the Three Holy Children. The world-wide savage practice of divining by hallucinations induced through gazing into a smooth deep (crystal-gazing) has been studied, I think, by no anthropologist. The veracity of ‘messages’ uttered by savage seers when (as they suppose) ‘possessed’ or ‘inspired’ has not been criticised, and probably cannot be, for lack of detailed information. The ‘physical phenomena’ which answer among savages to the use of the ‘divining rod,’ and to ‘spiritist’ marvels in modern times, have only been glanced at. In short, all the savage parallels to the so-called ‘psychical phenomena’ now under discussion in England, America, Germany, Italy, and France, have escaped critical analysis and Comparison with their civilised counterparts.
An exception among anthropologists is Mr. Tylor. He has not suppressed the existence of these barbaric parallels to our modern problems of this kind. But his interest in them practically ends when he has shown that the phenomena helped to originate the savage belief in ‘spirits,’ and when he has displayed the ‘survival’ of that belief in later culture. He does not ask ‘Are the phenomena real?’ he is concerned only with the savage philosophy of the phenomena and with its relics in modern spiritism and religion. My purpose is to do, by way only of _ebauche_, what neither anthropology nor psychical research nor psychology has done: to put the savage and modern phenomena side by side. Such evidence as we can give for the actuality of the modern experiences will, so far as it goes, raise a presumption that the savage beliefs, however erroneous, however darkened by fraud and fancy, repose on a basis of real observation of actual phenomena.
Anthropology is concerned with man and what is in man–_humani nihil a se alienum putat_. These researches, therefore, are within the anthropological province, especially as they bear on the prevalent anthropological theory of the Origin of Religion. By ‘religion’ we mean, for the purpose of this argument, the belief in the existence of an Intelligence, or Intelligences not human, and not dependent on a material mechanism of brain and nerves, which may, or may not, powerfully control men’s fortunes and the nature of things. We also mean the additional belief that there is, in man, an element so far kindred to these Intelligences that it can transcend the knowledge obtained through the known bodily senses, and may possibly survive the death of the body. These two beliefs at present (though not necessarily in their origin) appear chiefly as the faith in God and in the Immortality of the Soul.
It is important, then, to trace, if possible, the origin of these two beliefs. If they arose in actual communion with Deity (as the first at least did, in the theory of the Hebrew Scriptures), or if they could be proved to arise in an unanalysable _sensus numinis_, or even in ‘a perception of the Infinite’ (Max Mueller), religion would have a divine, or at least a necessary source. To the Theist, what is inevitable cannot but be divinely ordained, therefore religion is divinely preordained, therefore, in essentials, though not in accidental details, religion is true. The atheist, or non-theist, of course draws no such inferences.
But if religion, as now understood among men, be the latest evolutionary form of a series of mistakes, fallacies, and illusions, if its germ be a blunder, and its present form only the result of progressive but unessential refinements on that blunder, the inference that religion is untrue–that nothing actual corresponds to its hypothesis–is very easily drawn. The inference is not, perhaps, logical, for all our science itself is the result of progressive refinements upon hypotheses originally erroneous, fashioned to explain facts misconceived. Yet our science is true, within its limits, though very far from being exhaustive of the truth. In the same way, it might be argued, our religion, even granting that it arose out of primitive fallacies and false hypotheses, may yet have been refined, as science has been, through a multitude of causes, into an approximate truth.
Frequently as I am compelled to differ from Mr. Spencer both as to facts and their interpretation, I am happy to find that he has anticipated me here. Opponents will urge, he says, that ‘if the primitive belief’ (in ghosts) ‘was absolutely false, all derived beliefs from it must be absolutely false?’ Mr. Spencer replies: ‘A germ of truth was contained in the primitive conception–the truth, namely, that the power which manifests itself in consciousness is but a differently conditioned form of the power which manifests itself beyond consciousness.’ In fact, we find Mr. Spencer, like Faust as described by Marguerite, saying much the same thing as the priests, but not quite in the same way. Of course, I allow for a much larger ‘germ of truth’ in the origin of the ghost theory than Mr. Spencer does. But we can both say ‘the ultimate form of the religious consciousness is’ (will be?) ‘the final development of a consciousness which at the outset contained a germ of truth obscured by multitudinous errors.'
‘One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.’
Coming at last to Mr. Tylor, we find that he begins by dismissing the idea that any known race of men is devoid of religious conceptions. He disproves, out of their own mouths, the allegations of several writers who have made this exploded assertion about ‘godless tribes.’ He says: ‘The thoughts and principles of modern Christianity are attached to intellectual clues which run back through far prae-Christian ages to the very origin of human civilisation, _perhaps even of human existence_.' So far we abound in Mr. Tylor’s sense. ‘As a minimum definition of religion’ he gives ‘the belief in spiritual beings,’ which appears ‘among all low races with whom we have attained to thoroughly intimate relations.’ The existence of this belief at present does not prove that no races were ever, at any time, destitute of all belief. But it prevents us from positing the existence of such creedless races, in any age, as a demonstrated fact. We have thus, in short, no opportunity of observing, _historically_, man’s development from blank unbelief into even the minimum or most rudimentary form of belief. We can only theorise and make more or less plausible conjectures as to the first rudiments of human faith in God and in spiritual beings. We find no race whose mind, as to faith, is a _tabula rasa_.
To the earliest faith Mr. Tylor gives the name of _Animism_, a term not wholly free from objection, though ‘Spiritualism’ is still less desirable, having been usurped by a form of modern superstitiousness. This Animism, ‘in its full development, includes the belief in souls and in a future state, in controlling deities and subordinate spirits.’ In Mr. Tylor’s opinion, as in Mr. Huxley’s, Animism, in its lower (and earlier) forms, has scarcely any connection with ethics. Its ‘spirits’ do not ‘make for righteousness.’ This is a side issue to be examined later, but we may provisionally observe, in passing, that the ethical ideas, such as they are, even of Australian blacks are reported to be inculcated at the religious mysteries (_Bora_) of the tribes, which were instituted by and are performed in honour of the gods of their native belief. But this topic must be reserved for our closing chapters.
Mr. Tylor, however, is chiefly concerned with Animism as ‘an ancient and world-wide philosophy, of which belief is the theory, and worship is the practice.’ Given Animism, then, or the belief in spiritual beings, as the earliest form and minimum of religious faith, what is the origin of Animism? It will be seen that, by Animism, Mr. Tylor does not mean the alleged early theory, implicitly if not explicitly and consciously held, that all things whatsoever are animated and are personalities. Judging from the behaviour of little children, and from the myths of savages, early man may have half-consciously extended his own sense of personal and potent and animated existence to the whole of nature as known to him. Not only animals, but vegetables and inorganic objects, may have been looked on by him as persons, like what he felt himself to be. The child (perhaps merely because _taught_ to do so) beats the naughty chair, and all objects are persons in early mythology. But this _feeling_, rather than theory, may conceivably have existed among early men, before they developed the hypothesis of ‘spirits,’ ‘ghosts,’ or souls. It is the origin of _that_ hypothesis, ‘Animism,’ which Mr. Tylor investigates.
What, then, is the origin of Animism? It arose in the earliest traceable speculations on ‘two groups of biological problems:
(1) ‘What is it that makes the difference between a living body and a dead one; what causes waking, sleep, trance, disease, and death?’
(2) ‘What are those human shapes which appear in dreams and visions?'
Here it should be noted that Mr. Tylor most properly takes a distinction between sleeping ‘dreams’ and waking ‘visions,’ or ‘clear vision.’ The distinction is made even by the blacks of Australia. Thus one of the Kurnai announced that his _Yambo_, or soul, could ‘go out’ during sleep, and see the distant and the dead. But ‘while any one might be able to communicate with the ghosts, _during sleep_, it was only the wizards who were able to do so in waking hours.’ A wizard, in fact, is a person susceptible (or feigning to be susceptible) when awake to hallucinatory perceptions of phantasms of the dead. ‘Among the Kulin of Wimmera River a man became a wizard who, as a boy, had seen his mother’s ghost sitting at her grave.' These facts prove that a race of savages at the bottom of the scale of culture do take a formal distinction between normal dreams in sleep and waking hallucinations–a thing apt to be denied.
Thus Mr. Herbert Spencer offers the massive generalisation that savages do not possess a language enabling a man to say ‘I dreamed that I saw,’ instead of ‘I saw’ (‘Principles of Sociology,’ p. 150). This could only be proved by giving examples of such highly deficient languages, which Mr. Spencer does not do. In many savage speculations there occur ideas as subtly metaphysical as those of Hegel. Moreover, even the Australian languages have the verb ‘to see,’ and the substantive ‘sleep.’ Nothing, then, prevents a man from saying ‘I saw in sleep’ (_insomnium_, [Greek: enupnion]).
We have shown too, that the Australians take an essential distinction between waking hallucinations (ghosts seen by a man when awake) and the common hallucinations of slumber. Anybody can have these; the man who sees ghosts when awake is marked out for a wizard.
At the same time the vividness of dreams among certain savages, as recorded in Mr. Im Thurn’s ‘Indians of Guiana,’ and the consequent confusion of dreaming and waking experiences, are certain facts. Wilson says the same of some negroes, and Mr. Spencer illustrates from the confusion of mind in dreamy children. They, we know, are much more addicted to somnambulism than grown-up people. I am unaware that spontaneous somnambulism among savages has been studied as it ought to be. I have demonstrated, however, that very low savages can and do draw an essential distinction between sleeping and waking hallucinations.
Again, the crystal-gazer, whose apparently telepathic crystal pictures are discussed later (chap. v.), was introduced to a crystal just because she had previously been known to be susceptible to waking and occasionally veracious hallucinations.
It was not only on the dreams of sleep, so easily forgotten as they are, that the savage pondered, in his early speculations about the life and the soul. He included in his materials the much more striking and memorable experiences of waking hours, as we and Mr. Tylor agree in holding.
Reflecting on these things, the earliest savage reasoners would decide: (1) that man has a ‘life’ (which leaves him temporarily in sleep, finally in death); (2) that man also possesses a ‘phantom’ (which appears to other people in their visions and dreams). The savage philosopher would then ‘combine his information,’ like a celebrated writer on Chinese metaphysics. He would merely ‘combine the life and the phantom,’ as ‘manifestations of one and the same soul.’ The result would be ‘an apparitional soul,’ or ‘ghost-soul.’
This ghost-soul would be a highly accomplished creature, ‘a vapour, film, or shadow,’ yet conscious, capable of leaving the body, mostly invisible and impalpable, ‘yet also manifesting physical power,’ existing and appearing after the death of the body, able to act on the bodies of other men, beasts, and things.
When the earliest reasoners, in an age and in mental conditions of which we know nothing historically, had evolved the hypothesis of this conscious, powerful, separable soul, capable of surviving the death of the body, it was not difficult for them to develop the rest of Religion, as Mr. Tylor thinks. A powerful ghost of a dead man might thrive till, its original owner being long forgotten, it became a God. Again (souls once given) it would not be a very difficult logical leap, perhaps, to conceive of souls, or spirits, that had never been human at all. It is, we may say, only _le premier pas qui coute_, the step to the belief in a surviving separable soul. Nevertheless, when we remember that Mr. Tylor is theorising about savages in the dim background of human evolution, savages whom we know nothing of by experience, savages far behind Australians and Bushmen (who possess Gods), we must admit that he credits them with great ingenuity, and strong powers of abstract reasoning. He may be right in his opinion. In the same way, just as primitive men were keen reasoners, so early bees, more clever than modern bees, may have evolved the system of hexagonal cells, and only an early fish of genius could first have hit on the plan, now hereditary of killing a fly by blowing water at it.
To this theory of metaphysical genius in very low savages I have no objection to offer. We shall find, later, astonishing examples of savage abstract speculation, certainly not derived from missionary sources, because wholly out of the missionary’s line of duty and reflection.
As early beasts had genius, so the earliest reasoners appear to have been as logically gifted as the lowest savages now known to us, or even as some Biblical critics. By Mr. Tylor’s hypothesis, they first conceived the extremely abstract idea of Life, ‘that which makes the difference between a living body and a dead one.' This highly abstract conception must have been, however, the more difficult to early man, as, to him, all things, universally, are ‘animated.' Mr. Tylor illustrates this theory of early man by the little child’s idea that ‘chairs, sticks, and wooden horses are actuated by the same sort of personal will as nurses and children and kittens…. In such matters the savage mind well represents the childish stage.'
