SPIRIT I wish to say a few words here the much - discussed and generally flouted matter of spirit photo graphy. I use the word"spirit"here, not as begging the question, but merely to express what is popularly meant by the term. I have had no personal experience in matters of this sort, and consequently have no opinion on the subject, which is not of great importance. Alfred Russell Wallace, the great scientist, who shares with Darwin the honour of an independ ent discovery of the principle of natural selection, told me that he had carried on investigations in this direction, covering several months. He had a friend as the photographer, and made his studies in a private house. As one result, he said that he had obtained a perfectly recognis able likeness of his own mother, which was entirely different from any photo graph ever taken of her during life, and which, therefore, could not have been a fraudulent copy of any portrait in exist ence. I refer to the matter now, not to raise any claim that these things are true, but merely to say that granting the exist ence of an objective ghost or spirit form, it is scientifically possible to photograph it. This could be done even in the case of a form not visible to the eyes of any person present. The sensitive photo graphic plate can see better than we can. Everyone knows that it is possible to photograph invisible stars. The X-rays are making us familiar with what would have seemed impossible in the way of seeing. It is said that sometimes the name of a ship which has been painted over and is invisible to ordinary eyes will come out in a photograph; so"spirit"photography is not a matter to be treated with simple superciliousness, but, like a good many other obscure problems, is to be studied to find out"whether these things are so," Telekenisis is the technical term which psychical researchers have agreed to use as covering cases of the movement of physical objects which seem to require as explanation some force other than muscular, or, indeed, any kind which is ordinarily recognised by science. I wish to give a few specimens of this kind of phenomena which have come under my own observation. When I was quite a boy, the movement called"spiritualism"was felt in the little town in Maine where I was born. Seances and circles were quite common. Most of them, so far as my observation went, were merely expressions of curiosity, and many of them were con ducted in no serious spirit. At that time table movements were common, even in the presence of many people who did not regard themselves as mediums. Indeed, there was a small light stand in the house which would move, and go through many varieties of exercise, alone with myself. As I touched my fingers lightly on the top of it and appealed to any supposed spirits who might be present to manifest themselves, the table would follow me about the room or lift one leg and rap on the uncarpeted floor in answer to ques tions. In the presence of my brother also I saw table movements which not only could not be accounted for by ordinary muscular pressure, but were precisely opposite to the movements which would naturally have been produced by such muscular pressure as there was. I did not carry the matter far enough to come to any serious conclusion. As I grew older and came under the dominating influence of the religious ideas in which I was trained, I came to regard the whole mat ter as uncanny, and possibly evil, so that later, as a young minister, I denounced the whole business, preaching against it with vigour proportioned only to my pro found ignorance of the whole matter. I have noticed that this is not an uncom mon procedure not only on the part of young and inexperienced ministers but sometimes also in the case of those who are older and ought to know better. Since I began the serious study of the subject in later years, I have seen every phase of this kind of manifestation. I have known
time after time of tables being lifted into the air when there was no visible explana tion save that the tips of certain fingers were touching their tops. These things have occurred not in darkness, but in light, and so many times that there is no sort of question on the part of those who have had experience that such things do really take place. But this is not all. I have seen physical objects move in broad daylight, without the visible contact of any human hands or the presence of any other force known and recognised by science.
I come now to notice another which, while akin to these, is sufficiently distinct and unique to merit notice by itself. This is the fact of levita tion. The orthodox Christian world is accustomed to accept this unquestion ingly when asserted to have taken place in regard to the Christ. They as un questioningly reject it when it is asserted as true concerning some of the Catholic mystics and saints during the Middle Ages. It is testified to as having oc curred in the case of Home, by such a number and character of witnesses as would establish beyond question any other kind of fact. Men have been im prisoned for life or put to death on far less weighty evidence. I find no fault with this, because abnormal facts, even though they be found to be demonstrated at litst, at first demand and ought to re quire an amount of evidence proportioned to the degree of their strangeness. I suppose it will be admitted by every thoughtful reader that if any physical object whatever, however small, can be lifted into the air or moved from one place to another by a force so far not scientifically recognised, it would be the oretically possible to lift objects, however weighty, or to sustain the human body itself in the air. In other words, if there are any degrees of difficulty in a matter like this, we do not know what they are. It merely depends upon the amount of force which is at work. I have seen tables and chairs lifted in a way not to be explained by any ordinary methods, and this a good many times. On one occasion, when seated in a heavy arm-chair, I was myself gently and quietly lifted into the air while a skeptical friend looked on and carefully studied what was taking place. The only possible connection with any human agency was in the fact'that the psychic laid his hand on the back of the chair and raised it as the chair itself was lifted. It would have been beyond the limits of the strength of the psychic to have done this, even though he had stooped and grasped the chair with both his hands. How it was accomplished I do not undertake to say. I simply note the fact as a contribution to this discus sion. It certainly is something that needs to be explained. The late Rev. 0. B. Frothingham was widely known as an ex ponent of the most liberal theological ideas. He was a keen thinker and bsil liant speaker. His prejudices were strong against what is known as"spiritualism." During the later years of his life he had little hope of personal immortality. I speak of these things only to show that his prejudices were not in favour of the reality of any occult phenomena; and yet he told me one day of an experience which was a most remarkable illustration of the exercise of some power which needs to be explained. It occurred in the city of New York. He said that he and six other men sat upon the top of a large square piano, while it was lifted into the air. The only visible cause lay in the fact that a delicate woman touched the top of the piano with her fingers. I should be very skeptical of stories like this, even from so clear-headed an observer as Mr. Frothingham, did I not know that similar things had taken place on other occasions.