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Cock Lane and Common-Sense by Andrew Lang

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Moans.

Thumps.

Dragging of heavy weights.

One dreadful white face.

One little woman.

Lights.

One white skirt hanging from the ceiling.

One footfall which played two notes on the piano (!).

One figure in brown.

One man with freckles.

Two human faces.

One shadow.

One 'part of the dress of a super-material being' (Barrister).

One form (Exorcist).

One small column of misty vapour.

Now all this catalogue of prodigies which drove Mrs. G. into the
cold, bleak world, was caused, 'by thought transference from Miss
Morris,' who had been absent for a year, and whose own
hallucinations were caused by noises which may have been produced by
rats, or what not.

This ingenious theory is too much for Mr. Myers's powers of belief:
'The very first effect of Miss Morris's ponderings was a heavy
thump, followed by a deep sob and moan, and a cry of, "Oh, do
forgive me," all disturbing poor Mrs. G. who had the ill luck to
find herself in a bedroom about which Miss Morris was possibly
thinking. . . . Surely the peace of us all rests on a very
uncertain tenure.' Meanwhile Mr. Myers prefers to regard the whole
trouble as more probably caused by the 'dreams of the dead' woman
who hanged herself with a skipping rope, than by the reflections of
Miss Morris. In any case the society seem to have occupied the
house, and, with their usual bad luck, were influenced neither by
the ponderings of Miss Morris, nor by the fredaines of the lady of
the skipping rope. {149} It may be worth noticing that the raps,
knocks, lights, and so forth of haunted houses, the 'spontaneous'
disturbances, have been punctually produced at savage, classical,
and modern seances. If these, from the days of the witch of Endor
to our own, and from the polar regions to Australia, have all been
impostures, at least they all imitate the 'spontaneous' phenomena
reported to occur in haunted houses. The lights are essential in
the seances described by Porphyry, Eusebius, Iamblichus: they were
also familiar to the covenanting saints. The raps are known to
Australian black fellows. The phantasms of animals, as at the
Wesleys' house, may be beasts who play a part in the dead man's
dream, or they may be incidental hallucinations, begotten of rats,
and handed on by Miss Morris or any one else.

There remains a ghost who illustrates the story, spread all over
Europe, of the farmer who was driven from his house by a bogle. As
his carts went along the road, the bogle was heard exclaiming,
'We're flitting today,' and it faithfully stayed with the family.
This tale, current in Italy as well as in Northern England, might be
regarded as a mere piece of folklore, if the incident had not
reproduced itself in West Brompton. In 1870 the T.'s took a house
here: now mark the artfulness of the ghost, it did nothing for
eighteen months. In autumn, 1871, Miss T. saw a figure come out of
the dining-room, and the figure was often seen, later, by five
independent witnesses. It was tall, dressed in grey, and was
chiefly fond of haunting Miss T.'s own room. It did not walk, it
glided, making no noise. Mr. T. met it in the hall, once, when he
came in at night, and from the street he saw it standing in the
drawing-room window. It used to sigh and make a noise as of steps,
when it was not visible, it knocked and moved furniture about, and
dropped weights, but these sounds were sometimes audible only to
one, or a few of the observers. In 1877 the T.'s left for another
house, to which Miss T. did not repair till 1879. Then the noises
came back as badly as ever,--the bogle had flitted,--and, on
Christmas Day, 1879, Miss T. saw her old friend the figure. Several
members of the family never saw it at all. One lady, in another
case, Miss Nettie Vatas-Simpson, tried to flap a ghost away with a
towel, {150} but he was not thus to be exorcised. He presently went
out through a locked door.

Such are the ordinary or typical phenomena of haunted houses. It is
plainly of no use to take a haunted house for a month and then say
it is not haunted because you see no ghosts. Even where they have
been seen there are breaks of years without any 'manifestations'.
Besides, the evidence shows that it is not every one who can see a
ghost when he is there: Miss Morton's father could not see the lady
in black, when she was visible to Miss Morton.

It is difficult to write with perfect seriousness about haunted
houses. The writer will frankly confess that, when living in
haunted houses (as he has done at various times when suffering from
illness and overwork), he takes a very solemn view of the matter
about bed-time. If 'expectant attention' on a mind strained by the
schools, and a body enfeebled by bronchitis, could have made a man,
who was the only occupant of the haunted wing of an old Scotch
castle, see a ghost, the writer would have seen whatever there was
to see. To be sure he could not rationally have regarded a spectre
beheld in these conditions, as a well-authenticated ghost. {151} As
far as his experience of first-hand tales is concerned, the persons
known to him who say they have seen ghosts in haunted houses, were
neither unhealthy, nor, except in one solitary case, imaginative,
nor were they _expecting_ a ghost. The apparition was 'a little
pleasant surprise'. The usual seer is not an invalid, nor a
literary person who can always be dismissed as 'imaginative,' though
he is generally nothing of the kind. But it cannot be denied that
ladies either see more ghosts than men or are less reluctant to
impart information. The visionary lady who keeps up a regular
telepathic correspondence with several friends is likely to see a
ghost, and should certainly be entered at 'fixed local ghosts,' but
there are slight objections to such evidence, as not free from
suspicion of fancifulness.

Turning from the seers to the seen, it is difficult or impossible
even to suggest an hypothesis which will seem to combine the facts.
The most plausible fancy is that which likens the apparitions to
figures in a feverish dream. Could we imagine a more or less bad
man or woman dead, and fitfully living over again, 'in that sleep of
death,' old events among old scenes, could we go further and believe
that these dreams were capable of being made objective and visible
to the living, then we might find a kind of theory of the process.
But even if it were possible to demonstrate the existence of such a
process, we are as far as ever from accounting for the force which
causes noises, or hallucinations of noises, a force of considerable
vigour, according to observers. Still less could we explain the
rare cases in which a ghost produces a material effect on the
inanimate or animate world, as by drawing curtains, or pulling
people's hair and clothes,--all phenomena as well vouched for as the
others. A picture projected by one mind on another, cannot
conceivably produce these effects. They are such as ghosts have
always produced, or been said to produce. Since the days of ancient
Egypt, ghosts have learned, and have forgotten nothing. Unless we
adopt the scientific and popular system of merely saying 'Fudge!' we
find no end to the conundrums of the ghostly world. Ghosts seem to
know as little about themselves as we do, so that, if we are to
discover anything, we must make haste, before we become ghosts
ourselves.

Writers on Psychology sometimes make a push at a theory of haunted
houses. Mr. James Sully, for example, has done so in his book
styled Illusions. {153} Mr. Sully appears well pleased with his
hypothesis, and this, granting the accuracy of a tale for which he
is indebted to a gentleman who need not be cited here, argues an
easily contented disposition. Here is the statement:--

'A lady was staying at a country house. During the night and
immediately on waking up she had (sic) an apparition of a strange-
looking man in mediaeval costume, a figure by no means agreeable,
and which seemed altogether unfamiliar to her. The next morning, on
rising, she recognised the original of her hallucinatory image in a
portrait hanging on the wall of her bedroom, which must have
impressed itself on her brain before the occurrence of the
apparition, though she had not attended to it. Oddly enough, she
now learned for the first time that the house at which she was
staying had the reputation of being haunted, and by the very same
somewhat repulsive-looking mediaeval personage that had troubled her
inter-somnolent moments. The case seems to me to be typical with
respect to the genesis of ghosts, and of the reputation of haunted
houses.'

This anecdote affords much joy to the superstitious souls who deal
in Psychical Research, or Ghost Hunting. Mr. Sully's manner of
narrating it clearly proves the difference between Science and
Superstition. For a Ghost Hunter or Psychical Researcher would not
venture to publish a modern ghost story (except for mere amusement),
if he had it not at first hand, or at second hand with corroboration
at first hand. Science, however, can adduce a case without
indicating the evidence on which it rests, as whether Mr. Sully's
informant had the tale from the lady, or at third, fourth, fifth, or
a hundredth hand. So much for the matter of evidence. Next, Mr.
Sully does not tell us whether the lady 'had an apparition,' when
she supposed herself to be awake, or asleep, or 'betwixt and
between'. From the phrase 'inter-somnolent,' he appears to prefer
the intermediate condition. But he does not pretend to have
interrogated the lady, the 'percipient'. Again, the figure wore a
'mediaeval costume,' the portrait represented a 'mediaeval
personage'. Does Mr. Sully believe that the portrait was an
original portrait of a real person? and how many portraits of
mediaeval people does he suppose to exist in English country houses?
Taking the Middle Ages as lasting till the beginning of the reign of
Henry VIII., say till Holbein, we can assure Mr. Sully that they
have left us very few portraits indeed. But perhaps it was a modern
picture, a fanciful study of a man in mediaeval costume. In that
event, Mr. Sully's case is greatly strengthened, but he does not
tell us whether the work of art was, or was not, contemporary with
the Middle Ages. Neither does he tell us whether the lady was in
the habit of seeing hallucinations.

The weakest point in the whole anecdote and theory is in the
statement, 'oddly enough, she now learned for the first time that
the house at which she was staying had the reputation of being
haunted' by the mediaeval personage. It certainly would be very odd
if one picture in a house troubled 'the inter-somnolent moments' of
a succession of people, who, perhaps, had never seen, or, like the
lady, never attended to it. Such 'troubles' are very rare: very
few persons have seen a dream which, in Mr. Sully's words, 'left
behind, for an appreciable interval after waking, a vivid after-
impression, and in some cases, even the semblance of a sense
perception'. Mathematicians may calculate the chances against a
single unnoticed portrait producing this very rare effect, in a
series of cases, so as to give rise to a belief in haunting, by mere
casual coincidence. In the records of the Psychical Society, one
observer speaks of seeing a face and figure at night, which he
recognises next morning in a miniature on his chimney-piece. But,
in this case, there was no story of haunting, there had been no
series of similar impressions on successive occupants of the room,
_that_ is the circumstance which Mr. Sully finds 'odd enough,' a
sentiment in which we may all agree with him. This is exactly the
oddity which his explanation does not explain.

While psychological science, in this example, seems to treat matters
of evidence rather laxly, psychical conjecture, on the other hand,
leaves much unexplained. Thus Mr. Myers puts forward a theory which
is, in origin, due to St. Augustine. The saint had observed that
any one of us may be seen in a dream by another person, while our
intelligence is absolutely unconscious of any communication. Apply
this to ghosts in haunted houses. We may be affected by a
hallucination of the presence of a dead man or woman, but he, or she
(granting their continued existence after death), may know nothing
of the matter. In the same way, there are stories of people who
have consciously tried to make others, at a distance, think of them.
The subjects of these experiments have, it is said, had a
hallucination of the presence of the experimenter. But _he_ is
unaware of his success, and has no control over the actions of what
old writers, and some new theosophists, call his 'astral body'.
Suppose, then, that something conscious endures after death.
Suppose that some one thinks he sees the dead. It does not follow
that the surviving consciousness (ex hypothesi) of the dead person
who seems to be seen, is aware that he is 'manifesting' himself. As
Mr. Myers puts it, 'ghosts must therefore, as a rule, represent--not
conscious or central currents of intelligence--but mere automatic
projections from consciousnesses which have their centres
elsewhere,' [Greek]: as Homer makes Achilles say, 'there is no
heart in them.' {156} All this is not inconceivable. But all this
does not explain the facts, namely, the noises, often very loud, and
the movements of objects, and the lights which are the common or
infrequent accompaniments of apparitions in haunted houses. Now we
have (always on much the same level of evidence) accounts of similar
noises, and movements of untouched objects, occurring where living
persons of peculiar constitution are present, or in haunted houses.
These things we discuss in an essay on 'The Logic of Table-turning'.
By parity of reasoning, or at least by an obvious analogy, we are
led to infer that more than 'an automatic projection from the
consciousness' of a dead man is present where he is not only seen,
but heard, making noises, and perhaps moving objects. If this be
admitted then psychical conjecture is pushed back on something very
like the old theory of haunted houses, namely, that a ghost, or
spiritual entity, is present and active there.

Long ago, in a little tale called 'Castle Perilous' (published in a
volume named The Wrong Paradise), the author made an affable sprite
explain all these phenomena. 'We suffer, we ghosts,' he said in
effect, 'from a malady akin to aphasia in the living. We know what
we want to say, and how we wish to appear, but, just as a patient in
aphasia uses the wrong word, we use the wrong manifestation.' This
he illustrated by a series of apparitions on his own part, which, he
declared, were involuntary and unconscious: when they were
described to him by the percipient, he admitted that they were
vulgar and distressing, though, as far as he was concerned, merely
automatic.

