« ZurückWeiter »
poured over our troops, and might have England. It is here we touch the weak modified very considerably the tone in spot in the Imperial professions of which his responsible Ministers spoke friendship. They are personal to himof English policy. But for what he
self as a man and do not, except in publicly did the Kaiser must in fair- minor matters of form and ceremony. ness be allowed some credit. We now affect his conduct or policy as German learn that he was active in our cause Emperor. The prevailing sentiment in ways that neither his people nor our among large sections of the German own suspected. He even went so far lower and middle classes is, as he says, as to draw up a plan of campaign for unfriendly to England; and no ruler our benefit, an amusingly officious ven- can afford to separate 'himself for long ture that the Boers at any rate may from the dominant opinions of his subbe expected to relish. Moreover, he jects. If it were worth while we could took the first opportunity of letting the easily show, and without the least inBritish Government know that projects tention of "insulting" the Kaiser, that of intervention, suggested by Russia the good services to England which he and seconded by France, had only conie enumerates have been more than offset to naught because of Germany's re- by things said and things done that solve to steer clear of any "complica- wore anything but a friendly air. It is tions with a sea-Power like England.” however not worth while, for the rea
Now it is the fact that Russia pro- son that the Anglo-German problem is posed and that France was not unwill- essentially one of large and fundaing to entertain a scheme for putting mental facts and is not to be changed, pressure on Great Britain to end the though it may be modified, by the priSouth African war. We can afford to vate attitude and volition of this or forget it nowadays or to remember it that individual, however exalted. The without trace of vindictiveness, growth of the German navy, operating merely as a relic of an unhappy period upon the Anglophobia of the bulk of in our diplomatic history. But the rea- the German masses, is the vital and son why the scheme fell through was enduring fact. No declarations of perthat Germany's co-operation in it was sonal good-will, however sincere, can made conditional on a formal acquies- alter that fact or disguise its profound cence by France in the permanent loss significance. It governs all British polof Alsace-Lorraine. M. Delcassé icy in Europe, and must long continue thought the price too high and the con- to govern it. The increase of sanity and spirators disbanded. It was not from perspective in our national attitude toany kindly feeling towards us, but wards Germany, the abandonment of simply to serve the ends of her Euro- trivial and undignified suspicions, even pean policy that Germany put forward the unreserved acknowledgment of the stipulation which killed the project the Kaiser's personal friendship for our almost before it was born. The Kaiser country, only serve to emphasize the was as willing to sacrifice England for naval issue between the two nations as the sake of Alsace-Lorraine as to sacri- one that involves nothing less than a fice the Boers for the sake of placating fight for life.
SCIENCE AND THE SUPERNATURAL.
For a man of science forty years ago losophy that this unity shall be exto treat the phenomena of occultism as pressed directly in terms of consciousworthy of consideration was to run a ness, as Professor Darwin expressed it, serious risk of being deemed a charla- on Wednesday, in his address to the tan. It is very different now. The British Association, rather than in pioneers of psychical research, Profes- other terms that are unmeaning until sors De Morgan and Crookes, and Mr. they are reduced to consciousness-all A. R. Wallace, have not merely hewn this march of modern thought has a broad path through the jungle of helped to concentrate more and more prejudice, but have drawn after them attention upon the study alike of the a large number of men and women of normal and the abnormal phenomena the highest standing in the intellectual of the human mind. life of these and other nations. Among But this new stimulus to psychology the active psychical researchers of to- would not alone account for the modern day we find eminent physicists such as zest for psychical research. Still more Lord Rayleigh, Professors Ramsay, potent has been the influence of the J. J. Thomson, Barrett, Lodge, psy. transformation of religious thought and chologists such as Professors W. feeling wrought by the combined imJames, Stanley Hall and Richet, an- pact of Biblical criticism and the wider thropologists like Lombroso and Ferri, evolutionary teaching. Among many many of whom have not merely aban- intellectual men of a definitely religious doned the blank incredulity of a gen- cast of mind, the liberative influence eration ago, but have advanced far to- substituted for a creed of dead mirawards a state of positive acceptance of cles, embedded in a distant past, a facts and interpretations which their more living and glowing apprehension predecessors would have dismissed of a growing spiritual order in man and scornfully as “old wives' tales.” This the universe, which not only preserved striking change of attitude is well but enriched the significance of the worth investigation. A nidus for the lunan soul, opening wide the gates of new culture was doubtless furnished spiritual revelation in this life and anin large part by the litter of decaying other. The claim of priests and dogmas, religious, scientific, and phi- churches to an exclusive interpretation losophical, which strewed the latter of spiritual things could be no longer part of the nineteenth century. The maintained, and many