The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (2024)

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, M.D., LL.D.
Président d'Honneur de la Féderation Spirite Internationale
President of the London Spiritualist Alliance
President of the British College of Psychic Science

The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (1)

RGL e-Book Cover 2019©

VOLUME I

TO SIR OLIVER LODGE, F.R.S., A GREAT LEADER BOTH IN PHYSICAL AND
IN PSYCHIC SCIENCE, IN TOKEN OF RESPECT THIS WORK IS DEDICATED

The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (2)

First UK edition: Cassell & Co., London, 1926
First US edition: George H. Duran, New York, 1926

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
(Contains illustrations not included in print editions of the book)
Version Date: 2019-05-04
Produced by Roy Glashan

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Preface
  • Chapter I. The Story of Swedenborg
  • Chapter II. Edward Irving: TheShakers
  • Chapter III. The Prophet of the NewRevelation
  • Chapter IV. The Hydesville Episode
  • Chapter V. The Career of the FoxSisters
  • Chapter VI. First Developments inAmerica
  • Chapter VII. The Dawn in England
  • Chapter VIII. Continued Progress inEngland
  • Chapter IX. The Career of D.D. Home
  • Chapter X. The Davenport Brothers
  • Chapter XI. The Researches of SirWilliam Crookes (1870-1874)
  • Chapter XII. The Eddy Brothers and theHolmeses
  • Chapter XIII. Henry Slade And Dr.Monck
  • Chapter XIV. Collective InvestigationsOf Spiritualism
  • Appendix

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

  • Frontispiece. Little Katie Fox gets an answer to her signals.
  • Illustration 1. Katie Leah Underhill.
  • Illustration 2. Emanuel Swedenborg.
  • Illustration 3. Edward Irving.
  • Illustration 4. Andrew JacksonDavis.
  • Illustration 5. The HydesvilleCottage.
  • Illustration 6. Katie Fox-Jencken, LeahUnderhill (née Fox), Margaretta Fox-Kane.
  • Illustration 7. Mrs. Benedicts Glimpse ofthe Future.
  • Illustration 8. Daniel Dunglas Home.
  • Illustration 9. The DavenportBrothers.
  • Illustration 10. The Davenport Brothers in Their Séance Cabinet.
  • Illustration 11. Sir WilliamCrookes.
  • Illustration 12. Crookes's test to showthat the medium and the spirit were separate entities.
  • Illustration 13. Henry Slade.
  • Illustration 14. Francis WardMonck.
  • Illustration 15. Alfred RussellWallace.


Frontispiece from Print Edition.

The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (3)

Little Katie Fox gets an answer to her signals.



The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (4)

Katie Leah Underhill.


PREFACE

THIS work has grown from small disconnectedchapters into a narrative which covers in a way the whole historyof the Spiritualistic movement. This genesis needs some littleexplanation. I had written certain studies with no particularulterior object save to gain myself, and to pass on to others, aclear view of what seemed to me to be important episodes in themodern spiritual development of the human race. These includedthe chapters on Swedenborg, on Irving, on A. J. Davis, on theHydesville incident, on the history of the Fox sisters, on theEddys and on the life of D.D. Home. These were all done before itwas suggested to my mind that I had already gone some distance indoing a fuller history of the Spiritualistic movement than hadhitherto seen the light—a history which would have theadvantage of being written from the inside and with intimatepersonal knowledge of those factors which are characteristic ofthis modern development.

It is indeed curious that this movement, which many of usregard as the most important in the history of the world sincethe Christ episode, has never had a historian from those who werewithin it, and who had large personal experience of itsdevelopment. Mr. Frank Podmore brought together a large number ofthe facts, and, by ignoring those which did not suit his purpose,endeavoured to suggest the worthlessness of most of the rest,especially the physical phenomena, which in his view were mainlythe result of fraud. There is a history of Spiritualism by Mr.McCabe which turns everything to fraud, and which is itself amisnomer, since the public would buy a book with such a titleunder the impression that it was a serious record instead of atravesty. There is also a history by J. Arthur Hill which iswritten from a strictly psychic research point of view, and isfar behind the real provable facts. Then we have "Modern AmericanSpiritualism: A Twenty Years' Record," and "Nineteenth CenturyMiracles," by that great woman and splendid propagandist, Mrs.Emma Hardinge Britten, but these deal only with phases, thoughthey are exceedingly valuable. Finally—and best of all—there is "Man's Survival After Death," by the Rev. CharlesL. Tweedale; but this is rather a very fine connected expositionof the truth of the cult than a deliberate consecutive history.There are general histories of mysticism, like those of Ennemoserand Howitt, but there is no clean-cut, comprehensive story of thesuccessive developments of this world-wide movement. Just beforegoing to press a book has appeared by Campbell-Holms which is avery useful compendium of psychic facts, as its title, "The Factsof Psychic Science and Philosophy," implies, but here again itcannot claim to be a connected history.

It was clear that such a work needed a great deal ofresearch—far more than I in my crowded life could devote toit. It is true that my time was in any case dedicated to it, butthe literature is vast, and there were many aspects of themovement which claimed my attention. Under these circ*mstances Iclaimed and obtained the loyal assistance of Mr. W. LeslieCurnow, whose knowledge of the subject and whose industry haveproved to be invaluable. He has dug assiduously into that vastquarry; he has separated out the ore from the rubbish, and inevery way he has been of the greatest assistance. I hadoriginally expected no more than raw material, but he hasoccasionally given me the finished article, of which I havegladly availed myself, altering it only to the extent of gettingmy own personal point of view. I cannot admit too fully the loyalassistance which he has given me, and if I have not conjoined hisname with my own upon the title-page it is for reasons which heunderstands and in which he acquiesces.

Arthur Conan Doyle. The Psychic Bookshop, Abbey House,Victoria Street, S.W.


I. — THE STORY OFSWEDENBORG


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (5)

Emanuel Swedenborg.


IT is impossible to give any date for the earlyappearances of external intelligent power of a higher or lowertype impinging upon the affairs of men. Spiritualists are in thehabit of taking March 31, 1848, as the beginning of all psychicthings, because their own movement dates from that day. Therehas, however, been no time in the recorded history of the worldwhen we do not find traces of preternatural interference and atardy recognition of them from humanity. The only differencebetween these episodes and the modern movement is that the formermight be described as a case of stray wanderers from some furthersphere, while the latter bears the sign of a purposeful andorganized invasion. But as an invasion might well be preceded bythe appearance of pioneers who search out the land, so the spiritinflux of recent years was heralded by a number of incidentswhich might well be traced to the Middle Ages or beyond them.Some term must be fixed for a commencement of the narrative, andperhaps no better one can be found than the story of the greatSwedish seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, who has some claim to be thefather of our new knowledge of supernal matters.

When the first rays of the rising sun of spiritual knowledgefell upon the earth they illuminated the greatest and highesthuman mind before they shed their light on lesser men. Thatmountain peak of mentality was this great religious reformer andclairvoyant medium, as little understood by his own followers asever the Christ has been.

In order fully to understand Swedenborg one would need to havea Swedenborg brain, and that is not met with once in a century.And yet by our power of comparison and our experience of facts ofwhich Swedenborg knew nothing, we can realize some part of hislife more clearly than he could himself. The object of this studyis not to treat the man as a whole, but to endeavour to place himin the general scheme of psychic unfolding treated in this work,from which his own Church in its narrowness would withholdhim.

Swedenborg was a contradiction in some ways to our psychicgeneralizations, for it has been the habit to say that greatintellect stands in the way of personal psychic experience. Theclean slate is certainly most apt for the writing of a message.Swedenborg's mind was no clean slate, but was criss-crossed withevery kind of exact learning which mankind is capable ofacquiring. Never was there such a concentration of information.He was primarily a great mining engineer and authority onmetallurgy. He was a military engineer who helped to turn thefortunes of one of the many campaigns of Charles XII of Sweden.He was a great authority upon astronomy and physics, the authorof learned works upon the tides and the determination oflatitude. He was a zoologist and an anatomist. He was a financierand political economist who anticipated the conclusions of AdamSmith. Finally, he was a profound Biblical student who had suckedin theology with his mother's milk, and lived in the sternEvangelical atmosphere of a Lutheran pastor during the mostimpressionable years of his life. His psychic development, whichoccurred when he was fifty-five, in no way interfered with hismental activity, and several of his scientific pamphlets werepublished after that date.

With such a mind it is natural enough that he should be struckby the evidence for extra-mundane powers which comes in the wayof every thoughtful man, but what is not natural is that heshould himself be the medium for such powers. There is a sense inwhich his mentality was actually detrimental and vitiated hisresults, and there was another in which it was to the highestdegree useful. To illustrate this one has to consider the twocategories into which his work may be divided.

The first is the theological. This seems to most peopleoutside the chosen flock a useless and perilous side of his work.On the one hand he accepts the Bible as being in a veryparticular sense the work of God. Upon the other he contends thatit* true meaning is entirely different from its obvious meaning,and that it is he, and only he, who, by the help of angels, isable to give the true meaning. Such a claim is intolerable. Theinfallibility of the Pope would be a trifle compared with theinfallibility of Swedenborg if such a position were admitted. ThePope is at least only infallible when giving his verdict onpoints of doctrine ex cathedra with his cardinals around him.Swedenborg's infallibility would be universal and un restricted.Nor do his explanations in the least commend themselves to one'sreason. When, in order to get at the true sense of a God-givenmessage, one has to suppose that a horse signifies intellectualtruth, an ass signifies scientific truth, a flame signifiesimprovement, and so on and on through countless symbols, we seemto be in a realm of make-believe which can only be compared withthe ciphers which some ingenious critics have detected in theplays of Shakespeare. Not thus does God send His truth into theworld. If such a view were accepted the Swedenborgian creed couldonly be the mother of a thousand heresies, and we should findourselves back again amid the hair-splittings and the syllogismsof the mediaeval schoolmen. All great and true things are simpleand intelligible. Swedenborg's theology is neither simple norintelligible, and that is its condemnation.

When, however, we get behind his tiresome exegesis of theScriptures, where everything means something different from whatit obviously means, and when we get at some of the generalresults of his teaching, they are not inharmonious with liberalmodern thought or with the teaching which has been received fromthe Other Side since spiritual communication became open. Thusthe general proposition that this world is a laboratory of souls,a forcing-ground where the material refines out the spiritual, isnot to be disputed. He rejects the Trinity in its ordinary sense,but rebuilds it in some extraordinary sense which would beequally objectionable to a Unitarian. He admits that every systemhas its divine purpose and that virtue is not confined toChristianity. He agrees with the Spiritualist teaching in seekingthe true meaning of Christ's life in its power as an example, andhe rejects atonement and original sin. He sees the root of allevil in selfishness, yet he admits that a healthy egoism, asHegel called it, is essential. In sexual matters his theories areliberal to the verge of laxity. A Church he considered anabsolute necessity, as if no individual could arrange his owndealings with his Creator. Altogether, it is such a jumble ofideas, poured forth at such length in so many great Latinvolumes, and expressed in so obscure a style, that everyindependent interpreter of it would be liable to found a newreligion of his own. Not in that direction does the worth ofSwedenborg lie.

That worth is really to be found in his psychic powers and inhis psychic information which would have been just as valuablehad no word of theology ever come from his pen. It is thesepowers and that information to which we will now turn.

Even as a lad young Swedenborg had visionary moments, but theextremely practical and energetic manhood which followedsubmerged that more delicate side of his nature. It cameoccasionally to the surface, however, all through his life, andseveral instances have been put on record which show that hepossessed those powers which are usually called "travellingclairvoyance," where the soul appears to leave the body, toacquire information at a distance, and to return with news ofwhat is occurring elsewhere. It is a not uncommon attribute ofmediums, and can be matched by a thousand examples amongSpiritualistic sensitives, but it is rare in people of intellect,and rare also when accompanied by an apparently normal state ofthe body while the phenomenon is proceeding. Thus, in the oft-quoted example of Gothenburg, where the seer observed andreported on a fire in Stockholm, 300 miles away, with perfectaccuracy, he was at a dinner-party with six teen guests, who madevaluable witnesses. The story was investigated by no less aperson than the philosopher Kant, who was a contemporary.

These occasional incidents were, however, merely the signs oflatent powers which came to full fruition quite suddenly inLondon in April of the year 1744 It may be remarked that thoughthe seer was of a good Swedish family and was elevated to theSwedish nobility, it was none the less in London that his chiefbooks were published, that his illumination was begun and finallythat he died and was buried. From the day of his first vision hecontinued until his death, twenty-seven years later, to be inconstant touch with the other world. "The same night the world ofspirits, hell and heaven, were convincingly opened to me, where Ifound many persons of my acquaintance of all conditions.Thereafter the Lord daily opened the eyes of my spirit to see inperfect wakefulness what was going on in the other world, and toconverse, broad awake, with angels and spirits."

In his first vision Swedenborg speaks of "a kind of vapoursteaming from the pores of my body. It was a most visible wateryvapour and fell downwards to the ground upon the carpet." This isa close description of that ectoplasm which we have found to bethe basis of all physical phenomena. The substance has also beencalled "ideoplasm," because it takes on in an instant any shapewith which it is impressed by the spirit. In this case itchanged, according to his account, into vermin, which was said tobe a sign from his Guardians that they disapproved of his diet,and was accompanied by a clairaudient warning that he must bemore careful in that respect.

What can the world make of such a narrative? They may say thatthe man was mad, but his life in the years which followed showedno sign of mental weakness. Or they might say that he lied. Buthe was a man who was famed for his punctilious veracity. Hisfriend Cuno, a banker of Amsterdam, said of him, "When he gazedupon me with his smiling blue eyes it was as if truth itself wasspeaking from them." Was he then self-deluded and honestlymistaken? We have to face the fact that in the main the spiritualobservations which he made have been confirmed and extended sincehis time by innumerable psychic observers. The true verdict isthat he was the first and in many ways the greatest of the wholeline of mediums, that he was subject to the errors as well as tothe privileges which mediumship brings, that only by the study ofmediumship can his powers be really understood, and that inendeavouring to separate him from Spiritualism his New Church hasshown a complete misapprehension of his gifts, and of their trueplace in the general scheme of Nature. As a great pioneer of theSpiritual movement his position is both intelligible andglorious. As an isolated figure with incomprehensible powers,there is no place for him in any broad comprehensive scheme ofreligious thought.

It is interesting to note that he considered his powers to beintimately connected with a system of respiration. Air and etherbeing all around us, it is as if some men could breathe moreether and less air and so attain a more etheric state. This, nodoubt, is a crude and clumsy way of putting it, but some suchidea runs through the work of many schools of psychic thought.Laurence Oliphant, who had no obvious connexion with Swedenborg,wrote his book "Sympneumata" in order to explain it. The Indiansystem of Yoga depends upon the same idea. But anyone who hasseen an ordinary medium go into trance is aware of the peculiarhissing intakes with which the process begins and the deepexpirations with which it ends. A fruitful field of study liesthere for the Science of the future. Here, as in other psychicmatters, caution is needed. The author has known several caseswhere tragic results have followed upon an ignorant use of deep-breathing psychic exercises. Spiritual, like electrical power,has its allotted use, but needs some knowledge and caution inhandling.

Swedenborg sums up the matter by saying that when he communedwith spirits he would for an hour at a time hardly draw a breath,"taking in only enough air to serve as a supply to his thoughts."Apart from this peculiarity of respiration, Swedenborg was normalduring his visions, though he naturally preferred to be secludedat such times. He seems to have been privileged to examine theother world through several of its spheres, and though histheological habit of mind may have tinctured his descriptions, onthe other hand the vast range of his material knowledge gave himunusual powers of observation and comparison. Let us see whatwere the main facts which he brought back from his numerousjourneys, and how far they coincide with those which have beenobtained since his day by psychic methods.

He found, then, that the other world, to which we all go afterdeath, consisted of a number of different spheres representingvarious shades of luminosity and happiness, each of us going tothat for which our spiritual condition has fitted us. We arejudged in automatic fashion, like going to like by some spirituallaw, and the result being determined by the total result of ourlife, so that absolution or a death-bed repentance can be oflittle avail. He found in these spheres that the scenery andconditions of this world were closely reproduced, and so also wasthe general framework of society. He found houses in whichfamilies lived, temples in which they worshipped, halls in whichthey assembled for social purposes, palaces in which rulers mightdwell.

Death was made easy by the presence of celestial beings whohelped the new-comer into his fresh existence. Such new-comershad an immediate period of complete rest. They regainedconsciousness in a few days of our time.

There were both angels and devils, but they were not ofanother order to ourselves. They were all human beings who hadlived on earth and who were either undeveloped souls, as devils,or highly developed souls, as angels.

We did not change in any way at death. Man lost nothing bydeath, but was still a man in all respects, though more perfectthan when in the body. He took with him not only his powers butalso his acquired modes of thought, his beliefs and hisprejudices.

All children were received equally, whether baptized or not.They grew up in the other world. Young women mothered them untilthe real mother came across.

There was no eternal punishment. Those who were in the hellscould work their way out if they had the impulse. Those in theheavens were also in no permanent place, but were working theirway to something higher.

There was marriage in the form of spiritual union in the nextworld. It takes a man and a woman to make a complete human unit.Swedenborg, it may be remarked, was never married in life.

There was no detail too small for his observation in thespirit spheres. He speaks of the architecture, the artisans'work, the flowers and fruits, the scribes, the embroidery, theart, the music, the literature, the science, the schools, themuseums, the colleges, the libraries and the sports. It may allshock conventional minds, though why harps, crowns and thronesshould be tolerated and other less material things denied, it ishard to see.

Those who left this world old, decrepit, diseased, ordeformed, renewed their youth, and gradually assumed their fullvigour. Married couples continued together if their feelingstowards each other were close and sympathetic. If not, themarriage was dissolved. "Two real lovers are not separated by thedeath of one, since the spirit of the deceased dwells with thespirit of the survivor, and this even to the death of the latter,when they again meet and are reunited, and love each other moretenderly than before."

Such are some gleanings out of the immense store ofinformation which God sent to the world through Swedenborg. Againand again they have been repeated by the mouths and the pens ofour own Spiritualistic illuminates. The world has so fardisregarded it, and clung to outworn and senseless conceptions.Gradually the new knowledge is making its way, however, and whenit has been entirely accepted the true greatness of the missionof Swedenborg will be recognized, while his Biblical exegesiswill be forgotten.

The New Church, which was formed in order to sustain theteaching of the Swedish master, has allowed itself to become abackwater instead of keeping its rightful place as the originalsource of psychic knowledge. When the Spiritualistic movementbroke out in 1848, and when men like Andrew Jackson Davissupported it with philosophic writings and psychic powers whichcan hardly be distinguished from those of Swedenborg, the NewChurch would have been well advised to hail this development asbeing on the lines indicated by their leader. Instead of doingso, they have preferred, for some reason which is difficult tounderstand, to exaggerate every point of difference and ignoreevery point of resemblance, until the two bodies have driftedinto a position of hostility. In point of fact, everySpiritualist should honour Swedenborg, and his bust should be inevery Spiritualist temple, as being the first and greatest ofmodern mediums. On the other hand, the New Church should sink anysmall differences and join heartily in the new movement,contributing their churches and organization to the commoncause.

It is difficult on examining Swedenborg's life to discoverwhat are the causes which make his present-day followers lookaskance at other psychic bodies. What he did then is what they donow. Speaking of Polhem's death the seer says: "He died on Mondayand spoke with me on Thursday. I was invited to the funeral. Hesaw the hearse and saw them let down the coffin into the grave.He conversed with me as it was going on, asking me why they hadburied him when he was alive. When the priest pronounced that hewould rise again at the Day of judgment he asked why this was,when he had risen already. He wondered that such a belief couldobtain, considering that he was even now alive."

This is entirely in accord with the experience of a present-day medium. If Swedenborg was within his rights, then the mediumis so also.

Again: "Brahe was beheaded at 10 in the morning and spoke tome at 10 that night. He was with me almost without interruptionfor several days."

Such instances show that Swedenborg had no more scruples aboutconverse with the dead than the Christ had when He spoke on themountain with Moses and Elias.

Swedenborg has laid down his own view very clearly, but inconsidering it one has to remember the time in which he lived andhis want of experience of the trend and object of the newrevelation. This view was that God, for good and wise purposes,had separated the world of spirits from ours and thatcommunication was not granted except for cogentreasons—among which mere curiosity should not be counted.Every earnest student of the psychic would agree with it, andevery earnest Spiritualist is averse from turning the most solemnthing upon earth into a sort of pastime. As to having a cogentreason, our main reason is that in such an age of materialism asSwedenborg can never have imagined, we are endeavouring to provethe existence and supremacy of spirit in so objective a way thatit will meet and beat the materialists on their own ground. Itwould be hard to imagine any reason more cogent than this, andtherefore we have every right to claim that if Swedenborg werenow living he would have been a leader in our modern psychicmovement.

Some of his followers, notably Dr. Garth Wilkinson, have putforward another objection thus: "The danger of man in speakingwith spirits is that we are all in association with our likes,and being full of evil these similar spirits, could we face them,would but confirm us in our own state of views."

To this we can only reply that though it is specious it isproved by experience to be false. Man is not naturally bad. Theaverage human being is good. The mere act of spiritualcommunication in its solemnity brings out the religious side.Therefore as a rule it is not the evil but the good influencewhich is encountered, as the beautiful and moral records ofséances will show. The author can testify that in nearly fortyyears of psychic work, during which he has attended innumerableséances in many lands, he has never on any single occasion heardan obscene word or any message which could offend the ears of themost delicate female. Other veteran Spiritualists bring the sametestimony. Therefore, while it is undoubtedly true that evilspirits are attracted to an evil circle, in actual practice it isa very rare thing for anyone to be incommoded thereby. When suchspirits come the proper procedure is not to repulse them, butrather to reason gently with them and so endeavour to make themrealize their own condition and what they should do for self-improvement. This has occurred many times within the author'spersonal experience and with the happiest results.

Some little personal account of Swedenborg may fitly end thisbrief review of his doctrines, which is primarily intended toindicate his position in the general scheme. He must have been amost frugal, practical, hard-working and energetic young man, anda most lovable old one. Life seems to have mellowed him into avery gentle and venerable creature. He was placid, serene, andever ready for conversation which did not take a psychic turnunless his companions so desired. The material of suchconversations was always remarkable, but he was afflicted with astammer which hindered his enunciation. In person he was tall andspare, with a spiritual face, blue eyes, a wig to his shoulders,dark clothing, knee-breeches, buckles, and a cane.

Swedenborg claimed that a heavy cloud was formed round theearth by the psychic grossness of humanity, and that from time totime there was a judgment and a clearing up, even as thethunderstorm clears the material atmosphere. He saw that theworld, even in his day, was drifting into a dangerous positionowing to the unreason of the Churches on the one side and thereaction towards absolute want of religion which was caused byit. Modern psychic authorities, notably Vale Owen, have spoken ofthis ever-accumulating cloud, and there is a very general feelingthat the necessary cleansing process will not be longpostponed.

A notice of Swedenborg from the Spiritualistic standpoint maybe best concluded by an extract from his own diary. He says: "Allconfirmations in matters pertaining to theology are, as it were,glued fast into the brains, and can with difficulty be removed,and while they remain, genuine truths can find no place." He wasa very great seer, a great pioneer of psychic knowledge, and hisweakness lay in those very words which he has written.

The general reader who desires to go further will findSwedenborg's most characteristic teachings in his "Heaven andHell," "The New Jerusalem," and "Arcana Coelestia." His life hasbeen admirably done by Garth Wilkinson, Trobridge, and BrayleyHodgetts, the present president of the English SwedenborgSociety. In spite of all his theological symbolism, his name mustlive eternally as the first of all modern men who has given adescription of the process of death, and of the world beyond,which is not founded upon the vague ecstatic and impossiblevisions of the old Churches, but which actually corresponds withthe descriptions which we ourselves obtain from those whoendeavour to convey back to us some clear idea of their newexistence.


II. EDWARD IRVING: — THESHAKERS


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (6)

Edward Irving (1792-1834)


THE story of Edward Irving and his experience ofspiritual manifestations in the years from 1830 to 1833 are ofgreat interest to the psychic student, and help to bridge the gapbetween Swedenborg on one side and Andrew Jackson Davis on theother. The facts are as follows:

Edward Irving was of that hard-working poorer-class Scottishstock which has produced so many great men. Of the same stock andat the same time and district came Thomas Carlyle. Irving wasborn in Annan in the year 1792. After a hard, studious youth, hedeveloped into a very singular man. In person he was a giant anda Hercules in strength, his splendid physique being only marredby a bad outward cast of one eye—a defect which, likeByron's lame foot, seemed in some sort to present an analogy tothe extremes in his character. His mind, which was virile, broadand courageous, was warped by early training in the narrow schoolof the Scottish Church, where the hard, crude views of the oldCovenanters—an impossible Protestantism which represented areaction against an impossible Catholicism —still poisonedthe human soul. His mental position was strangely contradictory,for while he had inherited this cramped theology he had failed toinherit much which is the very birthright of the poorer Scot. Hewas opposed to all that was liberal, and even such obviousmeasures of justice as the Reform Bill of 1832 found in him adetermined opponent.

This strange, eccentric, and formidable man had his properenvironment in the 17th century, when his prototypes were holdingmoorland meetings in Gallo way and avoiding, or possibly evenattacking with the arms of the flesh, the dragoons ofClaverhouse. But, live when he might, he was bound to write hisnacre in some fashion on the annals of his time. We read of hisstrenuous youth in Scotland, of his rivalry with his friendCarlyle in the affections of the clever and vivacious Jane Welsh,of his enormous walks and feats of strength, of his short careeras a rather violent school-teacher at Kirkcaldy, of his marriageto the daughter of a minister in that town, and finally of hisbecoming curate or assistant to the great Dr. Chalmers, who was,at that time, the most famous clergyman in Scotland, and whoseadministration of his parish in Glasgow is one of the outstandingchapters in the history of the Scottish Church. In this capacityhe gained that man-to-man acquaintance with the poorer classeswhich is the best and most practical of all preparations for thework of life. Without it, indeed, no man is complete.

There was at that time a small Scottish church in HattonGarden, off Holborn, in London, which had lost its pastor and wasin a poor position, both spiritually and financially. The vacancywas offered to Dr. Chalmers's assistant, and after some heart-searchings was accepted by him. Here his sonorous eloquence andhis thoroughgoing delivery of the Gospel message began to attractattention, and suddenly the strange Scottish giant became thefashion. The humble street was blocked by carriages on a Sundaymorning, and some of the most distinguished men and women inLondon scrambled for a share of the very scanty accommodation.There is evidence that this extreme popularity did not last, andpossibly the preacher's habit of expounding a text for an hourand a half was too much for the English weakling, howeveracceptable north of the Tweed. Finally a move was made to alarger church in Regent Square which could hold two thousandpeople, and there were sufficient stalwarts to fill this indecent fashion, though the preacher had ceased to excite theinterest of his earlier days. Apart from his oratory, Irvingseems to have been a conscientious and hardworking pastor,striving assiduously for the temporal needs of the more humble ofhis flock, and ever ready at all hours of the day or night tofollow the call of duty.

Soon, however, there came a rift between him and theauthorities of his Church. The matter in dispute made a very finebasis for a theological quarrel of the type which has done moreharm in the world than the smallpox. The question was whether theChrist had in Him the possibility of sin, or whether the Divineportion of His being was a complete and absolute bar to physicaltemptations. The assessors contended that the association of suchideas as sin and Christ was a blasphemy. The obdurate clergyman,however, replied with some show of reason that unless the Christhad the capacity for sin, and successfully resisted it, Hisearthly lot was not the same as ours, and His virtues deservedless admiration. The matter was argued out in London with immenseseriousness and at intolerable length, with the result that thepresbytery declared its unanimous disapproval of the pastor'sviews. As, however, his congregation in turn expressed theirunqualified approval, he was able to disregard the censure of hisofficial brethren.

But a greater stumbling-block lay ahead, and Irving'sencounter with it has made his name live as all names live whichassociate themselves with real spiritual issues. It should firstbe understood that Irving was deeply interested in Biblicalprophecy, especially the vague and terrible images of St. John,and the strangely methodical forecasts of Daniel. He brooded muchover the years and the days which were fixed as the allotted timebefore the days of wrath should precede the Second Coming of theLord. There were others at that time—1830 andonwards—who were deeply immersed in the same sombrespeculations. Among these was a wealthy banker named Drummond,who had a large country house at Albury, near Guildford. At thishouse these Biblical students used to assemble from time to time,discussing and comparing their views with such thoroughness thatit was not unusual for their sittings to extend over a week, eachday being fully taken up from breakfast to supper. This band wascalled the "Albury Prophets." Excited by the political portentswhich led up to the Reform Bill, they all considered that thefoundations of the deep had been loosened. It is hard to imaginewhat their reaction would have been had they lived to witness theGreat War. As it was, they were convinced that the end of allthings was at hand, and they looked out eagerly for signs andportents, twisting the vague and sinister words of the prophetsinto all manner of fantastic interpretations.

Finally, above the monotonous horizon of human happeningsthere did actually appear a strange manifestation. There had beena legend that the spiritual gifts of earlier days would reassertthemselves before the end, and here apparently was the forgottengift of tongues coming back into the experience of mankind. Ithad begun in 1830 on the western side of Scotland, where thenames of the sensitives, Campbell and MacDonald, spoke of thatCeltic blood which has always been more alive to spiritualinfluences than the heavier Teutonic strain. The Albury Prophetswere much exercised in their minds, and an emissary was sent fromMr. Irving's church to investigate and report. He found that thematter was very real. The people were of good repute, one ofthem, indeed, a woman whose character could best be described assaintly. The strange tongues in which they both talked broke outat intervals, and the manifestation was accompanied by healingmiracles and other signs of power. Clearly it was no fraud orpretence, but a real influx of some strange force which carriedone back to apostolic times. The faithful waited eagerly forfurther developments.

These were not long in coming, and they broke out in Irving'sown church. It was in July, 1831, that it was rumoured thatcertain members of the congregation had been seized in thisstrange way in their own homes, and discreet exhibitions wereheld in the vestry and other secluded places. The pastor and hisadvisers were much puzzled as to whether a more publicdemonstration should be tolerated. The matter settled itself,however, after the fashion of affairs of the spirit, and inOctober of the same year the prosaic Church of Scotland servicewas suddenly interrupted by the strange outcry of the possessed.It came so suddenly and with such vehemence, both at the morningand afternoon service, that a panic set in in the church, and hadit not been for their giant pastor thundering out, "Oh, Lord,still the tumult of the people!" a tragedy might have followed.There was also a good deal of hissing and uproar from those whowere conservative in their tastes. Altogether the sensation was aconsiderable one, and the newspapers of the day were filled withit, though their comments were far from respectful orfavourable.

The sounds came from both women and men, and consisted in thefirst instance of unintelligible noises which were either meregibberish, or some entirely unknown language. "Sudden, doleful,and unintelligible sounds," says one witness. "There was a forceand fulness of sound," said another description, "of which thedelicate female organs would seem incapable." "It burst forthwith an astounding and terrible crash," says a third. Many,however, were greatly impressed by these sounds, and among themwas Irving himself. "There is a power in the voice to thrill theheart and overawe the spirit after a manner which I have neverfelt. There is a march and majesty and sustained grandeur ofwhich I have never heard the like. It is likest to one of thesimplest and most ancient chants in the cathedral service in somuch that I have been led to think that these chants, which canbe traced as high as Ambrose, are recollections of the inspiredutterances of the primitive Church."

Soon, moreover, intelligible English words were added to thestrange outbursts. These usually consisted of ejacul*tions andprayers, with no obvious sign of any supernormal character savethat they broke out at unseasonable hours and independently ofthe will of the speaker. In some cases, however, these powersdeveloped until the gifted one was able, while under theinfluence, to give long harangues, to lay down the law in mostdogmatic fashion over points of doctrine, and to issue reproofswhich occasionally were turned even in the direction of thelongsuffering pastor.

There may have been—in fact, there probably was—atrue psychic origin to these phenomena, but they had developed ina soil of narrow bigoted theology, which was bound to bring themto ruin. Even Swedenborg's religious system was too narrow toreceive the full undistorted gifts of the spirit, so one canimagine what they became when contracted within the crampedlimits of a Scottish church, where every truth must be shorn ortwisted until it corresponds with some fantastic text. The newgood wine will not go into the old narrow bottles. Had there beena fuller revelation, then doubtless other messages would havebeen received in other fashions which would have presented thematter in its just proportions, and checked one spiritual gift byothers. But there was no development save towards chaos. Some ofthe teaching received could not be reconciled with orthodoxy, andwas therefore obviously of the devil. Some of the sensitivescondemned others as heretics. Voice was raised against voice.Worst of all, some of the chief speakers became convincedthemselves that their own speeches were diabolical. Their chiefreason seems to have been that they did not accord with their ownspiritual convictions, which would seem to some of us rather anindication that they were angelic. They entered also upon theslippery path of prophecy, and were abashed when their ownprophecies did not materialize.

Some of the statements which came through these sensitives,and which shocked their religious sensibilities, might seem todeserve serious consideration by a more enlightened generation.Thus one of these Bible-worshippers is recorded as saying,concerning the Bible Society, "That it was the curse goingthrough the land, quenching the Spirit of God, by the letter ofthe Word of God." Right or wrong, such an utterance would seem tobe independent of him who uttered it, and it is in close accordwith many of the spiritual teachings which we receive to-day. Solong as the letter is regarded as sacred, just so long cananything, even pure materialism, be proved from that volume.

One of the chief mouthpieces of the spirit was a certainRobert Baxter —not to be confused with the Baxter who somethirty years later was associated with certain remarkableprophecies. This Robert Baxter seems to have been a solid,earnest, prosaic citizen who viewed the Scriptures much as alawyer views a legal document, with an exact valuation of everyphrase —especially of such phrases as fitted into his ownhereditary scheme of religion. He was an honest man with arestless conscience, which continually worried him over thesmaller details, while leaving him quite unperturbed as to thebroad platform upon which his beliefs were constructed. This manwas powerfully affected by the influx of spirit—to use hisown phrase, "his mouth was opened in power." According to him,January 14, 1832, was the beginning of those mystical 1,260 dayswhich were to precede the Second Coming and the end of the world.Such a prediction must have been particularly sympathetic toIrving with his millennial dreams. But long before the days werefulfilled Irving was in his grave, and Baxter had forsworn thosevoices which had, in this instance at least, deceived him.

Baxter has written a pamphlet with the portentous title,"Narrative of Facts, Characterising the SupernaturalManifestations, in Members of Mr. Irving's Congregation, andother Individuals, in England and Scotland, and formerly in theWriter Himself." Spiritual truth could no more come through sucha mind than white light could come through a prism, and yet inthis account he has to admit the occurrence of many things whichseem clearly preternatural, mixed up with much that isquestionable, and some things which are demonstrably false. Theobject of the pamphlet is mainly to forswear his evil andinvisible guides, so that he may return to the safe if flattishbosom of the Scottish Church. It is noticeable, however, that asecond member of Irving's congregation wrote an answeringpamphlet with an even longer title, which showed that Baxter wasright so long as he was prompted by the spirit, and wrong in hisSatanic inferences. This pamphlet is interesting as containingletters from various people who possessed the gift of tongues,showing that they were earnest-minded folk who were incapable ofany conscious deception.

What is an impartial psychic student who is familiar with moremodern phases to say to this development? Personally it seems tothe author to have been a true psychic influx, blanketed andsmothered by a petty sectarian theology of the letter-perfectdescription for which the Pharisees were reproved. If he mayventure his individual opinion, it is that the perfect recipientof spiritual teaching is the earnest man who has worked his waythrough all the orthodox creeds, and whose mind, eager andreceptive, is a blank surface ready to register a new impressionexactly as received. He becomes the true child and pupil ofother-world teaching, and all other types of Spiritualist appearto be compromises.

This does not alter the fact that personal nobility ofcharacter may make the honest compromiser a far higher type thanthe pure Spiritualist, but it applies only to the actualphilosophy. The field of Spiritualism is infinitely broad, and onit every variety of Christian, as well as the Moslem, the Hinduor the Parsee, can dwell in brotherhood. But a mere acceptance ofspirit return and communion is not enough. Many savages havethat. We need a moral code as well, and whether we regard Christas a benevolent teacher or as a divine ambassador, His actualethical teaching in one form or another, even if not coupled withHis name, is an essential thing for the upliftment of mankind.But always it must be checked by reason, and acted upon in thespirit and not according to the letter.

This, however, is digression. In the voices of 1831 there arethe signs of real psychic power. It is a recognized spiritual lawthat all psychic manifestations become distorted when seenthrough the medium of narrow sectarian religion. It is also a lawthat pompous, inflated persons attract mischievous entities andare the butts of the spirit world, being made game of by the useof large names and by prophecies which make the prophetridiculous. Such were the guides who descended upon the flock ofMr. Irving, and produced various effects, good or bad, accordingto the instrument used.

The unity of the Church, which had been shaken by the previouscensure of the presbytery, dissolved under this new trial. Therewas a large secession, and the building was claimed by thetrustees. Irving and the stalwarts who were loyal to him wanderedforth in search of new premises, and found them in the hall usedby Robert Owen, the Socialist, philanthropist, and free-thinker,who was destined twenty years later to be one of the pioneerconverts to Spiritualism. Here, in Gray's Inn Road, Irvingrallied the faithful. It cannot be denied that the Church, as heorganized it, with its angel, its elders, its deacons, itstongues, and its prophecies, was the best reconstruction of aprimitive Christian Church that has ever been made. If Peter orPaul reincarnated in London they would be bewildered, andpossibly horrified, by St. Paul's or by Westminster Cathedral,but they would certainly have been in a perfectly familiaratmosphere in the gathering over which Irving presided. A wiseman recognizes that God may be approached from innumerableangles. The minds of men and the spirit of the times vary intheir reaction to the great central cause, and one can onlyinsist upon a broad charity both in oneself and in others. It wasin this that Irving seems to have been wanting. It was always bythe standard of that which was a sect among sects that he wouldmeasure the universe. There were times when he was vaguelyconscious of this, and it may be that those wrestlings withApollyon, of which he complains, even as Bunyan and the Puritansof old used to comes plain, had a strange explanation. Apollyonwas really the Spirit of Truth, and the inward struggle was notbetween Faith and Sin, but was really between the darkness ofinherited dogma, and the light of inherent and instinctivereason, God-given, and rising for ever in revolt against theabsurdities of man.

But Irving lived very intensely and the successive crisesthrough which he had passed had broken him down. These contestswith argumentative theologians and with recalcitrant members ofhis flock may seem trivial things to us when viewed far off downthe vista of years, but to him, with his eager, earnest, storm-torn soul, they were vital and terrible. To the unfettered mindthis sect or that seems a matter of indifference, but to Irving,both from heredity and from education, the Scottish Church wasthe ark of God, and yet he, its zealous, faithful son, driven byhis own conscience, had rushed forth and had found the greatgates which contained Salvation slammed and barred behind him. Hewas a branch cut from the tree, and he withered. It is a truesimile, and it is more than a simile, for it became an actualphysical fact. This giant in early middle age wilted and shrank.His great frame stooped. His cheeks became hollow and wan. Hiseyes shone with the baleful fever which was consuming him. Andso, working to the very end and with the words, "If I die, I diewith the Lord," upon his lips, his soul passed forth into thatclearer and more golden light where the tired brain finds restand the anxious spirit enters into a peace and assurance whichlife has never given.

* * * * *

Apart from this isolated incident of Irving's Church, therewas one other psychic manifestation of those days which led moredirectly to the Hydesville revelation. This was the outbreak ofspiritual phenomena among the Shaker communities in the UnitedStates, which has received less attention than it deserves.

These good people seem to have had affiliations on the oneside with the Quakers, and, on the other, with the refugees fromthe Cevennes, who came to England to escape the persecution ofLouis XIV. Even in England their harmless lives did not screenthem from the persecution of the bigots, and they were forced toemigrate to America about the time of the War ofIndependence.

There they founded settlements in various parts, living simplecleanly lives upon communistic principles, with sobriety andchastity as their watchword. It is not surprising that as thepsychic cloud of other-world power slowly settled upon the earthit should have found its first response from such altruisticcommunities. In 1837 there were sixty such bodies in existence,and all of them responded in various degrees to the new power.They kept their experiences very strictly to themselves at thetime, for as their elders subsequently explained, they wouldcertainly have been all consigned to Bedlam had they told whathad actually occurred. Two books, however, "Holy Wisdom" and "TheSacred Roll," which arose from their experiences, appearedafterwards.

The phenomena seem to have begun with the usual warningnoises, and to have been followed by the obsession from time totime of nearly all the community. Everyone, man and woman, provedto be open to spirit possession. The invaders only came, however,after asking permission, and at such intervals as did notinterfere with the work of the community. The chief visitantswere Red Indian spirits, who came collectively as a tribe. "Oneor two elders might be in the room below, and there would be aknock at the door and the Indians would ask whether they mightcome in. Permission being given, a whole tribe of Indian spiritswould troop into the house, and in a few minutes you would hear'Whoop!' here and 'Whoop!' there all over the house." The whoopsemanated, of course, from the vocal organs of the Shakersthemselves, but while under the Indian control they would talkIndian among themselves, dance Indian dances, and in all waysshow that they were really possessed by the Redskin spirits.

One may well ask why should these North American aboriginesplay so large a part not only in the inception, but in thecontinuance of this movement? There are few physical mediums inthis country, as well as in America, who have not a Red Indianguide, whose photograph has not infrequently been obtained bypsychic means, still retaining his scalp-locks and his robes. Itis one of the many mysteries which we have still to solve. We canonly say for certain, from our own experience, that such spiritsare powerful in producing physical phenomena, but that they neverpresent the higher teaching which comes to us either fromEuropean or from Oriental spirits. The physical phenomena arestill, however, of very great importance, as calling theattention of sceptics to the matter, and therefore the partassigned to the Indians is a very vital one. Men of the rudeopen-air type seem in spirit life to be especially associatedwith the crude manifestations of spirit activity, and it has beenrepeatedly asserted, though it is hard to say how it could beproved, that their chief organizer was an adventurer who in lifewas known as Henry Morgan, and died as Governor of Jamaica, apost to which he had been appointed in the time of Charles II.Such unproved assertions are, it must be admitted, of no value inour present state of knowledge, but they should be put on recordas further information may in time shed some new light upon them.John King, which is the spirit name of the alleged Henry Morgan,is a very real being, and there are few Spiritualists ofexperience who have not seen his heavily-bearded face and heardhis masterful voice. As to the Indians who are his colleagues orhis subordinates, one can but hazard the conjecture that they arechildren of Nature who are nearer perhaps to the primitivesecrets than other more complex races. It may be that theirspecial work is of the nature of an expiation andatonement—an explanation which the author has heard fromtheir lips.

These remarks may well seem a digression from the actualexperience of the Shakers, but the difficulties raised in themind of the inquirer arise largely from the number of new facts,without any order or explanation, which he is forced toencounter. His mind has no possible pigeon-hole into which theycan be fitted. Therefore, the author will endeavour in thesepages to provide so far as possible from his own experience, orfrom that of those upon whom he can rely, such sidelights as maymake the matter more intelligible, and give at least a hint ofthose laws which lie behind, and are as binding upon spirits asupon ourselves. Above all, the inquirer must cast away for everthe idea that the discarnate are necessarily wise or powerfulentities. They have their individuality and their limitations,even as we have, and these limitations become the more markedwhen they have to manifest themselves through so foreign asubstance as matter.

The Shakers had among them a man of outstanding intelligencenamed F. W. Evans, who gave a very clear and entertaining accountof all this matter, which may be sought by the curious in theNew York Daily Graphic of November 24, 1874, and has beenlargely copied into Colonel Olcott's work, "People From the OtherWorld."

Mr. Evans and his associates after the first disturbance,physical and mental, caused by this spirit irruption, settleddown to study what it really meant. They came to the conclusionthat the matter could be divided into three phases. The firstphase was the actual proving to the observer that the thing wasreal. The second phase was one of instruction, as even thehumblest spirit can bring information as to his own experience ofafter-death conditions. The third phase was called the missionaryphase and was the practical application. The Shakers came to theunexpected conclusion that the Indians were there not to teachbut to be taught. They proselytized them, therefore, exactly asthey would have done in life. A similar experience has occurredsince then in very many Spiritualistic circles, where humble andlowly spirits have come to be taught that which they should havelearned in this world had true teachers been available. One maywell ask why the higher spirits over there do not supply thiswant? The answer given to the author upon one notable occasionwas, "These people are very much nearer to you than to us. Youcan reach theta where we fail."

It is clear from this that the good Shakers were never intouch with the higher guides—possibly they did not needguidance—and that their visitors were on a low plane. Forseven years these visitations continued. When the spirits leftthey informed their hosts that they were going, but thatpresently they would return, and that when they did so they wouldpervade the world and enter the palace as well as the cottage. Itwas just four years later that the Rochester knockings broke out.When they did so, Elder Evans and another Shaker visitedRochester and saw the Fox sisters. Their arrival was greeted withgreat enthusiasm from the unseen forces, who proclaimed that thiswas indeed the work which had been foretold.

One remark of Elder Evans is worth transcribing. When asked,"Don't you think your experience is much the same as that ofmonks and nuns in the Middle Ages?" he did not answer. "Ours wereangelic but these others were diabolical," as would have beensaid had the situation been reversed, but he replied with finecandour and breadth of mind, "Certainly. That is the properexplanation of them through all the ages. The visions of SaintTheresa were Spiritualistic visions just such as we havefrequently had vouchsafed to the members of our society." Whenfurther asked whether magic and necromancy did not belong to thesame category, he answered, "Yes. That is when Spiritualism isused for selfish ends." It is clear that there were men livingnearly a century ago who were capable of instructing our wise menof to-day.

That very remarkable woman, Mrs. Hardinge Britten, hasrecorded in her "Modern American Spiritualism" how she came inclose contact with the Shaker community, and was shown by themthe records, taken at the time, of their spiritual visitation. Inthem it was stated that the new era was to be inaugurated by anextraordinary discovery of material as well as of spiritualwealth. This is a most remarkable prophecy, as it is a matter ofhistory that the goldfields of California were discovered withina very short time of the psychic outburst. A Swedenborg with hisdoctrine of correspondences might perhaps contend that the onewas complementary to the other.

This episode of the Shaker manifestations is a very distinctlink between the Swedenborg pioneer work and the period of Davisand the Fox sisters. We shall now consider the career of theformer, which is intimately associated with the rise and progressof the modern psychic movement.


III. — THE PROPHET OF THENEW REVELATION


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (7)

Andrew Jackson Davis.


ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS was one of the mostremarkable men of whom we have any exact record. Born in 1826 onthe banks of the Hudson, his mother was an uneducated woman, witha visionary turn which was allied to vulgar superstition, whilehis father was a drunken worker in leather. He has written thedetails of his own childhood in a curious book, "The MagicStaff," which brings home to us the primitive and yet forcefullife of the American provinces in the first half of last century.The people were rude and uneducated, but their spiritual side wasvery much alive, and they seem to have been reaching outcontinually for some new thing. It was in these country districtsof New York in the space of a few years that both Mormonism andmodern Spiritualism were evolved.

There never could have been a lad with fewer naturaladvantages than Davis. He was feeble in body and starved in mind.Outside an occasional school primer he could only recall one bookthat he had ever read up to his sixteenth year. Yet in that poorentity there lurked such spiritual forces that before he wastwenty he had written one of the most profound and original booksof philosophy ever produced. Could there be a clearer proof thatnothing came from himself, and that he was but a conduit pipethrough which flowed the knowledge of that vast reservoir whichfinds such inexplicable outlets? The valour of a Joan of Arc, thesanctity of a Theresa, the wisdom of a Jackson Davis, thesupernormal powers of a Daniel Home, all come from the samesource.

In his later boyhood, Davis's latent psychic powers began todevelop. Like Joan, he heard voices in the fields—gentlevoices which gave him good advice and comfort. Clairvoyancefollowed this clairaudience. At the time of his mother's death,he had a striking vision of a lovely home in a land of brightnesswhich he conjectured to be the place to which his mother hadgone. His full capacity was tapped, however, by the chance that atravelling showman who exhibited the wonders of mesmerism came tothe village and experimented upon Davis, as well as on many otheryoung rustics who desired to experience the sensation. It wassoon found that Davis had very remarkable clairvoyant powers.

These were developed not by the peripatetic mesmerist, but bya local tailor named Levingston, who seems to have been a pioneerthinker. He was so intrigued by the wonderful gifts of hissubject, that he abandoned his prosperous business and devotedhis whole time to working with Davis and to using his clairvoyantpowers for the diagnosis of disease. Davis had developed thepower, common among psychics, of seeing without the eyes,including things which could not be seen in any case by humanvision. At first, the gift was used as a sort of amusem*nt inreading the letters or the watches of the assembled rustics whenhis eyes were bandaged. In such cases all parts of the body canassume the function of sight, and the reason probably is that theetheric or spiritual body, which possesses the same organs as thephysical, is wholly or partially disengaged, and that itregisters the impression. Since it might assume any posture, ormight turn completely round, one would naturally get vision fromany angle, and an explanation is furnished of such cases as theauthor met in the north of England, where Tom Tyrrell, the famousmedium, used to walk round a room, admiring the pictures, withthe back of his head turned towards the walls on which they werehung. Whether in such cases the etheric eyes see the picture, orwhether they see the etheric duplicate of the picture, is one ofthe many problems which we leave to our descendants.

Levingston used Davis at first for medical diagnosis. Hedescribed how the human body became transparent to his spiriteyes, which seemed to act from the centre of his forehead. Eachorgan stood out clearly and with a special radiance of its ownwhich was dimmed in case of disease. To the orthodox medicalmind, with which the author has much sympathy, such powers aresuspect as opening a door for quackery, and yet he is bound toadmit that all that was said by Davis has been corroboratedwithin his own experience by Mr. Bloomfield, of Melbourne, whodescribed to him the amazement which he felt when this power camesuddenly upon him in the street, and revealed the anatomy of twopersons who were walking in front of him. So well attested aresuch powers that it has been not unusual for medical men toengage clairvoyants as helpers in diagnosis. Hippocrates says,"The affections suffered by the body the soul sees with shuteyes." Apparently, then, the ancients knew something of suchmethods. Davis's ministrations were not confined to those whowere in his presence, but hi; soul or etheric body could beliberated by the magnetic manipulation of his employer, and couldbe sent forth like a carrier pigeon with the certainty that itwould come home again bearing any desired information. Apart fromthe humanitarian mission on which it was usually engaged it wouldsometimes roam at will, and he has described in wonderfulpassages how he would see a translucent earth beneath him, withthe great veins of mineral beds shining through like masses ofmolten metal, each with its own fiery radiance.

It is notable that at this earlier phase of Davis's psychicexperience he had no memory when he returned from trance of whathis impressions had been. They were registered, however, upon hissubconscious mind, and at a later date he recalled them allclearly. For the time he was a source of instruction to othersbut remained ignorant himself.

Until then his development had been on lines which are notuncommon, and which could be matched within the experience ofevery psychic student. But then there occurred an episode whichwas entirely novel and which is described in close detail in theautobiography. Put briefly, the facts were these. On the eveningof March 6, 1844, Davis was suddenly possessed by some powerwhich led him to fly from the little town of Poughkeepsie, wherehe lived, and to hurry off, in a condition of semi-trance, upon arapid journey. When he regained his clear perceptions he foundhimself among wild mountains, and there he claims to have met twovenerable men with whom he held intimate and elevating communion,the one upon medicine and the other upon morals. All night he wasout, and when he inquired his whereabouts next morning he wastold that he was in the Catskill Mountains and forty miles fromhis home. The whole narrative reads like a subjective experience,a dream or a vision, and one would not hesitate to place it assuch were it not for the details of his reception and the meal heate upon his return. It is a possible alternative that the flightinto the mountains was a reality and the interviews a dream. Heclaims that he afterwards identified his two mentors as Galen andSwedenborg, which is interesting as being the first contact withthe dead which he had ever recognized. The whole episode seemsvisionary, and had no direct bearing upon the lad's remarkablefuture.

He felt higher powers stirring within him, and it was remarkedto him that when he was asked profound questions in the mesmerictrance he always replied, "I will answer that in my book." In hisnineteenth year he felt that the hour for writing the book hadcome. The mesmeric influence of Levingston did not, for somereason, seem suited for this, and a Dr. Lyon was chosen as thenew mesmerist. Lyon threw up his practice and went with hissingular protege to New York, where they presently called uponthe Rev. William Fishbough to come and act as amanuensis. Theintuitional selection seems to have been justified, for he alsoat once gave up his work and obeyed the summons. Then, theapparatus being ready, Lyon threw the lad day after day into themagnetic trance, and his utterances were taken down by thefaithful secretary. There was no money and no publicity in thematter, and even the most sceptical critic cannot but admit thatthe occupation and objects of these three men were a wonderfulcontrast to the money-making material world which surroundedthem. They were reaching out to the beyond, and what can man dothat is nobler?

It is to be understood that a pipe can carry no more than itsown diameter permits. The diameter of Davis was very differentfrom that of Swedenborg. Each got knowledge while in anilluminated state. But Swedenborg was the most learned man inEurope, while Davis was as ignorant a young man as could be foundin the State of New York. Swedenborg's revelation was perhaps thegreater, though more likely to be tinged by his own brain. Therevelation of Davis was incomparably the greater miracle.

Dr. George Bush, Professor of Hebrew in the University of NewYork, who was one of those present while the trance orations werebeing taken down, writes:

I can solemnly affirm that I have heard Daviscorrectly quote the Hebrew language in his lectures, and displaya knowledge of geology which would have been astonishing in aperson of his age, even if he had devoted years to the study. Hehas discussed, with the most signal ability, the profoundestquestions of historical and biblical archeology, of mythology, ofthe origin and affinity of language, and the progress ofcivilization among the different nations of the globe, whichwould do honour to any scholar of the age, even if in reachingthem he had the advantage of access to all the libraries inChristendom. Indeed, if he had acquired all the information hegives forth in these lectures, not in the two years since he leftthe shoemaker's bench, but in his whole life, with the mostassiduous study, no prodigy of intellect of which the world hasever heard would be for a moment compared with him, yet not asingle volume or page has he ever read.

Davis has a remarkable pen-picture of himself at that moment.He asks us to take stock of his equipment. "The circumference ofhis head is unusually small," says he. "If size is the measure ofpower, then this youth's mental capacity is unusually limited.His lungs are weak and unexpanded. He had not dwelt amid refininginfluences—manners ungentle and awkward. He has not read abook save one. He knows nothing of grammar or the rules oflanguage, nor associated with literary or scientific persons."Such was the lad of nineteen from whom there now poured a perfectcataract of words and ideas which are open to the criticism notof simplicity, but of being too complex and too shrouded inlearned terms, although always with a consistent thread of reasonand method beneath them.

It is very well to talk of the subconscious mind, but this hasusually been taken as the appearance of ideas which have beenreceived and then submerged. When, for example, the developedDavis could recall what had happened in his trances during hisundeveloped days, that was a clear instance of the emerging ofthe buried impressions. But it seems an abuse of words to talk ofthe unconscious mind when we are dealing with something whichcould never by normal means have reached any stratum of the mind,whether conscious or not.

