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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Charles Richet, Thirty Years of Psychical Research

Thirty Years of Psychical Research

A Treatise on Metapsychics
Charles Richet, PhD



I have now reached the end of this long investigation. I have endeavoured, while giving a place, possibly too large a place, to my own researches, to collect the documentary evidence very widely scattered in many records, and to put some order into a matter which up to the present has never been synthetically studied. I have tried to extricate the sciences anathematized as occult from the chaos in which they were involved, and to put in a clear light knowledge that official science, in the pride of its reputation, has refused to consider. It has seemed to me that the time has come to claim for metapsychics a place among recognized sciences by making it conform to the rigour and the logical treatment which have given them their authority.
Scientific men will be surprised, and perhaps indignant. But if they have the wisdom-the elementary wisdom, as it seems to me -to consent to read this long and laborious study, they will be obliged to give way before the evidence.
My intention will be evident from the contents of the book. I have desired, while eliminating as far as possible everything notoriously uncertain, and expressly stating my doubts as to certain experiments, to present facts and observations, for these are the foundation of every science.
Finally, it has appeared to me, as it will doubtless appear to every impartial reader, that there are too many well-verified facts and rigorously conducted experiments that chance, illusion, or fraud should always be attributed to all these facts and experiments without exception.
But as the facts are very strange and the experiments seem to clash so often with current scientific dogmas, the affirmations made will give rise to strongly adverse criticism and to mocking in credulity. This is the lot of all new ideas, and it moves me not at

all. I only hope, and surely this is not asking too much, that I shall not be condemned unread. No one can form a serious and considered opinion worthy of respect by casually turning over the leaves of a book that sums up the labours of two hundred honest and skilful workers. I would like to say to my critics, as did Themistocles, "Strike, but listen."
It troubles me more than in the camp of those who are not sceptical I shall meet with very strong opposition. On the one hand I have been willing to narrate many surprising facts admitted by spiritualists, and on the other hand I have not felt able to adopt their theories; for I have always sought to plant my feet firmly on the earth and have preferred a rationalist explanation even when it seems improbable. And, frankly, my position causes me some pain.
In very many cases the spiritist hypothesis is obviously absurd -absurd because it is superfluous-and again absurd because it assumes that human beings of very moderate intelligence survive the destruction of the brain. All the same, in certain cases-rare indeed, but whose significance I do not disguise—there are, apparently at least, intelligent and reasoned intentions, forces, and wills in the phenomena produced; and the power has all the character of extraneous energy (see p. 352, children's death-beds).
In these cases the spiritualist explanation is much the simplest; or, if some will not hear of that, the hypothesis that there are intelligent beings that interpose in our lives and can exercise some power over matter.
I do not seek to attenuate the bearing of these facts; but I cannot adopt the inference that there are spirits-intelligences outside human intelligence. My inference is a different one; it is that the human personality has both material and psychological powers that we do not know.
And as this hypothesis by no means satisfies me, I will add, as a final remark, that in our present state of knowledge we are not in a position to understand.


Our evolution takes place in the midst of the unknown; but nevertheless two leading facts have been placed beyond doubt: 1. The human mind has other sources of cognition than the normal senses-cryptesthesia.

2. There are materializations-powers that, emerging from the body, can take form and act as if they were material bodiesectoplasms.
It seems to me that we can go no farther than cryptesthesia and ectoplasms without being lost in mists.
What amazing stories I have heard, told me by witnesses of unquestionable good faith! But they had observed with greater enthusiasm than critical accuracy, and when the matter concerns highly improbable facts we cannot be satisfied with half proofs, with experiments that are almost conclusive, or inferences that are nearly certain. I have not included these allegations in my book, even when I have reason to think them not unfounded. I have not busied myself with problematical narratives, so that while some may think me too credulous, many will think me too severely critical.
Movement without contact, clairvoyance, phantoms, and premonitions are so very unusual that when we first hear of them we are inclined to laugh at them. Till we have studied them we laugh and deny. This was my state of mind for a very long time as it was that of Crookes, Lombroso, Russel Wallace, Zollner, Oliver Lodge, Morselli, and Bottazzi, and I shall therefore be in no way surprised should my account of parallel facts provoke incredulity and mockery. The less attention is given to reading, the greater will be the disposition to ridicule.
Moreover, it is not argument that will bring conviction. Even severe mathematical demonstration does not always convince. We must be accustomed to a phenomenon before we can accept it.1


Perhaps-and I admit it-the innumerable experiments published by eminent men of science would not have convinced me, had I not been a witness of the four fundamental facts of metapsychics. I was an unwilling witness, in no way enthusiastic, very critical, extremely distrustful of the facts that forced themselves upon me. I was able to verify, under unexceptionable conditions
1 M. Thiers, ex-president of the French Parliament, having determined to acquire a knowledge of mathematics in his old age, rebelled when his teacher showed him that the section of any cone at any angle with the axis showed a regular ellipse. "Not possible," he said. "When a sugar-loaf is cut obliquely, there must be a big and a little end." Not till an actual sugar-loaf had been brought and cut would he admit conviction.

and despite my desire to disprove them, the four essential facts of metapsychics.
These four personal experiences, all four of which carry obvious proof, determined my belief, and that not at once, but after long consideration, meditation, and repetition.
A. Cryptesthesia. Stella, in presence of G., whose family she does not and cannot have known, gave the first names of his son, of his wife, of a deceased brother, of a living brother, of his father-in-law, and of the locality where he lived as a child.
B. Telekinesis. While Eusapia's head and hands were held, a large melon weighing six pounds was moved from the sideboard to the table, the distance between them being over a yard.
C. Ectoplasms. Eusapia was in half light, her left hand in my right and her right in my left tightly held, and before Lodge, Myers, and Ochorowicz, a third hand stroked my face, pinched my nose, pulled my hair, and gave a smack on my shoulder heard by Ochorowicz, Myers, and Lodge.
D. Premonitions. Alice, at 2 P.M. told me, for the first and only time, that I should soon give way to violent anger before one, two, three persons whom she designated with her hand as if she saw them. At G P.M. the unlikely and unforeseeable impertinence of a person absolutely unknown to Alice provoked me to one of the strongest and most justifiable fits of anger of my whole life before two other persons, an anger that led to my receiving a challenge to a duel, the only one I have ever received.
These four experiences, by their precision and faultlessness, sufficed, if not to produce conviction, at least the beginnings of conviction. As will be obvious, from reading the book, I have had many other proofs, but in this summary I mention only one of the most characteristic of each kind.


These four personal experiences amount to nothing, just nothing, compared with the multiple proofs that other men of science have brought forward. An edifice cannot be built on four little stones, however solid they may be; and the reader who has not, like me, had the happy opportunity of similar experiences will require proofs, if not stronger, at any rate more numerous, and will need other testimony than mine.

