Whipped into Admission
Theosophist, March, 1882
When the Heliocentric system was finally and irretrievably established, and no escape from it was found possible, the Church, letting go the “Joshua stopping the sun” miracle, passed the word among the faithful, and the—“We have always said so”—policy was swiftly adopted. When, after denying pointblank occult phenomena, denouncing them from first to last as an out-and-out jugglery, and calling names all those who believed in them, the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore found itself badly cornered by the determined testimony of a clever, professional conjurer, who, refusing to make his good faith subservient to public prejudice, confessed to Mr. Eglinton’s phenomena being “genuine,” it forthwith turned round and declared that it is all as it should be, and that the Gazette had never denied it. Like the “five foolish virgins” of the parable, who forgot their oil and fell asleep over their lamps, it now knocks at the door, and tries to assure the public that it has always kept “wide awake” over the subject, and that it has never been caught nodding or kicking in its beatific sleep of blank denial. Of course not: it was but collecting its thoughts. And now that the “Bridegroom” in the shape of an undeniable phenomenon is there, the outcome of the Gazette’s profound meditations may be found in the following ungraceful admission, and the still more clumsy attempt at an explanation.
“Mr. Kellar, the conjurer,” says the Gazette, “is very much surprised by what he experienced at a spiritualist séance held recently at No. 1, Commercial Buildings, Calcutta. Mr. Kellar has himself been doing some very surprising things in the way of rivalling the spiritualist feats but what he saw on this occasion in the matter of flying, or floating, as he terms it, beats anything that could be achieved, he says, even by Messrs. Maskelyne and Cook. Among other things, he describes how he held on to a Mr. Eglinton, who, rising into the air, actually lifted Mr. Kellar several inches off his feet! This case of the conjurer out-conjured, has occurred before in the ancient times, as no doubt our readers may remember having read, and when such a one finds himself beaten at his own weapons, we can understand his feeling surprised and overcrowded. As far as we can gather from his description of the séance in the Indian Daily News, the position of these floating gentlemen is not so safe as it might be. For instance, Mr. Eglinton, while high in air, ‘fell heavily on the table’ owing to another gentleman who held Mr. Kellar’s left hand having let go. Nor, indeed, have the neophytes quite a pleasant time of it, for Mr. Kellar says that at one time his chair was jerked from under him with great force, a rude practical joke which shows that the spirits have not, at any rate, learned manners in their disembodied state. We cannot understand that, in the present stage of scientific progress, a man like Mr. Kellar, presumably familiar with all the actual and possible developments of hanky-panky, should be surprised at anything. He has probably seen and heard a good deal of mesmerism and electro-biology. He no doubt can himself practice that familiar feat of the power of will called forcing a card. He knows that we are at present in the A. B. C. of the science of Electricity and Magnetism, of which one of the less-known developments is called odyllic force. If the magnetic power of some men can be supposed to actually mould living beings to their will, and act at pleasure on all their nerves and senses, making them smell, taste, see feel, speak, move—actually think—at the fantasy of the operator, there should be nothing wonderful in another development of the same galvanic power, moving tables and chairs, carrying pianos through the air, or playing violins. When Mr. Eglinton has discovered the means of applying the magnetic current of many joined hands and many subdued wills to overcome the power of gravity on his own person, before many years are out, doubtless, this development of galvanic science will be applied to some useful purpose, instead of being merely an instrument of hankypanky. At present it is doubtless in the awkwardness of its extreme infancy, for it exposes the operator to the risk of breaking his neck, and it is applied in such an exhausting and inartistic way as to leave those who exercise it, utterly prostrate, at the end of an exhibition, like an exhausted Dufaure box. The human mind appears unable to realize that there are as good fish in the sea of nature as ever came out of it. One would have supposed that, at the present stage of scientific discovery, our minds would have been in a receptive state, ready to admit any wonder sufficiently proved by evidence—say by the same amount of evidence on which we would hang a man. But no. A says to B ‘I have never seen a sea serpent, have you?’ ‘No,’ says B ‘and no more has C—’ so the rest of the alphabet, all grave, discreet, respectable letters may swear to the sea serpent, of whose existence they have been eyewitnesses; but A and B “who would believe them in a matter of murder” will not believe them regarding the existence of a monster conger eel. We only say this by way of example. Far be it from us to assert the existence of this eel, though Major Senior, the Humane Society Medallist, saw, described, and drew it in the Gulf of Aden. But incredulity, be it remembered, existed in the case of the Kraken, till two fishermen one day cut off and brought to the Savants eighteen feet of one of that disagreeable Calamery’s tentacles. And so it is, and will be, in the matter of the floating and banjo-playing of Mr. Eglinton and his brother spiritualists, till some fine day one of the scientific electricians takes out a patent for charging human beings with galvanic power, after the same manner that a Dufaure box is charged with electricity.”
