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vol. 3, p. 213
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)
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< Another Eminent Convert (continued from page 3-212) >

excited, there came in at that time a long procession of delusive phenomena, which are all accepted as real by the Spiritualists.

But what is the cause that provokes those real spiritual manifestations? This question has remained and remains till now a dark puzzle to me. My greatest desire was to investigate them, but I had no opportunity for it as I became convinced that for such an object as this what is of the hist necessity is to have a medium, namely, a person whose nervous system presents perhaps a very slight difference with the nervous systems of the average of us mortals; but which is still strong enough to call out phenomena, that it seems to me might be named psycho-dynamical ones. I blamed very strongly Prof. Boutleroff and A. N. Aksakoff— both of whom took a constant and prominent part in Home's seances—for not conducting the latter under strictly scientific tests, and for not changing them into a series of psychophysical experiments and investigations. In answer to my complaints I generally received such excuses as, for instance, that these manifestations were very whimsical and uncertain, that they varied, and could be subjected with great difficulty to the conditions of tests and experiments, and that long years of patient investigation were required, sometimes, in order to see something satisfactory. As a proof of that, they brought forward the investigations of the subject by the eminent chemist Crookes. I follow the progress of the latter attentively in a pamphlet called “Spiritualism and Science,” in 1872, edited by M. Aksakoff for the purpose of benefiting, by them, the Russian public.

In October last, I was again invited by Messrs. Aksakoff and Boutleroff to take part in spiritual seances, in which the phenomena were manifested in the presence of another medium a M. Brediff. I accepted, and in my turn, invited an old friend of mine, a physiologist, one Dr. A. Mrs. Aksakoff desired to be included also in our seances, and a circle was formed of six persons. Besides the six above mentioned, we had invited to join us one of my brother professors of Natural Science, a young but very eminent zoologist, and another young man, a student of chemistry and a pupil of Prof. Boutleroff.

Camille Brediff is a professional medium, namely: one who will go anywhere for a certain sum of money. He is a Frenchman, from Paris, an ex-crockery merchant, who had seen fit, in hop0 of better results to his pocket, to benefit himself through such mediumistic gifts as Nature had very generously endowed him with. He is a young man, of slight build and stature, with rather a good looking and good humoured though somewhat vulgar face, and sharp black eyes.

Very naturally a person of such a description inspired in us very little confidence, and we agreed to keep a constant watch over his hands and feet, with a view to ascertain, beyond any doubt, that the manifestations taking place at these seances were not helped along by the said hands and feet. Therefore, I will describe only such of the phenomena as were manifested only when this medium's hands were in strict custody of his neighbor's hands, and both his feet placed either on our knees or held under the boots of those who sat near him. I was convinced of the reality of, and genuineness of the manifestations hereinafter described by a long series of experiments under various test conditions. For instance, the table moved and tipped, though feebly—only when no one was sitting near it or touched it.

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“Unseen Universe”

<Untitled> (Prof. Balfour Steward of Owen's College)

Prof. Balfour Steward of Owen's College ...

Professor Wagner`s Report

We publish in this issue the first portion of the admirably clear account by Prof. Wagner, of the Imperial University of St. Petersburg, of his recent seances with M. Bredif. The document will command the respectful attention of the scientific body of which this great Russian naturalist is so distinguished an ornament. Prof. Wagner is to his country what Huxley is to Great Britain, and his fearless announcement of his conversion to the Spiritualistic philosophy has created as great an excitement in Eastern Europe as would the adhesion of the great British materialist in the Western portion and in this country.

The investigating party in this instance embraced other savants besides Prof. Wagner; two brother professors, one eminent pathologist, and the Hon. Alexander Aksakoff, being enumerated as attendants. Thus, little by little, the new philosophy is making its inroads into the Sacred precincts of the Academies, and claiming its converts. The Roll of Honor, which already bore such names as Wallace, Crookes, Varley, Flammarion, Hare, —has now inscribed upon it those of Wagner, and his distinguished co-laborers.

It will be observed, as a strong indication of the fairness of Russian investigators, that they were in the main convinced by the simple manifestations of the table rightly judging that the occurrence of a rap, the oscillation of a ponderable body, or the momentary neutralization of gravity by another force, was as important, in a phenomenal sense, as the more striking materializations of Prof. Crookes or Col. Olcott. The example set by these gentlemen might be imitated by the disdainful wiseacres of the British and American Associations with advantage to their future reputation for intelligence and fairness.

Spiritualism in Russia

The Journal des Debats in its issue of the 2th of May contains an account of the intense interest which Spiritualism is now exciting at St. Petersburg, both in general society, and among men of science. Among these is Mr. Wagner, whose article in the last number of the Messager d’ Europe, (now in the Scientist) has, it seems, produced a profound and widespread sensation.

The St. Petersburg correspondent of the Debats stands amazed before the spectacle of the triumphal entry of the long banished supernatural into the midst of the sceptical and realistic society of the present day, and calls upon the men of science who have not been infected by it to assist in putting down this new superstition; or at least, he adds, let the adepts in Spiritualism explain its scope, and the mode in which it accords with the other articles of their scientific creed. This gentleman appears to forget that newly observed phenomena do generally appear for a time as irreducible anomalies, and that it is only by time and patience that their places have been discovered in the system of nature of which so small a part is yet known.

Professor Wagner`s Great Report

With the portion which appear in the current number of our paper. Prof. Wagner’s report of his scientific investigation into the spiritualistic phenomena is brought to a conclusion. The fairness and accuracy, displayed in the methods of our illustrious author, as described in the chapters already printed, have prepared us for the deduction at which he arrives. They are such as every <... continues on page 3-214 >

Editor's notes

  1. Prof. Balfour Steward of Owen's College by unknown author. handwritings
  2. Professor Wagner`s Report by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 13, June 3, 1875, p. 150
  3. Spiritualism in Russia by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 13, June 3, 1875, p. 150
  4. Professor Wagner`s Great Report by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 15, June 17, 1875, p. 174