25 DECEMBER 1880, Page 17


Is these two volumes the case of Modern Spiritualism is laid before the curious reader. A good part of the phenomena described took place under the eyes of trained scientific observers. Tranecendentai Physics is a translation of parts of the scientific works of Professor Winer, and the Professor calls to witness Professor Fechner, Wilhelm Weber, and W. Scheilmer, who were present on several of the most important occasions. Psychic Facts is a collection, "by literary and scientific authors," of various testimonies to Spiritualism, and includes articles by Messrs. Crookes, Varley, Russell Wallace, Lord Lindsay, and other well known men ; that is to say, we have the evidence of considerable—in some eases very eminent—scientific men, both in Germany and England. We are bound to treat such evidence with courtesy and respect. There can be no doubt that these men believe that they saw what they say they saw. By long prac- tice, they have been trained to exclude the possibility of error in experiments, and we must assume that they took the usual precautions, as they say that they did, and that, therefore, the conditions were highly unfavourable to a mere exhibition of trickery. In these pages there are some cases of Spiritualistic experience recorded at second-hand which seem to have occurred under less stringent conditions. But of the phenomena vouched for as above, candid readers will assume that they, had they been present, would have seen what Professor Milner and the rest raw; although, of course, it does not• follow that they would have arrived at the same conclusions with regard to the causes of the facts observed. We have to deal, however, with the phenomena,—not at present with any theories about them; and only premise that we are not justified in treating them otherwise than as appearances which have the full testi- mony of experienced and competent observers.

Readers who are interested in the subject will doubtless pro- cure the books for themselves, and study the whole series of experiments and inferences. We may here confine ourselves to some of the more remarkable occurrences which took place in the presence of Professor &Inner and his friends, and of Slade, after the latter had arrived from England at Leipzig, in November, 1877. Up to this time, Professor Winer had held aloof from any examination into "the asserted phenomena" of Spiritual- ism, being, as he says, fully occupied with his physical researches. He had, however, a theory, which was destined to receive what he considered as a remarkable confirmation, and which must be mentioned here, because his view of the pheno- mena to be recorded would not be intelligible without it. The theory adopted by him and other scientific inquirers, is that of a space of four dimensions. The earlier books of Euclid dm' with plane surfaces, that is, with space in two dimensions only. It is probable that a being which could see and feel, but which could not move, nor, therefore, grasp objects, would be incapable of conceiving space in more than two dimensions. He would perceive length and breadth, but of thickness he could have no idea. Dealing with solid matter, we conceive it as existing in three dimensions ; and beyond that we cannot go. But it is argued that this limitation applies to our powers only, not to the nature of things. In the actually existing external world there may be many more dimensions of space. There may he intelligent beings capable of perceiving and acting in four or more dimensions ; and even men may be capable of doing so, although unconsciously, in certain conditions. Such four- dimensional beings—or human beings temporarily exalted into four dimensional capacity—would be able to do several • Trossceadottal Physics. By J. C. F. Zainer. Translated from the German by O. 0. Massey. London: W. II. Harrison. 1890. Psychic Pads. Edited by W. H. Harrison. London : W. H. Harrison. 1880. things impossible to us ; for example, according to Professor Miler, to tie knots on an endless string, or to see into the contents of a closed box. We hope our readers understand these last consequences of four-dimensional activity, confessing, for ourselves, our utter inability to. follow the Professor into this inconceivable region. But the important thing to note is that he previously enter- tained this theory, and that the theory was, in his opinion, confirmed by the subsequent experiments, as seems often to happen in similar instances. The confirma- tions were numerous and remarkable. The ends of a cord were sealed together, and the Professor's thumbs placed on the sealed ends, while Slade's hands and feet were properly accounted for in this and the other experiments. Under these conditions, the cord was tied into four knots by some unseen agency. Slade could not have done it, even if he had not been under the Professor's eye, since the ends of the string, which were neces- sary to him as a three-dimensional agent for the purpose, were safe under the Professor's thumbs. Yet the thing was done, some- how ; and done just as Professor Winer had hoped, in accord- ance with his theory. It became quite common for solid matter to move through solid matter. Slate-pencils found their way into closed boxes and through tables. It other times, tables would disappear altogether, being elevated, we are told, into the fourth dimension, and thus disappearing from ordinary vision. We are sorry to say that on one such occasion a vanished table, on its reappearance, came down among the heads of the company, and bumped the Professor severely, thua displaying that taste for low comedy which four-dimensional powers appear to evolve in furniture. It was then proved that "enclosed space of three dimensions is open to four-dimensional beings," by placing Booted paper within closed boxes, on which impressions of hands and feet were obtained. But the motion of matter through matter was apparently proved by a very re- markable experiment. The Professor had two solid wooden rings turned, one of oak, and the other of alder. This he did hoping that the two rings might be " interlinked without solu- tion of continuity," as in that case, "the test would be addi- tionally convincing, by close microscopic examination of the unbroken continuity of the fibre." He also provided himself with a piece of dried catgut, because, "should a knot be tied in this band, close microscopic examina- tion would also reveal whether the connection of the parts of this strip had been severed or not." The two wooden rings and an "entire bladder-band," were strung on a piece of catgut, "the two ends of the catgut were tied together in a knot," and sealed by the Professor, who then placed his two. hands on the sealed ends. Dile, like most of the other experi- ments, was in broad daylight. Pmently "a slight smell of burning was apparent in the room." Shortly afterwards they heard "a rattling sound at the small round table opposite, as of pieces of wood knocking together." They went to see what had happened, and "to our great astonishment, we found the two wooden rings which about six minutes previously were strung on the catgut, in complete preservation, encircling the leg of the small table. The catgut was tied in two loose knots, through which the endless bladder-band was hanging unin- jured." That is to say—still in the words of Professor Winer —" It follows, from the stand-point of our present conception of space, that each of the two wooden rings penetrated, first the catgut, and then the birchwood of the leg of the table."

But how, the reader will ask, were these marvellous opera- tions effected P It is quite plain that no agency with which we are acquainted could remove the rings from the catgut whose ends were secured, and string them upon the leg of a table whose top and bottom greatly exceeded their diameter. To told that the thing.was done does not really increase our know- ledge, unless we are also given some sort of idea as to how it was done, if only by way of a provisional hypothesis. The Professor holds that this and other feats were performed by invisible, intelligent beings, who, in the presence of Mr. Slade- or some other medium, operate upon visible matter, and some- times themselves become, at least partially, visible. These beings, unlike ourselves, can operate in the fourth dimen- sion of space, and thus untwist and retwist objects which to us are inseparable. These beings can, and we are- assured do, pass matter through matter as described, lift objects such as tables out of sight, and cause them again to reappear ; and project "materialised" hands, or other por- tions of themselves, into the region cognisable by our senses- If this theory be correct, the phenomena are evidently removed into the domain of "miracle." If they are effected by beings who move in another world than ours, and are endowed with powers beyond our imagination, we cannot hope to give an intelligible account of the matter. It was, perhaps, this conviction which prevented the Professor from carrying out his original inten- tion of microscopically examining the wooden rings. It is true that the conditions he proposed to examine were not produced, since the rings were not interlaced with each other. But, as he truly says, the actual result was still more extraordinary, if they were passed, first through catgut, and then through the leg of a table. If he expected some change which might be microscopically discerned in the conditions which he imagined, why did he not seek for it in those which actually occurred ? It is, perhaps, to be wished that he had done so, especially in view of the curious fact that heat seems to have been evolved when, according to the hypothesis, matter was passed through matter. A shell was passed through a table, and received by the Professor's hand below. It was then so hot that he could hardly hold it. Moreover, Slade was informed by the " in- visible beings" that they had attempted to tie knots on the bladder-band mentioned above, but had failed, because "the band was in danger of 'melting' during the operation, under the great increase of temperature ;" and the proof that this had been tried remained in white spot on the band, and accounted for the smell of burning previously recorded. Now, if one material object were passed through another, it would seem that the ultimate molecules of the one object must have been passed between those of the other ; as if, to use a military comparison, the extended supports were passed through and beyond an extended line of skirmishers. If this had actually taken place, we suppose that the molecular disturbance must have been very great, and the heat evolved considerable. Pro- fessor Milner seriously assures us that this took place ; and, treating the matter with equal gravity, we must regret that he did not submit the catgut, the bladder-band, the wooden rings, and the leg of the table to the most minute examination. There was evidence of violent disturbance in the white spot on the band, and similar changes ought to have been ascertainable on the other objects, which might have thrown some light on the nature of the operation performed.

Space would fail were we to follow Professor Miner further in his experiments. We have endeavoured to place sufficient samples before our readers, and can only hope that we have done so clearly and impartially. Here are certain extraordinary matters, the reality of which is vouched for by scientifically- trained observers. It would certainly look at first sight as if the supposition of trickery is excluded ; and if so, it would appear to follow that the existence of -some forces, hitherto unknown to science, has been established. It is for scientific men to take up the challenge of Milner, Fechner, Crookes, and others, and to show, if trickery be their hypothesis, how that was noble; if delusion, how it could have arisen ; or, if the existep..e of new forces be suspected, how their nature may be most surely ascer- tained. On the other hand, eminent Spiritualists are somewhat too ready to attribute ultra-scepticism to those who hesitate before accepting either the reality of the phenomena described, or their theory of them, even if real. It is one thing to admit that the facts narrated are alleged on authority quite weighty enough to demand full investigation ; and quite another, to accept them as facts, or to assign them, if facts, to the causes inferred by the original observers. We give no opinion on Professor Zollner's theory that the phenomena were due to the agency of "spirits," or intelligent beings other than men. But scientific reasoners are more than justified in refusing to accept such a theory, until they have exhausted all means of explana- tion which ordinary experience and observation. supply.