THE NEWER HERESIES.
BY REV. GEO. C. LORIMER, D. D.
It is a good thing that the Inquisition, Star-chamber, and other compulsory institutions of the dark past have departed from Europe, and have never been tolerated in America. Were it not so, at the present time there would be much excellent work for the rack, the thumbscrew, and the faggot. Heresy is in the air, especially in the northern latitudes of the United States. We inhale it with the morning breezes, it stimulates us to mental activity during the noon hour, and at times stifles us as by the sultry atmosphere of a blistering day. Everywhere it is being discussed, and by every kind of individual, qualified or unqualified for such high contentions. Daily journals, hitherto never remarkable for orthodoxy, have suddenly grown anxious as to the future of the faith; and other journals, that have always antagonized orthodoxy, are, figuratively speaking, rubbing their hands most gleefully and smiling through their editorial columns with a most perceptible "I told you so"; while religious papers, representing as they do, the conservative element in this country, are apparently staggered at the inroads which the so-called higher criticism has made of late. Aged people ominously shake their heads, and striplings of the limp-back Bible type are amazed at the stir which ideas are making in the community, and which threaten to disturb the peace and quiet of their mediocre godliness; and pious women engaged on crazy quilts, in the interest of noble benefactions, stop with punctured and bleeding fingers to protest against all departures from ancient doctrinal symbols.
Suspects are numerous, and, as in the days of the worthy Council of Ten in Venice, no prominent person, especially a teacher, is beyond surveillance. If he adventures just a little from the beaten path, even though it may be to gather a thought, which, like a wild field daisy, given by the bounty of the Infinite One for the delight of his creatures, he has found growing on the wind-swept plain of natural religion, honored possibly by heathen seers and philosophers, he is likely to be summoned before the black draped, gloomy councillors and familiars of modern inquisitorial conservatism.
In my opinion there is no real need for the morbid anxiety that now prevails in certain quarters, and surely no serious alarm should be felt for the perpetuity and stability of truth. Truth is truth, and all the bad captains that ever sailed that bark, and all the bad navigators that ever misdirected its course, have never been able to run it on the lee shore, or bring it to final shipwreck, and never can; for over and above all human devices and guidings there is a divine hand that upholds and shields that which, next to his Infinite Self, is the most precious blessing yet conferred upon the human mind.
Let us remember that the heresies of the hour are not of the "damnable sort" which, as Peter declared, deny the Lord who bought us; neither are they mixed with such immoralities as Paul condemns in his letter to the Galatians. And if we may believe that the words of that same apostle have any pertinency in our times, then, when he declares that heresies or schisms must arise among us "that they which are proved may be made manifest," we may confidently expect that out of the present discussions and the "jangling of sweet notes out of tune" some broader thought and some nobler conception of divine teachings, revealed to us in Holy Scripture, will assuredly come to the church and to the world.
I think that the leaders who are solicitous for the ark of God ought to try to characterize the opinions which have given rise, in these latter days, to threatened trials for heterodoxy. It is so easy to say that a man who differs from ourselves is not orthodox, and to avoid an actual and exact statement of what we mean; when in fact we deal unjustly with him, and produce a wrong impression on the community at large.
Let us notice the three distinctive and discriminating marks of so-called heresy in evangelical churches, and I think you will be persuaded that it is unwise for us to be alarmists, and imprudent "to breathe out threatenings and slaughters."
It will be observed that the newer heresies do not challenge the truth of Scripture inspiration, only the form and philosophy of such inspiration. The men who are suspected of entertaining erroneous opinions concerning the method of Divine impartation of truth are the strenuous advocates of the moral grandeur, spiritual authority, and faith-sufficiency of the heavenly oracles. They, it is true, deny what has been known as the verbal theory—a theory which owes more to the post-reformers' fear of an infallible pope, than to any real, intelligent cause—but by no recognized council or decree, acknowledged by Protestants, has that mechanical conception ever been made binding on the conscience. Modern scholarship is simply leading us to recognize a more rational criticism than was possible to our fathers; a mode of criticism which almost every Sunday-school teacher, in his humble way, adopts, and which is common, and has been in the most orthodox pulpits for unnumbered years, every man bringing the passage he is discussing to the test of knowledge that he has acquired and, in a sense, to the test even of his reason. I do not say that scholars have uttered the final word upon this great subject, nor is it possible for such a word to be pronounced at the present stage of investigation, but I do insist that we should recognize the authority of enlightenment, and that we should not carelessly brand as heterodox men of eminent attainments, who are merely seeking to guide us to foundations which, in the long run, shall prove absolutely indestructible.
We have to decide whether the Christianity of the immediate future shall be governed supremely by intelligence or ignorance. If ignorance is to rule supreme, then let us found no more universities, nor open any new theological seminaries. Let us not go through the farce of instructing, unless it be merely to insist on the assimilating by students of dogmas that must never be questioned, and from which they will swear by the eternities they will never depart, either in spirit or in letter. But, if we believe that education means the quickening of a man's nature so that he will investigate, and if we really believe that God has more light yet to break in upon the world, through the casements and windows of holy scriptures, then, in his Divine Name, let us not be alarmed when, here and there, after infinite weariness and labor, a little ray penetrates the darkness of the ages and promises to give us a noonday view of the origin and influence of God's Word.
It should also be considered that the newer heresies are not primarily defections from Christian doctrine, only from the creeds which assume authoritatively to define such doctrine. Public teachers are being arraigned for their departure from certain standards, such as the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Westminster Confession, and the lugubrious compilation known as the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. These documents, with whatever excellency they may be accredited, were prepared by fallible men—some of them, indeed, exceedingly fallible—who were hardly qualified in their day to define the faith of Christ for the guidance of future ages, and were adopted in most cases by meagre majorities. Why we should suppose their statements are to be regarded as infallible, and why thinkers of our times should be strictly held to their formulas, is something that no one yet has had courage or intelligence sufficient to explain. What right has any body of men to insist on conformity to a creed prepared by beings like themselves, even though it has been venerated for a century or two? Who is Melancthon, and who is Luther, and who are the Westminster divines but "men by whom we have believed"? But are we bound to their word, or are we strictly held to the Word of our common Lord and Divine Teacher? Is Chillingworth's cry, "the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible the religion of Protestants," a mere illusion? It certainly is, and the sacred idea concerning the right of private judgment, if the withered hand of men long dead is to hold the brain of the present in the grasp of death; if we respect ourselves and our avowed belief in the adequacy of Scripture as a rule of faith, then we had better make one huge bonfire of all the antiquated creeds, than denounce the so-called heretics who are, in reality, trying to bring us back to the position of the primitive saints who allowed no human word to obscure or darken the divine Word given by revelation.
I think that every candid soul will admit, in addition to what I have stated, that the newer heresies are not revolts from the scriptural high ideal of Christian life, only a noble protest against narrow interpretations of that life. The men who have recently been arraigned before the tribunals of various denominations are eminent for their uprightness, their conscientious candor and tolerance. No word has ever been uttered to their moral detriment; they are, in this blameful age, among the most blameless of its people. They insist, however, that all doctrine should be regarded merely as moulds in which the life should be cast, and are valuable only in so far as they are able to shape the life in pattern of that one career which has excited the admiration of the ages and the adoring wonder of the heavens.
It hardly seems in accord with any just conception of our Master's faith that men and women who are trying to serve God and their generation should be branded with foul names, should be sneered at as reckless and dangerous guides, and as even denying the Lord whom they reverence and worship. Let us be careful. Heterodoxy of conduct is a greater evil than heterodoxy of creed, and I am free to say, though I may not, with my convictions regarding the atonement of Christ, understand how some eminently philanthropic people can enter the golden gates, yet I should hardly myself appreciate a place beyond their threshold if God could not plan, in some way consistent with His honor, to find a radiant seat of glory for them.
I write these things because I am not a heretic. I do not, of course, agree with the fathers, for, like other Scotchmen, I cannot agree with anybody else in the world; but I am perfectly satisfied with my own orthodoxy.
Occasionally I have been startled to find some adventurous soul giving utterance to views, as being novel and hazardous, which I have entertained, without any perturbation of spirit, for nearly twenty years. I was somewhat amused, not long since, on hearing a venerable theological professor, with tears in his eyes, perspiration on his brow, and anguish in his voice, relate how, after a fearful struggle, he had emancipated himself from certain of Calvin's dictums; but while some clergymen present seemed astounded, I remarked at the close of the meeting that I had accomplished that feat for myself some quarter of a century agone, and what is more, though I did not say this to him, I did so without any tears, and without any anguish whatever. These personal references are merely to show that in taking up the cause of the newer heretics I am not in any wise biassed by a misdirected mind in their favor.