Testimony is abundant and proofs innumerable. Decisive proofs are repeated daily. In this book, which is a collection of facts rather than an exposition of doctrine, I have intentionally multiplied instances at the risk of producing weariness and boredom. The authority of the witnesses and the mass of repeated proofs are such that doubt is not warranted. Cryptesthesia, telekinesis, ectoplasms, and premonition seem to me founded on granite; that is to say, on hundreds of exact observations and hundreds of rigorous experiments. The thing is a certainty; and even though among these thousands of observations there may be defects, gaps, errors, and illusions, sometimes mistakes of testimony, occasionally trickeries, more often casual coincidence, still more often ill-considered assertions, still the thing is certain. It is not possible that all these observers should never have made mistakes, but the whole constitutes a sheaf of testimony so large and homogeneous, that no criticism of details, however acute, will be able to disintegrate and disperse.
1. There is in us a faculty of cognition that differs radically from the usual sensorial faculties (Cryptesthesia).
2. There are, even in full light, movements of objects without contact (Telekinesis).
3. Hands, bodies, and objects seem to take shape in their entirety from a cloud and take all the semblance of life (Ectoplasms).
4. There occur premonitions that can be explained neither by chance nor perspicacity, and are sometimes verified in minute detail. Such are my firm and explicit conclusions. I cannot go beyond them.


Thus it seems to me that the general conclusions of metapsychics are rigorously true. I even go so far as to think that many phenomena indicated in this book as still doubtful (for when proof has seemed to me less than rigorous I have suspected and gone near to denying them) may soon be recognized as authentic. Metapsychic science will go much farther than I have ventured to think. I have wished to err on the side of prudence, accepting only that which has been proved, and well proved, twenty times or more. Official scientists will certainly find me too credulous; still more certainly spiritualists and occultists will find me terribly sceptical.

To imagine that all metapsychics are but illusion is to suppose that William Crookes, A. R. Wallace, Lombroso, Zollner, F. W. H. Myers, Oliver Lodge, Aksakoff, J. Ochorowicz, J. Maxwell, Boutleroff, Du Prel, William James, Morselli, Bottazzi, Bozzano, Flammarion, A. de Rochas, A. de Gramont, Schrenck-Nothing, and William Barrett were all, without exception, liars or imbeciles; it is to suppose that two hundred distinguished observers less eminent, perhaps, but persons of high and acute intelligence, were also liars or imbeciles.


Why should men of science, whether mathematicians, chemists, or physiologists, oppose cryptesthesia and ectoplasms ? Are these new facts in contradiction with the old facts?
I lay stress on this, because men do not distinguish sufficiently between a contradiction and a new affirmation.
Nothing in metapsychics is in contradiction with official science; but there are new affirmations.
Psycho-physiology teaches that cognizance of things reaches us through our senses; that if the retina is excited there is a visual sensation; if Corti's membrane, an auditive one. But psychophysiology has never attempted to demonstrate, and could never demonstrate, that no other (unusual) channels of cognition can exist. It would be a contradiction to say that excitation of the retina does not produce a visual image, but it is not a contradiction to maintain that there may be a visual image without retinal excitation.
In other words, Science establishes positive facts, and there she is all-powerful. She is not, however, justified in formulating one single negation, for at every moment she is confronted by profound mysteries. Therefore when new facts supported by many irrefragable proofs are brought forward, the new facts being positive facts that do not contradict the old positive facts, lovers of truth ought to bow before them and receive them joyfully.
Taken for all in all nothing is simpler than cryptesthesia ; no more need be accepted than that the human mind has means of cognition other than our five poor senses. This is not an extraordinarily bold assertion, and cannot be rejected a priori. To deny this a priori is to dare to assert that those five poor senses delimit the knowable.

The case for ectoplasms and telekinesis is the same. No more need be accepted than that in the immensity of the Cosmos there may be intelligent energies (human or non-human) that can act on matter. This also is not a very rash hypothesis. What is rash is not to suppose that such forces exist, but to affirm that they  do not.
What man of science worthy of the name could affirm that science has classified, analyzed, and penetrated all the energies of immeasurable nature, or could make the strange and pretentious claim that we know all the dynamic manifestations in the world! A mere glance over the list of possible vibrations of the Ether, itself a hypothesis and a mystery, shows many of which we know nothing; and is it not foolish to aver that all the phenomena in the universe can be only vibrations of Ether?
To admit telekinesis and ectoplasms is not to destroy even the smallest fragment of science; it is but to admit new data, and that there are unknown energies. Then why be indignant, when, on the basis of thousands of observations and experiments, we affirm one of those unknown energies?
Everything that is not in formal contradiction with known facts is possible. Well, materializations and telekinesis do not contradict one single established scientific fact. That a hand having all the attributes of a living hand should be formed from a whitish cloud in no way nullifies the laws of circulation, nutrition, and structure of a normal hand. It is new fact but not a contradictory one.


It is true that in this terrifying science of metapsychics there is one fact more terrible than others Premonition. This is established by sure proofs, but it is incomprehensible by us. Our psychological constitution forbids the concept that future events are as determinate as past events, and that inexorable fatality regulates human and non-human affairs shown to the smallest detail. We shall not seek to explore farther into this abyss. Unquestionably premonition is not in contradiction with scientific data; but (and this is perhaps more formidable) it clashes strongly with our consciousness, for that consciousness refuses to admit the inevitability of that which is yet to come.
We shall therefore attempt neither explanation nor justification of premonitions. We shall keep within the boundary of positive

facts; establishing these without concerning ourselves with the inferences they involve and without deducing nebulous theories. Our function is to know what actually is, not what is possible. Sir William Crookes so stated the problem, and we shall follow his lead.


We have demonstrated the reality of the facts, but this is only a first step. A fact by itself is a small thing unless it be linked logically with homologous facts, so that a coherent relation with seemingly disparate phenomena emerges to view with an outline at least of a tenable theory. We are therefore constrained, the facts being demonstrated, to discuss theories if only to discover the profound significance of the facts.
We shall be brief, though innumerable ponderous volumes have been written on metapsychic theories.
At the outset it must be laid down that in order to construct a complete theory of metapsychics it is not sufficient to establish one that satisfies cryptesthesia, another for telekinesis, and a third for ectoplasms. Any tenable theory must give some sort of synthetic explanation of all three. The more we study the complex details of these phenomena, the closer their connection is seen to be.
Many scientific men, notably the distinguished members of the S. P. R. (especially F. Podmore and H. Sidgwick) thought at first that everything could be reduced to telepathy; that is, in final analysis, to a cerebral vibration in an individual A, corresponding to a cerebral vibration in another individual, B. According to them telepathy explained everything. But today Sir William Barrett and Sir Oliver Lodge think quite otherwise.
Telepathy is a phenomenon whose extent may be fantastically exaggerated. Distance counts for nothing, and an emotion in A may be transmitted to B, even if there is a thousand miles between them. And moreover for this transmission to occur it is not necessary that either A or B should be conscious of the vibrations that move their minds. Will and consciousness have no part in the phenomena; it suffices that an ancient memory of which it is entirely ignorant should be buried in A's consciousness for it to be transmitted to B. The consciousness of both may equally be unaware of the whole proceeding. This clearing-house is in the subconsciousness.

