[The above are selections from a great
number of messages which were written during April and
May 1873. By this time the writing had become easy and fluent, and there
less difficulty in finding appropriate words.
Already several facts and precise
records of the life of some spirits had been given. For instance, on May
22nd, I was writing on quite another subject when the message broke off,
and the name of Thomas Augustine Arne was written. It was said that he
had been brought into relation with me through his connection with a son
of Dr. Speer’s, a pupil of mine, who displayed great musical ability.
I was at this time greatly impressed
with the character of the automatic writing and with the information
given. I inquired at once if I could ascertain from Arne, through the
medium of the spirit Doctor,
who was writing, any precise facts as to his life. The request was at
once complied with, there being no interval between my question and the
reply. The date of his birth (1710); his school (Eton);
his instructor in the violin (Festing). His works, or at any rate some eight or nine
of them; the fact “Rule Britannia” was contained in
The Masque of Alfred;
and a number of other minute particulars were given without the least
hesitation. Profoundly astonished at receiving such a mass of
not only to my mind in details, but utterly foreign to my habit of
thought ¾for I know absolutely
nothing about music, and have read nothing on the subject¾I
inquired how it was possible to give information so minute. It was said
to be extremely difficult, possible only when an extremely passive and
receptive state in the medium were secured. Moreover, spirits were said
to have access to sources of information so that they could refresh
their imperfect recollection.
asked how? By reading; under certain conditions, and with special end in
view; or by inquiry, as
man does, only to spirits it would be more difficult, though possible.
Could my friend himself so acquire
information? No; he had too long left the earth, but he mentioned the
names of two spirits accustomed occasionally to write, who could perform
this feat. I asked that one of them should be brought. I was sitting
waiting for a pupil in a room, not my own, which was used as a study,
and the walls of which were covered with bookshelves.
The writing ceased, and after an interval of some minutes another kind
of writing appeared. I
inquired if the newly arrived spirit could demonstrate to me the power
Can you read
No, friend, I cannot, but Zachary Gray
can, and Rector. I am not able to materialise myself, or
to command the elements.
Are either of those spirits here?
will bring one by and by. I will send .... Rector is here.
I am told you can read. Is that so? Can you read a book?
[Spirit handwriting changed]
Yes, friend, with difficulty.
Will you write for me the last line of the first book of the AEneid?
“Omnibus errantem terris et fluctibus aestas."
[This was right]
Quite so. But I might have known it. Can you go to the bookcase, take the
last book but one on the second shelf, and read me the last paragraph on
the ninety-fourth page? I have not seen it, and do not even know its name.
“I will curtly prove, by a short historical narrative, that popery is a
novelty, and has gradually arisen or grown up since the primitive and pure time of
Christianity, not only since the apostolic age, but even since the
lamentable union of kirk and the state by Constantine.”
[The book on examination then proved to be a queer
one called “Rogers’
attempt to liberate and purify Christianity from Popery, Politikirkality,
and Priestrule” The extract given above was accurate, but the word “narrative” was
substituted for “account.”]
How came I to pitch on so appropriate a sentence?
I know not, my friend. It was by
coincidence. The word was changed by error. I knew it when it was done,
but would not change.
How do you read? You wrote more slowly, and by fits and starts.
wrote what I remembered, and then I went for more. It is a special effort
to read, and useful only as a test. Your friend was right last night: we
can read, but only when conditions are very good. We will read once again,
and write, and then impress you of the book: ¾“Pope is the last great
writer of that school of poetry, the poetry of the intellect, or rather of
the intellect mingled with the fancy.” That is truly written. Go and take
the eleventh book on the same shelf. [I took a book called
Poetry, Romance, and Rhetoric.]
will open at the page for you. Take it and read, and recognise our power,
and the permission which the great and good God gives us, to show you of
our power over matter. To Him be glory. Amen.
book opened at page 145, and there was the quotation perfectly true. I had
not seen the book before; certainly had no idea of its contents.]