not have spared them for their crying. The Prophets were unusually outspoken men, and, as they undeniably do scold Israel for every other kind of conceivable heresy, they were not likely to be silent about ancestor-worship, if ancestor-worship existed. Mr. Spencer, then, rather heedlessly, though correctly, argues that ‘nomadic habits are unfavourable to evolution of the ghost-theory.' Alas, this gives away the whole case! For, if all men began as nomads, and nomadic habits are unfavourable even to the ordinary ghost, how did the Australian and other nomads develop the Supreme Being, who, _ex hypothesi_, is the final fruit of the ghost-flower? If you cannot have ‘an established ancestor-worship’ till you abandon nomadic habits, how, while still nomadic, do you evolve a Supreme Being? Obviously not out of ancestor-worship.
Mr. Spencer then assigns, as evidence for ancestor-worship in Israel, mourning dresses, fasting, the law against self-bleeding and cutting off the hair for the dead, and the text (Deut. xxvi. 14) about ‘I have not given aught thereof for the dead.’ ‘Hence, the conclusion must be that ancestor-worship had developed as far as nomadic habits allowed, before it was repressed by a higher worship.' But whence came that higher worship which seems to have intervened immediately after the cessation of nomadic habits?
There are obvious traces of grief expressed in a primitive way among the Hebrews. ‘Ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead’ (Deut. xiv. 1). ‘Neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them; neither shall men tear themselves for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead’ (by way of counter-irritant to grief); ‘neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother,’ because the Jews were to be removed from their homes. ‘Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.'
It may be usual to regard inflictions, such as cutting, by mourners, as sacrifices to the ghost of the dead. But one has seen a man strike himself a heavy blow on receiving news of a loss _not_ by death, and I venture to fancy that cuttings and gashings at funerals are merely a more violent form of appeal to a counter-irritant of grief, and, again, a token of recklessness caused by a sorrow which makes void the world. One of John Nicholson’s native adorers killed himself on news of that warrior’s death, saying, ‘What is left worth living for?’ This was not a sacrifice to the Manes of Nicholson. The sacrifice of the mourner’s hair, as by Achilles, argues a similar indifference to personal charm. Once more, the text in Psalm cvi. 28, ‘They joined themselves unto Baal-Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead,’ is usually taken by commentators as a reference to the ritual of gods who are no gods. But it rather seems to indicate an acquiescence in foreign burial rites. All this additional evidence does not do much to prove ancestor-worship in Israel, though the secrecy of the burial of Moses, ‘in a valley of the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knoweth of his sepulchre to this day,’ may indicate a dread of a nascent worship of the great leader. The scene of the defection in Psalm cvi., Beth-peor, in indicated in Numbers xxv., where Israel runs after the girls and the gods of Moab: ‘And Moab called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor.’ Psalm cvi. is obviously a later restatement of this addiction to the Moabite gods, and the Psalm adds ‘they ate the sacrifices of the dead.’
It is plain that, for whatever reason, ancestor-worship among the Hebrews was, at the utmost, rudimentary. Otherwise it must have been clearly denounced by the Prophets among the other heresies of Israel. Therefore, as being at the most rudimentary, ancestor-worship in Israel could not be developed at once into the worship of Jehovah.
Though ancestor-worship among the Hebrews could not be fully developed, according to Mr. Spencer, because of their nomadic habits, it _was_ fully developed, according to the Rev. A.W. Oxford. ‘Every family, like every old Roman and Greek family, was firmly held together by the worship of its ancestors, the hearth was the altar, the head of the family the priest…. The bond which kept together the families of a tribe was its common religion, the worship of its reputed ancestor. The chief of the tribe was, of course, the priest of the cult.’ Of course; but what a pity that Mr. Huxley and Mr. Spencer omitted facts so invaluable to their theory! And how does the Rev. Mr. Oxford know? Well, ‘there is no direct proof,’ oddly enough, of so marked a feature in Hebrew religion but we are referred to 1 Sam. xx. 29 and Judges xviii. 19. 1 Sam. xx. 29 makes Jonathan say that David wants to go to a family sacrifice, that is, a family dinner party. This hardly covers the large assertions made by Mr. Oxford. His second citation is so unlucky as to contradict his observation that ‘of course’ the chief of the tribe was the priest of the cult. Micah, in Judges xvii., xviii., is _not_ the chief of his tribe (Ephraim), neither is he even the priest in his own house. He ‘consecrated one of his own sons who became his priest,’ till he got hold of a casual young Levite, and said, ‘Be unto me a _father_ and a priest,’ for ten shekels _per annum_, a suit of clothes, and board and lodging.
In place, then, of any remote reference to a chief’s being priest of his ancestral ghosts, we have here a man of one tribe who is paid rather handsomely to be family chaplain to a member of another tribe. Some moss-troopers of the tribe of Dan then kidnapped this valuable young Levite, and seized a few idols which Micah had permitted himself to make. And all this, according to our clerical authority, is evidence for ancestor-worship!
All this appears to be derived from some incoherent speculations of Stade. For example, that learned German cites the story of Micah as a proof that the different tribes or clans had different religions. This _must_ be so, because the Danites asked the young Levite whether it was not better to be priest to a clan than to an individual? It is as if a patron offered a rich living to somebody’s private chaplain, saying that the new position was more creditable and lucrative. This would hardly prove a difference of religion between the individual and the parish.
Mr. Oxford next avers that ‘the earliest form of the Israelite religion was Fetishism or Totemism.’ This is another example of Stade’s logic. Finding, as he believes, names suggestive of Totemism in Simeon, Levi, Rachel, and so on, Stade leaps to the conclusion that Totemism in Israel was prior to anything resembling monotheism. For monotheism, he argues, could not give the germs of the clan or tribal organisation, while Totemism could do so. Certainly it could, but as, in many regions (America, Australia), we find Totemism and the belief in a benevolent Supreme Being co-existing among savages, when first observed by Europeans, we cannot possibly say dogmatically whether a rough monotheism or whether Totemism came first in order of evolution. This holds as good of Israel (if once totemistic) as it does of Pawnees or Kurnai. Stade has overlooked these well-known, facts, and his opinion filters into a cheap hand-book, and is set in examinations!
We also learn from Mr. Oxford’s popular manual of German Biblical conjecture that ‘Jehovah was not represented as a loving Father, but as a Being easily roused to wrath,’ a thing most incident to loving fathers.
Again, Mr. Oxford avers that ‘the old Israelites knew no distinction between physical and moral evil…. The conception of Jehovah’s holiness had nothing moral in it’ (p. 90). This rather contradicts Wellhausen: ‘In all ancient primitive peoples … religion furnishes a motive for law and morals; in the case of none did it become so with such purity and power as in that of the Israelites.'
We began by examining Mr. Huxley’s endeavours to find traces of ancestor-worship (in his opinion the origin of Jehovah-worship) among the Israelites. We next criticised Mr. Spencer’s efforts in the same quest, and the more dogmatic assertions of Mr. Oxford and Stade. We now return to Mr. Huxley’s account of the evolution from ghost-cult to the cult of Jehovah.
From the history of the Witch of Endor, which Mr. Huxley sees no reason to regard as other than a sincere statement of what really occurred, he gathers that the Witch cried out, ‘I see Elohim.’ These Elohim proved to be the phantasm of the dead Samuel. Moved by this hallucination the Witch uttered a veridical premonition, totally adverse to her own interests, and uncommonly dangerous to her life. This is, psychically, interesting. The point, however, is that _Elohim_ is a term equivalent to Red Indian _Wakan_, Fijian _Kahu_, Maori or Melanesian _Mana_, meaning the ‘supernatural,’ the vaguely powerful–in fact X. This particular example of _Elohim_ was a phantasm of the dead, but _Elohim_ is also used of the highest Divine Being, therefore the highest Divine Being is of the same genus as a ghost–so Mr. Huxley reasons. ‘The difference which was supposed to exist between the different Elohim was one of degree, not of kind.'
‘If Jehovah was thus supposed to differ only in degree from the undoubtedly zoomorphic or anthropomorphic “gods of the nations,” why is it to be assumed that he also was not thought to have a human shape?’ He _was_ thought to have a human shape, at one time, by some theorists: no doubt exists on that head. That, however, is not where we demur. We demur when, because an hallucination of the Witch of Endor (probably stilt incompletely developed) is called by her _Elohim_, therefore the highest _Elohim_ is said by Mr. Huxley to differ from a ghost only in degree, not in kind. _Elohim_, or _El_, the creative, differs from a ghost in kind, because he, in Hebrew belief, never was a ghost, he is immortal and without beginning.
Mr. Huxley now enforces his theory by a parallel between the religion of Tonga and the religion of Israel under the Judges. He quotes Mariner, whose statement avers that there is a supreme Tongan being: ‘of his origin they had no idea, rather supposing him to be eternal. His name is Ta-li-y-Tooboo = “Wait-there-Tooboo.”‘ ‘He is a great chief from the top of the sky down to the bottom of the earth.’ He, and other ‘_original_ gods’ of his making, are carefully and absolutely discriminated from the _atua_, which are ‘the human soul after its separation from the body.’ All Tongan gods are _atua_ (_Elohim_), but all _atua_ are not ‘original gods,’ unserved by priests, and unpropitiated by food or libation, like the highest God, Ta-li-y-Tooboo, the Eternal of Tonga. ‘He occasionally inspires the How’ (elective King), but often a How is not inspired at all by Ta-li-y-Tooboo, any more than Saul, at last, was inspired by Jehovah.
Surely there is a difference _in kind_ between an eternal, immortal God, and a ghost, though both are _atua_, or both are _Elohim_–the unknown X.
Many people call a ghost ‘supernatural;’ they also call God ‘supernatural,’ but the difference between a phantasm of a dead man and the Deity they would admit, I conceive, to be a difference of kind. We have shown, or tried to show, that the conceptions of ‘ghost’ and ‘Supreme Being’ are different, not only in kind, but in origin. The ghost comes from, and depends on, the animistic theory; the Supreme Being, as originally thought of, does not. All Gods are _Elohim, kalou, wakan_; all _Elohim, kalou, wakan_ are not Gods.
A ghost-god should receive food or libation. Mr. Huxley says that Ta-li-y-Tooboo did so. ‘If the god, like Ta-li-y-Tooboo, had no priest, then the chief place was left vacant, and was supposed to be occupied by the god himself. _When the first cup of Kava was filled_, the mataboole who acted as master of the ceremonies said, “Give it to your god,” and it was offered, though only as a matter of form.'
This is incorrect. In the case of Ta-li-y-Tooboo _’there is no cup filled for the god.’_ _’Before any cup is filled_ the man by the side of the bowl says: “The Kava is in the cup”‘ (which it is not), ‘and the mataboole answers, “Give it to your god;”‘ but the Kava is _not_ in the cup, and the Tongan Eternal receives no oblation.
The sacrifice, says Mr. Huxley, meant ‘that the god was either a deified ghost, or, at any rate, a being of like nature to these.' But as Ta-li-y-Tooboo had no sacrifice, contrary to Mr. Huxley’s averment, he was _not_ ‘a deified ghost, or a being of like nature to these.’ To the lower, non-ghostly Tongan gods the animistic habit of sacrifice had been extended, but not yet to the Supreme Being.
Ah, if Mr. Gladstone, or the Duke of Argyll, or some bishop had made a misstatement of this kind, how Mr. Huxley would have crushed him! But it is a mere error of careless reading, such as we all make daily.
It is manifest that we cannot prove Jehovah to be a ghost by the parallel of a Tongan god, who, by ritual and by definition, was _not_ a ghost. The proof therefore rests on the anthropomorphised pre-prophetic accounts, and on the ritual, of Jehovah. But man naturally ‘anthropises’ his deities: he does not thereby demonstrate that they were once ghosts.
As regards the sacrifices to Jehovah, the sweet savour which he was supposed to enjoy (contrary to the opinion of the Prophets), these sacrifices afford the best presumption that Jehovah was a ghost-god, or a god constructed on ghostly lines.
But we have shown that among the lowest races neither are ghosts worshipped by sacrifice, nor does the Supreme Being, Darumulun or Puluga, receive food offerings. We have also instanced many Supreme Beings of more advanced races, Ahone, and Dendid, and Nyankupon, who do not sniff the savour of any offerings. If then (as in the case of Taa-roa), a Supreme Being _does_ receive sacrifice, we may argue that a piece of animistic ritual, not connected with the Supreme Being in Australia or Andaman, not connected with his creed in Virginia or Africa (where ghost-gods do receive sacrifice), may in other regions be transferred from ghost-gods to the Supreme Being, who never was a ghost. There seems to be nothing incredible or illogical in the theory of such transference.