These remarks of the ghost, were, at least, explicit and
intelligible. The theory which he stated with an honourable
candour, and in language perfectly lucid, appears to have been
adopted by Mr. Frederick Myers, but he puts it in a different style.
'I argue that the phantasmogenetic agency at work--whatever that may
be--may be able to produce effects of light more easily than
definite figures. . . . A similar argument will hold good in the
case of the vague hallucinatory noises which frequently accompany
definite veridical phantasms, and frequently also occur apart from
any definite phantasm in houses reputed haunted.' {158a} Now where
Mr. Myers says 'phantasmogenetic agency,' we say 'ghost'. J'appelle
un chat, un chat, et Rollet un fripon. We urge that the ghost
cannot, as it were, express himself as plainly as he would like to
do, that he suffers from aphasia. Now he shows as a black dog, now
as a green lady, now as an old man, and often he can only rap and
knock, or display a light, or tug the bed-clothes. Thus the Rev. F.
G. Lee tells us that a ghost first sat on his breast invisibly, then
glided about his room like a man in grey, and, finally, took to
thumping on the walls, the bed and in the chimney. Dr. Lee kindly
recited certain psalms, and was greeted with applause, 'a very
tornado of knocks . . . was the distinct and intelligible response'.
{158b} Now, on our theory, the ghost, if he could, would have said,
'Thank you very much,' or the like, but he could not, so his
sentiments translated themselves into thumps. On another occasion,
he might have merely shown a light, or he might have sat on Dr.
Lee's chest, 'pressed unduly on my chest,' says the learned divine,--
or pulled his blankets off, as is not unusual. Such are the
peculiarities of spectral aphasia, or rather asemia. The ghost can
make signs, but not the right signs.

Very fortunately for science, we have similar examples of imperfect
expression in the living. Thus Dr. Gibotteau, formerly interne at a
hospital in Paris, published, in Annales des Sciences, Psychiques
(Oct. and Dec, 1892), his experiments on a hospital nurse, and her
experiments on him. She used to try to send him hallucinations.
Once at 8 p.m. in summer as he stood on a balcony, he saw a curious
reflet blanc, 'a shining shadow' like that in The Strange Story. It
resembled the reflection of the sun from a window, 'but there was
neither sun, nor moon, nor lighted lamps'. This white shadow was
the partial failure of Berthe, the nurse, 'to show herself to me on
the balcony'. In precisely the same way, lights in haunted houses
are partial failures of ghosts to appear in form As for the knocks,
Dr. Binns, in his Anatomy of Sleep, mentions a gentleman who could
push a door at a distance,--if he could push, he could knock.
Perhaps a rather larger collection of such instances is desirable,
still, these cases illustrate our theory. That theory certainly
does drive the cold calm psychical researcher back upon the
primitive explanation: 'A ghaist's a ghaist for a' that!' We must
come to this, we must relapse into savage and superstitious
psychology, if once we admit a 'phantasmogenetic agency.' But
science is in quest of Truth, regardless of consequences.

COCK LANE AND COMMON-SENSE

Cock Lane Ghost discredited. Popular Theory of Imposture. Dr.
Johnson. Story of the Ghost. The Deceased Wife's Sister.
Beginning of the Phenomena. Death of Fanny. Recurrence of
Phenomena. Scratchings. Parallel Cases. Ignorance and Malevolence
of the Ghost. Possible Literary Sources. Investigation. Imitative
Scratchings: a Failure. Trial of the Parsonses. Professor
Barrett's Irish parallel. Cause undetected. The Theories of
Common-sense. The St. Maur Affair. The Amiens Case. The Sportive
Highland Fox. The Brightling Case.

If one phantom is more discredited than another, it is the Cock Lane
ghost.

The ghost has been a proverb for impudent trickery, and stern
exposure, yet its history remains a puzzle, and is a good, if vulgar
type, of all similar marvels. The very people who 'exposed' the
ghost, were well aware that their explanation was worthless, and
frankly admitted the fact. Yet they, no more than we, were prepared
to believe that the phenomena were produced by the spiritual part of
Miss Fanny L.--known after her decease, as 'Scratching Fanny'. We
still wander in Cock Lane, with a sense of amused antiquarian
curiosity, and the same feeling accompanies us in all our
explorations of this branch of mythology. It may be easy for some
people of common-sense to believe that all London was turned upside
down, that Walpole, the Duke of York, Lady Mary Coke, and two other
ladies were drawn to Cock Lane (five in a hackney coach), that Dr.
Johnson gave up his leisure and incurred ridicule, merely because a
naughty child was scratching on a little wooden board.

The matter cannot have been so simple as that, but from the true
solution of the problem we are as remote as ever. We can, indeed,
study even the Cock Lane Ghost in the light of the Comparative, or
Anthropological Method. We can ascertain that the occurrences which
puzzled London in 1762, were puzzling heathen philosophers and
Fathers of the Church 1400 years earlier. We can trace a chain of
'Scratching Fannies' through the ages, and among races in every
grade of civilisation. And then the veil drops, or we run our heads
against a blank wall in a dark alley. Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks,
Eskimo, Red Men, Dyaks, Fellows of the Royal Society, Inquisitors,
Saints, have perlustrated Cock Lane, and have come away nothing the
wiser. Some, of course, have thought they had the secret, have
recognised the work of God, 'daemons,' 'spirits,' 'ghosts,'
'devils,' 'fairies' and of ordinary impostors: others have made a
push at a theory of disengaged nervous force, or animal magnetism.
We prefer to leave theory alone, not even accepting with enthusiasm,
the hypothesis of Dr. Johnson. 'He expressed great indignation at
the imposture of the Cock Lane ghost, and related, with much
satisfaction, how he had assisted in detecting the cheat, and had
published an account of it in the newspapers. Upon this subject I
incautiously offended him, by pressing him with too many questions,'
says Boswell,--questions which the good doctor was obviously unable
to answer.

It is in January, 1762, that the London newspapers begin to be full
of a popular mystery, the Cock Lane ghost. Reports, articles,
letters, appeared, and the ghost made what is now called a
'sensation'. Perhaps, the most clear, if the most prejudiced
account, is that given in a pamphlet entitled The Mystery Revealed,
published by Bristow, in St. Paul's Churchyard (1762). Comparing
this treatise (which Goldsmith is said to have written for three
guineas) with the newspapers, The Gentleman's Magazine and the
Annual Register, we get a more or less distinct view of the subject.
But the various newspapers repeat each other's versions, with slight
alterations; The Gentleman's Magazine, and Annual Register, follow
suit, the narratives are 'synoptic,' while Goldsmith's tract, if it
be Goldsmith's, is obviously written in defence of the unlucky Mr.
K., falsely accused of murder by the ghost.

Mr. K.'s version is the version given by Goldsmith, and thus leads
up to the 'phenomena' through a romance of middle-class life. In
1756, this Mr. K., a person of some means, married Miss E. L. of L.
in Norfolk. In eleven months the young wife died, in childbed, and
her sister, Miss Fanny, came to keep house for Mr. K. The usual
passionate desire to marry his deceased wife's sister assailed Mr.
K., and Fanny shared his flame. According to Goldsmith, the canon
law would have permitted the nuptials, if the wife had not born a
child which lived, though only for a few minutes. However this may
be, Mr. K. honourably fled from Fanny, who, unhappily, pursued him
with letters, and followed him to town. Here they took lodgings
together, but when Mr. K. left the rooms, being unable to recover
some money which he had lent his landlord, the pair looked out for
new apartments. These they found in Cock Lane, in the house of Mr.
Parsons, clerk of St. Sepulchre's.

It chanced (here we turn to the Annual Register for 1762) that Mr.
K. left Fanny alone in Cock Lane while he went to a wedding in the
country. She asked little Elizabeth Parsons, her landlord's
daughter, to share her bed, and both of them were disturbed by
strange scratchings and rappings. These were attributed by Mrs.
Parsons to the industry of a neighbouring cobbler, but when they
occurred on a Sunday, this theory was abandoned. Poor Fanny,
according to the newspapers, thought the noises were a warning of
her own death. Others, after the event, imagined that they were
caused by the jealous or admonishing spirit of her dead sister.
Fanny and Mr. K. (having sued Mr. Parsons for money lent) left his
rooms in dudgeon, and went to Bartlet Court, Clerkenwell. Here
Fanny died on February 2, 1760, of a disease which her physician and
apothecary certified to be small-pox, and her coffin was laid in the
vault of St. John's Church. Now the noises in Cock Lane had ceased
for a year and a half after Fanny left the house, but they returned
in force in 1761-62. Mr. Parsons in vain took down the
wainscotting, to see whether some mischievous neighbour produced the
sounds. {165} The raps and scratches seemed to come on the bed of
little Elizabeth Parsons, just as in the case of the Tedworth
drummer, investigated by Glanvill, a hundred years earlier; and in
the case at Orleans, 230 years earlier. The Orleans case is
published, with full legal documents, from MS. 40, 7170, 4,
Bibliotheque du Roi, in Recueil de Dissertations Anciennes et
Nouvelles sur les Apparitions, ii. 90 (a Avignon, 1751).
'Scratching' was usually the first manifestation in this affair, and
the scratches were heard in the bedroom occupied by certain
children. The Cock Lane child 'was always affected with tremblings
and shiverings at the coming and going of the ghost'. It was stated
that the child had seen a shrouded figure without hands; two other
witnesses (one of them a publican) had seen a luminous apparition,
_with_ hands. This brilliant being lit up the figures on the dial
of a clock. 'The noises followed the child to other houses,' and
multitudes of people, clergy, nobles, and princes, also followed the
child. A certain Mr. Brown was an early investigator, and published
his report. Like Adrien de Montalembert, in 1526, like the
Franciscans about 1530, he asked the ghost to reply, affirmatively
or negatively, to questions, by one knock for 'yes,' two for 'no'.
This method was suggested, it seems, by a certain Mary Frazer, in
attendance on the child. Thus it was elicited that Fanny had been
poisoned by Mr. K. with 'red arsenic,' in a draught of purl to which
she was partial. She added that she wished to see Mr. K. hanged.

She would answer other questions, now right, and now wrong. She
called her father John, while his real name was Thomas. In fact she
was what Porphyry, the Neoplatonist, would have called a 'deceitful
demon'. Her chief effects were raps, scratchings, and a sound as of
whirring wings, which filled the room. This phenomenon occurs in a
'haunted house' mentioned in the Journal of the Psychical Society.
It is infinitely more curious to recall, that, when Mr. Im Thurn, in
British Guiana, submitted to the doctoring of a peayman (see p. 39),
he heard a sound, 'at first low and indistinct, and then gathering
in volume as if some big winged thing came from far toward the
house, passed through the roof, and then settled heavily on the
floor, and again, after an interval, as if the same winged thing
rose and passed away as it had come'. Mr. Im Thurn thinks the
impression was caused by the waving of boughs. These Cock Lane
occurrences were attributed to ventriloquism, but, after a surgeon
had held his hand on the child's stomach and chest while the noises
were being produced, this probable explanation was abandoned. 'The
girl was said to be constantly attended by the usual noises, though
bound and muffled hand and foot, and that without any motion of her
lips, and when she appeared to be asleep.' {166} This binding is
practised by Eskimo Angakut, or sorcerers, as of old, by mediums
([Greek]) in ancient Greece and Egypt, so we gather from Iamblichus,
and some lines quoted from Porphyry by Eusebius. {167} A kind of
'cabinet,' as modern spiritualists call a curtain, seems to have
been used. In fact the phenomena, luminous apparition, 'tumultuous
sounds,' and all, were familiar to the ancients. Nobody seems to
have noted this, but one unusually sensible correspondent of a
newspaper quoted cases of knockings from Baxter's Certainty of the
Worlds of Spirits, and thought that Baxter's popular book might have
suggested the imposture. Though the educated classes had buried
superstition, it lived, of course, among the people, who probably
thumbed Baxter and Glanvill.

Thus things went on, crowds gathering to amuse themselves with the
ghost. On February 1, Mr. Aldrich, a clergyman of Clerkenwell,
assembled in his house a number of gentlemen and ladies, having
persuaded Parsons to let his child be carried thither and tested.
Dr. Johnson was there, and Dr. Macaulay suggested the admission of a
Mrs. Oakes. Dr. Johnson supplied the newspapers with an account of
what happened. The child was put to bed by several ladies, about
ten o'clock, and the company sat 'for rather more than an hour,'
during which nothing occurred. The men then went down-stairs and
talked to Parsons, when they were interrupted by some of the ladies,
who said that scratching and knocking had set in. The company
returned, and made the child hold her hands outside the bedclothes.
No phenomena followed. Now the sprite had promised to rap on its
own coffin in the vault of St. John's, so thither they adjourned
(without the medium), but there was never a scratch!

