58. The peculiar nature of the soul, properly so called, that is to say, of the
thinking being, is entirely unknown to us : it only reveals itself by its acts, and these
strike our material senses, unless through a material intermediary. The spirit, then, has
need of matter, in order to act upon matter He has, as his direct instrument, his
perispirit, just as a man has his body ; and this perispirit is matter, as we are about to
show. He has, as his intermediary agent, the universal fluid ; a sort of vehicle on which
he acts, as we act upon the air, in order to produce certain effects, by the aid of
expansion, compression, propulsion, or vibration.
The action of a spirit on matter is easily understood when thus explained; and
we see that all the effects produced by that action belong to the order of natural pheno-
mena, and have nothing of the miraculous about them. They have only appeared to be
supernatural, because people were ignorant of their cause ; their cause known, they no
longer appear to be prodigies, and that cause is found in the semimaterial properties of
the perispirit. All this is only a new order of facts, explained by a new law, and about
which, ere long, people will feel no more wonder than they now feel at correspondence
by the electric telegraph.