On a God who never was a ghost men may come to confer sacrifices (which are not made to Baiame and the rest) because, being in the habit of thus propitiating one set of bodiless powers, men may not think it civil or safe to leave another set of powers out. By his very nature, man must clothe all gods with some human passions and attributes, unless, like a large number of savages, he leaves his high God severely alone, and is the slave of fetishes and spectres. But that practice makes against the ghost-theory.
In the attempt to account thus, namely by transference, for the sacrifices to Jehovah, we are met by a difficulty of our own making. If the Israelites did not sacrifice to ancestors (as we have shown that there is very scant reason for supposing that they did), how could they transfer to Jehovah the rite which, by our hypothesis, they are not proved to have offered to ancestors?
This is certainly a hard problem, harder (or perhaps easier) because we know so very little of the early history of the Hebrews. According to their own traditions, Israel had been in touch with all manner of races much more advanced than themselves in material culture, and steeped in highly developed polytheistic Animism. According to their history, the Israelites ‘went a-whoring’ incorrigibly after strange gods. It is impossible, perhaps, to disentangle the foreign and the native elements.
It may therefore be tentatively suggested that early Israel had its Ahone in a Being perhaps not yet named Jehovah. Israel entertained, however, perhaps by reason of ‘nomadic habits,’ only the scantiest concern about ancestral ghosts. We then find an historical tradition of secular contact between Israel and Egypt, from which Israel emerges with Jehovah for God, and a system of sacrifices. Regarding Jehovah as a revived memory of the moral Supreme Being whom Israel must have known in extremely remote ages (unless Israel was less favoured than Australians, Bushmen, or Andamanese), we might look on the sacrifices to him as an adaptation from the practices of religion among races more settled than Israel, and more civilised.
Speculation on subjects so remote must be conjectural, but our suggestion would, perhaps, account for sacrifices to Jehovah, paid by a race which, by reason of ‘nomadic habits,’ was never much given to ancestor-worship, but had been in contact with great sacrificing, polytheistic civilisations. Mr. Huxley, however, while he seems to slur the essential distinction between ghost-gods and the Eternal, grants, later, that ‘there are very few people(s?) without additional gods, which cannot, with certainty, be accounted for as deified ancestors.’ Ta-li-y-Tooboo, of course, is one of these gods, as is Jehovah. Mr. Huxley gives no theory of _how_ these gods came into belief, except the suggestion that ‘the polytheistic theology has become modified by the selection of the cosmic or tribal god, as the only god to whom worship is due on the part of that nation,’ without prejudice to the right of other nations to worship other gods. This is ‘monolatry,’ and ‘the ethical code, often of a very high order, comes into closer relation with the theological creed,’ _why_, we are not informed. Nor do we learn out of what polytheistic deities Jehovah was selected, nor for what reason. The hypothesis, as usual, breaks down on the close relation between the ethical code and the theological creed, among low savages, with a relatively Supreme Being, but without ancestor-worship, and without polytheistic gods from whom to select a heavenly chief.
Whence came the moral element in the idea of Jehovah? Mr. Huxley supposes that, during their residence in the land of Goshen (and _a fortiori_ before it), the Israelites ‘knew nothing of Jehovah.' They were polytheistic idolaters. This follows, apparently, from Ezekiel xx. 5: ‘In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, _and made myself known unto them_ in the land of Egypt.’ The Biblical account is that the God of Moses’s fathers, the God of Abraham, enlightened Moses in Sinai, giving his name as ‘I am that I am’ (Exodus iii. 6, 14; translation uncertain). We are to understand that Moses, a religious reformer, revived an old, and, in the Egyptian bondage, a half-obliterated creed of the ancient nomadic Beni-Israel. They were no longer to ‘defile themselves with the idols of Egypt,’ as they had obviously done. We really know no more about the matter. Wellhausen says that Jehovah was ‘originally a family or tribal god, either of the family of Moses or of the tribe of Joseph.’ How a family could develop a Supreme Being all to itself, we are not informed, and we know of no such analogous case in the ethnographic field. Again, Jehovah was ‘only a special name of El, current within a powerful circle.’ And who was El? ‘Moses was not the first discoverer of the faith.’ Probably not, but Mr. Huxley seems to think that he was.
Wellhausen’s and other German ideas filter into popular traditions, as we saw, through ‘A Short Introduction to the History of Ancient Israel’ (pp. 19, 20), by the Rev. A.W. Oxford, M.A., Vicar of St. Luke’s, Soho. Here follows Mr. Oxford’s undeniably ‘short way with Jehovah.’ ‘Moses was the founder of the Israelite religion. Jehovah, his family or tribal god, perhaps originally the God of the Kenites, was taken as a tribal god by all the Israelite tribes…. That Jehovah was not the original god of Israel’ (as the Bible impudently alleges) ‘but was the god of the Kenites, we see mainly from Deut. xxxiii. 2, Judges v. 4, 5, and from the history of Jethro, who, according to Judges i. 16, was a Kenite.’
The first text says that, according to Moses, ‘the Lord came from Sinai,’ rose up from Seir, and shone from Mount Paran. The second text mentions Jehovah’s going up out of Seir and Sinai. The third text says that Jethro, Moses’s Kenite (or Midianite) father-in-law, dwelt among the people of Judah; Jethro being a priest of Midian. How all this proves that ‘Moses was a great impostor,’ as the poet says, and that Jehovah was not ‘the original God of Israel,’ but (1) Moses’s family or tribal god, or (2) ‘the god of the Kenites,’ I profess my inability to comprehend.
Wellhausen himself had explained Jehovah as ‘a family or tribal god, either of the family of Moses’ (tribe of Levi) ‘or of the tribe of Joseph.’ It seems to be all one to Mr. Oxford whether Jehovah was a god of Moses’s tribe or quite the reverse, ‘a Kenite god.’ Yet it really makes a good deal of difference! For in a complex of tribes, speaking one language, it is to the last degree unexampled (within my knowledge) that one tribe, or family, possesses, all to itself, a family god who is also the Creator and is later accepted as such by all the other tribes. One may ask for instances of such a thing in any known race, in any stage of culture. Peru will not help us–not the Creator, Pachacamac, but the Sun, is the god of the Inca family. If, on the other hand, Jehovah was a Kenite god, the Kenites were a half-Arab Semitic people connected with Israel, and may very well have retained traditions of a Supreme Being which, in Egypt, were likely to be dimmed, as Exodus asserts, by foreign religions. The learned Stade, to be sure, may disbelieve in Israel’s sojourn in Egypt, but that revolutionary opinion is not necessarily binding on us and involves a few difficulties.
Have critics and manual-makers no knowledge of the science of comparative religion? Are they unaware that peoples infinitely more backward than Israel was at the date supposed have already moral Supreme Beings acknowledged over vast tracts of territory? Have they a tittle of positive evidence that early Israel was benighted beyond the darkness of Bushmen, Andamanese, Pawnees, Blackfeet, Hurons, Indians of British Guiana, Dinkas, Negroes, and so forth? Unless Israel had this rare ill-luck (which Israel denies) of course Israel must have had a secular tradition, however dim, of a Supreme Being. We must ask for a single instance of a family or tribe, in a complex of semi-barbaric but not savage tribes of one speech, owning a private deity who happened to be the Maker and Ruler of the world, and, as such, was accepted by all the tribes. Jehovah came out from Sinai, because, there having been a Theophany at Sinai, that mountain was regarded as one of his seats.
We have seen that it seemed to make no difference to Mr. Oxford whether Jehovah was a god of Moses’s family or tribe or a Kenite god. The former (with the alternative of _Joseph’s_ family or tribal god) is Wellhausen’s theory. The latter is Stade’s. Each is inconsistent with the other; Wellhausen’s fancy is inconsistent with all that we know of religious development: Stade’s is hopelessly inconsistent with Exodus iv. 24-26, where Moses’s Kenite wife reproaches him for a ceremony of his, not of her, religion. Therefore the Kenite differed from the Hebrew _sacra_.
The passage is very extraordinary, and is said by critics to be very archaic. After the revelation of the Burning Bush, Jehovah met Moses and his Kenite wife, Zipporah, and their child, at a khan. Jehovah was anxious to slay Moses, nobody ever knew why, so Zipporah appeased Jehovah’s wrath by circumcising her boy _with a flint_. ‘A bloody husband art thou to me,’ she said, ‘because of the circumcision’–an Egyptian, but clearly not a Kenite practice. Whatever all this may mean, it does not look as if Zipporah expected such rites as circumcision in the faith of a Kenite husband, nor does it favour the idea that the _sacra_ of Moses were of Kenite origin.
Without being a scholar, or an expert in Biblical criticism, one may protest against the presentation to the manual-reading intellectual middle classes of a theory so vague, contradictory, and (by all analogy) so impossible as Mr. Oxford collects from German writers. Of course, the whole subject, so dogmatically handled, is mere matter of dissentient opinion among scholars. Thus M. Renan derives the name of Jehovah from Assyria, from ‘Aramaised Chaldaeanism.' In that case the name was long anterior to the residence in Egypt. But again, perhaps Jehovah was a local god of Sinai, or a provincial deity in Palestine. He was known to very ancient sages, who preferred such names as El Shaddai and Elohim. In short, we have no certainty on the subject.
I need hardly say, perhaps, that I have no antiquated prejudice against Biblical criticism. Assuredly the Bible must be studied like any other collection of documents, linguistically, historically, and in the light of the comparative method. The leading ideas of Wellhausen, for example, are conspicuous for acumen: the humblest layman can see that. But one may protest against criticising the Bible, or Homer, by methods like those which prove Shakspeare to have been Bacon. One must protest, too, against the presentation of inconsistent and probably baseless critical hypotheses in the dogmatic brevity of cheap handbooks.
Yet again, whence comes the moral element in Jehovah? Mr. Huxley thinks that it possibly came from the ethical practice and theory of Egypt. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, ‘a sort of Guide to Spirit Land,’ there are moral chapters; the ghost tells his judges in Amenti what sins he has _not_ committed. Many of these sins are forbidden in the Ten Commandments.
They are just as much forbidden in the nascent morality of savage peoples. Moses did not need the Book of the Dead to teach him elementary morals. From the mysteries of Mtanga he might have learned, also, had he been present, the virtue of unselfish generosity. If the creed of Jehovah, or of El, retained only as much of ethics as is under divine sanction among the Kurnai, adaptation from the Book of the Dead was superfluous.
The care for the departed, the ritual of the Ka, the intense pre-occupation with the future life, which, far more than its morality, are the essential characteristics of the Book of the Dead–Israel cared for none of these animistic things, brought none of these, or very little of these, out of the land of Egypt. Moses was certainly very eclectic; he took only the morality of Egypt. But as Mr. Huxley advances this opinion tentatively, as having no secure historical authority about Moses, it hardly answers our question, Whence came the moral element in Jehovah? One may surmise that it was the survival of the primitive divinely sanctioned ethics of the ancient savage ancestors of the Israelite, known to them, as to the Kurnai, before they had a pot, or a bronze knife, or seed to sow, or sheep to herd, or even a tent over their heads. In the counsels of eternity Israel was chosen to keep burning, however obscured with smoke of sacrifice, that flame which illumines the darkest places of the earth, ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’–a flame how litten a light whence shining, history cannot inform us, and anthropology can but conjecture. Here scientific nescience is wiser than the cocksureness of popular science, with her ghosts and fetish-stones, and gods that sprang from ghosts, which ghosts, however, could not be developed, owing to nomadic habits.
It appears, then, if our general suggestion meets with any acceptance, that what occurred in the development of Hebrew religion was precisely what the Bible tells us did occur. This must necessarily seem highly paradoxical to our generation; but the whole trend of our provisional system makes in favour of the paradox. If savage nomadic Israel had the higher religious conceptions proved to exist among several of the lowest known races, these conceptions might be revived by a leader of genius. They might, in a crisis of tribal fortunes, become the rallying point of a new national sentiment. Obscured, in some degree, by acquaintance with ‘the idols of Egypt,’ and restricted and localised by the very national sentiment which they fostered, these conceptions were purified and widened far beyond any local, tribal, or national restrictions–widened far as the _flammantia moenia mundi_–by the historically unique genius of the Prophets. Blended with the doctrine of our Lord, and recommended by the addition of Animism in its pure and priceless form–the reward of faith, hope, and charity in eternal life–the faith of Israel enlightened the world.
All this is precisely what occurred, according to the Old and New Testaments. All this is just what, on our hypothesis, might be expected to occur if, out of the many races which, in their most backward culture, had a rude conception of a Moral Creative Being, relatively supreme, one race endured the education of Israel, showed the comparative indifference of Israel to Animism and ghost-gods, listened to the Prophets of Israel, and gave birth to a greater than Moses and the Prophets.