Let us have freedom. Let us think it out. Let the struggle go on, and let us not, with pallid faces and strident voices, cry out in fear; for the only tribunal that can righteously adjudicate the lightness of human thought is the tribunal, as Schiller has it, of history, which unquestionably is on earth the tribunal of the infinite God. He rules in the world of mind as well as in the globe of matter, and eighteen centuries ought to convince us that truth slowly emerges from warring opinions, conflicting theories, and especially from pathetic longings of the human soul to discover its hidden meanings and its widest and grandest applications. Alas! perhaps our ignorance and intolerance may render it necessary that now, as in the past, the prophets of God must first be stoned to death before we will give heed to their message or commemorate their greatness by the homage of our mind. But seriously, I would advise all who have any regard for their own comfort, happiness, and even self-respect, to have as little to do with this wretched stoning business as possible; for I have never yet been able to discover what satisfaction there can possibly be in helping a dear brother or sister to a martyr's crown at the expense of one's own fairness and kindly charity.
HARVEST AND LABORERS IN THE PSYCHICAL FIELD.
BY FREDERIC W. H. MYERS.
There is no living savant, one may say with little fear of contradiction, who surpasses Mr. A. R. Wallace in generous readiness to esteem at its full worth the work of other men. And one may add that this habit of mind, so attractive in a man of acknowledged eminence, is as a rule not attractive only, but actively serviceable to science; that it stimulates effort, and creates an atmosphere in which good work is zealously done.
Yet there may be cases in which this ready appreciativeness may prove a hindrance to progress rather than a help. If wrongly received, it may lead men who have done little to think that they have done much; it may deter others from embarking on needful tasks which they may suppose to have been already amply performed.
In two papers in THE ARENA for January and February, 1891, Mr. Wallace dwelt, partly with criticism, and partly with praise, on the work already done by the Society for Psychical Research. To his criticisms I make no demur; they are legitimate and interesting; and indeed where Mr. Wallace's opinions diverge from those which I have myself set forth, I am disposed to think that we are but looking on "the two sides of the shield,"—a shield embossed on either side with devices so marvellous that no man's interpretation can as yet suffice to unriddle them.
But on the other hand, I cannot let pass without protest the sentence (ARENA, January, p. 130) in which Mr. Wallace speaks of the thanks due to the Society for Psychical Research, "for having presented the evidence in such a way that the facts to be interpreted are now generally accepted as facts by all who have taken any trouble to inquire into the amount and character of the testimony for them,—the opinion of those who have not taken that trouble being altogether worthless." Now in the first place I do not think that all those who have studied our testimony are convinced by it. I received a letter (for instance) not long ago, from a distinguished American, an old friend of mine, who wrote in the most cordial terms to say that out of personal regard for me he had read "Phantasms of the Living" from beginning to end, and that he did not believe a word of it. Our readers' scepticism is perhaps seldom quite so robust; but nevertheless I should say that the attitude of at least half of them is best described by saying not that they accept our evidence ex animo, but that they have not yet exactly managed to see their way to upsetting it.
Nor can I possibly treat as unimportant the attitude of that great majority of savants who have paid no attention at all to the matter. Naturally, their opinion of our evidence does not affect my own opinion thereof, but it decidedly affects my view as to what lines our work ought to follow. Why is it that these men have not studied our Proceedings? It will not do to talk about indolence and prejudice. All men are more or less indolent and prejudiced; but savants as a class are certainly less indolent, and probably less prejudiced, than any other class that one could name. We must not count upon finding our savant "semper vacuum, semper amabilem," any more than Horace found his young ladies always in that condition of affable receptivity. The main reason why so many eminent men neglect our work may be stated in a much less offensive way. The minds of all of us move in certain orbits, from which we are sensibly deflected only by the approach of some new body of adequate mass. Now our "psychical" experiments and observations have plainly not as yet attained sufficient mass to be able to deflect the majority of those great bodies, the luminaries of science, from their accustomed paths through the heavens. Tides, indeed, we do create; there is a refluent washing to and fro of magazine articles about our topic; but we have not yet generated that wholesale perturbation of the scientific system which our facts, if facts they be, must in time inevitably effect.
"Some of the best workers in the Society," says Mr. Wallace again, "still urge that the evidence is very deficient, both in amount and in quality, and that much more must be obtained before it can be treated as really conclusive. This view, however," he adds, "appears to me to be an altogether erroneous one." On the contrary, I venture to say, this assertion of the need of more work, and consequently of more workers, is of absolutely primary, absolutely urgent importance. What would have become of the evolution theory itself (if I may use an argumentum ad hominem of no disrespectful kind), what would have become of that theory itself, though urged at first by savants of such surpassing merit, had no one been able to repeat and confirm their observations? And we who are dealing, not with plants and animals which can be held fast and observed, but, for the most part at any rate, with phantasmal sights, subjective impressions,—surely we must feel a tenfold need of the multiplication of centres of experiment and observation, of the formation of fresh bodies of record in every country, and in each year that passes by. No single small group can ever gain leverage enough to divert the world's prevalent modes of thought, unless it is gradually reinforced by fellow-workers enough to make the possible mistakes or possible death of a few persons quite unimportant to the general result.
It has been suggested by Mr. Wallace and by other critics that we have been too exclusively preoccupied with the idea of telepathy, that we have tried to force into that category phenomena which need a different or a further explanation. Considering the complexity of these phenomena there may well be some truth in this criticism, yet we should surely be unwise if we relaxed our insistence on the importance of telepathy, or the transference of thought or feeling from mind to mind without the agency of the recognized organs of sense as the very root and basis both of experiment and of theory as concerning an unseen world. No one, of course, can suppose that the infinitely complex laws of which we are just now obtaining a precursory glimpse and first faint intimation, can possibly be summarized in any single expression. But the prime importance of telepathy lies in the fact that here, at last, is an action of unseen, uncomprehended forces which can be made the subject of actual experiment. Nay, more, the very fact that in this special direction experiment turns out to be possible, is in itself an augury that we are on a true scientific track; for it involves a remarkable coincidence between a theoretical conclusion and a practical discovery.
In the first place, let us try to realize theoretically what is involved in the supposition that any sort of invisible intelligence can become in any way known to us. I speak of the methods of communication only, without reference to the nature of the supposed intelligence, beyond the mere fact of its habitual invisibility. It is plain, I think, that the said intelligence must either so act upon visible matter as to affect our sense-organs in the ordinary way, or else must convey messages to our minds by some director process, not depending on the intervention of our organs of sense.
Now probably no one will assume that the first method will alone be employed. Even those who insist, with Mr. Wallace, on the objectivity of apparitions, do not, I think, maintain that it is only by moving material objects that unseen intelligences affect our minds. Few will doubt that if there be communication from unseen beings at all, it will probably be at least partly in the second of the two modes already specified, that is, that it will reach our minds in some way more intimate and direct than by ordinary sense-perception. But if this be so, then there must be in our minds a certain power of reciprocity. We must be able to receive the message in the same impalpable way in which the unseen intelligence communicates it.
But if we suppose that man possesses this power of receiving direct or telepathic messages from unembodied or invisible intelligences, it is natural to inquire whether he is capable of receiving similar messages from embodied or visible intelligences. If we cannot find that he is thus capable, our belief in the supposed messages from the unseen will be doubly difficult; for we shall have to postulate both the new forms of intelligence and the new mode of intercourse. But if, on the other hand, we can show that the mode of intercourse here needed does already exist, and appears in man's relations with his fellow-men, then the transition to messages from the unseen will be so much the less violent. We shall only be supposing that man can receive from the disembodied a kind of message which he already receives from the embodied, and which has no obvious dependence on a corporeal embodiment. One single proved transmission, direct from mind to mind, of the most trivial fact or percept, will do more to make communion with the unseen scientifically conceivable,—I do not say more to make it morally conceivable,—than all the poetry and all the rhetoric which has ever stirred the hearts of men.
Such, on the one side, is my deductive argument from the very conception of communication with unseen intelligences.
And do we, on the other hand, find, by empirical observation of the phenomena around us, anything which indicates the existence of a supernormal perceptivity such as theory would suggest? It is known to readers of the Society for Psychical Research Proceedings that we do find such indications, scattered at first, and appearing unsought-for amid the phenomena of mesmeric or somnambulic states; but now to some slight extent isolated into distinctness, and brought under experimental control.
