vol. 3, p. 112
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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Catholicity of Spiritualism

Dr. William Hitchman, on resigning the chair of the Anthropological Society of Liverpool, made a short address, from which we extract the following: —

The rising current of anthropological knowledge is now rushing on so strongly, that they who hesitate to commit themselves to it, will soon be left far behind, and serve only the ignoble purpose of enabling others to appreciate the inexorable force and increasing rapidity of the onward streams of biology, physiology, and the natural history of man.

The rate of transmission of nerve-force, for example, we can now accurately estimate; in fact, it moves as the tortoise in running with the hare, when rightly compared with the amazing velocity of solar light, and the striking phenomena of electricity. The movements which take place in the different vital organs, of all varieties of the human race, are also ascertained by scientific instruments of exquisite precision, — one form of energy, moreover, being supposed by modern philosophers to be readily convertible into another, we arrive at a new epoch in the science of life, and its relation to anthropology, zoology, and physical history of man.

We no longer estimate the force of the heart’s action by merely feeling the pulse — the myograph records the movements of our muscles—the spirograph those of respiration, and whilst the sphygmograph is tracing, in writing, the character and extent of the circulating motion, in the nutritive fluid of our bodies, we learn the exact condition of the crystalline lens by the ophthalmometer; and thanks to our learned friend. Prof. Czermac, of the renowned University of Jena, aided by the beautiful Laryngoscope, we take a voyage of discovery as it were each day through the air tubes of the lungs.

We can show you the past history of man, from his organic remains, and works of art, — paleontology, the science of ancient organisms, up the whole ascent, from gradation to gradation, is but a prophetic hymn, heralding the advent of a spiritual being—a great sermon from a stony text. It tells, too, of miracles surpassing miracles, of creative power, beauty and grandeur! — at which no skeptic dare scoff, without rasing a question of his own wisdom—in truth these fairy-like tales of anthropological science are incomparably more enrapturing to the human soul, than all the wonderful stories of romantic genii, enchanted castles, witches, ghosts, or bipeds, without feathers, that very fiction framed.

In the midst of death, we are in life, in short, death is life, and if we are lost in wonder over the ancient trophies of intellectual man—as evinced in the profound wisdom which characterized the founder of the Great Pyramid at Ghizeh, or the excavated slabs that once adorned the stupendous walls of proud Nineveh; if we ponder over the solemn hieroglyphics, by means of which our dear venerable brother Osburn—the philosopher of Leeds—has told the tale of Egypt's early history to the whole world of literature; we learn with like rapture, through what startling revolutions of civilization and barbarism, varieties in figure, proportions, and strength, gradations and modifications of moral and intellectual qualities, both in the white and dark varieties of our species, as well as in the several intermediate tints, differences of features, forms, of skull, hair, beard, and color of iris, ratio of Cerebrum and Cerebellum, the influence of climate, even to the uttermost pans of the earth; thus do we learn, I say, how man has reached his present condition, now more swiftly, anon more slowly, yet ever showing to what a height organic differences themselves may rise, and scarcely less, to what a depth they may fall, on and on, through cycles of change eternal, amidst relics of life and structure, the date of which no human mind shall fix, and surrounded by those mighty dynasties of hoary ruin, that bloomed and fell, ere he stepped on the scene.

In this society we may describe man as an individual of the transmutation hypothesis, men as a nation, and in regard to species, the whole race as humanity, having diversity of origin, or diversity of kind; we can compare him in his physical relations to molecular generation, either recent or fossil, and with those living or dead organizations that are held to be allied to the genus Homo, in form and function—whether Gorilla, Chimpanse, Orang-outang, or other anthropoid mammalia—and what is more, the petted, and of course, spoiled child, called ethnology, will shortly become the humble servant of anthropology, destined to mount behind our chariot and take its fitting seat; in short, there never was a time when anthropologists were so thoroughly determined, and in earnest,—in earnest, too, to have their beloved science placed on a level with the other physical sciences, in a sectional department of the British Association, and in the sacred names of Truth and Justice, let us have it—yes,, let us have it—if it “rend the sky” of their next meeting in our good old Town of Liverpool.

After all, seeing that our knowledge of material things is not brought about by material things alone, rather, as I nave essayed to show elsewhere, in “Lectures on Spiritual Science” they condition it genetically, but it conditions them teleologically, material achievement in the physical sciences cannot, I submit, be the highest achievement of man, the “one thing needful” is not composed of physical force or molecular energy.

Human nature has that spirit within it which is incomparably more precious than all the treasures of earth; it is a poverty-stricken ambition that seeks only to accumulate material capital and pecuniary wealth, for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement, either before or after death.