To this result the Logos, as Socrates says, has led us, by the path of anthropology.
[Footnote 1: _Science and Hebrew Tradition_.]
[Footnote 2: Op. cit. p. 361.]
[Footnote 3:_ Science and Hebrew Tradition_. p. 308.]
[Footnote 4: _Prin. Soc_. p. 306.]
[Footnote 5: _The Tshi-speaking Races_, p. 183.]
[Footnote 6: Some Australian tribes have cemeteries, and I have found one native witness, King Billy, to the celebration of the mysteries near one of these burying-places. I have not discovered other evidence to this effect, though I have looked for it. The spot selected is usually ‘near the camp,’ and the place for so large a camp in chosen, naturally, where the supply of food is adequate.]
[Footnote 7: Cf. the Aryans, _Principles of Sociology_, p. 314.]
[Footnote 8: _Principles_, p. 316.]
[Footnote 9: Ibid. p. 317.]
[Footnote 10: Jeremiah xvi. 6, 7.]
[Footnote 11: Leviticus xix. 28.]
[Footnote 12: Deuteronomy xxxiv. 6.]
[Footnote 13: _Short Introduction to History of Ancient Israel_, pp. 83, 84.]
[Footnote 14: Stade i 403.]
[Footnote 15: Stade, i. 406.]
[Footnote 16: Wellhausen, _History of Israel_, p. 437. Mr. Oxford’s book is only noticed here because it is meant for n popular manual. As Mr. Henry Foker says, ‘it seems a pity that the clergy should interfere in these matters.’]
[Footnote 17: _Science and Hebrew Tradition_, p. 299.]
[Footnote 18: II. 127.]
[Footnote 19: _Science and Hebrew Tradition_, p. 331.]
[Footnote 20: Mariner, ii. 205.]
[Footnote 21: Op. cit. p. 335.]
[Footnote 22: Of course, it in understood that Israel (in the dark backward and abysm of time) may also have been totemistic, like the Australians, as texts pointed out by Mr. Robertson Smith seem to hint. There was also worship of teraphim, respect paid to stones and trees, and so forth.]
[Footnote 23: _Science and Hebrew Tradition_, p. 349.]
[Footnote 24: P. 351.]
[Footnote 25: _History of Israel_, p. 443 note.]
[Footnote 26: _Religion of Semites_.]
[Footnote 27: _Geschichte des Volkes Israel_, i. 180.]
[Footnote 28: _Histoire du Peuple d’Israel_, citing Schrader, p. 23.]
[Footnote 29: Op. cit. p. 85]
[Footnote 30: See Professor Robertson’s _Early Religion of Israel_ for a list of these conjectures, and, generally, for criticisms of the occasional vagaries of critics.]
We may now glance backward at the path which we have tried to cut through the jungles of early religions. It is not a highway, but the track of a solitary explorer; and this essay pretends to be no more than a sketch–not an exhaustive survey of creeds. Its limitations are obvious, but may here be stated. The higher and even the lower polytheisms are only alluded to in passing, our object being to keep well in view the conception of a Supreme, or practically Supreme, Being, from the lowest stages of human culture up to Christianity. In polytheism that conception is necessarily obscured, showing itself dimly either in the _Prytanis_, or President of the Immortals, such as Zeus; or in Fate, behind and above the Immortals; or in Mr. Max Mueller’s _Henotheism_, where the god addressed–Indra, or Soma, or Agni–is, for the moment, envisaged as supreme, and is adored in something like a monotheistic spirit; or, finally, in the etherealised deity of advanced philosophic speculation.
It has not been necessary, for our purpose, to dwell on these civilised religions. Granting our hypothesis of an early Supreme Being among savages, obscured later by ancestor-worship and ghost-gods, but not often absolutely lost to religious tradition, the barbaric and the civilised polytheisms easily take their position in line, and are easily intelligible. Space forbids a discussion of all known religions; only typical specimens have been selected. Thus, nothing has been said of the religion of the great Chinese empire. It appears to consist, on its higher plane, of the worship of Heaven as a great fetish-god–a worship which may well have begun in days, as Dr. Brinton says, ‘long ere man had asked himself, “Are the heavens material and God spiritual?”‘–perhaps, for all we know, before the idea of ‘spirit’ had been evolved. Thus, if it contains nothing more august, the Chinese religion is, so far, beneath that of the Zunis, or the creed in Taa-roa, in Beings who are eternal, who were before earth was or sky was. The Chinese religion of Heaven is also coloured by Chinese political conditions; Heaven (Tien) corresponds to the Emperor, and tends to be confounded with Shang-ti, the Emperor above. ‘Dr. Legge charges Confucius,’ says Mr. Tylor, ‘with an inclination to substitute, in his religious teaching, the name of Tien, Heaven, for that known to more ancient religion, and used in more ancient books–Shang-ti, the personal ruling deity.’ If so, China too has its ancient Supreme Being, who is not a divinised aspect of nature.
But Mr. Tylor’s reading, in harmony with his general theory, is different:
‘It seems, rather, that the sage was, in fact, upholding the tradition of the ancient faith, thus acting according to the character on which he prided himself–that of a transmitter, not a maker, a preserver of old knowledge, not a new revealer.'
This, of course, is purely a question of evidence, to be settled by Sinologists. If the personal Supreme Being, Bhang-ti, occupies in older documents the situation held by Tien (Heaven) in Confucius’s later system, why are we to say that Confucius, by putting forward Heaven in place of Bhang-ti, was restoring an older conception? Mr. Tylor’s affection for his theory leads him, perhaps, to that opinion; while my affection for my theory leads me to prefer documentary evidence in its favour.
The question can only be settled by specialists. As matters stand, it seems to me probable that ancient China possessed a Supreme Personal Being, more remote and original than Heaven, just as the Zunis do. On the lower plane, Chinese religion is overrun, as everyone knows, by Animism and ancestor-worship. This is so powerful that it has given rise to a native theory of Euhemerism. The departmental deities of Chinese polytheism are explained by the Chinese on Euhemeristic principles:
‘According to legend, the War God, or Military Sage, was once, in human life, a distinguished soldier; the Swine God was a hog-breeder who lost his pigs and died of sorrow; the God of Gamblers was _un decave_.'
These are not statements of fact, but of Chinese Euhemeristic theory. On that hypothesis, Confucius should now be a god; but of course he is not; his spirit is merely localised in his temple, where the Emperor worships him twice a year as ancestral spirits are worshipped.
Every theorist will force facts into harmony with his system, but I do not see that the Chinese facts are contrary to mine. On the highest plane is either a personal Supreme Being, Shang-ti, or there is Tien, Heaven (with Earth, parent of men), neither of them necessarily owing, in origin, anything to Animism. Then there is the political reflection of the Emperor on Religion (which cannot exist where there is no Emperor, King, or Chief, and therefore must be late), there is the animistic rabble of spirits ancestral or not, and there is departmental polytheism. The spirits are, of course, fed and furnished by men in the usual symbolical way. Nothing shows or hints that Shang-ti is merely an imaginary idealised first ancestor. Indeed, about all such explanations of the Supreme Being (say among the Kurnai) as an idealised imaginary first ancestor, M. Reville justly observes as follows: ‘Not only have we seen that, in wide regions of the uncivilised world, the worship of ancestors has invaded a domain previously occupied by “Naturism” and Animism properly so called, that it is, therefore, posterior to these; but, farther, we do not understand, in Mr. Spencer’s system, why, in so many places, the first ancestor is the Maker, if not the Creator of the world, Master of life and death, and possessor of divine powers, not held by any of his descendants. This proves that it was not the first ancestor who became God, in the belief of his descendants, but much rather the Divine Maker and Beginner of all, who, in the creed of his adorers, became the first ancestor.'
Our task has been limited, in this way, mainly to examination of the religion of some of the very lowest races, and of the highest world-religious, such as Judaism. The historical aspect of Christianity, as arising in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, would demand a separate treatise. This would, in part, be concerned with the attempts to find in the narratives concerning our Lord, a large admixture of the mythology and ritual connected with the sacrificed _Rex Nemorensis_, and whatever else survives in peasant folk-lore of spring and harvest.
After these apologies for the limitations of this essay, we may survey the backward track. We began by showing that savages may stumble, and have stumbled, on theories not inconsistent with science, but not till recently discovered by science. The electric origin of the Aurora Borealis (whether absolutely certain or not) was an example; another was the efficacy of ‘suggestion,’ especially for curative purposes. It was, therefore, hinted that, if savages blundered (if you please) into a belief in God and the Soul, however obscurely envisaged, these beliefs were not therefore necessarily and essentially false. We then stated our purpose of examining the alleged supernormal phenomena, savage or civilised, which, on Mr. Tylor’s hypothesis, help to originate the conception of ‘spirits.’ We defended the nature of our evidence, as before anthropologists, by showing that, for the savage belief in the supernormal phenomena, we have exactly the kind of evidence on which all anthropological science reposes. The relative weakness of that evidence, our need of more and better evidence, we would be the very last to deny, indeed it is part of our case. Our existing evidence will hardly support any theory of religion. Anyone who is in doubt on that head has only to read M. Reville’s ‘Les Religions des Peuples Non-Civilises,’ under the heads ‘Melanesiens,’ ‘Mincopies,’ ‘Les Australiens’ (ii. 116-143), when he will observe that this eminent French authority is ignorant of the facts about these races here produced. In 1883 they had not come within his ken. Such minute and careful inquiries by men closely intimate with the peoples concerned, as Dr. Codrington’s, Mr. Hewitt’s, Mr. Man’s, and the authorities compiled by Mr. Brough Smyth, were unfamiliar to M. Reville, Thus, in turn, new facts, or facts unknown to us, may upset my theory. This peril is of the essence of scientific theorising on the history of religion.
Having thus justified our evidence for the savage _belief_ in supernormal phenomena, as before anthropologists, we turned to a court of psychologists in defence of our evidence for the _fact_ of exactly the same supernormal phenomena in civilised experience. We pointed out that for subjective psychological experiences, say of telepathy, we had precisely the same evidence as all non-experimental psychology must and does rest upon. Nay, we have even experimental evidence, in experiments in thought-transference. We have chiefly, however, statements of subjective experience. For the coincidence of such experience with unknown events we have such evidence as, in practical life, is admitted by courts of law.
Experimental psychology, of course, relies on experiments conducted under the eyes of the expert, for example, by hypnotism or otherwise, under Dr. Hack Tuke, Professor James, M. Richet, M. Janet. The evidence is the conduct rather than the statements of the subject. There is also physiological experiment, by vivisection (I regret to say) and post-mortem dissection. But non-experimental psychology reposes on the self-examination of the student, and on the statements of psychological experiences made to him by persons whom he thinks he can trust. The psychologist, however, if he be, as Mr. Galton says, ‘unimaginative in the strict but unusual sense of that ambiguous word,’ needs Mr. Galton’s ‘word of warning.’ He is asked ‘to resist a too frequent tendency to assume that the minds of every other sane and healthy person must be like his own. The psychologist should inquire into the minds of others as he should into those of animals of different races, and be prepared to find much to which his own experience can afford little if any clue.' Mr. Galton had to warn the unimaginative psychologist in this way, because he was about to unfold his discovery of the faculty which presents numbers to some minds as visualised coloured numerals, ‘so vivid as to be undistinguishable from reality, except by the aid of accidental circumstances.’
Mr. Galton also found in his inquiries that occasional hallucinations of the sane are much more prevalent than he had supposed, or than science had ever taken into account. All this was entirely new to psychologists, many of whom still (at least many popular psychologists of the press) appear to be unacquainted with the circumstances. One of them informed me, quite gravely, that ‘_he_ never had an hallucination,’ therefore–_his_ mind being sane and healthy–the inference seemed to be that no sane and healthy mind was ever hallucinated. Mr. Galton has replied to _that_ argument! His reply covers, logically, the whole field of psychological faculties little regarded, for example, by Mr. Sully, who is not exactly an imaginative psychologist.
It covers the whole field of automatism (as in automatic writing) perhaps of the divining rod, certainly of crystal visions and of occasional hallucinations, as Mr. Galton, in this last case, expressly declares. Psychologists at least need not be told that such faculties cannot, any more than other human faculties, be always evoked for study and experiment. Our evidence for these faculties and experiences, then, is usually of the class on which the psychologist relies. But, when the psychologist, following Leibnitz, Sir William Hamilton, and Kant, discusses the Subconscious (for example, knowledge, often complex and abundant, unconsciously acquired) we demonstrated by examples that the psychologist will contentedly repose on evidence which is not evidence at all. He will swallow an undated, unlocalised legend of Coleridge, reaching Coleridge on the testimony of rumour, and told at least twenty years after the unverified occurrences. Nay, the psychologist will never dream of procuring contemporary evidence for such a monstrous statement as that an ignorant German wench unconsciously acquired and afterwards subconsciously reproduced huge cantles of dead languages, by virtue of having casually heard a former master recite or read aloud from Hebrew and Greek books. This legend do psychologists accept on no evidence at all, because it illustrates a theory which is, doubtless, a very good theory, though, in this case, carried to an extent ‘imagination boggles at.’