To some slight extent only, I repeat; for the experiments thus far made, although completely convincing to those who, like myself, have witnessed many of them, under very varied conditions, have nevertheless not yet passed into that desired stage at which one may be able to repeat them before any observer, at any moment. At present they are proved by the same kind of evidence as certain rare pathological phenomena (I do not of course mean that telepathy is itself in any way a morbid product)—phenomena such as those surprising rises and falls of the human temperature which are unpredictable, sporadic, and transitory, and must rest for their evidence on the good faith and accuracy of comparatively few observers.
Yet these telepathic experiments have a very hopeful side. Experience has already shown that the phenomena may be developed at any moment, between quite normal persons, and with no bad effects of any sort whatever. Only we cannot tell except by actual trial, and trial of a patient and careful kind, between which persons, out of all mankind, these telepathic messages can be made to run.
What we desire, then, what we ask of all who sympathize with our efforts, is neither premature praise nor equally premature theorizing, but active co-operation in our endeavor to improve and extend our experiments in thought-transference. We want to get our telepathic transmissions distant, definite, and reproducible.
It is desirable to get them at long distances,—not because it is really more marvellous that thought should thus travel a million miles than that it should travel a millimetre,—but for the merely practical reason that at long distances it is easy to avoid two main sources of error, namely, hyperaesthesia, which may be quite unconscious, and fraudulent codes, which may be hard to detect. Most, nay, probably all, of the so-called experiments in thought-transference which have been offered by "thought-readers," etc., from the public platform, have really had nothing at all to do with thought-transference, have depended either on abnormal delicacy of tactile and other sensory perception, or on the adroit use of preconcerted signals. It is only when the observer has complete control of the conditions (which he never has in any public exhibition), that it is worth while to conduct experiments between two persons in the same room.
And even in cases where the good faith—the conscious good faith—of everyone concerned is above suspicion, it must be remembered that there are both unconscious actions and unconscious perceptions which may wholly vitiate an experiment. The rule should be so to arrange the experiment that the percipient cannot profit by unconscious indications; that he cannot (for example) see the expression of the agent's face, or hear the sound of his pencil as he writes down a number to be guessed. Such precautions should be a matter of course; and when they are taken, these experiments near at hand are certainly the easiest and best for private experimenters to begin with, although the desirability of gradually increasing the distance between the persons concerned should always be kept in view.
Let A and P begin their trial, then, in quiet and calm of mind; let A, the agent, sit behind P, the percipient, and not in contact. Let A be provided with a full pack of cards, in which he replaces the card drawn, after each trial, or with a bag of known numbers—say from ten to one hundred—a range convenient for computation—in which bag he replaces and shuffles up the number drawn, after each trial. Let him draw a card (to take cards as our example) say, "Now!" and gaze fixedly at it. Let P keep his mind as blank as possible, and make his guess only when some kind of image of color, suit, or pips, in some way floats into his mind. His first guess only must be counted, and must be received in silence. Let A continue this process for some prearranged number of times, say ten times, and record accurately all the experiments made. Let him renew the process, with intervals of hours or days between each batch of trials, until he has some hundreds of results to analyze. Then let him send his results, with description of the conditions under which the trials were made, to Dr. Richard Hodgson, 5 Boylston Place, Boston, Mass. Dr. Hodgson will tell him if it is worth his while to go on, and will advise as to modifications in the form of experiment.
These hints must here suffice as to experiments made close at hand. But experiment, or observation verging into experiment, is often possible at long distances as well. It often happens that some one tells me that he (or she) has so peculiar a sympathy with some given friend that what one of the pair is actually feeling or thinking at a distance is reproduced by the sensation or thought of the other. To such communications my invariable reply is, "Keep a 'psychical' diary. Put down therein at once every incident which you intend to count, if it turns out (so to say) a telepathic success, and no incident which you do not intend to count. Let your friend keep a similar diary, without showing it to you; after a few months let me compare the two diaries with one another."
I am not armed with supernatural, or even with statutory powers; and my informants have for the most part thought that they had obliged me quite enough if they promised to do as I told them. But just as I was beginning to imitate the dictum, "Miracles do not happen," with the dictum, "Psychical diaries are not kept," the lady termed Miss X——, in Proceedings XIV. and XVI., came to furnish an exception, to my rule. I shall not attempt to summarize the "Record of Telepathic and Other Experiences" in Proceedings XVI.; but I trust that it may be the prototype of many similar records, which can be kept the more easily now that this example has been set.
I will give in brief, one American example (to be found at length in S. P. R. Proceedings XVIII.) of well-recorded telepathic transmission. The incident thus transferred is trivial and even ludicrous; the fact of the transference was absolutely useless. But the case is not only none the worse for this; it is all the better. When we are trying to prove that such transmission exists, we want to keep clear, if we can, of emotional complications. If P is brooding over A's approaching death, and sees a figure of A, then, even if the hour coincides, we cannot help a suspicion that the brooding may have produced the figure. But few, I think, will explain the following incident as a mere outcome of morbid sentimentality. We owe it to the kindness of Dr. Elliott Coues, who knows both ladies concerned, and happened to call on Mrs. C—— the very day on which that lady received the following letter from her friend, Mrs. B——.
Monday Evening, January 14, 1889.
MY DEAR FRIEND,—I know you will be surprised to receive a note from me so soon, but not more so than I was to-day, when you were shown to me clairvoyantly, in a somewhat embarrassed position. I doubt very much if there was any truth in it; nevertheless, will relate it, and leave you to laugh at the idea of it.
I was sitting in my room sewing, this afternoon, about two o'clock, when what should I see but your own dear self; but, heavens! in what a position. Now, I don't want to excite your curiosity too much, or try your patience too long, so will come to the point at once. You were falling up the front steps in the yard. You had on your black skirt and velvet waist, your little straw bonnet, and in your hand were some papers. When you fell, your hat went in one direction and the papers in another. You got up very quickly, put on your bonnet, picked up the papers, and lost no time getting into the house. You did not appear to be hurt, but looked somewhat mortified. It was all so plain to me that I had ten to one notions to dress myself and come over and see if it were true, but finally concluded that a sober, industrious woman like yourself would not be stumbling around at that rate, and thought I'd best not go on a wild goose chase. Now, what do you think of such a vision as that? Is there any possible truth in it? I feel almost ready to scream with laughter whenever I think of it; you did look too funny, spreading yourself out in the front yard. "Great was the fall thereof."
This letter came to us in an envelope addressed: Mrs. E. A. C——, 217 Del. Ave., N. E., Washington, D. C., and with the postmarks, Washington, D. C., Jan. 15, 7 A. M., 1889, and Washington, N. E. C. S., Jan. 15, 8 A. M. Some further letters in the postmarks are illegible.
Now the point is that every detail in this telepathic vision was correct. Mrs. C—— had actually (as she tells me in a letter dated March 7, 1889) fallen in this way, at this place, in the dress described, at 2.41, on January 14. The coincidence can hardly have been due to chance. If we suppose that the vision preceded the accident, we shall have an additional marvel, which, however, I do not think that we need here face. "About 2," in a letter of this kind, may quite conceivably have meant 2.41.
The definiteness of the details here reproduced, is all, I think, that we can reasonably desire. But most important, and I fear, most difficult to obtain, of all the qualities of our ideal telepathic experiment, is that of reproducibility. This is, I think, a difficulty which inheres in the very nature of the phenomenon itself. We are mainly concerned here with the powers not of the waking or empirical, but of the submerged or unconscious self. The transference of the telepathic message, though it may be helped by conscious concentration, takes place (as I hold) mainly in strata of our being which lie below the threshold of ordinary consciousness. It seems as though the influence of the percipient's conscious self, at any rate, were merely hurtful to the experiment, so that to get the percipient at his best we have to catch him in a state of original innocence which he cannot long maintain. It too often has happened that so soon as his own curiosity was roused, so soon as he began to speculate on the process which was going on, and to wonder how he caught the impression, so soon did the impression cease to travel, and his unconscious self could send its message upwards no more.
I am disposed to think that for the present it is to hypnotism that we must look for cases where the telepathic message can be sent repeatedly and at will. It is in the rare cases of sommeil a distance, or such cases as those of Mrs. Pinhey, Dr. Hericourt, and Dr. Gley, reported in Vol. II. of Phantasms of the Living, that there has as yet been the nearest approach to that clock-work regularity and repeatability which is the experimental ideal. It is, therefore, on the medical profession that I would urge the importance of watching for cases of this sort, which are likely to be found more frequently as the therapeutic use of hypnotism extends.
I have mentioned several different forms in which these telepathic messages may be observed by careful seekers. I certainly do not assert that the power or agency operative in each of these cases is precisely the same. On the contrary, I think it probable that there are varieties and complexities quite beyond our present speculation. But at least these cases fall for us under the same primary or obvious category; they are all cases where a thought, a feeling, an impulse, a picture, has been transferred from one mind to another without the agency of the recognized organs of sense.
