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among spiritualists, but they have the root of the matter. They have found the facts, have clung to them, have forced the learned world to attend; and we owe them praise and respect. And crudity and credulity that we find are excusable. Let those—as Myers says -who mock at the weaknesses of Spiritualism "ask themselves to what extent either orthodox religion or official science has been at pains to guard the popular mind against losing balance upon contact with new facts, profoundly but obscurely significant. Have the people's religious instructors trained them to investigate for themselves? Have their scientific instructors condescended to investigate for them ?” 1 The fact is that for the most part both religious and scientific instructors, in the early spiritualistic days particularly, failed to do anything but ignorantly condemn. They have sinned and done wickedly therein; and it ill becomes any of us who are open to that condemnation to cast sneers at the spiritualists who have found truth which we failed to recognise. We may legitimately criticise, after due study, but the thing calls for seriousness, not offhand dismissal.
A movement begun as Spiritualism began, among earnest but untutored folk, must take some time to present itself respectably to our sophisticated eyes. It begins with no advantages of Gothic cathedrals or stately liturgy or venerated tradition. Its truth is indeed an old truth, but the emphasis of it is new. So with Christianity itself. The Early Christians were mostly of the people, and were despised; but their inner force began a new era and lifted man a step nearer the divine.
“Human Personality," vol. ii., pp. 304-5.
The Nonconformists, after the Restoration, worshipped in barns at midnight or in the small hours of the morning, with the dragoons ever on their trail. Their faith was real enough—as is evidenced by the sufferings they endured—in spite of unimpressive surroundings. Religion is never dignified in externals at the start-it is always born in a “stable” or other lowly place, there being no room for it in the busy, successful, conservative "inn” of the world,—but it has its own dignity of sincerity and earnestness. To many, Spiritualism is a real religion; not the mere fact of belief in survival and communication, but the whole body of belief, which is perhaps nearer to that of the Early Christians than is the Christianity of some of the orthodox churches. It is not a worship of spirits, any more than Wesleyanism is a worship of John Wesley. Neither is it merely communication with spirits. As already stated, its first principle is the fatherhood of God, and this is a religious principle. We must not make the mistake of regarding the feature which differentiates it from other sects as its only feature. Whether spiritualism will gather external dignity and freeze into a respectable orthodoxy or whether it will leaven and merge from existing forms, producing a better form than either, remains for the future to show—and, in any case, will rest with its adherents.
Writing in England and wishing to keep to the main line of development-for it is in England that the subject has received most attention from qualified investigators since 1870 or so—I have made no attempt to describe the state of spiritualistic affairs in other countries. To deal with modern American spiritualism alone another volume and a more competent writer would be required. The regrettable thing in connexion with it seems to be that, though there is an American Society for Psychical Research (New York) with the able secretaryship of Dr. J. H. Hyslop, formerly professor of Logic and Ethics at Columbia University, the subject as a whole has been exploited so much by advertising fortune-tellers-mostly, no doubt, mere charlatans and money-grabbers—that educated people have held aloof.1 The Progressive Thinker of Chicago is the chief U.S.A. spiritualistic paper. In France there are a few spiritualistic journals and much private psychical activity, but no strong organisation. (The books of Allan Kardec are the main authorities, and spiritism is reincarnationist.) The same holds true of Italy, where attention has been mainly given to physical phenomena in consequence of the mediumship of the Neapolitan Eusapia Palladino. In Germany Spiritualism has not flourished, occultism and Theosophy—under Dr. Rudolf Steiner's leadership—having been apparently more to the Teutonic taste. In Spain and the South American republics there is a great deal of private Spiritualism, but little organisation, and the same applied to Russia before the War. In Melbourne, Australia, there is a good Spiritualist paper—The Harbinger of Light—and a fair amount of interest.
In New Zealand Spiritualism was forging ahead before the War, with many societies holding Sunday services all over the Dominion, and a paper called The Message of Life. Latterly there has been a police campaign against mediums, some of whom have been fined and even imprisoned. It may be that they deserved it -if of the ordinary fortune-telling kind who are, of course, not mediums—and it may be necessary to protect credulous people from visiting them.
*Mr. J. J. Morse found a surprising and repellent amount of advertising by "mediums and others who were not.” “Leaves From My Life," p. 34.
But the law, both in New Zealand and nearer home, is in great need of amendment. It does not recognise the existence of psychic power, and therefore ignores real facts, and punishes on a basis of ignorance. The Spiritualists' National Union is raising a fund for agitation against the old Acts which embody this ignorant incredulity, and has collected about £1,000. In the United States there is more freedom, with results both good and bad. It is a difficult problem. Some classification, and registration of tested and genuine mediums, seems desirable. Sometimes the police send spies (paid agents) who pretend to be genuinely seeking communication with some departed friend or desiring other help from the medium. In a recent case in America it was decided that this kind of dishonest trapping was inadmissible; and indeed an enlightened magistrate at Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, has, I find as I write this, discharged a medium who was trapped in this way, allowing the defence that there was no proof of intent to deceive, the defendant being a spiritualist and genuinely believing in her own alleged faculty.” All the same, the majority of these supposed mediums are probably self-deceived, or may trade on a slender basis of occasional clairvoyant gleams; and it is not
· Two Worlds, March 1, 1918, p. 66. *Yorkshire Observer, March 12, 1918.
desirable that the general public should resort to them promiscuously. Some of them, for instance, predict the death of the sitter within a given time—this occurred in my case once—and to some people this is disturbing and might even tend to its own fulfilment. However, this sort of prediction is probably exceptional; given only by a foolish woman here and there.
During the War many inquiries have no doubt been about missing men, and most of the mediums probably tend to the hopeful side and may consequently give some comfort in specially trying circumstances. Most sitters go in the hope of getting into communication with sons or husbands killed, and many succeed and derive great help and comfort; but genuine and strong mediumship of this kind is available to the public only in London, and is rare even there. The good mediums elsewhere in the country confine themselves to religious and semi-religious work in their own sect, giving addresses and clairvoyance at the societies' places of worship, mostly on a peripatetic system.