If all that is claimed for telepathy is to be accepted, the full implications of this ambitious but frail theory must be realized. Since a human thought, however unconscious, however distant, or however ancient, can react upon another human thought, it suffices that as soon as B experiences an emotion or a cognition, there should be anywhere on this planet another person, A, having the same emotion or cognition, to explain that of B. It follows that telepathy can always, or nearly always, be invoked, and that A, however indifferent, however distant, or however unconscious he may be, has transmitted this emotion to B. The facts that are or have been unknown to any living person are few indeed.
This theory seems to me dangerously exclusive. In several of the preceding chapters, instances of super-normal consciousness (cryptesthesia) have been given that cannot be explained by telepathy.
In the first place, premonitions, without exception. In these there is no room for telepathy, since neither A nor B can know the future by ordinary means.
But even outside premonitions there are sometimes astonishing divinations, reproductions of drawings taken at random from among many others, and cognitions of words that no one knows of. Drawings in an envelope have been presented to a sensitive for reproduction, and occasionally (the experiment being then still more rigorous) the experimenter has been unaware of the contents of the envelope, so that no person living or dead knows the particular design to be guessed by B. Second-sight, lucidity, clairvoyance (hellsehen), cryptesthesia, as I prefer to call it, are therefore actualities that telepathy cannot explain. In the numerous experiments with Mrs. Piper many curious and very precise details were given on distant families, details that were unknown to the persons questioning Mrs. Piper.
To read the many accounts of monitions given above is to perceive that in at least one-third of the cases, telepathy (even allowing it an extreme and almost absurd extension) does not suffice to explain the cognition sometimes shown by a sensitive of things that no normal intelligence could be aware of.
Far from denying telepathy we strongly affirm that it exists, and even that it is one of the most incontestable facts of metapsychology. An emotion, a thought, and (more extraordinary

still) a name, a number, or a drawing can be transmitted from A to B. If, as it seems to me, cryptesthesia is the cognition of the actual, then human thought, being itself an actuality, can provoke cryptesthesia.
Telepathy is therefore only a particular case of cryptesthesia. I even think that among the unknown vibrations that bring cryptesthesia into action, human thought is one of those that can most easily be transmitted.
If the word telepathy is held to mean that there is synchronous and synergetic vibrations of two human thoughts, it is a hypothesis. Cryptesthesia, on the contrary, is not a hypothesis. It is a word indicating a fact. Truth to tell, it is nothing but a word, since it signifies a means of cognition unknown to us. But till the true theory comes, the fact must suffice.
In any case, telepathy presupposes cryptesthesia, since the faculty that enables it to receive the vibrations of another's thought implies a new and incomprehensible function. That a drawing known to A, enclosed in an opaque envelope, should be reproduced by B is entirely mysterious, and the mystery is no deeper if A holding the drawing has no idea what it may be; perhaps, indeed, the mental vibration of A in visualizing a drawing is actually, in itself, more obscure than the clear outlines of a drawing locked away in a box.
After all, it does not signify whether one or the other difficulty is the greater-the facts are there, the brutal facts, ordering us to accept both cryptesthesia and telepathy. All that can be conceded is that telepathy is a special and frequent case of cryptesthesia.


When we speak of a mysterious faculty of cognition, saying no more, we do but state our ignorance: and this ignorance is coextensive with cryptesthesia ; we cannot assign limits to it.
Mrs. Piper speaks to Mrs. Verrall of an Aunt Susan, born in 1791, who had in her house a portrait of her son painted in oils. This was a fact that Mrs. Verrall did not know and never had known. How did this precise and insignificant fact reach Mrs. Piper's mind? A hypothesis has been put forward that so-called inert things emit special vibrations, emanations of some kind, which excite cryptesthesia in sensitives, though they do not affect the normal senses.

The emanations from subterranean springs or metals moving the dowser's rod are good examples of this. Since there is one rhabdic force some of whose laws are known, why should there not be others?
A ring worn by Martin's grandmother has retained some effluvia of this woman so that the sensitive to whom this ring is given will say something about her-a name, a detail of her dress, a long-forgotten accident, a trait of character. This has been called psychometry, a very incorrect term, to which I prefer "pragmatic cryptesthesia," meaning a sensibility to emanations from things.
It is quite possible that there may be emanations from things; but in many cases lucidity comes into play without (apparently) any material object to awaken it. If, for some few cases of haunting, it may be supposed that the objects in a house have retained, as it were, a vapour emanating from those who have dwelt in it, this supposition is very far from accounting for all the phenomena, and the hypothesis applies only to a very few particular cases.
The hypothesis of emanations is perhaps partially applicable, but is nearly always inadequate; it may help to explain some cases, but for most of the phenomena of cryptesthesia it is inoperative.


As a second hypothesis, it may be supposed that sometimes the normal human senses may attain a prodigious acuity; so that visual sensibility may become so sharp as to distinguish clearly a drawing in an opaque envelope, or auditory sensibility may become so keen as to hear the ticking of a watch 600 miles away.
This hyperaesthesia is not altogether absurd; it would only be an extraordinary extension of a normal faculty, and there are some very rare cases of cryptesthesia that seem of a kind best to be explained by superacuity of the senses, or perhaps of their transposition. But in most cases no sensorial hyperaesthesia, however great, would cover the facts, for there is very much more than vision and audition at a distance.


A third and very simple hypothesis now presents itself. It has been adopted from the first with unreflecting enthusiasm. It is that the mind of the sensitive is invaded, possessed, and replaced by

another mind-that of a deceased person whose intelligence and consciousness are not dead. George Pelham after his death continues to exist as a spirit, which then speaks by the brain, the larynx, and the lips of Mrs. Piper, who is the intermediary (medium) between the world of the living and the world of the dead. We have now come to the spiritist hypothesis.
It is neither to be desired nor feared. When we devote ourselves to the high task of seeking pure truth, we ought not to be intimidated by the opinion of the crowd, nor allured by any obscure desire for personal immortality.
The spiritist theory, disencumbered from superstitions that weaken it, may be expressed in a few words.
"The human mind is not annihilated at the moment of death. It continues to evolve in a world that is not conditioned by space and time. This mind, retaining some of the characteristics that it had during life-its individuality, its consciousness, and its personality-can manifest itself through certain privileged living persons, by taking possession of their body (brain, muscles, and nerves) ; it then writes, sees, thinks, and speaks as in the time when it was incarnate in flesh. The minds of the dead know things near and far, past, present, or even future. They can speak languages unknown to their medium, can compose verses, solve problems, and discuss questions, when the medium, left to himself, would be incapable of composing those verses, solving those problems, or discussing those questions. The consciousness of the Self has not disappeared; for there is no true survival without consciousness of the Self.
"Thus, when the consciousness of George Pelham is substituted for that of Mrs. Piper, Mrs. Piper knows all that the discarnate knew. When George Pelham takes possession there is no more Mrs. Piper; there is only George Pelham.
"To account for all that George Pelham does by 'lucidity' is to give lucidity an enormous and improbable extension; it is simpler to make one single hypothesis-the survival of George Pelham, and his incarnation in Mrs. Piper.
"Since man does not die, he cannot be born. It follows that there is no birth for minds (Allan Kardec). Discarnate minds are incorporate in children who have just been born. Till then they wander in the world, in the Beyond, painfully seeking to manifest, sometimes incarnating in young children about to be born, sometimes acting through mediums."