There are some, both among friends and among opponents, who are inclined to represent telepathic experiment as a petty thing. "What does it come to," say the opponents, "even though you do get a few silly thoughts or meaningless numbers out of one head into another?" "Enough of telepathy!" say the friends; "go on to something of vaster scope!"
These friends and these opponents are not those who have best realized the import of the telepathic claim. The true, the scientific opposition is of a quite different type. It asserts, not that the alleged discovery is a trifle which may be admitted with a sneer, but that it involves a new departure in science greater than its advocates can probably conceive, or have as yet come near to justify. Brushing aside all our further extensions of theory, they take their stand simply and decidedly against telepathy itself; and wisely so, for if telepathy be once admitted, there is, as seems to me, no logical halting-place until we reach a far-off point which I will not confuse my present argument by attempting to specify.
And over all this far-stretching field there is a harvest of experiment, a harvest of observation, which only needs laborers to cut and carry, to thresh and winnow it. The reality, the extent, the importance of the phenomena which lie around us, unnoted and unexplained, are more fully recognized as each year's work adds at once to our knowledge and to our corresponding consciousness of ignorance. Such recognition, I say, is beginning to spread; but it has thus far brought with it all too little of active co-operation in the work of inquiry, that work which in America Dr. Hodgson, backed by Prof. W. James and Prof. W. S. Langley, pushes forward at once with caution and with energy. Those who wish our work to succeed must in some way help towards its success. No enterprise, I think, could promise more fairly. But we are still at the beginning of that great work and the end is far.
BY B. O. FLOWER.
The last session of the International Council of Women discussed no question of greater importance to civilization than that of dress reform. The fact that this world's congress, representing the most thoughtful, conscientious, and broad-minded women of our age, has taken up this subject with a firm determination to accomplish a revolution which shall mean health and happiness to the oncoming generation, is itself a prophecy pregnant with promise of a substantial and enduring reform. It will not be surprising if in the near future it is found that this earnest though somewhat timid discussion marked a distinct step in the world's progress; certainly it was the most significant and authoritative utterance from united womanhood that has yet been made touching a problem which most vitally affects civilization.
To the student of sociology nothing is more perplexing or discouraging than society's persistency in blindly clinging to old standards and outgrown ideals which can no longer be defended by reason; and this is nowhere more marked than in the social world where fashion has successfully defied all true standards of art, principles of common sense, rules of hygiene and what is still more important, the laws of ethics which underlie all stable or enduring civilizations.
At the very threshold of this discussion, I ask the reader to, as far as possible, divest his mind of all prejudice arising from preconceived opinions, and view in a perfectly candid and judicial manner this problem upon which the last word will not be spoken until woman is emancipated. As long as free discussion is tabooed and conservatism finds it possible to dismiss the question with a flippant jest, a ribald joke, or a basely unjust imputation, the old order will stand; partly because woman feels her helplessness and largely because so few people stop to trace cause and effect or patiently reason upon results of the most serious character. Conservatism is strongly entrenched in the minds of the millions, and to a certain degree mental lethargy broods over the world. It is true that in woman's sphere to-day mental activity is more marked than in any other age, and the best brains and most thoughtful women of our time are boldly denouncing the bondage of fashion and bravely pleading for such radical reforms in dress as will secure to womanhood health and comfort, while being genuinely artistic and graceful, breathing true refinement and conforming to aesthetic principles rather than the caprice of fashion. To me there is something infinitely pathetic in the brave protests that have from time to time flashed from the outraged sensibilities of those who represent the very flower of American womanhood, when discussing this subject, for running through their almost every utterance is the plaintive note of helplessness, mingled with the consciousness of the justice of the cause for which they plead. The talented and universally respected Mrs. Abba Woolson Gould some years ago thus gave expression to her feelings when writing of the long, heavy, disease-producing skirts of women:
Do what we will with them, they still add enormously to the weight of clothing, prevent cleanliness of attire about the ankles, overheat by their tops the lower portion of the body, impede locomotion, and invite accidents. In short, they are uncomfortable, unhealthy, unsafe, and unmanageable. Convinced of this fact by patient and almost fruitless attempts to remove their objectionable qualities, the earnest dress-reformer is loath to believe that skirts hanging below the knee are not transitory features in woman's attire, as similar features have been in the dress of men, and surely destined to disappear with the tight hour-glass waists and other monstrosities of the present costume.... Any changes the wisest of us can to-day propose are only a mitigation of an evil which can never be done away till women emerge from this vast swaying, undefined, and indefinable mass of drapery into the shape God gave to His human beings.
Mary A. Livermore voices a sad and terrible truth when she observes:
The invalidism of young girls is usually attributed to every cause but the right one; to hard study—co-education—which, it is said, compels overwork that the girl student may keep up with the young men of her class; too much exercise, or lack of rest and quiet at certain periods when nature demands it. All the while the physician is silent concerning the glove-fitting, steel-clasped corset, the heavy, dragging skirts, the bands engirding the body, the pinching, deforming boot, and the ruinous social dissipation of fashionable society. These will account for much of the feebleness of young women and girls. For they exhaust nervous force, make freedom of movement a painful impossibility, and frequently shipwreck the young girl before she is out of port.
We have a theory, generally accepted in civilized society, which we never formulate in speech but to which we are very loyal in practical life. This theory, put in plain language, is as follows: God knows how to make boys; and, when He sends a boy into the world, it is safe to allow him to grow to manhood as God made him. He may be too tall or too short, for our notions, too stout or too thin, too light or too dark. Nevertheless, it is right, for God knows how to make boys. But when God sends a girl into the world, it is not safe to allow her to grow to womanhood as He has made her. Some one must take her and improve her figure, and give her the shape in which it is proper for her to grow.
Accordingly, the young girl comes some day from the dressmaker with this demand: "Mme. —— (the dressmaker) says that I am getting into horrid shape, and must have a pair of corsets immediately." The corsets are bought and worn, and the physical deterioration begins.
Miss Frances E. Willard thus touchingly refers to the bondage of fashion:
"But there came a day—alas! the day of my youth—on which I was as literally caught out of the fields and pastures as was ever a young colt; confronted by a long dress that had been made for me, corsets and high-heeled shoes that had been bought, hair-pins and ribbons for my straying locks, and I was told that it simply 'wouldn't answer' to 'run wild' another day. Company from the city was expected; I must be made presentable; 'I had got to look like other folks.'
"That was a long time ago, but I have never known a single physically reasonable day since that sweet May morning, when I cried in vain for longer lease of liberty."
Mrs. Frances E. Russell, whose significant paper read at the Woman's Council elicited universal approbation, in the following extract from her able essay in THE ARENA sounds a more hopeful note than her illustrious predecessors, for she is nearer the dawn, and the horizon of woman's freedom is broadening:
The fiction that women have no legs is now fully discredited, for in the show windows of the largest dry goods stores stand dummies of the female figure dressed only in the combination undersuit made of wool or silk "tights," covering the whole body, except the head, hands, and feet. By this time everyone must know that woman, like man, is a biped. Can anyone give a good reason why she must lift an unnecessary weight of clothing with every step she takes,—pushing forward folds of restricting drapery and using almost constantly, not only her hands, but her mental power and nervous energy to keep her skirts neat and out of the way of harm to herself and others?
Much discussion has been wasted over the question whether a woman should carry the burden of her voluminous drapery from the shoulders or the hips. Why must she carry this unnecessary weight at all?
Now let us join hands, all lovers of liberty, in earnest co-operation to free American women from the dominion of foreign fashion. Let us, as intelligent women, with the aid and encouragement of all good men, take this important matter into our own hands and provide ourselves with convenient garments; a costume that shall say to all beholders that we are equipped for reasonable service to humanity.
Conservative critics have so frequently misrepresented those who have honestly pleaded for dress reform, that it is no longer safe to be frank, and this fact alone has constrained numbers of earnest writers from expressing their sentiments who have felt it their duty to speak in behalf of health, beauty, and common sense; indeed so certain is one to be misrepresented who handles this subject in anything like a reasonable and unconventional manner, and so surely will his views be assailed as improper, owing to the age-long cast of conventional thought, that were it not that this question so intimately affects fundamental, ethical, and hygienic laws, and bears such a vitally important relation to true progress, I frankly admit that I doubt whether I should have the courage to discuss it. But I find it impossible to remain silent, believing as I do most profoundly that the baleful artificial standards so long tolerated must be abolished, that the fetish of the nineteenth century civilization must be overthrown, and that it is all-important that people be thoroughly acquainted with the far-reaching and basic significance of this problem, through courageous and persistent agitation and education, in order that manhood and womanhood be brought up to the ethical plane which marks enduring civilization. In the examination of this subject I desire to very briefly notice it from aesthetic, hygienic, and ethical points of view. It is a singular fact that every effort made toward a healthful and common sense reform in woman's apparel has been assailed as inartistic or immoral; while fashions at once disgusting, indecent, destructive to life and health, and degrading to womanhood have been readily sanctioned by conventionalism. This antagonistic attitude toward any movement for an improvement in woman's attire founded on the laws of health, art, comfort, and common sense was characteristically expressed in a recent editorial in a leading Boston daily, wherein the writer solemnly observed:
The simple truth is, the great majority of the women appreciate the fact that it is their mission to be beautiful, and the dress reformers have never yet devised any garment to assist the women in fulfilling this mission.