Now, nothing can be more certain than that, if children think sticks are animated, they don’t think so because they have heard, or discovered, that they possess souls, and then transfer souls to sticks. We may doubt, then, if primitive man came, in this way, by reasoning on souls, to suppose that all things, universally, were animated. But if he did think all things animated–a corpse, to his mind, was just as much animated as anything else. Did he reason: ‘All things are animated. A corpse is not animated. Therefore a corpse is not a thing (within the meaning of my General Law)’?
How, again, did early man conceive of Life, before he identified Life (1) with ‘that which makes the difference between a living body and a dead one’ (a difference which, _ex hypothesi_, he did not draw, _all_ things being animated to his mind) and (2) with ‘those human shapes which appear in dreams and visions’? ‘The ancient savage philosophers probably reached the obvious inference that every man had two things belonging to him, a life and a phantom.’ But everything was supposed to have ‘a life,’ as far as one makes out, before the idea of separable soul was developed, at least if savages arrived at the theory of universal animation as children are said to do.
We are dealing here quite conjecturally with facts beyond our experience.
In any case, early man excogitated (by the hypothesis) the abstract idea of Life, _before_ he first ‘envisaged’ it in material terms as ‘breath,’ or ‘shadow.’ He next decided that mere breath or shadow was not only identical with the more abstract conception of Life, but could also take on forms as real and full-bodied as, to him, are the hallucinations of dream or waking vision. His reasoning appears to have proceeded from the more abstract (the idea of Life) to the more concrete, to the life first shadowy and vaporous, then clothed in the very aspect of the real man.
Mr. Tylor has thus (whether we follow his logic or not) provided man with a theory of active, intelligent, separable souls, which can survive the death of the body. At this theory early man arrived by speculations on the nature of life, and on the causes of phantasms of the dead or living beheld in ‘dreams and visions.’ But our author by no means leaves out of sight the effects of alleged supernormal phenomena believed in by savages, with their parallels in modern civilisation. These supernormal phenomena, whether real or illusory, are, he conceives, facts in that mass of experiences from which savages constructed their belief in separable, enduring, intelligent souls or ghosts, the foundation of religion.
While we are, perhaps owing to our own want of capacity, puzzled by what seem to be two kinds of early philosophy–(1) a sort of instinctive or unreasoned belief in universal animation, which Mr. Spencer calls ‘Animism’ and does not believe in, (2) the reasoned belief in separable and surviving souls of men (and in things), which Mr. Spencer believes in, and Mr. Tylor calls ‘Animism’–we must also note another difficulty. Mr. Tylor may seem to be taking it for granted that the earliest, remote, unknown thinkers on life and the soul were existing on the same psychical plane as we ourselves, or, at least, as modern savages. Between modern savages and ourselves, in this regard, he takes certain differences, but takes none between modern savages and the remote founders of religion.
Thus Mr. Tylor observes:
‘The condition of the modern ghost-seer, whose imagination passes on such slight excitement into positive hallucination, is rather the rule than the exception among uncultured and intensely imaginative tribes, whose minds may be thrown off their balance by a touch, a word, a gesture, an unaccustomed noise.'
I find evidence that low contemporary savages are _not_ great ghost-seers, and, again, I cannot quite accept Mr. Tylor’s psychology of the ‘modern ghost-seer.’ Most such favoured persons whom I have known were steady, unimaginative, unexcitable people, with just one odd experience. Lord Tennyson, too, after sleeping in the bed of his recently lost father on purpose to see his ghost, decided that ghosts ‘are not seen by imaginative people.’
We now examine, at greater length, the psychical conditions in which, according to Mr. Tylor, contemporary savages differ from civilised men. Later we shall ask what may be said as to possible or presumable psychical differences between modern savages and the datelessly distant founders of the belief in souls. Mr. Tylor attributes to the lower races, and even to races high above their level, ‘morbid ecstasy, brought on by meditation, fasting, narcotics, excitement, or disease.’ Now, we may still ‘meditate’–and how far the result is ‘morbid’ is a matter for psychologists and pathologists to determine. Fasting we do not practise voluntarily, nor would we easily accept evidence from an Englishman as to the veracity of voluntary fasting visions, like those of Cotton Mather. The visions of disease we should set aside, as a rule, with those of ‘excitement,’ produced, for instance, by ‘devil-dances.’ Narcotic and alcoholic visions are not in question. For our purpose the _induced_ trances of savages (in whatever way voluntarily brought on) are analogous to the modern induced hypnotic trance. Any supernormal acquisitions of knowledge in these induced conditions, among savages, would be on a par with similar alleged experiences of persons under hypnotism.
We do not differ from known savages in being able to bring on non-normal psychological conditions, but we produce these, as a rule, by other methods than theirs, and such experiments are not made on _all_ of us, as they were on all Red Indian boys and girls in the ‘medicine-fast,’ at the age of puberty.
Further, in their normal state, known savages, or some of them, are more ‘suggestible’ than educated Europeans at least. They can be more easily hallucinated in their normal waking state by suggestion. Once more, their intervals of hunger, followed by gorges of food, and their lack of artificial light, combine to make savages more apt to see what is not there than are comfortable educated white men. But Mr. Tylor goes too far when he says ‘where the savage could see phantasms, the civilised man has come to amuse himself with fancies.' The civilised man, beyond all doubt, is capable of being _enfantosme_.
In all that he says on this point, the point of psychical condition, Mr. Tylor is writing about known savages as they differ from ourselves. But the savages who _ex hypothesi_ evolved the doctrine of souls lie beyond our ken, for behind the modern savages, among whom we find belief not only in souls and ghosts, but in moral gods. About the psychical condition of the savages who worked out the theory of souls and founded religion we necessarily know nothing. If there be such experiences as clairvoyance, telepathy, and so on, these unknown ancestors of ours may (for all that we can tell) have been peculiarly open to them, and therefore peculiarly apt to believe in separable souls. In fact, when we write about these far-off founders of religion, we guess in the dark, or by the flickering light of analogy. The lower animals have faculties (as in their power of finding their way home through new unknown regions, and in the ants’ modes of acquiring and communicating knowledge to each other) which are mysteries to us. The terror of dogs in ‘haunted houses’ and of horses in passing ‘haunted’ scenes has often been reported, and is alluded to briefly by Mr. Tylor. Balaam’s ass, and the dogs which crouched and whined before Athene, whom Eumaeus could not see, are ‘classical’ instances.
The weakness of the anthropological argument here is, we must repeat, that we know little more about the mental condition and experiences of the early thinkers who developed the doctrine of Souls than we know about the mental condition and experiences of the lower animals. And the more firmly a philosopher believes in the Darwinian hypothesis, the less, he must admit, can he suppose himself to know about the twilight ages, between the lower animal and the fully evolved man. What kind of creature was man when he first conceived the germs, or received the light, of Religion? All is guess-work here! We may just allude to Hegel’s theory that clairvoyance and hypnotic phenomena are produced in a kind of temporary _atavism_, or ‘throwing hack’ to a remotely ancient condition of the ‘sensitive soul’ (_fueklende Seele_). The ‘sensitive’ [unconditioned, clairvoyant] faculty or ‘soul’ is ‘a disease when it becomes a state of the self-conscious, educated, self-possessed human being of civilisation.' ‘Second sight,’ Hegel thinks, was a product of an earlier day and earlier mental condition than ours.
Approaching this almost untouched subject–the early psychical condition of man–not from the side of metaphysical speculations like Hegel, but with the instruments of modern psychology and physiology, Dr. Max Dessoir, of Berlin, following, indeed, M. Taine, has arrived, as we saw, at somewhat similar conclusions. ‘This fully conscious life of the spirit,’ in which we moderns now live, ‘seems to rest upon a substratum of reflex action of a hallucinatory type.’ Our actual modern condition is _not_ ‘fundamental,’ and ‘hallucination represents, at least in its nascent condition, the main trunk of our psychical existence.'
Now, suppose that the remote and unknown ancestors of ours who first developed the doctrine of souls had not yet spread far from ‘the main trunk of our psychical existence,’ far from constant hallucination. In that case (at least, according to Dr. Dessoir’s theory) their psychical experiences would be such as we cannot estimate, yet cannot leave, as a possibility influencing religion, out of our calculations.
If early men were ever in a condition in which telepathy and clairvoyance (granting their possibility) were prevalent, one might expect that faculties so useful would be developed in the struggle for existence. That they are deliberately cultivated by modern savages we know. The Indian foster-mother of John Tanner used, when food was needed, to suggest herself into an hypnotic condition, so that she became _clairvoyante_ as to the whereabouts of game. Tanner, an English boy, caught early by the Indians, was sceptical, but came to practise the same art, not unsuccessfully, himself. His reminiscences, which he dictated on his return to civilisation, were certainly not feigned in the interests of any theories. But the most telepathic human stocks, it may be said, ought, _ceteris paribus_, to have been the most successful in the struggle for existence. We may infer that the _cetera_ were not _paria_, the clairvoyant state not being precisely the best for the practical business of life. But really we know nothing of the psychical state of the earliest men. They may have had experiences tending towards a belief in ‘spirits,’ of which we can tell nothing. We are obliged to guess, in considerable ignorance of the actual conditions, and this historical ignorance inevitably besets all anthropological speculation about the origin of religion.
The knowledge of our nescience as to the psychical condition of our first thinking ancestors may suggest hesitation as to taking it for granted that early man was on our own or on the modern savage level in ‘psychical’ experience. Even savage races, as Mr. Tylor justly says, attribute superior psychical knowledge to neighbouring tribes on a yet lower level of culture than themselves. The Finn esteems the Lapp sorcerers above his own; the Lapp yields to the superior pretensions of the Samoyeds. There may be more ways than one of explaining this relative humility: there is Hegel’s way and there is Mr. Tylor’s way. We cannot be certain, _a priori_, that the earliest man knew no more of supernormal or apparently supernormal experiences than we commonly do, or that these did not influence his thoughts on animism.
It is an example of the chameleon-like changes of science (even of ‘science falsely so called’ if you please) that when he wrote his book, in 1871, Mr. Tylor could not possibly have anticipated this line of argument.
‘Psychical planes’ had not been invented; hypnotism, with its problems, had not been much noticed in England. But ‘Spiritualism’ was flourishing. Mr. Tylor did not ignore this revival of savage philosophy. He saw very well that the end of the century was beholding the partial rehabilitation of beliefs which were scouted from 1660 to 1850. Seventy years ago, as Mr. Tylor says, Dr. Macculloch, in his ‘Description of the Western Islands of Scotland,’ wrote of ‘the famous Highland second sight’ that ‘ceasing to be believed it has ceased to exist.'
Dr. Macculloch was mistaken in his facts. ‘Second sight’ has never Ceased to exist (or to be believed to exist), and it has recently been investigated in the ‘Journal’ of the Caledonian Medical Society. Mr. Tylor himself says that it has been ‘reinstated in a far larger range of society, and under far better circumstances of learning and prosperity.’ This fact he ascribes generally to ‘a direct revival from the regions of savage philosophy and peasant folklore,’ a revival brought about in great part by the writings of Swedenborg. To-day things have altered. The students now interested in this whole class of alleged supernormal phenomena are seldom believers in the philosophy of Spiritualism in the American sense of the word.
Mr. Tylor, as we have seen, attributes the revival of interest in this obscure class of subjects to the influence of Swedenborg. It is true, as has been shown, that Swedenborg attracted the attention of Kant. But modern interest has chiefly been aroused and kept alive by the phenomena of hypnotism. The interest is now, among educated students, really scientific.
Thus Mr. William James, Professor of Psychology in the University of Harvard, writes:
‘I was attracted to this subject (Psychical Research) some years ago by my love of fair play in Science.'
Mr. Tylor is not incapable of appreciating this attitude. Even the so-called ‘spirit manifestations,’ he says, ‘should be discussed on their merits,’ and the investigation ‘would seem apt to throw light on some most interesting psychological questions.’ Nothing can be more remote from the logic of Hume.
