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Title:      The History of Spiritualism Vol I (1926)
Author:     Arthur Conan Doyle
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      The History of Spiritualism Vol I (1926)
Author:     Arthur Conan Doyle



THE HISTORY OF SPIRITUALISM

BY

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, M.D., LL.D.



PRESIDENT D'HONNEUR DE LA FEDERATION SPIRITE INTERNATIONALE
PRESIDENT OF THE LONDON SPIRITUALIST ALLIANCE
PRESIDENT OF THE BRITISH COLLEGE OF PSYCHIC SCIENCE




VOLUME ONE



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




PREFACE



This work has grown from small disconnected chapters into a narrative
which covers in a way the whole history of the Spiritualistic movement.
This genesis needs some little explanation. I had written certain
studies with no particular ulterior object save to gain myself, and to
pass on to others, a clear view of what seemed to me to be important
episodes in the modern spiritual development of the human race. These
included the chapters on Swedenborg, on Irving, on A. J. Davis, on the
Hydesville incident, on the history of the Fox sisters, on the Eddys and
on the life of D. D. Home. These were all done before it was suggested
to my mind that I had already gone some distance in doing a fuller
history of the Spiritualistic movement than had hitherto seen the
light-a history which would have the advantage of being written from the
inside and with intimate personal knowledge of those factors which are
characteristic of this modern development.

It is indeed curious that this movement, which many of us regard as the
most important in the history of the world since the Christ episode, has
never had a historian from those who were within it, and who had large
personal experience of its development. Mr. Frank Podmore brought
together a large number of the 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
mainly the result of fraud. There is a history of Spiritualism by Mr.
McCabe which turns everything to fraud, and which is itself a misnomer,
since the public would buy a book with such a title under the impression
that it was a serious record instead of a travesty. There is also a
history by J. Arthur Hill which is written from a strictly psychic
research point of view, and is far behind the real provable facts. Then
we have "Modern American Spiritualism: A Twenty Years' Record," and
"Nineteenth Century Miracles," by that great woman and splendid
propagandist, Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, but these deal only with
phases, though they are exceedingly valuable. Finally-and best of
all-there is "Man's Survival After Death," by the Rev. Charles L.
Tweedale; but this is rather a very fine connected exposition of the
truth of the cult than a deliberate consecutive history. There are
general histories of mysticism, like those of Ennemoser and Howitt, but
there is no clean-cut, comprehensive story of the successive
developments of this world-wide movement. Just before going to press a
book has appeared by Campbell-Holms which is a very useful compendium of
psychic facts, as its title, "The Facts of Psychic Science and
Philosophy," implies, but here again it cannot claim to be a connected
history.

It was clear that such a work needed a great deal of research-far more
than I in my crowded life could devote to it. It is true that my time
was in any case dedicated to it, but the literature is vast, and there
were many aspects of the movement which claimed my attention. Under
these circumstances I claimed and obtained the loyal assistance of Mr.
W. Leslie Curnow, whose knowledge of the subject and whose industry have
proved to be invaluable. He has dug assiduously into that vast quarry;
he has separated out the ore from the rubbish, and in every way he has
been of the greatest assistance. I had originally expected no more than
raw material, but he has occasionally given me the finished article, of
which I have gladly availed myself, altering it only to the extent of
getting my own personal point of view. I cannot admit too fully the
loyal assistance which he has given me, and if I have not conjoined his
name with my own upon the title-page it is for reasons which he
understands and in which he acquiesces.


ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.
THE PSYCHIC BOOKSHOP,
ABBEY HOUSE,
VICTORIA STREET, S.W.




CONTENTS



CHAPTER


I.    The Story of Swedenborg
II.   Edward Irving: The Shakers
III.  The Prophet of the New Revelation
IV.   The Hydesville Episode
V.    The Career of the Fox Sisters
VI.   First Developments in America
VII.  The Dawn in England
VIII. Continued Progress in England
IX.   The Career of D. D. Home
X.    The Davenport Brothers
XI.   The Researches of Sir William Crookes (1870-1874)
XII.  The Eddy Brothers and the Holmeses
XIII. Henry Slade and Dr. Monck
XIV.  Collective Investigations of Spiritualism
      Appendix
[Index and Bibliography at end of Volume Two]




ILLUSTRATIONS



(not included in this eBook)

Little Katie Fox Gets An Answer To Her Signals
Emanuel Swedenborg
Andrew Jackson Davis
Margaretta Fox-Kane: Kate Fox-Jencken: Leah Underhill
Sir William Crookes
D. D. Home
Professor Crookes's Test To Show That The Medium And The Spirit
   Were Separate Entities
Alfred Russel Wallace





CHAPTER I



THE STORY OF SWEDENBORG


It is impossible to give any date for the early appearances of external
intelligent power of a higher or lower type impinging upon the affairs
of men. Spiritualists are in the habit of taking March 31, 1848, as the
beginning of all psychic things, because their own movement dates from
that day. There has, however, been no time in the recorded history of
the world when we do not find traces of preternatural interference and a
tardy recognition of them from humanity. The only difference between
these episodes and the modern movement is that the former might be
described as a case of stray wanderers from some further sphere, while
the latter bears the sign of a purposeful and organized invasion. But as
an invasion might well be preceded by the appearance of pioneers who
search out the land, so the spirit influx of recent years was heralded
by a number of incidents which might well be traced to the Middle Ages
or beyond them. Some term must be fixed for a commencement of the
narrative, and perhaps no better one can be found than the story of the
great Swedish seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, who has some claim to be the
father of our new knowledge of supernal matters.

When the first rays of the rising sun of spiritual knowledge fell upon
the earth they illuminated the greatest and highest human mind before
they shed their light on lesser men. That mountain peak of mentality was
this great religious reformer and clairvoyant medium, as little
understood by his own followers as ever the Christ has been.

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

Swedenborg was a contradiction in some ways to our psychic
generalizations, for it has been the habit to say that great intellect
stands in the way of personal psychic experience. The clean slate is
certainly most apt for the writing of a message. Swedenborg's mind was
no clean slate, but was criss-crossed with every kind of exact learning
which mankind is capable of acquiring. Never was there such a
concentration of information. He was primarily a great mining engineer
and authority on metallurgy. He was a military engineer who helped to
turn the fortunes of one of the many campaigns of Charles XII of Sweden.
He was a great authority upon astronomy and physics, the author of
learned works upon the tides and the determination of latitude. He was a
zoologist and an anatomist. He was a financier and political economist
who anticipated the conclusions of Adam Smith. Finally, he was a
profound Biblical student who had sucked in theology with his mother's
milk, and lived in the stern Evangelical atmosphere of a Lutheran pastor
during the most impressionable years of his life. His psychic
development, which occurred when he was fifty-five, in no way interfered
with his mental activity, and several of his scientific pamphlets were
published after that date.

With such a mind it is natural enough that he should be struck by the
evidence for extra-mundane powers which comes in the way of every
thoughtful man, but what is not natural is that he should himself be the
medium for such powers. There is a sense in which his mentality was
actually detrimental and vitiated his results, and there was another in
which it was to the highest degree useful. To illustrate this one has to
consider the two categories into which his work may be divided.

The first is the theological. This seems to most people outside the
chosen flock a useless and perilous side of his work. On the one hand he
accepts the Bible as being in a very particular sense the work of God.
Upon the other he contends that its true meaning is entirely different
from its obvious meaning, and that it is he, and only he, who, by the
help of angels, is able to give the true meaning. Such a claim is
intolerable. The infallibility of the Pope would be a trifle compared
with the infallibility of Swedenborg if such a position were admitted.
The Pope is at least only infallible when giving his verdict on points
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's reason. When, in
order to get at the true sense of a God-given message, one has to
suppose that a horse signifies intellectual truth, an ass signifies
scientific truth, a flame signifies improvement, and so on and on
through countless symbols, we seem to be in a realm of make-believe
which can only be compared with the ciphers which some ingenious critics
have detected in the plays of Shakespeare. Not thus does God send His
truth into the world. If such a view were accepted the Swedenborgian
creed could only be the mother of a thousand heresies, and we should
find ourselves back again amid the hair-splittings and the syllogisms of
the mediaeval schoolmen. All great and true things are simple and
intelligible. Swedenborg's theology is neither simple nor intelligible,
and that is its condemnation.

When, however, we get behind his tiresome exegesis of the Scriptures,
where everything means something different from what it obviously means,
and when we get at some of the general results of his teaching, they are
not inharmonious with liberal modern thought or with the teaching which
has been received from the Other Side since spiritual communication
became open. Thus the general proposition that this world is a
laboratory of souls, a forcing-ground where the material refines out the
spiritual, is not to be disputed. He rejects the Trinity in its ordinary
sense, but rebuilds it in some extraordinary sense which would be
equally objectionable to a Unitarian. He admits that every system has
its divine purpose and that virtue is not confined to Christianity. He
agrees with the Spiritualist teaching in seeking the true meaning of
Christ's life in its power as an example, and he rejects atonement and
original sin. He sees the root of all evil in selfishness, yet he admits
that a healthy egoism, as Hegel called it, is essential. In sexual
matters his theories are liberal to the verge of laxity. A Church he
considered an absolute necessity, as if no individual could arrange his
own dealings with his Creator. Altogether, it is such a jumble of ideas,
poured forth at such length in so many great Latin volumes, and
expressed in so obscure a style, that every independent interpreter of
it would be liable to found a new religion of his own. Not in that
direction does the worth of Swedenborg lie.

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

Even as a lad young Swedenborg had visionary moments, but the extremely
practical and energetic manhood which followed submerged that more
delicate side of his nature. It came occasionally to the surface,
however, all through his life, and several instances have been put on
record which show that he possessed those powers which are usually
called "travelling clairvoyance," where the soul appears to leave the
body, to acquire information at a distance, and to return with news of
what is occurring elsewhere. It is a not uncommon attribute of mediums,
and can be matched by a thousand examples among Spiritualistic
sensitives, but it is rare in people of intellect, and rare also when
accompanied by an apparently normal state of the body while the
phenomenon is proceeding. Thus, in the oft-quoted example of Gothenburg,
where the seer observed and reported on a fire in Stockholm, 300 miles
away, with perfect accuracy, he was at a dinner-party with six teen
guests, who made valuable witnesses. The story was investigated by no
less a person than the philosopher Kant, who was a contemporary.

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

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

What can the world make of such a narrative? They may say that the man
was mad, but his life in the years which followed showed no sign of
mental weakness. Or they might say that he lied. But he was a man who
was famed for his punctilious veracity. His friend Cuno, a banker of
Amsterdam, said of him, "When he gazed upon me with his smiling blue
eyes it was as if truth itself was speaking from them." Was he then
self-deluded and honestly mistaken? We have to face the fact that in the
main the spiritual observations which he made have been confirmed and
extended since his time by innumerable psychic observers. The true
verdict is that he was the first and in many ways the greatest of the
whole line of mediums, that he was subject to the errors as well as to
the privileges which mediumship brings, that only by the study of
mediumship can his powers be really understood, and that in endeavouring
to separate him from Spiritualism his New Church has shown a complete
misapprehension of his gifts, and of their true place in the general
scheme of Nature. As a great pioneer of the Spiritual movement his
position is both intelligible and glorious. As an isolated figure with
incomprehensible powers, there is no place for him in any broad
comprehensive scheme of religious thought.

It is interesting to note that he considered his powers to be intimately
connected with a system of respiration. Air and ether being all around
us, it is as if some men could breathe more ether and less air and so
attain a more etheric state. This, no doubt, is a crude and clumsy way
of putting it, but some such idea 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
Indian system of Yoga depends upon the same idea. But anyone who has
seen an ordinary medium go into trance is aware of the peculiar hissing
intakes with which the process begins and the deep expirations with
which it ends. A fruitful field of study lies there for the Science of
the future. Here, as in other psychic matters, caution is needed. The
author has known several cases where 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 in handling.

Swedenborg sums up the matter by saying that when he communed with
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 normal during his visions,
though he naturally preferred to be secluded at such times. He seems to
have been privileged to examine the other world through several of its
spheres, and though his theological habit of mind may have tinctured his
descriptions, on the other hand the vast range of his material knowledge
gave him unusual powers of observation and comparison. Let us see what
were the main facts which he brought back from his numerous journeys,
and how far they coincide with those which have been obtained since his
day by psychic methods.

He found, then, that the other world, to which we all go after death,
consisted of a number of different spheres representing various shades
of luminosity and happiness, each of us going to that for which our
spiritual condition has fitted us. We are judged in automatic fashion,
like going to like by some spiritual law, and the result being
determined by the total result of our life, so that absolution or a
death-bed repentance can be of little avail. He found in these spheres
that the scenery and conditions of this world were closely reproduced,
and so also was the general framework of society. He found houses in
which families lived, temples in which they worshipped, halls in which
they assembled for social purposes, palaces in which rulers might dwell.

Death was made easy by the presence of celestial beings who helped the
new-comer into his fresh existence. Such new-comers had an immediate
period of complete rest. They regained consciousness in a few days of
our time.

There were both angels and devils, but they were not of another order to
ourselves. They were all human beings who had lived 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 by death, but
was still a man in all respects, though more perfect than when in the
body. He took with him not only his powers but also his acquired modes
of thought, his beliefs and his prejudices.

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

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

There was marriage in the form of spiritual union in the next world. 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 the spirit spheres.
He speaks of the architecture, the artisans' work, the flowers and
fruits, the scribes, the embroidery, the art, the music, the literature,
the science, the schools, the museums, the colleges, the libraries and
the sports. It may all shock conventional minds, though why harps,
crowns and thrones should be tolerated and other less material things
denied, it is hard to see.

Those who left this world old, decrepit, diseased, or deformed, renewed
their youth, and gradually assumed their full vigour. Married couples
continued together if their feelings towards each other were close and
sympathetic. If not, the marriage was dissolved. "Two real lovers are
not separated by the death of one, since the spirit of the deceased
dwells with the spirit of the survivor, and this even to the death of
the latter, when they again meet and are reunited, and love each other
more tenderly than before."

Such are some gleanings out of the immense store of information which
God sent to the world through Swedenborg. Again and again they have been
repeated by the mouths and the pens of our own Spiritualistic
illuminates. The world has so far disregarded it, and clung to outworn
and senseless conceptions. Gradually the new knowledge is making its
way, however, and when it has been entirely accepted the true greatness
of the mission of Swedenborg will be recognized, while his Biblical
exegesis will be forgotten.

The New Church, which was formed in order to sustain the teaching of the
Swedish master, has allowed itself to become a backwater instead of
keeping its rightful place as the original source of psychic knowledge.
When the Spiritualistic movement broke out in 184.8, and when men like
Andrew Jackson Davis supported it with philosophic writings and psychic
powers which can hardly be distinguished from those of Swedenborg, the
New Church would have been well advised to hail this development as
being on the lines indicated by their leader. Instead of doing so, they
have preferred, for some reason which is difficult to understand, to
exaggerate every point of difference and ignore every point of
resemblance, until the two bodies have drifted into a position of
hostility. In point of fact, every Spiritualist should honour
Swedenborg, and his bust should be in every Spiritualist temple, as
being the first and greatest of modern mediums. On the other hand, the
New Church should sink any small differences and join heartily in the
new movement, contributing their churches and organization to the common
cause.

It is difficult on examining Swedenborg's life to discover what are the
causes which make his present-day followers look askance at other
psychic bodies. What he did then is what they do now. Speaking of
Polhem's death the seer says: "He died on Monday and spoke with me on
Thursday. I was invited to the funeral. He saw 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 had buried him when he was alive. When the priest
pronounced that he would rise again at the Day of judgment he asked why
this was, when he had risen already. He wondered that such a belief
could obtain, 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 medium is so also.

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

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

Swedenborg has laid down his own view very clearly, but in considering
it one has to remember the time in which he lived and his want of
experience of the trend and object of the new revelation. This view was
that God, for good and wise purposes, had separated the world of spirits
from ours and that communication was not granted except for cogent
reasons-among which mere curiosity should not be counted. Every earnest
student of the psychic would agree with it, and every earnest
Spiritualist is averse from turning the most solemn thing upon earth
into a sort of pastime. As to having a cogent reason, our main reason is
that in such an age of materialism as Swedenborg can never have
imagined, we are endeavouring to prove the existence and supremacy of
spirit in so objective a way that it will meet and beat the materialists
on their own ground. It would be hard to imagine any reason more cogent
than this, and therefore we have every right to claim that if Swedenborg
were now living he would have been a leader in our modern psychic
movement.

Some of his followers, notably Dr. Garth Wilkinson, have put forward
another objection thus: "The danger of man in speaking with 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 is proved by
experience to be false. Man is not naturally bad. The average human
being is good. The mere act of spiritual communication in its solemnity
brings out the religious side. Therefore as a rule it is not the evil
but the good influence which is encountered, as the beautiful and moral
records of seances will show. The author can testify that in nearly
forty years of psychic work, during which he has attended innumerable
seances in many lands, he has never on any single occasion heard an
obscene word or any message which could offend the ears of the most
delicate female. Other veteran Spiritualists bring the same testimony.
Therefore, while it is undoubtedly true that evil spirits are attracted
to an evil circle, in actual practice it is a very rare thing for anyone
to be incommoded thereby. When such spirits come the proper procedure is
not to repulse them, but rather to reason gently with them and so
endeavour to make them realize their own condition and what they should
do for self-improvement. This has occurred many times within the
author's personal experience and with the happiest results.

Some little personal account of Swedenborg may fitly end this brief
review of his doctrines, which is primarily intended to indicate his
position in the general scheme. He must have been a most frugal,
practical, hard-working and energetic young man, and a most lovable old
one. Life seems to have mellowed him into a very gentle and venerable
creature. He was placid, serene, and ever ready for conversation which
did not take a psychic turn unless his companions so desired. The
material of such conversations was always remarkable, but he was
afflicted with a stammer which hindered his enunciation. In person he
was tall and spare, 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 the earth by the
psychic grossness of humanity, and that from time to time there was a
judgment and a clearing up, even as the thunderstorm clears the material
atmosphere. He saw that the world, even in his day, was drifting into a
dangerous position owing to the unreason of the Churches on the one side
and the reaction towards absolute want of religion which was caused by
it. Modern psychic authorities, notably Vale Owen, have spoken of this
ever-accumulating cloud, and there is a very general feeling that the
necessary cleansing process will not be long postponed.

A notice of Swedenborg from the Spiritualistic standpoint may be best
concluded by an extract from his own diary. He says: "All confirmations
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 was a very great seer, a great
pioneer of psychic knowledge, and his weakness lay in those very words
which he has written.

The general reader who desires to go further will find Swedenborg's most
characteristic teachings in his "Heaven and Hell," "The New Jerusalem,"
and "Arcana Coelestia." His life has been admirably done by Garth
Wilkinson, Trobridge, and Brayley Hodgetts, the present president of the
English Swedenborg Society. In spite of all his theological symbolism,
his name must live eternally as the first of all modern men who has
given a description of the process of death, and of the world beyond,
which is not founded upon the vague ecstatic and impossible visions of
the old Churches, but which actually corresponds with the descriptions
which we ourselves obtain from those who endeavour to convey back to us
some clear idea of their new existence.




CHAPTER II



EDWARD IRVING: THE SHAKERS



The story of Edward Irving and his experience of spiritual
manifestations in the years from 1830 to 1833 are of great interest to
the psychic student, and help to bridge the gap between Swedenborg on
one side and Andrew Jackson Davis on the other. The facts are as
follows:

Edward Irving was of that hard-working poorer-class Scottish stock which
has produced so many great men. Of the same stock and at the same time
and district came Thomas Carlyle. Irving was born in Annan in the year
1792. After a hard, studious youth, he developed into a very singular
man. In person he was a giant and a Hercules in strength, his splendid
physique being only marred by a bad outward cast of one eye-a defect
which, like Byron's lame foot, seemed in some sort to present an analogy
to the extremes in his character. His mind, which was virile, broad and
courageous, was warped by early training in the narrow school of the
Scottish Church, where the hard, crude views of the old Covenanters-an
impossible Protestantism which represented a reaction against an
impossible Catholicism-still poisoned the human soul. His mental
position was strangely contradictory, for while he had inherited this
cramped theology he had failed to inherit much which is the very
birthright of the poorer Scot. He was opposed to all that was liberal,
and even such obvious measures of justice as the Reform Bill of 1832
found in him a determined opponent.

This strange, eccentric, and formidable man had his proper environment
in the 17th century, when his prototypes were holding moorland meetings
in Gallo way and avoiding, or possibly even attacking with the arms of
the flesh, the dragoons of Claverhouse. But, live when he might, he was
bound to write his nacre in some fashion on the annals of his time. We
read of his strenuous youth in Scotland, of his rivalry with his friend
Carlyle in the affections of the clever and vivacious Jane Welsh, of his
enormous walks and feats of strength, of his short career as a rather
violent school-teacher at Kirkcaldy, of his marriage to the daughter of
a minister in that town, and finally of his becoming curate or assistant
to the great Dr. Chalmers, who was, at that time, the most famous
clergyman in Scotland, and whose administration of his parish in Glasgow
is one of the outstanding chapters in the history of the Scottish
Church. In this capacity he gained that man-to-man acquaintance with the
poorer classes which is the best and most practical of all preparations
for the work of life. Without it, indeed, no man is complete.

There was at that time a small Scottish church in Hatton Garden, off
Holborn, in London, which had lost its pastor and was in a poor
position, both spiritually and financially. The vacancy was offered to
Dr. Chalmers's assistant, and after some heart-searchings was accepted
by him. Here his sonorous eloquence and his thoroughgoing delivery of
the Gospel message began to attract attention, and suddenly the strange
Scottish giant became the fashion. The humble street was blocked by
carriages on a Sunday morning, and some of the most distinguished men
and women in London scrambled for a share of the very scanty
accommodation. There is evidence that this extreme popularity did not
last, and possibly the preacher's habit of expounding a text for an hour
and a half was too much for the English weakling, however acceptable
north of the Tweed. Finally a move was made to a larger church in Regent
Square which could hold two thousand people, and there were sufficient
stalwarts to fill this in decent fashion, though the preacher had ceased
to excite the interest of his earlier days. Apart from his oratory,
Irving seems to have been a conscientious and hardworking pastor,
striving assiduously for the temporal needs of the more humble of his
flock, and ever ready at all hours of the day or night to follow the
call of duty.

Soon, however, there came a rift between him and the authorities of his
Church. The matter in dispute made a very fine basis for a theological
quarrel of the type which has done more harm in the world than the
smallpox. The question was whether the Christ had in Him the possibility
of sin, or whether the Divine portion of His being was a complete and
absolute bar to physical temptations. The assessors contended that the
association of such ideas as sin and Christ was a blasphemy. The
obdurate clergyman, however, replied with some show of reason that
unless the Christ had the capacity for sin, and successfully resisted
it, His earthly lot was not the same as ours, and His virtues deserved
less admiration. The matter was argued out in London with immense
seriousness and at intolerable length, with the result that the
presbytery declared its unanimous disapproval of the pastor's views. As,
however, his congregation in turn expressed their unqualified approval,
he was able to disregard the censure of his official brethren.

But a greater stumbling-block lay ahead, and Irving's encounter with it
has made his name live as all names live which associate themselves with
real spiritual issues. It should first be understood that Irving was
deeply interested in Biblical prophecy, especially the vague and
terrible images of St. John, and the strangely methodical forecasts of
Daniel. He brooded much over the years and the days which were fixed as
the allotted time before the days of wrath should precede the Second
Coming of the Lord. There were others at that time-1830 and onwards-who
were deeply immersed in the same sombre speculations. Among these was a
wealthy banker named Drummond, who had a large country house at Albury,
near Guildford. At this house these Biblical students used to assemble
from time to time, discussing and comparing their views with such
thoroughness that it was not unusual for their sittings to extend over a
week, each day being fully taken up from breakfast to supper. This band
was called the "Albury Prophets." Excited by the political portents
which led up to the Reform Bill, they all considered that the
foundations of the deep had been loosened. It is hard to imagine what
their reaction would have been had they lived to witness the Great War.
As it was, they were convinced that the end of all things was at hand,
and they looked out eagerly for signs and portents, twisting the vague
and sinister words of the prophets into all manner of fantastic
interpretations.

Finally, above the monotonous horizon of human happenings there did
actually appear a strange manifestation. There had been a legend that
the spiritual gifts of earlier days would reassert themselves before the
end, and here apparently was the forgotten gift of tongues coming back
into the experience of mankind. It had begun in 1830 on the western side
of Scotland, where the names of the sensitives, Campbell and MacDonald,
spoke of that Celtic blood which has always been more alive to spiritual
influences than the heavier Teutonic strain. The Albury Prophets were
much exercised in their minds, and an emissary was sent from Mr.
Irving's church to investigate and report. He found that the matter was
very real. The people were of good repute, one of them, indeed, a woman
whose character could best be described as saintly. The strange tongues
in which they both talked broke out at intervals, and the manifestation
was accompanied by healing miracles and other signs of power. Clearly it
was no fraud or pretence, but a real influx of some strange force which
carried one back to apostolic times. The faithful waited eagerly for
further developments.

These were not long in coming, and they broke out in Irving's own
church. It was in July, 1831, that it was rumoured that certain members
of the congregation had been seized in this strange way in their own
homes, and discreet exhibitions were held in the vestry and other
secluded places. The pastor and his advisers were much puzzled as to
whether a more public demonstration should be tolerated. The matter
settled itself, however, after the fashion of affairs of the spirit, and
in October of the same year the prosaic Church of Scotland service was
suddenly interrupted by the strange outcry of the possessed. It came so
suddenly and with such vehemence, both at the morning and afternoon
service, that a panic set in in the church, and had it 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 who were conservative in their tastes.
Altogether the sensation was a considerable one, and the newspapers of
the day were filled with it, though their comments were far from
respectful or favourable.

The sounds came from both women and men, and consisted in the first
instance of unintelligible noises which were either mere gibberish, or
some entirely unknown language. "Sudden, doleful, and unintelligible
sounds," says one witness. "There was a force and fulness of sound,"
said another description, "of which the delicate female organs would
seem incapable." "It burst forth with an astounding and terrible crash,"
says a third. Many, however, were greatly impressed by these sounds, and
among them was Irving himself. "There is a power in the voice to thrill
the heart and overawe the spirit after a manner which I have never felt.
There is a march and majesty and sustained grandeur of which I have
never heard the like. It is likest to one of the simplest and most
ancient chants in the cathedral service in so much that I have been led
to think that these chants, which can be traced as high as Ambrose, are
recollections of the inspired utterances of the primitive Church."

Soon, moreover, intelligible English words were added to the strange
outbursts. These usually consisted of ejaculations and prayers, with no
obvious sign of any supernormal character save that they broke out at
unseasonable hours and independently of the will of the speaker. In some
cases, however, these powers developed until the gifted one was able,
while under the influence, to give long harangues, to lay down the law
in most dogmatic fashion over points of doctrine, and to issue reproofs
which occasionally were turned even in the direction of the
longsuffering pastor.

There may have been-in fact, there probably was-a true psychic origin to
these phenomena, but they had developed in a soil of narrow bigoted
theology, which was bound to bring them to ruin. Even Swedenborg's
religious system was too narrow to receive the full undistorted gifts of
the spirit, so one can imagine what they became when contracted within
the cramped limits of a Scottish church, where every truth must be shorn
or twisted until it corresponds with some fantastic text. The new good
wine will not go into the old narrow bottles. Had there been a fuller
revelation, then doubtless other messages would have been received in
other fashions which would have presented the matter in its just
proportions, and checked one spiritual gift by others. But there was no
development save towards chaos. Some of the teaching received could not
be reconciled with orthodoxy, and was therefore obviously of the devil.
Some of the sensitives condemned others as heretics. Voice was raised
against voice. Worst of all, some of the chief speakers became convinced
themselves that their own speeches were diabolical. Their chief reason
seems to have been that they did not accord with their own spiritual
convictions, which would seem to some of us rather an indication that
they were angelic. They entered also upon the slippery path of prophecy,
and were abashed when their own prophecies did not materialize.

Some of the statements which came through these sensitives, and which
shocked their religious sensibilities, might seem to deserve 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 going through the land, quenching the Spirit of
God, by the letter of the Word of God." Right or wrong, such an
utterance would seem to be independent of him who uttered it, and it is
in close accord with many of the spiritual teachings which we receive
to-day. So long as the letter is regarded as sacred, just so long can
anything, even pure materialism, be proved from that volume.

One of the chief mouthpieces of the spirit was a certain Robert
Baxter-not to be confused with the Baxter who some thirty years later
was associated with certain remarkable prophecies. This Robert Baxter
seems to have been a solid, earnest, prosaic citizen who viewed the
Scriptures much as a lawyer views a legal document, with an exact
valuation of every phrase-especially of such phrases as fitted into his
own hereditary scheme of religion. He was an honest man with a restless
conscience, which continually worried him over the smaller details,
while leaving him quite unperturbed as to the broad platform upon which
his beliefs were constructed. This man was powerfully affected by the
influx of spirit-to use his own phrase, "his mouth was opened in power."
According to him, January 14, 1832, was the beginning of those mystical
1,260 days which were to precede the Second Coming and the end of the
world. Such a prediction must have been particularly sympathetic to
Irving with his millennial dreams. But long before the days were
fulfilled Irving was in his grave, and Baxter had forsworn those voices
which had, in this instance at least, deceived him.

Baxter has written a pamphlet with the portentous title, "Narrative of
Facts, Characterising the Supernatural Manifestations, in Members of Mr.
Irving's Congregation, and other Individuals, in England and Scotland,
and formerly in the Writer Himself." Spiritual truth could no more come
through such a mind than white light could come through a prism, and yet
in this account he has to admit the occurrence of many things which seem
clearly preternatural, mixed up with much that is questionable, and some
things which are demonstrably false. The object of the pamphlet is
mainly to forswear his evil and invisible guides, so that he may return
to the safe if flattish bosom of the Scottish Church. It is noticeable,
however, that a second member of Irving's congregation wrote an
answering pamphlet with an even longer title, which showed that Baxter
was right so long as he was prompted by the spirit, and wrong in his
Satanic inferences. This pamphlet is interesting as containing letters
from various people who possessed the gift of tongues, showing that they
were earnest-minded folk who were incapable of any conscious deception.

What is an impartial psychic student who is familiar with more modern
phases to say to this development? Personally it seems to the author to
have been a true psychic influx, blanketed and smothered by a petty
sectarian theology of the letter-perfect description for which the
Pharisees were reproved. If he may venture his individual opinion, it is
that the perfect recipient of spiritual teaching is the earnest man who
has worked his way through all the orthodox creeds, and whose mind,
eager and receptive, is a blank surface ready to register a new
impression exactly as received. He becomes the true child and pupil of
other-world teaching, and all other types of Spiritualist appear to be
compromises.

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

This, however, is digression. In the voices of 1831 there are the signs
of real psychic power. It is a recognized spiritual law that all psychic
manifestations become distorted when seen through the medium of narrow
sectarian religion. It is also a law that pompous, inflated persons
attract mischievous entities and are the butts of the spirit world,
being made game of by the use of large names and by prophecies which
make the prophet ridiculous. Such were the guides who descended upon the
flock of Mr. Irving, and produced various effects, good or bad,
according to the instrument used.

The unity of the Church, which had been shaken by the previous censure
of the presbytery, dissolved under this new trial. There was a large
secession, and the building was claimed by the trustees. Irving and the
stalwarts who were loyal to him wandered forth in search of new
premises, and found them in the hall used by Robert Owen, the Socialist,
philanthropist, and free-thinker, who was destined twenty years later to
be one of the pioneer converts to Spiritualism. Here, in Gray's Inn
Road, Irving rallied the faithful. It cannot be denied that the Church,
as he organized it, with its angel, its elders, its deacons, its
tongues, and its prophecies, was the best reconstruction of a primitive
Christian Church that has ever been made. If Peter or Paul reincarnated
in London they would be bewildered, and possibly horrified, by St.
Paul's or by Westminster Cathedral, but they would certainly have been
in a perfectly familiar atmosphere in the gathering over which Irving
presided. A wise man recognizes that God may be approached from
innumerable angles. The minds of men and the spirit of the times vary in
their reaction to the great central cause, and one can only insist upon
a broad charity both in oneself and in others. It was in this that
Irving seems to have been wanting. It was always by the standard of that
which was a sect among sects that he would measure the universe. There
were times when he was vaguely conscious of this, and it may be that
those wrestlings with Apollyon, of which he complains, even as Bunyan
and the Puritans of old used to comes plain, had a strange explanation.
Apollyon was really the Spirit of Truth, and the inward struggle was not
between Faith and Sin, but was really between the darkness of inherited
dogma, and the light of inherent and instinctive reason, God-given, and
rising for ever in revolt against the absurdities of man.

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


* * * * *


Apart from this isolated incident of Irving's Church, there was one
other psychic manifestation of those days which led more directly to the
Hydesville revelation. This was the outbreak of spiritual phenomena
among the Shaker communities in the United States, which has received
less attention than it deserves.

These good people seem to have had affiliations on the one side with the
Quakers, and, on the other, with the refugees from the Cevennes, who
came to England to escape the persecution of Louis XIV. Even in England
their harmless lives did not screen them from the persecution of the
bigots, and they were forced to emigrate to America about the time of
the War of Independence.

There they founded settlements in various parts, living simple cleanly
lives upon communistic principles, with sobriety and chastity as their
watchword. It is not surprising that as the psychic cloud of other-world
power slowly settled upon the earth it should have found its first
response from such altruistic communities. 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
the time, for as their elders subsequently explained, they would
certainly have been all consigned to Bedlam had they told what had
actually occurred. Two books, however, "Holy Wisdom" and "The Sacred
Roll," which arose from their experiences, appeared afterwards.

The phenomena seem to have begun with the usual warning noises, and to
have been followed by the obsession from time to time of nearly all the
community. Everyone, man and woman, proved to be open to spirit
possession. The invaders only came, however, after asking permission,
and at such intervals as did not interfere with the work of the
community. The chief visitants were Red Indian spirits, who came
collectively as a tribe. "One or two elders might be in the room below,
and there would be a knock at the door and the Indians would ask whether
they might come in. Permission being given, a whole tribe of Indian
spirits would troop into the house, and in a few minutes you would hear
'Whoop!' here and 'Whoop!' there all over the house." The whoops
emanated,-of course, from the vocal organs of the Shakers themselves,
but while under the Indian control they would talk Indian among
themselves, dance Indian dances, and in all ways show that they were
really possessed by the Redskin spirits.

One may well ask why should these North American aborigines play so
large a part not only in the inception, but in the continuance of this
movement? There are few physical mediums in this country, as well as in
America, who have not a Red Indian guide, whose photograph has not
infrequently been obtained by psychic means, still retaining his
scalp-locks and his robes. It is one of the many mysteries which we have
still to solve. We can only say for certain, from our own experience,
that such spirits are powerful in producing physical phenomena, but that
they never present the higher teaching which comes to us either from
European or from Oriental spirits. The physical phenomena are still,
however, of very great importance, as calling the attention of sceptics
to the matter, and therefore the part assigned to the Indians is a very
vital one. Men of the rude open-air type seem in spirit life to be
especially associated with the crude manifestations of spirit activity,
and it has been repeatedly asserted, though it is hard to say how it
could be proved, that their chief organizer was an adventurer who in
life was known as Henry Morgan, and died as Governor of Jamaica, a post
to which he had been appointed in the time of Charles II. Such unproved
assertions are, it must be admitted, of no value in our present state of
knowledge, but they should be put on record as 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 of experience who have not seen his heavily-bearded
face and heard his masterful voice. As to the Indians who are his
colleagues or his subordinates, one can but hazard the conjecture that
they are children of Nature who are nearer perhaps to the primitive
secrets than other more complex races. It may be that their special work
is of the nature of an expiation and atonement-an explanation which the
author has heard from their lips.

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

The Shakers had among them a man of outstanding intelligence named F. W.
Evans, who gave a very clear and entertaining account of all this
matter, which may be sought by the curious in the NEW YORK DAILY GRAPHIC
of November 24, 1874, and has been largely copied into Colonel Olcott's
work, "People From the Other World."

Mr. Evans and his associates after the first disturbance, physical and
mental, caused by this spirit irruption, settled down to study what it
really meant. They came to the conclusion that the matter could be
divided into three phases. The first phase was the actual proving to the
observer that the thing was real. The second phase was one of
instruction, as even the humblest spirit can bring information as to his
own experience of after-death conditions. The third phase was called the
missionary phase and was the practical application. The Shakers came to
the unexpected conclusion that the Indians were there not to teach but
to be taught. They proselytized them, therefore, exactly as they would
have done in life. A similar experience has occurred since then in very
many Spiritualistic circles, where humble and lowly spirits have come to
be taught that which they should have learned in this world had true
teachers been available. One may well ask why the higher spirits over
there do not supply this want? The answer given to the author upon one
notable occasion was, "These people are very much nearer to you than to
us. You can reach theta where we fail."

It is clear from this that the good Shakers were never in touch with the
higher guides-possibly they did not need guidance-and that their
visitors were on a low plane. For seven years these visitations
continued. When the spirits left they informed their hosts that they
were going, but that presently they would return, and that when they did
so they would pervade the world and enter the palace as well as the
cottage. It was just four years later that the Rochester knockings broke
out. When they did so, Elder Evans and another Shaker visited Rochester
and saw the Fox sisters. Their arrival was greeted with great enthusiasm
from the unseen forces, who proclaimed that this was 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 of monks and nuns in the
Middle Ages?" he did not answer. "Ours were angelic but these others
were diabolical," as would have been said had the situation been
reversed, but he replied with fine candour and breadth of mind,
"Certainly. That is the proper explanation of them through all the ages.
The visions of Saint Theresa were Spiritualistic visions just such as we
have frequently had vouchsafed to the members of our society." When
further asked whether magic and necromancy did not belong to the same
category, he answered, "Yes. That is when Spiritualism is used for
selfish ends." It is clear that there were men living nearly a century
ago who were capable of instructing our wise men of to-day.

That very remarkable woman, Mrs. Hardinge Britten, has recorded in her
"Modern American Spiritualism" how she came in close contact with the
Shaker community, and was shown by them the records, taken at the time,
of their spiritual visitation. In them it was stated that the new era
was to be inaugurated by an extraordinary discovery of material as well
as of spiritual wealth. This is a most remarkable prophecy, as it is a
matter of history that the goldfields of California were discovered
within a very short time of the psychic outburst. A Swedenborg with his
doctrine of correspondences might perhaps contend that the one was
complementary to the other.

This episode of the Shaker manifestations is a very distinct link
between the Swedenborg pioneer work and the period of Davis and the Fox
sisters. We shall now consider the career of the former, which is
intimately associated with the rise and progress of the modern psychic
movement.




CHAPTER III



THE PROPHET OF THE NEW REVELATION


ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS was one of the most remarkable men of whom we have
any exact record. Born in 1826 on the banks of the Hudson, his mother
was an uneducated woman, with a visionary turn which was allied to
vulgar superstition, while his father was a drunken worker in leather.
He has written the details of his own childhood in a curious book, "The
Magic Staff," which brings home to us the primitive and yet forceful
life of the American provinces in the first half of last century. The
people were rude and uneducated, but their spiritual side was very much
alive, and they seem to have been reaching out continually for some new
thing. It was in these country districts of New York in the space of a
few years that both Mormonism and modern Spiritualism were evolved.

There never could have been a lad with fewer natural advantages than
Davis. He was feeble in body and starved in mind. Outside an occasional
school primer he could only recall one book that he had ever read up to
his sixteenth year. Yet in that poor entity there lurked such spiritual
forces that before he was twenty he had written one of the most profound
and original books of philosophy ever produced. Could there be a clearer
proof that nothing came from himself, and that he was but a conduit pipe
through which flowed the knowledge of that vast reservoir which finds
such inexplicable outlets? The valour of a Joan of Arc, the sanctity of
a Theresa, the wisdom of a Jackson Davis, the supernormal powers of a
Daniel Home, all come from the same source.

In his later boyhood, Davis's latent psychic powers began to develop.
Like Joan, he heard voices in the fields-gentle voices which gave him
good advice and comfort. Clairvoyance followed this clairaudience. At
the time of his mother's death, he had a striking vision of a lovely
home in a land of brightness which he conjectured to be the place to
which his mother had gone. His full capacity was tapped, however, by the
chance that a travelling showman who exhibited the wonders of mesmerism
came to the village and experimented upon Davis, as well as on many
other young rustics who desired to experience the sensation. It was soon
found that Davis had very remarkable clairvoyant powers.

These were developed not by the peripatetic mesmerist, but by a local
tailor named Levingston, who seems to have been a pioneer thinker. He
was so intrigued by the wonderful gifts of his subject, that he
abandoned his prosperous business and devoted his whole time to working
with Davis and to using his clairvoyant powers for the diagnosis of
disease. Davis had developed the power, common among psychics, of seeing
without the eyes, including things which could not be seen in any case
by human vision. At first, the gift was used as a sort of amusement in
reading the letters or the watches of the assembled rustics when his
eyes were bandaged. In such cases all parts of the body can assume the
function of sight, and the reason probably is that the etheric or
spiritual body, which possesses the same organs as the physical, is
wholly or partially disengaged, and that it registers the impression.
Since it might assume any posture, or might turn completely round, one
would naturally get vision from any angle, and an explanation is
furnished of such cases as the author met in the north of England, where
Tom Tyrrell, the famous medium, used to walk round a room, admiring the
pictures, with the back of his head turned towards the walls on which
they were hung. Whether in such cases the etheric eyes see the picture,
or whether they see the etheric duplicate of the picture, is one of the
many problems which we leave to our descendants.

Levingston used Davis at first for medical diagnosis. He described how
the human body became transparent to his spirit eyes, which seemed to
act from the centre of his forehead. Each organ stood out clearly and
with a special radiance of its own which was dimmed in case of disease.
To the orthodox medical mind, with which the author has much sympathy,
such powers are suspect as opening a door for quackery, and yet he is
bound to admit that all that was said by Davis has been corroborated
within his own experience by Mr. Bloomfield, of Melbourne, who described
to him the amazement which he felt when this power came suddenly upon
him in the street, and revealed the anatomy of two persons who were
walking in front of him. So well attested are such powers that it has
been not unusual for medical men to engage clairvoyants as helpers in
diagnosis. Hippocrates says, "The affections suffered by the body the
soul sees with shut eyes." Apparently, then, the ancients knew something
of such methods. Davis's ministrations were not confined to those who
were in his presence, but hi; soul or etheric body could be liberated by
the magnetic manipulation of his employer, and could be sent forth like
a carrier pigeon with the certainty that it would come home again
bearing any desired information. Apart from the humanitarian mission on
which it was usually engaged it would sometimes roam at will, and he has
described in wonderful passages how he would see a translucent earth
beneath him, with the great veins of mineral beds shining through like
masses of molten metal, each with its own fiery radiance.

It is notable that at this earlier phase of Davis's psychic experience
he had no memory when he returned from trance of what his impressions
had been. They were registered, however, upon his subconscious mind, and
at a later date he recalled them all clearly. For the time he was a
source of instruction to others but remained ignorant himself.

Until then his development had been on lines which are not uncommon, and
which could be matched within the experience of every psychic student.
But then there occurred an episode which was entirely novel and which is
described in close detail in the autobiography. Put briefly, the facts
were these. On the evening of March 6, 1844, Davis was suddenly
possessed by some power which led him to fly from the little town of
Poughkeepsie, where he lived, and to hurry off, in a condition of
semi-trance, upon a rapid journey. When he regained his clear
perceptions he found himself among wild mountains, and there he claims
to have met two venerable men with whom he held intimate and elevating
communion, the one upon medicine and the other upon morals. All night he
was out, and when he inquired his whereabouts next morning he was told
that he was in the Catskill Mountains and forty miles from his home. The
whole narrative reads like a subjective experience, a dream or a vision,
and one would not hesitate to place it as such were it not for the
details of his reception and the meal he ate upon his return. It is a
possible alternative that the flight into the mountains was a reality
and the interviews a dream. He claims that he afterwards identified his
two mentors as Galen and Swedenborg, which is interesting as being the
first contact with the dead which he had ever recognized. The whole
episode seems visionary, and had no direct bearing upon the lad's
remarkable future.

He felt higher powers stirring within him, and it was remarked to him
that when he was asked profound questions in the mesmeric trance he
always replied, "I will answer that in my book." In his nineteenth year
he felt that the hour for writing the book had come. The mesmeric
influence of Levingston did not, for some reason, seem suited for this,
and a Dr. Lyon was chosen as the new mesmerist. Lyon threw up his
practice and went with his singular protege to New York, where they
presently called upon the Rev. William Fishbough to come and act as
amanuensis. The intuitional selection seems to have been justified, for
he also at once gave up his work and obeyed the summons. Then, the
apparatus being ready, Lyon threw the lad day after day into the
magnetic trance, and his utterances were taken down by the faithful
secretary. There was no money and no publicity in the matter, and even
the most sceptical critic cannot but admit that the occupation and
objects of these three men were a wonderful contrast to the money-making
material world which surrounded them. They were reaching out to the
beyond, and what can man do that is nobler?

It is to be understood that a pipe can carry no more than its own
diameter permits. The diameter of Davis was very different from that of
Swedenborg. Each got knowledge while in an illuminated state. But
Swedenborg was the most learned man in Europe, while Davis was as
ignorant a young man as could be found in the State of New York.
Swedenborg's revelation was perhaps the greater, though more likely to
be tinged by his own brain. The revelation of Davis was incomparably the
greater miracle.

Dr. George Bush, Professor of Hebrew in the University of New York, who
was one of those present while the trance orations were being taken
down, writes:

I can solemnly affirm that I have heard Davis correctly quote the Hebrew
language in his lectures, and display a knowledge of geology which would
have been astonishing in a person of his age, even if he had devoted
years to the study. He has discussed, with the most signal ability, the
profoundest questions of historical and biblical archeology, of
mythology, of the origin and affinity of language, and the progress of
civilization among the different nations of the globe, which would do
honour to any scholar of the age, even if in reaching them he had the
advantage of access to all the libraries in Christendom. Indeed, if he
had acquired all the information he gives forth in these lectures, not
in the two years since he left the shoemaker's bench, but in his whole
life, with the most assiduous study, no prodigy of intellect of which
the world has ever heard would be for a moment compared with him, yet
not a single 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 of his head is
unusually small," says he. "If size is the measure of power, then this
youth's mental capacity is unusually limited. His lungs are weak and
unexpanded. He had not dwelt amid refining influences-manners ungentle
and awkward. He has not read a book save one. He knows nothing of
grammar or the rules of language, nor associated with literary or
scientific persons." Such was the lad of nineteen from whom there now
poured a perfect cataract of words and ideas which are open to the
criticism not of simplicity, but of being too complex and too shrouded
in learned terms, although always with a consistent thread of reason and
method beneath them.

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

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

In this phase of his life Davis claims still to have been under the
direct influence of the person whom he afterwards identified as
Swedenborg-a name quite unfamiliar to him at the time. From time to time
he received a clairaudient summons to "go up into the mountain." This
mountain was a hill on the farther bank of the Hudson opposite
Poughkeepsie. There on the mountain he claims that he met and spoke with
a venerable figure. There seems to have been none of the details of a
materialization, and the incident has no analogy in our psychic
experience, save indeed-and one speaks with all reverence-when the
Christ also went up into a mountain and communed with the forms of Moses
and Elias. There the analogy seems complete.

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

For two years the unconscious Davis continued to dictate his book upon
the secrets of Nature, while the conscious Davis did a little
self-education in New York with occasional restorative visits to
Poughkeepsie. He had begun to attract the attention of some serious
people, Edgar Allan Poe being one of his visitors. His psychic
development went on, and before he reached his twenty-first year he had
attained a state when he needed no second person to throw him into
trance but could do it for himself. His subconscious memory too was at
last opened, and he was able to go over the whole long vista of his
experiences. It was at this time that he sat by a dying woman and
observed every detail of the soul's departure, a wonderful description
of which is given in the first volume of the "Great Harmonia." Although
this description has been issued as a separate pamphlet it is not as
well known as it should be, and a short epitome of it may interest the
reader.

