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The Making of Religion by Andrew Lang

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I hope you will permit me to lay at the feet of the University of St.
Andrews, in acknowledgment of her life-long kindnesses to her old pupil,
these chapters on the early History of Religion. They may be taken as
representing the Gifford Lectures delivered by me, though in fact they
contain very little that was spoken from Lord Gifford's chair. I wish they
were more worthy of an Alma Mater which fostered in the past the leaders
of forlorn hopes that were destined to triumph; and the friends of lost
causes who fought bravely against Fate--Patrick Hamilton, Cargill, and
Argyll, Beaton and Montrose, and Dundee.

Believe me

Very sincerely yours,


* * * * *


By the nature of things this book falls under two divisions. The first
eight chapters criticise the current anthropological theory of the origins
of the belief in _spirits._ Chapters ix.-xvii., again, criticise the
current anthropological theory as to how, the notion of _spirit_ once
attained, man arrived at the idea of a Supreme Being. These two branches
of the topic are treated in most modern works concerned with the Origins
of Religion, such as Mr. Tyler's "Primitive Culture," Mr. Herbert
Spencer's "Principles of Sociology," Mr. Jevons's "Introduction to the
History of Religion," the late Mr. Grant Allen's "Evolution of the Idea of
God," and many others. Yet I have been censured for combining, in this
work, the two branches of my subject; and the second part has been
regarded as but faintly connected with the first.

The reason for this criticism seems to be, that while one small set of
students is interested in, and familiar with the themes examined in the
first part (namely the psychological characteristics of certain mental
states from which, in part, the doctrine of spirits is said to have
arisen), that set of students neither knows nor cares anything about the
matter handled in the second part. This group of students is busied with
"Psychical Research," and the obscure human faculties implied in alleged
cases of hallucination, telepathy, "double personality," human automatism,
clairvoyance, and so on. Meanwhile anthropological readers are equally
indifferent as to that branch of psychology which examines the conditions
of hysteria, hypnotic trance, "double personality," and the like.
Anthropologists have not hitherto applied to the savage mental conditions,
out of which, in part, the doctrine of "spirits" arose, the recent
researches of French, German, and English psychologists of the new school.
As to whether these researches into abnormal psychological conditions do,
or do not, indicate the existence of a transcendental region of human
faculty, anthropologists appear to be unconcerned. The only English
exception known to me is Mr. Tylor, and his great work, "Primitive
Culture," was written thirty years ago, before the modern psychological
studies of Professor William James, Dr. Romaine Newbold, M. Richet, Dr.
Janet, Professor Sidgwick, Mr. Myers, Mr. Gurney, Dr. Parish, and many
others had commenced.

Anthropologists have gone on discussing the trances, and visions, and
so-called "demoniacal possession" of savages, as if no new researches into
similar facts in the psychology of civilised mankind existed; or, if they
existed, threw any glimmer of light on the abnormal psychology of savages.
I have, on the other hand, thought it desirable to sketch out a study of
savage psychology in the light of recent psychological research. Thanks to
this daring novelty, the book has been virtually taken as two books;
anthropologists have criticised the second part, and one or two Psychical
Researchers have criticised the first part; each school leaving one part
severely alone. Such are the natural results of a too restricted

Even to Psychical Researchers the earlier division is of scant interest,
because witnesses to _successful_ abnormal or supernormal faculty in
savages cannot be brought into court and cross-examined. But I do not give
anecdotes of such savage successes as evidence to _facts;_ they are only
illustrations, and evidence to _beliefs and methods_ (as of crystal gazing
and automatic utterances of "secondary personality"), which, among the
savages, correspond to the supposed facts examined by Psychical Research
among the civilised. I only point out, as Bastian had already pointed out,
the existence of a field that deserves closer study by anthropologists
who can observe savages in their homes. We need persons trained in
the psychological laboratories of Europe and America, as members of
anthropological expeditions. It may be noted that, in his "Letters from
the South Seas," Mr. Louis Stevenson makes some curious observations,
especially on a singular form of hypnotism applied to himself with
fortunate results. The method, used in native medicine, was novel; and
the results were entirely inexplicable to Mr. Stevenson, who had not been
amenable to European hypnotic practice. But he was not a trained expert.

Anthropology must remain incomplete while it neglects this field, whether
among wild or civilised men. In the course of time this will come to be
acknowledged. It will be seen that we cannot really account for the origin
of the belief in spirits while we neglect the scientific study of those
psychical conditions, as of hallucination and the hypnotic trance, in
which that belief must probably have had some, at least, of its origins.

As to the second part of the book, I have argued that the first dim
surmises as to a Supreme Being need not have arisen (as on the current
anthropological theory) in the notion of spirits at all. (See chapter xi.)
Here I have been said to draw a mere "verbal distinction" but no
distinction can be more essential. If such a Supreme Being as many savages
acknowledge is _not_ envisaged by them as a "spirit," then the theories
and processes by which he is derived from a ghost of a dead man are
invalid, and remote from the point. As to the origin of a belief in a
kind of germinal Supreme Being (say the Australian Baiame), I do not, in
this book, offer any opinion. I again and again decline to offer an
opinion. Critics, none the less, have said that I attribute the belief to
revelation! I shall therefore here indicate what I think probable in so
obscure a field.

As soon as man had the idea of "making" things, he might conjecture as to
a Maker of things which he himself had not made, and could not make. He
would regard this unknown Maker as a "magnified non-natural man." These
speculations appear to me to need less reflection than the long and
complicated processes of thought by which Mr. Tylor believes, and probably
believes with justice, the theory of "spirits" to have been evolved. (See
chapter iii.) This conception of a magnified non-natural man, who is a
Maker, being given; his Power would be recognised, and fancy would clothe
one who had made such useful things with certain other moral attributes,
as of Fatherhood, goodness, and regard for the ethics of his children;
these ethics having been developed naturally in the evolution of social
life. In all this there is nothing "mystical," nor anything, as far as I
can see, beyond the limited mental powers of any beings that deserve to be
called human.

But I hasten to add that another theory may be entertained. Since this
book was written there appeared "The Native Tribes of Central Australia,"
by Professor Spencer and Mr. Gillen, a most valuable study.[1] The
authors, closely scrutinising the esoteric rites of the Arunta and other
tribes in Central Australia, found none of the moral precepts and
attributes which (according to Mr. Howitt, to whom their work is
dedicated), prevail in the mysteries of the natives of New South Wales and
Victoria. (See chapter x.) What they found was a belief in 'the great
spirit, _Twanyirika_,' who is believed 'by uninitiated boys and women'
(but, apparently, not by adults) to preside over the cruel rites of tribal
initiation.[2] No more is said, no myths about 'the great spirit' are
given. He is dismissed in a brief note. Now if these ten lines contain
_all_ the native lore of Twanyirika, he is a mere bugbear, not believed in
(apparently) by adults, but invented by them to terrorise the women and
boys. Next, granting that the information of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen is
exhaustive, and granting that (as Mr. J.G. Frazer holds, in his essays in
the 'Fortnightly Review,' April and May, 1899) the Arunta are the most
primitive of mortals, it will seem to follow that the _moral_ attributes
of Baiame and other gods of other Australian regions are later accretions
round the form of an original and confessed bugbear, as among the
primitive Arunta, 'a bogle of the nursery,' in the phrase repudiated by
Maitland of Lethington. Though not otherwise conspicuously more civilised
than the Arunta (except, perhaps, in marriage relations), Mr. Howitt's
South Eastern natives will have improved the Arunta confessed 'bogle'
into a beneficent and moral Father and Maker. Religion will have its
origin in a tribal joke, and will have become not '_diablement_,' but
'_divinement_,' '_changee en route_.' Readers of Messrs. Spencer and
Gillen will see that the Arunta philosophy, primitive or not, is of a high
ingenuity, and so artfully composed that it contains no room either for a
Supreme Being or for the doctrine of the survival of the soul, with a
future of rewards and punishments; opinions declared to be extant among
other Australian tribes. There is no creator, and every soul, after death,
is reincarnated in a new member of the tribe. On the other hand (granting
that the brief note on Twanyirika is exhaustive), the Arunta, in their
isolation, may have degenerated in religion, and may have dropped, in the
case of Twanyirika, the moral attributes of Baiame. It may be noticed
that, in South Eastern Australia, the Being who presides, like Twanyirika,
over initiations is _not_ the supreme being, but a son or deputy of his,
such as the Kurnai Tundun. We do not know whether the Arunta have, or have
had and lost, or never possessed, a being superior to Twanyirika.

With regard, to all such moral, and, in certain versions, creative Beings
as Baiame, criticism has taken various lines. There is the high a priori
line that savage minds are incapable of originating the notion of a moral
Maker. I have already said that the notion, in an early form, seems to be
well within the range of any minds deserving to be called human. Next, the
facts are disputed. I can only refer readers to the authorities cited.
They speak for tribes in many quarters of the world, and the witnesses
are laymen as well as missionaries. I am accused, again, of using a
misleading rhetoric, and of thereby covertly introducing Christian or
philosophical ideas into my account of "savages guiltless of Christian
teaching." As to the latter point, I am also accused of mistaking for
native opinions the results of "Christian teaching." One or other charge
must fall to the ground. As to my rhetoric, in the use of such words as
'Creator,' 'Eternal,' and the like, I shall later qualify and explain it.
For a long discussion between myself and Mr. Sidney Hartland, involving
minute detail, I may refer the reader to _Folk-Lore_, the last number of
1898 and the first of 1899, and to the Introduction to the new edition of
my 'Myth, Ritual, and Religion' (1899).

Where relatively high moral attributes are assigned to a Being, I have
called the result 'Religion;' where the same Being acts like Zeus in
Greek fable, plays silly or obscene tricks, is lustful and false, I have
spoken of 'Myth.'[3] These distinctions of Myth and Religion may be, and
indeed are, called arbitrary. The whole complex set of statements about
the Being, good or bad, sublime or silly, are equally Myths, it may be
urged. Very well; but one set, the loftier set, is fitter to survive, and
does survive, in what we still commonly call Religion; while the other
set, the puerile set of statements, is fairly near to extinction, and is
usually called Mythology. One set has been the root of a goodly tree: the
other set is being lopped off, like the parasitic mistletoe.

I am arguing that the two classes of ideas arise from two separate human
moods; moods as different and distinct as lust and love. I am arguing
that, as far as our information goes, the nobler set of ideas is as
ancient as the lower. Personally (though we cannot have direct evidence)
I find it easy to believe that the loftier notions are the earlier. If man
began with the conception of a powerful and beneficent Maker or Father,
then I can see how the humorous savage fancy ran away with the idea of
Power, and attributed to a potent being just such tricks as a waggish and
libidinous savage would like to play if he could. Moreover, I have
actually traced (in 'Myth, Ritual, and Religion') some plausible processes
of mythical accretion. The early mind was not only religious, in its way,
but scientific, in its way. It embraced the idea of Evolution as well as
the idea of Creation. To one mood a Maker seemed to exist. But the
institution of Totemism (whatever its origin) suggested the idea of
Evolution; for men, it was held, developed out of their Totems-animals and
plants. But then, on the other hand, Zeus, or Baiame, or Mungun-ngaur, was
regarded as their Father. How were these contradictions to be reconciled?
Easily, thus: Zeus _was_ the Father, but, in each case, was the Father by
an amour in which he wore the form of the Totem-snake, swan, bull, ant,
dog, or the like. At once a degraded set of secondary erotic myths cluster
around Zeus.

Again, it is notoriously the nature of man to attribute every institution
to a primal inventor or legislator. Men then, find themselves performing
certain rites, often of a buffooning or scandalous character; and, in
origin, mainly magical, intended for the increase of game, edible plants,
or, later, for the benefit of the crops. _Why_ do they perform these
rites? they ask: and, looking about, as usual, for a primal initiator,
they attribute what they do to a primal being, the Corn Spirit, Demeter,
or to Zeus, or to Baiame, or Manabozho, or Punjel. This is man's usual way
of going back to origins. Instantly, then, a new set of parasitic myths
crystallises round a Being who, perhaps, was originally moral. The savage
mind, in short, has not maintained itself on the high level, any more than
the facetious mediaeval myths maintained themselves, say, on the original
level of the conception of the character of St. Peter, the keeper of the
keys of Heaven.

