Summer 2015

The Pasilalinic Sympathetic Compass

Jules Allix

Universal and instantaneous communication of thought, at any distance whatever, with the aid of a portable apparatus known as the pasilalinic sympathetic compass, by Messieurs Benoît (de l’Hérault) and Biat-Chrétien (American)

Paris, 17 October 1850

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
—Genesis 11:1

Dear Editor,

Ever since I have had the honor of announcing the discovery of Messrs. Jacques Toussaint Benoît (de l’Hérault) and Biat-Chrétien (American), my excitement about their new system for the universal and instantaneous communication of thought has not ceased to increase.

It will be the same for everyone, moreover: for the more one ponders the consequences, the more these are found to be sublime. But today it is not a matter of excitement and enthusiasm; on the contrary I would like to eschew these. The explanations and documents of all sorts sent to me by Mr. Benoît, one of the inventors, enable me to touch, as it were with my finger, upon the phenomenon and its causes. It is from this powerful yet sober point of view that I would like above all to approach the matter, in order thus to avoid, in the account that follows, even the slightest trace of an appearance of delusion on my part.

But let us get to the facts themselves, and to the experiment about which I am going to speak to you.

The fact at issue, as I have had the honor to tell you, is the discovery of a new system for the communication of thought, as a result of which all men will be able to correspond instantly with one another, at whatever distance they are placed, man to man, or several men simultaneously, at every corner of the world, and this without recourse to the conductive wires of electrical communication, but solely with the aid of what is basically a portable machine, which the inventors call the “pasilalinic sympathetic compass,” and which moreover may be built to any size and may be made to take on any shape.

And as for the experiment, in order for you to understand its success, I would no doubt only need to limit myself to describing it. But seeing as, in this dissertation, which is addressed not only to France but to the world, I have undertaken at the same time to make it understood, to the extent possible, in its means and in its causes, I will in the first instance give an account of the origin of the discovery, from the double point of view of science and practice.

In 1790, Galvani, the celebrated physician of Bologna, having by chance noticed while dissecting frogs that this animal experienced convulsions when its muscles and nerves were made to communicate with one another by means of two metallic blades of different natures, believed he was able to explain this phenomenon by supposing there to be a particular fluid in the animal, a sort of vital fluid that was thus called, after its discoverer, galvanic fluid.

This explanation, accepted at first, did not satisfy the physicist Volta, who, in following up on Galvani’s observations ten years later, demonstrated that the convulsions that had been observed by the latter had no cause other than electricity, and that the electricity in question came not from the animal itself but only from the contact between the two dissimilar metals.

This assertion, new as it was courageous, was proven beyond any doubt by the invention of the pile, a sort of column that is more or less elevated and formed through the superposition, repeated a number of times in a constantly uniform order, of a ring of copper, another ring in zinc, and a third made from a wet sheet. Next, when with the help of a metallic wire the extremities of this column—or, better, the two poles of this pile—were made to communicate with one another, science was from that point on in possession of an instrument of a power such that it would have been impossible for the most audacious imagination even to dream of the thousandth part of the wonders that it does not cease to bring about every day.

The phenomena on which the communication of thought by electrical telegraphy rests are: the pile, the deviation of the magnetic needle by means of an electrical current, the magnetization of iron under the same influence, the conductive property of the earth, and the currents of induction.

Since the invention of the pile by Volta, galvanism has made immense progress; its applications have been numerous for the greatest as well as for the smallest things, in the arts as in industry. But the greatest application that has been made, without doubt, is the one that yielded electrical telegraphy.

Now, if you think about it, you will see that all this would have been accessible to everyone were it not for but a single difficulty, which is indeed only material, but which for the same reason is completely insurmountable for individuals: I wish to speak here of the laying down of conductive wires for electrical currents.

Originally, one needed two conductive wires for a single telegraph: one to go out, and the other to come back. But after an experiment carried out in 1845 (on various telegraph lines that had been built in Paris) perfectly proved that the conductivity of the earth could play the part of one of the wires, it has since been possible to do without one half of the circuit. A single conductive wire now suffices for each telegraph.

Now what person, seeing, first of all, the surprising effects of a system of transmission that makes it possible to communicate thought at a distance almost as fast as by means of speech, and, second of all, the great inconveniences, independent of cost, that arise from the necessity of a conductive metal wire that can be tampered with or broken, and that it is not possible to protect entirely from atmospheric variations, what person, I say, in these circumstances, has not wished for the discovery of some medium that, simplifying the system still further, would permit him to get by altogether without the conductive wire?

In a different domain, around the same time as Galvani’s observations were giving rise to galvanism, Mesmer noticed from another perspective the influence that organized bodies can have on one another at a distance, and, with his surprising wonders, set up the foundations of a new science, which was called, as we know, animal magnetism, in view of the remarkable analogy that was observed between the effects produced by this occult influence and those that had already long been observed in the mineral force of the magnet, of the existence of which I would also like to remind you, but on which I will not dwell, in view of the positive and well-known application that has been made of it in the marine compass.

As for knowing what animal magnetism is in itself, what its cause is and how it works, whether it is an immaterial fluid, as some say, or rather an invisible material fluid, as one might perhaps say: these are so many questions that science has not yet completely elucidated. But from the fact that there is disagreement on various points, important no doubt as the question is, does it follow that one should deny the existence of magnetism itself, and refuse to recognize even the evidence of the visible facts that it produces? No, without a doubt; and yet, this is what happens even now!

Let us, however, investigate the past: the ancient prophecies, the curing of the ill, the purported curses and spells of the Middle Ages, religious asceticism and ecstasy: does this not all, under different names and in different ways, acknowledge and recognize magnetic power just as well as, and perhaps better than, in our day, artificial sleep, lucid somnambulism, and magnetic ecstasy do, along with the long list of all the phenomena and wonders that it causes?

Father Lacordaire said one day in one of his lectures at Notre Dame: “Magnetism is a chip broken off of a great palace; it is the last ray of Adamic power, destined to confound human reason and to humiliate man before God. It is a phenomenon that belongs to the prophetic order. . . . Plunged into an artificial sleep, man sees at a distance through opaque bodies, etc.” And these words were confirmed by Monsignor the Archbishop of Paris, who, addressing the assembled faithful, said: “My brothers, it is God who speaks through the mouth of this illustrious Dominican. Go, and spread these truths.”

