The Spirit's Second Visit


Accordingly, the next morning they concentrated their minds

simultaneously on the spirit, wishing with all their strength

that he should reappear.

"Whether he be far or near," said Ayrault, "he must feel that,

for we are using the entire force of our


Shadows began to form, and dancing prismatic colours appeared,

but as yet there was no sign of the deceased bishop,

suddenly he took shape among them, his appearance and

disappearance being much like that of stereopticon views on the

sheet before a lantern. He held himself erect, and his

thoughtful, dignified face had the same calm expression it had

worn before.

"We attracted your attention," said Ayrault, "in the way you said

we might, because we longed so to see you."

"Yes," added Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "we felt we MUST see you


"I am always at your service," replied the spirit, "and will

answer your questions. With regard to my visibility and

invisibility"--he continued, with a smile, "for I will not wait

for you to ask the explanation of what is in your minds--it is

very simple. A man's soul can never die; a manifestation of the

soul is the spirit; this has entity, consciousness, and will, and

these also live forever. As in the natural or material life, as

I shall call it, will affects the material first. Thus, a child

has power to move its hand or a material object, as a toy, before

it can become the medium in a psychological seance. So it is

here. Before becoming visible to your eyes, I, by my will, draw

certain material substances in the form of gases from the ground,

water, or air around me. These take any shape I wish--not

necessarily that of man, though it is more natural to appear as

we did on earth--and may absorb a portion of light, and so be

able to cast a shadow or break up the white rays into prismatic

colours, or they may be wholly invisible. By an effort of the

will, then, I combine and condense these gases--which consist

principally of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon--into

flesh, blood, water, or anything else. You have already learned

on earth that, by the application of heat, every solid and every

liquid substance, which is solid or liquid simply because of the

temperature at which you find it, can be expanded into gas or

gases; and that by cold and pressure every gas can be reduced to

a liquid or a solid. On earth the state of a substance, whether

solid, liquid, or gaseous, depends simply upon those two

conditions. Here neither thermal nor barometric changes are

required, for, by mastering the new natural laws that at death

become patent to our senses, we have all the necessary control.

It requires but an effort of my will to be almost instantly

clothed in human form, and but another effort to rearrange the

molecules in such a way as to make the envelope visible. Some

who have been dead longer, or had a greater natural aptitude than

I, have advanced further, and all are learning; but the

difference in the rate at which spirits acquire control of

previously unknown natural laws varies far more than among

individuals on earth.

"These forms of organic life do not disintegrate till after

death; here in the natural state they break down and dissolve

into their structural elements in full bloom, as was done by the

fungi. The poisonous element in the deadly gust, against which I

warned you, came from the gaseous ingredients of toadstools,

which but seldom, and then only when the atmosphere has the

greatest affinity for them, dissolve automatically, producing a

death-spreading wave, against which your meteorological

instruments in future can warn you. The slight fall you noticed

in temperature was because the specific heat of these gases is

high, and to become gas while in the solid state they had to

withdraw some warmth from the air. The fatal breath of the

winged lizards--or dragons, as you call them--results from the

same cause, the action of their digestion breaking up the fungus,

which does not kill them, because they exhale the poisonous part

in gaseous form with their breath. The mushrooms dissolve more

easily; the natural separation that takes place as they reach a

certain stage in their development being precipitated by

concussion or shock.

"Having seen that, as on earth, we gain control of the material

first, our acquisitiveness then extends to a better understanding

and appreciation of our new senses, and we are continually

finding new objects of beauty, and new beauties in things we

supposed we already understood. We were accustomed on earth to

the marvellous variety that Nature produced from apparently

simple means and presented to our very limited senses; here there

is an indescribably greater variety to be examined by vastly

keener senses. The souls in hell have an equally keen but

distorted counterpart of our senses, so that they see in a

magnified form everything vile in themselves and in each other.