Here the psychologist may reply that much less evidence will content him for a fact to which he possesses, at least, analogies in accredited experience, than for a fact (say telepathic crystal-gazing) to which _he_ knows, in experience, nothing analogous. Thus, for the mythical German handmaid, he has the analogy of languages learned in childhood, or passages got up by rote, being forgotten and brought; back to ordinary conscious memory, or delirious memory, during an illness, or shortly before death. Strong in these analogies, the psychologist will venture to accept a case of language _not_ learned, but reproduced in delirious memory, on no evidence at all. But, not possessing analogies for telepathic crystal-gazing, he will probably decline to examine ours.
I would first draw his attention to the difference between revived memory of a language once known (Breton and Welsh in known examples), or learned by rote (as Greek, in an anecdote of Goethe’s), and verbal reproduction of a language _not_ known or learned by rote but overheard–each passage probably but once–as somebody recited fragments. In this instance (that of the mythical maid) ‘the difficulty … is that the original impressions had not the strength–that is, the distinctness–of the reproduction. An unknown language overheard is a mere sound….'
The distinction here drawn is so great and obvious that for proof of the German girl’s case we need better evidence than Coleridge’s rumour of a rumour, cited, as it is, by Hamilton, Maudsley, Carpenter, Du Prel, and the common run of manuals.
Not that I deny, _a priori_, the possibility of Coleridge’s story. As Mr. Huxley says, ‘strictly speaking, I am unaware of anything that has a right to the title of an “impossibility,” except a contradiction in terms.' To the horror of some of his admirers, Mr. Huxley would not call the existence of demons and demoniacal possession ‘impossible.' Mr. Huxley was no blind follower of Hume. I, too, do not call Coleridge’s tale ‘impossible,’ but, unlike the psychologists, I refuse to accept it on ‘Bardolph’s security.’ And I contrast their conduct, in swallowing Coleridge’s legend, with their refusal (if they do refuse) to accept the evidence for the automatic writing of not-consciously-known languages (as of eleventh-century French poetry and prose by Mr. Schiller), or their refusal (if they do refuse) to look at the evidence for telepathic crystal-gazing, or any other supernormal exhibitions of faculty, attested by living and honourable persons.
I wish I saw a way for orthodox unimaginative psychology out of its dilemma.
After offering to anthropologists and psychologists these considerations, which I purposely reiterate, we examined historically the relations of science to ‘the marvellous,’ showing for example how Hume, following his _a priori_ theory of the impossible, would have declined to investigate, because they were ‘miraculous,’ certain occurrences which, to Charcot, were ordinary incidents in medical experience.
We next took up and criticised the anthropological theory of religion as expounded by Mr. Tylor. We then collected from his work a series of alleged supernormal phenomena in savage belief, all making for the foundation of animistic religion. Through several chapters we pursued the study of these phenomena, choosing savage instances, and setting beside them civilised testimony to facts of experience. Our conclusion was that such civilised experiences, if they occurred, as they are universally said to do, among savages, would help to originate, and would very strongly support the savage doctrine of souls, the base of religion in the theory of English anthropologists. But apart from the savage doctrine of ‘spirits’ (whether they exist or not), the evidence points to the existence of human faculties not allowed for in the current systems of materialism.
We next turned from the subject of supernormal experiences to the admitted facts about early religion. Granting the belief in souls and ghosts and spirits, however attained, how was the idea of a Supreme Being to be evolved out of that belief? We showed that, taking the creed as found in the lowest races, the processes put forward by anthropologists could not account for its evolution. The facts would not fit into, but contradicted, the anthropological theory. The necessary social conditions postulated were not found in places where the belief is found. Nay, the necessary social conditions for the evolution oven of ancestor-worship were confessedly not found where the supposed ultimate result of ancestor-worship, the belief in a Supreme Being, flourished abundantly.
Again, the belief in a Supreme Being, _ex hypothesi_ the latest in evolution, therefore the most potent, was often shelved and half forgotten, or neglected, or ridiculed, where the belief in Animism (_ex hypothesi_ the earlier) was in full vigour. We demonstrated by facts that Anthropology had simplified her task by ignoring that essential feature, _the prevalent alliance of ethics with religion_, in the creed of the lowest and least developed races. Here, happily, we have not only the evidence of an earnest animist, Mr. Im Thurn, on our side, but that of a distinguished Semitic scholar, the late Mr. Robertson Smith. ‘We see that even in its rudest forms Religion was a moral force, the powers that man reveres were on the side of social order and moral law; and the fear of the gods was a motive to enforce the laws of society, which were also the laws of morality.' Wellhausen has already been cited to the same effect.
However, the facts proving that truth, and unselfishness, surely a large element of Christian ethics, are divinely sanctioned in savage religion are more potent than the most learned opinion on that side.
Our next step was to examine in detail several religions of the most remote and backward races, of races least contaminated with Christian or Islamite teaching. Our evidence, when possible, was derived from ancient and secret tribal mysteries, and sacred native hymns. We found a relatively Supreme Being, a Maker, sanctioning morality, and unpropitiated by sacrifice, among peoples who go in dread of ghosts and wizards, but do not always worship ancestors. We showed that the anthropological theory of the evolution of God out of ghosts in no way explains the facts in the savage conception of a Supreme Being. We then argued that the notion of ‘spirit,’ derived from ghost-belief, was not logically needed for the conception of a Supreme Being in its earliest form, was detrimental to the conception, and, by much evidence, was denied to be part of the conception. The Supreme Being, thus regarded, may be (though he cannot historically be shown to be) prior to the first notion of ghost and separable souls.
We then traced the idea of such a Supreme Being through the creeds of races rising in the scale of material culture, demonstrating that he was thrust aside by the competition of ravenous but serviceable ghosts, ghost-gods, and shades of kingly ancestors, with their magic and their bloody rites. These rites and the animistic conception behind them were next, in rare cases, reflected or refracted back on the Supreme Eternal. Aristocratic institutions fostered polytheism with the old Supreme Being obscured, or superseded, or enthroned as Emperor-God, or King-God. We saw how, and in what sense, the old degeneration theory could be defined and defended. We observed traces of degeneration in certain archaic aspects of the faith in Jehovah; and we proved that (given a tolerably pure low savage belief in a Supreme Being) that belief _must_ degenerate, under social conditions, as civilisation advanced. Next, studying what we may call the restoration of Jehovah, under the great Prophets of Israel, we noted that they, and Israel generally, were strangely indifferent to that priceless aspect of Animism, the care for the future happiness, as conditioned by the conduct of the individual soul. That aspect had been neglected neither by the popular instinct nor the priestly and philosophic reflection of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Christianity, last, combined what was good in Animism, the care for the individual soul as an immortal spirit under eternal responsibilities, with the One righteous Eternal of prophetic Israel, and so ended the long, intricate, and mysterious theological education of humanity. Such is our theory, which does not, to us, appear to lack evidence, nor to be inconsistent (as the anthropological theory is apparently inconsistent) with the hypothesis of evolution.
All this, it must be emphatically insisted on, is propounded ‘under all reserves.’ While these four stages, say (1) the Australian unpropitiated Moral Being, (2) the African neglected Being, still somewhat moral, (3) the relatively Supreme Being involved in human sacrifice, as in Polynesia, and (4) the Moral Being reinstated philosophically, or in Israel, do suggest steps in evolution, we desire to base no hard-and-fast system of ascending and descending degrees upon our present evidence. The real object is to show that facts may be regarded in this light, as well as in the light thrown by the anthropological theory, in the hands whether of Mr. Tylor, Mr. Spencer, M. Reville, or Mr. Jevons, whose interesting work comes nearest to our provisional hypothesis.
We only ask for suspense of judgment, and for hesitation in accepting the dogmas of modern manual makers. An exception to them certainly appears to be Mr. Clodd, if we may safely attribute to him a review (signed C.) of Mr. Grant Allen’s ‘Evolution of the Idea of God.’
‘We fear that all our speculations will remain summaries of probabilities. No documents are extant to enlighten us; we have only mobile, complex and confused ideas, incarnate in eccentric, often contradictory theories. That this character attaches to such ideas should keep us on guard against framing theories whose symmetry is sometimes their condemnation’ (‘Daily Chronicle,’ December 10, 1897).
Nothing excites my own suspicion of my provisional hypothesis more than its symmetry. It really seems to fit the facts, as they appear to me, too neatly. I would suggest, however, that ancient savage sacred hymns, and practices in the mysteries, are really rather of the nature of ‘documents;’ more so, at least, than the casual observations of some travellers, or the gossip extracted from natives much in contact with Europeans.
Supposing that the arguments in this essay met with some acceptance, what effect would they have, if any, on our thoughts about religion? What is their practical tendency? The least dubious effect would be, I hope, to prevent us from accepting the anthropological theory of religion, or any other theory, as a foregone conclusion, I have tried to show how dim is our knowledge, how weak, often, is our evidence, and that, finding among the lowest savages all the elements of all religions already developed in different degrees, we cannot, historically, say that one is earlier than another. This point of priority we can never historically settle. If we met savages with ghosts and no gods, we could not be sure but that they once possessed a God, and forgot him. If we met savages with a God and no ghosts, we could not be historically certain that a higher had not obliterated a lower creed. For these reasons dogmatic decisions about the _origin_ of religion seem unworthy of science. They will appear yet more futile to any student who goes so far with me as to doubt whether the highest gods of the lowest races could be developed, or can be shown to have been developed, by way of the ghost-theory. To him who reaches this point the whole animistic doctrine of ghosts as the one germ of religion will appear to be imperilled. The main practical result, then, will be hesitation about accepting the latest scientific opinion, even when backed by great names, and published in little primers.
On the hypothesis here offered to criticism there are two chief sources of Religion, (1) the belief, how attained we know not, in a powerful, moral, eternal, omniscient Father and Judge of men; (2) the belief (probably developed out of experiences normal and supernormal) in somewhat of man which may survive the grave. This second belief is not, logically, needed as given material for the first, in its apparently earliest form. It may, for all we know, be the later of the two beliefs, chronologically. But this belief, too, was necessary to religion; first, as finally supplying a formula by which advancing intellects could conceive of the Mighty Being involved in the former creed; next, as elevating man’s conception of his own nature. By the second belief he becomes the child of the God in whom, perhaps, he already trusted, and in whom he has his being, a being not destined to perish with the death of the body. Man is thus not only the child but the heir of God, a ‘nurseling of immortality,’ capable of entering into eternal life. On the moral influence of this belief it is superfluous to dwell.
From the most backward races historically known to us, to those of our own status, all have been more or less washed by the waters of this double stream of religion. The Hebrews, as far as our information goes, were chiefly influenced by the first belief, the faith in the Eternal, and had comparatively slight interest in whatever posthumous fortunes might await individual souls. Other civilised peoples, say the Greeks, extended the second, or animistic theory, into forms of beautiful fantasy, the material of art. Yet both in Greece and Rome, as we learn from the ‘Republic’ (Books i. iii.) of Plato, and from the whole scope of the poem of Lucretius, and from the Painted Porch at Delphi, answering to the frescoes of the Pisan Campo Santo, there existed, among the people, what was unknown to the Hebrews, an extreme anxiety about the posthumous fortunes and possible punishment of the individual soul. A kind of pardoners and indulgence-sellers made a living out of that anxiety in Greece. For the Greek pardoners, who testify to an interest in the future happiness of the soul not found in Israel, Mr. Jevons may be cited:
‘The _agyrtes_ professed by means of his rites to purify men from the sins they had themselves committed … and so to secure to those whom he purified an exemption from the evil lot in the next world which awaited those who were not initiated.’ ‘A magic mirror’ (crystal-gazing) ‘was among his properties.'
In Egypt a moral life did not suffice to secure immortal reward. There was also required knowledge of the spells that baffle the demons who, in Amenti, as in the Red Indian and Polynesian Hades, lie in wait for souls. That knowledge was contained in copies of the Book of the Dead–the _gagne-pain_ of priests and scribes.
Early Israel, having, as far as we know, a singular lack of interest in the future of the soul, was born to give himself up to developing, undisturbed, the theistic conception, the belief in a righteous Eternal.
