1 DECEMBER 1894, Page 26


SIR JOHN LUBBOCK, in his lecture, delivered last Saturday, on the senses and intellect of animals, suggests that there may be numbers of sights and sounds visible and audible to different organisations from our own which are not visible and audible to us, and conversely, that there may be many visible to tie which are not visible or audible to them. For example, he has satisfied himself that ants do not hear any of the noises which seem to us the most exciting and distracting, while it is perfectly possible that they may hear many of which we take no sort of account at all. That sug- gests a new world of possibilities that, though it may be perfectly unreal, may be also quite worth dreaming about. We know, for instance, perfectly well that the vibrations which produce vision when striking on our retina are of the same general nature, though not of the same length, as those which produce the sensation of heat, and that again, those which produce the most powerful chemical effects on a photographic plate are of the same kind, though at a different end of the spectrum from those which produce the most intense light. Why, then, might there not be organisations which see beet by the help of those vibrations proceeding from a luminous body by virtue of which our eyes see least, and hear best, though originating in disturbances in that body which are quite inaudible to no P We know that our retina is only affected by undulations which are transmitted at the enormous velocity of one hundred and eighty- seven thousand miles in a second; but are there not also in all probability a multitude of much slower undulations transmitted from every luminous body, and why may not these produce the impression we call vision on organisations different from our own P Indeed, why is it not perfectly possible that there may be creatures which see by the vibrations by which we only hear, and hear by those by which we see P—see the roll of the thunder, and hear the flash of the lightning, which both come from the same source,—■ hear first what we see first, and see last what we hear last,— so that they may be stunned by what strikes us blind, and blinded by the explosion of the sun's gases or the roar of our own cataracts. There seems to be no final reason why that which awakes in us one kind of impression should not awake in other creatures a different kind. There may even be eyes which perceive and register what we call sounds, and ears which give the impression of a face and figure and motion where we have none but that of the sound of a voice ; —or, again, which call up the vision of a river where we only hear the bubbling of its waters or the rush of its cataraots.1 There seems to be no final reason why the kind of vibra- tion which is audible to us should not be visible to other organisations, and why the kind which is visible to us should not be audible to other organisations. Why might not a sonata or an oratorio summon a glowing sunset, or a magni- ficent landscape, before organs different from our own, and why might not what is a picture-gallery to us, be to them a concert or a chorus P Nay, may we not go further still, and suppose that there may be organisations to which what we call audible vibrations are both audible and visible ; and similarly, what we call colours are not only colours, but also sounds P Why should not the roar of the lion or the scream of the jackal produce both the impressions which they pro- duce on our ears, and also some exciting impressions of another kind, of which we are quite incapable, when they strike on organs which embrace a larger range of visual sensitiveness P It is at least quite conceivable that the same vibrations should result in both seeing and hearing for those whose ears are sensitive to the rapid vibrations of the ether as well as to the slow vibrations of the air. If there were ears which could hear what we call light, why might not the morning stars be heard singing together in the concert of thanksgiving of which the poetry of the book of Job tells us, and why should not what has been called the music of the spheres be as audible to other beings as the glory of a starlight night is visible to us P Mr. Cornish tells us, as a consequence of his musical experiments at the Zoological Gardens, that " the Indian wolf showed signs of extreme and abject fear" when the violin was played, and even when it was played behind the cage and out of his sight, and that he then retired to the railing in front, as far as possible from the music. If that be so, why should not there be some significance in these sounds to wolves of which we are not only not aware, but incapable of being made aware, because they have not the same significance to us P Why should not these sounds betray to wolves that which might really affect them injuriously, though it does not affect us at all P May there riot be some close analogy between the sounds of the violin and signs of flood or tempest, which we do not, and could not, perceive in the notes at all P There are evidently creatures which receive notice of an earthquake long before man receives any such notice. Why should not that notice come in vibrations which we can neither hear nor see, but which are either as visible or audible, or both as visible and as audible, to them, as the sounds to which the ants are deaf are often painfully audible to us P Again, in what physiologists now call the hypnotic state, it is clear that the commands issued even from afar by one who had produced that hypnotic state, and even by others to whom he has transmitted his authority, are heard and obeyed. We have no notion how they are so heard and obeyed. But it is clear that what is audible or visible to one organ in a state artificially produced by what we call the hypnotic trance without in