All this appears perfectly natural and human, and in this, and in other
ways, what we call low Myth may have invaded the higher realms of
Religion: a lower invaded a higher element. But reverse the hypothesis.
Conceive that Zeus, or Baiame, was _originally_, not a Father and
guardian, but a lewd and tricky ghost of a medicine-man, a dancer of
indecent dances, a wooer of other men's wives, a shape-shifter, a
burlesque droll, a more jocular bugbear, like Twanyirika. By what means
did he come to be accredited later with his loftiest attributes, and with
regard for the tribal ethics, which, in practice, he daily broke and
despised? Students who argue for the possible priority of the lowest, or,
as I call them, mythical attributes of the Being, must advance an
hypothesis of the concretion of the nobler elements around the original
wanton and mischievous ghost.

Then let us suppose that the Arunta Twanyirika, a confessed bugbear,
discredited by adults, and only invented to keep women and children in
order, was the original germ of the moral and fatherly Baiame, of South
Eastern Australian tribes. How, in that case, did the adults of the tribe
fall into their own trap, come to believe seriously in their invented
bugbear, and credit him with the superintendence of such tribal ethics as
generosity and unselfishness? What were the processes of the conversion of
Twanyirika? I do not deny that this theory may be correct, but I wish to
see an hypothesis of the process of elevation.

I fail to frame such an hypothesis. Grant that the adults merely chuckle
over Twanyirika, whose 'voice' they themselves produce; by whirling the
wooden tundun, or bull-roarer. Grant that, on initiation, the boys learn
that 'the great spirit' is a mere bogle, invented to mystify the women,
and keep them away from the initiatory rites. How, then, did men come to
believe in _him_ as a terrible, all-seeing, all-knowing, creative, and
potent moral being? For this, undeniably, is the belief of many Australian
tribes, where his 'voice' (or rather that of his subordinate) is produced
by whirling the tundun. That these higher beliefs are of European origin,
Mr. Howitt denies. How were they evolved out of the notion of a confessed
artificial bogle? I am unable to frame a theory.

From my point of view, namely, that the higher and simple ideas may well
be the earlier, I have, at least, offered a theory of the processes by
which the lower attributes crystallised around a conception supposed
(_argumenti gratia_) to be originally high. Other processes of degradation
would come in, as (on my theory) the creed and practice of Animism, or
worship of human ghosts, often of low character, swamped and invaded the
prior belief in a fairly moral and beneficent, but not originally
spiritual, Being. My theory, at least, _is_ a theory, and, rightly or
wrongly, accounts for the phenomenon, the combination of the highest
divine and the lowest animal qualities in the same Being. But I have yet
to learn how, if the lowest myths are the earliest, the highest attributes
came in time to be conferred on the hero of the lowest myths. Why, or how,
did a silly buffoon, or a confessed 'bogle' arrive at being regarded as a
patron of such morality as had been evolved? An hypothesis of the
processes involved must be indicated. It is not enough to reply, in
general, that the rudimentary human mind is illogical and confused. That
is granted; but there must have been a method in its madness. What that
method was (from my point of view) I have shown, and it must be as easy
for opponents to set forth what, from their point of view, the method was.

We are here concerned with what, since the time of the earliest Greek
philosophers, has been the _crux_ of mythology: why are infamous myths
told about 'the Father of gods and men'? We can easily explain the nature
of the myths. They are the natural flowers of savage fancy and humour.
But wherefore do they crystallise round Zeus? I have, at least, shown some
probable processes in the evolution.

Where criticism has not disputed the facts of the moral attributes, now
attached to, say, an Australian Being, it has accounted for them by a
supposed process of borrowing from missionaries and other Europeans. In
this book I deal with that hypothesis as urged by Sir A.B. Ellis, in West
Africa (chapter xiii.). I need not have taken the trouble, as this
distinguished writer had already, in a work which I overlooked, formally
withdrawn, as regards Africa, his theory of 'loan-gods.' Miss Kingsley,
too, is no believer in the borrowing hypothesis for West Africa, in
regard, that is, to the highest divine conception. I was, when I wrote,
unaware that, especially as concerns America and Australia, Mr. Tylor had
recently advocated the theory of borrowing ('Journal of Anthrop.
Institute,' vol. xxi.). To Mr. Tylor's arguments, when I read them, I
replied in the 'Nineteenth Century,' January 1899: 'Are Savage Gods
Borrowed from Missionaries?' I do not here repeat my arguments, but await
the publication of Mr. Tylor's 'Gifford Lectures,' in which his hypothesis
may be reinforced, and may win my adhesion.

It may here be said, however, that if the Australian higher religious
ideas are of recent and missionary origin, they would necessarily be known
to the native women, from whom, in fact, they are absolutely concealed by
the men, under penalty of death. Again, if the Son, or Sons, of Australian
chief Beings resemble part of the Christian dogma, they much more closely
resemble the Apollo and Hermes of Greece.[4] But nobody will say that the
Australians borrowed them from Greek mythology!

In chapter xiv., owing to a bibliographical error of my own, I have done
injustice to Mr. Tylor, by supposing him to have overlooked Strachey's
account of the Virginian god Ahone. He did not overlook Ahone, but
mistrusted Strachey. In an excursus on Ahone, in the new edition of 'Myth,
Ritual, and Religion,' I have tried my best to elucidate the bibliography
and other aspects of Strachey's account, which I cannot regard as
baseless. Mr. Tylor's opinion is, doubtless, different, and may prove more
persuasive. As to Australia, Mr. Howitt, our best authority, continues to
disbelieve in the theory of borrowing.

I have to withdraw in chapters x. xi. the statement that 'Darumulun never
died at all.' Mr. Hartland has corrected me, and pointed out that, among
the Wiraijuri, a myth represents him as having been destroyed, for his
offences, by Baiame. In that tribe, however, Darumulun is not the highest,
but a subordinate Being. Mr. Hartland has also collected a few myths in
which Australian Supreme Beings _do_ (contrary to my statement) 'set the
example of sinning.' Nothing can surprise me less, and I only wonder that,
in so savage a race, the examples, hitherto collected, are so rare, and so
easily to be accounted for on the theory of processes of crystallisation
of myths already suggested.

As to a remark in Appendix B, Mr. Podmore takes a distinction. I quote his
remark, 'the phenomena described are quite inexplicable by ordinary
mechanical means,' and I contrast this, as illogical, with his opinion
that a girl 'may have been directly responsible for all that took place.'
Mr. Podmore replies that what was 'described' is not necessarily identical
with what _occurred_. Strictly speaking, he is right; but the evidence was
copious, was given by many witnesses, and (as offered by me) was in part
_contemporary_ (being derived from the local newspapers), so that here Mr.
Podmore's theory of illusions of memory on a large scale, developed in the
five weeks which elapsed before he examined the spectators, is out of
court. The evidence was of contemporary published record.

The handling of fire by Home is accounted for by Mr. Podmore, in the same
chapter, as the result of Home's use of a 'non-conducting substance.'
Asked, 'what substance?' he answered, 'asbestos.' Sir William Crookes,
again repeating his account of the performance which he witnessed, says,
'Home took up a lump of red-hot charcoal about twice the size of an egg
into his hand, on which certainly no asbestos was visible. He blew into
his hands, and the flames could be seen coming out between his fingers,
and he carried the charcoal round the room.'[5] Sir W. Crookes stood close
beside Home. The light was that of the fire and of two candles. Probably
Sir William could see a piece of asbestos, if it was covering Home's
hands, which he was watching.

What I had to say, by way of withdrawal, qualification, explanation, or
otherwise, I inserted (in order to seize the earliest opportunity) in the
Introduction to the recent edition of my 'Myth, Ritual, and Religion'
(1899). The reader will perhaps make his own kind deductions from my
rhetoric when I talk, for example, about a Creator in the creed of low
savages. They have no business, anthropologists declare, to entertain so
large an idea. But in 'The Journal of the Anthropological Institute,'
N.S. II., Nos. 1, 2, p. 85, Dr. Bennett gives an account of the religion
of the cannibal Fangs of the Congo, first described by Du Chaillu. 'These
anthropophagi have some idea of a God, a superior being, their _Tata_
("Father"), _a bo mam merere_ ("he made all things"), Anyambi is their
_Tata_ (Father), and ranks above all other Fang gods, because _a'ne yap_
(literally, "he lives in heaven").' This is inconsiderate in the Fangs. A
set of native cannibals have no business with a creative Father who is in
heaven. I say 'creative' because 'he made all things,' and (as the bowler
said about a 'Yorker') 'what else can you call him?' In all such cases,
where 'creator' and 'creative' are used by me, readers will allow for the
imperfections of the English language. As anthropologists say, the savages
simply cannot have the corresponding ideas; and I must throw the blame on
people who, knowing the savages and their language, assure us that they
_have_. This Fang Father or _Tata_ 'is considered indifferent to the wants
and sufferings of men, women, and children.' Offerings and prayers are
therefore made, not to him, but to the ghosts of parents, who are more
accessible. This additional information precisely illustrates my general
theory, that the chief Being was not evolved out of ghosts, but came to be
neglected as ghost-worship arose. I am not aware that Dr. Bennett is a
missionary. Anthropologists distrust missionaries, and most of my evidence
is from laymen. If the anthropological study of religion is to advance,
the high and usually indolent chief Beings of savage religions must be
carefully examined, not consigned to a casual page or paragraph. I have
found them most potent, and most moral, where ghost-worship has not
been evolved; least potent, or at all events most indifferent, where
ghost-worship is most in vogue. The inferences (granting the facts) are
fatal to the current anthropological theory.

The phrases 'Creator,' 'creative,' as applied to Anyambi, or Baiame,
have been described, by critics, as rhetorical, covertly introducing
conceptions of which savages are incapable. I have already shown that I
only follow my authorities, and their translations of phrases in various
savage tongues. But the phrase 'eternal,' applied to Anyambi or Baiame,
may be misleading. I do not wish to assert that, if you talked to a savage
about 'eternity,' he would understand what you intend. I merely mean what
Mariner says that the Tongans mean as to the god Ta-li-y Tooboo. 'Of his
origin they had no idea, rather supposing him to be eternal.' The savage
theologians assert no beginning for such beings (as a rule), and no end,
except where Unkulunkulu is by some Zulus thought to be dead, and
where the Wiraijuris declare that their Darumulun (_not_ supreme) was
'destroyed' by Baiame. I do not wish to credit savages with thoughts more
abstract than they possess. But that their thought can be abstract is
proved, even in the case of the absolutely 'primitive Arunta,' by
their myth of the _Ungambikula_, 'a word which means "out of nothing,"
or "self-existing,"' say Messrs. Spencer and Gillen.[6] Once more,
I find that I have spoken of some savage Beings as 'omnipresent'
and 'omnipotent.' But I have pointed out that this is only a modern
metaphysical rendering of the actual words attributed to the savage: 'He
can go everywhere, and do everything.' As to the phrase, also used, that
Baiame, for example, 'makes for righteousness,' I mean that he sanctions
the morality of his people; for instance, sanctions veracity and
unselfishness, as Mr. Howitt distinctly avers. These are examples of
'righteousness' in conduct. I do not mean that these virtues were
impressed on savages in some supernatural way, as a critic has daringly
averred that I do. The strong reaction of some early men against the
cosmical process by which 'the weakest goes to the wall,' is, indeed, a
curious moral phenomenon, and deserves the attention of moralists. But I
never dreamed of supposing that this reaction (which extends beyond the
limit of the tribe or group) had a 'supernatural' origin! It has been
argued that 'tribal morality' is only a set of regulations based on the
convenience of the elders of the tribe: is, in fact, as the Platonic
Thrasymachus says, 'the interest of the strongest.' That does not appear
to me to be demonstrated; but this is no place for a discussion of the
origin of morals. 'The interest of the strongest,' and of the nomadic
group, would be to knock elderly invalids on the head. But Dampier says,
of the Australians, in 1688, 'Be it little, or be it much they get, every
one has his part, as well the young and tender, and the old and feeble,
who are not able to go abroad, as the strong and lusty.' The origin of
this fair and generous dealing may be obscure, but it is precisely the
kind of dealing on which, according to Mr. Howitt, the religion of the
Kurnai insists (chapter x.). Thus the Being concerned does 'make for

With these explanations I trust that my rhetorical use of such phrases as
'eternal,' 'creative,' 'omniscient,' 'omnipotent,' 'omnipresent,' and
'moral,' may not be found to mislead, or covertly to import modern or
Christian ideas into my account of the religious conceptions of savages.

As to the evidence throughout, a learned historian has informed me that
'no anthropological evidence is of any value.' If so, there can be no
anthropology (in the realm of institutions). But the evidence that I
adduce is from such sources as anthropologists, at least, accept, and
employ in the construction of theories from which, in some points, I
venture to dissent.


[Footnote 1: Macmillans, 1899.]

[Footnote 2: Op. cit. p. 246, note.]

[Footnote 3: See the new edition of _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_,
especially the new Introduction.]

