French, German and Italian Spiritualism

"The History of Spiritualism"
Volume II, Chapter 7
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Spiritualism in Trance and the Latin races centres round Allan Kardec, who prefers for it the term Spiritism, and its predominant feature is a belief in reincarnation.

M. Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail, who adopted the pseudonym "Allan Kardec," was born in Lyons in 1804, where his father was a barrister. In 1850, when the American spirit manifestations were exciting attention in Europe, Allan Kardec investigated the subject through the mediumship of two daughters of a friend.

In the communications which were obtained he was informed that "Spirits of a much higher order than those who habitually communicated through the two young mediums, came expressly for him, and would continue to do so, in order to enable him to fulfil an important religious mission."

He tested this by drawing up a series of questions relating to the problems of human life, and submitting them to the supposed operating intelligences, and by means of raps and writing through the planchette he received the replies upon which he has founded his system of Spiritism.

After two years of these communications he found that his ideas and convictions had become completely changed. He said:

"The instructions thus transmitted constitute an entirely new theory of human life, duty and destiny, that appears to me to be perfectly rational and coherent, admirably lucid and consoling, and intensely interesting." The idea came to him to publish what he had got, and on submitting this idea to the communicating intelligences, he was told that the teaching had been expressly intended to be given to the world, and that he had a mission confided to him by Providence. They also instructed him to call the work LE LIVRE DES ESPRITS (The Spirits' Book).

The book thus produced in 1856 had a great success. Over twenty editions have been published, and the "Revised Edition," issued in 1857, has become the recognized text-book of spiritual philosophy in France. In 1861 he published "The Mediums' Book"; in 1864, "The Gospel as Explained by Spirits"; in 1865, "Heaven and Hell"; and in 1867, "Genesis." In addition to the above, which are his main works, he published two short treatises entitled, "What is Spiritism?" and "Spiritism Reduced to its Simplest Expression."

Miss Anna Blackwell, who has translated Allan Kardec's works into English, thus describes him:

In person, Allan Kardec was somewhat under middle height. Strongly built, with a large, round, massive head, well-marked features, and clear, grey eyes, he looked more like a German than a Frenchman. Energetic and persevering, but of a temperament that was calm, cautious, and unimaginative almost to coldness, incredulous by nature and by education, a close, logical reasoner, and eminently practical in thought and deed; he was equally free from mysticism and from enthusiasm. Grave, slow of speech, unassuming in manner, yet not without a certain quiet dignity resulting from the earnestness and single-mindedness which were the distinguishing traits of his character; neither courting nor avoiding discussion, but never volunteering any remark upon the subject to which he had devoted his life, he received with affability the innumerable visitors from every part of the world who came to converse with him in regard to the views of which he was the recognized exponent, answering questions and objections, explaining difficulties, and giving information to all serious inquirers, with whom he talked with freedom and animation, his face occasionally lighting up with a genial and pleasant smile, though such was his habitual sobriety of demeanour that he was never known to laugh. Among the thousands by whom he was thus visited were many of high rank in the social, literary, artistic, and scientific worlds. The Emperor Napoleon III, the fact of whose interest in spiritist phenomena was no mystery, sent for him several times, and held long conversations with him at the Tuileries upon the doctrines of "The Spirits' Book."

He founded the Society of Psychologie Studies, which met weekly at his house for the purpose of getting communications through writing mediums. He also established LA REVUE SPIRITE, a monthly journal still in existence, which he edited until his death in 1869. Shortly before this he drew up a plan of an organization to carry on his work. It was called "The Joint Stock Company for the Continuation of the Works of Allan Kardec," with power to buy and sell, receive donations and bequests, and to continue the publication of LA REVUE SPIRITE. After his death his plans were faithfully carried out.

Kardec considered that the words "spiritual," "spiritualist," and "spiritualism" already had a definite meaning. Therefore he substituted "spiritism" and "spiritist."

This Spiritist philosophy is distinguished by its belief that our spiritual progression is effected through a series of incarnations.

Spirits having to pass through many incarnations, it follows that we have all had many existences, and that we shall have others, more or less perfect, either upon this earth or in other worlds.