Such was the beginning of Davis's great psychic revelationwhich extended eventually over many books and is all covered bythe name of the "Harmonica Philosophy." Of its nature and itsplace in psychic teaching we shall treat later.

In this phase of his life Davis claims still to have beenunder the direct influence of the person whom he afterwardsidentified as Swedenborg—a name quite unfamiliar to him atthe time. From time to time he received a clairaudient summons to"go up into the mountain." This mountain was a hill on thefarther bank of the Hudson opposite Poughkeepsie. There on themountain he claims that he met and spoke with a venerable figure.There seems to have been none of the details of amaterialization, and the incident has no analogy in our psychicexperience, save indeed—and one speaks with allreverence—when the Christ also went up into a mountain andcommuned with the forms of Moses and Elias. There the analogyseems complete.

Davis does not appear to have been at all a religious man inthe ordinary conventional sense, although he was drenched withtrue spiritual power. His views, so far as one can follow them,were very critical as regards Biblical revelation, and, to put itat the lowest, he was no believer in literal interpretation. Buthe was honest, earnest, unvenal, anxious to get the truth andconscious of his responsibility in spreading it.

For two years the unconscious Davis continued to dictate hisbook upon the secrets of Nature, while the conscious Davis did alittle self-education in New York with occasional restorativevisits to Poughkeepsie. He had begun to attract the attention ofsome serious people, Edgar Allan Poe being one of his visitors.His psychic development went on, and before he reached histwenty-first year he had attained a state when he needed nosecond person to throw him into trance but could do it forhimself. His subconscious memory too was at last opened, and hewas able to go over the whole long vista of his experiences. Itwas at this time that he sat by a dying woman and observed everydetail of the soul's departure, a wonderful description of whichis given in the first volume of the "Great Harmonia." Althoughthis description has been issued as a separate pamphlet it is notas well known as it should be, and a short epitome of it mayinterest the reader.

He begins by the consoling reflection that his own soul-flights, which were death in everything save duration, had shownhim that the experience was "interesting and delightful," andthat those symptoms which appear to be signs of pain are reallythe unconscious reflexes of the body, and have no significance.He then tells how, having first thrown himself into what he callsthe "Superior condition," he thus observed the stages from thespiritual side. "The material eye can only see what is material,and the spiritual what is spiritual," but as everything wouldseem to have a spiritual counterpart the result is the same. Thuswhen a spirit comes to us it is not us that it perceives but ouretheric bodies, which are, however, duplicates of our realones.

It was this etheric body which Davis saw emerging from itspoor outworn envelope of protoplasm, which finally lay empty uponthe bed like the shrivelled chrysalis when the moth is free. Theprocess began by an extreme concentration in the brain, whichbecame more and more luminous as the extremities became darker.It is probable that man never thinks so clearly, or is sointensely conscious, as he becomes after all means of indicatinghis thoughts have left him. Then the new body begins to emerge,the head disengaging itself first. Soon it has completely freeditself, standing at right-angles to the corpse, with its feetnear the head, and with some luminous vital band between whichcorresponds to the umbilical cord. When the cord snaps a smallportion is drawn back into the dead body, and it is this whichpreserves it from instant putrefaction. As to the etheric body,it takes some little time to adapt itself to its newsurroundings, and in this instance it then passed out through theopen doors. "I saw her pass through the adjoining room, out ofthe door and step from the house into the atmosphere .Immediately upon her emergement from the house she was joined bytwo friendly spirits from the spiritual country, and aftertenderly recognizing and communing with each other the three, inthe most graceful manner, began ascending obliquely through theethereal envelopment of our globe. They walked so naturally andfraternally together that I could scarcely realize the fact thatthey trod the air—they seemed to be walking on the side ofa glorious but familiar mountain. I continued to gaze upon themuntil the distance shut them from my view."

Such is the vision of Death as seen by A. J. Davis—avery different one from that dark horror which has so longobsessed the human imagination. If this be the truth, then we cansympathize with Dr. Hodgson in his exclamation, "I can hardlybear to wait." But is it true? We can only say that there is agreat deal of corroborative evidence.

Many who have been in the cataleptic condition, or who havebeen so ill that they have sunk into deep coma, have brought backimpressions very consistent with Davis's explanation, thoughothers have returned with their minds completely blank. Theauthor, when at Cincinnati in 1923, was brought into contact witha Mrs. Monk, who had been set down as dead by her doctors, andfor an hour or so had experienced a post-mortem existence beforesome freak of fate restored her to life. She wrote a shortaccount of her experience, in which she had a vivid remembranceof walking out of the room, just as Davis described, and also ofthe silver thread which continued to unite her living soul to hercomatose body. A remarkable case was reported in Light,also (March 25, 1922), in which the five daughters of a dyingwoman, all of them clairvoyant, watched and reported the processof their mother's death. There again the description of theprocess was very analogous to that given, and yet there issufficient difference in this and other accounts to suggest thatthe sequence of events is not always regulated by the same laws.Another variation of extreme interest is to be found in a drawingdone by a child medium which depicts the soul leaving the bodyand is described in Mrs. De Morgan's "From Matter to Spirit" (p.121). This book, with its weighty preface by the celebratedmathematician Professor De Morgan, is one of the pioneer works ofthe spiritual movement in Great Britain. When one reflects thatit was published in 1863 one's heart grows heavy at the successof those forces of obstruction, reflected so strongly in thePress, which have succeeded for so many years in standing betweenGod's message and the human race.

The prophetic power of Davis can only be got over by thesceptic if he ignores the record. Before 1856 he prophesied indetail the coining of the motor car and of the typewriter. In hisbook, "The Penetralia," appears the following:

"Question: Will utilitarianism make anydiscoveries in other locomotive directions?"

"Yes; look out about these days for carriagesand travelling saloons on country roads—without horses,without steam, without any visible motive power moving withgreater speed and far more safety than at present. Carriages willbe moved by a strange and beautiful and simple admixture ofaqueous and atmospheric gases—so easily condensed, sosimply ignited, and so imparted by a machine somewhat resemblingour engines, as to be entirely concealed and manageable betweenthe forward wheels. These vehicles will prevent manyembarrassments now experienced by persons living in thinlypopulated territories. The first requisite for these land-locomotives will be good roads, upon which with your engine,without your horses, you may travel with great rapidity. Thesecarriages seem to me of uncomplicated construction."

"He was next asked:

"Do you perceive any plan by which to expeditethe art of writing?"

"Yes; I am almost moved to invent an automaticpsychographer—that is, an artificial soul-writer. It may beconstructed something like a piano, one brace or scale of keys torepresent the elementary sounds; another and lower tier torepresent a combination, and still another for a rapid re-combination; so that a person, instead of playing a piece ofmusic, may touch off a sermon or a poem."

So, too, this seer, in reply to a query regarding what wasthen termed "atmospheric navigation," felt "deeply impressed"that "the necessary mechanism—to transcend the adversecurrents of air, so that we may sail as easily and safely andpleasantly as birds—is dependent on a new motive power.This power will come. It will not only move the locomotive on therail, and the carriage on the country road, but the aerial carsalso, which will move through the sky from country tocountry."

He predicted the coming of Spiritualism in his "Principles ofNature," published in 1847, where he says:

It is a truth that spirits commune with oneanother while one is in the body and the other in the higherspheres—and this, too, when the person in the body isunconscious of the influx, and hence cannot be convinced of thefact; and this truth will ere long present itself in the form ofa living demonstration. And the world will hail with delight theushering-in of that era when the interiors of men will be opened,and the spiritual communion will be established such as is nowbeing enjoyed by the inhabitants of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

In this matter Davis's teaching was definite, but it must beadmitted that in a good deal of his work he is indefinite andthat it is hard reading, for it is disfigured by the use of longwords, and occasionally he even invents a vocabulary of his own.It was, however, on a very high moral and intellectual level, andmight be best described as an up-to-date Christianity withChrist's ethics applied to modern problems and entirely freedfrom all trace of dogma. "Documentary Religion," as Davis calledit, was not in his opinion religion at all. That name could onlybe applied to the personal product of reason and spirituality.Such was the general line of teaching, mixed up with manyrevelations of Nature, which was laid down in the successivebooks of the "Harmonial Philosophy" which succeeded "Nature'sDivine Revelations," and occupied the next few years of his life.Much of the teaching appeared in a strange paper called "TheUnivercoelum," and much was spread by lectures in which he laidbefore the public the results of his revelations.

In his spiritual vision Davis saw an arrangement of theuniverse which corresponds closely with that which Swedenborg hadalready noted, and with that afterwards taught by the spirits andaccepted by the Spiritualists. He saw a life which resembled thatof earth, a life that may be called semi-material, with pleasuresand pursuits that would appeal to our natures which had been byno means changed by death. He saw study for the studious,congenial tasks for the energetic, art for the artistic, beautyfor the lover of Nature, rest for the weary ones. He sawgraduated phases of spiritual life, through which one slowly roseto the sublime and the celestial. He carried his magnificentvision onward beyond the present universe, and saw it dissolveonce more into the fire-mist from which it had consolidated, andthen consolidate once more to form the stage on which a higherevolution could take place, the highest class here starting asthe lowest class there. This process he saw renew itselfinnumerable times, covering trillions of years, and ever workingtowards refinement and purification. These spheres he pictured asconcentric rings round the world, but as he admits that neithertime nor space define themselves clearly in his visions, we neednot take their geography in too literal a sense. The object oflife was to qualify for advancement in this tremendous scheme,and the best method of human advancement was to get away fromsin—not only the sins which are usually recognized, butalso those sins of bigotry, narrowness and hardness, which arevery especially blemishes not of the ephemeral flesh but of thepermanent spirit. For this purpose the return to simple life,simple beliefs, and primitive brotherhood was essential. Money,alcohol, lust, violence and priestcraft—in its narrowsense—were the chief impediments to racial progress.

It must be admitted that Davis, so far as one can follow hislife, lived up to his own professions. He was very humble-minded,and yet he was of the stuff that saints are made of. Hisautobiography extends only to 1857, so that he was little overthirty when he published it, but it gives a very complete andsometimes an involuntary insight into the man. He was very poor,but he was just and charitable. He was very earnest, and yet hewas patient in argument and gentle under contradiction. The worstmotives were imputed to him, and he records them with a tolerantsmile. He gives a full account of his first two marriages, whichwere as unusual as everything else about him, but which reflectnothing but credit upon him. From the date at which "The MagicStaff" finishes he seems to have carried on the same life ofalternate writing and lecturing, winning more and more the ear ofthe world, until he died in the year 1910 at the age of eighty-four. The last years of his life he spent as keeper of some smallbook-store in Boston. The fact that his "Harmonial Philosophy"has now passed through some forty editions in the United Statesis a proof that the seed which he scattered so assiduously hasnot all fallen upon barren ground.

What is of importance to us is the part played by Davis at thecommencement of the spiritual revelation. He began to prepare theground before that revelation occurred. He was clearly destinedto be closely associated with it, for he was aware of thematerial demonstration at Hydesville upon the very day when itoccurred. From his notes there is quoted the sentence, under thevital date of March 31, 1848: "About daylight this morning a warmbreathing passed over my face and I heard a voice, tender andstrong, saying, 'Brother, the good work has begun—behold, aliving demonstration is born.' I was left wondering what could bemeant by such a message." It was the beginning of the mightymovement in which he was to act as prophet. His own powers werethemselves supernormal upon the mental side, just as the physicalsigns were upon the material side. Each supplemented the other.He was, up to the limit of his capacity, the soul of themovement, the one brain which had a clear vision of the messagewhich was heralded in so novel and strange a way. No man can takethe whole message, for it is infinite, and rises ever higher aswe come into contact with higher beings, but Davis interpreted itso well for his day and generation that little can be added evennow to his conception.

He had advanced one step beyond Swedenborg, though he had notSwedenborg's mental equipment with which to marshal his results.Swedenborg had seen a heaven and hell, even as Davis saw it andhas described it with fuller detail. Swedenborg did not, however,get a clear vision of the position of the dead and the truenature of the spirit world with the possibility of return as itwas revealed to the American seer. This knowledge came slowly toDavis. His strange interviews with what he described as"materialized spirits" were exceptional things, and he drew nocommon conclusions from them. It was later when he was broughtinto contact with actual spiritual phenomena that he was able tosee the full meaning of them. This contact was not established atRochester, but rather at Stratford in Connecticut, where Daviswas a witness of the Poltergeist phenomena which broke out in thehousehold of a clergyman, Dr. Phelps, in the early months of1850. A study of these led him to write a pamphlet, "ThePhilosophy of Spiritual Intercourse," expanded afterwards to abook which contains much which the world has not yet mastered.Some of it, in its wise restraint, may also be commended to someSpiritualists. "Spiritualism is useful as a living demonstrationof a future existence," he says. "Spirits have aided me manytimes, but they do not control either my person or my reason.They can and do perform kindly offices for those on earth. Butbenefits can only be secured on the condition that we allow themto become our teachers and not our masters—that we acceptthem as companions, not as gods to be worshipped." Wisewords—and a modern restatement of the vital remark of SaintPaul that the prophet must not be subject to his own gifts.

In order to explain adequately the life of Davis one has toascend to supernormal conditions. But even then there arealternative explanations. When one considers the followingundeniable facts:

1. That he claims to have seen and heard the materialized formof Swedenborg before he knew anything of his teachings.

2. That something possessed this ignorant youth, whichgave him great knowledge.

3. That this knowledge took the same broad sweeping universallines which were characteristic of Swedenborg.

4. But that they went one step farther, having added just thatknowledge of spirit power which Swedenborg may have attainedafter his death.

Considering these four points, then, is it not a feasiblehypothesis that the power which controlled Davis was actuallySwedenborg? It would be well if the estimable but very narrow andlimited New Church took such possibilities into account. Butwhether Davis stood alone, or whether he was the reflection ofone greater than himself, the fact remains that he was a miracleman, the inspired, learned, uneducated apostle of the newdispensation. So permanent has been his influence that the well-known artist and critic Mr. E. Wake Cook, in his remarkable book"Retrogression in Art,"* harks back to Davis's teaching as theone modern influence which could recast the world. Davis left hismark deep upon Spiritualism. "Summerland," for example, as a namefor the modern Paradise, and the whole system of Lyceum schoolswith their ingenious organization, are of his devising. As Mr.Baseden Butt has remarked, "Even to-day the full and final extentof his influence is extremely difficult, if not impossible, toassess."

* Hutchinson's, 1924. OccultReview, February, 1925.


IV. — THE HYDESVILLEEPISODE


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (8)

The Hydesville Cottage


WE have now traced various disconnected andirregular uprushes of psychic force in the cases which have beenset forth, and we come at last to the particular episode whichwas really on a lower level than those which had gone before, butwhich occurred within the ken of a practical people who foundmeans to explore it thoroughly and to introduce reason and systeminto what had been a mere object of aimless wonder. It is truethat the circ*mstances were lowly, the actors humble, the placeremote, and the communication sordid, being based on no highermotive than revenge. When, however, in the everyday affairs ofthis world one wishes to test whether a telegraphic wire is inoperation, one notices whether a message comes through, and thehigh or low nature of that message is quite a secondaryconsideration. It is said that the first message which actuallycame through the Transatlantic cable was a commonplace inquiryfrom the testing engineer. None the less, kings and presidentshave used it since. So it is that the humble spirit of themurdered peddler of Hydesville may have opened a gap into whichthe angels have thronged. There is good and bad and all that isintermediate on the Other Side as on this side of the veil. Thecompany you attract depends upon yourself and your ownmotives.

Hydesville is a typical little hamlet of New York State, witha primitive population which was, no doubt, half-educated, butwas probably, like the rest of those small American centres oflife, more detached from prejudice and more receptive of newideas than any other set of people at that time. This particularvillage, situated about twenty miles from the rising town ofRochester, consisted of a cluster of wooden houses of a veryhumble type. It was in one of these, a residence which wouldcertainly not pass the requirements of a British district councilsurveyor, that there began this development which is already, inthe opinion of many, by far the most important thing that Americahas given to the commonweal of the world. It was inhabited by adecent farmer family of the name of Fox—a name which, by acurious coincidence, has already been registered in religioushistory as that of the apostle of the Quakers. Besides the fatherand mother, who were Methodists in religion, there were twochildren resident in the house at the time when themanifestations reached such a point of intensity that theyattracted general attention. These children were the daughters– Margaret, aged fourteen, and Kate, aged eleven. Therewere several other children out in the world, of whom only one,Leah, who was teaching music in Rochester, need come into thisnarrative.

The little house had already established a somewhat uncannyreputation. The evidence to this effect was collected andpublished very shortly after the event, and seems to be asreliable as such evidence can be. In view of the extremeimportance of everything which bears upon the matter, someextracts from these depositions must be inserted, but to avoiddislocation of the narrative the evidence upon this point hasbeen relegated to the Appendix. We will therefore pass at once tothe time of the tenancy of the Fox family, who took over thehouse on December 11, 1847. It was not until the next year thatthe sounds heard by the previous tenants began once more. Thesesounds consisted of rapping noises. A rap would seem to be thenot unnatural sound to be produced by outside visitors when theywished to notify their presence at the door of human life anddesired that door to be opened for them. Just such raps (allunknown to these unread farmers) had occurred in England in 1661at the house of Mr. Mompesson, at Tedworth.* Raps, too, arerecorded by Melancthon as having occurred at Oppenheim, inGermany, in 1520, and raps were heard at the Epworth Vicarage in1716. Here they were once more, and at last they were destined tohave the closed door open.

* Saducismus Triumphatus, by Rev.Joseph Glanvil.

The noises do not seem to have incommoded the Fox family untilthe middle of March, 1848. From that date onwards theycontinually increased in intensity. Sometimes they were a mereknocking; at other times they sounded like the movement offurniture. The children were so alarmed that they refused tosleep apart and were taken into the bedroom of their parents. Sovibrant were the sounds that the beds thrilled and shook. Everypossible search was made, the husband waiting on one side of thedoor and the wife on the other, but the rappings still continued.It was soon noticed that daylight was inimical to the phenomena,and this naturally strengthened the idea of trickery, but everypossible solution was tested and failed. Finally, upon the nightof March 31 there was a very loud and continued outbreak ofinexplicable sounds. It was on this night that one of the greatpoints of psychic evolution was reached, for it was then thatyoung Kate Fox challenged the unseen power to repeat the snaps ofher fingers. That rude room, with its earnest, expectant, half-clad occupants with eager upturned faces, its circle ofcandlelight, and its heavy shadows lurking in the corners, mightwell be made the subject of a great historical painting. Searchall the palaces and chancelleries of 1848, and where will youfind a chamber which has made its place in history as secure asthis little bedroom of a shack?

The child's challenge, though given with flippant words, wasinstantly answered. Every snap was echoed by a knock. Howeverhumble the operator at either end, the spiritual telegraph was atlast working, and it was left to the patience and moralearnestness of the human race to determine how high might be theuses to which it was put in the future. Unexplained forces weremany in the world, but here was a force claiming to haveindependent intelligence at the back of it. That was the supremesign of a new departure.

Mrs. Fox was amazed at this development, and at the furtherdiscovery that the force could apparently see as well as hear,for when Kate snapped her fingers without sound the rap stillresponded. The mother asked a series of questions, the answers towhich, given in numerals, showed a greater knowledge of her ownaffairs than she herself possessed, for the raps insisted thatshe had had seven children, whereas she protested that she hadborne only six, until one who had died early came back to hermind. A neighbour, Mrs. Redfield, was called in, and heramusem*nt was changed to wonder, and finally to awe, as she alsolistened to correct answers to intimate questions.

The neighbours came flocking in as some rumours of thesewonders got about, and the two children were carried off by oneof them, while Mrs. Fox went to spend the night at Mrs.Redfield's. In their absence the phenomena went on exactly thesame as before, which disposes once for all of those theories ofcracking toes and dislocating knees which have been so frequentlyput forward by people unaware of the true facts.

Having formed a sort of informal committee of investigation,the crowd, in shrewd Yankee fashion, spent a large part of thenight of March 31 in playing question and answer with the unseenintelligence. According to its own account he was a spirit; hehad been injured in that house; he rapped out the name of aformer occupant who had injured him; he was thirty-one years oldat the time of death (which was five years before); he had beenmurdered for money; he had been buried in the cellar ten feetdeep. On descending to the cellar, dull, heavy thumps, comingapparently from under the earth, broke out when the investigatorstood at the centre. There was no sound at other times. That,then, was the place of burial! It was a neighbour named Dueslerwho, first of all modern men, called over the alphabet and gotanswers by raps on the letters. In this way the name of the deadman was obtained – Charles B. Rosma. The idea of connectedmessages was not developed until four months later, when IsaacPost, a Quaker, of Rochester, was the pioneer. These, in verybrief outline, were the events of March 31, which were continuedand confirmed upon the succeeding night, when not fewer than acouple of hundred people had assembled round the house. UponApril 2 it was observed that the raps came in the day as well asat night.

Such is a synopsis of the events of the night of March 31,1848, but as it was the small root out of which sprang so great atree, and as this whole volume may be said to be a monument toits memory, it would seem fitting that the story should be givenin the very words of the two original adult witnesses. Theirevidence was taken within four days of the occurrence, and formspart of that admirable piece of psychic research upon the part ofthe local committee which will be described and commented uponlater. Mrs. Fox deposed:

On the night of the first disturbance we all got up, lighted acandle and searched the entire house, the noises continuingduring the time, and being heard near the same place. Althoughnot very loud, it produced a jar of the bedsteads and chairs thatcould be felt when we were in bed. It was a tremulous motion,more than a sudden jar. We could feel the jar when standing onthe floor. It continued on this night until we slept. I did notsleep until about twelve o'clock. On March 30th we were disturbedall night. The noises were heard in all parts of the house. Myhusband stationed himself outside of the door while I stoodinside, and the knocks came on the door between us. We heardfootsteps in the pantry, and walking downstairs; we could notrest, and I then concluded that the house must be haunted by someunhappy restless spirit. I had often heard of such things, buthad never witnessed anything of the kind that I could not accountfor before.

On Friday night, March 31st, 1848, we concluded to go to bedearly and not permit ourselves to be disturbed by the noises, buttry and get a night's rest. My husband was here on all theseoccasions, heard the noises, and helped search. It was very earlywhen we went to bed on this night – hardly dark. I had beenso broken of my rest I was almost sick. My husband had not goneto bed when we first heard the noise on this evening. I had justlain down. It commenced as usual. I knew it from all other noisesI had ever heard before. The children, who slept in the other bedin the room, heard the rapping, and tried to make similar soundsby snapping their fingers.

My youngest child, Cathie, said: "Mr. Splitfoot, do as I do,"clapping her hands. The sound instantly followed her with thesame number of raps. When she stopped, the sound ceased for ashort time. Then Margaretta said, in sport, "Now, do just as Ido. Count one, two, three, four," striking one hand against theother at the same time; and the raps came as before. She wasafraid to repeat them. Then Cathie said in her childishsimplicity, "Oh, mother, I know what it is. To-morrow is April-fool day, and it's somebody trying to fool us."

I then thought I could put a test that no one in the placecould answer. I asked the noise to rap my different children'sages, successively. Instantly, each one of my children's ages wasgiven correctly, pausing between them sufficiently long toindividualize them until the seventh, at which a longer pause wasmade, and then three more emphatic raps were given, correspondingto the age of the little one that died, which was my youngestchild.

I then asked: "Is this a human being that answers my questionsso correctly?" There was no rap. I asked: "Is it a spirit? If itis, make two raps." Two sounds were given as soon as the requestwas made. I then said "If it was an injured spirit, make tworaps," which were instantly made, causing the house to tremble. Iasked: "Were you injured in this house?" The answer was given asbefore. "Is the person living that injured you?"

Answered by raps in the same manner. I ascertained by the samemethod that it was a man, aged thirty-one years, that he had beenmurdered in this house, and his remains were buried in thecellar; that his family consisted of a wife and five children,two sons and three daughters, all living at the time of hisdeath, but that his wife had since died. I asked: "Will youcontinue to rap if I call my neighbours that they may hear ittoo?" The raps were loud in the affirmative.

My husband went and called in Mrs. Redfield, our nearestneighbour. She is a very candid woman. The girls were sitting upin bed clinging to each other, and trembling with terror. I thinkI was as calm as I am now. Mrs. Redfield came immediately (thiswas about half-past seven), thinking she would have a laugh atthe children. But when she saw them pale with fright, and nearlyspeechless, she was amazed, and believed there was something moreserious than she had supposed. I asked a few questions for her,and was answered as before. He told her age exactly. She thencalled her husband, and the same questions were asked andanswered.

Then Mr. Redfield called in Mr. Duesler and wife, and severalothers. Mr. Duesler then called in Mr. and Mrs. Hyde, also Mr.and Mrs. Jewell. Mr. Duesler asked many questions, and receivedanswers. I then named all the neighbours I could think of, andasked if any of them had injured him, and received no answer. Mr.Duesler then asked questions and received answers. He asked:"Were you murdered?" Raps affirmative. "Can your murderer bebrought to justice?" No sound. "Can he be punished by the law?"No answer. He then said: "If your murderer cannot be punished bythe law, manifest it by raps," and the raps were made clearly anddistinctly. In the same way, Mr. Duesler ascertained that he wasmurdered in the east bedroom about five years ago and that themurder was committed by a Mr. on a Tuesday night at twelveo'clock; that he was murdered by having his throat cut with abutcher knife; that the body was taken down to the cellar; thatit was not buried until the next night; that it was taken throughthe buttery, down the stairway, and that it was buried ten feetbelow the surface of the ground. It was also ascertained that hewas murdered for his money, by raps affirmative.

"How much was it—one hundred?" No rap. "Was it twohundred?" etc., and when he mentioned five hundred the rapsreplied in the affirmative.

Many called in who were fishing in the creek, and all heardthe same questions and answers. Many remained in the house allnight. I and my children left the house.

My husband remained in the house with Mr. Redfield all night.On the next Saturday the house was filled to overflowing. Therewere no sounds heard during day, but they commenced again in theevening. It was said that there were over three hundred personspresent at the time. On Sunday morning the noises were heardthroughout the day by all who came to the house.

On Saturday night, April 1st, they commenced digging in thecellar; they dug until they carne to water, and then gave it up.The noise was not heard on Sunday evening nor during the night.Stephen B. Smith and wife (my daughter Marie), and my son DavidS. Fox and wife, slept in the room this night.

I have heard nothing since that time until yesterday. In theforenoon of yesterday there were several questions answered inthe usual way by rapping. I have heard the noise several timesto-day.

I am not a believer in haunted houses or supernaturalappearances. I am very sorry that there has been so muchexcitement about it. It has been a great deal of trouble to us.It was our misfortune to live here at this time; but I am willingand anxious that the truth should be known, and that a truestatement should be made. I cannot account for these noises; allthat I know is that they have been heard repeatedly, as I havestated. I have heard this rapping again this (Tuesday) morning,April 4. My children also heard it.

I certify that the foregoing statement has been read to me,and that the same is true; and that I should be willing to takemy oath that it is so, if necessary."

(Signed) MARGARET FOX.

April 11, 1848.


Statement by John D. Fox

I have heard the above statement of my wife, Margaret Fox,read, and hereby certify that the same is true in all itsparticulars. I heard the same rappings which she has spoken of,in answer to the questions, as stated by her. There have been agreat many questions besides those asked, and answered in thesame way. Some have been asked a great many times, and they havealways received the same answers. There has never been anycontradiction whatever.

I do not know of any way to account for those noises, as beingcaused by any natural means. We have searched every nook andcorner in and about the house, at different times, to ascertain,if possible, whether anything or anybody was secreted there thatcould make the noise, and have not been able to find anythingwhich would or could explain the mystery. It has caused a greatdeal of trouble and anxiety.

Hundreds have visited the house, so that it is impossible forus to attend to our daily occupations; and I hope that, whethercaused by natural or supernatural means, it will be ascertainedsoon. The digging in the cellar will be resumed as soon as thewater settles, and then it can be ascertained whether there areany indications of a body ever having been buried there; and ifthere are, I shall have no doubt but that it is of supernaturalorigin.

(Signed) JOHN D. FOX.

April 11, 1848


The neighbours had formed themselves into a committee ofinvestigation, which for sanity and efficiency might be a lessonto many subsequent re searchers. They did not begin by imposingtheir own conditions, but they started without prejudice torecord the facts exactly as they found them. Not only did theycollect and record the impressions of everyone concerned, butthey actually had the evidence in printed form within a month ofthe occurrence. The author has in vain attempted to get anoriginal copy of the pamphlet, "A Report of the Mysterious Noisesheard in the House of Mr. John D. Fox," published at Canandaigua,New York, but he has been presented with a facsimile of theoriginal, and it is his considered opinion that the fact of humansurvival and power of communication was definitely proved to anymind capable of weighing evidence from the day of the appearanceof that document. 71

The statement made by Mr. Duesler, chief of the committee,gives important testimony to the occurrence of the noises andjars in the absence of the Fox girls from the house, and disposesonce and for ever of all suspicion of their complicity in theseevents. Mrs. Fox, as we have seen, referring to the night ofFriday, March 31, said: "I and my children left the house." Partof Mr. Duesler's statement reads:

I live within a few rods of the house in whichthese sounds have been heard. The first I heard anything aboutthem was a week ago last Friday evening (March 31st). Mrs.Redfield came over to my house to get my wife to go over to Mrs.Fox's. Mrs. R. appeared to be very much agitated. My wife wantedme to go over with them, and I accordingly went . This was aboutnine o'clock in the evening. There were some twelve or fourteenpersons present when I left them. Some were so frightened thatthey did not want to go into the room.

I went into the room and sat down on the bed.Mr. Fox asked a question and I heard the rapping, which they hadspoken of, distinctly. I felt the bedstead jar when the soundswere produced.

The Hon. Robert Dale Owen,* a member of the United StatesCongress, and formerly American Minister to Naples, supplies afew additional particulars in his narrative, written afterconversations with Mrs. Fox and her daughters, Margaret andCatharine. Describing the night of March 31, 1848, he says("Footfalls, etc.," p. 287):

* Author of Footfalls On The Boundary OfAnother World (1860), and The Debatable Land(1871).

The parents had had the children's beds removedinto their bedroom, and strictly enjoined them not to talk ofnoises even if they heard them. But scarcely had the mother seenthem safely in bed and was retiring to rest herself when thechildren cried out, "Here they are again!" The mother chid them,and lay down. Thereupon the noises became louder and morestartling. The children sat up in bed. Mrs. Fox called in herhusband. The night being windy, it suggested itself to him thatit might be the rattling of the sashes. He tried several, shakingthem to see if they were loose. Kate, the youngest girl, happenedto remark that as often as her father shook a window-sash thenoises seemed to reply. Being a lively child, and in a measureaccustomed to what was going on, she turned to where the noisewas, snapped her fingers, and called out, "Here, old Splitfoot,do as I do." The knocking instantly responded. That wasthe very commencement. Who can tell where the end will be? . Mr.Mompesson, in bed with his little daughter (about Kate's age)whom the sound seemed chiefly to follow, "observed that it wouldexactly answer, in drumming, anything that was beaten or calledfor." But his curiosity led him no further. Not so Kate Fox. Shetried, by silently bringing together her thumb and forefinger,whether she could still obtain a response. Yes! It could see,then, as well as hear! She called her mother. "Only look,mother!" she said, bringing together her finger and thumb asbefore. And as often as she repeated the noiseless motion, justso often responded the raps.

In the summer of 1848 Mr. David Fox, with the assistance ofMr. Henry Bush, Mr. Lyman Granger, of Rochester, and others,resumed digging in the cellar. At a depth of five feet they founda plank, and further digging disclosed charcoal and quicklime,and finally human hair and bones, which were pronounced by expertmedical testimony to belong to a human skeleton. It was not untilfifty-six years later that a further discovery was made whichproved beyond all doubt that someone had really been buried inthe cellar of the Fox house.

This statement appeared in The Boston Journal (a non-Spiritualistic paper) of November 23, 1904, and runs asfollows:

Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 22nd, 1904: The skeletonof the man supposed to have caused the rappings first heard bythe Fox sisters in 1848 has been found in the walls of the houseoccupied by the sisters, and clears them from the only shadow ofdoubt held concerning their sincerity in the discovery of spiritcommunication.

The Fox sisters declared they learned tocommunicate with the spirit of a man, and that he told them hehad been murdered and buried in the cellar. Repeated excavationsfailed to locate the body and thus give proof positive of theirstory.

The discovery was made by school-childrenplaying in the cellar of the building in Hydesville known as the"Spook House," where the Fox sisters heard the wonderfulrappings. William H. Hyde, a reputable citizen of Clyde, who ownsthe house, made an investigation and found an almost entire humanskeleton between the earth and crumbling cellar walls,undoubtedly that of the wandering peddler who, it was claimed,was murdered in the east room of the house, and whose body washidden in the cellar.

Mr. Hyde has notified relatives of the Foxsisters, and the notice of the discovery will be sent to theNational Order of Spiritualists, many of whom remember havingmade pilgrimage to the "Spook House," as it is commonly called.The finding of the bones practically corroborates the swornstatement made by Margaret Fox, April 11, 1848.

There was discovered a peddler's tin box as well as the bones,and this box is now preserved at Lilydale, the central countryhead-quarters of the American Spiritualists, to which also theold Hydesville house has been transported.

These discoveries settle the question for ever and proveconclusively that there was a crime committed in the house, andthat this crime was indicated by psychic means. When one examinesthe result of the two diggings one can reconstruct thecirc*mstances. It is clear that in the first instance the bodywas buried with quicklime in the centre of the cellar. Later thecriminal was alarmed by the fact that this place was too open tosuspicion and he had dug up the body, or the main part of it, andreburied it under the wall where it would be more out of the way.The work had been done so hurriedly, however, or in suchimperfect light, that some clear traces were left, as has beenseen, of the original grave.

Was there independent evidence of such a crime? In order tofind it we have to turn to the deposition of Lucretia Pulver, whoserved as help during the tenancy of Mr. and Mrs. Bell, whooccupied the house four years before. She describes how a peddlercame to the house and how he stayed the night there with hiswares. Her employers told her that she might go home thatnight.

I wanted to buy some things off the peddler buthad no money with me, and he said he would call at our house nextmorning and sell them to me. I never saw him after this. Aboutthree days after this they sent for me to come back. Iaccordingly came back .

I should think this peddler of whom I havespoken was about thirty years of age. I heard him conversing withMrs. Bell about his family. Mrs. Bell told me that he was an oldacquaintance of theirs—that she had seen him several timesbefore. One evening, about a week after this, Mrs. Bell sent medown to the cellar to shut the outer door. In going across thecellar I fell down near the centre of it. It appeared to beuneven and loose in that part. After I got upstairs, Mrs. Bellasked me what I screamed for and I told her. She laughed at mebeing frightened, and said it was only where the rats had been atwork in the ground. A few days after this, Mr. Bell carried a lotof dirt into the cellar just at night and was at work there sometime. Mrs. Bell told me that he was filling up the rat-holes.

A short time after this Mrs. Bell gave me athimble which she said she had bought of this peddler. Aboutthree months after this I visited her and she said the peddlerhad been there again and she showed me another thimble which shesaid she had bought from him. She showed me some other thingswhich she said she had bought from him.

It is worth noting that a Mrs. Lape in 1847 had claimed tohave actually seen an apparition in the house, and thatthis vision was of a middle-sized man who wore grey pants, ablack frock-coat and black cap. Lucretia Pulver deposed that thepeddler in life wore a black frock-coat and light-colouredpants.

On the other hand, it is only fair to add that the Mr. Bellwho occupied the house at that time was not a man of notoriouscharacter, and one would willingly concede that an accusationfounded entirely upon psychic evidence would be an unfair andintolerable thing. It is very different, however, when the proofsof a crime have actually been discovered, and the evidence thencentres merely upon which tenant was in possession at thatparticular time. The deposition of Lucretia Pulver assumes vitalimportance in its bearing upon this matter.

There are one or two points about the case which would beardiscussion. One is that a man with so remarkable a name asCharles B. Rosma should never have been traced, considering allthe publicity which the case acquired. This would certainly atthe time have appeared a formidable objection, but with ourfuller knowledge we appreciate how very difficult it is to getnames correctly across. A name apparently is a purelyconventional thing, and as such very different from an idea.Every practising Spiritualist has received messages which werecorrect coupled with names which were mistaken. It is possiblethat the real name was Ross, or possibly Rosmer, and that thiserror prevented identification. Again, it is curious that heshould not have known that his body had been moved from thecentre of the cellar to the wall, where it was eventually found.We can only record the fact without attempting to explain it.

Again, granting that the young girls were the mediums and thatthe power was drawn from them, how came the phenomena when theyhad actually been removed from the house? To this one can onlyanswer that though the future was to show that the power didactually emanate from these girls, none the less it seemed tohave permeated the house and to have been at the disposal of themanifesting power for a time at least when the girls were notpresent.

The Fox family were seriously troubled by thedisturbances—Mrs. Fox's hair turned white in aweek—and as it became apparent that these were associatedwith the two young daughters, these were sent from home. But inthe house of her brother, David Fox, where Margaret went, and inthat of her sister Leah, whose married name was Mrs. Fish, atRochester, where Catharine was staying, the same sounds wereheard. Every effort was made to conceal these manifestations fromthe public, but they soon became known. Mrs. Fish, who was ateacher of music, was unable to continue her profession, andhundreds of people flocked to her house to witness the newmarvels. It should be stated that either this power wascontagious, or else it was descending upon many individualsindependently from some common source. Thus Mrs. Leah Fish, theelder sister, received it, though in a less degree than Kate orMargaret. But it was no longer confined to the Fox family. It waslike some psychic cloud descending from on high and showingitself on those persons who were susceptible. Similar sounds wereheard in the home of Rev. A. H. Jervis, a Methodist minister,living in Rochester. Strong physical phenomena also began in thefamily of Deacon Hale, of Greece, a town close to Rochester. Alittle later Mrs. Sarah A. Tamlin and Mrs. Benedict, of Auburn,developed remarkable mediumship. Mr. Capron, the first historianof the movement, describes Mrs. Tamlin as one of the mostreliable mediums he had ever met, and says that though the soundsoccurring in her presence were not so loud as those with the Foxfamily, the messages were equally trustworthy.

It speedily became evident, then, that these unseen forceswere no longer attached to any building, but that they hadtransferred themselves to the girls. In vain the family prayedwith their Methodist friends that relief would come. In vain alsowere exorcisms performed by the clergy of various creeds. Beyondjoining with loud raps in the Amens, the unseen presences took nonotice of these religious exercises.

The danger of blindly following alleged spirit guidance wasclearly shown some months later in the neighbouring town ofRochester, where a man disappeared under suspiciouscirc*mstances. An enthusiastic Spiritualist had messages by rapswhich announced a murder. The canal was dragged and the wife ofthe missing man was actually ordered to enter the canal, whichnearly cost her her life. Some months later the absenteereturned, having fled to Canada to avoid a writ for debt. This,as may well be imagined, was a blow to the young cult. The publicdid not then understand what even now is so little understood,that death causes no change in the human spirit, that mischievousand humorous entities abound, and that the inquirer must use hisown instincts and his own common sense at every turn. "Try thespirits that ye may know them." In the same year, in the samedistrict, the truth of this new philosophy upon the one side, andits limitations and dangers on the other, were most clearly setforth. These dangers are with us still. The silly man, thearrogant inflated man, the co*cksure man, is always a safe butt.Every observer has had some trick played upon him. The author hashimself had his faith sorely shaken by deception until somecompensating proof has come along to assure him that it was onlya lesson which he had received, and that it was no more fiendishor even remarkable that disembodied intelligences should behoaxers than that the same intelligence inside a human bodyshould find amusem*nt in the same foolish way.

The whole course of the movement had now widened and taken amore important turn. It was no longer a murdered man calling forjustice. The peddler seemed to have been used as a pioneer, andnow that he had found the opening and the method, a myriad ofIntelligences were swarming at his back. Isaac Post hadinstituted the method of spelling by raps, and messages werepouring through. According to these the whole system had beendevised by the contrivance of a band of thinkers and inventorsupon the spirit plane, foremost among whom was Benjamin Franklin,whose eager mind and electrical knowledge in earth life mightwell qualify him for such a venture. Whether this claim was trueor not, it is a fact that Rosma dropped out of the picture atthis stage, and that the intelligent knockings purported to befrom the deceased friends of those inquirers who were prepared totake a serious interest in the matter and to gather in reverentmood to receive the messages. That they still lived and stillloved was the constant message from the beyond, accompanied bymany material tests, which confirmed the wavering faith of thenew adherents of the movement. When asked for their methods ofworking and the laws which governed them, the answers were fromthe beginning exactly what they are now: that it was a matterconcerned with human and spirit magnetism; that some who wererichly endowed with this physical property were mediums; thatthis endowment was not necessarily allied to morality orintelligence; and that the condition of harmony was especiallynecessary to secure good results. In seventy odd years we havelearned very little more; and after all these years the primarylaw of harmony is invariably broken at the so-called testséances, the members of which imagine that they have disprovedthe philosophy when they obtain negative or disordered results,whereas they have actually confirmed it.

In one of the early communications the Fox sisters wereassured that "these manifestations would not be confined to them,but would go all over the world." This prophecy was soon in afair way to be fulfilled, for these new powers and furtherdevelopments of them, which included the discerning and hearingof spirits and the movement of objects without contact, appearedin many circles which were independent of the Fox family. In anincredibly short space of time the movement, with manyeccentricities and phases of fanaticism, had swept over theNorthern and Eastern States of the Union, always retaining thatsolid core of actual tangible fact, which might be occasionallysimulated by impostors, but always reasserted itself to theserious investigator who could shake himself free frompreconceived prejudice. Disregarding for the moment these widerdevelopments, let us continue the story of the original circlesat Rochester.

The spirit messages had urged upon the small band of pioneersa public demonstration of their powers in an open meeting atRochester—a proposition which was naturally appalling totwo shy country girls and to their friends. So incensed were thediscarnate Guides by the opposition of their earthly agents thatthey threatened to suspend the whole movement for a generation,and did actually desert them completely for some weeks. At theend of that time communication was restored and the believers,chastened by this interval of thought, put themselvesunreservedly into the hands of the outside forces, promising thatthey would dare all in the cause. It was no light matter. A fewof the clergy, notably the Methodist minister, the Rev. A. H.Jervis, rallied to their aid, but the majority thundered fromtheir pulpits against them, and the snob eagerly joined in thecowardly sport of heretic-baiting. On November 14, 1849, theSpiritualists held their first meeting at the Corinthian Hall,the largest available in Rochester. The audience, to its credit,listened with attention to the exposition of facts from Mr.Capron, of Auburn, the principal speaker. A committee of fiverepresentative citizens was then selected to examine into thematter and to report upon the following evening, when the meetingwould reassemble. So certain was it that this report would beunfavourable that the Rochester Democrat is stated to havehad its leading article prepared, with the headline: "EntireExposure of the Rapping Humbug." The result, however, caused theeditor to hold his hand. The committee reported that the rapswere undoubted facts, though the information was not entirelycorrect, that is, the answers to questions were "not altogetherright nor altogether wrong." They added that these raps came onwalls and doors some distance from the girls, causing a sensiblevibration. "They entirely failed to find any means by which itcould be done."

This report was received with disapproval by the audience, anda second committee from among the dissentients was formed. Thisinvestigation was con ducted in the office of a lawyer. Kate, forsome reason, was away, and only Mrs. Fish and Margaret werepresent. None the less, the sounds continued as before, though aDr. Langworthy was introduced to test the possibility ofventriloquism. The final report was that "the sounds were heard,and their thorough investigation had conclusively shown them tobe produced neither by machinery nor ventriloquism, though whatthe agent is they were unable to determine."

Again the audience turned down the report of their owncommittee, and again a deputation was chosen from among the mostextreme opponents, one of whom vowed that if he could not findout the trick he would throw himself over the falls of theGenesee River. Their examination was thorough to the length ofbrutality, and a committee of ladies was associated with it. Thelatter stripped the frightened girls, who wept bitterly undertheir afflictions. Their dresses were then tied tightly roundtheir ankles and they were placed upon glass and otherinsulators. The committee was forced to report, "when they werestanding on pillows with a handkerchief tied round the bottom oftheir dresses, tight to the ankles, we all heard the rapping onthe wall and floor distinctly." The committee further testifiedthat their questions, some of them mental, had been answeredcorrectly.

So long as the public looked upon the movement as a sort ofjoke it was prepared to be tolerantly amused, but when thesesuccessive reports put the matter in a more serious light, a waveof blackguardism swept over the town, which reached such a pitchthat Mr. Willetts, a gallant Quaker, was compelled at the fourthpublic meeting to declare that "the mob of ruffians who designedto lynch the girls should do so, if they attempted it, over hisdead body." There was a disgraceful riot, the young women weresmuggled out by a back door, and reason and justice were for themoment clouded over by force and folly. Then, as now, the mindsof the average men of the world were so crammed with the thingsthat do not matter that they had no space for the things that domatter. But Fate is never in a hurry, and the movement went on.Many accepted the findings of the successive committees as beingfinal, and indeed, it is difficult to see how the alleged factscould have been more severely tested. At the same time, thisstrong, new, fermenting wine began to burst some of the oldbottles into which it was poured to the excusable disgust of thepublic.

The many discreet, serious and religious circles were for aseason almost obscured by swollen-headed ranters who imaginedthemselves to be in touch with every high entity from theApostles downwards, some even claiming the direct afflatus of theHoly Ghost and emitting messages which were only saved from beingblasphemous by their crudity and absurdity. One community ofthese fanatics, who called themselves the Apostolic Circle ofMountain Cove, particularly distinguished themselves by theirextreme claims and furnished good material for the enemies of thenew dispensation. The great body of Spiritualists turned away indisapproval from such exaggerations, but were unable to preventthem. Many well-attested supernormal phenomena came to supportthe failing spirits of those who were distressed by the soexcesses of the fanatics. On one occasion, which is particularlyconvincing and well-reported, two bodies of investigators inseparate rooms, at Rochester, on February 20, 1850, received thesame message simultaneously from some central force which calleditself Benjamin Franklin. This double message was: "There will begreat changes in the nineteenth century. Things that now lookdark and mysterious to you will be laid plain before your sight.Mysteries are going to be revealed. The world will be enlightened." It must be admitted that, up to now, the prophecy hasbeen only partially fulfilled, and it may at the same time beconceded that, with some startling exceptions, the forecasts ofthe spirit people have not been remarkable for accuracy,especially where the element of time is concerned.

The question has often been asked: "What was the purpose of sostrange a movement at this particular time, granting that it isall that it claims to be?" Governor Tallmadge, a United Statessenator of repute, was one of the early converts to the new cult,and he has left it upon record that he asked this question upontwo separate occasions in two different years from differentmediums. The answer in each case was almost identical. The firstsaid: "It is to draw mankind together in harmony, and to convincesceptics of the immortality of the soul." The second said: "Tounite mankind and to convince sceptical minds of the immortalityof the soul." Surely this is no ignoble ambition and does notjustify those narrow and bitter attacks from ministers and theless progressive of their flocks from which Spiritualists have upto the present day had to suffer. The first half of thedefinition is particularly important, for it is possible that oneof the ultimate results of this movement will be to unitereligion upon a common basis so strong, and, indeed, so self-sufficient, that the quibbles which separate the Churches of to-day will be seen in their true proportions and will be swept awayor disregarded. One could even hope that such a movement mightspread beyond the bounds of Christianity and throw down some ofthe barriers which stand between great sections of the humanrace.

Attempts to expose the phenomena were made from time to time.In February, 1851, Dr. Austin Flint, Dr. Charles A. Lee, and Dr.C. B. Coventry of the University of Buffalo, published astatement [Capron "Modern Spiritualism, etc.," pp. 310-31.]showing to their own satisfaction that the sounds occurring inthe presence of the Fox sisters were caused by the snapping ofknee joints. It called forth a characteristic reply in the Pressfrom Mrs. Fish and Margaret Fox, addressed to the threedoctors:

As we do not feel willing to rest under theimputation of being impostors, we are very willing to undergo aproper and decent examination, provided we can select three maleand three female friends who shall be present on the occasion. Wecan assure the public that there is no one more anxious thanourselves to discover the origin of these mysteriousmanifestations. If they can be explained on "anatomical" or"physiological" principles, it is due to the world that theinvestigation be made, and that the "humbug" be exposed. As thereseems to be much interest manifested by the public on thatsubject, we would suggest that as early an investigation as isconvenient would be acceptable to the undersigned.

Ann L. Fish. Margaretta Fox.

The investigation was held, but the results were negative. Inan appended note to the doctors' report in the New YorkTribune, the editor (Horace Greeley) observes:

The doctors, as has already appeared in ourcolumns, commenced with the assumption that the origin of the"rapping" sounds must be physical, and their primary causethe volition of the ladies aforesaid—in short, that theseladies were "The Rochester impostors." They appear, therefore, inthe above statement, as the prosecutors of an impeachment, andought to have selected other persons as judges and reporters ofthe trial . It is quite probable that we shall have anotherversion of the matter.

Much testimony in support of the Fox sisters was quicklyforthcoming, and the only effect of the professors' "exposure"was to redouble the public interest in the manifestations.

There was also the alleged confession of Mrs. Norman Culver,who deposed, on April 17, 1851, that Catharine Fox had revealedto her the whole secret of how the raps were produced. It was anentire fabrication, and Mr. Capron published a crushing answer,showing that on the date when Catharine Fox was supposed to havemade the confession to Mrs. Culver, she was residing at his houseseventy miles distant.

Mrs. Fox and her three daughters began public sittings in NewYork in the spring of 1850, at Barnum's Hotel, and they attractedmany curious visitors. The Press was almost unanimous indenunciation of them. A brilliant exception to this was found inHorace Greeley, already quoted, who wrote an appreciative articlein his paper under his own initials. A portion of this will befound in the Appendix.

After a return to Rochester, the Fox family made a tour of theWestern States, and then paid a second visit to New York, whenthe same intense public interest was displayed. They had obeyedthe spirits' mandate to proclaim these truths to the world, andthe new era that had been announced was now ushered in. When onereads the detailed accounts of some of these American sittings,and considers the brain power of the sitters, it is amazing tothink that people, blinded by prejudice, should be so credulousas to imagine that it was all the result of deception. At thattime was shown moral courage which has been conspicuously lackingsince the reactionary forces in science and in religion combinedto stifle the new knowledge and to make it dangerous for itsprofessors. Thus in a single sitting in New York in 1850 we findthat there were gathered round the table the Rev. Dr. Griswold,Fenimore Cooper the novelist, Bancroft the historian, Rev. Dr.Hawks, Dr. J. W. Francis, Dr. Marcy, Willis the Quaker poet,Bryant the poet, Bigelow of The Evening Post, and GeneralLyman. All of these were satisfied as to the facts, and theaccount winds up "The manners and bearing of the ladies" (I.E.the three Fox sisters) "are such as to create a prepossession intheir favour." The world since then has dug up much coal andiron; it has erected great structures and it has inventedterrible engines of war, but can we say that it has advanced inspiritual knowledge or reverence for the unseen? Under theguidance of materialism the wrong path has been followed, and itbecomes increasingly clear that the people must return orperish.


V. — THE CAREER OF THE FOXSISTERS


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (9)

Katie Fox-Jencken, Leah Underhill (née Fox),Margaretta Fox-Kane.


FOR the sake of continuity the subsequenthistory of the Fox sisters will now be given after the events atHydesville. It is a remarkable, and to Spiritualists a painful,story, but it bears its own lesson and should be faithfullyrecorded. When men have an honest and whole-hearted aspirationfor truth there is no development which can ever leave themabashed or find no place in their scheme.

For some years the two younger sisters, Kate and Margaret,gave séances at New York and other places, successfully meetingevery test which was applied to them. Horace Greeley, afterwardsa candidate for the United States presidency, was, as alreadyshown, deeply interested in them and convinced of their entirehonesty. He is said to have furnished the funds by which theyounger girl completed her very imperfect education.

During these years of public mediumship, when the girls wereall the rage among those who had no conception of the religioussignificance of this new revelation, and who concerned themselveswith it purely in the hope of worldly advantage, the sistersexposed themselves to the enervating influences of promiscuousséances in a way which no earnest Spiritualist could justify. Thedangers of such practices were not then so clearly realized asnow, nor had it occurred to people that it is unlikely that highspirits would descend to earth in order to advise as to the stateof railway stocks or the issue of love affairs. The ignorance wasuniversal, and there was no wise mentor at the elbow of thesepoor pioneers to point the higher and the safer path. Worst ofall, their jaded energies were renewed by the offer of wine at atime when one at least of them was hardly more than a child. Itis said that there was some family predisposition towardsalcoholism, but even without such a taint their whole procedureand mode of life were rash to the last degree. Against theirmoral character there has never been a breath of suspicion, butthey had taken a road which leads to degeneration of mind andcharacter, though it was many years before the more seriouseffects were manifest.

Some idea of the pressure upon the Fox girls at this time maybe gathered from Mrs. Hardinge Britten's* description from herown observation. She talks of "pausing on the first floor to hearpoor patient Kate Fox, in the midst of a captious, grumblingcrowd of investigators, repeating hour after hour the letters ofthe alphabet, while the no less poor, patient spirits rapped outnames, ages and dates to suit all comers." Can one wonder thatthe girls, with vitality sapped, the beautiful, watchfulinfluence of the mother removed, and harassed by enemies,succumbed to a gradually increasing temptation in the directionof stimulants?

* Autobiography, p. 40.

A remarkably clear light is thrown upon Margaret at thisperiod in that curious booklet, "The Love Letters of Dr. ElishaKane." It was in 1852 that Dr. Kane, afterwards the famous Arcticexplorer, met Margaret Fox, who was a beautiful and attractivegirl. To her Kane wrote those love letters which record one ofthe most curious courtships in literature. Elisha Kane, as hisfirst name might imply, was a man of Puritan extraction, andPuritans, with their belief that the Bible represents theabsolutely final word in spiritual inspiration and that theyunderstand what that last word means, are instinctivelyantagonistic to a new cult which professes to show that newsources and new interpretations are still available.

He was also a doctor of medicine, and the medical professionis at the same time the most noble and the most cynicallyincredulous in the world. From the first Kane made up his mindthat the young girl was involved in fraud, and formed the theorythat her elder sister Leah was, for purposes of gain, exploitingthe fraud. The fact that Leah shortly afterwards married awealthy man named Underhill, a Wall Street insurance magnate,does not appear to have modified Kane's views as to her greed forillicit earnings. The doctor formed a close friendship withMargaret, put her under his own aunt for purposes of educationwhilst he was away in the Arctic, and finally married her underthe curious Gretna Green kind of marriage law which seems to haveprevailed at the time. Shortly afterwards he died (in 1857), andthe widow, now calling herself Mrs. Fox-Kane, forswore allphenomena for a time, and was received into the Roman CatholicChurch.

In these letters Kane continually reproaches Margaret withliving in deceit and hypocrisy. We have very few of her letters,so that we do not know how far she defended herself. The compilerof the book, though a non-Spiritualist, says: "Poor girl, withher simplicity, ingenuousness and timidity, she could not, hadshe been so inclined, have practised the slightest deception withany chance of success." This testimony is valuable, as the writerwas clearly intimately acquainted with everyone concerned. Kanehimself, writing to the younger sister Kate, says: "Take myadvice and never talk of the spirits either to friends orstrangers. You know that with all my intimacy with Maggie after awhole month's trial I could make nothing of them. Therefore theyare a great mystery."

