Hypnotism, Telepathy, and Dreams

by Henry Holt

A good many good judges find the world more out of joint, and moving with a more threatening rattling, than at any previous time since the French Revolution, and think that this is largely because the machine has lost too much of that regulation it used to get from the religions. Much of the regulation came from an interest in things wider than those directly revealed by sense.

Possibly a revival of such an interest may be promised by the recent indications of a range of our forces, both physical and psychic, far wider than previous experience has indicated. This leads us to invite attention to some unusual psychic phenomena evinced by persons of exceptional sensibilities not yet as well understood, or even as carefully investigated, as perhaps they deserve to be. The physical phenomena are outside of our present purpose.

There are hundreds of well authenticated reports of super-usual visions. The vast majority of them, however, were experienced when the percipients were in bed, but believed themselves awake. But almost everybody has often believed himself awake in bed, when he was only dreaming. Hence the probability is overwhelming that most of these super-usual experiences were had in dreams.

But it is certain that not all were, at least in dreams as ordinarily understood; but there seems to be a waking dream state. Foster’s visions virtually all came while he was awake, and they were generally at once described by him as if he were describing a landscape or a play. At times he very closely identified himself with some personality of his visions, and acted out the personality, just as Mrs. Piper has habitually done. The following is an approximate instance, quoted by Bartlett (The Salem Seer, p. 51f.):

Says a writer in the New York World, Dec. 27, 1885:

… While we were talking one night, Foster and I, there came a knock at the door. Bartlett arose and opened it, disclosing as he did so two young men plainly dressed, of marked provincial aspect…. I saw at once that they were clients, and arose to go. Foster restrained me.

“Sit down,” he said. “I’ll try and get rid of them, for I’m not in the humor to be disturbed….”

Foster hinted that he had no particular inclination to gratify them then and there, but they protested that they had come some distance, and, with a characteristically good-natured smile, he gave in….

Then follows an account of a fairly good séance—taps on the marble table, reading pellets, describing persons, etc., until I thought Foster was tired of the interview and was feigning sleep to end it. All of a sudden he sprang to his feet with such an expression of horror and consternation as an actor playing Macbeth would have given a good deal to imitate. His eyes glared, his breast heaved, his hands clenched….

“Why did you come here?” cried Foster, in a wail that seemed to come from the bottom of his soul. “Why do you come here to torment me with such a sight? Oh, God! It’s horrible! It’s horrible!… It is your father I see!… He died fearfully! He died fearfully! He was in Texas—on a horse—with cattle. He was alone. It is the prairies! Alone! The horse fell! He was under it! His thigh was broken—horribly broken! The horse ran away and left him! He lay there stunned! Then he came to his senses! Oh! his thigh was dreadful! Such agony! My God! Such agony!”

Foster fairly screamed at this. The younger of the men … broke into violent sobs. His companion wept, too, and the pair of them clasped hands. Bartlett looked on concerned. As for me, I was astounded.

“He was four days dying—four days dying—of starvation and thirst,” Foster went on, as if deciphering some terrible hieroglyphs written on the air. “His thigh swelled to the size of his body. Clouds of flies settled on him—flies and vermin—and he chewed his own arm and drank his own blood. He died mad. And my God! he crawled three miles in those four days! Man! Man! that’s how your father died!”

So saying, with a great sob, Foster dropped into his chair, his cheeks purple, and tears running down them in rivers. The younger man … burst into a wild cry of grief and sank upon the neck of his friend. He, too, was sobbing as if his own heart would break. Bartlett stood over Foster wiping his forehead with a handkerchief….

“It’s true,” said the younger man’s friend; “his father was a stock-raiser in Texas, and after he had been missing from his drove for over a week, they found him dead and swollen with his leg broken. They tracked him a good distance from where he must have fallen. But nobody ever heard till now how he died.” …

Now it is hardly to be supposed that the young visitor could ever have had this scene in his mind as vividly as Foster had. In that case where and how did Foster get the vividness and emotion? How do we get them in dreams? He dreamed while he was awake.

As Bartlett quotes this, and as it declares him to have been present, he of course attests it by quoting it. So in each of Bartlett’s quoted cases, the original witness is the reporter in the newspaper, and Bartlett, who was present (he was Foster’s traveling companion and business agent) thus confirms it. We know Mr. Bartlett personally, and have thorough confidence in his sanity and sincerity. We have also been at the pains to learn that he commands the confidence and respect of his fellow townsmen in Tolland, Connecticut, where he is passing a green old age. Moreover, he does not interpret these phenomena by “spiritism.”

We also had a sitting with Foster, in which he undoubtedly showed abundant telepathy, and satisfied us that he was fundamentally honest, though not always discriminating between his involuntary impressions, and his natural impulses to help out their coherence and interest.


Those who explain these things by denying their existence, were at least excusable thirty, or even twenty, years ago, but since the carefully sifted and authenticated and recorded evidence of recent years, especially that gathered by the Society for Psychical Research, the makers of such explanations simply put themselves in the category of those who, in Schopenhauer’s day, denied the telopsis which is now quite generally recognized. He said their attitude should not be called skeptical, but merely ignorant. This brings to mind an excellent very practical friend who read the first number of this Review, and praised it, but said: “Don’t fool any more with Psychical Research and Simplified Spelling.” We refrained from saying that we had not known that he had ever studied either, and we would not say it here if we were not confident that his aversion from the subject will prevent his reading this.

To return to the manifestations: here are some other cases where Foster identified himself with a personality of his vision. (Bartlett, op. cit., 93.)

From Sacramento Record, December 8, 1873:

Foster at one time seized A.’s hand, explaining, “God bless you, my dear boy, my son. I am thankful I at last may speak to you. I want you to know I am your father, who loved you in life and loves you still. I am near to you; a thin veil alone separates us. Good-by. I am your father, Abijah A——”

“Good heavens!” exclaimed A——, “that was my father’s name, his tone, his manner, his action.”

“And,” said Foster, “it was a good influence; he was a man of large veneration.”

The above indicates what we will provisionally call Possession. But it is not possession to the extent of complete expulsion of the original consciousness, as in the trances of Home, Moses, and Mrs. Piper.

And which is the following? (Bartlett, op. cit., 103):

[Letter to editor, written Nov. 30, 1874]

New York Daily Graphic: … He told me he saw the spirit of an old woman close to me, describing most perfectly my grandmother, and repeating: “Resodeda, Resodeda is here; she kisses her grandson.” Arising from his chair, Foster embraced and kissed me in the same peculiar way as my grandmother did when alive.

But here the Possession seems complete (Bartlett, op. cit., 140). From the Melbourne Daily Age:

Mr. Foster … in answer to the question, What he died of? suddenly interrupted, “Stay, this spirit will enter and possess me,” and instantaneously his whole body was seized with quivering convulsions, the eyes were introverted, the face swelled, and the mouth and hands were spasmodically agitated. Another change, and there sat before me the counterpart of the figure of my departed friend, stricken down with complete paralysis, just as he was on his death-bed. The transformation was so life-like, if I may use the expression, that I fancied I could detect the very features and physiognomical changes that passed across the visage of my dying friend. The kind of paralysis was exactly represented, with the palsied hand extended to me to shake, as in the case of the original. Mr. Foster recovered himself when I touched it, and he said in reply to one of my companions that he had completely lost his own identity during the fit, and felt like waves of water flowing all over his body, from the crown downwards.

