Thursday, 19 September 2013

From the pages of Punch, or the London Chiavari, November 1871

DARWINIAN SPIRITUALISM.

SIR, MR. PUNCH,
THE Report of the Dialectical Society on Spiritualism has been derided by many critics and others, who either believe, or at least seriously entertain, MR. DARWIN'S theory of the Descent of Man. The Darwinists, indeed, generally despise the Spiritualists.

I, who am both a Spiritualist and a Darwinist, see no reason at all why they should. On the contrary, I see very much reason why they should not. Darwinism and Spiritualism, Sir, rightly regarded, illustrate and confirm each other. Darwinists, who hold the derivation of mankind from the Marine Ascidian, intermediately through the Anthropoid Apes, argue that if, as asserted by Spiritualists, disembodied human spirits exist, disembodied simious spirits should also exist. There ought to be spirits of apes and monkeys. Well, I say, so there are. The undignified and absurd nature of some spiritual communications is often alleged as proving their unreality. These communications proceed from the spirits of deceased apes.

Messages are often received at "circles" purporting to come from BACON, FRANKLIN, BYRON, or some other departed personage of genius or intellect, which they are far from being examples of, being, on the contrary, nonsense or twaddle. In these cases the spirit of an Orang-outang, Chimpanzee, Gorilla, or some other description of jackanapes, actuated by the imitative instinct characteristic of the monkey tribes, personates the poet, philosopher, or man of science, and mimics his utterances with imperfection corresponding to that which we see exhibited, in playing the part of humanity, by a performing monkey. The Ape-spirit imitates human speech, being in a state of Darwinian development, which is as possible for a monkey in the spheres as in this world. The levitation of MR. HOME and others, the transference of that gentleman in and out of a drawing-room window seventy feet from the ground, the transportation of Mediums through the air and the walls or ceiling of a room, the dancing of tables, the picking of pockets, and all the rest of the ludicrous incidents common at stances, are the monkeys' tricks of tricksy spirits, the spirits of monkeys.

Having said thus much, Sir, shall I be asked to prove it? Not by you. You are up to the philosophy of the times. Proof, you know, is now an anachronism in science. We are to accept MR. DARWIN'S theory, provisionally, because it is the best we have to account for facts. Mine, I am sure, has an equal claim to acceptance. It is the best out, and it squares with his. The Descent of Man is no reason against his Destiny, and his Destiny does not disprove his Descent; on the contrary is, as I have asserted, that is, shown, associated with evidences which prove it. Therefore don't tell me that I am an ass, and that Darwinism and Spiritualism, respectively, are but opposite poles of scientific and superstitious credulity. Write me down whatever you may, I subscribe myself

Yours truly,

PYTHAGORAS PUGS.

P.S. Of course there are also spirits of Marine Ascidians. Why not? Did not BLAKE (till lately pictor ignotus) once actually paint from life (spirit-life) the Ghost of a Flea?

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