vol. 3, p. 105
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< A Chapter of Naturalism (continued from page 3-104) >

no meanness of spirit, to embrace the moral and physical, or fossilized constitution of man, and his relations to lower animals; but we have not hitherto considered him thus exclusively in the pages of a thinker’s journal. The natural history of the genus Homo, it is here submitted, when fairly represented, is emphatically distinguishable from the higher pantheistic relationship of psychical facts, or special events, respecting tribes, nations, or states, in the order in which they really, if not religiously, happened, with their multiform immaterial causes, and diversified moral effects, as regards especially the origin, life, and virtuous actions of purer conscience; internal knowledge of the better self; private judgment of right and wrong; spirituality of being, enlightened or debased, in a comparative sense, throughout all records of progressive civilization,—by a barbarous people. Physical organization, assuredly, has no peremptory claims, of itself, to determine accurately the true nature of soul or spirit, nor has the psychology of mind and brain. Social existence has not explained what passes within the heart of cultured individuality, the exalted spiritual affinities of nations, or the superstitious grouping of generic families, kindred, and lineage of different tribes, at least, exhaustively.

Organic Remains?
There’s small choice in rotten apples.
Hic jacet!—
Knock as you please, there’s nobody at home.

Further, however, are human beings of one species and the same stock, universally, with successive generations of red, white, black, yellow, spotted, or of intermediate tints, in various races, and different countries, together with numerous modifications, and individual diversities in each gradation— features, skulls, characters, figure, proportion, strength, moral and intellectual conditions—inexplicable utterly by climate, or natural conformation, anatomically, physiologically, psychologically? Or, art there fundamental, absolute, permanent specific differences, spiritually, materially, in association with geographical areas of sudden creation, or special centres of gradual evolution, by natural selection? Are some peoples of the earth designed” for civilization, and others for barbarism? According to the teaching of Agassiz, Morton, Nott, Gliddon, and others of the American school of anthropology, the higher races are pre-ordained to extinguish the lower completely; and alas! it is the inherent right of the white man to destroy the red man, for example, as an instrument of Providence; in opposition to which, Prof. Waitz, of Marburg (and no higher authority need be cited), maintains that the original endowment of all nations was “psychically” the same, had external circumstances remained favorable, and that the essential impediments which obstruct the progress of primitive peoples, and keep them in a state of barbarism, are a wild nomadic life and constant warfare.

In fine, what are the origin and destiny of man, scientifically? Naturally of naturalism, he is neither better nor worse than the molecular elements of which he is organically constructed, a solid framework of straw,—a thing to be born of earth, and ultimately burned by eremacausis, or broken up by putrefaction, into other and fresh compounds, previous to oxidation. Dissolved in morning dew. or evening rain, vain man, like his ancestral ape—“furnished with a tail and pointed cars”—consists once more of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon, which form the bulk of his tissues, and sulphur, phosphorus, iron, lime, magnesia, and various other alkalies, earths and metals, in atomic forms of combination, or incidental principles. In fact, human flesh and the blood of monkeys yield exactly the same equivalents as protoplasm, or the physical basis of soul; viz., C 48, H 36, N 6, O 14, with about 4 per cent. of dust and ashes. In bodily organization the proudest man is but a step removed from the wildest beast; in short, as we trace back the physical history of successive gradations of evolutionary or natural development, he has been but the same—himself a zoophyte—and not more wonderful. It is spirituality, alone, that stamps his soul with everlasting pre-eminence, and lifts him above and beyond every other thing “wherein the breath of life is.” Admirably hath the poet expressed the anthetic constitution of human nature, both spiritually and materially, when he so aptly exclaims,—

“How poor, how rich! how abject, how august!
How complicate, how wonderful is Man!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal! Insect infinite!
A worm! a God!”

