Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/722

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England, Scotland, or Ireland without finding, on inquiry, that within a radius of ten miles there is some house or place said to be haunted; some house that either can not get, or can not keep, tenants on account of ghosts," but to us—we can not help it—the statement simply seems a lamentably silly one for a man of so much general intelligence as the Rev. Mr. Haweis to have made.

However, the great evidence is yet to come: the ghosts are going to sit for their photographs. Whether the photographer will have to be a medium or not does not distinctly appear, but the ghosts will, in a short time, distinctly appear. Mr. Stead is working up this part of the case with unbounded zeal and faith, and the Rev. Mr. Haweis is quite confident the ghosts are going to come out all right. "Many photographers," we read, "are in the habit of casting aside plates after partial development, because they have what they call a fault—that is, a blur or marks obscuring or occupying portions of the plate. Photographers will, in future, perhaps be more wary. I heard the other day of a young lady who was photographed at Brighton, I believe, and twice the plate came out blurred. The second time she persuaded the photographer, who was about to lay it aside as useless, to develop it. The blurs, on being examined with a magnifier, proved to be faces—all the same face. She at once recognized it as the face of a rejected lover who had died." Why this young man took up the plate with so many different specimens of his face, and how he managed to prevent the rest of his spectral body from being taken, and why he stood so far away from the beloved one as to come out so small that he had to be explored with a magnifier, are questions on which, we fear, it would be vain to expect any light. Was he all "face" in his lifetime? Did the minuteness of his spirit image signify the smallness of the place he had held in the young lady's affection; or did the stand he took far in the background signify the distance at which the young lady had kept him? It is said the young lady recognized the likeness; but was this young lady wholly veracious, or was she indulging a fond fancy that the swain was still hovering round her with his face? We read sometimes of faces in the fire; and Hamlet, if we remember rightly, succeeded in getting the wise Polonius to see in a cloud the image, first, of a camel, then of a weasel, and, lastly, of a whale. As the old man gazed, conviction grew, so that in the end he was able to say with emphasis, "Very like a whale." Who knows but that, as the young lady gazed, conviction may have grown in like manner, and the blur have passed through various phases before it finally came out a rejected lover? One asks where this wonderful thing happened, and all Mr. Haweis can tell us is that he "believes" it was at Brighton. Perhaps so; but until the place can be given with a little more certainty, and until a good deal of corroborative evidence is forthcoming, we prefer to assign the chief share in the whole business to the young lady's imagination and the remainder to somebody else's credulity.

We are asked to believe in ghosts because in every age there have been ghost stories. But would it not be more natural to suppose that in every age the human mind has been subject to aberrations, and that some specific weakness or irregularity of the mental constitution, or of the physical organ, the brain, on which all thinking, so far as we are aware, depends, has probably given rise to this particular class of hallucinations? We can not pretend as yet to know the mind thoroughly in health and disease; but this we do know, that there are thousands and millions of persons whose lives are never intruded on by ghosts, and who know absolutely nothing of "occult" phenomena. According to the reverend gentleman's own figures, only one woman in twelve and one man