Foster, Charles H - Chatting with Virgil
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Salem Seer – George Bartlett
We regard the account of the following seance as one of the most remarkable :
Last night we again held an interview with Mr. Charles Foster, the spiritual medium, and our object was to ascertain how far he could communicate with the spirits of the ancients. Unknown to him we wrote on separate slips of paper the names, Virgil, Don Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Lope Felix de Vega. Don Miguel de Cervantes, and also the name of a dead man under whom we had received instructions in the modern languages. Very soon Mr. Foster handed us a paper, stating that it bore the name of
VIRGIL, THE LATIN BARD,
who wished to communicate with us. We asked him several questions, among them the authorship of the lines in the AEneid, " Hcec olim meminisse juvabit" which were written on a slip of paper and apparently not seen by Mr. Foster. Virgil claimed the authorship of these lines, and added nine or ten consecutive verses. By request made in writing, as all our questions were, and none of them read by Mr. Foster, proper quotations were made from the various passages in the Aeneid and Georgics. Satisfying ourselves on this point, the
SPIRIT OF THE PROFESSOR
in the above named manner announced its presence, and thereupon ensued the following dialogue, Mr. Foster speaking as the medium of our ethereal friend, whom we asked concerning a friend, long dead, and whom we shall call Albito, he being an Italian :
Dov'e' ? (Where is he ?)
Spirit — Dov'e' chi? (Where is who ?)
Spirit — Non e' Inglesese ; e Italian. (He is not an Englishman; he is an Italian.) Stelle infermo da sei mese. (He was sick about six months.)
Dov'e' il mio socio ? (Where is my companion, or friend ?), we now asked, for our credulity was shaken, inasmuch as Albito had been killed by robbers.
Spirit — L'uccesero al suo retorno. (They killed him on his return.)
We felt satisfied the medium knew something, for the manner of this young friend's death, murdered as he was, was here related, and each circumstance connected with it detailed. We next were requested to hold a conversational
INTERVIEW WITH CERVANTES,
whom we asked to give us the concluding lines to the piece of poetry in the second chapter of Don Quijote de la Mancha, which reads, Munca fuera caballero, etc. Immediately was written its other lines, De damas tan bien servido como fuera Lanzarote cuando de Bretano vino. Other test-questions were asked Cervantes, who answered them promptly.
next communicated with us, and we asked him to state the third line to the two last in his drama, entitled El Principe Constante. Instantly was written on the paper, ' ' Aqui de sus yer ros grandes, ' ' which line is the one asked for. We then asked for the second line in the third act, after
THE DEVIL ENTERS.
The answer was written correctly, in these words : ' ' Osabio maestro mio." We doubted that Calderon was the author of three hundred and twenty pieces, but he assured us he was the author of many more which had never been published. Our conversation with de Vega was interrupted, and not as many questions asked through the medium of Mr. Foster, who stated that he did not know the meaning of the words written ; he was an agency merely, and had no comprehension of what often was dictated. Very often he would speak the answers, but usually so fast none but a true Italian or Spaniard could catch every word. As to the means he has of communicating this information, selecting even the concluding word in a line from almost any poet of antiquity, we do not pretend to explain at present, but merely leave our readers to infer.