Whether science turns its glass out into the immensities of space,
or in toward the equally fathomless abysses of the minute, there seems
no bounds to the possibilities of discovery regarding the processes of
nature. Yet each and every pathway leads at least to impenetrable
What use to know of the ultimate molecule and atom, if we are never
to learn what endows it with life. What is life? What is death? What is
pain? What is color? Perfume? What is there in a minor chord to make
one weep? Thousands of hungry eyes are peering into the dark in search
of clues to these encircling mysteries. But a little rift has appeared
in the veil, through which some think they can see a great and
illuminating truth. This truth is called sympathetic vibration.
A new era dawned, we passed under a new scientific dispensation
when heat and light were pronounced simply modes of motion, and when
the hitherto solid earth was found to be only seemingly so, while in
reality it is a congeries of whirling atoms. Under this new
dispensation the door hiding those two baffling mysteries, matter and
force, begins to yield. The former has surrendered its secrets down to
the ultimate atom, and now we are told that energy, that inscrutable
thing which makes matter its slave and plaything, is simply a mode of
motion in the atom.
The initial impulse is still as remote as ever. We have not yet
discovered on what our tortoise stands. What imparted the first
movement to the atom, may be an ever receding mystery; but an enormous
advance has been made upon the outlying territory. cience has gone one
generation farther back in the pedigree of energy; for the law of sympathetic vibration must be the Law
We are told that what we have known as sound, heat and light are
simply ascending stages of increasing rates of velocity, in atmospheric
or etheric atoms. Between sixteen a second and thirty-eight thousand a
second these vibrations are appreciable by the human ear, and we call
them sound. As the rate of velocity increases these are lost in
silence, and finally reappear to the sense as heat. Then, after they
are further accelerated, the optic nerve begins to tremble at their
approach, and we call them light. Nor can we suppose this to be a final
limit, but must believe that, accelerated to still higher velocity,
they may reach us in some new form, which to mans perception, at least,
is not sound, nor heat, nor yet light, and which, perhaps, we call
But this protean thing, it will be observed, is one and the same
throughout. It is energy, evolved into higher and higher forms, under
the action of the law of vibration. Nor
can we stop here. What right have we to suppose that the stage bounded
by our perception, is final? Much more easy is it to believe that the
process goes on, and forces are developed as far beyond electricity as
electricity is beyond our starting point, sixteen vibrations a second;
and so we are inevitably led to a conception of potential energies
lying all around us, sufficient to hold the stars in their courses, or
to tear them from their orbits.
Thus far we are standing on solid scientific ground. He who doubts
this ascending ladder of energy, arrays himself against so high an
authority as Prof. Tyndall. But we are going to venture soon upon a
region where the footing is not so secure; and perhaps may be properly
rebuked for the folly of attempting to map out the highways and byways
There is an unwritten law that science is for the scientific. This
article is a protest against this law. The writer is speaking for the
unlearned, "of whom she is chief," and she maintains that there can be
no exclusive ownership in established scientific truths; which may, and
should, be used as stepping stones by any one, where they seem to lead
to higher inclusive truths.
The average man of science is intent upon his own particular rung,
and his soul is little vexed with wondering where the ladder leads.
Scientific imagination is not always the companion of the microscope
nor of the crucible. But Newtons discovery would have been a small
affair without the genius to see its cosmical application. So there is
a stage in the unfolding of natural truth when the poet, with his
wings, can do more than the deliver with his pick-axe. He does not
discover, he divines. Shakespeare knew nothing of "vibratory physics,"
nor of "ultra-musical silence;" but two hundred and fifty years ago he
"Theres not the smallest orb, which thou beholdest,
But in its motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim.
Such harmony is in immortal souls.
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close us in, we cannot hear it!
We sometimes wonder at the admirable docility with which the
unlearned accept mystifying explanations. After being told that things
act so and so because they have an "affinity" for each other, they feel
that there is no more to be said. The question is answered. One mystery
has been explained by another. But now we are on the track of this
Every atom behaves as it does because of its essential nature. It
is not helplessly drifting in space, waiting for stray streams of
energy to gather it up and determine its fate. It has an attribute
which compels it to find its own place in creation. It has inherently a
certain rate of vibration, and an impulse to join others constituted
with a like rate of velocity or one numerically allied to it. This
tendency, this sympathetic hunger, is "affinity." Oh, the depth of
meaning in those words, "sympathy" and "affinity!" They are the
world-builders, the creative agents which brought order out of chaos.
For an uncomprehended reason, atoms have arranged themselves
according to their numerical affinities. Those with like velocities of
a certain kind were drawn into close union and became rocks. Others
singing a different rhythm came together in less stable combination,
and are gases. And so down to the minutest classification of matter,
all has been arranged by the compelling law of sympathetic vibration.
It is a well-known fact that when a musical note is sounded over a
piano, all the strings attuned to the same, or to a numerically related
number of vibrations, will sing in response. This is "sympathetic
The reason the string gives audible response is because its
molecular condition has been sympathetically stimulated to activity.
