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muscles were connected with a particular nerve.

One of the most remarkable phenomena connected with these con-
tractures is that they may be produced by a magnet not in physical con-
tact with the nerve or muscle excited, and still more wonderful, that it
may be transferred by a magnet from one side of the body to the other.
Thus if the fingers of the right hand have been contracted by pressure on
the ulnar nerve of the right arm, and a magnet is brought close to that
nerve, both hands become agitated with slight jerking movements, and
soon the contracture of the right fingers ceases, and is transferred to the
same fingers of the left hand. We shall see later that in more advanced
stage of hypnotism still more marvellous effects are produced by the
magnet, even to the extent of transferring moral emotions into their op-
posites, as love into hatred, or hatred into love.

In the meantime, it may be sufficient" to observe that these experiments
with the magnet seem to point out the most likely way of bringing these
mysterious phenomena within the domain of accurate science, and here
the researches of the Salpetriere school seem to be deficient We are
merely told that the magnet produces certain effects, but we want to
know at what distance does it produce these effects. Do the effects and
distance vary with the power of the magnet ? are they produced differently
by the presentation of the positive or negative pole ? are they produced
by an electro-magnet or by electric currents ? is there any and what re-
action bv the nerve or muscle on the magnet ? and other similar ques-



102 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

tions. When these are certainly known and can be expressed in terms
of weight and movement, we shall have made the first solid and secure
step in advance towards a solution of the more complicated problems.

The next stage is that of catalepsy, into which lethargy may be made
to pass by simply opening the eyelids. But although so closely allied to
lethargy, the states are very different In catalepsy all power of movement,
or of resistance to movement, is absolutely suspended, and the body is
like a lump of plastic clay, which may be moulded into, and will retain,
any form given to it by the operator. In fact the subject becomes a lay
figure, with this difference only, that he remains so only for some ten or
fifteen minutes, after which the constrained positions give way to natural
ones. But that he is a bond fide lay figure for the time is proved by regis-
tering the movements of the extended arm and the regularity of the res-
piration, by means of tracing instruments, and comparing them with those
of a healthy man voluntarily assuming the same position. The contrast
of the tracings is most remarkable. That of the arm extended by cata-
lepsy is a straight line showing absolutely no tremors ; while that of the
arm voluntarily extended, shows such a series of abrupt and increasing
oscillations as to make it quite conceivable how thought-reading may be
possible by contact between persons of exceptionally delicate nervous
organization.

Another remarkable feature in catalepsy is that the position in which
the body is placed seems to react on the mind, and call up the emotions,
and their reflex muscular motions, which are habitually associated with
the attitude. Thus if the head is depressed the face assumes the expres-
sion of humility; if elevated that of pride.

The most extraordinary phenomena known are those of somnambulism
and of the artificial somnambulism which is produced by animal
magnetism or hypnotism. These are of various stages, graduating from
that of ordinary waking dreams to that of profound hypnotism in which
will, consciousness, memory, and perception, are affected in a way which
at first sight appears to be truly magical or supernatural. The symptoms
may be classed for convenience as physical or psychical, although the
latter are really physical, depending ultimately on movements of nerve-
centres.

The direct physical effect seems to be the exact opposite of that of
lethargy, viz. : that the senses, instead of being asleep, have their sensibility
exalted in an extraordinary degree. Thus subjects feel the heat or cold
produced by breathing from the mouth at a distance of several yards.
The hearing is so acute that a conversation may be overheard which is
carried on in the floor below.

The amount of this exaltation of the senses can almost be measured.
There is a familiar experiment in which the impression of two points, as
of seperate pencils near one another, is felt as one, and an instrument has
been constructed, known as Weber's compasses, which measures the



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 103

amount of deviation necessary to produce a twofold sensation. This
deviation appears to be six times greater in the waking than in the
somnambulistic state, whence it may be inferred that the sensibility of
the sense of touch has been exalted sixfold.

