier in his
house in Edinburgh, not only described her parents' house as it appeared
at the moment, but also the home of a Miss B., in New South Wales, where
she had never been. In the garden of the house she saw a gentleman
accompanied by a lady in black, and a dog of light color with dark
spots; upon inquiry it appeared that Colonel B., the father of the young
lady, had at that time actually been in the garden with his wife and his
dog, although some of the minor details proved to have been incorrect.
She also gave a minute and accurate account of the upper stories of
Napier's house, where she had never been; but recognizing everything
only gradually, and correcting the mistakes which she had at first
committed. Thus she spoke of Napier's old aunt as dressed in dark
colors; after a while she exclaimed: "Oh, now I see she is dressed in
white!" It appeared afterward that the old lady had been sitting in a
deep arm-chair, overshadowed by the back of the chair, the gas-light
being behind her; just at that moment, however, Napier's wife had come
up, the aunt had leaned forward to speak to her, and thus being brought
into the light, had revealed her white night-dress. This case is
peculiarly interesting as proving that the perceptions of somnambulists
are dependent upon conditions similar to those which govern the ordinary
senses. (Colquhoun, p. 626.)

According to such high authorities as Hufeland and others, magnetic
sleep enables persons to see the interior of the bodies of others. He
himself heard one of his female patients, a woman without any knowledge
of anatomy, describe quite accurately the inner structure of the ear,
and of certain other parts of the body. (_Ueber Sympathie_, p. 115.) It
seems to have been well ascertained that she had never had an
opportunity of reading such a description, even if her memory had been
retentive enough to enable her to recall and recite what she had thus
chanced to read. The clairvoyant Alexis once saw through the clothing of
a visitor a scar, and after gazing at it--in his sleep--for a long time,
he came to the conclusion that it was the effect of a dog's bite, and
finally stated all the facts attending the accident of which the scar
was the sole remaining evidence. Even historical predictions made in
magnetic sleep are not wanting. The death of a king of Würtemberg was
thus foretold by two somnambulists, who were under medical treatment,
and who warned their physicians, well-known and trustworthy
practitioners of good standing, of the approaching event. The king's
death took place without being preceded by any serious illness, and in
the manner minutely predicted by one of the patients; a confirmation
which was all the more striking, as the prediction had been made in the
presence of a number of distinguished men, among whom were a minister of
the kingdom and several divines. Another case is that of the Swedish
king, Gustavus Vasa, who was assassinated in 1792, by Ankarström.
Accompanied by his physician, he once called, as Count Haga, upon a
patient treated by Aubry, a pupil of Mesmer. She recognized him
immediately, although plunged in magnetic sleep, told him that he
suffered of oppressions of the chest, the effect of a broken arm, and
foretold him that his life was in danger and that he would be murdered.
The king was deeply impressed, and as his physician expressed doubt and
contempt in his face, he desired that the latter should be put _en
rapport_ with the patient. No sooner was this done than the physician's
eyes fell, he sank into magnetic sleep, and when, after some time, he
was aroused he left the room in great agitation. (A. Gauthier. _Hist. du
Somnamb._, ii. p. 246.)

An occasional phenomenon of magnetic sleep is the improvement of the
language of patients; this appears not only in the case of well-educated
persons, whose diction assumes often a high poetical form, but far more
strikingly in unlettered and ignorant patients, who suddenly manifest an
unexpected familiarity with the more refined form of their native
tongue, and not unfrequently even with idioms of which they have
previously had no knowledge whatever. All these different symptoms have
been authenticated by numerous and trustworthy witnesses. Humble
peasant-women have used the most elegant forms of their native language;
travelers have unexpectedly recovered the use of idioms once known to
them, but long since forgotten; and, finally, a real gift of languages
has unmistakably enabled patients to use idioms with which they had
previously never come in contact. This phenomenon develops itself
occasionally into poetical improvisations of considerable merit, and the
beautiful music which many hear in magnetic sleep, or just before dying,
as if coming from another world, is, in like manner, nothing but a
product of their own mental exaltation. Thus persons who spoke merely a
local dialect, and were acquainted with no other form of their
mother-tongue, when placed in magnetic sleep would speak the best
English or German, as if their mind, freed from all fetters, resumed
once more the original task of forming the language in accordance with
their heightened capacities. Little children, whose education had
scarcely begun, have been known to recite verses or to compose speeches,
of which they would have been utterly incapable in a healthy state, and
of which they had afterwards no recollection. Macnish mentions a young
girl who, when magnetized, always fell back into Welsh, which she had
spoken as a child, but long since forgotten, and Lausanne mentions one
of his patients, a Creole, who came at the age of five to France, and
late in life, when magnetized, spoke no longer French but the miserable
patois of her early years. A young tanner in England, also, though
utterly uneducated, like the peasant-boy of Puységur, was able in
magnetic sleep to speak German. Whenever another person, at such a time,
spoke to him in English, his lips began at once to move, and he
translated what he heard into fair German verses. (Morin, _Journ. du
Magn._ 1854, No. 199.)

It must not be overlooked that the gift of singing and of using poetical
language, often of great beauty, is not unfrequently developed in
fever-patients also, and in insane persons.

Insensibility to impressions from without is another phenomenon which
magnetic sleep has in common with many other conditions. It is produced
by anæsthetics like chloroform and ether, by utter exhaustion in
consequence of long suffering, as was the case with martyrs and
prisoners subjected to torture, and by excessive loss of blood. But in
magnetic sleep it reaches a higher degree than under other
circumstances; cataleptic patients, and even clairvoyants in moments of
greatest excitement, seem to be in a state in which the nerves cease to
act as conveyers of impressions to the brain. This has often led to
unwarrantable abuse; physicians, under the pretext of scientific
investigation, inflicting severe injuries upon their patients, utterly
unmindful of the fact that, however great the momentary insensibility
may be, the sense of pain returns at the instant of re-awaking. On the
other hand, physicians have taken advantage of this state of
unconsciousness of pain, in order to perform serious operations.

The first instance of a surgical operation being attempted while the
patient was in mesmeric sleep, was that of Madame Plantin, a lady of
sixty-four years, who suffered of cancer in the breast. A Mr. Chapelain
prepared her by throwing her for several days into a trance by means of
the usual mesmeric passes. She then manifested the ordinary symptoms of
somnambulism, and conversed about the impending danger with perfect
calmness, while she contemplated it, when conscious, with the utmost
horror and apprehension. On the 12th of April, 1824, she was again
thrown into a trance, and the painful and dangerous operation
accomplished in less than a quarter of an hour, while she conversed with
the surgeon, the famous Dr. Ploquet, and showed in her voice, her
breathing, and her pulse not the slightest sign of excitement or pain.
When the wound was bound up, she awoke, but upon hearing what had taken
place, she became so violently excited that the magnetizer had to cause
her once more to fall asleep under his passes. And yet, in spite of this
brilliant success, when Dr. Warren of Boston asked the great surgeon
why he had never repeated the experiment, the latter was forced to
acknowledge that he had not dared do it, "because the prejudice against
mesmerism was so strong in Paris that a repetition would have imperiled
his position and his reputation!"

Since that time mesmerism has been repeatedly, and almost always
successfully employed as an anæsthetic; Dr. James Esdall, chief surgeon
of the presidency of Calcutta, having reduced the application to a
regular method. Dr. Forbes reports two cases of amputation of the thigh
in magnetic sleep, which were successful, and similar experiments have
been made in England, and in India, with the same happy result.

