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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/507

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tremities of the nerves; or, whether it is the result of some specific effluence from the operator, which may act without actual contact, independently of the subject's knowledge or expectation. On the whole, the committee's evidence leans toward the last and antecedently the least probable explanation. But as yet no definite answer is possible on this point.

The literary committee has done very important work, for, in addition to the collection of a considerable library of books on psychical subjects, it has more than one hundred cases, with the evidence taken at first hand, of apparitions closely coinciding with the time of the death of the person seen; and it is only in a small minority of such cases that informants, according to their own account, have had any other hallucination than the apparition in question. While no deduction from this evidence is yet justifiable, yet we may safely agree with Professor Balfour Stewart when he says that "the great importance of this statement will be manifest to all."

There the work stands at present. We have given a brief outline of the objects and method of the society, and have endeavored to make clear just how far its work has progressed. The society is actively at work, the literature of the subject is increasing, and at no distant period more definite conclusions may be laid before the scientific world, and the supporting evidence given at length. That the interest in this work is general is proved by the formation of societies for psychical research in Boston and Chicago, and the character of their officers and conductors is, as is the case in the parent society in England, surety for the careful and scientific prosecution of their investigations. In France too, the psychologists are turning their attention to these phenomena, and men like Janet, Ribot, and Charcot are at the head of a society similar to those we have mentioned.

So far the results are certainly indefinite, but they are interesting and suggestive. The time may soon come when we shall either be able to speak definitely and accurately about these abnormal phenomena, or else to say on demonstrable grounds that their causes and laws lie beyond the limits of human knowledge. Whatever we know will be incorporated in the vast body of scientific truth, and the raison d'être of a small army of frauds and impostors, as well as of innumerable superstitions, will have been swept away.



THE whole world has been suffering for two years under an intense commercial crisis. Hardly any country has escaped the stringency. For special reasons, France has suffered the most. But England, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and even the United States and the