By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Metapsychical Phenomena - Methods and Observations
Author: Maxwell, James Clerk
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Metapsychical Phenomena - Methods and Observations" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


_All rights reserved_



  _Doctor of Medicine
  Deputy-Attorney-General at the Court of Appeal, Bordeaux, France_


  _Member of the Academy of Medicine
  Professor of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine, Paris_


  _Also with a New Chapter containing_



The Translator has to thank sincerely a literary friend, a well-known
English clergyman, who has been kind enough to revise the translation,
and suggest many improvements.


Asked by my friends in France to introduce the author, Dr. Maxwell,
to English readers, I willingly consented, for I have reason to know
that he is an earnest and indefatigable student of the phenomena
for the investigation of which the Society for Psychical Research
was constituted; and not only an earnest student, but a sane and
competent observer, with rather special qualifications for the
task. A gentleman of independent means, trained and practising as a
lawyer at Bordeaux, Deputy Attorney-General, in fact, at the Court
of Appeal, he supplemented his legal training by going through a
full six years’ medical curriculum, and graduated M.D. in order to
pursue psycho-physiological studies with more freedom, and to be
able to form a sounder and more instructed judgment on the strange
phenomena which came under his notice. Moreover, he was fortunate in
enlisting the services of one who appears to be singularly gifted in
the supernormal direction, an educated and interested friend, who is
anxious to preserve his anonymity, but is otherwise willing to give
every assistance in his power towards the production and elucidation of
the unusual things which occur in his presence and apparently through
his agency.

In all this they have been powerfully assisted by Professor Charles
Richet, the distinguished physiologist of Paris, whose name and fame
are almost as well known in this country as in his own, and who gave
the special evening lecture to the British Association on the occasion
of its semi-international meeting at Dover in 1899.

In France it so happens that these problems have been attacked chiefly
by biologists and medical men, whereas in this country they have
attracted the attention chiefly, though not exclusively, of physicists
and chemists among men of science. This gives a desirable diversity
to the point of view, and adds to the value of the work of the French
investigators. Another advantage they possess is that they have no
_arrière-pensée_ towards religion or the spiritual world. Frankly, I
expect they would confess themselves materialists, and would disclaim
all sympathy with the view of a number of enthusiasts in this country,
who have sought to make these ill-understood facts the basis for a kind
of religious cult in which faith is regarded as more important than
knowledge, and who contemn the attitude of scientific men, even of
those few who really seek to observe and understand the phenomena.

From Dr. Maxwell’s observations, so far, there arises no theory which
he feels to be in the least satisfactory: the facts are recorded as
observed, and though theoretical comments are sometimes attempted
in the text, they are admittedly tentative and inadequate: we know
nothing at present which will suffice to weld the whole together into
a comprehensive and comprehensible scheme. But for the theoretical
discussion of such phenomena the work of Mr. Myers on Human Personality
is of course far more thorough and ambitious than the semi-popular
treatment in the present book. And in the matter of history also, the
English reader, familiar with the writings of Mr. Andrew Lang and Mr.
Podmore, will not attribute much importance to the few historical
remarks of the present writer. He claims consideration as an observer
of exceptional ability and scrupulous fairness, and his work is
regarded with the greatest interest by workers in this field throughout
the world.

There is one thing which Dr. Maxwell does not do. He does not record
his facts according to the standard set up by the Society for Psychical
Research in this country: that is to say, he does not give a minute
account of all the details, nor does he relate the precautions taken,
nor seek to convince hostile critics that he has overlooked no
possibility, and made no mistakes. Discouraged by previous attempts and
failures in this direction, he has regarded the task as impossible, and
has not attempted it. He has satisfied himself with three things:—

  1st. To train himself long and carefully as an observer;

  2nd. To learn from, and be guided by, the phenomena as they occur,
        without seeking unduly to coerce them;

  3rd. To give a general account of the impression made upon him by
        the facts as they appeared.

For the rest, he professes himself indifferent whether his assertions
meet with credence or not. He has done his best to test the phenomena
for himself, regarding them critically, and not at all in a spirit of
credulity; and he has endangered his reputation by undertaking what
he regards as a plain duty, that of setting down under his own name,
for the world to accept or reject as it pleases, a statement of the
experiences to which he has devoted so much time and attention, and of
the actuality of which, though he in no way professes to understand
them, he is profoundly convinced.

Equally convinced of their occurrence is Professor Richet, who has
had an opportunity of observing many of them, and he too regards them
from the same untheoretical and empirical point of view; but he has
explained his own attitude in a Preface to the French edition, as Dr.
Maxwell has explained his in ‘Preliminary Remarks,’—both of which are
here translated—so there is no need to say more; beyond this:—

The particular series of occurrences detailed in these pages I myself
have not witnessed. I may take an opportunity of seeing them before
long; but though that will increase my experience, it will not increase
my conviction that things like some of these can and do occur, and that
any other patient explorer who had the same advantages and similar
opportunity for observation, would undergo the same sort of experience,
that is to say, would receive the same sensory impressions, however he
might choose to interpret them.

That is what the scientific world has gradually to grow accustomed
to. These things happen under certain conditions, in the same sense
that more familiar things happen under ordinary conditions. What the
conditions are that determine the happening is for future theory to say.

Dr. Maxwell is convinced that such things can happen without anything
that can with any propriety whatever be called fraud; sometimes under
conditions so favourable for observation as to preclude the possibility
of deception of any kind. Some of them, as we know well, do also
frequently happen under fraudulent and semi-fraudulent conditions; but
those who take the easy line of assuming that hyper-ingenious fraud
and extravagant self-deception are sufficient to account for the whole
of the facts, will ultimately, I think, find themselves to have been
deceived by their own _a priori_ convictions. Nevertheless we may agree
that at present the Territory under exploration is not yet a scientific
State. We are in the pre-Newtonian, possibly the pre-Copernican, age
of this nascent science; and it is our duty to accumulate facts and
carefully record them, for a future Kepler to brood over.

What may be likened to the ‘Ptolemaic’ view of the phenomena seems
on the whole to be favoured by the French observers, viz. that they
all centre round living man, and represent an unexpected extension
of human faculty, an extension, as it were, of the motor and sensory
power of the body beyond its apparent boundary. That is undoubtedly the
first adit to be explored, and it may turn out to lead us in the right
direction; but it is premature even to guess what will be the ultimate
outcome of this extra branch of psychological and physiological study.
That sensory perception can extend to things out of contact with the
body is familiar enough, though it has not been recognised for the
senses of touch or taste. That motor activity should also extend into
a region beyond the customary range of muscular action is, as yet,
unrecognised by science. Nevertheless that is the appearance.

The phenomena which have most attracted the attention and maintained
the interest of the French observers, have been just those which
convey the above impression: that is to say, mechanical movements
without contact, production of intelligent noises, and either
visible, tangible, or luminous appearances which do not seem to be
hallucinatory. These constantly-asserted, and in a sense well-known,
and to some few people almost familiar, experiences, have with us been
usually spoken of as ‘physical or psycho-physical phenomena.’ In France
they have been called ‘psychical phenomena,’ but that name is evidently
not satisfactory, since that should apply to purely mental experiences.
To call them ‘occult phenomena’ is not distinctive, for everything
is occult until it is explained; and the business of science is to
contemplate the mixed mass of heterogeneous appearances, such as at
one time formed all that was known of Chemistry, for instance, or
Electricity, and evolve from them an ordered scheme of science.

To emphasise the fact that these occurrences are at present beyond the
scheme of orthodox psychology or psycho-physiology, in somewhat the
same way as the germ of what we now call Metaphysics was once placed
after, or considered as extra to, the course of orthodox Natural
Philosophy or Physics, Professor Richet has suggested that they be
styled ‘meta-psychical phenomena,’ and that the nascent branch of
science, which he and other pioneers are endeavouring to found, be
called for the present ‘Metapsychics.’ Dr. Maxwell concurs in this
comparatively novel term, and as there seems no serious objection to
it, the English version of Dr. Maxwell’s record will appear under this

The book will be found for the most part eminently readable—rather
an unusual circumstance for a record of this kind—and the scrupulous
fairness with which the author has related everything he can think of
which tells against the genuineness of the phenomena, is highly to be
commended. Whatever may be thought of the evidence it is manifestly his
earnest wish never to make it appear to others better than it appears
to himself.

If critics attack the book, as they undoubtedly will, with the
objection that though it may contain a mass of well-attested assertions
by a competent and careful observer, yet his observations are set
down without the necessary details on which an outside critic can
judge how far the things really happened, and how far the observer was
deceived—let it be remembered that this is admitted. Dr. Maxwell’s
defence is, that to give such details as will satisfy a hostile critic
who was not actually present is impossible—in that I am disposed to
agree with him—he has therefore not attempted the task; and I admit,
though I cannot commend, his discretion.

It may be said that the attempt to give every detail necessarily
produces a dreary and overburdened narrative. So it does. Nevertheless
I must urge—as both in accordance with my own judgment of what is
fitting, and in loyalty to the high standard of evidence, and the more
stringent rules of testimony, inaugurated by the wise founders of the
Society for Psychical Research—that observers should always make an
effort to record precisely every detail of the circumstances of some at
least of these elusive and rare phenomena; so as to assist in enabling
a fair judgment to be formed by people who are not too inexperienced
in the conditions attending this class of observation, and at any rate
to add to the clearness of their apprehension of the events recorded.
The opportunities for research are not yet ended, however, and I may
be allowed to express a hope that in the future something of this kind
will yet be done, when the occasion is favourable, after a study of
such a record as that of the Sidgwick-Hodgson-Davy experiments in the
_Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, vol. iv. Our
gratitude to Dr. Maxwell would thus be still further increased.

And now, finally, I must not be understood as making myself responsible
for the contents of the book, nor for the interjected remarks, nor
for the translation. The author and translator must bear their own
responsibility. My share in the work is limited to expressing my
confidence in the good faith of Dr. Maxwell—in his impartiality
and competence,—and while congratulating him on the favourable
opportunities for investigation which have fallen to his lot, to
thank him, on behalf of English investigators, for the single-minded
pertinacity and strenuous devotion with which he has pursued this
difficult and still nebulous quest.



There are books in which the author says so clearly and in such precise
terms what he has to say that any commentary weakens their import; and
a preface becomes superfluous, sometimes even prejudicial.

Dr. Maxwell’s work belongs to this category. The author, who has long
given himself up to psychology, has had the opportunity of seeing many
interesting things. He has observed everything with minute care; and
having well thought out the method of observation, the consequences,
and the nature itself of the phenomena, he lays bare his facts and
deducts therefrom a few simple ideas, fearlessly, honestly, _sine ira
nec studio_, before a public which he hopes to find impartial.

To this same public I address the short introduction, with which my
friend Dr. Maxwell kindly asked me to head this excellent work.

My advice to the reader may be summed up in a few words. He must take
up this book without prejudice. He must fear neither that which is new,
nor that which is unexpected. In other words, while preserving the most
scrupulous respect for the science of to-day, he must be thoroughly
convinced that this science, whatever measure of truth it may contain,
is nevertheless terribly incomplete.

Those imprudent people who busy themselves with ‘occult’ sciences are
accused of overthrowing Science, of destroying that bulwark which
thousands of toilers, at the cost of an immense universal effort, have
been occupied in constructing during the last three or four centuries.

This reproach seems to me rather unjust. No one is able to destroy a
scientific _fact_.

An electric current decomposes water into one volume of oxygen and two
of hydrogen. This is a fact which will be true in the eternal future,
just as it has been true in the eternal past. Ideas may perhaps change
on what it is expedient to call electric current, oxygen, hydrogen,
etc. It may be discovered that hydrogen is composed of fifty different
bodies, that oxygen is transformed into hydrogen, that the electric
current is a ponderable force or a luminous emission. No matter what
is going to be discovered, we shall never, in any case, prevent what
we call to-day an electric current from transforming, under certain
conditions of combined pressure and temperature, what we call water
into two gases, each having different properties, gases which are
emitted in volumetrical proportions of 2 to 1.

Therefore, there need be no fear, that the invasion of a new science
into the old will upset acquired data, and contradict what has been
established by savants.

Consequently psychical phenomena, however complicated, unforeseen, or
appalling we may now and then imagine them to be, will not subvert any
of those facts which form part of to-day’s classical sciences.

Astronomy and physiology, physics and mathematics, chemistry and
zoology, need not be afraid. They are intangible, and nothing will
injure the imposing assemblage of incontestable facts which constitute

But notions, hitherto unknown, may be introduced, which, without
casting doubts upon pristine truths, may cause new ones to enter their
domain, and change, or even upset, our established notions of things.

The facts may be unforeseen, but they will never be contradictory.

The history of sciences teaches us, that their bulwarks have never been
overthrown by the inroad of a new science.

At one time no notion of tubercular infection existed. We now know
that it is transmitted by microbes. This is a new notion, teeming with
important conclusions, but it does not invalidate the clinical table of
pulmonary phthisis drawn up by physicians of other days. The discovery
of Hertzian waves has in nowise shaken Ampère’s laws. Newton’s and
Fresnel’s optics have not been changed into a tissue of errors because
Rœntgen rays and luminous vibrations are able to penetrate opaque
bodies. It appears that radium can throw out unremittingly, without
any appreciable chemical molecular phenomena, great quantities of
calorific energy; nevertheless, we may be quite sure, that the law of
conservation of energy and thermo-dynamic principles will remain as
true now as ever.

Likewise, if the facts called ‘occult’ become established, as seems
more and more probable, we need not feel anxious as to the fate of
classical science. New and unknown facts, however strange they may be,
will not do away with old established facts.

To take an example from Dr. Maxwell’s work, let us admit that the
phenomenon of _raps_—that is to say, sonorous vibrations in wood or
other substances—is a real phenomenon, and that, in certain cases,
there are sounds which no mechanical force known to us can explain,
would the science of physics be overthrown? It would be a new force
thrown out on to wood, etc., exercising its power on matter, but the
old forces would none the less preserve their activity, and it is even
likely that the transmission of vibrations by means of this new force
would be found to be in obedience to the same laws as those governing
the transmission of other vibrations;—the temperature, the pressure,
the density of air or wood would continue to exercise their usual
influence. There would be nothing new, save the existence of a force
until then unknown.

Now, is there any savant worthy of the name who can affirm, that there
are no forces, hitherto unknown, at work in the world?

However impregnable Science may be when establishing facts, it is
miserably subject to error when claiming to establish negations.

Here is a dilemma, which appears to me to be very conclusive in that
respect:—Either we know all Nature’s forces, or we do not. Now the
first alternative is so ridiculous, that it is really not worth while
refuting it. Our senses are so limited, so imperfect, that the world
slips away from them almost entirely. We may say it is owing to an
accident, that the magnet’s colossal force was discovered, and if
hazard had not placed iron beside the loadstone, we might have always
remained ignorant of the attraction which loadstone exercises upon
iron. Ten years ago no one suspected the existence of the Rœntgen rays.
Before photography, no one knew that light reduces salts of silver.
It is not twenty years since the Hertzian waves were discovered. The
property displayed by amber when rubbed was, until two hundred years
ago, all that was known of that immense force called electricity.

Question a savage—nay a fellah or a moujik—upon the forces of Nature!
He will not know even the tenth part of such forces as elementary
treatises on physics in 1905 will enumerate. It appears to me that the
savants of to-day, in respect to the savants of the future, stand in
the same inferiority as the moujiks to the professors of the college of

Who then dare be so rash as to say that the treatises on physics in
2005 will but repeat what is to be found in the treatises of 1905? The
probability—the certainty, one might say—is that new scientific data
will shortly spring up out of the darkness, and that most powerful and
altogether unknown forces will be revealed. Our great-grandchildren
will be amazed at the blindness of our savants, who tacitly profess the
immobility of science.

If science has made such progress of late, it is precisely because
our predecessors were not afraid to make bold hypotheses, to suppose
new forces, demonstrating their reality by dint of patience and
perseverance. Our strict duty is to do likewise. The savant should be
a revolutionist, and fortunately the time is over when truth had to be
sought in a master’s book—_magister dixit_—be he Aristotle or Plato.
In politics we may be conservative or progressive; it is a question of
temperament. But when the research of truth is concerned we must be
resolutely and unreservedly revolutionary, and must consider classical
theories—even those which appear to be the most solid—as temporary
hypotheses, which we must incessantly check and incessantly strive to
overthrow. The Chinese believed that science had been fixed by their
ancestors’ sapience; this example contains food for meditation.

Moreover—and why not proclaim it loudly—all that science of which we
are so proud, is only knowledge of appearances. The real nature of
things baffles us. The innermost nature of laws governing matter,
whether living or inert, is inaccessible to our intelligence. A stone
tossed up into the air falls back again to the earth. Why? Newton
says through attraction proportional to bulk and distance. But this
law is only the statement of a fact; who understands that attractive
vibration, which makes the stone fall? The fall of a stone is such a
commonplace phenomenon, that it does not astonish us: but in reality
no human intelligence has ever understood it. It is usual, common,
accepted; but like all Nature’s phenomena without exception it is _not
understood_. After fecundation an egg becomes an embryon; we describe
as well as we can the phases of this phenomenon; but, in spite of
the most minute descriptions, have we understood the evolution of
that cellular protoplasm, which is transformed into a huge, living
being? What prodigy is at work in these segmentations? Why do these
granulations crowd together there? Why do they decay here to form again

We live in the midst of phenomena and have no adequate knowledge of any
one of them. Even the simplest phenomenon is most mysterious. What does
the combination of hydrogen with oxygen mean? Who has even once been
thoroughly able to understand that word _combination_, annihilation
of the properties of two bodies by the creation of a third body
differing from the two first. How are we to understand that an atom is
indivisible; it is constituted of a particle of matter, yet—even in
thought—it cannot be divided!

Therefore it behoves the true savant to be very modest, yet very bold
at the same time: very modest, for our science is a mere trifle—Ἡ
ἀνθρωπίνη σοφία ὀλίγου τινος ἄξιά ἐστι, καί οὐδενός—very bold, for
the vast regions of worlds unknown lie open before him.

Audacity and prudence: such are the two qualities, in no wise
contradictory, of Dr. Maxwell’s book.

Whatever be the fate in store for his ideas—ideas based upon facts—we
may rest assured that the facts, which he has well observed, will
remain. I think I see here the lineaments of a new science—though only
a crude sketch so far.

Who knows but that physiology and physics may find herein some precious
elements of knowledge? Woe to the savants who think that the book of
Nature is closed, and that we puny men have nothing more to learn.



  INTRODUCTION BY SIR OLIVER LODGE,                      v


  PRELIMINARY REMARKS,                                   1

    I. METHOD:                                          23
        I. Material Conditions,                         33
       II. Composition of the Circle,                   42
      III. Methods of Operation,                        48
       IV. The Personification,                         64

   II. RAPS,                                            72

  III. PARAKINESIS AND TELEKINESIS:                     93
        I. Parakinesis,                                 93
       II. Telekinesis,                                 98

   IV. LUMINOUS PHENOMENA,                             129

        I. Sensory Automatism,                         181
       II. Crystal Gazing,                             184
      III. Dreams, Telepathy,                          205
       IV. Telæsthesia,                                211
        V. A Complex Case by Professor Richet,         215
       VI. Motor Automatism,                           235
      VII. Automatic Writing,                          238
     VIII. Phonetic and Mixed Automatisms,             251
       IX. The Psychology of Automatism,               255

        By L. I. FINCH,                                268

  VII. FRAUD AND ERROR:                                364
        I. Fraud,                                      364
       II. Error,                                      386

  CONCLUSION,                                          392

  APPENDICES,                                          398


I hesitated for a long time before deciding to publish the impressions
which ten years of psychical research have left me. These impressions
are so uncertain upon several points, that I wondered if it were worth
while expressing in book form the few and sparse conclusions I am
able to formulate. If, finally, I decide to publish my opinions, it
is because it seems incumbent upon me to do so. I am not blind to the
fact that my testimony is of very little importance; but however modest
it may be, it seems to me that it is my duty to offer this testimony,
such as it is, to those who have undertaken to submit to scientific
discipline the study of those phenomena which are, in appearance at
least, so rebellious to such discipline. It might have been more
convenient and advantageous for myself had I continued my researches
in peace and quiet. I do not try to proselytise, and it is really a
matter of indifference to me, whether my contemporaries share or do not
share my views. But the sight of a few brave men fighting the battle
alone is by no means a matter of indifference to me. There is a certain
cowardliness in believing their teachings, whilst allowing them to bear
all the brunt of the fray for upholding opinions, which require so much
courage to champion. To these brave spirits I dedicate my book.

I care naught for public opinion: not that I disdain it—on the
contrary, I have the greatest respect for its judgment—but I am not
addressing the public. The question I am studying is not ripe for the
public; or the case may be the other way about.

I address those brave men of whom I have just spoken, to let them know
I am of their mind, and that _my_ observations confirm theirs on many
points. I also address those who are seeking to establish the reality
of the curious phenomena, treated of in this book. I have tried to fill
a gap by showing them the best methods to adopt, in order to arrive at
appreciable results,—such results being far less difficult to obtain
than is commonly supposed.

A word about the method I have followed. I have purposely refrained
from giving a purely scientific aspect to my book, though I might have
done so had I chosen, for the usual scientific dressing is unsuitable
to the subject in hand. It seemed preferable to relate what I have
seen, leaving it to those for whom I write to believe me or not, as
they think fit.

I might have accumulated not a little testimony and considerable
external evidence, but to have done so would not have been the
means of convincing a single extra reader. Those, whom my simple
affirmation leaves sceptical, would not be convinced by reports signed
by witnesses, whose sincerity and competence are frequently called
into question. Neither did I wish to adopt the method followed by the
Agnélas, Milan, and Carqueiranne experimenters, in giving a detailed
report of all my sittings; this method too has its advantages and
disadvantages. However exhaustive a report may be, it is difficult to
indicate therein all the conditions of the experiment; oversights are
inevitable. Moreover, it would be useless to say that every precaution
had been taken against fraud, for in enumerating such precautions,
the omission of a single one would suffice to expose oneself to most
justifiable criticism. Probably that very precaution was elementary and
had been taken, or was considered useless and put aside deliberately;
nevertheless such circumstances would not escape criticism. We wish to
convince by pointing out the exact conditions of the experiment; but
those, whom we would most wish to convince, are the very persons least
prepared to judge of the conditions in which psychical experiences are
obtained. These are physicists and chemists; but living matter does not
react like inorganic matter or chemical substances.

I do not seek to convince these savants; my book is unassuming and
makes no pretence of having been written for them. If they in their
turn should be tempted to try for those effects which I have obtained,
the methods indicated will be easily accessible to them. It is in this
way they can be indirectly convinced, though to convince them is not my
present aim. Others are better qualified than I am to try their hand at
this most desirable but, for the moment, most difficult task.

Difficult! Ay, and for a thousand reasons. First of all because it is
the fashion of to-day to look upon these facts as unworthy of science.
I acknowledge taking a delicate pleasure in comparing the different
opinions which many young Savants (I beg the printer not to forget
a very big capital S) bring to bear upon their contemporaries. Here
is a man surrounded by deferential spectators: solemnly he hands a
paper-knife to a sleeping hysterical subject, and gravely invites him
to murder such or such an individual who is supposed to be where there
is really only an empty chair. When the patient springs forward to
carry out the suggestion, and strikes the chair with the paper-knife,
the lookers-on behold a scientific fact, according to classical
science. On the other hand, here is another man who, not a whit less
solemnly, makes longitudinal passes upon his subject, puts him to
sleep, and then tries to exteriorise the said subject’s sensibility;
but the onlookers in this case are not recognised as witnessing a
scientific fact! I have never been able to see wherein lies the
difference between these two experimenters, the one experimenting with
an hysterical subject more or less untrustworthy, the other examining a
phenomenon which, if it be true, may be observed without the necessity
of trusting oneself solely to the honesty of the individual asleep.

In fact there is a most intolerant clique among savants. Facts it
seems are of no importance when pointed out by those who stand beyond
the pale of official science. Unfortunately, psychical phenomena
cannot be as easily and readily demonstrated as the X-rays or wireless
telegraphy, incontestable facts which any one can prove to his entire
satisfaction. Therefore young savants rejoice in making an onslaught on
those who apply themselves to the study of these phenomena. It was the
same thing in olden times when budding theologians made their _débuts_
in the arena of theology against notorious arch-heretics, Arians,
Manicheans, or gnostics. _Nil novi sub sole._

       *       *       *       *       *

I readily admit that many, who turn their attention to the curious
phenomena of which I am going to speak, frequently lay themselves
open to criticism. Sometimes they are not very strict concerning the
conditions under which their experiments are conducted: they trust
naïvely, and their conviction is quickly formed. I cannot too forcibly
beg them to be on their guard against premature assertions: may they
avoid justifying Montaigne’s saying, ‘L’imagination crée le cas.’ My
remark is more particularly addressed to occult, theosophical, and
spiritistic groups. The first-named follow an undesirable method.
Their manner of reasoning is not likely to bring them many adepts,
from among those who are given to thinking deeply. In ordinary logic,
analogy and correspondence have not the same importance as deduction
and induction. On the other hand it does not seem to me prudent to
consider the esoteric interpretation of the Hebrew writings as being
necessarily truth’s last word. I do not see why I should transfer a
belief in their exoteric assertions to a belief in their talmudistic or
kabbalistic commentaries. I can hardly believe that the Rabbis of the
middle ages, or their predecessors, Esdras’ contemporaries, had a more
correct notion of human nature than we have. Their errors in physics
are not valid security for their accuracy in metaphysics. Truth cannot
be usefully sought in the analysis of a very fine but very old book:
all occult speculations upon secret hebraic exegeses seem to me but
intellectual sport, to the results of which the words of Ecclesiastes
might well be applied: _Habel habalim vekol habel_.

I may pass the same criticism upon theosophists. The curious mystical
movement to which the teachings of Madame Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott,
and Mrs. Besant have given birth in Europe and in America has not yet
been arrested. Many cultured minds and refined intelligences have
allowed themselves to be led away by the neo-buddhistic evangile;
doubtless they find what they look for in the ‘Secret Doctrine’ or
in ‘Isis Unveiled.’ _Trahit sua quemque voluptas._ I cannot help
thinking that the Upanishads have no more a monopoly of truth than
the Bible has, and that every philosophy ought to hold fast to the
study of Nature if it wishes to live and progress. This is, moreover,
the advice of a man whom theosophists and occultists alike respect—I
mean Paracelsus—‘Man is here below to instruct himself in the light of

That is what spiritists claim to do. Their philosophy, to use the
term which they themselves employ to designate their doctrine, is
founded, they say, upon fact and experience. It is not a revelation,
contemporary with the splendour of Thebes or the pomp of Açoka’s
court, which gives the foundation to their dogmas. It is an everyday
revelation, a real, continuous, and permanent revelation. Their ideas
concerning our origin and destiny, their certitude of immortality
and the persistence of human individuality, are due to well-informed
witnesses. These are no less than the spirits of the dead, who come to
enlighten them and to tell them what is done in the hereafter.

I envy them their simple faith, but I do not altogether share it. I
am persuaded that our individuality has an infinitely longer period
given it for its evolution than one human existence. But it is not from
spiritistic seances that I have derived my belief; no, my belief is of
a philosophical kind, and is the result of pondering over what I know
of life, of nature, and of the extremely slow development of the human
species. It is true the knowledge I possess is limited, and my belief
wavers; yet the probabilities seem to me favourable to the persistence
of that mysterious centre of energy which we call individuality.

This opinion, however, has not been derived from spiritistic
communications: I think these have an origin other than that given them
by Allan Kardec’s disciples.

Naturally I am only speaking of my own personal experience; I do
not permit myself to pronounce as erroneous those convictions based
upon facts not seen by myself. Therefore I do not wish to say that
spiritists are always the victims of delusion; I can only say that the
messages, received by me and purporting to come from the other side of
the grave, have seemed to me to emanate from a different source.

At the same time, to be exact and sincere I ought to add that,
if my conviction has not been won, I have observed in one or two
circumstances certain facts which have left me most perplexed.

Unfortunately for spiritism, an objection, which seems to me
irrefutable, can be made to the spirits’ teaching. In all parts of
Europe, the ‘spirits’ vouch for reincarnation. Often they indicate
the moment they are going to reappear in a human body; and they
relate still more readily the past avatars of their followers.
On the contrary, in England the spirits assure us that there is
no reincarnation. The contradiction is formal, positive, and
irreconcilable. Those who are inclined to doubt the correctness of
what I affirm have only to glance through and compare the writings of
English and French spiritists; for example, those of Allan Kardec,
Denys, Delanne, and those of Stainton-Moses. How are we to form an
opinion worthy of acceptance? Who speak the truth? European spirits
or Anglo-Saxon spirits? Probably spiritistic messages do not emanate
from very well-informed witnesses. Such is the conclusion arrived at by
Aksakoff, one of the cleverest and most enlightened of spiritists. He
himself acknowledges that one is never certain of the identity of the
communicating intelligence at a spiritistic sitting.

Although I do not share the views of occultists, theosophists, and
spiritists, I can indeed say that their groups—at least those which I
have frequented—are composed of people worthy, sincere, and convinced.
Occultists and theosophists devote themselves perhaps more particularly
to the development of those mysterious faculties which, according to
them, exist in man, while spiritists are more inclined to call forth
communications from their spirit friends, but the anxious care of one
and all is the moral development of their groups.

Solicitude for the ethical culture of humanity is characteristic of
these mystic groups. Occultism and theosophy draw their recruits
more especially from intellectual centres; the circle of spiritism
is much wider. The simplicity of its teachings and methods attracts
those who shrink before the personal edification of a creed: for it
is a painful undertaking and a heavy task for each individual to
form his own philosophy. It is more convenient to accept indications
which are already made, and to believe affirmations which are—in
appearance—sincere and well informed. Long centuries of religious
discipline have accustomed the human mind to certain acts of faith, and
to shun all free discussion, as soon as there is any question of future
destinies. It is difficult to shake off this atavism.

This is what makes the success of spiritism; it comes at its appointed
time, and supplies a wide-felt need.

       *       *       *       *       *

The psychological condition of society to-day is of an extremely
perturbed nature, as slight reflection will suffice to show. Much has
been said of the conflict between science and religion, but the truth
has not yet been sounded. It is no ordinary conflict which is now
taking place between science and revelation: it is a life-and-death
struggle. And it is easy to foresee which side will succumb.

It even seems as though the final death-struggles of Christian dogma
had already set in. What man, sincere and unbiased in his opinions,
could repeat to-day the famous _credo quia absurdum_? Are we not
insulting the Divinity—if He exists—when we refuse to make use of His
most precious gifts? when we abstain from applying the full force of
our intelligence and reason to the examination of our destiny and our
duties to ourselves and to others?

This abdication is nevertheless demanded of us—by Roman Catholicism
for example, which exacts unqualified adhesion to its dogmas, blind
belief in its Church’s teachings, blind belief in the affirmations of
its infallible pope. It seems to me inadmissible that the God of Roman
Catholics should approve of such indifference.

It is obvious that I do not wish to write a history of ecclesiastical
controversy. I have too much respect for others to allow myself to
attack what are still widely accepted creeds. My duty is but to
study the general aspect of revelation, and to draw therefrom such
conclusions as are necessary to my acquirements.

It is an easy study. The most enlightened intellects stand aloof from
revealed religions. I mean the majority, for there is still a small
minority which remains faithful to dying creeds.

Even the less cultivated intelligences are beginning to feel the
insufficiency of revelation. The Divinity’s incarnation and death,
in order to redeem a race so unworthy of such a sacrifice, begins to
astound them; they wonder at such solicitude for the inhabitants of one
of the least important spheres in the universe. They are also surprised
at the inexorable severity of a God who, before granting pardon to
mankind, demands his only son’s death; a God who, for the petty
trespasses of beings far removed from himself, demands an eternity of
suffering as chastisement for such ephemeral insults. All this fails
to satisfy those souls who are enamoured of truth and justice. These
dogmas give man a cosmical importance which he does not possess, and
imputes to God a susceptibility and cruelty altogether unworthy of the
Supreme Being.

We could easily find other examples; but I do not think it necessary to
bring them to bear upon my conclusion; a conclusion, moreover, which
is admitted by the clergy themselves, who complain unceasingly of
society’s growing indifference.

But is society really so indifferent? I do not think so. We find
indifference among the richer and more cultured classes, where some
give themselves up to pleasure, others to science, in reality each
one seeking only that which will amuse or interest him or herself;
but those who are without resources, those whom life molests and
wearies, those who are afraid at the idea of death and annihilation,
those who have need of some consolation, of some hope, those people
are not indifferent. If these forsake the churches and temples, it is
because they do not find therein what they are seeking. The spiritual
nourishment offered them has lost its savour; they ask for something
more substantial and less contestable.

Besides, even in the most highly cultured classes, this need begins to
make itself felt. Such men as Myers, Sidgwick, Gurney, to speak only
of the dead, took up the study of psychical phenomena with the desire
of finding therein the proof of a future life. Myers died after having
found—or thought he had found—the sought-for demonstration.

Professor Haeckel of Jéna drew up a philosophy for himself! His
materialistic monism is the outward expression of his belief: but this
is also ill-adapted to satisfy that longing, the extent and force of
which I have just touched upon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now spiritism lays claim to satisfying these longings; and it does
satisfy them, when only simple souls are concerned, simple souls who
do not dream of life’s complexities. The phenomena of spiritistic
seances—and these are real phenomena—are the miracles which come to
confirm the spirits’ teachings. Why should they doubt?

Therefore the clients of spiritism are increasing in number with
extraordinary rapidity. The extent to which this doctrine is spreading
is one of the most curious things of the day. I believe we are
beholding the dawn of a veritable religion; a religion without a ritual
and without an organised clergy, and yet with assemblies and practices
which make it a veritable cult. As for me, I take a great interest in
these meetings; they give me the impression that I am assisting at the
birth of a religious movement called to a great destiny.

Will my anticipations be realised? The future alone can tell. My
opinion has been formed on impartial and disinterested observation.
Notwithstanding the sympathy that I feel for those groups which have
been kind enough to admit me into their midst, notwithstanding the
friendship which binds me to many of their members, I have never
wished to be of their propaganda, nor even to allow them to think that
I shared their views. I have always plainly told them that I was by
no means convinced of the constant intervention of spirits; I have
not concealed from them that other and, as I thought, more probable
explanations could be given to the phenomena they witnessed; perhaps
they have appreciated my frankness. In any case, I am very grateful for
the courtesy and kindliness with which they allowed me to observe the
phenomena at their sittings, to listen to their mediums’ teachings, and
to express my opinions, which are so unlike their own.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am neither spiritist, nor theosophist, nor occultist. I do not
believe in occult sciences, nor in the supernatural, nor in miracles.
I believe we know as yet very little of the world we are living in,
and that we still have everything to learn. The cleverest men in all
epochs show an unconscious tendency to suppose that facts, which are
incompatible with their ideas, are supernatural or false. More modest
but also more cruel, our forefathers, the theologians and lawyers,
burnt sorcerers and magicians without accusing them of fraud: to-day
most of our savants, being more affirmative and less rigorous, accuse
mediums and thaumaturgists of fraud, but without condemning them to
the stake. In reality their state of mind is the same as that of the
ancient exorcists; they have the same intolerance, and the different
treatment meted out to their subjects is only due to the progressive
improvement in manners and customs.

Even those savants who are the most interested in psychical
research are afraid of confessing their curiosity. It requires the
broad-mindedness of a Crookes or a Lodge, of a Duclaux or a Richet,
of a Rochas or a Lombroso to dare to take a stand and openly show an
interest in this field of research. Some day, however, these same
suspicious researches will be their experimenters’ best claim to fame.
The present attitude of official science towards medianic phenomena
is to be regretted; its scientific ‘cant’ has grievous results. The
history of the International Psychological Institute is instructive
in this respect. What a pity that such learned, remarkable, and
competent men, as Janet for example, should have shrunk from the
epithet ‘psychic’! The need for a _psychical_ institute existed, not a
psychological one, of which there are already enough.

It is precisely the attitude of respectable scientific circles which
appears to me a mistake, demanding rectification. I understand
perfectly and excuse this attitude. For so many incorrect things have
been affirmed, so many ridiculous practices have been recommended by
the leaders of the occult movement, that official representatives of
science must have felt indignant. Unfortunately no one except Richet
has ventured to do for the phenomena vouched for by occultists and
spiritists, what Charcot has done for the magnetisers’ allegations. No
doubt, this other Charcot will come when the time is ripe.

The preparatory work will have been done, and he need only resume the
experiments of Richet, Crookes, Lodge, Rochas, Ochorowicz, and many

I class myself with these experimenters. Many of them are my friends,
and, if our manner of thinking be not quite the same, my ideas upon the
method to be used are much the same as theirs. And thus I find myself
quite naturally led to say what my ideas are.

I believe in the reality of certain phenomena which I have been able to
verify over and over again. I see no need to attribute these phenomena
to any supernatural intervention. I am inclined to think that they are
produced by some force existing within ourselves.

I believe also that these facts can be subjected to scientific
observation. I say observation and not experimentation, because I do
not think that it is yet possible to proceed on veritable experimental
lines. In order to experiment one must understand the conditions
necessary to produce a given result; now, in our case, we have a
most imperfect knowledge of the required conditions, which are,
nevertheless, necessary antecedents to the sought-for phenomena. We are
in the position of the astronomer who can put his eye to the telescope
and observe the firmament, but who cannot provoke the production of a
single celestial phenomenon.

My position is therefore very simple. It is that of an impartial
observer. The occult sciences and spiritism never aroused my curiosity,
and I was more than thirty years of age, when my attention was drawn
towards psychical phenomena. I did not even try to turn a table before
I was thirty-five, considering such facts as unworthy of serious
examination. It is only since 1892 that I have become interested in
these researches.

I cannot remember to-day how I was led to take up the study; it was not
abruptly. I am certain that no striking incident was ever responsible
for a sudden changing of my mind. As far as my recollection goes, I
think it was the chance perusal of some theosophical works, which
made me curious to know the extent of a mystical movement, whose
existence I had not even suspected. My discoveries astonished me, for
I never thought that mysticism could find adherents at the end of the
nineteenth century. The opening address pronounced by me at the Court
of Appeal at Limoges in 1893 was upon this subject.

This address brought me many correspondents, and I was led to
experiment myself. My first results were negative, and except a few
interesting experiments made at Limoges with a lady of that town—a
remarkable medium—and her husband, the phenomena which I observed were
not of a nature to convince me. In 1895 I went to l’Agnélas, and took
part in the experiments of MM. de Rochas, Dariex, Sabatier, de Gramont
and de Watteville. The report of these experiments has been published
in the _Annales des Sciences Psychiques_.

Surprised at these manifestations, I became filled with the desire to
investigate further; and soon afterwards curiosity prompted me to take
advantage of a leisure moment to resume the l’Agnélas experiments. In
1896 Eusapia Paladino was kind enough to spend a fortnight at my house
at Choisy, near Bordeaux. MM. de Rochas, Watteville, Gramont, Brincard,
and General Thomassin were present at all or some of these experiments.
The Attorney-General, M. Lefranc, my friend and chief, was also present
at one of our sittings. M. Béchade and a Bordeaux medium, Madame
Agullana, were also my guests. The results of these sittings have
been noted down by M. de Rochas in a small volume which has not been
made public. More and more interested, and desirous of investigating
still further what I had seen with Eusapia, I begged her to pay me
another visit. She consented, and returned in 1897, giving me another
fortnight, this time in my home at Bordeaux. The phenomena which my
friends and I obtained on that occasion were as demonstrative as before.

Eusapia is not the only medium with whom I have experimented. Madame
Agullana of Bordeaux, with her customary disinterestedness, has given
me many sittings: the results I obtained with her are of a different
order. I also brought twice to Bordeaux the young mediums of Agen,
where a previous opportunity had been given me of observing them; at
Agen their phenomena had won for their home the reputation of being
haunted. Lastly, I have found some remarkable mediums at Bordeaux,
among those who did me the honour of admitting me to their sittings.
I also came across a large number of mediums manifesting automatic
phenomena only; these, too, were interesting in their way, for they
enabled me to note and understand the difference between so-called
supernatural phenomena and phenomena which are but the expression of an
activity, which, in appearance at least, is extraneous to the ordinary

Finally, I have frequently come across fraud. This was instructive, and
I observed the fraudulent with patience and interest. The tricks of
voluntary fraud deserve to be known and studied, as one is then better
able to frustrate and checkmate them. Involuntary fraud—far more common
than voluntary fraud—is no less instructive, for it throws a vivid
light upon the curious phenomena of automatic activity.

It is not always becoming to entertain one’s readers with
personalities, but I think I ought to infringe a little upon decorum,
in order to specify the state of mind in which I have pursued
my observations. From the very beginning I was struck by a fact
which seems beyond doubt. I saw that certain manifestations—to all
appearances supernormal—could only be studied with the assistance of
nervous and mental pathology. Therefore I went to school again, and for
six years I studied assiduously clinical medicine at the University of
Bordeaux. It is not within my present scope to write the panegyric of
the masters to whose teachings I listened, their names would seem out
of place in a book like this. But I may say that the interest which
I took in my medical studies became more lively, as I understood
their importance better and better. Doubtless the notions which I
have acquired are most rudimentary, but however unpretentious they
may be, they have enabled me to understand the mechanism of certain
manifestations, and to bring a more precise judgment to bear upon their
psychological value.

I am, therefore, an interested but impartial onlooker. It matters
little to me if a table or a chair moves of its own accord; I have no
particular desire to see them accomplish these movements. The only
interest, which I find in this fact, is its truth. Its reality alone
is of value to me, and I have applied myself to establish this without
any possible error. My unique preoccupation has been to make sure of
the reality of the phenomena which I observed. The pursuit of truth has
been my sole concern.

True, I sought it in my own way; for I preferred to build my conviction
upon a basis which would satisfy my intelligence and my reason, rather
than impose _a priori_ conditions which the experiment ought to satisfy
in order to convince me. I am ignorant of most of these conditions,
and I think that every one else is also. Consequently, I consider
it imprudent to establish beforehand the conditions under which the
experiments are to be made, in order to merit being recorded. It
might just happen, that one of the conditions thus laid down rendered
the experiment impracticable. Therefore I have observed rather than

My manner of proceeding has been productive of many happy results; for
the curious phenomena which I have been able to observe are capricious;
they shun those who would force them, and offer themselves to those
who wait for them patiently. This behaviour, this spontaneity, is not
the least astonishing feature in this line of observation.

I have always thought that there was nothing of a supernatural order
in these phenomena. My conclusions have not changed; but let us
understand the meaning of this expression. I do not mean to say that
these phenomena are always in accordance with nature’s laws such as we
understand them to-day. I am certain that we are in the presence of an
unknown force; its manifestations do not seem to obey the same laws, as
those governing other forces more familiar to us; but I have no doubt
they obey some law, and perhaps the study of these phenomena will lead
us to the conception of laws more comprehensive than those already
known. Some future Newton will discover a more complete formula than

My position, therefore, seems to me to be well defined. I have held
myself aloof from those who denied upon bias, and also from those who
asserted too rashly. I have remained within the margin of science.
I have endeavoured to bring to bear upon my experiments methods of
scientific observation. I wish to go in neither for occultism, nor for
spiritism, nor for anything mysterious or supernatural. Many who know
me imperfectly may think that I have given reins to my imagination,
that I am an adept in theosophy, neo-martinism, or spiritism. Such is
not the case. I seek, and I have found-very little; others have been
more fortunate than I. Some day perhaps I shall have the same good
luck. But I shall not touch upon what others have done, save as an
accessory; I shall only speak of what I myself have seen and what I
myself think. My book is the statement of a witness—it has no other

One word in conclusion. A great number of my experiments have been
made with people who wish to preserve their incognito. I have never
been wanting in discretion when this was asked of me, and have never
disclosed the names of those who placed their confidence in me,
permitting me to experiment with them whilst desirous of remaining
unknown. I have sometimes found very remarkable mediums among these
anonymous experimenters. Some of my sittings with them have been truly
admirable on account of the clear, distinct nature of the phenomena
obtained. I beg these trusting friends to accept my heartfelt thanks.

May my book have the good fortune to contribute, however feebly,
towards removing the prejudices which keep away so many likely
experimenters from these studies and researches. These prejudices are
manifold: there is the fear of ridicule, the religious scruple, the
delusive dread of nervous or mental disease, the terror of an unknown
world peopled with strange, mysterious beings. But time will dispel
all this, and I believe that a day will come, when these facts—well
studied, well observed—will change our conceptions of things in a
way little dreamt of to-day. The sphere of ‘Psychical Science’ is
unmeasurable. A few pioneers only are exploring therein to-day; when
the land has been tilled and cultivated it will yield, I am sure, a
wonderful crop—the harvest will surpass the dreams of imagination.

But let those who, thanks to a scientific education, are particularly
well qualified to undertake these studies, cease to consider them
unworthy of their attention. In holding themselves aloof they commit
a mistake which they will bitterly regret some day. Allowing even
that the first experimenter may be guilty of mistakes, there will
always remain something out of the facts which they have observed.
Mistakes are unavoidable in the _début_ of a new science: the methods
are uncertain, and the novelty of the phenomena makes their analysis
difficult; time, labour in common, and experience will remedy these
inevitable inconveniences.

It would be very easy to give examples of the delay which scientific
prejudice has brought to bear upon scientific progress. This criticism
has already been very frequently and wittily made. Even those men,
whose discoveries have placed them at the head of the intellectual
movement of their generation, are not altogether free from blame,
yielding too often to the deplorable tendency of converting natural
laws into dogmas. They commit the same fault they object to in
theologians. Man has a wonderful aptitude for laying hold of his
neighbours’ faults and remaining blind to his own, and probably it will
be so for a long time to come. I would like to see science rid itself
for good and all of this theological habit of mind.

Science has only to think about facts. There should be no distinction
made between the various phenomena observed: it is not beseeming
to adopt certain facts, and refuse analysis to others, excluding
them on the ground, for example, that their examination belongs to
religion. Every natural fact ought to be studied, and, if it be real,
incorporated with the patrimony of knowledge. What matters its apparent
contradiction with the laws of nature, such as we understand them
to-day? These laws are not principles superior to our experience; they
are but the expression of our experience: our knowledge is very limited
and our experience is still young—it will grow, and its development
will bring the inevitable consequence of a corresponding modification
in our conception of nature. Therefore, let us not be too positive
of the accuracy of present ideas, and arbitrarily reject everything
which we think runs counter to them. Do not dogmatise; let our only
care be the impartial search for truth. Nothing will better enable us
to understand the surroundings in the midst of which we are evolving
than facts, which are apparently irreconcilable with current ideas:
these facts betoken that the ideas are erroneous or incomplete; their
attentive observation will reveal a more general formula which will
explain at one and the same time the new and the old. And thus from
antithesis to synthesis, more and more universal, our scientific ideas
will tend towards absolute truth.

Alas! how far away from this ideal do we seem to be to-day!



A French proverb says, ‘we must have eggs to make an omelette’: in
order to be able to study psychical phenomena we must have psychical
phenomena. This seems an elementary proposition, and yet it is the very
one we most readily overlook. I have already said why and wherefore.

Therefore, I deem it necessary to indicate at once the methods which
have appeared to me to give the most favourable results. Those of my
readers who may wish to verify the accuracy of my conclusions will, I
am sure, have the opportunity of doing so, if they operate as I have
done. First of all, I must warn them against caring for the world’s
opinion. They must not be afraid of exposing themselves to ridicule. No
doubt there is temptation to make a jest of the methods which I advise;
but I strongly recommend them to think about the result, and not about
the means used to obtain that result.

Psychical phenomena are of two orders: material and intellectual. The
methods best suited to the study of the first are not, in my opinion,
adapted to the study of the second. There is a distinction, therefore,
to be made in the beginning between these two categories of facts.

Physical phenomena are the least frequently met with; they include:—

1. Knockings or ‘raps’ on furniture, walls, floors, or on the
experimenters themselves.

2. Sundry noises other than raps.

3. Movements of objects without sufficient contact to explain the
movement produced. There is here a distinction to be made between (_a_)
movements produced without any contact whatever—_telekinesis_: _e.g._
the rising or sliding of a table or chair, the swaying of scales, etc.,
without their being touched; and (_b_) movements with contact, which is
insufficient to explain them—_parakinesis_: _e.g._ the levitation of a
table on which the experimenters lay their hands.

4. _Apports_: that is to say, the sudden appearance of objects—flowers,
sweets, stones, etc.—which have not been brought by any of the
assistants. This phenomenon—if it exists—supposes, in addition, the

5. Penetrability, or the passage of matter through matter.

6. Visual phenomena, which are themselves subdivided into:—

  (_a_) Vision of the odic effluvium.

  (_b_) Amorphous lights.

  (_c_) Forms, either luminous or non-luminous.

  (_d_) Lastly, the most complete phenomenon of all—the
        materialisation of a form, human or otherwise, luminous or

7. Phenomena which leave permanent traces, such as imprints.

8. Alteration in the weight of material objects or of certain people:

9. Perceptible changes in the temperature: sensation of cold or heat;
spontaneous combustion.

10. Cool breezes.

Such are the chief psychical phenomena of the material order, which
have been pointed out by different experimenters. I have not verified
all of them: raps, telekinetic, and a few luminous phenomena are all I
have obtained in a thoroughly satisfactory manner.

Intellectual phenomena are those which imply the expression of a
thought. I will class them in the following manner:—

1. Typtology: the table, upon which the experimenters lay their hands,
leans to one side and recovers equilibrium by striking the ground.

2. Grammatology or spelt-out sentences. Various methods may be used.
The principal are:—

  (_a_) Repeating the alphabet until a rap indicates the letter to be

  (_b_) Pointing out the letters of the alphabet by means of a pencil
        or stiletto, etc., until a rap indicates where to stop;

  (_c_) Finally, the designation of the required letters by an
        index-hand on a pivot fixed in the middle of a circle
        composed of the alphabet, the index-hand moving with or
        without contact.

3. Automatic writing: _immediate_, when the subject writes without the
intermedium of an instrument; _mediate_, when he uses an instrument,
such as a planchette, a wooden ball with handles fastened to it, a
basket, a hat, a stand, etc. In this case, several people can combine
their action by laying their hands all together upon the object to
which the pencil is attached.

4. Direct writing: _i.e._ writing which appears on slates, paper, etc.,
whether in or out of sight of the experimenters. If the letters seem to
be formed without the aid of a pencil we have _precipitated writing_.

5. Incarnation or ‘control’: the subject, when asleep, speaks in the
name of some entity or order, which _possesses_ him.

6. Direct voices: when words are heard, appearing to emanate from vocal
organs other than those of the persons present; some experimenters are
supposed to have conversed in this way with materialised forms.

7. Certain automatisms other than writing are observable: _e.g._
crystal- and mirror-gazing; audition in conch-formed shells; sundry
hallucinations, _telepathy_ and _telesthesia_: ‘the communication of
impressions of any kind from one mind to another, independently of the
recognised channels of sense’; perception at a distance of positive
impressions. These phenomena bring in their train _clairvoyance_
or _voyance_, and _lucidity_, expressions which are by no means
identical. Lucidity designates more particularly the faculty which
certain people have, in magnetic sleep or in somnambulism, of getting
exact impressions in a supernormal manner; clairvoyants or voyants are
those who see forms invisible to other people. _Clairaudience_ denotes
phenomena of the same kind in the auditory sphere.

I have paid scarcely any attention to these intellectual phenomena,
with the exception of automatic writing, crystal-gazing, typtology,
and ‘control.’ If I have taken greater interest in material than
in intellectual phenomena, it is because they struck me as being
more simple and easier to observe. This sentiment is not that of all
experimenters, and my colleagues of the London Society for Psychical
Research appear to be more affirmative in their conclusions, concerning
survival after death and communication with the dead, than in their
opinions on material phenomena. My personal experience has not led me
to the same ideas.

Undoubtedly, experiments demonstrating the persistence of human
personality after death would have an interest, in comparison with
which all others would be blotted out. But the analysis of phenomena
of this kind raises difficulties, which are much more complicated than
is the simple observation of a physical fact. Intellectual phenomena
always suppose some kind of motor automatism or other; of course, I
am not speaking of manifestations where the will of the sensitive
intervenes: this automatism is manifested by language, writing, or
the less elevated motor phenomena, typtology for example; it may also
be sensory and manifest itself in hallucinations of various kinds.
To understand the infinite complication of intellectual phenomena it
suffices to indicate the conditions under which they are observed.
Before admitting that the cause of the apparent automatism is foreign
to the sensitive, we must be able to eliminate with certitude the
action of his personal or impersonal conscience. To what extent does
the subliminal memory intervene?—a first difficulty which is scarcely

But supposing it to be solved, the problem still remains almost intact.
If the knowledge of a positive fact, certainly unknown to the medium,
appears in his automatic communications, we must not thereupon conclude
that this knowledge is due to the intervention of a disincarnated
spirit. Telepathy may be able to explain it. Telepathy is, as we know,
the transmission of an idea, an impression, a psychical condition
of some kind or other from one person to another. We are altogether
ignorant of its laws, and nothing warrants the assertion, that if
telepathy is a fact—as appears most probable—it is therefore necessary
that any particular motive condition should exist in the agent. We may
suppose with just as much reason, that the existence of a souvenir in
one mind can be discovered and recognised by another, under conditions
solely depending on the mental state of the percipient. This is,
properly speaking, telesthesia. Now it is very difficult to prove
that the fact, of which automatism marks the knowledge, is unknown to
everybody. It is even impossible to prove it. But supposing this were
done, there would always remain the possibility of attributing the
communication to some being other than human: by admitting even the
existence of spiritual or immaterial beings distinct from ourselves,
nothing warrants us to affirm that such beings are our deceased
relatives or friends and not some facetious Kobolds.

Prediction and precognition, of which I have had proof, raise just
as complicated questions as the preceding ones. I confine myself to
recording without trying to explain these facts.

Therefore, I have given my preferences to the study of physical
phenomena, because in such I have not to consider the mental condition
of the subject, nor have I any of those delicate analyses to make,
the complexity of which I have just mentioned. I have to defend myself
against only two enemies, the fraud of others and my own illusions.
Now, I feel certain of never having been the victim of either. When,
for example, in the refreshment-room of a railway-station, in a
restaurant, in a tea-shop, I have observed, in broad daylight, a piece
of furniture change place of its own accord, I have a right to think
I am not in the presence of furniture especially arranged to produce
such effects. When the unforeseen nature of the experiment excludes the
hypothesis of preparation, when, by sight and touch, I make sure of
the absence of contact between the experimenters and the article which
is displaced, I have sufficient reasons for excluding the hypothesis
of fraud. When I measure the distance between the objects before and
after the displacement, I have also sufficient reason for excluding the
hypothesis of the illusion of my senses. If this right be refused me,
I should really like to know how any fact whatever can be observed. No
one is more convinced than myself of the frailty of our impressions
and the relativity of our perceptions; nevertheless, there must be
some way of perceiving a phenomenon in order to submit it to impartial
observation. Besides, the supposed reproach of illusion cannot be
applied in a general sense; to admit its justice would be to do away
with the very foundations of our sciences. It can only be applied to
me as an individual, and I willingly admit that it is impossible for
me to exculpate myself. In vain might I plead that I am persuaded of
the regularity of my perceptions, in vain assert that I observe no
tendency to illusion in myself, my testimony would remain none the less

Consequently, I have but one reply for those who mistrust my
qualifications as an observer, and that is to invite them to take
the trouble of experimenting on their own account, using the methods
which I have adopted. If, _a priori_, they wish to lay down their own
conditions, they run the risk of receiving no appreciable results. When
they have obtained a few plain facts they will be able to vary the
conditions of experimentation, and satisfy the legitimate exigencies of
their own reason. That is what I did, and if I cannot solemnly affirm
the reality of the phenomena which I have observed, I can at all events
affirm my personal conviction of their existence. Maybe I am showing
an exaggerated mistrust of myself by thus only affirming my subjective
conviction, and in not venturing to affirm with a like energy the
objective reality of the things I have seen. Yet I trust no one will
blame me for my prudent reserve. What man can say he has never made a

Only those, who put themselves in the same conditions which enabled me
to make my observations, have a right to criticise those observations.

To criticise without experience is unreasonable, and I recognise no
competence in those judges whose decisions are made without preliminary
information. For the rest, I have no wish to convert any one to my
ideas, and am indifferent—respectfully indifferent, if you like—to the
judgment which may be formed about me.

The methods recommended by diverse occult schools vary a great deal.
Theosophists do not reveal to the profane the means they use to
obtain supernormal facts. This discretion astonishes me, for the
theosophical society is filled with a lively spirit of propagandism.
It has its chief centre at Adyar, and lodges or branches everywhere.
The theosophical reviews venture to discuss the most elevated problems
of philosophy, and are not at all sparing of the most extraordinary
revelations of esoteric teaching; but they are remarkably sparing of
practical indications.

Theosophical phenomenonalism appears to derive inspiration from
Hindu-Yogism. I do not know the rules of training to which Yogis submit
themselves. The most severe abstinence seems to be recommended them.
Adepts are generally initiated by their Gurus or masters, and I have
not been fortunate enough to be the chela of an initiated.

The French occultists who are connected with Eliphas Levy by Papus (Dr.
Encausse), Guaita, Haven, Barlet, Sédir, recommend the practice of
magic. Descriptions of the necessary magical material will be found in
treatises by Papus and Eliphas Levy. The results which the Magi relate
having been obtained are so vague, that I have had no curiosity to put
into practice the strange proceedings of magic ceremonial recommended
by them. These have a serious inconvenience; namely, to strike the
imagination of credulous folk, and to facilitate auto-suggestion,
sensorial illusions, and hallucinations. To accomplish the rites,
moreover, it is necessary to dispose of rooms arranged in a particular
way, and to submit oneself to a severe diet for a certain time. This
makes it a complicated matter. Well, I must admit I was ashamed to try
these methods. I lacked the courage to don the cloak and the linen
robe, to trace the circle, and with lighted lamp and sword in hand
await visions about to appear in the smoke arising from the burning
incense. I own I was perhaps wrong not to try what are apparently the
less rational methods. Only caring for the result obtained, I certainly
would not have hesitated to resort to white or even black magic, had
I had any reason whatsoever to anticipate a positive result. In order
to obtain an observable fact, I would not have hesitated laying myself
open to ridicule. But the statements of experimenters of the occult
school seemed to imply a poverty of practical results. If the magi
of the present day had realised some operation easily accessible to
observation, they would not have omitted acquainting us of the fact
in one or other of their numerous reviews. Their silence struck me as

Moreover, the very essence even of Hermetic doctrines, openly professed
by occultists, is opposed to all such divulgence. The ancient doctrine
exacted initiation. The Rosicrucians, if I am not mistaken, could only
initiate an adept. Then again, they were allowed to use this privilege
only upon attaining a certain age, and when convinced of having found
a discreet and trustworthy pupil. All that publicity made to-day about
Hermetic sciences is the actual negation of their first precepts. These
indiscretions bring to my mind the words of one of my predecessors at
the Bordeaux Court [successor of the ancient Parliament of Guyenne],
the President Jean d’Espagnet, one of the three or four adepts who
pass for having unriddled the great arcanum. ‘_Facilia intellectu
suspecta habeat_,’ he says, speaking to the seeker, ‘_maxime in
mysticis nominibus et arcanis operationibus; in obscuris enim veritas
delitescit; nec unquam dolosius quam quum aperte, nec verius quam quum
obscure, scribunt philosophi_.’

Then, again, I had a decisive reason for choosing spiritistic methods:
they are not mysterious and they require no special subjective
preparation. They are simple—in appearance, at least—and can be easily
applied. Spiritists, and certain experimenters who have adopted
their methods without sharing their theories, affirm having obtained
surprising results. Therefore, I had nothing better to do than choose
these same methods. Because of their simplicity, and the multiplicity
of certified results, I considered it preferable to adopt the methods
of spiritists. I will, therefore, indicate how I experiment when I am
free to direct the sittings—which, unfortunately, is not always the

I shall divide my indications into three wide categories: 1. Material
Conditions; 2. Composition of the Circle; 3. Methods of Operation.

I will add that these indications are not absolute.


Results are generally better, when operations are carried on in a room
whose dimensions do not exceed 15 to 20 square yards in area, and 12
to 15 feet in height. Smaller rooms may be used, but then the heat is
sometimes trying.

The _temperature of the room_ is an important factor. Heat, although it
may inconvenience the experimenters and the medium, appears to exercise
a favourable influence on the emission of the force. On the contrary,
cold is an element of non-success. Of course, I am speaking of the
temperature of the room. I would advise operating in a temperature of
from 20 to 25 degrees centigrade. It is decidedly necessary to avoid
having cold hands and feet.

In winter the seance-room should be thoroughly warmed and the fire
allowed to go out before the sitting, in case luminous phenomena should
be forthcoming.

I fancied I saw an advantage, especially for movements without contact,
in operating in an uncarpeted room. The carpet not only seems to be a
bad element generally, it also hinders the gliding movements of the
table, which are often only very slight.

As for exterior meteorological conditions, I have noticed that a dry
cold favours the production of psychical phenomena: it is, I believe,
the temperature _optima_. In any case, the dryness of the air is a very
good condition. I have noticed that the phenomena were more easily
obtained, when outside conditions favoured the production of numerous
sparks under the wheels of electric trams. I have often noticed this
coincidence between good sittings and the abundance of electric
sparks above-mentioned. I believe that the hygrometrical state of the
atmosphere is an important factor in the production of these sparks.
Rain and wind are, on the contrary, causes of failure.

The lighting of the seance-room is one of the most important
considerations in experimentation. Lamps and candles have the
inconvenience of taking some time to light, and they do not allow of
easy and rapid modification in the illumination of the room. Electric
lighting is the best system, because, disposing of several lamps,
it suffices to press a hand-lever in order to vary the quantity and
quality of the light.

Much criticism has been passed on the particular kind of experiments
I have undertaken to relate; one of the most frequently reiterated
criticisms is the reproach of always operating in obscurity. Nothing
can be more inexact. As far as I am concerned, I have never considered
as convincing telekinetic and parakinetic experiments made in
obscurity. Those movements without contact, which have brought about
my conviction, were obtained in full light, and more often in broad
daylight. Of course, it is evident that darkness is necessary for the
observation of luminous phenomena. To insist upon proving, in broad
daylight, the reality of the delicate phosphorescences which it has
been given me to observe, is a glaring contradiction.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that darkness is particularly
favourable to phenomena of a physical order. On several occasions I
have had the opportunity of recognising this fact under conditions,
which rendered the hypothesis of fraud extremely improbable. For
example, I have frequently obtained raps in the light, the number and
intensity of which increased when the light was extinguished. It is
the same with movements of objects without contact; but, I repeat,
obscurity is not necessary.

In a popular scientific review I once read a criticism of some
experiments in which I took part—a criticism written by a medical man
at Bruxelles, if my memory be correct. This doctor, a man of talent,
imagined that our conclusions were founded upon experiments conducted
solely in total obscurity. He committed an involuntary mistake.

Psychical phenomena can be obtained in broad daylight, and an
endeavour should be made to obtain them in this way. There has been
a general tendency to put out all lights in order to procure more
marked phenomena. This is a wrong way of proceeding, if one seeks
physical phenomena such as raps or movements without contact. We must
avoid working without light, for the habit of only being able to emit
the nervous force in obscurity is most easily acquired; and it is by
no means easy to suppress acquired habits. Eusapia Paladino had the
habit of demanding the gradual extinction of the light as her trance
deepened. In 1897 I was able to get through her the same phenomena,
with a certain amount of light and without the trance condition. I
still remember her astonishment at obtaining, in her waking state,
phenomena which, until then, she had obtained in the second state
only. Sleep and darkness were the conditions this remarkable medium
had become accustomed to, but they were not necessary. My first
recommendation, then, is to operate with light, with as much light as

I repeat, however, that sometimes the lessening of light is
desirable—often the medium demands it—even its total extinction is
sometimes necessary, as, for example, when sitting for luminous
phenomena. It is therefore well to have a series of graduated electric
lights more or less shaded. The simpler thing is to have a _Pigeon_
lamp. These petroleum lamps do not give much light, but the graduation
of the light is easily effected with them. Their great advantage is
this, when the electricity is turned off, their feeble light—quite
sufficient in certain cases—is capable of being gradually reduced until
total obscurity is obtained.

Coloured lights are often useful: I have not tried blue; yellow,
violet, and green are good; while red fatigues the eyes. For certain
series of experiments, I arranged my light so as to obtain white,
yellow, green, or red, according to wish: the first three give
sufficient illumination; it is not at all the same with red.

I strongly recommend avoiding the concentration of the luminous source.
To avoid that inconvenience, dull glass may be used, or the lamps and
lantern-sides may be covered with transparent paper—the quantity of
light is not sensibly diminished, and the sight is less tried.

The quality of the light employed did not seem to me to have any very
noticeable influence on the phenomena, yet I think my best results have
been obtained in the twilight hours, or in the afternoon between five
and seven o’clock, when the hard light of day had been tempered by
drawing the blinds together.

The most important question after that of illumination is the choice of
apparatus. I do not hesitate to say that the table is the best thing to
use. However, it must not be imagined this article is an indispensable
tool. Movements without contact can be obtained just as well with
chairs, baskets, hats, pieces of wood, linen, etc., but a table is more

I have obtained equally good results with round or rectangular tables;
the latter have perhaps given me the finest experiences. Eusapia
generally uses rectangular tables; at l’Agnélas the table we used
weighed about 13 kilogrammes, at Choisy 6 or 7, at Bordeaux about 7 kg.
500 grs. When sitting for raps or movements without contact, I think it
is better to use lighter tables; for psychical force is mensurable:
some mediums incapable of moving a table weighing ten kilogrammes may
be able to obtain the levitation of a lighter one.

Some of my recent results lead me to think, there might be an advantage
in using tables made with a double top, a space of three or four inches
separating the two shelves. I have not experimented sufficiently to
be able to express an opinion on the advantages which, theoretically,
the double top seems to hold out. My impression is that the table acts
something like a condenser, in which case the purpose of a double top
can be understood.

The legs of the table should be separated. One-legged tables should
be discarded, and especially tripods, their supervision being so
very difficult. When the legs are thin and apart, observation is

The colour of the table did not seem to me to exercise any influence
over the phenomena. I have been equally successful with black, white,
red, and brown tables. They may be polished or unpolished. I do not
think it matters what kind of wood they are made of, though I have
obtained my finest raps with an unpolished mahogany table.

I have noticed there is an advantage in covering the table with some
white material of light texture, which should not fall beyond the
edges of the table more than one or two inches, as it would otherwise
interfere with the experimenters’ reciprocal supervision. I do not know
why the presence of a cloth should be favourable to raps and movements;
at all events, it makes fraudulent raps and communicated movements much
more difficult.

It is well to curtain off one corner of the room in order to form a
cabinet. If the room be narrow enough, it is more convenient to stretch
the curtains at the end opposite the window—an arrangement I adopted at

The dimensions of the cabinet ought not to exceed 3 feet 9 inches to 4
feet 6 inches in width, 2 feet in depth, and 6 feet in height. I think
there is an advantage in partially closing in the top.

The curtains should be made of some material of light thin texture. It
is a mistake to think they should be of a dark colour; I have obtained
just as good results with plain white sheets as with dark curtains.

When studying movement of objects without contact, it is useful to
place in the cabinet light articles which produce a noise when shaken.
The common tambourine is very appropriate for this purpose, as are also
accordions, toy-pianos, harmonicas, hand-bells, etc.

The experimenters ought to sit upon wooden chairs with cane seats.
Upholstered chairs are not to be recommended.

An easy-chair should be placed in the cabinet for the medium, in case
he should wish to sit there. Mediums often express this wish, when in a
state of ‘trance’ or somnambulism. I give the name of ‘trance’ to the
sleep or torpor which is generally noticed in the sensitive, when the
phenomena attain their maximum intensity. I prefer the word ‘trance’
to any other expression, because the condition of the entranced medium
does not seem to me to be identical with that of the somnambulist;
and for the particular experiments with which I am dealing, it is of
interest to use terms which do not lead to confusion.

It is extremely useful to have a registering apparatus, which will
allow of making graphical descriptions of certain movements. Sir
William Crookes used this with success. I have not had the opportunity
of using any; for I had no such apparatus at hand when I experimented
with Eusapia Paladino. Later on, in a series of promising experiments,
the health of the medium with whom I was operating obliged me to cease
work, before I was able to make use of my registers.

I must, however, warn experimenters against the premature use of
any kind of apparatus whatever. One of the most curious features of
psychical phenomena is their apparent independence. The phenomena
direct us; they do not allow themselves to be easily led. Often they
seem to obey some will other than that of the sitters; and it is this
which forms the basis of spiritistic belief; but, though I have not
been able to grasp its laws, my impression is that this spontaneousness
is only apparent.

Sensitives, as a rule, exhibit great repugnance to mechanical
tests. This repugnance is one of the difficulties which repel the
best predisposed minds, and quickly leads them to the conclusion of
dishonesty, an unwarranted conclusion sometimes. I have come across
many mediums, who themselves offered me every help in their power
when devising test conditions. It is true these mediums are private
individuals of position and education, and are extremely anxious that
their psychic powers might not be made public in any way; for they do
not wish to expose themselves to the criticism and abuse which is so
lavishly bestowed upon mediums. This is particularly the case with

Certainly, the attacks made on Eusapia Paladino by a badly informed
press and public are not encouraging to the more highly gifted mediums.
I owe it to Eusapia to say that, in my experiments with her, she has
always submitted to the exigencies of the most severe test conditions.
If she has sometimes given me suspicious phenomena, she did so only
under especial psychological conditions.[1]

      [1] See Appendix B.

Though I have not employed any registering apparatus, I have used
instruments of weight and measure—particularly a letter-balance—an
article as convenient as it is easily employed. Each experimenter
can and ought to vary the conditions of experimentation according to
his wishes, within the limits which frequent experimentation will
very quickly give him. The results obtained must be definite. To be
satisfied with approximate results in such a matter would be absolute
loss of time.

In concluding my remarks about the paraphernalia of the seance-room,
I will give one more recommendation which may seem extraordinary,
but which, I have reason to believe, is useful; this is that there
should be no metal about the table: it is better to fasten it together
with pegs rather than with nails. This is not an absolute condition,
however, for I have obtained good results with nailed tables; yet my
impression is that the absence of all metal is an element of success.
Mediums are sometimes extremely sensitive to metals. Certain sensitives
complain of their rings, which seem to make them feel uncomfortable,
giving them, at times, a sensation of exaggerated heat. This brings to
mind certain facts met with from time to time in our neurotic cliniques.


The most important thing in the organisation of a series of experiments
is the choice of persons with whom we intend to operate. First of
all, it must be remembered that without a _medium_ no phenomena will
be forthcoming. The presence of some one, gifted with the power
of producing psychical phenomena, is perhaps the only necessary
and indispensable condition of their realisation. Therefore,
experimentation ought only to be seriously thought of when in
possession of that _rara avis_.

What, then, is a medium? By what distinguishing features can he be
recognised? It is very difficult to answer these questions.

I will give the name of ‘medium’ to any person capable of producing
any of the phenomena previously mentioned. I adopt the word ‘medium,’
because it is consecrated by custom and has received the precise
signification I mention. Some philosophers criticise this definition.
Their criticisms are, I think, misplaced. In metaphysics it is easy to
give definitions which, though elegant, are founded upon nothing. In
physics—I use this word in its etymological and primitive sense—a
being can only be defined by its properties. Definitions of this kind
state a fact, which is all we can require of them; they serve one
purpose, which is to avoid a long periphrase. Any other definition
would lead to the supposition, that the veritable knowledge of the
cause of the phenomena observed or of the properties recorded, was
known; now, it seems to me impossible to affirm the real cause of the
facts I have observed. I confine myself to stating them without forming
any hypotheses.

A medium is, therefore, a person in presence of whom ‘psychical’
phenomena can be observed. I use this word ‘psychical’ with regret,
because it implies a hypothesis.

As a rule it is necessary to experiment with mediums in order to
discover them. Their gifts are often latent, and only reveal themselves
if conditions favourable to their manifestation are supplied. This is
not always the case, and there is generally a chance of coming across
a medium when experimenting with persons in whose presence certain
irregular abnormal noises are heard, certain movements of furniture are
spontaneously produced. Such things are far from being as uncommon as
one would think. This assertion may seem paradoxical, but such is not
the case.

I have met with good mediums who were ignorant of the existence of
their faculties; yet, when I questioned them, I discovered that they
frequently heard little ‘raps’ upon the wood of their bed or upon their
night-table, without attaching any importance to it. Others have often
noticed the displacement of ordinary articles. Sometimes, but more
rarely, the facts observed are so intense that the house appears to
be haunted. We are often tempted to attribute to fraud the phenomena
of haunting. I believe accounts of this nature are not all false,
and I shall perhaps try and show this in a future work. We must not
reason like one of my friends, a man of vast erudition and superior
intelligence, who one day said to me: ‘A little girl from thirteen to
sixteen years old is always to be found in haunted houses—as soon as
the little girl is taken away the phenomena cease!’ Granted! Things
generally happen thus; only the little girl may not be the voluntary
cause of the phenomena: she may be the involuntary cause of them, a
medium in activity, producing supernormal phenomena of the nature of
those observed at spiritistic seances.

However, it must be admitted that it is very seldom we have the
opportunity of experimenting with these, so to speak, ready-made
mediums. As a rule we must try on patiently, until the longed-for
phœnix has been discovered.

At the same time, I ought to point out that the chances of encountering
a medium will be greater if we look for him among nervous people. It
seems to me that a certain impressionability—or nervous instability—is
a favourable condition for the effervescence of medianity. I use the
term ‘nervous instability’ for want of a better, but I do not use it
in an ill sense. Hysterical people do not always give clear, decided
phenomena; my best experiments have been made with those who were not
in any way hysterical.

Neurasthenics generally give no result whatever.

The nervous instability of which I speak is, therefore, neither
hysteria, nor neurasthenia, nor any nervous affection whatsoever. It
is a state of the nervous system such as appears in hypertension.
A lively impressionability, a delicate susceptibility, a certain
unequalness of temper, establish analogy between mediums and certain
neurotic patients; but they are to be distinguished from the latter
by the integrity of their sensibilities, of their reflex movements,
and of their visual range. As a rule, they have a lively intelligence,
are susceptible to attention, and do not lack energy; their artistic
sentiments are relatively developed; they are confiding and unreserved
with those who show them sympathy; are distrustful and irritable if not
treated gently. They pass easily from sadness to joy, and experience
an irresistible need of physical agitation: these two characteristics
are just the ones which made me choose the expression of nervous

I say instability, I do not say want of equilibrium. Many mediums whom
I have known have an extremely well-balanced mind, from a mental and
nervous point of view. My impression is that their nervous system is
even superior to that of the average.

This will, no doubt, surprise many well-informed people. Medical men
and psychologists, ill-disposed, as a rule, to the study of so-called
occult phenomena, have the habit of looking upon all mediums as
hysterics. It suffices to read the works of these savants to perceive
they have never been in the presence of veritable mediums. M. Paul
Janet, for example—in _L’Automatisme Psychologique_—propounds general
theories which cannot be applied to every case. It is a pity such an
eminent thinker should not have taken the trouble to make himself
better acquainted with the facts. Perhaps he has acted like the
celebrated Abbot Vertot.[2] According to M. Janet’s theories, all
mediums are on the high road to psychological disintegration: the
constituent parts of their personality are dissociated under the
influence of the weakening of the normal, personal activity.

      [2] Vertot, an historian of the eighteenth century, failing to
      receive, when he was ready for them, the documents upon which
      he counted in order to write his _Siege of Rhodes_, finished
      his work for all that; and when the documents were handed
      to him, he contented himself with saying: ‘I am very sorry,
      but I have finished my siege.’ He preferred leaving his work
      imperfect to beginning it over again.