It is probably a feature connected with this insensibility that persons
in magnetic sleep can with impunity take unusually large doses of
medicine, which they prescribe for themselves. For magnetic sleep seems
to develop, as we have stated, among other magic phenomena, a peculiar
insight also, into diseases and their remedies. Although diseases may
assume a variety of deceptive forms, the predictions made by magnetic
patients, many months in advance, seldom fail to be verified. This is a
mere matter of instinct, for ignorant persons and young children possess
the gift in equal degree with the best-informed and most experienced
patients. The remedies are almost exclusively so-called simples--a hint
of some value to physicians--but always prescribed with much judgment,
and in a manner evincing rare medical tact. The dose, however, is
generally twice or three times as much as is ordinarily given. Magnetic
patients prescribe as successfully for others, with whom they are placed
_en rapport_, as for themselves, since a state of perfect clairvoyance
enables them to judge of other persons also with perfect accuracy. One
of the most remarkable cases is mentioned by Schopenhauer. ("Parerga,"
etc., I. p. 246.) A consumptive patient in Russia directed, in her
magnetic sleep, the attending physician to put her for nine days into a
state of syncope. He did so reluctantly, but during this time her system
seemed to enjoy perfect rest, and by this means she recovered. Haddock,
also, cured several persons at a distance, by following the directions
given to him by a patient of his in her magnetic sleep; he handed her a
lock of hair, or a few written lines, which sufficed to put her _en
rapport_ with the absent sufferers.

Among the magic phenomena observed in magnetic sleep we must lastly
mention ecstatic elevation in the air, the giving out of peculiar
sounds, and the power to produce extraordinary effects at a distance.
Even common somnambulists, it is well known, seem not to be in the same
degree subject to the laws of gravity as persons in a state of
wakefulness: hence their amazing exploits in walking on roofs, gliding
along narrow cornices, or even running up perpendicular walls. Persons
in magnetic sleep have been known to float on fresh water as well as in
the sea, although they were unable to swim, and sank, if they went into
the water when awake. Dupotel saw one of his patients running along the
side of his room on a small strip of wood which was merely tacked on to
the wall, and could not have supported a small weight. This peculiar
power is all the more fully authenticated as persons have fallen from
great heights, while in magnetic sleep, without suffering any injury;
but if they are aroused, and then fall, they invariably become subject
again to the natural laws, and are often killed. This temporary
suspension of the law of gravity has been compared with similar
phenomena in science. Thus it is well known that a galvanic stream
passing through coils of copper wire will hold an iron needle suspended
within the coils; and an iron ball dropped into a glass tube between two
powerful magnets will in the same manner remain hanging free in the air.
The advocates of this theory reason that if magnetism can suspend the
law of gravity in metals, it is at least possible that it may have a
similar power in the human body. It has, besides, been observed that
certain affections, such as violent nervous fevers, increase the weight
of sufferers considerably, while a state of trance diminishes it even
more strikingly.

With regard to the magic phenomena of increased intelligence,
Abercrombie mentions the case of a girl who as a child had heard a
relative play the violin with a certain degree of mastery. Later in life
she became his patient, and in her magnetic sleep repeated unconsciously
some of the pieces in tones very pleasing and closely resembling the
notes of a violin. Each paroxysm, however, was succeeded by certain
symptoms of her disease. Some years afterwards she imitated in like
manner the sounds of a piano and the tones of several members of the
family who were fond of singing, in such a manner that each voice could
be readily and distinctly recognized. Another year passed, and she
conversed with a younger companion, whom she fancied she was instructing
on topics of political and religious interest, with surprising ability
and a frequent display of wit. Henceforth she led two different kinds of
life; when awake she was stupid, awkward in her movements, and unable to
appreciate music; in her sleep she became clever and showed amazing
information and great musical talents. At a critical point in her life,
when she was twenty-one years old, a complete change took place in the
poor girl; her conversation in her magnetic sleep lost all its
attractions; she mixed with it improper remarks, and a few months later
she had to be sent to an insane asylum.

It is only within the present generation that the power possessed by
some men to magnetize animals has been revived, although it was no doubt
fully known to the ancients, and may in part explain the taming of
venomous serpents in the East. The most remarkable case is probably that
of Mr. Jan, director of the Zoological Gardens at Milan, who "charms"
serpents and lizards. In the year 1858 he was requested by a learned
visitor, Professor Eversmann, to allow him to witness some experiments;
he at once seized a lizard (L. viridis) behind the head and looked at
it fixedly for a few moments; the animal lay quiet, then became rigid,
and remained in any position which he chose to make it assume. Upon
making a few passes with his forefinger it closed its eyes at his
command. Mr. Jan discovered his gift accidentally one day when a whole
bagful of lizards (L. ocellata) had escaped from him, and he forced them
by his will and his eye, to return to his keeping. (_Der Zoolog.
Garten._ Frankfort, 1861, p. 58.) A Frenchman, Treseau, exercised the
same power over birds, which he exhibited in 1860 in Paris. He
magnetized them with his hand and his breath, but as nine-tenths of the
poor creatures died before they became inured to such treatment, no
advantage could be derived from his talent. (Des Mousseaux, p. 310.) A
countryman of his, Jacques Pelissier, is reported by the same authority
to have been able to magnetize not only birds, which allowed themselves
to be taken from the trees, but even hares, so that they remained
sitting in their forms and were seized with the hand (p. 302).


It is well known that somnambulism, in the ordinary sense of the word,
designates the state of persons who suffer from an affection which
disturbs their sleep and causes them to perform strange or ordinary
actions, as it may happen, in a state in which they are apparently half
awake and half asleep. This disease is already mentioned in the most
ancient authors, and its symptoms are correctly reported in Aristotle.
(_De Gener. Anim._) He states that the sufferers rise in their sleep,
walk about and converse, that they distinguish objects as if they were
awake, ascend trees, pursue enemies, perform tasks, and then quietly
return to bed. The state of somnambulism seems to be intermediate
between ordinary dreaming and magnetic clairvoyance, and is probably the
effect of a serious disturbance in our physical life, which causes the
brain to act in an unusual and abnormal manner. It has always been
observed at night only, and most frequently at full moon, since the moon
seems to affect somnambulists not merely by her light, but in each of
the different phases in a peculiar manner. The immediate causes of
night-walking are often most trivial; as Muratori, for instance, tells
us of a priest who became a somnambulist whenever he neglected for more
than two months to have his hair cut! Richard (_Théorie des Songes_, p.
288) mentions an analogous case of an old woman whom he knew to be
subject to the same penalty.

While nightmares oppress us and make apparently all motion impossible,
somnambulism, on the contrary, produces a peculiar facility of
locomotion and an irresistible impulse to mount eminences, favored
either by an actual diminution of specific gravity, or by an increase of
power. This tendency lies again half-way between the sensation of
flying, which is quite common in dreams, and the actual elevation from
the ground and suspension in the air, which occur in extreme cases of
ecstasy. The senses remain during night-walking in a state of
semi-activity; the somnambulist may appear as if fast asleep, seeing and
hearing nothing, so that the loudest noises and even violent shaking do
not rouse him; or he may, like a dreamer, be partly under the influence
of outward impressions. One will rise at night, go to the stable, saddle
his horse and ride into the woods, while another mounts the window-ledge
and performs all the motions of a man on horseback. Many move with
unfailing certainty on perilous paths, and find their way in deepest
darkness; others make blunders and fall, as Professor J. Feller did, who
mistook an open window for a door. By what means they perceive the
nature of their surroundings, is still unexplained; it may be the action
of the ordinary senses, although these seem to be closed, or they may
possess those exceptional faculties which constitute the magic phenomena
connected with somnambulism. Thus Forbes (_Brit. and For. Med. Rev._,
1846) ascribes their power to an increased sensitiveness of the retina,
and mentions the case of Dr. Curry, who suffered from this symptom to
such a degree that he distinguished every object in a completely
darkened room with perfect ease. In somnambulists, however, the eyes are
generally closed or violently turned up; and in the rare cases in which
they are open, they evidently see nothing. It is, besides, well
established that people thus affected have continued to read, to play on
instruments, and even to write after they had fallen sound asleep, and
without ever opening their eyes. The sensitiveness of the retina could
here not avail much. A case is mentioned of a father who rose at night,
took his child from the cradle, and with wide open eyes carried it up
and down the room, seeing nothing, and in such a state of utter
unconsciousness that his wife, walking by his side, could safely draw
all his secrets from him without his becoming aware of the process or
remembering it the next morning. At the age of forty-five he ceased to
walk in his sleep, but, instead, had prophetic dreams which revealed to
him the occurrences of the following day and later future events.
(_Heer, Observ._) Gassendi (_Phys._, l. viii. ch. 8) mentions a young
man, living in Provence, who rose in his sleep, dressed, drew wine in
the cellar, wrote up the accounts, and in the darkest night never
touched objects that were in his way. If he returned quietly to his bed,
he slept well, and strangely enough, recalled everything he had done in
the night; but if he was suddenly aroused in the cellar or in the
street, he was seized with violent trembling and palpitations of the
heart. At times he saw but imperfectly; then he fancied he had risen
before daybreak, and lit a lamp. The _Encyclopédie Méthodique_ reports
the case of a young priest who wrote his sermons at night, and with
closed eyes, and then read each page aloud, correcting and improving
what he had written. A sheet of paper held between his eyes and his
manuscript did not disturb him; nor did he become aware of it if the
latter was removed and blank paper was substituted; in this case he
wrote the corrections precisely where they would have been inserted in
the text. Macnish mentions ("On Sleep," p. 148) the curious case of an
innkeeper in Germany, a huge mass of flesh, who fell asleep at all times
and in all places, but who, when this happened while he was playing
cards, nevertheless continued to follow suit, as if he could see what
was led. In 1832, when he was barely 50 years old, he literally fell
asleep, paralysis killing him instantly during one of these attacks of
sleep. The same author mentions somnambulists who in their sleep walked
to the sea-shore and swam for some distance without being waked, and the
case of a Norwegian who during his paroxysms took a boat and rowed
himself about for some time. He was cured of his affection by a tub full
of water, which was so placed that he had to step into it when leaving
his bed. In Scotland a peasant discovered from below the nest of a
sea-mew, which hung at an inaccessible height upon a steep rock; some
weeks afterwards he rose in his sleep, and to the horror of his friends,
who watched him from below, climbed to the place, took the birds, and
safely returned to his cabin. In former ages somnambulists were reported
to have even committed murder in their sleep; a Parisian thus rose,
dressed himself, swam across the Seine, killed his enemy, and returned
the same way without ever awaking; and an Englishman also is reported to
have murdered a boy, in a state of unconsciousness, while laboring
under this affection. Modern science, however, knows nothing of such
extreme cases, and the plea has not yet been used by astute lawyers.

