286.. Too much importance cannot be attached to the manner of putting questions, and still more to their nature. Two things are to be considered in those ad dressed to spirits —the form and the subject. As to the form, they should be compiled with clearness and precision, avoiding complexity. But there is another point not less important —the order that should pre side in their arrangement. When a subject requires a series of questions, it is essential that they be put together with method, so as to flow naturally into each other ; the spirits then answer much more readily and clearly than when they are put by chance, passing abruptly from one object to another. For this reason it is always best to prepare them in advance, intercalat ing those which, during a seance, are brought out by circumstances. The compiling is better done with the head quiet ; and this preparatory work is, as we have already said, a kind of anticipated invocation at which the spirit may have assisted, and be prepared to an swer. It will be remarked that, very often, the spirit answers by anticipation to certain questions, which proves him to have already known them.
The subject-matter of the question requires a still more serious attention, for it is often the nature of the request that draws forth a true or false reply ; there are those to which the spirits cannot or ought not to reply, from motives unknown to us : it is, therefore, useless to insist ; but what we should especially avoid are questions calculated to put their perspicacity to the proof. When a thing is, it is said they ought to know it ; but it is precisely because the thing is known to you, or that you have the means of verifying it for yourselves, that they do not give themselves the trouble of answering ; this suspicion annoys them, and nothing satisfactory is obtained.
Have you not daily examples of this with yourselves ? Would superior men, who are conscious of their value, answer all the foolish questions calculated to subject them to examination like scholars ? The desire of making a believer of such or such a person is not, for spirits, a motive for satisfying a vain curiosity ; they know that conviction will come sooner or later, and the means they employ to lead to it are not always those you think. Suppose a grave man, occupied with use ful and serious matters, incessantly harassed by the puerile questions of a child, and you will have an idea of what the superior spirits think of all the nonsense with which they are credited. It does not follow that very useful teachings and excellent advice may not be obtained from spirits ; but they answer according to the knowledge they themselves possess, according to the interest you deserve on their part and the affection they have for you, and according to the end proposed and the usefulness they see in the thing ; but if all our thoughts are limited to thinking them better fitted to teach us of the things of this world, they cannot have a very profound sympathy for us ; then they make visits very short or very often, according to the degree of their imperfection, evincing their annoyance for hav ing been uselessly troubled.