To recapitulate: Passing from the first round dot of living germinal matter, psychological facts are as much opposed to the scientific imagination of specific differences between various sub-divisions of mankind, as the recent physical phenomena, which are now adduced in favor of that most fashionable assumption, by certain naturalists. All nations possess languages of an exact grammatical structure, in common with similar notions of supersensual things and spiritual aspirations; Withal, Prof. Waitz at last inclined to the opinion, as did Prof. Wagner, that having regard to the chief characters, there may yet be found such permanent radical differences, as shall certainly compel the truth-seeker to divide mankind into various species and diverse kinds. In respect of the antiquity of the human race, or specific time when man first arose from his primitive state of original APEDOM, as all essential conditions for the existence of a superior monkey were present at the diluvial period of geology, and since that particular epoch, no considerable changes have occurred on the surface of our terraqueous ball, the third in order from the sun, scientific imagination, not to mention metaphysical “jargon,” permits us the privilege of dating our Darwinian ancestor’s arrival from the old world division of Simia doe, somewhere between the slightly remote limits of 35,000 and 9,000,000 of years! Surely another baronetcy or knighthood awaits the reseaches of some most fortunate anthropologist, that shall yet discover in these somewhat aged strata, pliocene, miocene—nay, incomparably more ancient layer of our Alma Mater—the honored bones of the father of the family, the oldest Homo sapiens? In form and stature, an ape more anthropoid, or a man more pithecoid, than science has previously known,—entombed lies our hero in the field of his fame,—beneath the feet, it may be, of Mr. Stanley on the western coast of Africa, amid fossil remains, too, of a select mammoth and tichorrhine rhinoceros—if not duly ornamented by a grateful posterity with flint axes, flint knives, and bone skewers, of precisely the same pattern as those now fabricated by the lowest savages of this our day.

“Lightly they’ll talk of the spirit that’s gone,
And o’er his cold ashes upbraid him—
But little he’ll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where no Stanley has laid him.”

May the American people, nevertheless, emerge from this brilliant discovery, physically and morally renewed forever and ever!

Liverpool, 29 Erskine St., Dec. 5, 1874.

Strange Powers of Spirits of Sleeping Mortals

In the last number of The Spiritualist it was pointed out how the spirit of the sister of Prince Wittgenstein manifested to him while her body was in a trance; how the spirit of a mesmeric sensitive left her body and produced physical effects in a house at a distance, as authenticated by Mr. Fitz-Gerald, the electrician; how one sleeping person influenced another, and how the spirits of several sleeping persons were photographed. Since then we have received the following startling, information bearing on the same subject: —

To the Editor of “The Spiritualist.”

Sir, —In the course of collecting evidence for some articles which I have been publishing on the subject of Spirit Photography, I was astonished to find it stated on good authority, that M. Buguet, of 5, Boulevard Montmartre, Paris, had several times photographed the spiritual image of a living person. The Comte de Bullet, I found, had been especially fortunate in obtaining portraits of his sister, who lives at Baltimore, U.S.A., as well as of her children, and of his own mother. I placed myself in communication with him, and received an attestation of the fact which you quoted in the last number of the Spiritualist.

The evidence was so complete that it set me thinking on the trans-corporeal action of spirit. Cases readily occurred to me in which I had heard of the spirit leaving the body, and retaining recollection of its wanderings. I had been familiar with the fact in my own person. Many times I had wandered in spirit, and had preserved a vivid remembrance of the scenes through which I passed. On one occasion, at least, I had been able to test the truth of my vision; and had found my record of a scene at which I was not physically present to be so literally exact that I had no doubt as to my having been spiritually present at it.

It seemed, therefore, a good opportunity for ascertaining whether it were possible for my spirit to leave on the sensitized plate a permanent record of its wanderings beyond the body. Doubtless it would be idle waste of time to evoke the spirit of any sleeping person who might be chosen at random. Peculiar conditions of mediumsbip are requisite, which were existent in me. The leaving the body was already, in my case, a frequent fact: it was only the permanent record of it that was wanting. An arrangement was accordingly made between Mr. Gledstanes (11, Hue D’Asnieres, Paris) and myself to this effect—He was to present himself at M. Buguet’s studio at 11 A.M., on Sunday, Jan. 31 last, to sit as soon after his arrival as possible, and to “evoke” me, i.e., to fix his mind on me, and to will strongly that my spirit should present itself. For my part, I engaged to remain quiet in my rooms, and to be asleep, if I could so arrange, or to ask my spirit friends to entrance me.

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Editor's notes

  1. image by unknown author
  2. Strange Powers of Spirits of Sleeping Mortals by Moses, W. S. (signed as M. A. (Oxon)), London Spiritualist, No. 132, March 5, 1875, p. 119