The author of the above fairly represents the attitude of conventional thought,—its servility to fashion, its antagonism to reformative moves. The implied falsehood that fashion represents beauty and art, or is the servant of aestheticism has been reiterated so often that thousands have accepted it as truth.
In order to expose its falsity, I have reproduced in this paper plates taken from leading American and English fashion monthlies during the past three decades, in each of which it is noticeable that extremes have been reached. In 1860-65, the hoop-skirt held sway, and the wasp waist was typical of beauty. Then no lady was correctly attired according to the prevailing idea who did not present a spectacle curiously suggestive of a moving circus tent. During this era four or five fashionably dressed women completely filled an ordinary drawing-room; while the sidewalk was often practically monopolized by moving monstrosities, save when in front or behind the formidable swinging cages moved escorts, who with no less servility than American womanhood bowed to the frivolous and criminal caprice of the modern Babylon.
But fashion is nothing if not changeable; fancy not art guides her mind. What to-day types beauty, is by her own voice to-morrow voted indecent and absurd. Thus we find in the period extending from 1870 to 1875 an entirely new but none the less ridiculous or injurious extreme prevails. The wonderful swinging cage, the diameter of which at the base often equaled the height of the encased figure, has disappeared, being no longer considered desirable or aesthetic, and in its place we have prodigious bustles and immense trains, by which an astonishing quantity of material is thrown behind the body, suggesting in some instances a toboggan slide, in others the unseemly hump on the back of a camel. This is the era of the enormous bustle and the train of sweeping dimensions.
 During this period the ingenuity of man came to woman's rescue, by the invention of an interesting, and, judging by its popularity, exceedingly serviceable contrivance known as a dress elevator, which enabled ladies to instantly elevate their enormous trains when they came to a particularly muddy and filthy crossing.
When we examine the prevailing styles which marked this period, we are struck with amazement at the power exerted by fashion over the intellect and judgment of society. Imagine the shame and humiliation of a woman of fashion, endowed by nature or afflicted by disease with such an unsightly hump on the back as characterized the fashionable toilet of this period!
Toward the end of the seventies, we find another extreme reached, which if possible was more absurd and injurious than those which marked the early days of this decade. This was the period of the tie-back, or narrow skirts and enormous trains. As in 1860 fashion's slaves vied with one another in their effort to cover the largest possible circular space, now their ambitions lay in the direction of the opposite extreme: the skirts must be as narrow as possible even though it greatly impeded walking, for as will be readily observed all free use of the lower limbs was out of the question during the reign of the "tie-back."
 It was in the midst of the period of the tie-backs that Harper's Bazar published two striking cartoons illustrating the poem given below. One represented a poor man's wife, "The slave of toil," and was pathetically powerful in its fidelity to truth; the other, drawn by the powerful Nast, represented a society lady of the day attired in the reigning tie-back, measuring at the hips a little more than double the width a short distance below the knees. This slave was chained to fashion's column.
You think there is little of kinship between them? Perhaps not in blood, yet there's likeness of soul; And in bondage 'tis patent to all who have seen them That both are fast held under iron control. The simpering girl, with her airs and her graces, Is sister at heart to the hard-working drudge; Two types of to-day, as they stand in their places; Whose lot is the sadder I leave you to judge.
One chained to the block is the victim of Fashion; Her object in life to be perfectly dressed; Too silly for reason, too shallow for passion, She passes her days 'neath a tyrant's behest. Thus pinioned and fettered, and warily moving, Lest looping should fail her, or band come apart: What room is there left her for thinking or loving? What noble ambition can enter her heart?
And one, the worn wife of a grizzled old farmer; She kneads the great loaves for the "men-folks" to eat. In the wheat-fields the green blades are springing like armor; Afar in the forests the flowers are sweet. She lifts not her eyes. Within kitchen walls narrow Her life is pent up. The most hopeless of slaves, Though weary and jaded in sinew and marrow, She never complains. Women rest in their graves.
Twin victims, for which have we tenderest pity— For mother and wife toiling on till she dies, Or the frivolous butterfly child of the city, All blind to the glory of earth and of skies? Is it fate, or ill fortune, hath woven about you Strong meshes which ye are too helpless to break? Shall we scornfully wonder, or angrily flout you, Or strive from their torpor your minds to awake?
Yet, Venus of old, with your queenly derision, How you would disdain the belle's tawdry array! Free footsteps untrammelled, cool hand of decision, Sweet laugh like bells pealing, were yours in the day When you reigned over men by the might of your beauty; No fetters were o'er you in body or brain; The world would bow down in the gladness of duty Could you but awake in your splendor again.
And, Pallas and Venus, if now you were holding A talk over womanhood, what would you say, The words of wise counsel while you were unfolding, If some one should show you these pictures to-day? I dream of your faces: divinest compassion Would yearn the poor toiler to pity and save; And your largeness of scorn would descend on the fashion Which binds, unresisting, the idler a slave.
The reaction in favor of a more sensible dress which followed was of brief duration. During this time, however, the long trains were seldom seen, and thoughtful women began to hope that the arbitrary rule of fashion was over. It was not long, however, before the panier period arrived, and what was popularly known as the pull-back was accepted as the correct style in fashion's world. Of this latter conceit little need be said, for it has so recently passed from view that all remember its peculiarity, which to the ordinary observer seemed to be a settled determination on the part of its originators to render walking as difficult and fatiguing as possible, while fully exposing the outline of the wearer's body below the waist at every step. What in '60 or '70 would have been accounted the height of indecency, is in the eighties perfectly proper in the fashionable world. During this time it was not enough to have the skirts very narrow, they must at every step give the outline of the limbs [or as our Minnesota solon would put it, nether limbs], hence we find the pull-backs in which "two shy knees appeared clad in a single trouser."
Such have been the inconsistencies, incongruities, and absurdities of fashion as illustrated in the past three decades, in view of which one may well ask whether in fashion's eyes women are such paragons of ugliness that these ever-varying styles (introduced, we are seriously informed, to conserve to her beauty,) are absolutely essential, and by what rule of art can we explain the fact that the ponderous hoopskirt was the essential requirement of beauty in the sixties and the enormous bustles demanded in the seventies. The truth is, fashion is supremely indifferent alike to all laws of art and beauty, health and life, decency and propriety—a fact that must be patent to any thoughtful person who examines the prevailing styles of a generation. I submit that the wildest extremes to which well-meaning but injudicious dress reformers have gone in the past have been marked by nothing more inartistic than the costume of the reigning belle in 1860. Each successive decade has been marked by an extreme which, surveyed from the vantage ground of the present, is as ridiculously absurd as it has been wanting in beauty Nowhere have the laws of true art been so severely ignored as in the realm of fashion. Yet this view of the problem palls into insignificance when we come to examine the question from the standpoint of health and life.
