Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

H 
PLANCHETTE. 
ject; the state of the weather; the state of body or mind of the 
experimenter; and last, not least, the influence of the bystand¬ 
ers, above all if they be skeptical, prejudiced, or excited by con¬ 
troversy. Whether in magnetism, in clairvoyance, or spiritual 
manifestations, we who have experimented know these things ; 
but the scientific committees never do, and hence they most 
unreasonably expect, and indeed some observers as unreasona¬ 
bly promise, uniform success, as the test of truth. 
“ For many years past I have never accepted any such chal¬ 
lenge or test; nor have I made any attempt to convince, in this 
way, men who are capable of expressing decided opinions pre¬ 
vious to their having examined the subject. All that I ever 
consent to do is to make the trial, on the express understanding 
that failure proves nothing as to the disputed truth. And even 
then I reject all dictation as to conditions*. as I will only experi¬ 
ment under the conditions presented by Nature, to whom the 
skeptics have no right to dictate. Our duty is to study Nature as 
she presents herself, and to take the facts as we find them. We 
may alter the conditions if we please; but we have no right 
to insist that the facts shall be produced under such altered 
conditions as the uneducated judgment may dictate or fancy 
suggest.” 
In England the savans have been quite as intractable as their 
American brethren. Mr. Herbert Spencer settles the question 
on à priori grounds, as glibly as if Bacon had not long since 
shown the absurdity of a priori objections to attested facts. 
Professor W. D. Gunning, of Boston, who lately (1868) had an 
interview with Mr. Spencer, writes: “In the course of the con¬ 
versation, he referred to a great naturalist. ‘ Mr. Spencer,* said 
I, ‘do you know that Mr. - has become a Spiritualist?' 
‘Yes, he said, ‘and I am greatly surprised.* ‘Hid you ever 
look at the phenomena?* ‘No,’he said, ‘I never did. I have 
settled this question in my own mind on à priori grounds*! 
Now, Herbert Spencer, for whose power as a thinker no one has a 
higher respect than myself, is writing a great work on psy¬ 
chology ; and he settles these questions of odyle, trance, and of
        

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