HUXLEY AND SLADE
[From The Banner Light, Oct. 28th, 1876.]
As I see the issue that has been raised by Dr. Hallock
with Mr. Huxley, it suggests to me the comparison of two men looking at
the same distant object through a telescope. The Doctor, having taken the
usual precautions, brings the object within close range where it can be
studied at ones leisure; but the naturalist, having forgotten to remove
the cap, sees only the reflection of his own image.
Though the materialists may find it hard to answer even the brief criticisms
of the Doctor, yet it appears that Mr. Huxleys New York lecturesas
they present themselves to me in their naked desolationsuggest one
paramount idea which Dr. Hallock has not touched upon. I need scarcely say
to you, who must have read the report of these would-be iconoclastic lectures,
that this idea is one of the "false pretences" of Modern Science.
After all the flourish which attended his coming, all the expectations that
had been aroused, all the secret apprehensions of the church and the anticipated
triumph of the materialists, what did he teach us that was really new or
so extremely suggestive? Nothing, positively nothing. Exclude
a sight of his personality, the sound of his well-trained voice, the reflection
of his scientific glory, and the result may be summed up thus: "Cr.,
Thomas H. Huxley, £1,000."
Of him it may be said, as it has been of other teachers before, that
what he said that was new was not true; and that which was true was not
Without going into details, for the moment, it suffices to say that the
materialistic theory of evolution is far from being demonstrated, while
the thought that Mr. Huxley does not graspi.e.,
the double evolution of spirit and matteris imparted under
the form of various legends in the oldest parts of the Rig Veda
(the Aitareya Brâhmana). Only these benighted Hindûs,
it seems, made the trifling improvement over Modern Science, of hooking
a First Cause on to the further end of the chain of evolution.
In the Chaturhôtri Mantra (Book V of the Aitareya Brâhmana)
the Goddess Eath (Iyam), who is termed the Queen of the Serpents (Sârpa),
for she is the mother of everything that moves (Sârpat), was in the
beginning of time completely bald. She was nothing but one
round head, which was soft to the touch, i.>e., "a
gelatinous mass." Being distressed at her baldness, she called for
help to the great Vâyu, the Lord of the airy regions; she prayed
him to teach her the Mantra (invocation or sacrificial prayera certain
part of the Veda), which would confer on her the magical power of creating
things (generation). He complied, and then as soon as the Mantra was pronounced
by her "in the proper metre" she found herself covered with hair
(vegetation). She was now hard to the touch, for the Lord of the air
had breathed upon herthe globe had cooled. She had become of a
variegated or motley appearance, and suddenly acquired the power to produce
out of herself every animate and inanimate form, and to change one form
Therefore in like manner [says the sacred book] the man who has such
a knowledge [of the Mantras] obtains the faculty of assuming any shape
or form he likes.
It will scarcely be said that this allegory is capable of more than one
interpretation, viz., that the ancient Hindûs, many centuries before
the Christian era, taught the doctrine of evolution. Martin Haug, the Sanskrit
scholar, asserts that the Vedas were already in existence from 2,000 to
Thus, while the theory of evolution is nothing new, and may be considered
a proven fact, the new ideas forced upon the public by Mr. Huxley are only
undemonstrated hypotheses, and as such liable to be exploded the first fine
day upon the discovery of some new fact. We find no admission of this, however,
in Mr. Huxleys communications to the public; but the unproved theories
are enunciated with as much boldness as though they were established scientific
facts, corroborated by unerring laws of Nature. Notwithstanding this the
world is asked to revere the great evolutionist, only because he stands
under the shadow of a great name.
What is this but one of the many false pretences of the sciolists?
And yet Huxley and his admirers charge the believers in the evolution of
spirit with the same crime of false pretences, because, forsooth, our theories
are as yet undemonstrated. Those who believe in Slades spirits are
"lost to reason," while those who can see embryonic man in Huxleys
"gelatinous mass" are accepted as the progressive minds of the
age. Slade is arraigned before the magistrate for taking $5 from
Lankester, while Huxley triumphantly walks away with $5,000 of American
gold in his pockets, which was paid him for imparting to us the mirific
fact that man evolved from the hind toe of a pedactyl horse!
