THE SPIRITIST REVIEW - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1858

Allan Kardec

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The painting medium from the USA
Extracted from the Spiritualist of New Orleans


Not everybody can be convinced by the same type of spiritist manifestations, thus the need for the development of mediums of many kinds. In the USA there are those who draw pictures of people who have been deceased from a long time ago that they had never seen before. Sensible persons who witness those paintings promptly convert, since the similarities are immediately identified. The most remarkable of those mediums is perhaps Mr. Rogers who we have already mentioned *, a Columbus resident, tailor by profession, with no other professional habilitation.

Some educated men who have repeatedly said this about the spiritist manifestations: “Resorting to the spirits is nothing more than a hypothesis; an attentive examination demonstrates that it is not the most rational neither the likeliest”, to those, above all, we offer the following summary of a translated article published on July 27th last, by Mr. Lafayette R. Gridley, from Attica, Indiana, to the editors of the Spiritual Age, who have published the integral version in their August 14th edition.

“Last May, Mr. E. Rogers from Cardington, Ohio, a well-known painting medium that makes portraits of people who are no longer in this world, came to spend a few days in my house. During his short visit he was influenced by an invisible artist that used the name Benjamin West. He painted some beautiful life-sized portraits, as well as some others of somewhat inferior quality. Here are some particularities with respect to a couple of those portraits.

Mr. Rogers painted these portaits in my house in a dark room. There was a time when, during this event,the medium was under no influence. During this break that lasted about another hour and a half, I used this time to examine his work.. Then Rogers fell again in a state of trance, finalizing the paintings.

Although there had been no reference as to the individuals who were portrayed in the paintings, one of the pictures was immediately recognized as being my grandfather, Elias Gridley. My wife, my sister, Mrs. Chaney, followed by my father and my mother, all were unanimous in acknowledging the great similarity: it was a facsimile of the old man, with every detail of his vast hair, his shirt, etc.

As for the other portrait, none of us recognized it. I hung it on the wall in my store, visible to everyone, where it remained for a week without any identification. We expected that someone would tell us that it was from an old inhabitant of Greece. I had almost lost hope of identifying the person in the picture when in that afternoon, during a spiritist session that took place in my house, a spirit manifested giving me the following communication:

“My name is Horace Gridley. I have left my corporal body more than five years ago. I lived in Natchez, Mississippi, for several years, where I was the sheriff. My only daughter still lives there. I am your father’s cousin. You can get more information about me from your uncle, Mr. Gridley from Brownsville, Tennessee. The portrait that you have in your store is mine, from the time I lived on Earth, short before I passed on to this other existence, more elevated, better and happier. The picture resembles me, at least as much as I was able to return to the looks of that time, since that is indispensable while we are being portrayed. We do our best to remember that appearance, according to the conditions of the moment. The portrait in question is not finished as I wished it to be. There are some slight imperfections that Mr. West says are due to the condition of the medium. In spite of that send the picture to Natchez, so as it may be examined. I do believe they will identify it.”

The facts mentioned in this communication were completely ignored by me and by all inhabitants of the surroundings. Although many years ago I had once heard that my father had a relative on that side of the Mississippi, none of us knew his name, the place where he had lived; not even if he was alive. It was only several days later that I heard from my father, who lived in Delphi, forty miles from here, that it was the place of residence of his cousin, from whom he had hardly heard over the last sixty years.

We not even thought of requesting family pictures. I had just put a note, in front of the medium, with the names of about twenty former residents of Attica, from whom we wished to obtain the portraits.

Thus, any reasonable person would admit that neither the portrait, nor the communication of Horace Gridley, could be the result of our thoughts transmitted to the medium. As a matter of fact, Mr. Rogers has never known any of the persons that he portrayed and probably never heard about them, since he is an English man; he came to the USA ten years ago and has never traveled south beyond Cincinnati, while Horace Gridley, as far as I know, has never traveled north beyond Memphis, Tennessee, over the last thirty five years of his life. I ignore if he had ever visited England for one day, however this could have happened before Rogers’ birth, since he is not more than twenty eight to thirty years old. Regarding my grandfather, who died about nineteen years ago, he has never left the USA and he has never had a picture taken.

After receiving the communication above I wrote to Mr. Gridley, from Brownsville. His answer came to confirm what we had heard through the communication of the spirit. I also got the name of the only descendent of Horace Gridley, Mrs. L. M. Patterson, still residing in Natchez, where her father lived for many years. He died, according to my uncle, about six years ago, in Houston, Texas.

I then wrote to Mrs. Patterson, my recently found cousin, and sent her a daguerreotyped copy of the portrait, supposedly of her father. In the letter to my uncle of Brownsville I did not say anything about the main objective of my investigation, not saying anything to Mrs. Patterson either: the reason for sending her the picture or how I had obtained it or who the portrayed person was. I just asked my cousin if she recognized the image. Her response was that she could not say for sure but assured me that it resembled her father at the time of his death. Later I wrote again saying that we also thought it had been taken from her father, not telling her however how it had been obtained. My cousin’s response, in short, indicated that everybody had recognized her father in the picture, before I had told her who it actually represented. Nevertheless, she seemed really surprised that I had a picture of her father while she herself did not have any and that her father had never told her that he had a picture taken of him, from wherever. She always thought that there was no picture taken of her father and was really happy with my mail, particularly because of her children who had real veneration for the memory of their grandfather.

I then sent her the original painting, authorizing her to keep it, in case she liked it, but did not tell her how it was obtained. These are the main lines of her answer:

“I received your letter and the picture of my father which you allowed me to keep if I find that it does look like him. Truly, it is a lot like him, I will then keep this one for which I am very grateful to you, since I had never had any other image of him, although I think he was better looking when he was healthy.”

Before receiving the two last letters from Mrs. Patterson, and out of pure chance, Mr. Hedges, currently living in Delphi but who was an old resident of Natchez, and Mr. Ewing, recently arriving from Vicksburg, Mississippi, saw the picture and recognized it as being of Horace Gridley, with whom both had been acquainted.

I find these facts very significant to be left unknown; therefore I considered a duty to reveal them, so as to give them publicity. I assure you that when I was writing this article I took the utmost care with its absolute accuracy.”

NOTE: We already know the painting mediums. In addition to the remarkable drawings that we gave a sample of, but that represent things whose accuracy is impossible to verify, we have seen mediums, absolutely aliens to that art, executing before our eyes easily recognizable sketches of deceased persons that they had never met. But from there to a finely finished portrait, according to all rules, there is a great distance. Such a faculty is associated to a very curious phenomenon, which we are witnessing right now. We shall report that very soon.


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* Vol. I, page 239 of the “Spiritualist” of New Orleans

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