[Footnote 4: See Introductions to my _Homeric Hymns_. Allen. 1899.]

[Footnote 5: _Journal S.P.R._, December 1890, p. 147.]

[Footnote 6: _Native Tribes of Central Australia_, p. 388.]


'The only begetter' of this work is Monsieur Lefebure, author of 'Les
Yeux d'Horus,' and other studies in Egyptology. He suggested the writing
of the book, but is in no way responsible for the opinions expressed.

The author cannot omit the opportunity of thanking Mr. Frederic Myers for
his kindness in reading the proof sheets of the earlier chapters and
suggesting some corrections of statement. Mr. Myers, however, is probably
not in agreement with the author on certain points; for example, in
the chapter on 'Possession.' As the second part of the book differs
considerably from the opinions which have recommended themselves to most
anthropological writers on early Religion, the author most say here, as he
says later, that no harm can come of trying how facts look from a new
point of view, and that he certainly did not expect them to fall into the
shape which he now presents for criticism.

ST. ANDREWS: _April 3, 1898._







* * * * *




The modern Science of the History of Religion has attained conclusions
which already possess an air of being firmly established. These
conclusions may be briefly stated thus: Man derived the conception of
'spirit' or 'soul' from his reflections on the phenomena of sleep, dreams,
death, shadow, and from the experiences of trance and hallucination.
Worshipping first the departed souls of his kindred, man later extended
the doctrine of spiritual beings in many directions. Ghosts, or other
spiritual existences fashioned on the same lines, prospered till they
became gods. Finally, as the result of a variety of processes, one of
these gods became supreme, and, at last, was regarded as the one only God.
Meanwhile man retained his belief in the existence of his own soul,
surviving after the death of the body, and so reached the conception of
immortality. Thus the ideas of God and of the soul are the result of early
fallacious reasonings about misunderstood experiences.

It may seem almost wanton to suggest the desirableness of revising a
system at once so simple, so logical, and apparently so well bottomed on
facts. But there can never be any real harm in studying masses of evidence
from fresh points of view. At worst, the failure of adverse criticism must
help to establish the doctrines assailed. Now, as we shall snow, there are
two points of view from which the evidence as to religion in its early
stages has not been steadily contemplated. Therefore we intend to ask,
first, what, if anything, can be ascertained as to the nature of the
'visions' and hallucinations which, according to Mr. Tylor in his
celebrated work 'Primitive Culture,' lent their aid to the formation of
the idea of 'spirit,' Secondly, we shall collect and compare the accounts
which we possess of the High Gods and creative beings worshipped or
believed in, by the most backward races. We shall then ask whether these
relatively Supreme Beings, so conceived of by men in very rudimentary
social conditions, can be, as anthropology declares, mere developments
from the belief in ghosts of the dead.

We shall end by venturing to suggest that the savage theory of the soul
may be based, at least in part, on experiences which cannot, at present,
be made to fit into any purely materialistic system of the universe. We
shall also bring evidence tending to prove that the idea of God, in its
earliest known shape, need not logically be derived from the idea of
spirit, however that idea itself may have been attained or evolved. The
conception of God, then, need not be evolved out of reflections on dreams
and 'ghosts.'

If these two positions can be defended with any success, it is obvious
that the whole theory of the Science of Religion will need to be
reconsidered. But it is no less evident that our two positions do not
depend on each other. The first may be regarded as fantastic, or
improbable, or may be 'masked' and left on one side. But the strength of
the second position, derived from evidence of a different character, will
not, therefore, be in any way impaired. Our first position can only be
argued for by dint of evidence highly unpopular in character, and, as a
general rule, condemned by modern science. The evidence is obtained by
what is, at all events, a legitimate anthropological proceeding. We may
follow Mr. Tylor's example, and collect savage _beliefs_ about visions,
hallucinations, 'clairvoyance,' and the acquisition of knowledge
apparently not attainable through the normal channels of sense. We may
then compare these savage beliefs with attested records of similar
_experiences_ among living and educated civilised men. Even if we attain
to no conclusion, or a negative conclusion, as to the actuality and
supernormal character of the alleged experiences, still to compare data of
savage and civilised psychology, or even of savage and civilised illusions
and fables, is decidedly part, though a neglected part, of the function of
anthropological science. The results, whether they do or do not strengthen
our first position, must be curious and instructive, if only as a chapter
in the history of human error. That chapter, too, is concerned with no
mean topic, but with what we may call the X region of our nature. Out of
that region, out of miracle, prophecy, vision, have certainly come forth
the great religions, Christianity and Islam; and the great religious
innovators and leaders, our Lord Himself, St. Francis, John Knox, Jeanne
d'Arc, down to the founder of the new faith of the Sioux and Arapahoe. It
cannot, then, be unscientific to compare the barbaric with the civilised
beliefs and experiences about a region so dimly understood, and so fertile
in potent influences. Here the topic will be examined rather by the method
of anthropology than of psychology. We may conceivably have something to
learn (as has been the case before) from the rough observations and hasty
inferences of the most backward races.

We may illustrate this by an anecdote:

'The Northern Indians call the _Aurora Borealis_ "Edthin," that is "Deer."
Their ideas in this respect are founded on a principle one would not
imagine. Experience has shown them that when a hairy deer-skin is briskly
stroked with the hand on a dark night, it will emit many sparks of
electrical fire.'

So says Hearne in his 'Journey,' published in 1795 (p. 346).

This observation of the Red Men is a kind of parable representing a part
of the purport of the following treatise. The Indians, making a hasty
inference from a trivial phenomenon, arrived unawares at a probably
correct conclusion, long unknown to civilised science. They connected the
Aurora Borealis with electricity, supposing that multitudes of deer
in the sky rubbed the sparks out of each other! Meanwhile, even in
the last century, a puzzled populace spoke of the phenomenon as 'Lord
Derwentwater's Lights.' The cosmic pomp and splendour shone to welcome the
loyal Derwentwater into heaven, when he had given his life for his exiled

Now, my purpose in the earlier portion of this essay is to suggest that
certain phenomena of human nature, apparently as trivial as the sparks
rubbed out of a deer's hide in a dark night, may indicate, and may be
allied to a force or forces, which, like the Aurora Borealis, may shine
from one end of the heavens to the other, strangely illumining the
darkness of our destiny. Such phenomena science has ignored, as it so long
ignored the sparks from the stroked deer-skin, and the attractive power of
rubbed amber. These trivial things were not known to be allied to the
lightning, or to indicate a force which man could tame and use. But just
as the Indians, by a rapid careless inference, attributed the Aurora
Borealis to electric influences, so (as anthropology assures us) savages
Everywhere have inferred the existence of soul or spirit, intelligence

'Does not know the bond of Time,
Nor wear the manacles of Space,'

in part from certain apparently trivial phenomena of human faculty. These
phenomena, as Mr. Tylor says, 'the great intellectual movement of the last
two centuries has simply thrown aside as worthless.'[1] I refer to alleged
experiences, merely odd, sporadic, and, for commercial purposes, useless,
such as the transference of thought from one mind to another by no known
channel of sense, the occurrence of hallucinations which, _prima facie_,
correspond coincidentally with unknown events at a distance, all that is
called 'second sight,' or 'clairvoyance,' and other things even more
obscure. Reasoning on these real or alleged phenomena, and on other quite
normal and accepted facts of dream, shadow, sleep, trance, and death,
savages have inferred the existence of spirit or soul, exactly as the
Indians arrived at the notion of electricity (not so called by them, of
course) as the cause of the Aurora Borealis. But, just as the Indians
thought that the cosmic lights were caused by the rubbing together of
crowded deer in the heavens (a theory quite childishly absurd), so the
savage has expressed, in rude fantastic ways, his conclusion as to the
existence of spirit. He believes in wandering separable souls of men,
surviving death, and he has peopled with his dreams the whole inanimate

My suggestion is that, in spite of his fantasies, the savage had possibly
drawn from his premises an inference not wholly, or not demonstrably
erroneous. As the sparks of the deer-skin indicated electricity, so the
strange lights in the night of human nature may indicate faculties which
science, till of late and in a few instances, has laughed at, ignored,
'thrown aside as worthless.'

It should be observed that I am not speaking of 'spiritualism,' a word of
the worst associations, inextricably entangled with fraud, bad logic, and
the blindest credulity. Some of the phenomena alluded to have, however,
been claimed as their own province by 'spiritists,' and need to be rescued
from them. Mr. Tylor writes:

'The issue raised by the comparison of savage, barbaric, and civilised
spiritualism is this: Do the Red Indian medicine-man, the Tatar
necromancer, the Highland ghost-seer, and the Boston medium, share the
possession of belief and knowledge of the highest truth and import,
which, nevertheless, the great intellectual movement of the last two
centuries has simply thrown aside as worthless?'

_Distinguo!_ That does not seem to me to be the issue. In my opinion the
issue is: 'Have the Red Indian, the Tatar, the Highland seer, and the
Boston medium (the least reputable of the menagerie) observed, and
reasoned wildly from, and counterfeited, and darkened with imposture,
certain genuine by-products of human faculty, which do not _prima facie_
deserve to be thrown aside?'

That, I venture to think, is the real issue. That science may toss aside
as worthless some valuable observations of savages is now universally
admitted by people who know the facts. Among these observations is the
whole topic of Hypnotism, with the use of suggestion for healing purposes,
and the phenomena, no longer denied, of 'alternating personalities.' For
the truth of this statement we may appeal to one of the greatest of
Continental anthropologists, Adolf Bastian.[2] The missionaries, like
Livingstone, usually supposed that the savage seer's declared ignorance--
after his so-called fit of inspiration--of what occurred in that state,
was an imposture. But nobody now doubts the similar oblivion of what has
passed that sometimes follows the analogous hypnotic sleep. Of a
remarkable cure, which the school of the Salpetriere or Nancy would
ascribe, with probable justice, to 'suggestion,' a savage example will be
given later.

Savage hypnotism and 'suggestion,' among the Sioux and Arapahoe, has been
thought worthy of a whole volume in the Reports of the Ethnological Bureau
of the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, U.S., 1892-98). Republican
Governments publish scientific matter 'regardless of expense,' and the
essential points might have been put more shortly. They illustrate the
fact that only certain persons can hypnotise others, and throw light on
some peculiarities of _rapport._[3] In brief, savages anticipated us in
the modern science of experimental psychology, as is frankly acknowledged
by the Society for Experimental Psychology of Berlin. 'That many mystical
phenomena are much more common and prominent among savages than among
ourselves is familiar to everyone acquainted with the subject. The
_ethnological_ side of oar inquiry demands penetrative study.'[4]

That study I am about to try to sketch. My object is to examine some
'superstitious practices' and beliefs of savages by aid of the comparative
method. I shall compare, as I have already said, the ethnological evidence
for savage usages and beliefs analogous to thought-transference,
coincidental hallucinations, alternating personality, and so forth, with
the best attested modern examples, experimental or spontaneous. This
raises the question of our evidence, which is all-important. We proceed to
defend it. The savage accounts are on the level of much anthropological
evidence; they may, that is, be dismissed by adversaries as 'travellers'
tales.' But the best testimony for the truth of the reports as to actual
belief in the facts is the undesigned coincidence of evidence from all
ages and quarters.[5] When the stories brought by travellers, ancient and
modern, learned and unlearned, pious or sceptical, agree in the main, we
have all the certainty that anthropology can offer. Again, when we find
practically the same strange neglected sparks, not only rumoured of
in European popular superstition, but attested in many hundreds of
depositions made at first hand by respectable modern witnesses, educated
and responsible, we cannot honestly or safely dismiss the coincidence of
report as indicating a mere 'survival' of savage superstitious belief, and
nothing more.

We can no longer do so, it is agreed, in the case of hypnotic phenomena. I
hope to make it seem possible that we should not do so in the matter of
the hallucinations provoked by gazing in a smooth deep, usually styled
'crystal-gating.' Ethnologically, this practice is at least as old as
classical times, and is of practically world-wide distribution. I shall
prove its existence in Australia, New Zealand, North America, South
America, Asia, Africa, Polynesia, and among the Incas, not to speak of
the middle and recent European ages. The universal idea is that such
visions may be 'clairvoyant.' To take a Polynesian case, 'resembling the
Hawaiian _wai harru_.' When anyone has been robbed, the priest, after
praying, has a hole dug in the floor of the house, and filled with water.
Then be gazes into the water, 'over which the god is supposed to place the
spirit of the thief.... The image of the thief was, according to their
account, reflected in the water, and being perceived by the priest, he
named the individual, or the parties.'[6] Here the statement about the
'spirit' is a mere savage philosophical explanation. But the fact that
hallucinatory pictures can really be seen by a fair percentage of educated
Europeans, in water, glass balls, and so forth, is now confirmed by
frequent experiment, and accepted by opponents, 'non-mystical writers,'
like Dr. Parish of Munich.[7] I shall bring evidence to suggest that the
visions may correctly reflect, as it were, persons and places absolutely
unknown to the gazer, and that they may even reveal details unknown to
every one present. Such results among savages, or among the superstitious,
would be, and are, explained by the theory of 'spirits.' Modern science
has still to find an explanation consistent with recognised laws of
nature, but 'spirits' we shall not invoke.