The ideas of Mr. Tylor on the causes of the origin of religion are Now criticised, not from the point of view of spiritualism, but of experimental psychology. We hold that very probably there exist human faculties of unknown scope; that these conceivably were more powerful and prevalent among our very remote ancestors who founded religion; that they may still exist in savage as in civilised races, and that they may have confirmed, if they did not originate, the doctrine of separable souls. If they _do_ exist, the circumstance is important, in view of the fact that modern ideas rest on a denial of their existence.
Mr. Tylor next examines the savage and other _names_ for the ghost-soul, such as shadow (_umbra_), breath (_spiritus_), and he gives cases in which the _shadow_ of a man is regarded as equivalent to his _life_. Of course, the shadow in the sunlight does not resemble the phantasm in a dream. The two, however, were combined and identified by early thinkers, while _breath_ and _heart_ were used as symbols of ‘that in men which makes them live,’ a phrase found among the natives of Nicaragua in 1528. The confessedly symbolical character of the phrase, ‘it is _not_ precisely the heart, but that in them which makes them live,’ proves that to the speaker life was _not_ ‘heart’ or ‘breath,’ but that these terms were known to be material word-counters for the conception of life. Whether the earliest thinkers identified heart, breath, shadow, with life, or whether they consciously used words of material origin to denote an immaterial conception, of course we do not know. But the word in the latter case would react on the thought, till the Roman inhaled (as his life?) the last breath of his dying kinsman, he well knowing that the Manes of the said kinsman were elsewhere, and not to be inhaled.
Subdivisions and distinctions were then recognised, as of the Egyptian _Ka_, the ‘double,’ the Karen _kelah_, or ‘personal life-phantom’ (_wraith_), on one side, and the Karen _thah_, ‘the responsible moral soul,’ on the other. The Roman _umbra_ hovers about the grave, the _manes_ go to Orcus, the _spiritus_ seeks the stars.
We are next presented with a crowd of cases in which sickness or lethargy is ascribed by savages to the absence of the patient’s spirit, or of one of his spirits. This idea of migratory spirit is next used by savages to explain certain proceedings of the sorcerer, priest, or seer. His soul, or one of his souls is thought to go forth to distant places in quest of information, while the seer, perhaps, remains lethargic. Probably, in the struggle for existence, he lost more by being lethargic than he gained by being clairvoyant!
Now, here we touch the first point in Mr. Tylor’s theory, where a critic may ask, Was this belief in the wandering abroad of the seer’s spirit a theory not only false in its form (as probably it is), but also wholly unbased on experiences which might raise a presumption in favour of the existence of phenomena really supernormal? By ‘supernormal’ experiences I here mean such as the acquisition by a human mind of knowledge which could not be obtained by it through the recognised channels of sensation. Say, for the sake of argument, that a person, savage or civilised, obtains in trance information about distant places or events, to him unknown, and, through channels of sense, unknowable. The savage will explain this by saying that the seer’s soul, shadow, or spirit, wandered out of the body to the distant scene. This is, at present, an unverified theory. But still, for the sake of argument, suppose that the seer did honestly obtain this information in trance, lethargy, or hypnotic sleep, or any other condition. If so, the modern savage (or his more gifted ancestors) would have other grounds for his theory of the wandering soul than any ground presented by normal occurrences, ordinary dreams, shadows, and so forth. Again, in human nature there would be (if such things occur) a potentiality of experiences other and stranger than materialism will admit as possible. It will (granting the facts) be impossible to aver that there is _nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu_. The soul will be not _ce qu’un vain peuple pense_ under the new popular tradition, and the savage’s theory of the spirit will be, at least in part, based on other than normal and every-day facts. That condition in which the seer acquires information, not otherwise accessible, about events remote in space, is what the mesmerists of the mid-century called ‘travelling clairvoyance.’
If such an experience be _in rerum natura_, it will not, of course, justify the savage’s theory that the soul is a separable entity, capable of voyaging, and also capable of existing after the death of the body. But it will give the savage a better excuse for his theory than normal experiences provide; and will even raise a presumption that reflection on mere ordinary experiences–death, shadow, trance–is not the sole origin of his theory. For a savage so acute as Mr. Tylor’s hypothetical early reasoner might decline to believe that his own or a friend’s soul had been absent on an expedition, unless it brought back information not normally to be acquired. However, we cannot reason, _a priori_, as to how far the logic of a savage might or might not go on occasion.
In any case, a scientific reasoner might be expected to ask: ‘Is this alleged acquisition of knowledge, _not_ through the ordinary channels of sense, a thing _in rerum natura_?’ Because, if it is, we must obviously increase our list of the savage’s reasons for believing in a soul: we must make his reasons include ‘psychical’ experiences, and there must be an X region to investigate.
These considerations did not fail to present themselves to Mr. Tylor. But his manner of dealing with them is peculiar. With his unequalled knowledge of the lower races, it was easy for him to examine travellers’ tales about savage seers who beheld distant events in vision, and to allow them what weight he thought proper, after discounting possibilities of falsehood and collusion. He might then have examined modern narratives of similar performances among the civilised, which are abundant. It is obvious and undeniable that if the supernormal acquisition of knowledge in trance is a _vera causa_, a real process, however rare, Mr. Tylor’s theory needs modifications; while the character of the savage’s reasoning becomes more creditable to the savage, and appears as better bottomed than we had been asked to suppose. But Mr. Tylor does not examine this large body of evidence at all, or, at least, does not offer us the details of his examination. He merely writes in this place:
‘A typical spiritualistic instance may be quoted from Jung-Stilling, who says that examples have come to his knowledge of sick persons who, longing to see absent friends, have fallen into a swoon, during which they have appeared to the distant objects of their affection.'
Jung-Stilling (though he wrote before modern ‘Spiritualism’ came in) is not a very valid authority; there is plenty of better evidence than his, but Mr. Tylor passes it by, merely remarking that ‘modern Europe has kept closely enough to the lines of early philosophy.’ Modern Europe has indeed done so, if it explains the supernormal acquisition of knowledge, or the hallucinatory appearance of a distant person to his friend by a theory of wandering ‘spirits.’ But facts do not cease to be facts because wrong interpretations have been put upon them by savages, by Jung-Stilling, or by anyone else. The real question is, Do such events occur among lower and higher races, beyond explanation by fraud and fortuitous coincidence? We gladly grant that the belief in Animism, when it takes the form of a theory of ‘wandering spirits,’ is probably untenable, as it is assuredly of savage origin. But we are not absolutely so sure that in this aspect the theory is not based on actual experiences, not of a normal and ordinary kind. If so, the savage philosophy and its supposed survivals in belief will appear in a new light. And we are inclined to hold that an examination of the mass of evidence to which Mr. Tylor offers here so slight an allusion will at least make it wise to suspend our judgment, not only as to the origins of the savage theory of spirits, but as to the materialistic hypothesis of the absence of a psychical element in man.
I may seem to have outrun already the limits of permissible hypothesis. It may appear absurd to surmise that there can exist in man, savage or civilised, a faculty for acquiring information not accessible by the known channels of sense, a faculty attributed by savage philosophers to the wandering soul. But one may be permitted to quote the opinion of M. Charles Richet, Professor of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine In Paris. It is not cited because M. Richet is a professor of physiology, but because he reached his conclusion after six years of minute experiment. He says: ‘There exists in certain persons, at certain moments, a faculty of acquiring knowledge which has no _rapport_ with our normal faculties of that kind.'
Instances tending to raise a presumption in favour of M. Richet’s idea may now be sought in savage and civilised life.
[Footnote 1: _Primitive Culture,_ i. 9, 10.]
[Footnote 2: _Origin of Ranks._]
[Footnote 3: I may be permitted to refer to ‘Reply to Objections’ in the appendix to my _Myth, Ritual, and Religion,_ vol. ii.]
[Footnote 4: Spencer, _Ecclesiastical Institutions_, pp. 672, 673.]
[Footnote 5: _Primitive Culture_, i. 417-425. Cf. however _Princip. Of Sociol._, p. 304.]
[Footnote 6: Op. cit. i. 423, 424.]
[Footnote 7: Published for the Berlin Society of Experimental Psychology, Guenther, Leipzig, 1890.]
[Footnote 8: _Ecclesiastical Institutions_, 837-839.]
[Footnote 9: _Primitive Culture_, i. 421, chapter xi.]
[Footnote 10: This theory is what Mr. Spencer calls ‘Animism,’ and does not believe in. What Mr. Tylor calls ‘Animism’ Mr. Spencer believes in, but he calls it the ‘Ghost Theory.’]
[Footnote 11: _Primitive Culture_, i. 428.]
[Footnote 12: Howitt, _Journal of Anthropological Institute_, xiii. 191-195.]
[Footnote 13: The curious may consult, for savage words for ‘dreams,’ Mr. Scott’s _Dictionary of the Mang’anja Language_, s.v. ‘Lots,’ or any glossary of any savage language.]
[Footnote 14: _Prim. Cult._ i. 429.]
[Footnote 15: _Prim. Cult._ i. 428.]
[Footnote 16: Ibid. i. 285.]
[Footnote 17: Ibid. i. 285, 286.]
[Footnote 18: _Primitive Culture_, i. 446.]
[Footnote 19: See, however, Dr. Von Schrenck-Notzing, _Die Beobachtung narcolischer Mittel fuer den Hypnotismus_, and S.P.R. _Proceedings_, x. 292-899.]
[Footnote 20: _Primitive Culture_, i 306-316.]
[Footnote 21: i. 315.]
[Footnote 22: _Phil. des Geistes_, pp. 406, 408.]
[Footnote 23: See also Mr. A.J. Balfour’s Presidential Address to the Society for Psychical Research, _Proceedings_, vol. x. See, too, Taine, _De l’Intelligence_, i. 78, 106, 139.]
[Footnote 24: Tanner’s _Narrative_, New York, 1830.]
[Footnote 25: _Primitive Culture_, i. 143.]
[Footnote 26: As ‘spiritualism’ is often used in opposition to ‘materialism,’ and with no reference to rapping ‘spirits,’ the modern belief in that class of intelligences may here be called spiritism.]
[Footnote 27: _The Will to Believe_, preface, p. xiv.]
[Footnote 28: _Primitive Culture_, i. 432,433. Citing Oviedo, _Hist. De Nicaragua,_ pp. 21-51.]
[Footnote 29: _Primitive Culture_, i. 440. Citing Stilling after Dale Owen, and quoting Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace’s _Scientific Aspect of the Supernatural_, p. 43. Mr. Tylor also adds folk-lore practices of ghost-seeing, as on St. John’s Eve. St. Mark’s Eve, too, is in point, as far as folk-lore goes.]
[Footnote 30: _Proceedings_, S.P.R. v. 167.]
‘OPENING THE GATES OF DISTANCE’
‘To open the Gates of Distance’ is the poetical Zulu phrase for what is called clairvoyance, or _vue a distance_. This, if it exists, is the result of a faculty of undetermined nature, whereby knowledge of remote events may be acquired, not through normal channels of sense. As the Zulus say: ‘_Isiyezi_ is a state in which a man becomes slightly insensible. He is awake, but still sees things which he would not see if he were not in a state of ecstasy (_nasiyesi_).' The Zulu description of _isiyezi_ includes what is technically styled ‘dissociation.’ No psychologist or pathologist will deny that visions of an hallucinatory sort may occur in dissociated states, say in the _petit mal_ of epilepsy. The question, however, is whether any such visions convey actual information not otherwise to be acquired, beyond the reach of chance coincidence to explain.
A Scottish example, from the records of a court of law, exactly illustrates the Zulu theory. At the moment when the husband of Jonka Dyneis was in danger six miles from her house in his boat, Jonka ‘was found, and seen standing at her own house wall in a trance, and being taken, she could not give answer, but stood as bereft of her senses, and when she was asked why she was so moved, she answered, “If our boat be not lost, she was in great hazard.”‘ (October 2, 1616.)
The belief in opening the Gates of Distance is, of course, very widely diffused. The gift is attributed to Apollonius of Tyana, to Plotinus, to many Saints, to Catherine de’ Medici, to the Rev. Mr. Peden, and to Jeanne d’Arc, while the faculty is the stock in trade of savage seers in all regions.