Polytheism everywhere–in Greece especially–held of the animistic conception, with its freakish, corruptible deities. Greek philosophy could hardly restore that Eternal for whom the Prophets battled in Israel; whom some of the lowest savages know and fear; whom the animistic theory or cult everywhere obscures with its crowd of hungry, cruel, interested, food-propitiated ghost-gods. In the religion of our Lord and the Apostles the two currents of faith in one righteous God and care for the individual soul were purified and combined. ‘God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ Man also is a spirit, and, as such, is in the hands of a God not to be propitiated by man’s sacrifice or monk’s ritual. We know how this doctrine was again disturbed by the Animism, in effect, and by the sacrifice and ritual of the Mediaeval Church. Too eager ‘to be all things to all men,’ the august and beneficent Mother of Christendom readmitted the earlier Animism in new forms of saint-worship, pilgrimage, and popular ceremonial–things apart from, but commonly supposed to be substitutes for, righteousness of life and the selflessness enjoined in savage mysteries. For the softness, no less than for the hardness of men’s hearts, these things were ordained: such as masses for the beloved dead.
Modern thought has deanthropomorphised what was left of anthropomorphic in religion, and, in the end, has left us for God, at most, ‘a stream of tendency making for righteousness,’ or an energy unknown and unknowable–the ghost of a ghost. For the soul, by virtue of his belief in which man raised himself in his own esteem, and, more or less, in ethical standing, is left to us a negation or a wistful doubt.
To this part of modern scientific teaching the earlier position of this essay suggests a demurrer. By aid of the tradition of and belief in supernormal phenomena among the low races, by attested phenomena of the same kinds of experience among the higher races, I have ventured to try to suggest that ‘we are not merely brain;’ that man has his part, we know not how, in we know not what–has faculties and vision scarcely conditioned by the limits of his normal purview. The evidence of all this deals with matters often trivial, like the electric sparks rubbed from the deer’s hide, which yet are cognate with an illimitable, essential potency of the universe. Not being able to explain away these facts, or, in this place, to offer what would necessarily be a premature theory of them, I regard them, though they seem shadowy, as grounds of hope, or, at least, as tokens that men need not yet despair. Not now for the first time have weak things of the earth been chosen to confound things strong. Nor have men of this opinion been always the weakest; not among the feeblest are Socrates, Pascal, Napoleon, Cromwell, Charles Gordon, St. Theresa, and Jeanne d’Arc.
I am perfectly aware that the ‘superstitiousness’ of the earlier part of this essay must injure any effect which the argument of the latter part might possibly produce on critical opinion. Yet that argument in no way depends on what we think about the phenomena–normal, supernormal, or illusory–on which the theory of ghost, soul, or spirit may have been based. It exhibits religion as probably beginning in a kind of Theism, which is then superseded, in some degree, or even corrupted, by Animism in all its varieties. Finally, the exclusive Theism of Israel receives its complement in a purified Animism, and emerges as Christianity.
Quite apart, too, from any favourable conclusion which may, by some, be drawn from the phenomena, and quite apart from the more general opinion that all modern instances are compact of imposture, malobservation, mythopoeic memory, and superstitious bias, the systematic comparison of civilised and savage beliefs and alleged experiences of this kind cannot wisely be neglected by Anthropology. _Humani nihil a se alienum putat._
[Footnote 1: _Prim. Cult_. ii. 352.]
[Footnote 2: Abridged from _Prim. Cult_. ii. 119.]
[Footnote 3: _Histoire des Religions_, ii. 237, note. M. Reville’s system, it will be observed, differs from mine in that he finds the first essays of religion in worship of aspects of nature (_naturisme_) and in ‘animism properly so called,’ by which be understands the instinctive, perhaps not explicitly formulated, sense that all things whatever are animated and personal. I have not remarked this aspect of belief as much prevalent in the most backward races, and I do not try to look behind what we know historically about early religion. I so far agree with M. Reville as to think the belief in ghosts and spirits (Mr. Tylor’s ‘Animism’) not necessarily postulated in the original indeterminate conception of the Supreme Being, or generally, in ‘Original Gods.’ But M. Reville says, ‘L’objet de la religion humaine est necessairement un esprit’ (_Prolegomenes_, 107). This does not seem consistent with his own theory.]
[Footnote 4: Compare Mr. Frazer’s _Golden Bough_ with Mr. Grant Allen’s _Evolution of the Idea of God_.]
[Footnote 5: _J.A.I_. x. 85.]
[Footnote 6: Massey. Note to Du Prel. _Philosophy of mysticism_, ii 10.]
[Footnote 7: _Science and Christian Tradition_, p. 197]
[Footnote 8: Op. cit. p. 195.]
[Footnote 9: _Religion of the Semites_, p. 53.]
[Footnote 10: The hypothesis of St. Paul seems not the most unsatisfactory, Rom. i. 19.]
[Footnote 11: _Introd. to Hist. of Rel_. p. 333; Aristoph. _Frogs_, 159.]
OPPOSITIONS OF SCIENCE
The most elaborate reply to the arguments for telepathy, based on The Report of the Census of Hallucinations, is that of Herr Parish, in his ‘Hallucinations and Illusions.'
Herr Parish is, at present, opposed to the theory that the Census establishes a telepathic cause in the so-called ‘coincidental’ stories, ‘put forward,’ as he says, ‘with due reserve, and based on an astonishing mass of materials, to some extent critically handled.’
He first demurs to an allowance of twelve hours for the coincidence of hallucination and death; but, if we reflect that twelve hours is little even in a year, coincidences within twelve hours, it may be admitted, _donnent a penser_, even if we reject the theory that, granted a real telepathic impact, it may need time and quiet for its development into a complete hallucination. We need not linger over the very queer cases from Munich, as these are not in the selected thirty of the Report. Herr Parish then dwells on that _hallucination of memory_, in which we feel as if everything that is going on had happened before. It may have occurred to most of us to be reminded by some association of ideas during the day, of some dream of the previous night, which we had forgotten. For instance, looking at a brook from a bridge, and thinking of how I would fish it, I remembered that I had dreamed, on the previous night, of casting a fly for practice, on a lawn. Nobody would think of disputing the fact that I really had such a dream, forgot it and remembered it when reminded of it by association of ideas. But if the forgotten dream had been ‘fulfilled,’ and been recalled to memory only in the moment of fulfilment, science would deny that I ever had such a dream at all. The alleged dream would be described as an ‘hallucination of memory.’ Something occurring, it would be said, I had the not very unusual sensation, ‘This has occurred to me before,’ and the sensation would become a false memory that it _had_ occurred–in a dream. This theory will be advanced, I think, not when an ordinary dream is recalled by a waking experience, but only when the dream coincides with and foreruns that experience, which is a thing that dreams have no business to do. Such coincidental dreams are necessarily ‘false memories,’ scientifically speaking. Now, how does this theory of false memory bear on coincidental hallucinations?
The insane, it seems, are apt to have the false memory ‘This occurred before,’ and _then_ to say that the event was revealed to them in a vision. The insane may be recommended to make a note of the vision, and have it properly attested, _before_ the event. The same remark applies to the ‘presentiments’ of the sane. But it does _not_ apply if Jones tells me ‘I saw my great aunt last night,’ and if news comes _after_ this remark that Jones’s aunt died, on that night, in Timbuctoo. Yet Herr Parish (p. 282) seems to think that the argument of fallacious memory comes in part, even when an hallucination has been reported to another person _before_ its fulfilment. Of course all depends on the veracity of the narrator and the person to whom he told his tale. To take a case given: Brown, say, travelling with his wife, dreams that a mad dog bit his boy at home on the elbow. He tells his wife. Arriving at home Brown finds that it was so. Herr Parish appears to argue thus:
Brown dreamed nothing at all, but he gets excited when he hears the bad news at home; he thinks, by false memory, that he has a recollection of it, he says to his wife, ‘My dear, didn’t I tell you, last night, I had dreamed all this?’ and his equally excited wife replies,’ True, my Brown, you did, and I said it was only one of your dreams.’ And both now believe that the dream occurred. This is very plausible, is it not? only science would not say anything about it if the dream had _not_ been fulfilled–if Brown had remarked, ‘Egad, my dear, seeing that horse reminds me that I was dreaming last night of driving in a dog-cart.’ For then Brown was not excited.
None of this exquisite reasoning as to dreams applies to waking hallucinations, reported before the alleged coincidence, unless we accept a collective hallucination of memory in seer or seers, and also in the persons to whom their story was told.
But, it is obvious, memory is apt to become mythopoeic, so far as to exaggerate closeness of coincidence, and to add romantic details. We do not need Herr Parish to tell us _that_; we meet the circumstance in all narratives from memory, whatever the topic, even in Herr Parish’s own writings.
We must admit that the public, in ghostly, as in all narratives on all topics, is given to ‘fanciful addenda.’ Therefore, as Herr Parish justly remarks, we should ‘maintain a very sceptical attitude to all accounts’ of veridical hallucinations. ‘Not that we should dismiss them as old wives’ fables–an all too common method–or even doubt the narrator’s good faith.’ We should treat them like tales of big fish that get away; sometimes there is good corroborative evidence that they really were big fish, sometimes not. We shall return to these false memories.
Was there a coincidence at all in the Society’s cases printed in the Census? Herr Parish thinks three of the selected twenty-six cases very dubious. In one case is a _possible_ margin of four days, another (wrongly numbered by the way) does not occur at all among the twenty-six. In the third, Herr Parish is wrong in his statement. This is a lovely example of the sceptical slipshod, and, accompanied by the miscitation of the second case, shows that inexactitude is not all on the side of the seers. However the case is not very good, the two percipients fancying that the date of the event was less remote than it really was. Unluckily Herr Parish only criticises these three cases, how accurately we have remarked. He had no room for more.
Herr Parish next censures the probable selection of good cases by collectors, on which the editors of the Census have already made observations, as they have also made large allowances for this cause of error. He then offers the astonishing statement that, ‘in the view of the English authors, a view which is, of course, assumed in all calculations of the kind, an hallucination persists equally long in the memory and is equally readily recalled in reply to a question, whether the experience made but a slight impression on the percipient, or affected him deeply, as would be the case, for instance, if the hallucination had been found to coincide with the death of a near relative or friend.' This assertion of Herr Parish’s is so erroneous that the Report expressly says ‘as years recede into the distance,’ the proportion of the hallucinations that are remembered in them to those which are forgotten, or at least ignored, ‘is very large.’ Again, ‘Hallucinations of the most impressive class will not only be better remembered than others, but will, we may reasonably suppose, be more often mentioned by the percipients to their friends.'
Yet Herr Parish avers that, in all calculations, it is assumed that hallucinations are equally readily recalled whether impressive or not! Once more, the Report says (p. 246), ‘_It is not the case_’ that coincidental (and impressive) hallucinations are as easily subject to oblivion as non-coincidental, and non-impressive ones. The editors therefore multiply the non-coincidental cases by four, arguing that no coincidental cases (hits) are forgotten, while three out of four non-coincidentals (misses) are forgotten, or may be supposed likely to be forgotten. Immediately after declaring that the English authors suppose all hallucinations to be equally well remembered (which is the precise reverse of what they do say), Herr Parish admits that the authors multiply the misses by four, ‘influenced by other considerations’ (p. 289). By what other considerations? They give their reason (that very reason which they decline to entertain, says Herr Parish), namely, that misses are four times as likely to be forgotten as hits. ‘To go into the reason for adopting this plan would lead us too far,’ he writes. Why, it is the very reason which, he says, does _not_ find favour with the English authors!
How curiously remote from being ‘coincidental’ with plain facts, or ‘veridical’ at all, is this scientific criticism! Herr Parish says that a ‘view’ (which does not exist) is ‘of course assumed in all calculations;’ and, on the very same page, he says that it is _not_ assumed! ‘The witnesses of the report–influenced, it is true, by other considerations’ (which is not the case), ‘have sought to turn the point of this objection by multiplying the whole number of (non-coincidental) cases by four.’ Then the ‘view’ is _not_ ‘assumed in all calculations,’ as Herr Parish has just asserted.
What led Herr Parish, an honourable and clearheaded critic, into this maze of incorrect and contradictory assertions? It is interesting to try to trace the causes of such _non-veridical illusions_, to find the _points de repere_ of these literary hallucinations. One may suggest that when Herr Parish ‘recast the chapters’ of his German edition, as he says in his preface to the English version, he accidentally left in a passage based on an earlier paper by Mr. Gurney, not observing that it was no longer accurate or appropriate.