"There is no death," said Florence Marryat. "On me meurt pas," wrote Chevreul.
The hypothesis is frank and clear. By conferring omniscience on spirits it explains most of the facts, but it involves so many improbabilities that, despite its seeming simplicity, I find myself unable to adopt it. Nevertheless I oppose it half-heartedly, for I am quite unable to bring forward any wholly satisfactory countertheory.
1. Everything seems to prove that the intelligence is a function of the brain, that it depends on the integrity of the cerebral mechanism, and on the volume and quality of the blood that irrigates it.
It is possible, it is even probable, that there may exist in nature other intelligences under other conditions than the physical conditions of terrestrial life; but they would no longer be human intelligences. Consequently, should they desire to enter into relations with us, they would pity our coarse but inevitable anthropomorphism, and, in order to be understood, would have to clothe themselves in human names and human sentiments. But they would not belong to humanity, since the mind, whether human or animal, can possess the human psychological characteristics of consciousness, memory, sensibility, reason, and will only if the brain exists. Thousands and thousands of experiments establish so close a relation between the brain as organ and intelligence as function, that it is as impossible to admit the persistence of the function (mind) without the organ (brain) as the renal secretion without the kidney.
2. The word "survival" means survival of consciousness; for in the absence of consciousness and memory, survival has no interest for us. We are well aware that the atoms of carbon, phosphorus, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulphur that make up our bodies are immortal, but what is that to us? The animistic survival of some hypothetical vital force or soul, if the memory of my Self has vanished, concerns me no more than the survival of the phosphorus in my brain. Now innumerable facts have proved that memory is a function that very soon disappears, that asphyxia, anaemia, and poisons impair it immediately; it is extremely frail; it diminishes rapidly with advancing age. To survive without remembrance of the old Self is not to survive at all.
And what is it that is to survive? Will the old man who has fallen into second childhood have the Self of his intellectual prime

or the Self of his decrepitude? Will the Self of a person who stammered continue to stammer in the Beyond? What puerility! Materlinck has expressed this in admirable words, "This 'I,' so uncertain, so fugitive, and so precarious, evading all definition, is so entirely the centre of our being, and interests us so exclusively, that all the realities of life fade when confronted with that phantasm. If remembrance of certain facts, nearly always insignificant, does not accompany us . . . it is nothing to me that the highest, freest, and noblest parts of my mind should shine, living and eternal, in supreme bliss; they are not Me; I do not know them. Death has cut the links of nerves, or the memories that bound them to that unknown central point at which I feel myself complete."
This does not signify negation of any intelligent energies apart from a brain; but such hypothetical intelligent forces, independent of a material substratum, have nothing in common with human minds.
3. There are all degrees between the almost perfect reconstitution of a vanished human personality such as George Pelham (though this is very rare and G. P.'s case nearly unique) and the creation of obviously factitious personalities, which is very common and frequently observed.
I suggest to A. that she is a little girl named Madelon Martin, neither the name nor personality having any reality except in my fancy, and forthwith she becomes Madelon Martin. If by chance a Madelon Martin has existed, or still exists, and A. has known her, she will at once reproduce her characteristics with marvellous fidelity. What is, then, the cause for surprise if, by some unforeseen auto-suggestion, Mrs. Piper has thought herself to be George Pelham, and then, by her wonderful powers of cryptesthesia, she should reproduce the tastes, the intonations, the passions, and the remembrances of George Pelham?
Assuredly if George Pelham was never known to A., and she faithfully reproduces his thought, we must ascribe to A. intense and amazing powers of cryptesthesia. (This is permissible, for its limits are unknown.) Then the personality of George Pelham will seem to be reconstituted integrally, and yet this personality, in spite of his reiterated affirmations, may be as factitious as the others. Perhaps this personification of George Pelham is due only to a splendid and far-reaching lucidity.

As all degrees of personification are observed, the manifesting personalities rarely or never show such strong individuality as did George Pelham, so conformable to the actual person who lived. Sometimes, as in the case of Phinuit, G. P.'s predecessor, the personalities produced are imaginary. John King is probably a fanciful creation of Eusapia; and Rector, Imperator, and Mentor are fanciful creations of Stainton Moses. The queerest personalities can easily be evoked by hypnotic suggestions. The only difference between the somnambule and the medium is that while the actions of the former are due to the verbal suggestion of the magnetizer, those of the latter are due to an auto-suggestion whose origin is unknown. Since it is impossible to accept as authentic the childish personifications of common hypnotism, why should we accept those that are a little more perfect? The transition from the one to the other is gradual; where are we to stop? What criterion have we for saying "This one is true, that is imaginary?" We see so many that are obviously imaginary that we can scarcely avoid the inference that all are.

The ease and frequency with which factitious personalities are produced renders the production of real personifications very doubtful.
We may hesitate a moment when Helen accurately reproduces Burnier's signature, for she signs like Burnier, whose writing she has doubtless never seen ; but she also incarnates Cagliostro and Marie Antoinette ! Why, then, should the personification of Burnier be more real than that of Marie Antoinette, of Cagliostro, of an Indian prince, or any other of the manifestly imaginary creations? The similitude of writing need not trouble us; for there is nothing to show that cryptesthesia may not extend even to that Helen Smith sees before her the signature of Burnier by her cryptesthesia and then she imagines herself to be Burnier in virtue of the natural tendency of mediums to impersonate.
T. Flournoy, to whom we owe an admirable study of Helen Smith, does not even go so far as to admit cryptesthesia. He supposes that there is a revival of an old remembrance, and thinks (without, however, advancing any proof) that Helen Smith must have seen a signature of Burnier at some time or other. In order to reach this point he is obliged to make a long series of unlikely suppositions. It seems to me more reasonable to admit cryptesthesia, proved by thousands of observations and experiments, and extremely probable in an excellent medium like Helen Smith.
Therefore though I hold the opinion of Flournoy in much respect, I cannot agree that the name and the signature of Burnier are to be accounted for by accumulated and forgotten impressions. It seems to me a phenomenon of lucidity. But I shall not infer incarnation because there is lucidity.
Highly also as I esteem the opinions of my distinguished friend, Sir Oliver Lodge, I cannot think survival the most probable explanation in Raymond's case. It seems, on the contrary, that if flashes of lucidity are admitted (and the reality of lucidity is not disputed) and also symbolization; if it is recognized that mediums have an invincible tendency to reconstitute former personalities, we come in the end to less improbable hypotheses than that of survival.
4. Cryptesthesia comes into play without any necessity for supposing that a discarnate human being is speaking by the voice or writing by the hand of the medium. Details about living persons have been furnished which in no way imply the existence of a vanished entity. When Mrs. Thompson sees the word Carqueiranne on the forehead of M. Moutonnier it is unnecessary to

