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Modern Magic. 



Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex fumo dare lucem 
Cogitat, ut speciosa dehinc miracula promat. 




Fourth Avenue and Twenty-Third Street. 





Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1873, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 


Lange, Little & Hillman, 

peintees, electrotyfers and steeeotypees, 

108 to 114 Wooster Street, N. Y. 


The main purpose of our existence on earth — aside 
from the sacred and paramount duty of securing our 
salvation — is undoubtedly to make ourselves masters 
of the tangible world around us, as it stands revealed 
to our senses, and as it was expressly made subject to 
our will by the Creator. We are, however, at the same 
time, not left without information about the existence 
of certain laws and the occurrence of certain phenom- 
ena, which belong to a world not accessible to us by 
means of our ordinary senses, and which yet affect seri- 
ously our intercourse with Nature and our personal 
welfare. This knowledge we obtain sometimes, by spe- 
cial favor, as direct revelation, and at other times, for 
reasons as yet unknown, at the expense of our health 
and much suffering. By whatever means it may reach 
us, it cannot be rejected; to treat it with ridicule or to 


decline examining it, would be as unwise as unprofita- 
ble. The least that we can do is to ascertain the pre- 
cise nature of these laws, and, after stripping these 
phenomena of all that can be proved to be merely inci- 
dental or delusive, to compare them with each other, 
and to arrange them carefully according to some stand- 
ard of classification. The main interest in such, a task 
lies in the discovery of the grain of truth which, is 
often found concealed in a mass of rubbish, and which, 
when thus brought to light, serves to enlarge our 
knowledge and to increase our power. The difficulty 
lies in the absence of all scientific investigation, and in 
the innate tendency of man to give way, wantonly or 
unconsciously, to mental as well as to sensual delu- 

The aim of this little work is, therefore, limited to 
the gathering of such facts and phenomena as may 
serve to throw light upon the nature of the magic 
powers with which man is undoubtedly endowed. Its 
end will be attained if it succeeds in showing that he 
actually does possess powers which are not subject to 
the general laws of nature, but more or less independ- 
ent of space and time, and which yet make themselves 
known partly by appeals to the, ordinary senses and 
partly by peculiar phenomena, the result of their 


activity. These higher powers, operating exclusively 
through the spirit of man, are part of his nature, which 
has much in common with that of the Deity, since he 
was created by God " in His own image," and the Lord 
" breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man 
became a living soul" This soul is not, as materialists 
maintain, merely the sum of all perceptions obtained 
by the collective activity of bodily organs— a conclusion 
which would finally make it the product of mere 
material atoms, subject to constant physical and 
chemical changes. Even if it were possible — which we 
deny — to reduce our whole inner life, including memo- 
ry, imagination, and reason, to a system of purely 
physical laws, and thus to admit its destruction at 
the moment of death, there would still remain the' 
living soul, coming directly from the Most High, and 
destined to continue throughout eternity. This soul is, 
hence, independent of time. Nor is it bound by space, 
■except so far as it can commune with the outer world 
only by means of the body, with which it is united in 
this life. The nature of this union is a mystery as yet 
unfathomed, but precisely because it is such a mystery, 
we have no right to assume that it is altogether indis- 
soluble during life ; or, that it ceases entirely at the 
moment of death. There is, on the contrary, over- 


whelming evidence that the soul may, at times, act 
independently of the body, and the forces developed on 
such occasions we have, for the sake of convenience 
rather than on account of the special fitness of the 
term, preferred to call magic powers. 

There is no evidence whatever before us as to the 
mutual relations of soul and body after death. Here, 
necessarily, all must be mere speculation. Nothing 
more, therefore, will be claimed for the following 
suggestions. When the body becomes unfit to serve 
any longer as an abode and an instrument to the soul, 
the tie which was formed before or at the moment of 
birth is gradually loosened. The soul no longer 
receives impressions from the outer world such as the 
body heretofore conveyed to it, and with this cessation 
of mutual action ends, also, the community of sensa- 
tion. The living soul — in all probability — becomes 
conscious of its separation from the dead body and 
from the world ; it continues to exist, but in loneliness 
and self-dependence. Its life, however, becomes only 
the more active and the more self-conscious as it is no 
longer consumed by intercourse with the world, nor 
disturbed by bodily disorders and infirmities. The soul 
recalls with ease all long-forgotten or much-dimmed 
sensations. What it feels most deeply at first is, we may 


presume, the double grief at being separated from the 
body, with which it has so long been closely connected, 
and at the sins it has committed during life. This 
repentance will be naturally all the heartier, as it is no 
longer interrupted by sensual impressions. After a 
while this grief, like all sorrows, begins to moderate, 
and the soul returns to a state of peace : sooner, of 
course, in the case of persons who in their earthly life 
already had secured peace by the only means revealed to 
man ; later, by those who had given themselves entirely 
up to the world and their passions. At the same time 
the living soul enters into communion with other souls, 
retaining, however, its individuality in sex, character, 
and temper, and, possibly, proceeds on a course of 
gradual purification, till it reaches the desired haven in 
perfect reconciliation with God. During this inter- 
mediate time there is nothing known to us which 
would absolutely forbid the idea that these living souls 
continue to maintain some kind of intercourse with 
the souls of men on earth, with whom they share all 
that constitutes their essential nature, save only the 
one fact of bondage to the body. Nor is there any 
reason why the soul in man should not be able, by its 
higher powers, to perceive and to consort with souls 
detached from mortal bodies, although this intercourse 


must needs be limited and imperfect because of the 
vast difference between a free soul and one bound to an 
earthly, sinful body. For man, when he dies, leaves 
behind in this world the body, dead and powerless, a 
corpse. He continues, however, to live, a soul, with all 
the peculiar powers which make up our spiritual 
organism ; that is to say, the true man, in the higher 
sense of the word, exists still, though he dwell in 
another world. This soul has now no longer earthly 
organs of sense to do its bidding, but it still controls 
nature which was made subject to its will; it has, 
moreover, a new set of powers which represent in the 
higher world its higher body, and the character of its 
new active life will be all the more elevated, as these 
organs are more spiritual. Man cannot but continue to 
develop, to grow, and to ripen, in the next world as he 
did in this ; his nature and his destiny are alike incom- 
patible with sudden transitions and with absolute rest. 
The soul must become purer and more useful; its 
organs more subtle and more powerful, and it is of this 
life of gradual improvement and purification that we 
may occasionally obtain glimpses by that communion 
which no doubt still exists between earth-bound souls 
and souls freed from such bondage. 

There are, it is well known, many theologians who 


sternly deny any such further development of man's 
spiritual part, and insist upon looking at this life as the 
only time of probation accorded to him, at the end of 
which immediate and eternal judgment is .rendered. 
Their views are entitled to the utmost consideration 
and respect. But different opinions are entertained by 
some of their brethren, not less eminent in piety, pro- 
found learning, and critical acumen, and hence at least 
equally deserving of being attentively listened to and 
carefully regarded. So it is also with the belief in the 
possibility of holding intercourse with disembodied 
spirits. Superficial observers are ready to doubt or to 
deny, to sneer haughtily, or to scoff contemptuously. 
But men of great eminence have, from time immemo- 
rial, treated the question with great attention and deep 
interest. Melanchthon wrote: "I have myself seen 
ghosts, and know many trustworthy people who affirm 
that they have not only seen them, but even carried on 
conversations with them" (De Anima Recogn.: Wittemb. 
1595, p. 317), and Luther said nearly the same ; Calvin 
and Knox also expressed similar convictions. A faith 
which has lasted through all ages of man's history, and 
has such supporters, cannot but have some foundation, 
and deserves full investigation. Alchemy, with its vis- 
ionary hopes, contained, nevertheless, the germ of 



modern chemistry, and astrology taught already much 
that constitutes the astronomy of our day. The same 
is, no doubt, the case with Modern Magic, and here, 
also, we may safely expect to find that " out of darkness 
cometh light." 



Witchcraft 13 


Black and White Magic 43 

Dreams 94 

Visions 116 

Ghosts 155 

Divination 270 

Possession 340 

Magnetism 376 


Miraculous Cures 429 

Mysticism 448 

Modern Magic 


" Witchcraft is an illegitimate miracle ; a miracle is legitimate 
witchcraft." — Jacob Boehme. 

Perhaps in no direction has the human mind ever 
shown greater weakness than in the opinions enter- 
tained of witchcraft. If Hecate, the oldest patroness 
of witches, wandered about at night with a gruesome 
following, and frightened lovers at their stealthy meet- 
ing, or lonely wanderers on open heaths and in dark 
forests, her appearance was at least in keeping with the 
whole system of Greek mythology. Tacitus does not 
frighten us by telling us that witches used to meet at 
salt springs (Ann. xiii. 57), nor the Edda when speak- 
ing of the " bearers of witches' kettles," against whom 
even the Salic Law warns all good Christians. But 
when the Council of Ancyra, in the fifth century, ful- 
minates its edicts against women riding at night upon 
weird animals in company with Diana and Herodias, 
the strange combination of names and the dread penal- 
ties threatened, make us almost think of witches as of 
real and most marvelous beings. And when wise 


councillors of French Parliaments and gray dignitaries 
of the Holy German Empire sit in judgment over a 
handful of poor old women, when great English bishops 
and zealous New England divines condemn little * 
children to death, because they have made pacts with 
the Devil, attended his sabbaths, and bewitched their 
peaceful neighbors — then we stand amazed at the delu- 
sions, to which the wisest and best among us are 

Christianity, it is true, shed for a time such a bright 
light over the earth, that the works of darkness were 
abhorred and the power of the Evil One seemed to be 
broken, according to the sacred promises that the seed 
of woman should bruise the serpent's head. Thus 
Charlemagne, in his fierce edict issued after the defeat 
of the Saxons, ordered that death should be inflicted 
on all who after pagan manner gave way to devilish 
delusions, and believed that men or women could be 
witches, persecuted and killed them ; or, even went so 
far as to consume their flesh and give it to others for 
like purposes ! But almost at the same time the belief 
in the Devil, distinctly maintained in Holy Writ, spread 
far and wide, and as early as the fourth century dis- 
eases were ascribed not to organic causes, but to demo- 
niac influences, and the Devil was once more seen bodily 
walking to and fro on the earth, accompanied by a host 
of smaller demons. It was but rarely that a truly 
enlightened man dared to combat the universal super- 
stition. Thus Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, shines 


like a bright star on the dark sky of the ninth century 
by his open denunciation of all belief in possession, in 
the control of the weather or the decision of difficulties 
by ordeal. For like reasons we ought to revere the 
memory of John of Salisbury, who in the twelfth 
century declared the stories of nightly assemblies of 
witches, with all their attending circumstances, to be 
mere delusions of poor women and simple men, who 
fancied they saw bodily what existed only in their 
imagination. The Church hesitated, now requiring her 
children to believe in a Devil and demons, and now 
denouncing all faith in supernatural beings. The thir- 
teenth century, by Leibnitz called the darkest of all, 
developed the worship of the Evil One to its fullest per- 
fection ; the writings of St. Augustine were quoted as 
confirming the fact that demons and men could and 
did intermarry, and the Djinns of the East were men- 
tioned as spirits who "sought the daughters of men 
for wives." The first trace of a witches' dance is found 
in the records of a fearful Auto-da-fe held in Toulouse 
in the year 1353, and about a century later the Domini- 
can monk, Jaquier, published the first complete work 
on witches and witchcraft. He represented them as 
organised — after the prevailing fashion of the day — in a 
regular guild, with apprentices, companions, and mas- 
ters, who practised a special art for a definite purpose. 
It is certainly most remarkable that the same opinion, 
in all its details, has been entertained in this century 
even, and by one of the most famous German philoso- 


pliers, Eschenmayer. While the zeal and madness of 
devil-worshippers were growing on one side, persecu- 
tion became more violent and cruel on the other side, 
till the trials of witches assumed gigantic proportions 
and the proceedings were carried on according to a reg- 
ular method. These trials originated, invariably, with 
theologians, and although the system was not begun by 
the Papal government it obtained soon the Pope's legal 
sanction by the famous bull of Innocent VIII., Summis 
desider antes, dated December 4, 1484, and decreeing 
the relentless persecution of all heretical witches. The 
far-famed Malleus maleficatum (Cologne, 1489), written 
by the two celebrated judges of witches, Sprenger and 
Gremper, and full of the most extraordinary views and 
statements, reduced the whole to a regular method, and 
obtained a vast influence over the minds of that age. 
The rules and forms it prescribed were not only ob- 
served in almost all parts of Christendom, but actually 
retained their force and legality till the end of the 
seventeenth century. Nor were these views and prac- 
tices confined to Catholic countries; a hundred and 
fifty years after the Eeformation, a great German jurist 
and a Protestant, Carpzon, published his Praxis Grim- 
inalis, in which precisely the same opinions were 
taught and the same measures were prescribed. The 
Puritans, it is well-known, pursued a similar plan, and 
the New World has not been more fortunate in avoid- 
ing these errors than the Old World. A curious 
feature in the above-mentioned works is the fact that 


both abound in expressions of hatred against the female 
sex, and still more curious, though disgraceful in the 
extreme, that the special animosity shown by judges of 
witchcraft against women is solely based upon the 
weight which they attached to the purport of the 
Mosaic inhibition: "Thou Shalt not* suffer a witch to 
live " (Exodus xii. 18). 

These are dark pages in the history of Christendom, 
blackened by the smoke of funeral piles and stained 
with the blood of countless victims of cruel supersti- 
tion. For here the peculiarity was that in the majority 
of cases not the humble sufferers whose lives were sac- 
rificed, but the haughty judges were the true criminals. 
The madness seems to have been contagious, for Pro- 
testant authorities were as bloodthirsty as Catholics ; 
the Inquisition waged for generations unceasing war 
against this new class of heretics among the nations of 
the Eomanic race. Germany saw great numbers sacri- 
ficed in a short space of time, and in sober England, 
even, three thousand lost their lives during the Long 
Parliament alone, while, according to Barrington, the 
whole number who perished amounted to not less than 
thirty thousand! If only few were sacrificed in New 
England, the exception was due more to the sparse 
population than to moderation ; in South America, on 
the contrary, the persecution was carried on with re- 
lentless cruelty. And all this happened while fierce 
war was raging almost everywhere, so that, while the 
sword destroyed the men, the fire consumed the women ! 


Occasionally most startling contrasts would be exhib- 
ited by different governments. In the North, James I., 
claiming to be as wise as Solomon, and more learned 
than any man in Christendom, imagined that he was 
persecuted by the Evil One on account of his great 
religious zeal, and saw in every Catholic an instrument 
of his adversary. His wild fancy was cunningly en- 
couraged by those who profited by his tyranny, and 
Catholics were represented as being, one and all, given 
up to the Devil, the mass and witchcraft, the three un- 
holy allies opposed to the Trinity ! In the South, the 
Eepublic of Venice, with all its petty tyranny and pro- 
verbial political cruelty, stood almost alone in all 
Christendom as opposed to persecutions of wizards and 
witches, and fought the battle manfully on the side of 
enlightenment and Christian charity. The horrors of 
witch-trials soon reached a height which makes us 
blush for humanity. The accused were tortured till 
they confessed their guilt, so that they might lose not 
only life upon earth, but also hope for eternity. If, 
under torture, they declared themselves innocent, but 
ready to confess their guilt and to die, they were told 
that in such a case they would die with a falsehood on 
their lips, and thus forfeit salvation. Some of the suf- 
ferers were found to have a stigma on their bodies, a 
place where the nerves had been paralysed, and no pain 
was consequently felt — this was a sure sign of their 
being witches, and they were forthwith burnt ; if they 
had no such stigma, the judge decided that the Devil 


marked only his doubtful adherents, and left his trusty 
followers unmarked ! The terror became so great that 
in the seventeenth century repentant " witches abound- 
ed, because it had become customary " merely to hang or 
to decapitate those who confessed, while all others were 
burned alive. Hundreds suffering of painful diseases or 
succumbing to unbearable privations, forthwith fancied 
themselves bewitched, or actually sought relief from 
the ills of this life by voluntarily appearing before the 
numerous tribunals for the trial of witchcraft. The 
minds of men were so thoroughly blinded, that even 
when husbands testified the impossibility of their wives 
having attended the witches' sabbath, because they had 
been lying all night by their side in bed, they were told, 
and quite ready to believe, that a phantom had taken 
the place of their absent wives ! In one of the most fa- 
mous trials five women confessed, after suffering un- 
speakable torture, that they had disinterred an infant, 
the child of one of their number, and supped upon it 
with the Devil ; the father of the child persevered till 
the grave was opened, and behold, the child's body was 
there unharmed! But the judges declared it to be a 
phantom sent by the Evil One, since the confession of 
the criminals was worth more than mere ocular proof, 
and the women were burnt accordingly. (Horst. De- 
monomagie, i. p. 349.) The most signal proof of the 
absurdity of all such charges was obtained in our own 
country. Here the number of those who complained 
of being plagued and injured by demoniac agencies 


became larger in precise proportion as trials increased 
and condemnations succeeded. But when nineteen of 
the accused had been executed, and the judges becom- 
ing appalled at the daily growing number of com- 
plaints, set some of the prisoners free, and declined to 
arrest others, there was suddenly an end of these griev- 
ances, no more accounts of enchantment and witch- 
craft were heard, and soon the evil disappeared en- 

It was a similar return to reason which at last led in 
Europe also to a reaction. The Doge of Venice and the 
Great Council appealed to the pope, Leo X., to put a 
curb upon the intemperate zeal of his ministers, and he 
saw himself forced to check the merciless persecution. 
Occasionally voices had been raised, already before that 
public appeal, condemning such wholesale slaughter ; 
among these were men like Bacon of Verulam, Regi- 
nald Scotus, and, marvel of marvels, two famous 
Jesuits, Tanner and Spee. And yet even these merci- 
ful and enlightened men never, for a moment, doubted 
the genuineness of witchcraft and its fatal effects. 
Father Spee, a most learned man, writing against the 
ceaseless persecutions of pretended witches, neverthe- 
less declared, in 1631, in his renowned Cautio crimin- 
aliSf by far the best work written on that side of the 
question, that " there are in the world some few wizards 
and enchanters, which could not be denied by any 
body without frivolity and great ignorance," and even 
Bayle, while condemning the cruelty of witches' trials, 


seriously proposes to punish witches for their " ill-will." 
Vaude, the well-known; librarian of Cardinal Mazarin, 
wrote an able work as an apology of all the great men 
who had been suspected of witchcraft, including even 
Clemens V., Sylvester II., and other popes, and a re- 
nowned Capuchin monk, d'Autun, pursued the same 
subject with infinite subtlety of thought and great hap- 
piness of diction in his Uincridiilite, savante et la credu- 
lite ignorante. A witch was, however, still condemned 
to be burned in 1698, in Germany; fortunately the 
judge, a distinguished jurist of the University of Halle, 
was remonstrated with by an esteemed colleague, and 
thus induced to examine himself as well as the whole 
grievous subject with unsparing candor. This led him 
to see clearly the error involved in trials of witchcraft, 
and he wrote, in 1701, a most valuable and influential 
work against the Crime of Magic. He succeeded, espe- 
cially, in destroying the enormous prestige heretofore 
enjoyed by Del Eio's great work Disqiusitiones magicce, 
the favorite hand-book of judges of all lands, which 
was even adopted, though from the pen of a Jesuit, by 
the Protestants of Germany. In no case, however, 
were the personal existence of the Devil, and his activity 
upon earth, denied by these writers ; on the contrary, 
it is well known that Luther, Melanchthon, and even 
Calvin, continued always to speak of Satan as having a 
corporeal existence and as being perceptible to human 
senses. ■ The negation contended for applied only to his 
direct agency in the physical world; his moral in flu- 


ence was ever readily admitted. Sporadic cases of 
witchcraft, and their trial by high courts of justice, 
have continued to occur down to our day. Maria 
Theresa was the first peremptorily to forbid any further 
persecutions on account of Veneficium, as it had become 
the fashion to call the acts of magic by which men or 
beasts were said to be injured. There are, however, 
writers who maintain, in this century, and in our gen- 
eration, even, the direct agency of the Devil in daily 
life, and see in demoniac sufferings the punishment of 
the wicked in this life already. 

The question of how much truth there may have 
been in this belief in witchcraft, held by so many na- 
tions, and persevered in during so many centuries, has 
never yet been fully answered. It is hardly to be pre- 
sumed that during this long period all men, even the 
wisest and subtlest, should have been completely 
blinded or utterly demented. Many historians as well 
as philosophers have looked upon witchcraft as a mere 
creation of the Inquisition. Eome, they argue, was in 
great danger, she had no new dogma to proclaim which 
would give food to inquiring minds, and increase the 
prestige of her power; she was growing unpopular in 
many countries heretofore considered most faithful and 
submissive, and she was engaged in various dangerous 
conflicts with the secular powers. In this embarrass- 
ment her Inquisitors looked around for some means of 
escape, and thought a remedy might be found in this 
new combination of the two traditional crimes of 


heresy and enchantment. Witchcraft, as a crime, 
because of the deeds of violence with which it was 
almost invariably associated, belonged before the tri- 
bunal of the secular judge ; as a sin it was to be pun- 
ished by the bishop, but as heresy it fell, according to 
the custom of the day, to the share of neither judge nor 
bishop, but into the hands of the Inquisition. 

The extreme uniformity of witchcraft from the 
Tagus to the Vistula, and in New England as in Old 
England, is adduced as an additional evidence of its 
having been " manufactured " by the Inquisition. 
Nothing is gained, however, by looking upon it as 
a mere invention ; nor would such an explanation 
apply to the wizards and witches who are repeatedly 
mentioned and condemned in Holy Writ. Witchcraft 
was neither purely artificial, a mere delusion, nor can 
it be accounted for upon a purely natural basis. 
The essential part in it is the magic force, which 
does not belong to the natural but to the spiritual 
part of man. Hence it is not so very surprising, as 
many authors have thought it, that thousands of 
poor women should have done their best to obtain 
visions which only led to imprisonment, torture, and 
death by fire, while they procured for them appa- 
rently neither comfort nor wealth, but only pain, 
horror, and disgrace. For there was mixed up with 
all this a sensation of pleasure, vague and wild, 
though it was in conformity with the rude and 
coarse habits of the age. It is the same with the 


opium eater and hasheesh smoker, only in a more 
moderate manner ; the delight these pernicious drugs 
afford is not seen, but the disease, the suffering, and 
the wretched death they produce, are visible enough. 
The stories of witches' sabbaths taking place on 
certain days of the year, arose no doubt from the 
fact that the prevailing superstition of the times 
regarded some seasons as peculiarly favorable for the 
ceremony of anointing one's self with narcotic salves, 
and this led to a kind of spiritual community on 
such nights, which to the poor deluded people ap- 
peared as a real meeting at appointed places. In like 
manner there was nothing absolutely absurd or im- 
possible in the idea of a compact with the Devil. 
Satan presented himself to the minds of men in those 
ages as the bodily incarnation of all that is evil and 
sinful, and hence when they fancied they made a 
league with him, they only aroused the evil principle 
within themselves to its fullest energy and activity. 
It was in fact the selfish, covetous nature of man, 
ever in arms against moral laws and the command- 
ments of God, which in these cases became distinctly 
visible and presented itself in the form of a vision. 
This evil principle, now relieved from all constraint 
and able to develop its power against a feebly resist- 
ing soul, would naturally destroy the poor deluded 
victim, in body and in spirit. Hence the trials of 
witchcraft had at least some justification, however 
unwise their form and however atrocious their abuses. 


The majority of the crimes with which the so-called 
witches were charged, were no doubt imaginary ; but 
many of the accused also had taken real delight in 
their evil practices and in the grievous injury they 
had done to those they hated or envied. Xor must 
it be forgotten that the age in which these trials 
mainly occurred was emphatically an age of super- 
stition; from the prince on his throne to the clown 
in his hut, everybody learnt and practiced some kind 
of magic : the ablest statesmen and the subtlest phi- 
losophers, the wisest divines and the most learned 
physicians, all were more or less adepts of the Black 
Art, and many amoug them became eminently dan- 
gerous to their fellow-beings. Others, ceaselessly 
meditating and brooding over charms and demoniac 
influences' finally came to believe in their own pow- 
ers of enchantment, and confessed their guilt, although 
they had sinned only by volition, without ever being 
able really to call forth and command magic powers. 
Still others labored under a regular panic and saw 
witchcraft in the simplest events as well as in all 
more unusual phenomena in nature. A violent temp- 
est, a sudden hailstorm, or an unusual rise in rivers, 
all were at once attributed to magic influences, and 
the authorities urged and importuned to prevent a 
recurrence with all its disastrous consequences by 
punishing the guilty authors. Has not the same 
insane fury been frequently shown in contagious dis- 
eases, when the common people believed their foun- 


tains poisoned and tlieir daily bread infected by Jews 
or other suspected classes, and promptly took justice 
into their own hands ? It ought also to be borne 
in mind, as an apology for the horrible crimes com- 
mitted by judges and priests in condemning witches, 
that in their eyes the crime was too enormous and 
the danger too pressing and universal to admit of 
delay in investigation, or mercy in judgment. The 
severe laws of those semi-barbarous times were imme- 
diately applied and all means considered fair in elic- 
iting the truth. Torture was by no means limited 
to trials of witches, for some of the greatest states- 
men and the most exalted divines had alike to endure 
its terrors. Moreover no age has been entirely free 
from similar delusions, although the form under which 
they appear and the power by which they may be 
supported, differ naturally according to the spirit of 
the times. Science alone cannot protect us against 
fanaticism, if the heart is once led astray, and fearful 
crimes have been committed not only in the name 
of Liberty but? even under the sanction of the Cross. 
Basil the Great already restored a slave ad integrum, 
who said he had made a pact with the Devil, but 
the first authentic account of such a transaction 
occurs in connection with an Imperial officer, The- 
ophilus of Adana, in the days of Justinian. His 
bishop had undeservedly humiliated him and thus 
aroused in the heart of the naturally meek man in- 
tense wrath and a boundless desire of revenge. 


While he was in this state of uncontrollable excite- 
ment, a Jew appeared and offered to procure for him 
all he wanted, if he would pledge his soul to Satan. 
The unhappy man consented, and was at once led 
to the circus where he saw a great number of torch- 
bearers in white robes, the costume of servants of 
the church, and Satan seated in the midst of the as- 
sembly. He obeyed the order to renounce Christ and 
certified his apostacy in a written document. The 
next day already the bishop repented of his injustice 
and restored Theophilus in his office, whereupon the 
Jew pointed out to him how promptly his master 
had come to his assistance. Still, repentance comes 
to Theophilus also, and in a new revelation the Virgin 
appears to the despairing man after incessant prayer 
of forty days and nights — a fit preparation for such 
a vision. She directs him to perform certain aton- 
ing ceremonies and promises him restoration to his 
Christian privileges, which he finally obtains by find- 
ing the certificate of his apostasy lying on his breast, 
and then dies in a state of happy relief. After that 
similar cases of a league being made with Satan occur 
quite frequently in the history of saints and eminent 
men, till the belief in its efficacy gradually died out 
and recent efforts like those recorded by Goerres 
(III. p. 620) have proved utterly fruitless. % 

Among the magic phenomena connected with witch- 
craft, none is more curious than the so-called witches' 
sabbath, the formal meeting of all who are in league 


with Satan, for the purpose of swearing allegiance to 
him, to enjoy unholy delights, and to introduce neo- 
phytes. That no such meeting ever really took place, 
need hardly be stated. The so-called sabbaths were 
somnambulistic visions, appearing to poor deluded 
creatures while in a state of trance, which they had 
produced by narcotic ointments, vile decoctions, or 
even mere mental effort. For the most skillful among 
the witches could cause themselves to fall into the 
Witches' Sleep, as they called this trance, whenever 
they chose ; others had to submit to tedious and often 
abominable ceremonies. The knowledge of simples, 
which was then very general, was of great service to 
cunning impostors; thus it was well known that cer- 
tain herbs, like aconite, produces in sleep the sensation 
of flying, and they were, of course, diligently employed. 
Hyosciamus and taxus, hypericum and asafoetida were 
great favorites, and physicians made experiments 
with these salves to try their effect upon the system. 
Laguna, for instance, physician to Pope Julius III., 
once applied an ointment which he had obtained from 
a wizard, to a woman, who thereupon fell into a sleep 
of thirty-six hours' duration, and upon being aroused, 
bitterly complained of his cruelty in tearing her from 
the embraces of her husband. The Marquis d' Agent 
tells us in his Leltres Juifs. (i. 1. 20), that the celebrated 
Gassendi discovered a drug which a shepherd used to 
take whenever he wished to go to a witches' assembly. 
He won the man's confidence, and, pretending to join 


him in his journey, persuaded him to swallow the 
medicine in his presence. After a few minutes, the 
shepherd began to stagger like an intoxicated person, 
and then fell into profound sleep, during which he 
talked wildly. When he roused himself again many 
hours afterwards, he congratulated the physician on 
the good reception he had met at Satan's court, and 
recalled with delight the pleasant things they had 
jointly seen and enjoyed ! The symptoms of the 
witches' sleep differ, however; while the latter is, in 
some cases, deep and unbroken, in other cases the 
sleepers become rigid and icy cold, or they are subject 
to violent spasms and utter unnatural sounds in 
abundance. The sleep differs, moreover, from that of 
possessed people in the consciousness of bodily pain 
which bewitched people retain, while the possessed 
become insensible. Invariably the impression is pro- 
duced that they meet kindred spirits at some great 
assembly, but the manner of reaching it differs greatly. 
Some go on foot ; but as Abaris already rode on a spear 
given to him by Apollo (Iamblichus De Yita, Pyth. c. 
18), others ride on goats. In Germany a broomstick, 
a club, or a distaff, became suitable vehicles, provided 
they had been properly anointed. In Scotland and 
Sweden the chimney is the favorite road, in other 
countries no such preference is shown over doors and 
windows. The expedition, however joyous it may be, 
is always very fatiguing, and when the revellers awake 
they feel like people who have been dissipated. The 


meetings differ in locality according to size: whole 
provinces assemble on high, isolated mountains, among 
which the Brocken, in the Hartz Mountains, is by far 
the most renowned; smaller companies meet near 
gloomy churches or under dark trees with wide-spread- 
ing branches. 

In the north of Europe the favorite resort is the Blue 
Mountain, popularly known as Blokulla, in Sweden, 
and as Blakalla in Norway, an isolated rock in the sea 
between Smoland and Oland, which seems to haye had 
some association in the minds of the people with the 
ancient sea-goddess Blakylle. In Italy the witches 
loved to assemble under the famous walnut tree near 
Benevent, which was already to the Longobards an ob- 
ject of superstitious veneration, since here, in ancient 
times, the old divinities were worshipped, and after- 
wards the striglie were fond of meeting. In France 
they had a favorite resort on the Puy de Dome, near 
Clermont, and in Spain on the sands near Seville, 
where the hechizeras held their sabbaths. The Hekla, 
of Iceland, also passes with the Scandinavians for a 
great meeting-place of witches, although, strangely 
enough, the inhabitants of the island have no such tra- 
dition. It is, however, clear that in all countries where 
witchcraft prospered, the favorite places of meeting 
were always the same as those to which, in ancient 
times, the heathens had made pilgrimages in large 
numbers, in order to perform their sacrifices, and to 
enjoy their merry-makings. 


In precisely the same manner the favorite seasons for 
these ghastly meetings correspond almost invariably 
with the times of high festivals held in heathen days, 
and hence, they were generally adopted by the early 
Christians, with the feast and saints' days of Christen- 
dom. Thns the old Germans observed, when they 
were still pagans, the first of May for two reasons : as a 
day of solemn judgment, and as a season for rejoicing, 
during which prince and peasant joined in celebrating 
the return of summer with merry songs and gay dances 
around the May-pole. The witches were nothing loth 
to adopt the day for their own festivities also, and 
added it to the holidays of St. John the Baptist and St. 
Bartholomew, on which, in like manner, anciently the 
holding of public courts had brought together large 
assemblies. The meetings, however, must always fall 
upon a Thursday, from a determined, though yet unex- 
plained association of witchcraft with the old German 
god of thunder, Donar, who was worshipped on the 
Blocksberg, and to whom a goat was sacrificed — whence 
also the peculiar fondness of witches for that animal. 
The hours of meeting are invariably from eleven o'clock 
at night to one or two in the morning. 

The assembly consists, according to circumstances, 
of a few hundred or of several thousands, but the 
female sex always largely prevailes. For this fact 
the famous text-book of judges of witchcraft, the 
Malleus, assigned not less than four weighty reasons. 
Women, it said, are more apt to be addicted to the fear- 


ful crime than men because, in the first place, they are 
more credulous; secondly, in their natural weakness 
they are more susceptible ; thirdly, they are more im- 
prudent and rash, and hence always ready to consult 
the Devil, and fourthly and mainly, femina comes from 
/<?, faith and minus, less, hence they have less faith ! 

The guests appear generally in their natural form, 
but at times they are represented as assuming the shape 
of various animals; the Devil's followers having a decid- 
ed preference for goats and for monkeys, although the 
latter is a passion of more recent date. The crowd is 
naturally in a state of incessant flowing and ebbing; 
the constant coming and going, crowding and pressing 
admits of not a moment's quiet and even here it is 
proven that the wicked have neither rest nor peace. 

Among this crowd flocks are seen, consisting of toads 
and watched over by boys and girls ; in the centre sits 
Satan on a stone, draped in weird majesty, with terrible 
but indistinct features, and uttering short commands 
with an appalling voice of unnatural and unheard of 
music. A queen in great splendor may sit by his side, 
promoted to the throne from a place among the guests. 
Countless demons, attending to all kinds of extraordin- 
ary duties, surround their master; or, dash through 
the crowd scattering indecent words and gestures in all 
directions. English witches meet, also, innumerable 
kittens on the Sabbath and show the scars of wounds 
inflicted by the malicious animals. Every visitor must 
pay his homage to the ltrd of the feast, which is done 


in an unmentionable manner; and yet they receive 
nothing in return — according to their nnanimons con- 
fessions — except unfulfilled promises and delusive 
presents. Even the dishes on the table are but shams; 
there is neither salt nor bread to be found there. They 
are bound, besides, to pledge themselves to the per- 
formance of a certain number of wicked works, which 
are distributed over the week, so that the first days are 
devoted to ordinary sins and the last to crimes of 
special horror. Music of surpassing weir dn ess is heard 
on all sides, and countless couples whirl about in rest- 
less, obscene dances; the couples joining back to back 
and trying in vain to see each other's faces. Very often 
young children are brought up by their mothers to be 
presented to the Master ; when this is done, they are 
set to attend the flocks of toads till the ninth year, 
when they are called up by the Queen to abjure their 
Christian faith and are regularly enrolled among 

The descriptions of minor details vary, of course 
according to the individual dispositions of the accused, 
whose confessions are invariably uniform as to the facts 
stated heretofore. The coarser minds naturally see 
nothing but the grossest indecency and the vilest indul- 
gences, while to more refined minds the apparent occur- 
rences appear in a light of greater delicacy ; they hear 
sweet music and witness nothing but gentle affection 
and brotherly love. But in all cases these witches' 
sabbaths become a passion with the poor deluded 


creatures; they enjoy there a paradise of delight, — 
whether they really indulge in sensual pleasure or 
surrender mind and will so completely to the unhal- 
lowed power that they cease to wish for anything else, 
and are plunged in vague, unspeakable pleasure. And 
yet not even the simple satisfaction of good looks is 
granted them; witches are as ugly as angels are fair; 
they emit an evil odor and inspire others with uncon- 
querable repugnance. 

How exclusively all these descriptions of witches' 
sabbaths have their origin in the imagination of the 
deluded women is seen from the fact that they vary 
consistently with the prevailing notions of those by 
whom they are entertained; with coarse peasants, the 
meetings are rude feasts full of obscene enjoyments ; 
with noble knights, they become the rovings of the 
wild huntsman, or a hellish court under the guise of a 
Venus' mountain ; with ascetic monks and nuns, a sub- 
terranean convent filled with vile blasphemies of God 
and the saints. This only is common to all such 
visions, that they are always conceived in a spirit of 
bitter antagonism to the Church : all the doctrines not 
only but also the ceremonies of the latter are here 
travestied. The sabbath has its masses, but the host is 
desecrated, its holy water obtained from the lord of the 
feast; its host and its candles are black, and the Ite 
missa est of the dismissing priest is changed into : " Go 
to the Devil ! " Here, also, confession is required ; but, 
the penitent confesses having omitted to do evil and 


being guilty of occasional acts of mercy and goodness ; 
the penalty imposed is to neglect one or the other of 
the twelve commandments. 

When witches were brought to trial, one of the first 
measures was to search for special marks which were 
believed to betray their true character. These were 
especially the so-called witches' moles, spots of the size 
of a pea, on which for some reason or other the nerves 
had lost their sensibility, and where, in consequence, no 
pain was" felt. These were supposed to have been 
formed by being punctured, the Evil One performing 
the operation with a pin of false gold, with his claws or 
his horns. Other evidences were found in the peculiar 
coloring of the eyes, which was said to represent the 
feet of toads ; in the absence of tears when the little 
gland had been injured, and, above all, in the specific 
lightness of the body. In order to ascertain the latter 
the accused were bound hand and foot crosswise, tied 
loosely to a rope, and then, three times, dropped into 
the water. If they remained floating their guilt was 
established ; for either they had been endowed by their 
Master with safety from drowning, or the water refused 
to receive them because they had abjured their baptism ! 
It need not be added that the executioners soon found 
out ways to let their prisoners float or sink as they 
chose — for a consideration. 

Witches' trials began in the earliest days of Chris- 
tianity, for the Emperor Valens ordered, as we 
learn from Ammianus Marcellinus, all the wiz- 


ards and enchanters to be held to account who had 
endeavored by magic art to ascertain his successor. 
Several thousands were accused of witchcraft, but the 
charge was then, as in almost every later age, in most 
cases nothing more than a pretext for proceedings 
against obnoxious persons. The next monster pro- 
cess, as it began to be called already in those early 
days, was the persecution of witches in France under 
the Merovingians. The child of Chilperic's wife had 
died suddenly and under suspicious circum stances, 
which led to the imprisonment of a prefect, Mummo- 
lus, whom the queen had long pursued with her 
hatred. He was accused of having caused her son's 
death by his charms, and was subjected to fearful 
tortures in company with a number of old women. 
Still, he confessed nothing but that the latter had 
furnished him with certain drugs and ointments 
which were to secure to him the favor of the king 
and the queen. A later trial of this kind, in which 
for a time calm reason made a firm stand against 
superstition, but finally succumbed ingloriously, is 
known as the Vaudoisie, and took place in Arras 
in 1459. It was begun by a Count d'Estampes, but 
was mainly conducted by a bishop and some eminent 
divines of his acquaintance, whose inordinate zeal 
and merciless cruelty have secured to the proceedings 
a peculiarly painful memory in the annals of the 
church. A large number of perfectly innocent men 
and women were tortured and disgracefully executed, 


but fortunately the death of the main persecutor, 
DuBlois, made a sudden end to the existence of witch- 
craft in that province. One of the most remarkable 
trials of this kind was caused by a number of little 
children, and led to most bloody proceedings. It 
seems that in the year 1669 several boys and girls in 
the parish of Mote, one of the most beautiful parts 
of the Swedish province of Palarne, and famous 
through the memory of Gustavus Yasa and G-ustavus 
III., were affected by a nervous fever which left them, 
after their partial recovery, in a state of extreme 
irritability and sensitiveness. They fell into fainting 
fits and had convulsions — symptoms which the sim- 
ple but superstitious mountaineers gradually began 
to think inexplicable, and hence to ascribe to magic 
influences. The report spread that the poor chil- 
dren were bewitched, and soon all the usual details 
of satanic possession were current. The mountain 
called Blakulla, in bad repute from of old, was 
pointed out as the meeting-place of the witches, 
where the annual sabbath was celebrated, and these 
children were devoted to Satan. Church and State 
combined to bring their great power to bear upon the 
poor little ones., an enormous number of women, 
mostly the mothers of the young people, were involved 
in the charges, and finally fifty-two of the latter with 
fifteen children were publicly executed as witches, 
while fifty of the younger were condemned to severe 
punishment! More than three hundred unfortunate 


children under fourteen had made detailed confes- 
sions of the witches' sabbath and the ceremonies 
attending their initiation into its mysteries. A sim- 
ilar fearful delusion took hold of German children in 
Wurtemberg, when towards the end of the seventeenth 
century a large number of little boys and girls, none 
of whom were older than ten years, began to state 
that they were every night fetched away and carried 
to the witches' sabbath. Many were all the time fast 
asleep and could easily be roused, but a few among 
them fell regularly into a trance, during which their 
little bodies became cold and rigid. A commission 
of great judges and experienced divines was sent to 
the village to investigate the matter, and found at 
last that there was no imposture attempted, but that 
the poor children firmly believed what they stated. 
It became, however, evident that a few among them 
had listened to old women's tales about witches, with 
eager ears, and, with inflamed imaginations, retailed 
the account to others, till a deep and painful ner- 
vous excitement took hold of their minds and 
rapidly spread through the community. Many of 
the children were, as was natural at their age, led 
by vanity to say that they also had been at the sab- 
bath, while others were afraid to deny what was so 
positively stated by their companions. Fortunately 
the commission consisted, for once, of sensible men 
who took the right view of the matter, ordered a 


good whipping here and there, and thus saved the 
land from the crime of another witches' trial. 

Our own experiences in New England, at the time 
when Sir William Phipps was governor of the colonies, 
have been forcibly reported by the great Cotton 
Mather. Nearly every community had its young 
men and women who were addicted to the practices 
of magic ; they loved to perform enchantments, to 
consult sieves and turning keys, and thus were grad- 
ually led to attempt more serious and more danger- 
ous practices. In Salem, men and women of high 
standing and unimpeached integrity, even pious mem- 
bers of the church, were suddenly plagued and tor- 
tured by unknown agencies, and at last a little black 
and yellow demon appeared to them, accompanied 
by a number of companions with human faces. 
These apparitions presented to them, a book which 
they were summoned to sign or at least to touch, 
and if they refused they were fearfully twisted and 
turned about, pricked with pins, burnt as if with 
hot irons, bound hand and foot with invisible fetters, 
and carried away to great distances. Some were left 
unable to touch food or drink for many days ; others, 
attempting to defend themselves against the demons, 
snatched a distaff or tore a piece of cloth from them, 
and immediately these proofs of the real existence 
of the evil spirits became visible to the eyes of the 
bystanders. The magic phenomena attending the 
disease were of the most extraordinarv character. 


Several men stated that they had received poison be- 
cause they declined to worship Satan, and imme- 
diately all the usual sequences of such treatment 
appeared, from simple vomiting to most fearful suf- 
fering, till counteracting remedies were employed 
and began to take effect. In other cases the sufferers 
complained of burning rags being stuffed into their 
mouths, and although nothing was seen, burnt 
places and blisters appeared, and the odor and smoke 
of smouldering rags began to fill the room. When 
they reported that they were branded with hot irons, 
the marks showed themselves, suppuration took 
place, and scars were formed which never again dis- 
appeared during life— and all these phenomena were 
watched by the eager eyes of hundreds. The author- 
ities, of course, took hold of the matter, and many 
persons of both sexes and all ages were brought to 
trial. While they were tortured they continued to 
have visions of demoniac beings and possessed men 
and women ; when they were standing, blindfold- 
ed, in court, felt the approach of those by whom 
they pretended to be bewitched and plagued, and 
urgently prayed to be delivered of their presence. 
Finally many were executed, not a few undoubtedly 
against all justice, but the better sense of the author- 
ities soon saw the futility, if not the wickedness of 
such proceedings, and an end was made promptly, 
witchcraft disappearing as soon as persecution relaxed 
and the sensation subsided. 


Similar trials have nevertheless continued to be held 
in various parts of Europe during the whole of the 
last century, and many innocent lives have been for- 
feited to this apparently ineradicable belief in witch- 
craft. Even after torture was abandoned in compli- 
ance with the wiser views of our age, long imprison- 
ment with its attending sufferings and great anxiety as 
to the issue, proved fully sufficient to extort voluntary 
confessions, which were, of course, of no value in them- 
selves, but served the purpose of keeping alive the 
popular superstition. In 1728 a specially fearful trial 
of this kind took place in Hungary, during which 
nearly all the disgraceful scenes of mediaeval barbarity 
were reenacted. and which ended in a number of cruel 
executions. The last witches' trial in Germany took 
place in 1749, when the mother-superior of a convent 
near vHirzhurg, in Bavaria, known as Emma Benata, 
was condemned to be burnt, but by the leniency of the 
authorities, was allowed to die by decapitation. Switz- 
erland was the scene of the last of these trials ever 
held, for with this act of justice, as it was called by the 
good people of G-larus. the persecution ended. 

Even in England, however, the feeling itself seems to 
have lingered long after actual trials had ceased. Thus 
it is well known that the terrible trial of witches held 
at Marlboro', under Queen Elizabeth, led to the estab- 
lishment of a so-called witches' sermon to be delivered 
annually at Huntingdon, and this custom was faith- 
fully observed down to the latter part of the eighteenth 


century. Nearly about the same time — in 1743 — an 
earnest effort was made in Scotland to kindle once 
more the fire of fierce persecution. In the month of 
February of that year, the Associate Presbytery, in a 
public document addressed to the Presbytery of the 
Seceded Churches, required for certain purposes a 
solemn acknowledgment of former sins, and a vow' to 
renounce them forever. Among these sins that austere 
body enumerated the "abolition of the death penalty 
for witchcraft," since the latter was forbidden in Holy 
Writ, and the leniency which had taken the place of 
the former severity in punishing this crime, had given 
an opening to Satan to tempt and actually to seduce 
others by means of the same old accursed and dangerous 
snares. — (Edirib. Rev., Jan. 1847.) 


" Peace ! — the charm 's wound up." — Macbeth. 

The most startling of all scenes described in Holy 
Writ — as far as they represent incidents in human life — 
is, no doubt, the mysterious interview between un- 
fortunate King Saul and the spirit of his former patron, 
the prophet Samuel. The poor monarch, abandoned 
by his friends and forsaken by his own heart, turns in 
his utter wretchedness to those whom he had but 
shortly before "put out of the land," those godless 
people who "had familiar spirits and the "wizards." 
Hard pressed by the ancient enemy of his people, the 
Philistine, and unable to obtain an answer from the 
great God of his fathers, he stoops to consult a witch, a 
woman. It seems that Sedecla, the daughter of the 
Decemdiabite — for so Philo calls her according to Des 
Mousseaux — had escaped by her cunning from the fate 
of her weird sisters, and, having a familiar spirit, fore- 
told the future to curious enquirers at her dwelling in 
Endor. At first she is unwilling to incur the penalty 
threatened in the king's decree, but when the disguised 
monarch, with a voice of authority promises her im- 
punity, she consents to " bring up Samuel." As soon 


as the fearful phantom of the dread prophet appears, 
she becomes instinctively aware of the true character 
of her visitor, and, far more afraid of the power of the 
living than of the appearance of the departed, she cries 
out trembling : "Why hast thou deceived me? Thou 
art Saul ! " Then follows the appalling scene in which 
Samuel reproves the miserable, self-despairing king, 
and foretells his death and that of his sons. 

There can be no doubt that we have here before us 
an instance of genuine magic. The woman was evi- 
dently capable of casting herself into a state of ecstasy, 
in which she could at once look back into the past and 
forward into the future. Thus she beholds the great 
prophet, not sent by God from on high, as the Holy 
Fathers generally taught, but according to the then 
prevailing belief, rising from Sheol, the place of de- 
parted spirits, and then she utters, unconsciously, his 
own words. For it must not be overlooked that Samuel 
makes no revelations, but only repeats his former 
warnings. Saul learns absolutely nothing new from 
him; he only hears the same threatenings which the 
prophet had pronounced twice before, when the reck- 
less king had dared to sacrifice unto God with his own 
hand (I. Sam. xiii.), and when he had failed to smite 
the Amalekite, as he was bidden. Possessed, as it 
were, by the spirit of the living Samuel, the woman 
speaks as he had spoken in- his lifetime, and it is only 
when her state of exaltation renders her capable of 
looking into the future also, that she assumes the part 


of a prophetess herself, and foretells the approaching 
doom of her royal visitor. 

That the whole dread scene was fore-ordained and 
could take place only by the will of the Almighty, 
alters nothing in the character of the woman with the 
familiar spirit. It is a clear case of necromancy, or 
conjuring up of the spirits of departed persons, such as 
has been practised among men from time immemorial. 
Among the chosen people of G-od persons were found 
from the beginning of their history who had familiar 
spirits, and Moses already fulminates his severest ana- 
themas against these wizards (Lev. xx. 27). They ap- 
pear under various aspects, as charmers, as con suiters 
of familiar spirits, as wizards, or as necromancers 
(Deut. xviii. 11) ; they are charged with passing their 
children through the fire, with observing times (astro- 
logers) ; with using enchantments ; or they are said in 
a general way to "use witchcraft "' (II. Chron. xxxiii. 6). 
That other nations were not less familiar with the art 
of evoking spirits, we see, for instance, in the "Odyssey/*' 
which mentions numerous cases- of such intercourse 
with another world, and speaks of necromancers as 
forming a kind of close guild. In the " Persius " of 
iEschylus the spirit of Darius, father of Xerxes, is 
called up and foretells all the misfortunes that are to 
befall poor Queen Atossa. The greatest among the 
stern Romans could not entirely shake off the belief in 
such magic, in spite of the matter-of-fact tendencies of 
the Roman mind, and the vast superiority of their in- 


telligence. A Cato and a Sylla, a Caesar and a Ves- 
pasian, all admitted, with clear unfailing perception, 
the small grains of truth that lay concealed among the 
mass of rubbish then called magic. Even Christian 
theology has neyer absolutely denied the existence of 
such extraordinary powers over the spirits of the de- 
parted, although it has consistently attributed them to 
diabolic influences. 

In this point lies the main difference between ancient 
and modern magic. For the oldest Magi whom we 
know were the wise men of Persia, called, from mah 
(great), Mugh, the great men of the land. They were 
the philosophers of their day, and, if we believe the 
impartial evidence of Greek writers — not generally apt 
to overestimate the merits of other nations — they were 
possessed of vast and varied information. Their aim 
was the loftiest ever conceived by human ambition ; it- 
was, in fact, nothing less than the erection of an intel- 
lectual Tower of Babel. They devoted the labors of a 
lifetime, and the full, well-trained vigor of their intel- 
ligence to the study of the forces of nature, and the 
true character of all created beings. Among the latter 
they included disembodied spirits as well as those still 
bound up with bodies made of earth, considering with 
a wisdom and boldness of conception never yet sur- 
passed, both classes as one and the same eternal crea- 
tion. The knowledge thus acquired they were, more- 
over, not disposed merely to store away in their 
memory, or to record in unattractive manuscripts; 


they were men of the world as well as philosophers, 
and looked for practical results. Here the pagan spirit 
shone forth unrestrained; the end and aim of all their 
restless labors was Power. Their ambition was to con- 
trol, by the superior prestige of their knowledge, not 
only the mechanical forces of Nature, but also the 
lesser capacities of other created beings, and finally 
Fate itself ! Truly a lofty and noble aim if we view it, 
as in equity we are bound to do, from their stand-point, 
as men possessing, with all the wisdom of the earth, as 
yet not a particle of revealed religion. 

It was only at a much later period that a distinction 
was made between White Magic and Black Magic. 
This arose from the error which gradually overspread 
the minds of men, that such extraordinary powers — 
based, originally, only upon extraordinary knowledge — 
were not naturally given to men ; but, could only be 
obtained by the special favor of higher beings, with 
whom the owner must needs enter into a perilous 
league. If these were benevolent deities, the results 
obtained by their assistance were called White Magic; 
if they were gods of ill-repute, they granted the power 
to perform feats of Black Magic, acts of wickedness, 
and crimes. Christianity, though it abolished the gods 
of paganism, maintained, nevertheless, the belief in ex- 
traordinary powers accorded by supernatural beings, 
and the same distinction continued to be made. Pious 
men and women performed miracles by the aid of 
angels and saints; wicked sinners did as much by an 


unholy league with the Evil One. The Egyptian 
charmer, of Apulejus, who declared that no miracle 
was too difficult for his art, since he exercised the blind 
power of deities who were subject to his' will, only 
expressed what the lazzarone of Naples feels in our 
day, when he whips his saint with a bundle of reeds, in 
order to compel him to do his bidding. Magicians did 
not change their doctrine ; they hardly even modified 
their ceremonies ; their allegiance only was transferred 
from Jupiter to Jehovah, even as the same column that 
once bore the great Thunderer on Olympus, is now 
crowned by a statue of Peter Boanerges. Nor has the 
race of magicians ever entirely died out; we find 
enough notices in classic authors, whose evidence is un- 
impeachable, to know that the Greeks were apt scholars 
of the ancient Magi and transferred the knowledge 
they had thus obtained and long jealously guarded, to 
the priests of Egypt, who in their turn became the 
masters of the two mightiest nations on earth. First 
Moses sat at their feet till, at the age of forty, he " was 
learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," and could 
successfully cope with their "magicians and sorcerers." 
Then the land of the Nile fell into the hands of the 
Romans, and poverty and neglect drove the wise men 
of Egypt to seek refuge in the capital of the world, 
where they either lived upon the minor arts and cun- 
ning tricks of their false fate, or, being converted to 
Christianity, infected the pure faith with their ill- 
applied knowledge. Certain portions of true magic 


survived through all persecutions and revolutions; 
some precious secrets were preserved by the philosophers 
of later ages and have — if we believe the statements 
made by trustworthy writers of every century — ever 
since continued in the possession of Freemasons and 
Rosicrucians ; others became mixed up with vile super- 
stitions and impious practices, and only exist now as 
the Black Art of so-called magicians and witches. 

Wherever magic found a fertile soil among the peo- 
ple, it became a science, handed down from father to 
son, and such we find it still in the East Indies and the 
Orient generally ; when it Ml into the hands of skeptics, 
or weak, feeble-minded men, it degenerated with amaz- 
ing speed into imposture and common jugglery. What 
is evident about magic is the well-established fact 
that its ceremonies, forms, and all other accessories 
are almost infinite in variety since they are merely 
accidental vehicles for the will of man, and real magi- 
cians know very well that the importance of such 
external aids is not only overrated but altogether falla- 
cious. The sole purpose of the burning of perfumes, 
of imposing ceremonies and awe-inspiring procedures, 
is to aid in producing the two conditions which are 
indispensable for all magic phenomena : the magician 
must be excited till his condition is one resembling 
mental intoxication or becomes a genuine trance, and 
the passive subject must be made susceptible to the 
control of the superior mind. For it need not be 
added, that the latter will all the more readily be 


affected, the feebler his will and the more imperfect his 
mental yision may be by nature or may have been 
rendered by training and careful preparation. Hence 
it is that the magic table of the dervish ; the enchanted 
drum of the shaman ; the medicine-bag of the Indian 
are all used for precisely the same purpose as the ring 
of Hecate ; the divining rod and the magic wand of the 
enchanter. Legend and amulet, mummy and wax- 
figure, herb and stone, drug and elixir, incense and 
ointment, are all but the means, which the strong will 
of the gifted Master uses in order to influence and 
finally to control the weaker mind. Thus powerful 
perfumes, narcotic odors, and anaesthetic salves are em- 
ployed to produce enervation and often actual and com- 
plete loss of self-control; in other cases the neophyte 
has to turn round and round within the magic circle, 
from east to west, till he becomes giddy and utterly 
exhausted. It is very curious to observe how, as far as 
these preparations go, in the most distant countries and 
among the most different forms of society the same 
means are employed for the same purpose: the whirling 
dance of the fanatic dervish is perfectly analogous to 
the wild raving of our Indian medicine-man, who ties 
himself with a rope to a post and then whirls around ifc 
in fierce fury. Thus, also, the oldest magicians speak 
with profound reverence of the powers of a little herb, 
known to botanists as Hypericum perforatum L., and 
behold! in the year 1860 a German author of eminence, 
Justinus Kerner, still taught seriously, that the leaves 


of that plant were the best means to banish eyil spirits! 
Mandrake and elder have held their own in the false 
faith of nations from the oldest times to our day, and 
even now Germans as well as slaves love to plant the 
latter everywhere in their graveyards, as suggestive of 
the realm of spirits ! 

White Magic, though strictly forbidden by the 
Church in all ages, seems nevertheless to have had 
irresistible attractions for wise and learned men of every 
country. This charm it owes to the many elements of 
truth which are mixed up with the final error; for it 
aims at a thorough understanding of the mysteries of 
Nature — and so far its purpose is legitimate and very 
tempting to. superior minds — but only in order to 
obtain by such knowledge a power which Holy Writ 
expressly denies to man. When it prescribes the study 
of Nature as being the outer temple of God and repre- 
sents all the parts of this vast edifice, from the central 
sun of the universe to the minutest living creation, as 
bound up by a common sympathy, no objection can be 
made to its doctrines, and even the greatest minds may 
fairly enroll themselves here as its pupils. But when it 
ascribes to this sympathy an active power and attributes 
to secret names of the Deity, to certain natural products, 
or to mechanically regulated combinations of the stars, 
a peculiar and supernatural effect, it sinks into con- 
temptible superstition. Hence the constant aim of all 
White Magic, the successful summoning of superior 
spirits for the purpose of learning from them what is 


purposely kept concealed from the mind of man, has 
never yet been reached. For it is sin, the same sin that 
craved to eat from the tree of knowledge. Hence, also, 
no beneficial end has ever yet been obtained by the 
practices of magic, although wise and learned men of 
every age have spent their lives and risked the salvation 
of their souls in restless efforts to lift the veil of Isis. 

Black Magic, the Kishuph of the Hebrews, avows 
openly its purpose of forming a league with evil 
spirits in order to attain selfish ends, which are inva- 
riably fatal to others. And yet it is exactly here that 
we meet with great numbers of well-authenticated 
cases of success, which preclude all donbt and force 
us to admit the occasional efficiency of such sinful 
alliances. The art flourishes naturally best among 
the lowest races of mankind, where gross ignorance 
is allied with blind faith, and the absence of inspira- 
tion leaves the mind in natural darkness. "We cannot 
help being struck here also with the fact that the 
means employed for such purposes have been the same 
in almost all ages. Readers of classic writers are 
familiar with the drum of Cybele — the Laplanders 
have from time immemorial had the same drum, on 
which heaven, hell, and earth are painted in bright 
colors, and reproduce in pictorial writing the letters 
of the modern spiritualist. A ring is placed upon 
the tightly stretched skin, which slight blows with 
a hammer cause to vibrate, and according to the 
apparently erratic motions of the ring over the varied 


figures of gods, men, and beasts, the future is re- 
vealed. The consulting savage lies on his knees, and 
as the pendulum between our fingers and the pencil 
of Planchette in our hand write apparently at hap- 
hazard, but in reality under 'the pressure of our mus- 
cles acting through the unconscious influence of our 
will, so here also the beats of the hammer only seem 
to be fortuitous, but, in reality, are guided by the 
ecstatic owner. For already Olaf Magnus ("Hist. 
Goth." L. 3, ch. 26) tells us that the incessant beating 
of the drum, and the wild, exulting singing of the 
magician for hours before the actual ceremony begins, 
cause him to fall into a state of exaltation, without 
which he would be unable to see the future. That 
the drum is a mere accident in the ceremony was 
strikingly proved by a Laplander, who delivered up 
his instrument of witchcraft to the pious missionary 
(Tornaeus) by whom he had been Converted, and 
who soon came to complain that even without his 
drum he could not help seeing hidden things — an 
assertion which he proved by reciting to the amazed 
minister all the minute details of his recent journey. 
Who can help, while reading of these savage magi- 
cians, recalling the familiar ring and drumstick in the 
left hand of the Koman Isis — statues with a drum 
above the head, or the rarely missing ring and ham- 
mer in the hands of the Egyptian Isis ? It need 
hardly be added that the Indians of our continent 
have practised the art with more or less success from 


the day of discovery to our own times. Already 
"Wafer in his "Descr. of the Isthmus of Darien" (1699) 
describes how Indian sorcerers, after careful prepara- 
tion, were able to inform him of a number of future 
events, every one of which came to pass in the suc- 
ceeding days. The prince of Neu-Wied again met 
a famous medicine-man among the Crea Indians, 
whose prophecies were readily accepted by the whites 
even, and of whose power he witnessed unmistakable 
evidence. Bon duel, a well-known and generally per- 
fectly trustworthy writer, affirms, from personal knowl- 
edge, that among the Menomonees the medicine-men 
not only practise magic, but are able to produce most 
astounding results. After beating their drum, Bonduel 
used to hear a heavy fall and a faint, inarticulate 
voice, whereupon the tent of the charmer though 
fifteen feet high, rose in the air and inclined first on 
one and then on the other side. This was the time of 
the interview between the medicine-man and the 
evil spirit. Small doll-like figures of men also were 
used, barely two inches long, and tied to medicine- 
bags. They served mainly to inflame women with 
loving ardor, and when efficient could drive the poor 
creatures to pursue their beloved for days and nights 
through the wild forests. Other missionaries also 
affirm that these medicine-men must have been able 
to read the signs and perhaps to feel in advance the 
effects of the weather with amazing accuracy, since 
they frequently engaged to procure storms for special 


purposes, and never failed. It is interesting to notice 
that according to the unanimous testimony of all 
writers on Indian affairs, these medicine-men almost 
invariably find a violent and wretched death. y~ 

It is not without interest to recall that the prevailing 
forms of the magic of our day, as far as they consist of 
table-moving, spirit-rapping, and the like, have their 
origin among the natives of our continent. The 
earliest notice of these strange performances appeared 
in the great journal of Augsburg, in G-ermany (Allge- 
meine Zeitung), where Andree mentioned their occur- 
rence among Western Indians. Sargent gave us next 
a more detailed description of the manner in which 
many a wigwam or log-cabin in Iowa became the scene 
of startling revelations by means of a clumsy table 
which hopped merrily about, or a half-drunk, red- 
skinned medium, from whose lips fell uncouth words. 
(Spicer, "Lights and Sounds," p. 190.) It was only in 
1847 that the famous Fox family brought these phenom- 
ena within the pale of civilization : having rented a 
house in Hydeville, N. Y., already ill-reputed on account 
of mysterious noises, they reduced these knockings to a 
kind of system, and, by means of an alphabet, obtained 
the important information that they were the work of 
a " spirit," and that his name was Charles Bay. Mar- 
garet Fox transplanted the rappings to Eochester ; 
Catherine, only twelve years old, to Auburn, and from 
these two central places the new Magic spread rapidly 
throughout the Union. Opposition and persecutions 


served, as they are apt to do, only to increase the 
interest of the public. A Mrs. Norman Culver proved, 
it is true, that rappings could easily be produced by 
certain muscular movements of the knee and the 
ankle, and a committee of investigation, of which 
Fenimore Cooper was a member, obtained ample evi- 
dence of. such a method being used; but the faith of 
the believers was not shaken. The moving of tables, 
especially, furnished to their minds new evidence of 
the actual presence of spirits, and soon circles were 
established in nearly all the Northern and "Western 
States, formed by persons of education without regard 
to confession, who called themselves Spiritualists or 
Spiritists, and their most favored associates Media. 
A number of men, whose intelligence and candor were 
alike unimpeachable, became members of the new sect, 
among them a judge, a governor of a State, and a pro- 
fessor of chemistry. They organized societies and 
circles, they published journals and several works of 
interest and value, and produced results which more 
and more strengthened their convictions. 

The new art met, naturally, with much opposition, 
especially among the ministers and members of the 
different churches. Some of the opponents laughed at 
the whole as a clever jugglery, which deserved its great 
success on account of the "smartness" of the per- 
formers ; others denounced it as a heresy and a crime ; 
the former, of course, saw in it nothing but the hand 
of man, while the latter admitted the agency of spirits, 


but of spirits from below and not from above. An 
amusing feature connected with public opinion on this 
subject was, that when trade was prosperous and money 
abundant, spiritualism also flourished and found nu- 
merous adherents, but when business was slow, or a 
crisis took place, all minds turned away from the 
favorite pastime, and instinctively joined once more 
with the pious believers in the denunciation of the new 
magic. Thus a kind of antagonism has gradually 
arisen between orthodox Christians and enthusiastic 
spiritualists ; the controversy is carried on with great 
energy on both sides, and, alas! to the eye of the 
general observer, magic is gaining ground every day, 
at least its adherents increase steadily in numbers, and 
even in social weight. (Tuttle, "Arena of Nature.") 
Not long ago the National Convention of Spiritualists, 
at their great meeting at Eochester, N. Y. (August, 
1868), laid down nineteen fundamental principles of 
their new creed; their doctrines are based upon the 
fact that we are constantly surrounded by an invisible 
host of spirits, who desire to help us in returning once 
more to the father of all things, the Great Spirit. 

Modern magic met with the same opposition in 
Europe. The French Academy, claiming, as usually, 
to be supreme authority in all matters of science, 
declined, nevertheless, to decide the question. Arago, 
who read the official report before the august body, 
closed with the words : " I do not believe a word of it ! " 
but his colleagues remembered, perhaps, that their 


predecessors had once or twice before committed them- 
selves grievously. Had not the same Academy pro- 
nounced against the use of quinine and vaccination, 
against lightning-rods and steam-engines ? Had not 
Reaumur suppressed Peyssonel's "Essay on Corals/' 
because he thought it was madness to maintain their 
animal nature ; had not his learned brethren decreed, 
in 1802, that there were no meteors, although a short 
time later two thousand fell in one department alone ; 
and had they not, more recently still, received the news 
of ether being useful as an anaesthetic with scorn and 
unanimous condemnation ? Perhaps they recalled Dr. 
Hare's assertion that our own Society for the Advance- 
ment of Useful Knowledge had, in 1855, refused to 
hear a report on Spiritualism, preferring to discuss the 
important question : " Why do roosters always crow 
between midnight and one o'clock ? " At all events 
they heard the report and remained silent. In the 
same manner Alexander von Humboldt refused to 
examine the question. This indifference did not, how- 
ever, check the growth of Spiritualism in France, but 
its followers divided into two parties: spiritualists, 
under Rivail, who called himself Allan Cardec, and 
spiritists, under Pierard. The former died in 1869, 
after having seen his Livre cles Esprits reappear in 
fifteen editions; to seal his mission, he sent, imme- 
diately after his death, his spirit to inform his eager 
pupils, who crowded around the dead body of their 
leader, of his first impressions in the spirit world. If 


the style is the man (le style c'est Vhomme), no one 
could doubt that it was his spirit who spoke. 

Perhaps the most estimable high -priest of this 
branch of modern magic is a well known professor 
of Geneva, Boessinger, a physician of great renown 
and much beloved by all who know him. He is, how- 
ever, a rock of offense to American spiritualists, be- 
cause he has ever remained firmly attached to his 
religious faith, and admits no spiritual revelations as 
genuine which do not entirely harmonize with the doc- 
trines of Christ and the statements of the Bible. Un- 
fortunately this leads him to believe that his favorite 
medium, a young lady enjoying the mystic name of 
Libna, speaks under the direct inspiration of God 
himself! In England the new magic has not only 
numerous but also influential adherents, like Lord 
Lytton and the Darwinian Wallace; papers like the 
Star and journals like the Cornliill Magazine, support 
it with ability, and names like Home in former years 
and Newton in our day, who not only reveal secrets 
but actually heal the sick, have given a new prestige to 
the young science. The works of Howitt and Dr. 
Ashburner, of Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Crossland have 
treated the subject under various aspects, and in the 
year 1871, Crookes, a well-known chemist, investigated 
the phenomena of Home's revelations by means of an 
apparatus specially devised for the purpose. The re- 
sult was the conviction that if not spiritual, they were 
at least not produced by any power now known to sci- 
ence. — Quart. Journ. of Science, July, 1871. 


In Germany the new magic has been far less pop- 
ular than elsewhere, but, in return, it has been there 
most thoroughly investigated. Men of great eminence 
in science and in philosophy have published extensive 
works on the subject, which are, however, more re- 
markable for zeal and industry than for acute judg- 
ment. Gerster in Regensburg claimed to have invented 
the Psychography, but Szapary in Paris and Cohnfeld 
in Berlin discovered at the same time the curious in- 
strument known to us as Planchette. The most prac- 
tical measure taken in Germany for the purpose of 
ascertaining the truth was probably the formation of a 
society for spirit studies, which met for the first time 
in Dresden in 1869, and purposes to obtain an insight 
into those laws of nature which are reported to make 
it possible to hold direct and constant intercourse 
with the world of spirits. Here, as in the whole ten- 
dency of this branch of magic, we see the workings 
not merely of idle curiosity but of that ardent longing 
after a knowledge of the future and a certainty of per- 
sonal eternity, which dwells in the hearts of all men. 

The phenomena of modern magic were first imper- 
fect rappings against the wall, the legs of a table or a 
chair, accompanied by the motion of tables ; then 
followed spirit-writing by the aid of a psychograph or 
a simple pencil, and finally came direct " spirit-writ- 
ings," drawings by the media, together with musical 
and poetical inspirations, the whole reaching a climax 
in spirit-photographs. The ringing of bells, the danc- 


ing of detached hands in the air. the raising up of the 
entire body of a man, and musical performances with- 
out human aid were only accomplished in a few cases 
by specially favored individuals. Two facts alone are 
fully established in connection with all these phenom- 
ena : one, that some of the latter at least are not pro- 
duced by the ordinary forces of nature ; and the other, 
that the performers are generally, and the medium 
always, in a more or less complete state of trance. In 
this condition they forget themselves, give their mind 
up entirely into the hands of others — the media — and 
candidly believe they see and hear what they are told 
by the latter is taking place in their presence. Hence 
also the well-established fact that the spirits have 
never yet revealed a single secret, nor ever made 
known to us anything really new. Their style is in- 
variably the same as that in which ecstatic and som- 
nambulistic persons are apt to speak. A famous Ger- 
man spiritualist, Hornung, whose faith was well 
known, once laid his hands upon his planchette 
together with his wife, and then asked if there really 
was a world of spirits? To the utter astonishment 
of all present, the psychograph replied No ! and when 
questioned again and again, became troublesome. The 
fact was simply that the would-be magician's wife 
did not believe in spirits, and as hers was the stronger 
will, the answer came from her mind and not from her 
husband's. On the other hand, it cannot be denied 
that media — most frequently delicate women of high 


nervous sensibility, and almost always leading lives of 
constant and wearying excitement — become on such 
occasions wrought up to a degree which resembles 
somnambulism and may really enable them, occa- 
sionally, in a state of clairvoyance, to see what is hid- 
den to others. It is they who are " vitalized," as they 
call it, and not the knocking table, or the writing 
planchette, and hence arises the necessity of a medium 
for all such communications. That there are no 
spirits at work in these phenomena requires hardly to 
be stated; even the most ardent and enthusiastic ad- 
herents of the new magic cannot deny, that no orig- 
inal revelation concerning the world of spirits has yet 
been made, but that all that is told is but an echo of 
the more or less familiar views of men. It is far more 
interesting to notice, with Coleman, the electric and 
hygroscopic condition of the atmosphere, which has 
evidently much to do with such exhibitions. The 
visions of hands, arms, and heads, which move about 
in the air and may occasionally even be felt, are either 
mere hallucinations or real objective appearances, due 
to a peculiar condition of the air, and favorably inter- 
preted by the predisposed mind. Hence, also, our own 
continent is, for its superior dryness of atmosphere, 
much more favorable to the development of such phe- 
nomena than that of Europe. 

Spiritualists in the Old as in the New World are 
hopeful that the new magic will produce a new uni- 
versal religion, and a better social order. In this di- 


rection, however, no substantial success has yet been 
obtained. Outsiders had expected that at least an in- 
tercourse with departed spirits might be secured, and 
thus the immortality of man might be practically 
demonstrated. But this also has not yet been done. 
What then can we learn from modern magic ? Only 
this : that there are evidently forces in nature with 
whose character and precise intent we are not yet ac- 
quainted, and which yet deserve to be studied and 
carefully analyzed. Modern magic exhibits certain 
phenomena in man which are not subject to the known 
laws of nature, and thus proves that man possesses cer- 
tain powers which he fails or does not know how to 
exert in ordinary life. Where these powers appear in 
consequence of special preparation or an exceptional 
condition of mind, they are comparatively worthless, 
because they are in such cases merely the result of 
physical or mental disease, and we can hope to profit 
only by powers employed by sound men. But where 
these powers become manifest by spontaneous action, 
apparently as the result of special endowment, they de- 
serve careful study, and all the respect due to a new and 
unknown branch of knowledge. 

Nor must it be overlooked, that, although modern 
magic as a science is new, most of the phenomena upon 
which it is based, were well known to the oldest nations. 
The Chinese, who seem to have possessed all the knowl- 
edge of mankind, ages before it could be useful to them, 
or to others, and to have lost it as soon as there was a 


call for it, had, centuries ago, not only moving tables, 
but even writing spirits. Their modern planchette is a 
small board, which they let float upon the water, with the 
Jegs upward ; they rest their hands upon the latter, and 
watch the gyrations it makes in the water. Or they 
hold a small basket with a camel's-hair brush attached 
to one end suspended over a table upon which they 
have strewn a layer of flour; the brush begins to move 
through the flour and to draw characters in it, which 
they interpret according to their alphabet. The priests 
of Buddha in Mongolia, also, have long since employed 
moving tables, and for a good purpose, usually to detect 
thieves. The lama, who is appealed to for the purpose, 
sits down before a small four-legged table, upon which 
he rests his hands, whilst reading a book of devotion. 
After perhaps half an hour, he rises, and as he does so, 
holding his hand steadily upon the table, the table also 
rises and follows his hand, which he raises till hand 
and table are both level with his eyes. Then the priest 
advances, the table precedes him, and soon begins to 
move at such a rate that it seems to fly through the air, 
and the lama can hardly follow. Sometimes it falls 
down upon the very spot where the stolen, goods are 
hidden ; at other times it only indicates the direction in 
which they are to be sought for; and not unfrequently 
it refuses altogether to move, in which event the priest 
abandons the case as hopeless. (Nord. Biene, April 
27, 1853.) Here also it is evident that the table is not 
the controlling agent, but the will of the lama, whom 


it obeys by one of those mysterious powers which we call 
magic. It is the same force which acts in the divining 
rod, the pendulum, and similar phenomena. 