The question, however, on which Mr. Tylor does not touch, is, _Are any of the stories true?_ If so, of course they would confirm in the mind of the savage his theory of the wandering soul. Now, to find anything like attested cases of successful clairvoyance among savages is a difficult task. White men either scout the idea, or are afraid of seeming superstitious if they give examples, or, if they do give examples, are accused of having sunk to the degraded level of Zulus or Red Indians. Even where travellers, like Scheffer, have told about their own experiences, the narratives are omitted by modern writers on savage divination. We must therefore make our own researches, and it is to be noted that the stories of successful savage clairvoyance are given as illustrations merely, not as evidence to facts, for we cannot cross-examine the witnesses.
Mr. Tylor dismisses the topic in a manner rather cavalier:
‘Without discussing on their merits the accounts of what is called “second sight,” it may be pointed out that they are related among savage tribes, as when Captain Jonathan Carver obtained from a Cree medicine-man a true prophecy of the arrival of a canoe with news next day at noon; or when Mr. J. Mason Brown, travelling with two _voyageurs_ on the Copper Mine River, was met by Indians of the very band he was seeking, these having been sent by their medicine-man, who, on enquiry, stated that “he saw them coming, and heard them talk on their journey.”‘
Now, in our opinion, the ‘merits’ of stories of second sight need discussion, because they may, if well attested, raise a presumption that the savage’s theory has a better foundation than Mr. Tylor supposes. Oddly enough, though Mr. Tylor does not say so, Dr. Brinton (from whom he borrows his two anecdotes) is more or less of our opinion.
‘There are,’ says Dr. Brinton,’ statements supported by unquestionable testimony, which ought not to be passed over in silence, and yet I cannot but approach them with hesitation. They are so revolting to the laws of exact science, so alien, I had almost said, to the experience of our lives. Yet is this true, or are such experiences only ignored and put aside without serious consideration?’
That is exactly what we complain of; the alleged facts are ‘put aside without serious consideration.’
We, at least, are not slaves to the idea that ‘the laws of exact science’ must be the only laws at work in the world. Science, however exact, does not pretend to have discovered all ‘laws.’
To return to actual examples of the alleged supernormal acquisition of knowledge by savages: Dr. Brinton gives an example from Charlevoix and General Mason Brown’s anecdote. In General Mason Brown’s instance the medicine-man, at a great distance, bade his emissaries ‘seek three whites, whose horses, arms, attire, and personal appearance he minutely described, which description was repeated to General Brown by the warriors _before they saw his two companions.’_ General Brown assured Dr. Brinton of ‘the accuracy of this in every particular.’ Mr. Tylor has certainly not improved the story in his condensed version. Dr. Brinton refers to ‘many’ tales such as these, and some will be found in ‘Among the Zulus,’ by Mr. David Leslie (1875).
Mr. Leslie was a Scottish sportsman, brought up from boyhood in familiarity with the Zulus. His knowledge of their language and customs was minute, and his book, privately printed, contains much interesting matter. He writes:
‘I was obliged to proceed to the Zulu country to meet my Kaffir elephant-hunters, the time for their return having arrived. They were hunting in a very unhealthy country, and I had agreed to wait for them on the North-East border, the nearest point I could go to with safety. I reached the appointed rendezvous, but could not gain the slightest intelligence of my people at the kraal.
‘After waiting some time, and becoming very uneasy about them, one of my servants recommended me to go to the doctor, and at last, out of curiosity and _pour passer le temps_, I did go.
‘I stated what I wanted–information about my hunters–and I was met by a stern refusal. “I cannot tell anything about white men,” said he, “and I know nothing of their ways.” However, after some persuasion and promise of liberal payment, impressing upon him the fact that it was not white men but Kaffirs I wanted to know about, he at last consented, saying “he would _open the Gate of Distance_, and would travel through it, even although his body should lie before me.”
‘His first proceeding was to ask me the number and names of my hunters. To this I demurred, telling him that if he obtained that information from me he might easily substitute some news which he may have heard from others, instead of the “spiritual telegraphic news” which I expected him to get from his “familiar.”
‘To this he answered: “I told you I did not understand white men’s ways; but if I am to do anything for you it must be done in my way-not yours.” On receiving this fillip I felt inclined to give it up, as I thought I might receive some rambling statement with a considerable dash of truth, it being easy for anyone who knew anything of hunting to give a tolerably correct idea of their motions.
‘However, I conceded this point also, and otherwise satisfied him.
‘The doctor then made eight little fires–that being the number of my hunters; on each he cast some roots, which emitted a curious sickly odour and thick smoke; into each he cast a small stone, shouting, as he did so, the name to which the stone was dedicated; then he ate some “medicine,” and fell over in what appeared to be a trance for about ten minutes, during all which time his limbs kept moving. Then he seemed to wake, went to one of the fires, raked the ashes about, looked at the stone attentively, described the man faithfully, and said: “This man has died of the fever, and your gun is lost.”
‘To the next fire as before: “This man” (correctly described) “has killed four elephants,” and then he described the tusks. The next: “This man” (again describing him) “has been killed by an elephant, but your gun is coming home,” and so on through the whole, the men being minutely and correctly described; their success or non-success being equally so. I was told where the survivors were, and what they were doing, and that In three months they would come out, but as they would not expect to find me waiting on them there so long after the time appointed, they would not pass that way.
‘I took a particular note of all this information at the time, and to my utter amazement _it turned out correct in every particular_.
‘It was scarcely within the bounds of possibility that this man could have had ordinary intelligence of the hunters; they were scattered about in a country two hundred miles away.’
Mr. Leslie could discover no explanation, nor was any suggested by friends familiar with the country and the natives whom he consulted. He gives another example, which may be explained by ‘suggestion.’ A parallel case from Central Africa will be found in the ‘Journal of the Anthropological Institute,’ November 1897, p. 320, where ‘private information,’ as usual, would explain the singular facts.
The Zulus themselves lay claim to a kind of clairvoyance which looks like the result of intense visualising power, combined with the awakening of the subconscious memory.
‘There is among black men a something which is divination within them. When anything valuable is lost, they look for it at once; when they cannot find it, each one begins to practise this inner divination, trying to feel where the thing is; for, not being able to see it, he feels internally a pointing, which tells him if he will go down to such a place it is there, and he will find it. At length it says he will find it; at length he sees it, and himself approaching it; before he begins to move from where he is, he sees it very clearly indeed, and there is an end of doubt. That sight is so clear that it is as though it was not an inner sight, but as if he saw the very thing itself, and the place where it is; so he quickly arises and goes to the place. If it is a hidden place he throws himself into it, as though there was something that impelled him to go as swiftly as the wind; and, in fact, he finds the thing, if he has not acted by mere head-guessing. If it has been done by real inner divination, he really sees it. But if it is done by mere head-guessing and knowledge that he has not gone to such a place and such a place, and that therefore it must be in such another place, he generally misses the mark.’
Other Zulu instances will be given under the heads ‘Possession’ and Fetishism.’
To take a Northern people: In his ‘History of the Lapps' Scheffer describes mechanical modes of divination practised by that race, who use a drum and other objects for the purpose. These modes depend on more traditional rules for interpreting the accidental combinations of lots. But a Lapp confessed to Scheffer, with tears, that he could not help seeing visions, as he proved by giving Scheffer a minute relation ‘of whatever particulars had happened to me in my journey to Lapland. And he further complained that he know not how to make use of his eyes, since things altogether distant were presented to them.’ This Lapp was anxious to become a Christian, hence his regret at being a ‘rare and valuable’ example of clairvoyance. Torfaeus also was posed by the clairvoyance of a Samoyed, as was Regnard by a Lapp seer.
The next case is of old date, and, like the other savage examples, is merely given for purposes of illustration.
‘”_Suite des Traditions des Sauvages._”
‘Au Fort de la Riviere de St. Joseph, ce 14 Septembre 1721.
‘”_Des Jongleurs_”– … Vous ayez vu a Paris Madame de Marson, & elle y est encore; voici ce que M. le Marquis de Vaudreuil son Gendre, actuellement notre Gouverneur General, me raconta cet Hyver, & qu’il a scu de cette Dame, qui n’est rien moins qu’un esprit foible. Elle etoit un jour fort inquiette an sujet de M. de Marson, son Mari, lequel commandoit dans un Poste, que nous avions en Accadie; et etoit absent, & le tems qu’il avoit marque pour son retour, etoit passe.
‘Une Femme Sauvage, qui vit Madame de Marson en peine, lui en demanda la cause, & l’ayant apprise, lui dit, apres y avoir un peu reve, de ne plus se chagriner, que son Epoux reviendroit tel jour et a telle heure, qu’elle lui marqua, avec un chapeau gris sur la tete. Comme elle s’appercut que la Dame n’ajoutoit point foi a sa prediction, au jour & a l’heure, qu’elle avoit assignee, elle rotourna chez elle, lui demanda si elle ne vouloit pas venir voir arriver son Mari, & la pressa de telle sorte de la suivre, qu’elle l’entraina au bord de la Riviere.
A peine y etoient-elles arrivees, que M. de Marson parut dans un Canot, un chapeau gris sur la tete; & ayant appris ce qui s’etoit passe, assura qu’il ne pouvoit pas comprendre comment la Sauvagesse avoit pu scavoir l’heure & le jour de son arrivee.’
It is unusual for European travellers and missionaries to give anecdotes which might seem to ‘confirm the delusions of benighted savages.’ Such anecdotes, again, are among the _arcana_ of these wild philosophers, and are not readily communicated to strangers. When successful cases are reported, it is natural to assert that they come through Europeans who have sunk into barbarous superstition, or that they may be explained by fraud and collusion. It is certain, however, that savage proficients believe in their own powers, though no less certainly they will eke them out by imposture. Seers are chosen in Zululand, as among Eskimos and Samoyeds, from the class which in Europe supplies the persons who used to be, but are no longer the most favourite hypnotic subjects, ‘abnormal children,’ epileptic and hysterical. These are subjected to ‘a long and methodical course of training.' Stoll, speaking of Guatemala, says that ‘certainly most of the induced and spontaneous phenomena with which we are familiar occur among savages,’ and appeals to travellers for observations. Information is likely to come in, as educated travellers devote attention to the topic.
Dr. Callaway translates some Zulu communications which indicate the Amount of belief in this very practical and sceptical people. Amusing illustrations of their scepticism will be quoted later, under ‘Possession,’ but they do accept as seers certain hysterical patients. These are tested by their skill in finding objects which have been hidden without their knowledge. They then behave much like Mr. Stuart Cumberland, but have not the advantage of muscular contact with the person who knows where the hidden objects are concealed. The neighbours even deny that they have hidden anything at all. ‘When they persist in their denial … he finds all the things that they have hidden. They see that he is a great _inyanga_ (seer) when he has found all the things they have concealed.’ No doubt he is guided, perhaps in a super-sensitive condition, by the unconscious indications of the excited spectators.
The point is that, while the savage conjurer will doubtless use fraud wherever he can, still the experience of low races is in favour of employing as seers the class of people who in Europe were, till recently, supposed to make the best hypnotic subjects. Thus, in West Africa, ‘the presiding elders, during your initiation to the secret society of your tribe, discover this gift [of Ebumtupism, or second sight], and so select you as “a witch doctor.”‘ Among the Karens, the ‘Wees,’ or prophets, ‘are nervous excitable men, such as would become mediums,' as mediums are diagnosed by Mr. Tylor.
In short, not to multiply examples, there is an element of actual observation and of _bona fides_ entangled in the trickery of savage practice. Though the subjects may be selected partly because of the physical phenomena of convulsions which they exhibit, and which favourably impress their clients, they are also such subjects as occasionally yield that evidence of supernormal faculty which is investigated by modern psychologists, like Richet, Janet, and William James.