After this odd passage, Herr Parish argues that a ‘veridical’ hallucination is regarded by the English authors as ‘coincidental,’ even when external circumstances have made that very hallucination a probable occurrence by producing ‘tension of the corresponding nerve element groups.’ That is to say, a person is in a condition–a nervous condition– likely, _a priori_, to beget an hallucination. An hallucination _is_ begotten, quite naturally; and so, if it happens to coincide with an event, the coincidence should not count–it is purely fortuitous.
Here is an example. A lady, facing an old sideboard, saw a friend, with no coat on, and in a waistcoat with a back of shiny material. Within an hour she was taken to where her friend lay dying, without a coat, and in a waistcoat with a shiny back. Here is the scientific explanation of Herr Parish: ‘The shimmer of a reflecting surface [the sideboard?] formed the occasion for the hallucinatory emergence of a subconsciously perceived _shiny black waistcoat_ [quotation incorrect, of course], and an individual subconsciously associated with that impression. I ask any lady whether she, consciously or subconsciously, associates the men she knows with the backs of their waistcoats. Herr Parish’s would be a brilliantly satisfactory explanation if it were only true to the printed words that lay under his eyes when he wrote. There was no ‘shiny black waistcoat’ in the case, but a waistcoat with a shiny _back_. Gentlemen, and especially old gentlemen who go about in bath-chairs (like the man in this story), don’t habitually take off their coats and show the backs of their waistcoats to ladies of nineteen in England. And, if Herr Parish had cared to read his case, he would have found it expressly stated that the lady ‘had never seen the man without his coat’ (and so could not associate him with an impression of a shiny back to his waistcoat) till _after_ the hallucination, when she saw him coatless on his death-bed. In this instance Herr Parish had an hallucinatory memory, all wrong, of the page under his eyes. The case is got rid of, then, by aid of the ‘fanciful addenda,’ to which Herr Parish justly objects. He first gives the facts incorrectly, and then explains an occurrence which, as reported by him, did not occur, and was not asserted to occur.
I confess that, if Herr Parish’s version were as correct as it is essentially inaccurate, his explanation would leave me doubtful. For the circumstances were that the old gentleman of the story lunched daily with the young lady’s mother. Suppose that she was familiar (which she was not) with the shiny back of his waistcoat, still, she saw him daily, and daily, too, was in the way of seeing the (hypothetically) shiny surface of the sideboard. That being the case, she had, every day, the materials, subjective and objective, of the hallucination. Yet it only occurred _once_, and then it precisely coincided with the death agony of the old gentleman, and with his coatless condition. Why only that once? _C’est la le miracle!_ ‘How much for this little veskit?’ as the man asked David Copperfield.
Herr Parish next invents a cause for an hallucination, which, I myself think, ought not to have been reckoned, because the percipient had been sitting up with the sick man. This he would class as a ‘suspicious’ case. But, even granting him his own way of handling the statistics, be would still have far too large a proportion of coincidences for the laws of chance to allow, if we are to go by these statistics at all.
His next argument practically is that hallucinations are always only a kind of dreams. He proves this by the large number of coincidental hallucinations which occurred in sleepy circumstances. One man went to bed early, and woke up early; another was ‘roused from sleep;’ two ladies were sitting up in bed, giving their babies nourishment; a man was reading a newspaper on a sofa; a lady was lying awake at seven in the morning; and there are eight other English cases of people ‘awake’ in bed during an hallucination. Now, in Dr. Parish’s opinion, we must argue that they were _not_ awake, or not much; so the hallucinations were mere dreams. Dreams are so numerous that coincidences in dreams can be got rid of as pure flukes. People may say, to be sure, ‘I am used to dreams, and don’t regard them; _this_ was something solitary in my experience.’ But we must not mind what people say.
Yet I fear we must mind what they say. At least, we must remember that sleeping dreams are, of all things, most easily forgotten; while a full-bodied hallucination, when we, at least, believe ourselves awake, seems to us on a perfectly different plane of impressiveness, and (_experto crede_) is really very difficult to forget. Herr Parish cannot be allowed, therefore, to use the regular eighteenth-century argument– All dreams!’ For the two sorts of dreams, in sleep and in apparent wakefulness, seem, to the subject, to differ in _kind_. And they really do differ in kind. It is the essence of the every night dream that we are unconscious of our actual surroundings and conscious of a fantastic environment. It is the essence of wideawakeness to be conscious of our actual surroundings. In the ordinary dream, nothing actual competes with its visions. When we are conscious of our surroundings, everything actual does compete with any hallucination. Therefore, an hallucination which, when we are conscious of our material environment, does compete with it in reality, is different _in kind_ from an ordinary dream. Science gains nothing by arbitrarily declaring that two experiences so radically different are identical. Anybody would see this if he were not arguing under a dominant idea.
Herr Parish next contends that people who see pictures in crystal balls, and so on, are not so wide awake as to be in their normal consciousness. There is ‘dissociation’ (practically drowsiness), even if only a little. Herr Moll also speaks of crystal-gazing pictures as ‘hypnotic phenomena.' Possibly neither of these learned men has ever seen a person attempt crystal-gazing. Herr Parish never asserts any such personal experience as the basis of his opinion about the non-normal state of the gazer. He reaches this conclusion from an anecdote reported, as a not unfamiliar phenomenon, by a friend of Miss X. But the phenomenon occurred when Miss X. was not crystal-gazing at all! She was looking out of a window in a brown study. This is a noble example of logic. Some one says that Miss X. was not in her normal consciousness on a certain occasion when she was _not_ crystal-gazing, and that this condition is familiar to the observer. Therefore, argues Herr Parish, nobody is in his normal consciousness when he is crystal-gazing.
In vain may ‘so good an observer as Miss X. think herself fully awake’ (as she does think herself) when crystal-gazing, because once, when she happened to have ‘her eyes _fixed on the window_,’ her expression was ‘_associated_’ by a friend ‘with _something uncanny_,’ and she afterwards spoke ‘_in a dreamy, far-away tone_’ (p. 297). Miss X., though extremely ‘wide awake,’ may have looked dreamily at a window, and may have seen mountains and marvels. But the point is that she was not voluntarily gazing at a crystal for amusement or experiment–perhaps trying to see how a microscope affected the pictures–or to divert a friend.
I appeal to the shades of Aristotle and Bacon against scientific logic in the hands of Herr Parish. Here is his syllogism:
A. is occasionally dreamy when _not_ crystal-gazing. A. is human.
Therefore every human being, when crystal-gazing, is more or less asleep.
He infers a general affirmative from a single affirmative which happens not to be to the point. It is exactly as if Herr Parish argued:
Mrs. B. spends hours in shopping.
Mrs. B. is human.
Therefore every human being is always late for dinner.
Miss X., I think, uplifted her voice in some review, and maintained that, when crystal-gazing, she was quite in her normal state, _dans son assiette_.
Yet Herr Parish would probably say to any crystal-gazer who argued thus, ‘Oh, no; pardon me, you were _not_ wholly awake–you were a-dream. I know better than you.’ But, as he has not seen crystal-gazers, while I have, many scores of times, I prefer my own opinion. And so, as this assertion about the percipient’s being ‘dissociated,’ or asleep, or not awake, is certainly untrue of all crystal-gazers in my considerable experience, I cannot accept it on the authority of Herr Parish, who makes no claim to any personal experience at all.
As to crystal-gazing, when the gazer is talking, laughing, chatting, making experiments in turning the ball, changing the light, using prisms and magnifying-glasses, dropping matches into the water-jug, and so on, how can we possibly say that ‘it is impossible to distinguish between waking hallucinations and those of sleep’ (p. 300)? If so, it is impossible to distinguish between sleeping and waking altogether. We are all like the dormouse! Herr Parish is reasoning here _a priori_, without any personal knowledge of the facts; and, above all, he is under the ‘dominant idea’ of his own theory–that of _dissociation_.
Herr Parish next crushes telepathy by an argument which–like one of the reasons why the bells were not rung for Queen Elizabeth, namely, that there were no bells to ring–might have come first, and alone. We are told (in italics–very impressive to the popular mind): _’No matter how great the number of coincidences, they afford not even the shadow of a proof for telepathy’_ (p. 301). What, not even if all hallucinations, or ninety-nine per cent., coincided with the death of the person seen? In heaven’s name, why not? Why, because the ‘weightiest’ cause of all has been omitted from our calculations, namely, our good old friend, _the association of ideas_ (p. 302). Our side cannot prove the _absence_ (italics) of _the association of ideas_. Certainly we cannot; but ideas in endless millions are being associated all day long. A hundred thousand different, unnoticed associations may bring Jones to my mind, or Brown. But I don’t therefore see Brown, or Jones, who is not there. Still less do I see Dr. Parish, or Nebuchadnezzar, or a monkey, or a salmon, or a golf ball, or Arthur’s Seat (all of which may be brought to my mind by association of ideas), when they are not present.
Suppose, then, that once in my life I see the absent Jones, who dies in that hour (or within twelve hours). I am puzzled. Why did Association choose that day, of all days in my life, for her solitary freak? And, if this choice of freaks by Association occurs among other people, say two hundred times more often than chance allows, the freak begins to suggest that it may have a cause.
Not even the circumstance cited by Herr Parish, that a drowsy tailor, ‘sewing on in a dream,’ poor fellow, saw a client in his shop while the client was dying, solves the problem. The tailor is not said even once to have seen a customer who was _not_ dying; yet he writes, ‘I was accustomed to work all night frequently.’ The tailor thinks he was asleep, because he had been making irregular stitches, and perhaps he was. But, out of all his vigils and all his customers, association only formed _one_ hallucination, and that was of a dying client whom he supposed to be perfectly well. Why on earth is association so fond of dying people– granting the statistics, which are ‘another story’? The explanation explains nothing. Herr Parish only moves the difficulty back a step, and, as we cannot live without association of ideas, they are taken for granted by our side. Association of ideas does not cause hallucinations, as Mrs. Sidgwick remarks, though it may determine their contents.
The difficult theme of coincidental collective hallucinations, as when two or more people at once have, or profess to have, the same false perception of a person who is really absent and dying, is next disposed of by Herr Parish. The same _points de repere_, the same sound, or flicker of light, or arrangement of shadow, may beget the same or a similar false perception in two or more people at once. Thus two girls, in different rooms, are looking out on different parts of the hall in their house. ‘Both heard, at the same time, an [objective?] noise’ (p. 313). Then, says Here Parish, ‘_the one sister saw her father cross the hall_ after entering; the other saw the dog (the usual companion of his walks) run past her door.’ Father and dog had not left the dining-room. Herr Parish decides that the same _point de repere_ (the apparent noise of a key in the lock of the front door) ‘acted by way of suggestion on both sisters,’ producing, however, different hallucinations, ‘in virtue of the difference of the connected associations.’ One girl associated the sound with her honoured sire, the other with his faithful hound; so one saw a dog, and the other saw an elderly gentleman. Now, first, if so, this should _always_ be occurring, for we all have different associations of ideas. Thus, we are in a haunted house; there is a noise of a rattling window; I associate it with a burglar, Brown with a milkman, Miss Jones with a lady in green, Miss Smith with a knight in armour. That collection of phantasms should then be simultaneously on view, like the dog and old gentleman; all our reports should vary. But this does not occur. Most unluckily for Herr Parish, he illustrates his theory by telling a story which happens not to be correctly reported. At first I thought that a fallacy of memory, or an optical delusion, had betrayed him again, as in his legend of the waistcoat. But I am now inclined to believe that what really occurred was this: Herr Parish brought out his book in German, before the Report of the Census of Hallucinations was published. In his German edition he probably quoted a story which precisely suited his theory of the origin of collective hallucinations. This anecdote he had found in Prof. Sidgwick’s Presidential Address of July 1890. As stated by Prof. Sidgwick, the case just fitted Herr Parish, who refers to it on p. 190, and again on p. 314. He gives no reference, but his version reads like a traditional variant of Prof. Sidgwick’s. Now Prof. Sidgwick’s version was erroneous, as is proved by the elaborate account of the case in the Report of the Census, which Herr Parish had before him, but neglected when he prepared his English edition. The story was wrong, alas! in the very point where, for Herr Parish’s purpose, it ought to have been right. The hallucination is believed not to have been collective, yet Herr Parish uses it to explain collective hallucinations. Doubtless he overlooked the accurate version in the Report.
