Page images
PDF
EPUB

which I felt sure he could do better than any one I knew. His reply was so interesting from a literary point of view that I give it here. It is the last letter I received from him.

“Hotel Royal, Varenna, Italy, April 24. "I despair of giving you in writing all the reasons why your suggestion is for me an impossible one. There are eleven thousand; I will content myself with two. The first is practical. I have to write stories which editors will accept and the public will buy. Now, no editor will take a socialistic story—I have tried, and failed; and the public will not buy such stories to a sufficient extent to pay for the trouble. As a general rule, the more in earnest I am about a subject, the less I get for it. The second reason is artistic. A story grows out of a plot or situation, and cannot be forced in the way you describe, as I at least do not know how to force it. Plots come. I could not invent a plot in order to sustain a particular thesis. Thank you so much for the many kind expressions in your letter. Come and see us some day on Hind Head, when you are passing up or down, and we will thrash this matter out more fully. " With very kind regards,

"Cordially yours,

“ GRANT ALLEN."

I do not know to what he alludes when he says he “has tried and failed.” “The Woman who Did" was not socialistic, and I can only suppose he refers to a short story of life in a phalanstery, where all children in the least deformed are killed at one year old, for the improvement of the race; and the feelings of the mother for her first-born are vividly described, though, as the law was absolute and known from childhood, it was submitted to uncomplainingly! But neither of these stories had any necessary connection with socialism, and were especially repugnant to our customs and ideals. But there is nothing whatever repugnant in socialism itself, and I cannot believe that a story by a well-known and talented writer would be unsaleable merely VOL. II.

T

a successful socialistic

because its field of action was community

I may conclude this chapter with the answer I recently gave to the question, "Why I am a Socialist ?" I am a socialist because I believe that the highest law for mankind is justice. I therefore take for my motto, “Fiat Justicia Ruat Coelum ;” and my definition of socialism is, “ The use by every one of his faculties for the common good, and the voluntary organization of labour for the equal benefit of all." That is absolute social justice ; that is ideal socialism. It is, therefore, the guiding star for all true social reform.

CHAPTER XXXV

MESMERISM TO SPIRITUALISM_CORRESPONDENCE WITH

SCIENTIFIC AND LITERARY MEN

I HAVE already described my first introduction to mesmerism at Leicester, how I found that I had considerable mesmeric power myself, and could produce all the chief phenomena on some of my patients; while I also satisfied myself that almost universal opposition and misrepresentations of the medical profession were founded upon a combination of ignorance and prejudice. I will here only add that my brother Herbert also possessed the power, and that when we were residing together at Manaos, he used to call up little Indian boys out of the street, give them a copper, and by a little gazing and a few passes send them into the trance state, and then produce all the curious phenomena of catalepsy, loss of sensation, etc., which I have already described. This was interesting because it showed that the effects could be produced without any expectation on the part of the patients, and, further, that similar phenomena followed as in Europe, although these boys had certainly no knowledge of such phenomena. One day, I remember, when we were going out collecting, we entered an Indian's hut, where we had often been before, and my brother quietly began mesmerizing a young man nearly his own age. He did not entrance him, but obtained enough influence to render his arm rigid. This he instantly relaxed, and asked the Indian to lie down on the floor, which he did. My brother then made a pass along his body, and said, “ Lie there till we return." The man tried to rise but could not, though several of his relatives were present. We

then walked out, he crying and begging to be loosed. Thinking he would certainly overcome the influence we went on, and coming back about two hours later we found the man still on the ground, declaring he could not get up. On a pass from my brother and his saying, “Now get up,” he rose easily. We gave him a small present, but he did not seem much surprised or disturbed, evidently thinking we were white medicine-men. Here, again, it seemed to me pretty certain that the induced temporary paralysis was a reality, and by no means due to the imagination of the usually stolid Indian.

During my eight years' travels in the East I heard occasionally, through the newspapers, of the strange doings of the spiritualists in America and England, some of which seemed to me too wild and outrê to be anything but the ravings of madmen. Others, however, appeared to be so well authenticated that I could not at all understand them, but concluded, as most people do at first, that such things must be either imposture or delusion. How I became first acquainted with the phenomena and the effect they produced upon me are fully described in the “Notes of Personal Evidence," in my book on“ Miracles and Modern Spiritualism,” to which I refer my readers. I will only state here that I was so fortunate as to be able to see the simpler phenomena, such as rapping and tapping sounds and slight movements of a table in a friend's house, with no one present but his family and myself, and that we were able to test the facts so thoroughly as to demonstrate that they were not produced by the physical action of any one of us. Afterwards, in my own house, similar phenomena were obtained scores of times, and I was able to apply tests which showed that they were not caused by any one present. A few years later I formed one of the committee of the Dialectical Society, and again witnessed, under test conditions, similar phenomena in great variety, and in these three cases, it must be remembered, no paid mediums were present, and every means that gested of excluding trickery or the direct actions of any one present were resorted to.

[ocr errors]

ild be sug

At a later period I paid frequent visits, always with some one or more of my friends as sceptical and as earnest inquirers after fact as myself, to one of the best public mediums for physical phenomena I have ever met with—Mrs. Marshall and her daughter-in-law. We here made whatever investiga

tions we pleased, and tried all kinds of tests. We always sat · in full daylight in a well-lighted room, and obtained a variety

of phenomena of a very startling kind, as narrated in the book referred to. During the latter part of my residence in London (1865–70) I had numerous opportunities of seeing phenomena with other mediums in various private houses in London. These were sometimes with private, sometimes with paid mediums, but always under such conditions as to render any kind of collusion or imposture altogether out of the question. During this time I was in frequent communication with Sir William Crookes, Mr. Cromwell Varley, Serjeant Cox, Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood, Mr. E. T. Bennett, Mr. S. C. Hall, Professor and Mrs. de Morgan, Mr. W. Volckman, Rev. C. Maurice Davies, Dr. and Mrs. Edmunds, William Howitt, Mrs. Catherine Berry, and many other friends, who were either interested in or were actively investigating the subject; and through the kindness of several of them I had many opportunities of witnessing some of the more extraordinary of the phenomena under the most favourable conditions. At a much later period, when I visited America on a lecturing tour, I made the acquaintance of some of the most eminent spiritualists in Boston and Washington, and had many opportunities of seeing phenomena and obtaining tests of a different kind from any that I had seen in England; and some of these I may refer to later on. What I propose to do now is to give a consecutive outline of my correspondence with some of my scientific and literary friends on this subject, which will, I think, have some historical interest now that investigations into physical phenomena are not treated in the same utterly contemptuous way they were in the early period of my inquiries.

When I had obtained in my own house the phenomena

« EelmineJätka »