A similar exaltation is produced in the faculty of memory, as shown
in the instance already quoted, in which an ignorant servant-girl recited a
long passage in Hebrew. As in dreams, perceptions long since photo-
graphed on the brain and completely forgotten seem to be revived with
all the vividness of actually present perceptions, when recalled by some
association with the dominant idea which has taken possession of the mind.
This arises doubtless, in a great measure, from the mind being closed
against the innumerable other impressions which, in the waking state,
wholly or partially neutralize any one suggested idea, and weaken its
impression. Thus a somnambulist walks securely along a narrow plank,
because no other outward impressions of surrounding objects confuse his
mind with suggestions of danger.

It is, however, when we come to the partly psychical phenomena of
hallucination and suggestion, that the results are most startling
and most opposed to ordinary experience. What is an hallucina-
tion ? It may be described in one word as seeing the invisible and not
seeing the visible. And the same of the other senses. They not only
deceive us, but give evidence directly contradictory of that of the waking
senses. We hear the inaudible, and are deaf to the audible; we touch the
intangible, and lose touch of the tangible; bitter tastes sweet, and sweet
bitter. The fundamental fact seems to be, that if certain conditions or
molecular movements of certain sensory nerve-centres of the brain are
caused, no matter how, the corresponding perceptions, with their train of
associated ideas and reflex movements, inevitably follow. In the normal
waking state these conditions are created by real objects conveyed to the
brain through the senses. We see a man, and we conclude him to be a
real man because our other senses confirm the testimony of sight. If he
speaks we hear him, if we touch him we feel him, and the evidence of all
other people who see and hear him confirms our experience. But in
dreams we have the commencement of a different experience, for we see
and hear distinctly for the time, though in a fleeting and imperfect man-
ner, scenes and persons which have no real objective existence. In
hallucinations we have the same thing, only in a waking or partially
waking state, and the impressions made are vastly more vivid and per-
manent

Take the following as instances of positive hypnotic hallucinations, or
seeing the invisible, recorded by Messrs. Bmet and Fere" from their experi-
ence at the Salpetreiere. A patient told to look at a butterfly which had
just alighted on the table before her, immediately said, "Oh, what a
beautiful butterfly," and proceeded cautiously to catch it and impale the
imaginary butterfly with a pin on a piece of cardboard. Another patient



104 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

being shown a photographic plate with an impression of a scene in the
Pyrenees, and told that it was a portrait of herself in a very unbecoming
dress, or rather want of dress, immediately saw it so, and was so enraged,
that she threw the plate on the ground and stamped on it. And what is
remarkable, as showing the intensity and persistency of these hallucina-
tions, for nearly two months afterwards, when shown in her waking state
photographs of this landscape which had been taken from the plate, she
saw her own portrait, and fell into fits of passion. In another case, a pa-
tient being told that one of the hospital doctors would be present at a ball
to be given next night among the immates of Salpetriere, saw, conversed,
and walked about with this imaginary doctor, who was not really present,
and when she saw the real man the day after, could not recognize him un-
til she had been again hypnotized, and the hallucination dispelled.

The negative experiences of making the visible invisible are even more
extraordinary. Take the following case. " We suggested to a hypnotized

patient that when she awoke she would be unable to see F . She

could not see him, and asked what had become of him. We replied, ' He
has gone out; you may return to your room. ' She rose, said good morn-
ing, and going to the door knocked up against F , who had placed

himself before it. We next took a hat, which she saw quite well, and
touched it so as to be sure that it was really there. We placed it on F

's head, and words cannot express her surprise when she saw the

hat apparently suspended in the air. F took off the hat and salu-
ted her with it several times, when she saw it, without any support, de-
scribing curves in the air. She declared the hat must be suspended by
a string, and even got on a chair to feel for it. "

Numerous other instances equally remarkable are recorded, and there
is a whole class of cases in which suggestions impressed on the subject's
mind in a state of hypnotism may long afterwards, and when totally for-
gotten, be revived at predicted periods, with irresistible force, in the
waking mind and produce the effects corresponding to the idea as by
an inevitable piece of machinery. This brings the subject within the
domain of criminal jurisprudence, for there is abundant evidence that a
normally moral person may obey a hypnotic suggestion which had been
totally forgotten, even to the extent of committing the greatest crimes, as
attempting to stab or administer poison. Thus M. Fe"re relates that hav-
ing ordered a subject in a state of somnambulism on awakening to stab

M. B with the pasteboard knife he put into her hand, as soon as she

awoke she rushed on him and struck him in the region of the heart. M.

