3. All this, it is true, is only a theory, though one that is more rational than other
theories ; but it is something to possess a theory that is not in contradiction with reason
or science, and if, moreover, this theory is corroborated by facts, it must be admitted
that our position has the double sanction of reason and experience. Such corroborating
facts we assert to be furnished by the phenomena of spirit-manifestation, which
constitute the irrefragable proofs of the existence and the survival of the soul. With many persons, however, belief ends here;
they readily admit the existence of souls, and consequently that of spirits, but they
deny the possibility of holding communication with them, "because," they say, "
immaterial beings cannot act upon matter." This denial proceeds from ignorance of the
real nature of spirits, about which the world in general holds exceedingly false ideas,
erroneously regarding them as abstract beings, as something vague and indefinite;
which is a great mistake.
Let us, in the first place, consider the spirit in reference to its union with the
body. The spirit is the principal being, because it is that which thinks, and which
survives the body, the latter being only an envelope, a vestment, of gross matter, that
the spirit throws off when it is worn out but, besides this material envelope, the spirit
has a second envelope, which is semi-material, and which unites it to the first at death,
the spirit casts off the first, but retains the second, to which we give the name
This semi-material envelope, which has the human form, constitutes, for the
spirit, a vaporous, fluidic body, which, though invisible to us in its normal state,
nevertheless possesses some of the properties of matter. A spirit is therefore not a
mathematical point, an abstraction, but is a real being, limited and circumscribed, and
lacking only the qualities of visibility and palpability to show its resemblance to human
beings. Why then should it not act on matter? Is it because its body is fluidic? But is it
not among the most rarified fluids, those which we call "imponderable," as electricity,
for example, that man finds his most powerful motors? Does not imponderable light
exercise a chemical action on ponderable matter? We do not understand the precise
nature of the perispirit but, supposing it to be formed of electrical matter, or of
something else equally subtle, why should it not have the same property of action as
electricity, when under the direction of a will?
* See Vocabulary.