Considering their close relations, and that Margaret clearlygave Kane every demonstration of her powers, it is inconceivablethat a trained medical man would have to admit after a month thathe could make nothing of it, if it were indeed a mere cracking ofa joint. One can find no evidence for fraud in these letters, butone does find ample proof that these two young girls, Margaretand Kate, had not the least idea of the religious implicationsinvolved in these powers, or of the grave responsibilities ofmediumship, and that they misused their gift in the direction ofgiving worldly advice, receiving promiscuous sitters, andanswering comic or frivolous questions. If in such circ*mstancesboth their powers and their character were to deteriorate, itwould not surprise any experienced Spiritualist. They deserved nobetter, though their age and ignorance furnished an excuse.

To realize their position one has to remember that they werelittle more than children, poorly educated, and quite ignorant ofthe philosophy of the subject. When a man like Dr. Kane assuredMargaret that it was very wrong, he was only saying what wasdinned into her ears from every quarter, including half thepulpits of New York. Probably she had an uneasy feeling that itwas wrong, without in the least knowing why, and this may accountfor the fact that she does not seem to remonstrate with him forhis suspicions. Indeed, we may admit that au fond Kane wasright, and that the proceedings were in some ways unjustifiable.At that time they were very unvenal themselves, and had they usedtheir gift, as D.D. Home used his, with no relation to worldlythings, and for the purpose only of proving immortality andconsoling the afflicted, then, indeed, they would have been abovecriticism. He was wrong in doubting their gift, but right inlooking askance at some examples of their use of it.

In some ways Kane's position is hopelessly illogical. He wason most intimate and affectionate terms with the mother and thetwo girls, although if words have any meaning he thought them tobe swindlers living on the credulity of the public. "Kiss Katiefor me," he says, and he continually sends love to the mother.Already, young as they were, he had a glimpse of the alcoholicdanger to which they were exposed by late hours and promiscuouscompany. "Tell Katie to drink no champagne, and do you follow thesame advice," said he. It was sound counsel, and it would havebeen well for themselves and for the movement if they had bothfollowed it; but again we must remember their inexperienced youthand the constant temptations.

Kane was a curious blend of the hero and the prig. Spirit-rapping, unfortified by any of the religious or scientificsanctions which came later, was a low-down thing, a superstitionof the illiterate, and was he, a man of repute, to marry aspirit-rapper? He vacillated over it in an extraordinary way,beginning a letter with claims to be her brother, and ending byreminding her of the warmth of his kisses. "Now that you havegiven me your heart, I will be a brother to you," he says. He hada vein of real superstition running through him which was farbelow the credulity which he ascribed to others. He frequentlyalludes to the fact that by raising his right hand he had powersof divination and that he had learned it "from a conjurer in theIndies." Occasionally he is a snob as well as a prig. "At thevery dinner-table of the President I thought of you"; and again:"You could never lift yourself up to my thoughts and my objects.I could never bring myself down to yours." As a matter of fact,the few extracts given from her letters show an intelligent andsympathetic mind. On at least one occasion we find Kanesuggesting deceit to her, and she combating the idea.

There are four fixed points which can be established by theletters:

1. That Kane thought in a vague way that there was trickery;2. That in the years of their close intimacy she never admittedit; 3. That he could not even suggest in what the trickery lay;4. That she did use her powers in a way which seriousSpiritualists would deplore.

She really knew no more of the nature of these forces thanthose around her did. The editor says: "She had always averredthat she never fully believed the rappings to be the work ofspirits, but imagined some occult laws of nature were concerned."This was her attitude later in life, for on her professional cardshe printed that people must judge the nature of the powers forthemselves.

It is natural that those who speak of the danger ofmediumship, and especially of physical mediumship, should pointto the Fox sisters as an example. But their case must not beexaggerated. In the year 1871, after more than twenty years ofthis exhausting work, we find them still receiving theenthusiastic support and admiration of many leading men and womenof the day. It was only after forty years of public service thatadverse conditions were manifested in their lives, and therefore,without in any way glossing over what is evil, we can fairlyclaim that their record hardly justifies those who allude tomediumship as a soul-destroying profession.

It was in this year 1871 that Kate Fox's visit to England wasbrought about through the generosity of Mr. Charles F. Livermore,a prominent banker of New York, in gratitude for the consolationhe had received from her wonderful powers, and to advance thecause of Spiritualism. He provided for all her needs, and thusremoved any necessity for her to give professional sittings. Healso arranged for her to be accompanied by a congenial womancompanion.

In a letter [The Spiritual Magazine, 1871, pp. 525-6.]to Mr. Benjamin Coleman, a well-known worker in the Spiritualistmovement, Mr. Livermore says:

Miss Fox, taken all in all, is no doubt the mostwonderful living medium. Her character is irreproachable andpure. I have received so much through her powers of mediumshipduring the past ten years which is solacing, instructive andastounding, that I feel greatly indebted to her, and desire tohave her taken good care of while absent from her home andfriends.

His further remarks have some bearing possibly on the latersad events of her life:

That you may the more thoroughly understand heridiosyncrasies, permit me to explain that she is a sensitive ofthe highest order and of childlike simplicity; she feels keenlythe atmospheres of everyone with whom she is brought in contact,and to that degree that at times she becomes exceedingly nervousand apparently capricious.

For this reason I have advised her not to sit indark séances, that she may avoid the irritation arising from thesuspicion of sceptics, mere curiosity-mongers, and lovers of themarvellous.

The perfection of the manifestations to beobtained through her depends upon her surroundings, and inproportion as she is in rapport or sympathy with you does sheseem receptive of spiritual power. The communications through herare very remarkable, and have come to me frequently from my wife(Estelle), in perfect idiomatic French, and sometimes in Spanishand Italian, whilst she herself is not acquainted with any ofthese languages. You will understand all this, but theseexplanations may be necessary for others. As I have said, shewill not give séances as a professional medium, but I hopeshe will do all the good she can in furtherance of the greattruth, in a quiet way, while she remains in England.

Mr. Coleman, who had a sitting with her in New York, says thathe received one of the most striking evidences of spirit identitythat had ever occurred to him in his experience of seventeenyears. Mr. Cromwell F. Varley, the electrician who laid theAtlantic cable, in his evidence before the London DialecticalSociety in 1869, spoke of interesting electrical experiments hemade with this medium.

The visit of Kate Fox to England was evidently regarded as amission, for we find Mr. Coleman advising her to choose onlythose sitters who are not afraid to have their names published inconfirmation of the facts they have witnessed. This course seemsto have been adopted to some extent, for there is preserved afair amount of testimony to her powers from, among others,Professor William Crookes, Mr. S. C. Hall, Mr. W. H. Harrison(editor of The Spiritualist), Miss Rosamund Dale Owen (whoafterwards married Laurence Oliphant), and the Rev. John PageHopps.

The new-comer began to hold sittings soon after her arrival.At one of the first of these, on November 24, 1871, arepresentative of The Times was present, and he publisheda detailed account of the séance, which was held jointly withD.D. Home, a close friend of the medium. This appeared in anarticle entitled "Spiritualism and Science," occupying three anda half columns of leading type. The Times Commissionerspeaks of Miss Fox taking him to the door of the room andinviting him to stand by her and to hold her hands, which he did,"when loud thumps seemed to come from the panels, as if done withthe fist. These were repeated at our request any number oftimes." He mentioned that he tried every test that he could thinkof, that Miss Fox and Mr. Home gave every opportunity forexamination, and that their feet and hands were held.

In the course of a leading article on the above report and thecorrespondence that came from it, The Times (January 6,1873) declared that there was no case for scientific inquiry:

Many sensible readers, we fear, will think weowe them an apology for opening our columns to a controversy onsuch a subject as Spiritualism and thus treating as an open ordebatable question what should rather be dismissed at once aseither an imposture or a delusion. But even an imposture may callfor unmasking, and popular delusions however-absurd, are oftentoo important to be neglected by the wiser portion of mankind .Is there, in reality, anything, as lawyers would say, to go to ajury with? Well, on the one hand, we have abundance of allegedexperience which can hardly be called evidence, and a fewdepositions of a more notable and impressive character. On theother hand, we have many accounts of convicted impostors, andmany authentic reports of precisely such disappointments ordiscoveries as we should be led to expect.

On December 14, 1872, Miss Fox married Mr. H. D. Jencken, aLondon barrister-at-law, author of "A Compendium of Modern RomanLaw," etc., and honorary general secretary of the Association forthe Reform and Codification of the Law of Nations. He was one ofthe earliest Spiritualists in England.

The Spiritualist, in its account of the ceremony, saysthat the spirit people took part in the proceedings, for at thewedding breakfast loud raps were heard coming from various partsof the room, and the large table on which stood the wedding-cakewas repeatedly raised from the floor.

A contemporary witness states that Mrs. Kate Fox-Jencken (asshe came to be known) and her husband were to be met in the early'seventies in good social circles in London. Her services wereeagerly sought after by investigators.

John Page Hopps describes her at this time as "a small, thin,very intelligent, but rather simpering little woman, with nice,gentle manners and a quiet enjoyment of her experiments whichentirely saved her from the slightest touch of self-importance oraffectation of mystery."

Her mediumship consisted chiefly of raps (often of greatpower), spirit lights, direct writing, and the appearance ofmaterialized hands. Full form materializations, which had been anoccasional feature of her sittings in America, were rare with herin England. On a number of occasions objects in the séance-roomwere moved by spirit agency, and in some cases brought fromanother room.

It was about this time that Professor William Crookesconducted his inquiries into the medium's powers, and issued thatwhole-hearted report which is dealt with later when Crookes'searly connexion with Spiritualism comes to be discussed. Thesecareful observations show that the rappings constituted only asmall part of Kate Fox's psychic powers, and that if they couldbe adequately explained by normal means they would still leave usamid mysteries. Thus Crookes recounts how, when the only peoplepresent besides himself and Miss Fox were his wife and a ladyrelative "I was holding the medium's two hands in one of mine,while her feet were resting on my feet. Paper was on the tablebefore us, and my disengaged hand was holding a pencil.

"A luminous hand came down from the upper part of the room,and after hovering near me for a few seconds, took the pencilfrom my hand, rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencildown, and then rose over our heads, gradually fading intodarkness.

Many other observers describe similar phenomena with thismedium on various occasions.

A very extraordinary phase of Mrs. Fox-Jensen's mediumship wasthe production of luminous substances. In the presence of Mrs.Makdougall Gregory, Mr. W. H. Harrison, the editor of a Londonnewspaper, and others, a hand appeared carrying somephosphorescent material, about four inches square, with which thefloor was struck and a sitter's face touched.* The light provedto be cold. Miss Rosamund Dale Owen, in her account of thisphenomenon, describes the objects as "illumined crystals," andsays that she has seen no materialization which gave so realistica feeling of spirit nearness as did these graceful lights. Theauthor can also corroborate the fact that these lights areusually cold, as on one occasion, with another medium, such alight settled for some seconds upon his face. Miss Owen alsospeaks of books and small ornaments being carried about, and aheavy musical box, weighing about twenty-five pounds, beingbrought from a side-table. A peculiarity of this instrument wasthat it had been out of order for months and could not be useduntil the unseen forces repaired it and wound it themselves.

* The Spiritualist, Vol. VIII, p. 299.Light, 1884, p. 170.

Mrs. Jencken's mediumship was interwoven in the texture of herdaily life. Professor Butlerof says that when he paid a morningsocial call on her and her husband in company with M. Aksakof heheard raps upon the floor. Spending an evening at the Jenckens'house, he reports that raps were numerous during tea. MissRosamund Dale Owen also refers* to the incident of the mediumstanding in the street at a shop window with two ladies, whenraps joined in the conversation, the pavement vibrating undertheir feet. The raps are described as having been loud enough toattract the attention of passers by. Mr. Jencken relates manycases of spontaneous phenomena in their home life.

* Light, 1884, p. 39. TheSpiritualist, IV, p. 138, and VII, p. 66. Light, 1882,pp. 439-40.

A volume could be filled with details of the séances of thismedium, but with the exception of one further record we must becontent with agreeing with the dictum of Professor Butlerof, ofthe University of St. Petersburg, who, after investigating herpowers in London, wrote in The Spiritualist (February 4,1876):

From all that I was able to observe in thepresence of Mrs. Jencken, I am forced to come to the conclusionthat the phenomena peculiar to that medium are of a stronglyobjective and convincing nature, and they would, I think, besufficient for the most pronounced but Honest sceptic tocause him to reject ventriloquism, muscular action, and everysuch artificial explanation of the phenomena.

Mr. H. D. Jencken died in 1881, and his widow was left withtwo sons. These children showed wonderful mediumship at a veryearly age, particulars of which will be found in contemporaryrecords.

Mr. S. C. Hall, a well-known literary man and a.prominentSpiritualist, describes a sitting at his house in Kensington onhis birthday, May 9, 1882, at which his deceased wife manifestedher presence:

Many interesting and touching messages wereconveyed to me by the usual writing of Mrs. Jencken. We weredirected to put out the light. Then commenced a series ofmanifestations such as I have not often seen equalled, and veryseldom surpassed . I removed a small handbell from the table andheld it in my own hand. I felt a hand take it from me, when itwas rung in all parts of the room during at least five minutes. Ithen placed an accordion under the table, whence it was removed,and at a distance of three or four feet from the table roundwhich we were seated, tunes were played. The accordion was playedand the bell was rung in several parts of the room, while twocandles were lit on the table. It was not, therefore, what istermed a dark sitting, although occasionally the lights were putout. During all the time Mr. Stack held one of the hands of Mrs.Jencken and I held the other—each frequently saying, "Ihave Mrs. Jencken's hand in mine."

About fifty flowers of heartsease were placed ona sheet of paper before me. I had received some heartseaseflowers from a friend in the morning, but the vase that containedthem was not in the sitting-room. I sent for it and found itintact. The bouquet had not been in the least disturbed. In whatis called "Direct Writing" I found these words written in pencilin a very small hand, on a sheet of paper that lay before me, "Ihave brought you my token of love." At a sitting some dayspreviously (when alone with Mrs. Jencken) I had received thismessage, "On your birthday I will bring you a token of love."

Mr. Hall adds that he had marked the sheet of paper with hisinitials, and, as an extra precaution, had torn off one of thecorners in such a manner as to ensure recognition.

It is evident that Mr. Hall was greatly impressed by what hehad seen. He writes: "I have witnessed and recorded manywonderful manifestations; I doubt if I have seen any moreconvincing than this; certainly none more refined; none that gavemore conclusive evidence that pure and good and holy spiritsalone were communicating." He states that he has consented tobecome Mrs. Jencken's "banker," presumably for funds for theeducation of her two boys. In view of what afterwards happened tothis gifted medium, there is a sad interest in his concludingwords:

I feel confidence approaching certainty that, inall respects, she will so act as to increase and not lessen herpower as a medium while retaining the friendship and trust of themany who cannot but feel for her a regard in some degreeresembling (as arising from the same source) that which the NewChurch accords to Emanuel Swedenborg, and the Methodists renderto John Wesley. Assuredly Spiritualists owe to this lady a hugedebt for the glad tidings she was largely the instrument,selected by Providence, to convey to them.

We have given this account in some detail because it showsthat the gifts of the medium were at this time of a high andpowerful order. A few years earlier, at a séance at her house onDecember 14, 1873, on the occasion of the first anniversary ofher wedding, a spirit message was rapped out: "When shadows fallupon you, think of the brighter side." It was a propheticmessage, for the end of her life was all shadows.

Margaret (Mrs. Fox-Kane) had joined her sister Kate in Englandin 1876, and they remained together for some years until the verypainful incident occurred which has now to be discussed. It wouldappear that a very bitter quarrel broke out between the eldersister Leah (now Mrs. Underhill) and the two younger ones. It isprobable that Leah may have heard that there was now a tendencyto alcoholism, and may have interfered with more energy thantact. Some Spiritualists interfered also, and incurred the furyof the two sisters by some suggestion that Kate's children shouldbe separated from her.

Looking round for some weapon—any weapon—withwhich they could injure those whom they so bitterly hated, itseems to have occurred to them—or, according to theirsubsequent statement, to have been suggested to them, withpromises of pecuniary reward—that if they injured the wholecult by an admission of fraud they would wound Leah and herassociates in their most sensitive part. On the top of alcoholicexcitement and the frenzy of hatred there was added religiousfanaticism, for Margaret had been lectured by some of the leadingspirits of the Church of Rome and persuaded, as Home had beenalso for a short time, that her own powers were evil. Shementions Cardinal Manning as having influenced her mind in thisway, but her statements are not to be taken too seriously. At anyrate, all these causes combined and reduced her to a state whichwas perilously near madness. Before leaving London she hadwritten to The New York Herald denouncing the cult, butstating in one sentence that the rappings were "the only part ofthe phenomena that is worthy of notice." On reaching New York,where, according to her own subsequent statement, she was toreceive a sum of money for the newspaper sensation which shepromised to produce, she broke out into absolute raving againsther elder sister.

It is a curious psychological study, and equally curious isthe mental attitude of the people who could imagine that theassertions of an unbalanced woman, acting not only from motivesof hatred but also from—as she herself stated—thehope of pecuniary reward, could upset the critical investigationof a generation of observers.

None the less, we have to face the fact that she did actuallyproduce rappings, or enable raps to be produced, at a subsequentmeeting in the New York Academy of Music. This might bediscounted upon the grounds that in so large a hall anyprearranged sound might be attributed to the medium. Moreimportant is the evidence of the reporter of the Herald, who hada previous private performance. He describes it thus:

I heard first a rapping under the floor near myfeet, then under the chair in which I was seated, and again undera table on which I was leaning. She led me to the door and Iheard the same sound on the other side of it. Then when she satdown on the piano stool the instrument reverberated more loudlyand the tap-tap resounded throughout its hollow structure.

This account makes it clear that she had the noises undercontrol, though the reporter must have been more unsophisticatedthan most pressmen of my acquaintance, if he could believe thatsounds varying both in quality and in position all came from someclick within the medium's foot. He clearly did not know how thesounds came, and it is the author's opinion that Margaret did notknow either. That she really had something which she couldexhibit is proved, not only by the experience of the reporter butby that of Mr. Wedgwood, a London Spiritualist, to whom she gavea demonstration before she started for America. It is vain,therefore, to contend that there was no basis at all inMargaret's exposure. What that basis was we must endeavour todefine.

The Margaret Fox-Kane sensation was in August and September,1888 – a welcome boon for the enterprising paper which hadexploited it. In October Kate came over to join forces with hersister. It should be explained that the real quarrel, so far asis known, was between Kate and Leah, for Leah had endeavoured toget Kate's children taken from her on the grounds that themother's influence was not for good. Therefore, though Kate didnot rave, and though she volunteered no exposures in public orprivate, she was quite at one with her sister in the general plotto "down" Leah at all costs.

She was the one who caused my arrest last spring(she said) and the bringing of the preposterous charge that I wascruel to my children. I don't know why it is she has always beenjealous of Maggie and me; I suppose because we could do things inSpiritualism that she couldn't.

She was present at the Hall of Music meeting onOctober 21, when Margaret made her repudiation and produced theraps. She was silent on that occasion, but that silence may betaken as a support of the statements to which she listened.

If this were indeed so, and if she spoke as reported to theinterviewer, her repentance must have come very rapidly. UponNovember 17, less than a month after the famous meeting, shewrote to a lady in London, Mrs. Cottell, who was the tenant ofCarlyle's old house, this remarkable letter from New York(Light, 1888, p. 619):

I would have written to you before this but mysurprise was so great on my arrival to hear of Maggie's exposureof Spiritualism that I had no heart to write to anyone.

The manager of the affair engaged the Academy ofMusic, the very largest place of entertainment in New York City;it was filled to overflowing.

They made fifteen hundred dollars clear. I haveoften wished I had remained with you, and if I had the means Iwould now return to get out of all this.

I think now I could make money in proving thatthe knockings are not made with the toes. So many people come tome to ask me about this exposure of Maggie's that I have to denymyself to them.

They are hard at work to expose the whole thingif they can; but they certainly cannot.

Maggie is giving public exposures in all thelarge places in America, but I have only seen her once since Iarrived.

This letter of Kate's points to pecuniary temptation asplaying a large part in the transaction. Maggie, however, seemsto have soon found that there was little money in it, and couldsee no profit in telling lies for which she was not paid, andwhich had only proved that the Spiritualistic movement was sofirmly established that it was quite unruffled by her treachery.For this or other reasons—let us hope with some finaltwinges of conscience as to the part she had played—she nowadmitted that she had been telling falsehoods from the lowestmotives. The interview was reported in the New York Press,November 20, 1889, about a year after the onslaught.

"Would to God," she said, in a voice that trembled withintense excitement, "that I could undo the injustice I did thecause of Spiritualism when, under the strong psychologicalinfluence of persons inimical to it, I gave expression toutterances that had no foundation in fact. This retraction anddenial has not come about so much from my own sense of what isright as from the silent impulse of the spirits using my organismat the expense of the hostility of the treacherous horde who heldout promises of wealth and happiness in return for an attack onSpiritualism, and whose hopeful assurances were so deceitful.

"Long before I spoke to any person on this matter, I wasunceasingly reminded by my spirit control what I should do, andat last I have come to the conclusion that it would be uselessfor me further to thwart their promptings ."

"Has there been no mention of a monetary consideration forthis statement?"

"Not the smallest; none whatever."

"Then financial gain is not the end which you are lookingto?"

"Indirectly, yes. You know that even a mortal instrument inthe hands of the spirit must have the maintenance of life. This Ipropose to derive from my lectures. Not one cent has passed to mefrom any person because I adopted this course."

"What cause led up to your exposure of the spiritrappings?"

"At that time I was in great need of money, andpersons—who for the present I prefer not to name—tookadvantage of the situation; hence the trouble. The excitement,too, helped to upset my mental equilibrium."

"What was the object of the persons who induced you to makethe confession that you and all other mediums traded on thecredulity of people?"

"They had several objects in view. Their first and paramountidea was to crush Spiritualism, to make money for themselves, andto get up a great excitement, as that was an element in whichthey flourish."

"Was there any truth in the charges you made againstSpiritualism?"

"Those charges were false in every particular. I have nohesitation in saying that ."

"No, my belief in Spiritualism has undergone no change. When Imade those dreadful statements I was not responsible for mywords. Its genuineness is an incontrovertible fact. Not all theHerrmans that ever breathed can duplicate the wonders that areproduced through some mediums. By deftness of fingers andsmartness of wits they may produce writing on papers and slates,but even this cannot bear close investigation. Materialization isbeyond their mental calibre to reproduce, and I challenge anyoneto make the 'rap' under the same conditions which I will. Thereis not a human being on earth can produce the 'raps' in the sameway as they are through me."

"Do you propose to hold séances?"

"No, I will devote myself entirely to platform work, as thatwill find me a better opportunity to refute the foul slandersuttered by me against Spiritualism."

"What does your sister Kate say of your present course?"

"She is in complete sympathy with me. She did not approve mycourse in the past ."

"Will you have a manager for your lecture tour?" "No, sir. Ihave a horror of them. They, too, treated me most outrageously.Frank Stechen acted shamefully with me. He made considerablemoney through his management for me, and left me in Bostonwithout a cent. All I got from him was five hundred and fiftydollars, which was given to me at the beginning of thecontract."

To give greater authenticity to the interview, at hersuggestion the following open letter was written to which sheplaced her signature:

128, West Forty-third Street, New York City,
November 16, 1889.

TO THE PUBLIC.

The foregoing interview having been read over tome I find nothing contained therein that is not a correct recordof my words and truthful expression of my sentiments. I have notgiven a detailed account of the ways and means which were devisedto bring me under subjection, and so extract from me adeclaration that the spiritual phenomena as exemplified throughmy organism were a fraud. But I shall fully atone for thisincompleteness when I get upon the platform.

The exactness of this interview was testified to by the namesof a number of witnesses, including J. L. O'Sullivan, who wasU.S. Minister to Portugal for twenty-five years. He said, "Ifever I heard a woman speak truth, it was then."

So it may have been, but the failure of her lecture-agent tokeep her in funds seems to have been the determining factor.

The statement would settle the question if we could take thespeaker's words at face value, but unfortunately the author iscompelled to agree with Mr. Isaac Funk, an indefatigable andimpartial researcher, that Margaret at this period of her lifecould not be relied upon.

What is a good deal more to the purpose is that Mr. Funk satwith Margaret, that he heard the raps "all round the room"without detecting their origin, and that they spelt out to him aname and address which were correct and entirely beyond theknowledge of the medium. The information given was wrong, but, onthe other hand, abnormal power was shown by reading the contentsof a letter in Mr. Funk's pocket. Such mixed results are aspuzzling as the other larger problem discussed in thischapter.

There is one factor which has been scarcely touched upon inthis examination. It is the character and career of Mrs. Fish,afterwards Mrs. Underhill, who as Leah, the elder sister, playsso prominent a part in the matter. We know her chiefly by herbook, " The Missing Link in Modern Spiritualism" (Knox & Co.,New York, 1885). This book was written by a friend, but the factsand documents were provided by Mrs. Underhill, who checked thewhole narrative. It is simply and even crudely put together, andthe Spiritualist is bound to conclude that the entities with whomthe Fox circle were at first in contact were not always of thehighest order. Perhaps on another plane, as on this, it is theplebeians and the lowly who carry out spiritual pioneer work intheir own rough way and open the path for other and more refinedagencies. With this sole criticism, one may say that the bookgives a sure impression of candour and good sense, and as apersonal narrative of one who was so nearly concerned in thesemomentous happenings, it is destined to outlive most of ourcurrent literature and to be read with close attention and evenwith reverence by generations unborn. Those humble folk whowatched over the new birth—Capron, of Auburn, who firstlectured upon it in public; Jervis, the gallant Methodistminister, who cried, "I know it is true, and I will face thefrowning world!"; George Willetts, the Quaker; Isaac Post, whocalled the first spiritual meeting; the gallant band whotestified upon the Rochester platform while the rowdies wereheating the tar—all of them are destined to live inhistory. Of Leah it can truly be said that she recognized thereligious meaning of the movement far more clearly than hersisters were able to do, and that she set her face against thatuse of it for purely worldly objects which is a degradation ofthe celestial. The following passage is of great interest asshowing how the Fox family first regarded this visitation, andmust impress the reader with the sincerity of the writer:

The general feeling of our family was stronglyadverse to all this strange and uncanny thing. We regarded it asa great misfortune which had fallen upon us; how, whence or whywe knew not . We resisted it, struggled against it, andconstantly and earnestly prayed for deliverance from it, evenwhile a strange fascination attached to these marvellousmanifestations thus forced upon us, against our will, byinvisible agencies and agents whom we could neither resist,control nor understand. If our will, earnest desires and prayerscould have prevailed or availed, the whole thing would have endedthen and there, and the world outside of our little neighbourhoodwould never have heard more of the Rochester Rappings, or of theunfortunate Fox family.

These words give the impression of sincerity, and altogetherLeah stands forth in her book, and in the evidence of the manywitnesses quoted, as one who was worthy to play a part in a greatmovement.

Both Kate Fox Jencken and Margaret Fox-Kane died in the early'nineties, and their end was one of sadness and gloom. Theproblem which they present is put fairly before the reader,avoiding the extremes of the too sensitive Spiritualist who willnot face the facts, and the special-pleading sceptics who laystress upon those parts of the narrative which suit their purposeand omit or minimize everything else. Let us see, at the cost ofa break in our narrative, if any sort of explanation can be foundwhich covers the double fact that what these sisters could do wasplainly abnormal, and yet that it was, to some extent at least,under their control. It is not a simple problem, but anexceedingly deep one which exhausts, and more than exhausts, thepsychic knowledge which is at this date available, and wasaltogether beyond the reach of the generation in which the Foxsisters were alive.

The simple explanation which was given by the Spiritualists ofthe time is not to be set aside readily—and least readilyby those who know most. It was that a medium who ill-uses hergifts and suffers debasem*nt of moral character through badhabits, becomes accessible to evil influences which may use herfor false information or for the defilement of a pure cause. Thatmay be true enough as a causa causans. But we must lookcloser to see the actual how and why.

The author is of opinion that the true explanation will befound by coupling all these happenings with the recentinvestigations of Dr. Crawford upon the means by which physicalphenomena are produced. He showed very clearly, as is detailed ina subsequent chapter, that raps (we are dealing at present onlywith that phase) are caused by a protrusion from the medium'sperson of a long rod of a substance having certain propertieswhich distinguish it from all other forms of matter. Thissubstance has been closely examined by the great Frenchphysiologist, Dr. Charles Richet, who has named it "ectoplasm."These rods are invisible to the eye, partly visible to thesensitive plate, and yet conduct energy in such a fashion as tomake sounds and strike blows at a distance.

Now, if Margaret produced the raps in the same fashion asCrawford's medium, we have only to make one or two assumptionswhich are probable in them selves, and which the science of thefuture may definitely prove in order to make the case quiteclear. The one assumption is that a centre of psychic force isformed in some part of the body from which the ectoplasm rod isprotruded. Supposing that centre to be in Margaret's foot, itwould throw a very clear light upon the evidence collected in theSeybert inquiry. In examining Margaret and endeavouring to getraps from her, one of the committee, with the permission of themedium, placed his hand upon her foot. Raps at once followed. Theinvestigator cried: "This is the most wonderful thing of all,Mrs. Kane. I distinctly feel them in your foot. There is not aparticle of motion in your foot, but there is an unusualpulsation."

This experiment by no means bears out the idea of jointdislocation or snapping toes. It is, however, exactly what onecould imagine in the case of a centre from which psychic powerwas projected. This power is in material shape and is drawn fromthe body of the medium, so that there must be some nexus. Thisnexus may vary. In the case quoted it was in Margaret's foot. Itwas observed by the Buffalo doctors that there was a subtlemovement of a medium at the moment of a rap. The observation wascorrect, though the inference was wrong. The author has himselfdistinctly seen in the case of an amateur medium a slight generalpulsation when a rap was given—a recoil, as it were, afterthe discharge of force.

Granting that Margaret's power worked in this way, we have nowonly to discuss whether ectoplasmic rods can under anycirc*mstances be protruded at will. So far as the author knows,there are no observations which bear directly upon the point.Crawford's medium seems always to have manifested when in trance,so that the question did not arise. In other physical phenomenathere is some reason to think that in their simpler form they areclosely connected with the medium, but that as they progress theypass out of her control and are swayed by forces outside herself.Thus the ectoplasm pictures photographed by Madame Bisson and Dr.Schrenck Notzing (as shown in his recent book) may in their firstforms be ascribed to the medium's thoughts or memories takingvisible shape in ectoplasm, but as she becomes lost in trancethey take the form of figures which in extreme cases are endowedwith independent life. If there be a general analogy between thetwo classes of phenomena, then it is entirely possible thatMargaret had some control over the expulsion of ectoplasm whichcaused the sound, but that when the sound gave forth messageswhich were beyond her possible knowledge, as in the caseinstanced by Funk, the power was no longer used by her but bysome independent intelligence.

It is to be remembered that no one is more ignorant of howeffects are produced than the medium, who is the centre of them.One of the greatest physical mediums in the world told the authoronce that he had never witnessed a physical phenomenon, as he washimself always in trance when they occurred; the opinion of anyone of the sitters would be more valuable than his own. Thus inthe case of these Fox sisters, who were mere children when thephenomena began, they knew little of the philosophy of thesubject, and Margaret frequently said that she did not understandher own results. If she found that she had herself some power ofproducing the raps, however obscure the way by which she did it,she would be in a frame of mind when she might well find itimpossible to contradict Dr. Kane when he accused her of beingconcerned in it. Her confession, too, and that of her sister,would to that extent be true, but each would be aware, as theyafterwards admitted, that there was a great deal more which couldnot be explained and which did not emanate from themselves.

There remains, however, one very important point to bediscussed – the most important of all to those who acceptthe religious significance of this movement. It is a most naturalargument for those who are unversed in the subject to say, "Arethese your fruits? Can a philosophy or religion be good which hassuch an effect upon those who have had a prominent place in itsestablishment?" No one can cavil at such an objection, and itcalls for a clear answer, which has often been made and yet is inneed of repetition.

Let it then be clearly stated that there is no more connexionbetween physical mediumship and morality than there is between arefined ear for music and morality. Both are purely physicalgifts. The musician might interpret the most lovely thoughts andexcite the highest emotions in others, influencing their thoughtsand raising their minds. Yet in himself he might be a drug-taker,a dipsomaniac, or a pervert. On the other hand, he might combinehis musical powers with an angelic personal character. There issimply no connexion at all between the two things, save that theyboth have their centre in the same human body.

So it is in physical mediumship. We all, or nearly all, exudea certain substance from our bodies which has very peculiarproperties. With most of us, as is shown by Crawford's weighingchairs, the amount is negligible. With one in 100,000 it isconsiderable. That person is a physical medium. He or she givesforth a raw material which can, we hold, be used by independentexternal forces. The individual's character has nothing to dowith the matter. Such is the result of two generations ofobservation.

If it were exactly as stated, then, the physical medium'scharacter would be in no way affected by his gift. Unfortunately,that is to understate the case. Under our present unintelligentconditions, the physical medium is subjected to certain moralrisks which it takes a strong and well-guarded nature towithstand. The failures of these most useful and devoted peoplemay be likened to those physical injuries, the loss of fingersand hands, incurred by those who have worked with the X-raysbefore their full properties were comprehended. Means have beentaken to overcome these physical dangers after a certain numberhave become martyrs for science, and the moral dangers will alsobe met when a tardy reparation will be made to the pioneers whohave injured themselves in forcing the gates of knowledge. Thesedangers lie in the weakening of the will, in the extreme debilityafter phenomenal sittings, and the temptation to gain temporaryrelief from alcohol, in the temptation to fraud when the powerwanes, and in the mixed and possibly noxious spirit influenceswhich surround a promiscuous circle, drawn together from motivesof curiosity rather than of religion. The remedy is to segregatemediums, to give them salaries instead of paying them by results,to regulate the number of their sittings and the character of thesitters, and thus to remove them from influences whichoverwhelmed the Fox sisters as they have done other of thestrongest mediums in the past. On the other hand, there arephysical mediums who retain such high motives and work upon suchreligious lines that they are the salt of the earth. It is thesame power which is used by the Buddha and by the Woman of Endor.The objects and methods of its use are what determine thecharacter.

The author has said that there is little connexion betweenphysical mediumship and morality. One could imagine theectoplasmic flow being as brisk from a sinner as from a saint,impinging upon material objects in the same way and producingresults which would equally have the good effect of convincingthe materialist of forces outside his ken. This does not apply,however, to internal mediumship, taking the form not of phenomenabut of teaching and messages, given either by spirit voice, humanvoice, automatic writing, or any other device. Here the vessel ischosen that it may match what it contains. One could not imaginea small nature giving temporary habitation to a great spirit. Onemust be a Vale Owen before one gets Vale Owen messages. If a highmedium degenerated in character, I should expect to find themessages cease or else share in the degeneration. Hence, too, themessages of a divine spirit such as is periodically sent tocleanse the world, of a mediaeval saint, of Joan of Arc, ofSwedenborg, of Andrew Jackson Davis, or of the humblest automaticwriter in London, provided that the impulse is a true one, arereally the same thing in various degrees. Each is a genuinebreath from beyond, and yet each intermediary tinges with his orher personality the message which comes through. So, as in aglass darkly, we see this wondrous mystery, so vital and yet soundefined. It is its very greatness which prevents it from beingdefined. We have done a little, but we hand back many a problemto those who march behind us. They may look upon our own mostadvanced speculation as elementary, and yet may see vistas ofthought before them which will stretch to the uttermost bounds oftheir mental vision.


VI. — FIRST DEVELOPMENTS INAMERICA


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (10)


HAVING dealt with the history of the Fox familyand the problems which that history raises, we shall now returnto America and note the first effects of this invasion fromanother sphere of being.

These effects were not entirely excellent. There were follieson the part of individuals and extravagances on that ofcommunities.

One of these, based on communications received through themediumship of Mrs. Benedict, was the Apostolic Circle. It wasstarted by a small group of men, strong believers in a secondadvent, who sought through spirit communications to confirm thatbelief. They obtained what they proclaimed to be communicationsfrom Apostles and prophets of the Bible. In 1849 James L. Scott,a Seventh Day Baptist minister of Brooklyn, joined this circle atAuburn, which now became known as the Apostolic Movement, and itsspiritual leader was said to be the Apostle Paul. Scott wasjoined by the Rev. Thomas Lake Harris, and they established atMountain Cove the religious community which attracted a strongfollowing, until after some years their dupes becamedisillusioned and deserted their autocratic leaders.

This man, Thomas Lake Harris, is certainly one of the mostcurious personalities of whom we have any record, and it is hardto say whether Jekyll or Hyde predominated in his character. Hewas compounded of extremes, and everything which he did wasoutstanding for good or for evil. He was originally aUniversalist minister, whence he derived the "Rev." which he longused as a prefix. He broke away from his associates, adopted theteachings of Andrew Jackson Davis, became a fanaticalSpiritualist, and finally, as already stated, claimed to be oneof the autocratic rulers of the souls and purses of the colonistsof Mountain Cove. There came a time, however, when the saidcolonists concluded that they were quite capable of looking aftertheir own affairs both spiritual and material, so Harris foundhis vocation gone. He then came to New York and threw himselfviolently into the Spiritualistic movement, preaching at DodworthHall, the head-quarters of the cult, and gaining a great anddeserved reputation for remarkable eloquence. Hismegalomania—possibly an obsession—broke out oncemore, and he made extravagant claims which the sane and soberSpiritualists around him would not tolerate. There was one claim,however, which he could go to some length in making good, andthat was inspiration from a very true and high poetic afflatus,though whether inborn or from without it is impossible to say.While at this stage of his career he, or some power through him,produced a series of poems, "A Lyric of the Golden Age," "TheMorning Land," and others, which do occasionally touch the stars.Piqued by the refusal of the New York Spiritualists to admit hissupernal claims, Harris then (1859) went to England, where hegained fame by his eloquence, shown in lectures which consistedof denunciations of his own former colleagues in New York. Eachsuccessive step in the man's life was accompanied by a defilementof the last step from which he had come.

In 1860, in London, Harris's life suddenly assumes a closerinterest to Britons, especially to those who have literaryaffinities. Harris lectured at Steinway Hall, and while thereLady Oliphant listened to his wild eloquence, and was so affectedby it that she brought the American preacher into touch with herson, Laurence Oliphant, one of the most brilliant men of hisgeneration. It is difficult to see where the attraction lay, forthe teaching of Harris at this stage had nothing uncommon in itsmatter, save that he seems to have adopted the Father-God andMother-Nature idea which was thrown out by Davis. Oliphant placedHarris high as a poet, referring to him as "the greatest poet ofthe age as yet unknown to fame." Oliphant was no mean judge, andyet in an age which included Tennyson, Longfellow, Browning, andso many more, the phrase seems extravagant. The end of the wholeepisode was that, after delays and vacillations, both mother andson surrendered themselves entirely to Harris, and went forth tomanual labour in a new colony at Brocton in New York, where theyremained in a condition which was virtual slavery save that itwas voluntary. Whether such self-abnegation is saintly or idioticis a question for the angels. It certainly seems idiotic when welearn that Laurence Oliphant had the greatest difficulty ingetting leave to marry, and expressed humble gratitude to thetyrant when he was at last allowed to do so. He was set free toreport the Franco-German War of 1870, which he did in thebrilliant manner that might be expected of him, and then hereturned to his servitude once more, one of his duties being tosell strawberries in baskets to the passing trains, while he wasarbitrarily separated from his young wife, she being sent toSouthern California and he retained at Brocton. It was not untilthe year 1882, twenty years from his first entanglement, thatOliphant, his mother being then dead, broke these extraordinarybonds, and after a severe struggle, in the course of which Harristook steps to have him incarcerated in an asylum, rejoined hiswife, recovered some of his property, and resumed his normallife. He drew the prophet Harris in his book "Masollam," writtenin his later years, and the result is so characteristic both ofOliphant's brilliant word-painting and of the extraordinary manwhom he painted, that the reader will perhaps be glad to refer toit in the Appendix.

Such developments as Harris and others were only excrescenceson the main Spiritualistic movement, which generally speaking wassane and progressive. The freaks stood in the way of itsacceptance, however, as the communistic or free love sentimentsof some of these wild sects were unscrupulously exploited by theopposition as being typical of the whole.

We have seen that though the spiritual manifestations obtainedwide public notice through the Fox girls, they were known longbefore this. To the pre ceding testimony to this effect we mayadd that of Judge Edmonds, who says:* "It is about five yearssince the subject first attracted public attention, though wediscover now that for the previous ten or twelve years there hadbeen more or less of it in different parts of the country, but ithad been kept concealed, either from fear of ridicule or fromignorance of what it was." This explains the surprising number ofmediums who began to be heard of immediately after the publicityobtained through the Fox family. It was no new gift theyexhibited, it was only that their courageous action in making itwidely known made others come forward and confess that theypossessed the same power. Also this universal gift of mediumisticfaculties now for the first time began to be freely developed.The result was that mediums were heard of in ever-increasingnumbers. In April, 1849, manifestations occurred in the family ofthe Rev. A. H. Jervis, the Methodist minister of Rochester, inthat of Mr. Lyman Granger, also of Rochester, and in the home ofDeacon Hale, in the neighbouring town of Greece. So, too, sixfamilies in the adjoining town of Auburn began to developmediumship. In none of these cases had the Fox girls anyconnexion with what took place. So these leaders simply blazedthe trail along which others followed.

* Spiritualism, by John W. Edmonds andGeorge T. Dexter, M.D., New York, 1853, p. 36.

Outstanding features of the next succeeding years were therapid growth of mediums on every side, and the conversion to abelief in Spiritualism of great public men like Judge Edmonds,ex-Governor Tallmadge, Professor Robert Hare, and ProfessorMapes. The public support of such well-known men gave enormouspublicity to the subject, while at the same time it increased thevirulence of the opposition, which now perceived it had to dealwith more than a handful of silly, deluded people. Men such asthese could command a hearing in the Press of the day. There wasalso a change in the character of the spiritual phenomena. In theyears 1851-2 Mrs. Hayden and D.D. Home were instrumental inmaking many converts. We shall have more to say about thesemediums in later chapters.

In a communication addressed "To the Public," published in theNew York Courier and dated New York, August 1, 1853, JudgeEdmonds, a man of high character and clear intellect, gave aconvincing account of his own experience. It is a curious thingthat the United States, which at that time gave conspicuousevidence of moral courage in its leading citizens, has seemed tofall behind in recent years in this respect, for the author inhis recent journeys there found many who were aware of psychictruth and yet shrank in the face of a jeering Press frompublishing their convictions.

Judge Edmonds, in the article alluded to, began by detailingthe train of events which caused him to form his opinions. It isdwelt upon here in some detail, because it is very important asshowing the basis on which a highly educated than received thenew teaching:

It was January 1851 that my attention was firstcalled to the subject of "spiritual intercourse." I was at thetime withdrawn from general society; I was labouring under greatdepression of spirits. I was occupying all my leisure in readingon the subject of death and man's existence afterward. I had, inthe course of my life, read and heard from the pulpit so manycontradictory and conflicting doctrines on the subject, that Ihardly knew what to believe. I could not, if I would, believewhat I did not understand, and was anxiously seeking to know, if,after death, we should again meet with those whom we had lovedhere, and under what circ*mstances. I was invited by a friend towitness the "Rochester Knockings." I complied more to oblige her,and to while away a tedious hour. I thought a good deal on what Iwitnessed, and I determined to investigate the matter and findout what it was. If it was a deception, or a delusion, I thoughtthat I could detect it. For about four months I devoted at leasttwo evenings in a week and sometimes more to witnessing thephenomena in all its phases. I kept careful records of all Iwitnessed, and from time to time compared them with each other,to detect inconsistencies and contradictions. I read all I couldlay my hands on on the subject, and especially all the professed"exposures of the humbug." I went from place to place, seeingdifferent mediums, meeting with different parties ofpersons—often with persons whom I had never seen before,and sometimes where I was myself entirely unknown—sometimesin the dark and sometimes in the light—often withinveterate unbelievers, and more frequently with zealousbelievers.

In fine, I availed myself of every opportunitythat was afforded, thoroughly to sift the matter to the bottom. Iwas all this time an unbeliever, and tried the patience ofbelievers sorely by my scepticism, my captiousness, and myobdurate refusal to yield my belief. I saw around me some whoyielded a ready faith on one or two sittings only; others again,under the same circ*mstances, avowing a determined unbelief; andsome who refused to witness it at all, and yet were confirmedunbelievers. I could not imitate either of these parties, andrefused to yield unless upon most irrefragable testimony. Atlength the evidence came, and in such force that no sane mancould withhold his faith.

It will thus be seen that this, the earliest outstandingconvert to the new revelation, took the utmost pains before heallowed the evidence to convince him of the validity of theclaims of the spirit. General experience shows that a facileacceptance of these claims is very rare among earnest thinkers,and that there is hardly any prominent Spiritualist whose courseof study and reflection has not involved a novitiate of manyyears. This forms a striking contrast to those negative opinionswhich are founded upon initial prejudice and the biased orscandalous accounts of partisan authors.

Judge Edmonds, in the excellent summary of his position givenin the article already quoted—an article which should haveconverted the whole American people had they been ready forassimilation—proceeds to show the solid basis of hisbeliefs. He points out that he was never alone when thesemanifestations occurred, and that he had many witnesses. He alsoshows the elaborate precautions which he took:

After depending upon my senses, as to thesevarious phases of the phenomenon, I invoked the aid of science,and, with the assistance of an accomplished electrician and hismachinery, and eight or ten intelligent, educated, shrewdpersons, examined the matter. We pursued our inquiries many days,and established to our satisfaction two things: first, that thesounds were not produced by the agency of any person present ornear us; and, second, that they were not forthcoming at our willand pleasure.

He deals faithfully with the alleged "exposures" innewspapers, some of which at long intervals are true indictmentsof some villain, but which usually are greater deceptions,conscious or unconscious, of the public than the evils which theyprofess to attack. Thus:

While these things were going on, there appearedin the newspapers various explanations and "exposures of thehumbug," as they were termed. I read them with care, in theexpectation of being assisted in my researches, and I could notbut smile at once at the rashness and the futility of theexplanations. For instance, while certain learned professors inBuffalo were congratulating themselves on having detected it inthe toe and knee joints, the manifestations in this city changedto ringing a bell placed under the table. They were like thesolution lately given by a learned professor in England, whoattributes the tipping of tables to a force in the hands whichare laid upon them, overlooking the material fact that tablesquite as frequently move when there is no hand upon them.

Having dealt with the objectivity of the phenomena, the judgenext touched upon the more important question of their source. Hecommented upon the fact that he had answers to mental questionsand found that his own secret thoughts were revealed, and thatpurposes which he had privily entertained had been made manifest.He notes also that he had heard the mediums use Greek, Latin,Spanish, and French, when they were ignorant of theselanguages.

This drives him to the consideration of whether these thingsmay not be explained as the reflection of the mind of some otherliving human being. These considerations have been exhausted byevery inquirer in turn, for Spiritualists do not accept theircreed in one bound, but make the journey step by step, with muchtimid testing of the path. Judge Edmonds's epitome of his courseis but that which many others have followed. He gives thefollowing reasons for negativing this question of other humanminds:

Facts were communicated which were unknown then,but afterward found to be true; like this, for instance when Iwas absent last winter in Central America, my friends in townheard of my whereabouts and of the state of my health seventimes; and on my return, by comparing their information with theentries in my journal it was found to be invariably correct. So,in my recent visit to the West my whereabouts and my conditionwere told to a medium in this city, while I was travelling on therailroad between Cleveland and Toledo. So thoughts have beenuttered on subjects not then in my mind, and utterly at variancewith my own notions. This has often happened to me and to others,so as fully to establish the fact that it was not our minds thatgave birth to or affected the communication.

He then deals with the object of this marvellous development,and he points out its overwhelming religious significance on thegeneral lines with which it is defined in a subsequent chapter ofthis work. Judge Edmonds's brain was indeed a remarkable one, andhis judgment clear, for there is very little which we can add tohis statement, and perhaps it has never been so well expressed inso small a compass. As we point to it one can claim thatSpiritualism has been consistent from the first, and that theteachers and guides have not mixed their message. It is a strangeand an amusing reflection that the arrogant science whichendeavoured by its mere word and glare to crush this upstartknowledge in 1850 has been proved to be essentially wrong on itsown ground. There are hardly any scientific axioms of that day,the finality of the element, the indivisibility of the atom, theseparate origin of species, which have not been controverted,whereas the psychic knowledge which was so derided has steadilyheld its own, adding fresh facts but never contradicting thosewhich were originally put forward.

Writing of the beneficent effects of this knowledge the judgesays:

There is that which comforts the mourner andbinds up the broken-hearted; that which smooths the passage tothe grave and robs death of its terrors; that which enlightensthe atheist and cannot but reform the vicious; that which cheersand encourages the virtuous amid all the trials and vicissitudesof life; and that which demonstrates to man his duty and hisdestiny, leaving it no longer vague and uncertain.

The matter has never been better summed up than that.

There is, however, one final passage in this remarkabledocument which causes some sadness. Speaking of the progresswhich the movement had made within four years in the UnitedStates, he says: "There are ten or twelve newspapers andperiodicals devoted to the cause and the spiritual libraryembraces more than one hundred different publications, some ofwhich have already attained a circulation of more than 10,000copies. Besides the undistinguished multitude there are many menof high standing and talent ranked among them—doctors,lawyers, and clergymen in great numbers, a Protestant bishop, thelearned and reverend president of a college, judges of our highercourts, members of Congress, foreign ambassadors and ex-membersof the United States Senate." In four years the spirit force haddone as much as this. How does the matter stand to-day? The"undistinguished multitude" has carried bravely on and thehundred publications have grown into many more, but where are themen of light and leading who point the path? Since the death ofProfessor Hyslop it is difficult to point to one man of eminencein the United States who is ready to stake his career andreputation upon the issue. Those who would have never feared thetyranny of man have shrank from the cat-calling of the publicPress. The printing-machine has succeeded where the rack wouldhave failed. The worldly loss in reputation and in businesssustained by Judge Edmonds himself, who had to resign his seatupon the Supreme Court of New York, and by many others whotestified to the truth, established a reign of terror which warnsthe intellectual classes from the subject. So the matter standsat present.

But the Press, for the moment, was well-disposed and JudgeEdmonds's famous summing-up, perhaps the finest and mostmomentous that any judge has ever delivered, met with respect, ifnot with concurrence. The New York Courier wrote:

The letter from Judge Edmonds, published by uson Saturday, with regard to the so-called spiritualmanifestations, coming as it did from an eminent jurist, a manremarkable for his clear common sense in the practical affairs oflife, and a gentleman of irreproachable character, arrested theattention of the community, and is regarded by many persons asone of the most remarkable documents of the day.

The New York Evening Mirror said:

John W. Edmonds, the Chief Justice of theSupreme Court for this district, is an able lawyer, anindustrious judge and a good citizen. For the last eight yearsoccupying without interruption the highest judicial stations,whatever may be his faults no one can justly accuse him of lackof ability, industry, honesty or fearlessness. No one can doubthis general saneness, or can believe for a moment that theordinary operations of his mind are not as rapid, accurate andreliable as ever. Both by the practitioners and suitors at hisbar he is recognized as the head, in fact and in merit, of theSupreme Court for this District.

The experience of Dr. Robert Hare, Professor of Chemistry inthe University of Pennsylvania, is also of interest, because hewas one of the first eminent men of science who, setting out toexpose the delusion of Spiritualism, became finally a firmbeliever. It was in 1853 that, in his own words, he "felt calledupon, as an act of duty to his fellow creatures, to bringwhatever influence he possessed to the attempt to stem the tideof popular madness which, in defiance of reason and science, wasfast setting in favour of the gross delusion calledSpiritualism." A denunciatory letter of his published in thenewspapers of Philadelphia, where he lived, was copied by othernewspapers all over the country, and it was made the text ofnumerous sermons. But, as with Sir William Crookes many yearslater, the jubilation was premature. Professor Hare, though astrong sceptic, was induced to experiment for himself, and aftera period of careful testing he became entirely convinced of thespiritual origin of the manifestations. Like Crookes, he devisedapparatus for use with mediums. Mr. S. B. Brittan, editor ofThe Spiritual Telegraph, gives the following condensedaccount of some of Hare's experiments:

First, to satisfy himself that the movementswere not the works of mortals, he took brass billiard balls,placed them on zinc plates and placed the hands of the mediums onthe balls and, to his very great astonishment the tables moved.He next arranged a table to slide backward and forward, to whichattachments were made, causing a disc to revolve containing thealphabet, hidden from the view of the mediums. The letterswere variously arranged, out of their regular consecutive order,and the spirit was required to place them consecutively or intheir regular places. And behold, it was done! Then followedintelligent sentences which the medium could not see or know theimport of till they were told him.

Again he tried another capital test. The longend of a lever was placed on spiral scales with an index attachedand the weight marked; the medium's hand rested on the short endof the beam, where it was impossible to give pressure downward,but if pressed it would have a contrary effect and raise the longend; and yet, most astounding, the weight was increased severalpounds on the scale.

Professor Hare embodied his careful researches and his viewson Spiritualism in an important book published in New York in1855, entitled "Experimental Investigation of the SpiritManifestations." In this (p. 55) he sums up the results of hisearly experiments as follows:

The evidence of the manifestations adduced inthe foregoing narrative does not rest upon myself only, sincethere have been persons present when they were observed, and theyhave in my presence been repeated essentially under variousmodifications in many instances not specially alluded to.

The evidence may be contemplated under variousphases; first, those in which rappings or other noises have beenmade which could not be traced to any mortal agency; secondly,those in which sounds were so made as to indicate letters forminggrammatical, well-spelt sentences, affording proof that they wereunder the guidance of some rational being; thirdly, those inwhich the nature of the communication has been such as to provethat the being causing them must, agreeably to accompanyingallegations, be some known acquaintance, friend, or relative ofthe inquirer.

Again, cases in which movements have been madeof ponderable bodies of a nature to produce intellectualcommunications resembling those obtained, as abovementioned, bysounds.

Although the apparatus by which these variousproofs were attained with the greatest possible precaution andprecision, modified them as to the manner, essentially allthe evidence which I have obtained tending to the conclusionsabove mentioned, has likewise been substantially obtained by agreat number of observers. Many who never sought any spiritualcommunication and have not been induced to enroll themselves asSpiritualists, will nevertheless not only affirm the existence ofthe sounds and movements, but also admit theirinscrutability.

Mr. James J. Mapes, LL.D., of New York, an agriculturalchemist and member of various learned societies, commenced hisinvestigation into Spiritualism in order to rescue, as he said,his friends, who were "running to imbecility" over the new craze.Through the mediumship of Mrs. Cora Hatch, afterwards Mrs.Richmond, he received what are described as marvellous scientificanswers to his questions. He ended by becoming a thoroughbeliever, and his wife, who had no artistic talent, became adrawing and painting medium. His daughter had, unknown to him,become a writing medium, and when she spoke to him about thisdevelopment he asked her to give him an exhibition of her power.She took a pen and rapidly wrote what professed to be a messagefrom Professor Mapes's father. The Professor asked for a proof ofidentity. His daughter's hand at once wrote: "You may recollectthat I gave you, among other books, an Encyclopaedia; look atpage 120 of that book, and you will find my name written there,which you have never seen." The book referred to was stored withothers at a warehouse. When Professor Mapes opened the case,which had been undisturbed for twenty-seven years, to hisastonishment he found his father's name written on page 120. Itwas this incident which first led him to make a seriousinvestigation, for, like his friend Professor Hare, he had uptill that time been a strong materialist.