I am sure the individuals observed by M. Janet have been very
carefully studied by him; but I regret that my learned colleague has
not encountered a genuine medium. I share his opinion concerning most
spiritistic mediums; I have only found two interesting ones among them;
the hundred others which I have observed have only given me automatic
phenomena, more or less conscious; nearly all were the puppets of their
imagination. It is outside spiritistic circles that I have discovered
the best mediums.

M. Janet’s criticisms are only erroneous because they are too sweeping.
His conception of psychological disintegration is applicable to the
greater number of cases; but it does not apply to all. It is a very
different thing to study a crystal-vision, or an automatic writing
revealing nothing beyond the tenor of the sensitive’s memory, or
to observe a premonitory vision such as has been given me to do.
The indication of a future event cannot be explained by Janet’s
hypothesis. It reveals especial faculties that I can scarcely consider
pathological, unless I consider them as such in the same way as one
considers genius to be a sign of degeneration.

It is more reasonable to think that our nervous sensibility will become
more and more refined. It is rash to believe that the present human
type is the definite end of evolution. Our species is only one link in
the series of beings; the causes, which have led up to the improvement
of the human race, are still in activity, and it is logical to think
there are some natures above as well as below the average. The latter
represent ancestral types—a return to cast-off forms; the former are
perhaps precursors, possessing faculties which are abnormal to-day, but
which may become normal to-morrow.

I must pause, for I see I am forsaking the domain of facts for that of
hypotheses; I hasten to return thither. I have pointed out the signs
which permit us to suppose that a certain given person is a medium;
although these signs are not certain, they seem to me probable. In
reality, there is only one sure way of testing the faculties of a
medium: that is to experiment with him.

It has been observed that certain people do not obtain phenomena
when they operate alone, but obtain them, on the contrary, when with
another person. I myself have not had occasion to remark this fact,
but I have often noticed that the presence of certain people favoured
the attainment of results, while the presence of others troubled or
stopped it. I have no explanation to offer for this fact. Certainly
credulity or incredulity has no influence whatever on the results of an
experiment. I have seen people who were very little inclined to allow
themselves to be convinced make excellent auxiliaries. At the same
time, I have seen convinced spiritists make detestable co-operators.

It seems as if the faculty of giving forth this unknown force were
unequally distributed, that it constitutes a physical property of the
organism; that, in relation to it, some persons will be positive and
others negative, some will emit and others absorb it.

Hence the importance of the choice of co-operators—_of the composition
of the circle_. The number of experimenters is comparatively
unimportant; in principle, the more numerous the circle the greater
the force thrown out. But the presence of a large number of sitters is
a bad condition for observation; it also enhances the difficulty of
the realisation of, what spiritists call, the harmony of the circle.
But I ought to say that the finest luminous phenomena, which I have
seen, have been obtained when there were from fifteen to twenty people
present. On the other hand, I have had the opportunity of experimenting
several times alone with a non-professional medium, when I succeeded in
seeing faces which I recognised. Unfortunately, this medium—the only
one with whom I have obtained this phenomenon—wishes to retain his

I think the most favourable number is from four to eight. I would urge
those who wish to try to experiment to compose their circle, as far as
possible, of an equal number of each sex; it is preferable to alternate
the masculine and feminine elements. These considerations lead us to
the examination of methods of operation, properly speaking.


Before discussing in detail those methods which appear to me to be
the surest, I think it well to make a few general recommendations.
The first relates to the state of mind in which it is necessary to
experiment. If interesting results are desired it is not advisable to
laugh, joke, or mock at those practices—however ridiculous they may
seem—with which I advise compliance. Act seriously, do not make light
of experiments, the exact import of which we are so ignorant of. I
think we should also avoid the other extreme, which we find in most
spiritistic groups, and which impart to these seances all the solemnity
of a religious service.

The foregoing might be considered a useless recommendation, which is
not the case. Spiritists, whose experience in such matters is not
to be disdained, insist on the necessity of harmony in the circle,
which is, they say, an essential condition of success. My personal
experience confirms their opinion on this point. I have often been
present at sittings which promised well in the beginning, and became
suddenly barren because of a futile discussion between the sitters.
The harmony recommended by spiritists is a kind of equilibrium between
the mental and emotional states of the sitters. Each sitter should be
animated by the same spirit—I do not use this word in its spiritistic
acceptation—and seek only the truth; for I take it for granted they
will operate as I have done. This unity of views, this uniformity of
desires, this harmony between brains and hearts ensures the synergy of
the forces which each member of the circle develops.

For there is no doubt that some kind of force is emitted, and that if
the medium throws off more than the other experimenters, an equilibrium
between him and the other sitters is nevertheless fairly quickly
established. The medium takes back from the latter the force he has
expended. The result is that after a successful seance, the sitters
are generally tired. I have noticed that certain persons give out this
force more readily than others, and this perhaps explains a medium’s
preference for certain experimenters as neighbours during the seance.
We must not attribute this choice to the greater facility, which
some people might offer for the execution of fraudulent phenomena.
I have frequently been thus chosen, and I beg my readers to believe
that I have a horror of fraud and imposture. I am also accustomed to
experimenting; I feel no emotion whatever; I keep cool and observe with
care. I am well acquainted with fraudulent methods, and I take good
care not to be imposed upon.

I repeat, it is a mistake to attribute to fraudulent intentions the
preference shown by the medium for such or such an experimenter. In
reality, it seems as though the medium, possessing an organism much
more sensitive than that of the majority, quickly recognises those
persons who the more easily throw off the force which he requires to
retrieve his losses. This more rapid emission may be the result of
habit, or may even depend upon individual constitution. Eusapia quickly
discerns people from whom she can easily draw the force she needs.
In the course of my first experiments with this medium, I found out
this vampirism to my cost. One evening, at the close of a sitting at
l’Agnélas, she was raised from the floor and carried on to the table
with her chair. I was not seated beside her, but, without releasing
her neighbours’ hands, she caught hold of mine while the phenomenon
was happening. I had a cramp in the stomach—I cannot better define my
sensation—and was almost overcome by exhaustion.

This, for me, extraordinary incident astonished me greatly, and since
then I have always carefully examined my sensations. This examination
has the fault of being purely subjective, but certain objective
realities have confirmed it. A special sensation accompanies the
emission of this nervous force, and with custom the passage of the
energy expended in a seance can be felt, just as the interruption of
its flow can be discerned. I have questioned several experimenters
about this, and their observations have often corroborated mine.

Therefore I think I may say that some kind of force is emitted by the
sitters, which is elaborated by the medium; that the latter restores
his losses at the expense of the experimenters, that certain people
more readily than others furnish the medium with the force he requires;
and that a certain sympathy of ideas, views, and sentiments between the
experimenters is favourable to the emission of this force.

I have no decided opinion upon the nature and origin of this force. I
think it is kindred to the energy which circulates in our nerves, and
which provokes the contraction of our muscles. Further on I shall give
the reasons which lead me to think so.

A second recommendation, no less important than the first, in my
opinion, is to treat seriously, and note carefully all communications
given through the table, through automatic writing or raps.

I now arrive at the examination of one of the most curious facts which
so-called ‘psychical’ experiences reveal. _To a certain extent_ the
manifesting force appears to be intelligent. Nothing permits me to
affirm or even to think, that the manifestations are due to an entity
distinct from that of the sitters. It is not my province to discuss
hypotheses: I confine myself to the relation of facts, and in the
course of my recital, I will point out in detail the circumstances,
which permit me to signalise the apparent individuality of the
manifesting force. As in such matters I have always thought it better
to preserve an expectant attitude, I have always been careful never
to slight the communications received through the phenomena. I have
imposed on myself the habit of treating these manifestations in the
manner desired by them. Every time I acted otherwise, the results were

Generally, the manifestations are attributed to a deceased person,
known or unknown to the sitters. This is not absolute, for I have
witnessed the table call itself the devil, or even pretend to be a man
still alive. Automatic writing has been signed by a Mahatma; but, as a
rule, it is the soul of a deceased person who claims to be manifesting.
This usual attribution explains spiritistic belief. I have good reason
for thinking, that the spirits of the dead have had nothing to do
with my experiments; but as, in reality, I am ignorant of the cause
of the phenomena which I have observed, I have politely accepted the
explanation these have given of themselves. It is thus we address
those whom we meet at table d’hôte, calling them by the name they give
themselves without concerning ourselves as to who they really are.

Therefore, whatever the changeable personification of the phenomena
may be, my advice is to accept it and to heed its observations. We must
not suppose the ideas expressed are due to the operators’ unconscious
movements; that may be true when the communications are obtained
through automatic writing, through a table or articles with which the
experimenters are in contact; but it is certainly not so when they are
obtained by raps given without any contact whatsoever, as I have been
able to prove many and many a time. As I confine myself to indicating
the results of my personal experience, it is perhaps enough to say
once more that the methods I recommend seem good to me. I have always
noticed the unhappy consequences of my refusal to take into account the
spontaneous advice of the personification.

The most frequently given advice concerns the placing of the

However, at the beginning of the sitting, the experimenters may seat
themselves as they please. I have already said it was generally
necessary to place the medium’s chair against the curtains of the
cabinet, and to alternate the sexes. The experimenters seated, the
experiment begins. It is a good plan to choose a manager. Nothing is
worse than the absence of direction. When every one wishes to direct
the proceedings, confusion reigns in the circle, and results are bad.
I have been present at seances where every one spoke at the same time,
each one demanding a different phenomenon. As a rule, on such occasions
nothing was received. Some one, therefore, ought to be appointed to
conduct the experiment, especially to converse with the personification
if it express a desire for conversation.

When the sitters wish to make a report of an experiment, it is
indispensable to intrust one of the experimenters with the task of
taking notes of the incidents as they occur. This experimenter ought to
form one of the circle.

It must not be thought that the circle can be modified with impunity.
My personal experience has shown me it is bad to frequently introduce
strangers into the circle. It should be arranged that a series of at
least six sittings will be held without modifying the group: that
no new experimenter will be admitted: and that none of the original
experimenters will miss even one seance. Then if at the end of six
sittings nothing has been obtained, my advice is to change the
circle, to eliminate certain elements, replacing them by others. It
is preferable to change the sitters one by one, and to make a few
experiments with the circle thus modified before making further changes.

If interesting results be forthcoming, and a desire be felt to show
them to other people, the new sitters must be introduced one by one,
and, I repeat, at intervals of three or four sittings. Otherwise there
would be a risk of compromising the success of the experiments.

The personification sometimes asks for the addition to the circle of
a certain person; it is then well to invite him to the sittings if
circumstances allow of it.

I now return to the seance which, I suppose, has begun. The sitters
put their hands on the table; it is not generally necessary to ‘form
the chain,’ that is to say, to establish contact between the sitters
by linking the little fingers. The hands in position, and the room
_well lighted up_, we wait. Talking or singing may be indulged in. The
emission of the voice, especially rythmical emission, is an excellent
condition: it is a good thing to play some music, organ-playing is
particularly effective. Why is the production of sonorous rythmical
waves favourable to these phenomena? I have no explanation to offer for
this fact, which I am not the only one to have observed.

At the end of a few minutes, the table often seems to be agitated.
If we are experimenting with spiritists or with people accustomed to
spiritistic proceedings, the table, raising itself, will be seen to
strike the floor with one of its legs. I advise asking the table if
it wishes to speak, and to arrange that two raps will mean ‘no,’ and
three raps ‘yes.’ Of course any other numbers or signs will do equally
well. The table, thus consulted, generally replies ‘yes.’ It can then
be asked, if the sitters are well placed: if it indicates any other
arrangement it is well to heed its advice.

We should then make known to the table what kind of results are
desired, and point out, particularly, that movements with contact,
failing to carry conviction, are undesirable. I have already said that
the personification—it is thus I call the entity, whatever it may be,
who claims to be manifesting—is generally very open to suggestion;
and it suffices to indicate, at the beginning of the experiment,
the objection that is made to movements with contact to be almost
completely rid of them.

There is no need to point out the object of the above suggestion. From
the special point of view of the observation of material facts, the
movement of a table upon which the hand rests means nothing at all.
I look upon these movements as loss of time; they are sufficiently
explained by our own unconscious and involuntary muscular contractions.
The phenomenon is only worthy of a serious man’s attention when it
is produced without contact, or without sufficient contact; as, for
example, when the table is completely raised from the ground, the
sitters’ hands resting on top of the table all the time. It is better
not to experiment than to lose one’s time in observing movements with
contact, unless, of course, we are seeking to analyse the tenor of
typtological messages.

I strongly recommend most carefully avoiding the production of
automatic movements. I have excellent reasons for believing, that the
agent which produces telekinetic phenomena only realises them, if it
has accumulated sufficient force to have acquired a certain given
tension. I have already pointed out the close connection—identity
perhaps—between this agent and that which causes our muscles to
contract; further on I shall indicate experiences which give weight to
this impression; at present it suffices to mention it, to understand
why I so earnestly recommend sitters to avoid yielding to more or less
subconscious movements from the very outset. If, as I think, the energy
which our nervous system elaborates is closely connected with that
energy, whose effects are seen in telekinetic phenomena, it is probable
that it will only produce these curious effects, in proportion as it
is able to acquire a sufficient tension for its emission. My knowledge
of physics is too rudimentary to allow me to draw precise comparisons
between this force and electricity. Nevertheless, it has seemed to
me to present some analogies with electricity, although the two are
certainly not identical; but the analogies are, perhaps, sufficient to
enable me by a comparison to make my meaning clearer.

An electrical conductor, charged with a given amount of electricity,
will have an electrical density of σ; if the amount increases, this
density will be σ´, and we will have σ´>σ; the tension in the
first case will be T = 2πσ², in the second T´ = 2πσ´²; T´ will be
greater than T.

The conductor will remain charged, as long as the tension does not
exceed the resistance which the surroundings offer to the emission
of electricity; as soon as this resistance becomes inferior to the
tension, there will be emission of electricity.

In the case of a medium, the charge of energy increases with time and
relative immobility. If by making unconscious or voluntary movements,
experimenters do not allow this energy to accumulate, it will never
reach the tension necessary for exteriorisation. There are, however,
some reservations to be made; for I have noticed, that when the tension
is sufficient, simulated or executed movements determine the production
of the motor phenomenon—just as if the execution of the movement
appeared to liberate a quantity of energy superior to that which was
utilised by the working of the muscle; the excess of force was then
apparently employed in the realisation of the telekinetic movement.

I have noticed that, every time we allow voluntary or involuntary
movements, telekinetic movements are difficult to obtain. One would
think, that the energy which determines them can only accomplish them
when it cannot find a normal outlet; it has a tendency to expend itself
normally in ordinary muscular movements: this tendency is one of the
most frequent causes of involuntary fraud, and the habitual occasion
of voluntary fraud. We must see that this tendency be checked: this
may call for some effort of attention at the beginning, but ‘habit is
second nature.’

Things being thus regulated, we wait. A first seance is generally
without apparent result, unless one has the good luck to meet with a
medium straight away—which is not always the case. Those who seriously
wish to understand these facts must have a great fund of indefatigable
patience. I can guarantee them success sooner or later, but I cannot
tell how many barren experiments may be made before that success
comes. They must not grow weary; let them progressively modify the
composition of the circle until the necessary element be met with.
They will then be rewarded for their trouble. I strongly advise them
to avoid professional mediums. Some of them are sincere, and I think
that Eusapia Paladino is of that number. It is true that sometimes
she produces suspicious phenomena, but it is puerile to conclude
therefrom that she constantly cheats. The suspicious cases I have
observed with Eusapia are interesting, if studied impartially. They
show the rôle which the subliminal conscience—impersonal or bound to a
second personality—plays in the phenomena, and give rise to attractive
psychological problems.

Spiritistic mediums, whose number is legion, form another category
with whom we should not experiment, except for purposes of especial
research. Some of these mediums are trustworthy, and one of them,
Madame Agullana of Bordeaux, has sometimes given me interesting
sittings. The phenomena I have observed with this medium differ
greatly from Eusapia’s; they are of an intellectual order, and raise
a very complicated problem. Madame Agullana’s medianity must not be
judged from seances with her groups. These seances have the religious
character of nearly all truly spiritistic meetings. It is difficult
there for an experimenter to observe at his ease; the curiosity of
those who seek only the objective demonstration of a fact may appear
impertinent and out of place at such meetings. The faithful have a
right to look upon such people as intruders. Convinced of the truth
of their doctrines, they ill brook the open discussion of them at
meetings, where discussion is not wanted. They prefer the discourses of
an entranced medium to the needless interference of the profane. Their
meetings, nearly always consecrated to the acquiring of communications,
have the serious defect of developing unconscious automatism in their
medium. For me this is a conclusive reason.

Madame Agullana, at some seances where only a few experimentalists took
part, gave proof of the possession of certain supernormal faculties,
which I have not observed in the same degree of intensity at the usual
sittings of her group. This medium is also entirely reliable, and of
praiseworthy disinterestedness. She never receives any remuneration—an
important consideration—for, mediums who take fees are more open to

My most convincing results have been obtained with persons unacquainted
with spiritism and ignorant of its practices. Once I discovered a
medium most unexpectedly. He sat down with me at a table, invited to
experiment for the first time in his life. He had scarcely seated
himself when violent knockings resounded on the floor; this person,
honourable, well-educated and intelligent, is one of the most
remarkable sensitives I have met with. But as he fears ridicule, has no
desire to be scoffed at in newspapers, and, moreover, dreads publicity
of any kind, he does not wish his name to be mentioned. These are the
results of the malevolent criticisms heaped upon experiments of this

I am sure the number of mediums is much more considerable than we
think; in a circle of from eight to ten people chosen under the
condition I have mentioned, it is seldom we do not find a medium.

Of whatever sex, to whatever social status he may belong, the medium
is a sensitive. This must never be forgotten; and we must never lose
sight of the fact, that the phenomena will be clearer and better in
proportion as the medium’s confidence and sympathy are won.

This statement will not surprise those who are familiar with hypnotic
experimentation, for they know how easy it is to induce sleep in a
person who lets himself go, and, on the contrary, how difficult it is
in one who resists or who mistrusts the operator. I am persuaded that
the impersonal strata of the consciousness play a rôle in psychical
phenomena similar to what they play in the phenomena of hypnotism.

Therefore, I insist on the necessity for due regard being paid to
the medium. I have had much practice, and in all mediums I have
met with extreme sensitiveness. Those who have come under the
refining influences of education, instruction, or rank, are the most
sensitive—‘touchy’; but this sensitiveness ought not to be interpreted
as a sign of degeneracy. Certain contemporary savants consider every
deviation from the normal state as a blemish! Such a way of thinking
implies a veritable _a priori_ judgment, a begging of the question,
which is detrimental to the true development of scientific thought. The
normal man is only a mean term; there are individuals who are inferior
to the mean, there are others who are superior to it. Nature knows
not equality. She offers us, everywhere, inequalities, discrepancies,
diversities. It is the illusory unity of our own personality, which
leads us to unify and to codify natural phenomena and even humanity
itself. It is one of the conditions of the organisation of our
Sciences, that they become intelligible only on condition of adapting
themselves to our particular form of understanding. Nothing authorises
our supposing that this form of understanding has any metaphysical
reality; it may only be a subjective condition of our perception.

It is by an analogous mental process, that we give reality to the
intellectual or physical type of the average man. Degeneracy, which is
often a sliding backwards, a relapse into inferior types, is a negative
deviation from the average man: genius is a positive variation. In
the same way, the nervous system of the imaginary average man is but
an abstraction; in reality, the sensibility of the nervous system
of the different human individualities varies immensely. A negative
variation will give beings who are less sensitive, less delicate
than those of the average type; a variation in the positive sense
will give individuals of a more sensitive and more delicate type. To
consider either as abnormal is only grammatically true: the former
are _infra_-normal, the latter are _supra_-normal. The first have not
reached the average level, the second have passed it.

Therefore, it is not astonishing that a more refined sensitivity of
the nervous system should have a correspondingly greater emotivity:
‘touchiness’ in itself is a function of emotivity. This seems to me
to explain a fact which appears certain—that the feelings of mediums
are very easily hurt. A discontented, irritated medium is a bad
instrument—as I have had occasion to prove with Eusapia and many other

I have always noticed that discontent and moral discomfort, as well as
fatigue and physical discomfort in the medium brought about failure.

The advice I give is important to follow. Win the confidence and
sympathy of the medium by your own sympathy, your own deference, your
own loyalty. If you detect fraud, which seems voluntary to you, do not
hesitate—after the sitting and at the first favourable opportunity—to
tell him frankly your doubts and your impression. If you perceive an
involuntary fraud, put the medium on guard against himself, always
act toward him with sincerity, but at the same time with kindness and

As already pointed out, fatigue and physical discomfort produce the
same effects as moral discomfort. It is unwise therefore to experiment
with a sick medium. The results would be bad from an experimental
standpoint, and the medium’s health would suffer. Carefully avoid
experimenting too frequently with the medium. Even three sittings
a week are really more than is desirable. We may experiment three
times a week when operating with a medium in good form, and when the
experiments are not likely to last for more than two or three weeks.
It would be bad to experiment so often or for a longer period with
a young sensitive. Two sittings a week seem the safest number to
me; while only one ought to be made if the medium follows a trying

I have seen mediums become ill through experimenting too often. The
abuse of experimentation rapidly brings on nervous breakdown, and may
cause serious disorders, of which neurasthenia is the most frequent and
the _least serious_. Therefore I have made it an invariable rule to
experiment with non-professional mediums, only on condition that they
bind themselves to experiment with no other than my own circle as long
as our series of experiments lasts. I am as persuaded of the absolute
innocuousness of experiments prudently conducted, as I am positive of
the dangers of experimentation when frequent, prolonged, or conducted
by incompetent persons. I have no fear of assuming the responsibility
of the first, but for no consideration whatever would I endorse, even
indirectly, the second, and I cannot too strongly recommend the same
prudence to other experimenters.

A last recommendation remains to be made; experimentation with persons
of doubtful morality must be avoided. I have no need to enlarge upon
the many inconveniences to which such an imprudent collaboration may
expose experimenters.

To sum up the indications I have just given in perhaps too complete a
fashion, I will briefly recall to mind the conditions which have seemed
the best to me: sufficient light first of all—the personification
must not acquire the habit of operating in darkness, for the brighter
the light, the more convincing the experiment; a small room; a light
table with four legs, put together with wooden pegs rather than with
nails; a cabinet of soft thin curtains; the experimenters not to exceed
as a rule eight in number; the experimenters to agree to experiment
seriously, without turning into ridicule the practices to which they
submit themselves. It is a good plan to allow only one of their
circle to direct the seance, to converse with the personification, to
control the proceedings. They must try and keep up a spirit of good
understanding, and refrain from reciprocally accusing each other of
pushing the table—novices do this regularly. Discussion should be
relegated to the end, and should never be provoked during the sitting.
Finally, they should pay great attention to the susceptibility of the
medium—whoever he may be.

The greatest patience will be required; the circle should be modified
with prudence, and only after a certain number of sterile experiments.


I think it will be useful to indicate what has seemed to me the best
way of treating the personification—for this point is important.

I give the name of ‘personification’ to the manifesting intelligence,
whatever this may be. As previously indicated, this intelligence, as a
rule, claims to be the soul of a deceased person. This is not absolute,
and the phenomena may personify God, the devil, angels, legendary
personages, fairies, etc. I need not say how far I am from believing in
the reality of the being thus manifesting, and I have, as I believe,
excellent reasons for doubting. I have noticed that the rôle played by
the personification varies with the composition of the circle. It will
always be the spirit of a dead or living person with spiritists. But
the rôles are more varied if the circle be composed of people who are
not spiritists; it then sometimes happens that the communications claim
to emanate from the sitters themselves. I am inclined to believe this
is the real origin of the communications, and that a sort of collective
consciousness is formed. I give my impression with the greatest
reserve, for, I repeat, I have no decided opinion upon the subject; but
the experiments I have made leave me that impression, in a general way.
This forms part of an—as yet—undeciphered chapter on the psychology of
crowds. I confess I have no explanation to give of the action which
such a collective consciousness appears to have upon matter; but this
difficulty seems to me less insurmountable than those attending the
spirit hypothesis. If we attribute the phenomena to a being distinct
from ourselves, having a will-power so much the more marked because
it emanates from a spiritual being more enlightened than ourselves, I
cannot understand the suggestibility of such a being. Now, I believe
the personification is, as a rule, extremely suggestible. I say ‘as
a rule,’ for there are occasions when it gives proof of remarkable
obstinacy: this is the exception, and I ought to say that when the
personification shows a decided will of its own, there is no struggling
against it. It is absolutely necessary to follow the directions it
gives, for, in such cases, there is a very good chance of obtaining
happy results, while certainly nothing will be obtained by spurning
those directions.

There are very few people among those unaccustomed to this kind of
experimentation, who have the courage to treat the personification as
it desires to be treated: this is a mistake. We must take a practical
view of the proceedings; we must lay aside all pride and vanity. I
am as well aware as any one of the comical aspect of a conversation
between a grave experimenter and a being non-existent, and I had much
difficulty in conquering the repugnance with which this manner of
proceeding inspired me. I saw therein a kind of jugglery unworthy of
a cultured intellect. Experience has clearly shown me I was wrong,
without, however, demonstrating the reality of the being personified.
Every time I looked upon the personification as something not to be
reckoned with, I have had bad or indifferent sittings.

This does not mean, that the results have always been in proportion
to the attention I have paid the personification. Far from it! The
personification is generally lavish of promises—excellent things in
their way, but it would be extremely naïve to put absolute faith
in what it says: we must trust only in ourselves. I do not know if
Socrates’ demon ever played him false: those of his species whom I
have interviewed struck me as being of doubtful sincerity. It would be
impossible to commit a greater imprudence than to put practical faith
in the advice of the personification, however good it may seem to have
always been.

My personal observations have generally brought me into connection with
personifications possessing more imagination and good-will than respect
for the truth. They have promised me marvellous demonstrations, which I
am still expecting, particularly complete materialisations. Perhaps I
am too hard to please, and ought to consider myself lucky to have seen
what I have seen. But we are never content with our lot, and Horace’s
time-honoured words are as true to-day as ever they were.[3]

      [3] Qui fit, Mæcenas, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem
          Seu ratio dederit, seu fors objecerit, illa
          Contentus vivat, laudet diversa sequentes?
                                 Satyr, I. lib. i. 1.

If I strongly recommend people not to abandon the conduct of their
life or business affairs to the personification, I recommend just as
strongly treating the latter with the greatest possible attention. We
can only form hypotheses about its essence; and the scepticism which
my observations, taken as a whole, have instilled into me, may be
ill-founded; therefore it is better to treat it with the same courtesy
we show our fellow-experimenters. This attitude is prudent; it is
also the most profitable one. In practice, I have the same regard for
the personification as for the medium. I do not call it ‘dear spirit’
as spiritists do, but I find I do well to make it clearly understand
what I am seeking; whatever in reality the personification may be,
its co-operation seems to me to be indispensable. The resemblance
between the reaction of the personification and that of the subliminal
consciousness is so obvious, that I have no need to enlarge upon it.

In practice, the first manifestation of this—probably fictitious—being
will consist in a knocking on the floor with the leg of the table. It
is well to agree upon a code of signals. The simplest is two raps for
‘no,’ three for ‘yes,’ five for the alphabet.

At the beginning, it will be difficult to avoid these knockings. I
have already said it is desirable to discourage them and to induce
the personification to manifest itself otherwise. It would be well
to accept the typtological code of signals above mentioned for
the first conversations, but to abandon it as soon as it has been
clearly explained to the personification, that movements with contact
are unacceptable. I am, of course, speaking under the supposition
that telekinetic or parakinetic movements are desired. If the
personification, at the end of five or six seances of an hour each,
does not begin to produce the desired phenomena, the circle must
be modified in the manner already pointed out. These modifications
ought to be patiently continued, until a medium has been met with.
The personification might be asked to name the sitter who is to be
replaced, and, if possible, to designate his substitute. Such a
designation is often very useful. Once or twice I have seen the table
name persons whom, at the moment of the experiment, no one in our
midst had thought of—at least consciously. Various reasons prevented
the given indications from being followed, and the experiments were

Movements with contact can be eliminated by the process I have
mentioned; their elimination, made with the consent of the
personification, presents no inconvenience, unless it be done too

I have already said that the personification is generally very open
to suggestion. We must remember that this is a special kind of
suggestibility. In hypnotism a commanding tone of voice gives greater
force to the suggestion; it is not the same with the personification
in question, which shows itself rebellious to all imperative orders.
On the contrary, it readily yields to suggestions made with gentleness
and persistence. As a rule, I give the object I have in view, and my
reasons for setting aside all phenomena which can be explained by
unconscious muscular action. I repeat, I treat the personification
as a co-experimenter. It is seldom that, thus exhorted, it does not
willingly consent to abstain from phenomena devoid of interest, and
promise more demonstrative ones. I have already said too much faith
must not be put in such promises; at least nine out of ten experiments
will come to nothing, and will have to be worked out again on fresh

But the experimenter’s patience will not always be tried in vain.
Sooner or later he will meet with the indispensable medium; and his
observations will then be similar to mine.

The first supernormal phenomena are raps and oscillations without
contact. Sometimes the phenomenon, from the very outset, will manifest
itself with intensity; this is the exception; generally the noises
and movements, feeble in the beginning, will grow in intensity. As
soon as raps without contact have been obtained, certain signals must
be agreed upon. The simplest way, then, is to adopt the typtological
code of signals, _i.e._ two raps for ‘no,’ three for ‘yes,’ five for
the alphabet. The phenomena then become very interesting, for when the
raps are given without contact, the hypothesis of involuntary movements
becomes insufficient to explain them.

I have recently received very intelligent communications in this way.
We must not grow tired of having the words repeated. It often happens
that letters are left out, or that one letter is given instead of
another. This happens particularly with neighbouring letters. In
carefully noting down the letters a very clear sense will often be
found. For example, the raps will give MARTJN for Martin, HEORIETTE for
Henriette, etc. We must not give up as soon as the word seems to become
unintelligible. Wait until the sentence is finished, when it will
sometimes suddenly clear itself. It sometimes happens that the letters
are dictated backwards. When the sentence is incomprehensible, we
must begin all over again. Even in experiments whose aim is to obtain
material phenomena, we must not refuse to listen to demands for the
alphabet, for the personification will then often advise on the manner
of operating.

Very often the personification complains of too much light, and during
several sittings insists upon darkness. We must politely resist it, and
make it understand that psychical phenomena lose much of their value,
as soon as they cease to be visible. I never hesitate telling the
personification, that experiments of this kind are not convincing when
conducted in obscurity, since the good faith of the operators is then
open to suspicion, and, moreover, that phenomena can be obtained in
full light. These reasons often prevail on the personification not to
persist in asking for darkness.

In some cases, it is the personification itself who refuses to operate
in darkness. It is with personifications of this class that I have
obtained the finest results.

When the pseudo-entity asks one or other of the experimenters to leave
the circle, it is prudent to yield obedience to its behest, unless, for
various reasons, the required elimination be unacceptable. In that
case, it is as well to explain these reasons to the personification,
and then it rarely happens they are not accepted.

Such are the general rules which a fairly long experience has caused
me to adopt, and I have always had reason to be glad of having
followed them. In experiments conducted by me, I have never received
obscene or absurd communications of which certain people complain.
Reflecting, perhaps, my own state of mind, I have generally encountered
personifications with scientific and serious tendencies.

I have just exposed in detail, and perhaps too minutely, the
conclusions arrived at concerning the method of operation. I now
come to the indication of the results which I have obtained, and the
ascertainments I have been able to make.

I will examine in succession raps, movements without contact, luminous
phenomena, and finally, intellectual phenomena.



I will not stop to consider movements with contact. From a physical
point of view they have no serious signification whatever. They are
so easily explained by the combined, unconscious, muscular movements
of the experimenters, that it is really not worth while stopping to
examine them. The messages obtained by their intermedium may present
an internal or clinical interest, but in that case they belong to the
category of intellectual phenomena, properly so-called.

The first physical phenomena, which deserves attention, is that of
‘raps.’ It is generally the one most frequently obtained. We must,
however, point out that the faculties of mediums are not identical:
some produce chiefly physical, others chiefly intellectual phenomena.
The former also manifest diverse qualities: some of them obtain raps,
others movements, others luminous phenomena. Still in a general way
‘raps’ have seemed to me to be one of the simplest phenomena of a
material order.

If we work with a physical medium of even only average force, raps will
be heard after the third or fourth seance. They will be heard much
sooner if we have a powerful medium.

As a rule, raps seem to resound on the top of the table; but it is not
always so. They are frequently heard on the ground, on the sitters, or
on the furniture, walls, or ceiling. The raps I have heard—of course
I am speaking only of genuine raps—have resounded near the medium,
as a rule, either on the table, floor, walls, or furniture in close
proximity to him.

The simplest way to obtain raps is to proceed as I have directed in
section ii. chapter 1. The experimenters, seated around a table, lay
their hands upon it palm downwards, with outstretched fingers. This
method is not, however, to be strongly recommended, for raps are easily
imitated: and we must never lose sight of that fact when appreciating
an experiment; further on, I will enumerate the usual fraudulent
processes. Still, even when the hands are resting upon the table, raps
can be obtained of sufficient sonority to exclude the hypothesis of
fraud, if not absolutely, at least with much probability.

I have received raps in full light. I have received them so frequently
in vivid light, that sometimes I cannot help wondering, whether
darkness facilitates their production to the same extent as it may
other phenomena. It is, however, allowable to suppose, that the
energy which produces them prefers accumulating force in spots that
are sheltered from strong light, _e.g._ under the table, or under the
floor, or in shaded corners of the room. What makes me suppose so is
this, I have frequently noticed that the raps burst forth under the
medium’s hand, when they appeared to be produced on the top of the

Contact of the hands is unnecessary when sitting for raps. I have
procured them quite easily, with several mediums, without such contact.

When we have succeeded in obtaining raps with contact, one of the best
ways of obtaining them without contact is to let the hands rest for
a certain time on the table, then to raise them _very slowly_, palms
downwards, and the fingers loosely extended. Under such conditions,
it seldom happens that raps do not continue to be heard for at least
a short time. I need not say that experimenters should not only avoid
contact of their hands with the table, but even of any part of their
body or clothing. The contact of clothing with the table is sufficient
to produce raps, which have nothing of a supernormal nature. We must be
careful, therefore, that ladies’ dresses especially do not come into
contact with the table; in taking these necessary precautions, raps can
be obtained under most satisfactory and convincing conditions.

With certain mediums the energy liberated is great enough to act at
a distance. I once heard raps upon a table which was nearly six feet
away from the medium. On that occasion we had had a very short seance,
and had left the table. I was seated in an armchair, the medium was
standing by, talking to me, when a shower of raps suddenly resounded
upon the table we had just left. The experimenters are all personally
known to me, and I am persuaded that they are above suspicion;
but this circumstance is quite insufficient in itself to entail a
favourable conclusion of the phenomenon, for I cannot too strongly
put experimenters on their guard against blindly confiding in their
neighbours. Serious experimenters should exclude all susceptibility
amongst themselves, and agree beforehand that reciprocal verification
and control will be freely exercised without any one taking offence.
In the case I am speaking of, the table on which the raps were heard
was about six feet away from the medium and myself; it was daylight,
towards five o’clock on a summer’s afternoon; the table had never been
touched by the medium or the experimenters before the seance; the raps
were loud, and were heard for several minutes.

I have had several opportunities of observing facts of this kind. Once,
when travelling, I came across a medium among my fellow-travellers.
He has not given me permission to name him, but I may say he is an
honourable, highly-educated gentleman, occupying an official position.
He had no suspicion of his latent faculties before experimenting with
me. I obtained with him loud raps in buffets and restaurants. It would
suffice to observe these raps produced under the conditions this medium
offered me, to be convinced of their genuineness. The unusual noise
attracted the attention of persons present and greatly embarrassed us:
the result surpassed our expectations, for the more we were confused by
the noise of our raps, the louder they became; it was as though some
one of a teasing turn of mind was amusing himself at our expense.

I have also heard, when in company with a medium, some very fine raps
given on the floor in museums before the works of old masters, and
especially before religious pictures. I particularly remember the
intensity of certain raps I once heard when standing before a painting
representing the burial of Christ,—the work of a celebrated artist.
I also heard some fine raps in a house which is celebrated as having
been the last home of a famous writer; in the room in which he died,
the raps were so loud as to attract the suspicious attention of the

I have also heard formidable raps with the two young girls, fourteen
and fifteen years of age, who were called the Agen mediums. I observed
these mediums at their own home, and I also had them twice at Bordeaux,
when on each occasion they remained for nearly a month. The raps
produced by them are interesting, but they do not seem to me to be
demonstrative. One of these girls obtained raps on the floor under her
feet; I verified the apparent immobility of the foot while the raps
were being produced. When the two girls were in bed, loud raps were
heard near their feet, seemingly given on the wood of their bed. We
were able to observe the apparent immobility of the children. Raps
were also given on the blankets; we could feel the vibrations when
laying our hands on the blankets; the raps appeared to be produced
under our hands. I have heard diverse noises with these children in
obscurity, but I draw no conclusion therefrom. I found out that they
were not always sincere, and that they had a tendency to take advantage
of the confidence and friendliness of the people, with whom they were
staying. They have simulated some of their phenomena, especially raps
in the ceiling. I have never been able to persuade these young girls to
experiment at a table with sufficient conditions of light. They were
accustomed to go to bed in order to procure their raps. It is true I
have heard these raps in daylight, but I consider other conditions
were unsatisfactory on these occasions. I regretted exceedingly that
these mediums showed so little good-will, for even putting aside the
greater part of the suspicious phenomena they produced, there were
still some which seemed to be worthy of further examination.

I have touched upon my observation of these children because it is
instructive, although it may be negative from my point of view. It
shows the inconveniences of a bad method of development. I have noticed
that psychical phenomena has a great tendency to repeat itself, to
follow a certain routine: they tend to turn round the same axis. The
children of whom I have just spoken had been allowed to acquire the
habit of going to bed, in order to obtain the sonorous phenomena they
appeared to produce. Therefore they were able to obtain them only under
those conditions. They have never given me a ‘rap’ by means of a table,
and yet, I am inclined to think that they, or at least that one of
them, had the constitution necessary for the emission of psychic force.

My failure with the Agen mediums was not altogether devoid of interest,
for I gained experience, and experience is only acquired with time,
patience, and multiplicity of observations. It is useful to be able to
compare good, doubtful, and bad seances.

Among my most doubtful experiences, whose recital may be as instructive
as the foregoing, I will choose, for brief discussion, a recent series
of seances which I held at Bordeaux. Some of the phenomena I observed
seem to me difficult to explain by fraud, especially lights which
floated about the seance-room; but the greater part of the motor
phenomena was simulated. The personification had the habit of demanding
total darkness, and as I was chiefly interested in luminous phenomena,
I saw no inconvenience in putting out the lights. The personification,
which made this request, was probably the personal consciousness of
one of the sitters. As soon as the lights were extinguished, the raps
became noticeably louder. Many of them were certainly the work of two
of our number—I have not been able to analyse the mental state of
these two young men: one of them, who is neurasthenic, acted perhaps
unconsciously. Nevertheless, though I observed the whims of these two
men with interest and attention, I noticed, at the same time, that
raps were forthcoming in _total obscurity_ when I made imperceptible
movements, _e.g._ when I gently blew on the table, or when I pressed
the hand of one of my neighbours whose sincerity I could vouch for.
There was always this synchronism, which I have already pointed out,
between the muscular movement and the rap. Without being able to
affirm it absolutely, I think I may say that my co-experimenters were
not aware of the slight movements I made with my feet, hand, finger,
or breath. In these sittings, otherwise bearing a most suspicious
character, there was, therefore, a residue of facts worthy of attentive
analysis. I was unable to make this analysis, having shortly afterwards
ceased to experiment with the group, which these young men frequented.
In some respects I am sorry for it, as the observation of this parcel
of truth, and even of the two fraudulent experimenters themselves, was
interesting from various points of view.

I will now reconsider the experiments I first touched upon—viz.
those conducted in full light—the only ones upon which I establish my
opinion. I have indicated as fully as possible the conditions under
which I have been able to observe raps. The raps most commonly heard
are those given with contact on the table or floor, and then those
which are given at some distance from the experimenters.

Sometimes, but more rarely, I have heard them on cloth, on the medium’s
or sitters’ garments, etc. I have heard them on pieces of paper placed
on the seance table, on books, on the walls, on tambourines, on small
wooden articles, and particularly on a planchette which was used
for automatic writing. I have also observed very curious raps with
a writing-medium:—when he wrote automatically, raps resounded with
extreme rapidity at the end of his pencil. I can affirm that the pencil
did not strike the table, for several times I very carefully put my
hand on the opposite end of the pencil, and I was then able to verify
that the sound was produced at the point of the pencil, the pencil
remaining all the time, steadily and firmly, on the paper—the raps
resounded on the wood of the table, and not on the paper. In this case,
of course, the medium held the pencil in his hand.

Consequently, raps may be given upon various articles, with or without
contact, and even at a certain distance from the medium. I have
observed some which burst forth as far as nine feet away from the
medium. I have not obtained any at a greater distance than nine feet,
and it is not often I have been able to observe them at that distance.
One of the most curious cases I have observed is the following:—I was
experimenting in a room where there was a screen. The table was about
nine feet away from this article. Very clear, distinct raps resounded
on the floor behind the screen. It was broad daylight, but the raps
were given on the shaded side of the screen.

I have frequently heard raps in the seance-cabinet, the medium seated
in front of the curtains as indicated in section ii. chapter 1. Thus
placed, raps are easily obtained behind the medium: they may be given
on the floor, the wall, or on the articles placed in the cabinet. They
are also frequently given outside the curtains, on the medium’s chair,
or on the floor under him. When raps are obtained, it is very easy to
study them by varying, in many satisfactory ways, the conditions of the
experiment. This is one of the phenomena whose reality has been the
most clearly demonstrated to me.

The variety of form the raps may take is not less than the diversity
of objects upon which they may be given, or the places in which they
may be heard. The sound of the usual rap, on a table, reminds you of
the tonality of an electric spark, while of course there are many

In the first place, we must note that the tonality of raps differs
according to the object upon which they resound. It is easy to
recognise by the sound if the raps are given on wood, paper, or cloth.
This is an interesting demonstration, because it indicates that
the sound is produced by the vibrations of the material substance.
The material molecules of the object struck are therefore put into
movement; they are not, however, always disturbed in the same way,
for the tonality of the raps given on the same object is susceptible
of great variety. The raps, instead of being sharp and short, may be
dull and resemble the muffled sound of impact with some soft body: they
may resemble the slight noises made by a mouse, a fret-saw, or the
scratching of a finger-nail on wood or cloth: they may affect the most
diverse modalities. Their rhythm is as varied as their tonality.

One of the most curious facts revealed by the observation of raps, is
their relation with what I call the personification. Each personified
individuality manifests its presence by special raps. In a series of
experiments which have now lasted for more than two years, I have had
frequent opportunity of studying raps personifying diverse entities.
One of these entities called itself ‘John,’ Eusapia’s control, who has
retained a friendly feeling for me, it appears, ever since my first
experiments with the Neapolitan medium. ‘John’ manifests by short,
sharp raps, so very like the manipulation of the Morse telegraph,
that my co-experimenters and I wondered whether we were not actually
listening to the usual Morse signals. Unfortunately none of us knew
how to recognise letters by rhythm as exercised telegraphists can. A
group, of four individualities, who call themselves the ‘Fairies,’
manifest their presence by raps resembling high, clear notes. These
personifications are particularly interesting, and, further on, I will
have occasion of relating how one of them showed herself to me. The
four fairies are fond of mingling in the conversation, approving or
disapproving of the ideas expressed by the experimenters. They appear
to take considerable interest in the experiments, and I have often
noticed that it sufficed—when the raps delayed in making themselves
heard—to turn the conversation upon psychical phenomena, their
probable explanation, their conditions of realisation, etc., in order
to receive approving or disapproving raps at once. Sometimes the raps
imitate a burst of laughter—this coincides either with an amusing story
related by one of the sitters, or with some mild teasing. Another
entity personifies a man for whom I had the deepest affection: these
raps are graver in character. This personality seems to have the
clairvoyant perspicacity and the kindheartedness of the man I knew.
His intervention manifested itself under very curious circumstances,
but of too private a nature to be made public. I will cite another
personification of more recent appearance. It gives itself out to be
the astronomer, Chappe d’Auteroche, and has related most accurately the
details of his life and death in California. As a biographical notice
concerning this learned man appears in several dictionaries, notably
in Larousse, it is impossible to affirm that the irruption of this
personification is supernormal. The raps which announce his presence
are dull-sounding, and are given with a certain amount of force. In
conclusion, light precipitated raps, weak but abundant, are the signals
of certain personifications which we might call mar-joys—troublesome
guests, whose unwelcome intervention spoils the experience.

Let it not be forgotten, that if I point out the connection existing
between the personifications and the raps, it does not follow that I
accept the reality of those personifications. I am making a statement,
and I fill in all the details, so that experimenters, tempted to resume
my observations, may know exactly what I have observed. So far, the
personifications have not convinced me of their identity. It is true I
act somewhat indifferently the rôle of listener to their fatiguing and
rambling conversations, and that I do all I can to bring them back to
material phenomena, so much more important to me in that they are so
much easier to verify. Were I, however, not to point out the rôle which
the raps play in relation to the personification, I would be omitting
one of their most significant features, and would not be giving their
exact physiognomy.

They manifest themselves, then, as the expression of a will and
activity distinct from those of the observers. Such is the _appearance_
of the phenomenon. A curious fact is the result—not only do the raps
reveal themselves as the productions of intelligent action, they also
manifest intelligence in response to any particular rhythm or code
which might be demanded.

Often the different raps reply to one another; and one of the most
interesting experiences one can have is to hear these raps clear and
resonant, or soft and muffled, sounding simultaneously on the floor,
table, furniture, etc.

I have had exceptionally good opportunities of studying very closely
this curious phenomenon of raps, and I think I have arrived at some
conclusions. The first and most certain is their undoubtedly close
connection with the muscular movements of the sitters. I may sum up my
observations on this point in the three following propositions:—

  1. All muscular movements, however slight, are generally
        followed by a rap.

  2. The intensity of the raps does not strike me as being in
        proportion with the movement made.

  3. The intensity of the raps does not seem to me to vary
        proportionately according to their distance from the medium.

The following are the facts upon which I build my conclusions:—

I. I have frequently found that when the raps were feeble or
interspersed, an excellent way of producing them was to form a chain
of the sitters’ hands round the table. One of the sitters, without
breaking the chain—which he avoids doing by taking in the same hand
his neighbours’ right and left hands—makes, with his freed hand,
circular sweeps or passes a little distance above the circle formed by
the sitters’ outstretched hands. Having done this, the experimenter
draws his hand towards the centre of the circle to a variable height,
and makes a slight, downward movement with his hand; then he abruptly
arrests the movement at about five or six inches away from the table,
when a rap invariably follows, corresponding with the sudden cessation
of the movement. It is exceptional when this process does not give
a rap as soon as there is a medium in the circle who is capable, in
however feeble a degree, of producing raps.

The same experiment can be made without touching the table, _i.e._ by
forming the chain above the table. One of the sitters then experiments
as in the preceding case.

This is not the only observation I have made. I have noticed that with
mediums of decided power, it was unnecessary to adopt any special
method for the production of raps, as they were forthcoming as soon
as any sort of movement with hands or feet was executed. With strong
mediums, it often suffices to move the hand above the table, to shake
the fingers, to gently press the foot upon the ground, in order to
determine the production of a rap.

Needless to say with some mediums raps are forthcoming without the
execution of any movement whatsoever: with patience nearly all physical
mediums can obtain raps without movement. But it seems as though the
execution of a movement acted in the nature of a determining cause: the
accumulated energy then receives a sort of stimulus, the equilibrium
is disturbed by the addition of the excess energy unemployed in the
movement, and a kind of explosive discharge of neuric force occurs,
causing the phenomenon of raps. This is, however, only a working

The synchronism between the raps and the movements made by the sitters
is very interesting, as it reveals the connection which exists between
the organism of the experimenters and the phenomena observed. Richet
has already pointed this out. Eusapia Paladino, unconsciously perhaps,
employs a process analogous to that which I described a little further
back. This synchronism may give, as it has given, equivocal phenomena,
and may also give rise to many false accusations of fraud. This is
perhaps how Dr. Hodgson comes to attribute certain raps produced by
Eusapia Paladino at Cambridge, to the latter striking the table with
her head. Of course, I am unable to affirm the reality of the raps
heard at Cambridge, seeing I was not present at the sitting of the
Sidgwick group. I can but say, that the reading of the few extracts of
the _procès verbaux_ of these seances—most incomplete extracts—does
not by any means indicate, whether the movement of the Italian medium’s
head was the fraudulent physical cause of the rap, or whether this
movement was but a synchronous phenomenon.

I cannot help thinking that the Cambridge experimenters were either
ill-guided, or ill-favoured, for I have obtained raps with Eusapia
Paladino in full light, I have obtained them with many other mediums,
and it is a minimum phenomenon which they _could_ have, and _ought_ to
have obtained, had they experimented in a proper manner.

I will discuss these seances more fully further on.[4] Therefore,
even in the appreciation of fraud, we must not forget to take into
consideration the curious synchronism I am pointing out.

      [4] See Appendix B.

There is another useful observation to make known: namely that raps
produced by synchronous movements can be produced by the sitters
themselves. In many cases, I have seen experimenters, non-mediums,
obtain louder raps than the medium; the presence of a medium, however,
is necessary, for, the persons of whom I speak obtain no raps whatever
when alone. Here is a subject for study which has not yet been touched

Sometimes, in order to obtain raps, it suffices to touch the medium, or
to make a slight movement with the hand above the table, or simply to
place the palm of the hand gently on the table; this is an excellent
way to obtain clear, decided phenomena. The table must be moved away
from the medium in such a way that contact is impossible. The observer
puts himself beside the medium, takes both his hands in one of his own,
and moves the other slowly over the table, or even keeps it quite still
above the table. Nothing is more demonstrative than this experiment.
Let us remember I am speaking of experiments made in broad daylight.

II. Secondly, I have verified that the intensity of the raps is
not in proportion with the synchronous movement. I am unable to
affirm the accuracy of this statement with the same confidence as
with the preceding one; but I have observed the fact in a great many
circumstances. Thus, _e.g._ a very slight movement of the finger will
sometimes determine a rap, quite as loud as the rap determined by the
abrupt lowering of the whole arm.

Again, a simple muscular contraction also will bring about the
realisation of the phenomenon, without the execution of any apparent

This observation is of special interest, if I am not mistaken, for it
tends to make one suppose that the energy which serves to produce the
raps is independent of the movement executed in space, but is connected
with the cause of that movement, _i.e._ with the nervous influx. It
would be well if experimenters, more competent than I am in physiology,
were to study these observations carefully; I sincerely hope this will
be done some day. Richet might well undertake these researches, for no
one is more competent than he is to analyse the facts I am pointing out.

I think there is a close connection between psychical phenomena and the
nervous system. What I have just said about the production of raps by
the simple contraction of a muscle under a voluntary nervous influx is
one of the reasons upon which I base my hypothesis.

There are others. I have often questioned mediums about their
sensations when the raps were being produced. They all acknowledged to
a feeling of fatigue—of depletion—after a good seance. This feeling
is perceptible even to observers themselves. I have tried to analyse
my own sensations when the raps are heard; I have not arrived at any
positive result. I cannot say I have any decided physical sensation;
but my negative observation is only of interest, if compared with the
different observations I made, in connection with the production of
movements without contact.

One of the mediums, with whom some of my best and clearest raps were
obtained, tells me he experiences a feeling akin to cramp in the
epigastric region when the raps are particularly loud. This medium is
a clever and highly-educated man, one quite capable of analysing his
own symptoms. It seems to him as though something emanated from his

III. Regarding my third proposition—the intensity of the raps is not
appreciably affected by distance—I have found that raps could occur
as far as three yards away from the medium. The raps given at this
distance were as loud and clear as those given close to the medium.
This fact would at first seem to imply a difference between the action
of psychic force and that of gravitation, light, heat or electricity,
all of which act with an energy in inverse proportion to the square of
distances. However, such a conclusion would be premature, for secondary
centres of accumulation of energy may be formed at a distance from the
medium. The term ‘accumulation of energy’ is very vague and may be
incorrect, but I dare not give a more precise one, and confine myself
to simply stating, that the existence of such centres of accumulation
and emission seems indicated, by the manner in which the phenomena are

I have never verified any serious physical effects at a greater
distance than that of ten feet. I will add that if the phenomena are
not more intense, they are at least more frequent in the immediate
neighbourhood of the medium.

Such are the observations I have been able to make. It may quite
naturally occur to my readers to think I have been the victim of
illusion or fraud. This is not the case, however.

There is no illusion, simply because nothing permits me to suppose I
am the victim of illusion. This assertion is insufficient, I admit:
we are bad judges of ourselves. And now I ought to say, that if up to
the present I have always clearly distinguished between real facts and
subjective impressions, I present, nevertheless, two phenomena which
may render my testimony suspect. The first is hypnagogic hallucination,
the second coloured audition. The latter is not very decided; sound
simply awakens in me the idea of colour, not the visual sensation
of colour. My chromo-phonetic scale is _A_, white; _I_, black; _É_,
grey; _E_, blue; _on_, green; _er_, _air_, _œil_, orange, etc.[5] This
phenomenon was rather marked when I was a child; but, I repeat, the
reading of vowels or diphthongs, or the audition of sounds has never
awakened a complete sensation of colour; the idea only was evoked.

      [5] This scale is applicable to the French pronunciation of the
      vowels in question.

On the contrary, hypnagogic illusion is, with me, a decided phenomenon.
The illusion is exclusively visual. I have carefully observed this
interesting faculty on myself; it appears to me to have its origin in
dream. It is a dream begun before sleep has taken complete possession
of one. The hallucination disappears as soon as somnolence ceases.
It is with extreme difficulty that I am able to retain—even for a
second—a hypnagogic picture, when I regain complete consciousness; in
spite of all my efforts, the picture fades away or changes form as
soon as I fix my attention upon it. I have seldom been able to maintain
the illusory impression.

We must not conclude, that I am incompetent to distinguish a real
phenomenon from a false one, because of the existence in myself of
these two subjective phenomena. I have indicated the results of my
self-observation in order to be thoroughly sincere and complete, for
I have the keenest desire to be an accurate witness. I do not think,
however, that the observations I have been able to make upon myself are
really of a nature to cast suspicion upon my faculties of observation.
Quite the contrary, I should say; because my personal experience
enables me to recognise hypnagogic hallucinations, and, further on, I
will point out some phenomena which seem to me to be closely connected
with these hallucinations; but as for raps, they have quite a different
character, and their objectivity appears quite certain to me.

I will add that every one present can and does hear them. Let me recall
to mind what I said about the raps I heard in railway refreshment
rooms, restaurants, and other public places. All who were in the same
room showed, by their demeanour, that they too heard the raps. This
circumstance suffices to exclude the hypothesis of hallucination.
I propose registering these raps in a phonograph; this will be the
_experimentum crucis_ as far as their objectivity is concerned.

I have no manner of doubt whatsoever upon the authenticity of raps,
a phenomenon I have heard so frequently, and under such diverse and
excellent conditions. I have also taken care to study the different
ways of simulating raps,—and these are indeed manifold.

The simplest and most perfect method is to gently glide—an
imperceptible movement—the finger-tips along the table. The results
are better when the finger is dry, when the natural grease has been
previously removed by turpentine or benzine: resin is good, but leaves
traces. Under these conditions, slight but clear raps may be obtained.
The movement of the finger is so slow, that, unless forewarned, no one
can discover it; but, with attentive observation, a slight vibration of
the finger may be perceived when the raps burst forth. They can also be
simulated with the finger-nails, but this process is easy to unmask.

The trickster finds greater security in darkness, where he has
resources other than those just mentioned. In obscurity he can easily
imitate the raps which resound on the floor; _e.g._ he can produce dull
raps by skilfully striking his foot against the legs of the table or on
the floor; he can simulate the sharp, quick raps by allowing his boot
to glide slowly along the feet of the table or chair.

Raps are also very easily simulated by a gentle rubbing of clothing or
linen, especially shirt-cuffs. We should beware of this, for raps can
thus be produced by slow unconscious movements, and the good faith of
the experimenters may be involuntarily taken by surprise.

There is yet another way of obtaining fraudulent raps; this is by
leaning more or less heavily on the table. When the top of the table is
thin, or when the table is badly put together, or the parts have too
much play, the variations of the pressure of the hand determine noises
which greatly resemble raps.

Lastly, I have sometimes observed raps produced in a way which should
be made known. Some people, by leaning the foot in a certain way, and
by contracting the muscles of the leg, can imitate raps on the ground.
This fact has been indicated especially in connection with the sinews
of the musculus peronaeus longus. I observed a medical student, an
incorrigible cheat and neurotic, who obtained sounds very similar to
authentic raps by leaning his elbow on the table, and making certain
movements with his shoulder. There are also some people who can make
their joints crack at will.

But force of habit soon teaches how to ferret out fraud, when working
in daylight or with good artificial light. Besides, the tonality
of authentic raps is characteristic, and the method of simulation
indicated at the beginning of these remarks, _i.e._ finger-gliding, is
the only one able to reproduce some of the raps with even a fair amount
of exactness.

It does not seem to me to be possible to simulate raps on the table,
when they are produced without contact. It is easy to localise
them, and auscultation of the table enables us even to perceive the
vibrations of the wood. Precautions, easily taken, enable us to
make sure of the absence of contact and communication between the
experimenters and the table.

To sum up, I am certain—as far as it is reasonably possible to be
certain of anything in such a matter—that knockings of variable rhythm
and tonality are heard in the presence of certain persons—knockings or
‘raps’ which cannot be explained by any known process. They are heard
at diverse distances; they often seem to obey the expressed wishes of
the sitters, and to manifest a certain independent intelligence. On the
other hand, their production appears to be intimately connected with
the nerve-energy of the medium and the sitters.

I think I am able to express the foregoing conclusions with certainty
and confidence.




I apply the term parakinesis to the production of those movements where
the contact observed is insufficient to account for them. I thus more
especially designate the complete levitation of a table upon which the
sitters are leaning their hands; also the displacement of heavy pieces
of furniture which are but lightly touched by the medium alone, or
with other experimenters. Levitation is the raising of an object from
the ground without that object resting on, or being in any contact
whatsoever with, any normal support.

I have frequently observed this phenomenon with Eusapia Paladino
under satisfactory conditions of light and other tests. She has given
me several unimpeachable examples of parakinetic levitation, and, I
repeat, in full light. A detailed report will be found in the accounts
of seances at l’Agnélas, published in 1896 in the _Annales des Sciences

These accounts, however, give only the physiognomy of the regular
seances. We sometimes improvised experiments in the afternoon
with striking results; and I remember having observed under these
conditions a very interesting levitation. It was, I think, at about
five o’clock in the afternoon; at all events it was broad daylight
in the drawing-room at l’Agnélas. We were standing around the table;
Eusapia took my hand and held it in her left, resting her hand on the
right-hand corner of the table. The table was raised to the level of
our foreheads; that is to say, the top of the table was raised to a
height of about five feet from the floor.

Experiences like this are very convincing. It was utterly impossible
for Eusapia, given the conditions of the experiment, to have lifted the
table by normal means. One has but to consider, that she touched only
the corner of the table to realise what a heavy weight she would have
had to raise had she done so by muscular effort. Moreover, she had no
hold whatsoever of the table. And, given the conditions under which
the phenomenon occurred, she could not have had recourse to any of the
means suggested by her critics, such as straps or hooks of some kind.

In ordinary seances, the table used to be raised to a lesser height;
perhaps because we were seated, and could not therefore accompany it
very far. As a rule, the levitation was preceded by oscillations; the
table raised itself first on one side, then on the other, and finally
left the ground. Very often Eusapia, holding her neighbours’ hands,
would abandon all contact with the table, and make several passes above
it, when the table would rise, apparently of its own accord.

I have only obtained parakinetic levitation under really good
conditions with Eusapia. I have observed more decided movements without
contact with other mediums, but they have not given me levitations
properly so-called. I have once or twice obtained defective levitations
with a non-professional medium. The table drew near to her of its
own accord, and raised itself while touching her dress. This fact
occurred in the light, but the conditions under which I observed
it were imperfect. I may say the same thing of some levitations I
obtained at Bordeaux with rather an interesting professional medium;
these levitations took place in total obscurity, which rendered good
conditions of control impossible; besides no one held the medium’s
hands and feet, as had been done with Eusapia.

In a series of experiments which gave me some results worthy of careful
examination, I obtained the levitation of the table under slightly
better conditions. But some of the sitters cheated so barefacedly,
that I do not consider I ought to take any serious notice of the
parakinetic movements I witnessed there; although I have the impression
that everything was not simulated which happened in this group. The
unsatisfactory conditions under which I made this series of experiments
led me to discontinue them.

I consider that the levitation of the table, even with the contact of
the hands, is a difficult phenomenon to obtain under good conditions
of observation. Up to the present, Eusapia Paladino is, I repeat, the
only medium with whom I have been able to verify the phenomenon in a
satisfactory manner.

Her method is similar to the one I indicated and recommended to my
readers. Phenomena are often forthcoming when she raises her hand above
the table. Although I do not consider myself authorised to affirm
the reality of the effect this method appears to exercise upon the
phenomenon of levitation, I indicate it because the positive results,
which similar practices have given me in telekinetic experiments, lead
me to think it may also answer for parakinetic experiments. Let me
briefly explain this method. When the experimenters have their hands on
the table, and the latter begins to sway about from side to side as if
it were trying to raise itself, one of the sitters puts his hand above
the table, palm downwards, and approaches it to within two or three
centimetres of the top. Then he raises it very gently; while doing
this, the levitation sometimes takes place as though the hand drew the
table after it.

I recommend experimenting with as much light as possible. We must
not forget that nothing is easier to simulate than a parakinetic
levitation. Force of habit will soon teach us how to recognise
fraudulent phenomena of this kind, but it is nevertheless important to
know beforehand the principal systems of cheating. With the reader’s
permission I will indicate them.

The position, which the experimenters are obliged to assume around the
table when they are seated, has the consequence of almost completely
hiding their feet. As soon as the lights are lowered, it is nearly
impossible to exercise that mutual control which it is indispensable
should be exercised. Now, when the hands rest a little forcibly on
the table, it is very easy, especially with a light table, to glide
the point of a shoe under one of the legs of the table and to raise
it above the ground. This manœuvre is all the easier, as the swaying
of the table from side to side permits one to effect the movement,
without much fear of detection. Needless to say that hooks attached to
the wrist, or specially contrived bracelets, also permit of raising
and holding the table in the air. But it is easy to protect oneself
against fraud of this nature. Let every one stand up and join hands
in the centre of the table; the kind of fraud I indicate will then be
impossible. I myself have often obtained fine levitations in this way,
but unfortunately in obscurity.

I will point out still another fraudulent process practised at times
by professional mediums. It consists in the following manœuvre. The
medium places himself at the narrow end of a table,—in preference a
rectangular one—he promotes various oscillations, and when he has
succeeded in raising the end opposite to him, he spreads out his legs
in such a way as to exercise a strong hold over the feet of the table,
between which he is sitting. Once this pressure is exercised, there is
nothing more for the medium to do, in order to obtain a levitation,
than to lean his hands heavily on the table. It is easy to understand
how the table, maintained in position by the trickster’s knees,
executes a rotatory movement around an axis the points of which are
fixed by the pressure of the knees; consequently the table, becoming
parallel with the ground, appears to be abnormally levitated. This
simulation can be successfully realised, even when some one is seated
on a chair on top of the table; under the pretence of offering a better
condition of control, the medium takes the hands of the person on
the table, and finds in him the point of support required to promote
the rotation of the table around its axis. We should keep this kind
of fraud before the mind’s eye when seeking to obtain levitations,
especially if operating in obscurity, for then this trick is most easy
of execution.

Once again, I cannot too strongly warn experimenters against dark
seances: they are absolutely worthless when paranormal phenomena
are required. These ought to be obtained in full light; under such
conditions the levitation of the table is a verifiable phenomenon.


I will now relate my observations upon telekinesis, that is to
say, movements without contact. Telekinesis corresponds with
_l’extériorisation de la motricité_, discovered by Colonel de Rochas.
It is a phenomenon which I have taken particular pains to verify. I
have had exceptionally good experiences in this phase of manifestation.

I verified telekinetic phenomena with Eusapia Paladino first of all.
When operating with this medium, the seance-table was often elevated
without contact. As a rule, Eusapia formed the chain of hands around
the table without touching it; at the end of a few seconds, she would
make some passes over the table with her right hand, retaining her
hold of her right-hand neighbour’s hand at the same time: the table
would then leave the floor, and remain suspended in the air for several
seconds. It fell to the ground heavily as a rule. This experiment was
made several times in my presence under satisfactory conditions of

It was not only the table which moved with Eusapia: the curtains of
the cabinet were often thrown over the table, as if a strong wind
had blown them out. This phenomenon was particularly noticeable at
l’Agnélas, where we experimented in front of the curtains of one of
the drawing-room windows. These curtains were made of heavy silk
material, and nothing was more curious than to see them swell out and
suddenly stretch over us. The manner in which they were thrown over our
heads was peculiar; it was as though they had been blown out. Without
an adapted instrument of some kind, I do not think it was possible for
the medium to produce this phenomenon fraudulently with her hand. I
obtained the same characteristic movements of curtains with another

With Eusapia, the sitters’ chairs were frequently displaced, shaken,
raised, and even carried on to the table. I cannot conceive how Eusapia
could have obtained such results normally, considering the strict test
conditions exacted at l’Agnélas. We had been courteously acquainted
with the results of the Cambridge seances, and our attention had been
very specially drawn to the fraudulent practices of this medium. One of
us held her feet and her waist, while the mission of two others, seated
on either side of her, was to observe her hands. It is relatively easy
to know if we hold a right or left hand: it suffices to carefully note
the position of the thumb, which ought always to be turned towards the
observer if the hand be directed palm upwards, and which ought to be
turned towards the medium if the hand be directed palm downwards. It
is unnecessary to hold the medium’s hand tightly in order to be aware
of its position: an ordinary contact, intelligently superintended,
is quite enough; it is of course necessary to make sure of the
simultaneous contact of thumb and fingers. Now, in a certain number
of cases, the check upon the medium was good, when the chair of one
of the sitters was carried on to the table. It is also to be noted,
that Eusapia would have been forced to lean forward in a very marked
manner, in order to seize her neighbour’s chair and carry it on to the
table; the inclination of her body would have been easily perceived,
especially as the chair was first of all drawn away from under the
experimenter and then raised on to the table, manœuvres which occupied
some time.

Other phenomena of the same kind were, however, produced in a more
conclusive manner. I remember having seen the lid of a trunk, which was
placed behind the experimenters and to the left of Eusapia, open and
shut of its own accord.

Lastly, I obtained with this medium a very convincing phenomenon, which
M. de Gramont had already verified at l’Agnélas after my departure.
This is the movement at a distance of the scale of a letter-balance. I
made the experiment at Bordeaux in the presence of a few intelligent
and educated persons. We operated in a light which was strong enough
to enable us to read the faintly marked divisions on the scale.
This object had just been purchased by me, and I had drawn it from
its wrappings just prior to the experiment. Before our eyes Eusapia
repeatedly made the scale go down by raising and lowering her hands,
palms downwards. Eusapia’s hands were from three to five inches away
from the letter-balance; she performed the movements described without
abandoning her neighbour’s hands. We obtained the lowering of the plate
of the balance several times, each time varying the position of the
medium’s hands, placing them in front of the apparatus in such a manner
as to form a triangle of which the plate was the apex, and bringing
the medium’s hands together so that the angle at the apex became very
acute. This was done in order to obviate the possibility of the medium
producing the effect by means of a hair or thread between her fingers.
I must point out, however, that a hair or thread would have been

By turning her hands round, that is to say by directing them palms
upwards, Eusapia raised the plate of the letter-balance to its full
extent when it was weighed down by a pocket-book. By measuring the
oscillations of the index-needle, we were able to ascertain that the
force employed was at least one ounce superior in weight to that of the

The facts I verified with Eusapia, I was able to prove again through
other mediums, non-professional. On two occasions, I obtained fine
telekinetic phenomena in a public restaurant. I was in the company of
a good sensitive, a highly intelligent man, but one who knew little
or nothing of spiritism. The first time I was breakfasting with him;
we were seated at a fairly large table, near which was a small round
one; the cloth which was covering our table touched the small one. We
first heard several fine raps, and then the small table drew gradually
nearer till it touched the big one. There had been a displacement of
eleven inches. It was broad daylight, and the conditions under which
I observed this fact completely exclude—at least in my opinion—the
hypothesis of fraud. Another time we were lunching together. I was
seated at the left-hand side of the medium, and we were alone at our
table. Two chairs were facing us, while a third one was on the medium’s
right, facing another table. The chair to the right of the medium
approached the table, and then retreated at our request. The chair
_facing me_ reproduced the same movements. The light was so bright
that I was able to observe the hands and feet of the medium with the
greatest ease.


These plain, decided, easily observable, and well-observed facts are
among the most convincing I have received. The medium’s position, the
bright light, the full liberty of verification which was permitted me,
rendered these observations extremely convincing to me. The measuring
of the distances between the table and the object in movement excludes
the hypothesis of hallucination on my part. I therefore consider that
all possibility of fraud or hallucination was out of the question.

Previous to the movements, I had established contact with the chair
in front of me, by means of one of those wooden holders to which
newspapers are attached in restaurants and buffets. The chair in
approaching us pushed the newspapers towards us, and we were thus
enabled to watch the horizontal progression of the chair. The distance
travelled by the chair was from seven to eight inches. The objects
moved in a jerky, irregular manner.

I have been able to observe telekinetic table movements on many
occasions, and always in broad daylight. Perhaps the most curious
movement I have seen is the following: A lady and gentleman once did
me the honour of inviting me to witness certain phenomena which they
were often able to obtain when experimenting together; these phenomena
consisted in slight displacements of a table. They reproduced these
movements without contact in my presence. I then begged them to form a
chain with me around the table, always without touching it of course.
This table, a light tripod, the top of which measured eleven inches
by twenty-one inches, was in contact with the dress of my hostess.
After having executed several diverse gliding movements—approaching or
retreating at request—the table began to raise itself and to strike the
floor with one of its feet. We spelt out the alphabet, and received a
typtological communication. During this performance, the table was in
contact with the dress only. The dress did not hide the feet of the
table, the contact was simply lateral, and the table could be seen in
entirety. It was daylight, and it would have been easy to detect the
slightest movement of the dress. Moreover, the table raised one of its
feet which was not in contact with the dress. I did not try—because
I did not wish—to remove the contact of the dress, for I had often
observed this bulging out of women mediums’ dresses: as soon as the
garment comes near the table and contact is established, the movement
is produced. I have often checked the position of the medium’s feet,
while the phenomenon was happening, and I have been able to verify that
the slight contact was with the dress only, and not with the feet.
This curious fact has already been observed by Richet and others, in
connection with Eusapia Paladino. I will add that I have often obtained
movements without any contact whatsoever, even that of garments.

Another medium has enabled me to verify telekinetic movements of
curtains. They were less violent than with Eusapia, but more decided,
and enabled me to make some observations which are not altogether
lacking in interest. I was once experimenting with the medium in
question, in subdued light, contrary to my usual custom. It was in the
daytime, but we had closed the shutters of the window and drawn the
curtains together, in order to form a kind of cabinet. We were trying
to obtain luminous phenomena, which, however, were not forthcoming. The
medium had his back turned towards the curtains. I noticed that the
curtains stirred now and then. I drew the attention of an experimenter
to this, and at first we attributed the movement to a slight draught.
We drew the curtains together completely, and then observed that only
the curtain close to the medium stirred. It was light enough to see the
hands and feet of our medium, and we were able to convince ourselves,
that the movements were not normally produced by him. We then noticed
that the movements of the curtain corresponded with our movements.
The experiment was repeated with success twenty times. We varied the
movements and were able to observe, that the maximum disturbance of
the curtain occurred, when the medium rubbed the head of one of the

The curtain was not blown out over the table as with Eusapia. The
movements simply consisted of a species of undulatory trepidation,
whose amplitude did not surpass five or six inches: it was like the
sinuous undulations of a rope, when shaken at one of its extremities.

Such are the principal facts which I have been able to observe. I
will not have much to say concerning the method of operation, for I
have already sufficiently indicated how I proceed habitually. I have,
nevertheless, two important remarks to make.

The first is, that the presentation of the palm of the hand towards the
object, which we wish to displace, often brings about the movement. I
proceed in the manner I have indicated for a parakinetic levitation,
but instead of presenting the palm of the hand to the top of the table
and then drawing it slowly away, I direct it towards the side of the
table, and I act as though I wished to attract or repulse the table. I
have noticed that this practice gives good results.

The second remark I wish to make is, that when desirous of obtaining
movements without contact, it is helpful to form the chain around
the table by holding each other’s hands. Still, I do not think this
precaution is indispensable, for I have obtained telekinetic movements
without its aid. It seems to me, however, that it is a method to be
recommended, especially in the beginning of the seance.

I have just said that the chain of hands is not indispensable. And, as
an example, I remember having once verified some telekinetic movements
which interested me very much. I was conversing with a private medium:
by the way, all the telekinetic phenomena of which I have been
speaking, save those obtained with Eusapia Paladino, have been obtained
with private mediums. In the course of our conversation we pronounced
the name of a personification, whose irruption in our midst had been as
sudden as unexpected. This personification behaves like a cautious and
well-advised experimenter, and conducts himself as, I think, I would,
if I co-operated on the other side in the experiments I am speaking
about. Hardly had I pronounced this personification’s name than the
table began to glide gently across the floor. We questioned it, and
according to our request, it approached or retreated from the medium.
The movements of the table alternated with raps. I content myself with
merely stating this curious fact, without allowing myself to draw any
conclusions therefrom; it appears to me to offer a striking example of
that apparent spontaneity, which psychical phenomena sometimes present.

From the account I have just given of some of my experiments in
parakinesis and telekinesis, we may deduct the following propositions:
they resume, fairly exactly, the points of fact I have been able to

I. There is a certain correlation between the movements of the medium
or assistants and the movements of the objects used in experimentation.

II. Certain peculiar sensations accompany the emission of the force

III. That force has a probable connection with the organism of the

I. Nothing is easier to verify than the correlation existing between
the movements of the medium or sitters, and those of the object with
which we are experimenting. I may say, that almost without exception,
the movements of the operators are, in a way, reflected by the table.
I have already pointed out, that movements of attraction or repulsion
attracted or repulsed the table. I have remarked this peculiarity
on several occasions. When, in a seance, the presence of a certain
force manifesting itself in raps and oscillations without contact is
established, it often suffices for one of the sitters to direct his
hand towards the table to bring about its immediate displacement. By
proceeding in the manner indicated further back, I have noticed that
complete levitations could be obtained; but it is then necessary for
the sitters to put their hands on the table, while one of their number
puts one of his hands in the centre of the table, and palm downwards
slowly raises his hand. Levitations without contact can certainly be
obtained by the same method, by simply forming a chain of hands around
the table without touching it; but the results are less difficult to
obtain when the hands are laid on the table.

Levitation seems to me more difficult to realise than gliding
movements. I have frequently obtained the latter without contact, by
directing the palm of my hand towards the table, and trying to draw it
after me as though an elastic thread united the table to my hand. Under
these conditions the table seems to obey a kind of attraction.

