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vol. 3, p. 225
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Mr. Wallace`s New Work (continued from page 3-224) >

modern philosophy speculated on. The facts beat me. They compelled me to accept them, as facts, long before I could accept the spiritual explanation of them: there was at that time “no place in my fabric of thought into which it could be fitted.” By slow degrees a place was made; but it was made, not by any preconceived or theoretical opinions, but by continuous action of fact after fact, which could not be got rid of in any other way. So much for Mr. Anton Dohrn’s theory of the causes that led me to accept Spiritualism. Let us now consider the statement as to its incompatibility with Natural Selection.

Having, as above indicated, been led, by a strict induction from facts, to a belief—1stly, In the existence of a number of preterhuman intelligences of various grades; and, 2ndly, That some of these intelligences, although usually invisible and intangible to us, can and do act on matter, and do influence our minds,— I am truly following a strictly logical and scientific course, in seeing how far this doctrine will allow us to account for some of those residual phenomena which Natural Selection alone will explain. In the 1oth chapter of my “Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,” I have pointed out what I consider to be some of these residual phenomena; and I have suggested that they may be due to the action of some of the various intelligences above referred to. This view was, however, put forward with hesitation, and I myself suggested difficulties in the way of its acceptance; but I maintained, and still maintain, that it is one which is logically tenable, and is in no way inconsistent with a thorough acceptance of the grand doctrine of Evolution, through Natural Selection, although implying (as indeed many of the chief supporters of that doctrine admit) that it is not the all powerful, all-sufficient, and only cause of the development of organic forms.

From the London Spiritualist.

The Phenomena of Sleep and Dream

No. I.
By Edward W. Cox, Sergeant-At-Law.

...”We are such stuff
As dreams are made of; and our little life
Is rounded by a seep.”

So says Shakspere. The question to-night is—of what stuff are dreams made?

You are at this moment awake, You are in the full possession of all the faculties of your mind—that is to say, you can control and regulate your action. You can by the exercise of your will cause your thoughts to follow each other in a certain order. You can, as it were, sit in judgment upon them—accept such as are fit for use, reject such as are useless or incongruous. You can compare thought with thought and deduce rational judgments from the relationship of those thoughts.

What is the “You" that does this? What is the thing, distinct from the thoughts that are controlled, marshalled, and judged, which so deals with them when we are awake?

We cannot enter upon that question now. It is too large a subject for discussion in this paper. It must be reserved for special examination hereafter.

For the present purpose it suffices that, when we are awake, some entity we call “You” or “I” exercises an intelligent, direction over the order of thought by force of a power we call “the Will”

You are then awake.

But suddenly the thoughts, so orderly before, fall into disorder. They follow in no definite course. They flow with no (discoverable connection. They are wandering about in all directions. You try to retain or recall them. For a moment perhaps, you succeed, and the orderly train of ideas proceeds as before. But soon they are starting off again more wildly than ever. The process of reining them in may be thus performed twice or thrice, but, unless something startles you into wakefulness, they speedily break away from all restraint and are scattered beyond recovery.

You are dreaming.

By one who views you during this process your head will be seen to nod, your eyes to become fixed, your eyelids to droop, your limbs to relax. Occasionally you will start and resume a kind of stupid animation. The eyelids are lifted. The eyes exhibit consciousness.

You are falling asleep.

For a moment only. Soon the same paralysed aspect recurs, and there is no recovery from it.

You are asleep.


This condition of the body accompanies the mental condition described. Sleep and dream are coincident conditions.

The bodily change that attends sleep is a depletion of the blood from the brain, attended by its necessary consequence —a collapse of the fibrous structure of the brain. Of this any person may satisfy himself by noting the very perceptible inflation of his brain that follows upon a sudden awakening. The blood is felt to be rushing into the brain, attended by a sense of fulness and expansion.

But what is the mental change? That is the question to which I now desire to draw the attention of the society.

The subject is a very large one, and I cannot possibly treat of it in one paper. This evening I can hope to invite discussion upon what can be little more than introductory.

Familiarity has destroyed the wonder of it to us, but what can be more wonderful in itself than the change that is accomplished in a moment from the mind awake to the mind asleep?

Suddenly that which before was real is unreal, and that which was unreal is real. Things cease to become thoughts, and thoughts become things. All the conditions of conscious existence are reversed. The mental faculties that are exercised in the process of reason are in abeyance. The mind is incapable of comparing one idea with another, or of holding any thought before itself for examination or judgment. The experiences of the past have no influence over the impressions of the present. The world without is all a dream (with some limitations to be described hereafter). The world within is the actual world to us.

This mental revolution is the work of a moment of time. It is done literally in the twinkling of an eye. We have not time even to be conscious of the change. There is no moment when we can feel “Now I am awake" and “Now I am dreaming,” or mark the very passage from the one condition to the other. The whole state of our mental existence is overturned, and yet we seek in vain to know the precise period of the revolution.

May not this psychological fact, occurring to all of us daily, indicate that to the mind when temporarily released from the conditions of molecular substance there may be other measures of time and infinitely speedier powers of action than when it works subject to a material structure? But this is by the way.

What is the change which sleeps thus instantly accomplishes in the mental condition?


In the first place, it shows us that the mind does not work as one entire mechanism to produce one result, each separate thought and emotion being a separate state on product of the whole machine, as contended by Dr. Carpenter, but that certain parts of the mental mechanism (whatever that may be) work separately from the other parts. In the operation of dream there is the manifest activity of some faculties, while others are in abeyance. If action of the whole machine had been required for each mental act, dream would be impossible, for the whole machine would wake or sleep together, and there would either be the reasonable action of waking or the unconscious condition of coma.

We may therefore take it as conclusive that in dreams some of the mental faculties are active, and tome are at rest—some probably asleep while others are awake.

The next question is, if in sleep and dream certain faculties are always awake and active, and certain other faculties always slumbering or inactive?

After a careful review of my own memories of dream, I am inclined to the conclusion that every mental faculty is sometimes waking and sometimes sleeping, and consequently that the whole brain rarely, if ever, sleeps at the same moment —that some portions of it are active while others are resting, and thence the variations in the character of dreams, not merely from sleep to sleep, but at different periods of the same slumber.


Probably the newly established duality of the mind, as asserted by Brown Sequard, which is either the cause or the consequence of the duplex structure of the brain, may be found upon further investigation greatly to influence dream <... continues on page 3-226 >

Editor's notes

  1. The Phenomena of Sleep and Dream by Cox, Edward W., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 14, June 10, 1875, pp. 165-6. From the London Spiritualist