Several newspapers, as usual, mocked this new medium who is a fellow
country man to Mr. Home, under whose influence multiple phenomena
of up to a certain degree of exceptional nature have also been
produced. A particular characteristic is that they only occur in absolute
darkness, a circumstance duly observed by the skeptical. As we all know
Mr. Home produced a variety of phenomena, among which the most
remarkable was that of the tangible apparitions. We described them in
detail in our February, March and April 1858 issues of this Review. Mr.
Squire produced only two, or even better, only one type with certain variations,
but not less worthy of our attention. Since darkness is an essential
condition to obtain the phenomenon it goes without saying that every
precaution is taken in order to ensure the authenticity of the events. Here
is what happens:
Mr. Squire positions himself across from a 35-40 kg table, similar
to a reinforced kitchen table. His legs are strongly tied up together, to
avoid their use. In such a condition his muscular strength is considerably
diminished in case he needed it. Another person, any person and even the
most skeptical, holds one of his hands, the other remains free. He then
uses that free hand to gently touch the edge of the tabletop. Next the
lights are turned off, immediately followed by a movement of the table
that lifts it off above his head, landing upside down behind his back onto
a couch or a set of previously positioned pillows to protect the table. Once the phenomenon is produced the lights are turned on immediately. It all
happens in a few seconds. The experiment may be repeated at will several
many times if one wishes in the same session.
A variant of the phenomenon: a person is placed side by side with Mr.
Squire; once the table has been lifted and turned as above, instead of falling
backwards, it lands horizontally on the other person’s head, and that
person only feels a slight pressure. As soon as the light is turned back on,
the table recovers its full weight and it would then fall unless two other
people are prepared nearby to sustain the weight, holding the table from
That is substantially the report, in its simplest form, without emphasis
or reluctance, extracted from La Patrie from December 23rd, 1860 and
from a large number of witnesses, here confessing that we have not seen
the phenomenon directly. However, the honesty of the people who told
us the story gives no room for any doubt regarding its occurrence. We
have another perhaps even more powerful reason to admit it. It is the fact
that the theory demonstrates its possibility. Now, there is nothing better
to reinforce a conviction than the verification. Nothing provokes doubt
more than saying: I saw it but I did not understand it. Let us try then to
understand it. Let us start by raising some preliminary objections. The
first one that easily comes to mind is the fact that Mr. Squire may use
some very secretive means or, in other words, he is a skillful con artist;
or even that he is a charlatan, as crudely said by those who don’t bother
to be called rude. One word only is enough to respond to such a hypothesis:
Mr. Squire came to Paris as a visitor only and takes no advantage
of his strange faculty. Well then, since there is no uninterested charlatan
to us that is the most important guarantee of honesty. If Mr. Squire had
charged a fee per person, or if he were moved by any interest whatsoever,
than the suspicions of foul play would be perfectly legitimate.
We don’t have the honor of knowing him in person but we know
that he is a very respectable person, with a kind and benevolent character,
and we have learned that through other trustworthy individuals. He is a
renowned writer, working for several journals in the USA.
The critic rarely takes into account the person’s character and the
driving force behind their actions. That is a big mistake since such appreciation
is of the essence. There are cases in which the accusation of fraud
is not only offensive but illogical.
Having said that and leaving aside any presumption of fraud, one
needs to know if the phenomenon could be produced with muscular
force. Tests were carried out with the support of very strong men and everyone
agreed that it was absolutely impossible to lift that table with one
hand and even more so to make it spin in the air. We must add that the
physical structure of Mr. Squire is not exactly that of Hercules.
Since the use of physical force is impossible, given the circumstances,
and that a thorough exam prevents the use of any mechanical means of
support, it is then necessary to admit that there is a superhuman action
at play. Every effect has a cause; if the cause is not in humanity it is absolutely
necessary that it is outside; in other words, in the intervention of
invisible beings that surround us, knowingly the spirits.