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

It was this etheric body which Davis saw emerging from its poor outworn
envelope of protoplasm, which finally lay empty upon the bed like the
shrivelled chrysalis when the moth is free. The process began by an
extreme concentration in the brain, which became more and more luminous
as the extremities became darker. It is probable that man never thinks
so clearly, or is so intensely conscious, as he becomes after all means
of indicating his thoughts have left him. Then the new body begins to
emerge, the head disengaging itself first. Soon it has completely freed
itself, standing at right-angles to the corpse, with its feet near the
head, and with some luminous vital band between which corresponds to the
umbilical cord. When the cord snaps a small portion is drawn back into
the dead body, and it is this which preserves it from instant
putrefaction. As to the etheric body, it takes some little time to adapt
itself to its new surroundings, and in this instance it then passed out
through the open doors. "I saw her pass through the adjoining room, out
of the door and step from the house into the atmosphere…. Immediately
upon her emergement from the house she was joined by two friendly
spirits from the spiritual country, and after tenderly recognizing and
communing with each other the three, in the most graceful manner, began
ascending obliquely through the ethereal envelopment of our globe. They
walked so naturally and fraternally together that I could scarcely
realize the fact that they trod the air-they seemed to be walking on the
side of a glorious but familiar mountain. I continued to gaze upon them
until the distance shut them from my view."

Such is the vision of Death as seen by A. J. Davis-a very different one
from that dark horror which has so long obsessed the human imagination.
If this be the truth, then we can sympathize with Dr. Hodgson in his
exclamation, "I can hardly bear to wait." But is it true? We can only
say that there is a great deal of corroborative evidence.

Many who have been in the cataleptic condition, or who have been so ill
that they have sunk into deep coma, have brought back impressions very
consistent with Davis's explanation, though others have returned with
their minds completely blank. The author, when at Cincinnati in 1923,
was brought into contact with a Mrs. Monk, who had been set down as dead
by her doctors, and for an hour or so had experienced a post-mortem
existence before some freak of fate restored her to life. She wrote a
short account of her experience, in which she had a vivid remembrance of
walking out of the room, just as Davis described, and also of the silver
thread which continued to unite her living soul to her comatose body. A
remarkable case was reported in LIGHT, also (March 25, 1922), in which
the five daughters of a dying woman, all of them clairvoyant, watched
and reported the process of their mother's death. There again the
description of the process was very analogous to that given, and yet
there is sufficient difference in this and other accounts to suggest
that the sequence of events is not always regulated by the same laws.
Another variation of extreme interest is to be found in a drawing done
by a child medium which depicts the soul leaving the body and is
described in Mrs. De Morgan's "From Matter to Spirit" (p. 121). This
book, with its weighty preface by the celebrated mathematician Professor
De Morgan, is one of the pioneer works of the spiritual movement in
Great Britain. When one reflects that it was published in 1863 one's
heart grows heavy at the success of those forces of obstruction,
reflected so strongly in the Press, which have succeeded for so many
years in standing between God's message and the human race.

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

"Question: Will utilitarianism make any discoveries in other locomotive
directions?"

"Yes; look out about these days for carriages and travelling saloons on
country roads-without horses, without steam, without any visible motive
power moving with greater speed and far more safety than at present.

Carriages will be moved by a strange and beautiful and simple admixture
of aqueous and atmospheric gases-so easily condensed, so simply ignited,
and so imparted by a machine somewhat resembling our engines, as to be
entirely concealed and manageable between the forward wheels. These
vehicles will prevent many embarrassments now experienced by persons
living in thinly populated 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. These carriages
seem to me of uncomplicated construction."

He was next asked:

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

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

So, too, this seer, in reply to a query regarding what was then termed
"atmospheric navigation," felt "deeply impressed" that "the necessary
mechanism-to transcend the adverse currents of air, so that we may sail
as easily and safely and pleasantly as birds-is dependent on a new
motive power. This power will come. It will not only move the locomotive
on the rail, and the carriage on the country road, but the aerial cars
also, which will move through the sky from country to country."

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

It is a truth that spirits commune with one another while one is in the
body and the other in the higher spheres-and this, too, when the person
in the body is unconscious of the influx, and hence cannot be convinced
of the fact; and this truth will ere long present itself in the form of
a living demonstration. And the world will hail with delight the
ushering-in of that era when the interiors of men will be opened, and
the spiritual communion will be established such as is now being enjoyed
by the inhabitants of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

In this matter Davis's teaching was definite, but it must be admitted
that in a good deal of his work he is indefinite and that it is hard
reading, for it is disfigured by the use of long words, and occasionally
he even invents a vocabulary of his own. It was, however, on a very high
moral and intellectual level, and might be best described as an
up-to-date Christianity with Christ's ethics applied to modern problems
and entirely freed from all trace of dogma. "Documentary Religion," as
Davis called it, was not in his opinion religion at all. That name could
only be applied to the personal product of reason and spirituality. Such
was the general line of teaching, mixed up with many revelations of
Nature, which was laid down in the successive books of the "Harmonial
Philosophy" which succeeded "Nature's Divine Revelations," and occupied
the next few years of his life. Much of the teaching appeared in a
strange paper called "The Univercoelum," and much was spread by lectures
in which he laid before the public the results of his revelations.

In his spiritual vision Davis saw an arrangement of the universe which
corresponds closely with that which Swedenborg had already noted, and
with that afterwards taught by the spirits and accepted by the
Spiritualists. He saw a life which resembled that of earth, a life that
may be called semi-material, with pleasures and pursuits that would
appeal to our natures which had been by no means changed by death. He
saw study for the studious, congenial tasks for the energetic, art for
the artistic, beauty for the lover of Nature, rest for the weary ones.
He saw graduated phases of spiritual life, through which one slowly rose
to the sublime and the celestial. He carried his magnificent vision
onward beyond the present universe, and saw it dissolve once more into
the fire-mist from which it had consolidated, and then consolidate once
more to form the stage on which a higher evolution could take place, the
highest class here starting as the lowest class there. This process he
saw renew itself innumerable times, covering trillions of years, and
ever working towards refinement and purification. These spheres he
pictured as concentric rings round the world, but as he admits that
neither time nor space define themselves clearly in his visions, we need
not take their geography in too literal a sense. The object of life was
to qualify for advancement in this tremendous scheme, and the best
method of human advancement was to get away from sin-not only the sins
which are usually recognized, but also those sins of bigotry, narrowness
and hardness, which are very especially blemishes not of the ephemeral
flesh but of the permanent spirit. For this purpose the return to simple
life, simple beliefs, and primitive brotherhood was essential. Money,
alcohol, lust, violence and priestcraft-in its narrow sense-were the
chief impediments to racial progress.

It must be admitted that Davis, so far as one can follow his life, lived
up to his own professions. He was very humble-minded, and yet he was of
the stuff that saints are made of. His autobiography extends only to
1857, so that he was little over thirty when he published it, but it
gives a very complete and sometimes an involuntary insight into the man.
He was very poor, but he was just and charitable. He was very earnest,
and yet he was patient in argument and gentle under contradiction. The
worst motives were imputed to him, and he records them with a tolerant
smile. He gives a full account of his first two marriages, which were as
unusual as everything else about him, but which reflect nothing but
credit upon him. From the date at which "The Magic Staff" finishes he
seems to have carried on the same life of alternate writing and
lecturing, winning more and more the ear of the 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 small book-store in Boston. The fact that his
"Harmonial Philosophy" has now passed through some forty editions in the
United States is a proof that the seed which he scattered so assiduously
has not all fallen upon barren ground.

What is of importance to us is the part played by Davis at the
commencement of the spiritual revelation. He began to prepare the ground
before that revelation occurred. He was clearly destined to be closely
associated with it, for he was aware of the material demonstration at
Hydesville upon the very day when it occurred. From his notes there is
quoted the sentence, under the vital date of March 31, 1848: "About
daylight this morning a warm breathing passed over my face and I heard a
voice, tender and strong, saying, 'Brother, the good work has
begun-behold, a living demonstration is born.' I was left wondering what
could be meant by such a message." It was the beginning of the mighty
movement in which he was to act as prophet. His own powers were
themselves supernormal upon the mental side, just as the physical signs
were upon the material side. Each supplemented the other. He was, up to
the limit of his capacity, the soul of the movement, the one brain which
had a clear vision of the message which was heralded in so novel and
strange a way. No man can take the whole message, for it is infinite,
and rises ever higher as we come into contact with higher beings, but
Davis interpreted it so well for his day and generation that little can
be added even now to his conception.

He had advanced one step beyond Swedenborg, though he had not
Swedenborg's mental equipment with which to marshal his results.
Swedenborg had seen a heaven and hell, even as Davis saw it and has
described it with fuller detail. Swedenborg did not, however, get a
clear vision of the position of the dead and the true nature of the
spirit world with the possibility of return as it was revealed to the
American seer. This knowledge came slowly to Davis. His strange
interviews with what he described as "materialized spirits" were
exceptional things, and he drew no common conclusions from them. It was
later when he was brought into contact with actual spiritual phenomena
that he was able to see the full meaning of them. This contact was not
established at Rochester, but rather at Stratford in Connecticut, where
Davis was a witness of the Poltergeist phenomena which broke out in the
household of a clergyman, Dr. Phelps, in the early months of 1850. A
study of these led him to write a pamphlet, "The Philosophy of Spiritual
Intercourse," expanded afterwards to a book which contains much which
the world has not yet mastered. Some of it, in its wise restraint, may
also be commended to some Spiritualists. "Spiritualism is useful as a
living demonstration of a future existence," he says. "Spirits have
aided me many times, but they do not control either my person or my
reason. They can and do perform kindly offices for those on earth. But
benefits can only be secured on the condition that we allow them to
become our teachers and not our masters-that we accept them as
companions, not as gods to be worshipped." Wise words-and a modern
restatement of the vital remark of Saint Paul that the prophet must not
be subject to his own gifts.

In order to explain adequately the life of Davis one has to ascend to
supernormal conditions. But even then there are alternative
explanations. When one considers the following undeniable facts:

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

2. That SOMETHING possessed this ignorant youth, which gave him great
knowledge.

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

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

Considering these four points, then, is it not a feasible hypothesis
that the power which controlled Davis was actually Swedenborg? It would
be well if the estimable but very narrow and limited New Church took
such possibilities into account. But whether Davis stood alone, or
whether he was the reflection of one greater than himself, the fact
remains that he was a miracle man, the inspired, learned, uneducated
apostle of the new dispensation. 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 the one modern influence which could recast the world. Davis left his
mark deep upon Spiritualism. "Summerland," for example, as a name for
the modern Paradise, and the whole system of Lyceum schools with their
ingenious organization, are of his devising. As Mr. Baseden Butt has
remarked, "Even to-day the full and final extent of his influence is
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to assess."

* HUTCHINSON'S, 1924. OCCULT REVIEW, February, 1925.




CHAPTER IV



THE HYDESVILLE EPISODE


We have now traced various disconnected and irregular uprushes of
psychic force in the cases which have been set forth, and we come at
last to the particular episode which was really on a lower level than
those which had gone before, but which occurred within the ken of a
practical people who found means to explore it thoroughly and to
introduce reason and system into what had been a mere object of aimless
wonder. It is true that the circumstances were lowly, the actors humble,
the place remote, and the communication sordid, being based on no higher
motive than revenge. When, however, in the everyday affairs of this
world one wishes to test whether a telegraphic wire is in operation, one
notices whether a message comes through, and the high or low nature of
that message is quite a secondary consideration. It is said that the
first message which actually came through the Transatlantic cable was a
commonplace inquiry from the testing engineer. None the less, kings and
presidents have used it since. So it is that the humble spirit of the
murdered peddler of Hydesville may have opened a gap into which the
angels have thronged. There is good and bad and all that is intermediate
on the Other Side as on this side of the veil. The company you attract
depends upon yourself and your own motives.

Hydesville is a typical little hamlet of New York State, with a
primitive population which was, no doubt, half-educated, but was
probably, like the rest of those small American centres of life, more
detached from prejudice and more receptive of new ideas than any other
set of people at that time. This particular village, situated about
twenty miles from the rising town of Rochester, consisted of a cluster
of wooden houses of a very humble type. It was in one of these, a
residence which would certainly not pass the requirements of a British
district council surveyor, that there began this development which is
already, in the opinion of many, by far the most important thing that
America has given to the commonweal of the world. It was inhabited by a
decent farmer family of the name of Fox-a name which, by a curious
coincidence, has already been registered in religious history as that of
the apostle of the Quakers. Besides the father and mother, who were
Methodists in religion, there were two children resident in the house at
the time when the manifestations reached such a point of intensity that
they attracted general attention. These children were the
daughters-Margaret, aged fourteen, and Kate, aged eleven. There were
several other children out in the world, of whom only one, Leah, who was
teaching music in Rochester, need come into this narrative.

The little house had already established a somewhat uncanny reputation.
The evidence to this effect was collected and published very shortly
after the event, and seems to be as reliable as such evidence can be. In
view of the extreme importance of everything which bears upon the
matter, some extracts from these depositions must be inserted, but to
avoid dislocation of the narrative the evidence upon this point has been
relegated to the Appendix. We will therefore pass at once to the time of
the tenancy of the Fox family, who took over the house on December 11,
1847. It was not until the next year that the sounds heard by the
previous tenants began once more. These sounds consisted of rapping
noises. A rap would seem to be the not unnatural sound to be produced by
outside visitors when they wished to notify their presence at the door
of human life and desired that door to be opened for them. Just such
raps (all unknown to these unread farmers) had occurred in England in
1661 at the house of Mr. Mompesson, at Tedworth.* Raps, too, are
recorded by Melancthon as having occurred at Oppenheim, in Germany, in
1520, and raps were heard at the Epworth Vicarage in 1716. Here they
were once more, and at last they were destined to have the closed door
open.

* "Saducismus Triumphatus," by Rev. Joseph Glanvil.

The noises do not seem to have incommoded the Fox family until the
middle of March, 1848. From that date onwards they continually increased
in intensity. Sometimes they were a mere knocking; at other times they
sounded like the movement of furniture. The children were so alarmed
that they refused to sleep apart and were taken into the bedroom of
their parents. So vibrant were the sounds that the beds thrilled and
shook. Every possible search was made, the husband waiting on one side
of the door 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 every possible
solution was tested and failed. Finally, upon the night of March 31
there was a very loud and continued outbreak of inexplicable sounds. It
was on this night that one of the great points of psychic evolution was
reached, for it was then that young Kate Fox challenged the unseen power
to repeat the snaps of her fingers. That rude room, with its earnest,
expectant, half-clad occupants with eager upturned faces, its circle of
candlelight, and its heavy shadows lurking in the corners, might well be
made the subject of a great historical painting. Search all the palaces
and chancelleries of 1848, and where will you find a chamber which has
made its place in history as secure as this little bedroom of a shack?

The child's challenge, though given with flippant words, was instantly
answered. Every snap was echoed by a knock. However humble the operator
at either end, the spiritual telegraph was at last working, and it was
left to the patience and moral earnestness of the human race to
determine how high might be the uses to which it was put in the future.
Unexplained forces were many in the world, but here was a force claiming
to have independent intelligence at the back of it. That was the supreme
sign of a new departure.

Mrs. Fox was amazed at this development, and at the further discovery
that the force could apparently see as well as hear, for when Kate
snapped her fingers without sound the rap still responded. The mother
asked a series of questions, the answers to which, given in numerals,
showed a greater knowledge of her own affairs than she herself
possessed, for the raps insisted that she had had seven children,
whereas she protested that she had borne only six, until one who had
died early came back to her mind. A neighbour, Mrs. Redfield, was called
in, and her amusement was changed to wonder, and finally to awe, as she
also listened to correct answers to intimate questions.

The neighbours came flocking in as some rumours of these wonders got
about, and the two children were carried off by one of them, while Mrs.
Fox went to spend the night at Mrs. Redfield's. In their absence the
phenomena went on exactly the same as before, which disposes once for
all of those theories of cracking toes and dislocating knees which have
been so frequently put 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 the night of March 31 in
playing question and answer with the unseen intelligence. According to
its own account he was a spirit; he had been injured in that house; he
rapped out the name of a former occupant who had injured him; he was
thirty-one years old at the time of death (which was five years before);
he had been murdered for money; he had been buried in the cellar ten
feet deep. On descending to the cellar, dull, heavy thumps, coming
apparently from under the earth, broke out when the investigator stood
at the centre. There was no sound at other times. That, then, was the
place of burial! It was a neighbour named Duesler who, first of all
modern men, called over the alphabet and got answers by raps on the
letters. In this way the name of the dead man was obtained-Charles B.
Rosma. The idea of connected messages was not developed until four
months later, when Isaac Post, a Quaker, of Rochester, was the pioneer.
These, in very brief outline, were the events of March 31, which were
continued and confirmed upon the succeeding night, when not fewer than a
couple of hundred people had assembled round the house. Upon April 2 it
was observed that the raps came in the day as well as at 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 a tree, and as this
whole volume may be said to be a monument to its memory, it would seem
fitting that the story should be given in the very words of the two
original adult witnesses. Their evidence was taken within four days of
the occurrence, and forms part of that admirable piece of psychic
research upon the part of the local committee which will be described
and commented upon later. Mrs. Fox deposed:

On the night of the first disturbance we all got up, lighted a candle
and searched the entire house, the noises continuing during the time,
and being heard near the same place. Although not very loud, it produced
a jar of the bedsteads and chairs that could be felt when we were in
bed. It was a tremulous motion, more than a sudden jar. We could feel
the jar when standing on the floor. It continued on this night until we
slept. I did not sleep until about twelve o'clock. On March 30th we were
disturbed all night. The noises were heard in all parts of the house. My
husband stationed himself outside of the door while I stood inside, and
the knocks came on the door between us. We heard footsteps in the
pantry, and walking downstairs; we could not rest, and I then concluded
that the house must be haunted by some unhappy restless spirit. I had
often heard of such things, but had never witnessed anything of the kind
that I could not account for before.

On Friday night, March 31st, 1848, we concluded to go to bed early and
not permit ourselves to be disturbed by the noises, but try and get a
night's rest. My husband was here on all these occasions, heard the
noises, and helped search. It was very early when we went to bed on this
night-hardly dark. I had been so broken of my rest I was almost sick. My
husband had not gone to bed when we first heard the noise on this
evening. I had just lain down. It commenced as usual. I knew it from all
other noises I had ever heard before. The children, who slept in the
other bed in the room, heard the rapping, and tried to make similar
sounds by snapping their fingers.

My youngest child, Cathie, said: "Mr. Splitfoot, do as I do," clapping
her hands. The sound instantly followed her with the same number of
raps. When she stopped, the sound ceased for a short time. Then
Margaretta said, in sport, "Now, do just as I do. Count one, two, three,
four," striking one hand against the other at the same time; and the
raps came as before. She was afraid to repeat them. Then Cathie said in
her childish simplicity, "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 place could answer.
I asked the noise to rap my different children's ages, successively.
Instantly, each one of my children's ages was given correctly, pausing
between them sufficiently long to individualize them until the seventh,
at which a longer pause was made, and then three more emphatic raps were
given, corresponding to the age of the little one that died, which was
my youngest child.

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

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

My husband went and called in Mrs. Redfield, our nearest neighbour. She
is a very candid woman. The girls were sitting up in bed clinging to
each other, and trembling with terror. I think I was as calm as I am
now. Mrs. Redfield came immediately (this was about half-past seven),
thinking she would have a laugh at the children. But when she saw them
pale with fright, and nearly speechless, she was amazed, and believed
there was something more serious than she had supposed. I asked a few
questions for her, and was answered as before. He told her age exactly.
She then called her husband, and the same questions were asked and
answered.

Then Mr. Redfield called in Mr. Duesler and wife, and several others.
Mr. Duesler then called in Mr. and Mrs. Hyde, also Mr. and Mrs. Jewell.
Mr. Duesler asked many questions, and received answers. I then named all
the neighbours I could think of, and asked 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 be brought to justice?" No sound. "Can he be punished by
the law?" No answer. He then said: "If your murderer cannot be punished
by the law, manifest it by raps," and the raps were made clearly and
distinctly. In the same way, Mr. Duesler ascertained that he was
murdered in the east bedroom about five years ago and that the murder
was committed by a Mr. on a Tuesday night at twelve o'clock; that he was
murdered by having his throat cut with a butcher knife; that the body
was taken down to the cellar; that it was not buried until the next
night; that it was taken through the buttery, down the stairway, and
that it was buried ten feet below the surface of the ground. It was also
ascertained that he was murdered for his money, by raps affirmative.

"How much was it-one hundred?" No rap. "Was it two hundred?" etc., and
when he mentioned five hundred the raps replied in the affirmative.

Many called in who were fishing in the creek, and all heard the same
questions and answers. Many remained in the house all night. 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. There were no sounds
heard during day, but they commenced again in the evening. It was said
that there were over three hundred persons present at the time. On
Sunday morning the noises were heard throughout the day by all who came
to the house.

On Saturday night, April 1st, they commenced digging in the cellar; 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 David S. Fox and wife, slept in the room
this night.

I have heard nothing since that time until yesterday. In the forenoon of
yesterday there were several questions answered in the usual way by
rapping. I have heard the noise several times to-day.

I am not a believer in haunted houses or supernatural appearances. I am
very sorry that there has been so much excitement 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 willing and anxious that the truth should be known,
and that a true statement should be made. I cannot account for these
noises; all that I know is that they have been heard repeatedly, as I
have stated. 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 take my 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 its particulars. I heard the
same rappings which she has spoken of, in answer to the questions, as
stated by her. There have been a great many questions besides those
asked, and answered in the same way. Some have been asked a great many
times, and they have always received the same answers. There has never
been any contradiction whatever.

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

Hundreds have visited the house, so that it is impossible for us to
attend to our daily occupations; and I hope that, whether caused by
natural or supernatural means, it will be ascertained soon. The digging
in the cellar will be resumed as soon as the water settles, and then it
can be ascertained whether there are any indications of a body ever
having been buried there; and if there are, I shall have no doubt but
that it is of supernatural origin.

(SIGNED) JOHN D. FOX.

APRIL 11, 1848


The neighbours had formed themselves into a committee of investigation,
which for sanity and efficiency might be a lesson to many subsequent re
searchers. They did not begin by imposing their own conditions, but they
started without prejudice to record the facts exactly as they found
them. Not only did they collect and record the impressions of everyone
concerned, but they actually had the evidence in printed form within a
month of the occurrence. The author has in vain attempted to get an
original copy of the pamphlet, "A Report of the Mysterious Noises heard
in the House of Mr. John D. Fox," published at Canandaigua, New York,
but he has been presented with a facsimile of the original, and it is
his considered opinion that the fact of human survival and power of
communication was definitely proved to any mind capable of weighing
evidence from the day of the appearance of that document. 71

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

I live within a few rods of the house in which these sounds have been
heard. The first I heard anything about them 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 wanted me to go over with them, and I accordingly went…. This was
about nine o'clock in the evening. There were some twelve or fourteen
persons present when I left them. Some were so frightened that they 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 had spoken of, distinctly. I felt
the bedstead jar when the sounds were produced.

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

* Author of "Footfalls on the Boundary of Another world" (1860), and
"The Debatable Land" (1871).

The parents had had the children's beds removed into their bedroom, and
strictly enjoined them not to talk of noises even if they heard them.
But scarcely had the mother seen them safely in bed and was retiring to
rest herself when the children cried out, "Here they are again!" The
mother chid them, and lay down. Thereupon the noises became louder and
more startling. The children sat up in bed. Mrs. Fox called in her
husband. The night being windy, it suggested itself to him that it might
be the rattling of the sashes. He tried several, shaking them to see if
they were loose. Kate, the youngest girl, happened to remark that as
often as her father shook a window-sash the noises seemed to reply.
Being a lively child, and in a measure accustomed to what was going on,
she turned to where the noise was, snapped her fingers, and called out,
"Here, old Splitfoot, do as I do." THE KNOCKING INSTANTLY RESPONDED.
That was the 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 would exactly
answer, in drumming, anything that was beaten or called for." But his
curiosity led him no further. Not so Kate Fox. She tried, 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 as before. And as often as she repeated the noiseless motion,
just so often responded the raps.