The incarnation of spirits always takes place in the human race; it would be an error to suppose that the soul or spirit could be incarnated in the body of an animal.

A spirit's successive corporeal existences are always progressive, and never retrograde; but the rapidity of our progress depends on the efforts we make to arrive at perfection.

The qualities of the soul are those of the spirit incarnated in us; thus, a good man is the incarnation of a good spirit, and a bad man is that of an unpurified spirit.

The soul possessed its own individuality before its incarnation; it preserves that individuality after its separation from the body.

On its re-entrance into the spirit world, the soul again finds there all those whom it has known upon the earth, and all its former existences eventually come back to its memory, with the remembrance of all the good and of all the evil which it has done in them.

The incarnated spirit is under the influence of matter; the man who surmounts this influence, through the elevation and purification of his soul, raises himself nearer to the superior spirits, among whom he will one day be classed. He who allows himself to be ruled by bad passions, and places all his delight in the satisfaction of his gross animal appetites, brings himself nearer to the impure spirits, by giving preponderance to his animal nature.

Incarnated spirits inhabit the different globes of the universe.*

* Introduction to "The Spirits' Book."

Kardec conducted his investigations through the communicating intelligences by means of question and answer, and in this way obtained the material for his books. Much information was forthcoming on the subject of reincarnation. To the question "What is the aim of the incarnation of spirits?" the answer was:

It is a necessity imposed on them by God, as the means of attaining perfection. For some of them it is an expiation; for others, a mission. In order to attain perfection, it is necessary for them to undergo all the vicissitudes of corporeal existence. It is the experience acquired by expiation that constitutes its usefulness. Incarnation has also another aim, viz. that of fitting the spirit to perform his share in the work of creation; for which purpose he is made to assume a corporeal apparatus in harmony with the material state of each world into which he is sent, and by means of which he is enabled to accomplish the special work, in connexion with that world, which has been appointed to him by the divine ordering. He is thus made to contribute his quota towards the general weal, while achieving his own advancement.

Spiritualists in England have come to no decision with regard to reincarnation. Some believe in it, many do not, and the general attitude may be taken to be that, as the doctrine cannot be proved, it had better be omitted from the active politics of Spiritualism. Miss Anna Blackwell, in explanation of this attitude, suggests that the continental mind being more receptive of theories, has accepted Allan Kardec, while the English mind "usually declines to consider any theory until it has assured itself of the facts assumed by such theory."

Mr. Thomas Brevior (Shorter), one of the editors of THE SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE, sums up the prevailing view of English Spiritualists of his day. He writes:*


When Reincarnation assumes a more scientific aspect, when it can offer a body of demonstrable facts admitting of verification like those of Modern Spiritualism, it will merit ample and careful discussion. Meanwhile, let the architects of speculation amuse themselves if they will by building castles in the air; life is too short, and there is too much to do in this busy world to leave either leisure or inclination to occupy ourselves in demolishing these airy structures, or in showing on what slight foundations they are reared. It is far better to work out those points in which we are agreed than to wrangle over those upon which we appear so hopelessly to differ.

William Howitt, one of the stalwarts of early Spiritualism in England, is still more emphatic in his condemnation of reincarnation. After quoting Emma Hardinge Britten's remark that thousands in the Other World protest, through distinguished mediums, that they have no knowledge or proofs of reincarnation, he says*:

THE SPIRITUALIST, Vol. VII., 1875, pp. 74-5.

The thing strikes at the root of all faith in the revelations of Spiritualism. If we are brought to doubt the spirits communicating under the most serious guise, under the most serious affirmations, where is Spiritualism itself? If Reincarnation be true, pitiable and repellent as it is, there must have been millions of spirits who, on entering the other world, have sought in vain their kindred, children and friends. Has even a whisper of such a woe ever reached us from the thousands and tens of thousands of communicating spirits? Never. We may, therefore, on this ground alone, pronounce the dogma of Reincarnation false as the hell from which it sprung.

Mr. Howitt, however, in his vehemence, forgets that there may be a time limit before the next incarnation takes place, and that also there may be a voluntary element in the act.

