Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/540

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Yet he was much impressed, as he frankly owns: "I, for the time heing and for months afterward, assented to the statement of my subliminal that my soul had pre-existed; I also believed that it knew when and where it had pre-existed. When it therefore stated that I had been sent through the fires of three thousand years of awful transmigration because, as Rameses or Sesostris, my way had not been 'the way of the Lord,' I either had to assent to the inference that my subliminal was a liar, or that it told the truth, or that it was mistaken. As it insisted upon pouring into my upper consciousness the loftiest of spiritual advice, I concluded that, if it was such a pure teacher of love and justice, it would make no mistake knowingly about a matter of history." Yet he never lost sight of the fundamental point—that, without verification, his automatic utterances were worthless, and he deliberately set himself the task of verifying or disproving them. He sought the advice of linguists and toiled through many a grammar and lexicon of little known languages with a purely negative result. The languages proved to be nothing more than meaningless combinations of sounds, and the supposed lofty communications from the Almighty were found to be the scarcely more intelligent reflection of the ideas with which the air was surcharged. As he himself jokingly phrased it in conversation, "I was like a cat chasing her own tail." I can not do better, in concluding my account of this case, than quote Mr. Myers's comment upon it:[1] "He had the good fortune to meet with a wise and gentle adviser,[2] and the phenomenon which, if differently treated, might have led on to the delusion of many, and perhaps to the insanity of one, became to the one a harmless experience, and to the world an acquisition of interesting psychological truth."

The only other outbreak of automatic speech of which any considerable details have been preserved was that which took place among the followers of the Rev. Edward Irving at the close of the first third of the present century. I have not been able to get access to all the extant information about this outbreak, but there can be little doubt that it was precisely analogous to Mr. Le Baron's experience. The "unknown tongues" were usually followed by a "translation," and all witnesses describe them as uttered in strange and unnatural tones. One witness speaks of them as "bursting forth, and that from the lips of a woman, with an astonishing and terrible crash." Says another, "The utterance was so loud that I put my handkerchief to my mouth to stop the sound, that I might not alarm the house." Another: "There was indeed in the strange, unearthly sound an extraor-

  1. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, vol. vii, p. 250.
  2. Mr. Myers has Prof. James in mind.