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

This statement appeared in the BOSTON JOURNAL (a non-Spiritualistic
paper) of November 23, 1904, and runs as follows:

Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 22nd, 1904: The skeleton of the man supposed to
have caused the rappings first heard by the Fox sisters in 1848 has been
found in the walls of the house occupied by the sisters, and clears them
from the only shadow of doubt held concerning their sincerity in the
discovery of spirit communication.

The Fox sisters declared they learned to communicate with the spirit of
a man, and that he told them he had been murdered and buried in the
cellar. Repeated excavations failed to locate the body and thus give
proof positive of their story.

The discovery was made by school-children playing in the cellar of the
building in Hydesville known as the "Spook House," where the Fox sisters
heard the wonderful rappings. William H. Hyde, a reputable citizen of
Clyde, who owns the house, made an investigation and found an almost
entire human skeleton 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 was hidden in the
cellar.

Mr. Hyde has notified relatives of the Fox sisters, and the notice of
the discovery will be sent to the National Order of Spiritualists, many
of whom remember having made pilgrimage to the "Spook House," as it is
commonly called. The finding of the bones practically corroborates the
sworn statement 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 country head-quarters of
the American Spiritualists, to which also the old Hydesville house has
been transported.

These discoveries settle the question for ever and prove conclusively
that there was a crime committed in the house, and that this crime was
indicated by psychic means. When one examines the result of the two
diggings one can reconstruct the circumstances. It is clear that in the
first instance the body was buried with quicklime in the centre of the
cellar. Later the criminal was alarmed by the fact that this place was
too open to suspicion and he had dug up the body, or the main part of
it, and reburied it under the wall where it would be more out of the
way. The work had been done so hurriedly, however, or in such imperfect
light, that some clear traces were left, as has been seen, of the
original grave.

Was there independent evidence of such a crime? In order to find it we
have to turn to the deposition of Lucretia Pulver, who served as help
during the tenancy of Mr. and Mrs. Bell, who occupied the house four
years before. She describes how a peddler came to the house and how he
stayed the night there with his wares. Her employers told her that she
might go home that night.

I wanted to buy some things off the peddler but had no money with me,
and he said he would call at our house next morning and sell them to me.
I never saw him after this. About three days after this they sent for me
to come back. I accordingly came back….

I should think this peddler of whom I have spoken was about thirty years
of age. I heard him conversing with Mrs. Bell about his family. Mrs.
Bell told me that he was an old acquaintance of theirs-that she had seen
him several times before. One evening, about a week after this, Mrs.
Bell sent me down to the cellar to shut the outer door. In going across
the cellar I fell down near the centre of it. It appeared to be uneven
and loose in that part. After I got upstairs, Mrs. Bell asked me what I
screamed for and I told her. She laughed at me being frightened, and
said it was only where the rats had been at work in the ground. A few
days after this, Mr. Bell carried a lot of dirt into the cellar just at
night and was at work there some time. Mrs. Bell told me that he was
filling up the rat-holes.

A short time after this Mrs. Bell gave me a thimble which she said she
had bought of this peddler. About three months after this I visited her
and she said the peddler had been there again and she showed me another
thimble which she said she had bought from him. She showed me some other
things which she said she had bought from him.

It is worth noting that a Mrs. Lape in 1847 had claimed to have actually
SEEN an apparition in the house, and that this vision was of a
middle-sized man who wore grey pants, a black frock-coat and black cap.
Lucretia Pulver deposed that the peddler in life wore a black frock-coat
and light-coloured pants.

On the other hand, it is only fair to add that the Mr. Bell who occupied
the house at that time was not a man of notorious character, and one
would willingly concede that an accusation founded entirely upon psychic
evidence would be an unfair and intolerable thing. It is very different,
however, when the proofs of a crime have actually been discovered, and
the evidence then centres merely upon which tenant was in possession at
that particular time. The deposition of Lucretia Pulver assumes vital
importance in its bearing upon this matter.

There are one or two points about the case which would bear discussion.
One is that a man with so remarkable a name as Charles B. Rosma should
never have been traced, considering all the publicity which the case
acquired. This would certainly at the time have appeared a formidable
objection, but with our fuller knowledge we appreciate how very
difficult it is to get names correctly across. A name apparently is a
purely conventional thing, and as such very different from an idea.
Every practising Spiritualist has received messages which were correct
coupled with names which were mistaken. It is possible that the real
name was Ross, or possibly Rosmer, and that this error prevented
identification. Again, it is curious that he should not have known that
his body had been moved from the centre 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 that the power
was drawn from them, how came the phenomena when they had actually been
removed from the house? To this one can only answer that though the
future was to show that the power did actually emanate from these girls,
none the less it seemed to have permeated the house and to have been at
the disposal of the manifesting power for a time at least when the girls
were not present.

The Fox family were seriously troubled by the disturbances-Mrs. Fox's
hair turned white in a week-and as it became apparent that these were
associated with the two young daughters, these were sent from home. But
in the house of her brother, David Fox, where Margaret went, and in that
of her sister Leah, whose married name was Mrs. Fish, at Rochester,
where Catharine was staying, the same sounds were heard. Every effort
was made to conceal these manifestations from the public, but they soon
became known. Mrs. Fish, who was a teacher of music, was unable to
continue her profession, and hundreds of people flocked to her house to
witness the new marvels. It should be stated that either this power was
contagious, or else it was descending upon many individuals
independently from some common source. Thus Mrs. Leah Fish, the elder
sister, received it, though in a less degree than Kate or Margaret. But
it was no longer confined to the Fox family. It was like some psychic
cloud descending from on high and showing itself on those persons who
were susceptible. Similar sounds were heard in the home of Rev. A. H.
Jervis, a Methodist minister, living in Rochester. Strong physical
phenomena also began in the family of Deacon Hale, of Greece, a town
close to Rochester. A little later Mrs. Sarah A. Tamlin and Mrs.
Benedict, of Auburn, developed remarkable mediumship. Mr. Capron, the
first historian of the movement, describes Mrs. Tamlin as one of the
most reliable mediums he had ever met, and says that though the sounds
occurring in her presence were not so loud as those with the Fox family,
the messages were equally trustworthy.

It speedily became evident, then, that these unseen forces were no
longer attached to any building, but that they had transferred
themselves to the girls. In vain the family prayed with their Methodist
friends that relief would come. In vain also were exorcisms performed by
the clergy of various creeds. Beyond joining with loud raps in the
Amens, the unseen presences took no notice of these religious exercises.

The danger of blindly following alleged spirit guidance was clearly
shown some months later in the neighbouring town of Rochester, where a
man disappeared under suspicious circumstances. An enthusiastic
Spiritualist had messages by raps which announced a murder. The canal
was dragged and the wife of the missing man was actually ordered to
enter the canal, which nearly cost her her life. Some months later the
absentee returned, having fled to Canada to avoid a writ for debt. This,
as may well be imagined, was a blow to the young cult. The public did
not then understand what even now is so little understood, that death
causes no change in the human spirit, that mischievous and humorous
entities abound, and that the inquirer must use his own instincts and
his own common sense at every turn. "Try the spirits that ye may know
them." In the same year, in the same district, the truth of this new
philosophy upon the one side, and its limitations and dangers on the
other, were most clearly set forth. These dangers are with us still. The
silly man, the arrogant inflated man, the cocksure man, is always a safe
butt. Every observer has had some trick played upon him. The author has
himself had his faith sorely shaken by deception until some compensating
proof has come along to assure him that it was only a lesson which he
had received, and that it was no more fiendish or even remarkable that
disembodied intelligences should be hoaxers than that the same
intelligence inside a human body should find amusement in the same
foolish way.

The whole course of the movement had now widened and taken a more
important turn. It was no longer a murdered man calling for justice. The
peddler seemed to have been used as a pioneer, and now that he had found
the opening and the method, a myriad of Intelligences were swarming at
his back. Isaac Post had instituted the method of spelling by raps, and
messages were pouring through. According to these the whole system had
been devised by the contrivance of a band of thinkers and inventors upon
the spirit plane, foremost among whom was Benjamin Franklin, whose eager
mind and electrical knowledge in earth life might well qualify him for
such a venture. Whether this claim was true or not, it is a fact that
Rosma dropped out of the picture at this stage, and that the intelligent
knockings purported to be from the deceased friends of those inquirers
who were prepared to take a serious interest in the matter and to gather
in reverent mood to receive the messages. That they still lived and
still loved was the constant message from the beyond, accompanied by
many material tests, which confirmed the wavering faith of the new
adherents of the movement. When asked for their methods of working and
the laws which governed them, the answers were from the beginning
exactly what they are now: that it was a matter concerned with human and
spirit magnetism; that some who were richly endowed with this physical
property were mediums; that this endowment was not necessarily allied to
morality or intelligence; and that the condition of harmony was
especially necessary to secure good results. In seventy odd years we
have learned very little more; and after all these years the primary law
of harmony is invariably broken at the so-called test seances, the
members of which imagine that they have disproved the philosophy when
they obtain negative or disordered results, whereas they have actually
confirmed it.

In one of the early communications the Fox sisters were assured that
"these manifestations would not be confined to them, but would go all
over the world." This prophecy was soon in a fair way to be fulfilled,
for these new powers and further developments of them, which included
the discerning and hearing of spirits and the movement of objects
without contact, appeared in many circles which were independent of the
Fox family. In an incredibly short space of time the movement, with many
eccentricities and phases of fanaticism, had swept over the Northern and
Eastern States of the Union, always retaining that solid core of actual
tangible fact, which might be occasionally simulated by impostors, but
always reasserted itself to the serious investigator who could shake
himself free from preconceived prejudice. Disregarding for the moment
these wider developments, let us continue the story of the original
circles at Rochester.

The spirit messages had urged upon the small band of pioneers a public
demonstration of their powers in an open meeting at Rochester-a
proposition which was naturally appalling to two shy country girls and
to their friends. So incensed were the discarnate Guides by the
opposition of their earthly agents that they threatened to suspend the
whole movement for a generation, and did actually desert them completely
for some weeks. At the end of that time communication was restored and
the believers, chastened by this interval of thought, put themselves
unreservedly into the hands of the outside forces, promising that they
would dare all in the cause. It was no light matter. A few of the
clergy, notably the Methodist minister, the Rev. A. H. Jervis, rallied
to their aid, but the majority thundered from their pulpits against
them, and the snob eagerly joined in the cowardly sport of
heretic-baiting. On November 14, 1849, the Spiritualists 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 five representative citizens was then selected to examine
into the matter and to report upon the following evening, when the
meeting would reassemble. So certain was it that this report would be
unfavourable that the ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT is stated to have had its
leading article prepared, with the head-line: "Entire Exposure of the
Rapping Humbug." The result, however, caused the editor to hold his
hand. The committee reported that the raps were undoubted facts, though
the information was not entirely correct, that is, the answers to
questions were "not altogether right nor altogether wrong." They added
that these raps came on walls and doors some distance from the girls,
causing a sensible vibration. "They entirely failed to find any means by
which it could be done."

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

Again the audience turned down the report of their own committee, and
again a deputation was chosen from among the most extreme opponents, one
of whom vowed that if he could not find out the trick he would throw
himself over the falls of the Genesee River. Their examination was
thorough to the length of brutality, and a committee of ladies was
associated with it. The latter stripped the frightened girls, who wept
bitterly under their afflictions. Their dresses were then tied tightly
round their ankles and they were placed upon glass and other insulators.
The committee was forced to report, "when they were standing on pillows
with a handkerchief tied round the bottom of their dresses, tight to the
ankles, we all heard the rapping on the wall and floor distinctly." The
committee further testified that their questions, some of them mental,
had been answered correctly.

So long as the public looked upon the movement as a sort of joke it was
prepared to be tolerantly amused, but when these successive reports put
the matter in a more serious light, a wave of blackguardism swept over
the town, which reached such a pitch that Mr. Willetts, a gallant
Quaker, was compelled at the fourth public meeting to declare that "the
mob of ruffians who designed to lynch the girls should do so, if they
attempted it, over his dead body." There was a disgraceful riot, the
young women were smuggled out by a back door, and reason and justice
were for the moment clouded over by force and folly. Then, as now, the
minds of the average men of the world were so crammed with the things
that do not matter that they had no space for the things that do matter.
But Fate is never in a hurry, and the movement went on. Many accepted
the findings of the successive committees as being final, and indeed, it
is difficult to see how the alleged facts could have been more severely
tested. At the same time, this strong, new, fermenting wine began to
burst some of the old bottles into which it was poured to the excusable
disgust of the public.

The many discreet, serious and religious circles were for a season
almost obscured by swollen-headed ranters who imagined themselves to be
in touch with every high entity from the Apostles downwards, some even
claiming the direct afflatus of the Holy Ghost and emitting messages
which were only saved from being blasphemous by their crudity and
absurdity. One community of these fanatics, who called themselves the
Apostolic Circle of Mountain Cove, particularly distinguished themselves
by their extreme claims and furnished good material for the enemies of
the new dispensation. The great body of Spiritualists turned away in
disapproval from such exaggerations, but were unable to prevent them.
Many well-attested supernormal phenomena came to support the failing
spirits of those who were distressed by the so excesses of the fanatics.
On one occasion, which is particularly convincing and well-reported, two
bodies of investigators in separate rooms, at Rochester, on February 20,
1850, received the same message simultaneously from some central force
which called itself Benjamin Franklin. This double message was: "There
will be great changes in the nineteenth century. Things that now look
dark and mysterious to you will be laid plain before your sight.
Mysteries are going to be revealed. The world will be en lightened." It
must be admitted that, up to now, the prophecy has been only partially
fulfilled, and it may at the same time be conceded that, with some
startling exceptions, the forecasts of the 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 so strange a
movement at this particular time, granting that it is all that it claims
to be?" Governor Tallmadge, a United States senator of repute, was one
of the early converts to the new cult, and he has left it upon record
that he asked this question upon two separate occasions in two different
years from different mediums. The answer in each case was almost
identical. The first said: "It is to draw mankind together in harmony,
and to convince sceptics of the immortality of the soul." The second
said: "To unite mankind and to convince sceptical minds of the
immortality of the soul." Surely this is no ignoble ambition and does
not justify those narrow and bitter attacks from ministers and the less
progressive of their flocks from which Spiritualists have up to the
present day had to suffer. The first half of the definition is
particularly important, for it is possible that one of the ultimate
results of this movement will be to unite religion 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 away or disregarded. One could even hope that such a
movement might spread beyond the bounds of Christianity and throw down
some of the barriers which stand between great sections of the human
race.

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 a statement [Capron
"Modern Spiritualism, etc.," pp. 310-31.] showing to their own
satisfaction that the sounds occurring in the presence of the Fox
sisters were caused by the snapping of knee joints. It called forth a
characteristic reply in the Press from Mrs. Fish and Margaret Fox,
addressed to the three doctors:

As we do not feel willing to rest under the imputation of being
impostors, we are very willing to undergo a proper and decent
examination, provided we can select three male and three female friends
who shall be present on the occasion. We can assure the public that
there is no one more anxious than ourselves to discover the origin of
these mysterious manifestations. If they can be explained on
"anatomical" or "physiological" principles, it is due to the world that
the investigation be made, and that the "humbug" be exposed. As there
seems to be much interest manifested by the public on that subject, we
would suggest that as early an investigation as is convenient would be
acceptable to the undersigned.

Ann L. Fish.
Margaretta Fox.


The investigation was held, but the results were negative. In an
appended note to the doctors' report in the NEW YORK TRIBUNE, the editor
(Horace Greeley) observes:

The doctors, as has already appeared in our columns, commenced with the
assumption that the origin of the "rapping" sounds MUST be physical, and
their primary cause the volition of the ladies aforesaid-in short, that
these ladies were "The Rochester impostors." They appear, therefore, in
the above statement, as the prosecutors of an impeachment, and ought to
have selected other persons as judges and reporters of the trial…. It is
quite probable that we shall have another version of the matter.

Much testimony in support of the Fox sisters was quickly forthcoming,
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 revealed to her the
whole secret of how the raps were produced. It was an entire
fabrication, and Mr. Capron published a crushing answer, showing that on
the date when Catharine Fox was supposed to have made the confession to
Mrs. Culver, she was residing at his house seventy miles distant.

Mrs. Fox and her three daughters began public sittings in New York in
the spring of 1850, at Barnum's Hotel, and they attracted many curious
visitors. The Press was almost unanimous in denunciation of them. A
brilliant exception to this was found in Horace Greeley, already quoted,
who wrote an appreciative article in his paper under his own initials. A
portion of this will be found in the Appendix.

After a return to Rochester, the Fox family made a tour of the Western
States, and then paid a second visit to New York, when the same intense
public interest was displayed. They had obeyed the spirits' mandate to
proclaim these truths to the world, and the new era that had been
announced was now ushered in. When one reads the detailed accounts of
some of these American sittings, and considers the brain power of the
sitters, it is amazing to think that people, blinded by prejudice,
should be so credulous as to imagine that it was all the result of
deception. At that time was shown moral courage which has been
conspicuously lacking since the reactionary forces in science and in
religion combined to stifle the new knowledge and to make it dangerous
for its professors. Thus in a single sitting in New York in 1850 we find
that 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 General Lyman. All of these were satisfied as to
the facts, and the account winds up "The manners and bearing of the
ladies" (I.E. the three Fox sisters) "are such as to create a
prepossession in their favour." The world since then has dug up much
coal and iron; it has erected great structures and it has invented
terrible engines of war, but can we say that it has advanced in
spiritual knowledge or reverence for the unseen? Under the guidance of
materialism the wrong path has been followed, and it becomes
increasingly clear that the people must return or perish.




CHAPTER V



THE CAREER OF THE FOX SISTERS


For the sake of continuity the subsequent history of the Fox sisters
will now be given after the events at Hydesville. It is a remarkable,
and to Spiritualists a painful, story, but it bears its own lesson and
should be faithfully recorded. When men have an honest and whole-hearted
aspiration for truth there is no development which can ever leave them
abashed or find no place in their scheme.

For some years the two younger sisters, Kate and Margaret, gave seances
at New York and other places, successfully meeting every test which was
applied to them. Horace Greeley, afterwards a candidate for the United
States presidency, was, as already shown, deeply interested in them and
convinced of their entire honesty. He is said to have furnished the
funds by which the younger girl completed her very imperfect education.

During these years of public mediumship, when the girls were all the
rage among those who had no conception of the religious significance of
this new revelation, and who concerned themselves with it purely in the
hope of worldly advantage, the sisters exposed themselves to the
enervating influences of promiscuous seances in a way which no earnest
Spiritualist could justify. The dangers of such practices were not then
so clearly realized as now, nor had it occurred to people that it is
unlikely that high spirits would descend to earth in order to advise as
to the state of railway stocks or the issue of love affairs. The
ignorance was universal, and there was no wise mentor at the elbow of
these poor pioneers to point the higher and the safer path. Worst of
all, their jaded energies were renewed by the offer of wine at a time
when one at least of them was hardly more than a child. It is said that
there was some family predisposition towards alcoholism, but even
without such a taint their whole procedure and mode of life were rash to
the last degree. Against their moral character there has never been a
breath of suspicion, but they had taken a road which leads to
degeneration of mind and character, though it was many years before the
more serious effects were manifest.

Some idea of the pressure upon the Fox girls at this time may be
gathered from Mrs. Hardinge Britten's* description from her own
observation. She talks of "pausing on the first floor to hear poor
patient Kate Fox, in the midst of a captious, grumbling crowd of
investigators, repeating hour after hour the letters of the alphabet,
while the no less poor, patient spirits rapped out names, ages and dates
to suit all comers." Can one wonder that the girls, with vitality
sapped, the beautiful, watchful influence of the mother removed, and
harassed by enemies, succumbed to a gradually increasing temptation in
the direction of stimulants?

* "Autobiography," p. 40.

A remarkably clear light is thrown upon Margaret at this period in that
curious booklet, "The Love Letters of Dr. Elisha Kane." It was in 1852
that Dr. Kane, afterwards the famous Arctic explorer, met Margaret Fox,
who was a beautiful and attractive girl. To her Kane wrote those love
letters which record one of the most curious courtships in literature.
Elisha Kane, as his first name might imply, was a man of Puritan
extraction, and Puritans, with their belief that the Bible represents
the absolutely final word in spiritual inspiration and that they
understand what that last word means, are instinctively antagonistic to
a new cult which professes to show that new sources and new
interpretations are still available.

He was also a doctor of medicine, and the medical profession is at the
same time the most noble and the most cynically incredulous in the
world. From the first Kane made up his mind that the young girl was
involved in fraud, and formed the theory that her elder sister Leah was,
for purposes of gain, exploiting the fraud. The fact that Leah shortly
afterwards married a wealthy man named Underhill, a Wall Street
insurance magnate, does not appear to have modified Kane's views as to
her greed for illicit earnings. The doctor formed a close friendship
with Margaret, put her under his own aunt for purposes of education
whilst he was away in the Arctic, and finally married her under the
curious Gretna Green kind of marriage law which seems to have prevailed
at the time. Shortly afterwards he died (in 1857), and the widow, now
calling herself Mrs. Fox-Kane, forswore all phenomena for a time, and
was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

In these letters Kane continually reproaches Margaret with living in
deceit and hypocrisy. We have very few of her letters, so that we do not
know how far she defended herself. The compiler of the book, though a
non-Spiritualist, says: "Poor girl, with her simplicity, ingenuousness
and timidity, she could not, had she been so inclined, have practised
the slightest deception with any chance of success." This testimony is
valuable, as the writer was clearly intimately acquainted with everyone
concerned. Kane himself, writing to the younger sister Kate, says: "Take
my advice and never talk of the spirits either to friends or strangers.
You know that with all my intimacy with Maggie after a whole month's
trial I could make nothing of them. Therefore they are a great mystery."

Considering their close relations, and that Margaret clearly gave Kane
every demonstration of her powers, it is inconceivable that a trained
medical man would have to admit after a month that he could make nothing
of it, if it were indeed a mere cracking of a joint. One can find no
evidence for fraud in these letters, but one does find ample proof that
these two young girls, Margaret and Kate, had not the least idea of the
religious implications involved in these powers, or of the grave
responsibilities of mediumship, and that they misused their gift in the
direction of giving worldly advice, receiving promiscuous sitters, and
answering comic or frivolous questions. If in such circumstances both
their powers and their character were to deteriorate, it would not
surprise any experienced Spiritualist. They deserved no better, though
their age and ignorance furnished an excuse.

To realize their position one has to remember that they were little more
than children, poorly educated, and quite ignorant of the philosophy of
the subject. When a man like Dr. Kane assured Margaret that it was very
wrong, he was only saying what was dinned into her ears from every
quarter, including half the pulpits of New York. Probably she had an
uneasy feeling that it was wrong, without in the least knowing why, and
this may account for the fact that she does not seem to remonstrate with
him for his suspicions. Indeed, we may admit that AU FOND Kane was
right, and that the proceedings were in some ways unjustifiable. At that
time they were very unvenal themselves, and had they used their gift, as
D. D. Home used his, with no relation to worldly things, and for the
purpose only of proving immortality and consoling the afflicted, then,
indeed, they would have been above criticism. He was wrong in doubting
their gift, but right in looking askance at some examples of their use
of it.

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

Kane was a curious blend of the hero and the prig. Spirit-rapping,
unfortified by any of the religious or scientific sanctions which came
later, was a low-down thing, a superstition of the illiterate, and was
he, a man of repute, to marry a spirit-rapper? He vacillated over it in
an extraordinary way, beginning a letter with claims to be her brother,
and ending by reminding her of the warmth of his kisses. "Now that you
have given me your heart, I will be a brother to you," he says. He had a
vein of real superstition running through him which was far below the
credulity which he ascribed to others. He frequently alludes to the fact
that by raising his right hand he had powers of divination and that he
had learned it "from a conjurer in the Indies." Occasionally he is a
snob as well as a prig. "At the very 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 and sympathetic mind. On at least one occasion we find Kane
suggesting deceit to her, and she combating the idea.

