Allan Kardec

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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.

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