The Golden Blossom of Vacuum Canning

Amanda Theodocia Jones, A Psychic Autobiography.  New York: Greaves Publishing Company, 1910.

[Jones is describing here a session in which one of her spirit guides is discoursing through her.]

At last he turned aside—or so I deemed—and talked of patents—not to inventions merely, but well-protected, marketable grants, designed to make inventors rich because of special merit.  Night after night he talked of patents only; first, inventor’s rights—sacred as human life; then, people’s rights—since every value ought to count for all within its round and reach, not be engorged by any.

When he began, my ignorance was dense.  [. . .] A Martian, sculling little boats along his broad canals, knows more of deep-sea navigation than I had ever learned of patent-management or patent-legislation.  Under this stimulus, my faculties along that line were all ablaze with borrowed comprehension.  [. . .]

Now, I confess this seemed so far away from what I most desired, I never dreamed that it was meant for me.  Since I, in very truth, was no inventor.  No flounce of mine had ever brushed a Patent Office door-jamb, or caught on courthouse palings.  Perhaps the sole invention I had found of interest was Hargreaves’ Spinning Jenny—it was such fun, at eight years old, to watch three hundred spindles whirl and twist as many threads to Mother’s one!  What wonder if I grew a little restive, murmuring, about the break of every day; “But spirits, what about my mission work?  Why keep me here for this?  I know that you are wise and have your purposes, but I have mine as well.  Use me to educate this man, if that be thought worth while—but oh, my idle hands!  I want my mission-work.”

Still, evenings found me placid—kindled me anew, and so the talks went on.  One evening he who spoke to us caused me to turn and seem to look at Mrs. Browne.  He broke off, saying gently: “Lady, you are very tired.”  Her husband answered: “She’s been canning fruit all day.”

“Friends, do you know there is a way of canning fruit without cooking it?”

“Tell us!” said Mr. Browne, with eagerness.

He answered in a voice of great severity: “When the right time comes, that shall be shown.”

A tremor caught me: “Maybe I shall know.”

I forced the thought away—only next day I said confusedly: “Judge Evelyn taxes my credulity; to can and not to cook—that sounds preposterous.  Not that I really doubt.”  And I am sure I never thought of that again, until the time had come!  [297-298]

[. . .]

I woke one noon out of my air-bath sleep, and caught this flying message—half prevision: “Start for the East one week from Saturday; and what will come to you there in the East, you cannot possibly guess.”

I counted off the days: “Why that’s my birthday—thirty-seven years!  I’ll have a birthday gift; what will it be?”

I woke another day: “Write to Prof. L. C. Cooley [Le Roy Clark Cooley, 1833-1916].  Say that you wish to stop in Albany and ask for an interview.”  What for?—and even that I had no power to guess.  Ah, well!  I knew him somewhat, seventeen years before—my sister’s husband’s cousin.  So, why not stop in Albany.  I wrote; and frankly, had the spirit said: “Write now to Queen Victoria!” I should have dipped the pen, and if commanded, made the same request.  But let me say—daring to own myself obedient—that spirits never asked of me a foolish thing!  And if I walked on air, they set their props beneath.  I did not fall nor fear.

Now, on the second morning after, at the breakfast table, I announced: “Just as I woke, before my eyes were open, I saw a blazing comet—starting from below—rush half-way to the zenith, stop, stand still, and seem to be a steadfast morning-star.  That means that I shall know this very day what I must do about my mission-work.  God has a gift for me—a wonderful, great gift.  I shall not see the sun as yet—the Eastern sky was dark; but I shall see the star that prophecies the sun.”

Said Mr. Rawlinson, after his Methodist manner: “Sister, you seem to be a very Daniel for interpretation.”  What could we do but laugh.  [. . .]

Waking that day out of my usual air-bath slumber—with not a memory in mind of what had once been told (note this!) and not a thought beyond, I said (these are the very words):

“I see how fruit can be canned without cooking it.  The air must be exhausted from the cells and fluid made to take its place.  The fluid must be airless also—a light syrup of sugar and water—that, or the juice of fruit.”

