“Brussels, August 18th, 1861
My dear master,
I have just returned from visiting the spiritists in Metz, as you did in Lyon last year. Instead of poor, simple and illiterate workers I found Counts, Barons, Colonels, military engineers, former students of the Polytechnic Institute and scholars renowned for their great works. They also offered me a banquet but it was a pagan banquet that had nothing in common with the modest feast of the early Christians. The spirit of Lamennais also reprimanded such arrogance in the following terms:
‘Poor humanity! Always picking up the debris from the environment of which you live; you materialize everything, a proof that the mud still stains your being. This is no criticism but a simple observation. Since your objectives are covered in the ornament of excellent intentions your chosen paths are not to be condemned. If you place side by side with your almost animal satisfaction the firm desire to sanctify and honor it, the purity of your pleasures will certainly multiply that a hundred times. The good words will also strengthen your friendship; together with the memories of this great day thanks to Spiritism which plays a great part,, do not leave the table without a thought addressed to your teachers, the good spirits, who deserve acknowledgement.’
May that serve as a lesson to those like Lucullus, to the Parisian Trimalchios, that devours in a single dinner what could feed a hundred families, pretending that it was God given pleasure for their enjoyment. To enjoy, yes, but not to abuse to the point of harming the health of one’s body and spirit. What are, I ask you, the need of those double, triple and quadruple services; that growing super fluidity of the most delicate wines from which God seems to have removed the taste, by a reverse miracle at the marriage of Cana, where it changes into poison for those who lose their reasoning to the point of becoming impervious to the warnings of their animal instincts? If Spiritism were spread among the high social classes and had the only effect of stopping gluttonous behaviors and the orgies on the tables of the riches, it would have done a great service to society, a service that conventional medicine itself could not do since the doctors themselves willingly share in the excesses that only render more disease, more stomachs to fix, more spleens to clear, more gout patients to console because they do not know how to heal them.
I must say, dear Master, that I found houses of former nobility in Metz that were very religious, who’s grandmothers, mothers, daughters and grandchildren and even their church officials obtained by a theological classification beautifully dictated, considering that they are inferior to the wise mediums of the Society that I am talking about. Having asked two spirits whether they had read a certain book; one said that he had read it and thought about it and spoke highly of the book. The other confessed not having read it but had heard a lot about it; a good book but offered some vagueness. Judged, exactly as among us here on Earth.
Another provided us with an attractive theory of cosmology, swearing it to be the purest truth, and since he went to the extent of unveiling God’s secrets about the future I then asked him if he was not God himself or if his theory was only hypothetical. He mumbled a few words and acknowledged that he had gone too far but that he was positive about these ideas. Thank goodness!
In a few days you will receive the first publication from the Spiritists of Metz, they have kindly asked me to oversee it; you will be happy, because it’s very good. You will find two dissertations by Lamennais about prayer that were read by a Catholic priest during the mass, declaring that it could only be the work of one man. Mrs. de Girardin visits them and like you, will recognize his spirit, feelings and style. (The male form of ‘his’ is used here because Mrs. de Girardin went under the male pen name of Vicomte Delaunay to compete with the male authors of her time. - NT.)
The Society in Metz asked that I introduce them to the Belgian Society that consists of only two mediums, one French and one English. The Belgians are infinitely more reasonable. They feel sorry from the bottom of their heart that someone with as big a heart and intelligence as mine, covering all matters of sciences and technologies, believes in a crazy thing such as the existence and even immortality of the soul. They turned away with pity, saying ‘What does that have to do with us!’ That’s what happened to me last night when I was reading you’re the Spiritist Review, thinking that it could be of their interest, but they took it as a collection of false news for their own amusement.