the least knowing what it means, might well be audible or visible to a differently constituted organ in its natural state. And therefore it is not at all impossible that there are in existence organs which convey to other creatures, without any hypnotising, those same messages which only become articulate to us under conditions which resemble the sudden giving out of what is called " latent heat " by the tribe, slid into his hand a card on which was written, in physicists. Bat if any ono supposes that what is now estab- the band of an Archbishop, "Your deliverance is at hand. lished as " thought-reading," is due to the carrying of a new Trust in God, and come home." His brethren had never kind of quasi-electric message through the ether, and that the forgotten him ; they had heard of his survival from some exercise of a strong volition renders this thought-reading escaped nuns ; they had moved the British authorities in possible,—so that an organisation properly qualified for the Egypt; and Mu jar Wingate, head of the Intelligence De- purpose, as a hypnotiser's may be supposed to be, can, as it partment, had found an agent willing to risk the dangerous were, speak to a distant friend by force of will alone without adventure. This man, Abdullah Omar, of the tribe of the uttering any audible sound,—we do not know to what develop- Ababdes, inspired by the hope of a great reward, or that ments this kind of sympathetic whispering might not lead. love of daring expeditions in which some Asiatics rival the Apparently, even organisations not naturally qualified for most dare-devil Englishmen, had forced his way to Omdur- thought-reading, may, by the help of the hypnotiser, be man after months of adventure, during which he was once artificially rendered sensitive to these more or less sub- imprisoned and once compelled to marry, and after a long conscious communications, so as to result in actions which search, had found Father Rossignoli waiting on the guests in would ordinarily be interpreted as proceeding from a know- his café. Moved by the message, by the relief from despair, ledge of what happened at a distance, and far out of the and probably by some sense of duty to his order, the Father hearing or eight of the person who appears to be influenced consented to run the risk, which for him was nothing less by that knowledge. In other words, on this theory of the than that of death by impalement, crucifixion, or the lash, phenomena, vibrations of the ether, which would otherwise and placed himself at Abdullah the Ababde's disposal. He be lost upon a man, may, by careful preparation, gain feigned sickness to obtain a day or two's leave, quitted access to him, just as vibrations of sound, which are Omdurman, and joined his guide and protector a few miles otherwise lost, are so preserved by the telephone as to outside the city. Then commenced a journey which, if we be audible within two or three hundred miles. Now, if could only obtain a full narrative of its incidents, would by what we usually call a mere moral effort, a thought, probably be found to surpass in interest any expedition or even a sentence, can be directed to a given brain, just that Mr. Rider Haggard ever described or invented. The as the apparatus of the telephone directs it, there is no par- people of the desert had grown suspicious, and there is in a titular reason why some means should not be found of inter- Mussulman country little possibility of hiding a Christian. cepting some of the instinctive communications between one Even when he is not blue-eyed, little peculiarities of manner, of the lower animals and another, so as to tap them in the of language, and of colour, are sure, sooner or later, to betray same way in which an electrician at an intermediate point, him ; and once betrayed, there is no escape, save killing the taps the electric cable of a message intended for a more betrayer, from immediate arrest. Father Rossignoli was de- distant goal. And so the fairy-story fancy that a man tected even as he crossed the river, and though Abdullah might be so endowed as to overhear the conversations of managed to conceal him, probably by the aid of some of insects or birds, might be realised. All these speculations his wife's relatives, for he bad, as we have said, while on his are, of course, pure dreams, but they are dreams which journey to Omdurman, married to avert suspicion, he him- are suggested as not altogether impossible, by the extra- self was arrested by the soldiery, detained for eleven days, and ordinary extension of the possibilities of a vibrating ether, only released on payment of heavy bribes. Once at liberty, accepted by the science of our own day. To the generation however, Abdullah recommenced his task, purchased a camel, which has become familiar with the phonograph and thought- mounted Father Rossignoli before him, and, after a ride of reading, it will hardly seem a sheer impossibility that we ten days and nights, during which the strength of the unhappy might one day be able to arrest and decipher the less intricate Father gave way, and he was held by his guide upon the messages of purely instinctive import which pass between beast for hours at a time, they reached Assouan in safety, and the ants of a single nest, or the rooks of a single rookery, or saw the uniforms of white officers and Egyptian soldiers. the chimpanzees of a single family. Indeed the last feat has, With death behind him at every stride—for the flight had according to an American naturalist, been partially °mom- been discovered, and orders issued for his seizure—scarcely plished already by the help of the phonograph, though not fed, with a frame fatigued beyond endurance, the worthy by virtue of anything analogous to the thought or feeling monk was received into an abode of comparative luxury,