Simple somnambulism is not unfrequently connected with magnetic
somnambulism, and may occasionally be seen even in trances during
daytime. In such cases persons who walk in their sleep may be questioned
by bystanders, and in their answers prove themselves not unfrequently
able to foretell future events, or to state what is occurring at a
distance; or they perform tasks in their sleep which they would not be
able to accomplish when awake; they compose music, write poetry, and
read works in foreign languages, without possessing the requisite
knowledge and training. A poor basket-weaver in Germany once heard a
sermon which moved him deeply; several weeks later he rose at night, and
repeated the whole sermon from beginning to end; his wife tried in vain
to rouse him, and the next morning he knew nothing of what had happened.
Cases of scholars who, sorely puzzled by difficult problems, gave them
up before retiring, and then, in the night, rose in a state of
somnambulism, and solved them easily, are by no means uncommon.



    "Spiritus in nobis qui viget, illa facit."

    --CORN. AGRIPPA, Ep. xiv.

The uniform and indispensable condition of all miraculous cures, whether
produced by prayer, imposition of hands, penitential castigation, or
magic power, is faith. Physician and patient alike must believe that
disease is the consequence of sin, and accept the literal meaning of the
Saviour's words, when he had cured the impotent man near the pool called
Bethesda, and said: "Behold, thou art made whole: _sin_ no more, lest a
worse thing come unto thee." (St. John v. 14.) Like their great teacher,
all the apostles and saints of the church have ever insisted upon
repentance in the heart before health in body could be accorded. It is
interesting to notice, moreover, that all Oriental sages, the Kabbalists
and later Theosophists, have, without exception, adopted the same view,
however widely they may have differed on other points. In one feature
only some disagreed: they ascribed to evil spirits what others
attributed to sin; but the difference is only nominal, for men, by sin,
enter into communion with evil spirits, and become subject to their
power. Hence the woman "which had a _spirit_ of infirmity eighteen
years" was said to have been "bound by Satan," and when she was healed
she was "loosed from the bond." (Luke xiii. 16.)

To this common faith must be added on the part of the physician an
energetic will, and in the patient an excited imagination. The history
of all ages teaches, beyond the possibility of doubt, that where these
elements are present results have been obtained which excite the marvel
of men by their astonishing promptness, and their apparent
impossibility. They seem generally to be the result of certain symbolic
but extremely simple acts, such as the imposition of hands--which may
possibly produce a concentration of power--the utterance of a blessing,
or merely a continued, fixed glance. The main point, however, is, of
course, the psychical energy which is here made available by a process
as yet unknown. Prayer is probably the simplest agency, since it
naturally encourages and elevates the innermost heart of man, and fills
him with that perfect hope and confidence which are necessary for his
recovery. This hope is, in the case of miraculous cures performed at the
shrines of saints, materially strengthened by the collective force of
all preceding cures, which tradition has brought to bear upon the mind,
while the senses are powerfully impressed, at the same time, by the
surroundings, and especially the votive offerings testifying to the
reality of former miracles. In the case of relics, where the Church sees
simply miracles, many men believe in a continuing magic power
perceptible only to very sensitive patients; thus the great theologian,
Tholuk, ascribes to the "handkerchiefs or aprons" which were brought
from the body of St. Paul, and drove away diseases and evil spirits
(Acts xix. 12), a special curative power with which they were
impregnated. (_Verm. Schriften_, I. p. 80.) At certain times, when the
mind of a whole people is excited, and hence peculiarly predisposed to
meet powerful impressions from specially gifted and highly privileged
persons, such miraculous cures are, of course, most numerous and most
striking. This was the case, for instance, in the first days of
Christianity, at the time of the Reformation, and during the years which
saw the Order of Jesuits established. There is little to be gained,
therefore, by confining the era of such phenomena to a certain
period--to the days of the apostles, when alone genuine miracles were
performed, as many divines believe, or to the first three centuries
after Christ, during which Tholuk and others still see magic
performances. Magnetic and miraculous cures differ not in their nature,
but only in their first cause, precisely as the trance of somnambulists
is identical with the trance of religious enthusiasts. The difference
lies only in the faith which performs the cure; if it is purely human,
the effect will be only partial, and in most cases ephemeral; if divine
faith and the highest power co-operate, as in genuine miracles, the
effect is instantaneous and permanent. Hence the contrast between the
man who at the Lord's bidding "took up his bed and walked" and the
countless cripples who have thrown aside their crutches at the graves of
saints, only to resume them a day or two afterward, when, with the
excitement, the newly acquired power also had disappeared. But hence,
also, the resemblance between many acts of the early Jesuit Fathers and
those of the apostles; the intense energy of the former, supported by
pure and unwavering faith, produced results which were to all intents
and purposes miraculous. With the death of men like St. Xavier, and the
rise of worldly ambition in the hearts of the Fathers, this power
disappeared, and modern miracles have become a snare and a delusion to
simple-minded believers.

The faith in such psychical power possessed by a few privileged persons
is as old as the world. Pythagoras performed cures by enchantment; Ælius
Aristides, who had consulted learned physicians for ten years in vain,
and Marcus Antoninus, were both cured by incubation. Tacitus tells us
that the Emperor Vespasian restored a blind man's sight by moistening
his eye with saliva, and to a lame man the use of his feet by treading
hard upon him. (Hist. l. iv. c. 8.) Both cures were performed before an
immense crowd in Alexandria, and in both cases the petitioners had
themselves indicated the means by which they were to be restored, the
emperor yielding only very reluctantly to their prayers and the urgent
requests of his courtiers. (Sueton., _Vita Vespas._) Pyrrhus, king of
Epirus, had cured colic and diseases of the kidneys by placing the
patient on his back and touching him with his big toe (Plutarch, _Vita
Pyrrhi_); and hence Vespasian and Hadrian both used the same method!