But here it is not, after all, a matter of examining whether one should or should not believe in the existence of the magnetic fluid. It is a fact that many people say they do not believe in it without attaching any great importance to what they say; on the other hand, in the current state of science and in spite of the progress that it has made and that it yet makes every day, it often happens that many people find it easier to deny these phenomena altogether than to explain them. But whether one admits animal magnetism or denies it, this makes no difference to the thing itself, which exists nonetheless.

This power, they say, is incomprehensible! So be it! But let there be no doubt, human reason will progress to the point where it can explain it, along with so many other things that remain mysteries still today, or even that remain entirely unknown. And if you admit, with Father Lacordaire, that magnetism is a last ray of Adamic power, it will however be necessary to say, contrary to his conclusion, that this ray, far from being intended to humiliate human reason before God, should instead raise it up and increase it. For is it not in order to make us desire and hope to return to the great palace of Adamic power that God, in his goodness, left to us this ray?

Yes, this ray should increase and exalt human reason before God. For if it is true what Father Lacordaire says, and with which we agree, that the prophetic order and the magnetic order overlap, what a high opinion God must have wished for man to have of himself, since, having extended magnetism everywhere and in every being, he thus clearly says to all that, by means of the development of human reason, all men should one day become, through him, before him, and upon this earth, equal to the prophets of old—which is moreover written in the text of the holy books, where it is said: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17–18; Joel 2:28–29)

It remains the case that magnetism is a certain power, and that, if it can be regretted, in certain respects, that the studies that have been done up until now have been conducted from a practical point of view, and have been carried out rather for the satisfaction of a vain curiosity than for any serious utility, this is no reason to deny, for all that, the principle itself—namely: some sort of influence that organized bodies are able to exercise over other bodies at a distance.

And when we say “at a distance,” this must be understood to mean any distance whatever, without limits or any possible calculation on earth, for we have observed magnetic influence in a number of circumstances and in different directions, without ever being able to appreciate, at whatever distance it was, either the speed, which is always instantaneous, or the mode of action, which is always uniform, just as is the case for electricity.

But that is not all. What we call magnetism is not the only influence that organized beings can have on one another at a distance; for, if we consider certain well-known phenomena that are habitually described under the vague banner of presentiments, of aspirations, and even of instinctive repulsions, and if we notice moreover that there is no living person who has not himself had the occasion to observe that certain presentiments that he has had have subsequently come to realization, or even did so simultaneously at a distance, and also to notice that instinctive aspirations or repulsions can naturally or instantaneously arise between several entities at a distance, we will quickly be convinced that not all of the mysteries of nature have yet been unveiled, and that, whatever the name we give to these mysterious and secret influences—attraction or sympathy, repulsion or antipathy—our weak human nature would be overly proud if it were to deny what it cannot understand.

I could further clarify the facts and multiply the citations, but this report will already be long enough without that, and if no one is ignorant of the attraction or the natural sympathy of the magnetized needle for the North Pole, toward which it ever turns, it will be understood, I hope, that if a certain sympathy naturally exists between inorganic bodies, there is all the more reason for the same thing to occur between organic bodies.

I do not want to recall the Middle Ages in this connection; I would have too many things to say, and, although one would be able to derive some weighty lessons therefrom, it would be necessary to confront too many abuses. Better not to speak of that period. Nonetheless, on the subject of the natural sympathy that we are treating, and in view of the very circumstance that brings me to speak of it, I cannot prevent myself from citing, but only citing, what follows, from a book published in 1724, without the name of an author, and that has for its title, La science naturelle. The question under consideration is whether or not it is possible to heal a wound through a sympathetic effect, by bandaging at a great distance a piece of fabric on which there is blood from the wound. The author writes:

“We would not be able to provide a solid reason for this surprising effect other than by appeal to the continual commerce of the spirits that issue from the bodies, and that come and go by a continual movement, and maintain the connection with one another; and although our excessively material senses do not perceive them, they are no less real for that, and no less true, as is shown by the example of the spider that descends or mounts, leaving an invisible filament behind him that comes out of his body, so that he is at one end of the room and remains attached to the other end by this very filament by means of which he supports himself and moves from one end to the other. I confess that it is difficult to conceive that there is a filament or a line of communication between the wound and the blood that has come from it. But this is neither impossible nor inconceivable, though the effect is not infallible, since, if the filament is interrupted or broken, the wound will not heal.”

O! I know that in speaking of such matters the terrain is slippery and it is easy to fall. But if one should not believe too readily in sorcerers and magic, one should neither doubt too much the power of nature, which is the work of God.

What is even better is that, if we have any faith in divine goodness, it is necessary to admit that, whenever man has been able to conceive of some idea that is truly good for humanity, and as it is not possible that human imagination be more powerful than divine omnipotence, it is necessary, I say, to admit that God as well could have foreseen this good idea, and that, in his wisdom and goodness, he must wish that it be realized one day, for otherwise man, who is nothing but God’s creature, would be better and wiser than God, his creator, to whom man necessarily owes all of his own wisdom and goodness.

And if I say this, it may be taken, if you wish, as an anticipatory precaution on my part, so as to expose in advance, and from whatever intention it arises, the double reproach that one might be tempted to make against me of being at once too timid and too bold. But I repeat, however, in order to establish, as it were, a priori, by the unanimous inspirations of all men, the possibility of the discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat: going back to the surprising wonders of electrical telegraphy, if all men considered that its only drawback is the existence of the conductive metallic wire, and compared the wonders of telegraphy to the even more remarkable wonders of animal magnetism and of natural sympathy, which manifest themselves on their own, at a distance, without any conductor, at least not a visible one, and if they had remarked that the magnetic sympathy of the magnet had already successfully been used for the marine compass, would not their enflamed imagination then, by the rapidity of the thought that for its part knows neither time nor space, and by the desire to move beyond the final obstacle of electrical telegraphy, even if only for an instant and in a dream, undertake just as soon to look for a discovery that, without seeking to explain sympathetic influences in their first causes, nonetheless manages to use them for the transmission of thought, and, at last casting off all shackles, gives voice, as it were, to all the privileges that the intellect has in respect to time and space?

