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it in regard to the former?' This question we shall endeavour to answer in a manner as little offensive as possible to Dr. Huggins, for whose personal as well as for whose scientific character we entertain the sincerest respect. And we must request him, on the one hand, to believe that nothing but what we deem the paramount interests of truth would induce us to utter a word in depreciation of his merit; and, on the other hand, to bear in mind that he has himself challenged such criticism, by having, as we consider, hastily and inconsiderately given the sanction of his high authority and of the distinguished office he at present holds by favour of the President of the Royal Society, to the results of what is—to say the least-a very inadequate investigation.
Dr. Huggins is one of a class of scientific amateurs who hold a most important position in our community, as helping to maintain for British Science that place which would be imperilled by the paucity of its professional defenders : men who, either born to independence, or honourably acquiring it by their own exertions, apply themselves to scientific pursuits with as much earnest devotion as if their livelihood depended on their
When such amateurs have shown the capacity, as well as the will, to labour for the advancement of Science in any department they may select, they are invariably welcomed by its professors as most valued allies, and receive at their hands the academic distinctions usually accorded only to those who have distinguished themselves in University studies. Like Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Lassell, and other brewers we could name, Dr. Huggins attached himself, in the first instance, to the study of astronomy, and soon after the marvellous application, by Professors Bunsen and Kirkhoff, of the method of Spectrum-analysis to the study of the component elements of the sun, he associated himself with his friend and neighbour, the late Professor W. A. Miller, in the extension of the same method of inquiry to the planets, the fixed stars, and finally to the nebulæ. The success of their joint labours in this previously unexplored field was most complete. Questions were definitely resolved which had baffled all the skill of the Herschels and the Rosses; and every extension of their inquiries opened out new and illimitable prospects beyond. Most deservedly, therefore, did they receive the plaudits of the whole scientific world, while learned Societies and Universities vied with each other in the bestowal of their well earned honours. No attestation could be higher to Mr. Huggins's unsurpassed ability as a spectroscopic observer than the resolution of the Council of the Royal Society (at the special instance of Dr. Robinson of Armagb) to devote a sum of 20001.
to the construction of a telescope expressly adapted to enable him to apply this method of analysis in the most efficient manner to the systematic study of the nebulæ. This telescope has been recently completed, and placed in the observatory provided by Dr. Huggins for its reception; the exclusive possession of this noble instrument having been given him for a term of years, on his undertaking to devote all his disposable time to its
There can be no question, however, that such scientific amateurs labour, as a rule, under a grave disadvantage, in the want of that broad basis of general scientific culture, which alone can keep them from the narrowing and perverting influence of a limited specialism. And we have no reason to believe that to this rule Dr. Huggins constitutes an exception. Of his acquaintance with any other department of science than the small subdivision of a branch to which he has so meritoriously devoted himself, we are not aware that he has given any
evidence whatever. And we believe that his habits of thought were formed and fixed before he entered into that association with a justly distinguished Professor, which unquestionably laid the foundation of his subsequent success. In particular, we believe that his devotion to a branch of research which tasks the keenest powers of observation, has prevented him from training himself in the strict methods of experimental inquiry; and that the implicit trust he has been rightly led to place in the revelations of his spectroscope has tended rather to weaken, than to strengthen, his power of detecting the fallacies of observation in other matters. To him seeing is believing;' but to those who have qualified themselves for the study of Psychic Force' by a previous course of investigation into the class of occult’ phenomena of which this is the latest manifestation, seeing' is anything but believing. They know that there are moral sources of error, of which Dr. Huggins, with his simple trustingness, would never dream, and that one of the most potent of these is a proclivity to believe in the reality of spiritual communications, which places those who are not constantly on their guard against its influence under the twofold danger of deception-alike from within and from without.
Our task in dealing with Mr. Crookes is much less difficult; for not merely his incautious use of his position as editor of an important scientific journal, but the malus animus he has displayed towards those with whom he claims to be in fraternity, entirely destroys any tenderness we might have otherwise felt for a man who has in his previous career made creditable use of his very limited opportunities. Mr. Crookes acquired his place in
Science We are
Science by the application of Spectrum-analysis to the detection of the new metal Thallium, the properties and chemical relations of which he studied with care and accuracy. For this discovery he was rewarded by the Fellowship of the Royal Society ; but we speak advisedly when we say that this distinction was conferred on him with considerable hesitation, the ability he displayed in the investigation being purely technical. assured, on the highest authority, that he is regarded among chemists as a specialist of specialists, being totally destitute of any knowledge of Chemical Philosophy, and utterly untrustworthy as to any inquiry which requires more than technical knowledge for its successful conduct. He committed himself in the pages of his journal, fifteen months ago, to an expression, ' in the most emphatic manner,' of his belief in the occurrence, under certain circumstances, of phenomena inexplicable by any known natural laws;' whilst, at the same time, he admitted that he had not employed the tests which men of science had a right to demand before giving credence to the genuineness of those phenomena. Hence he entered upon the inquiry, of which he now makes public the results, with an avowed foregone conclusion of his own, based on evidence which he admitted to be scientifically incomplete ; and this obviously deprives his “conviction of their objective reality' of even that small measure of value to which his scientific character might have given it a claim, if his testimony had been impartial. That he had not prepared himself for the investigation, by making himself acquainted with what had been previously ascertained in regard to the real nature of kindred phenomena, we have already pointed out.*
Of Mr. Serjeant Cox it will be enough for us to say that, whatever may be his professional ability, he is known to those conversant with the history of Mesmerism as one of the most gullible of the gullible, as to whatever appeals to his organ of Wonder. He was the patron of that youth George Goble, whose pretensions to the clairvoyant power were investigated by Drs. Forbes and Sharpey more than twenty-five years ago, and whose fraud was exposed by an ingenious contrivance devised by the latter. Yet Nr. Cox was so persuaded that his protege had played the cheat on that occasion only, that he called the next day on Dr. Forbes, assured him of his own continued belief in George's asserted powers, and begged him to resume his investigations! This is the sort of witness whose testimony Mr. Crookes calls upon scientific men to receive, as to the results of what he represents as
a purely scientific enquiry; whilst
* “Quarterly Review,' vol. xciii. p. 558.