The Hon. Alexander Aksakof, in an interesting article supplies the names of the mediums at Allan Kardec's circle, with an account of them. He also points out that a belief in the idea of reincarnation was strongly held in France at that time, as can be seen from M. Pezzani's work, "The Plurality of Existences," and others. Aksakof writes:

That the propagation of this doctrine by Kardec was a matter of strong predilection is clear; from the beginning Reincarnation has not been presented as an object of study, but as a dogma. To sustain it he has always had recourse to writing mediums, who, it is well known, pass so easily under the psychological influence of preconceived ideas; and Spiritism has engendered such in profusion; whereas through physical mediums the communications are not only more objective, but always contrary to the doctrine of Reincarnation. Kardec adopted the plan of always disparaging this kind of mediumship, alleging as a pretext its moral inferiority. Thus the experimental method is altogether unknown in Spiritism; for twenty years it has not made the slightest intrinsic progress, and it has remained in total ignorance of Anglo-American Spiritualism! The few French physical mediums who developed their powers in spite of Kardec, were never mentioned by him in the "Revue"; they remained almost unknown to Spiritists, and only because their spirits did not support the doctrine of Reincarnation.

Aksakof adds that his remarks do not affect the question of reincarnation in the abstract, but only have to do with its propagation under the name of Spiritism.

D. D. Home, in commenting on Aksakof's article, has a thrust at a phase of the belief in reincarnation. He says:

* THE SPIRITUALIST, Vol. VII., p. 165.

I meet many who are reincarnationists, and I have had the pleasure of meeting at least twelve who were Marie Antoinette, six or seven Mary Queen of Scots, a whole host of Louis and other kings, about twenty Alexander the Greats, but it remains for me yet to meet a plain John Smith, and I beg of you, if you meet one, to cage him as a curiosity.

Miss Anna Blackwell summarizes the contents of Kardec's chief books as follows:

"The Spirits' Book" demonstrates the existence and attributes of the Causal Power, and of the nature of the relation between that Power and the universe, putting us in the track of the Divine operation.

"The Mediums' Book" describes the various methods of communication between this world and the next.

"Heaven and Hell" vindicates the justice of the Divine government, by explaining the nature of Evil as the result of ignorance, and showing the process by which men shall become enlightened and purified.

"The Gospel as Explained by Spirits" is a comment on the moral precepts of Christ, with an examination of His life and a comparison of its incidents with present manifestations of spirit power.

"Genesis" shows the accordance of the Spiritist philosophy with the discoveries of modern science, and with the general tenor of the Mosaic record, as explained by spirits.

"These works," she says, "are regarded by the majority of Continental Spiritualists as constituting the basis of the religious philosophy of the future-a philosophy in harmony with the advance of scientific discovery in the various other realms of human knowledge; promulgated by the host of enlightened Spirits acting under the direction of Christ Himself."

On the whole, it seems to the author that the balance of evidence shows that reincarnation is a fact, but not necessarily a universal one. As to the ignorance of our spirit friends upon the point, it concerns their own future, and if we are not clear as to our future, it is possible that they have the same limitations. When the question is asked, "Where were we before we were born?" we have a definite answer in the system of slow development by incarnation, with long intervals of spirit rest between, while otherwise we have no answer, though we must admit that it is inconceivable that we have been born in time for eternity. Existence afterwards seems to postulate existence before. As to the natural question, "Why, then, do we not remember such existences?" we may point out that such remembrance would enormously complicate our present life, and that such existences may well form a cycle which is all clear to us when we have come to the end of it, when perhaps we may see a whole rosary of lives threaded upon the one personality. The convergence of so many lines of theosophic and Eastern thought upon this one conclusion, and the explanation which it affords in the supplementary doctrine of Karma of the apparent injustice of any single life, are arguments in its favour, and so perhaps are those vague recognitions and memories which are occasionally too definite to be easily explained as atavistic impressions. Certain hypnotic experiments, the most famous of which were by the French investigator, Colonel de Rochas, seemed to afford some definite evidence, the subject when in trance being pushed back for several alleged incarnations, but the farther ones were hard to trace, while the nearer came under the suspicion that they were influenced by the normal knowledge of the medium. It may, at least, be conceded that where some special task has to be completed, or where some fault has to be remedied, the possibility of reincarnation may be one which would be eagerly welcomed by the spirit concerned.