To their senses only the ugly and hateful side is visible, so

that the beauty and perfume of a flower are to them as loathsome

as the appearance and fumes of a toadstool. As evolution and the

tendency of everything to perpetuate itself and intensify its

peculiarities are invariable throughout the universe, these

unhappy souls and ourselves seem destined to diverge more and

more as time goes on; and while we constantly become happier as

our capacity for happiness increases, their sharpening senses

will give them a worse and worse idea of each other, till their

mutual repugnance will know no bounds, and of everything

concerning which they obtain knowledge through their senses.

Thus these poor creatures seem to be the victims of circumstances

and the unalterable laws of fate, and were there such a thing as

death, their misery would unquestionably finally break their

hearts. That there will be final forgiveness for the condemned,

has long been a human hope; but as yet they have experienced

none, and there is no analogy for it in Nature.

"But while you have still your earthly bodies and the

opportunities they give you of serving God, you need not be

concerned about hell; no one on earth, knowing how things really

are, would ever again forsake His ways. The earthly state is the

most precious opportunity of securing that for which a man would

give his all. Even from the most worldly point of view, a man is

an unspeakable fool not to improve his talents and do good. What

would those in sheol not give now for but one day in the flesh on

earth, of which you unappreciatives may still have so many? The

well-used opportunities of even one hour might bring joy to those

in paradise forever, and greatly ease the lot of those in hell.

In doing acts of philanthropy, however, you must remember the

text of the sermon the doctor of divinity preached to Craniner

and Ridley just before they perished at the stake: 'Though I

give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me

nothing'--which shows that even good deeds must be performed in

the proper spirit.

"A new era is soon to dawn on earth. Notwithstanding your great

material progress, the future will exceed all the past. Man will

find every substance's maximum use, thereby vastly increasing his

comfort. Then, when advanced in science and reason, with the

power of his senses increased by the delicate instruments that

you, as the forerunners of the coming man, are already learning

to make, may he cease to be a groveller, like our progenitors the

quadrupeds, and may his thoughts rise to his Creator, who has

brought him to such heights through all the intricacies of the

way. Your preparation for the life to come can also be greatly

aided by intercourse with those who have already died. When you

really want to associate spiritually with us, you can do so; for,

though perhaps only one in a hundred million can, like me, so

clothe himself as to be again visible to mortal eyes, many of us

could affect gelatine or extremely sensitive plates that would

show interruptions in the ultra-violet chemical rays that, like

the thermal red beyond the visible spectroscope, you know exist

though you can neither see nor feel them. Spirits could not

affect the magnetic eye, because magnetism, though immaterial

itself, is induced and affected only by a material substance.

The impression on the plate, however, like the prismatic colours

you have already noticed, can be produced by a slight rarefaction

of the hydrogen in the air, so that, though no spirit could be

photographed as such, a code and language might be established by

means of the effect produced on the air by the spirit's mind. I

am so interested in the subject of my disquisition that I had

almost forgotten that your spirits are still subject to the

requirements of the body. Last time I dined with you; let me now

play the host."

"We shall be charmed to dine with you," said Ayrault, "and shall

be only too glad of anything that will keep you with us."

"Then," said the spirit, "as the tablecloth is laid, we need only

to have something on it. Let each please hold a corner," he

continued, taking one himself with his left hand, while he passed

his right to his brow. Soon flakes as of snow began to form in

the air above, and slowly descended upon the cloth; and, glancing

up, the three men saw that for a considerable height this process

was going on, the flakes increasing in size as they fell till

they attained a length of several inches. When there was enough

for them all on the table-cloth the shower ceased. Sitting down

on the ground, they began to eat this manna, which had a

delicious flavour and marvellous purity and freshness.

"As you doubtless have already suspected," said the spirit, "the

basis of this in every case is carbon, combined with nitrogen in

its solid form, and with the other gases the atmosphere here

contains. You may notice that the flakes vary in colour as well

as in taste, both of which are of course governed by the gas with

which the carbon, also in its visible form, is combined. It is

almost the same process as that performed by every plant in

withdrawing carbon from the air and storing it in its trunk in

the form of wood, which, as charcoal, is again almost pure

carbon, only in this case the metamorphosis is far more rapid.

