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Observations placeholder

De Morgan, Augustus - From Matter to Spirit - 05 Preface on the experiences of Mr De Morgan – it is more likely that P has seen a ghost than that Q knows he cannot have seen one



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

From Matter to Spirit - Preface written by Augustus De Morgan

The things which I have narrated were the beginning of a long series of experiences, many as remarkable as what I have given; many of a minor character, separately worth little, but jointly of weight when considered in connexion with the more decisive proofs of reality; many of a confirmatory tendency as mere facts, but of a character not sustentive of the gravity and dignity of the spiritual world.

The celebrated apparition of Giles Scroggins is a serious personage compared to some which have fallen in my way, and a logical one too. If these things be spirits, they show that pretenders, coxcombs, and liars are to be found on the other side of the grave as well as on this; and what for no? as Meg Dods said.

The whole question may receive such persevering attention as shall worm out the real truth: or it may die away obtaining only casual notice, until a new outburst of phenomena recalls its history of this day. But this subsidence does not seem to begin. It is now twelve or thirteen years since the matter began to be everywhere talked about: during which time there have been many announcements of the total extinction of the ‘spirit-mania.' But in several cases, as in Tom Moore's fable, the extinguishers have caught fire.

Were it the absurdity it is often said to be, it would do much good by calling attention to the ‘manifestations' of another absurdity, the philosophy of possibilities and impossibilities, the philosophy of the fourth court.

Extremes meet: but the 'meeting' is often for the purpose of mutual exposure, like that of silly gentlemen in the day of pop-and-paragraph duels.

This on the supposition that spiritualism is all either imposture or delusion: it cannot be more certainly one or the other than is the philosophy opposed to it. I have no acquaintance either with P or Q ; but I feel sure that the decided conviction of all who can see both sides of the shield must be that it is more likely that P has seen a ghost than that Q knows he cannot have seen one. I know that Q says he knows it: on which supra, passim.

I now give place to the author [his wife], with the statement that, though generally cognizant of each other's views, both the author and myself had substantially finished before either set eyes on what the other had written. Between us we have, in a certain way, cleared the dish; like that celebrated couple of whom one could eat no fat and the other no lean.

A B July 1863

The source of the experience

De Morgan, Augustus

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps