The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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Thilorier, the Physicist Thilorier was heavily involved with the search for a motor destined to replace the steam engine and he thought to have found it with the application of Carbon Acid that he had actually condensed. Steam was then considered as a gross and outdated means of transportation. The following article from the Patrie of September 22nd, 1859 illustrates that:


“If Thilorier found an incomparable power motor, the steam engine would be no more than a childish toy, he would still need to regulate its power, and he failed in his three or four tests. The explosions of the devices had seriously injured the martyr of Science, making him almost completely deaf.


Meanwhile, experiences with the condensation of Carbonic acid seemed to have been renovated at the College of France. Out of imprudence or dismal chance, the device broke and exploded, gravely hurting several people and taking the life of an assistant to Professor Thilorier, who also lost a finger.


He was not as sorry for his finger as he was for the negative publicity given to his newly found motor. Scientists were taken by fear and refused to give in to the naïve arguments of Thilorier: “The condensation device exploded twenty times in my hands and this is the first time that it killed someone! It has never gone beyond hurting me!” Only the name “Carbonic acid” was enough to keep the whole Institute away, not to mention the Sorbonne and the College of France.


Somewhat saddened by all that, Thilorier withdrew himself to his laboratory more than usual. His loved ones soon noticed the profound changes in his habits. He spent days in a row not even thinking of taking his cat in his lap. He walked in strides and no longer touched his retorts or alembics. On occasions when he left home he would suddenly stop in the middle of the road, not even noticing the curiosity and worry of the passers-by.


As he was a man of soft and distinct appearance, with beautiful hair that was just starting to turn grey, wearing the emblem of the Legion of Honor on the lapel of his blue coat, he was looked at with sympathy. One day a young lady taken by compassion took him by the arm and moved him from the road to the sidewalk. He did not even bother to thank his kind benefactor. He used to walk by his best friends and not see them and not respond to them when they talked to him. A single idea had taken him over, like the subtle line that keeps the genius from madness. Talking to one of his friends in the laboratory, one day he said:
• I have finally solved my problem. As you know, a few weeks ago my condensation device broke down at the Sorbonne…
• A few weeks? I interrupted him. But that was several years ago!
• Ah! He continued impassibly, has it then taken me so long to solve my problem? A few weeks or a few years, who cares if in the end I have my solution! Yes my friend, not only an explosion is impossible but I also dominate that terrible force. It is my slave! I can use it at will to move huge masses, to give life to gigantic machines, or force them to play with the most delicate devices, without breaking them!
• And as I kept looking at him stunned, he shouted laughing:
• For God sake, he doubts me! But look at this design, these outlines; and if you don’t believe your eyes, listen to me!
• Then, with an unquestionable lucidity, even to a strange man at the archives of Science, he explained the means at his disposal to execute his work. One could not object one single point of his theory. His theory was irrefutable in all of them.
• I need three days to build my device, he said. I want to build it myself, with my own hands. Come to see me the day after tomorrow… And you who did not leave me, you that had no doubt about me, you that have defended me with your pen, you shall be the first to share and enjoy the success with me.
• I was in fact faithful, as he said.
• When I was passing by the reception, the person in charge said: Oh! Sir, what a disgrace, don’t you agree? Such a good man! A man born for goodness, dying so fast like that!
• But who? What are you talking about?
• Mr. Thilorier. He has just died.
• Ah! She was telling the truth. My unfortunate friend had been hit by a sudden death in the lab.
• What has happened to his discovery? Not one trace of the details that he had shown me was found; his notes, if he left any, were also lost. Had he solved the great problem that tormented him? God knows! God who had not allowed him to transmit his crazy or sublime thought but to a profane, incapable of distinguishing the true from the false, and above all, keeping the memory of the theory on which the inventor based his ideas. In any case the condensation of the Carbonic acid today is no more than a curious experiment that the teachers rarely demonstrate in their courses. Had Thilorier outlived a few more days perhaps the Carbonic acid could have transformed the face of the world. Sam



Would Thilorier have found or not what he was looking for? In any case, it would be interesting to know what he thought as a spirit.


1. Evocation. – A. I am here and very glad to be among you.


2. We wish to speak with you because we believe that we can learn from a conversation with the spirit of a scientist, like you were when alive. – A. The spirit of a scientist is sometimes more elevated on Earth than in Heavens. However, when Science walks together with probity, this shall be a guarantee of spiritual superiority.


3. As a physicist you were particularly concerned with the search for a motor to replace steam and you thought to have found it in the condensed Carbonic acid. What do you think about that now? – I had such a fixed idea about this subject that I had a dream on the eve of my death, or to be more accurate, at the time of my spiritual resurrection.


