The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Confessions of Voltaire

Regarding the interview of Voltaire and Frederic, published in the last number of the Review, one of our correspondents from Boulogne sent us the following communication, which we publish with as much satisfaction, as it presents an eminently instructive aspect from the spiritist point of view. Our correspondent made some previous reflections that I don’t want to omit.

“If there is a man who, more than anybody else, must suffer the eternal penalties, that man is Voltaire. God’s wrath and vengeance will forever persecute him. That is what the old school theologians tell us.”

“What do the theologians of the modern school tell us now? It is possible, they say, that you don’t know the man as much as you don’t know the God that you talk about. Avoid the inferior passions of hatred and vengeance and do not stain your God with all that. If God is unhappy about this wicked man, if He touches that insect to remove his stinger, to straighten his exalted head and perverted heart. Let us say this still, that God reads the hearts differently from you, finding good where you see evil. If He bestowed that man with a great genius it was to the benefit of the human race, and not against it. What does it matter then, his first extravagant and sniper attitudes among us? Such a soul could hardly act differently: mediocrity was impossible to him, whatever its reach. Now that he has been redirected, that he threw away the paws and the fangs of the untamable horse in his Earthly pasture; now that he comes to God like an always great but sweet steed, he is a much wonderful to the good as he was to the evil.”
“In the following article we will see how such a transformation took place. We will see our stallion of the deserts with his wavy mane to the winds, chasing the open spaces of the universe. Thee, with his free thought, he found the freedom inhaled to full lungs, the breath of life! And what happened to him?”
“He got lost and confused. The great preacher of the nothingness found nothing, at last, but not as he thought. Humiliated, self-abated, disturbed by his littleness, the one who judged himself so great now annihilated before his God. There he is, face on the ground, waiting for his sentence that says: “Stand, my son! Or “Go, miserable! The sentence will be found in the communication below.”
“’This confession of Voltaire will have more value in the Spiritist Review for it shows him in both aspects. We saw that some naturalist and materialist spirits, having as twisted a mind as their master, but without his feeling, persisted with their puff-up, their cynicism. May they stay in their hell while belittling everything that constitutes human being’s happiness; it is logical since it is their place. However, we also find logical that those who acknowledge their mistakes may be rewarded. Thus, we are not apologists of the old Voltaire. We just accept him in his new role, happy for his conversion, which glorifies God and vividly impresses those who were dragged by his writings. There one finds the poison, here the antidote.”
“This communication, translated from the English, was extracted from judge Edmonds’ book, published in the USA. It has the format of a dialogue between Voltaire and Wolsey, the famous English Cardinal from the time of Henry VIII. Two mediums served as intermediaries to the reception of the dialogues.” 
Voltaire – What an immense revolution in human thinking since I left Earth!
Wolsey – In fact, that unfaithfulness then criticized in you has grown immeasurably since those days. It is not that it maintains so much pretension but it is more profound and universal, and, unless it can be stopped, it threatens to swallow humanity into materialism, even more so than it has done over the centuries.
Voltaire – Unfaithfulness to what and to whom? Regarding the laws of God and man? Do you intend to accuse me of unfaithfulness because I could not submit to the narrow prejudices of the sects that surrounded me? My soul sought broader amplitude of thoughts, a beam of light beyond human doctrines. Yes, my darkened soul was thirsty for light.
Wolsey – I wanted to speak only about the unfaithfulness attributed to you, but unfortunately you don’t know how much such imputation still burdens your shoulders. I do not wish to criticize you but manifest my sorrow, as your disdain to the existing material doctrines, invented by man, could not harm a spirit of your kind. However, the same charge brought upon your spirit was also brought onto the others, too weak and small to get to the same results as you did. That is why a denial of human’s dogmas in you was translated into a denial of God in the others. It was from that source that human’s doubt about the future spread so rapidly. That is also why human beings yielded to egotism and hatred towards their neighbor, limiting all their aspirations to this world. Yes, it is the cause, the cause of this state of affairs that has to be sought, since the remedy will be easy once the cause is found. Tell me: do you know that cause?