We must, however, accept that a similar discovery, whatever the desires that brought it about may have been, could hardly appear to the intellect but as a chimera or as a dream destined to take its place—with all the more reason since this could not be said of photography—among the extravagant fantasies of a Wilkins or a Cyrano de Bergerac, and one would not be able to say what inventive spirit and what perseverance of observation Messrs. Benoît and Biat must have had in order to unveil the mystery that led them to their discovery, but it must be said all the same, for it is a fact: the dream has now become a reality.

Let us investigate the invention in depth.

The application of electricity, galvanism, and animal magnetism in order to bring about the communication of thought is not an entirely new idea, as many people might suppose. Indeed in the République of last 30 August, we read:

“The Dublin University Magazine cites a curious passage in Addison, written in 1711, that proves that the idea of electrical telegraphy was familiar, among many others, to the learned men of the Middle Ages, whom we ridicule for their chimerical investigations.” According to Addison, Famianus Strada speaks in his Prolusiones (1619) of a fantastical correspondence that is maintained by two friends by means of a magnet, whose virtue was such that when it had touched two needles, it was enough that one of these be put in motion for the other to undergo a simultaneous movement, at whatever distance it was located from the first. Each one of the friends, being in possession of one of the needles, placed it in such a way that it extended across the circumference of a dial, on which the twenty-four letters of the alphabet had been written. Parting in order to travel to countries very far from one another, they agreed to retreat each day at a given hour for correspondence. The one who wished to write to his friend turned the magnet on the dial toward each of the letters making up the word that he wished to transmit, taking care to leave a pause between each word so as to avoid any confusion. His friend saw, at the same moment, the needle of the other dial turn toward the same letters.

“By this means, they could exchange their thought across a continent, and make it pass in the blink of an eye through cities, across seas, over mountains and deserts.”

These extraordinary means of communication were lost, and their authors took them to the grave. But the passage that I have reproduced is no less characteristic for that, for there is, if not in the instrument that the two friends used, which is identified as a powerful magnet, at least in the manner of their correspondence, a striking analogy between the communication of these two friends and the new system of Messrs. Benoît and Biat.

O! My God! Who could affirm that even the powerful magnet of which we have spoken was not precisely the very discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat? There are so many things that have been found once and then lost, that we then find again, like the Greek fire of the ancients and the stained glass in churches, that it could not be impossible that the sympathetic communication of thought has already been discovered.

What is more, thinking of those unhappy ages when ignorance and egoism made men into barbarians with regard to new ideas and their authors, can we be surprised by the numerous discoveries that humanity has lost? God made just as many inventors then, and perhaps even more than today. But for those whom the earliest, mythological ages would have reserved triumphs, glory, and even deification—human ingratitude and perversity thereafter only knowing the sufferings of martyrdom and the heat of the bonfire—it was most often necessary to keep the most useful discoveries as secrets, which were necessarily lost upon the death of their authors.

Indeed, it took all the courage of a great genius to confront the shadows of this barbarism, and we know what price was paid by the illustrious and unlucky Salomon de Caus, who, having discovered the force of steam, was as a result of this very discovery locked away as a madman at Bicêtre, where he did in fact go mad from the pain of not having been understood, and died miserably, at once a martyr to and a victim of the ignorance of men.

Ever since Christ, who paid on the cross for having announced the Good News, and up through our own days, when inventors continue to be crucified not only by the poverty that is generally their fate, but also by the egoism and the disdain that almost always follows them, the history of our discoveries has been filled only with the suffering and tears that each one has brought to its discoverer—as if, just as the grain of wheat germinates in the earth and dies in order to bear fruit, the being chosen by Providence for a useful discovery also inevitably had to die to make it bloom and produce!

We cannot penetrate the decrees of Providence, but we must nevertheless hope that this will not always be so, and that, thanks to the very discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat, with men now able to better listen to and understand one another, the sacrifices of inventors will not have been in vain, that they will on the contrary be able to enjoy, during their lives, the glory and the honors that until now have only been accorded to their memories.

An extensive study of the extraordinary results that could be obtained in other epochs for the transmission of thought, from afar as from up close, would show without a doubt that, although there was no consciousness of it, these results were due only to magnetic phenomena. But once the curious properties of the galvanic and magnetic fluids were known, their application for the communication of thought was so natural and so simple, that it seems like it should have presented itself soon enough to the learned men who had experienced it. However it is not in this way that the human intellect has proceeded up until this point; on the contrary, the most useful discoveries have been due only to chance events and circumstances, and we would have to wait until the beginning of the nineteenth century in order to find the first traces of science being applied to electrical telegraphy. But what distance in turn separates this application of science from the new system of Messrs. Benoît and Biat! The magnificent discoveries of the Galvanis, the Voltas, the Mesmers, were only the prelude to the achievement of these two great genius inventors, and like signposts, so to speak, placed along the route that led toward them.

What is remarkable about these two men is that, being strangers to one another, born at opposite ends of the globe, one in France and the other in America, they each had, separately and at the same time, the first idea of their discovery; and that chance, or rather Providence, then saw to it that they meet and agree to pursue together the experiments and investigations that have had such fortuitous results.

Furthermore, Messrs. Benoît and Biat can no more pretend to have invented the means of transmitting thought by this new procedure, than Christopher Columbus could have pretended to invent America. They, like he, only found and discovered what had always existed before them, what may even have been known before them, but which in the case in question may have been forgotten and lost for centuries.

They only acknowledge one distinction for themselves, moreover: that of having read from a neglected page of the great book of nature, which is open to all eyes. But it should also be said that this distinction is the greatest of all, or, even better, that it is the only distinction among men, for nature and truth are the same thing; and yet, by an incomprehensible quirk, does it not happen that man, in the prideful weakness of his spirit, curses nature herself?

I will not say how Messrs. Benoît and Biat made their discovery: this story will be told later. Nor can I offer a detailed description of all the details of their means of correspondence; this would be too long and perhaps unintelligible for those who have not seen the apparatus. But if I do not say everything that one would need to know in order to be able to communicate on one’s own, what I will say will nonetheless be sufficient, I hope, to explain and to make clear the possibility of the accomplishment in principle, while Monsieur Benoît proposes for his part, as I have announced, to definitively bring about conviction in everyone, in such a way that no one will challenge the power, de visu et actu, that is, namely, by having all those people who would wish to do so communicate amongst themselves, in experiments that he has the intention to carry out.