In April, 1854, the Hon. James Shields presented a memorial,*praying for inquiry, to the United States legislature, withthirteen thousand signatures attached, and with the name ofGovernor Tallmadge at the head of the list. After a frivolousdiscussion, in which Mr. Shields, who presented the petition,referred to the belief held by the petitioners as due to adelusion arising from defective education or deranged mentalfaculties, it was formally agreed that the petition should lieupon the table. Mr. E. W. Capron has this comment**:

*See Capron, Modern Spiritualism, pp.359-363.
** Modern Spiritualism, p. 375. ModernSpiritualism, p. 197.

It is not probable that any of the memorialistsexpected more favourable treatment than they received. Thecarpenters and fishermen of the world are the ones to investigatenew truths and make Senates and Crowns believe and respect them.It is in vain to look for the reception or respect of new truthsby men in high places.

The first regular Spiritualist organization was formed in NewYork on June 10, 1854. It was entitled the "Society for theDiffusion of Spiritual Knowledge," and included among its memberssuch prominent people as Judge Edmonds and Governor Tallmadge, ofWisconsin.

Among the activities of the society was the establishment of anewspaper called The Christian Spiritualist, and the engagementof Miss Kate Fox to hold daily séances, to which the public wereadmitted free each morning from ten till one o'clock.

Writing in 1855 Capron says:

It would be impossible to state particulars inregard to the spread of Spiritualism in New York up to thepresent time. It has become diffused throughout the city, and hasalmost ceased to be a curiosity or a wonder to any. Publicmeetings are regularly held, and the investigation is constantlygoing on, but the days of excitement on the subject have passedaway, and all parties look upon it as, at least, something morethan a mere trick. It is true that religious bigotry denouncesit, but without disputing the occurrences, and occasionally apretended expose' is made for purposes of speculation; but thefact of spiritual intercourse has become an acknowledged fact inthe Empire city.

Perhaps the most significant fact of the period we have beenconsidering was the development of mediumship in prominentpeople, as, for instance, Judge Edmonds and Professor Hare. Thelatter writes*:

Having latterly acquired the powers of a mediumin a sufficient degree to interchange ideas with my spiritfriends, I am no longer under the necessity of defending mediafrom the charge of falsehood and deception. It is now my owncharacter only that can be in question.

* Experimental Investigation Of The SpiritManifestations, p. 54.

Thus, dismissing the Fox girls from the field altogether, wehave the private mediumship of Rev. A. H. Jervis, Deacon Hale,Lyman Granger, Judge Edmonds, Professor Hare, Mrs. Mapes, MissMapes, and the public mediumship of Mrs. Tamlin, Mrs. Benedict,Mrs. Hayden, D.D. Home, and dozens of others.

It is not within the scope of this work to deal with the greatnumber of individual cases of mediumship, some of them mostdramatic and interesting, which occurred during this first periodof demonstration. The reader is referred to Mrs. HardingeBritten's two important compilations, "Modern AmericanSpiritualism" and "Nineteenth Century Miracles," books which willalways be a most valuable record of early days. The series ofphenomenal cases was so great that Mrs. Britten has counted overfive thousand separate instances recorded in the Press in thefirst few years, which probably represents some hundreds ofthousands not so recorded. Religion so-called and Science so-called united for once in an unholy attempt to misrepresent andpersecute the new truth and its supporters, while the Pressunfortunately found that its interest lay in playing up to theprejudices of the majority of its subscribers. It was easy to dothis, for naturally, in so vital and compelling a movement, therewere some who became fanatical, some who threw discredit upontheir opinions by their actions, and some who took advantage ofthe general interest to imitate, with more or less success, thereal gifts of the spirit. These fraudulent rascals were sometimesmere cold-blooded swindlers, and sometimes seem to have been realmediums whose psychic power had for a time deserted them. Therewere scandals and exposures, some real and some pretended. Theseexposures were then, as now, due often to the Spiritualiststhemselves, who strongly objected to their sacred ceremoniesbeing a screen for the hypocrisies and blasphemies of thosevillains who, like human hyenas, tried to make a fraudulentliving out of the dead. The general result was to take the edgeoff the first fine enthusiasm, and to set back the acceptance ofwhat was true by an eternal harping on what was false.

The brave report of Professor Hare led to a disgracefulpersecution of that venerable savant, who was at that moment,with the exception of Agassiz, the best-known man of science inAmerica. The professors of Harvard—a university which has amost unenviable record in psychic matters – passed aresolution denouncing him and his "insane adherence to a gigantichumbug." He could not lose his professorial chair at PennsylvaniaUniversity because that had been already resigned, but hesuffered much in loss of reputation.

The crowning and most absurd instance of scientificintolerance—an intolerance which has always been as violentand unreasonable as that of the mediaeval Church—was shownby the American Scientific Association. This learned body howleddown Professor Hare when he attempted to address them, and put iton record that the subject was unworthy of their attention. Itwas remarked, however, by the Spiritualists, that the samesociety at the same session held an animated debate as to whyco*cks crow between twelve and one at night, coming finally to theconclusion that at that particular hour a wave of electricitypasses over the earth from north to south, and that the fowls,disturbed out of their slumbers and "being naturally of a crowingdisposition," register the event in this fashion. It had not thenbeen learned—and perhaps it has hardly been learnedyet—that a man, or a body of men, may be very wise uponthose subjects on which they are experts, and yet show anextraordinary want of common sense when faced with a newproposition which calls for a complete readjustment of ideas.British science and, indeed, science the whole world over, haveshown the same intolerance and want of elasticity which markedthose early days in America.

These days have been drawn so fully by Mrs. Hardinge Britten,who herself played a large part in them, that those who areinterested can always follow them in her pages. Some notes aboutMrs. Britten herself may, however, be fitly introduced at thisplace, for no history of Spiritualism could be complete withoutan account of this remarkable woman who has been called thefemale St. Paul of the movement. She was a young Englishwoman whohad gone to New York with a theatrical company, and had then,with her mother, remained in America. Being strictly Evangelicalshe was much repelled by what she considered the unorthodox viewsof Spiritualists, and fled in horror from her first séance.Later, in 1856, she was again brought into contact with thesubject and received proofs which made it impossible for her todoubt its truth. She soon discovered that she was herself apowerful medium, and one of the best attested and mostsensational cases in the early history of the movement was thatin which she received intimation that the mail steamerPacific had gone down in mid-Atlantic with all souls, andwas threatened with prosecution by the owners of the boat forrepeating what had been told her by the returning spirit of oneof the crew. The information proved to be only too true, and thevessel was never heard of again.

Mrs. Emma Hardinge—who became, by a second marriage,Mrs. Hardinge Britten—threw her whole enthusiastictemperament into the young movement and left a mark upon it whichis still visible. She was an ideal propagandist, for she combinedevery gift. She was a strong medium, an orator, a writer, a well-balanced thinker and a hardy traveller. Year after year shetravelled the length and breadth of the United States proclaimingthe new doctrine amid much opposition, for she was militant andanti-Christian in the views which she professed to get straightfrom her spirit guides. As these views were, however, that themorals of the Churches were far too lax and that a higherstandard was called for, it is not likely that the Founder ofChristianity would have been among her critics. These opinions ofMrs. Hardinge Britten had more to do with the broadly Unitarianview of the official Spiritualist bodies, which still exists,than any other cause.

In 1866 she returned to England, where she workedindefatigably, producing her two great chronicles, "ModernAmerican Spiritualism" and, later, "Nineteenth Century Miracles,"both of which show an amazing amount of research together with avery clear and logical mind. In 1870 she married Dr. Britten, asstrong a Spiritualist as herself. The marriage seems to have beenan ideally happy one. In 1878 they went together as missionariesfor Spiritualism to Australia and New Zealand, and stayed therefor several years, founding various churches and societies whichthe author found still holding their own when he visited theAntipodes forty years later upon the same errand. While inAustralia she wrote her "Faiths, Facts and Frauds of ReligiousHistory," a book which still influences many minds. There was atthat time undoubtedly a close connexion between the free thoughtmovement and the new spirit revelation. The Hon. Robert Stout,Attorney-General of New Zealand, was both President of the FreeThought Association and an ardent Spiritualist. It is moreclearly understood now, however, that spirit intercourse andteaching are too wide to be fitted into any system, whethernegative or positive, and that it is possible for a Spiritualistto profess any creed so long as he has the essentials ofreverence to the unseen and unselfishness to those aroundhim.

Among other monuments of her energy, Mrs. Hardinge Brittenfounded The Two Worlds of Manchester, which has still aslarge a circulation as any Spiritualistic paper in the world. Shepassed onwards in 1899, having left her mark deep upon thereligious life of three continents.

This has been a long but necessary digression from the accountof the early days of American progress. Those early days weremarked by great enthusiasm, much success, and also considerablepersecution. All the leaders who had anything to lose lost it.Mrs. Hardinge says:

Judge Edmonds was pointed at in the streets as acrazy Spiritualist. Wealthy merchants were compelled to asserttheir claims to be considered sane and maintain their commercialrights by the most firm and determined action. Professional menand tradesmen were reduced to the limits of ruin, and arelentless persecution, originated by the Press and maintained bythe pulpit, directed the full flow of its evil tides against thecause and its representatives. Many of the houses where circleswere being held were disturbed by crowds who would gathertogether after nightfall and with yells, cries, whistles andoccasional breaking of windows try to molest the quietinvestigators in their unholy work of "waking the dead," as oneof the papers piously denominated the act of seeking for the"Ministry of Angels."

Passing the smaller ebb and flow of the movement, the risingof new true mediums, the exposure of occasional false ones, thecommittees of inquiry (negatived often by the want of perceptionof the inquirers that a psychic circle depends for success uponthe psychic condition of all its members), the developmentof fresh phenomena and the conversion of new initiates, there area few outstanding incidents of those early days which should beparticularly noted. Prominent among them is the mediumship ofD.D. Home, and of the two Davenport boys, which form suchimportant episodes, and attracted public attention to such adegree and for so long a time, that they are treated in separatechapters. There are, however, certain lesser mediumships whichcall for a shorter notice.

One of these was that of Linton, the blacksmith, a man who wasquite illiterate and yet, like A. J. Davis, wrote a remarkablebook under alleged spirit control. This book of 530 pages, called"The Healing of the Nations," is certainly a remarkableproduction whatever its source, and it is obviously impossiblethat it could have been normally produced by such an author. Itis adorned by a very long preface from the pen of GovernorTallmadge, which shows that the worthy senator was no meanstudent of antiquity. The case from the point of view of theclassics and the early Church has seldom been better stated.

In 1857 Harvard University again made itself notorious by thepersecution and expulsion of a student named Fred Willis, for thepractice of medium ship. It would almost seem that the spirit ofCotton Mather and the old witch-finders of Salem had descendedupon the great Boston seat of learning, for in those early daysit was constantly at issue with those unseen forces which no onecan hope to conquer. This matter began by an intemperate attemptupon the part of a Professor Eustis to prove that Willis wasfraudulent, whereas all the evidence shows clearly that he was atrue sensitive, who shrank greatly from any public use of hispowers. The matter caused considerable excitement and scandal atthe time. This and other cases of hard usage may be cited, but itmust nevertheless be acknowledged that the hope of gain on theone hand, and the mental effervescence caused by so terrific arevelation on the other, did at this period lead to a degree ofdishonesty in some so-called mediums, and to fanatical excessesand grotesque assertions in others, which held back thatimmediate success which the more sane and steady Spiritualistsexpected and deserved.

One curious phase of mediumship which attracted much attentionwas that of a farmer, Jonathan Koons and his family, living in awild district of Ohio. The phenomena obtained by the Eddybrothers are discussed at some length in a subsequent chapter,and as those of the Koons family were much on the same lines theyneed not be treated in detail. The use of musical instrumentscame largely into the demonstrations of spirit force, and theKoons's log-house became celebrated through all the adjoiningstates—so celebrated that it was constantly crowded,although it was situated some seventy miles from the nearesttown. It would appear to have been a case of true physicalmediumship of a crude quality, as might be expected where a rudeuncultured farmer was the physical centre of it. Manyinvestigations were held, but the facts always remained untouchedby criticism. Eventually, however, Koons and his family weredriven from their home by the persecution of the ignorant peopleamong whom they lived. The rude open-air life of the farmer seemsto be particularly adapted to the development of strong physicalmediumship. It was in an American farmer's household that itfirst developed, and Koons in Ohio, the Eddys in Vermont, Foss inMassachusetts, and many others, have shown the same powers.

We may fitly end this short review of the early days inAmerica by an event where spirit intervention proved to be ofimportance in the world's history. This was the instance of theinspired messages which determined the action of Abraham Lincolnat the supreme moment of the Civil War. The facts are beyonddispute, and are given with the corroborative evidence in Mrs.Maynard's book on Abraham Lincoln. Mrs. Maynard's maiden name wasNettie Colburn, and she was herself the heroine of the story.

The young lady was a powerful trance medium, and she visitedWashington in the winter of 1862 in order to see her brother whowas in the hospital of the Federal Army. Mrs. Lincoln, the wifeof the President, who was interested in Spiritualism, had asitting with Miss Colburn, was enormously impressed by theresult, and sent a carriage next day to bring the medium to seethe President. She describes the kindly way in which the greatman received her in the parlour of the White House, and mentionsthe names of those who were present. She sat down, passed intothe usual trance, and remembered no more. She continued thus:

For more than an hour I was made to talk to him,and I learned from my friends afterwards that it was upon mattersthat he seemed fully to understand, while they comprehended verylittle until that portion was reached that related to theforthcoming Emancipation Proclamation. He was charged with theutmost solemnity and force of manner not to abate the terms ofits issue and not to delay its enforcement as a law beyond theopening of the year; and he was assured that it was to be thecrowning event of his administration and his life; and that whilehe was being counselled by strong parties to defer theenforcement of it, hoping to supplant it by other measures and todelay action, he must in no wise heed such counsel, but standfirm to his convictions and fearlessly perform the work andfulfil the mission for which he had been raised up by anoverruling Providence. Those present declared that they lostsight of the timid girl in the majesty of the utterance, thestrength and force of the language, and the importance of thatwhich was conveyed, and seemed to realize that some strongmasculine spirit force was giving speech to almost divinecommands.

I shall never forget the scene around me when Iregained consciousness. I was standing in front of Mr. Lincoln,and he was sitting back in his chair, with his arms folded uponhis breast, looking intently at me. I stepped back, naturallyconfused at the situation—not remembering at once where Iwas; and glancing around the group where perfect silence reigned.It took me a moment to remember my whereabouts.

A gentleman present then said in a low tone,"Mr. President, did you notice anything peculiar in the method ofaddress?" Mr. Lincoln raised himself, as if shaking off hisspell. He glanced quickly at the full-length portrait of DanielWebster that hung above the piano, and replied: "Yes, and it isvery singular, very!" with a marked emphasis.

Mr. Somes said: "Mr. President, would it beimproper for me to inquire whether there has been any pressurebrought to bear upon you to defer the enforcement of theProclamation?" To which the President replied "Under thesecirc*mstances that question is perfectly proper, as we are allfriends." (Smiling upon the company). "It is taking all my nerveand strength to withstand such a pressure." At this point thegentlemen drew around him and spoke together in low tones, Mr.Lincoln saying least of all. At last he turned to me, and layinghis hand upon my head, uttered these words in a manner I shallnever forget. "My child, you possess a very singular gift, butthat it is of God I have no doubt. I thank you for coming hereto-night. It is more important than perhaps anyone present canunderstand. I must leave you all now, but I hope I shall see youagain." He shook me kindly by the hand, bowed to the rest of thecompany, and was gone. We remained an hour longer, talking withMrs. Lincoln and her friends, and then returned to Georgetown.Such was my first interview with Abraham Lincoln, and the memoryof it is as clear and vivid as the evening on which itoccurred.

This was one of the most important instances in the history ofSpiritualism, and may also have been one of the most important inthe history of the United States, as it not only strengthened thePresident in taking a step which raised the whole moral tone ofthe Northern armies and put something of the crusading spiritinto the men, but a subsequent message urged Lincoln to visit thecamps, which he did with the best effect upon the moraleof the army. And yet the reader might, I fear, search everyhistory of the great struggle and every life of the Presidentwithout finding a mention of this vital episode. It is all partof that unfair treatment which Spiritualism has endured solong.

It is impossible that the United States, if it appreciated thetruth, would allow the cult which proved its value at the darkestmoment of its history to be persecuted and repressed by ignorantpolicemen and bigoted magistrates in the way which is now socommon, or that the Press should continue to make mock of themovement which produced the Joan of Arc of their country.


VII. — THE DAWN INENGLAND

THE early Spiritualists have frequently beencompared with the early Christians, and there are indeed manypoints of resemblance. In one respect, however, the Spiritualistshad an advantage. The women of the older dispensation did theirpart nobly, living as saints and dying as martyrs, but they didnot figure as preachers and missionaries. Psychic power andpsychic knowledge are, however, as great in one sex as inanother, and therefore many of the great pioneers of thespiritual revelation were women. Especially may this be claimedfor Emma Hardinge Britten, one whose name will grow more famousas the years roll by. There have, however, been several otherwomen missionaries outstanding, and the most important of thesefrom the British point of view is Mrs. Hayden, who first in theyear 1852 brought the new phenomena to these shores. We had ofold the Apostles of religious faith. Here at last was an apostleof religious fact.

Mrs. Hayden was a remarkable woman as well as an excellentmedium. She was the wife of a respectable New England journalistwho accompanied her in her mission, which had been organized byone Stone, who had some experience of her powers in America.

At the time of her visit she was described as being "young,intelligent, and at the same time simple and candid in hermanners." Her British critic added:

She disarmed suspicion by the unaffectedartlessness of her address, and many who came to amuse themselvesat her expense were shamed into respect and even cordiality bythe patience and good temper which she displayed. The impressioninvariably left by an interview with her was that if, as Mr.Dickens contended, the phenomena developed by her were attributedto art, she herself was the most perfect artist, as far as actingwent, that had ever presented herself before the public.

The ignorant British Press treated Mrs. Hayden as a commonAmerican adventuress. Her real mental calibre, however, may bejudged from the fact that some years later, after her return tothe United States, Mrs. Hayden graduated as a doctor of medicineand practised for fifteen years. Dr. James Rodes Buchanan, thefamous pioneer in psychometry, speaks of her as "one of the mostskilful and successful physicians I have ever known." She wasoffered a medical professorship in an American college, and wasemployed by the Globe Insurance Company in protecting the companyagainst losses in insurance on lives. A feature of her successwas what Buchanan describes as her psychometric genius. He adds aunique tribute to the effect that her name was almost forgottenat the Board of Health because for years she had not a singledeath to report.

This sequel, however, was beyond the knowledge of the scepticsof 1852, and they cannot be blamed for insisting that thesestrange claims of other-world intervention should be tested withthe utmost rigour before they could be admitted. No one couldcontest this critical attitude. But what does seem strange isthat a proposition which, if true, would involve such gladtidings as the piercing of the wall of death and a true communionof the saints, should arouse not sober criticism, howeverexacting, but a storm of insult and abuse, inexcusable at anytime, but particularly so when directed against a lady who was avisitor in our midst. Mrs. Hardinge Britten says that Mrs. Haydenno sooner appeared upon the scene than the leaders of the Press,pulpit and college levelled against her a storm of ribaldry,persecution and insult, alike disgraceful to themselves andhumiliating to the boasted liberalism and scientific acumen oftheir age. She added that her gentle womanly spirit must havebeen deeply pained, and the harmony of mind so essential to theproduction of good psychological results constantly destroyed, bythe cruel and insulting treatment she received at the hands ofmany of those who came, pretending to be investigators, but inreality burning to thwart her, and laying traps to falsify thetruths of which Mrs. Hayden professed to be the instrument.Sensitively alive to the animus of her visitors, she could feel,and often writhed under the crushing force of the antagonismbrought to bear upon her, without—at that time –knowing how to repel or resist it.

At the same time, the whole nation was not involved in thisirrational hostility, which in a diluted form we still see aroundus. Brave men arose who were not afraid to imperil their worldlycareer, or even their reputation for sanity, by championing anunpopular cause with no possible motive save the love of truthand that sense of chivalry which revolted at the persecution of awoman. Dr. Ashburner, one of the Royal physicians, and SirCharles Isham, were among those who defended the medium in thepublic Press.

Mrs. Hayden's mediumship seems, when judged by modernstandards, to have been strictly limited in type. Save for theraps, we hear little of physical phenomena, nor is there anyquestion of lights, materializations or Direct Voices. Inharmonious company, however, the answers as furnished by rapswere very accurate and convincing. Like all true mediums, she wassensitive to discord in her surroundings, with the result thatthe contemptible crew of practical jokers and ill-naturedresearchers who visited her found her a ready victim. Deceit isrepaid by deceit and the fool is answered according to his folly,though the intelligence behind the words seems to care little forthe fact that the passive instrument employed may be heldaccountable for the answer. These pseudo-researchers filled thePress with their humorous accounts of how they had deceived thespirits, when as a fact they had rather deceived themselves.George Henry Lewes, afterwards consort of George Eliot, was oneof these cynical investigators. He recounts with glee how he hadasked the control in writing: "Is Mrs. Hayden an impostor?" towhich the control rapped out: "Yes." Lewes was dishonest enoughto quote this afterwards as being a confession of guilt from Mrs.Hayden. One would rather draw from it the inference that the rapswere entirely independent of the medium, and also that questionsasked in a spirit of pure frivolity met with no seriousreply.

It is, however, by the positives and not by the negatives thatsuch questions must be judged, and the author must here usequotations to a larger extent than is his custom, for in no otherway can one bring home how those seeds were first planted inEngland which are destined to grow to such a goodly height.Allusion has already been made to the testimony of Dr. Ashburner,the famous physician, and it would be well perhaps to add some ofhis actual words. He says*:

Sex ought to have protected her from injury, ifyou gentlemen of the Press have no regard to the hospitablefeelings due to one of your own cloth, for Mrs. Hayden is thewife of a former editor and proprietor of a journal in Bostonhaving a most extensive circulation in New England. I declare toyou that Mrs. Hayden is no impostor, and he who has the daring tocome to an opposite conclusion must do so at the peril of hischaracter for truth.

* The Leader, March 14, 1853; June 1and 8, 1853.

Again, in a long letter to The Reasoner, afteradmitting that he visited the medium in a thoroughly incredulousframe of mind, expecting to witness "the same class oftransparent absurdities" he had previously encountered with otherso-called mediums, Ashburner writes: "As for Mrs. Hayden, I haveso strong a conviction of her perfect honesty that I marvel atanyone who could deliberately accuse her of fraud," and at thesame time he gives detailed accounts of veridical communicationshe received.

Among the investigators was the celebrated mathematician andphilosopher, Professor De Morgan. He gives some account of hisexperiences and conclusions in his long and masterly preface tohis wife's book, "From Matter to Spirit," 1863, as follows:

Ten years ago Mrs. Hayden, the well-knownAmerican medium, came to my house alone. The sitting beganimmediately after her arrival. Eight or nine persons of all ages,and of all degrees of belief and unbelief in the whole thingbeing imposture, were present. The raps began in the usual way.They were to my ear clean, clear, faint sounds such as would besaid to ring, had they lasted. I likened them at the time to thenoise which the ends of knitting-needles would make, if droppedfrom a small distance upon a marble slab, and instantly checkedby a damper of some kind; and subsequent trial showed that mydescription was tolerably accurate . At a late period in theevening, after nearly three hours of experiment, Mrs. Haydenhaving risen, and talking at another table while takingrefreshment, a child suddenly called out, "Will all the spiritswho have been here this evening rap together?" The words were nosooner uttered than a hailstorm of knitting-needles was heard,crowded into certainly less than two seconds; the big needlesounds of the men, and the little ones of the women and children,being clearly distinguishable, but perfectly disorderly in theirarrival.

After a remark to the effect that for convenience he intendsto speak of the raps as coming from spirits, Professor De Morgangoes on:

On being asked to put a question to the firstspirit, I begged that I might be allowed to put my questionmentally—that is, without speaking it, or writing it, orpointing it out to myself on an alphabet —and that Mrs.Hayden might hold both arms extended while the answer was inprogress. Both demands were instantly granted by a couple ofraps. I put the question and desired the answer might be in oneword, which I assigned; all mentally.

I then took the printed alphabet, put a bookupright before it, and, bending my eyes upon it, proceeded topoint to the letters in the usual way. The word "chess" was givenby a rap at each letter. I had now a reasonable certainty of thefollowing alternative: either some thought-reading of a characterwholly inexplicable, or such superhuman acuteness on the part ofMrs. Hayden that she could detect the letter I wanted by mybearing, though she (seated six feet from the book which hid myalphabet) could see neither my hand nor my eye, nor at what rateI was going through the letters. I was fated to be driven out ofthe second alternative before the sitting was done.

As the next incident of the sitting, which he goes on torelate, is given with extra details in a letter written ten yearsearlier to the Rev. W. Heald, we quote this version published inhis wife's "Memoir of Augustus De Morgan" (pp. 221-2):

Presently came my father (OB., 1816), andafter some conversation I went on as follows:

"Do you remember a periodical I have in myhead?" "Yes." "Do you remember the epithets therein applied toyourself?" "Yes." "Will you give me the initials of them by thecard?" "Yes." I then began pointing to the alphabet, with a bookto conceal the card, Mrs. H. being at the opposite side of around table (large), and a bright lamp between us. I pointedletter by letter till I came to F, which I thought should be thefirst initial. No rapping. The people round me said, "You havepassed it; there was a rapping at the beginning." I went back andheard the rapping distinctly at C. This puzzled me, but in amoment I saw what it was. The sentence was begun by the rappingagency earlier than I intended. I allowed C to pass, and then gotD T F O C, being the initials of the consecutive words which Iremembered to have been applied to my father in an old reviewpublished in 1817, which no one in the room had ever heard of butmyself. C D T F O C was all right, and when I got so far I gaveit up, perfectly satisfied that something, or somebody, or somespirit, was reading my thoughts. This and the like went on fornearly three hours, during a great part of which Mrs. H. was busyreading the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," which she had never seenbefore, and I assure you she set to it with just as much avidityas you may suppose an American lady would who saw it for thefirst time, while we were amusing ourselves with the raps in ourown way. All this I declare to be literally true. Since that timeI have seen it in my house frequently, various persons presentingthemselves. The answers are given mostly by the table, on which ahand or two is gently placed, tilting up at the letters. There ismuch which is confused in the answers, but every now and thencomes something which surprises us. I have no theory about it,but in a year or two something curious may turn up. I am,however, satisfied of the reality of the phenomenon. A great manyother persons are as cognizant of these phenomena in their ownhouses as myself. Make what you can of it if you are aphilosopher.

When Professor De Morgan says that some spirit was reading histhoughts, he omits to observe that the incident of the firstletter was evidence of something that was not in his mind. Also,from Mrs. Hayden's attitude throughout the séance, it is clearthat it was her atmosphere rather than her actual consciouspersonality which was concerned. Some further important evidencefrom the De Morgans is relegated to the Appendix.

Mrs. Fitzgerald, a well-known figure in the early days ofSpiritualism in London, gives, in The Spiritualist ofNovember 22, 1878, the following very striking experience withMrs. Hayden:

My first introduction to Spiritualism commencedat the time of the first visit of the well-known medium, Mrs.Hayden, to this country nearly thirty years ago. I was invited tomeet her at a party given by a friend in Wimpole Street, London.Having made a pre-engagement for that evening, which I could notavoid, I arrived late, after what appeared an extraordinaryscene, of which they were all talking with great animation. Mylook of blank disappointment was noticed, and Mrs. Hayden, whom Ithen met for the first time, came most kindly forward, expressedher regrets, and suggested that I should sit at a small table bymyself apart from the others, and she would ask the spirits ifthey would communicate with me. All this appeared so new andsurprising I scarcely understood what she was talking about, orwhat I had to expect. She placed before me a printed alphabet, apencil, and a piece of paper. Whilst she was in the act of doingthis, I felt extraordinarily rappings all over the table, thevibrations from which I could feel on the sole of my foot as itrested against the table's leg. She then directed me to note downeach letter at which I heard a distinct rap, and with this shortexplanation she left me to myself. I pointed as desired—adistinct rap came at the letter E—others followed, and aname that I could not fail to recognize was spelt out. The dateof death was given, which I had not before known, and a messageadded which brought back to my memory the almost last dying wordsof an old friend—namely, "I shall watch over you." And thenthe recollection of the whole scene was brought vividly beforeme. I confess I was startled and somewhat awed.

I carried the paper upon which all this waswritten at the dictation of my spirit friend to his former legaladviser, and was assured by him that the dates, etc., wereperfectly correct. They could not have been in my mind because Iwas not aware of them.

It is interesting to note that Mrs. Fitzgerald stated that shebelieved that Mrs. Hayden's first séance in England was held withLady Combermere, her son, Major Cotton, and Mr. Henry Thompson,of York.

In the same volume of The Spiritualist (p. 264) thereappears an account of a séance with Mrs. Hayden, taken from thelife of Charles Young, the well-known tragedian, written by hisson, the Rev. Julian Young:

1853, April 19th. I went up to Londonthis day for the purpose of consulting my lawyers on a subject ofsome importance to myself, and having heard much of a Mrs.Hayden, an American lady, as a spiritual medium, I resolved, as Iwas in town, to discover her whereabouts, and judge of her giftsfor myself. Accidentally meeting an old friend, Mr. H., I askedhim if he could give me her address. He told me that it was 22,Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square. As he had never been in hercompany, and had a great wish to see her, and yet was unwillingto pay his guinea for the treat, I offered to frank him, if hewould go with me. He did so gladly. Spirit-rapping has been socommon since 1853 that I should irritate my reader's patience bydescribing the conventional mode of communicating between theliving and the dead. Since the above date I have seen very muchof spirit-rapping; and though my organs of wonder are largelydeveloped, and I have a weakness for the mystic and supernatural,yet I cannot say that I have ever witnessed any spiritualphenomena which were not explicable on natural grounds, except inthe instance I am about to give, in which collusion appeared tobe out of the question, the friend who accompanied me neverhaving seen Mrs. Hayden, and she knowing neither his name normine. The following dialogue took place between Mrs. H. andmyself:

Mrs. H.: Have you, sir, any wish to communicatewith the spirit of any departed friend?

J. C. Y.: Yes.

Mrs. H.: Be pleased then to ask your questionsin the manner prescribed by the formula, and I dare say you willget satisfactory replies.

J. C. Y.: (Addressing himself to one invisibleyet supposed to be present): Tell me the name of the person withwhom I wish to communicate.

The letters written down according to thedictation of the taps when put together spelt "George WilliamYoung."

J. C. Y.: On whom are my thoughts now fixed?

A.: Frederick William Young.

J. C. Y.: What is he suffering from?

A.: Tic douloureux.

J. C. Y.: Can you prescribe anything forhim?

A.: Powerful mesmerism.

J. C. Y.: Who should be the administrator?

A.: Someone who has strong sympathy with thepatient.

J. C. Y.: Should I succeed?

A.: No.

J. C. Y.: Who would?

A.: Joseph Ries. (A gentleman whom my uncle muchrespected.)

J. C. Y.: Have I lost any friend lately?

A.: Yes.

J. C. Y.: Who is it? (I thinking of a MissYoung, a distant cousin.)

A.: Christiana Lane.

J. C. Y.: Can you tell me where I sleep to-night?

A.: James B.'s, Esq., 9 Clarges Street.

J. C. Y.: Where do I sleep to-morrow?

A.: Colonel Weymouth's, Upper GrosvenorStreet.

I was so astounded by the correctness of theanswers I received to my inquiries that I told the gentleman whowas with me that I wanted particularly to ask a question to thenature of which I did not wish him to be privy, and that I shouldbe obliged to him if he would go into the adjoining room for afew minutes. On his doing so I resumed my dialogue with Mrs.Hayden.

J. C. Y.: I have induced my friend to withdrawbecause I did not wish him to know the question I want to put,but I am equally anxious that you should not know it either, andyet, if I understand rightly, no answer can be transmitted to meexcept through you. What is to be done under thesecirc*mstances?

Mrs. H.: Ask your question in such a form thatthe answer returned shall represent by one word the salient ideain your mind.

J. C. Y.: I will try. Will what I am threatenedwith take place?

A.: No.

J. C. Y.: That is unsatisfactory. It is easy tosay Yes or No, but the value of the affirmation or negation willdepend on the conviction I have that you know what I am thinkingof. Give me one word which shall show that you have the clue tomy thoughts.

A.: Will.

Now, a will by which I had benefited wasthreatened to be disputed. I wished to know whether the threatwould be carried out. The answer I received was correct.

It may be added that Mr. Young had no belief, before or afterthis séance, in spirit agency, which surely, after such anexperience, is no credit to his intelligence or capacity forassimilating fresh knowledge.

The following letter in The Spiritualist from Mr. JohnMalcom, of Clifton, Bristol, mentions some well-known sitters.Discussing the question that had been raised as to where thefirst séance in England was held and who were the witnessespresent at it, he says:

I do not remember the date; but calling on myfriend Mrs. Crowe, authoress of "The Night Side of Nature," sheinvited me to accompany her to a spiritual séance at the house ofMrs. Hayden in Queen Anne Street, Cavendish Square. She informedme that Mrs. Hayden had just arrived from America to exhibit thephenomena of Spiritualism to people in England who might feelinterested in the subject. There were present Mrs. Crowe, Mrs.Milner Gibson, Mr. Colley Grattan (author of "High Ways and ByeWays"), Mr. Robert Chambers, Dr. Daniels, Dr. Samuel Dickson, andseveral others whose names I did not hear. Some very remarkablemanifestations occurred on that occasion. I afterwards hadfrequent opportunities of visiting Mrs. Hayden, and, though atfirst disposed to doubt the genuineness of the phenomena, suchconvincing evidence was given me of spirit communion that Ibecame a firm believer in the truth of it.

The battle in the British Press raged furiously. In thecolumns of The London Critic, Mr. Henry Spicer (author of"Sights and Sounds") replied to the critics in HouseholdWords, The Leader, and The Zoist. Therefollowed in the same newspaper a lengthy contribution from aCambridge clergyman, signing himself "M.A.," considered to be theRev. A. W. Hobson, of St. John's College, Cambridge.

This gentleman's description is graphic and powerful, but toolong for complete transcription. The matter is of someimportance, as the writer is, so far as is known, the firstEnglish clergyman who had gone into the matter. It is strange,and perhaps characteristic of the age, how little the religiousimplications appear to have struck the various sitters, and howentirely occupied they were by inquiries as to theirgrandmother's second name or the number of their uncles. Even themore earnest seem to have been futile in their questions, and noone shows the least sense of realization of the realpossibilities of such commerce, or that a firm foundation forreligious belief could at last be laid. This clergyman did,however, in a purblind way, see that there was a religious sideto the matter. He finishes his report with the paragraph:

I will conclude with a few words to the numerousclerical readers of the Critic. Being myself a clergymanof the Church of England, I consider that the subject is one inwhich my brother clergy must, sooner or later, take someinterest, however reluctant they may be to have anything to dowith it. And my reasons are briefly as follow: If such excitementbecome general in this country as already exists inAmerica—and what reason have we to suppose that it willnot?—then the clergy throughout the kingdom will beappealed to on all sides, will have to give an opinion, and mayprobably be obliged, by their very duties, to interfere andendeavour to prevent the delusions to which, in many cases, this"mystery" has already led. One of the most sensible and ablewriters on the subject of these spirit manifestations in America,viz., Adin Ballou, in his work has expressly cautioned hisreaders not to believe all these spirits communicate, nor allowthemselves to give up their former opinions and religious creeds(as so many thousands have done) at the bidding of these rappers.The thing has scarcely begun in England as yet; but already,within the few months since Mr. and Mrs. Hayden arrived inLondon, it has spread like wild-fire, and I have good reason forsaying that the excitement is only commencing. Persons who atfirst treated the whole affair as a contemptible imposture andhumbug, on witnessing these strange things for themselves, becomefirst startled and astonished, then rush blindly into all sortsof mad conclusions—as, for instance, that it is all thework of the devil, or (in the opposite degree) that it is a newrevelation from Heaven. I see scores of the most able andintelligent people whom I know utterly and completely mystifiedby it; and no one knows what to make of it. I am ready toconfess, for my own part, that I am equally mystified. That it isnot imposture, I feel perfectly and fully convinced. In additionto the tests, etc., above-named, I had a long conversation inprivate with both Mr. and Mrs. Hayden separately, and everythingthey said bore the marks of sincerity and good faith. Of course,this is no evidence to other people, but it is to me. If there isany deception, they are as much deceived as any of theirdupes.

It was not the clergy but the Free Thinkers who perceived thereal meaning of the message, and that they must either fightagainst this proof of life eternal, or must honestly confess, asso many of us have done since, that their philosophy wasshattered, and that they had been beaten on their own ground.These men had called for proofs in transcendent matters, and themore honest and earnest were forced to admit that they had hadthem. The noblest of them all was Robert Owen, as famous for hishumanitarian works as for his sturdy independence in religiousmatters. This brave and honest man declared publicly that thefirst rays of this rising sun had struck him and had gilded thedrab future which he had pictured. He said:

I have patiently traced the history of thesemanifestations, investigated the facts connected with them(testified to in innumerable instances by persons of highcharacter), have had fourteen séances with the medium Mrs.Hayden, during which she gave me every opportunity to ascertainif it were possible there could be any deception on her part.

I am not only convinced that there is no deception withtruthful media in these proceedings, but that they are destinedto effect, at this period, the greatest class="quote" moralrevolution in the character and condition of the human race.

Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten comments on the interest andastonishment created by the conversion of Robert Owen, theinfluence of whose purely materialistic belief was regarded asexerting an injurious effect on religion. She says that one ofEngland's most prominent statesmen declared "that Mrs. Haydendeserved a monument, if only for the conversion of RobertOwen."

Shortly afterwards the famous Dr. Elliotson, who was thepresident of the Secular Society, was also converted after, likeSt. Paul, violently assailing the new revelation. He and Dr.Ashburner had been two of the most prominent supporters ofmesmerism in the days when even that obvious phenomenon had tofight for its existence, and when every medical man who affirmedit was in danger of being called a quack. It was painful to bothof them, therefore, when Dr. Ashburner threw himself into thishigher subject with enthusiasm, while his friend was constrainednot only to reject but actively to attack it. However, the breachwas healed by the complete conversion of Elliotson, and Mrs.Hardinge Britten relates how in his declining years he insistedupon her coming to him, and how she found him a "warm adherent ofSpiritualism, a faith which the venerable gentleman cherished asthe brightest revelation that had ever been vouchsafed to him,and one which finally smoothed the dark passage to the lifebeyond, and made his transition a scene of triumphant faith andjoyful anticipation."

As might have been expected, it was not long before the rapidgrowth of table phenomena compelled scientific sceptics torecognize their existence, or at least to take steps to exposethe delusion of those who attributed to the movements an externalorigin. Braid, Carpenter, and Faraday stated publicly that theresults obtained were due simply to unconscious muscular action.Faraday devised ingenious apparatus which he consideredconclusively proved his assertion. But, like so many othercritics, Faraday had had no experience with a good medium, andthe well-attested fact of the movement of tables without contactis sufficient to demolish his pretty theories. If one couldimagine a layman without a telescope contradicting with jeers andcontempt the conclusions of those astronomers who had usedtelescopes, it would present some analogy to those people whohave ventured to criticize psychic matters without having had anypersonal psychic experience.

The contemporary spirit is no doubt voiced by Sir DavidBrewster. Speaking of an invitation from Monckton Milnes to meetMr. Galla, the African traveller, "who assured him that Mrs.Hayden told him the names of persons and places in Africa whichnobody but himself knew," Sir David comments, "The world isobviously going mad."

Mrs. Hayden remained in England about a year, returning toAmerica towards the close of 1853. Some day, when these mattershave found their true proportion to other events, her visit willbe regarded as historical and epoch-making. Two other Americanmediums were in England during her visit —Mrs. Roberts andMiss Jay—having followed shortly after, but they appear tohave had little influence on the movement, and seem to have beenvery inferior in psychic power.

A contemporary sidelight on those early days is afforded bythis extract from an article on Spiritualism in TheYorkshireman (October 25, 1856), a non-Spiritualistjournal:

The English public in general, we believe, arebut imperfectly acquainted with the nature of the Spiritualistdoctrines, and many of our readers are, doubtless, unprepared tobelieve that they prevail to any extent in this country. Theordinary phenomena of table-moving, etc., are, it is true,familiar to most of us. Some two or three years ago there was notan evening party which did not essay the performance of aSpiritualist miracle . In those days you were invited to "Tea andTable Moving" as a new excitement, and made to revolve with thefamily like mad round articles of furniture.

After declaring that Faraday's attack made "the spiritssuddenly subside," so that for a time no more was heard of theirdoings, the journal continues:

We have ample evidence, however, thatSpiritualism as a vital and active belief is not confined to theUnited States, but that it has found favour and acceptance amonga considerable class of enthusiasts in our own country.

But the general attitude of the influential Press was much thesame then as now—ridicule and denial of the facts, and theview that even if the facts were true, of what use were they?The Times, for instance (a paper which has been very ill-informed and reactionary in psychic matters), in a leadingarticle of a little later date suggests:

It would be something to get one's hat off thepeg by an effort of volition, without going to fetch it, ortroubling a servant.

If table-power could be made to turn even acoffee-mill, it would be so much gained.

Let our mediums and clairvoyants, instead offinding out what somebody died of fifty years ago, find out whatfigure the Funds will be at this day three months.

When one reads such comments in a great paper one wonderswhether the movement was not really premature, and whether in sobase and material an age the idea of outside intervention was notimpossible to grasp. Much of this opposition was due, however, tothe frivolity of inquirers who had not as yet realized the fullsignificance of these signals from beyond, and used them, as theYorkshire paper states, as a sort of social recreation and a newexcitement for jaded worldlings.

But while in the eyes of the Press the death-blow had beengiven to a discredited movement, investigation went on quietly inmany quarters. People of common sense, as Howitt points out,"were successfully testing those angels, under their own mode ofadvent, and finding them real," for, as he well says, publicmediums have never done more than inaugurate the movement."

If one were to judge from the public testimony of the time,Mrs. Hayden's influence might be considered to have been limitedin extent. To the public at large she was only a nine days'wonder, but she scattered much seed which slowly grew. The factis, she opened the subject up, and people, mostly in the humblerwalks of life, began to experiment and to discover the truth forthemselves, though, with a caution born of experience, they kepttheir discoveries for the most part to themselves. Mrs. Hayden,without doubt, fulfilled her ordained task.

The history of the movement may well be compared to anadvancing sea with its successive crests and troughs, each crestgathering more volume than the last. With every trough thespectator has thought that the waves had ended, and then thegreat new billow gathered. The time between the leaving of Mrs.Hayden in 1853 until the advent of D.D. Home in 1855 representsthe first lull in England. Superficial critics thought it was theend. But in a thousand homes throughout the land experiments werebeing carried on; many who had lost all faith in the things ofthe spirit, in what was perhaps the deadest and most material agein the world's history, had begun to examine the evidence and tounderstand with relief or with awe that the age of faith waspassing and that the age of knowledge, which St. Peter has saidto be better, was at hand. Devout students of the Scripturesremember the words of their Master: "I have yet many things tosay unto you, but ye cannot bear them now," and wondered whetherthese strange stirrings of outside forces might not be part ofthat new knowledge which had been promised.

Whilst Mrs. Hayden had thus planted the first seeds in London,a second train of events had brought spiritual phenomena underthe notice of the people of Yorkshire.

This was due to a visit of a Mr. David Richmond, an AmericanShaker, to the town of Keighley, when he called upon Mr. DavidWeatherhead and interested him in the new development. Tablemanifestations were obtained and local mediums discovered, sothat a flourishing centre was built up which still exists. FromYorkshire the movement spread over Lancashire, and it is aninteresting link with the past that Mr. Wolstenholme, ofBlackburn, who died in 1925 at a venerable age, was able as a boyto secrete himself under a table at one of these early séances,where he witnessed, though we will hope that he did not aid, thephenomena. A paper, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph, wasstarted at Keighley in 1855, this and other expenses being borneby David Weatherhead, whose name should be honoured as one whowas the first to throw his whole heart into the movement.Keighley is still an active centre of psychic work andknowledge.

VIII. — CONTINUED PROGRESSIN ENGLAND

MRS. DE MORGAN'S account of ten years'experience of Spiritualism covers the ground from 1853 to 1863.The appearance of this book, with the weighty preface byProfessor De Morgan, was one of the first signs that the newmovement was spreading upwards as well as among the masses. Thencame the work of D.D. Home and of the Davenports, which isdetailed elsewhere. The examination of the Dialectical Societybegan in 1869, which is also dealt with in a later chapter. Theyear 1870 was the date of the first researches of WilliamCrookes, which he undertook after remarking upon the scandalcaused by the refusal of scientific men "to investigate theexistence and nature of facts asserted by so many competent andcredible witnesses." In the same periodical, the Quarterlyjournal of Science, he spoke of this belief being shared bymillions, and added: "I wish to ascertain the laws governing theappearance of very remarkable phenomena, which, at the presenttime, are occurring to an almost incredible extent."

The story of his research was given in full in 1874, andcaused such a tumult among the more fossilized men ofscience—those who may be said to have had their mindssubdued to that at which they worked—that there was sometalk of depriving him of his Fellowship of the Royal Society. Thestorm blew over, but Crookes was startled by its violence, and itwas noticeable that for many years, until his position wasimpregnable, he was very cautious in any public expression of hisviews. In 1872-73, the Rev. Stainton Moses appeared as a newfactor, and his automatic writings raised the subject to a morespiritual plane in the judgment of many. The phenomenal side mayattract the curious, but when over-emphasized it is likely torepel the judicious mind.

Public lectures and trance addresses became a feature. Mrs.Emma Hardinge Britten, Mrs. Cora L. V. Tappan, and Mr. J. J.Morse gave eloquent orations, purporting to come from spiritinfluence, and large gatherings were deeply interested. Mr.Gerald Massey, the well-known poet and writer, and Dr. GeorgeSexton, also delivered public lectures. Altogether, Spiritualismhad much publicity given to it.

The establishment of the British National Association ofSpiritualists in 1873 gave the movement an impetus, because manywell-known public men and women joined it. Among them may bementioned the Countess of Caithness, Mrs. Makdougall Gregory(widow of Professor Gregory, of Edinburgh), Dr. Stanhope Speer,Dr. Gully, Sir Charles Isham, Dr. Maurice Davies, Mr. H. D.Jencken, Dr. George Sexton, Mrs. Ross Church (Florence Marryat),Mr. Newton Crosland, and Mr. Benjamin Coleman.

Mediumship of a high order in the department of physicalphenomena was supplied by Mrs. Jencken (Kate Fox) and MissFlorence Cook. Dr. J. R. Newton, the famous healing medium fromAmerica, arrived in 1870, and numbers of extraordinary cures wereregistered at free treatments. From 1870 Mrs. Everitt's wonderfulmediumship exercised, like that of D.D. Home, without charge,convinced many influential people. Herne and Williams, Mrs.Guppy, Eglinton, Slade, Lottie Fowler, and others, secured manyconverts through their mediumship. In 1872 Hudson's spiritphotographs created enormous interest, and in 1875 Dr. AlfredRussel Wallace published his famous book, "On Miracles and ModernSpiritualism."

A good means of tracing the growth of Spiritualism at thisperiod is to examine the statements of worthy contemporarywitnesses, especially those qualified by position and experienceto give an opinion. But before we glance at the period we areconsidering, let us look at the situation in 1866, as viewed byMr. William Howitt in a few paragraphs which are so admirablethat the author is constrained to quote thetas verbatim. Hesays:

The present position of Spiritualism in England,were the Press, with all its influence, omnipotent, would behopeless. After having taken every possible means to damage andsneer down Spiritualism; after having opened its columns to it,in the hope that its emptiness and folly would be so apparentthat its clever enemies would soon be able to knock it on thehead by invincible arguments, and then finding that all theadvantages of reason and fact were on its side; after havingabused and maligned it to no purpose, the whole Press as by oneconsent, or by one settled plan, has adopted the system ofopening its columns and pages to any false or foolish story aboutit, and hermetically closing them to any explanation, refutation,or defence. It is, in fact, resolved, all other means of killingit having failed, to burke it. To clap a literary pitch-plasteron its mouth, and then let anyone that likes cut its throat if hecan. By this means it hopes to stamp it out like therinderpest....

If anything could annihilate Spiritualism, itspresent estimation by the English public, its treatment by thePress and the courts of law, its attempted suppression by all thepowers of public intelligence, its hatred by the heroes of thepulpits of all churches and creeds, the simple acceptance of eventhe public folly and wickedness attributed to it by the Press,its own internal divisions—in a word, its pre-eminentunpopularity would put it out of existence. But does it? On thecontrary, it never was more firmly rooted into the mass ofadvanced minds; its numbers never more rapidly increased; itstruths were never more earnestly and eloquently advocated; theenquiries after it never more abundant or more anxious. Thesoirees in Harley Street have, through the whole time that Pressand horsehair wig have been heaping every reproach and everyscorn upon it, been crowded to excess by ladies and gentlemen ofthe middle and higher classes, who have listened in admiration tothe eloquent and ever-varied addresses of Emma Hardinge.Meantime, the Davenports, a thousand times denounced asimpostors, and exposed impostors, have a thousand times shownthat their phenomena remain as unexplainable as ever on any but aspiritual theory.

What means all this? What does it indicate? ThatPress and pulpit, and magistrate and law courts, have all triedtheir powers, and have failed. They stand nonplussed before thething which they themselves have protested is poor and foolishand false and unsubstantial. If it be so poor and foolish andfalse and unsubstantial, how is it that all their learning, theirunscrupulous denunciation, their vast means of attack and theirnot less means of prevention of fair defence, their command ofthe ears and the opinions of the multitude—how happens itthat all their wit and sarcasm and logic and eloquence cannottouch it? So far from shaking and diminishing it, they do noteven ruffle a hair on its head, or a fringe of its robe.

Is it not about time for these combined hosts ofthe great and wise, the scientific, the learned, the leaders ofsenates and colleges and courts of law, the eloquent favouritesof Parliament, the magnates of the popular Press, furnished withall the intellectual artillery which a great national system ofeducation, and great national system of Church and State andaristocracy, accustomed to proclaim what shall be held to be trueand of honourable repute by all honourable men and women—isit not time, I say, that all this great and splendid world of witand wisdom should begin to suspect that they have something solidto deal with? That there is something vital in what they havetreated as a phantom?

I do not say to these great and world-commandingbodies, powers and agencies, open your eyes and see that yourefforts are fruitless, and acknowledge your defeat, for probablythey never will open their eyes and confess their shame; but Isay to the Spiritualists themselves, dark as the day may seem toyou, never was it more cheering. Leagued as all the armies ofpublic instructors and directors are against it, never was itsbearing more anticipatory of ultimate victory. It has upon it thestamp of all the conquering influences of the age. It has all thelegitimatism of history on its head. It is but fighting thebattle that every great reform – social or moral orintellectual or religious—has fought and eventuallywon.

As showing the change that occurred after Mr. Howitt wrote in1866, we find The Times of December 26, 1872, publishingan article entitled "Spiritualism and Science," occupying threeand a half columns, in which the opinion is expressed that now"it is high time competent hands undertook the unravelling ofthis Gordian Knot," though why the existing hands of Crookes,Wallace or De Morgan were incompetent is not explained.

The writer, speaking of Lord Adare's little book (privatelyprinted) on his experiences with D.D. Home, seems to be impressedby the social status of the various witnesses. Clumsy humour andsnobbishness are the characteristics of the article:

A volume now lying before us may serve to showhow this folly has spread throughout society. It was lent to usby a disinguished Spiritualist, under the solemn promise that weshould not divulge a single name of those concerned. It consistsof about 150 pages of reports of séances, and was privatelyprinted by a noble Earl, who has lately passed beyond the Houseof Lords; beyond also, we trust, the spirit-peopled chairs andtables which in his lifetime he loved, not wisely, but too well.In this book things more marvellous than any we have set down arecirc*mstantially related, in a natural way, just as though theywere ordinary, everyday matters of fact. We shall not fatigue thereader by quoting any of the accounts given, and no doubt he willtake our word when we say that they range through every speciesof "manifestation," from prophesyings downwards.

What we more particularly wish to observe is,that the attestation of fifty respectable witnesses is placedbefore the title-page. Among them are a Dowager duch*ess and otherladies of rank, a Captain in the Guards, a nobleman, a Baronet, aMember of Parliament, several officers of our scientific andother corps, a barrister, a merchant, and a doctor. Upper andupper middle-class society is represented in all its grades, andby persons who, to judge by the position they hold and thecallings they follow, ought to be possessed of intelligence andability.

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the eminent naturalist, in thecourse of a letter to The Times (January 4, 1873),describing his visit to a public medium, said:

I consider it no exaggeration to say that themain facts are now as well established and as easily verifiableas any of the more exceptional phenomena of Nature which are notyet reduced to law. They have a most important bearing on theinterpretation of history, which is full of narratives of similarfacts, and on the nature of life and intellect, on which physicalscience throws a very feeble and uncertain light; and it is myfirm and deliberate belief that every branch of philosophy mustsuffer till they are honestly and seriously investigated, anddealt with as constituting an essential portion of the phenomenaof human nature.

One becomes bemused by ectoplasm and laboratory experimentswhich lead the thoughts away from the essential. Wallace was oneof the few whose great, sweeping, unprejudiced mind saw andaccepted the truth in its wonderful completeness from the humblephysical proofs of outside power to the highest mental teachingwhich that power could convey, teaching that far surpasses inbeauty and in credibility any which the modern mind hasknown.

The public acceptance and sustained support of this greatscientific man, one of the first brains of his age, were the moreimportant since he had the wit to understand the completereligious revolution which lay at the back of these phenomena. Ithas been a curious fact that with some exceptions in these days,as of old, the wisdom has been given to the humble and withheldfrom the learned. Heart and intuition have won to the goal wherebrain has missed it. One would think that the proposition was asimple one. It may be expressed in a series of questions afterthe Socratic form: "Have we established connexion with theintelligence of those who have died?" The Spiritualistsays: "Yes." "Have they given us information of the new life inwhich they find themselves, and of how it has been affected bytheir earth life?" Again "Yes." "Have they found it correspond tothe account given by any religion upon earth?" "No." Then if thisbe so, is it not clear that the new information is of vitalreligious import? The humble Spiritualist sees this and adaptshis worship to the facts.