There are four fixed points which can be established by the letters:

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

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

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

It was in this year 1871 that Kate Fox's visit to England was brought
about through the generosity of Mr. Charles F. Livermore, a prominent
banker of New York, in gratitude for the consolation he had received
from her wonderful powers, and to advance the cause of Spiritualism. He
provided for all her needs, and thus removed any necessity for her to
give professional sittings. He also arranged for her to be accompanied
by a congenial woman companion.

In a letter [THE SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE, 1871, pp. 525-6.] to Mr. Benjamin
Coleman, a well-known worker in the Spiritualist movement, Mr. Livermore
says:

Miss Fox, taken all in all, is no doubt the most wonderful living
medium. Her character is irreproachable and pure. I have received so
much through her powers of mediumship during the past ten years which is
solacing, instructive and astounding, that I feel greatly indebted to
her, and desire to have her taken good care of while absent from her
home and friends.


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

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


For this reason I have advised her not to sit in dark seances, that she
may avoid the irritation arising from the suspicion of sceptics, mere
curiosity-mongers, and lovers of the marvellous.

The perfection of the manifestations to be obtained through her depends
upon her surroundings, and in proportion as she is in rapport or
sympathy with you does she seem receptive of spiritual power. The
communications through her are very remarkable, and have come to me
frequently from my wife (Estelle), in perfect idiomatic French, and
sometimes in Spanish and Italian, whilst she herself is not acquainted
with any of these languages. You will understand all this, but these
explanations may be necessary for others. As I have said, SHE WILL NOT
GIVE SEANCES AS A PROFESSIONAL MEDIUM, but I hope she will do all the
good she can in furtherance of the great truth, in a quiet way, while
she remains in England.

Mr. Coleman, who had a sitting with her in New York, says that he
received one of the most striking evidences of spirit identity that had
ever occurred to him in his experience of seventeen years. Mr. Cromwell
F. Varley, the electrician who laid the Atlantic cable, in his evidence
before the London Dialectical Society in 1869, spoke of interesting
electrical experiments he made with this medium.

The visit of Kate Fox to England was evidently regarded as a mission,
for we find Mr. Coleman advising her to choose only those sitters who
are not afraid to have their names published in confirmation of the
facts they have witnessed. This course seems to have been adopted to
some extent, for there is preserved a fair 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
(who afterwards married Laurence Oliphant), and the Rev. John Page
Hopps.

The new-comer began to hold sittings soon after her arrival. At one of
the first of these, on November 24, 1871, a representative of THE TIMES
was present, and he published a detailed account of the seance, which
was held jointly with D. D. Home, a close friend of the medium. This
appeared in an article entitled "Spiritualism and Science," occupying
three and a half columns of leading type. THE TIMES Commissioner speaks
of Miss Fox taking him to the door of the room and inviting 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 with the fist. These were repeated at
our request any number of times." He mentioned that he tried every test
that he could think of, that Miss Fox and Mr. Home gave every
opportunity for examination, and that their feet and hands were held.

In the course of a leading article on the above report and the
correspondence 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 we owe them an apology for
opening our columns to a controversy on such a subject as Spiritualism
and thus treating as an open or debatable question what should rather be
dismissed at once as either an imposture or a delusion. But even an
imposture may call for unmasking, and popular delusions however-absurd,
are often too important to be neglected by the wiser portion of
mankind…. Is there, in reality, anything, as lawyers would say, to go to
a jury with? Well, on the one hand, we have abundance of alleged
experience which can hardly be called evidence, and a few depositions of
a more notable and impressive character. On the other hand, we have many
accounts of convicted impostors, and many authentic reports of precisely
such disappointments or discoveries as we should be led to expect.

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

The SPIRITUALIST, in its account of the ceremony, says that the spirit
people took part in the proceedings, for at the wedding breakfast loud
raps were heard coming from various parts of the room, and the large
table on which stood the wedding-cake was repeatedly raised from the
floor.

A contemporary witness states that Mrs. Kate Fox-Jencken (as she came to
be known) and her husband were to be met in the early 'seventies in good
social circles in London. Her services were eagerly 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 which entirely saved
her from the slightest touch of self-importance or affectation of
mystery."

Her mediumship consisted chiefly of raps (often of great power), spirit
lights, direct writing, and the appearance of materialized hands. Full
form materializations, which had been an occasional feature of her
sittings in America, were rare with her in England. On a number of
occasions objects in the seance-room were moved by spirit agency, and in
some cases brought from another room.

It was about this time that Professor William Crookes conducted his
inquiries into the medium's powers, and issued that whole-hearted report
which is dealt with later when Crookes's early connexion with
Spiritualism comes to be discussed. These careful observations show that
the rappings constituted only a small part of Kate Fox's psychic powers,
and that if they could be adequately explained by normal means they
would still leave us amid mysteries. Thus Crookes recounts how, when the
only people present besides himself and Miss Fox were his wife and a
lady relative "I was holding the medium's two hands in one of mine,
while her feet were resting on my feet. Paper was on the table before 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 pencil from my hand,
rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down, and then rose
over our heads, gradually fading into darkness.

Many other observers describe similar phenomena with this medium on
various occasions.

A very extraordinary phase of Mrs. Fox-Jensen's mediumship was the
production of luminous substances. In the presence of Mrs. Makdougall
Gregory, Mr. W. H. Harrison, the editor of a London newspaper, and
others, a hand appeared carrying some phosphorescent material, about
four inches square, with which the floor was struck and a sitter's face
touched.* The light proved to be cold. Miss Rosamund Dale Owen, in her
account of this phenomenon, describes the objects as "illumined
crystals," and says that she has seen no materialization which gave so
realistic a feeling of spirit nearness as did these graceful lights. The
author can also corroborate the fact that these lights are usually cold,
as on one occasion, with another medium, such a light settled for some
seconds upon his face. Miss Owen also speaks of books and small
ornaments being carried about, and a heavy musical box, weighing about
twenty-five pounds, being brought from a side-table. A peculiarity of
this instrument was that it had been out of order for months and could
not be used until 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 her daily
life. Professor Butlerof says that when he paid a morning social call on
her and her husband in company with M. Aksakof he heard raps upon the
floor. Spending an evening at the Jenckens' house, he reports that raps
were numerous during tea. Miss Rosamund Dale Owen also refers* to the
incident of the medium standing in the street at a shop window with two
ladies, when raps joined in the conversation, the pavement vibrating
under their feet. The raps are described as having been loud enough to
attract the attention of passers by. Mr. Jencken relates many cases of
spontaneous phenomena in their home life.

* LIGHT, 1884, p. 39. THE SPIRITUALIST, IV, p. 138, and VII, p. 66.
LIGHT, 1882, pp. 439-40.

A volume could be filled with details of the seances of this medium, but
with the exception of one further record we must be content with
agreeing with the dictum of Professor Butlerof, of the University of St.
Petersburg, who, after investigating her powers in London, wrote in THE
SPIRITUALIST (February 4, 1876):

From all that I was able to observe in the presence of Mrs. Jencken, I
am forced to come to the conclusion that the phenomena peculiar to that
medium are of a strongly objective and convincing nature, and they
would, I think, be sufficient for the most pronounced but HONEST sceptic
to cause him to reject ventriloquism, muscular action, and every such
artificial explanation of the phenomena.

Mr. H. D. Jencken died in 1881, and his widow was left with two sons.
These children showed wonderful mediumship at a very early age,
particulars of which will be found in contemporary records.

Mr. S. C. Hall, a well-known literary man and a.prominent Spiritualist,
describes a sitting at his house in Kensington on his birthday, May 9,
1882, at which his deceased wife manifested her presence:

Many interesting and touching messages were conveyed to me by the usual
writing of Mrs. Jencken. We were directed to put out the light. Then
commenced a series of manifestations such as I have not often seen
equalled, and very seldom surpassed…. I removed a small handbell from
the table and held it in my own hand. I felt a hand take it from me,
when it was rung in all parts of the room during at least five minutes.
I then placed an accordion under the table, whence it was removed, and
at a distance of three or four feet from the table round which we were
seated, tunes were played. The accordion was played and the bell was
rung in several parts of the room, while two candles were lit on the
table. It was not, therefore, what is termed a dark sitting, although
occasionally the lights were put out. During all the time Mr. Stack held
one of the hands of Mrs. Jencken and I held the other-each frequently
saying, "I have Mrs. Jencken's hand in mine."

About fifty flowers of heartsease were placed on a sheet of paper before
me. I had received some heartsease flowers from a friend in the morning,
but the vase that contained them was not in the sitting-room. I sent for
it and found it intact. The bouquet had not been in the least disturbed.
In what is called "Direct Writing" I found these words written in pencil
in a very small hand, on a sheet of paper that lay before me, "I have
brought you my token of love." At a sitting some days previously (when
alone with Mrs. Jencken) I had received this message, "On your birthday
I will bring you a token of love."

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

It is evident that Mr. Hall was greatly impressed by what he had seen.
He writes: "I have witnessed and recorded many wonderful manifestations;
I doubt if I have seen any more convincing than this; certainly none
more refined; none that gave more conclusive evidence that pure and good
and holy spirits alone were communicating." He states that he has
consented to become Mrs. Jencken's "banker," presumably for funds for
the education of her two boys. In view of what afterwards happened to
this gifted medium, there is a sad interest in his concluding words:

I feel confidence approaching certainty that, in all respects, she will
so act as to increase and not lessen her power as a medium while
retaining the friendship and trust of the many who cannot but feel for
her a regard in some degree resembling (as arising from the same source)
that which the New Church accords to Emanuel Swedenborg, and the
Methodists render to John Wesley. Assuredly Spiritualists owe to this
lady a huge debt 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 shows that the
gifts of the medium were at this time of a high and powerful order. A
few years earlier, at a seance at her house on December 14, 1873, on the
occasion of the first anniversary of her wedding, a spirit message was
rapped out: "When shadows fall upon you, think of the brighter side." It
was a prophetic message, for the end of her life was all shadows.

Margaret (Mrs. Fox-Kane) had joined her sister Kate in England in 1876,
and they remained together for some years until the very painful
incident occurred which has now to be discussed. It would appear that a
very bitter quarrel broke out between the elder sister Leah (now Mrs.
Underhill) and the two younger ones. It is probable that Leah may have
heard that there was now a tendency to alcoholism, and may have
interfered with more energy than tact. Some Spiritualists interfered
also, and incurred the fury of the two sisters by some suggestion that
Kate's children should be separated from her.

Looking round for some weapon-any weapon-with which they could injure
those whom they so bitterly hated, it seems to have occurred to them-or,
according to their subsequent statement, to have been suggested to them,
with promises of pecuniary reward-that if they injured the whole cult by
an admission of fraud they would wound Leah and her associates in their
most sensitive part. On the top of alcoholic excitement and the frenzy
of hatred there was added religious fanaticism, for Margaret had been
lectured by some of the leading spirits of the Church of Rome and
persuaded, as Home had been also for a short time, that her own powers
were evil. She mentions Cardinal Manning as having influenced her mind
in this way, but her statements are not to be taken too seriously. At
any rate, all these causes combined and reduced her to a state which was
perilously near madness. Before leaving London she had written to the
NEW YORK HERALD denouncing the cult, but stating in one sentence that
the rappings were "the only part of the phenomena that is worthy of
notice." On reaching New York, where, according to her own subsequent
statement, she was to receive a sum of money for the newspaper sensation
which she promised to produce, she broke out into absolute raving
against her elder sister.

It is a curious psychological study, and equally curious is the mental
attitude of the people who could imagine that the assertions of an
unbalanced woman, acting not only from motives of hatred but also
from-as she herself stated-the hope of pecuniary reward, could upset the
critical investigation of a generation of observers.

None the less, we have to face the fact that she did actually produce
rappings, or enable raps to be produced, at a subsequent meeting in the
New York Academy of Music. This might be discounted upon the grounds
that in so large a hall any prearranged sound might be attributed to the
medium. More important is the evidence of the reporter of the Herald,
who had a previous private performance. He describes it thus:

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

This account makes it clear that she had the noises under control,
though the reporter must have been more unsophisticated than most
pressmen of my acquaintance, if he could believe that sounds varying
both in quality and in position all came from some click within the
medium's foot. He clearly did not know how the sounds came, and it is
the author's opinion that Margaret did not know either. That she really
had something which she could exhibit is proved, not only by the
experience of the reporter but by that of Mr. Wedgwood, a London
Spiritualist, to whom she gave a demonstration before she started for
America. It is vain, therefore, to contend that there was no basis at
all in Margaret's exposure. What that basis was we must endeavour to
define.

The Margaret Fox-Kane sensation was in August and September, 1888-a
welcome boon for the enterprising paper which had exploited it. In
October Kate came over to join forces with her sister. It should be
explained that the real quarrel, so far as is known, was between Kate
and Leah, for Leah had endeavoured to get Kate's children taken from her
on the grounds that the mother's influence was not for good. Therefore,
though Kate did not rave, and though she volunteered no exposures in
public or private, she was quite at one with her sister in the general
plot to "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 was cruel to my children. I
don't know why it is she has always been jealous of Maggie and me; I
suppose because we could do things in Spiritualism that she couldn't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie is giving public exposures in all the large places in America,
but I have only seen her once since I arrived.

This letter of Kate's points to pecuniary temptation as playing a large
part in the transaction. Maggie, however, seems to have soon found that
there was little money in it, and could see no profit in telling lies
for which she was not paid, and which had only proved that the
Spiritualistic movement was so firmly established that it was quite
unruffled by her treachery. For this or other reasons-let us hope with
some final twinges of conscience as to the part she had played-she now
admitted that she had been telling falsehoods from the lowest motives.
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 with intense
excitement, "that I could undo the injustice I did the cause of
Spiritualism when, under the strong psychological influence of persons
inimical to it, I gave expression to utterances that had no foundation
in fact. This retraction and denial has not come about so much from my
own sense of what is right as from the silent impulse of the spirits
using my organism at the expense of the hostility of the treacherous
horde who held out promises of wealth and happiness in return for an
attack on Spiritualism, and whose hopeful assurances were so deceitful….

"Long before I spoke to any person on this matter, I was unceasingly
reminded by my spirit control what I should do, and at last I have come
to the conclusion that it would be useless for me further to thwart
their promptings…."

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

"Not the smallest; none whatever."

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

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

"What cause led up to your exposure of the spirit rappings?"

"At that time I was in great need of money, and persons-who for the
present I prefer not to name-took advantage 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 make the
confession that you and all other mediums traded on the credulity of
people?"

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

"Was there any truth in the charges you made against Spiritualism?"

"Those charges were false in every particular. I have no hesitation in
saying that…."

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

"Do you propose to hold seances?"

"No, I will devote myself entirely to platform work, as that will find
me a better opportunity to refute the foul slanders uttered 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 my course in
the past…."

"Will you have a manager for your lecture tour?" "No, sir. I have a
horror of them. They, too, treated me most outrageously. Frank Stechen
acted shamefully with me. He made considerable money through his
management for me, and left me in Boston without a cent. All I got from
him was five hundred and fifty dollars, which was given to me at the
beginning of the contract."

To give greater authenticity to the interview, at her suggestion the
following open letter was written to which she placed her signature:

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

TO THE PUBLIC.

The foregoing interview having been read over to me I find nothing
contained therein that is not a correct record of my words and truthful
expression of my sentiments.

I have not given a detailed account of the ways and means which were
devised to bring me under subjection, and so extract from me a
declaration that the spiritual phenomena as exemplified through my
organism were a fraud. But I shall fully atone for this incompleteness
when I get upon the platform.

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

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

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

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

There is one factor which has been scarcely touched upon in this
examination. It is the character and career of Mrs. Fish, afterwards
Mrs. Underhill, who as Leah, the elder sister, plays so prominent a part
in the matter. We know her chiefly by her book, " The Missing Link in
Modern Spiritualism" (Knox & Co., New York, 1885). This book was written
by a friend, but the facts and documents were provided by Mrs.
Underhill, who checked the whole narrative. It is simply and even
crudely put together, and the Spiritualist is bound to conclude that the
entities with whom the Fox circle were at first in contact were not
always of the highest order. Perhaps on another plane, as on this, it is
the plebeians and the lowly who carry out spiritual pioneer work in
their own rough way and open the path for other and more refined
agencies. With this sole criticism, one may say that the book gives a
sure impression of candour and good sense, and as a personal narrative
of one who was so nearly concerned in these momentous happenings, it is
destined to outlive most of our current literature and to be read with
close attention and even with reverence by generations unborn. Those
humble folk who watched over the new birth-Capron, of Auburn, who first
lectured upon it in public; Jervis, the gallant Methodist minister, who
cried, "I know it is true, and I will face the frowning world!"; George
Willetts, the Quaker; Isaac Post, who called the first spiritual
meeting; the gallant band who testified upon the Rochester platform
while the rowdies were heating the tar-all of them are destined to live
in history. Of Leah it can truly be said that she recognized the
religious meaning of the movement far more clearly than her sisters were
able to do, and that she set her face against that use of it for purely
worldly objects which is a degradation of the celestial. The following
passage is of great interest as showing how the Fox family first
regarded this visitation, and must impress the reader with the sincerity
of the writer:

The general feeling of our family…was strongly adverse to all this
strange and uncanny thing. We regarded it as a great misfortune which
had fallen upon us; how, whence or why we knew not…. We resisted it,
struggled against it, and constantly and earnestly prayed for
deliverance from it, even while a strange fascination attached to these
marvellous manifestations thus forced upon us, against our will, by
invisible agencies and agents whom we could neither resist, control nor
understand. If our will, earnest desires and prayers could have
prevailed or availed, the whole thing would have ended then and there,
and the world outside of our little neighbourhood would never have heard
more of the Rochester Rappings, or of the unfortunate Fox family.

These words give the impression of sincerity, and altogether Leah stands
forth in her book, and in the evidence of the many witnesses quoted, as
one who was worthy to play a part in a great movement.

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

The simple explanation which was given by the Spiritualists of the time
is not to be set aside readily-and least readily by those who know most.
It was that a medium who ill-uses her gifts and suffers debasement of
moral character through bad habits, becomes accessible to evil
influences which may use her for false information or for the defilement
of a pure cause. That may be true enough as a CAUSA CAUSANS. But we must
look closer to see the actual how and why.

The author is of opinion that the true explanation will be found by
coupling all these happenings with the recent investigations of Dr.
Crawford upon the means by which physical phenomena are produced. He
showed very clearly, as is detailed in a subsequent chapter, that raps
(we are dealing at present only with that phase) are caused by a
protrusion from the medium's person of a long rod of a substance having
certain properties which distinguish it from all other forms of matter.
This substance has been closely examined by the great French
physiologist, Dr. Charles Richet, who has named it "ectoplasm." These
rods are invisible to the eye, partly visible to the sensitive plate,
and yet conduct energy in such a fashion as to make sounds and strike
blows at a distance.

Now, if Margaret produced the raps in the same fashion as Crawford's
medium, we have only to make one or two assumptions which are probable
in them selves, and which the science of the future may definitely prove
in order to make the case quite clear. The one assumption is that a
centre of psychic force is formed in some part of the body from which
the ectoplasm rod is protruded. Supposing that centre to be in
Margaret's foot, it would throw a very clear light upon the evidence
collected in the Seybert inquiry. In examining Margaret and endeavouring
to get raps from her, one of the committee, with the permission of the
medium, placed his hand upon her foot. Raps at once followed. The
investigator cried: "This is the most wonderful thing of all, Mrs. Kane.
I distinctly feel them in your foot. There is not a particle of motion
in your foot, but there is an unusual pulsation."

This experiment by no means bears out the idea of joint dislocation or
snapping toes. It is, however, exactly what one could imagine in the
case of a centre from which psychic power was projected. This power is
in material shape and is drawn from the body of the medium, so that
there must be some nexus. This nexus may vary. In the case quoted it was
in Margaret's foot. It was observed by the Buffalo doctors that there
was a subtle movement of a medium at the moment of a rap. The
observation was correct, though the inference was wrong. The author has
himself distinctly seen in the case of an amateur medium a slight
general pulsation when a rap was given-a recoil, as it were, after the
discharge of force.

Granting that Margaret's power worked in this way, we have now only to
discuss whether ectoplasmic rods can under any circumstances 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 phenomena there is some reason to think that in their
simpler form they are closely connected with the medium, but that as
they progress they pass 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 first forms be ascribed to the medium's thoughts or memories
taking visible shape in ectoplasm, but as she becomes lost in trance
they take the form of figures which in extreme cases are endowed with
independent life. If there be a general analogy between the two classes
of phenomena, then it is entirely possible that Margaret had some
control over the expulsion of ectoplasm which caused the sound, but that
when the sound gave forth messages which were beyond her possible
knowledge, as in the case instanced by Funk, the power was no longer
used by her but by some independent intelligence.

It is to be remembered that no one is more ignorant of how effects are
produced than the medium, who is the centre of them. One of the greatest
physical mediums in the world told the author once that he had never
witnessed a physical phenomenon, as he was himself always in trance when
they occurred; the opinion of any one of the sitters would be more
valuable than his own. Thus in the case of these Fox sisters, who were
mere children when the phenomena began, they knew little of the
philosophy of the subject, and Margaret frequently said that she did not
understand her own results. If she found that she had herself some power
of producing the raps, however obscure the way by which she did it, she
would be in a frame of mind when she might well find it impossible to
contradict Dr. Kane when he accused her of being concerned in it. Her
confession, too, and that of her sister, would to that extent be true,
but each would be aware, as they afterwards admitted, that there was a
great deal more which could not be explained and which did not emanate
from themselves.

There remains, however, one very important point to be discussed-the
most important of all to those who accept the religious significance of
this movement. It is a most natural argument for those who are unversed
in the subject to say, "Are these your fruits? Can a philosophy or
religion be good which has such an effect upon those who have had a
prominent place in its establishment?" No one can cavil at such an
objection, and it calls for a clear answer, which has often been made
and yet is in need of repetition.

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

So it is in physical mediumship. We all, or nearly all, exude a certain
substance from our bodies which has very peculiar properties. With most
of us, as is shown by Crawford's weighing chairs, the amount is
negligible. With one in 100,000 it is considerable. That person is a
physical medium. He or she gives forth a raw material which can, we
hold, be used by independent external forces. The individual's character
has nothing to do with the matter. Such is the result of two generations
of observation.

If it were exactly as stated, then, the physical medium's character
would be in no way affected by his gift. Unfortunately, that is to
understate the case. Under our present unintelligent conditions, the
physical medium is subjected to certain moral risks which it takes a
strong and well-guarded nature to withstand. The failures of these most
useful and devoted people may be likened to those physical injuries, the
loss of fingers and hands, incurred by those who have worked with the
X-rays before their full properties were comprehended. Means have been
taken to overcome these physical dangers after a certain number have
become martyrs for science, and the moral dangers will also be met when
a tardy reparation will be made to the pioneers who have injured
themselves in forcing the gates of knowledge. These dangers lie in the
weakening of the will, in the extreme debility after phenomenal
sittings, and the temptation to gain temporary relief from alcohol, in
the temptation to fraud when the power wanes, and in the mixed and
possibly noxious spirit influences which surround a promiscuous circle,
drawn together from motives of curiosity rather than of religion. The
remedy is to segregate mediums, to give them salaries instead of paying
them by results, to regulate the number of their sittings and the
character of the sitters, and thus to remove them from influences which
overwhelmed the Fox sisters as they have done other of the strongest
mediums in the past. On the other hand, there are physical mediums who
retain such high motives and work upon such religious lines that they
are the salt of the earth. It is the same power which is used by the
Buddha and by the Woman of Endor. The objects and methods of its use are
what determine the character.