The phenomenon produced by Mr. Squire is nothing new to spiritists,
with the exception of the way that it is produced; bottom line is that
it belongs to the category of all other phenomena of transport and dislocation
of objects, with or without contact, of suspension of heavy bodies in
the air. Its principle is in the elemental phenomena of the turning tables,
whose complete theory can be found in “The Mediums’ Book”.
Any person that may have given some thought to that theory can
easily find the explanation about the effects produced by Mr. Squire.
Undoubtedly the fact that a table may lift up, move on the floor, rise and
stay in the air without support, without any physical contact, is even more
extraordinary. If we can understand these phenomena then we can even
more so the phenomenon described above.
One may still ask where the proof of the intervention of the spirits is
in all that. If the effects were purely mechanical it is true that there would
not be any proof of intervention and in such case the acknowledgment of
an electric fluid or similar would be enough. However, since there is proof
of an intelligent phenomenon there must be an intelligent cause behind it. Well then, it was through the signs of intelligence of these effects that
it was possible to recognize that the phenomena were not purely material.
We speak of the spiritist phenomena as a whole since there are some whose
intelligent effect is almost null, as in Mr. Squire’s case. He could then be
supposed to have a natural electrical potential, like many other people
seem to have. However, as far as we know, light has never been an obstacle
to the action of electricity or the magnetic fluid. On the other hand, the
detailed analysis of the circumstances of the phenomenon rule out such
hypothesis, while there is an evident analogy with the other phenomena
that can only be produced by the intervention of occult intelligences. It
is then more rational to classify it among the latter ones. We still need to
know how the spirit is able to act upon matter.
When a table moves it is not the spirit that grabs it and raises it with
their hands, for the simple fact that although they do have a body like ours,
it is fluidic and cannot exert a muscular action properly speaking. The
spirit saturates the table with its own fluid, combined with the animalized
fluid of the medium. Thus, the table becomes momentarily animated by a
kind of fictitious life. The table then obeys the will of the spirit, like a living
creature would do. It expresses happiness, rage and several feelings of
the spirit through its movements, serving the spirit. It is not the table that
thinks, that becomes happy or angry; and it is not the spirit that incorporates
in the table because the spirit does not metamorphoses into a table.
The table is just a docile, obedient instrument serving the spirit’s will, like
a baton agitated by a person, and with which the person can make threats
or express other feelings. In this case, the muscles sustain the baton but
the table, since the muscles of the spirit cannot displace it, is then agitated
by their fluids that replace the muscular force. This is the fundamental
principle of all similar motions.
One question that seems more difficult at first sight is this: how could
a heavy body be moved from the ground and be maintained in the air,
contrary to the law of gravity? In order to understand this we need to remember
what happens daily before our eyes. It is a well-known fact that
there is a distinction between the mass and the weight of a solid body. The mass of a given body is always the same, depending on the sum of all molecules;
the weight varies depending on the density of the medium where it
is located. That is why a body weighs less in water than in air and even less
in mercury. Suppose a heavy table is placed on the floor of a room that is
suddenly flooded with water. The table will lift up on its own, or at least
a man or even a child would be able to lift it, almost effortlessly. Here is
another comparison: let us make a vacuum underneath a pneumatic bell,
where there will be no air left inside the chamber to balance the external
air; the bell would then become so heavy that even the strongest man cannot
move it. However, the mass of the table or the bell has not changed
by a single atom, but its relative weight has either increased or diminished
due to the density of the surrounding fluid (buoyancy).
Now, do we know every fluid of nature or even all properties of the
fluids that are known? It would be presumptuous to admit that. The examples
above serve as comparison, but we don’t say similarity. We just
want to show that the spiritist phenomena that appear strange to us are
not stranger than those mentioned above and can thus be explained, if not
by the same causes at least by analogous ones.