Sir William (then Professor) Barrett brought the subject ofSpiritualism before the British Association for the Advancementof Science in 1876. His paper was entitled "On Some Phenomenaassociated with Abnormal Conditions of Mind." He had difficultyin obtaining a hearing. The Biological Committee refused toaccept the paper and passed it on to the Anthropological Sub-section, who only accepted it on the casting vote of thechairman, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. Colonel Lane Fox helped toovercome the opposition by asking why, as they had discussedancient witchcraft the previous year, they should not examinemodern witchcraft that year. The first part of ProfessorBarrett's paper dealt with mesmerism, but in the second part herelated his experiences of Spiritualistic phenomena, and urgedthat further scientific examination should be given to thesubject. He gave the convincing details of a remarkableexperience he had had of raps occurring with a child.*

* The Spiritualist, Sept. 22, 1876,Vol. IX, pp. 87-88.

In the ensuing discussion Sir William Crookes spoke of thelevitations he had witnessed with D.D. Home, and said oflevitation: "The evidence in favour of it is stronger than theevidence in favour of almost any natural phenomenon the BritishAssociation could investigate." He also made the followingremarks concerning his own method of psychic research:

I was asked to investigate when Dr. Slade firstcame over, and I mentioned my conditions. I have neverinvestigated except under these conditions. It must be at my ownhouse, and my own selection of friends and spectators, under myown conditions, and I may do whatever I like as regardsapparatus. I have always tried, where it has been possible, tomake the physical apparatus test the things themselves, and havenot trusted more than is possible to my own senses. But when itis necessary to trust to my senses, I must entirely dissent fromMr. Barrett, when he says a trained physical inquirer is no matchfor a professional conjurer. I maintain a physical inquirer ismore than a match.

An important contribution to the discussion was made by LordRayleigh, the distinguished mathematician, who said:

I think we are much indebted to ProfessorBarrett for his courage, for it requires some courage to comeforward in this matter, and to give us the benefit of his carefulexperiments. My own interest in the subject dates back two years.I was first attracted to it by reading Mr. Crookes'sinvestigations. Although my opportunities have not been so goodas those enjoyed by Professor Barrett, I have seen enough toconvince me that those are wrong who wish to preventinvestigation by casting ridicule on those who may feel inclinedto engage in it.

The next speaker, Mr. Groom Napier, was greeted with laughterwhen he described verified psychometric descriptions of peoplefrom their handwriting enclosed in sealed envelopes, and when hewent on to describe spirit lights that he had seen, the uproarforced him to resume his seat. Professor Barrett, in replying tohis critics, said:

It certainly shows the immense advance that thissubject has made within the last few years, that a paper on theonce laughed-at phenomena of so-called Spiritualism should havebeen admitted into the British Association, and should have beenpermitted to receive the full discussion it has had to-day.

The London Spectator, in an article entitled "TheBritish Association on Professor Barrett's Paper," opened withthe following broad-minded view:

Now that we have before us a full report ofProfessor Barrett's paper, and of the discussion upon it, we maybe permitted to express our hope that the British Associationwill really take some action on the subject of the paper, inspite of the protests of the party which we may call the party ofsuperstitious incredulity. We say superstitious incredulitybecause it is really a pure superstition, and nothing else, toassume that we are so fully acquainted with the laws of Nature,that even carefully-examined facts, attested by an experiencedobserver, ought to be cast aside as utterly unworthy of credit,only because they do not at first sight seem to be in keepingwith what is most clearly known already.

Sir William Barrett's views steadily progressed until heaccepted the Spiritualistic position in unequivocal terms beforehis lamented death in 1925. He lived to see the whole worldameliorate its antagonism to such subjects, though littledifference perhaps could be observed in the British Associationwhich remained as obscurantist as ever. Such a tendency, however,may not have been an unmixed evil, for, as Sir Oliver Lodge hasremarked, if the great pressing material problems had beencomplicated by psychic issues, it is possible that they would nothave been solved. It may be worth remarking that Sir WilliamBarrett in conversation with the author recalled that of the fourmen who supported him upon that historical and difficultoccasion, every one lived to receive the Order of Merit—thegreatest honour which their country could bestow. The four wereLord Rayleigh, Crookes, Wallace and Huggins.

It was not to be expected that the rapid growth ofSpiritualism would be without its less desirable features. Thesewere of at least two kinds. First the cry of fraudulentmediumship was frequently heard. In the light of our later,fuller knowledge we know that much that bears the appearance offraud is not necessarily fraud at all. At the same time, theunbounded credulity of a section of Spiritualists undoubtedlyprovided an easy field for charlatans. In the course of a paperread before the Cambridge University Society for PsychologicalInvestigation in 1879, the President of the Society, Mr. J. A.Campbell, said*:

Since the advent of Mr. Home, the number ofmedia has increased yearly, and so has the folly and theimposture. Every spook has become, in the eyes of fools, a divineangel; and not even every spook, but every rogue, dressed up in asheet, who has chosen or shall choose to call himself amaterialized "spirit." A so-called religion has been founded inwhich the honour of the most sacred names has been transferred tothe ghosts of pickpockets. Of the characters of which divinities,and of the doctrines taught by them, I shall not insult you byspeaking; so it ever is when folly and ignorance get into theirhands the weapon of an eternal fact, abuse, distortion, crimeitself; such were ever the results of children playing with edgedtools, but who but an ignoramus would cry, naughty knife?Gradually the movement is clearing itself of such excretions,gradually is it becoming more sober and pure, and strong, and assensible men and educated men study and pray and work, strivingto make good use of their knowledge, will it become more so.

* The Spiritualist, April 11, 1879, p.170.

The second feature was the apparent increase of what may betermed anti-Christian, though not antireligious, Spiritualism.This led to William Howitt and other stalwart supporters ceasingtheir connexion with the movement. Powerful articles against thistendency were contributed to The Spiritual Magazine byHowitt and others.

A suggestion of the need for caution and balance is affordedin the remarks of Mr. William Stainton Moses, who said in a paperread before the British National Association of Spiritualists onJanuary 26, 1880*:

We are emphatically in need of discipline andeducation. We have hardly yet settled down after our rapidgrowth. The child, born just thirty years ago, has increased instature (if not in wisdom) at a very rapid rate. It has grown sofast that its education has been a little neglected. In theexpressive phraseology of its native country, it has been"dragged up" rather promiscuously; and its phenomenal growth hasabsorbed all other considerations. The time has now come whenthose who have regarded it as an ugly monster which was born byone of Nature's freaks only to die an early death, begin torecognize their mistake. The ugly brat means to live; and beneathits ugliness the least sympathetic gaze detects a coherentpurpose in its existence. It is the presentation of a principleinherent in man's nature, a principle which his wisdom hasimproved away until it is wellnigh eliminated altogether, butwhich crops out again and again in spite of him —theprinciple of Spirit as opposed to Matter, of Soul acting andexisting independently of the body which enshrines it. Long yearsof denial of aught but the properties of matter have landed thechief lights of modern science in pure Materialism. To them,therefore, this Spiritualism is a portent and a problem. It is areturn to superstition; a survival of savagery; a blot onnineteenth century intelligence. Laughed at, it laughs back;scorned, it gives back scorn for scorn.

* The Psychological Review, Vol. II,p. 546.

In 1881, Light, a high-class weekly Spiritualistnewspaper, was begun, and 1882 saw the formation of the Societyfor Psychical Research.

Speaking generally, it may be said that the attitude oforganized science during these thirty years was as unreasonableand unscientific as that of Galileo's cardinals, and that ifthere had been a Scientific Inquisition, it would have broughtit* terrors to bear upon the new knowledge. No serious attempt ofany sort, up to the formation of the S.P.R. was made tounderstand or explain a matter which was engaging the attentionof millions of minds. Faraday in 1853 put forward the theory thattable-moving was caused by muscular pressure, which may be trueenough in some cases, but bears no relation to the levitation oftables, and in any case applies only to the one limited class ofpsychic phenomena. The usual "scientific" objection was thatnothing occurred at all, which neglected the testimony ofthousands of credible witnesses. Others argued that what didhappen was capable of being exposed by a conjurer, and any clumsyimitation such as Maskelyne's parody of the Davenports waseagerly hailed as an exposure, with no reference to the fact thatthe whole mental side of the question with its overwhelmingevidence was untouched thereby.

The "religious" people, furious at being shaken out of theirtime-honoured ruts, were ready, like savages, to ascribe any newthing to the devil. Roman Catholics and the Evangelical sects,alike, found themselves for once united in their opposition. Thatlow spirits may be reached, and low, lying messages received, isbeyond all doubt, since every class of spirit exists around us,and like attracts like; but the lofty, sustaining and philosophicteaching which comes to every serious and humble-minded inquirershows that it is Angelism and not Diabolism which is within ourreach. Dr. Carpenter put forward some complex theory, but seemsto have been in a minority of one in its acceptance or even inits comprehension. The doctors had an explanation founded uponthe cracking of joints, which is ludicrous to anyone who has hadpersonal experience of those percussive sounds which vary inrange from the tick of a watch to the blow of a sledge-hammer.

Further explanations, either then or later, included theTheosophic doctrine, which admitted the facts but depreciated thespirits, describing them as astral shells with a sort of dreamyhalf-consciousness, or possibly an attenuated conscience whichmade them sub-human in their intelligence or morality. Certainlythe quality of spirit communion does vary greatly, but thehighest is so high that we can hardly imagine that we are intouch with only a fraction of the speaker. As it is asserted,however, that even in this world our subliminal self is farsuperior to our normal workaday individuality, it would seem onlyfair that the spirit world should confront us with something lessthan its full powers.

Another theory postulates the Anima Mundi, a hugereservoir or central bank of intelligence, with a clearing-housein which all inquiries are honoured. The sharp detail which wereceive from the Other Side is incompatible with any vaguegrandiose idea of the sort. Finally, there is the one reallyformidable alternative, that man has an etheric body with manyunknown gifts, among which a power of external manifestation incurious forms may be included. It is to this theory ofCryptesthesia that Richet and others have clung, and up to apoint there is an argument in its favour. The author hassatisfied himself that there is a preliminary and elementarystage in all psychic work which depends upon the innate andpossibly unconscious power of the medium. The reading ofconcealed script, the production of raps upon demand, thedescription of scenes at a distance, the remarkable effects ofpsychometry, the first vibrations of the Direct Voice—eachand all of these on different occasions have seemed to emanatefrom the medium's own power. Then in most cases there wouldappear an outside intelligence which was able to appropriate thatforce and use it for its own ends. An illustration might be givenin the experiments of Bisson and Schrenck Notzing with Eva, wherethe ectoplasmic forms were at first undoubtedly reflections ofnewspaper illustrations, somewhat muddled by their passagethrough the medium's mind. Yet there came a later and deeperstage where an ectoplasmic form was evolved which was capable ofmovement and even of speech. Richet's great brain and close powerof observation have been largely centred upon the physicalphenomena, and he does not seem to have been brought much incontact with those personal mental and spiritual experienceswhich would probably have modified his views. It is fair to add,however, that those views have continually moved in the directionof the Spiritualistic explanation.

There only remains the hypothesis of complex personality,which may well influence certain cases, though it seems to theauthor that such cases might be explained equally well byobsession. These instances, however, can only touch the fringe ofthe subject, and ignore the whole phenomenal aspect, so that thematter need not be taken very seriously. It cannot be too oftenrepeated, however, that the inquirer should exhaust everypossible normal explanation to his own complete satisfactionbefore he adopts the Spiritualistic view. If he has done this hisplatform is stable—if he has not done it he can never beconscious of its solidity. The author can say truly, that yearafter year he clung on to every line of defence until he wasfinally compelled, if he were to preserve any claim to mentalhonesty, to abandon the materialistic position.


IX. — THE CAREER OF D.D.HOME


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (11)

Daniel Dunglas Home.


DANIEL DUNGLAS HOME was born in 1833 at Currie,a village near Edinburgh. There was a mystery about hisparentage, and it has been both asserted and denied that he wasrelated in some fashion to the family of the Earl of Home.Certainly he was a man who inherited elegance of figure, delicacyof feature, sensitiveness of disposition and luxury in taste,from whatever source he sprang. But for his psychic powers, andfor the earnestness which they introduced into his complexcharacter, he might have been taken as the very type of thearistocratic younger son who inherits the tendencies, but not thewealth, of his forbears.

Home went from Scotland to New England, at the age of nineyears, with his aunt who had adopted him, a mystery stillsurrounding his existence. When he was thirteen he began to showsigns of the psychic faculties he had inherited, for his mother,who was descended from an old Highland family, had thecharacteristic second-sight of her race. His mystical trend hadshown itself in a conversation with his boy friend, Edwin, abouta short story where, as the result of a compact, a lover, afterhis death, manifested his presence to his lady-love. The two boyspledged themselves that whoever died first would come and showhimself to the other. Home removed to another district somehundreds of miles distant, and about a month later, just aftergoing to bed one night, he saw a vision of Edwin and announced tohis aunt his death, news of which was received a day or twoafter. A second vision in 1850 concerned the death of his mother,who with her husband had gone to live in America. The boy was illin bed at the time, and his mother away on a visit to friends ata distance. One evening he called loudly for help, and when hisaunt came she found him in great distress. He said that hismother had died that day at twelve o'clock; that she had appearedto him and told him so. The vision proved to be only too true.Soon loud raps began to disturb the quiet household, andfurniture to be moved by invisible agency. His aunt, a woman of anarrow religious type, declared the boy had brought the Devilinto her house, and turned him out of doors.

He took refuge with friends, and in the next few years movedamong them from town to town. His mediumship had become stronglydeveloped, and at the houses where he stopped he gave frequentséances, sometimes as many as six or seven a day, for thelimitations of power and the reactions between physical andpsychic were little understood at that time. These proved a greatdrain on his strength, and he was frequently laid up withillness. People flocked from all directions to witness themarvels which occurred in Home's presence. Among those whoinvestigated with him at this time was the American poet Bryant,who was accompanied by Professor Wells, of Harvard University. InNew York he met many distinguished Americans, andthree—Professor Hare, Professor Mapes, and Judge Edmonds,of the New York Supreme Court—had sittings with him. Allthree became, as already stated, convinced Spiritualists.

In these early years the charm of Home's personality, and thedeep impression created by his powers, led to his receiving manyoffers. Professor George Bush invited him to stay with him andstudy for the Swedenborgian ministry; and Mr. and Mrs. Elmer, arich and childless couple, who had grown to cherish a greataffection for him, offered to adopt him and make him their heiron condition of his changing his name to Elmer.

His remarkable healing powers had excited wonder and, yieldingto the persuasion of friends, he began to study for the medicalprofession. But his general delicate health, coupled with actuallung trouble, forced him to abandon this project and, actingunder medical advice, he left New York for England.

He arrived in Liverpool on April 9, 1855, and has beendescribed as a tall, slim youth with a marked elegance of bearingand a fastidious neatness of dress, but with a worn, hectic lookupon his very expressive face which told of the ravages ofdisease. He was blue-eyed and auburn-haired, of a type which ispeculiarly liable to the attack of tubercle, and the extremeemaciation of his frame showed how little power remained with himby which he might resist it. An acute physician watching himclosely would probably have gauged his life by months rather thanyears in our humid climate, and of all the marvels which Homewrought, the prolongation of his own life was perhaps not theleast. His character had already taken on those emotional andreligious traits which distinguished it, and he has recorded how,before landing, he rushed down to his cabin and fell upon hisknees in prayer. When one considers the astonishing career whichlay before him, and the large part which he played inestablishing those physical foundations which differentiate thisreligious development from any other, it may well be claimed thatthis visitor was among the most notable missionaries who has evervisited our shores.

His position at that moment was a very singular one. He hadhardly a relation in the world. His left lung was partly gone.His income was modest, though sufficient. He had no trade orprofession, his education having been interrupted by his illness.In character he was shy, gentle, sentimental, artistic,affectionate, and deeply religious. He had a strong tendency bothto Art and the Drama, so that his powers of sculpture wereconsiderable, and as a reciter he proved in later life that hehad few living equals. But on the top of all this, and of anunflinching honesty which was so uncompromising that he oftenoffended his own allies, there was one gift so remarkable that itthrew everything else into insignificance. This lay in thosepowers, quite independent of his own volition, coming and goingwith disconcerting suddenness, but proving to all who wouldexamine the proof, that there was something in this man'satmosphere which enabled forces outside himself and outside ourordinary apprehension to manifest themselves upon this plane ofmatter. In other words, he was a medium—the greatest in aphysical sense that the modern world has ever seen.

A lesser man might have used his extraordinary powers to foundsome special sect of which he would have been the undisputed highpriest, or to surround himself with a glamour of power andmystery. Certainly most people in his position would have beentempted to use it for the making of money. As to this latterpoint, let it be said at once that never in the course of thethirty years of his strange ministry did he touch one shilling aspayment for his gifts. It is on sure record that as much as twothousand pounds was offered to him by the Union Club in Paris inthe year 1857 for a single séance, and that he, a poor man and aninvalid, utterly refused it. "I have been sent on a mission," hesaid. "That mission is to demonstrate immortality. I have nevertaken money for it and I never will." There were certain presentsfrom Royalty which cannot be refused without boorishness: rings,scarf-pins, and the like—tokens of friendship rather thanrecompense; for before his premature death there were fewmonarchs in Europe with whom this shy youth from the Liverpoollanding-stage was not upon terms of affectionate intimacy.Napoleon the Third provided for his only sister. The Emperor ofRussia sponsored his marriage. What novelist would dare to inventsuch a career?

But there are more subtle temptations than those of wealth.Home's uncompromising honesty was the best safeguard againstthose. Never for a moment did he lose his humility and his senseof proportion. "I have these powers," he would say; "I shall behappy, up to the limit of my strength, to demonstrate them toyou, if you approach me as one gentleman should approach another.I shall be glad if you can throw any further light upon them. Iwill lend myself to any reasonable experiment. I have no controlover them. They use me, but I do not use them. They desert me formonths and then come back in redoubled force. I am a passiveinstrument—no more." Such was his unvarying attitude. Hewas always the easy, amiable man of the world, with nothingeither of the mantle of the prophet or of the skull-cap of themagician. Like most truly great men, there was no touch of posein his nature. An index of his fine feeling is that whenconfirmation was needed for his results he would never quote anynames unless he was perfectly certain that the owners would notsuffer in any way through being associated with an unpopularcult. Sometimes even after they had freely given leave he stillwithheld the names, lest he should unwittingly injure a friend.When he published his first series of "Incidents in my Life,"The Saturday Review waxed very sarcastic over theanonymous "evidence of Countess O—, Count B—, Countde K—, Princess de B— and Mrs. S—, who werequoted as having witnessed manifestations. In his second volume,Home, having assured himself of the concurrence of his friends,filled the blanks with the names of the Countess Orsini, Count deBeaumont, Count de Komar, Princess de Beauveau, and the well-known American hostess, Mrs. Henry Senior. His Royal friends henever quoted at all, and yet it is notorious that the EmperorNapoleon, the Empress Eugenie, the Tsar Alexander, the EmperorWilliam the First of Germany, and the Kings of Bavaria andWurtemberg were all equally convinced by his extraordinarypowers. Never once was Home convicted of any deception, either inword or in deed.

On first landing in England he took up his quarters at Cox'sHotel in Jermyn Street, and it is probable that he chose thathostelry because he had learned that through Mrs. Hayden'sministry the proprietor was already sympathetic to the cause.However that may be, Mr. Cox quickly discovered that his youngguest was a most remarkable medium, and at his invitation some ofthe leading minds of the day were asked to consider thosephenomena which Home could lay before them. Among others, LordBrougham came to a séance and brought with him his scientificfriend, Sir David Brewster. In full daylight they investigatedthe phenomena, and in his amazement at what happened Brewster isreported to have said: "This upsets the philosophy of fiftyyears." If he had said "fifteen hundred" he would have beenwithin the mark. He described what took place in a letter writtento his sister at the time, but published long after.* Thosepresent were Lord Brougham, Sir David Brewster, Mr. Cox and themedium.

"We four," said Brewster, "sat down at amoderately-sized table, the structure of which we were invited toexamine. In a short time the table struggled, and a tremulousmotion ran up all our arms; at our bidding these motions ceasedand returned. The most unaccountable rappings were produced invarious parts of the table, and the table actually rose from theground when no hand was upon it. A larger table was produced, andexhibited similar movements.

"A small hand-bell was laid down with its mouthupon the carpet, and after lying for some time, it actually rangwhen nothing could have touched it." He adds that the bell cameover to him and placed itself in his hand, and it did the same toLord Brougham; and concludes "These were the principalexperiments. We could give no explanation of them, and could notconjecture how they could be produced by any kind ofmechanism."

* Home Life Of Sir David Brewster, byMrs. Gordon (his daughter), 1869.

The Earl of Dunraven states that he was induced to investigatethe phenomena by what Brewster had told him. He describes meetingthe latter, who said that the manifestations were quiteinexplicable by fraud, or by any physical laws with which we wereacquainted. Home sent an account of this sitting in a letter to afriend in America, where it was published with comments. Whenthese were reproduced in the English Press, Brewster becamegreatly alarmed. It was one thing to hold certain viewsprivately, it was quite another to face the inevitable loss ofprestige that would occur in the scientific circles in which hemoved. Sir David was not the stuff of which martyrs or pioneersare made. He wrote to The Morning Advertiser, stating thatthough he had seen several mechanical effects which he could notexplain, yet he was satisfied that they could all be produced byhuman hands and feet. At the time had, of course, never occurredto him that his letter to his sister, just quoted, would ever seethe light.

When the whole correspondence came to be published, TheSpectator remarked of Sir David Brewster:

It seems established by the clearest evidencethat he felt and expressed, at and immediately after his séanceswith Mr. Home, a wonder and almost awe, which he afterwardswished to explain away. The hero of science does not acquithimself as one could wish or expect.

We have dwelt a little on this Brewster incident because itwas typical of the scientific attitude of the day, and becauseits effect was to excite a wider public interest in Home and hisphenomena, and to bring hundreds of fresh investigators. One maysay that scientific men may be divided into three classes: thosewho have not examined the matter at all (which does not in theleast prevent them from giving very violent opinions); those whoknow that it is true but are afraid to say so; and finally thegallant minority of the Lodges, the Crookes, the Barretts and theLombrosos, who know it is true and who dare all in saying so.

From Jermyn Street, Home went to stay with the Rymer family inEaling, where many séances were held. Here he was visited by LordLytton, the famous novelist, who, although he received strikingevidence, never publicly avowed his belief in the medium'spowers, though his private letters, and indeed his publishednovels, are evidence of his true feeling. This was the case withscores of well-known men and women. Among his early sitters wereRobert Owen the Socialist, T. A. Trollope the author, and Dr. J.Garth Wilkinson the alienist.

In these days, when the facts of psychic phenomena arefamiliar to all save those who are wilfully ignorant, we canhardly realize the moral courage which was needed by Home inputting forward his powers and upholding them in public. To theaverage educated Briton in the material Victorian era a man whoclaimed to be able to produce results which upset Newton's law ofgravity, and which showed invisible mind acting upon visiblematter, was prima facie a scoundrel and an impostor. The view ofSpiritualism pronounced by Vice-Chancellor Giffard at theconclusion of the Home-Lyon trial was that of the class to whichhe belonged. He knew nothing of the matter, but took it forgranted that anything with such claims must be false. No doubtsimilar things were reported in far-off lands and ancient books,but that they could occur in prosaic, steady old England, theEngland of bank-rates and free imports, was too absurd forserious thought. It has been recorded that at this trial LordGiffard turned to Home's counsel and said: "Do I understand youto state that your client claims that he has been levitated intothe air?" Counsel assented, on which the judge turned to the juryand made such a movement as the high priest may have made inancient days when he rent his garments as a protest againstblasphemy. In 1868 there were few of the jury who weresufficiently educated to check the judge's remarks, and it isjust in that particular that we have made some progress in thefifty years between. Slow work—but Christianity took morethan three hundred years to come into its own.

Take this question of levitation as a test of Home's powers.It is claimed that more than a hundred times in good light beforereputable witnesses he floated in the air. Consider the evidence.In 1857, in a chateau near Bordeaux, he was lifted to the ceilingof a lofty room in the presence of Madame Ducos, widow of theMinister of Marine, and of the Count and Countess de Beaumont. In1860 Robert Bell wrote an article, "Stranger than Fiction," inThe Cornhill. "He rose from his chair," says Bell, "fouror five feet from the ground . We saw his figure pass from oneside of the window to the other, feet foremost, lyinghorizontally in the air." Dr. Gully, of Malvern, a well-knownmedical man, and Robert Chambers, the author and publisher, werethe other witnesses. Is it to be supposed that these men werelying confederates, or that they could not tell if a man werefloating in the air or pretending to do so? In the same year Homewas raised at Mrs. Milner Gibson's house in the presence of Lordand Lady Clarence Paget, the former passing his hands underneathhim to assure himself of the fact. A few months later Mr. Wason,a Liverpool solicitor, with seven others, saw the samephenomenon. "Mr. Home," he says, "crossed the table over theheads of the persons sitting around it." He added: "I reached hishand seven feet from the floor, and moved along five or six pacesas he floated above me in the air." In 1861 Mrs. Parkes, ofCornwall Terrace, Regent's Park, tells how she was present withBulwer Lytton and Mr. Hall when Home in her own drawing-room wasraised till his hand was on the top of the door, and then floatedhorizontally forward. In 1866 Mr. and Mrs. Hall, Lady Dunsany,and Mrs. Senior, in Mr. Hall's house saw Home, his facetransfigured and shining, twice rise to the ceiling, leaving across marked in pencil upon the second occasion, so as to assurethe witnesses that they were not the victims of imagination.

In 1868 Lord Adare, Lord Lindsay, Captain Wynne, and Mr. SmithBarry saw Home levitate upon many occasions. A very minuteaccount has been left by the first three witnesses of theoccurrence of December 16* of this year, when at Ashley HouseHome, in a state of trance, floated out of the bedroom and intothe sitting-room window, passing seventy feet above the street.After his arrival in the sitting-room he went back into thebedroom with Lord Adare, and upon the latter remarking that hecould not understand how Home could have fitted through thewindow which was only partially raised, "he told me to stand alittle distance off. He then went through the open space headfirst quite rapidly, his body being nearly horizontal andapparently rigid. He came in again feet foremost." Such was theaccount given by Lords Adare and Lindsay. Upon its publicationDr. Carpenter, who earned an unenviable reputation by a perverseopposition to every fact which bore upon this question, wroteexultantly to point out that there had been a third witness whohad not been heard from, assuming without the least justificationthat Captain Wynne's evidence would be contradictory. He went thelength of saying "a single honest sceptic declares that Mr. Homewas sitting in his chair all the time "a statement which can onlybe described as false. Captain Wynne at once wrote corroboratingthe others and adding: "If you are not to believe thecorroborative evidence of three unimpeached witnesses, therewould be an end to all justice and courts of law."

* The almanac shows it to be Sunday the13th.

To show how hard put to it the critics have been to find someloophole of escape from the obvious, they have made much of thefact that Lord Lindsay, writing some time after the event,declared that it was seen by moonlight; whereas the calendarshows that the moon was not at that time visible. Mr. Andrew Langremarks: "Even in a fog, however, people in a room can see a mancoming in by the window, and go out again, head first, with bodyrigid." * It would seem to most of us that if we saw somarvellous a sight we would have little time to spare todetermine whether we viewed it by the light of the moon or bythat of the street lamps. It must be admitted, however, that LordLindsay's account is clumsily worded—so clumsily that thereis some excuse for Mr. Joseph McCabe's reading of it that thespectators looked not at the object itself and its shadow on thewindow-sill, but that they stood with their backs to it andviewed the shadow on the wall. When one considers, however, thestanding of the three eye-witnesses who have testified to this,one may well ask whether in ancient or modern times anypreternatural event has been more clearly proved.

* Historical Mysteries, p. 236.

So many are the other instances of Home's levitations that along article might easily be written upon this single phase ofhis mediumship. Professor Crookes was again and again a witnessto the phenomenon, and refers to fifty instances which had comewithin his knowledge. But is there any fair-minded person who hasread the incident here recorded who will not say, with ProfessorChallis: "Either the facts must be admitted to be such as arereported, or the possibility of certifying facts by humantestimony must be given up."

"Are we, then, back in the age of miracles?" cries the reader.There is no miracle. Nothing on this plane is supernatural. Whatwe see now, and what we have read of in ages past, is but theoperation of law which has not yet been studied and defined.Already we realize something of its possibilities and of itslimitations, which are as exact in their way as those of anypurely physical power. We must hold the balance between those whowould believe nothing and those who would believe too much.Gradually the mists will clear and we will chart the shadowycoast. When the needle first sprang up at the magnet it was notan infraction of the laws of gravity. It was that there had beenthe local intervention of another stronger force. Such is thecase also when psychic powers act upon the plane of matter. HadHome's faith in this power faltered, or had his circle beenunduly disturbed, he would have fallen. When Peter lost faith hesank into the waves. Across the centuries the same cause stillproduced the same effect. Spiritual power is ever with us if wedo not avert our faces, and nothing has been vouchsafed to Judmawhich is withheld from England.

It is in this respect, as a confirmation of the power of theunseen, and as a final answer to materialism as we now understandit, that Home's public career is of such supreme importance. Hewas an affirmative witness of the truth of those so-called"miracles" which have been the stumbling-block for so manyearnest minds, and are now destined to be the strong solid proofof the accuracy of the original narrative. Millions of doubtingsouls in the agony of spiritual conflict had cried out fordefinite proof that all was not empty space around us, that therewere powers beyond our grasp, that the ego was not a meresecretion of nervous tissue, and that the dead did really carryon their personal unbroken existence. All this was proved by thisgreatest of modern missionaries to anyone who could observe orreason. It is easy to poke superficial fun at rising tables andquivering walls, but they were the nearest and most naturalobjects which could record in material terms that power which wasbeyond our human ken. A mind which would be unmoved by aninspired sentence was struck into humility and into new paths ofresearch in the presence of even the most homely of theseinexplicable phenomena. It is easy to call them puerile, but theyeffected the purpose for which they were sent by shaking to itsfoundations the complaisance of those material men of science whowere brought into actual contact with them. They are to beregarded not as ends in themselves, but as the elementary meansby which the mind should be diverted into new channels ofthought. And those channels of thought led straight to therecognition of the survival of the spirit. "You have conveyedincalculable joy and comfort to the hearts of many people," saidBishop Clark, of Rhode Island. "You have made dwelling-placeslight that were dark before." "Mademoiselle," said Home to thelady who was to be his wife, "I have a mission entrusted to me.It is a great and a holy one." The famous Dr. Elliotson,immortalized by Thackeray under the name of Dr. Goodenough, wasone of the leaders of British materialism. He met Home, saw hispowers, and was able soon to say that he had lived all his lifein darkness and had thought there was nothing in existence butthe material, but he now had a firm hope which he trusted hewould hold while on earth.

Innumerable instances could be quoted of the spiritual valueof Home's work, but it has never been better summed up than in aparagraph from Mrs. Webster, of Florence, who saw much of hisministry. "He is the most marvellous missionary of modern timesin the greatest of all causes, and the good that he has donecannot be reckoned. When Mr. Home passes he bestows around himthe greatest of all blessings, the certainty of a futurelife."

Now that the details of his career can be read, it is to thewhole wide world that he brings this most vital of all messages.His attitude as to his own mission was expressed in a lecturegiven in London in Willis's Rooms on February 15, 1866. He said:"I believe in my heart that this power is being spread more andmore every day to draw us nearer to God. You ask if it makes uspurer? My only answer is that we are but mortals, and as suchliable to err; but it does teach that the pure in heart shall seeGod. It teaches us that He is love, and that there is no death.To the aged it comes as a solace, when the storms of life arenearly over and rest cometh. To the young it speaks of the dutywe owe to each other, and that as we sow so shall we reap. To allit teaches resignation. It comes to roll away the clouds oferror, and bring the bright morning of a never-ending day."

It is curious to see how his message affected those of his owngeneration. Reading the account of his life written by hiswidow—a most convincing document, since she of all livingmortals must have known the real man—it would appear thathis most utterly whole-hearted support and appreciation came fromthose aristocrats of France and Russia with whom he was broughtinto contact. The warm glow of personal admiration and evenreverence in their letters is such as can hardly be matched inany biography. In England he had a close circle of ardentsupporters, a few of the upper classes, with the Halls, theHowitts, Robert Chambers, Mrs. Milner Gibson, Professor Crookes,and others. But there was a sad lack of courage among those whoadmitted the facts in private and stood aloof in public. LordBrougham and Bulwer Lytton were of the type of Nicodemus, thenovelist being the worst offender. "Intelligentsia" on the wholecame badly out of the matter, and many an Honoured name suffersin the story. Faraday and Tyndall were fantastically unscientificin their methods of prejudging a question first, and offering toexamine it afterwards on the condition that their prejudgment wasaccepted. Sir David Brewster, as already shown, said some honestthings, and then in a panic denied that he had said them,forgetting that the evidence was on actual record. Browning wrotea long poem—if such doggerel can be called poetry—todescribe an exposure which had never taken place. Carpenterearned an unenviable notoriety as an unscrupulous opponent, whileproclaiming some strange Spiritualistic thesis of his own. Thesecretaries of the Royal Society refused to take a cab-drive inorder to see Crookes's demonstration of the physical phenomena,while they pronounced roundly against them.

Lord Giffard inveighed from the Bench against a subject thefirst elements of which he did not understand.

As to the clergy, such an order might not have existed duringthe thirty years that this, the most marvellous spiritualoutpouring of many centuries, was before the public. One cannotrecall the name of one British clergyman who showed anyintelligent interest; and when in 1872 a full account of the St.Petersburg séances began to appear in The Times, it wascut short, according to Mr. H. T. Humphreys, "on account ofstrong remonstrances to Mr. Delane, the editor, by certain of thehigher clergy of the Church of England." Such was thecontribution of our official spiritual guides. Dr. Elliotson theRationalist, was far more alive than they. The rather bittercomment of Mrs. Home is: "The verdict of his own generation wasthat of the blind and deaf upon the man who could hear andsee."

Home's charity was among his more beautiful characteristics.Like all true charity it was secret, and only comes outindirectly and by chance. One of his numerous traducers declaredthat he had allowed a bill for £5o to be sent in to his friend,Mr. Rymer. In self-defence it came out that it was not a bill buta cheque most generously sent by Home to help this friend in acrisis. Considering his constant poverty, fifty pounds probablyrepresented a good part of his bank balance. His widow dwellswith pardonable pride upon the many evidences found in hisletters after his death. "Now it is an unknown artist for whosebrush Home's generous efforts had found employment; now adistressed worker writes of his sick wife's life saved bycomforts that Home provided; now a mother thanks him for a startin life for her son.

How much time and thought he devoted to helping others whenthe circ*mstance of his own life would have led most men to thinkonly of their own needs and cares."

"Send me a word from the heart that has known so often how tocheer a friend!" cries one of his proteges.

"Shall I ever prove worthy of all the good you have done me?"says another letter.

We find him roaming the battlefields round Paris, often underfire, with his pockets full of cigars for the wounded. A Germanofficer writes affectionately to remind him how he saved him frombleeding to death, and carried him on his own weak back out ofthe place of danger. Truly Mrs. Browning was a better judge ofcharacter than her spouse, and Sir Galahad a better name thanSludge.

At the same time, it would be absurd to depict Home as a manof flawless character. He had the weakness of his temperament,and something feminine in his disposition which showed itself inmany ways. The author, while in Australia, came across acorrespondence dating from 1856 between Home and the elder son ofthe Rymer family. They had travelled together in Italy, and Homehad deserted his friend under circ*mstances which showedinconstancy and ingratitude. It is only fair to add that hishealth was so broken at the time that he could hardly be callednormal. "He had the defects of an emotional character," said LordDunraven, "with vanity highly developed, perhaps wisely to enablehim to hold his own against the ridicule that was then poured outon Spiritualism and everything connected with it. He was liableto fits of great depression and to nervous crises difficult tounderstand, but he was withal of a simple, kindly, humorous,loving disposition that appealed to me . My friendship remainedwithout change or diminution to the end."

There are few of the varied gifts which we call "mediumistic"and St. Paul "of the spirit" which Home did notpossess—indeed, the characteristic of his psychic power wasits unusual versatility. We speak usually of a Direct Voicemedium, of a trance speaker, of a clairvoyant or of a physicalmedium, but Home was all four. So far as can be traced, he hadlittle experience of the powers of other mediums, and was notimmune from that psychic jealousy which is a common trait ofthese sensitives. Mrs. Jencken, formerly Miss Kate Fox, was theonly other medium with whom he was upon terms of friendship. Hebitterly resented any form of deception, and carried thisexcellent trait rather too far by looking with eyes of suspicionupon all forms of manifestations which did not exactly correspondwith his own. This opinion, expressed in an uncompromising mannerin his last book, "Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism," gavenatural offence to other mediums who claimed to be as honest ashimself. A wider acquaintance with phenomena would have made himmore charitable. Thus he protested strongly against any séancebeing held in the dark, but this is certainly a counsel ofperfection, for experiments upon the ectoplasm which is thephysical basis of all materializations show that it is usuallyaffected by light unless the light is tinted red. Home had nolarge experience of complete materializations such as wereobtained in those days by Miss Florence Cook, or Madamed'Esperance, or in our own time, by Madame Bisson's medium, andtherefore he could dispense with complete darkness in his ownministry. Thus, his opinion was unjust to others. Again, Homedeclared roundly that matter could not pass through matter,because his own phenomena did not take that form; and yet theevidence that matter can in certain cases be passed throughmatter seems to be overwhelming. Even birds of rare varietieshave been brought into séance rooms under circ*mstances whichseem to preclude fraud, and the experiments of passing woodthrough wood, as shown before Zollner and the other Leipzigprofessors, were quite final as set forth in the famousphysicist's account in "Transcendental Physics" of hisexperiences with Slade. Thus, it may count as a small flaw inHome's character that he decried and doubted the powers which hehimself did not happen to possess.

Some also might count it as a failing that he carried hismessage rather to the leaders of society and of life than to thevast toiling masses. It is probable that Home had, in fact, theweakness as well as the graces of the artistic nature and that hewas most at ease and happiest in an atmosphere of elegance andrefinement, with a personal repulsion from all that was sordidand ill-favoured. If there were no other reason the precariousstate of his health unfitted him for any sterner mission, and hewas driven by repeated hemorrhages to seek the pleasant andrefined life of Italy, Switzerland and the Riviera. But for theprosecution of his mission, as apart from personal self-sacrifice, there can be no doubt that his message carried to thelaboratory of a Crookes or to the Court of a Napoleon was moreuseful than if it were laid before the crowd. The assent ofscience and of character was needed before the public could gainassurance that such things were true. If it was not fully gainedthe fault lies assuredly with the hidebound men of science andthinkers of the day, and by no means with Home, who played hispart of actual demonstration to perfection, leaving it to otherand less gifted men to analyse and to make public that which hehad shown them. He did not profess to be a man of science, but hewas the raw material of science, willing and anxious that othersshould learn from him all that he could convey to the world, sothat science should itself testify to religion while religionshould be buttressed upon science. When Home's message has beenfully learned an unbelieving man will not stand convicted ofimpiety, but of ignorance.

There was something pathetic in Home's efforts to find somecreed in which he could satisfy his own gregariousinstinct—for he had no claims to be a strong-mindedindividualist—and at the same time find a niche into whichhe could fit his own precious packet of assured truth. Hispilgrimage vindicates the assertion of some Spiritualists that aman may belong to any creed and carry with him the spiritualknowledge, but it also bears out those who reply that perfectharmony with that spiritual knowledge can only be found, asmatters now stand, in a special Spiritualist community. Alas!that it should be so, for it is too big a thing to sink into asect, however great that sect might become. Home began in hisyouth as a Wesleyan, but soon left them for the more liberalatmosphere of Congregationalism. In Italy the artistic atmosphereof the Roman Catholic Church, and possibly its record of so manyphenomena akin to his own, caused him to become a convert with anintention of joining a monastic Order—an intention whichhis common sense caused him to abandon. The change of religionwas at a period when his psychic powers had deserted him for ayear, and his confessor assured him that as they were of evilorigin they would certainly never be heard of again now that hewas a son of the true Church. None the less, on the very day thatthe year expired they came back in renewed strength. From thattime Home seems to have been only nominally a Catholic, if atall, and after his second marriage—both his marriages wereto Russian ladies —he was strongly drawn towards the GreekChurch, and it was under their ritual that he was at last laid torest at St. Germain in 1886. "To another discerning of Spirits"(I Cor. xii. 10) is the short inscription upon that grave, ofwhich the world has not yet heard the last.

If proof were needed of the blamelessness of Home's life, itcould not be better shown than by the fact that his numerousenemies, spying ever for some opening to attack, could getnothing in his whole career upon which to comment save the whollyinnocent affair which is known as the Home-Lyon case. Anyimpartial judge reading the depositions in this case—theyare to be found verbatim in the second series of "Incidents in MyLife" – would agree that it is not blame but commiserationwhich was owing to Home. One could desire no higher proof of thenobility of his character than his dealings with this unpleasantfreakish woman, who first insisted upon settling a large sum ofmoney upon him, and then, her whim having changed and herexpectations of an immediate introduction into high society beingdisappointed, stuck at nothing in order to get it back again. Hadshe merely asked for it back there is little doubt that Home'sdelicate feelings would have led him to return it, even though hehad been put to much trouble and expense over the matter, whichhad entailed a change of his name to Home-Lyon, to meet thewoman's desire that he should be her adopted son. Her request,however, was so framed that he could not honourably agree to it,as it would have implied an admission that he had done wrong inaccepting the gift. If one consults the originalletters—which few of those who comment upon the case seemto have done—one finds that Home, S. C. Hall as hisrepresentative and Mr. Wilkinson as his solicitor, implored thewoman to moderate the unreasonable benevolence which was tochange so rapidly into even more unreasonable malevolence. Shewas absolutely determined that Home should have the money and beher heir. A less mercenary man never lived, and he begged heragain and again to think of her relatives, to which she answeredthat the money was her own to do what she pleased with, and thatno relatives were dependent upon it. From the time that heaccepted the new situation he acted and wrote as a dutiful son,and it is not uncharitable to suppose that this entirely filialattitude may not have been that which this elderly lady hadplanned out in her scheming brain. At any rate, she soon tired ofher fad and reclaimed her money upon the excuse—a monstrousone to anyone who will read the letters and consider thedates—that spirit messages had caused her to take theaction she had done.

The case was tried in the Court of Chancery, and the judgealluded to Mrs. Lyon's "innumerable misstatements on manyimportant particulars – misstatements upon oath soperversely untrue that they have embarrassed the Court to a greatdegree and quite discredited the plaintiff's testimony." In spiteof this caustic comment, and in spite also of elementary justice,the verdict was against Home on the general ground that Britishlaw put the burden of disproof upon the defendant in such a case,and complete disproof is impossible when assertion is met bycounter-assertion. Lord Giffard might, no doubt, have risensuperior to the mere letter of the law had it not been that hewas deeply prejudiced against all claims to psychic power, whichwere from his point of view manifestly absurd and yet werepersisted in by the defendant under his nose in his own Court ofChancery. Even Home's worst enemies were forced to admit that thefact that he had retained the money in England and had not lodgedit where it would have been beyond recovery proved his honestintentions in this the most unfortunate episode of his life. Ofall the men of honour who called him friend, it is not recordedthat he lost one through the successful machinations of Mrs.Lyon. Her own motives were perfectly obvious. As all thedocuments were in order, her only possible way of getting themoney back was to charge Home with having extorted it from her bymisrepresentation, and she was cunning enough to know what chancea medium —even an amateur unpaid medium—would have inthe ignorant and material atmosphere of a mid-Victorian court oflaw. Alas! that we can omit the "mid-Victorian" and the statementstill holds good.

The powers of Home have been attested by so many famousobservers, and were shown under such frank conditions, that noreasonable man can possibly doubt them. Crookes's evidence aloneis conclusive.* There is also the remarkable book, reprinted at arecent date, in which Lord Dunraven gives the story of hisyouthful connexion with Home. But apart from these, among thosein England who investigated in the first few years and whosepublic testimony or letters to Home show they were not onlyconvinced of the genuineness of the phenomena, but also of theirspiritual origin, may be mentioned the duch*ess of Sutherland,Lady Shelley, Lady Gomm, Dr. Robert Chambers, Lady Otway, MissCatherine Sinclair, Mrs. Milner Gibson, Mr. and Mrs. WilliamHowitt, Mrs. De Burgh, Dr. Gully (of Malvern), Sir CharlesNicholson, Lady Dunsany, Sir Daniel Cooper, Mrs. Adelaide Senior,Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, Mrs. Makdougall Gregory, Mr.Pickersgill, R.A., Mr. E. L. Blanchard, and Mr. Robert Bell.

* Researches In The Phenomena OfSpiritualism, and S.P.R. Proceedings, VI., p. 98.

Others who went so far as to admit that the theory ofimposture was insufficient to account for the phenomena were: Mr.Ruskin, Mr. Thackeray (then editor of The CornhillMagazine), Mr. John Bright, Lord Dufferin, Sir Edwin Arnold,Mr. Heaphy, Mr. Durham (sculptor), Mr. Nassau Senior, LordLyndhurst, Mr. J. Hutchinson (ex-Chairman of the Stock Exchange),and Dr. Lockhart Robertson.

Such were his witnesses and such his works. And yet, when hismost useful and unselfish life had come to an end, it must berecorded to the eternal disgrace of our British Press that therewas hardly a paper which did not allude to him as an impostor anda charlatan. The time is coming, however, when he will berecognized for what he was, one of the pioneers in the slow andarduous advance of Humanity into that jungle of ignorance whichhas encompassed it so long.


X. — THE DAVENPORTBROTHERS

The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (12)

The Davenport Brothers.

IN order to present a consecutive story thecareer of D.D. Home has been traced in its entirety. It isnecessary now to return to earlier days in America and considerthe development of the two Davenports. Home and the Davenportsboth played an international part, and their history helps tocover the movement both in England and in the States. TheDavenports worked upon a far lower level than Home, making aprofession of their remarkable gifts, and yet by their crudemethods they got their results across to the multitude in a waywhich a more refined mediumship could not have done. If oneconsiders this whole train of events as having been engineered bya wise but by no means infallible or omnipotent force upon theOther Side, one observes how each occasion is met by theappropriate instrument, and how as one demonstration fails toimpress some other one is substituted.

The Davenports have been fortunate in their chroniclers. Twowriters have published books* describing the events of theirlife, and the periodical literature of the time is full of theirexploits.

Ira Erastus Davenport and William Henry Davenport were born atBuffalo in the State of New York, the former on September 17,1839, and the latter on February 1, 1841. Their father, who wasdescended from the early English settlers in America, occupied aposition in the police department of Buffalo. Their mother wasborn in Kent, England, and went to America when a child. Someindications of psychic gifts were observed in the mother's life.In 1846 the family were disturbed in the middle of the night bywhat they described as "raps, thumps, loud noises, snaps,crackling noises." This was two years before the outbreak in theFox family. But it was the Fox manifestations which, in this caseas in so many others, led them to investigate and discover theirmediumistic powers.

* A Biography Of The BrothersDavenport, by T. L. Nichols, M.D., London, 1864.Supramundane Facts In The Life Of Rev. J. B. Ferguson,LL.D., by T. L. Nichols, M.D., London, 1865. SpiritualExperiences: Including Seven Months with the BrothersDavenport, by Robert Cooper, London, 1867.

The two Davenport boys and their sister Elizabeth, theyoungest of the three, experimented by placing their hands on atable. Loud and violent noises were heard and messages were speltout. The news leaked abroad, and as with the Fox girls, hundredsof curious and incredulous people flocked to the house. Iradeveloped automatic writing, and handed to those present messageswritten with extraordinary rapidity and containing information hecould not have known. Levitation quickly followed, and the boywas floated in the air above the heads of those in the room at adistance of nine feet from the floor. Next, the brother andsister were influenced in the same way, and the three childrenfloated high up in the room. Hundreds of respectable citizens ofBuffalo are reported to have seen these occurrences. Once whenthe family was at breakfast the knives, forks, and dishes dancedabout and the table was raised in the air. At a sitting soonafter this a lead pencil was seen to write in broad daylight,with no human contact. Seances were now held regularly, lightsbegan to appear, and musical instruments floated and played abovethe heads of the company. The Direct Voice and otherextraordinary manifestations too numerous to mention followed.Yielding to requests from the communicating intelligences, thebrothers started journeying to various places and holding publicséances. Among strangers, tests were insisted upon. At first theboys were held by persons selected from those present, but thisbeing found unsatisfactory because it was thought that thoseholding them were confederates, the plan of tying them with ropeswas adopted. To read the list of ingenious tests successivelyproposed, and put into operation without interfering with themanifestations, shows how almost impossible it is to convinceresolute sceptics. As soon as one test succeeded another wasproposed, and so on. The professors of Harvard University in 1857conducted an examination of the boys and their phenomena. Theirbiographer writes*:

The professors exercised their ingenuity inproposing tests. Would they submit to be handcuffed? Yes. Wouldthey allow men to hold them? Yes. A dozen propositions were made,accepted, and then rejected by those who made them. If any testwas adopted by the brothers, that was reason enough for nottrying it. They were supposed to be prepared for that, so someother must be found.

* A Biography Of The BrothersDavenport, by T. L. Nichols, M.D., pp. 87-8.

Finally, the professors bought five hundred feet of new rope,bored with holes the cabinet set up in one of their rooms, andtrussed the boys in what is described as a brutal manner. All theknots in the rope were tied with linen thread, and one of theirnumber, Professor Pierce, took his place in the cabinet betweenthe two brothers. At once a phantom hand was shown, instrumentswere rattled and were felt by the professor about his head andface. At every movement he felt for the boys with his hands, onlyto find them still securely bound. The unseen operators at lastreleased the boys from their bindings, and when the cabinet wasopened the ropes were found twisted round the neck of theprofessor! After all this, the Harvard professors made no report.It is instructive also to read the account of the reallyingenious test-apparatus consisting of what may be described aswooden sleeves and trousers, securely fastened, devised by a mannamed Darling, in Bangor (U.S.A.). Like other tests, it provedincapable of preventing instant manifestations. It is to beremembered that many of these tests were applied at a time whenthe brothers were mere boys, too young to have learned anyelaborate means of deception.

It is not strange to read that the phenomena raised violentopposition almost everywhere, and the brothers were frequentlydenounced as jugglers and humbugs. It was after ten years ofpublic work in the largest cities and towns in the United Statesthat the Davenport Brothers came to England. They had submittedsuccessfully to every test that human ingenuity could devise, andno one had been able to say how their results were obtained. Theyhad won for themselves a great reputation. Now they had to beginall over again.

The two brothers, Ira and William, at this time were agedtwenty-five and twenty-three years respectively. The New YorkWorld thus describes them:

They looked remarkably like each other in almostevery particular, both quite handsome with rather long, curlyblack hair, broad, but not high foreheads, dark keen eyes, heavyeyebrows, moustache and "goatee," firm-set lips, muscular thoughwell-proportioned frame. They were dressed in black with dress-coats, one wearing a watch-chain.

Dr. Nichols, their biographer, gives this first impression ofthem:

The young men, with whom I have had but a briefpersonal acquaintance, and whom I never saw until their arrivalin London, appear to me to be in intellect and character abovethe average of their young countrymen, they are not remarkablefor cleverness, though of fair abilities, and Ira has someartistic talent . The young men seem entirely honest, andsingularly disinterested and unmercenary—far more anxiousto have people satisfied of their integrity and the reality oftheir manifestations than to make money. They have an ambition,without doubt, which is gratified in their having been selectedas the instruments of what they believe will be some great goodto mankind.

They were accompanied to England by the Rev. Dr. Ferguson,formerly pastor of a large church at Nashville, Tennessee, atwhich Abraham Lincoln attended, Mr. D. Palmer, a well-knownoperatic manager, who acted as secretary, and Mr. William M. Fay,who was also a medium.

Mr. P. B. Randall, in his biography of the Davenports (Boston1869, published anonymously), points out that their mission toEngland was "to meet on its own low ground and conquer, byappropriate means, the hard materialism and scepticism ofEngland." The first step to knowledge, he says, is to beconvinced of ignorance, and adds:

If the manifestations given by the aid of theBrothers Davenport can prove to the intellectual and scientificclasses that there are forces—and intelligent forces, orpowerful intelligences—beyond the range of theirphilosophies, and that what they consider physicalimpossibilities are readily accomplished by invisible, and tothem unknown, intelligences, a new universe will be open to humanthought and investigation.

There is little doubt that the mediums had this effect on manyminds.

The manifestations of Mrs. Hayden's mediumship were quiet andunobtrusive, and while those of D.D. Home were more remarkable,they were confined entirely to exclusive sets of people to whomno fees were charged. Now these two brothers hired public hallsand challenged the world at large to come and witness phenomenawhich passed the bounds of all ordinary belief. It needed noforesight to predict for them a strenuous time of opposition, andso it proved. But they attained the end which the unseendirectors undoubtedly had in view. They roused public attentionas it had never been roused before in England on this subject. Nobetter testimony in proof of that could be had than that of theirstrongest opponent, Mr. J. N. Maskelyne, the celebratedconjurer.

He writes*: "Certain it is, England was completely taken abackfor a time by the wonders presented by these jugglers." Hefurther adds:

The Brothers did more than all other men tofamiliarize England with the so-called Spiritualism, and beforecrowded audiences and under varied conditions, they producedreally wonderful feats. The hole-and-corner séances of othermedia, where with darkness or semi-darkness, and a pliant, orfrequently a devoted assembly, manifestations are occasionallysaid to occur, cannot be compared with the Davenport exhibitionsin their effect upon the public mind.

* Modern Spiritualism, p. 65.

Their first séance in London, a private one, was held onSeptember 28, 1864, at the residence in Regent Street of Mr. DionBoucicault, the famous actor and author, in the presence ofleading newspaper men and distinguished men of science. The Pressreports of the séance were remarkably full and, for a wonder,fair.

The account in the Morning Post the next day says thatthe guests were invited to make the most critical examination andto take all needful precautions against fraud or deception, andcontinues:

The party invited to witness the manifestationslast night consisted of some twelve or fourteen individuals, allof whom are admitted to be of considerable distinction in thevarious professions with which they are connected. The majorityhave never previously witnessed anything of the kind. All,however, were determined to detect and if possible expose anyattempt at deception. The Brothers Davenport are slightly built,gentleman-like in appearance, and about the last persons in theworld from whom any great muscular performances might beexpected. Mr. Fay is apparently a few years older, and of morerobust constitution.

After describing what occurred, the writer goes on:

All that can be asserted is, that the displaysto which we have referred took place on the present occasionunder conditions and circ*mstances that preclude the presumptionof fraud.

The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and othernewspapers published long and honest reports. We omit quotationsfrom them because the following important statement from Mr. DionBoucicault, which appeared in The Daily News as well as inmany other London journals, covers all the facts. It describes alater séance at Mr. Boucicault's house on October 11, 1864, atwhich were present, among others Viscount Bury, M.P., Sir CharlesWyke, Sir Charles Nicholson, the Chancellor of the University ofSydney, Mr. Robert Chambers, Charles Reade, the novelist, andCaptain Inglefield, the Arctic explorer.

SIR,

A séance by the Brothers Davenport and Mr. W.Fay took place in my house yesterday in the presence of... (herehe mentions twenty-four names including all those alreadyquoted)...

At three o'clock our party was fullyassembled... We sent to a neighbouring music-seller for sixguitars and two tambourines, so that the implements to be usedshould not be those with which the operators were familiar.