I think I have some observations to make on this subject, but I cannot
formulate them with much certitude, and I only point them out in order
to provoke—if that be possible—the examination of these facts by
persons more competent than I am. First of all, it is not always the
medium who obtains the best results in the manœuvre I indicate. I have
seen some experimenters obtain more marked movements than the sensitive
himself. This is not generally the case, but the fact does not appear
to me to be rare. It is rather disconcerting, because those persons,
who in a seance manifest a force relatively greater than the medium’s,
cannot obtain any supernormal fact when alone; the presence of a medium
is necessary for the energy of their action to be manifested. I wonder
if this be not due to the medium’s inexperience. I never observed this
peculiarity in seances with Eusapia, although the sitters could, in her
presence, produce certain phenomena themselves. I have only noticed it
with the non-professional mediums, who kindly consented to allow me
to experiment with them. Nearly all of them had no notion whatever of
psychical experimentation; most of them were altogether ignorant of
the practices of spiritism; and many were frightened by their first
phenomena. These mediums have not the tranquillity and presence of
mind of myself and friends, whom a long experience has freed from all
kinds of bias. Perhaps, therefore, they do not operate under such good
conditions as we do, or as more experienced mediums would. Whatever may
be the reason, I note the fact observed.

A second interesting observation I have to make is the unequalness of
the radiations or emanations which appear to issue from the back or
palm of the hand. The action of the palm is decidedly more energetic
than that of the back; as an example, I will recall to mind the
experiment with the letter-balance. To lower it, Eusapia lightly moved
her hand from top to bottom, palm downwards; to obtain the contrary
movement, she turned her hand in the opposite direction. There are
certain obscure peculiarities to elucidate in this curious unequalness.
It is desirable to study it, for it is one of the rare points where
experimentation is really possible, in the studies of the kind I am
setting forth. It is to be noted, and this is I think a very important
consideration, that the innervation of the palm of the hand is much
more abundant than that of the back.

In what concerns movements without contact, I have not noticed any
unequalness of action between the two hands: the left hand appears to
act quite as well as the right.

In the third place I have verified a correlation, between the
intensity of the muscular effort and the abnormal movement. This is an
interesting observation, for I have not observed it when studying the
phenomenon of raps. As an example, I will cite an experiment which I
have often made. When the liberated energy is insufficient to provoke
movements, and the existence of a certain quantity of force has,
nevertheless, been ascertained, if the manœuvre of attraction does not
succeed, we can sometimes provoke the movement by shaking the hand
about at a certain distance above the table. This rapid movement of the
hand and arm appears to me to develop a maximum of telenergy.

Again, rubbing the feet on the floor, rubbing the hands, the back,
the arms, in fact any quick or slightly violent movement appears to
liberate this force. These manœuvres often bring about the realisation
of the desired phenomenon. It is evident that such manœuvres must
be employed with discernment; some of them might hamper observation:
_e.g._ rubbing the feet on the floor if telekinetic movements of
the table be desired, for this would render it difficult, if not
impossible, to check the position of the medium’s feet.

The breath appears to exercise a great influence; things happen as
though in blowing on the object, the sitters emitted a quantity of
energy, comparable to that which they emit, in quickly moving their
limbs. This is a strange peculiarity, one which is apparently very
difficult to explain.

A more thorough analysis of the facts permits us to think, that the
liberation of the energy employed depends upon the contraction of the
muscles and not upon the executed movement. The fact which reveals
this peculiarity is easily observed. When the chain round the table is
formed, a movement without contact can be procured by tightly squeezing
one another’s hands, or by resting the feet very firmly on the floor:
the former is by far the better process. The limbs have executed an
insignificant movement, and we may say that the muscular contraction
is about the only physiological phenomenon visible to observers; it is
nevertheless sufficient.

These ascertainments all tend to show that the agent, which is the
determining cause of movements without contact, has some connection
with our organism and probably with our nervous system.

Other reasons also tend to prove this. Thus it is that the number
of experimenters influence the phenomena to a certain degree. The
levitation of a table is easier to obtain with five or six persons
than with one or two. It is very difficult to arrive at any precise
conclusion on this point, for the observations I have read are
contradictory. In so far as my personal experience is concerned, I
have the impression that, within certain limits, the quantity of force
liberated varies in direct proportion with the number of experimenters.
Nevertheless, a certain number should not be surpassed if we wish to
experiment under good conditions. But I think that the diminution
of results may have other causes than the diminution or increase of
the number of sitters. I believe that if we could assemble a number
of homogeneous elements, we would obtain excellent results. This
would explain the so-called miracles, which are said to have occurred
in certain primitive congregations, where beliefs were strong and
convictions profound. This unity of belief and ideas, and the material
and moral regimen, to which every member of the community submitted,
determined that harmony which is a fundamental condition for the
production of good phenomena. It is in this way that historical and
contemporary ‘miracles’ may be explained. But in the present state
of society it is very difficult to unite six or eight persons having
identical ideas and submitting themselves to an identical discipline;
and I have always thought that the harmony of a circle was more
important than the number of its members.

I have just pointed out in detail certain purely physical processes
for provoking the production of paranormal phenomena. They give good
results when the force is feeble; but as soon as the force is abundant,
the simple manifestation of the will is sometimes sufficient to
decide the character of the movement; _e.g._ the table will move in
the direction asked for by the sitters. Things then happen as though
the force was handled by an intelligence distinct from that of the
experimenters. I hasten to say, that this seems only an appearance
to me, and that I have observed certain similarities between these
personifications and secondary personalities of somnambulism. But I
would not be giving an exact physiognomy of the facts observed, did I
not lay stress upon this curious trait of their character.

In this apparent union between the _indirect_ will of the sitters and
the phenomena there is a problem, the solution of which escapes me so
far completely. I feel that there is nothing of a supernatural order
in this union; I also feel, that the spirit hypothesis is altogether
inadequate to explain it; but I am unable to formulate any explanation.
This is one of those points of fact which I confine myself to pointing

The attentive observation of the relation, existing between the
phenomena and the will of the sitters, permits of the demonstration
of other facts. Firstly, the bad effect of discord between the
sitters. It often happens that one of them expresses a desire to
obtain a certain given phenomenon; if the requested phenomenon be not
immediately forthcoming, the same experimenter will demand a different
one. Sometimes, several of the sitters ask for several contradictory
things at the same time. The confusion which reigns in collectivity is
generally manifested in the phenomena, which, in their turn, become
vague and confused.

Still, things do not altogether happen as though the phenomena
were directed by a will, which was only an echo of the will of the
experimenters. The phenomena often manifest great independence, and
refuse decidedly to yield to the desires of the experimenters. By
admitting even Janet’s hypothesis on the secondary personalities
of mediums, stretching it from cases of somnambulism to cases of
telekinesis, a fact which is very curious from a purely psychological
point of view is to be met with occasionally: the secondary personality
sometimes manifests itself at the same time as the normal personality,
and a conflict between them is the result. I have seen this with
Eusapia, when, for example, she wanted to drink, and the table
violently opposed itself to her wishes.

To sum up my observations upon the first of my conclusions: There is
a close and positive connection between the movements effectuated
by the medium or the sitters, and the displacement of articles of
experimentation; there is a relation between these displacements and
the muscular contractions of the experimenters; a probable relation,
whose precise nature I am unable to state, exists between the will of
the experimenters and paranormal movements.

II. Certain peculiar sensations accompany the emission of the force
employed. I hesitated before deciding to formulate this conclusion,
because, notwithstanding the great number of observations I have
made, I am only able to present this proposition with much reserve.
The sensations I am going to describe are purely subjective, and may
consequently give rise to all sorts of error and illusion. Some of
these sensations may be explained by fatigue or prolonged immobility.
In spite of these causes for error, which are, I acknowledge, very
numerous and very real, it seems to me, that the impartial analysis
of the facts observed tends towards showing that illusion, error,
fatigue, and immobility do not explain them all.

I will put aside visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory
sensations; these are, moreover, very rarely observed. I will limit
myself to examining certain ill-defined sensations, which appear to
depend upon the general sensitiveness, and not upon the sensory organs
properly speaking. From the observations I have made, I am inclined to
discern five principal sensations:—

  (_a_) The sensation of cool breezes, generally over the hands.

  (_b_) The sensation of a slight tingling in the palm of the hand,
        and at the tips of the fingers, near the mounts.

  (_c_) The sensation of a sort of current through the body.

  (_d_) The sensation of a spider’s web in contact with the hands and
        face, and other parts of the body—notably the back and loins.

  (_e_) The sensation of fatigue after strong phenomena.

(_a_) The first is very frequently mentioned by experimenters. It is
an impression of coolness, or even of cold, which they generally feel
over the hands. I have not been able to settle with certitude, if this
sensation be purely subjective, or if an element of real objectivity be
blended with it. It is at times so marked, that I have some difficulty
in believing that it is altogether imaginary. Though it often precedes
the production of a motor phenomenon, it more frequently happens, that
the sitters feel it without any paranormal fact being forthcoming.

This peculiar sensation is similar to what is felt in seances with
Eusapia Paladino, when approaching one’s hand to the scar on her head.
What she calls the _soffio freddo_ is very decidedly felt: it is as
though a current of air were escaping through the scar. The reality of
this sensation with the Neapolitan medium makes me think, that the cool
breeze mentioned in other seances may have some objectivity. It is to
be noted, that I have observed this phenomenon with mediums, who had no
familiarity whatever with spiritistic seances.

Sometimes, the sensation of coolness or of cold extends to the whole
body. Mediums are more likely to feel this than other experimenters.
This sensation can bring on veritable shivering, in which case it often
coincides with a phenomenon.

(_b_) A tingling sensation may seem to be solely due to immobility, or
to other ordinary causes, such as prolonged contact of the fingers with
the table. I recognise that this explanation is true nine times out of
ten; but in certain cases it has appeared insufficient to me: either it
was felt too soon after the debut of the sitting to be due to fatigue,
immobility, or to prolonged contact, or its coincidence with certain
well-observed phenomena was too frequent to be fortuitous. Therefore
it appears to me probable, that there is some connection between this
tingling sensation and the emission of the force utilised.

What is the precise nature of this tingling sensation? I have carefully
questioned those who felt it—and nearly all experimenters feel it
sooner or later—and compared their impressions with mine. All the
descriptions tally: it is the sensation of a slight pricking, having
its seat in the palm of the hand and its maximum intensity on the
mounts at the finger-tips. Some persons compare it to the sensation one
feels, when lightly touching a mass of pin-points or a stiff brush:
others say it seems to them, as though their hands were pierced by
small holes, through which something was escaping. The latter sensation
is rarer than the former. This tingling sensation has no resemblance
whatever with the tingling of a benumbed limb.

The experimenters feel these impressions at the beginning of the
sitting; they do not always indicate a good seance, but I have noticed
that if phenomena are going to be received at all, these sensations are
generally perceived beforehand, although, as I say, they can also be
felt when phenomena are not forthcoming.

(_c_) The sensation of a current passing through the body is less easy
to describe. It is of a less precise nature than the preceding one.
The majority of persons I have questioned, compare it to the sensation
which is produced on them by the passage of an electric current. To
me this assimilation has generally appeared approximative. I have
sometimes felt this sensation, and can only compare it to a very slight
shiver, a kind of feeble vibration, running through the back and arms,
especially perceptible to me in my right arm. This sensation, as I feel
it, is not continuous; it takes the form of waves rapidly succeeding
each other. It is feeble, and, as a rule, I can only perceive it by
paying great attention to it; in a few rare cases I have felt it very

I think that in a great number of cases this sensation is purely
subjective, but—as with cool breezes—it does not always seem to be so.
It generally accompanies the production of phenomena relatively feeble
and continuous, such as raps and gliding movements. I have not always
felt it when strong phenomena were forthcoming; but then I was not
always in contact with the medium, and often, though I did not feel
anything, the medium mentioned having other curious sensations, which I
shall speak of presently. Besides, the chain must be formed in order to
perceive this sensation of a current with all the accompanying features
I have just described; but it is not necessary for the medium to be in
the circle. This sensation can also be felt by simply leaning the hands
on the table without joining them. This case bears an analogy to the
preceding one, if we suppose that the table, serving as a condenser for
the emitted energy, suffices in itself to establish a sort of indirect
contact with the experimenters. And things seem to happen as though
this were really the case.

If that be so, we can at once understand the relation, which appears
to exist between the mediate or immediate contact of the observers’
hands and the sensation of a ‘current.’ There is something here which
is very obscure and very delicate to analyse, but which, if the fact be
real, appears to me to indicate the circulation of some thing or other.
It is probable that what circulates is precisely the energy used for
the production of the abnormal facts I am relating. True, this is only
a hypothesis, and I again beg my readers’ pardon for having allowed
myself to be drawn into the field of conjecture. I hasten to return to

If the sensation of the ‘passage of the current’ be feeble, it is not
so with its abrupt interruption. When, for some cause or other—a slight
discussion between the operators, the medium’s emotion, a sudden
breaking of the chain—the sensation of the passage of the current is
interrupted, the interruption is easily felt. It may even cause a
sensation of sudden indisposition, if the interruption coincide with
the phenomenon in course of production. This is a curious fact, and
one easily observable. The sensation of the breaking of the current is
distinctly felt; and it is this which makes me think, that the feeble
impression of the passage of the current is not altogether imaginary.

The sensitiveness of different experimenters varies very much. Some are
most susceptible to these influences, others are not at all so, or only
very slightly. I remember having recently assisted at a seance with
one of my friends, a man well known in the fencing world. My friend,
although he is still young, had an attack of apoplexy some years ago.
He recovered, and has only retained a very slight hemiparesis of the
right side. Medically, he comes under the category of hemiplegics. He
appears to be extremely sensitive to the impression I call ‘the passage
of the current.’ He compares it to the sensation, which the passage of
an electric current produces upon him. He assured me that his right
arm was affected by it and benumbed. He told me that he experienced a
similar effect when passing near powerful dynamos; he could not, for
example, stay long in the gallery of machines at the French Exhibition
in 1900, because of the generators of electricity which were installed
therein. He had a disagreeable sensation in the right arm; the
uneasiness extended from the arm to the neck, and he was obliged to
leave the neighbourhood of these electrical machines. In the course
of the seance—a very uninteresting one, by the way—he declared that
he felt an identical sensation, and he was even compelled to leave
the circle. I relate this observation, for the person who made it is
an intelligent man, and quite capable of correctly analysing his own
sensations. It is needless to add that he was cool and self-possessed,
and observed everything free from bias, one way or another.

The medium’s sensations are generally much more accentuated than those
of the sitters. Sensitives say, they distinctly feel the passage and
the interruption of the current; I think it is a question of degree:
their sensations differ from the sensations of other experimenters only
in degree. There is, nevertheless, a category of sensations, which is
almost exclusively felt by the medium when a fairly strong movement is
forthcoming: this is the sensation of a sudden emission of force. One
of the most intelligent mediums I have come across describes it, as a
sensation of cramp in the epigastric region; it seems to him at times
as though he were on the verge of fainting. I have indicated a similar
sensation, which I myself once felt during a levitation obtained with
Eusapia Paladino. I felt the same thing on other occasions, but not
with the same intensity. I remember, for example, an experiment made
under the following conditions: We were holding a seance on a winter’s
evening; the light on this occasion, though feeble, was sufficient. We
had covered the table with a woollen cloth which fell over our knees,
and protected us slightly from the cold. Upon the seance table we had
placed a smaller one upside down. We touched the edge of the smaller
table. Having noticed that the small table appeared to be trying to
raise itself on one side, I endeavoured to increase the amplitude
of the movement by violently contracting the muscles of my arms and
legs. While I made this intense effort, we saw the little table slowly
lean forward, and turn itself over without coming into any contact
whatever with ourselves. When the phenomenon was accomplished, I felt
suddenly very tired. It is possible, that the cause of this fatigue was
simply the violent effort I had made to contract my muscles; still, I
point out this observation—which others of the same order appear to
confirm—because the correlation between the effort, and the sudden
sensation of fatigue is less regular than the connection between
that sensation and the phenomenon. Whatever may be the intensity of
the effort, the fatigue is felt with less abruptness and in a lesser
degree, when the phenomenon is not realised. I may add, that this
sensation only appears to me to accompany telekinetic and certain
luminous phenomena. It does not, as a rule, accompany raps or automatic
manifestations; the fatigue determined by these phenomena makes itself
felt progressively and more tardily. I will return to this however.

(_d_) The experimenters, and particularly the medium, sometimes speak
of a sensation, which they compare to that which is felt, by coming
into contact with a spider’s web. This appears to be rarer than the
above-mentioned sensations, and, so far, I have not noticed that it was
manifested with certain phenomena rather than with others.

This sensation of spider’s web is felt about the hands, the face, and
at times the back and loins.

I cannot give any other indication upon this curious sensation.

(_e_) I have already said a few words about the sudden sensation of
fatigue, which is felt when an important phenomenon occurs. I have
carefully examined the state of the assistants before and after the
seances, and I have invariably noticed that most of the experimenters
were tired after a successful seance. This fatigue appears to be in
fairly exact proportion to the results obtained. I speak of parakinetic
and telekinetic results; for it must be noted that the fatigue
determined by these abnormal movements is not identical—at least in the
case of the medium—with the fatigue which other phenomena appear to

Movements without contact entail a lassitude, comparable to that
ensuing after a long walk or prolonged physical exercise.

III. The last observation leads me to the examination of my third
proposition. This is, that the force employed in the production of
para or telekinetic phenomena has, probably, a connection with the
organism of the experimenters. The analysis I have just made allows one
to surmise the very serious reasons, which lead me to formulate this
conclusion so precisely. The first of these reasons is the correlation,
existing between the movements and muscular contractions of the sitters
and the paranormal movements. I have pointed out that this connection
appears, in reality, to reside in the muscular contraction rather than
in the free movements of the limbs: this is a first ascertainment.
There is yet another, that provoked paranormal phenomena are,
apparently, approximatively proportional to the movement executed by
the experimenter and the effort he makes.

These two first points appear to me to be acquired, and the correlation
observed between the muscular effort and the paranormal movement,
indicates reciprocal dependence between these two phenomena. We may go
further, and try to discover whether the relation indicated resides in
the fact, itself, of muscular contraction, or in the physiological fact
which provokes it—that is to say, the nervous discharge. Observation
tends to show, that it is with the nervous influx that the relation
pointed out appears to be made manifest. In support of this opinion I
will indicate:—

  (_a_) The attraction and repulsion which the palm of the hand
        exercises to the almost total exclusion of the back of the

  (_b_) The diverse sensations which I have analysed;

  (_c_) The influence of the mental condition and dispositions of the

  (_d_) Finally, the characteristic fatigue which follows successful
        seances, fatigue similar to that which is felt after
        prolonged or violent exercise, that is to say, exercise
        necessitating a considerable expenditure of nervous force.
        In a book, in which I am striving to exclude all manner of
        theory, treating, moreover, of a subject where theoretical
        hypotheses are premature, I cannot enlarge any further
        upon these considerations. I must content myself with
        pointing them out to the attention of those, who may wish to
        experiment in their turn.

Telekinetic movements are more difficult to simulate than levitations
of the table with contact. By operating in daylight, as I have done,
and with non-professional mediums, there is every kind of guarantee.
Besides, it is very difficult for even a professional medium to
trick telekinetic phenomena in full light; he must be a terribly bad
observer, who lets himself be taken in under test conditions of light.
The slightest link between the medium and the object in movement is
easily perceptible, and it is very easy to make sure, that no such
link exists. I recommend experimenters to force themselves to direct
the phenomena towards movements without contact. I do not advise them
even to begin with levitations with contact, for it is a manifestation
which is easily simulated; and I advise persons who are not accustomed
to seances, and who are not familiar with fraudulent processes, to
seek for telekinetic phenomena only. They are longer in coming, and
more difficult to obtain; but their demonstration will make it well
worth while taking pains to realise them, and spending time to wait
for them. When we work in good light, when we can pass our hands in
every direction round the article of experimentation, when we operate
with articles not belonging to the medium, which have not been in his
possession or handled by him, the hypothesis of fraud is inadmissible.
I do not speak of the honourability and good faith of the medium: these
are important elements of appreciation. But my principle is not to let
these considerations have any weight, when judging of a paranormal
fact. For, if the observation is to have any serious value, every one
ought to be able to verify the conditions, under which that observation
is made.

To sum up, the observations, I have so often made with diverse
mediums, have thoroughly convinced me of the reality of movements
without contact. I believe I have verified a connection between them
and the organism of the experimenters. There is a _synergy_ between
their movements and their muscular contractions and the forthcoming
paranormal movements. I have already spoken of this coincidence in the
chapter on ‘Raps.’

There is this difference, however, to be borne in mind, I have noticed
that, within a certain radius, the intensity of the raps is independent
of the proximity of the medium. The raps heard at a distance of ten
feet appeared to me to be as loud as those which resounded near him
or under his hands. I think it is not quite the same with movements
without contact. I believe I have noticed, that distance exercises
a certain influence over the latter. I have not seen any movements
without contact at a greater distance than that of three feet from the
medium, save, perhaps, the movements of the curtains of the cabinet.
I have observed that the action appeared to reach its maximum at
irregular distances. For example, I have obtained glidings of the table
by slowly drawing the hand backwards: the movements occurred, when my
fingers were about ten or twelve inches away from the table, and not
when they were closer to it. Many circumstances may intervene to modify
the action of distance, _e.g._ the possible accumulation of force at
the end of a given time.

I have often observed, that the intentional direction of a movement
executed by an observer influenced the movement of the table. I have
not been able to ascertain whether the determination of the direction
of the paranormal movement was due to the direction of the movement of
the experimenter’s hand, or to the manifestation of his will. I have
been prevented from solving this problem by the fact, that when the
energy is sufficient, the movements will occur in the direction desired
by the assistants. The movements seem to be produced by an intelligent

I have already pointed out this curious aspect of things, when
analysing the phenomenon of raps. Telekinetic movements present
themselves to observation in the same manner. They claim, as the
raps do, to be the manifestations of personifications. I related
an observation I was once able to make under some interesting
circumstances; out of seance hours, in broad daylight, in the course of
a conversation relative to a certain personification, the table near
which we were seated glided of its own accord across the floor, when
I pronounced the name taken by the personification. A conversation
ensued with the latter, by means of the movements of the table without
contact. I also related the typtological conversation without contact
which I had with the same personification.

These personages who call themselves the authors of telekinetic
phenomena present the same characteristics, as those who claim to be
responsible for the phenomenon of raps. I have nothing in particular to
say on this point at present.

The observation of the facts resumed in this chapter reveals another
circumstance which deserves pointing out. This is the apparent
conductibility of certain bodies for the force employed. I gave some
examples: table-linen, wood, dresses, etc. I related having often seen
women-mediums’ dresses bulge out and approach the table, when the
phenomenon was being produced; the sensitive’s feet remained visible,
and, in view of the conditions under which I have been able to test
this phenomenon, I consider as absurd the idea that an artificial hand
or foot was introduced, as imagined by Dr. Hodgson to explain away this
fact with Eusapia. I have frequently obtained movements without the
contact of the medium’s dress, but I have certainly noticed that this
contact facilitates the realisation of the movement.

Darkness favours it also; there is no doubt about this. Of course
I am putting aside the greater facilities obscurity offers for the
execution of fraudulent phenomena; and though, in this book, I have
only taken into account phenomena observed in full light, I have often
experimented in obscurity; and it appears to me certain, that total
darkness is one of the conditions for the maximum development of the
liberated energy.

The action of light is interesting to note. I have already stated
that the dynamic agency of psychical phenomena appeared to me to be
analogous with the nervous influx, and that the table seemed to play
the rôle of condenser. In that hypothesis, light would act like certain
rays of cathodic origin, which discharge the electricised condensers
placed in their vicinity. The study of the influence of light upon
telekinetic phenomena will certainly enable us to learn their cause.
The little we already know permits us to suspect that the telenergic
force ought to have some _rapport_ with light and electricity, at least
in that which concerns the amplitude of vibrations.

The study of this _rapport_ can only be taken up by an experienced
physicist. It will require delicate methods and special instruments,
and I earnestly hope it will soon be seriously undertaken.

As for those who confine themselves, as I do, to simply seeking whether
the facts be real or not, they should avoid working in obscurity. Light
may hamper the production of telekinetic movements, but it will not
prevent it. Experimenters should accustom themselves to holding their
seances in the daytime, or in a light which is sufficient to permit of
reading small print. Above all things, it is necessary to be personally
convinced of the reality of the facts; and this conviction is not so
easily acquired, when the experiment is made in obscurity.

It is difficult to imagine to what a pitch audacity of certain
tricksters will carry them. I once attended a series of experiments,
which interested me greatly from that point of view. The group included
three young men, one of whom is a most remarkable medium. The other
two, intelligent and well-educated young fellows, appeared to me to
have some medianic faculties, but I withhold my judgment, because they
tried so hard to cheat, that it would not be prudent to seriously
notice those facts, where fraud did not strike me as coming into play;
for it was always possible. These young men had nothing to gain by
cheating; in any case, I have not yet understood what aim they wished
to attain. The levitations of the table were splendid—in obscurity—and
all the furniture in the seance-room was more or less jostled about
and displaced. This was all very fine; it was all very well done; and
novices were easily taken in. The ‘spirits’ caressed or struck the
sitters, and I have seen sincere but inexperienced persons convinced
of the reality of facts, for which the legerdemain of one of the young
men present was alone responsible.

One of these youths, a medical student, presents symptoms of nervous
troubles, and will become a hysteric if he is not one already.
Notwithstanding my reproaches and exhortations, he could not stop
himself from cheating; and I have the impression that fraud is, in his
case, almost impulsive. I did not think I was authorised to examine
him from a medical point of view, but I observed him carefully. He has
manufactured spirit photographs very cleverly; they were wonderfully
well done, and only a professional eye would detect the trick. He
proceeded by double exposure.

With this group, as soon as the room was lighted up, the phenomena,
which were so violent in obscurity, ceased almost entirely. This
circumstance alone was suspicious; for the action of light is not
such as to constitute an insurmountable obstacle to the production of
telekinetic movements. Whenever phenomena are intense in obscurity, we
ought to be able to obtain weaker ones of the same kind in light. This
is a rule without an exception, as far as my experience goes.

Needless to add that the table, under the normal impetus which the
young men gave it, insisted upon total darkness. Now, in truly good
seances, on the contrary, I have always seen the table ask for light,
if purely motor phenomena were desired. Naturally, it is otherwise with
luminous phenomena, of which I am now going to speak.



The curious glimmering lights, which I am going to describe in this
chapter, can only be obtained in total obscurity. They are generally
feeble, and appear to be at the limit of visibility.

I will begin by describing a rather curious phenomenon, which is easily
observable. I am not quite sure of its objective reality; nevertheless,
I will point it out, and give my reasons for doing so.

Certain hand-movements are necessary to bring it into evidence; we must
proceed in the following manner:—

1. Face the light.

2. Put a dark object with a mat surface between yourself and the light.
Do not place the object so as to screen the light from the operators,
simply place it between the experimenters and the light. An arm-chair
covered with dark velvet will suit; place it so that its back is turned
to the light.

3. Open the hands, put them against the dark background, palms turned
towards the chest. Join the hands at the finger-tips; withdraw the
hands very slowly, always keeping the fingers stretched out.

4. Place behind you the person with whom the experiment is to be made,
his head on a level with the operator’s head, that is, in the centre of
the plane occupied by the hands.

Under these conditions, when the fingers are drawn apart, seven or
eight out of ten persons will see a sort of grey mist uniting the tips
of the fingers. The person with whom we are experimenting must not be
told what he is expected to see; the experiment would be vitiated by
introducing therein a suggestive or imaginative element.

Three-fourths of those with whom I have experimented perceived a slight
mist, passing from the tip of one finger to another or corresponding
finger on the other hand. I myself perceive this mist very plainly:
to me it resembles cigarette smoke; it has the same greyish colour,
the same appearance, but much more tenuity. The majority of people see
it in this way; but I have met with some, who fancied it a different
colour. Those who see the effluvium as coloured are generally gifted
with psychic faculties. I have not been able to come to any positive
conclusions on this point; but I have some reasons for believing
that the coloured perception of what I call, for want of a better
term, ‘digital effluvium,’ indicates a highly psychical temperament.
A young doctor, who has remarkable medianic powers, sees it as red.
I also found two persons who saw it as yellow. I have many reasons
for thinking that one of these two is a medium; but he refuses to
experiment, and declares _a priori_ that psychical phenomena are—to
use his own familiar expression—all ‘humbug.’ The other person is
an eminent magistrate. I have found some people to whom the digital
effluvium appears as blue. On the whole, from the experiments I have
made I reckon that out of 300 people of both sexes, 240 to 250 perceive
the effluvium; 2 to 3 out of 100 see it as blue. I have found two who
saw it as yellow; and one who saw it as red.

I did not remark that the colour of the effluvium was different from
one hand to the other; but in reality I did not question much on the
subject, as I was most anxious to avoid anything like suggestion. I
have never therefore made inquiries upon the possible difference of
coloration in the two hands; but I think it would have been pointed out
to me, had it been perceived.

Generally the effluvium appears to unite the tips of the fingers of
each hand. But it is not always so. Often two or three digital effluvia
converge into one of the fingers of the opposite hand, instead of
uniting the corresponding fingers.

I noticed that the meteorological conditions and variations of
temperature had a decided influence upon the visibility of the
effluvia. When the seance-room is very cold, or when the weather is
damp or rainy, the effluvia are scarcely perceptible. They appear to
reach a maximum intensity in summer, when the temperature is high, and
especially when the air is sultry. When the weather is threatening
and stormy, the effluvium is thick and clearly visible to me; when
the storm has burst, and the atmosphere has cleared, its intensity

It often varies according to the individual. Some people give forth an
effluvium, which is more visible than that of others. I have not been
able to seize any relation between the appearance of the effluvium and
the sex, age, and temperament of the various persons with whom I have
experimented; on the contrary, a relation seems to exist between the
state of health or fatigue and the emission of this mist; it is rarely
visible, when the person who emits it is tired or ill.

Such are the principal remarks, which observation of this curious
phenomenon has allowed me to make. I have summed them up carefully,
but I ought to say, that to me the reality of this appearance does not
seem to be demonstrated. After all it may only be due to an effect of
contrast. The conditions under which it is observed with the greatest
convenience are those, where the hands stand out clearly on a dark
background. In drawing the hands away one from the other, the image of
the fingers persists perhaps on the retina, and gives rise, maybe, to
an illusion; but this explanation is not always sufficient.

There is an _optima_ distance for the realisation of this effluvium. As
a rule the effluvium appears denser when the fingers are fairly close
together; as they move away the density diminishes; it becomes thinner
and more attenuated. But if the hands cease to move, the effluvium
disappears. This is the case as long as the tips of the fingers are
not more than 2 to 3 centimetres away. If the movement of withdrawal
ceases when the finger-tips are within 10 to 15 centimetres proximity,
the effluvium remains visible for a longer time. This is what generally
happens, but the facts have not always the same regularity. There is,
in psychical phenomena, the same diversity and variability, which are
observed in other biological phenomena.

I have said that the effluvium persists longer and is best seen when
the finger-tips of each hand are within 10 centimetres proximity. Under
these conditions, the movement of separation being suspended, the
slight mist, which I described, persists several seconds. Sometimes the
effluvium is clearly visible, when the fingers are 25 to 30 centimetres

I am inclined to think, that this effluvium is not altogether an
imaginary phenomenon. It seems to me to exclude, at least, the
hypothesis of the persistence of the retinal image; for the false image
does not last so long as the effluvium, under the conditions mentioned
by me.

There is yet another explanation. This is that the eye automatically
prolongs the clear impression of the fingers on the dark background
separating them. This would be analogous to the expansion by
irradiation of clear images upon a dark background.

Other reasons, however, make me discard this hypothesis. In the first
place, why do some people see the supposed false image vividly coloured
and not white? Secondly, if the phenomenon is of retinal origin,
why—instead of being thinner, as is the case—does not the image
reproduce the form of the finger? Why is it a blue-grey colour and not
black, as should be the complimentary image of a finger which appears
to be white?

Why is not the phenomenon produced with certain objects coloured in
white? In vain might we experiment with them as with the hands; they
would never leave effluvium between them. There is an exception,
however: if we hold cotton or wood in the hands, we will often perceive
this appearance of effluvium. It is not obtained, as far as I have
been able to judge, with metal objects. From this, it may be inferred,
though I do not affirm it, as my experiments are not sufficiently
conclusive—that wood and cotton conduct the effluvium as well as flesh.
This seems to me very probable with cotton; by holding a crumpled
handkerchief in the hand, and presenting it to the background as I have
recommended doing with the fingers, we will notice a slight mist round
the cotton, which seems to soften off the outlines.

Finally, another more serious reason for considering these effluvia
as probably objective, is the frequent absence of parallelism between
the effluvia of corresponding fingers. I have often observed distinct
divergencies, and it sometimes struck me as though the will might be
able to influence the direction of the effluvia to a certain extent.
It often happens that all the experimenters see the effluvia under the
same aspect. The phenomenon can show great variability in appearance,
the middle finger of one hand, for example, becoming connected with
two, three, or four fingers of the opposite one.

As the aspect of this effluvium usually appears the same to the
observers, there is room to presume that its existence and direction
are not illusory phenomena. In the contrary case, we would have to
suppose collective hallucination, or a most improbable transmission of
impression, which my personal observations do not dispose me to admit.

The phenomenon, which I have called ‘visibility of the digital
effluvium’ for the sake of convenience, is very easy to observe. I make
great reserves on its objectivity, although I think its reality is more
probable than its non-existence. It is most desirable that competent
experimenters should verify these observations, which I only present as

I would have no doubt whatever of the phenomenon, if the accounts of
the persons with whom I experimented had always concorded as to the
direction taken by the effluvia; but it was not so. Though there is a
good proportion of corroboration, I have often observed contradictions
in the descriptions which were given me.

Although the digital effluvium does not yet appear to me to be
demonstrated, I think it will be interesting to point out the analogies
it presents with phenomena already mentioned by diverse experimenters,
notably by Reichenbach and de Rochas. These two experimenters operated
under very different conditions to mine. The one placed his sensitive
in profound obscurity and left him there for a time; then he made him
look at living beings, flowers, magnets, ends of cords, and metal
wires, opposite ends of which were in the sun; his sensitives generally
saw—especially with human hands, crystals, and magnetic poles—a kind
of flame or luminous mist surrounding them, or issuing from them.
Rochas has chiefly experimented with sensitives plunged in deep sleep;
every one has read of his experiments,—the blue and red coloration
which his sensitives gave to the gleams of light which are emitted by
magnetic poles, and the right and left sides of the body. My conditions
of experimentation were very different from those under which
Reichenbach and Rochas worked. I took the first comer and operated in
broad daylight. But my observations tend to confirm theirs, at least in
what concerns the radiation of something at the finger-tips.

Another interesting observation remains to be made. I have shown that
very probably linen, and perhaps wood also, were easily impregnated
with that substance of which the effluvium is constituted. This fact
may be compared with those I pointed out, when dealing with telekinetic
movements: particularly the approach of a small table which touched
the cloth of the table at which I was breakfasting; the approach of
the chair which was touched by a wooden newspaper-holder lying on the
table; and lastly, the curious bulging out of mediums’ dresses, which
grazed the feet of the table in some cases of telekinesis. Without
forming any premature hypothesis, it is allowable to look upon the
digital effluvium as having some connection with the force, which is
the determining cause of movements without contact.

The effluvium is visible under other conditions, which are worth
noting. It can be seen, when passes are made over a person or an
object. The appearance is again similar to smoke; it is a bluish-grey
mist, which seems to form prolongations of the fingers.

The effluvium is not a luminous phenomenon. I have described it in
order to be complete, and not to omit a fact which is interesting for
more than one reason. It can, moreover, be seen by certain subjects in
the dark. Here is an interesting experiment, which I have sometimes
realised, but which presents certain difficulties.

One of the mediums, with whom I experimented, appeared to have an
exceptional acuteness of vision in reference to the effluvium. He
saw it escape from the hands of the sitters, and spread itself over
the seance-table. Desirous of finding out what the medium would see
in total darkness, I put out all the lights, and invited the medium
to touch my hand if he saw it. The experiment did not succeed every
time, but the proportion of success was superior to probabilities; but
as the medium might have been able to guide himself by the sense of
hearing, I thought of testing him by touching the table. The sensitive
quickly recognised the finger-tips, claiming to perceive a kind of
milky phosphorescence at the spot where my finger was. To make doubly
sure I tested him still further by tracing letters on the table with
the tip of my forefinger, taking the precaution to avoid all sound. The
medium read nearly all the letters drawn. I then traced some words; he
read them off also. I was able to make him read words of five letters;
he was not able to read longer words, he recognised the last letters,
but declared that the first were blotted out. Nearly all the words of
three or four letters were read correctly, and the errors were often
significant: _e.g._ the word ‘foi’ became ‘loi.’ Now, in a running
hand-writing, it suffices to suppress the lower part of the ‘f’ for the
letter thus amputated to take the aspect of an ‘l.’ I cannot say if
the sensitive really saw what he claimed to see, or if he were guided
by the sound of my finger. I am obliged to trust to his sincerity on
this point; but I have reason to believe that this medium is sincere
and honourable. He is a man of education, and is not a professional
medium; he follows a liberal profession, and does not wish his name to
be mentioned. I have much esteem for him. On the other hand, his senses
would need to have been extraordinarily developed, to have enabled him
to recognise the movement of my finger from the very slight sound it
may have made. No sound was perceptible to myself. I wrote on a small
varnished table of blackwood, on which my finger glided easily and
silently. Again, the errors made now and then—by reading ‘loi’ for
‘foi,’ etc., seem to prove that the sense of sight and not sound was in

Sometimes it happens, that it is no longer the effluvium which is
perceived, but the whole hand itself becomes phosphorescent. Rays come
and go like gleams on the back of the hands, or on the fingers, and
sometimes, but very rarely, on the face or body of the sitters. These
phosphorescences and the digital effluvia appear to me to belong to the
same order of phenomena. Frequently, they are but fleeting gleams seen
at the finger-tips, when the hands are resting on the table. Though
I and others who have experimented with me, have often verified this
appearance, I have some doubts upon its reality. In obscurity, the eye
tires quickly, and phosphenes soon appear; still, I have nearly always
observed, that these glimmering lights were perceived by other persons
in the same spot I saw them in.

I have rarely observed those glimmering lights, some people see, on the
garments and faces of sitters.

I have not yet been able to verify, in a positive manner, the
phosphorescence of the hands in ordinary seances; though observers
in whom I have the greatest confidence, have assured me that they
had remarked it. We must not lose sight of the fact that the eyes
tire quickly; when the obscurity is not complete, the white hands are
vaguely perceived on the dark background, the eyes, growing tired,
accentuate the contrast between the two shades, and the palest has a
tendency to appear slightly luminous.

Sometimes, but very seldom, I have observed sparks which seemed to
coincide with raps. This phenomena appears to have an objective
reality. I was not the only one to notice these sparks; others saw them
also; their apparition at the moment the raps were heard was constant.
These circumstances permitted us to think, that the phenomenon ought to
have an objective substratum of some kind.

However, I have observed luminous phenomena which were decidedly
objective. At Choisy, we obtained them under special conditions, which
Rochas has indicated, and which are rather significative. These lights,
which were very brilliant, looked like large phosphorescent drops
gliding about on Eusapia’s bodice, after having floated for some time
in the air. This phenomenon did not appear to me to be very convincing,
because during the sitting, a strong odour of phosphorus permeated the
room. When Eusapia had left, I returned to the room, where I found MM.
de Gramont and de Watteville, who were as inquisitive as I was. We
searched but found nothing on the floor.

Our suspicions had been aroused by the phosphorescent odour, which was
diffused in the room. Since then, I have noticed it in seances, where
fraud seemed to be impossible. This odour is characteristic; it is
more like the odour of ozone than that of phosphorus. It is like the
odour perceptible in the vicinity of static electrical machines when in

These flitting lights can be easily imitated. A prudent experimenter
ought never to lose sight of the fact, that it is possible to employ
diverse substances in order to produce phosphorescent effects. The
use of phosphorescent oil, for example, will give fictitious luminous
phenomena. I remember a seance at which the medical student, of whom I
have already spoken, was present. I noticed that one of his finger-tips
shone for a moment. I afterwards learnt, that this young man had a
phial of phosphorescent oil in one of his pockets. On another occasion,
long narrow lights were, from time to time, seen on his body. I think
these were produced by matches or straws dipped in the luminous liquid.
Phosphorescent preparations, as a rule, have the advantage of only
becoming very luminous, when they are shaken about in the air; for the
lights, which are given forth by the phosphorus they contain, are only
produced when there are phenomena of oxydation.

Objects coated over with sulphide of calcium, strontium, or baryum,
become luminous in obscurity, when they have been previously exposed
to light. This is the principle of luminous dials, match-boxes and
candle-sticks. There are also other substances which permit of
simulating luminous phenomena.

I was once present at some seances, which were very curious from the
point of view of the luminous phenomena which I observed. These seances
were of the series of which I have already spoken. The two young
tricksters, some of whose misdeeds I have related, were present, and
as one of them is an excellent chemist, it is possible that the superb
phenomena I observed were not altogether authentic. I confess, I do not
see how fraud was committed; but, given the conditions under which I
experimented, I think I ought to abstain from expressing a favourable
opinion upon the reality of the facts observed. I will describe them
succinctly, indicating the phenomena which could have been simulated,
and those which did not appear to be so.

The medium is a young man of twenty-four years of age, of good family,
and fairly well-educated. He has been well brought up, and his manners
are good. He is a commercial clerk. He is a tall, strong, well-built
young man, apparently in robust health. He is intelligent, but does
not strike me as having a very strong will. He is easily influenced
by his comrades, and was particularly so by the medical student whose
irrepressible tendency to cheating I have already spoken about. The
student had a great ascendency over the medium, and, in spite of my
advice, induced him to experiment too frequently, almost daily. It
was easy to foresee the result: the imprudent student and medium
both presented visible nervous troubles at the end of a few weeks.
The seances were held in the evening with a round table which had a
double top; they began in the light, but, in obedience to the behests
of the table, total obscurity was speedily obtained. I have always
thought that obscurity was asked for by one of the two tricksters,
who was then able to give himself up to his heart’s delight, and do
as he pleased with his confiding group. They had invited some of
their friends—students or doctors—and I was extremely sorry for these
new-comers, in that they should have been present at such suspicious

To be quite exact, I ought to say that, though I was convinced these
young men frauded, I was not always able to bring it home to them. I
generally seated myself beside the most turbulent of the two young men,
and the hand which I held never once left mine. But the other hand and
the other trickster had more liberty, and some of my co-experimenters
verified fraud.

Moreover, I suspected fraud, because of the appearance of the
phenomena, which were of an extremely rough character. The table,
raised from the floor, was at times thrown against the observers with
so much force, that they have occasionally been seriously hurt. This
never happens with true phenomena. The thin top of the table was
broken; a ‘phenomenon’ which was caused by exaggerated pressure or
violent blows destined to imitate loud raps. Real raps never break a
table; its feet are sometimes demolished, when the levitated table
falls abruptly, but this is the only damage I have ever observed at
serious seances.

Notwithstanding the more than suspicious conditions under which we
operated, I am not sure that all the phenomena were simulated. In these
seances, there seems to have been a mixture of much that was false with
a little that was true. A longer observation would have permitted me to
come to a more definite conclusion, but the seances were discontinued.

Of the phenomena, the authenticity of which appeared probable to me, I
will mention raps. Many of them were obtained in the light and without
apparent contact; they had all the aspect of the authentic raps I have
so frequently observed. But owing to insufficient control, I do not
feel able to affirm their reality.

As for luminous phenomena, I cannot help wondering how some of them
could have been simulated. In order to give a precise physiognomy of
the conditions under which they were observed, I will briefly relate
one of the most curious seances of the series.

There were about a dozen persons present. Five or six sat down to the
table, and raps were obtained, now on the table, now on the floor.
Obscurity was asked for and gradually given. The phenomena increased
in intensity as the darkness deepened. When we could no longer see,
the usual levitations, violent knocking, and displacement of furniture
had their own way. The seance was discontinued for a few minutes, and
resumed towards eleven o’clock. The table requested that the medium
might be placed in the cabinet, which was in a corner of the room, and
made of white curtains. The medium was placed as requested. The table
then asked the experimenters to withdraw from the vicinity of the
cabinet; when giving these directions, the table appeared to strike the
floor of its own accord. It told us to seat ourselves at a distance
of 6 feet from the cabinet, and then asked us to sing. We droned out
the air, ‘Frère Jacques, dormez-vous?’ At the end of ten or fifteen
minutes, milky-looking phosphorescent lights were seen on the curtains
of the cabinet; then luminous hands appeared. One very luminous hand
rose rapidly outside the curtains and seized a bell, which had been
hooked on to a nail at about 7 feet 6 inches above the floor. This hand
was visible to every one.

Then the milky-lights were again seen, larger and more brilliant
than before. One of these lights, the outlines of which were very
indistinct, floated about the room, and withdrew to about 9 feet
from the cabinet, along the wall opposite the one near which the
experimenters were grouped. This light appeared to be 4 feet above the
ground; it was about 3 feet high by 10 inches broad, and appeared to
float in the air. It remained visible for several seconds.

Afterwards, other lights were seen near the curtains; finally, one
extremely brilliant light appeared above the curtains near the
ceiling. This light was about 1 foot 6 inches high by 1 foot 2 inches
wide. The outlines of this luminosity were more clearly defined than
those of the light which floated about the room.

These phenomena were clearly visible to every one. Some of the
experimenters thought they could see shadowy forms in these lights.
As for me, I could distinguish no human appearance therein. The first
light I described gave me the impression of a luminous pillar; the
second, whose outlines were better defined, awakened no idea of any
definite form. We ceased experimenting shortly after this seance.

Were they genuine, these phenomena? I am not sure, but I cannot
help wondering how they could have been simulated! There are some
distinctions to be made between these appearances, of which I have
only described the principal. The luminous hand, which unhooked the
bell, was well defined: it was very distinct and one mass of light. I
quite understand that suspicion might fall on the medium; he might have
covered his own hand with some phosphorescent substance, and, thanks
to his height, unhooked the bell himself. Let us try to find out what
substance he could have used. We must, I think, put aside the idea
of phosphorescent oil. This would have left traces on the medium’s
hands and clothes, on the curtains of the cabinet, on the bell, on the
wall where the bell was hung. Now there was nothing of the sort. The
medium’s hands and garments bore no trace whatsoever of oil. Besides,
the light which is given forth by preparations which have phosphorus as
their basis, has neither the duration, nor the uniformity of the lights
I observed.

Is it a preparation with a basis of sulphides of the calcium class?
Sulphides, in order to be phosphorescent, ought to be in a dry state.
They are usually reduced to a powder, and this powder is pasted on to
the substance we wish to render luminous. The appearance of a hand
might be given by a glove done over with sulphide of strontium or
calcium. But I need not say how difficult it would be to put on this
glove. True, the glove could be stuffed with horsehair, dipped in
paste and sprinkled over with sulphide in the desired position. The
phenomenon which I observed, could then be explained in the following
manner: The medium might have moved the luminous glove about with one
hand, and unhooked the bell with the other. This is possible, and yet
it does not appear to me to explain what I saw.

In any case, this explanation ceases to be satisfactory, when we
consider the case of the floating lights. I know of no system which
allows of imitating the immaterial, fugitive, diaphanous appearance
of these curious lights. My chemical knowledge, it is true, is very
rudimentary; and one of the young men I speak of is a clever chemist;
it may be he knows of a more perfect process than those just mentioned.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that a piece of cloth done over with some
luminous preparation or other, would not have the aspect of the light
which I saw floating about the room. I think it is very difficult
to reproduce these vague, ill-defined lights, which are more like a
luminous cloud than a phosphorescent material object.

The outlines of the last appearance I described were well defined,
and in its upper part reminded one of the folds of material. Some
of my co-experimenters thought they recognised a masculine, bearded
head therein, covered with a turban or burnoose. If we had been in
the presence of an artificial phenomenon, the luminous object should
have presented the same aspect to every observer. It was not so in
reality; for some of us could distinguish no recognisable form in
the luminosity. I know that the imagination can be the cause of much
visual illusion. It makes us complete imperfect images, and see faces
and forms in plays of light and shade which only faintly recall these
forms and faces. I have not observed the curious phenomena which I
describe, under conditions sufficiently precise to enable me to affirm
their objectivity, and I can only repeat what I said just now, that
their reality appeared probable to me, in spite of the frauds of
which I knew, and those which I suspected; in spite of my intellect’s
prejudice, I was favourably impressed.

I will add that the luminosity, which floated about the room, moved
about up and down, and lasted for several seconds. That part of the
room where it floated about was blocked up with the table, chairs and
other furniture, which had been taken there from the recess adjoining
the seance-room. All the experimenters were grouped together in one
part of the room. None of them left their seats during the production
of these phenomena. Had the medium left the cabinet and manœuvred
the light we perceived, he would have knocked against the scattered
furniture. We kept the strictest silence, when luminous phenomena were
being produced, and we would certainly have heard the medium moving
about, had he left the cabinet. Now, we heard no noise whatsoever;
neither of the footsteps he would have been obliged to make, nor of the
furniture which he would have knocked against, unless he be able to see
remarkably well in the dark.

Such are the observations I have to present upon this curious seance.
One of my friends, an eminent savant, well acquainted with this kind of
phenomena, had, like myself, the impression that those I have depicted
were real.

Moreover, in other seances this medium gave us similar luminosities.
I will even point out that one of the suspected sitters—the medical
student—the clever chemist—having been eliminated, and the experiments
taking place at the house of one of my medical friends, we observed
globular lights on the curtains of the cabinet behind which the medium
was sitting. These lights were much smaller than those I have just
described—they were as large as a walnut—but were easily observable.

I hope to be able to resume my experiments with this medium; for to me
he seems to be one of the most powerful I have ever seen. It is really
a pity he should have fallen into the hands of imprudent and ignorant
young men; they have abused his force, worn him out, and made him ill.
Judiciously handled, he might have become extraordinary. It remains to
be seen, if the bad conditions under which he has been developed have
not had the effect of destroying the rare faculty he possessed. I will
return to these considerations later on.

The lights produced by this young man were the most brilliant I
have ever seen. Their colour has been well compared to the light of
the nebula by one of my co-experimenters, a distinguished amateur
astronomer. This experimenter had a good spectroscope, but he has never
been able to succeed in analysing, spectroscopically, the lights we
have seen. They were too unsteady and fugitive.

I now come to some visual phenomena, which have not the same luminous
feature as those I have been speaking about, but which present another
very curious feature: they give representations of objects or of human

I have not seen any phosphorescent human forms such as certain
observers affirm to have seen. I have said that the Bordeaux medium,
in presence of whom I had seen such fine luminous phenomena, had also
given us a luminous hand. At Choisy in 1896, I saw the same thing with
Eusapia. There was enough light in the room to see Eusapia’s hands.
Under these conditions—the hands of the medium being not only held by
her right- and left-hand neighbours, but visible all the time on the
table—we perceived at about 1 foot 9 inches above Eusapia’s head a
slightly phosphorescent hand, which shook about in the opening between
the two curtains. This appearance was very distinct, and was perceived
by all those whose positions allowed them to see it.

This was not the first time I had seen the form of a hand. In 1895,
at l’Agnélas, I saw a hand and bare forearm, which showed itself in
profile above M. Sabatier, seated in front of me, and touched him
on the forehead. At the same moment, M. Sabatier mentioned having
been touched on the head. My perception was clear and decided; I
was positive of having seen this hand and forearm. I remember that
my co-experimenters—two of them at least—hesitated to admit my
observation, because I had been the only one to see it. In 1895, I was
not so accustomed to seances as I became later on, and I was inclined
to listen with deference to my friends’ remarks, but I was so positive
of the reality of my observation, that it was inserted in the report.
Subsequent experience has multiplied observations of this order: they
recall to mind the round head seen at Carqueiranne. The hand and
forearm which I saw at l’Agnélas were black and opaque. They were
projected on to the clear background of the room where we experimented;
we were seated in such a way that only I could see them.

I did not see anything quite like this in 1896; for, it will be
remembered that the hand we saw at Choisy was slightly phosphorescent,
and presented quite a different appearance to the dark, solid-looking
arm and hand which I saw at l’Agnélas. I remember one day at Choisy,
when M. de Gramont was in the cabinet behind Eusapia, the latter told
us to blow hard. At the same moment, M. de Gramont saw the shape of a
pair of bellows.

At Bordeaux, in 1897, we again saw black, opaque forms under excellent
conditions. A few extracts from the reports of these seances will be
found in the Appendix. I refer my readers to this for the detail of the
material conditions under which we operated. I will simply indicate
here that the room, in which we held our seances, is lighted up by
a very large bay-window. The persian shutters were closed for the
seances; but the gas-light, from the kitchen premises, was reflected
through the persians on to the window-panes, and cast a faint light in
the seance-room. In consequence of this reflection on the panes, the
window formed a kind of clear background, upon which the silhouettes of
certain black forms could be seen by at least half of the experimenters.

We all saw these forms, or rather the form; for it was always the
same form which was shown, the profile of a long bearded face with
a strongly arched nose. This appearance is said to be the head of
‘John,’ Eusapia’s habitual personification. It is an extraordinary
phenomenon; and the first idea which presents itself to the mind
is that of a collective hallucination. But then it remains to be
asked, why it was manifested under the very special conditions I have
indicated. Moreover, the care with which we observed this curious
phenomenon, and—it seems to me superfluous to add—the calm with which
we experimented, render the hypothesis of hallucination a most unlikely

The hypothesis of fraud is still less admissible. The head we perceived
was of natural size, and measured about 1 foot 6 inches from the
forehead to the extremity of the beard. If the phenomenon is to be
attributed to fraud, we must explain how Eusapia hid the necessary
mask on her person; we must also explain how she could have drawn it
out unknown to us, and further, how she manœuvred it. Eusapia did not
go into trance at our Bordeaux seances. She sometimes saw the profile
in question, and manifested her satisfaction at being able to look on,
for the first time I think, at the phenomena which was produced through
her. The light from the window was sufficient to enable us to see
Eusapia’s hands. I have no need to say that her hands were carefully
held by her right and left controllers. If this profile had been
concealed on her person, it would have been absolutely impossible for
her to manœuvre it. The profile we observed appeared to form itself at
the top of the cabinet, at a height of about 3 feet 9 inches _above_
Eusapia’s head; it descended slowly and placed itself just above and
in front of her; at the end of a few seconds it disappeared only to
reappear later on under the same conditions. We always carefully
assured ourselves of the relative immobility of the medium’s hands
and arms; and the strange phenomenon I relate is one of the most
irreproachable I have ever verified, so utterly incompatible is the
hypothesis of fraud with the conditions under which we observed it.

Two or three times a slightly luminous phenomenon was noticed. It
was formed on the curtain, near which my friend M. de Pontaud and I
were sitting; it was a whitish, milky-looking spot, visible to every
one, at least to those whose positions allowed them to perceive it
conveniently. This luminosity appeared to shrink up quickly, and
disappeared on a level with our heads.

Evidently I have no explanation to offer. The apparition of these human
forms raises a problem, which is far more complicated than the problem
of raps and movements without contact, and I think the study of this
problem cannot be profitably undertaken at present. Nothing authorises
me to consider these curious phenomena as demonstrating the exactness
of the spirit hypothesis; I think their cause lies elsewhere than in
the intervention of the spirit of a deceased person; but I am not
yet able to formulate any rational opinion on this subject. However,
I will point out the close connection, which appears to me to exist
between the production of these forms, and the production of raps and
movements without contact. These relations tend to persuade me, that
all these phenomena belong to the same order, and depend upon the
same agent, and the same cause. Before, however, analysing summarily
the observations on which I base this opinion, I ought to describe a
series of experiments, which have given me most curious results. These
experiments were made with a medium, a man of deep intelligence and
refined nature, of whose medianity I have already spoken, pages 74,
79, 81-2, 101-3. I obtained with him: (_a_) raps, faint at first, but
very clear and well verified, with and without contact; (_b_) movements
without contact of feeble amplitude, but very well observed; (_c_)
faint luminous phenomena; (_d_) finally, the production of diverse
forms. The first two categories of facts have already been dealt with,
I will now describe the last two. They confirm, to a certain extent,
the experiments already related in this chapter.

The first time luminous phenomena were seen, we were holding a seance
in a small room, but were not using a table. The medium perceived
several lights and even faces on the wall in front of him. These lights
and faces were not visible to me. Sometimes I thought I saw lights, but
extremely faint ones, and at the limit of visibility; I think these
lights were subjective. And yet, I have often asked the medium where
he saw the light, to describe its shape, and the direction it took if
it moved about, and I have remarked that the indications given by the
medium concorded with my own observations; but, curiously enough—and
it is my duty as a witness to point this out—I could often see these
lights, just as well when my eyes were closed, as when they were open.
This circumstance seems to me conclusive, and makes me think these
lights were subjective. In reality, I do not think that the light
emitted by the gleams I saw was of such a nature, that its rays could
penetrate through closed eyelids. This interior visibility should exist
in every case; now this is not so, and I have only observed it with
this particular medium, though I had once or twice suspected it in a
former series of experiments.

On the other hand, I cannot consider these visions as hallucinations,
unless I also admit that this entoptic hallucination is collective. But
then, why are not these illusions met with in other seances? Why is the
manifestation of lights or forms accompanied by abundant raps without
contact? These raps immediately precede the apparition of the forms,
and behave as though they were signals destined to draw the attention
of the observers. This is a coincidence which is not fortuitous, for it
is almost constant.

The first time that a more or less definite form was observed with
this medium, no seance was being held. The medium saw on the wall the
apparition of one of his ‘personifications,’ and the word _curtain_
traced in luminous letters. The sensitive could not interpret the
meaning of this word, for he had never been present at any spiritistic
seance. I told him to continue observing, for I thought I understood
the meaning of this message. I immediately arranged, as well as I
could, a kind of cabinet in a corner of the room with the help of some
black curtains. We darkened the room and sat down before a table, the
medium having his back turned to the cabinet. In a short time we heard
raps on the table, the medium’s chair, the floor, and on the wall
inside the cabinet. The medium, interested, turned half round towards
the cabinet, when all at once, after the production of some very faint,
flitting lights, I perceived the beautiful face of a woman, pale, the
eyes up-raised as though in prayer. The eyes and hair were black; the
hair was parted in the centre and dressed in the style of fifty or
sixty years ago. The face was draped in a white veil which also covered
the head, forming a kind of frame for the face. The physiognomy was
of the sweetest, and of rare beauty. The apparition appeared to be
slightly luminous, of a whitish, milky hue. It showed itself to the
left of the medium, but high above him, near the ceiling. It remained
visible for a very short time. Prudently interrogated, the medium
gave me the exact description of the face I had just perceived. The
details concorded in every way. Inquiry as to who it was elicited the
information, given in raps, that it was the face of one of the group of
four fairies of whom I spoke on page 81.

It is not often I have had such a clear vision. I have, indeed, very
rarely obtained this curious phenomenon: still, I have observed it
distinctly three times with this medium. The second time, the faces
seemed to be only partially materialised; I only saw portions of faces
unknown to me: the medium recognised one of these faces. The third
time, the medium saw the apparitions plainly, and described them,
but I saw only faint lights; suddenly, however, I saw a face, the
forehead, eyes, and nose, reproducing the traits of a very dear friend
I had recently lost. The medium saw the whole face. He did not know my
friend when he was alive, but he has had curious and strange posthumous
apparitions of him under conditions which it would be interesting to
relate, but, unfortunately, I am not authorised to do so completely.

It is not only the forms of human beings which I have seen with this
medium, but also those of animals, more or less strange. I cannot
help thinking that these are due to imagination. But the curious fact
is, that there is concordance between the medium’s visions and the
appearances perceived by the sitters.

Finally, under the same conditions, I once saw a copper lantern, of
well-defined shape, and in a particular position. This vision was
also seen by the medium in the same way. Here, again, I cannot form
any satisfactory explanation. I am inclined to think, that I am the
victim of hallucination, though the circumstances do not favour that
hypothesis. The vision of the lantern is analogous to that of the pair
of bellows seen by M. de Gramont with Eusapia. I refer my readers to
what I said further back concerning the concordance between the raps
and the apparitions; this simultaneousness existed with the apparitions
of animal-like forms and material objects, as well as with those of
human faces. This is a fact which is of a nature to set aside the
hypothesis of pure illusion. But then!

I have mentioned these strange experiences in order to be complete and
sincere. I do not conceal the fact, that it costs me much to relate
this, because I do not find herein the conditions of precision, which
my experiments in telekinesis, for example, appeared to present. I
will add that I do not try to obtain these phenomena of more or less
complete materialisations. I suffer them: for the facts do not proceed
altogether according to the liking of the experimenter. I cannot say
that these apparitions leave me indifferent; on the contrary, they
interest me immensely; but I have the impression of being in the
presence of a fact, which is too complicated to be usefully observed.
It is not the same with raps and telekinesis: and I put forth all
my efforts in order to restrict my studies and researches to these
phenomena; for I have the feeling that we may be able to arrive at
discovering the conditions of their production. I imagine—perhaps
wrongly—that, henceforth, we can submit them to scientific discipline;
I think that the study of raps and telekinetic phenomena is the
necessary preliminary to the study of other, less comprehensible,
facts. Therefore, I have devoted myself almost exclusively to their
observation; nevertheless, I did not think I was able to dispense
with relating everything I had seen. I am entirely ignorant of the
signification of these diverse appearances; I may have made a mistake,
though I do not think so, but it seems to me I have not the right to
make a choice in my experiments, to withhold the one and relate the
other. It behoves those who read me to put themselves in the same
conditions under which I was placed, and observe in their turn. I
confine myself to relating what I have seen. I will add that certain
facts have appeared to me more certain than others, but my rôle of
witness ends there.

The ascertainments I have made in what concerns luminous phenomena,
permit me to give some useful indications. The first concern the
methods of operation; the others are conclusions which I have drawn
from my own experiences.

When seeking for simple, luminous phenomena, it is advisable to proceed
as I have done for parakinetic and telekinetic phenomena. The sitters
group themselves around a table, leaning their hands on it, or form
a chain round the table without touching it. Needless to say, the
obscurity ought to be as complete as possible. Under these conditions,
lights can be obtained; and it is in this way, I observed the woman’s
face I have described.

The very fine lights which I saw with the young Bordeaux medium (pages
141 and following) were obtained in another manner, which seems to
me better still. It is, moreover, the method adopted by professional
mediums, perhaps because it favours the execution of fraudulent even
more than genuine phenomena. This method consists in placing the medium
in the cabinet and forming the chain, either round the table or in a
half-circle, in which latter case the chain is not closed.

I have noticed that music and singing in common have a favourable
influence on the production of the phenomena. This circumstance is,
however, another cause for suspicion, because the noise of music and
singing can drown that made by the medium in moving about.

Although I cannot consider the reality of the luminous phenomena
observed by me as being so well established as that of certain other
phenomena, I will none the less give the result of the ascertainments
I think I have made thereon. I indicate them with every reserve; but
the analogy they present with the ascertainments I made relative to
raps and movements without contact, appeared to me useful to point out.
It is one of the reasons which made me believe in their probability
first of all; it is also the indication of the presumable existence of
some general law governing all these phenomena, however different in
appearance they may be.

The most important observations I have to make are, as before, the
synchronism between the muscular action and the phenomenon; the
tendency to personification; the physical fatigue experienced by all
the experimenters after a successful seance.

The reasons why I conclude in the existence of this synchronism, are
based upon a great number of observations made with Eusapia and other
mediums. It seemed to me, in my experiments with Eusapia Paladino,
that this latter preferred the breath to any other movement for the
production of lights. This conclusion is uncertain, because I have not
had occasion to examine many luminous phenomena with the Neapolitan

My observations were more precise with the Bordeaux medium. Rubbing
the hands together, rubbing the feet on the floor, breathing hard,
squeezing hands tightly when the chain is formed; all this provoked the
apparition of the curious luminosities I have spoken about. True, these
were also produced spontaneously; but the movements executed appeared
to me to have an action upon their manifestation.

Here again, the relation with the muscular contraction rather than
with the movement itself seemed to me to exist, but I could not verify
this point with the same certitude as with raps and movements without

At all events, all reserves made for fraud, which I recognise possible
though improbable, chanting or singing in common has appeared to
me to have a favourable influence on the phenomena. I have had
occasion of verifying this effect of intoned words; I am unable to
give its explanation, although we may suspect what it is likely to
be. I will simply recall to mind the rôle which intoning or singing
plays in religious ceremonies and in magical operations: the words
‘incantations,’ ‘enchantments,’ are very significative, from that point
of view. The erudite will remember the magic songs of the 11th eclogue
of Theocritus, and of the 8th of Virgil. The Hindoo magicians intone
their mentrams. Nothing is more widespread than this belief in the
supernatural virtue of singing, of the cadenced and modulated word. As
the supernormal facts which I relate appear to me to have been known
from the earliest times—however ill-interpreted they may have been—I
am inclined to believe, that the superstitions relative to the magical
power of song are not without a foundation of truth. This appears most
improbable, and no one is more astonished than myself, to find myself
admitting this possibility. I admit it nevertheless. I am inclined to
think, that the greater part of popular beliefs have some foundation;
the particle of truth which they contain is often very feeble, because
ignorance, fear, imagination mask it under accessory and unreasonable
beliefs, which smother it. There would be many interesting analogies to
point out on this subject, if I had not systematically forbidden myself
all manner of theoretical commentary. All the same, I will remark that
the most worthy spiritists recommend singing or music during seances. I
will cease, for I can only repeat here the considerations which I have
already presented concerning the relation between the nervous energy,
whatever it may be, and luminous phenomena; the connection appears to
be very close indeed.

The physiognomical aspect of these phenomena is similar to that of
sonorous and motor phenomena: It tends to personification, and it is
probable, that imperfect luminous forms are but rude outlines of a
real form. That form is not always human, although it appears to be so
as a rule. I have given examples, where the appearance was that of an
animal or of an object. I have never been able to converse with the
form itself, when it was human; but I have experimented with mediums
who thought they conversed with the forms. These all claim to be the
spirits of deceased persons. What renders this unanimity particularly
interesting is that one of the mediums, with whom I have observed the
finest phenomena of human appearances, is by no means a spiritist.

Is he a victim of hallucination? It is possible; but then how are we
to explain the fragment of truth which exists in his hallucination?
I am well aware that impersonal memory is an inexhaustible source of
knowledge, quite unknown to the normal personality; but there are
cases, where the hypothesis of hypermnesia is scarcely acceptable. Here
is an example. The medium, of whom I spoke a little while ago, has
several times had the impression that a deceased person unknown to him,
but known to me, entered his bedroom. The apparition was preceded by
a noise of approaching footsteps, the door appeared to open, and the
form entered. The form sat down at the foot of the bed, caressed the
medium’s arm, and took his hand. The sensitive was alarmed at these
visions, which he looks upon as hallucinations, and does his best to
rid himself of. At the end of three or four visits the form ceased to
show itself, to my great regret, for I had therein the occasion of
making an observation of the highest interest. Unfortunately, I had not
sufficient influence over this remarkable sensitive, to induce him to
lend a hand to the development of this phenomenon. The person reputed
to appear had a very characteristic walk, and it would be sufficient
for me to describe it, for those who knew the man to recognise him at
once; the vision had the same characteristic walk. Again, my friend
wore whiskers. But the vision wore a full short beard, a detail which
the doctor who attended him in his last illness verified; my friend did
not shave towards the end of his life. I was not aware of this.

The medium, living in the same town, could have known the man; but if,
contrary to his assertions, he had known him, how could he have seen
him wearing a beard such as he never used to wear? Interesting detail!
since the apparition, purporting to be my friend, wore a beard just as
my friend had worn, not in his lifetime, but at the time of his death.

Further, the apparition appeared to manifest a desire to speak. It
tried to reassure the alarmed medium; but the latter always got up
and turned on the light, before the phantom had time to speak. Now
at that moment, an event was brewing, of which I would have been
thankful to have been warned. The incident occurred, and the apparition
was not seen again. This is an _ensemble_ of facts of a nature to
arouse attention. I have not been able to submit the case to thorough
analysis, and I give it with reserve. It is the nearest approach to
classical spiritism, which I have personally met with, but to me
it does not seem to be convincing under the conditions in which
I observed it; for the incident I refer to could easily have been
foreseen by the medium.

Other personifications manifested themselves to this medium, but their
character of apparent identity is less certain. One of them, with
curious energy, insists that he is the person he claims to be: namely,
Chappe d’Auteroche, a savant of the last century. His name appears in
Larousse’s Dictionary. The personification gave his name correctly, as
well as the date of his death and where he died. He gave a Christian
name which is not in Larousse, Adhémar instead of Jean, which the
Dictionary gives. It would be interesting to know, if this name Adhémar
is mentioned in other dictionaries. I will add that the apparition
expresses itself in old French, but with a Norman accent. The medium
hears it say ‘moué’ for ‘moi,’ ‘étoué’ for ‘était,’ etc. Now Chappe
was born at Mauriac in Auvergne; therefore I cannot explain why his
apparition should have a Norman accent. So far, however, I have not
carefully analysed this personification.

I would like to have been able to experiment, more than I have been
able to do, with the sensitive through whose medianity I have observed
these curious facts. Perhaps the publication of this book will interest
him, and induce him to give himself up to an attentive examination.[6]

      [6] See Chapter vi., ‘Recent Phenomena, etc.’

It must not be concluded from what I have just related, that the
intervention of my friend and of Chappe d’Auteroche appears to me to
be real. Nothing in my experience authorises me to entertain this
opinion. I relate these facts, because the emergence of these two
personifications occurred at seances where I was present, and because
they are closely associated with phenomena directly observed by me.
I think we can draw a conclusion from these phenomena: it will be
noticed that in the manner in which these visions are produced, there
are certain features, which recall to mind the symbolisation and
dramatisation of dreams. This indication is only temporary; I have not
enough elements of appreciation to be able to formulate it with any
degree of certitude, but I point out this feature to experimenters,
who, more favoured than I, may have opportunities for observing
analogous phenomena with more convenience and for a greater length of

I will terminate these remarks by the recital of another fact of
the same order, which I witnessed at Madame Agullana’s. It occurred
during an afternoon seance at her house. The medium, and two or three
persons whom I did not know, were seated round a small table. One of
the visitors was a small landed proprietor near Bordeaux. This visitor
came for the first time; he was accompanied by a rural constable, whom
I knew. All at once Madame Agullana said to the newcomer, ‘I see some
one, who says he is your uncle; he wears a cap; his face is red; he
has a long beard; he has sandy-coloured hair; he smokes a short pipe;
he seems to have something the matter with his right arm, it is bent
across his chest.’ ... She also gave other details. The visitor did not
speak, a fact of which I took pains to assure myself.

When the details were all given, the visitor said that if the
apparition claiming to be his uncle, was really his uncle, would he
kindly say how he was addressed in his family. The table dictated
typtologically, ‘Touton L. P.’ The stranger then said that Madame
Agullana had given him the exact description of a second cousin[7] who
had been dead for some months, and who, because of his inveterate habit
of smoking, was nicknamed ‘Touton-la-Pipe.’

      [7] In France, a male cousin once removed is sometimes called
      ‘oncle à la mode de Bretagne.’

I have seen several sincere, trustworthy people receive facts of the
same kind through Madame Agullana. There is notably the history of
the discovery of a lost debenture, which is curious and interesting;
I was able to follow the different phases of this discovery. The
indication appeared to emanate from the deceased husband of the
owner of the debenture. Notwithstanding the interest which these
observations presented, I cannot analyse them seriously, for they are
insufficiently proved. The character of the medium has always seemed
to me irreproachable, and her good faith above all suspicion; but the
circumstances do not permit of an exact judgment. Neither do I consider
myself authorised to affirm that the personality of ‘Touton-la-Pipe’
was quite unknown to the medium. The discovery of the debenture is
perhaps only a coincidence. I have, however, related these facts to
indicate the possibility of an order of research of a particularly
suggestive nature. Some of the more influential members of the English
Society for Psychical Research, Myers, Lodge, Hodgson, Hyslop, have
entered upon these studies under excellent conditions of observation,
and consider that they have been in communication with their deceased
friends. I have not had the same chances, and my own experiences tend
to make me adopt a different way of thinking. It is very possible that
my colleagues are right, and I am wrong.

Finally, the third statement which my observations permit me to
make, is that the production of forms and luminous phenomena is
accompanied with much fatigue on the part of the observers. I have
already frequently pointed out this circumstance. On the occasion
of the production of the facts described in the present chapter, I
noticed certain peculiarities, which I will point out to the attention
of experimenters. Fatigue is not felt in an equal degree by all the
sitters. Some seem to feel none at all; and, as a rule, these latter
are not good auxiliaries. It looks as though some persons were not
capable of emitting the force employed. Others, on the contrary,
emit it with great facility and tire quickly. I have not been able
to study the relation which may exist, between the temperament of
these two kinds of sitters and the production of the phenomena; but
I have the impression, that this relation ought to exist; it appears
to me in a function of the organism rather than in a _rapport_ with
the mental condition or moods. This makes one think of the belief
professed by spiritists concerning incredulity. In several spiritistic
groups failure is attributed to the presence of incredulous sitters;
I am persuaded, that the beliefs of experimenters have nothing at
all to do with the production of the phenomena observed, though it
is certainly necessary to experiment seriously and without bias. I
touched upon the results of my observations in that respect, when
speaking about the harmony of the circle. The influence of bias would
be explained, if the apparent consciousness of the personification
could be considered as composed of the elementary consciousness of the
sitters. This hypothesis does not appear to me to be demonstrated;
but some of my experiments have made me think of its possibility, and
I consider it ought to be submitted to examination. Things seem to
happen, as though the nervous influx of the sitters created a field of
force around the experimenters, and more especially the medium: Each
experimenter would then act as a dynamogenic element, and would enter,
for a variable part, into the production of the liberated energy.
This energy would act beyond the apparent limits of the body, under
conditions analogous to those governing its intracorporal action; that
is to say, it would remain, to a certain extent, in connection with
the superior or inferior nervous centres, conscious or unconscious. In
this case we could understand, how the energy appears to depend, to
a certain extent, upon the will of the sitters or the medium. We can
even explain that it should appear to manifest an independent will,
if its production were due to the activity of the nervous centres,
the action of which is independent of ordinary consciousness. In that
hypothesis, none of the sitters would recognise the trace of their
normal personality in the evolution of the phenomena; and this is what
generally happens. Sometimes, however, the medium or one of the sitters
has the feeling, more or less precise, that a phenomenon is about to
take place. Eusapia Paladino often announces what is coming. In this
case the nervous energy, employed to realise the phenomenon, would be
in connection with the conscious nervous centres of the medium only;
and she would appear to the sitters to be subjected to an extraneous
personal will. Eusapia attributes it to ‘John,’ who seems to have the
characteristics of a secondary personality. Such appears to me to be
the genesis of the personification, in the greater number of cases
observed by me. There are others, however, where this explication is
less satisfactory.

I do not hide from myself how difficult it is to admit the hypothesis
I have just formulated. We are ill-prepared to consider the _psychic
force_ as identical, at least in its essence, with that which
circulates in our nerves; and we are no better prepared to believe,
that this force may be able to serve as a vehicle to a part of our
personal or subliminal consciousness, or to think that it can preserve
any connection with our psychic centres, when it acts beyond the limits
of the body. Nevertheless, it looks as though it were really so, in the
greater number of cases.

These data suffice to render comprehensible the possible mechanism
of raps and movements without contact. It is not even necessary to
suppose that the nervous force acts beyond the limits of the body, if
we admit that the experimenters create around them a sort of magnetic
field. The nervous force would reach a maximum of potentiality in the
experimenters or in the medium; the objects placed within the field
would have a different potentiality; according to the conditions, we
would have phenomena of attraction or repulsion.

