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Page:Biographical and critical studies by James Thomson ("B.V.").djvu/319

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A STRANGE BOOK

Secondly, we are not told over what period of time the "about fifty hours" of these writings from dictation of "the spirit" were scattered. The Note, which serves as Preface, is dated June 3, 1857, and states that the writer (he would not consent to be termed the author) determined to make the experiment "last autumn;" but we are not informed when the poems were finished, how long before the date of the Note. This point is of importance in relation to the question, Does "the spirit" require intervals of repose, like a mere human author, between the efforts of composition?—though if such intervals were required, it would be quite open to the amanuensis to attribute the need of them to his own weakness and exhaustion, and not to any weariness or fluctuation of power in the dictating "Spirit" itself.

Thirdly, the Note does not tell whether the pieces are printed in the order in which they were written. This point also is of importance, as bearing upon the questions, Does the dictation of "the spirit" tend to more and more sweetness and light, or to more and more wildness and gloom, or does it continue equable? But here again, supposing manifest a lack of progress, or even a steadily progressive deterioration, it is quite competent to the medium to allege his own frailty and fatigue, while refusing to admit either in "the spirit;" though in this case he is exposed to the fair inference that the longer a man practises self-abnegation and openness to the "Divine influx," the more lucid and lovely and beautiful should become his expression or communication thereof. It appears to me that most of the best pieces, the most