Before turning from the story of French Spiritualism one cannot but remark upon the splendid group of writers who have adorned it. Apart from Allan Kardec, and the scientific work on research lines of Geley, Maxwell, Flammarion, and Richet, there have been pure Spiritists such as Gabriel Delanne, Henri Regnault, and Leon Denis who have made their mark. The last especially would have been deemed a great master of French prose, whatever might have been his theme.

This work, which confines itself to the main stream of psychic history, has hardly space in which it can follow its many meanderings in lesser rivulets over every land upon the globe. Such manifestations were invariably repetitions or close variants of those which have been already described, and it may briefly be stated that the cult is catholic in the fullest sense, for there is no land which is without it. From the Argentine to Iceland the same results have sprung in the same manner from the same causes. Such a history would require a volume in itself. Some special pages should, however, be devoted to Germany.

Though slow to follow the organized movement, for it was not until 1865 that PSYCHE, a Spiritualistic paper, was established in that country, it had above all other lands a tradition of mystic speculation and magical experiment, which might be regarded as a preparation for the definite revelation. Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, van Helmont, and Jacob Boehme are all among the pioneers of the spirit, feeling their way out of matter, however vague the goal they may have reached. Something more definite was attained by Mesmer, who did most of his work in Vienna in the latter part of the eighteenth century. However mistaken in some of his inferences, he was the prime mover in bringing the dissociation of soul and body before the actual senses of mankind, and a native of Strasbourg, M. de Puysegur carried his work one step farther and opened up the wonders of clairvoyance. Jung Stilling and Dr. Justinus Kerner are names which must always be associated with the development of human knowledge along this mist-girt path. The actual announcement of spirit communication was received with mingled interest and scepticism, and it was long before any authoritative voices were raised in its defence. Finally, the matter was brought prominently forward when Slade made his historical visit in 1877. After viewing and testing his performances, he obtained at Leipzig the endorsement of six professors as to their genuine objective character. These were Zollner, Fechner and Scheibner of Leipzig, Weber of Gottingen, Fichte of Stuttgart, and Ulrici of Halle. As these testimonials were reinforced by an affidavit from Bellachini, the chief conjurer of Germany, that there was no possibility of trickery, a considerable effect was produced upon the public mind, which was increased by the subsequent adhesion of two eminent Russians, Aksakof the statesman, and Professor Butlerof of St. Petersburg University. The cult does not appear, however, to have found a congenial soil in that bureaucratic and military land. Save for the name of Carl du Prel, one can recall none other which is associated with the higher phases of the movement.

Baron Carl du Prel, of Munich, began his career as a student of mysticism, and in his first work* he deals not with Spiritualism but rather with the latent powers of man, the phenomena of dream, of trance, and of the hypnotic sleep. In another treatise, however, "A Problem for Conjurers," he gives a closely reasoned account of the steps which led him to a full belief in the truth of Spiritualism. In this book, while admitting that scientific men and philosophers may not be the best people to detect trickery, he reminds the reader that Bosco, Houdin, Bellachini, and other skilled conjurers have declared those mediums whom they have investigated to be free from imposture. Du Prel was not content, as so many are, to take second-hand evidence, but he had a number of sittings with Eglinton, and later with Eusapia Palladino. He gave particular attention to the phenomenon of psychography (slate writing) and he says of it:

* "Philosophy of Mysticism," 2 Vols. (1889). Trans. by C. C. Massey.

One thing is clear, that is, that Psychography must be ascribed to a transcendental origin. We shall find (1) that the hypothesis of prepared slates is inadmissible. (2) The place on which the writing is found is quite inaccessible to the hands of the medium. In some cases the double slate is securely locked, leaving only room inside for the tiny morsel of slate pencil. (3) That the writing is actually done at the time. (4) That the medium is not writing. (5) The writing must be actually done with the morsel of slate, or lead pencil. (6) The writing is done by an intelligent being, since the answers are exactly pertinent to the questions. (7) This being can read, write, and understand the language of human beings, frequently such as is unknown to the medium.