Now for some tentative explanation of these rather unusual proceedings. It is generally known that a hypnotized person will imagine things and do things willed by the hypnotizer, that the sensibility of persons to hypnotism varies, and that persons frequently hypnotized become increasingly susceptible to the influence.

Now what is ordinarily called thought transference has all these symptoms, and the combined indications seem to be that persons who readily experience thought-transference are specially susceptible to hypnotic influence, and get the transferred thought from almost anybody, just as the recognized hypnotic subject gets it from his hypnotizer; and that persons of excessive sensibility, like Foster, Home, Mrs. Holland, Mrs. Piper and mediums generally—the genuine ones,—simply get their impressions hypnotically from their sitters.

But this explanation (?) by no means covers the whole situation. In the first place, it does not cover the vividness and the emotional content often displayed by the sensitive. The sitter is very seldom conscious of anything approaching it. It comes nearer to, in fact almost seems identical with, the frequent vividness and intensity of dreams. But where do dreams come from, whether in sleep, or in a waking “dream state” like that of Foster and many other sensitives? They don’t come from any assignable “sitter.” This present scribe dreams architecture and bric-a-brac finer than any he ever saw, or than any ever made. Yet he is no architect, or artist of any kind. Where does it all come from?

Dreams, moreover, are filled with memories of forgotten things. Where do they come from? Dreams, too, are by no means devoid of truths not previously known to the dreamer, or, it would sometimes seem, to anybody else. Where do they come from?

Du Prel and his school say they come from a “subliminal self,” and Myers picks up the term and spreads it through Anglo-Saxondom. But those queer dreams frequently include persons who oppose the self—argue with it, and even down it, sometimes very much for its information, regeneration and increased stability. That does not seem like a house divided against itself; such an one, we have on very high authority, is apt to fall. James, cornered by his studies in Psychical Research, was inclined to posit a “cosmic reservoir” of all thoughts and feelings that ever existed, and of potentialities of all the thoughts and feelings that are ever going to exist; and under various designations, this cosmic reservoir or,—it seems a better metaphor—the cosmic soul filling it, and dribbling into our little souls,—is a guess of virtually all the philosophers from James back to Plato, and farther still—into the mists.

Moreover this guess is powerfully backed up by another guess: men’s speculations have been reaching back for the beginning of mind, until they recognize that a consistent doctrine of evolution finds no beginning, and demands mind as a constituent of the star-dust, and, when it really comes down to the scratch, is unable to imagine matter unassociated with mind. This is admirably expressed by James (Psychology I, 140):

If evolution is to work smoothly, consciousness in some shape must have been present at the very origin of things. Accordingly we find that the more clear-sighted evolutionary philosophers are beginning to posit it there. Each atom of the nebula, they suppose, must have had an aboriginal atom of consciousness linked with it; and, just as the material atoms have formed bodies and brains by massing themselves together, so the mental atoms, by an analogous process of aggregation, have fused into those larger consciousnesses which we know in ourselves and suppose to exist in our fellow-animals.

That mind is not limited to this connection with matter, we see proved a posteriori every day by the appearance from some source, it may be only from the memories of survivors, of minds whose accompanying matter is long since dissipated.

Moreover, in life, the matter is changing constantly and entirely—“renewed once in seven years.” Yet not only does the “plan,” the “idea,” of the material man remain the same, but his mind grows for forty, sixty, sometimes eighty years, while the body begins to go down hill at twenty-eight.

Moreover, we never see the sum of matter in the universe increasing, and we do see the sum of mind increasing every time two old thoughts coalesce into a new one, or even every time matter assumes a new form before a perceiving intelligence, not to speak of every time Mr. Bryan or Mr. Roosevelt opens his mouth. We cite these last as the extreme examples of increase—in quantity. We see another sort of increase every time Lord Bryce takes up his pen—the mental treasures of the world are added to—the contents of the cosmic reservoir worthily increased—the cosmic soul greater and more significant than before.

Parts of it farther and farther removed in time and space seem to be manifesting themselves through the sensitives every day: so the evidence is increasing that none of it has ever been extinguished. The evidence that any part has been, is merely the evidence that it has stopped flowing through each man when he dies. But there are pretty strong indications that it has welled up occasionally through another man, and yet with the original individuality apparently even stronger than it was in the first man—strong enough to make an alien body—Foster’s, in the instances quoted, look and act like the original twin body.

Yet while the cosmic soul idea seems very illuminating, and even stimulating, as far as it goes, it soon lands us in the swamp of paradox surrounding all our knowledge. How reconcile it with our individuality—the individuality as dear as life itself—virtually identical with life itself? Well, we can’t reconcile them, at least just yet. But we can pull our feet up from the swamp, and make a step that may be towards a reconciliation. Each of our brains is a network of channels through which the cosmic soul flows; and there are no two brains alike—hence our individuality.

But those brains perish. Must individuality be conceded at the cost of our mental continuity? Perhaps not. Grant even the original mind-atom to be a constituent, or inseparable companion, of an original matter-atom (wouldn’t it be more up to date to say vibration in each case?), mind, as we have already tried to demonstrate, is not limited, as matter seems to be, to those primitive atoms.


The vague but almost unescapable notion of the cosmic soul also opens up some hint of an explanation of hypnotism, including, of course, thought transference. These vague hints or gleams on the borderland of our knowledge are of course something like what must be such hints of what we know as color, as go through the pigment spots on the surface of one of the lower creatures. Such as our limits are, we can express them only in metaphors. But for that matter all of our language beyond a few material conceptions, is metaphor from them. Well, on the hypothesis (or facing the fact, if you prefer) of the cosmic soul, telepathy, hypnotism and all that sort of thing at once affiliates itself with all our easy conceptions of interflow—in fluids, gases, sounds, colors, magnetism, electricity, etc. It’s all a vague groping, but there seems something there which, as we evolve farther, we may get clearer impressions of.

Well, to return to our sheep. Foster didn’t get the clearness and intensity of his visions from the comparatively indistinct and placid impressions in his sitters’ minds. There must be something more than hypnotism from the sitter.


Now here is a tougher case which opens a new element of the problem. It is from The Autobiography of a Journalist, by W.J. Stillman, Boston, 1901, Vol. I, pp. 192-4: Not many of our older readers will require any introduction of Stillman. For the younger ones, we may say that he was a very eminent art-critic; spent most of the latter half of his life abroad, being part of the time our consul at Crete; wrote a history of the Cretan Rebellion, and other books; and was a regular correspondent of The Nation, and of The London Times. We never knew his veracity questioned.

