Pythagoras, a century before the time of Socrates, found this faculty believed in, and made use of in Egypt, Babylon, and India, and he himself, as the founder of the early Greek philosophy and culture, practised and taught the esoteric as well as the exoteric methods of acquiring knowledge, and he is credited with having acquired by esoteric methods - internal or mental perception and clairvoyant vision - a knowledge of the true theory of the solar system as expounded and demonstrated in a later day by Copernicus.
As an example of responses by the Greek oracles, take the experience of Croesus, the rich King of Lydia. He sent messengers to ascertain if the Pythoness could tell what he, the King of Lydia, was doing on a certain specified day. The answer came: -
"I number the sands - I fathom the sea. I hear the dumb - I know the thoughts of the silent. There cometh to me the odor of lamb's flesh. It is seething, mixed with the flesh of a tortoise. Brass is beneath it, and brass is also above it."
The messenger returned and delivered the reply, when he found that Croesus, in order to do something most unlikely to be either guessed or discovered, had cut in pieces a lamb and a tortoise, and seethed them together in a brazen vessel having a brazen cover.
Apollonius Tyaneus, a Pythagorian philosopher and chief of a school of philosophy which was the predecessor of the Alexandrian Neo-Platonists, is credited with most remarkable clairvoyant powers. Many instances of this faculty are recorded and believed upon the best of ancient authority.
One instance relates to the assassination of Domitian. Apollonius was in the midst of a discourse at Ephesus, when suddenly he stopped as though having lost his train of thought. After a moment's hesitation, to the astonishment of his auditors, he cried out: "Strike! strike the tyrant." Seeing the surprise of the people he explained that at the very moment at which he had stopped in his discourse the tyrant was slain. Subsequent information proved that Domitian, the reigning tyrant, was assassinated at that very moment.
Ancient historians, philosophers and poets all unite in defending the truth of the oracles and their power of perceiving events transpiring at a distance, and also of foreseeing those in the future. Herodotus gives more than seventy examples of oracular responses, dreams and portents which he affirms were literally fulfilled. Livy gives more than fifty, Cicero many striking cases; and Xeno-phon, Plato, Tacitus, Suetonius, and a host of other writers all give evidence in the same direction. Now whether these responses and visions were, as all these intelligent people supposed, from a supernatural source, or as we shall endeavor to show, had their origin in certain faculties naturally appertaining to the mind, and which at certain times and under certain favorable circumstances came into activity, it certainly shows that the most intelligent men amongst all the most cultivated nations of the past have been firm believers in the reality of clairvoyance.
Coming down to later times, Emanuel Sweden-borg, and Frederica Hauffe, the seeress of Pro-verst, were marked examples of the clairvoyant faculty. Some have affected to discredit Sweden-borg's clairvoyant powers, but apart from his revelations regarding a spiritual world, which, of course, it is at present impossible to substantiate, whatever may be our belief regarding them, if human testimony is to be regarded of any value whatever in matters of this kind, the following 6 oft-told incident should be counted as established for a verity.
On a Saturday afternoon in September, 1756, Swedenborg arrived in Gottenburg from England. Gottenburg is three hundred miles from Stockholm, which was the home of Swedenborg. On the same evening he was the guest of Mr. William Castel, with fifteen other persons, who were invited to meet him, and who, on that account, may be supposed to have been of more than ordinary consequence and intelligence.
About six o'clock Swedenborg seemed preoccupied and restless. He went out into the street, but soon returned, anxious and disturbed. He said that at that moment a great fire was raging at Stockholm. He declared that the house of one of his friends was already destroyed, and that his own was in danger. At eight o'clock he announced that the fire was arrested only three doors from his own house.
The information, and the peculiar manner in which it was imparted, created a great sensation, not only in the company assembled at Mr. Castel's, but throughout the city. On Sunday morning the governor sent for Swedenborg, who gave him a detailed account of the conflagration and the course it had pursued. On Monday, the third day, a courier arrived from Stockholm, who also gave the governor a detailed account of the fire, which agreed in every respect with that already given by Swedenborg.
Nearly a century after Swedenborg, lived Mme. Hauffe, known as the seeress of Proverst. She died in 1829 at the age of twenty-eight years. As a child she exhibited peculiar psychical tendencies, but it was only during the last six years of her life, and after exhausting illnesses, that her peculiar clairvoyant powers were conspicuously developed.
Justinus Kerner, an eminent physician and man of letters, was her attending physician during the last three years of her life, and afterward became her biographer. She first came under his care at Weinsberg in 1826. At that time her debility was excessive, and nearly every day she fell spontaneously into the somnambulic condition, became clairvoyant, and related her visions. On the day of her arrival at Weinsberg, having gone into this trance condition, she sent for Kerner but he refused to see her until she awoke. He then told her that he would never see her nor listen to her while she was in this abnormal state. I mention this simply to show that her physician was not then at all in sympathy with her regarding her peculiar psychological condition, though afterward he became thoroughly convinced of its genuineness and of her honesty. He relates the following incident, which, with many others, came under his own observation: -