The name of Medium is an American invention, and 
is based upon the assumption that only a few favored 
persons are able to enter into direct communication with 
spirits, who may then convey the revelations they receive 
to others. They are generally children and young 
persons, but among grown men also certain constitutions 
seem to be better adapted to such purposes than others. 
In almost all cases it has been observed, that the elec- 
tric condition of the medium is a feature of greatest im- 
portance ; the more electricity he possesses, the better is 
he able to produce magic phenomena, and when his sup- 
ply is exhausted by a long session, his power also ceases. 
Hence, perhaps, the peculiar qualification of children; 
w T hile, on the other hand, the fact that they not unfre- 
quently are able to answer questions, in languages, of 
which they are ignorant, proves that they also do not 
themselves give the reply, but only receive it from the 
questioner, and state it as it exists in the mind of the 
latter. Hence, also, the utter absurdity of so-called spirit 
paintings, and, still worse, of poetical effusions like Mr. 
Harris' "Lyric of the Golden Age," in eleven thousand 
four hundred and thirty wretched verses. For what the 
" circle " does not know individually or collectively, the 
medium also is not able to produce. This truth is 
made still more evident by the latest phenomena de- 
veloped in spiritualistic circles, the so-called trance 


speaking, which may be heard occasionally in New York 
circles, and which requires no interposition of a me- 
dium. For here, also, we are struck by the utter ab- 
sence of usefulness in all these revelations ; the inspired 
believers speak, they recite poetry, but it remains liter- 
ally vox et prceterea nihil, and we are forcibly reminded 
of the words of iEschylus, who already said in his 
" Agamemnon " (v. 1127), 

" Did ever seers afford delight 
The long practised art of all the seers whom 
Ever the gods inspired, revealed 
Naught but horrors and a wretched fate." 

Among the media of our day, Home is naturally 
facile princeps. A Scotchman by birth, be claims that 
his mother already possessed the gift of Second Sight, 
and that in their home near Edinburgh similar endow- 
ments were frequent among their neighbors. At the 
age of three years he saw the death of a cousin, who 
lived in a distant town, and named the persons who 
were standing around her couch ; he conversed con- 
stantly in his childish way with spirits and heard heav- 
enly music; his cradle was rocked by invisible hands, 
and his toys came unaided into his hands. When ten 
years old he was taken to an aunt in America, in whose 
house he had no sooner been installed than chairs and 
tables, beds and utensils, began to move about in wild 
disorder, till the terrified lady sent the unlucky boy 
away. Attending once an exhibition of table-moving 
he fell into fits and suddenly became cataleptic; during 


the paroxysm he heard a summoning, then the spirits 
announced the wrecking of two sailors, the table began 
to rock as in a storm, the whistling of the wind through 
the tackle, the creaking of the vessel, and the dull, heavy 
thud of the waves against her bows, all were distinctly 
heard, and finally the table was upset, while the spirits 
announced the name and the age of the perishing 
seamen. From that day Home carefully cultivated his 
strange gifts, and developed what he considered a 
decided talent for reading the future. As a young man 
he returned to Europe and soon became famous. Flor- 
ence was, for a time, the principal stage of his successes; 
here he not only summoned the spirits of the departed, 
but was raised by invisible powers from the ground and 
hovered for some time above the heads of his visitors. 
The superstitious Italians finally became excited and 
threatened him with death, from which a Count Branichi 
saved him at great personal peril. In Naples the 
spirits suddenly declared their intention to leave him 
on February 10, 1856, and to remain absent for a whole 
year ; they did so, and during the interval Home 
enjoyed better health than ever in his life ! In Kome 
he became a Catholic, and good Pio Nono himself 
offered him his crucifix to kiss, with the words : " That 
is the only true magic wand!" — unfortunately this was 
not Home's view always ; at least we find him in 18G4 
in the same city in conflict with the papal police, who 
ordered him to cease all intercourse " with higher as 
well as with lower spirits," and finally compelled him to 


leave the Eternal City. He then claimed publicly, 
what, it must not be forgotten, he had consistently 
maintained from the beginning of his marvelous career, 
that he was the unwilling agent of higher powers, 
which affected him at irregular times, independent of 
his will, and often contrary to his dearest wishes. It 
must be added that he gave the strongest proof of his 
sincerity by never accepting from the public pecuniary 
compensation for the exhibition of peculiar powers. 

His exterior is winning; he is of medium height, 
light-haired and light-complexioned, of slender figure ; 
simple and well-bred in his manners, and of irreproach- 
able morale. The highest circles of society have always 
been open to him, and his marriage with a daughter of 
the Eussian general Stroll has given him wealth and an 
agreeable position in the world. As the spirits had 
predicted, they returned on the 10th of February, 1857, 
and announced themselves by repeated gentle knock- 
ings— in other words, Home's former nervous disease 
returned, and with it his exceptionable powers. He 
was then in Paris, and soon excited the attention of 
the fair but superstitious Empress, whose favor he 
speedily obtained by a revelation concerning the "Em- 
pereur de l'avenir," as the spirits had the gallantry to 
call her infant son. Napoleon also began to take an 
interest in the clever, talented man, whose special gifts 
did not prevent him from being a pliant courtier and a 
cunning observer. He showed himself grateful for the 
kindness with which Eugenie provided for his sister's 


education by exerting his powers to the utmost at the 
Tuileries, and by revealing to the Emperor the secrets 
he had skillfully elicited during his spiritual sessions, 
from statesmen and generals. At the house of Prince 
Murat he performed, perhaps, the most surprising feats 
he has ever accomplished : seated quietly in his arm- 
chair, he caused tables to whirl around, the clocks in 
two rooms to stand still or to go at will, all the bells in 
the house to ring together or separately, and handker- 
chiefs to escape irresistibly from the hands and the 
pockets of several persons, the Emperor included. Then 
the floor seemed to sink, all the doors of the house 
were slammed to and opened again, the gaslights be- 
came extinct, and when they as suddenly blazed up 
again, Home had disappeared without saying good-bye. 
The guests left the house quietly and in a state of 
great and painful excitement. At another exhibition 
in Prince Napoleon's house, a renowned juggler was 
present by invitation to watch Home, but he declared, 
soon, that there was no jugglery, such as he knew, in 
what he saw, and the meeting, during which the 
most startling phenomena were exhibited, ended by 
Home's falling into a state of fearful catalepsy. Per- 
haps nothing can speak more clearly of the deep in- 
terest felt in the modern magician by the highest in 
the land, than the fact that more than once private 
sessions were held at the Tuileries, at which, besides 
himself, the Emperor and the Empress, only one per- 
son was allowed to be present, the Duke of Monte- 


bello. It is said, though not by Home himself, that at 
one of these meetings the sad fate of the Empire was 
clearly predicted, and even the time of the Emperor's 
death ascertained. One achievement of modern magic 
in which Home is unique, is the raising of his body 
into the air; no other person having as yet even 
attempted the same exploit. He is lifted up in a hori- 
zontal position, sometimes only to a short distance 
from the floor, but not unfrequently, also, nearly to the 
ceiling; on one occasion, in Bordeaux, he remained 
thus suspended in the sight of several persons for five 
minutes. Another speciality of his, is the lengthening 
of his body. According to a statement deserving full 
credit ("Human Nature," Dec. 1868), he can, when in 
a state of trance, add four inches to his stature! 
Finally, he has been repeatedly seen passing in the air 
out of one window of the room in which his visitors 
were assembled, and returning through another win- 
dow, an exhibition which almost always ended in the 
complete exhaustion and apparent illness of the ma- 
gician. ^ 

Home himself maintains that he performs no mir- 
acles, and is not able to cause the laws of nature to be 
suspended for a moment, but that he is gifted with an 
exceptional power to employ faculties which he pos- 
sesses in common with all his brethren. In him they 
are active ; in the vast majority of men they lie dor- 
mant, because man is no longer conscious of the full 
and absolute control over Nature, with which he has 


been endowed by the Creator. He adds that it is faith 
alone, without the aid of spirits, which enables him to 
cause mysterious lights to be seen, or heavy pieces of 
furniture to move about in the air, and to produce 
strange sounds and peculiar visions in the mind of his 
friends. On the other hand, when he is lifted up into 
the air, or enabled to read the future, and to reveal what 
absent persons are doing at the moment, he professes 
to act as a willingless instrument of spirits, haying 
neither the power to provoke his ability to perform 
these feats, uor to lay it aside at will. Occasionally he 
professes to be conscious of an electric current, which 
he is able to produce at certain times and in a certain 
state of mind ; this emanation protects his body against 
influences fatal to others, and enables him, for instance, 
to hold live coals in his hand, and to thrust his whole 
head into the chimney fire. This " certain state of 
mind, 7 ' as he calls it, is simply a state of trance. Hence 
the extremely variable nature of his performances, and 
his great reluctance to appear as a magician at the re- 
quest of others. Xor is he himself always quite sure 
of his own condition ; thus, in the winter of 18T0, when 
he wished to exhibit some of the simplest phenomena 
in the presence of a number of savants in St. Peters- 
burg, he failed so completely in every effort, that the 
committee reported him virtually, though not in terms, 
an impostor. The same happened to him at a first 
examination held by Mr. Crookes, a well-known pro- 
fessor of chemistry, in company with Messrs. Cox and 


Huggins; they did not abandon their purpose, how- 
ever, and at the next meeting, when certain antipathic 
spectators were no longer present, Home displayed the 
most remarkable phenomena. The committee came to 
the conclusion that he was enabled to perform these 
feats by means of a new "psychic force," which it was 
all-important for men of science to investigate thor- 

The number of men and women who possess similar 
endowments, though generally in an inferior degree 
only, is very great, especially in the United States. 
Only one feature is common to them all — the state of 
trance in which they are enabled to produce such start- 
ling phenomena — in all other respects they differ widely, 
both as to the nature of their performances and as to 
their credibility. For, from the first appearance of 
media in spiritualistic circles, in fact, probably already 
in the exhibitions of the Fox family, delusion and 
willful deception have been mixed up with actual 
magic. Tables have been moved by clever legerde- 
main; spirit rappings have been produced by cunning 
efforts of muscles and sinews ; ventriloquists have used 
their art to cause extraordinary noises in the air, and 
Pepper's famous ghosts have shown the facility with 
which the eye may be deceived and the other senses be 
taken captive. The most successful deception was 
practised by the so-called Davenport Brothers, whose 
well-known exhibitions excited universal interest, as 
long as the impression lasted that they were the work 


of invisible spirits, while they became even more popu- 
lar and attractive when their true nature had been dis- 
covered, on account of the exquisite skill with which 
these juggling tricks were performed. 

The masters of physical science have amply proved 
that table-moving is a simple mechanical art. Faraday 
and Babinet already called attention to the fact that 
the smallest muscles of the human body can produce 
great effects, when judiciously employed, and cited, 
among other instances, the so-called Electric Girl, 
exhibited in Paris, who hurled a chair on which she 
had been sitting, by muscular power alone, to a great 
distance. The same feat, it is well-known, has been 
repeatedly accomplished by other persons also. Like 
muscular efforts are made — no doubt often quite un- 
consciously — by persons whose will acts energetically, 
and when several men co-operate the force of vibrations 
produced in a kind of rhythmical tact, becomes truly 
astounding. We need only remember, that the rolling 
of a heavily laden cart in the streets may shake a vast, 
well-built edifice from roof to cellar, and that the 
regular tramp of a detachment of men has more than 
once caused suspension bridges, of great and well-tried 
strength, to break and to bury hundreds of men under 
their ruins. Thus a few children and delicate women 
alone can, by an hour's steady work and undivided atten- 
tion, move tables of such weight that a number of 
strong men can lift them only with difficulty. The 
only really new force which has ever appeared in this 


branch of modern magic is the Od of Baron Reichen- 
bach ; its presence and efficacy cannot be denied, 
although the manner in which it operates is still a 
mystery. In the summer of 1861 the German baron 
found himself in a company of table-moyers at the 
house of Lord William Cowper, the son-in-law of Lord 
Palmerston. To prove his faith he crept under the 
heavy dining-table, resting with his full weight on one 
of the three solid feet and grasping the other two 
firmly with his hands. The wood began to emit low, 
electric sounds, then came louder noises as when furni- 
ture cracks in extremely dry weather, and finally the 
table began to move. Reichenbach did his best to pre- 
vent the movement, but the table rushed down the 
room, dragging the unlucky baron with it, to the 
intense amusement of all the persons present. The 
German savant maintains that this power, possessed 
only by the privileged few who are peculiarly sensitive, 
emanates from the tips of the fingers, becomes luminous 
in the dark, and acts like a lever upon all obstacles that 
come in its way. As the existence of Od is established 
beyond all doubt, and its effects are admitted by all who 
have studied the subject, we are forced to look upon it 
as at least one of the mysterious elements of modern 

The Od is, as far as we know, a magnetic force ; for 
as soon as certain persons are magnetized they become 
conscious of peculiar sensations, heat or cold, headache 
or other pains, and, if predisposed, of a startling increase 


of power in all their senses. They see lights of every 
kind, can distinguish even minute objects in a dark 
room, and behold beautiful white flames upon the poles 
of magnets. Reichenbach obtained, as he believed, two 
remarkable results from these first phenomena. He 
concluded that polar lights, aurora boreales, etc., 
were identical with the magnetic light of the earth, and 
he discovered that sensitive, sickly persons, who were 
peculiarly susceptible to magnetic influences, ought to 
lie with the head to the north, and the feet to the south 
in order to obtain refreshing sleep. The next step was 
an effort to identify the Od with animal magnetism; 
Eeichenbach found that cataleptic patients who per- 
ceived the presence of magnets with exquisite accuracy, 
and followed them like mesmerized persons, were affected 
alike by his own hands or those of other perfectly 
sound, but strongly magnetic men. He could attract 
such unfortunate persons by his outstretched fingers, 
and force them to follow him in a state of unconscious- 
ness wherever he led them. According to his theory, 
the two sides of man are of opposite electric nature and 
a magnetic current passes continually from one side to 
the other; sensitive persons though blind-folded, know 
perfectly well on which side they approach others. 

Gradually Baron Reichenbach extended the range of 
his experiments, employing for that purpose, besides his 
own daughter, especially a Miss Nowotny, a sad sufferer 
from cataleptic attacks. She was able to distinguish, 
by the sensations which were excited in her whole sys- 


tern, more than six hundred chemicals, and arranged 
them, under his guidance, according to their electro- 
chemical force. Another sick woman, Miss Maiss, felt 
a cool wind whenever certain substances were brought 
near her, and by these and similar efforts in which the 
baron was aided by many friends, he ascertained the 
fact, that there is in nature a force which passes through 
all substances, the human body included, and is inhe- 
rent in the whole material world. This force he calls 
the Od. Like electricity and magnetism, this Od is a 
polar force, and here also opposite poles attract, like 
poles repel each other. The whole subject, although as 
yet only in its infancy, is well deserving of careful study 
and thorough investigation. 

The manifestations of so-called spirits have naturally 
excited much attention, and given rise to the bitterest 
attacks. In England, especially, the learned world is all 
on one side and the Spiritualists all on the other ; nor do 
they hesitate to say very bitter things of each other. 
The. Saturday Revtetv, more forcibly than courteously, 
speaks of American spiritualists thus : " If this is the 
spirit world, and if this is spiritual intelligence, and if all 
the spirits can do, is to whisk about in dark rooms, 
and pinch people's legs under the table, and play ' Home, 
Sweet Home,' on the accordeon, and kiss folks in the 
dark, and paint baby pictures, and write such sentimen- 
tal, namby-pamby as Mr. Coleman copies out from their 
dictation — it is much better to be a respectable pig and 
accept annihilation than to be cursed with such an im- 


mortality as this." To which the Spiritual Magazine 
(Jan., 1862), does not hesitate to reply. "We shall not 
eat breakfast bacon for some time, for fear of getting a 
slice of the editor of the Saturday Review, in his 
self-sought appropriate metempsychosis." It must 
be borne in mind, however, that spiritualists every- 
where appeal to their own reason as the highest tribu- 
nal before which such questions can be decided, and 
to the laws of nature, because as they say, they are 
identical with the laws of practical reason. They 
believe, as a body, neither in angels nor in demons. 
Their spirits are simply the purified souls of de- 
parted men. Protestant theologians, who admit 
of no purgatory, see in these exhibitions nothing but 
the deeds of Satan. Catholic divines, on the other 
hand, and Protestant mystics, who, like the German, 
Schubert, believe that there exist what they curiously 
enough call a " more peaceful infernal spirit," ascribe 
them to the agency of evil spirits. In the great ma- 
jority of cases, however, the spirits have clearly shown 
themselves nothing else but the product of the media. 
The latter, invariably either of diseased mind by na- 
ture or over-excited for the occasion, believe they see 
and hear manifestations in the outer world, which in 
reality exist only in their own consciousness. A 
Catholic medium is thus visited by spirits from heaven 
and hell, while the Protestant medium never meets 
souls from purgatory. Nothing has ever been revealed 
concerning the future state of man, that was not al- 


ready well known upon earth. Most diverting are the 
jealousies of great spirits, of Solomon and Socrates, 
Moses and Plato — when the media happen to be jeal- 
ous of each other ! A somewhat satirical writer on 
the subject explains even the fact that spirits so often 
contradict each other and say vile things of sacred 
subjects, by the inner wickedness of the media, which 
comes to light on such occasions, while they carefully 
conceal it in ordinary life ! If these spirits are really 
the creations of the inner magic life, of which we are 
just learning to know the first elementary signs, then 
the powers which are hidden within us may well ter- 
rify us as they appear in such exhibitions, while we 
will not be surprised at the manner in which many an 
ordinary mortal appears here as a poet or a prophet — 
if not as a wicked demon. Nor must it be overlooked 
that our memory holds vast treasures of knowledge of 
which we are utterly unconscious until, under certain 
circumstances, one or the other fact suddenly reappears 
before our mind's eye. The very fact that we can, by a 
great effort and continued appeals to our memory, 
recall at last what was apparently utterly forgotten, 
proves the presence of such knowledge. A state of 
intense excitement, of fever or of trance, is peculiarly 
favorable to the recovery of such hidden treasures, and 
there can be no doubt that many a medium honestly 
believes to receive a new revelation, when only old, 
long forgotten facts return to his consciousness. Gen- 
erally however, we repeat, nothing is in the spirit that 


is not in the medium. The American spiritualist con- 
jures up only his own countrymen, and occasionally 
some world-renowned heroes like Napoleon or Caesar, 
Shakespeare or Schiller, while the cosmopolitan Ger- 
man receives visits from men of all countries. Finally 
it must be borne in mind that, according to an old 
proverb, we are ever ready to believe what we wish to 
see or hear, and hence the amazing credulity of the 
majority of spiritualists. Even skeptics are not free 
from the influence of this tendency. When Dr. Bell, 
the eminent physician of Somerville, Mass., investi- 
gated these phenomena of modern magic, many years 
ago, he promptly noticed that the spirits never gave in- 
formation which was not already in the possession of 
one or the other person present. Only in a few cases 
he acknowledged with his usual candor, and at once, 
at the meeting itself, that a true answer was returned. 
But when he examined, after his return home, these 
few exceptional revelations, he discovered that he had 
been mistaken, and that these answers had been after 
all as illusory as the others. 

There can be no doubt therefore, that modern magic, 
as far as it consists in table-moving and spirit-rapping, 
with their usual accompaniments, is neither the work 
of mechanical jugglery exclusively, nor, on the other 
hand, the result of revelations made by spirits. In the 
mass of accumulated evidence there remain however, 
after sifting it carefully, many facts which cannot be 
explained according to the ordinary course of nature. 


The power which produces these phenomena must be 
classified with other well-known powers given to man 
under exceptional circumstances, such as the safety of 
somnambulists in dangerous places; the cures per- 
formed by faith, and the strange exhibitions made by 
diseased persons, suffering of catalepsy and similar 
affections. If men, under the influence of mesmerism, 
in a state of ecstatic fervor, or under the pressure of 
strong and long-continued excitement, show powers 
which are not possessed by man naturally, then modern 
magic also may well be admitted as one of the means 
by which such extraordinary, and as yet unexplored 
forces are brought to light. All that can be reasonably 
asked of those who so peremptorily challenge our ad- 
miration, and demand our respect for the new science, 
is that it shall be proved to be useful to man, and this 
proof is, as yet, altogether wanting. 

In Mexico the preparation for acts of magic seems to 
have been downright intoxication; at least we learn 
from Acosta, in his Hist. nat. y moral cle los Indicts 
(lv.), that the priests, before sacrificing, inhaled power- 
ful perfumes, rubbed themselves with ointments made 
of venomous animals, tobacco and hempseed, and 
finally drank chica mixed with various drugs. Thus 
they reached a state of exaltation in which they not 
only butchered numbers of human beings in cold 
blood, and lost all fear of wild beasts, but were also 
able to reveal what was happening at a great distance, 
or even future events. We find similar practices, also, 


nearer home. The Indians of Martha's Vineyard had, 
before they were converted, their skillful magicians, 
who stood in league with evil spirits, and as pawaws 
discovered stolen things, injured men at a distance, and 
clearly foretold the Goming of the whites. The pious 
Brainert gives us full accounts of some of the converted 
Delawares, who, after "baptism, felt the evil spirit 
depart from them, and lost the power of magic. One, 
a great and wicked magician, deplored bitterly his 
former condition, when he was a slave of the evil one, 
and became, in the good missionary's words : " an 
humble, devout, hearty, and loving Christian." It is 
more difficult to explain the magic of the so-called 
Archbishop Beissel, the head of the brotherhood at 
Ephrata, in Pennsylvania, who, according to contem- 
porary authorities " oppressed by his magic the father 
and steward of the convent, Eckerling, to such a 
degree, that he left his brethren aud sought refuge in a 
hermit's hut in the forest! The spirits of departed 
brethren and sisters returned to the refectory at this 
bishop's bidding ; they partook of bread and meat, and 
even conversed with their successors. There can be no 
doubt that Beissel, abundantly and exceptionally gifted, 
possessed the power to put his unhappy subordinates, 
already exhausted by asceticism of every kind, into a 
state of ecstasy, in which they sincerely believed they 
saw these spirits, and were subjected to magic influ- 
ences. That such power has by no means entirely de- 
parted from our continent, maybe seen in the atrocities 



perpetrated at the command of the negroes' Obee, of 
which well-authenticated records aboilnd in Florida 
and Louisiana, as well as in Cuba. 

The Indo-Germanic race has known and practised 
black magic from time immemorial, and the Vend id ad 
already explains it as an act which Ahriman, the Evil 
Spirit, brought forth when overshadowed by death. In 
Egypt it flourished for ages, and has never become en- 
tirely extinct. Jannes and Jambres, who led the priests 
in their opposition to Moses (2. Tim. iii. 8), have their 
successors in our day, and the very miracles performed 
by these ancient charmers have been witnessed again 
and again by modern travelers. Holy Writ abounds 
with instances of every kind of magic ; it speaks of 
astrology, and prophesying from arrows, from the en- 
trails of animals, and from dreams; but, strangely 
enough, the charming of serpents and the evil eye are 
not mentioned, if we except Balaam. The Kabbalah, 
on the contrary, speaks more than once of the evil eye 
(ain hara), and all the southern nations of Europe, as 
well as the Slavic races, fear its weird power. 

The eye is, however, by no means employed only to 
work evil ; by the side of their mal occhio the Italians 
have another gift, called attrativa, which enables man, 
apparently by the force of his eye only, to draw to 
himself all whom he wishes to attract. The well-known 
Saint Filippo Neri thus not only won all whom he 
wished to gain over, by looking at them, but even dogs 
left their beloved masters and followed him everywhere. 


Cotton Mather tells us in his "Magnolia" that quakers 
frequently "by the eye only — though often, also, by 
anointing or breathing upon them — compelled others 
to accompany them, to join their communion, and to 
be in all things obedient to their bidding. Tom Case, 
himself a quaker, certainly possessed the power of over- 
whelming those at whom he looked fixedly for a while, 
to such a degree that they fell down as if struck with 
epilepsy ; once, at least, he turned even a mad bull, by 
the force of his eye, till it approached him humbly and 
licked his hand like a pet dog. Even in our own age 
Goethe has admitted the power of certain men to 
attract others by the strength of their will, and men- 
tions an instance in which he himself, ardently wishing 
to see his beloved one, forced her unconsciously to come 
and meet him halfway. (Eckermann, iii. 201.) 

It avails nothing to stigmatize a faith so deeply rooted 
and so universal as mere superstition. Among the mass 
of errors which in the course of ages have accumulated 
around the creed, the little grain of truth, the indubi- 
table power of man's mind to act through the eye, ought 
not to be overlooked. 

It is the same with the magic known as such to the 
two great nations of antiquity. If the Greeks saw in 
Plato the son of Apollo, who came to his mother 
Perictione in the shape of a serpent, and in Alexander 
the Great the son of Jupiter Amnion, they probably 
intended merely to pay the same compliment to their 
countrymen which modern nations convey by calling 


their rulers Kings and Kaisers "by the Grace of God." 
But the consistency with which higher beings came to 
visit earth-born man in the shape of favored animals, 
is more than an accident. The sons of God came to 
see the daughters of men, though it is not said in what 
form they appeared, and the suggestion that they were 
the "giants upon the earth," mentioned in Holy Writ, 
is not supported ; but exactly as the gods came from 
Olympus in the shape of bulls and rams, so the evil 
spirits of the Middle Ages appeared in the shape of 
rams and cats. A curious instance of the mixture of 
truth and falsehood appears in this connection. It is 
ivell-known that the Italians of the South look upon 
Virgil as one of the greatest magicians that ever lived, 
and ascribe to his tomb even now supernatural power. 
The poet himself had, of course, nothing whatever to 
do with magic ; but his reputation as a magician arose 
from the fact that, next to the Bible, his verses became, 
at an early period, a favorite means of consulting the 
future. Sortes Virgiliance, the lines which upon 
accidentally opening the volume first met the eye, were 
a leading feature of the art known as stichomania. 

The story of the greatest magician mentioned in the 
New Testament has been thoroughly examined, and the 
main features, at least, are well established. Simon 
Magus was a magician in the sense in which the 
ancients used that term; but he possessed evidently, 
in addition, all the powers claimed by better spiritual- 
ists, like Home in our day. A native of Gitton, a small 


village of Samaria, he had early manifested superior 
intellectual gifts, accompanied by an almost marvelous 
-control over the minds of others. By the aid of the 
former he produced a lofty gnostic system, which crum- 
bled, however, to pieces as soon as it came into contact 
with the inspired system of Christianity. His influence 
over others led him, in the arrogance which is inherent 
to natural man, to consider himself as the Great Divine 
Power, which appeared in different forms as Father, 
Son, and Spirit. He professed to be able to make him- 
self invisible and to pass, unimpeded, through solid, 
substances — precisely as was done in later ages by Saint 
Dominic and other saints (Goerres. Mystic, ii. 576) — 
to bind and to loosen others as well as himself at will ; 
to open prison doors and to cause trees to grow out of 
the bare ground. Before utterly rejecting his preten- 
sions as mere lies and tricks, we must bear in mind two 
facts: first, that modern jugglers in India perform 
these very tricks in a manner as yet unexplained, and 
secondly, that he, in all probability, possessed merely 
the power of exciting others to a high state of exalta- 
tion, in which they candidly believed they saw all these 
things. At all events, his magic deeds were identical 
with the miracles of later saints, and as these are 
enthroned in shrine and statue in Rome, so the Eternal 
City erected to Simon Magus, also, a statue, and pro- 
claimed him a god in the days of Claudius ! Another 
' celebrated magician of the same race, was Sedechias 
(Goerres. Mystic, iv. ii. 71), who lived in the days of 


Saint Louis, and who, once, in order to convince the 
skeptics of his day of the real existence of spirits, such 
as the Kabbalah admits, ordered them to appear in 
human form before the eyes of the monarch. Instantly 
the whole plain around the king's tent was alive with 
a vast army; long rows of bright-colored tents dotted 
the lowlands, and on the slopes around were encamped 
countless troops; whilst mounted squadrons appeared 
in the air, performing marvelous evolutions. This was 
probably the first instance of those airy hosts, which 
have ever since been seen in various countries. 

The Christian era gave to magic phenomena a new 
and specific character ; what was a miracle in apostolic 
times remained in the eyes of the multitude a miracle 
to our day, when performed by saints of the church 
— it became a crime and an abomination when the 
authors were laymen, and yet both differed in no single 
feature. The most remarkable representative of this 
dual nature of supernatural performances is, no doubt, 
Dr. Faust, whom the great and pious Melanchthon 
states to have well known as a native of the little vil- 
lage of Knittlingen, near his own birth-place, and as a 
man of dissolute habits, whom the Devil carried off in 
person. His motto, which has been discovered under a 
portrait of his (Hauber's " Bibl. Mag."), was characteris- 
tic of his faith : Omne bonum et perfection a Deo, imper- 
fectum a diabolo. His vast learning, his great power 
over the elements, and the popular story of his pact 
with the Evil One, made him a hero among the Ger- 


mans, of whose national tendencies he was then the 
typical representative. Unfortunately, however, nearly 
every Christian land has had its own Faust ; such was, 
for instance, in Spain the famous Dr. Toralba, who 
lived in the sixteenth century, and by the aid of a 
servile demon read the future, healed the sick, traveled 
through the air, and even when he fell into the bands 
of the Inquisition, obtained his release through the 
Great Admiral of Castile. Gilles de Laval, who was 
publicly burnt in 1440, and Lady Fowlis, of Scotland, 
are parallel cases. ^ •■ 

One of the most absurd ceremonies belonging to 
black magic, was the well-known Taigheirm, of the 
Scotch Highlands, a demoniac sacrifice evidently hand- 
ed down from pagan times. The so-called magician 
procured a large number of black cats, and devoted 
them, with solemn incantations, and while burning 
offensive incense of various kinds, to the evil spirits. 
Then the poor victims were spitted and slowly roasted 
over a fire of coals, one after the other, but so that not 
a second's pause occurred between the death of one and 
the sufferings of the next. This horridly absurd sacri- 
fice had to be continued for three days and nights, 
during which the magician was not allowed to take 
any food or drink. The consequence was, that if he 
did not drop down exhausted and perish miserably, he 
became fearfully excited, and finally saw demons in the 
shape of black cats who granted him all he desired 
(" Horst. Deuteroscopia," ii. 184). It need hardly be 


added that in the state of clairvoyance which he had 
reached, he only asked for what he well knew was 
going to happen, and that all the fearful visions of 
hellish spirits existed only in his overwrought imagina- 
tion. But it will surprise many to learn that such 
" taigheirms " were held as late as the last century, and 
that a place is still shown on the island of Mull, where 
Allan Maclean with his assistant, Lachlain Maclean, 
sacrificed black cats for four days and nights in succes- 
sion. The elder of the two passed for. a kind of high- 
priest and chief magician with the superstitious island- 
ers ; the other was a young unmarried man of fine 
appearance, and more than ordinary intelligence. Both 
survived the fearful ceremony, but sank utterly ex- 
hausted to the ground, unable to obtain the revelation 
which they had expected ; nevertheless they retained 
the gift of second sight for their lives. 

It must not be imagined, finally, that the summon- 
ing of spirits is a lost art ; even in our day men are 
found who are willing to call the departed from their 
resting-place, and to exhibit them to the eyes of living 
men. The best explanation of this branch of magic 
was once given by a learned professor, whom the Prince 
Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick II., sent for from 
ILille, in order to learn from him how spirits could be 
summoned. The savant declared that nothing was 
easier, and supported his assertion by a number of 
actual performances. First the spectator was prepared 
by strong beverages, such as the Egyptian sorcerers 


already used to employ on similar occasions, and by the 
burning of incense. Soon he fell into a kind of half- 
sleep, in which he could still understand what was said, 
but no longer reflect upon the sense of the words; 
gradually his brain became so disturbed, and his im- 
agination so highly excited, that he pictured to himself 
images corresponding to the words which he heard, and 
called them up before his mind's eye as realities. The 
magician, protected against the effects of the incense by 
a sponge filled with an alcoholic mixture, then began 
to converse with his visitor, and tried to learn from 
him all he could concerning the person the latter 
wished to see, his shape, his clothes, etc. Finally the 
victim was conducted into a dark room, where he was 
suddenly asked by a stern, imperious voice : " Do you 
not see that woman in white ? " (or whatever the person 
might be,) and at once his over-excited imagination led 
him to think that he really beheld what he expected or 
wished to see. This was allowed to go on till he sank 
down exhausted, or actually fainted away. When he 
recovered his consciousness, he naturally recollected 
but imperfectly what he had seen while in a state of 
great excitement, and his memory, impaired by the 
intermediate utter exhaustion and fainting, failed to 
recall the small errors or minute inaccuracies of his 
vision. All that was left of the whole proceeding was 
a terrifying impression on his mind that he had really 
seen the spirits of departed friends. 

Such skillful manoeuvres were more than once em- 


ployed for sinister purposes. Thus it is a well-known 
historical fact that the men who obtained control over 
King Frederick William II., after his ascension to the 
throne, and held it for a time by the visions which 
they showed him, employed means like these to sum- 
mon the spirits he wished to see. The master in this 
branch of black magic was undoubtedly Joseph Bal- 
samo, the Count Cagliostro of French history. He 
was neither a magician in the true sense of the word, 
nor even a religious enthusiast, but merely an accom- 
plished juggler and swindler, who had acquired, by 
natural endowment, patient study, and consummate 
art, a. great power over the minds of others. He 
played upon the imagination of men as upon a famil- 
iar instrument, and the greatest philosophers were as 
easily victimized by him as the most clear-sighted wo- 
men, in spite of the natural instinct which generally 
protects the latter against such imposition. His 
secret — as far as the summoning of the spirits of the 
departed is concerned — has died with him, but that 
enlightened, conscientious men candidly believed they 
had been shown disembodied spirits, is too well estab- 
lished by memories of French and Dutch writers to be 
doubted. In the meetings of his " lodges of Egyptian 
Freemasons " he, as Grand Cophtha, or those whom he 
had qualified by breathing upon them, employed a boy 
or a girl, frequently called up at haphazard from the 
street, but at other times carefully prepared for the 
purpose, to look into the hand or a basin of water. 


The poor child was, however, first made half-uncon- 
scious, being anointed with the " oil of wisdom," no 
doubt an intoxicating compound, and after numerous 
ceremonies, carried into a recess called the Tabernacle, 
and ordered to look into the hand or a basin of water. 
After the assembly had prayed for some time, the 
"Dove," as they called the child, was asked what he 
saw. Ordinarily he beheld first an angel or a priest — 
probably the image of Oagliostro himself in his sacer- 
dotal robes — but frequently also monkeys, the offspring 
of a skeptical imagination. Then followed more or 
less interesting revelations, some utterly absurd, others 
of real interest, and at times actual predictions of 
future events. Cagliostro himself, during his last trial 
before the Inquisition of Borne, while readily confess- 
ing a large number of impostures, stoutly maintained 
the genuineness of these communications and insisted 
that they were the effects of a special power granted 
by God. His assertion has some value, as the shrewd 
man knew very well how much more he was likely to 
gain by a prompt avowal than by such a denial ; his 
wife, also, although his accomplice in former years, and 
now by no means disposed to spare her quasi-husband, 
always stated that this was a true mystery which she 
had never been able to fathom. If we add to these 
considerations the fact that numerous masters of 
lodges, even in Holland and England, obtained the 
same results, and that they cannot all have been impos- 
tors or deluded victims, there remains euough in these 


well-established phenomena to ascribe them to a mys- 
terious, magic power. (Compendio clella vita, etc. di G. 
Balsamo. Roma, 1791.) It is in fact quite evident that 
the unfortunate juggler possessed in a very rare degree 
a power akin to that practised by a Mesmer, a Home, 
and other men of that class, without having the sense 
to understand its true nature or the ambition to em- 
ploy it for other than the lowest selfish purposes. 
Trials of magicians, who have conjured up the dead 
and compelled them to reveal the future, are still tak- 
ing place every now and then ; in the year 1850 not 
less than four men, together with their associates, were 
accused of this crime in enlightened Germany, and the 
proceedings in one case, which occurred in Munich, 
created no small sensation. 

Black magic, therefore, must also be looked upon as 
by no means a mere illusion, much less as the work of 
evil spirits. The results it obtains at times are the 
work of man himself, and exist only within his own 
conscience. But if man can produce such marvelous 
effects, which lie apparently beyond the range of the 
material world, how much more must the Creator and 
Preserver of all things be able to call forth events 
which transcend — to our mind— the limits of the tan- 
gible world. Such occurrences, when they have a 
higher moral or religious purpose in view, we call Mir- 
acles, and they remain incomprehensible for all whose 
knowledge is confined to the physical world. Above 
the laws of nature there rules the Divine Will, which 


can do what Nature cannot do, and which we can only 
begin to understand when we bear in mind the fact that 
by the side of the visible order of the world or above 
it, there exist spiritual laws as well as spiritual beings. 
In a miracle, powers are rendered active which ordina- 
rily remain inactive, but which exist none the less per- 
manently in the world. Hence all great thinkers have 
readily admitted the existence of miracles : a Locke 
and a Leibnitz as well as, more recently, a Stahl and a 
Schopenhauer. Locke, in his " Discourse of Miracles," 
goes so far as to call them the very credentials of a 
messenger sent from God, and asserts that Moses and 
Christ have alike authenticated the truth and the 
divine character of their revelations by miracles. Even 
their possible continuance is believed in by those who 
hope that men will ever continue among us who " have 
tasted the good word of God and the powers of the 
world to come." (Hebrews vi. 5.) 



" To sleep — perchance to dream." — Hamlet. 

Of the two parts of our being, one, spiritual and 

heaven-born, is always active, the other, the bodily, 

earth-born part, requires frequent and regular rest in 

sleep. During this time of repose, however, the mind 

also ceases apparently its operations, merely, however, 

because it has no longer servants at its command, who 

are willing and able to give expression to its activity. 

When the senses are asleep the mind is deprived of the 

usual means of communication with the outer world ; 

but this does not necessarily condemn it to inaction. 

On the contrary, ifc has often been maintained that the 

mind is most active and capable of the highest 

achievements when released from its usual bondage to 

the senses. Already iEschylus in his "Eumenides" 


The mind of sleepers acts more cunningly ; 
The glare of day conceals the fate of men. 

It seems, however, as if the intermediate state between 
the fall activity of wakeful life and the complete repose 
of the senses in sound sleep, is most favorable to the 
development of such magic phenomena as occur in 


dreams. The fact that the susceptibility of the mind 
is at that time peculiarly great is intimately connected 
with the statement recorded in Holy Writ, that God 
frequently revealed His will to men in dreams. If we 
admit the antiquity of the book of Job, we see there 
the earliest known announcement of this connection. 
" In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep 
falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then 
He openeth the ears of men and sealeth their instruc- 
tion" (xxxiii. 15). Next we are told that " God came to 
Abimelech in a dream by night" (Gen. xx. 3), and from 
that time we hear of similar revelations made by night 
in dreams throughout the whole history of the chosen 
people. Frequently, however, the dreams are called 
visions. Thus Balaam prophesied: "He hath said, 
which heard the words of God and knew the knowl- 
edge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the 
Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes 
open." Daniel had his secret "revealed in a night 
vision," but such favor was denied to Saul, for " the 
Lord answered him not, neither by dream nor by 
Urim, nor by prophets." To Solomon, on the contrary, 
"the Lord appeared in a dream by night" many times; 
Joel was promised that " old men should dream dreams 
and young men shall see visions," a pledge quoted by 
St. Peter as having been amply fulfilled in his day (Acts 
ii. 17). For dreams did not lose their importance at 
the coming of Christ. To his reputed father "the 
Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream," bidding him 


to take Mary to his wife ; again lie was warned in a 
dream " not to return to Herod," and the Lord spake 
" to Paul in the night by a vision " more than once, 
as he was by a- dream also sent to Macedonia. 

What in these and similar cases is accepted as divine 
inspiration, is in secular history generally looked upon 
as mysterious, magic revelation; but the phenomena 
remain the same in all instances, and those appearing 
in dreams are identical with the symptoms exhibited in 
revelations occurring during the day, when the favored 
recipient is wide awake. Clairvoyance by night differs 
in no way from clairvoyance during the day ; a state of 
ecstasy, a trance, is necessary in either case. That 
prophetic dreams generally remain unknown — outside 
of Holy Writ — must be ascribed to the fact that they 
leave no recollection behind, unless they are continued 
into a state of half-sleep, from which a sudden awaken- 
ing takes place ; and soon then they are invariably 
clothed in some allegoric form, and become liable to be 
erroneously or, at least, imperfectly interpreted. Thus 
dreams, like trances, often prefigure death under the 
form of a journey, and represent the dying man as an 
uprooted tree, a withered flower, or a drowning swim- 
mer. The early Christians, foreseeing martyrdom, very 
frequently received in dreams an intimation of their 
impending fate under such symbolic forms, and, what 
was quite peculiar to their visions was that they often 
extended to the pagan jailors and keepers, whose minds 
had been excited by witnessing the sufferings and the 


constancy of their victims, and who, in many cases, 
became, in consequence of these dreams, converts to the 
new faith. The facility, however, with which such 
symbols can be misunderstood, has been as fatal to 
dreams in the estimation of most men, as the inaccurate 
manner in which the real revelation is often presented 
to the still half-sleeping mind. Hence the popular 
belief that dreams " go by contraries," as vulgar slang 
expresses it. This faith is based upon the well-estab- 
lished fact that a genuine dream, in the act of impress- 
ing itself upon memory, often suffers not only 
mutilation but actual reversion. Thus Eogers saw, in 
a dream, Hikey, a small, weak man, murder a powerful 
giant, Caulfield — in the actual encounter, which he had 
really foreseen, the latter killed his puny antagonist. 
It is, therefore, as dangerous to " believe in dreams," as 
to deny their value altogether and to ascribe all realiza- 
tions of dreams, with Macnish, to mere accident. 
(" Sleep," p. 81.) Men of cool judgment and clear mind 
have at all times been found on the side of believers, 
and even our great Franklin, with his eminently practi- 
cal mind and well-known aversion to every kind of 
superstition, firmly trusted in views which he believed 
to have come to him in dreams. 

Antiquity believed in dreams, not only as means by 
which the G-ods revealed their will, but as special favors 
accorded to fortunate men. Thus we are told that once 
two men were traveling together from Arcadia to 
Megara ; when they reached the city, one of the two 



remained at an inn, while the other went to stay with a 
a friend. Both, wearied by the journey, retired to 
rest; but the traveler who was at a private house 
dreamt in the night that his friend urged him to come 
to his assistance, as the innkeeper was about to murder 
him. Terrified by the vivid dream, he jumped up ; but, 
upon reflection, he concluded that the whole was but an 
idle fancy, and lay down again. Thereupon the dream 
was repeated ; but this time his friend added, that it 
was too late to come to his aid now, as he had been 
murdered, and his body would in the morning be 
carried out of the city, concealed under a load of 
manure. This second dream made such an impression 
upon the Arcadian that he went at an early hour to the 
city gate, and to his amazement soon saw a wagon 
loaded with manure approaching the place where he 
stood. He stopped the driver and asked him what he 
had hidden in his wagon ? The man fled, trembling ; 
the body of the murdered friend was found, and the 
treacherous innkeeper paid with his life for his crime. 
(Cicero, De divin.) 

One of the oldest of well-authenticated dreams in 
Christian times, revealed to St. Basil the death of 
Julian the Apostate. It seemed to him in his sleep 
that he saw the martyr Mercurius receive from God 
the order to kill the tyrant, and after a short time 
return and say: "0 Lord, Julian is killed as Thou 
hast commanded! " The saint was so firmly convinced 
of having received a direct revelation from heaven, 


that he immediately made the news known to the 
people, and thus gained new honor when the official 
information at last arrived. ( Vita 8. Basil, etc., p. 692.) 
Here, also, the deep-seated hatred of the Christian 
priest against the Emperor, who dared to renew the 
worship of the ancient gods of the Pagans, no doubt 
suggested the vivid dream, while, on the other hand, 
the 'transmission of the actual revelation was so im- 
perfect as to change the real occurrence — Julian's 
death by a Persian lance — according to the familiar 
way of thinking of St. Basil, into his execution at 
divine command by a holy martyr. There is no lack 
of renowned men of all ages who have had their re- 
markable dreams, and who have, fortunately for future 
investigation, recorded them carefully. Thus Me- 
lanchthon tells us that he was at a convent with a 
certain Dr. Jonas, when letters reached him requesting 
him to convey to his friend the sad news of his 
daughter's sudden death. The great reformer was at a 
loss how to discharge the painful duty, and driven by 
an instinctive impulse, asked Dr. Jonas whether he 
had ever had any remarkable dreams. The latter re- 
plied that he had dreamt, during the preceding night, 
of his return home, and of the joyful welcome he had 
met from all his family, except his oldest daughter, 
who 'had not appeared. Thereupon Melanchthon told 
him that his dream had been true, and that he would 
never see his daughter again, as she had been sum- 
moned to her eternal home. Petrarch had a dream 


which was evidently also the reflex of his thoughts in 
the day-time, but accompanied by a direct revelation. 
He had been, for some days, very anxious about the 
health of his patron, a Oolonna, who was Bishop of 
Lombez, and one night saw himself in a dream walking 
by his friend's side, but unable to keep pace with him ; 
the bishop walked faster and faster, bidding him stay 
behind, and when the poet insisted upon following 
him, he suddenly assumed a death-like appearance, and 
said, " No, I will not have you go with me now ! " 
During the Same night in which Petrarch had this 
dream in Parma, the bishop died at his palace in 
Lombez. The well-known Thomas "Wotton, also, 
dreamt a short time before his death, while residing 
in Kent, that he saw five persons commit a robbery at 
Oxford. On the following day he added a postscript to 
a letter which he had written to his son Henry, then a 
student at that university, in which he mentioned his 
dream, and asked if such a robbery had really taken 
place. The letter reached the young man on the morn- 
ing after the crime had been committed, when town 
and university were alike in a state of intense excite- 
ment. He made the letter immediately known to the 
authorities, who found in the account of the dream so 
accurate a description of the robbers, that they were 
enabled at once to ascertain who were the guilty per- 
sons, and to have them arrested before they could 
escape. (Beaumont, p. 223.) The great German poet 
Gustav Schwab received the first intimation of the 

DEEAMS. 101 

French Kevolution in 1848 through a remarkable 
dream which his daughter had in the night preceding 
the 24th of February. She had been attacked by a 
malignant fever, and was very restless and nervously 
excited ; during that night she saw, in her feverish 
dreams, the streets of Paris filled with excited crowds, 
and was forced to witness the most fearful scenes. 
When her father came to her bedside next morning, 
she gave him a minute description of the building of 
barricades, the bloody encounters between the troops 
and the citizens, and of a number of sad tragedies 
which she had seen enacted in the narrow and dark 
streets of the great city. The father, though deeply 
impressed by the vivid character of the dream, as- 
cribed it to a reminiscence of the scenes enacted during 
the Revolution of 1789, and dismissed the subject, 
although his child insisted upon the thoroughly mod- 
ern character of the buildings, and the costumes and 
manners of all she had seen. Great was, therefore, the 
amazement of the poet and of all who had heard of the 
dream, when, several days afterwards, the first news 
reached them of the expulsion of the Orleans family, 
and much greater still when the papers brought, one 
by one, descriptions of the scenes which the feverish 
dream had enabled the girl to see in minute detail, and 
yet with unerring accuracy. It is true'that the poet, 
in whose biography the dream with all the attending 
circumstances is mentioned at full length, had for years 
anticipated such a revolution, and often, with a poet's 


graphic power, conjured up the scenes that were likely 
to happen whenever the day of the tempest should 
arrive. Thus his daughter's mind had, no doubt, long 
been filled with images of this kind, and was in a state 
peculiarly susceptible for impressions connected with 
the subject. There remains, however, the magic phe- 
nomenon that she saw, not a poet's fiction, but actual 
occurrences with all their details, and saw them in the 
very night during which they happened. In the papers 
of Sir Eobert Peel was found a note concerning his 
journey from Antibes to Nice, in 1854. He was on 
board the steamer Erculano, which, on the 25th of 
April, so violently collided with another steamer, the 
Sicilia, that it sank immediately, and two-thirds of the 
passengers perished. Among those who were rescued 
were the great English statesman and the maid of two 
ladies, the wife and the daughter of a counselor of a 
French court of justice at Dijon. The young girl had 
had a presentiment of impending evil, but her wish to 
postpone the journey had been overruled. The father, 
also, though knowing nothing of the precise where- 
abouts of his beloved ones, had been much troubled in 
mind about their safety, and in the very night in which 
the accident happened, saw the whole occurrence in a 
harassing dream. He distinctly beheld the vessel dis- 
appear in the waves, and a number of victims, among 
whom were his wife and his child, struggling for life, 
till they finally perished. He awoke in a state of great 
anguish, summoned his servants to keep him com- 

DEEAMS. 103 

pany, and told them what he had dreamt. A few 
hours later the telegraph informed him of the accident, 
and of his own grievous affliction. (Journ. de Vame, 
Fevr. 1857, p. 253.) 

While in these dreams events were made known 
which happened at the same time, in other dreams the 
future itself is revealed. Cicero, in his work on Divi- 
nation (I. 27, and II. 66), and Valerius Maximus have 
preserved a number of such dream-visions, which were 
famous already in the days of antiquity; a dream con- 
cerning the tyrant Dionysius was especially well known. 

It seems that a woman, called Himera, found herself 
in a dream among the gods on Olympus, and there saw 
chained to the throne of Jupiter a large man with red 
hair and spotted countenance. When she asked the 
divine messenger who had carried her to those regions, 
who that man was, he told her it was the scourge of 
Italy and Sicily, a man who, when unchained, would 
destroy many cities. She related her dream on the fol- 
lowing morning to her friends, but found no explana- 
tion, till several years afterwards, when Dionysius 
ascended the throne. She happened to be in the crowd 
which had assembled to witness the triumph of the 
new monarch, and when she saw the tyrant, she 
uttered a loud cry, for she had recognized in him the 
man in chains under Jupiter's throne. The cry at- 
tracted attention ; she was brought before Dionysius, 
forced to relate her dream, and sent to be executed. 
Equally well known was the remarkable dream wlibh 


Socrates had a short time before his death. His sen- 
tence had already been passed, but the day for its exe- 
cution was not yet made known, when Crito, one of his 
friends, came to him and informed him that it would 
probably be ordered for the next morning. The great 
philosopher replied with his usual calmness: " If such 
is the will of the gods, be it so; but I do not think it 
will be to-morrow. I had, just before you entered, a 
sweet dream. A woman of transcending beauty, and 
dressed in a long white robe, appeared to me, called me 
by name, and said, ' In three days you will return to 
your beloved Phthia' (Socrates' native place)." He 
did not die till the third day. 

Alexander the Great came more than once, during his 
remarkable career, in peculiar contact with prophetic 
dreams. He was thus informed of the coming of Cas- 
sander long before he ever saw him, and even of the 
influence which the still unknown friend would have 
on his fate. When the latter at last appeared at court, 
Alexander looked at him long and anxiously, and 
recognized in him the man he had so often seen in his 
dreams. It so happened, however, that before his 
suspicions assumed a positive form, a Greek distich 
was mentioned to him, written to prove the utter 
worthlessness of all dreams, and the effect of these 
lines, combined with the discovery that Cassander was 
the son of his beloved Antipater, induced him to lay 
aside all apprehensions. Nevertheless, his friend sub- 
sequently poisoned him in cold blood. Not less 

DREAMS. ] 05 

famous was the dream which warned Cains Gracchus 
of his own sad fate. He saw in his sleep the shadow 
of his brother Tiberius, and heard him announce in a 
clear voice, that Caius also would share his tragic end, 
and be murdered like himself in the Capitol. The 
great Roman frequently related this dream, and the 
historian Ccelius records that he heard it repeated 
during Gracchus' life-time. It is well known that the 
latter afterwards became a tribune, and was killed 
while he held that office, in the same manner as his 
brother. Cicero also had his warning dream. He was 
escaping from his enemies, who had driven him out 
of Rome, and seeking safety in his Antium villa. 
Here he dreamt, one night, that, as he was wandering 
through a waste, deserted country, the Consul Marius 
met him, accompanied by the usual retinue, and 
adorned with all the insignia of his rank, and asked 
him why he was so melancholy, and why he had fled 
from Rome. When he had answered the question, 
Marius took him by his right hand, and summoning 
his chief officer to his side, ordered him to carry the 
great orator to the temple of Jupiter, built by Marius 
himself, while he assured Cicero he would there meet 
with new hopes. It was afterwards ascertained that at 
the very hour of the dream, the Senate had been dis- 
cussing in the temple of Jupiter the speedy return of 
Cicero. It would have been well for the great Caesar, 
also, if he had deigned to listen to the warning voice 
of dreams, for in the night before his murder, his wife, 



Calphurnia, saw him, in a dream, fall wounded and 
copiously bleeding into her arms, and there end his 
life. She told him of her dream, and on her knees 
besought him not to go out on that day ; but Caesar, 
fearing he might be suspected of giving undue weight 
to a woman's dreams, made light of her fears, went to 
the Senate, and met his tragic fate. Among later 
Eomans the Emperor Theodosius was most strikingly 
favored by dreams, if we may rely upon the statement 
of Ammianus Marcellinus (I. 29). Two courtiers, 
anxious to ascertain who should succeed the Emperor 
Valens on the throne, employed a kind of magic instru- 
ment, resembling the modern psychograph, and suc- 
ceeded in deciphering the letters Theod. Their dis- 
covery became known to the jealous emperor, who 
ordered not only Theodoras, his second secretary of 
state, to be executed, but with him a large number of 
eminent personages whose names began with the omi- 
nous five letters. For some unknown reasons, Theodo- 
sius, then in Spain, escaped his suspicions, and yet it was 
he, who, when Valens fell in the war against the Goths, 
was summoned home by the next emperor, Gratianus, 
to save the empire and assume the supreme command 
of the army. When the successful general returned to 
Byzantium to make his report to the emperor, he had 
himself a dream in which he saw the great Patriarch 
of Antioch, Meletius, invest him with the purple, and 
place the imperial crown upon his head. Gratianus, 
struck by the brilliancy of the victory obtained at the 

DEEAMS. 107 

moment of supreme danger, made Theodosius Emperor 
of the East, and returned to Eome. During the follow- 
ing year (380) a great council was held in Constan- 
tinople, and here, amid a crowd of assembled dignitaries 
of the church, Theodosius instantly recognized the 
Bishop of Antioch, whom he had never seen except in 
his dream. 

It is not generally known that the prediction of 
future greatness which Shakespeare causes the three 
witches to convey to Macbeth, rests on an historic 
basis. The announcement came to him, however, 
probably not at an actual meeting, but by means of a 
prophetic dream, which presented to the ambitious 
chieftain the appearance of an encounter with un- 
earthly agents. This presumption is strengthened by 
the first notice of the mysterious event, which occurs, it 
is believed, in " Wyntownis Cronykil," where Macbeth 
is reported to have had a vivid dream of three weird' 
women, who foretold him his fate. Boethius derived 
his information from this source, and for unknown 
reasons added not only Banquo as a witness of the 
scene, but described it, also, first of all chroniclers, as 
an actual meeting in a forest. 

The report that the discovery of the famous Venus 
of Milo was due to a dream, is not improbable, but is as 
yet without sufficient authentication. The French 
Consul, Brest, who was a resident of Milo, dreamed, it is 
stated, two nights in succession, that he had caused 
diggings to be made at a certain place in the island and 


that his efforts had been rewarded by the discovery of a 
beautiful statue. He paid no attention to the dream ; 
but it was repeated a third time, and now so distinctly 
that he not only saw clearly all the surroundings, but, 
also, the traces of a recent fire on the spot that had 
been pointed out to him before. When he went on the 
following day to the place, he instantly recognized the 
traces of fire, began his researches, and discovered not 
only the Yenus, now the glory of the Louvre, but, also, 
several other most valuable statues. The well-known 
dream concerning Major Andre is open to the same 
objections, although it is quoted in good faith by Mrs. 
Crowe (i., p. 59). We are told that the Eev. Mr. Cun- 
ningham, the poet, saw in a dream a man who was 
captured by armed soldiers and hanged on a tree. To 
his utter consternation, he recognized on the following 
day, in Major Andre, who was then for the first time 
presented to him, the person he had seen in his dream. 
The latter was then just on the point of embarking for 
America, where he met with his sad fate. 

A large number of dreams which are looked upon as 
prophetic, are nothing more than the result of impres- 
sions made on the mind during sleep by some bodily 
sensation. A swelling or an inflammation, for instance, 
is frequently announced beforehand by pain in the 
affected part of the body ; the mind receives through 
the nerves an impression of this pain and clothes it, 
during sleep and in a dream, into some familiar garb, 
the biting of a serpent, the sting of an insect, or, even, 

DEEAMS. 109 

the stab of a dagger. An occasional coincidence serves 
to lend prestige to such simple and perfectly natural 
dreams. Thus Shilling (" Jenseits," p. 284) records the 
"well-known story of a young man in Padua, who dreamed 
one night that he was bitten by one of the marble lions 
which stand before the church of St. Justina. Passing 
by the place, on the following day, with some compan- 
ions, he recalled the dream, and putting his hand into the 
mouth of one of the lions, he said, defiantly: "Look at 
the fierce lion that bit me last night." But at the same 
moment he utterred a piercing cry and drew back his 
hand in great terror: a scorpion, hid in the lion's 
mouth, had stung him, and the poor youth died of the 
venom. The German poet Conrad Gessner dreamed, in 
a similar manner, that a snake bit him in his left 
breast ; the matter was completely forgotten, when five 
days later a slight rising appeared on the spot, which 
speedily developed itself into a fatal ulcer, and caused 
his death in a short time. 

Far more interesting, and occasionally productive of 
good results, are dreams which might be called retro- 
spective, inasmuch as they reveal events of the past, 
which staud in some connection with present or im- 
pending necessities. Many of these, no doubt, arise 
simply from the recovery of forgotten facts in our mem- 
ory; others, however, cannot be thus explained. Jus- 
tinus tells us of Dido's dream, in which she saw her 
departed husband, Sichasus, who pointed out to her his 
concealed treasures and advised her to seek safety in 


flight. St. Augustine also has an account of a father who 
after death appeared to his son and showed him a re- 
ceipted account, the loss of which had caused his heir 
much anxiety. {De cur a pro mortuis, ch. xi.) After 
Dante's death the thirteenth canto of his Paradise could 
nowhere be found, and the apparent loss filled all Italy 
with grief and sorrow. His son, Pietro Alighieri, how- 
ever, saw a long time afterwards, in a dream, his father, 
who came to his bedside and told him that the missing 
papers were concealed under a certain plank near the 
window at which he had been in the habit of writing. 
It was only when all other researches had proved 
vain, that, attention was paid to the dream ; but when 
the plank was examined the canto was found in the 
precise place which the dream had indicated. 

A similar dream of quite recent occurrence was acci- 
dentally more thoroughly authenticated than is gen- 
erally the case with such events. The beautiful wife 
of Baron Alphonse de Rothschild of Paris had lost a 
valuable ring while hunting in the woods near her cas- 
tle of Ferrieres. It so happened that early associations 
made the jewel specially dear to her, and she felt the 
loss grievously ; a reward of fifteen hundred francs 
was, therefore, offered at once for its recovery. The 
night after the hunt, the daughter of one of the keep- 
ers saw in a dream an unknown man of imposing ap- 
pearance, who told her to go at daybreak to a certain 
crossroad in the forest, where she would find the ring 
at the foot of a beech-tree, close to the highway. She 


awakes, dresses herself at once, and goes to the place of 
which she has dreamed ; after half an hour's walk she 
reaches the crossroads and almost at the same moment 
sees something glittering and shining like a firefly, 
picks it up, and behold ! it is the ring. The girl had 
not even seen the hunt, nor did she know anything of 
the loss of the jewel ; the whole occurrence, and the 
place where it was lost, all were pointed out to her in 
her dream. (Le Monde lllustre, Dec. 15, 1860). 

It has already been mentioned that the question has 
often been mooted whether the mind was really quite 
at rest during sleep, or still operative in dreams. Some 
authors deny its activity altogether; others admit a 
partial activity. The philosopher Kant went so far as 
to maintain that perceptions had during sleep were 
clearer and fuller than those of the day, because of the 
perfect rest of the other senses. Recollection, alone, he 
added, was missing, because the mind acted in sleep 
without the cooperation of the body. 

There are, however, certain facts which seem to 
prove that the mind does, at least, not altogether cease 
its activity while the body is asleep. How else could 
we explain the power many persons undoubtedly pos- 
sess to awake at a fixed hour, and the success with 
which, more than once, great mental efforts have been 
made during profound sleep ? Of the latter, Tartini's 
famous sonata is a striking instance. He had en- 
deavored in vain to finish this great work ; inspiration 
would not come, and he had abandoned the task in 


despair. During the night he had a dream in which 
he once more tried his best, but in vain ; at the mo- 
ment of despair, however, the Deyil appeared to him 
and promised to finish the work in return for his soul. 
The composer, nothing loath, surrenders his soul and 
hears his magnificent work gloriously completed on the 
violin. He wakes up in perfect delight, goes to his 
desk, and at once writes down his " Devil's Sonata." 
Even children are known occasionally to be able to 
give intelligent answers while fast asleep ; the ques- 
tions, however, must be in accordance with the current 
of their thoughts, otherwise they are apt to be aroused. 
A case is quoted by Eeil of two~ soldiers who used, at 
times, to keep up an uninterrupted conversation during 
a whole night, while they were to all appearances fast 
asleep. A lady, also, was unable to refuse answers to 
questions put to her at night, and' had at last to lock 
herself in carefully whenever she went to sleep. 

Hence it is that some of the most profound thinkers 
who have discussed the subject of dreams, like Des- 
cartes and Leibnitz, Jouffroy and Dugald Stewart, 
Eichard and Cams, with a number of others, assert the 
uninterrupted wakefulness of the mind. Some authors 
believe that the spiritual part of man needs no sleep, 
but delights in the comfort of feeling that the body is 
in perfect repose, and of forgetting, by these means, 
for a time the troubles of daily life, and the responsi- 
bilities of our earthly existence. They base this view 
upon the fact, that, as far as we can judge, the mind is, 

DREAMS. 113 

during sleep, independent of the body and the outer 
world. Thinking is quite possible during sleep with- 
out dreaming, and certain bodily sensations, even, are 
correctly perceived, as when we turn over in our sleep, 
because lying on one side produces pain or uneasiness. 
We not only talk while we are asleep, but laugh or 
weep, sigh or groan. A slight noise, a whispered word, 
affect the course of our thoughts, and produce new 
images in our dreams, as certain affections and even 
the pressure upon certain organs are sure to produce 
invariably the same dreams. Space and time dis- 
appear, however, and naturally, because we can meas- 
ure them only by the aid of our senses, and these are, 
for the time, inactive. Hence Dugald Stewart ascribes 
the manner in which a moment's dream often com- 
prises a year, or a whole lifetime, to the fact that, when 
we are asleep, the images created by our imagination 
appear to be realities, while those which we form when 
we are awake are known to us to be mere fictions, and 
hence not subject to the laws of time. 

It will not surprise us, therefore, to find that this 
activity of the mind, deprived of the usual means of 
making itself known to others by gesture, sound, or 
action, seeks frequently a symbolical utterance, and 
this is the grain of truth here also hid under the vast 
amount of rubbish, known as the interpretation of 
dreams. Troubles and difficulties may thus appear as 
storms ; sorrow and grief as tears ; troubled waters 
may represent pain, and smooth ice impending danger; 


a dry river-bed an approaching famine, and pretty 
flowers great joy to come, provided, always, we are dis- 
posed to admit a higher class of prophetic dreams. 
Such a view is supported by high authority, for since 
the days of Aristotle, great writers, divines as well as 
philosophers, have endeavored to classify dreams accord- 
ing to their nature and importance. The great re- 
former, Melanchthon, in his work on the soul, divided 
them into common dreams, void of importance ; pro- 
phetic dreams, arising from the individual gifts of the 
sleeper ; divine.dreams, inspired by God either directly 
or through the agency of angels, and finally, demoniac 
dreams, such as the witches' sabbath. One great dif- 
ficulty attending all such classification arises, however, 
from the well-known fact, already alluded to, that ex- 
ternal sensations are by far the most frequent causes of 
dreams. Even these have been systematically arranged 
by some writers, most successfully, perhaps, in the 
work of Maine de Biran, but he overlooks again the 
numerous cases in which external noises and similar 
accidents produce a whole train of thoughts. Thus 
Pope dreamed of a Spaniard who impudently entered 
his library, ransacked the books on the shelves, and 
turned a deaf ear to all his remonstrances. The im- 
pression was so forcible that he questioned all his 
servants, and investigated the matter thoroughly, till 
he was finally forced to acknowledge that the whole 
transaction was a dream caused by the fall of a book 
in his library, which he heard in his sleep. A still 

DREAMS. 115 

more remarkable case occurred once in a hotel in 
Dantzic, where not one person only, but all the guests, 
without exception, dreamed of the sudden arrival of a 
number of travelers, who disturbed the whole house, 
and took possession of their rooms with unusual clatter 
and noise. Not one had arrived, but during the night 
a violent storm had arisen, causing doors to slam and 
window-shutters to flap against the house, noises 
which had aroused in more than fifty people precisely 
the same impressions. 


Concipiendis visionibus quas phantasias vocant. 


Visions, that is, the perception of apparently tan- 
gible objects in the outer world, which only exist in 
our imagination, have been known from time im- 
memorial among all nations on earth. They are, in 
themselves, perfectly natural, and can frequently be 
traced back without difficulty to bodily affections or 
a disordered state of the mind, so that many emi- 
nent physicians dispose of them curtly as mere inci- 
dental symptoms of congestion or neuralgia. They 
may present real men and things, known beforehand, 
and now reproduced in such a manner as to appear 
objectively ; or they may be ideal forms, the product 
of the moment, and incompatible with the laws of 
actual life. Persons who have visions and know 
nothing of their true nature, are apt to become in- 
tensely excited, as if they had been transferred into 
another world. The images they behold seem to them 
of supernatural origin, and may inspire them with lofty 
thoughts and noble impulses, but only too frequently 
they disturb their peace of mind and lead them to 
crime or despair. 


When visions extend to other senses besides sight, 
and the peculiar state of mind by which they are 
caused affects different parts of the body at once, they 
are called hallucinations; most frequent among insane 
people, of whom, according to Esquirol, eighty in a 
hundred are thus affected, they are generally quite in- 
significant; while visions through the eye, are often 
accompanied by very remarkable magic phenomena. 
Thus the visions which great men like Cromwell and 
Descartes, Byron or Goethe, record of their own ex- 
perience, were evidently signs of the great energy of 
their mental life, while in others they are as clearly 
symptoms of disease. Ascribed by the ancients to 
divine influence, Christianity has invariably denounced 
them — when not indubitably inspired by God, as in the 
case of the martyr Stephen and the apostle St. John — 
as works of the Devil. At all times they have been 
communicated to others, either by contagion or, in 
rare cases, by the imposition of hands, as they have 
been artificially produced. Thus extreme bodily fatigue 
and utter prostration after long illness are apt to cause 
hallucinations. Albert Smith, for instance, while as- 
cending Mont Blanc, and feeling utterly exhausted, saw 
all his surroundings clearly with his eyes, and yet, at 
the same time, beheld marvelous things with the so- 
called inner sense. A Swiss who, in 1848, during a 
severe cold, crossed from Wallis to Kandersteg by the 
famous Gemmi Pass, eight thousand feet high, saw on 
his way a number of men shoveling the snow from his 


path, fellow-travelers climbing up on all sides, and 
rolling masses of snow which changed into dogs; he 
heard the blows of axes and the laughing and singing 
of distant shepherds, while his road was utterly de- 
serted, and not a human soul within many miles. 
His hands and feet were found frozen when he arrived 
at last at his quarters for the night, and ten days later 
he died from the effects of his exposure. During the 
retreat of the French from Eussia the poor sufferers, 
frozen and famished, were continually tormented by 
similar hallucinations, which increased their sufferings 
at times to such a degree as to lead them to commit 
suicide. Another frequent cause of visions is long- 
continued fasting combined with more or less ascetic 
devotion. This is said to explain why the prophets of 
the Old Testament were so vigorously forbidden to in- 
dulge in wine or rich fare. Thus Aaron was told : 
" Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy 
sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle " (Levit. 
x. 9) ; Moses remained forty days, and " neither did eat 
bread nor drink wine," when he was on Mount Sinai 
(Deuter. ix. 9) ; the Nazarites were ordered not to 
" drink any liquor of grapes, nor to eat moist grapes or 
dried," and even to abstain from vinegar (Numbers vi. 
3), and Daniel and his companions had nothing but 
"pulse to eat and water to drink" (Dan. i. 12), in 
order to prepare them for receiving "wisdom and know- 
ledge and the understanding of dreams and visions." 
Narcotics also, and, in our day, most of the anaesthet- 

visions. 119 

ics can produce visions and hallucinations, but the 
result is in all such cases much less interesting than 
when they are produced spontaneously. Tobacco and 
opium, betel, hasheesh, and cocoa are the principal 
means employed ; but Siberia has besides its narcotic 
mushrooms, Polynesia its ava, New Granada and the 
Himalaya the thorn-apple, Florida its emetic apa- 
lachine, and the northern regions of America and 
Europe have their ledum. The most effective among 
these narcotics seems to be the Indian hemp, since the 
visions it produces surpass even the marvelous effects 
of opium, as has been recently again most graphically 
described by Bayard Taylor. Laughing-gas, also, has 
frequently similar effects, and affords, besides, the pre- 
cious privilege of freedom from the painful, often ex- 
cruciating consequences of other narcotics. When 
perfumes are employed for the express purpose of pro- 
ducing visions, it is difficult to ascertain how much is 
due to their influence, and how much to the over-ex- 
cited mind of the seer. Benvenuto Cellini describes — 
though probably not in the most trustworthy manner — 
the amazing effect produced upon himself and a boy by 
his side, by the perfumes which a priest burnt in the 
Coliseum. The whole vast building seemed to him 
filled with demons, and the boy saw thousands of 
threatening men, four huge giants, and fire bursting 
out in countless places. The great artist was told, at 
the same time, that a great danger was threatening 
him, and that he would surely lose his beloved Angelica 


within the month ; both events occurred as predicted, 
and thus proved that in this case at least magic phe- 
nomena had accompanied the visions. {Goethe, B. Cel- 
lini, L iv. ch. 2.) 

Among other external causes which are apt to pro- 
duce visions, must be mentioned violent motions, espe- 
cially when they are revolving, as is the case with the 
Shamans of the Laplanders and the dancing Dervishes 
of the East ; self-inflicted wounds, such as the priests 
of Baal caused in order to excite their power of divina- 
tion, and long-continued imprisonment, as illustrated in 
the well-known cases of Benvenuto Cellini and Silvio 
Pellico. The latter was constantly tormented by sighs 
or suppressed laughter which he heard in his dungeon ; 
then by invisible hands pulling at his dress, knocking 
down his books or trying to put out his light, till he 
began seriously to suspect that he might be the victim 
of invisible malignant powers. Fortunately all these 
phenomena disappeared at break of day, and thus his 
vigorous mind, supported by true piety, was enabled to 
keep his judgment uninjured. 

Diseases of every kind are a fruitful source of visions 
and some are rarely without them ; but the character 
of visions differs according to the nature of the aifec- 
tions. Persons who suffer with the liver have melan- 
choly, consumptive patients have cheerful visions. 
Epileptics often see fearful spectres during their par- 
oxysms, and persons bitten by mad dogs see the animal 
that has caused their sufferings. The case of the book- 


seller Nicolai in Berlin is well known ; the disease of 
which he suffered, is not only very common in some 
parts of Russia, but productive of precisely the same 
symptoms. The patients experience first a sensation 
of great despondency, followed by a period of profound 
melancholy, during which they see themselves sur- 
rounded by a number of persons, with whom they con- 
verse and quarrel, half conscious of their own delusion 
and yet not able to master it wholly. They are gen- 
erally bled, whereupon the images become transparent 
and shrink into smaller and smaller space, till they 
finally disappear entirely. Affections of the heart and 
the subsequent unequal distribution of the blood 
through the system are apt to produce peculiar sounds, 
which at times fashion themselves into loud and har- 
monious pieces. The excitement usually attendant 
upon specially fatal plagues and contagious diseases in- 
creases the tendency which the latter naturally have to 
cause hallucinations. During a plague in the reign of 
Justinian, men were seen walking through the crowd 
and touching here and there a person ; the latter were 
at once attacked by the disease and invariably suc- 
cumbed. Upon another such occasion marks and 
spots appeared on the clothing of those who had caught 
the contagion, as if made by invisible hands, the suf- 
ferers began next to see a number of spectres and died 
in a short time. The same symptoms have accompanied 
the cholera in modern times, and more than once 
strange, utterly unknown persons were not only seen 



but heard, as they were conversing with others; what 
they said was, written down in many cases, and proved 
to be predictions of approaching visits of the dread 
disease to neighboring houses. A magic power of fore- 
sight seems in these cases to be developed by the ex- 
treme excitement or deep anxiety, but the unconscious 
clairvoyance assumes the form of persons outside of 
their own mental sphere, within which they alone 

By far the most frequent causes of visions are, how- 
ever, those of psychical nature, like fixed ideas, intense 
passions, or deep-rooted prejudices, and concealed mis- 
deeds. When they are produced by such causes they 
have often the appearance of haying led fco the commis- 
sion of great crimes. Thus Julian the Apostate, who 
had caused the image of his guardian angel to be put 
upon all his coins and banners, naturally had this form 
deeply impressed upon his mind. In the night before 
a decisive battle, he saw, according to Ammianus 
Marcellinus, this protecting genius in the act of turn- 
ing away from him, and this vision made so deep an 
impression upon his mind that he interpreted it as an 
omen of his impending death. On the following day 
he fell in battle. The fearful penalty inflicted upon 
Charles IX. by his own conscience is well known ; 
after the massacre of St. Bartholomew he saw, by day 
and by night, the forms of his victims around him, till 
death made an end to his sufferings. On our own 
continent, one of the early conquerors gave a striking 


instance of the manner in which such visions are pro- 
duced. He was one of the adventurers who had 
reached Darien, and was on the point of plundering a 
temple ; but, a few days before, an Indian woman had 
told him that the treasures it held were guarded by evil 
spirits, and if he entered it the earth would open and 
swallow up the temple and the conquerors alike. Noth- 
ing daunted, he led his men to the attack ; but, as they 
came in sight, he suddenly saw, in the evening light, 
how the colossal building rocked to and fro as in a 
tempest, and thoroughly intimidated he rode away with 
his followers, leaving the temple and its treasures 
unharmed. That visions are apt to precede atrocious 
crimes is quite natural, since they are in such cases 
nothing but the product of the intense excitement 
under which murders are often committed; but, it 
would be absurd to look upon them as motive causes. 
Kavaillac had constant visions of angels, saints, and 
demons, while preparing his mind for the assassination 
of Henry IV., and the young student who attempted 
the murder of Napoleon at Schonbrunn repeatedly saw 
the genius of Germany, which appeared to him and 
encouraged him to free his country from the usurper. 
Persons who attempt to summon ghosts are very apt to 
see them, because their mind is highly wrought up by 
their proceedings and they confidently expect to have 
visions. But some men possess a similar power without 
making any special effort or peculiar preparations, their 
firm volition sufficing for the purpose. Thus Talma 


could at all times force himself to see, in the place of the 
actual audience before whom he was acting, an assembly 
of skeletons, and he is said never to have acted better 
than when he gave himself up to this hallucination. 
Painters, also, frequently have the power to summon 
before their mind's eye the features of those whose 
portrait they are painting; Blake, for instance, was 
able actually to finish likenesses from images he saw 
sitting in the chair where the real persons had been 

While visions are quite common, delusions of the 
other senses are less frequent. The insane alone hear 
strange conversations. Hallucinations of the taste 
cause patients to enjoy delightful dishes, or to partake 
of spoiled meat and other unpalatable viands, which 
have no existence. Sweet smells and incense are often 
perceived, bad odors much less frequently. The touch 
is of all senses the least likely to be deceived; still 
deranged people occasionally feel a slight touch as a 
severe blow, and persons suffering from certain diseases 
are convinced that ants, spiders, or other insects are 
running over their bodies. 