This activity is of course a manifestation of energy, and according to
Mr. Lascelles-Scott (Physicist at the Government Laboratories, at
Forest-Gate near London,) and other competent observers, this energy is
often sufficient to tear the atoms apart; as illustrated by the
breaking of a glass tankard by singing near it its "response note,"
which was in this instance the bass note D flat, which is not far from
the lowest audible form of musical energy.
Now if in some of its lowest appreciable forms energy thus
sympathetically evolved will break a glass tankard, or "fiddle a bridge
down," what must be the force which might be sympathetically awakened
in its higher rates of velocity?
Professor Tyndall says- "With a few vibrations a second sound is
generated. When more numerous, you may have light, heat and
electricity. Again multiplying these by the square of millions, who can
say what might, or might not, be the result?" Now we are compelled to
believe that every step of acceleration from sixteen vibrations a
second to the velocities attained when "multiplied by the square of
millions" (as Professor Tyndall says), that every step of this steeply
ascending increase is capable of being acted upon sympathetically, if
the response note could be found.
Is there any limit to the energies thus slumbering in the apparent
void? Whether Mr. Keely has captured them or not, these streams of
potential energy are a reality, and might be liberated by just the
means he is using.
But of one thing there can be no slightest doubt. As man has risen
to higher stages of development he has appropriated progressively
higher stages of energy. There was a period when stored sunshine
(light) was sufficient for his material uses. Then heat was harnessed
and drove his engines, his wheels and spindles. Then he reached higher
and captured electricity, which was found to be no less obedient and
vastly more effective. Who dare say this is the end? It was after
drawing upon the resources of the invisible, that such enormous impulse
came into the life of humanity; and the farther we have gone into that
supersensible creation, the swifter has been the advance!
It will be seen that as we pass through these ascending grades of
energy, its manifestations become more subtle. Increase of power means
a corresponding increase of subtlety. The waves of light and heat must
be like the heavy beatings of the surf, and the motions of electricity
gross and sluggish, compared with the rhythm of those ethereal
vibrations which could only be wielded by Omnipotence! And is it not
obvious that the agent which sympathetically reaches these, must become
correspondingly fine? Is thought such an agent?
If a single tone of the human voice be the initial stage of an
energy so inconceivable, what, on the other hand, does that voice
become when attenuated "by the square of millions?" Does this measure
the distance between an audible human cry and the thought which
produces it? Is "the hearts sincere desire," the note attuned to those
energies whose subtlety, as well as velocity, has been "multiplied by
the square of millions?"
The mind cannot go back or stop on such a journey. It, is compelled
to go on and on until it reaches something with sufficient potency to
tear the stars from their orbits, and yet so attenuated that it
trembles responsively to something as light as thought. If this be not
"spiritual energy," it bears a strange resemblance to it!
Have we by inevitable steps reached the verge of that kingdom we
have been accustomed to regard as separate and distinct? If so, matter
is lifted from its long abasement. The pulsations in the heart of
granite are the throbbings of the Divine, as truly as when it makes the
soul of man tremble with new life. And what wonder that music thrills,
if it be a manifestation different in degree, but identical in kind,
with the spiritual energy which nourishes the universe?
If the phenomena of matter and of spirit are controlled by the same
force, only in different degrees of development, then reasonable cause
and effect take the place of magic and of mystery.
If it be true that spiritual atoms, no less than material ones, are
arranging themselves according to their velocities, then every
relation, human and divine, is comprehensible. If this law underlies
both worlds, then those spiritual atoms numerically and rhythmically
allied have an "affinity" for each other; they rush together in
irresistible embrace; and there is a scientific basis for human
affections, for conduct, and for prayer!
Race affinities exist because of a general rhythmic identity.
Individual temperament is determined by the rate at which the spiritual
atoms of the man move -- making, as it were, a musical-key to which his
being is set. Observe that when you sing a C note over the piano, not
alone the C strings, but E, G and B vibrate responsively, because
harmoniously related. So two beings who love each other may make a
richer harmony for not having identically the same rhythm in their
souls. But on the other hand, union with one outside this harmonious
group is impossible. Discord is a violation of nature. Two notes
inharmoniously related can never combine. They may be simultaneously
sounded; but they do not blend. Discord is in its essence a destructive
force. Unhappy marriages, in fact one-half the tragedies of human life,
find their solution in the laws which govern music; and the language of
metaphor is profoundly and scientifically true.
The unfolding soul invites to itself vibrations constructive and
destructive, and grows by what it feeds upon toward heaven or hell;
harmonious vibrations making for the one, and discordant ones for the
other. If, as is probable, these velocities have a tendency to be
accelerated in multiples of the same rate, we can see how the wretched
being is sometimes lost in the vortex of a terrible rhythm, only to be
rescued by that one flawless rhythm left by Christ upon earth.
Does this sound fantastic? Will it be worse than fantastic,
prosaic, to say that every human impulse is in its last analysis a
mathematical fact? That love, hate and all their diverse manifestations
might be expressed by mathematical formula? A mathematical basis for
spiritual phenomena sounds uninteresting. But to the soul that
comprehends it, it is sublime. Mathematical conceptions are the only
ones which do not vanish in the analysis of an illusive, elusive,
creation. The multiplication table would survive the wreck of worlds
and of matter!