OBSERVATION: We knew long ago that the city of Metz walks in strides on the path of the spiritist progress and that its officials are not the last ones to follow it. We are happy to have that confirmation from our honorable colleague Mr. Jobard. Thus, we will gladly publicize the works of that center established on serious foundations. We are sure that given the social position of their members, the works will certainly have a great influence. We shall soon speak of those from Bordeaux, sponsored by the Parisian Society, with already many members, elements and conditions to soon place it among one of the centers in the forefront.. We know Mr. Jobard’s principles well enough to be sure that he did not want to make any offensive comparison between the spiritists of Metz, given their titles and positions, and the modest workers of Lyon that we visited last year. His only objective was to attest that Spiritism counts on followers in all social classes. It is a well-known fact that the first ones to be recruited were in the most enlightened ranks of society in order to prove to the adversaries that it is not a privilege of fools and ignorant, and also to get to the masses only after having cleaned and cleared every superstitious ideas. It was only recently that it entered among the working class but it made rapid progress there too because it brings supreme consolations to material sufferings, teaching courage and resignation to endure the trials of life.
Mr. Jobard is mistaken if he thinks that we only find the working class among the spiritists of Lyon. Their contingency also included those from high level business, large commercial businesses, the arts and sciences.. It is true that the working class is the majority there and mostly due to local circumstances. Those workers are poor, as Mr. Jobard said. That is a reason to reach out to them. However, they have plenty of courage, eagerness and devotion. If they have only a piece of bread they know well how to share it with their brothers. They are also simple, that is true, and they don’t bear the pride or the presumptuous of knowledge; they are relatively illiterate, it is true, but not in the absolute sense. Although they may lack science, they have a lot of reason and common sense to evaluate what is fair, and to be able to distinguish between the rational and the absurd in what they are taught. We were able to assess it ourselves. That is why we take the opportunity to pay a fair tribute to them. The letter below, inviting us to visit them again this year, reflects the happy influence of spiritist ideas and the results we should expect when they will be widespread.
“Lyon, August 20th 1861
My good Mr. Allan Kardec,
If it has been a long time since my last correspondence, please do not take it as an air of indifference on my part. Knowing the large amount of correspondence that you receive, I only write when there is something important to tell you. I shall then tell you, that we are counting on you to visit us again this year and to kindly let us know the time and place of your arrival as precisely as possible since this year the number of spiritist has grown significantly, particularly in the working class. Everyone wants to see and hear you and although they know that it is the spirits that dictate the work they are eager to see the man chosen by God for this great mission. They want to tell you about their great happiness for being able to read your works and compliment you for their own moral progress, thanks to your instructions, they endeavor to become kind, patient and resigned in their own miseries, of which there is so much in Lyon, particularly in the silk weaving industry. Those who still moan and groan are the beginners. The instructed ones tell them: Courage! Our penalties and sufferings are trials or consequence of our previous lives; God who is good and just will make us happier and will reward us in new incarnations. Allan Kardec told us so and he demonstrates that in his writings.
We chose a place that is more spacious than the previous time considering that we shall have more than a hundred people. Our meal will be modest, as there will be many with small purses; it will be the pleasure of our reunion more than anything else. I will make sure that there will be spiritists from all classes and all walks of life so that everyone can understand that we are all brothers. Mr. Déjou is in charge and highly dedicated to this matter. He will bring his large group along.
We were also honored by another invitation from Bordeaux, as follows:
“Bordeaux, August 7th, 1861
My dear Mr. Kardec,
Your latest The Spiritist Review announced that the Society will be on vacation from August 15th to October 1st. Can the spiritists of Bordeaux expect to be honored by your visit during that break? That would make us very happy. The most enthusiastic followers of the Doctrine, whose members’ increases daily, would like to organize a society subordinated to that of Paris in terms of the works. We have created rules and bylaws based on those of the Parisian Society and would like to submit it to you. Besides the main Society there will be groups of ten to twelve people in several areas of town, particularly in the working class areas where from time to time there will be members of the Society to give advice as needed. All of our spiritual guides are in agreement that Bordeaux must be a society of studies since this town will be the center of propagation of the Doctrine in the South. We happily await you with confidence that you will join us on the memorable inauguration day and we hope you will be satisfied with our eagerness and mode of operation. We are ready to submit ourselves to the wise advice of your experience. Come then to see our work. The server is known by his work.
Your dedicated servant,