The imposition of hands, for the purpose of performing miraculous cures,
has been practised from time immemorial; Chaldees and Brahmins alike
using it in cases of malignant diseases. The kings of England and of
France, and even the counts of Hapsburg in Germany, have ever been
reputed to be able to cure goîtres by the touch of their hands, and
hence the complaint was called the "king's evil." The idea seems to have
originated in the high north; King Olave, the saint, being reported by
Snorre Sturleson as having performed the ceremony. From thence, no
doubt, it was carried to England, where Edward the Confessor seems to
have been the first to cure goîtres. In France each monarch upon
ascending the throne received at the consecration the secret of the
_modus operandi_ and the sacred formula--for here also the spoken word
went hand in hand with the magic touch. Philip I. was the first and
Charles I. the last monarch who performed the cure publicly, uttering
the ancient phrase: "_Le roi te touche, Dieu te guérisse!_" In a
somewhat similar manner the Saludadores and Ensalmadores of Spain cured,
not goîtres and stammering only, as the monarchs we have mentioned, but
almost all the ills to which human flesh is heir, by imposition of
hands, fervent prayer and breathing upon the patient.

Similar gifts are ascribed to Eastern potentates, and the ruling
dynasty in Persia claims to have inherited the power of healing the sick
from an early ancestor, the holy Sheik Sephy. The great traveler Chardin
saw patients hardly able to crawl dragging themselves to the feet of the
Shah, and beseeching him only to dip the end of his finger into a bowl
of water, and thus to bestow upon it healing power. It will excite
little wonder to learn that those remarkable men who succeeded by the
fire of their eloquence and the power of contagious enthusiasm to array
one world in arms against another, the authors of the Crusades, should
have been able to perform miraculous cures. Peter of Amiens and Bernard
of Clairvaux obtained such a hold on the minds of faithful believers,
that their curse produced spasms and fearful sufferings in the guilty,
while their blessing restored speech to the dumb, and health to the
sick. Here also special power was attributed even to their clothes, and
many remarkable results were obtained by the mere touch. Spain, the home
of fervent ascetic faith, abounds in saints who performed miracles, the
most successful of whom was probably Raimundus Normatus (so called
because not born of woman, but cut from his dead mother's body by
skillful physicians), who cured, during the plague of 1200, great
numbers of men by the sign of the cross. To this class of men belong
also, as mentioned before, the early fathers of the Society of Jesus,
though their powers were as different as their characters. Ignatius
Loyola, who represented the intelligence of the new order, performed few
miraculous cures; Xavier, on the contrary, the man of brilliant fancy,
was successful in a great variety of cases. The first leaders, like
Loinez, Salmeron and Bobadilla, had no magic power at all, but later
successors, like Ochioa Carrera and Kepel, displayed it in a surprising
degree, although Ochioa's gifts were distinctly limited to the healing
of the sick by the imposition of hands. The whole period of this intense
excitement extended only over sixteen years, from 1540 to 1556, after
which the vivid faith, which had alone made the cures possible,
disappeared. It is worth mentioning that the Jesuits themselves and most
of their historians deny that they ever had power to perform miracles,
and ascribe the cures to the faith of the patients alone. St. Xavier, it
is well known, brought the dead to life again, and even if we assume
that they lay only in syncope and had not yet really died, the recovery
is scarcely less striking. The most remarkable of these cases is that of
an only daughter of a Japanese nobleman. Her death stunned the father, a
great lord possessed of immense wealth, to such a degree that his
friends feared for his reason; at last they urged him to apply to the
great missionary for help. He did so; the Jesuit, filled with
compassion, asked a brother priest to join him in prayer, and both fell
upon their knees and prayed with great fervor. Xavier returned to the
pagan with joyous face and bade him take comfort, as his daughter was
alive and well. The nobleman, very unlike the father in Holy Writ, was
indignant, thinking that the holy man either did not believe his child
had died or refused to assist him; but as he went home, a page came
running up to meet him, bringing the welcome message that his daughter
was really alive and well. She told him after his return, that her soul
upon leaving the body had been seized by hideous shapes and dragged
towards an enormous fire, but that suddenly two excellent men had
interposed, rescuing her from their hands, and leading her back to life.
The happy father immediately returned with her to the holy man, and as
soon as his child beheld Xavier and his companion, she fell down at
their feet and declared that they were the friends who had brought her
back from the lower world. Shortly afterwards the father and his whole
family became Christians. (Orlandini, Hist. Soc. Jesu., ix. c. 213.) The
case seems to be very simple, and is one of the most instructive of
modern magic. The girl was not dead, but lay in a cataleptic trance, in
which she had visions of fearful scenes, and transformed the fierce hold
which the disease had on her body into the grasp of hostile powers
trying to obtain possession of her soul. At the same time she became
clairvoyant, and thus saw Xavier and his companion distinctly enough to
recognize them afterwards. The cure was accomplished by the Almighty in
answer to the fervent prayer of two pious men filled with pure faith,
according to the sacred promise: "The effectual, fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much." All the more is it to be regretted that
even in those days of genuine piety and rapturous faith, foreign
elements should at once have been mixed up with the true doctrine; for
already Caspar Bersaeus ascribed some of his cures to the Holy Virgin;
and soon the power passed away, when the honor was no longer given to
Him to whom alone it was due.

From that day the power to perform miraculous cures has been but rarely
and exceptionably granted to a few individuals. Thus Matthias Will, a
German divine of the seventeenth century, was as famous for his
marvelous power over the sick and the possessed as for his fervent
piety, his incessant praying and fasting, and his utter self-abnegation.
Sufferers were brought to him from every part of Christendom, and
hundreds who had been given up by their physicians were healed by his
earnest prayers and the blessing he invoked from on high. His memory
still survives in his home, and an inscription on his tombstone records
his extraordinary powers. (Cath. Encycl., Suppl. I. 1320.) Even the
Jansenists, with all their hostility to certain usages of the Church,
had their famous Abbé Paris, whose grave in the Cemetery of St. Médard
became in 1727 the scene of a number of miraculous cures, fully attested
by legal evidence and amply described by Montgéron, a man whom the Abbé
had in his lifetime changed from a reckless profligate into a truly
pious Christian. (_La vérité des miracles_, etc., Paris, 1737.) The
magic phenomena exhibited on this occasion were widely discussed and
great numbers of books and pamphlets written for and against their
genuineness, until the subject became so obscured by party spirit that
it is extremely difficult, in our day, to separate the truth from its
large admixture of unreliable statements. A peculiar feature of these
scenes--admitted in its full extent by adversaries even--was the perfect
insensibility of most of the enthusiasts, the so-called
_Convulsionnaires_. Jansenists by conviction, these men, calm and cool
in their ordinary pursuits, had been so wrought up by religious
excitement that they fell, twenty or more at a time, into violent
convulsions and demanded to be beaten with huge iron-shod clubs in order
to be relieved of an unbearable pressure upon the abdomen. They endured,
in this manner, blows inflicted upon the pit of the stomach which under
ordinary circumstances would have caused grievous if not fatal

The above-mentioned witness, who saw their almost incredible sufferings,
Carré de Montgéron, states that he himself used an iron club ending in a
ball and weighing from twenty to thirty pounds. One of the female
enthusiasts complained that the ordinary blows were not sufficient to
give her relief, whereupon he beat her sixty times with all his
strength. But this also was unavailing, and a large and more powerful
man who was standing near had to take the fearful instrument and with
his strong arms gave her a hundred additional blows! The tension of her
muscles must have been most extraordinary, for she not only bore the
blows, which would have killed a strong person in natural health, but
the wall against which she was leaning actually began to tremble and
totter from the violent concussion. Nor were the blows simply resisted
by the turgescence of the body; the skin itself seemed to have been
modified in a manner unknown in a state of health. Thus one of the
brothers Marion felt nothing of thrusts made by a sharp-pointed knife
against his abdomen and the skin was in no instance injured. To do this
the trance in which he lay must necessarily have induced an entire
change of the organic atoms, and this is one of the most important magic
phenomena connected with this class of visions, which will be discussed
in another place.