Now, arguing from the standpoint of strict justice, in what respect is
a materialistic theorist any better than a spiritualistic one? And in what
degree is the evolution of man-independent of divine and spiritual interferencebetter
proven by the toe-bone of an extinct horse, than the evolution and survival
of the human spirit by the writing upon a screwed-up slate by some unseen
power or powers? And yet again, the soulless Huxley sails away laden with
flowers like a fashionable corpse, conquering and to conquer in fresh fields
of glory, while the poor medium is hauled before a police magistrate as
a "vagrant and a swindler," without proof enough to sustain the
charge before an unprejudiced tribunal.
There is good authority for the statement that psychological science
is a debatable land upon which the modern physiologist hardly dares to venture.
I deeply sympathize with the embarrassed student of the physical side of
Nature. We all can readily understand how disagreeable it must be to a learned
theorist, ever aspiring for the elevation of his hobby to the dignity of
an accepted scientific truth, constantly to receive the lie direct from
his remorseless and untiring antagonistpsychology. To see his cherished
materialistic theories become every day more untenable, until they are reduced
to the condition of mummies swathed in shrouds, self-woven and inscribed
with a farrago of pet sophistries, is indeed hard. And in their self-satisfying
logic, these sons of matter reject every testimony but their own: the divine
entity of the Socratic daimonion, the ghost of Cæsar,
and Ciceros Divinum Quidam, they explain by epilepsy; and the
prophetic oracles of the Jewish Bath-Kol are set down as hereditary
And now, supposing the great protoplasmist to have proved to the general
satisfaction that the present horse is an effect of a gradual development
from the Orohippus, or four-toed horse of the Eocene formation, which,
passing further through Miocene and Pliocene periods, has become the modern
honest Equus, does Huxley thereby prove that man has also developed
from a one-toed human being? For nothing short of that could demonstrate
his theory. To be consistent he must show that while the horse was losing
at each successive period a toe, man has in reversed order acquired an additional
one at each new formation; and unless we are shown the fossilized remains
of man in a series of one-, two-, three- and four-toed anthropoid ape-like
beings antecedent to the present perfected Homo, what does Huxleys
theory amount to? Nobody doubts that everything has evolved out of something
prior to itself. But, as it is, he leaves us hopelessly in doubt whether
it is man who is a hipparionic or equine evolution, or the antediluvian
Equus that evolved from the primitive genus Homo!
Thus to apply the argument to Slades case we may say that, whether
the messages on his slate indicate an authorship among the returning spirits
of antediluvian monkeys, or the bravos and Lankestrian ancestors of our
day, he is no more guilty of false pretences than the $5,000 evolutionist.
Hypothesis, whether of scientist or medium, is no false pretence; but unsupported
assertion is, when people are charged money for it.
If, satisfied with the osseous fragments of a Hellenized or Latinized
skeleton, we admit that there is a physical evolution, by what logic can
we refuse to credit the possibility of an evolution of spirit? That there
are two sides to the question, no one but an utter psychophobist will deny.
It may be argued that even if the Spiritualists have demonstrated their
bare facts, their philosophy is not complete, since it has missing links.
But no more have the evolutionists. They have fossil remains which prove
that once upon a time the ancestors of the modern horse were blessed with
three and even four toes and fingers, the fourth "answering to the
little finger of the human hand," and that the Protohippus rejoiced
in "a fore-arm"; Spiritualists in their turn exhibit entire hands,
arms, and even bodies in support of their theory that the dead still live
and revisit us. For my part I cannot see that the osteologists have the
better of them. Both follow the inductive or purely scientific method, proceeding
from particulars to universals; thus Cuvier, upon finding a small bone,
traced around it imaginary lines until he had built up from his prolific
fancy a whole mammoth. The data of scientists are no more certain than those
of Spiritualists; and while the former have but their modern discoveries
upon which to build their theories, Spiritualists may cite the evidence
of a succession of ages, which began long prior to the advent of Modern
An inductive hypothesis, we are told, is demonstrated when the facts
are shown to be in entire accordance with it. Thus, if Huxley possesses
conclusive evidence of the evolution of man in the genealogy of the horse,
Spiritualists can equally claim that proof of the evolution of spirit out
of the body is furnished in the materialized, more or less substantial,
limbs that float in the dark shadows of the cabinet, and often in full lighta
phenomenon which has been recognized and attested by numberless generations
of wise men of every country. As to the pretended superiority of modern
over ancient science, we have only the word of the former for it. This is
also an hypothesis; better evidence is required to prove the fact. We have
but to turn to Wendell Phillipss lecture on the Lost Arts to have
a certain right to doubt the assurance of Modern Science.