In fact, there we have a table that evidently loses its apparent weight
at a given moment and that, in different circumstances, becomes overloaded,
and such fact cannot be explained by the known laws. Since it is
repeated, it then demonstrates that it is submitted to a law that cannot be
considered inexistent just because it is unknown. What is that law? The
spirits tell us that. However, instead of their explanation we can deduce
from analogy, without the need of resourcing to miraculous or supernatural
causes. The universal fluid, as the spirits call it, is the vehicle and agent
of every spiritist manifestation. It is said that the spirits may modify its
properties, according to the circumstances; that this fluid is the element
that constitutes the perispirit or the semi-material wrapping of the spirit;
that it can become visible and even tangible. Is it then irrational to admit
that a spirit may at some point in time involve a solid body in a fluidic
atmosphere whose modified properties produce on that solid body the effect
of being in a denser or thinner surroundings? Under this assumption the motion of the heavy table by Mr. Squire is very naturally explained, as
every other similar phenomenon.
The need for darkness is more embarrassing. Why would such an effect
stop in the presence of the tiniest ray of light? Would the luminous
fluid have any mechanical influence here? It is not likely since similar
facts do perfectly occur in daylight. Such specificity can only be associated
to the special nature of the spirits that manifest through that medium.
Why this medium and not others? This is a mystery only penetrated by
those who identify themselves with the multiple types of sometimes bizarre
phenomena of the invisible world. They are the only ones who can
understand the sympathies between the dead and those alive.
What is the category of such spirits? Are they good or bad? We know
that we have offended egotistic earthlings by depreciating the value of
the spirits who produce physical manifestations; we have been harshly
criticized because we classify them as the acrobatics of the invisible world.
We apologize and say that this expression is not ours but from the spirits.
We ask for their forgiveness but we could never accept the idea that
superior spirits would come to us to have fun, and do stunts and other
things like that, in the same way that we cannot be convinced that
clowns, circus strongmen, tightrope walkers and jugglers are members of
the prestigious Institute (Academy of Sciences of Paris –LC). Those who are
aware of the hierarchy of the spirits know that there are spirits of all levels
of intelligence and morality, and that is not surprising since the spirits are
nothing more than the souls of those who lived here on Earth. Now then,
until proven otherwise allow us to doubt that spirits like Pascal, Bossuet
and others less elevated may come to serve us and make tables turn, to
amuse a group of curious people. We ask those who think otherwise if
they believe that they would play such a role after their deaths. Those that
operate with Mr. Squire have servility incompatible with the least intellectual
superiority, from which we can conclude that they must belong
to inferior orders, but this does not mean that they are bad. One can be
honest and good and still incapable of reading and writing.
The bad spirits are typically unruly, angry and like to do evil things.
Now, we are not aware of any bad behavior carried out by those spirits that
manifest through Mr. Squire. They obey peacefully, submissively; a fact
that excludes any suspicion of malevolence, but that does not make them
capable of giving us philosophical teachings. We are sure that Mr. Squire
has enough common sense to preclude himself from being offended by
our appreciation. The subordination showed by the spirits that assist him
led one of our comrades to say that those spirits knew him from a previous
existence, in which Mr. Squire might have had great authority upon
them, that being the main reason why they still show a passive obedience
now. Besides, one must not confuse the spirits properly given to physical
effects, commonly designated by the name “rapping spirits” with those
who communicate through knocks. This latter means of communication
is an actual language and may be employed by spirits of any order.
We have noted that we met a large number of people who witnessed
the experiences of Mr. Squire, but among those who were not initiated
in the Spiritist Science many have remained unconvinced, demonstrating
that the simple vision of the most extraordinary effects is not good
enough to lead them to conviction. They changed their opinion after
having heard our explanations. We certainly don’t present this theory as
the last word and definitive solution. However, since known laws cannot
explain the facts, one must agree that the system that we admit is not destitute
of likelihood. Let us admit it, if you like, as a hypothesis, and when
a better solution is presented we will be the first to accept it.