(8) It strongly resembles a human being, as well in the degree of its intelligence as in the mistakes sometimes made. These beings are, therefore, although invisible, of human nature or species. It is no use whatever to fight against this proposition. (9) If these beings speak, they do so in human language. If they are asked who they are, they answer that they are beings who have left this world. (10) Where these appearances become partly visible, perhaps only their hands, the hands seen are of human form. (11) When these things become entirely visible, they show the human form and countenance. Spiritualism must be investigated by science. I should look upon myself as a coward if I did not openly express my convictions.

Du Prel emphasizes the fact that his convictions do not rest on results obtained with professional mediums. He states that he knows three private mediums "in whose presence direct writing not only takes place inside double slates, but is done in inaccessible places."

"In these circumstances," he says dryly, "the question 'Medium or Conjurer?' seems to me to stir up a great deal more dust than it deserves," a remark some psychical researchers might take to heart.

It is interesting to note that du Prel proclaims the assertion that the messages are only silly and trivial to be entirely unjustified by his experience, while at the same time he asserts that he has found no traces of superhuman intelligence, but of course, before pronouncing upon such a point, one has to determine how a superhuman intelligence could be distinguished and how far it would be intelligible to our brains. Speaking of materialization, du Prel says:

When these things become entirely visible in the dark room, in which case the medium himself sits among the chain formed by the circle, they show the human form and countenance. It is very easily said that in this case it is the medium himself who is masquerading. But when the medium speaks from his seat; when his neighbours on either side declare that they have hold of his hands, and at the same time I see a figure standing close to me; when this figure illumines his face with the air exhausted glass tube filled with quicksilver, lying on the table-the light produced by shaking which not impeding the phenomena-so that I can see it distinctly, then the collective evidence of the facts I have narrated proves to me the necessity of the existence of a transcendental being, even if thereby all the conclusions I have come to during twenty years of work and study should be thrown overboard. Since, however, on the contrary, my views (as set forth in my "Philosophy of Mysticism ") have taken quite another course and are only further justified by these experiences, I find as little subjective grounds for combating these facts as objective ones.

He adds:

I now have the empirical experience of the existence of such transcendental beings, which I am convinced of by the evidence of my senses of sight, hearing, and feeling, as well as by their own intelligent communications. Under these circumstances, being led by two methods of inquiry to the self-same goal, I must indeed be abandoned of the gods if I did not recognize the fact of the immortality-or rather let us say, since the proofs do not extend farther-the continued existence of man after death.

Carl du Prel died in 1899. His contribution to the subject is probably the greatest yet made by any German. On the other hand, a formidable opponent was found there in Eduard von Hartmann, author of "The Philosophy of the Unconscious," who wrote a brochure in 1885 called "Spiritism." Commenting upon this performance, C. C. Massey wrote*:

* LIGHT, 1885, p. 404. It should be noted that Charles Carlton Massey, the barrister, and Gerald Massey, the poet, are separate people with nothing in common save that both were Spiritualists.

Now for the first time, a man of commanding intellectual position has dealt fairly by us as an opponent. He has taken the trouble to get up the facts, if not quite thoroughly, at least to an extent that indisputably qualifies him for critical examination. And while formally declining an unreserved acceptance of the evidence, he has come to the conclusion that the existence in the human organism of more forces and capacities than exact science has investigated is sufficiently accredited by historical and contemporary testimony. He even urges research by State-appointed and paid commissions. He repudiates, with all the authority of a philosopher and man of science, the supposition that the facts are a priori incredible or "contrary to the laws of nature." He exposes the irrelevance of "exposures," and blows to the winds the stupid parallel between mediums and conjurers. And if his application of the psychology of somnambulism to the phenomena results, in his view, in "ruling out" spirits altogether, on the other hand it contains information to the public which is highly important for the protection of mediums.

Massey says further that from the standpoint of von Hartmann's philosophy the agency of spirits is inadmissible, and personal immortality is a delusion. "The issue of psychological philosophy is now between his school and that of du Prel and Hellenbach."

Alexander Aksakof replied to von Hartmann in his monthly journal Psychische Studien.

