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This is a distinction of much practical importance. If two persons perceive at the same time the same phenomenon, we may conclude that that phenomenon is an objective reality,-has, in some phase or other, actual existence.
The results of what have been usually called electrobiological experiments cannot with any propriety be adduced in confutation of this position. The biologized patient knowingly and voluntarily subjects himself to an artificial influence, of which the temporary effect is to produce false sensations; just as the eater of hasheesh, or the chewer of opium, conjures up the phantasmagoria of a partial insanity, or the confirmed drunkard exposes himself to the terrible delusions of delirium-tremens. But all these sufferers know, when the fit has passed, that there was nothing of reality in the imaginations that overcame them.
If we could be biologized without ostensible agency, in a seemingly normal and quiet state of mind and body, unconsciously to ourselves at the time, and without any subsequent conviction of our trance-like condition, then would Reason herself cease to be trustworthy, our very senses become blind guides, and men would but grope about in the mists of Pyrrhonism. Nothing in the economy of the universe, so far as we have explored it, allows us for a moment to entertain the idea that its Creator has permitted, or will ever permit, such a source of delusion.
We are justified in asserting, then, as a general rule, that what the senses of two or more persons perceive at the same time is not a hallucination; in other words, that there is some foundation for it.
But it does not follow that the converse of the proposition is true. It is not logical to conclude that, in every instance in which some strange appearance can be perceived by one observer only among many, it is a
hallucination. In some cases where certain persons perceive phenomena which escape the senses of others, it is certain that the phenomena are, or may be, real. An every-day example of this is the fact that persons endowed with strong power of distant vision clearly distinguish objects which are invisible to the short-sighted. Again, Reichenbach reports that his sensitives saw, at the poles of the magnet, odic light, and felt, from the near contact of large free cystals, odic sensations, which by Reichenbach himself, and others as insensible to odic impressions as he, were utterly unperceived.* It is true that before such experiments can rationally produce conviction they must be repeated again and again, by various observers and with numerous subjects, each subject unknowing the testimony of the preceding, and the result of these various experiments must be carefully collated and compared. But, these precautions scrupulously taken, there is nothing in the nature of the experiments themselves to cause them to be set aside as untrustworthy.
There is nothing, then, absurd or illogical in the supposition that some persons may have true perceptions of which we are unconscious. We may not be able to comprehend how they receive these; but our ignorance of the mode of action does not disprove the reality of the effect. I knew an English gentleman who, if a cat had been secreted in a room where he was, invariably and infallibly detected her presence. How he perceived this, except by a general feeling of uneasiness, he could never explain; yet the fact was certain.
* Reichenbach, in his “Sensitive Mensch,” (vol. i. p. 1,) estimates the number of sensitives, including all who have any perception whatever of odic sights and feelings, at nearly one-half the human race.
Cases of high sensitiveness are, he says, most commonly found in the diseased; sometimes, however, in the healthy. In both he considers them comparatively
THE LOST REAPPEARS.
the canal at a designated point, where she would certainly discover the corpse; in obeying which injunction she nearly lost her life. Some months afterward, the alleged victim reappeared : he had departed secretly for Canada, to avoid the importunities of his creditors.*
In the Hydesville case, too, there was some rebutting evidence. The raps bad alleged that, though the peddler's wife was dead, his five children lived in Orange County, New York; but all efforts to discover them there were fruitless. Nor does it
any man named Rosma was ascertained to have resided there.
It remains to be added that no legal proceedings were ever instituted, either against Mr. Bell, in virtue of the suspicions aroused, or by him against those who expressed such suspicions. He finally left the country.
It is evident that no sufficient case is made out against him. The statements of the earthly witnesses amount to circumstantial evidence only; and upon unsupported ultramundane testimony no dependence can be placed. It may supply hints; it may suggest inquiries; but assurance it cannot give.
The Hydesville narrative, however, as one of unexplained disturbances, like those at Cideville, at Ahrensburg, at Slawensik, at Epworth, and at Tedworth, rests for verification on the reality of the phenomena themselves, not on the accuracy of the extrinsic information alleged to be thereby supplied.
* For details, see “ Modern Spiritualism," pp. 60 to 62. If we concede the reality of the spirit-rap, and if we assume to judge of ultramundane intentions, we may imagine that the purpose was, by so early and so marked a lesson, to warn men, even from the commencement, against putting implicit faith in spiritual communications.
It is worthy of remark, however, that there is this great difference in these two cases, that the Hydesville communications came by spontaneous agency, uncalled for, unlooked for, while those obtained at Rochester were evoked and expected.
THE STRATFORD DISTURBANCES.
With this case I close the list of these narrations; for to follow up similar examples, since occurring throughout our country,* would lead me, away from my object, into the history of the rise and progress of the Spiritual movement itself.
* As that occurring at Stratford, Connecticut, in the house of the Rev. Dr. Eliakim Phelps, more whimsical, and also more surprising, in many of its modifications, than any of those here related; commencing on the 10th of March, 1850, and continuing, with intervals, a year and nine months; namely, till the 15th of December, 1851. A detailed account of this case will be found in “Modern Spiritualism," pp. 132 to 171.
I HAVE few words to add, in summing up the foregoing evidence that the disturbances which give rise to rumors of haunted houses are, in certain cases, actual and unexplained phenomena.
Little comment is needed, or is likely to be useful. There are men so hard-set in their preconceptions on certain points that no evidence can move them. Time and the resistless current of public sentiment alone avail to urge them on. They must wait. And as to those whose ears are still open, whose convictions can still be reached, few, I venture to predict, will put aside, unmoved and incredulous, the mass of proof here brought together. Yet a few considerations, briefly stated, may not be out of place.
The testimony, in most of the examples, is direct and at first hand, given by eye and ear witnesses and placed on record at the time.
It is derived from reputable sources. Can we take exception to the character and standing of such witnesses as Joseph Glanvil, John Wesley, Justinus Kerner? Can we object to the authority of Mackay, a skeptic and a derider? Does not the narrative of Hahn evince in the observer both coolness and candor? As to the Ahrensburg story, it is the daughter of the chief magistrate concerned in its investigation who testifies. And where shall we find, among a multitude of witnesses, better proof of honesty than in the agreement in the depositions at Cideville and at Hydesville?
The phenomena were such as could be readily observed. Many of them were of a character so palpable and no