'It is therefore the opinion of the whole assembly, that the child
has some art of making or counterfeiting particular noises, and that
there is no agency of any higher cause.'

In precisely the same way the judges in the Franciscan case of 1533,
visited the bed of the child where the spirit had been used to
scratch and rap, heard nothing, and decided that the affair was a
hoax. The nature of the fraud was not discovered, but the
Franciscans were severely punished. At Lyons, the bishop and some
other clerics could get no response from the rapping spirit which
was so familiar with the king's chaplain, Adrien de Montalembert
(1526-7). Thus 'the ghost in some measure remains undetected,' says
Goldsmith, and, indeed, Walpole visited Cock Lane, but could not get
in, apparently _after_ the detection. But, writing on February 2,
he may speak of an earlier date.

Meanwhile matters were very uncomfortable for Mr. K. Accused by a
ghost, he had no legal remedy. Goldsmith, like most writers,
assumes that Parsons undertook the imposture, in revenge for having
been sued for money lent by Mr. K. He adds that Mr. K. was engaged
in a Chancery suit by his relations, and seems to suspect their
agency. Meanwhile, Elizabeth was being 'tested' in various ways.
Finally the unlucky child was swung up in a kind of hammock, 'her
hands and feet extended wide,' and, for two nights, no noises were
heard. Next day she was told that, if there were no noises, she and
her father would be committed to Newgate. She accordingly concealed
a little board, on which a kettle usually stood, a piece of wood six
inches by four. She managed this with so little art that the maids
saw her place the wood in her dress, and informed the investigators
of the circumstances. Scratches were now produced, but the child
herself said that they were not like the former sounds, and 'the
concurrent opinion of the whole assembly was that the child had been
frightened by threats into this attempt. . . . The master of the
house and his friend both declared that the noises the girl had made
this morning _had not the least likeness to the former noises_.' In
the same way the Wesleys at Epworth, in 1716, found that they could
not imitate the perplexing sounds produced in the parsonage. The
end of the affair was that Parsons, Mary Frazer, a clergyman, a
tradesman, and others were tried at the Guildhall and convicted of a
conspiracy, on July 10, 1762. Parsons was pilloried, and 'a
handsome collection' was made for him by the spectators. His later
fortunes, or misfortunes, and those of the miserable little
Elizabeth, are unknown. One thing is certain, the noises did not
begin in an attempt at imposture on Parsons's part; he was on good
terms with his lodgers, when Fanny was first disturbed. Again, the
child could not counterfeit the sounds successfully when she was
driven by threats to make the effort. The seance of rather more
than an hour, in which Johnson took part, was certainly inadequate.
The phenomena were such as had been familiar to law and divinity, at
least since 856, A.D. {170a} The agencies always made accusations,
usually false. The knocking spirit at Kembden, near Bingen, in 856
charged a priest with a scandalous intrigue. The raps on the bed of
the children examined by the Franciscans, about 1530, assailed the
reputation of a dead lady. When the Foxes, at Rochester, in 1848-
49, set up alphabetic communication with the knocks, they told a
silly tale of a murder. The Cock Lane ghost lied in the same way.
The Fox girls started modern spiritualism on its wild and
mischievous career, as Elizabeth Parsons might have done, in a more
favourable environment. There was never anything new in all these
cases. The lowest savages have their seances, levitations, bindings
of the medium, trance-speakers; Peruvians, Indians, have their
objects moved without contact. Simon Magus, or St. Paul under that
offensive pseudonym, was said to make the furniture move at will.
{170b}

There is a curious recent Cock Lane case in Ireland where 'the
ghost' brought no accusations against anybody. The affair was
investigated by Mr. Barrett, a Professor in the Royal College of
Science, Dublin, who published the results in the Dublin University
Magazine, for December, 1877. The scene was a small lonely farm
house at Derrygonnelly, near Enniskillen. The farmer's wife had
died a few weeks before Easter, 1877, leaving him with four girls,
and one boy, of various ages, the eldest, Maggie, being twenty. The
noises were chiefly heard in her neighbourhood. When the children
had been put to bed, Maggie lay down, without undressing, in the
bedroom off the kitchen. A soft pattering noise was soon heard,
then raps, from all parts of the room, then scratchings, as in Cock
Lane. When Mr. Barrett, his friend, and the farmer entered with a
candle, the sounds ceased, but began again 'as if growing accustomed
to the presence of the light'. The hands and feet of the young
people were watched, but nothing was detected, while the raps were
going on everywhere around, on the chairs, on the quilt, and on the
big four-post wooden bedsteads where they were lying. Mr. Barrett
now played Moro with the raps, that is, he extended so many fingers,
keeping his hand in the pocket of a loose great-coat, and the sounds
always responded the right number. Four trials were made. Then
came a noise like the beating of a drum, 'with violent scratching
and tearing sounds'.

The trouble began three weeks after the wife's death. Once a number
of small stones were found on Maggie's bed. All the family suffered
from sleeplessness, and their candles, even when concealed, were
constantly stolen. 'It took a boot from a locked drawer,' and the
boot was found in a great chest of feathers in a loft. A Bible was
spirited about, and a Methodist teacher (the family were Methodists)
made no impression on the agency. They tried to get some
communication by an alphabet, but, said the farmer, 'it tells lies
as often as truth, and oftener, I think'.

Mr. Barrett, and a friend, on two occasions, could detect no method
of imposture, and, as the farmer did not believe that his children,
sorely distressed by the loss of their mother, would play such
tricks, at such a time, even if they could, the mystery remains
unsolved. The family found that the less attention they paid to the
disturbances, the less they were vexed. Mr. Barrett, examining some
other cases, found that Dr. Carpenter's and other theories did not
account for them. But it is certain that the children, as
Methodists, had read Wesley's account of the spirit at Epworth, in
1716. Mr. Barrett was aware of this circumstance, but was unable to
discover how the thing was managed, on the hypothesis of fraudulent
imitation. The Irish household seems to have reaped no profit by
the affair, but rather trouble, annoyance, and the expense of
hospitality to strange visitors.

The agency was mendacious, as usual, for Porphyry complains that the
'spirits' were always as deceitful as the Cock Lane ghost, feigning
to be gods, heroes, or the souls of the dead. It is very
interesting to note how, in Greece, as Christianity waxed, and
paganism waned, such inquiring minds as that of Porphyry fell back
on seances and spiritualism, or superstitions unmentioned by Homer,
and almost unheard of in the later classical literature. Religion,
which began in Shamanism, in the trances of Angakut and Birraark,
returned to these again, and everywhere found marvel, mystery,
imposture, conscious, or unconscious. The phenomena have never
ceased, imposture has always been detected or asserted, but that
hypothesis rarely covers the whole field, and so, if we walk in Cock
Lane at all, we wander darkling, in good and bad company, among
diviners, philosophers, saints, witches, charlatans, hypnotists.
Many a heart has been broken, like that of Mr. Dale Owen, by the
late discovery of life-long delusion, for we meet in Cock Lane, as
Porphyry says, [Greek]. Yet this 'deceptive race' has had its
stroke in the making of creeds, and has played its part in human
history, while it contributes not a little to human amusement.
Meanwhile, of all wanderers in Cock Lane, none is more beguiled than
sturdy Common-sense, if an explanation is to be provided. When once
we ask for more than 'all stuff and nonsense,' we speedily receive a
very mixed theory in which rats, indigestion, dreams, and of late,
hypnotism, are mingled much at random, for Common-sense shows more
valour than discretion, when she pronounces on matters (or spirits)
which she has never studied.

Beautiful instances of common-sense explanations, occur in two
stories of the last century, the St. Maur affair (1706), and the
haunted house of Amiens, (1746). The author of 'Ce qu'on doit
penser de l'aventure arrivee a Saint Maur,' was M. Poupart, canon of
St. Maur, near Paris. The good canon, of course, admits Biblical
apparitions, which are miraculous, and admits hallucination caused
by the state of the visual organs and by fever, while he believes in
something like the Lucretian idea, that bodies, dead bodies, at
least, shell off a kind of peel, which may, on occasion, be visible.
Common ghosts he dismisses on grounds of common-sense; if spirits in
Purgatory _could_ appear, they would appear more frequently, and
would not draw the curtains of beds, drag at coverlets, turn tables
upside down, and make terrible noises, all of which feats are
traditional among ghosts.

M. Poupart then comes to the adventure at St. Maur. The percipient,
M. de S., was a man of twenty-five: his mother seems to have been a
visionary, and his constitution is described as 'melancholic'. He
was living alone, however, and his mother has no part in the
business. The trouble began with loud knocks at his door, and the
servant, when she went to open it, found nobody there. The curtains
of his bed were drawn, when he was alone in the room, and here, of
course, we have only his evidence. One evening about eleven, he and
his servants heard the papers on a table being turned over, and,
though they suspected the cat, no cat could be found. When S. went
to bed, the same noise persisted in his sitting-room, where the cat,
no doubt, could easily conceal herself, for it is not easy to find a
cat who has motives for not being found. S. again hunted for the
animal, but only heard a great rap on the wall. No sooner had S.
gone back to bed, than the bed gave a violent leap, and dashed
itself against the wall: the jump covered four feet. He called his
servants, who replaced the bed, but the curtains, in their sight,
were drawn, and the bed made a wild rush at the fireplace. This
happened again twice, though the servants held on gallantly to the
bed. Monsieur S. had no sleep, his bed continued to bound and run,
and he sent on the following day, for a friend. In that gentleman's
presence the leaps made by the bed ended in its breaking its left
foot, on which the visitor observed that he had seen quite enough.
He is said, later, to have expressed sorrow that he spoke, but he
may have had various motives for this repentance.

On the following night, S. slept well, and if his bed did rise and
fall gently, the movement rather cradled him to repose. In the
afternoon, the bolts of his parlour door closed of their own accord,
and the door of a large armoire opened. A voice then bade S. do
certain things, which he was to keep secret, go to a certain place,
and find people who would give him further orders. S. then fainted,
hurt himself, and with difficulty unbolted his door. A fortnight
later, S., his mother, and a friend heard more rapping, and a heavy
knock on the windows.

M. Poupart now gives the explanations of common-sense. The early
noises might have had physical causes: master, servants, and
neighbours all heard them, but that proves nothing. As to the
papers, a wind, or a mouse may have interfered with _them_. The
movements of the bed are more serious, as there are several
witnesses. But 'suppose the bed was on castors'. The inquirer does
not ask whether it really was on castors, or not, he supposes the
case. Then suppose S., that melancholy man, wants a lark (a envie
de se rejouir), he therefore tosses about in bed, and the bed
rushes, consequently, round the room. This experiment may be
attempted by any philosopher. Let him lie in a bed with castors,
and try how far he can make it run, while he kicks about in it.
This explanation, dear to common-sense, is based on a physical
impossibility, as any one may ascertain for himself. Then the
servants tried in vain to hold back the excited couch, well, these
servants may have lied, and, at most, could not examine 'les
ressorts secrets qui causaient ce mouvement'. Now, M. Poupart
deserts the theory that we can make a bed run about, by lying
kicking on it, and he falls back on hidden machinery. The
independent witness is said to have said that he was sorry he spoke,
but this evidence proves nothing. What happened in the room when
the door was bolted, is not evidence, of course, and we may imagine
that S. himself made the noises on walls and windows, when his
friend and mother were present. Thus M. S. was both melancholy, and
anxious se donner un divertissement, by frightening his servants, to
which end he supplied his bed with machinery that made it jump, and
drew the curtains. What kind of secret springs would perform these
feats, M. Poupart does not explain. It would have been wiser in him
to say that he did not believe a word of it, than to give such silly
reasons for a disbelief that made no exact inquiry into the
circumstances. The frivolities of the bed are reported in the case
of Home and others, nor can we do much more than remark the
conservatism of the phenomena; the knocks, and the animated
furniture.

