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Spirit Photography

For over thirty years photographs have been taken in London, on which,
when they were developed, figures appeared for the presence of which
there seemed to be no physical cause. They appeared both with
professional photographers and in private studios. Two or three
professional photographers laid themselves out to encourage such
appearances. Others were annoyed by them. One in particular, whom I knew
personally, was greatly annoyed in this way, fearing it might injure his
business. Naturally, but unfortunately, the term "spirit photographs"
was invented. Unfortunately, because, granting the reality and
genuineness of some of the results, it by no means follows that a
"spirit" stood or sat for its portrait, as a human sitter does.
Naturally also, various explanations were soon alleged, two being,
either that the plates had been used before, and had been imperfectly
cleaned, or that the results were produced by deliberate artifice and
fraud on the part of the photographer. There is no doubt that artificial
results can be obtained in a variety of ways, which are extremely
difficult, if not impossible to distinguish from the professed genuine
article. It may therefore be said that no examination of a professed
"spirit photograph," or as we should prefer to call it, a "psychic
photograph," is sufficient to determine its nature and origin. The true
test must be sought for in the conditions under which the photograph was
taken. Very few of those who have had to do with "spirit photography"
have possessed the necessary technical knowledge, and also been
sufficiently careful, in the various stages of the process. The result
is that scarcely any of the photographs shown as "spirit photographs"
possess any evidential value. In common with several other alleged
phenomena, but little attention has been given to the subject by
scientific men, or by trained experimenters.

The most notable exception to this which I am able to quote is that of
the late Mr. J. Traill Taylor, who was for a considerable time the
editor of the British Journal of Photography. The following quotations
are from a paper on "Spirit Photography" by Mr. Taylor. It was
originally read before the London and Provincial Photographic
Association in March 1893, and was reprinted in the British Journal of
Photography for 26th May 1904, shortly after Mr. Taylor's death.

"Spirit photography, so called, has of late been asserting its existence
in such a manner and to such an extent as to warrant competent men in
making an investigation, conducted under stringent test conditions, into
the circumstances under which such photographs are produced, and
exposing the fraud should it prove to be such, instead of pooh-poohing
it as insensate because we do not understand how it can be otherwise--a
position that scarcely commends itself as intelligent or philosophical.
If, in what follows, I call it 'spirit photography' instead of psychic
photography, it is only in deference to a nomenclature that extensively
prevails.... I approach the subject merely as a photographer."

Mr. Traill Taylor then gives a history of the earlier manifestations of
"Spirit Photography," and goes on to explain how striking phenomena in
photographing what is invisible to the eye may be produced by the agency
of fluorescence. He quotes the demonstration by Dr. Gladstone, F.R.S.,
at the Bradford Meeting of the British Association in 1873, showing that
invisible drawings on white cards have produced bold and clear
photographs when no eye could see the drawings themselves. Hence, as Mr.
Taylor says, the photographing of an invisible image is not
scientifically impossible.

Mr. Taylor then proceeds to describe some personal experiments. He says:
"For several years I have experienced a strong desire to ascertain by
personal investigation the amount of truth in the ever-recurring
allegation that figures other than those visually present in the room
appeared on a sensitive plate.... Mr. D., of Glasgow, in whose presence
psychic photographs have long been alleged to be obtained, was lately in
London on a visit, and a mutual friend got him to consent to extend his
stay in order that I might try to get a psychic photograph under test
conditions. To this he willingly agreed. My conditions were exceedingly
simple, were courteously expressed to the host, and entirely acquiesced
in. They were, that I for the nonce would assume them all to be
tricksters, and to guard against fraud, should use my own camera and
unopened packages of dry plates purchased from dealers of repute, and
that I should be excused from allowing a plate to go out of my own hand
till after development unless I felt otherwise disposed; but that as I
was to treat them as under suspicion, so must they treat me, and that
every act I performed must be in the presence of two witnesses; nay,
that I would set a watch upon my own camera in the guise of a duplicate
one of the same focus--in other words, I would use a binocular
stereoscopic camera and dictate all the conditions of operation....