In the same way I mean to examine all or most of the 'so-called mystical
phenomena of savage life.' I then compare them with the better vouched for
modern examples. To return to the question of evidence, I confess that I
do not see how the adverse anthropologist, psychologist, or popular
agnostic is to evade the following dilemma: To the anthropologist we say,
'The evidence we adduce is your own evidence, that of books of travel in
all lands and countries. If _you_ may argue from it, so may we. Some
of it is evidence to unusual facts, more of it is evidence to singular
beliefs, which we think not necessarily without foundation. As raising a
presumption in favour of that opinion, we cite examples in which savage
observations of abnormal and once rejected facts, are now admitted by
science to have a large residuum of truth, we argue that what is admitted
in some cases may come to be admitted in more. No _a priori_ line can here
be drawn.'

To the psychologist who objects that our modern instances are mere
anecdotes, we reply by asking, 'Dear sir, what are _your_ modern
instances? What do you know of "Mrs. A.," whom you still persistently
cite as an example of morbid recurrent hallucinations? Name the German
servant girl who, in a fever, talked several learned languages, which she
had heard her former master, a scholar, declaim! Where did she live? Who
vouches for her, who heard her, who understood her? There is, you know, no
evidence at all; the anecdote is told by Coleridge: the phenomena are said
by him to have been observed "in a Roman Catholic town in Germany, a year
or two before my arrival at Goettingen.... Many eminent physiologists and
psychologists visited the town." Why do you not name a few out of the
distinguished crowd?'[8] This anecdote, a rumour of a rumour of a
Protestant explanation of a Catholic marvel, was told by Coleridge at
least twenty years after the possible date. The psychologists copy it,[9]
one after the other, as a flock of sheep jump where their leader has
jumped. An example by way of anecdote may be permitted.

According to the current anthropological theory, the idea of soul or
spirit was suggested to early men by their experiences in dreams. They
seemed, in sleep, to visit remote places; therefore, they argued,
something within them was capable of leaving the body and wandering about.

This something was the soul or spirit. Now it is obvious that this opinion
of early men would be confirmed if they ever chanced to acquire, in
dreams, knowledge of places which they had never visited, and of facts as
to which, in their waking state, they could have no information. This
experience, indeed, would suggest problems even To Mr. Herbert Spencer, if
it occurred to him.

Conversing on this topic with a friend of acknowledged philosophical
eminence, I illustrated my meaning by a story of a dream. It was reported
to me by the dreamer, with whom I am well acquainted, was of very recent
occurrence, and was corroborated by the evidence of another person, to
whom the dream was narrated, before its fulfilment was discovered. I am
not at liberty to publish the details, for good reasons, but the essence
of the matter was this: A. and B. (the dreamer) had common interests. A.
had taken certain steps about which B. had only a surmise, and a vague
one, that steps had probably been taken. A. then died, and B. in an
extremely vivid dream (a thing unfamiliar to him) seemed to read a mass of
unknown facts, culminating in two definite results, capable of being
stated in figures. These results, by the very nature of the case, could
not be known to A., so that, before he was placed out of B.'s reach by
death, he could not have stated them to him, and, afterwards, had
assuredly no means of doing so.

The dream, two days after its occurrence, and after it had been told to
C., proved to be literally correct. Now I am not asking the reader's
belief for this anecdote (for that could only be yielded in virtue of
knowledge of the veracity of B. and C.), but I invite his attention to the
psychological explanation. My friend suggested that A. had told B. all
about the affair, that B. had not listened (though his interests were
vitally concerned), and that the crowd of curious details, naturally
unfamiliar to B., had reposed in his subconscious memory, and had been
revived in the dream.

Now B.'s dream was a dream of reading a mass of minute details, including
names of places entirely unknown to him. It may be admitted, in accordance
with the psychological theory, that B. might have received all this
information from A., but, by dint of inattention--'the malady of not
marking'--might never have been _consciously_ aware of what he heard. Then
B.'s subconscious memory of what he did not _consciously_ know might break
upon him in his dream. Instances of similar mental phenomena are not
uncommon. But the general result of the combined details was one which
could not possibly be known to A. before his death; nor to B. could it be
known at all. Yet B.'s dream represented this general result with perfect
accuracy, which cannot be accounted for by the revival of subconscious
memory in sleep. Neither asleep nor awake can a man remember what it is
impossible for him to have known. The dream contained no _prediction_ for
the results were now fixed; but (granting the good faith of the narrator)
the dream did contain information not normally accessible.

However, by way of psychological explanation of the dream, my friend cited
Coleridge's legend, as to the German girl and her unconscious knowledge of
Certain learned languages. 'And what is the evidence for the truth of
Coleridge's legend?' Of course, there is none, or none known to all the
psychologists who quote it from Coleridge. Neither, if true, was the
legend to the point. However, psychology will accept such unauthenticated
narratives, and yet will scoff at first baud, duly corroborated testimony
from living and honourable people, about recent events.

Only a great force of prejudice can explain this acceptance, by
psychologists, of one kind of marvellous tale on no evidence, and this
rejection of another class of marvellous tale, when supported by first
hand, signed and corroborated evidence, of living witnesses. I see only
one escape for psychologists from this dilemma. Their marvellous tales are
_possible_, though unvouched for, because they have always heard them and
repeated them in lectures, and read and repeated them in books. _Our_
marvellous tales are impossible, because the psychologists know that they
are impossible, which means that they have not been familiar with them,
from youth upwards, in lectures and manuals. But man has no right to have
'clear ideas of the possible and impossible,' like Faraday, _a priori_,
except in the exact sciences. There are other instances of weak evidence
which satisfies psychologists.

Hamilton has an anecdote, borrowed from Monboddo, who got it from Mr. Hans
Stanley, who, 'about twenty-six years ago,' heard it from the subject of
the story, Madame de Laval. 'I have the memorandum somewhere in my
papers,' says Mr. Stanley, vaguely. Then we have two American anecdotes by
Dr. Flint and Mr. Rush; and such is Sir William Hamilton's equipment of
odd facts for discussing the unconscious or subconscious. The least
credible and worst attested of these narratives still appears in popular
works on psychology. Moreover, all psychology, except experimental
psychology, is based on anecdotes which people tell about their own
subjective experiences. Mr. Galton, whose original researches are well
known, even offered rewards in money for such narratives about visualised
rows of coloured figures, and so on.

Clearly the psychologist, then, has no _prima facie_ right to object to
our anecdotes of experiences, which be regards as purely subjective. As
evidence, we only accept them at first hand, and, when possible, the
witnesses have been cross-examined personally. Our evidence then, where it
consists of travellers' tales, is on a level with that which satisfies the
anthropologist. Where it consists of modern statements of personal
experience, our evidence is often infinitely better than much which is
accepted by the nonexperimental psychologist. As for the agnostic writer
on the Non-Religion of the Future, M. Guyau actually illustrates the
Resurrection of our Lord by an American myth about a criminal, of whom a
hallucinatory phantasm appeared to each of his gaol companions, separately
and successively, on a day after his execution! For this prodigious fable
no hint of reference to authority is given.[10] Yet the evidence appears
to satisfy M. Guyau, and is used by him to reinforce his argument.

The anthropologist and psychologist, then, must either admit that their
evidence is no better than ours, if as good, or must say that they only
believe evidence as to 'possible' facts. They thus constitute themselves
judges of what is possible, and practically regard themselves as
omniscient. Science has had to accept so many things once scoffed at as
'impossible,' that this attitude of hers, as we shall show in chapter ii.,
ceases to command respect.

My suggestion is that the trivial, rejected, or unheeded phenomena
Vouched for by the evidence here defended may, not inconceivably, be of
considerable importance. But, stating the case at the lowest, if we are
only concerned with illusions and fables, it cannot but be curious to note
their persistent uniformity in savage and civilised life.

To make the first of our two main positions clear, and in part to justify
ourselves in asking any attention for such matters, we now offer an
historical sketch of the relations between Science and the so-called
'Miraculous' in the past.

[Footnote 1: _Primitive Culture_, i. 156. London, 1891.]

[Footnote 2: _Ueber psychische Beobachiungen bei Naiurvuelkern_. Leipzig,
Gunther, 1890.]

[Footnote 3: See especially pp. 922-926. The book is interesting is other
ways, and, indeed, touching, as it describes the founding of a new Red
Indian religion, on a basis of Hypnotism and Christianity.]

[Footnote 4: Programme of the Society, p. iv.]

[Footnote 5: Tylor, _Primitive Culture_, i, 9, 10.]

[Footnote 6: Ellis, _Polynesian Researches_, ii. p. 240.]

[Footnote 7: _Hallucinations and Illusions_, English edition, pp. 69-70,

[Footnote 8: Sir William Hamilton's _Lectures_, i. 345.]

[Footnote 9: Maudsley, Kerner, Carpentor, Du Prel, Zangwill.]

[Footnote 10: Coleridge's mythical maid (p. 10) is set down by Mr. Samuel
Laing to an experiment of Braid's! No references are given.--Laing:
_Problems of the Future._]



_Historical Sketch_

Research in the X region is not a new thing under the sun. When Saul
disguised himself before his conference with the Witch of Endor, he made
an elementary attempt at a scientific test of the supernormal. Croesus,
the king, went much further, when he tested the clairvoyance of the
oracles of Greece, by sending an embassy to ask what he was doing at a
given hour on a given day, and by then doing something very _bizarre_. We
do not know how the Delphic oracle found out the right answer, but various
easy methods of fraud at once occur to the mind. However, the procedure of
Croesus, if he took certain precautions, was relatively scientific.
Relatively scientific also was the inquiry of Porphyry, with whose
position our own is not unlikely to be compared. Unable, or reluctant, to
accept Christianity, Porphyry 'sought after a sign' of an element of
supernormal truth in Paganism. But he began at the wrong end, namely at
Pagan spiritualistic _seances_, with the usual accompaniments of darkness
And fraud. His perplexed letter to Anebo, with the reply attributed to
Iamblichus, reveal Porphyry wandering puzzled among mediums, floating
lights, odd noises, queer dubious 'physical phenomena.' He did not begin
with accurate experiments as to the existence of rare, and apparently
supernormal human faculties, and he seems to have attained no conclusion
except that 'spirits' are 'deceitful.'[1]

Something more akin to modern research began about the time of the
Reformation, and lasted till about 1680. The fury for burning witches led
men of sense, learning, and humanity to ask whether there was any reality
in witchcraft, and, generally, in the marvels of popular belief. The
inquiries of Thyraeus, Lavaterus, Bodinus, Wierus, Le Loyer, Reginald
Scot, and many others, tended on the whole to the negative side as regards
the wilder fables about witches, but left the problems of ghosts and
haunted houses pretty much where they were before. It may be observed that
Lavaterus (circ. 1580) already put forth a form of the hypothesis of
telepathy (that 'ghosts' are hallucinations produced by the direct action
of one mind, or brain, upon another), while Thyraeus doubted whether the
noises heard in 'haunted houses' were not mere hallucinations of the sense
of hearing. But all these early writers, like Cardan, were very careless
of first-hand evidence, and, indeed, preferred ghosts vouched for by
classical authority, Pliny, Plutarch, or Suetonius. With the Rev. Joseph
Glanvil, F.R.S. (circ. 1666), a more careful examination of evidence came
into use. Among the marvels of Glanvil's and other tracts usually
published together in his 'Sadducismus Triumphatus' will be found letters
which show that he and his friends, like Henry More and Boyle, laboured to
collect first-hand evidence for second sight, haunted houses, ghosts, and
wraiths. The confessed object was to procure a 'Whip for the Droll,' a
reply to the laughing scepticism of the Restoration. The result was to
bring on Glanvil a throng of bores--he was 'worse haunted than Mr.
Mompesson's house,' he says-and Mr. Pepys found his arguments 'not very
convincing.' Mr. Pepys, however, was alarmed by 'our young gib-cat,'
which he mistook for a 'spright.' With Henry More, Baxter, and Glanvil
practically died, for the time, the attempt to investigate these topics
scientifically, though an impression of doubt was left on the mind of
Addison. Witchcraft ceased to win belief, and was abolished, as a crime,
in 1736. Some of the Scottish clergy, and John Wesley, clung fondly
to the old faith, but Wodrow, and Cotton Mather (about 1710-1730) were
singularly careless and unlucky in producing anything like evidence for
their narratives. Ghost stories continued to be told, but not to be

Then one of the most acute of philosophers decided that investigation
ought never to be attempted. This scientific attitude towards X phenomena,
that of refusing to examine them, and denying them without examination,
was fixed by David Hume in his celebrated essay on 'Miracles.' Hume
derided the observation and study of what he called 'Miracles,' in the
field of experience, and he looked for an _a priori_ argument which would
for ever settle the question without examination of facts. In an age of
experimental philosophy, which derided _a priori_ methods, this was Hume's
great contribution to knowledge. His famous argument, the joy of many an
honest breast, is a tissue of fallacies which might be given for exposure
to beginners in logic, as an elementary exercise. In announcing his
discovery, Hume amusingly displays the self-complacency and the want of
humour with which we Scots are commonly charged by our critics:

'I flatter myself that I have discovered an argument which, if just,
will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds
of superstitious delusions, and consequently will he useful as long as
the world endures.'