In this way we could understand motor phenomena. Raps are less easily
explained, unless we consider them as facts analogous to electrical
discharges. The rap would then be equivalent to the noise of a spark;
it would be invisible, though in some cases it might be perceived.

Lights and forms raise problems much more difficult of solution. They
may be susceptible of the following explanation: we will suppose that
particles of a very attenuated substance, _e.g._ the ether or any other
kind of rarefied matter, existed capable of being acted upon by nerve
force; they would become charged, and dispersed, according to the lines
of force, and these lines would be determined by the action of nerve
centres, and would take form corresponding to those particular centres.
They would have a certain plasticity, if I may thus express myself, and
this plasticity would be in connection with those centres, possessing
preponderating physiological activity.

If this connection existed with the superior ideative centres, we would
have intelligible, definite forms, such as faces of human beings, heads
of animals, and objects; should connection with the inferior centres be
established, undefined forms only would be obtained.

Their luminosity would depend upon the state of condensation of this
rarefied matter of which they are constituted. Those subject to lesser
condensation would be the most luminous; and it might happen, that a
form of greater density would be surrounded by a luminous atmosphere of
lesser density.

One could, in this way, explain the relative independence of the forms,
and phosphorescent nature of the pictures.

These are the hypotheses which might be made. I indicate them with
much reserve, simply to show the theoretical route towards which my
experience tends to direct me. I set them forth summarily, without
discussing them in detail. I do not conceal from myself the fact that
my ideas are far from being definite, and that the hypotheses I timidly
express would fare badly under rigorous analysis. I have found no
better, and I have the impression that they ought to contain a particle
of truth.

I beg to be excused for having again infringed upon the rule I imposed
on myself, for having presented purely theoretical considerations,
which I am the first to acknowledge as premature. I have not seen the
curious facts I relate without trying to penetrate into their cause,
nor have I been able to resist the desire to make known, not what is a
definite opinion, but what is for me a hypothesis worth examining.

Besides the phenomena described in this and preceding chapters, I have
observed others which might be compared with them, for they seem to me
to have a certain connection with them. I refer to tactile sensations
such as touch, contact, and stamped impressions, etc. I will briefly
describe them.

I. It is only with Eusapia Paladino, that I have felt tactile
sensations in a positive manner. With this medium certain sitters,
and especially those seated next to her, have the feeling of being
touched on the back, on the arms, and hands, on the head and body.
The phenomenon is usually produced under the following conditions.
Eusapia’s hands being or appearing to be held by her neighbours, the
latter see the curtains come near them, and then feel themselves
touched. The touch is sometimes given without any movement of the
curtains. The sensation of the touch varies: it is now that of a finger
which is thrust into the thigh, now of a large hand resting on the
back, now fingers pinching you, or seizing you on the head, the neck,
chin, etc. Numerous examples of these contacts will be found in the
report of the l’Agnélas experiments (_Annales des Sciences Psychiques_,

In our seances at Choisy 1896, the same phenomenon was often
reproduced. In that series we were careful to have as much light as
possible; we arranged a system of different coloured lights. One of the
lights which gave us the best results was that of a lantern, the glass
sides of which were replaced by parchment. It gave a softened yellowish
light. From the private account of these seances I take the following
extracts. Seance of the 8th October:—

‘Eusapia’s hands are still held and seen on the table. The Colonel then
feels several touches, and a large hand rubs him through the curtains,
on the top of his head.’ ... A more curious phenomenon happened before
that; but only one of the medium’s hands was visible.

‘At the medium’s request the lamp is turned in such a way as to
lessen the light, which, however, is still sufficient to enable us to
distinguish faces and hands by their whiteness. MM. de Rochas and de
Gramont change places; Eusapia’s hands are seen and held by General
Thomassin on the left and M. de Gramont on the right. Eusapia frees
her left hand for a moment, brings a part of the curtain on to the
table, and glides her hand underneath it, in order to shelter it from
the light; the General regains possession of the hand—under the
curtain—and does not abandon it any more. The other hand, held by M.
de Gramont, remains visible to every one. Almost instantly, General
Thomassin feels on his thigh—and through the curtains, which bulge
out in consequence—slight contacts; then the sensation of a pinch;
afterwards, he distinguishes the contact of a woman’s small hand,
followed by the contact of a man’s large hand. After that, he is
struck with force on the shoulders and head by a large hand, outside
the curtains. Every one hears the sound of the blows, and sees the
hand; but every one sees the hand in a different fashion. M. de Rochas
hardly sees it at all; General Thomassin sees it as greyish green; M.
Watteville and M. Gramont see it as grey; M. Maxwell as greyish yellow.
Eusapia determines different movements of the fluidic hand by mimicking
them with her right hand, which is held by M. Gramont in sight of every

This observation is interesting, but at first glance it appears very
suspicious, because of the care taken by the medium to hide her hand
under the curtain. General Thomassin held her hand well; I do not doubt
but that it was Eusapia’s hand he held; but let us accept for a moment
the hypothesis of an artificial hand, which Eusapia had adroitly given
to the General to hold. This is Dr. Hodgson’s explanation. In that
case, how would the hand, which touched General Thomassin, have been
able to move over his back and head and strike him without any movement
of the left arm being perceived? It is to be noted that the light was
sufficient, and that the hand which gave the touches was seen by nearly
all the observers. That hand was outside the curtains. I remember
another seance held in the afternoon, in the course of which touches
were lavished on all the experimenters, even on those who were furthest
away from the medium.

In the three series of experiments, 1895, 1896, and 1897, made with
Eusapia, I have had occasion of repeatedly verifying the phenomenon of
touch. It appeared certain to me in a great number of cases. But it is
a suspicious phenomenon, because of the extreme facility with which it
can be simulated.

I remember a series of fraudulent experiments, in the course of which
several touches were given. The first touches, through the curtains,
made me think of the contacts obtained with Eusapia; but obscurity
reigned complete, and I have reason to believe that the medium’s
left-hand neighbour touched me with a stick. I was also touched on the
knee, but it was by a very natural hand, which belonged to one of the
experimenters, a man of inferior intellect. Inexperienced people are
easily deceived by these contacts; however, the marked difference which
exists between the falsidical and the veridical is quickly perceived,
when we have become accustomed to these phenomena. I do not advise
experimenters to put themselves under the conditions in which these
facts are observed, as they are very unfavourable for the examination
of the phenomenon. These conditions, as far as I have been able to
judge, are:—(1) the formation of a chain around a table, the medium
being seated with his back to the curtains of the cabinet; (2) an
extremely feeble light, or none at all. It is only with Eusapia that I
have obtained touches with light, and even then the light was of the

These touches, besides having the inconvenience of carrying little
conviction with them, because of the conditions under which they are
obtained, have also the disadvantage of impressioning persons who
are easily moved and frightened. I have seen very courageous people
affected by these touches. Therefore we must not try to obtain them,
until we are already familiarised with the observation of physical

It is to be noted, that the phenomenon of _attouchement_ presents
the characteristics pointed out in those I have already examined. In
the first place, we note the correlation which exists between the
movements of the medium and the contact. I gave an example just now,
when relating the phenomena of which General Thomassin was the object.
The movements of the right hand which touched him were mimicked by
Eusapia’s right hand, which was visible, held by M. de Gramont, and
seen by every one.

Here is another example, taken from my notes, in which synchronous
movements were executed by one of the experimenters:—

‘John’ (the secondary personality) ‘then asks M. Rochas, who holds
Eusapia’s left hand in his right hand, to put his left hand on
Eusapia’s neck, the fingers stretched out as though in the act of
magnetising; he then tells him to lower his fingers. M. Rochas executes
the movement several times, and each time M. Maxwell, who holds the
medium’s right hand, feels synchronous touches on his right shoulder,
which is, at the very least, eighteen inches away from the medium.’
This fact may be compared with those I indicated when dealing with
raps and motor or luminous phenomena. We see how constant the relation
is between the medium’s movements and the phenomenon. This is a first
general ascertainment. If I might venture to use the expression,
I would say that we are in the presence of one of the first laws
governing the production of these paranormal phenomena. I have not
sufficiently observed the phenomenon of touch to be able to say, that
the relation indicated exists between the muscular contraction and
the phenomenon, rather than between the phenomenon and the movement
executed; but some facts, far too few, it is true, tend to make me
think it is so.

Finally, the experimenters, and especially the medium, are very
fatigued after the production of the phenomenon of touch.

The influence of light seems to be very unfavourable. I have not had
occasion of observing touches in full light, as I have so often done
with raps and movements without contact. Almost total obscurity was
necessary with Eusapia. This circumstance brings the phenomenon of
_attouchement_ into conjunction with that of materialisation. This is
interesting, for if the touches are due to the condensation of some
matter, as materialised forms appear to be, there is room to think
that the two phenomena are closely connected, and that it is the same
substance which, in becoming condensed, produces them both. This is
what I have observed, notably at l’Agnélas, when I saw a hand and arm
touch M. Sabatier’s head, at the moment the latter mentioned having
been touched on the head.

We see how much a calm and impartial examination of the facts reveals
common conditions for their production, and similarities between some
among them.

II. Stamped impressions or imprints bring us into the presence of
a category of phenomena of the same order. Pressure appears to be
exercised upon a material substance instead of upon the sitters. If
that substance be soft enough, the impression of the form which has
exercised the pressure may be left upon it. I have only twice observed
this phenomenon, and that was with Eusapia. It was at Choisy in 1896.
The first time, we obtained the impression of the mounts of the fingers
in lamp-black. The conditions of observation were not good. The second
time, the impression was marked in clay. I take the following extract
from our report:—

‘The dish containing the plastic clay is put in the centre of the
table. Almost immediately the dish, which weighs nearly four lbs., is
lifted up and placed in equilibrium on the left arm of M. de Rochas,
whose left hand continues to hold Eusapia’s right hand. M. de Rochas
feels three distinct, successive pressures of the dish resting on his
arm; then a friendly pressure on the back of his arm apprises him, that
the phenomenon is accomplished. We carry the dish away at once, and
in the daylight we see finger-prints in the clay; the prints look as
though the fingers had been enveloped in some material of fine texture,
the woof being distinctly visible in the clay.’ I did not observe this
fact with enough precision to be able to retain it as a demonstrated
fact. I point it out, nevertheless, because it permits one to preserve
the material trace of the phenomenon. Other observers have obtained
better imprints with Eusapia. I have seen some which represent a
distorted likeness of the medium’s face. I think this phenomenon ought
to be observed with care, if one has the occasion to meet with mediums
capable of producing it. I will point out the following fact to the
attention of possible observers: the almost constant presence of a
kind of woof, as if the object which made the impression was covered
with thin gauze. This circumstance is at first sight suspicious; but
here, again, as always when we are in presence of these unfamiliar
manifestations, we must not be in too great a hurry to conclude in
fraud, and say that the medium put a wet piece of gauze over face and
hands, in order to avoid soiling the loam and bearing tell-tale traces
of cheating. But I recognise that this is the explanation which ought
to present itself before any other; and we must not put it to one side,
unless we have sufficient reasons for doing so. At the same time, we
must not jump to the conclusion of fraud solely because of this gauzy
appearance. There is something interesting in the presence of this
gauze. The faces I have seen were all framed in a sort of milky-looking
veil. Personally, I have rarely seen faces free of this. I have not
observed it around material objects nor around animals’ heads. Neither
do I observe it in hypnagogic illusions. I will point out the following
observation of MM. Brincard and Béchade on the subject:—

‘M. de Rochas feels himself touched on the face as though by a beard,
and sees standing out in relief, against the part of the room best
lighted up by the window, a long black lock of wavy hair. MM. Brincard
and Béchade have the sensation that their heads are enveloped in
transparent black gauze, which seems to fall on to their shoulders; it
disappears before they have time to seize it.’

I did not notice these traces of tissue, with the undoubtedly
fraudulent impressions which have been shown me or done in my presence.
I am going to give an example, to show how an attentive examination can
reveal fraud.

At a seance, I was one day shown the impression in some plastic
substance of a small death’s head; a young man presented it to me as
an authentic impression. This appeared abnormal to me, for a death’s
head is not a common thing in serious seances, and for my part I have
never seen a repugnant or painful phenomenon. An attentive examination
revealed to me traces of the finger-tips, which had held the object
while it was being pressed on the plastic substance.

At another seance at which I was present, one of the experimenters
prepared some plates of cement. He placed them himself upon the top of
a wardrobe. At the end of the seance finger-prints were found in the
cement. These prints had been made while the experimenter was placing
the plate on the wardrobe, and, of course, normally made by him. In
these two cases, the impressions were distinct and bore no traces of
woof. Therefore, such traces are not necessarily indications of fraud,
since tricksters do not always use material to preserve themselves from
stains, when they make the fraudulent impression.

As for photographs, I have never obtained any paranormal ones. It is
true I have given no attention to this order of experimentation. I
will say nothing about it therefore, since I have no personal fact of
interest to relate thereon. The existence of paranormal photography
is affirmed by sincere and honourable men, and their experiments
deserve to be resumed. The method of operating is simple. The medium
is photographed in daylight, when in a state of trance; photography
by magnesium light is not to be recommended for many reasons, chiefly
because it renders fraud particularly easy of execution. Never use
any but your own plates, never let them out of your possession for an
instant, change the plates yourself, expose and develop them yourself.

I remember one of my friends, a superior military officer, once showed
me some extraordinary photographs, on which we saw abnormal forms
beside the medium. I told my friend he had been imposed upon. Too
honest himself to admit he could be the victim of disloyal trickery,
the officer put no faith in my criticisms, and assured me that the
photographs had been taken by himself with his own camera, and declared
he had not lost sight of the apparatus for a second. His affirmations
did not modify my opinion. Later on, when carefully discussing the
conditions of the experiment, the officer acknowledged that he had
interrupted the seance for lunch, and had left his camera at the
medium’s house in the meanwhile.—The latter had taken advantage of his
absence either to change the plates and substitute exposed ones, or to
make a fraudulent exposure on my friend’s plates.

The author of this fraud was, moreover, obliged to acknowledge the
imposture. I wonder what motive this young man could have had in
cheating! I believe he acted out of pure childishness—having a
tendency to hysteria.

In photography there are several ways of defrauding; the most usual
is by double exposure. A shrewd use of sulphite of quinine permits of
certain curious operations, it appears. I have not verified this.



Under this somewhat vague title I am bringing certain facts together,
which differ greatly from those I have been examining. In reality, the
facts so far related by me refer to material manifestations, and it was
merely as an accessory, that I pointed out the intelligent character
some of these manifestations presented. I will now describe the means
best adapted for obtaining not _physical_ but _intellectual_ phenomena,
properly so-called; that is to say, phenomena which are interesting
solely because of the ideas expressed, or because of the signification
of the images produced, and not at all because of the conditions under
which they are obtained.

I have studied this category of phenomena with less interest than
sonorous, motor or luminous phenomena, where observation is relatively
simple. Intellectual phenomena can only be studied indirectly, and
in order to verify them, we are generally obliged to trust to the
statement of a third person. I think these are bad conditions of
observation. This reserve made, I will divide these phenomena into two
wide categories:—

1. Sensory automatism.

2. Motor automatism.


I thus designate phenomena produced by the spontaneous activity of
our senses, and which do not appear to be due to exterior excitation.
They border on hallucination. They are observed in the different
sensory spheres. I will only examine olfactory, auditory, and visual
sensations; tactile impressions were studied in the last chapter. As
for gustatory sensations, they are very rare and without interest.

(_a_) _Olfactory sensations._—These consist of a special odour. I have
never observed any in the seances at which I have been present. In one
series, however, the medium associated the odour of Jasmine with the
manifestation of certain personifications. To me this sensation seemed
to be purely subjective; it was constant.

An odour of ozone is often perceived after luminous phenomena have been
obtained, a fact which ought to be borne in mind. It may be compared
with the odour of ozone, perceived in the vicinity of powerful static
machines, which give off electricity at _very high potentiality_. Here
is an analogy which is, perhaps, not altogether fortuitous; these
facts, however, are unintelligible.

(_b_) _Auditory sensations._—I do not speak of sonorous phenomena.
I now enter directly into the study of intellectual phenomena, that
is to say, phenomena having a signification more or less precise and

Auditory phenomena may be divided into two categories: provoked
automatisms, and spontaneous automatisms or _clairaudience_. The first
may be considered as hallucinations induced by diverse methods. The
simplest method consists in the use of certain shells, horns, trumpets,
or, in a word, any object capable of augmenting and allowing the
perception of those external or internal sounds, which are not usually
perceptible to the hearing. This is what is observed particularly with
some sea-shells. When we apply them to the ear, we hear a murmur or
a slight rumbling sound. This sensation is common to every one, and
children are accustomed to play at ‘listening to the sound of the sea
in the sea-shells.’

Some people do not hear this sound, or rather, when they listen,
it quickly disappears and makes way for words and phrases. I
know a subject with whom this faculty exists, but circumstances,
unfortunately, have prevented me from studying him carefully. I point
out, to the attention of observers, the interest which this automatism
presents; the rapidity of communication is very great; in this way
there is a greater output than with automatic writing, and it is
less tiring for the sensitive. The only precaution to observe is to
take down all he says in shorthand. We must accustom him to repeat,
instantly, everything he hears, because words heard in this way are
speedily forgotten—as in dream—but amnesia is not the sole point of
resemblance between this automatism and dream. It has much analogy with
visual automatism, but it has an interesting advantage over the latter.
Visual images are those which offer the highest degree of symbolism;
they are vague, wanting in precision, and require interpretation.
Auditory hallucinations, on the contrary, have greater precision.
Perhaps this is due to language, the usual manner in which auditory
images are revealed. On the other hand, they are not so rich, and
contain less detail than visual images do.

The meaning of auditory messages is seldom very clear; but there are
cases where it is wonderfully so. Such are the chief features of
provoked auditory phenomena. I have given too little attention to
this phase of manifestation, to be able to enter into a more complete
analysis of it.

_Clairaudience_ is more frequent; perhaps this is due to the negligence
of experimenters, who do not think of using the methods of induction I
have just described.

I have rarely observed the existence of isolated auditory
hallucinations; I have always observed them associated with visual
hallucinations; therefore I will study them after these last, when
examining mixed phenomena.

(_c_) _Visual sensations._—Observable, visual phenomena are very
numerous, and have already been the object of exhaustive studies. I
will again divide these into provoked and spontaneous phenomena. Of
course, I am speaking of hallucinations experienced by sensitives out
of seance hours. In this part of my analysis, I am replacing the word
_medium_ by the word _sensitive_, which seems to me to define more
correctly the distinguishing features, of those persons who have the
faculties I am going to describe. This word conveys the correct idea,
that the facts observed belong to the sphere of sensibility.

One of the oldest known methods of inducing visual hallucination is the
use of a crystal ball. I have no need to recall to mind the practices
of former fortune-tellers, nor the history of John Dee, nor the
numerous recitals handed down to us by ancient chroniclers, novelists,
etc. The crystal ball and the black mirror are the best methods; but
the ordinary mirror, a glass of water, a decanter, a shoemaker’s wooden
ball, the finger-nail, the watch-glass, any polished surface, in fact,
may serve to induce hallucination; but I only recommend the first
methods—they are certainly the best; a glass of water, a decanter, a
syphon of seltzer-water, the thumb-nail, polished surfaces, etc., may
serve to induce hallucination, but these last methods only succeed with
very highly sensitive subjects.

I have carefully studied crystal-gazing, and though I have remarked
individual differences in each sensitive, I think I may say that, as
far as working methods are concerned, I have come to the following

The material of which the object is composed is not a matter of
indifference. Balls of rock-crystal have given me the best results. I
have seen people, incapable of receiving visions with ordinary glass,
obtain them in a tiny ball of natural crystal. Objects in rock-crystal
have the inconvenience of being very expensive.

Ordinary glass gives good results, but care should be taken that
the ball contains no air bubbles or other defects. They must be as
homogeneous as possible.

The ball may be spherical or egg-shaped. I think the elliptical form
is, perhaps, the best; reflections are more easily avoided with this

The size is a matter of indifference; personally, I prefer rather
large balls. I have, nevertheless, obtained just as good results with
balls of only one centimetre in diameter as with balls of six or seven
centimetres in diameter.

The crystal may be white, blue, violet, yellow, green; it may be
opalescent or transparent; but, I think, the best results are obtained
with white transparent balls; blue or amethyst coloured crystals are
also very good, and tire the eyes less than others.[8]

      [8] As crystal-gazing seems to me one of the most curious
      phenomena to study, I will take the liberty of mentioning
      that well-made crystal balls may be found at Leymarie, 42 Rue
      Saint-Jacques, Paris; at the Society for Psychical Research,
      20 Hanover Square, London, W.; or Mrs. Venman, Sugden Road,
      Lavender Hill, London, S.W. The price of the globes varies from
      6s. to 9s.; those of ovoids, from 8s. to 10s. The best thing to
      do would be to look for a ball in rock-crystal, the price of
      which would vary from 4s. to £8. They must be cut to order, for
      it is extremely difficult to find any ready made. M. Servan,
      jeweller at Bordeaux, furnishes good ones.

When looking into the ball, it should be sheltered from reflection, as
it should offer a uniform tint, without any brilliant points. To obtain
this result, it may be enveloped in a piece of dark foulard or velvet,
or held in the hollow of the hand, or even at the fingertips, provided
the conditions mentioned above have been observed. The object ought to
be placed within the range of normal vision; the gaze should not be
directed on to the surface of the crystal, but _in the crystal itself_.
The knack of gazing inside the crystal is speedily acquired.

Mirrors also give very good results. They can be made like ordinary
mirrors, or black like the famous mirrors of Bhatta, which are made
of a special composition. Sensitives say that the mirror should not
reflect anything: it should present a uniform tint, _e.g._ that of the
sky, blue or grey, but without the mixture of these colours as would be
the case with a cloudy sky; in a room the ceiling may be reflected, if
it be monochrome.

Under these conditions of operation I have sometimes observed results
so extraordinary, as to confound the imagination. They appeared to
me to tend towards demonstrating Kant’s idea of the relativity and
contingency of time and space. It is very difficult to admit, that
these two ordinates of our perceptions are exactly what they seem to
be, unless we push the theory of coincidence to the absurd. But this
would be shutting the door on all discussion, and on all intelligent
examination of a fact apparently abnormal.

My observations have been made with different persons, and a great many
have been pointed out to me. Sensitives, possessing the faculty of
seeing in the crystal, are not rare. The analysis of the facts I have
observed, or of which I hold first-hand reports, allows me to class
these ‘hallucinations’(?) under six categories of increasing interest:—

_A._ Imagination—images, ordinary hallucination.

_B._ Forgotten souvenirs, recalled to memory in the form of visions.

_C._ Passed events, of which the sensitive affirms to have always been

_D._ Present events, certainly unknown to the sensitive.

_E._ Future events.

_F._ Facts of doubtful interpretation.

This grouping shows the curious gradation observed in these visions.
First of all, disorderly and illogical activity as in dreams; then,
more orderly activity: knowledge of forgotten facts, knowledge of past
events unknown to the sensitive, knowledge of present events unknown to
the sensitive, apparent prescience. I will give some examples.

_A._ Imagination—images are by far the most frequent. This phenomenon
is analogous to ordinary visual hallucination, and seems to me to
present the characteristic features of dream. This is hardly the place
to discuss the state of consciousness during dream; for the form I am
giving my recital would not bear any long psychological analyses. I
will simply confine myself to resuming the conclusions of the detailed
analysis, which I made in a work dealing with this subject.

The consciousness which works habitually in us, that which is
manifested in our everyday life, is the _personal consciousness_.
It is around this that are grouped the souvenirs accessible to our
normal personality, to that part of ourselves which we call ‘I.’
This _personal consciousness_ asserts itself in the highest acts of
the psychic life, in the comparison of images one with another, in
abstraction, judgment, and the voluntary selection of acts, which
appear to us equally possible. This selection is the expression of
our voluntary activity, personally conscious; it is determined by
the comparison of acts between themselves, by the examination of
their probable advantageous or disadvantageous consequences, by the
appreciation of their morality or immorality, according to the social
laws of the day, etc. Personal consciousness is the foundation of all
our intelligent life; practically, it alone appears to exist, and its
disappearance seems to us to annihilate our own personality.

In reality, such is not the case. With certain invalids, complete or
partial modifications of the personal consciousness may be observed.
Sometimes the notion of personality disappears. There are patients
who suddenly forget everything, even to their own name. All their
antecedent life is effaced, and they appear to return to the state they
were in at birth. They have to learn again how to speak, to eat, and
to dress themselves. Sometimes the amnesia is not so complete. I have
been able to observe a patient, who had forgotten everything which had
any connection whatever with his own personality. He was absolutely
ignorant of all he had ever done, did not remember where he was born,
who his parents were, or what his name was. He was thirty years of age.

Organic memory and memories organised apart from the personality
subsisted. He could read, write, draw, and displayed a certain amount
of musical talent. Amnesia, with him, was limited to all facts
connected with his antecedent personality; it presented the type of
systematised losses of memory. This is what is called in medical
phraseology _amnésie de dépersonnalisation_.

In a lesser degree, amnesia only affects limited periods of life.
Epileptics and hysterics often present the phenomenon of _ecmnesia_,
a term chosen by the eminent professor of clinical medicine at the
university of Bordeaux, M. Pitres, who was the first to point out
this phenomenon with hysterical subjects. The patient forgets a part
of his life, believes he is ten, fifteen, thirty years younger than
he really is, and behaves as though he were at the age he thinks he
is. The souvenirs of his ulterior life cease to be accessible to his
conscious personality, which finds itself brought back exclusively to
the elements which constituted it, at the time the ecmnesia carries
him to. Every idea, foreign to that diminished personality, remains
unintelligible to him. In order to make him understand, we must speak
to him only of what he knew at the epoch to which he has been brought

Besides these disappearances or _amoindrissements de la personnalité_
of the personal consciousness, which may be permanent or transitory, we
also observe _qualitative_ without _quantitative_ alterations of the
personal consciousness. These are changes or variations of personality,
which have been well studied in hysterical subjects, but which also
exist in other invalids, notably epileptics and victims of certain

      [9] Interested readers will find a complete analysis of
      these facts in Azam’s celebrated work, _Hypnotisme et double
      conscience_, Alcan; in Pitres’ book, _Leçons sur l’hystérie_,
      Alcan; and in Janet’s _L’automatisme psychologique_, Alcan. It
      is essential to know at least these three books, if we wish to
      observe, profitably, the delicate phenomena I am discussing in
      this chapter.

To sum up, the personal consciousness is susceptible of total or
partial disappearance, or of being replaced by another consciousness
which can be absolutely foreign to the normal personal consciousness,
or preserve more or less close relationship with it, _e.g._ the patient
who undergoes a change of personality may retain all the souvenirs of
the normal personality A and those of the new personality B. But in
an almost absolute manner the normal personality A is ignorant of all
which concerns B. This is the type of periodical amnesia.

The clinical study of diseases of personality permits observation
of the above facts. I ought to say that, in practice, they do not
present the simplicity of the _schéma_ which I have just given. Curious
problems arise from the nature itself of amnesia, its degree, its
mechanism, problems impossible to treat here.

But the facts I have summarily exposed already reveal an important
truth, which curable, transitory amnesia clearly demonstrates:
this is, that souvenirs can exist in a latent state in the general
consciousness, and be inaccessible to the personal consciousness. Let
us suppose that A forgets the ten previous years of his life—the result
of a fall or nervous crisis. This amnesia will perhaps last for six
months, during which period he will believe himself to have returned to
the age of fifteen, when he is really twenty-five. All the events of
his life between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five will have entirely
disappeared from his memory for six months; then they will, more or
less abruptly, reappear. Their temporary disappearance clearly shows
that these souvenirs have been preserved somewhere, and that they were
not really lost. We cannot affirm that they were accessible to the
general and impersonal consciousness in every case; but nevertheless we
can affirm it for hysteria, according to the observations of Pitres,
Janet, and others; and, according to Régis, for certain poisons. The
facts studied by these savants show, that souvenirs inaccessible to
the normal personality were known to the general consciousness. For
example, an amnesic patient can recover all his souvenirs when he is
put to sleep; this is what Régis has demonstrated even in certain cases
of amnesia from blood-poisoning. Janet, on his side, has established
that these souvenirs, forgotten by the personal consciousness, can be
evoked by certain automatisms (notably automatic writing), and are
therefore at the disposition of the impersonal consciousness, that is
to say, of that general consciousness of which personal consciousness
seems to be only a part.

This fact, which the study of nervous pathology has demonstrated,
is certainly general. The troubles of hysteria and other nervous
diseases only exaggerate a normal phenomenon. Our personality does not
burden itself with all the souvenirs, which our general consciousness
appears to possess: the greater part of the things we have seen,
learned, heard, etc., are forgotten; but this forgetfulness is probably
relative, and only extends to the personal consciousness. It is also
variable, and, according to circumstances, the souvenirs accumulated
in the general consciousness are at one time more accessible to the
personal consciousness, and less so at another time. If the personal
memory be over-excited, _exalté_, we have hypermnesia. The facts
which spring up in the personal consciousness have been so completely
forgotten by it that they sometimes appear to be new; souvenirs present
themselves to the consciousness without being identified by it, and
we commit errors on the localisation of the mnesic image in time and
space; this is what we call _paramnesia_.

The variations of the personal consciousness relative to memory,
whose rôle in the constitution of the personality of the _self_
is preponderant, are therefore translated clinically by amnesiæ,
hypermnesiæ, paramnesiæ; but the variations pointed out are not limited
to memory, they extend to other operations of the mind. I indicated
just now, that the personal consciousness was only a facet of that
more general consciousness existing in us, a consciousness where all
antecedent experiences are piled up, where all our sensations are
registered, be our personal consciousness aware or unaware of them.
This general consciousness is in itself impersonal, at least in
relation to our normal personality. This latter is only one of the
currents which circulate in that consciousness, its preponderance,
as Myers has indicated, is probably only a consequence of its greater
practical utility in daily life, and not an indication of its absolute
superiority; but there is one thing to point out, this is that we
are accustomed to connect with that personal consciousness all the
operations of our usual intelligence. Our reasonings, volitions,
judgments, whatever they may be, are grouped around our conscious
personality, or rather are founded upon its apparent activity. The
consequence is, that every time the sentiment of personality in the
consciousness varies, our reasonings, volitions, and judgments will
vary in the same proportion. Thoughts which come to us will cease to
be chosen by us, and will apparently come of their own accord; their
associations will escape all logic, their succession will be rapid and
incoherent for our personality, which will look on at their evolution
powerless to direct it. The weakening of the sentiment of personal
participation, in the acts of the psychical life, is then translated
by the diminution of our faculty to choose the images evoked in the
consciousness, by the diminution of our power of control over their
evolution, by the helplessness in which we are, not only to judge them
according to the rules of reason, but also to reject the most illogical
interpretations, which offer themselves to us or impose themselves
upon us. In a word, the weakening of the will, of the judgment, is
associated with that of the personal consciousness.

We also observe a corresponding attenuation in the faculty of
abstraction. Ideas are accompanied by their pictured or motor
representations. Sometimes they are only expressed by pictures, and
are presented in a symbolical form, or are dramatised; _e.g._ the idea
of the death of a relative will not be expressed with precision, as
is sometimes the case in verbal or written hallucinations, but by a
picture representing the relation in a coffin, or depicting his burial.

Such are the psychological expressions of the weakening of the personal
element in the consciousness.

We must not conclude, therefrom, that the impersonal consciousness
is incapable of intelligent operation. No such thing; and events
prove that the impersonal or subliminal consciousness is capable of
accomplishing, with great perfection, the most complicated intellectual
acts, without the personal consciousness being aware of it. In these
cases, when the result of the operation is transmitted to the personal
consciousness, this latter perceives it under the symbolical or
dramatical form I pointed out.

Observation shows, that all the features I have just described as being
met with in cases where participation of the personal consciousness
with our mental or physical activity is diminished, are to be found in
hallucination and in dreams.[10]

      [10] Readers, interested to know my ideas on this point, will
      find them more extensively developed in my book, _L’Amnésie et
      les troubles de la conscience dans l‘épilepsie_.

I beg to be excused for this digression; it was indispensable in
order to develop, in a comprehensive manner, the analogies which are
presented between dreams and hallucinations provoked by crystal-gazing,
and the transcendental character which these visions can present,
without being, however, supernatural. These considerations set forth, I
arrive at the recital of some facts I have observed.

The way in which imagination-images or hallucinations are induced,
with most of the sensitives I have examined, is nearly always the same.
I will describe it, pointing out at the same time that the formation of
the hallucinatory image is the same in nearly every case, be the visual
impression imaginary, or be it the expression of a true fact, past,
present, or future.

I have shown how to hold the crystal, and how to look at it. The
sensitive, having fixed his eyes on the crystal for a few seconds or
minutes—the time varies according to individuals—sees an opalescent,
milky tint come over the crystal. I know a sensitive,—an intelligent
and well-educated lady—who compares this impression, to that produced
on the eye by rising mists and fleeting clouds. For her, the milky
tint in the crystal is in movement. It breaks away like a cloud or
mist, to disclose the hallucinatory image completely formed. To another
sensitive, the cloud appears first of all immobile, and then becomes
condensed into grey forms, which gradually become coloured and mobile.
This sensitive enters so completely into the hallucination, that, as
a rule, he thinks he is transported to the landscape he is gazing at;
he has not only a hallucination of sight, but a hallucination of all
the senses. Most people see the image in the crystal, but believe they
see it life-size. The dimension of the crystal has no influence on the
apparent dimension of the image;—at least, this is what I have nearly
always remarked.

What I say of the mode of induction of the image in the crystal can
be applied to any other mode of induction—mirror, glass of water,
decanter, etc.

The cause of the vision is sometimes an association of ideas or
images, which is easy to trace. Here is an example: I was once in a
spiritistic group, and among those present were several sensitives
presenting subconscious or paraconscious automatisms, with the features
of ordinary somnambulism. I begged one young girl, of about fifteen
or sixteen years old, to look into a white crystal ball of four
centimetres in diameter. Almost without transition she saw goldfish
in the ball. Every one knows the spherical bowls in which goldfish
are put; as it happened, there was a bowl of this kind in the room.
The idea of a transparent bowl was naturally associated with that of
goldfish; this subconscious association provoked the visual image of
the fish. Facts of this kind are the simplest; their psychological
mechanism is easy to penetrate; the associations of images are almost
logical, and their dreamlike character is scarcely marked. In the
above case, the impossibility of placing the fish in a crystal ball is
not perceived by the consciousness, which suffers the succession of
images empirically associated; the globe of water containing the fish
resembled in its form and aspect the transparent glass ball; therefore,
the latter evoked the image of the former, and the fish which it
contained. This association is very intelligible.

Here is another example borrowed from experiments I made with a
remarkable sensitive—the one with whom the hallucination becomes
generalised. This person, looking in the crystal, perceived a
railway-station, and saw portmanteaux in the luggage-room. He then
plunged right into the dream, and imagined he was going to take away
his own portmanteau; he entered the luggage-room, took his trunk and
opened it. It contained a particularly horrible dead body, which
leaped out of the portmanteau, and bitterly complained of being
disturbed. It threw itself upon the sensitive, who immediately fled,
pursued by the dead body. After a desperate chase, the sensitive darted
into a road which crossed a park. This park, in reality, is situated at
more than six hundred miles from the railway-station, where he believed
he saw the portmanteaux: this distance had disappeared in the vision.
The dead body took a corresponding road; the two roads met on a hill,
where the persecutor made a dead set at the sensitive; the latter fell,
and the dead body stopped and bent down to strike him. The visionary
gave him a kick in the stomach, and stretched him full length on the
ground. The hallucination then ceased abruptly, and the sensitive found
himself back in his room, in front of the crystal. The vision was so
intense, that he was still upset with fright, and breathless from

This hallucination is of a dreamlike character, and reminds one of
certain kinds of delirium. I have often questioned the sensitive
carefully, in order to try to reconstitute the psychological elements
of his hallucinations, and for this particular hallucination, as I have
related it, I will indicate the result of my inquiry:—

1. The sensitive has often seen dead bodies. He is not afraid of them;
he feels no repugnance even when touching them.

2. He has travelled a great deal, but has no souvenir of any
connection whatever between his portmanteau and dead bodies, except
the associations which stories of the nature of the Gouffé affair may

      [11] A lawyer who was murdered, and whose dead body, much
      hacked about, was found in a trunk in the luggage-room of a
      railway-station in France.

3. The chase occurred at a spot known to the sensitive, who had, as
it happened, gone, one day, to that very spot on a walking expedition
with one of his friends, under some conditions recalling those of the
hallucination, notably the choice of different roads; the two roads
corresponded and met as in the vision.

4. He did not fall, and has no conscious souvenir, which can explain
his struggle with the dead body.

This curious hallucination shows us an admixture of true images and
fantastic images, these latter, however, composed of real elements.
The duration of this hallucination, so full of events, was very short.
This is another feature observed in dreams. We see here the trace of
queer associations, some explicable, others not so. The idea of a
railway-station awakens that of portmanteaux; that of the dead body is
already abnormal, but comprehensible, the sensitive being sufficiently
acquainted with contemporary criminal literature to know of the Gouffé
affair. The leap of the dead body out of the valise, the flight of the
sensitive, and the pursuit of the dead body after him, are abnormal
associations. The first is difficult to explain; the flight and pursuit
are more easily explained. The first of these ideas naturally suggests
the second. The idea of pursuit awakens the idea of running; this, in
its turn, awakens the idea of the place where the sensitive has really
run a race; and, notwithstanding its illogism, that association is
accepted, though the railway-station, where the scene begins, be more
than six hundred miles from the park where the chase takes place.

All these associations bear the characteristic stamp of dreams.

_B._ Visions of past and forgotten facts present a different
appearance. The following is an example:—The sensitive, in the course
of conversation, was asked to sing one of Delmet’s songs. He could not
remember two lines of one of the verses, and was obliged to pass them
over. I had the curiosity to improvise an experiment, and I begged the
sensitive to look into a crystal. The forgotten lines were read by him
in the crystal. Facts of this nature—and they are very numerous in
technical literature—can be explained by the action of the impersonal
or subliminal consciousness. The souvenir forgotten by the personal
consciousness exists in the general consciousness, which has need
of scenic effects in order to transmit its message to the personal
consciousness; hence we have sensorial, automatic, visual activity,
and the reading of the forgotten words, which appear printed in the
crystal. I will not dwell upon facts of this kind; they are so well

_C._ The third category of visions comprises the perception of past
events, which the medium affirms never to have known. It is evident
that these facts can, in the greater number of cases, come under the
preceding category, and be but forgotten souvenirs. But I have reason
to think it is not always so, and that a certain number of cases
exists, in which knowledge of the past appears to be acquired in a
supernormal manner. This is only an impression, which I draw from the
reality of certain premonitory facts observed by me.

As an example of the facts I am describing at present, I will cite the

A sensitive one day looked into the crystal; he suddenly saw the words
‘Salon de 1885,’ and a series of pictures, announced by their titles,
passed before his eyes. The pictures, thus seen by him, had really been
exhibited in the salon of 1885. In 1885 the sensitive was too young, to
have had any personal knowledge of the salon of that year; but nothing
is easier than to read descriptions of past salons, or to procure
reproductions of the pictures exhibited there. The sensitive, whose
good faith is above suspicion, affirms having no conscious souvenir
of a like reading. He believes he has never seen or read anything
concerning the salon of 1885, but he confines himself to affirming the
non-existence of a conscious souvenir. It is, nevertheless, possible,
as he acknowledges, that he may have glanced over a former catalogue or
criticism without remembering it.

Facts of this kind are never convincing, for it is very difficult to
know exactly, if the sensitive has ever had knowledge of the fact,
which emerges in the vision. I cite the above case, as an example only,
without pronouncing an opinion on its signification.

_D._ I have had no occasion of observing induced hallucinations
representing a scene actually happening; at least, I have never been
able to verify any in a satisfactory manner.

_E._ The cases of premonition I have obtained are, on the contrary,
relatively numerous. I have, personally, observed some of them,
and have obtained first-hand accounts of others. Here are my most
interesting cases:—

I had given a crystal to Monsieur X., a friend of mine, who is much
interested in psychical researches. Madame X. has the faculty of seeing
in the crystal, but I have never had the opportunity of interrogating
her upon her visions. The fact, which her husband related to me,
concerns a woman who is cashier in a large restaurant at Bordeaux.
Monsieur X., who sometimes lunches at this restaurant, one day showed
the crystal to the cashier; the latter looked into it and saw therein
a small dog. She did not recognise the dog, and the vision appeared to
have no interest.

Shortly afterwards, Monsieur X. was again lunching in the same
restaurant. The cashier called him up to her, and told him she was much
astonished, because she had just received the present of a small dog,
exactly like the one she had seen in the crystal.

Another lady sometimes sees visions in a mirror; these visions are
formed on the glass of a wardrobe, which is placed facing a window,
thus partly satisfying the conditions indicated further back. The
recital, which was given me of these visions by her friends, was
confirmed by the lady herself.

She saw a man seated on the footpath of a certain street, the man was
wounded, in a particular manner, on the forehead; a piece of skin was
torn away and lay over the eye. Among other details about his costume
was a sack, which the man had rolled round his neck; on the sack the
letters V. L. were printed. The lady, in her vision, saw herself speak
to the wounded man, take him to the hospital and have his wound dressed.

She went out on the morning of the next day, met the wounded man at the
spot she had seen him the day before, and her vision came true to the
letter, even to the detail of the sack around the neck, and the letters
which were printed upon it.

Another time this lady perceived, always under the same conditions,
that is in the glass of the wardrobe, one of her friends, who is
married to a government officer abroad, where he is consul of a
sister-power. This lady, in the vision, appeared to be walking up the
street Tourny at Bordeaux, just where it opens out into the square
Gambetta. The details of the costume were noted by the observer:—a
light cloak, and a blouse made of Scotch plaid with gold trimming about
the neck. Two or three days afterwards, the percipient happened to be
in a tram. As the tram arrived at the junction of the street Tourny and
the square Gambetta, she perceived her friend, exactly as the vision
had represented her.

Here is another and last example, still more significative than the
preceding, for the vision was related to me eight days before the event
took place, and I myself had related it to several persons before its
realisation. A sensitive perceived in a crystal the following scene:—A
large steamer, flying a flag of three horizontal bands, black, white,
and red, and bearing the name _Leutschland_, navigating in mid-ocean;
the boat was surrounded by smoke; a great number of sailors, passengers
and men in uniform rushed to the upper-deck, and the sensitive saw the
vessel founder.

Eight days afterwards, the newspapers announced the accident to the
_Deutschland_, whose boiler had burst, obliging the boat to stand to.
This vision is very curious, and as the details were given me before
the accident, I will analyse it with care.

In the first place, one thing strikes us:—The premonition was not
exactly fulfilled. The _Deutschland_ met with an accident, it is true;
from the nature of that accident, it must have been surrounded with
vapour; the crew and passengers would probably have rushed to the
upper-deck; but happily, this magnificent vessel did not founder. On
the other hand, the sensitive read L instead of D; but this detail is
of no importance, the foreign word being probably badly deciphered.
Lastly, one thing worthy of noting is the complete absence of personal
interest in this vision, for the sensitive has no connection whatever
with Germany, and was ignorant, at least consciously, of the existence
of this boat, though he might certainly have seen illustrations of it.
Evidently, we must not attach too much importance to this premonition,
but the same sensitive has given me many other curious examples of
the same kind; and these cases, compared with others I myself have
observed, or with those of which I have received first-hand accounts,
render the hypothesis of coincidence very improbable, but do not
exclude it in an absolute manner. Such as they are, I think these facts
are sufficiently interesting, for systematic observation of the visual
phenomena I point out to be undertaken by competent persons, with true
sensitives, and _not with hysterical subjects_, who seldom, if ever,
give good observations.

The facts of premonition which I have observed or controlled, and
of which I have just given a few examples, cannot, I think, be
reasonably regarded as coincidences. I have already said that this
hypothesis, without being inadmissible, is insufficient. Think of the
immense proportion of probabilities, which accumulate in favour of
the reality of a fact, as soon as the details themselves accumulate.
The visions relative to the foreign friend, and to the wounded man,
are instructive from this point of view, given the great number of
circumstances seen beforehand:—exact locality, exact details of the
wound, the costume, etc. It is a pity these facts were not observed
under good conditions. That of the _Deutschland_ is much less
demonstrative, because of the inaccuracy in the foreseen issue.

If we compare these facts with those which have been already registered
by the Society for Psychical Research, we will come to a conclusion,
which confirms the simple impression that my own observations have
given birth to in my mind. What is the cause of these premonitions?
What signification have they with respect to the reality of time? Why
do these visions come to people, who often have no interest whatever
in knowing of them? These are all so many questions I am putting,
without being able to indicate their solution. We must observe, with
the greatest care, the facts which are presented, accumulate them in as
great a number as possible, and, before considering their causes, be,
first of all, doubly sure of their reality.

I have indicated, further back, the analogy of the greater part of
these visions with dreams. I will point out finally another resemblance
which is, perhaps, not the least interesting. This is, that these
visions are often quickly forgotten. We must make the sensitives we
observe write down their visions immediately; for, in the greater
number of cases, a rapid amnesia mixes up the details and causes them
to disappear. These visions, therefore, react upon the memory in the
manner of dreams.

_F._ Certain visions are of a doubtful character. Here are some
examples:—Several times a sensitive sees, in the crystal, a long
procession of personages clothed in white enter a sort of crypt,
which looks like the entrance to a tunnel. The vision presents no
incoherence, but appears to have no signification, either as a souvenir
evoked unconsciously or as a subconscious symbolical image admitting of

And now, I am going to relate a vision, which, doubtless, will
particularly interest occultists. I was operating with a sensitive,
who was ignorant, I think, of their theories and those of spiritists;
who had no notion whatever about larvæ, and the forms given to such in
the literature of occult sciences. Now the sensitive, of whom I speak,
twice saw the vision of a tree standing out detached from the others
in a forest. The earth appeared white, the tree itself was white, and
appeared to be covered with white pears hanging from its branches.
In his vision the sensitive drew near, and perceived that the pears
were in reality white beasts of hideous appearance; they were like
heads without bodies, terminating in long tails. These beings were
suspended to the branches by their tails. This vision seems to me to
be purely imaginary, but I have related it because the curious forms
described concord, I believe, with the aspect given to larvæ by occult
writers. I cannot positively affirm the sensitive’s absolute ignorance
of mystic literature, but I have serious reasons to admit it. Must we
simply see herein a morphological association between the different
forms of larvæ, of tears embroidered on funereal garb and pears! This
explanation would be possible, if the sensitive knew the signification
of the word larvæ, and the form lent to these fabulous beings.

I must now cut short the recital of these observations, and confine
myself to resuming the conclusion to which I have come:—This is, that
sensorial automatisms and especially visual hallucinations have the
same characteristic features we note in dreams, the same weakening
of the power of control of the will and judgment over the selection
of images, over their coherence, their likelihood, and the same
rapid amnesia. These are characteristic features, which we observe
in every case, where the sentiment of personality is impaired. This
is just as noticeable in purely imaginary hallucinations, as in
hallucinations which appear to have a real foundation. This fact seems
to me of great importance, for it permits us to think, that one of the
conditions of the transcendental perception of facts past, present
or even future is the disappearance of the voluntary and personal
activity of the consciousness. Less fit to act actively, it would be
more inclined to be passively impressed by influences, which are at
present indeterminable; the transmission to the normal consciousness
of the impressions perceived by the impersonal consciousness appears
to take place in the same way as in a dream, that is to say by
dramatisation,—by a scene which expresses the idea in a concrete and
symbolical manner.

There is therefore a _rapprochement_ between these sensory automatisms
and dreams and telepathy. Several premonitory dreams have been related
to me by people of absolute good faith; I will give two, which were
told me by magistrates. The first concerns a man holding a high rank
in the magistracy. He had sold, at an advantageous price, the wood on
a property he possessed in the neighbouring country, but the bargain
was not definitely settled, and was to be concluded in an interview
arranged for between the owner and the purchaser. On the eve of the
day when the magistrate should have gone to the country, his wife
dreamt that she was present at the woodman’s visit. In her dream, the
latter offered a price, which was inferior to the price originally
agreed upon, and covered his treachery with all sorts of periphrases,
trying to prove that the bargain remained excellent for the owner.
Finally he turned towards Madame X., who was present at the interview,
and said to her, ‘This is fair speaking, is it not, Madame?’ Madame X.
related the dream to her husband, telling him also that she thought the
bargain would not come off. Her dream was fulfilled literally, and the
phrase heard in her dream was uttered by the woodman. I received this
account from the magistrate himself, an eminent man and one of the most
brilliant intellects I have known.

The second dream is, perhaps, still more curious; it was told me by one
of my colleagues, a calm, positive man with not the slightest tendency
whatever to mysticism, employing his leisure hours in hunting rather
than with metaphysics. He is, moreover, an experienced magistrate,
and occupies a distinguished position at a court in the centre of
France. At the time he had the dream I am going to relate, he was
_juge d’instruction_ in a small town, where there are some important
factories. He was closely connected with a large manufacturer, and was
accustomed to go and see him nearly every day. He knew the staff of the
factory, and notably an overseer, a native of Flanders; this man, after
many years of faithful service, wished to return to his birthplace and
left his employer, remaining, however, on the best of terms with him.

Some months afterwards my colleague dreamt, he had taken his usual
promenade and paid his visit to his friend. In his dream, he saw the
overseer and manifested his surprise at seeing him; the overseer
replied, ‘Yes, sir, it is I. I could not find any work in my own
country, and i’ faith, I came back here.’ My colleague attached no
importance to this dream; on the morrow he went, as usual, to see his
friend, and in the factory found the overseer whom he had seen in his
dream. He exchanged the same conversation he had held with him in his

Facts of this kind are very numerous. Perhaps they are only simple
coincidences, but, as with sensory automatisms already described, I
cannot help thinking, that coincidence does not explain everything. The
concording details are often so numerous, that the probabilities in an
extremely large proportion are against pure hazard. Richet, however,
has carefully studied the Calculus of Probabilities, and I will not go
into the question. I simply give my impression, persuaded as I am that
those who study these facts impartially will come to the conclusion,
that hazard does not explain everything.

The two dreams which I have taken as examples offer us cases of
telepathy, that is to say, the impression perceived in a way which the
ordinary senses do not explain. Telepathy has been carefully studied
by Myers, Gurney, Podmore, Sidgwick, Ermacora, and discussion on this
question can only be pursued, if the work of these savants has been
studied. Telepathy appears to me to be established in a definitive
manner, but I have no personal example to cite. However, a very great
number of cases have been related to me, by persons who have received
telepathic impressions. I know of many people who have had veridical
hallucinations, either during sleep or when awake. The following are
some examples borrowed from my circle of friends or relations:—

One of my great-uncles had married a coloured woman at Martinique.
This lady, though highly respectable, was the victim of tenacious
prejudice on the part of the white creole families on the island, and
my uncle’s marriage aroused the displeasure of his family. He left
Saint-Pierre, and came to Bordeaux. His wife’s mind suddenly gave way;
she had dangerous attacks of fury, but the union between my great-uncle
and his wife was so close, and their reciprocal affection so profound,
that my relation would not consent to a separation and have her cared
for in an asylum. He fell a victim to his devotion; his wife killed
him in an attack of high fever. One of my great-aunts, the dead man’s
sister, living at Paris, was awakened in the middle of the night by
her brother’s voice calling her. This hallucination coincided with the
death of my great-uncle.

An intimate friend of my mother’s, a creole living at Bordeaux, had
been present at the embarkation of a family belonging to Martinique,
that was returning to Saint-Pierre. Some time afterwards she had a
dream in which she saw a steamer founder; the stern of the vessel rose
above the waves, and she was able to read the name of the boat; it was
the one on which her friends had embarked. The vessel was lost and not
a life saved.

Here is another interesting fact, in which (1) a sentiment of anxiety,
the cause unknown to the conscious personality, corresponds with the
serious illness of a near relation; (2) the telepathic, premonitory
hallucination of a telephonic call preceded the real call by two hours.
This fact was communicated to me by one of my friends.

‘Here is the exact account of the fact I mentioned to you.

‘On the evening of the 17th October 1901 I went to bed feeling greatly
disturbed; I could not define the cause of my mental anguish, for I was
in perfect health. This trouble persisted, and my sleep was haunted by
painful nightmare.

‘At half-past four I suddenly awoke, having distinctly heard the
sound of my telephone bell. I ran to the apparatus, and answered the
ring. The night operator replied that he had not rung me up, and that
nothing unusual was happening. I had therefore been labouring under a
hallucination, provoked by a particular haunting impression.

‘At seven o’clock in the morning, the telephone again sounded, and I
was put into communication with my brother-in-law residing at Biarritz.
He told me that my sister, Madame V., had, in the night, been struck
with congestion of the brain, and was in a critical state.’

All these facts may be considered as coincidences; their attentive
study, their thorough analysis, and their careful, thoughtful
comparison can alone make us suspect, that hazard has nothing whatever
to do with their production.

I may compare these cases of telepathy to facts of exteriorisation of
sensibility, and of vision at a distance. I have given very little
study to these facts, for they do not enter into the habitual plan of
my researches; I have sometimes observed them, but under conditions
which do not satisfy me. My observations, however incomplete they
may be, tend, nevertheless, to make me think, that the phenomenon
described by de Rochas, under the name of _extériorisation de la
sensibilité_, is real. I have met with two sensitives, who presented
the phenomenon in a fairly clear manner in a waking state. I was led
to make the following experiment with one of these sensitives. As soon
as she entered the seance-room and had taken off her cloak, I took
hold of the garment and pinched the lining. The sensitive mentioned
feeling a certain sensation, rather feeble however, in the part of her
body which had been covered by the garment in the place I had pinched
it. The first time I tried this experiment, the sensitive had not been
warned, and was surprised at the sensation she felt. Needless to say, I
took precautions to make sure, this lady did not see what I was doing.
I have observed, that this particular sensibility disappears very
rapidly; at the end of forty or fifty seconds it has ceased to exist.

I have asked a lady friend of this sensitive’s to try the same
experiment with her more private garments, especially with the corsets.
Sensibility should then be greater.

I think that the observation of this fact, which I point out with much
reserve, not having submitted it to serious study, is easier than
is supposed, by employing the method I indicate, that is to say, by
pinching or pricking garments which the sensitive has just thrown off.

I have had occasion also of verifying this phenomenon, under the
technical conditions indicated by Colonel de Rochas. Very few
sensitives present it in a marked manner, and it has seemed to me
necessary to push the artificial sleep rather deeply. This expression
may seem somewhat antiquated, to those who have frequented our learned
neurological cliniques; but I cannot help thinking, that a real
difference exists between the different phases of somnambulism, if they
be observed. I speak of a difference of degree. It seems to me that,
once the subject is put to sleep, the repeated action of the passes
determines a particular state, pointed out by ancient magnetisers
and exposed in detail by de Rochas, in which the subject appears to
lose the notion of his personality, and be in close dependence upon
his ‘magnetiser.’ I have experimented very little in this order of
research, and I can permit myself only to give indications; I am
unable to affirm a personal conviction. The few experiments I have
made, however, tend to make me think that de Rochas is quite right in
speaking of superficial and profound states. I am not convinced that
the passage from the one to the other takes place with the regularity
that my eminent friend has observed, but the fact pointed out by him
is, I think, true in a general way. I am going to support my opinion
with an example.

I have already spoken of Madame Agullana. Those who have only been
present at her ordinary seances can have no idea of the curious
faculties, she sometimes presents. An experienced manipulator can
obtain with her—on condition of operating quietly and in the presence
of very few people—phenomena which are very interesting, in the sphere
of what is called animal magnetism. I was at her home one evening with
Monsieur B. We were expecting a tutor, a medium of whom I had heard
marvellous things. This tutor did not turn up; but, while waiting for
him, I put Madame Agullana to sleep; I wished to show Monsieur B.,
who had no experience of this kind, the effects of profound sleep.
I prolonged my passes, made longitudinally from the forehead to the
epigastrium, for more than twenty-five minutes. From time to time,
every seven or eight minutes, I asked Madame Agullana what was her
name. She told me her name. At last the moment came when she could
not remember her name, and appeared to have lost consciousness of her
personality. I made a few more passes, and remarked to Monsieur B.
that, when Madame A. appeared to have cutaneous anæsthesia, she seemed
to perceive pricks at a distance of two or three centimetres from the
skin. The passes were continued for about another quarter of an hour;
at that moment Madame A. appeared to present two peculiarities:—

1. Her sensitiveness appeared to be localised behind her, at about
three feet from, and twenty-one inches above the level of her head. She
winced, when—care being taken that she did not see—the air was pinched
at the spot indicated.

2. Only the persons _en rapport_ with her—in the sense given to this
word by de Rochas—could make an impression upon her; contacts and
pinching by other people were not perceived by her. I did not observe
these two peculiarities under conditions sufficiently precise to
warrant me affirming, that my observation was good; but I indicate
them, for to me they appeared probable.

Then, phenomena were forthcoming. Madame Agullana said she was in the
street, outside of the house. I asked her to go and see what one of
my friends, Monsieur Béchade, was doing—a man whom she knew well. It
was twenty minutes past ten o’clock. To our great surprise, she told
us that she saw ‘Monsieur Béchade half-undressed, walking bare-footed
on stones.’ This did not seem to us to have any sense. I saw my friend
the next day, and, although he is well acquainted with spiritistic
phenomena, he seemed to be astonished at my recital, and said to me,
word for word: ‘I was not feeling very well yesterday evening; one of
my friends who lives with me advised me to try Kneipp’s method, and
urged me so strongly, that, in order to satisfy him, I tried last night
for the first time to walk barefooted on cold stone. I was, in reality,
half-undressed when I made the first attempt; it was then twenty
minutes past ten o’clock; I walked about for some time on the first
steps of the staircase, which is built of stone.’

Perhaps this also is a coincidence, but this fact, which was witnessed
by several people, presents very strange coincidences all the same.
The hour, the costume, the unusual operation, are circumstances of too
special a nature for mere hazard to suffice to explain them, it seems
to me. I cite this case because it came under my personal observation,
and because it shows a variety of telepathic phenomena; it is what the
ancient magnetisers called lucidity, clairvoyance or, more exactly,
vision at a distance. It appears to me to be a development of the facts
pointed out by de Rochas; it looks as though the entire sensibility was
exteriorised to variable distances. This is telæsthesia, a phenomenon
in the sensitivo-sensorial domain, analogous to motor telekinesis.

Experimenters, who might be desirous of verifying these facts, should
not forget, (1) it is necessary to have a sensitive who has often been
_magnetised_—I do not say _hypnotised_; (2) sleep must be pushed
very deeply—passes must be continued for more than half an hour after
somnambulism sets in. The time is reduced with sensitives who are well

It would be easy to multiply examples of this kind, particularly
those of well-observed telepathic cases. The publications of the
London Society for Psychical Research, Flammarion’s book, _L’Inconnu
et les problèmes psychiques_, the _Annales des Sciences psychiques_,
contain a great number of them. This symbolism will always be met
with,—this dramatic element, which I have indicated as the ordinary way
by which the general consciousness transmits its information to the
personal consciousness. The assimilation which I make between sensory
automatisms and dreams, crystal vision and telepathy, appears to me
to find support in these facts. These phenomena are of the same order
and, in all probability, have their seat in the same strata of the

I will not try to fathom the cause; once again I must repeat what I
have so often said already,—the question is still so little known, that
we are not able to enter profitably upon the study of the apparent
cause of the psychical facts examined in this present chapter. We must
multiply observations and verify the undeniable existence of the facts,
before attempting to interpret them.

I give here, both as an example of careful observation and as an
illustration of the chief features of the phenomena of which I have
just been speaking, the following account which Professor Charles
Richet has kindly sent me.



  _April, 1903._

‘DEAR DR. MAXWELL,—The following is a brief account of the strange,
bewildering facts, of which I promised you the narration.

‘I. In the beginning of October 1900 I was at Carqueiranne, when I
received a letter from Madame X. Madame X. had left Paris on the 1st of
October for Fontainebleau, with the intention of spending a month near
the forest. In her letter to me she related, that on the arrival of the
train at the station of Melun, she had a notion that some one entered
her carriage and sat down opposite to her. This “vision” spoke to her,
saying he had known me very well, that he used to call me “Carlos,” and
that I called him “Tony”; he told her, that he knew Fontainebleau very
well and would accompany her in her walks in the forest.

‘After that letter I received others from Madame X., giving me
numerous details concerning this vision which called itself “Tony,” a
vision which was repeated several times during Madame X.’s visit at
Fontainebleau. These details were particularly remarkable and abundant
between the 20th and the 28th October. I will briefly enumerate them,
after which I will enter upon a discussion and appreciation of the
chief details.

‘“Tony” showed me a tree to-day on which were engraved the letters
A. B. and a date 1880, or 1883—the last figure was indistinct;
underneath the letters A. B. was the name “Lucie.” ... “Tony” seems to
have had to do with machinery of some kind. He had hoped to construct
a machine, which would have been of great use to mankind. He seems to
say it was he who discovered the telephone,—or, at least, that he was
on the right track.... I hear him say, “I know Madeleine well.” He says
he adored his father. He speaks about Léon, Sarah, and Marguerite, but
especially about Lucie. His wife’s name was Lucie.... There were Jews
in his family; he also talks about Louise.... He worked with telegraphy
and electric wires.... He knew you remarkably well; he called you
“Carlos,” and you called him “Tony”; of this I am sure, for he speaks
of it so often. He says he collaborated with you in some work. He says
that when he was dead, you went into his death-chamber and kissed
him on the forehead.... He had not been previously ill,—a feeling of
suffocation in the chest and that was all. [_Quelque chose l’a étouffé
à la poitrine, et ce fut tout._] He was only 30 or 32 years old when he
died.... I do not think he was married, that is to say, in the legal
sense of the word; but he was very much attached to Lucie, by whom
he had a daughter, who was about three years old when he died. This
child seems to be still alive, but very few people know about it. He
adored Lucie, who seems to have been very charming, for Antoine shows
me her portrait,—a medallion or locket which he used to wear—in which
she seems to have beautiful dark eyes and hair. He lived for about
four or five years with Lucie; but Lucie had previously been married
to a Jew [_un gros juif_], whom she did not care for. I think Antoine
lived a long time with Lucie at Fontainebleau; they were sadly happy
there [_tristement heureux_]. The house they stayed at is no longer
inhabited. It was a red and white cottage, quite close to the forest,
which was just behind it.... The house stood alone; a tramway passes
by there to-day.... “Tony” also speaks about his father. His father
loved his own fireside; he once lost a lot of money when Antoine was
grown up; but Antoine did not take much notice of this, for he did
not trouble himself about money matters. The house in which “Tony”
and his father lived together, is one which they seem to have always
inhabited. “Tony” seems to have always known this house. The furniture
is old; the rooms look as though they had been occupied for a very long
time. He speaks of the Faubourg Montmartre; does that mean he used to
live there?... Antoine also had to do with engines of war. I think he
was wounded during the war [the Commune], because I hear the noise of
cannon—and your father dressed his wound....

‘Antoine was a free-mason. He admired Claude Bernard. His political
opinions were of a socialistic tendency. He did not care for the
society of women. He was temperate, and did not drink wine; he was no
epicure.... He has been to Geneva.... He has hunted with you.... He
used to like reading _Titus Livy_.... He cared naught for the world’s
opinion, taking his conscience for his sole guide.... He often saw
Philippe. He also mentions Yvonne, Josephine, Georges, James, Clotilde,
and André.... He speaks about a pseudonym; he has written some things
under a _nom-de-plume_.... Antoine had beautiful dark eyes, large and
most expressive, full of resolution, but, at the same time, soft,
dreamy-looking eyes. He had a frank, hearty laugh, and this merry
sound was often heard [_Il riait souvent de ce bon rire_]. He had a
habit of putting his hands behind his head, and stretching himself
out on a sofa, laughing merrily.... He has very long, thin fingers,
which seem to be clever at mechanical work; indeed he seems to have
been clever at everything, and to do all things well.... A short time
before he died—a Wednesday,—you and he were at a banquet together, and
drank each other’s health. “Tony” then told you, that he had not been
feeling well, and that he was in great need of a holiday.... Antoine
told me again to-day, that he loved Lucie dearly; “and,” he said, “I
still watch over her, even now; tell her no evil will ever befall her.”
[_Rien de mauvais ne lui arrivera._]

‘II. The preceding are the most important of the data concerning my
friend Antoine B., given me in Madame X.’s letters during the month
of October 1900. I repeat Madame X. was at Fontainebleau, and I at
Carqueiranne. Therefore, I could not have given her any hints by my
words, and I am particularly anxious to point out a fact, of which I am
absolutely certain, which is, that I had never pronounced the name of
my friend Antoine B. in the presence of Madame X.; I am positive that
no word of mine could have afforded the smallest clue to Madame X. of
my acquaintance with Antoine B.

‘I may also add that, though to-day four years after these visions
occurred, Madame X. has become one of my friends, at that moment,
October 1900, our acquaintanceship dated from a few months only; and,
at Madame X.’s own request, in order to avoid hints and suggestions,
I abstained from ever speaking with her on anything save vague,
general topics. Madame X., at this time, lived a secluded, retired
life in a convent, seldom going out and receiving no visitors. She
was, moreover, almost an entire stranger to Paris, having arrived
there only a short time before I made her acquaintance. If Madame X.
spoke of any one of my deceased friends to-day, it would be impossible
for me to affirm positively that I had never pronounced that name in
her presence; but, thanks to the great care I took at that moment to
avoid all manner of confidences whatsoever, continually seconded in my
efforts by Madame X. herself, I can certify that the name of Antoine B.
had not been pronounced up to the month of October 1900.

‘Therefore my stupefaction was indeed great, when I discovered in
Madame X.’s letters so many precise and correct data, though mixed up
with occasional errors. And when I speak of precise and correct data, I
do not mean data, traces of which may have been left in printed matter.
I speak of private, unpublished facts, facts known only to me or to his
wife. Notwithstanding this, however, I was blind to the truth. And I
sought to explain away these phenomena of lucidity, by an apparently
rational explanation.

‘Here is the fable I invented, for I think it may be useful to acquaint
the reader with my hesitations, and the manner in which I tried to
explain these facts. First of all, I supposed that Fontainebleau
was a mistake, since, as far as I knew, Antoine B. did not go to
Fontainebleau in 1883. At the same time, I thought I remembered he had
been a pupil at the School of Artillery at Fontainebleau in 1874. But,
I asked myself, why should Madame X. speak about Antoine B., whose name
I was and am certain never to have pronounced in her presence? I found,
or rather I thought I had found, the explanation. In the month of
September 1900, Antoine B.’s daughter Madeleine, the wife of Jacques
S., died, and one or two newspapers mentioned this sad and premature
death. Now, I supposed that Madame X. had unconsciously glanced
over one of these newspapers, that Antoine B.’s name had appeared
therein with his biography more or less fully traced, our relations
mentioned [he had been director with me of the _Revue Scientifique_,]
and reference made to his term at the School of Application at
Fontainebleau. That was my fable.

‘It is true there were several other facts awaiting explanation; but
I did not let them hinder me,—so dazed are we by the fear of meeting
with the truth just where it really is, when we find ourselves in the
presence of facts, with which force of habit has not yet rendered us

‘I will not dwell upon the absurdity of this manner of thinking; I will
simply repeat, that my first thought was that this vision of Antoine
was simply the souvenir of some sub-conscious reading, with here and
there a few gleams of lucidity, already very important in themselves,
but not exceeding in precision or in importance other proofs of
lucidity, of which Madame X. had already given me numerous and decisive

‘Well! I was altogether wrong! It was a conversation which I had with
Antoine B.’s widow, [she was now Madame L., having married a second
time] which showed me my mistake.

‘During the summer vacation in 1901, she was staying at my house at
Carqueiranne, and one day I happened to speak about Madame X.’s visions
concerning Antoine. As soon as I began, Madame B. became agitated;
the recital wrought upon her feelings considerably. When I had
finished, she furnished me with the two following fundamental facts,
facts which entirely destroyed the point of view I had first of all
adopted: 1. “Antoine was never a pupil at the School of Application at
Fontainebleau”; 2. “In 1883 he and I were at Fontainebleau together.”

‘Consequently the scaffolding I had erected in order to explain Madame
X.’s visions entirely collapsed. The connection between Antoine and
Fontainebleau—connection discovered by Madame X.—could not have been
provoked by the souvenir of the reading of any newspaper, and the
hypothesis—a very improbable one moreover—of a sub-conscious souvenir,
of the unconscious reading of a hypothetical newspaper, had therefore
no _raison d’être_. So that the knowledge of a connection between
Antoine and Fontainebleau could not have been due to any printed
matter—since, naturally, no newspaper had mentioned this private
detail in Antoine’s life—or to any suggestion I might have given
inadvertently—since I was ignorant of the fact.

‘Three other hypotheses remain:—that of chance, and this is so absurd,
that it is useless even to mention it; that of collusion between Madame
X. and Madame B., a hypothesis which is as absurd as the preceding
one, even if it were possible, for neither of these two ladies had
or have ever seen one another; lastly, there is the hypothesis of an
extraordinary lucidity, on the nature of which I will not dwell, in
order to avoid theorising, but which I must, perforce, be content with
simply pointing out.

‘There is not the slightest trace left of Antoine B.’s visit to
Fontainebleau in 1883. At Barbizon, where he stayed with his wife from
the 15th May to 20th June 1883, he lived in a rustic inn, which has
been demolished to make way for a tram-line. No writing, no letter,
no souvenir of any kind whatever could have furnished a clue to this
private detail in Antoine B.’s life.

‘III. I will now confront the reality, such as it was in June 1883,
with what Madame X. wrote me in October 1900.

‘1. In order to go to Fontainebleau, or rather to Barbizon, M. and Mme.
B. left the train at _Melun_. It is impossible to say, whether the
initials of A. B. and the name of Lucie are engraved on a tree in the

‘2. “There is much resemblance between Antoine, as he was, and the
physical portrait drawn of him by Madame X., especially the soft,
caressing expression of the eyes. In politics he held advanced opinions
for his time, and, had he lived, he would, in all probability, have
been a socialist to-day; at least his opinions would have been very
favourable to socialistic doctrines. The sentence, _Nous étions
tristement heureux_, is characteristically true; for at Barbizon, in
spite of our long walks and our reveries in the forest, he was already
very weak and in the grip of the illness which, soon afterwards,
carried him off so rapidly.” [The above was written and handed to me by
Madame B. in October 1901.]

‘3. Lucie is not Madame B.’s name. Her name is Marie. But Antoine
often said to her, “What a pity you are not called Lucie!” It was his
favourite name.

‘4. It is quite true that, alone among all my friends, Antoine called
me “Carlos,” and that I, on my side, called him “Tony.” This is a fact
known only to me. It is also perfectly correct—and I am not aware of
having related this fact to any person whomsoever—that, when Antoine
died, stricken to death in a few hours by a disease of the heart, I
went into his death-chamber and kissed him on the brow.

‘5. All the details relative to the construction of machines, electric
wires, invention of the telephone, [before Gr. Bell’s invention had
been made known], collaboration with me in a scientific work, all these
details are correct.

‘6. The house in which he stayed at Fontainebleau stood by itself, with
its back to the forest; a tramway passes there to-day, the house having
been pulled down to make room for it.

‘7. His daughter (who died in September 1900, at about the time when
Madame X. says she first heard a voice call me “Carlos”) was called
Madeleine. His sister’s name was Louise. Louise married M. H. of Jewish
origin. [_There are Jews in his family._]

‘8. He was thirty-two years old when he died, and his death was almost
instantaneous. It would be impossible to describe his death more
correctly than Madame X. does in the words: _Quelque chose l’a étouffé
à la poitrine, et ce fut tout._ In fact, towards eleven o’clock in the
night he was seized by a thoracic oppression, which made such rapid
progress, that he expired at four o’clock in the early morning.

‘9. He was not wounded during the Commune; but once when, as a reserve
artillery officer, he was assisting at gun-firing at Grenoble he lost
the hearing of the left ear, an affliction which saddened him very
much. Probably I knew this, but, if so, I had completely forgotten it.
It was Madame B., who related this detail to me in October 1901, a
detail absolutely unknown to every one, for Antoine never spoke of it.

‘10. When Antoine was already grown up, shortly before his marriage,
his father, Louis, suffered heavy losses of money through a defaulting
cashier. Antoine did not take this to heart; moreover, no one ever knew
of the incident, which was carefully kept from the knowledge of every
one outside of the family.

‘11. He wrote under a pseudonym. He wrote a few insignificant plays in
1876 or 1877; but it would be almost impossible to recover traces of
them to-day.

‘12. The house where he was born, and where he lived up to the time
of his marriage, is very old (situated on the Quai de H., and not in
the Faubourg Montmartre); the furniture is ancient; the house is quite
unlike a modern one.

‘13. The description of Lucie, his wife, is exact—“a very charming
woman with beautiful dark hair and eyes.” Antoine had a portrait of her
in a locket, which he used to wear on his person.

‘14. In a conversation I had with him a short time before his death, he
spoke to me about the extreme fatigue which he felt, a kind of general
lassitude, and of his great need of change and rest.

‘In all the above facts there is an admirable and most unlikely
concordance between the reality and the indications given by Madame X.

‘To be quite complete, I ought to mention the facts which I have not
been able to verify, and those which seem inexact to me.

‘Among the facts I have been unable to verify, are the names of Yvonne,
Josephine, Sarah, Marguerite, Georges, Clotilde.

‘The chief inexact details are the story of Lucie’s true husband—a
Jew (_un gros juif_)—and of the child Lucie and Antoine had, of whose
existence hardly any one knew; also the detail of having been wounded
during the Commune and his wound having been dressed by my father.
I ought also to add that Antoine and Marie B. were at Fontainebleau
with their three children. However, for reasons which I will develop
further on, these errors have a great interest and merit an attentive

‘When considering these phenomena we must, first of all, rid ourselves
of commonplace prejudices. The question is, not whether such or such a
phenomenon does or does not concord with recognised ideas, but whether
the phenomenon exists or does not exist—always supposing, of course,
that it be not in flagrant contradiction with established and verified

‘Therefore every effort of demonstration must be concentrated on this
one point: Can we explain the above facts by any known process? For
the sake of simplicity let us only take one of the facts, that of the
presence—“or of the _thought_”—of Antoine B. at the Melun railway
station. We have seen that I fell into error by endeavouring to explain
this presence—or this _thought_—by a term at the School of Artillery
at Fontainebleau; and I do not see what other explanation can be
attempted, since not the slightest trace is left of Antoine’s visit to
Fontainebleau with his wife twenty years ago.

‘Even if an expensive detective inquiry had been set on foot, it is
highly doubtful if anything concerning Monsieur and Madame B.’s visit
to Fontainebleau could have been found out.

‘Therefore, at the very outset, and without taking into account any
of the other exact details in Madame X.’s visions, we encounter
the material impossibility of establishing any relations between
Fontainebleau and Antoine.

‘But, just for one moment, let us make the concession that the names
of Monsieur and Madame B. had been somewhere met with at Barbizon
after an interval of twenty years; this would immediately entail the
knowledge of many other details ever so much easier to gather than were
those very details given by Madame X., and not only easier but also
more exact. Had this visit become known to Madame X. by any normal
means, there would not have been the story of an illegal union, and of
a residence of five years at Fontainebleau.[12] So even the mistakes
are a confirmation of the truth, one of the most interesting of
confirmations; for, honestly, we cannot suppose that, knowing the real
facts, Madame X. would have taken it into her head to add facts, which
she knew to be incorrect.