"Dr. G. was the first sitter, and for a reason known to myself, I used a
monocular camera. I myself took the plate out of a packet just
previously ripped up under the surveillance of my two detectives. I
placed the slide in my pocket, and exposed it by magnesium ribbon which
I held in my own hand, keeping one eye, as it were, on the sitter, and
the other on the camera. There was no background. I myself took the
plate from the dark slide, and, under the eyes of the two detectives,
placed it in the developing dish. Between the camera and the sitter a
female figure was developed, rather in a more pronounced form than that
of the sitter.... I submit this picture.... I do not recognise her or
any of the other figures I obtained, as like any one I know....

"Many experiments of like nature followed; on some plates were abnormal
appearances, on others none. All this time, Mr. D. the medium, during
the exposure of the plates, was quite inactive....

"The psychic figures behaved badly. Some were in focus. Others not so.
Some were lighted from the right, while the sitter was so from the left;
some were comely, ... others not so. Some monopolised the major portion
of the plate, quite obliterating the material sitters. Others were as if
an atrociously-badly vignetted portrait ... were held up behind the
sitter. But here is the point:--Not one of these figures which came out
so strongly in the negative, was visible in any form or shape to me
during the time of exposure in the camera, and I vouch in the strongest
manner for the fact that no one whatever had an opportunity of tampering
with any plate anterior to its being placed in the dark slide or
immediately preceding development. Pictorially they are vile, but how
came they there?

"Now all this time, I imagine you are wondering how the stereoscopic
camera was behaving itself as such. It is due to the psychic entities to
say that whatever was produced on one half of the stereoscopic plates
was produced on the other, alike good or bad in definition. But on a
careful examination of one which was rather better than the other, ... I
deduce this fact, that the impressing of the spirit form was not
consentaneous with that of the sitter. This I consider an important
discovery. I carefully examined one in the stereoscope, and found that,
while the two sitters were stereoscopic per se, the psychic figure was
absolutely flat. I also found that the psychic figure was at least a
millimetre higher up in one than the other. Now, as both had been
simultaneously exposed, it follows to demonstration that, although both
were correctly placed vertically in relation to the particular sitter
behind whom the figure appeared, and not so horizontally, this figure
had not only not been impressed on the plate simultaneously with the two
gentlemen forming the group, but had not been formed by the lens at all,
and that therefore the psychic image might be produced without a camera.
I think this is a fair deduction. But still the question obtrudes: How
came these figures there? I again assert that the plates were not
tampered with by either myself or any one present. Are they
crystallisations of thought? Have lens and light really nothing to do
with their formation? The whole subject was mysterious enough on the
hypothesis of an invisible spirit, whether a thought projection or an
actual spirit, being really there in the vicinity of the sitter, but it
is now a thousand times more so....

"In the foregoing I have confined myself as closely as possible to
narrating how I conducted a photographic experiment open to every one to
make, avoiding stating any hypothesis or belief of my own on the

Two years later, in May 1895, the spiritualists held a General
Conference in London, the proceedings of which extended over several
days. At one of the meetings Mr. Traill Taylor read a paper under the
title--"Are Spirit Photographs necessarily the Photographs of Spirits?"
An abstract of this paper appears in Light (18th May 1895), and it is
printed in full in Borderland (July 1895). At the commencement of the
paper, Mr. Taylor explained that light is the agent in the production of
an ordinary photograph; but he says: "I have ascertained, to my own
satisfaction at any rate, that light so called, so far as concerns the
experiments I have made, has nothing to do with the production of a
psychic picture, and that the lens and camera of the photographer are
consequently useless incumbrances." Following this up, Mr. Taylor says:
"It was the realisation of this that enabled me at a certain seance
recently held, at which many cameras were in requisition, to obtain
certain abnormal figures on my plates when all others failed to do so.
After withdrawing the slide from the camera, I wrapped it up in the
velvet focussing cloth and requested the medium to hold it in his hand,
giving him no clue as to my reason for doing so. A general conversation
favoured the delay in proceeding to the developing room for about five
or more minutes, during which the medium still held the wrapped-up
slide. I then relieved him of it, and in the presence of others applied
the developer, which brought to view figures in addition to that of the

In making a categorical reply to the question which forms the title of
his paper, Mr. Taylor replies--"No"--and gives various "surmises" to
account for recognisable likenesses having been obtained. At the end of
his paper Mr. Taylor says:--

"The influence of the mind of the medium in the obtaining of
psychographs might be deduced from the fact of pictures having been
obtained of angels with wings, a still popular belief of some, as
ridiculous in its conception as it is false in its anatomy, but still no
less true in its photo-pictorial outcome. This does not in the slightest
degree impair the genuineness and honesty of the medium, but it inspires
me, a disbeliever in the wing notion, with the belief that
spirit-photographs are not necessarily photographs of spirits.

