PHANTASMS OF THE DEAD.
were the victims of any great sorrow or strong emotion of any kind whatever. The influence is felt sometimes for years, and is frequently of such a character and force as to compel the victim to vacate the premises. No ghost is seen or heard, but the influence is felt, and cannot be thrown off. Doubtless many such experiences may be attributed to suggestion, the person having been informed of some tragic event which once happened on the premises. But many cases are recorded which cannot be thus explained. Cases are numerous where the percipient knew nothing whatever of the history of the house or of its former inhabitants.
The phenomenon is explained by spiritists by referring it to the agency of spirits of the dead. Others explain it on the theory of psychometry. That the latter explanation is not the true one is evidenced by the fact that psychometry itself is explicable on the well-known principles of telepathy. That the spirit hypothesis is not the true one is evidenced by the fact that the influence is felt when there has been no death on the premises, when all the former inhabitants of the house are still alive. Nor is the influence necessarily a bad one. Thus, a lady of my acquaintance, who is peculiarly sensitive to psychic impressions, informs me that in one house, which she occupied some years ago, she was seized with an intense longing to study art. She had passed the age at which people usually take up a new profession, and she had never been particularly interested in art. She had no acquaintances who were artists, and there was nothing in her environment specially to attract her attention to the subject. Nevertheless, her desire to become an artist grew stronger and stronger, until she felt forced to yield. She finally employed a teacher, and eventually became very proficient. It was afterwards ascertained that the tenant who occupied the house before she took possession was an enthusiastic devotee of art. He was not a particularly good artist, but his whole soul was bound up in his profession.
The same lady occupied a house some years later which