      [12] Let us, however, point out that Antoine had been
      five years married when he died, and that he had been
      at Fontainebleau with his wife, consequently the error,
      which consists in saying five years of life together at
      Fontainebleau, constitutes only a relative error.

‘To put it in another way, even if we admit this absurdity of an
extremely cleverly conducted detective inquiry making known to Madame
X. the story of Antoine’s life, she would not have distorted the
results of such an inquiry by introducing errors therein. To take an
example, when Antoine was at Fontainebleau with his wife and three
children, she would have mentioned the other two children. She would
also have said—and this was extremely easy to find out—that the B.
establishment was situated on the Quai de H., and not in the Faubourg

‘Therefore, every point carefully considered, I think it is absolutely
certain that normal means of knowledge could not establish any
connection between Antoine and Fontainebleau.

‘In the second place, unpublished details were furnished. I will pass
over all the details—though they too be correct—which might be found
in biographical or necrological articles; I will simply draw attention
to the following five extremely private details:—

  ‘1. The name of Lucie; and a locket containing her portrait which
        Antoine always wore on his person.

  ‘2. The names of “Carlos” and “Tony.”

  ‘3. A pseudonym.

  ‘4. Money lost by his father.

  ‘5. The circumstances of his death.

‘Now, not one of these details could have been found out by any
inquiry, however clever, however well-planned and well carried out such
an inquiry might have been.

‘1. Madame B. was the _only_ living person who knew of Antoine’s
preference for the name of Lucie. She had never spoken of this to any
one; and it is a minute detail of which I was in complete ignorance,
until Madame B. told me of it in 1901, after hearing about the visions
Madame X. had related to me in her letters, a year before.

‘2. I was the _only_ person living who knew that Antoine called me
“Carlos”; and this is not a very commonplace statement, since no one,
save Antoine, has ever called me “Carlos.”

‘3. No one ever suspected Antoine of having written under a _nom de
plume_; the few insignificant things he wrote for the stage are so
entirely forgotten, that Madame B. herself remembered nothing about
them in 1901; and it is even highly probable that what he wrote could
not be found again, the Bobino theatre, where he presented his plays,
having disappeared years ago.

‘4. The monetary losses which his father, Louis B., sustained a short
while before Antoine’s marriage, had been carefully kept from the
knowledge of every one. These losses were occasioned by a dishonest
cashier. The man was not prosecuted. Notwithstanding the importance of
the sum involved, Antoine was relatively indifferent to the loss, as
was distinctly indicated by Madame X.

‘5. The circumstances of his death are described with striking reality.
I kissed Antoine on the forehead when he was dead. Some little time
before the end, he spoke to me about his health, saying he felt in
great need of rest. He did not look ill, however, and he died, after a
few hours’ illness only, from a cardiac affection: _quelque chose l’a
étouffé à la poitrine_.

‘There is still another item of interest, which I wish to touch upon:
this is, the “message” from Antoine to his wife: _rien de mauvais ne
lui arrivera_. These words were written by Madame X. in one of her
letters to me, with the indication that Antoine had pronounced them
on a certain day. Now, on that very day, Madame B. was delivered of a
still-born child. She was, therefore, in a perilous condition at the
very time Antoine said: “I watch over her, even now; tell her, no evil
will ever befall her.”

‘We have, now, to draw our conclusion. The hypothesis of chance is
absurd; the hypothesis of fraud is absurd; there remains but a third
hypothesis, that of a phenomenon inexplicable by any of the existing
data of our knowledge. It is for this inexplicable phenomenon, that we
are going to try and find an explanation.

‘Two explanations at once present themselves: α, either this
knowledge is entirely due to the intellectual faculties of Madame X.;
or β, some other intelligence intervenes, which manifests itself to
Madame X.

‘α. This hypothesis is rather complicated, for it is not in the
form of abstract knowledge that Madame X. learnt of all these real
facts concerning Antoine, but in the form of Antoine himself. So that,
if it really be only a question of abstract notions, these abstract
notions have taken a concrete form in order to manifest themselves.
They would thus have constituted a sort of error in themselves. It
has been supposed that Antoine himself came into the railway carriage
at Melun, that he accompanied Madame X. in her walks in the forest at
Fontainebleau during the whole month of October 1900, that he related
the story of his life to her; and there is something which shocks us
in the thought that, though the story told to Madame X. be true, there
was no Antoine. At the same time, this objection is not paramount; for
we know so little of the ways in which supernormal knowledge flows into
the mind, that we are unable to make any negation concerning them.

‘Moreover, it is, relatively, more rational, not to suppose the
intervention of another force, since, _à la rigueur_, a human
intelligence, under extraordinary conditions of clairvoyance, may
suffice to explain everything.

‘β. If other personalities intervene, they may be either β´,
the personality of Antoine B. himself, or, β´´, other forces
non-identical with human personalities.

‘β´. Assuredly, the hypothesis that it is the consciousness of
Antoine B. himself who came to Madame X. is the simplest, and at a
first glance, it satisfies us. But then! what a number of objections
such a hypothesis raises! How is it possible for the consciousness
to survive after death? How can intelligences which suffer birth
escape death? A beginning implies an end: Birth implies death, the one
involves the other!

‘β´´. Other forces such as genii, demons, angels, etc., may exist,
as strict logic commands us to admit. There is a certain impertinence
in supposing that, in the Infinite Immensity of Worlds and Forces, man
is the only force capable of thinking. It seems to me necessary to
admit, that there exist intelligent forces in nature, other than man;
forces, which are constituted differently to him, and are consequently
imperceptible to his normal senses; these forces may be called angels,
genii, demons, spirits, no matter the name we give them. It is evident,
however, that this hypothesis of intelligent forces ought not to be
confounded with the hypothesis of human personalities surviving after
death. These are two absolutely distinct hypotheses. Now, I think that
it is not the hypothesis of intelligent forces which is doubtful; what
is extremely doubtful is that these forces can enter into communication
with man. Moreover, as in the case under notice, why should they take
the material appearance of a deceased human being, and declare their
identity with such?

‘We see that all the explanations so far put forth are imperfect, and,
for my part, I find them so imperfect, that I am inclined to believe in
some other hypothesis which I do not know, which I cannot even guess,
but which, nevertheless, I am convinced exists, since here we have real
facts, which not any of the hypotheses heretofore presented can explain
in a satisfactory manner. It is to this hypothesis _X_ that I attach
myself, for the present, recognising, while doing so, that there is a
certain amount of irony in proposing a hypothesis, of which I am unable
to give the formula.

‘In conclusion, we see that this case of Antoine B. involves the whole
problem of spiritism. It appeared to interest you, my friend, and I
have, therefore, related it to you, because the simple and complete
narration of facts ought to precede theories.’

  _November 1903._

‘MY DEAR MAXWELL,—The series of phenomena concerning Antoine B. do not
cease with the recital I recently sent you. That recital comports an
epilogue not less extraordinary than itself. I say an “epilogue,” for
most assuredly it has some connection—of a psychological order—with
the preceding recital. I will set it forth as concisely as possible:

‘One evening in May 1903 I was dining with Madame X. and her family.
After dinner we tried for phenomena, but received nothing. Towards the
close of the evening, shortly before I left, Madame X. pronounced the
following words—words which I wrote down among my notes as soon as
I reached home—“I see a woman standing near me; she has grey hair,
she is about fifty years of age, but looks older than she really is.
Her hair is quite grey. I believe it is Madame B.” (Antoine’s widow),
“though I am not quite sure yet. I see the figure 7 with her, which
probably means that she will die in seven months, or on the 7th of some
near month.” Such is the copy of the very brief note I took of Madame
X.’s words. I ought to add that this note is a much abridged account of
Madame X.’s actual words, and that she also said:—“Madame B. is very
ill; she has some sort of chest complaint—perhaps tuberculosis—and she
will die very soon indeed.”

‘What renders this premonition extremely interesting is that Madame
B., at that moment, was only very slightly ill. She was so slightly
indisposed, that not for a moment did the thought ever cross my mind,
that her indisposition might turn into anything serious. Neither I
nor any one in the world suspected any danger whatsoever. But fifteen
days after this prognostication had been made, the apparently slight
bronchial affection from which Madame B. was suffering, and of which I
had, naturally, never said a word to Madame X., remained stationary,
but still the idea that the result might prove fatal never entered into
any one’s head.

‘Nevertheless, the result did prove fatal. Madame B. died, within
seven weeks after Madame X.’s prediction, on Tuesday, 30th June 1903,
after a very sudden and irresistible aggravation of her previously
slight indisposition, which carried her off in four or five days. The
illness turned out to be a sort of pulmonary affection, the nature of
which is still unknown to the doctors who attended her: (tuberculosis?
infectious _grippe_?).

‘An interesting detail: Madame B. had black hair; I, who knew her well,
had never noticed any grey in her hair; I did not know she was grey.
Now a few days before her illness took a serious turn, one of the
members of my family who had just been paying Madame B. a visit, said
to me: “Madame B. does not dye her hair any longer, so that one can now
see how very grey she is!”

‘Here is a veritable premonition. The authenticity of this remarkable
fact cannot be doubted, for it would have been impossible for me, or
for any one else, by means of telepathy, or in any other way, to convey
to Madame X. the idea of a death, in which I did not believe, and which
did not, even for a moment, cross my mind, or any one else’s mind.

‘Such, dear Dr. Maxwell, is the epilogue of the recital I sent you.
Although we cannot state precisely the link uniting the diverse
psychical phenomena exposed in my two letters, I do not think we
can consider them as independent of each other. There are certain
mysterious relations here, which the future, aided by our patience,
will certainly elucidate.—Yours sincerely,


  _January 1905._

‘DEAR FRIEND,—During the revision of the above pages, whilst I was
showing them to Madame X., the latter told me that “the family B. were
not yet done with” [_tout n’est pas fini encore pour la famille B.!_];
her words conveyed to me the impression of a presentiment of some
misfortune about to fall upon that family. These words were uttered
between 3 and 4 o’clock on the 23rd December 1904.

‘Now, during the night of the 23rd-24th December, towards 11 o’clock,
Louis B. (the son of Antoine B.) narrowly escaped being killed in
a serious railway accident. That he was saved was little short of
a miracle. When, on the morning of the 24th December, I saw by the
newspapers that Louis had escaped, I was struck by the thought that
Madame X.’s prediction [_tout n’est pas fini encore pour la famille
B._] had been on the point of becoming realised.

‘Alas! the presentiment was but too true; for Oliver L., the son of
Madame B.’s second husband, was in the same train as Louis B., and,
though the morning papers did not mention the fact, he was killed

       *       *       *       *       *

‘I have another interesting point to mention in connection with this
presentiment. On the 8th July 1903 Madame X. wrote to me saying,
that Madame B.’s death (she had just died) would be soon followed by
another. She added: ‘Some one tells me that one of the sons will soon
die,—before the end of two years. I think it is Jacques B., but they do
not say so.’ [_Quelqu’un me dit qu’un des fils mourra bientôt, avant
deux ans. Je pense que c’est Jacques B., mais on ne le dit pas._]

‘Thus this premonition—somewhat vague it is true—pronounced eighteen
months before, was realised. It will be remarked that Madame X., by
adding her own impression to her auditory perception, committed an
error; whilst the perception itself, though not very explicit, was
correct.—Yours very sincerely,



The observations which I have just laid before my readers, relate to
facts occurring in the domain of sensibility; the motor centres do not
escape automatism, and there is a whole series of motor automatisms,
simple or mixed, to be noticed. For the sake of clearness, I will
divide them into four classes:—

1. Simple muscular automatism:—Typtology; Planchette; and diverse
alphabetic systems, ouija, etc.

2. Graphic muscular automatism:—Automatic script and drawing;
Planchettes, baskets, tables.

3. Phonetic automatism:—Automatic discourses.

4. Mixed automatisms:—Incarnations.

I will remark, first of all, that the word automatism, borrowed from
Myer’s terminology, is not strictly correct. In reality, we can only
speak of automatism when we are in presence of mechanical acts,
excluding intervention of the will. Now this is not the case with the
acts in question; these acts, which appear to be automatic if they are
looked at solely from the point of view of the personal consciousness,
are in reality due to some sort of consciousness, parasitic or
non-parasitic, and offer the characteristic features of voluntary acts.
These reserves made, I will continue, for want of better, to use the
word consecrated by custom.

1. Simple muscular automatism.—I designate thus those acts which
require no association of complicated movements, such as the movements
of writing and language exact. The simplest way of provoking this
automatism is in the ordinary spiritistic process of typtology.

The experimenters sit down round a table, and lay their hands lightly
on it. Sooner or later the table trembles, sways about from side to
side, sometimes turns round, but more often raises one of its feet and
strikes the ground with it. A code of signals is arranged to express
‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘doubtful’—_e.g._ three, two, and four:—the manner in
which the alphabet is to be pointed out is also agreed upon, either the
table will strike the number of the letter’s rank, for example, one for
A, three for C, 15 for O, 20 for T, etc., or it will strike the floor
when the letter desired is pronounced.

I rank this phenomenon with automatisms because, nearly always,
it has appeared to me to be due to involuntary, or unconscious
movements. I do not like this kind of experiment; it does not carry
conviction. Gasparian, and after him, Chevreul have given the correct
interpretation of it.

It is interesting only when the communications obtained reveal facts,
apparently unknown to the experimenters. Then the phenomenon is no
longer explicable by simple automatic action: the muscular movement
is determined by the impersonal consciousness of the sitters or the
medium, and becomes the manner of transmitting the message addressed by
the impersonal consciousness to the personal consciousness. In fact,
we conceive that, if what I said concerning parakinesis be correct,
the movements of the table may be sometimes parakinetic. I have been
present at many seances for typtology, but I have never verified
interesting facts, except the one I related concerning _Touton la
Pipe_. When the experiments are conducted under the conditions which
I consider indispensable, I am careful not to encourage typtological

There exists other means of inducing simple muscular automatism. The
best are instruments after the style of the psychograph. The alphabet,
numbers, and the words ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘I do not know,’ are written on a
dial in the centre of which a needle is placed. The displacements of
this index hand indicate the letters, numbers, etc., like the needle
of the dial of a Bréguet telegraph. These dials are made of different
sizes, and of different materials. It is best, however, to construct
them in the following manner:—take a square piece of white wood,
non-resinous, from seventeen to twenty inches broad. Trace thereon a
circumference of seven to nine inches in diameter, and write around it
the letters of the alphabet, numbers, the words, ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘I do
not know,’ and any other desired indications. Place in the centre of
the circle a bone or ivory pivot, the axis round which the needle will
turn. Make the needle of wood, giving it enough thickness and solidity
for the hands to be able to rest on it. It is not necessary to give
much mobility to the needle if the hands are to rest on it; in this
case, it will suffice to pierce a hole in it, through which the pivot
may pass.[13]

      [13] Articles of this nature may be found at Leymarie’s, 42 Rue
      Saint-Jacques, Paris; and at the office of _Light_, 110 St.
      Martin’s Lane, London.

I have been told of cases where the needle moved of its own accord; but
I have not personally verified this fact. If movements of the needle
without contact be desired, it would be well to give a more perfect
suspension to the needle: this may be accomplished by supporting it on
small movable rollers, like those on the planchettes used for automatic

I have rarely experimented with psychographs, for the same reasons
which made me shun typtology.

I will say the same thing of another kind of apparatus: the ouija, made
in England. It is a board on which the alphabet and other signs are
written. A small movable planchette supported on three or four feet
is placed on the board; the sitters put their hands on the planchette
which points out the letters, etc., with one of its feet, a process
which is irksome, to say the least of it.

There are yet other means for inducing muscular automatism. I will
point out, as an example, the very ancient method of divination by the
ring. A metal, or better still an ivory ring, is suspended to a hair or
silken thread. The end of the hair or thread is held in the fingers;
the ring is held, thus suspended, in the centre of a small circle of
three or four inches in diameter on which the alphabet is written.

At the end of a certain time, the ring sways about, then strikes the
letters, sometimes spelling out words. By placing the ring in a glass,
it will strike against it, giving indications in this way. I have only
used this method once or twice, for it seemed to me to present very
little interest. This is in reality Chevreul’s exploring pendulum.

2. Automatic script.—Automatic writing is, I think, one of the most
interesting of all phenomena; I have no need to bring to mind the
important studies which Myers, Hodgson, Hyslop, Sidgwick, and others
have made on this phenomena. I have been able to make some observations
of great interest, but the limits of this book do not permit me to
give a detailed report of them. The thorough examination I made of one
particular case of automatic writing—a rather rudimentary case, it is
true—clearly revealed to me the play of the unconscious souvenirs of
the medium.

The methods for obtaining automatic writing are numerous. We can even
make a table write by fixing a pencil to one of its feet; the same
with a hat or basket, etc. More perfect methods exist, of which the
following are the best:—

First of all the planchette; an instrument in the shape of an oval
piece of wood, resting on three movable tiny ivory rollers, with a
small copper setting at one end, in which a lead-pencil may be screwed.
With the planchette two or three persons may write at the same time.

Another equally good method is the following: Fix two, three or four
handles on to a large wooden ball, of about seven inches in diameter.
Fix the pencil in a hole bored through the ball, each handle of which
is held by an experimenter. Place a sheet of paper underneath the
pencil, the latter will then often move and write words and phrases.

Finally, the best method of all is to write naturally, without any
instrument at all. The sensitive sits down with a pencil, as though to
write, and waits.

Whatever the method adopted may be, it is seldom that automatic writing
is manifested at the outset. Generally one or several seances are
passed in illegible scribblings, in making strokes, zigzags, in endless
repetitions of the same letter. But we must not be discouraged; on the
contrary, we must continue experimenting for a certain time, before
concluding to the impossibility of success. Whether we be trying to
obtain collective or ordinary automatic writing, it is a good plan
to consecrate ten or fifteen minutes every day, always at the same
hour, to these trials. The phenomenon takes a long time to evolve, and
people, who have obtained most curious results with automatic writing,
have passed months in developing their faculty.

As I said before, I have chiefly directed my experiments towards the
observation of movements without contact; therefore, I have not sought
very assiduously to obtain automatic writing with my mediums. The
greater number of cases I have observed offer little interest, if we
compare them to the curious visual hallucinations which I related a
little while ago. I will make an exception though for one which I am
in the act of studying, and which makes me conceive some hopes, the
sensitive having written in English, a language which I am positive
he does not know. This medium, like many I have met with, submits
grudgingly to these experiments, and has not yet consented to sit
regularly for automatic writing. I hope I may succeed in persuading him
to do so.

Though my observations present very little relative interest, I will
give some examples of the results I have obtained personally. I will
give them simply as indications, for, none of the facts I have observed
present, so far, any real interest, except the one I was able to
analyse, and even this contains nothing of a transcendental nature.

I myself have often tried to write with the planchette. I obtained
words and incoherent phrases, all extremely commonplace. I wrote
alone or with others; alone, I obtained it with the left as well as
with the right hand. The left hand sometimes gives mirror-writing,
_Spiegelschrift_; with the planchette, the left hand generally writes
in the usual manner from left to right. One point to be noted with
planchette-writing, is the dissociation of the graphic elements. The
letters are as a rule fairly large, varying from an eighth of an
inch to nearly an inch. It is chiefly in capital letters we find the
dissociation curious. The characteristics of my hand-writing are not
altered. I will add that this manifestation does not present much
interest, for I am perfectly conscious of what I write when alone,
and when I write with another person, the movements of the planchette
indicate to me what letters are being formed.

With the ball and handles, of which I gave a description, I once
observed a curious fact. I was experimenting with a lady and her
husband; the former is a medium whose faculties are above the average.
The writing announced the reception of a letter from Hendaye on the
morrow. The letter came; but to demonstrate the premonitory feature
of this fact, I have only the affirmation of my co-experimenters, and
although they are people of unimpeachable probity, their affirmation
alone would be insufficient to establish the reality of the premonition
in a positive manner. Therefore, I only give it as a specimen of the
facts which may be obtained with automatic writing.

I have often observed ordinary writing, but I have never obtained a
veridic paranormal fact in this way. I have, as I said, studied a case
of semi-automatic writing, and was able to analyse its psychological
features thoroughly. The writer was what spiritualists call an
_intuitive_ medium, that is to say, he was conscious of what he wrote.
He was thirty-five years of age, and had never indulged in spiritistic
practices before, though he knew the literature, especially Allan
Kardac’s works. At the time the phenomenon manifested itself with him,
he was mentally overdone through excess of brain work. He occupied an
important official position. Apparently he has no nervous defect, and,
except for frequent headaches, his health is good. I have not been able
to study his reflex movements, nor examine him from a somatic point of

He commenced writing with the planchette; he had a sensation of being
guided, but knew what he wrote and what he was going to write. There
was, therefore, a beginning of dissociation between the mental images,
properly so called, and their motor action. This fact should be noted,
because it seems to me to have an interesting signification, in so far
as it demonstrates that the ideomotor image is not simple, but has
complex elements, and, notably, that elements which are purely ideal
and motor elements can become dissociated. In the example cited, the
sensitive was fully conscious of the _ideas_ which were formed in, or
which presented themselves to, his consciousness. On the contrary,
he was not fully conscious of the movements his hand made. The
stereognostic perception and the muscular sense were intact; only the
consciousness of the origin of the accomplished movement was obscure;
therefore, it was only the sphere of voluntary motor power in the
personal consciousness which was touched.

The first manifestations of pseudo-automatic writing claimed to
emanate from a deceased relation. This relation was quite disposed to
communicate facts known to the sensitive, but manifested very little
eagerness to answer questions which the sensitive’s consciousness
could not answer. Invited to justify his identity, the personality
showed itself incapable of giving the slightest proof.

Meanwhile, the sensitive tried ordinary writing, and obtained
it. It presented the same features as planchette-writing. A new
personification came and assisted the deceased relation—he was nothing
less than a Mahatma from India! At this time the sensitive was
reading the works of Madame Blavatsky and Mr. Sinnett, especially the
latter’s _Occult World_. The communications were signed _Hymaladar_.
This Mahatma presented nothing of transcendental interest, and was
lavish with his promises. He declared he was ready to undertake the
exoteric education of the sensitive, who, in his _naïveté_, yielded to
the Mahatma’s advice. The Mahatma promised to transport him actually
over to India, to precipitate letters, etc. The promises were never

Other personifications manifested; the sensitive tried to obtain
some proofs of identity, but without success. On the other hand the
personifications were verbose on general topics, and gave proof of a
lively imagination. Here are some specimens of their style and ideas.

A guide, signing himself _Memnon_, expressed the following opinion upon
a certain mystic book:—

‘... Do not allow yourself to be led away by its descriptions: they
apply to all those who, in no matter what religion, devote themselves
to a contemplative life, which is, assuredly, a blessing, but one which
must be won by patience and effort. When the duties common to every man
born of the flesh have been fulfilled, abstention from the imperious
duty of procreation can, and really does, favour the faculty for
projection of the soul, and renders _ecstasy_ easier; but not only is
such a development artificial, it is also reprehensible to arrive at
that contemplative life, without having founded a family in compliance
with the imprescriptible law of nature. Herein lies the original
vice of all religious communities which offend creation’s views; it
would suffice to generalise the doctrine to discover its falseness
immediately. Man has physical as well as moral duties to accomplish: he
is composed of a body and a soul; he is culpable when he subordinates
one of his composing parts to the other. The senses have no more the
right to command the body than the soul has of making the body suffer
in its physical functions. The suppression of any natural function
is criminal, and every religious order does this. This is their
capital error. He who has raised children and satisfied the physical
evolution, he alone has the right to withdraw from the world, to lead
a contemplative life, when the body, worn out by old age, has finished
its active rôle here below. It is only then that preparation is useful.’

The pencil was verbose every time general subjects were broached.
Whenever the sensitive pressed the personification on some given point,
the latter was silent—he disappeared. The questions were written as
well as the replies. There are some amusing conversations, where the
‘spirit’ plays a rôle other than that of simple interlocutor. By way of
specimen, I note the following dialogue:—

Q. Do you see me?

A. Yes, but badly; we do not see matter clearly; a long apprenticeship
is necessary, and we have not been working long with matter.

Q. Is it long since you left your sphere?

A. Eight years.

Q. Who are you?

A. Monsieur A.

Q. And?

A. And Mamie Beaupuyat.

Q. You have known me?

A. Yes, I was one of your college friends.

Q. Where?

A. At N.

Q. What college?

A. Z. College.

Q. Will you write your name again?

A. Maurice B. (here the name of a street).

Q. I do not remember having known you my friend. Remark this, you have
given me two different names, Beaupuyat and B.

A. Many details are forgotten in Paradise (_sic_).

Q. Ah! strange ambassador! You come to see me without letters of credit!

A. Good-bye.

Q. Good-night.

       *       *       *       *       *

The subconscious excuse for the contradiction pointed out is not
wanting in humour.

Here is another example:—

Q. Are my guides here?

A. We are always at hand to help you, always.

Q. Will you show yourselves to me?

A. Ought you to ask us for anything before giving us tokens?

       *       *       *       *       *

Q. Is it X. who is influencing me?

A. Yes.

Q. But he is dead?

A. Yes.

Q. But you forbid me to evoke the dead?

A. We are the spirits of dead people.

Q. But you told me you were Mahatmas?

A. We are _Mahatmas_, but _Mahatmas_ are not living.

Q. Is it again a trick of my subliminal?

A. Yes, your subliminal is the will.

Q. Yes, it is true, but the will is chiefly superliminal.

A. You are right.

Q. Why do you always make fun of me?

A. We do so to please the Lord.

Q. This is cruel. I am in earnest, and your lord, if he be just, will
punish you severely for your farces.

A. Yes, he will give us the whip.

Q. I do not like this joking, leave me.

A. Always ... (illegible).

Q. What?

A. Magician.

Q. Am I a magician?

A. Yes.

Q. I did not know it.

A. Always do good, and you will be happy.

Q. Happiness is not so easy to obtain.

A. Good-bye.

Q. Who are you?

A. A friend.

       *       *       *       *       *

This is simply nonsense. I have quoted these three examples in order
to show the growing analogy found therein with the delirium of dream.
It is scarcely visible in the first quotation, which is coherent,
logical and of fairly elegant form. But the ideas which are expressed
have their sources in subconscious souvenirs: they will be found in
_Spirit Teachings_, _Higher Aspects of Spiritualism_, _Occult World_,
and _Esoteric Buddhism_.

The second quotation reveals decided oneiroscopic associations. The
name Beaupuyat awakens no souvenir; the name of a street having nearly
the same assonance is then substituted for it; this is an illogical
association, formed by phonetic elements. The explanation of the
contradiction between the names given successively is very illogical,
but it is what might be called ‘a good hit.’ This is one of our ways of
reasoning with ourselves in dreams.

The third quotation shows a still more marked degree of incoherence.
The first replies are attempts at conciliation of contradictions
impossible to do away with: they are affirmations which are but echoes
of the questions asked. I do not quite understand the association
between subliminal and will; but the emergence of the idea of will
gives place to a curious phenomenon: the evolution of a parasitical
association of ideas bringing to mind the psychological phenomenon
which A. Pick describes under the name of _Vorbeidenken_. We have
non-expressed stages, from will to ‘God’s will,’ words which are often
associated together in religious language: ‘to do the will of God, to
be agreeable to God.’ The incoherent reply, which consists in saying
that the Mahatmas make fun of the subject in order to be agreeable to
God, is then the last link of a chain of latent associations; this
last link is the only one shown. Also, the incongruous idea of beings
who call themselves spirits and wise men, and declare they must be
whipped, is the result of an evident association between the idea
of being severe consciously expressed, and the idea of severity,
chastisement, whip, average latent terms. The psychological analysis,
therefore, reveals to us mental processes which are known and classed.
It shows us, that the dream character of subconscious messages
does not differ from that observed in the mental operations of the
consciousness, as soon as the latter’s personal and voluntary activity
becomes weakened or gradually gives place to spontaneous ideation.
I think the three examples I have chosen show this progressive
debilitation very well, and also the corresponding accentuation of the
characteristics of dream in the messages obtained. The case I examined
is at the limit of paranormal facts, but the inquisitive reader has at
his disposal the weighty analysis of the transcendental cases published
in the _Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research_, epitomised
by M. Sage in his book _Mrs. Piper et la Société Anglo-Américaine des
Recherches Psychiques_, to verify the accuracy of my conclusion, viz.
that the mental processes in simple cases, as well as in the more
complex cases, are identical.

I return to the case observed by me. The obstinacy of even the best and
most moral of these personalities in refusing to expose themselves to
any control whatsoever, the falsehoods they were imprudent enough to
overlook, and the critical attitude of mind of the sensitive himself,
awakened a spirit of distrust in the latter. He began to observe
himself, and the first result of his observation of the conditions
under which the writing was produced, was the gradual disappearance
of the sensation of impulse which he had felt: his pencil, he told
me, had seemed to follow a magnet. As this sensation weakened and
disappeared, so the personifications affected to be either grievously
pained, or cold and dignified, or frankly insolent; they all deplored
the sensitive’s incredulity. The relation bade him adieu and appeared
no more; Hymaladar himself ceased to be interested in his _chela_. The
sensitive soon saw the futility of his efforts, and the writing ceased
completely to present the peculiarity it had offered during several

This case is instructive, because it is on the borderline between
conscious and unconscious phenomena. Thanks to the clear and complete
indications on the part of the sensitive, I was able to reconstitute
the genesis of every personality. That of the relation is easily
explained, but Hymaladar was more rebellious to analysis. Upon
investigation it appeared to me to be the synthesis of the words
Hymalaya and Damodar. The one, which quite naturally evokes the thought
of India, is the dwelling-place of the sages who, it appears, preside
in a very secret manner at the evolution of the theosophical movement;
the disciple or _chela_ of one of them was the guru, the master of
Madame Blavatsky. His name was Damodar. The associated ideas—Blavatsky,
India, Hymalaya, Damodar—lead up to the word _Hymala_ (ya Damo) _dar_;
the genesis of the word is thus quite comprehensible.

At present I am observing a more complex case, in which paranormal
phenomena accompany automatic writing. The sensitive, who is in the act
of developing his medianity, unfortunately gives himself up rather
unwillingly to observation. He does not know English, yet he has
automatically written certain phrases in English. However, we must not
conclude therefrom, that these messages are of transcendental origin.
This sensitive is a well-educated person, and most probably English
words and phrases have fallen under his eyes from time to time; thus
the irruption of English in messages he obtains may be explained by
the emergence of subconscious souvenirs. The tenor of the messages
is still vague; the writing is often difficult to read; no precise
fact capable of being analysed and verified has so far been given. It
appears to me useless, in these circumstances, to give examples of
these messages, but I will point out an interesting peculiarity which
I have observed only with this sensitive. This is the concomitancy of
raps and automatic writing. I have most carefully studied these raps;
they appear to me to occur on a level with the point of the pencil.
The phenomenon is forthcoming in broad daylight, and under excellent
conditions of observation. An attentive examination shows that the
point of the pencil does not leave the paper. The raps are forthcoming
even when I put my finger on the upper end of the pencil, and when
I press the point on the paper. The pencil vibrates, but it is not
displaced. As these raps are very sonorous, I have calculated that it
would be necessary to give rather a strong knock in order to reproduce
them artificially: the necessary movement would require raising the
pencil from the twentieth to the eighth of an inch, according to the
intensity of the raps. Now, the pencil does not appear to be displaced.
Further, when the writing runs quickly the raps succeed one another
with great rapidity, and the close examination of the writing reveals
no stops; the text is unbroken, no trace of pencil dots is perceptible,
there is no thickening of the characters. The conditions of observation
appear to me to exclude the possibility of a trick. I will add that
during this automatic writing the arm and hand of the sensitive are in
a state of anæsthesia.

3. Phonetic and mixed automatisms. I combine these two categories of
automatisms because the automatism is seldom purely phonetic. The
sensitive makes gestures appropriate to the personage he represents,
and the automatism is complicated; the muscles which regulate the
emission of the voice are not the only ones in activity.

This kind of automatism is very easy to observe. It is the basis of
ordinary spiritistic seances; it is called ‘incarnation’ or ‘control,’
and the sensitive, who produces this kind of phenomena, is called a
‘trance medium.’

Its necessary condition is the trance or somnambulistic state. The
sensitive falls asleep spontaneously, or is put to sleep artificially
by passes. After a certain time, more or less long, and after diverse
movements, the most usual of which seem to be muscular contractions of
the face and pharynx, the sensitive enters into somnambulism and passes
into the secondary state. Some subjects fall asleep very quickly. It
is not a rare thing in spiritistic seances, for two or three persons
to enter into a state of somnambulism at the same time. The perfection
of the sensitive’s acting, when personifying diverse individualities,
is most striking when they have known the persons they are imitating.
Observation is extremely interesting. In spiritistic seances these
personalities, naturally, always represent spirits.

I have seen nothing in this order of phenomenon which appeared to me
worth noting. Everything is easily explained by the play of impersonal
memory and by imitation. Many transcendental facts have been related
to me: personally I have observed none. But I have very rarely tried
to provoke trance phenomena. They do not present the same interest to
me as physical phenomena do. The most interesting I have seen, were
given me by Madame Agullana, in private seances. This sensitive’s
most curious personality is that of a doctor, who died about eighty
or a hundred years ago: he has always refused to give any information
concerning his identity; the reason he advances for maintaining his
incognito—the existence of his family, members of whom are living in
the south of France—does not satisfy me; I imagine he is withholding
the best. His medical language is archaic. He calls plants by their
ancient medical names; his diagnosis, accompanied with extra-ordinary
explanations, is generally correct, but the description of the internal
symptoms which he perceives is such as would astound a doctor of
the twentieth century. Matters, fluids, molecules, dance a strange
saraband. Nevertheless, my colleague from beyond the tomb—not at all
loquacious, by the way—retains a serenity, which is proof against
everything, and humbly recognises that there are many things he does
not know. During the ten years I have been observing him, he has not
changed, and presents a logical continuity which is most striking.
Persons, who are not _au courant_ with the features of secondary
personalities, might easily be deceived and believe in his objective
reality. Be he what he says he is, or be he what I suspect him to be,
that is to say, one of the sensitive’s secondary personalities, my
_confrère_ Hippolytus is an interesting interlocutor, and, with his
conversation, one could write a work on clinical medicine which would
be rather out of the common. This is not the place to study him, for
his examination only raises problems of psychological interest. In
these phenomena of mixed automatism, of ‘incarnation,’ we observe the
complete development of _personifications_. These personifications
are the feature common to all psychical phenomena. Raps claim to
emanate from a given personality, paranormal movements have the same
pretension, automatic script assures us of a like origin: ‘incarnation’
or ‘control’ puts forth the claim of being the personality himself, in
full possession of the sensitive’s body, directing and using it as he

The problem which these personifications set before us is, perhaps, the
most interesting of all those which are to be met with, in the kind
of study to which this book is consecrated. I have pointed out, that
the general feature of these personifications is to present themselves
as living—or more usually deceased human beings. My observations
do not tend to make me think that this claim is well founded. It
does not come within the scheme of my work to analyse the different
hypotheses, which have been emitted by the different mystic schools.
Occultists profess to see astral shells, in these personifications,
debris—still organised—of the body’s astral double, which the superior
principles have abandoned. Theosophists have about the same theory,
designating these debris by the name of elementals. Spiritists
attribute their phenomena to the spirits of the dead. Roman Catholics
see the intervention of the devil therein, while the greater number of
savants only see fraud or chimera. All these opinions are too absolute.
There is, certainly, something; but I think this something is neither
spirit, shell, elemental nor demon. It is not my province to formulate
in detail my theory: properly speaking, I have not any. I observe
without bias of any kind, and the only indication I can give is the
following:—in almost every case I have studied, I believe I recognised
the mentality of the medium and the sitters in the personification. It
is true, there are certain cases which I cannot explain in this way;
but the spirit hypothesis explains them still less satisfactorily. We
must continue seeking.

The examples I have given of intellectual phenomena show that in every
case of which I have been able to make a thorough analysis, we discover
the action of the impersonal consciousness. This explains itself
naturally, since the personal and voluntary consciousness excludes by
definition the co-existence of a second personality. Nevertheless, this
is not absolutely true. The medium, of whom I have already spoken, he
who produces raps when writing, writes automatically while he speaks,
in quite a natural way, of other things. In fact, he only writes well
when his attention is drawn away from his hand. As soon as he is
conscious of the movement, the writing ceases. Things happen with him,
as though the normal consciousness lost all contact with the motor
centres of the arm and hand. A special consciousness appears to be
developed in these centres.


The difficulty, which is raised by the interpretation of facts of
the kind exposed above, is considerable. It is to be remembered,
that the sensitive of whom I have just spoken, does not appear to
suffer any diminution of his normal personality; he converses with
facility, his normal personal souvenirs and his intelligence remain
intact. His arm and hand alone, especially the latter, are withdrawn
from consciousness, and this in the sensitive as well as in the motor
spheres. Janet sees in these facts psychological disaggregation, and
in many cases his explication is the correct one. But it cannot be
applied to the case I am speaking of, for no diminution in the memory,
intelligence or mental activity is perceptible. However, Janet seems
to have only seen one of the phases of these curious phenomena. I
attach so much importance to the establishing of the _point de fait_
that, before all analysis thereof, I desire to state it precisely,
successively with the discussion.

The first circumstance of fact which observation of the case I am
examining reveals, is the one I have just pointed out: an apparent
dissociation of the normal personality, from the cenesthesic
consciousness of which a portion of the body is withdrawn. The second
circumstance is the relative knowledge of English—with correct
orthography excepting one mistake only—which is shown by the apparently
self-governed limb. Note also that I feel sure that this knowledge of
English is probably subconscious, and that I have supposed, although
this has not been proved, that the writer has now and then come across
a few English sentences, containing the phrases written by him. These
two circumstances are, for me, observed facts.

From these facts there results a third fact, the consequence of the
first two: the consciousness, which directs the limb withdrawn from
the personality, appears to have more considerable resources—at least
from a memory point of view—than the normal consciousness. If it be
correct to speak of apparent disaggregation in that which concerns
the conscious normal personality, it seems to me that this expression
ceases to represent the facts, as soon as it can be demonstrated, that
the consciousness manifested by the automatism is more extensive than
the normal consciousness. If we are to attach a precise meaning to
language—and Janet’s language is so clear and simple that we may not
accuse this elegant and remarkable writer of want of precision—the idea
of disaggregation implies the division of the personal consciousness
into elementary parts, according to definition, lesser than the whole.
This phenomenon is frequently observed, _e.g._ when automatic writing
shows itself to be incapable of logical co-ordination, of which I have
given examples; sometimes there is no trace of thought, properly so
called, _e.g._ when the sensitive confines himself to repeating _sine
die_ the same letter, or traces nothing but lines, and strokes, etc.
But can we consider the case as one of veritable disaggregation where
the hand, withdrawn from normal consciousness, appears to dispose of a
greater mass of souvenirs than the normal consciousness does?

Janet himself has verified the fact, and gives some examples of it
in his work, _Névroses et idées fixes_, vol i. After that, is it
not contradictory to say (_Automatisme psychologique_, p. 452): ‘The
result of our studies has been to bring back the diverse phenomena of
automatism to their essential conditions—most of these phenomena depend
upon a state of anæsthesia or abstraction. This state is connected with
the narrowing of the field of consciousness, and this narrowing itself
is due to the feebleness of synthesis and the disaggregation of the
mental compound into diverse groups smaller than they should normally
be. These diverse points are easy to verify; the state of abstraction,
incoherence, of disaggregation, in a word, of suggestible individuals
has often been pointed out.’ How can a group, smaller than the mental
compound of which it forms one of the parts, be more considerable
than that compound? How can a part be greater than its whole? This
is, nevertheless, a fact easily verifiable in the domain of memory
and sometimes in that of intelligence. Janet’s theory explains only
some of the observable facts; it is only partially true. It suffices
to compare the quotation I have just given with what he says in his
work, _Névroses et idées fixes_, vol. i. p. 137: ‘The souvenir even in
somnambulism only exists if the patient be oblivious to everything and
replies automatically to questions, by the mechanical association of
ideas without reflection, without the personal perception of what he is

‘... The souvenir, in a word, is only manifested unknown to the person:
it disappears when the person has to speak or write in his own name,
conscious of what he is doing.’ For Janet this is the sign of mental

The quotations I have just given define sharply Janet’s opinion,
and show up his mistake and his contradiction. That which becomes
disaggregated is the _personality_, the _personal consciousness_.
But it does not become resolved into groups smaller than they ought
normally to be, since these groups often show themselves to be more
comprehensive than the mental compound. It is, therefore, illogical to
consider them as a part which has become dissociated from the whole.

I have already had occasion to express my manner of thinking in other
writings: nevertheless, perhaps I may be permitted to indicate the
direction which psychological interpretation should take in order to
avoid an encounter with facts.

The personal consciousness is only one of the modalities of the general
consciousness. Clinical observation reveals that, in a great many
cases, it has been proved, that the souvenirs stored up in the general
consciousness are infinitely more numerous, than those which the
personal consciousness has at its free disposition. Myers has expressed
these ideas most happily in the following words (‘The Subliminal
Consciousness,’ _Proceedings, S. P. R._, vii. p. 301):—

‘I suggest, then, that the stream of consciousness in which we
habitually live is not the only consciousness which exists in
connection with our organism. Our habitual or empirical consciousness
may consist of a mere selection from a multitude of thoughts and
sensations, of which some at least are equally conscious with those
that we empirically know. I accord no primacy to my ordinary waking
self, except that among my potential selves this one has shown itself
the fittest to meet the needs of common life. I hold that it has
established no further claim, and that it is perfectly possible
that other thoughts, feelings, and memories, either isolated or in
continuous connection, may now be actively conscious, as we say,
‘within me’—in some kind of co-ordination with my organism, and forming
some part of my total individuality. I conceive it possible that at
some future time, and under changed conditions, I may recollect all; I
may assume these various personalities under one single consciousness,
in which ultimate and complete consciousness the empirical
consciousness which at this moment directs my hand may be only one
element out of many.’

He appears to me to be nearer the truth than Janet is: I do not know if
we shall ever arrive at that complete consciousness which Myers hopes
for, but it seems to me probable, that our personal consciousness is
only one element of our general consciousness. This latter becomes
concrete and definite, but also grows less by becoming personal.
The apparent supremacy of the personal consciousness may be only an
effect of the circumstances in which we are evolving; if Darwin’s
ideas are true, we can understand that the necessities of life may
have favoured the development of the active, voluntary, personal
consciousness; we can imagine other conditions—which the monastic life
sometimes realises—where the active and voluntary phases of the general
consciousness may be less evolved than its receptive and passive
phases. Therefore, the psychologist finds the study of hagiography
teeming with information.

Janet’s disaggregation is but the weakening of the sentiment of the
conscious and voluntary personal activity, of what I called the
sentiment of the personal participation in intercurrent psychological
phenomena. It is no veritable disaggregation; it is a disappearance of
one modality of the consciousness, of one of its _limited expressions_,
so to speak. However, I recognise, with Janet, that this mode of
expression of the consciousness is the necessary basis of our activity
in _ordinary life_, and that it is legitimate to consider as invalids,
those persons in whom it is normally wanting. But the fact itself
of its disappearance has more the features of an _integration_ than
of a _disintegration_, since upon an attentive examination, the
personal consciousness is revealed as a limitation and a special
determination of the general consciousness of which it is, in a way,
a dismemberment. If I dared to use metaphysical language, I would say
that rational and voluntary activity is in reality a disaggregation;
personality is only a contingent and limited manifestation of the
being, or rather of individuality. This latter, to use the expression
of an eminent philosopher, would be superior to reason itself, and of
irrational essence, an idea which contains the first principles of a
new philosophy. I make this incursion into metaphysics merely to show
how narrow Janet’s theories are, and what different consequences result
from such a professional manner of thinking as his is, and from a
more general conception of that, of which his manner of thinking only
concerns one particular case.

The facts, moreover, condemn Janet’s theory. I have too high an opinion
of the distinguished man whose ideas I criticise, but whose works
I admire sincerely, not to be convinced that he has only observed
undeveloped subjects. What demonstrates this in my eyes is his timid
affirmation, that ‘nearly always (I do not say always in order not to
prejudice an important question) these mediums are neurotics, when
they are not downright hysterics.’ It is difficult to discuss an
opinion expressed with so much reserve, and I can only commend him for
his circumspection, for my personal observations contradict his. I
have seen many mediums: the best were not _neurotics_ in the medical
sense of the word. The finest experiments I have made have been with
persons appearing to present none of the stigmæ of hysteria. Up to
the present Janet seems to have operated with invalids only, and I
am not surprised, therefore, that he should assimilate the automatic
phenomena of sensitives with those of his hysterical patients. It would
be surprising were it otherwise. I am not going to defend spiritistic
mediums; they appear to me to present very poor interest—at least in
ordinary seances—but my duty is to protest against the generality of
the judgment which Janet brings to bear upon automatic phenomena. Those
facts, which are worthy of careful observation, differ essentially
from those which ordinary hysterics present. They indicate no _misère
psychologique_—quite the contrary, and I will state the reasons why.

The discussion, in order to be clear, must be divided:

1. The phenomena observable with good mediums are not those we observe
in hysterical patients. I said I had obtained raps and movements
without contact under conditions of control, which appeared to me to
be convincing. I added that I had obtained by raps, or by the rappings
of a table without contact, words and phrases which were extremely
coherent. This is not quite the kind of phenomena to which hospital
patients have accustomed us. What does Janet say on this point?

‘The essential point of spiritism is indeed, we believe, the
disaggregation of psychological phenomena, and the formation beyond
the personal perception of a second series of thoughts detached from
the first. As for the means which the second personality employs to
manifest itself unknown to the first—movements of tables, automatic
writing or speaking, etc....—this is a secondary question (_sic_).
Where do those sounds come from which are heard on tables and walls
in answer to questions? Is it from a movement of the toes, of that
contraction of the tendon supposed by Jobert de Lamballe...? Is it from
a contraction of the stomach and from a veritable ventriloquism as
Gros. Jean supposes, or from some other physical action yet unknown?
Are they produced by the automatic movements of the medium himself, or,
indeed, as appears to me most likely in some cases, _in the obscurity
demanded by the spirits_(!) by the subconscious actions of one of the
assistants, who deceives others and himself at the same time, and who
becomes an accomplice without knowing it? It does not matter very much.’

That is not my opinion. I think, on the contrary, it matters a great
deal. I am positive that every sincere and patient experimenter will
observe, as I have done, in broad daylight, and not in obscurity,
sounds and movements which will not appear to be explicable by any
known cause. Those who, like myself, have verified these facts, will
not dream of attributing them to unconscious or involuntary movements,
to the cracking of a tendon, to ventriloquism. The cases observed by me
will not admit of this explanation. Things happen as though some force
or other were produced by the medium and the assistants, and could act
beyond the limits of the body. If this fact be correct, can we consider
it as secondary and without importance? On the contrary, does it not
open to the psychology of the future the road of direct observation
and experimentation, if, as I have tried to show, this force preserves
certain relations with our general consciousness? Does this not make
one think of those words of Proclus when speaking of souls:—

Τρίτη δὲ αὐταῖς πάρεστιν ἡ κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν ὕπαρξιν ἐνέργεια, κινητικὴ
μὲν ὕπάρχουσα τῶν φύσει ἑτεροκινήτων. Souls have a third force
inherent to their essence, that of moving things which by their very
nature are put into movement by an energy foreign to themselves.

Has not Janet a singular way of reasoning? He makes a reserve on
the existence of another ‘physical action yet unknown,’ but quickly
forgets it, and reasons as though that action were perfectly well
known. ‘That action, whatever it may be, is _always_ an involuntary and
unconscious action of some one or other: the involuntary word from the
intestines(!) is not more miraculous than is the involuntary word from
the mouth; it is the psychological side of the problem which is the
most interesting, and which ought to be the most studied.’

I am sure that those of my readers, whose patience has not been
too severely tested by my long analysis of facts observed, will not
consider my distinguished colleague’s conclusion as acceptable. The
most interesting side of the phenomenon is, I think, the one which
reveals to us an apparently new mode of action of the nervous influx
upon matter.

2. These phenomena, again, are not the indication of a _misère
psychologique_, as Janet thinks.

Let us discuss the cases observed by me. To follow my reasoning, it
will be necessary to be familiar with the works of Gurney, Podmore,
Sidgwick, Myers, Barrett, Hodgson, Lodge, Hyslop, du Prel, Perty,
Hellenbach, Aksakow, Richet, de Rochas. To-day, it is no longer
possible to shun the work of such savants, (when dealing with a
question of such a nature as that which engrossed Janet) by simply
saying as he did ‘that he had not had occasion to read the _Philosophie
der Mystik_ of a man like du Prel.’ He should have read that book ...
and many more.

It seems to me to be now quite an established fact, that the
impersonal consciousness is capable of perceiving accurate impressions
independently of the senses. It translates these impressions in diverse
ways in order to transmit them to the personal consciousness, but these
translations are concrete and symbolical. It is a hallucination visual,
auditory, or tactile. The form of _subliminal_ messages, to use one of
Myers’ expressions, is always the same, be the fact thus transmitted
true or false, be it a reminiscence or a premonition. This is already a
psychological ascertainment of great importance, for it puts us on the
road we must follow, in order to discover the mental process of this
psychological phenomenon. But there is something else. The hysteric
who automatically simulates a drunkard, a general, a child, offers us
a very different spectacle to the one offered us by the sensitive who
telepathically sees an event happening afar off, or who predicts the
future, or reveals facts unknown to himself and the assistants. There
are thousands of examples of these facts; I have given a few which were
observed by myself or related to me first-hand.

Is it possible to consider this extraordinary faculty as a
‘disaggregation’? Is it possible to class phenomena of this kind with
the commonplace phenomena of somnambulism and ‘incarnation,’ the only
ones Janet has observed? It suffices to put the question to receive
the answer immediately. The psychological mechanism of these facts, so
unlike one to the other, is probably the same, but the cause of the
apparent automatism, motor or sensory, is certainly not the same. The
sensitive, of whom I spoke, who sees in the mirror twenty-four hours
beforehand, the very scenes she actually sees the next day, presents
to us a phenomenon of considerable importance. It intimates that time
and space are forms of the personal thought and consciousness, but
that probably they have not the same signification for the impersonal
consciousness. It is a phenomenon which, if it be true, demonstrates
experimentally that Kant’s theory upon the contingency of these
‘categories’ necessary to all conscious and personal perception is

I am quite aware of the nature of the reply I shall meet with: my
observations have been defective; and all those who before me affirmed
the existence of the same facts were also deceived. This simplifies
the discussion. The history of science offers us many an example of
the manner in which facts are received, when they contradict current
ideas. Kant said more than a hundred years ago, in his _Traüme eines
Geistersehers_, 1, i.: ‘Das methodische Geschwätz der hohen Schulen ist
oftmals nur ein Einverständniss durch veränderliche Wortbedeutungen
eine schwer zu lösenden Frage auszuweichen, weil das bequeme und
mehrentheils vernünftige, “Ich weiss nicht,” auf Akademien nicht
leichtlich gehört wird.’[14]

      [14] The methodical idle prattle of the high schools is
      often only an understanding to elude, by words of variable
      acceptation, a question difficult of solution, for we do
      not often hear in academies such convenient and ordinarily
      intelligent words as ‘I do not know.’

The discussion on Janet recalled to my mind these words of Kant’s. His
expression, _misère psychologique_ is one of those words of double
meaning, true, if we consider only a part of the facts and one aspect
only of the phenomenon, that which concerns the personal consciousness;
inexact, if we study the facts in their totality and the phenomenon
they reveal in its generality. The being who would be capable of
perceiving at a distance, by looking into space and into time, would
have faculties superior to the normal; he would not be the inferior
being imagined by Janet.

An attentive and patient observation will show him, I am sure,
the reality of the facts which I point out; may he not deny this
possibility without putting himself under the requisite conditions for
observing these facts.

It belongs to the future to decide the question, and I have no doubt
whatever upon the nature of the verdict.[15]

      [15] See Appendix A.

To sum up, an attentive observation of the facts shows, that in
psychical phenomena we observe the emergence of personifications
which may be secondary personalities, but which in really clear cases
present particular features, and seem to possess information which
is inaccessible to the normal personality. They may co-exist with
the latter, without any disorder manifesting itself in the sensitive
or motor spheres; in other cases, they encroach upon the normal
personality, which may either lose the use and sensation of one member,
or be deprived of several members. Finally, the personification can
invade the whole of the organism and end in incarnation or ‘control,’
a phenomenon of apparent possession. When it reaches this maximum
development, the personification manifests a remarkable autonomy, and
appears to be much less suggestible than in the intermediate stages of
its evolution.

What are these personifications? I do not know. The problem they raise
in some cases is extremely difficult to solve. I can only say that
they do not appear to me to be what they claim to be. Is it collective
consciousness? Is it self-deception? Is it a spirit? Everything is
possible, to me nothing is certain save one thing, namely, that we must
not put our trust in them.

I say this for the benefit of spiritists, who have a tendency to
believe blindly everything their good spirits tell them. These
‘spirits’ may make mistakes, though they may not wish to deceive
you. Never abandon yourself or submit the conduct of your life and
affairs to their guidance: submit only to the rule of reason and sound
judgment. Be not over-credulous.[16]

      [16] See Appendix C.



  _An account of some recently observed Psychical Phenomena produced
    in the presence of Doctor Maxwell and Professor Charles
    Richet. Arranged by the Translator from notes furnished by Dr.

      [17] It is scarcely necessary for me to certify to the accuracy
      of the phenomena mentioned in this chapter, especially when I
      am spoken of as having been present.—MAXWELL.

During the last two years exceptional opportunities have been offered
Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell of observing a medium—whom we will
call _Meurice_—who has furnished Dr. Maxwell with many of his most
important examples of psychical phenomena. I refer to phenomena spoken
of on pp. 74, 81-2, 101-3, 136-7, 152-5, 160-2, 195-9, 201-2, 250.

Dr. X.—a friend of Professor Richet—who does not wish his name to be
mentioned, having been present with Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell at
some of their experiments, has sent Dr. Maxwell a few notes concerning
those seances at which he was present. Dr. Maxwell has authorised me
to put these notes in order, and to add to them a few extracts from
letters written by Dr. Maxwell to Professor Richet and myself.

These notes and letters were written either during or immediately
after the seances, if I may so call the impromptu occasions on which
the phenomena to be spoken of were obtained.

There is, in these notes, a miscellaneous stream of evidence, the
complexity and importance of which may be presumed, when it is pointed
out that a useful combination of two orders of research has been
at work therein. Dr. Maxwell was chiefly interested in the study
of the facts concomitant with the phenomena, whatever they might
be, whilst Professor Richet devoted himself to the analysis of the
personifications, and to the study of the manifestations from a purely
psychological point of view.

Evidence is the touchstone of truth, and though the reading of parts
of this chapter may sound more like pages out of a fantastic story
than the words of savants, yet the publication of these facts has been
judged necessary by Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell, in their belief
that no one is justified in setting aside facts which have been well
attested. These facts have been observed—let it not be forgotten—in a
spirit of pure scientific curiosity.

It is, therefore, hoped that this chapter will receive the thoughtful
consideration of many; and that careful analysis will be especially
given to those very parts, the unreal-like romantic nature of which
seems to render them, at a random glance, unworthy of serious thought.


An acute analysis of a medium is of primary importance in the
examination and appreciation of his phenomena, therefore we will first
of all dwell a little on the personality of M. Meurice, the medium in

He is a friend of Dr. Maxwell’s—a friend of some years’ standing.

He is a slightly built man, the reverse of robust, but endowed with
remarkable vitality and recuperative powers. He is thirty-two years
of age; he is unmarried. He is highly sensitive and reserved in
disposition, and forms quick but lasting sympathies and antipathies. He
gives one the impression of being always in a state of hypertension;
his nervous system is most finely strung, and he appears to experience
an irresistible need of constant physical movement. He passes easily
from the extremes of joy to the extremes of sadness. Highly nervous
though he be, Dr. Maxwell has never observed any signs of hysteria,
or any symptoms of a lack of equilibrium in the medium’s mentality.
He is not amenable to the hypnotic sleep, but Dr. Maxwell says he has
sometimes thought that he might eventually succeed in inducing that
state. The few attempts so far made in this direction have given no
results; moreover, M. Meurice does not care to submit himself to this
kind of experimentation. His cutaneous and other sensibilities are
normal; his reflexes also are normal.

He suffers occasionally from violent headaches and neuralgia; and has
frequent gastric attacks, notably after the production of telekinetic
phenomena. Otherwise his health is good. During the production of
phenomena, M. Meurice often acknowledges to a sinking sensation in the
epigastric region, and says it is as though something material were
being drawn out of him at such moments.

He is well read in every branch of literature, and has a most retentive
memory. One has the notion that this medium, to a great extent,
has under his conscious control a large range of what is generally
submerged faculty.

Subliminal operation is, no doubt, constantly going on with us all,
but it is most apparent in M. Meurice. One feels with him that his
unconscious memory is always on the alert.

Amnesia appears to follow rapidly in the footsteps of his visions, but
several things seem to indicate that this amnesia is only apparent.[18]

      [18] The amnesia, which appears to follow medianic phenomena,
      bears a certain relation to the amnesia which follows dreams.
      It is probably due to the weakness of the links between the
      conscious personality and the forgotten images. The links
      exist, but are not strong enough to bind those images to the
      usual stream of personal consciousness. They serve as clues,
      however, and the reappearance of the images at a given moment
      is due to the working of the usual laws of association.—MAXWELL.

Dr. Maxwell says he always thought he had a psychic in his friend.
However, notwithstanding his medical studies, and wide range
of knowledge of things in general, M. Meurice was ignorant of
metapsychical phenomena, and averse to becoming acquainted with the
practices of spiritism or anything of that nature. Little by little Dr.
Maxwell induced his friend to take some interest in these phenomena,
and one day he persuaded him to put his hands on a table with a view
to seeing whether the two of them together could obtain any phenomena.
Raps were immediately forthcoming; they resounded on the floor. The
medium was startled by the unusual noise and quickly rose from the
table. Nothing more was received on that occasion or for some time
afterwards. Then, for two years, M. Meurice reluctantly and irregularly
yielded to Dr. Maxwell’s persuasions to develop his medianity.

For some time he could not be made to see the importance of his
phenomena, and Dr. Maxwell refused to give weight to his words by
appealing to technical literature. He was desirous of keeping his
friend in ignorance of current notions on these phenomena, thinking the
results would be of greater value if the soil they sprang from were

M. Meurice has done all in his power to throw light upon his own
phenomena. His co-operation has been precious, for often his fine
intelligence and well-trained powers of observation have enabled him
to bring into the research valuable analyses of his sensations and
impressions. For this medium not only does not lose consciousness
during the production of his phenomena, he is often at such moments
more thoroughly ‘all there’—to use a Scotch expression—than in his
unproductive moments of abstraction. True, there have been a few
exceptions, but, _as a rule_, he is keenly alive to all that is going
on when phenomena is forthcoming.

The passages I have indicated in Dr. Maxwell’s work will acquaint
the reader with the order and degree of phenomena presented by M.
Meurice, when Professor Richet made his acquaintance. Dr. Maxwell
had studied, almost exclusively, the physical aspect of the facts he
received, and did not encourage phenomena of an intellectual order.
This scientific attitude, however, had not prevented the manifestation
of the phenomenon of personification; and the ‘raps’ speedily put forth
the claims common to spiritualistic beliefs—in spite of the medium’s
ignorance of them. When Professor Richet began to experiment with M.
Meurice, the ‘raps’ had already claimed to emanate from ‘John King,’
‘Chappe d’Auteroche,’ a group of four entities calling themselves the
‘good fairies,’ and, lastly, from two of Dr. Maxwell’s deceased friends.

As the capital interest of this chapter lies in the intelligent aspect
of the phenomena, there is a fact of paramount importance to be pointed
out with emphasis.

Our medium is very amenable to influence, and his phenomena constantly
show the effects of suggestion and influence. I do not, by any
means, wish to infer that M. Meurice is like wax in the hands of his
friends; on the contrary, if it were only a question of personal
consciousness, we might say he is almost impervious to the action
of extraneous influences. His ways of thinking and acting bear the
stamp of independence, and if he yields occasionally to the wishes
of his friends, it is out of pure friendship and with deliberation.
When, however, we are endeavouring to make a psychological study of
a medium, we strive to reach the lower strata at once; the surface
is of little interest when we know that the secret lies below.
Therefore, when I say that M. Meurice is most amenable to influence,
I am bearing in mind that profound region, his general consciousness.
The personal consciousness may be rebellious to influence, but the
subliminal is reached by subtler means than is its grosser envelope,
and is remarkably amenable to the charm of suggestion and the voice of
sympathy. In all probability the reader will find sufficient evidence
of the accuracy of my assertion in the phenomena to be spoken of in the
course of this chapter; therefore, I will not dwell any further upon
this point, although it be an important one.

When experimenting with Eusapia Paladino, Professor Richet had remarked
and called attention to the synchronism which existed between her
phenomena and her movements or muscular contractions. Dr. Maxwell, in
his turn, also remarked it, and forthwith bent his studies in that
direction. The conclusion appears to be evident that a profound and
far-reaching importance lies in the synchronism between the movements
of the experimenters and the phenomena. It was observed that Dr.
Maxwell was indeed able to produce phenomena of raps and telekinesis
[of very feeble intensity, it is true] by tapping the medium on his
hands or shoulder, by firmly squeezing the hands, joined in a circle
above the table, or by the simple contraction of his own muscles.

_En passant_, it may be useful to note that Dr. X. was opposed to
the idea that synchronism _always_ existed between the phenomena and
the movements of the experimenters, that is to say, that muscular
contraction was _alone_ responsible for the phenomena. Dr. X. was
so opposed to this notion, that his presence at seances where this
synchronism was being demonstrated, has often been observed to cause
all manifestations to cease—to nullify the results. If Dr. X. was able
to exercise this power over one centre, it is highly probable that his
presence would exercise a like inhibitory influence over other centres
of energy, where like experiments were being conducted.

Though Dr. Maxwell had obtained not a few phenomena showing
intelligence (_e.g._ raps claiming to emanate from various
personifications), yet, as he says in his book, pages 26, 28, and 83,
he did not feel drawn towards that order of research, and did his best
to keep the phenomena on physical lines. But since Professor Richet
has experimented with M. Meurice, the phenomena have developed rapidly
along the lines of intellectuality: a result which may, it is true, be
due to our medium’s good-nature in allowing his power to be used as was
desired, or which may be the effect of influence and suggestion. We
are inclined to think the latter is nearer the truth, an opinion which
is supported by the fact that when Dr. X. and Professor Richet were
present—that is to say, within a few days after Dr. X.’s appearance in
the circle—synchronous phenomena could rarely be obtained.[19]

      [19] ‘Vous voyez, cher ami, que depuis que nous avons
      expérimenté ensemble, votre influence persiste et nos
      phénomènes physiques s’orientent vers les messages
      intellectuels.’—Extract from a letter written by Dr. Maxwell
      to Professor Richet six weeks after the first series of
      experiments with Professor Richet were held.

Now, all unknown to Dr. Maxwell, Professor Richet had passed the
previous three years in the study of these same phenomena from a
psychological standpoint, and at the moment of his first visit to
Bordeaux, he was particularly absorbed in the research and analysis
of intelligent messages received by means of a physical phenomenon.
His desire, for the time being, was to receive messages—of identity or
otherwise—by means of _raps without contact_.

Already familiar with the fact of synchronism—which a little experience
suffices to show is not due to self-suggestion or endosomatic
activity—Professor Richet wished to get on to fresh ground; as before
said, he wanted intellectuality in a physical phenomenon, and it was
not long before he got what he wanted with the medium in question.

And, _à propos_, perhaps I may be allowed to briefly relate at
once the first phenomenon containing intelligence, which Professor
Richet obtained with M. Meurice. A short time after having made his
acquaintance, the professor and Dr. X. thought they would try to
obtain a ‘test.’ Supposing, for a moment, that an entity, who has
several times claimed to be communicating with Professor Richet, really
existed, they ‘evoked’ him, and asked him to give them a sign through
M. Meurice, which would denote that he had been listening to a certain
conversation held two hours previously. The medium and Dr. Maxwell were
unaware that this entity had a speciality of communicating in Latin
or Greek. A few hours afterwards, during dinner, raps were heard on
the table and other furniture in the vicinity of M. Meurice; when the
question was asked as to who was rapping, the Christian name of the
entity was given, followed by the word _Confide_. No word, it appears,
could have borne more directly upon the conversation in question. There
was difficulty in obtaining these two words, the raps—in such abundance
when not requested to ‘work’—came laboriously, as though some one were
picking his steps among brambles, so to speak. The medium himself spelt
out the alphabet on this occasion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dr. Maxwell has given an analysis of the raps obtained with M. Meurice,
and we especially refer the reader to pages 79-82 and 250.

When raps without contact delay in coming, M. Meurice takes a
lead-pencil, holds it in his hands, and presses one end against the
table or on an experimenter according to desire; the raps then resound
at the end touching the experimenter or the table.

Anæsthesia is observed only in the hand and arm holding the pencil.
“Once or twice,” says Dr. X., “I have observed something like cramp
seize the hand and arm, and extend along the shoulder blade, to the
nape of the neck. On these occasions, I saw the whole arm vibrate after
each rap, like the rebounding of an elastic band, and I have sometimes
thought it looked as though the ‘fluid’ passed down the nerves of the
arm into the pencil, as though it were flowing through a clear open
channel, until it reached the point of the pencil, when a jerk of some
kind appeared to force it out on to the wood; not that the pencil or
arm _moves_ when the rap resounds, but one has the impression of an
_interior_ jerk of some kind when, in moments of cramp, the rap is
heard; this rebounding movement appears to be almost simultaneous with
the rap. Though the medium keeps his personality alive, _as a rule_, it
seems to me,” continues Dr. X. (whose opinion is shared by Professor
Richet), “to undergo a diminution of some kind, on these occasions;
ideation appears to be slower and more difficult. But, because his arm
hurt him when this cramp came on, we have always begged him to cease;
therefore we cannot say whether, the experiment courageously continued,
complete anæsthesia would eventually set in, accompanied by psychical

It is of importance to point out that both Professor Richet and Dr. X.
(though Dr. Maxwell does not altogether share their opinion on this
point) are inclined to believe that M. Meurice can tell _when_ raps
are going to be given, when phenomena will be forthcoming and when
they will not be forthcoming; a conclusion which is drawn from many

Some of the messages given in this chapter were obtained, when out
walking with the medium. On such occasions, M. Meurice would put his
hand on a walking-stick or on an umbrella; he preferred the latter.
“The raps on the open umbrella are extremely curious,” writes Dr. X.
“We have heard raps on the woodwork and on the silk at one and the same
time; it is easy to perceive that the shock actually occurs in the
wood—that the molecules of the latter are set in motion. The same thing
occurs with the silk; and here observation is even more interesting
still; each rap _looks_ like a drop of some invisible liquid falling on
the silk from a respectable height. The stretched silk of the umbrella
is quickly and slightly but surely dented in; sometimes the force with
which the raps are given is such as to shake the umbrella. Nothing is
more absorbing than the observation of an apparent conversation—by
means of the umbrella—between the medium’s personifications. Raps,
imitating a burst of laughter in response to the observer’s remarks,
resound on the silk like the rapid play of strong but tiny fingers.
When raps on the umbrella are forthcoming, M. Meurice either holds the
handle of the umbrella, or some one else does, whilst he simply touches
the handle very lightly with his open palm. He never touches the silk.

“Raps without contact appear to require more force, and are not so
frequently forthcoming, as raps with contact—which seem to be always
at the medium’s command; consequently—and particularly as the tenor
of the messages received constituted the chief interest for the time
being—the use of the pencil or umbrella has been encouraged.”

All the messages given in this chapter, except where the contrary
is expressly stated, have been received by contact with a pencil
or umbrella—with what Chappe, the chief personification, calls his

A marked trait in the phenomena is their spontaneity. Months will
pass away without the production of a single phenomenon worth
mentioning—raps through the pencil can generally be obtained, however.
After the attraction of the fan (pages 357-8), nine months elapsed
before another telekinetic phenomenon occurred. At other times, the
energy is so abundant that while it lasts, that is to say for two
or three weeks, the medium may truly be said to live in a world of
phenomena in more senses than one; for, at such periods, phenomena are
constantly forthcoming. Regular seances are not of much avail with M.
Meurice; it is better not to seek, but to know how to receive, which
means to know how to wait patiently and attentively.

       *       *       *       *       *

A brief analysis of the personifications is necessary before laying
bare their work. The first to manifest was ‘John King.’ Subliminal
labour is very transparent herein. M. Meurice had heard not a little
of Eusapia Paladino’s secondary personality, which calls itself ‘John

Then the raps announced the presence of a group of four entities
calling themselves the ‘fairies’—_les bonnes fées_. In fact, the
latter were the first to make their presence felt by M. Meurice, though
John King was the first to manipulate the raps. The fairies gave the
names of Miriam, Yolande, Liliane, and Brigitte; the latter remained
but a short time; she said she had to go away somewhere; she was
replaced by ‘Wicki,’ who claims to be an ancestor of Dr. Maxwell’s,
and to have lived in Ireland during the fifteenth century. The medium
associates the odour of jasmine with the fairies. Perhaps the following
may suggest a clue to the origin of these entities:—

Some years ago, before Dr. Maxwell had commenced experimenting with
his friend, he was in the habit of bidding him good-bye with the
words, ‘_Que les très bonnes vous protègent_.’ When the fairies—_les
bonnes fées_—appeared, they at once claimed to have been the means
of bringing about the meeting of Dr. Maxwell with M. Meurice, and of
having fostered their friendship. As for the odour of jasmine: on
one occasion, soon after experimentation had begun, the medium was
talking to the doctor about good influences; and he remarked that he
sometimes perceived the odour of jasmine without being able to explain
it normally. The next time the doctor saw his friend, the raps dictated
that the odour of jasmine was the signal of the presence of the good

The next personification to manifest was said to be S., a very dear
friend of Dr. Maxwell’s (see pages 160-1). The genesis of this
personification is easy to follow. S. was one of the leading men
in Bordeaux, where he occupied a very prominent position; he was
extremely well known—though M. Meurice did not know him, and says he
never saw him. M. Meurice witnessed Dr. Maxwell’s grief when S. died,
and heard the former say that he had been very fond of S. I again
refer the reader to pages 160-1 for further consideration of the S.

For a few months, the phenomena claimed to emanate chiefly from the
fairies—John King gradually fading away. Then ‘Chappe d’Auteroche’
came on the scene, and has ever since kept the field pretty much to
himself,—though he permits of the presence of the personalities already
mentioned and a few others if _introduced_ by him. His first appearance
took the form of a vision in the crystal. The medium saw him in a
foreign land, amidst large red flowers, savage tribes and queer-looking
boats on canals; he gave his name, the exact day, month and year of
his death, and the cause of his death; he described what his work on
earth had been—all things which M. Meurice did not _consciously_ know.
Everything, which was verifiable, was found to be correct.

Some time after this, Chappe gave a long and coherent message by means
of tilts of a table without contact—in daylight; on this occasion, he
gave his Christian name as ‘Adhémar,’ which is, probably, an error, as
biographies do not mention it.

Chappe is, doubtless, a subliminal entity; but his evolution is more
difficult to explain than any of the medium’s other personifications.
Perhaps M. Meurice—an _avide_ reader—has come across some articles in
periodicals, concerning the measurements of the solar parallax, by
means of the crossing of the sun’s surface by the disc of the planet
Venus. Chappe was one of the best-known observers; he went to Siberia
in 1761, and to California in 1769, to observe those passages. His
name must certainly have been mentioned in the newspapers, when the
last crossings took place—that is in 1874 and 1882. But on these
occasions, M. Meurice was only three and eleven years old! Has he seen
the biographical notice of Chappe in Larousse’s dictionary? He has no
conscious recollection of having read this, nor does he remember ever
having heard of Chappe the astronomer. And there, for the present, the
matter must stand.

Another personification—H. B.—made its irruption towards the end
of 1903. M. Meurice was certainly aware of Dr. Maxwell’s profound
esteem and affection for H. B.; but for further consideration of this
personification, we refer the reader to Dr. Maxwell’s notes thereon,
pages 287 and following.

       *       *       *       *       *

I perceive I am about to end these remarks on the medium and his
phenomena without having said a word upon a vital point, one which
many specialists would require to be satisfactorily settled before
consenting to listen to an account of the phenomena. I mean the
medium’s honesty. Professor Richet, Dr. Maxwell, and Dr. X. say that,
for diverse reasons, they cannot doubt this particular medium’s
honourability. As for raps and telekinetic phenomena, there can be no
shadow of doubt about their genuineness; the excellent conditions of
light, sight and touch which always prevail when his phenomena are
forthcoming, joined to the intelligent co-operation of M. Meurice, who
is as much interested in and capable of examining his own phenomena as
are the observers, put mystification out of the question.

Is there any evidence of identity, of survival, of intelligent forces
other than human, in this chapter? Each one will answer this question
after his own manner of thinking. Some will say ‘No.’ If we could
forget the extraordinary romance at the end of this chapter—Series
C—we too might answer categorically ‘No.’ Though we have given all
the leading details of the case, family reasons have necessitated
the omission of much valuable material in this ‘romance,’ and
perhaps readers will not see so much in it as those who watched
its development. But even as it stands, it presents some baffling
difficulties. It really seems to indicate that there is activity in
the metethereal environment, and that the spirit can act in that
environment. What matter, therefore, if it be the spirit of the living
or of the dead? If one can demonstrate its independence of the body,
why not the other?



It may be useful to give one or two of our medium’s visions. If these
simple phenomena—where so much of the personal consciousness seems
at play—be studied, some idea may be gained of how far, if at all,
the subliminal is responsible for the production of this particular
medium’s more intricate phenomena, such as intelligent messages given
by means of raps without contact.

       *       *       *       *       *

M. Meurice was once visiting Paris. He dined at my house on the evening
of his arrival. This was the first time I met him. During dinner, an
hour or so after his arrival, the medium said he saw a vision near me,
and described a personage ‘dressed in white and gold-embroidered robes,
who looks like a priest of ancient times.’ The only interest in this is
that it corroborates what two other sensitives, unknown to our medium
and to each other, have on two different occasions told me.

M. Meurice also claimed to recognise in me and this bedecked personage,
two persons who figured in a dream-vision he had had, three years
previous to meeting me. We give this dream chiefly for the sake of its
rich symbolism.

The medium wrote an account of the dream at the time, at Dr. Maxwell’s
request, the latter being struck by its oddity. Here is the vision:—

“I dreamt I was sleeping in a bed, the framework of which nearly
touched the ground; the bed was raised on a kind of platform. I was in
a large hall, which looked like a church. Suddenly a tall, fair woman,
dressed in black, entered. A man wearing long, white, ancient-looking
garments, embroidered all over in gold, followed her. Then Dr. Maxwell
entered. The man in white read aloud out of the book, which the fair
woman held open before him. I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I
wept, and wept, and wept. My tears caused the flowers embroidered on
the counterpane to spring into life; they grew and multiplied with
amazing rapidity, completely covering the bed and, finally, burying
me beneath their abundance and weight. The fair woman then said: ‘We
must seek for him,’ and set to work to remove the flowers. During this
operation, Dr. Maxwell stepped on my body; I screamed with pain and

When M. Meurice awoke, he was suffering from colic; this fact may
explain parts of the vision.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day in December 1903, at the close of a seance when some fine raps
at a distance had been obtained, M. Meurice wrote a few German words.
He does not know German. At the same time he saw, in the crystal, the
words: ‘Kolbe, chimiste, mort à Leipzig 1730.’ A few hours after this
seance, the medium had a vision of the personification Chappe, who
said, ‘Vous ne savez donc lire? C’est “mort à Leipzig le 25 Novembre
1884,” et pas “1730.”’