Here is the story:

A “spiritual medium,” Miss A. was “under the control” of Stillman’s dead cousin “Harvey.” The “possession” seems to have been throughout free from trance. Stillman says:

I asked Harvey if he had seen old Turner, the landscape painter, since his death, which had taken place not very long before. The reply was “Yes,” and I then asked what he was doing, the reply being a pantomime of painting. I then asked if Harvey could bring Turner there, to which the reply was, “I do not know; I will go and see,” upon which Miss A. said, “This influence [Harvey’s. Editor] is going away—it is gone”; and after a short pause added, “There is another influence coming, in that direction,” pointing over her left shoulder. “I don’t like it,” and she shuddered slightly, but presently sat up in her chair with a most extraordinary personation of the old painter in manner, in the look out from under the brow, and the pose of the head. It was as if the ghost of Turner, as I had seen him at Griffiths’s, sat in the chair, and it made my flesh creep to the very tips of my fingers, as if a spirit sat before me. Miss A. exclaimed, “This influence has taken complete possession of me, as none of the others did. I am obliged to do what it wants me to.” I asked if Turner would write his name for me, to which she replied by a sharp, decided negative sign. I then asked if he would give me some advice about my painting, remembering Turner’s kindly invitation and manner when I saw him. This proposition was met by the same decided negative, accompanied by the fixed and sardonic stare which the girl had put on at the coming of the new influence. This disconcerted me, and I then explained to my brother what had been going on, as, the questions being mental, he had no clue to the pantomime. I said that as an influence which purported to be Turner was present, and refused to answer any questions, I supposed there was nothing more to be done.

But Miss A. still sat unmoved and helpless, so we waited. Presently she remarked that the influence wanted her to do something she knew not what, only that she had to get up and go across the room, which she did with the feeble step of an old man. She crossed the room and took down from the wall a colored French lithograph, and, coming to me, laid it on the table before me, and by gesture called my attention to it. She then went through the pantomime of stretching a sheet of paper on a drawing-board, then that of sharpening a lead pencil, following it up by tracing the outlines of the subject in the lithograph. Then followed in similar pantomime the choosing of a water-color pencil, noting carefully the necessary fineness of the point, and then the washing-in of a drawing, broadly. Miss A. seemed much amused by all this, but as she knew nothing of drawing she understood nothing of it. Then with the pencil and her pocket handkerchief she began taking out the lights, “rubbing-out,” as the technical term is. This seemed to me so contrary to what I conceived to be the execution of Turner that I interrupted with the question, “Do you mean to say that Turner rubbed out his lights?” to which she gave the affirmative sign. I asked further if in a drawing which I then had in my mind, the well-known “Llanthony Abbey,” the central passage of sunlight and shadow through rain was done in that way, and she again gave the affirmative reply, emphatically. I was so firmly convinced to the contrary that I was now persuaded that there was a simulation of personality, such as was generally the case with the public mediums, and I said to my brother, who had not heard any of my questions [He says above that they were mental. Ed.] that this was another humbug, and then repeated what had passed, saying that Turner could not have worked in that way.

Six weeks later I sailed for England, and, on arriving in London, I went at once to see Ruskin, and told him the whole story. He declared the contrariness manifested by the medium to be entirely characteristic of Turner, and had the drawing in question down for examination. We scrutinized it closely, and both recognized beyond dispute that the drawing had been executed in the way that Miss A. indicated. Ruskin advised me to send an account of the affair to the Cornhill, which I did; but it was rejected, as might have been expected in the state of public opinion at that time, and I can easily imagine Thackeray putting it into the basket in a rage.

I offer no interpretation of the facts which I have here recorded, but I have no hesitation in saying that they completed and fixed my conviction of the existence of invisible and independent intelligences to which the phenomena were due.

To me they seem perhaps the nearest I have come to a communication of something not known to any earthly intelligence, and yet it may have been so known.

When manifestations of this general nature first attracted systematic study, they were attributed, as already stated, to telepathy from the sitter. Stillman knew Turner, and as Stillman had an artist’s vividness of impression, the sensitive could have got from him a pretty good idea of Turner, and have acted it out. But how about the innumerable cases not unlike the Foster cases quoted, where sensitives get impressions much more vivid than the sitter appears capable of holding, and act them out with dramatic verisimilitude of which the sitter is absolutely incapable; and how about the innumerable cases where the sensitive gets impressions and memories which the sitter never had?

These have been accounted for as being picked up from absent persons, by a kind of wireless telegraphy, for which we have ventured, with the assistance of a couple of Grecian friends, to suggest the name teloteropathy.

Well! In this Turner case, somebody somewhere, may have known what neither the sensitive nor Stillman knew of Turner’s method of work, and the sensitive’s wireless may have picked up all those detailed impressions and dramatic impressions of them from that unknown somebody. But is that any easier to swallow than that old Turner himself was the somebody—that his share of the cosmic soul, or a sufficient portion of his share, flowed into or hypnotized the sensitive, and made her act as she did?


And now let us go on to some of the developments of these phenomena manifested by Mrs. Piper. Unlike the manifestations already given, hers are not from waking dreams, but from dreams in trance. Moreover, so far the sensitives have manifested impressions of but one personality at a time, but Mrs. Piper has manifested one by speech and, at the same time, another by writing, the expressions of the two apparent personalities progressing independently, with full coherence and consistency. Moreover, in many of her trances she seemed as if surrounded by a crowd of persons endeavoring, with different degrees of success, to express themselves through her, or she endeavoring to express them. All this of course, is counter to the impression prevailing during the early years of her career, that her soul had left her body, and the body was “possessed” by a postcarnate soul expressing itself through her. The present aspect of the facts is more as if she had impressions such as we all have in dreams, of any number of personalities around her. Some of her typical manifestations may give still further indications of interflowing of mental impressions.

The George “Pelham” famous in the annals of Psychical Research was a friend of the present writer, and his alleged postcarnate self appeared through Mrs. Piper to the following effect. There could not have been anything cooked up about it; it was my first and only sitting with Mrs. Piper, who knew nothing about me or my friends. In fact, the old theories of some form of fraud, now, in the light of the vast accumulation of later knowledge, seem ridiculous. However the phenomena have to be explained, that explanation is out of date.

G.P. speaks.—“A” [assumed initial. Ed.] “is in a critical state. He’s not himself now. He’s terribly depressed.” Sitter—“Can you tell anything [more] about A?” G.P.—“Friend of yours in body.” S.—“Of Hodgson?” [Who was present. This question and the following were mild “tests”: I knew the man well. Ed.] G.P.—“Yes.” S.—“Did I ever know him?” G.P.—“Yes, you knew him very well. You’re connected with him.” S.—“Through whom?” G.P.—“Do you know any B——?” [assumed initial. Ed.] S.—“Are A. and I connected through B?” G.P.—“Write to B. and he’ll tell you all about it.”

It turned out later that A. actually was low in his mind, and that B., whom nobody present knew, was trying to get him occupation. I knew nothing whatever about any such circumstances, nor did Hodgson. To suppose that Mrs. Piper did, would be absurd. But they were known to other minds “in the body,” and hence the medium’s utterance of them is open to the interpretation of teloteropathy. Similar instances are not rare, but the interpretation of teloteropathy seems to be rapidly losing probability.

In this instance, I was “connected with” B., but only so far as he had become a professor at Yale long after my graduation: I did not know him personally. But my intimate connection with A. was not only direct, but through several persons intimate with us both, including G.P. when living. Mere telepathy, certainly mere telepathy from my mind, would have “spotted” some one of these connections much more readily than the alleged one with B., which was hardly a connection at all.

The simplest solution for the whole business, though perhaps not the most “scientific,” or even probable, is that the spirit of G.P. was troubled about A. and habitually thinking of me at the University Club as a Yale man, on my turning up at the séance, was reminded of the solution of A.’s troubles proposed through B., and wanted me to help.

