Apparitions of the spirit of persons in the flesh
114. Bi-corporeity and transfiguration are Varieties of the order of visual manifestations; and, strange as they may at first appear, it will be easily seen, from the explanation we are enabled to give of them, that they are not outside the order of natural phenomena. Both are consequences of the principle that what is true of the properties of the perispirit after death is true of the perispirit of people in the flesh. We have seen that, during sleep, the spirit recovers a portion of its normal freedom, because it partially isolates itself from the body; a state in which we have often had the opportunity of observing it. The spirit, whether a man be alive or dead, possesses at all times its semi-material envelope, which, through the action of the same causes that we have already set forth, may temporarily acquire both visibility and tangibility. Unquestionable facts have removed all doubt on this point. We will only adduce here a few cases for which we can vouch, from our own personal knowledge; but many of our readers will probably be able to recall analogous facts, by consulting their memory.
115. The wife of a friend of ours frequently saw entering her chamber, during the night, whether she had a light or not, a woman who sold fruit in her neighbourhood, whom she knew by sight, but to whom she had never spoken. This apparition terrified her all the more, because at that time she knew nothing of spiritism, and because the vision frequently recurred. The fruitseller was not only in the flesh when these apparitions took place, but was probably in bed and asleep at the moment of their occurrence. While her material body was at home. her spirit and her fluidic body were in this lady's room; moved by what motive we cannot say. In such a case a spiritist, acquainted with the subject of apparitions, would have asked her visitant what she wanted ; but, as the lady in question knew nothing of such things, the idea of doing so never entered her mind. Each time the apparition occurred, it vanished without her knowing how; and, after each disappearance, she assured herself that all the doors were perfectly closed, and that no one could have entered the room: a precaution which proved to her that she had been really awake, and was not under the influence of a dream. At other times, this lady saw, in the same way, a man whom she did not know; but, one day she saw her brother, who was then in California. He had so exactly the appearance of a real person, that, at first, she thought he must have returned, and was about to speak to him; but he disappeared before she had time to do so. A letter afterwards received showed that he was not dead. This lady was what may be called a natural seeing medium ; but, at this time, as we said before, she had never heard that mediums existed.
116. Another lady, who lives in a country town, being seriously ill, saw, one night about ten o'clock, in her bedroom, an old gentleman, an inhabitant of the same town, whom she sometimes met in society, but with whom she was but very slightly acquainted. This gentleman was sitting in an armchair, at the foot of her bed ; he took, from time to time, a pinch of snuff, and looked as though he were watching her. Surprised at such a visit, at such an hour, she was about to ask him the motive of his coming, but he made a sign to her not to speak, and to go to sleep; several times she was about to speak to him, but, each time, he renewed the signal, and, at last, she fell asleep. Some days afterwards, having recovered from her illness, she received a visit from the same gentleman, but at a more suitable hour, and, this time, it was really he; he wore the same clothes, carried the same snuff-box, and his manner was just as before. Persuaded that he had visited her during her illness, she thanked him for his kindness in coming to her; but the gentleman, much surprised, told her that he had not had the pleasure of seeing her for a long time. The lady, who was cognisant of spirit-phenomena, saw at once what had occurred; but, not caring to enter into explanation of the matter, contented herself with saying that she had probably been dreaming.
"As was no doubt the case!" the incredulous will say; but it is certain that this lady was not asleep, any more than the one first mentioned. If she had been dreaming, she must therefore have been dreaming when wide awake; in other words, she must have been labouring under an hallucination. What a glorious word that is! What a comprehensive explanation of everything that we do not comprehend ! As we have already sufficiently refuted this objection, we will continue to address ourselves to those who are able to understand us.
117. Here is a fact still more characteristic; and one which we should be curious to see explained by the theory of an excited imagination.
A gentleman, living in the country, would never marry, notwithstanding the persuasions of his family. They were very anxious that he should form an alliance with a lady, living in a neighbouring town, whom he had never seen. one day, while in his bedroom, he was struck with astonishment at seeing before him a young girl, dressed in white, with a wreath of flowers on her head. She informed him that she was betrothed to him, and held out her hand, which he took in his, and on which he saw an engagement-ring. A few moments afterwards, she vanished. Taken aback by this strange occurrence, and having assured himself that he was quite awake, he asked the people of the house if any one had come in during the day; but they assured him that they had seen no one. A year afterwards, yielding to the renewed solicitations of his relations, he made up his mind to go and see the young lady who had been so strongly recommended to him. He arrived in the town where she lived on the day of the "Fête-Dieu;" all the townsfolk were returning from the procession, and one of the first persons he saw, on entering the dwelling of the young lady's family, was a young girl whom he instantly recognised as the person who had appeared to him a year before. She was dressed just as he had seen her, for the apparition, we should have stated, took place on the "Fête-Dieu" of the preceding year. He was struck dumb with amazement; the young lady, on catching sight of him, uttered a cry of surprise and fainted. On recovering consciousness, she declared that she had already seen the gentleman, on that very day, the year before. The acquaintance, so strangely begun, ended in a marriage. All this occurred about the year 1835, before spiritism had been heard of; and besides, both the gentleman and the lady were extremely prosaic, matter-of-fact people, with imaginations as little excitable as could well be conceived of.
It will perhaps be surmised that these persons may have had their minds filled with the idea of the proposed union between them, and that this pre-occupation produced an hallucination in both of them ; but we must not forget that, on the husband's side, indifference had been the predominant feeling, and that it was not until a year after the apparition had occurred, that he made up his mind to go and see the young lady in question.
Those who would explain the matter as being a case of hallucination are hound to explain the double apparition (for the young lady also saw the gentleman the year before), the coincidence of the festival-day and of the costume, and the mutual recognition of the parties; circumstances which could not be the product of the imagination.
118. Before going farther, we must reply to a question that will certainly be asked, viz., How Can the body live while the spirit is absent? We reply, that it is possible for the body to live with only the organic life, which is independent of the spirits presence. But we must add, that, during earth-life, the spirit is never completely detached from the body. Spirits, as well as certain seeing mediums, perceive that the spirit of one in the flesh, when away from the body, is united to it by a luminous trail, which reaches to the body a phenomenon which never occurs when the body is dead, for then the separation is complete. It is by this channel of communication that the spirit is instantaneously informed, however far away he may be, of the need which the body may have of his presence and he then returns to the body with the swiftness of lightning.* It follows, therefore, that the body can never die during the spirit's absence, and that the spirit, on his return, can never find the door of his fleshly habitation closed against him, as some romancers have pretended in their imaginary tales. (See Spirits’ Book, No. 400, et seq.)