Kolbe the chemist died at Leipzig on the 25th of November 1884. This
information is to be found in Larousse’s dictionary.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following is an experiment in the transmission of thought which Dr.
Maxwell tried with the medium:—

“I gave my hand to M. Meurice, to hold, and said to him—we had been
talking, in a vague, general manner of the plurality of existences—‘Try
and see how I died in my previous existence.’

“Unknown to the medium, I wrote down on paper the words:—_Fall from a

“M. Meurice answered: ‘I see your life, then you fade away into
nothingness; you die from an accident; a carriage—no, a horse accident.
I see you wearing a shield. You fall from your horse, he crushes you to

       *       *       *       *       *

The medium very often sees the same vision repeat itself in the
crystal. This is the vision of a procession of individuals clothed in
flowing robes; they follow a long narrow path, which loses itself in a
tunnel, into which the procession passes. The vision never varies, save
that at times after the procession has disappeared into the tunnel, the
path seems to be strewn with the bones of skeletons.

This vision has also been seen, in the same crystal, by our medium’s
youngest sister, a girl of twenty, who is absolutely ignorant of
spiritistic phenomena. She attributed her vision to an optical illusion.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been observed with M. Meurice that the last vision sometimes
precedes veridical hallucinations.

This and other facts would lead one to think that very probably, for
a medium, there is no test which can discriminate between falsidical
and veridical hallucinations. The psychological process appears to be
the same, viz. dramatisation and concrete images, instead of abstract
concepts or ideas.

Mediums, as a rule, possess parasitic personalities which act in the
same way as the normal personality; this feature of hallucinatory
phenomena is difficult to analyse, and introduces into the problem a
number of unknown factors.

In the case of the medium in question, the secondary personalities are
weak. They are always felt and objectived by the normal personality,
which is never expelled from the scene—a circumstance which is precious
for the observer as the visions are sometimes vivid to a degree. With
M. Meurice the unknown factors, though existing, are reduced to a sort
of minimum, and the psychological analysis is perhaps less difficult
than in the generality of cases. In this fact lies the value of his
intellectual phenomena, though it is a drawback indeed from another
point of view, the persistency of the normal consciousness, of the
normal will, and even of the normal powers of attention, being probably
the cause of the impurities which so frequently stain his intellectual


_By Dr. Maxwell_

“H. B. died at a very advanced age. He was a man of great kindness of
heart, and of deep intelligence. He had received a solid, classical
education. He was born in a foreign country, went, when a young man,
to a North American state, where he lived for some time. He married,
and finally came to Bordeaux—a town to which his wife and all her
family belonged. H. B. lived for many years at Bordeaux; but during the
last six years of his life he was paralysed. He died at a time when
the medium was twenty years of age, and was pursuing his studies in a
hospital at Bordeaux. H. B. lived a very retired life, confined to the
house because of his infirmity.

“There is every probability that M. Meurice had never heard of H. B.
Although I had known my friend for some time before the irruption of
this personification, I had been extremely careful to avoid giving him
the slightest detail concerning H. B. He had, however, heard me say
that H. B. had been one of my dearest friends.

“I had been experimenting for about two years with M. Meurice, when
the personification H. B. first manifested. His emergence took place
on the 2nd October 1903, in the form of a vision, which my friend had
as he was going to bed. On the following day—during a dark seance we
were holding in the hopes of obtaining luminous phenomena—M. Meurice
described his vision of the previous night. His description vividly
recalled H. B. to my mind. I was careful to say nothing, however.
During the seance, the personification Chappe signified his presence
by means of abundant and loud raps; at the same time M. Meurice told
me he saw a face, and certain letters written above it; these letters
formed a name, which indicated to me the presence of H. B. Thereupon I
asked M. Meurice to give me the Christian and surnames of the vision he
claimed to be looking at; in reply, the surname was instantly spelt out
by raps without contact; the Christian name was given in French first
of all, then it was correctly given in H. B.’s maternal tongue.[20]

      [20] H. B.’s Christian name finds its equivalent in French in
      the name which had been ‘rapped out’ in the first instance. Dr.
      Maxwell explained this fact to the rapping force, whereupon the
      name was correctly given.

      This detail of the Christian and surnames is not demonstrative
      as identity, because (1) the remarks made by Dr. Maxwell were
      sufficient to have ‘fixed’ any one who had the slightest
      knowledge of the language in question; (2) because the
      medium already knew the surname of Dr. Maxwell’s friend. We
      must not forget, however, that the raps were given without
      contact.—_Note by the Translator._

“H. B.’s first appearances occurred in M. Meurice’s bedroom. From the
indications given, I said I had quickly recognised H. B. Unfortunately,
under the necessity in which I find myself placed of not bringing
H. B.’s family into view, I am unable to mention the principal details.
May it suffice to say that I recognised H. B. I may also add that
the description of the hair, eyes, beard, stature were exactly and
unhesitatingly given.

“I may also mention one important detail: M. Meurice described the
vision he saw as being seated in an armchair with a blue plaid
shawl—with a long fringe—wrapped about his legs. I did not recognise
the chair—though I well remember the chair in which H. B. passed the
last six years of his life—but the shawl was absolutely correctly
described. This is a detail which, I affirm, M. Meurice could not
possibly have known; and I consider it highly improbable that fraud
could have found it out.

“So much for the first appearance of this personification.

“The visions continued. M. Meurice saw H. B. at different periods of
his existence, at times infirm, at other times younger and standing
upright. When he appeared young, he wore his beard in a certain
fashion; when he appeared aged, he wore his beard differently; these
details were correct.

“The vision at first did not speak, and simply looked kindly at him,
said M. Meurice.

“The hallucination used to build itself up in the following manner: the
medium saw a bluish cloud floating about near a particular armchair
in his bedroom; the cloud or shadow remained ill defined, ‘as though
several veils were being successively removed’; and only one feature at
a time—at a vision—seemed to be distinctly shown, _e.g._ at one time,
the eyes were well shown, the rest of the vision being very indistinct;
at another time, the nose was the prominent feature, or the mouth,
the hair or the beard, etc.; as though the personification wished to
impress one thing at a time upon the medium’s perception.

“Finally on the 6th October 1903, in a short journey which M. Meurice
made one day to Arcachon, H. B. appeared to him in broad daylight, in
an avenue of the forest through which the medium was driving.

“M. Meurice saw, on the roadway a short distance ahead, a person
walking very slowly and peculiarly: ‘he limped as though the right
leg was shorter than the left.’ He was a stout man with a round,
clean-shaven face. He had a peculiar mark near one of his eyes. He was
wearing a tall straw hat, a high collar, the ends rising and meeting
in points under the chin, a yellowish walking-stick, the handle of
which was made of ivory and fastened to the stick by a silver band; the
personage was reading a newspaper, the title of which was in Gothic
lettering ‘like the _Matin_.’ He was wearing a thick gold chain and
trinkets. M. Meurice thought he was looking upon a real individual, and
it was not until the carriage had driven past, and my friend saw the
supposed man suddenly disappear, leaving but a ‘whitish blur on the
ground,’ that he recognised H. B. and the hallucinatory character of
his perception.

“I saw M. Meurice about five hours after he had had this vision, when
he gave me the above details; I recognised the following as being

“1. The walk.

“2. A peculiar mark near one of the eyes.

“3. The newspaper; H. B. took in the _Temps_, the title of which is in
Gothic lettering like the _Matin_.

“4. The walking-stick, every detail being exact.

“5. The description of the collar was correct.

“6. H. B. used to wear a straw hat.

“7. ‘A stout man with a round, clean-shaven face’ applies to H. B.
before his infirmity made an invalid of him.

“The watch-chain and trinkets were imaginary.

“A few remarks about details 1 and 2: H. B. had twice broken his right
leg; the right leg was, as a result of these two accidents, shorter
than the left leg. He had therefore a very peculiar and characteristic
walk. When M. Meurice was relating the above vision to me, he imitated
the walk to perfection. Let it be remembered that H. B. had not walked
a step for six years previous to his death; when he was attacked by
paralysis, M. Meurice was but fourteen years of age, and was not then
living in Bordeaux.

“2. H. B. had a small and peculiar skin mark near his left eye.
Now, when M. Meurice related his vision, I told him that he had not
localised this mark accurately enough. Thereupon, raps resounded
simultaneously on his chair, on the floor, and on a table standing a
foot away from M. Meurice and myself; while these raps were resounding
M. Meurice said he saw H. B., and remarked that he was pointing to the
sign in question. M. Meurice then correctly localised the mark.

“Further, I told M. Meurice that he had made a mistake when speaking
of a gold watch-chain and trinkets. The next vision my friend had of
H. B., the latter showed himself with a black silk ribbon attached to
his watch; this, I recognised as correct. H. B. always wore a black
silk ribbon for a watch-chain.[21]

      [21] M. Meurice was aware of the fact that H. B. had bequeathed
      many things to Dr. Maxwell. He knew, for example, that the
      latter wears a watch which was given him by H. B. And as Dr.
      Maxwell also wears, attached to his watch, a gold chain and
      trinkets, normal mental activity might here have been at
      work.—_Note by the Translator._

“In subsequent visions, H. B. showed the medium successively certain
correct details in his costume, notably:—

“1. Cravats, dark blue with white spots.

“2. Shoes of a peculiar make, without heels and with elastic sides.

“3. White stockings.

“M. Meurice tells me he feels that H. B. very often tries to make
himself visible to him; when he fails to do so, he hears him say
impatiently: ‘Thut! thut! thut!’—a curious coincidence, for this was a
most characteristic habit of H. B.’s when impatient.

“From that time the personification H. B. has continued to mingle
actively in our medium’s life. His intervention is manifested daily. It
would be impossible to give a full account of this personification’s
manifestations; I will simply confine myself to indicating the
principal. It is to be pointed out, first of all, that H. B. appears
literally to ‘haunt’ M. Meurice’s house, especially the room above the
latter’s bedroom.[22]

      [22] M. Meurice’s house bore the reputation of being haunted
      before he took it. He was unaware of this, until the neighbours
      told him of it some months after he was settled in the
      house.—_Note by the Translator._

“The phenomena are of several kinds:—

“_A._ Sonorous phenomena.

“1. Footsteps.

  “(_a_) A loud, quick, decided footstep, which M. Meurice attributes
         to the personification Chappe.

  “(_b_) An unequal step, as though one leg rested more heavily than
         the other; the imitation which M. Meurice made before me of
         this step recalled to my mind H. B.’s step.

  “(_c_) A slow step as of a person who dragged his feet along: a
         movement attributed by M. Meurice to, and which I recognised
         as characteristic of, one of my deceased friends.[23]

  “(_d_) A quick, light step, like the step of a big bird.

      [23] See page 160.

“These footsteps are heard in the corridor of the second story of the
house; a story which is not inhabited. Then the door of a bedroom,
immediately above M. Meurice’s bedroom, seems to open and the footsteps
resound in the room. M. Meurice has often got up—these noises occur at
about two o’clock in the early morning—but he has never seen anything
or any one.

“The same noises are also heard in M. Meurice’s own bedroom.

“2. The opening of doors and windows.

“Before hearing footsteps in the bedroom on the second floor, M.
Meurice hears the door of that room open. The noise of the opening of
the door is always preceded by a noise similar to that made by a hand
searching in the dark for the door handle.

“M. Meurice hears the same sounds on his bedroom door. There are three
doors to M. Meurice’s bedroom: one leads into a dressing-room, one
into a clothes-room, the third into a study; it is at this third door
that the above-mentioned phenomena occur.

“Sometimes M. Meurice hears the window of his own bedroom, as well as
that of the room upstairs, open and shut. He has got up repeatedly,
and gone upstairs to see what was happening, but has always found the
door closed, which he fancied he had heard being opened. Whenever, on
returning to his bedroom, he left the door of the room upstairs open,
the noise of footsteps would begin again as soon as he had left, but
without the sound of the opening and shutting of the bedroom door.

“3. Noises as of furniture being moved about. The medium hears the
chairs and tables of the room above him move about; his faculties of
observation are well developed, and he believes he recognises:—

  “(_a_) Accompanying the noise of the displacement of chairs and
         tables, Chappe’s footstep.

  “(_b_) H. B.’s footsteps, on the contrary, are accompanied by the
         noise a heavy person might make when sitting on a bed. The
         medium hears the mattress creaking.

  “(_c_) Lastly, he hears a noise similar to what would be produced
         by a person lying back in an armchair.

“4. Noises of material objects other than furniture: these noises are

  “(_a_) A bag of corn or nuts emptied on to the floor of the bedroom

  “(_b_) Something hard striking the floor: these sounds are given
         rhythmically upon request.

  “(_c_) Wings beating the air. M. Meurice compares these sounds to
         the flapping of the wings of a turkey.

  “(_d_) The rubbing of paper.

“5. Diverse human noises:—

  “(_a_) Sighs.

  “(_b_) Heavy breathing.

“Are these sonorous phenomena subjective? I have never been in the
house at the hour, when these sounds are said to be heard; and the
noises I have heard from time to time are not sufficiently pronounced
for me to be able to form any conclusion. I have assured myself that
no water-pipes exist in the upper stories of the house; the latter is
isolated, but any loud noises made in a neighbouring house can be heard
in M. Meurice’s house.

“No one sleeps in the second story. A domestic, who occupies a room on
the same floor as M. Meurice, has heard the noise of footsteps, and has
often got up out of bed and gone upstairs to see who was moving about.
Never finding any one, the domestic attributes these sounds to rats: an
insufficient explanation. Moreover, a close examination of the house,
repeated on several occasions, has revealed to me no signs of rats.

“A sister of M. Meurice’s frequently pays him visits; she then occupies
a room on the same floor as her brother. On three different occasions
she has been awakened out of sleep by sounds of footsteps, and a
fumbling noise on the door of her room, as though some one were feeling
for the handle. She has got up, gone into her brother’s room, thinking
it was he, searched about the house, but has never seen anything which
could explain the noises, neither has she heard the noises while thus
moving about.[24]

      [24] Among Dr. Maxwell’s notes is the following account,
      written to Professor Richet, of a seance at which the doctor
      was present; and of some subsequent phenomena which he did
      not witness, but which the reader may consider interesting,

      19th March 1904.—‘Yesterday afternoon I obtained some automatic
      writing with our medium. Chappe and H. B. were said to be
      communicating, and giving me their views about the war. We
      then used the commodious Chappe telephone—my stylograph on
      this occasion. The raps were excellent. The weather was good,
      fairly cold, but dry. When the last word of a message was
      being spelt out, Meurice suddenly threw away the pen and broke
      up the seance, without going through the usual formalities
      of good-bye. He rose up from his seat, complained of feeling
      dizzy, and fainted. He quickly came to, however, and when I
      left him he appeared quite well again. But soon after I had
      left the house, he went into his sister’s room, and again

      ‘Now, I had often told him not to break off the communications
      so abruptly. I think the fatigue he sometimes experiences after
      phenomena—fatigue often out of all proportion with them—is
      due to his _brusquerie_. On this occasion I am sure there
      was some link between him and the table on which the rapping
      occurred. Unfortunately, friendship mastered science, and I
      rose up instantly to look after my friend, without stopping to
      ascertain if there were any trace of exteriorised sensibility
      in the table. It is very probable that such was the case,
      because I repeatedly assured myself, during the course of the
      seance, that there was absolutely no sensibility whatever in
      the hand which was holding the stylograph—the rapping implement.

      ‘During the seance Chappe had dictated that his medium was
      going to give “displacements of objects,” and he bade him take
      heed thereof. M. Meurice’s house is, this week, filled with
      visitors—his sister and her children among others. For want of
      room, he has taken his young nephew, a child of seven years
      old, into his room to sleep with him. Now, last night he was
      awakened towards midnight by his bed moving about. His sister,
      sleeping in the next room, also heard these noises; thinking
      her brother was ill, she got up and went into his room. She
      saw a curious sight: the bed was gliding, of its own accord,
      towards the window! She sat down on a sofa and watched; the
      room was lighted up by the light of one candle. The bed moved
      up to a table near the window, _i.e._ a distance of three feet;
      the carpet was not disturbed. The bed returned slowly to its
      former position. The child did not awaken. The sister is not
      aware of her brother’s powers; if she were told, she would
      probably be much distressed, as she puts all such phenomena _a
      priori_ down to charlatanry or to superstition. She was alarmed
      at the manifestation, ascribed the movements to “ghosts,” and
      firmly believes that the house is haunted.’ (This sister does
      not live in Bordeaux, and has never been told of the reputation
      the house enjoyed before her brother took possession of it.)

“She has also heard the flapping of birds’ wings, in the daytime, in
different parts of the house.

“_B._ Phenomena of touch.

“M. Meurice sometimes feels a hand gently stroke him on the head. On
one occasion, when he was suffering from a violent headache, he felt a
hand move about on his head and forehead; the pain went away, and he
fell asleep.

“_C._ Visual phenomena.

“Sonorous and tactile phenomena nearly always precede an apparition,
which is generally that of H. B., either alone or with the Chappe

“The following are a few examples of the visions relating to H. B.:—

“1. On the 31st October 1903 M. Meurice returned home from a visit to
the neighbouring village—Arcachon, the same village, near which H. B.
had appeared to him (p. 290). When he entered his bedroom, he perceived
H. B. seated in a chair, holding on his arm a mortuary wreath made of
black beads.

“On the morrow—All Souls’ Day—M. Meurice related this vision to me. I
was surprised—but concealed my surprise; for, as a matter of fact, I
did not understand what a wreath of black beads could mean. At certain
epochs I am in the habit of laying a wreath on H. B.’s tomb, but it
is always composed of what were his favourite flowers. M. Meurice
began to write automatically; he wrote: ‘Bring me what you are in the
habit of bringing me; the other wreath was for T. Bring him one too,
for his family have almost forgotten him.’ (I understood T. to be the
initial letter of a great friend of H. B.’s.) My surprise did not
diminish, because I know for a fact that T.’s family cherish his memory

“However, following my usual custom, I treated the personification
H. B. as he desired to be treated and executed his commission. I then
made the following discovery: T. is buried in a vault over which lies
a sort of platform. The vault belongs to his own family and the family
of a near relation. There were fresh flowers on the side of the vault
belonging to his relations; there were none on the side reserved for
his family.

“I believe this circumstance, as well as the friendship which existed
between H. B. and T., was unknown to M. Meurice; but I am obliged to
admit that my belief rests upon no proof.

“Let me add, in order to finish at once with the T. incident, that, on
the eve of my visit to T.’s tomb, I had asked M. Meurice to give me the
Christian and surnames of the person about whom H. B. was supposed to
be talking. The surname was given; a curious mistake was made before
the Christian name was correctly given: the name of T.’s son was given,
and then came T.’s own name. These indications were obtained in broad
daylight, by means of raps without direct contact. The raps resounded
upon a table on which I had placed a shawl, one corner of which was
held by M. Meurice.

“2. A few days afterwards a seance was held in M. Meurice’s bedroom.
A portable cabinet had been used, which M. Meurice had not taken the
trouble to remove before going to bed. During the night he was awakened
by taps on the head; he heard diverse noises, and saw the door of the
cabinet open. H. B. appeared, leaning on two of the ‘fairies’; the two
other ‘fairies’ followed. These personages presented the appearance of
living people, said M. Meurice the next day when describing the vision
to me. They rolled an armchair into the middle of the room; H. B.
sat down in it; the _fairies_ placed a shawl over his knees, and two
of them sat down on the arms of his chair; the other two sat down on
chairs. H. B. spoke about my health, and then bade M. Meurice tell me
that I would be able to find all necessary documents on the history of
religions in my cousin Y.’s library. The Christian names were correctly
given, the surname approximately; but the approximation was such (the
initial letter of the name being the only incorrect one) that I had no
difficulty in recognising the name.

“It is exact that my cousin Y. possesses documents on the history of
religions. M. Meurice knew that the question interested me; but it is
extremely improbable, that he should have known of the existence of
my cousin Y., who lives in the strictest seclusion; it is still more
improbable, that he should have known the contents of his library. I
cannot, however, affirm these two points, but I can at least affirm
that M. Meurice does not know my cousin Y.

“The personification H. B. shows a spirit of fatherly protection
towards M. Meurice; for example:—

“The medium was once out driving; a rather serious accident happened,
in which his carriage was caught between a cart and a tram; the
coachman was thrown from his seat and wounded. As the tram struck the
carriage, M. Meurice felt himself seized by the arms, and carried out
of the carriage on to the footpath by H. B.[25]

      [25] The reader may care to see Dr. Maxwell’s detailed report
      to Professor Richet of the above incident:—

      ‘On Sunday morning Meurice was out driving. A short distance
      from Bordeaux his carriage collided with a milk-cart; the
      shafts of the latter crashed through one of the carriage
      windows. At the same time an electric tram, unable to pull
      up in time, struck the carriage in the rear. The coachman
      was thrown from his seat on to the ground, where he lay
      unconscious. He was wounded near the left eye, ... his face was
      covered with blood.

      ‘At the moment the collision with the tram took place, Meurice
      quickly opened the carriage door with the natural intention of
      jumping out; but he felt himself suddenly lifted up and carried
      on to the footpath, a distance of ten feet. He saw no one.

      ‘He probably jumped of his own accord, and the sensation he
      experienced was but the symbolical expression of the solicitude
      the personifications show for him. The protector was supposed
      to be H. B.

      ‘Now, on Saturday afternoon, the eve of the day on which the
      above accident occurred, I had a seance with my friend. We
      tried for luminous phenomena, but the experiment was null.
      Towards the close of the seance, Meurice said he saw the face
      of a dead man, with a wound on the left temple, the face was
      covered with blood. I asked who it was, and received by raps
      without contact: “Suicide, victime d’amour, Gaston”; the raps
      refused to give the surname. The aspect of the coachman’s face
      after the accident the next morning somewhat recalls the aspect
      of the vision; if we accept this, there is a curious mixture
      of true and false, the false showing forth when our personal
      activity intervenes in order to question: a fact which I have
      often observed.

      ‘The accident occurred between ten and a quarter past ten
      o’clock. My friend’s youngest sister—a young girl of twenty—is
      paying him a visit this week. Now, this Sunday morning she
      went into the kitchen at ten o’clock, looking very distressed,
      and said to the servants that she felt sure an accident had
      happened to her brother. The sister’s and servants’ versions
      concorded absolutely when questioned a few hours later on this

“The air of protection which this personification assumes is never
absent; it is difficult, M. Meurice says, to convey an idea of the
strange, fantastic impression which he feels, in presence of the
frequent intervention of H. B., and other personifications.

“This impression is the less easily understood, in so much as M.
Meurice is not a spiritualist, and has received a scientific education.
He refuses to accept the explanations which the personifications
offer of themselves: they claim to be human beings who have once
lived on earth. Up to the present they have never pretended to give
us any information touching the life beyond the tomb; the indications
they have given rather tend to direct our experiments, and to try to
formulate premonitions. H. B. seems to have given himself the task,
chiefly, of establishing his identity; this desire appears to be his
leading—I scarcely dare to say generating—idea. And we are obliged to
admit that from this point of view he has given some curious details.
These facts constitute the intellectual phenomena, which are the
dominant ones in the H. B. personification, although raps and movements
without contact are also said to emanate from him sometimes.

“I have given some examples of psycho-sensorial messages in the visions
which I have described. These are far from being the most interesting.
H. B. manifests also by automatic writing, and has given some messages
of a highly interesting character in this manner. I cite the following
as being the most characteristic:—

“On the 27th of November 1903, towards the close of a seance, I
_mentally_ asked H. B. where I happened to be, when he was laid up
with a certain serious illness. The medium wrote: ‘You were a young
magistrate at Blaye, near Bordeaux.’ M. Meurice knows what my career
has been, but it is extremely improbable, he should have known
about the illness—much less the time of the illness—of which I was
thinking. At all events, the reply given to my _mental_ question was
correct. Neither the conversation nor previous facts could have given
the slightest clue to my question. On another occasion, automatic
writing made an extremely characteristic allusion to one of H. B.’s
most inveterate habits: a glass of brandy and water every afternoon at
half-past five, punctually.[26]

      [26] The following is Dr. Maxwell’s detailed report of this
      incident as contained in a letter to Professor Richet:—

      ‘... There was nothing we might say but twaddle in the writing
      which followed, _e.g._ expressions of pleasure on the part of
      H. B. in that he was able to communicate with me, his long
      efforts to reach me, etc., when suddenly, at 5.30, without any
      rhyme or reason, so to say, our medium wrote (always under the
      influence of the H. B. personification): “Offer me some brandy
      and water....” Now, during fifty years H. B. had not been known
      to miss taking a glass of brandy and water every afternoon
      at half-past five. He was not in the habit of taking this
      concoction at other hours of the day; so that the coincidence
      is, to say the least, striking and curious....’

“Finally, on the occasion of the death of the last surviving member of
his family, H. B. on the 5th of October 1904 wrote: ‘Poor L., no one
is left now. It is a consolation for you to feel me near you.... Very
often those left behind cannot see us.’ (_Pauvre L., il ne reste plus
personne maintenant, c’est une consolation pour vous de me sentir près
de vous. Souvent les survivants ne peuvent pas nous voir._)

“This message was interesting because the last relative to die was not
L. but C. L. died before C.; but L. had been H. B.’s favourite brother.
It is quite correct that no one was left of H. B.’s generation after
C.’s death.[27]

      [27] Neither L. nor C. have ever lived in Bordeaux. In fact
      H. B. was the only member of his family to leave his native

“At this same seance, H. B. mentioned a very private detail in
connection with L. This fact, which _raisons de convenance_ prevent me
from fully relating, defines the nature of the intercourse which had
existed between H. B. and his brother L. The circumstances which the
writing recalled were known only to H. B. and a few near relations.

“I am fully aware that the above details have no demonstrative value,
for I knew them all, and the hypothesis of thought transmission can
explain them quite as well as the spirit hypothesis. Here is, however,
a case which is less easily explained:—

“One of my friends is related to a lady, who lives with her husband in
Paris. My friend told me that this cousin of his had amused herself
one day with table-turning; and he added that the table had followed
her without any one touching it. I had spoken of this incident to
M. Meurice, but without mentioning names. The incident of the table
following the novice the first time she had tried table-turning was the
only thing mentioned.

“Quite recently, while pursuing my inquiry upon mediums’ eyes, H. B.,
through automatic writing, told me that the afore-mentioned friend
would be able to give me some information on the subject; the writing
then named his cousin, but called her by her _maiden_ name, giving the
name correctly.

“Now two or three days afterwards, M. Meurice had a vision or a
dream—often he cannot tell whether it be one or the other; he saw an
aged lady sitting before a large table, on the top of which a doll’s
table was standing; two younger women were with her; one of these
latter made the small doll’s table turn round three times without
touching it. The room in which these ladies were sitting was large,
and M. Meurice thought it was in a country-house. The curtains were of
rose-coloured velvet.

“The scene described was the one my friend had related to me, but
I pointed out to M. Meurice that one detail at least was certainly
incorrect: viz. the doll’s table. H. B. immediately wrote: ‘He has not
made a mistake, it was the small table which moved, and not the large
one.’ (_Il ne se trompe pas, c’est bien le mouvement d’une petite table
qui a eu lieu, et non celui d’une grande._) I saw my friend the next
day, and I related this incident to him. He assured me it was quite a
mistake, that it was a large table, and not a doll’s table, which had
moved. I saw him again a few days later, when he told me he had made
further inquiries about the table-turning incident, and had found out
that it was indeed a doll’s table placed upon the large table, which
had effected the movements in question.

“The vision was therefore exact on this point; it was also exact
concerning the number and age of the persons present, but the room in
which the seance took place was in Paris and not in the country; the
description of the room was incorrect.

“In this case, automatic writing confirmed the details seen
hallucinatorily, or in dream; these details were most certainly
unknown to M. Meurice as well as to myself. I will add that even had I
mentioned my friend’s name, which I can affirm I did not do, that name
would have been of no assistance to M. Meurice, inasmuch as he does not
know my friend, much less his cousin in Paris.

“This is the most precise case, in which M. Meurice has given me
correct details unknown to myself.

“If we examine in a general manner the character of the H. B.
personification, we are, perhaps, obliged to admit that it presents
a spiritistic appearance. This appearance is all the more singular,
in that it manifests in a centre where the spiritistic hypothesis
is looked upon with disfavour. I am well aware of the fact, that
tendencies opposed to those of the normal personality are often
observed in secondary personalities.

“Young girls of a most timid and reserved disposition, normally,
sometimes show obscene parasitic personalities, under the influence
of which they give utterance to the most filthy language, and perform
most indecent acts. The processes of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries are most instructive from this point of view, especially
those of Loudun and Louviers. It is not surprising, therefore, to see
personifications calling themselves spirits emerge in a non-spiritistic
centre; it is probably a phenomenon comparable to that of the secondary
personalities just spoken of. A different synthesis of psychological
elements is formed, which follows an opposite bent to the one normally
followed. It is as though the poles were changed, and a secondary
personality reveals itself as the very reverse of the first personality.

“The interesting point to seek for, however, is not the genesis of the
personification, for there are so many hypotheses which might explain
it, but to determine which explanation concerning the personification
best suits the particular circumstances.

“My observations upon the H. B. personification—the most thorough
I have so far been able to make—do not permit me to form a definite
conclusion; at the same time, they do not tend to make me look
favourably upon the spirit hypothesis. If we resume the details given
by H. B.:—

  “_A._ About himself, his person, we find:

    “1. 2. Two ways of wearing his beard.

    “3. A peculiar mark near the eye.

    “4. 5. A very peculiar walk: right leg shorter than the left.

    “6. The hair was fairly well described.

    “7. The eyes were not well described.

  “_B._ Details about his clothes and habits:

    “8. An unusual shape of slipper.

    “9. The shape and colour of his cravats.

    “10. His walking-stick.

    “11. The manner in which he passed the last six years of his
          life in an armchair.

    “12. The shawl which habitually covered his legs.

    “13. His habit of taking a glass of brandy and water every
          afternoon at 5.30.

    “14. His allusions to his brother L. and to his death.

    “15. A gold chain and pendants which he never possessed:
          followed, however, by the rectification of the error.

    “16. The detail of the _Temps_.

“That is to say: two inexact, two doubtful, and twelve accurate details.

“It may be of interest to draw attention to the process employed
by this personification to prove his identity; it is worthy of some
attention, because it touches on precise details. Those particular
signs which are of capital importance in the identification of
persons, we find in details 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 13, 14, and it would be
most unjust to refuse to recognise in these indications at least an
appearance of volition and intelligence.

“The character of volition has been decidedly indicated. The H. B.
personification began to manifest itself by giving details concerning
his physical appearance and his habits. When M. Meurice saw H. B.,
he frequently perceived the apparition very indistinctly, with the
exception of the particular point which the personification appeared
to be desirous of impressing upon him; this occurred particularly with
details 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, and for the rectification of the watch-chain

“The character of intelligence has not been less marked than the
character of volition. The personification gives the impression of
having deliberately chosen the signs, by which he desired to prove his
identity. Everybody knows how difficult it is to recognise such or such
a person by the mere description of features; definite details and
peculiar marks are, on the contrary, of the greatest value for purposes
of identification: and these are precisely the details which H. B.
_seems_ to have chosen; these are the kind of details he _seems_ to
have shown with the greatest persistence.

“Such facts as these plead in favour of the spirit hypothesis; it would
be unfair to deny it.

“In the first place, there are some inaccuracies, _e.g._ 15. Can we
attribute this to the iconogenical activity of the medium? This is the
theory which Dr. Hodgson has so finely developed, and the arguments
he appeals to are very serious. The sensorial or motor message is due
either to the medium himself, or to an intelligence distinct from that
of the medium, or to the combined action of the two intelligences.
Notwithstanding Dr. Hodgson’s weighty arguments, this explanation
can only be considered, at present, as a working hypothesis. It is
rather difficult to understand why an extraneous intelligence could
give twelve accurate details, and make a mistake in two or three other
important details; it is still more difficult to understand, if the
identity in question be present, why he should commit such mistakes;
and it seems to me that the personal action of the medium explains
these errors even less satisfactorily.

“Nevertheless, we must admit that even if we accept the hypothesis of
the personal action of the medium troubling the extrinsical action of
a foreign intelligence, this simultaneous blending of true and false
details is little made to bring about a conviction of the intervention
of an active intelligence, other than that of the medium.

“Finally, even in admitting as proven the intervention of an
intelligence non-human, nothing permits us to affirm that it is really
the person in question who is manifesting and not an impersonation.
This distinction has been well put forward by theologians, though the
rules they give for the discernment of spirits appear to us to be most

“To sum up, the case of H. B. has an appearance which is, frankly
speaking, spiritistic; but it is not possible to consider as certain,
or even as probable, the pretensions manifested by this interesting



I propose gathering together, for the first part of this series, a few
interesting things scattered here and there among the notes before me.

On one occasion Chappe dictated by means of raps without contact—in
broad daylight—that 760 copies of a work of Dr. Maxwell’s had been
sold. Four days later, in the same manner, he said that 958 copies of
the said work had been sold; incorrect information as the following
proves: the day after the seance in which Chappe had announced the sale
of 958 copies, Dr. Maxwell received a letter from the publisher of the
work in question telling him that 800 copies had left him, including
the press service.

       *       *       *       *       *

“We had some good phenomena on Tuesday afternoon,” writes Dr. Maxwell.
“I was talking to M. Meurice about my bibliographical researches,
and of the best plan to adopt for the analytical indexes. A small
mahogany table was near us, one leg of the table was touching a rug on
which M. Meurice was sitting. Raps resounded on the table; Chappe’s
signal was given, followed by some advice concerning the subject of
our conversation. Telekinetic phenomena were also forthcoming—the
table gliding towards us and then away from us according to request,
travelling a distance of from three to five inches.

“Then I tried an experiment, one I have been wishing to try for some
time: I bade M. Meurice sit in an armchair and lie perfectly still.
I placed his arm at about one foot from the table, and told him to
_fancy_ he lifted his arm and struck the table, without, of course,
making the slightest movement.

“We obtained some excellent raps in this way. This is a fine
experiment, for it shows clearly the production of raps by the will—the
direct, conscious and personal will.

“We tried three series of experiments; six raps in each series were
willed; we received four raps in each, that is to say, 66 per cent. of
success. The raps were loud, one was double. The medium nearly fainted
after this experiment, but came round quickly, though he has not been
well since.

“His sensations were: (1) absence of sensation in the arm with which
we were experimenting; (2) a kind of breeze issuing from his shoulder.
After willing the raps he was never sure of success, he did not feel
the wood had been touched. Sensibility appeared to be exteriorised.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In another of Dr. Maxwell’s letters we note the following:—

“For our seance yesterday we obtained, as usual, a quantity of raps
through the lead-pencil. I succeeded in provoking them upon myself.
Sensation produced: when M. Meurice put the pencil on bone I had a
sensation of a slight electric current; it produced no contractions
in the muscles traversed; the sensation was at its maximum on bone,
probably because of the greater conductibility offered by solids to

“I have tried the raps upon several substances with the following

  the finger: good.
  wood: very good, maximum.
  ivory: good.
  iron: bad.

“Sensibility appears to be exteriorised during the production of raps
through a pencil. Yesterday there was sensibility at a distance of
four centimetres from the periphery of the hand, which was holding the
pencil, when the raps were forthcoming.

“I asked Chappe to indicate in one word why it was easier to obtain
raps with a lead-pencil. He dictated the answer, ‘_Localisent_.’

“Before we separated we received the following message by raps _without
contact: ‘Jeanne Bordes morte 7 octobre 1859 à St. Pierre Martinique,
demeurant 37 rue St. Jacques_.’ I do not know of any Jeanne Bordes,
though a family of that name lives at St. Pierre. I have questioned
some people who have lived in that town, but they do not recollect any
Jeanne Bordes....”

In another letter the doctor writes:—

“Towards four o’clock this afternoon, in broad daylight, some very
fine raps resounded on a table standing thirteen feet away from M.
Meurice and myself. It was said to be H. B. who was rapping. M. Meurice
became nervous, and the experiment only lasted for five minutes. It was
magnificent as an example of raps at a distance.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts are taken from Dr. X.’s notes:—

“On one occasion Professor Richet and I were speaking about a relation
of the professor’s, A. R., who was supposed to have communicated
with him through M. Meurice. The latter could not have overheard our
conversation, for the simple reason that he was at least ten miles
away from where we happened to be at that moment. Five or six hours
afterwards, when Professor Richet was out walking with M. Meurice, raps
suddenly resounded on the latter’s walking-stick, and the following
words were dictated: ‘_Suis avec vous._’ (Who are you?) ‘_A. R. Je ne
vous ai jamais abandonné._’

“In the course of the morning’s conversation, the remark had been
passed that the persistency of this personification’s manifestations
would be looked upon by some as a sign of survival, and I had made use
of the words: ‘I wonder if he—A. R.—has been near you lately.’

       *       *       *       *       *

“The medium was aware of certain experiments I had made with a
sensitive at Nancy. He often heard me discuss with Professor Richet and
Dr. Maxwell, the phenomena I witnessed there. One day, in presence of
Professor Richet and myself, Chappe dictated that he followed me about
sometimes, upon which I said: ‘Were you with me in Nancy?’ He replied
(by means of raps _without_ contact): ‘_Oui. D. s’attire des ennuis en
groupant autour de lui des influences inférieures. Défiez-vous de la
domestique. Fraude. Il y a eu autrefois un fort médium, Henri Dubuc, à
Nancy. S. n’est pas un médium à matérialisations._’

“This communication was given in broad daylight, by means of raps
without any contact whatsoever. The raps resounded on a table which
was standing near, but which was not touched, either directly or
indirectly, by the medium. From time to time Professor Richet and I
leant on the table, but not with a view to aiding the phenomena—I mean
to furnishing ‘force.’ Our touching the table or not seemed to make no
difference to the rapping intelligence. The message was dictated with
precision and rapidity.

“It is to be noted, that M. Meurice held a decided opinion concerning
the experiments at Nancy; he was not at all inclined to admit their
authenticity. The group, at whose seances I had been permitted to be
present, know of no Henry Dubuc.

“While the preceding communication was being given, one of the
observers made the remark, _sotto voce_, that he had a headache, and
wondered if Chappe could suggest a remedy: immediately the somewhat
laconic reply, ‘_Dormez_,’ was rapped out.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The following message contains an incident of a certain interest, if
the reader will kindly compare it with the efforts, related in Series
C, page 359, to obtain a particular name.

“A letter had been received from Professor Richet, in which reference
had been made to a curious occurrence at Carqueiranne, very much like
an orthodox haunting. During lunch, I spoke about this to the medium.
As often happened when the conversation turned on these grounds,
raps mingled freely with our conversation. Thereupon I asked who
was rapping, and received the reply that C. R. (Professor Richet’s
grandfather) was present; whereupon the following conversation between
this personification and myself took place:—

“Question: Can you explain the haunting at Carqueiranne?

“C. R.: _Oui_.

“Question: Who is it who haunts the place?

“C. R.: _Mère_.

“Question: Whose mother?

“C. R.: Grandmother Jacques. _Mère_ Charles.

“(Jacques is the name of the boy to whom the incident in question

“Question: What is her name?

“C. R.: _Eugénie_.

“This name ‘Eugénie’ is the one we had tried in vain to obtain four
months previously.[28] It was now given without any hesitation
whatsoever, by raps without contact.

      [28] See page 359.

“Following this word ‘Eugénie,’ the raps predicted the death of one
of my brothers in a month’s time from an automobile accident. The
prediction, happily, remains unfulfilled. When this message was
received, I did not know if my brother ever rode in motor cars; and,
for several reasons, I did not consider it at all likely; but three
weeks afterwards, I had a letter from him asking me to procure him
several catalogues, as he had the intention of buying a motor car.
My brother lives in California. The medium knew I had relations in
California, but did not know about my brother, much less his name.”

In the following messages, the raps were obtained with and without

“I had been anxious about my youngest brother, and had openly spoken of
my anxiety, saying I had reason to fear that my brother and his tutor
did not get on well together. One evening, during dinner, Chappe rapped
out the signal intimating his presence; the raps resounded on the table
close to where I was sitting, and at a distance of about three feet
from the medium. Asked if he had anything to say, Chappe dictated: _Il
faut laisser le petit en repos loin de son tuteur_. I wish to draw
attention to the last word, for it marks a curious error. When speaking
to the medium of my brother, I always made use of the word _tuteur_,
whereas, in French, I should have said _précepteur_. The two words have
quite a different meaning; my brother was not with a _tuteur_ in the
French sense of the word, but with a _précepteur_.

“Now, a short time before, my brother had shown symptoms of a cardiac
affection, and was undergoing a special treatment. Neither the medium
nor Dr. Maxwell knew of this; they thought my brother was in the best
of health, as indeed he appeared to be.

“After the last communication had been received, I asked Chappe if my
brother’s health was good. My question was: _Est-ce que sa santé est
bonne?_ The answer came: _Arythmie du cœur; séparez-le de son tuteur_.

“At the time, I myself did not know the precise nature of the weakness.
I simply knew that my brother had had two attacks of spasms of the
heart; but, I repeat, I had not mentioned this fact to any one. A
fortnight after receiving the foregoing communication, I had a letter
from the doctor charged to watch over my brother, in which letter the
term ‘arythmie’ was employed for the first time, in connection with

“My family thought of sending my brother to the Pyrenees for a few
months’ rest and change. I asked Chappe if he could tell me what
was contemplated; he replied: _Peut-être ferez-vous bien de garaer
Raoul auprès de vous; dans deux mois, Paris, campagne, Hyères, Ile,
Arcachon_; all so many efforts, one would say, to read my thoughts—but
without success.

       *       *       *       *       *

“A seance had been arranged for at which Dr. Maxwell, Professor Richet
and I were to be present. Much had been expected from this seance,
for there were many signs of ample force. The raps were certainly
excellent, and, with a great show of dignity, asked: _Permettez-vous à
un ami de_ (mentioning my name) _de venir_? Permission being given, it
was announced that “Georges R.” wished to speak with me.

“I know of no Georges R.; the medium, however, was aware of the fact
that R. is one of my family names.

“The raps (‘Georges R.’) continued: _Votre père a eu un accident de
voiture; foie très contusionné; soaisr chute; (soir sa chute?)_.

“No accident of any kind has happened to my father either at the time
of receiving the above message, or since.

“The rapping ceased abruptly, when this last message was given, and no
further phenomena occurred at this particular seance.

       *       *       *       *       *

“At a short seance at which Dr. Maxwell and I were present, the medium
said he could see Chappe walking about the room with a lady on his
arm; the lady was dressed in mourning. Raps accompanied the medium’s
words and, the name of the lady in mourning being asked for, the word
‘Marguerite’ was dictated. Asked why she was in mourning, the raps
replied that it was for identity’s sake, because ‘Marguerite’ was
in mourning when she died. (_Signe identité—en deuil quand elle est
morte._) Asked for the name of the person for whom Marguerite was in
mourning, when she died, the raps replied: ‘Katey.’

“Now, a favourite aunt of mine died a few years ago, whose name was
Marguerite. My mother died a few weeks before my aunt; consequently my
aunt was in mourning for my mother, when she died. My mother’s name was
Kate, but my aunt always called her Katey.

“I can affirm never having spoken of these details either to Dr.
Maxwell or to the medium.

“During this seance it was Dr. Maxwell who spelt out the alphabet.”

       *       *       *       *       *

I will give one more quotation from Dr. X.’s notes:—“Chappe was
rapping so noisily and abundantly one morning that, in default of
other phenomena being forthcoming, I asked him if he would kindly
tell me what was man’s occupation after death. My exact question was:
_Qu’est-ce qu’on fait dans l’Au delà?_ Very quickly and unhesitatingly
the raps answered: _On est dans ravissement profond, et occupé
uniquement de faire le bonheur de tous ceux qui sont chers et le souci
d’apporter des preuves d’une vie future._”

       *       *       *       *       *

In the exposition of the few facts in this, as well as in the other
series, we are trying to throw every light in our power upon the agency
operating behind these messages. This necessitates personal details
here and there which, we hope, the reader will forgive. On every
occasion, unless the reverse has been stated, M. Meurice was thoroughly
wide-awake. It was often he who spelt out the alphabet, especially when
the observers had reason to suspect a name—or the nature of the message
to be given. He always permitted a constant and careful scrutiny of his
every movement, when the raps were produced with contact. When raps
were forthcoming without contact, they were given wherever requested,
_e.g._ on a chair, the floor, the centre of the table or under such
or such an observer’s hand; in these cases the vibration was easily
perceived. When the pencil was used, care was taken—by holding M.
Meurice’s hand and the pencil—to make sure of the fact that neither
hand nor pencil stirred, while the raps were being produced.

There can be no doubt whatever of the authenticity of the raps, which
gave the messages laid before the reader in this chapter.

All things considered, the chances seem great that these raps are not
accidental, but significant of some fact in the complex and obscure
structure of human personality—dare we say in the structure even of the


The following is Dr. Maxwell’s _compte rendu_ of some telekinetic
phenomena, which were forthcoming on the 25th and 26th July 1903. These
notes were written immediately after the phenomena occurred.

  “_25th July 1903_; 4.30 P.M.

“M. Meurice and I were working in a small study in the former’s house.
The room is about eight feet long by eight feet wide. On the NE. side
is a window; SW. a door; NW. a glass door. The window was closed, and
the shutters were half closed on account of the excessive heat and
glaring light. The furniture consists of: a writing-table in the E.
corner; a divan against the NE. wall; a low chair in the S. corner; a
rectangular table in front of the couch or divan; a small hexagonal
table near the rectangular table; a gilt cane chair in front of the
window; a wooden stool in the W. corner; a chimney-piece in the N.
corner; an armchair in front of the rectangular table; a small gilt
chair was between the latter table and the divan. It was drawn under
the table.


“M. Meurice and I had been writing (correcting proof sheets) on the
hexagonal table. M. Meurice was sitting on the edge _A_ of the divan, I
was at _B_ opposite him, when raps were heard on the writing-table—with
which M. Meurice had no contact. I measured a distance of two feet
between him and the writing-table. At the same time, raps in quantity,
but of feeble tonality, resounded on the hexagonal table.

“We removed our writing materials on to the rectangular table, for the
sake of more room. The raps gradually ceased; they died out altogether
on the writing-table and began, though very feebly, to resound on the
rectangular table. We worked for an hour and then rested a while. M.
Meurice sat back on the couch, putting one of his feet on the chair
between the divan and the table. Raps immediately resounded on the
chair. I went and sat down beside my friend, and observed that the raps
_appeared_ to come from his foot; I found that they were synchronous
with our movements; they also responded correctly to my mental and
spoken request.

“I left the couch and sat on the armchair in front of the rectangular
table. M. Meurice drew his legs under him and sat on the divan,
tailor-fashion. We decided to try to move the gilt chair standing
between the divan and the table. There was a space of fourteen inches
between the divan and the chair. I sat on the armchair. M. Meurice
brought his hands towards the chair, palms facing the chair; he kept
his hands still at a distance of seven to eight inches from the back of
the chair; I stretched out my arms above the table towards the chair.
When I contracted my muscles, the arms and hands extended, the chair
moved. The amplitude of the movement was very small, scarcely a quarter
of an inch, but the movement was abrupt and decided. It was a jerk,
which took place shortly after the muscular contraction.

“This movement was reproduced three times under the same conditions.

“Then M. Meurice and I changed places. I sat on the couch in the
same way as he had sat; M. Meurice made the same movements I had
made. The chair moved twice; the amplitude of the movement was much
greater than with me; the chair was displaced an inch each time. After
the second movement was produced, M. Meurice said he felt tired; he
lifted his arms above his head and stretched himself; that is to say,
he pulled himself upwards; his feet did not go near the table. While
stretching himself, the chair suddenly—for the third time—displaced
itself a distance of an inch. The latter movement coincided with the
extension of the back, at the moment when the muscles of the grooves
and _lombo-sacré_ contracted.

“The direction of these movements was from the table towards the couch;
the chair receded from the table, whether M. Meurice or I sat on the

“Seeing how easily these movements without contact were being obtained,
we went downstairs into the dining-room with the object of trying to
obtain some phenomena, which M. Meurice had obtained when alone the
previous day; namely, the attraction of wine-glasses.

“I took a liqueur-glass, and put it on the mantelpiece in the
dining-room. M. Meurice made some passes around the glass, then put his
two hands together meeting them at the finger-tips; he drew his hands
slowly away, the glass followed his hands by jerks.

“We then returned to the study. I sat down on the divan and prepared
to resume my writing. M. Meurice was standing near the mantelpiece. In
a few minutes I heard him say he was attracting the chessmen. I got
up and watched carefully. His hands were in the position described
above in connection with the liqueur-glass; he drew his hands slowly
backwards, and the red king followed his hands; this tiny piece is
about half an inch in height and a quarter of an inch in diameter.
The movement was slow and gliding. M. Meurice tried to reproduce the
phenomena but failed. He said he was tired and would rest a while. In
a few minutes he renewed his efforts. I stood close beside him; again
failure. After a few more minutes of rest, he tried again—I watching
him closely all the while—and, this time, succeeded in attracting
the same piece—the red king. The piece followed the direction of his
fingers, as before, slowly and smoothly.

“M. Meurice again complained of feeling tired, and I urged him not
to try for any more phenomena, but to lie down and rest. I went to
my writing once more, but M. Meurice was restless, and told me he
wanted to try to move an empty beer-bottle, which was standing on the

“He took it from the mantelpiece and put it on the wooden stool. He
knelt down in front of the stool, and made the same manœuvres with his
hands as for the liqueur-glass and the chessman. I remained sitting on
the divan, a distance of nearly seven feet from the stool. M. Meurice,
after the above-mentioned manœuvres, _i.e._ passing his hands several
times round the bottle, joined his hands together at the finger-tips,
and drew them gently backwards as before. The bottle moved four times,
each time from two to three inches.

“M. Meurice then said he felt sea-sick; and he was obliged to lie down
for a while. He soon rose up, however, and said he wanted to make
something else move. He took a piece of sealing-wax, tried several
times, but failed to move it. Thereupon I persuaded him to cease making
further attempts.”

  “_26th July._

“Phenomena of attraction similar to yesterday, occurred this afternoon.
We were in M. Meurice’s bedroom. It was four o’clock, the window was
open, the shutters were ajar; the light was excellent.

“The mantelpiece is covered with plush. On one corner there is a
statuette in porcelain representing the Thorn; the child is seated
on a chair, and is pulling a thorn out of his foot; the statuette
is five inches high. M. Meurice told me that he was going to make
this statuette move. I stood near him, with one hand on his back;
I stooped down, and looked fixedly and narrowly at the statuette
during the whole operation. M. Meurice proceeded exactly as in the
preceding experiments, and when his hands—joined together at the
finger-tips—were at a distance of six inches from the statuette,
the latter swayed, bent slowly forward, and fell over. I affirm most
positively, that there was no hair or thread or normal link of any kind
whatsoever between the statuette and the medium’s hands. I passed my
hand all round the statuette, before the movement, during the movement,
and after the movement; I thus verified by touch, what my eyes were

“Now, after M. Meurice had made some passes with his hands around the
statuette (without touching it, be it remembered), and when, after
putting his hands together at the finger-tips, he slowly withdrew them,
I heard a slight noise, like the rubbing of a hair on the statuette;
at the _same_ time the latter swayed; this creaking sound did not
continue, and only accompanied the first movements of the statuette.
Again I affirm, that there was no hair or thread whatsoever connecting
the medium’s hands with the statuette.

“After the production of this phenomenon, we decided to have a dark
seance, for the purpose of trying to obtain luminous phenomena.
I closed the shutters and pulled down a dark blind, especially
constructed for dark seances. While I was doing this, M. Meurice
continued trying to attract various articles on the chimney-piece.
Seeing this I drew the dark blind away again and let in more light,
in order to be able to see clearly. I took a stick of sealing-wax,
broke off a piece and put it on a small mirror, which was lying on
the mantelpiece. In this case M. Meurice did not make any preliminary
passes as with the statuette, beer-bottle and liqueur-glass; he simply
joined his hands together in front of the sealing-wax; the sealing-wax
followed his hands several times, in fact every backward movement drew
the wax after the hands; he finally drew the sealing-wax to the edge of
the mantelpiece, when it fell to the floor.

“The seance which followed was unproductive. A few raps were heard,
but that was all. After the seance, we lighted up the room, opened
the window, and M. Meurice again tried to move the sealing-wax. He
succeeded with great facility, the sealing-wax following every movement
of his fingers.

“By sight and touch, I assured myself of the absence of any link
between the wax and M. Meurice’s hands. I solemnly affirm that no such
link of any kind existed.

“I desired to write a letter, and, thinking that the phenomena were
probably exhausted for the time being, I begged M. Meurice to allow
me to get off my letter. I was in the act of writing, when he said
he felt he could move another article. I watched him: he took up
another statuette, which stands a foot high; he put this statuette on
a small table which was near me; he kept his hands open, palms turned
towards the object in question. He moved his hands slowly backwards
and forwards, and I observed the statuette bend forward when his hands
receded, and bend backwards when his hands approached it. His hands
were never nearer than ten inches to the object.

“M. Meurice then complained of feeling unwell, and threw himself on
his bed. His hands touched the head of the bed, on the woodwork of
which raps at once resounded. Chappe gave his signal, and dictated:
‘B. MENAGEZ.’ Questioned as to what he meant, he said to take care
of the medium, and not to take advantage of the power. We ceased
experimenting, therefore.

“I have a few remarks to make concerning the above phenomena. When I
held my friend’s hands, I obtained nothing. M. Meurice says he saw
a thread, or rather a sheath of filaments, pass from his fingers on
to the object of experimentation. As a rule, he made passes over the
object he wished to move, as though he were putting a thread of some
kind around it. He did not always do this, _e.g._ if the object to be
moved were light and small, he made no passes over it.

“This movement would be very suspicious, if observation were
superficial; but apart from the purely scientific spirit in which
M. Meurice views his own phenomena, the severe control I exercised
demonstrated the absence of any material link whatever.”

_More Extracts from Dr. Maxwell’s Notes_

  “_3rd June 1903._

“A movement without contact was forthcoming this afternoon. I placed a
table upside down upon a linen sheet. M. Meurice and I put our hands
on the sheet, some distance away from the table. The latter turned
completely over; the movement was performed slowly and gently. It was
at four o’clock, the sunlight was streaming in through the open window.

“We also obtained the movement of a heavy wooden stool with slight
contact. M. Meurice and I were sitting on a couch, the stool was near
us; abundant raps were heard on the stool. M. Meurice took up a piece
of linen, put one end on the stool, putting a framed picture on top of
it to keep it in place; he put the other end on his knees. In a few
minutes, the stool swayed about and finally moved a distance of three
inches away from M. Meurice. I watched him well and can affirm he moved
neither hand nor foot during the production of this phenomena.

“M. Meurice experienced much fatigue after this movement. It occurred
at half-past four; the light, I repeat, was excellent.”

  “_11th June 1903._

“It appears that M. Meurice attracted several objects—pieces of bread,
forks, etc.—yesterday during lunch. But he could not reproduce the
phenomena in my presence. We had, however, raps and numerous slight
movements without contact—raps almost _ad libitum_. Automatic writing
followed, but contained nothing of interest; it was impossible to
obtain replies to mental questions: subjectivity.

“_P.S._—I am adding a postscript to my letter from the medium’s house;
for we have just received some fine phenomena. The raps were, as usual,
very abundant; but we also received two fine series of parakinetic

“1. I brought a small mahogany table up to the sofa on which M. Meurice
had thrown himself. I sat down beside him, taking a shawl which I threw
over him and the table. Instantly, raps resounded on the table. M.
Meurice could not possibly have touched the table without my noticing

“The table swayed about, now on this side, now on that; and then
dragged itself towards me by jerks, first one side, then the other.
When I squeezed M. Meurice’s hand or gave him a slight tap on the
shoulder, there was a synchronous movement in the table. The latter
also moved in response to request. Then it gently raised itself up on
the two feet which were nearest to me; this side lost contact with the
floor and rose to a height of four inches.

“2. We were both carefully watching this interesting phenomenon, when I
heard raps on another table which was about a foot away from the sofa
and two feet away from the table with which we were experimenting.
This second table had no contact whatsoever either with the sofa or
with the shawl: it was isolated. Hearing the raps, I looked at the
table and saw it rise up, or to be more correct, sway about—only
three of its legs touching the ground. M. Meurice had not noticed
this phenomenon; when I drew his attention to it, he became suddenly
nervous, and complained of feeling tired. I pointed out to him how much
this sensation of fatigue was subjective and out of all proportion with
the energy expended. But new or unexpected phenomena always upset him;
he experiences a sort of anguish blended with something like fear in
presence of a new phenomenon.

“These movements of the second table lasted for several minutes; they
were synchronous with our own movements and muscular contractions, but
were also forthcoming at request. We were operating in broad daylight.
Chappe informed us, by raps, that he was the operator on this occasion.”

  “_11th July 1904._

“I was obliged to make an early call on our medium this morning.
Lucky visit! for he was in a working mood and gave two fine movements
without contact. We began by sitting at a table, where we received raps
by means of the lead-pencil; the words: _Put yourselves against the
daylight_ were rapped out. We did not understand what this meant, and
ceased experimenting. We went downstairs and walked about in the garden
for a few minutes. When we went back to the study, we resumed our
seance. M. Meurice sat down on the divan and I in front of him. Raps
without contact dictated: _Lie down for a while, we want to try for a
physical effect_.

“The raps directed that I was to lie down on the sofa and M. Meurice
was to take my place. We followed these directions.

“M. Meurice said he felt ‘queer’; that his hands seemed to be full of
hair, or rather of spider’s web, and he tried to rub the feeling away.
I got up and took down from the mantelpiece the statuette of St. John,
the history of which you know.[29] He tried to attract it, but without
results. We waited, the spider’s web sensation returned, and this time
I prevented him from rubbing it off; he drew his hands together over
and then in front of the statuette and—his fingers at a distance of
five inches from the object—attracted it to him. The statuette moved
two inches.

      [29] “Concerning the statuette: the medium was—two months
      previous to the seance here spoken of—given the catalogue of
      a sale of antiquities to be held at Bordeaux. When going to
      bed he took the catalogue to glance over it; but he says he
      was so sleepy, that he did not get any further than the first
      page. In the night, he dreamt that he was to buy No. 256 in
      the catalogue, which—he was told in his dream—was the Christ
      of whom he had seen the vision a few months previously, when
      Madame Stephens was with us. (See Series C, page 349.)

      “When the medium awakened, he looked up No. 256, and found
      that it was an ancient wooden statuette of St. John the
      Baptist.”—_Note by Dr. X._

“M. Meurice felt ill after this movement, and was obliged to lie down
for a while. He soon got up, and tried again. But I stopped him,
fearing he might over-tire himself; though the statuette did not move
forward this time, it swayed about.”

  “_18th July 1904._

“On Thursday morning, M. Meurice again succeeded in attracting the
statuette of St. John. He told me he felt the cobwebby sensation,
which—in his case—coincides with telekinetic phenomena; he took the
statuette in question and placed it on a table. He then proceeded as
though he were putting something behind the object, making several
passes with his hands all round it. As he was drawing his hands away
from the statuette—they had reached a distance of nine inches—I heard
something like the crackling of a hair or silken thread on the wood of
the statuette, and then the latter moved.

“The excellent conditions of light under which the experiment took
place, the control of sight and touch which I most carefully exercised,
the proximity of the statuette to my eyes, all this renders the absence
of any hair or thread most certain for me. This is the second time I
have heard this scraping sound.

“M. Meurice was extremely fatigued after the production of this
phenomenon, and fainted. On recovering himself, he insisted on trying
once more, and succeeded in making the statuette sway about.

“The day following this experience, he attracted several small
articles—wine-glasses, bread, etc.—near his reach on the
luncheon-table. I was not present, however.

“You perceive how very suspicious the phenomena sometimes _appear_ to
be. Nothing short of actual observation could demonstrate the absence
of a connecting link of some kind between the medium’s hands and the
object in movement.”


_By Dr. X._

“For about eighteen months, Dr. Maxwell has been endeavouring to turn
the phenomena in the direction of luminosities or materialisations.

“With that object in view, he has had a light portable cabinet
constructed. This fragile apparatus consists of eight pieces of
pinewood fitting into one another by means of hooks. When put
together, there is just enough space inside the cabinet to allow of
the introduction of a small, straight-backed chair; a person sitting
thereon, finds himself in contact with the back and sides of the
cabinet, and his knees against the door. A large curtain of purple
cloth has been made, which is thrown over the cabinet, covering it
completely. The curtain is buttoned over the door.

“The luminous phenomena already obtained with this medium and spoken of
by Dr. Maxwell on pages 152-5, were sufficient grounds for hoping that
patience and perseverance might, finally, obtain happy results capable
of being repeated.

“For more than a year nothing demonstratively objective was
forthcoming. In the darkness, one often imagined one could see clouds
of vapour moving about near the cabinet; but there was nothing to prove
that this appearance was anything more than an optical illusion. On
these occasions, the medium frequently complained of a disagreeable
sensation on his hands and face, as though he were caught in a spider’s
web. He has also said, that he perceived from time to time an odour of
phosphorus or ozone in the cabinet; the medium has been the only one of
the experimenters to notice this odour, so far.

“Whenever I have been present at these attempts, I have observed that
they were accompanied by complete cessation of all other phenomena,
such as visions, raps, telekinesis. Until November 1904, this
apparently negative result was about all that was obtained at these
dark seances.

“During the first week in November, the medium being in good form,
and the ‘force’ abundant, it was decided to devote a few days, which
Professor Richet was able to dispose of, to an effort to obtain
luminous phenomena.

“Three seances in all were held. There were present, Professor Richet,
Dr. Maxwell, M. Meurice, and myself. The seances were held in a very
small room on the top floor of the medium’s house.

“The following is a diagram showing the disposition of the room in
which the three seances, of which I am giving the _compte rendu_, took


“The door, which was shut, leads into another room, the two doors of
which—leading into a corridor—were locked during the experiment. The
window and shutters of this adjoining room were closed, and the room
darkened, so that no light therefrom could penetrate under the door of
the seance-room.

“The seances were held between 5 and 6.30 o’clock in the afternoon.
Total darkness was obtained by closing the outside shutters and
the window, and by hanging a large black curtain—kept for the
purpose—across the window. No ray of light was visible on the sides of
the window; the position of the latter could be guessed at during the
seance—simply because we knew where it was—but could not be perceived.
The darkness was profound. A candle and box of matches were placed on
table _A_. When the experimenters were seated, the candle was blown out.

“_Results._—Tuesday, 1st November 1904. The four experimenters were
seated around the table (see diagram); the medium (who is not marked
on the diagram, because he was in the cabinet whenever phenomena
were forthcoming) was seated between Dr. Maxwell (_M_) and Professor
Richet (_R_), with his back to the cabinet: No results—nothing
whatever—neither raps nor anything else.

“The medium goes into the cabinet. After an interval of a quarter of an
hour, _M_ and _X_ think they see milky-looking clouds floating about
near the cabinet, but they are unable to affirm the objectivity of this
appearance. At the close of the seance, feeble raps are heard on the
table; the raps dictate that Professor Richet is to sit in the cabinet
on the following day.”

       *       *       *       *       *

_Second Seance_

  “_Wednesday, 2nd November 1904._

“Professor Richet sits in the cabinet. The medium sits at the spot
marked _M_ on the diagram; Dr. Maxwell sits at _R_. After sitting
in this way for a quarter of an hour—during which time nothing
occurred—the medium asked to be allowed to go into the cabinet.
Professor Richet then sits at _R_, and Dr. Maxwell at _M_. Almost
immediately _M_ and _X_ see a phosphorescent, milky-looking, amorphous
light, of about six inches in diameter in parts, floating about outside
the door of the cabinet. It was decidedly objective, lasted for about
one minute, and gradually disappeared.

“_R_ did not see the light.

“[From an experiment made on the following day, we have all three
reason to believe, that Professor Richet did not see the luminosities
at this seance because of his position. Let it be borne in mind that
_X_ was in direct line of vision with the door of the cabinet, and that
_M_ was also favourably placed for observation. These facts did not
strike us until the seance was over, and _R_’s inability to see what
_M_ and _X_ affirmed were objective lights was incomprehensible at the
time being.]

“When the medium took Professor Richet’s place in the cabinet, he said
the latter appeared to him to be all lighted up; when Dr. Maxwell and I
saw the light outside the cabinet, the medium declared he was in utter
darkness. During the production of this phenomenon, M. Meurice was
heard to breathe heavily; he said he did not know why he felt obliged
to do this; he complained of feeling suddenly very cold; at the same
time, a cold perspiration broke out on his forehead. He also said that
he felt the need of stretching himself and yawning.

“An interval of ten minutes now passed. Then _M_ and _X_ saw an
amorphous luminosity gradually form in front of the cabinet, and
make slight movements in the direction of the table at which the
experimenters were sitting. _M_, by the light of this luminosity, sees
the curtain slowly open, and close again as the light disappears.

“_R_ sees nothing definite. He thinks he sees a cloud-like substance,
but is not sure of its objectivity (because of his position?).

“As in the case of the first luminosity, so for this second one, M.
Meurice declares that the cabinet is lighted up within, becoming dark
when _M_ and _X_ see the light. He has the same sensations of cold. In
addition, he says he feels tired, and asks to be allowed to discontinue
the seance.

“No odour of phosphorus was perceptible, although the lights we
observed had something of a phosphorescent appearance; but I think it
would be more correct were I to compare what I saw on this occasion
with the Milky Way; in fact, these luminosities presented an appearance
almost exactly similar to that presented by the Orion nebulæ, when seen
through the telescope.

“The medium looked pale and tired, when we closed the seance, but he
quickly recovered his vitality, and during dinner—scarcely an hour
later—some fine telekinetic movements of a heavy walnut dining-table
were forthcoming in, of course, full light. Seeing the table move,
apparently of its own accord, we joined hands two feet above the table,
and succeeded in making it follow the direction our hands took: now an
inch to the right, now three inches to the left, etc.; we had, finally,
a strong, rotatory movement of six inches. The medium’s knees and feet
were under Professor Richet’s observation, while these movements were
being produced.”

_Third Seance_

  “_Thursday, 3rd November 1904._

“For this seance, because of Professor Richet’s inability to see the
lights, which were visible to _M_ and _X_ at the preceding seance, the
experimenters change their places, and sit in the following manner:—


“Professor Richet goes into the cabinet at the medium’s request,
the latter takes _R_’s place at the table. After an interval of ten
minutes, the medium goes into the cabinet and _R_ takes his new place
at the table.

“Almost immediately, lights are seen moving about on the door of the
cabinet. _R_, _M_, and _X_ all see these lights. _M_ does not see the
first two lights, which _R_ and _X_ mention seeing. He moves closer
to _R_, and then sees distinctly. _R_ has the impression that a ray
of light from twelve to eighteen inches long, and varying from one to
three inches wide, is placed at the opening in the curtains; he thinks
he sees the curtains held open, so to say, by the light.

“The ray of light appears broader to _X_ than to _R_ and _M_. _X_
says he distinctly sees the curtains move, and open; he has the same
impression as _R_, namely that of the light holding the curtains apart.

“This luminous ray was shown six times, at intervals of a few seconds
only. Its duration varied from ten seconds to a minute. In form, it was
constantly changing, though the long ray remained. _R_, _M_, and _X_
had the impression that the luminosity was forming around the ray. A
long, vertical streak of light was shown first of all; the succeeding
lights appeared to be built up around this ray, which always remained
the centre of luminosity; _i.e._ the light, strong in the centre, died
away to right and left, leaving no distinct outline to the luminosity
which, besides being amorphous, was extremely mobile, though in a
sense, fairly stationary. _R_, _M_, and _X_ saw slight differences
in the shape of the lights, a fact which was perhaps due to their
relative positions; but all three agreed as to the vertical ray and the
_general_ shape the luminosity appeared to be assuming.

“From time to time, M. Meurice complained of an oppressive, suffocating
sensation, and said that he felt he must open the curtains, for a few
seconds. Whenever he opened the curtains, _no lights were visible_. _M_
and _X_ took hold of his hands when he opened the curtains, and closed
the latter themselves, when M. Meurice said he felt better.

“At this seance, as before, the medium prepared us for each phenomenon,
by announcing beforehand, that his cabinet was suddenly illuminated,
and as suddenly darkened; the darkness inside corresponded to a
luminosity outside the cabinet.

“The six lights above mentioned were very distinct, and very luminous

“The phenomena ceased for a few minutes. M. Meurice then asked to be
allowed to change places with _X_. This is done; _X_ remains a quarter
of an hour in the cabinet, during which time M. Meurice says he sees
an oval-shaped light, about three times the size of an egg, floating
about on the curtains of the cabinet. _R_ and _M_ see nothing. The
medium returns to the cabinet, and _X_ resumes his seat. _Immediately_,
large triangular-shaped luminosities are seen by _M_ and _R_ outside
the cabinet. _X_ has suddenly fallen asleep.

“_M_ and _R_ then see very mobile, amorphous lights, varying from
three to nine inches in diameter, floating about _X_’s head for a few
seconds; their luminosity is less great than that of the lights seen on
the curtains, but is sufficiently pronounced to light up _X_’s forehead.

“The phenomena again cease. _X_ awakens. M. Meurice asks Dr. Maxwell
to change places with him. The doctor remains in the cabinet for ten
minutes: no phenomena; M. Meurice returns to the cabinet, and _M_
resumes his place at Professor Richet’s left.

“Very quickly, the same phenomena as before occur. The luminous ray
assumes a broad, oval-shaped appearance; it measures about ten or
twelve inches by about fifteen inches; it advances a few inches towards
the table, and then disappears, to show itself, a few seconds later,
larger, rounder in shape, and more brilliant. _M_ and _X_ think they
can distinguish the outlines of a human face in this luminosity, but
_R_ says it appears amorphous to him.

“Shortly after this, _M_ and _X_ see a faintly luminous ball of
about six inches in diameter, form outside the cabinet,—on the
curtain—approach and float over the table above the experimenters’
hands. _R_ sees this also, but compares it to a luminous fog. _R_
cannot affirm the correctness of his last perception.

“Thereupon the seance terminated.

“During the production of these phenomena, M. Meurice complained of
excessive cold; we heard him shivering, and his teeth chattering.
He yawned frequently, and stretched himself repeatedly; he breathed
heavily, and constantly complained of feelings of oppression and

“When the seance was over, he complained of intense thirst and drank
several glasses of water.

“The weather on these three days was very fine, dry, and fresh.

“The conclusions arrived at by those who were present at these three
seances, are:—

“1. That the above-described luminosities were decidedly objective.

“2. That no oversight, no error of observation can explain them.”

The above _compte rendu_ was drawn up by Professor Richet, Dr. Maxwell
and Dr. X. at the end of the seances.


_By Dr. X._

The reader will, perhaps, kindly forgive a few probably uninteresting
but necessary details, before we enter upon the last series of these
psycho-physical phenomena.

Many reasons, chiefly of a family nature, have rendered a substitution
of names imperative. In other respects, and as far as the phenomena
themselves are concerned, this series, like the foregoing, adheres
most strictly to the facts as they occurred.

Early in 1903 a gentleman, whom we will call Mr. Stephens, a man
occupying a high official position in Europe, wished to marry a young
Swedish girl. Mr. Stephens’s parents having, it appears, made other
matrimonial arrangements for their son, were most strongly opposed to
his wishes. Mr. Stephens decided to follow his own inclinations, and
was quietly married to Miss Marie H. in the beginning of the year 1903.
He did not inform his family of the step he had taken, trusting to time
and events for the strained relations between himself and his people to

A short time after his marriage, he received a peremptory call to a
foreign country. It was impossible for his wife to accompany him, for
three excellent reasons: 1. Mr. Stephens was not supposed to have
a wife. 2. The spot he was ordered to is not a spot for a woman to
visit—not being as yet civilised in the European sense of the word.
3. Mrs. Stephens had reason to believe she might become a mother.
Moreover, Mr. Stephens did not anticipate a longer absence than that of
six months.

Mr. and Mrs. Stephens had passed the interval between their marriage
and the former’s departure for abroad in Paris. They lived very
quietly, and had trusted their secret to no one. In the dilemma into
which this foreign mission plunged them, Mr. Stephens decided to make
a confidant of a particular friend, certain as he was that his secret
would be in safe custody. This friend was Professor Richet.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dr. X. writes:—“Mr. Stephens was anxious not to leave his wife alone
in Paris, during his absence, and knowing that Professor Richet
intended making a long series of experiments with Dr. Maxwell at W., he
decided, for diverse reasons, to send his wife to the same locality.
Thus it came about that Mrs. Stephens was invited by Professor Richet
to join the investigating circle, a circle which it had been intended
should be strictly limited to Dr. Maxwell, Professor Richet, the medium
[M. Meurice] and myself. _No_ one, save Professor Richet, knew of the
foregoing details.

“When Mrs. Stephens arrived—her husband came with her, but only
remained a couple of days—we saw a tall, slight, fair woman
of twenty-two or twenty-three years of age,—a quiet, gentle,
refined-looking woman. As she was, curiously enough, a spiritist, and
even possessed ‘intuitive’ faculties of a pretty marked character,—she
had had several veridical hallucinations, and occasionally indulged
in spectrum gazing with fair results—her addition to the circle was
looked upon by the other three members as having been decided by
Professor Richet, because of her nascent psychical powers. No suspicion
of her situation—of which even Mrs. Stephens herself was as yet
uncertain—ever dawned across our minds. She was an early riser, a good
walker, and apparently enjoyed the best of health. The most practical
medical eye could have detected nothing abnormal in her health.

“Very much had been expected from this particular series of
experiments; but, for reasons which are beyond our comprehension,
comparatively little was received. There was every evidence of abundant
force, and the medium was, at times, almost unnerved by our systematic
lack of success.

“Throughout the whole of this particular series, more than ever did the
agency manipulating the energy act like an independent intelligence,
giving striking evidence of power when it cared to do so and, when not
disposed to communicate, shutting off all communication most decidedly
and completely.”

We propose setting forth succinctly, but in detail, the results, both
mediocre and superior—_and just as they occurred_—of these few
weeks of experimentation, leaving it to the reader to bestow an acute
analysis upon them in his own guise. It was only as the time allotted
this series drew to a close, that the phenomena took a personal turn,
and bore so directly, and so intimately, upon Mrs. Stephens’s life.

The notes which are quoted in this series by Dr. X. are, without
exception, Professor Richet’s.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _First Seance. Time 8 to 10.30 p.m._

“Before sitting down,” continues Dr. X., “Dr. Maxwell had placed on the
table a small cardboard box, in which were two amethyst crystal balls.

“The small table was six inches away from M. Meurice, and three inches
away from Professor Richet. Contact had been purposely established
between the two tables by means of a small white cloth—which did not
interfere in any way with the control of eyesight. A bright, electric
light was burning.

“Several visions were described; they offered little interest. Then
the small table moved abruptly; it approached the seance table in
jerks, covering, in this manner, a distance of two and a half inches.
It was verified that no contact whatever existed, save that with
the white cloth; the latter was not touched by M. Meurice. Then for
nearly an hour there was complete cessation of all phenomena, with the
exception of perpetual rapping without intelligence. Thinking nothing
more would be forthcoming, Dr. Maxwell and Professor Richet rose
from the table, and went out on to the balcony of the room in which
the seance was being held. Mrs. Stephens, the medium, and I remained
at the table. I asked M. Meurice how he proceeded when he wished to
attract articles—up to that moment I had not witnessed this interesting
phenomenon. He replied, ‘I have an odd sensation in my fingers, and I
do this’—accompanying his words by certain hand movements; that is, he
drew his hands together in front of and quite close to the cardboard
box still lying on the table; he withdrew his hands—joined together
at the finger-tips—very slowly, and, when the tips of his fingers
were at a distance of six inches from the box, the latter began to
move. It moved slowly and smoothly, without any jerking whatsoever,
exactly as though it were being dragged across the table by a cord. I
thought I perceived a tiny ray of light—something like a dewy spider’s
web with the sunlight gleaming through it—connecting M. Meurice’s
fingers with the box, but this was probably an illusion, as there was
nothing palpable to the touch. I passed my hands around the box, and
all over the medium’s hands and arms, but there was no thread of any
kind whatever. M. Meurice said he had not seen the box move, though I
observed he appeared to be gazing fixedly at it during the operation,
and though the box travelled a distance of six inches.