This is what we should call “a turn-coat policy” effected with the dexterity of a “Davenport Brother.” To hear the Civil and Military Gazette reproaching other people for not keeping their minds “in a receptive state, ready to admit any wonder sufficiently proved on evidence” is as amusing as to read of the converted wolf in the golden legend preaching Desert Christianity. Not later back than in July last, the Gazette sweepingly proclaimed every experimenter in occult science and medium—an impostor and a juggler, as every Theosophist and Spiritualist—a deluded fool. And now it admits that the world is “in the A.B.C of the Science of Electricity and Magnetism”!— a fact enounced and repeated in our journal ad nauseam usque—and, falls back upon “the less-known developments of odyllic force”—we spell it odylic—with a readiness quite proportionate to its denial of that force but a few months back. In the cases of levitation, however, we suspect the Gazette’s scientifically trained mind would find itself at sea altogether; and our benevolent contemporary would have to seek, in its great perplexity, counsel with the Theosophical Society. The levitation phenomenon has nought to do with the odylic freaks of the electricity known to orthodox science, but everything with the mystery of the interchange of correlative forces. We published the key to it four years ago in Isis Unveiled (Vol. I, pp. xxiii, xxiv, Art. Æthrobasy). Let any man’s body be charged (whether consciously or otherwise) with the polarity of the spot which supports him (be it a natural soil, or a floor of whatever description) and the similar polarity will shoot his body off in the air like a child’s balloon. It is no reason because the possibility of such a polaric assimilation has not yet come under the observation of the Royal Society, why some descendants of those whose forefathers have experimented for numberless ages upon the hidden powers of the human body—should not have cognizance of it. Naturally—the power manifests itself, but in extremely rare cases—in some nervous diseases of that kind which baffle science in all its phases; to produce it artificially, the person who guides it must be partially, if not wholly, acquainted with that which, in the Sanskrit works on Occultism, is called the “Nava Nidhi” or the nine jewels of Raja-Yoga. 1 The most perfect “Samadhi,” the highest of the “Siddhis” of “Hatha-Yoga” can at best guide the subject to the threshold of the world of invisible matter, not to those of the world of spirit, where the hidden and subtler potencies of nature lie dormant until disturbed . . . . . . . .
But as this will prove Greek to the Civil and Military Gazette, we have to speak to it in its own language. By saying that the day may come when human beings will be charged with galvanic power—”after the same manner that a Dufaure box is charged with Electricity,”—it enounces a piece of news which is one but to itself. Besides which, it sounds like prophesying the discovery of gun-powder during the middle ages. The “Scientific electricians” will come a cycle too late. The “charging of human beings” with a power of which the Civil and Military Gazette has not even dreamt of, was discovered ages ago, though the discoverers thereof have never claimed recognition at the “Patent-office.”
1. The student of Yoga philosophy must not confound these nine degrees of Initiation with the “Ashta Siddhis” or the minor eight degrees of “Hatha-Yoga.” In knowledge and powers, the latter stand in the same proportion to the former as rudiments of Arithmetic to the highest degrees of Mathematics.