234. Can animals be mediums ? This question has often been asked, and certain facts would seem to answer it affirmatively. The remarkable signs of intelligence displayed by some trained birds have given credit to this opinion ; they have seemed to divine the thought, and draw from a pack of cards those that would give the exact answer to the question proposed. We have observed these experiments with very particular care, and have most admired the art displayed in their in struction. We cannot refuse them a certain degree of relative intelligence ; but it must be conceded that, in this case, their perspicacity greatly surpassed that of man, for no one could flatter himself to be able to do as they do ; for some experiments, it would even be necessary to suppose them to be endowed with a gift of second sight, superior to that of the most clearseeing somnambulists. We know their lucidity is es sentially variable, and that it is subject to frequent intermissions, while with these birds it would be per manent, and work up to a given point with a regu larity and precision not seen in any somnambulist ; in a word, they were never at fault. Most of the experi ments that we have seen are of the nature of those of jugglers, and could leave us no doubt of the employ ment of some of their methods, notably that of forced cards. The art of legerdemain consists in concealing these methods, without which the effect would have no charm. The phenomenon, even reduced to this proportion, is not the less very interesting, and the talent of the instructor is as admirable as the intelli gence of the pupil ; for the difficulty is much greater than if the bird acted by virtue of his own faculties : now, in making the birds do things that pass the limit of the possible for human intelligence, is to prove by that alone the employment of a secret process.
There is, besides, one certain fact —that these birds reach this degree of skill only at the end of a certain time, and by means of particular and persevering cares, which would not be necessary if their intelligence was the only thing. It is no more extraordinary to train them to draw cards than to accustom them to repeat tunes or words. It has been the same when the leger demain has attempted to imitate second sight ; they made the subject do too much to be of long duration. From the first time that we were at a stance of this kind, we saw only a very imperfect imitation of somnambulism, revealing ignorance of the most essential conditions of this faculty.
235. Whatever there may be in the above experiments, the principal question remains none the less entire in another point of view ; for even as the imita tion of somnambulism prevents not the existence of the faculty, so the imitation of mediums, by means of birds, proves nothing against the possibility of an analogous faculty in them and in other animals. The thing is, to know if animals are fit, like men, to serve as intermediaries to spirits, for intelligent communica tions. It even seems logical enough to suppose that a living creature, endowed with a certain degree of intelligence, should be more suitable to this effect than an inert body without vitality, like a table, for instance ; yet it is what does not happen.
236. The question of the medianimity of animals is completely solved in the following dissertation given by a spirit whose depth and sagacity may be appreciated by the quotations we have already had occasion to make. To be entirely aware of the value of his demonstration, it is only necessary to refer to the ex planation he has given of the rdle of the medium in communications, and which we have given above. (No. 225.)
This communication was given at the end of a discussion that took place, on this subject, in the Paris Society for Spirit Studies.
" I touch, to-day, upon the question of medianimity in animals, raised and sustained by one of your most fervent believers. He contends, by virtue of this axiom, ' He who can do the most can do the least ; ' that we can medianimize birds, and use them in our communications with mankind. This is what you call, in philosophy, or, rather, in logic, purely and simply a sophism. ' You animate,' says he, ' inert matter ; that is, a table, a chair, a piano ; afortiori,, you should animate matter already animated, and notably birds.' Well, in the normal state of Spiritism, this is not, and it cannot be.
" First, let us look well at our facts. What is a medium ? It is the being, the individual, who serves as point of union to the spirits, that they may easily communicate with men — incarnated spirits. Con sequently, without a medium, no communications, tangible, mental, scriptive, physical, nor any sort whatever.
" There is a principle which, I am sure, is admitted by all spiritists : it is that likes act with their likes and as their likes. Now, what are the likes of spirits, if not the incarnated or non-incarnated spirits. Must it be repeated to you constantly ? Well, I will repeat it again : your perisprit and ours are drawn from the same sphere, are of an identical nature, are like, in a word ; they possess a property of assimilation more or less developed, of magnetic action more or less vigorous, which allows us, spirits and incarnated, to put ourselves, very promptly and easily, en rapport. Finally, what specially pertains to mediums, what is even the essence of their individuality, is a special affinity, and at the same time a peculiar force of expansion, which annihilate in them all refractibility, and establish between them and us a sort of cur rent, a kind of fusion, which facilitates our' communi cations. It is this refractibility of matter which is opposed to the development of mediumship in most of those who are not mediums.
" Men are always prone to exaggerate. Some — I speak not here of materialists —refuse a soul to animals ; and some would give them one, so to speak, like our own. Why thus desire to confound the perfectible with the imperfectible ? No, no ; be convinced in this : the fire that animates the beasts, the breath that makes them act, move, and speak in their language, has no aptitude, as to the present, to be min gled, to be united, to be fused with the divine breath, the ethereal soul, the spirit which animates the being essentially perfectible — man; this king of the crea tion. Now, is it not this very essential condition of perfectibility in which consists the superiority of the human species ? Well, understand, then, that no indi vidual of the other races living on the earth can be compared with man, alone perfectible in himself, and in his works.