The favorite season of visions is night — mainly the 
hour about midnight — and in the whole year, the time of 
Advent, but also the nights from Christmas to New 
Year. This is, of course, not a feature of supernatural 
life, but the simple effect of the greater quiet and the 
more thoughtful, inward life, which these seasons are apt 
to bring to busy men. The reality of our surroundings 


disappears with the setting sun, and in deep night we 
are rendered almost wholly independent of the influence 
exercised in the day by friends, family, and even furni- 
ture. All standards of measurement, moreover, disap- 
pear, and we lose the correct estimate of both space 
and time. Turning our thoughts at such times with 
greater energy and perseverance inward, our imagina- 
tion has free scope, and countless images appear before 
our mind's eye which are not subject to the laws of real 
life. Darkness, stillness, and solitude, the three great 
features of midnight seasons, all favor the full activity 
of our fancy, and set criticism at defiance by denying 
us all means of comparison with real sounds or sights. 
At the same time, it is asserted, that under such circum- 
stances men are also better qualified to perceive mani- 
festations which, during the turbo, of daily life, are 
carelessly ignored or really imperceptible to the com- 
mon senses. So long as the intercourse with the world 
and its exigencies occupy all our thoughts, and self- 
interest makes us look fixedly only at some one great 
purpose of life, we are deaf and blind to all that does 
not clearly belong to this world. But when these de : 
mands are no longer made upon us, and especially when, 
as in the time of Advent, our thoughts are somewhat 
drawn from earthly natures, and our eyes are lifted 
heavenward, then we are enabled to give free scope to 
our instincts, or, if we prefer the real name, to the addi- 
tional sense by which we perceive intangible things. A 
comparison has often been drawn between the ability to 


see visions and our power to distinguish the stars. In 
the day, the brilliancy of the sun so far outshines the 
latter, that we see not a single one ; at night they step 
forth, as it were, from the dark, and the deeper the black- 
ness of the sky, the greater their own brightness. Are 
they, on that account, nothing more than creatures of 
our imagination, set free by night and darkness ? 

As for the favorite places where visions most fre- 
quently are seen, it seems that solitudes have already 
in ancient times always been looked upon as special 
resorts for evil spirits. The deserts of Asia, with their 
deep gullies and numerous caves, suggested a popula- 
tion of shy and weird beings, whom few saw and no one 
knew fully. Hence the fearful description of Babylon 
in her overthrow, when " Their houses shall be full of 
doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there and satyrs 
shall dance there." (Isaiah xiii. 21). The New Testa- 
ment speaks in like manner of the deserts of Palestine 
as the abode of evil spirits, and in later days the Faroe 
Islands were constantly referred to as peopled with 
weird and unearthly beings. The deserts of Africa are 
full of Djinns, and the vast plains of the East are peopled 
with w r eird apparitions. The solitudes of Norwegian 
mountain districts abound with gnomes and sprites, and 
waste places everywhere are no sooner abandoned by 
men than they are occupied by evil spirits and become 
the scenes of wild and gruesome visions. 

Well-authenticated cases of visions are recorded in 
unbroken succession from the times of antiquity to 

visions. 127 

our own day, and leave no doubt on the mind that 
they are not only of common occurrence among men, 
but generally, also, accompanied by magic phenomena 
of great importance. The ancients saw, of course, 
most frequently their gods ; the pagans, who had been 
converted to Christianity, their former idols threatening 
them with dire punishment ; and Christians, their 
saints and martyrs, their angels and demons. Thus all 
parties are supported by authorities in no way peculiar 
to one faith or another, but common to all humanity; 
and the battle is fought, for a time at least, between faith 
and faith, and between vision and vision. A famous 
rhetor, Aristides, who is mentioned in history as one of 
the mightiest champions polytheism ever has been able 
to raise against triumphant Christianity, saw, in his 
hours of exaltation, the great iEsculapius, who gave 
hiin directions how to carry on his warfare. At such 
times his public addresses became so attractive that 
thousands of enthusiastic hearers assembled to hang 
upon his lips. The story of the genius of Socrates is 
well known ; Aulus Gelling tells us how the great sage 
was seen standing motionless for twenty-four hours in 
the same place, before joining the expedition to Potidea, 
so absorbed in deep thought that it seemed as if his 
soul had left the body. Dion, Plato's most intimate 
friend, saw a huge Fury enter his house and sweep it with 
a broom ; a conspiracy broke out, and he was murdered, 
after having lost his only son a few days before. 
(Plutarch's "Life of Dion," 55.) The same Simonides, 


who according to Valerius Maximus (Be Somniis, 1. i. eh. 
5), had escaped from shipwreck by the timely warning 
of a spirit, was once dining at the magnificent house 
of Skopas at Cranon, in Thessaly, when a servant 
entered to inform him that two gigantic youths were 
standing at the door and wished to see him immediately. 
He went out and found no one there ; but, at the same 
moment, the roof and the walls of the dining-room fell 
down, burying all the guests under the ruins (Phaedrus' 
Fab., iv. 24). The ancients looked upon the vision, in 
both cases, as merely effects of the prophetic power of 
the poet, which saved him from immediate death ; once 
in the form of a spirit and the second time in the form 
of the Dioscuri. For, as Simonides had shortly before 
written a beautiful poem in honor of Castor and Pollux, 
his escape and the friendly warning were naturally 
attributed to the heroic youths, who constantly appear 
in history as protective genii. In Greece they were 
known to have fought, dressed in their purple cloaks 
and seated on snow-white horses, on the side of the 
Locri, and to have announced their victory on the same 
day in Olympia, and Sparta, in Corinth, and in Athens 
(Justin, ix. 3). In Home they were credited with the 
victory on the banks of Lake Regillus, and reported to 
have, as in Greece, dashed into the city, far ahead of all 
messengers, to proclaim the joyful news. During the 
Macedonian war they met Publius Vatinius on his way 
to Rome and informed him that, on the preceding day, 
iEmilius Paulus had captured Perseus. Delighted 

visions. 129 

with the news, the prefect hastens to the Senate; but is 
discredited and actually sent to jail on the charge of 
indulging in idle gossip, unworthy of his high office. 
It was only when at last messengers came from the 
distant army and confirmed the report of Perseus' 
captivity, that the unlucky prefect was set free again 
and honored with high rewards. 

In other cases the warning genius was seen in visions 
of different nature. Thus Hannibal was reported to 
have traced in his sleep the whole course and the 
success of all his plans, by the aid of his genius, who 
appeared to him in the shape of a child of marvelous 
beauty, sent by the great Jupiter himself to direct his 
movements, and to make him master of Italy. The 
child asked him to follow without turning to look 
back, but Hannibal, yielding to the innate tendency to 
covet forbidden fruit, looked behind him and saw an 
immense serpent overthrowing all impediments in his 
way. Then came a violent thunderstorm with fierce 
lightnings, which rent the strongest walls. Hannibal 
asked the meaning of these portents, and was told that 
the storm signified the total subjection of Italy, but 
that he must be silent and leave the rest to fate. That 
the vision was not fully realized, was naturally ascribed 
to his indiscretion. The genius of the two Consuls, P. 
Decius and Manlius Torquatus, assumed, on the con- 
trary, the shape of a huge phantom which appeared at 
night in their camp at the foot of Vesuvius, and an- 
nounced the decision that one leader must fall in order 



to make the army victorious. Upon the strength of 
this vision the two generals decided that he whose 
troops should first show signs of yielding, should seek 
death by advancing alone against the Latin army. 
The legions of Deeius, therefore, no sooner began to 
fall back, than he threw himself, sword in hand, upon 
the enemy, and not only died a glorious death for his 
country, but secured a brilliant victory to his brethren. 
At a later period a genius saved the life of Octavian, 
when he and Antony were encamped at Philippi, on 
the eve of the great battle against Brutus and Cassius. 
The vision appeared not to himself, however, but to 
another person, his own physician, Artorus, who, in a 
dream, was ordered to advise his master to appear on 
the battle-field in spite of his serious indisposition. 
Octavian followed the advice and went out, though he 
had to be carried by his men in a litter ; during his 
absence the soldiers of Brutus entered the camp and 
actually searched his tent, in which he would have 
perished inevitably without the timely warning. Of a 
very different nature was the vision of Cassius, the 
lieutenant of Antony, who, during his flight to 
Athens, saw at night a huge black phantom, which 
informed him that he was his evil spirit. In his terror 
he called his servants and inquired what they had seen, 
but they had noticed nothing. Thus tranquilized, he 
fell asleep again, but the phantom returned once more, 
and disturbed his mind so painfully that he remained 
awake the rest of the night, surrounded by his guards 


and slaves. The vision was afterwards interpreted as 
an omen of his impending violent death. 

The Emperor Trajan was saved from death during a 
fearful earthquake by a man of colossal proportions, 
who came to lead him out of his palace at Antioch; and 
Attila, who, to the surprise of the world, spared Rome 
and Italy at the request of Pope Leo the Great, men- 
tioned as the true motive of his action the appearance 
of a majestic old man in priestly garments, who had 
threatened him, drawing his sword, with instant death 
if he did not grant all that the Roman high-priest 
should demand. 

In other cases, which are as numerous as they are 
striking, the genius assumes the shape of a woman. 
Thus Dio Cassius (" Hist. Rome," 1. lv.). as well as Sue- 
tonius (" Claudius," 1. i), relate that when Drusus had 
ravaged Germany, and was on the point of crossing the 
Elbe, the formidable shape of a gigantic woman ap- 
peared to him, who waded up to the middle of the 
stream and then called out : " Whither, Drusus ? 
Canst thou put no limit to thy thirst of conquest ? 
Back ! the end of thy deeds and of thy life is at hand !" 
History records that Drusus fell back without apparent 
reason, and that he died before he reached the banks of 
the Rhine. Tacitus tells us, in like manner, a vision 
which encouraged Curtius Rufus at the time when he, 
a gladiator's son, and holding a most humble position, 
was accompanying a quaestor on his way to Africa. 
As he walked up and down a passage in deep medita- 


tion, a woman of unusual size appeared to him and 
said : " Thou, Kufus, shalt be proconsul of this prov- 
ince!" The young man, perhaps encouraged and 
supported by a vision which was the result of his own 
ambitious dreams, rose rapidly by his eminent ability, 
and after he had reached the consulate, really obtained 
the province of Africa (Ann., xi. 21). The younger 
Pliny, who tells the same story in his admirable letter 
to Sura on the subject of magic, adds that the genius 
appeared a second time to the great proconsul, but 
remained silent. The latter saw in this silence a warn- 
ing of approaching death, and prepared for his end, 
which did not fail soon to close his career. 

It is very striking to see how in these visions also the 
inner life of man was invariably clearly and distinctly 
reflected. The ambitious youth saw his good fortune 
personified in the shape of a beautiful woman, which 
his excited imagination called Africa, and which he 
hoped some time or other to call his own. Brutus, on 
the contrary, full of anticipations of evil, and suffering, 
and perhaps unconsciously, bitter remorse on account of 
Caesar's murder, saw his sad fate as a hideous demon. 
The army, also, sharing, no doubt, .their leader's dark 
apprehensions, looked upon the black ^Ethiopian who 
entered the camp as an evil omen. The appointed 
meeting at Philippi was merely an evidence of the su- 
perior ability of Brutus, who foresaw the probable 
course of the war and knew the great strategic impor- 
tance of the famous town. 


In the same manner a tradition was long cherished 
in Augsburg of a fanatic heroine on horseback, who 
appeared to Attila when he attempted to cross the river 
Lech on his way from Italy to Pannonia. She called 
out to him : " Back ! " and made a deep impression 
upon his mind. The picture of the giant woman was 
long preserved in a Minorite convent in the city, and 
was evidently German in features and in costume. It 
is by no means impossible that the lofty but supersti- 
tious mind of the ruthless conqueror, after having long 
busied itself with his approaching attack upon a 
mighty, unknown nation, personified to himself in a 
momentary trance the genius of that race in the shape 
of a majestic woman. 

This was all the more probable as Holy Writ also 
presents to us a whole series of mighty women who ex- 
ercised at times a lasting influence on the fate of the 
chosen people, and the world's history abounds with 
similar instances. There was Deborah, " a prophetess 
who judged Israel at that time," and went to aid in the 
defeat of Sisera, and there was Huldah, the prophetess, 
who warned Josiah, king of Judah. We have the same 
grand images in Greek and in Roman history, and Ger- 
man annals mention more than one Jettha and Velleda. 
The series of warnings given . by the more tender- 
hearted sex runs through the annals of modern races 
from the oldest times to our own day. One of the 
latest instances happened to a king well known for his 
sneering skepticism and his utter disbelief of all 


higher powers. This was Bernadotte, who forsook his 
benefactor in order to mount the throne of Sweden, 
and turned his own sword against his former master. 
Long years after the fall of Napoleon, he was on the 
point of sending his son Oscar with an army against 
Norway, and met with much opposition in the Council 
of State. Full of impatience and indignation, he 
mounted his horse and rode out to cool his heated 
mind ; as he approached a dark forest near Stockholm, 
he saw an old woman sitting by the wayside, whose 
quaint costume and wild, disheveled hair attracted his 
attention. He asked her roughly what she was doing 
there? Her reply was: "If Oscar goes into the war 
which you propose, he will not strike but receive the 
first blow." The king was impressed by the warning 
and returned, full of thoughts, to his palace ; after a 
sleepless night he informed the Council of State that 
he had changed his views, and would not send the 
prince to Norway {La Presse, May 4, 1844). Even if 
we accept the interview with the woman as a mere 
vision, the effect of the king's long and anxious pre- 
occupation with an important plan upon the success of 
which the security of his throne and the continuation 
of his dynasty might depend, the question still remains, 
why a man of his tastes and haughty skepticism should 
have clothed his doubts in words uttered by an old wo- 
man, dressed in fancy costume ? 

The number of practical, sensible men who have, 
even in recent times, believed themselves under the 


special care and protection of a gen ins or guardian 
angel, is mncli larger than is commonly known. The 
ancients looked upon a genius as a part of their mythol- 
ogy ; and modern Christians, who cherish this belief, 
refer to the fact that the Saviour said of little children : 
" In heaven their angels do always behold the face of 
my Father * (Matt, xviii. 10). These visions — for so 
they must be called — vary greatly in different persons. 
To some men they appear only when great dangers are 
threatening or sublime efforts have to be made ; while 
in others, they assume, by their frequency, a more or 
less permanent form, and may even be inherited, becom- 
ing tutelary deities of certain houses, familiar spirits, or 
specially appointed guardian angels of the members of 
a family or single individuals. Hence, the well-known 
accounts of the genius of Socrates and the familiar 
spirits of the Bible, in ancient times. Hence, also, the 
almost uninterrupted line of similar accounts through 
the Middle Ages down to our own day. Thus, Campanella 
stated that whenever he was threatened with misfor- 
tune, he fell into a state half way between waking and 
sleeping, in which he heard a voice say : " Campanella ! 
Campanella ! " and several other words, without ever 
seeing a person. Calignan, Chancelor of Navarre, 
heard in, Beam, his name called three times, and then 
received a warning from the same voice to leave the 
town promptly, as the plague was to rage there fear- 
fully. He obeyed the order, and escaped the ravages of 
the terrible disease (Beaumont, " Tractat.," etc., p. 208). 


The Jesuit Giovanni Carrera had a protecting genius, 
whom he frequently consulted in cases of special diffi- 
culty. He became so familiar with him, that he had 
himself waked -every night for his prayers, but when at 
times he hesitated to rise at once, the spirit abandoned 
him for a time, and Carrera could only induce him to 
come back by long-continued praying and fasting 
("Hist. S. J.,"iii. p. 177). 

The Bernadottes had a tradition that one of their an- 
cestors had married a fairy, who remained the good gen- 
ius of the family, and long since had predicted that one 
of that blood would mount a throne. ' The Bernadotte 
who became a king never forgot the prophecy, and was 
largely influenced by it, when the Swedish nobles offer- 
ed him the throne. It is well known that Napoleon 
himself either believed, or affected to believe, in a good 
genius, who guided his steps and protected him from 
danger. He appeared, according to his own statements, 
sometimes in the shape of a ball of fire, which he called 
his "star," or as a man dressed in red, who paid him 
occasional visits. General Eapp relates that, in the year 
1806, he once found the Emperor in his room, appar- 
ently absorbed in such deep meditation that he did not 
notice his entrance, but that, when fairly aroused, he 
seized Jlapp by the arm and asked him if saw that star ? 
When the latter replied that he saw nothing, Napoleon 
continued: "It is my star; it is standing just above 
you. It has never forsaken me ; I see it on all impor- 
tant occasions ; it orders me to go on, and has always 

visions. 137 

been a token of success. The story, coming from Gen- 
eral Eapp himself, is quoted here as endorsed by the 
great historian, Amedee Thierry. 

Des Mousseaux reports the following facts upon the 
evidence of trustworthy personal friends. {La Magie, etc., 
p. 366.) A Mme. 1ST., the daughter of a general, w T as con- 
stantly visited by her mother, w r ho had died long ago, 
and received from her frequent information of secret 
things, which procured for herself the reputation of 
being a prophetess. At one time her mothers spirit 
warned her to try and prevent her husband, who would 
die by suicide, from carrying out his purpose. Every 
precaution was taken, and even the knives and forks 
were removed after meals ; but it so happened that a 
soldier of the National Guard came into the house and 
left his loaded gun in an anteroom. The lady's hus- 
band unfortunately chanced to see it, took it and blew 
his brains out on the spot. 

A peculiarly interesting class of visions are those to 
which great artists have, at times, owed their greatest 
triumphs. Here, also, the line between mere delusion 
and real magic phenomena is often so faint as to escape 
attention. For artists must needs cultivate their im- 
agination at the expense of other faculties, and naturally 
live more in an ideal world than in a real world. Pre- 
occupied as they are, by the nature of their pursuits, 
with images of more than earthly beauty, they come 
easily to form ideals in their minds, which they en- 
deavor to fix first upon their memory, and then upon 


canvas or in marble, on paper or in rapturous words. 
Kaphael Sanzio had long in vain tried to portray the 
Holy Virgin according to a vague ideal in his mind ; at 
last he awoke one night and saw in the place where his 
sketch was hanging a bright light, and in the radiance 
the Mother of Christ in matchless- beaut} 7 , and with 
supernatural holiness in her features. The vision re- 
mained deeply impressed upon his mind, and was ever 
after the original of which even his best Madonnas 
could only be imperfect copies. Benvenuto Cellini, 
when sick unto death, repeatedly saw an old man 
trying to pull him down into his boat, but as soon as 
his faithful servant came and touched him, the hideous 
vision disappeared. The artist had evidently a picture 
of Charon and his Acherontic boat in his mind, which 
was thus reproduced in his feverish dreams. On 
another occasion, when he had long been in prison, and 
in despair contemplated suicide, an " unknown being " 
suddenly seized him and hurled him back to a distance 
of four yards, where he remained lying for hours half 
dead. In the following night a " fair youth " appeared 
to him and made him bitter reproaches on account of 
his sinful purpose. The same youthful genius appeared 
to him repeatedly when a great crisis approached in his 
marvelously adventurous life, and more than once 
revealed to him the mysteries of the future. (Goethe's 
" Benv. Cell." i. p. 375.) Poor Tasso had fearful hallu- 
cinations during the time when his mind was dis- 
ordered, but above them all hovered, as it were, the 


vision of a glorious Virgin surrounded by a bright light, 
which always comforted and probably alone saved him 
from self-destruction. Like Baphael, Dannecker also 
had long tried in vain to find perfect expression for his 
ideal of a Christ on the Cross; one night, however, he 
also saw the Saviour in a dream, and at once proceeded 
to form his model, from which was afterwards copied 
the well-known statue of transcendent beauty and 

Paganini used to tell with an amusing air of assumed 
awe and reverence, that his mother had seen, a few 
days before his birth, an angel with two wings and of 
such dazzling splendor that she could not bear to look 
at the apparition. The heavenly messenger invited her 
to express a wish, and promised that it should be ful- 
filled. Thereupon she begged him on her knees to 
make her Nicolo a great violinist, and was told that it 
should be so. The vision — perhaps nothing more than 
a vivid form of earnest desire and fervent prayer — had, 
no doubt, a serious influence on the great artist, who 
was himself strangely susceptible to such impressions. 
(Moniteur, Sept. 30, 1860.) 

Nothing can here be said, according to the purpose 
of these sketches, of the long series of visions vouch- 
safed to martyrs and saints; their history belongs to 
theology. But holy men have, independent of their 
religious convictions, often been as famous for their 
visions as for the piety of their hearts, and their 
achievements in the world. Loyola, for instance, with 


his faculties perpetually strained to the utmost, and 
with his thoughts bent forever upon a grand and holy 
aim, could not well fail to rise to a state of psychic 
excitement which naturally produced impressive visions. 
Hence he continually saw strange sights and heard 
mysterious voices, the effect now of extreme despon- 
dency and now of restored confidence in God and in 
himself as the agent of the Most High. And yet these 
visions never interfered with the clearness of his judg- 
ment nor with his promptness and energy in acting. 
Luther, also, one of the most practical men ever called 
upon to act and to lead in a great crisis, had visions; 
he saw the Devil and held loud discussions with him ; 
he suffered by his persecutions, and made great efforts 
to rid himself of his unwelcome guest, while engaged 
in his great work, the translation of the Bible. For he 
was, after all — and for very great and good purposes — 
only a man of his age, imbued with the universal 
belief in the personal existence and constant presence 
of Satan, and felt, at the same time, that he was en- 
gaged in a warfare upon the results of which depended 
not only the earthly welfare, but the eternal salvation 
of millions. 

It is difficult to say whether Mohammed, who had 
undoubtedly visions innumerable, received any aid from 
his hallucinations in devising his new faith. Men of sci- 
ence tell us that he suffered of Hysteria muscidaris, a dis- 
ease not uncommon in men as well as in women, which 
produces periodical paroxysms and is characterized by 


an alternate contraction and expansion of the muscles. 
When the attack came the prophet's lips and tongue 
would begin to vibrate, his eyes turned up, and the head 
moved automatically. If the paroxysms were very vio- 
lent he fell to the ground, his face turned purple, and 
he breathed with difficulty. As he frequently retained 
his consciousness he pretended that these symptoms 
were caused by angels' visits, and each attack was fol- 
lowed by a new revelation. The disease was the result 
of his early lawless life and of the freedom which he 
claimed, even in later years — pleading a special dispensa- 
tion from on high as a divinely inspired prophet. It is 
not to be wondered at that the new religion, springing 
from such a source, and proclaimed amid the mountains 
and steppes of Arabia, which, according to popular be- 
lief, are all alive with djinns and demons, should be 
largely based upon visions and hallucinations. 

The important part which visions hold in the history 
of the various religions of the earth lies beyond our 
present purpose ; we know, however, that the records 
of ancient temples, of prophets, saints, and martyrs, and 
of later convents and churches, abound with instances 
of such so-called revelations from on high. They have 
more than once served at critical times to excite indi- 
viduals and whole nations to make sublime efforts. 
One of the best known cases of the former class is that 
of Con stan tine the Great, who told Eusebius of Caesa- 
rea, affirming his statement with a solemn oath, that he 
saw in 312, shortly before the decisive battle at Eome 


against his formidable adversary Magentius, a bright 
cross in the heavens, surrounded by the words: In hoc 
signo vinces. But this vision stood by no means alone. 
He himself beheld, besides, in a dream during the fol- 
lowing night, the Saviour, who ordered him to use in 
battle henceforth a banner like that which he had seen 
in his vision. Nazarius, a pagan, also speaks of a num- 
ber of marvelous signs in the heavens seen iu Gaul im- 
mediately before the emperor's great victory. Nor can 
it be doubted that this vision not only inspired Con- 
stantine with new hopes and new courage, enabling 
him to secure his triumph, but also induced him, after 
his success, to avow himself openly a convert to the 
faith of Christ. 

The visions of that eminent man Swedenborg are 
too well known to require here more than a mere allu- 
sion. Beginning his intercourse with the supernatural 
world at the ripe age of forty-five, he soon gave himself 
up to it systematically, and felt compelled to make his 
daily conversations, as well as the revelations he re- 
ceived from time to time, duly known to the public. 
Thus he wrote with an evident air of firm conviction : 
" I had recently a conference with the Apostle Paul ; " 
and at another time he assured a Wurtemberg prelate, 
" I have conferred with St. Paul for a whole year, espe- 
cially about the words in Romans iii. 28. Three times 
I have conversed with St. John, once with Moses, and 
a hundred times with Luther, when the latter con- 
fessed that he had taught fidem solam contrary to the 


warning of an angel, and that he had stood alone when 
renouncing the pope. With an gels, finally, I have 
held constant intercourse for the last twenty years, and 
still hold daily conversations." 

Classic as well as Christian art. is indebted to visions 
for more than one signal success. On the other hand, 
" have as frequently been made to serve vile purposes, 
mainly by feeding superstition and supporting religious 
tyranny. TV"e need only recall the terrible calamity 
caused by a wretched shepherd boy in France, who, in 
1213, saw, or pretended to see, heavenly visions, order- 
ing him to enlist his comrades, and with their aid, to 
rescue the Holy Land from the possession of infidels. 
Thousands of little children were seized by the conta- 
gious excitement, and leaving their home and their 
kindred, followed their youthful leader, unchecked by 
the authorities, because of the interpretation applied to 
the words of Jesus : " Suffer little children to come unto 
Me ! " Xot one of them ever reached Palestine, as all 
perished long before they had reached even Southern 

It is not exactly a magic phenomenon, but certainly 
a most startling feature in visions, that the minds of 
many men should be able, by their own volition, to cre- 
ate images and forms so perfectly like those existing in 
the world around us, that the same minds are incapable 
of distinguishing where hallucination and reality touch 
each other. This faculty varies, of course, as much as 
other endowments: sometimes it produces nothing but 


vague, shapeless lights or sounds ; in other persons it is 
capable of calling up well-defined forms, and of causing 
even words to be heard and pain to be inflicted. Dur- 
ing severe suffering in body or soul, it may become a 
comforter, and in the moment of passing through the 
valley of the shadow of death, it is apt to soothe the 
anguish, by visions of heavenly bliss, but to an evil con- 
science it may also appear as an avenger, by prefiguring 
impending judgment and condemnation. It is this in- 
fluence on the lives of men, and their great moral im- 
portance, which lends to visions — and in a certain degree 
even to hallucinations — additional interest, and makes 
it our duty not to set them aside as mere idle phantoms, 
but to try to ascertain their true nature and final pur- 
pose. This is all the more necessary, as in our day vis- 
ions are considered purely the offspring of the seer's own 
mental activity, a truth abundantly proven by the sim- 
ple fact that blind or deaf people are quite as capable of 
having visions and hallucinations, as those who have 
the use of all their senses. 

Thus these magic phenomena have, in an unbroken 
chain, accompanied almost all the great men who are 
known to history, from the earliest time to our own 
day. In modern times they have often been success- 
fully traced to bodily and mental disorders; but this 
fact diminishes in no way the interest which they have 
for the student of magic. The great Pascal, who was 
once threatened with instant death by the upsetting of 
his carriage, henceforth saw perpetually an abyss by his 


side, from which fiery flames issued forth ; he could 
conceal it by simply placing a chair or a table between 
it and his eyes. In the case of the English painter 
Blake, who had visions of historic personages which 
appeared to him in idealized outlines, his periodical 
aberrations of mind were accepted as sufficient expla- 
nation. The bookseller Nicolai, of Berlin, on the con- 
trary, who, like Beaumont, saw hundreds of men, 
women, and children accompanying him in his walks 
or visiting him in his chamber, found his ghostly 
company dependent on the state of his health. When 
he was bled or when leeches were applied, the images 
grew pale, and disappeared in part or dissolved entirely. 
A peculiarity of his case was, that he never saw visions 
in the dark, but all his phantasms appeared in broad 
daylight, or at night when candles had been brought 
in or a large fire was burning in the fireplace. Captain 
Henry Bell had been repeatedly urged by a German 
friend of his, Caspar von Sparr, to translate the Table- 
talk of Martin Luther, which, having been suppressed by 
an edict of the Emperor Rudolphus, had become very 
rare, and of which Sparr had sent him a copy, discovered 
by himself in a cellar where it had lain buried for fifty- 
two years. Captain Bell commenced the work ; but 
abandoned it after a little while. A few weeks later a 
white-haired old man appeared to him at night, pulling 
his ear and saying : " What ! will you not take time to 
translate the book ? I will give you soon a place for it 
and the necessary leisure." Bell was much startled ; 



but nevertheless neglected the work. A fortnight after 
the vision he was arrested and lodged in the gate-house 
of Westminster, where he remained for ten years, of 
which he spent five in the translation of the work. 
(Beaumont, " Tractat.," p. 72.) Even religious visions 
have by no means ceased in modern times, and more 
than one remarkable conversion is ascribed to such 
agency. "We do not speak of so-called miracles like 
that of the children of Salette in the department of 
the Isere, in 1849, or the recent revelations at Lourdes, 
and in Southern Alsace, which were publicly endorsed 
by leading men of the church, and have furnished rich 
material even for political demonstrations. The vision 
of Major Gardiner, also, who, just before committing a 
sinful action, beheld the Saviour aud became a changed 
man, has been so often published and so thoroughly 
discussed that it need not be repeated here. The con- 
version of young Eatisbone, in 1843, created at the 
time an immense sensation. He was born of Jewish 
parents, but, like only too many of his race, grew up to 
become a freethinker and a scoffer, rejecting all faiths 
as idle superstitions. One day he strolled into the 
church Delle Fratte in Rome, and while sunk in deep 
meditation, suddenly beheld a vision of the Virgin 
Mary, which made so deep an impression upon him 
that it changed the whole tenor of his life. He gave 
up the great wealth to which he had fallen heir, he 
renounced a lovely betrothed, and resolutely turning 
his back upon the world, he entered, as a novice, into a 


Jesuit convent ; thus literally forsaking all in order to 
follow Christ. 

The magic phenomena accompanying visions, have, 
among nations of the Sclavic race, not unfrequently a 
specially formidable and repellent character, corre- 
sponding, no doubt, with the temperament and turn of 
imagination peculiar to that race. The Sclaves are apt 
to be ridden by invisible men, till they drop down in a 
swoon ; they are driven by wild beasts to the graves of 
criminals, where they behold fearful sights, or they are 
forced to mingle with troops of evil spirits roving over 
the wide, waste steppes, and they invariably suffer from 
the sad effects of such visions, till a premature death 
relieves them after a few months. In Wallachia a 
special vision of the so-called Pickolitch is quite com- 
mon, and has, in one case at least, been officially re- 
corded by military authorities. A poor private soldier, 
who had already more than once suffered from visions, 
was ordered to stand guard in a lonely mountain pass, 
and forced by the rules of the service to take his place 
there, although he begged hard to be allowed to ex- 
change with a brother soldier, as he knew he would 
come to grief. The officer in command, struck by the 
earnestness of his prayer, promised to lend him all 
possible assistance, and placed a second sentinel for his 
support close behind him. At half past ten o'clock 
the officer and a high civil functionary saw a dark 
figure rush by the house in which they were ; they 
hastened at once to the post, where two shots had 


fallen in rapid succession, and found the inner sentinel, 
the still smoking rifle in hand, staring fixedly at the 
place where his comrade had stood, and utterly uncon- 
scious of the approach of his superior. When they 
reached the outer post they found the rifle on the 
ground, shattered to, pieces, and the heavy barrel bent 
in the shape of a scythe, while the man himself lay at a 
considerable distance, groaning with pain, for his whole 
body was so severely burnt that he died on the follow- 
ing day. The survivor stated that a black figure had 
fallen, as if from heaven, upon his comrade and torn 
him to pieces in spite of the two shots he had fired at 
it from a short distance, then it had vanished again in 
an instant. The matter was duly reported to head- 
quarters, and when an investigation was ordered, the 
fact was discovered that a number of precisely similar 
occurrences had already been officially recorded. The 
vision is, of course, nothing more than a product of the 
excited imagination of the mountaineers, who lend the 
favorite shape of a " Pickolitch " to the frequent, bizarre- 
looking masses of fog and mist which rise in their dark 
valleys, hover over gullies and abysses, and driven by a 
sudden current of wind, fly upward with amazing 
rapidity, and thus seem to disappear in an instant. 
The apprehension of the poor sentinel, on the other 
hand, was a kind of clairvoyance produced by the com- 
bined influence of local tradition, the nightly hour and 
the dark pass, upon a previously-excited mind, while 
the vision of the two officers was a similar magic phe- 

VISIONS. 14 9 

nomena, the result of the impressions made upon them 
by the instant prayer of the victim, and a hot discus- 
sion about the reality of the "Prikolitch." The sen- 
tinel probably saw a weird shape and fired ; the gun 
burst and killed him outright, setting fire to his clothes, 
a supposition strengthened by the statement that the 
poor fellow, anticipating a meeting with the spectre, 
had put a double charge into his rifle. The accident 
teaches once more that a mere denial of facts and a 
haughty smile at the idea of visions profit us nothing, 
while a calm and careful examination of all the cir- 
cumstances may throw much light upon their nature, 
and help, in the course of time, to extirpate fatal 
superstitions, like those of the " Prikolitch." 

It is interesting to see how harmless and even 
pleasant are, in comparison, the visions of men with 
well-trained minds and kindly dispositions. The book- 
seller Xicolai entertained his phantom-guests, and was 
much amused, at times, by their conversation. Mac- 
nish ("Sleep," p. 194) tells us the same of Dr. Bostock, 
who had frequent visions, and of an elderly lady whom 
Dr. Alderson treated for gout, and w T ho received friendly 
visits from kinsmen and acquaintances with whom she 
conversed, but who disappeared instantly when she 
rang for her maid. Another patient of Dr. Alderson's, 
who saw himself in the same manner surrounded by 
numbers of persons, even felt the blows which a phan- 
tom-carter gave him with his whip. Although in all 
these cases the visions disappeared after energetic 

150 mode'rn magic. 

bleeding and purging, the phenomena were neverthe- 
less real as far as they affected the patient, and have in 
every instance been fully authenticated and scientific- 
ally investigated. The well-known author, Macnish, 
himself was frequently a victim of this kind of self- 
delusion ; he saw during an attack of fever fearful 
hellish shapes, forming and dissolving at pleasure, and 
during one night he beheld a whole theatre filled with 
people, among whom he recognized many friends and 
acquaintances, while on the stage he saw the famous 
Ducrow with his horses. As soon as he opened his 
eyes the scene disappeared, but the music continued, 
for the orchestra played a magnificent march from 
Aladdin, and did not cease its magic performance for 
five hours. The vision of the eye seems thus to have 
been under the influence of his will, but his hearing 
was beyond his control. 

A very interesting class of visions accompanied by 
undoubted magic phenomena, and as frequent in our 
day as at any previous period, is formed by those which 
are the result of climatic and topographic peculiari- 
ties. We have already stated that the peculiar impres- 
sion made upon predisposed minds by vast deserts and 
boundless wastes is frequently ascribed, by the super- 
stitious dwellers near such localities, to the influence 
of evil spirits. Such a vision is the Ragl of Northern 
Africa, which occurs either after fatiguing journeys 
through the dry, hot desert, in consequence of great 
nervous excitement, or as one of the symptoms of 

VISIONS. ] 5 1 

typhoid fever in native patients. Seeing and hearing 
are alike affected, the other senses only in rare cases. 
Ordinarily the eye sees everything immensely magni- 
fied or oddly changed ; pebbles become huge blocks of 
stone, faint tracks in the hot sand change into broad 
causeways or ample meadows, and distant shadows ap- 
pear as animals, wells, or mountain-dells. If the moon 
rises the vision increases in size and distinctness ; the 
scene becomes animated, men pass by, camels follow 
each other in long lines, and troops are marching past 
in battalions. Then the ear also begins to succumb to 
the charm; the rustling of dry leaves becomes the 
sweet song of numerous birds; the wind changes into 
cries of despair, and the noise of falling sand into dis- 
tant thunder. The brain remains apparently unaf- 
fected, for travelers suffering of the Eagl are able to 
make notes and record the symptoms, although the 
note-book looks to them like a huge album with costly 
engravings. There can be little doubt that the great 
afflux of blood to the eyes and the ears is the first cause 
of these phenomena, but the peculiar nature of the 
visions remains still a mystery. One striking peculi- 
arity is their unvarying identity in men of the same 
race and culture ; Europeans . have their own halluci- 
nations which are not shared by Africans ; the former 
see churches, houses, aud carriages, the latter mosques, 
tents, and camels, thus proving here also the fact that 
these delusions of the senses are produced in the mind 
and not in the outer world. Travelers who suffer from 


hunger or from the dread effects of the simoon are 
naturally more subject to the Eagl than others; the 
visions generally appear towards midnight and continue 
till six or seven o'clock in the morning, while during 
the day they are only seen in cases of aggravated suf- 
fering. Another peculiarity is the fact that these 
visions connect themselves only with small objects and 
moderate sounds ; the gentle friction of a vibrating 
tassel on his camel's neck appeared to the great ex- 
plorer Eichardson like the clacking of a mill-wheel, but 
the words shouted by his companion sounded quite nat- 
ural. Thus he saw in every little lichen a green gar- 
den spot, but the stars he discerned distinctly enough 
to direct his way by them even when suffering most in- 
tensely from the Eagl. 

The Fata Morgana of the so-called Great Desert in 
Oregon, in which the waters of the Paducah, Kansas, 
and Arkansas lose themselves to a great extent, is a 
kindred affection. Here also phantoms of every kind 
are seen, gigantic horsemen, colossal buildings, and 
flitting fires ; but the absence of heat makes the visions 
less frequent and less distinct. The Indians, however, 
like the Moors of Africa, dread these apparitions and 
ascribe them to evil spirits. These phenomena have be- 
sides a special interest, by proving how constantly in all 
these questions of modern magic facts are combined with 
mere delusions. The flitting fires, to which we alluded, 
for instance, are not mere visions, but real and tangible 
Hiibsfances, the effect of gaseous effusions which are 


quite frequent on these steppes. So it is also with the 
local visions peculiar to mountain regions, like the Lit- 
tle Gray Man of the Grisons in Switzerland and the 
gnomes of miners in almost all lands. The dwellers in 
Alpine regions acquire — or even inherit, it may be — a 
peculiar power of divination with regard to the weath- 
er; they feel instinctively, and without ever giving 
themselves the trouble of trying to ascertain the rea- 
son, the approach of fogs and mists, so dangerous to 
the welfare of their herds and their own safety. This 
presentiment is clothed by local traditions and their 
own vivid imaginations in the familiar shape of super- 
natural beings, and what was at first perhaps merely a 
form of speech, has gradually become a deep-rooted be- 
lief handed down from father to son. They end by 
really seeing — with their mind's eye — the rising mists 
and drifting fogs in the shape which they have so often 
heard mentioned, or give to rising gases, far down in 
the bowels of the earth, the form of familiar gnomes. 
These visions are hence not altogether produced by the 
imagination, but have, so to say, a grain of truth around 
which the weird form is woven. 

A numerous class of visions, presenting some of the 
most interesting phenomena of this branch of magic, 
must be looked upon as the result of the innate desire 
to fathom the mystery of fnture life. The human 
heart, conscious of immortality by nature and assured 
of it by revelation, desires ardently to lift the ?eil which 
conceals the secrets of the life to come. Among other 


means to accomplish this, the promise has often been 
exacted of dear friends, that they would, after death, 
return and make known their condition in the other 
world. Such compacts have been made from time 
immemorial — but so far their only result has been that 
the survivors have believed occasionally that they have 
received visits from deceased friends — in other words, 
that their state of great excitement and eager expectation 
has caused them to have visions. It remains true, after 
all, that from that bourne no traveler ever returns. 
Nevertheless, these visions have a deep interest for the 
psychologist, as they are the result of unconscious 
action, and thus display what thoughts dwell in our 
innermost heart concerning the future. 


u Sunt aliquid manes ; letum non omnia finit." 

There are few subjects, outside of the vexed ques- 
tions of Theology, on which eminent men of all nations 
and ages have held more varied views than so-called 
ghosts. The very term has been understood differently 
by almost every great writer who has approached the 
boundary line of this department of magic. The word 
which is now commonly used in order to designate any 
immaterial being, not made of the earth, earthy, or 
perhaps, in a higher sense,_ the " body spiritual " of St. 
Paul, was in the early days of Christianity applied to 
the visible spirits of deceased persons only. In the 
Middle Ages again, when everything weird and un- 
natural was unhesitatingly ascribed to diabolic agency, 
these phenomena, also, were regarded as nothing else 
but the Devil's work. Theologians have added in 
recent days a new subject of controversy to this vexed 
matter. The divines of the seventeenth and eighteenth 
century denied, of course, the possibility of a reappear- 
ance of the spirits of the departed, as they" were in 
consistency bound to deny the existence of a purgatory, 
and yet, from purgatory alone were these spirits, accord- 


ing to popular belief, allowed to revisit the earth — heaven 
and hell being comparatively closed places. As the 
people insisted upon seeing ghosts, however, there 
remained nothing but to declare them to be delusions 
produced for malign purposes by the Evil One himself; 
and so decided, not many generations ago, the Con- 
sistory of Basle in an appeal made by a German mystic 
author, Jung Stilling. And yet it is evident that a 
number of eminent thinkers, and not a few of the most 
skeptic philosophers even, have believed in the occur- 
rence of such visits by inmates of Slieol. Hugo Grotius 
and Puffendorf, whose far-famed worldly wisdom entitles 
their views to great respect, Machiavelli and Boccaccio, 
Thomasius and even Kant, all have repeatedly admitted 
the existence of what we familiarly call ghosts. The 
great philosopher of Konigsberg enters fully into the 
subject. "Immaterial beings," he says, "including 
the souls of men and animals, may exist, though they 
must be considered as not filling space but only acting 
within the limits of space." He admits the probability 
that ere long the process will be discovered, by which 
the human soul, even in this life, is closely connected 
with the immaterial inmates of the world of spirits, a 
connection which he states to be operative in both 
directions, men affecting spirits and spirits acting upon 
men, though the latter are unconscious of such impres- 
sions " as long as all is well." In the same manner in 
which the physical world is under the control of a law 
of gravity, he believes the spiritual world to be ruled by 

GHOSTS. 157 

a moral law, which causes a distinction between good 
and evil spirits. The same belief is entertained and 
full}' discussed by French authors of eminence, such as 
Des Mousseaux, De Mirville, and others. The Catholic 
church has never absolutely denied the doctrine of 
ghosts, perhaps considering itself bound by the biblical 
statement that "the graves were opened and many 
bodies of the saints which slept, arose and came out of 
the graves and went into the holy city and appeared unto 
many." (St. Matt, xxvii. 52.) Tertullian, St. Augustine, 
and Thomas de Aquinas, all state distinctly, as a dogma, 
that the souls of the departed can leave their home, 
though not at will, but only by special permission of 
the Almighty. St. Augustine mentions saints by whom 
he was visited, and Thomas de Aquinas speaks even of 
the return of accursed inmates of hell, for the purpose of 
terrifying and converting criminals in this world. The 
"Encyclopedia of Catholic Theology" (iv. p. 489) states 
that " although the theory of ghosts has never become 
a dogma of the Holy Church, it has ever maintained 
itself, and existed in the days of Christ, who did not 
condemn it, when it was mentioned in his presence." 
(St, Matt. xiv. 26 ; St. Luke xxiv. 37.) 

Calmet, the well-known Benedictine Abbot, of Senon, 
in Lorraine, who was one of the most renowned theo- 
logical writers of the eighteenth century, says (i. 17) : 
" Apparitions of ghosts would be more readily under- 
stood if spirits had a body ; but the Holy Church has de- 
cided that angels, devils and the spirits of the departed 


are pure immaterial spirits. Since this question tran- 
scends our mental faculties, we must submit to the 
judgment of the Church, which cannot err." Another 
great theologian, the German Bengel, on the contrary, 
assumed that "probably the apparitions of the departed 
have a prescribed limit and then cease ; they continue 
probably as long as all the ties between body and soul 
are not fully dissolved." This question of the nature 
of our existence during the time immediately following 
death, is, it is well known, one of the most vexed of our 
day, for while most divines of the Protestant Church 
assume an immediate decision of our eternal fate, others 
admit the probability of an intermediate state, and the 
Catholic Church has its well-known probationary state 
in purgatory. It may as well be stated here at once 
that the whole theory of ghosts is admissible only if we 
assume that there follows after death a period during 
which the soul undergoes, not an immediate rupture, 
but a slow, gradual separation from its body, accom- 
panied by a similar gradual adaptation to its new mode 
of existence. Whether the spirit, during this time, 
is still sufficiently -akin to earthy substances to be able 
to clothe itself into some material perceptible to the 
senses of living men, is of comparatively little impor- 
tance. The idea of such an " ethereal body " is very 
old, and has never ceased to be entertained. Thus, in 
1306, already Guido de la Tones, who died in Verona, 
appeared during eight days to his wife, his neighbors, 
and a number of devout priests, and declared in 

GHOSTS. 150 

answer to their questions that the spirits of the de- 
parted possessed the power to clothe themselves with 
air, and thus to become perceptible to living beings. 
Bayle also, in his article on Spinoza (note 2), advo- 
cates the possibility, at least, of physical effects being- 
produced by agents whose presence we are not able to 
perceive by the use of our ordinary senses. Even so 
eminently practical a mind as Lessing's was bewildered 
by the difficulties surrounding this question, and he 
declared that " here his wits were at an end/' 

Another great German writer, Goerres, in his " Chris- 
tian Mystic " (iii. p. 307), not only admits the existence 
of ghosts, but explains them as " the higher prototypal 
form of man freed from the earthy form, the spectrum 
relieved of its envelope, which can be present wherever 
it chooses within the prescribed limits of its domain." 
This view is, however,, not supported by the experience 
of those who believe they have seen ghosts; for the 
latter appear only occasionally in a higher, purified 
form, resembling ethereal beings, as a mere whitish 
vapor or a shape formed of faint light ; by far more 
generally they are seen in the form and even the cos- 
tume of their earthy existence. The only evidence of 
really supernatural or magic powers accompanying 
such phenomena consists in the ineffable dread which is 
apt to oppress the heart and to cause intense bodily suf- 
fering ; in the cold chill which invariably precedes the 
apparition, and in the profound and exquisitely painful 
emotion which is never again forgotten throughout life. 


As yet, the subject has been so little studied by can- 
did inquiries, that there are but a few facts which can 
be mentioned as fully established. The form and shape 
under which ghosts appear, are the result of the imagi- 
nation of the ghost seer only, whether he beholds angels 
or devils, men or animals. If his receptive power is 
highly developed, he will see them in their completeness, 
and discern even the minutest details ; weak persons, 
on the other hand, perceive nothing more than a faint, 
luminous or whitish appearance, mere fragmentary and 
embryonic visions. These powers of perception may, 
however, be improved by practice, and those who see 
ghosts frequently, are sure to discover one feature after 
another, until the whole form stands clearly and dis- 
tinctly before their mind's eye. The ear is generally 
more susceptible than the eye to the approach of ghosts, 
and often warns the mind long before the apparition be- 
comes visible. The noises heard are apt to be vague and 
ill defined, consisting mainly of a low whispering or 
restless rustling, a strange moving to and fro, or the 
blowing of cold air in various directions. Many sounds, 
however, are so peculiar, that they are never heard ex- 
cept in connection with ghosts, and hence, baffle all 
description. It need not be added, that the great major- 
ity of such sounds also exist only in the mind of the 
hearer, but as the latter is, in his state of excitement, 
fully persuaded that he hears them, they are to him as 
real as if they existed outside of his being. Nor are 
they always confined to the ghost seer. On the contrary, 

GHOSTS. 101 

the hearing of such sounds is as contagions as the see- 
ing of such sights; and not only men are thus affected, 
and see and hear what others experience, hut even the 
higher animals, horses and dogs, share in this suscepti- 
bility. When ghosts appear to speak, the voice is almost 
always engastrimantic, that is, the ghost seer produces 
the words himself, in a state of ecstatic unconsciousness, 
and probably by a kind of instinctive ventriloquism. 
To these phenomena of sight and hearing must be added, 
thirdly, the occasional violent moving about of heavy 
substances. Furniture seems to change its place, pon- 
derous objects disappear entirely, or the whole surround- 
ing scene assumes a new order and arrangement. These 
phenomena, as far as they really exist, must be ascribed 
to higher, as yet unexplained powers, and suggest the 
view entertained by many writers on the subject, that 
disembodied spirits, as they are freed from the mechani- 
cal laws of nature, possess also the power to suspend 
them in everything with which they come in contact. 
The last feature in ghost-seeing, which is essential, is 
the cold shudder, the ineffable dread, which falls upon 
poor mortal man, at the moment when he is brought 
into contact with an unknown world. Already Job 
said : " Fear came upon me and trembling, which made 
all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my 
face ; the hair of my flesh stood up " (iv. 14, 15). This 
sense of vague, and yet almost intolerable dread, resem- 
bles the agony of the dying man ; it is perfectly natural, 
since the seeing of ghosts, that is, of disembodied spirits, 


can only become possible by the more or less complete 
suspension of the ordinary life in the flesh. For a mo- 
ment, all bodily functions are suspended, the activity of 
the brain ceases, and consciousness itself is lost as in a 
fit of fainting. This rarely happens without a brief 
instinctive struggle, and the final victory of an unseen 
and unknown power, which deprives the mind of its 
habitual mastery over the body, is necessarily accom- 
panied by intense pain and overwhelming anguish. 

Well-authenticated cases of the appearance of spirits 
of departed persons are mentioned in the earliest writ- 
ings. Valerius Maximus relates in graphic words the 
experience of the poet Simonides, who was about to 
enter a vessel for the purpose of undertaking a long 
journey with some of his friends, when he discovered a 
dead body lying unburied on the sea-shore. Shocked 
by the impiety of the unknown man's friends, he delay- 
ed his departure to give to the corpse a decent funeral. 
During the following night, the spirit of this man ap- 
peared to him and advised him not to sail on the next 
day. He obeys the warning; his friends leave without 
him, and perish miserably in a great tempest. Deeply 
moved by his sad loss, but equally grateful for his own 
miraculous escape, he erected to the memory of his un- 
known friend a noble monument in verses, unmatched 
in beauty and pathos. Phlegon, also, the freedman of 
the Emperor Hadrian, has left us in his work, De Mi- 
rabilibus, one of the most touching instances of such 
ghost-seeing; it is the well-known story of Machates 

GHOSTS. 163 

and Philimion, which Goethe reproduced in his "'Bride 
of Corinth." Nor must we forget the numerous exam- 
ples of visions in dreams, by which the Almighty chose 
to reveal His will to his beloved among the chosen peo- 
ple — a series of apparitions, which the Church has taken 
care to continue during the earlier ages, in almost un- 
broken succession from saint to saint. Pagans were 
converted by such revelations, martyrs were comforted, 
the wounded healed, and even an Emperor, Constantine, 
cured of leprosy, by the appearance of the two apostles, 
Peter and Paul. 

The truth, which lies at the bottom of all such ap- 
pearances, is probably, that ghostly disturbances are 
uniformly the acts of men, but of men who have ceased 
for a time to be free agents, and who have, for reasons 
to be explained presently, acquired exceptional powers. 
Thus, a famous jurist, Counselor Hellfeld, in Jena, was 
one evening on the point of signing the death warrant 
of a cavalry soldier. The subject had deeply agitated 
his mind for days, and before seizing his pen, he invoked, 
as was his custom in such cases, the " aid of the Al- 
mighty through His holy spirit." At that moment — it 
was an hour before midnight — he hears heavy blows fall 
upon his window, which sound as if the panes were 
struck with a riding- whip. His clerk also hears the 
blows distinctly, and begins to tremble violently. This 
apparent accident induces the judge to delay his action ; 
he devotes the next day to a careful re-perusal of the 
evidence, and is now led to the conviction that the crime 


deserves only a minor punishment. Ere the year has 
closed, another criminal is caught, and volunteers the 
confession that he was the perpetrator of the crime for 
which the soldier was punished. In that solemn mo- 
ment, it was, of course, only the judge's own mind, 
deeply moved and worn out by painful work, which 
warned him in a symbolic manner not to be precipitate, 
and the very fact that the blows sounded as if they had 
been produced by a whip proved his unconscious asso- 
ciation of the noise with the cavalry soldier. And yet 
he and his clerk believed and solemnly affirmed, that 
they had heard the mysterious blows ! This dualism, 
which, as it were, divides man into two beings, one of 
whom follows and watches the other, while both are 
unconscious of their identity, is the magic element in 
these phenomena. This unconsciousness, proving — as 
in dreams — the inactivity of our reason, produces the 
natural effect, that we fancy all ghostly appearances are 
foolish, wanton and wicked. The fact is, moreover that 
they almost always proceed from a more or less diseased 
or disturbed mind, and acquire importance only in so 
far as it is our duty here also to eliminate truth from 
error. Thus only can we hope to counteract their mis- 
chievous tendency, and to prevent still stronger delu- 
sions from obtaining a mastery over weak minds. This 
is the purpose of a club formed in London in 1869, the 
members of which find amusement and useful employ- 
ment in investigating all cases of haunted houses and 
other ghostly appearances. 

GHOSTS. 165 

That the belief in ghostly disturbances is not a mod- 
ern error, we see from St. Augustine, who already men- 
tions the farm of a certain Hasparius as disquieted by 
loud noises till the prayer of a pious priest restored 
peace. The Catholic Church has a St. Csesarius, who 
purified in like manner the house of the physician 
Elpidius in Kavenna, which was filled with evil spirits 
and only admitted the owner after he had passed 
through a shower of stones. Another saint, Hubertus, 
was himself annoyed by ghosts in his residence at 
Camens, and never succeeded in obtaining peace till he 
died, in 958. Wicked or interested men take, of course, 
but too readily advantage of the credulity of men and 
employ similar disturbances for personal purposes; such 
was the case with the ghosts that haunted the Council 
house in Constance and the palace at Woodstock in 
Cromwell's time. The case of a scrupulously consci- 
entious Protestant minister in Germany, which created 
in 1719 a great excitement throughout the empire, is 
well calculated to show the real nature of a number of 
such ghostly disturbances. He had been called to the 
death-bed of a notorious sinner, a woman, who desired 
at the last moment to receive the comforts of religion. 
Unfortunately he reached her house too late; she was 
already unconscious, and died in his presence, as he 
thought, unreconciled with her God and with himself, 
whom she had often insulted and cursed in life. Deeply 
disturbed he returned home, and after having dwelt 
upon the painful subject with intense anxiety for sev- 


eral days he began- to hear footsteps in his house. Grad- 
ually they became more frequent; then he distinguished 
them clearly as a woman's step, and at last they were 
accompanied by the dragging of a gown. Watches 
were set, sand was strewn, dogs were kept in the house 
— but all in vain ; no trace of man was found, and still 
the sounds continued. The unhappy man prayed day 
and night, and the noise disappeared for a fortnight. 
When he ceased praying -they returned, louder than 
ever. He sternly bids the ghost desist, and behold ! the 
ghost obeys. When he asks if it is a good angel or a 
demon, no answer is given ; but the question : Art thou 
the Devil ? finds an immediate -reply in rapid steps up 
and down the house — for the poor man's mind was 
filled with the idea that such things can be done only 
by the Evil One. At last he summons all his remain- 
ing energy and in a tone of command he orders the 
ghost to depart and never to reappear. From that mo- 
ment all disturbances cease — and very naturally, for the 
haunted, disturbed man, had fully recovered the com- 
mand over himself; the dualism that produced all the 
spectral phenomena had ceased, and the restored mind 
accomplished its own cure. As these phenomena are 
thus produced from within, it appears perfectly natural 
also that they should be reported as occurring most fre- 
quently in the month of November. Religious minds 
and superstitious dispositions have brought this fact 
into a quaint connection with the approach of Advent- 
time, but the cause is probably purely physical ; the 

GHOSTS. 167 

dark and- dismal month with its dense fogs emblematic 
of coming winter predisposes the mind to gloomy 
thoughts and renders it less capable of resisting atmo- 
spheric influences. 

A very general belief ascribes such disturbances, un- 
der the name of "haunted houses,*' to the souls of 
deceased persons who can find no rest beyond the 
grave. The series of ghost stories based upon this sup- 
position begins with the account of Suetonius and con- 
tinues unbroken to our day. Then it was the spirit of 
Caligula, which could not be quiet so long as his body, 
which had only been half burned, remained in that dis- 
graceful condition. Night after night his house and 
his garden were visited by strange apparitions, till the 
palace was destroyed by fire and the emperors sisters 
rendered the last honors to his remains. 

Thus the disposition of modern inquiries to trace 
back all popular accounts of great events, all familiar 
anecdotes and fairy tales, and even proverbs and max- 
ims, to the ancients, has been fully gratified in this case 
also. They were not only known to antiquity, but 
formed a staple of popular tales. Thus the younger 
Pliny tells us one which he had frequently heard related. 
At Athens there stood a large, comfortable mansion, 
which, however, was ill-reputed. Xight after night, it 
was said, chains were heard rattling, first at a distance, 
and then coming nearer, till a pale, haggard shape was 
seen approaching, wearing beard and hair in long dis- 
hevelled locks and clanking the chains it bore on hands 


and feet. The occupants of the house could not sleep, 
were' terrified, sickened and died. Thus it came about 
that the fine building stood empty, year after year, and 
was at last offered for sale at a low price. About that 
time the philosopher Athenodorus came to Athens and 
saw the notice; he had his suspicions aroused by the 
small sum demanded for the house, inquired about the 
causes and rented the house. For he was a man of 
courage and meant to fathom the mystery. 

On the evening of the first day he dismissed his serv- 
ants and remained alone in the front room, writing and 
occupying himself, purposely, with grave and abstract 
questions, so as to allow no opening for his imagination. 
As soon as all was quiet around him the clanking and 
rattling of chains begins ; but he pays no heed and con- 
tinues to write. The noise approaches and enters the 
room; as he looks up he sees the well-known weird 
shape before him. It beckons him, but he demands 
patience and writes on as before; then the ghost shakes 
his chains over his head and beckons once more imper- 
atively. Now he rises, takes his lamp, and follows his 
visitor through the passages into a court-yard, where 
the ghost disappears. The philosopher pulls up some 
grass on the spot and marks the place. On the follow- 
ing day he appeals to the authorities to cause the place 
to be dug up ; and when this is done, the bones of an old 
man, loaded with heavy chains, are found. From that 
time the house was left undisturbed, as if the departed 
had only desired to induce some intelligent person to 

GHOSTS. 169 

bestow upon him the honors of a decent burial, which 
among the ancients were held all-important. (" Letter 
to Sera," 1. vii. 27.) The story told by Lucian ("Philo- 
pseudes," xxx.) is almost identical with that of Pliny. 
Here, also, a house in Corinth, once belonging to 
Eubatides, was left unoccupied, for the same reasons, 
and began to decay, when the Pythagorean, Arignotus, 
determined to ascertain the reality of these nightly 
appearances. He goes there after midnight, places his 
lamp on the floor, lies down and begins to read. Soon 
a horrible monster appears, black as night, and changes 
from one disgusting beast into another, till at last it 
yields to the stern command of the intrepid philoso- 
pher and disappears in a corner of the large room. 
When day breaks, workmen are brought in to take up 
the floor; a skeleton is found and decently interred, and 
from that day the house is left to its usual peace and 
quiet. ("Epist." 1. vii. 27.) Plutarch, also, in his "Life 
of Cimon," states that the baths at Chaeronea were 
haunted by the ghost of Damon, who had there found 
his death ; the doors were walled up and the place for- 
saken, but up to his day no relief had been devised, 
and fearful sights and terrible sounds continued to ren- 
der the place uninhabitable. 

Nor are Eastern lands unacquainted with this popu- 
lar belief. Egypt has its haunted houses in nearly 
every village, and in Cairo there are a great number, 
while in Tunis whole streets were abandoned to ghostly 
occupants. In Nankin a great mandarin owned a 



spacious building which he could neither occupy him- 
self nor rent to others, because of its evil reputation. 
At last the Jesuit Riccius, a missionary, offered to take 
it for his order; the fathers moved into it, conquered 
the ghosts by some means best known to themselves, 
and not only obtained a good house but great prestige 
with the natives for their triumph over the spirits (0. 
Hasart. Hist. Eccles. Sinica, p. 4, ch. iii.). 

The same singular belief is not only met with in 
every age and among the most enlightened nations, but 
even in our own century a similar case occurred and is 
well authenticated. The Duke Charles Alexander of 
Wurtemberg of unholy memory, died at the town of 
Ludwigsburg, perhaps by murder. For years afterwards 
the palace was the scene of most violent disturbances ; 
even the sentinels, powerful and w ell-armed men, were 
bodily lifted up and thrown across the parapet of the 
terrace. At other times the whole building appeared to 
be filled with people ; doors were opened and closed, 
lights were seen in the apartments and dim figures flit- 
ted to and fro. Large detachments of troops under 
the command of officers, specially selected for the pur- 
pose, were ordered to march through the palace more 
than once, on such occasions, but never discovered a 
trace of human agency (Kerner. Bilder. p. 143). Even 
the great Frederick of Prussia, a man whose thoroughly 
skeptical mind might surely be supposed to have been 
free from all superstition, was once forced to admit his 
inability to explain by natural causes an occurrence of 

GHOSTS. 171 

the kind. A Catholic priest in Silesia lost his cook, 
who had been specially dear to him ; her ghost — as it 
was called — continued to haunt the house, and, most 
strange of all, not in order to disturb its peace, but to 
perform the usual domestic service. The floors were 
swept, the fires made, and linen washed, all by invisible 
hands. Frederick, who accidentally heard of the mat- 
ter, ordered a captain and a lieutenant of his guard to 
investigate it; they were received by the beating of 
drums and then allowed to witness the same household 
performances. When the grim old captain broke out 
in a fearful curse, he received a severe box on the ears 
and retreated utterly discomfited. Upon his report to 
the king the house was pulled down and a new parson- 
age erected at some distance from the place. The oc- 
currence is mentioned in many historical works and 
quoted without comment even by the great historian 
Menzel. Another striking case of a somewhat different 
character, was fully reported to the Colonial Office in 
London. The scene was a large vault in the island of 
Barbadoes, hewn out of the live rock and accessible 
only through a huge iron door, fastened in the usual 
way by strong bolts and a lock, the key to which was 
kept at the Government House. During the year 1819 
it was opened four times for purposes of interment, and 
each time it was observed that all the coffins in the 
vault had been violently thrown about. The Governor, 
Lord Combermere, went himself, accompanied by his 
staff and a number of officers, to examine the place, and 


found the yault itself in perfect order and without a 
trace of violence. He ordered the door to be closed 
with cement and placed his seal upon the latter, an ex- 
ample followed by nearly all the bystanders. Eight 
months later, the 28th of April, 1820, he had the vault 
opened in the presence of a large company of friends 
and within sight of a crowd of several thousands. The 
cement and the seals were found to be perfect and un- 
injured; the sand which had been carefully strewn over 
the floor of the vault showed no footmark or sign 
whatever, but the coffins were again thrown about in 
great confusion. One, of such weight that it required 
eight men to move it, was found standing upright, and 
a child's coffin had been violently dashed against the 
wall. A carefully drawn up report with accompanying 
drawings was sent home, but no explanation has ever 
been discovered. Scientific men were disposed to as- 
cribe the disturbance to earthquakes, but the annals of 
the island report none during those years; there re- 
mains, however, the possibility that the examination of 
the vault was after all imperfect, and that the sea might 
have had access to it through some hidden cleft. In 
that case an unusually high tide might very well have 
been the invisible agent. 

Even the Indian of our far West cherishes the same 
superstitious belief, and in his lodge on the slopes of the 
Rocky Mountains, he hears mysterious knockings. To 
him they are the kindly warning of a spirit, whom lie 
calls the Great Bear, which announces some great 

GHOSTS. 17:3 

That certain localities seem to be frequented by ghosts, 
that is, to be haunted, with special preference, must be 
ascribed to the contagious nature of such mental affec- 
tions as generally produce these phenomena. This is, 
moreover, by no means limited, as is commonly believ- 
ed, to Northern regions, where frequent fogs and dense 
mists, short days and long nights, together with sombre 
surroundings and awe-inspiring sounds in nature, com- 
bine to predispose the mind to expect supernatural ap- 
pearances. Thus, for instance, fair Suabia, one of the 
most favored portions of Germany, sweet and smiling in 
its fertile plains, and by no means specially gruesome, 
even in the most secluded parts of the Black Forest, 
teems with haunted localities. Dr. Kerner's home, 
Weinsberg, enjoyed ghostly visits almost in every house ; 
the neighborhood was similarly favored, and even in the 
open country there are countless peasants' cottages and 
noblemen's seats, which are frequented by ghosts. One 
of the most-attractive estates in Wurtemberg was pur- 
chased in 1815 by a distinguished soldier, whose daunt- 
less courage had caused him to rise rapidly from grade 
to grade under the eye of the great Napoleon. Soon 
after his arrival his wife was aroused every night by a 
variety of mysterious noises, rising from weird, low 
whinings to terrific explosions. The colonel also heard 
them, and tried his best to ascertain the cause. Night 
after night, moreover, the great castle clock, which went 
perfectly well all day long, struck at wrong hours, and 
was found all wrong in the morning. The disturbing 


powers soon became personal ; for one night, when the 
colonel, sitting at the supper table, and hearing the 
usual sounds, said angrily, " I wish the ghost would make 
himself known ! " a fearful explosion took place, knock- 
ing down the speaker and bringing all the inmates of 
the house to the room. Search was immediately insti- 
tuted, and the main weight of the great clock was dis- 
covered to be missing. A new weight had to be ordered, 
and only long afterwards the old one was found wedged 
in between two floors aboye the clock. Nor were the 
disturbances confined to the castle : at midnight the 
horses in the stable became restless and almost wild, 
tearing themselves loose and sweating till they were 
covered with white foam. One night the colonel went 
to the stable, mounted his favorite charger, who had 
borne him in the din and roar of many a battle, and 
awaited the striking of midnight. Instantly the poor 
animal began to tremble, then to rear and kick furiously, 
until his master, famous as a good horseman, could hold 
him in no longer, and was carried around the stable by the 
maddened horse so as to imperil his life. After an hour, 
the poor creatures began to calm down, but stood trem- 
bling in all their limbs ; the colonel's own horse suc- 
cumbed to the trial and died in the morning. A new 
stable had to be built, which remained free from disturb- 

By far the most remarkable and, strange enough, at 
the same time the best authenticated of all accounts 
of disturbances caused by recently departed friends is 

GHOSTS. 1 75 

found in a memoir written by the sufferer herself, and 
addressed to the famous Baron Grimm under the pseu- 
donym of Mr. Meis. Through the latter the story 
reached Goethe, who at once appropriated it in all its 
details, and merely changing the name of the principal 
to Antonelli, inserted it in his " Conversations of 
German Emigrants." The same event is fully related 
in the " Memoirs of the Margravine of Anspaeh " as " a 
story which at that time created a great sensation in 
Paris, and excited universal curiosity." But even 
greater authority yet is given to this account by the 
fact that it was officially recorded in the police reports 
of Paris, from which it has been frequently extracted 
for publication. Mdlle. Hippolyte Clairon makes sub- 
stantially the following statements: "In the year 1743 
my youth and my success on the stage procured for me 
much attention from young fops and elderly profligates, 
among whom, however, I found frequently a few better 
men. One of these, who made a deep impression upon 
me, was a Mr. S., the son of a merchant from Brittany, 
about thirty years old, fair of features, well made, and 
gifted with some talent for poetry. His conversation 
and his manners showed that he had received a superior 
education, and that he was accustomed to good society, 
while his reserve and bashfulness, which prevented him 
from allowing his attachment to be seen, made him all 
the dearer to me. When I had ascertained his discre- 
tion, I permitted him to* visit me, and gave him to 
understand that he might call himself my friend. He 


took this patiently, seeing that I was still free and not 
without tender feelings, and hoping that time might 
inspire me with a warmer affection. Who knows what 
might have happened ! But I used to question him 
closely, both from curiosity and from prudence, and 
his candid answers destroyed his prospects ; for he con- 
fessed that, dissatisfied with his modest station in life, 
he had sold his property in order to live in Paris in 
better society, and I did not like this. Men who are 
ashamed of themselves are not, it seems to me, cal- 
culated to inspire others with respect. Besides, he was 
of a melancholy and dissatisfied temper, knowing men 
too well, as he said, not to despise and avoid them. He 
intended to visit no one but myself, and to induce me 
also to see no one but him. You may imagine how I 
disliked such ideas. I might have been held by gar- 
lands, but did not wish to be bound with chains. 
From that moment I saw that I must disappoint his 
hopes, and gradually withdrew from his society. This 
caused him a severe illness, during which I showed 
him all possible attention. But my steady refusal to 
do more for him only deepened the wound, and at the 
same time the poor young man had the misfortune of 
being stripped of nearly all his property by his faithless 
brother, to whom he had intrusted the sale of all he 
owned, so that he saw himself compelled to accept 
small sums from me for the payment of his daily food 
and the necessary medicines. 

" At last he recovered part of his property, but his 

GHOSTS. 17*7 

health was ruined ; and as I thought I was rendering 
him a real service by widening the distance between us, 
1 refused henceforth to receive his letters and his visits. 

f Thus matters went on for two years and a half, when 
he died. He had sent for me, wishing to enjoy the 
happiness of seeing me once more in his last moments, 
but my friends would not allow me to go. He had no 
one near him except his servants and an old lady, who 
had of late been his only companion. Our lodgings 
were far apart: his near the Chaussee-d'Antin, where 
only a few houses had as yet been built, and mine near 
the Abbey of St. Martin. My daily guests were an 
agent, who attended to all my professional duties, Mr. 
Pipelet, well known and beloved by all who knew him, 
and Eosely, one of my fellow-comedians, a kind young- 
man full of wit and talent. We had modest little 
suppers, but we were merry and enjoyed ourselves 
heartily. One evening I had just been singing several 
pretty airs which seemed to delight my friends, when 
the clock struck eleven, and at the same moment an 
extremely sharp cry was heard. Its plaintive sound 
and long duration amazed everybody; I fainted away 
and remained for nearly a quarter of an hour uncon- 

" My agent was in love with me and so mad with 
jealousy that when I recovered, he overwhelmed me 
with reproaches, and said the signals for my interview 
were rather loud. I told him that as I had the right 
to receive when and whom I chose, no signals were 



needed, and this cry had surely been heart-rending 
enough to convince him that it announced no sweet 
moments. My paleness, my tremor, which lasted for 
some time, my tears flowing silently and almost un- 
consciously, and my urgent request that somebody 
would stay up with me during the night, all these 
signs convinced him of my innocence. My friends re- 
mained with me, discussing the fearful cry, and de- 
termining finally to station guards around the house. 

"Nevertheless the dread sound was repeated night 
after night ; my friends, all the neighbors, and even the 
policemen who were stationed near us, heard it dis- 
tinctly ; it seemed to be uttered immediately under my 
window, where nothing could ever be seen. There was 
no doubt entertained as to the person for whom it was 
intended, for whenever I supped out, no cry was heard; 
but frequently after my return, when I entered my 
room and inquired about it of my mother and my 
servants, it suddenly pierced the air anew. Once the 
president of the court, at whose house I had been 
entertained, proposed to see me home in safety ; at the 
moment when he wished me good-night at the door, 
the cry was heard right between us, and the poor man 
had to be lifted into his carriage more dead than 

" Another time my young companion, Rosely, a clever, 
witty man, who believed in nothing in heaven or on 
earth, was riding with me in my carriage on our way 
to a friend who lived in a distant part of the city. We 

GHOSTS. 179 

were discussing the fearful torment to which I was 
exposed, and ■ he, laughing at me, at last declared he 
would never believe it unless he heard it with his own 
ears, and defied me to summon my lover. I do not 
know how I came to yield, but instantly the cry was 
repeated three times, and with overwhelming fierceness. 
When our carriage reached the house, the servants 
found us both lying unconscious on the cushions, and 
had to summon assistance before we recovered. After 
this I heard nothing for several months, and began to 
hope that all was over. But I was sadly mistaken. 

" The members of the king's troop of comedians had 
all been ordered to appear at Versailles, in honor of the 
dauphin's marriage, and as we were to spend three days 
there, lodgings had been provided. It so happened, 
however, that a friend of mine, Mme. Grand val, had been 
forgotten, and seeing her trouble, I at last offered her, 
towards three o'clock in the morning, to share my room, 
in which there were two beds. This forced me to take 
my maid into my own bed, and as she was in the act of 
coming, I said to her : * Here we are at the end of the 
world, the weather is abominable, and the cry would find 
it hard to follow us here ! ' At that moment it resound- 
ed close to us : Mme. Grandval jumped up terribly 
frightened, and ran through the whole house, waking 
everybody, and keeping us all in such a state of exciter 
ment that not an eye was closed the whole night. Seven 
or eight days later, as I was chatting merrily with a 
number of friends, at the striking of the hour, a shot 


was heard, coming apparently through my window. 
We all heard it and saw the fire, but the pane was nob 
broken. Everybody thought at once of an attempt to 
murder me, and some friends hastened instantly to the 
Chief of Police. Men were immediately sent to search 
the houses opposite, and for several days and nights the 
street was strictly guarded by a number of soldiers ; 
my own house was searched from roof to cellar, and 
friends came in large companies to assist in watchings : 
nevertheless, the shot fell night after night at the same 
hour, for three months, with unfailing accuracy. No 
clue was found and no sign was seen save the sound of 
the shot and the sight of the lire. Daily reports of the 
occurrence were sent to the headquarters of the police, 
new measures were continually devised and applied, 
but the authorities were baffled as well as all who tried 
to fathom the mystery. I became at last quite accus- 
tomed to the disturbance, and was in the habit of speak- 
ing of it as the doing of a bon cliable, because he content- 
ed himself so long a time with jugglers' tricks ; but one 
night as I had stepped through window out upon 
a balcony, and was standing there with my agent by my 
side, the shot suddenly fell again and knocked us both 
back into the room, where we fell down as if dead. When 
we recovered our consciousness, we got up, and after 
some hesitation, confessed to each other that our ears 
had been severely boxed, his on the right side and mine 
on the left, whereupon we gave way to hearty laughter. 
The next night was quiet, but on the following day I 

GHOSTS. 181 

was riding with m} T maid to a friend's house, where I 
had been invited to meet some acquaintances. As we 
passed through a certain part of the city, I recognized 
the houses in the bright moonlight, and said jestingly : 
'This looks very much like the part of town where 
poor S. used to live/ At the same moment a near 
church clock struck eleven, and instantly a shot was 
fired at us from one of the buildings, which seemed to 
pass through our carriage. The coachman thought we 
had been attacked by robbers, and whipped his horses 
to escape ; I knew what it meant, but still felt thor- 
oughly frightened, and reached the house in a state lit- 
tle suited for social enjoyment. This was, however, the 
last time my unfortunate friend used a gun. 