He does not expect, however, to convince the multitude. Till the end of
the world, 'accounts of miracles and prodigies, I suppose, will be found
in all histories, sacred and profane.' Without saying here what he
means by a miracle, Hume argues that 'experience is our only guide in
reasoning.' He then defines a miracle as 'a violation of the laws
of nature.' By a 'law of nature' he means a uniformity, not of all
experience, but of each experience as he will deign to admit; while he
excludes, without examination, all evidence for experience of the absence
of such uniformity. That kind of experience cannot be considered. 'There
must be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the
event would not merit that appellation.' If there be any experience in
favour of the event, that experience does not count. A miracle is counter
to universal experience, no event is counter to universal experience,
therefore no event is a miracle. If you produce evidence to what Hume
calls a miracle (we shall see examples) he replies that the evidence is
not valid, unless its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact.
Now no error of human evidence can be more miraculous than a 'miracle.'
Therefore there can be no valid evidence for 'miracles.' Fortunately,
Hume now gives an example of what he means by 'miracles.' He says:--

'For, first, there is _not to be found_, in _all history_, any miracle
attested by a _sufficient number_ of men, of such unquestioned _good
sense, education_, and _learning_, as to secure us against all delusion
in themselves; of such undoubted _integrity_, as to place them beyond
all suspicion of any design to deceive others; of such credit and
reputation in the eyes of mankind, as to have a great deal to lose in
case of their being detected in any falsehood; and at the same time
attesting facts performed in such a _public manner_, and in so
_celebrated a part of the world_, as to render the detection
unavoidable; all which circumstances are requisite to give us a full
assurance in the testimony of men.'[2]

Hume added a note at the end of his book, in which he contradicted every
assertion which he had made in the passage just cited; indeed, be
contradicted himself before he had written six pages.

There surely never was a greater number of miracles ascribed to one person
than those which were lately said to have been wrought in France upon the
tomb of Abbe Paris, the famous Jansenist, with whose sanctity the people
were so long deluded. The curing of the sick, giving hearing to the deaf,
and sight to the blind, were everywhere talked of as the usual effects of
that holy sepulchre. But what is more extraordinary, many of the miracles
were _immediately proved upon the spot, before judges of unquestioned
integrity_, attested by _witnesses of credit and distinction_, in _a
learned age_, and on the most _eminent theatre_ that is _now in the
world_. Nor is this all. A relation of them was published and dispersed
everywhere; nor were the Jesuits, though a learned body, supported
by the civil magistrate, and determined enemies to those opinions,
in whose favour the miracles were said to have been wrought, ever able
_distinctly to refute or detect them_. Where shall we find such a number
of circumstances, agreeing to the corroboration of one fact? And what
have we to oppose to such a cloud of witnesses, but the absolute
_impossibility, or miraculous nature_ of the events which they relate?
And this, surely, in the eyes of all reasonable people, will alone be
regarded as a sufficient refutation.'

Thus Hume, first denies the existence of such evidence, given in such
circumstances as he demands, and then he produces an example of that very
kind of evidence. Having done this, he abandons (as Mr. Wallace observes)
his original assertion that the evidence does not exist, and takes refuge
in alleging 'the absolute impossibility' of the events which the evidence
supports. Thus Hume poses as a perfect judge of the possible, in a kind of
omniscience. He takes his stand on the uniformity of all experience that
is not hostile to his idea of the possible, and dismisses all testimony to
other experience, even when it reaches his standard of evidence. He is
remote indeed from Virchow's position 'that what we call the laws of
nature must vary according to our frequent new experiences.'[3] In his
note, Hume buttresses and confirms his evidence for the Jansenist
miracles. They have even a martyr, M. Montgeron, who wrote an account of
the events, and, says Hume lightly, 'is now said to be somewhere in a
dungeon on account of his book. 'Many of the miracles of the Abbe Paris
were proved immediately by witnesses before the Bishop's court at Paris,
under the eye of Cardinal Noailles.... 'His successor was an enemy to the
Jansenists, yet twenty-two _cures_ of Paris ... pressed him to examine
these miracles ... _But he wisely forbore_.' Hume adds his testimony to
the character of these _cures_. Thus it is wisdom, according to Hume, to
dismiss the most public and well-attested 'miracles' without examination.
This is experimental science of an odd kind.

The phenomena were cases of healing, many of them surprising, of
cataleptic rigidity, and of insensibility to pain, among visitors to the
tomb of the Abbe Paris (1731). Had the cases been judicially examined (all
medical evidence was in their favour), and had they been proved false, the
cause of Hume would have profited enormously. A strong presumption would
have been raised against the miracles of Christianity. But Hume applauds
the wisdom of not giving his own theory this chance of a triumph. The
cataleptic seizures were of the sort now familiar to science. These have,
therefore, emerged from the miraculous. In fact, the phenomena which
occurred at the tomb of the Abbe Paris have emerged almost too far, and
now seem in danger of being too readily and too easily accepted. In 1887
MM. Binet and Fere, of the school of the Salpetriere, published in English
a popular manual styled 'Animal Magnetism.' These authors write with great
caution about such alleged phenomena as the reading, by the hypnotised
patient, of the thoughts in the mind of the hypnotiser. But as to the
phenomena at the tomb of the Abbe Paris, they say that 'suggestion
explains them.'[4] That is, in the opinion of MM. Binet and Fere
the so-called 'miracles' really occurred, and were worked by 'the
imagination,' by 'self-suggestion.'

The most famous case--that of Mlle. Coirin--has been carefully examined by
Dr. Charcot.[5]

Mlle. Coirin had a dangerous fall from her horse, in September 1716, in
her thirty-first year. The medical details may be looked for in Dr.
Charcot's essay or in Montgeron.[6] 'Her disease was diagnosed as cancer
of the left breast,' the nipple 'fell off bodily.' Amputation of the
breast was proposed, but Madame Coirin, believing the disease to be
radically incurable, refused her consent. Paralysis of the left side set
in (1718), the left leg shrivelling up. On August 9, 1731, Mlle. Coirin
'tried the off chance' of a miracle, put on a shift that had touched the
tomb of Paris, and used some earth from the grave. On August 11, Mlle.
Coirin could turn herself in bed; on the 12th the horrible wound 'was
staunched, and began to close up and heal.' The paralysed side recovered
life and its natural proportions. By September 3, Mlle. Coirin could go
out for a drive.

All her malady, says Dr. Charcot, paralysis, 'cancer,' and all, was
'hysterical;' 'hysterical oedema,' for which he quotes many French
authorities and one American. 'Under the physical [psychical?] influence
brought to bear by the application of the shift ... the oedema, which was
due to vaso-motor trouble, disappeared almost instantaneously. The breast
regained its normal size.'

Dr. Charcot generously adds that shrines, like Lourdes, have cured
patients in whom he could not 'inspire the operation of the faith cure.'
He certainly cannot explain everything which claims to be of supernatural
origin in the faith cure. We have to learn the lesson of patience. I am
among the first to recognise that Shakespeare's words hold good to-day:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

If Dr. Charcot had believed in what the French call _suggestion mentale_--
suggestion by thought-transference (which I think he did not)--he could
have explained the healing of the Centurion's servant, 'Say the word,
Lord, and my servant shall be healed,' by suggestion & distance
(telepathy), and by premising that the servant's palsy was 'hysterical.'
But what do we mean by 'hysterical'? Nobody knows. The 'mind,' somehow,
causes gangrenes, if not cancers, paralysis, shrinking of tissues; the
mind, somehow, cures them. And what is the 'mind'? As my object is to give
savage parallels to modern instances bettor vouched for. I quote a
singular Red Indian cure by 'suggestion.' Hearne, travelling in Canada, in
1770, met a native who had 'dead palsy,' affecting the whole of one side.
He was dragged on a sledge, 'reduced to a mere skeleton,' and so was
placed in the magic lodge. The first step in his cure was the public
swallowing by a conjurer of a board of wood, 'about the size of a
barrel-stave,' twice as wide across as his mouth. Hearne stood beside the
man, 'naked as he was born,' 'and, notwithstanding I was all attention, I
could not detect the deceit.' Of course, Hearne believes that this was
mere legerdemain, and (p. 216) mentions a most suspicious circumstance.
The account is amusing, and deserves the attention of Mr. Neville
Maskelyne. The same conjurer had previously swallowed a cradle! Now
bayonet swallowing, which he also did, is possible, though Hearne denies
it (p. 217).

The real object of these preliminary feats, however performed, is,
probably, to inspire _faith_, which Dr. Charcot might have done by
swallowing a cradle. The Indians explain that the barrel staves apparently
swallowed are merely dematerialised by 'spirits,' leaving only the forked
end sticking out of the conjurer's mouth. In fact, Hearne caught the
conjurer in the act of making a separate forked end.

Faith being thus inspired, the conjurer, for three entire days, blew,
sang, and danced round 'the poor paralytic, fasting. 'And it is truly
wonderful, though the strictest truth, that when the poor man was taken
from the conjuring house ... he was able to move all the fingers and toes
of the side that had been so long dead.... At the end of six weeks he went
a-hunting for his family' (p. 219). Hearne kept up his acquaintance, and
adds, what is very curious, that he developed almost a secondary
personality. 'Before that dreadful paralytic stroke, he had been
distinguished for his good nature and benevolent disposition, was entirely
free from every appearance of avarice,... but after this event he was the
most fractious, quarrelsome, discontented, and covetous wretch alive'
(p. 220).

Dr. Charcot, if he had been acquainted with this case, would probably have
said that it 'is of the nature of those which Professor Russell Reynolds
has classified under the head of "paralysis dependent on idea.'"[7]
Unluckily, Hearne does not tell us how his hunter, an untutored Indian,
became 'paralysed by idea.'

Dr. Charcot adds: 'In every case, science is a foe to systematic negation,
which the morrow may cause to melt away in the light of its new triumphs.'
The present 'new triumph' is a mere coincidence with the dicta of our
Lord, 'Thy faith hath made thee whole.... I have not found so great faith,
no, not in Israel.' There are cures, as there are maladies, caused 'by
idea.' So, in fact, we had always understood. But the point is that
science, wherever it agrees with David Hume, is not a foe, but a friend to
'systematic negation.'

A parallel case of a 'miracle,' the stigmata of St. Francis, was, of
course, regarded by science as a fable or a fraud. But, now that blisters
and other lesions can be produced by suggestion, the fable has become a
probable fact, and, therefore, not a miracle at all.[8] Mr. James remarks:
'As so often happens, a fact is denied till a welcome interpretation
comes with it. Then it is admitted readily enough, and evidence quite
insufficient to back a claim, so long as the Church had an interest
in making it, proves to be quite sufficient for modern scientific
enlightenment the moment it appears that a reputed saint can thereby be
claimed as a case of "hystero-epilepsy."'[9]

But the Church continues to have an interest in the matter. As the class
of facts which Hume declined to examine begins to be gradually admitted by
science, the thing becomes clear. The evidence which could safely convey
these now admittedly possible facts, say from the time of Christ, is so
far proved to be not necessarily mythical--proved to be not incapable of
carrying statements probably correct, which once seemed absolutely
false. If so, where, precisely, ends its power of carrying facts? Thus
considered, the kinds of marvellous events recorded in the Gospels,
for example, are no longer to be dismissed on _a priori_ grounds as
'mythical.' We cannot now discard evidence as necessarily false because
it clashes with our present ideas of the possible, when we have to
acknowledge that the very same evidence may safely convey to us facts
which clashed with our fathers' notions of what is possible, but which
are now accepted. Our notions of the possible cease to be a criterion of
truth or falsehood, and our contempt for the Gospels as myths must
slowly die, as 'miracle' after 'miracle' is brought within the realm of
acknowledged law. With each such admission the hypothesis that the Gospel
evidence is mythical must grow weaker, and weaker must grow the negative
certainty of popular science.

