Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Boreham on Coincidence (6)

This is the sixth in a series by F W Boreham from his essay The Long Arm of Coincidence, soon to be included in the forthcoming book, The Best Essays of F W Boreham. After describing several coincidences from different chapters of his life he gives some reflections before he describes a few more:

Confronted by Mystery
Any person who cares to ransack the pigeon-holes of their memory will find a wealthy hoard of such recollections stowed away there. They teach us charity. For, obviously, it does not follow, because several circumstances happen to point steadily in one direction, that the conclusion suggested by their unanimity is necessarily established. What seems like corroboration may be pure coincidence. And surely they make faith less difficult. For if, among the ordinary odds and ends of life, we find ourselves confronted by situations so remarkable as to be almost incredible, it is by no means surprising that, in a more august and mysterious realm, we sometimes find ourselves out of our depth.

More than Mere Coincidence
I turn from these coincidences, which are pure coincidences, to those remarkable happenings, familiar to us all, beneath the surface of which we seem to sense something that is more than mere coincidence. How often, in walking down the street, you find your thoughts suddenly and irresistibly reverting to the memory of a friend whom you have not seen for months, perhaps for years. Within five minutes you turn a corner and meet him face to face! It is easy to wave such incidents aside with an airy reference to telepathy. That blessed word `telepathy' is a hot rival to that blessed word `Mesopotamia'. What is telepathy?

And then again, the confident conclusions of the spiritualists can only be met by a frank recognition of the fact that, behind the forces that Science has investigated and classified, there are other forces, shadowy and elusive, that, so far, we have only vaguely sensed.

More than We Can Dream
I am intimate with a family—devoutly Christian and by no means superstitious—in whose home a thing occurred one evening that set every member of the household thinking of a very dear relative on the other side of the world. At the very hour of that singular happening, that relative died. Since scores of people die in England every day to whose kinsfolk in Australia no such mysterious intimation is vouchsafed, the episode was evidently the operation of no fixed law. It proves nothing. Yet the comparative frequency of such enigmatical incidents makes us feel with Hamlet that:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

These evasive and abstruse events must be numbered among life's strange and striking coincidences; and yet they leave behind them an impression that, woven into the very texture of their being, there is something that lifts them above the level of mere coincidences.

(To be continued)

Source: F W Boreham, ‘The Long Arm of Coincidence’, I Forgot to Say (London: The Epworth Press, 1939), 87-96.

Image: Frank Boreham