It is well known that the cures performed at the grave of the Abbé Paris
and the terrible scenes enacted there by these _convulsionnaires_
excited so much attention that at last the king saw himself compelled to
put a stop to the proceedings. After a careful investigation of the
whole matter by men specially appointed for the purpose, the grounds
were guarded, access was prohibited, and the wags of Paris placed at the
entrance the following announcement:

    "_Défense de par le Roy. Défense à Dieu,
          De faire miracle en ce lieu!_"

Ireland had in the seventeenth century her Greatrakes, who, according to
unimpeachable testimony, cured nearly every disease known to man, by his
simple touch--and fervent prayer.

Valentine Greatrakes, of Waterford, in Ireland, had dreamt, in 1662,
that he possessed the gift to cure goîtres by simple imposition of
hands, after the manner of the kings of England and of France. It was,
however, only when the dream was several times repeated that he heeded
it and tried his power on his wife. The success he met with in his first
effort encouraged him to attempt other cases also, and soon his fame
spread so far that he was sent for to come to London and perform some
cures at Whitehall. He was invariably successful, but had much to endure
from the sneers of the courtiers, as he insisted upon curing animals as
well as men. His cures were attested by men of high authority, such as
John Glanville, chaplain to Charles II., Bishop Rust, of Dromor, in
Ireland, several physicians of great eminence, and the famous Robert
Boyle, the president of the Royal Society. According to their uniform
testimony Greatrakes was a simple-hearted, pious man, as far from
imposture as from pretension, who firmly believed that God had entrusted
to him a special power, and succeeded in impressing others with the same
conviction. His method was extremely simple: he placed his hands upon
the affected part, or rubbed it gently for some time, whereupon the
pains, swellings, or ulcers which he wished to cure, first subsided and
then disappeared entirely. It is very remarkable that here also all
seemed to depend on the nature of the faith of the patient, for
according to the measure of faith held by the latter the cure would be
either almost instantaneous or less prompt, and in some cases requiring
several days and many interviews. He was frequently accused of
practising sorcery and witchcraft, but the doctors Faiselow and
Artetius, as well as Boyle, defended him with great energy, while
testifying to the reality of his cures.

One of the best authenticated, though isolated, cases of this class is
the recovery of a niece of Blaise Pascal, a girl eleven years old. She
was at boarding-school at the famous Port Royal and suffered of a
terrible fistula in the eye, which had caused her great pain for three
years and threatened to destroy the bones of her face. When her
physicians proposed to her to undergo a very painful operation by means
of a red-hot iron, some Jansenists suggested that she should first be
specially prayed for, while at the same time the affected place was
touched with a thorn reported to have formed part of the crown of thorns
of our Saviour. This was done, and on the following day the swelling and
inflammation had disappeared, and the eye recovered. The young girl was
officially examined by a commission consisting of the king's own
physician, Dr. Felix, and three distinguished surgeons; but they
reported that neither art nor nature had accomplished the cure and that
it was exclusively to be ascribed to the direct interposition of the
Almighty. The young lady lived for twenty-five years longer and never
had a return of her affection. Racine described the case at full length,
and so did Arnauld and Pascal, all affirming the genuineness of the
miraculous cure.

During the latter part of the last century a Father Gassner created a
very great sensation in Germany by means of his marvelous cures and
occasional exorcisms of evil spirits. He did not employ for the latter
purpose the usual ritual of the Catholic Church, but simple imposition
of hands and invocation of the Saviour. Nearly all the patients who were
brought to him he declared to be under the influence of evil spirits,
and divided them into three classes: _circumsessi_, who were only at
times attacked, _obsessi_, or bewitched, and _possessi_, who were really
possessed. When a sick person was brought to him, he first ordered the
evil spirit to show himself and to display all his powers; then he
prayed fervently and commanded the demon, in the name of the Saviour, to
leave his victim. A plain, unpretending man of nearly fifty years, he
appeared dressed in a red stole after the fashion prevailing at that
time in his native land, and wore a cross containing a particle of the
holy cross suspended from a silver chain around his neck. The patient
was placed before him so that the light from the nearest window fell
fully upon his features, and the bystanders, who always crowded the
room, could easily watch all the proceedings. Frequently, he would put
his stole upon the sufferers' head, seize their brow and neck with
outstretched hands, and holding them firmly, utter in a low voice a
fervent prayer. Then, after having given them his cross to kiss, if they
were Catholics, he dismissed them with some plain directions as to
treatment and an earnest admonition to remain steadfast in faith.
Probably the most trustworthy account of this remarkable man and his
truly miraculous cures was published by a learned and eminent
physician, a Dr. Schisel, who called upon the priest with the open
avowal that he came as a skeptic, to watch his proceedings and examine
his method. He became so well convinced of Father Gassner's powers that
he placed himself in his hands as a patient, was cured of gout in an
aggravated form, and excited the utmost indignation of his professional
brethren by candidly avowing his conviction of the sincerity of the
priest and the genuineness of his cures.

There was, however, one circumstance connected with the exceptional
power of this priest, which was even more striking than his cures. His
will was so marvelously energetic and his control over weaker minds so
perfect that he could at pleasure cause the pulse of his patients to
slacken or to hasten, to make them laugh or cry, sleep or wake, to see
visions, and even to have epileptic attacks. As may be expected, the
majority of his visitors were women and children, but these were
literally helpless instruments in his hands. They not only moved and
acted, but even felt and thought as he bade them do, and in many cases
they were enabled to speak languages while under his influence of which
they were ignorant before and after. At Ratisbon a committee consisting
of two physicians and two priests was directed to examine the priest and
his cures; a professor of anatomy carefully watched the pulse and the
nerves of the patients which were selected at haphazard, and all
confirmed the statements made before; while three other professors, who
had volunteered to aid in the investigation, concurred with him in the
conviction that there was neither collusion nor imposition to be
suspected. The priest, who employed no other means but prayer and the
invocation of God by the patients, was declared to be acting in good
faith, from pure motives, and for the best purposes; his cures were
considered genuine. There was, however, in Father Gassner's case also an
admixture of objectionable elements which must not be overlooked. The
desire for notoriety, which enters largely into all such displays of
extraordinary powers, led many persons who were perfectly sound to
pretend illness, merely for the purpose of becoming, when cured, objects
of public wonder. On the other hand, the good father himself was, no
doubt, by his own unexpected success, led to go farther than he would
otherwise have done in his simplicity and candor. He formed a complete
theory of his own to explain the miracles. According to his view the
first cause of all such diseases as had their origin in "possession,"
were the "principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world,
and spiritual wickedness in high places," which the apostle mentions as
enemies more formidable than "flesh and blood." (Ephes. vi. 12.) These,
he believed, dwelt in the air, and by disturbing the atmosphere with
evil intent, produced illness in the system and delusions in the mind.
If a number combined, and with the permission of the Almighty poisoned
the air to a large extent, contagious diseases followed as a natural
consequence. Against these demons or "wiles of the devil" (Ephes. vi.
11), he employed the only means sanctioned by Holy Writ--fervent prayer,
and this, of course, could have no effect unless the patient fully
shared his faith. This faith, again, he was enabled to awaken and to
strengthen by the supreme energy of his will, but of course not in all
cases; where his prayer failed to have the desired effect he ascribed
the disease to a direct dispensation from on high, and not to the agency
of evil spirits, or he declared the patient to be wanting in faith. In
like manner he explained relapses as the effects of waning faith. The
startling phenomena, however, which he thought it necessary to call
forth in his patients, before he attempted their restoration, belong to
what must be called the magic of our day. For these symptoms bore no
relation to the affection under which they suffered. Persons afflicted
with sore wounds, stiffened limbs, or sightless eyes, would, at his
bidding, fall into frightful paroxysms, during which the breathing
intermitted, the nose became pointed, the eyes insensible to the touch,
and the whole body rigid and livid. And yet, when the paroxysm ceased at
his word, the patient felt no evil effects, not even fatigue, and all
that had happened was generally instantly forgotten. The case created an
immense sensation throughout Europe, and the great men of his age took
part for or against the poor priest, who was sadly persecuted, and only
now and then found a really able advocate, such as Lavater. The
heaviest penalty he had to bear was the condemnation of his own Church,
which accompanied an order issued by the Emperor Joseph II.,
peremptorily forbidding all further attempts. The pope, Pius VII., who
had directed the whole subject to be examined by the well-known
_Congregatio SS. Rituum_, declared in 1777, upon their report, that the
priest's proceedings were heretical and not any longer to be permitted,
and ordered the bishop, under whose jurisdiction he lived, to prevent
any further exercise of his pretended power. All these decrees of papal
councils and these orders of imperial officials could, however, not undo
what the poor priest had already accomplished, and history has taught us
the relative value of investigations held by biased priests, and those
carried out by men of science. We may well doubt the judgment of an
authority which once condemned a Galileo, and even now denounces the
press as a curse; but we have no right to suspect the opinion of men
who, as physicians and scientists, are naturally disposed to reject all
claims of supernatural or even exceptional powers.