We note, from another angle, that, for the sake of the inventors’ warranty, certain points of the discovery should remain secret up until the moment when the invention is brought into the public domain, which will not be possible without the agreement of Monsieur Biat, who is currently traveling in America, and without whose orders Monsieur Benoît can do absolutely nothing. But with these reservations expressed, the inventors wished to publish, ahead of any public experiment, everything they would like to make known about this discovery, with the dual purpose of establishing the date, first of all, and henceforth of avoiding any subsequent claims, false interpretations or contestations whatever.

As I have already intimated, the discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat rests at once on galvanism, on mineral and animal magnetism, and on natural sympathy, that is to say that the basis of the new communication is a particular sort of sympathetic fluid arising from the combination of galvanic, magnetic, and sympathetic fluids, all three married together by the operations and procedures that will be described further on.

And, as the different fluids involved vary according to the organic or inorganic being in question, it must be said that the different fluids that are married together are the mineral-galvanic fluid for one part, the animal-sympathetic fluid of snails for another, and, thirdly and finally, the magnetic-mineral fluid of the magnet and the magnetic-animal fluid of man, which means that, to characterize succinctly the basis of the new communication system, one should say that it happens by means of a galvano-magnetico-mineralo-animalo-adamical sympathy.

Indeed, Messrs. Benoît and Biat have discovered that certain snails possess a remarkable property: that of remaining continually under the sympathetic influence of one another, when, after they have been coupled together and subsequently brought into relation through a particular operation involving the magnetic, mineral, and adamic fluids, they are placed in the necessary conditions for maintaining this sympathy; and in order to obtain all these results Messrs. Benoît and Biat require only the perfectly portable apparatus that they have invented, which they call the Pasilalinic Sympathetic Compass, by means of which they subsequently detect, instantaneously and at whatever distance the sympathetic snails are placed the one from the other, a very sensitive commotion that they have called the “escargotic commotion,” which is manifested and communicated whenever the sympathy of two snails is stimulated by the approach of two other snails, similarly sympathetic between themselves, and with the others, just as when electrical shock is manifested for the physician each time he brings his finger close to any sort of electrified body.

As for sympathy, it is easy enough for men to understand, for man is himself essentially sympathetic. How otherwise would we make sense of candid love, that pure and holy attraction, unencumbered by any desire of the senses, which tends to unite all men amongst themselves by the natural and general benevolence that we observe of the one sex toward the other, from the child to the mature man, if we did not consider it as an effect of that natural sympathy providentially destined to the universal harmony of all of nature? A man, alone and isolated, is in fact only an incomplete being in himself; he is one of the two parts of a superior being that, in order thus to complete and fulfill the aim of his destiny must needs find, and consequently seek without rest until he has found, the other part with which he is in sympathy. And in this he is the same as all beings, and particularly snails, with, however this difference: that snails, instead of completing one another as man does, are able to sympathize together, several at once.

We thus well understand that sympathy can manifest itself at a distance for beings that are sympathetic among themselves. But how does it come about that the sympathy that exists between two snails, one far removed from the other, such as if one were in France and the other in America, can be made sensitive to the point where on the one hand, it furnishes at will whatever escargotic commotion is desired, and on the other, one can communicate this commotion at any distance whatever? For it is clear that the escargotic commotion, which is only so to speak the electrical expression of the animal’s desire, is made perceptible, as I said, by the marriage of the fluids, and that the property of the permanence of sympathy, of which I have spoken, suffices to explain how one can obtain it at will at any time; and it follows that there thus remains only one unique difficulty, that of knowing how and by what conductor this commotion is communicated over a distance.

In the first place, the experiments made in this connection by Messrs. Benoît and Biat leave no doubt about the fact itself, which is certain; and even the experiments establish, moreover, that with this communication it is much as with electricity, since one can intercept and interrupt it in the same manner, with the aid of a body that is a poor conductor of electricity: a possibility that is naturally explained by the presence of this combined sympathetic fluid that is in question, the galvanic-mineral fluid which is indeed nothing other than electricity.

And as for the manner in which this communication takes place, it would appear that after the separation of the snails that have sympathized together, a sort of fluid is released between them, for which the earth is the conductor, and which develops and unfolds itself, so to speak, like the nearly invisible thread of the spider or that of the silkworm, which one could unfold and elongate in an indefinite space without breaking it, but with this one difference, that the escargotic fluid is completely invisible, and that it moves as fast in space as the electrical fluid, and that it would be by means of this fluid that the snails produce and communicate the commotion of which I have spoken. For, as everyone knows that snails are hermaphrodites, or of two sexes, which is to say male and female at the same time, it must thus be understood how it arises that the sympathy, being thus able to leave one of the two snails in order to pass instantaneously to the other, the escargotic commotion can, in the same fashion, be transmitted instantaneously from the one to the other, and reciprocally.

But, it will be said, in supposing this sympathetic fluid, it should be the same with this fluid as with electrical, galvanic, and magnetic fluids, which in truth expand quite instantaneously at a distance, but by means of radiation in every direction, at least if one does not make use of a particular conductive wire, and it is not clearly seen how it can be that the communication occurs directly and at will, from one precise place to another, by means of the sympathetic fluid itself. This objection could at first glance have some value, but it is however merely specious, for as soon as one says “sympathetic fluid” or “sympathy,” one must necessarily suppose two beings, and these two beings are naturally and necessarily the two extremities of the line or of the sympathetic fluid, whether this line is straight or curved! It could thus only be useful for establishing the influence that distance can have on the intensity of the escargotic commotion. But on the one hand the intensity of this commotion is not important, provided that it exists, and on the other hand, in fact, at whatever distance Messrs. Benoît and Biat conducted their experiments, they never noticed a difference in the intensity of the commotion. But even better, if we wish to consider again what has been said of the marriage of different fluids, we will be convinced by the example of what happens with linen, hemp, cotton, and wool, of which the threads are naturally short, slender, and unconnected to one another, yet nonetheless are able, by being married together by the circular motion of a spindle, to become a thread that is more or less solid, whose length has no limits other than the quantity of the matter and the will of man—we will be convinced, I say, that the marriage of different fluids here produces an analogous effect, that is to say a sort of sympathetic cord without any break in its continuity, from one snail to the other, with the one difference that the cord is a fluid, and that it is thus indefinitely elastic in length or in size, which renders it essentially mobile.

