Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/746

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thing out of the usual course of Nature (as observed by Dr. Carpenter), and the scientific testimony of Profs. Crookes and Wallace (reënforced by that of eminent men and women in Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United States, whose numbers and moral and intellectual capacity would outweigh any Royal Society or French Institute), is of no more value than the most fanciful mediæval legends of Catholic saints, which science does not condescend to notice.

2. Some individuals can be brought by a proper operator into a waking mesmeric condition of passive credulity and obedience to the voice: therefore we should believe everybody liable to this condition, and believe nothing that anybody tells us which is different from the usual course of Nature, as Dr. Carpenter understands it.

3. The usual course of Nature under our own observation—we beg pardon. Dr. Carpenter’s observation—is all of which Nature is capable, and no new laws or agencies which Dr. Carpenter does not know are to be expected or developed by investigation. Whoever asserts that any such laws or agencies exist, is to be regarded as a liar or a victim of hallucination; and, in fact, the chief phenomena of mesmerism and spiritualism have been discovered to be cheats.

4. Mesmer advanced certain preposterous and unscientific pretensions; certain mesmeric operators have made failures; and Dr. Carpenter affirms that he has several times failed to discover any clairvoyance in celebrated clairvoyants, and has detected some pretenders to clairvoyance as impostors: therefore, mesmerism is a delusion.

It is difficult to treat such a mass of absurdity and misstatement with the gravity and courtesy appropriate to scientific discussion. When a dogmatic adult insists on proving to us that the earth is entirely flat, he takes rank, as a first-class bore, with Dr. Carpenter; and the only method of disposing effectively of such nuisances is that adopted by Mr, Alfred R. Wallace—a heavy wager to be settled by actual measurement of a portion of the earth's surface. If Dr. Carpenter had courage enough to endure the wager-test, he too might receive his quietus from Mr. Wallace. But there is no hope of that; the large reward offered in England, to any one who will produce certain spiritual phenomena by physical means, will never be called for.

The first proposition may pass for what it is worth. If there are any who agree with Dr. Carpenter in his assumption that the superstitious tales of an ignorant age are as worthy of credence as the elaborate investigations of the most distinguished scientists—men whose testimony would be decisive in any court of justice where life was at stake—it is not worth while to reason with them. The assumption of Dr. Carpenter is slanderous against his distinguished scientific opponents; but its extreme silliness renders it entirely harmless to any but himself. The same argument would destroy the credibility of medical, surgical, and physiological works of to-day, because