The Amiens case (1746) is reported and attested by Father Charles
Louis Richard, Professor in Theology, a Dominican friar. The
haunted house was in the Rue de l'Aventure, parish of St. Jacques.
The tenant was a M. Leleu, aged thirty-six. The troubles had lasted
for fourteen years, and there was evidence for their occurrence
earlier, before Leleu occupied the house. The disturbances were of
the usual kind, a sound of heavy planks being tossed about, as in
the experience of Scott at Abbotsford, raps, the fastening of doors
so that they could not be opened for long, and then suddenly gave
way (this, also, is frequent in modern tales), a sound of sweeping
the floor, as in the Epworth case, in the Wesleys' parsonage, heavy
knocks and thumps, the dragging of heavy bodies, steps on the
stairs, lights, the dancing of all the furniture in the room of
Mlle. Marie de Latre, rattling of crockery, a noise of whirring in
the air, a jingling as of coins (familiar at Epworth), and, briefly,
all the usually reported tintamarre. Twenty persons, priests,
women, girls, men of all sorts, attest those phenomena which are
simply the ordinary occurrences still alleged to be prevalent.

The narrator believes in diabolical agency, but he gives the
explanations of common-sense. 1. M. Leleu is a visionary. But, as
no one says that all the other witnesses are visionaries, this helps
us little. 2. M. Leleu makes all the noise himself. That is, he
climbs to the roof with a heavy sack of grain on his shoulder, and
lets it fall; he runs up and down the chimneys with his heavy sack
on his shoulder, he frolics with weighty planks all over the house,
thumps the walls, makes furniture dance, and how? What is his
motive? His tenants leave him, he is called a fool, a devil, a
possessed person: his business is threatened, they talk of putting
him in jail, and that is all he has got by his partiality for making
a racket. 3. The neighbours make the noises, and again the
narrator asks 'how?' and 'why?' 4. Some priests slept in the house
once and heard nothing. But nobody pretends that there is always
something to hear. The Bishop of Amiens licenses the publication
'with the more confidence, as we have ourselves received the
depositions of ten witnesses, a number more than sufficient to
attest a fact which nobody has any interest in feigning'.

In a tale like this, which is only one out of a vast number, exactly
analogous, Common-sense is ill-advised in simply alleging imposture,
so long maintained, so motiveless, and, on the whole, so very
difficult to execute. M. Leleu brought in the Church, with its
exorcisms, but our Dominican authority does not say whether or not
the noises ceased after the rites had been performed. Dufresnoy, in
whose Dissertations {178} these documents are republished, mentions
that Bouchel, in his Bibliotheque du Droit Francois, d. v. 'Louage,'
treats of the legal aspect of haunted houses. Thus the profession
has not wholly disdained the inquiry.

Of all common sensible explanations, the most sporting and good-
humoured is that given by the step-daughter of Alexander Dingwall, a
tenant in Inverinsh, in 1761. Poor Dingwall in his cornyard 'heard
very grievous lamentations, which continued, as he imagined, all the
way to the seashore'. These he regarded as a warning of his end,
but his stepdaughter sensibly suggested that, as the morning was
cold, 'the voice must be that of a fox, to cause dogs run after him
to give him heat'. Dingwall took to bed and died, but the
suggestion that the fox not only likes being hunted, but provokes it
as a form of healthy exercise, is invaluable. The tale is in
Theophilus Insulanus, on the second sight.

There is no conclusion to be drawn from this mass of Cock Lane
stories. Occasionally an impostor is caught, as at Brightling, in
1659. Mr. Joseph Bennet, a minister in that town, wrote an account
of the affair, published in Increase Mather's Remarkable
Providences. 'Several things were thrown by an invisible hand,'
including crabs! 'Yet there was a seeming blur cast, though not on
the whole, yet upon some part of it, for their servant girl was at
last found throwing some things.' She averred that an old woman had
bidden her do so, saying that 'her master and dame were bewitched,
and that they should hear a great fluttering about their house for
the space of two days'. This Cock Lane phenomenon, however, is not
reported to have occurred. The most credulous will admit that the
maid is enough to account for the Brightling manifestations; some of
the others are more puzzling and remain in the region of the
unexplained.

APPARITIONS, GHOSTS, AND HALLUCINATIONS.

Apparitions appear. Apparitions are not necessarily Ghosts.
Superstition, Common-sense, and Science. Hallucinations: their
kinds, and causes. Aristotle. Mr. Gurney's definition. Various
sources of Hallucination, external and internal. The Organ of
Sense. The Sensory Centre. The Higher Tracts of the Brain. Nature
of Evidence. Dr. Hibbert. Claverhouse. Lady Lee. Dr. Donne. Dr.
Hibbert's complaint of want of evidence. His neglect of
contemporary cases. Criticism of his tales. The question of
coincidental Hallucinations. The Calculus of Probabilities: M.
Richet, MM. Binet et Fere; their Conclusions. A step beyond
Hibbert. Examples of empty and unexciting Wraiths. Our ignorance
of causes of Solitary Hallucinations. The theory of 'Telepathy'.
Savage metaphysics of M. d'Assier. Breakdown of theory of
Telepathy, when hallucinatory figure causes changes in physical
objects. Animals as Ghost-seers: difficult to explain this by
Telepathy. Strange case of a cat. General propriety and lack of
superstition in cats. The Beresford Ghost, well-meaning but
probably mythical. Mrs. Henry Sidgwick: her severity as regards
conscientious Ghosts. Case of Mr. Harry. Case of Miss Morton. A
difficult case. Examples in favour of old-fashioned theory of
Ghosts. Contradictory cases. Perplexities of the anxious inquirer.

Only one thing is certain about apparitions, namely this, that they
do appear. They really are perceived. Now, as popular language
confuses apparitions with ghosts, this statement sounds like an
expression of the belief that ghosts appear. It has, of course, no
such meaning. When Le Loyer, in 1586, boldly set out to found a
'science of spectres,' he carefully distinguished between his
method, and the want of method observable in the telling of ghost
stories. He began by drawing up long lists of apparitions which are
_not_ spectres, or ghosts, but the results of madness, malady,
drink, fanaticism, illusions and so forth. It is true that Le
Loyer, with all his deductions, left plenty of genuine spectres for
the amusement of his readers. Like him we must be careful not to
confound 'apparitions,' with 'ghosts'.

When a fist, applied to the eye, makes us 'see stars'; when a liver
not in good working order makes us see muscae volitantes, or
'spiders'; when alcohol produces 'the horrors,'--visions of
threatening persons or animals,--when a lesion of the brain, or
delirium, or a disease of the organs of sense causes visions, or
when they occur to starved and enthusiastic ascetics, all these
false perceptions are just as much 'apparitions,' as the view of a
friend at a distance, beheld at the moment of his death, or as the
unrecognised spectre seen in a haunted house.

In popular phrase, however, the two last kinds of apparitions are
called 'ghosts,' or 'wraiths,' and the popular tendency is to think
of these, and of these alone, when 'apparitions' are mentioned. On
the other hand the tendency of common-sense is to rank the two last
sorts of apparition, the wraith and ghost, with all the other kinds,
which are undeniably caused by accident, by malady, mental or
bodily, or by mere confusion and misapprehension, as when one,
seeing a post in the moonlight, takes it for a ghost. Science,
following a third path, would class all perceptions which 'have not
the basis in fact that they seem to have' as 'hallucinations'. The
stars seen after a blow on the eye are hallucinations,--there are no
real stars in view,--and the friend, whose body seems to fill space
before our sight when his body is really on a death-bed far away;--
and again, the appearance of the living friend whom we see in the
drawing-room while he is really in the smoking-room or in
Timbuctoo,--are hallucinations also. The common-sense of the matter
is stated by Aristotle. 'The reason of the hallucinations is that
appearances present themselves, not only when the _object of sense_
is itself in motion, but also when the _sense_ is stirred, as it
would be by the presence of the object' (De Insomn., ii. 460, b, 23-
26).

The ghost in a haunted house is taken for a figure, say, of a monk,
or of a monthly nurse, or what not, but no monthly nurse or monk is
in the establishment. The 'percept,' is a 'percept,' for those who
perceive it; the apparition is an apparition, for _them_, but the
perception is hallucinatory.

So far, everybody is agreed: the differences begin when we ask what
causes hallucinations, and what different classes of hallucinations
exist? Taking the second question first, we find hallucinations
divided into those which the percipient (or percipients) believes,
at the moment, and perhaps later, to be real; and those which his
judgment pronounces to be _false_. Famous cases of the latter class
are the idola which beset Nicolai, who studied them, and wrote an
account of them. After a period of trouble and trial, and neglect
of blood-letting, Nicolai saw, first a dead man whom he had known,
and, later, crowds of people, dead, living, known or unknown. The
malady yielded to leeches. {183} Examples of the first sort of
apparitions taken by the judgment to be _real_, are common in
madness, in the intemperate, and in ghost stories. The maniac
believes in his visionary attendant or enemy, the drunkard in his
rats and snakes, the ghost-seer often supposes that he has actually
seen an acquaintance (where no mistaken identity is possible) and
only learns later that the person,--dead, or alive and well,--was at
a distance. Thus the writer is acquainted with the story of a
gentleman who, when at work in his study at a distance from England,
saw a colleague in his profession enter the room. 'Just wait till I
finish this business,' he said, but when he had hastily concluded
his letter, or whatever he was engaged on, his friend had
disappeared. That was the day of his friend's death, in England.
Here then the hallucination was taken for a reality; indeed, there
was nothing to suggest that it was anything else. Mr. Gurney has
defined a hallucination as 'a percept which lacks, but which can
only by distinct reflection be recognised as lacking, the objective
basis which it suggests'--and by 'objective basis,' he means 'the
possibility of being shared by all persons with normal senses'.
Nobody but the 'percipient' was present on the occasion just
described, so we cannot say whether other people would have seen the
visitor, or not. But reflection could not recognise the unreality
of this 'percept,' till it was found that, in fact, the visitor had
vanished, and had never been in the neighbourhood at all.

Here then, are two classes of hallucinations, those which reflection
shows us to be false (as if a sane man were to have the
hallucination of a crocodile, or of a dead friend, entering the
room), and those which reflection does not, at the moment, show to
be false, as if a friend were to enter, who could be proved to have
been absent.

In either case, what causes the hallucination, or are there various
possible sorts of causes? Now defects in the eye, or in the optic
nerve, to speak roughly, may cause hallucinations _from without_.
An injured external organ conveys a false and distorted message to
the brain and to the intelligence. A nascent malady of the ear may
produce buzzings, and these may develop into hallucinatory voices.
Here be hallucinations _from without_. But when a patient begins
with a hallucination of the intellect, as that inquisitors are
plotting to catch him, or witches to enchant him, and when he later
comes to _see_ inquisitors and witches, where there are none, we
have, apparently, a hallucination _from within_. Again, some
persons, like Blake the painter, _voluntarily_ start a
hallucination. 'Draw me Edward I.,' a friend would say, Blake
would, _voluntarily_, establish a hallucination of the monarch on a
chair, in a good light, and sketch him, if nobody came between his
eye and the royal sitter. Here, then, are examples of
hallucinations begotten _from within_, either voluntarily, by a
singular exercise of fancy, or involuntarily, as the suggestion of
madness, of cerebral disease, or abnormal cerebral activity.

Again a certain amount of intensity of activity, at a 'sensory
centre' in the brain, will start a 'percept'. Activity of the
necessary force at the right place, may be _normally_ caused by the
organ of sense, say the eye, when fixed on a real object, say a
candlestick. (1) Or the necessary activity at the sensory centre
may be produced, _abnormally_, by irritation of the eye, or along
the line of nerve from the eye to the 'sensory centre'. (2) Or
thirdly, there may be a morbid, but spontaneous activity in the
sensory centre itself. (3) In case one, we have a natural
sensation converted into a perception of a real object. In case
two, we have an abnormal origin of a perception of something unreal,
a hallucination, begotten _from without_, that is by a vice in an
external organ, the eye. In case three, we have the origin of an
abnormal perception of something _unreal_, a hallucination, begotten
by a vicious activity _within_, in the sensory centre. But, while
all these three sets of stimuli set the machinery in motion, it is
the 'highest parts of the brain' that, in response to the stimuli,
create the full perception, real or hallucinatory.

But there remains a fourth way of setting the machinery in motion.
The first way, in normal sensation and perception, was the natural
action of the organ of sense, stimulated by a material object. The
second way was by the stimulus of a vice in the organ of sense. The
third way was a vicious activity in a sensory centre. All three
stimuli reach the 'central terminus' of the brain, and are there
created into perceptions, the first real and normal, the second a
hallucination from an organ of sense, _from without_, the third a
hallucination from a sensory centre, _from within_. The fourth way
is illustrated when the machinery is set a-going from the 'central
terminus' itself, 'from the higher parts of the brain, from the
seats of ideation and memory'. Now, as long as these parts only
produce and retain ideas or memories in the usual way, we think, or
we remember, but we have no hallucination. But when the activity
starting from the central terminus 'escapes downwards,' in
sufficient force, it reaches the 'lower centre' and the organ of
sense, and then the idea, or memory, stands visibly before us as a
hallucination.