And now to this rather commonplace manifestation comes an interesting sequel illustrating the reach of mind spoken of at the outset. Out of a perfectly clear sky came to me in New York on April 8, 1894, the message from G.P., to look out for A., who was low in his mind, and that B. was trying to get a place for him. On May 29th, Hodgson writes me as follows, showing that the same thing had come up through the heteromatic writing of A.’s wife at Granada in Spain, and meant nothing to her or to A.

—You may be interested in the inclosed. Keep private. [This injunction is of course outlawed by time, but I still conceal the names of the parties. Ed.] and please return. I am writing from my den, and haven’t copy of your sitting at hand. But I remember that something was said at your sitting re B. and A.

(Copy of Enclosure.)

Granada, May 6, 1894.

“Dear H.[odgson]:

“Those suggestions from Geo. that I write to B. prove interesting in the light of what I first learned here: that he had been lamenting my silence and had been urging me to a place as —— [at] Yale where he is. I had no notion of this move on his part till four days ago when I received a letter telling me. Of course nothing came of it, but anything less known than that cannot be imagined. The message came once earlier thro’ [his wife. Ed.] to whom George wrote it [heteromatically. Ed.]. George [in life. Ed.] never heard of B. nor saw him, nor did we ever speak of B. to Geo. or Phinuit…. Of course I don’t want mention made of the effort of B. to get me the Yale place. What Geo. said was to write to B.; he is a good friend of yours [i.e., of A. Ed.]

“All send kind messages. Yrs. ever.
“A——.”

Being intensely busy, and not as much interested in the matter as later experiences have made me, I did not at the moment catch the full purport of Hodgson’s letter, or write him till June 5th, and did not keep any copy that I can find of my letter. He wrote me on the 8th:

“Thanks for yours of June 5th, with return of A.’s letter. I knew nothing whatever of the circumstances connected with B., neither, so far as I can tell by cross-questioning, did Mrs. Piper.”

And I, the present scribe, certainly did not. A. did not. B. alone did, with whatever persons he may have approached on the matter, and Mrs. Piper had presumably never seen one of the group. So where did Mrs. Piper and Mrs. A. get it? The only answers that seem possible are that she and Mrs. A. either got it teloteropathically from one of those absent, or that the postcarnate George Pelham himself wrote her about it, and also told me of it through Mrs. Piper’s organism in New York, and four days later was working it into a cross-correspondence through Mrs. A. in Spain. At first blush the latter seems easier; and I am not sure but that it does on reflection.

Hodgson’s letter continues:

“I never knew of any B. connected with Yale. When B. was first mentioned at the sitting, I had a vague notion that some B. or other had gone to England or France as United States consul. I also knew the name of —— —— B. [a celebrated author. Ed.], and met her after she became Mrs. C. two or three years ago.

“On questioning Mrs. Piper, which I did by referring to books first, I found that she remembered the name of —— —— B. when I mentioned it, and connected it in some way with [a certain book. Ed.], which was widely circulated some years ago. This was the only B. that she seemed to know anything about….

“Yours sincerely,
R. Hodgson.”

Now does not all this give a strong impression of an interflow among minds all over—in New York (the place of the sitting), Granada (Mrs. A.’s place of sojourn), Boston (A.’s home), New Haven (B.’s home), and the universe in general (G.P.’s apparent home)—of an interflow free from the limitations of time and space, and independent of all means of communication known to us?

This impression tends to grow deeper with farther study. We have had a cross-correspondence between two incarnate intelligences and one apparently postcarnate. Mr. Piddington has unearthed a cross-correspondence between one apparently postcarnate intelligence and seven “living” ones.

Perhaps the significance of cross-correspondences justifies a little more specific treatment, and even the repetition of a paragraph from the first number of this Review. The topic has lately attracted more attention from the S.P.R. than any other.

If Mrs. Verrall in London and Mrs. Holland in India both, at about the same time, write heteromatically about a subject that they both understand, that is probably coincidence; but if both write about it when but one of them understands it, that is probably teloteropathy; and if both write about it when neither understands it, and each of their respective writings is apparently nonsense, but both make sense when put together, the only obvious hypothesis is that both were inspired by a third mind.

There are many instances of strict cross-correspondence of this type. The one we have given was perhaps more impressive than a stricter one would be apt to be.


Accounts of sittings generally suggest apparent intercommunication independent of time and space between postcarnate intelligences: often the controls say that they will go and find other controls, and, generally, after a short interval, the new control manifests. It is impossible to read many of the accounts, whether one regards them as fictitious or not, without getting an impression—like that given by a good story-teller, if you please, of a life outside this one, among a host of personalities who communicate freely with each other and, through difficulties, with us. The nature of the communication we have already tried to express by “interflow.” But all metaphors are weak beside the impression of the Cosmic Soul that has been brought to most of those who have persistently studied the phenomena, as to nearly all those who have speculated a priori on the nature of mind.


Judged by the foregoing specimens, the literature of what we are provisionally considering as hypnotic telepathy would not be regarded as very cheerful. As a whole, however, the pictures it presents from an alleged postcarnate life, are cheerful, and some of them very attractive.

Below are some from an alleged George Eliot. They are from notes of Piper sittings kindly placed at our disposal by Professor Newbold.

To my taste the matter savors very little of the reputed author. And yet assuming for the moment that our great authors survive in a fuller life, presumably they would have to communicate under very embarrassing conditions: for not only would they have to cramp themselves to produce work comprehensible here, but the System of Things would have to limit them, lest their competition should upset the whole system of our literary development, or rather would have involved a different one from the beginning.

My first reading of the alleged George Eliot matter inclined me to scout it entirely. It is certainly not in all particulars what that great soul would have sent from a better world if she had been permitted to communicate anything more profound than we have been left to find out for ourselves, or even if she had had the commonplace chance to revise her manuscript. But on reflection I realized that, although the matter came through Mrs. Piper, it could not have come from her, wherever it came from; and that if George Eliot were communicating tidings naturally within our comprehension, and merely descriptive of superficial experience as distinct from reflection, and were communicating, through a poor telephone, words to be recorded by an indifferent scribe, this material would not seem absolutely incongruous with its alleged source, and to a reader knowing that the stuff claimed to be hers, might possibly suggest the weakest possible dilution or reflection of her. Yet in ways which I have no space for, it abounds in the sort of anthropomorphism that might be expected from the average medium or average sitter, but not from George Eliot.

And now, since writing the last paragraph and going through the material half a dozen times more, I have about concluded, or perhaps worked myself up to the conclusion, that if a judicious blue pencil were to take from it what could be attributed to imperfect means of communication, and what could be considered as having slopped over from the medium, there would be a pretty substantial and not unbeautiful residuum which might, without straining anything, be taken for a description by George Eliot, of the heaven she would find if, as begins to seem possible, she and the rest of us, have or are to have heavens to suit our respective tastes. But what would have to be taken out is often ludicrously incongruous with George Eliot, and taking it out would certainly be open to serious question.

Yet whatever may be the qualities, merits, or demerits of this “George Eliot” matter, what character it has is its own, and different materially from any I have seen recorded from any other control. What is vastly more important, despite the lapses in knowledge, taste, and style, which negative its being the unmodified production of George Eliot, it nevertheless presents, me judice, the most reasonable, suggestive, and attractive pictures of a life beyond bodily death that I know of: it is not a reflection of previous mythologies, it is congruous with the tastes of what we now consider rational beings, and might well fill their desires; and it tallies with our experiences—in dreams. Yet it is not a great feat of imagination; but in recent times no great genius has attacked the subject, and George Eliot would not have been expected to devote her imagination to it, which raises a slight presumption that what is told is really told by her from experience.