-' In place of the firing there came now a loud clapping 
of hands, with certain modulations and repetitions. 
This sound, to which I had become accustomed on the 
stage by the kindness of my friends, did not disturb me 
as much as my companions. They would station them- 
selves around my door and under my window ; they 
heard it distinctly, but could not see a trace of any per- 
son. I do not remember how long this continued ; but 
it was followed by the singing of a sweet, almost heav- 
enly melody, which began at the upper end of the street 
and gradually swelled till it reached my house, where 
it slowly expired. Then the disturbance ceased alto- 

" The only light that was ever thrown upon the mys- 
tery came from an old lady who called on me on the 


pretext of wishing to see my house which I had offered 
for rent. I was very much struck by her venerable ap- 
pearance and her evident emotion. I offered her a chair 
and sat down opposite to her, but was for some time 
unable to say a word. At last she seemed to gather 
courage and told me that she had long wished to make 
my acquaintance, but had not dared to come so long as 
I was constantly surrounded by hosts of friends and ad- 
mirers. At last she had happened to see my advertise- 
ment and availed herself of the opportunity in order to 
see me — and to visit my house, which had a deep 
though melancholy interest in her eyes. I guessed at 
once that she was the faithful friend who alone re- 
mained by the bedside of poor S., when he was pros- 
trated by a fatal disease and refused to see anybody 
else. For months, she now told me, he had spoken of 
nothing save of myself, looking upon me now as an 
angel and now as a demon, but utterly unable to keep 
his thoughts from dwelling uninterruptedly upon the 
one subject which filled his mind and his heart alike. 
I tried to explain to the old lady how I had fully appre- 
ciated his good qualities and noble impulses, finding it, 
however, impossible to fall in with his peculiar views 
of society and to promise, as he insisted I should do, to 
forsake all I loved for the purpose of living with him in 
loneliness and complete retirement. I told her, also, 
that when he sent for me to see him in his last mo- 
ments, my friends prevented my going, and that I felt 
myself that the sight of his death under such circum- 

GHOSTS. 183 

stances would have been dangerous in the extreme to 
my peace of mind, besides being utterly useless to the 
dying man. She admitted the force of my reasoning, 
but repeated that my refusal had hastened his end and 
deprived him at the last moment of all self-control. In 
this state of mind, when a few minutes before eleven, 
the servant had entered and assured him in answer to 
his passionate inquiry, that no one had come, he had 
exclaimed: 'The heartless woman! She shall gain 
nothing by her cruelty, for I will pursue her after death 
as I have pursued her during life!' and with these 
words on his lips he had expired." 

The impression produced by this thoroughly authen- 
ticated recital is a strong argument in favor of a con- 
tinued connection after death of the human soul with 
the world in which we live. There was a man whose 
whole existence was absorbed by one great and all-per- 
vading passion ; it brought ruin to his body and dis- 
abled his mind from correcting the vagaries of his fan- 
cy. He died in this state, with a sense of grievous 
wrong and intense thirst of revenge uppermost in his 
mind. Then follow a number of magic phenomena, 
witnessed, for several years, by thousands of attached 
friends and curious observers, defying the vigilance of 
soldiers and the acuteness of police agents. These dis- 
turbances, at first bearing the stamp of willful annoy- 
ance, gradually assume a milder form, as if expressive 
of softening indignation ; they become weaker and less 
frequent, and finally cease altogether, suggestive of the 


peace which the poor erring soul had at last found, by 
infinite mercy and goodness, when safely entering the 
desired haven. 

On the other hand — for contrasts meet here as well 
as elsewhere — these phenomena have been frequently 
ascribed to purely physical causes, and in a number of 
cases the final explanation has confirmed this sugges- 
tion. A hypochondriac artist, for instance, was nightly 
disturbed by a low but furious knocking in his bed, 
which was heard by others as well as by himself. He 
prayed, he caused priests to come to his bedside, he had 
masses read in his behalf, but all remained in vain. 
Then came a plain, sensible friend, who, half in jest 
and half in earnest, covered his big toe with a brass wire 
which he dipped into an alkaline solution, and behold, 
the knockings ceased and never returned ! (Dupotel, 
"Animal Magn.") In another case a somnambulistic 
woman frightened herself as well as others by most 
violent knockings whenever she was disappointed or 
thwarted ; her physician, suspecting the cause, finally 
gave her antispasmodic remedies, and it soon appeared 
that in her nervous spasms the muscles had been 
vibrating forcibly enough to produce these disturbances. 
Since these discoveries it has been found that almost 
anybody may produce such knockings — which stand in 
a suspicious relationship to spirit-rappings — by exerting 
certain muscles of the leg; some men, who have prac- 
tised this trick for scientific purposes, like Professor 
Schiff, of Florence, are able to imitate almost all the 

GHOSTS. 185 

various knockings generally ascribed to ghosts and 
spirits. The public performances of Mr. Chauncey 
Burr, in New York, gave very striking illustrations of 
this power, and a Mr. Shadrach Barnes rapped with his 
toes to perfection. 

In a large number of cases such phenomena appear 
in connection with persons who suffer of some nervous 
disease, and then the knockings are, of course, produced 
unconsciously, and may be accompanied by evidences 
of exceptional powers. It need not be added, however, 
that the two symptoms are not necessarily of the same 
nature; generally the mechanical knockings precede 
the development of ecstatic visions. A girl of eleven 
years, the child of humble Alsatian parents, presented, 
in 1852, this succession of symptoms very strikingly. 
The child had a habit of falling asleep at all hours ; at 
once mysterious knockings began to perform a dance 
or a march, and continued daily for more than an hour. 
After some time the poor girl began, also, to talk in her 
sleep, and to converse with the knocking agent. She 
would order him to beat a tattoo, or to play a quickstep, 
and immediately it was done. The directions of by- 
standers, even when not uttered but merely formed 
earnestly in their mind, were obeyed in like manner. 
Finally the child, getting no doubt worse and unmerci- 
fully excited by the crowds of curious people who 
thronged the house, began to admonish her audience, 
and to preach and pray; during these exhortations no 
knockings were heard, but she became clairvoyant and 


recognized all the persons present, even with her eyes 
closed. She fancied that a black man with a red shawl 
produced the knockings and delivered the speeches. 
Her clairvoyance became at last so striking that her 
case excited the deepest interest of persons in high 
social position, and several physicians examined it with 
great care. Her disease was declared to be neurosis 
coeliaca ("Magicon," v. 274). 

A very peculiar and utterly inexplicable phenomenon 
belonging to this class of ghostly appearances is the 
complete removal of persons by an unseen power. The 
idea of such occurrences must have been current among 
the Jews, for when "there appeared a chariot of fire 
and horses of fire . . . and Elijah went up by a whirl- 
wind into heaven" (II. Kings ii. 11), the sons of the 
prophets did not at once resign themselves, but sent 
fifty strong men to seek him, " lest perad venture the 
Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up and cast him 
upon some mountain or into some valley" (v. 16). In 
the New Testament the same mysterious removal is 
mentioned in the case of Philip, after his interview 
with the Ethiopian, whom he baptized. " The Spirit of 
the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him 
no more," and "Philip was found at Azotus"(Acts 
viii. 39, 40). What in these cases was done by divine 
power, is said to be occasionally the work of an un- 
known and unseen force. Generally, no doubt, men or 
children lose themselves by accident, either when they 
arc already from illness or other cause in a state of 

GHOSTS. 187 

semi-consciousness, or when they become so bewildered 
and frightened by the accident itself, that they fancy 
they must have been carried away by a mysterious 
power. The best authenticated case is reported in 
Beaumont (p. 65). An Irish steward, crossing a field, 
saw in it a large company feasting, and was invited to 
join their meal. One of them, however, warned him in 
a whisper not to accept anything that should be offered. 
Upon his refusal to eat, the table vanished and the 
men were seen dancing to a merry music. He was 
again invited to join, and when he refused, all dis- 
appeared, and he found himself alone. He hurried 
home thoroughly terrified, and fainted away in his 
room. During the night he dreamt — or really saw — 
that one of the mysterious company appeared at his 
bedside and announced to him that if he dare leave the 
house on the following day, he would be carried away. 
He remained at home till the evening, when, thinking 
himself safe, he stepped across the threshold. Instantly 
his companions saw him, with a rope around his body, 
hurried away so fast that they could not follow. At 
last they meet a horseman whom they request by signs 
to arrest the unhappy victim ; he seizes the rope and 
receives a smart blow, but rescues the steward. Lord 
Orrery desired to see the man, and when the latter 
presented himself before the earl, he reported that 
another nightly visitor had threatened him as before. 
He was, thereupon, placed in a large room under the 
guard of several stout men ; a number of distinguished 


persons, two bishops among them, went constantly in 
and out. In the afternoon he was suddenly lifted into 
the air ; a famous boxer, Greatrix, who had been 
specially engaged to guard him, and another powerful 
man, seized him by the shoulders, but he was dragged 
from their grasp and for some time carried about high 
above their heads, till at last he fell into the arms of 
some of his keepers. During the night the same appari- 
tion stood once more by his bed-side, inviting him to 
drink of a gray porridge, which would cure him of all ills 
and protect him against further violence. He suffered 
himself to be persuaded, when the visitor made himself 
known as a former friend who had to attend those mys- 
terious meetings in punishment of the dissolute life 
he had led upon earth, and who now wished to save 
another unhappy fellow-being from a like sad fate. At 
the same time he reminded him of his neglect to pray, 
and 1 then disappeared. The steward speedily recovered 
from his fright, and was no further molested. There 
can be little doubt that the man was ill at ease in body 
and in conscience, and that this double burden was too 
heavy to bear for his mind ; his thoughts became dis- 
ordered, till he felt an apparently external power 
stronger than his own will, and thus not only imagined 
strange visions, but actually obeyed erratic impulses of 
his diseased mind, as if they were acts of violence from 

A favorite pastime of these pseudo-ghosts is the 
throwing of stones at the buildings or even into the 


rooms of those whom they wish to annoy. Good Cot- 
ton Mather loved to tell stories of such perverse pro- 
ceedings, and states at length the sufferings of George 
Walton, at Portsmouth, in 1682. Invisible hands 
threw such a hailstorm of stones against his house, 
that the door was burst open, although the inhabitants, 
when hit by the stones, only felt a slight touch. Then 
the stones began to fly about inside, and to destroy the 
window-panes from within; when picked up by some 
of the witnesses, they proved to be burning hot ; they 
were marked and placed upon a table, whereupon they 
commenced to fly about once more. It is characteristic 
of the whole proceeding that the only person really in- 
jured by the operation was the owner of the house, a 
quaker ! The learned author delights also in recitals 
of children who were plagued by evil spirits, having 
forks and knives, pins and sharp scissors stuck into 
their backs, and whose food, at the moment when it 
was to be carried from the plate to the mouth, flew 
away, leaving yarn, ashes, and vile things to reach the 
palate ! At other times the disturbance assumes a 
somewhat more dignified form, and appears % as the 
ringing of bells. Thus Baxter tells us of a house at 
Oolne Priory, in Essex, where, for a time, every morning 
at two o'clock a large bell was heard, while in the parish 
of Wilcot, a smaller bell waked the vicar night after 
night with its tinkling, and yet could not be heard out- 
side of the dwelling. Physicians know very well how 
readily the pressure of blood to certain vessels in the 


head produces the impression of the ringing of bells, 
and experience tells us how easily men are made to 
believe that they see or hear what others assure them 
is seen or heard by everybody. Even the great John 
"Wesley seems not to have been fully convinced of the 
purely natural character of such disturbances, when 
they annoyed his venerable father at Epworth Rectory ; 
and Dr. Priestley, a calm and. cautious writer, says of 
these phenomena : " It is perhaps the best-authenticated 
and the best-told story of the kind that is anywhere 
extant, on which account, and to exercise the ingenuity 
of some speculative person, I thought it not undeserved 
of being published." It seems that in 1716 the rectory 
became the scene of strange disturbances, which were 
at first ascribed to one of the minister's enemies, Jeffrey. 
The inmates heard an incessant walking about, sighing 
and groaning, cackling and crowing; a hand-mill was 
set whirling around by invisible hands, and the Amen ! 
with which Wesley's father ended the family prayer 
was accompanied by a noise like thunder. Even the 
faithful watchdog was disturbed and his instinct over- 
awed, for he sought refuge with men, and barked 
furiously, till his excitement rose to a state resembling 
madness, he even anticipated the coming of the dis- 
turbance, and announced it by his intense agitation. 

The subject is one of extreme difficulty because of 
I he large number of cases in which all such distur- 
bances have been clearly traced to- the agency of dissat- 
isfied servants, hidden enemies, or envious neighbors, 

GHOSTS. 191 

whose sole purpose was a desire to drive the occupant 
from his house, or to diminish its value. It is charac- 
teristic of human nature that the cunning and the skill 
displayed on such occasions even by ignorant servants 
and awkward rustics are perfectly amazing, a fact 
w 7 hich proves anew the assertion of old divines, that 
the Devil is vastly better served than the Lord of Hea- 
ven. Even the best authenticated case of such myste- 
rious disturbances, Kerner's so-called Seeress of Pre- 
vorst, is not entirely free from all suspicion. Mrs. 
Hauffe, a lady of delicate health, great nervous irrita- 
bility, and a mind which was, to say the least, not too 
well balanced, became the patient of Dr. Justinus 
Kerner, in southern Germany. Besides her mysterious 
power to reveal unknown things, to read the future, 
and to prescribe for herself and others, of which men- 
tion has been made before ; she was also pursued by 
every variety of strange noises. Plates and glasses, 
tables and chairs were violently throwm about in the 
house in which she lived ; a medicine phial rose slowly 
into the air and had to be brought back by one of the 
bystanders, and an easy-chair was lifted up to the ceil- 
ing, but came down again quite gently. The suffering 
woman was the only one wdio knew the cause of these 
phenomena; she ascribed them all to a dark spirit, 
Belon's companion, who appeared to her as a black col- 
umn of smoke, with a hideous head, and whose ap- 
proach oppressed even some of the bystanders — espe- 
cially the patient's sister. He was not content w r ith 


disturbing Mrs. Hauffe only, but carried his wantonness 
even into the homes of distant friends and kinsmen. A 
pious minister, who frequently visited the poor sufferer, 
was contagiously affected by the ill-fated atmosphere of 
her house; night after night he was waked up, by a 
"bright spirit," who coughed and sighed and sobbed in 
his presence, till a fervent prayer drove him away; if 
the poor divine, however, prayed only faintly or enter- 
tained doubts in his heart, the spirit mocked him with 
increased energy. Later even the minister's wife suc- 
cumbed, saw the same luminous appearances and heard 
the same mysterious noises, till the whole matter was 
suddenly brought to an end by an amulet! To this 
class of occurrences belongs also the experience of the 
Rev. Dr. Phelps of Stratford, Connecticut. One fine 
day he found, upon returning from church, that all the 
doors of his house, which he had carefully locked, were 
open and everything in the lower rooms in a state of 
boundless confusion. Nothing, however, had been 
stolen. In the upper story a room was found to be oc- 
cupied by eight or ten persons diligently reading in an 
open Bible, which each one held close to his face. Upon 
examination these readers were discovered to be bundles 
of clothes carefully and most. cunningly arranged so as 
to represent living beings. Everything was cleared 
away and the room was locked; but in three minutes 
the clothing, which had been put aside, disappeared, 
and when the door was opened the same scene was pre- 
sented. For seven long months the house was haunted 

GHOSTS. 193 

by most extraordinary phenomena ; noises of every kind 
were heard by day as well as by night ; utensils and win- 
dow-panes were broken before the eyes of numerous 
witnesses by invisible hands, and the son of the house, 
eleven years old, was bodily lifted up and carried away 
to some distance. The most searching inquiry led to 
no result, until at last Dr. Phelps, almost in despair, 
applied to some spiritualists, and in consequence of the 
hints he received was enabled to bring the disturbances 
to a speedy end (Eechenberg, p. 58). 

Stone-throwing seems to be a favorite amusement with 
Eastern ghosts also ; at least we are told that it is quite 
frequent in the western part of the Island of Java, where 
the Sunda people live amid gigantic mountains and still 
active volcanoes. They believe in good and evil spirits, 
and are firmly convinced that constant intercourse is 
kept up between earth-born men and heavenly beings. 
The whole Indian Archipelago is filled with the latter, 
and hence, the throwing of stones, sand and gravel, by 
invisible hands, has a name of its own, it is called Gund- 
arua. Some thirty years ago, a German happened to be 
Assistant-Eesident at Sumadang, in the service of the 
Dutch government. His wife had taken a fancy to a 
native child ten years old, who was allowed to go in and 
out the house at will. One morning during the Ger- 
man's absence, the child's white dress was found to be 
soiled all over with red betel-juice, and at the moment 
when her patroness made this discovery, a stone fell ap- 
parently from the ceiling, at her feet. The same ph-> 



nomenon was repeated over and over again, till the lady, 
in her distress, appealed to a neighboring native sover- 
eign, who promised his assistance. He sent immediately 
a large force of armed men, who surrounded the house 
and watched the room ; nevertheless, the red spots re- 
appeared and stones fell as before. Towards evening, a 
Mohammedan mufti, of high rank, was sent for ; but he 
had scarcely opened his Koran, to read certain sentences 
for the purpose of exorcising the demons, when the sacred 
book was hurled to one side and the lamp to another. 
The lady took the child to the prince's residence to spend 
the night there, and no disturbance occurred. But when 
her husband, for whom swift messengers had been sent 
out, returned on the following day, the same trouble 
occurred; the child was spit at with betel-juice and 
stones kept falling from on high. Soon the report 
reached the Governor-General atBreitenzorg, who there- 
upon sent a man of great military renown, a Major 
Michiels, to investigate the matter. Once more the 
house was surrounded by an armed force, even the 
neighboring trees were carefully guarded, and the ma- 
jor took the little girl upon his knees. In spite of all these 
precautions, her dress was soon covered with red spots, 
and stones flew about as before. No one, however, was 
injured. They were gathered up, proved to be wet or 
hot, as if just picked up in the road, and at night filled 
a huge box. The same process continued, when a huge 
sheet of linen had been stretched from wall to wall, so 
as to form an inner ceiling under the real ceiling; and 

GHOSTS. ] 95 

now not only stones, but also fruit from the surrounding 
trees, freshly gathered, and mortar from the kitchen fell 
into the newly formed tent. At the same time the fur- 
niture was repeatedly disturbed, tumblers and wine- 
glasses tossed about, and marks left on the large mirror 
as if a moist hand had been passed over the surface. 
The marvelous occurrences were duly reported to the 
home government, and the king, William II., ordered 
that no pains should be spared to clear up the matter. 
But no explanation was ever obtained; only the fact was 
ascertained that similar phenomena had been repeatedly 
observed in other parts of the island also, and were 
considered quite ordinary occurrences by the natives. 
Certain families, it may be added, claim to have inher- 
ited from their ancestors the power to make themselves 
invisible, a gift which is almost invariably accompanied 
by the Gundarua ; as these native families gradually die 
out, the symptoms of the latter also disappear more 
and more. There is no doubt that here, as in the Eus- 
smnpoganne (cursed places which are haunted by ghosts), 
the belief in such appearances, bequeathed through long 
ages from father to son, has finally obtained a force 
which renders it equal to reality itself. Eeason is not 
only biased, but actually held bound ; the mind is 
wrought up to a state of excitement in which it ceases 
to see clearly, and finally visions assume an overwhelm- 
ing force, which ends in symptoms of what is called 
magic. The same law applies, for instance, to the an- 
cient home of charmers and magicians, the land of the 


Nile, where also the studies of the ancient Magi have 
been assumed by a succession of learned men, till they 
were taken up by fanatic Mohammedans, whose creed 
arranges invisible beings, angels, demons, and others, 
in regular order, and assigns them a home in distinct 
parts of the universe. It is not without interest to ob- 
serve that even Europeans, after a long residence in the 
Orient, become deeply imbued with such notions, and 
men like Bayle St. John, in his account of magic per- 
formances which he witnessed, do not seem able to re r 
main altogether impartial. 

One of the most remarkable phenomena belonging to 
this branch of magic is the appearance of living or 
recently deceased persons to friends or supplicants. 
The peculiarity in this case consists in the constantly 
changing character of the appearance: the double — as 
it is called — is the vision of the dying man, which 
appears to others or to his own senses. The former 
class of cases was well known in antiquity, for Pytha- 
goras already had, according to popular report, appeared 
to numerous friends before he died. Herodotus and 
Maximus Tyrius state both, that Aristasns sent his 
spirit into different lands to acquire knowledge, and 
Epimenides and Hernestinus, from Claromenae, were 
"oopularly believed to be able to visit, when in a state of 
ecstasy, all distant countries, and to return at pleasure, 
St. Augustine, also, states ('* Sermon," 123) that he, 
himself, had appeared to two persons who had known 
him only by reputation, and advised them to go to 

GHOSTS. 197 

Hippons in order to obtain their health there by the in- 
tercession of St. Stephen. They really went to the 
place and recovered from their disease. At another 
time his form appeared to a famous teacher of eloquence 
in Carthage and explained to him several most difficult 
passages in Cicero's writings (De cur a pro mortuis, ch. 
ii). The saints of the Catholic church having possessed 
the gift of being in several places at once, apparently so 
very generally, that the miracle has lost its interest, 
except where peculiar circumstances seem to suggest 
the true explanation. Such was, for instance, the last- 
mentioned case, recited by St. Augustine {De Civ. Dei. 
1. 8. ch. 18). Prsestantius requested a philosopher to 
solve to him some doubts, but received no answer. The 
following night, however, when Prsestantius lay awake, 
troubled by his difficulties, he suddenly saw his learned 
friend standing by his bedside and heard from his lips 
all he desired to know. Upon meeting him next day, 
he inquired why he had been unwilling to explain the 
matter in the daytime, and thus caused himself the 
trouble of coming at midnight to his house. " I never 
came to your house," was the reply, "but I dreamt that 
I did." Here was very evidently a case of magic activ- 
ity on the part of the philosopher, whose mind was, in 
his sleep, busily engaged in solving the propounded 
mystery and thus affected not himself only, but his 
absent friend likewise. 

The story of Dr. Donne's vision is well known, and 
deserves all the more serious attention as his candor 


was above suspicion, and his judgment held in the 
highest esteem. He formed part of an embassy sent to 
Henry IV. of France, and had been two days in Paris, 
thinking constantly and anxiously of his wife, whom he 
had left ill in London. Towards noon he suddenly fell 
into a kind of trance, and when he recovered his senses 
related to his friends that he had seen his beloved wife 
pass him twice, as she walked across the room, her hair 
dishevelled and her child dead in her arms. When she 
passed him the second time, she looked sadly into his 
face and then disappeared. His fears were aroused to 
such a degree by this vision that he immediately dis- 
patched a special messenger to England, and twelve 
days later he received the afflicting news that on that 
day and at that hour his wife had, after great and pro- 
tracted suffering, been delivered of a still-born infant 
(Beaumont, p. 96). In Macnish's excellent work on 
"Sleep," we find (p. 180) the following account: "A 
Mr. H. went one day, apparently in the enjoyment of 
full health, down the street, when he saw a friend of 
his, Mr. C, who was walking before him. He called 
his name aloud, but the latter pretended not to hear 
him, and steadily walked on. H. hastened his steps to 
overtake him, but his friend also hurried on, and thus 
remained at the same distance from him ; thus the two 
walked for some time, till suddenly Mr. C. entered a 
gateway, and when Mr. H. was about to follow, slammed 
the door violently in his face. Perfectly amazed at 
such unusual conduct, Mr. H. opened the door and 

GHOSTS. 109 

looked down the long passage, upon which it opened, 
but saw no one. Determined to solve the mystery, he 
hurried to his friend's house, and there, to his great 
astonishment, learnt that Mr. C. had been confined to 
his bed for some days. It was not until several weeks 
later that the two friends met at the house of a com- 
mon acquaintance ; Mr. H. told Mr. C. of his adven- 
ture, and added laughingly, that having seen his 
double, he was afraid Mr. C. would not live long. 
These words were received by all with hearty laughter ; 
but only a few days after this meeting the unfortunate 
friend was seized with a violent illness, to which he 
speedily succumbed."' What is most remarkable, how- 
ever, is that Mr. H. also followed him, quite unex- 
pectedly, soon to the grave. Whatever may have been 
the nature of the event itself, it cannot be doubted that 
the minds of both friends were far more deeply im- 
pressed by its mysteriousness than they would probably 
have been willing to acknowledge to themselves, and 
that the nervous excitement thus produced brought 
out an illness lurking already in their system, and ren- 
dered it fatal. A very remarkable case was that of a 
distinguished diplomat, related by A. Moritz in his 
" Psychology." He was lying in bed, sleepless, when 
he noticed his pet dog becoming restless, and apparentlv 
disturbed to the utmost by a rustling and whisking 
about in the room, which he heard but could not ex- 
plain. Suddenly a kind of white vapor rose by his 
bed-side, and gradually assumed the outline and even 


the features of his mother; he especially noticed a 
purple ribbon in her cap. He jumped out of bed and 
endeavored to embrace her, but she fled before him and 
as suddenly vanished, leaving a bright glare at the 
place where she had disappeared. It was found, after- 
wards, that at that hour — 10 o'clock A. m. — the old 
lady had been ill unto death, lying still and almost 
breathless on her couch ; she had felt the anguish of 
death in her heart, and had thought so anxiously of 
her son and her sister, that her first question when she 
recovered was, whether she had not perhaps been 
visited by the two persons who had thus occupied her 
whole mind. It was also ascertained that, contrary to a 
life's habit, she had on that day worn a purple ribbon 
in her night-cap. A German professor once succeeded 
in establishing the connection which undoubtedly 
exists between the will of certain persons and their 
appearance to others. He had only been married a 
year in 1823, when he was compelled to leave his wife 
and to undertake a long and perilous journey. Once, 
sitting in a peculiarly sad and dejected mood alone in 
a room of his hotel, he longed so ardently for the 
society of his wife, that he felt in his heart as if, by a 
great effort of will, he should be able to see her. He 
made the effort, and, behold ! he saw her sitting at her 
work-table, busily engaged in sewing, and himself, as 
was his habit, on a low foot-stool by her side. She 
tried to conceal her work from his eyes. A few days 
later a messenger reached him, sent by his wife, who 

GHOSTS. 201 

was in great consternation and anxiety. On that day 
she also had suddenly seen her husband seated by her 
side, attentively watching her at work, and continuing 
there till her father entered the room, upon which the 
professor had instantly disappeared. When he returned 
to his house he made minute inquiries as to the work 
he had seen in the hands of his wife, and this was of 
such peculiar character as to exclude all ideas of a 
mere dream on his part. Here also the supreme will 
of the professor must have endowed him for the mo- 
ment with exceptional powers, enabling him to make 
himself visible to his wife, while the latter, with the 
ardent love which bound her to her husband, was at 
the same moment sympathetically excited, and thus 
enabled to second his will, and to behold him as she 
was accustomed to see him most frequently. 

Owen in his " Footfalls on the Boundary of Another 
World," reports fully a remarkable case here repeated 
only in outline. Eobert Bruce, thirty years old, served 
as mate on board a merchant vessel on the line betAveen 
Liverpool and St. John in New Brunswick. When the 
ship was near the banks he was one day about noon 
busy calculating the longitude, and thinking that the 
captain was in his cabin — the next to his own — he 
called out to him : How have you found it ? Looking 
back over his shoulder, he saw the captain writing bu- 
sily at his desk, and as he heard no answer, he went in 
and repeated his question. To his horror the man at 
the desk raised his head and revealed to him the face 


of an entire stranger, who regarded him fixedly. In a 
state of great excitement he rushed to the upper deck, 
where he found the captain and told him what had oc- 
curred. Thereupon both went down ; there was no one 
in the cabin, but on the captain's slate an unknown 
hand had written these words : Steer NW. ! No effort 
was spared to solve the mystery ; the whole vessel was 
searched from end to end, but no stranger was discov- 
ered ; even the handwriting of every member of the 
crew was examined, but nothing found resembling in 
the least degree the mysterious warning. After some 
hesitation the captain decided, as nothing was likely to 
be lost by so doing, to obey the behest and ordered the 
helmsman to steer northwest. A few hours later they 
encountered the wreck of a vessel fastened to an ice- 
berg, with a large crew and a number of passengers, in 
expectation of certain death. When the unfortunate 
men were brought back by the ship's boats, Bruce sud- 
denly started in utter amazement, for in one of the 
saved men he recognized, by dress and features, the per- 
son he had seen at the captain's desk in the cabin. The 
stranger was requested to write down the words : Steer 
NW. ! and when the words were compared with those 
still standing on the slate, they were identical ! Upon 
inquiry it turned out that the shipwrecked man had at 
noon fallen into a deep sleep, during which he had seen 
a ship approaching to their rescue. When he had been 
waked half an hour later he had confidently assured 
his fellow-sufferers that they would be rescued, de- 

GHOSTS. 203 

scribing even the vessel that was to come to their assist- 
ance. Words cannot convey the amazement of the un- 
fortunate men when they saw, a few hours afterwards, 
a ship bear down upon them, which bore all the marks 
predicted by their companion, and the latter assured 
Eobert Bruce that every thing on board the vessel ap- 
peared to him perfectly familiar. 

Cases in which men have been seen at the same time 
at two different places are not less frequent, though 
here the explanation is much less easy. A French girl, 
Emilie Sagee, had even to pay a severe penalty for such 
a peculiarity : she was continually met with at various 
places at once, and as she could not give a satisfactory 
excuse for being at one place when her duties required 
her to be at another, she was suspected of sad miscon- 
duct. She lived as governess in a boarding-school in 
Livonia, and the girls of the institute saw her at the 
same time sitting among them and walking below in 
the garden by the side of a friend, and not unfrequent- 
ly two Miss Sagees would be seen standing before the 
blackboard, looking exactly alike and performing the 
same motions, although one of them only wrote with 
chalk on the board. Once, while she was helping a 
friend to lace her dress behind, the latter looked into 
the mirror and to her horror saw two persons standing 
there, whereupon she fell down fainting. The poor 
French girl lost her place not less than nineteen times 
on account of her double existence (Owen, " Foot- 
falls," etc., p. 348). 


Occasionally this " double " appears to others at the 
same time that it is seen by the owner himself. Thus 
the Empress Elizabeth, of Russia, was seen by a Count 
0. and the Imperial Guards, seated in full regalia on 
her throne, in the throne-room, while she was lying fast 
asleep in her bed. The vision was so distinct, and the 
terror of the beholders so great, that the Empress was 
actually waked, and informed of what had happened, by 
her lady-in-waiting, who had herself seen the whole 
scene. The dauntless Empress did not hesitate for a 
moment; she dressed hastily and went to the throne- 
room ; when the doors were thrown open, she saw her- 
self, as the others had seen her; but so far from being 
terrified like her servants, she ordered the guard to fire 
at the apparition. When the smoke had passed away, 
the hall was empty — but the brave Empress died a few 
months latter (Bl cms Prevost, V. p. 92). Jung 
Stilling mentions another striking illustration. A 
young lieutenant, full of health and in high spirits, 
returns home from a merry meeting with old friends. 
As he approaches the house in which he lives, he sees 
lights in his room and, to his great terror, himself in 
the act of being undressed by his servant ; as he stands 
and gazes in speechless wonder, he sees himself walk to 
his bed and lie down. He remains for some time 
dumbfounded and standing motionless in the street, 
till at last a dull, heavy crash arouses him from his 
revery. He makes an effort, goes to the door and rings 
the bell; his servant, who opens the door, starts back 

GHOSTS. 205 

frightened, and wonders how he could have dressed so 
quickly and gone out, as he had bnt just helped him to 
undress. When they enter the bedroom, however, they 
are both still more amazed, for there they find a large 
part of the ceiling on the bed of the officer, "which is 
broken to pieces by the heavy mortar that had fallen 
down. The young lieutenant saw in the warning a 
direct favor of Providence and lived henceforth so as 
to show his gratitude for this almost miraculous escape 
(" Jenseits," p. 105). 

Xot nnfrequently the seeing of a "double" is the 
result of physical or mental disease. Persons suffering 
of catalepsy are especially prone to see their own forms 
mixing with strange persons, who people the room in 
which they are confined. Insanity, also, very often 
begins with the idea, that the patient's own image is 
constantly by his side, accompanying him like his 
shadow wherever he goes, and finally irritating him 
beyond endurance. In these cases there is, of course, 
nothing at work but a diseased imagination, and with 
the return of health the visions also disappear. 

Perhaps the most important branch of this subject 
is the theory, cherished by all nations and in all ages, 
that the dying possess at the last moment and by a 
supreme effort, the mysterious power of making them- 
selves perceptible to friends at a distance. We leave 
out, here also, the numerous instances told of saints. 
because they are generally claimed by the Catholic 
Church as miracles. One of the oldest well-authen- 


ticated cases of the kind, occurred at the court of Cosmo 
de' Medici, in 1499. In the brilliant circle of eminent 
men which the great merchant prince had gathered 
around him, two philosophers, Michael Mercatus, papal 
prothonotary, and Marsilius Ficinus were prominent by 
their vast erudition, their common devotion to Platonic 
philosophy, and the ardent friendship which bound 
them to each other. They had solemnly agreed that he 
who should die first, should convey to the other some 
information about the future state. Ficinus died first, 
and his friend, writing early in the morning near a 
window, suddenly heard a horseman dashing up to his 
house, checking his horse and crying out: "Michael! 
Michael ! nothing is more true than what is said 
of the life to come ! " Mercatus immediately opened 
the window and saw his bosom friend riding at full 
speed down the road, on his white horse, until he was 
out of sight. He returned, full of thought, to his 
studies; but wrote at once to inquire about his friend. 
In due time the answer came, that Ficinus had died- in 
Florence at the very moment in which Mercatus had 
seen him in Rome. Our authority for this re- 
markable account is the Cardinal Baronius, who knew 
Mercatus and heard it from his own lips ; but the dates 
which he mentions do not correspond with the annals 
of history. He places the event in the year 1491, but 
Michele de' Mercati was papal prothonotary under Sixtus 
V. (1585-90) and could, therefore, not have been the 
friend of Ficinus, the famous physician and theologian, 

GHOSTS. 207 

who was one of Savonarola's most distinguished 

Nor can we attach much weight to the old ballads of 
Eoland, which recite in touching simplicity the anguish 
of Charlemagne, when he heard from afar the sound of 
his champion's horn imploring him to come to his 
assistance, although the two armies were at so great a 
distance from each other that when the Emperor at last 
reached the ill-fated valley of Konceval, his heroic friend 
had been dead for some days. Calderon depicts in like 
manner, but with the peculiar coloring of the Spanish 
devotee, how the dying Eusebio calls his absent friend 
Alberto to his bedside, to hear his last confession, and 
how the latter, obeying the mysterious summons, has- 
tens there to fulfil his solemn promise. 

A well-known occurrence of this kind is reported by 
Cotton Mather as having taken place in New England. 
On May 2d, 1687, at 5 o'clock a. m., a young man, called 
Beacon, then living in Boston, suddenly saw his brother, 
whom he had left in London, standing before him in 
his usual costume, but with a bleeding wound in his 
forehead. He told him that he had been foully mur- 
dered by a reprobate, who would soon reach New Eng- 
land ; at the same time he described minutely the ap- 
pearance of his murderer, and implored his brother to 
avenge his death, promising him his assistance. Towards 
the end of June official information reached the colony 
that the young man had died on May 2d, at 5 o'clock 
A. M., from the effects of his wounds. But here, also, 


several inconsistencies diminish the value of the account. 
In the first place, the narrator has evidently forgotten 
the difference in time between London and Boston in 
America, or he has purposely falsified the report, in 
order to make it more impressive. Then the murderer 
never left his country; although he was tried for his 
crime, escaped the penalty of death by the aid of influ- 
ential friends. It is, however, possible that he may have 
had the intention of seeking safety abroad at the time 
he committed the murder. 

The apparition of the great Cardinal of Lorraine at 
the moment of death, is better authenticated. D'Au- 
bigne tells us (Hist. Univer. 1574, p. 719) that the 
queen Catherine of Medici, was retiring one day, at an 
earlier hour than usual, in the presence of the King of 
Navarre, the Archbishop of Lyons, and a number of 
eminent persons, when she suddenly hid her eyes under 
her hands and cried piteously for help. She made great 
efforts to point out to the bystanders the form of the 
Cardinal, whom she saw standing at the foot of her bed 
and offering her his hand. She exclaimed repeatedly: 
" Monsieur le Cardinal, I have nothing to do with you ! " 
and was in a state of most fearful excitement. At last 
one of the courtiers had the wit to go to the Cardinal's 
house, and soon returned with the appalling news that 
the great man had died in that very hour. To this class of 
cases belongs also the well-known vision of Lord Lyt- 
tleton, who had been warned that he would die on a 
certain day, at midnight, and who did die at the 

GHOSTS. 200 

appointed hour, although his friends had purposely ad- 
vanced every clock and watch in the house by half an 
hour, and he himself had gone to bed with his mind 
relieved of all anxiety. Jarvis, in his " Aureditated Ghosh 
Stories/' p. 13, relates the following remarkable case: 
" When General Stuart was Governor of San Domingo, 
in the early part of our war of independence, he was one 
day anxiously awaiting a certain Major von Blomberg, 
who had been expected for some time. At last he de- 
termined to dictate to his secretary a dispatch to the 
Home Government on this subject, when steps were 
heard outside, and the major himself entered, desiring 
to confer with the Governor in private. He said : 
' When you return to England, pray go into Dorset- 
shire to such and such a farm, where you will find my 
son, the fruit of a secret union with Lady Laing. 
Take care of the poor orphan. The woman who has 
reared him has the papers that establish his legitimacy; 
they are in a red morocco pocket-book. Open it and 
make the best use you can of the papers you will find. 
You will never see me again.' Thereupon the major walk- 
ed away, but nobody else had seen him come or go, and 
nobody had opened the house for him. A few days later, 
news reached the island that the vessel on which Blom- 
berg had taken passage, had foundered, and all hands 
had perished, at the very hour when the former had 
appeared to his friend the Governor. It became also 
known that the two friends had pledged each other, not 
onlv that the survivor should take care of the children 


of him who died first, but also that he should make an 
effort to appear to him if permitted to do so. The 
Governor found everything as it had been told him ; 
he took charge of his friend's son, who became a pro- 
tege of Queen Charlotte, when she heard the remarka- 
ble story, and waseducated as a companion of the future 
George IV." 

Lord Byron tells the following story of Captain 
Kidd. He was lying one night in his cabin asleep, 
when he suddenly felt oppressed by a heavy weight 
apparently resting on him ; he opened his eyes, and by 
the feeble light of a small lamp he fancied he saw his 
brother, dressed in full uniform, aud leaning across the 
bed. Under the impression that the whole is a mere 
idle delusion of his senses, he turns over and falls 
asleep once more. But the sense of oppression returns, 
and upon opening his eyes he sees the same image as 
before. Now he tries to seize it, and to his amazement 
touches something wet. This terrifies him, arid he 
calls a brother officer, but when the latter enters, 
nothing is to be seen. After the lapse of several 
months Captain Kidd received information that in that 
same night his brother had been drowned in the In- 
dian Sea. He himself told the story to Lord Byron, 
and the latter endorsed its accuracy (Monthly Rev., 
1830, p. 229). 

One of the most remarkable interviews of this kind, 
which continued for some time, and led to a prolonged 
and interesting conversation during which the three 

GHOSTS. 211 

senses of sight, hearing, and touch, were alike engaged, 
is that which a Mrs. Bargrave had on the 8th of Sep- 
tember, 1805. According to an account given by 
Jarvis ("Aured. Ghost Stories," Lond., 1823), she was 
sitting in her house in Canterbury, in a state of great 
despondency, when a friend of hers, Miss Veal, who 
lived at Dover, and whom she had not seen for two 
years and a half, entered the room. The two ladies 
had formerly been very intimate, aud found equal com- 
fort, during a period of great sorrow, in reading 
together works treating of future life and similar sub- 
jects. Her friend wore a traveling suit, and the clocks 
were striking noon as she entered; Mrs. Bargrave 
wished to embrace her, but Miss Veal held a hand 
before her eyes, stating that she was unwell and drew 
back. She then added that she was on the point of 
making a long journey, and feeling an irresistible de- 
sire to see her friend once more, she had come to Can- 
terbury. She sat down in an arm-chair and began a 
lengthened conversation, during which she begged her 
friend's pardon for having so long neglected her, and 
gradually turned to the subject which had been upper- 
most in Mrs. Bargrave's mind, the views entertained by 
various authors of the life after death. She attempted 
to console the latter, assuring her that " a moment of 
future bliss was ample compensation for all earthly 
sufferings," and that " if the eyes of our mind were as 
open as those of the body, we should see a number of 
higher beings ready for our protection." She declined, 


however, reading certain verses aloud at her friend's re- 
quest, " because holding her head low gave her the 
headache." She frequently passed her hand over her 
face, but at last begged Mrs. Bargrave to write a letter 
to her brother, which surprised her friend very much, for 
in the letter she wished her brother to distribute certain 
rings and sums of money belonging to her among 
friends and kinsmen. At this time she appeared to be 
growing ill again, and Mrs. Bargrave moved close up 
to her in order to support her, in doing so she touched 
her dress and praised the materials, whereupon Miss 
Veal told her that it was recently made, but of a silk 
which had been cleaned. Then she inquired after Mrs. 
Bargrave's daughter, and the latter went to a neighbor- 
ing house to fetch her ; on her way back she saw Miss 
Veal at a distance in the street, which was full of 
people, as it happened to be market-day, but before she 
could overtake her, her friend had turned round a 
corner and disappeared. 

Upon inquiry it appeared that Miss Veal, whom she 
had thus seen, whose dress she had touched, and with 
whom she had conversed for nearly two hours, had died 
the day before i When the question was discussed with 
the relatives of the deceased, it was found that she had 
communicated several secrets to her Canterbury friend. 
The fact that lier dress was made of an old silk-stuff 
was known to but one person, who had done the clean- 
ing and made the dress, which she recognized instantly 
from the description. She had also acknowledged to 

GHOSTS. 213 

Mrs. Bargrave her indebtedness to a Mr. Breton for an 
annual pension of ten pounds, a fact which had been 
utterly unknown during her lifetime. 

In Germany a number of such cases are reported, 
and often by men whose names alone would give 
authority to their statements. Thus the philosopher 
Schopenhauer (Parerga, etc., I. p. 277) mentions a sick 
servant girl in Frankfort on the Main, who died one 
night at the Jewish hospital of the former Free City. 
Early the next morning her sister and her neice, who 
lived several miles from town, appeared at the gate of 
the institution to make inquiries about their kinswoman. 
Both, though living far apart, had seen her distinctly 
during the preceding night, and hence their anxiety. 
The famous writer E. M. Arndt, also, quotes a number 
of striking revelations which were in this manner 
made to a lady of his acquaintance. Thus he was once, 
in 1811, visiting the Island of Rugen, in the Baltic, 
and having been actively engaged all day, was sitting 
in an easy-chair, quietly nodding. Suddenly he sees 
his dear old aunt Sophie standing before him ; on her 
face her well-known sweet smile, and in her arms her 
two little boys, whom he loved like his own. She was 
holding them out to him as if she wished to say by this 
gesture : " Take care of the little ones ! " The next 
day his brother joined him and brought him the news 
that their aunt had died on the preceding evening at 
the hour when she had appeared to Arndt. Wieland, 
even, by no means given to credit easily accounts of 


supernatural occurrences, mentions in his "Euthan- 
asia " a Protestant lady of his acquaintance, whose mind 
was frequently filled with extraordinary visions. She 
was a somnambulist, and subject to cataleptic attacks. 
A Benedictine monk, an old friend of the family, had 
been ordered to Bellinzona, in Switzerland, but his 
correspondence with his friends had never been inter- 
rupted for years. Years after his removal the above- 
mentioned lady was taken ill, and at once predicted 
the day and hour of her death. On the appointed day 
she was cheerful and perfectly composed ; at a certain 
hour, however, she raised herself slightly on her couch, 
and said with a sweet smile, " Now it is time for me to 
go and say good-bye to Father 0. She immediately 
fell asleep, then awoke again, spoke a few words, and 
died. At the same hour the monk was sitting in Bel- 
linzona at his writing-table, a so-called pandora, a mu- 
sical instrument, by his side. Suddenly he hears a noise 
like an explosion, and looking up startled, sees a white 
figure, in whom he at once recognizes his distant friend 
by her sweet smile. When he examined his instrument 
he found the sounding-board cracked, which, no doubt, 
had given rise to his hearing what he considered a 
" warning voice." The Rev. Mr. Oberlin, well-known 
and much revered in Germany, and by no means forgot- 
ten in our own country, where a prosperous college still 
bears his name, declares in his memoirs that he had for 
nine years constant intercourse with his deceased wife. 
He saw her for the first time after her death in broad 

GHOSTS. 215 

daylight and when he was wide awake; afterwards the 
conversations were carried on partly in the day and 
partly at night. Other people in the village in which 
he lived saw her as well as himself. Nor was it by the 
eye only that the pious, excellent man judged of her 
presence ; frequently, when he extended his hand, he 
would feel his fingers gently pressed, as his wife had 
been in the habit of doing when she passed by him and 
would not stop. But there was much bitterness and 
sorrow also mixed up with the sweetness of these mys- 
terious relations. The passionate attachment of hus- 
band and wife could ill brook the terrible barrier that 
separated them from each other, and often the latter 
would look so wretched and express her grief in such 
heartrending words that the poor minister was deeply 
afflicted. The impression produced on his mind was 
that her soul, forced for unknown reasons to remain for 
some time in an intermediate state, remained warmly 
attached to earthly friends and lamented the inability 
to confer with them after the manner of men. After 
nine years the husband's visions suddenly ended and 
he was informed in a dream that his wife had been ad- 
mitted into a higher heaven, where she enjoyed the 
promised peace with her Saviour, but could no longer 
commune with mortal beings. 

It is well known that even the great reformer, Mar- 
tin Luther, knew of several similar cases, and in his 
" Table Talk " mentions more than one remarkable in- 


Another well-known and much discussed occurrence 
of this kind happened in the days of Mazarin, and cre- 
ated a great sensation in the highest circles at Paris. A 
marquis of Eambouillet and a marquis of Preci, inti- 
mate friends, had agreed to inform each other of their 
fate after death. The former was ordered to the army 
in Flanders, while the other remained in the capital. 
Here he was taken ill with a fever, several weeks after 
parting with his friend, and as he was one morning to- 
wards 6 o'clock lying in bed awake, the curtains were 
suddenly drawn aside, and his friend dressed as usual, 
booted and spurred, was standing before him. Over- 
joyed, he was about to embrace him, but his friend 
drew back and said that he had come only to keep his 
promise after having been killed in a skirmish the day 
before, and that Preci also would share his fate in the 
first combat in which he should be engaged. The latter 
thinks his friend is joking, jumps up and tries to 
seize him — but he feels nothing. The vision, however, 
is still there; Eambouillet even shows him the fatal 
wound in his thigh from which the blood seems still to 
be flowing. Then only he disappears and Preci re- 
mains utterly overcome; at last he summons his valet, 
rouses the whole house, and causes every room and 
every passage to be searched. No trace, however, is 
found, and the whole vision is attributed to his fever. 
But a few days later the mail arrives from Flanders, 
bringing the news that Eambouillet had really fallen in 
such a skirmish and died from a wound in the thigh ; 

GHOSTS. 217 

the prediction also was fulfilled, for Preci fell afterwards 
in his first fight near St. Antoine (Petaval, Causes 
.y.xii. 269). 

The parents of the well-known writer Schubert were 
exceptionally endowed with magic powers of this kind. 
The father once heard, as he thought in a dream, 
the voice of his aged mother, who called upon him to 
come and visit her in the distant town in which she 
lived, if he desired to see her once more before she died. 
He rejected the idea that this was more than a common 
dream ; but soon he heard the voice repeating the warn- 
ing. Xow he jumped up and saw his mother standing 
before him, extending her hand and saving: *• Christian 
Gottlob, farewell, and may God bless you; you will not 
see me again upon earth," and with these words she 
disappeared. Although no one had apprehended such a 
calamity, she had actually died at that hour, after 
expressing in her last moments a most anxious desire 
to see her son once more. 

Tangible perceptions of persons dying at a distance 
are, of course, very rare. Still, more than one such 
case is authoritatively stated: among these, the follow- 
ing : A lawyer in Paris had returned home and walked, 
in order to reach his own bedroom, through that of his 
brother. To his great astonishment he saw the latter 
lying in his bed : received, however, no answer to his 
questions. Thereupon he walked up to the bed, 
touched his brother and found the body icy cold. Of a 
sudden the form vanished and the bed was empty. At 



that instant it flashed through his mind that he and 
his brother had promised each other that the one dying 
first should, if possible, give a sign to the survivor. 
When he recovered from the deep emotion caused by 
these thoughts, he left the room and as he opened the 
door he came across a number of men who bore the 
body of his brother, who had been killed by a fall from 
his horse {La Patrie, Sept. 22, 1857). The Count of 
Neuilly, also, was warned in a somewhat similar man- 
ner. He was at college and on the point of paying a 
visit to his paternal home, when a letter came telling 
him that his father was not quite well and that he had 
better postpone his visit a few days. Later letters from 
his mother mentioned nothing to cause him any un- 
easiness. But several days afterward, at one o'clock in 
the morning, he thought, apparently in a dream, that 
he saw a pale ghastly figure rise slowly at the lower end 
of his bed, extend both arms, embrace him and then 
sink slowly down again out of sight. He uttered heart- 
rending cries, and fell out of his bed, upsetting a chair 
and a table. When his tutor and a man-servant rushed 
into the room, they found him lying unconscious on 
the floor, covered with cold, clammy perspiration and 
strangely disfigured. As soon as he was restored to 
consciousness, he burst out into tears and assured them 
that his father had died and come to take leave of him. 
In vain did his friends try to calm his mind, he re- 
mained in a state of utter dejection. Three days later 
a letter came from his mother, bringing him the sad 

GHOSTS. 219 

news, that his father had died on that night and at the 
honr in which he had appeared by his bedside. The 
unfortunate Count could never entirely get rid of the 
overwhelming impression which this occurrence had 
made on his mind, and was, to the day of his death, 
firmly convinced of the reality of this meeting (Dix 
Annees cV emigration. Paris, 1865). 

We learn from such accounts that there prevails 
among all men, at all ages, a carefully repressed, but 
almost irresistible belief in supernatural occurrences, 
and in the close proximity of the spirit world. This 
belief is neither to be treated with ridicule nor to be 
objected to as unchristian, since it is an abiding wit- 
ness that men entertain an ineradicable conviction of 
tne immortality of the soul. ISTo arguments can ever 
destroy in the minds of the vast majority of men this 
innate and intuitive faith. "We may decline to believe 
with them the existence of supernatural agencies, as 
long as no experimental basis is offered ; but we ought, 
at the same time, to be willing to modify our incre- 
dulity as soon as an accumulation of facts appear to 
justify us in so doing. Our age is so completely given 
up to materialism with its ceaseless hurry and worry, 
that we ought to hail with a sense of relief new powers 
which require examination, and which offer to our in- 
tellectual faculties an untrodden field of investigation, 
full of incidents refreshing to our weary mind, and 
promising rich additions to our store of knowledge. 

It can hardly be denied that there is at least a pos- 


sibility of the existence of a higher spiritual power 
within ns, which, often slumbering and altogether un- 
known, or certainly unobserved during life, becomes 
suddenly free to act in the hour of death. This may 
be brought about by the fact that at that time the 
strength of the body is exhausted, and earthly wants 
no longer press upon us, while the spiritual part of our 
being, largely relieved of its' bondage, becomes active in 
its own peculiar way, and thus acquires a power which 
we are disposed to call a magic power. This power is, 
of course, not used consciously, for consciousness pre- 
supposes the control over our senses, but it acts by in- 
tuitive impulse. Hence the wide difference existing 
between the so-called magic gf charmers, enchanters, 
and conjurors, justly abhorred and strictly prohibited 
by divine laws, and the effects of such supreme efforts 
made by the soul, which depend upon involuntary 
action, and are never made subservient to wicked pur- 

The results of such exertions are generally impres- 
sions made apparently upon the eye or the ear ; but it 
need not be said that what is seen or heard in such 
cases, is merely the effect of a deeply felt sensation in 
our soul which seeks an outward expression. If our 
innermost being is thus suddenly appealed to, as it 
were, by the spirit of a dying friend or companion, his 
image arises instantaneously before our mind's eye, and 
we fancy we see him in bodily form, or our memory 
recalls the familiar sounds by which his appearance 

GHOSTS. v 221 

was wont to be accompanied. Dying musicians remind 
distant friends of their former relations by sweet 
sounds, and a sailor, wounded to death, appears in his 
uniform to relatives at home. The series of sights and 
sounds by which such intercourse is established, yaries 
from the simplest and faintest vision to an apparently 
clear and distinct perception of well-known forms, and 
constitute feeble, hardly perceptible, sighs or sobs to 
words uttered aloud, or whole melodies clearly recited. 
If a living person, by such an unconscious but all-power- 
ful effort of will, makes himself seen by others, we call 
the vision a "double," in German, a " Doppelganger ; " 
if he produces a state of dualism, such as has been men- 
tioned before, and sees his own self in space before him, 
we speak of second sight. 

Such efforts are, however, by no means strictly lim- 
ited to the moment of dissolution, when soul and body are 
already in the act of parting. They occur also in living 
persons, but almost invariably only in diseased persons. 
The exceptions belong to the small number of men in 
whom great excitement from without, or a mysterious 
power of will, cause a state of ecstasy ; they are, in com- 
mon parlance, " beside themselves." In this condition, 
their soul is for the moment freed from the bondage in 
which it is held by its earthy companion, and such men 
become clairvoyants and prophets, or they are enabled 
actually to affect other men at a distance, in various 
ways. Thus it may very well be, that strange visions, 
the hearing of mysterious voices, and especially the 


most familiar phenomenon, second sight, are in reality 
nothing more than symptoms of a thoroughly diseased 
system, and this explains very simply the frequency 
with which death follows such mysterious occurrences. 

Men have claimed — and proved to the satisfaction of 
more or less considerable numbers of friends — that they 
could at will cause a partial and momentary parting be- 
tween their souls and their bodies. Here also antiquity is 
our first teacher, if we believe Pliny {Hist. Nat. vii. c. 
52), Hermotimus could at his pleasure fall into a trance 
and then let his soul proceed from his body to distant 
places. Upon being aroused, he reported what he had 
seen and heard abroad, and his statements were, in every 
case, fully confirmed. Cardanus, also, could volun- 
tarily throw himself into a state of apparent syncope, as 
he tells us in most graphic words {Be Res. Var. v. iii. 1. 
viii. c. 43). The first sensation of which he was always 
fully conscious, was a peculiar pain in the head, which 
gradually extended downward along the spine, and at 
last spread over the extremities — evidently a purely 
nervous process. Then he felt as if a " door was opened, 
and he himself was leaving his body," whereupon he 
not only saw persons at a distance, but noticed all that 
befell them, and recalled it after he had recovered from 
the trance. An old German Abbe, Freitheim, of whose 
remarkable work on Steganographie (1621), unfortun- 
ately only a few sheets have been preserved, claims the 
power to commune with absent friends by the mere en- 
ergy of his will. " I can," says he, " make known my 

GHOSTS. 223 

thoughts to the initiated, at a distance of many hundred 
miles, without word, writing or cypher, by any messenger. 
The latter cannot betray me, for he knows nothing. 
If needs be, I can even dispense with the messenger. 
If my correspondent should be buried in the deepest 
dungeon I could still convey to him my thoughts as 
clearly, as fully, and as frequently as might be desir- 
able, and all this, quite simply, without superstition, 
without the aid of spirits." 

The famous Agrippa (Be occulta philos., Lugduni, 
III. p. 13) quotes the former writer, and asserts 
that he also could, by mere effort of will, in a 
perfectly simple and natural manner convey his 
thoughts not to the initiated only, but to any one, 
even when his correspondent's present place of resi- 
dence should be unknown. The most remarkable, 
and, at the same time, the best authenticated case 
of this kind, is that of a high German official men- 
tioned in a scientific paper (Xasse. Zeitschrift far 
psycliisclie Aerzte, 1820), and frequently copied into 
others. A Counsellor Wesermann claimed to be able 
to cause distant friends to dream of any subject he 
might choose. Whenever he awoke at night and made 
a determined effort to produce such an effect, he never 
failed, provided the nature of the desired dream was 
calculated to startle or deeply excite his friends. His 
power was tested in this manner. He engaged to cause 
a young officer, who was stationed at Aix-la-Cbapelle, 
nearly fifty miles from his own home, to dream of a 


young lady who had died not long ago. It was eleven 
o'clock at night, but by some accident the lieutenant 
was not at home in bed, but at a friend's country-seat, 
discussing the French campaign. Suddenly the col- 
onel, his host, and he himself see at the same time the 
door open, a lady enter, salute them sadly, and beckon 
them to follow her. The two officers rise and leave the 
room after her, but once out of doors, the figure disap- 
pears, and when they inquire of the sentinels standing 
guard outside, they are told that no one has entered. 
What made the matter more striking yet, was the fact 
that although both men had seen the door open, this 
could not really have been so, for the wood had sprung 
and the door creaked badly whenever it was opened. 
The same Wesermann could, in like manner, cause his 
friends to see his own person and to hear secrets which 
he seemed to whisper into their ears whenever he 
chose ; but he admitted upon it that his will was not 
at all times equally strong, and that, hence, his efforts 
were not always equally successful. Cases of similar 
powers are very numerous. A very curious example 
was published in 1852, in a work on "Psychologic 
Studies " (Schlemmer, p. 59). The author, who was a 
police agent in the Prussian service, asserted that per- 
sons who apprehended being conducted to gaol with 
special anxiety, often made themselves known there in 
advance, announcing their arrival by knocks at the 
gates, opening of doors, or footsteps heard in the room 
set aside for examining new comers. One day, not the 

GHOSTS. 225 

writer only, but all the prisoners in the same building, 
and even the sentinel at the gate heard distinctly a 
great disturbance and the rattling of chains in a cell 
exclusively appropriated to murderers. The next day 
a criminal was brought who had expressed such horror 
of this gaol, and made such resistance to the officials 
who were to carry him there, that it had become neces- 
sary, after a great uproar, to chain him hands and feet. 
It is well known that the mother of the great statesman 
Canning at one time of her life suffered under most 
mysterious though harmless nightly visitations. Her 
circumstances were such that she readily accepted the 
offer of a dwelling which stood unoccupied, with the 
exception of the basement, in which a carpenter had 
his workshop. At nightfall he and his workmen left 
the house, carefully locking the door, but night after 
night, at twelve o'clock precisely, work began once 
more in the abandoned part of the house, as far as the 
ear could judge, and the noise made by planing and 
sawing, cutting and carving increased, till the fearless 
old lady slipt down in her stocking feet and opened the 
door. Instantly the noise was hushed, and she looked 
into the dark deserted room. But as soon as she re- 
turned to her chamber the work began anew, and con- 
tinued for some time ; nor was she the only one who 
heard it, but others, the owner of the house included, 
heard everything distinctly. 

The following well-authenticated account of a pos- 
thumous appearance, is not without its ludicrous ele- 


ment. A court-preacher in one of the little Saxon 
Duchies, appeared once in bands and gowns before his 
sovereign, bowing most humbly and reverently. The 
duke asked what he desired, but received no answer ex- 
cept another deep reverence. A second question meets 
with the same reply, whereupon the divine leaves the 
room, descends the stairs and crosses the court-yard, 
while the prince, much surprised at his strange conduct, 
stands at a wiDdow and watches him till he reaches the 
gates. Then he sends a page after him to try and as- 
certain what was the matter with the old gentleman, 
but the page comes running back almost beside himself, 
and reports that the minister had died a short while 
before. The prince refuses to believe his report, and 
sends a high official, but the latter returns with the 
same report and this additional information : The dy- 
ing man had asked for writing materials, in order to 
recommend his widow to his sovereign, but had hardly 
commenced writing the letter when death surprised 
him. The fragment was brought to the duke and con- 
vinced him that his faithful servant, unable to reach him 
by letter, and yet nervously anxious to approach him, 
had spiritually appeared to him in his most familiar cos- 
tume (Daumer, Mystagog. I. p. 224). 

Before we regret such statements or treat them with 
ridicule, it will be well to remember, that men endowed 
with an extraordinary power of controlling certain fac- 
ulties of body and soul, are by no means rare, and that 
the difference between them and those last mentioned, 

GHOSTS. 227 

consists only in the degree. We speak of the power of 
sight and limit it ordinarily to a certain distance — and 
yet a Hottentot, we are told, can perceive the head of a 
gazelle in the dry, uniform grass of an African plain, at 
the distance of a thousand yards! Many men cannot 
hear sounds in nature which are perfectly audible to 
others, while some persons hear even certain notes 
uttered by tiny insects, which escape altogether the 
average hearing of man. Patients under treatment by 
Baron Reichenbach, saw luminous objects and the ap- 
pearance of lights hovering above ground, where neither 
he nor any of his friends could perceive anything but 
utter darkness, and the special gift with which some 
persons are endowed to feel, as it were* the presence of 
water and of metals below the surface, is w T ell authenti- 
cated. Poor Caspar Hauser, bred in darkness and soli- 
tude, felt various and deep impressions upon his whole 
being during the first months of his free life, whenever 
he came in contact with plants, stones or muetals. The 
latter sent a current through all his limbs ; tobacco fields 
made him deadly sick, and the vicinity of a graveyard 
gave him violent pains in his chest. Persons who were 
introduced to him for the first time, sent a cold current 
through him ; and when they possessed a specially power- 
ful physique, they caused him abundant perspiration, and 
often even convulsions. The waves of sound he felt so 
much more acutely than others, that he always contin- 
ued to hear them with delight, long after the last sound 
had passed away from the ears of others. It maybe fairly 


presumed that this extreme sensitiveness to outward im- 
pressions is originally possessed by all men, but becomes 
gradually dulled and dimmed by constant repetition ; at 
the same time it may certainly be preserved in rare privi- 
leged cases, or it may come back again to the body in 
a diseased or disordered condition, and at the moment 
of dissolution. 

Nor is the power occasionally granted to men to con- 
trol their senses limited to these ; even the spontaneous 
functions of the body are at times subject to the will of 
man. An Englishman, for instance, could at will mod- 
ify the beating of his heart (Oheyne, " New Dis.," p. 307), 
and a German produced, like a veritable ruminant, the 
antiperistaltic motions of the stomach, whenever he 
chose (Blumenbach, Pliys. § 294). Other men have 
been known who could at any moment cause the famil- 
iar "goose-skin," or perspiration, to appear in any part 
of the body, and many persons can move not only the 
ears — a lost faculty according to Darwin — but even en- 
large or contract the pupil of the eye, after the manner 
of cats and parrots. Even the circulation of the blood has 
been known, in a few rare cases, to have been subject to 
the will of men, and the great philosopher Kant did not 
hesitate to affirm, supported as he was by his own ex- 
perience, that men could, if they were but resolute 
enough, master, by a mere effort of the will, not a few of 
their diseases. 

A striking evidence of the comparative facility with 
which men thus exceptionally gifted, may be able to 


imitate certain magic phenomena, was once given by an 
excellent mimic, whom Richard describes in his Theorie 
He could change his features so complete- 
ly that they assumed a deathlike appearance ; his 
senses lost gradually their power of perception, and the 
vital spirit was seen to withdraw from the outer world. 
A slow, quivering motion passed through his whole sys- 
1 from the feet upward, as if he wished to rise from 
the ground. After a while all efforts of the body to 
remain upright proved fruitless: it looked as if life had 
actually begun to leave it already. At this moment he 
abandoned his deception and was so utterly exhausted 
that he heard and saw but with extreme difficulty. 

In the face of these facts the possibility at least can- 
not be denied that certain specially endowed individu- 
als may possess, in health or in disease, the power to 
perceive phenomena which appear all the more marvel- 
ous because they are beyond the reach of ordinary pow- 
ers of perception. 

In our own day superstition and wanton,, or cunning- 
ly devised,, imposture have been so largely mixed up 
with the subject, that a strong and very natural preju- 
dice has gradually grown up against the belief in ghosts. 
Every strange appearance, every mysterious coinci- 
dence, that escaped the most superficial investigation, 

- forthwith called a ghost. History records, bes: \ 
numerous cases in which the credulity of great men 
has been played upon fur purposes of policy and state- 
craft. When the German Emperor Joseph showed his 


great fondness of Augustus of Saxony — afterwards 
king of Poland — his Austrian counsellors became 
alarmed at the possible influence of such intimacy of 
their sovereign with a Protestant prince, and determin- 
ed to break it off. Night after night, therefore, a fear- 
ful vision arose before the German emperor, rattling its 
chains and accusing the young prince of grievous her- 
esy. Augustus, however, known already at that time 
for his gigantic strength, asked Joseph's permission to 
sleep in his room ; w r hen the ghost appeared as usual, 
the young prince sprang upon him, and feeling his 
flesh and blood, threw him bodily out of a window of 
the second story into a deep fosse. The unfortunate 
king of Prussia, Frederick William II., fell soon after 
his ascension of the throne into the hands of designing 
men, who determined to profit by his great kindness of 
heart and his tendency to mysticism, and began to 
work upon him by supernatural apparitions. One of 
the most cunningly devised impostures of the kind 
was practised upon King Gustavus III. of Sweden by 
ambitious noblemen of his court. 

The scene was the ancient Lofoe church in Dro- 
tingholm, a favorite residence of former Swedish mon- 
archs. The king's physician, Iven Hedin, learnt acci- 
dentally from the sexton that his master had been 
spending several nights in the building, in company 
with a few of his courtiers. Alarmed by this informa- 
tion he persuaded the sexton to let him watch the pro- 
ceedings from a secret place in the old steeple of the 

GHOSTS. 231 

church. An opportunity came in the month of Au- 
gust, 1782, and he had scarcely taken possession of 
his post when two of the royal secretaries came in, 
closed the door, and arranged a curious contrivance in 
the body of the building. To his great surprise and 
amusement the doctor saw them fasten some horse-hairs 
to the heavy chandeliers suspended from the lofty ceil- 
ing, and then pin to them masks sewed on to white 
floating garments. Finally large quantities of incense 
were scattered on the floor and set on fire, while all 
lights, save a few thin candles, were extinguished. 
Then the king was ushered in with five of his courtiers, 
made to assume a peculiar, very irksome position, and 
all were asked to hold naked swords upon each other's 
breasts. Thereupon the first comer murmured certain 
formulas of conjuration, and performed some cere- 
monies, when his companion slowly drew up one of the 
masks. It was fashioned to resemble the great Gus- 
tavus Adolphus, and in the dimly-lighted church, filled 
with dense smoke, it looked to all intents and purposes 
like a ghost arising from the vaults underneath. It 
disappeared as slowly into the darkness above, and was 
immediately followed by another mask representing 
Adolphus Frederick, and even the physician, who knew 
the secret, could not repress a shudder, so admirably 
was the whole contrived. Then followed a few flashes 
of lightning, during which the horse-hairs were re- 
moved, lights were brought in, and the king, deeply 
moved and shedding silent tears, escorted from the 


building. The faithful physician watched his oppor- 
tunity, and when a favorable hour appeared, revealed 
the secret to his master, and thus, fortunately for 
Sweden, defeated a very dangerous and most skillfully- 
conducted conspiracy. 

Even ventriloquism has lent its aid to many an his- 
torical imposture, as in the case of Francis I. of France, 
whose valet, Louis of Brabant, possessed great skill in 
that art, and used it unsparingly for his own benefit 
and to the advantage of courtiers who employed him 
for political purposes. He even persuaded the mother 
of a beautiful and wealthy young lady to give him her 
daughter's hand by imitating the voice of her former 
husband, and commanding her to do so in order to 
release him from purgatory ! 

"We fear that to this class of ghostly appearances 
must also be counted the almost historical White Lady 
of the Margraves of Brandenburg. 

Eeport says that she represents a Countess Kunigunde 
of Orlamunde, who lived in the fourteenth century 
and killed her two children, for which crime she was 
executed by order of a Burggrave of Nuremberg. His- 
tory, however, knows nothing of such an event, and 
the White Lady does not appear till I486, when she is 
first seen in the old palace at Baireuth. This was noth- 
ing but a trick of the courtiers; whenever they desired 
to leave the dismal town and the uncomfortable build- 
ing, one of the court ladies personated the ghost, and 
occasionally, even two white ladies were seen at the 

ghosts. 23:> 

same time. In 1540 the ghost met with a tragic fate ; 
it had appeared several times in the castle of Margrave 
Albert the warrior, and irritated the prince to such a 
degree that he at last seized it one night and hnrled it 
headlong down the long staircase. The morning dawn 
revealed his chancellor, Christopher Strass, who had be- 
trayed his master and now paid with a broken neck for 
his bold imposture. After this catastrophe the White 
Lady was not seen for nearly a hundred years, w r hen she 
suddenly reappeared in Baireuth. In the year 1677 the 
then reigning Margrave of Brandenburg found her one 
day sitting in his own chair and was terrified ; the next 
day he rode out, fell from his horse, and was instantly 
killed. From this time the White Lady became a part 
of the history of the house of Brandenburg, accompany- 
ing the princes to Berlin and making it her duty to 
forewarn the illustrious family of any impending ca- 
lamity. King Frederick I. saw her distinctly, but other 
sovereigns discerned only a vague outline and now and 
then the nose and eyes, while all the rest was closely 
veiled. In the old palace at Baireuth there exist to this 
day two portraits of the White Lady, one in white, as 
she appeared of old, and very beautiful, the other in 
black satin, with her hair powdered and dressed after 
more modern fashion — there is no likeness between the 
two faces. The ghost was evidently a good patriot, for 
she disturbed French officers w r ho were quartered there, 
in the new palace as well as in the old, and as late as 
1806 thoroughly frightened a number of generals who 


had laughed at the credulity of the Germans. In 1809 
General d'Espagne roused his aids in the depth of night 
by fearful cries, and when they rushed in he was found 
lying in the centre of the room, under the bedstead. 
He told them that the White Lady, in a costume of 
black and white, resembling one of the portraits, had 
appeared and threatened to strangle him ; in the strug- 
gle she had dragged the bedstead to the middle of the 
room and there upset it. The room was thoroughly 
searched at his command, the hangings removed from 
the walls, and the whole floor taken up, but no trace 
was found of any opening through which a person 
might have entered; the doors had been guarded by 
sentinels. The general left the place immediately, 
looking upon the vision as a warning of impending 
evil, and, sure enough, a few days later he found his 
death upon the battle-field of Aspern. Even the great 
Napoleon, whose superstition was generally thought to 
be confined to his faith in his " star," would not lodge 
in the rooms haunted by the White Lady, and when he 
reached Baireuth in 1812, a suite of rooms was prepared 
for him in another wing of the palace. It was, how- 
ever, noticed that even there his night's rest must have 
been interrupted, for on the next morning he was re- 
markably nervous and out of humor, murmuring 
repeatedly " Oe maud it chateau" and declaring that he 
would never again stay at the place. When he returned 
to that neighborhood in 1813, he refused to occupy the 
rooms that had been prepared for him, and continued 

GHOSTS. 235 

his journey far into the night, rather than remain at 
Bairenth. The town was, however, forever relieved of 
its ill-fame after 1822. It is not without interest that 
in the same year the steward of the royal palace died, 
and report says in his rooms were found a number of 
curiosities apparently connected with the White Lady's 
costume ; if this be so, his ardent patriotism and fierce 
hatred of the French might well furnish a cue to some 
of the more recent apparitions. The White Lady con- 
tinued to appear in Berlin, and the terror she created 
was not even allayed by repeated discoveries of most 
absurd efforts at imposture. Once she turned out to be 
a white towel agitated by a strong draught between two 
windows; at another time it was a kitchen-maid on an 
errand of love, and a third time an old cook taking an 
airing in the deserted rooms. She appeared once more 
in the month of February, 1820, announcing, as many 
believed, the death of the reigning monarch, which 
took place in June; and quite recently (1872) similar 
warning was given shortly before the emperor's brother, 
Prince Albrecht, died in his palace. 

White ladies are, however, by no means an exclusive 
privilege of the house of Brandenburg; Scotland has 
its ancient legends, skillfully used in novel, poem and 
opera, and Italy boasts of a Donna Bianca, at Colalta, 
in the Marca Erivigiana, of whom Byron spoke as if he 
had never doubted her existence. Ireland has in like 
manner the Banshee, who warns with her plaintive 
voice the descendants of certain old families, whenever 


a great calamity threatens one of the members. Curi- 
ously enough she clings to these once powerful but 
now often wretchedly poor families, as if pride of 
descent and attachment to old splendor prevailed even 
in the realms of magic. 

Historical ghosts play, nevertheless, a prominent part 
in all countries. Lilly, Baxter and Clarendon, all 
relate the remarkable warnings which preceded the 
murder of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. In this case 
the warning was given not to the threatened man, but 
to an old and faithful friend, who had already been 
intimate with the duke's father. He saw the latter 
appear to him several nights in succession, urging him 
to go to the duke, and after revealing to him certain 
peculiar circumstances, to warn him against the plots 
of his enemies, who threatened his life. Parker was 
afraid to appear ridiculous and delayed giving the 
warning. But the ghost left him no peace, and at last, 
in order to decide him, revealed to him a secret only 
known to himself and his ill-fated son. The latter, 
when his old friend at last summoned courage to 
deliver the mysterious message, was at first inclined to 
laugh at the warning; but when Parker mentioned the 
father's secret, he turned pale and declared only the 
Evil One could have entrusted it to mortal man. 
Nevertheless, he took no steps to rid himself of his 
traitorous friend and continued his sad life as before. 
The father's ghost thereupon appeared once more to 
Parker, with deep sadness in his features and hold- 

GHOSTS. 237 

ing a knife in his hand, with which, he said, his 
unfortunate son would be murdered. Parker, whose 
own impending death had been predicted at the same 
time, once more waited upon the great duke, but again 
in vain : he was rudely sent back and requested not to 
trouble the favorite's peace any more by his foolish 
dreams. A few days afterwards Lieutenant Eelton 
assassinated the duke with precisely such a knife as 
Parker had seen in his visions. 

