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WAS THIS HALLUCINATION?
nation, how can we imagine that there should be produced, at the very same moment, without suggestion, or expectation, or unusual excitement of any kind, on the brain of two different persons, a perception of the selfsame image, minutely detailed, without any external object to produce it? Was that image imprinted on the retina in the case both of mother and daughter? How could this be if there was nothing existing in the outside world to imprint it? Or was there no image on the retina ? Was it a purely subjective impression ? that is, a false perception, due to disease? But among the millions of impressions which may be produced, if imagination only is the creative agent, how infinite the probabilities against the contingency that, out of these millions, this one especial object should present itself in two independent cases !—not only a particular person, dressed in a particular manner, but that person advancing along a road, approaching within a few steps of the observers, and then disappearing! Yet even this is not the limit of the adverse chances. There is not only identity of object, but exact coincidence of time. The two perceive the very same thing at the very same moment; and this coincidence continues throughout several minutes.
What is the natural and necessary conclusion? That there was an image produced on the retina, and that there was an objective reality there to produce it.
It may seem marvelous, it may appear hard to believe, that the appearance of a human being, in his usual dress, should present itself where that human being is not. It would be a thing a thousand times more marvelous, ten thousand times harder to believe, that the fortuitous action of disease, freely ranging throughout the infinite variety of contingent possibilities, should produce, by mere chance, a mass of coincidences such as make
in this case, the concurrent and cotemporaneous sensations of mother and daughter
APPARITIONS OF THE LIVING.
When, in studying the subject of apparitions, I first met an alleged example of the appearance of a living person at a distance from where that person actually was, I gave to it little weight. And this the rather because the example itself was not sufficiently attested. It is related and believed by Jung Stilling as having occurred about the years 1750 to 1760, and is to this effect.
There lived at that time, near Philadelphia, in a lonely house and in a retired manner, a man of benevolent and pious character, but suspected to have some occult power of disclosing hidden events. It happened that a certain sea-captain having been long absent and no letter received from him, his wife, who lived near this man, and who had become alarmed and anxious, was advised to consult him. Having heard her story, he bade her wait a little and he would bring her an
Thereupon he went into another room, shutting the door; and there he stayed so long that, moved by curiosity, she looked through an aperture in the door to ascertain wbat he was about. Seeing him lying motionless on a sofa, she quickly returned to her place. Soon after, he came out, and told the woman that her husband was at that time in London, in a certain coffeehouse which he named, and that he would soon return. He also stated the reasons why his return had been delayed and why he had not written to her; and she went home somewhat reassured. When her husband did return, they found, on comparing notes, that every thing
very hour of the previous evening when the mother had so earnestly put up a secret prayer for him, her son, being at the time in his state-room, had been conscious of his mother's presence.
This she read to her aunt the same day, thinking it might tend to comfort her.
And then she waited with great anxiety for her cousin's return, when she might have her doubts resolved as to the truth or falsehood of the mysterious impression regarding him.
He arrived three weeks afterward, safe and well; but during the afternoon and evening that succeeded his arrival, no allusion whatever was made by any one to the above circumstances. When the rest of the family retired, Louisa remained, proposing to question him on the subject. He had stepped out; but after a few minutes he returned to the parlor, came up to the opposite side of the table at which she was sitting, looking agitated, and, before she herself could proffer a word, he said, with much emotion, “Cousin, I must tell you a most remarkable thing that happened to me." And with that, to her astonishment, he burst into tears.
She felt that the solution of her doubts was at hand; and so it proved. He told her that one night during the voyage,
soon after he had lain down, he saw, on the side of the state-room opposite bis berth, the appearance of his mother. It was so startlingly like a real person that he rose and approached it. He did not, however, attempt to touch it, being ultimately satisfied that it was an apparition only. But on his return to his berth he still saw it, for some minutes, as before.
On comparing notes, it was ascertained that the evening on which the young man thus saw the appearance of his mother at sea was the same on which she had so earnestly prayed for his safety,—the very same, too, which his cousin Louisa had designated in writing, three weeks
RECEIVED BY TWO COUSINS.
before, as the time when he had seen the apparition in question. And, as nearly as they could make it out, the hour also corresponded.
The above narrative was communicated to me* by the two ladies concerned, the mother and her niece, both being together when I obtained it. They are highly intellectual and cultivated. I am well acquainted with them, and I know that entire reliance may be placed on their statement.
In this case, as in that in which the apparition of Mr. Thompson showed itself to mother and daughter, there are two persons having coincident sensations; Louisa impressed that her cousin was conscious of his mother's presence, and the cousin impressed with that very consciousness. Unlike the Thompson case, the cousins were many hundred miles distant from each other at the time. Suggestion was impossible; equally so was any mistako by after-thought. Louisa committed her impression to writing at the time, and read it to her aunt. The writing remained, real and definite, in proof of that impression. And she made no inquiry of her cousin, put no leading question, to draw out a confirmation or refutation of her perceptions regarding him. The young man volunteered his story; and his tears of emotion attested the impression which the apparition had made.
Chance coincidence, as every one must see, was out of the question. Some other explanation must be sought.
The following narrative, drawn from nautical life, exhibits coincidences as unmistakably produced by some agency other than chance.
THE RESCUE. Mr. Robert Bruce, originally descended from some branch of the Scottish family of that name, was born,
* On the 8th of August, 1859.
in humble circumstances, about the close of the last century, at Torbay, in the south of England, and there bred up to a seafaring life.
When about thirty years of age, to wit, in the year 1828, he was first mate on a bark trading between Liverpool and St. John's, New Brunswick.
On one of her voyages bound westward, being then some five or six weeks out and having neared the eastern portion of the Banks of Newfoundland, the captain and mate had been on deck at noon, taking an observation of the sun; after which they both descended to calculate their day's work.
The cabin, a small one, was immediately at the stern of the vessel, and the short stairway descending to it ran athwart-ships. Immediately opposite to this stairway, just beyond a small square landing, was the mate's state-room; and from that landing there were two doors, close to each other, the one opening aft into the cabin, the other, fronting the stairway, into the state
The desk in the state-room was in the forward part of it, close to the door; so that any one sitting at it and looking over his shoulder could see into the cabin.
The mate, absorbed in his calculation, which did not result as he expected, varying considerably from the dead-reckoning, had not noticed the captain's motions. When he had completed his calculations, he called out, without looking round, “I make our latitude and longitude so and so. Can that be right? How is yours ?”
Receiving no reply, he repeated his question, glancing over his shoulder and perceiving, as he thought, the captain busy writing on his slate. Still no answer. Thereupon he rose; and, as he fronted the cabin-door, the figure he had mistaken for the captain raised its head and disclosed to the astonished mate the features of an entire stranger.
Bruce was no coward; but, as he met that fixed gaze