The occurrences which took place at and near the tomb of Paris were
attested, as Hume truly avers, by a great body of excellent evidence. But
the wisdom which declined to make a judicial examination has deprived us
of the best kind of record. Analogous if not exactly similar events now
confessedly take place, and are no longer looked upon as miraculous. But
as long as they were held to be miraculous, not to examine the evidence,
said Hume, was the policy of 'all reasonable people.' The result was to
deprive Science of the best sort of record of facts which she welcomes as
soon us she thinks she can explain them.[10] Examples of the folly of
_a priori_ negation are common. The British Association refused to hear
the essay which Braid, the inventor of the word 'hypnotism,' had written
upon the subject. Braid, Elliotson, and other English inquirers of the
mid-century, were subjected to such persecutions as official science could
inflict. We read of M. Deslon, a disciple of Mesmer, about 1783, that he
was 'condemned by the Faculty of Medicine, without any examination of the
facts.' The Inquisition proceeded more fairly than these scientific

Another curious example may be cited. M. Guyau, in his work 'The
Non-Religion of the Future,' argues that Religion is doomed. 'Poetic
genius has withdrawn its services,' witness Tennyson and Browning! 'Among
orthodox Protestant nations miracles do not happen.'[11] But 'marvellous
facts' _do_ happen.[12] These 'marvellous facts,' accepted by M. Guyau,
are what Hume called 'miracles,' and advised the 'wise and learned' to
laugh at, without examination. They were not facts, and could not be, he
said. Now to M. Guyau's mind they _are_ facts, and therefore are not
miracles. He includes 'mental suggestion taking place even at a distance.'
A man 'can transmit an almost compulsive command, it appears nowadays, by
a simple tension of his will.' If this be so, if 'will' can affect matter
from a distance, obviously the relations of will and matter are not what
popular science tells us that they are. Again, if this truth is now
established, and won from that region which Hume and popular science
forbid as to investigate, who knows what other facts may be redeemed from
that limbo, or how far they may affect our views of possibilities? The
admission of mental action, operative _a distance_, is, of course,
personal only to M. Guyau, among friends of the new negative tradition.

We return to Hume. He next argues that the pleasures of wonder make all
accounts of 'miracles' worthless. He has just given an example of the
equivalent pleasures of dogmatic disbelief. Then Religion is a disturbing
force; but so, manifestly, is irreligion. 'The wise and learned are
content to deride the absurdity, without informing themselves of the
particular facts.' The wise and learned are applauded for their scientific
attitude. Again, miracles destroy each other, for all religions have their
miracles, but all religions cannot be true. This argument is no longer of
force with people who look on 'miracles' as = 'X phenomena,' not as divine
evidences to the truth of this or that creed. 'The gazing populace
receives, without examination, whatever soothes superstition,' and
Hume's whole purpose is to make the wise and learned imitate the gazing
populace y rejecting alleged facts 'without examination.' The populace
investigated more than did the wise and learned.

Hume has an alternative definition of a miracle--'a miracle is a
transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or
by the interposition of some invisible agent.' We reply that what
Hume calls a 'miracle' may result from the operation of some as yet
unascertained law of nature (say self-suggestion), and that our business,
at present, is to examine such events, not to account for them.

It may fairly be said that Hume is arguing against men who wished to make
so-called 'miracles' a test of the truth of Jansenism, for example, and
that he could not be expected to answer, by anticipation, ideas not
current in his day. But he remains guilty of denouncing the investigation
of apparent facts. No attitude can be less scientific than his, or more
common among many men of science.

According to the humorous wont of things in this world, the whole question
of the marvellous had no sooner been settled for ever by David Hume than
it was reopened by Emanuel Swedenborg. Now, Kant was familiar with certain
of the works of Hume, whether he had read his 'Essay on Miracles' or not.
Far from declining to examine the portentous 'visions' of Swedenborg, Kant
interested himself deeply in the topic. As early as 1758 he wrote his
first remarks on the seer, containing some reports of stories or legends
about Swedenborg's 'clairvoyance.' In the true spirit of psychical
research, Kant wrote a letter to Swedenborg, asking for information at
first hand. The seer got the letter, but he never answered it. Kant,
however, prints one or two examples of Swedenborg's successes. Madame
Harteville, widow of the Dutch envoy in Stockholm, was dunned by a
silversmith for a debt of her late husband's. She believed that it had
been paid, but could not find the receipt. She therefore asked Swedenborg
to use his renowned gifts. He promised to see what he could do, and, three
days later, arrived at the lady's house while she was giving a tea, or
rather a coffee, party. To the assembled society Swedenborg remarked, 'in
a cold-blooded way, that he had seen her man, and spoken to him.' The late
M. Harteville declared to Swedenborg that he had paid the bill, seven
months before his decease: the receipt was in a cupboard upstairs. Madame
Harteville replied that the cupboard had been thoroughly searched to no
purpose. Swedenborg answered that, as he learned from the ghost, there was
a secret drawer behind the side-plank within the cupboard. The drawer
contained diplomatic correspondence, and the missing receipt. The whole
company then went upstairs, found the secret drawer, and the receipt among
the other papers. Kant adds Swedenborg's clairvoyant vision, from
Gothenburg, of a great fire at Stockholm (dated September 1756). Kant
pined to see Swedenborg himself, and waited eagerly for his book, 'Arcana
Coelestia.' At last he obtained this work, at the ransom, ruinous to Kant
at that time, of 7L. But he was disappointed with what he read, and in
'Traeume eines Geistersehers,' made a somewhat sarcastic attempt at a
metaphysical theory of apparitions.

'Velut aegri somnia vanae
Finguntur species'

is his motto.

Kant's real position about all these matters is, I venture to say, almost
identical with that of Sir Walter Scott. A Scot himself, by descent, Kant
may have heard tales of second-sight and bogles. Like Scott, he dearly
loved a ghost-story; like Scott he was canny enough to laugh, publicly, at
them and at himself for his interest in them. Yet both would take trouble
to inquire. As Kant vainly wrote to Swedenborg and others--as he vainly
spent 7L. on 'Arcana Coelestia,' so Sir Walter was anxious to go to Egypt
to examine the facts of ink-gazing clairvoyance. Kant confesses that each
individual ghost-story found him sceptical, whereas the cumulative mass
made a considerable impression.[13]

The first seventy pages of the 'Tribune' are devoted to a perfectly
serious discussion of the metaphysics of 'Spirits.' On page 73 he
pleasantly remarks, 'Now we shall understand that all said hitherto is
superfluous,' and he will not reproach the reader who regards seers _not_
as citizens of two worlds (Plotinus), but as candidates for Bedlam.

Kant's irony is peculiarly Scottish. He does not himself know how far he
is in earnest, and, to save his self-respect and character for canniness,
he 'jocks wi' deeficulty.' He amuses himself with trying how far he can
carry speculations on metaphysics (not yet reformed by himself) into the
realm of the ghostly. He makes admissions about his own tendency to think
that he has an immaterial soul, and that these points are, or may be, or
some day will be, scientifically solved. These admissions are eagerly
welcomed by Du Prel in his 'Philosophy of Mysticism;' but they are only
part of Kant's joke, and how far they are serious, Kant himself does not
know. If spiritualists knew their own business, they would translate and
publish Kant's first seventy pages of 'Traeume.' Something like telepathy,
action of spirit, even discarnate, on spirit, is alluded to, but the idea
is as old as Lavaterus at least (p. 52). Kant has a good deal to say, like
Scott in his 'Demonology,' on the physics of Hallucination, but it is
antiquated matter. He thinks the whole topic of spiritual being only
important as bearing on hopes of a future life. As speculation, all is 'in
the air,' and as in such matters the learned and unlearned are on a level
of ignorance, science will not discuss them. He then repeats the
Swedenborg stories, and thinks it would be useful to posterity if some one
would investigate them while witnesses are alive and memories are fresh.

In fact, Kant asks for psychical research.

As for Swedenborg's so costly book, Kant laughs at it. There is in it no
evidence, only assertion. Kant ends, having pleased nobody, he says, and
as ignorant as when he began, by citing _cultivons notre jardin_.

Kant returned to the theme in 'Anthropologische Didaktik.' He discusses
the unconscious, or sub-conscious, which, till Sir William Hamilton
lectured, seems to have been an absolutely unknown topic to British
psychologists. 'So ist das Feld dunkler Vorstellungen das groesste in
Menschen.' He has a chapter on 'The Divining Faculty' (pp. 89-93). He will
not hear of presentiments, and, unlike Hegel, he scouts the Highland
second-sight. The 'possessed' of anthropology are epileptic patients.
Mystics (Swedenborg) are victims of _Schwaermerei_.

This reference to Swedenborg is remarked upon by Schubert in his preface
to the essay of Kant. He points out that 'it is interesting to compare the
circumspection, the almost uncertainty of Kant when he had to deliver a
judgment on the phenomena described by himself and as to which he had made
inquiry [i.e. in his letter _re_ Swedenborg to Mlle. de Knobloch], and the
very decided opinions he expressed forty years later on Swedenborg and
his companions' [in the work cited, sections 35-37. The opinion in
paragraph 35 is a general one as to mystics. There is no other mention of

On the whole Kant is interested, but despairing. He wants facts, and no
facts are given to him but the book of the Prophet Emanuel. But, as it
happened, a new, or a revived, order of facts was just about to solicit
scientific attention. Kant had (1766) heard rumours of healing by
magnetism, and of the alleged effect of the magnet on the human frame. The
subject was in the air, and had already won the attention of Mesmer, about
whom Kant had information. It were superfluous to tell again the familiar
story of Mesmer's performances at Paris. While Mesmer's theory of
'magnetism' was denounced by contemporary science, the discovery of the
hypnotic sleep was made by his pupil, Puysegur. This gentleman was
persuaded that instances of 'thought-transference' (not through known
channels of sense) occurred between the patient and the magnetiser, and he
also believed that he had witnessed cases of 'clairvoyance,' 'lucidity,'
_vue a distance_, in which the patient apparently beheld places and events
remote in space. These things would now be explained by 'unconscious
suggestion' in the more sceptical schools of psychological science. The
Revolution interrupted scientific study in France to a great degree, but
'somnambulism' (the hypnotic sleep) and 'magnetism' were eagerly examined
in Germany. Modern manuals, for some reason, are apt to overlook these
German researches and speculations. (Compare Mr. Vincent's 'Elements of
Hypnotism,' p. 34.) The Schellings were interested; Ritter thought he had
detected a new force, 'Siderism.' Mr. Wallace, in his preface to Hegel's
'Philosophie des Geistes,' speaks as if Ritter had made experiments in
telepathy. He may have done so, but his 'Siderismus' (Tuebingen, 1808)
is a Report undertaken for the Academy of Munich, on the doings of an
Italian water-finder, or 'dowser.' Ritter gives details of seventy-four
experiments in 'dowsing' for water, metals, or coal. He believes in the
faculty, but not in 'psychic' explanations, or the Devil. He talks
about 'electricity' (pp. 170, 190). He describes his precautions to
avoid vulgar fraud, but he took no precautions against unconscious
thought-transference. He reckoned the faculty 'temperamental' and useful.

Amoretti, at Milan, examined hundreds of cases of the so-called Divining
Rod, and Jung Stilling became an early spiritualist and' full-welling
fountain head' of ghost stories.

Probably the most important philosophical result of the early German
researches into the hypnotic slumber is to be found in the writings of
Hegel. Owing to his peculiar use of a terminology, or scientific language,
All his own, it is extremely difficult to make Hegel's meaning even
moderately clear. Perhaps we may partly elucidate it by a similitude of
Mr. Frederic Myers. Suppose we compare the ordinary everyday consciousness
of each of us to a _spectrum_, whose ends towards each extremity fade out
of our view.

Beyond the range of sight there may be imagined a lower or physiological
end: for our ordinary consciousness, of course, is unaware of many
physiological processes which are eternally going on within us. Digestion,
so long as it is healthy, is an obvious example. But hypnotic experiment
makes it certain that a patient, in the _hypnotic_ condition, can
consciously, or at least purposefully, affect physiological processes to
which the _ordinary_ consciousness is blind--for example, by raising a
blister, when it is suggested that a blister must be raised. Again
(granting the facts hypothetically and merely for the sake of argument),
at the _upper_ end of the spectrum, beyond the view of ordinary everyday
consciousness, knowledge may be acquired of things which are out of the
view of the consciousness of every day. For example (for the sake of
argument let us admit it), unknown and remote people and places may be
seen and described by clairvoyance, or _vue a distance_.