Voltaire – In reality, there was in my words, as they were given to the world, a feeling of bitterness and satire. Notice, however, that my spirit was broken, so to speak, by an internal fight. I saw humanity as inferior in intelligence and perspicacity. I only saw puppets which could be driven by anyone having a strong will, feeling stunned by seeing that humanity, arrogantly expecting an immortal existence, molded by ignoble elements. Could anyone believe that a being of such a kind were part of Divinity, capable of taking immortality over into his petty hands? Such a blank space those two so disproportionate existences shocked me and I could not accept it. I saw only the animal in man and not God.
I acknowledge that in some cases my opinions had a dreadful influence. I have the conviction, however, that from other points of view they had their good side. Those ideas were able to lift some souls, degraded by slavery. They broke the chains of thought and gave wings to great aspirations. But ah! I who was flying so high, I got lost like the others.
Had I developed the spiritual side as I did with the material one, I would have reasoned with more discernment. I confused them, lost sight of this immortality of the soul that I badly sought and wished.. Thus, carried away by that fight against the world, I denied the existence of a future, almost against my own will. My opposition to the silly opinions, to the blind credulity of human beings, impelled me to deny and, at the same time, to contradict all the benefit which could be promoted by the Christian religion. However incredulous I was, I felt superior to my adversaries; yes, well beyond the reach of their intelligence. The beautiful face of nature revealed the universe to me, inspiring the feeling of a vague veneration, mixed with the desire of a boundless freedom, feeling which they never experienced, squatting under the darkness of slavery.
Thus, my books had their good side because without them, evil that would have reached humanity, by a lack of opposition, would have been even worse. A large number of people no longer accepted slavery; many freed themselves. If my preaching gave them a single elevated thought or made them walk one step only in the path of Science, wouldn’t that be an eye opener regarding their true condition? What I regret is to have lived for such a long time on Earth not knowing what I could have been and what I could have done. What wouldn’t I have done if I only had been blessed by these lights of Spiritism, now shinning over the spirits of human beings!
Skeptical and hesitant, that is how I got to the spiritual world. My presence was enough to send away any spark of light that could have illuminated my murky soul; my material side is what had been developed on Earth. As for my spiritual self, that had been lost, led astray in search of light; left behind bars, in prison.
Mocking and arrogant, that is how I initiated there, not knowing nor trying to know this future against which I fought so hard when alive. However, let us make this confession clear here: there was always a frail voice in my soul, heard through the shackles of matter, asking for light. It was an endless fight between the desire for knowledge and the obstinacy in not knowing. Thus, my entry was far from pleasant. Had I not just discovered the falsity and the nothingness of the opinions that I had sustained with all my heart! The human being was immortal, after all, and I could not but admit that a God must also exist, an immortal spirit who would be in charge, governing such boundless space surrounding me. I travelled incessantly, not allowing myself any rest at all, trying to convince me still that this new world could well be a little material as well; my soul fought the crushing truth! I could not see myself as a spirit that had just left his material lodge! There was nobody to establish a relationship with since I had denied immortality to everyone. There was no resting place for me. I remained wandering and doubting. My murky and bitter spirit was like a maniac, incapable of following guidance or stopping.
That is how, mocking and daring, as I said, that I entered the spirits’ world. In the beginning I was taken far away from the spirits’ dwellings, and I wandered around the immense space. Then I was allowed to see the wonderful habitations of the spirits, and they seemed amazing to me. I was dragged from one side to the other by an irresistible force. I was forced to see, see up to the point that my soul was stunned by the splendors and crushed before the power that controlled such wonders. Finally, I felt like hiding in the cavities of the rocks, but I couldn’t do it.
It was when my heart started to feel the need for expansion. It urged for company of any sort, since I burned for the wishes of confessing how much encouraged to err I was, not by the others, but by my own dreams. There was no more illusion as for my personal importance because I felt belittled in this vast world of the spirits. Thus, I had fallen so much from tiredness and humiliation that I was allowed to gather with a few inhabitants. It was from that moment on that I realized the position that I had established on Earth and the consequences of that in the world of the spirits. Just imagine if such appreciation could be a pleasant one.