This is perhaps the natural law that Elijah, by God's aid,

invoked in the miracle of the widow's cruse, and that produced

the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert; while apergy

came in play in the case of the stream that Moses called from the

rock in the wilderness, which followed the descendants of Abraham

over the rough country through which they passed. In examining

miracles with the utmost deference, as we have a right to, we see

one law running through all. Even in Christ's miracle of

changing the water to wine, there was a natural law, though only

one has dwelt on earth who could make that change, which, from a

chemist's standpoint, was peculiarly difficult on account of the

required fermentation, which is the result of a developed and

matured germ. Many of His miracles, however, are as far beyond

my small power as heaven is above the earth. Much of the

substance of the loaves and fishes with which He fed the

multitude--the carbon and nitrogenous products--also came from

the air, though He could have taken them from many other sources.

The combination and building up of these in the ordinary way

would have taken weeks or months, but was performed

instantaneously by His mighty power."

"What natural laws are known to you," asked Bearwarden, "that we

do not understand, or concerning the existence of which we are


"Most of the laws in the invisible world," said the spirit, "are

the counterpart or extension of laws that appear on earth, though

you as yet understand but a small part of those, many not having

come to your notice. You, for instance, know that light, heat,

and motion are analogous, and either of the last two can be

converted into the other; but in practice you produce motion of

the water molecules by the application of heat, and seldom

reverse it. One of the first things we master here is the power

to freeze or boil water, by checking the motion of the molecules

in one case, and by increasing it, and their mutual repulsion, in

the other. This is by virtue of a simple law, though in this

case there is no natural manifestation of it on earth with which

to compare it. While knowledge must be acquired here through

study, as on earth, the new senses we receive with the awakening

from death render the doing so easy, though with only the senses

we had before it would have been next to impossible.

"At this moment snow is falling on the Callisto; but this you

could not know by seeing, and scarcely any degree of evolution

could develop your sight sufficiently, unassisted by death. With

your instruments, however, you could already perceive it,

notwithstanding the intervening rocks.

"Your research on earth is the best and most thorough in the

history of the race; and could we but give you suggestions as to

the direction in which to push it, the difference between

yourselves and angels might be but little more than that between

the number and intensity of the senses and the composition of the

body. By the combination of natural laws you have rid yourselves

of the impediment of material weight, and can roam through space

like spirits, or as Columbus, by virtue of the confidence that

came with the discovery of the mariner's compass, roamed upon and

explored the sea. You have made a good beginning, and were not

your lives so short, and their requirements so peremptory, you

might visit the distant stars.

"I will show you the working of evolution. Life sleeps in

minerals, dreams in plants, and wakes in you. The rock worn by

frost and age crumbles to earth and soil. This enters the

substance of the primordial plant, which, slowly rising; produces

the animal germ. After that the way is clear, and man is evolved

from protoplasm through the vertebrate and the ape. Here we have

the epitome of the struggle for life in the ages past, and the

analogue of the journey in the years to come. Does not the

Almighty Himself make this clear where He says through his

servant Isaiah, 'Behold of these stones will I raise up

children'?--and the name Adam means red earth. God, having

brought man so far, will not let evolution cease, and the next

stage of life must be the spiritual."

"Can you tell us anything," asked Ayrault, "concerning the bodies

that those surviving the final judgment will receive?"

"Notwithstanding the unfolding of knowledge that has come to us

here," replied the spirit, "there are still some subjects

concerning which we must look for information to the inspired

writers in the Bible, and every gain or discovery goes to prove

their veracity. We know that there are celestial bodies and

bodies terrestrial, and that the spiritual bodies we shall

receive in the resurrection will have power and will be

incorruptible and immortal. We also know by analogy and reason

that they will be unaffected by the cold and void of space, so

that their possessors can range through the universe for

non-nillions and decillions of miles, that they will have

marvellous capacities for enjoying what they find, and that no

undertaking or journey will be too difficult, though it be to the

centre of the sun. Though many of us can already visit the

remote regions of space as spirits, none can as yet see God; but

we know that as the sight we are to receive with our new bodies

sharpens, the pure in heart will see Him, though He is still as

invisible to the eyes of the most developed here as the ether of

space is to yours."