"A concluding word: A medium may, on passing through a picture gallery,
become impressed by some picture which, although forgotten soon after,
may yet make a persistent appearance on his negative on subsequent
occasions. My caution is that if such be published as a spirit
photograph, care must be taken that no copyright of such picture is
infringed. I have cases of this nature in my mind's eye, but time does
not permit of this being enlarged upon, else I could have recited
several instances."

It would be extremely interesting if we could have had these "several
instances" recited. At all events, what Mr. Traill Taylor says is
suggestive, and is well worth being borne in mind by any one
investigating the subject. Some careful experiments have been made of
late years, mostly, so far as I have heard, with inconclusive, or
discouraging results. But I am not aware of any serious sustained study
of the question by any English photographer since Mr. Traill Taylor's



In the preceding chapters the chief endeavour has been to present the
scientific evidence in favour of the reality of a mass of alleged
phenomena, so far unrecognised by science as facts. The chief object is
to arouse interest, and to excite inquiry and investigation. It is
difficult to imagine a more attractive undiscovered country than that
which lies just outside the realm of recognised science, in the
direction of such phenomena as have been under consideration. It is a
country teeming with wonders, and with miraculous occurrences of endless
variety. Miraculous to us, inasmuch as they are not subject to any "Laws
of Nature" which we have discovered. The marvel is that there is not a
rush of explorers into fields incomparably more fascinating than North
or South Pole can present, and containing more treasure than gold-fields
or diamond mines can ever yield.

The two chapters devoted to phenomena occurring in the presence of D. D.
Home and W. Stainton Moses demand special reference. It is difficult to
imagine two men differing more widely in almost every respect. Mr. Myers
describes the even tenour of Mr. Stainton Moses' "straightforward and
reputable life" as "inwoven with a chain of mysteries, which ... make
that life one of the most extraordinary which our century has seen."[66]
He was a scholar, a literary man, and a clergyman of the Church of
England. He had no worldly ambition or fondness for what is called
"Society." Mr. D. D. Home, on the contrary, does not appear to have been
a man who could have been termed a religious character, or
spiritually-minded, nor did he give evidence of intellectual talent. But
he had gained access to some of the highest society in Europe. And yet
both men were "mediums" for these curious phenomena, to a wonderful
extent, both as regards the amount and the variety of the
manifestations. Although the two men were so different, there is a
parallelism in the phenomena in so many respects, that a similar origin
or source seems inevitably suggested. There were peculiarities special
to each, but untouched movements of heavy articles, "levitations,"
lights, and sounds, were phenomena common to both. From whence does this
"chain of mysteries" come? Is the source to be sought for in
undiscovered powers and faculties of the men themselves, or in the
action of other intelligences? That is a problem which must be left. It
is outside the scope of this inquiry, which deals solely with the
establishment of physical facts. But where can any other field be found
of equal interest? Difficulties and perplexities meet the explorer in
abundance. But they exist in order to be overcome by the same steady
persistence which has attained its reward in many another direction.

With regard to two other chapters I desire also to make a special
remark--those on "Materialisations" and "Spirit Photography." Both are
physical phenomena. But I desire to make it plain that no claim is made
of being able to present evidence with regard to either of these
subjects which should satisfy the reasonable demands of science. It may
be asked--Why then introduce them at all? For two reasons: (1) Because
the evidence in favour of both is only just outside the boundary of
scientific demonstration. (2) Because of the extreme interest of the
phenomena themselves.

As to "Materialisations." Out of an immense mass of testimony, most of
it of no evidential value, one case has been selected where more than
ordinary care seems to have been taken. But the phenomenon is so
marvellous, especially in its more perfect alleged phases, when the
"materialised" form is scarcely distinguishable from a living breathing
human being, that the inquirer is bound to hold his judgment in suspense
until the last possible moment.