This, omitting many technical details, and much that is matter of
more dispute than common, is a statement, rough, and as popular as
possible, of the ideas expressed in Mr. Gurney's remarkable essay on
hallucinations. {186} Here, then, we have a rude working notion of
various ways in which hallucinations may be produced. But there are
many degrees in being hallucinated, or enphantosme, as the old
French has it. If we are interested in the most popular kind of
hallucinations, ghosts and wraiths, we first discard like Le Loyer,
the evidence of many kinds of witnesses, diversely but undeniably
hallucinated. A man whose eyes are so vicious as habitually to give
him false information is not accepted as a witness, nor a man whose
brain is drugged with alcohol, nor a man whose 'central terminus' is
abandoned to religious excitement, to remorse, to grief, to anxiety,
to an apprehension of secret enemies, nor even to a habit of being
hallucinated, though, like Nicolai, he knows that his visionary
friends are unreal. Thus we would not listen credulously to a ghost
story out of his own experience from a man whose eyes were
untrustworthy, nor from a short-sighted man who had recognised a
dead or dying friend on the street, nor from a drunkard. A tale of
a vision of a religious character from Pascal, or from a Red Indian
boy during his Medicine Fast, or even from a colonel of dragoons who
fell at Prestonpans, might be interesting, but would not be evidence
for our special purpose. The ghosts beheld by conscience-stricken
murderers, by sorrowing widowers, by spiritualists in dark rooms,
haunted by humbugs, or those seen by lunatics, or by children, or by
timid people in lonely old houses, or by people who, though sane at
the time, go mad twenty years later, or by sane people habitually
visionary, these and many other ghosts, we must begin, like Le
Loyer, by rejecting. These witnesses have too much cerebral
activity at the wrong time and place. They start their
hallucinations from the external terminus, the unhealthy organ of
sense; from the morbid central terminus; or from some dilapidated
cerebral station along the line. But, when we have, in a sane man's
experience, say one hallucination whether that hallucination does,
or does not coincide with a crisis in the life, or perhaps with the
death of the person who seems to be seen, what are we to think? Or
again, when several witnesses simultaneously have the same
hallucination,--not to be explained as a common misinterpretation of
a real object,--what are we to think? This is the true question of
ghosts and wraiths. That apparitions, so named by the world, do
appear, is certain, just as it is certain that visionary rats appear
to drunkards in delirium tremens. But, as we are only to take the
evidence of sane and healthy witnesses, who were neither in anxiety,
grief, or other excitement, when they perceived their one
hallucination, there seems to be a difference between their
hallucinations and those of alcoholism, fanaticism, sorrow, or
anxiety. Now the common mistakes in dealing with this topic have
been to make too much, or to make too little, of the coincidences
between the hallucinatory appearance of an absent person, and his
death, or some other grave crisis affecting him. Too little is made
of such coincidences by Dr. Hibbert, in his Philosophy of
Apparitions (p. 231). He 'attempts a physical explanation of many
ghost stories which may be considered most authentic'. So he says,
but he only touches on three, the apparition of Claverhouse, on the
night of Killiecrankie, to Lord Balcarres, in an Edinburgh prison;
the apparition of her dead mother to Miss Lee, in 1662; and the
apparition of his wife, who had born a dead child on that day in
England, to Dr. Donne in Paris, early in the seventeenth century.

Dr. Hibbert dedicated his book, in 1825, to Sir Walter Scott, of
Abbotsford, Bart., President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Sir
Walter, at heart as great a ghost-hunter as ever lived, was
conceived to have a scientific interest in the 'mental principles to
which certain popular illusions may be referred'. Thus Dr.
Hibbert's business, if he would satisfy the President of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh, was to 'provide a physical explanation of many
ghost stories which may be considered most authentic'. In our
prosaic age, he would have begun with those most recent, such as the
tall man in brown, viewed by Sir Walter on the moor near Ashestiel,
and other still remembered contemporary hallucinations. Far from
that, Dr. Hibbert deliberately goes back two centuries for all the
three stories which represent the 'many' of his promise. The
Wynyard ghost was near him, Mrs Ricketts's haunted house was near
him, plenty of other cases were lying ready to his hand. {189} But
he went back two centuries, and then,--complained of lack of
evidence about 'interesting particulars'! Dr. Hibbert represents
the science and common-sense of seventy years ago, and his criticism
probably represents the contemporary ideas about evidence.

The Balcarres tale, as told by him, is that the Earl was 'in prison,
in Edinburgh Castle, on the suspicion of Jacobitism'. 'Suspicion'
is good; he was the King's agent for civil, as Dundee was for
military affairs in Scotland. He and Dundee, and Ailesbury, stood
by the King in London, to the last. Lord Balcarres himself, in his
memoirs, tells James II. how he was confined, 'in close prison,' in
Edinburgh, till the castle was surrendered to the Prince of Orange.
In Dr. Hibbert's tale, the spectre of Dundee enters Balcarres's room
at night, 'draws his curtain,' looks at him for some time, and walks
out of the room, Lord Balcarres believing it to be Dundee himself.

Dr. Hibbert never even asks for the authority on which this legend
reposes, certainly Balcarres does not tell the tale in his own
report, or memoirs, for James II. (Bannatyne Club, 1841). The
doctor then grumbles that he does not know 'a syllable of the state
of Lord Balcarres's health at the time'. The friend of Bayle and of
Marlborough, an honourable politician, a man at once loyal and
plain-spoken in dealings with his master, Lord Balcarres's word
would go for much, if he gave it. {190} But Dr. Hibbert asks for no
authority, cites none. He only argues that, 'agreeably to the well-
known doctrine of chances,' Balcarres might as well have this
hallucination at the time of Dundee's death as at any other (p.
232). Now, that is a question which we cannot settle, without
knowing whether Lord Balcarres was subject to hallucinations. If he
was, cadit quaestio, if he was _not_, then the case is different.
It is, manifestly, a problem in statistics, and only by statistics
of wide scope, can it be solved. {191} But Dr. Hibbert was content
to produce his easy solution, without working out the problem.

His second case is of 1662, and was taken down, he says, by the
Bishop of Gloucester, from the lips of the father of Miss Lee. This
young lady, in bed, saw a light, then a hallucination which called
itself her mother. The figure prophesied the daughter's death at
noon next day and at noon next day the daughter died. A physician,
when she announced her vision, attended her, bled her, and could
find nothing wrong in her health. Dr. Hibbert conjectures that her
medical attendant did not know his business. 'The coincidence was
_a fortunate one_,' that is all his criticism. Where there is no
coincidence, the stories, he says, are forgotten. For that very
reason, he should have collected contemporary stories, capable of
being investigated, but that did not occur to Dr. Hibbert. His last
case is the apparition of Mrs. Donne, with a dead child, to Dr.
Donne, in Paris, as recorded by Walton. As Donne was a poet, very
fond of his wife, and very anxious about her health, this case is
not evidential, and may be dismissed for 'a fortuitous coincidence'
(p. 332).

Certainly Dr. Hibbert could come to no conclusion, save his own, on
the evidence he adduces. But it was by his own fault that he chose
only evidence very remote, incapable of being cross-examined, and
scanty, while we know that plenty of contemporary evidence was
within his reach. Possibly the possessors of these experiences
would not have put them at his disposal, but, if he could get no
materials, he was in no position to form a theory. All this would
have been recognised in any other matter, but in this obscure branch
of psychology, beset, as it is, by superstition, science was content
to be casual.

The error which lies at the opposite pole from Dr. Hibbert's mistake
in not collecting instances, is the error of collecting only
affirmative instances. We hear constantly about 'hallucinations of
sight, sound, or touch, which suggest the presence of an absent
person, and which occur simultaneously with some exceptional crisis
in that person's life, or, most frequently of all, with his death'.
{192} Now Mr. Gurney himself was much too fair a reasoner to avoid
the collection of instantiae contradictoraes, examples in which the
hallucination occurs, but does not coincide with any crisis whatever
in the life of the absent person who seems to be present. Of these
cases, Dr. Hibbert could find only one on record, in the Mercure
Gallant, January, 1690. The writer tells us how he dreamed that a
dead relation of his came to his bedside, and announced that he must
die that day. Unlike Miss Lee, he went on living. Yet the dream
impressed him so much that he noted it down in writing as soon as he
awoke. Dr. Johnson also mentions an instantia contradictoria. A
friend of Boswell's, near Kilmarnock, heard his brother's voice call
him by name: now his brother was dead, or dying, in America.
Johnson capped this by his tale of having, when at Oxford, heard his
name pronounced by his mother. She was then at Lichfield, but
nothing ensued. In Dr. Hibbert's opinion, this proves that
coincidences, when they do occur, are purely matters of chance.
{193a} There are many hallucinations, a death may correspond with
one of them, that case is noted, the others are forgotten. Yet the
coincidences are so many, or so striking, that when a Maori woman
has a hallucination representing her absent husband, she may marry
without giving him recognised ground for resentment, if he happens
to be alive. This curious fact proves that the coincidence between
death and hallucinatory presence has been marked enough to suggest a
belief which can modify savage jealousy. {193b}

By comparing coincidental with non-coincidental hallucinations known
to him, Mr. Gurney is said to have decided that the chances against
a death coinciding with a hallucination, were forty to one,--long
odds. {194a} But it is clear that only a very large collection of
facts would give us any materials for a decision. Suppose that some
20,000 people answer such questions as:--

1. Have you ever had any hallucination?

2. Was there any coincidence between the hallucination and facts at
the time unknown to you?

The majority of sane people will be able to answer the first
question in the negative.

Of those who answer both questions in the affirmative, several
things are to be said. First, we must allow for jokes, then for
illusions of memory. Corroborative contemporary evidence must be
produced. Again, of the 20,000, many are likely to be selected
instances. The inquirer is tempted to go to a person who, as he or
she already knows, has a story to tell. Again, the inquirers are
likely to be persons who take an interest in the subject on the
_affirmative_ side, and their acquaintances may have been partly
chosen because they were of the same intellectual complexion. {194b}

All these drawbacks are acknowledged to exist, and are allowed for,
and, as far as possible, provided against, by the very fair-minded
people who have conducted this inquisition. Thus Mr. Henry
Sidgwick, in 1889, said, 'I do not think we can be satisfied with
less than 50,000 answers'. {195} But these 50,000 answers have not
been received. When we reflect that, to our knowledge, out of
twenty-five questions asked among our acquaintances in one place,
_none_ would be answered in the affirmative: while, by selecting,
we could get twenty-five affirmative replies, the delicacy and
difficulty of the inquisition becomes painfully evident. Mr.
Sidgwick, after making deductions on all sides of the most
sportsmanlike character, still holds that the coincidences are more
numerous by far than the Calculus of Probabilities admits. This is
a question for the advanced mathematician. M. Richet once made some
experiments which illustrate the problem. One man in a room thought
of a series of names which, ex hypothesi, he kept to himself. Three
persons sat at a table, which, as tables will do, 'tilted,' and each
tilt rang an electric bell. Two other persons, concealed from the
view of the table tilters, ran through an alphabet with a pencil,
marking each letter at which the bell rang. These letters were
compared with the names secretly thought of by the person at neither
table.

He thought of The answers were

1. Jean Racine 1. Igard

2. Legros 2. Neghn

3. Esther 3. Foqdem

4. Henrietta 4. Higiegmsd

5. Cheuvreux 5. Dievoreq

6. Doremond 6. Epjerod

7. Chevalon 7. Cheval

8. Allouand 8. Iko

Here the non-mathematical reader will exclaim: 'Total failure,
except in case 7!' And, about that case, he will have his private
doubts. But, arguing mathematically, M. Richet proves that the
table was right, beyond the limits of mere chance, by fourteen to
two. He concludes, on the whole of his experiments, that, probably,
intellectual force in one brain may be echoed in another brain. But
MM. Binet and Fere, who report this, decide that 'the calculation of
chances is, for the most part, incapable of affording a peremptory
proof; it produces uncertainty, disquietude, and doubt'. {196} 'Yet
something is gained by substituting doubt for systematic denial.
Richet has obtained this important result, that henceforth the
possibility of mental suggestion cannot be met with contemptuous
rejection.'