If I had to venture a guess as to how it came into existence, I should guess that somebody within range, hardly Mrs. Piper herself, had been reading George Eliot, or about George Eliot, and the musk-melon pollen had affected the cucumbers. Professor Newbold, for instance, was entirely able involuntarily to create and telepath the stories, and better shaped ones. Some real George Eliot influence may have flowed in too, but on that my judgment is in suspense.

“George Eliot” comes in abruptly to Hodgson, on February 26, 1897. After a few preliminaries, in response to a remark of Hodgson’s on her dislike of and disbelief in spiritism, she says:

“… You may have noted the anxiety of such as I to return and enlighten your fellow men. It is more especially confined to unbelievers before their departure to this life.”

This remark and the persistent efforts of the alleged G.P. who, living, was a thorough skeptic, would seem strongly “evidential.”

March 5, 1897.
Hodgson sitting.

[G.E. writes:] “Do you remember me well?… I had a sad life in many ways, yet in others I was happy, yet I have never known what real happiness was until I came here…. I was an unbeliever, in fact almost an agnostic when I left my body, but when I awoke and found myself alive in another form superior in quality, that is, my body less gross and heavy, with no pangs of remorse, no struggling to hold on to the material body, I found it had all been a dream….” R.H.: “That was your first experience?” G.E.: “… The moment I had been removed from my body I found at once I had been thoroughly mistaken in my conjectures. I looked back upon my whole life in one instant. Every thought, word, or action which I had ever experienced passed through my mind like a wonderful panorama as it were before my vision. You cannot begin to imagine anything so real and extraordinary as this first awakening…. I awoke in a realm of golden light. I heard the voices of friends who had gone before calling to me to follow them. At the moment the thrill of joy was so intense I was like one standing spellbound before a beautiful panorama. The music which filled my soul was like a tremendous symphony. I had never heard nor dreamed of anything half so beautiful….

“Another thing which seemed to me beautiful was the tranquillity of everyone. You will perhaps remember that I had left a state where no one ever knew what tranquillity meant.”

March 13, 1807: “I was speaking about the songs of our birds. Then the birds seemed to pass beyond my vision, and I longed for music of other kinds…. When, to my surprise, my desires were filled…. Just before me sat the most beautiful bevy of young girls that eyes ever rested upon. Some playing stringed instruments, others that sounded and looked like silver bugles, but they were all in harmony, and I must truly confess that I never heard such strains of music before. No mortal mind can possibly realize anything like it. It was not only in this one thing that my desires were filled, but in all things accordingly. I had not one desire, but that it was filled without any apparent act of myself.

“I longed to see gardens and trees, flowers, etc. I no sooner had the desire than they appeared…. Such beautiful flowers no human eye ever gazed upon. It was simply indescribable, yet everything was real…. I walked and moved along as easily as a fly would pass through a ray of sunlight in your world. I had no weight, nothing cumbersome, nothing…. I passed along through this garden, meeting millions of friends. As they were all friendly to me, each and every one seemed to be my friend…. I then thought of different friends I had once known, and my desire was to meet some one of them, when like every other thought or desire that I had expressed, the friend of whom I thought instantly appeared.”

How much all this is like dreams!

March 27, 1897. (A good deal of confusion, out of which appears) “He will insist upon calling me Miss, but let him if he wishes. I am very much Mrs. Never mind so long as it suits him….

“I have a desire for reading, when instantly my whole surrounding is literally filled with books of all kinds and by many different authors…. When I touched a book and desired to meet its author, if he or she were in our world, he or she would instantly appear. [Is this purely incidental reiterated claim for female authors, by one of them, ‘evidential,’ or was Mrs. Piper ingenious enough to invent it? Ed.]….”

The change of the instrument below is a specially dreamlike touch.

March 30, 1897. “I wished to see and realize that some of the mortal world’s great musicians really existed, and asked to be visited by some one or more of them. When this was expressed, instantly several appeared before me, and Rubinstein stood before me playing upon an instrument like a harp at first. Then the instrument was changed and a piano appeared and he played upon it with the most delightful ease and grace of manner. While he was playing the whole atmosphere was filled with his strains of music.”

She wanted to see Rembrandt, and he came, with a quantity of pictures. She wanted a symphony, and an orchestra “of some thirty musicians” at once appeared and gave her several, which she enjoyed to the full.

Now George Eliot was a remarkably good musician. If she wanted an orchestra, she would have wanted at least sixty, and probably more than a hundred. Perhaps they do these things with more limited resources in Heaven? Such an incongruity as this, and the inane dilution of the writing (which of course does not appear at its worst in the selected passages) make a genuine George Eliot control hard to predicate, and yet this control, like virtually every other one, is an individuality, and is less unlike George Eliot than is any other control I know. Will difficulties of communication or any other tertium quid, make up the difference? I first read the record with repulsion, and now find in it some elements of attraction.

Do you care for a little more? She wanted to see “angels,” and gives a very pretty picture of an experience with a bevy of children. Telepathy from the sitter will hardly account for the following, especially the strange turn at the end, which is signally dreamlike.

“I being fond, very fond of writers of ancient history, etc., felt a strong desire to see Dante, Aristotle and several others. Shakespeare if such a spirit existed. [An odd bunch of ‘writers of ancient history’! Ed.] As I stood thinking of him a spirit instantly appeared who speaking said ‘I am Bacon.’ … As Bacon neared me he began to speak and quoted to me the following words ‘You have questioned my reality. Question it no more. I am Shakespeare.’”

June 4, 1897. “… Speak to me for a moment and if you have anything to say in the nature of poetry or prose would you kindly recite a line or two to me. It will give me strength to remain longer than I could otherwise do. [R.H. recites a poem of Dowden’s beginning,

‘I said I will find God and forth I went

To seek him in the clearness of the sky,’ etc. Excitement.]

G.E.: ‘I will go and see G. and return presently (R.H.: Who says that?) I do. (R.H.: I do not understand what you mean by G.) I do. My husband. Do you not know I had a husband? (R.H.: Do you mean by G. Mr. George Henry Lewes?) [Hand is writing Lewes while I am saying George Henry] Lewes. Yes I do. Oh I am so happy. And when I did not mistake altogether my deeds I am more happy than tongue can utter.”

As bearing on her feeling for Lewes not many months after his death, the foregoing does not correspond with some widely credited but unpublished allegations.

Now does not all this read as if Mrs. Piper were dreaming of George Eliot, just as any of us might dream? Its quality seems as if it might be a transcript of one of my own dreams, with the important exceptions that the dreamer wrote it all out, and that it is made up from a series of dreams, coming up at intervals for about six months, and apparently only when Hodgson was present, though there are records of George Eliot appearing to other sitters at other seances.


We have, then, groped our way to a vague notion of a dream-life on the part of certain sensitives, which seems to participate in another life, in some ways similar, that is led by intelligences who have passed beyond the body.

