Story type: Essay
The other day I received a most extraordinary spirit picture anonymously through the post. I cannot describe this picture–it is well-nigh indescribable. The effect is wonderful, though the means are of the simplest. Apparently the artist had upset a bottle of ink over a large piece of white cardboard, and then, with the aid of a sharp penknife, cut his way across it in long narrow slashes until the effect is that of rays of light which, seen from a distance, have the effect of luminosity in a most extraordinary degree. In the corner there is the figure of Christ on the Cross, to which this method has given the most marvellous effect of light and shadow. Indeed, the whole picture is almost uncanny in its effectiveness and in the simplicity of the means to this end. You ask me if I believe it to be really and truly a spirit picture? Well, honestly, I do not know. I realise the beauty of the picture–everyone must realise this who sees it; but, whether the artist who designed it and transmitted his idea through a human hand be a spirit I should not like to declare, for the simple reason that I understand so little of spiritualism–except that side of spiritualism which I do not believe–that I should be foolish to be dogmatic when all the time I realise that I am yet in ignorance. But of the genuineness of the “medium” through whose hand the spirit picture was transmitted I am certain. He thoroughly believed in the phenomenon that a spirit from another world was using him to convey messages to the inhabitants of this. You ask me why I believe in his conviction–well, my answer would be so mundane that you might perhaps laugh at my logic. But one at least I can give, and it is this; that, in my experience of mediums and professional spiritualists, one always, as it were, hears the rattle of the collection-box behind the “messages” from another sphere–either that, or the person is so eccentric that “mediumship” in his case has become merely another form of mental affliction. Well, the artist who sent me this picture is, except for this fixed idea that he is a medium between this world and the next, as normal as you or I, and his belief not only is making him poorer each day–the “spirit” firmly forbidding him either to sell or exhibit his pictures–but is gently, yet inevitably, leading him straight towards the workhouse.