The magnitudes of time and space-- what are they? Nothing but modes
of thought depending upon a point of view. They exist only relatively
to your perception. The "solidity" of matter is a fiction. Were you
created on a different scale you might gaze through the intermolecular
spaces of granite, and see its whirling atoms as constellations in your
heaven of ether!
We look out upon the world through a refracting, twisting,
distorting medium, so that nothing is what it seems, and were it not
for mathematical relations, we should be in a universe of dissolving
dreams. But they are everlastingly true. They are the rock-ribbed
realities which hold together the shifting, vanishing phenomena of
existence. Change your point of view as you may, they are undisturbed.
A truth which has for its mission the upholding of all other
truths, has need to be well buttressed and strengthened; and the rocks
which bear the Andes on their bosom are not more immovable than the
mathematics upon which rests the law of sympathetic vibration.
If there be such scientific basis for human phenomena, then
metaphysics and psychology, with their intricacies and complexities
expressed in an involved terminology, are artificially contrived
systems, and what wonder that they are bewildering, and the despair of
The human mind is perfectly capable of mastering an artificial
system expressed through arbitrary symbols. It has been doing it for
ages. (Alas!) But with what result? A few of the initiated know the
system, and its terminologies; but neither they, nor any one else, has
a vital grip upon the subject. But can a subject be made
comprehensible, when its most essential truth is veiled? And what
wonder there is confusion existing in mens minds regarding the most
vital things? The following definitions of Religion are quoted in Kidds
"Social Evolution." We select them at random. Comte, "The worship of
humanity." Hegel, "The knowledge acquired by the finite spirit of, its
essence as an absolute spirit." Huxley, "Reverence and love for the
ethical ideal." Matthew Arnold, "Morality touched by emotion."
These definitions are by men who are masters of thought and of
expression, and offer, presumably. the best the world has to say on the
subject. Are they convincing ?-- satisfying? Would any one know that
any two of them were intended to define the same thing?
Hear now the definition of religion if sympathetic vibration be a
fundamental law. Religion is an expression of a universal impulse,
which draws the human heart into rhythmic unity with the Divine heart.
How simple - how true. It is the unconscious utterance of the
unlettered in all ages; and of poets, from King David to Tennyson; and
at the same time a precise scientific statement, which is - to
Omniscience at least - capable of mathematical demonstration.
But how can there be a satisfying definition if the fact underlying
all other facts be not considered ?- i.e., that there are precise
definite atomic changes in spiritual experiences no less real, for
having vanished into a region infinitely subtle, than if transposed to
the lower key of sound, heat and light, or to the still lower condition
of the visible and ponderable.
Men have discovered a great progressive movement in all organic
things which they have called "Evolution." We see it as an imposing
mysterious thing moving with awful sincerity on grand lines. But if the
source of energy lies in the atom, its beginnings are infinitely small.
It is the aggregate of a minute atomic hunger for unity with the
Divine. That is the sublime consummation toward which all creation
moves; and evolution is a religious impulse! Nature is thinking of the
atom - not the mass. All earthly systems which sacrifice the atom are
foredoomed, because the great mother knows no great and no small, but
only a stern necessity for an adaptation, precise and true, to the
Eternal rhythm, which, in the evolutionary process, means an infinite
progression, while its absence means disintegration and elimination.
Science might have looked forever in vain through the telescope.
Not till it turned its vision - in toward the invisible - the
supersensible - did any true comprehension come of creative and cosmic
realities. And the deeper it penetrates into this region, the stronger
does it feel the throbbing of the Divine heart. Its own path is leading
it, whether it will or no, where it must some day find itself face to
face with Deity.
Two lines started in certain directions from given points in the
earths orbit, must meet at a certain point millions of miles away. You
have never been there to see it. But you know it. It is a necessity of
thought to believe it. And so, certain truths compel the existence of
certain other truths. The mind cannot escape them.
Just such compelling power is in the law of sympathetic vibration.
Once started on its ascending ladder, it is impossible to stop, until
we find ourselves confronted with energies inconceivably great and
inconceivably fine. Surely it is not venturesome to leap the little
chasm of uncertainly and call these "spiritual energies," nor to
believe that they by their sympathetic action may be the basis of all
the phenomena of the life of the soul.
There is something new and strange in the air. A new element in the
spiritual as well as the material atmosphere. Men are vaguely conscious
of an impending crisis in the life of humanity. Is this because we have
reached the confines of the old, and are entering, upon anew
dispensation of force, one which will enter into the processes of life
in a manner more vital even than electricity has done?
However this may be, if the trend of progress is to be in the
future the same as it has been in the past, it is mans inevitable
destiny to grasp and appropriate higher and higher conditions of an
energy which at each remove becomes more spiritualized in its
expression. Whether this in fact merges at last into the "spiritual
energy " which is the life of the soul, is a question this article is
intended to ask - not to answer. [END]