A similar occurrence is related of the famous Duchess 
of Mazarin, the favorite of Charles II., and Madame de 
Beauclair, who stood in the same relation to James II. 
The two ladies, who were bosom friends, had pledged 
their word to each other, that she who died first should 
appear to the survivor and inform her of the nature of the 
future state. The duchess died ; but as no message came 
from her, her friend denied stoutly and persistently the 
immortality of the soul. But many years later, when 
the promise was long forgotten, the duchess suddenly 
was seen one night, gliding softly through the room 
and looking sweetly at her friend, whispering to her : 
" Beauclair, between twelve and one o'clock to-night 
you will be near me." The poor lady died at the 
appointed hour (Xork. " Existence of Spirits/' p. 260). 
Less well-authenticated is the account of a warning 
given to King George I. shortly before his death, 
although it was generally believed throughout England 
at the time it occurred. The report was that 
the Queen, Sophia, repeatedly showed herself to her 


husband, beseeching him to break off his intercourse 
with his beautiful friend, Lady Horatia. As these 
requests availed nothing, and the monarch refused even 
to believe in the reality of her appearance, she at last 
tied a knot in a lace collar, declaring that " if mortal 
fingers could untie the knot, the king and Lady 
Horatia might laugh at her words." The fair lady 
tried her best to undo it, but giving it up in despair, 
she threw the collar into the fire; the king, highly 
excited, snatched the lace from the burning coals, but 
in so doing, touched with it the light gauze dress of 
his companion. In her terror she ran with great swift- 
ness through room after room, thus fanning the flames 
into a blaze, and perished amid excruciating pains. 
The king, it is well known, died only two months 

A case which created a very great sensation at the 
time when it happened, and became generally known 
through the admirable manner in which it was nar- 
rated by the eloquent Bernardin de St. Pierre (Jour- 
nal de Trevoux, vol. viii.), was that of the priest Bezuel. 
When a young man of 15, and at college, he contracted 
an intimate friendship with the son of a royal official, 
called Desfontaines. The two friends often spoke of future 
life, and when parted in 1696, they signed with their 
blood a solemn compact, in which they agreed that the 
first who died should appear after death to the survivor. 
They wrote to each other constantly, and frequently 
alluded in their letters to the agreement. A year after 

GHOSTS. 239 

their parting, Bezuel happened to be, one day, in the 
fields, delivering a message to some workmen, when he 
suddenly fell down fainting. As he was in perfect health, 
he knew not what to think of this accident, but when 
it occurred a second and a third time, at the same hour, 
on the two following days, he became seriously uneasy. 
On the last occasion, however, he fell into a trance, in 
which he saw nothing around him, but beheld his friend 
Desfontaines, who seized him by the arm and led him 
some thirty yards aside. The workmen saw him go 
there, as if obeying a guardian hand, and converse with 
an unseen person for three quarters of an hour. The 
young man heard here from his friend's lips, that he 
had been drowned while bathing in the river Orne on 
the day and at the hour when Bezuel had had his first 
fainting fit, that a companion had endeavored to save 
him, but when seized by the foot by the drowning man, 
had kicked him on the chest, and thus caused him to 
sink to the bottom. Bezuel inquired after all the de- 
tails and received full answers, but none to questions 
about the future life; nevertheless, the apparition con- 
tinued to speak fluently but calmly, and requested Bez- 
uel to make certain communications to his kinsmen, 
and to repeat the " seven penitential psalms," which he 
ought to have said himself as a penance. It also men- 
tioned the work in which Desfontaines had been en- 
gaged up to the day of his death, and some names which 
he had cut in the bark of a tree near the town in which 
he lived. Then it disappeared. Bezuel was not able to 


carry out his friend's wishes, although the arm by which 
lie had been seized, reminded him daily of his duty by 
a severe pain ; after a month, the drowned man appeared 
twice more, urging his requests, and saying each time 
at the end of the interview, " bis, Ms" just as he had 
been accustomed to do when in life. At last the young 
priest found the means to do his friend's bidding ; the 
pain in the arm ceased instantly and his health remain- 
ed perfect to the end of his life. When he reached Caen 
where Desfontaines had perished, he found everything 
precisely as he had been told in his visions, and two 
years afterwards he discovered by chance even the tree 
with the names cut in the bark. The amiable Abbe 
de St. Pierre does his best to explain the whole occur- 
rence as a natural series of very simple accidents ; there 
can be, however, no doubt of the exceptionable char- 
acter of the leading features of the event, and the priest, 
from whose own account the facts are derived, must 
evidently in his trance have been endowed with powers 
of clairvoyance. 

In the first part of this century a book appeared in 
Germany which led to a very general and rather violent 
discussion of the whole subject. It was written by a 
Dr. Woetzel, whose mind had, no doubt, been long 
engaged in trying to solve mysteries like that of the 
future life, since he had early come in contact with 
strange phenomena. The father of a dear friend of his 
having fainted in consequence of receiving a serious 
wound, was very indignant at being roused from the 

GHOSTS. 241 

state of perfect bliss which he had enjoyed during the 
time. He affirmed that in the short interval he had 
visited his brother in Berlin, whom he found sitting in 
a bower under a large linden-tree, surrounded by his 
family and a few friends, and engaged in drinking 
coffee. Upon entering the garden, his brother had 
risen, advanced towards him and asked him what had 
brought him so unexpectedly to Berlin. A few days 
after the fainting-fit a letter arrived from that city, 
inquiring what could have happened on that day and 
at that hour, and reciting all that the old gentleman 
had reported as having been done during his uncon- 
sciousness ! Nor had the latter been seen by his 
brother only, but quite as distinctly by the whole com- 
pany present ; his image had, however, vanished again 
as soon as his brother had attempted to touch him 
(Woetzel, p. 215). From his work we learn that he 
had begged his wife on her death-bed to appear to him 
after death, and she had promised to do so ; but soon 
after her mind became so uneasy about the probable 
effects of her pledge, that her husband released her, and 
abandoned all thoughts on the subject. Several weeks 
later he was sitting in a locked room, when suddenly a 
heavy draught of air rushed through it, the light was 
nearly blown out, a small window in an alcove sounded 
as if it were opened, and in an instant the faint lumin- 
ous form of his wife was standing before the amazed 
widower. She said in a soft, scarcely audible voice : 

" Charles, I am immortal ; we shall see each other 



again." Woetzel jumped up and tried to seize the 
form, but it vanished like thin mist, and he felt a 
strong electric shock. He saw the same vision and 
heard the same words repeatedly ; his wife appeared as 
he had last seen her lying in her coffin ; the second 
time a dog, who had been often petted by her, wagged 
his tail and walked caressingly around the apparition. 
The book, which appeared in 1804, and gave a full 
account of all the phenomena, met with much opposi- 
tion and contempt ; a number of works were written 
against it, Wieland ridiculed it in his " Euthanasia," 
and others denounced it as a mere repetition of former 
statements. The author was, however, not abashed by 
the storm he had raised; he offered to swear to the 
truth of all he had stated before the Great Council of 
the University of Leipzig, and published a second work 
in which lie developed his theory of ghosts with great 
ability. According to his view, the spirits of the de- 
parted are for some time after death surrounded by a 
luminous essence, which may, under peculiarly favor- 
able circumstances, become visible to human eyes, but 
which, according to the weakness of our mind, is gen- 
erally transformed by the imagination only into the 
more familiar form of deceased friends. He insists, 
besides, upon it that all he saw and heard was an im- 
pression made upon the outer senses only, and that 
nothing in the whole occurrence originated in his 
inner consciousness. As there was nothing to be 
gained for him by his persistent assertions, it seems 

GHOSTS. 243 

but fair to give them all the weight they may deserve, 
till the whole subject is more fully understood. 

Another remarkable case is that of a Mr. and Mrs. 
James, at whose house the Key. Mr. Mills, a Methodist 
preacher, was usually entertained when his duties 
brought him to their place of residence. One year he 
found they had both died since his last visit, but he 
staid with the orphaned children, and retired to the 
same room which he had always occupied. The ad- 
joining room was the former chamber of the aged 
couple, and here he began soon to hear a whispering 
aud moving about, just as he used to hear it when they 
were still alive. This recalled to him the reports he 
had heard in the town, that the departed had been fre- 
quently seen by their numerous friends and kinsmen. 
The next day he called upon a plain but very pious 
woman, who urged him to share her simple meal with 
her ; he consented, but what was his amazement when 
she said to him at the close of the meal : u Xow, Mr. 
Mills, I have a favor to ask of you. I want you to 
preach my funeral sermon next Sunday. I am going 
to die next Friday at three o'clock." When the aston- 
ished minister asked her to explain the strange request, 
she replied that Mr. and Mrs. James had come to her 
to tell her that they were ineffably happy, but still 
bound by certain ties to the world below. They had 
added that they had not died, as people believed, with- 
out disposing of their property, but that, in order to 
avoid dissensions among their children, they had been 


allowed to return and to make the place known where 
the will was concealed. They had tried to confer with 
Mr. Mills, but his timidity had prevented it ; now they 
had come to her, as the minister was going to dine that 
day at her house. Finally they had informed her of 
her approaching death on the day she had mentioned. 
The Methodist minister looked, aided by the heirs and 
a legal man, for the will and found it at the place indi- 
cated. Nanny, the poor woman, died on Friday, and 
her funeral sermon was preached by him on the follow- 
ing Sunday (Eechenberg, p. 182). 

A certain Dr. T. Van Velseu published in 1870, in 
Dutch, a work, called Christies Redivivus, in which he 
relates a number of very remarkable appearances of 
deceased persons, and among these the following: "A 
friend of the author's, a man of sound, practical mind, 
and a declared enemy of all superstition, lost his mother 
whom he had most assiduously nursed for six weeks 
and who died in full faith in her Redeemer. A few 
days later his nephew was to be married in a distant 
province, but although no near kinsman of his, except 
his mother, could be present, he, the uncle, could not 
make up his mind so soon after his grievous loss, to 
attend a wedding. This decision irritated and wounded 
his sister deeply and led to warm discussions, in which 
other relatives also took her side, and which threatened 
to cause a serious breach in the family. The mourner 
was deeply afflicted by the scene and at night, having 
laid the matter before God, he fell asleep with the 

^ GHOSTS. 245 

thought on his mind : l What would your mother think 
of it?' Suddenly, while yet wide awake, he heard a 
voice saying : ' Go I' Although he recognized the yoice 
instantly,.he thought it might be his sister's and drew 
the bed-curtain aside, to see who was there. To his 
amazement he saw his mother's form standing by his 
bedside ; terrified and bewildered he dropped the cur- 
tain, turned his face to the wall and tried to collect his 
thoughts, but at the same time he heard the same 
voice say once more : * Go ! ' He drew the curtain again 
and saw his mother as before, looking at him with deep 
love and gentle urgency. This excites him so that he 
can control himself no longer; he jumps up and tries 
to seize the form — it draws back and gradually dissolves 
before his eye. Now only he recalls how often he has 
conversed with his mother about the future life and the 
possibility of communication after death; he becomes 
calm, decides to attend the wedding and sleeps soundly 
till the morning. The next day he finds his heart 
relieved of a sore burden ; he joins his friends at the 
wedding and finds, to his infinite delight, that by his 
presence only a serious difficulty is avoided and peace 
is preserved in a numerous and influential family. In 
this case the effect of the mind on the imagination is 
strikingly illustrated, and although the vision of the 
mother may have existed purely in the son's mind, 
the practical result was precisely the same as if a spirit 
had really appeared in tangible shape so as to be seen 
by the outward eye." 


In some instances phenomena, like those described, 
are apparently the result of a disturbed conscience, and 
occur, therefore, in frequent repetition. Already Plu- 
tarch, in his " Life of Cimon," tells us that the Spartan 
general, Pausanias, had murdered a fair maiden, 
Cleonice, because she overthrew a torch in his tent and 
he imagined himself to be attacked by assassins. The 
ghost of the poor girl, whom he had dishonored in life 
and so foully killed, appeared to him and threatened 
him with such fearful disgrace, that he was terrified 
and hastened to Heraclea, where necromancers sum- 
moned the spirits of the departed by their vile arts. 
They called up Cleonice, at the great commander's 
request, and she replied reluctantly, that the curse 
would not leave him till he went to Sparta. Pausanias 
did so and found his death there, the only way, says 
the historian of the same name, in which he could ever 
be relieved of such fearful guilt. Baxter, also, tells us 
(p. 30) of a Eev. Mr. Franklin, whose young son repeat- 
edly saw a lady and received at her hands quite painful 
correction. Thus, when he was bound apprentice to 
a surgeon, in 1661, and refused to return home upon 
being ordered to do so, she appeared to him, and when 
he resisted her admonitions, energetically boxed his 
ears. The poor boy was in bad health and seemed to 
suffer so much that at last the surgeon determined to 
consult his father, who lived on the island of Ely. On 
the morning of the day which he spent travelling, the 
boy cried out : " Oh, mistress, here's the lady again ! " 

GHOSTS. 247 

and at the same time a noise as of a violent blow was 
heard. The child hnng his head and fell back dead. 
In the same hour the surgeon and the boy's father, sit- 
ting together in consultation, saw a lady enter the 
room, glance at them angrily, walk up and down a few 
times and disappear again. 

The fancy that murdered persons reappear in some 
shape after death for the purpose of wreaking their 
vengeance upon their enemies, is very common among 
all nations, and has often been vividly embodied in le- 
gends and ballads. The stories of Hamlet and of Don 
Giovanni are based upon this belief, and the older 
chronicles abound with similar cases belonging to an 
age when violence was more frequent and justice less 
prompt than in our day. Thus we are told in the an- 
nals of the famous castle of Weinsberg in Suabia — 
justly renowned all over the world for the rare instance 
of marital attachment exhibited by its women — that a 
steward had wantonly murdered a peasant there. 
Thereupon disturbances of various kinds began to 
make the castle uninhabitable; a black shape was seen 
walking about and breathing hot and hateful odors 
upon all it met, while the steward became an object of 
special persecution. The townspeople at first were 
skeptic and laughed at his reports, but soon the black 
visitor was seen on the ramparts of the town also -and 
created within the walls the same sensation as up at the 
castle. The good citizens at last observed a solemn fast- 
day and performed a pilgrimage to a holy shrine at 


Heilbrum. But all was in vain, and the disturbances 
and annoyances increased in frequency and violence, 
till at last the unfortunate steward died from vexation 
and sorrow, when the whole ceased and peace was re- 
stored to town and castle alike (Crusius, "Suabian 
Chron." ii. p. 417). 

Another case of this kind is connected with a curi- 
ous token of gratitude exhibited by the gratified vic- 
tim. A president of the Parliament of Toulouse, 
returning from Paris towards the end of the seven- 
teenth century, was compelled by an accident to stop 
at a poor country tavern. During the night there ap- 
peared to him an old man, pale and bleeding, who 
declared that he was the father of the present owner of 
the house, that he had been murdered by his own son, 
cut to pieces, and buried in the garden. He appealed to 
the president to investigate the matter and to avenge 
his murder. The judge was so forcibly impressed by 
his vision that he ordered search to be made, and lo ! 
the body of the murdered man was found, and the son, 
thunderstruck by the mysterious revelation, acknowl- 
edged his guilt, was tried, and in course of time died 
on the scaffold. But the murdered man was not satis- 
fied yet ; he showed himself once more to the president 
and asked how he could prove his gratitude ? The 
latter asked to be informed of the hour of his death, 
that he might fitly prepare himself, and was promised 
that he should knoAV it a week in advance. Many 
years afterwards a fierce knocking was heard at the 

GHOSTS. 249 

gate of the president's house in Toulouse ; the porter 
opened but saw no one; the knocking was repeated, 
but this time also the servants who had rushed to the 
spot found nobody there ; when it was heard a third 
time they were thoroughly frightened and hastened to 
inform their master. The latter went to the door and 
there saw the well-remembered form of his nightly 
visitor, who told him that he would die in eight days. 
He told his friends and his family what had happened, 
but only met with laughter, as he was in perfect health 
and nothing seemed more improbable than his sudden 
death. But as he sat, on the eighth day, at table with 
his family, a book was mentioned which he wished to 
see, and he got up to look for it in his library. In- 
stantly a shot is heard ; the guests rush out and find 
him lying on the floor and weltering in his blood. 
Upon inquiry it appeared that a man, desperately in 
love with the chamber-maid and jealous of a rival, had 
mistaken the president for the latter and murdered him 
with a pistol (De Segur, Qalerie morale et politique, 
p. 221). 

Among the numerous accounts of visions which seem 
to have been caused by an instinctive and perfectly un- 
conscious perception of human remains, the story of the 
Rev. Mr. Lindner, in Konigsberg, is perhaps the best 
authenticated, and from the character of the man to 
whom the revelation was made, the most trustworthy. 
It is fully reported by Professor Ehrmann of Strasburg, 
in Kios. ArcMv. x. iii., p. 143. The minister, a mod- 


est, pious man, awoke in the middle of the night, and 
saw, by the bright moonlight which was shining into 
the room, another minister in gown and bands, stand- 
ing before his open bible, apparently searching for some 
quotation. He had a small child in his arms, and a larger 
child stood by his side. After some time spent in speech- 
less astonishment, Mr. Lindner exclaimed: "All good 
spirits praise God!" whereupon the stranger turned 
round, went up to him and offered three times to shake 
hands with him. Mr. Lindner, however, refused to do 
so, gazing at the same time intently at his features, and 
after a while he found himself looking at the air, for all 
had disappeared. It was a long time afterwards, when 
sauntering through the cloisters of his church, he was 
suddenly arrested by a portrait which bore all the features 
of the minister he had seen on that night. It was one 
of his predecessors in office, who had died nearly fifty 
years ago in rather bad odor, reports having been cur- 
rent at the time, as very old men still living testified, 
that he had had several illegitimate children, of whose 
fate nothing was known. But there was a still further 
sequel to the minister's strange adventure. In the course 
of the next year his study was enlarged, and for that 
purpose the huge German stove had to be removed; to 
the horror of the workmen and of Mr. Lindner, who was 
promptly called to the spot, the remains of several child- 
ren were found carefully concealed beneath the solid 
structure. As there is no reason to suspect self-delusion 
in the reverend man, and the vision cannot well be 

GHOSTS, 251 

ascribed to any outward cause, it must be presumed that 
his sensitive nature was painfully affected by the skele- 
tons in his immediate neighborhood, and that this un- 
conscious feeling, acting through his imagination, gave 
form and shape to the impressions made upon his 

In another case the principal person was a candidate 
of divinity, Billing, well known as being of a highly 
sensitive disposition and given to. hallucinations ; the 
extreme suffering which the presence of human re- 
mains caused to his w 7 hole system had been previously 
already observed. The great German fabulist, Pfeffel, 
a blind man, once took Billing's arm and went with, 
him into the garden to take an airing. The poet no- 
ticed that when they came to a certain place, the young 
man hesitated and his arm trembled as if it had re- 
ceived an electric shock. When he was asked what 
was the matter, he replied, " Oh, nothing I" But upon 
passing over the spot a second time, the same tremor 
made itself felt. Pressed by Pfeffel, the young man at 
last acknowledged that he experienced at that spot the 
sensation which the presence of a corpse always pro- 
duced in him, and offered to go there w T ith the poet at 
night in order to prove to him the correctness of his 
feelings. When the two friends went to the garden 
after dark, Billing perceived at once a faint glimmer 
of light above the spot. He stopped at a distance of 
about ten yards, and after a while declared that he saw 
a female figure hovering above the place, about five feet 


high, with the right arm across her bosom and the left 
hand hanging down by her side. When the poet ad- 
vanced and stood on the fatal spot, the young man 
affirmed that the image was on his right or his left, 
before or behind him, and when Pfeffel struck around 
him with his cane, it produced the effect as if he were 
cutting through a flame which instantly reunited. 
The same phenomena were witnessed a second time by 
a number of Pfeffel's relations. Several days afterwards, 
while the young man was absent, the poet caused the 
place in the garden to be dug up, and at a depth of 
several feet, beneath a layer of lime, a human skeleton 
was discovered. It was removed, the hole filled up, 
and all smoothed over again. After Billing's return 
the poet took him once more into the garden, and this 
time the young man walked over the fatal spot without 
experiencing the slightest sensation (Kieser, Archiv., 
etc., p. 326). 

It was this remarkable experience which led Baron 
Keichenbach to verify it by leading one of his sensitive 
patients, a Miss Eeichel, at night to the great cemetery 
of Vienna. As soon as she reached the place she per- 
ceived everywhere a sea of flames, brightest over the 
new graves, Aveaker over others, and quite faint here 
and there. In a few cases these lights reached a height 
of nearly four feet, but generally they had more the ap- 
pearance of luminous mists, so that her hand, held 
over the place where she saw one, seemed to be envel- 
oped in a cloud of fire. She was in no way troubled 

GHOSTS. 253 

by the phenomena, which she had often previously 
observed, and Baron Reichenbach thought he saw in 
them a confirmation of his theory about the Od -light. 
There can be, however, little doubt that the luminous 
appearance, perceptible though it be only to unusually 
sensitive persons, is the result of chemical decomposi- 
tion, which has a peculiar influence over these per- 

Hence, no doubt, the numerous accounts of will-o'- 
the-w T isps and ghostly lights seen in graveyards; the 
frightened beholder is nearly always laughed at or 
heartily abused, and more than one poor child has 
fallen a victim to the absurd theory of " curing it of 
foolish fears." There can be no doubt that light does 
appear flickering above churchyards, and that there is 
something more than mere idle superstition in the 
" corpse-candles " of the Welsh and in the " elf-candles " 
of the Scotch, which are seen, with foreboding weight, 
in the house of sickness, betokening near dissolution. 
At the same time, it is well known that living persons 
also have, under certain circumstances, given out light, 
and especially from their head. The cases of Moses, 
whose face shone with unbearable brightness, and of 
the martyr Stephen, are familiar to all, and the halo 
with which artists surround the heads of saints bears 
eloquent evidence of the universal and deeply-rooted 
belief. But science also has fully established the fact 
that light appears as a real and unmistakable luminous 
efflux from the human body, alike in health and in 


mortal sickness. By far the most common case of such, 
emission of light is the emission of sparks from the 
hair when combed. Before and during the electrical 
" dust-storms " in India, this phenomenon is of frequent 
occurrence in the hair of both sexes. In dry weather, 
and when the hair also is dry, and especially immediately 
before thunderstorms, the same sparks are seen in all 
countries. Dr. Phipson mentions the case of a relative 
of his, " whose hair (exactly one yard and a quarter long), 
when combed somewhat rapidly with a black gutta- 
percha comb, emits sheets of light upward of a foot in 
length," the light being " composed of hundreds of small 
electric sparks, the snapping noise of which is dis- 
tinctly heard." 

But electric light is sometimes given off by the human 
body itself, not merely from the hair. A memorable in- 
stance of this phenomenon is recorded by Dr. Kane in the 
journal of his last voyage to the Polar regions. He and 
a companion, Petersen, had gone to sleep in a hut during 
intense cold, and on awaking in the night, found, to their 
horror, that their lamp — their only hope — had gone out. 
Petersen tried in vain to get light from a pocket-pistol, 
and then Kane resolved to take the pistol himself. " It 
was so intensely dark," he says, " that I had to grope for 
it, and in so doing, I touched his hand. At that instant 
the pistol — in Petersen's hand — became distinctly visi- 
ble. A pale bluish light, slightly tremulous, but not 
broken, covered the metallic parts of it. The stock, too, 
was distinctly visible as if by reflected light, and to the 

GHOSTS. 255 

amazement of both of us, also the thumb aud two lin- 
gers with which Petersen was holding it — the creases, 
wrinkles and circuit of nails being clearly denned upon 
the skin. As I took the pistol my hand became illu- 
minated also." This luminous and doubtless electric 
phenomenon took place in highly exceptional circum- 
stances, and is the only case recorded in recent times. 
But a far more remarkable phenomenon of a similar 
kind is mentioned by Bartholin, who gives an account 
of a lady in Italy, whom he rightly styles mulier splen- 
dens, whose body became phosphorescent — or rather 
shone with electric radiations — when slightly rubbed 
with a piece of dry linen. In this case the luminosity 
appears to have been normal, certainly very frequent 
under ordinary circumstances, and the fact is well attest- 
ed. Mr. B. H. Patterson mentions in the journal Belgra- 
via (Oct., 1872), that he saw the flannel with which he 
had rubbed his body, emit blue sparks, while at the same 
time he heard a " crackling " sound. These facts prove 
that the human body even in ordinary life, is capable of 
giving out luminous undulations, while science teaches 
us that they appear quite frequently in disease. Here 
again, Dr. Phipson mentions several cases as the result 
of his reading. One of these is that of a woman in Mi- 
lan, during whose illness a so-called phosphoric light 
glimmered about her bed. Another remarkable case is 
recorded by Dr. Marsh, in a volume on the " Evolution 
of Light from the Human Subject," and reads thus: 
" About an hour and a half before my sister's death, 


we were struck by luminous appearances proceeding 
from her head in a diagonal direction. She was at the 
time in a half-recumbent position, and perfectly tran- 
quil. The light was pale as the moon, but quite evident 
to mamma, myself, and sisters, who were watching over 
her at the time. One of us at first thought it was light- 
ning, till shortly afterwards we perceived a sort of 
tremulous glimmer playing around the head of the bed, 
and then, recollecting that we had read something of 
a similar nature having been observed previous to dis- 
solution, we had candles brought into the room, fearing 
that our dear sister would perceive the luminosity, and 
that it might disturb the tranquillity of her last mo- 

The other case relates to an Irish peasant, and is re- 
corded from personal observation by Dr. Donovan, in the 
Dublin Medical Press, in 1870, as follows : " I was sent 
to see Harrington in December. He had been under the 
care of my predecessor, and had been entered as a phthisi- 
cal patient. He was under my care for about five years, 
and I had discontinued my visits, when the report be- 
came general that mysterious lights were seen every 
night in his cabin. The subject attracted a great deal of 
attention. I determined to submit the matter to the 
ordeal of my own senses, and for this purpose I visited 
the cabin for fourteen nights. On three nights only I 
witnessed anything unusual. Once I perceived a lu- 
minous fog resembling the aurora borealis; and twice I 
saw scintillations like the sparkling phosphorescence ex- 

GHOSTS. 257 

hibited by sea-infusoria. From the close scrutiny I 
made, I can with certainty say, that no imposition was 
either employed or attempted." 

The only explanation ever offered by competent 
authority of the luminous radiations from persons in 
disease, ascribes them to an efflux or escape of the nerve- 
force, which is known to be kindred in its nature to 
electricity, transmuting itself into luminosity as it 
leaves the body. The Seeress of Prevorst reported that 
she saw the nerves as shining threads, and even from 
the eyes of some persons rays of light seemed to her to 
flash continually. Other somnambulists also, as well as 
mesmerized persons, have seen the hair of persons shine 
with a multitude of sparks, while the breath, of their 
mouth appeared as a faint luminous mist. 

The same luminosity is, finally, perceived at times in 
graveyards, and would, no doubt, have led to careful 
investigation more frequently, if observers had not so 
often been suspected of superstitious apprehensions. 
In the case of Baron Keichenbach's patients, however, 
no such difficulty was to be feared ; they saw invariably 
light, bluish flames hovering over many graves, and 
what made the phenomena more striking still, was the 
fact that these moving lights were only seen on recent 
graves, as if naturally dependent upon the process of 
decomposition. If we connect this with our experience 
of luminosity seen in decaying vegetables, in spoiled 
meat, and in diseased persons, we shall be prepared to 
believe that even so-called ghost stories, in which mys- 


terious lights play a prominent part, are by no means 
necessarily Avithout foundation. 

Cases in which deceased persons have made them- 
selves known to survivors, or have produced, by some as 
yet unexplained agency, an impression upon them 
through other senses than the sight, are very rare. 
Occasionally, however, the hearing is thus affected, and 
sweet music is heard, in token, as it were, of the con- 
tinued intercourse between the dead and the living. 
One instance may serve as an illustration. 

The Countess A. had all her life been remarkable for 
the strange delight she took in clocks ; not a room in 
her castle but had its large or small clock, and all these 
she insisted upon winding up herself at the proper time. 
Her favorite, however, was a very curious and most 
costly clock in her sitting-room, which had the form of 
a Gothic church, and displayed in the steeple a small 
dial, behind which the works were concealed; at the 
full hour a hymn was played by a kind of music-box 
attached to the mechanism. She allowed no one to 
touch this clock, and used to sit before it, as the hand 
approached the hour, Avaiting for the hymn to be heard. 
At last she Avas taken ill and confined for seven weeks, 
during which the clock could not be wound up, and 
then she died. For special reasons the interment had 
to take place on the evening of the next day, and, as 
the castle Avas far from any toAvn, the preparations took 
so much time that it was nearly midnight before the 
body could be moved from the bedroom to the drawing- 

GHOSTS. 259 

room, where the usual ceremonies were to be performed. 
The transfer was accomplished under the superintend- 
ence of her husband, who followed the coffin, and in 
the presence of a large number of friends and depend- 
ents, while the minister led the sad cortege. At the 
moment when the coffin approached the favorite clock, 
it suddenly began to strike; but instead of twelve, it 
gave out thirteen strokes, and then followed the melody 
of a well-known hymn : 

"Let us with boldness now proceed 
On tlie dark path to a new life." 

The minister, who happened to have been sitting a little 
while before by the count's side, just beneath the clock, 
and had mournfully noticed its silence after so many 
years, was thunderstruck, and could not recover his 
self-control for some time. The count, on the contrary, 
saw in the accident a solemn warning from on high, 
and henceforth laid aside the frivolity which he had so 
far shown in his life as well as in his principles 
("Evening Post" [Germ.], 1840. No. 187). 

There are finally certain phenomena belonging to 
this part of magic, which have been very generally at- 
tributed to an agency in which natural forces and 
supernatural beings held a nearly equal share. They 
suggest the interesting but difficult question, whether 
visions and ecstasy can extend to large numbers of men 
at once? And yet without some such supposition the 
armies in the clouds, the wild huntsman of the Ar- 
dennes, and like appearances cannot well be explained. 


Here also no little weight must be attached to ancient 
superstitions which have become, as it were, a part of 
a nation's faith. Thus all Northern Germany has from 
the earliest days been familiar with the idea of the 
great Woden ranging through its dark forests, at the 
head of the Waltyries and the heroes fallen in battle, 
while his wolves and his raven followed him on his 
nightly course. When Christianity changed the old 
gods of the German race into devils and demons, 
Woden became very naturally the wild huntsman, who 
was now escorted by men of violence, bloody tyrants, 
and criminals, often grievously mutilated or altogether 
headless. There can be little doubt but that these vis- 
ions also rested upon some natural substructure: excep- 
tional atmospheric disturbances, hurricanes coming 
from afar -and crashing through mighty forests, or even 
the modest tramp of a band of poachers heard afar off, 
under favorable circumstances by timid ears. The very 
fact that the favorite time for such phenomena is the 
winter solstice favors this supposition. They are, how- 
ever, by no means limited to seasons arid days, for as 
late as 1842 a number of wheat-cutters left in a panic 
the field in which they were engaged, because they be- 
lieved they heard Frau Holle with her hellish company, 
and saw Faithful Eckhard, as he walked steadily before 
the procession, warning all he met to stand aside and 
escape from the fatal sight. An occurrence of the kind, 
which took place in 1857, was fortunately fully ex- 
plained by careful observers : the cause was an immense 

GHOSTS. 261 

flock of wild geese, whose strange cries resembled in a 
surprising manner the barking of a pack of hounds 
during a hunt. Another occurrence during the night 
of January 30, 1849, threw the whole neighborhood of 
Basle in Switzerland into painful consternation. The air 
was suddenly filled with a multitude of whining voices, 
whose agony pierced the hearts of all who heard them ; 
men and beasts seemed to be suffering unutterable an- 
guish, and to be driven with furious speed from the 
mountain-side into a valley near Magden; here all 
ended in an instant amid rolling thunder and fearful 
flashes of lightning. A fierce storm arising in distant 
clefts and crevices, and carrying possibly fragments of 
rock, ice, and morain along with it, seems here to have 
been the determining cause. 

Another class of phenomena of this kind relates to 
the great battles that have at times decided the fate of 
the world. Thus Pausanias already tells us (" Attica," 
32), and so do other historians of Greece, how the Plain 
of Marathon resounded for nearly four centuries every 
year with the clash of arms and the cries of soldiers. 
It was evidently the deep and lasting impression made 
upon a highly sensitive nation, which here was be- 
queathed from generation to generation, and on the 
day of the battle, when all was excitement, resulted in 
the perception of sounds which had no real existence. 
Events of such colossal proportions, which determine 
in a few hours the fate of great nations, leave naturally 
a powerful impress upon contemporaries not only, but 


also upon the children of that race. Such was, among 
others, the fearful battle on the Catalaunian Fields, in 
which the Visi-Goths and Actius conquered Attila, and 
one hundred and sixty-two thousand warriors were slain. 
It was at the time reported that the intense bitterness 
and exasperation of the armies continued even after the 
battle, and that for three days the spirits of the fallen 
were contending with each other with unabated fury. 
The report grew into a legend, till a firm belief was 
established that the battle was fought year after year 
on the memorable day, and that any visitor might 
behold the passionate spirits as they rose from their 
graves, armed with their ancient weapons and filled 
with undiminished fury. One by one the soldiers of 
the two armies, it was said, leave their lowly graves, 
rise high into the air, and engage in deadly but silent 
strife, till they vanish in the clouds. It is well known 
how successfully the great German painter, Kaulbach, 
has reproduced the vision in his magnificent fresco of 
the "Hunnenschlacht." In other countries these 
ghostly visions assume different forms. Thus the 
neighborhood of Kerope, in Livonia, is in like manner 
renowned for a long series of fearful butcheries during 
the wars between the German knights and the Musco- 
vites. There also, night after night, the shadowy battle 
is fought over again ; but the clashing of arms and the 
hoarse war-cries are distinctly heard, and the pious 
traveler hastens away from the blood-soaked plains, 
uttering his prayers for the souls of the slain. In the 

GHOSTS. 263 

Highlands of Scotland also, and on the adjoining 
islands, most weird and gruesome sights have been 
watched by young and old in every generation. The 
dark, dismal atmosphere of those regions, the dense 
fogs and impenetrable mists, now rising from the sea, 
and now descending from the mountains, and the fierce, 
inclement climate, have all combined for ages to pre- 
dispose the mind for the perception of such strange and 
mysterious phenomena. Nearly every clan and every 
family has its own particular ghost, and besides these 
the whole nation claims a number of common vis- 
ions and prophetic spirits, whose harps and wild 
songs are heard faintly and fearfully sounding on 
high. A friend of Mr. Martin, the author of a work on 
"Second Sight," used to recite several stanzas belong- 
ing to such a prophetic song, which he had heard him- 
self on a sad November day, as it came to him through 
the drooping clouds and sweeping mists from the sum- 
mit of a lonely mountain. At funerals also, wonderful 
voices were heard high in the air, as they accompanied 
the chanting of the people below, with a music not 
born upon earth, and filling the heart with strange but 
sweet sadness. Nearly the same visions are seen and 
the same songs are heard in Sweden and Norway, 
proving conclusively that like climatic influences pro- 
duce also a similar magic life, in individuals not only, 
but in whole nations. For even if we are disposed to 
look upon these phenomena as merely strange appear- 
ances of clouds and mists, accompanied by the howling 


and whistling of the wind and the tumbling down of 
rocks and gravel, there remains the uniformity with 
which thousands of every generation interpret these 
sights and sounds into weird visions and solemn chant- 

It is, however, not quite so evident why the peculiar 
class of visions which is often erroneously called sec- 
ond sight — the beholding of a "double" — should be 
almost entirely confined to these same northern regions. 
It is, of course, not unknown to other lands also, and 
even Holy Writ seems to justify the presumption that 
the idea of a " double " was familiar to the people of 
Palestine. For the poor damsel Ehoda, who " for glad- 
ness" did not open the door at which Peter knocked, 
after he had been miraculously liberated, but ran to an- 
nounce his presence to the friends who were assembled 
at the house of Mark's brother, was first called mad, 
and then told : " It is his angel " (Acts xii. 13). They 
evidently meant, not that it was the spirit of their de- 
ceased friend, since they would have been made aware 
of his death, but a phantom representing his living 
body. But the number of authentic cases of persons 
who have seen their own form, is vastly greater at the 
North than anywhere else. The Celtic superstition of 
the " fetch," as the appearance of a person's " double " is 
there called, is too well known to require explanation. 
But the vision itself is one of- the most interesting in 
the study of magic, since it exhibits most strikingly the 
great power which the human soul may, under peculiar 

GHOSTS. 265 

circumstances, gain and exercise over its own self, lead- 
ing to complete self-delusion. 

A case in which this strange abdication of all self- 
control led to most desirable consequences, is mentioned 
by Dr. Mayo. A young man recently from Oxford once 
saw a friend of his enter the room in which he was 
dining with some companions. The new comer, just 
returning from hunting, seemed to them to look unu- 
sually pale and was evidently in a state of great excite- 
ment. After much urging he at last confessed that he 
had been seriously disturbed in mind by a man who had 
kept him close company all the way home. This 
stranger, on horseback like himself, had been his exact 
image, down to a new bridle, his own invention, which 
he had tried that day for the first time. He fancied 
that this " double " was his own ghost and an omen of 
his impending death. His friends advised him to con- 
fer with the head of his college ; this was done, and the 
latter gave him much good advice, adding the hope that 
the warning would not be allowed to pass unimproved. 
It is certain that the apparition made so strong an im- 
pression upon the young man as to lead to his entire 
reformation, at least for a time. 

It is claimed by many writers that there are persons 
who continually have visions, because they live in con- 
stant communication with spirits, although in all cases 
they have to pay a fearful penalty for this sad privilege. 
They are invariably diseased people, mostly women, 
who fall into trances, have cataleptic attacks, or suffer of 



even more painful maladies, and during the time of their 
affliction behold and converse with the inmates of 
another world. The most renowned of these seers was a 
Mrs. Hauffe, who has become well known to the reading 
world through Dr. J. Kerner's famous work, " The 
Seeress of Prevorst." A peculiar feature in her case was 
the fact that the visions she had were invariably an- 
nounced to bystanders by peculiar sounds, heard by all 
who were present. The forms assumed by her mys- 
terious visitors varied almost infinitely ; now it was a 
man in a brown gown, and now a woman in white. 
Often, when the spirits appeared in the open air, and she 
tried to escape from them by running, she was bodily 
lifted up and hurried along so fast that her companions 
could not keep pace with her. It was only later in life 
that she fell as a patient into the hands of Dr. Kerner, 
who was quite distinguished as a poet, and had a great 
renown as a physician for insane people of a special 
class. His house at Weinsberg in Wiirtemberg, was filled 
to overflowing with persons of all classes of society, 
from the highest to the lowest, and all had visions. Nor 
was the doctor himself excluded ; he also was a seer, 
and has given in the above-mentioned book a full and 
most interesting account of the diseases in connection 
with which magic phenomena are most frequently ob- 
served. By the aid of careful observation of actual 
facts, and using such revelations vouchsafed to him and 
others as he believed fully trustworthy, he formed a 
regular theory of visions. First of all he admits that 

GHOSTS. 267 

the privilege of communing with spirits is a grievous 
affliction, and that all of his more thoughtful patients 
continually prayed to be delivered of the burden. It is 
evident from all he states that not only the body, but 
the mind also suffers — and in many cases suffers unto 
destruction — under the effects of such exceptional 
powers ; that in fact the lines of separation between this 
life and another life can never be crossed with impuni- 
ty. His most interesting patient, Mrs. Hauffe, presents 
the usual mixture of mere fanciful imagery with occa- 
sional flashes of truth; her genuine revelations were 
marvelous, and can only be explained upon the ground 
of real magic ; but with them are mixed up the most 
absurd theories and the most startling contradictions. 
She insisted, however, upon the fact that only those 
spirits could commune with mortal man who were 
detained in the middle realm — between heaven and hell 
— the spirits of men who were in this life unable, 
though not unwilling, to believe that " God could for- 
give their sins for the sake of Christ's death." She was 
often tried by Dr. Kerner and others ; she was told that 
certain still living persons had died, and asked to sum- 
mon their spirits, but she was never misled. There can 
be no doubt that the poor woman was sincere in her 
statements ; but she was apparently unable to distin- 
guish between real visions in a trance and the mere off- 
spring of her imagination. That her peculiarities were 
closely connected with her bodily condition is, more- 
over, proved by the fact that her whole family suffered 


in similar manner and enjoyed similar powers; a 
brother and a sister, as well as her young son, all had 
visions and heard mysterious noises. The latter were, 
in fact, perceptible to all the inmates of the strange 
house ; even the great skeptic, Dr. Strausz, who once 
visited it, heard " long, fearful groanings " close to his 
amiable hostess, who had fallen asleep on her sofa. Nor 
were the ghosts content with disturbing the patients and 
their excellent physician ; they made themselves known 
to their friends and neighbors, also, and even the good 
minister in the little town had much to suffer from 
nightly knockings and strange utterances. 

Dr. Kerner himself heard many spirits, but saw only 
one, and that only as "a grayish pillar;" on the other 
hand he witnessed countless mysterious phenomena 
which occurred in his patients' bedrooms. Now he be- 
held Mrs. Hauffe's boots pulled off by invisible hands, 
while she herself was lying almost inanimate, in a 
trance, on her bed, and now he heard her reveal secrets 
which, upon writing to utterly unknown persons at a 
great distance, proved to be correctly stated. What 
makes a thorough investigation of all these phenomena 
peculiarly difficult, is the fact that Dr. Kerner's house 
became an asylum for somnambulists as well as for real 
patients, and that by this mixture the scientific value 
of his observations, as regards their psychological 
interest, is seriously impaired. He himself was a sin- 
cere believer in magic phenomena; almost all of his 
friends and neighbors, from the humblest peasant to 


the most cultivated men of science, believed in him and 
his statements, and there can be no donbt that aston- 
ishing revelations were made and extraordinary powers 
became manifest in his house. But here, also, the diffi- 
culty of separating the few grains of truth from the 
great mass of willful, as well as of unconscious delusion, 
is almost overwhelming, and our final judgment must 
be held in suspense, till more light has been thrown on 
the subject. Dr. Kernels son, who succeeded his 
father at his death in 1862, still keeps up the remark- 
able establishment at Weinsberg; but exclusively for 
the cure of certain diseases by magnetism. 


" There shall not be found among you any one that useth div- 
ination." — Deut. xviii. 9. 

The usual activity of our mind is limited to the per- 
ception of the world around us, and its life, as far as 
the power of our senses reaches; it must, therefore, 
necessarily be confined within the limits of space and 
time. There are, however, specially favored men among 
us who profess an additional power, or even ordinary 
men may be thus endowed under peculiar circum- 
stances, as when they are under the influence of nerv- 
ous affections, trances, or even merely in an unusual 
state of excitement. Then they are no longer sub- 
ject to the usual laws of distance in space, or remote- 
ness in time ; they perceive as immediately present 
what lies beyond the reach of others, and the magic 
power by which this is accomplished is called Divina- 
tion. This vision is never quite clear, nor always com- 
plete or correct, for even such exceptionable powers are 
in all cases more or less subject to the imperfections of 
our nature ; habitual notions, an ill-executed imagina- 
tion, and often a disordered state of the system, all in- 
terfere with its perfect success. These imperfections, 
moreover, not only affect the value of such magic per- 
ceptions, but obscure the genuine features by a num- 


ber of false statements and of erroneous impressions, 
which quite legitimately excite a strong prejudice 
against the whole subject. Hence, especially, the rigor 
of the Church against divination in every form ; it has 
ever ascribed the errors mixed up with the true parts 
of such revelations to the direct influence of the Evil 
One. The difficulty, however, arises that such magic 
powers have nothing at all to do with the question of 
morality; the saint and the criminal may possess them 
alike, since they are elements of our common nature, 
hidden in the vast majority of cases, and coming into 
view and into life only in rare exceptional instances. 

Divination, as freed from the ordinary limits of our 
perceptions, appears either as clairvoyance, when things 
are seen which are beyond the range of natural vision, 
or as prophecy, when the boundary lines of time are 
overstepped. The latter appears again in its weakest 
form as a mere anticipation of things to come, or rises 
to perfection in the actual foretelling of future events. 
It is sad enough to learn from the experience of all 
nations that the occurrences thus foreseen are almost 
invariably great misfortunes, yet our surprise will cease 
if we remember that the tragic in life exercises by far 
the greatest influence on our mind, and excites it far 
beyond all other events. Nor must we overlook the 
marvelous unanimity with which such magic powers 
are admitted to exist in Man by all nations on earth. 
The explanation, also, is invariably the same, namely, 
that Man possessed originally the command over space 


and time as well as God himself, but that when sin 
came into the world and affected his earth-born body, 
this power was lost, and preserved only to appear in 
exceptional and invariably most painful cases. So 
thought the ancients even long before revelation had 
spoken. They believed that Man had had a previous 
god-like existence before appearing upon earth, where 
he was condemned to expiate the sins of his former 
life, while his immortal and divine soul was chained to 
a perishing earthy body. Plato, Plutarch, and Pythag- 
oras, Cicero (in his book De Divinatione), and even 
Porphyrius, all admit without hesitation the power of 
divination, and speak of its special vigor in the mo- 
ments preceding death. Melanchthon ascribed warn- 
ing dreams to the prophetic power of the human soul. 
Brierre de Boismont also is forced to admit that not all 
cases of clairvoyance and prophesying are the results 
of hallucination by diseased persons ; he speaks, on the 
contrary, and in spite of his bitter skepticism, of 
instances in which the increased powers of perception 
are the effect of " supernatural intuition." 

One of the most prolific sources of error in Divina- 
tion has ever been the variety of means employed for 
the purpose of causing the preparatory state of trance. 
It is well known in our day that the mind may be 
most strangely affected by innumerable agencies which 
are apparently purely mechanical, and often utterly 
absurd. Such are an intent gazing at highly-polished 
surfaces of metal, or into the bright inside of a gold 


cup, at the shining sides of a crystal, or the varying 
hues of a glass globe; now vessels filled with pure 
water, and now ink poured into the hand of a child, 
answer the same purpose. Fortune-telling from the 
lines of the hand or the chance combinations of play- 
ing-cards are, in this aspect, on a par with the prophe- 
cies of astrologers drawn from the constellations in the 
heavens. It need hardly be added that this almost in- 
finite variety of more or less absurd measures has 
nothing at all to do with the awaking of magic power, 
and continues in use only from the prestige which 
some of the means, like the cup of Joseph and the 
mirror of Varro, derive from their antiquity. Their 
sole purpose is uniformly to withdraw the seer's atten- 
tion from all outward objects, and to make him, by 
steadily gazing at one and the same object, concentrate 
his thoughts and feelings exclusively upon his own 
self. Experience has taught that such efforts, long 
continued, result finally in utter loss of feeling, in 
unconsciousness, and frequently even in catalepsy. It 
is generally only under such peculiarly painful circum- 
stances that the unusual powers of our being can be- 
come visible and begin to operate. While these results 
may be obtained, as recent experiments have proved, 
even by mere continued squinting, barbarous nations 
employ the most violent means for the same purpose — 
the whirling of dervishes, the drumming and dancing 
of northern shamans, the deafening music of the 
Moors, are all means of the same kind to excite the 



rude and fierce nature of savages to a state of excessive 
excitement. In all cases, however, we must notice the 
comparative sterility of such divination, and the pen- 
alty which has to be paid for most meagre results by 
injuries inflicted upon the body, and by troubles caused 
in the mind, which, if they do not become fatal to life, 
are invariably so to happiness and peace. That the 
sad privilege may have to be paid for with life itself, 
we learn already from Plutarch's account of a priestess 
who became so furious while prophesying, that not 
only the strangers but the priests themselves fled in 
dismay, while she herself expired a few hours later 
(II. p. 438). 

The state in which all forms of divination are most 
apt to show themselves is by theologians called ecstasis, 
when it is caused by means specially employed for the 
purpose and appears as a literally "being beside one's 
self; by its side they speak of raptus, when the abnor- 
mal state suddenly begins during an act of ordinary 
life, such as walking, working, or even praying. The 
distinction is of no value as to the nature of the magic 
powers themselves, which are in all cases the same ; it 
refers exclusively to the outer form. 

One of the simplest methods is the Deasil-walking 
of the Scotch Highlanders : the seer walks rapidly three 
times, with the sun, around the person whose future is 
to be foretold, and thus produces a trance, in which his 
magic powers become available. Walter Scott's " Chron- 
icles of the Canongate " gives a full account of this cere- 


niony. Kobin Oig's aunt performs the ceremony, and 
then warns him in great terror, that she has seen a 
bloody dagger in his hand, stained with English blood, 
and beseeches him to stay at home. He disregards 
the omen, kills the same night an Englishman, a cattle- 
dealer, and pays for the crime with his life. 

In the East, on the contrary, the usual form is to 
employ a young boy, taken at haphazard from the street, 
and to force him to gaze intently at Indian ink poured 
into the hollow of the hand, at molten lead, wax poured 
into cold water, the paten of a priest or a shining 
sword, with which several men have been killed. Gen- 
eral readers will recall the famous boy of Cairo, who saw 
thus, in the dark, glittering surface of ink, the great 
Nelson — curiously enough as in a mirror, for he report- 
ed the image to be without the left arm and to wear the 
left sleeve across the breast, while the great admiral had 
lost his right arm and wore the right sleeve suspended* 
Burke, in his amusing " Anecdotes of the Aristocracy," 
etc. (I. p. 124), relates how the " magician " Magraubin 
in Alexandria appeared with a ten-year-old Coptic boy 
before the officers of H. M's. ship Vanguard. After 
burning much incense and uttering many unintelligible 
formulas he rolled a paper in the shape of a cornuco- 
pia, filled it with ink, and bade the boy tell them what 
he saw. As usual, he saw first a broom sweeping, and 
was thoroughly frightened. When a young midship- 
man asked him to inquire what would be his fate, he 
described instantly a sailor with gold on the shoulders, 


fighting against Indians till he fell dead ; then came 
friends and buried him under a tree on a hill. The 
midshipman, Croker, returned home, abandoned the 
sea, and became a landowner in one of the midland 
counties of England, where he often laughed at the ab- 
surd prediction. Long years afterwards, however, when 
there was a sudden want of seamen, he was recalled 
into service and sent on a long cruise. He rose to be- 
come a captain, and while in command of a frigate fell, 
upon the island of Tongataboo, in a skirmish with the 
natives, whereupon he was interred there under a lofty 
palm-tree which stood on a commanding eminence. 
The same author repeats (I. p. 357) the well-known 
story of Lady Eleanor Campbell, which is in substance 
as follows : 

Poor Lady Primrose, a daughter of the second Earl 
of Loudoun, had for years endured the saddest lot that 
can befall a noble woman : she had been bound by mar- 
riage to a husband whose dissolute habits and untama- 
ble passions inspired her with fear, while his short love 
for her had long since turned into bitter hatred. At 
last he formed the resolution to rid himself forever of 
his wife, whose very piety and gentleness were a stand- 
ing reproof to his villainy. By a rare piece of good 
luck she was awake when he came from his deep pota- 
tions, a bare sword in his hand, and ready to kill her; 
she saw him in the mirror before which she happened 
to be sitting, and escaped by jumping from a window 
and hastening to her husband's own mother. After this 


attempt at her life he disappeared, no one knew whith- 
er, but the poor lady, forsaken and yet not a widow, 
could not prevent her thoughts from dwelling, by day 
and by night, year after year, upon the image of her 
unfortunate husband and his probable fate in foreign 
lands. It was, therefore, not without a pardonable in- 
terest that she heard, one winter, people talk of a for- 
eigner who had suddenly appeared in Canongate and 
created a great sensation throughout Edinburgh by his 
success in showing to inquiring visitors whai> their ab- 
sent friends were doing. Her intense anxiety about her 
husband and her natural desire to ascertain whether 
she was still a wife or already a widow, combined to 
tempt her to call on the magician ; she went, therefore, 
with a friend, both disguised in the tartans and plaids 
of their maids. Before they reached the obscure alley 
to which they had been directed, they lost their way, and 
were standing helpless, exposed to the cold, stormy 
weather, when suddenly a deep voice said to them: 
" You are mistaken, ladies, this is not your way ! " 
"How so?" asked Lady Primrose, addressing a tall, 
gentlemanly looking man, with a stern face of deep 
olive color, in which a pair of black eyes shone like 
stars, and dressed in an elegant but foreign-looking 
costume. The answer came promptly : " You are mis- 
taken in your way, because it lies yonder, and in your 
disguise, because it does not conceal you from him who 
can lift the veil of the Future!" Then followed a 
short conversation in which the stranger made himself 


known as the magician whom they were about to visit, 
and, by some words whispered into the lady's ear, as a 
man who not only recognized her as Lady Primrose, 
but who also was perfectly well acquainted with all the 
intimate details of her history. Amazed and not a lit- 
tle frightened, the two ladies accepted his courteous 
invitation to follow him, entered the house, and were 
shown into a simply furnished room, where the stranger 
begged them to wait for him, till all was ready for the 
ceremony by which alone he could satisfy their curios- 
ity. After a short pause he reappeared in the tradi- 
tional costume of a magician, a long tunic of black 
velvet which left his breast, arms, and hands free, and 
requested Lady Primrose to follow him into the adjoin- 
ing room. After some little hesitation she left her com- 
panion and entered the room, which was perfectly plain, 
offering nothing to attract the eye save the dark cur- 
tains before the windows, an old-fashioned arm-chair, 
and a kind of altar of black marble, over which a large 
and beautiful mirror was suspended. Before the latter 
stood a small oven, in which some unknown substance 
burnt with a blue light, which alone feebly lighted up 
the room. The visitor was requested to sit down, to in- 
voke help from above, and to abstain from uttering a 
sound, if she valued her life and that of the magician. 
After some simple but apparently most important cere- 
monies, the magician threw a pinch of red powder upon 
the flame, which instantly changed into bright crimson, 
while a few plaintive sounds were heard and red clouds 


seemed to rise before the mirror, broken at short inter- 
vals by vivid flashes of lightning. As the mist dis- 
persed the glass exhibited to the lady's astonished eye 
the interior of a church, first in vague outlines undu- 
lating as passing clouds seemed to set them in motion, 
but soon distinctly and clear in the minutest details. 
Then a priest appeared with his acolytes at the altar, 
and a wedding party was seen standing before him, 
among whom Lady Primrose soon recognized her faith- 
less husband. Before she could recover from her pain- 
ful surprise she saw a stranger hastily entering the 
church, wrapped in his cloak; at the moment when 
the priest, who had been performing the usual ceremony, 
was about to join the hands of the couple before him, 
the unknown dropped his cloak and rushed forward. 
Lady Primrose saw it was her own brother, who drew 
his S"word and attacked her husband; suddenly a 
thrust was made by the latter which threatened to 
be fatal, and the poor lady cried out : " Great God, 
they will kill my brother ! " She had no sooner uttered 
these words than the whole scene in the mirror became 
dim and blurred, the clouds rose again and formed 
dense masses, and soon the glass resumed its ordinary 
brightness and the flame its faint blue color. The 
magician, apparently much excited, informed the lady 
that all was over, and that they had escaped a most fear- 
ful danger, incurred by her imprudence in speaking. 
He would accept no reward, stating that he had merely 
wished to oblige her, but would not have dared do so 


much, if he had foreseen the peril to which they had 
both been exposed. Lady Primrose, accompanied by 
her friend, reached home in a state of extreme excite- 
ment, but immediately wrote down the hour and the 
day of her strange adventure, with a full account of all 
she had seen in the magic mirror. The paper thus 
drawn up she sealed in the presence of her companion 
and hid it in a secret drawer. Not long afterwards her 
brother returned from the Continent, but for some time 
refused to speak at all of her husband ; it was only 
after being long and urgently pressed by the poor lady, 
that he consented to tell her, how he had heard of Lord 
Primrose's intention to marry a very wealthy lady in 
Amsterdam, how by mere chance he had entered the 
church where the marriage ceremony was to be per- 
formed, and how he had come out just in time to pre- 
vent his brother-in-law from committing bigamy. They 
had fought for a few minutes without doing each other 
any injury, and after being separated, he had remained, 
while Lord Primrose had disappeared, no one knew 
whither. Upon comparing dates and circumstances, it 
appeared that the mirror had presented the scene faith- 
fully in all its details; but the ceremony had taken 
place in the morning, the visit to the magician at night, 
so that the latter had, after all, only revealed an event 
already completed. There remains, however, the diffi- 
culty of accounting for the means by which in those 
days — about 1700 — an event in Amsterdam could 


possibly have been known in Edinburgh, the night of 
the same day on which it occurred. 

In France, under Louis XIV., a glass of water was 
most frequently used as a mirror in which to read the 
future. The Duke of St. Simon reports that the Duke 
of Orleans was thus informed that he would one day 
become Eegent of France. The Abbe Choisy men- 
tions a remarkable occurrence which took place at the 
house of the Countess of Soissons, a niece of the great 
Cardinal Mazarin. Her husband was lying sick in the 
province of Champagne, and she was anxious to know 
whether she ought to undertake the long and perilous 
journey to him or not; in this dilemma a friend 
offered to send for a diviner, who should tell her the 
issue of her husband's illness. He brought her a little 
girl, five years old, who, in the presence of a number of 
distinguished persons of both sexes, began, under the 
nobleman's direction, to tell what she saw in a glass of 
water. When she began by saying that the water looked 
as if it were troubled, the poor lady was so frightened 
that her friend suggested he would ask the spirit to 
show the child not her husband himself, but a white 
horse, if the Count was dead, and a tiger if he was alive. 
Then he asked the girl what she saw now ? " Ah ! " 
she cried out at once, " what a pretty white horse!" 
The company, however, refused to be content with one 
trial ; five times in succession the test was altered, and 
in such a manner that the little child could not pos- 
sibly be aware of the choice, but in each case the 


answer was unfavorable to the absent Count. It ap- 
peared, afterwards, that he had really died a day or two 
before the consultation. One of the most striking 
cases of such exceptional endowment was a Frenchman, 
Cahagnet, who in his work, Lumiere des Morts (Paris, 
1851), claimed to see remote objects and persons. He 
used to make a mental effort, upon which his eyes be- 
came fixed and he saw objects at a great distance, read- 
ing the title and discerning the precise shape of books 
in public libraries, or watching absent friends engaged 
in unusual occupations ! This state of clairvoyance, 
however, never lasted more than sixty seconds, nor 
could he ever see the same object twice — limitations of. 
his endowment which secured for him greater credit 
than he would have otherwise possessed. Occasionally 
he would assist the effort he had to make by fixedly 
gazing at some shining object, such as a small flaw in a 
mirror or a glass. Another restraint under which he 
labored, and which yet increased the faith of others, 
consisted in this, that such sights as presented them- 
selves spontaneously to him proved invariably to be 
true, while the visions which he purposely evoked were 
not unfrequently unfounded in fact. 

Among recent magicians of this class, a Parisian, 
Edmond, is perhaps the most generally known. He is 
a man without education, who leads a life of asceticism, 
and is said to equal the famous Lennormand in his 
ability to guess the future by gazing intently at certain 
cards. The latter, although not free from the charge 


of charlatanism, possessed undoubtedly the most ex- 
traordinary talent of divining the thoughts of those 
who came to consult her, and an almost marvelous 
tact in connecting the knowledge thus obtained with 
the events of the day. She began her career already 
as a young girl at a convent-school, where her play- 
mates asked her laughing who would be the next 
abbess, and she mentioned an entirely unknown lady 
from Picardy as the one that would be appointed by 
the king. Contrary to all expectations the favorite 
candidates were put aside, and the unknown lady ap- 
pointed, although eighteen months elapsed before her 
prophecy was fulfilled. As early as 1789 she predicted 
the overthrow of the French government, and during 
the Eevolution her reputation was such that the first 
men of the land came to consult her. The unfortunate 
princess Lamballe and Mirabeau, Mine, de Stael and 
the king himself, all appeared in her stately apart- 
ments. Her efforts to save the queen, to whose prison 
she managed to obtain access, were unsuccessful; but 
when her aristocratic connections caused her to be im- 
prisoned herself, even the noble and virtuous Mme. 
Tallien sought her society. The new dynasty, whose 
members were almost without exception more or less 
superstitious, as it is the nature of all Corsicans, con- 
sulted her frequently ; the great Napoleon came to her 
in IT 93, when he was disgusted with France, and on 
the point of leaving the country ; he sent for her a 
second time in 1801 to confer with her at Malmaison, 


and the fair Josephine actually conceived for her a 
deep and lasting attachment. Afterwards, however, 
she became as obnoxious to the Emperor as his invet- 
erate enemy, Mme. de Stael ; she was repeatedly sent 
to prison because she predicted failures, as in the case 
of the projected invasion of England, or because she 
revealed the secret plans of Napoleon. The Emperor 
Alexander of Russia also consulted her in 1818, and of 
the Prussian king, Frederick William III., it is at least 
reported that he visited her incognito. After the year 
1830 she appeared but rarely in her character as a 
diviner; she had become old and rich, and did not per- 
haps wish to risk her world-wide reputation by too 
numerous revelations. She maintained, however, for 
the rest of her life the most intimate relations with 
many eminent men in France, and when she died, in 
1843, seventy-one years old, leaving to her nephew a 
very large fortune, her gorgeous funeral was attended 
by a host of distinguished personages, including even 
men of such character as Guizot. And yet she also 
had not disdained to use the most absurd and appar- 
ently childish means in order to produce the state of 
ecstasy in which she alone could divine : playing-cards 
fancifully arranged, the white of an egg, the sediment 
of coffee, or the lines in the hand of her visitors. At 
the same time, however, she used the information which 
she casually picked up or purposely obtained from her 
great friends with infinite cunning and matchless tact, 
so that the better informed often asked her laughingly 


if her familiar spirit Ariel was not also known as 
Talleyrand, David, or Geoffroy ? The charlatanism 
which often and most justly rendered her proceedings 
suspicious to sober men, was in fact part of her system ; 
she knew perfectly well the old doctrine, mundus vult 
decipi, and did not hesitate to flatter the fondness of 
all Frenchmen for a theatrical mise en scene. 

Dryden's famous horoscope of his younger son 
Charles was probably nothing more than one of those 
rare but striking coincidences of which the laws of prob- 
ability give us the exact value. He loved the study of 
astrology and never omitted to calculate the nativity of 
his children as soon as they were born. In the case of 
Charles he discovered that great dangers would threat- 
en him in his eighth, twenty-third, and thirty-third or 
forty-third year ; and sure enough those years produced 
serious troubles. On his eighth birthday he was buried 
under a falling wall ; on the twenty-third he fell in Rome 
from an old tower, and on his thirty-third he was 
drowned in the Thames. 

Divination by means of bones — generally the shoul- 
der bones of rams — is quite common among the Mon- 
gols and Tongoose, and the custom seems to have 
remained unchanged through centuries. For Purchas 
already quotes from the "Journal" of the Minorite 
monk Guillaume de Eubruguis, written in 1255, a de- 
scription of the manner in which the Great Khan of 
Mongolia tried to ascertain the result of any great en- 
terprise which he might contemplate. Three shoulder 


bones of rams were brought to hiin, which he held for 
some time in his hands, while deeply meditating on the 
subject ; then he threw them into the fire. After they 
were burnt black they were again laid before him and 
examined ; if they had cracked lengthways the omen 
was favorable, if crossways the enterprise was abandon- 
ed. Almost identically the same process is described by 
the great traveler Pallas, who witnessed it repeatedly 
and obtained very startling communications from the 
Mongol priests. But here also violent dancing, narcotic 
perfumes, and wild cries had to aid in producing a 
trance. The Laplanders have, perhaps, the most strik- 
ing magic powers which seem to be above suspicion. 
At least we are as-sured by every traveler who has spent 
some time among them, from Caspar Peucer (" Com- 
mentaries," etc., Wittebergae, 1580, p. 132) down to the 
tourists of our days (" Six Months in Lapland," 1870), 
that they not only see persons at the greatest distance, 
but furnish minute details as to their occupation or 
surroundings. After having invoked the aid of his 
gods the magician falls down like a dead man and re- 
mains in a state of trance for twenty-four hours, during 
which foreigners are always warned to have him care- 
fully guarded, " lest the demons should carry him off." 
During this time the seer maintains that his " soul opens 
the gates of the body and moves about freely wherever 
it chooses to go." When he returns to consciousness 
he describes accurately and minutely the persons about 
whom he has promised to give information. In the 


East Indies it is well known clairvoyance has existed 
from time immemorial, and the kind of trance which 
consists in utter oblivion of actual life and perfect ab- 
straction of thought from this world is there carried 
out to perfection. The faithful believer sits or lies 
down in any position he may happen to prefer for the 
moment, fixes his eyes intently upon the point of his 
nose, mutters the word One, and finally beholds God 
with an inner sense, in the form of a white brilliant 
light of ineffable splendor. Some of these ascetics pass 
from a simple trance to a state of catalepsy, in which 
their bodies become insensible to pain — but this kind 
of ecstasis is not accompanied by divination. 

Another branch of divination conquers the difficulty 
which distance in space opposes to our ordinary percep- 
tions. In all such cases it is of course not our hearing 
or smelling which suddenly becomes miraculously 
powerful, but another magic power, which causes 
impressions on the mind like those produced by the eye 
and the ear. The oldest well-authenticated instance of 
magic hearing is probably that of Hyrcanus, the high- 
priest of the Jews, who while burning incense in the 
temple, heard a voice saying : " K~ow Antiochus has 
been slain by thy sons." The news was immediately 
proclaimed to the people, and some time afterward mes- 
sengers came announcing that Antiochus had thus 
perished as he approached Samaria, which he desired to 
relieve from the besieging army under the sons of 
Hyrcanus (Josephus, "Antiq." lxiii. ch. 19). A still 


more striking instance is also reported by a trustworthy 
author (Theophylactos Simocata, 1. viii. eh. 13). A 
man in Alexandria, Egypt, saw, as he returned home 
about midnight, the statues before the great temple 
moved aside from their seats, and heard them call out 
to him that the Emperor had been slain by Phocas 
(602). Thoroughly frightened he hastened to the 
authorities, reporting his adventure; he was carried be- 
fore Peter, the Viceroy of Egypt, and ordered to keep 
silence. Nine days later, however, the official news 
came that the Emperor had been murdered. It is 
evident that the knowledge of the event came to him in 
some mysterious way, and for an unknown purpose; but 
that what he saw and heard, was purely the work of his 
imagination, which became the vehicle of the revelation. 
There exists a long, almost unbroken series of similar 
phenomena through the entire course of modern history, 
of which but a few can here find space. Richelieu tells 
us in his Memoir es ("Coll. Michaud — Poryoulat," 2d 
series, vii. p. 23), that the Prevost cles Marechaux of the 
city of Pithiviers was one night engaged in playing 
cards in his house, when he suddenly hesitated, fell into 
a deep musing, and then, turning to his companions, 
said solemnly : "The king has just been murdered!" 
These words made a deep impression upon all the mem- 
bers of the assembly, which afterward changed into 
genuine terror, when it became known that on that 
same evening, at the same hour of four o'clock, p. m., 
Henry IV. had really been murdered. Nor was this a 


solitary case, for on the same day a girl of fourteen, 
living near the city of Orleans, had asked her father, 
Simonne, what a king was ? Upon his replying that it 
was the man who commanded all Frenchmen, she had 
exclaimed : " Great God, I have this moment heard 
somebody tell me that he was murdered ! " It seems 
that the minds of men were just then everywhere deeply 
interested in the fate of the king, and hence their readi- 
ness to anticipate an event which was no doubt very 
generally apprehended; even from abroad numerous 
letters had been received announcing his death before- 
hand. In the two cases mentioned this excitement had 
risen to divination. The author of the famous Zaiiber 
BiMiothek, Horst, mentions (i. p. 285) that his father, a 
well-known missionary, Was once traveling in company 
with the renowned Hebrew scholar Wiedemann, while a 
third companion, ordinarily engaged with them in con- 
verting Jews, was out at sea. It was a fine, bright day ; 
no rain or wind visible even at a distance. Wiedemann 
had walked for some time in deep silence, apparently 
engaged in praying, when suddenly he stopped and 
said : " Monsieur Horst, take your diary and write down, 
that our companion is at this moment exposed to great 
peril by water. The storm will last till night and the 
danger will be fearful; but the Lord will mercifully 
preserve him and the vessel, and no lives will be lost. 
Write it down carefully, so that when our friend returns, 
we may jointly thank God for His great mercy." The 
missionary did so, and when the three friends were 



united once more their diaries were compared, and it 
appeared that the statement had been exact in all its 

Clairvoyance, as far as it implies the seeing of per- 
sons or the witnessing of events at a great distance, is 
counted among the most frequent gifts of early saints, 
and St. Augustine mentions a number of remarkable 
cases. Not only absent friends and their fate were thus 
beheld by privileged Christians, but even the souls of 
departing saints were seen as they were borne to heaven 
by angelic hosts. The same exceptional gifts were ap- 
parently granted to the early Jesuit fathers ; thus Xa- 
vier once saw distinctly a whole naval expedition sailing 
against the pirates of Malacca and defeating them in a 
great naval battle. He had himself caused the fleet to 
be sent from Sumatra, and remained during the whole 
time in a trance. He had fallen down unconscious at 
the foot of the altar, where he had been fervently pray- 
ing for a long time, and during his unconsciousness he 
saw not only a general image of what was occurring at 
a distance of 200 Portuguese leagues, but every detail, 
so that upon recovering from the trance he could 
announce to his brethren the good news of a great vic- 
tory, of the loss of only three lives, and of the very day 
and hour on which the official report would be received 
(Orlandini, 1. vii. ch. 84). Queen Margaret, not always 
reliable, still seems to state well-known facts only, when 
she tells us in her famous Memoires (Paris, 1658) the 
visions of her mother, the great Queen Catherine de 


Medici. The latter was lying dangerously ill at Metz, 
and King Charles, a sister, and another brother of Mar- 
garet of Valois, the Duke of Lorraine, and a number of 
eminent persons of both sexes, were assembled around 
what was believed to be her death-bed. She was delir- 
ious, and suddenly cried out: "Just see how they run ! 
my son is victorious. Great God ! raise him up, he has 
fallen ! Do you see the -Prince of Conde there ? He is 
dead." Everybody thought she was delirious, but on the 
next evening a messenger came bringing the news of the 
battle of Jarnac, and as he mentioned the main events, 
she calmly turned to her children, saying: "Ah! I 
knew ; I saw it all yesterday ! " It seems as if in times 
of great and general expectation, when bloody battles 
are fought, and the destiny of empires hangs in the 
scales, the minds of the masses become so painfully ex- 
cited that the most sensitive among them fall into a 
kind of trance, and then perceive, by magic powers of 
divination, what is taking place at great distances. This 
over-excitement is, moreover, not unknown to men of 
the highest character an d the greatest erudition. Calvin , 
whose stern, clear-sighted judgment abhorred all super- 
stition, nevertheless once saw a battle between Catholics 
and Protestants with all its details. Swedenborg, whose 
religious enthusiasm never interfered with his scrupu- 
lous candor, saw more than once with- his mind's eye 
events occurring at a distance of hundreds of miles. 
His vision of the great fire at Stockholm is too well 
authenticated to admit of doubt. Not less reliable are 


the accounts of another vision he had at Amsterdam in 
' the presence of a large company. While engaged in ani- 
mated conversation, he suddenly changed countenance 
and became silent; the persons near him saw that he 
was under the influence of some strong impression. 
After a few moments he seemed to recover, and over- 
whelmed with questions, he at last reluctantly said: 
"In this hour the Emperor Peter IY. of Eussia has 
suffered death in his prison ! " It was ascertained after- 
wards that the unfortunate sovereign had died on that 
day and in the manner indicated. 

Among modern seers the most remarkable was pro- 
bably the well-known poet, Emile Deschamps, who 
published in 1838 interesting accounts of his own ex- 
periences. When he was only eight years old it was 
decided that he should leave Paris and be sent to 
Orleans; this troubled him sorely, and in his great 
grief he found some little comfort in setting his lively 
fancy to work and to imagine what the new city would 
be like. When he reached Orleans he was extremely 
surprised to recognize the streets, the shops, and even 
the names on the sign-boards, everything was exactly 
as he had seen it in his day-dreams. While he was yet 
there he saw his mother, whom he had left in Paris, in 
a dream rising gently heavenwards with a palm-branch 
in her hand, and heard her voice, very faint but sil- 
very, call to him, "Emile, Emile, my son!" She had 
died in the same night, uttering these words with her 
departing breath. Later in life he often heard strange 


but enchanting music while in a state of partial ecstasis ; 
lie saw distant events, and, among others, distinctly 
described a barricade, the defenders of the adjoining 
house, and certain events connected with the fight at 
that spot, as they had happened in Paris on the same 
day (Le Concile de la libre pensee, i. p. 183). 

A still higher power of divination enables men to 
read in the faces and forms of others, even of totally 
unknown persons, not only the leading traits of their 
character, but even the nature of their former lives. 
There can be no doubt that every important event in 
our life leaves a more or less perceptible trace Jbehind, 
which the acute and experienced observer may learn to 
read with tolerable distinctness and accuracy. It is 
well known how the study of the human face enables 
us thus to discern one secret after another, and how 
really great men have possessed the power to judge of 
the capacity of generals or statesmen to serve them, by 
natural instinct and without any effort. We say of 
specially endowed men of this class, that they "can 
read the souls of men," and what is most interesting is 
the well-established fact that the purer the mind and 
the freer from selfishness and conceit, the greater this 
power to feel, as it were, the character of others. Hence 
the superiority of women in this respect ; hence, espe- 
cially, the unfailing instinct of children, which enables 
them instantly to distinguish affected love from real 
love, and makes them shrink often painfully from con- 
tact with evil men. 


"When this power reaches in older men a high degree 
of perfection, it enters within the limits of magic, and 
in this form was well known to the ancients. The Neo- 
Platonic Plotinus is reported by Porphyrins to have 
been almost maryelonsly endowed with snch divining 
poAvers ; he revealed to his pupils the past and the fu- 
ture events of their lives alike, and once charged the 
author himself with cherishing thoughts of suicide, 
when no one else suspected such a purpose. In like 
manner, we are told, Ancus Nasvius, the famous augur 
of the first Tarquins, could read all he desired to know 
in the faces of others. The saints of the church were 
naturally as richly endowed, and from Filipo Keri to 
Xavier nearly all possessed this peculiar gift of divina- 
tion. But other men, also, and by no means always 
those most abundantly endowed with mental superiority, 
have frequently a peculiar talent of this kind. Thus 
the well-known writer Zschokke, the author of the ad- 
mirable work, " Hours of Devotion," gives in his auto- 
biographical work, Selbstschau, a full account of his 
peculiar gifts as a seer, which contains the following 
principal facts: At the moment when an utter stranger 
was first introduced to him, he saw a picture of his 
whole previous life rising gradually before his mind's 
eye, resembling somewhat a long dream, but clear and 
closely connected. During this time he would, contrary 
to his general custom, lose sight of the visitor's face 
and no longer hear his voice. He used to treat these 
involuntary revelations at first as mere idle fancies, till 


one day he was led by a kind of sportive impulse to 
tell his family the secret history of a seamstress who 
had just left the room, and whom he had never seen be- 
fore. It was soon ascertained that all he had stated 
was perfectly true, though known only to very few per- 
sons. From that time he treated these visions more 
seriously, taking pains to repeat them in a number of 
cases to the persons whom they concerned, and to his 
own great amazement they turned out in every case to 
be perfectly accurate. The author adds one case of pe- 
culiarly striking nature : u One day," he says, " I reach- 
ed the town of "Waldshut, accompanied by two young 
foresters, who are still alive. It was dusk, and tired by 
our walk we entered an inn called The Grapevine. We 
took our supper at the public table in company with 
numerous guests, who happened to be laughing at the 
oddities and the simplicity of the Swiss, their faith in 
Mesmer, in Lavater's ' System of the Physiognomy/ etc. 
One of my companions, hurt in his national pride, 
asked me to make a reply, especially with regard to a 
young man sitting opposite to us, whose pretentious 
airs and merciless laughter had been peculiarly offen- 
sive. It so happened that, a few moments -before, the 
main events in the life of this person had passed before 
my mind's eye. I turned to him and asked him if he 
would answer me candidly upon being told the most 
secret parts of his life by a man who was so complete a 
stranger to him as I was ? That, I added, would certainly 
go even beyond Lavater's power to read faces. He prom- 


ised to confess it openly, if I stated facts. Thereupon 
I related all I had seen in my mind, and informed thus 
the whole company at table of the young man's history, 
the events of his life at school, his petty sins, and at last , 
a robbery which he had committed by pilfering his em- 
ployer's strong-box. I described the empty room with its 
whitewashed walls and brown door, near which on the 
right hand, a small black money-box had been standing 
on a table, and other details. As long as I spoke there 
reigned a deathlike silence in the room, which was only 
interrupted by my asking the young man, from time to 
time, if all I said was not true. He admitted everything, 
although evidently in a state of utter consternation, and 
at last, deeply touched by his candor, I offered him my 
hand across the table and closed my recital." 

This popular writer, a man of unblemished character, 
who died in 1850, regretted by a whole nation, makes 
this account of his own prophetic power still more in- 
teresting by adding that he met at least once in his life 
another man similarly endowed. " I once encountered," 
he says, " while travelling with two of my sons, an old 
Tyrolese, a peddler of oranges and lemons, in a small inn 
half concealed in one of the narrow passes of the Jura 
Mountains. He fixed his eyes for some time upon my 
face, and then entered into conversation with me, stating 
that he knew me, although I did not know him, and 
then began, to the intense delight of the peasants who 
sat around us and of my children, to chat about myself 
and my past life. How the old man had acquired his 


strange knowledge he could not explain to himself or to 
others, but he evidently valued it highly, while my sons 
were not a little astonished to discover that other meu 
possessed the same gift which they had only known to 
exist in their father" 

It must not be forgotten that the human eye has, 
beyond question, often a power which far transcends the 
ordinary purposes of sight, and approaches the bound- 
aries of magic. There is probably no one who cannot 
recall scenes in which the soothing and cheering ex- 
pression of gentle eyes has acted like healing balm on 
wounded hearts ; or others, in which glances of fury and 
hatred have caused genuine terror and frightened the 
conscience. History records a number of instances, from 
the glance of the Saviour, which made Peter go out and 
weep bitterly, to the piercing eye of a well-known English 
judge, which made criminals of every rank in society feel 
as if their very hearts lay open to the divining eye of a mas- 
ter. This peculiar and almost irresistible power of the eye 
has not inaptly been traced back to the gorgon head of 
antiquity — a frightful image from Hades with a dread 
glance of the eye, as it is called by Homer (II. viii. 349 ; 
Odyss. xi. 633). The same fearful expression, chilling 
the blood and almost arresting the beating of the heart, 
is frequently mentioned in modern accounts of visions. 
Thus the Demon of Tedworth recorded by Glanvil 
("Sadd. Triumph/' 4th ed. p. 270), consisted of the 
vague outlines of a human face, in which only two bright, 
piercing eyes could be distinguished. In other cases, a 


faint vapor, barely recalling a human shape, arises before 
the beholder, and above it are seen the same terrible eyes 

" Sent from the palace of Ais by fearful Persepkoneia." 

Magic divination in point of time includes the class 
of generally very vague and indefinite perceptions, 
which we call presentiments. These are, unfortunately, 
so universally mixed up with impressions produced 
after the occurrence — vaiicinium post eventum — that 
their value as interesting phenomena of magic is seri- 
ously impaired. There remains, however, in a num- 
ber of cases, enough that is free from all spurious 
admixture, to admit of being examined seriously. The 
ancients not only believed in this kind of foresight, but 
ascribed it with Pythagoras to revelations made by 
friendly spirits ; in Holy Writ it rises almost invariably, 
under direct inspiration from on high, to genuine 
prophecy. It reveals not only the fate of the seer, but 
also that of others, and even of whole nations; the 
details vary, of course, according to the prevailing 
spirit of the times. 

When JSTarses was ruling over Italy, a young shep- 
herd in the service of Valerianus, a lawyer, was seized 
by the plague and fell into syncope. He recovered for 
a time, and then declared that he had been carried to 
heaven, where he had heard the names of all who in his 
master's house should die of the plague, adding that 
Valerianus himself would escape. After his death 
everything occurred as he had predicted. An English 


minister, Mr. Dodd, one night felt an irresistible im- 
pulse to visit a friend of his who lived at some distance. 
He walked to his house, found the family asleep, but 
the father still awake and ready to open the door to his 
late visitor. The latter, very much embarrassed, thought 
it best to state the matter candidly, and confessed that 
he came for no ostensible purpose, and really did not 
know himself what made him do so. " But God knew 
it," was the answer, " for here is the rope with which 
I was just about to hang myself." It may well be 
presumed that the Rev. Mr. Dodd had some apprehen- 
sions of the state of mind of his friend ; but that he 
should have felt prompted to call upon him just at that 
hour, was certainly not a mere accident. 

The family of the great Goethe was singularly en- 
dowed with this power of presentiment. The poet's 
grandfather predicted both a great conflagration and 
the unexpected arrival of the German Emperor, and a 
dream informed him beforehand of his election as 
alderman and then as mayor of his native city. His 
mother's sister saw hidden things in her dreams. His 
grandmother once entered her daughter's chamber 
long after midnight in a state of great and painful ex- 
citement; she had heard in her own room a noise like 
the rustling of papers, and then deep sighs, and after a 
while a cold breath had struck her. Some time after 
this event a stranger was announced, and when he 
appeared before her holding a crumbled paper in his 
hand, she had barely strength enough to keep from 


fainting. When she recovered, her visitor stated that 
in the night of her vision a dear friend of hers, lying 
on his deathbed, had asked for paper in order to impart 
to her an important secret; before he could write, 
however, he had been seized by the death-struggle, and 
after crumpling up the paper and uttering two deep 
sighs he had expired. An indistinct scrawl was all 
that could be seen ; still the stranger had thought it 
best to bring the paper. The secret concerned his now 
orphaned child, a girl whom Goethe's grandparents 
thereupon took home and cared for affectionately 
(Goethe's Briefwechsel, 3d ed., II. p. 268). 

Bourrienne tells us in his Memoires several instances 
of remarkable forebodings on the part of Napoleon's 
first wife, Josephine. Her mind was probably, by her 
education and the peculiar surroundings in which she 
passed her childhood, predisposed to receive vivid im- 
pressions of this kind, and to observe them with great 
care and deep interest. Thus she almost invariably 
predicted the failure of such of her husband's enter- 
prises as proved unsuccessful. After Bonaparte had 
moved into the Tuileries on the 18th Brumaire, she saw, 
while sitting in the room of poor Marie Antoinette, 
the shadow of the unfortunate queen rise from the 
floor, pass gently through the apartment, and vanish 
through the window. She fainted, and from that day 
predicted her own sad fate. On another occasion the 
spirit of her first husband, Beauharnais, appeared before 
her with a gesture of solemn warning; she immediately 


turned to Napoleon, exclaiming: "Awake, awake, yon 
are threatened by a great danger ! " There seemed to 
be, for some days, no ground for apprehension, but so 
strong were her fears that she secretly sent for the 
minister of police and entreated him to take special 
measures for the safety of the First Consul. At eight 
o'clock of the evening of the same day the latter left 
the Tuileries on his way to the opera ; a terrible explo- 
sion was heard in the Eue St. Nicaise, where conspir- 
ators attempted to blow up the dictator, and he nar- 
rowly escaped with his life. Josephine at once has- 
tened to his side, and after having most tenderly cared 
for the wounded, embraced Napoleon in public with 
tears streaming down her face, and implored him 
hereafter to listen more attentively to her warnings. 
Napoleon, however, though superstitious enough firmly 
to believe in what he called his " star," and even to see 
it shining in the heavens when no one else beheld it, 
never would admit the value of his wife's forebodings. 

Presentiments of this kind are most frequently felt 
before death, and it is now almost universally believed 
that the impending dissolution of the body relieves the 
spirit in many cases fully enough from its bondage to 
endow it with a clear and distinct anticipation of the 
coming event. A large number of historical personages 
have thus been enabled to predict the day, and many 
even the hour of their own death. The Oonnetable do 
Bourbon, who was besieging Eome, addressed, according 
to Brantome (Vies des gr. capita in es, ch. 28), on the 


day of the final assault, his troops, and told them he 
would certainly fall before the Eternal City, but without 
regret if they but proved victorious. Henry IV. of 
France, felt his death coming, according to the unani- 
mous evidence of Sully, L'Etoile, and Bassompierre, 
and said, before he entered his coach on the fatal day : 
" My friend, I would rather not go out to-day ; I know 
I shall meet with misfortune." On the 16th of May, 
1813, four days before the battle of Bautzen, two of 
Napoleon's great officers, the Duke of Vicenza and 
Marshal Duroc, were in attendance at Dresden while the 
emperor was holding a protracted conference with the 
Austrian ambassador. The clock was striking mid- 
night, when suddenly Dnroc seized his companion by 
the arm and with frightfully altered features, looking 
intently at him, said in trembling tones : " My friend, 
this lasts too long ; we shall all of us perish, and he last 
of all. A secret voice tells me that I shall never see 
France again." It is well known that on the day of the 
battle a cannon-ball which had already killed General 
Kirchner, wounded Duroc also mortally, and when he 
lay on his deathbed he once more turned to the Duke 
of Vicenza and reminded him of the words he had 
spoken in Dresden. 

The trustworthy author of " Eight Months in Japan," 
N. Liihdorf, tells us (p. 158) a remarkable instance of 
unconscious foreboding on the part of a common sailor. 
The American barque Greta was in 1855 chartered to 
carry a great number of Russians, who had been ship- 


wrecked on board the frigate Diana during an earth- 
quake at Simoda to the Eussian port of Ayan. A sailor 
on board was very ill, and shortly before his death told 
his comrades that he would soon die, but that he was 
rather glad of it, as they would all be captured by the 
English, with whom Eussia was then at war. The re- 
port of his prediction reached the captain's cabin, but 
all the officers agreed that such an event was next to 
impossible ; a dense fog was making the ship perfectly 
invisible, and no English fleet had as yet appeared in 
the Sea of Okhotsk, where the Eussians had neither ves- 
sels nor forts to tempt the British. The whole force of 
England in those waters was at that moment engaged 
in blockading the Eussian fleet in the Bay of Castris in 
the Gulf of Tartary. Nevertheless it so chanced that a 
British steamer, the corvette Barracouta, hove in sight 
on the 1st of August and captured the vessel, making 
the Eussians prisoners of war. 


A special kind of divination, which has at times been 
evidenced in certain parts of Europe, and is not unknown 
to our North-western Indians, consists in the percep- 
tion of contemporaneous or future events, during a brief 
trance. Generally the seer looks with painfully raised 
eyelids, fixedly into space, evidently utterly unconscious 
of all around him, and engaged in watching a distant 
occurrence. A peculiar feature of this phenomenon, 


familiar to all readers as second sight, is the exclusion 
of religious or supernatural matters; the visions are 
always strictly limited to events of daily life : deaths 
and births, battles and skirmishes, baptisms and wed- 
dings. The actors in these scenes are often personally 
unknown to the seer, and the transactions are as fre- 
quently beheld in symbols as in reality. A man who 
is to die a violent death, maybe seen with a rope around 
his neck or headless, with a dagger plunged into his 
breast, or sinking into the water up to his neck ; the 
sick man who is to expire in his bed, will appear wrap- 
ped up in his winding sheet, in which case his person 
is more or less completely concealed as his death is 
nearer or farther off. A friend or a messenger coming 
from a great distance, is seen as a faint shadow, and a 
murderer or a thief, as a wolf or a fox. Another pecu- 
liar feature of second sight is the fact that the same 
visions are very frequently beheld by several persons, 
although the latter may live far apart and have nothing 
in common with each other. The phenomena are spor- 
adic in Germany and Switzerland, in the Dauphine and 
the Cevennes; they occur in larger numbers and are 
often hereditary in certain families, in Denmark, the 
Scotch Highlands and the Faroe Islands. In Gaelic, the 
persons thus gifted are called Taishatrim, seers of 
shadows, or Phissichin, possessing knowledge before- 
hand. Hence, they have been most thoroughly studied 
in those countries, and Mr. Martin has gathered all that 
could be learnt of second sight in the Shetlands, in a 


work of great interest. Here the phenomena are not 
infrequently accompanied by magic hearing also, as 
when funerals are seen in visions, and at the same time 
the chants of the bystanders and even the words of the 
preacher are distinctly heard. The most marked form 
of this feature is the taisk or wraith, a cry uttered by a 
person who is soon to die, and heard by the seer. The 
dwellers on those remote islands are also in the habit of 
smelling an odor of fish, often weeks and months before 
the latter appear in their waters. A special kind of 
divination exists in Wales and on the Isle of Man, where 
the approaching death of friends is revealed by so-called 
body lights, caulawillan cyrth. 

The entirely unselfish character of second sight 
must not be overlooked, as far as it increases in a high 
'degree the value of such phenomena and adds to their 
authenticity. In the great majority of cases the per- 
sons and events seen under such circumstances are of 
no interest to the seer; they are frequently utterly 
strange and unknown to him, and hence find no sym- 
pathy in his heart. It appears as if, by some unknown 
and hence magic process, a window was opened for the 
soul to look out and behold whatever may happen to 
be presented to the inner vision ; this image is then 
transferred to the outer eye, and the seer's imagination 
makes him believe that he sees in reality what is 
revealed to him by this mysterious process. Hence 
also the facts that the persons gifted with second 
sight, so far from laboring under diseases of any kind, 


are almost without exception simple, frugal men, free 
from chronic affections, and perfect strangers to hys- 
terics, spasms, or nervous sufferings. Insanity and 
suicide are as unknown to them as drunkenness, and 
no case of selfish interest or willful imposture has ever 
been recorded in connection with second sight. This 
does not imply, however, that efforts have not been 
made by others to profit by the strange gifts of such 
persons; but even the career of the famous Duncan 
Campbell, a deaf and dumb Scot, who, in the beginning 
of the last century, created an immense sensation in 
London, only proved anew the well-known disinterest- 
edness of these seers. In many instances the gift of 
second sight is treated with indifference, and hardly 
noticed. Such was the case with Lord Nelson, who is 
reported to have exhibited the gift of a kind of second 
sight, at least in two well-authenticated cases, related 
by Sir Thomas Hardy to Admiral Dundas, and quoted 
by Dr. Mayo, as he had the account from the latter. 
Captain Hardy heard Nelson order the commander of 
a frigate to shake out all sails to sail towards a certain 
place where he would in all probability meet the French 
fleet, and as soon as he had made it out, to run into a 
certain port and there to wait for Nelson's arrival. 
When the officer had left the cabin, Nelson turned to 
Hardy, saying: "He will go to the West Indies; he 
will see the French ; he will make the port I told him 
to make, but he will not wait .for me — he will sail for 
England." The commander actually did so. In this 


case, however, Nelson may possibly have only given a 
striking evidence of his power to read the character of 
men, and to draw his conclusions as to their probable 
action. In the following instance his knowledge ap- 
peared, on the contrary, as a magic phenomenon. It 
was shortly before the battle of Trafalgar, when an 
English frigate was made out at such a distance that 
her position could not be accurately ascertained. Sud- 
denly Nelson turned to Hardy, who was standing by 
his side, and said : " The frigate has sighted the French." 
Hardy had nothing to say in reply. "She sights the 
French ; she will lire presently." In an instant the 
low sound of a signal-shot was heard afar off ! 

In other cases the curious gift is borne with great 
impatience, and becomes a source of intense suffering. 
This is certainly very pardonable in men who read im- 
pending death in the features of others, and hence are 
continually subject to hear-trending impressions. Some- 
times the moribund appears as if he had been lying in 
his grave already for several days, at other times he is 
seen wrapped up in his shroud or in the act of expir- 
ing. In some parts of Germany the approaching death 
of a neighbor is announced by the appearance of Death 
itself, not in the familiar mythological form, but as a 
white, luminous appearance, which either stops before 
the house of the person who is to die soon, or actually 
enters it and places itself by the side of the latter. 
Occasionally the image is seen to fill the seat or to walk 
in a procession in the place of a man as yet in perfect 


health, who nevertheless soon falls a victim to some 
disease or sudden attack. 

Second sight is, like all similar magic phenomena, 
frequently mentioned in the writings of the ancients. 
Homer mentions a case in his " Odyssey " (xx. v. 351). 
Apollonius of Tyana was delivering an oration at 
Ephesus, when he suddenly stopped in the middle of a 
sentence and beheld in a vision the Emperor Domitian 
at Eome, in the act of succumbing to his murderers. 
He fell into a kind of trance, his eyes became fixed, and 
he exclaimed in an unnatural voice : " Down with the 
tyrant ! " ( Vita Apoll. Zenobis Anolo interprete. Paris, 
1555, 1. viii. p. 562.) Henry IV., when still Prince of 
Navarre, saw on the eve of St. Bartholomew several 
drops of blood falling upon the green cloth of the card- 
table at which he was seated in company with several 
courtiers; the latter beheld the fearful and ominous 
sight as well as he himself. German writings abound 
with instances of men having seen their own funeral 
several days before their death, and in many instances 
the warning is reported to have had a most salutary 
effect in causing them to repent of their sins and to 
prepare for the impending summons. One of the most 
remarkable instances is that of a distinguished pro- 
fessor of divinity, Dr. Lysius, in Kbnigsberg. He had 
inherited special magic powers through many genera- 
tions from an early ancestor, who saw a funeral of very 
peculiar nature, with all the attending circumstances, 
long before it actually took place. He himself had his 


first revelation when, lying in bed awake, lie saw sud- 
denly his chamber quite light, and something like a 
man's shadow pass him, while on his mind, not on his 
ear, fell the words : Umbra matris turn. Although his 
mother had just written to him that she was in un- 
usually good health and spirits, she had died that very 
night. On another occasion he astonished his friends 
by telling them what a superb new building he had 
seen erected in Konigsberg, giving all the details of 
church and school-room to a little gate in a narrow alley. 
Many years afterwards such a building was really erected 
there, and he himself called to occupy part of it, when 
that little gate became his favorite entrance. Although 
he had many such visions, and his wife, succumbing to 
the contagious influence of magic powers, also foresaw 
more than one important event, he sternly refused to 
attach any weight to his own forebodings or those of 
other persons. Thus a poor 'woman, possessing the gift 
of second sight, once came to some members of his 
family and told them she had seen seven funerals leave 
his house; when this was reported to him, he de- 
nounced the superstition as unchristian, and forbade 
its being mentioned again in his presence. But, 
although there was not a sick person in the house at 
the time, and even the older members of the family 
were unusually hale and hearty, in a few weeks every 
one in the house was dangerously ill, the head of the 
family alone excepted, and as three only escaped, the 
seven deaths which had been foreseen actually took place. 


The annals of Swedish history (Arndt, Scliwed. 
Gesch. p. 317) record a remarkable case of this kind. 
The scene was the old castle of G-ripsholm, near Stock- 
holm, a place full of terrible reminiscences, and more 
than once made famous by strange mysteries. A great 
state dinner given to a prince of Baden, had just ended, 
when one of the guests, Count Frolich, suddenly gazed 
fixedly at the great door of the dining-hall, and when he 
regained his composure, declared he had just seen their 
princely guest walk in, wearing a different uniform from 
that in which he was actually dressed, as he sat in the 
place of honor. It was, however, a custom of the prince's 
to wear one costume one day and another the next day, 
and thus to change regularly; Count Frolich bad seen 
him in that which he would accordingly wear the next 
day. The impression was beginning to wear away, and 
the accident was nearly forgotten, when suddenly a 
great disturbance was heard without, servants came 
running in, women were heard crying, and even the offi- 
cers on guard were seriously disturbed. The report was 
that " King Eric's ghost " had been seen. On the fol- 
lowing day the Prince of Baden was thrown from his 
carriage and instantly killed; his body was brought 
back to Gripsholm. 

Here also we meet again with the exceptional powers 
granted to Goethe. He had just parted with one of his 
many loves, the fair daughter of the minister of Drusen- 
heim, Friederike, and was riding in deep thought upon 
the footpath, when he suddenly saw, " not with the 


eyes of the body, but of the spirit,"' his own self in a 
new light gray coat, laced with gold, riding towards 
him. When he made an effort to shake off the impres- 
sion, the vision disappeared. " It is strange, however," 
he tells ns himself, " that I found myself eight years 
later riding on that same road, in order to see Frieder- 
ike once more, and was then dressed, by accident and 
not from choice, in the costume of which I had dreamt " 
(Aus Meinem Leben, iii. p. &4). A kindred spirit, Sir 
Humphry Davy, had once a vision, which strangely 
enough was fulfilled more than once. In his attractive 
work (" Consolations in Travel," p. 63), he relates how 
he saw, when suffering of jail fever, the image of a beau- 
tiful woman, with whom he soon entered into a most 
interesting conversation. He was at the time warmly 
attached to a lady, but the vision represented a girl 
with brown hair, blue eyes and blooming complexion, 
while his lady-love was pale and had dark eyes and dark 
hair. His mysterious visitor came frequently, as long as 
he was really sick, but as his strength returned, her 
visits became rarer, and at last ceased altogether. He 
forgot it entirely ; but ten years later he suddenly met 
in Illyria, a girl of about fourteen or fifteen years, who 
strikingly resembled the image he had seen, and now 
recalled in all' its details. Another ten years passed, 
and the great chemist met once more in traveling, a 
person who as strikingly resembled his first vision, and 
became indebted to her tender care and kindness for the 
preservation of his life. 


In some parts of the world this gift of second sight 
assumes very peculiar forms. In Africa, for instance, 
and especially in the countries adjoining the Sahara, 
men and women are found who possess alike the power 
of seeing coming events beforehand. More than once 
European travelers have been hospitably received by 
natives who had been warned of their coming. Rich- 
ardson tells us in his graphic account of his " Mission 
to Central Africa," that his arrival had thus been an- 
nounced to the chief and the people of Tintalus in these 
words : " A caravan of Englishmen is on the way from 
Tripoli, to come to you." The seer was an old negro- 
woman, a reputed witch, who had a great reputation for 
anticipating events. In the Isle of France — we learn 
from James Prior in his " Voyage in the Indian Seas" — 
there are many men who can see vessels at a distance of 
several hundred miles. One of them described accu- 
rately and minutely the wreck of a ship on the coast 
of Madagascar, from whence it was to bring provisions. 
A woman expecting her lover on board another ship, 
inquired of one of these seers if he could give her any 
comfort : he replied promptly that the vessel was only 
three days' sail from the island, and that her friend was 
then engaged in washing his linen. The ship arrived 
at the appointed time, and the man corroborated the 
seer's statement. The great navigator relates even 
more surprising feats accomplished by the director of 
signals, Faillafe, who saw vessels distinctly at a distance 
of from sixty to one hundred sea miles. Their image 


appeared to liim on the horizon in the shape of a light 
brown cloud with faint outlines, but yet distinctly 
enough to enable him to distinguish the size of the ves- 
sel, the nature of its rigging, and the direction in 
which it was sailing. 

Second hearing seems to be limited to the eastern 
part of Scotland, where it occurs' occasionally in whole 
families. Mrs. Crowe mentions, for instance, a man and 
his wife in Berwickshire, who were both aroused at 
night by a loud cry which they at once recognized as 
peculiar to their son. It appeared afterwards that he 
had perished at sea in that night and at the same hour 
when the cry was heard (I. p. 161). In another case 
a man in Perthshire was waked by his wife, who told 
h im that no doubt their son had been drowned, for she 
had distinctly heard the splash as he fell into the water, 
and had been aroused by the noise. Here also the fore- 
boding proved true : the man had fallen from the yard- 
arm, and disappeared before a boat could be lowered, 
although his fall had been heard by all aboard. 

It must finally be mentioned that second sight has 
been noticed not in men only, but even in animals. 
Horses especially seem to be extremely sensitive to all 
magic influences, and accounts of their peculiar conduct 
under trying circumstances are both numerous and 
perfectly well authenticated. Thus a minister in Lind- 
holm, the Eev. Mr. Hansen, owned a perfectly gentle 
and good-natured horse, which all of a sudden refused 

to stand still in his stable, began to tremble and give 



all signs of great fear, and finally kicked and reared so 
wildly that lie had to be removed. As soon as he was 
placed in another stable he calmed down and became 
perfectly quiet. It was at last discovered that a person 
endowed with second sight had ascribed the strange be- 
havior of the horse to the fact that a coffin was being 
made before his open stable, and that the horse could 
not bear the sight. The man was laughed at, but not 
long after the minister's wife died, and for some special 
reasons the coffin was actually made in full view of the 
former stable of the horse (Kies. Arch. viii. p. 111). 
Dogs also have been reported in almost innumerable 
cases to have set up a most painful howling before the 
approaching death of inmates of a house where they 
were kept. 

In England and in Germany especially, they are con- 
sidered capable of seeing supernatural beings. When 
they are seen to cower down of a sudden, and to press 
close to the feet of their masters, trembling often in all 
their limbs, and looking up most piteously, as if for 
help, popular belief says : " All is not right with the 
dog," or " He sees more than men can see." The memory 
of Balaam's ass rises instinctively in our mind, and we 
feel that this part of creation, which groaneth with us 
for salvation, and which was included among those for 
whose sake the Lord spared Nineveh, may see what is 
concealed from our eyes. Samuel Wesley tells us ex- 
pressly how a dog, specially bought for the purpose of 
frightening away the evil-disposed men who were at 


first suspected of causing the nightly disturbances at the 
parsonage, barked but once the first night, and after 
that exhibited, upon the recurrence of those noises, quite 
as much terror as the children. 

Nor are dogs and horses the only animals considered 
capable of perceiving by a special instinct of their own 
the working of supernatural agencies. During a series 
of mysterious disturbances in a G-erman village, the 
chickens fled in terror from the garden, and the cattle 
refused to enter the enclosure, when the appearances 
were seen. Swiss herdsmen have a number of stories 
concerning " feyed" places in the Alps, to which neither 
caress nor compulsion can induce their herds to go, even 
when pasture is rare everywhere else, and rich grass 
seems to tempt them to come to the abhorred meadows. 
Storks have been known to have abandoned the roof- 
tree on which for years they had built their nest, and 
in every case the forsaken house was burnt during the 
summer. This and other peculiarities of sagacious ani-. 
mals have been especially noticed in Denmark, where 
all animals are called synsh, seers, when they are be- 
lieved to possess the gift of second sight. 


The highest degree of divination is the actual fore- 
telling of events which are yet to happen. The imme- 
diate causes which awaken the gift are of the most 
varied character, and often very curious. Thus a young 
Florentine, Gasparo, who had been wounded by an 


arrow, and could not be relieved, began in his fearful 
suffering to pray incessantly, day and night; this ex- 
cited him to such a degree that he finally foretold not 
only the name of his visitors, but also the hour at 
which they would come, and finally the day of his com- 
plete recovery ; he also knew, by the same instinct, 
that later in life he would go to Borne and die there. 
When the iron point was at last removed from his 
wound, his health began to improve, and at once his 
prophetic gift left him and never returned. He went, 
however, to Eome, and really died in the Eternal City 
(Colquhoun, p. 333). The priests of Apollo, at Co- 
lophon, intoxicated themselves with the water of his 
fountain, which was as famous for bestowing the gift 
of prophecy as iEsculapius' well at Pergamus and the 
springs near his temple at Pellena. In other temples 
vapors were inhaled by the prophetic priests. In the 
prophet-schools of the Israelites music seems to have 
played a prominent part, for Samuel told Saul he would 
meet at the hill of Gad " a company of prophets coming 
down from the high place with a psaltery and a tabret 
and a pipe before them." The Jews possessed, how- 
ever, also other means to aid in divining: Joseph had 
his cup, a custom still prevalent in the East ; and the 
High Priest, before entering into the Holiest, put on 
the Thummim with its six dark jewels and the Urim 
with its six light-colored jewels, whereupon the bril- 
liant sparkling of the precious stones and the rich 
fumes of incense combined with the awful sense of the 


presence of Jehovah in predisposing his mind to receive 
revelations from on high. The false prophets of Baal, 
on the contrary, tried to produce like effects by bloody 
means: " They cut themselves with knives and lancets 
till the blood gushed out upon them," and then they 
prophesied. It has already been mentioned that in 
India the glance was fixed upon the navel, until the 
divine light began to shine before the mind's eye — in 
other words, until a trance is induced, and visions begin 
to appear. The changes which immediately precede 
dissolution seem, finally, to be most favorable to a 
development of prophetic powers. Already Aretaeus, 
the Cappadocian, said that the mind of many dying 
persons was perfectly clear, penetrating and prophetic, 
and mentions a number of cases in which the dying 
had begun to converse with the dead, or foretold the 
fate of those who stood by their bedside. Thus Homer 
also makes dying Hector warn Achilles of his approach- 
ing end, and Calanus, when in the act of ascending the 
funeral pile, replies to Alexander's question if he had 
any request to make : " No, I have nothing to ask, for 
I shall see you the day after to-morrow ! " And on 
that day the young conqueror died. 

Suetonius reports that the Emperor Augustus was 
passing away almost imperceptibly, when he suddenly 
shuddered and said that forty youths were carrying 
him off. It so happened that when the end came, forty 
men of his body-guard were ordered to raise and con- 
vey the body to another room in the palace. There 


are a few cases known in which apparently dying per- 
sons, after delivering such prophecies, have recovered 
and retained the exceptional gift during the remainder 
of their lives, but these instances are rare and require 

As all magic phenomena are liable to be mixed up 
with delusion and imposture, so divination of this kind 
also has been frequently imitated for personal or po- 
litical purposes. The ancient oracles already gave 
frequently answers full of irony and sly humor. The 
story of King Alexander of Epirus is well known, who 
was warned by the oracle at Dodona to keep away from 
the Acherusian waters, and then perished in the river 
Acheros, in Italy. Thus Henry IV. of England had 
been told that he would die at Jerusalem ; he thought 
only of Palestine, but met his death unconsciously in a 
room belonging to the Abbey of Westminster, which 
bore the name of the holy city. In Spain, Ferdinand 
the Catholic received warning that he would die at 
Madrigal, and hence carefully avoided the city of that 
name ; but when his last illness overtook him at an 
obscure little town, he found that it was called Madri- 
gaola, or Little Madrigal. The historian Mariana 
(Hist, de rebus Hisp., 1. xxii. chap. 66) also mentions the 
despair of the famous favorite Don Alvarez de Luna, 
whom an astrologer had warned against Cadahalso, a 
village near Toledo ; the unfortunate man died on the 
scaffold which is also called cadahalso. In France it 
was the fate of the superstitious queen, Catherine de 


Medici, to experience a similar mortification : the 
famous Nostradamus had predicted that she would die 
in St. Germain, and she carefully avoided that palace ; 
but when her last end came, she found herself sinking- 
helpless into the arms of a courtier called St. Ger- 

Nor is there any want of false prophecies from the 
time when Jeremiah complained that " a wonderful and 
horrible thing is committed in the land ; the people 
prophesy falsely " (Jer. v. 30), to the great money crisis 
in 1857, which filled the land with predictions of the 
approaching end. Periods of great political or reli- 
gious excitement invariably produce a few genuine and 
a host of spurious prophets, which represent the sad 
forebodings filling the mind of a distressed nation and 
avail themselves of the credulity of all great sufferers. 
Some of the most absurd prophecies have nevertheless 
caused a perfect panic, extending in some cases through- 
out whole countries. Thus in 1578 a famous astrolo- 
ger, the father of all weather prophecies in our alma- 
nacs, predicted that in the month of February, 1524, 
when three planets should enter at once the constellation 
of the fishes, a second deluge would destroy the earth. 
The report reached the Emperor Charles V., who sub- 
mitted the matter to his Spanish theologians and as- 
trologers. They investigated it with solemn gravity 
and found it very formidable ; from Spain the panic 
spread through the whole of Europe. When February 
came thousands left their houses and sought refuge on 


mountain and hill-top ; others hoped to escape on board 
ships, and a rich president at Toulouse actually built 
himself a second ark. When the deluge did not take 
place, divines and diviners were by no means abashed ; 
they declared that God had this time also taken pity 
upon sinful men in consideration of the fervent prayer 
of the faithful, as he had done before in the case of 
Nineveh. The fear of the last judgment has at all 
times so rilled the minds of men as to make them readi- 
ly believe a prediction of the approaching end of the 
world, an event which, it is well known, the apostles, 
Martin Luther, and certain modern divines, have per- 
sistently thought immediately impending. Sects have 
arisen at various epochs who have looked forward to the 
second Advent with a sincerity of conviction of which 
they gave striking and even most fearful evidence. The 
Millerites of the Union have more than once predicted 
the coming of Christ, and in anticipation of the near 
Advent, disposed of their property, assumed the white 
robes in which they were to ascend to heaven, and even 
mounted into the topmost branches of trees to shorten 
the journey. In Switzerland a young woman of Berne 
became so excited by the coming of judgment, which 
she fixed upon the next Easter day, that she prophesied 
daily, gathered a number of followers around her, and 
actually had her own grandfather strangled in order to 
save his soul before the approaching Advent. (Stilling, 
"Janserits,"p. 117.) 

Not unfrequently prophecies are apparently delivered 


by intermediate agents, angels, demons or peculiarly 
marked persons. It was no doubt an effect of the deep 
and continued excitement felt by Caius Cassius, that 
his mind was filled with the image of murdered Caesar, 
and hence he could very easily fancy he saw his victim 
in his purple cloak, horse and rider of gigantic propor- 
tions, suddenly appear in the din of the battle at Phi- 
lippi, riding down upon him with wild passion. It is 
well known that the impression was strong enough to 
make him, who had never yet turned his back upon the 
enemy, seek safety in flight, and cry out : " What more 
do you want if murder does not finish you?" (Va- 
ler. Max. I. 8. ) 

It must lastly be borne in mind, that prophecies have 
not remained as sterile as other magical phenomena. 
Already Herder mentions the advantages of ancient ora- 
cles. He says (Idee?i zur Phil. cl. Geschiclite, iii. p. 211) : 
" Many a tyrant and criminal was publicly marked by 
the divine voice (of oracles), when it foretold their fate ; 
in like manner it has saved many an innocent person, 
given good advice to the helpless, lent divine authority 
to noble institutions, made known works of art, and 
sanctioned great moral truths as well as wholesome 
maxims of state policy." It need hardly be added that 
the prophets of Israel were the main upholders of the 
religious life as well as of the morality of the chosen 
people ; while the priests remained stationary in their 
views, and contented themselves with performing the 
ceremonial service of the temple, the prophets preserved 


the true faith, and furthered its gradually widening rev- 
elation. In their case, however, divination was so 
clearly the result of divine inspiration, that their proph- 
ecies can hardly be classed among magic phenomena. 
The ground which they have in common with merely 
human forebodings and divinings, is the state of trance 
in which alone prophets seem to have foretold the 
future, whether we believe this ecstatic condition to 
have been caused by music, long-protracted prayer or 
the direct agency of the Holy Spirit. 

This ecstasy was in the case of almost all the oracles 
of antiquity brought on by inhaling certain gases which 
rose from the soil and produced often most fearful symp- 
toms in the unfortunate persons employed for the pur- 
pose. At the same time they were rarely free from an 
addition of artifice, as the priests not only filled the 
mind of the pythoness beforehand with thoughts sug- 
gested by their own wisdom and political experience, 
but the latter also frequently employed her skill as a 
ventriloquist, in order to increase the force of her rev- 
elations. Hence the fact, that almost all the Greek ora- 
cles proceeded from deep caves, in which, as at Dodona 
and Delphi, carbonic gas was developed in abundance ; 
hence, also, the name of ventriloqua vates, which was 
commonly given to the Delphi Pythia. The oldest of 
these oracles, that at Dodona, foretold events for nearly 
two thousand years, and even survived the almost uni- 
versal destruction of such institutions at the time of 
Christ; it did not actually cease till the third century, 


when an Illyrian robber cut down the sacred tree. The 
oracle of Zeus Trophonius in Bceotia spoke through 
the patients who were brought to the caves, where they 
became somnambulists, had visions and answered the 
questions of the priests while they were in this condi- 
tion. The Romans also had their somnambulist proph- 
ets from the earliest days, and whenever the state was 
in danger, the Sibylline books were consulted. Chris- 
tianity made an end to all such divination in Italy as in 
Greece. It is strange that the vast scheme of Egyptian 
superstition shows us no oracles whatever; but among 
the G-ermans prophets were all the more numerous. 
They foretold war or peace, success or failure, and ex- 
ercised a powerful influence on all affairs. One of the 
older prophetesses, Veleda, who lived in an isolated 
tower, and allowed herself to be but rarely consulted, 
was held in high esteem even by the Romans. The 
Celts had in like manner prophet-Druids, some of whom 
became well known to the Romans, and are reported to 
have foretold the fate of the emperors Aurelian, Dio- 
cletian and Severus. 

We have the authority of Josephus for the continu- 
ance of prophetic power in Israel even after the coming 
of Christ. He tells us of Jesus, the son of Ananus, 
who ran for seven years and five months through the 
streets of Jerusalem, proclaiming the coming ruin, and, 
while crying out " Woe is me ! " was struck and 
instantly killed by a stone from one of the siege engines 
of the Romans. (Jos., 1. vi. c. 31.) Josephus himself 


passes for a prophet, having predicted the fall of the 
city of Jotapata forty-seven days in advance, his own 
captivity, and the imperial dignity of Vespasian as well 
as of Titus. Of northern prophets, Merlin is probably 
the most widely known ; he was a Celtic bard, called 
Myrdhin, and his poems, written in the seventh century, 
were looked upon as accurate descriptions of many 
subsequent events, such as the exploits of Joan of Arc. 
In the sixteenth century Nostradamus took his place, 
whose prophetic verses, Vraies Centuries et Prophttics, 
are to this day current among the people, and now and 
then reappear in leading journals. He had been a pro- 
fessor of medicine in the University of Montpellier, and 
died in 1566, enjoying a world-wide reputation as an 
astrologer. His brief and often enigmatical verses have 
never lost their hold on credulous minds, and a few 
striking instances have, even in our century, largely 
revived his credit. Such was, for instance, the stanza 
(No. 10) : 

Tin empereur naitre pres d'ltalie, 
Qui d V empire sera vendu tres cher; 
Dirbnt avec quels gens il se rattii, 
Qu'on trouvera moins prince que toucher, 

which was naturally applied to the great Napoleon and 
his marshals. 

Another northern prophet, whose predictions are 
still quoted, was the Archbishop of Armagh, Malachias, 
who, in 1130, foretold the Me of all coming popes; as 
in almost all similar cases, here also the accidental 


coincidences have been carefully noted and pompously 
proclaimed, while the many unfulfilled prophecies have 
been as studiously concealed. It is curious, however, 
that he distinctly predicted the fate of Pius VI., whom 
he spoke of as " Vir apostolicus moriens in exilo " (he 
died, 1799, an exile, in Valence), and that he character- 
ized Pius IX. as " Crux de Cruce." St. Bridget of 
Sweden had the satisfaction of seeing her prophecies 
approved of by the Council of Basle ; they were trans- 
lated subsequently into almost every living language, 
and are still held in high esteem by thousands in every 
part of Europe. The most prominent name among 
English prophets is probably that of Archbishop Usher, 
who predicted Cromwell's fate, and many events in 
England and Ireland, the result, no doubt, -of great 
sagacity and a remarkable power of combination, but 
exceeding in many instances the ordinary measure of 
human wisdom. An entirely different prophet was 
Eice Evans (Jortin, " Rem. on Eccles. Hist.," p. 377), 
who, fixing his eye upon the hollow of his hand, saw 
there images of Lord Fairfax, Cromwell, and four other 
crowned heads appearing one after another ; thus, it is 
said, he predicted the Protectorate and the reign of the 
four sovereigns of the house of Stuart. Jane Leade, a 
most extraordinary and mysterious person, founded in 
1697, when she had reached the age of seventy-four, her 
so-called Philadelphian Society, a prominent member 
of which was the famous Pordage, formerly a minister 
and then a physician. This very vain woman main- 


tained that she was inspired in the same manner as 
St. John in Patmos, and that she was compelled by the 
power of the Holy Spirit to foretell the future. In 
spite of her erroneous announcement of the near Mil- 
lennium, she foretold many minor events with great 
accuracy, and was highly esteemed as a prophet. Dr. 
Pordage had mainly visions of the future world, which 
were all characterized by a great purity of heart and 
wildness of imagination. Swedenborg also had many 
prophetic visions, but their fulfillment belongs ex- 
clusively to future life, and their genuineness, firmly 
believed by the numerous and enlightened members of 
the New Church, cannot be proved to others in this 

One of the most remarkable cases of modern prophe- 
sying which has been officially recorded, is connected 
with the death of Pope Ganganelli. The latter heard 
that a number of persons in various parts of Italy had 
predicted that he would soon end his life by a violent 
death. He attached sufficient importance to these 
reports to hand the matter over to a special commission 
previously appointed to examine grave charges which 
had been brought against the Jesuits, perhaps suspect- 
ing that the Order of Jesus was not unconnected with 
those predictions. Among the persons who were there- 
upon arrested was a simple, ignorant peasant-girl, 
Beatrice Rensi, who told the gendarme very calmly: 
" Ganganelli has me arrested, Braschi will set me free," 
implying that the latter would be the next pope. The 


priest at Valentano, who was arrested on the same day 
(12th of May, 1774), exclaimed quite joyously: "What 
happens to me now has been predicted three times 
already ; take these papers and see what my daughter 
(the Rensi) has foretold." Upon examination it ap- 
pears that the girl had fixed the pope's day upon the 
day of equinoxes, in the month of September; she an- 
nounced that he would proclaim a year of absolution, 
but not live to see it ; that none of the faithful would 
kiss his foot, nor would they take him, as usual, to the 
Church of St. Peter. At the same time she spoke of a 
fierce inward struggle through which the Holy Father 
would have to pass before his death. Soon after these 
predictions were made officially known to the pope, the 
bull against the order of Jesuits was laid before him ; 
the immense importance of such a decree, and the 
evident dangers with which it was fraught, caused him 
great concern, and when he one night rose from his 
bed to affix his signature, and, frightened by some con- 
siderations, threw away the pen only to take it up at 
last and sign the paper, he suddenly recalled the pro- 
phecy of the peasant-girl. He drove at once to a great 
prelate in Rome, who had formerly been the girl's con- 
fessor, and inquired of him about her character ; the 
priest testified to her purity, her unimpeached honesty, 
and her simplicity, adding that in his opinion she was 
evidently favored by heaven with special and very ex- 
traordinary powers. Ganganelli was made furious by 
this suggestion, and insisted upon it that his commis- 


sion should declare all these predictions wicked lies, the 
inspirations of the Devil, and condemn the sixty-two 
persons who had been arrested to pay the extreme pen- 
alty in the Castle of St. Angelo on the 1st of October. 
In the meantime, however, his health began to suffer, 
and his mind was more and more deeply affected. 
Beatrice Eensi had been imprisoned in a convent at 
Montefiascane ; on the 22d of September she told the 
prioress that prayers might be held for the soul of the 
Holy Father; the latter informed the bishop of the 
place, and soon the whole town was in an uproar. Late 
in the afternoon couriers brought the news that Gan- 
ganelli had suddenly died at eight o'clock in the morn- 
ing ; the body began to putrefy so promptly that the 
usual ceremonies of kissing the pope's feet and the 
transfer to St. Peter's became impossible ! The most 
curious effects of the girl's predictions appeared, how- 
ever, when the Conclave was held to elect a successor. 
Many Cardinals were extremely anxious that Braschi 
should not be elected, lest this should be interpreted as 
a confirmation of the prediction, and hence as the work 
of the Evil One ; others again looked upon the girl's 
words as an indication from on high ; they carried the 
day. Braschi was really chosen, and ascended the 
throne as Pius VI. The commission, however, con- 
tinued the work of investigation, and finally acquitted 
the Jesuits of the charge of collusion ; Beatrice Eensi's 
predictions were declared to be supernatural, but sug- 
gested by the Father of Lies, the accused were all set 


free. The Bishop of Montefiascone, Maury, reported 
officially in 1804 that the girl had received a pension 
from Rome until the French invasion, then she left the 
convent in which she had peacefully and quietly lived 
so long, and was not heard of again. 

The famous predictions of Jacques Cazotte, a man of 
high literary renown and the greatest respectability, 
were witnessed by persons of unimpeachable character 
and have been repeatedly mentioned as authentic by em- 
inent writers. Laharpe — not the tutor of the Russian 
Emperor Alexander — reports them fully in his (Euvres 
clioisies, etc. (i. p. 62) ; so do Boulard, in his Encycl. des 
gens du Monde, and William Burt, who was present 
when they were made, in his " Observations on the Cu- 
riosities of Nature." It is well known that Cazotte had 
joined the sect of Martinists, and among these enthusi- 
asts increased his natural sensitiveness and his religions 
fervor. With a mind thus predisposed to receive strong 
impressions from outside, and filled with fearful appre- 
hensions of the future, it was no wonder that he should 
fall suddenly into a trance and thus be enabled by ex- 
traordinary magical influences to predict the horrors of 
the Revolution, the sad fate of the king and the queen, 
and his own tragic end. 

The report of his predictions as made by Jean de La- 
harpe, who only died in 1823, and with his well-estab- 
lished character and high social standing vouched for 
the genuineness of his experience, is substantially as 
follows :- He had been invited, in 1788, to meet at the 


palace of the Duchess de Gramont some of the most 
remarkable personages of the day, and found himself 
seated by the side of Malesherbes. He noticed at a cor- 
ner of the table Cazotte, apparently in a deep fit of 
musing, from which he was only roused by the frequent 
toasts, in which he was forced to join. When at last the 
guests seemed to be overflowing with fervent praises of 
modern philosophy and its brilliant victory over old re- 
ligious superstitions, Cazotte suddenly rose and in a 
solemn tone of voice and with features agitated with 
deep emotion said to them : " Gentlemen, you may rejoice, 
for you will all see that great and imposing revolution, 
which you so much desire. You, M. Condorcet, will 
expire lying on the floor of a subterranean prison. 
Yon, M. N., will die of poison ; you, M. N"., will perish 
by the executioner's hand on the scaffold." They cried 
out : " Who on earth has made you think of prisons, 
poison, and the executioner ? What have these things 
to do with philosophy and the reign of reason, which 
we anticipate and on which you but just now congratu- 
lated us ? " " That is exactly what I say," replied Ca- 
zotte, " in the name of philosophy, of reason, of human- 
ity, and of freedom, all these things will be done, which 
I have foretold, and they will happen precisely when 
reason alone will reign and have its temples." " Cer- 
tainly," replied Chamfort, " you will not be one of the 
priests." " Not I," answered the latter, " but you, M. 
de Chamfort, will be one of them and deserve to 
be one ; you will cut your veins in twenty-two places 


with your razor, and yet die only several months after 
that desperate operation. You, M. Vicque d'Azyr, 
will not open your veins, because the gout in your Lands 
will prevent it, but you will get another person to open 
tbem six times for you the same day, and you will 
die in the night succeeding. You, M. Nicolai, will 
die on the scaffold, and you, M. Bailly, and you, 
M. Malesherbes." " God be thanked/' exclaimed M. 
Eicher, u it seems M. Cazotte only deals with members of 
the Academy." But Cazotte replied instantly : " You also, 
M. Eicher, will die on the scaffold, and they who sen- 
tence you, and others like you, will be nevertheless 
philosophers." " And when is all this going to happen ? " 
asked several guests. " Within at most six years from 
to-day," was the reply. Laharpe now asked: "And 
about me you say nothing, Cazotte ? " The latter re- 
plied : " In you, sir, a great miracle will be done ; you 
will be converted and become a good Christian." These 
words relieved the company, and all broke out into 
merry laughter. Now the Duchess of Gramont also 
took courage, and said: "We women are fortunately 
better off than men, revolutions do not mind us." 
" Your sex, ladies," answered Cazotte, " will not protect 
you this time, and however careful you may be not to be 
mixed up with politics, you will be treated exactly like 
the men. You also, Duchess, with many ladies before 
and after you, will have to mount the scaffold, and more 
than that, they will carry you there on the hangman's 
cart, with your hands bound behind your back." The 


duchess, perhaps looking upon the whole as a jest, said, 
smiling : " Well, I think I shall at least have a coach 
lined with black." "No, no," replied Cazotte, "the 
hangman's cart will be your last carriage, and even 
greater ladies than you will have to ride in it." " Surely 
not princesses of the royal blood ? " asked the duchess. 
" Still greater ones," answered Cazotte. " But they will 
not deny us a confessor ? " she continued. " Yes," re- 
plied the other, " only the greatest of all who will be 
executed will have one." "But what will become of 
you, M. Cazotte ? " asked the guests, who began at last 
to feel thoroughly uncomfortable. " My fate," was the 
reply, "will be the fate of the man who called out, 
Woe ! over Jerusalem, before the last siege, and Woe ! 
over himself, while a stone, thrown by the enemy, ended 
his life." With these words Cazotte bowed and with- 
drew from the room. However much of the details may 
have been subsequently added to the prediction, the fact 
of such a prophecy has never yet been impugned, and 
William Burt, who was a witness of the scene, emphati- 
cally endorses the account. 

Even the stern Calvinists have had their religious 
prophets, among whom Du Serre is probably the most 
interesting. He established himself in 1686 in the 
Dauphine, but extended his operations soon into the 
Cevennes, and thus prepared the great uprising of Prot- 
estants there in 1688, which led to fearful war and 
general devastation. Special gifts of prophecy were ac- 
corded to a few generally uneducated persons; but in 


these they appeared very strikingly, so that, for instance, 
many young girls belonging to the lowest classes of 
society, and entirely unlettered, were not only able to 
foretell coming events, but also to preach with great 
eloquence and to interpret Holy Writ. These phenomena 
became numerous enough to induce the camisards, as 
the rebellious Protestants of the Cevennes were called, 
finally to form a regular system of inspiration. They 
spoke of four degrees of ecstasis : the first indication, the 
inspiring breath, the prediction, and the gifts ; the last 
was the highest. The spirit of prophecy could be com- 
municated by an inspired person to others ; this was 
generally done by a kiss. Even children of three and 
four years were enabled to foretell the future, and per- 
severed, although they were often severely punished by 
their parents, whom the authorities held responsible 
for their misconduct, as it was called. (TIiMtre Sacre 
des Cevennes, p. 66.) 

Nor has this gift of prophesying been noticed only 
in men of our own faith and our race. 

An author whose trustworthiness cannot be doubted 
for a moment, Jones Forbes, gives in his " Oriental Me- 
moirs " (Londou, 1803), an instance of the prophesying 
power of East Indian magicians, which is as well au- 
thenticated as remarkable. A Mr. Hodges had acci- 
dentally made the acquaintance of a young Brahmin, 
who, although unknown to the English residents, was 
famous among the natives for his great gifts. They 
became fast friends, and the Indian never ceased to 


urge Hodges to remain strictly in the path of duty, as 
by so doing he was sure to reach the highest honors. 
In order to enforce his adyice he predicted that he 
would rise from the post he then occupied as Kesident 
in Bombay to higher places, till he would finally be ap- 
pointed governor. The prediction was often discussed 
among Hodges' friends, and when fortune favored him 
and he really obtained unusually rapid preferment, he 
began to rely more than ever on the Indian's predic- 
tion. But suddenly a severe blow shattered all his 
hopes. A rival of his, Spencer, was appointed governor, 
and Hodges, very indignant at what he considered an 
act of unbearable injustice, wrote a sharp and disre- 
spectful letter to the Governor and Council of the Com- 
pany. The result was his dismissal from the service 
and the order to return to Europe. Before embarking 
he sent once more for his friend, who was then living at 
one of the sacred places, and when he came informed 
him of the sad turn in his affairs and reproached him 
with his false predictions. The Indian, however, was 
in no way disconcerted, but assured Hodges that al- 
though his adversary had put his foot on the threshold, 
he would never enter the palace, but that he, Hodges, 
would, in spite of appearances, most surely reach the 
high post which he had promised him years ago. These 
assurances produced no great effect, and Hodges was on 
the point of going on board the ship that was to carry 
him to Europe, when another vessel sailed into the har- 
bor, having accomplished the voyage out in a most unu- 


sually short time, and brought new orders from England. 
The Court of Directors had disapproved of Spencer's 
conduct as Governor of Bengal, revoked his appoint- 
ment, dismissed him from service, and ordered Hodges 
to be installed as Governor of Bombay ! From that day 
the Brahmin obtained daily more influence over the 
mind of his English friend, and the latter undertook 
nothing without having first consulted the strangely 
gifted native. It became, however, soon a matter of 
general remark, that the Brahmin could never be per- 
suaded to refer in his predictions to the time beyond 
the year 1771, as he had never promised Hodges another 
post of honor than that which he now occupied. The 
explanation of his silence came but too soon, for in the 
night of the 22d of February, 1772, Hodges died sud- 
denly, and thus ended his brilliant career, verifying his 
friend's prophecy in every detail. 


The relations in which some men stand to Nature 
are sometimes so close as to enable them to make dis- 
coveries which are impossible to others. This is, for 
instance, the case with persons who feel the presence of 
waters or of metals. The former have, from time im- 
memorial, generally used a wand, the so-called divin- 
ing rod, which, according to Pliny, was already known 
to the ancient Etruscans as a means for the discovery 
of hidden springs. An Italian author, Amoretti, who 
has given special attention to this subject, states that 


at least every fifth man is susceptible to the influence 
of water and metals, but this is evidently an over- 
estimate. In recent times many persons have been 
known to possess this gift of discovering hidden springs 
or subterranean masses of water, and these have but 
rarely employed an instrument. Catharine Beutler, 
of Thurgovia, in Switzerland, and Anna Maria Brugger 
of the same place, were both so seriously affected by the 
presence of water that they fell into violent nervous 
excitement when they happened to cross places beneath 
which larger quantities were concealed, and became 
perfectly exhausted. In France a class of men, called 
sourciers, have for ages possessed this instinctive power 
of perceiving the presence of water, and others, like the 
famous Abbe Paramelle, have cultivated the natural 
gift till they were finally enabled, by a mere cursory 
examination of a landscape, to ascertain whether large 
masses of water were hidden anywhere, and to indicate 
the precise spots where they might be found. 

Why water and metals should almost always go hand 
in hand in connection with this peculiar gift, is not 
quite clear ; but the staff of Hermes, having probably 
the form of the divining rod, was always represented 
as giving the command over the treasures of the earth, 
and the Orphic Hymn (v. 527) calls it, hence, the 
golden rod, producing wealth and happiness. On the 
other hand, the Aqua Virgo, the nymph of springs, had 
also a divining rod in her hand, and ISTuma, inspired by 
a water nymph, established the worship of waters in 


connection with that of the dead. For here, also, 
riches and death seem to have entered into a strange 
alliance. Del Eio, in his Disquisitiones magicce, men- 
tions thus the Zahuri of Spain, the lynx-eyed, as he 
translates the name, who were able on Wednesdays and 
Saturdays to discover all the veins of metals or of water 
beneath the surface, all hidden treasures, and corpses 
in their coffins. There is at least one instance re- 
corded where a person possessed the power to see even 
more than the Zahuris. This was a Portuguese lady, 
Pedegache, who first attracted attention by being able 
to discover subterranean springs and their connections, 
a gift which brought her great honors after she had in- 
formed the king of all the various supplies of water 
which were hidden near a palace which he was about 
to build. Shafts were sunk according to her directions, 
and not only water was found, but also the various 
soils and stones which she had foretold would have to 
be pierced. She also seems to have cultivated her 
talent, for we hear of her next being able to discover 
treasures, even valuable antique statues, in the interior 
of houses, and finally she reached such a degree of in- 
tuition, that she saw the inner parts of the human 
body, and pointed out their diseases and defects. 

Savoy seems to be a specially favorable region for the 
development of this peculiar gift, for if in Cornwall 
one out of every forty men is believed to possess it, in 
Savoy the divining rod is in the hands of nearly every 
one. But what marks the talent in this case as pecu- 



liar is that it is by no means limited to the discovery 
of water, but extends to other things likewise. A very 
wealthy family, called Collomb, living in Cessens, 
boasted of more than one member who was able, by the 
aid of the rod and with bandaged eyes, to discover not 
only pieces of money, but even needles, evidently cases 
of personal susceptibility to the presence of metals, 
aided by electric currents. Once, at least, the gift was 
made useful. A number of bags filled with wheat had 
"been stolen from a neighboring house, and the police 
were unable to discover the hiding-place. At the re- 
quest of his friends one of the Collombs undertook the 
search with the aid of the divining rod; he soon found 
the window through which the bags had been handed 
out ; he then followed the track along the banks of the 
river Oheran, and asserted that the thief had crossed to 
the other side. At that time nothing more was dis- 
covered; but soon afterwards a miller living across the 
river was suspected, the bags were found, and the 
culprit sent to the galleys. {Revue Savoisietme, April 15, 
1852.) Dr. Mayo mentions, mainly upon the authority 
of George Fairholm, a number of instances in which 
persons belonging to all clases of society have exhibited 
the same gift, but ascribes its efficacy to the presence of 
currents of Od. 

The divining rod, originally a twig of willow or hazel, 
is often made of metal, and the impression prevails that 
in such cases an electric current, arising from the sub- 
terranean water or metals, enters the diviner's body by 


the feet, passes through him, and finally affects the two 
branches of the rod, which represent opposite poles. It 
is certain that when the electric current is interrupted, 
the power of the divining rod is suspended. Dr. Mayo 
tells us of a lady of his acquaintance in Southampton, 
who at his request used a divining rod of copper and 
iron wire, made after the fashion of the usual hazel 
rod; it answered the purpose fully, but when the ends 
touched by her hands were covered with sealing-wax, 
it became useless ; as soon as she put her fingers in con- 
tact with the unprotected wire, the power instantly re- 
turned. This certainly seemed to be strong evidence of 
the existence of an electric current. Nevertheless, many 
believe that the divining rod acts in all cases sim- 
ply as an extension of the arms, and thus serves to make 
the vibrations of the muscles more distinct. It is by 
this theory they explain the fact which has caused serious 
trouble to careful inquirers like Count Tristan and Dr. 
Mayo, that the gift of using the divining rod varies 
with the state of health in the individuals in whom it 
has been discovered. 


" Thereupon St. Theophilus made a pact with, the Devil." — 
Acta, S. S., 4 February. 

Makt forms of insanity, it is well known, are accom- 
panied by the fixed idea that the sufferer is continually 
associated with another being, a friend or an enemy, a 
man, an animal, or a mere shadow. Somnambulists, 
also, not unfrequently fancy that they obtain their ex- 
ceptional knowledge of hidden things, not by intuition 
or instinct, but through the agency of a medium, whom 
they look upon as an angel or a demon. There is, 
however, a third class of cases, far more formidable than 
either of those mentioned, in which the mind is dis- 
turbed, and magic phenomena are produced by an 
agency apparently entirely independent of the patient 
himself. Such are possession, vampirism and zoanthro- 
py — three frightful forms of human suffering, which are 
fortunately very rare, being limited to certain localities 
in space, to a few short periods in time, and to men of 
the lowest grade only. 

Possession is that appalling state of mind which 
makes the patient believe that he is in the power of a 
foreign evil being, which has for the time full control 
over his body. This power it abuses by plaguing the 


body in every imaginable way, by distorting the fea- 
tures till they assume a scornful, diabolical expression, 
and above all, by causing the sufferer to give utterance 
to cynical remarks and horrible blasphemy. All these 
phenomena are based upon the division of the patient's 
individuality, which cannot be remedied by any effort of 
his own, and which makes him look upon the evil prin- 
ciple in his nature as something outside of himself, and 
no longer under his control. The phenomena which 
accompany possession are too fearful in their nature, 
and yet at the same time too exceptional to keep us al- 
together and easily from believing, as many thought- 
ful and even pious men have thought, that in these 
cases a real demon takes possession of the afflicted. The 
bitter hatred against religion, which is always 
a symptom of possession, would naturally tend to en- 
force such a presumption. The possessed know not only 
their own sins, but also those of the bystanders, and use 
this knowledge with unsparing bitterness and cruel 
scorn ; at the same time they feel the superiority of 
others with whom they may come in contact, as the de- 
moniacs of the Bible never failed to recognize in Christ 
the Son of God. From the numerous cases of modern 
possession which have been investigated, we derive the 
following information as to its real nature. Possession 
is invariably a kind of insanity, which is accompanied 
by exceptional powers, producing magic phenomena ; 
it is also invariably preceded by some grave disorder or 
dangerous disease. The former may be of purely men- 


tal nature, for violent coercion of will, sudden and sub- 
versive nervous shocks or long-continued enforcement 
of a hateful mode of life, are apt to produce the sad 
effect. Hence its frequent occurrence in monasteries, 
orphan asylums and similar institutions, where this 
kind of insanity is, moreover, liable to become epidemic. 
At other times the cause is a trivial one, and then a 
peculiar .predisposition must be presumed which only 
needed a decisive act to bring the disturbed mind to its 
extremity. But possession is not merely an affection of 
the mind, it is also always a disease of the body, which 
in the bewildered and disordered imagination of the 
patient becomes personified in the shape of a demon ; 
hence the graver the disease, the fiercer the demon. 
As sickness worries the patient, robs him of his appe- 
tite and makes all he used to like distasteful to him, so 
the demon also suffers no enjoyment; interferes with 
every pleasure, and consistently rages especially against 
religion, which alone could give consolation in such 
cases. The outbursts of rage in demoniacs, when efforts 
are made to exorcise or convert them, even although 
nothing but prayers may be attempted, is ascribed to an 
instinctive repugnance of the sufferers for means which 
they feel to be utterly inappropriate to their case — very 
much as if men, mad with hunger, were to be fed with 
moral axioms. Possession is finally sometimes limited 
to parts of the body; as when a demoniac is spoken of 
who was dumb (Matt. ix. 32), and another who was 
blind and dumb (Matt. xii. 22). In other cases the 


body is endowed with supernatural strength, and four 
or five powerful men have been known to be scarcely 
able to hold a frail girl of fifteen. 

A peculiar feature in possession is, that during the 
most violent attacks of apparent fury, accompanied by 
hideous cries and frightful contortions, the pulse is not 
quickened and the physical strength of the patient does 
not seem in the least diminished. The disease, how- 
ever, naturally affects his whole system and exhausts it 
in time. The possessed man, who unlike somnambu- 
lists retains, during the paroxysms, full control over all 
his senses, never speaks of the demon that possesses 
him, but the demon speaks of him as of a third person, 
and at the same time of himself, a feature which power- 
fully contributes to the popular belief of actual demons 
dwelling in these unfortunate persons. And yet, after 
the paroxysm is over, the poor sufferer knows nothing 
of the horrible things he has done, and of the fearful 
words he has uttered ; if he is told what has occurred, 
he is terribly shocked, and bitterly repents his mis- 

The paroxysms are twofold : in the body they appear 
as violent convulsions accompanied by a contraction of 
the throat and the globulus hystericus ; saliva forms in 
abundance, black, coal-like lumps are thrown up and 
the breath is hot and ill-smelling. In this mental form 
they appear as a raging of the demon against the pos- 
sessed and against religion — in fact a struggle of the 
patient with himself and his former convictions. Oc- 


casionally the good principle within him assumes, in 
contradistinction to the demon who personifies the evil 
principle, the form of a guardian angel, who comforts 
the poor sufferer as he is tossed to and fro like a ship in 
a tempest, and promises him assistance. ISTor is the de- 
mon always alone ; there may be, as Holy Writ teaches, 
seven, thousands, or their name may be "Legions," for 
these visionary beings are only so many representatives 
of certain evil principles at work in the soul of the pos- 
sessed. Some patients have been enabled to trace this 
connection and to discover that each symptom of their 
disease was thus personified by a separate demon to 
whom in their paroxysms they ascribed the infliction : 
Lucifer caused pricking and stinging pains, Anzian 
tearing and scratching, Junian convulsions of limbs, 
etc. The fearful suffering which demoniacs have to un- 
dergo and the still more harassing conflicts in their 
soul drive them frequently to despair and engender 
thoughts of suicide. During these paroxysms the 
struggle between light and darkness, heaven and hell, 
eternal bliss and damnation, angel and devil, is carried 
on with such energy and dramatic truthfulness that 
those who witness it are apt to become deeply excited 
and often suffer not a little from the violent transitions 
from sympathy to horror and from heartfelt pity to un- 
speakable disgust. As soon as the dualism in the soul 
relaxes, and with it the disease becomes milder, the de- 
mon also grows more quiet; a happy moment of rest 
ensues, which the exorciser .calls the period of conver- 


sion ; and when this has once taken place the patient is 
no longer able to distinguish the demon as apart from 
himself, the contradistinction exists no more, and he is 
reconciled to his true self. 

There is no instance known in which an intelligent, 
well-educated person has become possessed ; the ter- 
rible misfortune falls exclusively upon rude and coarse 
natures, a fact which explains the coarseness and rude- 
ness of so-called demons. Medicinal remedies are sel- 
dom of much ayail, as the disease has already reached 
a stage in which the mind is at least as much affected 
as the body. Exorcising has frequently been success- 
ful, bub only indirectly, through the firm faith which 
the sufferer still holds in his innermost heart. The 
great dogma that Christ has come into this world to 
destroy the works of the Eyil One, has probably been in- 
culcated into his mind from childhood up, and can now 
begin once more, after long obscuration, to exercise its 
supreme power. The cure depends, however, not only on 
the presence of such faith, but rather on the supremacy 
which the idea of Christ's power gains over the idea of 
the devil's power. Hence the symptoms of possession 
not unfrequently cease under a fervent invocation of 
the Saviour, if the exorciser is able by his superior 
energy of will to create in the patient a firm faith in 
the power of the holy name. This expulsion of the 
demon is, of course, nothing more than the abandon- 
ment of the struggle by the evil principle in the suf- 
ferer's soul, by which the good impulses become once 


more dominant, and a healthy, natural state of mind 
and body is restored. 

It must, however, not be overlooked that the views 
of possession have changed essentially in different na- 
tions and ages. At the time of Christ's coming the 
belief in actual possession, the dwelling of real demons 
in the body of human beings, was universal, and to this 
belief the language of Holy Writ naturally adapts its 
records of miracles. 

The Kabbalah as well as the Talmud contain full 
accounts of a kingdom of hell, opposed to the heavenly 
kingdom, with Smaal as head of all satanim or evil 
spirits, defying Jehovah. The latter are allowed to 
dwell upon earth side by side with the sons of Adam, 
and occasionally to possess them and to live in their 
souls as in a home of their own. In other cases it was 
the spirit of a deceased person which, condemned for 
sins committed during life to wander about as a demon, 
received permission to enter the soul of a living being. 
The New Testament mentions at least seven cases of 
possession, from the woman whose suffering was simply 
ascribed to the Devil's agency, to Mary Magdalene who 
was relieved of seven demons, and the Gadarene, who 
had a " legion " of devils. The Catholic Church also 
has always taught the existence of evil spirits; doctrinal 
works, however, mention only one, Diabolus or Sa- 
tanas. Although the Church adheres consistently to 
the theory of actual possession, it teaches that demons 
cannot wholly take possession of a human soul, but 


only force it to obedience or accept voluntary submis- 
sion. Hence their power over the body also never 
becomes absolute, but is always shared with the soul 
of the sufferer. Among Protestants many orthodox 
believers look upon possession as a mere delusion prac- 
tised by the Evil One ; others admit its existence, but 
attribute it to the souls of deceased persons and not 
to demons. This was the doctrine of the ancient 
Greeks, who, like the Eomans, seem to have known but 
a few rare cases of possession, which they ascribed to 
departed spirits. Thus Philostratus, in his life of Apol- 
lonius (1. iii. ch. 38), mentions a young man who was 
for two years possessed by a demon pretending to be 
the spirit of a soldier killed in battle. Nearly all 
nations on earth have records of possession. Thus 
cases occurring in China and Japan and in the Indies 
are attributed to the influence of certain deities, as the 
Hindoos know neither a hell nor a devil. Early trav- 
elers, like Blom and Eochefort, report, in like manner, 
that in some of the islands of the Caribbean Sea evil 
spirits are believed to obtain at times possession of 
women and then to enable them to foretell the future, 
According to Ellis the inhabitants of the Sandwich 
Islands were much plagued by evil spirits dwelling in 
some of their brethren. 

It was only towards the latter part of the last century 
that possession Avas found to be nothing more than a 
peculiar disease arising from the combination of an 
unsound mind with an unsound body. This discovery 


was first made by Farmer in England, and by Semler 
in Germany; since that time the symptoms of the 
character of the affection have been very generally 
studied and thoroughly investigated. 

Thus it has been discovered that similar phenomena 
are occasionally observed in typhus and nervous fevers. 
First the patients fancy they feel somebody breathing 
by their side, or blowing cold air upon their head; after 
long unconsciousness they are apt to imagine that they 
are double, and have been known to hesitate where to 
carry the spoon containing their medicine. In still 
more marked cases, persons who have suffered from the 
effects of some great calamity, and have thus been 
brought to the verge of the grave, have even acted two 
different individualities, of which one was pious and 
the other impious, or one speaking the patient's native 
tongue and the other a foreign language. As they re- 
covered and as the return of health brought back bodily 
and mental strength, this dualism also ceased to be ex- 
hibited during the paroxysm, and finally disappeared 

Possession is generally announced some time before- 
hand by premonitory symptoms, but the first cause is 
not always easily ascertained. When we are told that 
certain cases have originated in a hastily spoken word, 
a fierce curse or an outburst of passion, we only learn 
tli us what was the first occasion on which the malady 
has been noticed, but not what was the first cause. 
This lies almost invariably in moral corruption; the 

possession. 349 

lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of 
the heart are by far the most frequent sources of the 
frightful disease. Occasionally a very great and sudden 
grief, like the unexpected death of a beloved person, or 
too great familiarity with evil thoughts in books or in 
conversation, produce the same effect — in fact all the 
various causes which result in insanity may produce 
also possession. Nor must serious bodily injuries be 
forgotten. A student of the University of Halle con- 
sidered himself possessed, and the case puzzled expe- 
rienced physicians for some time, till it was ascertained 
that he had received a violent blow upon the head, 
which required trepanning. Before the operation could 
be undertaken, however, matter began to ooze out from 
the ear, and he suddenly was relieved from the parox- 
ysms and all thoughts of possession. Convents are 
naturally very frequently scenes of possession — the in- 
mates are either troubled by bitter remorse for sins 
which have led them to seek refuge in a holy place, 
where they cannot find peace, or they succumb to the 
rigor of severe discipline and are unable to endure the 
constant privation of food or sleep. The sin against 
the Holy Ghost, which unfortunate persons have im- 
puted to themselves, has produced many a case of pos- 
session. When the mind is thus predisposed by great 
anguish of soul or a long-continued inward struggle, 
the most trifling incident suffices in determining the 
outbreak of the disease. One patient became possessed 
because his wife told him to go to the Devil, and another 


because lie had in jest exorcised a demon in a playmate; 
now a man curses himself in a moment of passion, and 
then a boy drinks hastily a glass of cold water when 
overheated, and both fall victims to the disease. 

The magic phenomena accompanying possession are 
by far the most remarkable within the whole range of 
modern magic, but a number of the more striking are 
frequently identical with those seen in religious ecsta- 
sy. Demoniacs also exhibit the traces of injuries in- 
flicted by demons, as saints show the stigmas, and their 
wounds heal as little as those of stigmatized persons. 
They share in like manner with religious enthusiasts 
paroxysms during which they remain suspended in the 
air, fly up to the ceiling or are carried to great distances 
without touching the ground. The strength of the 
possessed is amazing. A monk, known in ecclesiastical 
history as Brother Rafael of Rimini, could not be 
bound by any ropes or chains ; as soon as he was left 
alone he broke the strongest fetters, raced up the roof 
of the church, ran along the topmost ridge, and was 
often found sitting on the great bell, to which no one 
else had ever been able to gain access. At last the de- 
mons led him to the top of the steeple itself and were 
about to hurl him down, as he said ; the abbot and his 
monks and an immense crowd of people assembled be- 
low, and besought him to invoke the aid of their pa- 
tron saint so as to save body and soul. It does not ap- 
pear by what miraculous influence a change was 
wrought in the poor man ; but he did raise his voice, 


which had not been heard to address a saint for many 
years, and instantly his mind returned, he found his 
way down to the church and was cured. 

The most frequent symptom in possession is a strong 
antipathy against everything connected with religion ; 
the holy names of God and Christ, the presence of 
priests, the singing of hymns and the reciting of 
prayers, excite intense pain, and provoke outbursts of 
fury. Even young children manifest this aversion, es- 
pecially when they have previously been forced to attend 
church, and to engage in devotional exercises against 
their inclination. Hence it is, also, that paroxysms are 
most frequent at the regular hours of divine service, or 
break forth suddenly at the sight of a procession or the 
hearing of ringing bells. The symptom itself arises 
naturally from the imaginary conflict between a good 
and an evil principle, the latter being continually in 
arms against anything that threatens to crush its own 
power. All the other symptoms of this fearful disease 
occur, also, in St. Vitus' dance, in catalepsy, and even in 
ordinary trances ; only they appear more marked, and 
make a greater impression upon bystanders, because 
they are apparently caused by a foreign agent, the pos- 
sessing demon, and not by the patient himself. As the 
digestive organs are in all such cases sympathetically 
excited, and seriously affected, a desire for unnatural 
food is very frequent ; the coarsest victuals are preferred; 
unwholesome, and even injurious substances are eagerly 
devoured; and medicines as well as strengthening food 


are vehemently rejected. The sufferer is apt to interpret 
this as a new plague, his demon refusing him his legiti- 
mate sustenance, and compelling him to feed like an 

One of the most remarkable historical cases of appar- 
ent possession accompanied by magic phenomena, was 
that of Mirabeau's grandmother. Married when quite 
young to the old marquis, she tried after his death to 
protect herself against the temptations of the world, 
and of her own heart, by ascetic devotion. In her 
eighty-third year, she was attacked by gout which 
affected her brain, and she became insane, in a manner 
which according to the views of her days was called 
possession. It was found necessary to shut her up in a 
bare room with a pallet of straw, where no one dared 
enter but her valet, a man seventy years old, with whom 
she had fallen in love! For, strange as it may appear, 
her fearful affliction restored to her the charms of 
youth ; she, who had been reduced to a skeleton by old 
age and unceasing devotion, suddenly regained the 
plumpness of her early years, her complexion became 
fair and rosy, her eyes bright and even, her hair began 
to grow out once more. But, alas ! her tongue, also, 
bad changed ; once afraid to utter a word that could be 
misinterpreted, the unruly member now sent forth 
speeches of incredible licentiousness, and overwhelmed 
the old servant with terms of endearment and coarse 
allusions. At the- same time the retired ascetic became 
a violent blasphemer, and would allow no one to enter 


her chamber who had not first denied God, threatening 
to kill him with her own hands if he refused. For four 
long years the unfortunate lady endured her fearful 
affliction, till death relieyed her of her sufferings — hut 
the student of history traces to her more than one of 
the startling features in the character of her grandson, 
the Mirabeau of the Kevolution. (Biilau, Geh. Gesch., 

Eelief is generally possible only when a powerful 
hold has been obtained upon the mind of the patient; 
after that appropriate remedies may be applied, and the 
body will be restored to its natural healthy condition. 
In a few cases remarkable incidents haye produced a 
cure, such as the sudden clanking of chains, or a 
peculiarly fervent and impressive prayer. Even a 
night's sound sleep, induced by utter exhaustion, has 
had the happiest effect. 

It seems as if, the train of thoughts once forcibly in- 
terrupted, a return to reason and an abandonment of 
fixed ideas become possible. Even a specially violent 
paroxysm may be salutary ; probably by means of the 
severe struggle and extreme excitement which it is apt 
to produce. Many patients, under such circumstances, 
fall prostrate on the ground, losing their consciousness, 
and awake after a while as from a dream, without being 
able to remember what has happened. In other cases 
the hallucination continues to the last moment, and 
leads the patient to imagine that the demon leaves 
him in the shape of a black shadow, a bird, or an insect. 


Such recoveries are almost invariably accompanied by 
violent efforts to discard foreign matters, which have 
been lodged in the system, and largely contributed to 
produce the disease. Exorcism has, of course, no direct 
effect : even when the power to " cast out devils " (Mark 
xvi. 17) is given, it is not said by what means the 
casting out is to be accomplished, except that it must 
be done in the Saviour's name. The formalities, care- 
fully regulated and prescribed by many decrees of the 
Church since the third century, do no good except so 
far as they re-awaken faith, impart hope, and free the 
mind from distressing doubts. Ignatius Loyola never 
cured possessed persons otherwise than by prayer. As 
early as the sixteenth century a case is recorded clearly 
illustrating the true nature of exorcism. A demon 
was, after many fruitless attempts, at last driven out by 
a particle of the cross of our Saviour, but in departing 
he declared in a loud voice that he knew full well the 
nature of the piece of wood ; it was cut from a gallows 
and not from the true cross, nevertheless he was forced 
to go because the exorcist willed it so, and the patient 
believed in his power. The same rule applies to cures 
achieved by relics ; not that these had any effect, but in 
the long-cherished faith of the possessed, that they 
might and could wield such power over evil spirits. 

The main point is here also the energy of will in the 
exorciser, and that this special gift is by no means con- 
fined to men was strikingly illustrated by a famous 
lady, the wife of a Marquis de la Croix, who was a 


Spanish general and Viceroy of Galicia. In her youth 
a matchless beauty with almost perfect classical fea- 
tures, she retained an imposing carriage and bewitching 
grace throughout a long life, and even in old age com- 
manded the admiration of all who came in contact with 
her, not only by the superiority of her mind but also 
by the beauty of her eyes and the charming expression 
of her features. After the death of her husband she 
had much to endure from neglect in the great world, 
from sickness and from poverty, doubly hard to bear 
because standing in painful contrast to the splendor of 
her former life. The effects of a violent attack of sick- 
ness produced at last a partial disturbance of her mind, 
which showed itself in visions and the power to drive 
demons from the possessed. Her theory was that as 
the sins of men caused their diseases, and as the Devil 
was the cause of all sins, sickness was invariably pro- 
duced by demoniac agency; she distinguished, how- 
ever, between sufferers who had voluntarily given them- 
selves up to sin, and thus to the service of the Devil, 
and those who had unawares fallen into his hands. 
Her practice was simple and safe : she employed nothing 
but fervent prayer and the imposition of hands, which 
she had moistened with holy w r ater or oil. In the 
course of time she found her way to Paris, and there 
met, amid many skeptics, also with countless believers, 
some of whom belonged not only to the highest classes 
of society, but even to the sect of Free-thinkers, then 
prominent in the French capital. Such were Marshal 


Richelieu, Count Schomberg, an intimate of the famous 
circle-meeting at Baron Holbach's house, and even the 
illustrious Buffon. When she was engaged in exorcising, 
her imposing stature, her imperious eye and command- 
ing voice aided her at least as much as her perfect 
faith and striking humility, so that her patients, after a 
short demur, willingly looked upon her as a saint who 
might, if she but chose, perform miracles. With such 
a disposition obedience was no longer difficult, and the 
remarkable lady healed all manners of diseases, from 
modest toothache to rabid madness. Even when she 
was unsuccessful, as frequently happened, she won all 
hearts by her marvelous gentleness and humble piety. 
Thus, when a possessed man was brought to her in the 
presence of an illustrious company, and all her efforts 
and prayers were fruitless, she placed herself bravely 
between the enraged man and her friends whom he 
threatened to attack. He began to foam at the mouth, 
and amid fearful convulsions and dread imprecations, 
broke out into a long series of terrible accusations 
against the poor lady, charging her with all her real 
and a host of imaginary sins, till she could hardly 
stand up any longer. She listened, however, with her 
arms folded over her bosom and her eyes raised to 
heaven, and when the madman at last sank exhausted 
to the ground, she fell upon her knees and said to the 
bystanders: "Gentlemen, you see here a punishment 
ordained by God for the sins of my youth. I deserve 
this humiliation in your presence, and I would endure 

possession". 357 

it before all Paris if I could thus make atonement for 
my misdeeds." (Mem. du Baron de Gleichen, p. 149.) 

One of the most fearful features of possession is its 
tendency to spread like contagion oyer whole commu- 
nities. Many such cases are recorded in history. The 
monks of the Convent of Quercy were thus attacked in 
1491, and suffered, from the oldest to the youngest, 
during four months, incredible afflictions. They ran 
like dogs through the fields, climbed upon trees, imi- 
tated the howling of wild beasts, spoke in unknown 
tongues, and foretold, at the same time, future events. 
(Goerres, iy. II.) In the year 1566 a similar malady 
broke out in the Orphan House at Amsterdam, and 
seventy poor children became possessed. They also 
climbed up the walls and on the roofs, swallowed hairs, 
needles, and pieces of glass and iron, and distorted 
their features and their limbs in a fearful manner. 
What, however, made the greatest impression upon the 
good citizens of the town were the magic phenomena 
connected with their disease. They spoke to the over- 
seer and even to the chief magistrate of their secret 
affairs, made known plots hatched against the Protest- 
ants and foretold events which happened soon after. In 
a convent of nuns at Yssel in the Netherlands, a single 
nun, Maria de Sains, caused one of the most fearful ca- 
lamities among her sisters that has ever been known. 
Naturally a woman of superior mind, but carried away 
by evil passions, she finally succumbed to the struggle 
between the latter and the strict rules of her retreat ; 


she began to accuse herself of horrible crimes and ex- 
cesses. The whole country was amazed, for she had 
passed for a great saint, and now, of a sudden, she con- 
fessed that she had murdered numberless little children, 
disinterred corpses, and carried poor girls to the meet- 
ing of witches. All these misdeeds, which existed only 
in her disordered imagination, she ascribed to the agen- 
cy of a demon, by whom she was possessed, and before 
many weeks had passed, every nun and lay sister in the 
ill-fated convent was possessed in precisely the same 
manner ! 

One of the most recent cases of possession is reported 
by Bishop Laurent of Luxemburg, in a pamphlet on 
the subject. In the year 1843 a woman, thirty-four 
years old, was brought to him who had been possessed 
since her fifteenth year, and who exhibited the remark- 
able phenomenon that in her sound moments she spoke 
no other language but the patois of her native place, 
while in her paroxysms she used Latin, French, and 
German at will. When the good bishop threatened the 
demon, the latter attacked him in return, troubling 
him with nightly visits and suggesting to him sinful 
doubts of the existence of God and the efficacy of 
Christ's sacrifice. This fact shows how easily such 
disturbances of mind can be transferred to others, 
when disease or mental struggles have prepared a way. 
Fortunately the bishop first mastered his own doubts, 
and, thus strengthened, obtained the same mastery 
over the possessed woman. He commanded the demon 


to come out of her, whereupon she fell into convul- 
sions, speaking in a disguised tone of voice ; but after a 
while drew herself up, and now her face was once more 
free from anguish, and " angel-like. " Another bishop, 
who had been requested to exorcise possessed persons in 
Morzine, in the Chablais, was not so successful. At this 
place, in 1837, a little girl, nine years old, in consequence 
of a great fright, fell into a deathlike sleep, which 
returned daily, and lasted about fifteen minutes. A 
month later, another girl, eleven years old, was attacked 
in the same way, and soon the number of afflicted per- 
sons rose to twenty, all girls under twenty years. After a 
while they declared that they were possessed by demons, 
and ran wild through the fields, climbed to the top of 
lofty trees, and fell into violent convulsions. In vain did 
the local priest and his vicar attempt to arrest the evil ; 
the girls laughed them to scorn. When the civil author- 
ities interfered, they were met with insults and blows ; 
the guilty were fined, but the number steadily increased, 
and now grown women also were found in the crowd. 
At last the oflicial reports reached Paris, and the min- 
ister sent the chief superintendent of insane asylums 
to the village. He immediately distributed all the af- 
fected among the adjoining towns and hamlets, to break 
off the association, and sent the priest and his vicar to 
their superior, the bishop of Annecy. A few only of 
the women recovered, several died, and one man also 
succumbed; others, when they returned to Morzine, 
relapsed, and in 1864 the malady began to spread once 


more so fearfully that the bishop of Annecy himself came 
to exorcise the possessed. Seventy of them were brought 
to the church, where the most fearful scenes took place ; 
howling and yelling filled the sacred building, seven or 
eight powerful men scarcely succeeded in bringing one 
possessed child to the altar, and when there, the demo- 
niacs broke out in horrible blasphemies. The bishop, 
exhausted by the intense excitement, and suffering from 
serious contusions inflicted upon him by the unfortu- 
nate Women, had to leave the place, unable to obtain 
any results. Even as late as 1869 two demons were 
solemnly exorcised upon an order from the bishop of 
Strasbourg, and with the consent of the prefect of the 
department. The ceremony took place in the Chapel 
of St. George, in the presence of the lady-abbesses, 
under the direction of the Vicar- General of the 
diocese, assisted by other dignitaries and the Superior 
of the Jesuits. The two boys who were to be relieved 
had long been plagued with fearful visions and publicly 
given evidence of being possessed, for " twenty or thirty 
times they had been led into a public square in the 
presence of large crowds, and there they had pulled 
feathers out of a horrible monster which they saw above 
them in a threatening attitude ; these feathers they had 
handed to the bystanders, who found that when they 
were burnt they left no ashes." When the two chil- 
dren were brought to the house of the Sisters of Charity, 
they became clairvoyant, and revealed to the good 
ladies, although they had never seen them before, 


their family relations, their antecedents and many- 
secrets. They also spoke in unknown tongues, and 
exhibited all the ordinary phenomena of possession. 
The official report containing these statements, and 
closing with their restoration to health and reason, is 
so far trustworthy as it is signed by several hundred 
persons, among whom the government authorities, 
officers, professors and teachers are not wanting. 

There can be little doubt that the dancing mania 
which broke out repeatedly in various parts of the 
continent of Europe, was a kind of possession. The 
facts are recorded in history; the explanation only is 
left as a matter of discussion. In 1374, when a new 
and magnificent church was to be consecrated, in Liege, 
large numbers of people came from North Germany ; 
" men and women, possessed by demons, half naked, 
wreaths on their heads, and holding each other's hands, 
performed shameless dances in the streets, the churches, 
and houses." When they fell down exhausted they had 
spasms, and convulsions ; at their own request, friends 
came and pressed violently upon their chests, till they 
grew better. Their number soon reached thousands, 
and other thousands joined them in Holland and Bra- 
bant, although the priests frequently succeeded in 
exorcising them — whenever their mind was still sound 
enough to recall their early reverence for holy men and 
their faith in holy things. Some time before, the good 
people of Perugia had taken it into their heads that 
their sins required expiation, and had begun to scourge 



themselves publicly in the most cruel manner. The 
Eomans were infected soon after, and copied their 
example ; from thence the contagion spread, and soon 
all oyer Italy men, women, and children were seen 
inflicting upon themselves fearful punishment in order 
to drive out the evil spirits by whom they fancied 
themselves possessed. Noble and humble, rich and 
poor, old and young, all joined the crowds which in the 
daytime filled squares and streets, and at night, under 
the guidance of priests, marched with waving banners, 
and blazing torches, in vast armies through the land. 
ISTor can we shut our eyes to the fact that the Jumpers 
and Jerkers of the Methodist Church present to us 
instances of the same mental disorder, caused by over- 
excitement, which in earlier days was called possession, 
and that, hence, these aberrations, also, infinitely varied 
as they are, according to the temper of men and the 
habits of the locality in which they occur, must be 
numbered among the phenomena of modern magic. 


Occasionally possession is not attributed to demons, 
but to deceased men who come by night from their 
graves, and suck the blood of their victims, whereupon 
the latter begin to decline and finally die a miserable 
death, while the buried man lives and thrives upon his 
ill-gotten food. This is vampirism, the name being 
derived from the once universal belief that there existed 
vampires, huge bats, who, whilst fanning sleeping men 


with their soft wings, feasted upon their life's blood and 
only left them when they had turned into corpses. Pop- 
ular credulity added a number of horrid details to the 
general outline, and believed that the wretched victims 
of vampirism became themselves after death vam- 
pires, and thus forever continued the fearful curse. It 
was long thought that vampirism was known only to 
the nations of the Slavic race, but recent researches 
have discovered traces of it in the East Indies, and in 
Europe among the Magyars. Even the Sanscrit al- 
ready appears to have had a term of its own for the 
vampires — Pysachas, " hostile beings, eager for the flesh 
and blood of living men, who gratify their cruel lust 
mainly at the expense of women when they are asleep, 
drunk, or insane." 

Careful writers like Calmet and others have, it is 
true, always maintained that, while the existence of 
vampirism cannot be denied, the phenomena attending 
it are in all cases the creations of diseased minds only. 
On the other hand, it is a well-established fact that the 
bodies of so-called vampires, when exhumed, have been 
found free from corruption, while in all the corpses 
around them decomposition had long since begun. In 
the face of such facts vampirism cannot be dismissed 
as simply the product of heated and over-excited imag- 
inations, although it must be admitted that its true na- 
ture is still to all intents and purposes a profound mys- 
tery. According to popular belief the unusual preser- 
vation of the corpses indicates that death has not yet 


obtained full dominion over the bodies, and that hence 
the soul has not yet departed to its eternal home. A 
kind of lower organic life, it is said; continues, and as 
long as this lasts, the soul wanders about, as in a dream, 
among the familiar scenes of its earthly life and makes 
itself known to the friends of its former existence. The 
life thus extended requires blood in order to sustain it- 
self, and hence the minds of those who come in magic 
contact with the soul of a vampire, become filled with 
sanguinary thoughts, which present themselves to their 
imagination as the desire to suck blood and thus lead to 
the actual performance. The fact that vampirism is 
epidemic, like many similar mental diseases, has led to 
the belief that the living are brought into close con- 
nection with the dead and are infected by them, while 
in reality there is no bond between them but a common 
misfortune. Nor must it be forgotten that in this dis- 
ease, as in the plague, the mere thought of being seized 
often suffices to cause death without any warning symp- 
toms, and hence the great number of deaths in locali- 
ties where vampirism has been thought to prevail. For 
very few of those who are attacked succeed in escaping, 
and if they survive they retain for life the marks left by 
their wounds. The penalty, moreover, is not always 
undeserved ; vampirism rarely if ever attacks men of 
pure hearts and sober minds ; it is found, on the con- 
trary, exclusively among semi-barbarous nations and 
only in persons of rude, savage, and sinful disposition. 
Traces of vampirism have been discovered in the 


most distant parts of the earth, and often without ap- 
parent connection. The " Bruholaks " of Greece, gen- 
uine vampires whose appearance was ascribed to the 
direct influence of the Evil One, may possibly have been 
imported by the numerous immigrants of Slavic origin 
(Huet, Pensees Diver ses, Paris, 1722), but in Finland 
also the belief is, according to Oastren, almost univer- 
sal, that the spirits of the departed have the power to 
vex and torment persons in their sleep, and to afflict 
them with sorrow and disease. In the Sun da and Mo- 
lucca islands genuine vampirism is well known, and the 
Dyaks of Borneo also believe in an evil spirit who sucks 
the blood of living persons till they expire. 

Poland and Western Eussia have, however, been for 
two centuries the stage on which most of these dread 
tragedies have occurred. Men and women were re- 
ported to have been seen in broad daylight sucking the 
blood of men and beasts, while in other cases dogs and 
even wolves were suspected of being upires or vam- 
pires, as blood-suckers are called in most Slavic dialects. 
The terror grew as these reports found their way into 
newspapers and journals, till fear drove men and 
women to resort to the familiar remedy of mixing- 
blood with the meal used for their bread ; they escaped 
not by any healing powers inherent in the horrid mix- 
ture, but thanks to the faith they had in the efficacy of 
the prescription and the moral courage exhibited in its 
application. To prevent the spreading of the epidemic 
the bodies of the vampires were disinterred, and when 


found bleeding, were decapitated or impaled or burned in 
public. In some parts of Hungary the disease appeared 
in the shape of a white spectre which pursued the 
patients ; they declined visibly and died in a week or a 
fortnight. It was mainly in this country that physi- 
cians attending the disinterment of suspected bodies 
noticed the presence of more or less considerable quan- 
tities of blood, which was still fluid and actually caused 
the cheeks to look reddish. Some of the witnesses even 
thought they noticed an effort to breathe, faint pulsa- 
tions, and a slight change of features; these were, how- 
ever, evidently nothing more than the effects of currents 
of air which accompanied the opening of the coffin. It 
was here also that animals were first believed to have 
been attacked by vampires ; cows were found early in 
the morning bleeding profusely from a wound at the 
neck, and horses standing in their stalls trembling, 
covered with white foam, and so thoroughly terrified as 
to. become unfit for use. 

Another period of excitement due to accounts of vam- 
pirism comprised the middle of last century, when all 
Europe was deeply agitated on the subject. The Em- 
peror of Germany and other monarchs appointed com- 
mittees of learned men to investigate the matter ; theo- 
logians and skeptics, philosophers and physicians, took 
up the discussion, and hundreds of volumes were pub- 
lished on the mysterious question, but no satisfactory 
result was ever obtained. Many declared the whole a 
fable or merely the effect of diseased imaginations, 

possession. 3G*7 

others looked upon it as a malignant and epidemic dis- 
ease, and not a few as the unmistakable work of the 
devil. Learned men searched the writings of antiquity, 
and soon fouud more traces of the fearful disease than 
they had expected. They discovered that in Thessaly, 
Epirus, and some parts of the Pieria, men were reported 
by ancient writers as wandering about at night and 
tearing all whom they met to pieces. The Lamise of 
the Greeks and the Strigae of the Eomans evidently be- 
longed to the same category, while the later Tympanites 
of the Greeks were persons who had died while under 
the ban of the church and were therefore doomed to 
become vampires. The Slavic population of Moravia 
and Bohemia was in those days especially rich in instan- 
ces of vampirism, and so many occurred in Hungary 
that the Emperor Charles IV. intrusted the investiga- 
tion of the matter to a prince of Wurtemberg, before 
whom a number of cases were fully authenticated. Men 
who had died years before, were seen to return to their 
former homes, some in the daytime, some at night, and 
the following morning those whom they had visited 
were found dead and weltering in their blood. In a 
single village seventeen persons died thus within three 
months, and in many instances, when bodies were dis- 
interred, they were found looking quite alive. At this 
time the Sorbonne at Paris also took up the subject, but 
came to no conclusion, save that they disapproved of 
the practice of disinterring bodies, " because vampires, 
as cataleptics, might be restored to life by bleeding or 


magnetic treatment," according to the opinion of the 
learned Dr. Pierard. {Revue Spirit., iv.) 

Here we come at last to the grain of truth around 
which this mass of popular superstition has gradually 
accumulated, and the ignorance of which has caused 
hundreds of innocent human beings to die a miserable 
death. There can be no doubt that cases of " suspended 
animation " or apparent death have alone given rise to 
the whole series of fearful tales of vampirism. The 
very words of a recital belonging to the times, and to 
the districts where vampirism was prevalent, prove the 
force of this supposition. Erasmus Francisci states 
that, in the duchy of Krain, a man was buried and 
then suspected of being a vampire. When disinterred 
his face was found rosy, and his features moved as if 
they attempted to smile; even his lips opened as if 
gasping for air. A crucifix was held before his eyes and 
a priest called out with a loud voice : " Peace ! This is 
Jesus Christ who has rescued thy soul from the tor- 
ment of hell, and suffered death for thee ! " The sound 
seemed to penetrate to his ear, and slowly a few tears 
began to trickle down his cheeks. After a short prayer 
for his poor soul, his head was ordered to be cut off; a 
suppressed cry was heard, the body turned over as if 
still alive, and when the head was severed a quantity of 
blood ran into the grave. It was as clear a case of a 
living man who had been buried before death as has 
ever been authenticated. Nor are such cases as rare as 
is popularly believed. High authorities assure us that, 


for instance, after imperfect poisoning, in several kinds 
of suffocation, and in cases of new-born children who be- 
come suddenly chilled, a state of body is produced which 
presents all the symptoms of complete suspension of the 
functions of life. Such apparent death is, according to 
the same high medical authority, a period of complete 
rest, based upon a suspension of the activity of the 
heart, the lungs, and all spontaneous functions, extend- 
ing frequently to the sense of touch, and the intellect 
even. At the same time the natural heat of the body 
sinks until it seems to have disappeared altogether. 
The duration of this exceptional state is uncertain, at 
times the patient awakes suddenly, and in full posses- 
sion of all his faculties ; in other cases external means 
have to be employed to restore life. Among many well- 
authenticated cases of this kind, two of special interest 
are mentioned by Dr. Mayo. Cardinal Espinosa, the 
minister of Philip II. of Spain, died after a short period 
of suffering. His rank required that he should be em- 
balmed, and his body was opened for the purpose. At 
the moment when lung and heart were laid open to view, 
the surgeon observed that the latter was still beating, 
and the Cardinal, awaking, had actually strength 
enough to seize with his hand the knife of the operator. 
The other case is that of a well-known French writer, 
the Abbe Prevost, who fell down dead in the forest of 
Chantilly. His apparently lifeless body was found, 
and carried to a priest's house in the neighborhood. 
The surgeon ascribed his death to apoplexy ; but the 



authorities ordered a kind of coroner's inquest, and the 
body was opened. During the operation the Abbe 
suddenly uttered a cry of anguish — but it was too 
late ! 

If a certain number of such cases of apparent death 
has really given rise to the faith in vampirism, then it 
is equally possible to suppose, that this kind of trance — 
for which there may exist a special predisposition in one 
or the other race — may become at times epidemic. Per- 
sons of peculiar nervousness will be ready to be affected, 
and a locality in which this has occurred may soon 
obtain an unenviable reputation. Even where the 
epidemic does not appear in full force, a disturbed state 
of the nervous system will be apt to lead to dreams by 
night, and to gossip in the daytime, on the fatally 
attractive subject, and the patient will soon dream, or 
really imagine, that a person who has died of the dis- 
ease has appeared to him by night, and drawn his 
strength from him, or, in his excited fancy, sucked his 
life's blood. By such means even the popular way of 
speaking of nocturnal visits made by the "vampire's 
ghost" is- not so entirely unfounded as would appear at 
first sight, and the superstition is easily shown to be 
not altogether absurd, but to be based upon a small 
substructure of actual truth. 

It is remarkable, however, that the Germanic race 
has never furnished any instances of vampirism, 
although their ancient faith in a Walhalla, where their 
departed heroes feast sumptuously, and their custom to 
place food in the graves of their friends would have 


seemed most likely to reconcile them to the idea that 
men continue to live in their graves. 

How sadly persistent, on the other hand, such super- 
stitions are among the lower races, and in specially. 
ignorant communities, may be gathered from the fact 
that, as late as 1861, two corpses were disinterred by the 
peasants of a village of Galicia, and decapitated. The 
people believed them to be vampires, and to have caused 
a long-protracted spell of bad weather ! 


Even more fearful yet than vampirism is the disease, 
very common already in the days of antiquity, which 
makes men think that they have changed into beasts, 
and then act as such, according to the logic of insanity. 
Petronius is probably the first to mention, in his " Feast 
of Trimalchio," a case of lycanthropy, when Niceros re- 
lates how some one who was journeying with him threw 
off his garments, changed into a wolf and ran away into 
the forest. When he returned home, his account con- 
tinues, he found that a wolf had fallen upon his flock, 
but had been wounded by a servant in the neck with a 
lance. Thereupon he goes to inquire after his fellow- 
traveler, and finds him sick in bed with a physician by 
his side, who binds up an ugly wound in his neck. 
The well-known writer took this episode from the Ar- 
cadians, a rude nation of shepherds, whose flocks were 
frequently attacked by wolves, and among whom stories 
of men changed into wild beasts, were quite current. 


Nor must we forget, among historic personages, the 
daughter of King Proetus of Argos, who believed her- 
self changed into a cow; and of Nebuchadnezzar, who 
according to his own touching account " was driven 
from meat, did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet 
with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like 
eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's claws." (Dan- 
iel iv. 33.) The early days of Christianity are naturally 
full of incidents of this kind, but what is remarkable, 
zoanthropy was then already treated as a mere delusion. 
The holy man Macarius once saw a large procession 
approaching his hermitage in Egypt ; it was headed by 
a number of persons who led a large and imposing- 
looking woman by a bridle, and followed by a crowd of 
people of all ages. When they came near they told his 
disciples that the woman had been changed into a mare, 
and had thus remained for three days and nights with- 
out food — would the saint pray over her and restore 
her to her natural condition ? The delusion was so 
forcibly contagious that the disciples also forthwith 
saw a mare, and not a woman, and refused to admit 
the animal to the presence of the hermit ! Fortunately 
the latter had retained his self-control ; he rebuked his 
followers, saying : " You are the real beasts, that imag- 
ine you see something which does not exist. This 
woman has not been changed, but your eyes are deluded." 
Then he poured holy water over her, and at once 
everybody saw her once more in her natural shape, lie 
dismissed her and her escort with the words: "Go 


more frequently to church and take the holy sac- 
rament ; then you will escape such fearful punishment." 
During the Middle Ages a similar disease existed in 
many parts of Europe ; men were changed into dogs or 
wolves, sometimes as a divine punishment for great 
crimes, at other times in consequence of a delusion pro- 
duced by Satan. Such unfortunate men walked on all 
fours, attacked men and beasts, but especially children, 
killed and devoured them. They actually terrified many 
people into believing as confidently in this delusion as 
they believed in it themselves ! For this is one of the 
specially fearful magic phenomena of zoanthropy that 
it is apt to produce in healthy persons the same delu- 
sion as in the sufferer. Many cases also are recorded of 
persons lying in deep sleep, produced by narcotic oint- 
ments, who, seeing visions, fancied that they were 
acting like wolves. In the year 1598 such a disease 
raged as an epidemic in the Jura mountains, till the 
French Parliament determined to make an end of it by 
treating all the afflicted either as insane or as persons 
possessed by the devil and therefore deserving instant 
death. Among Slavic nations and the Magyars lycan- 
thropy is so closely connected with vampirism that it is 
not always easy to draw the line between the two dis- 
eases. There can be no doubt, however, that it is mere- 
ly a variety of possession, arising from the same un- 
happy state in which dualism is developed in the soul, 
and two wills contend with each other for superiority to 
the grievous injury of mind and body. The only dis- 


tinctive feature is this, that in lycanthropy not only the 
functions of the brains but also those of the skin are 
disordered, and hence an impression arises that the lat- 
ter is hairy and shaggy after the manner of wild 

The German Wahrwolf (were- wolf or man-wolf) is 
the same as the lycanthropos of the Scythians and 
Greeks and the versipellis of the Romans; he was in 
German mythology connected with "Woden. Hence, 
probably, the readiness with which the disease during 
the Middle Ages took hold of the minds of Germans; 
but at that period nearly all the nations of Europe 
firmly believed in the reality of such changes. 

As late even as the beginning of the sixteenth cen- 
tury cases of this kind occurred in France, where the 
possessed were known as loups-garoux. A young man 
of Besangon was thus brought before the Councilor of 
State, Be VAncre, at Bordeaux, and accused of roving 
like a wild animal through the neighboring forests. He 
confessed readily that he was a huntsman in the service 
of his invisible master, the devil, who had changed him 
into a wolf and forced him to range by the side of 
another more powerful wolf through the country. The 
poor fellow shared the usual fate of his fellow-sufferers, 
who were either subjected to a sharp treatment of exor- 
cism or simply executed as heretical criminals. 

In our day lycanthropy is almost entirely limited to 
Servia and Wallachia, Volhynia and White Russia. 
There, however, the disease breaks out frequently anew, 


and popular belief knows a variety of means by which 
a man may be changed into a wolf; the animal differs, 
however, from a genuine wolf in his docked tail and his 
marked preference for the blood of young children. 

In Abyssinia there exists, according to Pearce, a be- 
lief that men are occasionally changed into hyenas — the 
wolves of that country — but this sad privilege is limit- 
ed to workers in clay and iron, called Booda among the 
Amharas, who wear a gold earring of special form as a 
distinction from other inferior castes. 

It will thus be seen that, like all other varieties of 
possession, zoanthropy also is simply a kind of insanity, 
and our amusement at the marvelous conduct of were- 
wolves will vanish, if we recall the entire change pro- 
duced in man by the loss of reason. In that sad condi- 
tion he endures fatigue, cold or heat, and hunger as no 
healthy man ever can learn to do ; he does not mind 
the severest castigation, for his body is almost insensi- 
ble, it ceases to be susceptible to contagious diseases and 
requires, in sickness, double or treble doses of medi- 
cine. If we once know the precise nature of an insane 
person's hallucination, his actions will be apt to appear 
quite consistent, and thus lycanthropy also not only 
produces the fine connection of a change into a wolf, 
but causes the sufferer to conduct himself in all his 
ways like the animal which he represents. 


" Great is the power of the hand." — 

St. Augustine, Op., iv. 487. 

Mesmek, who was the first to make the anaesthetic 
effects of certain passages of the hand over the bodies 
of patients known to the public, sought originally to 
explain them by the agency of electricity ; but as early 
in 1773 he ascribed them to magnetism. From that day 
he employed magnets, and by passing them over the 
affected parts of his patients, he performed remarkable 
cures for many years in the city of Vienna. He looked 
upon the magnet as the physician, which cured the 
patient in the same way in which it attracted iron. 
Soon after, however, he became acquainted with the 
famous Father Eassner, of Eatisbon, who had obtained 
precisely the same results, without a magnet, by simple 
manipulations, and, henceforth, he also treated his 
patients with the hand only; but he retained the old 
name, looking now upon himself, and others who were 
endowed in the same manner, as possessing the powers 
of a strong magnet. In the meantime one of his 
pupils, the Marquis de Puysegur, had quite accidentally 
discovered the peculiar nature of somnambulism, and 


with, rare foresight profited by the moments of clear 
consciousness which at times interrupted the trance, in 
order to learn from his patients themselves the means 
of curing their diseases. He had from that moment 
devoted all the leisure of his life to the study of these 
singular but most beneficial phenomena, employing 
only the simplest manipulations in place of the more 
exciting means used by Mesmer, and doing an immense 
amount of good by his judicious cures. 

Mesmer, in the course of time, adopted the better 
method of his former pupil, and now his system was 
complete. He used magnetism for purely practical 
purposes : he cured diseases by throwing well-qualified 
persons into the peculiar sleep produced by magnetizing 
them, and availed himself of the effects of this half- 
sleep upon their varied constitutions, for his curative 
purposes. At the same time, however, he ascribed the 
influence which he claimed to have over persons whom 
he had thus magnetized, to a most delicate, all-pervad- 
ing medium ; this, he maintained, was the sole cause of 
motion, light, heat, and life itself in the universe, and 
this he stated he was communicating by his_process of 
magnetizing in a sufficient degree to his patients to pro- 
duce startling but invariably beneficial results. It is 
w T ell known how his removal from Vienna, where he 
had begun his remarkable career, to Paris, increased in 
almost equal proportions the number of enthusiastic 
admirers, and of bitter adversaries. In spite of an un- 
favorable judgment rendered by a committee of the 


Academy in 1784, his new doctrines spread rapidly 
through all the provinces ; so-called Harmonic Societies 
were formed in almost every town, and numerous insti- 
tutions sprang up founded upon the new system of 
magnetizing patients. It is curious that of the nine 
members of that committee, among whom Franklin 
was not the least renowned, only one, the great savant 
Jussieu, refused to sign the report "because it was 
founded upon a few isolated facts," and sent in a sepa- 
rate memoir, in which he described animal heat as the 
universal agent of life. Equally curious objections 
were made by others ; thus in another report of the 
Academy, the king was requested to prohibit the prac- 
tice of magnetism, because it was " dangerous to the 
morals of the people," and in the great hospital of the 
Charite, magnetic treatment was forbidden, because 
" the new system had caused for a long time warm dis- 
cussions between the best informed men of science !" 
Urged by repeated petitions, the Academy appointed, in 
1825, a second committee to investigate the matter, 
which finally reported a firm conviction of the genuine- 
ness and efficacy of magnetism, and recommended a 
further examination of this important branch of psy- 
chology and natural science. A permanent committee 
was thereupon directed to take charge of the matter, 
before which a very large number of important facts 
were authenticated; but in 1840, and subsequently, 
once more, unfavorable reports were laid before the 
august body and adopted by small majorities. 


In England magnetism met with fierce and violent 
opposition, the faculty being no little incensed by this 
new and unexpected competitor for fees and reputation. 
Dr. Elliotson, a professor in the University of London, 
and director of a large hospital, had actually to give up 
his place, because of the hostility engendered by his ad- 
vocacy of the new doctrine. Afterwards the controversy, 
though by no means less bitter, was carried on with 
more courtesy, and the subject received, on the whole, 
all the attention it deserved. Germany alone has legally 
sanctioned magnetism as a scientific method within the 
range of the healing art, and the leading powers, like 
Prussia, Austria, and Saxony, have admitted its practice 
in public hospitals. Unfortunately, much deception 
and imposture appeared from the beginning in company 
with the numerous genuine cases, and led many eminent 
men to become skeptics. The Russian government has 
limited the permission to. practice by magnetic cure to 
"well-informed'' physicians; but the Holy Curia, the 
pope's authority, after admitting magnetism, first as a 
well-established fact, has subsequently prohibited it by 
a decree of the Inquisition (21st April, 1841) as con- 
ducive to " infidelity and immorality." In spite of all 
these obstacles, magnetism, in its various branches of 
somnambulism and clairvoyance, of mesmerism and 
hypnotism, is universally acknowledged as a valuable 
doctrine, and has led to the publication of a copious 

Masrnetizers claim — and not without some show of 


reason — that their art was not unknown to antiquity, 
and is especially referred to in Holy Writ. They rest 
their claim upon the importance which has from time 
immemorial been ascribed to the action of the hand 
as producing visions and imparting the gift of 
prophecy. When Elisha was called upon to predict the 
issue of the war against Moab, he sent for a minstrel, 
" and it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that 
the hand of the Lord came upon him." (2 Kings iii. 
15.) In like manner "the hand of the Lord was upon 
Ezekiel" among the captives by the river of Oheber and 
he prophesied (Ezekiel i. 3) ; years after he says again: 
" The hand of the Lord was upon me in the evening " 
(xxxiii. 22), and once more : " the hand of the Lord was 
upon me" (xl. 1). It is evident that according to bib- 
lical usage in these cases the manner of acting attributed 
to God is described after the usage prevailing among 
men, and that the "hand upon men" represented the 
usual method of causing them to fall into a trance. 
But this placing the hand upon a person was by no 
means confined to cases of visions ; it was employed also 
in blessings and in sacrifices, in consecrations and 
miraculous cures. Daniel felt a hand touching him, 
which "set me upon my knees and the palms of my 
hands" (Dan. x. 10), while soon after the same hand 
" strengthened him" (17) ; and even in the New Testa- 
ment a high privilege is expressed by the words : " The 
hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke i. 60.) In other 
cases a finger is substituted for the hand, as when the 


magicians of Pharaoh said : " This is the finger of God " 
(Exodus viii. 19), and the two tables of testimony are 
said to have been "written with the ringer of God" 
(Exodus xxxi. 18) ; in the same manner Christ said : 
" If I with the finger of God cast out devils." (Luke xi. 
20.) What makes this reference to finger and hand in 
Eastern magic and in biblical language peculiarly in- 
teresting is the fact that neither Greeks nor Eomans 
ever referred in like manner to such an agency. It is 
evident that these nations, possessing the ancient wis- 
dom of the East and the revealed knowledge of the 
chosen people, were alone fully acquainted with the 
power which the hand of man can exercise under pecu- 
liar circumstances, and hence looked upon it in God 
also, as the instrument by which visions were caused 
and miracles performed. Hence, no doubt, also the 
mysterious hand, which from time immemorial has been 
used as one of the emblems of supreme power, often 
called the hand of justice, but evidently emblematic of 
the "hand of God," which rests upon the monarch who 
rules "by the grace of God." Magnetizers connect all 
these uses made of the hand with their own method, 
which consists almost invariably in certain passes made 
with the whole hand or with one or more fingers. 

Whatever may be thought of this connection between 
the meaning of the "hand" in biblical language, and 
the magnetism of our day, there can be no doubt as to 
the fact that the ancients were already quite familiar 
with the phenomena which have startled our century as 


something entirely new. The so-called temple-sleep 
of the Greeks was almost identical with modern 
somnambulism ; the only essential difference being 
that then the gods of Olympus were seen, and lent their 
assistance, in the place of the saints of the Middle Ages, 
and the mediums of our own day. Incense, mineral 
waters, narcotic herbs, and decoctions of Strychnos or 
Halicacabum, were, according to Pliny, employed to 
produce the peculiar sleep. (" Hist. Nat." 1. xxi. ch. 31.) 
The patients fell asleep while lying on the skins of 
recently killed animals in the Temples of iEsculapius, 
and other beneficent deities, and in their sleep had 
dreams with revelations prescribing the proper remedies. 
The priests also, sometimes, dreamt for their visitors — 
for a consideration — or, at least, interpreted the dreams 
of others. Even magnetism by touch was perfectly 
familiar to the ancients, as appears from words of 
Plautus : " Quid, si ego ilium tractim tangam, ut 
dormiat ? (What if I were to touch him at intervals 
so that he should fall asleep ?) Plutarch even speaks 
of magnetizing by touching with the feet, as practised 
by Pyrrhus. Other writers discovered that the Sibyls 
of Eome, as well as the Druids of the Celts, had been 
nothing more than well-trained somnambulists, and ere 
long distinct traces of similar practices were found in 
the annals of the Egyptians also. 

One of the earliest cases, which was thoroughly 
investigated, and carefully watched, is reported by Dr. 
Petetin, of Lyon, in his famous " Memoir on Catalepsy 


and Somnambulism." (Lyon, 1787.) His patient was a 
lady who had nursed her child with such utter disregard 
of her own health that her whole system was under- 
mined. After an attack of most violent convulsions, 
accompanied with apparent madness, she suddenly 
began to laugh to utter a number of clever and witty 
sayings, and finally broke out into beautiful songs; but 
a terrible cough with hemorrhages ended the crisis. 
Similar attacks occurred with increasing frequency, 
during which she could read, with closed eyes, what was 
placed in her hand, state hour and minute on a watch 
by merely touching the crystal, and mention the con- 
tents of the pockets of bystanders. She stated that she 
saw these things with varied distinctness; some clearly, 
others as through a mist, and still others only by a 
great effort. The reporter expresses his belief that the 
stomach in this case performed all the functions of the 
senses, and that the epidermis, with its network of fine 
nerves, acted in place of the usual organs. Petetin was 
also the first to enter into direct relations with his som- 
nambulist; he could induce her at will to become 
clairvoyant, and make himself understood by her when- 
ever he directed his voice toward the only sensitive part. 
Gradually, however, it was discovered that the degree 
of close communication {rapport) between the two par- 
ties depended as largely on the correspondence of 
character between them as on the energy of will in the 
magnetizer and the power of imagination possessed by 
the patient. Deleuse, one of the professors of the 


Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, gave much attention to 
the subject, and in his numerous publications main- 
tained the existence of a magnetic fluid by the side of 
the superior power with which some men are endowed, 
and that both were employed in influencing others. 
He was frequently, and violently, attacked on the score 
of his convictions, especially after several cases of cun- 
ning deception had become known. For very soon the 
innate desire for notoriety led many persons to pretend 
somnambulism, and skillfully to imitate the phenomena 
of clairvoyance, displaying, as is not unfrequently the 
case, in these efforts a skill and a perseverance which 
would have secured them great success in any legitimate 
enterprise. A number of volumes appeared, mostly in 
Germany, professing to contain accounts of marvelous 
cures achieved by magnetism, which upon examination 
proved to be altogether fictitious. France, however, 
abounded more than any other country with impostors, 
and every kind of deception and cheating was carried 
on there, at the beginning of this century, under the 
cloak of mesmerism. Young girls, stimulated by large 
rewards, and well trained by hospital surgeons, would 
submit to brutal treatment, and profess to reveal, dur- 
ing well-simulated trances, infallible remedies for 
grievous diseases. The followers of Mesmer degraded 
his art by making it a merry pastime or a lucrative 
exhibition, without regard to truthfulness, and without 
reverence for science. Even political intriguers, and 
financial speculators, availed themselves of the new 


discovery; precisely as in our day spirit-rapping and 
kindred tricks are used. In England, and in the 
Union, mesmerism fared little better; especially with 
us, it soon fell into the hands of quacks and charlatans 
who made it a source of profit ; at the same time it 
assumed various new names, as, electro-biology, hypno- 
tism, and others. 

The idea that somnambulism was the effect of angelic 
or demoniac influences was once largely entertained, 
but has long since given way to more scientific views. 
But it cannot be said that the true nature of the active 
principle has yet been fully ascertained, and so far the 
results of mesmerism must be classed among magic 
phenomena. What is alone clearly established is the 
power which the strong will of the magnetizer evident- 
ly exercises over the patient, and the fact that this en- 
ergy acts through the hands as its organs. The patient, 
on his side, undergoes by such an exercise of a foreign 
will a complete change of his individuality ; the action 
of his brain is modified and he falls into magnetic 
sleep. Many intelligent somnambulists have distinctly 
stated that they obey the will of their master and not 
his hands; that manipulation, in fact, merely serves to 
communicate this will to their inner sense. Whether 
the connection which evidently exists between the two 
parties is established merely for moral agencies or by an 
infinitely subtle fluid, which may possibly be the Od of 
Baron Reichenbach — this question remains as yet un- 
decided. So much only is quite certain that neither the 



will alone suffices to produce the magic phenomena of 
magnetism, nor heat and electricity, as the physicist 
Parrot maintained ; as little can electro -magnetism, un- 
aided, be the cause of such results, though the great 
Kobiano stoutly asserted its power ; man is a dualism 
of spirit and body, and both must be influenced alike 
and together, in order to obtain perfect mastery. The 
most plausible explanation yet offered by men of science 
is, that by the will of the magnetizer his own nervous 
and mental system assumes a certain condition which 
changes that of the subject into one of opposite polar- 
ity, paralyzes some of his cerebral functions and causes 
him to fall into a state resembling sleep. The stronger 
and healthier man affects the nervous system of a fee- 
ble and less healthy man according to his own more or 
less strongly marked individuality, and the spiritual in- 
fluence naturally develops itself in the same proportions 
as the material influence. Hence the thoughts and 
feelings, the convictions and the faith of the magnetizer 
are reflected upon the mind of his subject. Even 
Mesmer himself had not yet reached this point; he 
was, up to his death, content to ascribe the power of 
the magnetizer to the waves of an universal fluid set in 
motion by the superior energy of specially endowed 
persons. According to his doctrine thoughts were con- 
veyed by means of this mysterious fluid in precisely 
the same manner in which light and sound are borne 
onward on the waves of the air that surrounds us. 
They proceed from the brain and the nerves of one 



person and reach those of another person in this imper- 
ceptible manner; to dispatch them on their errand, vo- 
lition is required ; to receive them, willingness and a 
certain natural predisposition, since there are men inca- 
pable of being reached in this way, as there are others 
who are deprived of sight or hearing. As the convey- 
ing fluid is far more subtle than the thinnest air, per- 
meates the whole universe and bears a close resemblance 
to the fluid which sets our nerves in motion, there is 
no other limit to the effects of volition on the part of 
the so-called magnetizer than the strength of his will. 
If he possesses this in a sufficiently high degree, he can 
affect those who are subject to his superiority even at 
the greatest distance. Moreover, if his influence is 
sufficiently effective the somnambulist acquires new and 
heretofore unknown powers ; he sees the interior of his 
own body, recognizes its defects and diseases, and by a 
newly-awakened instinct, perceives what is necessary to 
restore its perfect order. Such were the views of Mes- 

Besides this theory a number of others have been pub- 
lished from time to time, by men of science of almost all 
countries — even modern philosophers, like the German 
Schopenhauer, having entered the lists in defense of 
their favorite ideas. The most striking view published 
in recent times, is found in the works of Count Eobiano, 
a learned abbe and a brilliantly successful magnetizer. 
He ascribes all the phenomena of somnambulism to the 
purely physical activity of the nerves, and proposes to 


call his new physical science neururgy. He identifies 
the nervous fluid with galvanism and voltaic electricity, 
and asserts that by a galvanic battery all the results can 
be obtained which mesmerism claims as its own. He 
also states that galvanic rings, bracelets, belts and neck- 
laces cause immediately somnambulism in well-quali- 
fied persons, while carbon held before the nostrils of 
somnambulists in deep sleep, awakes them instantly, and 
at the same time releases limbs held in cataleptic rigidi- 
ty. Alabaster, soda, and wax have similar effects, but 
less promptly, and the wind from a pair of bellows has 
equal power. According to his theory, currents of what 
he calls the galvanic-neururgic fluid, are capable of 
producing all the well-known symptoms and phenom- 
ena of thought from idiocy to genius, and from uncon- 
scious sleep to the highest excitement ; the process by 
which these results can be obtained is a suspension of the 
vital equilibrium by disease, intoxication, abstinence, 
long-continued fasting and prayer and the like. If the 
marvelous fluid is unequally distributed through the 
system, catalepsy ensues. The novelty and force of 
Kobiano's doctrines attracted much attention, but a 
series of experiments conducted by eminent men soon 
proved that galvanism alone produced in no instance 
somnambulism, but invariably required the aid of voli- 
tion, which the learned Italian in his modesty had 
probably underrated, if not altogether overlooked. 

It is a matter more of curiosity than of real interest 
that the Chinese have — now for nearly eleven bundled 


years — believed in an inherent power possessed by every 
human being, called yu-yang, which is identical with an 
universal yu-yang. According to this view, every person 
endowed with the proper ability can dispose of his own 
yu-yang and diffuse a portion of it over others, so as to 
cure their infirmities. The French missionary Amyot 
communicated this to Puysegur (Du Magnetisme Ani- 
mal, Paris, 1807, p. 387), and looked upon the yu-yang 
as the universal vital power which produces everything. 
Before we dismiss any such theory — in China or 
nearer home — with a supercilious smile, it is well to 
recall the reception which the first revelation of 
electricity in the human body met among our savants. 
The doctrine had to pass through the usual three stages 
of contempt, controversy and final adoption. John 
Wesley, more than a hundred years ago, said of it: 
" With what vehemence has it been opposed ! Some- 
times, by treating it with contempt, as if it were of 
little or no use ; sometimes by arguments such as they 
were, and sometimes by such cautions against its ill 
effects, as made thousands afraid to meddle with it." 
Now, every elementary text-book teaches that all created 
living bodies are electric, and that some persons, 
animals, and plants are so in a very high degree. To 
establish this truth poor puss has had to suffer much 
in order to give out electric sparks, aud the sensitive 
plant has had to show how its leaves 

" With quick horror fly the neighboring hand," 


which draws from them the electricity of which it contains 
more than other plants. Physicians haye learnt that a 
person who has the small-pox cannot be electrified, the 
body being fully charged and refusing to receive more 
electricity, while sparks may be drawn from the body 
of a patient dying with cholera. Now this once 
despised power, in the shape of voltaic electricity, 
adorns our tables with electro-plate works of art, carries 
our thoughts around the globe, blasts rocks, fires can- 
nons and torpedoes, and even rings the bells of our 
houses. Now little chain batteries, that can be car- 
ried in the waistcoat pockets, produce powerful shocks 
and cure grievous diseases, while tiny bands, which yet 
can decompose water in a test-tube, are worn by thou- 
sands as a protection against intense suffering and utter 
prostration. What in this case happened to electricity 
may very well be the fate of the new power also, which 
is the true agent in all that we carelessly call magnetism. 
Somnambulism and clairvoyance, by whatever means 
they may have been caused, differ in this from dreams 
and feverish fancies, that the outer senses are rendered 
inactive and in their place peculiar inner life begins to 
act, while the subject is perfectly conscious. The magic 
phenomena differ naturally infinitely according to the 
varying natures of the patients. In the majority of 
cases sleep is the only result of magnetizing ; a few per- 
sons become genuine somnambulists and begin to speak, 
first very indistinctly, because the organs of speech are 
partially locked and the consciousness is not fully 


aroused. As the spasms cease, speech becomes freer, and 
as the mind clears up, the thoughts also reveal themselves 
more distinctly. These symptoms are ordinarily accom- 
panied by others of varying character, from simple h 
in the extremities and painful sobbing to actual syncope. 
In almost all such cases, however, the nervous system is 
suffering from a violent shock, and this produces spasms 
of more or less appalling violence. The temper of the 
sufferers — for such they are all to some degree — varies 
from deep despondency to exulting blissfulness, but is 
as changeable as that of children, and resembles but 
too frequently the capricious and unintelligible mental 
condition of insane persons. 

The- r the first time thrown into magnetic 

sleep generally feel after awaking as if a great change 
had taken place in them : they are apt to remain seri- 
ous, and apparently plunged in deep thought for several 
days. If their case is in unskillful hands, nervous dis- 
orders are rarely avoided: phantastic visions may be 
seen, and convulsions and more threatening symptoms 
even may occur. Youth is naturally more susceptible 
to the influence of magnetism than riper years: teally 
old persons have never yet been put to sleep. In like 
manner women are more easily controlled than men, and 
hence more capable of being magnetized than of magne- 
tizing others. If men appear more frequently in the 
annals of this new branch of magic than women, this is 
due merely to the fact that men appear naturally, and 
ad far at Last voluntarily more frequently in public 


statements than women. The latter, moreover, are very 
rarely found able to magnetize men, simply because 
they are less in the habit of exerting their will for the 
purpose of influencing others ; the exceptions were 
mostly so-called masculine women. Over their own sex, 
however, they are easily able to obtain full control. 

Among the curious symptoms accompanying the magic 
phenomena of this class, the following deserve being 
mentioned. A distinguished physician, Dr. Heller, ex- 
amined the blood corpuscules of a person in magnetic 
sleep and found that their shape was essentially modi- 
fied ; they were raised and pointed so as to bear some 
resemblance to mulberries ; at the same time they ex- 
hibited a vibrating motion. Another symptom fre- 
quently observed in mesmerism are electric shocks, 
which produce sometimes a violent trembling in the 
whole person before the beginning of magnetic sleep 
and after it has ceased. As many as four thousand 
such shocks have been counted in an hour ; they are 
especially frequent in hysterical women and then ac- 
companied by severe pain, in men they are of rarer occur- 
rence. Finally, it appears from a number of well-authen- 
ticated cases that magnetic convulsions are contagious, 
extending even to animals. Persons suffering with cata- 
lepsy have more than once been compelled to kill pet 
cats because the latter suffered in a similar manner 
whenever the attacks came, and the same has been 
noticed in favorite dogs which were left in the room 
while magnetic cures were performed. This is all the 


more frequently noticed as many magnetizers look upon 
convulsions as efforts made by nature to restore the sys- 
tem to a healthy condition, and hence excite in their 
patients convulsions without magnetizing them fully. 

A new doctrine concerning the magic phenomena of 
magnetism establishes a special force inherent in all in- 
organic substances, and calls it Siderian. This theory is 
the result of the observation that certain substances, 
like water and metal, possess a special power of produc- 
ing somnambulism, and at one time a peculiar appara- 
tus, called iaquet, was much in use, by means of 
which several persons, connected with each other and 
with a vessel filled with water and pieces of metal, 
were rendered clairvoyant. The whole subject has 
not yet been fully investigated, and hence the con- 
clusions drawn from isolated cases must be looked 
upon as premature. It has, however, been established 
beyond doubt that metals have a peculiar power over 
sensitive persons, in their natural sleep as well as in the 
magnetic sleep. Many somnambulists are painfully 
affected by gold, others by iron ; a very sensitive patient 
could, after an instant's touch, distinguish even rare 
metals like bismuth and cobalt by the sensations which 
they produced when laid upon her heart. Dr. Brun- 
ner, when professor of physics in Peru, had a patient 
who could not touch iron without falling into convul- 
sions, and was made clairvoyant by simply taking her 
physician's pocket-knife in her hand. 

This Siderian or Astral force, so called from a pre- 


sumed influence exercised by the heavenly bodies, as 
well as by all inorganic substances, admits of no isola- 
tion, although it is possessed in varying degrees by 
certain metals and minerals. It has no effect even upon 
the electrometer or the magnetic needle ; its force is radi- 
ating, quite independent of light, but considerably in- 
creased by heat. Persons magnetized by the mysterious 
force of the haqaet have, however, an astonishing power 
over the magnetic needle and can make it deflect by 
motion, fixed glance, or even mere volition. In Galig+ 
nani's Messenger (25th of October, 1851) the case of 
Prudence Bernard in Paris is mentioned, who forced 
the needle to follow the motions of her head. 

Whatever we may think of the value of this theory, it 
cannot be denied that the effect which certain physical 
processes going on in the atmosphere have on our body 
and mind alike is very striking and yet almost entirely 
unknown. Science is leisurely gathering up facts which 
will no doubt in the end furnish us a clue to many phe- 
nomena which we now call magic, or even supernatural. 
Thus almost every hour of the day has its peculiarity 
in connection with Nature : at one hour the barometer, 
at another the thermometer reaches its maximum ; at 
other periods magnetism is at its highest or the air full- 
est of vapor, and to these various influences the dis- 
eases of men stand in close relation. When Auroras 
are seen frequently the atmosphere is found to be sur- 
charged with electricity; they are intimately connected 
with gastric fevers, and according to some physicians, 


even with typhus and cholera. It has also ■ been ascer- 
tained that the progress of the cholera and the plague 
— perhaps also of common influenza — coincides accu- 
rately with the isogonic line; these diseases disappear 
as soon as the eastward declination of the magnetic 
needle ceases. In recent times a correspondence of the 
spots in the sun with earth-magnetism has also been 
observed. In like manner it has been established that 
continued positive electricity of the air, producing 
ozone in abundance, is apt to cause catarrhs, inflamma- 
tions, and rheumatism, while negative electricity causes 
nervous fevers and cholera. Even the moon has recov- 
ered some of its former importance in its relations to 
the human body, and although the superstitions of 
past ages with their absurd exaggerations have long since 
been abandoned, certain facts remain as evidences of a 
connection between the moon and some diseases. Thus 
the paroxysms of lunatics, epileptics, and somnambu- 
lists are undoubtedly in correspondence with the phases 
of the moon ; madmen rave most furiously when the 
latter is full, and its phases determine with astonishing 
regularity the peculiar affections of women, as was tri- 
umphantly proven by the journal kept with admirable 
fidelity during the long life of Dr. Constantine Hering 
of Philadelphia. 

Another name given to these phenomena is the 
Hypnotism of the English. (Braid, " Neurohypnology," 
London, 1843.) This theory is based upon the fact that 
sensitive persons can be rendered clairvoyant by looking 


fixedly at some small but bright object held close to 
their face, and by continuing for some time to fix the 
mind upon the same object after the eyelids have 
closed from sheer weariness. The method of produc- 
ing this magnetic sleep, and some of the symptoms 
peculiar to mesmerized persons, has since been fre- 
quently varied. * Dodds makes the patient take a disk 
of zinc, upon which a small disk of copper is laid, into 
his hand, and regard them fixedly ; thus he produces 
what he calls electro-biology. Catton, in Manchester, 
England, prefers a gentle brushing of the forehead, and 
by this simple means causes magnetic sleep. Braid's 
experiments, in which invariably over-excitement of 
nerves was followed by torpor, rigidity, and insensibility, 
have since been repeated by eminent physicians with a 
view to produce ansesthesis during painful operations. 
They have met with perfect success; and the removal 
of the shining object, fresh air, and slight frictions, 
sufficed to restore consciousness. The same results 
have been obtained in France, where, according to a 
report made to the French Academy, in 1859, by the 
renowned Dr. Velpeau, persons induced to look at a 
shining object, held close between their eyes, began to 
squint violently, and in a few moments to fall, utterly 
unconscious and insensible, into magnetic sleep. 
Maury explains the process as- one of vertigo, which 
itself again is caused by the pressure of blood upon the 
brain, and adds, that any powerful impression produced 
upon the retina may have the same effect. Hence, no 


doubt, the mal occhio of the Italians, inherited from the 
evil eye of the ancients; hence the often almost mar- 
velous power which some men have exercised by the 
mere glance of the eye. The fixed look of the magne- 
tizer, which attracts the eye of the patient, and holds 
it, as it were, spell-bound, has very much the same 
effect, and when this look is carefully cultivated it may 
put others beside themselves — as was the case with 
Urbain Graudier, who could, at any time, cause his 
arms to fall into a trance by merely fixing his eyes upon 
them for a few minutes. 

From all these experiments we gather, once more, 
that men can, by a variety of means, which are called 
magnetism or mesmerism, influence others who are 
susceptible, till the latter fall into magnetic sleep, have 
cataleptic attacks, or become clairvoyant. It is less 
certain that, as many assert, these results are obtained 
by means of a most subtle, as yet unknown, fluid, which 
the magnetizer causes to vibrate in his own mind, and 
which passes from him, by means of his hands, into the 
patient, where it produces effects corresponding to those 
felt by the principal. To accomplish even this, it is 
absolutely necessary that the magnetizer should not 
only possess a higher energy than his patient, but also 
stand to him in the relation of the positive pole to the 
negative. The extent of success is measurable by the 
strength of will on one hand, and the degree of sus- 
ceptibility on the other; both may be infinitely varied, 
from total absence to an overwhelming abundance. 


Practice, at least, however, aids the magnetizer effectu- 
ally, and certain French and Italian masters have 
obtained surprising results. The most striking of these 
is still the cataleptic state, which they cause at will. 
Breathing, pulsation, and digestion continue uninter- 
rupted, but the muscles are no longer subject to our will; 
they cease to be active, and hence the patient remains 
immovable in any position he may be forced to assume. 

The general symptoms produced by magnetizing arc. 
uniformly the same : as soon as a sufficient number of 
passes have been made from the head downward the pa- 
tient draws a few deep inhalations, and then follow 
increased animal heat and perspiration, the effect of 
greater activity of the nerves, while pain ceases and 
cheerfulness succeeds despondency. If the passes are 
continued, these symptoms increase in force, produce 
their natural consequences, and, the functions becoming 
normal, recovery takes place. Magnetic sleep is fre- 
quently preceded by slight feverishness, convulsive 
trembling and fainting. The eyelids, half or entirely 
closed, begin to tremble, the eyeballs turn upward and 
inward, and the pupils become enlarged and insensible 
to light. The features change in a striking manner, 
peculiar to this kind of sleep, and easily recognized. 
After several experiments of this kind have been made 
upon susceptible persons, the outward sleep begins to be 
accompanied by an inner awakening, at first in a half- 
dreamy state and gradually more fully, till conversation 
can be attempted. 


Contrary to the general impression, faith does not 
seem to be an essential element of success, at least on 
the part of the patient, for infants and very young 
children have been rendered clairvoyant as well as 
grown persons. On the other hand, natural suscepti- 
bility is indispensable, for Deleuse (Def. clu Magnet israe, 
p. 156) states that in his extended practice he found 
only one out of twenty persons fit to be magnetized. 
Of those whom he could influence, only one in 
twenty could converse in his sleep, and of five of this 
class not more than one became fully clairvoyant. Cer- 
tain persons, though well endowed, impress their pa- 
tients unfavorably, cause a sensation of cold instead of 
heat in their system, and produce a feeling of strong 
aversion. The most remarkable feature in all these re- 
lations, however, is the fact that the patient not unfre- 
quently affects the magnetizer, and this in the most 
extraordinary manner. One physician took into the 
hand with which he had touched a dying person, two 
finches; they immediately sickened and died a few days 
later. Another, a physically powerful and perfectly 
healthy man, who was treating a patient suffering of 
tic douloureux by means of magnetism, became unwell 
after a few days, and on the seventh day fell himself a 
victim to that painful disease, till he had to give up the 
treatment. He handed his patient over to a brother 
physician, who suffered in the same manner, and actually 
died in a short time. 

After continued practice has strengthened the mag- 


netizer, his " passes " often become unnecessary, and he 
can at last, under favorable circumstances, produce 
magnetic sleep by a simple glance or even the mere 
unuttered volition. Some physicians had only to say 
Sleep ! and their patient fell asleep ; others were able 
to move the sleepers from their beds by a slight touch 
with the tip of the thumb. One of this class, after 
curing a poor boy of catalepsy, retained such perfect 
control over him that he only needed to point at him 
with his finger, or to let him touch some metal which he 
had magnetized, in order to make him fall down as if 
thunderstruck. The great German writer, known as 
Jean Paul, relates of himself that he, " in a large com- 
pany and by merely looking at her fixedly, caused a 
Mrs. K. twice to fall almost asleep and to make her 
heart beat and her color go, till S. had to help her." 
The Abbe Faria, who seems to have been specially en- 
dowed with such power, would magnetize perfect stran- 
gers by suddenly stretching out his hands and saying 
in an authoritative tone : Sleep, I will it ! He had a 
formidable competitor afterwards in Hebert, who played 
almost at will with a large number of spectators in his 
crowded hall, making them follow him wherever he 
led, or causing them to fall asleep by simply making 
passes over the inside of their hats. In the case of young 
girls he produced rigidity of members with great facility, 
and then caused them to assume any position he chose ; 
his patients were utterly helpless and powerless. Du- 
potet, already mentioned, possessed similar influence 


over others; lie once magnetized an athletic man of 
ripe years, by merely walking around the chair on which 
he was seated, and forced him to turn with him by jerks. 
On another occasion he made a white chalk-mark on 
the floor, and then requested a gentleman to put both 
his feet upon the spot ; while he remained quietly stand- 
ing by the side of his friends. After a few minutes the 
stranger began to shut his eyes, and his body trembled 
and swayed to and fro, till it sank so low that the head 
hung down to the hips — at last Dupotet loosened the 
spell by upward passes. An Italian, Eagazzoni, excited 
in 1859, no small sensation by his remarkable success 
as a magnetizer. Unlike other physicians, he used an 
abundance of gestures to accompany the active play of 
his expressive features, and yet by merely breathing 
upon persons he could check their respiration and the 
circulation of their blood ; in like manner he caused the 
chest to swell and paralyzed single limbs or the whole 
body. He pushed needles through the hand or the skin 
of the forehead without causing a sign of pain ; he ena- 
bled his patients to guess his thoughts, and set them 
walking, running or dancing, although they were in one 
room and he in another. When he had paralyzed their 
senses, burning sulphur did not affect their smell, nor 
brilliant light the open pupil; the ringing of a large 
bell close to the ear and the firing of a pistol remained 
unheard. In fine, he repeated all the experiments al- 
ready made by Puysegur with his patient, Victor, but 
generally without the use of passes. (Schopenhauer, 


Ueher d. Willen in d. Natur. 1867, p. 102.) Maury, 
who has given a most interesting and trustworthy 
account of similar cases (Revue des Deux Mondez, 1860, 
t. 25), states in speaking of General Noizet, that the 
latter caused him to fall asleep by saying : " Dormes ! " 
Immediately a thick veil fell upon his eyes, he felt weak, 
began to perspire, and felt a strong pressure upon the 
abdomen. A second experiment, however, was less suc- 

Besides passes, a variety of other means have been 
employed to produce magnetic sleep and kindred phe- 
nomena. Dr. Bend sea, one of the earlier practitioners, 
frequently used metal mirrors or even ordinary looking- 
glasses ; another Dr. Barth, maintained that by touch- 
ing or irritating any part of the outer skull, the under- 
lying portions of the brains could be excited. By thus 
pressing upon the organ of love of children, his patients 
would at once begin to think of children, and often 
caress a cushion. In this theory he is supported by Had- 
dock, who first discovered that the magnetizer's will 
could force his patient to substitute his fancies for the 
reality, and, for instance, to believe a handkerchief to 
be a pet dog or an infant, and an empty glass to be 
filled with such liquids as he suggested. The influ- 
ence in such cases must, however, be rather ascribed to 
the fact that the magnetizers were also phrenologists, 
than to the presumed organs themselves. 

It must lastly be mentioned that some persons claim 
to possess the power to magnetize themselves, and Du- 


potet, a trustworthy authority in such matters, supports 
the assertion. A case is mentioned in the Journal de 
Vame (iv. p. 103), of a man who could hypnotize him- 
self from childhood up, by merely fixing his eye for 
some time upon a certain point ; in later years, proba- 
bly by too frequent excitement of this kind, he was apt 
to fall into trances and to see visions. 

The sympathetic relations which by magnetism are 
established between two or more persons who are in a 
state of somnambulism or clairvoyance, is commonly 
called rapport, although there is no apparent necessity 
for preferring a French word. The closest relations 
exist naturally between the magnetizer and his subject, 
and the intensity of the rapport varies, of course, with 
the energy of will of the one, and the susceptibility of 
the patient of the other. The same rapport exists, 
however, often between the patients of the same mag- 
netizer, and may be increased by merely joining hands, 
or a strong effort of will on the part of the physician. 
It has often been claimed that mesmerism produces 
exceptionally by rapport what in twins is the effect of 
a close natural resemblance and contemporaneousness 
of organization. Clairvoyants endowed with the highest 
powers which have yet been observed, thus see not only 
their own body as if it were transparent, but can in 
like manner watch what is going on within the bodies 
of others, provided they are brought into rapport with 
them, and hence their ability to prescribe for their ail- 
ments. Puysegur was probably the first to discover 


this peculiarity : lie was humming to himself a favorite 
air while magnetizing a peasant boy, and suddenly the 
latter began to sing the same air with a loud voice. 
Haddock's patients gave all the natural signs of pain in 
different parts of the body, when he was struck or 
pinched, while at the very time they were themselves 
insensible to pain. Dr. Emelin found that when he 
held his watch to his right ear, a female patient of his 
heard the ticking in her. left ear ; if he held it to her 
own ear she heard nothing. He was, also, not a little 
astonished when another patient, in a distant town to 
which he traveled, revealed to him a whole series of 
professional meditations in which he had been plunged 
during his journey. And yet such a knowledge of the 
magnetizer's thoughts is nothing uncommon in well- 
qualified subjects who have been repeatedly magnetized. 
Mrs. Crowe mentions the case of a gentleman who was 
thus treated while he was at Malvern and his physician 
at Cheltenham. He was lying in magnetic sleep, when 
he suddenly sprang up, clapped his hands together, and 
broke out into loud laughter. His physician was written 
to and replied that on the same day he had been busy 
thinking of his patient, when a sudden knock at the 
door startled him and made him jump and clap his 
hands together. He then laughed heartily at his folly! 
(I. p. 140.) Dupotet once saw a striking illustration of 
the rapport which may exist between two patients of 
the same magnetizer, even where the two are unknown 
to each other. 


He was treating some of Lis patients in a hospital in 
St. Petersburg, by means of magnetism, and found, to 
his surprise, that whenever he put one of them to sleep 
in the upper story, the other in the lower story would 
also instantly drop asleep, although she could not possi- 
bly be aware of what was going on upstairs. This hap- 
pened, moreover, not once, but repeatedly, and for 
weeks in succession. If both were asleep when he came 
on his daily round, he needed only arouse one to hear 
the other awake with a start and utter loud cries. 

Magnetic sleep generally does not begin immediately, 
but after some intermediate danger; most frequently 
ordinary sleep serves as a bridge leading to magnetic 
sleep, and yet the two are entirely different conditions. 
When at last sleep is induced, various degrees of excep- 
tional powers are exhibited, which are evidences of an 
inner sense that has been awakened, while the outer senses 
have become inactive. The patient is, however, utterly 
unconscious of the fact that his eyes are closed, and be- 
lieves he sees through them as when he is aAvake. 
When somnambulists are asked why they keep their 
eyes shut, they answer : " I do not know what you 
mean ; I see you perfectly well." The highest degree, 
but rarely developed in specially favored persons, con- 
sists of perfect clairvoyance accompanied by a sense of 
indescribable bliss ; in this state the spiritual and moral 
features of the patient assume a form of highest devel- 
opment, visions are beheld, remote and future things 
are discerned, and other persons may be influenced, even 


if they are at a considerable distance. It is in this con- 
dition that persons in magnetic sleep exhibit in the 
highest degree the magic phenomena of magnetism. 
The latter are generally accompanied by a sensation of 
intense light, which at times becomes almost painful, 
and has to be allayed by the physician, especially when 
it threatens to interfere with the unconscious conversa- 
tions of the patient. This enjoyment has, however, to 
be paid for dearly, for it exhausts the sleeper, and in 
many instances it so closely resembles the struggle of 
the soul when parting from the body in^ death, that 
dissolution seems to be impending. Somnambulists 
themselves maintain that such magnetic sleep shortens 
their lives by several years, and has to be interrupted 
in time to prevent it from becoming fatal. Eecollection 
rarely survives magnetic sleep, but after awaking, vague 
and indistinct impulses continue, which stand in some 
connection with the incidents of such sleep. A well known 
magnetizer, Mouillesaux, once ordered a patient, while 
sunk in magnetic sleep, to go on the following day and 
call on a person whom she did not like. The prom- 
ise was given reluctantly, but not mentioned again after 
she awoke. To test the matter, the physician went, 
accompanied by a few friends, on the next day, to that 
person's house, and, to their great surprise, the patient 
was seen to walk up and down anxiously before the 
door, and at last to enter, visibly embarrassed. Mouille- 
saux at once followed her and explained the matter; 
she told him that from the moment of her rising in the 


morning she had been haunted by the idea that she 
ought to go to this house, till her nervousness had be- 
come so painful as to force her to go on her unwelcome 
errand. (Expose des Cures, etc., iii. p. 70.) 

The power to perceive things present without the use 
of the ordinary organs, and to become aware of events 
happening at a distance, has been frequently ascribed 
to an additional sense, possibly the Common Sense of 
Aristotle. Its fainter operations are seen in the almost 
marvelous power possessed by bats to fly through mi- 
nute meshes of silk nets, stretched out for the purpose, 
even when deprived of sight, and to find their way to 
their nests without a moment's hesitation. Cuvier 
ascribed this remarkable power to their exquisitely 
developed sense of touch, which would make them 
aware of an almost imperceptible pressure of the air ; 
but while this might explain their avoiding walls and 
trees, it could not well apply to slender silk threads. 
Another familiar illustration is found, in the perfectly 
amazing ability often possessed by blind, or blind and 
deaf persons, who distinguish visitors by means neither 
granted nor known to their more fortunate brethren. 
It is generally believed that in such cases the missing 
senses are supplied by a superior development of the 
remaining senses, but even this assertion has never yet 
been fully proved, nor if proved, would it supply a key 
to some of the almost marvelous achievements of blind 

This new or general sense seems only to awaken in 


exceptional cases and under peculiar circumstances. 
That it never shows itself in healthy life is due to the 
simple fact that its power is then obscured by the un- 
ceasing activity of the ordinary senses. A peculiar, and 
as yet unexplained feature of this power is the tendency 
to ascribe its results, not to the ordinary organs, but by 
a curious transposition to some other part of the body, 
so that persons in magnetic sleep believe, as the mag- 
netizer may choose, that they see, or smell, or hear by 
means of the finger-tips, the pit of the stomach, the 
forehead, or even the back of the head. It is true that 
savants like Alfred Maury {Revue dcsDeux Mondes, 18G0, 
t. 25) and Dr. Michea ascribe these new powers only to 
an increased activity of the senses ; but nothing is 
gained by this reasoning, as such an astounding increase 
of the irritability of the retina or the tympanum is as 
much of a magic phenomenon as the presumed new 
sense. The simple explanation is that it is not the eye 
which sees nor the ear which hears, but that images 
and sound-waves are carried by these organs to the 
great nervous centre, where we must look for the true 
source of all our perceptions. If in magnetic sleep the 
same images and waves can be conveyed by other 
means, the result will be precisely the same as if the 
patient was observing with open eyes and ears. 