In more recent times a Prince Hohenlohe in Germany claimed to have
performed a number of miraculous cures, beginning with a Princess
Schwarzenberg, whom he commanded "in the name of Christ to be well
again." Many of his patients, however, were only cured for the moment;
when their faith, excited to the utmost, cooled down again, their
infirmities returned; still there remain facts enough in his life to
establish the marvelous power of his strong will, when brought to bear
upon peculiarly receptive imaginations, and aided by earnest prayer.
(Kies., _Archiv._ IX. ii: 311.)

Sporadic cases of similar powers have of late shown themselves in Paris,
in the interior of Russia, and in Ravenna, but the evidence upon which
the statements in public journals are made is so clearly unreliable that
no important result can be hoped for from their investigation. The
present is hardly an age of faith, and enough has surely been said to
prove that without very great and sincere faith miraculous cures cannot
be performed.



    "Credo quia absurdum est."


One of the most remarkable classes of magic phenomena, which combines
almost all other known features of trances with the peculiar kind called
stigmatization, is known as Mysticism in the more limited sense of that
word. It bears this name mainly because it designates attempts made to
unite in close communion humanity with divinity, and however imperfect
the success of all these efforts may be, on the whole, it cannot be
denied that in individual cases very startling results have been
obtained. In order to attain their lofty aim, the mystics require an
utter deadening of all human affections and all natural impulses, and a
thorough change of their usual thoughts and feelings. Above all, the
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of the heart are
to be killed by pain; hence the mystics are quite content to suffer,
chastise the body, deny themselves the simplest enjoyments, and rejoice
in the actual infliction of wounds and mutilations. In return for this
complete deadening of human affections they are filled with an ineffable
love of the divine Saviour, the Bridegroom, and the Holy Virgin, the
Bride, or even of purely abstract, impalpable beings. They enjoy great
inner comforts, and a sense of happiness and peace which transcends all
description. Whatever may, however, have been the direct cause of their
ecstatic condition, disease, asceticism, self-inflicted torments, or
long-continued fervent prayer, this highest bliss is accorded to them
only during the time of trance. Unfortunately this period of happiness
is not only painfully short, but also invariably followed by a powerful
reaction; according to the laws of our nature, supreme excitement must
needs always subside into profound exhaustion, ecstatic bliss into
heartrending despondency, and bright visions of heaven into despairing
views of unpardonable sins and a hopeless future. Hence the fearful
doctrines of the mystics of all ages, which prescribe continuous
self-denial as the only way to reach God, who as yet is not to be found
in the outward world, but only in the inner consciousness of the
believer. If the sinner dare not hope to approach the Holy One, the
repentant believer also is in unceasing danger of losing again what he
has gained by fearful sacrifices. The union between him and his God must
not only be close, but uninterrupted, a doctrine which has led to the
great favor bestowed by mystics upon images derived from earthly love:
to them God is forever the bridegroom, the soul the bride, and the union
between them the true marriage of the faithful. By such training,
skillfully and perseveringly pursued, many persons, especially women,
have succeeded in so completely deadening all physical functions of
their body as to reduce their life, literally, to the mere operations of
sensation and vision. The sufferings produced by these efforts to
suppress all natural vitality, to kill, as it were, the living body,
rendering the senses inactive, while still in the full vigor of their
natural condition, are often not only painful, but actually appalling. A
poor woman, famous for her asceticism and her supernatural visions,
Maria of Agreda, was never able to attend to her devotions in the dark,
without enduring actual agony. Her spiritual light would suddenly become
extinguished, fearful horrors fell upon her soul and caused her
unspeakable anguish, terrible images as of wild beasts and fierce demons
surrounded her, the air was filled with curses and unbearable
blasphemies, and even her body was seized with wild, convulsive
movements and violent spasms. No wonder, therefore, that numbers of
these mystics have lost their reason, and others have fallen victims to
terrible diseases. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that many also
have been eminent examples of self-denial and matchless devotion, or
genuine heroes in combating for their sacred faith and the love of their
brethren. Their very errors were so attractive that the fundamental
mistake was forgotten, and all felt how little, men who act upon mere
ordinary motives, are able to rise to the same height of self-sacrifice.
Nor must it be forgotten, in judging especially the mystics of our days,
that their sincerity can never be doubted: they have always acted, and
still act upon genuine conviction, and in the firm belief that their
work is meritorious, not in the eyes of men, but before the Almighty.
The ascetics of former ages are not so easily understood; they were men
who proposed not only to limit the amenities of life, but to make our
whole earthly existence subservient to purely divine purposes; and thus,
for instance, Francis of Assisi, prescribed absolute poverty as the rule
of his order. The principal magic phenomena accompanying religious
ecstasy are the insensibility of the body to all, even the most violent
injuries, and the perception of matters beyond the reach of our senses
in healthy life. Rigid and long-continued fasting, reduced sleep on a
hard couch, and an utter abstinence from all other thoughts or
sentiments but such as connect themselves directly with a higher life,
never fail to produce the desired effect. By such means the whole nature
of man is finally changed; not only in the legitimate relations existing
between body and mind, but also in those which connect man with nature;
the changes are, therefore, as much physiological as psychical. They
result at last in the acquisition of a power which in the eyes of the
mystics is identical with that promised in Mark xvi. 18. "They shall
take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt
them." Extraordinary as the accounts of the sufferings and the
exceptional powers of mystics appear to us, they are in many instances
too well authenticated to allow any serious doubt. Thus a famous
ascetic, Rosa of Lima, was actually injured by healthy food, but on many
occasions instantaneously strengthened by a mere mouthful of bread
dipped into pure water; Bernard of Clairvaux lived for a considerable
time on beech-leaves boiled in water, and Maria of Oignys once subsisted
for thirty-five days on the holy wafer of the sacrament, which she took
daily. Mystics who, like the latter, derived bodily sustenance as well
as spiritual comfort from the Eucharist, are frequently mentioned in the
annals of the Church. Others, again, succeeded by constant and extreme
excitement to heat their blood to such an extent that they became
insensible to outward cold, even when the frosts of winter became
intolerable to others. The heart itself seems to be affected by such
extreme elation; in Catherine of Siena its violent palpitations and
convulsive jerkings could be both seen and felt, when she was in a state
of ecstasis, and the heart of Filippo Neri was found, after death, to
have been considerably enlarged, and actually to have broken two ribs by
its convulsive spasms.

Among the rarer but equally well-established magic phenomena of this
class must be counted the temporary suspension of the law of gravity.
Like the Brahmins of India, who have long possessed the power of raising
themselves unaided from the ground and of remaining suspended in the
air, Christian mystics also have been seen, more than once, to hang as
it were unsupported high above the ground. They quote, in support of
their faith in such exceptional powers, the fact that Habakkuk also was
seized by an angel and carried away through the air, while even the
Saviour was taken by the devil to an exceeding high mountain on the top
of the temple, cases in which the laws of gravity must have been
similarly suspended.

A large number of holy men, among whom were Filippo Neri, Ignatius
Loyola, and the founder of the order of Dominicans, remained thus
suspended in the air for hours and days; one of them, the Carmelite monk
P. Dominicus, in the presence of the king and queen of Spain and their
whole court. (Calmet, p. 153.) There are even cases known in which this
raising of the body has happened to pious persons against their own
desire and to their great and sincere distress, as it attracted public
attention in a most painful degree. To this class of phenomena belongs
also the luminous appearance which seems at times to accompany a high
state of religious excitement. This was already the case with Moses, who
"wist not that the skin of his face shone," and probably of Stephen
also, when those "that sat in council, looking steadfastly on him, saw
his face as it had been the face of an angel."

