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vol. 3, p. 233
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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The Book of Gold (fragment)

Nor prudent virtues only ; rising thence,
It taught him faith and wise beneficence.

Window-Pane Spectres

Recent notice has been attracted in many parts of the world, notably on the Continent of Europe, and in America, to what is generally supposed be a comparatively new phase of Spirit Manifestation. Pictures, usually representing faces, sometimes of persons who are still living and are easily recognized, sometimes of unknown individuals, have appeared on windows, without any visible agency assisting in their production. This has been done, too, in such a manner as to preclude the possibility of trick on the part of those who might be supposed to seek a little amusement for themselves by playing on the credulity of their friends. For instance, the face has at times appeared very faintly, and with varying distinctness appearing and fading, and only settling into a distinct image after having been closely watched for some days. I n other cases the appearance has not been so much that of a picture drawn upon glass, as the exact representation of a person on the other side of the window, looking in through the glass. On raising the window the whole thing has disappeared both from the glass and from before the beholder’s face. These apparitions have frequently occurred at a considerable height from the ground, in inaccessible windows, and under circumstances which separate them from all probable connection with persons already known as Spiritualists or as mediums. They have much increased in frequency and in variety within the last few years, and are to be met with now in places where they were formerly quite unknown.

The first case of which we have any personal knowledge, was brought to our notice fully twenty years ago. It was not in any way supposed to be connected with Spiritualism, at that time hardly recognized as anything more than an obscure superstition. It was narrated as a fact known to several of the persons present and within the power of all there to verify, however much it might bathe explanation.

It occurred in a large, well-built, old-fashioned house, in one of the busiest parts of a populous, commercial city. Formerly the house had been used as a family residence, but changes of fashion, and the growth of the business parts of the town, had so altered the neighborhood, that it was no longer used for anything hut counting-houses and warehouses. The only persons who resided on the premises, were the family who had care of the building, and they were the first who saw the apparition. Subsequently, however, it was seen by numbers of persons at very different hours, and by no means always at the same window. In this last particular it differed from any similar manifestation we have been able to hear of. It was a pale, sad, wan looking woman, with a sort of dark blue hood drawn over the head, so as to conceal the head and shoulders, and everything but the features of the face, which was entirely unfamiliar to any one of the numbers who saw it, while its history and the object of its visits remained to the last unexplained. Had no similar manifestation ever occurred in the experience of others, we should have hesitated to mention it to our readers as an ex ample of spirit-power, but confirmed as it is by many parallel cases, in many widely-separated parts of the world —occurring to people who have no communication together, we think the subject becomes worthy of the attention of investigators, and add our mite of experience to the general stock. In some respects, in particular, this class of phenomena does not seem to accord with the usual laws of spirit manifestation. As yet they seem to occur independent of the presence of any known medium, a remarkable exception to all we yet know of the power of spirits to produce manifestations. The subject is, however, too new, and has been too much merely wondered at, and too little really examined into, to admit of our framing any hypothesis concerning it, other than that it seems likely that our spirit-friends and watchers are seeking to open up yet one more way of making their presence and their powers known to us. If this is so, it will be well that we should co-operate with them carefully and wisely; if it should prove to be a deceit, whether it comes from among spirits or from among men, it cannot be too quickly or too thoroughly exposed.


Victim Number One

The following dispatch came over the cable on Saturday night last:—


Paris, June 19.—Mr. Firman, an American Spiritualist, who professed to photograph deceased persons, has been convicted of swindling, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.

Sharp work, this. An American citizen, whose only crime appears to be that he is a medium, has been sent to prison upon the perjured testimony of the scoundrel Buguet, who after taking many spirit pictures, whose genuineness has been proven beyond question, turns about and swears himself a cheat, and accuses honest men as his accomplices! It will be M. Leymayrie’s turn next, and we fear that he will prove to be the second victim to Roman Catholic intolerance and malice.

On Wednesday, June 16th, 1875, by order of the Pope and the mandate of the “Sacred Congregation of Rites,” the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world was consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is now just two centuries since Jesus Christ is claimed to have shown himself to Margaret Mary Alacoque, at Paray-le-Monial, in France, and made his "last appeal” to sinful men, to teach their hearts and lead them to himself, and this ceremony of consecration upon the bi-centennial anniversary of the day, completes that work. A nice spectacle it must be for the loving Nazarene to contemplate; to see men innocent of all crime, except a belief that such spiritual visitations as that of this French peasant girl are possible, cast into prison and branded as swindlers! Well, this is one more curse of Rome, that, as sure as the eternal law of compensation exists, will come home to roost. Let us wait and watch.

Channel Island Superstitions

Superstition is gradually losing its hold, and much genuine and intelligent piety doubtless exists in some of these islands. But in the hamlets most remote from town, and among the older people, curious superstitions still obtain belief. On Christmas night there are some even in Sr. Peter’s Port who will on no account go to a well to draw water, Others will not venture into a stable at midnight lest they should surprise the cattle, asses, and sheep on their knees, worshiping the infant Savior. A photographer is sometimes regarded as dealing in the black art, and some refuse so far to compromise their character as to allow themselves to be photographed. In Guernsey, at St. George, is a well called “Holy Well,” still visited by damsels, for on the surface of its waters maidens are said to be able to see the faces of their future husbands. In Jersey, near St Clement’s is the Witches’ Rock, where, it is said, the witches hold their Sabbath; the belief in witchcraft is not entirely extinct here. The marks on that rock are confidently asserted to be the footprints made by his Satanic majesty during the visits which, it is to be feared, he makes quite too frequently in Jersey as well as elsewhere.

The Napoleon Mirror

It is hardly necessary to bespeak the attention of our readers, to the curious narrative of the revelations of a magical mirror, which will be found on page 188, in this number. The reports of the seances with this “glass of fate,” embraces prophecies of coming events in France, Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, and this country; of famine, pestilence, earthquakes, shipwreck, and pleasanter subjects of contemplation. The loss of the steamship Schiller, the latest convulsions of nature in Central America, the future of General Grant, the particulars of the shipwreck of the Collins Steamer Pacific, in 1856, and many other things are claimed to have been described, and foretold by this wonderful glass.

An opportunity for placing its unfulfilled prognostications on record, having offered itself, we will at least amuse, if we do not instruct our readers, by catching and fixing these alleged shadows of coming events. It should be remarked that the observer in this instance is an illiterate woman, who cannot even read the communications by sentences, but is obliged to spell the words, letter by letter, to an amanuensis.

Editor's notes

  1. The Book of Gold (fragment) by Trowbridge, John Townsend. Cut without title or author
  2. Window-Pane Spectres by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 17, July 1, 1875, p. 197. From Harbiinder of Light, Australia
  3. image by unknown author
  4. Victim Number One by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 16, June 24, 1875, p. 186
  5. Channel Island Superstitions by Benjamin, S. G. W., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 26, September 2, 1875, p. 305. From Harper`s Magazine – S. G. W. Benjamin
  6. The Napoleon Mirror by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 16, June 24, 1875, p. 186