B feigned to fall down. The subject, being asked why she had

killed him, replied with an expression of ferocity, " He is an old villain
and wished to insult me."

It is evident that if these phenomena are real, hypnotism ought to be
regulated by law as much as the far less dangerous practice of vivisection.
The practice of it should be confined to licensed medical practitioners,



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 105

and under conditions requiring the presence of at least two or more wit-
nesses, one of whom, especially in the case of females, should be some
respectable friend or relative. I prefer, however, not to dwell on this
branch of the question, but to return to its purely scientific and philo-
sophical aspects.

The purely mechanical origin of these hallucinations is shown by a
number of interesting experiments. An hallucinatory image can be re-
flected, refracted, or made to appear double, in precisely the same
manner as a real one. Thus in what is known as Brewster's experiment,
where an image is duplicated by a slight lateral pressure on one eye"
throwing it out of focus with the other, the same effect is produced. A
case is recorded where an hysterical patient who had a vision of the Vir-
gin Mary appearing in great glory, saw two Virgins directly this lateral
pressure was applied. Complementary colors also appear to an hallu-
cinatory image of a red or green spot on a sheet of white cardboard, just
as they would in the waking state if the spot were real. The magnet
also, by a purely mechanical action, transfers unilateral hallucinations
which affect one eye only, from the right to the left eye, and vice versd,

and it may be made to destroy an hallucination, as when X was

made invisible to an hypnotic subject, on applying a magnet to the back
of the head, X again became visible.

And what is still more wonderful, the magnet is capable of transferring
emotions. Thus the idea was impressed on a hypnotized subject, that

on awaking she would feel a desire to strike F . A magnet was

placed near her right foot. On awaking, she jumped up and tried to give

F a slap, saying, " I do not know why, but I feel a desire to strike

him." In another moment, her face assumed a gentle and endearing ex-
pression, and she said, " I want to embrace him," and tried hard to do
so. Consecutive oscillations between love and hatred were then observed.

Another most remarkable phenomenon is recorded. It was suggested

to a subject X that she had become M. F . On awaking, she

was unable to see M. F , who was present, but she exactly imitated

his gestures, put her hands in her pockets, and stroked an imaginary

moustache. When asked if she was acquainted with herself, X , she

replied with a contemptuous shrug, " Oh, yes, an hysterical patient What
do you think of her ? She is not too wise. "

There are two experiments recorded which throw a good deal of light
on the phenomena of what is known as spiritualism. In slight hypnotism,
the subject assert, on awaking, that they have never for a moment lost
consciousness, and that they have been present as witness at the phenom-
ena of suggestion developed by the magnetizers, In another case, the
furniture of the room seemed to the subject to be noisily moved about by
invisible hands, being really displaced by F , who had been rendered
invisible by suggestion. It is evident that if there is any real residue of
facts in the phenomena of spiritualistic seances, after deducting what is



io6 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

due to legerdemain and imposture, the above experiments would go a long
way to account for them. The preliminaries of a stance, such as dark-
ened rooms, contact of hands, and excited imagination, are almost iden-
tical with those employed by Mesmer, and it would be contrary to ex-
perience if they did not frequently produce, on susceptible subjects, hyp-
notic effects which made them susceptible to hallucinating suggestions.
If so, there is no doubt that they might see tables move and Mr. Home
float in the air, with a full conviction that they were awake all the time
and in possession of their ordinary senses.