The author has said that there is little connexion between physical
mediumship and morality. One could imagine the ectoplasmic flow being as
brisk from a sinner as from a saint, impinging upon material objects in
the same way and producing results which would equally have the good
effect of convincing the materialist of forces outside his ken. This
does not apply, however, to internal mediumship, taking the form not of
phenomena but of teaching and messages, given either by spirit voice,
human voice, automatic writing, or any other device. Here the vessel is
chosen that it may match what it contains. One could not imagine a small
nature giving temporary habitation to a great spirit. One must be a Vale
Owen before one gets Vale Owen messages. If a high medium degenerated in
character, I should expect to find the messages cease or else share in
the degeneration. Hence, too, the messages of a divine spirit such as is
periodically sent to cleanse the world, of a mediaeval saint, of Joan of
Arc, of Swedenborg, of Andrew Jackson Davis, or of the humblest
automatic writer in London, provided that the impulse is a true one, are
really the same thing in various degrees. Each is a genuine breath from
beyond, and yet each intermediary tinges with his or her personality the
message which comes through. So, as in a glass darkly, we see this
wondrous mystery, so vital and yet so undefined. It is its very
greatness which prevents it from being defined. We have done a little,
but we hand back many a problem to those who march behind us. They may
look upon our own most advanced speculation as elementary, and yet may
see vistas of thought before them which will stretch to the uttermost
bounds of their mental vision.




CHAPTER VI



FIRST DEVELOPMENTS IN AMERICA


Having dealt with the history of the Fox family and the problems which
that history raises, we shall now return to America and note the first
effects of this invasion from another sphere of being.

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

One of these, based on communications received through the mediumship of
Mrs. Benedict, was the Apostolic Circle. It was started by a small group
of men, strong believers in a second advent, who sought through spirit
communications to confirm that belief. They obtained what they
proclaimed to be communications from Apostles and prophets of the Bible.
In 1849 James L. Scott, a Seventh Day Baptist minister of Brooklyn,
joined this circle at Auburn, which now became known as the Apostolic
Movement, and its spiritual leader was said to be the Apostle Paul.
Scott was joined by the Rev. Thomas Lake Harris, and they established at
Mountain Cove the religious community which attracted a strong
following, until after some years their dupes became disillusioned and
deserted their autocratic leaders.

This man, Thomas Lake Harris, is certainly one of the most curious
personalities of whom we have any record, and it is hard to say whether
Jekyll or Hyde predominated in his character. He was compounded of
extremes, and everything which he did was outstanding for good or for
evil. He was originally a Universalist minister, whence he derived the
"Rev." which he long used as a prefix. He broke away from his
associates, adopted the teachings of Andrew Jackson Davis, became a
fanatical Spiritualist, and finally, as already stated, claimed to be
one of the autocratic rulers of the souls and purses of the colonists of
Mountain Cove. There came a time, however, when the said colonists
concluded that they were quite capable of looking after their own
affairs both spiritual and material, so Harris found his vocation gone.
He then came to New York and threw himself violently into the
Spiritualistic movement, preaching at Dodworth Hall, the head-quarters
of the cult, and gaining a great and deserved reputation for remarkable
eloquence. His megalomania-possibly an obsession-broke out once more,
and he made extravagant claims which the sane and sober Spiritualists
around him would not tolerate. There was one claim, however, which he
could go to some length in making good, and that 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," "The Morning Land," and others, which do occasionally touch
the stars. Piqued by the refusal of the New York Spiritualists to admit
his supernal claims, Harris then (1859) went to England, where he gained
fame by his eloquence, shown in lectures which consisted of
denunciations of his own former colleagues in New York. Each successive
step in the man's life was accompanied by a defilement of the last step
from which he had come.

In 1860, in London, Harris's life suddenly assumes a closer interest to
Britons, especially to those who have literary affinities. Harris
lectured at Steinway Hall, and while there Lady Oliphant listened to his
wild eloquence, and was so affected by it that she brought the American
preacher into touch with her son, Laurence Oliphant, one of the most
brilliant men of his generation. It is difficult to see where the
attraction lay, for the teaching of Harris at this stage had nothing
uncommon in its matter, save that he seems to have adopted the
Father-God and Mother-Nature idea which was thrown out by Davis.
Oliphant placed Harris high as a poet, referring to him as "the greatest
poet of the age as yet unknown to fame." Oliphant was no mean judge, and
yet in an age which included Tennyson, Longfellow, Browning, and so many
more, the phrase seems extravagant. The end of the whole episode was
that, after delays and vacillations, both mother and son surrendered
themselves entirely to Harris, and went forth to manual labour in a new
colony at Brocton in New York, where they remained in a condition which
was virtual slavery save that it was voluntary. Whether such
self-abnegation is saintly or idiotic is a question for the angels. It
certainly seems idiotic when we learn that Laurence Oliphant had the
greatest difficulty in getting leave to marry, and expressed humble
gratitude to the tyrant when he was at last allowed to do so. He was set
free to report the Franco-German War of 1870, which he did in the
brilliant manner that might be expected of him, and then he returned to
his servitude once more, one of his duties being to sell strawberries in
baskets to the passing trains, while he was arbitrarily separated from
his young wife, she being sent to Southern California and he retained at
Brocton. It was not until the year 1882, twenty years from his first
entanglement, that Oliphant, his mother being then dead, broke these
extraordinary bonds, and after a severe struggle, in the course of which
Harris took steps to have him incarcerated in an asylum, rejoined his
wife, recovered some of his property, and resumed his normal life. He
drew the prophet Harris in his book "Masollam," written in his later
years, and the result is so characteristic both of Oliphant's brilliant
word-painting and of the extraordinary man whom he painted, that the
reader will perhaps be glad to refer to it in the Appendix.

Such developments as Harris and others were only excrescences on the
main Spiritualistic movement, which generally speaking was sane and
progressive. The freaks stood in the way of its acceptance, however, as
the communistic or free love sentiments of some of these wild sects were
unscrupulously exploited by the opposition as being typical of the
whole.

We have seen that though the spiritual manifestations obtained wide
public notice through the Fox girls, they were known long before this.
To the pre ceding testimony to this effect we may add that of Judge
Edmonds, who says:* "It is about five years since the subject first
attracted public attention, though we discover now that for the previous
ten or twelve years there had been more or less of it in different parts
of the country, but it had been kept concealed, either from fear of
ridicule or from ignorance of what it was." This explains the surprising
number of mediums who began to be heard of immediately after the
publicity obtained through the Fox family. It was no new gift they
exhibited, it was only that their courageous action in making it widely
known made others come forward and confess that they possessed the same
power. Also this universal gift of mediumistic faculties now for the
first time began to be freely developed. The result was that mediums
were heard of in ever-increasing numbers. In April, 1849, manifestations
occurred in the family of the Rev. A. H. Jervis, the Methodist minister
of Rochester, in that of Mr. Lyman Granger, also of Rochester, and in
the home of Deacon Hale, in the neighbouring town of Greece. So, too,
six families in the adjoining town of Auburn began to develop
mediumship. In none of these cases had the Fox girls any connexion with
what took place. So these leaders simply blazed the trail along which
others followed.

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


Outstanding features of the next succeeding years were the rapid growth
of mediums on every side, and the conversion to a belief in Spiritualism
of great public men like Judge Edmonds, ex-Governor Tallmadge, Professor
Robert Hare, and Professor Mapes. The public support of such well-known
men gave enormous publicity to the subject, while at the same time it
increased the virulence of the opposition, which now perceived it had to
deal with more than a handful of silly, deluded people. Men such as
these could command a hearing in the Press of the day. There was also a
change in the character of the spiritual phenomena. In the years 1851-2
Mrs. Hayden and D. D. Home were instrumental in making many converts. We
shall have more to say about these mediums in later chapters.

In a communication addressed "To the Public," published in the NEW YORK
COURIER and dated New York, August 1, 1853, Judge Edmonds, a man of high
character and clear intellect, gave a convincing account of his own
experience. It is a curious thing that the United States, which at that
time gave conspicuous evidence of moral courage in its leading citizens,
has seemed to fall behind in recent years in this respect, for the
author in his recent journeys there found many who were aware of psychic
truth and yet shrank in the face of a jeering Press from publishing
their convictions.

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

It was January 1851 that my attention was first called to the subject of
"spiritual intercourse." I was at the time withdrawn from general
society; I was labouring under great depression of spirits. I was
occupying all my leisure in reading on the subject of death and man's
existence afterward. I had, in the course of my life, read and heard
from the pulpit so many contradictory and conflicting doctrines on the
subject, that I hardly knew what to believe. I could not, if I would,
believe what I did not understand, and was anxiously seeking to know,
if, after death, we should again meet with those whom we had loved here,
and under what circumstances. I was invited by a friend to witness the
"Rochester Knockings." I complied more to oblige her, and to while away
a tedious hour. I thought a good deal on what I witnessed, and I
determined to investigate the matter and find out what it was. If it was
a deception, or a delusion, I thought that I could detect it. For about
four months I devoted at least two evenings in a week and sometimes more
to witnessing the phenomena in all its phases. I kept careful records of
all I witnessed, and from time to time compared them with each other, to
detect inconsistencies and contradictions. I read all I could lay my
hands on on the subject, and especially all the professed "exposures of
the humbug." I went from place to place, seeing different mediums,
meeting with different parties of persons-often with persons whom I had
never seen before, and sometimes where I was myself entirely
unknown-sometimes in the dark and sometimes in the light-often with
inveterate unbelievers, and more frequently with zealous believers.

In fine, I availed myself of every opportunity that was afforded,
thoroughly to sift the matter to the bottom. I was all this time an
unbeliever, and tried the patience of believers sorely by my scepticism,
my captiousness, and my obdurate refusal to yield my belief. I saw
around me some who yielded a ready faith on one or two sittings only;
others again, under the same circumstances, avowing a determined
unbelief; and some who refused to witness it at all, and yet were
confirmed unbelievers. I could not imitate either of these parties, and
refused to yield unless upon most irrefragable testimony. At length the
evidence came, and in such force that no sane man could withhold his
faith.

It will thus be seen that this, the earliest outstanding convert to the
new revelation, took the utmost pains before he allowed the evidence to
convince him of the validity of the claims of the spirit. General
experience shows that a facile acceptance of these claims is very rare
among earnest thinkers, and that there is hardly any prominent
Spiritualist whose course of study and reflection has not involved a
novitiate of many years. This forms a striking contrast to those
negative opinions which are founded upon initial prejudice and the
biased or scandalous accounts of partisan authors.

Judge Edmonds, in the excellent summary of his position given in the
article already quoted-an article which should have converted the whole
American people had they been ready for assimilation-proceeds to show
the solid basis of his beliefs. He points out that he was never alone
when these manifestations occurred, and that he had many witnesses. He
also shows the elaborate precautions which he took:

After depending upon my senses, as to these various phases of the
phenomenon, I invoked the aid of science, and, with the assistance of an
accomplished electrician and his machinery, and eight or ten
intelligent, educated, shrewd persons, examined the matter. We pursued
our inquiries many days, and established to our satisfaction two things:
first, that the sounds were not produced by the agency of any person
present or near us; and, second, that they were not forthcoming at our
will and pleasure.

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

While these things were going on, there appeared in the newspapers
various explanations and "exposures of the humbug," as they were termed.
I read them with care, in the expectation of being assisted in my
researches, and I could not but smile at once at the rashness and the
futility of the explanations. For instance, while certain learned
professors in Buffalo were congratulating themselves on having detected
it in the toe and knee joints, the manifestations in this city changed
to ringing a bell placed under the table. They were like the solution
lately given by a learned professor in England, who attributes the
tipping of tables to a force in the hands which are laid upon them,
overlooking the material fact that tables quite as frequently move when
there is no hand upon them.

Having dealt with the objectivity of the phenomena, the judge next
touched upon the more important question of their source. He commented
upon the fact that he had answers to mental questions and found that his
own secret thoughts were revealed, and that purposes 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 these languages.

This drives him to the consideration of whether these things may not be
explained as the reflection of the mind of some other living human
being. These considerations have been exhausted by every inquirer in
turn, for Spiritualists do not accept their creed in one bound, but make
the journey step by step, with much timid testing of the path. Judge
Edmonds's epitome of his course is but that which many others have
followed. He gives the following reasons for negativing this question of
other human minds:

Facts were communicated which were unknown then, but afterward found to
be true; like this, for instance when I was absent last winter in
Central America, my friends in town heard of my whereabouts and of the
state of my health seven times; and on my return, by comparing their
information with the entries in my journal it was found to be invariably
correct. So, in my recent visit to the West my whereabouts and my
condition were told to a medium in this city, while I was travelling on
the railroad between Cleveland and Toledo. So thoughts have been uttered
on subjects not then in my mind, and utterly at variance with 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 that gave 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 the general lines
with which it is defined in a subsequent chapter of this work. Judge
Edmonds's brain was indeed a remarkable one, and his judgment clear, for
there is very little which we can add to his statement, and perhaps it
has never been so well expressed in so small a compass. As we point to
it one can claim that Spiritualism has been consistent from the first,
and that the teachers and guides have not mixed their message. It is a
strange and an amusing reflection that the arrogant science which
endeavoured by its mere word and glare to crush this upstart knowledge
in 1850 has been proved to be essentially wrong on its own ground. There
are hardly any scientific axioms of that day, the finality of the
element, the indivisibility of the atom, the separate origin of species,
which have not been controverted, whereas the psychic knowledge which
was so derided has steadily held its own, adding fresh facts but never
contradicting those which were originally put forward.

Writing of the beneficent effects of this knowledge the judge says:

There is that which comforts the mourner and binds up the
broken-hearted; that which smooths the passage to the grave and robs
death of its terrors; that which enlightens the atheist and cannot but
reform the vicious; that which cheers and encourages the virtuous amid
all the trials and vicissitudes of life; and that which demonstrates to
man his duty and his destiny, 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 remarkable document which
causes some sadness. Speaking of the progress which the movement had
made within four years in the United States, he says: "There are ten or
twelve newspapers and periodicals devoted to the cause and the spiritual
library embraces more than one hundred different publications, some of
which have already attained a circulation of more than 10,000 copies.
Besides the undistinguished multitude there are many men of high
standing and talent ranked among them-doctors, lawyers, and clergymen in
great numbers, a Protestant bishop, the learned and reverend president
of a college, judges of our higher courts, members of Congress, foreign
ambassadors and ex-members of the United States Senate." In four years
the spirit force had done as much as this. How does the matter stand
to-day? The "undistinguished multitude" has carried bravely on and the
hundred publications have grown into many more, but where are the men of
light and leading who point the path? Since the death of Professor
Hyslop it is difficult to point to one man of eminence in the United
States who is ready to stake his career and reputation upon the issue.
Those who would have never feared the tyranny of man have shrank from
the cat-calling of the public Press. The printing-machine has succeeded
where the rack would have failed. The worldly loss in reputation and in
business sustained by Judge Edmonds himself, who had to resign his seat
upon the Supreme Court of New York, and by many others who testified to
the truth, established a reign of terror which warns the intellectual
classes from the subject. So the matter stands at present.

But the Press, for the moment, was well-disposed and Judge Edmonds's
famous summing-up, perhaps the finest and most momentous that any judge
has ever delivered, met with respect, if not with concurrence. The NEW
YORK COURIER wrote:

The letter from Judge Edmonds, published by us on Saturday, with regard
to the so-called spiritual manifestations, coming as it did from an
eminent jurist, a man remarkable for his clear common sense in the
practical affairs of life, and a gentleman of irreproachable character,
arrested the attention of the community, and is regarded by many persons
as one of the most remarkable documents of the day.

The New York EVENING MIRROR said:

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

The experience of Dr. Robert Hare, Professor of Chemistry in the
University of Pennsylvania, is also of interest, because he was one of
the first eminent men of science who, setting out to expose the delusion
of Spiritualism, became finally a firm believer. It was in 1853 that, in
his own words, he "felt called upon, as an act of duty to his fellow
creatures, to bring whatever influence he possessed to the attempt to
stem the tide of popular madness which, in defiance of reason and
science, was fast setting in favour of the gross delusion called
Spiritualism." A denunciatory letter of his published in the newspapers
of Philadelphia, where he lived, was copied by other newspapers all over
the country, and it was made the text of numerous sermons. But, as with
Sir William Crookes many years later, the jubilation was premature.
Professor Hare, though a strong sceptic, was induced to experiment for
himself, and after a period of careful testing he became entirely
convinced of the spiritual origin of the manifestations. Like Crookes,
he devised apparatus for use with mediums. Mr. S. B. Brittan, editor of
THE SPIRITUAL TELEGRAPH, gives the following condensed account of some
of Hare's experiments:

First, to satisfy himself that the movements were not the works of
mortals, he took brass billiard balls, placed them on zinc plates and
placed the hands of the mediums on the balls and, to his very great
astonishment the tables moved. He next arranged a table to slide
backward and forward, to which attachments were made, causing a disc to
revolve containing the alphabet, HIDDEN FROM THE VIEW OF THE MEDIUMS.
The letters were variously arranged, out of their regular consecutive
order, and the spirit was required to place them consecutively or in
their regular places. And behold, it was done! Then followed intelligent
sentences which the medium could not see or know the import of till they
were told him.

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

Professor Hare embodied his careful researches and his views on
Spiritualism in an important book published in New York in 1855,
entitled "Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations." In
this (p. 55) he sums up the results of his early experiments as follows:

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

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

Again, cases in which movements have been made of ponderable bodies of a
nature to produce intellectual communications resembling those obtained,
as abovementioned, by sounds.

Although the apparatus by which these various proofs were attained WITH
THE GREATEST POSSIBLE PRECAUTION AND PRECISION, modified them as to the
manner, essentially all the evidence which I have obtained tending to
the conclusions above mentioned, has likewise been substantially
obtained by a great number of observers. Many who never sought any
spiritual communication and have not been induced to enroll themselves
as Spiritualists, will nevertheless not only affirm the existence of the
sounds and movements, but also admit their inscrutability.

Mr. James J. Mapes, LL.D., of New York, an agricultural chemist and
member of various learned societies, commenced his investigation 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 scientific answers to his questions. He ended by
becoming a thorough believer, and his wife, who had no artistic talent,
became a drawing and painting medium. His daughter had, unknown to him,
become a writing medium, and when she spoke to him about this
development he asked her to give him an exhibition of her power. She
took a pen and rapidly wrote what professed to be a message from
Professor Mapes's father. The Professor asked for a proof of identity.
His daughter's hand at once wrote: "You may recollect that I gave you,
among other books, an Encyclopaedia; look at page 120 of that book, and
you will find my name written there, which you have never seen." The
book referred to was stored with others at a warehouse. When Professor
Mapes opened the case, which had been undisturbed for twenty-seven
years, to his astonishment he found his father's name written on page
120. It was this incident which first led him to make a serious
investigation, for, like his friend Professor Hare, he had up till that
time been a strong materialist.

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

*See Capron, "Modern Spiritualism," pp. 359-363.

** "Modern Spiritualism," p. 375.  "Modern Spiritualism," p. 197.

It is not probable that any of the memorialists expected more favourable
treatment than they received. The carpenters and fishermen of the world
are the ones to investigate new truths and make Senates and Crowns
believe and respect them. It is in vain to look for the reception or
respect of new truths by men in high places.

The first regular Spiritualist organization was formed in New York on
June 10, 1854. It was entitled the "Society for the Diffusion of
Spiritual Knowledge," and included among its members such prominent
people as Judge Edmonds and Governor Tallmadge, of Wisconsin.

Among the activities of the society was the establishment of a newspaper
called The Christian Spiritualist, and the engagement of Miss Kate Fox
to hold daily seances, to which the public were admitted free each
morning from ten till one o'clock.

Writing in 1855 Capron says:

It would be impossible to state particulars in regard to the spread of
Spiritualism in New York up to the present time. It has become diffused
throughout the city, and has almost ceased to be a curiosity or a wonder
to any. Public meetings are regularly held, and the investigation is
constantly going on, but the days of excitement on the subject have
passed away, and all parties look upon it as, at least, something more
than a mere trick. It is true that religious bigotry denounces it, but
without disputing the occurrences, and occasionally a pretended expose'
is made for purposes of speculation; but the fact of spiritual
intercourse has become an acknowledged fact in the Empire city.

Perhaps the most significant fact of the period we have been considering
was the development of mediumship in prominent people, as, for instance,
Judge Edmonds and Professor Hare. The latter writes*:

* "Experimental Investigation of the Spirit Manifestations," p. 54.

Having latterly acquired the powers of a medium in a sufficient degree
to interchange ideas with my spirit friends, I am no longer under the
necessity of defending media from the charge of falsehood and deception.
It is now my own character only that can be in question.

Thus, dismissing the Fox girls from the field altogether, we have the
private mediumship of Rev. A. H. Jervis, Deacon Hale, Lyman Granger,
Judge Edmonds, Professor Hare, Mrs. Mapes, Miss Mapes, 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 great number of
individual cases of mediumship, some of them most dramatic and
interesting, which occurred during this first period of demonstration.
The reader is referred to Mrs. Hardinge Britten's two important
compilations, "Modern American Spiritualism" and "Nineteenth Century
Miracles," books which will always be a most valuable record of early
days. The series of phenomenal cases was so great that Mrs. Britten has
counted over five thousand separate instances recorded in the Press in
the first few years, which probably represents some hundreds of
thousands not so recorded. Religion so-called and Science so-called
united for once in an unholy attempt to misrepresent and persecute the
new truth and its supporters, while the Press unfortunately found that
its interest lay in playing up to the prejudices of the majority of its
subscribers. It was easy to do this, for naturally, in so vital and
compelling a movement, there were some who became fanatical, some who
threw discredit upon their opinions by their actions, and some who took
advantage of the general interest to imitate, with more or less success,
the real gifts of the spirit. These fraudulent rascals were sometimes
mere cold-blooded swindlers, and sometimes seem to have been real
mediums whose psychic power had for a time deserted them. There were
scandals and exposures, some real and some pretended. These exposures
were then, as now, due often to the Spiritualists themselves, who
strongly objected to their sacred ceremonies being a screen for the
hypocrisies and blasphemies of those villains who, like human hyenas,
tried to make a fraudulent living out of the dead. The general result
was to take the edge off the first fine enthusiasm, and to set back the
acceptance of what was true by an eternal harping on what was false.

The brave report of Professor Hare led to a disgraceful persecution of
that venerable savant, who was at that moment, with the exception of
Agassiz, the best-known man of science in America. The professors of
Harvard-a university which has a most unenviable record in psychic
matters-passed a resolution denouncing him and his "insane adherence to
a gigantic humbug." He could not lose his professorial chair at
Pennsylvania University because that had been already resigned, but he
suffered much in loss of reputation.

The crowning and most absurd instance of scientific intolerance-an
intolerance which has always been as violent and unreasonable as that of
the mediaeval Church-was shown by the American Scientific Association.
This learned body howled down Professor Hare when he attempted to
address them, and put it on record that the subject was unworthy of
their attention. It was remarked, however, by the Spiritualists, that
the same society at the same session held an animated debate as to why
cocks crow between twelve and one at night, coming finally to the
conclusion that at that particular hour a wave of electricity passes
over the earth from north to south, and that the fowls, disturbed out of
their slumbers and "being naturally of a crowing disposition," register
the event in this fashion. It had not then been learned-and perhaps it
has hardly been learned yet-that a man, or a body of men, may be very
wise upon those subjects on which they are experts, and yet show an
extraordinary want of common sense when faced with a new proposition
which calls for a complete readjustment of ideas. British science and,
indeed, science the whole world over, have shown the same intolerance
and want of elasticity which marked those 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 are interested can
always follow them in her pages. Some notes about Mrs. Britten herself
may, however, be fitly introduced at this place, for no history of
Spiritualism could be complete without an account of this remarkable
woman who has been called the female St. Paul of the movement. She was a
young Englishwoman who had gone to New York with a theatrical company,
and had then, with her mother, remained in America. Being strictly
Evangelical she was much repelled by what she considered the unorthodox
views of Spiritualists, and fled in horror from her first seance. Later,
in 1856, she was again brought into contact with the subject and
received proofs which made it impossible for her to doubt its truth. She
soon discovered that she was herself a powerful medium, and one of the
best attested and most sensational cases in the early history of the
movement was that in which she received intimation that the mail steamer
PACIFIC had gone down in mid-Atlantic with all souls, and was threatened
with prosecution by the owners of the boat for repeating what had been
told her by the returning spirit of one of the crew. The information
proved to be only too true, and the vessel was never heard of again.