he altogether ignores the painstaking and carefully conducted researches which had led men of the highest scientific eminence to an unquestioning rejection of the whole of those higher phenomena' of Mesmerism, which are now presented under other names as the results of Spiritual' or ' Psychic' agency,
The test experiment, on which the claim is advanced for Mr. Home that he possesses the power of “altering the weight of bodies,' is obviously suggested by the last of Dr. Hare's. The apparatus consisted of a mahogany board, 36 inches long, 91 inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Under one end was screwed a strip of mahogany 14 inch wide, which served as foot or fulcrum, resting on the edge of a firm table. The other end of the board was hung to a spring-balance supported by a substantial tripod stand, and this balance was fitted with a selfregistering index, which recorded the maximum weight indicated by the pointer. The apparatus was so adjusted that the mahogany board was horizontal ; and in this position its weight depressed the pointer so that it marked 3 lbs. The following is Mr. Crookes's account of what took place :
Mr. Home placed the tips of his fingers lightly on the extreme end of the mahogany board which was resting on the support, whilst Dr. Huggins and myself sat, one on each side of it, watching for any cffect which might be produced. Almost immediately the pointer of the balance was seen to descend. After a few seconds it rose again. This movement was repeated several times, as if by successive waves of the Psychic Force. The end of the board was observed to oscillate slowly up and down during the time.
«Mr. Home now of his own accord took a small hand-bell and a little card match-box, which happened to be near, and placed one under each hand, to satisfy us, as he said, that he was not producing the downward pressure. The very slow oscillation of the springbalance became more marked, and Dr. Huggins, on watching the index, said that he saw it descend to 6} lbs. The normal weight of the board as so suspended being 3 lbs., the additional downward pull was therefore 3! Ibs. On looking immediately afterwards at the automatic register, we saw that the index had at one time descended as low as 9 lbs., showing a maximum pull of 6 lbs.
• In order to see whether it was possible to produce much effect on the spring-balance by pressure at the place where Mr. Home's fingers had been I stepped upon the table and stood on one foot at the end of the board. Dr. Huggins, who was observing the index of the balance, said that the whole weight of my body (140 lbs.) so applied only sunk the index 1} lb., or 2 lbs. when I jerked up and down. Mr. Home had been sitting in a low easy-chair, and could not, therefore, had he tried his utmost, have exerted any material influence on these results. I need scarcely add that his feet, as well as his hands, were closely watched by all in the room.
'It was particularly noticed that Mr. Home's fingers were not at any time advanced more than 1} inch from the extreme end, as shown by a pencil-mark, which, with Dr. IIuggins's acquiescence, I made at the time. Now, the wooden foot being also 1} inch wide, and resting flat on the table, it is evident that no amount of pressure exerted within this space of 1} inch could produce any action on the balance. Again, it is also evident that when the end furthest from Mr. Home sank, the board would turn on the further edge of this foot as on a fulcrum. The arrangement was consequently that of a see-saw, 36 inches in length, the fulcrum being 14 inch from one end! Were he, therefore, to have exerted a downward pressure, it would have been in opposition to the force which was causing the other end of the board to move down.
• The slight downward pressure shown by the balance when I stood on the board was owing probably to my foot extending beyond this fulcrum.'
Now, on this we have simply to observe that the whole experiment is vitiated by the absence of any determination of the actual downward pressure of Mr. Home's fingers : the very point being assumed without any investigation, which ought to have been subjected to the most rigorous tests. Such determination, by a vertical indicator,' would have been the very first step in the inquiry if Professor Faraday had been conducting it; and until this test has been applied, in the presence of witnesses to whose trustworthiness and impartiality no exception can be taken, we hold ourselves excused from any call to explain the depression of the index which is affirmed by Mr. Crookes and Dr. Huggins to have taken place. The statement, however, that it took place in waves-or, as Serjeant Cox expresses it, in tremulous pulsations, not in the form of steady, continuous pressure, the indicator moving and falling incessantly during the experiment'-strongly suggests that Mr. Home managed to impart a rhythmical vibration to the board by extending the pressure of his fingers a little off its support, while the attention of the witnesses was kept fixed upon the index, three feet off.*
* It is well known that a large part of the conjuror's art consists in the distraction of the spectator's attention from the critical points of his performance; and Houdin tells us that he found this to be easier with clever men, who go to such representations to enjoy the illusions, than with ordinary men who see in them a challenge offered to their intelligence. The following anecdote of the late Earl of Rosse seems to us not a little instructive in this point of view. Having taken his children to see the performances of Frikell, one of the most dexterous of pure sleight-of-hand prestidigitateurs, he entirely surrendered himself at the time to the artist's clever deceptions. But, possessing a good memory, he was afterwards able to retrace every step of the performance; and by setting his reason to work, he succeeded in satisfying himself as to the precise point in each trick at which the sleight of hand must have been practised." He then went a second time, with the