The most startling of these phenomena, however, are those known as
stigmatization, when the combined power of fervent, exalted faith and an
over-excited imagination produces actual marks of injuries on the body,
although no such injuries have ever been inflicted. The annals of the
Church abound with instances of women especially who, after long
meditation on the nature and the merits of crucifixion have borne the
marks of nails in hands and feet, an effect which the science of
medicine also admits as possible, inasmuch as similar results are of not
unfrequent occurrence, at least in newborn infants, whose bodies are
marked in consequence of events which had recently made a peculiarly
deep impression upon the mothers.

Unfortunately mysticism also has not been able to keep its votaries free
from an admixture of imposture. False miracles are known to have
occurred within the Church as well as without it, and credulity has
accepted many a statement that could not have stood the simplest
investigation. It becomes the careful student, therefore, here also to
distinguish with the utmost caution genuine and well-authenticated facts
from reckless or willfully false statements. Even then, however, he
ought not to forget the words of Pascal, who, in speaking of the
apostles said: "I am quite willing to believe stories for whose
truthfulness the witnesses have suffered death." It is even by no means
improbable that the spiritual world may have its changing productions as
well as the material world, and as the organisms of the Silurian period
are impossible in our day, so-called magic results may have been
obtained by certain former generations which lie beyond the power of our
own. No one can with certainty determine, in this direction, what is
possible and what is impossible; the power of man is emphatically a
relative one, and each exploit must, in fairness, be judged with a view
to all the accompanying circumstances. It is as impossible for the men
of our day to erect pyramids such as the old Egyptians built, as it is
for an individual in good health to perform feats of strength of which
he may be capable under the influence of high fever or violent

A curious feature in these phenomena is the intimate relation in which
sacred and so-called demoniac influences seem to stand with one another.
The saints are represented as tempted by evil spirits which yet have no
existence except in their own heart, and the possessed, on the other
hand, occasionally have pious impulses and holy thoughts. In the former
case it is the innate sinfulness of the heart which creates images of
demons such as St. Anthony saw in the desert; in the latter case the
guardian angels of men are said to come to their rescue. There are even
instances on record of men who have wantonly given themselves up to the
temporary influence of evil spirits--under the impression that they
could thus please God!--as travelers purposely suffer the evil effects
of opium or hasheesh in order to test their powers. Thus mysticism
finally devised a complete system of angels, saints, and demons, whose
varied forms and peculiarities became familiar to votaries at an early
period of their lives, and filled their minds with images which
afterwards assumed an apparent reality during the state of trance. That
the physical condition enters as a powerful element in all these
phenomena appears clearly from the fact that whenever women are liable
to trances or visions of this kind the latter vary regularly with their
state of health, and in the majority of cases cease at a certain age.
This fact illustrates in a very characteristic manner the mutual
relations between body and soul; the condition of the former is
reflected in the soul by sentiment and image, and the soul in precisely
the same manner impresses itself upon the body. Generally this is
limited to the face, where the features in their expression reproduce
more or less faithfully what is going on within; but in exceptional
cases the psychical events cause certain mechanical or physical changes
in the body which now and then result in actual illness or become even
fatal. Experience proves that if the imagination is stimulated to
excessive activity, it can produce changes in the nature of the
epidermis or even of the mucous membrane, which resemble in everything
the symptoms of genuine diseases. There are men who can, by an energetic
effort of will, cause red spots, resembling inflammation, to appear in
almost every part of the body. In extreme cases this power extends to
the production of syncope, in which they become utterly insensible to
injuries of any kind, lose all power of motion, and even cease to
breathe. St. Augustine mentions a number of such cases. (_De civit.
Dei_, l. xiv. ch. 24.) The remarkable power of Colonel Townshend of
falling into a state of syncope is too well established to admit of any
doubt; he became icy cold and rigid, his heart ceased to beat and his
lungs to breathe; the face turned deadly pale, the features grew sharp
and pointed, and his eyes remained fixed. By an effort of his own will
he could recall himself to life, but one evening, when he tried to
repeat the experiment, after having made it in the morning successfully
in the presence of three physicians, he failed to awake again. It
appeared afterwards that his heart was diseased; he had, however, at the
same time, by careful attention and long practice, obtained almost
perfect control over that organ. (Cheyne, "Engl. Malady," London, 1733,
p. 307.) Indian fakirs have been known to possess a similar power, and
have allowed themselves to be buried in air-tight graves, where they
have been watched at times for forty days, by military guards, and yet
at the expiration of that time have returned to life without apparent
injury. A similar power over less vital organs of the body is by no
means rare; men are constantly found who can at will conceal their
tongue so that even surgeons discover it but with difficulty; others,
like Justinus Kerner, can empty their stomachs of their contents as if
they were pockets, or contract and enlarge the pupils of the eyes at
pleasure. Nor are cases of Indians and negroes rare, who in their
despair have died merely because they willed it so. There can be no
doubt, therefore, that if mere volition can produce such extraordinary
results, still more exceptional effects may be obtained by fervent faith
and an excessive stimulation of the whole nervous system, and much that
appears either incredible or at least in the highest degree marvelous
may find an easy and yet satisfactory explanation.

Genuine stigmatization, that is, the appearance of the five wounds of
our Saviour, presents itself ordinarily only after many years of
constant meditation of his passion, combined with excessive fasting and
other ascetic self-torment. The first stage is apt to be a vision of
Christ's suffering, accompanied by the offer of a wreath of flowers or a
crown of thorns. If the mystic chooses the former, the result remains
within the limits of the general effects of asceticism; should he,
however, choose the crown of thorns, the stigmas themselves are apt to
appear. This occurs, naturally, only in the very rare cases, where the
mystic possesses that exceptional energy and intense plastic power of
the imagination which are requisite in order to suspend the natural
relations of soul and body. Then the latter, already thoroughly weakened
and exhausted, becomes so susceptible to the influence of the soul, that
it reproduces, spontaneously and unconsciously, the impressions deeply
engraven on the mind, and during the next ecstatic visions the wounds
show themselves suddenly. Their appearance is invariably accompanied by
violent pain, which seems to radiate, in fiery burning darts from the
wounds of the image of Christ. As the minds of mystics differ infinitely
in energy of will and clearness of perception, the stigmas also are seen
more or less distinctly; and their nature varies from mere reddish
points, which become visible on the head, as the effect of a crown of
thorns, to real bleeding wounds. The former are apt to disappear as the
excitement subsides or the will is weakened; the latter, however, are
peculiar in this, that they do not continue to bleed, and yet, also, do
not heal up. In women, only, they are apt to break out again at regular
intervals, for instance, on Fridays, when the mystic excitement again
reaches its highest degree, or at other periods when pressure of blood
seeks an outlet through these new openings. As such a state can continue
only by means of lengthened inflammation, stigmatization is always
accompanied by violent pains and great suffering, especially during the

The earliest of all cases of stigmatization--of which nearly seventy are
fully authenticated--was that of Francis of Assisi, who, after having
spent years in fervent prayer for permission to share the sufferings of
the Saviour, at last saw a seraph with six wings descend toward him, and
between the wings the form of a crucified person. At the same moment he
felt piercing pains, and when he recovered from his trance he found his
hands and feet, as well as his side, bleeding as from severe wounds, and
strange, dark excrescences, resembling nails, protruding from the wounds
in his extremities. As this was the first case of stigmatization known,
Francis of Assisi was filled with grave doubts concerning the strange
phenomenon, and carefully concealed it from all but his most intimate
friends. Still the wounds were seen and felt by Pope Alexander and a
number of cardinals during his lifetime, and became an object of careful
investigation after his death. (Philalethes' _Divina Comm., Paradiso_,
p. 144.) There is but one other case, as fully authenticated, in which a
man was thus stigmatized; all other trustworthy instances are related of
females. How close the connection is between the will and the appearance
of these phenomena may be seen from one of the best-established cases,
that of Joanna of Burgos, in Spain, who had shed much blood every week
for twenty years in following the recital of the passion of our Saviour.
When she was seventy years old, her superiors prevailed upon her, by
special arguments, to pray fervently for a suspension of her sufferings.
She threw herself down before a crucifix, and remained there a day and a
night in incessant prayer; on the next morning the wounds had closed,
and never again commenced bleeding. Another evidence of this feature
lies in the fact that stigmatization occurs mainly in Italy, the land of
imagination, and in Spain, the land of devotion; in Germany only a few
cases are known, and not one in the North of Europe and in America.

