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submitted all the circumstances of this interesting case,
and which fully justifies, we think, the conclusion he has
reached: viz., that all the communications received by
Madame Dupond reflected her own dispositions, con-
scious or not, and corresponded exactly to those which
could not fail to be in her. " She alone, in other words,
and not Rodolphe, was dead at that moment, and can
be considered as the real source of the communica-


One would be inclined to generalize this conclusion,
in order to extend it to all spiritoidal phenomena, by ex-
amining one after the other the many different kinds,
and not stopping to explain the manifest analogies
which link them to the ensemble of other parapsychic

From the classification which we have given in Our
Hidden Forces, the parapsychic phenomena can be
divided into three great classes, which follow one after
the other, in the order of their increasing complexity
and difficulty:


( 1 ) Hypnoidal phenomena.

(2) Magnetoidal phenomena.

(3) Spiritoidal phenomena.
Spiritoidal phenomena, when disregarding all hy-
potheses as to their origin, do not differ essentially from
the others; for there can always be found, for each of
them, a correspondent of the same kind in the series
of hypnoidal or magnetoidal phenomena.

For example, the state of trance in a medium is en-
tirely analogous to the state of hypnosis of a subject put
in catalepsy or somnambulism; it presents almost the
same physiological and psychological elements. There
is between them little difference except this: The
trance is produced and developed spontaneously, with-
out the intervention of any visible operator, under the
sole effect of the nervous and mental conditions in which
the medium is placed, and among which the belief in
spirits and the expectation of their intervention would
appear to play a considerable part. The hypnotic state
is produced experimentally, artificially, by a visible oper-
ator, a hypnotizer, who undoubtedly utilizes the men-
tal and nervous dispositions of the subject; for mani-
festly the subject's voluntary action is the cause which
unlocks the phenomenon and directs the successive de-
velopments — without its necessarily being a question
of spirits here any more than in an experiment in physics
or chemistry.

It is true that, in many cases, the medium does not
appear to have undergone any change, either physically
or mentally, and neither he himself nor any of the
assistants doubts the role that he plays in the phenome-
non. This is established by the disappearance of the


phenomenon immediately that the medium is absent,
and his presence is sufficient, on the contrary, to pro-
duce it, in spite of all the variations which can have
place in the entourage.

But any one who is at all familiar with the experi-
mental study of hypnoidal phenomena well knows that,
if these phenomena are usually manifested in a special
state, analogous to sleep, there is nevertheless an in-
finity of degrees between this state and that of waking,
and that the greater part of those that are observed in
the state of hypnosis can equally be observed in a state
which cannot by any apparent sign be distinguished
from the waking state. In particular, it is always
possible, after having put a subject to sleep, to make
him open his eyes merely by suggesting to him the con-
tinuation of sleep, and to put him thus in a state which,
to the uninformed onlookers, will present all the char-
acteristics of the waking state.

Similarly, the messages obtained from supposed dead
people — whether by means of the table, by automatic
writing, or by any other process — singularly resemble,
if we omit their spontaneity and separate them from
the spiritistic atmosphere which surrounds them, the
facts of dissociation of the personality, artificially pro-
voked by such experimenters as Professor Pierre Janet,
and of which we have given numerous examples in
Our Hidden Forces.

Also, the facts of thought-reading and clairvoyance,
so frequently found in the reports of spiritistic seances,
have their analogies in the facts of perceptive tele-
psychism, or, as it is sometimes called, psychometry.

If perhaps we are still incapable of producing experi-


mentally the phenomena which compose what may be
called the physical side of spiritism — movements of
levitation, of translation, etc., produced by mediums
upon material objects, apparitions of light and of form,
materializations, which are observed, or believed to be
observed, in certain spiritistic seances — we have never-
theless reports of phenomena of the same kind, which,
although equally spontaneous, are at least produced in
circumstances from which all spiritistic element is com-
pletely absent.

