O artigo abaixo foi publicado pelo embaixador e professor russo Alexandre Aksakof em 1875 no periódico 'The Spiritualist Newspaper' de Londres. A reprodução deste artigo também pode ser encontrada aqui e aqui. A partir dele se apresenta uma controvérsia a respeito do grau de participação da médium no conteúdo do Livro.
Num próximo post vamos publicar uma tradução deste artigo com alguns comentários nossos.
In view of the approaching publication of translations in the English language of the works of Allan Kardec, of which the principal volume, The Spirits' Book, is already out, I feel it my duty to lay before the English public the result of my researches in the direction of the origin of the dogma of Reincarnation. When “Spiritism,” newly baptised with this name, and embodied in form of a doctrine by Kardec, began to spread in France, nothing astonished me more than the divergence of this doctrine from that of “Spiritualism,” touching the point of Reincarnation. This divergence was the more strange because the sources of the contradictory affirmations claim to be the same, namely, the spirit-world and communications given by spirits. As Spiritism was born in 1856 with the publication of the Book of Spirits, it is clear that to solve this enigma it was necessary to begin with the historical origin of this book. It is remarkable that nowhere, either in this volume or in any of the others, does Kardec give upon this head the slightest detail. And why was this? the essential point in all serious criticism being to know before all things how such a book came into existence?
As I did not live in Paris, it was difficult for me to procure the necessary information; all that I could learn was that a certain somnambulist, known by the name of Celina Japhet, had contributed largely to the work, but that she had been dead for a long time. During my stay in Paris in 1873, I explained to a Spiritualistic friend my regret that I had never met this somnambulist in life, to which he replied that he had also heard that she was dead, but he doubted whether the rumour was true; also that he had reason to suppose that this was nothing but a rumour spread abroad by the Spiritists, and that it would be well if I made further personal inquiry. He gave me a former address of Mme. Japhet, and what was my astonishment and joy to find her in perfect health! When I told her of my surprise, she replied that it was nothing new to her, for the Spiritists were actually making her pass for a dead person. Here is the substance of the information which she was obliging enough to give me.
Mdlle. Celina Bequet was a natural somnambulist from her earliest years. At sixteen or seventeen years of age, while residing with her parents in Paris; she was mesmerised for the first time by Ricard, and three times by him in all. In 1841 she was living in the provinces, and was attacked with a serious illness; having lost the use of her legs, she was confined to her bed for twenty-seven months; afterwards, having lost all hope of relief from medicine, she was mesmerised and put to sleep by her brother; she then prescribed the necessary remedies, and after treatment for six weeks she got out of bed and could walk with the aid of crutches, which she was obliged to use for eleven months. At last, in 1843, she had entirely recovered her health.
In 1845 she went to Paris in search of M. Ricard, and she made the acquaintance of M. Roustan at the house of M. Millet, a mesmerist. She then took, for family considerations, the name of Japhet; and became a professional somnambulist under the control of M. Roustan, and remained in that position till about 1848. She gave, under her assumed name, medical advice under the spiritual direction of her grandfather, who had been a doctor, and also of Hahnemann and of Mesmer, from whom she received a great number of communications. In thus manner in 1846 the doctrine of Reincarnation was given to her by the spirits of her grandfather, St. Theresa, and others. (As the somnambulic powers of Madame Japhet were developed under the mesmeric influence of M. Roustan, it may be well to remark in this place that M. Roustan himself believed in the plurality of terrestrial existences. See Cahagnet's Sanctuaire au Spiritualisme - Paris, 1850 - page 164: since dated August 24th, 1848.)
In 1849 Madame d’Abnour, on her return from America, desired to form a circle for spiritual phenomena, of which she had lately been a witness. For this purpose she called upon M. de Guldenstubbe, by whom M. Roustan and Celina Japhet were asked to become members of his spirit-circle. (See the German edition of Pneumatologie Positive of the Baron de Guldenstubbe-Stuttgart, 1870-page 87.) This circle was also joined by the Abbé Chatel and the three Demoiselles Bauvrais; it consisted therefore of nine persons. This circle met once a week at the house of Madame Japhet, 46, Rue des Martyrs; afterwards, almost up to the time of the war of 1870, it met twice a week. In 1855 the circle was composed of the following persons: M. Tierry, M. Taillandier, M. Tillman, M. Ramon de la Sagia (since dead), Messrs. Sardou (father and son), Madame Japhet, and M. Roustan, who continued a member of it until about 1864. They began by making a chain, American fashion, in form of a horse-shoe, round Madame Celina, and they obtained spiritual phenomena more or less remarkable; but soon Madame Celina developed as a writing medium, and it was through that channel that the greater part of the communications were obtained.