4. A few days before you died you thought you had found the solution to the practical difficulties. Had you really found that? – A. I tell you that the super excitation of imagination had given me a fantastic dream that I announced when awake. It was, to be accurate, what you call madness. My dream was not absolutely applicable.


5. Were you here when the article about you was read? – A. Yes.


6. What is your opinion about that? – A. Not much. I rest in the arms of my guardian angel since my poor soul left its miserable body very shocked.


7. Nonetheless, could you answer a few questions about science? – A. Yes, for a moment I am willing to get into the intricacies of science.


8. Do you think that the steam engine shall be replaced by another motor? – A. That is already well advanced. However, I do believe that in the future human intelligence will find ways of simplifying it even further.


9. What is your opinion about compressed air as a driving force? – A. Compressed air is an excellent driving force, lighter and more economical than steam. When its use is better understood, it will have more power hence more velocity.


10. What is your opinion now about the use of condensed Carbonic acid for that? – A. I was still far off on that. There will still be numerous tests on that and difficult studies to come to a conclusion. There is still a lot to be achieved by Science.


11. Considering all the motors that are analyzed now, in your opinion which one shall be the winner? – A. Now, steam; later, compressed air.


12. Have you seen Arago again? – A. Yes.


13. Do you talk about sciences? – A. Sometimes the faculties of our intelligences are dedicated to human studies. We like very much to watch the current experiments but when we return to heaven that is no longer a concern. Besides, as I said, at the moment I rest.


14. Still one question, but please, this is very serious; in case you cannot answer that yourself then kindly request the support of a more competent spirit. We have always been told that the spirits use to suggest ideas to people and that many discoveries have that origin. However, since not all spirits know everything and some seek instruction, can you tell us if some of them do research and discoveries as spirits? – A. Yes. When a spirit has reached a more advanced level, God assigns a mission to that spirit, putting him in charge of getting involved with this or that science, useful to human beings. That is when such intelligence, obeying God, searches in the secrets of nature that God allows him to foresee, for everything that needs to be learned with that aim. When he has learned enough he then finds an individual capable of learning that and in turn passing it on. That person is suddenly taken by a single thought; he can only think of that, he speaks about that all the time; he dreams day and night, hears celestial voices talking to him. Then, when it is totally developed in his mind, that person announces to the world a discovery or a new development. That is how the great people have been inspired, in most cases.


15. We thank you for your kindness in giving us your answers and for having left your resting place for a moment. – A. I will pray to God so that he can inspire and watch over you. NOTE: Mrs. G… that eventually sees the spirits describes the impressions she received during the evocation of Thilorier. She saw a spirit that she believes to be his.


16. (to St. Louis) Can you kindly tell us if the spirit that Mrs. G… saw was really that of Thilorier? – A. It is not exactly that spirit that the lady has just seen. Later her eyes will be more used to distinguishing the form or perispirit and she will know perfectly well. At this point in time it is a kind of mirage to her. Note: The following questions were also addressed to St. Louis


17. If the authors of discoveries are assisted by spirits that suggest the ideas, how come some people believe to have invented while in fact they invented nothing, or only invent illusions? – A. They are deluded by deceiving spirits that take over their brains once these are open to mistakes.


18. How do you explain the fact that the spirit so frequently chooses people incapable of carrying a discovery to the end? - The brains less filled by human prevention are the ones more capable of receiving the dangerous seed of the unknown. The spirit does not choose such a person for being incapable; it is the person that cannot fructify the received seed.


19. But in that case it is science that suffers and that does not explain why the spirit does not preferably addresses a capable person. – A. Science suffers nothing because what one sketches the other finishes, and during the interval the idea matures.


20. When a discovery is premature, can providential obstacles oppose its propagation? – A. Nothing can ever stop the development of a useful idea. God would not allow it. It is necessary that such idea follow its course.


21. When Papin discovered the steam power several tests were realized in order to utilize it, obtaining very satisfactory results, but remained in a theoretical state. How can one explain that such a great discovery had remained dormant for such a long time, since the elements were known and there was no lack of capable people to promote it? Was it due to the insufficiency of knowledge or time had not come yet for the revolution that it would provoke in the industry? – A. For the communication of discoveries that transform the outward appearance of things, God leaves the idea to mature, like the corncobs whose development is blocked by the winter, but only delayed. The idea must germinate for a long time so that it may sprout when needed by all. The same happens to the moral ideas that first germinate and are only implanted when they reach maturity. For example, at this moment Spiritism became a necessity, it shall be received as a blessing, because all other philosophies had been futilely tried to meet the aspirations of people.
St. Louis

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