suppose that Nelly showed her this. The hypothesis that Nelly has survived serves no purpose. Nelly is an imaginary being who greatly facilitates experiment, but is not necessary to it; it is scarcely a working hypothesis, since this complication is not required. Mrs. Thompson on taking my son's watch says, "Three generations mingled." Nelly is speaking, but Nelly is only a symbol ; the reality is Mrs. Thompson speaking and using her fine faculty of cryptesthesia ; there is no need to bring in the personality of her granddaughter.
Phinuit, speaking by the voice of Mrs. Piper, has given extraordinary instances of cryptesthesia, as good as, if not better than, those of George Pelham, but Phinuit is obviously a creation of Mrs. Piper's mind. There was never any French doctor at Metz by the name of Phinuit. Phinuit never existed; he is Mrs. Piper. George Pelham, who is neither more nor less lucid than Phinuit, is Mrs. Piper in a lucid state. Then everything that she knows by cryptesthesia about George Pelham, who once existed but whose consciousness vanished when his heart ceased to beat, crystallizes round this personality of George Pelham.
5. When these entities manifest they make mistakes, trifle so childishly, forget so much, and show such reticences, that it is impossible to suppose that the spirit of a deceased person has returned.
It is true that there is nothing that obliges us to attribute to the personalities of the departed the same feelings, the same modes of reasoning, and the same judgments that they had on earth. But then the resemblance of sentiments and reasonings verified in certain cases must not be brought into the argument, since in the majority of instances this resemblance is outrageously wanting. These personages take pleasure in absurd jokes and childish plays on words, and make up sentences that resemble puns. I do not know who it was that said, "If survival involves having the mentality of a discarnate, I prefer not to survive." These are rags and tatters of intelligence, and, with few exceptions, of a low-grade intelligence. These discarnates have forgotten essential things and busy themselves with minutia to which they would not have given a moment during life. That one should come back to earth to speak of a sleeve-link is not merely feeble; it has no likelihood at all. This is a strong argument against the spiritist doctrine.

This poor spiritist personality is not in any way incoherent; it is simply low grade and very low grade, being, with few exceptions, much below average intelligence; but it remains consistently the same for many months-infantile like Feda and Nelly; facetious like Vincenzo; erudite and mystical like Myers P.; jovial like Phinuit.
The rejoinder is made that the relation of spirits to a human brain is probably not very easy; that the brain of the medium is an imperfect instrument, and the incoherences are due to want of co-ordination between the instrument and he who plays on it. But what a mass of hypotheses and symbolical interpretations, bristling with obscurities and fancies, in order to evade the evidence that the psychological personality of the discarnate is quite different from that of the person during his life-time.
Not only is this psychological personality different from what it was in life, but it is nearly always notoriously inferior at any rate from our anthropomorphic point of view.
Everything can be very simply explained if we admit that there is never anything whatever at work but the thoughts of the medium, a being very human indeed and exclusively human, whose subconscious mental operations are rudimentary, and, so to say, amorphous. In our simplicity we think we hear the words of a discarnate, when in fact we are witnessing the waves of subconsciousness grouping themselves round a fictitious personality.
6. Another characteristic of spiritist personalities is that they shroud themselves in mystery; as if the mystery of their presence were not enough. There are reticences, implications, and veiled allusions that need much sagacity to understand. At certain times they seem to know a great deal, and then when becoming most interesting, they suddenly stop and go wandering. It may legitimately be inferred that if they do not tell more it is because they do not know more. They rarely give a plain answer to a plain question. If they were before a board of examiners they would not pass, for they answer badly and not to the point.
That is doubtless the reason-disastrous to the spiritist hypothesis-why nothing has been revealed by deceased personalities that was not already known to the generality of mankind. They have not helped us to a single step forward in geometry, in physics, in physiology, or even in metaphysics. They have never been able to prove that they know more than the ordinary man on any subject soever. No unexpected discovery has been indicated; no revelation has been made. The answers, with the rarest exceptions,

are desperately commonplace. Not the smallest atom of scientific knowledge has been anticipated.
There are wonderful imitations of style, such as Dickens's romance, and the verses of Molière dictated to Victor Hugo. But a parody is not authorship. It is clever literary work, but it does not come from a Beyond. The human intelligence that composes this prose and verse is in no way beyond human powers. It is not the semi-divine inspiration that we might expect from spirits. The lucidity of some mediums is amazing, but lucidity is not survival. Survival implies the continuance of personal consciousness. F. Myers lived on the earth; he was himself and no other, with intentions, habits, tastes, thoughts, remembrances, hopes, and an intelligence which made him a definite personality very different from all others. But when Mrs. Verrall's hand writes, "I am Myers," or Mrs. Piper's voice says, "I am Myers," it is useless to try to find vague or even exact analogies between Myers V., or Myers P., with the real Myers; even if such analogies are discoverable, they are not enough to prove that, independently of Mrs. Verrall or Mrs. Piper or any other lucid medium, there is somewhere in space a human consciousness that says "I," identical with the consciousness of our greatly regretted friend, and retaining his primordial intellectual character and coherent remembrances as we knew him at Leckhampton House.
All the indications transmitted by discarnates on their actual, material, or psychological state inspire me with very limited confidence, for it is needful first of all to prove that there are any discarnates. I do not share the robust faith of one of Sir A. Conan Doyle's correspondents, Mr. Hubert Wales, who writes with simple anthropomorphism, that spirits "have bodies, which, though imperceptible by our senses, are as solid to them as ours are to us . . . that they have no age, no pain, no rich and poor; that they wear clothes and take nourishment; that they do not sleep, though they spoke of passing occasionally into a semi-conscious state . . . that people of similar thoughts, tastes, and feelings gravitate together; that married couples do not necessarily reunite . . . " (The News Revelation, Conan Doyle, p. 148).
I cannot, alas! share the deep convictions of my large-minded friend, W. Stead, who, when I went to see him after he had lost his son, said to me, "Why should I be sad? I wrote to him this morning and he will answer me this evening. He is quite happy and we are in daily relations as formerly."

In my humble opinion proof of survival has not been given by subjective metapsychics, but I hasten to add that a near approach to that proof has been made. If proof of surviving consciousness could have been given it would have been given.
Can such proof be given? I really do not see what better arguments can be furnished than the cases of George Pelham and Raymond Lodge; and I cannot imagine any experiments that would be more decisive, or any observations that would carry more weight.
Truth to tell—and one must be as cautious in denial as in assertion—some facts tend to make us believe strongly in the survival of vanished personalities. Why should mediums, even when they have read no spiritualist books, and are unacquainted with spiritualist doctrines, proceed at once to personify some deceased person or other? Why does the new personality affirm itself so persistently, so energetically, and sometimes with so much verisimilitude? Why does it separate itself so sharply from the personality of the medium? All the words of powerful mediums are pregnant, so to say, with the theory of survival. These are semblances, perhaps, but why should the semblantes be there?
These hesitations must be forgiven me. On the threshold of a mystery we may well be troubled and decline to use trenchant words and peremptory phrases in ludicrous contrast with our inner painful uncertainty.
If we had nothing to go upon but subjective metapsychics we might stop at cryptesthesia as a simple and necessary hypothesis covering everything. Let us therefore admit, as the only fully demonstrated proposition, that there actually is an intense form of cryptesthesia, defined by unmeasured powers of cognition, and a sensibility of the soul to subtle vibrations that none of our physical instruments can reveal.
There is, then, no need to call in the intervention of external energies and my inference will be-the human mind is much more powerful and more sensitive than we know or think.