The facts, as there reported, were not what he narrates, but as follows:
Miss C.E. was in the breakfast-room, about 6:30 P.M., in January 1883, and supposed her father to be taking a walk with his dog. She heard noises, which may have had any other cause, but which she took to be the sounds of a key in the door lock, a stick lapping the tiles of the hall, and the patter of the dog’s feet on the tiles. She then saw the dog pass the door. Miss C.E. next entered the hall, where she found nobody; but in the pantry she met her sisters–Miss E., Miss H.G.E.–and a working-woman. Miss E. and the working-woman had been in the hall, and there had heard the sound, which they, like Miss C.E., took for that of a key in the lock. They were breaking a little household rule in the hall, so they ‘ran straightway into the pantry, meeting Miss H.G.E. on the way.’ Miss C.E. and Miss E. and the working-woman all heard the noise as of a key in the lock, but nobody is said to have ‘seen the father cross the hall’ (as Herr Parish asserts). ‘Miss H.G.E. was of opinion that Miss E. (now dead) saw _nothing_, and Miss C.E. was inclined to agree with her.’ Miss E. and the work-woman (now dead) were ’emphatic as to the father having entered the house;’ but this the two only _inferred_ from hearing the noise, after which they fled to the pantry. Now, granting that some other noise was mistaken for that of the key in the lock, we have here, _not_ (as Herr Parish declares) a _collective_ yet discrepant hallucination–the discrepancy being caused ‘by the difference of connected associations’– but a _solitary_ hallucination. Herr Parish, however, inadvertently converts a solitary into a collective hallucination, and then uses the example to explain collective hallucinations in general. He asserts that Miss E. ‘saw her father cross the hall.’ Miss E.’s sisters think that she saw no such matter. Now, suppose that Mr. E. had died at the moment, and that the case was claimed on our part as a ‘collective coincidental hallucination,’ How righteously Herr Parish might exclaim that all the evidence was against its being collective! The sound in the lock, heard by three persons, would be, and probably was, another noise misinterpreted. And, in any case, there is no evidence for its having produced _two_ hallucinations; the evidence is in exactly the opposite direction.
Here, then, Herr Parish, with the printed story under his eyes, once more illustrates want of attention. In one way his errors improve his case. ‘If I, a grave man of science, go on telling distorted legends out of my own head, while the facts are plain in print before me,’ Herr Parish may reason, ‘how much more are the popular tales about coincidental hallucinations likely to be distorted?’ It is really a very strong argument, but not exactly the argument which Herr Parish conceives himself to be presenting.
This unlucky inexactitude is chronic, as we have shown, in Herr Parish’s work, and is probably to be explained by inattention to facts, by ‘expectation’ of suitable facts, and by ‘anxiety’ to prove a theory. He explains the similar or identical reports of witnesses to a collective hallucination by ‘the case with which such appearances adapt themselves in recollection’ (p. 313), especially, of course, after lapse of time. And then he unconsciously illustrates his case by the case with which printed facts under his very eyes adapt themselves, quite erroneously, to his own memory and personal bias as he copies them on to his paper.
Finally he argues that even if collective hallucinations are also ‘with comparative frequency’ coincidental, that is to be explained thus: ‘The rarity and the degree of interest compelled by it’ (by such an hallucination) ‘will naturally tend to connect itself with some other prominent event; and, conversely, the occurrence of such an event as the death or mortal danger of a friend is most calculated to produce memory illusions of this kind.’
In the second case, the excitement caused by the death of a friend is likely, it seems, to make two or more sane people say, and _believe,_ that they saw him somewhere else, when he was really dying. The only evidence for this fact is that such illusions occasionally occur, _not_ collectively, in some lunatic asylums. ‘It is not, however, a form of mnemonic error often observed among the insane.’ ‘Kraepelin gives two cases.’ ‘The process occurs sporadically in certain sane people, under certain exciting conditions.’ No examples are given! What is rare as an _individual_ folly among lunatics, is supposed by Herr Parish to explain the theoretically ‘false memory’ whereby sane people persuade themselves that they had an hallucination, and persuade others that they were told of it, when no such thing occurred.
To return to our old example. Jones tells me that he has just seen his aunt, whom he knows to be in Timbuctoo. News comes that the lady died when Jones beheld her in his smoking-room. ‘Oh, nonsense,’ Herr Pariah would argue, ‘you, Jones, saw nothing of the kind, nor did you tell Mr. Lang, who, I am sorry to find, agrees with you. What happened was _this_: When the awful news came to-day of your aunt’s death, you were naturally, and even creditably, excited, especially as the poor lady was killed by being pegged down on an ant-heap. This excitement, rather praiseworthy than otherwise, made you _believe_ you had seen your aunt, and _believe_ you had told Mr. Lang. He also is a most excitable person, though I admit he never saw your dear aunt in his life. He, therefore (by virtue of his excitement), now _believes_ you told him about seeing your unhappy kinswoman. This kind of false memory is very common. Two cases are recorded by Kraepelin, among the insane. Sure you quite understand my reasoning?’
I quite understand it, but I don’t see how it comes to seem good logic to Herr Parish.
The other theory is funnier still. Jones never had an hallucination before. ‘The rarity and the degree of interest compelled by it’ made Jones ‘connect it with some other prominent event,’ say, the death of his aunt, which, really, occurred, say, nine months afterwards. But this is a mere case of _evidence_, which it is the affair of the S.P.R. to criticise.
Herr Parish is in the happy position called in American speculative circles ‘a straddle.’ If a man has an hallucination when alone, he was in circumstances conducive to the sleeping state. So the hallucination is probably a dream. But, if the seer was in company, who all had the same hallucination, then they all had the same _points de repere_, and the same adaptive memories. So Herr Parish kills with both barrels.
If anything extraneous could encourage a belief in coincidental and veridical hallucinations, it would be these ‘Oppositions of Science.’ If a learned and fair opponent can find no better proofs than logic and (unconscious) perversions of facts like the logic and the statements of Herr Parish, the case for telepathic hallucinations may seem strong indeed. But we must grant him the existence of the adaptive and mythopoeic powers of memory, which he asserts, and also illustrates. I grant, too, that a census of 17,000 inquiries may only have ‘skimmed the cream off’ (p. 87). Another dip of the net, bringing up 17,000 fresh answers, might alter the whole aspect of the case, one way or the other. Moreover, we cannot get scientific evidence in this way of inquiry. If the public were interested in the question, and understood its nature, and if everybody who had an hallucination at once recorded it in black and white, duly attested on oath before a magistrate, by persons to whom he reported, before the coincidence was known, and if all such records, coincidental or not, were kept in the British Museum for fifty years, then an examination of them might teach us something. But all this is quite impossible. We may form a belief, on this point of veridical hallucinations, for ourselves, but beyond that it is impossible to advance. Still, Science might read her brief!
[Footnote 1: Walter Scott.]
[Footnote 2: Parish, p. 278.]
[Footnote 3: Ibid. pp. 282, 283.]
[Footnote 4: P. 287, Mr. Sims, _Proceedings_, x. 230.]
[Footnote 5: Parish pp. 288, 289.]
[Footnote 6: _Report_, p. 68.]
[Footnote 7: P. 274, note 1.]
[Footnote 8: Parish, p. 290.]
[Footnote 9: _Report_, p. 297.]
[Footnote 10: Parish, p. 290.]
[Footnote 11: Pp. 291, 292.]
[Footnote 12: Moll, _Hypnotism_, p. 1.]
[Footnote 13 _Proceedings_, vol. vi. p. 433.]
[Footnote 14: Parish, p. 313.]
[Footnote 15: Compare _Report_, pp. 181-83, with Parish, pp. 190 and 313, 314.]
THE POLTERGEIST AND HIS EXPLAINERS.
In the chapter on ‘Fetishism and Spiritualism’ it was suggested that the movements of inanimate objects, apparently without contact, may have been one of the causes leading to fetishism, to the opinion that a spirit may inhabit a stick, stone, or what not. We added that, whether such movements were caused by trickery or not, was inessential as long as the savage did not discover the imposture.
The evidence for the genuine supernormal character of such phenomena was not discussed, that we might preserve the continuity of the general argument. The history of such phenomena is too long for statement here. The same reports are found ‘from China to Peru,’ from Eskimo to the Cape, from Egyptian magical papyri to yesterday’s provincial newspaper.
About 1850-1870 phenomena, which had previously been reported as of sporadic and spontaneous occurrence, were domesticated and organised by Mediums, generally American. These were imitators of the enigmatic David Dunglas Home, who was certainly a most oddly gifted man, or a most successful impostor. A good deal of scientific attention was given to the occurrences; Mr. Darwin, Mr. Tyndall, Dr. Carpenter, Mr. Huxley, had all glanced at the phenomena, and been present at _seances_. In most cases the exhibitions, in the dark, or in a very bad light, were impudent impostures, and were so regarded by the _savants_ who looked into them. A series of exposures culminated in the recent detection of Eusapia Paladino by Dr. Hodgson and other members of the S.P.R. at Cambridge.
There was, however, an apparent exception. The arch mystagogue, Home, though by no means a clever man, was never detected in fraudulent productions of fetishistic phenomena. This is asserted here because several third-hand stories of detected frauds by Home are in circulation, and it is hoped that a well-attested first-hand case of detection may be elicited.
Of Home’s successes with Sir William Crookes, Lord Crawford, and others, something remains to be said; but first we shall look into attempted explanations of alleged physical phenomena occurring _not_ in the presence of a paid or even of a recognised ‘Medium.’ It will appear, we think, that the explanations of evidence so widely diffused, so uniform, so old, and so new, are far from satisfactory. Our inference would be no more than that our eyes should be kept on such phenomena, if they are reported to recur.
Mr. Tylor says, ‘I am well aware that the problem [of these phenomena] is one to be discussed on its merits, in order to arrive at a distinct opinion how far it may be connected with facts insufficiently appreciated and explained by science, and how far with superstition, delusion, and sheer knavery. Such investigation, pursued by careful observation in a scientific spirit, would seem apt to throw light on some interesting psychological questions.’
Acting on Mr. Tylor’s hint, Mr. Podmore puts forward as explanations (1) fraud; (2) hallucinations caused by excited expectation, and by the _Schwaermerei_ consequent on sitting in hushed hope of marvels.
To take fraud first: Mr. Podmore has collected, and analyses, eleven recent sporadic cases of volatile objects. His first instance (Worksop, 1883) yields no proof of fraud, and can only be dismissed by reason of the bad character of the other cases, and because Mr. Podmore took the evidence five weeks after the events. To this example we confine ourselves. This case appears to have been first reported in the ‘Retford and Gainsborough Times’ ‘early in March,’ 1883 (really March 9). It does not seem to have struck Mr. Podmore that he should publish these contemporary reports, to show us how far they agree with evidence collected by him on the spot five weeks later. To do this was the more necessary, as he lays so much stress on failure of memory. I have therefore secured the original newspaper report, by the courtesy of the editor. To be brief, the phenomena began on February 20 or 21, by the table voluntarily tipping up, and upsetting a candle, while Mrs. White only saved the wash tub by alacrity and address. ‘The whole incident struck her as very extraordinary.’ It is not in the newspaper report. On February 26, Mr. White left his home, and a girl, Eliza Rose, ‘child of a half-imbecile mother,’ was admitted by the kindness of Mrs. White to share her bed. The girl was eighteen years of age, was looking for a place as servant, and nothing is said in the newspaper about her mother. Mr. White returned on Wednesday night, but left on Thursday morning, returning on Friday afternoon. On Thursday, in Mr. White’s absence, phenomena set in. On Thursday night, in Mr. White’s presence, they increased in vigour. A doctor was called in, also a policeman. On Saturday, at 8 A.M., the row recommenced. At 4 P.M. Mr. White sent Eliza Rose away, and peace returned. We now offer the
STATEMENT OF POLICE CONSTABLE HIGGS. A man of good intelligence, and believed to be entirely honest….
‘On the night of Friday, March 2nd, I heard of the disturbances at Joe White’s house from his young brother, Tom. I went round to the house at 11.55 P.M., as near as I can judge, and found Joe White in the kitchen of his house. There was one candle lighted in the room, and a good fire burning, so that one could see things pretty clearly. The cupboard doors were open, and White went and shut them, and then came and stood against the chest of drawers. I stood near the outer door. No one else was in the room at the time. White had hardly shut the cupboard doors when they flew open, and a large glass jar came out past me, and pitched in the yard outside, smashing itself. I didn’t see the jar leave the cupboard, or fly through the air; it went too quick. But I am quite sure that it wasn’t thrown by White or any one else. White couldn’t have done it without my seeing him. The jar couldn’t go in a straight line from the cupboard out of the door; but it certainly did go.
‘Then White asked me to come and see the things which had been smashed in the inner room. He led the way and I followed. As I passed the chest of drawers in the kitchen I noticed a tumbler standing on it. Just after I passed I heard a crash, and looking round, I saw that the tumbler had fallen on the ground in the direction of the fireplace, and was broken. I don’t know how it happened. There was no one else in the room.