One would think that after thousands of years of sickness and death, with all the advantages of increased education and a broadening intellectual horizon, we would have arrived at such an appreciation of the value of health and the solemn duty we owe to posterity, as to compel this consideration to enter into our thoughts when we adopted styles of dress; yet nowhere is the weakness of our present civilization more marked or its hollowness so visible, even to the superficial thinker, as in the realm of fashion, where every consideration of health and even of life, and all sense of responsibility to future generations are brushed aside as trivialities not to be seriously considered. In vain have physicians and physiologists written, lectured, and demonstrated the fatal results of yielding to fashion. The learned Doctor Trall in writing on this subject wisely observes:
The evil effects of tight-lacing, or of lacing at all, and of binding the clothing around the hips, instead of suspending it from the shoulders, can never be fully realized without a thorough education in anatomy and physiology. And if the illustrations here presented should effect the needed reform in fashionable dress, the resulting health and happiness to the human race would be incalculable; for the health of the mothers of each generation determines, in a very large measure, the vital stamina of the next. It is obvious that, if the diameter of the chest, at its lower and broader part, is diminished by lacing, or any other cause, to the extent of one fourth or one half, the lungs B, B, are pressed in towards the heart, A, the lower ribs are drawn together and press on the liver, C, and spleen, E, while the abdominal organs are pressed downward on the pelvic viscera. The stomach, D, is compressed in its transverse diameter; both the stomach, upper intestines, and liver are pressed downward on the kidneys, M, M, and on the lower portions of the bowels [the intestinal tube is denoted by the letters f, j, and k,] while the bowels are crowded down on the uterus, i, and bladder, g. Thus every vital organ is either functionally obstructed or mechanically disordered, and diseases more or less aggravated, the condition of all. In post-mortem examinations the liver has been found deeply indented by the constant and prolonged pressure of the ribs, in consequence of tight-lacing. The brain-organ, protected by a bony inclosure, has not yet been distorted externally by the contrivances of milliners and mantuamakers; but, lacing the chest, by interrupting the circulation of the blood, prevents its free return from the vessel of the brain, and so permanent congestion of that organ, with constant liability to headache, vertigo, or worse affections, becomes a "second nature." The vital resources of every person, and all available powers of mind and body, are measurable by the respiration. Precisely as the breathing is lessened, the length of life is shortened; not only this, but life is rendered correspondingly useless and miserable while it does exist. It is impossible for any child, whose mother has diminished her breathing capacity by lacing, to have a sound and vigorous organization. If girls will persist in ruining their vital organs as they grow up to womanhood, and if women will continue this destructive habit, the race must inevitably deteriorate. It may be asserted, therefore, without exaggeration, that not only the welfare of the future generations, but the salvation of the race depends on the correction of this evil habit. The pathological consequences of continued and prolonged pressure on any vital structure are innutrition, congestion, inflammation, and ulceration, resulting in weakness, waste of substance, and destruction of tissue. The normal sensibility of the part is also destroyed. No woman can ever forget the pain she endured when she first applied the corsets; but in time the compressed organs become torpid; the muscles lose their contractile power, and she feels dependent on the mechanical support of the corset. But the mischief is not limited to local weakness and insensibility. The general strength and general sensibility correspond with the breathing capacity. If she has diminished her "breath of life," she has just to that extent destroyed all normal sensibility. She can neither feel nor think normally. But in place of pleasurable sensations and ennobling thoughts, are an indescribable array of aches, pains, weaknesses, irritations, and nameless distresses of body, with dreamy vagaries, fitful impulses, and morbid sentimentalities of mind. And yet another evil is to be mentioned to render the catalogue complete. Every particle of food must be aerated in the lungs before it can be assimilated. It follows, therefore, that no one can be well nourished who has not a full, free, and unimpeded action of the lungs. In the contracted chest, the external measurement is reduced one half; but as the upper portions of the lungs cannot be fully inflated until the lower portions are fully expanded, it follows that the breathing capacity is diminished more than one half. It is wonderful how anyone can endure existence, or long survive, in this devitalized condition; yet, thousands do, and with careful nursing, manage to bring into the world several sickly children. The spinal distortion is one of the ordinary consequences of lacing. No one who laces habitually can have a straight or strong back. The muscles being unbalanced become flabby or contracted, unable to support the trunk of the body erect, and a curvature, usually a double curvature, of the spine is the consequence. And if anything were needed to aggravate the spinal curvature, intensify the compression of the internal viscera, and add to the general deformity, it is found in the modern contrivance of stilted gaiters. These are made with heels so high and narrow that locomotion is awkward and painful, the centre of gravity is shifted "to parts unknown," and the head is thrown forwards and the hips projected backwards to maintain perpendicularity.
 I have reproduced the admirable cuts found in Dr. Trall's physiology, as they were essential to the understanding of the text quoted, and also because they convey more vividly than words the injury necessarily sustained by those who persist in outraging nature and violating the laws of their being by improper dress.
In speaking of the destructiveness to health caused by woman's dress, Prof. Oscar B. Moss, M. D., declares:
Although the corset is the chief source of constraint to the kidneys, liver, stomach, pancreas, and spleen, forcing them upward to encroach upon the diaphragm and compressing the lungs and heart, its evils are rivalled by those resulting from suspending the skirts from the waist and hips, by which means the pelvic organs are forced downward and often permanently displaced. Now, add to these errors a belt drawn snugly around the waist, and we have before us a combination of the most malignant elements of dress which it would be possible to invent.
The waist belt enforces the evils which the corset and skirts inaugurate. Every proposition of anatomy and physiology bearing upon this subject appeals to reason. Did the abdominal organs require for their well-being less room than we find in the economy of nature, less room would have been provided. Nature bestows not grudgingly, neither does she lavish beyond the requirements of perfect health.
The same laws which govern the nutrition of muscles, apply also to the vital organs. Pressure that impedes circulation of blood through them must suppress their functions proportionally. With the lungs, heart, and digestive organs impaired by external devices, which force them into abnormal relations, health is impossible. Every other part of the body—nay, life itself—depends upon the perfection of these organs. The ancients fittingly called them the tripod of life.
Consumption, heart disease, dyspepsia, and the multiform phases of uterine and ovarian diseases are among the natural and frequent consequences of compressing the internal organs. Men could not endure such physical indignities as women inflict upon themselves. Should they attempt to do so, they would not long hold the proud position of "bread winners," which is now theirs by virtue of their more robust qualities.
It is difficult to imagine a slavery more senseless, cruel, or far-reaching in its injurious consequences than that imposed by fashion on civilized womanhood during the past generation. Her health has been sacrificed, and in countless instances her life has paid the penalty; while posterity has been dwarfed, maimed, and enervated, and in body, mind, and soul deformed at its behests. In turn every part of her body has been tortured. On her head at fashion's caprice the hair of the dead has been piled. Hats and bonnets, wraps and gowns laden with heavy beads and jet have as seriously impaired her health as they have rendered her miserable; the tight lacing required by the wasp waists has produced generations of invalids and bequeathed to posterity suffering that will not vanish for many decades. By it, as has been pointed out by the authorities cited, every vital organ in the body has been seriously affected. The heart and lungs, by nature protected by a cage of bone, have been abnormally crushed in a space so contracted as to absolutely prohibit the free action upon which health depended; while the downward pressure was necessarily equally injurious to her delicate organism. The tightly drawn corset has proved an unmitigated curse to the living and a legacy of misery and disease to posterity. And this cruel deforming of the most beautiful of God's creations was said to be beautiful simply because fashion willed it. Nor was this all; enormous bustles and skirts of prodigious dimension have borne their weight largely upon that part of her body which above all else should be absolutely free from pressure. By this means the most sensitive organs have been ruthlessly subjected to down pressing weights which for exquisite torture and for the absolute certainty of the long train of agony that must result, rival the heartless ingenuity of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. Beyond this generation of debilitated and invalided mothers, rises a countless posterity robbed of its birthright of health while yet unborn. A possible genius deformed and dwarfed by the weight of a fashionable dress; a brain which might have been brilliant rendered idiotic by the constant pressure of a corset, and the wearisome weight of a "stylish" dress pressing about the hips; a child whose natural capacity might have carried him to the seat of a Webster or into the laboratory of an Edison, condemned to drag a weakly, diseased, or deformed body through life, with mind ever chained to the flesh, through the heartless imposition which fashion imposed on his mother! What thought can be more appalling to a conscientious woman? Yet until a revolution is accomplished and a reign of reason and common sense inaugurated, this crime against the unborn will continue. But some argue the days of these extremes are past.
 In discussing the solemn duty mothers owe to their offspring, Mrs. Annie Jenness Miller sensibly observes:—
Are women ignorant of the mischief they do to their offspring, or are they indifferent to consequences? Has the true maternal love become extinct, in this age of advanced civilization, that women ignore all the laws of nature while anticipating the glory of motherhood? We know not; yet we often see what causes a thrill of pity in our soul for the future of the child yet unborn: a mother laced within stiff bones and steel, while the very instincts of being cry out against the sin of it. Surely every child has a right to be well born! Wealth may be a grand inheritance, but health is a better one, as any poor suffering creature will testify, whose misery the most expensive doctors have been called upon to alleviate without avail. And how can a child be well born unless its parents observe the laws of life bearing upon the birth and rearing of children? It is impossible. If a mother will so clothe herself that the vitality which properly belongs to her baby becomes exhausted and destroyed, the child is robbed, as a natural consequence, and perhaps the weakened, puny, distorted, fretful little creature, who is innocent of the cause of its own sufferings, will live to become a curse to the world instead of the blessing that it would have been had rational conditions been observed before its birth.