Now, let me say at once, No spirit told me this.  I have inventions—patentable—patented.  They are as much my own as are my many poems—mostly studied out by slow and painful process, often at bitter cost.  To every patent application I have taken oath, unperjured: “This is my invention.—This I claim.”

Spirits may clear away the mists before us—it is our eyes that see!  Spirits may point the way; it is our feet that walk!  Spirits may scatter thoughts like meadow-flowers; our hands must gather them.  Whatever spirits know, they have no right to tell us—they have no power to tell us—unless we have the necessary mind and brain development, enabling us to fully apprehend.  Then we can meet as equals—not before.  And so this golden blossom dropped beside me—so I picked it up.

Not less a spirit interposed a minute after: “That is the way to get your money.  Go East and you shall be sustained.”  Here was my rushing comet—here my morning star; and all in God’s good time would glow the rising sun.

Yet let us linger for a moment.  I had perceived a principle, and nothing more.  A principle is like a world—it swings upon itself; but also it must swing among the other worlds, subject to all their laws.  You must allow for that; and give me many years to set my little orb to spinning—satellites and all.  Moreover there are Jupiters, you know; that have a mighty pull; we’ll swing as far away from them as possible.

Linger a moment longer: I did not know, I never yet had heard (down in my little valley) that “many men of many minds,” in Europe and America, wishing to do what now I meant to do, had toiled near thirty years to no avail.  These men had lavished wealth—much wealth (one man in Baltimore had lavished half a million).  And now they said: “The field has all been traveled over.  We have been deluded.  No such principle exists.”  Not one had ever thought of using fluid; not one had learned that fundamental lesson: “Nature abhors a vacuum.”  Curious!

Do you remember how a manufacturer in Sheffield, many years ago, chanced to escort a girl of sixteen years, with others, through his Works; and how he said, with sorrow?—“Wonderful to look at, but the air is full of flying particles of steel; my workmen breathe it in—they die.  I’ve studied twenty years and found no remedy!”  “But,” said the girl: “Why not suspend a magnet near their mouths?”  And so this man “invented” (after her) what saved innumerable lives.  He won a deal of credit.

After this manner all those notable preservers, missed the simple concept that I, who had not canned a jar of fruit in all my life, discerned as in a dream.  A thought, a principle not yet embodied—a law not yet expressed.  Come, let us have a process!  Some one must collaborate.  Why not Professor Cooley?—fine of mind and deft of hand—investigator, chemist, physicist—all that I was not.  Moreover spirits had elected him; and that alone sufficed.

Said Brother Rawlinson: “This means, perhaps, far more than we imagine.  I do believe God wants the world supplied with better food.”  [. . .]

So, blest abundantly with human sympathy, inspired with singular faith, no more afraid than birds that cleave the wind, I started off that glad October day—as say the Methodists, with “glory in my soul;” and all the way along, I sang doxologies.

Even so, though I had wholly failed in sight of all the folk my failure would seem better than success, in clearer eyes than ours.  Failure is but another name for loss that leads to gain.  He cannot perish, who, beyond Belief, has caught the hand of Faith.  I trusted—that sufficed.  Faith never fails; and that which fails must bear another name.

And so, when Dr. Cooley said that night: “These thoughts of yours are plausible; I’ll try and prove them true,” I felt no more elation than before.  Only, when he had gone away, I fell upon my knees and asked for sacramental grace—How else was I to serve?  How else was I to suffer?  There is no other way to serve except through suffering, till we are rid of bonds—or bonds become delight.

But now we have to deal with open facts, with common life and labor.  The laboratory-tests were promising; we saw the air escape—tearing the grapes apart, and knew of nothing more to do after the flasks were filled with fluid, only to seal them up (though that was difficult) and wait to prove results. [338-341]


[ Inventing the Future ] [ Ephemera Home]