In 1856 she met M. Denizard Rivail, introduced by M. Victorien Sardou. He correlated the materials by a number of questions, himself arranged the whole in systematic order, and published The Spirits' Book without ever mentioning the name of Madame C. Japhet, although three-quarters of this book had been given through her mediumship. The rest was obtained from communications through Madame Bodin, who belonged to another spirit-circle. She is not mentioned except on the last page of the first number of the Revue Spirite, where, in consequence of the number of reproaches that were addressed to him, he makes a short mention of her. As he was also attached to an important journal, L' Univers, he published his book under the names which he had borne in his two previous existences. One of these names was Allan - a fact revealed to him by Madame Japhet, and the other name of Kardec was revealed to him by the medium Roze.
After the publication of the Book of Spirits, of which Kardec did not even present one copy to Madame Japhet, he quitted the circle and arranged another in his own house, M. Roze being the medium. When he thus left he possessed a mass of manuscript which he had carried off from the house of Madame Japhet, and he availed himself of the right of an editor by never giving it back again. To the numerous requests for its return which were made to him, he contented himself by replying, “Let her go to law with me.” These manuscripts were to some extent useful in the compilation of the Book of Mediums, of which all the contents, so says Madame Japhet, had been obtained through medial communications.
It would be essential in order to complete this article to review the ideas on preexistence and on reincarnation which were strongly in vogue in France just before 1850. An abstract of these will be found in the work of M. Pezzani on The Plurality of Existences. The works of Cahagnet should also be consulted. As I am now away from my library, it is impossible for me to give the relative points exactly.
In addition to the foregoing, supplementary details bearing upon the origin of The Book of Spirits, and the different points connected therewith, can and ought to be obtained from living witnesses to throw light upon the conception and birth of this book, such as Madame Japhet, Mdlle. de Guldenstubbe, M. Sardou, and M. Taillandier. The last continues up to the present time to work with Madame Japhet as a medium; she is still in possession of her somnambulic powers, and continues to give consultations. She sends herself off to sleep by means of objects which have been mesmerised by M. Roustan. I think it a duty on this occasion to testify to the excellence of her lucidity. I consulted her about myself, and she gave me exact information as to a local malady and as to the state of my health in general. Now is it not astonishing that this remarkable person, who has done so much for French Spiritism, should be living entirely unknown for twenty years, and no notice or remark made about her? Instead of being the centre of public attention she is totally ignored; in fact, they have buried her alive! Let us hope that the reparation which is due to her will be made one day. “Spiritualism” might, in this matter, offer a noble example to “Spiritism.” *
Now to return to the question of Reincarnation. I leave it to English critics to draw their deductions from the facts which I unravelled by my researches, incomplete though they be; I will do no more than throw out the following ideas: That the propagation of this doctrine by Kardec was a matter of strong predilection is clear; from the beginning Reincarnation has not been presented as an object of study, but as a dogma. To sustain it he has always had recourse to writing mediums, who, it is well known, pass so easily under the psychological influence of preconceived ideas; and Spiritism has engendered such in profusion; whereas through physical mediums the communications are not only more objective, but always contrary to the doctrine of Reincarnation. Kardec adopted the plan of always disparaging this kind of mediumship, alleging as a pretest its moral inferiority. Thus the experimental method is altogether unknown in Spiritism; for twenty years it has not made the slightest intrinsic progress, and it has remained in total ignorance of Anglo-American Spiritualism! The few French physical mediums who developed their powers in spite of Kardec, were never mentioned by him in the Revue; they remained almost unknown to Spiritists, and only because their spirits did not support the doctrine of Reincarnation! Thus Camille Bredif, a very good physical medium, acquired celebrity only in consequence of his visit to St. Petersburg. I do not remember ever to have seen in the Revue Spirite the slightest notice of him, still less any description of manifestations produced in his presence. Knowing the reputation of Mr. Home, Kardec made several overtures to get him upon his side; he had two interviews with him for this purpose, but as Mr. Home told him that the spirits who had communicated through him never endorsed the idea of Reincarnation, he thenceforth ignored him, thereby disregarding the value of the manifestations which were produced in his presence. I have upon this head a letter from Mr. Home, although at the present moment it is not within reach.
In conclusion, it is scarcely necessary to point out that all that I have herein stated does not affect the question of Reincarnation, considered upon its own merits, but only concerns the causes of its origin and of its propagation as Spiritism.
Chateau de Krotofka, Russia, July 24th, 1875
[* The address of Madame Japhet is Paris, Rue des Enfants Rouges, G.]