The following example, by no means unique, shows the view taken by savages of their own magic, after they have become Christians. Catherine Wabose, a converted Red Indian seeress, described her preliminary fast, at the age of puberty. After six days of abstention from food she was rapt away to an unknown place, where a radiant being welcomed her. Later a dark round object promised her the gift of prophecy. She found her natural senses greatly sharpened by lack of food. She first exercised her powers when her kinsfolk in large numbers were starving, a medicine-lodge, or ‘tabernacle’ as Lufitau calls it, was built for her, and she crawled in. As is well known, these lodges are violently shaken during the magician’s stay within them, which the early Jesuits at first attributed to muscular efforts by the seers. In 1637 Pere Lejeune was astonished by the violent motions of a large lodge, tenanted by a small man. One sorcerer, with an appearance of candour, vowed that ‘a great wind entered boisterously,’ and the Father was assured that, if he went in himself, he would become clairvoyant. He did not make the experiment. The Methodist convert, Catherine, gave the same description of her own experience: ‘The lodge began shaking violently by supernatural means. I knew this by the compressed current of air above, and the noise of motion.’ She had been beating a small drum and singing, now she lay quiet. The radiant ‘orbicular’ spirit then informed her that they ‘must go westwards for game; how short-sighted you are!’ ‘The advice was taken and crowned by instant success.’ This established her reputation. Catherine’s conversion was led up to by a dream of her dying son, who beheld a Sacred Figure, and received from Him white raiment. Her magical songs tell how unseen hands shake the magic lodge. They invoke the Great Spirit that
Ah, say what Spirit, or Body, is this Body, That fills the world around,
Speak, man, ah say
What Spirit, or Body, is this Body?’
It is like a savage hymn to Hegel’s _fuehlende Seele_: the all-pervading Sensitive Soul. We are reminded, too, of ‘the doctrine of the Sanscrit Upanishads: There is no limit to the knowing of the Self that knows.'
Unluckily Catherine was not asked to give other examples of what she considered her successes.
Acosta, who has not the best possible repute as an authority, informs us that Peruvian clairvoyants ‘tell what hath passed in the furthest parts before news can come. In the distance of two or three hundred leagues they would tell what the Spaniards did or suffered in their civil wars.’ To Du Pont, in 1606, a sorcerer ‘rendered a true oracle of the coming of Poutrincourt, saying his Devil had told him so.'
We now give a modern case, from a scientific laboratory, of knowledge apparently acquired in no normal way, by a person of the sort usually chosen to be a prophet, or wizard, by savages.
Professor Richet writes:
‘On Monday, July 2,1888, after having passed all the day in my laboratory, I hypnotised Leonie at 8 P.M., and while she tried to make out a diagram concealed in an envelope I said to her quite suddenly: “What has happened to M. Langlois?” Leonie knows M. Langlois from having seen him two or three times some time ago in my physiological laboratory, where he acts as my assistant.–“He has burnt himself,” Leonie replied,–“Good,” I said, “and where has he burnt himself?”–“On the left hand. It is not fire: it is–I don’t know its name. Why does he not take care when he pours it out?”–“Of what colour,” I asked, “is the stuff which he pours out?”–“It is not red, it is brown; he has hurt himself very much–the skin puffed up directly.”
‘Now, this description is admirably exact. At 4 P.M. that day M. Langlois had wished to pour some bromine into a bottle. He had done this clumsily, so that some of the bromine flowed on to his left hand, which held the funnel, and at once burnt him severely. Although he at once put his hand into water, wherever the bromine had touched it a blister was formed in a few seconds–a blister which one could not better describe than by saying, “the skin puffed up.” I need not say that Leonie had not left my house, nor seen anyone from my laboratory. Of this I am _absolutely certain,_ and I am certain that I had not mentioned the incident of the burn to anyone. Moreover, this was the first time for nearly a year that M. Langlois had handled bromine, and when Leonie saw him six months before at the laboratory he was engaged in experiments of quite another kind.’
Here the savage reasoner would infer that Leonie’s spirit had visited M. Langlois. The modern inquirer will probably say that Leonie became aware of what was passing in the mind of M. Richet. This supranormal way of acquiring knowledge was observed in the last century by M. de Puysegur in one of his earliest cases of somnambulism. MM. Binet and Fere say: ‘It is not yet admitted that the subject is able to divine the thoughts of the magnetiser without any material communication;’ while they grant, as a minimum, that ‘research should be continued in this direction.' They appear to think that Leonie may have read ‘involuntary signs’ in the aspect of M. Richet. This is a difficult hypothesis.
Here follows a case recorded in his diary by Mr. Dobbie, of Adelaide, Australia, who has practised hypnotism for curative purposes. He explains (June 10, 1884) that he had mesmerised Miss —- on several occasions to relieve rheumatic pain and sore throat. He found her to be clairvoyant.
‘The following is a verbatim account of the second time I tested her powers in this respect, April 12, 1884. There were four persons present during the _seance_. One of the company wrote down the replies as they were spoken.
‘Her father was at the time over fifty miles away, but we did not know exactly where, so I questioned her as follows: “Can you find your father at the present moment?” At first she replied that she could not see him, but in a minute or two she said, “Oh, yes; now I can see him, Mr. Dobbie.” “Where is he?” “Sitting at a large table in a large room, and there are a lot of people going in and out.” “What is he doing?” “Writing a letter, and there is a book in front of him.” “Whom is he writing to?” “To the newspaper.” Here she paused and laughingly said, “Well, I declare, he is writing to the A B” (naming a newspaper). “You said there was a book there. Can you tell me what book it is?” “It has gilt letters on it.” “Can you read them, or tell me the name of the author?” She read, or pronounced slowly, “W.L.W.” (giving the full surname of the author). She answered several minor questions _re_ the furniture in the room, and I then said to her, “Is it any effort or trouble to you to travel in this way?” “Yes, a little; I have to think.”
‘I now stood behind her, holding a half-crown in my hand, and asked her if she could tell me what I had in my hand, to which she replied, “It is a shilling.” It seemed as though she could see what was happening miles away easier than she could see what was going on in the room.
‘Her father returned home nearly a week afterwards, and was perfectly astounded when told by his wife and family what he had been doing on that particular evening; and, although previous to that date he was a thorough sceptic as to clairvoyance, he frankly admitted that my clairvoyant was perfectly correct in every particular He also informed us that the book referred to was a new one, which he had purchased after he had left his home, so that there was no possibility of his daughter guessing that he had the book before him. I may add that the letter in due course appeared in the paper; and I saw and handled the book.’
A number of cases of so-called ‘clairvoyance’ will be found in the ‘Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.' As the authors of these essays remark, even after discounting, in each case, fraud, malobservation, and misreporting, the residue of cases can seldom justify either the savage theory of the wandering soul (which is not here seriously proposed) or Hegel’s theory that the _fuehlende Seele_ is unconditioned by space. For, if thought transference be a fact, the apparent clairvoyant may only be reading the mind of a person at a distance. The results, however, when successful, would naturally suggest to the savage thinker the belief in the wandering soul, or corroborate it if it had already been suggested by the common phenomena of dreaming.
To these instances of knowledge acquired otherwise than by the recognised channels of sense we might add the Scottish tales of ‘second sight.’ That phrase is merely a local term covering examples of what is called ‘clairvoyance’–views of things remote in space, hallucinations of sight that coincide with some notable event, premonitions of things future, and so on. The belief and hallucinatory experiences are still very common in the Highlands, where I have myself collected many recent instances. Mr. Tylor observes that the examples ‘prove a little too much; they vouch not only for human apparitions, but for such phantoms as demon dogs, and for still more fanciful symbolic omens.’ This is perfectly true. I have found no cases of demon dogs; but wandering lights, probably of meteoric or miasmatic origin, are certainly regarded as tokens of death. This is obviously a superstitious hypothesis, the lights being real phenomena misconstrued. Again, funerals are not uncommonly seen where no funeral is taking place; it is then alleged that a real funeral, similar and similarly situated, soon afterwards occurred. On the hypothesis of believers, the percipients somehow behold
‘Such refraction of events
As often rises ere they rise.’
Even the savage cannot account for this experience by the wandering of the soul in space; nor do I suggest any explanation. I give, however, one or two instances. They are published in the ‘Journal of the Caledonian Medical Society,’ 1897, by Dr. Alastair Macgregor, on the authority of the MSS. of his father, a minister in the island of Skye.
‘He once told me that when he first went to Skye he scoffed at the idea of such a power as second sight being genuine; but he said that, after having been there for some years as a clergyman, he had been so often consulted _beforehand_ by people who said they had seen visions of events which subsequently occurred, to my father’s knowledge, in exact accordance with the form and details of the vision as foretold, that he was compelled to confess that some folks had, apparently at least, the unfortunate faculty.
‘As my father expressed it, this faculty was “neither voluntary nor constant, and was considered rather annoying than agreeable to the possessors of it. The gift was possessed by individuals of both sexes, and its fits came on within doors and without, sitting and standing, at night and by day, and at whatever employment the votary might chance to be engaged.”‘
Here follows a typical example of the vision of a funeral:
‘The session clerk at Dull, a small village in Perthshire, was ill, and my grandfather, clergyman there at the time, had to do duty for him. One fine summer evening, about 7 o’clock, a young man and woman came to get some papers filled up, as they were going to be married. My grandfather was with the couple in the session clerk’s room, no doubt attending to the papers, when suddenly _all three_ saw through the window a funeral procession passing along the road. From their dress the bulk of the mourners seemed to be farm labourers–indeed the young woman recognised some of them as natives of Dull, who had gone to live and work near Dunkeld. Remarks were naturally made by my grandfather and the young couple about the untimely hour for a funeral, and, hastily filling in the papers, my grandfather went out to get the key of the churchyard, which was kept in the manse, as, without the key, the procession could not get into God’s acre. Wondering how it was that he had received no intimation of the funeral, he went to the manse by a short cut, got the key, and hurried down to the churchyard gate, where, of course, he expected to find the cortege waiting. _Not a soul was there_ except the young couple, who were as amazed as my grandfather!
‘Well, at the same hour in the evening of the same day in the following week the funeral, this time in reality, arrived quite unexpectedly. The facts were that a boy, a native of Dull, had got gored by a bull at Dunkeld, and was so shockingly mangled that his remains were picked up and put into a coffin and taken without delay to Dull. A grave was dug as quickly as possible–the poor lad having no relatives–and the remains were interred. My grandfather and the young couple recognised several of the mourners as being among those whom they had seen out of the session clerk’s room, exactly a week previously, in the phantom cortege. The young woman knew some of them personally, and related to them what she had seen, but they of course denied all knowledge of the affair, having been then in Dunkeld.’
I give another example, because the experience was auditory, as well as visual, and the prediction was announced before the event.
‘The parishioners in Skye were evidently largely imbued with the Romanist-like belief in the powers of intercession vested in their clergyman; so when they had a “warning” or “vision” they usually consulted my father as to what they could do to prevent the coming disaster befalling their relatives or friends. In this way my father had the opportunity of noting down the minutiae of the “warning” or “vision” directly it was told him. Having had the advantage of a medical, previous to his theological, training, he was able to note down sound facts, unembellished by superadded imagination. Entering into this method of case-taking with a mind perfectly open, except for a slight touch of scepticism, he was greatly surprised to discover how very frequently realisations occurred exactly in conformance with the minutiae of the vision as detailed in his note-book. Finally, he was compelled to discard his scepticism, and to admit that some people had undoubtedly the uncanny gift. Almost the first case he took (Case X.) was that of a woman who had one day a vision of her son falling over a high rock at Uig, in Skye, with a sheep or lamb.
‘CASE X.–She heard her son exclaim in Gaelic, “This is a fatal lamb for me.” As her son lived several miles from Uig, and was a fisherman, realisation seemed to my father very unlikely, but one month afterwards the realisation occurred only too true. Unknown to his mother, who had warned him against having anything to do with sheep or lambs, the son one day, instead of going out in his boat, thought he would take a holiday inland, and went off to Uig, where a farmer enlisted his services in separating some lambs from the ewes. One of the lambs ran away, and the fisher lad ran headlong after it, and not looking where he was going, on catching the lamb was pulled by it to the edge of one of the very picturesque but exceedingly dangerous rocks at Uig. Too late realizing his critical position, he exclaimed, “This is a fatal lamb for me,” but going with such an impetus he was unable to bring himself up in time, and, along with the lamb, fell over into the ravine below, and was, of course, killed on the spot. The farmer, when he saw the lad’s danger, ran to his assistance, but was only in time to hear him cry out in Gaelic before disappearing over the brink of the precipice. This was predicted by the mother a month before. Was this simply a coincidence?’