The hypothesis involved is very simple; to admit an extension of our intellectual powers is scarcely a hypothesis at all. But we can go no farther, for the more we try to analyze this inaccessible faculty of cryptesthesia, the less we understand it. Telepathy,

superacuity of the senses, actual emanations-if these explain some of the phenomena they do not account for anywhere near all of them; and we must recognize that we know only the effects, and not the cause of cryptesthesia : its modalities and its mechanism escape us entirely.
The transition from subjective to objective phenomena is not so abrupt as might be thought; for to produce a cryptesthesic sensation there must be some external phenomenon, probably a vibration, since energy is transmitted by vibrations. (Of the Ether?) If, then, a notion arises due to cryptesthesia some external power must have been in action.
Monitions, of death or any other, can be accounted for only by a vibration of some unknown kind impinging upon our subconsciousness. There must therefore be some external thing that has acted upon us. This external thing which moves the subconscious Self is objective; our instruments register nothing, but it is objective all the same.
Then we have to consider that strange power of symbolization, which is one of the corner-stones in metapsychic science.
In order that any notion may be understood by us, it must take a form comprehensible by our conscious mind. For instance an announcement of the death of A will only be understood by the consciousness of B if conveyed by some intelligible representation. Then the truncated and barely outlined notion that A is dead is visualized as a phantom, or externalized as a voice, and many details are added, sometimes incoherent, but sometimes very synthetic, that complete the embryonic idea. These symbols that one is tempted to take for realities have no reality in themselves; they are but the translation by a symbol of the particular notion that arouses the cryptesthesia.
Even when, as in a haunted house, the same personage appears to different persons successively under the same form, this does not prove that there is a real external phantom. It is possibly because the symbolization has been exercised in the same way by two different percipients. In all this we are only talking in hypotheses. I do not allow myself to be deceived by the mirage presented by words. Cryptesthesia is a word that does not even hide our ignorance. To say that cryptesthesia exists does not in any way solve the very troubling questions that we cannot answer. These may perhaps be answered by future metapsychic science, provided that it remain strictly experimental.

1. Have all persons some rudimentary cryptesthesia?
2. Why is it so developed in certain mediums? Why does hypnotism favour its appearance?
3. In spiritist séances why does the medium show from the outset an invincible tendency to assume the existence of a guide that seems to have an intelligence distinct from that of the medium?
4. Why, in the case of powerful mediums, are objective phenomena (materializations and telekinesis) nearly always associated with subjective phenomena (cryptesthesia) ?
5. By what channel does cognition of things beyond sensorial perception reach the human mind? Is it the vibration of human intelligence that travels? Or do the vibrations of things present themselves to our intelligence?
6. Must we suppose that only living human minds are in play and that no others intervene-those of the dead, or of angels, demons, or gods?
In the actual state of our embryonic science these are insoluble problems. I call a halt at the facts, and decline to be led beyond them. I do not condemn the spiritist theory. It is certainly premature, and probably erroneous. But it has the immense merit of having stimulated experiment. It is one of those working hypotheses that Claude Bernard considered so fruitful. In any case, theory is by no means proved, since it is frail, inconsistent, and incoherent; we will, provisionally at least, content ourselves with saying that transcendental modes of cognition actually exist whose extent we cannot define, and therefore that all the powers that spiritualists ascribe to spirits should be attributed to that superior knowledge with which the human brain sometimes appears to be endowed.
We shall presently consider whether materializations and telekinesis may give some support to the spiritist theory; but from this time forth we can say that, taking subjective facts alone, it is not demonstrated; and the trying thing is that one does not see how it could be demonstrated-how it could be proved that human consciousness with its remembrances and its personality could survive the death of the brain.
Still, an immense step forward has been made; it has been proved that a whole world of powers, sometimes accessible, vibrates around us. We cannot even suspect the nature of those powers., we only see their effects. These effects are, however, so

clear that we can assert the reality of the forces; if some mediums and some somnambulists can know things that their senses have not shown them it is that unknown forces have reached and acted upon their sensitiveness. That is all that we can say today.


Consequently the phenomena that we call subjective are only apparently so. Every phenomenon of cryptesthesia must be preceded by an exterior energy that has started it, some unknown vibration that has set in motion the latent energies of our human mind, unaware of all its powers.


There is something more than subjective metapsychics; something more than great superacuity of the senses and mysterious depths of mind: there is the action of intelligence on matter. And the appalling obscurity of the whole question, when we extend cryptesthesia without limits, becomes more appalling still.
There are the facts: they compel us to admit movements at a distance; and strange as this phenomenon may be it is not the strangest. It is even the most elementary fact in this embryonic and terrifying science.
That a mechanical energy of an unknown kind should emanate from the human body and move a table, and shake a piece of board with knocking, is not entirely incomprehensible. But that this force should produce word-making sound, lights, and living human forms-this indeed goes beyond all our concepts of the possible. A warm and living hand, a mouth that speaks, eyes that see, and thought that thrills, like the hand, the mouth, the eyes, and the thought of a human being-these are phenomena that put us to utter confusion.
We are in thick darkness. It was already impossible to understand how Banca, at the very moment that his family was about to perish a couple of thousand miles away, could speak of death lying in wait for his family; or how Figueroa could see, six months before the event, a peasant dressed in black strike a mule aside to let him pass up a spiral stair. But objective metapsychic is more puzzling still; it is an unmitigated mystery, and all attempts at explanation seem puerile.

Nevertheless no one has the right to withdraw these facts from scientific investigation.
Metapsychic science will certainly pass through many phases. It is at present in travail of greater things; but it is much that the facts have been well proved and are too plain to be denied. Unfortunately they cannot yet be built into a consistent and tenable theory; it beseems us to examine what may be inferred from all these astounding observations and amazing experiments without fear, but also without arrogance that our human limitations would render laughable.
As to materializations and telekinesis our opinion may be summed up by saying, These phenomena may be attributed to energies o f human origin.


Thanks to Ochorowicz, Schrenck-Notzing, Mme. Bisson, and Crawford, who carried on Crookes's work, it seems now fairly proved that materializations are ectoplasms; that is, sarcodic extensions emanating from the body of a medium, precisely as a pseudopod is projected from an amoeboid cell. All zoologists are aware that an amoeba can project a sarcode to seize upon ali mentary matter and infest it. In a similar fashion fluidic filaments or extensions like clouds, veils, or stems may proceed from the body of the entranced medium, can then become organic, and take on the semblance of human limbs and occasionally of whole bodies.
In their first stage these ectoplasms are invisible, but can move objects and can give raps on a table. Later on they become visible though nebulous and sketchy. Still later they take human form, for they have the extraordinary property that they change their forms and their consistence and evolve under our eyes. In a few seconds the nebulous embryo that exudes from the body of the medium becomes an actual being; though the human ovum requires thirty years to evolve into the adult form.
Sometimes the phantom appears suddenly, without passing through the phase of luminous cloud; but this phenomenon is probably of the same order as the slower development.
This ectoplasmic formation at the expense of the physiological organism of the medium is now beyond all dispute. It is prodigiously strange, prodigiously unusual, and it would seem so unlikely as to be incredible; but we must give in to the facts. I am confintent

that twenty-five years hence orthodox science will admit telekinesis and ectoplasms as undisputed phenomena. The profound changes in ideas on this subject that have taken place the last twenty-five years warrant this assurance.