Aksakof points out that Hartmann had no practical experience whatever, that he bestowed insufficient attention to phenomena which did not fit into his mode of explanation, and that there were many phenomena which were quite unknown to him. Hartmann, for instance, did not believe in the objectivity of materialization phenomena. Aksakof ably sets out with full details a number of cases which decidedly negative Hartmann's conclusions.

Aksakof refers to Baron Lazar Hellenbach, a Spiritualist, as the first philosophical investigator of the phenomena in Germany, and says: "Zollner's ad mission of the reality of the mediumistic phenomena produced in Germany an immense sensation." In many ways it would appear that von Hartmann wrote with an imperfect knowledge of the subject.

Germany has produced few great mediums, unless Frau Anna Rothe can be classed as such. It is possible that this woman resorted to fraud when her psychic powers failed her, but that she had such powers in a high degree is clearly shown by the evidence at the trial after her alleged "exposure" in 1902.

The medium, after being kept in prison for twelve months and three weeks before being brought to trial, was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment and a fine of five hundred marks. At the trial many people of standing gave evidence in her favour, among whom were Herr Stocker, former Court Chaplain, and Judge Sulzers, president of the High Court of Appeal, Zurich. The judge stated on oath that Frau Rothe put him in communication with the spirits of his wife and father, who said things to him which the medium could not possibly have invented, because they dealt with matters unknown to any mortal. He also declared that flowers of the rarest kind were produced out of the air in a room flooded with light. His evidence caused a sensation.

It is clear that the result of the trial was a foregone conclusion. It was a repetition of the position of the magistrate, Mr. Flowers, in the Slade case. The German legal luminary in his preliminary address said:

The Court cannot allow itself to criticize the Spiritistic theory, for it must be acknowledged that science, with the generality of men of culture, declares supernatural manifestations to be impossible.

In the face of that no evidence could have any weight.

Of recent years two names stand out in connexion with the subject. The one is Dr. Schrenck Notzing, of Munich, whose fine laboratory work has been already treated in the chapter on Ectoplasm. The other is the famous Dr. Hans Driesch, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig. He has recently declared that "the actuality of psychical phenomena is doubted to-day only by the incorrigible dogmatist." He made this statement in the course of a lecture at the London University in 1924, afterwards published in The Quest.* He went on to say:

* July, 1924.

These phenomena have had, however, a hard struggle to gain recognition; and the chief reason why they have had to fight so strenuously, is because they utterly refused to dovetail with orthodox psychology and natural science, such as these both were, up to the end of last century, at any rate.

Professor Driesch points out that natural science and psychology have undergone a radical change since the beginning of the present century, and proceeds to show how psychical phenomena link up with "normal" natural sciences. He remarks that if the latter refused to recognize their kinship with the former, it would make no difference to the truth of psychical phenomena. He shows, with various biological illustrations, how the mechanistic theory is overthrown. He expounds his vitalistic theory "to establish a closer contact between the phenomena of normal biology and the physical phenomena in the domain of psychical research."

Italy has, in some ways, been superior to all other European states in its treatment of Spiritualism-and this in spite of the constant opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, which has most illogically stigmatized as diabolism in others that which it has claimed as a special mark of sanctity in itself. The Acta Sanctorum are one long chronicle of psychic phenomena with levitations, apports, prophecy, and all the other signs of mediumistic power. This Church has, however, always persecuted Spiritualism. Powerful as it is, it will find in time that it has encountered something stronger than itself.

Of modern Italians the great Mazzini was a Spiritualist in days when Spiritualism had hardly formulated itself, and his associate Garibaldi was president of a psychic society. In a letter to a friend in 1849, Mazzini sketched his religio-philosophical system which curiously foreshadowed the more recent Spiritualistic view. He substituted a temporary purgatory for an eternal hell, postulated a bond of union between this world and the next, defined a hierarchy of spiritual beings, and foresaw a continual progression towards supreme perfection.