“Without leaving my seat I called in Dr. Maxwell and Professor Richet,
and told them what had happened. M. Meurice was asked to try again,
while Professor Richet put out some of the lights, thinking thus to
help the force, which might have been too severely tried by its last
efforts. I take the following extract from Professor Richet’s notes:—

“‘The same phenomenon was reproduced in my presence, but with less
light—quite sufficient, however, to see everything, and every movement
distinctly. The box, slowly and without any apparent jerking, followed
the medium’s fingers. I saw the box slowly displace itself, and drag
itself over the plush-covered table, for a distance of nearly five
inches. There was absolutely no contact of any kind whatsoever, either
mediate or immediate. A strong gastric attack, quickly over, seized the
medium after this experience.’[30]

      [30] This phenomenon may be considered of such importance as
      to necessitate Professor Richet’s exact words being given; I
      therefore append them:—

      ‘Un autre phénomène d’attraction très remarquable. Une petite
      boîte en carton carrée de 0.02 de côté environ est attirée,
      d’abord en pleine lumière devant Dr. X. Le même phénomène
      s’est reproduit devant moi avec beaucoup moins de lumière....
      La boîte était lentement et sans secousse, pendant 2 à 4
      secondes, attirée par les doigts du médium et je l’ai vue se
      déplacer ainsi lentement, en traînant sur la peluche jusqu’à
      12 centimètres environ. Il n’y a absolument aucun contact, ni
      médiat ni direct. (Crise gastrique forte et passagère du médium
      à la suite de cette expérience.)’

“On resuming the seance the raps were asked, ‘Who is rapping?’

“Reply: ‘Antion.’ ‘Is it Antoine?’

“Reply: ‘Yes, Antoine Br.’ We arrested the communication at the letter
r, understanding it to mean Antoine B. of _A Complex Case_, p. 214. The
raps then predicted the death of Madame B.’s second husband to take
place in March 1904.”

[This premonition was not realised. The gentleman in question is
in remarkably good health to-day, April 1905; but, at that time,
Professor Richet was anxious about him. Dr. L. was utterly prostrated
by the sudden death of his wife Madame B. Neither Dr. Maxwell nor the
medium knew that Antoine B.’s widow had married a second time; nor
were they aware of Professor Richet’s anxiety concerning Dr. L.’s
health.[31]—_Note by the Translator._]

      [31] ‘Since the above was written, Dr. George L.’s son,
      Olivier, a youth of nineteen, has been killed in a railway
      accident (see p. 234). Notwithstanding the errors, there is
      a certain interest in the fact that the rapping force seemed
      to sense some near tragic occurrence to some member of the
      family. The raps first of all gave the surname L. of the person
      destined to die shortly; it was only after much hesitation that
      the name of George was given. The raps at first refused to give
      the date, but, after much pressing, dictated March 1904.

      ‘Professor Richet did not tell any one that Madame X. had
      already predicted the early death “of one of the sons.”’—_Note
      by Dr. X._

“The communicating intelligence, purporting to be Antoine B., was then
asked: ‘What was the nature of Madame B.’s illness?’ Reply: ‘Ness,
foie.’ (The doctors who attended Madame B. when she died have not been
able to agree as to what the malady was, though they think it was
probably of a tubercular nature.)

“We asked Antoine B. for another sign of identity, and received the
word ‘Carlos.’ (Professor Richet considers it highly probable that
every one present knew that Antoine B. called him by that name.)

“‘When the raps dictated the name of Antoine B., the medium said he
saw standing near me a young man of about thirty years of age; he had
very soft blue eyes, and a short pointed beard. As far as it goes, this
applies to my friend Antoine B.’, says Professor Richet.

       *       *       *       *       *

“This first seance gave some fair results. We were now destined
to pass several weeks without receiving a single phenomenon worth
mentioning. We cannot account for this; though Dr. Maxwell is inclined
to think, that the energy was spent in efforts made to obtain psychic
photographs. The weather was excellent, every one was in good, even
exuberant, health and spirits; the circle was very homogeneous; no _a
priori_ conditions had been laid down. Great things had been promised,
but the great things were not forthcoming; and the ‘force’ did not
deign to explain why, though it gave occasional signs of being to the
fore, and ready to work if it cared to do so. For example, it would rap
out as many airs and rhythms as requested, but took refuge in complete
silence, or disorder, or pleaded fatigue, if asked for telekinetic
phenomena or intelligent messages. It acted like a lazy child asked to
accomplish a possible but difficult task.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Photography was tried, but without success. On one of these occasions,
when M. Meurice was re-entering his room after having sat for
photography, he heard footsteps beside him, and had the vision of a
form which interposed itself between himself and the door, as though
desirous of preventing him from entering his room. He heard the words:
‘Pardon, je n’ai qu’un moment, vous avez déjà entendu parler de moi; je
suis Antoine. Je viens voir mon fils.’ ... He then perceived the form of
an old man, clean-shaven save for short whiskers; he was wearing the
crimson robe of a magistrate. The hallucination quickly disappeared.

“No one, save Professor Richet, knew that this day was the anniversary
of the death of his maternal grandfather, whose father’s name happened
to be Antoine. But we were all aware that Professor Richet had received
various communications purporting to emanate from these two ancestors
of his. It was also known that his grandfather had presided over the
law-courts at Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

“On one occasion, we had all five made an excursion into the country:
and here I quote from Professor Richet’s notes:—‘Coming home—it was
moonlight, and still twilight—we got down from the carriage—a private
omnibus—to walk a while. Dr. Maxwell and M. Meurice lagged behind,
and Dr. X., Mrs. S., and I got into the carriage again, before they
had caught us up. As she was stepping in, Mrs. S. told me she felt as
though a woman were running behind her, and were helping her into the
carriage; seated, Mrs. S. continued to perceive this vision; it was
wearing a hood on its head, and a cross on its breast; the vision
bent its head over Mrs. S.’s hand, pressing its teeth on it “as though
to show she had died in agony, stabbed to death,” said Mrs. S. When
Dr. Maxwell and M. Meurice rejoined us, the former told me, in an
undertone, that M. Meurice had just had a vision of a woman running
behind Mrs. S.; the vision was wearing a hood on its head. M. Meurice
and Mrs. S. continued to see this vision for above five minutes longer,
when they both saw it disappear into a clump of trees. M. Meurice
and Mrs. S. communicated their impressions to Dr. Maxwell and myself

“‘A few minutes afterwards, they both had another simultaneous vision.
Mrs. S. saw a man astride one of the carriage-horses; M. Meurice, with
an identical description of dress, saw a man not seated on, but running
beside, the same horse holding the reins. He thought it was Chappe.
Then everything disappeared.

“‘Neither visionary communicated their impressions to the other.’

       *       *       *       *       *

“Exception made of the attractions of the box and table, the foregoing
results will probably be considered as demonstrative of nothing in
particular. We were now to receive something more interesting.

“Let it be said, _en passant_, that Mrs. Stephens never once saw the
medium alone. There had not been the slightest break in her reserve.
And all, save Professor Richet and herself, continued to think she
had been invited by Professor Richet solely because of her psychical
powers. M. Meurice sometimes remarked, seeking a reason for the
inexplicable failure of the experiments, that he believed the cause
lay in a super-abundance of power, that the psychic force was too
great, that Mrs. S. gave forth too much power, etc.

“Now, early one morning, three weeks after we had begun this series,
Mrs. Stephens remarked to Professor Richet that [I again quote from
Professor Richet’s notes] ‘during the night she had been thinking a
great deal about the Christ, and had said to herself, if the spirits of
the deceased can appear to man, why not the Christ? And she said she
had asked for a sign to be given her that this could be. Mrs. Stephens
had scarcely pronounced these words, when Dr. Maxwell came into the
sitting-room and said: “I have just seen M. Meurice, he had a vision
while I was conversing with him. He said he perceived the form of a
man with short hair and beard; a halo of light behind him, a circle
of gold on his head; he was dressed in white; M. Meurice says it was
the Christ. With an imperious air, the form showed him a thick yellow
manuscript—a papyrus—covered with writing. As M. Meurice was trying
to decipher the characters for me, the vision disappeared. M. Meurice
was suddenly exhausted, and had a fit of weeping before recovering his
normal condition.”

“‘A few mornings afterwards the medium had another vision. This time
it was Chappe who came, it appears, to tell him that it was not _the_
Christ whom he had seen, but _a_ Christ.’[32]

      [32] See note, p. 329.

       *       *       *       *       *

“I must pause a while. It seems that Mrs. Stephens did not care about
returning to Paris during her husband’s absence; and—in the event
of her hopes being well founded—had expressed to Professor Richet
her great desire of passing the rest of the year near Biarritz, a
place for which she had a great liking. She begged Professor Richet
to write for her to a house agent to procure her a villa in that
town. It seems also, that Mrs. Stephens—though her manner had never
betrayed this—had taken a fancy to the medium and his family; one of
his sisters is an experienced hospital nurse, and Mrs. Stephens was
wondering—in quiet conversation with Professor Richet only—if it would
be possible to persuade her to come and live with her at Biarritz. Upon
this conversation Professor Richet obtained the address of an agent,
and wrote to him according to Mrs. Stephens’s wishes. He showed the
letter to Mrs. Stephens. The latter said [again I quote from Professor
Richet’s notes]: ‘Since I spoke to you about Biarritz, Chappe has told
me something. He wants me to go to Bordeaux. Do not post that letter
yet, let me wait a little while; if my intuition be correct, if the
idea of Bordeaux really came from the spirits, they are quite capable
of finding a way of indicating it to M. Meurice and Dr. Maxwell. I do
not wish to speak of it myself to M. Meurice; this must come from the
spirits themselves....’

“[We are endeavouring to give a faithful account of what actually
occurred, and beg to be forgiven the unscientific language, which is
occasionally unavoidable, if we are to convey a correct notion of the
physiognomy of the phenomena.]

“Now the morning (a Thursday) following the day on which the above
conversation had taken place, Mrs. Stephens came to Professor Richet,
and told him she had passed a very strange and perturbed night. She
said that, towards eleven o’clock, she was suddenly awakened by a
sensation that some one was in her room; she was filled with fear. She
turned on the light, but saw nothing. She kept the light burning, but
still felt unaccountably frightened. She heard raps on the head of
her bed. Gradually her fear quieted down, and she said she began to
feel as though there were a host of spirits in her room, and a Great
Presence was among them. ‘And she imagined,’ writes Professor Richet,
‘that a voice spoke to her in these terms: “A powerful spirit is here,
be not afraid; it is the child’s guide; your child will be a boy; he
has a great destiny before him, he will be a reformer. We counsel you
not to force his inclinations, to choose no career for him, but to let
yourself be guided by the child himself, when the time comes to think
of his education.”

“‘Mrs. Stephens was still speaking of her night’s experience, when Dr.
Maxwell came into the room, and handed me,’ continues Professor Richet,
‘some verses which, he said, had just been written by M. Meurice—a
kind of quasi-automatism—in a state of semi-somnolence. He could not
understand what it meant, and simply stated the fact without offering
any comment on it.’”

Here are the verses. For the sake of brevity we omit five of them,
they are in the same strain as those given. We believe the reader will
prefer to see these verses in the original:—

    Quand un enfant vient au monde,
    Vient au monde d’ici-bas,
    Il faut qu’un ange en réponde,
    Et le suive pas à pas.

    Pas à pas il faut qu’il guide
    La petite âme en chemin,
    La petite âme timide,
    Qu’il doit prendre par la main.

    Et les anges se querellent
    Autour des bébés naissants,
    S’ils sont de ceux-là qu’appellent
    Vers la Clarté les Puissants.

    Dans la foule qui l’assaille
    La petite âme choisit;
    Elle est émue et tressaille,
    Et la crainte la saisit.

    Il faut qu’autour de la mère,
    De la mère qui l’attend,
    Seuls les anges de lumière
    Guettent le petit enfant.

“During the course of the day, Professor Richet said to Mrs. S. that it
would perhaps be well if she spoke to the medium about his sister; but
Mrs. Stephens answered: ‘No. Wait a little longer. I would have spoken
to M. Meurice, had I been encouraged to do so by the spirits; but I
think it better to let the spirits tell them.’

“Thursday passed away without any further incident, and nothing was
said to Dr. Maxwell concerning Mrs. Stephens’s experiences in the
night, or the concomitant nature of the automatic script with those

“On Friday morning, Dr. Maxwell told Professor Richet that he had
just obtained more automatic writing through M. Meurice. This writing
purported to be a communication from Chappe. The communication
concerned Mrs. Stephens, said Dr. Maxwell, but was not to be given to
her for the time being. Chappe asked that a sitting might be arranged
for on the same afternoon, as he had something to say. The sitting
took place; it lasted from two to six o’clock, during the whole of
which time Chappe did not once make use of his well-known subterfuges
of ‘fatigue,’ ‘silence,’ ‘no power,’ etc.; and, though as the seance
wore on M. Meurice was very visibly fatigued, the operating agency
manifested absolute indifference to such fatigue. It was as though
Chappe had indeed something to say and meant to say it. The messages
were given by means of raps without contact to begin with, but in order
to diminish the chances of fatigue to the medium, we begged him to use
the pencil as a rapping instrument. The light was strong,—an afternoon
summer sunlight shining into the room; the pencil did not move when
the raps were heard. The latter were given with force and without any
hesitation; they were as strong at the end of the seance as at the

(In order to afford the reader every assistance in his appreciation and
analysis of these messages, we will give them in the original.)

“Chappe gave his special signal intimating he was present.

“Observer: ‘You wish to speak with us, Chappe?’

“Chappe: ‘Je veux demander à vos amis la permission de vous parler de
ce qui vous intéresse.’

“Acting on the advice of Chappe, we then traced the ‘magic circle’
in order to prevent, as Chappe said, the intervention of too many
influences, and to preserve purity in the phenomena.

“Observer, after an interval of ten minutes: ‘Are you ready, Chappe?’

“Much confusion in the raps, and impossibility of obtaining an
intelligent answer; after half an hour of confusion came the
laboriously spelt out message:—

“Chappe: ‘Peut-être que vous êtes isolés.’

“Observer: ‘Why?’

“Chappe: ‘Parce que vous les avez renvoyés, cercle magique.’

“We were led to understand by this that the magic circle had had too
good an effect, and prevented even Chappe from communicating with
his companions. Once more we followed his instructions, inviting our
‘friends’ into the circle. It was then announced that Robert, one of
Mrs. Stephens’s deceased relatives, was present and wished to speak.
When asked what he had to say, we received:—

“Robert: ‘Bonnes fées qui entourent et qui m’empêchent de vous

“We begged the ‘good fairies’ to be so kind as to allow this friend to
communicate. The raps indicated that the favour was accorded, and that
our friend could now communicate with us.


“Observer: ‘What do you mean? Give one significative word.’


“Mrs. Stephens: ‘What child?’

“Robert: ‘Le vôtre; il arrivera, il faut être heureuse, vous aurez tant
de bonheur.’

“Observer: ‘Have you anything more to say?’

“Robert: ‘Appelle ton enfant Chétien Alexandre.’

“Observer: ‘Is Chétien Alexandre correct?’

“Robert: ‘Alexandre Chrétien.’[33]

      [33] “The medium has frequently said that if he ever had
      a son, he would call him Chrétien. The name Alexandre was
      also constantly on our lips, for two personifications, who
      frequently claimed to be communicating, were called Alexandre.

“Observer: ‘Can you predict on what day he will be born?’

“Robert: ‘Oui. Épiphanie.’[34]

      [34] “Mrs. Stephens had a preference for the Epiphany, and she
      told us, after the seance, that she had mentally asked her
      child might be born on that day—the 6th of January.”—_Note by
      Dr. X._

“Mrs. Stephens: ‘Do you know who the child’s guide is?’

“Robert: ‘Oui.’

“Mrs. Stephens: ‘What is his name?’

“Robert: ‘Réponse plus tard.’

“Observer: ‘Have you anything more to say?’

“Robert: ‘Prudence.’ For whom? ‘Marie’ (Mrs. Stephens). ‘Au revoir.’

“At the end of the above seance Dr. Maxwell handed Professor Richet the
automatic script he had received in the morning. It read: ‘... (Mrs.
Stephens) est en voie de famille. Elle désire aller à Biarritz et que
(the name of the medium’s sister) l’accompagne. Mais dites lui d’aller
à Bordeaux, où elle sera mieux soignée et où les influences sont

       *       *       *       *       *

“A few days after the above messages had been received, the raps again
signified their desire to communicate. The following conversation then
took place.

“Observer: ‘Who is here?’

“Reply: ‘Robert. Ménagez Marie. Marie ... Aesotheu ...’ (change of
tonality, and Chappe’s signal was given).

“Chappe: ‘Restez un moment tranquille. Il y a trop de monde.’

“(Another change of tonality in the raps, followed by C. R.’s
signal—Professor Richet’s grandfather.)

“C. R. ‘Quelque force mauvaise m’empêche de vous parler.’ (Confusion
for some time; raps of various tonalities and in great number resound
on the woodwork of the foot of the medium’s bed—we were holding the
seance in his room by Chappe’s express desire.)

“Chappe: ‘Je ne veux pas qu’on se serve de cette chambre.’

“Observer: ‘Why?’

“Chappe: ‘Parce que Meurice y couche.’

“Observer: ‘Where shall we go then?’

“Chappe: ‘Où vous voudrez.’

“This was not by any means the first time we had held a seance in M.
Meurice’s room, no objection had ever been made to this proceeding
before, which, in fact, had been recommended by Chappe.

“It was impossible to obtain another sign of any nature whatsoever.
Professor Richet, Mrs. Stephens, and I went out of the room, leaving
Dr. Maxwell and the medium alone. We had scarcely left when the latter,
it appears, turned to Dr. Maxwell and said: ‘I see Professor Richet
tearing up some printed matter and burning it. I think it is the bad
influence Chappe was speaking about.’

“We three alone, commenting upon these messages, laid stress upon
the excuse of ‘bad influences,’ and thought it was probably one of
Chappe’s tricks to avoid working, when it did not suit him to work.
But suddenly Professor Richet remembered a piece of newspaper which
he had put into his inner breast coat-pocket early that same morning,
and on which was the name of a man who had been drowned the previous
week—drowned before our eyes. This event had left a great impression
on us all, every one had made strenuous efforts to save the man, and
the medium in particular had striven hard to restore life. Professor
Richet, coming across the man’s name in a newspaper, had cut it out,
and put the slip into his pocket-book, for reference sake, in case
the phenomena should turn upon the drowned man. No one was near or
could possibly have seen Professor Richet do this; he also took
the precaution of destroying the paper from which he had taken the

“Now Professor Richet took the cutting out of his pocket-book, tore it
up and burnt it before Mrs. Stephens and myself, laughingly saying:
‘Let us see if that will destroy the bad influence.’

“It was not till some hours afterwards, that he was told of what M.
Meurice had said relative to the ‘burning of printed matter,’ etc.

       *       *       *       *       *

“The next day, M. Meurice gave a fine phenomenon of attraction in
presence of Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell. It was two o’clock in
the afternoon; the two latter were playing chess; M. Meurice was lying
on the floor reading; a fan was on the floor near him. He said: ‘I
begin to feel the cobwebby sensation in my fingers; let us see if I can
attract this fan.’ Dr. Maxwell and Professor Richet left the table,
and knelt down on the floor beside M. Meurice; the latter proceeded,
first of all, as though he were enveloping the fan with something;
then, meeting his hands at the finger-tips, he drew them back very
slowly. When his fingers were about six inches away from the fan, the
latter moved, and slowly followed his fingers for a distance of five
inches. Professor Richet and Dr. Maxwell assured themselves by sight
and touch, that the fan was not normally connected with the medium. The
latter had a violent gastric attack immediately after the production of
this phenomenon.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Professor Richet’s birthday occurred during these investigations,
and, when the day arrived, we ventured to express a hope that he might
be favoured with some good phenomena. We tried, and received abundant
signs of energy in the shape of raps. Chappe was asked if he had not
something to say or offer Professor Richet as a birthday present.

“Reply: ‘Depuis votre naissance vous avez grandi! Vous aurez des
communications plus intéressantes, que celles que vous avez reçues.’

“At this point some one asked the medium if he felt tired, and Chappe
at once dictated:—

“‘Il faut pour un moment se reposer si on est fatigué.’ However, no
notice was taken of this advice.

“Prof. R: ‘Why has my mother never communicated?’

“Chappe: ‘Parce que vous ne l’avez jamais appelée.’[35]

      [35] “True; but then neither was C. R. nor Antoine B. nor any
      other personification ever evoked.”—_Note by Dr. X._

“Here the raps indicate that ‘C. R.’ wishes to communicate.

“C. R. (Prof. Richet’s grandfather): ‘Je suis très content d’être avec
vous.’ Much confusion and meaningless rapping. ‘Ici.’

“Chappe: ‘G. ne vous reverra pas.’

“Prof. R.: ‘Can you tell me my mother’s name?’

“Chappe: ‘Je pourrai le dire quand je le saurai.’

“There was a brief silence, during which Chappe was supposed to be
asking C. R. for the desired name.

“Chappe: ‘Adèle.’ Wrong. But it was known that this was a family name.

“C. R.: ‘Veux-tu voir ta mère? Fais attention. Cette nuit elle
t’apparaîtra en rêve.’ This promise was not fulfilled.

“Prof. R.: ‘Try again for my mother’s name.’

“C. R.: ‘A—o—a—m—e; Marig; Antoine; ther.’

“There was no approach to the desired name. There was plenty of
energy, and the raps flowed quickly and without hesitation in certain
instances, such as ‘Veux-tu voir ta mère?’

“Chappe: ‘Prudence.’

“Observer: ‘Why?’

“Observer: ‘Can you now give the name of the child’s guide?’

“Chappe: ‘Plus tard. Adieu.’

“The communicating intelligence frequently manifests—a fact which was
particularly noticeable during this series of experiments—a supreme
indifference to scientific aspirations, to furnishing proofs of
identity or of any desire to meet the investigator halfway, and help
him in his researches.

“Since the communications concerning Mrs. Stephens had been received,
whenever it was intimated that ‘they’ had something to say, that
something was generally the word ‘Prudence’ or terms of a like

“The agency at work allowed it to be clearly seen that—for the time
being at least—it interested itself in no one save in Mrs. Stephens.
This solicitude was continued up to the last; time after time the word
‘Prudence’ was uttered, so often in fact as to lose all meaning from
sheer force of repetition; and no out-of-the-way heed was taken of the

“This series of experiments came to an end.

“Mrs. Stephens took a villa on the outskirts of Bordeaux, where the
medium’s sister joined her.

       *       *       *       *       *

“It appears that Mrs. Stephens looked forward with unusual joy to the
coming event, and was much opposed to the idea of a wet nurse. I was
now at Bordeaux; I often saw Mrs. Stephens, and it is highly probable
that M. Meurice, like myself, knew of Mrs. Stephens’s very legitimate
desire. Now Chappe had, for some time, given no sign of his presence;
but one day, when M. Meurice, Mrs. S., and I were out walking, sharp
raps suddenly resounded on the medium’s walking-stick. Mrs. S. begged
him to touch the handle of her umbrella—which was open; raps were then
given on the outstretched silk. With loud decided raps, Chappe quickly
dictated: ‘Retenez bien ceci, il ne faut pas laisser Marie allaiter.’
We asked the wherefore, but the silence was complete; do what we would,
not another rap could be obtained.

“On another occasion, when raps were forthcoming, we asked Chappe for
a word which would portray the state of mind of those present, and
received the very appropriate reply: ‘Paix absolue.’ This message was
given on the silk of the open umbrella, M. Meurice lightly touching the
handle only.

“As the 6th of January drew near, Chappe began to get nervous about
the fate of the prediction, and, by means of automatic writing, he
indicated that we were to remember, that it was not he, but Robert,
who had predicted that the birth would take place on the 6th January.
Thereupon, he added that the event would not occur before the 15th of
January—that it would take place on the night of the 14th-15th January.
During the last fortnight this was often referred to by Chappe, by
means of automatic writing—which perhaps gives more scope for the play
of the subliminal. Chappe washed his hands, so to say, of Robert and
his doings.

“Towards the 20th of December, Mrs. Stephens received news that her
husband was on his way home, but was feeling rather unwell. In the
letter, the word ‘néphrite’ was made use of. Mrs. S. did not mention
this to any one; she said, however, that her husband had a slight
kidney worry. The next day, the following communication, bearing upon
Mr. S.’s anticipated arrival in Bordeaux, was received from Chappe by
raps through the pencil:—

“‘Il faut que vous l’empêchiez de se mettre en route pour Bordeaux.’

“Why? ‘Maladie sérieuse s’il avait froid.’ What is he suffering from?
‘Néphrite. Recommandez repos absolu; bonsoir.’

“On another occasion, always referring to the same subject, Mr. S.’s
indisposition, Chappe said: ‘Pas sage de faire le trajet de Londres à
Bordeaux. Rassurez-vous. Maladie pas grave.’

“The child—a boy—was born at 2.15 on the afternoon of the 5th January,
that is, on the eve of the Epiphany—and not on the Epiphany as was
predicted (page 355).[36]

      [36] “On the 4th January, Mrs. Stephens was particularly
      anxious about her husband, and insisted on driving into
      Bordeaux and personally sending him a telegram. Without a
      doubt, the anxiety and physical restlessness of the previous
      few days hastened the event.”—_Note by Dr. X._

       *       *       *       *       *

“Mrs. Stephens desired to add the name of Quentin to the names of
Alexandre Chrétien. I happened to mention this to M. Meurice, and by
so doing awakened Chappe and a salvo of raps. He would not say what he
wanted, and M. Meurice remarked: ‘We are to go into Mrs. Stephens’s
bedroom.’ We were admitted. M. Meurice stood near the head of the bed,
but did not touch it. The raps resounded on the wood of the bed. Chappe
dictated: ‘Il ne faut pas appeler Quentin.’ The force was abundant,
and this message had been given quickly and with decision; yet, when
we asked why the child should not be called Quentin, we could get no
reply. It was for all the world as though a distinct intelligence was
behind those raps, one, who, like ourselves, knew, on occasion, how to
say: ‘I have said; let that suffice.’

“For a week, all went well with mother and child. Seven days after the
child’s birth, Mrs. Stephens was seized with a violent and inexplicable
fever. The following day, a thoughtless servant handed her a telegram;
the telegram announced the death of her husband. The fever regained
possession, and Mrs. Stephens died the same night.

“Perhaps in conclusion, and as our only comment on this history, it
may not be out of place to recall to mind Chappe’s oft-repeated word,

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, lest in the relation of the foregoing experiences, say
rather in this simple registration of a few ascertained facts, we be
reproached for a language which carries associations from which certain
minds of a scientific bent may shrink, may we be permitted to say that
there is more appearance than reality in our backsliding—if backsliding
there be. We have given an exposition of facts, touching upon unknown
forces and arduous problems; the magnitude and complexity of which we
realise but too deeply—problems which cannot be solved by academic
methods. Time and patient constancy of research are needed to bring
them to a successful issue.



This work would be incomplete, if I did not carefully examine fraud
and errors of observation. The first should always be considered as
possible. Errors of observation are even more numerous than fraud, and
their sources are manifold. We should study them, learn their causes,
and suspect them until the contrary has been proved.


Fraud can be conscious, unconscious, or mixed. I have no need to say
how frequent the first is, especially with paid mediums. Spiritistic
reviews, notably the Revue Spirite, Revue Morale et Scientifique du
Spiritisme, Light, Psychische Studien, give many examples of fraud
discovered by spiritists themselves. Unconscious fraud is no less
common than conscious fraud; as for the third, mixed fraud, this is
also very often observed.

_Conscious fraud._—(_a_) _Raps._ Nothing is easier to imitate. I have
indicated the diverse ways of reproducing them artificially: gliding
the finger or nail along the top of the table, with or without the help
of resin; rapping with the feet; gliding the foot or dress—especially
silk dresses—against the legs of table, etc. These diverse movements
imitate feeble raps to perfection, if they be slowly made. For that
reason I have always refused to consider raps as convincing when
produced with any contact whatever. Consequently I exclude raps
produced on the floor from those phenomena which have determined my
conviction. Certain persons seem to be able to move their tendons at
will, even making a considerable noise in that way. I observed this
with a medical student who, by resting his elbow on the table, produced
very sonorous raps; but the movement of his arm was easily seen. I know
another person who could crack his joints at will.

The play of the knee-joint has been especially incriminated by Mrs.
Sidgwick in her article ‘The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism’
(_Proceedings of the S.P.R._ xiii. 45). She recalls to mind the
interpretations given by Drs. Lee, Flint, and Coventry, who observed
Mrs. Kane and Mrs. Underhill, two of the famous Fox sisters. Mrs.
Sidgwick experimented with the third sister, Mrs. Jencken, and accepted
the explanation of the American doctors. For them, the double raps
were produced by a rapid movement of dislocation and readjustment of
the knee. By placing in such a position as to render that voluntary
dislocation impossible, _e.g._ by making the medium sit down with
outstretched legs and heels resting on a soft cushion, no raps were
forthcoming. It is possible that the explanation of the American
doctors may be true concerning the case examined by them. In those
which I have studied, it is certainly not acceptable. I have obtained
raps on a table without any kind of contact whatsoever. I have obtained
them on the floor, by placing the medium in positions which excluded
the play of articulation. The kind of fraud in question was not
therefore in operation. I have even made some mediums sit on my knees
when raps were forthcoming; I then made sure the raps were produced on
the table, and that the latter was not touched. My conclusion as to the
reality of the phenomenon of raps is the result of nearly two hundred

In obscurity, the means of cheating are unimaginable. I saw a young
medium, who had succeeded in concealing a stick, simulate raps on
the ceiling with it. I have known two others hit the table with
their fists, kick it with their feet, etc. Everything is possible in
darkness, and with certain confiding observers.

(_b_) _Parakinesis_, or abnormal movements of objects with contact.
I have often said that all movements with contact—except certain
levitations which are, however, difficult to observe with precision—are
worthless. I have indicated the chief ways of simulating levitations,
either by the hands, the feet or the knees. I will not revert to this.

These methods are difficult in full light, but when the experimenters
are placed in such a position as to be unable to keep a reciprocal
watch over the feet, the second method is still easily brought into

(_c_) _Telekinesis._—Fraud is more difficult to perpetrate here. A
connecting link of some kind or other would be required to move objects
possessing a certain weight and bulk. I look upon this phenomenon as
most convincing, when it is obtained in full light; in obscurity, it is
to a certain extent unverifiable.

(_d_) _Luminous phenomena_ are easily simulated; phosphorescent oil
and certain sulphides give excellent imitations of hands and forms.
I have seen a photograph taken by magnesian light in a seance for
materialisation. The medium, by way of imitating a materialised garment
of some kind, had wound a white cloth around his neck, and moreover
wore a false beard. Those present at this seance will not admit they
were cheated. One of the sitters, a friend of mine, one familiar with
psychical matters, but too honest himself to suspect fraud in others,
did not think my judgment in this case was correct. It was necessary to
have it confirmed by the celebrated Papus!

As for the phenomenon of _attouchements_, this is of all phenomena the
most easily simulated in obscurity.

Every one knows the rôle played by dolls, disguises and confederates
in seances for materialisation. The trickster’s imagination is of
inconceivable fertility. The recent Rothe trial gives us a fresh
example of this.

(_e_) _Motor and sensory automatisms_ can be imitated with extreme
facility, and their efficacious control is impossible. A careful
analysis of the messages is necessary in order to appreciate their
value. On the other hand, well-observed premonitions are of immense

From the preceding, we see that all psychical phenomena can be
simulated; this does not mean that every psychical phenomenon is
simulated. Those who wish to explain away everything by fraud make as
great a mistake, as those who trustingly accept everything without

There is an important general observation to be made concerning the
phenomena I am treating in this book. It is of historical order, but
nevertheless it gives a much wider signification to these facts than
is usually accorded them. Many writers, Janet among them, imagine that
_spiritistic_ phenomena, as they call them, date from the celebrated
events of Rochester, about the year 1847, where the Fox sisters were
the objects of diverse manifestations. But in reality these facts date
much further back. One of the best observed cases is the one spoken
of by Dr. Kerner in his book _Die Seherin von Prevorst_, which has
been translated by Dr. Dusart into French, probably from Mrs. Crowe’s
English translation. Kerner observed raps and movements without contact
from the year 1827, when he had Madame Hauff staying in his house.

Phenomena of the same kind are to be met with in accounts of haunted
houses. There are stories of this kind dating from remote epochs, and
diverse decrees of parliament exist cancelling leases for this cause.
These phenomena were criticised at the end of the eighteenth century.

It is only the metaphysical system founded upon these facts which is
new. It is in that, and in that only, that spiritism or spiritualism
consists. It is undeniable that the doctrine embodying the essence of
these teachings has attained a considerable extension. I pointed out
the radical differences existing between the beliefs of Anglo-Saxon
spiritists and those of spiritists of other nationalities, particularly
in that which concerns reincarnation. I will not go back to this;
but in order to specify the point in question, I will recall to mind
that the only new phenomena which spiritistic forms of contemporary
mysticism offer, are their constitution into a body of religious
doctrines and their rapid extension. These phenomena are of
sociological, not biological order. The facts upon which they are based
belong, on the contrary, to biology.

Further, it is not absolutely true to say, that the metaphysical
theories established upon the revelations of spirits are new. The
life of some of the ‘saints’ in the Roman Church offers us several
examples, one of the most celebrated being the devotion to the _Sacrè
Cœur de Jésus_,’ a special kind of worship based upon revelations
claimed to have been accorded to a nun named Marie Alacoque, who
lived in the eighteenth century. Monastic life has not the monopoly
of such experiences. Commerce with spirits appears to be likewise one
of the elements of the religious ceremonies of the Shakers; even the
Mormons seem to indulge in practices similar to those of spiritism;
Jérôme Cardan, John Dee, Martinez de Pasqually pass for having held
intercourse with immaterial beings; members of the order of the Red
Cross have also been looked upon as holding frequent intercourse with
diverse genii. If we study the history of human thought, we see that
nothing is really new, nothing save perhaps the contemporary extension
of spiritism. From many points of view, spiritism appears to play a
rôle in the civilised, sceptical, material society of to-day, analogous
to the simple rôle which Christianity played in the second and third
centuries of our era.

But this is a sociological problem; its examination, however
interesting it may be, would lead me beyond the limits I have traced
for myself. I will confine myself, therefore, to drawing from the
brief historical account I have just given, the conclusion it admits
of. The facts studied by Janet and others are anterior to spiritism,
and cannot be legitimately designated by this name. I have already
indicated that this word expresses an _ensemble_ of metaphysical and
religious doctrines explaining psychical phenomena by the intervention
of spirits, and drawing their teachings from the revelations attributed
to these same spirits. It is terminologically incorrect to designate
these facts by a word which has a wider signification, since it
expresses an explanatory hypothesis of these same facts.

Custom has consecrated the word ‘psychical’ facts or phenomena: this
term is also imperfect, and it seems to me preferable to adopt the new
term _Metapsychical_ which Richet recommends.

Therefore, in the actual state of research, the scientific problem, it
seems to me, is not whether spiritism be true or false, but whether
metapsychical phenomena be real or imaginary.

As Richet and Ochorowicz have said, every medium may defraud, and the
analysis of fraud is one of the most complicated problems which the
study of psychical phenomena presents. It is also one of the most
interesting. The Cambridge[37] experiments with Eusapia Paladino put
clearly before us the question of fraud and its signification.

      [37] See Appendix B.

Before entering upon the psychological examination of fraud, it appears
to me necessary to explain the signification of the terms I am going to
use, and after that to classify medianic phenomena.

It is of primary importance to determine the correct signification
of the expression _consciousness_.[38] There are few words in
philosophical language which have such diverse acceptations. As my
conception of consciousness is somewhat special without at the same
time being peculiar to me, I owe it to my readers to say what I mean to
designate by this term.

      [38] The French have but one word to express what is meant in
      English by the word _Conscience_ (_i.e._ the principle which
      decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our actions or
      desires), and the word _Consciousness_ (_i.e._ the being aware,
      the knowing of one’s own thoughts). Nevertheless we consider
      this chapter could ill spare this masterly synthesis.—_Note of

I conceive consciousness, _lato sensu_, as a function of living matter.
It is the particular state which determines in organised and living
matter another state of the centre where this matter lives. It is,
if you like, a kind of reaction of the living matter in harmony with
external phenomena. This mode of reaction, like every other mode of
reaction, allows of two conditions: some sort of sensibility to the
action of the ambient, permitting variations thereof to be felt; some
sort of activity which permits of realising an adaptation to the
ambient, and of producing internal modifications corresponding, in
some measure, to the perceived external modifications. In order that
the internal modifications may realise this equilibrium, they must not
go beyond a certain amplitude, whence the theoretic necessity for the
_sensibility_ to be always apprised of the internal modifications of
the living substance, as it perceives the external modifications of the

Experience proves that in reality things do happen in this way.
In fact, we are able in the animal kingdom to prove the existence
of special organs, some of them destined to the perception of the
successive states of the ambient and of the individual, the others to
the active realisation of the latter to the former. The different
modifications provoked in the _receptive_ system by the variations of
the ambient, determine in their turn the intervention of the _active_
system which realises the internal variations. This is the principle of
the nervous and muscular systems, the latter being only put into play
by the former; natural history shows us the progressive specialisation
of these nervous and muscular elements. At first non-differentiated
in appearance, the animal cell presents in more complicated animals a
sensitive pole and an active pole, the one nervous, the other muscular.
The myo-epithelial or neuro-muscular cells offer us a classical example
in the hydra.

The examination of the development of the nervous system and of
the muscular system in the vertebrata shows us their growing
specialisation. The nervous cells are associated in systems more
or less dependent the one upon the other; the muscular cells are
accumulated into masses. This is the application of that law of the
division of labour, the constant operation of which we observe in all
the phenomena of life. The nervous cells are grouped together in a
heap, in a nucleus, and send their prolongations to the periphery or
to the organs. These prolongations are of two kinds: some transmit
impressions towards the cell (dendrites prolongations), others transmit
excitations proceeding from the cell (cylindraxes prolongations).[39]
The centres themselves are hierarchised, so to speak, and are divided
into two wide categories: the first destined to the functions of
organic life, circulation, secretions, digestion, etc.; the second
to those of the life of relation. These two categories include the
sensitive cells and the motor cells; the one transmits to the other
the stimulus born of excitations provoked by the internal or external

      [39] _Dendrites_, nerves conducting the influx towards the
      centre of the cell.

      _Cylindraxes_, nerves conducting from the cell towards the
      periphery or towards another cell.

In superior animals, at any rate in man, we observe that the activity
of certain nervous centres is accompanied by a particular phenomenon,
which is designated under the name of _personal_ consciousness. It is
the notion we have that the phenomenon is perceived by us, that the
movement executed is executed by us.

Personal consciousness does not accompany all perceived phenomena, nor
all executed movements. Certain given conditions of diverse orders
appear necessary, for the consciousness to become aware of these
phenomena. This conscious consciousness is translated by the connection
of the impression or of the movement with a personality.

This personality looks to us as though it were continuous. It is around
it that our past impressions are grouped in the form of souvenirs. It
is that which continues the ‘self.’

The consciousness I have just described is what I call the _personal
consciousness_. The notion of personality which characterises it is not
invariable, and is not necessary.

It is not invariable, because the study of morbid psychology reveals
to us that different personalities can succeed one another in the same
individual, or even appear to be concomitant. This is notably the case
with secondary personalities in hysteria or in epilepsy.

It is not necessary, for diverse phenomena can be perceived and stored
up in the memory without the personal consciousness being conscious
thereof; in the same way, movements adapted to a certain purpose may
be executed without the personal consciousness being warned thereof:
such are notably the reflex and complicated movements, which custom has
rendered automatic.

The result of these facts is that the personal consciousness is
manifested as a limitation of the general consciousness, of what I
will simply call _the consciousness_. The study of the alterations of
memory notably—diverse amnesiæ, hypermnesiæ, paramnesiæ—shows us that
those souvenirs of which the general and impersonal consciousness has
the free disposition are incomparably more numerous than those at the
disposal of the personal consciousness. This is incontestable as far
as memory is concerned; is it so with intelligence? It is hard to say;
there are, however, numerous examples of problems solved and of work
accomplished without the knowledge of the personal consciousness.

Anatomy and physiology inform us, that personal consciousness is
manifested in phenomena, which appear to have their seat in certain
regions on the surface of the cerebral hemispheres. The cortical
region seems to be appropriated, at least in part, by psychological
phenomena, of which personality is the centre, active memory,
attention, judgment, abstraction, will. It is for this reason that
this region is called ‘the superior centres.’ Underneath this region
the cerebral sub-cortical ganglions, the bulbous and medullary nuclei,
the sympathetic ganglions, and the plexus constitute the inferior
centres which preside over certain functions foreign to the personal

However, it must not be thought that the activity of the cortical
centres is always perceived by the personal consciousness. That of
the motor centres, for example, may exist unknown to the personal
consciousness. I have already given the indication of certain
complicated movements which can be voluntary and personally conscious
in the beginning, and become, in the end, unconscious and yet
voluntary; _e.g._ the playing of a musical instrument. Likewise,
certain involuntary movements can sometimes be perceived by the
personal consciousness; _e.g._ the rapid movement we make in chasing
away a fly which is worrying us. If the centre motors of the arm which
drives away the fly be sub-cortical or medullary, it is none the less
true that the movements executed, even when they appear to be pure
reflex movements, can sometimes be perceived.

Movements executed without the participation of the personal
consciousness and will are called _automatic_. This expression
signifies for me, that the voluntary activity of the personality
remains foreign to the movement executed.

Therefore, in the motor sphere, that is to say in movements, we
may have different relations between the movement executed and the
personal consciousness. We have, first of all, conscious and voluntary
movements; then involuntary or impulsive movements, perceived or
unperceived by the personal consciousness.

These diverse movements are normal: that is to say, they are executed
according to the recognised rules of muscular activity; they do not go
beyond the peripheral limit of the body; the nervous influx is diffused
along the nerves in the ordinary manner.

If the nervous influx, or more correctly speaking, the mode of
energy which constitutes it, goes beyond the material limits of
the body, we have phenomena designated by de Rochas under the name
of _extériorisation de la motricité_. These are again automatic
phenomena for me, since the personal consciousness and the will do not
participate in them. But they present a feature which distinguishes
them from normal automatisms: they are _exosomatic_, if I may use that
expression, while the others are _endosomatic_. These two expressions
signify for me, the one exosomatic, that the movements are produced
beyond the limits of the body; the other endosomatic, that they are
produced within the limits of the body, that is to say by muscular
activity acting physiologically. The first, which are apparently
contrary to the ordinary data of experience, are paranormal phenomena,
that is to say, outside the usual rule; the second, on the contrary,
are normal. Parakinesis is a paranormal movement with contact;
telekinesis is a paranormal movement without contact.

Sensibility presents the same categories of facts. Properly speaking
there is no veritable automatism in phenomena of sensitivity; but
we can nevertheless distinguish therein, first, normal sensitive
phenomena—that is to say, phenomena produced under physiological
conditions, more or less well-known, but frequent, such as
hallucinations, hypermnesiæ; and second, paranormal phenomena, that is
to say, phenomena which imply the existence of modes of perception to
which the normal personality is foreign—clairvoyance, clairaudience,
tele-æsthesia, telepathy (Myers, Gurney, Podmore), exteriorisation of
motor power (de Rochas).

I have already indicated that these perceptions appear to depend upon
the _impersonal_ consciousness, and that the impressions thus perceived
are transmitted to the personal consciousness in a given form analogous
to that of dream perceptions—that is to say, in a dramatic form,
with a concrete and symbolical setting. The impersonal consciousness
seems, therefore, to be affected in a vague, general manner: the
perceptions only assume an appearance of precision in those strata of
the consciousness, where the notion of personality is determined. Hence
the following conclusions, which I only give as probabilities: (1) that
the notion of personality is susceptible of diverse degrees; (2) that
the impressions perceived by the general consciousness are agreeable or
disagreeable—that is to say, only impart to the personal consciousness
a very vague message, moral comfort or indefinable discomfort; that,
in rarer cases, the transmitted message is more precise, and takes the
form of a detailed hallucination; (3) that, if telepathy exists, the
general consciousness is capable of being affected by channels other
than those of the ordinary senses, which have only a value in ratio to
the personal consciousness of which they are, perhaps, the condition.

This last consideration brings us back to the definition which I gave
a little while ago of consciousness, which is, for me, the common
property of all living matter: its sensuality is limited and specified
by the _senses_, is limited and specified by the personality and the

I beg the reader to excuse me for having entered into these
explanations. I wished, as I said before, to state as clearly as
possible the meanings I attach to the terms I use; I have still another
task to accomplish somewhat similar to the last: which is to classify
medianic phenomena before studying their relations with fraud. In the
first place I divide them into two wide categories, each capable of
penetrating into the other, for, with the exception of luminosities,
physical phenomena are rarely devoid of all meaning, and intellectual
phenomena have always some fact of a physical nature as substratum.
Therefore, these two categories are two _different aspects_ of the same
phenomena rather than two distinct categories.

If we consider the purely physical side, we have the following
approximate series:—


_Sonorous._—Raps; diverse noises.

_Motor._—Normal; paranormal; parakinesis; telekinesis.

_Luminous._—Amorphous; definite forms; psychic (?) photography.

If we consider the form of communications, in appearance intelligent,
by adhering to the mode of expression of the _intellectual_ sense of
the phenomena, we have the following classification:—


_Muscular._—Typtology; grammatology; automatic script; automatic

_Sensorial._—Visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, olfactory phenomena.

_Vaso-Motor._—Secretory phenomena; vascular phenomena; perspirations,


(_Exteriorisations_): _Motor._—Telekinesis; psychography (direct
writing); psychophony (direct voice).

—— _Sensitive-Sensorial._—Telepathy; telæsthesia.

—— _Plastic._—Materialisations; apports, etc.

On the other hand, if we examine fraud in a general manner, we
will notice the following correspondences: the words conscious and
unconscious are taken in the sense of the personal consciousness:—

  _Motricity: normal._    1. Conscious and         Conscious voluntary
                               voluntary             fraud. Simulation;
                               movements.            responsibility.

     ——         ——        2. Conscious but         Conscious impulsive
                               involuntary           fraud. Simulation;
                               movements.            irresponsibility.

     ——         ——        3. Unconscious and       Impulsive and
                               involuntary           unconscious fraud;
                               movements.            irresponsibility.

     ——    _paranormal._  4. Exteriorisation of    No fraud.
                               motricity and

  _Sensibility: normal._  5. Voluntary             Voluntary and
                               falsehood.            conscious fraud.

  _Sensibility: normal._  6. Illusions;            No fraud; no real
                               hallucinations;       phenomenon.

     ——    _paranormal._  7. Exteriorisation of    No fraud; real
                               the sensibility;      phenomena.

As for true exosomatic automatism, there can be no question of fraud
as far as it is concerned. This classification, which I only give as
an experiment, appears to me more complete than that of Ochorowicz’s
(_Annales de Sciences Psychiques_, vi. 97). The latter distinguishes—

  (_a_) Conscious fraud.
  (_b_) Unconscious fraud:
        in the waking state      }  Medianity of an
        in the trance state      }   inferior order.
  (_c_) Partial, automatic fraud }  Medianity of a
  (_d_) The pure phenomenon      }   superior order.

If we compare Ochorowicz’s table with mine we will notice that his
conscious fraud corresponds to Nos. 1 and 5 of my classification.

His unconscious fraud to No. 3.

I divide his partial, automatic fraud into the classes 2, 3, and 6.

The pure phenomenon into the classes 4 and 7.

His superior medianity includes all exosomatic automatisms (Nos. 4 and
7); his inferior medianity, the classes 3 and 6.

These general indications given, it is easy to see that I divide
fraud into three categories, which are, moreover, susceptible of
co-existing and of forming mixed types: this is the ordinary case. We
have, first of all, the guilty, voluntary and conscious fraud; then
the impulsive, but conscious, frequent fraud; then the unconscious and
involuntary fraud, veritable normal automatism: the author cannot be
held responsible for this last order of fraud, which is, moreover, very
frequent with many excellent mediums.

If we study the psychological mechanism of fraud, we will find variable
and diverse causes.


The most usual cause is self-interest. This is the case with
charlatans, who speculate upon the credulity of the public. We must
not think this is the only motive; each impostor obeys motives which
are peculiar to himself. The medical student, who gave me such curious
examples of fraud, was not actuated by motives of self-interest. I
think it was simply for the pleasure of cheating, of taking me in, for
I had often spoken to him about my suspicions. He often cheated simply
as a prank; this is what happened in a seance given by a spiritistic
group to convince some new converts, when my student, it appears, gave
them manifestations somewhat out of the common!

However, conscious and voluntary fraud raise no real psychological


On the contrary, the problem originates in this order of fraud. It
often happens in circles, though composed of honourable persons, that
some of the sitters, who would be incapable of voluntarily committing a
fraud, do not dare to accuse themselves of an involuntary movement made
by them, and of which they are conscious. This can only be applied to
fairly rapid movements, such as those which imitate raps or parakinetic
movements. In serious seances, the sitters should give themselves the
habit of openly acknowledging every involuntary movement; it will be
noticed that certain persons are very prone to these movements. They
often end by being ashamed of accusing themselves so often, and thus
fraud from timidity: I have met with this, especially among women. It
is one of the reasons which make me condemn all experiments for the
production of movements with contact.

Timidity is the usual cause of this kind of fraud: the psychological
problem raised is simple.


Here the problem becomes complicated. I will not distinguish, as
Ochorowicz does, fraud committed in the waking state from fraud
committed in the trance or second state. The psychological mechanism
is the same in both cases, and appears to me to depend upon
self-suggestion, or what has been called _monoïdeism_, that is to say,
the mind is invaded by one idea, which ends by stifling all others, and
by realising itself: it is, in reality, a phenomenon analogous to that
determined by suggestion.

It is in unconscious or involuntary frauds, that the psychological
disaggregation of the medium which Janet has studied, is best observed.
These frauds present phenomena which are without interest from a
medianic point of view.

What is the mechanism of unconscious and involuntary frauds? It appears
to me to be the following: the subjects—they may have been good
mediums in their day—who commit this kind of fraud sit down to the
table, or give a seance in view of obtaining supernormal phenomena.
But the production of these phenomena is often difficult, sometimes
impossible. Immobility, expectation, and obscurity act powerfully upon
the nervous system of these mediums, and particularly so when they are
hysterical. They determine the trance; the desire for the phenomenon
becomes a fixed idea, and then a self-suggestion. If the supernormal
phenomenon delays, the inferior strata of the consciousness—_whose
morality often differs greatly from that of the active personal
consciousness_—realises it normally.

In the same way, even if the sensitive does not fall into the trance
state, there is, nevertheless, a particular state manifested which is
not sleep, neither is it the full, genuine waking-state. The active
and voluntary personal element of the consciousness, as well as the
judgment, becomes weakened. The sphere of the personality is reduced,
and personal activity gives place to automatism. Every degree between
conscious and involuntary fraud and pure automatism is to be met with.

Therefore, it is prudent to take measures to guard against fraud with
all subjects who become entranced, or with those who become somnolent
in obscurity, silence, immobility, and expectation; but we should be
frank with our sensitives: let us not offer, in ourselves, an example
of dissimulation to the medium; neither must we let him have the
impression of not being controlled: this would be to expose him to a
temptation, all the greater in that his personal power of volition is

Add to this, that we do not in the least know what influence the mental
state of the experimenters has upon the medium, although some kind
of influence appears to me to exist. We do not know to what extent
an ill-founded certitude of fraud can be responsible for its birth.
Ochorowicz says on this subject:—

‘After having recognised that the medium is only a mirror, who reflects
and directs the ideas and nervous forces of the assistants towards an
ideoplastic end, we will not be surprised to see that _suggestion_
plays an important rôle therein. There is no doubt but that the
assistants can suggest the desired act to the medium; neither is it
doubtful that the manifestations bear the stamp of surrounding beliefs.
In a society of materialists I have seen “John” (with Eusapia Paladino)
become dissolved into an impersonal force, which the medium simply
called “questa forza,” while in intimate spiritistic circles it took
the form of deceased persons, more or less clumsily. In the same way,
with controllers imbued with the idea of fraud as Messrs. Hodgson and
Maskelyne were, the medium will remain under the empire of a suggestion
of fraud.’

Without completely sharing Ochorowicz’s conviction, I have reasons for
thinking that his theory comes very close to the truth. I have myself
indicated how _suggestible_ the personification is.

There is something else. In cases where force is lacking, or is feeble,
it is easier for the medium to obtain the phenomenon normally—that
is to say, by fraud—rather than by veritable exteriorisation. I have
remarked, that often the paranormal movement has to be normally
simulated before it is supernormally realised. This is frequently the
case with Eusapia. We can conceive how the movement of simulation can
end in fraud, when the medium is in a hemisomnambulistic state.

In short, the energy which sets an object in movement appears to me
to be of nervous origin, and I believe it to be of the same nature
as that which provokes muscular contractions. Therefore, this is what
follows: the force only becomes exteriorised if accumulated and wrought
up to a sufficient tension. In proportion as its tension increases,
so it tends to expend itself in the form of impulsive movements;
the medium must resist this tendency to be able to obtain the pure
phenomenon. Therefore experimenters ought to keep the medium in this
resistance, and not allow him facility for expending the energy which
tends to realise itself in muscular movements.

Such are the conclusions to which the observations I have made with
several mediums have led me. Unconscious and involuntary fraud is
frequent, and in order to avoid it, the conditions likely to favour it
should be carefully put aside, especially in the beginning of a series
of experiments, and when experimenting with an undeveloped medium.
Medianity is powerfully influenced by acquired habits.

There exists, finally, another kind of unconscious and involuntary
fraud: that which is due to illusion. It is constantly found in
spiritistic seances, where ninety-nine times out of a hundred mediums
produce no real phenomena. They are, nevertheless, in earnest, but they
do not take into consideration the rôle of memory and imagination. This
is particularly the case with _intuitive_ writing mediums and ‘control’
mediums. With this order of phenomenon we rarely obtain verifiable
indications; the ‘spirits’ utter plenty of commonplace generalities,
but give no precise information.

_Fraud_ is a misnomer in this case: being unconscious and involuntary,
it cannot, correctly speaking, be called fraud; therefore it is better
to reserve the word ‘illusion’ for it.

I cannot think of analysing the question of fraud in detail. If
examined closely it is extremely complicated. But, like Richet, I deem
‘it possible that in states bordering on trance, and in trance itself,
the psychology of a medium may be very different from ours.’ I confine
myself simply to indicating the result of my reflections, which are the
fruit of a long series of observations. Let me renew my oft-repeated
recommendation for avoiding fraud: Experiment with light, the greatest
possible amount of light, and seek for simple phenomena, difficult,
perhaps, to obtain, but easy to observe, such as raps and movements
without contact.


If I insist so much upon the necessity, especially in the beginning,
of seeking only for phenomena observation of which is easy, it is
because error of observation is facile. We need to be much accustomed
to seances to be able to distinguish rapidly between probable phenomena
and those which are certainly tricked. It is with this, as with
everything else, a question of time and reflection.

One of the causes of error, which it is highly important to avoid,
is obscurity. For many simple phenomena darkness is unnecessary;
therefore, from the very outset, we should exhort the personification
to accept light. I have already frequently said that personifications
are very suggestible. I know well it is not always so, and that at
times the personification displays much obstinacy. Personifications of
this class are especially observed with mediums who have long-acquired
habits. It was so with Eusapia, who was only accustomed to giving
dark seances. But even when the personification appears to have very
decided ideas, it is possible, with a little ingenuity, to induce him
to change. It is with them as with secondary personalities, or subjects
to whom we have given a suggestion. We must enter right into the circle
of suggested ideas in order to break it; it is a question of tact only.

With Eusapia we succeeded in operating in a good light by appealing to
‘John’s’ vanity. We explained to him that obscurity stood in the way
of the observation of the phenomena, that he was just as capable of
working in the light as the ‘guides’ of other mediums were. In this
way, we lead him to change his habits with us; the _meno luce_ to which
those who have experimented with this medium are accustomed, was still
demanded, but only when the seance was well advanced. At Bordeaux,
where there was a large bay-window in the seance-room, the reflection
thereon from the lights burning in the kitchen and winter-garden
enabled us to see a little. In that case, Eusapia or John did not
desire total obscurity, and we always had this feeble light, allowing a
visual control which was sometimes satisfactory.

When we are lucky enough to meet with an undeveloped medium, it is easy
to give him the habit of operating in full light. This has occasionally
happened to me.

I need not enlarge upon the influence of obscurity upon error. With
some very rare exceptions we can never be certain of the authenticity
of a phenomenon obtained in a dark seance.

Obscurity is, however, necessary for luminous phenomena. When once we
have observed decided luminous forms, or really characteristic lights,
it is easy to distinguish between them and illusion. A cool, calm
observer does not make a mistake; it is not quite the same with excited
experimenters. These latter give veritable suggestions to one another,
and they end by having curious collective hallucinations. This is one
of the most interesting facts of observation in spiritistic seances,
so rich in purely psychological curiosities. I have frequently heard
a sitter say that he saw a light in a given direction; the others
looked in their turn and also saw it. Then one declared he perceived a
form; soon others also saw a form. And from exclamation to exclamation
the description of the form is completed. This is the genesis of a
collective hallucination.

I need hardly say, that experimenters who are so suggestible are not
good elements: in purely scientific researches they should be reduced
to a minimum.

Personal experience has shown me, that of all the senses, that of sight
is the most liable to imaginary impressions; after sight, the sense
of touch is the most prompt to receive illusion. There are constant
examples of this in spiritistic seances; the _cool breeze_, which is
often really felt, is more often only imaginary. One person says he
feels it; others at once imagine they feel it also. Sometimes it is not
an error of imagination, but an error of attribution, the sensation of
a cool breeze being caused by the breath.

The sense of hearing has seemed to me to be refractory to suggestion
in seances, though it does not altogether escape. I know of very few
examples of imagined raps or noises.

On the contrary, the muscular sense is one of the most unfaithful.
Unless one has experimented oneself, it is impossible to imagine how
frequent unconscious and involuntary movements are. These movements are
of very feeble amplitude; they are slight, but they end by acquiring a
certain amount of force. It will then be noticed that the assistants
accuse each other reciprocally of pushing the table, and it is not rare
to see angry discussions arise on these occasions. This is a frequent
fact of observation. I have also very frequently noticed tactile
hallucinations with impressionable experimenters, who easily imagine
diverse contacts.

The sense of smell sometimes perceives imaginary odours, but it is
somewhat rare. I have not observed any hallucinations of taste.

Another cause of error which requires pointing out is fatigue on the
part of the experimenters. Every phenomenon which is produced after a
long period of waiting stands many chances of being badly observed. The
attention kept for a long time on the _qui vive_ becomes weary, gives
place to abstraction, and often the phenomena takes the experimenters
by surprise; hence they are unable to examine the conditions with
certitude. It is also bad to hold very long seances, fatigue quickly
setting in.

Such are the principal causes of positive errors; that is to say, of
errors tending to persuade one of the existence of an imaginary fact;
negative errors, that is to say, those which tend to make one look upon
a real fact as an imaginary one, are not less dangerous than positive

In the first place, _parti pris_ is to be pointed out. If we wish to
experiment with success, we must experiment without credulity, without
faith, even without confidence; but we must not be determined only to
meet with fraud.

We must not experiment naïvely. If, at the beginning of a seance, it
be useful to allow freedom in order to put the force _en train_, as
Ochorowicz wisely recommends, once the phenomena are established,
we must control them with the greatest care. But we should make our
intentions known to the medium and to the personification. This,
I think, is an indispensable precaution. The personification will
always consent to it; but this does not mean we will always obtain the
wished-for result. We must not allow the medium or the personification
to think we are their dupes if they fraud; we must tell them, gently
but clearly, that they are not giving anything good. Equivocation is to
be carefully avoided, all misunderstanding is to be shunned.

We must not, however, place the medium under such conditions that the
experiment cannot be realised. We do not understand these conditions,
and, perhaps, apparently simple phenomena may not be realisable. I
remember that at Choisy in 1896, a lady, a member of my family—she
has an insurmountable bias against psychical experiments, which she
declares _a priori_ are fraudulent—declared to Eusapia that she would
believe in her phenomena, if she could make a doll’s table move before
her eyes. Eusapia placed this small table on top of the seance-table,
but did not succeed in making it move. Why could not such an
apparently simple phenomenon be obtained?

We must, therefore, observe, but we must not wish to impose beforehand
the conditions which the phenomenon should fulfil in order to be

Many experimenters tie up the medium, put him into a sack, and seal
him therein. If he consents to this, well and good; if he refuses,
other means of control must be found. We must not indeed suppose that
the medium’s refusal is always due to a desire to fraud. The slightest
fetters may sometimes be very painful, especially when there be
cutaneous hyperæsthesia.

Before bringing a negative judgment to bear upon the phenomena, the
experimenters should always hold a certain number of seances, and
should not found their judgment upon one bad seance alone; by so doing
they would expose themselves to a wrong course of action.

It is especially in psychical experimentation that inexhaustible
patience is necessary.


And now my task is accomplished. I perceive that in the latter part
of my work, I have broached complex and difficult problems, and have
allowed myself to be drawn into—not theorising—but combating certain
theories which appear to me to be incorrect or insufficient; for which
I beg my reader’s pardon. In conclusion, I wish to repeat that I am
convinced of having, in a sure, positive manner, observed raps and
movements without contact. I have seen many other phenomena; but I will
not venture to be so affirmative concerning them, at present.

I make no pretension of demonstrating the reality of the facts I have
observed. In publishing my conclusions, I have had but one object in
view, that of bringing my testimony to those, who, long before me,
attested to the facts which I in my turn affirm. Does that mean that
I have not been mistaken? most assuredly, no! And it is very possible
that my observations may have been imperfect. I am, nevertheless,
so convinced of their exactness, that I can only advise those who
may impugn the accuracy of my statements, to experiment as I have
done, with the same method, and the same patience. I have had many
occasions to pronounce these words in the course of my work, and now in
terminating it, I pronounce them once again with stronger emphasis than

I doubt, though, whether my voice will be heeded, where others, more
influential than mine, have remained unheard. However, I do not
regret having expressed my opinion about these facts. I am persuaded,
that some day, _perhaps very soon_, they will come under scientific
discipline, and this, in spite of all the obstacles which obstinacy and
fear of ridicule accumulate in the way.

One of these obstacles, and it is not the least, is due to the fashion
in which many savants estimate mediums. Their judgment is summed up in
such expressions as hysteric, cheat, physically or morally tainted,
degenerates. Such a judgment is iniquitous, absurd and false in its
generality, and baneful in its consequences. It is founded upon a
deplorable error, for I know mediums who possess faculties superior
to the average, and who present absolutely no stigma of degeneracy. I
have said, and I cannot repeat it too often, my finest phenomena were
obtained with subjects who were sound and healthy in mind and body. It
is with hysterical subjects that we observe fraud, side by side with
gleams of true phenomena; but with a medium who has no nervous taint,
whose well-balanced intelligence knows how to offer resistance to
self-suggestion, and _l’idée fixe_, we have real phenomena or none at

The opinion of savants, who, ill acquainted with the facts, inform
us that mediums are hysterics and victims of nervous disorders, is
therefore erroneous; unfortunately the consequences of such an opinion
are lamentable. I know many remarkable subjects who absolutely refuse
to experiment outside a tested and restricted group, because they fear
to be regarded as neurotics; they are afraid of being stigmatised
as insane, they are afraid of compromising their commercial position
or their professional interests. I will never succeed in convincing
them that they are above the average; doubtless I will succeed still
less in inducing others to believe it: though in many respects it be
true. If the relative perfection of their nervous system renders these
persons more sensitive than the average, it would be wrong to conclude
thereupon, that they were degenerate specimens of humanity. This
argument is lacking in common-sense; we might just as reasonably insist
that Europeans are in degeneration, because they are more emotional
and more sensitive to pain than certain savage tribes. How ignorant,
tactless, and incautious we are! The attitude of certain learned
centres—it is with intention that I do not say the most cultured—is,
to me, similar to that of ecclesiastical authorities in the middle
ages. The novelty of a thing frightens them. They treat independent
scientific thought as the inquisitors treated free thought in days
gone by. Like their prototypes of other times, they have the same
intolerance, the same hate for schism and heresy. Their accumulated
errors ought to make them cautious: but, no! If they no longer make a
pariah of the arch-heretic or schismatic, if they no longer deliver
him up to the executioner, they treat him with the same relative
vigour. They excommunicate him, in their fashion, and cast him out
of sane healthy humanity as a degenerate, a mystic, an _exalté_. The
future will have the same opinion of them as we have, to-day, of their
predecessors. Their attitude prevents the most cultured, the most
capable mediums from allowing their psychic faculties to become known.
If these mediums spoke of visions, a douche would be recommended! If
they caused a table to move without contact, the words hysteria and
fraud would be heard. Is it surprising they should hide their gifts?

We ought to consider mediums as precious beings, as forerunners of the
future type of our race. Why should we only see degeneracy around us?
Why should we not see superior beings ahead of us, beacons, as it were,
on the route we have to follow? Does not simple common-sense suggest
that humanity has not yet arrived at perfection—that it is evolving
to-day just as it has always been doing? All men have not attained the
same degree of evolution. As there are types representing the average
state of former days, so there are advanced types representing to-day
the average state of the future. The progress of the race seems to
make for perfection along the lines of the nervous system, in the
acquisition of more delicate senses, of greater nervous sensibility,
and of vaster means of information. If the discovery of implements, new
instruments of investigation, such as the telescope and microscope,
for example, aid in the progress of the race, they are of no use for
the evolution of the individual himself. Now, veritable progress is
individual; it is the improvement of the individual which assures
the evolution of the race, and this progress should be determined by
heredity. Do what we will, we shall never be born with a microscope
at the eyes, and a telephone at the ears. Progress of this kind is
not transmissible; only physiological acquisitions are transmissible.
The sensibility of the nervous system of mediums is a progress on
our relative obtuseness; it is not the same thing with the bad sight
of him who makes an improper use of the microscope. If Virchow were
still alive, there would be many disagreeable things to be said to him,
concerning the inaptitude of the ordinary type of savant to personify
the desirable progress of the race towards health, force, sensibility,
and the perfect form.

The intolerance of certain savants is equalled by that of certain
dogmas. To take an example, Catholicism considers psychical phenomena
as the work of the devil! Is it worth while at this hour to discuss
so obsolete a theory? I think not. However, superior ecclesiastical
authorities, with the tact and sentiment of opportunism which they
often show, permit many Catholics to undertake the experimental study
of psychical facts. I cannot blame them for recommending prudent
abstention to the mass of the faithful; spiritism appears to me to
be an adversary with which they will have to reckon very seriously
some day. The simplicity of its doctrines ensures it the _clientèle_
of simple souls enamoured of justice, that is to say, of the immense
majority of mankind.

But this question is foreign to psychical facts themselves. As far as
my experience permits me to judge of them, these phenomena contain
nothing but what is natural. The devil does not show his hoof here,
timorous souls may feel reassured; if the tables claim to be Satan
himself, they need not be believed; summoned to prove his power, this
grandiloquent Satan will be a sorry thaumaturgist. Religious prejudice,
which proscribes these experiments as being supernatural, is just as
little justified as scientific prejudice, which sees therein nothing
but fraud and imposture. Here, again, the old adage of Aristotle finds
its application: Justice lies midway.

May my book determine a few experimenters of goodwill to try to
observe in their turn. May it help to dispel from the mind of gifted
mediums their fears of being ranked with insane and disordered
intelligences, or looked upon as being in partnership with the devil.
May it especially contribute to make metapsychic phenomena come to
be considered as natural facts, worthy of being usefully observed,
and capable of enabling us to penetrate more deeply than any other
phenomena into a real knowledge of the laws which govern Nature.


_An Appreciation on Certain Documents published on the subject of

The question of fraud is so important that I feel I should not only
give the results of my own observations, but also my appreciation of
some of the principal documents published on the subject.

With the exception of Richet and a few others, representatives of
science in France are very ill informed on this question, as I have
endeavoured to show. They overlook the immense work which has been done
in the United States and in England; consequently it is very difficult
to discuss the question with these savants, they are either ignorant or
feign to be ignorant of what others have done. I have shown that their
experiments are defective and their methods open to criticism.

If all serious discussion be impossible with certain savants, it
is not so with those who have taken the trouble to verify psychic
phenomena for themselves. This is the case with the principal members
of the Society for Psychical Research, Crookes, Lodge, Barrett, Myers,
Sidgwick, Gurney, Podmore, Hodgson, Hyslop, and others. The first three
are persuaded of the reality of the facts observed by them. The others
have a tendency to attribute to fraud all _physical_ phenomena; they
admit, on the other hand, _intellectual_ phenomena, and explain them
either by telepathy as Mr. Podmore does, or by the intervention of
spirits as spiritists themselves do, though they were at one time the
latter’s adversaries; this is notably the case with Myers, Hodgson,
and Hyslop. The great respect I have for the remarkable men who direct
the Society for Psychical Research, obliges me to examine their
experiments very carefully, for their judgment has a great value in
my eyes; at the same time, I have too much regard for the research of
truth to conceal from them the errors of experimentation, which they
appear to me to have committed.

In the fourth volume of the _Proceedings_ will be found a series
of papers by Mrs. Sidgwick, Messrs. Lewis, Hodgson, and Davey upon
fraud. The last-named deal particularly with the production of direct
slate-writing. This phenomenon is very easy to simulate; it suffices to
read the papers mentioned, especially Davey’s document, to understand
under what suspicious conditions the phenomenon was produced.

A long time ago I myself artificially produced this kind of
manifestation by fixing a pencil into a hole in the table, and
thereupon moving the slate about. With practice a certain amount
of facility can be acquired; you can write fairly well and give
regularity to apparently spasmodic and involuntary movements; but only
inexperienced or credulous people are taken in by this trick; and
though they may be more complicated, Mr. Davey’s methods are not by any
means more difficult to expose.

I wonder how a man of Dr. Hodgson’s intelligence could have based
his judgment upon such superficial observations as those of the
experimenters he cites. Here are men, without doubt honourable and
well educated, who hold seances with the object of obtaining direct
slate-writing through Mr. Davey. Instead of taking the elementary
precaution of never abandoning their slates, they allow the medium to
manipulate them, permit him to leave the seance-room for a moment,
consent to allow other slates than their own to remain on the table
at the same time as those which are used for the experiment, and
lastly when they examine, only examine it on one side. This is not
mal-observation, it is absence of observation. (See R. Hodgson, ‘Mr.
Davey’s Imitations by Conjuring of Phenomena sometimes attributed to
Spirit Agency,’ _Proceedings_, vi. 253.)

Mr. Davey has also produced raps and materialisations fraudulently.
It is necessary to read, in Dr. Hodgson’s paper, the conditions
under which he operated to see what ill-placed confidence his
co-experimenters had in him (Davey). They do not verify, although
they are invited to do so, the contents of a trunk precisely where
the material essential to fraud was concealed; they allow Mr. Davey
to close the door of the room: he gives two turns of the key, the one
locking, the other unlocking the door, which is carelessly sealed with
gummed paper; no one thinks of verifying if the door is well closed.
The most elementary precautions are neglected by the assistants who,
one would really think, had been chosen by Mr. Davey for their very
credulity. Frauds as easy to prevent as those from which Dr. Hodgson
draws his argument, cannot be considered as being able to take in a
prudent, shrewd observer, accustomed to experimentation, and knowing
how to preserve a little _sang-froid_. Was it not enough that the
medium should have asked one of the observers: ‘What do you want the
spirit to write on the slate? In what colour do you want the writing
to appear?’ for these very questions alone to suggest imposture? Dr.
Hodgson’s argumentation is inoperative, and the faults, accumulated
by the deceived observers whose impressions he cites, are excessive.
One would think he had had to do with very convinced spiritists,
inclined to admit _a priori_ the reality of the forthcoming phenomena
without troubling themselves about the precise conditions of their
observations; this is what the perusal of the reports of these seances
makes one think, for I read textually (p. 296): ‘It may be interesting
to compare the reports given by spiritualists of a sitting with Mr.
Davey with his account of what really occurred.’ Can one draw an
argument from these accounts of spiritists? Some spiritists, convinced
of the reality of the facts, appear to care very little indeed about
any sort of control. To reason from their methods of observation, to
generalise this reasoning and to extend it to all observers, is rather
too easy a form of discussion.

There are certain phenomena which lend themselves badly to observation:
this is particularly the case with those which require obscurity and
arrangements of a nature likely to hinder or interfere with the best
control which can be exercised, that of the eyesight. In my opinion
the phenomenon has no demonstrative value whenever it occurs out of
sight, as is the case with slate-writing, when the slate is held under
the table. Neither has it any great signification when it requires
sustained observation in order to control it. Errors are easy, for
abstraction almost inevitably follows, if it does not accompany,
sustained attention. Hodgson, in ‘The Possibilities of Mal-Observation
and Lapse of Memory from a Practical Point of View’ (_Proceedings_,
iv. 381) gives examples of this, but his paper only points out facts
well known to those who are familiar with human testimony. In order
to observe with a minimum chance of error, the phenomenon we intend
to study should be simple, and repeated often enough to prevent the
attention from becoming weary from waiting. From this point of view,
the production of raps and telekinetic movements with the aid of
the experimental manœuvres I have described, permit, by specifying
the moment when the phenomenon is going to occur, of bringing the
whole attention to bear upon the examination of the conditions under
which the phenomenon is obtained. Raps and movements without contact
appear to me to lend themselves admirably to observation; with these
phenomena, by operating as I have indicated, experimentation is almost
possible; but a veritable medium must be sought for in the first

Now this is what my colleagues of the Society for Psychical Research
did, but they did so under conditions which were far from satisfactory.
Mrs. Sidgwick, a woman of brilliant intellect, has given an account
of the attempts made by herself, her husband, and friends to obtain
psychical phenomena. They went to Eglinton and Slade for slate-writing,
to the Misses Wood and Fairlamb and a Mr. Haxby for materialisations.
The first two gave phenomena which were suspicious, not to say worse;
as for Haxby, he frauded shamefacedly. Mrs. Sidgwick’s account is
demonstrative on this point, and it is enough to read it to be
convinced that no shrewd observer could be taken in.

The first mistake, committed by the distinguished members of the
Sidgwick group, was to suppose that psychical phenomena can be obtained
at will. Whenever a paid medium gives regular seances, there are a
hundred chances to one of downright fraud. If there be a positive
feature in these supernormal facts, that feature in my opinion is their
apparent irregularity. I have been able to experiment with intelligent,
well-educated mediums anxious for a thorough investigation of their
powers: I have made very many experiments with them, and I have
observed that often whole weeks passed away without a good seance; at
other times, the force was so abundant that phenomena were forthcoming
without seance. I have related some curious facts in this respect,
_e.g._ the table moving spontaneously in the course of a conversation
bearing upon psychical phenomena (p. 106).