Again as to "Spirit Photography." The term "Psychic Photography" would
be far preferable, as implying no theory. The experiences of Mr. J.
Traill Taylor, which I have selected as the sole illustration, appear to
leave no moral doubt but that under certain circumstances photographs
are produced which known laws are unable to explain. Definite and
recognisable human figures and faces are thus obtained. But this is a
very long way from proving that "spirits" sit or stand before the camera
for their photographs to be taken!

If some trained experimenter in scientific research, who possesses an
unbiassed mind, would devote himself for two or three years to the study
of either of these classes of phenomena, it is almost a certainty that
he would be richly rewarded. Is there no one who will enter upon the

There is one large group of evidence, embracing most of the phenomena
which have been under consideration, from which I had hoped to make
copious selections, with pleasure to myself, and with interest to the
reader. No living scientist has bestowed so large an amount of study on
"certain phenomena usually termed spiritualistic" as Sir William
Crookes. As long ago as the year 1874, Sir William Crookes gave
permission for the reprint of a limited number of copies of various
articles which he had contributed to the periodical literature of the
day. These, with some other original matter, were published under the
title of "Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism." That volume has
long been out of print. In 1890, an article by Sir William Crookes,
under the title of "Notes of Seances with D. D. Home," was published in
volume vi. of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research.
He also referred to his experiences with D. D. Home, in two addresses
delivered at meetings of the Society in 1894 and in 1899. These are
reported in the Journal of the Society. Sir William Crookes also
devoted a portion of his address, as President of the British
Association in 1898, to a reference to the part he took many years
before in psychical research. This portion of the address was reprinted
in volume xiv. of the Proceedings of the Society.

Considerations, which cannot be entered into here, compel me, however,
to be content with referring the reader to the publications mentioned,
a study of which will, I think, bring conviction that the scientific
evidence they contain would, even if it stood alone, be amply sufficient
to prove the reality of the alleged phenomena.[67]

* * * * *

We are now warranted in the assertion that we have arrived at this
position: That the careful reader is compelled to admit that the
evidence in favour of a variety of alleged physical phenomena being
undoubted facts, is too strong to be resisted. We are accustomed to say
in ordinary life, the proof of this or that is complete. The man of
science is accustomed to say in his own sphere of inquiry, the proof of
this or that is complete. Applying the same rules of evidence to
physical phenomena generally called spiritualistic, we are bound to
admit that in regard to many of them the proof of their reality is
complete. Yet these facts are not recognised by the world of science,
and are scarcely deemed worthy of any serious attention by the majority
of intelligent people.

It may be worth while to consider for a few moments the mode in which
new knowledge enters the mind. By new knowledge is meant not extension
of existing knowledge, but facts of a new order, such, for instance, as
the rising of a heavy dining table into the air without any recognised
physical cause being apparent. The difficulty of admitting new facts of
this kind to the mind is not confined to any one class of people.
Indeed the difficulty appears to be greater in the case of highly
educated people than among the comparatively uninformed. Sir Oliver
Lodge has recently said: "What does a 'proof' mean? A proof means
destroying the isolation of an observed fact or experience by linking it
on with all pre-existent knowledge; it means the bringing it into its
place in the system of knowledge; and it affords the same sort of
gratification as finding the right place for a queer-shaped piece in a
puzzle-map. Do not let these puzzle-maps go out of fashion; they afford
a most useful psychological illustration; the foundation of every
organised system of truth is bound up with them.... It is because a
number of phenomena, such as clairvoyance, physical movement without
contact, and other apparent abnormalities and unusualnesses, cannot at
present be linked on with the rest of knowledge in a coherent stream--it
is for that reason that they are not, as yet, generally recognised as
true; they stand at present outside the realms of science; they will be
presently incorporated into that kingdom, and annexed by the progress of

Mr. F. C. S. Schiller, in an article in the Proceedings of the Society
for Psychical Research, expresses a similar thought in a different
manner. He says:--

