I propose to take the spiritual idea as it is commonly held, even if the difficulties appear to be insurmountable, and to see what are its obligations, what it ought to be if the present ideas of it are in any way correct.
We will begin with the obligations of the spectre or the ghost theory: If anyone says that he has seen a ghost, he means that to has seen an image with a certain amount of solidity of shape and colour both in features and dress, either moving about and speaking, or simply gesticulating in various ways, and then disappearing.
This means that a spirit, which is a replica of a former object, can assume a solidity or can condense itself so as to be capable of exciting vision, and can then re-vaporise and disappear.
If a spirit can do this, it must be capable of again becoming material, and if it is able to move and speak it must be living material, however attenuated its form may be.
Inasmuch as it appears at one time in one guise and at another in a different one — but all as visitations relating to the same recognised individuals — it follows that there must be a spiritual form corresponding to every phase of actual life, and that the selection of a particular presentation must be a result of deliberate change.
Now the change from one form into another means that the spiritual condition must to some amount expend itself in assuming the material shape, the two cannot exist together in the same intensity as when they were separate and disassociated, so that the necessary assumption is that when the ghosts of an individual appears the spirit of the individual is replaced by it.
But if the spectre is clothed, how does this happen?
Clothes, we know, are things of short duration, and in most instances, as in the Hampton Court Ghost Lady, they must have been torn up or have rotted into dust and been scattered years ago!
Have the clothes then a spiritual life (it would seem that the Hylozoists would say so), or does the spirit of the lady possess the power of gathering together the scattered dust of courtly confections and reinhabiting them, or out of the millions of phases of actual life which we have already hinted as one of the necessities of the spiritual hypothesis was one so favourite a habitation that it is especially selected for actual rehabilitation, though the materials for this have long since been destroyed?
Take another instance, that of the revivification of a skeleton which is supposed to reappear with all the accompaniments of movement, and which is stated to be a return of the spirit of the original men.
If it could be proved that when the spectral bones appeared the actual skeleton was not to be found where it was known to lie, and that on the disappearance of the visitation the remains were again in loco quo ante, there might be ground for the belief that a temporary resurrection had occurred, but such an alternation never has been proved.