What are the conditions which impede or favour the production of this
unknown mode of energy? I cannot specify them; but I think I have
noticed concordances, which confirm in a measure the conclusions of
Ochorowicz (_Annales des Sciences Psychiques_, vi. 115):—

1. Action of temperature. Dry cold weather is the most favourable. Damp
or close weather is most unfavourable.

2. Health of the medium and sitters. If the medium does not feel well,
things happen as though he exteriorised no force whatever. It is the
same thing with the sitters, but in a lesser degree; in the latter case
it suffices to eliminate the experimenter who feels ill.

3. Mental condition of the medium and sitters.[40] Ill-humour, anxiety,
sadness—especially a sadness without any specific cause, a kind of
mental discomfort—are prejudicial. Joy, gaiety are often favourable.

      [40] There are _apparent_ exceptions to this rule.

4. Nervous exhaustion. This condition is too often overlooked. I have
not unfrequently had occasion to conduct several series of experiments
at one and the same time. I generally noticed that the results were not
good. I have not been able to understand the cause of this want of
success; it is probably other than that of simple nervous exhaustion,
although this may have an action in prolonged series of seances.

Neither do seances held too frequently with the same medium give good
results; in this case, nervous exhaustion is certainly in play.

The English experimenters do not appear to have taken these diverse
elements into consideration; I am persuaded the results of their
investigations would have been different had they shunned ‘paid
mediums,’ and sought for fresh or undeveloped mediums, persons
uninfluenced by private considerations, intelligent and capable of
bringing a correct analysis of their subjective impressions into the
research. These mediums are rare, but they are to be found.

None of these conditions were fulfilled by the Sidgwick group. These
experimenters, acting with the best of intentions, took a wrong
course. Eglinton, Slade, Haxby, have perhaps been genuine mediums in
their time, but as soon as they made it a business to give regular
seances, they were at once prepared to give fraudulent phenomena with
regularity. At Newcastle, the group operated at one and the same time
with Miss Fairlamb and with Miss Wood. These two parallel series of
experiments could not help being prejudicial one to the other, even if
these two mediums had been honest, which does not appear to have been
the case, judging from Mrs. Sidgwick’s account.

I cannot think of discussing in detail all the experiments of the
Sidgwick group; but I will study their experiments with Eusapia
Paladino at Cambridge more carefully, for their judgment on this medium
appears to me unjustified. Every one knows under what conditions
Messrs. Myers, Hodgson, Sidgwick, etc., invited Eusapia to England, in
order to resume experiments previously made with her at Ribaud. These
experiments had obtained a favourable report from Dr. Lodge; Mr. Myers
and Mr. Sidgwick associated themselves with Dr. Lodge’s conclusions.
Dr. Hodgson—who is a doctor of law and not a doctor of medicine, as
some people suppose—criticised the experiments summarised by Dr.
Lodge. He was met with the reply that his criticisms contained nothing
new; that what he said had been already pointed out by Richet and
others, and that the experimenters were acquainted with every possible
system of fraud; that the substitution of one hand for another,
the substitution of an artificial foot for the medium’s foot, were
well-known systems of imposture, against which every precaution had
been taken. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the fact that the report
had been drawn up by such competent men as Richet, Ochorowicz, Lodge,
and Myers, it was criticised with an undeniable appearance of logic
and justice by Hodgson: the latter reproached them for insufficiently
describing the manner in which the diverse controls were ensured, for
omitting to dwell upon the precautions which were taken, and for the
lack of a minute description of all the movements of the medium. In his
article (_Journal_, vii. 49) he expressly says:—

‘Professor Lodge makes the following declaration concerning the raising
of the table:—

‘“It appears to me impossible for any person to lift a table of this
size and weight while standing up to it, with hands only on top,
without plenty of leg action, and considerable strength and pressure of
hands. It was quite beyond the possibility of Eusapia.”

‘Now let us suppose,’ continues Hodgson, ‘that Eusapia used a form of
support which, with some variation or other, I fancy is not altogether
unknown in the Italian race. Let us suppose that she had, next to her
body, a light strong band round her shoulders and across her chest,
with a pendant attached of a black band or cord, with a hook or other
catch at the end which could be tucked out of sight in her dress front
when not in use. (By the way, in a photograph which I have seen of
Eusapia at a sitting, when the table is supposed to be completely off
the floor, one of the buttons of the bosom of her dress seems to be

‘She fixed this catch—either stooping or bending her legs slightly
outward—to one of the sideboards of the table, or to some point in
the neighbourhood of the junctures of, for example, sideboards and top
of table. She straightened herself out, stiffened her shoulders and
her body back, and pushed forward with her foot against the leg of the
table, close to which she was standing. The light touch of one of her
hands may have helped to steady the table, the edge of which may also
have been in contact with her body. Was this hypothesis or any kindred
hypothesis tested by Professor Lodge?’ etc.

This long quotation shows how Hodgson reasons. Conscientious savants
omitted to indicate, explicitly, in their report, that every hypothesis
of fraud had been studied and put to one side; they omitted to analyse
each hypothesis, because their implicit affirmation of the reality
of the fact appeared sufficient to them, and a detailed examination
of each hypothesis would have given exaggerated dimensions to their
report. No matter. Analysts like Dr. Hodgson will not spare them,
and will not hesitate to indicate hypotheses, even those the least
compatible with the conditions of observation.

However, the Cambridge experiments were decided upon, and although
Hodgson had taken a decided stand in the matter, he was invited to
assist. These experiments gave bad results, and Sidgwick was able to
say, in spite of the contrary observations of other experimenters, who
were his colleagues in the Society for Psychical Research (_Journal
S. P. R._, vii. 230): ‘It will be seen that at our last meeting a
question was asked with regard to “phenomena” obtained by Eusapia
Paladino subsequent to the exposure of her frauds at Cambridge. It may
be well that I should briefly state why I do not intend to give any
account of these phenomena.

‘It has not been the practice of the Society for Psychical Research
to direct attention to the performances of any so-called “medium” who
has been proved guilty of systematic fraud. Now, the investigation at
Cambridge, of which the results are given in the _Journal_ for November
1895, taken in connection with an article by Professor Richet in the
_Annales des Sciences Psychiques_, for January-February 1893, placed
beyond reasonable doubt the facts that the frauds discovered (_sic_) by
Dr. Hodgson at Cambridge, had been systematically practised by Eusapia
Paladino for years. In accordance, therefore, with our established
custom, I propose to ignore her performances for the future, as I
ignore those of other persons engaged in the same mischievous trade.’

Such a judgment made a considerable and lamentable stir: if it were
exact, it was just to pronounce it; if it were not thoroughly exact,
Sidgwick should have suspended his verdict. This is what Myers
advised—this is what Lodge and Richet advised. But the experimenters
who followed Hodgson’s impulse did not do this. They made a mistake,
and subsequent events have proved they were wrong.

I have said that their judgment was not quite accurate. Professor
Sidgwick said, addressing a general meeting of the Society for
Psychical Research on the 11th October 1895 (_Journal S. P. R._, vii.

‘I consider it to be proved beyond a doubt that the medium used
systematic trickery throughout this series of sittings. Her _modus
operandi_ I will leave to Dr. Hodgson to describe, who—though only
present during a part of the sittings—has had better opportunities
for personally observing the actual process of fraud. When this
trickery was discovered, the greater part of the phenomena offered as
supernormal at these sittings were at once explained; and, this being
so, I think it, in the circumstances, unreasonable to attribute—even
hypothetically—to supernormal agency the residuum that was not so
easily explicable. And considering the great general resemblance
between the performances of the medium at these sittings and those
I witnessed last year, I am now disposed to think that my earlier
experiences are to be similarly explained; I therefore wish to withdraw
altogether the limited and guarded support which I gave last year to
the supernormal pretensions of Eusapia Paladino.’

So Sidgwick declares that his former experiments were null and void, as
everything could be explained by trickery!

Hodgson, at that same general meeting, explained the means used by
Eusapia, the surreptitious freeing of foot and hand, and some simple
apparatus such as a handkerchief and a small object, such as a coin
or a piece of paper, covered with some phosphorescent preparation.
Hodgson—and Myers reminded him of this—forgot to say that he had
invented nothing, and that these trick devices had been discovered and
previously pointed out by others, notably by Richet, who has often
experimented with Eusapia Paladino. Sidgwick remarks that a portion of
the phenomena are not easily explicable by fraud. It would have been
interesting to know which. I suspect that certain levitations were
among the number of these phenomena. But the notes published in the
_Journal S. P. R._, vii. 148, only mention _attouchements_, and it is
advisable to limit the discussion to this fact, though it appears to me
the least demonstrative.

Let us take the seance of the 1st September. We read p. 153:
‘7.25.—R. H. says, phenomenon preparing. _Enormous hand shaking
Mrs. M.’s head, hand clearly felt._ H. S., hand well held, but not
completely. R. H. has hand completely held, gap and then grasp again.
Hand holds H. S. well. Right hand, thumb and finger clutch R. H.
(On nearly all occasions after the first few hand-touch phenomena,
I informed the sitters of a coming phenomenon in some such words
as that a phenomenon was preparing, before the phenomenon actually
occurred, and usually immediately prior to its occurrence. I made this
announcement as a rule when I felt the right hand leaving mine, but
sometimes when I felt it preparing to leave. After the phenomenon was
over, and the hand returned, I described usually what I felt at the
moment of my description, so that E. might not become aware, through
some partial appreciation of my English, that I knew that her hand was
away from mine during the production of the phenomenon. In some cases,
when it was necessary, I added a few words about the state of holding
during the phenomenon.)’

I confess that I do not understand. Hodgson has shown himself so severe
for others, that he will not be annoyed with me for exacting the same
precision from him that he requires of others. Now, in the passage
quoted, we read: first, that Mrs. Myers is touched by an enormous hand,
a hand which is ‘clearly felt.’ Either it is Eusapia’s hand, released
by Hodgson, in which case it ought to be _small_, for Eusapia’s hand
is small, or Mrs. Myers did not ‘clearly feel’ the hand which shook
her. If Mrs. Myers has correctly described her impression, then Hodgson
makes a mistake in seeming to indicate that it is Eusapia’s hand which
touched Mrs. M.; if not, then Mrs. M. has made a mistake. At any rate,
there is a contradiction here between the two observers.

Sidgwick acknowledges that Eusapia’s tricks do not explain everything,
yet he allows Hodgson to expatiate complacently upon fraudulent
_attouchements_. The learned lawyer even mimicked Eusapia’s tricks
for freeing her hands and feet before members of the Society for
Psychical Research. But all this was already known by Continental
specialists. Hodgson had invented nothing; why did he confine himself
to partial criticisms? why did he not discuss each fact, and especially
those which appeared inexplicable? He is very severe with Eusapia;
why not treat her as he treats Mrs. Piper? He carefully discusses
the Neapolitan’s errors and attempts; but does he think that there
is no conscious or unconscious fraud with the American medium, and
that defunct Phinuit is alone responsible for the inaccuracies and
falsehoods observed in Mrs. Piper’s mediumship, whilst Eusapia’s fraud
is conscious and voluntary?

As far as his experiments with Eusapia Paladino are concerned, I
will reply to him that, in a great measure, he and his friends
were responsible for her frauds, and almost wholly responsible for
the failure of the experiments. They appear to have neglected the
psychological side of a medium’s rôle, and forgot that a medium is not
a mechanical instrument.

Eusapia was not at her ease, and, if my memory serves me right, she
found the Cambridge centre rather disdainful and haughty, save Mr. and
Mrs. Myers. She was dull and lonely. I think she was not admitted to
the same table. But I will not affirm this detail; it seems to me she
told me, she was usually served apart from the members of the household.

The seances were too numerous (there were twenty seances held in
less than seven weeks—a seance every other day) if we take into
consideration her not being very well, and consequently unfit for
anything for a few days. This was making sure of bad results,
especially as the seances sometimes lasted two and a half to three
hours. It was impossible for the medium to recruit her strength
physically or morally, especially in a country where the manners, life,
language, and even the cooking were so different from those at Naples.
She was not well when in England. Was she long ill? I cannot say; but I
can affirm that she did not go home satisfied.

It appears, however, that the first seances were pretty good; there
were some suspicious things, as is often the case with Eusapia.
Hodgson’s arrival changed everything: it was then that fraud was
discovered, but a long time after Richet and Toselli had pointed it out.

How did Hodgson go to work? He appears to have conceived the
singular idea not to control Eusapia at all, and to leave at her
free disposal the hand he was supposed to hold. Every time he ceased
to feel the contact of her hand, he announced a phenomenon; the
phenomenon produced, he related his impressions in _English_ to his
co-experimenters. These were two capital mistakes. The first passed
even unconscious fraud: for though severe control sometimes stops the
phenomena, at least it effectually prevents trickery. The second,
by arousing Eusapia’s jealous susceptibility, was bound to worry
and irritate her. These considerations may appear to be secondary
to persons, who are not acquainted with the difficulties which the
observation of psychical phenomena present; those who are familiar
with them will not gainsay me. However, if the Cambridge experimenters
had not gone any further than this, we might excuse them, and simply
consider they had blundered touching the necessary conditions; but they
went further. They invited to the seances Messrs. Maskelyne, father
and son. These men, the well-known directors of the Egyptian Hall
in London, have made it a speciality of producing by conjuring the
phenomena called ‘spiritistic.’

Mr. Maskelyne, senior, did not conceal his bias, to judge by his
letters in the _Daily Chronicle_ (29th Oct. 1895, and following days).
This conjurer explained certain levitations in a singular fashion.
A small table had been carried on to the seance-table. According to
Maskelyne, Eusapia had seized it with her teeth by bending backwards,
and by this feat of dental strength had herself carried and placed
the smaller table on the larger one! Mr. Maskelyne felt the movement,
just as Dr. Hodgson felt he had lost the contact of the hand, when a
phenomenon was going to be produced. From this negative observation,
Mr. Maskelyne, like Hodgson, deducts the positive conclusion, that
the phenomenon was normally and fraudulently produced. I retain Mr.
Maskelyne’s affirmation, that the backward movement Eusapia made when
the small table was carried on to the larger one, revealed her method
to him. Hodgson has the same impression as the conjurer. In concluding
as they do, they both forget this circumstance, often observed with the
Italian medium, that synchronous movements of her limbs accompany the
phenomenon. If Mr. Maskelyne is excusable in not having studied and
examined this circumstance, Dr. Hodgson, well acquainted with psychical
matters, is unpardonable in having neglected it. This omission is a
fundamental gap in his reasoning; and I think it robs it of all serious

Let us take another example in the rare indications given by the
Cambridge experimenters (Extracts from report of seance of 1st Sept.
1895, _Journal_, vii. 151-153):—[‘The Report consists of notes taken
by Mr. Myers at the time from the dictation of the sitters, with
supplementary statements added by some of the sitters afterwards; these
are placed in square brackets, and all except those to which Mrs.
Sidgwick’s initials are appended were written by Dr. Hodgson on Sept.
2nd and 3rd. The italics refer to the descriptions of phenomena, the
ordinary type to the conditions of holding, etc.]. [Sitters arranged
as follows:—


‘Mrs. Myers goes under the table, has the medium’s feet on palms of
hands far apart.]

‘=7.= 6. _Three knocks_ [which sounded as if made on the top of the
table]. Right hand lies across R. H. and holds H. S.’s three fingers
with at least two. Left hand holds F. D. and Mrs. S. Three movements
made with left hand beforehand. Knees not moved and feet held tight.
[Medium was asked to repeat this phenomenon.]

‘=7.= 7. _Three knocks, rather loud and dull_ [resembling the
preceding]. Right hand moving, holding H. S.’s and R. H.’s. Left hand
well off the table; holding satisfactory, held by F. D. and Mrs. S.
Feet well held, knees not moved.

‘[Both series of three knocks were doubtless produced by Eusapia’s
head. On the second occasion, I succeeded in getting her head between
me and a slight light from the curtains behind, and observed the motion
of her head part of the way forward and back. She moved her right hand,
with H. S.’s hand and mine, forward, outward, and upward somewhat,
and possibly made a similar movement with her left hand, thus giving
herself a free space to bend her head forward and down, and at the same
time having the hands which were holding hers, in a position from which
it would be more difficult to grab.] [And had practically six hands out
of the way of an accidental contact with her head. E. M. S.].’

Such is the _procès-verbal_. Dr. Hodgson, I repeat, has been so severe
with others, that he will forgive me for being exigent with him.

Is it admissible to reason in this way? to consider that she has,
_perhaps_, made a movement with the left hand similar to the one
effected with the right hand, and afterwards to hold that supposition
as a demonstrated fact? Should he not have remembered that such a
movement, in a big woman like Eusapia, cannot be easily made without
her arms betraying the movement of the spinal column, and the muscles
of the neck, without the knees revealing the movement of the body?

Now, the knee did not move; and Hodgson points out no movement of the

The movement of the head might have been one of those synchronous
movements of which I have spoken. Dr. Hodgson has omitted to consider
this hypothesis.

To sum up, limiting ourselves simply to published documents, we see
that the English experimenters paid no attention to the conditions
under which it is expedient to operate, that they tired out the medium,
surrounded her with elements of suspicion, encouraged her to fraud—Dr.
Hodgson especially—and finally concealed from her the severe judgment
they had formed about her. As Richet says, the Cambridge experiments
prove only one thing, which is, that in that particular series of
seances Eusapia frauded with her well-known methods, but it is rash to
conclude thereupon that she has always frauded.[41]

      [41] ‘_A Cambridge Eusapia pendant une série de séances a
      fraudé avec ses procédés connus._ Voilà la première conclusion.
      Et voici la seconde. _En mettant Eusapia dans l’impossibilité
      de frauder, pendant cette même série d’expériences de
      Cambridge, Eusapia n’a pas pu produire un seul phénomène

      ‘Il me paraît qu’il est téméraire de conclure que tous les
      phénomènes produits ou présumés produits par Eusapia sont
      faux.... Sous des influences morales et psychologiques
      dont la nature nous échappe, pendant un très long temps
      Eusapia est incapable de pouvoir exercer une action vraie
      quelconque, et peut-être, à Cambridge elle s’est trouvée dans
      ces conditions.... J’en conclus qu’il n’y a encore rien de
      démontré, ni dans un sens, ni dans l’autre, et qu’il faut
      courageusement poursuivre la recherche; et expérimenter
      encore.’—CHARLES RICHET. (_Journal S. P. R._, vii. 179.)

The analysis of the documents published permits me to ascertain:—

  1. Demonstration of fraud in certain hypothetical cases.

  2. Omission to indicate if the medium was conscious or in trance.

  3. Omission to discuss phenomena non-explicable by fraud.

  4. Apparent contradiction between Dr. Hodgson’s statements and
      those of other experimenters.

  5. Omission to analyse if Eusapia’s suspicious movements were
      not muscular movements synchronous with the phenomena. This
      omission is capital, and demonstrates the relative inexperience
      of the Cambridge group.

  6. Evident bias of Dr. Hodgson, who had taken up a decided stand,
      and treated Eusapia’s phenomena as fraudulent before having
      seen them.

In a word, the Cambridge experimenters operated under bad conditions:
they could not obtain any good results by acting as they did. But,
even under these wretched conditions, they ought to have received
some veridical phenomena, and the reading of their publications leads
us to presume they did receive some. In any case, their report does
not demonstrate that everything was explicable by fraud, and is not
sufficient to justify the sweeping judgment they brought to bear upon
Eusapia Paladino.

Now, if we compare the Cambridge results with those obtained by other
experimenters, the conclusion we draw from these documents becomes more
precise. I refer my readers to the reports of the experiments at Milan
(_Ann. des Sc. Psych._, 1893), and at l’Agnélas (_Ibid._ 1896). I will
only dwell upon my personal experience with Eusapia. I experimented
with this medium in 1895, 1896, and 1897, and I obtained undeniable
phenomena with her.

Like other Continental experimenters, I tried to put Eusapia at her
ease, to win her confidence and sympathy; and the results of my seances
were convincing.

At l’Agnélas, out of seance hours, and in full light, I saw the table
raised to the height of my forehead. Every one was standing up,
Eusapia’s hands were held and seen; her left hand, held by me, rested
on the right angle of the table.

At Choisy, in 1897, we received doubtful phenomena, notably the
_apport_ of a carnation which appeared most suspicious to us; but we
spoke openly of our doubts to Eusapia. At other times the phenomena
were of extraordinary intensity. One afternoon, Sunday, 11th October,
all the sitters, even those furthest away from the medium, were touched.

But it was at Bordeaux, perhaps, in 1897 that the phenomena were most
intense. I find in my notes—which are not, and make no claim to be,
reports—the following recital:—

‘P. is vigorously touched. Eusapia gives him the control of her hands
and feet. P. receives slaps in the back every time Eusapia presses his
foot. The noise is distinctly heard. P.’s chair is shaken and drawn
from under him. Eusapia rubs her feet on the floor, to give fluid, she
says. Finally P.’s chair is slowly carried on to the seance-table.
The persons (Dr. Denucé, Madame A., and I) for whom P. is between
the table and the window (a light from outside streams through the
Persian shutters) see the chair very clearly outlined on the window
(a large bay, six feet wide). After having been placed on the table,
the chair is taken back to the floor, and, a second time, carried on
to the table. The movements were slowly produced; while they were
being produced, the hands, feet, and head of the medium were under
control. If any part of the medium’s body had touched the chair, the
contact would have been seen on the silhouette of the chair, the latter
standing out well against the lighted-up window. While the chair is in
movement P. is crouching down on his heels; he is touched on the back,
his garments are pulled, he is tickled; at the same time the table is
levitated. _These three manifestations were produced simultaneously._’

This phenomenon is, perhaps, the most convincing Eusapia has given
me in demi-obscurity; it was impossible to produce these three
manifestations simultaneously with a free hand and foot (admitting
there had been substitution): knowing the possible frauds, I had
indicated to my co-experimenters Eusapia’s ordinary tricks. Moreover,
Dr. Denucé and P., a barrister at Bordeaux, were both _au courant_ with
the usual frauds, and were experienced experimenters. I draw special
attention to the visibility of the chair suspended in the air. We only
saw the outline of the chair, but we saw it plainly.

Here is another levitation obtained under conditions which exclude
every device pointed out by Messrs. Hodgson and Maskelyne: teeth,
strap, hook, foot, hand holding the table, pressure of the knees,

‘Afterwards Eusapia makes us get up. She pulls the table into the
centre of the room (telling us she is doing this herself). She
invites M. to hold her feet; M. goes under the table. Eusapia becomes
impatient, and says to him “_dietro_” because the table would hurt her;
M. stoops down behind Eusapia, and seizes her by the feet. Eusapia then
says she is going to raise the table without touching it. A circle is
made around the table, which, after several oscillations, rises up
vertically. The top of the table reaches as high as our foreheads.

‘A second time the table is levitated under the same conditions, and
to the same height. The experimenters are all standing up around the
table, and no hand at all touches it.’

The table stood out plainly against the window. It would have been easy
to see the limb or instrument which was in contact with it, had there
been any such contact.

Professor Sidgwick ‘often asked Eusapia—or rather John—to favour him
with a hand-grasp when he was holding the two hands of the medium in
his two hands, since he regarded this as the only mode of holding the
hands which could ever be perfectly satisfactory to him.’ He solicited
in vain. Now we obtained this phenomenon frequently:—

‘Eusapia takes Dr. D.’s two hands, and gives him her two hands to
control. Under these conditions Dr. D. is touched. Eusapia does the
same thing with P., who is several times touched.’

Here are some phenomena obtained with a bright green light. ‘One side
of the table rises up, followed by two good levitations: the table is
levitated to a height of about one foot six inches, and remains from
two to three seconds in the air. Eusapia’s hands are well controlled
and visible; her feet do not move. The feet of the table (visible to
me) are not in contact with Eusapia’s dress during the levitation. I
see the dress distinctly; it is motionless. When the levitation took
place no hand was touching the table.’

Finally, here is a crucial experiment, an account of which M. de Rochas
has published in the _Annales des Sciences Psychiques_ in 1898. At that
moment I still suspended my judgment, not that my opinion with regard
to the phenomena produced by Eusapia and verified by me was uncertain,
but because I wished to study other mediums before pronouncing my
judgment. My studies are now sufficiently complete, from the point of
view of the observation of these facts, to permit me to declare my
opinion. The reasons of prudence, which led me to beg M. de Rochas to
withhold my name from his report, no longer exist. Here is the extract
from my notes made at the time of the experiment:—

‘I had bought, during the day, a letter-balance, which I brought to the
seance. Eusapia makes us sit for two or three minutes with our hands
on the table. Then she approaches her hands to the letter-balance,
placing her left hand on top of Dr. D.’s right hand. Dr. D. mentions
the sensation of a cold breeze, which ceases and recommences. Eusapia’s
hands are at about fifteen centimetres away from the letter-balance.
She makes two or three ascending and descending movements with
her hands, palm directed downwards. At the second movement the
letter-balance is pushed to the limit of its course, requiring for this
a force of more than one hundred and seventy grammes. Eusapia takes
P.’s left hand, and tries the experiment with him. She asks if he feels
the cool breeze. In a few seconds P. feels it over the third and fourth
fingers. (P.’s left hand is under the medium’s right hand.) The tray is
lowered, and the hand stops at the division 20.

‘Eusapia takes Dr. D.’s hand again. She forms a triangle with her
hands. Dr. D. has always his right hand in Eusapia’s left. The latter’s
hands are about fifteen centimetres away from one another, and about
ten centimetres away from the edge of the apparatus. The tray of the
latter is lowered; the hand marks 90 grammes, and _slowly_ returns to
0; in the two preceding experiments it had returned abruptly.

‘Eusapia tries to raise the scale. She directs her hands palms upwards.
The scale raises itself.

‘P. puts a black pocket-book weighing seventy grammes on the tray.
Eusapia begins the last experiment over again. After two or three
movements of her hands, palms upwards, the tray is raised to its
uttermost limit.’

These experiments were made in a good green light.

In conclusion, we never hesitated to act openly with Eusapia, telling
her what we thought. For example, at one time, in obscurity, Eusapia
drew the table to her without announcing it was she who did it. P.
immediately said: ‘It is the medium who’s drawing the table.’ Eusapia
was not annoyed, and said that P. was right to speak of what he noticed.

These experiments at Choisy and Bordeaux, in the course of which there
were both good and bad seances, convinced me that I had not been the
victim of illusion at l’Agnélas in M. de Rochas’ house.

My judgment will convince no one. In such matters we must see for
ourselves in order to be convinced. Mr. Hodgson himself knows
this to-day. My testimony contradicts formally and explicitly the
conclusions of the Cambridge investigators. Eusapia does not always
defraud; with us, she rarely defrauded.

Let me terminate this discussion with Richet’s words: ‘Malgré les
apparences qui sont en effet souvent contre Eusapia, je ne suis fixé
en aucune manière sur ce que j’ai appelé jusqu’ici fraude.... Il est
possible, que dans l‘état de trance, ou dans les états voisins, la
psychologie d’un médium soit très différente de la nôtre.’


I have criticised somewhat lengthily M. Janet’s opinions: will the
reader kindly allow me to make yet another incursion into scientific
ground. For it is perhaps necessary to reply to some objections which
are advanced—doubtless in all sincerity—by certain savants who are
either ill informed, or lacking in adequate knowledge of the subject.
Professor Grasset of the university of Montpellier, for whose talent
and earnestness I have the greatest respect, has just published a long
article entitled _Le Spiritisme et la Science_ in the last volume of
his _Leçons de clinique médicale_ (t. iv., 1903, p. 374). He begins
by stating that he is going to take Janet as his guide, because the
latter’s ‘luminous ideas are and remain for him the sole scientific
basis now existing of these questions.’ Though we see it in print,
this assertion is so extraordinary, that we wonder if we be not
dreaming when reading it. Professor Grasset, then, is going to take
Janet as a guide, Janet who has never seen anything! It makes one
think of the fable, only, this time, it is the blind man who climbs on
the paralytic’s back. Grasset is going to deal with matters of such
importance, so prolific probably in new and unexpected consequences,
without consulting the writers who have described the phenomena he is
going to study! The authors from whose works he quotes—Jules Bois,
Papus, Péladan, Mme. de Thébes, Léo Taxil!—have more to do with the
charms of fancy than with the gravity of science. The task of refuting
their assertions is far too easy a one, and the learned professor ought
to have chosen other and better representatives of psychical research.
His argumentation falls short of the mark.

Professor Grasset’s case is, however, instructive. I consider
him as one of our best-informed scientists, and he seems to look
upon psychical research without prejudice. Nobody can doubt his
earnestness, his learning, his talent; but, in spite of these
qualities, he shows himself to be unfamiliar with the serious work
which has been done, and which is being done in psychical matters. When
he quotes Myers, he misquotes him. When he discusses the Piper case, he
sums up the account given of the case by M. Mangin in the _Annales des
Sciences Psychiques_, and does not say a word of the careful reports
drawn up by Hodgson and Hyslop. It is not to be wondered at, therefore,
if the professor’s statements do not agree with the facts. He does
not appear to have studied either the original reports or M. Sage’s
remarkable summary of these reports.

Professor Grasset simply says: ‘Four months after the death of Mr.
Robinson (George Pelham), Mrs. Piper gave a seance in the house of one
of Mr. Robinson’s friends and fell into a trance.’ [A slight mistake,
the seance took place at Mrs. Piper’s.] ‘P., the secondary personality,
said that George Robinson was ready to communicate; and henceforth this
spirit took part in Mrs. Piper’s seances as another familiar spirit.
Such an example shows how _polygonal_ incarnations are formed during
the medium’s trance.’

And no more! Professor Grasset does not see the real problem: did the
medium show any knowledge of facts known only to the deceased? This is
the problem. The mode of formation of the secondary personality is but
an accessory question.

This kind of reasoning is common to savants. They keep aloof from
the real psychological problem, and only discuss its side issues.
I am sorry to see a man of Professor Grasset’s worth fall into the
usual errors, and pronounce a judgment upon facts before thoroughly
acquainting himself with those facts.

Professor Grasset speaks of _spiritisme scientifique_ as belonging
to the realm of biology, and demanding the serious attention of
scientists. But why speak of spiritism? Spiritism is a religion, it is
not a science; it is the _systematic explanation_ of the _ensemble_ of
certain facts, so far very ill understood, but it is not the assertion
of those facts. Are the alleged facts true? That is the question which
biology has to examine. Spiritism, on the contrary, that is to say, the
_ensemble_ of metaphysical doctrines founded upon the revelations of
spirits, cannot be considered, at least for the present, as belonging
to biology. I beg Professor Grasset not to confound the impartial,
unbiased research for scientific truth with spiritism.

The little influence which the criticism of savants—of even the
most renowned among them—has had upon contemporary thought (_e.g._
it has not been able to prevent or put a stop to the quest in the
domain of psychical sciences), is due precisely to their lack of
correct information. They have always reasoned beside the question,
analysing the facts imperfectly, admitting only those which they can
easily explain, and rejecting all others as fraudulent or doubtful.
To those who have studied these ‘fraudulent and doubtful’ facts,
they are neither doubtful nor fraudulent, and the only effect, which
the obstinate negation of certain savants has, is to rob their words
of all serious influence and value. And this is a pity, for the
savants themselves first of all, and afterwards for the public who,
ill enlightened, become the prey of charlatans or the victims of


It is to the kindness of M. Braunschweig that I owe the following
story, which is instructive from several points of view. M.
Braunschweig, a retired business man, intelligent and highly educated,
is well known in his town. The phenomena, of which he guarantees
the authenticity, have not been observed by me; but the disastrous
consequences of his and M. Vergniat’s too great confidence in a
‘spirit’ taught him such a useful and serious lesson, that I thought I
would do well to make it known. I only give it with that object, for I
cannot personally vouch for the extraordinary facts in this interesting
recital. I give this recital _in extenso_ without changing anything, in
order not to alter its physiognomy.

_A Mystery_

  Canius Junius when walking to the scaffold said to his friends:
    ‘You ask me if the soul is immortal; I am going to find out, and
    if I can, I will return to tell you.’

These notes, written in haste, and, as it were, off-hand, have no other
claim than to bring a few strange facts together, leaving every one
free to appreciate them as they think best.

For a while I was swayed by a preoccupation; I hesitated in the face
of incredulity, which thrusts aside all which is neither matter nor
number, to unveil phenomena of the nature of those which have been
verified by so many persons already; but the duty imposed upon me of
preserving my children from trials similar to mine, has triumphed over
my hesitation, and I will proclaim the truth without any fear of their
ever doubting their father’s veracity.

In writing these lines, I yield to a feeling that the witness of
mysterious facts ought to give, in the interests of humanity or
science, a scrupulously exact narration of what he has seen. And
particularly so when his revelations are likely to preserve the
inexperienced from the pitfalls of an occult power which it would be as
senseless to deny the existence of as to doubt of its power for good or
evil, according as it desires good or evil. I therefore accomplish what
I believe to be a duty. This conviction suffices to brave the spirit
always more or less strong, which is ever inclined to deny what it
cannot explain.

The fear of being accused of seeking for sympathy, by relating these
facts of which I have been the victim, might also have stopped me from
speaking; but for the loss of a few worldly goods, my mind, my soul,
finds ample compensation in that certitude of a future life, which
results from the facts the Master permitted me to witness.

It was in 1867. Attracted by the noise of a trumpet, I crossed _La
Place Saint-André_, and went down the dark, narrow street which, at
that time, skirted the Cathedral, and where _bric-à-brac_ dealers used
to spread out their wares. At the corner of the street Palangues, I
came across a crowd gathered around an auctioneer who was holding a
sale of statuary.

I was passing on indifferently when the auctioneer held up a statuette,
the outlines and graceful pose of which immediately struck my fancy.

Was it a Virgin? A _mater dolorosa_? I do not know. But I still see
that beautiful face, stamped with sadness, the eyes upraised, two
great tears tremblingly seeming to implore me to put a stop to this
profanation. The general appearance of the statue—its head bent
slightly forward—and the graceful drapery denoted a work of art.

I bought it, yielding simply to the desire of possessing an artistic
work, and not to satisfy any religious sentiment, which, I must own,
did not exist.

I also bought a bracket to support the statuette, and a few minutes
afterwards, everything was arranged in my room, Rue du Palais Tallien,
No. 147.

My wife, Madame Vergniat, was at Périgord. When she returned home,
she was surprised to see, in the most conspicuous spot in my room, a
religious object which I myself had bought.

Her surprise was legitimate, for strong prejudices against religion
left little room in my mind for religious practices.

Nothing strange happened in that house, although we lived in it for
a long time after the purchase of the statuette. But I always felt
such great pleasure in admiring my Virgin, that I have often wondered
whether this ill-defined attraction were not the prelude, and, in some
measure, a first influence of the mysterious facts which were going to

We left our residence in the Rue du Palais Tallien to go to a house I
had bought in the Rue Malbec, No. 116.

It was a detached house surrounded by a garden; it contained two
bedrooms, a sitting-room, and a vestibule which served as a dining-room.

In order to make my recital intelligible, I am obliged to give a few
details about the furniture and its arrangement.

A night-table separated my bed from the fireplace. Above the table was
a holy-water fount; above the latter an oil painting representing the
Virgin; finally, near the ceiling, the statuette on its bracket.

To the left of the night-table, in the recess beside the chimney, there
was a panoply composed of swords and sabres.

When we were settled, Madame Vergniat again visited Périgord. It was
during her absence that the first manifestation took place, but I
attached no great importance to it.

Here are the circumstances under which the phenomenon occurred.

I was awakened in the night by the sound of a violent blow as of some
one hammering at the front door. I promptly lit the candle, and looked
at the time; it was one o’clock.

This visit was not of a reassuring nature, for, to be able to knock at
the front door at this hour of the night, it was necessary to leap over
the gate, which, securely closed, barred access to the house.

Before proceeding to open the door, I waited for a second knock, but
in vain. I was awakened, at the same hour on the following night, by a
similar rap.

The nurse, sleeping with the children in the next room, hearing the
knock, got frightened. I tried to reassure her by saying: ‘_To-morrow
a loaded gun will receive the individual who takes such a pleasure in
arousing us._’

I underline these words, because further on we will have occasion of
seeing them repeated in a surprising manner.

A few months later, and without any new incidents occurring in the
meantime, our nurse was discharged, and replaced by a strong healthy
girl from the Pyrenees.

The nocturnal visit had been quite forgotten, when on the 23rd January
1868, Madame Vergniat and the nurse, who were busy in my room, heard
something like a rustling on the window-panes, and saw the statuette
bow twice, as though saluting them. At first they thought an earthquake
had happened, and when I entered they related the incident to me in
scared tones.

The statuette was indeed displaced; but was that sufficient to convince
me? No.

I laughed at the story, convinced that my wife and the nurse were
victims of an illusion.

However, on the morrow and following days, the same phenomena occurring
at the same hour, that is to say towards eleven o’clock in the morning,
I determined to stay at home and verify _de visu_ this marvellous fact.

I got what I wanted; for on that day, the statuette turned about now
to the right, now to the left, twelve or fourteen times. Sometimes it
advanced and balanced itself on the edge of the pedestal.

The evolution was so prompt and so unexpected, that the eye could
scarcely follow the movement.

I was not long in ascertaining that, before executing these movements,
the mysterious power awaited the moment when the attention, tired of
remaining on the _qui vive_, was off its guard. Then a sharp sounding
rap, similar to the discharge of an electric spark, denoted that the
evolution had taken place.

The picture hanging under the statuette lost its equilibrium, the
_bénitier_ fell over, and the swords swayed about like so many clock

I noticed that the presence of my wife and the nurse aided these
manifestations considerably; I even noticed that the appearance of
either of them on the threshold of the room sufficed to provoke the

I tried to dissimulate the preoccupation these manifestations caused
me, and I pretended to attach no importance to them, in order to react
against the exaltation and fear which were taking hold of Madame
Vergniat and the nurse, and of the two work-women, who were also
constant witnesses of this disorder.

But instead of aiding me in my efforts, the Virgin no longer contented
herself with simple evolutions on her pedestal. She began to let
herself fall down on the eiderdown of my bed, and would remain buried
there until a sharp sounding rap announced that she had returned to her

In a short time, the raps became more frequent, and did not always
indicate displacements. We heard them on the doors, on the cupboards,
etc., and even in the middle of the garden.

Thus on returning home one day, such a formidable rap resounded, that
the neighbours ran to their windows, and called out to me: ‘Well, M.
Vergniat, one would think you were being saluted.’

These facts, already so extraordinary, were to be succeeded by others
more extraordinary still.

The watchmaker, M. Ouvrard, who wound up our clocks every fortnight,
having at one time taken up the study of somnambulism, thought he
recognised in our nurse a subject who would be susceptible to magnetic
influences, and proposed putting her to sleep.

A few minutes sufficed to obtain the state of prostration and
insensibility which characterises magnetic sleep. For the first few
seances, Marie’s replies were unintelligible, but she very soon began
to express herself clearly and even with volubility.

Considering the state of mind the manifestations of the statuette kept
us in, it will be readily understood that the first question put to the
somnambulist was, ‘Do you see who it is who moves the Virgin about?’

‘I see him,’ she replied, ‘he is close to me on his knees, praying. It
is a man dressed in a brown coat, holding a dark-covered book in his
hand. I do not see his face. I only see a part of his moustache, for he
is turning his back to me.’

For several days her answers were always the same. But having insisted
upon knowing the name of the man in prayer, the somnambulist at last
replied, ‘I am Madame’s father.’

However, this assertion was soon contradicted by a more explicit

It was so easy to produce the magnetic sleep with Marie, that, once
when she asked me to put her to sleep, I succeeded in doing so without
having any other notions about such things than those I had gathered
from our few seances; but I found it impossible to awaken her, and was
obliged to send for the watchmaker, hoping he would help me out of my
dilemma. He arrived, but his efforts were in vain.

The somnambulist made fun of us, and teased the watchmaker about his

This fact is to be noted, for it contradicts the current belief that
the subject obeys the will of the magnetiser: but what follows reveals
a phenomenon of vastly different interest.

Marie ceased to speak in her own name. A spirit having taken possession
of her will, declared that all our efforts to awaken the somnambulist
would be useless.

‘I am quite comfortable here,’ said the spirit, ‘and it pleases me to
stay. But at four o’clock, I am wanted elsewhere; the somnambulist will
then awaken of her own accord. Have the patience to wait.’

At the hour mentioned, at the exact moment, the somnambulist returned
to her normal state.

From that day forth the somnambulist remained constantly under the
influence of the spirits who took possession of her during her sleep.
Thus, as soon as she was asleep, the spirit sometimes said, ‘I have
only a few minutes to stay’; and when the time was up, Marie would
awaken without any intervention.

During these more or less lengthy conversations, the spirit took a
fancy to calling me his son. His advice testified to a disposition of
great benevolence, and was chiefly of a profoundly religious character.
It is incontestable that, by an inexplicable phenomenon, Marie’s
faculties were replaced, during these communications, by a spirit whose
superiority it was impossible not to recognise, a superiority revealed
by the tone of the discussion and the choice of expressions.

Pressing him one day for an explanation, I resolutely asked him, ‘But
who are you, then?’

‘I am he, you wanted to receive with a loaded gun, when I knocked at
your door at one o’clock in the morning.’

Remember the somnambulist was absolutely ignorant of this fact, as she
was not in our service when the strange nocturnal visit occurred.

As for the Virgin, she was not at a standstill all this time; she
continued to turn five or six times every day.

The good advice of the spirit, the purity of his principles, most
certainly interested me; but I confess the statuette interested me
more. Had I not a tangible, undeniable fact before me, just as stubborn
as my reason tried to be? Stamping my feet I repeated, ‘And still she

Ever on my guard, even in face of evidence, I gave myself the
satisfaction of imprisoning the Virgin, but in such a way as to be able
to verify her evolutions.

I had a niche of wire made, covered with transparent gauze, and,
sealing it to the wall, I securely shut up the statuette therein.

My work done, I left my room. At once a formidable rap resounded: I ran
to the room, everything had disappeared, the pedestal alone was still
in its place. The Virgin, thrown on to the bed, was found buried in the
eiderdown, whilst the casing was at the side of the bed.

My precautions having incurred displeasure, I took care not to renew
them. When consulted on this, the next day, the somnambulist, or rather
the spirit acting through her, said, ‘Never touch the Virgin, leave her
there; otherwise she will be transferred,’ adding, ‘he who takes her
away from her pedestal will know very well how to put her back again.’

This recommendation was followed; but one day the statuette
disappeared. Madame Vergniat having quite got over her first fears,
searched for it actively everywhere, and after having turned the house
upside down in her quest, found it in a cupboard behind the children’s
bed. This cupboard, being dissimulated by tapestry, had never been
used, and we did not even know of its existence.

How had the Virgin got into it?

The displacements became more and more frequent. For instance, the
statuette took it into its head to change rooms, and the sitting-room
became its favourite resort, but it never let a whole day pass without
reappearing upon its pedestal.

The doors opened and shut before it with the same sharp sound which
followed each evolution. All this went on so rapidly that we were more
surprised than inconvenienced.

Under the influence of these phenomena, the ordinary sleep of the
somnambulist became heavier. At night she was often heard speaking
aloud. She awakened with difficulty, and having shaken off her torpor,
she could not open her eyes. ‘They feel as though they were glued
down,’ she used to say. But placing her fingers on Marie’s eyelids,
Madame Vergniat used to pray, and the difficulty would disappear.

In her ordinary sleep, the conversation was not serious; it was more
often commonplace, full of jesting, sometimes even of bad taste;
whereas in provoked sleep, we constantly found a serious spirit,
professing the purest maxims, and giving advice full of sincere charity.

I asked this mysterious spirit if it were true that he was Madame’s
father, as he had once declared himself to be.

Here is his reply, I give it word for word: ‘My son, I read in your
mind (for you cannot hide your thoughts from me) that not having enough
faith to attribute to God the happiness of the visit you receive in
your house, you seek its explanation in absurd suppositions. _Do not
believe in spiritism, my son._

‘God, who is essentially good, could not permit your spirit-friends,
after having gone through all the trials of earth, to be condemned to
look on at the turpitudes and the sufferings of those who are dear to
them. This is a torture which God did not wish to reserve for you.

‘Yes, a Spirit exists; but He is alone, unique, and that Spirit is
mine. It is He who breathes into all things, who animates all things;
He who makes you act, walk, stop when you believe that your own will is

‘That Spirit, I repeat, is unique. It is the Master’s.’

Let us remark, _en passant_, that this is the opinion of Mallbranche,
who claims God to be the immediate Author of the union we admire
between soul and body.

‘I see that you doubt my words,’ added the spirit, ‘(for I have already
told you that you cannot hide your thoughts or actions from me), and
you are saying, “What presumption! to suppose that I have deserved such
a visit, and that the Divine Spirit has knocked at my door!”

‘You prefer, therefore, my son, to doubt my words and to stand aloof
from the truth. So be it! but do not forget, whatever your appreciation
may be about me and the object of my visit, be assured that I am only
able to visit your home in pursuance of a supreme will, and that all
your efforts to drive me away, and even my desire to leave you before
the accomplishment of my mission, would be equally useless.

‘Welcome me, therefore, as a kind father who comes to help his son to
tread the painful path of life. I have never left you since you came
into the world. We have gone through many worries together, we have
borne many sorrows; but better times are at hand, and I am able to
reveal to you, my child, that from the moment I am able to make my
voice heard, the blessing of the Master will assure you the repose of
body, soul, and spirit.

‘No more worry for you, your father is here to shield you. But in
exchange for the good which my mission is to bring you, I ask you to
turn your thoughts to the Creator, and thank Him for the immense favour
He has accorded you. For, learn that no man has ever before received
such a Visitor in his home.

‘I desire you to attend divine service regularly, and to go to

‘I also desire you to help those people whose addresses and needs I
will make known to you; but as I am a protector, if I impose charges
upon you, I will also procure you the means of providing for them.’

Imagine what an influence these mysterious facts already exercised
over me, when I say that I promised everything, and, like a submissive
child, took the communion with fervour.

From that day forth the benevolence of the unknown was extended over
every one and every thing, from the household to the house needs. His
solicitude, for the somnambulist especially, drove him sometimes to
charge me with delicate missions, of which I will give an example.

I had once just put Marie to sleep, when the spirit manifested itself,

‘I am going to speak to you about some of the private affairs of the
somnambulist, and I beg you to follow my instructions.

‘This girl thinks of marrying a carpenter, named Toussaint, who has
been following her about for a long time. But Marie’s parents, who are
honest folk, will never consent to this marriage. First of all, because
Toussaint is a worthless fellow, and in the second place, because
Toussaint’s brother was condemned _yesterday_ to pay an ignominious
penalty for a foul crime he has committed.

‘Therefore, Marie must cease to know this young man; moreover, his
jealous and violent character might soon endanger her life.

‘Marie is ignorant of these details. Therefore, when she awakens, take
care not to repeat our conversation; but to-morrow, when returning from
Bordeaux, tell her about this as though it were some news you had heard
of in town.

‘Marie will deny everything, first of all; she will pretend not to know
the individual; but insist upon it, and she will confess everything.’

And this, in fact, is what happened.

The spirit went on to say:—

‘This workman has recently wounded his hand, and is consequently
debarred from working; he is always prowling about the house, and I
advise you to be on your guard against him.’

Marie often used to ask me to put her to sleep in the evening. Then,
strange to say, she would tell us when and how many times this man
Toussaint would pass the door, the next day.

This information was always correct. However, one day, our man did not
turn up at the given time—he was two minutes late. Marie was asleep
in the sitting-room, and I went backwards and forwards from her to
the terrace. I was nearly losing patience, when she cried out, ‘He is
coming—you will barely have time to get to the terrace.’ And so it was;
as soon as I reached my post of observation, the carpenter came into
the Rue Malbec out of the Rue Bègles.

A few days afterwards, the spirit, whom the somnambulist called ‘Grand
Father,’ warned us that Marie ran a great risk. Toussaint having had
the door shown to him everywhere because of the disgrace which had
fallen upon his family, had made up his mind to avenge himself.

Animated with the worst designs, he had shaved off his beard in order
to make himself unrecognisable; and hiding a large knife under his
coat, he was bending his way to the house, with the fixed purpose, said
the spirit, of striking Marie.

When giving us this information through the somnambulist, our
mysterious friend added: ‘Do not allow this girl to go out to-day. I
will deliver you from this dangerous man very soon, by making him wish
to go on a long voyage, from which he will never return.’

Two or three days afterwards, Marie heard that this individual had left
for Algeria.

First of all we have seen, by the substitution of the spirit to the
faculties of the somnambulist, how our free-will is subordinated to
occult influences. And if the objection be made that in that case,
magnetic influences facilitated this substitution, there still remains
the case of the carpenter, whose free-will was absolutely subjugated
after premeditation, as is shown by the spirit’s declaration that he
would ‘make him wish to take a long voyage from which the individual
would never return.’

In proportion as these strange facts succeeded each other, we yielded
further and further to an influence from which it was impossible to
escape—I may even say we were happy to obey.

How could we thrust aside advice which was always thoroughly honest,
and with which the name of God was constantly associated?

After the somnambulist, Madame Vergniat was the one who felt the
effects of this mysterious atmosphere the most strongly.

For my part, I had, at first, confined myself simply to observing the
phenomena, to accepting them only as a study; but under the influence
of surprise upon surprise, filled with admiration, I ended in blind
submission. And yet, we were only at the beginning of our marvellous

Often, during a meal, if we had need of something or other, Marie would
bring it to us before we asked for it. A voice, which she thought was
at times mine, at times Madame Vergniat’s, transmitted our desire
to her before it was expressed. It was a splendid case of thought

If the maid’s work was not quite properly done, he who watched over
the house so assiduously, punished her immediately, by removing with
remarkable dexterity the foulard she wore on her head. And if she ever
happened to be wanting in politeness towards us, she was instantly
called to order in the same way, without any consideration for the
place or circumstances she might be in at the moment. I have often seen
her foulard thrown on the ground, to remind her that she should allow
us to pass before her into a carriage, omnibus, etc.

I have also had occasion to witness a very surprising manifestation,
surprising because of the facility shown for displacing a piece of
furniture the weight of which was relatively considerable.

Often, after retiring to rest, the somnambulist would feel her bed
gently rolled into the centre of the floor, and then back again to its
place. This to-and-fro movement used to be repeated as often as three
or four times in the same evening; the movement was slow, we could see
distinctly that great mass moving about under the impulsion of some
invisible force.

The somnambulist, as I said in the beginning, was a big, stout girl
from the Pyrenees. She could neither read nor write, and the sight
of all these supernatural things astounded and alarmed her. I have
remarked that, in her normal state, she often forgot what she had seen
the previous day. But what she really did understand was that ‘Grand
Father’ was not satisfied with her when a crust of bread or some cheese
was thrown at her head; this was a sure sign that there was a hitch

In the vestibule, which we used as a dining-room, a small Louis xv.
lustre was suspended; it often swayed about when we sat down to meals,
and the movement, which was always preceded by a rustling on the metal
chains, was slow or accelerated according to my wife’s expressed or
unexpressed wish.

If we had visitors, everything was so quiet that no one would ever have
suspected what strange things happened to us habitually. It looked as
though these manifestations were reserved for the inmates of the house
and for a few privileged guests, whose attention was, perforce, aroused
by the noise.

Two young girls, one Anna ——, from Périgord, the other Mathilde ——,
from Bordeaux, who worked almost constantly in our house, were present
at most of these occurrences, and ‘Grand Father’ even testified much
affection for these girls.

In the beginning, I said that when the statuette turned on its
pedestal, the swords had moved about in the contrary direction. One of
them was unhooked and deposited in a corner of the wall, but in the
presence of Madame Vergniat an invisible force almost immediately put
it slowly back again in its place.

The oscillations of the lustre, the movements of the swords, the
displacements of the bed were the only phenomena which the eye was able
to follow; all the others were so rapid that they escaped even the most
vigilant attention.

Our presence in the house was not necessary to produce noises and
other phenomena. The fact which I am going to relate contradicts the
opinion emitted by some spiritists, that spirits borrow the force which
is indispensable to produce these displacements from the mediums or

We once went to spend a day in the country, taking the nurse with us,
and leaving the house empty for the day. Returning in the evening, the
neighbours came out to meet us saying that they feared all our crockery
was broken, because ever since our departure a dreadful noise had
reigned in the house. We searched all the rooms, but no damage had been
done, and everything was in its place.

Where, therefore, in that empty house had the spirit taken the
auxiliary force which we are told is necessary for its manifestations?

I was very reserved respecting these facts. I did not care to noise
them abroad, for had I done so controversy would certainly have arisen.

Another reason for remaining silent was, that once after having spoken
of these events to the member of a reputedly religious family, the
Virgin refused to make any evolution before this visitor. But scarcely
was the incredulous person out of the house when the statuette was

The same evening I put Marie to sleep, and reproached the spirit

‘What happens here is for you alone,’ he replied, ‘and ought not to be
exhibited as a spectacle.’

However, this apparently severe admonition was soon infringed upon by
himself under the following circumstances:—

M. Bossuet, a hairdresser in the Rue Bouffard, at Bordeaux, was
dressing Madame Vergniat’s hair in the sitting-room: my wife heard
the sharp rap which usually announced a displacement of the Virgin.
She got up, and without saying anything went into the room, followed
instinctively by M. Bossuet. The Virgin was balancing herself on
the edge of the bracket. M. Bossuet, quickly understanding what was
happening, cried out in admiration, ‘_Mon Dieu!_ how glad I am to have
seen such a thing!’

M. Bossuet is dead now; who can say whether he has found the solution
of the problem which engages us?

I took advantage of this incident to ask why the Virgin had moved
during M. Bossuet’s visit, since it was told me that these favours were
exclusively reserved for the household.

‘I choose my company,’ replied the spirit, ‘and I had to reward M.
Bossuet for having patiently reproduced the features of Christ in some

I do not know if it be true—though many have since assured me it is
true—that M. Bossuet was the author of such a work. I confine myself,
as a faithful reporter, to recording the reply which was given me.

Our house had one inconvenience—a very disagreeable one in winter—that
of obliging the maid to cross the garden in order to open the gate for
the milkman, who rang every morning at daybreak.

We were looking for a combination which might enable us to avoid this
inconvenience, when our kind protector came to our aid.

This fact is one of the most curious of our long series of surprising

Henceforth, when the milkman’s cart stopped at the gate and before he
rang, a mysterious power shot back the bolt in the lock. Then the gate
opened, and the milkman placed on the window-sill the jug of milk,
which the domestic took in later on.

Perhaps the milkman thought a special mechanism allowed us to open the
door. However that may be, his imagination was evidently at work, for
he was heard to say aloud, when getting into his cart, ‘All the same,
this is a very queer house.’

Sometimes, after having attended vespers either at Sainte-Croix or at
the Vieillards, we used to take a long walk, and often we returned home
tired and impatient to sit down and rest a while.

So that we might not have to wait, an invisible hand used to knock at
the door before we arrived there.

This fact could not be hidden, and our neighbour, Madame Pardeau, in a
good position for observation, laughed at the attentions shown us.

At about this time there was a strange substitution, one which would,
henceforth, render the intervention of the somnambulist unnecessary.
Madame Vergniat and I were returning home after visiting Talence. On
the way, my wife turned round quickly, saying: ‘Some one has just
called me: twice I heard a voice say, “Héloïse! Héloïse!”’

From that day forth, Madame Vergniat asked questions mentally and a
foreign voice answered them.

Very soon the voice took the initiative of conversations, and absorbing
Madame Vergniat’s faculties, spoke through her.

There was no being deceived; it was easy to recognise the same
benevolent spirit, which had only changed his dwelling-place, as it

The first recommendation given through Madame Vergniat was to cease
putting Marie to sleep. ‘Henceforth you will not be able to do so,
without incurring much unpleasantness.’

But my keen desire to see and to observe everything was so great, that
it got the better of this last advice, and I put the somnambulist
to sleep as usual. Ill came of it. To the charitable and benevolent
discourses succeeded a dishevelled language, which I thought I could
put an end to by awakening the somnambulist; but it was impossible to
do so.

She walked about the room with her eyes closed, crying out: ‘I will
wake up when it suits me to do so. I am here, and I want to stay just
because my staying annoys you.’ Then she tried to go out to walk about
in the garden, and I was obliged to lock the door.

This scene, which lasted for several hours, took away my wish for
further experimentation with Marie.

From that time, Marie was subjected to several ill-defined influences
during her ordinary sleep; she spoke aloud, sometimes she used serious
language; sometimes she seemed to be filled with mad joy. The former
depth and goodness in advice given through her had disappeared.

Moreover, I was amply compensated by the new situation which rendered
the somnambulist’s intervention unnecessary, and I thought no further
of risking the disagreeable scene of which I have spoken. I may even
say that all magnetic attempts and experiments with Marie ended here.
There was no further question of them.

Sometimes the spirit when consulted did not answer. Madame Vergniat
would then say, ‘I speak to him, but he does not reply.’ But he never
kept us waiting very long.

The spirit often announced his departure. ‘If you have something to ask
me, or to tell me,’ he would say, ‘be quick, because I am obliged to
go away, and will only be able to return to-morrow at such and such a

And, until the time indicated had arrived, all questioning was useless.
There were no replies.

Hundreds of times I had had occasion of verifying the exactness of
information furnished by means of Marie; but it remained to me to find
out if the information given by the new channel had the same value.

I had not long to wait before attaining certitude in that respect.

It was on a winter’s evening, the night was pitch dark, it was pouring
in torrents. Returning home from business, the maid came to tell me
that a small Havanese dog, which a neighbour had kindly given us, had
gone astray. As I said, the weather was fearful, and we could not
think of going out to search for the tiny animal. But, as I appeared
to be troubled about the matter, Madame Vergniat, who so far had
said nothing, raised her head, and addressing me in the peculiar way
which announced an official communication, said, ‘So you were really
attached to that little animal! Very well! do not be sad, you will
find it again. I see it; a workman is holding it under his jacket in a
hairdresser’s establishment in the Rue Bègles (the little hunchback).’

The information was precise; given by the somnambulist, I would not
have hesitated believing it; but I now needed further proof; therefore,
in spite of the weather, I went out in search of the dog. My quest
having led me to the hairdresser’s, I looked timidly in at the
window, when the hunchback perceived me, and called out: ‘Do you want
something, M. Vergniat?’ I replied, ‘If you should happen to hear that
a small Havanese dog has been found, be kind enough to let me know.’

A workman, who was in the shop, said: ‘Five minutes ago I held it in my
jacket trying to warm it. I had picked it up sopping wet, in a corner
of the street, where I dropped it again.’

Some few steps further off, I observed a white spot in the darkness. It
was Fleurette crouching down in the shelter of a doorway.

I returned home triumphantly, carrying the children’s happiness with
me, as well as the confirmation of the infallibility of our protector.
The influence of this power, which revealed itself as unlimited, will
be easily understood. Always gaining fresh ground by new supernatural
phenomena, its will entirely superseded ours. What in the beginning it
formulated as a desire, soon became an order. It paid attention to the
smallest details; designated the necessary provisions for the day and
fixed the prices thereof. If a more important purchase than usual had
to be made, he indicated the shop and price beforehand.

These facts gave rise to some curious incidents. Thus, for example,
when a shopkeeper charged too high a price. ‘Grand Father,’ always
at hand, used to whisper to Madame Vergniat, ‘Tell that woman her
goods only cost her such and such a price. Offer her so much. That is
sufficient profit....’

The shopkeeper, dumfounded, could not deny, and the bargain would be

I reveal all these facts without hesitation, persuaded that the study
of such persistent and varied manifestations may help to lift the
mysterious veil surrounding us. Moreover, why should I hesitate or keep
silent? Have I not seen? The more incomprehensible the facts may be,
the greater the duty to reveal them.

I will, perhaps, be accused of weakness by showing so much submission
to this occult power, which, however, only put forth the claim of
coming from God, and expressed none but honourable sentiments. To
my accusers, I will reply, ‘Go through the same trial, then I will
recognise your right to criticise.’

As for weakness, this was never one of my failings, unless I should
make an exception for the sentiment, which makes me bow before the
Master—a sentiment I mean to preserve.

I said my wife and I went regularly to vespers, sometimes at Talence,
sometimes at Sainte-Croix; but more often at the Vieillards.

I remember that once when gazing upon these latter poor creatures, ever
at the mercy of public charity, our mysterious guest confided to us:
‘Without my visit, my children, that fate might have been yours.’

In the beginning, I said I had promised to take the communion; I did
so with fervour, so profoundly had these mysterious facts impressed
me; I carried submission to the extent of giving up theatres, and all
amusements, obeying the express desire of the unknown.

To make up for this, I was permitted to join every pilgrimage.

One morning, as I was starting for my office, Madame Vergniat, with
an inspired air, dictated the following order to me: ‘You must send a
telegram to Paris this morning, bidding the agents to sell out 6000
francs worth of French stock at 3 per cent., and buy in 10,000 francs
of Italian stock.’ He added: ‘Did I not tell you, that when it would
please me to impose an obligation upon you, it would never be at your
own expense? Now, I have need of a few thousand francs, the use of
which I will point out to you when the time comes.’

In spite of the strange things I had already seen, I was bewildered.
Madame Vergniat, although the wife of a stockbroker, had never
interested herself in business affairs, and was absolutely ignorant of
financial combinations.

The terms used to dictate the transaction, indicated that the operation
was planned by a mind accustomed to this kind of business.

As the advice was not dangerous, and, in case of failure, would not
carry me very far, I telegraphed to Paris without hesitating. Before
I returned home in the evening, I had the reply, and wished to
communicate it to my mysterious client. ‘Useless,’ he said to me, ‘I
know it.’

I took advantage of this circumstance of talking business with him,
with the object of finding out just how far the spirit’s knowledge, in
matters of speculation, went.

‘Do you know,’ I said to him, ‘that your transaction is founded on two
liquidations. The Italian stock is in liquidation for the 15th inst.,
and the 3 per cent. for the end of the month.’

‘I did it purposely. The Italian will be liquidated first, for the
profits thereof are urgently required. Whoever procures the French
stock for the end of the month is destined to offer a present to his
daughter. I will give you a few instructions on this subject.’

I risked the question: ‘You then believe in the rise of the Italian and
fall of the French stock?’

‘Your Father is not one who doubts, who believes, or who only hopes; He
is always sure, because He is the Master.’

From the day the exchange transaction was made, the two contrary
movements, favourable to the arbitration, were not belied; and (an
important fact to take note of) every morning, with mathematical
precision, the unknown predicted the stock-list which the telegraph
only brought at four o’clock in the afternoon.

I wish to insist upon this fact, because some people seem to question
the spirits’ possibility of foretelling the future.

Always preoccupied in studying these facts, I sometimes asked, the
evening before, what the rate would be the following day. ‘I cannot
tell you before to-morrow morning. I have need of the night to gather
my information.’

One day, there was a difference of a farthing between the rate
predicted in the morning, and the official rate received at four
o’clock. When I made the remark, the unknown said to me: ‘It was a bad
head who rang down the changes at the stroke of the bell.’ The spirit
evidently even possessed the slang of the stockbrokers’ ring.

Seeing so much penetration, I meekly asked if he could be useful to me
in my own business. He replied: ‘I did not come for that; my visit has
another object in view; nevertheless I think I can be useful to you,
and when the opportunity occurs, I will not forget.’

This declaration seemed to contradict the first one. At the outset of
these manifestations, the ‘Master’s‘ blessing assured the repose of
body, soul, and spirit: ‘No more worries for you: your Father is here
to turn them all aside.’ There was now a slight deviation which we
cannot help observing.

Let us, however, return to this power of penetration; it was such,
that, consulted upon the state of my cash-box, he at once told me how
much it contained. For him, it was mere child’s play to tell any one
the contents of their purse.

During the arbitration process, I sometimes asked him, ‘What profit
does your stock operation give you this evening?’ He mentioned it at
once, and, without omitting a farthing, he even counted brokerage and
the price of telegrams.

‘Your business affairs,’ said he, ‘should no longer trouble you, for
they are mine. I will look after them: you have only to obey, and to
satisfy me in order to be rewarded.

‘You may be sure that nothing would be easier for me than to load you
with riches any day; and, if I make you wait, it is because you made me
wait a long time before I was able to bring you to me.’

This is another remark which is not any clearer than the one I quoted a
little while ago.

Whilst the arbitration was proceeding favourably, the Virgin continued
her evolutions; however, they were soon to cease.

One afternoon she made some evolutions noisier than usual, and going
out of the house, went and placed herself upon some grape-vines in the

At that moment, one of our former servants, a girl named Caroline T...,
the same who was in our service when the nocturnal visit occurred,
happened to come up to the house; seeing the statue in the garden, she
and another servant decided to put it back again on its pedestal.

It was scarcely replaced when a violent rap resounded, and the Virgin
fell on the ground broken to pieces.

Great was Madame Vergniat’s grief when she heard of the accident.
I must own that I, too, was vexed. The debris were gathered up and
preserved with veneration for a long time.

But the pedestal remained vacant. Then the thought came to me of asking
our protector if it would be possible to find a similar statuette.

‘I will see about it to-night,’ he replied. The spirit often begged
me to leave him the night for reflection. He said it was then that he
found the necessary information.

The next day, faithful to his promise, he gave me the following
information: ‘There is, in Bordeaux, a Virgin like the one which is
broken. You will find it at a sculptor’s in the Rue Bouquière (a small
shop situated in a corner of the street). There is only that one
specimen, and the tradesman has no cast.’

I quickly took one of the fragments, and went to the Rue Bouquière.
I found the shop, and the tradesman told me he had a Virgin similar
to the one I desired, but that he had no cast of it. ‘I will look for
it, and you may come and fetch it this evening.’ The same evening I
returned to Malbec with the statuette which was going to stifle all

My arrival with the statuette was the occasion for another official
communication: ‘My son, that Virgin will be displaced. I will not tell
you where I shall carry it to; she herself will reveal it to you. Now,
as she will go very far away, you must put your name and address inside
the statuette.’ This was done.

Placed upon the pedestal, the new Virgin turned round three times the
day after her arrival; since that day she never stirred.

I do not know if she will ever go on this journey; in any case, she is
a long time making her preparations.

All the incidents touching the statuette end here: the circumstances of
the _année terrible_ caused it to pass into other hands.

We said that the stock transaction was going on better and better. And
with his facility to foretell the future, the unknown sold out the
Italian stock at the highest rate, whilst he waited for several days to
buy back his 3 per cent. favourably.

All this was done with astounding precision; with a power equal to his,
fortune was simply without bounds.

The profits of these two transactions amounted to about three thousand
francs. With the funds resulting from the liquidation of the 15th I
was given the mission to reserve one thousand francs for the father of
a large family. And the souvenir of this good action, for which, in a
way, I was but an agent, rejoices me still.

Other less important distributions were ordered to be made.

Finally, to crown everything, we were told to illuminate our garden in
honour of the Virgin.

The profits of the second liquidation followed afterwards, and gave
rise to a curious incident.

On pay-day, when the profits were at the disposition of the mysterious
spirit, he begged me to return to Bordeaux to buy a piano, which he
offered to my daughter. (This was the ‘present’ which had been spoken
of in the beginning of these bourse transactions.)

‘Go,’ he said, ‘to M. Caudéré’s, Allées de Tourny, No. 50, where you
will buy a second-hand piano; you will be asked six hundred and fifty
francs for it.’

Upon making the remark that I needed precise indications in order to
avoid all confusion, he replied: ‘It is not necessary. I will be there
to see that they offer you the piano I want. You will not be obliged to
bargain, for the price is less than the value of the instrument.’

How could I resist the commands of such a kind-hearted friend, whose
power seemed to have no other limit than that of his will?

Moreover, was it my province to discuss the manner of employing money
which did not belong to me?

Therefore I arrived at Allées de Tourny. Madame Caudéré was alone in
the shop. I followed my instructions, and was offered a second-hand
piano for six hundred francs. It was fifty francs below the stated
price. I hesitated taking it, but, remembering his own words, ‘_I will
be there_,’ I concluded the bargain on the express condition that
the instrument might be delivered the same evening, according to our
benefactor’s will.

I arrived home quickly, impatient to have an explanation concerning the
fifty francs.

It was the first time I had observed an irregularity, and as my
submission was only the result of an infallibility which, until then,
had never been belied, the absolute and regular continuation of these
facts was required in order to keep up that blind confidence which
already impaired so seriously my free will.

It was with almost a triumphant air I announced that the piano had only
cost six hundred francs.

‘I know it,’ said the unknown; ‘but Madame made a mistake.’

On the morrow, when settling the account, the shopkeeper said to me:
‘You got a bargain yesterday; my wife made a mistake in selling you for
six hundred francs a piano I had fixed at six hundred and fifty.’

Absorbed in these supernatural incidents, I did not think of replying.
I walked slowly home wrapped in thought. I related to the mysterious
being what had happened to me at the piano-shop.

If my mystical preoccupations had made me forget my duty for an
instant, he was not long in recalling it to me.

‘I apprised you of it,’ he answered. I understood, and brought back the
fifty francs to the tradesman, not caring to benefit by a mistake.

At that time my daughter’s musical knowledge was limited to the ‘_Bon
Roi Dagobert_,’ and yet, when she sat down to the piano, her fingers,
yielding to some mysterious influence, moved involuntarily over the
piano, and played unknown airs whose accompaniments were in accordance
with all the rules of harmony.

Convinced that the child was playing from memory, the pianoforte-tuner
complimented her upon her musical dispositions.

This phenomenon was only produced three or four times; it is true, I
always took care to take the child away from the piano as soon as I
suspected the approach of the influence.

The stock transaction accomplished, other business, patronised and
advised by the protector, succeeded as well as the first. The object
was always charity. These operations were not important; but for all
that, their results increased the importance of the help every day.

The spirit had reserved to himself the right of designating the persons
he wished to help. Sometimes he indicated the name, but more often he
confined himself to mentioning the street, the number, and flat.

I remember one Sunday, while breakfasting, I was suddenly told to go
_immediately_ and visit a family living in a tiny house behind the
Rue François-de-Sourdis. It was a long way off, and notwithstanding
the indications given me, I went up and down several streets in that
quarter of the town in vain, and I returned without having been able to
fulfil my mission.

‘You must go back again,’ said the unknown, ‘and before breakfasting;
for you yourself can wait; but it is not the same there, where the
children are hungry...!’

Every morning, when leaving home to go to my office, I was commissioned
to do a good work. ‘In such and such a street, at such and such a
number and flat, at the door to the right, etc., lives a widow; you
will give her five francs, or ten francs, and so forth....’

In the beginning, fearing to be led astray, these missions made me feel
rather uncomfortable, especially when he sent me to places where there
was no apparent misery; but he never made a mistake.

To provide for these distributions, and carry out certain religious
projects, which he acknowledged to me—such, for example, as the
erection of a chapel on the ground of ‘Malbec,’ in order to perpetuate
the memory of his visit—to provide, I say, for so much expense, he
considerably increased the figure of his operations.

It is true that an affair undertaken by his order always the same
evening gave good results. And it was necessary it should be rigorously
so, if he wished to maintain the blind confidence he seemed so desirous
of preserving.

It was then that he changed his tactics. Instead of taking his profits
at each liquidation, he now opposed himself to any realisation

In the face of such a dangerous system, I timidly risked some remarks:—

‘No one could guide me better than you do, and I would be already
_too rich_ if, as before, you took advantage of every fluctuation of
the market, instead of opposing yourself to the realisation of the
profits. It is true there is a large margin on your purchases, but our
prosperity is only artificial, since it is but the result of recharges
and not of liquidated operations. That is to say, by this system we are
constantly laying ourselves open to emergencies.’

It was also under this mysterious inspiration that I then took an
engagement to buy out the interest of my sleeping partners.

Always under the same guidance, our business affairs rapidly created an
opulent position for me. The upward movement of stocks continued, and
if at times a slight reaction arose, it could only touch a small part
of the profits already acquired, and constantly carried over.

The dangerous system of non-realisation, we see, had not been abandoned.

I often complained.

It was thus that on the 1st January 1870 (a Sunday, I think), the
_Coulisse_ having quoted on the boulevards 75·05 francs, and this
rate assuring us a profit of 30,000 francs on one affair alone, I
implored him to consent to realising. He refused energetically, saying,
‘Money-jobbing does not suit me, I have put you in a position which
will be your last affair.’ Moreover, he affected a great dislike to
my profession, saying he desired to see me leave it as speedily as

Sometimes the spirit dropped certain exclamations, aside, as it were,
the most frequent of which was, ‘_What a struggle!_’

I paid no attention to this, and it was only after the tragic
_dénouement_ of this affair that the souvenir of these exclamations,
although so frequently repeated, came back to my memory.

The circumstances which follow sadly demonstrate that during two and
a half years the aim, so patiently followed, was simply to bribe my
confidence with strange revelations, and to keep me under his thumb.

This result obtained, he had only to use influence in order to keep me
in a position whose importance could not help being fatal, in view of
coming events, and which the unknown’s power of penetration permitted
him to foresee.

It was in the midst of all this, in a way, borrowed prosperity, since
it only resulted from non-realised operations, that I took possession
of my new residence, Rue d’Enghien, No. 11.

For several months, although it was impossible for stock to rise above
seventy-five francs, faithful to his system, the unknown refused to
sell out.

It was therefore necessary to continue. But could I complain if funds
remained stationary? The profits entered into cash as a consequence of
the rise of stocks, which seemed a sufficient guarantee against any
event whatsoever.

Moreover, it seemed to me mean to reproach him with not giving me more,
when I owed him already such unhoped-for prosperity.

My tranquillity was, therefore, absolute when complications with
Germany broke out. Then, from the first day, I wished to liquidate.

‘There, are your fears beginning again as at the time of the Luxembourg
incident? Believe him who is the Master, and who for nearly three years
has never deceived you.’

Notwithstanding his affirmations, two days afterwards war was decided,
and in taking possession of the telegraph lines, the light-hearted
minister put the finishing-stroke to my ruin, for it placed me in the
impossibility of communicating, and therefore of limiting my loss.

Whatever may be the danger of a struggle, we succumb with less regret
when we have fought on equal terms; but here, without speaking of the
strange circumstances, the suppression of telegraphic communication
placed me in the position of a man bound hand and foot, who is thrown
into the sea and reproached for not swimming.

In this critical moment, the unknown was absolutely dumb. He answered
none of the questions I asked him. And yet the situation was most
critical; for twenty years of labour disappeared into the gulf, and,
moreover, to this material loss was added the grief of being forced to
remain separated from my daughter, who was dangerously ill.

A last explanation took place: ‘There, then,’ I said to him, ‘here is
what you have brought me to, and I do not know who you are; I only know
that you have appealed to honourable sentiments, in order to make me
your dupe, and that you have not hesitated using the name of God when
laying your snares.’

I was too irritated to heed his reply; and I have only a vague souvenir
of the word ‘_trials_’ faltered out in answer to my upbraidings.

Thus ends this long and sad ‘story.’

       *       *       *       *       *

I have given this curious self-observation _in extenso_. The
personification is liable to errors which may be dangerous if we
abandon ourselves to its direction, as too many people are tempted to

The extraordinary facts with which Madame Vergniat’s life was filled
are not confined to those just related; she appears to have possessed
supernormal faculties right up to the last. It might be of considerable
interest if her family would give a detailed account of her life.

  Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
  at the Edinburgh University Press

Transcriber’s note

Words in italics have been surrounded with _underscores_, some bold
letters with =signs=, and small capitals were changed to all capitals.

A few missing page numbers were added to the table of Contents, but
other omissions and inconsistencies were preserved.

Some missing punctuation has been corrected, also the following
changes were made, on page

   24 under point 6 “a” changed to “d” ((_d_) Lastly, the most


   95 “is” changed to “are” (Phenomena are often forthcoming)

  368 “Phenomenon” changed to “Phenomena” (Phenomena of the same

Otherwise the original was preserved, including inconsistent spelling
and hyphenation and possible errors in languages other than English.
Additional: Mallbranche, on page 429, should probably be Malebranche.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Metapsychical Phenomena - Methods and Observations" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.