The sacred problem of Spiritual Philosophy will never lie solved by physics, or our knowledge, in Liverpool, of vegetable wool, even were it the downy substance growing in the pods of the valuable gossypium, or by the most skillful machinery and steam power, neither by the scalpel of the anatomist, nor by the hammer of the geologist, the priceless gem, in the whole treasury of science, is disclosed to our view in the lesson taught by true anthropology, viz., genuine human progress is not that which gives us a stronger grasp of the material world alone, but that which lifts each student of truth to higher and yet higher stages of real development in intellectual and moral culture, enriches each inner life, and enlarges our temporal view of an eternal existence.

Science must yet be revised by philosophy, the smoothest railway, the lightning ocean ranger, a thousand purple looms, the electric telegraph, spectrum analysis, molecular generation, minute anatomy, physical basis of life, origin of species, or modern fashionable degeneracy of male and female into bearded ana beardless types of descent from Anthropoid apes, in which each is held to be superior to the other, not only in rights and privileges, of every kind and degree, but in body, sense, and mind; whatever may by our supposed discoveries, in the natural or unnatural sciences, depend upon it, they are real and lasting triumphs only, when the science of intellect unites with moral earnestness for good, and Christian charity rules each heart, for ends that bring true happiness to man and glory to God, thus, and thus alone, shall the world of humanity be enabled to distinguish between things that differ, or gain spiritual insight into those gorgeous scenes of deathless beauty, beheld alike by Socrates, Schiller, and Goethe, when stepping from the confines of earth, into the glories of heaven, their wonder and admiration were expressed in those remarkable words, “To die is a pleasure, since I go to hold converse with the greatest heroes of antiquity!” “Things are growing clear and plain!” “More light!” “More Light!”

The Kind of Spiritualism They Have Abroad

Some day or other our fashionable cliques, tired of balls, races and fandangos generally, and seeking a new sensation, will discover that Spiritualism is the study and consolation of the highest clases of European socity; we will then see the names of our pinchbeck haut-ton figuring in connection with seances, lectures, and public receptions. For the encouragement of such, we give the following list of the guests at a recent dinner and reception of the Earl and Countess of Caithness, who are excelled by none in devotion to the Cause:

His Excellency the Persian Minister, the Princess Malcom Khan and Mademoiselle Dadien, the Duchess of Saidanha. His Imperial Highness Prince Khodokanakis. Monsignor Capel, the Earl of Camperdown, the Countess of Dunraven. Mr. and Lady Isabella Schuster. Lady Beaumont, Dowager Lady Bateman, the Hon. Mrs. Herbert (Llanarth), Sir Tollemache Sinclair (M. P.), Mr. Uniaque Lawlor, and Senor del Astillo; the Marchioness of Ormond and Lady Blanche Butler, the Countess of Antrim, (Laura), the Count and Countess Batthyany, the Earl of Perth and Misses Stums, Lord and Lady Aurelius Beauclerc, Lord and Lady Clarence Paget, and the Misses Paget, Lord and Lady Stanley (of Alderney), Lady Clevante and Miss Murray, Lady William Graham and Miss Dashwood, the Lady Edith Drummond, the Lady Caroline Rickets and Miss Rickets, the Lady Abercromby, Lady Carew, Lady Charles Pelham Clinton and Miss Clinton, Lord Redesdale, Mr. and Lady Constance Bellingham, Lady Edith Noel, the Vicomte de St. Jean, Lady Mathison, Sir Walter and Lady Caroline Stirling, Lady and Miss Cochrane, Lady Carbury and Miss Evans-Freke, Lady Lurgan and the Misses Brownlow, the Lord Chief Baron and Miss Fitzroy, Kelly, Lord Seaton, Sir Andrew Buchanan, (Her Majesty 's Minister at Court of Vienna), Sir John and the Hon. Lady Sebright, Sir Charles and Lady Clifford, Sir Daniel Lange.

<Untitled> (A. J. Davis has dribbled an endless stream)

A. J. Davis has dribbled an endless stream of rhapsodical bosh. Obscureness, dullness, and stupidity are his characteristics.” (New York World, Nov. 30, 1874.) Complete set of these Works sent, C. O. D., $28. Address “A. J. Davis & Co., No. 24 East Fourth Street, New York.

Editor's notes

  1. Catholicity of Spiritualism by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 1, No. 20, January 21, 1875, p. 232
  2. The Kind of Spiritualism They Have Abroad by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 18, July 8, 1875, p. 209
  3. A. J. Davis has dribbled an endless stream by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 1, No. 18, January 7, 1875, p. 214