Now Hegel accepted as genuine the facts which we here adduce merely for
the sake of argument, and by way of illustrations. But he did not regard
the clairvoyant consciousness (or whatever we call it) which, _ex
hypothesi_, is untrammelled by space, or even by time, as occupying what
we style the _upper_ end of the psychical spectrum. On the contrary, he
placed it at the _lower_ end. Hegel's upper end 'loses itself in light;'
the lower end, _qui voit tant de choses_, as La Fontaine's shepherd says,
is _not_ 'a sublime mental phase, and capable of conveying general
truths.' Time and space do not thwart the consciousness at Hegel's _lower_
end, which springs from 'the great soul of nature.' But that lower end,
though it may see for Jeanne d'Arc at Valcouleurs a battle at Rouvray, a
hundred leagues away, does not communicate any lofty philosophic
truths.[14] The phenomena of clairvoyance, in Hegel's opinion, merely
indicate that the 'material' is really 'ideal,' which, perhaps, is as much
as we can ask from them. 'The somnambulist and clairvoyant see without
eyes, and carry their visions directly into regions where the waiting
consciousness of orderly intelligence cannot enter' (Wallace). Hegel
admits, however, that 'in ordinary self-possessed conscious life' there
are traces of the 'magic tie,' 'especially between female friends of
delicate nerves,' to whom he adds husband and wife, and members of the
same family. He gives (without date or source) a case of a girl in Germany
who saw her brother lying dead in a hospital at Valladolid. Her brother
was at the time in the hospital, but it was another man in the nest bed
who was dead. 'It is thus impossible to make out whether what the
clairvoyants really see preponderates over what they deceive themselves

As long as the facts which Hegel accepted are not officially welcomed by
science, it may seem superfluous to dispute as to whether they are
attained by the lower or the higher stratum of our consciousness. But
perhaps the question here at issue may be elucidated by some remarks of
Dr. Max Dessoir. Psychology, he says, has proved that in every conception
and idea an image or group of images must be present. These mental images
are the recrudescence or recurrence of perceptions. We see a tree, or a
man, or a dog, and whenever we have before our minds the conception or
idea of any of these things the original perception of them returns,
though of course more faintly. But in Dr. Dessoir's opinion these revived
mental images would reach the height of actual hallucinations (so that the
man, dog, or tree would seem visibly present) if other memories and new
sensations did not compete with them and check their development.

Suppose, to use Mlle. Ferrand's metaphor, a human body, living, but with
all its channels of sensation hitherto unopened. Open the sense of sight
to receive a flash of green colour, and close it again. Apparently,
whenever the mind informing this body had the conception of green (and it
could have no other) it would also have an hallucination of green, thus

'Annihilating all that's made,
To a green thought in a green shade.'

Now, in sleep or hypnotic trance the competition of new sensations and
other memories is removed or diminished, and therefore the idea of a man,
dog, or tree once suggested to the hypnotised patient, does become an
actual hallucination. The hypnotised patient sees the absent object which
he is told to see, the sleeper sees things not really present.

Our primitive state, before the enormous competition of other memories and
new sensations set in, would thus be a state of hallucination. Our normal
present condition, in which hallucination is checked by competing memories
and new sensations, is a suppression of our original, primitive, natural
tendencies. Hallucination represents 'the main trunk of our psychical
existence.'[15] In Dr. Dessoir's theory this condition of hallucination
is man's original and most primitive condition, but it is not a _higher_,
rather a lower state of spiritual activity than the everyday practical
unhallucinated consciousness.

This is also the opinion of Hegel, who supposes our primitive mental
condition to be capable of descrying objects remote in space and time. Mr.
Myers, as we saw, is of the opposite opinion, as to the relative dignity
And relative reality of the present everyday self, and the old original
fundamental Self. Dr. Dessoir refrains from pronouncing a decided opinion
as to whether the original, primitive, hallucinated self within us does
'preside over powers and actions at a distance,' such as clairvoyance; but
he believes in hypnotisation at a distance. His theory, like Hegel's, is
that of 'atavism,' or 'throwing back' to some very remote ancestral
condition. This will prove of interest later.

Hegel, at all events, believed in the fact of clairvoyance (though deeming
it of little practical use); he accepted telepathy ('the magic tie'); he
accepted interchange of sensations between the hypnotiser and the
hypnotised; he believed in the divining rod, and, unlike Kant, even in
'Scottish second-sight.' 'The intuitive soul oversteps the conditions of
time and space; it beholds things remote, things long past, and things to

The pendulum of thought has swung back a long way from the point whither
it was urged by David Hume. Hegel remarks: 'The facts, it might seem,
first of all call for verification. But such verification would be
superfluous to those on whose account it was called for, since they
facilitate the inquiry for themselves by declaring the narratives,
infinitely numerous though they be, and accredited by the education and
character of the witnesses, to be mere deception and imposture. Their _a
priori_ conceptions are so rooted that no testimony can avail against
them, and they have even denied what they have seen with their own eyes,'
and reported under their own hands, like Sir David Brewster. Hegel, it
will be observed, takes the facts as given, and works them into his
general theory of the Sensitive Soul (_fuehlende Seele_). He does not try
to establish the facts; but to establish, or at least to examine them, is
the first business of Psychical Research. Theorising comes later.

The years which have passed between the date of Hegel's 'Philosophy of
Mind' and our own time have witnessed the long dispute over the existence,
the nature, and the causes of the hypnotic condition, and over the reality
and limitations of the phenomena. Thus the Academy of Medicine in Paris
appointed a Committee to examine the subject in 1825. The Report on
'Animal Magnetism,' as it was then styled, was presented in 1831. The
Academy lacked the courage to publish it, for the Report was favourable
even to certain of the still disputed phenomena. At that time, in
accordance with a survival of the theory of Mesmer, the agent in hypnotic
cases was believed to be a kind of efflux of a cosmic fluid from the
'magnetiser' to the patient. There was 'a magnetic connection.'

Though no distinction between mesmerism and hypnotism is taken in popular
language, 'mesmerism' is a word implying this theory of 'magnetic' or
other unknown personal influence. 'Hypnotism,' as will presently be seen,
implies no such theory. The Academy's Report (1831) attested the
development, under 'magnetism,' of 'new faculties,' such as clairvoyance
and intuition, also the production of 'great changes in the physical
economy,' such as insensibility, and sudden increase of strength. The
Report declared it to be 'demonstrated' that sleep could be produced
'without suggestion,' as we say now, though the term was not then in use.
'Sleep has been produced in circumstances in which the persons could not
see or were ignorant of the means employed to produce it.'

The Academy did its best to suppress this Report, which attests the
phenomena that Hegel accepted, phenomena still disputed. Six years later
(1837), a Committee reported against the pretensions of a certain Berna,
a 'magnetiser.' No person acted on both Committees, and this Report was
accepted. Later, a number of people tried to read a letter in a box, and
failed. 'This,' says Mr. Vincent, 'settled the question with regard to
clairvoyance;' though it might be more logical to say that it settled the
pretensions of the competitors on that occasion. The Academy now decided
that, because certain persons did not satisfy the expectations raised by
their preliminary advertisements, therefore the question of magnetism was
definitely closed.

We have often to regret that scientific eminence is not always accompanied
by scientific logic. Where science neglects a subject, charlatans and
dupes take it up. In England 'animal magnetism' had been abandoned to this
class of enthusiasts, till Thackeray's friend, Dr. Elliotson, devoted
himself to the topic. He was persecuted as doctors know how to persecute;
but in 1841, Braid, of Manchester, discovered that the so-called 'magnetic
sleep' could be produced without any 'magnetism,' He made his patients
stare fixedly at an object, and encouraged them to expect to go to sleep.
He called his method 'Hypnotism,' a term which begs no question. Seeming
to cease to be mysterious, hypnotism became all but respectable, and was
being used in surgical operations, till it was superseded by chloroform.
In England, the study has been, and remains, rather _suspect_, while on
The Continent hypnotism is used both for healing purposes and in the
inquiries of experimental psychology. Wide differences of opinion still
exist, as to the nature of the hypnotic sleep, as to its physiological
concomitants, and as to the limits of the faculties exorcised in or out of
the slumber. It is not even absolutely certain that the exercise of the
stranger faculties--for instance, that the production of anaesthesia and
rigidity--are the results merely of 'suggestion' and expectancy. A
hypnotised patient is told that the middle finger of his left hand will
become rigid and incapable of sensation. This occurs, and is explained by
'suggestion,' though _how_ 'suggestion' produces the astonishing effect
is another problem. The late Mr. Gurney, however, made a number of
experiments in which no suggestion was pronounced, nor did the patients
know which of their fingers was to become rigid and incapable of pain. The
patient's hands were thrust through a screen; on the other side of which
the hypnotist made passes above the finger which was to become rigid. The
lookers--on selected the finger, and the insensibility was tested by a
strong electric current. The effect was also produced _without_ passes,
the operator merely pointing at the selected finger, and 'willing' the
result. If he did not 'will' it, nothing occurred, nor did anything occur
if he willed without pointing. The proximity of the operator's hand
produced no effect if he did not 'will,' nor was his 'willing' successful
if he did not bring his hand near that of the patient. Other people's
hands, similarly situated, produced no effect.

Experiments in transferring taste, as of salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, from
operator to subject, were also successful. Drs. Janet and Gibert also
produced sleep in a woman at a distance, by 'willing' it, at hours which
were selected by a system of drawing lots.[17] These facts, of course,
rather point to an element of truth in the old mesmeric hypothesis of some
specific influence in the operator. They cannot very well be explained by
suggestion and expectancy. But these facts and facts of clairvoyance and
thought-transference will be rejected as superstitious delusions by people
who have not met them in their own experience. This need not prevent us
from examining them, because _all_ the facts, including those now
universally accepted by Continental and scarcely impeached by British
science, have been noisily rejected again and again on Hume's principles.

The rarer facts, as Mr. Gurney remarks, 'still go through the hollow form
of taking place.' Here is an example of the mode in which these phenomena
are treated by popular science. Mr. Vincent says that 'clairvoyance and
phrenology were Elliotson's constant stock in trade.' (Phrenology was
also Braid's stock in trade.) 'It is a matter of congratulation to have
been so soon delivered from what Dr. Lloyd Tuckey has well called "a mass
of superincumbent rubbish."'[18] Clairvoyance is part of a mass of
rubbish, on page 57. On page 67, Mr. Vincent says: 'There are many
interesting questions, such as telepathy, thought-reading, clairvoyance,
upon which it would be perhaps rash to give any decided opinion.... All
these strange psychical conditions present problems of great interest,'
and are only omitted because 'they have not a sufficient bearing on the
normal states of hypnosis....' Thus what was 'rubbish' in one page
'presents problems of great interest' ten pages later, and, after offering
a decided opinion that clairvoyance is rubbish, Mr. Vincent thinks it rash
to give any decided opinion. It is rather rash to give a decided opinion,
and then to say that it is rash to do so.[19]

This brief sketch shows that science is confronted by certain facts,
which, in his time, Hume dismissed as incredible miracles, beneath the
contempt of the wise and learned. We also see that the stranger and rarer
phenomena which Hegel accepted as facts, and interwove with his general
philosophy, are still matters of dispute. Admitted by some men of science,
they are doubted by others; by others, again, are denied, while most of
the journalists and authors of cheap primers, who inspire popular
tradition, regard the phenomena as frauds or fables of superstition. But
it is plain that these phenomena, like the more ordinary facts of
hypnotism, _may_ finally be admitted by science. The scientific world
laughed, not so long ago, at Ogham inscriptions, meteorites, and at
palaeolithic weapons as impostures, or freaks of nature. Now nobody has
any doubt on these matters, and clairvoyance, thought-transference, and
telepathy may, not inconceivably, be as fortunate in the long run as
meteorites, or as the more usual phenomena of hypnotism.

It is only Lord Kelvin who now maintains, or lately maintained, that in
hypnotism there is nothing at all but fraud and malobservation. In years
to come it may be that only some similar belated voice will cry that in
thought-transference there is nothing but malobservation and fraud. At
present the serious attention and careful experiment needed for the
establishment of the facts are more common among French than among English
men of science. When published, these experiments, if they contain any
affirmative instances, are denounced as 'superstitious,' or criticized
after what we must charitably deem to be a very hasty glance, by the
guides of popular opinion. Examples of this method will be later quoted.
Meanwhile the disputes as to these alleged facts are noticed here, because
of their supposed relation to the Origin of Religion.