From this comparison between ( 1 ) spiritoidal facts
and (2) hypnoidal and magnetoidal facts, a double con-
sequence would seem to proceed:

First: All the facts which constitute spiritism may
be resolved by analysis into hypnoidal and magnetoidal
facts, differing from these in that they are produced
spontaneously instead of being evoked by the experi-
menter, and also in that they appear linked to certain
ideas and beliefs: viz., spiritistic ideas and beliefs, con-
scious or unconscious, in the individuals or the sur-
roundings where they are observed. Spiritism ap-
pears, therefore, as a spontaneous synthesis of all, or
almost all, the parapsychic facts, determined by a cer-
tain particular nervous and mental state, to which,
perhaps, might be given the name spiritogene, first used,
I believe, by Professor Flournoy in Esprits et mediums.

From this it is seen that science, faithful to the prin-
ciple of economy, prefers — until proof to the contrary
j — to consider the spiritoidal facts as reducible to facts
of the preceding orders, or at least that it is forced to
recognize their reduction as far as possible. It is that
which explains, and in a large measure justifies, the atti-


tude of the majority of scientists interested in this
study, and their visible partiality for the cryptopsychic

Second: Even in admitting the hypothesis of the
existence of spirits and their effective participation in
the genesis of the spiritoidal phenomena, it would be
very necessary to assert that the whole action of these
spirits consists only in arousing in certain susceptible
subjects (mediums) the majority of the hypnoidal and
magnetoidal phenomena (hypnotism, suggestion, disso-
ciation of the personality, telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.)

— phenomena that are constated in ordinary subjects,
and produced either spontaneously or as the effect of the
action of an experimenter.

It can thus be said that spirits operate in exactly the
same way that human hypnotizers and magnetizers do.

Therefore, those scientists specialized in the study
of the parapsychic phenomena, who do not exclude a
priori the hypothesis of spirits but recognize that the
existence of such agents, however improbable it may be,
is not necessarily impossible, affirm that, from the point
of view of the method, the study of spiritoidal phe-
nomena must be strictly subordinated to that of the
phenomena of the two preceding orders (hypnoidal
and magnetoidal), and that it is only when these have
been carried sufficiently far that one begins to see the
way a little clearly in the phenomena of the third order

— spiritoidal.


It is true that there remains an unsolved problem the
force of which increases in proportion to the number of


spiritoidal facts over which the cryptopsychic interpre-
tation extends its influence. This problem might be
formulated thus :

How is it that spiritistic practises — undoubtedly
with the aid of the beliefs which accompany them — are
sufficient to cause the appearance in a large number of
persons, often with extraordinary rapidity, of an abund-
ant production of parapsychic phenomena, varied and
really marvelous, while the most able experimenters
have trouble in provoking even a feeble part of these
phenomena by the most efficacious of their processes?

It is not unusual, in a spiritistic seance that is even a
little successful, to observe the facts of thought-read-
ing, of clairvoyance, of the exteriorization of the mo-
tricity, of materialization, etc., assembled all together
in one spontaneous synthesis, the secret of which wholly
escapes us.

It is, perhaps, the realization of this enigma which,
in these last few years, has brought a certain number of
scientists — such as William James, Sidgwick, Frederic
Myers, Hodgson, and many other members of the So-
ciety for Psychical Research of London — to look
favorably upon the spiritistic interpretation. There
is a very curious evolution in that; and the proof of it
is shown in a book by the great English scientist, Sir
Oliver Lodge, The Survival of Man. 1

It is known that the Society for Psychical Research,
after a long investigation of telepathy and other para-
psychic phenomena, which was begun in a strictly scien-
tific spirit and without any particular leaning toward the

1 The Survival of Man, by Sir Oliver Lodge (New York: Moffat,
Yard and Company).


spiritistic doctrine, has seemed to advance by degrees
toward conclusions conforming to this doctrine. This
is shown in the writings of its members, and especially
in the important work of Frederic Myers, Human Per-

But Frederic Myers and his colleagues, it might be
said, were not real scientists, and their assertions had
not, could not have, in the eyes of the public, that
authority which now is necessary in science and in those
who act as its representatives; they were philosophers
and litterateurs who, it might be believed, merely
skirted rather than penetrated the true scientific spirit.

