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vol. 3, p. 53
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Spirit Photography (continued from page 3-52) >

on it, the whole surface being completely fogged. Shortly after this, he described a human figure completely surrounded by fog, and, on developing the plate, we found a faint, though perfectly discernible, outline of what appeared to be a female figure. On another occasion, last year, when I chanced to be seated at the table, he described a female figure as standing beside me, the rude outline of which came out strongly on development. From this time the appearances were almost invariably described during the exposure of the plate, and in every case with minuteness and accuracy.

Last year, the manifestations were more varied in form than those previous, one of the most curious being a luminous star about the size of a threepenny piece, in the centre of which, and separated from the points by a dark border, was the figure of a medallion bust, described as such by the medium.

At the same seance he suddenly called our attention to a very bright light, and pointed to it. He seemed astonished that none of us saw it. The plate, when developed, showed the light, and his finger directed towards it.

Any one who has examined the complete series of these photographs must have remarked that in most of them the forms represented appear to pass through a sort of gradual development, commencing with a small luminous surface, which by degrees increases in extent, undergoing, at the same time, a modification in shape, this latter change, being often caused by the coalescing of two portions originally separate.

During our experiments, Mr. Beattie often remarked the suddenness with which these forms appeared on the plates when the developer was applied, coming out very much in advance of the ordinary impression on the plates. And I have been informed by others who have experimented in the matter that they have met with the same peculiarity.

Frequently, towards the close of the day’s experiments, when the light had become very weak, we found, on developing, that nothing was impressed on the plates except the forms of theise invisible emanations, showing that, though unable to affect our eyes, the power of acting on the prepared plate was still strong. In fact, to all intents, we were photographing in the dark, as the visible light reflected from the objects in the room failed to affect in the smallest degree the sensitive film. This circumstance suggested to me the idea of endeavoring to discover whether or not the ultra-violet rays of the spectrum might have any influence in the production of these effects ; and, with this end in view, I propose that we should expose, in the direction in which the medium described the luminous appearances, paper prepared with some fluorescent substance. I accordingly immersed one-half of a sheet of blotting paper in a solution of quinine, the other half remaining attached to the prepared half, in order that we might the more easily perceive any effect which might arise from the presence of the quinine. I was unable to be present at the seance at which the experiment was made, and which was our last, but Mr. Beattie exposed the paper in the position I proposed, without, however, obtaining any result.

When we resume our experiments, which we hope to do soon, we will endeavor to follow out this interesting part of the subject. — M. A. (Oxon) in Human Nature.

Hugo's "Art of Being a Grandfather"

Hugo, as all great poets should be, is an ardent lover of children. Circumstances have made him a super-ardent lover of children. He makes—or considers—himself especially the poet of the future, and hence assumes to find a nimbus round every babyhead, the mystery of all the To Come in every innocent eye. And still further, he is essentially a stormy and gigantic genius. He deals with Infinities, Lions, Granite, Oceans, Earthquakes, Typhoons, Ages and the like, and, adoring vivid contrasts, naturally brings into juxt^^osition with these formidable facts and forces the incarnation of helplessness, the infant. But—and it is pleasant to record this, for not every poet practises in real life what he teaches in song—the old poet really seems to feel an instinctive, abiding and ample love of childhood in the concrete. For years Hanteville House and his Paris residence have heen a fairy paradise for the surrounding children, to which every one of them held the key, and there has been no such lavish entertainer, no such fertile inventor of new pleasures for the children as the great bard. This guarantee of the author’s sincerity naturally adds a charm to his book, which furthermore contains by no means the first of his child-poems. The “ Legende des Siecles ” presented not a few in which he had taken children for his subjects, or which were written especially for children’s reading, and if we s^back along the whole list of Hugo’s works we find Dea and Gwynplaine in “L’Homme Qui Kit,” Cosette and Gavroche in “Les Misérables,” with that sweet little berçeuse—

Dieu me dounerait-il sa plus belle etoile,
J’aime miens l’enfant qu’il m’a donne,

or in the earliest period of the “ Odes et Ballades ” the gracious

Enfants, voici des bcenfs qui passent;
Cachez vos rouges tabliers,

or, in the “ Chants du Crepuscule,” the benignant and elevated

Lorsquo l'entant parait le cercle qui l’admire.

It need not be said that the poet does not put on the tone of Beranger in “ L’Orage” or of M. Victor Laprade in “Les Conseils d'Un Père," published last year, a volume most notable for its limpidity of style, grave simplicity and elevated thought. Hugo without a little fustian would not be Hugo. His very simplicity is ornate. And yet, either as a piece of literary work or from the point of view of sentiment we are inclined to rank “ L’Art d’Etre Grand- Père ” above most of Hugo’s recent poetical performances. It is pleasanter than most of them. It is free from that Titanic rococo, or shall we say gigantic gingerbread work, which the poet usually claps on some part of his stateliest edifices. If there is none of that dazzling juggling with rhyme, rhythm and the vocabulary in which he has so frequently indulged from sheer wanton consciousness of power, there is all his melody, there are some delicious little romances, and at times there is a return to the simple lyric forms employed so effectively in the epilogueof his “ Chansons des Rues et des Bois ” or his ode to Chateaubriand.

