Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/44

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Then the Table-tilting came up. It was found that the table would tilt in obedience to the directions of some spirit, who was in the first instance (I speak now of about twenty years ago) always believed to be an evil spirit. The table-tilting first developed itself in Bath, under the guidance of some clergymen there, who were quite satisfied that the tiltings of the table were due to the presence of evil spirits. And one of these clergymen went farther, and said that it was Satan himself. But it was very curious that the answers obtained by the rappings and tiltings of the tables always followed the notions of the persons who put the questions. These clergymen always got these answers as from evil spirits, or satisfied themselves that they were evil spirits by the answers they got. But, on the other hand, other persons got answers of a very different kind; an innocent girl, for instance, asked the table if it loved her, and the table jumped up and kissed her. A gentleman who put a question to one of these tables got an extremely curious answer, which affords a very remarkable illustration of the principle I was developing to you in the last lecture—the unconscious action of the brain. He had been studying the life of Edward Young, the poet, or at least had been thinking of writing it; and the spirit of Edward Young announced himself one evening, as he was sitting with his sister-in-law—the young lady who asked the table if it loved her. Edward Young announced himself by the raps, spelling out the words in accordance with the directions that the table received. He asked, "Are you Young, the poet?" "Yes." "The author of the 'Night Thoughts?'" "Yes." "If you are, repeat a line of his poetry." And the table spelled out, according to the system of telegraphy which had been agreed upon, this line:

"Man is not formed to question, but adore."

He said, "Is this in the 'Night Thoughts?'" "No." "Where is it?" "J O B." He could not tell what this meant. He went home, bought a copy of Young's works, and found that in the volume containing Young's poems there was a poetical commentary on Job which ended with that line. He was extremely puzzled at this; but two or three weeks afterward he found he had a copy of Young's works in his own library, and was satisfied from marks on it that he had read that poem before. I have no doubt whatever that that line had remained in his mind, that is, in the lower stratum of it; that it had been entirely forgotten by him, as even the possession of Young's poems had been forgotten; but that it had been treasured up as it were in some dark corner of his memory, and had come up in this manner, expressing itself in the action of the table, just as it might have come up in a dream.

These are curious illustrations, then, of the mode in which the minds of individuals act when there is no cheating at all this action of what we call the subjective state of the individual dominating these