Italy has been very rich in mediums, but she has been even more fortunate in having men of science who were wise enough to follow facts wherever they might lead. Among these numerous investigators, all of whom were convinced of the reality of psychic phenomena, though it cannot be claimed that all accepted the Spiritualistic view, there are to be found such names as Ermacora, Schiaparelli, Lombroso, Bozzano, Morselli, Chiaia, Pictet, Foa, Porro, Brofferio, Bottazzi, and many others. They have had the advantage of a wonderful subject in Eusapia Palladino, as has already been described, but there have been a succession of other powerful mediums, including such names as Politi, Carancini, Zuccarini, Lucia Sordi, and especially Linda Gazzera. Here as elsewhere, however, the first impulse came from the English-speaking countries. It was the visit of D. D. Home to Florence in 1855, and the subsequent visit of Mrs. Guppy in 1868 which opened the furrow. Signor Damiani was the first great investigator, and it was he who in 1872 discovered the powers of Palladino.

Damiani's mantle fell upon Dr. G. B. Ermacora, who was founder and co-editor with Dr. Finzi of the RIVISTA DI STUDI PSICHICI. He died at Rovigo in his fortieth year at the hand of a homicide-a very great loss to the cause. His adhesion to it, and his enthusiasm, drew in others of equal standing. Thus Porro, in his glowing obituary, wrote:

Lombroso found himself at Milan with three young physicists, entirely devoid of all prejudice, Ermacora, Finzi and Gerosa, with two profound thinkers who had already exhausted the philosophical side of the question, the German du Prel and the Russian Aksakof, with another philosopher of acute mind and vast learning, Brofferio; and lastly, with a great astronomer, Schiaparelli, and with an able physiologist, Richet.

He adds:

It would be difficult to collect a better assortment of learned men giving the necessary guarantees of seriousness, of varied competence, of technical ability in experimenting, of sagacity and prudence in corning to conclusions.

He continues:

While Brofferio, by his weighty book "Per to Spiritismo" (Milan, 1892), demolished one by one the arguments of the opposite side, collecting, co-ordinating, and classifying with incomparable dialectical skill the proofs in favour of his thesis, Ermacora applied to its demonstration all the resources of a robust mind trained to the use of the experimental method; and he took so much pleasure in this new and fertile study, that he entirely abandoned those researches in electricity which had already caused him to be looked upon as a successor to Faraday and Maxwell.

Dr. Ercole Chiaia, who died in 1905, was also an ardent worker and propagandist to whom many distinguished men of European reputation owed their first knowledge of psychical phenomena, among others, Lombroso, Professor Bianchi of the University of Naples, Schiaparelli, Flournoy, Professor Porro of the University of Genoa, and Colonel de Rochas. Lombroso wrote of him:

You are right to honour highly the memory of Ercole Chiaia. In a country where there is such a horror of what is new, it required great courage and a noble soul to become the apostle of theories which have met with ridicule, and to do so with that tenacity, that energy, which always characterized Chiaia. It is to him that many owe-myself among others-the privilege of seeing a new world open out to psychical investigation-and this by the only way which exists to convince men of culture, that is to say, by direct observation.

Sardou, Richet, and Morselli also paid tributes to the work of Chiaia.*

* "Annals of Psychical Science," Vol, II. (1905), pp. 261-262.

Chiaia did an important work in leading Lombroso, the eminent alienist, to investigate the subject. After his first experiments with Eusapia Palladino, in March, 1891, Lombroso wrote:

I am quite ashamed and grieved at having opposed with so much tenacity the possibility of the so-called Spiritistic facts.

At first he only gave his assent to the facts, while still opposed to the theory associated with them. But even this partial admission caused a sensation in Italy and throughout the world. Aksakof wrote to Dr. Chiaia: "Glory to M. Lombroso for his noble words! Glory to you for your devotion!"

Lombroso affords a good example of the conversion of an utter materialist, after a long and careful examination of the facts. In 1900 he wrote to Professor Falcomer:

I am like a little pebble on the beach. As yet I am uncovered, but I feel that each tide draws me a little closer to the sea.

He ended, as we know, by becoming a complete believer, a convinced Spiritualist, and published his celebrated book, "After Death-What?"