* * * * *
Tight corsets grudgingly loosened a quarter of an inch at a time, heavy skirts, and all the evil conditions we are so familiar with, are still retained as the months pass, bringing ever nearer what should be the very happiest hour of woman's existence—that in which she is to be intrusted with the keeping, training, and guidance of a new human soul. Perhaps her baby comes into the world dead or deformed, perhaps deprived of certain of its faculties; or it may be that it possesses life and all of its special senses and organs in such a diminished degree that the whole of its future becomes a pain rather than a joy, while its miserable, puny structure remains a lasting reproach to its parents as long as they live.
I answer not past, but they are assuming other forms. Since 1890 dawned, the evils in some respects have been aggravated; for it must not be forgotten that the daughters of the present decade have, in order to be fashionable, compressed beyond all healthful bounds the flesh of their arms, retarding circulation and inviting pneumonia and other ills. And in order to look stylish, thousands of women wear dress waists so tight that no free movement of the upper body is possible; indeed in numbers of instances ladies are compelled to put their bonnets on before attempting the painful ordeal of getting into their glove-fitting dress waists. Many young women to-day, yielding to the spell of fashion, place the corset next to their flesh, while a still greater number have merely the thinnest possible undershirt between the flesh and the corset, after which they tightly draw the dress waist until it meets. This seems incredible, but it is vouched for by several ladies of my acquaintance, among whom are physicians whose large practice among their sisters gives them peculiar facilities for knowing the absolute facts. Health, posterity, and all the instincts of the higher self are ruthlessly sacrificed to the fickle folly of fashion's criminal caprice. And we must not forget that even now the sweeping train is coming in vogue and correctly attired ladies must consent to carry the germs of death with quantities of filth from the streets of our metropolitan cities into their homes of wealth and refinement. The corset and high-heeled shoes, the two most deadly foes to maternity and posterity, are also seen at the present time, on every hand.
If outraged nature could show the procession of mothers sacrificed on fashion's altar during the past generation, or unveil the suffering and deformity being borne by posterity at the present time, through this slavery, the world would be thrilled with an indescribable horror. Health, comfort, and human life have paid the penalty of a criminal servitude to the modern juggernaut, before whose car millions of our women are bowing in abject servility, knowing full well that at each turn of its wheel new pains or fresh diseases will be inflicted. And what power controls and gives life to this mistress of modern civilization? At whose behest is this crime against reason, life, and posterity perpetrated? The cupidity of the shrewd and unscrupulous and the caprice of the shallow and frivolous.
The moral aspect of this subject is even more grave than the hygienic. Anything which injures the physical body, whether it be licentiousness, intemperance, gluttony, or vicious modes of dress, is necessarily evil from an ethical point of view. Not simply because the law of our being decrees that whatever drains or destroys the physical vitality must sooner or later sap the vital forces of the brain; but also because anything is ethically destructive which chains the mind to the realm of animality, when, unfettered, it should be unfolding in spiritual strength and glory. Thus it will be readily seen that any article of clothing which presses upon the vitals of the body so as to cause displacement of the delicate organism, or so cumbersome as to cause general fatigue, anything, as is the case with high heels, which throws the body out of its equilibrium, or any article of dress which makes the mind ever conscious of the body by virtue of its uncomfortableness, is injurious from an ethical point of view. This fact which has been so generally overlooked will become more apparent, if for the sake of illustration we suppose for a moment that a plant is endowed with reason and sensation, and obeying the general law of its being, and the persuasive and inspiring influence of the sun and rain, is struggling to rise heavenward, and give to the radiant world above its impearled wealth—its gorgeous bloom, its marvellous fragrance and fruit; but by virtue of the bonds of a prison-house below,—a small pot or a rocky encasement, its lifework is thwarted, its bloom, perfume, and fruit, if they come at all, are stunted, limited, and imperfect. For generations woman's condition has been like that of the plant, the wealth of her nature has been dwarfed, the marvellous richness of her life has been marred by the imprisoned conditions of her body, and infinitely more sad and far-reaching have been the baleful consequences upon millions of her offspring, dwarfed, weakly, sickly, enfeebled in body and soul. A mother whose thoughts have voluntarily or involuntarily been held in the atmosphere of the physical nature, necessarily imparts to her child a legacy of animality which, like the corpse of a dead being, clings to the soul throughout its pilgrimage. Terrible as have been fashion's ravages on woman's physical health, the curse which she has exerted when the ethical aspect of the case is entertained, far transcends it.
It is a curious fact that almost all the opposition from women to proposed reforms in woman's dress comes from two extremes in society. Those who do no independent thinking, taking all their thoughts and opinions from the expressed views of the men with whom they associate, and the profoundly earnest and thoughtful, but conservative women of society. The opposition of the former class is merely the echo of husbands, brothers, fathers, and lovers; but the others are moved by conviction, and for this reason their views are worthy of consideration. They fear that any radical change will exert an immoral influence. Their minds are swayed by ancient thought which throughout all ages has cast its baleful shadow over the brain of the world. They are held under the spell of a conservatism which unquestioningly tolerates established institutions and existing orders, but has no confidence in aught that proposes to break with these, even though the new has reason and common sense clearly on its side. Thus time and again fashions have been tolerated, although known to be morally enervating and singularly repulsive to all refined sensibilities; while proposals from without for reforms based on the laws of health and beauty have called forth the most determined opposition from this conscientious class, merely because the proposed innovations have not conformed to ideas entertained by virtue of prevailing fashions, and have been therefore regarded immoral. And herein lies an important point to be considered. Anything which is radically unlike prevailing standards or styles to which we have become accustomed will impress most persons as being immodest or indecent. The unusual in dress is usually denounced as immoral because we are all prone to allow our prejudice to obscure our reason and o'ersway our judgment. This point must be recognized before any real reform can be accomplished. When humanity has grown sufficiently wise to reason broadly and view problems on their own merits, aside from preconceived opinion or inherited prejudice, real instead of false standards of morality will prevail, and we shall cease to condemn anything as pernicious simply because it is unusual, radically unlike that to which we have been accustomed or revolutionary in its tendency. Let me make this if possible more apparent by an illustration, because it bears such an important relation to the main issue. If men had for ages worn long flowing robes, completely enveloping their bodies, but on a certain day with one accord exchanged them for a costume similar to that now seen throughout the civilized world, society would experience a distinct shock; immoral, indecent, pernicious, and vulgar would mildly express the sentiment of conventional thought, until the same society had become accustomed to the change. To us at the present time it is difficult to conceive how women of sense and refinement submitted to the swinging-cage paraphernalia of the sixties, or the Grecian bend of a later date. Yet in those days the severely plain skirts of the present would have seemed positively indecent. It has been necessary to dwell on this thought in order to sufficiently remove existing prejudice to enable a fair consideration of the question in its broader aspects. I have also introduced fair examples of prevailing fashions during the past generation and reproductions of Greek, Shakespearian and other simple costumes worn at the present time by the queens of the stage, to show by comparison how infinitely more graceful, beautiful, comfortable, healthful, and by their very elements of comfort and healthfulness, ethically superior, are these costumes to those which conventionalism sanctioned in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Is there anything immodest, indecent, or suggestive of impropriety in Mary Anderson in the graceful Grecian costume of Parthenia, presented on the preceding page? Of the tens of thousands of people who have witnessed the performances of Madame Modjeska, Miss Anderson, Julia Marlowe, or Margaret Mather in the costumes given in this paper, it is not probable that a perceptible number have seen aught improper or even injuriously suggestive, notwithstanding they are so radically unconventional. Surely no mind accustomed to think broadly and view problems on all sides, and unaccustomed to revel in the sewer of sensualism would see in the attire of these estimable ladies aught but costumes at once graceful, refined, and apparently infinitely more comfortable and healthful than those represented in any of the fashion plates I have reproduced, and which millions of women of good sense have under the stress of conventionalism been compelled to wear. Let us compare Miss Anderson's Grecian costume with the dress of a society belle in the seventies, which required from twenty to thirty yards of material, and when completed and fitted transformed the wearer into a monstrosity with an unsightly hump on the back, and a street cleaner of immense dimensions trailing for several feet in her rear.
