Psychography, A Treatise of Psychic or Spiritual Phenomena 1840 - 1892





THIS subject of Psychography, or writing without the intervention of ordinary human agency, is by no means new, though it has of late attracted greater attention. It has been familiar to all investigators of Psychic Phenomena, and has been called variously Direct or Independent Writing. Records of its occurrence are found in the most ancient works on the subject, and it was perfectly familiar to those early and mediaeval students of occult phenomena whose researches throw so much light on that which we now find so perplexing. The most remarkable record, however, of these special facts is made by Baron Guldenstubbe, in a book entitled "La Realite des Esprits, et le phenomene merveilleux de leur ecriture directe."


The Baron must have been a Psychic of great power, for all the writings were obtained without the aid of any other person, and under conditions which, in most cases, would preclude the hope of successful results. It is with experiments of this nature as with all others: certain conditions are required for success. These have been, and are, much exaggerated and


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misrepresented, darkness being popularly supposed to be the principal desideratum. This is not so. I believe that every phenomenon—except such as require darkness for their observation, as, for instance, luminous phosphorescent appearances—can be produced in full light. Much more time and patience would be required; but, granted these, light is no final barrier to success. It is much to be regretted that more persistent attempts have not been made to produce these phenomena in such light as suffices for exact observation. The fact that this is now being done, and with such success as I shall presently show, removes one impediment to observation in the future.


Baron Guldenstubbe seems to have been able to dispense with the usual conditions under which writing is obtained—a closed room with magnetically-charged atmosphere, subdued light, and a formal gathering of persons from or through whom the necessary force is evolved. He obtained his writings anywhere, and at any time, in the open air, and on a tombstone, of which locality he was specially fond. It squared with his idea of the source of the writing, and so facilitated its execution. This, I may say in passing, is far more requisite than any other condition for success, that the Psychic through whom the force is evolved should be at ease and comfort. If he have any special ideas as to the source of the phenomenon, to controvert them by argument is to cause almost certain failure. Left to himself, with surroundings that conduce to comfort of mind and body, and with


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liberty to follow out his opinions as to the best means of securing results, success will usually follow.


Hence it is that the best, most sure, and most reliable phenomena are seen in private circles, where none but friends, of one mind, and united by the bonds of friendship or affection, are assembled.


Among the places named as those where successful experiments were made are the Louvre, the Museum at Versailles, the Cathedral of Saint Denis, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Cemeteries of Montparnasse, Montmartre, and Pere la Chaise; the Bois de Boulogne, and various churches and ancient ruins in France, Germany, Austria, and England.


The list of witnesses, twenty-seven in number, selected out of a vast number of distinguished persons who have repeatedly assisted at the Baron's experiments, includes the names of H. Delamarre, editor of the Patrie; H. Choisselat, editor of the Univers; Mr. Dale Owen; M. Lacordaire, brother of the great orator; N. de Bonochose, the historian; M. Kiorboe, a well-known Swedish painter; the Baron von Rosenberg, German ambassador at the Court of Wurtemberg; Prince Leonide Galitzin, and two other representatives of the nobility of Moscow; and the Rev. William Mountford, who has lately contributed his personal testimony in the Spiritualist of Dec. 21st, 1877.


Mr. Coleman, of Upper Norwood, whose experience dates so far back, informs me that he well remembers Mr. Dale Owen going to Paris for the purpose of witnessing these remarkable experiments. He told


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Mr. Coleman in detail of his accompanying the Baron and his sister Julia to various chapels in Paris, where he laid down sheets of his own paper, without pencil or writing materials; retiring a few paces, but never losing sight of the paper, he found an intelligent message written upon it in every case. Mr. Coleman has one of these curious Psychographs in his own possession. It was obtained at the Palace of the Trianon, Versailles.


The book is illustrated by thirty fac-similes of Psychographs thus obtained, and selected from more than two thousand specimens in twenty different languages, and some of them covering several pages. These were obtained between the years 1856 and 1872. The first experiment was made by placing paper and pencil in a box, which was locked, and the key of which never left the Baron's possession. No one was acquainted with the fact that any such experiment was in process. After twelve days, during which no mark was made on the paper, there appeared on it certain mysterious characters, and during that day ten separate experiments gave successful results. The box was then left open and watched, and writing was seen to grow upon the paper without the use of the pencil. From that time he abandoned the use of the pencil altogether, and obtained his vast number of Psychographs by the simple process of putting blank paper on the table of his room, or in public buildings, or on the pedestal of ancient statues, or on tombstones in churches and cemeteries. It apparently mattered little where the paper was placed; and it is


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more than probable that the Baron, by exercise of his will, could have obtained any given name in any given place. The association of name and statue or tomb was a consequence of his mental prepossessions.


The curious reader will find a full account of these experiments made by the Baron in his book above-named; and for further information as to these and kindred phenomena he may consult the works, a list of which is prefixed to this volume.


Mr. Crookes, in his paper in the Quarterly Journal of Science above referred to, which is reprinted in his Researches, records two notable instances of Psychography, which I quote as showing the facility for observation in the one case, and the satisfactory result obtained in darkness, where no room existed for doubting the evidence so obtained. It is usually supposed by those who have not tried the experiment that no evidence obtained in a dark room is of any value. Mr. Crookes' record may dispel that error:—


The first instance which I shall give took place, it is true, at a dark seance, but the result was not less satisfactory on that account. I was sitting next to the medium, Miss Fox, the only other persons present being my wife and a lady relative, and I was holding the medium's two hands in one of mine, whilst her feet were resting on my feet. Paper was on the table before us, and my disengaged hand was holding a pencil.


A luminous hand came down from the upper part of the room, and after hovering near me for a few seconds, took the pencil from my hand, rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down, and then rose up over our heads, gradually fading into darkness.


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My second instance may be considered the record of a failure. "A good failure often teaches more than the most successful experiment." It took place in the light, in my own room, with only a few private friends and Mr. Home present. Several circumstances, to which I need not further allude, had shown that the power that evening was strong. I therefore expressed a wish to witness the actual production of a written message, such as I had heard described a short time before by a friend. Immediately an alphabetic communication was made as follows—" We will try." A pencil and some sheets of paper had been lying on the centre of the table; presently the pencil rose up on its point, and after advancing by hesitating jerks to the paper, fell down. It then rose, and again fell. A third time it tried, but with no better result. After three unsuccessful attempts, a small wooden lath, which was lying near upon the table, slid towards the pencil, and rose a few inches from the table; the pencil rose again, and propping itself against the lath, the two together made an effort to mark the paper. It fell, and then a joint effort was again made. After a third trial the lath gave it up and moved back to its place, the pencil lay as it fell across the paper, and an alphabetic message told us—" We have tried to do as you asked, but our power is exhausted."