Ernesto Bozzano, who was born in Genoa in 1862, has devoted thirty years to psychical research, embodying his conclusions in thirty long monographs. He will be remembered for his incisive criticism* of Mr. Podmore's slighting references to Mr. Stainton Moses. It is entitled, "A Defence of William Stainton Moses." Bozzano, in company with Professors Morselli and Porro, had a long series of experiments with Eusapia Palladino. After consideration of the subjective and objective phenomena, he was led "logically and of necessity" to give full adherence to the Spiritistic hypothesis.

* "Annals of Psychical Science," Vol. I. (1905), pp. 75-129.

Enrico Morselli, Professor of Psychiatry at Genoa, was for many years, as he himself says, a bitter sceptic with regard to the objective reality of psychic phenomena. From 1901 onwards he had thirty sittings with Eusapia Palladino, and became completely convinced of the facts, if not of the spirit theory. He published his observations in a book which Professor Richet describes as "a model of erudition" ("Psicologia e Spiritismo," 2 Vols., Turin, 1908). Lombroso, is a very generous review* of this book, refers to the author's scepticism regarding certain phenomena he observed.

* "Annals of Psychical Science," Vol. VII. (1908), p. 376. Helene Smith, the medium in Flournoy's book, "From India to the Planet Mars."

Yes. Morselli commits the same fault as Flournoy with Miss Smith, of torturing his own strong ingenuity to find not true and not credible the things which he himself declares that he saw, and which really occurred. For instance, during the first few days after the apparition of his own mother, he admitted to me that he had seen her and had quite a conversation in gestures with her, in which she pointed almost with bitterness to his spectacles and his partially bald head, and made him remember how long ago she had left him a fine, bold young man.

When Morselli asked his mother for a proof of identity, she touched his forehead with her hand, seeking for a wart there, but because she first touched the right side and then the left, on which the wart really was, Morselli would not accept this as evidence of his mother's presence. Lombroso, with more experience, points out to him the awkwardness of spirits using the instrumentality of a medium for the first time. The truth was that Morselli had, strangely enough, the utmost repugnance to the appearance of his mother through a medium against his will. Lombroso cannot understand this feeling. He says:

I confess that I not only do not share it, but, on the contrary, when I saw my mother again, I felt one of the most pleasing inward excitements of my life, a pleasure that was almost a spasm, which aroused a sense, not of resentment, but of gratitude to the medium who threw my mother again into my arms after so many years, and this great event caused me to forget, not once, but many times, the humble position of Eusapia, who had done for me, even were it purely automatically, that which no giant in power and thought could ever have done.

Morselli is in much the same position as Professor Richet with regard to psychical research, but, like the latter distinguished scientist, he has been the means of powerfully influencing public opinion to a more enlightened view of the subject.

Morselli speaks strongly about the neglect of science. Writing in 1907, he says:

The question of Spiritism has been discussed for over fifty years; and although no one can at present foresee when it will be settled, all are now agreed in assigning to it great importance among the problems left as a legacy by the nineteenth century to the twentieth. Meanwhile, no one can fail to recognize that Spiritism is a strong current or tendency in contemporary thought. If for many years academic science has depreciated the whole category of facts which Spiritism has, for good or ill, rightly or wrongly, absorbed and assimilated, to form the elements of its doctrinal system, so much the worse for science! And worse still for the scientists who have remained deaf and blind before all the affirmations, not of credulous sectarians, but of serious and worthy observers such as Crookes, Lodge and Richet. I am not ashamed to say that I myself, as far as my modest power went, have contributed to this obstinate scepticism, up to the day on which I was enabled to break the chains in which my absolutist preconceptions had bound my judgment.*

* "Annals of Psychical Science," Vol. V. (1907), p. 322.

It is to be noted that the majority of the Italian professors, while giving adherence to psychical facts, decline to follow the conclusions of those they call the Spiritists. De Vesme makes this clear when he says:

It is most important to point out that the revival of interest in these questions, which has been displayed by the public in Italy, would not have been produced so easily if the scientific men who have just proclaimed the objective authenticity of these mediumistic phenomena had not been careful to add that the recognition of the facts does not by any means imply the acceptance of the Spiritistic hypothesis.

There was, however, a strong minority who saw the full meaning of the revelation.


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