busy souls set general trend of the scientific interpre- themselves reverently to an exploratation of nature and of man has been tion of the mind of man in the fuller away from the hard-shell determinist light of evolution. But there is the materialism of the mid-Victorian era best reason to believe that the strongtowards more spiritual conceptions and est impulse towards psychical research terminology. The abandonment of the in its narrower sense came from anolder molecular theories to meet the other religious effect, viz., the shock more fluid demands alike of modern which the new biology had dealt to physics and modern chemistry; the the theological supports of the belief growing recognition, alike from the in human immortality. Many intelside of biology and of psychology, lectual men and women found that, of underlying unity of mind amid the decay of many accepted dog. and matter; the insistence of phi- mas, all assurance of a personal life
after death for themselves and for made genuinely scientific progress, those they loved was slipping from though much deceit and error have them, and that the loss was fraught grown up with it. The evidence of with anguish and despair. It is im- double alternating personality, portant to recognize that this craving stores of sub-conscious knowledge, and for a support for the belief in personal direct psychical communications among survival has not merely underlain the the living, is so strong and various as acceptance of spiritualism by large num- to convince open-minded readers of the bers of men and women, here and in existence of many unsuspected powers America, but was directly responsible in the mind of man. Though the evifor the organization of psychical re- dence of clairvoyance, and of what are search upon scientific lines. Though termed the "psychical phenomena" of tbe research itself has, for the most séances, such as rappings, the raising part, been conducted in a seriously sci- of bodies, &c., involves some radical eutitic spirit, which seeks to banish changes in our conception of the mateprejudice and to apply the sternest rial world, these changes are not really tests of evidence, it must not be forgot- more wonderful than those involved in ten that the desire to ascertain whether such modern miracles as wireless te positive proofs of spiritual survival legraphy or x-rays. No one doubts could not be found was a chief motive that matter, as well as mind, contains of the founders of the study. Cer- such powers as yet unused or undistainly the leading investigators have covered. We do not know that we shown, both in their researches and in are yet prepared to give full acceptance the controversies to which they have to the case of Mr. Home floating midgiven rise, a singularly high standard air between the windows of two adof intellectual integrity, setting, in this joining houses. As a guess we would regard, an excellent example to modern rather set down such cases to collective controversialists in some of the "ex- hypnotism. But our intellectual conacter" sciences. But we doubt whether stitution would not be wrecked if such they have realized the havoc which so "interference” with the law of gravitapowerful an interest is capable of mak- tion were proved to be possible of ing in processes of reasoning so deli- thought-reading, the direct imposition cately subjective as most of those upon of thoughts and feelings by one mind which they have to engage.
upon another, access to knowledge forTwo works before us, both able and gotten, or only known to lower centres lucid expositions of the positive of consciousness, involving, perhaps, achievements of modern psychical re- the notion of a universe vibrating with search “A New World of Thought," by psychic as with physical energy, there Professor Barrett (Kegan Paul), and exists a large amount of substantially "Occultism and Common Sense," by sound evidence. Beccles Willson (Werner Laurie) seem But when we are invited to pass to illustrate this inherent defect of from such enlargements of ordinary their science. So long as the researcher knowledge to the acceptance of prekeeps within the wonderland of psy- monitory dreams, disclosures of past chology, dealing with mesmerism, occurrences known to no one, and the trance, hypnotism, and thought-trans- appearance of disembodied spirits, we ference, he is sufficiently remote from are impelled to pause and contemplate the central craving to preserve a sane the chasm which separates these phejudgment upon the worth of evidence. nomena from the others we have just In those fields psychical research has described. llow future events can be
imaged in the present, how a trance- the very men whose judgment is coolsubject can learn facts that never have est and whose scrutiny is keenest. been known, how a “soul,” having shed Next comes the necessary or contrived its body, can simulate to the senses obscurity of the setting in which the that body and its former clothing- phenomena appear, involving grave posthese things are no extension but a sibility of error in clear and continuous contradiction of the whole round of hu- observation. Then we have to reckon man experience. Therefore, their for the treachery of memory and recadoption and incorporation in our mind ords conducted in an atmosphere of upou the sort of evidence that is ad- excitement; and, finally, there is the duced spell intellectual chaos. It is true tendency to prefer interpretations that we must, as reasonable beings, which support a strongly preconceived "go where the argument leads us,” and deeply cherished idea. The most but we shall do well to scrutinize the thorough training in disinterested scievidence very closely. In this task we ence affords little security against the have the able and skilled assistance of twin perils of mediumistic