Mrs. Emma Hardinge-who became, by a second marriage, Mrs. Hardinge
Britten-threw her whole enthusiastic temperament into the young movement
and left a mark upon it which is still visible. She was an ideal
propagandist, for she combined every gift. She was a strong medium, an
orator, a writer, a well-balanced thinker and a hardy traveller. Year
after year she travelled the length and breadth of the United States
proclaiming the new doctrine amid much opposition, for she was militant
and anti-Christian in the views which she professed to get straight from
her spirit guides. As these views were, however, that the morals of the
Churches were far too lax and that a higher standard was called for, it
is not likely that the Founder of Christianity would have been among her
critics. These opinions of Mrs. Hardinge Britten had more to do with the
broadly Unitarian view of the official Spiritualist bodies, which still
exists, than any other cause.

In 1866 she returned to England, where she worked indefatigably,
producing her two great chronicles, "Modern American Spiritualism" and,
later, "Nineteenth Century Miracles," both of which show an amazing
amount of research together with a very clear and logical mind. In 1870
she married Dr. Britten, as strong a Spiritualist as herself. The
marriage seems to have been an ideally happy one. In 1878 they went
together as missionaries for Spiritualism to Australia and New Zealand,
and stayed there for several years, founding various churches and
societies which the author found still holding their own when he visited
the Antipodes forty years later upon the same errand. While in Australia
she wrote her "Faiths, Facts and Frauds of Religious History," a book
which still influences many minds. There was at that time undoubtedly a
close connexion between the free thought movement and the new spirit
revelation. The Hon. Robert Stout, Attorney-General of New Zealand, was
both President of the Free Thought Association and an ardent
Spiritualist. It is more clearly understood now, however, that spirit
intercourse and teaching are too wide to be fitted into any system,
whether negative or positive, and that it is possible for a Spiritualist
to profess any creed so long as he has the essentials of reverence to
the unseen and unselfishness to those around him.

Among other monuments of her energy, Mrs. Hardinge Britten founded THE
TWO WORLDS of Manchester, which has still as large a circulation as any
Spiritualistic paper in the world. She passed onwards in 1899, having
left her mark deep upon the religious life of three continents.

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

Judge Edmonds was pointed at in the streets as a crazy Spiritualist.
Wealthy merchants were compelled to assert their claims to be considered
sane and maintain their commercial rights by the most firm and
determined action. Professional men and tradesmen were reduced to the
limits of ruin, and a relentless persecution, originated by the Press
and maintained by the pulpit, directed the full flow of its evil tides
against the cause and its representatives. Many of the houses where
circles were being held were disturbed by crowds who would gather
together after nightfall and with yells, cries, whistles and occasional
breaking of windows try to molest the quiet investigators in their
unholy work of "waking the dead," as one of the papers piously
denominated the act of seeking for the "Ministry of Angels."

Passing the smaller ebb and flow of the movement, the rising of new true
mediums, the exposure of occasional false ones, the committees of
inquiry (negatived often by the want of perception of the inquirers that
a psychic circle depends for success upon the psychic condition of all
its members), the development of fresh phenomena and the conversion of
new initiates, there are a few outstanding incidents of those early days
which should be particularly noted. Prominent among them is the
mediumship of D. D. Home, and of the two Davenport boys, which form such
important episodes, and attracted public attention to such a degree and
for so long a time, that they are treated in separate chapters. There
are, however, certain lesser mediumships which call for a shorter
notice.

One of these was that of Linton, the blacksmith, a man who was quite
illiterate and yet, like A. J. Davis, wrote a remarkable book under
alleged spirit control. This book of 530 pages, called "The Healing of
the Nations," is certainly a remarkable production whatever its source,
and it is obviously impossible that it could have been normally produced
by such an author. It is adorned by a very long preface from the pen of
Governor Tallmadge, which shows that the worthy senator was no mean
student of antiquity. The case from the point of view of the classics
and the early Church has seldom been better stated.

In 1857 Harvard University again made itself notorious by the
persecution and expulsion of a student named Fred Willis, for the
practice of medium ship. It would almost seem that the spirit of Cotton
Mather and the old witch-finders of Salem had descended upon the great
Boston seat of learning, for in those early days it was constantly at
issue with those unseen forces which no one can hope to conquer. This
matter began by an intemperate attempt upon the part of a Professor
Eustis to prove that Willis was fraudulent, whereas all the evidence
shows clearly that he was a true sensitive, who shrank greatly from any
public use of his powers. The matter caused considerable excitement and
scandal at the time. This and other cases of hard usage may be cited,
but it must nevertheless be acknowledged that the hope of gain on the
one hand, and the mental effervescence caused by so terrific a
revelation on the other, did at this period lead to a degree of
dishonesty in some so-called mediums, and to fanatical excesses and
grotesque assertions in others, which held back that immediate success
which the more sane and steady Spiritualists expected and deserved.

One curious phase of mediumship which attracted much attention was that
of a farmer, Jonathan Koons and his family, living in a wild district of
Ohio. The phenomena obtained by the Eddy brothers are discussed at some
length in a subsequent chapter, and as those of the Koons family were
much on the same lines they need not be treated in detail. The use of
musical instruments came largely into the demonstrations of spirit
force, and the Koons's log-house became celebrated through all the
adjoining states-so celebrated that it was constantly crowded, although
it was situated some seventy miles from the nearest town. It would
appear to have been a case of true physical mediumship of a crude
quality, as might be expected where a rude uncultured farmer was the
physical centre of it. Many investigations were held, but the facts
always remained untouched by criticism. Eventually, however, Koons and
his family were driven from their home by the persecution of the
ignorant people among whom they lived. The rude open-air life of the
farmer seems to be particularly adapted to the development of strong
physical mediumship. It was in an American farmer's household that it
first developed, and Koons in Ohio, the Eddys in Vermont, Foss in
Massachusetts, and many others, have shown the same powers.

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

The young lady was a powerful trance medium, and she visited Washington
in the winter of 1862 in order to see her brother who was in the
hospital of the Federal Army. Mrs. Lincoln, the wife of the President,
who was interested in Spiritualism, had a sitting with Miss Colburn, was
enormously impressed by the result, and sent a carriage next day to
bring the medium to see the President. She describes the kindly way in
which the great man received her in the parlour of the White House, and
mentions the names of those who were present. She sat down, passed into
the 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 matters that he seemed fully to
understand, while they comprehended very little until that portion was
reached that related to the forthcoming Emancipation Proclamation. He
was charged with the utmost solemnity and force of manner not to abate
the terms of its issue and not to delay its enforcement as a law beyond
the opening of the year; and he was assured that it was to be the
crowning event of his administration and his life; and that while he was
being counselled by strong parties to defer the enforcement of it,
hoping to supplant it by other measures and to delay action, he must in
no wise heed such counsel, but stand firm to his convictions and
fearlessly perform the work and fulfil the mission for which he had been
raised up by an overruling Providence. Those present declared that they
lost sight of the timid girl in the majesty of the utterance, the
strength and force of the language, and the importance of that which was
conveyed, and seemed to realize that some strong masculine spirit force
was giving speech to almost divine commands.

I shall never forget the scene around me when I regained consciousness.
I was standing in front of Mr. Lincoln, and he was sitting back in his
chair, with his arms folded upon his breast, looking intently at me. I
stepped back, naturally confused at the situation-not remembering at
once where I was; 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 of address?" Mr. Lincoln raised
himself, as if shaking off his spell. He glanced quickly at the
full-length portrait of Daniel Webster that hung above the piano, and
replied: "Yes, and it is very singular, very!" with a marked emphasis.

Mr. Somes said: "Mr. President, would it be improper for me to inquire
whether there has been any pressure brought to bear upon you to defer
the enforcement of the Proclamation?" To which the President replied
"Under these circumstances that question is perfectly proper, as we are
all friends." (Smiling upon the company). "It is taking all my nerve and
strength to withstand such a pressure." At this point the gentlemen drew
around him and spoke together in low tones, Mr. Lincoln saying least of
all. At last he turned to me, and laying his hand upon my head, uttered
these words in a manner I shall never forget. "My child, you possess a
very singular gift, but that it is of God I have no doubt. I thank you
for coming here to-night. It is more important than perhaps anyone
present can understand. I must leave you all now, but I hope I shall see
you again." He shook me kindly by the hand, bowed to the rest of the
company, and was gone. We remained an hour longer, talking with Mrs.
Lincoln and her friends, and then returned to Georgetown. Such was my
first interview with Abraham Lincoln, and the memory of it is as clear
and vivid as the evening on which it occurred.

This was one of the most important instances in the history of
Spiritualism, and may also have been one of the most important in the
history of the United States, as it not only strengthened the President
in taking a step which raised the whole moral tone of the Northern
armies and put something of the crusading spirit into the men, but a
subsequent message urged Lincoln to visit the camps, which he did with
the best effect upon the MORALE of the army. And yet the reader might, I
fear, search every history of the great struggle and every life of the
President without finding a mention of this vital episode. It is all
part of that unfair treatment which Spiritualism has endured so long.

It is impossible that the United States, if it appreciated the truth,
would allow the cult which proved its value at the darkest moment of its
history to be persecuted and repressed by ignorant policemen and bigoted
magistrates in the way which is now so common, or that the Press should
continue to make mock of the movement which produced the Joan of Arc of
their country.




CHAPTER VII



THE DAWN IN ENGLAND


The early Spiritualists have frequently been compared with the early
Christians, and there are indeed many points of resemblance. In one
respect, however, the Spiritualists had an advantage. The women of the
older dispensation did their part nobly, living as saints and dying as
martyrs, but they did not figure as preachers and missionaries. Psychic
power and psychic knowledge are, however, as great in one sex as in
another, and therefore many of the great pioneers of the spiritual
revelation were women. Especially may this be claimed for Emma Hardinge
Britten, one whose name will grow more famous as the years roll by.
There have, however, been several other women missionaries outstanding,
and the most important of these from the British point of view is Mrs.
Hayden, who first in the year 1852 brought the new phenomena to these
shores. We had of old the Apostles of religious faith. Here at last was
an apostle of religious fact.

Mrs. Hayden was a remarkable woman as well as an excellent medium. She
was the wife of a respectable New England journalist who accompanied her
in her mission, which had been organized by one 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 her manners." Her British
critic added:

She disarmed suspicion by the unaffected artlessness of her address, and
many who came to amuse themselves at her expense were shamed into
respect and even cordiality by the patience and good temper which she
displayed. The impression invariably left by an interview with her was
that if, as Mr. Dickens contended, the phenomena developed by her were
attributed to art, she herself was the most perfect artist, as far as
acting went, that had ever presented herself before the public.

The ignorant British Press treated Mrs. Hayden as a common American
adventuress. Her real mental calibre, however, may be judged from the
fact that some years later, after her return to the United States, Mrs.
Hayden graduated as a doctor of medicine and practised for fifteen
years. Dr. James Rodes Buchanan, the famous pioneer in psychometry,
speaks of her as "one of the most skilful and successful physicians I
have ever known." She was offered a medical professorship in an American
college, and was employed by the Globe Insurance Company in protecting
the company against losses in insurance on lives. A feature of her
success was what Buchanan describes as her psychometric genius. He adds
a unique tribute to the effect that her name was almost forgotten at the
Board of Health because for years she had not a single death to report.

This sequel, however, was beyond the knowledge of the sceptics of 1852,
and they cannot be blamed for insisting that these strange claims of
other-world intervention should be tested with the utmost rigour before
they could be admitted. No one could contest this critical attitude. But
what does seem strange is that a proposition which, if true, would
involve such glad tidings as the piercing of the wall of death and a
true communion of the saints, should arouse not sober criticism, however
exacting, but a storm of insult and abuse, inexcusable at any time, but
particularly so when directed against a lady who was a visitor in our
midst. Mrs. Hardinge Britten says that Mrs. Hayden no 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 and humiliating to the boasted liberalism and
scientific acumen of their age. She added that her gentle womanly spirit
must have been deeply pained, and the harmony of mind so essential to
the production of good psychological results constantly destroyed, by
the cruel and insulting treatment she received at the hands of many of
those who came, pretending to be investigators, but in reality burning
to thwart her, and laying traps to falsify the truths 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 antagonism brought 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 this irrational
hostility, which in a diluted form we still see around us. Brave men
arose who were not afraid to imperil their worldly career, or even their
reputation for sanity, by championing an unpopular cause with no
possible motive save the love of truth and that sense of chivalry which
revolted at the persecution of a woman. Dr. Ashburner, one of the Royal
physicians, and Sir Charles Isham, were among those who defended the
medium in the public Press.

Mrs. Hayden's mediumship seems, when judged by modern standards, to have
been strictly limited in type. Save for the raps, we hear little of
physical phenomena, nor is there any question of lights,
materializations or Direct Voices. In harmonious company, however, the
answers as furnished by raps were very accurate and convincing. Like all
true mediums, she was sensitive to discord in her surroundings, with the
result that the contemptible crew of practical jokers and ill-natured
researchers who visited her found her a ready victim. Deceit is repaid
by deceit and the fool is answered according to his folly, though the
intelligence behind the words seems to care little for the fact that the
passive instrument employed may be held accountable for the answer.
These pseudo-researchers filled the Press with their humorous accounts
of how they had deceived the spirits, when as a fact they had rather
deceived themselves. George Henry Lewes, afterwards consort of George
Eliot, was one of these cynical investigators. He recounts with glee how
he had asked the control in writing: "Is Mrs. Hayden an impostor?" to
which the control rapped out: "Yes." Lewes was dishonest enough to quote
this afterwards as being a confession of guilt from Mrs. Hayden. One
would rather draw from it the inference that the raps were entirely
independent of the medium, and also that questions asked in a spirit of
pure frivolity met with no serious reply.

It is, however, by the positives and not by the negatives that such
questions must be judged, and the author must here use quotations to a
larger extent than is his custom, for in no other way can one bring home
how those seeds were first planted in England 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 of his actual words. He says*:

* THE LEADER, March 14, 1853.  June 1 and 8, 1853.

Sex ought to have protected her from injury, if you gentlemen of the
Press have no regard to the hospitable feelings due to one of your own
cloth, for Mrs. Hayden is the wife of a former editor and proprietor of
a journal in Boston having a most extensive circulation in New England.
I declare to you that Mrs. Hayden is no impostor, and he who has the
daring to come to an opposite conclusion must do so at the peril of his
character for truth.

Again, in a long letter to THE REASONER, after admitting that he
visited the medium in a thoroughly incredulous frame of mind, expecting
to witness "the same class of transparent absurdities" he had previously
encountered with other so-called mediums, Ashburner writes: "As for Mrs.
Hayden, I have so strong a conviction of her perfect honesty that I
marvel at anyone who could deliberately accuse her of fraud," and at the
same time he gives detailed accounts of veridical communications he
received.

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

Ten years ago Mrs. Hayden, the well-known American medium, came to my
house ALONE. The sitting began immediately after her arrival. Eight or
nine persons of all ages, and of all degrees of belief and unbelief in
the whole thing being imposture, were present. The raps began in the
usual way. They were to my ear clean, clear, faint sounds such as would
be said to ring, had they lasted. I likened them at the time to the
noise which the ends of knitting-needles would make, if dropped from a
small distance upon a marble slab, and instantly checked by a damper of
some kind; and subsequent trial showed that my description was tolerably
accurate…. At a late period in the evening, after nearly three hours of
experiment, Mrs. Hayden having risen, and talking at another table while
taking refreshment, a child suddenly called out, "Will all the spirits
who have been here this evening rap together?" The words were no sooner
uttered than a hailstorm of knitting-needles was heard, crowded into
certainly less than two seconds; the big needle sounds of the men, and
the little ones of the women and children, being clearly
distinguishable, but perfectly disorderly in their arrival.

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

On being asked to put a question to the first spirit, I begged that I
might be allowed to put my question mentally-that is, without speaking
it, or writing it, or pointing it out to myself on an alphabet-and that
Mrs. Hayden might hold both arms extended while the answer was in
progress. Both demands were instantly granted by a couple of raps. I put
the question and desired the answer might be in one word, which I
assigned; all mentally.

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

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

Presently came MY FATHER (OB., 1816), and after some conversation I went
on as follows:

"Do you remember a periodical I have in my head?" "Yes." "Do you
remember the epithets therein applied to yourself?" "Yes." "Will you
give me the initials of them by the card?" "Yes." I then began pointing
to the alphabet, with a book to conceal the card, Mrs. H. being at the
opposite side of a round table (large), and a bright lamp between us. I
pointed letter by letter till I came to F, which I thought should be the
first initial. No rapping. The people round me said, "You have passed
it; there was a rapping at the beginning." I went back and heard the
rapping distinctly at C. This puzzled me, but in a moment I saw what it
was. The sentence was begun by the rapping agency earlier than I
intended. I allowed C to pass, and then got D T F O C, being the
initials of the consecutive words which I remembered to have been
applied to my father in an old review published in 1817, which no one in
the room had ever heard of but myself. C D T F O C was all right, and
when I got so far I gave it up, perfectly satisfied that something, or
somebody, or some spirit, was reading my thoughts. This and the like
went on for nearly three hours, during a great part of which Mrs. H. was
busy reading the "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," which she had never seen
before, and I assure you she set to it with just as much avidity as you
may suppose an American lady would who saw it for the first time, while
we were amusing ourselves with the raps in our own way. All this I
declare to be literally true. Since that time I have seen it in my house
frequently, various persons presenting themselves. The answers are given
mostly by the table, on which a hand or two is gently placed, tilting up
at the letters. There is much which is confused in the answers, but
every now and then comes 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 many other
persons are as cognizant of these phenomena in their own houses as
myself. Make what you can of it if you are a philosopher.

When Professor De Morgan says that some spirit was reading his thoughts,
he omits to observe that the incident of the first letter was evidence
of something that was not in his mind. Also, from Mrs. Hayden's attitude
throughout the seance, it is clear that it was her atmosphere rather
than her actual conscious personality which was concerned. Some further
important evidence from the De Morgans is relegated to the Appendix.

Mrs. Fitzgerald, a well-known figure in the early days of Spiritualism
in London, gives, in THE SPIRITUALIST of November 22, 1878, the
following very striking experience with Mrs. Hayden:

My first introduction to Spiritualism commenced at the time of the first
visit of the well-known medium, Mrs. Hayden, to this country nearly
thirty years ago. I was invited to meet her at a party given by a friend
in Wimpole Street, London. Having made a pre-engagement for that
evening, which I could not avoid, I arrived late, after what appeared an
extraordinary scene, of which they were all talking with great
animation. My look of blank disappointment was noticed, and Mrs. Hayden,
whom I then met for the first time, came most kindly forward, expressed
her regrets, and suggested that I should sit at a small table by myself
apart from the others, and she would ask the spirits if they would
communicate with me. All this appeared so new and surprising I scarcely
understood what she was talking about, or what I had to expect. She
placed before me a printed alphabet, a pencil, and a piece of paper.
Whilst she was in the act of doing this, I felt extraordinarily rappings
all over the table, the vibrations from which I could feel on the sole
of my foot as it rested against the table's leg. She then directed me to
note down each letter at which I heard a distinct rap, and with this
short explanation she left me to myself. I pointed as desired-a distinct
rap came at the letter E-others followed, and a name that I could not
fail to recognize was spelt out. The date of death was given, which I
had not before known, and a message added which brought back to my
memory the almost last dying words of an old friend-namely, "I shall
watch over you." And then the recollection of the whole scene was
brought vividly before me. I confess I was startled and somewhat awed.

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

It is interesting to note that Mrs. Fitzgerald stated that she believed
that Mrs. Hayden's first seance in England was held with Lady
Combermere, her son, Major Cotton, and Mr. Henry Thompson, of York.

In the same volume of THE SPIRITUALIST (p. 264) there appears an account
of a seance with Mrs. Hayden, taken from the life of Charles Young, the
well-known tragedian, written by his son, the Rev. Julian Young:

1853, APRIL 19TH. I went up to London this day for the purpose of
consulting my lawyers on a subject of some importance to myself, and
having heard much of a Mrs. Hayden, an American lady, as a spiritual
medium, I resolved, as I was in town, to discover her whereabouts, and
judge of her gifts for myself. Accidentally meeting an old friend, Mr.
H., I asked him 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 her
company, and had a great wish to see her, and yet was unwilling to pay
his guinea for the treat, I offered to frank him, if he would go with
me. He did so gladly. Spirit-rapping has been so common since 1853 that
I should irritate my reader's patience by describing the conventional
mode of communicating between the living and the dead. Since the above
date I have seen very much of spirit-rapping; and though my organs of
wonder are largely developed, and I have a weakness for the mystic and
supernatural, yet I cannot say that I have ever witnessed any spiritual
phenomena which were not explicable on natural grounds, except in the
instance I am about to give, in which collusion appeared to be out of
the question, the friend who accompanied me never having seen Mrs.
Hayden, and she knowing neither his name nor mine. The following
dialogue took place between Mrs. H. and myself:

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

J. C. Y.: Yes.

Mrs. H.: Be pleased then to ask your questions in the manner prescribed
by the formula, and I dare say you will get satisfactory replies.

J. C. Y.: (Addressing himself to one invisible yet supposed to be
present): Tell me the name of the person with whom I wish to
communicate.

The letters written down according to the dictation of the taps when put
together spelt "George William Young."

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 for him?

A.: Powerful mesmerism.

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

A.: Someone who has strong sympathy with the patient.

J. C. Y.: Should I succeed?

A.: No.

J. C. Y.: Who would?

A.: Joseph Ries. (A gentleman whom my uncle much respected.)

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

A.: Yes.

J. C. Y.: Who is it? (I thinking of a Miss Young, 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 Grosvenor Street.

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

J. C. Y.: I have induced my friend to withdraw because 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, and yet, if I understand rightly, no
answer can be transmitted to me except through you. What is to be done
under these circumstances?

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

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

A.: No.

J. C. Y.: That is unsatisfactory. It is easy to say Yes or No, but the
value of the affirmation or negation will depend on the conviction I
have that you know what I am thinking of. Give me one word which shall
show that you have the clue to my thoughts.

A.: Will.

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

It may be added that Mr. Young had no belief, before or after this
seance, in spirit agency, which surely, after such an experience, is no
credit to his intelligence or capacity for assimilating fresh knowledge.

The following letter in THE SPIRITUALIST from Mr. John Malcom, of
Clifton, Bristol, mentions some well-known sitters. Discussing the
question that had been raised as to where the first seance in England
was held and who were the witnesses present at it, he says:

I do not remember the date; but calling on my friend Mrs. Crowe,
authoress of "The Night Side of Nature," she invited me to accompany her
to a spiritual seance at the house of Mrs. Hayden in Queen Anne Street,
Cavendish Square. She informed me that Mrs. Hayden had just arrived from
America to exhibit the phenomena of Spiritualism to people in England
who might feel interested in the subject. There were present Mrs. Crowe,
Mrs. Milner Gibson, Mr. Colley Grattan (author of "High Ways and Bye
Ways"), Mr. Robert Chambers, Dr. Daniels, Dr. Samuel Dickson, and
several others whose names I did not hear. Some very remarkable
manifestations occurred on that occasion. I afterwards had frequent
opportunities of visiting Mrs. Hayden, and, though at first disposed to
doubt the genuineness of the phenomena, such convincing evidence was
given me of spirit communion that I became a firm believer in the truth
of it.

The battle in the British Press raged furiously. In the columns of the
London CRITIC, Mr. Henry Spicer (author of "Sights and Sounds") replied
to the critics in HOUSEHOLD WORDS, the LEADER, and the ZOIST. There
followed in the same newspaper a lengthy contribution from a Cambridge
clergyman, signing himself "M.A.," considered to be the Rev. A. W.
Hobson, of St. John's College, Cambridge.