Mental suggestion on this limited scale, is a phenomenon much less
startling to belief than the reality, and causal nature, of
coincidental hallucinations, of wraiths. But it is plain that, as
far as general opinion goes, the doctrine of chances, applied to
such statistics of hallucinations as have been collected, can at
most, only 'produce uncertainty, disquietude, and doubt'. Yet if
even these are produced, a step has been made beyond the blank
negation of Hibbert.

The general reader, even if credulously inclined, is more staggered
by a few examples of non-coincidental hallucinations, than confirmed
by a pile of coincidental examples. Now it seems to be a defect in
the method of the friends of wraiths, that they do not publish, with
full and impressive details, as many examples of non-coincidental as
of coincidental hallucinations. It is the _story_ that takes the
public: if we are to be fair we must give the non-coincidental
story in all its features, as is done in the matter of wraiths with
a kind of message or meaning.

Let us set a good example, by adducing wraiths which, in slang
phrase, were 'sells'. Those which we have at first hand are marked
'(A),' those at second-hand '(B)'. But the world will accept the
story of a ghost that failed on very poor evidence indeed.

1. (A) A young lady, in the dubious state between awake and
asleep, unable, in fact, to feel certain whether she was awake or
asleep, beheld her late grandmother. The old lady wept as she sat
by the bedside.

'Why do you weep, grandmamma, are you not happy where you are?'
asked the girl.

'Yes, I am happy, but I am weeping for your mother.'

'Is she going to die?'

'No, but she is going to lose you.'

'Am _I_ going to die, grandmamma?'

'Yes, my dear.'

'Soon?'

'Yes, my dear, very soon.'

The young lady, with great courage, concealed her dream from her
mother, but confided it to a brother. She did her best to be good
while she was on earth, where she is still, after an interval of
many years.

Except for the conclusion, and the absence of a mystic bright light
in the bedroom, this case exactly answers to that of Miss Lee, in
1662. Dr. Hibbert would have liked this example.

2. (B) A lady, staying with a friend, observed that one morning
she was much depressed. The friend confided to her that, in the
past night, she had seen her brother, dripping wet. He told her
that he had been drowned by the upsetting of a boat, which was
attached by a rope to a ship. At this time, he was on his way home
from Australia. The dream, or vision, was recorded in writing.
When next the first lady met her friend, she was entertaining her
brother at luncheon. He had never even been in a boat dragged
behind a ship, and was perfectly safe.

3. (B) A lady, residing at a distance from Oxford wrote to tell
her son, who was at Merton College, that he had just entered her
room and vanished. Was he well? Yes, he was perfectly well, and
bowling for the College Eleven.

4. (B) A lady in bed saw her absent husband. He announced his
death by cholera, and gave her his blessing, she, of course, was
very anxious and miserable, but the vision was a lying vision. The
husband was perfectly well.

In all these four cases, anxiety was caused by the vision, and in
three at least, action was taken, the vision was recorded orally, or
in writing. In the following set, the visions were waking
hallucinations of sane persons never in any other instance
hallucinated.

5. (A) A person of distinction, walking in a certain Cambridge
quadrangle, met a very well-known clergyman. The former held out
his hand, but there was before him only open space. No feeling of
excitement or anxiety followed.

6. (A) The writer, standing before dinner, at a table in a large
and brilliantly lit hall, saw the door of the drawing-room open, and
a little girl, related to himself, come out, and run across the hall
into another room. He spoke to her, but she did not answer. He
instantly entered the drawing-room, where the child was sitting in a
white evening-dress. When she ran across the hall, the moment
before, she was dressed in dark blue serge. No explanation of the
puzzle could be discovered, but it is fair to add that no anxiety
was excited.

7. (A) A young lady had a cold, and was wearing a brown shawl.
After lunch she went to her room. A few minutes later, her sister
came out, saw her in the hall, and went upstairs after her, telling
her an anecdote. At the top of the stairs, the brown-shawled sister
vanished. The elder sister was in her room, in a white shawl. She
was visible, when absent on another occasion, to another spectator.

In two other cases (A) ladies, in their usual health, saw their
husbands in their rooms, when, in fact, they were in the drawing-
room or study. Here then are eight cases of non-coincidental
hallucination, some of people awake, some of people probably on the
verge of sleep, which are wholly without 'coincidence,' wholly
unveridical. None of the 'percipients' was addicted to seeing
'visions about.' {199}

On the other side, though the writer knows several people who have
'seen ghosts' in haunted houses, and other odd phenomena, he knows
nobody, at first hand, who has seen a 'veridical hallucination,' or
rather, knows only one, a very young one indeed. Thus, between
these personally collected statistics of spectral 'sells' on one
part, and the world-wide diffusion of belief in 'coincidental'
hallucination on the other, the human mind is left in a balance
which mathematics, and the Calculus of Probabilities (especially if
one does not understand it) fail to affect.

Meanwhile, we still do not know what causes these solitary
hallucinations of the sane. They can hardly come from diseased
organs of sense, for these would not confine themselves to a single
mistaken message of great vivacity. And why should either the
'sensory centre' or the 'central terminus' just once in a lifetime
develop this uncanny activity, and represent to us a person to whom
we may be wholly indifferent? The explanation is less difficult
when the person represented is a husband or child, but even then,
why does the activity occur once, and only once, and _not_ in a
moment of anxiety?

The coincidental hallucinations are laid to the door of 'telepathy,'
to 'a telepathic impact from the mind of an absent agent,' who is
dying, or in some other state of rare or exciting experience,
perhaps being married, as in Col. Meadows Taylor's case. This is a
theory as old as Lavaterus, and was proclaimed by Mayo in the middle
of the century; while, substituting 'angels' for human agents,
Frazer of Tiree used it, in 1700, to explain second sight. Nay, it
is the Norse theory of a 'sending' by a sorcerer, as we read in the
Icelandic sagas. But, admitting that telepathy may be a cause of
hallucinations, we often find the effect where the cause is not
alleged to exist. Nobody, perhaps, will explain our nine empty
hallucinations by 'telepathy,' yet, from the supposed effects of
telepathy they were indistinguishable. Are all such cases of casual
hallucination in the sane to be explained by telepathy, by an impact
of force from a distant brain on the central terminus of our own
brains? At all events, a casual hallucination of the presence of an
absent friend need obviously cause us very little anxiety. We need
not adopt the hypothesis of the Maoris.

The telepathic theory has the advantage of cutting down the
marvellous to the minimum. It also accounts for that old puzzle,
the clothes worn by the ghosts. These are reproduced by the
'agent's' theory of himself, perhaps with some unconscious
assistance from 'the percipient'. For lack of this light on the
matter, M. d'Assier, a positivist, who believed in spectres had to
suggest that the ghosts wear the ghosts of garments! Thus
positivism, in this disciple, returned to the artless metaphysics of
savages. Telepathy saves the believer from such a humiliating
relapse, and, perhaps, telepathy also may be made to explain
'collective' hallucinations, when several people see the same
apparition. If a distant mind can thus demoralise the central
terminus of one brain, it may do as much for two or more brains, or
they may demoralise each other.

All this is very promising, but telepathy breaks down when the
apparition causes some change in the relations of material objects.
If there be a physical effect which endures after the phantasm has
vanished, then there was an actual agent, a real being, a 'ghost' on
the scene. For instance, the lady in Scott's ballad, 'The Eve of
St. John,' might see and might hear the ghost of her lover by a
telepathic hallucination of two senses. But if

The sable score, of fingers four,
Remained on the board impressed

by the spectre, then there was no telepathic hallucination, but an
actual being of an awful kind was in Smailholm Tower. Again, the
cases in which dogs and horses, as Paracelsus avers, display terror
when men and women behold a phantasm, are not easily accounted for
by telepathy, especially when the beast is alarmed _before_ the man
or woman suspects the presence of anything unusual. There is, of
course, the notion that the horse shies, or the dog turns craven, in
sympathy with its master's exhibition of fear. Owners of dogs and
horses may counterfeit horror and see whether their favourites do
sympathise. Cats don't. In one of three cases known to us where a
cat showed consciousness of a spectral presence, the apparition
_took the form of a cat_. The evidence is only that of Richard
Bovet, in his Pandemonium; or, the Devil's Cloyster (1684). In Mr.
J. G. Wood's Man and Beast, a lady tells a story of being alone, in
firelight, playing with a favourite cat, Lady Catherine. Suddenly
puss bristled all over, her back rose in an arch, and the lady,
looking up, saw a hideously malignant female watching her. Lady
Catherine now rushed wildly round the room, leaped at the upper
panels of the door, and seemed to have gone mad. This new terror
recalled the lady to herself. She shrieked, and the phantasm
vanished. She saw it on a later day. In a third case, a cat merely
kept a watchful eye on the ghost, and adopted a dignified attitude
of calm expectancy. If beasts can be telepathically affected, then
beasts have more of a 'psychical' element in their composition than
they usually receive credit for; whereas if a ghost is actually in
view, there is no reason why beasts should not see it.

The best and most valid proof that an abnormal being is actually
present was that devised by the ghost of Sir Richard of Coldinghame
in the ballad, and by the Beresford ghost, who threw a heavy curtain
over the bed-pole. Unluckily, Sir Richard is a poetical figment,
and the Beresford ghost is a myth, like William Tell: he may be
traced back through various mediaeval authorities almost to the date
of the Norman Conquest. We have examined the story in a little book
of folklore, Etudes Traditionistes. Always there is a compact to
appear, always the ghost burns or injures the hand or wrist of the
spectator. A version occurs in William of Malmesbury.

What we need, to prove a ghost, and disprove an _exclusively_
telepathic theory, is a ghost who is not only seen, heard, or even
touched, but a ghost who produces some change in physical objects.
Most provokingly, there are agencies at every successful seance, and
in every affair of the Poltergeist, who do lift tables, chairs,
beds, bookcases, candles, and so forth, while others play
accordions. But then nobody or not everybody _sees_ these agencies
at work, while the spontaneous phantasms which are _seen_ do not so
much as lift a loo-table, generally speaking. In the spiritualistic
cases, we have the effect, with no visible cause; in ghost stories,
we have the visible presence, but he very seldom indeed causes any
physical change in any object. No ghost who does not do this has
any strict legal claim to be regarded as other than a telepathic
hallucination at best, though, as we shall see, some presumptions
exist in favour of some ghosts being real entities.

These rare facts have not escaped a ghost-hunter so intelligent as
Mrs. Henry Sidgwick. This lady is almost too sportsmanlike, for a
psychical researcher, in her habit of giving an apparition the
benefit of every imaginable doubt which may absolve him from the
charge of being a real genuine ghost. 'It is true,' she says, 'that
ghosts are alleged sometimes to produce a physical effect on the
external world;' but to admit this is 'to come into prima facie
collision with the physical sciences' (an awful risk to run), so
Mrs. Sidgwick, in a rather cavalier manner leaves ghosts who produce
physical effects to be dealt with among the phenomena alleged to
occur at seances. Now this is hardly fair to the spontaneous
apparition, who is doing his very best to demonstrate his existence
in the only convincing way. The phenomena of seances are looked on
with deserved distrust, and, generally, may be regarded as an
outworn mode of swindling. Yet it is to this society that Mrs.
Sidgwick relegates the most meritorious and conscientious class of
apparitions.

Let us examine a few instances of the ghost who visibly moves
material objects. We take one (already cited) from Mrs. Sidgwick's
own article. {205} In this case a gentleman named John D. Harry
scolded his daughters for saying that _they_ had seen a ghost, with
which he himself was perfectly familiar. 'The figure,' a fair woman
draped in white, 'on seven or eight occasions appeared in my
bedroom, and twice in the library, and on one occasion _it lifted up
the mosquito-curtains_, and looked closely into my face'. Now,
could a hallucination lift a mosquito-curtain, or even produce the
impression that it did so, while the curtain was really unmoved?
Clearly a hallucination, however artful, and well got up, could do
no such thing. Therefore a being--a ghost with very little maidenly
reserve--haunted the bedroom of Mr. Harry, if he tells a true tale.
Again (p. 115), a lady (on whose veracity I am ready to pledge my
all) had doors opened for her frequently, 'as if a hand had turned
the handle'. And once she not only saw the door open, but a grey
woman came in. Another witness, years afterwards, beheld the same
figure and the same performance. Once more, Miss A. M.'s mother
followed a ghost, who _opened a door_ and entered a room, where she
could not be found when she was wanted (p. 121). Again, {206} a
lady saw a ghost which, 'with one hand, the left, _drew back the
curtain_'. There are many other cases in which apparitions are seen
in houses where mysterious thumps and raps occur, especially in
General Campbell's experience (p. 483). If the apparition gave the
thumps then he (or, in this instance, she) was material, and could
produce effects on matter. Indeed, this ghost was seen to take up
and lay down some books, and to tuck in the bed-clothes.
Hallucinations (which are all in one's eye or sensory centre, or
cerebral central terminus), cannot draw curtains, or open doors, or
pick up books, or tuck in bed-clothes, or cause thumps--not real
thumps, hallucinatory thumps are different. Consequently, if the
stories are true, _some apparitions are ghosts_, real objective
entities, filling space. The senses of a hallucinated person may be
deceived as to touch, and as to feeling the breath of a phantasm (a
likely story), as well as in sight and hearing. But a visible ghost
which produces changes in the visible world cannot be a
hallucination. On the other hand Dr. Binns, in his Anatomy of Sleep
tells us of 'a gentleman who, in a dream, pushed against a door in a
distant house, so that those in the room were scarcely able to
resist the pressure'. {207a} Now if this rather staggering anecdote
be true, the spirit of a living man, being able to affect matter, is
also, so to speak, material, and is an actual entity, an astral
body. Moreover, Mrs. Frederica Hauffe, when in the magnetic sleep,
'could rap at a distance'.

