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The Phantom World or, The philosophy of spirits and apparitions   By: (1672-1757)

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First Page:

THE PHANTOM WORLD: THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITS, APPARITIONS, &c. &c.

FROM THE FRENCH OF AUGUSTINE CALMET.

WITH A PREFACE AND NOTES BY THE REV. HENRY CHRISTMAS, M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., LIBRARIAN AND SECRETARY OF SION COLLEGE.

Quemadmodùm multa fieri non posse, priusquam facta sunt, judicantur; ita multa quoque, quæ antiquitùs facta, quia nos ea non vidimus, neque ratione assequimur, ex iis esse, quæ fieri non potuerunt, judicamus. Quæ certè summa insipientia est. PLIN. Hist. Nat. lib. vii. c. 1.

TWO VOLUMES IN ONE.

PHILADELPHIA: A. HART, LATE CAREY & HART. 1850.

PHILADELPHIA: T. K. AND P. G. COLLINS, PRINTERS.

TO HENRY JAMES SLACK, ESQ., F.G.S. &c. &c. &c.

MY DEAR HENRY

I inscribe these volumes with your name to record a friendship which has lasted from our infancy, tain suspicion, and darkened by no shadow.

So long as eminent talents can challenge admiration, varied and extensive acquirements command respect, and unfeigned virtues ensure esteem and regard, so long will you have no common claim to them all; and none will pay the tribute more gladly than your affectionate

Friend and Cousin, HENRY CHRISTMAS.

SION COLLEGE, March, 1850.

INTRODUCTION.

Among the many phases presented by human credulity, few are more interesting than those which regard the realities of the invisible world. If the opinions which have been held on this subject were written and gathered together they would form hundreds of volumes if they were arranged and digested they would form a few, but most important. It is not merely because there is in almost every human error a substratum of truth, and that the more important the subject the more important the substratum, but because the investigation will give almost a history of human aberrations, that this otherwise unpromising topic assumes so high an interest. The superstitions of every age, for no age is free from them, will present the popular modes of thinking in an intelligible and easily accessible form, and may be taken as a means of gauging (if the expression be permitted) the philosophical and metaphysical capacities of the period. In this light, the volumes here presented to the reader will be found of great value, for they give a picture of the popular mind at a time or great interest, and furnish a clue to many difficulties in the ecclesiastical affairs of that era. In the time of Calmet, cases of demoniacal possession, and instances of returns from the world of spirits, were reputed to be of no uncommon occurrence. The church was continually called on to exert her powers of exorcism; and the instances gathered by Calmet, and related in this work, may be taken as fair specimens of the rest. It is then, first, as a storehouse of facts, or reputed facts, that Calmet compiled the work now in the reader's hands as the foundation on which to rear what superstructure of system they pleased; and secondly, as a means of giving his own opinions, in a detached and desultory way, as the subjects came under his notice. The value of the first will consist in their evidence and of this the reader will be as capable of judging as the compiler; that of the second will depend on their truth and of this, too, we are as well, and in some respects better, able to judge than Calmet himself. Those accustomed to require rigid evidence will be but ill satisfied with the greater part of that which will be found in this work; simple assertion for the most part suffices often first made long after the facts, or supposed facts, related, and not unfrequently far off from the places where they were alleged to have taken place. But these cases are often the best authenticated, for in the more modern ones there is frequently such an evident mistake in the whole nature of the case, that all the spiritual deductions made from it fall to the ground.

Not a few instances of so called demoniacal possession are capable of being resolved into cataleptic trance, a state not unlike that produced by mesmerism, and in which many of the same phenomena seem naturally to display themselves; the well known instance of the young servant girl, related by Coleridge, who, though ignorant and uneducated, could during her sleep walking discourse learnedly in rabbinical Hebrew, would furnish a case in point... Continue reading book >>




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