From artistic, hygienic, economical, and ethical points of view, to say nothing of common sense and comfort, is not the simple and beautiful costume of Parthenia incomparably superior to that which marked the second decade of the past generation? Would not woman to-day clothed in close-fitting garments of silk or woollen fabric, with an outer robe or loose dress fashioned something after the order of the ancient Grecian or Roman pattern, be far more beautiful than she is as a slave to fashion's fickle fancy, while the requirements of life, health, and comfort would be fully met? Again, let us compare one of the plates of the sixties with its wonderful expanse of skirt to the simple, graceful attire of Miss Marlowe as Viola in the "Twelfth Night," and laying aside all preconceived opinions (with the influence which we have seen the unusual plays in fashioning our ideas of propriety,) does not our reason and common sense sustain the view that the latter is far more refined, simple, and less vulgarly ostentatious than the inflated garment of the early sixties? Or if we compare the pictures of Modjeska and Miss Marlowe in Shakespearian roles, or that of the former in the neat and graceful gathered gown, and Miss Mather in the simple peasant dress, are they not one and all far more chaste, artistic, sensible, and healthful than the hoop-skirt, bustle, and train, or the tie-back? Do not, however, understand that I advocate the introduction of any of these costumes. It is for woman and woman alone to decide what she will wear, and in this paper I am merely seeking to second the splendid work that has by her been inaugurated, and by speaking as one of the younger men of this decade, to voice what I believe American womanhood will find to be the sentiment of the rising generation, whenever she makes a concerted effort to emancipate herself from the slavery of Parisian fashions. There are many evidences that the hour is ripe for a sensible revolt, and that if the movement is guided by wise and judicious minds it will be a success. Two things seem to me to be of paramount importance.
(1.) The commission of women acting for the Council should decide definitely upon the nature and extent of changes desired. The ideal costume should be clearly defined and ever present in their mind. But it would be exceedingly unwise to attempt any radical change at once. This has been more than anything the secret of the partial or total failures of the movements of this character in the past. The changes should be gradually made. Every spring and autumn let an advance step be taken, and in order to do this an American fashion commission or bureau should be established, under the auspices of the dress reform committee of the Women's Council, which at stated intervals should issue bulletins and illustrated fashion plates. If the ideal is kept constantly in view, and every season slight changes are made toward the desired garment, the victory will, I believe, be a comparatively easy one, for the splendid common sense of the American women and men will cordially second the movement. Concerted action, a clearly defined ideal toward which to move, and gradual changes—these are points which it seems to me are vitally important. One reason why the most ridiculous and inartistic extremes in fashion have been generally adopted is found in this policy of gradual introduction, a fact which must impress anyone who carefully examines the fashions of the past. First there has been a slight alteration, shortly becoming more pronounced, and with each season it has grown more marked, although perhaps not for four or six years has the extreme been reached. At every step there have been complaints from various quarters, but steadily and persistently has the fashion been pushed until it reached its climax, after which we have had its gradual decline. This was the history of the hoop skirt and the Grecian bend, and has been that of most of the extremes which have marked the past, and we can readily believe that in no other way could womanhood have been insnared by such supreme and criminal folly as has characterized fashion's caprices in unnumbered instances.
(2.) Another very essential point is the proper education of the girls of to-day, for to them will fall, in its richest fruition, the blessings of this splendid reform if it be properly carried on, and if they be everywhere instructed to set health above fashion, and seek the beauty of Venus de Medici rather than the pseudo beauty of the wretched, deformed invalid, who at the dictates of the modern Babylon has trampled reason and common sense, health and comfort, the happiness of self and the enjoyment of her posterity under foot. Teach the girls to be American; to be independent; to scorn to copy fashion, manners, or habits that come from decaying civilizations, and which outrage all sentiment of refinement, laws of life, or principles of common sense. The American girl is naturally independent and well endowed with reason and common sense. Once shown the wisdom and importance of this American movement, and she will not be slow to cordially embrace it. In many respects the hour is most propitious, owing to a combination of causes never before present, among which may be mentioned the growing independence of American womanhood; the enlarged vision that has come to her through the wonderfully diverse occupations and professions which she has recently embraced; the growing consciousness of her ability to succeed in almost every vocation of life. The latitude enjoyed by her in matters of dress in the mountains and seashore resorts; the growth of women's gymnasiums; the emphasis given to hygienic instruction in schools, and the recent quiet introduction of a perfectly comfortable apparel for morning wear, which, strange to say, has originated where one would least expect, among the most fashionable belles of the Empire city. This significant innovation which is reported by the daily press, as becoming quite popular among the young ladies of the wealthy districts of New York, consists of a comfortable blouse worn over knickerbocker trousers. Clad in this comfortable attire, the belles come to breakfast, nor do they subsequently change their dress during the morning if they intend remaining indoors. If a sedate or fastidious caller is announced, a beautiful tea-gown, which is at hand, is slipped into, and the young lady is appropriately clad to suit even conventional requirements. The bicycle and lawn tennis costumes now becoming so popular also exercise a subtile but marked influence in favor of rational dress reform, not only giving young ladies the wonderful comfort and health-giving freedom which for ages have been denied her sex, but also by accustoming them to these radically unconventional costumes.
 In speaking of this practical dress reform on the part of the belles of New York, the Boston Daily Globe recently observed editorially: The great question now agitating the fashionable women of Fifth Avenue is: "Do you wear knickerbockers?"
Stripped of all apologetic circumlocution, "knickerbockers" are simply loose, easy trousers, above which is worn a becoming blouse waist, and thus attired, the belles of New York come down to breakfast. Nor are the trousers subsequently removed while the ladies are about the house, unless some conservative caller is announced, when a stylish tea-gown can be jumped into in a second, and the lady is in faultless female costume.
That women should be handicapped in their locomotion in their own homes is simply a relic of oriental slavery and prudery, and the revolt against it is sensible and wholesome. That they have come to stay is evident, while improved costumes for shop girls, and other women engaged in business every day in the year, are certain to follow in the order of progress.—Boston Globe.
It might be well also for the council to recommend the formation of societies in each community where social or society gatherings of those interested might be held at stated intervals, at which all members would appear in dresses made with special regard to health, comfort, and beauty, and in which all garments would conform to the general ideal recommended by the council.
 As the paper is being set up my attention has been attracted to a remarkably sensible signed editorial in the Boston Sunday Globe, of July 26, by the brilliant writer and sensible thinker, Adelaide A. Claftin, from which I extract the following:
Bishop Coxe's fulmination against the riding of bicycles by women has attracted considerable attention, but to the student of social movements it is not strange that Bishop Coxe should object. The real oddity is that scarcely anybody else, apparently, has objected.
That young girls from the best families should within a short time have betaken themselves to whirling through the public thoroughfares, like so many boys, is certainly a new departure from all old fashioned canons of feminine decorum, at least as startling as many that have brought down all sorts of thunderbolts from pulpit and press. Had it been a prerequisite that an amendment to the United States Constitution, or even a statute of a State Legislature should be obtained, the girls would doubtless have had to wait many a weary year.
It is not long since another church dignitary, Dr. Morgan Dix, objected to the entrance of girls into universities, because it was not "proper for young women to be exposed to the gaze of young men, many of whom were less bent upon learning than upon amusement."
However little she may realize it, every girl who rides her steel horse is a vivid illustration of one of the greatest waves of progress of this century, the advancement of women in freedom and opportunity.
A wise physician once said that the opinion that a good woman should stay closely at home had killed more women than any other one cause. In the days of our grandmothers the suggestion of regular gymnastic training or athletics for girls would have been received with horror. It was hardly proper for a woman to have any knowledge of the construction of her physical system.
It is a curious historical fact that the first women lecturers upon physiology were women's rights women, and viewed by the majority of people as dangerous to female modesty, while the Ladies' Physiological Institute in Boston was at first much disapproved of by the clergy. So long, too, as old-fashioned "stays" (laced up sometimes by the aid of equally old-fashioned bed-posts) remained in vogue, neither physiology nor athletics stood much chance with women.
But the often derided dress reformer has had her way, to a great extent. Bathing dresses, gymnastic and tennis suits which would have frightened an eighteenth century dame into one of her favorite fainting fits.
Meanwhile the girls have mounted their bicycles. Bless you, my children; what endless vistas of good times are before you! What glorious landscape views and ocean moonrises, what freedom, what fresh, airy delight in young life and strength!
Already one young doctor has departed with his bride on a wedding tour to Texas, each upon a bicycle. Other strange affairs will no doubt take place. By and by the bishops will see no more irreverence in bidding Godspeed to girls starting on a journey to California upon bicycles than to girls departing to Europe on a steamship.
Another encouraging sign of the times is the increasing demand on the great and fashionable house of Liberty & Co., of London, for the Greek and other simple costumes by fashionable ladies, who are using them largely for home wear. I have reproduced two recent styles of dresses made by Liberty. All fabrics used are rich, soft, and elegant, and the effect is said to be gratifying to lovers of art, as well as far more healthful and comfortable than the conventional dress. The most important fact, however, is the effect or influence which is sure to follow this breaking away from the ruling fashions in wealthy circles. When conventionalism in dress is fully discredited, practical reform is certain to follow. The knell of the one means the triumph of the other.