The experiments conducted by Messrs. Benoît and Biat, with the help of balloons, in the atmosphere, leave no doubt, moreover, that the earth is the conductor of this sympathetic cord, which is further explained by what I said concerning the composition of the combined sympathetic fluid that forms the cord, and by what is further known of the electrical non-conductivity of air. In order to communicate across the atmosphere, there must be a particular conductor that is moreover easy to establish by allowing to descend to earth a certain mobile thread that is a good electrical conductor.

However, in order for the communication to be established, escargotic sympathy by itself is not sufficient; one must also suppose that there is a harmonic sympathy between the individuals that wish to correspond, and it is by means of animal magnetism that this harmonic sympathy is obtained, and in intermingling, as I said, the mineral magnetic fluid and the Adamic fluid, under the influence of the galvanic-mineral fluid.

This is not the place to enter into the matter of determining what analogy there may naturally be between these different fluids; I insist only on the necessity of their union, which is the principal fact of the discovery, and without which nothing of the preceding is possible.

For, given the fact of instantaneous escargotic commotion, which occurs at a distance and by sympathy, the aim of the discovery consists only in knowing the apparatus with which this commotion can be elicited, and in the measures that might be adopted in order to make it serve the transmission of thought.

This apparatus consists in a square wooden box, containing a moving voltaic pile, the metallic pairs of which, rather than being placed on top of one another as in Volta’s piles, are arranged in order and are attached for this purpose to holes made in a wheel or in a circular wooden disc that moves around an iron axis.

For the metallic discs that make up the pairs of voltaic piles, Messrs. Benoît and Biat have substituted other pairs, in the form of circular depressions or troughs, each composed of a depression or trough made out of zinc, lined with a piece of cloth which has been previously steeped in a solution of copper sulfate and held in place by means of a copper blade riveted to the depression.

At the bottom of each of these troughs they have fastened, with the aid of a mixture the composition of which will be given later, a live snail, prepared and chosen in advance, so that in the trough it will be able to soak up the galvanic influence that should thus combine with the electrical influence, which will be developed when the wheel that forms the pile is set in motion, and consequently along with it the snails that are attached to it.

The box in which this wheel or mobile pile is closed up can be of any form and material, but the box itself is necessary in order to remove the snails from the influence of the atmosphere. In any case, it is essentially mobile and portable. Moreover, each trough or galvanic depression is placed on a spring whose movement under the pressure of the snail is used to register the escargotic commotion, like a kind of key.

We see now that this apparatus of communication in its entirety necessarily presupposes two particular apparatuses or instruments that are arranged like the one I have just described, and with the special attention of placing, in the troughs of the one, snails that are sympathetic with those in the troughs of the other, in such a way that the escargotic commotion can depart from a precise point on one of the piles in order to go from there to an equally precise point on the other, and reciprocally.

These measures understood, the rest is evident: Messrs. Benoît and Biat have affixed to the wheels of the two instruments, and on each of the keys with a sympathy between them, corresponding letters, in such a way that from these they have made a sort of alphabetical and sympathetic dial, by means of which the communication of thought is thus effected naturally and instantaneously at any distance, by means of the writing of the thought itself, the letters of which are indicated by the escargotic commotion.

In order to establish communication, nothing more is necessary than to come into the presence of these two instruments, at the same time, in the conditions of harmonic sympathy of which I have spoken. And if the experiments made by the physicists Steinheil in Munich, and Matteucci in Pisa, have made it possible since 1845 to reduce the metallic conductors of electrical telegraphy to one wire only for each telegraph, the discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat, as we see, eliminates them altogether.

The apparatus that I have just described, having the form of a marine compass, has been given the same name, compass, adding, so as to characterize its usage, the further qualification pasilalinic, which signifies universal speech or language, as well as the qualification sympathetic, which indicates the means by which one makes use of it.

The pasilalinic sympathetic compasses that Monsieur Benoît has created are more the two meters high. They have such a large size because he wanted to include in them the alphabetic letters or signs of all languages in use, as well as those of the universal pasilalinic language that he created, and which will be discussed further on, and, further, the punctuation marks as well as the numbers. But he realized that the number of couples or of escargotic keys necessary could be rigorously reduced to the twenty-five letters of the French, and as one can, moreover, make use of snails of any size, and as there are some that are very small, even as small as the head of a pin, it follows that we should understand that the instrument, which can take any form, can also take on any size, from the very biggest down to the smallest, and that there could be some that are big like the dial of a horologium, others like that of a clock, and others still that are smaller, like that of a pocket-watch.

Here I will not speak of the matter or of the manner in which the apparatus’s box can be made, but one must understand that all materials, metallic or otherwise, being suitable for use, the pasilalinic sympathetic compass is destined to become an indispensable piece of furniture, or even an intriguing piece of jewelry, which, designed according to all the artistic fancies it will undoubtedly inspire, will necessarily be found everywhere, from the dresser, to the boudoir, and even, if you like, on the waist-chains of ladies.

After these explanations, which must be made, preliminary to the experiment, I arrive at last at the experiment itself.

Monsieur Triat and I, for some fifteen days, awaited the experiment with a visible anxiety, and one that was at the same time mingled with disquiet and with hope, when, on Wednesday evening, October the second, Monsieur Benoît came to inform us that we were to come the following day, at noon, for the much-awaited experiment, that he had himself been in correspondence with Monsieur Biat, in America, since Monday, and that they had agreed that he would participate from America in all the experiments that would be conducted in France, in Paris or elsewhere, and a meeting was set for the following day, at that hour, for this particular experiment.

You can be sure that we did not miss the meeting.

Monsieur Benoît informed Monsieur Biat of our presence with the aid of one of the two compasses; then he said to us:

“Before undertaking an experiment with these machines, as we have come together to do, we must make clear the character and the importance of this experiment. It is with great seriousness that we proceed, but you see from another angle in what state our compasses still find themselves; there is nothing but what is necessary for them to function; yet lacking, as you know, are various stages of completion, the absence of which will not permit us to correspond as quickly as I correspond with Biat; but, between us, at this moment, this is not the question. Here it is a matter of proving that the escargotic commotion communicates as we have said, and if the compasses are today of necessity in the same room, later we will conduct experiments at whatever distances we desire. It is above all a matter of proving the principle and as for the rest you see that they are portable and mobile.”

And in fact we changed both of their places in order to assure ourselves of the absence of any conductive wire.

Monsieur Biat continued: “You know, on the other hand, that today I must not inform you of all the means of obtaining the escargotic commotion, but that, without knowing at all what you are going to say, I am the one who is going to detect it. This will be a drawback, I am aware. But in order to give you all the means possible for sensing this commotion, it would be necessary that you, reciprocally, be in the necessary conditions, and that I initiate you into all of it, which I have not yet done. You know, moreover, that it must at first be this way. For the experiments that will be undertaken subsequently it will be possible to speak to me directly.

“In any case, I will know nothing of the letters that you would like to transmit, since they are placed behind the apparatus and I will not see them; but, as there are letters that correspond between the snails that have a sympathy with one another in the two compasses, the one of you who will speak to the other will indicate to me, in touching it or in moving it from behind, the snail associated with the letter that you would like to transmit. I will bring close to that snail a sympathetic snail, which will produce a commotion; next, that commotion, following the sympathetic fluid that unites the snail indicated in the first compass with the sympathetic snail in the second one, will be transmitted to this latter, where I will acknowledge its arrival by presenting to the one or to the other of the snails of the second compass a new snail that is sympathetic with the first one of which I will have made use. Thus, without seeing the letters, the point of departure and the point of arrival of the sympathy will be given. The point of departure is the person who wishes to transmit his thought and who indicates it as he wishes, according to the appropriate sign; the point of arrival is the escargotic commotion of the sympathetic snail that communicates it. But as I do not know the letters that you will choose to transmit, and as, moreover, the letters, or, if you wish, the sympathetic snails, are placed in a different order in the two compasses, but with only the letters corresponding to the snails in sympathy with one another, it will be clear, if the same letters are transmitted, that the indication has been made by the sympathetic fluid itself.

“At this point I have to take a precaution. Biat, with whom I had been corresponding for two days, brought to my attention that there are certain errors in the placement of the letters—which, by the way, are mobile and can be rearranged. I noticed this myself, too. I thus warn you that certain material errors could arise in the transmission of the letters. But, as the actual arrangements are only provisional, I did not think it useful to slow down our experiment in order to take the necessary measures for correcting these errors, which would have been a useless labor, first of all, and moreover a long one, in view of the fact that the number of snails in this apparatus is such as to accommodate the alphabets of all languages.”

“This is all clear,” I said to him then. “The essential thing moreover is for us to see that the commotion that departs from the first compass can indicate in the second compass one snail rather than another; for, if this is the case, it is clear that it will be sufficient to attach to this snail the sign or the letter corresponding to the one that is found on the snail that is sympathetic with it in the first compass.”

It was then agreed that I would be the one to speak first.

Certainly, if we had not thought about this experiment for several days already, and if the wait had not made our excitement permanent, so to speak, I do not know what might have come of it at the much-awaited, solemn moment of the test, so modest and so simple in form, but so grandiose in its foundation, above all when we remembered that this test was going to be made in the presence, and so to speak before the eyes and under the protection, of an old man of seventy years, Monsieur Biat, who attended, without being seen, from the other hemisphere of the world—where he is at this moment—and who was going to hear us and to respond to us from there.

I was placed behind one of the compasses, Monsieur Triat behind the other; Monsieur Benoît, between the two, was consequently faced by both of them. There was maintained between us religious silence.

I touch a snail from behind, as instructed; Monsieur Benoît, seeing it move, draws it close to another one, and goes from there, with a third, to the second compass. He draws it close to several snails, until one of them becomes active, and Monsieur Triat says: “I see it,” and notes down the letter that corresponds to it.

I likewise took note of the letters that I indicated. Then the operation begins again; a second letter, and then a third letter arrive in the same way.

“You see now what is happening,” Monsieur Benoît says, “You are able to speak the letters that have been transmitted to you.”

“No,” Monsieur Triat begins again, “Let us finish the letter, even though I know it already.”

I was very struck by this reflection, for I would have needed only one letter, and what I said to Monsieur Triat was sufficient to convince me that he had really already received three of them. I had in fact transmitted these three letters: G, Y, M, and, in hearing him say that he understood the whole word, it was very clear for me that he had understood that I was going to add the letters N, A, S, E, since we had said that the word would not be too long. But he wished for the word to be completed. I in fact touched these four letters, which made the entire word GYMNASE; he in fact received the first three letters, but there were two errors for the others. In place of N and of S, he received O and T, which precisely follow the letters N and S in the alphabet, and the whole word turned out for him as GYMOATE rather than the GYMNASE I had sent.

Then Monsieur Biat was to speak in his turn, so that there should be question and answer, and so that the role of the compasses was inverted relative to the point of departure and of arrival. This time, I called out the letters in the order they were indicated to me, in order to determine the material errors, should there be any, at the moment they arose.

He transmitted to me the three letters L, U, M, which I called out in succession, then he transmitted an I and I received an H. Next he transmitted the three letters E, R, E, which I received and which formed the word LUMIERE, which I received as LUMHERE. Then, finally, he sent me the word DIVINE, which I received in its entirety and which I called out, letter by letter, in the order in which I received them.

In sum, I had, when composing the question, transmitted the word GYMNASE, which was received as GYMOATE, and Monsieur Triat, in response, sent me the two words, LUMIERE DIVINE, which I received as LUMHERE DIVINE.

There was an error for three letters, but the very circumstances of the experiment sufficiently accounted for this error, which could do nothing to diminish for us the importance of the fact itself.

I then asked Monsieur Benoît to address Monsieur Biat, so that he might respond in our presence.

“What do you want me to say to him?” Monsieur Benoît said. And at the same time he made an agreed-upon sign to indicate that we were going to speak.

“Call him by his name, so that he might respond to us about what is happening.”

Monsieur Benoît then brought his snail close, in succession, to the letters B, I, A, and T, which form the word BIAT, then he positioned himself in another agreed-upon place to signify that we were awaiting a response.

With this done, we next went to present his snail successively to several others. Some of them stayed still, then some others began to move, and in noticing the letters that were set into motion, it became clear that they were the following eight: C, E, S, T, B, I, E, N, which, in reinserting the apostrophe after the C, and in allowing for a small pause after the T, gives us the two words C'EST BIEN: and this was done very rapidly.

I will not speak of the various questions that were addressed to Monsieur Benoît in order to verify whether there could have been on his part some secret means of recognizing the snails other than their sympathetic commotion, nor of the selection of the letters that are furthest from one another in all of the alphabets that are included on each compass, almost three hundred in total, so as to avoid the possibility that he have any knowledge whatever of the letters chosen, which is by the way positively and materially impossible given the constraints adopted and given the letters that are combined in the circular movement of the dial.

Ultimately, Monsieur Triat and I, who had had the honor of being the first to attend this important experiment, owed it to the truth to declare—and this without regard for any consequences whatever, and whatever consequences the fact may have in itself, or indeed whatever consequences each person might perceive in the fact from his own point of view—we owed it to the truth to declare that the experiment, for us, notwithstanding the material errors to be avoided, had been conclusive.

Messrs. Benoît and Biat owe to chance the knowledge of the strange property that snails have of being able to make the escargotic commotion felt by touch; but although this fact was first associated with the discovery of universal sympathetic communication, the inventors wish for me to say that the knowledge of all that precedes, sufficient no doubt for understanding the possibility of the discovery, would not suffice however for all men to be able to obtain by themselves the results described above for the transmission of thought, and this in order to help those who would like to follow in this path and to do the experiments themselves, without having been initiated in advance into all the techniques of which one must make use, to avoid useless and fruitless research.

Here it is the same as with photography, where everyone knows that if the inventors had only indicated in a general way the substances of which one should make use for the reproduction of images in a dark room, without specifying the procedures and operations, no one would have been able to obtain them by themselves, without in truth becoming a new inventor himself. The research and experiments of Messrs. Benoît and Biat, after all, went on for more than ten years, both in France and America!

It should also be remarked that in order to have the properties that have just been described, the snails had to be subjected to a particular influence, independent of all of those that have been mentioned; that, without this, they would not produce the escargotic commotion; and that, moreover, they require a prior preparation without which one would seek in vain to make them serve for the transmission of thought by means of the escargotic fluid.

Moreover, just as not all men are capable of producing the phenomena of magnetic somnambulism and lucidity, so too not all snails possess in themselves the necessary properties for obtaining the results we have described. They must be recognized by certain secret signs, as Guénon recognizes by certain particular signs the heifers that will become good milk cows.

It appears moreover that numerous experiments made in this connection by Messrs. Benoît and Biat caused them to recognize that snails are not the only animals capable of producing the phenomenon of sympathetic commotion, that it can also be found in almost all species of maritime, riverine, or terrestrial crustaceans, but that none of these offers as many advantages for the universal communication of thought as the snail, as much in view of the intensity and of the permanence of the sympathetic commotion, as because the snail is able to live nearly a whole year without nourishment, is easily attached by its shell to the base of the troughs of the pile, and because all the different species of snail, in view of their varying shapes and sizes, exist in large populations everywhere.

And what is still better is that apart from all of these advantages, the snail, in view of its manner of living and its sympathy for the earth, where it lives and where it deposits its eggs, seems to have been precisely destined by Providence to be the intermediary for the communication of thought by means of the sympathetic fluid, of which the earth is the conductor.

We may expect, it is true, that this strange property of snails will be met with incredulity and laughter. But are there not men who will laugh at anything? There are in the first instance those who laugh at that which the weakness of their intelligence does not enable them to understand, as if their ignorance could prevent the thing from being. These are the people who are in society said to be “intellectual,” cutting into anything and everything without treating anything with importance. Then there are those who laugh in the presence of fact itself, but then feel stupid, either because they are stung by having already, in the past, laughed too easily, or because the new fact troubles their scientific importance and their ideas; these are more of society’s “intellectuals.” Then there are others who laugh too, who always laugh, who laugh at everything, and this without knowing why, without knowing how, but simply in order to laugh; these are the imbeciles. As to these latter, they should be pitied, for they are sick in mind and wanting in reason. As for the others ... my God, they too should be pitied, for they are also sick in mind, from another point of view; but to these latter one must at the same time say: There is an unknown physics, a physics that the learned men of systems reject, but that exists no less for that, and that is moreover the great unknown physics of the deviation of the magnetic needle that turns always toward the north; it is the unknown physics of the phenomena of heat, of light, of electricity, of magnetism; that of the attraction and repulsion of different worlds between themselves; and, finally, that of the sympathies and antipathies of all the organic and inorganic beings; and, to say it all in just one word, the great physics of universal life. And, after this, whether they affirm or deny the power of man to discover, by chance or by science, all the secrets of nature, do not history and humanity take care to mix these two together?—in keeping by the way with the word of Christ, who said: “Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” (Matt. 10:26; Luke 12:2) But the first thing for any discovery is to begin by well observing what it is one sees, then to draw from it the logical consequences, and unfortunately our absurd education, and habit—our second but stupid nature—make us into superficial creatures, who attach themselves only to the surfaces of things, and who do not even know how to see what is always before our eyes. Aristotle, Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton, all the learned men in the world prior to Galvani knew of the frog, of zinc, and of copper, without deducing galvanism from them, just as they also knew the snail and its nature without observing its sympathetic properties. What can we conclude then, ultimately? That the supposed mysteries of nature are all constantly before our eyes, and that each of us consequently is able to discover them, but nonetheless one must give it thought.

If now we consider the applications and the consequences of the discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat, we see they are very abundant, whether one considers the matter from the point of view of general relations, of governments and peoples, or from the point of view of personal relations and the family. And one may also advantageously recall here, extending the applications even further, all the proposals that have already been made, all the projects already conceived for electrical telegraphy, such as electrical newspapers, electrical mail, the usage of electrical telegraphy for the internal administration of a country, and for relations between one people and another: things one could only hope for in electrical telegraphy from a more or less distant future, and things one might not even dare to wish for at all. When it comes to personal relations, one may also wish for and expect improvements from this new system of communication, which can be organized and set up as if by magic across the surface of the entire globe, all at once and without great expense when compared with what electrical telegraphy requires.

Yes, from now on, by the system of communication of Messrs. Benoît and Biat, which is as simple as it is infallible, it will be possible to correspond as quickly as by speech, from man to man, or between several men at once, at any distance, without having to worry about atmospheric variations, in any season and at any moment of the day or night!