At half-past three the Davenport Brothers andMr. Fay arrived, and found that we had altered their arrangementsby changing the room which they had previously selected for theirmanifestations.

The séance then began by an examination of thedress and persons of the Brothers Davenport, and it was certifiedthat no apparatus or other contrivance was concealed on or abouttheir persons. They entered the cabinet, and sat facing eachother. Captain Inglefield then, with a new rope provided byourselves, tied Mr. W. Davenport hand and foot, with his handsbehind his back, and then bound him firmly to the seat where hesat. Lord Bury, in like manner, secured Mr. I. Davenport. Theknots on these ligatures were then fastened with sealing-wax, anda seal was affixed. A guitar, violin, tambourine, two bells, anda brass trumpet were placed on the floor of the cabinet. Thedoors were then closed, and a sufficient light was permitted inthe room to enable us to see what followed.

I shall omit any detailed account of the babelof sounds which arose in the cabinet, and the violence with whichthe doors were repeatedly burst open and the instrumentsexpelled; the hands appearing, as usual, at a lozenge-shapedorifice in the centre door of the cabinet. The followingincidents seem to us particularly worthy of note:

While Lord Bury was stooping inside the cabinet,the door being open and the two operators seen to be sealed andbound, a detached hand was clearly observed to descend upon him,and he started back, remarking that a hand had struck him. Again,in the full light of the gas chandelier and during an interval inthe séance, the doors of the cabinet being open, and while theligatures of the Brothers Davenport were being examined, a verywhite, thin, female hand and wrist quivered for several secondsin the air above. This appearance drew a general exclamation fromall the party.

Sir Charles Wyke now entered the cabinet and satbetween the two young men —his hands being right and lefton each, and secured to them. The doors were then closed, and thebabel of sounds recommenced. Several hands appeared at theorifice—among them the hand of a child. After a space, SirCharles returned amongst us and stated that while he held the twobrothers, several hands touched his face and pulled his hair; theinstruments at his feet crept up, played round his body and overhis head—one of them lodging eventually on his shoulders.During the foregoing incidents the hands which appeared weretouched and grasped by Captain Inglefield, and he stated that tothe touch they were apparently human hands, though they passedaway from his grasp.

I omit mentioning other phenomena, an account ofwhich has already been rendered elsewhere.

The next part of the séance was performed in thedark. One of the Messrs. Davenport and Mr. Fay seated themselvesamongst us. Two ropes were thrown at their feet, and in twominutes and a half they were tied hand and foot, their handsbehind their backs bound tightly to their chairs, and theirchairs bound to an adjacent table. While this process was goingon, the guitar rose from the table and swung or floated round theroom and over the heads of the party, and slightly touching some.Now a phosphoric light shot from side to side over our heads; thelaps and hands and shoulders of several were simultaneouslytouched, struck, or pawed by hands, the guitar meanwhile sailinground the room, now near the ceiling, and then scuffling on thehead and shoulders of some luck less Wight. The bells whiskedhere and there, and a light thrumming was maintained on theviolin. The two tambourines seemed to roll hither and thither onthe floor, now shaking violently, and now visiting the knees andhands of our circle—all these foregoing actions, audible ortangible, being simultaneous. Mr. Rideout, holding a tambourine,requested it might be plucked from his hand; it was almostinstantaneously taken from him. At the same time, Lord Bury madea similar request, and a forcible attempt to pluck a tambourinefrom his grasp was made which he resisted. Mr. Fay then askedthat his coat should be removed. We heard instantly a violenttwitch, and here occurred the most remarkable fact. A light wasstruck before the coat had quite, left Mr. Fay's person, and itwas seen quitting him, plucked off him upwards. It flew up to thechandelier, where it hung for a moment and then fell to theground. Mr. Fay was seen meanwhile bound hand and foot as before.One of our party now divested himself of his coat, and it wasplaced on the table. The light was extinguished and this coat wasrushed on to Mr. Fay's back with equal rapidity. During the aboveoccurrences in the dark, we placed a sheet of paper under thefeet of these two operators, and drew with a pencil an outlinearound them, to the end that if they moved it might be detected.They of their own accord offered to have their hands filled withflour, or any other similar substance, to prove they made no useof them, but this precaution was deemed unnecessary; we requiredthem, however, to count from one to twelve repeatedly, that theirvoices constantly heard might certify to us that they were in theplaces where they were tied. Each of our own party held hisneighbour firmly, so that no one could move without two adjacentneighbours being aware of it.

At the termination of this séance, a generalconversation took place on the subject of what we had heard andwitnessed. Lord Bury suggested that the general opinion seemed tobe that we should assure the Brothers Davenport and Mr. W. Faythat after a very stringent trial and strict scrutiny of theirproceedings, the gentlemen present could arrive at no otherconclusion than that there was no trace of trickery in any form,and certainly there were neither confederates nor machinery, andthat all those who had witnessed the results would freely statein the society in which they moved that, so far as theirinvestigations enabled them to form an opinion, the phenomenawhich had taken place in their presence were not the product oflegerdemain. This suggestion was promptly acceded to by allpresent.

There is a concluding paragraph in which Mr. Dion Boucicaultstates that he is not a Spiritualist, and at the close of thereport his name and the date are affixed.

This wonderfully full and lucid account is given withoutabbreviation because it supplies the answer to many objections,and because the character of the narrator and the witnessescannot be questioned. It surely must be accepted as quite finalso far as honesty is concerned. All subsequent objections aremere ignorance of the facts.

In October, 1864, the Davenports began to give public séancesat the Queen's Concert Rooms, Hanover Square. Committees wereappointed from the audience, and every effort made to detect howit was all done, but without avail. These séances, interspersedwith private ones, were continued almost nightly until the closeof the year. The daily Press was full of accounts of them, andthe brothers' names were on everyone's lips. Early in 1865 theytoured the English provinces, and in Liverpool, Huddersfield, andLeeds they suffered violence at the hands of excited mobs. AtLiverpool, in February, two members of the audience tied theirhands so brutally that blood flowed, and Mr. Ferguson cut therope and released them. The Davenports refused to continue, andthe mob rushed the platform and smashed up the cabinet. The sametactics were resorted to at Huddersfield on February 21, and thenat Leeds with increased violence, the result of organizedopposition. These riots led to the Davenports cancelling anyother engagements in England. They next went to Paris, where theyreceived a summons to appear at the Palace of St. Cloud, wherethe Emperor and Empress and a party of about forty witnessed aséance. While in Paris, Hamilton, the successor of the celebratedconjurer., Robert Houdin, visited them, and in a letter to aParis newspaper, he said: "The phenomena surpassed myexpectations, and the experiments are full of interest for me. Iconsider it my duty to add they are inexplicable." After a returnvisit to London, Ireland was visited at the beginning of 1866. InDublin they had many influential sitters, including the editor ofthe Irish Times and the Rev. Dr. Tisdal, who publiclyproclaimed his belief in the manifestations.


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (13)

The Davenport Brothers in Their SéanceCabinet.


In April of the same year the Davenports went to Hamburg andthen to Berlin, but the expected war (which their guides toldthem would come about) made the trip unremunerative. Theatremanagers offered them liberal terms for exhibitions, but, heedingthe advice of their ever-present spirit monitor, who said thattheir manifestations, being supernatural, should be kept abovethe level of theatrical entertainments, they declined, thoughmuch against the wish of their business manager. During theirmonth's stay in Berlin they were visited by members of the Royalfamily. After three weeks in Hamburg they proceeded to Belgium,where considerable success was attained in Brussels, and all theprincipal towns. They next went to Russia, arriving in St.Petersburg on December 27, 1866. On January 7, 1867, they gavetheir first public séance to an audience numbering one thousand.The next séance was at the residence of the French Ambassador toa gathering of about fifty people, including officers of theImperial Court, and on January q they gave a séance in the WinterPalace to the Emperor and the Imperial family. They afterwardsvisited Poland and Sweden. On April 11, 1868, they reappeared inLondon at the Hanover Square Rooms, and received an enthusiasticwelcome from a crowded audience. Mr. Benjamin Coleman, aprominent Spiritualist, who arranged their first public séancesin London, writing at this time of their stay of close on fouryears in Europe, says*:

I desire to convey to those of my friends inAmerica who introduced them to me, the assurance of my convictionthat the Brothers' mission to Europe has been of great service toSpiritualism; that their public conduct as mediums—in whichrelation I alone know them—has been steady andunexceptionable.

* Spiritual Magazine, 1868, p.321.

He adds that he knows no form of mediumship better adapted fora large audience than theirs. After this visit to London theDavenports returned home to America. The brothers visitedAustralia in 1876, and on August 24 gave their first publicséance in Melbourne. William died in Sydney in July, 1877.

Throughout their career the Davenport Brothers excited thedeep envy and malice of the conjuring fraternity. Maskelyne, withamazing effrontery, pretended to have exposed them in England.His claims in this direction have been well answered by Dr.George Sexton, a former editor of The Spiritual Magazine,who described in public, in the presence of Mr. Maskelyne, howhis tricks were done, and comparing them with the resultsachieved by the Davenports, said: "The two bear about as muchresemblance to each other as the productions of the poet Close tothe sublime and glorious dramas of the immortal bard of Avon."*Still the conjurers made more noise in public than theSpiritualists, and with the Press to support them they made thegeneral public believe that the Davenport Brothers had beenexposed.

* Address at Cavendish Rooms, London, June15, 1873.

In announcing the death in America of Ira Davenport in 1911,Light comments on the outpouring of journalistic ignorancefor which it furnished the opportunity. The Daily News is quotedas saying of the brothers: "They made the mistake of appearing assorcerers instead of as honest conjurers. If, like theirconqueror, Maskelyne, they had thought of saying, 'It's sosimple,' the brethren might have achieved not only fortune butrespectability." In reply to this, Light asks why, if theywere mere conjurers and not honest believers in their mediumship,did the Davenport Brothers endure hardships, insults, andinjuries, and suffer the indignities that were put upon them,when by renouncing their claims to mediumship they might havebeen "respectable" and rich?

An inevitable remark on the part of those who are not able todetect trickery is to ask what elevating purpose can be furtheredby phenomena such as those observed with the Davenports. Thewell-known author and sturdy Spiritualist, William Howitt, hasgiven a good answer:

Are these who play tricks and fling aboutinstruments spirits from Heaven? Can God really send such? Yes,God sends them, to teach us this, if nothing more: that He hasservants of all grades and tastes ready to do all kinds of work,and He has here sent what you call low and harlequin spirits to alow and very sensual age. Had He sent anything higher it wouldhave gone right over the heads of their audiences. As it is,nine-tenths cannot take in what they see.

It is a sad reflection that the Davenports—probably thegreatest mediums of their kind that the world has everseen—suffered throughout their lives from brutal oppositionand even persecution. Many times they were in danger of theirlives.

One is forced to think that there could be no clearer evidenceof the influence of the dark forces of evil than the prevailinghostility to all spiritual manifestations.

Touching this aspect, Mr. Randall says*:

There seems to be a sort of chronic dislike,almost hatred, in the minds of some persons toward any andeverything spiritual. It seems as if it were a vapour floating,in the air—a kind of mental spore flowing through thespaces, and breathed in by the great multitude of humankind,which kindles a rankly poisonous fire in their hearts against allthose whose mission it is to bring peace on earth and good willto men. The future men and women of the world will marvel greatlyat those now living, when they shall, as they will, read that theDavenports, and all other mediums, were forced to encounter themost inveterate hostility; that they, and the writer among them,were compelled to endure horrors baffling description, for noother offence than trying to convince the multitude that theywere not beasts that perish and leave no sign, but immortal,deathless, grave-surviving souls.

Mediums alone are capable ofdemonstrating the fact of man's continued existence afterdeath; and yet (strange inconsistency of human nature) the verypeople who persecute these, their truest and best friends, andfairly hound them to premature death or despair, are the veryones who freely lavish all that wealth can give upon those whoseoffice it is merely to guess at human immortality.

* Biography, p. 82.

In discussing the claims of various professional magicians tohave exposed or imitated the Davenports, Sir Richard Burtonsaid:

I have spent a great part of my life in Orientallands, and have seen their many magicians. Lately I have beenpermitted to see and be present at the performances of Messrs.Anderson and Tolmaque. The latter showed, as they profess, cleverconjuring, but they do not even attempt what the Messrs.Davenport and Fay succeed in doing: for instance, the beautifulmanagement of the musical instruments. Finally, I have read andlistened to every explanation of the Davenport "tricks" hithertoplaced before the English public, and, believe me, if anythingwould make me take that tremendous jump "from matter to spirit,"it is the utter and complete unreason of the reasons by which the"manifestations" are explained.

It is to be remarked that the Davenports themselves, ascontrasted with their friends and travelling companions, neverclaimed any preternatural origin for their results. The reasonfor this may have been that as an entertainment it was morepiquant and less provocative when every member of the audiencecould form his own solution. Writing to the American conjurerHoudini, Ira Davenport said in his old age, "We never in publicaffirmed our belief in Spiritualism. That we regarded as nobusiness of the public, nor did we offer our entertainment as theresult of sleight-of-hand, or, on the other hand, asSpiritualism. We let our friends and foes settle that as bestthey could between themselves, but, unfortunately, we were oftenthe victims of their disagreements."

Houdini further claimed that Davenport admitted that hisresults were normally effected, but Houdini has himself stuffedso many errors of fact into his book, "A Magician Among theSpirits," and has shown such extraordinary bias on the whalequestion, that his statement carries no weight. The letter whichhe produces makes no such admission. A further statement quotedas being made by Ira Davenport is demonstrably false. It is thatthe instruments never left the cabinet. As a matter of fact, TheTimer representative was severely struck in the face by afloating guitar, his brow being cut, and on several occasionswhen a light was struck instruments dropped all over the room. IfHoudini has completely misunderstood this latter statement, it isnot likely that he is very accurate upon the former (VideAppendix).

It may be urged, and has been urged, by Spiritualists as wellas by sceptics that such mountebank psychic exhibitions areundignified and unworthy. There are many of us who think so, andyet there are many others who would echo these words of Mr. P. B.Randall:

The fault lies not with the immortals, but inus; for, as is the demand, so is the supply. If we cannot bereached in one way, we must be, and are, reached in another; andthe wisdom of the eternal world gives the blind race just as muchas it can bear and no more. If we are intellectual babes, we mustput up with mental pap till our digestive capacities warrant anddemand stronger food; and, if people can best be convinced ofimmortality by spiritual pranks and antics, the ends resorted tojustify the means. The sight of a spectral arm in an audience ofthree thousand persons will appeal to more hearts, make a deeperimpression, and convert more people to a belief in theirhereafter, in ten minutes, than a whole regiment of preachers, nomatter how eloquent, could in five years.


XI. — THE RESEARCHESOF
SIR WILLIAM CROOKES (1870-1874)


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (14)

Sir William Crookes.


The research into the phenomena of Spiritualismby Sir William Crookes —or Professor Crookes, as he thenwas—during the years from 1870 to 1874 is one of theoutstanding incidents in the history of the movement. It isnotable on account of the high scientific standing of theinquirer, the stern and yet just spirit in which the inquiry wasconducted, the extraordinary results, and the uncompromisingdeclaration of faith which followed them. It has been a favouritedevice of the opponents of the movement to attribute somephysical weakness or growing senility to each fresh witness topsychic truth, but none can deny that these researches werecarried out by a man at the very zenith of his mentaldevelopment, and that the famous career which followed was asufficient proof of his intellectual stability. It is to beremarked that the result was to prove the integrity not only ofthe medium Florence Cook with whom the more sensational resultswere obtained, but also that of D.D. Home and of Miss Kate Fox,who were also severely tested.

Sir William Crookes, who was born in 1832 and died in 1919,was pre-eminent in the world of science.

Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1863, he receivedfrom this body in 1875 a Royal Gold Medal for his variouschemical and physical researches, the Davy Medal in 1888, and theSir Joseph Copley Medal in 1904. He was knighted by QueenVictoria in 1897, and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1910. Heoccupied the position of President at different tunes of theRoyal Society, the Chemical Society, the Institution ofElectrical Engineers, the British Association, and the Societyfor Psychical Research. His discovery of the new chemical elementwhich he named "Thallium," his inventions of the radiometer, thespinthariscope, and the "Crookes' tube," only represent a slightpart of his great research. He founded in 1859 The ChemicalNews, which he edited, and in 1864 he became editor of theQuarterly Journal Of Science. In 1880 the French Academyof Sciences awarded him a gold medal and a prize of 3,000 francsin recognition of his important work.

Crookes confesses that he began his investigations intopsychical phenomena believing that the whole matter might proveto be a trick. His scientific brethren held the same view, andwere delighted at the course he had adopted. Profoundsatisfaction was expressed because the subject was to beinvestigated by a man so thoroughly qualified. They had littledoubt that what were considered to be the sham pretensions ofSpiritualism would now be exposed. One writer said, "If men likeMr. Crookes grapple with the subject we shall soon know how muchto believe." Dr. (afterwards Professor) Balfour Stewart, in acommunication to Nature, commended the boldness and honesty whichhad led Mr. Crookes to take this step. Crookes himself took theview that it was the duty of scientists to make suchinvestigation. He writes: "It argues ill for the boasted freedomof opinion among scientific men that they have so long refused toinstitute a scientific investigation into the existence andnature of facts asserted by so many competent and crediblewitnesses, and which they are freely invited to examine when andwhere they please. For my own part, I too much value the pursuitof truth, and the discovery of any new fact in Nature, to avoidinquiry because it appears to clash with prevailing opinions." Inthis spirit he began his inquiry.

It should be stated, however, that though Professor Crookeswas sternly critical as to the physical phenomena, already he hadhad acquaintance with the mental phenomena, and would appear tohave accepted them. Possibly this sympathetic spiritual attitudemay have aided him in obtaining his remarkable results, for itcannot be too often repeated—because it is too oftenforgotten—that psychic research of the best sort is really"psychic," and depends upon spiritual conditions. It is not thebumptious self-opinionated man, sitting with a ludicrous want ofproportion as a judge upon spiritual matters, who attainsresults; but it is he who appreciates that the strict use ofreason and observation is not incompatible with humility of mind,and that courteous gentleness of demeanour which makes forharmony and sympathy between the inquirer and his subject.

Crookes's less material inquiries seem to have begun in thesummer of 1869. In July of that year he had sittings with thewell-known medium, Mrs. Marshall, and in December with anotherfamous medium, J. J. Morse. In July, 1869, D.D. Home who had beengiving séances in St. Petersburg, returned to London with aletter of introduction to Crookes from Professor Butlerof.

An interesting fact emerges from a private diary kept byCrookes during his voyage to Spain in December, 1870, with theEclipse Expedition. Under the date December 31, he writes:*

I cannot help reverting in thought to this timelast year. Nelly (his wife) and I were then sitting together incommunion with dear departed friends, and as twelve o'clockstruck they wished us many happy New Years. I feel that they arelooking on now, and as space is no obstacle to them, they are, Ibelieve, looking over my dear Nelly at the same time. Over usboth I know there is one whom we all—spirits as well asmortals—bow down to as Father and Master, and it is myhumble prayer to Him—the Great Good as the mandarin callsHim—that He will continue His merciful protection to Nellyand me and our dear little family. May He also allow us tocontinue to receive spiritual communications from my brother whopassed over the boundary when in a ship at sea more than threeyears ago.

* Life Of Sir William Crookes, by E.E. Fournier d'Albe, 1923.

He further adds New Year loving greetings to his wife andchildren, and concludes:

And when the earthly years have ended may wecontinue to spend still happier ones in the spirit land, glimpsesof which I am occasionally getting.

Miss Florence Cook, with whom Crookes undertook his classicalseries of experiments, was a young girl of fifteen who wasasserted to possess strong psychic powers, taking the rare shapeof complete materialization. It would appear to have been afamily characteristic, for her sister, Miss Kate Cook, was notless famous. There had been some squabble with an allegedexposure in which a Mr. Volckman had taken sides against MissCook, and in her desire for vindication she placed herselfentirely under the protection of Mrs. Crookes, declaring that herhusband might make any experiments upon her powers under his ownconditions, and asking for no reward save that he should clearher character as a medium by giving his exact conclusions to theworld. Fortunately, she was dealing with a man of unswervingintellectual honesty. We have had experience in these latter daysof mediums giving themselves up in the same unreserved way toscientific investigation and being betrayed by the investigators,who had not the moral courage to admit those results which wouldhave entailed their own public acceptance of the spiritualinterpretation.

Professor Crookes published a full account of his methods inthe Quarterly Journal Of Science, of which he was theneditor. In his house at Mornington Road a small study opened intothe chemical laboratory, a door with a curtain separating the tworooms. Miss Cook lay entranced upon a couch in the inner room. Inthe outer in subdued light sat Crookes, with such other observersas he invited. At the end of a period which varied from twentyminutes to an hour the materialized figure was built up from theectoplasm of the medium. The existence of this substance and itsmethod of production were unknown at that date, but subsequentresearch has thrown much light upon it, an account of which hasbeen embodied in the chapter on ectoplasm. The actual effect wasthat the curtain was opened, and there emerged into thelaboratory a female who was usually as different from the mediumas two people could be. This apparition, which could move, talk,and act in all ways as an independent entity, is known by thename which she herself claimed as her own, "Katie King."

The natural explanation of the sceptic is that the two womenwere really the same woman, and that Katie was a cleverimpersonation of Florence. The objector could strengthen his caseby the observation made not only by Crookes but by Miss Marryatand others, that there were times when Katie was very likeFlorence.

Herein lies one of the mysteries of materialization which callfor careful consideration rather than sneers. The author, sittingwith Miss Besinnet, the famous American medium, has remarked thesame thing, the psychic faces beginning when the power was weakby resembling those of the medium, and later becoming utterlyunlike. Some speculators have imagined that the etheric form ofthe medium, her spiritual body, has been liberated by the trance,and is the basis upon which the other manifesting entities buildup their own simulacra. However that may be, the fact has to beadmitted; and it is paralleled by Direct Voice phenomena, wherethe voice often resembles that of the medium at first and thentakes an entirely different tone, or divides into two voicesspeaking at the same time.

However, the student has certainly the right to claim thatFlorence Cook and Katie King were the same individual untilconvincing evidence is laid before him that this is impossible.Such evidence Professor Crookes is very careful to give.

The points of difference which he observed between Miss Cookand Katie are thus described:

Katie's height varies; in my house I have seenher six inches taller than Miss Cook. Last night, with bare feetand not tip-toeing, she was four and a half inches taller thanMiss Cook. Katie's neck was bare last night; the skin wasperfectly smooth both to touch and sight, whilst on Miss Cook'sneck is a large blister, which under similar circ*mstances isdistinctly visible and rough to the touch. Katie's ears areunpierced, whilst Miss Cook habitually wears ear-rings. Katie'scomplexion is very fair, while that of Miss Cook is very dark.Katie's fingers are much longer than Miss Cook's, and her face isalso larger. In manners and ways of expression there are alsomany decided differences.

In a later contribution, he adds:

Having seen so much of Katie lately, when shehas been illuminated by the electric light, I am enabled to addto the points of difference between her and her medium which Imentioned in a former article. I have the most absolute certaintythat Miss Cook and Katie are two separate individuals so far astheir bodies are concerned. Several little marks on Miss Cook'sface are absent on Katie's. Miss Cook's hair is so dark a brownas almost to appear black; a lock of Katie's, which is now beforeme, and which she allowed me to cut from her luxuriant tresses,having first traced it up to the scalp and satisfied myself thatit actually grew there, is a rich golden auburn.

On one evening I timed Katie's pulse. It beatsteadily at 75, whilst Miss Cook's pulse a little time after wasgoing at its usual rate of 90. On applying my ear to Katie'schest, I could hear a heart beating rhythmically inside, andpulsating even more steadily than did Miss Cook's heart when sheallowed me to try a similar experiment after the séance. Testedin the same way, Katie's lungs were found to be sounder than hermedium's, for at the time I tried my experiment Miss Cook wasunder medical treatment for a severe cough.

Crookes took forty-four photographs of Katie King by the aidof electric light. Writing in The Spiritualist (1874, p.270), he describes the methods he adopted:

During the week before Katie took her departure,she gave séances at my house almost nightly, to enable me tophotograph her by artificial light. Five complete sets ofphotographic apparatus were accordingly fitted up for thepurpose, consisting of five cameras, one of the whole-plate size,one half-plate, one quarter-plate, and two binocular stereoscopiccameras, which were all brought to bear upon Katie at the sametime on each occasion on which she stood for her portrait. Fivesensitizing and fixing baths were used, and plenty of plates werecleaned ready for use in advance, so that there might be no hitchor delay during the photographing operations, which wereperformed by myself, aided by one assistant.

My library was used as a dark cabinet. It hasfolding doors opening into the laboratory; one of these doors wastaken off its hinges, and a curtain suspended in its place toenable Katie to pass in and out easily. Those of our friends whowere present were seated in the laboratory facing the curtain,and the cameras were placed a little behind them, ready tophotograph Katie when she came outside, and to photographanything also inside the cabinet, whenever the curtain waswithdrawn for the purpose. Each evening there were three or fourexposures of plates in the five cameras, giving at least fifteenseparate pictures at each séance; some of these were spoilt inthe developing, and some in regulating the amount of light.Altogether I have forty-four negatives, some inferior, someindifferent, and some excellent.

Some of these photographs are in the author's possession, andsurely there is no more wonderful impression upon any plate thanthat which shows Crookes at the height of his manhood, with thisangel—for such in truth she was—leaning upon his arm.The word "angel" may seem an exaggeration, but when an other-world spirit submits herself to the discomforts of temporary andartificial existence in order to convey the lesson of survival toa material and worldly generation, there is no more fittingterm.

Some controversy has arisen as to whether Crookes ever saw themedium and Katie at the same moment. Crookes says in the courseof his report that he frequently followed Katie into the cabinet,"and have sometimes seen her and her medium together, but mostgenerally I have found nobody but the entranced medium lying onthe floor, Katie and her white robes having instantaneouslydisappeared."

Much more direct testimony, however, is given by Crookes in aletter to the Banner Of Light (U.S.A.), which isreproduced in The Spiritualist (London) of July 17, 1874,p. 29. He writes:

In reply to your request, I beg to state that Isaw Miss Cook and Katie together at the same moment, by the lightof a phosphorus lamp, which was quite sufficient to enable me tosee distinctly all I described. The human eye will naturally takein a wide angle, and thus the two figures were included in myfield of vision at the same time, but the light being dim, andthe two faces being several feet apart, I naturally turned thelamp and my eyes alternately from one to the other, when Idesired to bring either Miss Cook's or Katie's face to thatportion of my field of view where vision is most distinct. Sincethe occurrence here referred to took place, Katie and Miss Cookhave been seen together by myself and eight other persons, in myown house, illuminated by the full blaze of the electric light.On this occasion Miss Cook's face was not visible, as her headhad to be closely bound up in a thick shawl, but I speciallysatisfied myself that she was there. An attempt to throw thelight direct on to her uncovered face, when entranced, wasattended with serious consequences.

The camera, too, emphasizes the points of difference betweenthe medium and the form. He says:

One of the most interesting of the pictures isone in which I am standing by the side of Katie; she has her barefoot upon a particular part of the floor. Afterwards I dressedMiss Cook like Katie, placed her and myself in exactly the sameposition, and we were photographed by the same cameras, placedexactly as in the other experiment, and illuminated by the samelight. When these two pictures are placed over each other, thetwo photographs of myself coincide exactly as regards stature,etc., but Katie is half a head taller than Miss Cook, and looks abig woman in comparison with her. In the breadth of her face, inmany of the pictures, she differs essentially in size from hermedium, and the photographs show several other points ofdifference.

Crookes pays a high tribute to the medium, Florence Cook:

The almost daily séances with which Miss Cookhas lately favoured me have proved a severe tax upon herstrength, and I wish to make the most public acknowledgment ofthe obligations I am under to her for her readiness to assist mein my experiments. Every test that I have proposed she has atonce agreed to submit to with the utmost willingness; she is openand straightforward in speech, and I have never seen anythingapproaching the slightest symptom of a wish to deceive. Indeed, Ido not believe she could carry on a deception if she were to try,and if she did she would certainly be found out very quickly, forsuch a line of action is altogether foreign to her nature. And toimagine that an innocent schoolgirl of fifteen should be able toconceive and then successfully carry out for three years sogigantic an imposture as this, and in that time should submit toany test which might be imposed upon her, should bear thestrictest scrutiny, should be willing to be searched at any time,either before or after a séance, and should meet with even bettersuccess in my own house than at that of her parents, knowing thatshe visited me with the express object of submitting to strictscientific tests—to imagine, I say, the Katie King of thelast three years to be the result of imposture, does moreviolence to one's reason and common sense than to believe her tobe what she herself affirms.*

* Researches In The Phenomena OfSpiritualism.


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (15)

Crookes's test to show that the medium and thespirit were separate entities.
After a drawing by S.Drigin.


Granting that a temporary form was built up from the ectoplasmof Florence Cook, and that this form was then occupied and usedby an independent being who called herself "Katie King," we arestill faced with the question, "Who was Katie King?" To this wecan only give the answer which she gave herself, while admittingthat we have no proof of it. She declared that she was thedaughter of John King, who had long been known amongSpiritualists as the presiding spirit at séances held formaterial phenomena. His personality is discussed later in thechapter upon the Eddy brothers and Mrs. Holmes, to which thereader is referred. Her earth name had been Morgan, and King wasrather the general title of a certain class of spirits than anordinary name. Her life had been spent two hundred years before,in the reign of Charles the Second, in the island of Jamaica.Whether this be true or not, she undoubtedly conformed to thepart, and her general conversation was consistent with heraccount. One of the daughters of Professor Crookes wrote to theauthor and described her vivid recollection of tales of theSpanish Main told by this kindly spirit to the children of thefamily. She made herself beloved by all. Mrs. Crookes wrote:

At a séance with Miss Cook in our own house whenone of our sons was an infant of three weeks old, Katie King, amaterialized spirit, expressed the liveliest interest in him andasked to be allowed to see the baby. The infant was accordinglybrought into the séance room and placed in the arms of Katie,who, after holding him in the most natural way for a short time,smilingly gave him back again.

Professor Crookes has left it on record that her beauty andcharm were unique in his experience.

The reader may reasonably think that the subdued light whichhas been alluded to goes far to vitiate the results by preventingexact observation. Professor Crookes has assured us, however,that as the series of séances proceeded toleration wasestablished, and the figure was able to bear a far greater degreeof light. This toleration had its limits, however, which werenever passed by Professor Crookes, but which were tested to thefull in a daring experiment described by Miss Florence Marryat(Mrs. Ross-Church). It should be stated that Professor Crookeswas not present at this experience, nor did Miss Marryat everclaim that he was. She mentions, however, the name of Mr. CarterHall as being one of the company present. Katie had very good-humouredly consented to testing what the effect would be if afull light were turned upon her image:

She took up her station against the drawing-roomwall, with her arms extended as if she were crucified. Then threegas-burners were turned on to their full extent in a room aboutsixteen feet square. The effect upon Katie King was marvellous.She looked like herself for the space of a second only, then shebegan gradually to melt away. I can compare the dematerializationof her form to nothing but a wax doll melting before a hot fire.First the features became blurred and indistinct; they seemed torun into each other. The eyes sunk in the sockets, the nosedisappeared, the frontal bone fell in. Next the limbs appeared togive way under her, and she sank lower and lower on the carpet,like a crumbling edifice. At last there was nothing but her headleft above the ground—then a heap of white drapery only,which disappeared with a whisk, as if a hand had pulled it afterher—and we were left staring by the light of three gas-burners at the spot on which Katie King had stood.*

* There Is No Death, p. 143.

Miss Marryat adds the interesting detail that at some of theseséances Miss Cook's hair was nailed to the ground, which did notin the least interfere with the subsequent emergence of Katiefrom the cabinet.

The results obtained in his own home were honestly andfearlessly reported by Professor Crookes in his Journal, andcaused the greatest possible commotion in the scientific world. Afew of the larger spirits, men like Russel Wallace, LordRayleigh, the young and rising physicist William Barrett,Cromwell Varley, and others, had their former views confirmed, orwere encouraged to advance upon a new path of knowledge. Therewas a fiercely intolerant party, however, headed by Carpenter thephysiologist, who derided the matter and were ready to imputeanything from lunacy to fraud to their illustrious colleague.Organized science carne badly out of the matter. In his publishedaccount Crookes gave the letters in which he asked Stokes, thesecretary of the Royal Society, to come down and see these thingswith his own eyes. By his refusal to do so, Stokes placed himselfin exactly the same position as those cardinals who would notlook at the moons of Jupiter through Galileo's telescope.Material science, when faced with a new problem, showed itself tobe just as bigoted as mediaeval theology.

Before quitting the subject of Katie King one should say a fewwords as to the future of the great medium from whom she had herphysical being. Miss Cook became Mrs. Corner, but continued toexhibit her remarkable powers. The author is only aware of oneoccasion upon which the honesty of her mediumship was called inquestion, and that was when she was seized by Sir George Sitwelland accused of personating a spirit. The author is of opinionthat a materializing medium should always be secured so that shecannot wander around—and this as a protection againstherself. It is unlikely that she will move in deep trance, but inthe half-trance condition there is nothing to prevent herunconsciously, or semi-consciously, or in obedience to suggestionfrom the expectations of the circle, wandering out of the cabinetinto the room. It is a reflection of our own ignorance that alifetime of proof should be clouded by a single episode of thisnature. It is worthy of remark, however, that upon this occasionthe observers agreed that the figure was white, whereas when Mrs.Corner was seized no white was to be seen. An experiencedinvestigator would probably have concluded that this was not amaterialization, but a transfiguration, which means that theectoplasm, being insufficient to build up a complete figure, hasbeen used to drape the medium so that she herself may carry thesimulacrum. Commenting upon such cases, the great Germaninvestigator, Dr. Schrenck Notzing, says*:

* Phenomena Of Materialization(English Translation).

This (a photograph) is interesting as throwing alight on the genesis of the so-called transfiguration, I.E. themedium takes upon herself the part of the spirit, endeavouring todramatize the character of the person in question by clothingherself in the materialized fabrics. This transition stage isfound in nearly all materialization mediums. The literature ofthe subject records a large number of attempts at exposure ofmediums thus impersonating "spirits," e.g. that of the mediumBastian by the Crown Prince Rudolph, that of Crookes's medium,Miss Cook, that of Madame d'Esperance, etc. In all these casesthe medium was seized, but the fabrics used for maskingimmediately disappeared, and were not afterwards found.

It would appear, then, that the true reproach in such caseslies with the negligent sitters rather than with the unconsciousmedium.

The sensational nature of Professor Crookes's experiments withMiss Cook, and the fact, no doubt, that they seemed morevulnerable to attack, have tended to obscure his very positiveresults with Home and with Miss Fox, which have established thepowers of those mediums upon a solid basis. Crookes soon foundthe usual difficulties which researchers encounter, but he hadsense enough to realize that in an entirely new subject one hasto adapt oneself to the conditions, and not abandon the study indisgust because the conditions refuse to adapt themselves to ourown preconceived ideas. Thus, in speaking of Home, he says:

The experiments I have tried have been verynumerous, but owing to our imperfect knowledge of the conditionswhich favour or oppose the manifestations of this force, to theapparently capricious manner in which it is exerted, and to thefact that Mr. Home himself is subject to unaccountable ebbs andflows of the force, it has but seldom happened that a resultobtained on one occasion could be subsequently confirmed andtested with apparatus specially contrived for the purpose.*

* Researches In The Phenomena OfSpiritualism, p. 10.

The most marked of these results was the alteration in theweight of objects, which was afterwards so completely confirmedby Dr. Crawford working with the Goligher circle, and also in thecourse of the "Margery" investigation at Boston. Heavy objectscould be made light, and light ones heavy, by the action of someunseen force which appeared to be under the influence of anindependent intelligence. The checks by which all possible fraudwas eliminated are very fully set out in the record of theexperiments, and must convince any unprejudiced reader. Dr.Huggins, the well-known authority on the spectroscope, andSerjeant Cox, the eminent lawyer, together with several otherspectators, witnessed the experiments. As already recorded,however, Crookes found it impossible to get some of the officialheads of science to give the matter one hour of theirattention.

The playing upon musical instruments, especially an accordion,under circ*mstances when it was impossible to reach the notes,was another of the phenomena which was very thoroughly examinedand then certified by Crookes and his distinguished assistants.Granting that the medium has himself the knowledge which wouldenable him to play the instrument, the author is not prepared toadmit that such a phenomenon is an absolute proof of independentintelligence. When once the existence of an etheric body isgranted, with limbs which correspond with our own, there is noobvious reason why a partial detachment should not take place,and why the etheric fingers should not be placed upon the keyswhile the material ones remain upon the medium's lap. The problemresolves itself, then, into the simpler proposition that themedium's brain can command his etheric fingers, and that thosefingers can be supplied with sufficient force to press down thekeys. Very many psychic phenomena, the reading with blindfoldedeyes, the touching of distant objects, and so forth, may, in theopinion of the author, be referred to the etheric body and may beclassed rather under a higher and subtler materialism than underSpiritualism. They are in a class quite distinct from thosem*ntal phenomena such as evidential messages from the dead, whichform the true centre of the spiritual movement. In speaking ofMiss Kate Fox, Professor Crookes says: "I have observed manycirc*mstances which appear to show that the will and intelligenceof the medium have much to do with the phenomena." He adds thatthis is not in any conscious or dishonest way, and continues, "Ihave observed some circ*mstances which seem conclusively to pointto the agency of an outside intelligence not belonging to anyhuman being in the room." * This is the point which the authorhas attempted to make as expressed by an authority far higherthan his own.

* Researches In The Phenomena OfSpiritualism, p. 95.

The phenomena which were chiefly established in theinvestigation of Miss Kate Fox were the movement of objects at adistance, and the production of percussive sounds—or raps.The latter covered a great range of sound, "delicate ticks, sharpsounds as from an induction coil in full work, detonations in theair, sharp metallic taps, a crackling like that heard when africtional machine is at work, sounds like scratching, thetwittering as of a bird, etc." All of us who have had experienceof these sounds have been compelled to ask ourselves how far theyare under the control of the medium. The author has come to theconclusion, as already stated, that up to a point they are underthe control of the medium, and that beyond that point they arenot. He cannot easily forget the distress and embarrassment of agreat North-country medium when in the author's presence loudraps, sounding like the snapping of fingers, broke out round hishead in the coffee-room of a Doncaster hotel. If he had anydoubts that raps were independent of the medium they were finallyset at rest upon that occasion. As to the objectivity of thesenoises, Crookes says of Miss Kate Fox:

It seems only necessary for her to place herhand on any substance for loud thuds to be heard in it, like atriple pulsation, sometimes loud enough to be heard several roomsoff. In this manner I have heard them in a living tree—on asheet of glass—on a stretched iron wire—on astretched membrane—a tambourine—on the roof of a cab—and on the floor of a theatre. Moreover, actual contact isnot always necessary. I have had these sounds proceeding from thefloor, walls, etc., when the medium's hands and feet wereheld—when she was standing on a chair—when she wassuspended in a swing from the ceiling—when she was enclosedin a wire cage—and when she had fallen fainting on a sofa.I have heard them on a glass harmonicon—I have felt them onmy own shoulder and under my own hands. I have heard them on asheet of paper, held between the fingers by a piece of threadpassed through one corner. With a full knowledge of the numeroustheories which have been started, chiefly in America, to explainthese sounds, I have tested them in every way that I coulddevise, until there has been no escape from the conviction thatthey were true objective occurrences not produced by trickery ormechanical means.

* Researches In The Phenomena OfSpiritualism, p. 86.

So finishes the legend of cracking toe joints, droppingapples, and all the other absurd explanations which have been putforward to explain away the facts. It is only fair to say,however, that the painful incidents connected with the latterdays of the Fox sisters go some way to justify those who, withoutknowing the real evidence, have had their attention drawn to thatsingle episode—which is treated elsewhere.

It has sometimes been supposed that Crookes modified orwithdrew his opinions upon psychic subjects as expressed in 1874.It may at least be said that the violence of the opposition, andthe timidity of those who might have supported him, did alarm himand that he felt his scientific position to be in danger. Withoutgoing the length of subterfuge, he did unquestionably shirk thequestion. He refused to have his articles upon the subjectrepublished, and he would not circulate the wonderful photographsin which the materialized Katie King stood arm-in-arm withhimself. He was exceedingly cautious also in defining hisposition. In a letter quoted by Professor Angelo Brofferio, hesays*:

All that I am concerned in is that invisible andintelligent beings exist who say that they are the spirits ofdead persons. But proof that they really are the individuals theyassume to be, which I require in order to believe it, I havenever received, though I am disposed to admit that many of myfriends assert that they have actually obtained the desiredproofs, and I myself have already frequently been many times onthe verge of this conviction.

* Für den Spiritismus, Leipzig, 1894,p. 319.

As he grew older, however, this conviction hardened, orperhaps he became more conscious of the moral responsibilitieswhich such exceptional experiences must entail.

In his presidential address before the British Association atBristol in 1898, Sir William briefly referred to his earlierresearches. He said:

Upon one other interest I have not yettouched—to me the weightiest and farthest—reaching ofall. No incident in my scientific career is more widely knownthan the part I took many years ago in certain psychicresearches. Thirty years have passed since I published an accountof experiments tending to show that outside our scientificknowledge there exists a Force exercised by intelligencediffering from the ordinary intelligence common to mortals . Ihave nothing to retract. I adhere to my already publishedstatements. Indeed, I might add much thereto.

Nearly twenty years later his belief was stronger than ever.In the course of an interview, he said*:

I have never had any occasion to change my mindon the subject. I am perfectly satisfied with what I have said inearlier days. It is quite true that a connexion has been set upbetween this world and the next.

* The International Psychic Gazette,December, 1917, pp. 61-2.

In reply to the question whether Spiritualism had not killedthe old materialism of the scientists, he added:

I think it has. It has at least convinced thegreat majority of people, who know anything about the subject, ofthe existence of the next world.

The author has had an opportunity lately, through the courtesyof Mr. Thomas Blyton, of seeing the letter of condolence writtenby Sir William Crookes on the occasion of the death of Mrs.Corner. It is dated April 24, 1904, and in it he says: "ConveyLady Crookes's and my own sincerest sympathy to the family intheir irreparable loss. We trust that the certain belief that ourloved ones, when they have passed over, are still watching overus —a belief which owes so much of its certainty to themediumship of Mrs. Corner (or Florence Cook, as she will alwaysbe in our memory – will strengthen and console those whoare left behind." The daughter in announcing the death said, "Shedied in deep peace and happiness."


XII. — THE EDDY BROTHERSAND THE HOLMESES

IT is difficult within any reasonable compass tofollow the rise of various mediums in the United States, and astudy of one or two outstanding cases must typify the whole. Theyears 1874 and 1875 were years of great psychic activity,bringing conviction to some and scandal to others. On the wholethe scandal seems to have predominated, but whether rightly ornot is a question which may well be debated. The opponents ofpsychic truth having upon their side the clergy of the variouschurches, organized science, and the huge inert bulk of materialmankind, had the lay Press at their command, with the result thateverything that was in its favour was suppressed or contorted,and everything which could tell against it was given the widestpublicity. Hence, a constant checking of past episodes andreassessment of old values are necessary. Even at the present daythe air is charged with prejudice. If any man of standing at thepresent instant were to enter a London newspaper office and saythat he had detected a medium in fraud, the matter would beseized upon eagerly and broadcast over the country; while if thesame man proclaimed that he had beyond all question satisfiedhimself that the phenomena were true, it is doubtful if he wouldget a paragraph. The scale is always heavily weighted. InAmerica, where there is practically no Libel Act, and where thePress is often violent and sensational, this state of thingswas—and possibly is—even more in evidence.

The first outstanding incident was the mediumship of the Eddybrothers, which has probably never been excelled in the matter ofmaterialization, or, as we may now call them, ectoplasmic forms.The difficulty at that date in accepting such phenomena lay inthe fact that they seemed to be regulated by no known law, and tobe isolated from all our experiences of Nature. The labours ofGeley, Crawford, Madame Bisson, Schrenck Notzing and others haveremoved this, and have given us, what is at the lowest, acomplete scientific hypothesis, sustained by prolonged andcareful investigations, so that we can bring some order into thematter. This did not exist in 1874, and we can well sympathizewith the doubt of even the most honest and candid minds, whenthey were asked to believe that two rude farmers, unmannered anduneducated, could produce results which were denied to the restof the world and utterly inexplicable to science.

The Eddy brothers, Horatio and William, were primitive folkfarming a small holding at the hamlet of Chittenden, nearRutland, in the State of Vermont. An observer has described themas "sensitive, distant and curt with strangers, look more likehard-working rough farmers than prophets or priests of a newdispensation, have dark complexions, black hair and eyes, stiffjoints, a clumsy carriage, shrink from advances, and make new-comers ill at ease and unwelcome. They are at feud with some oftheir neighbours and not liked . They are, in fact, under the banof a public opinion that is not prepared or desirous to study thephenomena as either scientific marvels or revelations fromanother world."

The rumours of the strange doings which occurred in the Eddyhomestead had got abroad, and raised an excitement similar tothat caused by the Koons's music-room in earlier days. Folk camefrom all parts to investigate. The Eddys seem to have had ample,if rude, accommodation for their guests, and to have boarded themin a great room with the plaster stripping off the walls and thefood as simple as the surroundings. For this board, of course,they charged at a low rate, but they do not seem to have made anyprofit out of their psychic demonstrations.

A good deal of curiosity had been aroused in Boston and NewYork by the reports of what was happening, and a New York paper,the Daily Graphic, sent up Colonel Olcott as investigator. Olcottwas not at that time identified with any psychicmovement—indeed, his mind was prejudiced against it, and heapproached his task rather in the spirit of an "exposer." He wasa man of clear brain and outstanding ability, with a high senseof honour. No one can read the very full and intimate details ofhis own life which are contained in his "Old Diary Leaves"without feeling a respect for the man —loyal to a fault,unselfish, and with that rare moral courage which will followtruth and accept results even when they oppose one's expectationsand desires. He was no mystic dreamer but a very practical man ofaffairs, and some of his psychic research observations have metwith far less attention than they deserve.

Olcott remained for ten weeks in the Vermont atmosphere, whichmust in itself have been a feat of considerable endurance, withplain fare, hard living and uncongenial hosts. He came away withsomething very near to personal dislike for his moroseentertainers, and at the same time with absolute confidence intheir psychic powers. Like every wise investigator, he refuses togive blank certificates of character, and will not answer foroccasions upon which he was not present, nor for the futureconduct of those whom he is judging. He confines himself to hisactual experience, and in fifteen remarkable articles whichappeared in the New York Daily Graphic in October andNovember, 1874, he gave his full results and the steps which hehad taken to check them. Reading these, it is difficult tosuggest any precaution which he had omitted.

His first care was to examine the Eddy history. It was a goodbut not a spotless record. It cannot be too often insisted uponthat the medium is a mere instrument and that the gift has norelation to character. This applies to physical phenomena, butnot to mental, for no high teaching could ever come through a lowchannel. There was nothing wrong in the record of the brothers,but they had once admittedly given a fake mediumistic show,announcing it as such and exposing tricks. This was probably doneto raise the wind and also to conciliate their bigotedneighbours, who were incensed against the real phenomena.Whatever the cause or motive, it naturally led Olcott to be verycirc*mspect in his dealings, since it showed an intimateknowledge of tricks.

The ancestry was most interesting, for not only was there anunbroken record of psychic power extending over severalgenerations, but their grand mother four times removed had beenburned as a witch—or at least had been sentenced to thatfate in the famous Salem trials of 1692. There are many livingnow who would be just as ready to take this short way with ourmediums as ever Cotton Mather was, but police prosecutions arethe modern equivalent. The father of the Eddys was unhappily oneof those narrow persecuting fanatics. Olcott declares that thechildren were marked for life by the blows which he gave them inorder to discourage what he chose to look upon as diabolicalpowers. The mother, who was herself strongly psychic, knew howunjustly this "religious" brute was acting, and the homesteadmust have become a hell upon earth. There was no refuge for thechildren outside, for the psychic phenomena used to follow themeven into the schoolroom, and excite the revilings of theignorant young barbarians around them. At home, when young Eddyfell into a trance, the father and a neighbour poured boilingwater over him and placed a red—hot coal on his head,leaving an indelible scar. The lad fortunately slept on. Is it tobe wondered at that after such a childhood the children shouldhave grown into morose and secretive men?

As they grew older the wretched father tried to make somemoney out of the powers which he had so brutally discouraged, andhired the children out as mediums. No one has ever yet adequatelydescribed the sufferings which public mediums used to undergo atthe hands of idiotic investigators and cruel sceptics. Olcotttestifies that the hands and arms of the sisters as well as thebrothers were grooved with the marks of ligatures and scarredwith burning sealing wax, while two of the girls had pieces offlesh pinched out by handcuffs. They were ridden on rails,beaten, fired at, stoned and chased while their cabinet wasrepeatedly broken to pieces. The blood oozed from their finger-nails from the compression of arteries. These were the early daysin America, but Great Britain has little to boast of when onerecalls the Davenport brothers and the ignorant violence of theLiverpool mob.

The Eddys seem to have covered about the whole range ofphysical mediumship. Olcott gives the list thus—rappings,movement of objects, painting in oils and water-colours underinfluence, prophecy, speaking strange tongues, healing,discernment of spirits, levitation, writing of messages,psychometry, clairvoyance, and finally the production ofmaterialized forms. Since St. Paul first enumerated the gifts ofthe spirit no more comprehensive list has ever been given.

The method of the séances was that the medium should sit in acabinet at one end of the room, and that his audience shouldoccupy rows of benches in front of him. The inquirer willprobably ask why there should be a cabinet at all, and extendedexperience has shown that it can, as a matter of fact, bedispensed with save in this particular crowning phenomenon ofmaterialization. Home never used a cabinet, and it is seldom usedby our chief British mediums of to-day. There is, however, a verydefinite reason for its presence. Without being too didactic upona subject which is still under examination, it may at least bestated, as a working hypothesis with a great deal to recommendit, that the ectoplasmic vapour which solidifies into the plasmicsubstance from which the forms are constructed can be more easilycondensed in a limited space. It has been found, however, thatthe presence of the medium within that space is not needful. Atthe greatest materialization séance which the author has everattended, where some twenty forms of various ages and sizesappeared in one evening, the medium sat outside the door of thecabinet from which the shapes emerged. Presumably, according tothe hypothesis, his ectoplasmic vapour was conducted into theconfined space, irrespective of the position of his physicalbody. This had not been recognized at the date of thisinvestigation, so the cabinet was employed.

It is obvious, however, that the cabinet offered a means forfraud and impersonation, so it had to be carefully examined. Itwas on the second floor, with one small window. Olcott had thewindow netted with a mosquito curtain fastened on the outside.The rest of the cabinet was solid wood and unapproachable save bythe room in which the spectators were sitting. There seems tohave been no possible opening for fraud. Olcott had it examinedby an expert, whose certificate is given in the book.

Under these circ*mstances Olcott related in his newspaperarticles, and afterwards in his remarkable book, "People from theOther World," that he saw in the course of ten weeks no fewerthan four hundred apparitions appear out of this cabinet, of allsorts, sizes, sexes and races, clad in the most marvellousgarments, babies in arms, Indian warriors, gentlemen in eveningdress, a Kurd with a nine-foot lance, squaws who smoked tobacco,ladies in fine costumes. Such was Olcott's evidence, and therewas not a statement he made for which he was not prepared toproduce the evidence of a roomful of people. His story wasreceived with incredulity then, and will excite little lessincredulity now. Olcott, full of his subject and knowing his ownprecautions, chafed, as all of us chafe, at the criticism ofthose who had not been present, and who chose to assume thatthose who were present were dupes and simpletons. He says: "Ifone tells them of babies being carried in from the cabinet bywomen, of young girls with lithe forms, yellow hair and shortstature, of old women and men standing in full sight and speakingto us, of half-grown children seen, two at a time, simultaneouslywith another form, of costumes of different makes, of bald heads,grey hair, black shocky heads of hair, curly hair, of ghostsinstantly recognized by friends, and ghosts speaking audibly in aforeign language of which the medium is ignorant —theirequanimity is not disturbed... The credulity of some scientificmen, too, is boundless—they would rather believe that ababy could lift a mountain without levers, than that a spiritcould lift an ounce."

But apart from the extreme sceptic, whom nothing will convinceand who would label the Angel Gabriel at the last day as anoptical delusion, there are some very natural objections which anhonest novice is bound to make, and an honest believer to answer.What about these costumes? Whence come they? Can we accept anine-foot lance as being a spiritual object? The answer lies, sofar as we understand it, in the amazing properties of ectoplasm.It is the most protean substance, capable of being mouldedinstantly into any shape, and the moulding power is spirit will,either in or out of the body. Anything may in an instant befashioned from it if the predominating intelligence so decides.At all such séances there appears to be present one controllingspiritual being who marshals the figures and arranges the wholeprogramme. Sometimes he speaks and openly directs. Sometimes heis silent and manifests only by his actions. As already stated,such controls are very often Red Indians who appear in theirspiritual life to have some special affinity with physicalphenomena.

William Eddy, the chief medium for these phenomena, does notappear to have suffered in health or strength from that which isusually a most exhausting process. Crookes has testified how Homewould "lie in an almost fainting condition on the floor, pale andspeechless." Home, however, was not a rude open air farmer, but asensitive artistic invalid. Eddy seems to have eaten little, butsmoked incessantly. Music and singing were employed at theséances, for it has long been observed that there is a closeconnexion between musical vibrations and psychic results. Whitelight also has been found to prohibit results, and this is nowexplained from the devastating effects which light has been shownto exert upon ectoplasm. Many colours have been tried in order toprevent total darkness, but if you can trust your medium thelatter is the most conducive to results, especially to thoseresults of phosphorescent and flashing lights which are among themost beautiful of the phenomena. If a light is used, red is thecolour which is best tolerated. In the Eddy séances there was asubdued illumination from a shaded lamp.

It would be wearisome to the reader to enter into details asto the various types which appeared in these remarkablegatherings. Madame Blavatsky, who was then an unknown woman inNew York, had come up to see the sights. At that time she had notyet developed the theosophical line of thought, and was an ardentSpiritualist. Colonel Olcott and she met for the first time inthe Vermont farm-house, and there began a friendship which wasdestined in the future to lead to strange developments. In herhonour apparently a whole train of Russian images appeared, whocarried on conversations in that language with the lady. Thechief apparitions, however, were a giant Indian named Santum andan Indian squaw named Honto, who materialized so completely andso often that the audience may well have been excused if theyforgot sometimes that they were dealing with spirits at all. Soclose was the contact that Olcott measured Honto on a paintedscale beside the cabinet door. She was five feet three. On oneoccasion she exposed her woman's breast and asked a lady presentto feel the beating of her heart. Honto was a light-heartedperson, fond of dancing, of singing, of smoking, and ofexhibiting her wealth of dark hair to the audience. Santum, onthe other hand, was a taciturn warrior, six feet three in height.The height of the medium was five feet nine.

