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The · Public Elementary Schools' will be our regular forces, and we care not how strictly they are drilled and disciplined : but there may well be an outside fringe of valuable but irregular combatants against ignorance, who may be all the more useful for being somewhat more loosely ordered. So, we think, shall we best secure that general inspection, without which no regurity and universality of educational work can be for any length of time ensured.
These are some of the directions in which, confidently, almost certainly, we expect to see true progress. But independently of these special forces and modes of action, we rely on the great and thorough awakening of public interest in education, the evidences of which actually crowd upon our view. Nothing is more remarkable than the deep interest shown in the School Board elections, and the high class of men who have become candidates and have been elected. That they should have been willing to undertake a task which is full of labour and difficulty, of doubt and responsibility, and which brings with it no compensating advantages of remuneration and position, shows at once the amount of interest felt, and the strong public spirit, which is ready, now as always, for public duty. That they should have been so generally elected, that the ratepayers should have chosen men who put education first and economy second, and who desire to do their work in a liberal and uncompromising spirit, is a proof that the country at large is leavened with that same interest in the subject which hitherto has been confined to certain classes. The proceedings of the Boards themselves have shown a desire, not only to make Elementary Education thorough, but to remember that National Education must be looked upon as a whole, and that no system is good which does not weld together the various classes of schools, and therefore the various classes of the community, so that not only shall a good average of knowledge be obtainable by all, but there shall be, for those who are capable of higher things, a means of climbing the ladder, which has (to use a phrase now famous) its foot in the gutter and its top in the University.' In all these things we rejoice: they may last in full vigour only for a time, but in that time they will give an impulse which will never be lost. If a reactionary feeling should come over us, and a stationary period succeed the present, still a vastly higher level will have been reached, and in these matters there can be no steps backward.
It is not (as we have said) on mere legal obligation or a sense of expediency that we rely. Fill our schools that you may empty our workhouses and our gaols,' is a good common-sense cry, but such cries never reach the depths : they may support, but cannot create enthusiasm. The intellectual zeal for the discovery and the spread of truth, the sense of our moral duty to our fellow citizens and of the need of morality for their own culture and happiness, the warm spirit of sympathy which shrinks from secing the misery of ignorance in others, as it would from the misery of poverty and starvation-all these elements must act upon the spirit of the nation, to make it rise to its high duty. And we are stating no matter of theory, but a matter of sober historical fact, when we say that hitherto in the annals of the world no movement has united and harmonized these various elements in its service, unless it has been able to invoke the spirit of religious belief and religious enthusiasm, and to regard not only a citizenship of this world, but also a citizenship in heaven.'
NOTE TO THE ARTICLE on "The Chronology of the Gospels,' in No. 260, p. 507. The name of one of the Governors of Syria, Volusius Saturninus, has been inadvertently omitted. It should stand thus on the list :
C. Marcius Censorinus
2 after Christ.
ART. I.-1. Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifesta
tions, demonstrating the Existence of Spirits and their Communion with Mortals. By Robert Hare, M.D., Professor of Chemistry
in the University of Pennsylvania. New York, 1858. 2. Quarterly Journal of Science. London, July, 1871. 3. The Spiritualist. London, July 15, 1871. 4. Table-Turning. A Lecture by the Rev. R. W. Dibdin, M.A.
London, 1853 5. Robert Houdin, Ambassador, Author, and Conjuror. Written by himself. Paris, 1858.
BELIEF in occasional direct communications between
the disembodied spirits of the dead and the souls of the living, as well as in the possession of occult' powers of various kinds, derived from this intercourse with the nether world, by the individuals to whom such communications are vouchsafed, seems to have prevailed, under some form or other, from the earliest historic period. And at the present time it not merely lingers as a superstition among races that have made but slight advance on their primitive rudeness, but is extensively and seriously entertained in the very heart of nations that claim to lead the van of modern civilisation; being professed not only by the ignorant but by the well-instructed, and alike by those who avowedly trust—as to all that relates to the unseen--in Faith rather than in Reason, and by such as glory in their entire freedom from antiquated prejudices of every description.