" Is the dog, whose superior intelligence among animals has made him the friend and companion of man, perfectible of his own head, and from his personal initiative ? No one would dare to sustain it, for the dog does not make his race progress ; the best trained among them is always trained by his master. Since the world has been a world, the otter has always built his hut on the water, of the same proportions, and according to an invariable rule ; the nightingales and the swallows have never constructed their nests other wise than as did their fathers.
" A sparrow's nest before the deluge is a sparrow's nest of to-day, is always a sparrow's nest ; built in the same conditions, and with the same system of interlacing blades of grass and rubbish, gathered in the spring, the season of love. The bees and ants, those little republican housekeepers, have never varied in their custom of laying up stores, in their mode of proceeding, in their manners, in their productions. The spider always weaves his web in the same way.
" On the other side, if you seek the thatched huts and the tents of the early ages of the earth, you will find in their place, the palaces and castles of modern civilization ; to the garments of skins have succeeded tissues of gold and silk ; .finally, at each step, you find the proofs of the incessant march of humanity towards progress.
" Of this constant, invincible, undeniable progress of the human species, and of this indefinite stationariness of the other animated species, conclude with me, that if there exist principles common to all that live and move on the earth, breath and matter, it is none the less true that you alone, incarnated spirits, are sub jected to that inevitable law of progress which presses you incessantly forward, and always forward. God has placed the animals by your side as auxiliaries, to nourish, to clothe, to help you. He has given them a certain degree of intelligence, because, in order to aid you, they must understand ; and He has proportioned their intelligence to the services they are called upon to render ; but, in His wisdom, He has not meant they should be subjected to the same law of progress ; such as they were created, such they have remained, and will remain until the extinction of their races.
" It has been said, The spirits medianimize inert mat ter, and make it move chairs, tables, pianos ; make it move, yes ; but medianimize it, no ! For, still again, without a medium not one of these phenomena could be produced. What is there extraordinary in the fact that by the help of one or several mediums we move inert or passive matter, which, by reason of its very passivity, its inertia, is proper to undergo the movement and impulsions we wish to impress upon it ? For that we need mediums —that is certain ; but it is not necessary that the medium be present, or conscious, for we can act with the elements he furnishes, unknown to him, and without his presence ; above all, in the facts of tangibility and materialization. Our fluidic envelope, more imponderable and more subtile than the most subtile and most imponderable of your gases, uniting, wedding, combining with the fluidic but animalized envelope of the medium, and whose property of expansion and penetrability cannot be grasped by your gross senses, and is almost inexplica ble to you, allows us to move furniture, and even to break it, in inhabited places.
" Certainly spirits can make themselves visible and tangible to animals, and often some sudden fright they have, and which seems to you motiveless, is caused by the sight of one or several of these spirits ill-inten tioned to the individuals present, or to those to whom the animals belong. Very often you see horses who will neither advance nor go back, or who rear up at an imaginary obstacle. Well, take it for certain that the imaginary obstacle is often a spirit, or group of spirits, who are pleased to hinder his advance.
" Recollect Balaam's ass, who, seeing an angel before her, and fearing his flaming sword, would not stir ; before visibly manifesting himself to Balaam, the angel wished to be visible to the animal alone ; but, I repeat, we medianimize directly neither animals nor inert matter ; the concurrence, either conscious or uncon scious, of a human medium is always necessary, and this we can find neither in animals nor in inert matter.
" M. T. has, he says, magnetized his dog. What happened ? He killed him, for the miserable animal died after falling into a kind of atony, of languor, in consequence. Indeed, in filling him with a fluid taken from an essence superior to that special to his nature, he crushed him, — acted on him, though more slowly, in the manner of the thunderbolt. Then, as there is no assimilation possible between our perisprit and the fluidic envelope of animals, proper, we should crush them instantly by medianimizing them.
" This established, I perfectly recognize among animals the existence of various aptitudes ; that certain passions, identical with human passions and sentiments, are developed in them ; that they are feeling and grateful, vindictive and hating, according as they are well or ill treated. It is because God, who makes nothing incomplete, has given to animals, companions and servants of man, qualities of sociability that are utterly wanting in wild animals. But from thence to being able to serve as intermediaries for the transmis sion of spirit thought, there is a gulf — the difference of natures.
" You know we draw in the brain of the medium the elements necessary to give to our thought a perceptible form, one that you can grasp : it is by the aid of the material he possesses that the medium translates our thought into ordinary language : well, what element would you find in the brain of an animal ? Are there words, numbers, letters, any signs whatever, similar to those existing with man, even the least intelligent ? Yet, you will say, animals understand man's thought ; they even divined. Yes, trained animals understand certain thoughts ; but have you ever seen them reproduce them ? No ; conclude, then, that animals cannot serve us as interpreters.
"To recapitulate : medianimic facts cannot be manifested without the conscious or unconscious concurrence of mediums, and it is only among the incarnated, spirits like ourselves, that we can meet with those who can serve us as mediums. As to dogs, birds, or other animals, trained to certain exercises, that is your business, and not ours. Erastus."