We are not saying that this interpretation of the phenomena is the correct one: on the contrary we are constantly haunted by a suspicion that any day it may be exploded by some new discovery. But we do say, with considerable confidence, that of all the interpretations yet offered—even including the pervasive one that “the little boy lied,” it surpasses all the others in the portion of the facts that it fits, and in the weight attached to it by the most capable students—even by James, who, however, did not accept it as established, though he gave many indications that he felt himself likely to. Myers definitely accepted it, not from the impressions of the sensitives, but from having them capped by a veridical impression of his own. Through the church service one Sunday morning, he felt an inner voice assuring him: “Your friend is still with you.” Later he found that Gurney, with whom he had a manifestation-pact, had died the night before. We are not aware that Myers ever published this, but he told it to the present writer and presumably to others. The convictions of Hodgson and Sir Oliver Lodge were interpretations of the phenomena of the sensitives, though Hodgson, it is now known, was probably mainly influenced by communications from the alleged postcarnate soul of all possible ones most dear to him.

But to return to the sensitives. They seem to be somnambulists who talk out and write out what they see and hear in their dreams. What they see, and consequently what they say, is a good deal of a jumble. They see and hear persons they never saw before. Sometimes they identify themselves more or less with these personalities. Mrs. Piper nearly always does. Those others say many things, and very often correct things, unknown to sensitives, to anybody present, or to anybody else that can be found. Rather unusual among ordinary dreamers, but by no means unprecedented. But from here on the experiences of the sensitives are more and more unusual.

Some of the people Mrs. Piper (I speak of her as the representative of a class) never saw before, and of whom she never saw portraits, she identifies from photographs. Very few people have done that: perhaps very few have had the chance. There have been many times when I am sure I could, if photographs had been presented.

Her personalities and those of many sensitives are nearly always “dead” friends, not of the sensitives, but of the sitters, and abound in indications of genuineness in scope and accuracy of memory, in distinctness of individual recollections and characteristics, and in all the dramatic indications that go to demonstrate personalities. She sees and hears these personalities again and again, and keeps them distinct in feature and character.

Now what do we mean by personalities? Is one, after all, anything more or less than an individualized aggregate of cosmic vibrations, physical and psychical, with the power of producing on us certain impressions. You and I know our friends as such aggregates, and nothing more.

And what do we mean by discarnate personalities? In most minds, the first answer will probably bear a pretty close resemblance to Fra Angelico’s angels, and very nice angels they are! But to some of the more prosy minds that have thought on the subject in the light of the best and fullest information, or misinformation, probably the answer will be more like this: A personality, incarnate or postcarnate, in the last analysis, is a manifestation of the Cosmic Soul. From that the raw material is supplied with the star dust, and later, through our senses, from the earliest reactions of our protozoic ancestors, up to our dreams; and the material is worked up into each personality through reactions with the environment. Thus it becomes an aggregate of capacities to impress another personality with certain sensations, ideas, emotions. As already said, the incarnate personality impresses us thru certain vibrations. But after that portion of the vibrations constituting “the body” disappears, there still abides somewhere the capacity of impressing us, at least in the dream life. Perhaps it abides only in the memory of survivors, and gets into our dreams telepathically, though that is losing probability every day; and, with our anthropomorphic habits, we want to know “where” this capacity to impress us abides. The thinkers generally say: In the Cosmic reservoir, which I would rather express as the psychic ocean, boundless, fathomless, throbbing eternally. It seems to be made up of the original mind-potential plus all thoughts and feelings that have ever been. And into this ocean seem to be constantly passing those currents that we know as individualities, that can each influence, and even intermingle with, other individualities, here as well as there: for here really is there. While each does this, it still retains its own individuality. This is, of course, a vague string of guesses venturing outward from the borderland of our knowledge. It may be a little clearer, the more we bear in mind that the apparent influencings and interminglings seem to be telepathic.

Now apparently among the accomplishments of a personality, does not necessarily inhere that of depressing a scale x pounds: for when that capacity is entirely absent, from the apparent personalities who visit us in the dream state, they can impress us in every other way, even to all the reciprocities of sex. But for some reasons not yet understood, with ordinary dreamers these impressions are not as congruous, persistent, recurrent, or regulable in the dream life as in the waking life. But with Mrs. Piper, Hodgson after his death, and especially G.P. and others, were about as persistent and consistent associates as anybody living, barring the fact that they could not show themselves over an hour or two at a time, which was the limit of the medium’s psychokinetic power, on which their manifestations depended. But that these personalities are not in time to be evolved so that they will be more permanent and consistent with dreamers generally, would be a contradiction to at least some of the implications of evolution.


Accepting provisionally the identity of a postcarnate life with the life indicated in dreams, are there any further indications of its nature? There are some, which may lend some slight confirmation to the theory of identity.

It seems to show itself not only in the visions of the sensitives, but in the dream life of all of us. If Mrs. Piper’s dream state (I name her only as a type) is really one of communication with souls who have passed into a new life, dream states generally may not extravagantly be supposed to be foretastes of that life. And so far as concerns their desirability, why should they not be? Our ordinary dreams are, like the dreams of the sensitives, superior to time, space, matter and force—to all the trammels of our waking environment and powers. In dreams we experience unlimited histories, and pass over unlimited spaces, in an instant; see, hear, feel, touch, taste, smell, enjoy unlimited things; walk, swim, fly, change things, with unlimited ease; do things with unlimited power; make what we will—music, poetry, objects of art, situations, dramas, with unlimited faculty, and enjoy unlimited society. Unless we have eaten too much, or otherwise got ourselves out of order in the waking life, in the dream life we seldom if ever know what it is to be too late for anything, or too far from anything; we freely fall from chimneys or precipices, and I suppose it will soon be aeroplanes, with no worse consequences than comfortably waking up into the everyday world; we sometimes solve the problems which baffle us here; we see more beautiful things than we see here; and, far above all, we resume the ties that are broken here.

The indications seem to be that if we ever get the hang of that life, we can have pretty much what we like, and eliminate what we don’t like—continue what we enjoy, and stop what we suffer—find no bars to congeniality, or compulsion to boredom. To good dreamers it is unnecessary to offer proof of any of these assertions, and to prove them to others is impossible.

The dream life contains so much more beauty, so much fuller emotion, and such wider reaches than the waking life, that one is tempted to regard it as the real life, to which the waking life is somehow a necessary preliminary. So orthodox believers regard the life after death as the real life: yet most of their hopes regarding that life—even the strongest hope of rejoining lost loved ones—are realized here during the brief throbs of the dream life.

There seems to be no happiness from association in our ordinary life which is not obtainable, by some people at least, from association in the dream life. And as this appears to exist between incarnate A and postcarnate B, there is at least a suggestion that it may exist between postcarnate A and postcarnate B, and to a degree vastly more clear and abiding than during the present discrepancy between the incarnate and postcarnate conditions? This of course assumes, that B’s appearance in A’s dream life, just as he appeared on earth (though, as I know to be the case, sometimes wiser, healthier, jollier, and more lovable generally), is something more than a mild attack of dyspepsia on the part of A.

Dreams do not seem to abound in work, and are often said not to abound in morality, but I know that they sometimes do—in morality higher than any attainable in our waking life. Certainly the scant vague indications from the dream suggestions of a future life do not necessarily preclude abundant work and morality, any more than work and sundry self-denials are precluded on a holiday because one does not happen to perform them. Moreover, the hoped-for future conditions may not contain the necessities for either labor or self-restraint that present conditions do: they may not be the same dangers there as here in the dolce far niente, or in Platonic friendships.