To state facts is not enough; we must summon up courage to outline some kind of theory, imperfect though it will necessarily be.
It has been shown that as regards subjective metapsychics the simplest and most rational explanation is to suppose the existence of a faculty of supernormal cognition that we have called cryptesthesia, setting in motion the human intelligence by certain vibrations that do not move the normal senses.
Similarly in objective metapsychics the simplest and most rational explanation is analogous-to suppose that the human organism has a faculty of external projection, of "ectoplasmisation," the emission of a material substance that can become organic.
It follows that the most reasonable hypothesis is that there are in the human body energies capable of being exteriorized.
But though this hypothesis is the most simple that can be advanced it is not really simple at all. It implies a new physiology, a new chemistry, and a new physics.
Beings with a human shape, that begin and end in white veils, that come and go like clouds, are not human beings.
Man is so close to the animal that everything proper to a human being must be allowed to animals also, in part at any rate. We have no essential function that is not possessed by any other mammal, nay even by any vertebrate or invertebrate. The generative, circulatory, nutritive, and digestive processes are practically the same in all. The difference between the animal and man is that man has a slightly more penetrating intelligence, of larger scope, and capable of remembering, analyzing, and abstracting. But this difference is not essential: man merely possesses a higher degree of intelligence. That is all; he is a highly intelligent animal, but he is an animal. Now, to transform matter, to become a living ephemeral being, and to create ephemeral living matter, is to open a new world. We are evolving in another dimension. Man is no longer man. He no longer belongs to the animal kingdom. He even transcends the mechanical world in which we move where chemistry, physics, and mathematics reign supreme.

Anything is possible. Perhaps human powers, whether moral or material, go far beyond what habitual and daily experience would lead us to think. It is demonstrated that fluidic emanations can proceed from the body and develop into human forms. It is demonstrated that this exteriorization is one of the properties of living matter.
Geley, in an able book, maintains the subconscious to be a kind of creative energy determining the histological mutations whereby the larva is transformed into a chrysalis and the chrysalis into the perfect insect. The subconscious produces stigmata and miraculous cures. It is the subconscious that directs materializations.
Certainly to connect metapsychic phenomena with the most positive data of embryology and zoology is bold and deep thinking. But this does not seem to me to bring explanation. This powerful subconscious, so omnipresent and efficient, is an undemonstrated energy, it is always the quid ignotum.
Even for Geley the subconscious is insufficient, and he is inclined to admit-without definitely affirming this-that the high and complex phenomena of mediumship seem to show external direction and intention that cannot be referred to the medium or the experimenters.
Such is Geley's opinion; it is not altogether mine. I shall say, with Lodge, that we must select the least extravagant among all the possible explanations. None of them, he says, fits all the facts. To frame theories is as premature as it would have been for Galvani to attempt to explain the nature of electricity.
In his fine work on human personality, F. Myers sketched out a theory that in some points resembles Geley's, for elementary metapsychic phenomena at any rate. According to Myers there are many personalities, subliminal centres, co-existing, working, thinking, comparing, and analyzing side by side with the principal centre (consciousness) which scarcely knows of their existence. These secondary centres are more open to influence by cryptesthetic vibrations than the central consciousness.
Certainly. But immediately afterwards, in order to explain the higher phenomena, Myers finds himself obliged formally to admit survival, and to infer that in many cases of automatic writing or speaking, these secondary centres are invaded by discarnate spirits.

The more these complex phenomena of monitions, premonitions, and collective veridical hallucinations are studied in detail, the more one is inclined to favour the hypothesis of an unknown ectoplasmic energy pertaining to human beings; and this hypothesis is so strange that all other possible hypotheses must first be exhausted.
And in the first place we can well suppose that other beings than man may move around us and influence our movements although they may not be subject to the mechanical, physical, chemical, and anatomical conditions that limit us.
Why should there not be intelligent and puissant beings distinct from those perceptible by our senses? By what right should we dare to affirm, on the basis of our limited senses, our defective intellect, and our scientific past as yet hardly three centuries old, that in the vast Cosmos man is the sole intelligent being, and that all mental reality always depends upon nerve-cells irrigated with oxygenated blood?
That there should be intellectual powers other than those of mankind and constructed on a wholly different plan is not only possible but highly probable. It might even be said to be certain. It is absurd to suppose that ours is the only mind in nature; and that inevitably every intelligent power is organized on the human or animal model with a brain as its organ.
It is obvious how deep is the mystery. For when we speak of mind, we implicitly (by our necessarily anthropomorphic way of looking at things) take it to connote memory, logic, verbal terminology, and emotion; but mind (in the human connotation) is so imperfect, so special to humanity that we cannot be fully cognizant of intelligent powers except by assimilating them more or less to mankind. This is probably a serious error, and to say "an angel is intelligent" (in the human sense) is about as logical as if a piece of red cloth were to say, An angel is red. Our notions of spirits, whether as to their form or their thoughts, are necessarily grossly anthropomorphic.
As we are now in the realm of hypotheses, we need not fear to push our thought to its logical extreme. The basis of animal intelligence is the nerve-cell; but this by no means proves that nerve-cells, or even the chemical elements that we call "material," are necessary to all phenomena of mind. Very different beings in very different worlds are conceivable where mind would exist without nerve-cells or any material substratum. The proof that such beings exist has not been given, but their possibility is clear.

It is said: "Man only shows his mind by his brain; therefore there can be no mind without a brain." Such is the amazing logic of those who accuse us of working against science.
If it be admitted that in the universe, under conditions of space and time of which our rudimentary psychology is unaware, there are intelligent beings, interfering at certain moments in our lives, we have then a convenient hypothesis explanatory of many of the facts detailed in this book.
Mysterious beings, angels or demons, existences devoid of form, or spirits, which now and then seek to intervene in our lives, who can by means entirely unknown mould matter at will, who direct some of our thoughts and participate in some of our destinies, and who, to make themselves known (which they could not otherwise do) assume the bodily and psychological aspect of vanished human personalities-all this is a simple manner of expressing and understanding the greater part of the metapsychic phenomena.
This is the more plausible, seeing that under a close analysis of monitions and premonitions there seem to be vague intentions beyond and outside us, which transcend human concepts, as if the intelligent forces chose to stop on the threshold of the mystery, unwilling to tell everything, speaking in symbols and enigmas, outlining misty affirmations when they might be more explicit; moving plates, tables, and wooden logs, when they might (at least according to our normal thinking) operate in a chemical or physical laboratory, or at least tell us something of the mysteries of life continued after the death of the body. But they deal in a verbose theosophy; they tell us nothing useful, and do not even indicate with any precision favourable conditions for experiment.
That such spirits should be the consciousness of defunct human beings is, strictly speaking, possible; but I venture to say, with all the caution that should guard every negation, it is not at all probable. These discarnate souls are too fundamentally different from those of living men that they should be the same; and as for the material, how should the disintegrated body after three years in a coffin be more able to find the clothes that it wore when living than to reconstitute its heart, its liver, and its eyes, which have all become formless matter?
If then (as I cannot believe) there are spirits, and they are endowed with mysterious powers (that I do not understand) and