A complete revolution, a thorough transformation took place in my spirit and, from the master that I was, I became the most ardent disciple. With my intellectual expansion, what a progress I could make! My soul felt illuminated and burned by the Divine Love. The aspirations to immortality, from constrained that they were, took a gigantic expansion. I saw how big my mistakes had been and the dimension of the reparation before me, to atone everything I had said and done, by seducing or misleading humanity. Oh! How magnificent these lessons of wisdom and the celestial beauty! Much beyond everything I could have ever imagined on Earth.
In summary, I lived enough to acknowledge in my Earthly existence a bloodthirsty battle between the world and the spiritual nature. I profoundly regretted the opinions I had issued, which diverged so many; however, at the same time, full of gratitude to the Creator, the infinitely wise, I feel to have served as an instrument to help human beings’ spirits to turn to evaluation and progress.
OBSERVATION: We will not add any comment to this communication, whose depth and reach can be appreciated by all, where one can find the whole superiority of the genius. It is possible that such a grandiose and impressive picture of the spiritual world had never been given before, as well as about the influence of the Earthly ideas on the ideas of beyond the grave. In the conversation that we published in our previous number one can find the same kind of ideas, although less developed and not so poetically expressed. Those who only appreciate the form may say that they don’t recognize these two communications as from the same spirit, and that particularly the last one does not seem worthy of Voltaire. From that they will conclude that one of them is not his.
It is certain that he did not bring his birth certificate when we called him, but whoever may see above the surface will be touched by the identity of points of view and principles between these two communications, obtained at different times, far from each other and in different languages. If the style is not the same, there is no contradiction in the thoughts, and that is essential. However, considering that it was the same spirit that spoke on both occasions, why is he so explicit and poetic in one of them, and terse and vulgar in the other? It is necessary that one did not study the spiritist phenomena in order to not understand it. The fact is due to the same cause that leads the spirit to dictate charming poems through a medium and not be able to give a single verse through another. We know mediums that absolutely do not write verses, but receive remarkable poems, as we know others who have never learned to paint but who produce wonderful paintings. It is thus necessary to acknowledge that the mediums have special aptitudes that make them more or less flexible or more or less adequate tools to certain spirits, abstraction made of the intellectual qualities.
We say to certain spirits because they also have their preferences, founded on not always known reasons. Hence, the spirit will be more or less explicit pending on the medium that serves him as interpreter and, above all, according to the habit in utilizing his service. Besides, it is certain that a spirit who frequently communicates through the same person does so with more easiness than another that communicates for the first time. The transmission of thought can thus be stalled by many causes; but when it is the same spirit, the underlying thought is the same, although the form may be different, and the sharp observer can easily recognize him through certain characteristic signs.
The following fact is reported with that respect:
The spirit of a sovereign, who had a distinct role in the world, was evoked in one of our sessions. He showed rage at his arrival, tearing the paper off and breaking the pencil. His language was far from benevolent since he felt humiliated for being among us. He asked us if we thought that he should downgrade himself to the point of answering our questions. He agreed however that if he was responding it was by some sort of constraint, obliged by a force superior to his own; if it depended on him, however, he would not do so.
One of our correspondents from Africa, who knew nothing about the fact, wrote to us about a meeting in which they wanted to evoke the same spirit. His language was identical in all aspects. He said: “Do you believe that I would voluntarily come to this house of merchants, which perhaps even one of my servants would refuse to inhabit? I do not respond to you. This reminds me of my kingdom where I was happy and had authority over my people. Now I have to submit.”
The spirit of a queen, who was not distinguished by her good heart when alive, responded in the following way to the same group: “No more questions, since you bother me. If I still had the power I enjoyed on Earth I would make you regret the lot of you, but now that I have no power over you, you laugh at me and my misery. I am very unhappy!”
Don’t we have here a curious study of the spirits’ habits?

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