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Observations placeholder

Robert Bell - Stranger than Fiction – 03 The table glided slowly towards a table which stood close to a large ottoman



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Robert Bell, 'Stranger than Fiction', Cornhill Magazine 2 (1860), 211-24.

While we were seated at this table, we barely touched it with the tips of our fingers. I was anxious to satisfy myself with respect to the involuntary pressure which has been attributed to the imposition of hands.

In this case there was none. My friends kindly gratified my request to avoid resting the slightest weight on the table ; and we held our hands pointing downwards, with merely the nails touching the wood. Not only was this light contact inadequate to produce the violent evolutions that took place, but the evolutions were so irregular and perplexing, that we could not have produced them by premeditation. Presently, however, we had conclusive proofs that the vivacity of the table did not require any help from us.

Turning suddenly over on one side, it sank to the floor. In this horizontal position it glided slowly towards a table which stood close to a large ottoman in the centre of the room. We had much trouble in following it, the apartment being crowded with furniture, and our difficulty was considerably increased by being obliged to keep up with it in a stooping attitude.

Part of the journey it performed alone, and we were never able to reach it at any time together. Using the leg of the large table as a fulcrum, it directed its claws towards the ottoman, which it attempted to ascend, by inserting one claw in the side, then turning half way round to make good another step, and so on. It slipped down at the first attempt, but again quietly resumed its task.

It was exactly like a child trying to climb up a height. All this time we hardly touched it, being afraid of interfering with its movements, and, above all things, determined not to assist them. At last, by careful and persevering efforts, it accomplished the top of the ottoman, and stood on the summit of the column in the centre, from whence in a few minutes it descended to the floor by a similar process.

It is not to be expected that any person who is a stranger to these phenomena, should read such a story as this with complacency. It would be irrational to anticipate a patient hearing, for a traveller who should tell you that he was once addressed in good English by an oak tree; and talking trees are not a whit more improbable than moving tables. Yet here is a fact which undoubtedly took place, and which cannot be referred to any known physical or mechanical forces.

It is not a satisfactory answer to those who have seen such things, to say that they are impossible; since, in such cases, it is evident that the impossibility of a thing does not prevent it from happening.

The source of the experience

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