A lady treated by Despine thus heard with the palm 
of her hand and read by means of the finger-tips, which 
she passed rapidly over the letters presented to her in 
her sleep. At the same time she invariably ascribed 


the sensations she experienced to the natural senses; 
flowers, for instance, laid down unseen by her, so as 
barely to touch her ringers, caused her to draw in air 
through the nostrils and to exclaim : Ah, how sweet 
that is! and if objects were placed against the sole 
of her foot, she would often exclaim : " What is that ? 
I cannot see it distinctly." Somnambulists can, hence, 
carry on domestic work in the dark with the same suc- 
cess as in broad daylight, and a patient whose case has 
been most carefully investigated, could hem the finest 
linen handkerchiefs by holding the needle to her brow, 
high above her eyes. Thus persons have seen by means 
of almost every part of the body, a fact which has led 
more than one distinguished physiologist to assume 
that, under special circumstances, all the papillae of 
nerves in the epidermis may become capable of convey- 
ing the sensual perceptions ordinarily assigned only to 
certain organs, as the eye or the ear. Even this suppo- 
sition, however, would not suffice to explain the ability 
possessed by some magnetized persons to see and hear 
by means of their fingers, even without touching the 
objects or when separated from the latter by an inter- 
vening wall. 

The highest magic phenomena connected with mag- 
netic sleep consist in the perception of hidden things 
and in the influence exercised over persons at a dis- 
tance. Only a few of these can be explained by natu- 
ral laws and by the increased power of the senses fre- 
quently granted to peculiarly constituted or diseased 



persons. The senses, on the contrary, cease to operate, 
and man, for a time, becomes endowed with a higher 
power, which is probably part and portion of his spirit- 
ual being, as made after the image of the Most High, 
but obscured and rendered inoperative by the subjec- 
tion of the soul to the earthborn body. Nor is this 
power always under his control ; as if to mark its su- 
pernatural character, the patient very often perceives 
what is perfectly indifferent to himself, and is forced, 
almost against his own will, to witness or foresee 
events, the bearing of which he cannot discern. Gen- 
erally, therefore, the importance of these revelations is 
of less interest than the manner in which they are 
made, which is invariably of the kind we call magic. 
This is still further attested by the difficulty, which is 
almost always felt, of translating them, as it were, into 
ordinary language, and hence the many allegoric and 
symbolic forms under which they are made known. 
Future events are often not seen, but read in a newspa- 
per or heard as recited by strangers ; in other cases 
they are apparently imparted by the spirits of deceased 
persons. A very frequent form is the impression that 
the soul leaves the body and, pursuing the track of a 
person to whom the magnetizer points, with all the 
fidelity and marvelous accuracy of a well-trained dog, 
finally reaches him and sees him and his surroundings. 
Nor is the distance a matter of indifference ; like the 
ordinary senses, this new sense also seems to have its 
laws and its limits, and if the task is too heavy and the 

MAGNETISil. 411 

distance too great, the perception remains vague and 
indefinite. Most important of all is the fact that, 
unlike spiritual visions, magnetism never enables 
the sleeper to go beyond the limits of our earthly 
home. On the other hand, time is no more an obsta- 
cle than space, and genuine somnambulists have seen 
past and future events as well as distant scenes. Mis- 
takes, however, occur here as with all our other 
senses ; as healthy persons see amiss or hear amiss, so 
magnetic sleepers also are not unfrequently mistaken — 
errors to which they are all the more liable as the im- 
pressions received by magic powers have to be translated 
into the language adapted to ordinary senses. 

Among somnambulists of this class Alexis is one of 
the best known, and has left us an account of many 
experiments in his Explication da Sommeil Magnetique. 
Alexis was once put into magnetic sleep by a friend of 
Dr. Mayo, and then ordered to go to Boppard, on the 
Rhine, and look for him; Alexis, after some hesita- 
tion, stated that he had found him, and described 
— although he had never seen him before — his appear- 
ance and dress, not only, but also the state of mind in 
which he was at that moment, all of which proved 
afterward to be perfectly correct. Alexis declared 
that his perceptions varied very much in clearness, and 
that his power to see friends at a distance depended 
largely on the affection he felt for them. In all in- 
stances his magic powers were far inferior to those of 
his natural senses, although they never misled him, as 


the latter had done occasionally. In the Bibliothbque 
du Magnetisme Animal (vii. p. 146), a remarkable case 
is reported as attested by undoubted authority. The 
English consul, Baldwin, was, in 1795, visited by an 
Italian improvisatore, who happened to have a small 
medicine-chest with him. In the consul's kitchen was 
a little Arab, a scullion, who suffered of a harassing 
cough, and whom his master magnetized in order to 
cure him. While in his sleep the boy saw the medicine- 
chest, of which he had known nothing before, and 
selected among the phials one with sugar of agri- 
monium, which relieved him of his troubles. The 
Italian, thereupon, asked also to be magnetized; fell 
promptly asleep, and wrote in this condition, with 
closed eyes, a poem praising the art of magnetism. 
Haddock's famous subject, Emma, actually accomplish- 
ed once the crucial test of all magic phenomena — she 
proved the value of magnetism in a question of money. 
In the year 1849 three notes, amounting to £650, had 
been deposited in a bank, and disappeared in the most 
unaccountable manner. One of the clerks confessed, 
that although he had received them, wrapped them up 
in paper, and placed them with a parcel of other notes, 
he had forgotten to enter them regularly in the books. 
No trace could be discovered ; at last the magnetized 
subject was consulted, and after some little time 
declared that the notes were lying in a certain room, 
inserted in a certain panel, which she described so 
accurately that upon search being instituted the 


missing notes were found, and the clerk's character 
was cleared. Dr. Barth magnetized, in 1846, a lady 
who was filled with anxiety about her husband in 
America, from whom she had not heard for a long time. 
After having been put into magnetic sleep several 
times, she once exclaimed : " God be thanked, my poor 
husband is better. I am looking over his shoulder and 
see him write a letter addressed to me, which will be 
here in six or seven weeks. He tells me that he has 
been ill for three months." Two months afterwards 
she actually received such a letter, in which her hus- 
band informed her of his three months' illness, and re- 
gretted the pain he had probably caused her by his 
protracted silence. A young lady, magnetized by Eob- 
ert Napier in his house in Edinburgh, not only described 
her parents' house as it appeared at the moment, but 
also the home of a Miss B., in New South Wales, where 
she had never been. In the garden of the house she 
saw a gentleman accompanied by a lady in black, and a 
dog of light color with dark spots ; upon inquiry it 
appeared that Colonel B., the father of the young lady, 
had at that time actually been in the garden with his 
wife and his dog, although some of the minor details 
proved to have been incorrect. She also gave a minute 
and accurate account of the upper stories of Napier's 
house, where she had never been ; but recognizing 
everything only gradually, and correcting the mistakes 
which she had at first committed. Thus she spoke of 
Napier's old aunt as dressed in dark colors ; after a 


while she exclaimed: " Oh, now I see she is dressed in 
white ! " It appeared afterward that the old lady had 
been sitting in a deep arm-chair, overshadowed by the 
back of the chair, the gas-light being behind her; just 
at that moment, however, Napier's wife had come up, 
the aunt had leaned forward to speak to her, and thus 
being brought into the light, had revealed her white 
night-dress. This case is peculiarly interesting as 
proving that the perceptions of somnambulists are 
dependent upon conditions similar to those which gov- 
ern the ordinary senses. (Oolquhoun, p. 626.) 

According to such high authorities as Hufeland and 
others, magnetic sleep enables persons to see the in- 
terior of the bodies of others. He himself heard one of 
his female patients, a woman without any knowledge of 
anatomy, describe quite accurately the inner structure 
of the ear, and of certain other parts of the body. ( TJeber 
Sympathie, p. 115. ) It seems to have been well ascer- 
tained that she had never had an opportunity of reading 
such a description, even if her memory had been reten- 
tive enough to enable her to recall and recite what she 
had thus chanced to read. The clairvoyant Alexis 
once saw through the clothing of a visitor a scar, and 
after gazing at it — in his sleep — for a long time, he came 
to the conclusion that it was the effect of a dog's bite, 
and finally stated all the facts attending the accident 
of which the scar was the sole remaining evidence- 
Even historical predictions made in magnetic sleep are 
not wanting. The death of a king of Wurtemberg was 


thus foretold by two somnambulists, who were under 
medical treatment, and who warned their physicians, 
well-known and trustworthy practitioners of good 
standing, of the approaching event. The king's death 
took place without being preceded by any serious illness, 
and in the manner minutely predicted by one of the 
patients ; a confirmation which was all the more strik- 
ing, as the prediction had been made in the presence of 
a number of distinguished men, among whom were a 
minister of the kingdom and several divines. Another 
case is that of the Swedish king, Gustavus Vasa, who 
was assassinated in 1T92, by Ankarstrom. Accompa- 
nied by his physician, he once called, as Count Haga, 
upon a patient treated by Aubry, a pupil of Mesmer. 
She recognized him immediately, although plunged in 
magnetic sleep, told him that he suffered of oppressions 
of the chest, the effect of a broken arm, and foretold 
him that his life was in danger and that he would be 
murdered. The king was deeply impressed, and as his 
physician expressed doubt and contempt in his face, he 
desired that the latter should be put en rapport with the 
patient. Xo sooner was this done than the physician's 
eyes fell, he sank into magnetic sleep, and when, after 
some time, he was aroused he left the room in great 
agitation. (A. Gauthier. Hist, clu Somnamb., ii. 
p. U6.) 

An occasional phenomenon of magnetic sleep is the 
improvement of the language of patients : this appears 
not only in the case of well-educated persons, whose 


diction assumes often a high poetical form, but far 
more strikingly in unlettered and ignorant patients, 
who suddenly manifest an unexpected familiarity with 
the more refined form of their native tongue, and not 
unfrequently even with idioms of which they have pre- 
viously had no knowledge whatever. All these different 
symptoms have been authenticated by numerous and 
trustworthy witnesses. Humble peasant-women have 
used the most elegant forms of their native language ; 
travelers have unexpectedly recovered the use of idioms 
once known to them, but long since forgotten ; and, 
finally, a real gift of languages has unmistakably enabled 
patients to use idioms with which they had previously 
never come in contact. This phenomenon develops 
itself occasionally into poetical improvisations of con- 
siderable merit, and the beautiful music which many 
hear in magnetic sleep, or just before dying, as if com- 
ing from another world, is, in like manner, nothing 
but a product of their own mental exaltation. Thus 
persons wdio spoke merely a local dialect, and were 
acquainted with no other form of their mother-tongue, 
when placed in magnetic sleep would speak the best 
English or German, as if their mind, freed from all 
fetters, resumed once more the original task of forming 
the language in accordance with their heightened ca- 
pacities. Little children, whose education had scarcely 
begun, have been known to recite verses or to compose 
speeches, of which they would have been utterly in- 
capable in a healthy state, and of which they bad 


afterwards no recollection. Macnish mentions a young- 
girl who, when magnetized, always fell back into 
Welsh, which she had spoken as a child, but long since 
forgotten, and Lausanne mentions one of his patients, a 
Creole, who came at the age of five to France, and late 
in life, when magnetized, spoke no longer French but 
the miserable patois of her early years. A young tan- 
ner in England, also, though utterly uneducated, like 
the peasant-boy of Puysegur, was able in magnetic sleep 
to speak German. Whenever another person, at such a 
time, spoke to him in English, his lips began at once 
to move, and he translated what he heard into fair 
German verses. (Morin, Jonm. die Magn. 1854, No. 

It must not be overlooked that the gift of singing 
and of using poetical language, often of great beauty, is 
not un frequently developed in fever-patients also, and 
in insane persons. 

Insensibility to impressions from without is another 
phenomenon which magnetic sleep has in common with 
many other conditions. It is produced by anaesthetics 
like chloroform and ether, by utter exhaustion in con- 
sequence of long suffering, as was the case with martyrs 
and prisoners subjected to torture, and by excessive loss 
of blood. But in magnetic sleep it reaches a higher 
degree than under other circumstances ; cataleptic 
patients, and even clairvoyants in moments of greatest 
excitement, seem to be in a state in which the nerves 
cease to act as conveyers of impressions to the brain. 


This has often led to unwarrantable abuse ; physicians, 
under the pretext of scientific investigation, inflicting 
severe injuries upon their patients, utterly unmindful 
of the fact that, however great the momentary insensi- 
bility may be, the sense of pain returns at the instant 
of re-awaking. On the other hand, physicians have 
taken advantage of this state of unconsciousness of 
pain, in order to perform serious operations. 

The first instance of a surgical operation being at- 
tempted while the patient was in mesmeric sleep, was 
that of Madame Plan tin, a lady of sixty-four years, who 
suffered of cancer in the breast. A Mr. Chapelain pre- 
pared her by throwing her for several days into a trance by 
means of the usual mesmeric passes. She then manifest- 
ed the ordinary symptoms of somnambulism, and con- 
versed about the impending danger with perfect calm- 
ness, while she contemplated it, when conscious, with 
the utmost horror and apprehension. On the 12th of 
April, 1824, she was again thrown into a trance, and 
the painful and dangerous operation accomplished in 
less than a quarter of an hour, while she conversed with 
the surgeon, the famous Dr. Ploquet, and showed in 
her voice, her breathing, and her pulse not the slightest 
sign of excitement or pain. When the wound was 
bound up, she awoke, but upon hearing what had taken 
place, she became so violently excited that the mag- 
netizer had to cause her once more to fall asleep under 
his passes. And yet, in spite of this brilliant success, 
when Dr. Warren of Boston asked the great surgeon 


why he had never repeated the experiment, the latter 
was forced to acknowledge that he had not dared do it, 
" because the prejudice against mesmerism was so 
strong in Paris that a repetition would have imperiled 
his position and his reputation ! " 

Since that time mesmerism has been repeatedly, and 
almost always successfully employed as an anaesthetic; 
Dr. James Esdall, chief surgeon of the presidency of 
Calcutta, having reduced the application to a regular 
method. Dr. Forbes reports two cases of amputation 
of the thigh in magnetic sleep, which were successful, 
and similar experiments have been made in England, 
and in India, with the same happy result. 

It is probably a feature connected with this insensi- 
bility that persons in magnetic sleep can with impu- 
nity take unusually large doses of medicine, which they 
prescribe for themselves. For magnetic sleep seems to 
develop, as we have stated, among other magic phenom- 
ena, a peculiar insight also, into diseases and their 
remedies. Although diseases may assume a variety of 
deceptive forms, the predictions made by magnetic 
patients, many months in advance, seldom fail to be 
verified. This is a mere matter of instinct, for ignorant 
persons and young children possess the gift in equal 
degree with the best-informed and most experienced 
patients. The remedies are almost exclusively so-called 
simples — a hint of some value to physicians — but 
always prescribed with much judgment and in a man- 
ner evincing rare medical tact. The dose, however, is 


generally twice or three times as much as is ordinarily 
given. Magnetic patients prescribe as successfully for 
others, with whom they are placed en rapport, as for 
themselves, since a state of perfect clairvoyance enables 
them to judge of other persons also with perfect accuracy. 
One of the most remarkable cases is mentioned by Scho- 
penhauer. ("Parerga," etc., I. p. 246.) A consumptive 
patient in Eussia directed, in her magnetic sleep, the 
attending physician to put her for nine days into a state 
of syncope. He did so reluctantly, but during this 
time her system seemed to enjoy perfect rest, and by 
this means she recovered. Haddock, also, cured several 
persons at a distance, by following the directions given 
to him by a patient of his in her magnetic sleep ; he 
handed her a lock of hair, or a few written lines, which 
sufficed to put her en rapport with the absent sufferers. 
Among the magic phenomena observed in magnetic 
sleep we nmst lastly mention ecstatic elevation in the 
air, the giving out of peculiar sounds, and the power to 
produce extraordinary effects at a distance. Even 
common somnambulists, it is well known, seem not to 
be in the same degree subject to the laws of gravity as 
persons in a state of wakefulness : hence their amazing 
exploits in walking on roofs, gliding along narrow 
cornices, or even running up perpendicular walls. Per- 
sons in magnetic sleep have been known to float on 
fresh water as well as in the sea, although they were 
unable to swim, and sank, if they went into the water 
when awake. Dupotol saw one of his patients running 


along the side of his room on a small strip of wood 
which was merely tacked on to the wall, and could not 
have supported a small weight. This peculiar power 
is all the more fully authenticated as persons have fallen 
from great heights, while in magnetic sleep, without 
suffering any injury ; but if they are aroused, and then 
fall, they invariably become subject again to the 
natural laws, and are often killed. This temporary 
suspension of the law of gravity has been compared 
with similar phenomena in science. Thus it is well 
known that a galvanic stream passing through coils of 
copper wire will hold an iron needle suspended within 
the coils ; and an iron ball dropped into a glass tube 
between two powerful magnets will in the same manner 
remain hanging free in the air. The advocates of this 
theory reason that if magnetism can suspend the law 
of gravity in metals, it is at least possible that it may 
have a similar power in the human body. It has, 
besides, been observed that certain affections, such as 
violent nervous fevers, increase the weight of sufferers 
considerably, while a state of trance diminishes it even 
more strikingly. 

With regard to the magic phenomena of increased 
intelligence, Abercrombie mentions the case of a girl 
who as a child had heard a relative play the violin with 
a certain degree of mastery. Later in life she became 
his patient, and in her magnetic sleep repeated uncon- 
sciously some of the pieces in tones very pleasing and 
closely resembling the notes of a violin. Each parox- 


ysm, however, was succeeded by certain symptoms of 
her disease. Some years afterwards she imitated in like 
manner the sounds of a piano and the tones of several 
members of the family who were fond of singing, in 
such a manner that each voice could be readily and dis- 
tinctly recognized. Another year passed, and she con- 
versed with a younger companion, whom she fancied she 
was instructing on topics of political and religious in- 
terest; with surprising ability and a frequent display of 
wit. Henceforth she led two different kinds of life; 
when awake she was stupid, awkward in her movements, 
and unable to appreciate music; in her sleep she be- 
came clever and showed amazing information and great 
musical talents. At a critical point in her life, when 
she was twenty-one years old, a complete change took 
place in the poor girl ; her conversation in her magnetic 
sleep lost all its attractions ; she mixed with it improper 
remarks, and a few months later she had to be sent to 
an insane asylum. 

It is only within the present generation that the 
power possessed by some men to magnetize animals has 
been revived, although it was no doubt fully known to 
the ancients, and may in part explain the taming of 
venomous serpents in the East. The most remarkable 
case is probably that of Mr. Jan, director of the Zoolog- 
ical Gardens at Milan, who "charms" serpents and 
lizards. In the year 1858 he was requested by a learned 
visitor, Professor Eversmann, to allow him to witness 
some experiments; he at once seized a lizard (L. viri- 


dis) behind the head and looked at it fixedly for a few 
moments ; the animal lay quiet, then became rigid, and 
remained in any position which he chose to make it as- 
sume. Upon making a few passes with his forefinger 
it closed its eyes at his command. Mr. Jan discovered 
his gift accidentally one day when a whole bagful of 
lizards (L. ocellata) had escaped from him, and he 
forced them by his will and his eye, to return to his 
keeping. (Der Zoolog. Garten. Frankfort, 1861, p. 58.) 
A Frenchman, Treseau, exercised the same power over 
birds, which he exhibited in 1860 in Paris. He mag- 
netized them with his hand and his breath, but as 
nine-tenths of the poor creatures d ; ed before they be- 
came inured to such treatment, no advantage could be 
derived from his talent. (Des Mousseaux, p. 310.) A 
countryman of his, Jacques Pelissier, is reported by the 
same authority to have been able to magnetize not 
only birds, which allowed themselves to be taken from 
the trees, but even hares, so that they remained sitting 
in their forms and were seized with the hand (p. 302). 


It is well known that somnambulism, in the ordinary 
sense of the word, designates the state of persons who 
suffer from an affection which disturbs their sleep and 
causes them to perform strange or ordinary actions, as 
it may happen, in a state in which they are apparently 
ha]f awake and half asleep. This disease is already 
mentioned in the most ancient authors, and its symp- 


toms are correctly reported in Aristotle. (Be Gener. 
Anim.) He states that the sufferers rise in their sleep, 
walk about and converse, that they distinguish objects 
as if they were awake, ascend trees, pursue enemies, 
perform tasks, and then quietly return to bed. The 
state of somnambulism seems to be intermediate be- 
tween ordinary dreaming and magnetic clairvoyance, 
and is probably the effect of a serious disturbance in 
our physical life, which causes the brain to act in an 
unusual and abnormal manner. It has always been 
observed at night only, and most frequently at full 
moon, since the moon seems to affect somnambulists 
not merely by her light, but in each of the different 
phases in a peculiar manner. The immediate causes 
of night-walking are often most trivial ; as Muratori, for 
instance, tells us of a priest who became a somnambu- 
list whenever he neglected for more than two months 
to have his hair cut ! Eichard ( Theorie cles Songes, p. 
288) mentions an analogous case of an old woman 
whom he knew to be subject to the same penalty. 

While nightmares oppress us and make apparently 
all motion impossible, somnambulism, on the contrary, 
produces a peculiar facility of locomotion and an irre- 
sistible impulse to mount eminences, favored either by 
an actual diminution of specific gravity, or by an in- 
crease of power. This tendency lies again half-way 
between the sensation of flying, which is quite common 
in dreams, and the actual elevation from the ground 
and suspension in the air, which occur in extreme 


cases of ecstasy. The senses remain daring night- 
walking in a state of semi-activity ; the somnambulist 
may appear as if fast asleep, seeing and hearing nothing, 
so that the loudest nqisee and even violent shaking do 
not rouse him; or he may, like a dreamer, be partly 
under the influence of outward impressions. One will 
rise at night, go to the stable, saddle his horse and ride 
into the woods, while another mounts the window- 
ledge and performs all the motions of a man on horse- 
back. Many move with unfailing certainty on perilous 
paths, and find their way in deepest darkness ; others 
make blunders and fall, as Professor J. Feller did, who 
mistook an open window for a door. By what means 
they perceive the nature of their surroundings, is still 
unexplained ; it may be the action of the ordinary 
senses, although these seem to be closed, or they may 
possess those exceptional faculties which constitute 
the magic phenomena connected with somnambulism. 
Thus Forbes {Brit, and For. Med. Rev., 1846) ascribes 
their power to an increased sensitiveness of the retina, 
and mentions the case of Dr. Curry, who suffered from 
this symptom to such a degree that he distinguished 
every object in a completely darkened room with per- 
fect ease. In somnambulists, however, the eyes are 
generally closed or violently turned up; and in the 
rare cases in which they are open, they evidently see 
nothing. It is, besides, well established that people 
thus affected have continued to read, to play on instru- 
ments, and even to write after they had fallen sound 


asleep, and without ever opening their eyes. The sen- 
sitiveness of the retina could here not avail much. A 
case is mentioned of a father who rose at night, took 
his child from the cradle, and with wide open eyes 
carried it up and down the room, seeing nothing, and 
in such a state of utter unconsciousness that his wife, 
walking by his side, could safely draw all his secrets 
from him without his becoming aware of the process or 
remembering it the next morning. At the age of forty- 
five he ceased to walk in his sleep, but, instead, had 
prophetic dreams which revealed to him the occurrences 
of the following day and later future events. (Heer., 
Observ.) Gassendi (Pliys., 1. viii. ch. 8) mentions a 
young man, living in Provence, who rose in his 
sleep, dressed, drew wine in the cellar, wrote up the 
accounts, and in the darkest night never touched 
objects that were in his way. If he returned quietly to 
his bed, he slept well, and strangely enough, recalled 
everything he had done in the night; but if he was 
suddenly aroused in the cellar or in the street, he was 
seized with violent trembling and palpitations of the 
heart. At times he saw but imperfectly; then he 
fancied he had risen before daybreak, and lit a lamp. 
The Encyclopbdie Melliodique reports the case of a 
young priest who wrote his sermons at night, and with 
closed eyes, and then read each page aloud, correcting 
and improving what he had written. A sheet of paper 
held between his eyes and his manuscript did not 
disturb him : nor did he become aware of it if the latter 


was removed and blank paper was substituted ; in this 
case lie wrote the corrections precisely where they would 
have been inserted in the text. Macnish mentions 
(" On Sleep," p. 148) the curious case of an innkeeper 
in Germany, a huge mass of flesh, who fell asleep at all 
times and in all places, but who, when this happened 
while he was playing cards, nevertheless continued to 
follow suit, as if he could see what was led. In 1832, 
when he was barely 50 years old, he literally fell 
asleep, paralysis killing him instantly during one of 
these attacks of sleep. The same author mentions 
somnambulists who in their sleep walked to the sea- 
shore and swam for some distance without being waked, 
and the case of a Norwegian who during his parox- 
ysms took a boat and rowed himself about for some 
time. He was cured of his affection by a tub full of 
water, which was so placed that he had to step into it 
when leaving his bed. In Scotland a peasant discovered 
from below the nest of a sea-mew, which hung at an 
inaccessible height upon a steep rock ; some weeks 
afterwards he rose in his sleep, and to the horror of his 
friends, who watched him from below, climbed to the 
place, took the birds, and safely returned to his cabin. 
In former ages somnambulists were reported to have 
even committed murder in their sleep ; a Parisian thus 
rose, dressed himself, swam across the Seine, killed his 
enemy, and returned the same way without ever awak- 
ing ; and an Englishman also is reported to have mur- 
dered a boy, in a state of unconsciousness, while labor- 


ing under this affection. Modern science, however, 
knows nothing of such extreme cases, and the plea has 
not yet been used by astute lawyers. 

Simple somnambulism is not unfrequently connected 
with magnetic somnambulism, and may occasionally be 
seen even in trances during daytime. In such cases 
persons who walk in their sleep may be questioned by 
bystanders, and in their answers prove themselves not 
unfrequently able to foretell future events, or to state 
what is occurring at a distance ; or they perform tasks 
in their sleep which they would not be able to accom- 
plish when awake ; they compose music, write poetry, 
and read works in foreign languages, without possessing 
the requisite knowledge and training. A poor basket- 
weaver in Germany once heard a sermon which moved 
him deeply ; several weeks later he rose at night, and 
repeated the whole sermon from beginning to end; his 
wife tried in vain to rouse him, and the next morning 
he knew nothing of what had happened. Cases of 
scholars who, sorely puzzled by difficult problems, gave 
them up before retiring, and then, in the night, rose in 
a state of somnambulism, and solved them easily, are 
by no means uncommon. 



H Spiritus in nobis qui viget, ilia facit." — 

Corn. Agrippa, Ep. xiv. 

The uniform and indispensable condition of all mi- 
raculous cures, whether produced by prayer, imposition 
of hands, penitential castigation, or magic power, is 
faith. Physician and patient alike must believe that 
disease is the consequence of sin, and accept the literal 
meaning of the Saviour's words, when he had cured the 
impotent man near the pool called Bethesda, and said : 
" Behold, thou art made whole : sin no more, lest a 
worse thing come unto thee." (St. John v. 14.) Like 
their great teacher, all the apostles and saints of the 
church have ever insisted upon repentance in the heart 
before health in body could be accorded. It is interest- 
ing to notice, moreover, that all Oriental sages, the 
Kabbalists and later Theosophists, have, without 
exception, adopted the same view, however widely they 
may have differed on other points. In one feature only 
some disagreed: they ascribed to evil spirits what others 
attributed to sin; but the difference is only nominal, 
for men, by sin, enter into communion with evil spirits, 
and become subject to their power. Hence the woman 
" which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years "' was 


said to have been " bound by Satan," and when she 
was healed she was "loosed from the bond." (Luke 
xiii. 16.) 

To this common faith must be added on the part of 
the physician an energetic will, and in the patient an 
excited imagination. The history of all ages teaches, 
beyond the possibility of doubt, that where these 
elements are present results have been obtained which 
excite the marvel of men by their astonishing prompt- 
ness, and their apparent impossibility. They seem 
generally to be the result of certain symbolic but 
extremely simple acts, such as the imposition of hands 
— which may possibly produce a concentration of 
power — the utterance of a blessing, or merely a contin- 
ued, fixed glance. The main point, however, is, of 
course, the psychical energy which is here made available 
by a process as yet unknown. Prayer is probably the 
simplest agency, since it naturally encourages and 
elevates the innermost heart of man, and fills him with 
that perfect hope and confidence which are necessary 
for his recovery. This hope is, in the case of miracu- 
lous cures performed at the shrines of saints, materially 
strengthened by the collective force of all preceding 
cures, which tradition has brought to bear upon the 
mind, while the senses are powerfully impressed, at the 
same time, by the surroundings, and especially the 
votive offerings testifying to the reality of former mir- 
acles. In the case of relics, where the Church sees 
simply miracles, many men believe in a continuing 


magic power perceptible only to very sensitive pa- 
tients ; thus the great theologian, Tholuk, ascribes to the 
"handkerchiefs or aprons" which were brought from 
the body of St. Paul, and drove away diseases and evil 
spirits (Acts xix. 12), a special curative power with 
which they were impregnated. (Verm., Schriften, I. 
p. 80.) At certain times, when the mind of a whole 
people is excited, and hence peculiarly predisposed to 
meet powerful impressions from specially gifted and 
highly privileged persons, such miraculous cures are, of 
course, most numerous and most striking. This was 
the case, for instance, in the first days of Christianity, 
at the time of the Reformation, and during the years 
which saw the Order of Jesuits established. There is 
little to be gained, therefore, by confining the era of 
such phenomena to a certain period — to the days of the 
apostles, when alone genuine miracles were performed, 
as many divines believe, or to the first three centuries 
after Christ, during which Tholuk and others still see 
magic performances. Magnetic and miraculous cures 
differ not in their nature, but only in their first cause, 
precisely as the trance of somnambulists is identical 
with the trance of religions enthusiasts. The difference 
lies only in the faith which performs the cure ; if it is 
purely human, the effect will be only partial, and in 
most cases ephemeral ; if divine faith and the highest 
power co-operate, as in genuine miracles, the effect is 
instantaneous and permanent. Hence the contrast be- 
tween the man who at the Lord's bidding " took up his 


bed and walked" and the countless cripples who have 
thrown aside their crutches at the graves of saints, only 
to resume them a day or two afterward, when, with the 
excitement, the newly acquired power also had disap- 
peared. But hence, also, the resemblance between 
many acts of the early Jesuit Fathers and those of the 
apostles; the intense energy of the former, supported 
by pure and unwavering faith, produced results which 
were to all intents and purposes miraculous. With the 
death of men like St Xavier, and the rise of worldly 
ambition in the hearts of the Fathers, this power dis- 
appeared, and modern miracles have become a snare and 
a delusion to simple-minded believers. 

The faith in such psychical power possessed by a few 
privileged persons is as old as the Avorld. Pythagoras 
performed cures by enchantment; JElius Aristicles, who 
had consulted learned physicians for ten years in vain, 
and Marcus Antoninus, were both cared by incubation. 
Tacitus tells us that the Emperor Vespasian restored a 
blind man's sight by moistening his eye with saliva, and 
to a lame man the use of his feet by treading hard 
upon him. (Hist. 1. iv. c. 8.) Both cures were performed 
before an immense crowd in Alexandria, and in both 
cases the petitioners had themselves indicated- the means 
by which they were to be restored, the emperor yielding 
only very reluctantly to their prayers and the urgent 
requests of his courtiers. (Sueton., Vita Vespas.) Pyr- 
rhus, king of Epirus, had cured colic and diseases of 
the kidneys by placing the patient on his back and touch- 


ing him with his big toe (Plutarch, Vita Pyrrhi) ; and 
hence Yespasian and Hadrian both used the same 
method ! 

The imposition of hands, for the purpose of perform- 
ing miraculous cures, has been practised from time 
immemorial ; Chaldees and Brahmins alike using it in 
cases of malignant diseases. The kings of England and 
of France, and even the counts of Hapsburg in Ger- 
many, have ever been reputed to be able to cure goitres 
by the touch of their hands, and hence the complaint 
was called the " king's evil." The idea seems to have 
originated in the high north ; King Olave, the saint, 
being reported by Snorre Sturleson as having per- 
formed the ceremony. From thence, no doubt, it was 
carried to England, where Edward the Confessor seems 
to have been the first to cure goitres. In France each 
monarch upon ascending the throne received at the con- 
secration the secret of the modus operandi and the 
sacred formula — for here also the spoken word went 
hand in hand with the magic touch. Philip I. was the 
first and Charles- 1, the last monarch who performed the 
cure publicly, uttering the ancient phrase : " Le roi te 
touclie, Dieu te guerisse ! " In a somewhat similar man- 
ner the Saludadores and Ensalmadores of Spain cured, 
not goitres and stammering only, as the monarchs we 
have mentioned, but almost all the ills to which human 
flesh is heir, by imposition of hands, fervent prayer 
and breathing upon the patient. 

Similar gifts are ascribed to Eastern potentates, and 


the ruling dynasty in Persia claims to have inherited 
the power of healing the sick from an early ancestor, 
the holy Sheik Sephy. The great traveler Chardin 
saw patients hardly able to crawl dragging themselves 
to the feet of the Shah, and beseeching him only to dip 
the end of his finger into a bowl of water, and thus to 
bestow upon it healing power. It will excite little won- 
der to learn that those remarkable men who succeeded 
by the fire of their eloquence and the power of conta- 
gious enthusiasm to array one world in arms against 
another, the authors of the Crusades, should have been 
able to perform miraculous cures. Peter of Amiens 
and Bernard of Clairvaux obtained such a hold on the 
minds of faithful believers, that their curse produced 
spasms and fearful sufferings in the guilty, while their 
blessing restored speech to the dumb, and health to the 
sick. Here also special power was attributed even to 
their clothes, and many remarkable results were obtained 
by the mere touch. Spain, the home of fervent ascetic 
faith, abounds in saints who performed miracles, the 
most successful of whom was probably Eaimundus 
Normatus (so called because not born of woman, but 
cut from his dead mother's body by skillful physicians), 
who cured, during the plague of 1200, great numbers 
of men by the sign of the cross. To this class of men 
belong also, as mentioned before, the early fathers of the 
Society of Jesus, though their powers were as different 
as their characters. Ignatius Loyola, who represented 
the intelligence of the new order, performed few mirac- 


ulous cures; Xayier, on the contrary, the man of bril- 
liant fancy, was successful in a great variety of cases. 
The first leaders, like Loinez, Salmeron and Bobadilla, 
had no magic power at all, but later successors, like 
Ochioa Carrera and Kepel, displayed it in a surprising 
degree, although Ochioa's gifts were distinctly limited 
to the healing of the sick by the imposition of hands. 
The whole period of this intense excitement extended 
only over sixteen years, from 1540 to 1556, after which 
the vivid faith, which had alone made the cures possible, 
disappeared. It is worth mentioning that the Jesuits 
themselves and most of their historians deny that they 
ever had power to perform miracles, and ascribe the 
cures to the faith of the patients alone. St. Xavier, it 
is well known, brought the dead to life again, and even 
if we assume that they lay only in syncope and had not 
yet really died, the recovery is scarcely less striking. 
The most remarkable of these cases is that of an only 
daughter of a Japanese nobleman. Her death stunned 
the father, a great lord possessed of immense wealth, 
to such a degree that his friends feared for his 
reason ; at last they urged him to apply to the great 
missionary for help. He did so ; the Jesuit, filled with 
compassion, asked a brother priest to join him in prayer, 
and both fell upon their knees and prayed with great 
fervor. Xavier returned to the pagan with joyous face 
and bade him take comfort, as his daughter was alive 
and well. The nobleman, very unlike the father in 
Holy Writ, was indignant, thinking that the holy man 


either did not believe his child had died or refused to 
assist him; but as he went home, a page came running 
up to meet him, bringing the welcome message that 
his daughter was really alive and well. She told him 
after his return, that her soul upon leaving the body 
had been seized by hideous shapes and dragged towards 
an enormous fire, but that suddenly two excellent men 
had interposed, rescuing her from their hands, and lead- 
ing her back to life. The happy father immediately re- 
turned with her to the holy man, and as soon as his child 
beheld Xavier and his companion, she fell down at their 
feet and declared that they were the friends who had 
brought her back from the lower world. Shortly after- 
wards the father and his whole family became Christians. 
(Orlandini, Hist. Soc. Jesu., ix. c. 213.) The case 
seems to be very simple, and is one of the most instruc- 
tive of modern magic. The girl was not dead, but lay 
in a cataleptic trance, in which she had visions of fear- 
ful scenes, and transformed the fierce hold which the 
disease had on her body into the grasp of hostile powers 
trying to obtain possession of her soul. At the same 
time she became clairvoyant, and thus saw Xavier and 
his companion distinctly enough to recognize them 
afterwards. The cure was accomplished by the Al- 
mighty in answer to the fervent prayer of two pious 
men filled with pure faith, according to the sacred 
promise: " The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous 
man availeth much." All the more is it to be regretted 
that even in those days of genuine piety and rapturous 


faith, foreign elements should at once have been mixed 
up with the true doctrine ; for already Caspar Bersaeus 
ascribed some of his cures to the Holy Virgin ; and 
soon the power passed away, when the honor was no 
longer given to Him to whom alone it was due. 

From that day the power to perform miraculous 
cures has been but rarely and exceptionably granted to 
a few individuals. Thus Matthias "Will, a German di- 
vine of the seventeenth century, was as famous for his 
marvelous power over the sick and the possessed as for 
his fervent piety, his incessant praying and fasting, and 
his utter self-abnegation. Sufferers were brought to 
him from every part of Christendom, and hundreds 
who had been given up by their physicians were healed 
by his earnest prayers and the blessing he invoked from 
on high. His memory still survives in his home, and 
an inscription on his tombstone records his extraordi- 
nary powers. (Cath. EncycL, Suppl. I. 1320.) Even the 
Jansenists, with all their hostility to certain usages of 
the Church, had their famous Abbe Paris, whose grave 
in the Cemetery of St. Medard became in 1727 the 
scene of a number of miraculous cures, fully attested 
by legal evidence and amply described by Montgeron, a 
man whom the Abbe had in his lifetime changed from 
a reckless profligate into a truly pious Christian. {La 
verite cles miracles, etc., Paris, 1737.) The magic phe- 
nomena exhibited on this occasion were widely discuss- 
ed and great numbers of books and pamphlets written 
for and against their genuineness, until the subject be- 


came so obscured by party spirit that it is extremely 
difficult, in our day, to separate the truth from its 
large admixture of unreliable statements. A peculiar 
feature of these scenes — admitted in its full extent by 
adversaries even — was the perfect insensibility of most 
of the enthusiasts, the so-called Convulsionnaires. 
Jansenists by conviction, these men, calm and cool in 
their ordinary pursuits, had been so wrought up by re- 
ligious excitement that they fell, twenty or more at a 
time, into violent convulsions and demanded to be 
beaten with huge iron-shod clubs in order to be relieved 
of an unbearable pressure upon the abdomen. They 
endured, in this manner, blows inflicted upon the pit 
of the stomach which under ordinary circumstances 
would have caused grievous if not fatal consequences. 

The above-mentioned witness, who saw their almost 
incredible sufferings, Carre de Montgeron, states that 
he himself used an iron club ending in a ball and weigh- 
ing from twenty to thirty pounds. One of the female 
enthusiasts complained that the ordinary blows were 
not sufficient to give her relief, whereupon he beat her 
sixty times with all his strength. But this also was 
unavailing, and a large and more powerful man who was 
standing near had to take the fearful instrument and 
with his strong arms gave her a hundred additional 
blows! The tension of her muscles must have been 
most extraordinary, for she not only bore the blows, 
which would have killed a strong person in natural 
health, but the wall against which she was leaning 


actually began to tremble and totter from the violent 
concussion. Nor were the blows simply resisted by the 
turgescence of the body ; the skin itself seemed to have 
been modified in a manner unknown in a state of health. 
Thus one of the brothers Marion felt nothing of 
thrusts made by a sharp-pointed knife against his abdo- 
men and the skin was in no instance injured. To do 
this the trance in which he lay must necessarily have 
induced an entire change of the organic atoms, and this 
is one of the most important magic phenomena con- 
nected with this class of visions, which will be discussed 
in another place. 

It is well known that the cures performed at the grave 
of the Abbe Paris and the terrible scenes enacted there 
by these convulsionnaires excited so much attention 
that at last the king saw himself compelled to put a stop 
to the proceedings. After a careful investigation of the 
whole matter by men specially appointed for the pur- 
pose, the grounds were guarded, access was prohibited, 
and the wags of Paris placed at the entrance the follow- 
ing announcement : 

" Defense de par le Boy. Defense a Dieu, 
De faire miracle en ce lieu ! " 

Ireland had in the seventeenth century her Great- 
rakes, who, according to unimpeachable testimony, 
cured nearly every disease known to man, by his simple 
touch — and fervent prayer. 

Valentine Greatrakes, of Waterford, in Ireland, had 
dreamt, in 1662, that he possessed the gift to cure goi- 


tres by simple imposition of hands, after the manner of 
the kings of England and of France. It was, however, 
only When the dream was several times repeated that he 
heeded it and tried his power on his wife. The success 
he met with in his first effort encouraged him to at- 
tempt other cases also, and soon his fame spread so far 
that he was sent for to come to London and perform 
some cures at Whitehall. He was invariably successful, 
but had much to endure from the sneers of the courtiers, 
as he insisted upon curing animals as well as men. His 
cures were attested by men of high authority, such as 
John Glanville, chaplain to Charles II., Bishop Rust, of 
Dromor, in Ireland, several physicians of great eminence, 
and the famous "Robert Boyle, the president of the Royal 
Society. According to their uniform testimony Great- 
rakes was a simple-hearted, pious man, as far from im- 
posture as from pretension, who firmly believed that 
God had entrusted to him a special power, and succeeded 
in impressing others with the same conviction. His 
method was extremely simple : he placed his hands upon 
the affected part, or rubbed it gently for some time, 
whereupon the pains, swellings, or ulcers which he 
wished to cure, first subsided and then disappeared en- 
tirely. It is very remarkable that here also all seemed 
to depend on the nature of the faith of the patient, for 
according to the measure of faith held by the latter the 
cure would be either almost instantaneous or less 
prompt, and in some cases requiring several days and 
many interviews. He was frequently accused of prac- 


tising sorcery and witchcraft, but the doctors Faiselow 
and Arfcetius, as well as Boyle, defended him with great 
energy, while testifying to the reality of his cures. 

One of the best authenticated, though isolated, cases 
of this class is the recovery of a niece of Blaise Pascal, a 
girl eleven years old. She was at boarding-school at 
the famous Port Eoyal and suffered of a terrible fistula 
in the eye, which had caused her great pain for three 
years and threatened to destroy the bones of her face. 
When her physicians proposed to her to undergo a very 
painful operation by means of a red-hot iron, some Jan- 
senists suggested that she should first be specially 
prayed for, while at the same time the affected place 
was touched with a thorn reported to have formed part 
of the crown of thorns of our Saviour. This was done, 
and on the following day the swelling and inflammation 
had disappeared, and the eye recovered. The young 
girl was officially examined by a commission consisting 
of the king's own physician, Dr. Felix, and three dis- 
tinguished surgeons; but they reported that neither art 
nor nature had accomplished the cure and that it was 
exclusively to be ascribed to the direct interposition of 
the Almighty. The young lady lived for twenty-five 
years longer and never had a return of her affection. 
Racine described the case at full length, and so did 
Arnauld and Pascal, all affirming the genuineness of 
the miraculous cure. 

During the latter part of the last century a Father 
Gassner created a very great sensation in Germany by 



means of his marvelous cures and occasional exorcisms 
of evil spirits. He di$ not employ for the latter pur- 
pose the usual ritual of the Catholic Church, hut simple 
imposition of hands and invocation of the Saviour. 
Nearly all the patients who were "brought to him he 
declared to he under the influence of evil spirits, and 
divided them into three classes : circumsessi, who were 
only at times attacked, obsessi, or bewitched, and pos- 
sessi, who were really possessed. When a sick person 
was brought to him, he first ordered the evil spirit to 
show himself and to display all his powers ; then he 
prayed fervently and commanded the demon, in the 
name of the Saviour, to leave his victim. A plain, un- 
pretending man of nearly fifty years, he appeared dressed 
in a red stole after the fashion prevailing at that time in 
his native land, and wore a cross containing a particle of 
the holy cross suspended from a silver chain around his 
neck. The patient was placed before him so that the 
light from the nearest window fell fully upon his fea- 
tures, and the bystanders, who always crowded the room, 
could easily watch all the proceedings. Frequently, he 
would put his stole upon the sufferers' head, seize their 
brow and neck with outstretched hands, and holding 
them firmly, utter in a low voice a fervent prayer. 
Then, after having given them his cross to kiss, if they 
were Catholics, he dismissed them with some plain 
directions as to treatment and an earnest admonition to 
remain steadfast in faith. Probably the most trust- 
worthy account of this remarkable man and his truly 


miraculous cures was published by a learned and emi- 
nent physician, a Dr. Schisel, who called upon the priest 
with the open avowal that he came as a skeptic, to 
watch his proceedings and examine his method. He 
became so well convinced of Father Gassner's powers 
that he placed himself in his hands as a patient, was 
cured of s^out in an aggravated form, and excited the 
utmost indignation of his professional brethren by can- 
didly avowing his conviction of the sincerity of the 
priest and the genuineness of his cures. 

There was. however, one circumstance connected 
with the exceptional power of this priest which was 
even more striking than his cures. His will was so 
marvelously energetic and his control over weaker minds 
so perfect that he could at pleasure cause the pulse of 
his patients to slacken or to hasten, to make them 
laugh or cry. sleep or wake, to see visions, and even to 
have epileptic attacks. As may be expected, the ma- 
jority of his visitors were women and children, but these 
were literally helpless instruments in his hands. They 
not onlv moved and acted, but even felt and thought 
as he bade them do, and in many cases they were 
enabled to speak languages while under his influence 
of which they were ignorant before and after. At 
Ratisbon a committee consisting of two physicians and 
two priests was directed to examine the priest and his 
cures : a professor of anatomy carefully watched the 
pulse and the nerves of the patieuts which were selected 
at haphazard, and all confirmed the statements made 


before; while three other professors, who had volun- 
teered to aid in the investigation, concurred with him 
in the conviction that there was neither collusion nor 
imposition to be suspected. The priest, who employed 
no other means but prayer and the invocation of God 
by the patients, was declared to be acting in good faith, 
from pure motives, and for the best purposes ; his cures 
were considered genuine. There was, however, in 
Father Gassner's case also an admixture of objection- 
able elements which must not be overlooked. The 
desire for notoriety, which enters largely into all such 
displays of extraordinary powers, led many persons who 
were perfectly sound to pretend illness, merely for the 
purpose of becoming, when cured, objects of public 
wonder. On the other hand, the good father himself 
was, no doubt, by his own unexpected success, led to go 
farther than he would otherwise have done in his sim- 
plicity and candor. He formed a complete theory of 
his own to explain the miracles. According to his view 
the first cause of all such diseases as had their origin in 
" possession," were the " principalities, powers, rulers 
of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness 
in high places," which the apostle mentions as enemies 
more formidable than " flesh and blood." (Ephes. vi. 12.) 
These, he believed, dwelt in the air, and by disturbing 
the atmosphere with evil intent, produced illness in the 
system and delusions in the mind. If a number com- 
bined, and with the permission of the Almighty poi- 
soned the air to a large extent, contagious diseases 


followed as a natural consequence. Against these 
demons or "wiles of the devil" (Ephes. vi. 11), he 
employed the only means sanctioned by Holy Writ — 
fervent prayer, and this, of course, could have no effect 
unless the patient fully shared his faith. This faith, 
again, he was enabled to awaken and to strengthen by 
the supreme energy of his will, but of course not in all 
cases ; where his prayer failed to have the desired effect 
he ascribed the disease to a direct dispensation from on 
high, and not to the agency of evil spirits, or he de- 
clared the patient to be wanting in faith. In like 
manner he explained relapses as the effects of waning 
faith. The startling phenomena, however, which he 
thought it necessary to call forth in his patients, before 
he attempted their restoration, belong to what must be 
called the magic of our day. For these symptoms bore 
no relation to the affection under which, they suffered. 
Persons afflicted with sore wounds, stiffened limbs, or 
sightless eyes, would, at his bidding, fall into frightful 
paroxysms, during which the breathing intermitted, 
the nose became pointed, the eyes insensible to the 
touch, and the whole body rigid and livid. And yet, 
when the paroxysm ceased at his word, the patient felfc 
no evil effects, not even fatigue, and all that had hap- 
pened was generally instantly forgotten. The case 
created an immense sensation throughout Europe, and 
the great men of his age took part for or against the 
poor priest, who was sadly persecuted, and only now 
and then found a really able advocate, such as Lavater. 


The heaviest penalty he had to bear was the condemna- 
tion of his own Church, which accompanied an order 
issued by the Emperor Joseph II.. peremptorily forbid- 
ding all further attempts. The pope, Pius VII., who 
had directed the whole subject to be examined by the 
well-known Congregatio SS. Rituum, declared in 1777, 
upon their report, that the priest's proceedings were 
heretical and not any longer to be permitted, and or- 
dered the bishop, under whose jurisdiction he lived, to 
prevent any further exercise of his pretended power. 
All these decrees of papal councils and these orders of 
imperial officials could, however, not undo what the 
poor priest had already accomplished, and history has 
taught us the relative value of investigations held by 
biased priests, and those carried out by men of science. 
"We may well doubt the judgment of an authority whicli 
once condemned a Galileo, and even now denounces the 
press as a curse ; but we have no right to suspect the 
opinion of men who, as physicians and scientists, are 
naturally disposed to reject all claims of supernatural 
or even exceptional powers. 

In more recent times a Prince Hohenlohe in Ger- 
many claimed to have performed a number of mirac- 
ulous cures, beginning with a Princess Schwarzenberg, 
whom he commanded "in the name of Christ to be well 
again." Many of his patients, however, were only cured 
for the moment; when their faith, excited to the 
utmost, cooled down again, their infirmities returned; 
still tli ere remain facts enough in his life to establish 


tlie marvelous power of his strong will, when brought 
to bear upon peculiarly receptive imaginations, and 
aided by earnest prayer. (Kies, Arcliiv. IX. ii. 311.) 

Sporadic cases of similar powers have of late shown 
themselves in Paris, in the interior of Eussia, and in 
Eavenna, but the evidence upon which the statements 
in public journals are made is so clearly unreli- 
able that no important result can be hoped for from 
their investigation. The present is hardly an age of 
faith, and enough has surely been said to prove that 
without very great and sincere faith miraculous cures 
cannot be performed. 


" Credo quia absurdum est." — Tertullian. 

Oke of the most remarkable classes of magic pheno- 
mena, which combines almost all other known features 
of trances with the peculiar kind called somati- 
zation, is known as Mysticism in the more limited sense 
of that word. It bears this name mainly because it 
designates attempts made to unite in close communion 
humanity with divinity, and however imperfect the 
success of all these efforts may be, on the whole, it 
cannot be denied that in individual cases very startling- 
results have been obtained. In order to attain their 
lofty aim, the mystics require an utter deadening of all 
human affections and all natural impulses, and a 
thorough change of their usual thoughts and feelings. 
Above all, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and 
the pride of the heart are to be killed by pain ; hence 
the mystics are quite content to suffer, chastise the 
body, deny themselves the simplest enjoyments, and 
rejoice in the actual infliction of wounds and mutila- 
tions. In return for this complete deadening of human 
affections they are filled with an ineffable love of the 
divine Saviour, the Bridegroom, and the Holy Virgin, 
the Bride, or even of purely abstract, impalpable beings. 


The}* enjoy great inner comforts, and a sense of happi- 
ness and peace which transcends all description. What- 
ever may, however, have been the direct cause of their 
ecstatic condition, disease, asceticism, self-inflicted tor- 
ments, or long-continued fervent prayer, this highest 
bliss is accorded to them only during the time of trance. 
Unfortunately this period of happiness is not only pain- 
fully short, but also invariably followed by a powerful 
reaction ; according to the laws of our nature, supreme 
excitement must needs always subside into profound 
exhaustion, ecstatic bliss into heartrending despond- 
ency, and bright visions of heaven into despairing views 
of unpardonable sins and a hopeless future. Hence the 
fearful doctrines of the mystics of all ages, which pre- 
scribe continuous self-denial as the only way to reach 
God, who as yet is not to be found in the outward 
world, but only in the inner consciousness of the be- 
liever. If the sinner dare not hope to approach the 
Holy One, the repentant believer also is in unceas- 
ing danger of losing again what he has gained by 
fearful sacrifices. The union between him and his 
God must not only be close, but uninterrupted, a doc- 
trine which has led to the great favor bestowed by 
mystics upon images derived from earthly love : to them 
God is forever the bridegroom, the soul the bride, and 
the union between them the true marriage of the faith- 
ful. By such training, skillfully and persevcringly pur- 
sued, many persons, especially women, have succeeded 
in so completely deadening alj physical functions of 


their body as to reduce their life, literally, to the mere 
operations of sensation and vision. The sufferings pro- 
duced by these efforts to suppress all natural vitality, to 
kill, as it were, the living body, rendering the senses 
inactive, while still in the full vigor of their natural 
condition, are often not only painful, but actually ap- 
palling. A poor woman, famous for her asceticism and 
her supernatural visions, Maria of Agreda, was never 
able to attend to her devotions in the dark, without 
enduring actual agony. Her spiritual light would sud- 
denly become extinguished, fearful horrors fell upon her 
soul and caused her unspeakable anguish, terrible im- 
ages as of wild beasts and fierce demons surrounded her, 
the air was filled with curses and unbearable blasphe- 
mies, and even her body was seized with wild, convulsive 
movements and violent spasms. No wonder, therefore, 
that numbers of these mystics have lost their reason, 
and others have fallen victims to terrible diseases. On 
the other hand, it cannot be denied that many also have- 
been eminent examples of self-denial and matchless de- 
votion, or genuine heroes in combating for their sacred 
faith and the love of their brethren. Their very errors 
were so attractive that the fundamental mistake was 
forgotten, and all felt how little, men who act upon mere 
ordinary motives, are able to rise to the same height of self- 
sacrifice. Nor must it be forgotten, in judging especially 
the mystics of our days, that their sincerity can never be 
doubted: they have always acted, and still act upon gen- 
uine conviction, and in the firm belief that their work is 


meritorious, not in the eyes of men, but before the Al- 
mighty. The ascetics of former ages are not so easily 
understood ; they were men who proposed not only to 
limit the amenities of life, but to make our whole earthly 
existence subservient to purely divine purposes; and 
thus, for instance, Francis of Assisi, prescribed absolute 
poverty as the rule of his order. The principal magic 
phenomena accompanying religious ecstasy are the in- 
sensibility of the body to all, even the most violent in- 
juries, and the perception of matters beyond the reach of 
our senses in healthy life. Eigid and long- continued 
fasting, reduced sleep on a hard couch, and an utter ab- 
stinence from all other thoughts or sentiments but such 
as connect themselves directly with a higher life, never 
fail to produce the desired effect. By such means the 
whole nature of man is finally changed ; not only in the 
legitimate relations existing between body and mind, but 
also in those which connect man with nature ; the 
changes are, therefore, as much physiological as psychi- 
cal. They result at last in the acquisition of a power 
which in the eyes of the mystics is identical with that 
promised in Mark xvi. 18. " They shall take up ser- 
pents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not 
hurt them." Extraordinary as the accounts of the suf- 
ferings and the exceptional powers of mystics appear to 
us, they are in many instances too well authenticated to 
allow any serious doubt. Thus a famous ascetic, Rosa 
of Lima, was actually injured by healthy food, but on 
many occasions instantaneously strengthened by a mere 


mouthful of bread dipped into pure ivater; Bernard 
of Clairvaux lived for a considerable time on beech-leaves 
boiled in water, and Maria of Oigiiys once subsisted for 
thirty-five days on the holy wafer of the sacrament, which 
she took daily. Mystics who, like the latter, derived 
bodily sustenance as well as spiritual comfort from the 
Eucharist, are frequently mentioned in the annals of 
the Church. Others, again, succeeded by constant and 
extreme excitement to heat their blood to such an extent 
that they became insensible to outward cold, even when 
the frosts of winter became intolerable to others. The 
heart itself seems to be affected by such extreme elation ; 
in Catherine of Siena its violent palpitations and 
convulsive jerkings could be both seen and felt, when she 
was in a state of ecstasis, and the heart of Filippo Neri 
was found, after death, to have been considerably en- 
larged, and actually to have broken two ribs by its 
convulsive spasms. 

Among the rarer but equally well-established magic 
phenomena of this class must be counted the tempora- 
ry suspension of the law of gravity. Like the Brah- 
mins of India, who have long possessed the power of rais- 
ing themselves unaided from the ground and of remain- 
ing suspended in the air, Christian mystics also have 
been seen, more than once, to hang as it were unsup- 
ported high above the ground. They quote, in support 
of their faith in such exceptional powers, the fact that 
Habakkuk also was seized by an angel and carried 
away through the air, while even the Saviour was taken 


by the devil to an exceeding high mountain on the top 
of the temple, cases in which the laws of gravity must 
have been similarly suspended. 

A large number of holy men, among whom were Fi- 
lippo Neri, Ignatius Loyola, and the founder of the 
order of Dominicans, remained thus suspended in the 
air for hours and days ; one of them, the Carmelite 
monk P. Dominions, in the presence of the king and 
queen of Spain and their whole court. (Calmet, p. 153.) 
There are even cases known in which this raising of 
the body has happened to pious persons against their 
own desire and to their great and sincere distress, as it 
attracted public attention in a most painful degree. To 
this class of phenomena belongs also the luminous ap- 
pearance which seems at times to accompany a high 
state of religious excitement. This was already the 
case with Moses, who " wist not that the skin of his face 
shone/'* and probably of Stephen also, when those 
" that sat in council, looking steadfastly on him, saw 
his face as it had been the face of an angel." 

The most startling of these phenomena, however, are 
those known as stigmatization, when the combined 
power of fervent, exalted faith and an over-excited im- 
agination produces actual marks of injuries on the 
body, although no such injuries have ever been inflict- 
ed. The annals of the Church abound with instances 
of women especially who, after long meditation on the 
nature and the merits of crucifixion have borne the 
marks of nails in hands and feet, an effect which the 


science of medicine also admits as possible, inasmuch 
as similar results are of not unfrequent occurrence, at 
least in newborn infants, whose bodies are marked in 
consequence of events which had recently made a pe- 
culiarly deep impression upon the mothers. 

Unfortunately mysticism also has not been able to 
keep its votaries free from an admixture of imposture. 
False miracles are known to have occurred within the 
Church as well as without it, and credulity has accepted 
many a statement that could not have stood the sim- 
plest investigation. It becomes the careful student, 
therefore, here also to distinguish with the utmost cau- 
tion genuine and well-authenticated facts from reckless 
or willfully false statements. Even then, however, he 
ought not to forget the words of Pascal, who, in speak- 
ing of the apostles said : " I am quite willing to believe 
stories for whose truthfulness the witnesses have suffer- 
ed death." It is even by no means improbable that the 
spiritual world may have its changing productions as 
well as the material world, and as the organisms of the 
Silurian period are impossible in our day, so-called 
magic results^may have been obtained by certain for- 
mer generations which lie beyond the power of our 
own. JSTo one can with certainty determine, in this di- 
rection, what is possible and what is impossible ; the 
power of man is emphatically a relative one, and each 
exploit must, in fairness, be judged with a view to all 
the accompanying circumstances. It is as impossible 
for the men of our day to erect pyramids such as the 


old Egyptians built, as it is for an individual in good 
health to perform feats of strength of which he may 
be capable under the influence of high fever or violent 

A curious feature in these phenomena is the intimate 
relation in which sacred and so-called demoniac influ- 
ences seem to stand with one another. The saints are 
represented as tempted by evil spirits which yet have 
no existence except in their own heart, and the pos- 
sessed, on the other hand, occasionally have pious im- 
pulses and holy thoughts. In the former case it is the 
innate sinfulness of the heart which creates images of 
demons such as St. Anthony saw in the desert ; in the 
latter case the guardian angels of men are said to come 
to their rescue. There are even instances on record of 
men who have wantonly given themselves up to the 
temporary influence of evil spirits — under the impres- 
sion that they could thus please God ! — as travelers pur- 
posely suffer the evil effects of opium or hasheesh in or- 
der to test their powers. Thus mysticism finally de- 
vised a complete system of angels, saints, and demons, 
whose varied forms and peculiarities became familiar to 
votaries at an early period of their lives, and filled their 
minds with images which afterwards assumed an ap- 
parent reality during the state of trance. That the 
physical condition enters as a powerful element in all 
these phenomena appears clearly from the fact that 
whenever women are liable to trances or visions of this 
kind the latter vary regularly with their state of health, 


and in the majority of cases cease at a certain age. 
This fact illustrates in a very characteristic manner the 
mutual relations between body and soul; the condition 
of the former is reflected in the soul by sentiment and 
image, and the soul in precisely the same manner im- 
presses itself upon the body. Generally this is limited 
to the face, where the features in their expression re- 
produce more or less faithfully what is going on with- 
in; but in exceptional cases the psychical events 
cause certain mechanical or physical changes in the 
body which now and then result in actual illness or 
become even fatal. Experience proves that if the im- 
agination is stimulated to excessive activity, it can pro- 
duce changes in the nature of the epidermis or even of 
the mucous membrane, which resemble in everything 
the symptoms of genuine diseases. There are men 
who can, by an energetic effort of will, cause red spots, 
resembling inflammation, to appear in almost every 
part of the body. In extreme cases this power extends 
to the production of syncope, in which they become ut- 
terly insensible to injuries of any kind, lose all power 
of motion, and even cease to breathe. St. Augustine 
mentions a number of such cases. (De civit. Dei, 
1. xiv. ch. 24.) The remarkable power of Colonel 
Townshend of falling into a state of syncope is too well 
established to admit of any doubt ; he became icy cold 
and rigid, his heart ceased to beat and his lungs to 
breathe; the face turned deadly pale, the features grew 
sharp and pointed, and his eyes remained fixed. By an 


effort of liis own will lie could recall himself to life, but 
one evening, when he tried to repeat the experiment, 
after having made it in the morning successfully in the 
presence of three physicians, he failed to awake again. 
It appeared afterwards that his heart was diseased ; he 
had, however, at the same time, by careful attention 
and long practice, obtained almost perfect control over 
that organ. (Cheyne, " Encyl. Malady," London, 1733, p. 
307.) Indian fakirs have been known to possess a sim- 
ilar power, and have allowed themselves to be buried 
in air-tight graves, where they have been watched at 
times for forty days, by military guards, and yet at the 
expiration of that time have returned to life without ap- 
parent injury. A similar power over less vital organs of 
the body is by no means rare ; men are constantly found 
who can at will conceal their tongue so that even sur- 
geons discover it but with difficulty; others, like Jus- 
tinus Kerner, can empty their stomachs of their con- 
tents as if they were pockets, or contract and enlarge 
the pupils of the eyes at pleasure. Nor are cases of In- 
dians and negroes rare, who in their despair have died 
merely because they willed it so. There can be no 
doubt, therefore, that if mere volition can produce such 
extraordinary results, still more exceptional effects may 
be obtained by fervent faith and an excessive stimula- 
tion of the whole nervous system, and much that ap- 
pears either incredible or at least in the highest degree 
marvelous may find an easy and yet satisfactory expla- 



Genuine stigmatization, that is, the appearance of the 
five wounds of our Saviour, presents itself ordinarily 
only after many years of constant meditation of his pas- 
sion, combined with excessive fasting and other ascetic 
self-torment. The first stage is apt to be a vision of 
Christ's suffering, accompanied by the offer of a wreath 
of flowers or a crown of thorns. If the mystic chooses the 
former, the result remains within the limits of the gen- 
eral effects of asceticism ; should he, however, choose 
the crown of thorns, the stigmas themselves are apt to 
appear. This occurs, naturally, only in the very rare 
cases, where the mystic possesses that exceptional 
energy and intense plastic power of the imagination 
which are requisite in order to suspend the natural 
relations of soul and body. Then the latter, already 
thoroughly weakened and exhausted, becomes so sus- 
ceptible to the influence of the soul, that it reproduces, 
spontaneously and unconsciously, the impressions 
deeply engraven on the mind, and during the next 
ecstatic visions the wounds show themselves suddenly. 
Their appearance is invariably accompanied by violent 
pain, which seems to radiate in fiery burning darts from 
the wounds of the image of Christ. As the minds of 
mystics differ infinitely in energy of will and clearness 
of perception, the stigmas also are seen more or less 
distinctly ; and their nature varies from mere reddish 
points, which become visible on the head, as the effect 
of a crown of thorns, to real bleeding wounds. The 
former are apt to disappear as the excitement subsides 


or the will is weakened ; the latter, however, are peculiar 
in this, that they do not continue to bleed, and yet, also, 
do not heal up. In women, only, they are apt to break 
out again at regular intervals, for instance, on Fridays, 
when the mystic excitement again reaches its highest 
degree, or at other periods whe n pressure of blood seeks 
an outlet through these new openings. As such a state 
can continue only by means of lengthened inflamma- 
tion, stigmatization is always accompanied by violent 
pains and great suffering, especially during the bleed- 

The earliest of all cases of stigmatization — of which 
nearly seventy are fully authenticated — was that of 
Francis of Assisi, who, after having spent years in fer- 
vent prayer for permission to share the sufferings of the 
Saviour, at last saw a seraph with six wings descend 
toward him, and between the wings the form of a cruci- 
fied person. At the same moment he felt piercing 
pains, and when he recovered from his trance he found 
his hands and feet, as well as his side, bleeding as from 
severe wounds, and strange, dark excrescences, resem- 
bling nails, protruding from the wounds in his extremi- 
ties. As this was the first case of stigmatization known, 
Francis of Assisi was filled with grave doubts concern- 
ing the strange phenomenon, and carefully concealed it 
from all but his most intimate friends. Still the wounds 
were seen and felt by Pope Alexander and a number of 
cardinals during his lifetime, and became an object of 
careful investigation after his death. (Philalethes' 


Divina Gomrn., Paradiso, p. 144.) There is but one 
other case, as fully authenticated, in which a man was 
thus stigmatized; all other trustworthy instances are 
related of females. How close the connection is 
between the will and the appearance of these phenom- 
ena may be seen from one of the best-established 
cases, that of Joanna of Burgos, in Spain, who had 
shed much blood every week for twenty years in follow- 
ing the recital of the passion of our Saviour. When 
she was seventy years old, her superiors prevailed upon 
her, by special arguments, to pray fervently for a 
suspension of her sufferings. She threw herself down 
before a crucifix, and remained there a day and a night 
in incessant prayer; on the next morning the wounds 
had closed, and never again commenced bleeding. 
Another evidence of this feature lies in the fact that 
stigmatization occurs mainly in Italy, the land of 
imagination, and in Spain, the land of devotion; in 
Germany only a few cases are known, and not one in 
the North of Europe and in America. 

Among the famous mystics who do not belong as 
saints or martyrs exclusively to the Church, stand first 
and foremost Henry Suso, of the " Living Heart," and 
John Ruysbroek, the so-called Doctor Ecstaticus. The 
former, who often had trances, and once lay for a long 
time in syncope, has left behind him some of the most 
attractive works ever written by religious enthusiasts. 
He lived in the fourteenth century, and when, two 
hundred years later, his grave was opened the body was 


found unchanged, and fervent admirers believed they 
perceived pleasing odors emanating from the remains. 
The Dutch divine Kuysbroek was even more renowned 
by his holy life and admirable writings than by the 
many marvelous visions which he enjoyed. The same 
century produced the most famous preacher Germany 
has probably ever seen, John'Capistran, who attracted 
the masses by the magic power of his individuality and 
held them spell-bound by his burning eloquence. A 
native of Capistrano, in the Abruzzi, where he was born in 
1385, he became first a lawyer, and gained great distinc- 
tion as such in Sicily. Unfortunately he was engaged 
in one of the many petty wars which at that time dis- 
tracted Italy ; was made a prisoner and cast with 
barbaric cruelty into a foul dungeon. Here he devoted 
himself to ascetic devotion, and had a vision ordering 
him to leave the world. When he regained his liberty, 
at the age of thirty, he entered the order of Franciscan 
monks, and soon became a preacher of world-wide 
renown. Traveling through Italy, Hungary, and Ger- 
many, he affected his audiences by his mere appearance, 
and produced truly amazing changes in the hearts of 
thousands. In Vienna he once preached, in the open 
air, before an assembly of more than a hundred thou- 
sand men ; the people listened to him for hours amid 
loud weeping and sobbing, and great numbers were 
converted, including several hundred Jews. In Bohemia 
he induced in like manner eleven thousand Hussites to 
return to the Catholic Church, among whom were 


numerous noblemen and ministers. Similar successes 
were obtained in almost every large town of Germany, 
till he was recalled to the South, when Germany be- 
came indebted to him and to John Oorvin for its deliv- 
erance from the Turks and the famous victory of Bel- 
grade in 1456. During his whole career he continued to 
have ecstatic visions, to fall into trances of considerable 
duration, and to behold stigmas on his body — yet, 
withal, he remained an eminently practical man, not 
only converting many thousands from their religious 
errors, but turning them also from vicious habits and 
criminal pursuits to a life of virtue. At the same 
time he rendered signal services to his brethren in mere 
worldly matters, now pleading and now fighting for 
them with an energy and a success which alone would 
secure him a name in history. The ecstatic nature of 
another mystic, Vincentio Ferrer, produced a singular 
effect, which has never been noticed except in biblical 
history. He was a native of Valencia, and, knowing no 
language but the local dialect of his country, he con- 
tinued throughout life to preach in his mother tongue 
— and yet he was understood by all who heard him ! 
This result was at least partially explained by the 
astounding flexibility of his voice, which at all times 
adapted itself so completely to his feelings, that its 
tones found a responsive echo in every heart. In vain 
did the pope, Benedict XIII., offer him first a bishopric 
and afterwards a cardinal's hat ; the pious monk refused 
all honors save one, the title of Papal Missionary, and 


in this capacity he passed through nearly eyery land in 
Christendom, preaching and exhorting day and night, 
exciting everywhere the utmost enthusiasm and con- 
verting thousands from their evil ways. His eloquence 
and fervor were so great that even learned men and 
fierce warriors declared he spoke with the voice of 
an angel, and criminals of deepest dye would fall down 
in the midst of great crowds, confessing their misdeeds 
and solemnly vowing repentance and amendment. 

The greatest of all mystics, however, was the before- 
mentioned Filippo Neri, a saint of the Catholic Church, 
whose simple candor and truly Christian humility have 
procured for him the esteem and the admiration of 
men of all creeds and all ages. Even as a mere child 
he was already renowned for his extraordinary gifts as 
well as for his fervent piety j while still a layman he 
had numerous visions and trances, and when in his 
thirtieth year he had prayed for days and nights in the 
Catacombs of St. Sebastian, his heart became suddenly 
so enlarged that some of the intercostal muscles gave 
way, and a great swelling appeared on the outside, which 
remained there throughout life, although without caus- 
ing him any pain. His inner fervor was so great as to 
keep his blood and his whole system continually at 
fever heat, and although he lived exclusively upon 
bread, herbs, and olives, he never wore warm clothes, 
even in the severest winters, always slept with open 
doors and windows, and prefer red walking about with 
his breast uncovered. During the last ten years of his 


life his body was no longer able to sustain his ecstatic 
soul ; whenever he attempted to read mass or to preach, 
his feelings became so excited that his voice failed him, 
and he fell into a trance of several hours' duration. It 
was in this condition that he was frequently lifted up, 
together with the chair on which he sat, to a height of 
several feet from the ground. What renders these 
magic phenomena peculiarly interesting, is the fact that 
Filippo Neri not only attached no special value to them, 
but actually did his best to conceal them from the eyes 
of the world. As soon as they began to show them- 
selves, he ceased reading mass in the presence of others, 
and only allowed his attendant to re-enter his cell when 
the latter had convinced himself, by peeping through a 
narrow opening in the door, that the trance was over. 
When others praised his piety and marveled at these 
wonders, he invariably smiled and said: "Don't you 
know that I am nothing but a fool and a dreamer ? " 

He added that he would infinitely rather do works 
which should prove his faith than be the recipient of 
miraculous favors. But his prestige was so great that 
whenever he was prevailed upon or thought it his duty 
to exert his influence, it was paramount, and secured 
to him a powerful control in historical events. Thus it 
was when Pope Gregory XIV. had excommunicated 
King Henry IV., and his successor, Clement VIII., 
continued the fearful punishment in spite of all the 
entreaties of king and courtiers. Filippo Neri, fore- 
seeing the dangers which were likely to arise from such 


measures for the Church, and deeply concerned for the 
welfare of the French people, retired to prayer, inviting 
the pope's confessor to join him in his devotions. These 
had been continued for three days without iutermis- 
sion, when at last the saint fell into a trance, and upon 
re-awaking from it, told his companion : " To-day the 
pope will send for you to confess him. You will tell 
him, when his confession is made : ' Father Filippo has 
directed me to refuse Your Holiness absolution, and 
ever to confess you again till you have relieved the 
King of France from excommunication/" Clement, 
deeply moved by this message, summoned immediately 
the council of cardinals, and Henry IV. was once more 
received into the bosom of the Church. In spite of 
this great influence, JSTeri sternly refused all honors and 
dignities, even the purple, which was offered to him 
three times, and died in 1595, eighty years old, on the 
day and at the hour which he had long since foretold. 
That his visions were accompanied by actual somati- 
zation has already been mentioned. 

Our own continent has had but one great mystic, 
Rosa of Lima, who is hence known as primus America 
meridionalis flos. She had inherited her peculiar or- 
ganization from her mother, who had frequently seen 
visions, and when the child was three years old, changed 
her name from Isabel to Rosa, because she had seen a 
rose suspended over the face of her daughter. Much ad- 
mired on account of her great beauty and rare sweet- 
ness, the young girl refused all offers, and preferred, in 


spite of the remonstrances of friends and of brutal ill- 
treatment on the part of her brothers, to enter a con- 
vent. On her way there, however, she felt her steps 
suddenly arrested by superior force, and saw in this 
supernatural interruption a hint that she should leave 
the world even more completely than she could have 
done as a nun of the Order of St. Dominick. She built 
herself, therefore, a little cell in her father's garden, and 
here led a life of ecstatic asceticism, during which she 
often remained for days and weeks without food, and 
became strangely intimate with birds and insects. 
Whenever she took the encharist, she felt marvelous 
happiness and fell into trances ; in the intervals, how- 
ever, she suffered intensely from that depression and 
utter despair which in such cases are apt to result from 
powerful reaction. She died quite young, exhausted by 
her ascetic life and continued excitement, and has ever 
since been revered as the patron saint of Peru. 


Prof. Schele de Veres Works. 


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