These arguments, then, make in favour of the old-fashioned theory of
ghosts and wraiths, as things objectively existing, which is very
comforting to a conservative philosopher. Unluckily, just as many,
or more, anecdotes look quite the other way. For instance, General
Barter sees, hears, and recognises the dead Lieutenant B., wearing a
beard which he had grown since the general saw him in life. He also
sees the hill-pony ridden by Mr. B., and killed by him--a steed with
which, in its mortal days, the general had no acquaintance. This is
all very well: a dead pony may have a ghost, like Miss A. B.'s dog
which was heard by one Miss B., and seen by the other, some time
after its decease. On mature reflection, as both ladies were well-
known persons of letters, we suppress their names, which would carry
the weight of excellent character and distinguished sense. But
Lieutenant B. was also accompanied by two grooms. Now, it is too
much to ask us to believe that he had killed two grooms, as he
killed the pony. {207b} Consequently, they, at least, were
hallucinations; so what was Lieutenant B.? When Mr. K., on board
the Racoon, saw his dead father lying in his coffin (p. 461), there
was no real coffin there, at all events; and hence, probably, no
real dead father's ghost,--only a 'telepathic hallucination'. Miss
Rose Morton could never _touch_ the female ghost which she often
chased about the house, nor did this ghost break or displace the
threads stretched by Miss Morton across the stairs down which the
apparition walked. Yet its footsteps did make a noise, and the
family often heard the ghost walking downstairs, followed by Miss
Morton. Thus this ghost was both material and immaterial, for
surely, only matter can make a noise when in contact with matter.
On the whole, if the evidence is worth anything, there are real
objective ghosts, and there are also telepathic hallucinations: so
that the scientific attitude is to believe in both, if in either.
And this was the view of Petrus Thyraeus, S.J., in his Loca Infesta
(1598). The alternative is to believe in neither.

We have thus, according to the advice of Socrates, permitted the
argument to lead us whither it would. And whither has it led us?
The old, savage, natural theory of ghosts and wraiths is that they
are spirits, yet not so immaterial but that they can fill space, be
seen, heard, touched, and affect material objects. Mediaeval and
other theologians preferred to regard them as angelic or diabolic
manifestations, made out of compressed air, or by aid of bodies of
the dead, or begotten by the action of angel or devil on the
substance of the brain. Modern science looks on them as
hallucinations, sometimes morbid, as in madness or delirium, or in a
vicious condition of the organ of sense; sometimes abnormal, but not
necessarily a proof of chronic disease of any description. The
psychical theory then explains a sifted remnant of apparitions; the
coincidental, 'veridical' hallucinations of the sane, by telepathy.
There is a wide chasm, however, to be bridged over between that
hypothesis, and its general acceptance, either by science, or by
reflective yet unscientific inquirers. The existence of thought-
transference, especially among people wide awake, has to be
demonstrated more unimpeachably, and then either the telepathic
explanation must be shown to fit all the cases collected, or many
interesting cases must be thrown overboard, or these must be
referred to some other cause. That cause will be something very
like the old-fashioned ghosts. Perhaps, the most remarkable
collective hallucination in history is that vouched for by Patrick
Walker, the Covenanter; in his Biographia Presbyteriana. {209} In
1686, says Walker, about two miles below Lanark, on the water of
Clyde 'many people gathered together for several afternoons, where
there were showers of bonnets, hats, guns, and swords, which covered
the trees and ground, companies of men in arms marching in order,
upon the waterside, companies meeting companies. . . . and then all
falling to the ground and disappearing, and other companies
immediately appearing in the same way'. This occurred in June and
July, in the afternoons. Now the Westland Whigs were then, as
usual, in a very excitable frame of mind, and filled with fears,
inspired both by events, and by the prophecies of Peden and other
saints. Patrick Walker himself was a high-flying Covenanter, he was
present: 'I went there three afternoons together'--and he saw
nothing unusual occur. About two-thirds of the crowd did see the
phenomena he reckons, the others, like himself, saw nothing strange.
'There was a fright and trembling upon them that did see,' and, at
least in one case, the hallucination was contagious. A gentleman
standing next Walker exclaimed: 'A pack of damned witches and
warlocks, that have the second sight, the deil ha't do I see'. 'And
immediately there was a discernable change in his countenance, with
as much fear and trembling as any woman I saw there, who cried out:
"O all ye that do not see, say nothing; for I perswade you it is
matter of fact, and discernable to all that is not stone-blind".'
Those who did see minutely described 'what handles the swords had,
whether small or three-barred, or Highland guards, and the closing
knots of the bonnets, black or blue. . . . I have been at a loss
ever since what to make of this last,' says Patrick Walker, and who
is not at a loss? The contagion of the hallucination, so to speak,
did not affect him, fanatic as he was, and did affect a cursing and
swearing cavalier, whose prejudices, whose 'dominant idea,' were all
on the other side. The Psychical Society has published an account
of a similar collective hallucination of crowds of people,
'appearing and disappearing,' shared by two young ladies and their
maid, on a walk home from church. But this occurred in a fog, and
no one was present who was not hallucinated. Patrick Walker's
account is triumphantly honest, and is, perhaps, as odd a piece of
psychology as any on record, thanks to his escape from the prevalent
illusion, which, no doubt, he would gladly have shared. Wodrow, it
should be said, in his History of the Sufferings of the Kirk,
mentions visions of bonnets, which, he thinks, indicated a future
muster of militia! But he gives the date as 1684.

SCRYING OR CRYSTAL-GAZING

Revival of crystal-gazing. Antiquity of the practice. Its general
harmlessness. Superstitious explanations. Crystal-gazing and
'illusions hypnagogiques'. Visualisers. Poetic vision. Ancient
and savage practices analogous to crystal-gazing. New Zealand.
North America. Egypt. Sir Walter's interest in the subject. Mr.
Kinglake. Greek examples. Dr. Dee. Miss X. Another modern
instance. Successes and failures. Revival of lost memories.
Possible thought-transference. Inferences from antiquity and
diffusion of practice. Based on actual experience. Anecdotes of
Dr. Gregory. Children as visionaries. Not to be encouraged.

The practice of 'scrying,' 'peeping,' or 'crystal-gazing,' has been
revived in recent years, and is, perhaps, the only 'occult'
diversion which may be free from psychological or physical risk, and
which it is easy not to mix with superstition. The antiquity and
world-wide diffusion of scrying, in one form or other, interests the
student of human nature. Meanwhile the comparatively few persons
who can see pictures in a clear depth, may be as innocently employed
while so doing, as if they were watching the clouds, or the embers.
'May be,' one must say, for crystal-seers are very apt to fall back
on our old friend, the animistic hypothesis, and to explain what
they see, or fancy they see, by the theory that 'spirits' are at the
bottom of it all. In Mrs. de Morgan's work From Matter to Spirit,
suggestions of this kind are not absent: 'As an explanation of
crystal-seeing, a spiritual drawing was once made, representing a
spirit directing on the crystal a stream of influence,' and so
forth. Mrs. de Morgan herself seemed rather to hold that the act of
staring at a crystal mesmerises the observer. The person who looks
at it often becomes sleepy. 'Sometimes the eyes close, at other
times tears flow.' People who become sleepy, or cry, or get
hypnotised, will probably consult their own health and comfort by
leaving crystal balls alone.

There are others, however, who are no more hypnotised by crystal-
gazing than tea-drinking, or gardening, or reading a book, and who
can still enjoy visions as beautiful as those of the opium eater,
without any of the reaction. Their condition remains perfectly
normal, that is, they are wide awake to all that is going on. In
some way their fancy is enlivened, and they can behold, in the
glass, just such vivid pictures as many persons habitually see
between sleeping and waking, illusions hypnagogiques. These
'hypnagogic illusions' Pontus de Tyard described in a pretty sonnet,
more than three hundred years ago. Maury, in his book on dreams has
recorded, and analysed them. They represent faces, places, a page
of print, a flame of fire, and so forth, and it is one of their
peculiarities that the faces rapidly shift and alter, generally from
beautiful to ugly. A crystal-seer seems to be a person who can see,
in a glass, while awake and with open eyes, visions akin to those
which perhaps the majority of people see with shut eyes, between
sleeping and waking. {214} It seems probable that people who, when
they think, see a mental picture of the subject of their thoughts,
people who are good 'visualisers,' are likely to succeed best with
the crystal, some of them can 'visualise' purposely, in the crystal,
while others cannot. Many who are very bad 'visualisers,' like the
writer, who think in words, not in pictures, see bright and distinct
hypnagogic illusions, yet see nothing in the crystal, however long
they stare at it. And there are crystal-seers who are not subject
to hypnagogic illusions. These facts, like the analogous facts of
the visualisation of arithmetical figures, analysed by Mr. Galton,
show interesting varieties in the conduct of mental operations.
Thus we speak of 'vision' in a poet, or novelist, and it seems
likely that men of genius 'see' their fictitious characters and
landscapes, while people of critical temperament, if they attempt
creative work, are conscious that they do not create, but construct.
On the other hand many incompetent novelists are convinced that they
have 'vision,' that they see and hear their characters, but they do
not, as genius does, transfer the 'vision' to their readers.

This is a digression from the topic of hallucinations caused by
gazing into a clear depth. Forms of crystal-gazing, it is well
known, are found among savages. The New Zealanders, according to
Taylor, gaze in a drop of blood, as the Egyptians do in a drop of
ink. In North America, the Pere le Jeune found that a kind of
thought reading was practised thus: it was believed that a sick
person had certain desires, if these could be gratified, he would
recover. The sorcerers, therefore, gazed into water in a bowl
expecting to see there visions of the desired objects. The Egyptian
process with the boy and the ink, is too familiar to need
description. In Scott's Journal (ii. 419) we read of the excitement
which the reports of Lord Prudhoe {215} and Colonel Felix, caused
among the curious. A boy, selected by these English gentlemen, saw
and described Shakspeare, and Colonel Felix's brother, who had lost
an arm. The ceremonies of fumigation, and the preliminary visions
of flags, and a sultan, are not necessary in modern crystal-gazing.
Scott made inquiries at Malta, and wished to visit Alexandria. He
was attracted, doubtless, by the resemblance to Dr. Dee's tales of
his magic ball, and to the legends of his own Aunt Margaret's
Mirror. The Quarterly Review (No. 117, pp. 196-208) offers an
explanation which explains nothing. The experiments of Mr. Lane
were tolerably successful, those of Mr. Kinglake, in Eothen, were
amusingly the reverse. Dr. Keate, the flogging headmaster of Eton,
was described by the seer as a beautiful girl, with golden hair and
blue eyes. The modern explanation of successes would apparently be
that the boy does, occasionally, see the reflection of his
interrogator's thoughts.

In a paper in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research
(part xiv.), an anonymous writer gives the results of some
historical investigation into the antiquities of crystal-gazing.
The stories of cups, 'wherein my lord divines,' like Joseph, need
not necessarily indicate gazing into the deeps of the cup. There
were other modes of using cups and drops of wine, not connected with
visions. At Patrae, in Greece, Pausanias describes the dropping of
a mirror on to the surface of a well, the burning of incense, and
the vision of the patient who consults the oracle in the deeps of
the mirror. {216a} A Christian Father asserts that, in some cases,
a basin with a glass bottom was used, through which the gazer saw
persons concealed in a room below, and took them for real visions.
{216b} In mirror-magic (catoptromancy), the child seer's eyes were
bandaged, and he saw with the top of his head! The Specularii
continued the tradition through the Middle Ages, and, in the
sixteenth century Dr. Dee ruined himself by his infatuation for
'show-stones,' in which Kelly saw, or pretended to see, visions
which Dr. Dee interpreted. Dee kept voluminous diaries of his
experiments, part of which is published in a folio by Meric
Casaubon. The work is flighty, indeed crazy; Dee thought that the
hallucinations were spirits, and believed that his 'show-stones'
were occasionally spirited away by the demons. Kelly pretended to
hear noises in the stones, and to receive messages.

