Allan Kardec

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A New Kind of Mediumship

Under this title The Herald of Progress, from New York, a journal dedicated to spiritualist matters and directed by Andrew Jackson Davies, published the article below:

“Last year on November 22nd Dr. Hallock was invited along with some others to the house of Mrs. French located at number 8, Fourth Avenue, to witness several spiritist manifestations and to observe the movements of a pencil. Around 8 pm Mrs. French left the living room where the group was gathering to sit on a couch in an adjacent bedroom. She remained there for the duration of the meeting. A few moments after she was seated she fell into some sort of ecstatic state, her eyes were static and delirious. She then asked Dr. Hallock and Prof. Britton to have the room examined. On the bed, across from the place where she was sitting, there was a briefcase tied up by a silk ribbon and also a bottle of wine to be used in the experiment. The paper that was supposed to be used for the drawings was inside the case. We were asked, said Dr. Hallock, not to touch the case or the bottle. Several pencils and two pieces of elastic gum were also on the bed but there was no drawing paper anywhere in the room.

After the room was searched Mrs. French asked Mr. Cuberton to take the case to the living room where the other guests were located, then open it and remove its contents. There were a number of common sheets of paper and among those, Mrs. French took six of different sizes from Mr. Cuberton’s hand, and all sheets were placed on a table in front of Mrs. French. She asked for some pins and took a 5 almost 6 in. paper ribbon and placed it on the lower side of a sheet of paper, then pinning the extremities of the paper to the ribbon. Having done that, someone was then invited to take the sheet of paper and allow the observers to examine it, then asked that person to keep the ribbon and the pins and return the sheet of paper to her. She did the same thing to the other sheets, changing the position and number of pins every time and having the set examined by a different person, aiming at having the paper recognized by the position of the ribbons. Once all sheets were examined and returned to Mrs. French Mr. Cuberton then delivered the wine bottle to her. She laid the sheets on the table and spilled the wine on all of them until they were completely soaking wet, spreading the wine around with her hand. She then dried all of them individually, pressing and turning them, blowing and agitating them in the air. That alone lasted for a few minutes. Once this was completed, she lowered the lights and invited the guests to approach. During the spillage ceremony one sheet of paper was left too dry and she repeated the procedure for that one (the wine was actually a simple mixture of grape juice and sugar, duly authorized by the State and produced in New England). Mrs. French then turned the lights back to normal and invited everyone to sit by her side near the door. Mr. Gurney, Prof. Britton, Dr. Warner and Dr. Hallock were about six feet away from her and the others could see her perfectly well. She then placed one of the sheets on the table in front of her and kept several pencils between her fingers. Dr. Hallock never lost sight of her as he had promised.

It was all set when Mrs. French then warned that the experience was about to begin saying: ‘Time’. Then a sudden movement of the hand and for some time, both hands; a distinct noise was heard as if on the paper; the pencils and the paper were thrown away, to a certain distance, on the floor, by a jerky movement. It all lasted 21 seconds. The drawing shows a bouquet of flowers, composed of hyacinths, lilies, tulips, etc.

The same happened to the other sheets of paper. The second one also shows flowers. The third, a beautiful bunch of grapes with its shoots, leaves, etc. It was done in 21 seconds. Number 4 is a branch and leaves containing fruits similar to apricots. The leaves are a sort of moss. Before doing this, Mrs. French asked the observers how long they would allow her to have to finish it. Some said 10 seconds, others less than that. Well, said Mrs. French, on my count of one look at your watches. When she counted 4 the drawing was finished. Attention! One, two, three, four and the drawing was done! The fifth was a shrub of red currants with 12 bunches of unripe fruits, with their flowers and leaves, surrounded by leaves of another species. This drawing was introduced by Mrs. French to Mr. Bruckmaster, from Pittsburg, as if sent by his sister, according to a promise that she had made to him. Two seconds were necessary for that one. Number six, that can be considered the masterpiece of the whole series, is a 9”× 4”. It consists of white flowers and leaves painted on a dark background, that is, the drawing was done in the natural color of the paper while the outlines and interiors using colored pencils. With the exception of two drawings produced in the same way but on a different occasion, all drawings are done by pencil on top of a white background. In the center of those flowers at the bottom of the page there is a hand holding an open book, measuring 1” and ¼” × ¾”. The corners are not exactly at right angles but what is really remarkable is the fact that the holes made earlier by the pins to facilitate identification of the sheets outline the four corners of the book. On top of the left hand side page it reads: Galatians VI, followed by the first six verses and part of the sixteenth of that Chapter, covering almost the whole two pages with very readable characters in good lighting, with a naked eye or with the use of a magnifying glass. There were more than a hundred legible words. The time spent for that was 13 seconds. When people were able to attest the coincidence between the holes in the paper and the ribbon Mrs. French, still in trance, asked those around to certify what they had just witnessed in writing. People then wrote over the margin of the drawing: ‘Executed in 13 seconds in our presence by Mrs. French. Certified, by the signed below on November 22nd, 1860 at number 8, Fourth Avenue and followed by nineteen signatures.”

We don’t have any reason to doubt the authenticity of the event or to be suspicious about Mrs. French’s good-faith, despite the fact that we don’t know her. We must acknowledge, however, that the whole procedure may seem little convincing to our incredulous, to whom there would not be a lack of objections, saying that the whole procedure kept some similarity with those of conjuring, that does all that without so much apparent difficulties. We must confess that we agree a little bit with them. The fact that the drawings were made is undisputable. It is only the origin that does not seem to be unequivocally established. In any case, if we admit that not a single trick was used, it is unarguably one of the most remarkable facts of direct writings and drawings, whose possibility is explained by the theory. Without such theory events as these would be promptly thrown into the common ditch of fables or magic tricks. However, for the very reason that it explains the conditions under which such events may take place they help us to become better observers and to not admit them unless we have enough proof.

The American mediums definitely have a specialty for the production of extraordinary phenomena since the press in that country has plenty of facts of that kind, far from what happens with the European mediums. Thus, from the other side of the Atlantic they say that we are still well behind in matters of Spiritism. When we asked the spirits about such a difference they said: “Each one with their mission. Yours is not the same and God did not give you the least part in the works of regeneration.”

Considering the merit of the mediums by the speed of execution, the energy and the power of the effects, ours are weaker when compared to those; however we know many people who would not exchange the simple and consoling communications that they receive by the prodigies of the American mediums. Those communications are sufficient to give them faith and they prefer the ones that touch their souls to the others that impress the eyes; the moral teachings that give consolation and make them better to the phenomena that cause admiration. There was a short time in Europe when the physical events drew great attention but that were soon replaced by the philosophy that opens up a broader avenue to our minds, tending towards the final and providential target of Spiritism: social regeneration. Each people has its own genius and special tendencies, and everyone within the limits assigned to it, concurs with the designs of Providence., The most advanced shall be the ones that walk faster on the path of moral progress because that is the one who will be closer to God’s designs.

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