Men are not consistent in their attitude regarding dreams. They admit the dream state to be ideal—constantly use such expressions as “A dream of loveliness,” “Happier than I could even dream,” “Surpasses my fondest dreams,” and yet on the other hand they call its experience “but the baseless vision of a dream.” What do they mean by “baseless”? Certainly it is not lack of vividness or emotional intensity. It is probably the lack of duration in the happy experiences, and of the possibility of remembering them, and, still more, of enjoying similar ones at will. Yet the sensitives do both in recurrent instalments of the dream life, and like the rest of us, through the intervening waking periods, after the first hour or so, generally know nothing of the dreams. It is not vividness of the dream life itself that is lacking, but vividness in our memories of it. James defines our waking personality as the stream of consciousness: the dream life gives no such stream. To-night does not continue last night as to-day continues yesterday. The dream life is not like a stream, but more like a series, though hardly integral enough to be a series, of disconnected pools, many of them perhaps more enchanting than any parts of the waking stream, but not, like that stream, an organic whole with motion toward definite results, and power to attain them. But suppose the dream life continues after the body’s death, and under direction toward definite ends, at least so far as the waking life is, and still free from the trammels of the waking life—suppose us to have at least as much power to secure its joys and avoid its terrors as we have regarding those of the waking life; and with all the old intimacies which it spasmodically restores, restored permanently, and with the discipline of separation to make them nearer perfect. What more can we manage to want?

The suggestion has come to more than one student, that when we enter into life—as spermatozoa, or star dust if you please—we enter into the eternal life, but that the physical conditions essential to our development into appreciating it, are a sort of veil between it and our consciousness. In our waking life we know it only through the veil; but when in sleep or trance, the material environment is removed from consciousness, the veil becomes that much thinner, and we get better glimpses of the transcendent reality.

Does it not seem then as if, in dreams, we enter upon our closer relation with the hyper-phenomenal mind? All sorts of things seem to be in it, from the veriest trifles and absurdities up to the highest things our minds can receive, and presumably an infinity of things higher still. They appear to flow into us in all sorts of ways, presumably depending upon the condition of the nerve apparatus through which they flow. If that is out of gear from any disorder or injury, what it receives is not only trifling, but often grotesque and painful; while if it is in good estate, it often receives things far surpassing in beauty and wisdom those of our waking phenomenal world.

Apparently every dreamer is a medium for this flow, but dreamers vary immensely in their capacity to receive it—from Hodge, who dreams only when he has eaten too much, or Professor Gradgrind who never dreams at all, up to Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Piper.

As oft remarked, dreams generally are nonsense, but some dreams, or parts of some dreams, are perhaps the most significant things we know. Each vision, waking or sleeping, must have a cause, and as an expression of that cause, must be veridical. On the one hand, the cause of a trivial dream is generally too trivial to be ascertained: it may be too much lobster, or impaired circulation or respiration; while on the other hand (and here the paradox seems to be explained), the cause of an important dream must, ex vi termini, be some important event. But important events are rare, and therefore significant dreams are rare; while trivial events are frequent, and therefore trivial dreams are frequent.

The important and rare event may be such a conjunction of circumstances and temperaments as makes it possible for a postcarnate intelligence, assuming the existence of such, to communicate with an incarnate one. That such apparent communications are rare tends to indicate their genuineness.


Now to develop a little farther the time-honored hypothesis of a cosmic soul as explaining dreams, and supported by them.

Admit, provisionally at least, that the medium is merely an extraordinary dreamer. Does a man do his own dreaming, or is it done for him? Does a man do his own digesting, circulating, assimilating, or is it done for him? If he does not do these things himself, who does? About the physical functions through the sympathetic nerve, we answer unhesitatingly: the cosmic force. How, then, about the psychic functions? Are they done by the cosmic psyche?

Like respiration, they are partly under our control, but that does not affect the problem. Who runs them when we do not run them, even when we try to stop them that we may get to sleep? Even when, after they have yielded to our entreaties to stop, and we are asleep, they begin going again—without our will. The only probability I can make out is that our thinking is run by a power not ourselves, as much as our other partly involuntary functions.

To hold that a man does his own dreaming—that it is done by a secondary layer of his own consciousness—is to hold that we are made up of layers of consciousness, of which the poorest layer is that of what we call our waking life, and the better layers are at our service only in our dreams—that when a man is asleep or mad he can solve problems, compose music, create pictures, to which, when awake and in his sober senses, and in a condition to profit by his work, and give profit from it, he is inadequate.

Nay more, the theory claims that a man’s working consciousness—his self—the only self known to him or the world, will hold and shape his life by a set of convictions which, in sleep, he will himself prove wrong, and thereby revolutionize his philosophy and his entire life. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to attribute all such results—the solutions of the problems, the music, the pictures, the corrections of the errors—to a power outside himself?

I cannot believe that there’s anything in my individual consciousness which my experience or that of my ancestors has not placed there—in raw material at least; or that in working up that raw material I can exert any genius in my sometimes chaotic dreams that I cannot exert in my systematized waking hours. All the people I meet and talk with in my dreams may have been met and talked with by me or my forebears, though I don’t believe it; but the works of art I see have not been known to me or my ancestors or any other mortal; nor have I any sign of the genius to combine whatever elements of them I may have seen, into any such designs. And when in dreams other persons tell me things contrary to my firmest convictions, in which things I later discover germs of most important workable truth, the persons who tell me that, and who are different from me as far as fairly decent persons can differ from each other, are certainly not, as the good Du Prel would have us believe, myself. All these things are not figments of my mind—if they are figments of a mind, it’s a mind bigger than mine. The biggest claim I can make, or assent to anybody else making, is that my mind is telepathically receptive of the product of that greater mind.

Here are some farther evidences of the greater mind, given by Lombroso (After Death, What?, 320f.):

It is well known that in his dreams Goethe solved many weighty scientific problems and put into words many most beautiful verses. So also La Fontaine (The Fable of Pleasures) and Coleridge and Voltaire. Bernard Palissy had in a dream the inspiration for one of his most beautiful ceramic pieces….

Holde composed while in a dream La Phantasie, which reflects in its harmony its origin; and Nodier created Lydia, and at the same time a whole theory on the future of dreaming. Condillac in dream finished a lecture interrupted the evening before. Kruger, Corda, and Maignan solved in dreams mathematical problems and theorems. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his Chapters on Dreams, confesses that portions of his most original novels were composed in the dreaming state. Tartini had while dreaming one of his most portentous musical inspirations. He saw a spectral form approaching him. It is Beelzebub in person. He holds a magic violin in his hands, and the sonata begins. It is a divine adagio, melancholy-sweet, a lament, a dizzy succession of rapid and intense notes. Tartini rouses himself, leaps out of bed, seizes his violin, and reproduces all that he had heard played in his sleep. He names it the Sonata del Diavolo, …

Giovanni Dupré got in a dream the conception of his very beautiful Pietà. One sultry summer day Dupré was lying on a divan thinking hard on what kind of pose he should choose for the Christ. He fell asleep, and in dream he saw the entire group at last complete, with Christ in the very pose he had been aspiring to conceive, but which his mind had not succeeded in completely realizing.

It is a quite frequent experience that a person perplexed by a problem at night finds it solved on waking in the morning. Efforts to remember, which are unsuccessful before going to sleep, on waking are often found accomplished.

