Another Eminent Convert
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a yard from our little seance table, moved sufficiently towards me and struck my chair with such force, that it left marks on its back.
Very remarkable too, are the noises and raps, which take place at nearly every spiritual seance. They are generally in accord with the movement of the table in such way that the one performs the office of the other. The more powerful the mediumistic manifestations, the louder and more noisy are the raps. Weak minds are unable to produce them, and they begin to be heard only after the table has commenced moving. The intensity and character of these raps are exceedingly various. Sometimes they are very dull, indefinite, vague, as if produced by something very soft, and are heard proceeding from the table, the walls, the bookcases and from the floor. In other cases, they are sharp, determined knocks, as with a hard object, and they are heard in all parts of the table, but always from its inner fibers. In some cases, they remind you of the tapping of finger nails against a board or the under side of the table. The most interesting, of these manifestations are the imitations of various noises. If someone present thumps the table, with a key for instance, or, making with it a circle, gives a low knock in the centre of the same, immediately you will hear beneath the table-top the same noise, only more dull.
But the most astonishing of the mediumistic phenomena are those intelligent signs prepared and agreed upon before hand, which constitute the substance of table-talking. To myself, as I said before, this phase of manifestations, was perfectly incredible, and only a long series of careful experiments and tests led me to the firm belief in its reality and existence. The table is as evidently the instrument of some intelligent power, which talked with us more or less reasonably and had answered our questions. We had agreed that one rap should mean “no;” two raps a “doubt” and three an emphatic “yes.” Our questions were to be answered either by raps in the table, or by the tipping of its legs. Very often the table used to approach the place where Dr. A. was sitting, and knock with its leg against the Doctor's chair. He tried to avoid such a troublesome neighbor, but the table followed him obstinately about the room, and seem decided to have its own way. At the request of this table, one of us began to read the letter of an alphabet, either Russian, French or German, and the table tipped as the desired letter was pronounced. Very often we used to put aside such a tedious method of talking, and to respite the tired reader of the alphabet we got hold of a printed A B C, the letters of which were slowly pointed out by one of us. Very often, also, the table would at our special desire tip out very long phrases in reverse order begining with the last letter of the word, and concluding with the first letter, or spell with Russian letters sentences in French or Italian. Once it spelt out with Russian letters a whole verse from Dante’s poem :
“Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi dei
Tempi felici nella miseria.’’
which I give as a good specimen of table talk. I will present here a conversation that we had with it at one of our first sittings. The table asked for the French alphabet, which desire was complied with by Brediff, and it spelt perfectly, grammatically and correctly the following German words :
“Licht mehr licht!” (Light, more light!) to the utmost astonishment of every one of us, who knew perfectly well that the medium Brediff did not know a word of German. We (understood this injunction literally, and taking up the candle that stood at one side placed it on the table. Only at the end of the seance we remembered that those words were the last pronounced by Goethe when dying.
“Goethe hergeben,” spelt the table.
“Do you want the works of Goethe?” asked Prof. Boutleroff, in German : and the table said “Yes.”
“Which volume ?”
The table tipped three times.
“Which then, poetry or prose ?”
“On which page shall we read ?”
The table indicated the twenty-first page.
“From the beginning?”
“To whom do you address what you find therein ?”
Dr. A---’s name was immediately spelt out. After we had read aloud the poetry that had been indicated, the table spelt out: <... continues on page 2-17 >