Many people have had "peculiar experiences" that are accountable only
upon the hypothesis of Metempsychosis. Who has not experienced the
consciousness of having _felt the thing before_--_having thought it
some time in the dim past? Who has not witnessed new scenes that appear
old, very old?
Who has not met persons for the first time, whose
presence awakened memories of a past lying far back in the misty ages
of long ago? Who has not been seized at times with the consciousness of
a mighty "oldness" of soul? Who has not heard music, often entirely new
compositions, which somehow awakens memories of similar strains,
scenes, places, faces, voices, lands, associations and events, sounding
dimly on the strings of memory as the breezes of the harmony floats
Who has not gazed at some old painting, or piece of
statuary, with the sense of having seen it all before? Who has not
lived through events, which brought with them a certainty of being
merely a repetition of some shadowy occurrences away back in lives
lived long ago? Who has not felt the influence of the mountain, the
sea, the desert, coming to them when they are far from such
scenes--coming so vividly as to cause the actual scene of the present
to fade into comparative unreality.
Who has not had these experiences--we ask_?
Writers, poets, and others who carry messages to the world, have
testified to these things--and nearly every man or woman who hears the
message recognizes it as something having correspondence in his or her
Sir Walter Scott tells us in his diary: "I cannot, I am sure,
tell if it is worth marking down, that yesterday, at dinner time, I was
strangely haunted by what I would call the sense of preexistence, viz.,
a confused idea that nothing that passed was said for the first time;
that the same topics had been discussed and the same persons had stated
the same opinions on them. The sensation was so strong as to resemble
what is called the mirage in the desert and a calenture on board ship."
The same writer, in one of his novels, "Guy Mannering," makes one of
his characters say: "Why is it that some scenes awaken thoughts which
belong as it were, to dreams of early and shadowy recollections, such
as old Brahmin moonshine would have ascribed to a state of previous
How often do we find ourselves in society which we have
never before met, and yet feel impressed with a mysterious and
ill-defined consciousness that neither the scene nor the speakers nor
the subject are entirely new; nay, feel as if we could anticipate that
part of the conversation which has not yet taken place."
Bulwer speaks of "that strange kind of inner and spiritual memory which
so often recalls to us places and persons we have never seen before,
and which Platonists would resolve to be the unquenched consciousness
of a former life."
And again, he says: "How strange is it that at times
a feeling comes over us as we gaze upon certain places, which
associates the scene either with some dim remembered and dreamlike
images of the Past, or with a prophetic and fearful omen of the Future.
Every one has known a similar strange and indistinct feeling at certain
times and places, and with a similar inability to trace the cause." Poe
has written these words on the subject: "We walk about, amid the
destinies of our world existence, accompanied by dim but ever present
memories of a Destiny more vast--very distant in the bygone time and
infinitely awful. We live out a youth peculiarly haunted by such
dreams, yet never mistaking them for dreams. As memories we know them.
During our youth the distinctness is too clear to deceive us even for a
moment. But the doubt of manhood dispels these feelings as illusions."
Home relates an interesting incident in his life, which had a marked
effect upon his beliefs, thereafter. He relates that upon an occasion
when he visited a strange house in London he was shown into a room to
He says: "On looking around, to my astonishment everything
appeared perfectly familiar to me. I seemed to recognize every object.
I said to myself, 'What is this? I have never been here before, and yet
I have seen all this, and if so, then there must be a very peculiar
knot in that shutter.'" He proceeded to examine the shutter, and much
to his amazement the knot was there.
We have recently heard of a similar case, told by an old lady who
formerly lived in the far West of the United States. She states that
upon one occasion a party was wandering on the desert in her part of
the country, and found themselves out of water. As that part of the
desert was unfamiliar even to the guides, the prospect for water looked
very poor indeed. After a fruitless search of several hours, one of the
party, a perfect stranger to that part of the country, suddenly pressed
his hand to his head, and acted in a dazed manner, crying out "I know
that a water-hole is over to the right--this way," and away he started
with the party after him. After a half-hour's journey they reached an
old hidden water-hole that was unknown even to the oldest man in the
The stranger said that he did not understand the matter, but
that he had somehow experienced a sensation of _having been there
before_, and knowing just where the water-hole was located.
An old Indian who was questioned about the matter, afterward, stated that the
place had been well known to his people who formerly travelled much on
that part of the desert; and that they had legends relating to the
"hidden water-hole," running back for many generations. In this case,
it was remarked that the water-hole was situated in such a peculiar and
unusual manner, as to render it almost undiscoverable even to people
familiar with the characteristics of that part of the country.
The old lady who related the story, had it direct from the lips of one of the
party, who regarded it as "something queer," but who had never even
heard of Metempsychosis.