‘I went into the inner room, and saw the bits of pots and things on the floor, and then I came back with White into the kitchen. The girl Rose had come into the kitchen during our absence. She was standing with her back against the bin near the fire. There was a cup standing on the bin, rather nearer the door. She said to me, “Cup’ll go soon; it has been down three times already.” She then pushed it a little farther on the bin, and turned round and stood talking to me by the fire. She had hardly done so, when the cup jumped up suddenly about four or five feet into the air, and then fell on the floor and smashed itself. White was sitting on the other side of the fire.
‘Then Mrs. White came in with Dr. Lloyd; also Tom White and Solomon Wass. After they had been in two or three minutes, something else happened. Tom White and Wass were standing with their backs to the fire, just in front of it. Eliza Rose and Dr. Lloyd were near them, with their backs turned towards the bin, the doctor nearer to the door. I stood by the drawers, and Mrs. White was by me near the inner door. Then suddenly a basin, which stood on the end of the bin near the door, got up into the air, _turning over and over as it went. It went up not very quickly, not as quickly as if it had been thrown_. When it reached the ceiling it fell plump and smashed. I called Dr. Lloyd’s attention to it, and we all saw it. No one was near it, and I don’t know how it happened. I stayed about ten minutes more, but saw nothing else. I don’t know what to make of it all. I don’t think White or the girl could possibly have done the things which I saw.’
This statement was made five weeks after date to Mr. Podmore. We compare it with the intelligent constable’s statement made between March 3 and March 8, that is, immediately after the events, and reported in the local paper of March 9.
STATEMENT BY POLICE CONSTABLE HIGGS.–During Friday night, Police Constable Higgs visited the house, and concerning the visit he makes the following statement.
‘About ten minutes past [to?] twelve on Friday night, I was met in Bridge Street by Buck Ford, and Joe’s brother, Tom White and Dr. Lloyd. Tom said to me, “Will you go with us to Joe’s, and you will see something you have never seen before?” I went; and when I got into the house Joe went and shut the cupboard doors. No sooner had he done so than the doors flew open again, and an ordinary sized glass jar flew across the kitchen, out of the door into the yard. A sugar jar also flew out of the cupboard unseen. In fact, we saw nothing and heard nothing until we heard it smash. The distance travelled by the articles was about seven yards. I stood a minute or two, and then the glass which I noticed on the drawers jumped off the drawers a yard away, and broke in about a hundred bits. The next thing was a cup, which stood on the flour-bin just beyond the yard door. It flew upwards, and then fell to the ground and broke. The girl said that this cup had been on the floor three times, and that she had picked it up just before it went off the bench. I said, “I suppose the cup will be the next.” The cup fell a distance of two yards away from the flour-bin. Dr. Lloyd had been in the next house lancing the back of a little boy who had been removed there. He now came in, and we began talking, the doctor saying, “It is a most mysterious thing.” He turned with his back to the flour-bin, on which stood a basin. The basin flew up into the air obliquely, went over the doctor’s head, and fell at his feet in pieces. The doctor then went out. I stood a short time longer, but saw nothing farther. There were six persons in the room while these things were going on, and so far as I could see, there was no human agency at work. I had not the slightest belief in anything appertaining to the super-natural. I left just before one o’clock, having been in the house thirty minutes.’
As the policeman says, there was nothing ‘super-natural,’ but there was an appearance of something rather supernormal. On the afternoon of Saturday White sent the girl Rose away, and a number of people watched in his house till after midnight. Though the sceptical reporter thought that objects were placed where they might easily be upset, none were upset. The ghost was laid. ‘Excited expectation’ was so false to its function as to beget no phenomena.
The newspaper reports contain no theory that will account for White’s breaking his furniture and crockery, nor for Rose’s securing her own dismissal from a house where she was kindly received by wilfully destroying the property of her hostess. An amateur published a theory of silken threads attached to light articles, and thick cords to heavy articles, whereof no trace was found by witnesses who examined the volatile objects. An elaborate machinery of pulleys fixed in the ceiling, the presence of a trickster in a locked pantry, apparent errors in the account of the flight of the objects, and a number of accomplices, were all involved in this local explanation, the explainer admitting that he could not imagine _why_ the tricks were played. Six or eight pounds’ worth of goods were destroyed, nor is it singular that poor Mrs. White wept over her shattered penates.
The destruction began, of course, in the _absence_ of White. The girl Rose gave to the newspaper the same account as the other witnesses, but, as White thought _she_ was the agent, so she suspected White, though she admitted that he was not at home when the trouble arose.
Mr. Podmore, reviewing the case, says, ‘The phenomena described are quite inexplicable by ordinary mechanical means. Yet he elsewhere suggests that Rose herself, ‘as the instrument of mysterious agencies, or simply as a half-witted girl, gifted with abnormal cunning and love of mischief, may have been directly responsible for all that took place.’ That is to say, a half-witted girl could do (barring ‘mysterious agencies’) ‘what is quite inexplicable by ordinary mechanical means,’ while, according to the policeman, she was not even present on some occasions. But it is not easy to make out, in the evidence of White, the other witness, whether this girl Rose was present or not when the jar flew circuitously out of the cupboard, a thing easily worked by a half-witted girl. Such discrepancies are common in all evidence to the most ordinary events. In any case a half-witted girl, in Mr. Podmore’s theory, can do what ‘is quite inexplicable by ordinary mechanical means.’ There is not the shadow of evidence that the girl Rose had the inestimable advantage of being ‘half-witted;’ she is described by Mr. Podmore as ‘the child of an imbecile mother.’ The phenomena began, in an isolated case (the tilted table), _before_ Rose entered the house. She was admitted in kindness, acted as a maid, and her interest was _not_ to break the crockery and upset furniture. The troubles, which began before the girl’s arrival, were apparently active when she was not present, and, it she _was_ present, she could not have caused them ‘by ordinary mechanical means,’ while of extraordinary mechanical means there was confessedly no trace. The disturbances ceased after she was dismissed–nothing else connects her with them.
Mr. Podmore’s attempt at a normal explanation by fraud, therefore, is of no weight. He has to exaggerate the value, as disproof, of such discrepancies as occur in all human evidence on all subjects. He has to lay stress on the interval of five weeks between the events and the collection of testimony by himself. But contemporary accounts appeared in the local newspapers, and he does not compare the contemporary with the later evidence, as we have done. There is one discrepancy which looks as if a witness, not here cited, came to think he had seen what he heard talked about. Finally, after abandoning the idea that mechanical means can possibly have produced the effect, Mr. Podmore falls back on the cunning of a half-witted girl whom nothing shows to have been half-witted. The alternative is that the girl was ‘the instrument of mysterious agencies.’
So much for the hypothesis of a fraud, which has been identical in results from China to Peru and from Greenland to the Cape.
We now turn to the other, and concomitantly active cause, in Mr. Podmore’s theory, hallucination. ‘Many of the witnesses described the articles as moving slowly through the air, or exhibiting some peculiarity of flight.’ (See e.g. the Worksop case.) Mr. Podmore adds another English case, presently to be noted, and a German one. ‘In default of any experimental evidence’ (how about Mr. William Crookes’s?) ‘that disturbances of this kind are ever due to abnormal agency, I am disposed to explain the appearance of moving slowly or flying as a sensory illusion, conditioned by the excited state of the percipient.’ (‘Studies,’ 157, 158.)
Before criticising this explanation, let us give the English affair, alluded to by Mr. Podmore.
The most curious modern case known to me is not of recent date, but it occurred in full daylight, in the presence of many witnesses, and the phenomena continued for weeks. The events were of 1849, and the record is expanded, by Mr. Bristow, a spectator, from an account written by him in 1854. The scene was Swanland, near Hull, in a carpenter’s shop, where Mr. Bristow was employed with two fellow workmen. To be brief, they were pelted by odds and ends of wood, about the size of a common matchbox. Each blamed the others, till this explanation became untenable. The workrooms and space above were searched to no purpose. The bits of wood sometimes danced along the floor, more commonly sailed gently along, or “moved as if borne on gently heaving waves.” This sort of thing was repeated during six weeks. One piece of wood “came from a distant corner of the room towards me, describing what may be likened to a geometrical square, or corkscrew of about eighteen inches diameter…. Never was a piece seen to come in at the doorway.” Mr. Bristow deems this period ‘the most remarkable episode in my life.’ (June 27, 1891.) The phenomena ‘did not depend on the presence of any one person or number of persons.’
Going to Swanland, in 1891, Mr. Sidgwick found one surviving witness of these occurrences, who averred that the objects could not have been thrown because of the eccentricities of their course, which he described in the same way as Mr. Bristow. The thrower must certainly have had a native genius for ‘pitching’ at base-ball. This witness, named Andrews, was mentioned by Mr. Bristow in his report, but not referred to by him for confirmation. Those to whom he referred were found to be dead, or had emigrated. The villagers had a superstitious theory about the phenomena being provoked by a dead man, whose affairs had not been settled to his liking. So Mr. Darwin’s spoon danced–on a grave.
This case has a certain interest _a propos_ of Mr. Podmore’s surmise that all such phenomena arise in trickery, which produces excitement in the spectators, while excitement begets hallucination, and hallucination takes the form of seeing the thrown objects move in a non-natural way. Thus, I keep throwing things about. You, not detecting this stratagem, get excited, consequently hallucinated, and you believe you see the things move in spirals, or undulate as if on waves, or hop, or float, or glide in an impossible way. So close is the uniformity of hallucination that these phenomena are described, in similar terms, by witnesses (hallucinated, of course) in times old and new, as in cases cited by Glanvil, Increase Mather, Telfer (of Rerrick), and, generally, in works of the seventeenth century. Nor is this uniform hallucination confined to England. Mr. Podmore quotes a German example, and I received a similar testimony (to the flight of an object round a corner) from a gentleman who employed Esther Teed, ‘the Amherst Mystery,’ in his service. _He_ was not excited, for he was normally engaged in his normal stable, when the incident occurred unexpectedly as he was looking after his live stock. One may add the case of Cideville (1851) and Sir W. Crookes’s evidence, and that of Mr. Schhapoff.
Mr. Podmore must, therefore, suppose that, in states of excitement, the same peculiar form of hallucination develops itself uniformly in America, France, Germany, and England (not to speak of Russia), and persists through different ages. This is a novel and valuable psychological law. Moreover, Mr. Podmore must hold that ‘excitement’ lasted for six weeks among the carpenters in the shop at Swanland, one of whom writes like a man of much intelligence, and has thriven to be a master in his craft. It is difficult to believe that he was excited for six weeks, and we still marvel that excitement produces the same uniformity of hallucination, affecting policemen, carpenters, marquises, and a F.R.S. We allude to Sir W. Crookes’s case.
Strictly scientific examination of these prodigies has been very rare. The best examples are the experiments of Sir William Crookes, F.R.S., with Home. He demonstrated, by means of a machine constructed for the purpose, and automatically registering, that, in Home’s presence, a balance was affected to the extent of two pounds when Home was not in contact with the table on which the machine was placed. He also saw objects float in air, with a motion like that of a piece of wood on small waves of the sea (clearly excitement producing hallucination), while Home was at a distance, other spectators holding his hands, and his feet being visibly enclosed in a kind of cage. All present held each other’s hands, and all witnessed the phenomena. Sir W. Crookes being, professionally, celebrated for the accuracy of his observations, these circumstances are difficult to explain, and these are but a few cases among multitudes.
I venture to conceive that, on reflection, Mr. Podmore will doubt whether he has discovered an universal law of excited malperception, or whether the remarkable, and certainly undesigned, coincidence of testimony to the singular flight of objects does not rather point to an ‘abnormal agency’ uniform in its effects. Contagious hallucination cannot affect witnesses ignorant of each other’s existence in many lands and ages, nor could they cook their reports to suit reports of which they never heard.
We now turn to peculiarities in the so-called Medium, such as floating in air, change of bulk, and escape from lesion when handling or treading in fire. Mr. Tylor says nothing of Sir William Crookes’s cases (1871), but speaks of the alleged levitation, or floating in air, of savages and civilised men. These are recorded in Buddhist and Neoplatonic writings, and among Red Indians, in Tonquin (where a Jesuit saw and described the phenomena, 1730), in the ‘Acta Sanctorum,’ and among modern spiritualists. In 1760, Lord Elcho, being at Home, was present at the _proces_ for canonising a Saint (unnamed), and heard witnesses swear to having seen the holy man levitated. Sir W. Crookes attests having seen Home float in air on several occasions. In 1871, the Master of Lindsay, now Lord Crawford and Balcarres, F.R.S., gave the following evidence, which was corroborated by the two other spectators, Lord Adare and Captain Wynne.
‘I was sitting with Mr. Home and Lord Adare and a cousin of his. During