Dr. Macgregor’s remarks on the involuntary and unwelcome nature of the visions is borne out by what Scheffer, as already quoted, says concerning the Lapps.
In addition to visions which thus come unsought, contributing knowledge of things remote or even future, we may glance at visions which are provoked by various methods. Drugs (_impepo_) are used, seers whirl in a wild dance till they fall senseless, or trance is induced by various kinds of self-suggestion or ‘auto-hypnotism.’ Fasting is also practised. In modern life the self-induced trance is common among ‘mediums’–a subject to which we recur later.
So far, it will he observed, our evidence proves that precisely similar _beliefs_ as to man’s occasional power of opening the gates of distance have been entertained in a great variety of lands and ages, and by races in every condition of culture. The alleged experiences are still said to occur, and have been investigated by physiologists of the eminence of M. Richet. The question cannot but arise as to the residuum of fact in these narrations, and it keeps on arising.
In the following chapter we discuss a mode of inducing hallucinations which has for anthropologists the interest of universal diffusion. The width of its range in savage races has not, we believe, been previously observed. We then add facts of modern experience, about the authenticity of which we, personally, entertain no doubt; and the provisional conclusion appears to be that savages have observed a psychological circumstance which has been ignored by professed psychologists, and which, certainly, does not fit into the ordinary materialistic hypothesis.
[Footnote 1: Callaway, _Religion of the Zulus_, p. 232.]
[Footnote 2: Graham Dalzell, _Darker Superstitions of Scotland_, p. 481.]
[Footnote 3: See good evidence in _Ker of Kersland’s Memoirs_.]
[Footnote 4: Autus Gellius, xv. 18, Dio Cassius, lxvii., Crespet, _De la Haine du Diable, Proces de Jeanne d’Arc_.]
[Footnote 5: See ‘Shamanism in Siberia,’ _J.A.I._, November 1894, pp. 147-149, and compare Scheffer. The article is very learned and interesting.]
[Footnote 6: Williams mentions second sight in Fiji, but gives no examples.]
[Footnote 7: _Primitive Culture,_ i. 447. Mr. Tylor cites Dr. Brinton’s _Myths of the New World,_ p. 269. The reference in the recent edition is p. 289. Carver’s case is given under the head ‘Possession’ later.]
[Footnote 8: _Journal Historique_ p. 362; _Atlantic Monthly_, July 1866.]
[Footnote 9: Probably _impepo_, eaten by seers, according to Callaway.]
[Footnote 10: Callaway’s _Religion of the Amazulu_, p. 358.]
[Footnote 11: Oxford, 1674.]
[Footnote 12: _Voyages_.]
[Footnote 13: From Charlevoix, _Journal Historique_, p. 362.]
[Footnote 14: Bastian, _Ueber psych. Beobacht_. p.21.]
[Footnote 14: Op. cit. p.26.]
[Footnote 15: Miss Kingsley, _Travels in West Africa_, p. 460.]
[Footnote 16: _Primitive Culture_, ii, 181; Mason’s _Burmah_, p. 107.]
[Footnote 17: Schoolcraft, i. 394.]
[Footnote 18: Brinton’s _Religions of Primitive Peoples_, p. 57.]
[Footnote 19: Purchas, p. 629.]
[Footnote 20: S.P.R. _Proceedings_, vol. vi. 69.]
[Footnote 21: Binet and Fere, _Animal Magnetism_, p. 64.]
[Footnote 22: Vol. vii. Mrs. Sidgwick, pp. 30, 356; vol. vi. p. 66, Professor Richet, p. 407, Drs. Dufay and Azam.]
[Footnote 23: The examples in the Old Testament, and in the _Life of St. Columba_ by Adamnan, need only be alluded to as too familiar for quotation.]
CRYSTAL VISIONS, SAVAGE AND CIVILISED
Among savage methods of provoking hallucinations whence knowledge may be supernormally obtained, various forms of ‘crystal-gazing’ are the most curious. We find the habit of looking into water, usually in a vessel, preferably a glass vessel, among Red Indians (Lejeune), Romans (Varro, cited in _Civitas Dei_, iii. 457), Africans of Fez (Leo Africanus); while Maoris use a drop of blood (Taylor), Egyptians use ink (Lane), and Australian savages employ a ball of polished stone, into which the seer ‘puts himself’ to descry the results of an expedition.
I have already given, in the Introduction, Ellis’s record of the Polynesian case. A hole being dug in the door of his house, and filled with water, the priest looks for a vision of the thief who has carried off stolen goods. The Polynesian theory is that the god carries the spirit of the thief over the water, in which it is reflected. Lejeune’s Red Indians make their patients gaze into the water, in which they will see the pictures of the things in the way of food or medicine that will do them good. In modern language, the instinctive knowledge existing implicitly in the patient’s subconsciousness is thus brought into the range of his ordinary consciousness.
In 1887 the late Captain J. T. Bourke, of the U.S. Cavalry, an original and careful observer, visited the Apaches in the interests of the Ethnological Bureau. He learned that one of the chief duties of the medicine-men was to find out the whereabouts of lost or stolen property. Na-a-cha, one of these _jossakeeds_, possessed a magic quartz crystal, which he greatly valued. Captain Bourke presented him with a still finer crystal. ‘He could not give me an explanation of its magical use, except that by looking into it he could see everything he wanted to see,’ Captain Bourke appears never to have heard of the modern experiments in crystal-gazing. Captain Bourke also discovered that the Apaches, like the Greeks, Australians, Africans, Maoris, and many other, races, use the bull-roarer, turndun, or _rhombos_–a piece of wood which, being whirled round, causes a strange windy roar–in their mystic ceremonies. The wide use of the rhombos was known to Captain Bourke; that of the crystal was not.
For the Iroquois, Mrs. Erminie Smith supplies information about the crystal. ‘Placed in a gourd of water, it could render visible the apparition of a person who has bewitched another.’ She gives a case in European times of a medicine-man who found the witch’s habitat, but Got only an indistinct view of her face. On a second trial he was successful. One may add that treasure-seekers among the Huille-che ‘look earnestly’ for what they want to find ‘into a smooth slab of black stone, which I suppose to be basalt.'
The kindness of Monsieur Lefebure enables me to give another example from Madagascar. Flacourt, describing the Malagasies, says that they _squillent_ (a word not in Littre), that is, divine by crystals, which ‘full from heaven when it thunders,’ Of course the rain reveals the crystals, as it does the flint instruments called ‘thunderbolts’ in many countries. ‘Lorsqu’ils squillent, ils ont une de ces pierres au coing de leurs tablettes, disans qu’elle a la vertu de faire faire operation a leur figure de geomance.’ Probably they used the crystals as do the Apaches. On July 15 a Malagasy woman viewed, whether in her crystal or otherwise, two French vessels which, like the Spanish fleet, were ‘not in sight,’ also officers, and doctors, and others aboard, whom she had seen, before their return to France, in Madagascar. The earliest of the ships did not arrive till August 11.
Dr. Callaway gives the Zulu practice, where the chief ‘sees what will happen by looking into the vessel.' The Shamans of Siberia and Eastern Russia employ the same method. The case of the Inca, Yupanqui, is very curious. ‘As he came up to a fountain he saw a piece of crystal fall into it, within which he beheld a figure of an Indian in the following shape … The apparition then vanished, while the crystal remained. The Inca took care of it, and they say that he afterwards saw everything he wanted in it.'
Here, then, we find the belief that hallucinations can be induced by one or other form of crystal-gazing, in ancient Peru, on the other side of the continent among the Huille-che, in Fez, in Madagascar, in Siberia, among Apaches, Hurons, Iroquois, Australian black fellows, Maoris, and in Polynesia. This is assuredly a wide range of geographical distribution. We also find the practice in Greece (Pausanias, VII. xxi. 12), in Rome (Varro), in Egypt, and in India.
Though anthropologists have paid no attention to the subject, it was of course familiar to later Europe. ‘Miss X’ has traced it among early Christians, in early Councils, in episcopal condemnations of _specularii_, and so to Dr. Dee, under James VI.; Aubrey; the Regent d’Orleans in St. Simon’s Memoirs; the modern mesmerists (Gregory, Mayo) and the mid-Victorian spiritualists, who, as usual, explained the phenomena, in their prehistoric way, by ‘spirits.’ Till this lady examined the subject, nobody had thought of remarking that a belief so universal had probably some basis of facts, or nobody if we except two professors of chemistry and physiology, Drs. Gregory and Mayo. Miss X made experiments, beginning by accident, like George Sand, when a child.
The hallucinations which appear to her eyes in ink, or crystal, are:
1. Revived memories ‘arising thus, and thus only, from the subconscious strata;’
‘2. Objectivation of ideas or images–(a) consciously or (b) unconsciously–in the mind of the percipient;
‘3. Visions, possibly telepathic or clairvoyant, implying acquirement of knowledge by supernormal means.'
The examples given of the last class, the class which would be so useful to a priest or medicine-man asked to discover things lost, are of very slight interest.
Since Miss X drew attention to this subject, experiments have proved beyond doubt that a fair percentage of people, sane and healthy, can see vivid landscapes, and figures of persons in motion, in glass balls and other vehicles. This faculty Dr. Parish attributes to ‘dissociation,’ practically to drowsiness. But he speaks by conjecture, and without having witnessed experiments, as will be shown later. I now offer a series of experiments with a glass ball, coming under my own observation, in which knowledge was apparently acquired in no ordinary way. Of the absence of fraud I am personally convinced, not only by the characters of all concerned, but by the nature of the circumstances. That adaptive memory did not later alter the narratives, as originally told, I feel certain, because they were reported to me, when I was not present, within less than a week, precisely as they are now given, except in cases specially noted.
Early in the present year (1897) I met a young lady who told me of three or four curious hallucinatory experiences of her own, which were sufficiently corroborated. She was innocent of psychical studies, and personally was, and is, in perfect health; the pale cast of thought being remote from her. I got a glass ball, and was present when she first looked into it. She saw, I remember, the interior of a house, with a full-length portrait of a person unknown. There were, I think, one or two other fancy pictures of the familiar kind. But she presently (living as she was, among strangers) developed a power of ‘seeing’ persons and places unknown to her, but familiar to them. These experiences do seem to me to be good examples of what is called ‘thought transference;’ indeed, I never before could get out of a level balance of doubt on that subject, a balance which now leans considerably to the affirmative side. There may be abundance of better evidence, but, knowing the persons and circumstances, and being present once at what seemed to me a crucial example, I was more inclined to be convinced. This attitude appears, to myself, illogical, but it is natural and usual.
We cannot tell what indications may be accidentally given in experiments in thought transference. But, in these cases of crystal-gazing, the detail was too copious to be conveyed, by a looker-on, in a wink or a cough. I do not mean to say that success was invariable. I thought of Dr. W.G. Grace, and the scryer saw an old man crawling along with a stick. But I doubt if Dr. Grace is very deeply seated in that mystic entity, my subconscious self. The ‘scries’ which came right were sometimes, but not always, those of which the ‘agent’ (or person scried for) was consciously thinking. But the examples will illustrate the various kinds of occurrences.
Here one should first consider the arguments against accepting recognition of objects merely described by another person. The crystal-gazer may know the inquirer so intimately as to have a very good guess at the subject of his meditation. Again, a man is likely to be thinking of a woman, and a woman of a man, so the field of conjecture is limited. In answer to the first objection I may say that the crystal-gazer was among strangers, all of whom, myself included, she now saw for the first time. Nor could she have studied their histories beforehand, for she could not know (normally) when she left home, that she was about to be shown a glass ball, or whom she would meet. The second objection is met by the circumstance that ladies were _not_ usually picked out for men, nor men for women. Indeed, these choices were the exceptions, and in each case were marked by minutely particular details. A third objection is that credulity, or the love of strange novelties, or desire to oblige, biases the inquirers, and makes them anxious to recognise something familiar in the scryer’s descriptions. In the same way we know how people recognise faces in the most blurred and vague of spiritist photographs, or see family resemblances in the most rudimentary doughfaced babies. Take descriptions of persons in a passport, or in a proclamation sketching the personal appearance of a criminal. These fit the men or women intended, but they also fit a crowd of other people. The description given by the scryer then may come right by a fortuitous coincidence, or may be too credulously recognised.