Among all the necessities of our epoch, the most pressing one is not only that of knowing and of communicating, but of knowing and communicating quickly. The railways, from a material point of view, and the activity of human nature, from a moral point of view, have created this pressing necessity. Now, imagine a discovery that by connecting itself to the material locomotion of the railways and to the aerial navigation that is beginning to emerge, would one day achieve and surpass what electrical telegraphy has already begun and what it can allow us to hope for in the transmission of thought. Without a doubt this discovery would be received with acclamation and enthusiasm by all the nations of the globe, which it would thus bring together into one sole people of the earth: rejoice, for this discovery is precisely the one made by Messrs. Benoît and Biat!

In the beginning, all of the earth had but one language and one speech; but the dispersion of peoples was necessary: God saw to it in mixing up the languages. But today all of the regions of the globe are inhabited, and human activity can no longer have the same goal, as indicated by the words: “Love one another, that all may be one.” For a different goal, different means were necessary; for an opposite goal, opposite means. And this is what explains how all the great modern discoveries—which tend to unite and to connect all men amongst themselves who previously were divided and hostile—thus come necessarily and providentially in their time and in their hour, replacing the ignorance in the world with science, error with truth, misery with happiness, and hate and war, finally, with love.

For, more still than the compass, printing, and steam energy, the discovery of Messrs. Benoît and Biat is capable of leading humanity to the sublime goal of its magnificent destiny, and this is something that is even worth commenting on for the philosophical mind: that their apparatus—so modest and simple, it is true, in its form, but is no less suited for that for the unification of all men—has its first beginnings in the union of all the kingdoms of nature: the mineral kingdom, the vegetal kingdom, the animal kingdom, the human kingdom, the fluid or ethereal kingdom.

And if we now take a look at the world, and we consider at the same time the development of ideas and the aspirations of peoples, we will indeed be forced to agree that the hour for this beautiful discovery has come, and that its announcement arrives providentially, just in time to save the world the considerable resources that were intended for electrical telegraphy to the same purpose, and which it may consequently use differently.

This is what Messrs. Benoît and Biat appear to have understood better than anyone; and people will be very surprised when they learn from history of this discovery that it has been completed already after about twelve years, and that the inventors, who had the idea of publishing it eleven years ago, as testified by the prospectuses that I have before my eyes and that were sent to be published at Béziers and at Lodève in 1839, nevertheless kept it secret until today, on the advice of Monsieur Biat, who, judging that the hour had not yet come, deferred to the publication that appears today, in keeping with his suggestions and in the form that he has specified.

But, it will be said, to wait in this way was to risk losing the discovery, for after all death . . . !

No, for these Messrs. thought of everything, and they took the precaution of introducing to their discovery, both in America and in various countries of the world, trustworthy persons of their acquaintance. And if I say this, it is in order that you understand that the publication that appears today should not be considered as a speculation on the part of the inventors, but truly as a humanitarian work that Monsieur Biat, the venerable old man, wished to see begun in France by Monsieur Benoît, one of the inventors, since the discovery had France for its fatherland.

And what consequences, indeed, must one decline to envision for the future of this discovery, when we think of the following applications that could be made of it?!

Today, the advertisement of facts and of ideas is, so to speak, entirely local. We have, in France, the Parisian press and the press of the departments. It is on the one hand Paris that traverses the world, and in turn the various localities that travel within France. This is already something, indeed! However, electrical telegraphy has made us understand and hope that we might have one day a national press that is published at the same hour, both in Paris and in all the departmental capitals; it would be better. But we would have had to wait quite some time for this, while by means of the pasilalinic sympathetic compass, we could have, if we wished it, not only the French press, the English press, the German press, and that of all the countries of the globe, but also a humanitarian press of the world, which would be specially intended to connect all peoples and to bring their accomplishments into harmony, so that they might thus walk together in realization of that great saying of Christ: “All men are brothers.”

And moreover, if a pasilalinic sympathetic compass were placed in the tribunal of the Chamber of Representatives, and it were made to communicate with the ones placed in each of the city halls of France, it would be possible, so to speak, to hear the voice of the orator, at the same instant, in all places at once, and thus to establish between all minds a truly miraculous communication. By means of the pasilalinic sympathetic compass, the walls of the parliament buildings would be, so to speak, turned inside out, and the orator could speak to all the earth. From one end of the world to the other his voice would be heard, and the assembly that would hear him would be nowhere, but everywhere. This invisible orator, traversing immense distances, would be infinitely multiplied before an innumerably large audience, and his words would circulate in this way as rapidly as thought, thanks to the mysterious agent of the invisible sympathetic fluid, to all points in the world, bringing with them not only the passion that drives the orator, but also the beating of his heart and even the least vibrations of his soul! ... But I must remember that I am not to give in to enthusiasm, and moreover, in order to make myself understood in this new domain, it will be necessary to have spoken of Monsieur Benoît’s universal pasilalinic alphabet, which is the second part and the necessary compliment of the universal communication of thought, and for which a second treatise will be necessary.

After these grandiose speculations, what need is there to speak of particular applications? Do they not make themselves sufficiently clear on their own? The conversation that we are having here, you and I, among family, among friends, morning or evening, on any subject or for any interest whatever, can be had instantly, at any distance, with the benefit of security, of precision, convenience, inexpensiveness: What more do you need!

Thus, my first letter, of October third, was, as you see, a serious thing, and if some people by whom I do not have the honor of being known were able to believe the contrary, I hope that they will correct their error after reading this treatise. But if, after this reading, one were still able to harbor any doubt concerning the rectitude of my senses or of my intelligence, which by the way I am not discussing here, I would only have one thing to say in response, and that is that all the incredulity in the world will not prevent the thing from being, nor from materializing, ultimately, in the form of a little machine: visible, palpable, even—I may say—living, and, finally, portable; just as the certainty of the power of the magnet is materialized in the compass, and that of steam in the boiler. Moreover, again, I have said that Monsieur Benoît intends to produce more proofs of the fact for everyone to see, after he has called to witness a particular experiment all the representatives of the Paris press, as well as the notable men of science and arts. Which will happen soon.

Please accept, etc.
Jules Allix
92, rue Richelieu 

Note: Newspapers and periodicals that would like to publish this work are requested, in the interest of the discovery, to reproduce it in its entirety.

 Translated by Justin E. H. Smith, with additional assistance from Polly Dickson and Julian Lucas.

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