If the law of suggestion is valid and universal, the conclusion is irresistible that this power is inherent in man, even without one experimental fact to sustain it. Fortunately, we are not left to conjecture in regard to this important question. The literature of psychical experiment is full of facts which are demonstrative. Some of the experiments recorded in "Phantasms of the Living" show that a vastly greater power exists in this direction than would be required to convey a simple therapeutic suggestion to a sleeping patient. The following experiments are recorded in "Phantasms of the Living."1 "In the first case, the Rev. W. Stainton Moses was the percipient, and he corroborates the following account, written by the agent:-
"One evening I resolved to appear to Z at some miles' distance. I did not inform him beforehand of the intended experiment, but retired to rest shortly before midnight with thoughts intently fixed on Z, with whose room and surroundings I was quite unacquainted. I soon fell asleep, and awoke next morning unconscious of anything having taken place. On seeing Z, a few days afterwards, I inquired, ' Did anything happen at your rooms on Saturday night?' 'Yes,' replied he, 'a great deal happened. I had been sitting over the fire with M, smoking and chatting. About 12.30 he rose to leave, and I let him out myself. I returned to the fire to finish my pipe, when I saw you sitting in the chair just vacated by him. I looked intently at you, and then took up a newspaper to assure myself I was not dreaming; but on laying it down I saw you still there. While I gazed, without speaking, you faded away.' "
The next case was recorded by the agent, Mr. S. H. B., at the time of the occurrence, and his account of it is duly verified by the percipients. It is as follows: -
On a certain Sunday evening in November, 1881, having been reading of the great power which the human will is capable of exercising, I determined, with the whole force of my being, that I would be present in spirit in the front bed-room on the second floor of a house situated at 22 Hogarth Road, Kensington, in which room slept two ladies of my acquaintance, namely, Miss L. S. V. and Miss E. C. V., aged respectively twenty-five and eleven years. I was living at this time at 23 Kildare Gardens, a distance of about three miles from Hogarth Road; and I had not mentioned in any way my intention of trying this experiment to either of the above ladies, for the simple reason that it was only on retiring to rest upon this Sunday night that I made up my mind to do so. The time at which I determined I would be there was one o'clock in the morning; and I also had a strong intention of making my presence perceptible. On the following Thursday I went to see the ladies in question, and, in the course of conversation (without any allusion to the subject on my part), the elder one told me that on the previous Sunday night she had been much terrified by perceiving me standing by her bedside, and that she screamed when the apparition advanced towards her, and awoke her little sister, who saw me also.
1 Vol i. pp. 103-109.
I asked her if she was awake at the time, and she replied most decidedly in the affirmative; and upon my inquiring the time of the occurrence, she replied, "About one o'clock in the morning".
This lady, at my request, wrote down a statement of the event, and signed it.
This was the first occasion upon which I tried an experiment of this kind, and its complete success startled me very much. Besides exercising my power of volition very strongly, I put forth an effort which I cannot find words to describe. I was conscious of a mysterious influence of some sort permeating in my body, and had a distinct impression that I was exercising some force with which I had been hitherto unacquainted, but which I can now at certain times set in motion at will. S. H. B.
The next case of Mr. S. H. B.'s is different in this respect, that the percipient was not consciously present to the agent's mind on the night that he made his attempt:-
On Friday, Dec. 1, 1882, at 9.30 p. m., I went into a room alone and sat by the fireside, and endeavored so strongly to fix my mind upon the interior of a house at Kew (namely, Clarence Road), in which resided Miss V. and her two sisters, that I seemed to be actually in the house.
During this experiment I must have fallen into a mesmeric sleep, for although I was conscious, I could not move my limbs. I did not seem to have lost the power of moving them, but I could not make the effort to do so; and my hands, which lay loosely on my knees, about six inches apart, felt involuntarily drawn together, and seemed to meet, although I was conscious that they did not move.
At 10 p. m. I regained my normal state by an effort of the will, and then took a pencil and wrote down on a sheet of note-paper the foregoing statements.
When I went to bed on this same night I determined that I would be in the front bed-room of the above-mentioned house at 12 p.m., and remain there until I had made my spiritual presence perceptible to the inmates of that room.
On the next day (Saturday) I went to Kew to spend the evening, and met there a married sister of Miss V. (namely, Mrs. L.). This lady I had only met once before, and then it was at a ball two years previous to the above date. We were both in fancy dress at the time, and as we did not exchange more than half-a-dozen words, this lady would naturally have lost any vivid recollection of my appearance, even if she had remarked it.
In the course of conversation (although I did not think for a moment of asking her any questions on such a subject) she told me that on the previous night she had seen me distinctly upon two occasions. She had spent the night at Clarence Road, and had slept in the front bed-room. At about 9.30 she had seen me in the passage, going from one room to another; and at 12 p. m., when she was wide awake, she had seen me enter the bedroom and walk round to where she was sleeping, and take her hair (which is very long) into my hand. She also told me that the apparition took hold of her hand and gazed intently into it, whereupon she spoke, saying, "You need not look at the lines, for I have never had any trouble." She then awoke her sister, Miss V., who was sleeping with her, and told her about it. After hearing this account, I took the statement which I had written down on the previous evening from my pocket and showed it to some of the persons present, who were much astonished, although incredulous.