Among the famous mystics who do not belong as saints or martyrs
exclusively to the Church, stand first and foremost Henry Suso, of the
"Living Heart," and John Ruysbroek, the so-called Doctor Ecstaticus. The
former, who often had trances, and once lay for a long time in syncope,
has left behind him some of the most attractive works ever written by
religious enthusiasts. He lived in the fourteenth century, and when, two
hundred years later, his grave was opened the body was found unchanged,
and fervent admirers believed they perceived pleasing odors emanating
from the remains. The Dutch divine Ruysbroek was even more renowned by
his holy life and admirable writings than by the many marvelous visions
which he enjoyed. The same century produced the most famous preacher
Germany has probably ever seen, John Capistran, who attracted the masses
by the magic power of his individuality and held them spell-bound by his
burning eloquence. A native of Capistrano, in the Abruzzi, where he was
born in 1385, he became first a lawyer, and gained great distinction as
such in Sicily. Unfortunately he was engaged in one of the many petty
wars which at that time distracted Italy; was made a prisoner and cast
with barbaric cruelty into a foul dungeon. Here he devoted himself to
ascetic devotion, and had a vision ordering him to leave the world. When
he regained his liberty, at the age of thirty, he entered the order of
Franciscan monks, and soon became a preacher of world-wide renown.
Traveling through Italy, Hungary, and Germany, he affected his audiences
by his mere appearance, and produced truly amazing changes in the hearts
of thousands. In Vienna he once preached, in the open air, before an
assembly of more than a hundred thousand men; the people listened to him
for hours amid loud weeping and sobbing, and great numbers were
converted, including several hundred Jews. In Bohemia he induced in like
manner eleven thousand Hussites to return to the Catholic Church, among
whom were numerous noblemen and ministers. Similar successes were
obtained in almost every large town of Germany, till he was recalled to
the South, when Germany became indebted to him and to John Corvin for
its deliverance from the Turks and the famous victory of Belgrade in
1456. During his whole career he continued to have ecstatic visions, to
fall into trances of considerable duration, and to behold stigmas on his
body--yet, withal, he remained an eminently practical man, not only
converting many thousands from their religious errors, but turning them
also from vicious habits and criminal pursuits to a life of virtue. At
the same time he rendered signal services to his brethren in mere
worldly matters, now pleading and now fighting for them with an energy
and a success which alone would secure him a name in history. The
ecstatic nature of another mystic, Vincentio Ferrer, produced a singular
effect, which has never been noticed except in biblical history. He was
a native of Valencia, and, knowing no language but the local dialect of
his country, he continued throughout life to preach in his mother
tongue--and yet he was understood by all who heard him! This result was
at least partially explained by the astounding flexibility of his voice,
which at all times adapted itself so completely to his feelings, that
its tones found a responsive echo in every heart. In vain did the pope,
Benedict XIII., offer him first a bishopric and afterwards a cardinal's
hat; the pious monk refused all honors save one, the title of Papal
Missionary, and in this capacity he passed through nearly every land in
Christendom, preaching and exhorting day and night, exciting everywhere
the utmost enthusiasm and converting thousands from their evil ways. His
eloquence and fervor were so great that even learned men and fierce
warriors declared he spoke with the voice of an angel, and criminals of
deepest dye would fall down in the midst of great crowds, confessing
their misdeeds and solemnly vowing repentance and amendment.

The greatest of all mystics, however, was the before-mentioned Filippo
Neri, a saint of the Catholic Church, whose simple candor and truly
Christian humility have procured for him the esteem and the admiration
of men of all creeds and all ages. Even as a mere child he was already
renowned for his extraordinary gifts as well as for his fervent piety;
while still a layman he had numerous visions and trances, and when in
his thirtieth year he had prayed for days and nights in the Catacombs of
St. Sebastian, his heart became suddenly so enlarged that some of the
intercostal muscles gave way, and a great swelling appeared on the
outside, which remained there throughout life, although without causing
him any pain. His inner fervor was so great as to keep his blood and his
whole system continually at fever heat, and although he lived
exclusively upon bread, herbs, and olives, he never wore warm clothes,
even in the severest winters, always slept with open doors and windows,
and preferred walking about with his breast uncovered. During the last
ten years of his life his body was no longer able to sustain his
ecstatic soul; whenever he attempted to read mass or to preach, his
feelings became so excited that his voice failed him, and he fell into a
trance of several hours' duration. It was in this condition that he was
frequently lifted up, together with the chair on which he sat, to a
height of several feet from the ground. What renders these magic
phenomena peculiarly interesting, is the fact that Filippo Neri not only
attached no special value to them, but actually did his best to conceal
them from the eyes of the world. As soon as they began to show
themselves, he ceased reading mass in the presence of others, and only
allowed his attendant to re-enter his cell when the latter had convinced
himself, by peeping through a narrow opening in the door, that the
trance was over. When others praised his piety and marveled at these
wonders, he invariably smiled and said: "Don't you know that I am
nothing but a fool and a dreamer?"

He added that he would infinitely rather do works which should prove his
faith than be the recipient of miraculous favors. But his prestige was
so great that whenever he was prevailed upon or thought it his duty to
exert his influence, it was paramount, and secured to him a powerful
control in historical events. Thus it was when Pope Gregory XIV. had
excommunicated King Henry IV., and his successor, Clement VIII.,
continued the fearful punishment in spite of all the entreaties of king
and courtiers. Filippo Neri, foreseeing the dangers which were likely to
arise from such measures for the Church, and deeply concerned for the
welfare of the French people, retired to prayer, inviting the pope's
confessor to join him in his devotions. These had been continued for
three days without intermission, when at last the saint fell into a
trance, and upon re-awaking from it, told his companion: "To-day the
pope will send for you to confess him. You will tell him, when his
confession is made: 'Father Filippo has directed me to refuse Your
Holiness absolution, and ever to confess you again till you have
relieved the King of France from excommunication.'" Clement, deeply
moved by this message, summoned immediately the council of cardinals,
and Henry IV. was once more received into the bosom of the Church. In
spite of this great influence, Neri sternly refused all honors and
dignities, even the purple, which was offered to him three times, and
died in 1595, eighty years old, on the day and at the hour which he had
long since foretold. That his visions were accompanied by actual
stigmatization has already been mentioned.

Our own continent has had but one great mystic, Rosa of Lima, who is
hence known as _primus Americæ meridionalis flos_. She had inherited her
peculiar organization from her mother, who had frequently seen visions,
and when the child was three years old, changed her name from Isabel to
Rosa, because she had seen a rose suspended over the face of her
daughter. Much admired on account of her great beauty and rare
sweetness, the young girl refused all offers, and preferred, in spite
of the remonstrances of friends and of brutal ill-treatment on the part
of her brothers, to enter a convent. On her way there, however, she felt
her steps suddenly arrested by superior force, and saw in this
supernatural interruption a hint that she should leave the world even
more completely than she could have done as a nun of the Order of St.
Dominick. She built herself, therefore, a little cell in her father's
garden, and here led a life of ecstatic asceticism, during which she
often remained for days and weeks without food, and became strangely
intimate with birds and insects. Whenever she took the eucharist, she
felt marvelous happiness and fell into trances; in the intervals,
however, she suffered intensely from that depression and utter despair
which in such cases are apt to result from powerful reaction. She died
quite young, exhausted by her ascetic life and continued excitement, and
has ever since been revered as the patron saint of Peru.




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