The complex of coincidences, however, could not be attributed to chance selection out of the whole possible field of conjecture. We must remember, too, that a series of such hits increases, at an enormous rate, the odds against accidental conjecture. Of such mere luck I may give an example. I was writing a story of which the hero was George Kelly, one of the ‘Seven Men of Moidart.’ A year after composing my tale, I found the Government description of Mr. Kelly (1736). It exactly tallied with my purely fanciful sketch, down to eyes, and teeth, and face, except that I made my hero ‘about six feet,’ whereas the Government gave him five feet ten. But I knew beforehand that Mr. Kelly was a clergyman; his curious career proved him to be a person of great activity and geniality–and he was of Irish birth. Even a dozen such guesses, equally correct, could not suggest any powers of ‘vision,’ when so much was known beforehand about the person guessed at. I now give cases in the experience of Miss Angus, as one may call the crystal-gazer. The first occurred the day after she got the glass ball for the first time. She writes:
‘I.–A lady one day asked me to scry out a friend of whom she would think. Almost immediately I exclaimed “Here is an old, old lady looking at me with a triumphant smile on her face. She has a prominent nose and nut-cracker chin. Her face is very much wrinkled, especially at the sides of her eyes, as if she were always smiling. She is wearing a little white shawl with a black edge. _But!_ … she _can’t_ be old as her hair is quite brown! although her face looks so very very old.” The picture then vanished, and the lady said that I had accurately described her friend’s _mother_ instead of himself; that it was a family joke that the mother must dye her hair, it was so brown and she was eighty-two years old. The lady asked me if the vision were distinct enough for me to recognise a likeness in the son’s photograph; next day she laid several photographs before me, and in a moment, without the slightest hesitation I picked him out from his wonderful likeness to my vision!’
The inquirer verbally corroborated all the facts to me, within a week, but leaned to a theory of ‘electricity.’ She has read and confirms this account.
‘II.–One afternoon I was sitting beside a young lady whom I had never seen or heard of before. She asked if she might look into my crystal, and while she did so I happened to look over her shoulder and saw a ship tossing on a very heavy choppy sea, although land was still visible in the dim distance. That vanished, and, as suddenly, a little house appeared with five or six (I forget now the exact number I then counted) steps leading up to the door. On the second step stood an old man reading a newspaper. In front of the house was a field of thick stubbly grass where some _lambs_, I was going to say, but they were more like very small sheep.. were grazing.
‘When the scene vanished, the young lady told me I had vividly described a spot in Shetland where she and her mother were soon going to spend a few weeks.’
I heard of this case from Miss Angus within a day or two of its occurrence, and it was then confirmed to me, verbally, by the other lady. She again confirms it (December 21, 1897). Both ladies had hitherto been perfect strangers to each other. The old man was the schoolmaster, apparently. In her MS., Miss Angus writes ‘Skye,’ but at the time both she and the other lady said Shetland (which I have restored). In Shetland the sheep, like the ponies, are small. Fortuitous coincidence, of course, may be invoked. The next account is by another lady, say Miss Rose.
‘III.–Writes Miss Rose–My first experience of crystal gazing was not a pleasant one, as will be seen from the following which I now relate as exactly as I can remember. I asked my friend, Miss Angus, to allow me to look in her crystal, and, after doing so for a short time, gave up, saying it was very unsatisfactory, as, although I saw a room with a bright fire in it and a bed all curtained and people coming and going, I could not make out who they were, so I returned the crystal to Miss Angus, with the request that she might look for me. She said at once, “I see a bed with a man in it looking very ill and a lady in black beside it.” Without saying any more Miss Angus still kept looking, and, after some time, I asked to have one more look, and on her passing the ball back to me, I received quite a shock, for there, perfectly clearly in a bright light, I saw stretched out in bed an old man apparently dead; for a few minutes I could not look, and on doing so once more there appeared a lady in black and out of dense darkness a long black object was being carried and it stopped before a dark opening overhung with rocks. At the time I saw this I was staying with cousins, and it was a Friday evening. On Sunday we heard of the death of the father-in-law of one of my cousins; of course I knew the old gentleman was very ill, but my thoughts were not in the least about him when looking in the crystal. I may also say I did not recognise in the features of the dead man those of the old gentleman whose death I mention. On looking again on Sunday, I once more saw the curtained bed and some people.’
I now give Miss Angus’s version of this case, as originally received from her (December 1897). I had previously received an oral version, from a person present at the scrying. It differed, in one respect, from what Miss Angus writes. Her version is offered because it is made independently, without consultation, or attempt to reconcile recollections.
‘At a recent experience of gazing, for the first time I was able to make another see what _I_ saw in the crystal. Miss Rose called one afternoon, and begged me to look in the ball for her. I did so, and immediately exclaimed, “Oh! here is a bed, with a man in it looking very ill [I saw he was dead, but refrained from saying so], and there is a lady dressed in black sitting beside the bed.” I did not recognise the man to be anyone I knew, so I told her to look. In a very short time she called out, “Oh! I see the bed too! But, oh! take it away, the man is _dead_!” She got quite a shock, and said she would never look in it again. Soon, however, curiosity prompted her to have one more look, and the scene at once came back again, and slowly, from a misty object at the side of the bed, the lady in black became quite distinct. Then she described several people in the room, and said they were carrying something all draped in black. When she saw this, she put the ball down and would not look at it again. She called again on Sunday (this had been on Friday) with her cousin, and we teased her about being _afraid_ of the crystal, so she said she would just look in it once more. She took the ball, but immediately laid it down again, saying, “No, I won’t look, as the bed with the awful man in it is there again!”
‘When they went home, they heard that the cousin’s father-in-law had died that afternoon, but to show he had never been in our thoughts, although we _all_ knew he had not been well, _no one_ suggested him; his name was never mentioned in connection with the vision.’
‘Clairvoyance,’ of course, is not illustrated here, the corpse being unrecognised, and the coincidence, doubtless, accidental.
The next case is attested by a civilian, a slight acquaintance of Miss Angus’s, who now saw him for the second time only, but better known to her family.
‘IV.–On Thursday, March –? 1897, I was lunching with my friends the Anguses, and during luncheon the conversation turned upon crystal balls and the visions that, by some people, can be seen in them. The subject arose owing to Miss Angus having just been presented with a crystal ball by Mr. Andrew Lang. I asked her to let me see it, and then to try and see if she could conjure up a vision of any person of whom I might think…. I fixed my mind upon a friend, a young trooper in the [regiment named], as I thought his would be a striking and peculiar personality, owing to his uniform, and also because I felt sure that Miss Angus could not possibly know of his existence. I fixed my mind steadily upon my friend, and presently Miss Angus, who had already seen two cloudy visions of faces and people, called out, “Now I see a man on a horse most distinctly; he is dressed most queerly, and glitters all over–why, it’s a soldier! a soldier in uniform, but it’s not an officer.” My excitement on hearing this was so great that I ceased to concentrate my attention upon the thought of my friend, and the vision faded away and could not afterwards be recalled.–December 2,1897.’
The witness gives the name of the trooper, whom he had befriended in a severe illness. Miss Angus’s own account follows: she had told me the story in June 1897.
‘Shortly after I became the happy possessor of a “crystal” I managed to convert several very decided “sceptics,” and I will here give a short account of my experiences with two or three of them.
‘One was with a Mr. —-, who was so determined to baffle me, he said he would think of a friend it would not be _possible_ for me to describe!
‘I had only met Mr. —- the day before, and knew utmost nothing about him or his personal friends.
‘I took up the ball, which immediately became misty, and out of this mist gradually a crowd of people appeared, but too indistinctly for me to recognise anyone, until suddenly a man on horseback came galloping along. I remember saying, “I can’t describe what he is like, but he is dressed in a very queer way–in something so bright that the sun shining on him quite dazzles me, and I cannot make him out!” As he came nearer I exclaimed. “Why, it’s a _soldier_ in shining armour, but it’s not an _officer_, only a soldier!” Two friends who were in the room said Mr. —-‘s excitement was intense, and my attention was drawn from the ball by hearing him call out, “It’s wonderful! it’s perfectly true! I was thinking of a young boy, a, son of a crofter, in whom I am deeply interested, and who is a trooper in the —- in London, which would account for the crowd of people round him in the street!”‘
The next case is given, first in the version of the lady who was unconsciously scried for, and next in that of Miss Angus. The other lady writes:
‘V.–I met Miss A. for the first time in a friend’s house in the south of England, and one evening mention was made of a crystal ball, and our hostess asked Miss A. to look in it, and, if possible, tell her what was happening to a friend of hers. Miss A. took the crystal, and our hostess put her hand on Miss A.’s forehead to “will her.” I, not believing in this, took up a book and went to the other side of the room. I was suddenly very much startled to hear Miss A., in quite an agitated way, describe a scene that had most certainly been very often in my thoughts, but of which I had never mentioned a word, She accurately described a race-course in Scotland, and an accident which happened to a friend of mine only a week or two before, and she was evidently going through the same doubt and anxiety that I did at the time as to whether he was actually killed or only very much hurt. It really was a most wonderful revelation to me, as it was the very first time I had seen a crystal. Our hostess, of course, was very much annoyed that she had not been able to influence Miss A., while I, who had appeared so very indifferent, should have affected her.–November 28, 1897.’
Miss Angus herself writes:
‘Another case was a rather interesting one, as I somehow got inside the thoughts of _one_ lady while _another_ was doing her best to influence me!
‘Miss —-, a friend in Brighton, has strange “magnetic” powers, and felt quite sure of success with me and the ball.
‘Another lady, Miss H., who was present, laughed at the whole thing, especially when Miss —- insisted on holding my hand and patting her other hand on my forehead! Miss H. in a scornful manner took up a book, and, crossing to the other side of the room, left us to our folly.
‘In a very short time I felt myself getting excited, which had never happened before, when I looked in the crystal. I saw a crowd of people, and in some strange way I felt I was in it, and we all seemed to be waiting for something. Soon a rider came past, young, dressed for racing. His horse ambled past, and he smiled and nodded to those he knew in the crowd, and then was lost to sight.
‘In a moment we all seemed to feel as if something had happened, and I went through great agony of suspense trying to see what seemed _just_ beyond my view. Soon, however, two or three men approached, and carried him past before my eyes, and again my anxiety was intense to discover if he were only very badly hurt or if life were really extinct. All this happened in a few moments, but long enough to have left me so agitated that I could not realise it had only been a vision in a glass ball.
‘By this time Miss H. had laid aside her book, and came forward quite startled, and told me that I had accurately described a scene on a race-course in Scotland which she had witnessed just a week or two before–a scene that had very often been in her thoughts, but, as we were strangers to each other, she had never mentioned. She also said I had exactly described her own feelings at the time, and had brought it all back in a most vivid manner.
‘The other lady was rather disappointed that, after she had concentrated her thoughts so hard, I should have been influenced instead by one who had jeered at the whole affair.’
[This anecdote was also told to me, within a few days of the occurrence, by Miss Angus. Her version was that she first saw a gentleman rider going to the post and nodding to his friends. Then she saw him carried on a stretcher through the crowd. She seemed, she said, to be actually present, and felt somewhat agitated. The fact of the accident was, later, mentioned to me in Scotland by another lady, a stranger to all the persons.–A.L.]