have mysterious intentions (which I understand no better), in any case they cannot be the consciousnesses of deceased persons.
They belong to other worlds, different from our material world and from our moral world, and if they put on human semblances it must be to make themselves partially known to us.
To sum up: There are three hypotheses in the field.
1. The phenomena are due to the dead, whose consciousness still persists without any material substratum. This is the spiritist theory which seems to me the least likely of any.
2. There are angels, spirits (Sazpovfs) who can act on matter and on human minds, and intervene in human affairs.
3. The human intelligence (body and soul) is sufficiently powerful to produce both material manifestations (ectoplasms) and the subjective manifestations (cryptesthesia) that amaze us.1
If I admit this third hypothesis as obviously superior to the others, it is not that I believe in it very strongly. Far otherwise. I am well aware how frail it is, how incredible, almost as incredible as the two former. But can anything better be put forward?
Perhaps; and I adopt without reserve a fourth proposition which has every chance of being true-we have as yet no satisfactory hypothesis to put forward.
In fine, I believe that future hypothesis that I cannot formulate because I do not know it.


Bewildering powers vibrate around us. The facts seem strangely inconsistent with ascertained truths. They are not. Since the facts are facts, the disharmony must be only seemingthe necessary consequence of our ignorance. This ignorance will
1 In order to make this seemingly monstrous hypothesis in some degree acceptable, let us suppose that men do not know much more about the universe than a colony of ants knows about the earth-planet. They do not know that there are beings far superior to them in powers and intelligence; they are unaware of seas, ships, libraries, telephones, theatres, armies, courts of justice, and stars. They live as though there were nothing in the world but little bits of wood, moss, old tree-trunks, the insects that they feed upon, and the streamlets that inundate their nests. And if some ant wiser than its fellows were to tell them that there is more in the world than this he would doubtless be thought mad, and his fellows would have no difficulty in certifying him as insane. And being myself convinced that, when all is said, we know less of the Cosmos than a nest of ants knows of this planet, I am inclined, though without tangible proof, to think that other worlds may exist besides our little physico-chemical world. The notion is surprising but not unlikely.

not last for ever: the day will come, perhaps it is not far distant, when some unexpected discovery will open a new horizon to our eyes. A man of genius, a powerful medium, a happy chance-any one of these would suffice to reveal a whole series of new truths, whence will emerge not only new solutions, but further problems of which we now have no notion.


The final outcome will be much more surprising and unexpected than our limited imagination can dream. Science, we must admit, will be transformed from top to bottom beyond our boldest anticipations.
We must advance resolutely, using exact scientific methods, being neither credulous nor timid, but trusting the marvelous power of science. Let us endeavour to recall the state of human mentality in the time of Paracelsus and Gutenberg, only four hundred years ago. Twelve generations-a very short time for the transformation of the world!
Chemistry is a marvelous science that reveals the most secret motions of the atoms, and indicates the places that these imponderable entities will take up in space by their combinations, by creating new substances. Nevertheless Chemistry began as Alchemy-own sister to Astrology.
If I had lived in the fifteenth century, I might have believed in Alchemy and Astrology; and I should have done wisely, for they have become our sciences of today. Now, I have complete confidence in metapsychics, and I do not think it will require four hundred years to grow into as exact a science as Chemistry now is.
Metapsychics has, however, to encounter a very grave difficulty special to itself that does not beset other sciences: its subject matter is not the blind forces of chemistry and physics but intelligent forces, capable of freakish, and possibly hostile, intentions. How, then, are the problems presented to be attacked? Everything seems to turn on the fall of the dice.
Fortunately it is most improbable that these intelligent forces should not be subject to definite laws, and therefore accessible to our researches.
Our aim must be to discover these laws; and who knows but that instead of being hindered by these intelligences themselves from getting to know them, as has hitherto seemed to be the case, we may not be aided by them?

However this may be, the numerous scattered facts that have now been collected show plainly that a new mentality will pervade human society as metapsychics gains influence. Not long since we were disposed to think that there could be nothing beyond the material facts verified and studied by men of science, and there was a disposition to assign limits, and not very remote limits, beyond which we held that science could not pass. More powerful microscopes and telescopes, more sensitive galvanometers and thermometers-such things bounded our limited view. Our hopes are now vastly greater; we have a glimpse of a whole unexplored world full of mysteries before which we stand as dumb and dense as a Hottentot might before Poincaré's vortices, Herz's waves, Pasteur's microbes, or Einstein's relativity.
This new world is the unknown, the future, and our hope.1
As Frederic Myers and Oliver Lodge have well pointed out, perhaps a new view of human duty will emerge from these studies, which are as yet in a most elementary stage. We can scarcely foresee the subversive effects that metapsychics will have upon our ideas of the final purposes of human existence. The sciences that deal with atoms and physical forces, gravitation, heat, electricity, and chemical affinity will not be upset, for they rest on unshakable foundations. But many and great things will be added to them.
And perhaps the goal of humanity will be better understood. If we have been able to bring some of the more coherent facts of this new knowledge within the domain of positive science, that goal will be hidden in less impenetrable darkness.
At the present hour, while all is yet quite dark, our duty is plain. Let us be sober in speculation; let us study and analyze facts; let us be as bold in hypothesis as we are rigorous in experimentation.
Metapsychics will then emerge from Occultism, as Chemistry emerged from Alchemy: and none can foresee its amazing career. But we must keep clear of illusions: the fragments of uncomprehended
1 Pascal said as much in deeply significant words: "The secrets of Nature are hidden; although ever in action, the effects she produces are not always seen; time reveals them from age to age. . . . We may affirm the opposite to what the ancients have said without therefore contradicting them; and whatever authority their antiquity may have, that of truth is always greater, even when newly discovered, for truth is always more ancient than any opinion soever" (Fragment of a Treatise on vacua, Ed. Havet, ii, 273).

truth that the science of the occult offers to us reveal the poverty of the human understanding. The study of the heavens soon convinces an astronomer that man is an infinitesimally small object in the universe. Similarly in metapsychic science, when pale and fugitive gleams reveal intellectual worlds circling around us and in us, we feel that these worlds may perhaps ever remain as distant and incomprehensible as the far, incomprehensible stars in the depths of space.
But that is no reason for refraining from increased efforts and labour. There are great depths to be sounded. The task is so noble that, even should it fail of success, the honour of having attempted it gives fresh value to life.

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