[Footnote 1: See Mr. Myers's paper on the 'Ancient Oracles,' in _Classical
Essays_, and the author's 'Ancient Spiritualism,' in _Cock Lane and Common

[Footnote 2: The italics here are those of Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace, in
his _Miracles and Modern Science_. Mr. Huxley, in his exposure of Hume's
fallacies (in his Life of Hume), did not examine the Jansenist 'miracles'
which Hume was criticising.]

[Footnote 3: Moll, _Hypnotism_, p. 357.]

[Footnote 4: _Animal Magnetism_, p. 355.]

[Footnote 5: A translation of his work was published in the _New Review_,
January 1693.]

[Footnote 6: _La Verite des Miracles_, Cologne, 1747, Septiemo

[Footnote 7: See Dr. Russell Reynolds's paper in _British Medical
Journal_, November 1869.]

[Footnote 8: James, _Principles of Psychology_, ii. 612. Charcot,
op. cit.]

[Footnote 9: I do not need to be told that Dr. Maudsley denied the fact in
1886. I am prepared with the evidence, if it is asked for by some savant
who happens not to know it.]

[Footnote 10: I am not responsible, of course, for the scientific validity
of Dr. Charcot's theory of healing 'by idea.' My point merely is that
certain experts of no slight experience or mean reputation do now admit,
as important certainties within their personal knowledge, exactly the
phenomena which Hume asks the wise and learned to laugh at, indeed, but
never to investigate.]

[Footnote 11: Pp. 353-356.]

[Footnote 12: P. 93.]

[Footnote 13: _Traeume_, p. 76.]

[Footnote 14: Hegel accepts the clairvoyance of the Pucelle.]

[Footnote 15: See Dr. Dessoir, in _Das Doppel Ich,_ as quoted by Mr.
Myers, _Proceedings_, vol. vi. 213.]

[Footnote 16: _Philosophie des Geistes, Werke,_ vol. vii. 179. Berlin.
1845. The examples and much of the philosophising are in the _Zusaetze_,
not translated in Mr. Wallace's version, Oxford, 1894.]

[Footnote 17: _Proceedings_, S.P.R., vol. ii. pp. 201-207, 390-392.]

[Footnote 18: _Elements of Hypnotism_, p. 67.]

[Footnote 19: Possibly Mr. Vincent only means that Elliotson's
experiments, 'little more than sober footing' (p. 57), with the sisters
Okey, were rubbish. But whether the sisters Okey were or were not honest
is a question on which we cannot enter here.]



Among the various forms of science which are reaching and affecting the
new popular tradition, we have reckoned Anthropology. Pleasantly enough,
Anthropology has herself but recently emerged from that limbo of
The unrecognised in which Psychical Research is pining. The British
Association used to reject anthropological papers as 'vain dreams based on
travellers' tales.' No doubt the British Association would reject a paper
on clairvoyance as a vain dream based on old wives' fables, or on
hysterical imposture. Undeniably the study of such themes is hampered by
fable and fraud, just as anthropology has to be ceaselessly on its guard
against 'travellers' tales,' against European misunderstandings of savage
ideas, and against civilised notions and scientific theories unconsciously
read into barbaric customs, rites, traditions, and usages. Man, _ondoyant
et divers_, is the subject alike of anthropology and of psychical
research. Man (especially savage man) cannot be secluded from disturbing
influences, and watched, like the materials of a chemical experiment in a
laboratory. Nor can man be caught in a 'primitive' state: his intellectual
beginnings lie very far behind the stage of culture in which we find the
lowest known races. Consequently the matter on which anthropology works is
fluctuating; the evidence on which it rests needs the most sceptical
criticism, and many of its conclusions, in the necessary absence of
historical testimony as to times far behind the lowest known savages, must
be hypothetical.

For these sound reasons official science long looked askance on
Anthropology. Her followers were not regarded as genuine scholars, and,
perhaps as a result of this contempt, they were often 'broken men,'
intellectual outlaws, people of one wild idea. To the scientific mind,
anthropologists or ethnologists were a horde who darkly muttered of
serpent worship, phallus worship, Arkite doctrines, and the Ten Lost
Tribes that kept turning up in the most unexpected places. Anthropologists
were said to gloat over dirty rites of dirty savages, and to seek reason
where there was none. The exiled, the outcast, the pariah of Science, is,
indeed, apt to find himself in odd company. Round the camp-fire of
Psychical Research too, in the unofficial, unstaked waste of Science,
hover odd, menacing figures of Esoteric Buddhists, _Satanistes_,
Occultists, Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, and Astrologers, as the
Arkites and Lost Tribesmen haunted the cradle of anthropology.

But there was found at last to be reason in the thing, and method in the
madness. Evolution was in it. The acceptance, after long ridicule, of
palaeolithic weapons as relics of human culture, probably helped to bring
Anthropology within the sacred circle of permitted knowledge. Her topic
was full of illustrations of the doctrine of Mr. Darwin. Modern writers on
the theme had been anticipated by the less systematic students of the
eighteenth century--Goguet, de Brosses, Millar, Fontenelle, Lafitau,
Boulanger, or even Hume and Voltaire. As pioneers these writers answer to
the early mesmerists and magnetists, Puysegur, Amoretti, Ritter,
Elliotson, Mayo, Gregory, in the history of Psychical Research. They
were on the same track, in each case, as Lubbock, Tylor, Spencer,
Bastian, and Frazer, or as Gurney, Richet, Myers, Janet, Dessoir, and Von
Schrenck-Notzing. But the earlier students were less careful of method and

Evidence! that was the stumbling block of anthropology. We still hear, in
the later works of Mr. Max Mueller, the echo of the old complaints.
Anything you please, Mr. Max Mueller says, you may find among your useful
savages, and (in regard to some anthropologists) his criticism is just.
You have but to skim a few books of travel, pencil in hand, and pick out
what suits your case. Suppose, as regards our present theme, your theory
is that savages possess broken lights of the belief in a Supreme Being.
You can find evidence for that. Or suppose you want to show that they have
no religious ideas at all; you can find evidence for that also. Your
testimony is often derived from observers ignorant of the language of the
people whom they talk about, or who are themselves prejudiced by one or
other theory or bias. How can you pretend to raise a science on such
foundations, especially as the savage informants wish to please or to
mystify inquirers, or they answer at random, or deliberately conceal their
most sacred institutions, or have never paid any attention to the subject?

To all these perfectly natural objections Mr. Tylor has replied.[1]
Evidence must be collected, sifted, tested, as in any other branch of
inquiry. A writer, 'of course, is bound to use his best judgment as to
the trustworthiness of all authors he quotes, and, if possible, to obtain
several accounts to certify each point in each locality.' Mr. Tylor then
adduces 'the test of recurrence,' of undesigned coincidence in testimony,
as Millar had already argued in the last century.[2] If a mediaeval
Mahommedan in Tartary, a Jesuit in Brazil, a Wesleyan in Fiji, one may add
a police magistrate in Australia, a Presbyterian in Central Africa, a
trapper in Canada, agree in describing some analogous rite or myth in
these diverse lands and ages, we cannot set down the coincidence to chance
or fraud. 'Now, the most important facts of ethnography are vouched for in
this way.'

We may add that even when the ideas of savages are obscure, we can
Often detect them by analysis of the institutions in which they are

Thus anthropological, like psychical or any other evidence, must be
submitted to conscientious processes of testing and sifting. Contradictory
instances must be hunted for sedulously. Nothing can be less scientific
than to snatch up any traveller's tale which makes for our theory, and to
ignore evidence, perhaps earlier, or later, or better observed, which
makes against it. Yet this, unfortunately, in certain instances (which
will be adduced) has been the occasional error of Mr. Huxley and Mr.
Spencer.[4] Mr. Spencer opens his 'Ecclesiastical Institutions' by the
remark that 'the implication [from the reported absence of the ideas of
belief in persons born deaf and dumb] is that the religious ideas of
civilised men are not innate' (who says they are?), and this implication
Mr. Spencer supports by 'proofs that among various savages religious ideas
do not exist.' 'Sir John Lubbock has given many of these.' But it would be
well to advise the reader to consult Roskoff's confutation of Sir John
Lubbock, and Mr. Tylor's masterly statement.[5] Mr. Spencer cited Sir
Samuel Baker for savages without even 'a ray of superstition' or a trace
of worship. Mr. Tylor, twelve years before Mr. Spencer wrote, had
demolished Sir Samuel Baker's assertion,[6] as regards many tribes, and so
shaken it as regards the Latukas, quoted by Mr. Spencer. The godless
Dinkas have 'a good deity and heaven-dwelling creator,' carefully recorded
years before Sir Samuel's 'rash denial.' We show later that Mr. Spencer,
relying on a single isolated sentence in Brough Smyth, omits all his
essential information about the Australian Supreme Being; while Mr.
Huxley--overlooking the copious and conclusive evidence as to their
ethical religion--charges the Australians with having merely a non-moral
belief in casual spirits. We have also to show that Mr. Huxley, under the
dominance of his theory, and inadvertently, quotes a good authority as
saying the precise reverse of what he really does say.

If the facts not fitting their theories are little observed by authorities
so popular as Mr. Huxley and Mr. Spencer; if _instantiae contradictoriae_
are ignored by them, or left vague; if these things are done in the green
tree, we may easily imagine what shall be done in the dry. But we need not
war with hasty _vulgarisateurs_ and headlong theorists.

Enough has been said to show the position of anthropology as regards
evidence, and to prove that, if he confines his observations to certain
anthropologists, the censures of Mr. Max Mueller are justified. It is
mainly for this reason that the arguments presently to follow are strung
on the thread of Mr. Tylor's truly learned and accurate book, 'Primitive

Though but recently crept forth, _vix aut ne vix quidem_, from the chill
shade of scientific disdain, Anthropology adopts the airs of her elder
sisters among the sciences, and is as severe as they to the Cinderella of
the family, Psychical Research. She must murmur of her fairies among the
cinders of the hearth, while they go forth to the ball, and dance with
provincial mayors at the festivities of the British Association. This is
ungenerous, and unfortunate, as the records of anthropology are rich in
unexamined materials of psychical research. I am unacquainted with any
work devoted by an anthropologist of renown to the hypnotic and kindred
practices of the lower races, except Herr Bastian's very meagre tract,
'Ueber psychische Beobachtungen bei Naturvoelkern.'[7] We possess, none the
less, a mass of scattered information on this topic, the savage side of
psychical phenomena, in works of travel, and in Mr. Tylor's monumental
'Primitive Culture.' Mr. Tylor, however, as we shall see, regards it as a
matter of indifference, or, at least, as a matter beyond the scope of his
essay, to decide whether the parallel supernormal phenomena believed
in by savages, and said to recur in civilisation, are facts of actual
experience, or not.

Now, this question is not otiose. Mr. Tylor, like other anthropologists,
Mr. Huxley, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and their followers and popularisers,
constructs on anthropological grounds, a theory of the Origin of Religion.

That origin anthropology explains as the result of early and fallacious
reasonings on a number of biological and psychological phenomena, both
normal and (as is alleged by savages) supernormal. These reasonings led to
the belief in souls and spirits. Now, first, anthropology has taken for
granted that the Supreme Deities of savages are envisaged by them as
'spirits.' This, paradoxical as the statement may appear, is just what
does not seem to be proved, as we shall show. Next, if the supernormal
phenomena (clairvoyance, thought-transference, phantasms of the dead,
phantasms of the dying, and others) be real matters of experience, the
inferences drawn from them by early savage philosophy may be, in some
degree, erroneous. But the inferences drawn by materialists who reject the
supernormal phenomena will also, perhaps, be, let us say, incomplete.
Religion will have been, in part, developed out of facts, perhaps
Inconsistent with materialism in its present dogmatic form. To put it less
trenchantly, and perhaps more accurately, the alleged facts 'are not
merely dramatically strange, they are not merely extraordinary and
striking, but they are "odd" in the sense that they will not easily fit in
with the views which physicists and men of science generally give us of
the universe in which we live' (Mr. A.J. Balfour, President's Address,
'Proceedings,' S.P.R. vol. x. p. 8, 1894).

As this is the case, it might seem to be the business of Anthropology, the
Science of Man, to examine, among other things, the evidence for the
actual existence of those alleged unusual and supernormal phenomena,
belief in which is given as one of the origins of religion.

To make this examination, in the ethnographic field, is almost a new
labour. As we shall see, anthropologists have not hitherto investigated
such things as the 'Fire-walk' of savages, uninjured in the flames, like

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