71. The employment of the letters of the alphabet, though a very important step
in advance, was still but a slow and roundabout method of communication; but it
nevertheless soon came into general use, and many highly interesting revelations
concerning the invisible world were thus obtained. But the spirits themselves speedily
suggested other means of communication, and, by their directions, the practice of
writing was next brought into use.
The first written communications were obtained by attaching a pencil to the foot
of a toy-table, placed upon a sheet of paper. The table, set in motion by the influence of
a medium, began by tracing letters, then words and phrases. This method was
successively simplified, first, by making use of light baskets, boxes made of cardboard,
and planchettes; and next, by finding that these objects were mere pencil-holders, and
might all be dispensed with, and the pencil held the usual way, in the hand, which,
moved and guided by an involuntary impulsion, was made to write, without the
concurrence either of the will or of the thought of the medium. Thenceforth,
communication was held as freely with the world of spirits as with people in the flesh.
We shall discuss the different methods of communication, explaining them in
detail, in another part of the present work; we have only wished, in this rapid sketch, to
record the succession of facts which have gradually led up to a recognition of the
intervention of unseen intelligences, otherwise called "spirits," in the production of the
phenomena we are considering.