Sir Oliver Lodge is purely a physicist, whose re-
searches have been in electricity and wireless teleg-
raphy, and his works in this special field have given
him a world-wide scientific reputation.

But this physicist does not hesitate to declare his
conviction that " man survives death " — a conviction
founded, according to him, upon the observation of a
long series of natural facts; and he considers that " in
the future, the hour will come when this belief will be
scientifically established."

What are these natural facts which can determine in
a scientist like Sir Oliver Lodge a conviction which
appears so contrary to that held by the great majority
of his confreres?

First of all, the facts of thought-transmission and
telepathy. His book contains numerous and signifi-
cant examples, drawn often from his own experience.
He says:

I am prepared to confess that the weight of testimony is


sufficient to satisfy my own mind that such things do un-
doubtedly occur; that the distance between England and India
is no barrier to the sympathetic communication of intelligence
in some way of which we are at present ignorant; that, just
as a signaling key in London causes a telegraphic instrument to
respond instantaneously in Teheran, so the danger or death of
a distant child, or brother, or husband, may be signaled, with-
out wire or telegraph clerk, to the heart of a human being
fitted to be the recipient of such a message.

There follow certain facts of automatic writing, as,
for example, those that the medium, Madame Newn-
ham, exhibited in the waking state. Sir Oliver Lodge

The instructive feature about this case was that the minds
apparently influencing the hand were not so much those of
dead as of living people. The advantage of this was that they
could be catechized afterward about their share in the trans-
action; and it then appeared that they either knew nothing
about it or were surprised at it; for though the communications
did correspond to something in their minds, it did not repre-
sent anything of which they were consciously thinking, and
was only a very approximate rendering of what they might
be wishing to convey.

The author concludes that this action, by which one
intelligence communicates with another, does not ema-
nate from conscious regions of the mind, but from those
of the subconsciousness of dreams, whether it be the
action of the living or of the dead.

11 Since," says he, " the living communicant is not
aware of what is being dictated, so the dead person need
not be consciously operative."


But, then, can it not also well be supposed that the
impression received, instead of coming, as pretended,
from a dead person, emanates from a third person,
or even that it had for its origin — according to Sir
Oliver Lodge's own expression — a central intelligence,
some anima mundi, to which would be connected all the
intelligences that we know, and by which they would be
influenced, a " sort of universal receptacle in which all
thoughts and all intelligences, past and present, would
be represented and conserved"?

Sir Oliver Lodge confesses, however, very loyally,
the failure of an experiment from which he hoped to
prove the possibility of communication between the
living and the dead. Frederic Myers had sent him
in January, 1891, a sealed envelope in the hope that
after his death the communication contained in the
envelope would be able to be given by means of a
medium. Many different messages obtained by a well-
known medium, Madame Verrall, and coming sup-
posedly from Frederic Myers, led them to believe that
they represented this communication. The envelope
was opened in December, 1904, and " it was found that
there was no resemblance between its actual contents
and what was alleged by the script to be contained in

Even had the experiment itself succeeded, it would
have proved nothing; for the success might well have
been due to clairvoyance — which was probably the
solution, also, of a case described by Kant in Dreams
of a Spirit Seer:

Madame Herteville (Marteville), the widow of the Dutch


Ambassador in Stockholm, some time after the death of her
husband, was called upon by Croon, a goldsmith, to pay for a
silver service which her husband had purchased from him.
The widow was convinced that her late husband had been much
too precise and orderly not to have paid this debt, yet she was
unable to find the receipt. In her sorrow, and because the
amount was considerable, she requested Mr. Swedenborg to
call at her house. After apologizing to him for troubling him,
she said that if, as people claimed, he possessed the extraordi-
nary gift of conversing with the souls of the departed, he
would perhaps have the kindness to ask her husband about
the silver service. Swedenborg was quite willing to comply
with her request. Three days later this lady was serving
coffee to some callers, when Swedenborg arrived and informed
her, with his usual sang-froid, that he had conversed with her
husband. The debt had been paid several months before his
decease, and the receipt would be found in a bureau in the
room upstairs. The lady replied that the bureau had been
thoroughly searched, and the receipt had not been found
among all the papers. Swedenborg then said that her hus-
band had told him that if the lefthand drawer were pulled out
a board would be seen, and if this were raised it would dis-
close a secret compartment, containing his private Dutch
correspondence, as well as the receipt. Upon hearing this de-
scription, the whole company went with the lady to the room
upstairs. The bureau was opened; the board was raised, dis-
closing the hidden compartment, the existence of which no one
had ever suspected; and, to the great astonishment of all, the
papers were discovered there, just as Swedenborg had described.

It may be worth while, perhaps, to cite a strange and
really enigmatic fact, reported and analyzed in Sir
Oliver Lodge's book under the caption of " The Mar-
montel Case ":


On December n, 1901 — toward the end of the first year
in which Mrs. Verrall had developed the power of automatic
writing — her hand wrote as follows :

Nothing too mean, the trivial helps, gives confi-
dence. Hence this. Frost and a candle in the dim
light. Marmontel, he was reading on a sofa or in
bed — there was only a candle's light. She will
surely remember this. The book was lent, not his
own — he talked about it.

Then there appeared a fanciful but unmistakable attempt at
the name Sidgwick.

Mrs. Sidgwick, widow of a well-known member of the
Society for Psychical Research, questioned by letter, replied
that she knew nothing about the matter but would report if
she came across the name Marmontel.

The same day that this reply was received, Mrs. Verrall
felt obsessed by the desire to write. She obtained a second
message :

I wanted to write. Marmontel is right. It was a
French book, a Memoir, I think. Passy may help,
Souvenirs de Passy, or Fleury. Marmontel was not
on the cover — the book was bound and was lent —
two volumes in old-fashioned binding and print. It
is not in any papers — it is an attempt to make some
one remember — an incident.

In January, 1902, Mrs. Verrall happened to write to a
friend of hers named Mr. Marsh, asking him to come for a
week-end visit; and he replied fixing March 1st.

Mrs. Verrall then reports as follows:

On March 1st Mr. Marsh arrived, and that evening at din-
ner he mentioned that he had been reading Marmontel. I


asked if he had read the Moral Tales, and he replied that it was
the Memoirs. I was interested in this reference to Marmon-
tel, and asked Mr. Marsh for particulars about his reading,
at the same time explaining the reasons for my curiosity. He
then told me that he had got the book from the London Library,
and took the first volume only to Paris with him, where he read
it on the evening of February 20th, and again on February
2 1 st. On each occasion he read by the light of a candle; on the
20th he was in bed, on the 21st lying on two chairs. The
weather was cold, but there was, he said, no frost. The London
Library copy is bound, as most of their books are, not in modern
binding; but the name " Marmontel " was on the back of the
volume. The edition has three volumes; in Paris Mr. Marsh
had only one volume, but at the time of this dinner he had read
the second also.

As to the words " Passy or Fleury," Mr. Marsh, on
his return to London three days later, verified the fact
that in the chapter of the Memoirs he had read on
February 21st, while lying on two chairs, there was a
description of the finding at Passy of a panel, connected
with a story in which Fleury plays an important part.

The most remarkable thing in this case is that the
fact recounted in the past in the medium's message of
December 1 1, 1901, had not at that date taken place, as
it was not produced until February 20, 1902 — two
months later.

Sir Oliver Lodge is not mistaken in seeing, not a case
of prevision, testifying to the remarkable parapsychic
faculties of the medium, but a case of hypnotic sugges-
tion, executed automatically under the influence of a de-
ceased person who was desirous of giving to his col-
leagues of the Society for Psychical Research a proof


of survival; and he proposes to us, hesitatingly enough,
it is true, the following hypothesis:

An outside or, let us say, a subliminal intelligence gets the
record made by Mrs. Verrall that an unspecified man will read
Marmontel on a frosty night lying on a sofa by candle light,
etc., and then sets to work to try and secure that within the
next two or three months some man shall do it — some one
who is sufficiently a friend of Mrs. Verrall to make it rea-
sonably likely that in subsequent conversation she may sooner
or later hear of the circumstance.

