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Observations placeholder

De Morgan, Augustus - From Matter to Spirit - 03 Preface on the experiences of Mr De Morgan – questions and answers to the spirit



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

From Matter to Spirit - Preface written by Augustus De Morgan

On being asked to put a question to the first spirit, I begged that I might be allowed to put my question mentally -that is, without speaking it, or writing it, or pointing it out to myself on an alphabet,-and that Mrs. Hayden might hold both arms extended while the answer was in progress. Both demands were instantly granted by a couple of raps. I put the question and desired the answer might be in one word, which I assigned; all mentally.

I then took the printed alphabet, put a book upright before it, and, bending my eyes upon it, proceeded to point to the letters in the usual way. The word chess was given, by a rap at each letter. I had now a reasonable certainty of the following alternative: either some thought-reading of a character wholly inexplicable, or such superhuman acuteness on the part of Mrs. Hayden that she could detect the letter I wanted by my bearing, though she (seated six feet from the book which hid my alphabet) could see neither my hand nor my eye) nor at what rate I was going through the letters.

I was fated to be driven out of the second altemative before the sitting was done.

At a later period of the evening, when another spirit was under examination, I asked him whether he remembered a certain review which was published soon after his death, and whether he could give me the initials of an epithet (which happened to be in five words) therein applied to himself.

Consent having been given, I began my way through the alphabet, as above: the only difference of circumstances being that a bright table-lamp was now between me and the medium.

I expected to be brought up at, say the letter r; and when my pencil passed that letter without any signal, I was surprised, and by the time I came to K, or thereabouts, I paused, intending to announce a failure. But someone called out, 'You have passed it; I heard a tap long ago.'

I began again; and distinct raps came, first at c, then at D.

I was now satisfied that the spirit had failed; and I thought to myself that it was rather hard to expect him to remember a passage in a review published in 1817, or thereabouts. But, stopping to consider a little more, it flashed into my mind that C D were his own initials, and that he had chosen to commence the clause which contained the epithet.

I then said nothing but 'I see what you are at: pray go on,' and I then got T (for the), then the F I wanted-of which not one word had been said, - and then the remaining four initials. I was now satisfied that the contents of my mind had been read which could not have been detected by my method of pointing to the alphabet, even supposing that could have been seen.

The source of the experience

De Morgan, Augustus

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps