54. Numerous observations, and unanswerable facts, of which we shall speak
further on, have led us to this conclusion, viz., that there exist in man three things 1st,
the soul or spirit, the intelligent principle in which resides the moral sense; 2nd, the
body, a gross material envelope, with which the soul is temporarily clothed, for the
accomplishment of certain Providential ends; 3rd, the perispirit, a fluidic envelope,
which is semi-material, and constitutes the link between the soul and the body.
Death is the destruction, or rather the disaggregation, of the grosser envelope,
from which the soul withdraws itself; the other envelope disengages itself from the
grosser one, and accompanies the soul; so that the soul always possesses
an envelope. This latter, fluidic, ethereal, vaporous, and invisible to us in its normal
state, is none the less matter, although, up to the present time, we have not been able to
seize it, so as to submit it to analysis.
This inner envelope of the soul, or perispirit, exists, then. during our corporeal
life; it is the go-between or intermediary for all the sensations experienced by the spirit,
the means by which the spirit acts upon its fleshly organs and transmits its will to all
that is exterior to itself. To employ a comparison borrowed from matter, it is the
electric conducting-wire which serves for the transmission of thought it is, in short, that
mysterious, inexplicable agent which we call the nervous fluid, and which plays so
important a part in the human economy, but of which we take too little account in our discussion of
physiological and pathological questions. Medical students, confining their researches
to the material and ponderable elements, leave out of their calculations an incessant
cause of vital action, the recognition of which would throw a flood of light on the facts
with which they deal. But this is not the place to enter upon this highly important
subject ; we would merely point out, in passing, that a knowledge of the perispirit is the
key to a host of physiological and physical problems, until now unexplained.
The perispirit is not one of those mere hypotheses to which science sometimes
finds it necessary to have recourse, in order to explain a fact; its existence has not only
been revealed by spirits, but is proved by observation, as we shall show further on. For
the present, and not to anticipate facts which will be brought forward in due time, we
confine ourselves to saying that, whether during its union with its fleshly body, or after
its disjunction therefrom, the soul is never separated from its perispirit.