Speaking of evidence, it is strange what different and arbitrary values
may be placed upon the testimony of different men equally trustworthy and
well-meaning. Says the parent of protoplasm:
It is impossible that ones practical life should not be more or
less influenced by the views which he may hold as to what has been the
past history of things. One of them is human testimony in its various
shapesall testimony of eye-witnesses, traditional testimony from
the lips of those who have been eye-witnesses, and the testimony of those
who have put their impressions into writing or into print.
On just such testimony, amply furnished in the Bible (evidence
which Mr. Huxley rejects), and in many other less problematical authors
than Moses, among whom may be reckoned generations of great philosophers,
theurgists, and laymen, Spiritualists have a right to base their fundamental
doctrines. Speaking further of the broad distinction to be drawn between
the different kinds of evidence, some being less valuable than others, because
given upon grounds not clear, upon grounds illogically stated and upon such
as do not bear thorough and careful inspection, the same gelatinist remarks:
For example, if I read in your history of Tennessee [Ramsays]
that one hundred years ago this country was peopled by wandering savages,
my belief in this statement rests upon the conviction that Mr. Ramsay was
actuated by the same sort of motives that men are now, . . . that he himself
was, like ourselves, not inclined to make false statements. . . . If you
read Cæsars Commentaries, wherever he gives an account of his
battles with the Gauls, you place a certain amount of confidence in his
statements. You take his testimony upon this, you feel that Cæsar
would not have made these statements unless he had believed them to be
Profound philosophy! precious thoughts! gems of condensed, gelatinous
truth! long may it stick to the American mind! Mr. Huxley ought to devote
the rest of his days to writing primers for the feebleminded adults of the
United States. But why select Cæsar as the type of the trustworthy
witness of ancient times? And if we must implicitly credit his reports of
battles, why not his profession of faith in augurs, diviners and apparitions?for
in common with his wife, Calpurnia, he believed in them as firmly as any
modern Spiritualist in his mediums and phenomena. We also feel that no more
than Cæsar would such men as Cicero and Herodotus and Livy and a host
of others "have made these false statements," or reported such
things "unless they believed them to be true."
It has already been shown that the doctrine of evolution, as a whole,
was taught in the Rig Veda, and I may also add that it can
be found in the most ancient of the books of Hermes. This is bad enough
for the claim to originality set up by our modern scientists, but what shall
be said when we recall the fact that the very pedactyl horse, the finding
of whose footprints has so overjoyed Mr. Huxley, was mentioned by ancient
writers (Herodotus and Pliny, if I mistake not), and was once outrageously
laughed at by the French Academicians? Let those who wish to verify the
fact read Salvertis Philosophy of Occult Science, translated
by Todd Thompson.
Some day proofs as conclusive will be discovered of the reliability of
the ancient writers as to their evidence on psychological matters. What
Niebuhr, the German materialist, did with Livys History, from
which he eliminated every one of the multitude of facts of phenomenal "Supernaturalism,"
scientists now seem to have tacitly agreed to do with all the ancient, mediæval
and modern authors. What they narrate, that can be used to bolster up the
physical part of science, scientists accept and sometimes coolly appropriate
without credit; what supports the Spiritualistic philosophy they incontinently
reject as mythical and contrary to the order of Nature. In such cases "evidence"
and the "testimony of eye-witnesses" count for nothing. They adopt
the contrary course to Lord Verulam, who, arguing on the properties of amulets
and charms, remarks that:
We should not reject all this kind, because it is not known how far
those contributing to superstition depend on natural causes.
There can be no real enfranchisement of human thought nor expansion of
scientific discovery until the existence of spirit is recognized, and the
double evolution accepted as a fact. Until then, false theories will
always find favour with those who, having forsaken "the God of their
fathers," vainly strive to find substitutes in nucleated masses of
matter. And of all the sad things to be seen in this era of "shams,"
none is more deplorablethough its futility is often ludicrousthan
the conspiracy of certain scientists to stamp out spirit by their one-sided
theory of evolution, and destroy Spiritualism by arraigning its mediums
upon the charge of "false pretences."
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
"No Religion Higher Than Truth"
Support this site by visiting our donation page.
Site copyright © 1996-2014 by Estela Carson-Priede