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vol. 3, p. 214
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Professor Wagner`s Great Report (continued from page 3-213) >

scientist of like courage, honesty and trained powers of research must inevitably reach at the end of a series of seances under such satisfactory test conditions as exclude the element of fraud from the problem. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the expedients resorted to guard against any intended bad faith on the part of M. Brediff; and Prof. Wagner’s compeers will, of necessity, be compelled to reflect over the phenomena of direct writing, bell-ringing, and the materialization of hands which he witnessed and has described so graphically. To suppose the contrary would imply, an extreme of moral cowardice on their part which we would be loath to expect even from men of science. Sir William Thomson, in his opening address before the British Association in 1870, said: “Science is bowed by the everlasting law of honor to face fearlessly every problem which can fairly be presented to it.” Let us see if the whole array of his bearers will prove themselves poltroons.

A Scientific Sell

The New York Daily Graphic is edited by Mr. David G. Croly, who is known over, the whole country as a materialistic philosopher, a founder of the Liberal Club’ and for several years editor of the New York World Mr. Croly is one of the most original characters in American journalism; a man of great intellectual resources, a liberal of the liberals, a dogmatic Positivist, and a man possessed of a grim humor which delights in the setting of traps for the unwary scientists, that he may enjoy their confusion at finding themselves victimized. Under his inspiration, series of pseudo scientific articles were written for the world, by a young man named Davis, which were frequently constructed with such ingenuity as to deceive the very elect. They contained the most improbable statements dressed up in so skilful a manner, and presenting such an air of plausibility, that none but! the most astute readers could discern their absurdity at first sight. Among these, was an account of the finding of the carcases of a herd of frozen mammoths, in Siberia, upon the flesh of which some savants made a hearty meal; a description of anthropophagous trees; the discovery of a mine of precious stones under Mont Cenis; a visit to a hybrid family in North Carolina, whose parents had put into practice the theories of the stirpiculturists; the posthumous publication of some wonderful papers, by an imaginary Russian mathematician named Slavonsky, in which the author demonstrated mathematically the immortality of the soul and the law of reincarnation ; and many others equally preposterous.

Mr. Davis and his Master are now both on the Graphic's editorial staff, and, on Saturday last, that paper afforded proof palpable that they are up to their old tricks. The article this time, is upon the recent discovery of the mechanical action of light, by Mr. Crookes—a discovery which, it is now admitted, is likely to rank his name with that of Sir Isaac Newton among the luminaries of Science. The title of the article in question is “The Physical Basis of Gravitation: Startling result of Mr. Crookes’ discovery,’’ and the author proceeds to demonstrate how the whole secret of the balance, movement, and suspension of the stellar universe is explained by the rotation of the tiny platinum mill, in the bulb of Mr. Crookes’ exhausted receiver.

Among his “philosophical propositions,” Mr. Davis has the following:

“Like all forces acting in reference to a centre, gravitation and light follow the law of inverse ratios, which in itself is a sufficient proof that they are matter in motion; but we need only to rid our minds of the mischievous notion of the existence of anything except matter, while we are considering the phenomena of matter, to obviate the necessity of logically arriving at the conclusion that every phenomenon in the material universe finds its source and end in matter, and from this conclusion the law ‘directly as the mass and inversely as the square of the distance, holds in all ‘forces’ having their source in a centre.”

Here is a reminiscence of the “Slavonsky sell.”

“The number of particles in the universe is not infinite, however great it may be, and if Thomson can go so far as to calculate the number of molecules in a cubic inch of matter, as he has done, it needs only a larger—though not an infinitely larger—investigation to arrive at the number in the universe. This is said merely to obviate logical difficulties which arise when we come to consider the result of the two great forces of light and gravitation.”

The snag against which all pure materialists, all who deny the existence of any intelligent Cause outside of matter, run, is shown in the following sentence:

“Strictly, force is the source of motion, and as motion never occurs except in consequence of motion, all we know of force is that it is only motion, unless we choose to go, if not into metaphysics, at least into metempirics.

He baits his trap with this statement:

“Light proceeds from a centre, and gravity draws towards the centre. In other words, there are ever present in the universe of matter the mechanical projectile force from centres, and the attractive force towards centres. Hut attractive force inasmuch as motion is in the direction of the impulse, must be a force applied a tergo in its relation to the centre. If bodies tend to a centre in space it must be because of an impulse they receive from beyond, impelling them towards it. Attraction as attraction, neither does nor can exist; it is not only logically inconceivable, but physically impossible, since it implies a mechanical effect not in the line of impulse, but against it. In other words, gravitation is the result of mechanical impulse driving bodies incidentally to centres, and ultimately to the centre of the mater al universe

and, then closes with this strictly logical(!) conclusion:

“In the consideration of this question Mr. Crookes has not gone sufficiently far to reach the conclusion that should be drawn from it. In reaching the limits of the universe of matter, beyond which no motion is possible since there is nothing to move, and as a motion is never lost, a reflux of motion to the centre follows from the known la vs of motion, and the mechanical effect of light not used in work is turned back upon itself and proceeds in toward the centre from which it was omitted. As in emission it does its work on the planets as on the mechanism invented by Mr. Crookes, so in return it drives all matter which it meets back to the centre, and is known as gravitation. The velocity with which gravity exceeds light is explicable through the unparticled and, therefore, unimpeding ether, for it is towards and not from the centre, as in the case of light. To what conclusions this doctrine may lead in time, of course cannot be said; but to find the physical basis of gravitation is to thrust ‘force’ as aside from matter, even yet farther from the universe of matter than has hitherto been deemed possible.

This will suffice for the present. Let us see what gudgeons will swallow the hook.

Professor Wagner's Report

The second installment of the report of Professor Wagner, the great Russian Zoologist and philosopher appears in this number, and fully sustains the interest awakened by the opening paragraphs. The candor, the scientific precision, the philosophical analysis and synthesis displayed by its author, the impartial” weighing of evidence, the fearless adoption of conclusions when made inevitable by the results of the seances make this paper one of the most notable in the literature of Spiritualism. It will have great weight with those who are familiar with Professor Wagner’s attainments, and rank in the Republic of Science.

It will not escape the observation of Spiritualists that our distinguished investigator shows great reluctance to calling the phenomena by their right name; but the materializations witnessed by him, and fully described in the concluding chapter (which will be published next week) supply all that is lacking to settle the spiritual origin of the manifestations. It will be worth our while to watch the movements of the pseudo-scientists, here and in Europe, who assume, with impertinent audacity, to pronounce upon the nature of phenomena they never saw, and facts they never investigated. Such “scientific” bantam cocks as our Beards have now the opportunity to cackle, and so attract general notice to their intellectual insignificance.

Editor's notes

  1. A Scientific Sell by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 15, June 17, 1875, pp. 174-5. Part of the article is restored by HPB manually
  2. Professor Wagner's Report by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 14, June 10, 1875, p. 162