A difficulty here is that one might have to admit the
possibility of an anticipated vision of future events —
a possibility energetically denied by certain contem-
porary philosophers. But there would be greater diffi-
culty in admitting the reality of supernatural interven-
tions such as those of so-called spirits. On the other
hand, cases of " distant vision into space " are less
scarce than usually supposed. Myers, in his Human
Personality, cites a very significant fact:

Madame MacAlpine, on the shore of a lake, suddenly be-
came chilled and cramped. At this moment she saw before
her a dark cloud, in the midst of which was a tall man, who fell
into the lake and disappeared. Several days later she learned
that a Mr. Espy, tall and clothed identically as in her vision,
had fallen into the lake and been drowned. His drowning
occurred several days after Madame MacAlpine's vision ; but
it appeared that Mr. Espy had, some time ago, conceived the
idea of committing suicide by drowning in the lake.

It is not rare, moreover, to find in the visions of cer-
tain psychometrists transpositions of time and space,


quite similar to that of the " Case of Marmontel."
The following is quoted from the work of Edmond
Duchatel :

On July 31, 1909, we placed in the hands of Madame L. F.,
when in the state of somnambulism, a certain object belonging
to a person whom we knew to be in London. This is what
the psychometrist said: " I see this person in the country, and
in the mountains. She is reading as she walks, but in the depths
of her heart she is sorrowful. I see another lady, who would
like to call her Bichette (she always calls her so), and ask her
why she sighs. The lady who is called Bichette is neither tall
nor strong ; she is French, and is about forty years old."

We undertook to verify these statements. They were in-
exact at the time of the experiment, July 31, 1909. They
were, however, found to be exact thirty-five days later. The
descriptions were precisely as they occurred, even to the name
of the person, which, by the way, was the means of identifying
the conditions of this prophetic scene.

The author adds that Madame L. F. also made the
following statement : " Many people have come back
to me again to say that what I had described to them,
although not exact at the time, invariably became true
about two months afterward."

Sir Oliver Lodge makes use of such facts as the
preceding merely to conclude by analogy — as did
Frederic Myers — that telepathy (the action of the
mind of a living individual upon another mind, without
the intermediary of the organs) leads to spiritism
(more or less an identical action from the mind of a
person deceased) .

Unfortunately, of all the reasonings the least demon-


strative is that by analogy which, left to itself, can only
give birth to hypotheses.

It is, therefore, very difficult to see anything but the
expression of an hypothesis, the proof of which remains
to be made, in this passage from Sir Oliver Lodge in
which he explains the motive an operator situated in
the Beyond, such as Sidgwick, has in using the " scrip-
tural mechanism " of another person:

It may be a scientific interest surviving from the time in this
life when he was a keen and active member of the S. P. R. ; so
that he desires above all things to convey to his friends, engaged
on the same quest, some assurance, not only of his continued
individual existence . . . but of his retention of a power to
communicate indirectly and occasionally with them, and to pro-
duce movements even in the material world — by kind per-
mission of an organism, or part of an organism, the temporary
use or possession of which has been allowed him for that purpose.

Can one say that Sir Oliver Lodge has obtained, in
conditions really satisfactory to himself, a proof that
the deceased members of the Society for Psychical Re-
search have endeavored to collaborate with their living
colleagues in order to find a solution to the mystifying
problem of the survival of the personality after death?

This proof certainly cannot be found in the pages
where he describes and analyzes the mediumship of
Mrs. Piper; although there is to be found there an im-
portant and extraordinary contribution to the study of
spiritoidal phenomena. The author still hesitates,
however, between many different hypotheses:

There is no doubt that Mrs. Piper in a state of trance reaches

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Online LibraryEmile BoiracThe Psychology of the Future → online text (page 19 of 22)