"A mind unwilling to believe, or even undesirous to be instructed, our
weightiest evidence must ever fail to impress. It will insist on taking
that evidence in bits, and rejecting it item by item. The man therefore
who announces his intention of waiting until a single absolutely
conclusive bit of evidence turns up, is really a man not open to
conviction, and if he is a logician, he knows it. For modern logic has
made it plain that single facts can never be 'proved,' except by their
coherence in a system. But as all the facts come singly, any one who
dismisses them one by one, is destroying the conditions under which the
conviction of new truth could arise in his mind."[69]

Mr. Myers, in summing up the evidence in the case of Mr. Stainton Moses,
dwells on the importance of simple repetition. This, though practically
effective, is scarcely a scientific consideration. A fact is none the
less a fact on account of the rarity of its occurrence, any more than
the existence of a rare animal or plant is rendered questionable by the
fewness of the number of specimens which have been found.

An interesting chapter might be written under the title of "The
History of the Growth in the Belief in Hypnotism during the last
Twenty-five Years." One episode that would be included in such a
history may be worth quoting here as illustrating the present subject.
As recently as 1891, the British Medical Association appointed a
Committee, consisting of eleven of its number, "to investigate the
nature of the phenomena of hypnotism, its value as a therapeutic
agent, and the propriety of using it." This Committee presented a
Report at the Annual Meeting in the following year. In the first
paragraph they solemnly stated that they "have satisfied themselves of
the genuineness of the hypnotic state" (!). They also expressed the
"opinion that as a therapeutic agent hypnotism is frequently effective
in relieving pain, procuring sleep, and alleviating many functional
ailments" (!). They are also of opinion that its "employment for
therapeutic purposes should be confined to qualified medical men."

The Association referred this unanimous Report of its Committee back for
further consideration. In 1893 the Committee presented it again, with
the addition of an important Appendix, consisting of "some documentary
evidence upon which the Report was based." On this occasion it was moved
and seconded, that the Report should lie on the table. It was suggested
that the amendment to this effect be so altered as to read that the
Report be received only, and the Committee thanked for their services.
Finally, a resolution to this effect was carried. The most strongly
worded recommendation of the Report was that some legal restriction
should be placed on public exhibitions of hypnotic phenomena. This was
only twelve years ago, and was five or six years subsequent to the
publication of some of Mr. Edmund Gurney's most important series of
experiments in hypnotism in the Proceedings of the Society for
Psychical Research. The "reception only" of the Report was also two or
three years subsequent to a demonstration of hypnotic anaesthesia which
Dr. J. Milne Bramwell gave at Leeds to a large gathering of medical men.
One result of that gathering was that Dr. Bramwell decided to abandon
general practice and devote himself to hypnotic work. Dr. Bramwell

"As I was well aware of the fate that had awaited earlier pioneers in
the same movement, I naturally expected to meet with opposition and
misrepresentation. These have been encountered, it is true; but the
friendly help and encouragement received have been immeasurably greater.
I have also had many opportunities of placing my views before my
professional brethren, both by writing and speaking;" to which Dr.
Bramwell somewhat naively adds--"opportunities all the more valued,
because almost always unsolicited."[70]

An incident which occurred in connection with the most sensational case
of "levitation" recorded of D. D. Home, is very instructive as
illustrating the great care that is needful in estimating the value of
testimony regarding spiritualistic phenomena, even of statements made by
persons of established reputation and position.

The Joint Report of Professor Barrett and Mr. Myers, from which extracts
were made in Chapter V., says:--

"Lords Lindsay and Adare had printed a statement that Home floated out
of the window, and in at another, in Ashley Place, S.W., 16th December
1868. A third person, Captain Wynne, was present at the time, but had
written no separate account. Dr. Carpenter, in an article in the
Contemporary Review for January 1876, thus commented on the

"'The most diverse accounts of the facts of a seance will be given by
a believer and a sceptic. A whole party of believers will affirm that
they saw Mr. Home float out of one window, and in at another, while a
single honest sceptic declares that Mr. Home was sitting in his chair
all the time. And in this last case we have an example of a fact, of
which there is ample illustration, that during the prevalence of an
epidemic delusion, the honest testimony of any number of individuals on
one side, if given under a prepossession, is of no more weight than that
of a single adverse witness--if so much.'