It is worth noting that the Indian always wore a powder-horn,which had been actually given him by a visitor to the circle.This was hung up in the cabinet and was donned by him when hematerialized. Some of the Eddy spirits could speak and otherscould not, while the amount of fluency varied greatly. This wasin accordance with the author's experience at similar séances. Itseems that the returning soul has much to learn when it handlesthis simulacrum of itself, and that here, as elsewhere, practicegoes for much. In speaking, these figures move their lips exactlyas human beings would do. It has been shown also that theirbreath in lime water produces the characteristic reaction ofcarbon dioxide. Olcott says: "The spirits themselves say thatthey have to learn the art of self-materialization, as one wouldany other art." At first they could only make tangible hands asin the cases of the Davenports, the Foxes, and others. Manymediums never get beyond this stage.

Among the numerous visitors to the Vermont homestead therewere naturally some who took up a hostile attitude. None ofthese, however, seems to have gone into the matter with anythoroughness. The one who attracted most attention was a Dr.Beard, of New York, a medical man, who on the strength of asingle sitting contended that the figures were all impersonationsby William Eddy himself. No evidence, and only his own individualimpression is put forward to sustain this view, and he declaredthat he could produce all the effects with "three dollars' worthof theatrical properties." Such an opinion might well be honestlyformed upon a single performance, especially if it should havebeen a more or less unsuccessful one. But it becomes perfectlyuntenable when it is compared with the experiences of those whoattended a number of sittings. Thus, Dr. Hodgson, of Stoneham,Mass., together with four other witnesses, signed a document: "Wecertify that Santum was out on the platform when another Indianof almost as great a stature came out, and the two passed and re-passed each other as they walked up and down. At the same time aconversation was being carried on between George Dix, Mayflower,old Mr. Morse, and Mrs. Eaton inside the cabinet. We recognizedthe familiar voice of each." There are many such testimonies,apart from Olcott, and they put the theory of impersonation quiteout of court. It should be added that many of the forms werelittle children and babies in arms. Olcott measured one child twofeet four in height. It should, in fairness, be added that theone thing which clouds the reader occasionally is Olcott's ownhesitation and reservations. He was new to the subject, and everynow and then a wave of fear and doubt would pass over his mind,and he would feel that he had committed himself too far and thathe must hedge in case, in some inexplicable way, he should beshown to be in the wrong. Thus, he says: "The forms I saw atChittenden, while apparently defying any other explanation thanthat they are of super-sensual origin, are still as a scientificfact to be regarded as `not proven.'" Elsewhere he talks aboutnot having "test conditions."

This expression "test conditions" has become a sort ofshibboleth which loses all meaning. Thus, when you say that youhave beyond all question or doubt seen your own dead mother'sface before you, the objector replies: "Ah, but was it under testconditions?" The test lies in the phenomenon itself. When oneconsiders that Olcott was permitted for ten weeks to examine thelittle wooden enclosure which served as cabinet, to occlude thewindow, to search the medium, to measure and to weigh theectoplasmic forms, one wonders what else he would demand in orderto make assurance complete. The fact is, that while Olcott waswriting his account there came the alleged exposure of Mrs.Holmes, and the partial recantation of Mr. Dale Owen, and thatthis caused him to take these precautions.

It was William Eddy whose mediumship took the form ofmaterializations. Horatio Eddy gave séances of quite a differentcharacter. In his case a sort of cloth screen was fixed up, infront of which he used to sit in good light with one of hisaudience beside him holding his hand. Behind the screen wasplaced a guitar and other instruments, which presently began toplay, apparently of their own accord, while materialized handsshowed themselves over the edge of the screen. The general effectof the performance was much the same as that of the Davenportbrothers, but it was more impressive, inasmuch as the medium wasin full view, and was under control by a spectator. Thehypothesis of modern psychic science, founded upon manyexperiments, especially those of Dr. Crawford, of Belfast, isthat invisible bands of ectoplasm, which are rather conductors offorce than forcible in themselves, are evolved from the body ofthe medium and connect up with the object to be manipulated,where they are used to raise it, or to play it, as the unseenpower may desire—that unseen power being, according to thepresent views of Professor Charles Richet, some extension of thepersonality of the medium, and according to the more advancedschool some independent entity. Of this nothing was known at thetime of the Eddys, and the phenomena presented the questionableappearance of a whole series of effects without any cause. As tothe reality of the fact, it is impossible to read Olcott's verydetailed description without being convinced that there could beno error in that. This movement of objects at a distance from themedium, or telekinesis, to use the modern phrase, is now arare phenomenon in light, but on one occasion at an amateurcircle of experienced Spiritualists the author has seen a largeplatter-shaped circle of wood in the full light of a candle,rising up on edge and flapping code answers to questions when noone was within six feet of it.

In Horatio Eddy's dark séances, where the complete absence oflight gave the psychic power full scope, Olcott has testifiedthat there were mad Indian war dances with the thudding of adozen feet, and the wild playing of every instrumentsimultaneously, accompanied by yells and whoops. "As anexbibition of pure brute force," he says, "this Indian dance isprobably unsurpassed in the annals of such manifestations." Alight turned on would find all the instruments littered about thefloor, and Horatio in a deep slumber, without a trace ofperspiration, lying unconscious in his chair. Olcott assures usthat he and other gentlemen present, whose names he gives, werepermitted to sit on the medium, but that within a minute or twoall the instruments were playing once again. After such anexperiment all further experiences – and there were verymany—seem to be beside the point. Short of wholesale andsenseless lying on the part of Olcott and the other spectators,there can be no doubt that Horatio Eddy was exercising powers ofwhich science was, and still is, very imperfectly acquainted.

Some of Olcott's experiments were so definite, and arenarrated so frankly and so clearly, that they deserve respectfulconsideration, and antedate the work of many of our modernresearchers. For example, he brought from New York a balancewhich was duly tested as correct with a published certificate tothat effect. He then persuaded one of the forms, the squaw Honto,to stand upon it, the actual weights being recorded by a thirdperson, Mr. Pritchard, who was a reputable citizen anddisinterested in the matter. Olcott gives his account of theresults, and adds the certificate of Pritchard as sworn to beforea magistrate. Honto was weighed four times, standing upon theplatform so that she could not ease her weight in any way. Shewas a woman five feet three in height, and might be expected toregister about 135 lb. The four results were actually 88, 58, 58,and 65 lb., all on the same evening. This seems to show that herbody was a mere simulacrum which could vary in density fromminute to minute. It showed also what was clearly brought outafterwards by Crawford, that the whole weight of the simulacrumcannot be derived from the medium. It is inconceivable that Eddy,who weighed 179 lb., was able to give up 88 of them. The wholecircle, according to their capacity, which varies greatly, arecalled upon to contribute, and other elements may in allprobability be drawn from the atmosphere. The highest actual lossof weight ever shown by Miss Goligher in the Crawford experimentswas 52 lb., but each member of the circle was shown by the dialson the weighing chairs to have contributed some substance to thebuilding of the ectoplasmic formations.

Colonel Olcott also prepared two spring balances and testedthe pulling power of the spirit hands, while those of the mediumwere held by one of the audience. A left hand pulled with a forceof forty lb., and the right hand with fifty in a light which wasso good that Olcott could clearly see that the right hand was onefinger short. He was already familiar with the assertion of thespirit in question that he had been a sailor and had lost afinger in his lifetime. When one reads of such things thecomplaint of Olcott that his results were not final, and that hehad not perfect test conditions, becomes more and more hard tocomprehend. He winds up his conclusions, however, with the words:"No matter how many sceptics carne battering against thesegranitic facts, no matter what array of 'exposers' might blowtheir tin horns and penny trumpets, that Jericho wouldstand."

One observation which Olcott made was that these ectoplasmicforms were quick to obey any mental order from a strong-mindedsitter, coming and going as they were willed to do. Otherobservers in various séances have noted the same fact, and it maybe taken as one of the fixed points in this baffling problem.

There is one other curious point which probably escapedOlcott's notice. The mediums and the spirits who had been fairlyamiable to him during his long visit turned suddenly very acidand repellent. This change seems to have occurred just after thearrival of Madame Blavatsky, with whom Olcott had struck up aclose comradeship. Madame was, as stated, an ardent Spiritualistat the time, but it is at least possible that the spirits mayhave had foresight, and that they sensed danger from this Russianlady. Her theosophical teachings which were put forward in a yearor two were to take the shape that, although the phenomena werereal, the spirits were empty astral shells, and had no true lifeof their own. Whatever the true explanation, the change in thespirits was remarkable. "So far from the importance of my labourbeing recognized and all reasonable facilities afforded, I waskept constantly at a distance, as though I were an enemy insteadof an unprejudiced observer."

Colonel Olcott narrates many cases where the sitters haverecognized spirits, but too much stress should not be laid uponthis, as with a dim light and an emotional condition it is easyfor an honest observer to be mistaken. The author has had theopportunity of gazing into the faces of at least a hundred ofthese images, and he can only recall two cases in which he wasabsolutely certain in his recognition. In both these cases thefaces were self-illuminated, and he had not to depend upon thered lamp. There were two other occasions when, with the red lamp,he was morally certain, but in the vast majority of cases it waspossible, if one allowed one's imagination to work, to readanything into the vague moulds which rose before one. It islikely that this occurred in the Eddy circle—indeed, C. C.Massey, a very competent judge, sitting with the Eddys in 1875,complained of the fact. The real miracle consisted not in therecognition but in the presence of the figure at all.

There can be no doubt that the interest aroused by the Pressaccounts of the Eddy phenomena might have caused a more serioustreatment of psychic science, and possibly advanced the cause oftruth by a generation. Unhappily, at the very moment when thepublic attention was strongly drawn to the subject there came thereal or imaginary scandal of the Holmeses at Philadelphia, whichwas vigorously exploited by the materialists, helped by theexaggerated honesty of Robert Dale Owen. The facts were asfollows:

Two mediums in Philadelphia, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Holmes, hadgiven a series of séances at which an alleged spirit hadcontinually appeared, which took the name of Katie King, andprofessed to be the same as that with which Professor Crookes hadexperimented in London. On the face of it the assertion seemedmost doubtful since the original Katie King had clearly statedthat her mission was ended. However, apart from the identity ofthe spirit, there seemed to be good evidence that the phenomenonwas genuine and not fraudulent, for it was most fully endorsed byMr. Dale Owen, General Lippitt, and a number of other observers,who quoted personal experiences which were entirely beyond thereach of imposture.

There was in Philadelphia at the time a Dr. Child, who plays avery ambiguous part in the obscure events which followed. Childhad vouched for the genuine character of these phenomena in themost pronounced way. He had gone so far as to state in a pamphletpublished in 1874 that the same John and Katie King, whom he hadseen in the séance room, had come to him in his own privateoffices and had there dictated particulars of their earth lifewhich he duly published. Such a statement must raise grave doubtsin the mind of any psychic student, for a spirit form can onlymanifest from a medium, and there is no indication that Child wasone. In any case one would imagine that, after such an assertion,Child was the last man in the world who could declare that theséances were fraudulent.

Great public interest had been aroused in the séances by anarticle by General Lippitt in the Galaxy of December, 1874, andanother by Dale Owen in The Atlantic Monthly of January,1875. Then suddenly came the crash. It was heralded by a noticefrom Dale Owen, dated January 5, to the effect that evidence hadbeen laid before him which compelled him to withdraw his previousexpressions of confidence in the Holmeses. A similar card wasissued by Dr. Child. Writing to Olcott, who after his Eddyinvestigation was recognized as an authority, Dale Owen said: "Ibelieve they have been latterly playing us false, which may beonly supplementing the genuine with the spurious, but it doescast a doubt on last summer's manifestations, so that I shallprobably not use them in my next book on Spiritualism. It is aloss, but you and Mr. Crookes have amply made it up."

Dale Owen's position is clear enough, since he was a man ofsensitive honour, who was horrified at the idea that he could forone instant have certified an imposture to be a truth. His errorseems to have lain in acting upon the first breath of suspicioninstead of waiting until the facts were clear. Dr. Child'sposition is, however, more questionable, for if themanifestations were indeed fraudulent, how could he possibly havehad interviews with the same spirits alone in his own privateroom?

It was asserted now that a woman, whose name was not given,had been impersonating Katie King at these séances, that she hadallowed her photograph to be taken and sold as Katie King, thatshe could produce the robes and ornaments worn by Katie King atthe séances, and that she was prepared to make a full confession.Nothing could appear to be more damning and more complete. It wasat this point that Olcott took up the investigation, and he seemsto have been quite prepared to find that the general verdict wascorrect.

His investigation soon revealed some facts, however, whichthrew fresh lights upon the matter and proved that psychicresearch in order to be accurate should examine "exposures" withthe same critical care that it does phenomena. The name of theperson who confessed that she had personated Katie King wasrevealed as Eliza White. In an account of the matter which shepublished, without giving the name, she declared that she hadbeen born in 1851, which would make her twenty-three years ofa*ge. She had married at fifteen and had one child eight yearsold. Her husband had died in 1872, and she had to keep herselfand child. The Holmeses had come to lodge with her in March,1874. In May they engaged her to personate a spirit. The cabinethad a false panel at the back through which she could slip, cladin a muslin robe. Mr. Dale Owen was invited to the séances andwas completely taken in. All this caused violent twinges of herown conscience which did not prevent her from going to greaterlengths and learning to fade away or re-form by the help of blackcloths, and finally, of being photographed as Katie King.

One day, according to her account, there came to herperformance a man named Leslie, a railroad contractor. Thisgentleman showed his suspicions, and at a subsequent interviewtaxed her with her deceit, offering her pecuniary aid if shewould confess to it. This she accepted, and then showed Lesliethe methods of her impersonation. On December 5, a mock séancewas held at which she rehearsed her part as played in the realséances, and this so impressed Dale Owen and also Dr. Child, bothof whom were present, that they issued the notices in which theyrecanted their former belief—a recantation which was astaggering blow to those who had accepted Dale Owen's previousassurances, and who now claimed that he should have made somethorough investigation before issuing such a document. It was themore painful as Dale Owen was seventy-three years of age, and hadbeen one of the most eloquent and painstaking of all thedisciples of the new dispensation.

Olcott's first task was to sift the record already given, andto get past the anonymity of the authoress. He soon discoveredthat she was, as already stated, Mrs. Eliza White, and that,though in Philadelphia, she refused to see him. The Holmeses, onthe other hand, acted in a very open manner towards him andoffered him every facility for examining their phenomena withsuch reasonable test conditions as he might desire. Anexamination of the past life of Eliza White showed that herstatement, so far as it concerned her own story, was a tissue oflies. She was very much older than stated—not less thanthirty-five—and it was doubtful whether she had ever beenmarried to White at all. For years she had been a vocalist in atravelling show. White was still alive, so there was no questionof widowhood. Olcott published the certificate of the Chief ofthe Police to that effect.

Among other documents put forward by Colonel Olcott was onefrom a Mr. Allen, Justice of the Peace of New Jersey, given underoath. Eliza White, according to this witness, was "so untruthfulthat those to whom she spoke never knew when to believe her, andher moral reputation was as bad as bad could be." Judge Allen wasable, however, to give some testimony which bore more directlyupon the matter under discussion. He deposed that he had visitedthe Holmeses in Philadelphia, and had assisted Dr. Child to putup the cabinet, that it was solidly constructed, and that therewas no possibility of any entrance being effected from behind, asalleged by Mrs. White. Further, that he was at a séance at whichKatie King appeared, and that the proceedings had been disturbedby the singing of Mrs. White in another room, so that it wasquite impossible that Mrs. White could, as she claimed, haveacted an impersonation of the spirit. This being a sworndeposition by a justice of the Peace would seem to be a weightypiece of evidence.

This cabinet seems to have been made in June, for GeneralLippitt, an excellent witness, described quite anotherarrangement on the occasion when he experimented. He says thattwo doors folded backwards, so as to touch each other, and thecabinet was simply the recess between these doors with a boardover the top. "The first two or three evenings I made a carefulexamination, and once with a professional magician, who wasperfectly satisfied that there was no chance of any trick." Thiswas in May, so the two descriptions are not contradictory, saveto Eliza White's claim that she could pass into the cabinet.

In addition to these reasons for caution in forming anopinion, the Holmeses were able to produce letters written tothem from Mrs. White in August, 1874, which were quiteincompatible with there being any guilty secret between them. Onthe other hand, one of these letters did relate that efforts hadbeen made to bribe her into a confession that she had been KatieKing. Later in the year Mrs. White seems to have assumed a morethreatening tone, as is sworn by the Holmeses in a formalaffidavit, when she declared that unless they paid a rent whichshe claimed, there were a number of gentlemen of wealth,including members of the Young Men's Christian Association, whowere ready to pay her a large sum of money, and she need nottrouble the Holmeses any more. A thousand dollars was the exactsum which Eliza White was to get if she would consent to admitthat she impersonated Katie King. It must surely be conceded thatthis statement, taken in conjunction with the woman's record,makes it very essential to demand corroboration for everyassertion she might make.

One culminating fact remains. At the very hour that the bogusséance was being held at which Mrs. White was showing how KatieKing was impersonated, the Holmeses held a real séance, attendedby twenty people, at which the spirit appeared the same as ever.Colonel Olcott collected several affidavits from those who werepresent on this occasion, and there can be no doubt about thefact. That of Dr. Adolphus Fellger is short, and may be givenalmost in full. He says under oath that "he has seen the spiritknown as Katie King in all perhaps eighty times, is perfectlyfamiliar with her features, and cannot mistake as to the identityof the Katie King who appeared upon the evening of December 5,for while the said spirit scarcely ever appeared of exactly thesame height or features two evenings in succession, her voice wasalways the same, and the expression of her eyes, and the topicsof her conversation enabled him to be still more certain of herbeing the same person." This Fellger was a well-known and highlyrespected Philadelphia physician, whose simple word, says Olcott,would outweigh "a score of affidavits of your Eliza Whites."

It was also clearly shown that Katie King appeared constantlywhen Mrs. Holmes was at Blissfield and Mrs. White was inPhiladelphia, and that Mrs. Holmes had written to Mrs. Whitedescribing their successful appearances, which seems a finalproof that the latter was not a confederate.

By this time one must admit that Mrs. White's anonymousconfession is shot through and through with so many holes that itis in a sinking condition. But there is one part which, it seemsto the author, will still float. That is the question of thephotograph. It was asserted by the Holmeses in an interview withGeneral Lippitt—whose word is a solid patch in this generalquagmire—that Eliza White was hired by Dr. Child to pose ina photograph as Katie King. Child seems to have played a dubiouspart all through this business, making affirmations at differenttimes which were quite contradictory, and having apparently somepecuniary interest in the matter. One is inclined, therefore, tolook seriously into this charge, and to believe that the Holmesesmay have been party to the fraud. Granting that the Katie Kingimage was real, they may well have doubted whether it could bephotographed, since dim light was necessary for its production.On the other hand, there was clearly a source of revenue ifphotographs at half a dollar each could be sold to the numeroussitters. Colonel Olcott in his book produces a photograph of Mrs.White alongside of the one which was supposed to be Katie King,and claims that there is no resemblance. It is clear, however,that the photographer would be asked to touch up the negative soas to conceal the resemblance, otherwise the fraud would beobvious. The author has the impression, though not the certainty,that the two faces are the same with just such changes asmanipulation would produce. Therefore he thinks that thephotograph may well be a fraud, but that this by no meanscorroborates the rest of Mrs. White's narrative, though it wouldshake our faith in the character of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes as wellas of Dr. Child. But the character of physical mediums has reallyonly an indirect bearing upon the question of the reality oftheir psychic powers, which should be tested upon their ownmerits whether the individual be saint or sinner.

Colonel Olcott's wise conclusion was that, as the evidence wasso conflicting, he would put it all to one side and test themediums in his own way with out reference to what was past. Thishe did in a very convincing way, and it is impossible for anyonewho reads his investigation ("People From the Other World," p.460 and onwards) to deny that he took every possible precautionagainst fraud. The cabinet was netted at the sides so that no onecould enter as Mrs. White claimed to have done. Mrs. Holmes washerself put into a bag which tied round the neck and, as herhusband was away, she was confined to her own resources. Underthese circ*mstances numerous heads were formed, some of whichwere semi-materialized, presenting a somewhat terribleappearance. This may have been done as a test, or it may havebeen that the long contention had impaired the powers of themedium. The faces were made to appear at a level which the mediumcould in no case have reached. Dale Owen was present at thisdemonstration and must have already begun to regret his prematuredeclaration.

Further séances with similar results were then held inOlcott's own rooms, so as to preclude the possibility of someingenious mechanism under the control of the medium. On oneoccasion, when the head of John King, the presiding spirit,appeared in the air, Olcott, remembering Eliza White's assertionthat these faces were merely ten cent masks, asked and obtainedpermission to pass his stick all round it, and so satisfiedhimself that it was not supported. This experiment seems so finalthat the reader who desires even more evidence may be referred tothe book where he will find much. It was perfectly clear thatwhatever part Eliza White may have played in the photograph,there was not a shadow of a doubt that Mrs. Holmes was a genuineand powerful medium for material phenomena. It should be addedthat the Katie King head was repeatedly seen by theinvestigators, though the whole form appears only once to havebeen materialized. General Lippitt was present at theseexperiments and associated himself publicly (Banner OfLight, February 6, 1875) with Olcott's conclusions.

The author has dwelt at some length upon this case, as it isvery typical of the way in which the public has been misled overSpiritualism. The papers are full of an "exposure." It isinvestigated and is shown to be either quite false or verypartially true. This is not reported, and the public is left withthe original impression uncorrected. Even now, when one mentionsKatie King, one hears some critic say: "Oh, she was shown to be afraud in Philadelphia," and by a natural confusion of thoughtthis has even been brought as an argument against Crookes'sclassical experiments. The affair —especially the temporaryweakening of Dale Owen—set the cause of Spiritualism backby many years in America.

Mention has been made of John King, the presiding spirit atthe Holmes séances. This strange entity would appear to have beenthe chief controller of all physical phenomena in the early daysof the movement, and is still occasionally to be seen and heard.His name is associated with the Koons's music saloon, with theDavenport brothers, with Williams in London, with Mrs. Holmes,and many others. In person when materialized he presents theappearance of a tall, swarthy man with a noble head and a fullblack beard. His voice is loud and deep, while his rap has adecisive character of its own. He is master of all languages,having been tested in the most out-of-the-way tongues, such asGeorgian, and never having been found wanting. This formidableperson controls the bands of lesser primitive spirits, RedIndians and others, who assist at such phenomena. He claims thatKatie King is his daughter, and that he was himself when in lifeHenry Morgan, the buccaneer who was pardoned and knighted byCharles II and ended as Governor of Jamaica. If so, he has been amost cruel ruffian and has much to expiate. The author is boundto state, however, that he has in his possession a contemporarypicture of Henry Morgan (it will be found in Howard Pyle's"Buccaneers," p. 178), and that if reliable it has no resemblanceto John King. All these questions of earthly identity are veryobscure.*

* As the author has given a point against theidentity of John King with Morgan, it is only fair that he shouldgive one which supports it and comes to him almost first-handfrom a reliable source. The daughter of a recent Governor ofJamaica was at a séance in London lately, and was confronted withJohn King. The King spirit said to her, "You have brought backfrom Jamaica something which was mine." She said, "What was it?"He answered, "My will." It was a fact, quite unknown to thecompany, that her father had brought back this document.

Before closing the account of Olcott's experiences at thisstage of his evolution, some notice should be taken of the so-called Compton transfiguration case, which shows what deep waterswe are in when we attempt psychic research. These particularwaters have not been plumbed yet, nor in any way charted. Nothingcan be clearer than the facts, or more satisfactory than theevidence. The medium Mrs. Compton was shut up in her smallcabinet, and thread passed through the bored holes in her earsand fastened to the back of her chair. Presently a slim whitefigure emerged from the cabinet. Olcott had a weighing platformprovided, and on it the spirit figure stood. Twice it wasweighed, the records being 77 lb. and 59 lb. Olcott then, asprearranged, went into the cabinet leaving the figure outside.The medium was gone. The chair was there, but there was no signof the woman. Olcott then turned back and again weighed theapparition, who this time scaled 52 lb. The spirit then returnedinto the cabinet from which other figures emerged. Finally,Olcott says:

I went inside with a lamp and found the mediumjust as I left her at the beginning of the séance, with everythread unbroken and every seal undisturbed! She sat there, withher head leaning against the wall, her flesh as pale and as coldas marble, her eyeballs turned up beneath the lids, her foreheadcovered with a death-like damp, no breath coming from her lungsand no pulse at her wrist. When every person had examined thethreads and seals, I cut the flimsy bonds with a pair ofscissors, and, lifting the chair by its back and seat, carriedthe cataleptic woman out into the open air of the chamber.

She lay thus inanimate for eighteen minutes;life gradually coming back to her body, until respiration andpulse and the temperature of her skin became normal... I then puther upon the scale... She weighed one hundred and twenty-onepounds!

What are we to make of such a result as that? There wereeleven witnesses besides Olcott himself. The facts seem to bebeyond dispute. But what are we to deduce from such facts? Theauthor has seen a photograph, taken in the presence of an amateurmedium, where every detail of the room has come out but thesitter has vanished. Is the disappearance of the medium in someway analogous to that? If the ectoplasmic figure weighed only 77lb. and the medium 121 lb., then it is clear that only 44 lb. ofher were left when the phantom was out. If 44 lb. were not enoughto continue the processes of life, may not her guardians haveused their subtle occult chemistry in order to dematerialize herand so save her from all danger until the return of the phantomwould enable her to reassemble? It is a strange supposition, butit seems to meet the facts—which cannot be done by mereblank, unreasoning incredulity.


XIII. — HENRY SLADE ANDDR. MONCK

IT is impossible to record the many mediums ofvarious shades of power, and occasionally of honesty, who havedemonstrated the effects which outside intelligences can producewhen the material conditions are such as to enable them tomanifest upon this plane. There are a few, however, who have beenso pre-eminent and so involved in public polemics that no historyof the movement can disregard them, even if their careers havenot been in all ways above suspicion. We shall deal in thischapter with the histories of Slade and Monck, both of whomplayed a prominent part in their days.

Henry Slade, the celebrated slate-writing medium, had beenbefore the public in America for fifteen years before he arrivedin London on July 13, 1876. Colonel H. S. Olcott, a formerpresident of the Theosophical Society, states that he and MadameBlavatsky were responsible for Slade's visit to England. Itappears that the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, desiring tomake a scientific investigation of Spiritualism, a committee ofprofessors of the Imperial University of St. Petersburg requestedColonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky to select out of the bestAmerican mediums one whom they could recommend for tests.


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (16)


Henry Slade.

They chose Slade, after submitting him to exacting tests forseveral weeks before a committee of sceptics, who in their reportcertified that "messages were written inside double slates,sometimes tied and sealed together, while they either lay uponthe table in full view of all, or were laid upon the heads ofmembers of the committee, or held flat against the under surfaceof the table-top, or held in a committeeman's hand without themedium touching it." It was en route to Russia that Slade came toEngland.

A representative of the London World, who had a sittingwith Slade soon after his arrival, thus describes him: "A highly-wrought, nervous temperament, a dreamy, mystical face, regularfeatures, eyes luminous with expression, a rather sad smile, anda certain melancholy grace of manner, were the impressionsconveyed by the tall, lithe figure introduced to me as Dr. Slade.He is the sort of man you would pick out of a roomful as anenthusiast." The Seybert Commission Report says, "he is probablysix feet in height, with a figure of unusual symmetry," and that"his face would attract notice anywhere for its uncommon beauty,"and sums him up as "a noteworthy man in every respect."

Directly after his arrival in London Slade began to givesittings at his lodgings in 8 Upper Bedford Place, RussellSquare, and his success was immediate and pronounced. Not onlywas writing obtained of an evidential nature, under testconditions, with the sitter's own slates, but the levitation ofobjects and materialized hands were observed in strongsunlight.

The editor of The Spiritual Magazine, the soberest andmost high-class of the Spiritualist periodicals of the time,wrote: "We have no hesitation in saying that Dr. Slade is themost remarkable medium of modern times."

Mr. J. Enmore Jones, a well-known psychic researcher of thatday, who afterwards edited The Spiritual Magazine, saidthat Slade was taking the place vacated by D.D. Home. His accountof his first sitting indicates the business-like method ofprocedure: "In Mr. Home's case, he refused to take fees, and as arule the sittings were in the evening in the quiet of domesticlife; but in Dr. Slade's case it was any time during the day, inone of the rooms he occupies at a boarding-house. The fee oftwenty shillings is charged, and he prefers that only one personbe present in the large room he uses. No time is lost; as soon asthe visitor sits down the incidents commence, are continued, andin, say, fifteen minutes are ended." Stainton Moses, who wasafterwards the first president of the London SpiritualistAlliance, conveys the same idea with regard to Slade. He wrote:"In his presence phenomena occur with a regularity and precision,with an absence of regard for 'conditions,' and with a facilityfor observation which satisfy my desires entirely. It isimpossible to conceive circ*mstances more favourable to minuteinvestigation than those under which I witnessed the phenomenawhich occur in his presence with such startling rapidity... Therewas no hesitation, no tentative experiments. All was short,sharp, and decisive. The invisible operators knew exactly whatthey were going to do, and did it with promptitude andprecision."*

* The Spiritualist, Vol. IX, p. 2.

Slade's first séance in England was given on July 15, 1876, toMr. Charles Blackburn, a prominent Spiritualist, and Mr. W. H.Harrison, editor of The Spiritualist. In strong sunlightthe medium and the two sitters occupied three sides of anordinary table about four feet square. A vacant chair was placedat the fourth side. Slade put a tiny piece of pencil, about thesize of a grain of wheat, upon a slate, and held the slate by onecorner with one hand under the table flat against the leaf.Writing was heard on the slate, and on examination a shortmessage was found to have been written. While this was takingplace the four hands of the sitters and Slade's disengaged handswere clasped in the centre of the table. Mr. Blackburn's chairwas moved four or five inches while he was sitting upon it, andno one but himself was touching it. The unoccupied chair at thefourth side of the table once jumped in the air, striking itsseat against the under edge of the table. Twice a life-like handpassed in front of Mr. Blackburn while both Slade's hands wereunder observation. The medium held an accordion under the table,and while his other hand was in clear view on the table "Hone,Sweet Home" was played. Mr. Blackburn then held the accordion inthe same way, when the instrument was drawn out strongly and onenote sounded. While this occurred Slade's hands were on thetable. Finally, the three present raised their hands a foot abovethe table, and it rose until it touched their hands. At anothersitting on the same day a chair rose about four feet, when no onewas touching it, and when Slade rested one hand on the top ofMiss Blackburn's chair, she and the chair were raised about halfa yard from the floor.

Mr. Stainton Moses thus describes an early sitting which hehad with Slade:

A midday sun, hot enough to roast one, waspouring into the room; the table was uncovered; the medium satwith the whole of his body in full view; there was no human beingpresent save myself and him. What conditions could be better? Theraps were instantaneous and loud, as if made by the clenched fistof a powerful man. The slate-writing occurred under any suggestedcondition. It came on a slate held by Dr. Slade and myself; onone held by myself alone in the corner of the table farthest fromthe medium; on a slate which I had myself brought with me, andwhich I held myself. The latter writing occupied some time inproduction, and the grating noise of the pencil in forming eachword was distinctly audible. A chair opposite to me was raisedsome eighteen inches from the floor; my slate was taken out of myhand, and produced at the opposite side of the table, whereneither Dr. Slade nor I could reach it; the accordion played allround and about me, while the doctor held it by the lower part,and finally, on a touch from his hand upon the back of my chair,I was levitated, chair and all, some inches.

Mr. Stainton Moses was himself a powerful medium, and thisfact doubtless aided the conditions. He adds:

I have seen all these phenomena and many othersseveral times before, but I never saw them occur rapidly andconsecutively in broad daylight. The whole séance did not extendover more than half an hour, and no cessation of the phenomenaoccurred from first to last.*

* The Spiritualist, Vol. IX, p. 2.

All went well for six weeks, and London was full of curiosityas to the powers of Slade, when there came an awkwardinterruption.

Early in September, 1876, Professor Ray Lankester with Dr.Donkin had two sittings with Slade, and on the second occasion,seizing the slate, he found writing on it when none was supposedto have taken place. He was entirely without experience inpsychic research, or he would have known that it is impossible tosay at what moment writing occurs in such séances. Occasionally awhole sheet of writing seems to be precipitated in an instant,while at other times the author has clearly heard the pencilscratching along from line to line. To Ray Lankester, however, itseemed a clear case of fraud, and he wrote a letter to TheTimes* denouncing Slade, and also prosecuted him forobtaining money under false pretences. Replies to Lankester'sletter and supporting Slade were forthcoming from Dr, AlfredRussel Wallace, Professor Barrett, and others. Dr. Wallacepointed out that Professor Lankester's account of what happenedwas so completely unlike what occurred during his own visit tothe medium, as well as the recorded experience of Serjeant Cox,Dr. Carter Blake, and many others, that he could only look uponit as a striking example of Dr. Carpenter's theory ofpreconceived ideas, He says: "Professor Lankester went with thefirm conviction that all he was going to see would be imposture,and he believes he saw imposture accordingly." ProfessorLankester showed his bias when, referring to the paper readbefore the British Association on September 12 by ProfessorBarrett, in which he dealt with Spiritualistic phenomena, hesaid, in his letter to The Times: "The discussions of theBritish Association have been degraded by the introduction ofSpiritualism."

* September 16, 1876.

Professor Barrett wrote that Slade had a ready reply, based onhis ignorance of when the writing did actually occur. Hedescribes a very evidential sitting he had in which the slaterested on the table with his elbow resting on it. One of Slade'shands was held by him, and the fingers of the medium's other handrested lightly on the surface of the slate. In this way writingoccurred on the under surface of the slate. Professor Barrettfurther speaks of an eminent scientific friend who obtainedwriting on a clean slate when it was held entirely by him, bothof the medium's hands being on the table. Such instances mustsurely seem absolutely conclusive to the unbiased reader, and itwill be clear that if the positive is firmly established,occasional allegations of negative have no bearing upon thegeneral conclusion.

Slade's trial came on at Bow Street Police Court on October t,1876, before Mr. Flowers, the magistrate. Mr. George Lewisprosecuted and Mr. Munton appeared for the defence. Evidence infavour of the genuineness of Slade's mediumship was given by Dr.Alfred Russel Wallace, Serjeant Cox, Dr. George Wyld, and oneother, only four witnesses being allowed. The magistratedescribed the testimony as "overwhelming" as to the evidence forthe phenomena, but in giving judgment he excluded everything butthe evidence of Lankester and his friend Dr. Donkin, saying thathe must base his decision on "inferences to be drawn from theknown course of nature." A statement made by Mr. Maskelyne, thewell-known conjurer, that the table used by Slade was a trick-table was disproved by the evidence of the workman who made it.This table can now be seen at the offices of the LondonSpiritualist Alliance, and one marvels at the audacity of awitness who could imperil another man's liberty by so false astatement, which must have powerfully affected the course of thetrial. Indeed, in the face of the evidence of Ray Lankester,Donkin, and Maskelyne, it is hard to see how Mr. Flowers couldfail to convict, for he would say with truth and reason, "What isbefore the Court is not what has happened upon otheroccasions—however convincing these eminent witnesses maybe—but what occurred upon this particular occasion, andhere we have two witnesses on one side and only the prisoner onthe other." The "trick-table" probably settled the matter.

Slade was sentenced, under the Vagrancy Act, to three months'imprisonment with hard labour. An appeal was lodged and he wasreleased on bail. When the appeal came to be heard, theconviction was quashed on a technical point. It may be pointedout that though he escaped on a technical point, namely, that thewords "by palmistry or otherwise" which appeared in the statutehad been omitted, it must not be assumed that had the technicalpoint failed he might not have escaped on the merits of his case.Slade, whose health had been seriously affected by the strain ofthe trial, left England for the Continent a day or two later.From the Hague, after a rest of a few months, Slade wrote toProfessor Lankester offering to return to London and to give himexhaustive private tests on condition that he could come withoutmolestation. He received no answer to his suggestion, whichsurely is not that of a guilty man.

An illuminated testimonial to Slade from London Spiritualistsin 1877 sets out:

In view of the deplorable termination of HenrySlade's visit to this country, we the undersigned desire to placeon record our high opinion of his mediumship, and our reprobationof the treatment he has undergone.

We regard Henry Slade as one of the mostvaluable Test Mediums now living. The phenomena which occur inhis presence are evolved with a rapidity and regularity rarelyequalled....

He leaves us not only untarnished in reputationby the late proceedings in our Law Courts, but with a mass oftestimony in his favour which could probably have been elicitedin no other way.

This is signed by Mr. Alexander Calder (President of theBritish National Association of Spiritualists) and a number ofrepresentative Spiritualists. Unhappily, however, it is the Noes,not the Ayes, which have the ear of the Press, and even now,fifty years later, it would be hard to find a paper enlightenedenough to do the man justice.

Spiritualists, however, showed great energy in supportingSlade. Before the trial a Defence Fund was raised, andSpiritualists in America drew up a memorial to the AmericanMinister in London. Between the Bow Street conviction and thehearing of the appeal, a memorial was sent to the Home Secretaryprotesting against the action of the Government in conducting theprosecution on appeal. Copies of this were sent to all themembers of the Legislature, to all the Middlesex magistrates, tovarious members of the Royal Society, and of other public bodies.Miss Kislingbury, the secretary to the National Association ofSpiritualists, forwarded a copy to the Queen.

After giving successful séances at the Hague, Slade went toBerlin in November, 1877, where he created the keenest interest.He was said to know no German, yet messages in German appeared onthe slates, and were written in the characters of the fifteenthcentury. The Berliner Fremdenblatt of November 10, 1877,wrote: "Since the arrival of Mr. Slade at the Kronprinz Hotel thegreater portion of the educated world of Berlin has beensuffering from an epidemic which we may term a Spiritualisticfever." Describing his experiences in Berlin, Slade said that hebegan by fully converting the landlord of the hotel, using thelatter's slates and tables in his own house. The landlord invitedthe Chief of Police and many prominent citizens of Berlin towitness the manifestations, and they expressed themselves assatisfied. Slade writes: "Samuel Bellachini, Court Conjurer tothe Emperor of Germany, had a week's experience with me free ofcharge. I gave him from two to three séances a day and one ofthem at his own house. After his full and complete investigation,he went to a public notary and made oath that the phenomena weregenuine and not trickery."

Bellachini's declaration on oath, which has been published,bears out this statement. He says that after the minutestinvestigation he considers any explanation by conjuring to be"absolutely impossible." The conduct of conjurers seems to havebeen usually determined by a sort of trade union jealousy, as ifthe results of the medium were some sort of breach of a monopoly,but this enlightened German, together with Houdin, Kellar, and afew more, have shown a more open mind.

A visit to Denmark followed, and in December began thehistoric séances with Professor Zollner, at Leipzig. A fullaccount of these will be found in Zollner's "TranscendentalPhysics," which has been translated by Mr. C. C. Massey. Zollnerwas Professor of Physics and Astronomy in the University ofLeipzig, and associated with him in the experiments with Sladewere other scientific men, including William Edward Weber,Professor of Physics; Professor Scheibner, a distinguishedmathematician; Gustave Theodore Fechner, Professor of Physics andan eminent natural philosopher, who were all, says ProfessorZollner, "perfectly convinced of the reality of the observedfacts, altogether excluding imposture or "prestidigitation." Thephenomena in question included, among other things, "theproduction of true knots in an endless string, the rending ofProfessor Zollner's bed-screen, the disappearance of a smalltable and its subsequent descent from the ceiling in fulllight, in a private house and under the observed conditions,of which the most noticeable is the apparent passivity of Dr.Slade during all these occurrences."

Certain critics have tried to indicate what they considerinsufficient precautions observed in these experiments. Dr. J.Maxwell, the acute French critic, makes an excellent reply tosuch objections. He points out* that because skilled andconscientious psychic investigators have omitted to indicateexplicitly in their reports that every hypothesis of fraud hasbeen studied and dismissed, in the belief that "their implicitaffirmation of the reality of the fact appeared sufficient tothem," and in order to prevent their reports from being toounwieldy, yet captious critics do not hesitate to condemn themand to suggest possibilities of fraud which are quiteinadmissible under the observed conditions.

* Metapsychical Phenomena (Translation1905), p. 405.

Zollner gave a dignified reply to the supposition that he wastricked in these cord-tying experiments: "If, nevertheless, thefoundation of this fact, deduced by me on the ground of anenlarged conception of space, should be denied, only one otherkind of explanation would remain, arising from a moral code ofconsideration that at present, it is true, is quite customary.This explanation would consist in the presumption that I myselfand the honourable men and citizens of Leipzig, in whose presenceseveral of these cords were sealed, were either common impostors,or were not in possession of our sound senses sufficient toperceive if Mr. Slade himself, before the cords were sealed, hadtied them in knots. The discussion, however, of such a hypothesiswould no longer belong to the dominion of science, but would fallunder the category of social decency."*

* Massey's Zollner, pp. 20-21.

As a sample of the reckless statements of opponents ofSpiritualism, it may be mentioned that Mr. Joseph McCabe, who issecond only to the American Houdini for wild inaccuracies, speaksof Zollner* as "an elderly and purblind professor," whereas hedied in 1882, in his forty-eighth year, and his experiments withSlade were carried out in 1877-78, when this distinguishedscientist was in the vigour of his intellectual life.

"Spiritualism. A Popular History from 1847,"p. 161.

So far have opponents pushed their enmity that it has evenbeen stated that Zollner was deranged, and that his death whichoccurred some years later was accompanied with cerebral weakness.An inquiry from Dr. Funk set this matter at rest, though it isunfortunately easy to get libels of this sort into circulationand very difficult to get the contradictions. Here is thedocument:*

Your letter addressed to the Rector of theUniversity, October 20, 1903, received. The Rector of thisUniversity was installed here after the death of Zollner, and hadno personal acquaintance with him; but information received fromZollner's colleagues states that during his entire studies at theUniversity here, until his death, he was of sound mind; moreover,in the best of health. The cause of his death was a hemorrhage ofthe brain on the morning of April 25th, 1882, while he was atbreakfast with his mother, and from which he died shortly after.It is true that Professor Zollner was an ardent believer inSpiritualism, and as such was in close relations with Slade.

(Dr.) KARL BUCHER, Professor of Statistics andNational Economy at the University.

"The Widow's Mite," p. 276.

The tremendous power which occasionally manifests itself whenthe conditions are favourable was shown once in the presence ofZollner, Weber, and Scheibner, all three professors of theUniversity. There was a strong wooden screen on one side of theroom:

A violent crack was suddenly heard as in thedischarging of a large battery of Leyden jars. On turning withsome alarm in the direction of the sound, the before-mentionedscreen fell apart in two pieces. The strong wooden screws, halfan inch thick, were torn from above and below, without anyvisible contact of Slade with the screen. The parts broken wereat least five feet removed from Slade, who had his back to thescreen; but even if he had intended to tear it down by a cleverlydevised sideward motion, it would have been necessary to fastenit on the opposite side. As it was, the screen stood quiteunattached, and the grain of the wood being parallel to the axisof the cylindrical wooden fastenings, the wrenching asunder couldonly be accomplished by a force acting longitudinally to the partin question. We were all astonished at this unexpected andviolent manifestation of mechanical force, and asked Slade whatit all meant; but he only shrugged his shoulders, saying thatsuch phenomena occasionally, though somewhat rarely, occurred inhis presence. As he spoke, he placed, while still standing, apiece of slate-pencil on the polished surface of the table, laidover it a slate, purchased and just cleaned by myself, andpressed the five spread fingers of his right hand on the uppersurface of the slate, while his left hand rested on the centre ofthe table. Writing began on the inner surface of the slate, andwhen Slade turned it up, the following sentence was written inEnglish: "It was not our intention to do harm. Forgive what hashappened." We were the more surprised at the production of thewriting under these circ*mstances, for we particularly observedthat both Slade's hands remained quite motionless while thewriting was going on.*

* Transcendental Physics, p. 34,35.

In his desperate attempt to explain this incident, Mr. McCabesays that no doubt the screen was broken before and fastenedtogether afterwards with thread. There is truly no limit to thecredulity of the incredulous.

After a very successful series of séances in St. Petersburg,Slade returned to London for a few days in 1878, and thenproceeded to Australia. An interesting account of his work thereis to be found in Mr. James Curtis's book, "Rustlings in theGolden City." Then he returned to America. In 1885 he appearedbefore the Seybert Commission in Philadelphia, and in 1887 againvisited England under the name of "Dr. Wilson," though it waswell known who he was. Presumably his alias was due to a fearthat the old proceedings would be renewed.

At most of his séances, Slade exhibited clairvoyant powers,and materialized hands were a familiar occurrence. In Australia,where psychic conditions are good, he had materializations. Mr.Curtis says that the medium objected to sitting for this form ofmanifestation, because it left him weak for a time, and becausehe preferred to give séances in the light. He consented, however,to try with Mr. Curtis, who thus describes what took place atBallarat, in Victoria:

Our first test of spirit appearance in the formtook place at Lester's Hotel. I placed the table about four orfive feet from the west wall of the room. Mr. Slade sat at theend of the table furthest from the wall, whilst I took myposition on the north side. The gaslight was toned down, not somuch but that any object in the room could be clearly seen. Ourhands were placed over one another in a single pile. We sat verystill about ten minutes, when I observed something like a littlemisty cloud between myself and the wall. When my attention wasfirst drawn towards this phenomenon, it was about the size andcolour of a gentleman's high-crowned, whitish-grey felt hat. Thiscloudlike appearance rapidly grew and became transformed, when wesaw before us a woman—a lady. The being thus fashioned, andall but perfected, rose from the floor on to the top of thetable, where I could most distinctly observe the configuration.The arms and hands were elegantly shaped; the forehead, mouth,nose, cheeks, and beautiful brown hair showed harmoniously, eachpart in concord with the whole. Only the eyes were veiled becausethey could not be completely materialized. The feet were encasedin white satin shoes. The dress glowed in light, and was the mostbeautiful I ever beheld, the colour being bright, sheeny silverygrey, or greyish shining white. The whole figure was graceful,and the drapery perfect. The materialized spirit glided andwalked about, causing the table to shake, vibrate, jerk and tiltconsiderably. I could hear, too, the rustling of the dress as thecelestial visitant transiently wended from one position or placeto another. The spirit form, within two feet of our unmovedhands, still piled up together in a heap, then dissolved, andgradually faded from our vision.

The conditions at this beautiful séance—with themedium's hands held throughout, and with enough light forvisibility—seem satisfactory, provided we grant the honestyof the witness. As the preface contains the supporting testimonyof a responsible Australian Government official, who also speaksof Mr. Curtis's initial extremely sceptical state of mind, we maywell do so. At the same séance a quarter of an hour later thefigure again appeared:

The apparition then floated in the air andalighted on the table, rapidly glided about, and thrice bent herbeautiful figure with graceful bows, each bending deliberate andlow, the head coming within six inches of my face. The dressrustled (as silk rustles) with every movement. The face waspartially veiled as before. The visibility then became invisible,slowly disappearing like the former materialization.

Other similar séances are described.

In view of the many elaborate and stringent tests throughwhich he passed successfully, the story of Slade's "exposure" inAmerica in 1886 is not convincing, but we refer to it forhistorical reasons, and to show that such incidents are notexcluded from our review of the subject. The BostonHerald, February 2, 1886, heads its account, "The celebratedDr. Slade comes to grief in Weston, West Virginia, writes uponslates which lie upon his knees under the table, and moves tablesand chairs with his toes." Observers in an adjoining room,looking through the crevice under the door saw these feats ofa*gility being performed by the medium, though those present inthe room with him were unaware of them. There seems, however, tohave been in this as in other cases, occurrences which bore theappearance of fraud, and Spiritualists were among those whodenounced him. At a subsequent public performance for "DirectSpirit Writing" in the Justice Hall, Weston, Mr. E. S. Barrett,described as a "Spiritualist," came forward and explained howSlade's imposture had been detected. Slade, who was asked tospeak, appeared dumbfounded, and could only say, according to thereport, that if his accusers had been deceived he had beenequally so, for if the deceit had been done by him, it had beenwithout his consciousness.

Mr. J. Simmons, Slade's business manager, made a frankstatement which seems to point to the operation of ectoplasmiclimbs, as years later was proved to be the case with the famousItalian medium, Eusapia Palladino. He says: "I do not doubt thatthese gentlemen saw what they assert they did; but I am convincedat the same time that Slade is as innocent of what he is accusedof as you (the editor) yourself would have been under similarcirc*mstances. But I know that my explanation would have noweight in a court of justice. I myself saw a hand, which I couldhave sworn to be that of Slade, if it had been possible for hishand to be in that position. While one of his hands lay upon thetable and the other held the slate under the corner of the table,a third hand appeared with a clothes-brush (which a momentpreviously had brushed against me from the knee upwards) in themiddle of the opposite edge of the table, which was forty-twoinches long." Slade and his manager were arrested and released onbail, but no further proceedings seem to have been taken againstthem. Truesdell, also, in his book, "Spiritualism, Bottom Facts,"states that he saw Slade effecting the movement of objects withhis foot, and he asks his readers to believe that the medium madeto him a full confession of how all his manifestations wereproduced. If Slade ever really did this, it may probably beaccounted for by a burst of ill-timed levity on his part inseeking to fool a certain type of investigator by giving himexactly what he was seeking for. To such instances we may applythe judgment of Professor Zollner on the Lankester incident: "Thephysical facts observed by us in so astonishing a variety in hispresence negatived on every reasonable ground the suppositionthat he in one solitary case had taken refuge in wilfulimposture." He adds, what was certainly the case in thatparticular instance, that Slade was the victim of his accuser'sand his judge's limited knowledge.

At the same time there is ample evidence that Sladedegenerated in general character towards the latter part of hislife. Promiscuous sittings with a mercenary object, thesubsequent exhaustions, and the alcoholic stimulus which affordsa temporary relief, all acting upon a most sensitiveorganization, had a deleterious effect. This weakening ofcharacter, with a corresponding loss of health, may have led to adiminution of his psychic powers, and increased the temptation toresort to trickery. Making every allowance for the difficulty ofdistinguishing what is fraud and what is of crude psychic origin,an unpleasant impression is left upon the mind by the evidencegiven in the Seybert Commission and by the fact thatSpiritualists upon the spot should have condemned his action.Human frailty, however, is one thing and psychic power isanother. Those who seek evidence for the latter will find amplein those years when the man and his powers were both at theirzenith.

Slade died in 1905 at a Michigan sanatorium to which he hadbeen sent by the American Spiritualists, and the announcement wasfollowed by the customary sort of comment in the London Press.The Star, which has an evil tradition in psychic matters,printed a sensational article headed "Spook Swindles," giving agarbled account of the Lankester prosecution at Bow Street.Referring to this, Light says*:

Of course, this whole thing is a hash ofignorance, unfairness and prejudice. We do not care to discuss itor to controvert it. It would be useless to do so for the sake ofthe unfair, the ignorant, and the prejudiced, and it is notnecessary for those who know. Suffice it to say that TheStar only supplies one more instance of the difficulty ofgetting all the facts before the public; but the prejudicednewspapers have themselves to blame for their ignorance orinaccuracy.

* 1886, p. 433.

It is the story of the Davenport Brothers and Maskelyne overagain.

If Slade's career is difficult to appraise, and if one isforced to admit that while there was an overpoweringpreponderance of psychic results, there was also a residuum whichleft the unpleasant impression that the medium might supplementtruth with fraud, the same admission must be made in the case ofthe medium Monck, who played a considerable part for some yearsin the 'seventies. Of all mediums none is more difficult toappraise, for on the one hand many of his results are beyond alldispute, while in a few there seems to be an absolute certaintyof dishonesty. In his case, as in Slade's, there were physicalcauses which would account for a degeneration of the moral andpsychic powers.


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (17)

Francis Ward Monck.


Monck was a Nonconformist clergyman, a favourite pupil of thefamous Spurgeon. According to his own account, he had beensubject from childhood to psychic influences, which increasedwith his growth. In 1873 he announced his adhesion toSpiritualism and gave an address in the Cavendish Rooms. Shortlyafterwards he began to give demonstrations, which appear to havebeen unpaid and were given in light. In 1875 he made a tourthrough England and Scotland, his performances exciting muchattention and debate, and in 1876 he visited Ireland, where hispowers were directed towards healing. Hence he was usually knownas "Dr." Monck, a fact which naturally aroused some protest fromthe medical profession.

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, a most competent and honestobserver, has given an account of a materialization séance withMonck which appears to be as critic-proof as such a thing couldbe. No subsequent suspicion or conviction can ever eliminate suchan incontrovertible instance of psychic power. It is to be notedhow far the effects were in agreement with the subsequentdemonstrations of ectoplasmic outflow in the case of Eva andother modern mediums. Dr. Wallace's companions upon this occasionwere Mr. Stainton Moses and Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood. Dr. Wallacewrites:


The History of Spiritualism, Vol. I (18)

Alfred Russel Wallace.


It was a bright summer afternoon, and everythinghappened in the full light of day. After a little conversation,Monck, who was dressed in the usual clerical black, appeared togo into a trance; then stood up a few feet in front of us, andafter a little while pointed to his side, saying, "Look."

We saw there a faint white patch on his coat onthe left side. This grew brighter, then seemed to flicker andextend both upwards and downwards, till very gradually it formeda cloudy pillar extending from his shoulder to his feet and closeto his body.

Dr. Wallace goes on to describe how the cloudy figure finallyassumed the form of a thickly draped woman, who, after a briefspace, appeared to be absorbed into the body of the medium.

He adds: "The whole process of the formation of a shroudedfigure was seen in full daylight."

Mr. Wedgwood assured him that he had lead even more remarkablemanifestations of this kind with Monck, when the medium was in adeep trance, and in full view.

It is quite impossible after such evidence to doubt the powersof the medium at that time. Archdeacon Colley, who had seensimilar exhibitions, offered a prize of a thousand pounds to Mr.J. N. Maskelyne, the famous conjurer, if he could duplicate theperformance. This challenge was accepted by Mr. Maskelyne, butthe evidence showed that the imitation bore no relation to theoriginal. He attempted to gain a decision in the courts, but theverdict was against him.

It is interesting to compare the account given by RusselWallace and the experience later of a well-known American, JudgeDailey. This gentleman wrote*:

Glancing at Dr. Monck's side we observed whatlooked like an opalescent mass of compact steam emerging fromjust below his heart on the left side. It increased in volume,rising up and extending downward, the upper portions taking theform of a child's head, the face being distinguished as that of alittle child I had lost some twenty years previously. It onlyremained in this form for a moment, and then suddenlydisappeared, seeming to be instantly absorbed into the Doctor'sside. This remarkable phenomenon was repeated four or five times,in each instance the materialization being more distinct than thepreceding one. This was witnessed by all in the room, with gasburning sufficiently bright for every object in the room to beplainly visible.

It was a phenomenon seldom to be seen, and hasenabled all who saw it to vouch for, not only the remarkablepower possessed by Dr. Monck as a materializing medium, but as tothe wonderful manner in which a spirit draws out.

* Banner Of Light, Dec. 15, 1881.

Surely it is vain after such testimony to deny that Monck had,indeed, great psychic powers.

Apart from materializations Dr. Monck was a remarkable slate-writing medium. Dr. Russel Wallace in a letter to TheSpectator* says that with Monck at a private house inRichmond he cleaned two slates, and after placing a fragment ofpencil between them, tied them together tightly with a strongcord, lengthways and crosswise, in a manner that prevented anymovement.