This much I would observe, that all these attempts to escape from
the inexorable laws of nature invariably fail. Spiritualism is grasped at
by many because it seems to hold out a hope of escaping trom those laws
and proving the existence of disembodied spirits. But when analyzed by
science, spiritualism leads straight to materialism. What are we to think
of free will, if, as in the case of Dr. Braid's old lady, it can be annihilated
and the will of another brain substituted for it, by the simple mechani-
cal expedient of looking at a black wafer struck on a white wall ? Or
what becomes of personal consciousness and identity if, as in the case
above quoted, a young woman can be brought to refer to herself with
contemptuous pity as a strange girl, who "was not over wise"? These
cases of an alternating identity are most perplexing, Smith falls into a
trance and believes himself to be Jones. He really is Jones, and Smith
has become a stranger to him while the trance lasts; but when he awakes
he is himself, Smith, again, and forgets all about Jones. He falls into
another trance, and straightway he forgets Smith and takes up his Jones
existence where he dropped it in the previous trance, and so he may go on
alternating between Smith and Jones. I often ask myself the question
If he died during one of his trances which would he be Smith or Jones?
and I confess that it takes some one wiser than I am to answer it.

Again, what can be said of love and hate, if under given circumstances
they can be transformed into one another by the action of a magnet ? It
is evident that these phenomena all point to the conclusion that all we
call soul, spirit, consciousness, and personal identity, are indissolubly
connected with mechanical movements of the material elements of nerve-
cells, and that if we want any further solution, we must go down deeper
and ask what this matter, and what these movements, or rather the energy
which causes them, may really mean. Can the antithesis between soul
and body, spirit and matter, be solved by being both resolved into one
eternal and universal substratum of existence ? When Shakespeare said

" We are such stuff as dreams are made of,"

he enunciated what has become a scientific fact The "stuff" is in all
cases the same vibratory motions of nerve-particles.

The researches of the French school of physiologists throw a good deal
of light on the mysterious regions of phenomena, or alleged phenomena,



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 107

which are classed under the general beads of thought-reading, clairvoy-
ance, and spiritualism. Those of thought-reading and clairvoyance may
be summed up in the question whether or no it is possible for one brain
to communicate with another, otherwise, than through the ordinary
medium of the senses. It is certain that in the immense majority of cases
it is not possible. Consider how the ideas or perceptions of A are com-
municated to B. Certain movements of the brain-cells of A which are, if
not the cause, the invariable concomitants of those ideas and perceptions,
send currents along the nerves, which at their extremities contract mus-
cles and cause movements. These are transmitted, in the case of hearing,
by sound-waves of air; in that of sight by light-waves of ether, to the
nerve-endings of B, and along those nerves to his brain, where they origi-
nate cell-movements corresponding to the original movements in the brain
of A, and which are accompanied by the same train of ideas and percep-
tions. In the sense of touch, there is no intermediate medium between
the nerve-endings of A and B, and the movements of the former are com-
municated directly to those of B by contact The senses of taste and
smell are hardly used by the human species as means of communicating
ideas, though in many animal species, as in the dog, the latter sense is
one which is greatly used in placing them in relation with their environ-
ment,

This also may be affirmed respecting the different senses, that they are
capable of being brought to an exceptional degree of susceptibility by
necessity and practice, as is well illustrated by the facility with which the
blind substitute the sense of touch for that of sight, and read fluently
books printed with raised letters. The sense of sight also may be brought
to a degree of unusual acuteness, enabling the observer to read indica-
tions in the face and expression so slight as to be invisible to the ordinary
sense, and of which the person observed is himself unconscious. A re-
markable instance of this is given by Sir John Lubbock, of a dog who
could pick out from a series of numbers on cards laid on the floor the
correct answer of sums in arithmetic, and even extract cube-roots, doubt-
less by observing unconscious indications in his master's face when he
touched the correct card.