"This passage was of course quoted as implying that Captain Wynne had
somewhere made a statement contradicting Lords Lindsay and Adare. Home
wrote to him to inquire; and he replied ... in the following terms:--

"'I remember that Dr. Carpenter wrote some nonsense about that trip of
yours along the side of the house in Ashley Place. I wrote to the
Medium to say that I was present as a witness. Now I don't think that
any one who knows me would for one moment say that I was a victim to
hallucination or any other humbug of the kind. The fact of your having
gone out of the window and in at the other I can swear to.'"

"It seems, therefore, that the instance selected by Dr. Carpenter to
prove the existence of a hallucination--by the exemption of one person
present from the illusion--was of a very unfortunate kind; suggesting,
indeed, that a controversialist thus driven to draw on his imagination
for his facts must have been conscious of a weak case."[71]

It may be interesting, in concluding this brief examination into one
branch of the great subject of "Spiritualism," to bring together a few
of the impressions produced on the minds of some of the leading
investigators. It should not be forgotten that the branch of the subject
which we have been studying may be looked upon as representing the
lowest steps only of a great staircase which ascends, until, to our
gaze, it is lost in unknown infinite heights. It is only the foot of a
ladder, to use another simile, resting on the material earth, which we
have been considering; at most the two or three lowest rungs. But to the
eyes of some, even now and here, glimpses of angels ascending and
descending are visible.

Five names stand out prominently before all others among the earlier
investigators of the last thirty years--Sir William Crookes and
Professor W. F. Barrett, who are still with us; and Professor Henry
Sidgwick, Edmund Gurney, and F. W. H. Myers, who have gone. Sir William
Crookes' work in other directions has been all-absorbing, so that all he
has been able to tell us during the last few years, in relation to our
present subject, is that he had nothing to add to, and nothing to
retract from what he has said in the past. In his address as President
of the British Association in 1898, Sir William Crookes said, after
referring to his work of thirty years ago:--

"I think I see a little further now. I have glimpses of something like
coherence among the strange elusive phenomena, of something like
continuity between those unexplained forces, and laws already known....
Were I now introducing for the first time these inquiries to the world
of science, I should choose a starting-point different from that of old.
It would be well to begin with Telepathy; with the fundamental law, as I
believe it to be, that thoughts and images may be transferred from one
mind to another without the agency of the recognised organs of
sense--that knowledge may enter the human mind without being
communicated in any hitherto known or recognised ways."[72]

For Professor Barrett's present views the reader is referred to his
address as President of the Society for Psychical Research delivered in
January 1904.[73] It is full of interest, but is not easy to quote from.
Speaking of "spiritualistic phenomena," he says: "We must all agree that
indiscriminate condemnation on the one hand, and ignorant credulity on
the other, are the two most mischievous elements with which we are
confronted in connection with this subject. It is because we, as a
Society, feel that in the fearless pursuit of truth, it is the paramount
duty of science to lead the way, that the scornful attitude of the
scientific world towards even the investigation of these phenomena is so
much to be deprecated.... I suppose we are all apt to fancy our own
power of discernment and of sound judgment to be somewhat better than
our neighbours. But after all, is it not the common-sense, the care, the
patience, and the amount of uninterrupted attention we bestow upon any
psychical phenomena we are investigating, that gives value to the
opinion at which we arrive, and not the particular cleverness or
scepticism of the observer? The lesson we all need to learn is, that
what even the humblest of men affirm, from their own experience, is
always worth listening to, but what even the cleverest of men, in their
ignorance, deny, is never worth a moment's attention."[74]

As regards Professor Sidgwick, the experimental work of the Society for
Psychical Research soon convinced him that Thought-Transference, or
Telepathy, was a fact. In an address in 1889, after speaking of the
probabilities of testimony given being false, he says:--

"It is for this reason that I feel that a part of my grounds for
believing in Telepathy, depending as it does on personal knowledge,
cannot be communicated except in a weakened form to the ordinary reader
of the printed statements which represent the evidence that has
convinced me. Indeed I feel this so strongly that I have always made it
my highest ambition as a psychical researcher to produce evidence which
will drive my opponents to doubt my honesty or veracity; I think there
are a very small minority who will not doubt them, and that if I can
convince them I have done all that I can do: as regards the majority of
my own acquaintances I should claim no more than an admission that they
were considerably surprised to find me in the trick."[75]