I then laid them flat on the table withoutlosing sight of them for an instant. Dr. Monck placed the fingersof both hands on them, while I and a lady sitting opposite placedour hands on the corners of the slates. From this position ourhands were never moved till I untied the slates to ascertain theresult.

* October 7, 1877.

Monck asked Wallace to name a word to be written on the slate.He chose the word "God" and in answer to a request decided thatit should be length ways on the slate. The sound of writing washeard, and when the medium's hands were withdrawn, Dr. Wallaceopened the slates and found on the lower one the word he hadasked for and written in the manner requested.

Dr. Wallace says:

The essential features of this experiment arethat I myself cleaned and tied up the slates; that I kept myhands on them all the time; that they never went out of my sightfor a moment; and that I named the word to be written, and themanner of writing it after they were thus secured and held byme.

Mr. Edward T. Bennett, assistant secretary to the Society forPsychical Research, adds to this account: "I was present on thisoccasion, and certify that Mr. Wallace's account of what happenedis correct."

Another good test is described by Mr. W. P. Adshead, ofBelper, a well-known investigator, who says of a séance held inDerby on September 18, 1876:

There were eight persons present, three ladiesand five gentlemen. A lady whom Dr. Monck had never before seenhad a slate passed to her by a sitter, which she examined andfound clean. The slate pencil which was on the table a fewminutes before we sat down could not be found. An investigatorsuggested that it would be a good test if a lead pencil wereused.

Accordingly a lead pencil was put on the slate,and the lady held both under the table. The sound of writing wasinstantly heard, and in a few seconds a communication had beenwritten filling one side of the slate. The writing was done inlead, and was very small and neat, and alluded to a strictlyprivate matter.

Here were three tests at once. (1) Writing wasobtained without the medium (or any other person but the lady),touching the slate from first to last. (2) It was written withlead pencil at the spontaneous suggestion of another stranger.(3) It gave an important test communication regarding a matterthat was strictly private. Dr. Monck did not so much as touch theslate from first to last.

Mr. Adshead also speaks of physical phenomena occurring freelywith this medium when his hands were closely confined in anapparatus called the "stocks," which did not permit movement ofeven an inch in any direction.

In the year 1876 the Slade trial was going on in London, asalready described, and exposures were in the air. In consideringthe following rather puzzling and certainly suspicious case, onehas to remember that when a man who is a public performer, aconjurer or a mesmerist, can pose as having exposed a medium, hewins a valuable public advertisem*nt and attracts to himself allthat very numerous section of the community who desire to seesuch an exposure. It is only fair to bear this in mind inendeavouring to hold the scales fair where there is a conflict ofevidence.

In this case the conjurer and mesmerist was one Lodge, and theoccasion was a séance held at Huddersfield on November 3, 1876.Mr. Lodge suddenly demanded that the medium be searched. Monck,whether dreading assault or to save himself exposure, ranupstairs and locked himself in his room. He then let himself downfrom his window and made for the police office, where he lodged acomplaint as to his treatment. The door of his bedroom had beenforced and his effects searched, with the result that a pair ofstuffed gloves was found. Monck asserted that these gloves hadbeen made for a lecture in which he had exposed the differencebetween conjuring and mediumship. Still, as a Spiritualist paperremarked at the time:

The phenomena of his mediumship do not rest onhis probity at all. If he were the greatest rogue and the mostaccomplished conjurer rolled into one, it would not account forthe manifestations which have been reported of him.

Monck was sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and isalleged to have made a confession to Mr. Lodge.

After his release from prison Monck held a number of testsittings with Stainton Moses, at which remarkable phenomenaoccurred.

Light comments:

Those whose names we have mentioned astestifying to the genuineness of Dr. Monck's mediumship are well-known to the older Spiritualists as keen and scrupulouslycautious experimenters, and Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's name carriedmuch weight, as he was known as a man of science and was brother-in-law of Charles Darwin.

There is an element of doubt about the Huddersfield case, asthe accuser was by no means an impartial person, but Sir WilliamBarrett's testimony makes it clear that Monck did sometimesdescend to deliberate and cold-blooded trickery. Sir Williamwrites:

I caught the "Dr." in a gross bit of fraud, apiece of white muslin on a wire frame with a black threadattached, being used by the medium to simulate a partiallymaterialized spirit.*

* S.P.R. Proceedings, Vol. IV., p. 38(footnote).

Such an exposure, coming from so sure a source, arouses afeeling of disgust which urges one to throw the whole evidenceconcerning the man into the wastepaper basket. One must, however,be patient and reasonable in such matters. Monck's earlierséances, as has been clearly shown, were in good light, and anysuch clumsy mechanism was out of the question. We must not arguethat because a man once forges, therefore he has never signed anhonest cheque in his life. But we must clearly admit that Monckwas capable of fraud, that he would take the easier way whenthings were difficult, and that each of his manifestations shouldbe carefully checked.


XIV. — COLLECTIVEINVESTIGATIONS OF SPIRITUALISM

SEVERAL committees have at different times satupon the subject of Spiritualism. Of these the two most importantare that of the Dialectical Society in 1869-70, and the SeybertCommission in 1884, the first British and the second American. Tothese may be added that of the French society, Institut GeneralPsychologique in 1905-8. In spite of the intervals between thesevarious investigations, it will be convenient to treat them in asingle chapter as certain remarks in common apply to each ofthem.

There are obvious difficulties in the way of collectiveinvestigations —difficulties which are so grave that theyare almost insurmountable. When a Crookes or a Lombroso exploresthe subject he either sits alone with the medium, or he has withhim others whose knowledge of psychic conditions and laws may behelpful in the matter. This is not usually so with thesecommittees. They fail to understand that they are themselves partof the experiment, and that it is possible for them to createsuch intolerable vibrations, and to surround themselves with sonegative an atmosphere, that these outside forces, which aregoverned by very definite laws, are unable to penetrate it. It isnot in vain that the three words "with one accord" areinterpolated into the account of the apostolic sitting in theupper room. If a small piece of metal may upset a whole magneticinstallation, so a strong adverse psychic current may ruin apsychic circle. It is for this reason, and not on account of anysuperior credulity, that practising Spiritualists continually getsuch results as are never attained by mere researchers. This alsomay be the reason why the one committee upon which Spiritualistswere fairly well represented was the one which gained the mostpositive results. This was the committee which was chosen by theDialectical Society of London, a committee which began itsexplorations early in 1869 and presented its report in 1871. Ifcommon sense and the ordinary laws of evidence had been followedin the reception of this report, the progress of psychic truthwould have been accelerated by fifty years.

Thirty-four gentlemen of standing were appointed upon thiscommittee, the terms of reference being "to investigate thephenomena alleged to be spiritual manifestations." The majorityof the members were certainly in the mood to unmask an imposture,but they encountered a body of evidence which could not bedisregarded, and they ended by asserting that "the subject isworthy of more serious attention and careful investigation thanit has hitherto received." This conclusion so amazed the societywhich they represented that they could not get it to publish thefindings, so the committee in a spirited way published them attheir own cost, thus giving permanent record to a mostinteresting investigation.

The members of the committee were drawn from many variedprofessions and included a doctor of divinity, two physicians,two surgeons, two civil engineers, two fellows of scientificsocieties, two barristers, and others of repute. CharlesBradlaugh the Rationalist was a member. Professor Huxley and G.H. Lewes, the consort of George Eliot, were invited to co-operate, but both refused, Huxley stating in his reply that"supposing the phenomena to be genuine, they do not interestme"—a dictum which showed that this great and clear-headedman had his limitations.

The six sub-committees sat forty tunes under test conditions,often without the aid of a professional medium, and with a fullsense of responsibility they agreed that the following pointsappeared to have been established

"1. That sounds of a very varied character,apparently proceeding from articles of furniture, the floor andwalls of the room—the vibrations accompanying which soundsare often distinctly perceptible to the touch —occur,without being produced by muscular action or mechanicalcontrivance.

"2. That movements of heavy bodies take placewithout mechanical contrivance of any kind or adequate exertionof muscular force by the persons present, and frequently withoutcontact or connexion with any person.

"3. That these sounds and movements often occurat the times and in the manner asked for by persons present, and,by means of a simple code of signals, answer questions and spellout coherent communications.

"4. That the answers and communications thusobtained are, for the most part, of a commonplace character; butfacts are sometimes correctly given which are only known to oneof the persons present.

"5. That the circ*mstances under which thephenomena occur are variable, the most prominent fact being thatthe presence of certain persons seems necessary to theiroccurrence, and that of others generally adverse; but thisdifference does not appear to depend upon any belief or disbeliefconcerning the phenomena.

"6. That, nevertheless, the occurrence of thephenomena is not ensured by the presence or absence of suchpersons respectively."

The report briefly summarizes as follows the oral and writtenevidence received, which not only testifies to phenomena of thesame nature as those witnessed by the sub-committees, but toothers of a more varied and extraordinary character:

"1. Thirteen witnesses state that they have seenheavy bodies—in some instances men—rise slowly in theair and remain there for some time without visible or tangiblesupport.

"2. Fourteen witnesses testify to having seenhands or figures, not appertaining to any human being, butlifelike in appearance and mobility, which they have sometimestouched or even grasped, and which they are therefore convincedwere not the result of imposture or illusion.

"3. Five witnesses state that they have beentouched by some invisible agency on various parts of the body,and often where requested, when the hands of all present werevisible.

"4. Thirteen witnesses declare that they haveheard musical pieces well played upon instruments not manipulatedby any ascertainable agency.

"5. Five witnesses state that they have seenred-hot coals applied to the hands or heads of several personswithout producing pain or scorching, and three witnesses statethat they have had the same experiment made upon themselves withthe like immunity.

"6. Eight witnesses state that they havereceived precise information through rappings, writings, and inother ways, the accuracy of which was unknown at the time tothemselves or to any persons present, and which on subsequentinquiry was found to be correct.

"7. One witness declares that he has received aprecise and detailed statement which, nevertheless, proved to beentirely erroneous.

"8. Three witnesses state that they have beenpresent when drawings, both in pencil and colours, were producedin so short a time, and under such conditions as to render humanagency impossible.

"9. Six witnesses declare that they havereceived information of future events, and that in some cases thehour and minute of their occurrence have been accuratelyforetold, days and even weeks before."

In addition to the above, evidence was given of trance-speaking, of healing, of automatic writing, of the introductionof flowers and fruits into closed rooms, of voices in the air, ofvisions in crystals and glasses, and of the elongation of thehuman body.

The report closes with the following observations:

In presenting their report, your Committee,taking into consideration the high character and greatintelligence of many of the witnesses to the more extraordinaryfacts, the extent to which their testimony is supported by thereports of the sub-committees, and the absence of any proof ofimposture or delusion as regards a large portion of thephenomena; and further, having regard to the exceptionalcharacter of the phenomena, the large number of persons in everygrade of society and over the whole civilized world who are moreor less influenced by a belief in their supernatural origin, andto the fact that no philosophical explanation of them has yetbeen arrived at, deem it incumbent upon them to state theirconviction that the subject is worthy of more serious attentionand careful investigation than it has hitherto received.

Among those who gave evidence or read papers before thecommittee were: Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, Mrs. Emma Hardinge,Mr. H. D. Jencken, Mr. Benjamin Coleman, Mr. Cromwell F. Varley,Mr. D.D. Home, and the Master of Lindsay. Correspondence wasreceived from Lord Lytton, Mr. Robert Chambers, Dr. GarthWilkinson, Mr. William Howitt, M. Camille Flammarion, andothers.

The committee was successful in procuring the evidence ofbelievers in the phenomena, but almost wholly failed, as statedin its report, to obtain evidence from those who attributed themto fraud or delusion.

In the records of the evidence of over fifty witnesses, thereis voluminous testimony to the existence of the facts from menand women of good standing. One witness* considered that the mostremarkable phenomenon brought to light by the labours of thecommittee was the extraordinary number of eminent men who wereshown to be firm believers in the Spiritual hypothesis. Andanother declared that whatever agencies might be employed inthese manifestations, they were not to be explained by referringthem to imposture on the one side or hallucination on theother.

* Grattan Geary. E. L. Blanchard.

An interesting sidelight on the growth of the movement isobtained from Mrs. Emma Hardinge's statement that at that time(1869) she knew only two professional mediums in London, thoughshe was acquainted with several non-professional ones. As sheherself was a medium she was probably correct in what she said.Mr. Cromwell Varley averred that there were probably not morethan a hundred known mediums in the whole kingdom, and he addedthat very few of those were well developed. We have hereconclusive testimony to the great work accomplished in England byD.D. Home, for the bulk of the converts were due to hismediumship. Another medium who played an important part was Mrs.Marshall. Many witnesses spoke of evidential sittings they hadattended at her house. Mr. William Howitt, the well-known author,was of opinion that Spiritualism had then received the assent ofabout twenty millions of people in all countries after personalexamination.

What may be called the evidence for the opposition was not atall formidable. Lord Lytton said that in his experience thephenomena were traceable to material influences of whose naturewe were ignorant, Dr. Carpenter brought out his pet hobby of"unconscious cerebration." Dr. Kidd thought that the majoritywere evidently subjective phenomena, and three witnesses, whileconvinced of the genuineness of the occurrences, ascribed them toSatanic agency. These objections were well answered by Mr. ThomasShorter, author of "Confessions of a Truth Seeker," and secretaryof the Working Men's College, in an admirable review of thereport in the Spiritual Magazine.*

* 1872, pp. 3-15.

It is worthy of note that on the publication of this importantand well-considered report it was ridiculed by a large part ofthe London Press. An honourable exception was TheSpectator.

The Times reviewer considered it "nothing more than afarrago of impotent conclusions, garnished by a mass of the mostmonstrous rubbish it has ever been our misfortune to sit injudgment upon."

The Morning Post said: "The report which has beenpublished is entirely worthless."

The Saturday Review hoped that report wouldinvoluntarily lead "to discrediting a little further one of themost unequivocally degrading superstitions that have ever foundcurrency among reasonable beings."

The Standard made a sound criticism that deserves to beremembered. Objecting to the remark of those who do not believein Spiritualism, yet say that there may be "something in it," thenewspaper sagely observes: "If there is anything whatever in itbeyond imposture and imbecility, there is the whole of anotherworld in it."

The Daily News regarded the report as "an importantcontribution to the literature of a subject which, some day orother, by the very number of its followers, will demand moreextended investigation."

The Spectator, after describing the book as anextremely curious one, added: "Few, however, could read the massof evidence collected in this volume, showing the firm faith inthe reality of the alleged spiritual phenomena possessed by anumber of individuals of honourable and upright character,without also agreeing with Mr. Jeffrey's opinion, that theremarkable phenomena witnessed, some of which had not been tracedto imposture or delusion, and the gathered testimony ofrespectable witnesses, 'justify the recommendation of the subjectto further cautious investigation.'"

These are but brief extracts from longer notices in a few ofthe London newspapers—there were many others—and, badas they are, they none the less indicate a change of attitude onthe part of the Press, which had been in the habit of ignoringthe subject altogether.

It must be remembered that the report concerned itself onlywith the phenomenal aspect of Spiritualism, and this, in theopinion of leading Spiritualists, is decidedly the less importantside. Only in the report of one sub-committee is it recorded thatthe general gist of the messages was that physical death was atrivial matter in retrospect, but that for the spirit it was arebirth into new experiences of existence, that spirit life wasin every respect human; that friendly intercourse was as commonand pleasurable as in life; that although spirits took greatinterest in worldly affairs, they had no wish to return to theirformer state of existence; that communication with earth friendswas pleasurable and desired by spirits, being intended as a proofto the former of the continuance of life in spite of bodilydissolution, and that spirits claimed no certain prophetic power.These were the main heads of the information received.

It will be generally recognized in the future that in theirday and generation, the Dialectical Society's Committee didexcellent work. The great majority of the members were opposed tothe psychic claims, but in the face of evidence, with a fewexceptions, such as Dr. Edmunds, they yielded to the testimony oftheir own senses. There were a few examples of intolerance suchas Huxley's unhappy dictum, and Charles Bradlaugh's declarationthat he would not even examine certain things because they werein the region of the impossible, but on the whole the team workof the sub-committees was excellent.

There appears in the report of the Dialectical Society'sCommittee a long article by Dr. Edmunds, an opponent toSpiritualism, and to the findings of his colleagues. It is worthreading as typical of a certain class of mind. The worthy doctor,while imagining himself to be impartial, is really so absolutelyprejudiced that the conceivable possibility of the phenomenabeing supernormal never is allowed to enter into his mind. Whenhe sees one with his own eyes his only question is, "How was thetrick done?" If he cannot answer the question he does notconsider this to be in favour of some other explanation, butsimply records that he cannot discover the trick. Thus hisevidence, which is perfectly honest as to fact, records that anumber of fresh flowers and fruits, still wet, fell upon thetable—a phenomenon of apports which was shown many times byMrs. Guppy. The doctor's only comment is that they must have beentaken from the sideboard, although one would have imagined that alarge basket of fruit upon the sideboard would have attractedattention, and he does not venture to say that he saw such anobject. Again he was shut up with the Davenports in their cabinetand admits that he could make nothing of it, but, of course, itmust be a conjuring trick. Then when he finds that mediums whoperceive that his mental attitude is hopeless refuse to sit withhim again, he sets that down also as an evidence of their guilt.There is a certain type of scientific mind which is quite astutewithin its own subject and, outside it, is the most foolish andillogical thing upon earth.

It was the misfortune of the Seybert Commission, which we willnow discuss, that it was entirely composed of such people, withthe exception of one Spiritualist, a Mr. Hazard, who was co-optedby them and who had little chance of influencing their generalatmosphere of obstruction. The circ*mstances in which theCommission was appointed were these. A certain Henry Seybert, acitizen of Philadelphia, had left the sum of sixty thousanddollars for the purpose of founding a Chair of Philosophy at theUniversity of Pennsylvania with the condition that the saidUniversity should appoint a commission to "make a thorough andimpartial investigation of all systems of morals, religion, orphilosophy which assume to represent the truth, and particularlyof modern Spiritualism." The personnel of the body chosen isimmaterial save that all were connected with the University, withDr. Pepper, the Provost of the University as nominal chairman,Dr. Furness as acting chairman, and Professor Fullerton assecretary. In spite of the fact that the duty of the Commissionwas to "make a thorough and impartial investigation" of modernSpiritualism, the preliminary report coolly states The Commissionis composed of men whose days are already filled with dutieswhich cannot be laid aside, and who are able, therefore, todevote but a small portion of their time to theseinvestigations.

The fact that the members were satisfied to start with thishandicap shows how little they understood the nature of the workbefore them. Their failure, in the circ*mstances, was inevitable.The proceedings began in March, 1884, and a "preliminary" report,so called, was issued in 1887. This report was, as it proved, thefinal one, for though it was reissued in 1920 there was noaddition save a colourless preface of three paragraphs by adescendant of the former chairman. The gist of this report isthat fraud on the one side and credulity on the other make up thewhole of Spiritualism, and that there was really nothing seriouson which the committee could report. The whole long document iswell worth reading by any student of psychic matters. Theimpression left upon the mind is that the various members of theCommission were in their own limited way honestly endeavouring toget at the facts, but that their minds, like that of Dr. Edmunds,were so formed that when, in spite of their repellent andimpossible attitude, some psychic happening did manage to breakthrough their barriers, they would not for an instant considerthe possibility that it was genuine, but simply passed it by asif it did not exist. Thus with Mrs. Fox-Kane they did get well-marked raps, and are content with the thousand-times disprovedsupposition that they came from inside her own body, and theypass without comment the fact that they received from her longmessages, written swiftly in script, which could only be readwhen held to the looking-glass, as it was from right to left.This swiftly-written script contained an abstruse Latin sentencewhich would appear to be much above the capacity of the medium.All of this was unexplained and ignored.

Again, in reporting upon Mrs. Lord the Commission got theDirect Voice, and also phosphorescent lights after the medium hadbeen searched. We are informed that the medium kept up an "almostcontinuous clapping of hands," and yet people at a distance fromher seem to have been touched. The spirit in which the inquiry isapproached may be judged from the remark of the acting chairmanto W. M. Keeler, who was said to be a spirit photographer, thathe "would not be satisfied with less than a cherub on my head,one on each shoulder, and a full-blown angel on my breast." ASpiritualist would be surprised indeed if an inquirer in sofrivolous a mood should be favoured with results. All throughruns the fallacy that the medium is producing something as aconjurer does. Never for a moment do they seem to realize thatthe favour and assent of invisible operators may be essential– operators who may stoop to the humble-minded and shrinkaway from, or even make game of, the self-sufficient scoffer.

While there were some results which may have been genuine, butwhich are brushed aside by the report, there were some episodeswhich must be painful to the Spiritualist, but which none theless must be faced. The Commission exposed obvious fraud in thecase of the slate medium, Mrs. Patterson, and it is impossible todeny that the case against Slade is a substantial one. The latterdays of this medium were admittedly under a cloud, and the powerswhich had once been so conspicuous may have been replaced bytrickery. Dr. Furness goes the length of asserting that suchtrickery was actually admitted, but the anecdote as given in thereport rather suggests chaff upon the part of the medium. ThatDr. Slade should jovially beckon the doctor in from his openwindow, and should at once in reply to a facetious remark admitthat his own whole life had been a swindle, is more than one caneasily believe.

There are some aspects in which the Commission—or somemembers of it—seem to have been disingenuous. Thus, theystate at the beginning that they will rest their report upontheir own labours and disregard the mass of material alreadyavailable. In spite of this, they introduce a long and adversereport from their secretary upon the Zollner evidence in favourof Slade. This report is quite incorrect in itself, as is shownin the account of Zollner given in the chapter treating ofSlade's experiences in Leipzig. It carefully suppresses the factthat the chief conjurer in Germany, after a considerableinvestigation, gave a certificate that Slade's phenomena were nottrickery. On the other hand, when the testimony of a conjurer isagainst a spiritual explanation, as in the comments of Kellar, itis given in full, with no knowledge, apparently, that in the caseof another medium, Eglinton, this same Kellar had declared theresults to be beyond his art.

At the opening of the report the Commission says: "We deemedourselves fortunate at the outset in having as a counsellor thelate Mr. Thomas R. Hazard, a personal friend of Mr. Seybert, andwidely known throughout the land as an uncompromisingSpiritualist." Mr. Hazard evidently knew the importance ofensuring the right conditions and the right type of sitters forsuch an experimental investigation. Describing an interview hehad with Mr. Seybert a few days before the latter's death, whenhe agreed to act as his representative, Mr. Hazard says he did soonly "with the full and distinct understanding that I should bepermitted to prescribe the methods to be pursued in theinvestigation, designate the mediums to be consulted, and rejectthe attendance of any person or persons whose presence I deemedmight conflict with the harmony and good order of the spiritcircles." But this representative of Mr. Seybert seems to havebeen quietly ignored by the University. After the Commission hadbeen sitting for some time, Mr. Hazard was dissatisfied with someof its members and their methods. We find him writing as followsin the Philadelphia North American, [May 18, 1885.]presumably after vainly approaching the Universityauthorities:

Without aiming to detract in the slightestdegree from the unblemished moral character that attaches to eachand every individual of the Faculty, including the Commission, inpublic esteem, nor to the high social and literary standing theyoccupy in society, I must say that through some strangeinfatuation, obliquity of judgment, or perversity of intellect,the Trustees of the University have placed on the Commission forthe investigation of modern Spiritualism, a majority of itsmembers whose education, habit of thought, and prejudices sosingularly disqualify them from making a thorough and impartialinvestigation of the subject which the Trustees of the Universityare obligated both by contract and in honour to do, that had theobject in view been to belittle and bring into discredit, hatredand general contempt the cause that I know the late Henry Seybertheld nearest his heart and loved more than all else in the worldbeside, the Trustees could scarcely have selected more suitableinstruments for the object intended from all the denizens ofPhiladelphia than are the gentlemen who constitute a majority ofthe Seybert Commission. And this I repeat, not from any causesthat affect their moral, social or literary standing in society,but simply because of their prejudices against the cause ofSpiritualism.

He further advised the Trustees to remove from the CommissionMessrs. Fullerton, Thompson, and Koenig.

Mr. Hazard quoted Professor Fullerton as saying in a lecturebefore the Harvard University Club on March 3, 1885:

It is possible that the way mediums tell aperson's history is by the process of thought-transference, forevery person who is thus told of these things goes to a mediumthinking of the same points about which the medium talks... Whena man has a cold he hears a buzzing noise in his ears, and aninsane person constantly hears sounds which never occur. Perhaps,then, disease of mind or ear, or some strong emotion, may be thecause of a large number of spiritual phenomena.

These words were spoken after the professor had served on theCommission for more than twelve months.

Mr. Hazard also quotes Dr. George A. Koenig's views, publishedin The Philadelphia Press, about a year after hisappointment on the Commission:

I must frankly admit that I am prepared to denythe truth of Spiritualism as it is now popularly understood. Itis my belief that all of the so-called mediums are humbugswithout exception. I have never seen Slade perform any of histricks, but, from the published descriptions, I have set him downas an impostor, the cleverest one of the lot. I do not think theCommission view with much favour the examination of so-calledspirit mediums. The wisest men are apt to be deceived. One man inan hour can invent more tricks than a wise man can solve in ayear.

Mr. Hazard learned from what he considered to be a reliablesource, that Professor Robert E. Thompson was responsible forthis view which appeared in Penn's Monthly of February, 1880.

Even if Spiritualism be all that its championsclaim for it, it has no importance for anyone who holds aChristian faith. The consideration and discussion of the subjectis tampering with notions and condescending to discussions withwhich no Christian believer has any business.

We have in these expressions of opinion a means of judging howunsuited these members of the Commission were for making what Mr.Seybert asked for —"a thorough and impartial" investigationof the subject.

An American Spiritualist periodical, the Banner OfLight, commenting on Mr. Hazard's communication, wrote:

So far as we have information, no notice wastaken of Mr. Hazard's appeal —certainly no action was had,for the members above quoted remain on the Commission to thisday, and their names are appended to this preliminary report.Professor Fullerton, in fact, was and now is the secretary; onehundred and twenty of the one hundred and fifty pages of thevolume before us are written by him, and exhibit that excessivelack of spiritual perception and knowledge of occult, and wemight also say natural laws, which led him to inform an audienceof Harvard students that "when a man has a cold he hears abuzzing noise in his ears"; that "an insane person constantlyhears sounds which never occur," and suggest to them thatspiritual phenomena may proceed from such causes.

The Banner Of Light continues:

We consider that the Seybert Commission'sfailure to follow the counsel of Mr. Hazard, as it was plainlytheir duty to do, is the key to the entire failure of all theirsub sequent efforts. The paucity of phenomenal results, in anydegree approaching what might be looked for, even by a sceptic,which this book records, is certainly remarkable. It is a reportof what was not done, rather than that of what was. In thememoranda of proceedings at each session, as given by ProfessorFullerton, there is plainly seen a studied effort to giveprominence to everything that a superficial mind might deem proofof trickery on the part of the medium, and to conceal all thatmight be evidence of the truth of his claims... It is mentionedthat when certain members of the Commission were present allphenomena ceased. This substantiates the correctness of Mr.Hazard's position; and there is no one who has had an experiencewith mediums, sufficient to render his opinion of any value, whowill not endorse it. The spirits knew what elements they had todeal with; they endeavoured to eliminate those that renderedtheir experiments nugatory; they failed to do this through theignorance, wilfulness or prejudice of the Commission, and theexperiments failed; so the Commission, very "wise in its ownconceit," decided that all was fraud.

Light,* in its notice of the report, says what needssaying as much now as in 1887:

We notice with some pleasure, though without anymarked expectation of what may result from the pursuance of badmethods of investigation, that the Commission pro poses tocontinue its quest "with minds as sincerely and honestly open asheretofore to conviction." Since this is so, we presume to offera few words of advice founded upon large experience. Theinvestigation of these obscure phenomena is beset withdifficulty, and any instructions that can be given are derivedfrom a knowledge which is to a great extent empirical. But weknow that prolonged and patient experiment with a properlyconstituted circle is a sine qua non. We know that alldoes not depend on the medium, but that a circle must be formedand varied from time to time experimentally, until the properconstituent elements are secured. What these elements may be wecannot tell the Seybert Commission. They must discover that forthemselves. Let them make a study in the literature ofSpiritualism of the varied characteristics of mediumship beforethey proceed to personal experiment. And when they have donethis, and perhaps when they have realized how easy it is so toconduct an examination of this nature as to arrive at negativeresults, they will be in a better position to devote intelligentand patient care to a study which can be profitably conducted inno other way.

*1887, p. 391.

There is no doubt that the report of the Seybert Commissionset back for the time the cause of psychic truth. Yet the realharm fell upon the learned institution which these gentlemenrepresented. In these days when ectoplasm, the physical basis ofpsychic phenomena, has been established beyond a shadow of doubtto all who examine the evidence, it is too late to pretend thatthere is nothing to be examined. There is now hardly a capitalwhich has not its Psychic Research Society—a final commentupon the inference of the Commission that there was no field forresearch. If the Seybert Commission had had the effect ofPennsylvania University heading this movement, and living up tothe great tradition of Professor Hare, how proud would her finalposition have been! As Newton associated Cambridge with the lawof gravitation, so Pennsylvania might have been linked to a farmore important advance of human knowledge. It was left to severalEuropean centres of learning to share the honour among them.

The remaining collective investigation is of less importance,since it deals only with a particular medium. This was conductedby the Institut General Psychologique in Paris. It consisted ofthree series of sittings with the famous Eusapia Palladino in theyears 1905, 1906, and 1907, the total number of séances beingforty-three. No complete list of the sitters is available, norwas there any proper collective report, the only record being avery imperfect and inconclusive one from the secretary, M.Courtier. The investigators included some very distinguishedpersons, including Charles Richet, Monsieur and Madame Curie,Messrs. Bergson, Perrin, Professor d'Arsonal of the College deFrance, who was president of the society, Count de Gramont,Professor Charpentier, and Principal Debierne of the Sorbonne.The actual result could not have been disastrous to the medium,since Professor Richet has recorded his endorsem*nt of thereality of her psychic powers, but the strange superficial tricksof Eusapia are recorded in the subsequent account of her career,and we can well imagine the disconcerting effect which they wouldhave upon those to whom such things were new.

There is included in the report a sort of conversation amongthe sitters in which they talk the matter over, most of thembeing in a very nebulous and non-committal frame of mind. Itcannot be claimed that any new light was shed upon the medium, orany new argument provided either for the sceptic or for thebeliever. Dr. Geley, however, who has probably gone as deeply asanyone else into psychic science, claims that "lesexperiences"—he does not say the report—constitute avaluable contribution to the subject.* He bases this upon thefact that the results chronicled do often strikingly confirmthose obtained in his own Institut Métapsychique working withKluski, Guzik, and other mediums. The differences, he says, arein details and never in essentials. The control of the hands wasthe same in either case, both the hands being always held. Thiswas easier in the case of the later mediums, especially withKluski in trance, while Eusapia was usually a very restlessindividual. There seems to be a halfway condition which wascharacteristic of Eusapia, and which has been observed by theauthor in the case of Frau Silbert, Evan Powell, and othermediums, where the person seems normal, and yet is peculiarlysusceptible to suggestion or other mental impressions. Asuspicion of fraud may very easily be aroused in this condition,for the general desire on the part of the audience that somethingshould occur reacts with great force upon the unreasoning mind ofthe medium. An amateur who had some psychic power has assured theauthor that it needs considerable inhibition to keep suchimpulses in check and to await the real power from outside. Inthis report we read: "The two hands, feet, and knees of Eusapiabeing controlled, the table is raised suddenly, all four feetleaving the ground. Eusapia closes her fists and holds themtowards the table, which is then completely raised from the floorfive times in succession, five raps being also given. It is againcompletely raised whilst each of Eusapia's hands is on the headof a sitter. It is raised to a height of one foot from the floorand suspended in the air for seven seconds, while Eusapia kepther hand on the table, and a lighted candle was placed under thetable," and so on, with even more conclusive tests with table andother phenomena.

* L'Ectoplasmie et la Clairvoyance,1924, p. 402.

The timidity of the report was satirized by the great FrenchSpiritualist, Gabriel Delanne. He says:

The reporter keeps saying "it seems" and "itappears," like a man who is not sure of what he is relating.Those who held forty-three séances, with good eyes and apparatusfor verification, ought to have a settled opinion —or, atleast, to be able to say, if they regard a certain phenomenon asfraudulent, that at a given séance they had seen the medium inthe act of tricking. But there is nothing of the sort. The readeris left in uncertainty —a vague suspicion hovers overeverything, though not supported on any serious grounds.

Commenting on this, Light says: *

* 1909, p. 356.

Delanne shows by extracts from the Report itselfthat some of the experiments succeeded even when the fullest testprecautions were taken, such as using lamp-black to discoverwhether Eusapia really touched the objects moved. Yet the Reportdeliberately discounts these direct and positive observations byinstancing cases occurring at other times and places inwhich Eusapia was said or believed to have undulyinfluenced the phenomena.

The Courier Report will prove more and moreplainly to be what we have already called it, a "monument ofineptitude," and the reality of Eusapia's phenomena cannot beseriously called in question by the meaningless phrases withwhich it is liberally garnished.

What may be called a collective investigation of a medium,Mrs. Crandon, the wife of a doctor in Boston, was undertaken inthe years 1923 to 1925 by a committee chosen by The ScientificAmerican and afterwards by a small committee of Harvard menwith Dr. Shapley, the astronomer, at their head. The controversyover these inquiries is still raging, and the matter has beenreferred to in the chapter which deals with great modern mediums.It may briefly be stated that of The Scientific Americaninquirers the secretary, Mr. Malcolm Bird, and Dr. HerewardCarrington announced their complete conversion.

The others gave no clear decision which involved thehumiliating admission that after numerous sittings under theirown conditions and in the presence of constant phenomena, theycould not tell whether they were being cheated or not. The defectof the committee was that no experienced Spiritualist who wasfamiliar with psychic conditions was upon it. Dr. Prince was verydeaf, while Dr. McDougall was in a position where his wholeacademic career would obviously be endangered by the acceptanceof an unpopular explanation. The same remark applies to Dr.Shapley's committee, which was all composed of buddingscientists. Without imputing conscious mental dishonesty, thereis a subconscious drag to wards the course of safety. Reading thereport of these gentlemen with their signed acquiescence at eachsitting with the result, and their final verdict of fraud, onecannot discover any normal way in which they have reached theirconclusions. On the other hand, the endorsem*nts of themediumship by folk who had no personal reasons for extremecaution were frequent and enthusiastic. Dr. Mark Richardson ofBoston reported that he had sat more than 300 times, and had nodoubt at all about the results.

The author has seen numerous photographs of the ectoplasmicflow from "Margery," and has no hesitation, on comparing it withsimilar photographs taken in Europe, in saying that it isunquestionably genuine, and that the future will justify themedium as against her unreasonable critics.


APPENDIX

NOTES TO CHAPTER IV

EVIDENCE OF THE HAUNTING OF THE HYDESVILLE
HOUSE BEFORETHE FOX FAMILY OCCUPIED IT

Mrs. Ann Pulver certifies:

I was acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Bell (who occupied thehouse in 1844). I used to call on them frequently. My warpingbars were in their chamber, and I used to go there to do my work.One morning when I went there Mrs. Bell told me that she feltvery bad; that she had not slept much, if any, the night before.When I asked her what the matter was, she said she didn't knowbut what it was the fidgets; but she thought she heard somebodywalking about from one room to another, and that she had Mr. Bellget up and fasten down all the windows. She said she felt moresafe after that. I asked her what she thought it was. She said itmight be rats. I heard her speak about hearing noises after that,which she could not account for.

Miss Lucretia Pulver gave testimony:

I lived in this house all one winter, in the family of Mr.Bell. I worked for them part of the time, and part of the time Iboarded and went to school. I lived there about three months.During the latter part of the time that I was there I heard thisknocking frequently in the bedroom, under the foot of the bed. Iheard it a number of nights, as I slept in the bedroom all thetime that I staid there. One night I thought I heard a manwalking in the buttery. This buttery is near the bedroom, with astairway between. Miss Aurelia Losey staid with me on that night;she also heard the noise, and we were both much frightened, andgot up and fastened down the windows and fastened the door. Itsounded as if a person walked through the buttery, down cellar,and part way across the cellar-bottom, and there the noise wouldcease. There was no one else in the house at this time, except mylittle brother, who was asleep in the same room with us. This wasabout twelve o'clock, I should think. We did not go to bed untilafter eleven, and had not been asleep when we heard the noise.Mr. and Mrs. Bell had gone to Loch Berlin, to be gone until thenext day.

Thus it is proved that strange sounds were heard in the housein 1844. Another family named Weekman lived there in 1846-7, andthey had a similar experience.


STATEMENT OF MRS. HANNAH WEEKMAN

I have heard about the mysterious noises that have been heardin the house now occupied by Mr. Fox. We used to live in the samehouse; we lived there about a year and a half and moved fromthere to the house we now occupy. About a year ago, while we wereliving there, we heard someone, as we supposed, rapping on theoutside door. I had just got into bed, but my husband had not. Hewent and opened it, and said that there was no one there. He cameback, and was about getting into bed when we heard the rapping onthe door again. He then went to the door and opened it, and saidthat he could see no one, although he stepped out a little way.He then came back and got into bed. He was quite angry; hethought 'twas some of the neighbouring boys trying to disturb us,and said that "They might knock away, but they would not foolhim," or something of that kind. The knocking was heard again,and after a while he got up and went to the door and went out. Itold him not to go outdoors, for perhaps somebody wanted to gethim out and hurt him. He came back, and said he could seenothing. We heard a good deal of noise during the night; we couldhardly tell where it was: it sounded sometimes as if someone waswalking in the cellar. But the house was old, and we thought itmight be the rattling of loose boards, or something of thatkind.

A few nights afterwards, one of our little girls, who slept inthe bedroom where the noises are now heard, woke us all up byscreaming very loud. My husband and I, and our hired girl, got upimmediately to see what was the matter. She sat up in bed, cryingand screaming, and it was some time before we could find out whatthe matter was. She said that something had been moving about,over her head and face—that it was cold, and she did notknow what it was. She said that she felt it all over her, but shewas most alarmed at feeling it on her face. She was very muchfrightened. This was between twelve and one o'clock at night. Shegot up and got into bed with us, and it was a long time beforeshe could go to sleep. It was several days before we could gether to sleep in that room again. She was eight years old at thattime.

Nothing else happened to me during the time that we livedthere; but my husband told me that one night he heard someonecall him by name, somewhere in the house—he did not knowwhere—but could never find out where or what it was thatnight. I was not at home that night. I was sitting up with a sickperson. We did not think the house was haunted at that time.

Hannah Weekman April 11, 1848.


STATEMENT OF MICHAEL WEEKMAN

I am the husband of Hannah Weekman. We used to live in thehouse now occupied by Mr. Fox, in which they say strange noisesare heard. We lived there about a year and a half. One evening,about bedtime, I heard the rapping. I supposed it was someoneknocking at the door who wanted to come in. I did not bid him"Come in," as I usually do, but went to the door. I did not findanyone there, but went back, and just as I was getting into bed Iheard the rapping again and opened the door quick, but could seeno one there. I stepped out a step or two, but could see no oneabout there. I then went back and got into bed. I thought someonewas making game of me. After a few minutes I heard the knockingagain, and after waiting a few minutes and still hearing it, Igot up and went to the door. This time I went clear out andlooked around the house, but could find no one. I then steppedback and shut the door, and held on to the latch, thinking thatif there was anyone there I would catch them at it. In a minuteor two I heard the rapping again. My hand was on the door, andthe knocking appeared to be on the door. I could feel it jar withthe raps. I instantly opened the door and sprang out, but therewas no one in sight. I then went round the house again, but couldfind no one, as before. My wife told me I had better not go outof doors, as it might be someone that wanted to hurt me. I didnot know what to think of it, it seemed so strange andunaccountable.

He here relates the case of the little girl being frightened,as given above.

One night after this, about midnight, I was awake, and heardmy name called. It sounded as if it was on the south side of theroom.

I sat up in bed and listened, but did not hear it again. I didnot get out of bed, but waited to see if it would be repeated. Mywife was not at home that night. I told her of it afterwards, andshe said she guessed I had been dreaming. My wife used to befrightened quite often by hearing strange noises in and about thehouse.

I have heard so much from men in whom I place confidence aboutthese noises that are now heard, that, taken in connexion withwhat I heard, I cannot account for it, unless it is asupernatural appearance. I am willing to make affidavit to theabove facts if necessary.

(Signed) Michael Weekman. April 11, 1848.


EXTRACT FROM HORACE, GREELEY'S ARTICLE
IN THE NEW YORKTRIBUNE GIVING HIS OPINION
OF THE FOX SISTERS AND THEIRMEDIUMSHIP*

* Capron, Modern Spiritualism, pp.179-181.

THE MYSTERIOUS RAPPINGS

Mrs. Fox and her three daughters left our city yesterday ontheir return to Rochester, after a stay here of some weeks,during which they have subjected the mysterious influence, bywhich they seem to be accompanied, to every reasonable test, andto the keen and critical scrutiny of hundreds who have chosen tovisit them, or whom they have been invited to visit. The roomswhich they occupied at the hotel have been repeatedly searchedand scrutinized; they have been taken without an hour's noticeinto houses they had never before entered; they have been allunconsciously placed on a glass surface concealed under thecarpet in order to interrupt electrical vibrations; they havebeen disrobed by a committee of ladies appointed without notice,and insisting that neither of them should leave the room untilthe investigation has been made, etc., etc., yet we believe noone, to this moment, pretends that he has detected either of themin producing or causing the "rappings," nor do we think any oftheir contemners has invented a plausible theory to account forthe production of these sounds, nor the singular intelligencewhich (certainly at times) has seemed to be manifest throughthem.

Some ten or twelve days since they gave up their rooms at thehotel and devoted the remainder of their sojourn here to visitingseveral families, to which they had been invited by personsinterested in the subject, and subjecting the singular influenceto a closer, calmer examination than could be given to it at ahotel, and before casual companies of strangers, drawn togetherby vague curiosity more than rational interest, or predeterminedand invincible hostility. Our own dwelling was among those theythus visited; not only submitting to, but courting, the fullestand keenest inquiry with regard to the alleged "manifestations"from the spirit-world, by which they were attended.

We devoted what time we could spare from our duties out ofthree days to this subject, and it would be the basest cowardicenot to say that we are convinced beyond a doubt of their perfectintegrity and good faith in the premises. Whatever may be theorigin or cause of the "rappings," the ladies in whose presencethey occur do not make them. We tested this thoroughly and to ourentire satisfaction. Their conduct and bearing is as unlike thatof deceivers as possible, and we think no one acquainted withthem could believe them at all capable of engaging in so daring,impious, and shameful a juggle as this would be if they causedthe sounds. And it is not possible that such a juggle should havebeen so long perpetrated in public. A juggler performs one featquickly and hurries on to another; he does not devote weeks afterweeks to the same thing over and over, deliberately, in full viewof hundreds who sit beside or confronting him in broad daylight,not to enjoy but to detect his trick. A deceiver naturally avoidsconversation on the subject of his knavery, but these ladiesconverse freely and fully with regard to the origin of these"rappings" in their dwellings years ago, the various sensationsthey caused, the neighbourhood excitement created, the progressof the developments—what they have seen, heard andexperienced from first to last. If all were false, they could notfail to have involved themselves ere this in a labyrinth ofblasting contradictions, as each separately gives accounts of themost astonishing developments at this or that time. Personsfoolish enough so to commit themselves without reserve or cautioncould not have deferred a thorough self-exposure for a singleweek.

Of course, a variety of opinions of so strange a matter wouldnaturally be formed by the various persons who have visited them,and we presume that those who have merely run into their room foran hour or so, and listened, among a huddle of strangers, to amedley of questions—not all admitting of very profitableanswers—put to certain invisible intelligences, andanswered by "rappings," or singular noises on the floor, table,etc., as the alphabet was called over, or otherwise, wouldnaturally go away, perhaps puzzled, probably disgusted, rarelyconvinced. It is hardly possible that a matter, ostensibly sograve, could be presented under circ*mstances less favourable toconviction. But of those who have enjoyed proper opportunitiesfor a full investigation, we believe that fully three-fourths areconvinced, as we are, that these singular sounds and seemingmanifestations are not produced by Mrs. Fox and her daughters,nor by any human being connected with them.

How they are caused, and whence they proceed, are questionswhich open a much wider field of inquiry, with whose way-marks wedo not profess to be familiar. He must be well acquainted withthe arcana of the universe, who shall presume dogmatically todecide that these manifestations are natural or supernatural. Theladies say that they are informed that this is but the beginningof a new era, or economy, in which spirits clothed in the fleshare to be more closely palpably connected with those who have puton immortality; that manifestations have already appeared in manyother families and destined to be diffused and rendered clearer,until all who will may communicate freely with their friends whohave "shuffled off this mortal coil." Of all this we knownothing, and shall guess nothing. But if we were simply to print(which we shall not) the questions asked and answers we received,during a two-hours' uninterrupted conference with the "rappers,"we should at once be accused of having done so expressly tosustain the theory which regards these manifestations as theutterances of departed spirits. H.G.


NOTE TO CHAPTER VI

PEN-PICTURE OF LAKE HARRIS BY LAURENCE OLIPHANT

There was a remarkable alternation of vivacity anddeliberation about the movements of Mr. Masollam. His voiceseemed pitched in two different keys, the effect of which was,when he changed them, to make one seem a distant echo of theother—a species of ventriloquistic phenomenon which wascalculated to impart a sudden and not altogether pleasant shockto the nerves of the listeners. When he talked with what I mayterm his "near" voice, he was generally rapid and vivacious; whenhe exchanged it for his "far off" one, he was solemn andimpressive. His hair, which had once been raven black, was nowstreaked with grey, but it was still thick and fell in a massivewave over his ears, and nearly to his shoulders, giving himsomething of a leonine aspect. His brow was overhanging andbushy, and his eyes were like revolving lights in two darkcaverns, so fitfully did they seem to emit flashes and then loseall expression. Like his voice, they too had a near and a far-offexpression, which could be adjusted to the required focus like atelescope, growing smaller and smaller as though in an effort toproject the sight beyond the limits of natural vision. At suchtimes they would be so entirely devoid of all appreciation ofoutward objects as to produce almost the impression of blindness,when suddenly the focus would change, the pupils expand, and raysflash from them like lightning from a thundercloud, giving anunexpected and extraordinary brilliancy to a face which seemedpromptly to respond to the summons. The general cast ofcountenance, the upper part of which, were it not for the depthof the eye-sockets, would have been strikingly handsome, wasdecidedly Semitic; and in repose the general effect was almoststatuesque in its calm fixedness. The mouth was partiallyconcealed by a heavy moustache and long iron-grey beard; but thetransition from repose to animation revealed an extraordinaryflexibility in those muscles which had a moment before appearedso rigid, and the whole character of the countenance was alteredas suddenly as the expression of the eye. It would perhaps beprying too much into the secrets of Nature, or, at all events,into the secrets of Mr. Masollam's nature, to inquire whetherthis lightening and darkening of the countenance was voluntary ornot. In a lesser degree it is a common phenomenon with us all:the effect of one class of emotions is, vulgarly speaking, tomake a man look black, and of another to make him look bright.The peculiarity of Mr. Masollam was that he could look so muchblacker and brighter than most people, and made the change ofexpression with such extraordinary rapidity and intensity that itseemed a sort of facial legerdemain, and suggested the suspicionthat it might be an acquired faculty. There was, moreover,another change which he apparently had the power of working onhis countenance, which affects other people involuntarily, andwhich generally, especially in the case of the fair sex, does sovery much against their will. Mr. Masollam had the faculty oflooking very much older one hour than he did the next. "Therewere moments when a careful study of his wrinkles and of hisdull, faded-looking eyes would lead you to put him down at eightyif he was a day; and there were others when his flashing glance,expanding nostril, broad, smooth brow and mobile mouth would makea rejuvenating combination that would for a moment convince youthat you had been at least five-and-twenty years out in yourfirst estimate. These rapid contrasts were calculated to arrestthe attention of the most casual observer, and to produce asensation which was not altogether pleasant when first one madehis acquaintance. It was not exactly mistrust—for bothmanners were perfectly frank and natural—so much asperplexity. He seemed to be two opposite characters rolled intoone, and to be presenting undesigningly a curious moral andphysiological problem for solution, which had a disagreeable sortof attractiveness about it, for you almost immediately felt it tobe insoluble, and yet it would not let you rest. He might be thebest or the worst of men."


NOTES TO CHAPTER VII

ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY OF PROFESSOR AND MRS. DE MORGAN

Professor De Morgan says:

I gave an account of all this to a friend who was then alive,a man of ologies and ometers both, who was not at all disposed tothink it anything but a clever imposture. "But," said he, "whatyou tell me is very singular: I shall go myself to Mrs. Hayden; Ishall go alone and not give my name. I don't think I shall hearanything from anybody, but if I do I shall find out the trick.Depend upon it,

I shall find it out." He went accordingly, and came to me toreport progress. He told me that he had gone a step beyond me,for he had insisted on taking his alphabet behind a large foldingscreen and asking his questions by the alphabet and a pencil, aswell as receiving the answers. No persons except himself and Mrs.Hayden were in the room. The "spirit" who came to him was onewhose unfortunate death was fully detailed in the usual way. Myfriend told me that he was "awestruck," and had nearly forgottenall his precautions.

The things which I have narrated were the beginning of a longseries of experiences, many as remarkable as what I have given;many of a minor character, separately worth little, but jointlyof weight when considered in connexion with the more decisiveproofs of reality. Many of a confirmatory tendency as mere facts,but of a character not sustentive of the gravity and dignity ofthe spiritual world. The celebrated apparition of Giles Scrogginsis a serious personage compared to some which have fallen in myway, and a logical one, too. If these things be spirits, theyshow that pretenders, coxcombs and liars are to be found on theother side of the grave as well as on this; and what for no? asMeg Dods said.

The whole question may receive such persevering attention asshall worm out the real truth; or it may die away, obtaining onlycasual notice, until a new outburst of phenomena recalls itshistory of this clay. But this subsidence does not seem to begin.It is now twelve or thirteen years since the matter began to beeverywhere talked about, during which time there have been manyannouncements of the total extinction of the "spirit-mania." Butin several cases, as in Tom Moore's fable, the extinguishers havecaught fire. Were it the absurdity it is often said to be, itwould do much good by calling attention to the "manifestations"of another absurdity, the philosophy of possibilities andimpossibilities, the philosophy of the fourth court. Extremesmeet, but the "meeting" is often for the purpose of mutualexposure, like that of silly gentlemen in the day of pop-and-paragraph duels. This on the supposition that Spiritualism is alleither imposture or delusion; it cannot be more certainly one orthe other than is the philosophy opposed to it. I have noacquaintance either with P or Q. But I feel sure that the decidedconviction of all who can see both sides of the shield must be,that it is more likely that P has seen a ghost than that Q knowshe cannot have seen one. I know that Q says he knows it.

In this connexion the following from the Publishers' Circularon the appearance of Mrs. De Morgan's book shows a contemporaryestimate of Professor De Morgan's critical faculty:

Mere litterateurs and writers of fiction may bepardoned for a little tendency to the visionary and unreal, butthe fact that the well-known author of the standard works onFormal Logic, the Differential Calculus, and the Theory ofProbabilities, should figure with his lady in the characters ofbelievers in spirit-rapping and table-turning, will probably takemost people by surprise. There is perhaps no contributor to ourreviews who is more at home in demolishing a fallacy, or in good-humouredly disposing of an ignorant pretender in science than Mr.De Morgan. His clear, logical, witty and whimsical style isreadily traced by literary readers in many a striking article inour critical journals. He is probably the last man whom thesceptical in such mysteries would expect to find on the side ofMr. Home and Mrs. Newton Crosland. Yet we must record the factthat Mr. De Morgan declares himself " perfectly convinced that hehas both seen and heard, in a manner which should make unbeliefimpossible, things called spiritual which cannot be taken by arational being to be capable of explanation by imposture,coincidence, or mistake."

Let us add to the foregoing Mrs. De Morgan's testimony:

It is now ten years since I began attentively to observe thephenomena of "Spiritualism." My first experience occurred in thepresence of Mrs. Hayden from New York. I never heard a word whichcould shake my strong conviction of Mrs. Hayden's honesty;indeed, the result of our first interview, when my name was quiteunknown to her, was sufficient to prove that I was not on thatoccasion the victim of her imposture, or my own credulity.

After describing the visit to Mrs. Hayden, to whom none of thenames of those present was mentioned, she says:

We sat for at least a quarter of an hour and were beginning toapprehend a failure, when a very small throbbing or patting soundwas heard, apparently in the centre of the table. Great was ourpleasure when Mrs. Hayden, who had before seemed rather anxious,said, "They are coming." Who were coming? Neither she nor wecould tell. As the sounds gathered strength, which they seemed todo with our necessary conviction of their genuineness, whatevermight be their origin, Mrs. Hayden said, "There is a spirit whowishes to speak with someone here, but as I do not know the namesof the gentlemen and ladies, I must point to each in turn, and,when I come to the right one, beg that the spirit will rap." Thiswas agreed to by our invisible companion, who rapped in assent.Mrs. Hayden then pointed to each of the party in turn. To mysurprise, and even annoyance (for I did not wish this, and manyof my friends did), no sounds were heard until she indicatedmyself, the last in the circle. I was seated at her right hand;she had gone round from the left. I was then directed to point tothe letters of a large type alphabet, and I may add that, havingno wish to obtain the name of any dear friend or relation, Icertainly did not rest, as it has been surmised is often done, onany letter. However, to my astonishment, the not common name of adear relation who had left this world seventeen years before, andwhose surname was that of my father's, not my husband's, familywas spelt. Then this sentence, "I am happy, and with F. and G."(names at length). I then received a promise of futurecommunication with all three spirits; the two last had left theworld twenty and twelve years before. Other persons present thenreceived communications by rapping; of these some were assingularly truthful and satisfactory as that to myself, whileothers were false and even mischievous.

Mrs. De Morgan observes that after the séances with Mrs.Hayden she and her friends experimented in private, "and it wasfound that a number of persons, both in and out of my own family,possessed the faculty of mediumship in a greater or lessdegree."


NOTE TO CHAPTER X

WERE THE DAVENPORTS JUGGLERS OR SPIRITUALISTS?

As Mr. Houdini has seemed to question whether the Davenportsthemselves ever asserted that they were Spiritualists, it mayclear the matter up finally to quote the following from a letterwritten by them in 1868 to the Banner Of Light, theleading Spiritualist journal in the United States. Dealing withthe report that they were not Spiritualists, they wrote:

It is singular that any individual, sceptic or Spiritualist,could believe such statements after fourteen years of the mostbitter persecution and violent opposition, culminating in theriots of Liverpool, Huddersfield, and Leeds, where our lives wereplaced in imminent peril by the fury of brutal mobs, our propertydestroyed, and where we suffered a loss of seventy-five thousanddollars, and all because we would not renounce Spiritualism, anddeclare ourselves jugglers, when threatened by the mob, and urgedto do so. In conclusion, we have only to say that we denounce allsuch statements as base falsehoods.

THE END OF VOLUME I


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