The book, which reached New York by the foreign mail yesterday, contains some three hundred straggling pages. It is divided into eighteen parts, as follows : At Guernsey ;. Jean Asleep ; The Moon ; The Poem of the Jardin des Plantes ; Jean Asleep ; Old Age and Childhood Mingled ; The Immaculate Conception ; Schoolboy’s Scratchings ; Flirtations of Grandpa's Childhood ; Children, Birds and Flowers ; Jean Pelted ; Jean Asleep ; The Epic of the Lion ; To Spirits Flown ; Laus Puero ; Two Songs ; Jean Asleep ; What the Little Ones Grown up will Read. In all there are sixty-six poems, in many—it might be said in most—of which the poet’s own grandchildren, Jeanne and George—we prefer Jean or Jeanie to Jenny, when it comes to Englishing “ Jeanne ”—appear. The book begins with the poet in satisfied exile:

Oh! j’ai vu de si pres les foules miserablos.
I have looked so closely on the miserable crowd;
Its license and its insolence, its clamors coarse and loud;
Wretches by civil war to greatness who increased;
On the judge who should himself he tried; the impure priest.
Serving and smirching God, preaching Yes and proving No—
Seen so closely all the vileness man’s beauty hides below;
In good the ill, in truth the lie; in glory’s stately march
Proud empty Nothings strutting on ’neath the triumphal arch:
I've seen so much that bends, that bites, that runs away,
That feeble, now, and old, and worn, it is my choice to stray
Hereafter to the end alone in forest wilds untrod.
There may I bleed and meditate. And even should a god
Once more to bribe me hack to cities offer me
Glory, and youth, and love, and strength, and victory,
It might prove well that I my woodland cave had kept,
For I am not too sure that I might not accept!

But in the presence of the tempest of souls which we call existence, man ends at last by seeing clearly that there rises above all sorrow and all sinking the sovereignty of one innocent thing, and that it is salutary and good for thought, beneath the black tangle of so many boughs, to contemplate athwart; the ills that are—

'Tween us and Heaven as veils and bars,
A peace profound all lit with stars ;
’Tis this God thinks of as He keeps
The poet where the baby sleeps!

Therefore, “ Jeanne fait son entrée,” babbling to the universe a possibly profound discourse, to which God, the good old grandfather, listens in pleased surprise. Behold, consequently the poet “ Victor, sed victus,” a beast-fighter, who has warred with emperors and abysses and principalities and powers, conquered by the little child. This is the motif of the hook.

After a bit of misanthropic mouthing, and all the fresher for the contrast, as the poet knows, comes an exquisite spring piece, “ Lætitia Rerum : ”

L’aragne sur l’eau fait des ronds ;
O. ciel bleu ! l'ombre est sous la treille
Le jour tremble, et les mousherons
Viennent vous parler à l'oreille

Wanders about the hungry bee,
The yellow wasp bestirs him more,
For all the perfume-drinkers, see,
The spring sets out her lavish store.

Behold the bees to banquet pass,
Prinked out with proper etiquette.
The rosebud is a brimming glass;
The lily is a table set.

From flowers as yet that scarce unclose
The gnat quaffs gold in ecstacy,
And in his tavern of a rose
Dead-drunken lies the butterfly !

A few pages further on comes a characteristic bit — “ Open Windows : The Morning—Asleep ;" wherein the poet challenges orthodox French criticism with the impious rhyme “ steamer ” and “ mer.” Is it not good ?

Sans doute il est tard, car voici
Que vient tout près de moi chanter mon rouge-gorge.
Vacarme de marteaux lointains dans une forge.
L'eau clapote. On entend haleter un steamer.
Une mouche entre. Souffle immense de la mer.

A charming little piece, Jeannie’s siesta, follows at some little distance. Towards noon

Jean has an amiable habit of sleeping.
Her mother a moment may breathe and repose,
For there’s labor in serving if only a rose ;
We watch her, we smile, and our cares vanish all,
She’s a star with the further advantage she’s small.
The shadow in love with her seems to adore her,
And the breeze holds its breath as it light passes o’er her.
But, soft ! the lids open, out goes one plump arm.
One foot, then the other, and then with such -charm
That the angels must bend from the blue heavens to hear
She babbles and coos. Then the mother draws near.
Her accents are music ; she bends o’er the nest.
Seeks what term of endearment will fit it the best.
Her joy, her bud-angel, her “ nightmare !" The mother
Says, “ Oho ! you’re awake again, then. Little Bother !”

In the poem of “ The Moon” there is a headless: and tailless bit of verse in the best style of Hugo the romantic, “ Choses du Soir,”[3] the burden of which is :

Je ne sais plus quand, je ne sais plus où,
Maître Yvon soufflait dans son binion.”

For a fantastic improvisation to a child at night ft is perfect in its weird pictuvings:

The fog is cold and the copse is gray ;
The steers as they move to the water, low ;
The moon from the black clouds taking way,
A light affright seems to come and go.
Je ne sais plus quand, je ne sais plus où,
Maître Yvon soufflait dans son binion.

The traveller trudges, the earth is brown.
A shadow chases, a shade leads on.
Light where the sun climbs, white where it goes down.
Moonlight yonder, and hither the dawn.

The sitting sorceress mutters her spell,
To the roof the spider his web binds up ;
Glow sprites flash and shake in the fires of the dell
Like pistils of gold in a tulip’s cup.

Up over the sea come the night-fogs white ;
Shipwreck is dogging a shivering mast.
Says the wind, “ To-morrow,” the wave, “'To-night :”
Despairing voices flutter past.

The coach sets out from Avranche for Fougère ;
Its whip in the dusk makes a lightning flash.
This is the moment when floating in air,
The gloom gathers vast round the murmurs that clash.[4]
<... continues on page 3-54 >


Editor's notes

  1. image by unknown author
  2. Hugo's "Art of Being a Grandfather" by unknown author
  3. See La Lune”, part II “Choses du soir
  4. <The rest of original verses in French could be found in Wikisource>, or at BonjourPoesie.fr.
  5. image by unknown author