A dream is a work of genius, and in many respects, perhaps most, especially in vividness of imagination, the best example we have. It is the most spontaneous, constructed with the least effort from fewest materials, the least restrained, and often immeasurably surpassing all works of waking genius in the same department. A genius gets a trifling hint, and being inspired by the gods (anthropomorphic for: flowed in upon by the cosmic soul?) builds out of the hint a poem or a drama or a symphony. You and I build dreams surpassing the poem or the drama or the symphony, but our friends Dryasdust and Myopia inquire into our experiences, and sometimes find a little hint on which a dream was built, and then all dreams are demonstrated things unworthy of serious consideration. Is it not a more rational view that the fact that the soul can in the dream state elaborate so much from so little, indicates it to be then already in a life which has no limits?

Havelock Ellis, in his World of Dreams, says (p. 229):

Our eyes close, our muscles grow slack, the reins fall from our hands. But it sometimes happens that the horse knows the road home even better than we know it ourselves.

He puts “the horse” outside of the dreamer plainly enough here. He further says (p. 280).

If we take into account the complete psychic life of dreaming, subconscious as well as conscious, it is waking, not sleeping, life which may be said to be limited…. Sleep, Vaschide has said, is not, as Homer thought, the brother of Death, but of Life, and, it may be added, the elder brother….

He quotes from Bergson (Revue Philosophique, December, 1908, p. 574):

This dream state is the substratum of our normal state. Nothing is added in waking life; on the contrary, waking life is obtained by the limitation, concentration, and tension of that diffuse psychological life which is the life of dreaming…. To be awake is to will; cease to will, detach yourself from life, become disinterested: in so doing you pass from the waking ego to the dreaming ego, which is less tense, but more extended than the other.

Ellis continues (p. 281):

I have cultivated, so far as I care to, my garden of dreams, and it scarcely seems to me that it is a large garden. Yet every path of it, I sometimes think, might lead at last to the heart of the universe.

But with the exception of a few spasmodic inspirations, the records of dreams, ordinary or from the sensitives, contain nothing new—nothing to relieve man from the blessed necessity of eating his bread, intellectual as well as material, in the sweat of his brow; and, perhaps more important still, little to make the interests or responsibilities of this life weaker because of any realized inferiority to those of a possible later life.

It would apparently be inconsistent in Nature, or God, if you prefer, to start our evolution under earthly conditions, educating us in knowledge and character through labor and suffering, but at the same time throwing open to our perceptions, from another life, a wider range of knowledge and character attainable without labor or suffering.

I have no time or space or inclination to argue with those who deny a plan in Nature. He who does, probably lives away from Nature. It appears to have been a part of that plan that for a long time past most of us should “believe in” immortality, and that, at least until very lately, none of us should know anything about it. Confidence in immortality has been a dangerous thing. So far we haven’t all made a very good use of it. Many of the people who have had most of it and busied themselves most with it, so to speak, have largely transferred their interests to the other life, and neglected and abused this one. “Other-worldliness” is a well-named vice, and positive evidence of immortality might be more dangerous than mere confidence in it.

All this, I think, supports the notion that whatever, if anything, is in store for us beyond this life, it would be a self-destructive scheme of things (or Scheme of Things, if you prefer) that would throw the future life into farther competition with our interests here, at least before we are farther evolved here. Looking at history by and large, we children have not generally been trusted with edge tools until we had grown to some sort of capacity to handle them. If the Mesopotamians or Egyptians or Greeks or Romans had had gunpowder, it looks as if they would have blown most of themselves and each other out of existence, and the rest back into primitive savagery, and stayed there until the use of gunpowder became one of the lost arts. But the new knowledge of evolution has given the modern world a new intellectual interest; and the new altruism, a new moral one. The reasons for doing one’s best in this life, and doing it actively, are so much stronger and clearer than they were when so many good people could fall into asceticism and other-worldliness, that perhaps we are now fit to be trusted with proofs of an after life. It is very suggestive that these apparent proofs came contemporaneously with the new knowledge tending to make them safe; and equally suggestive that it is when we have begun to suffer from certain breakdowns in religion, that we have been provided with new material for bracing it up.

At the opposite extreme, it also is suggestive that these new indications that our present life is a petty thing beside a future one, have come just when modern science has so increased our control over material nature that we are in peculiar danger of having our interest in higher things buried beneath material interests, and enervated by over-indulgence in material delights.

If it be true that, roughly speaking, we are not entrusted with dangerous things before we are evolved to the point where we can keep their danger within bounds, the fact that we have not until very lately, if yet, been entrusted with any verification of the dream of the survival of bodily death, would seem to confer upon the spiritistic interpretation of the recent apparent verifications, a pragmatic sanction—an accidental embryo pun over which the historic student is welcome to a smile, and which, since the preceding clause was written, I have seen used in all seriousness by Professor Giddings. Conclusive or not, that “sanction” is certainly an addition to the arguments that existed before, including the general argument from evolution. And, so far as the phenomena go to establish the spiritistic hypothesis, surely they are not to be lightly regarded because as yet they do not establish it more conclusively.


When during the last century science bowled down the old supports of the belief in immortality, there grew up a tendency to regard that belief as an evidence of ignorance, narrowness, and incapacity to face the music. May not disregard of the possible new supports be rapidly becoming an evidence of the same characteristics?

When the majority of those who have really studied the phenomena of the sensitives, starting with absolute skepticism, have come to a new form of the old belief; and when, of the remaining minority, the weight of respectable opinion goes so far as suspense of judgment, how does the argument look? Isn’t it at least one of those cases of new phenomena where it is well to be on guard against old mental habits, not to say prejudices?

Is it not now vastly more reasonable to believe in a future life than it was a century ago, or half a century, or quarter of a century? Is it not already more reasonable to believe in it than not to believe in it? Is it not already appreciably harder not to believe in it than it was a generation ago?


So far as I can see, the dream life, from mine up to Mrs. Piper’s, vague as it is, is an argument for immortality based on evidence.

The sensitives are not among the world’s leading thinkers or moralists—are not more aristocratic founders for a new faith than were a certain carpenter’s son and certain fishermen; and only by implication do the sensitives suggest any moral truths, but they do offer more facts to the modern demand for facts.

Spiritism has a bad name, and it has been in company where it richly deserved one; but it has been coming into court lately with some very important-looking testimony from very distinguished witnesses; and some rather comprehensive minds consider its issues supreme—the principal issues now upon the horizon, between the gross, luxurious, unthinking, unaspiring, uncreating life of today, and everything that has, in happier ages, given us the heritage of the soul—the issues between increasing comforts and withering ideals—between water-power and Niagara.

The doubt of immortality is not over the innate reasonableness of it: the universe is immeasurably more reasonable with it than without it; but over its practicability after the body is gone. We, in our immeasurable wisdom, don’t see how it can work—we don’t see how a universe that we don’t begin to know, which already has given us genius and beauty and love, and which seems to like to give us all it can—birds, flowers, sunsets, stars, Vermont, the Himalayas, and the Grand Canyon; which, most of all, has given us the insatiable soul, can manage to give us immortality. Well! Perhaps we ought not to be grasping—ought to call all we know and have, enough, and be thankful—thankful above all, perhaps, that as far as we can see, the hope of immortality cannot be disappointed—that the worst answer to it must be oblivion. But on whatever grounds we despair of more (if we are weak enough to despair), surely the least reasonable ground is that we cannot see more: the mole might as well swear that there is no Orion.