This, no doubt, goes a long way towards explaining the phenomena
of what is called thought-reading. It is quite conceivable that, with con-
tact, an exceptionally delicate sense of touch, exceptionally cultivated,
may enable a man to read the insensible tremors which are unconsciously
transmitted to nerve-ends and superficial muscles, the existence of which
is a necessary consequence of all brain-motion or thought, and which is
proved to exist as a matter of fact by the irregularities in the line traced by
a pencil under suitable conditions. And it is to be remarked that keep-
ing the mind fixed on the idea, in other words, making the corresponding
brain-motions and nerve-currents stronger and more persistent, is the
condition usually required for a successful experiment in thought-reading.



I0 8 BEACON LIGHTS OF SCIENCE.

Thus far, and Mr. Cumberland the most successful thought-reader of
the day carries it no farther, there is nothing impossible, or even d priori
improbable, in the assertion that thought may be thus read. It is a ques-
tion of evidence, and here the weight of the negative evidence is so great
that it requires extremely strong proof to establish exceptions. It is a
matter of notoriety that persons, even of delicate temperaments, may lie
in the closest contact, clasped in each other's arms, without either having
the remotest idea of what is passing in the mind of the other, unless it is
conveyed by the ordinary channels of sight or hearing. On the other
hand, the evidence for a few rare exceptions is strong, especially in the
case of some of Mr. Cumberland's experiments, which are all the stronger
because he does not pretend to any supernatural power, and shows none
of the ordinary signs of an impostor. All we can say, therefore, is that
where there is no contact, or where unconscious indications may be read
by the eye, there is nothing in thought-reading inconsistent with the
known laws of nature ; but that the evidence, though strong, is hardly
strong enough to enable us to accept it as an established fact.

But when we come to thought-reading at a distance, and to the analo-
gous alleged phenomena of clairvoyance, fulfilled dreams and visions, and
communications across the globe, mostly from the dead and dying, such
as are so plentifully recorded in the annals of the Psychical Research
Society, the case is different. If they are true, we must assume either a
reversal of the known laws of nature, or an otherwise unknown and un-
proved addition to them. Vibrations cannot be transmitted without a
medium, and in the supposed cases the medium is certainly not the air
which transmits sound-waves, or the ether which transmits waves of light,
heat, and chemical energy, or any modification of it which transmits
magnetism or electricity. It must either be some sort of personal aura,
or a universal aura which pervades space, and is specially adapted for
transmitting brain and nerve vibrations, and those only. But the evidence
is overwhelming against the existence of such a medium. In the case of
the real mediums, air and ether, they respond invariably and uniformly
to the same stimuli ; but we may point our fingers to the end of time to a
magnet without making it vibrate, and think for ever of absent friends
without conveying to them the slightest intimation. It is only in the
rarest exceptional cases that the contrary is even alleged, and that only
under conditions which may either be accounted for by coincidence or
imposture, or which not only lie outside of, but directly in conflict with,
known laws of nature. This is most apparent in the cases which fall
under the heads of clairvoyance or supernatural communications. Con-
sider the enormous number of dreams, 300,000,000 at least, of civilized
human beings dreaming for most nights of the year, and these dreams all
made up of fragments of actual scenes and persons, which have been
photographed on the brain. The wonder is not that there should be
occasional coincidences between dreams and contemporaneous or subse*



PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. 109

quent occurrences, but that there should be so few of them. How many
anxious brains must hc.ve dreamt of absent friends or relations dying or
in danger, and in how many millions of cases must the dream not have
been verified. And how many vivid dreams, or dreams in the dozing
state, between sleeping and waking, must have passed into the stage of
hallucination, and been taken for actual visions. And how weak is
memory, and how strong the myth-making propensity of the human mind
to convert these dreams and visions into waking realities. Of the many
cases of distant communications collected by the Psychical Research
Society, I do not know of one which may not be thus accounted for;
and in some the proof is conclusive, as where visions have been seen or
impressions felt of events before they occurred, owing to the difference of
time due to longitude.

In the case of spiritualism it is remarkable that it is only the more
vulgar and grotesque forms which there is any difficulty in explaining.
We understand how spirits are materialized, for the apparatus has been



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