In our own time, while many can see pictures, few know what the
pictures represent. Some explain them by interpreting the
accompanying 'raps,' or by 'automatic writing'. The intelligence
thus conveyed is then found to exist in county histories,
newspapers, and elsewhere, a circumstance which lends itself to
interpretation of more sorts than one. Without these very dubious
modes of getting at the meaning of the crystal pictures, they
remain, of course, mere picturesque hallucinations. The author of
the paper referred to, is herself a crystal-seer, and (in Borderland
No. 2) mentions one very interesting vision. She and a friend
stared into one of Dr. Dee's 'show-stones,' at the Stuart
exhibition, and both beheld the same scene, not a scene they could
have guessed at, which was going on at the seer's own house. As
this writer, though versed in hallucinations, entirely rejects any
'spiritual' theory, and conceives that, she is dealing with purely
psychological curiosities, her evidence is the better worth notice,
and may be compared with that of a crystal-seer for whose evidence
the present writer can vouch, as far as one mortal may vouch for
that of another.

Miss X., the writer in the Psychical Proceedings, has been able to
see pictures in crystals and other polished surfaces, or, indeed,
independently of these, since childhood. She thinks that the
visions are:--

1. After-images, or recrudescent memories (often memories of things
not consciously noted).

2. Objectivations of ideas or images, consciously or unconsciously
present to the mind.

3. Visions, possibly telepathic or clairvoyant, implying
acquirement of knowledge by supernormal means. The first class is
much the most frequent in this lady's experience. She can
occasionally refresh her memory by looking into the crystal.

The other seer, known to the writer, cannot do this, and her
pictures, as far as she knows, are purely fanciful. Perhaps an
'automatic writer' might interpret them, in the rather dubious
manner of that art. As far as the 'scryer' knows, however, her
pictures of places and people are not revivals of memory. For
example, she sees an ancient ship, with a bird's beak for prow, come
into harbour, and behind it a man carrying a crown. This is a mere
fancy picture. On one occasion she saw a man, like an Oriental
priest, with a white caftan, contemplating the rise and fall of a
fountain of fire: suddenly, at the summit of the fire, appeared a
human hand, pointing downwards, to which the old priest looked up.
This was in August, 1893. Later in the month the author happened to
take up, at Loch Sheil, Lady Burton's Life of Sir Richard Burton.
On the back of the cover is a singular design in gold. A woman in
widow's weeds is bowing beneath rays of light, over which appears a
human hand, marked R. F. B. on the wrist. The author at once wrote
asking his friend the crystal-gazer if she had seen this work of
art, which might have unconsciously suggested the picture. The
lady, however, was certain that she had not seen the Life of Sir
Richard Burton, though her eye, of course, may have fallen on it in
a bookseller's shop, while her mind did not consciously take it in.
If this was a revival of a sub-conscious memory in the crystal, it
was the only case of that process in her experience.

On the other hand Miss X. can trace many of her visions to memories,
as Maury could in his illusions hypnagogiques. Thus, Miss X. saw in
the crystal, the printed announcement of a friend's death. She had
not consciously read the Times, but remembered that she had held it
up before her face as a firescreen. This kind of revival, as she
says, corresponds to the writing, with planchette, of scraps from
the Chanson de Roland, by a person who had never _consciously_ read
a line of it, and who did not even know what stratum of Old French
was represented by the fragments. Miss X. seems not to know either;
for she calls it 'Provencal'. Similar instances of memory revived
are not very uncommon in dreams. Miss X. can consciously put a
group of fanciful characters into the crystal, while this is beyond
the power of the seer known to the writer, who has attempted to
perceive what a friend is doing at a distance, but with no success.
Thus she tried to discover what the writer might be about, and
secured a view of two large sunny rooms, with a shadowy figure
therein. Now it is very probable that the writer was in just such a
room, at --- Castle, but the seer saw, on the library table, a
singular mirror, which did not exist there, and a model of a castle,
also non-existent. The knowledge that the person sought for was
staying at a 'castle,' may have unconsciously suggested this model
in the picture.

A pretty case of revived memory is given by Miss X. She wanted the
date of Ptolemy Philadelphus. Later, in the crystal, she saw a
conventional old Jew, writing in a book with massive clasps. Using
a magnifying glass, she found that he was writing Greek, but the
lines faded, and she only saw the Roman numerals LXX. These
suggested the seventy Hebrews who wrote the Septuagint, with the
date, 277 B.C., which served for Ptolemy Philadelphus. Miss X.
later remembered a memoria technica which she had once learned, with
the clue, 'Now Jewish elders indite a Greek copy'. It is obvious
that these queer symbolical reawakenings of memory explain much of
the (apparently) 'unknown' information given by 'ghosts,' and in
dreams. A lady, who had long been in very bad health, was one
evening seized by a violent recrudescence of memory, and for hours
poured out the minutest details of the most trivial occurrences; the
attack was followed by a cerebral malady from which she fortunately
recovered. The same phenomenon of awakened memory has occasionally
been reported by people who were with difficulty restored after
being seven-eighths drowned.

The crystal ball, in the proper hands, merely illustrates the
possibility of artificially reviving memory, while the fanciful
visions, akin to illusions hypnagogiques, have, in all ages, been
interpreted by superstition as revelations of the distant or the
future. Of course, if there is such a thing as occasional
transference of thought, so that the idea in the inquirer's mind is
reflected in the crystal-gazer's vision, the hypothesis of the
superstitious will fix on this as a miracle, still more will that
hypothesis be strengthened, if future or distant events, not
consciously known, are beheld. Such things must occasionally occur,
by chance, in the myriad confusions of dreams, and, to the same
extent, in crystal visions. Miss X.'s three cases of possible
telepathy in her own experience are trivial, and do not seem to rise
beyond the possibility of fortuitous coincidence: and her possible
clairvoyant visions she leaves to the judgment of the reader, 'to
interpret as clairvoyance, or coincidence, or prevision, or whatever
else he will'. The crystal-gazer known to the author once managed
to see the person (unknown to her) who was in the mind of the other
party in the experiment. But she has made scarcely any experiments
of this description.

The inferences to be drawn from crystal-gazing are not unimportant.
First, we note that the practice is very ancient and widely
diffused, among civilised and uncivilised people. In this diffusion
it answers to the other practices, the magical rites of Australian
blacks, Greeks, Eskimo; to the stories of 'death-bed wraiths,' of
rappings, and so forth. Now this uniformity, as far as regards the
latter phenomena, may be explained by transmission of ideas, or by
the uniformity of human nature, while the phenomena themselves may
be mere inventions like other myths. In the case of crystal-gazing,
however, we can scarcely push scepticism so far as to deny that the
facts exist, that hallucinations are actually provoked. The
inference is that a presumption is raised in favour of the actuality
of the other phenomena universally reported. They, too, may
conceivably be hallucinatory; the rappings and haunting noises may
be auditory, as the crystal visions are ocular hallucinations. The
sounds so widely attested may not cause vibrations in the air, just
as the visions are not really _in_ the crystal ball. As the
unconscious self suggests the pictures in the ball, so it may
suggest the unexplained noises. But while, as a rule, only one
gazer sees the visions, the sounds (usually but not invariably) are
heard by all present. On the whole, the one case wherein we find
facts, if only facts of hallucination, at the bottom of the belief
in a world-wide and world-old practice, rather tends in the
direction of belief in the other facts, not less universally
alleged. We know too much about mythology to agree with Dr.
Johnson, in holding that 'a belief, which prevails as far as human
nature is diffused, could become universal only by its truth,' that
'those who never heard of one another would not have agreed in a
tale which nothing but experience could make credible'. But, on the
other hand, a belief is not necessarily untrue, because it is
universally diffused.

In the second place, crystal-gazing shows how a substratum of fact
may be so overlaid with mystic mummeries, incantations, fumigations,
pentacles: and so overwhelmed in superstitious interpretations,
introducing fairies and spirits, that the facts run the risk of
being swept away in the litter and dust of nonsense. Science has
hardly thought crystal-gazing worthy even of contempt, yet it
appears to deserve the notice of psychologists. To persons who can
'scry,' and who do not see hideous illusions, or become hypnotised,
or superstitious, or incur headaches, scrying is a harmless gateway
into Les Paradis Artificiels. 'And the rest, they may live and
learn.' {223}

A very few experiments will show people whether they are scryers, or
not. The phenomena, it seems, are usually preceded by a mistiness,
or milkiness, of the glass: this clears off, and pictures appear.
Even the best scryers often fail to see anything in the crystal
which maintains its natural 'diaphaneity,' as Dr. Dee says. Thus
the conditions under which the scryer can scry, are, as yet,
unascertained.

The phenomena of scrying were not unknown to Dr. Gregory, Professor
of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Gregory believed
in 'odylic fluid' on the evidence of Reichenbach's experiments,
which nobody seems to have repeated successfully under strict tests.
Clairvoyance also was part of Dr. Gregory's faith, and, to be fair,
phenomena were exhibited at his house, in the presence of a learned
and distinguished witness known to the writer, which could only be
accounted for either by thought transference, or by an almost, or
quite incredible combination of astuteness, and imposture on the
side of Dr. Gregory himself. In presence of the _clairvoyants_ the
nobleman of whom we speak thought not of his own house, but of a
room in the house of a friend. It possessed a very singular feature
which it is needless to describe here, but which was entirely out of
the experience of the clairvoyante. She described it, however,
expressing astonishment at what she 'saw'. This, unless Dr. Gregory
guessed what was likely to be thought of, and was guilty of
collusion, can only be explained by thought transference. In other
cases the doctor was convinced that he had evidence of actual
clairvoyance, and it is difficult to estimate the amount of evidence
which will clear such a belief of the charge of credulity. As to
'scrying' the doctor thought it could be done in 'mesmerised water,'
water bewitched. There is no reason to imagine that 'mesmerised' is
different from ordinary water. {224} He knew that folklore retained
the belief in scrying in crystal balls, and added some superfluous
magical incantations. The doctor himself was lucky enough to buy an
old magical crystal in which some boys, after long staring, saw
persons unknown to themselves, but known to the professor, and also
persons known to neither. A little girl, casually picking up a
crystal ball, cried, 'There's a ship in it, with its cloth all in
rags. Now it tumbles down, and a woman is working at it, and holds
her head in her hand.' This is a very fair example of a crystal
fancy picture. The child's mother, not having heard what the child
said, saw the same vision (p. 165). But this is a story at third
hand. The doctor has a number of cases, and held that crystal
possesses an 'odylic' quality. But a ball of glass serves just as
well as a ball of crystal, and is much less expensive.

Children are naturally visionaries, and, as such, are good subjects
for experiment. But it may be a cruel, and is a most injudicious
thing, to set children a-scrying. Superstition may be excited, or
the half-conscious tendency to deceive may be put in motion.

Socrates and Joan of Arc were visionaries as children. Had Joan's
ears been soundly boxed, as Robert de Baudricourt advised, France
might now be an English province. But they were not boxed, happily
for mankind. Certainly much that is curious may be learned by any
one who, having the confidence of a child, will listen to his, or
her, accounts of spontaneous visions. The writer, as a boy, knew a
child who used to lie prone on the grass watching fairies at play in
the miniature forest of blades and leaves. This child had a
favourite familiar whom he described freely, but as his remarks were
received with good-humoured scepticism, no harm came to him. He
would have made a splendid scryer, still, 'I speak of him but
brotherly,' his revelations would have been taken with the largest
allowances. If scrying, on examination, proves to be of real
psychological interest, science will owe another debt to folklore,
to the folk who kept alive a practice which common-sense would not
deign even to examine.

THE SECOND SIGHT

The Gillie and the fire-raising. Survival of belief in second
sight. Belief in ancient Greece and elsewhere. Examples in
Lapland. Early evidence as to Scotch second sight. Witches burned
for this gift. Examples among the Covenanting Ministers. Early
investigations by English authors: Pepys, Aubrey, Boyle, Dicky

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