trickery and Mr. Podmore, whose latest volume, honest self-deception. Both these ele"The Naturalization of the Supernatu- ments abound both in ordered séances ral" (Putnam), is a forcible criticism of and in sudden chance invasions of orthe nature of the reasoning in these dinary experience by the abnormal. processes of psychical research. As As Mr. Podmore shows, among the best we cross the borderland of abnormal attested instances of prophetic visions psychic experience into the realm of or “revenants," where the separate objective spiritual phenomena, the testimony of several eye-witnesses is ground appears to crumble beneath our given, the genuine independence of feet. While valid instances of phan- these witnesses is almost always open tasms of the living and other psychical to doubts, which, in the nature of the projections abound, the ghostly visi- case, cannot be resolved. It does not tants from "another world” who bide seem as if the researches of members our question, batiling both physical and of the Psychical Society have yet surordinary psychical interpretations, are mounted these difficulties, which beset extremely few. The fact that many the task of proving inductively the surmen of intellectual eminence think vival of human personality. Such otherwise carries little weight when due proof may not be impossible, but it allowance is made for the incessant must be very difficult. And we are working of the craving for positive afraid the evidence tendered hitherto is proofs of human survival. There is, not strong enough to convince those first, the selection of persons interested who approach it without a positive bias enough to pursue such enquiries, a towards acceptance. condition which probably disqualifies
All Tangier knew the Rubio, the fairhaired blind man, who sat upon the mounting-block outside the stables of the principal hotel. His bright red hair and bleared blue eyes, together with his freckled face, looking just like
a newly scalded pig, had given him the name by which the Europeans knew him, although no doubt he was Moham. med, something or another, amongst his brethren in the faith.
He spoke indifferently well most Eu
ropean languages up to a point, and perfectly as far as blasphemy or as obscenity was concerned, and his quick ear enabled him as if by magic to ascertain the nationality of any European passer-by, if ever he had spoken to the man before, and to salute him in his mother tongue.
All day he sat, amused and cheerful, in the sun. Half faun, half satyr, his blindness kept him from entire materialism, giving him sometimes a halfspiritual air, which possibly may have been but skin deep, and of the nature of the reflection of a sunset on a dunghill; or again, may possibly have been the true reflection of his soul as it peeped through the dunghill of the flesh.
As people passed along the road, their horses slithering and sliding on the sharp pitch of the paved road, which dips straight down from underneath the mounting-block of the hotel, between the tapia walls, over which Bougainvilleas peep, down to the Soko Grande, El Rubio would hail them, as if he had been a dark lighthouse, set up to guide their steps.
By one of the strange contradictions, which Nature seems to take delight in just to confound us, when after a few thousand years of study we think we know her ways, the Rubio had a love of horses which in him replaced the usual love of music of the blind. No one could hold two or three fighting stallions better, and few Moors in all the place were bolder riders—that is, on roads he knew. Along the steep and twisting path that leads towards Spartel he used to ride full speed and shouting “Balak” when he was sent upon a message or with a horse from town out to the villas on the hill All those who knew him left him a free road, and if he met a herd of cattle or of sheep the horse would pick his way through them, twisting and turning of his own accord, whilst his blind
rider left the reins upon his neck and galloped furiously. In what dark lane or evil-smelling hole he lived no European knew. Always well dressed and clean, he lived apart both from the Moors and from the Europeans, and in a way from all humanity, passing his time, as does a lizard, in the sun and in the evening disappearing to his den. The missions of the various true faiths, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Anglican, had tackled him in vain. Whether it was that none of them had anything to offer which he thought better than the cheerful optimism with which he was endowed by nature to fight the darkness of the world he lived in, is difficult to say. Still, they had all been worsted; not that the subject of their spiritual blandishments could have been termed a strict Mohammedan, for he drank any kind of spirits that was presented to him by Christians, anxious perhaps to make him break the spirit if they were impotent to move him in the letter of his law. Still though he sat with nothing seemingly reflected on the retina of his opaque and porcelain-colored eyes, his interior vision was as keen or keener than that of other men. He never seemed a man apart, or cut off from his fellows, but had his place in life, just as throughout the East the poorest and most miserable appear to have, not barred out from mankind by mere externals as are their brethren in the North, shut in the ice of charity, as bees are shut behind a plate of glass so that the rich may watch their movements in the hive.
Up from the Arab market over which he sat, as it were, presiding in his darkness, just as God seems to sit, presiding blindly, over a world which either mocks him, or is mocked at by him, there came a breath of Eastern life, bearing a scent compounded of the acrid sweat of men, dried camel's dung, of mouldering charcoal fires, of spices,