VI.–I may briefly add an experiment of December 21, 1897. A gentleman had recently come from England to the Scottish town where Miss Angus lives. He dined with her family, and about 10.15 to 10.30 P.M. she proposed to look in the glass for a scene or person of whom he was to think. He called up a mental picture of a ball at which he had recently been, and of a young lady to whom he had there been introduced. The lady’s face, however, he could not clearly visualise, and Miss Angus reported nothing but a view of an empty ball-room, with polished floor and many lights. The gentleman made another effort, and remembered his partner with some distinctness. Miss Angus then described another room, not a ball-room, comfortably furnished, in which a girl with brown hair drawn back from her forehead, and attired in a high-necked white blouse, was reading, or writing letters, under a bright light in an unshaded glass globe. The description of the features, figure, and height tallied with Mr. —-‘s recollection; but he had never seen this Geraldine of an hour except in ball dress. He and Miss Angus noted the time by their watches (it was 10.30), and Mr. —- said that on the first opportunity he would ask the young lady how she had been dressed and how employed at that hour on December 21. On December 22 he met her at another dance, and her reply corroborated the crystal picture. She had been writing letters, in a high-necked white blouse, under an incandescent gas lamp with an unshaded glass globe. She was entirely unknown to Miss Angus, and had only been seen once by Mr. —-. Mr. —- and the lady of the crystal picture corroborated all this in writing.
I now suggested an experiment to Miss Angus, which, after all, was clearly not of a nature to establish a ‘test’ for sceptics. The inquirer was to write down, and inclose in an envelope, a statement of his thoughts; Miss Angus was to do the game with her description of the picture seen by her; and these documents were to be sent to me, without communication between the inquirer and the crystal-gazer. Of course, this could in no way prove absence of collusion, as the two parties might arrange privately beforehand what the vision was to be.
Indeed, nobody is apt to be convinced, or shaken, unless he is himself the inquirer and a stranger to the seeress, as the people in these experiments were. Evidence interesting to _them_–and, in a secondary degree, to others who know them–can thus be procured; but strangers are left to the same choice of doubts as in all reports of psychological experiences, ‘chromatic audition,’ views of coloured numerals, and the other topics illustrated by Mr. Galton’s interesting researches.
In this affair of the envelopes the inquirer was a Mr. Pembroke, who had just made Miss Angus’s acquaintance, and was but a sojourner in the land. He wrote, before knowing what Miss Angus had seen in the ball:
‘VII.–On Sunday, January 23, 1898, whilst Miss Angus was looking in the crystal ball, I was thinking of my brother, who was, I believe, at that time, somewhere between Sabathu (Punjab, India) and Egypt. I was anxious to know what stage of his journey he had reached.’
Miss Angus saw, and wrote, before telling Mr. Pembroke:
‘A long and very white road, with tall trees at one side; on the other, a river or lake of greyish water. Blue sky, with a crimson sunset. A great black ship is anchored near, and on the deck I see a man lying, apparently very ill. He is a powerful-looking man, fair, and very much bronzed. Seven or eight Englishmen, in very light clothes, are standing on the road beside the boat.
‘A great black ship,’ anchored in ‘a river or lake,’ naturally suggests the Suez Canal, where, in fact, Mr. Pembroke’s brother was just arriving, as was proved by a letter received from him eight days after the experiment was recorded, on January 31. At that date Mr. Pembroke had not yet been told the nature of Miss Angus’s crystal picture, nor had she any knowledge of his brother’s whereabouts.
In February 1898, Miss Angus again came to the place where I was residing. We visited together the scene of an historical crime, and Miss Angus looked into the glass ball. It was easy for her to ‘visualise’ the incidents of the crime (the murder of Cardinal Beaton), for they are familiar enough to many people. What she did see in the ball was a tall, pale lady, ‘about forty, but looking thirty-five,’ with hair drawn back from the brows, standing beside a high chair, dressed in a wide farthingale of stiff grey brocade, without a ruff. The costume corresponds well (as we found) with that of 1546, and I said, ‘I suppose it is Mariotte Ogilvy’–to whom Miss Angus’s historical knowledge (and perhaps that of the general public) did not extend. Mariotte was the Cardinal’s lady-love, and was in the Castle on the night before the murder, according to Knox. She had been in my mind, whence (on the theory of thought transference) she may have passed to Miss Angus’s mind; but I had never speculated on Mariotte’s costume. Nothing but conjecture, of course, comes of these apparently ‘retrospective’ pictures; though a most singular and picturesque coincidence occurred, which may be told in a very different connection.
The next example was noted at the same town. The lady who furnishes it is well known to me, and it was verbally corroborated by Miss Angus, to whom the lady, her absent nephew, and all about her, were entirely strange.
‘VIII.–I was very anxious to know whether my nephew would be sent to India this year, so I told Miss Angus that I had thought of something, and asked her to look in the glass ball. She did so, but almost immediately turned round and looked out of the window at the sea, and said, “I saw a ship so distinctly I thought it must be a reflection.” She looked in the ball again, and said, “It is a large ship, and it is passing a huge rock with a lighthouse on it. I can’t see who are on the ship, but the sky is very clear and blue. Now I see a large building, something like a club, and in front there are a great many people sitting and walking about. I think it must be some place abroad, for the people are all dressed in very light clothes, and it seems to be very sunny and warm. I see a young man sitting on a chair, with his feet straight out before him. He is not talking to anyone, but seems to be listening to something. He is dark and slight, and not very tall; and his eyebrows are dark and very distinctly marked.”
‘I had not had the pleasure of meeting Miss Angus before, and she knew nothing whatever about my nephew; but the young man described was exactly like him, both in his appearance and in the way he was sitting.’
In this case thought transference may be appealed to. The lady was thinking of her nephew in connection with India. It is not maintained, of course, that the picture was of a prophetic character.
The following examples have some curious and unusual features. On Wednesday, February 2, 1897, Miss Angus was looking in the crystal, to amuse six or seven people whose acquaintance she had that day made. A gentleman, Mr. Bissett, asked her ‘what letter was in his pocket,’ She then saw, under a bright sky, and, as it were, a long way off, a large building, in and out of which many men were coming and going. Her impression was that the scene must be abroad. In the little company present, it should be added, was a lady, Mrs. Cockburn, who had considerable reason to think of her young married daughter, then at a place about fifty miles away. After Miss Angus had described the large building and crowds of men, some one asked, ‘Is it an exchange?’ ‘It might be,’ she said. ‘Now comes a man in a great hurry. He has a broad brow, and short, curly hair; hat pressed low down on his eyes. The face is very serious; but he has a delightful smile.’ Mr. and Mrs. Bissett now both recognised their friend and stockbroker, whose letter was in Mr. Bissett’s pocket.
The vision, which interested Miss Angus, passed away, and was interrupted by that of a hospital nurse, and of a lady in a _peignoir_, lying on a sofa, _with bare feet_. Miss Angus mentioned this vision as a bore, she being more interested in the stockbroker, who seems to have inherited what was once in the possession of another stockbroker–‘the smile of Charles Lamb.’ Mrs. Cockburn, for whom no pictures appeared, was rather vexed, and privately expressed with freedom a very sceptical opinion about the whole affair. But, on Saturday, February 5, 1897, Miss Angus was again with Mr. and Mrs. Bissett. When Mrs. Bissett announced that she had ‘thought of something,’ Miss Angus saw a walk in a wood or garden, beside a river, under a brilliant blue sky. Here was a lady, very well dressed, twirling a white parasol on her shoulder as she walked, in a curious ‘stumpy’ way, beside a gentleman in light clothes, such as are worn in India. He was broad-shouldered, had a short neck and a straight nose, and seemed to listen, laughing, but indifferent, to his obviously vivacious companion. The lady had a ‘drawn’ face, indicative of ill health. Then followed a scene in which the man, without the lady, was looking on at a number of Orientals busy in the felling of trees. Mrs. Bissett recognised, in the lady, her sister, Mrs. Clifton, in India–above all, when Miss Angus gave a realistic imitation of Mrs. Clifton’s walk, the peculiarity of which was caused by an illness some years ago. Mrs. and Mr. Bissett also recognised their brother-in-law in the gentleman seen in both pictures. On being shown a portrait of Mrs. Clifton as a girl, Miss Angus said it was ‘like, but too pretty.’ A photograph done recently, however, showed her ‘the drawn face’ of the crystal picture. 
Next day, Sunday, February 6, Mrs. Bissett received, what was not usual–a letter from her sister in India, Mrs. Clifton, dated January 20, Mrs. Clifton described a place in a native State, where she had been at a great ‘function,’ in certain gardens beside a river. She added that they were going to another place for a certain purpose, ‘and then we go into camp till the end of February.’ One of Mr. Clifton’s duties is to direct the clearing of wood preparatory to the formation of the camp, as in Miss Angus’s crystal picture. The sceptical Mrs. Cockburn heard of these coincidences, and an idea occurred to her. She wrote to her daughter, who has been mentioned, and asked whether, on Wednesday, February 2, she had been lying on a sofa in her bed-room, with bare feet. The young lady confessed that it was indeed so; and, when she heard how the fact came to be known, expressed herself with some warmth on the abuse of glass balls, which tend to rob life of its privacy.
In this case the _prima facie_ aspect of things is that a thought of Mr. Bissett’s about his stockbroker, _dulce ridentem_, somehow reflected itself into Miss Angus’s mind by way of the glass ball, and was interrupted by a thought of Mrs. Cockburn’s, as to her daughter. But how these thoughts came to display the unknown facts concerning the garden by the river, the felling of trees for a camp, and the bare feet, is a question about which it is vain to theorise.
On the vanishing of the jungle scene there appeared a picture of a man in a dark undress uniform, beside a great bay, in which were ships of war. Wooden huts, as in a plague district, were on shore. Mr. Bissett asked, ‘What is the man’s expression?’ ‘He looks as if he had been giving a lot of last orders.’ Then appeared ‘a place like a hospital, with five or six beds–no, berths: it is a ship. Here is the man again.’ He was minutely described, one peculiarity being the way in which his hair grew–or, rather, did not grow–on his temples.
Miss Angus now asked, ‘Where is my little lady?’–meaning the lady of the twirling parasol and _staccato_ walk. ‘Oh, I’ve left off thinking of her,’ said Mrs. Bissett, who had been thinking of, and recognised in the officer in undress uniform, her brother, the man with the singular hair, whose face, in fact, had been scarred in that way by an encounter with a tiger. He was expected to sail from Bombay, but news of his setting forth has not been received (February 10) at the moment when this is written.
In these Indian cases, ‘thought transference’ may account for the correspondence between the figures seen by Miss Angus and the ideas in the mind of Mr. and Mrs. Bissett. But the hypothesis of thought transference, while it would cover the wooden huts at Bombay (Mrs. Bissett knowing that her brother was about to leave that place), can scarcely explain the scene in the garden by the river and the scene with the trees. The incident of the bare feet may be regarded as a fortuitous coincidence, since Miss Angus saw the young lady foreshortened, and could not describe her face.
In the Introductory Chapter it was observed that the phenomena which apparently point to some unaccountable supernormal faculty of acquiring knowledge are ‘trivial.’ These anecdotes illustrate the triviality; but the facts certainly left a number of people, wholly unfamiliar with such experiments, under the impression that Miss Angus’s glass ball was like Prince Ali’s magical telescope in the ‘Arabian Nights.' These experiments, however, occasionally touch on intimate personal matters, and cannot be reported in such instances.
It will be remarked that the faculty is freakish, and does not always respond to conscious exertion of thought in the mind of the inquirer. Thus, in Case I. a connection of the person thought of is discerned; in another the mind of a stranger present seems to be read. In another case (not given here) the inquirer tried to visualise a card for a person present to guess, while Miss Angus was asked to describe an object which the inquirer was acquainted with, but which he banished from his conscious thought. The double experiment was a double-barrelled success.
It seems hardly necessary to point out that chance coincidence will not cover this set of cases, where in each ‘guess’ the field of conjecture is boundless, and is not even narrowed by the crystal-gazer’s knowledge of the persons for whose diversion she makes the experiment. As ‘muscle-reading’ is not in question (in the one case of contact between inquirer and crystal-gazer the results were unexpected), and as no unconsciously made signs could convey, for example, the idea of a cavalry soldier in uniform, or an accident on a race-course in two _tableaux_, I do not at present see any more plausible explanation than that of thought transference, though how that is to account for some of the cases given I do not precisely understand.
Any one who can accept the assurance of my personal belief in the good faith of all concerned will see how very useful this faculty of crystal-gazing must be to the Apache or Australian medicine-man or Polynesian priest. Freakish as the faculty is, a few real successes, well exploited and eked out by fraud, would set up a wizard’s reputation. That a faculty of being thus affected is genuine seems proved, apart from