For a time, indeed, the mental tendencies which lie at the foundation of this belief developed themselves in a different direction. The Witch Mania that had given occasion to frightful persecutions, under the influence of the most bigoted form of Roman Catholicism, in various parts of Continental Europe, and under that of a gloomy and fanatical Calvinism in Scotland and New England, had passed away by the middle of the last century. A more healthy Rationalism was beginning to grow up; the theory of Evidence was beginning to be better understood, Vol. 131.—No. 262. х
and its rules more strictly applied; and sober-minded people had come to be ashamed of the credulity which had subjected so many harmless victims to the most terrible tortures, and had caused the sacrifice of so many innocent lives. The ultraRationalism which, in the form of a sceptical and materialistic philosophy, held almost undisputed sway in France during the latter half of the eighteenth century, and was embraced elsewhere by many who welcomed it as releasing them from the trammels of slavish superstition, tended still further to throw discredit upon the narratives of spiritual visitations which had been previously received with a childlike trust. And the great scientific discoveries in which that epoch was so fruitful made its savans look to an increased acquaintance with Nature, rather than to supernatural agencies, for the explanation of phenomena that seemed beyond the scope of ordinary knowledge. Thus, shortly before the outbreak of the first French Revolution, we had Mesmer and his followers claiming to be the vehicles of a new force, allied to electricity in its potent action on the living body, and derived, not from communication with the spirits of the dead, but from their own intense vitality. The tremendous cataclysm which occurred soon afterwards, and the gigantic struggles which followed it, absorbed the attention of Europe for the next quarter of a century; but so soon as the general peace left the public free to think of other than great political and social questions, Mesmerism cropped up again, and soon underwent a development so remarkable as to gain for it a very decided hold upon the minds not merely of the credulous vulgar, but of men distinguished in various departments of science. In fact, there were few who had witnessed its phenomena who were not inclined to admit that there must be something in it,' though there was an entire want of accordance as to what that something' might be ; until the researches of the late Mr. Braid, a surgeon of Manchester, on a form of artificial somnambulism which he found himself able to induce in a large number of subjects by a very simple process, gave a clue to the mystery. Of these researches, and of other enquiries in the same direction we gave an account in the pages of this ‘Review, exactly eighteen years ago ;* essaying to guide our readers as to what to believe' in regard to Mesmerism, Electro-Biology, Odylism, Table-turning, and (we were almost ashamed to be obliged to add ') Spirit-rapping and Table-talking. We have the satisfaction of knowing that our exposition was regarded as satisfactory, not merely by the highly intelligent class to whom it
* Vol. xciii. p. 501, seqq., October, 1853.
was immediately addressed, but by the ablest of our physiologists and psychologists who had given special attention to the subject. We were not sanguine enough to expect that it would exert the like influence over minds specially predisposed to a belief in ‘occult' agencies; their want of scientific culture preventing them from appreciating the force of scientific reasoning, while their deficiency in practical good sense renders them liable to become the slaves of dominant ideas. Such persons,' we remarked, “are no more to be argued with than are insane patients. They cannot assent to any proposition which they fancy to be in the least inconsistent with their prepossessions; and the evidence of their own feelings is to them the highest attainable truth. It is not to these that we address ourselves :-“Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.”
The eighteen years that have elapsed since we penned these words have given them a melancholy significance. Under the designation 'Spiritualists,' a great and increasing sect has arisen both in the United States and in our own country, which numbers among its members not only a large aggregate that may be considered as representing the average intelligence of our social community, but some of the most cultivated men and women of our time ; whilst distinguished representatives of various departments of science have attested the reality of some of the most extraordinary manifestations of the occult power exerted through the chiefs of the sect, though without committing themselves to any hypothesis as to its source,
The fundamental tenet of the Spiritualists is the old doctrine of communication between the spirits of the departed and the souls of the living; but it now rests not upon vague accounts of ghostly visitations witnessed by a few individuals on rare and solemn occasions—as when a murder was to be discovered, or a hidden treasure revealed,—but upon the familiar converse held with departed relatives and friends by “circles' sitting round a friendly table. For it was discovered, shortly after the publication of our former article, that the Table-talking' therein described, instead of being the work of evil spirits (as maintained by the Evangelical clergymen who first investigated it) furnished a means of ready communication with spirits of a more harmless and benignant character, who are always waiting about us for a little cheerful talk, and who, after signifying their presence by causing the table to move round or to tilt over, or by rapping sonorously beneath it, obligingly follow the directions of the individual who leads the conversation, and return according to any system of spiritual telegraphy which he may dictate to them. The following are the directions given to