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-not for wicked acts towards one's fellow-creatures, but for holding incorrect theological opinions during our short span of a few years—and consequently our saintly old minister did the opposite of what he intended; instead of making me a Christian according to his definition, he made me a Huxleyan.
A rather close reading of evolutionary literature, plus some years of laboratory work which taught me scientific inethod, plus a fair amount of philosophybrowsing and a careful reading of Carlyle, Emerson, Tennyson, etc.—I had not then grown up to Browning-landed me safely in the "reverent agnosticism" which was to be expected; and there I stayed, with perhaps a slight tendency away from the fighting temper of Huxley towards the milder mood of Emerson, until I was over thirty. Then I became acquainted with a certain medium whose queer powers puzzled me. Previously I had, of course, scoffed at the whole thing, even when intimate friends of mine described their own inexplicable experiences. But I was soon compelled to admit that there was "something in it”. I began to read spiritualistic literature, but it did not impress me. The writers were mostly unknown, their experiments were not described with sufficient fulness or exactness, and they often seemed ready to believe anything. Then I joined the Society for Psychical Research, and found what I wanted. Here was real evidence, set out in detail by men like Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Professor Sidgwick, and others, whose work I knew and could rely on in other departments. I read all the S.P.R. publications, and was greatly impressed; in fact, convinced so far as the logic
of the thing went-i.e. I felt that the evidence was sufficient to justify belief in the happenings and even in a spiritistic explanation of some of them. But personal experience is necessary before real conviction of new truth can be attained, when one has remained in ignorance until over thirty; so I set myself to investigation. I sat with many mediums, professional and private, and the result was that I was gradually driven to admit that phenomena certainly happen which ortho dox science does not explain or even recognise, that some of them may be due to not understood subliminal activities of living people, or to still more unknown causes, but that some others point to the agency of discarnate human beings.
I described some of these experiences in my book, “Psychical Investigations,” and in earlier volumes; but the printed records are incomplete, much evidential private matter having had to be excluded because it involved other living people who would object to publicity. If we investigators could publish everything, our case would be much stronger.
In short, then, I believe that the survival of human beings past death, and the possibility of occasional communication, is a legitimate inference from the facts. I do not believe that communication is as free or as frequent as most spiritualists seem to think. I am not convinced that the regular trance-controls are spirits at all; of suspense of judgment. I neither believe nor disbelieve. Those who have had convincing experiences in these departments may think that I dismiss them too lightly. I can only ask their indulgence. I must see and hear for myself, before I can really believe. I have tried to obtain as much personal experience as possible, but opportunities in some directions have been lacking.
of the medium's subliminal, acting as channels for communications from beyond. And there are some phases of mediumship—apports, for instance -which I have never witnessed, the phenomena being rare. As to such unwitnessed things, my attitude is one
The foregoing necessarily egoistic account may enable the reader to discount my statements in such way as he may think fit. Perhaps I had better add that on the emotional side I have little or no desire for personal survival, having been accustomed for many years (in consequence of early hell-teaching) to hope that it was not a fact; for, though not accepting that terrible doctrine, my mind was inevitably influenced more or less by exposure to such insistent dogmatism in my
defenceless childhood, and obviously annihilation was preferable to hell. Later, perceiving that the material universe seems essentially indestructible, I inclined to a similar conservation of spirit though not a continuance of present personalities. The body ceases to exist though its elements continue but are redistributed, and the soul may similarly disintegrate into lower compounds or psychic elements. But the evidence told against that theory and in favour of greater integration and advance.
So far, then, as introspection goes, I seem to myself to be an impartial witness. Mr. G. B. Shaw, however, says that in debatable questions it is best not to listen to the fool who imagines himself impartial, but to have the case argued out with reckless bias on both sides. Well, those who wish to read the reckless arguings of both sides will be able to do so by obtaining the various books mentioned in the following pages, and the opinions of the fool who quotes them may be disregarded.
In this matter of books quoted, my indebtedness is obvious and inevitable. I have endeavoured, indeed, to supply not only an outline of the whole subject, but also to indicate, by quotations and references, how that outline may be filled in by readers who find themselves sufficiently interested. In furnishing this guidance, which would have been useful to me at the beginning of my own studies, I must ask the indulgence of the many readers who-being already familiar with the literature—will not need it.
One book there is, and one man's work, which I have perhaps not made adequately prominent, though quoting it in places. Emerson says somewhere: “Of Plato I hesitate to speak, lest there should be no end”; and the psychical researcher feels somewhat thus about F. W. H. Myers. Without him, the S.P.R. would never have been what it is, many active investigators would never have taken up the subject, and many books would never have been written. Our debt to him is quite beyond computation. Let the earnest student read his great work, "Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death”, preferably in the unabridged two-volume edition, and he will find incomparably the most systematic and extensive presentation of psychical research up to the year 1900, when Myers died. It embodies the results of the investigation and reflection of a man of first-rate ability, who gave his life to pioneering in scientifically unsurveyed regions, well knowing that he thereby sacrificed place and fame during his lifetime. And, in addition to its systematic scientific presentment, it is a literary masterpiece of the first order. It has been well said that Myers's prose is equal to Ruskin's at its best; it was not surpassed, in its kind, by any writer of his century.
If, then, I seem to have said too little in the text about the leader to whom we owe so much, it is because anything I could say would be so hopelessly inadequate. Students must read him for themselves, and they will understand.
Chapter X of Part I appeared as an article, in slightly different form, in the Occult Review for August, 1917, and Chapter VI of Part II appeared in the Hibbert Journal for October, 1916. The remainder of the volume is new.
J. A. H.