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seized me, and I suddenly awoke, to find it only a dream; yet the painful impression of reality was so vivid, that it was long before I could compose myself. The first thing I did the following morning was to commence a letter to my husband, relating this distressing dream. Six days afterwards, on the 18th, an Australian mail came in and brought me a letter,—the only letter I received by that mail, and not from any of my family, but from a gentleman in Australia with whom we were acquainted. This letter was addressed on the outside “ Immediate," and with a trembling hand I opened it; and, true enough, the first words I saw-and these written larger than the rest in the middle of the paper, and underdrawn, -were “Mr. Howitt is very ill." The context of these terrible words was, however, “ If you hear that Mr. Howitt is very ill, let this assure you
that he is better;" but the only emphatic words were those which I saw in my dream, and these, nevertheless, slightly varying, as, from some cause or other, all such mental impressions, spirit revelations, or occult dark sayings, generally do, from the truth or type which they seem to reflect.
Thus it appears to me, that while we cannot deny the extraordinary psychological phenomena which are familiar to the experience of every human being, they are yet capable of a certain explanation wherever we are enabled to arrive at the circumstances which render the mind receptive of such impressions. The susceptibility either of individuals or bodies of people to these influences, seems to presuppose an abnormal condition.
In the Appendix will be found some curious matter, derived in many cases from old and almost forgotten sources, and given, for the most part, in the words of the original authors.
London, May 1854.
As it is customary for everyone on going into foreign countries to take a passport, in order to ensure his unimpeded progress, in like manner it has also been the usage, from time immemorial, for books to carry before them such a document of legitimacy in order to ensure for themselves a favourable reception : this book requires all the more such preliminary authentication, as its very name has something suspicious about it, and its contents are amongst the things which are generally considered contraband, and are often subjected to confiscation, or even, as blasphemies, to the tender mercies of the Inquisition.
Different readers will look at this book from very different points of view. By some it will be esteemed only as a curiosity, others will find matter for further research; one will wish to learn magic arts from it, and another will draw from it philosophical conclusions. All will be welcome : and will find, I believe, if not instruction, at least amusement and ample food for reflection; for it treats of remarkable phenomena and uncommon effects, which have certainly hitherto been looked upon as mere phantoms, or 23 belonging to a sphere quite unconnected with nature, but which nevertheless are a portion of history, and surely on that account are of universal interest. Magnetism, by its remarkable phenomena, in modern times has led us into a sphere which still
, like a closed book, contains secrets of a higher order of things lying
beyond the familiar, every-day history of nature. Before the discovery of magnetism, it was believed that science had already exhausted the world, and that the human mind had noted down on the map of natural and inner life everything that could and could not exist in heaven and earth. Magnetism itself stood in the background; it was looked upon as something that is nothing, and cannot exist. Such obsolete dusty charts are still often found hanging over the desks of zealous champions, who, in knightly manner, fight boldly against deceit and destruction for the beautiful prepared possession. Now, however, Magnetism, not content with its manifold wonders, leads the way back into the mysterious domain of exploded magic, gathers up old tales and long-forgotten laws of mysterious action, from a transcendental world, which estimates
one hand the present standard of science as valueless, and on the other, orthodox dogmas as the work of the devil. Whilst the former thus fears to be led back into the gloom of the mystical twilight of the past by such attempts as are described in this book, where only the phantasms of faith in miracles play their wild game, the latter resists boldly, in the anxious fear lest all miracles should cease to be miraculous.
Thus, if it should appear that the author's intention had been only to ridicule the understanding and wisdom of the times, collecting merely show and glitter instead of materials for true science, or to disturb the comfortable peace of pious minds by seeking to vulgarise the Sacred and to degrade the Divine, or even to open the door to Atheism, it is the more necessary to give the reader some preparatory notion of the construction and tendency of this work, which is probably still a stranger to most of them.
Whilst many of our contemporaries, unused to, or incapable of, deep reflection, feel no desire or impulse to pursue serious researches on the singular phenomena of nature and the action of the soul, there are others who perceive, or even comprehend, the most hidden springs of mysterious action, but will not place these on the theatre of earthly common-place, fearing the desecration of the impious world. The latter fear, not without cause, only to advance