I am not aware that Professor Sidgwick ever expressed any opinion as to
the reality of the ordinary physical spiritualistic manifestations. It
is clear that he believed a large proportion to have been fraudulently
produced. As to some psychical phenomena, his convictions were very
strong. For instance, in the final paragraph of the "Report on
Hallucinations," which occupies the whole of the tenth volume of the
Proceedings of the Society, and to which he appended his name, these
two sentences occur: "Between deaths and apparitions of the dying person
a connection exists which is not due to chance alone. This we hold as a
proved fact."[76] And Professor Sidgwick speaks of this as corroborating
the conclusion already drawn by Mr. Gurney nearly ten years earlier.

Mr. Edmund Gurney's name stands next. His earthly work came to a sudden
termination in 1888. "Phantasms of the Living" is his enduring memorial.
Although two other names are associated with his on the title-page, the
greater part of the two volumes was written by him alone. For most of
the views expressed Mr. Gurney is solely responsible. In a chapter
devoted to "The Theory of Chance-Coincidence" as an explanation of the
order of natural phenomena to which "Phantasms of the Living" belong,
Mr. Gurney says:--

"Figures, one is sometimes told, can be made to prove anything; but I
confess I should be curious to see the figures by which the theory of
chance-coincidence could here be proved adequate to the facts. Whatever
group of phenomena be selected, and whatever method of reckoning be
adopted, probabilities are hopelessly and even ludicrously

This is the conclusion referred to above by Professor Sidgwick. With
exclusively physical phenomena Mr. Gurney did not much concern himself.

The last of the five names mentioned is that of Mr F. W. H. Myers. The
written testimony he has left behind enables us to obtain a much clearer
view of his conclusions as a whole, than is attainable in the case of
Professor Sidgwick and Mr. Gurney. The convictions which he came to in
regard to the two most notable "mediums" in the history of modern
spiritualism--D. D. Home and W. Stainton Moses--are evidence that he
believed in most of the alleged phenomena being proved realities. These
convictions are so important from such a careful and competent student
of the subject that it is best to quote them in his own words. Of D. D.
Home he said: "If our readers ask us--'Do you desire us to go on
experimenting in these matters, as though Home's phenomena were
genuine?'--we answer 'Yes.'"[78] Of the phenomena which occurred in the
presence of W. Stainton Moses, Mr. Myers said: "That they were not
produced fraudulently by Dr. Speer or other sitters I regard as proved
both by moral considerations and by the fact that they are constantly
reported as occurring when Mr. Moses was alone. That Mr. Moses should
have himself fraudulently produced them, I regard as both morally and
physically incredible. That he should have prepared and produced them in
a state of trance, I regard both as physically incredible, and also as
entirely inconsistent with the tenour both of his own reports and of
those of his friends. I therefore regard the reported phenomena as
having actually occurred in a genuinely supernormal manner."[79]

At the same time Mr. Myers believed in the existence of a large amount
of conscious and wilful fraud, especially in professional mediumship.

* * * * *

There will be no fitter conclusion to this volume than a few passages
from the last chapter, entitled "Epilogue," of "Human Personality," by
Mr. F. W. H. Myers. To a large extent they are appropriate to the
evidence presented in the preceding pages.

"The task which I proposed to myself at the beginning of this work, is
now, after a fashion, accomplished. Following the successive steps of my
programme, I have presented--not indeed all the evidence I possess, and
which I would willingly present--but enough at least to illustrate a
continuous exposition.... Such wider generalisations as I may now add,
must needs be dangerously speculative; they must run the risk of
alienating still further from this research many of the scientific minds
which I am most anxious to influence....

