“Paris, July 21st, 1861
One can disagree about certain points and be in perfect
agreement about others. I have just read your thoughts about
fraud in the last issue of The Review in the article ‘Exploitation of
Spiritism’, regarding spiritualist (or spiritist) communications, to
which I am happily and strongly related. Any dissidence with respect
to theories and doctrines disappear in those manifestations
as if in a magic spell.
I am not perhaps as strict as you are regarding the mediums
who accept some sort of compensation in a dignified and
adequate way, given the time they dedicate to the experiments,
sometimes long and tiresome, but I am, and nobody can be more
than I am, severe with respect to those who replace the absence or
insufficiency of the expected results by fraud and trickery.
Mixing the false with the true in matters of phenomena obtained
by the intervention of the spirits is simply blasphemy, thus
indicating a failed sense of moral from the part of a medium who would unscrupulously do that. As you clearly stated, this is the
same as casting doubt upon the indecisive minds, considering
that there is real fraud. I must add that it is the most deplorable
way of compromising honorable people who support the mediums
with their knowledge and education, becoming the guarantors
of their good-faith, sponsoring them in a certain way. It is
prevarication towards them.
Every medium that is knowingly guilty of fraudulent maneuvers
and caught on the act – using a trivial expression, with their
hand in the sack, deserves to be ostracized by every spiritist or
spiritualist in the world, and it is their duty to unmask and demoralize
If it suits you Sir, to have these words published in your
Review, please do as you please.
We would not expect less from the noble feelings that characterize
Mr. Mathieu as this energetic reproach to the ill-faith mediums.
On the contrary, we would be surprised if he had faced the issue of trust
and its abuse with indifference. Such abuse could be easier when Spiritism
was not much known. However, as this Science spreads and becomes better
understood; as the true conditions for the production of the phenomena
are clearly identified, there will be wise eyes everywhere capable of
uncovering the fraud. The best way to discourage the fraud is to denounce
it wherever it may take place.
Some say that it would be better not to disclose such turpitudes in the
very interest of Spiritism; that the possibility of deceiving could increase
the mistrust from the indecisive. We don’t share such opinion and do
believe that it is better to have the indecisive suspicious than deceived,
since once they know that they were deceived they could be sent away
forever. Besides, there would be an even greater evil; that is the belief that
the spiritists are easily deceived. Much to the contrary, they will be even
more prepared to believe when they see that the believers are surrounded
by precautions, repudiating the deceiving mediums.
Mr. Mathieu says that he cannot be as strict as we are, with respect
to the mediums who in a dignified and discrete way accept compensation
for the time dedicated to the subject. We are in perfect agreement
that there can be and there must be honorable exceptions, but since the
attractiveness of earnings is a great temptation and since the beginners
don’t have the necessary experience to distinguish between the true and
the false, we maintain our opinion that the best guarantee of honesty is
in the absolute altruism because where there is nothing to gain there is no
place for charlatanism.
A person that pays for a service wants something in return for his
money and would not accept it if told that the spirit does not wish to
communicate. From that, to the means of making the spirit act at any
price there is only a step, according to the maxim: need is the mother of industry.
We must add that the mediums will gain a hundred times more in
respect and consideration than they lose in material gains. They say that
consideration does not feed life. It is true that consideration alone is not
enough but there are other more honest activities than the exploitation of
the souls of the dead.