"The inquiry falls between the two stools of religion and science; it
cannot claim support either from the 'religious world' or from the Royal
Society. Yet even apart from the instinct of pure scientific curiosity
(which surely has seldom seen such a field opening before it), the
mighty issues depending on these phenomena ought, I think, to constitute
in themselves a strong, an exceptional appeal. I desire in this book to
emphasise that appeal; not only to produce conviction, but also to
attract co-operation. And actual converse with many persons has led me
to believe that in order to attract such help, even from scientific men,
some general view of the moral upshot of all the phenomena is needed....
The time is ripe for a study of unseen things as strenuous and sincere
as that which Science has made familiar for the problems of earth."

Coming now to more definite considerations, Mr. Myers writes thus of
Telepathy, lifting it on to an altogether higher plane: "In the
infinite Universe man may now feel, for the first time, at home. The
worst fear is over; the true security is won. The worst fear was the
fear of spiritual extinction or spiritual solitude. The true security
is in the telepathic law. Let me draw out my meaning at somewhat
greater length. As we have dwelt successively on various aspects of
Telepathy we have gradually felt the conception enlarge and deepen
under our study. It began as a quasi-mechanical transference of ideas
and images from one to another brain." This is illustrated by the
series of Thought-Transference Drawings; almost the only telepathic
manifestation which strictly comes within the scope of our inquiry
into physical phenomena. "Presently we find it assuming a more varied
and potent form, as though it were the veritable influence or invasion
of a distant mind. Again, its action was traced across a gulf greater
than any space of earth or ocean, and it bridged the interval between
spirits incarnate and discarnate, between the visible and the
invisible world. There seemed no limit to the distance of its
operation, or to the intimacy of its appeal....

"Love ... is no matter of carnal impulse or of emotional caprice....
Love is a kind of exalted but unspecialised Telepathy;--the simplest and
most universal expression of that mutual gravitation or kinship of
spirits which is the foundation of the telepathic law. This is the
answer to the ancient fear; the fear lest man's fellowships be the
outward, and his solitude the inward thing.... Such fears vanish when we
learn that it is the soul in man which links him with other souls; the
body which dissevers even while it seems to unite.... Like atoms, like
suns, like galaxies, our spirits are systems of forces which vibrate
continually to each other's attractive power."

For the further working out of these thoughts the reader must be
referred to Mr. Myers' book itself. After a few pages Mr. Myers

"Our duty [the duty of Psychical Researchers] is not the founding of a
new sect, nor even the establishment of a new science, but is rather the
expansion of Science herself until she can satisfy those questions,
which the human heart will rightly ask, but to which Religion alone has
thus far attempted an answer.... I see our original programme completely
justified.... I see all things coming to pass as we foresaw. What I do
not see, alas! is an energy and capacity of our own, sufficient for
our widening duty.... We invite workers from each department of
science, from every school of thought. With equal confidence we appeal
for co-operation to savant and to saint.

"To the savant we point out that we are not trying to pick holes in
the order of Nature, but rather by the scrutiny of residual phenomena,
to get nearer to the origin and operation of Nature's central mystery of
Life. Men who realise that the ethereal environment was discovered
yesterday, need not deem it impossible that a metethereal
environment--yet another omnipresent system of cosmic law--should be
discovered to-morrow. The only valid a priori presumption in the
matter, is the presumption that the Universe is infinite in an infinite
number of ways.

"To the Christian we can speak with a still more direct appeal. You
believe--I would say--that a spiritual world exists, and that it acted
on the material world two thousand years ago. Surely it is so acting
still. Nay, you believe that it is so acting still, for you believe that
prayer is heard and answered. To believe that prayer is heard is to
believe in Telepathy--in the direct influence of mind on mind. To
believe that prayer is answered is to believe that unembodied spirit
does actually modify (even if not storm-cloud or plague-germ) at least
the minds, and therefore the brains, of living men. From that belief the
most advanced 'psychical' theories are easy corollaries."

A few more lines in conclusion:--

"It may be that for some generations to come the truest faith will lie
in the patient attempt to unravel from confused phenomena some trace of
the supernal world;--to find thus at last 'the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' I confess, indeed, that I
have often felt as though this present age were even unduly
favoured;--as though no future revelation and calm could equal the joy
of this great struggle from doubt into certainty;--from the materialism
or agnosticism which accompany the first advance of Science into the
deeper scientific conviction that there is a deathless soul in man. I
can imagine no other crisis of such deep delight."

Previous: Materialisations

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