This gentleman's description is graphic and powerful, but too long for
complete transcription. The matter is of some importance, as the writer
is, so far as is known, the first English clergyman who had gone into
the matter. It is strange, and perhaps characteristic of the age, how
little the religious implications appear to have struck the various
sitters, and how entirely occupied they were by inquiries as to their
grandmother's second name or the number of their uncles. Even the more
earnest seem to have been futile in their questions, and no one shows
the least sense of realization of the real possibilities of such
commerce, or that a firm foundation for religious belief could at last
be laid. This clergyman did, however, in a purblind way, see that there
was a religious side to the matter. He finishes his report with the
paragraph:

I will conclude with a few words to the numerous clerical readers of the
CRITIC. Being myself a clergyman of the Church of England, I consider
that the subject is one in which my brother clergy must, sooner or
later, take some interest, however reluctant they may be to have
anything to do with it. And my reasons are briefly as follow: If such
excitement become general in this country as already exists in
America-and what reason have we to suppose that it will not?-then the
clergy throughout the kingdom will be appealed to on all sides, will
have to give an opinion, and may probably be obliged, by their very
duties, to interfere and endeavour to prevent the delusions to which, in
many cases, this "mystery" has already led. One of the most sensible and
able writers on the subject of these spirit manifestations in America,
viz., Adin Ballou, in his work has expressly cautioned his readers not
to believe all these spirits communicate, nor allow themselves 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 in London, it has spread like wild-fire, and I have good
reason for saying that the excitement is only commencing. Persons who at
first treated the whole affair as a contemptible imposture and humbug,
on witnessing these strange things for themselves, become first startled
and astonished, then rush blindly into all sorts of mad conclusions-as,
for instance, that it is all the work of the devil, or (in the opposite
degree) that it is a new revelation from Heaven. I see scores of the
most able and intelligent people whom I know utterly and completely
mystified by it; and no one knows what to make of it. I am ready to
confess, for my own part, that I am equally mystified. That it is not
imposture, I feel perfectly and fully convinced. In addition to the
tests, etc., above-named, I had a long conversation in private with both
Mr. and Mrs. Hayden separately, and everything they 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 is any deception, they are as much
deceived as any of their dupes.

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

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

I am not only convinced that there is no deception with truthful media
in these proceedings, but that they are destined to effect, at this
period, the greatest moral revolution in the character and condition of
the human race.

Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten comments on the interest and astonishment
created by the conversion of Robert Owen, the influence of whose purely
materialistic belief was regarded as exerting an injurious effect on
religion. She says that one of England's most prominent statesmen
declared "that Mrs. Hayden deserved a monument, if only for the
conversion of Robert Owen."

Shortly afterwards the famous Dr. Elliotson, who was the president of
the Secular Society, was also converted after, like St. Paul, violently
assailing the new revelation. He and Dr. Ashburner had been two of the
most prominent supporters of mesmerism in the days when even that
obvious phenomenon had to fight for its existence, and when every
medical man who affirmed it was in danger of being called a quack. It
was painful to both of them, therefore, when Dr. Ashburner threw himself
into this higher subject with enthusiasm, while his friend was
constrained not only to reject but actively to attack it. However, the
breach was healed by the complete conversion of Elliotson, and Mrs.
Hardinge Britten relates how in his declining years he insisted upon her
coming to him, and how she found him a "warm adherent of Spiritualism, a
faith which the venerable gentleman cherished as the brightest
revelation that had ever been vouchsafed to him, and one which finally
smoothed the dark passage to the life beyond, and made his transition a
scene of triumphant faith and joyful anticipation."

As might have been expected, it was not long before the rapid growth of
table phenomena compelled scientific sceptics to recognize their
existence, or at least to take steps to expose the delusion of those who
attributed to the movements an external origin. Braid, Carpenter, and
Faraday stated publicly that the results obtained were due simply to
unconscious muscular action. Faraday devised ingenious apparatus which
he considered conclusively proved his assertion. But, like so many other
critics, Faraday had had no experience with a good medium, and the
well-attested fact of the movement of tables without contact is
sufficient to demolish his pretty theories. If one could imagine a
layman without a telescope contradicting with jeers and contempt the
conclusions of those astronomers who had used telescopes, it would
present some analogy to those people who have ventured to criticize
psychic matters without having had any personal psychic experience.

The contemporary spirit is no doubt voiced by Sir David Brewster.
Speaking of an invitation from Monckton Milnes to meet Mr. Galla, the
African traveller, "who assured him that Mrs. Hayden told him the names
of persons and places in Africa which nobody but himself knew," Sir
David comments, "The world is obviously going mad."

Mrs. Hayden remained in England about a year, returning to America
towards the close of 1853. Some day, when these matters have found their
true proportion to other events, her visit will be regarded as
historical and epoch-making. Two other American mediums were in England
during her visit-Mrs. Roberts and Miss Jay-having followed shortly
after, but they appear to have had little influence on the movement, and
seem to have been very inferior in psychic power.

A contemporary sidelight on those early days is afforded by this extract
from an article on Spiritualism in THE YORKSHIREMAN (October 25, 1856),
a non-Spiritualist journal:

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

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

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

But the general attitude of the influential Press was much the same then
as now-ridicule and denial of the facts, and the view 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 leading article of a little later date suggests:

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

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

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

When one reads such comments in a great paper one wonders whether the
movement was not really premature, and whether in so base and material
an age the idea of outside intervention was not impossible to grasp.
Much of this opposition was due, however, to the frivolity of inquirers
who had not as yet realized the full significance of these signals from
beyond, and used them, as the Yorkshire paper states, as a sort of
social recreation and a new excitement for jaded worldlings.

But while in the eyes of the Press the death-blow had been given to a
discredited movement, investigation went on quietly in many quarters.
People of common sense, as Howitt points out, "were successfully testing
those angels, under their own mode of advent, and finding them real,"
for, as he well says, public mediums 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 limited in extent.
To the public at large she was only a nine days' wonder, but she
scattered much seed which slowly grew. The fact is, she opened the
subject up, and people, mostly in the humbler walks of life, began to
experiment and to discover the truth for themselves, though, with a
caution born of experience, they kept their 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 an advancing sea
with its successive crests and troughs, each crest gathering more volume
than the last. With every trough the spectator has thought that the
waves had ended, and then the great new billow gathered. The time
between the leaving of Mrs. Hayden in 1853 until the advent of D. D.
Home in 1855 represents the first lull in England. Superficial critics
thought it was the end. But in a thousand homes throughout the land
experiments were being carried on; many who had lost all faith in the
things of the spirit, in what was perhaps the deadest and most material
age in the world's history, had begun to examine the evidence and to
understand with relief or with awe that the age of faith was passing and
that the age of knowledge, which St. Peter has said to be better, was at
hand. Devout students of the Scriptures remember the words of their
Master: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them
now," and wondered whether these strange stirrings of outside forces
might not be part of that 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 under the notice of the
people of Yorkshire.

This was due to a visit of a Mr. David Richmond, an American Shaker, to
the town of Keighley, when he called upon Mr. David Weatherhead and
interested him in the new development. Table manifestations were
obtained and local mediums discovered, so that a flourishing centre was
built up which still exists. From Yorkshire the movement spread over
Lancashire, and it is an interesting link with the past that Mr.
Wolstenholme, of Blackburn, who died in 1925 at a venerable age, was
able as a boy to secrete himself under a table at one of these early
seances, where he witnessed, though we will hope that he did not aid,
the phenomena. A paper, THE YORKSHIRE SPIRITUAL TELEGRAPH, was started
at Keighley in 1855, this and other expenses being borne by David
Weatherhead, whose name should be honoured as one who was the first to
throw his whole heart into the movement. Keighley is still an active
centre of psychic work and knowledge.




CHAPTER VIII



CONTINUED PROGRESS IN 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 by Professor De Morgan, was one of the first signs that
the new movement was spreading upwards as well as among the masses. Then
came the work of D. D. Home and of the Davenports, which is detailed
elsewhere. The examination of the Dialectical Society began in 1869,
which is also dealt with in a later chapter. The year 1870 was the date
of the first researches of William Crookes, which he undertook after
remarking upon the scandal caused by the refusal of scientific men "to
investigate the existence and nature of facts asserted by so many
competent and credible witnesses." In the same periodical, the Quarterly
journal of Science, he spoke of this belief being shared by millions,
and added: "I wish to ascertain the laws governing the appearance of
very remarkable phenomena, which, at the present time, are occurring to
an almost incredible extent."

The story of his research was given in full in 1874, and caused such a
tumult among the more fossilized men of science-those who may be said to
have had their minds subdued to that at which they worked-that there was
some talk of depriving him of his Fellowship of the Royal Society. The
storm blew over, but Crookes was startled by its violence, and it was
noticeable that for many years, until his position was impregnable, he
was very cautious in any public expression of his views. In 1872-73, the
Rev. Stainton Moses appeared as a new factor, and his automatic writings
raised the subject to a more spiritual plane in the judgment of many.
The phenomenal side may attract the curious, but when over-emphasized it
is likely to repel 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 spirit influence, and large
gatherings were deeply interested. Mr. Gerald Massey, the well-known
poet and writer, and Dr. George Sexton, also delivered public lectures.
Altogether, Spiritualism had much publicity given to it.

The establishment of the British National Association of Spiritualists
in 1873 gave the movement an impetus, because many well-known public men
and women joined it. Among them may be mentioned 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 physical phenomena was
supplied by Mrs. Jencken (Kate Fox) and Miss Florence Cook. Dr. J. R.
Newton, the famous healing medium from America, arrived in 1870, and
numbers of extraordinary cures were registered at free treatments. From
1870 Mrs. Everitt's wonderful mediumship 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 many converts through their mediumship. In 1872 Hudson's spirit
photographs created enormous interest, and in 1875 Dr. Alfred Russel
Wallace published his famous book, "On Miracles and Modern
Spiritualism."

A good means of tracing the growth of Spiritualism at this period is to
examine the statements of worthy contemporary witnesses, especially
those qualified by position and experience to give an opinion. But
before we glance at the period we are considering, let us look at the
situation in 1866, as viewed by Mr. William Howitt in a few paragraphs
which are so admirable that the author is constrained to quote thetas
verbatim. He says:

The present position of Spiritualism in England, were the Press, with
all its influence, omnipotent, would be hopeless. After having taken
every possible means to damage and sneer down Spiritualism; after having
opened its columns to it, in the hope that its emptiness and folly would
be so apparent that its clever enemies would soon be able to knock it on
the head by invincible arguments, and then finding that all the
advantages of reason and fact were on its side; after having abused and
maligned it to no purpose, the whole Press as by one consent, or by one
settled plan, has adopted the system of opening its columns and pages to
any false or foolish story about it, and hermetically closing them to
any explanation, refutation, or defence. It is, in fact, resolved, all
other means of killing it having failed, to burke it. To clap a literary
pitch-plaster on its mouth, and then let anyone that likes cut its
throat if he can.

By this means it hopes to stamp it out like the rinderpest….

If anything could annihilate Spiritualism, its present estimation by the
English public, its treatment by the Press and the courts of law, its
attempted suppression by all the powers of public intelligence, its
hatred by the heroes of the pulpits of all churches and creeds, the
simple acceptance of even the public folly and wickedness attributed to
it by the Press, its own internal divisions-in a word, its pre-eminent
unpopularity would put it out of existence. But does it? On the
contrary, it never was more firmly rooted into the mass of advanced
minds; its numbers never more rapidly increased; its truths were never
more earnestly and eloquently advocated; the enquiries after it never
more abundant or more anxious. The soirees in Harley Street have,
through the whole time that Press and horsehair wig have been heaping
every reproach and every scorn upon it, been crowded to excess by ladies
and gentlemen of the middle and higher classes, who have listened in
admiration to the eloquent and ever-varied addresses of Emma Hardinge.
Meantime, the Davenports, a thousand times denounced as impostors, and
exposed impostors, have a thousand times shown that their phenomena
remain as unexplainable as ever on any but a spiritual theory.

What means all this? What does it indicate? That Press and pulpit, and
magistrate and law courts, have all tried their powers, and have failed.
They stand nonplussed before the thing which they themselves have
protested is poor and foolish and false and unsubstantial. If it be so
poor and foolish and false and unsubstantial, how is it that all their
learning, their unscrupulous denunciation, their vast means of attack
and their not less means of prevention of fair defence, their command of
the ears and the opinions of the multitude-how happens it that all their
wit and sarcasm and logic and eloquence cannot touch it? So far from
shaking and diminishing it, they do not even ruffle a hair on its head,
or a fringe of its robe.

Is it not about time for these combined hosts of the great and wise, the
scientific, the learned, the leaders of senates and colleges and courts
of law, the eloquent favourites of Parliament, the magnates of the
popular Press, furnished with all the intellectual artillery which a
great national system of education, and great national system of Church
and State and aristocracy, accustomed to proclaim what shall be held to
be true and of honourable repute by all honourable men and women-is it
not time, I say, that all this great and splendid world of wit and
wisdom should begin to suspect that they have something solid to deal
with? That there is something vital in what they have treated as a
phantom?

I do not say to these great and world-commanding bodies, powers and
agencies, open your eyes and see that your efforts are fruitless, and
acknowledge your defeat, for probably they never will open their eyes
and confess their shame; but I say to the Spiritualists themselves, dark
as the day may seem to you, never was it more cheering. Leagued as all
the armies of public instructors and directors are against it, never was
its bearing more anticipatory of ultimate victory. It has upon it the
stamp of all the conquering influences of the age. It has all the
legitimatism of history on its head. It is but fighting the battle that
every great reform-social or moral or intellectual or religious-has
fought and eventually won.

As showing the change that occurred after Mr. Howitt wrote in 1866, we
find THE TIMES of December 26, 1872, publishing an article entitled
"Spiritualism and Science," occupying three and a half columns, in which
the opinion is expressed that now "it is high time competent hands
undertook the unravelling of this 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 (privately printed) on
his experiences with D. D. Home, seems to be impressed by the social
status of the various witnesses. Clumsy humour and snobbishness are the
characteristics of the article:

A volume now lying before us may serve to show how this folly has spread
throughout society. It was lent to us by a disinguished Spiritualist,
under the solemn promise that we should not divulge a single name of
those concerned. It consists of about 150 pages of reports of seances,
and was privately printed by a noble Earl, who has lately passed beyond
the House of Lords; beyond also, we trust, the spirit-peopled chairs and
tables which in his lifetime he loved, not wisely, but too well. In this
book things more marvellous than any we have set down are
circumstantially related, in a natural way, just as though they were
ordinary, everyday matters of fact. We shall not fatigue the reader by
quoting any of the accounts given, and no doubt he will take our word
when we say that they range through every species of "manifestation,"
from prophesyings downwards.

What we more particularly wish to observe is, that the attestation of
fifty respectable witnesses is placed before the title-page. Among them
are a Dowager Duchess and other ladies of rank, a Captain in the Guards,
a nobleman, a Baronet, a Member of Parliament, several officers of our
scientific and other corps, a barrister, a merchant, and a doctor. Upper
and upper middle-class society is represented in all its grades, and by
persons who, to judge by the position they hold and the callings they
follow, ought to be possessed of intelligence and ability.

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, the eminent naturalist, in the course 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 the main facts are now as well
established and as easily verifiable as any of the more exceptional
phenomena of Nature which are not yet reduced to law. They have a most
important bearing on the interpretation of history, which is full of
narratives of similar facts, and on the nature of life and intellect, on
which physical science throws a very feeble and uncertain light; and it
is my firm and deliberate belief that every branch of philosophy must
suffer till they are honestly and seriously investigated, and dealt with
as constituting an essential portion of the phenomena of human nature.

One becomes bemused by ectoplasm and laboratory experiments which lead
the thoughts away from the essential. Wallace was one of the few whose
great, sweeping, unprejudiced mind saw and accepted the truth in its
wonderful completeness from the humble physical proofs of outside power
to the highest mental teaching which that power could convey, teaching
that far surpasses in beauty and in credibility any which the modern
mind has known.

The public acceptance and sustained support of this great scientific
man, one of the first brains of his age, were the more important since
he had the wit to understand the complete religious revolution which lay
at the back of these phenomena. It has been a curious fact that with
some exceptions in these days, as of old, the wisdom has been given to
the humble and withheld from the learned. Heart and intuition have won
to the goal where brain has missed it. One would think that the
proposition was a simple one. It may be expressed in a series of
questions after the Socratic form: "Have we established connexion with
the intelligence of those who have died?" THE SPIRITUALIST says: "Yes."
"Have they given us information of the new life in which they find
themselves, and of how it has been affected by their earth life?" Again
"Yes." "Have they found it correspond to the account given by any
religion upon earth?" "No." Then if this be so, is it not clear that the
new information is of vital religious import? The humble Spiritualist
sees this and adapts his worship to the facts.

Sir William (then Professor) Barrett brought the subject of Spiritualism
before the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1876.
His paper was entitled "On Some Phenomena associated with Abnormal
Conditions of Mind." He had difficulty in obtaining a hearing. The
Biological Committee refused to accept the paper and passed it on to the
Anthropological Sub-section, who only accepted it on the casting vote of
the chairman, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace. Colonel Lane Fox helped to
overcome the opposition by asking why, as they had discussed ancient
witchcraft the previous year, they should not examine modern witchcraft
that year. The first part of Professor Barrett's paper dealt with
mesmerism, but in the second part he related his experiences of
Spiritualistic phenomena, and urged that further scientific examination
should be given to the subject. He gave the convincing details of a
remarkable experience 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 the levitations
he had witnessed with D. D. Home, and said of levitation: "The evidence
in favour of it is stronger than the evidence in favour of almost any
natural phenomenon the British Association could investigate." He also
made the following remarks concerning his own method of psychic
research:

I was asked to investigate when Dr. Slade first came over, and I
mentioned my conditions. I have never investigated except under these
conditions. It must be at my own house, and my own selection of friends
and spectators, under my own conditions, and I may do whatever I like as
regards apparatus. I have always tried, where it has been possible, to
make the physical apparatus test the things themselves, and have not
trusted more than is possible to my own senses. But when it is necessary
to trust to my senses, I must entirely dissent from Mr. Barrett, when he
says a trained physical inquirer is no match for a professional
conjurer. I maintain a physical inquirer is more than a match.

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

I think we are much indebted to Professor Barrett for his courage, for
it requires some courage to come forward in this matter, and to give us
the benefit of his careful experiments. My own interest in the subject
dates back two years. I was first attracted to it by reading Mr.
Crookes's investigations. Although my opportunities have not been so
good as those enjoyed by Professor Barrett, I have seen enough to
convince me that those are wrong who wish to prevent investigation by
casting ridicule on those who may feel inclined to engage in it.

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

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

The London SPECTATOR, in an article entitled "The British Association on
Professor Barrett's Paper," opened with the following broad-minded view:

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

Sir William Barrett's views steadily progressed until he accepted the
Spiritualistic position in unequivocal terms before his lamented death
in 1925. He lived to see the whole world ameliorate its antagonism to
such subjects, though little difference perhaps could be observed in the
British Association which remained as obscurantist as ever. Such a
tendency, however, may not have been an unmixed evil, for, as Sir Oliver
Lodge has remarked, if the great pressing material problems had been
complicated by psychic issues, it is possible that they would not have
been solved. It may be worth remarking that Sir William Barrett in
conversation with the author recalled that of the four men who supported
him upon that historical and difficult occasion, every one lived to
receive the Order of Merit-the greatest honour which their country could
bestow. The four were Lord Rayleigh, Crookes, Wallace and Huggins.

It was not to be expected that the rapid growth of Spiritualism would be
without its less desirable features. These were of at least two kinds.
First the cry of fraudulent mediumship was frequently heard. In the
light of our later, fuller knowledge we know that much that bears the
appearance of fraud is not necessarily fraud at all. At the same time,
the unbounded credulity of a section of Spiritualists undoubtedly
provided an easy field for charlatans. In the course of a paper read
before the Cambridge University Society for Psychological Investigation
in 1879, the President of the Society, Mr. J. A. Campbell, said*:

* THE SPIRITUALIST, April 11, 1879, p. 170.

Since the advent of Mr. Home, the number of media has increased yearly,
and so has the folly and the imposture. Every spook has become, in the
eyes of fools, a divine angel; and not even every spook, but every
rogue, dressed up in a sheet, who has chosen or shall choose to call
himself a materialized "spirit." A so-called religion has been founded
in which the honour of the most sacred names has been transferred to the
ghosts of pickpockets. Of the characters of which divinities, and of the
doctrines taught by them, I shall not insult you by speaking; so it ever
is when folly and ignorance get into their hands the weapon of an
eternal fact, abuse, distortion, crime itself; such were ever the
results of children playing with edged tools, 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 as sensible men and educated men study and pray and work,
striving to make good use of their knowledge, will it become more so.

The second feature was the apparent increase of what may be termed
anti-Christian, though not antireligious, Spiritualism. This led to
William Howitt and other stalwart supporters ceasing their connexion
with the movement. Powerful articles against this tendency were
contributed to the SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE by Howitt and others.

A suggestion of the need for caution and balance is afforded in the
remarks of Mr. William Stainton Moses, who said in a paper read before
the British National Association of Spiritualists on January 26, 1880*:

* THE PSYCHOLOGICAL REVIEW, Vol. II, p. 546.

We are emphatically in need of discipline and education. We have hardly
yet settled down after our rapid growth. The child, born just thirty
years ago, has increased in stature (if not in wisdom) at a very rapid
rate. It has grown so fast that its education has been a little
neglected. In the expressive phraseology of its native country, it has
been "dragged up" rather promiscuously; and its phenomenal growth has
absorbed all other considerations. The time has now come when those who
have regarded it as an ugly monster which was born by one of Nature's
freaks only to die an early death, begin to recognize their mistake. The
ugly brat means to live; and beneath its ugliness the least sympathetic
gaze detects a coherent purpose in its existence. It is the presentation
of a principle inherent in man's nature, a principle which his wisdom
has improved away until it is wellnigh eliminated altogether, but which
crops out again and again in spite of him-the principle of Spirit as
opposed to Matter, of Soul acting and existing independently of the body
which enshrines it. Long years of denial of aught but the properties of
matter have landed the chief lights of modern science in pure
Materialism. To them, therefore, this Spiritualism is a portent and a
problem. It is a return to superstition; a survival of savagery; a blot
on nineteenth century intelligence. Laughed at, it laughs back; scorned,
it gives back scorn for scorn.

In 1881, LIGHT, a high-class weekly Spiritualist newspaper, was begun,
and 1882 saw the formation of the Society for Psychical Research.
Speaking generally, it may be said that the attitude of organized
science during these thirty years was as unreasonable and unscientific
as that of Galileo's cardinals, and that if there had been a Scientific
Inquisition, it would have brought its terrors to bear upon the new
knowledge. No serious attempt of any sort, up to the formation of the
S.P.R. was made to understand or explain a matter which was engaging the
attention of millions of minds. Faraday in 1853 put forward the theory
that table-moving was caused by muscular pressure, which may be true
enough in some cases, but bears no relation to the levitation of tables,
and in any case applies only to the one limited class of psychic
phenomena. The usual "scientific" objection was that nothing occurred at
all, which neglected the testimony of thousands of credible witnesses.
Others argued that what did happen was capable of being exposed by a
conjurer, and any clumsy imitation such as Maskelyne's parody of the
Davenports was eagerly hailed as an exposure, with no reference to the
fact that the whole mental side of the question with its overwhelming
evidence was untouched thereby.

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

Further explanations, either then or later, included the Theosophic
doctrine, which admitted the facts but depreciated the spirits,
describing them as astral shells with a sort of dreamy
half-consciousness, or possibly an attenuated conscience which made them
sub-human in their intelligence or morality. Certainly the quality of
spirit communion does vary greatly, but the highest is so high that we
can hardly imagine that we are in touch with only a fraction of the
speaker. As it is asserted, however, that even in this world our
subliminal self is far superior to our normal workaday individuality, it
would seem only fair that the spirit world should confront us with
something less than its full powers.

Another theory postulates the ANIMA MUNDI, a huge reservoir or central
bank of intelligence, with a clearing-house in which all inquiries are
honoured. The sharp detail which we receive from the Other Side is
incompatible with any vague grandiose idea of the sort. Finally, there
is the one really formidable alternative, that man has an etheric body
with many unknown gifts, among which a power of external manifestation
in curious forms may be included. It is to this theory of Cryptesthesia
that Richet and others have clung, and up to a point there is an
argument in its favour. The author has satisfied himself that there is a
preliminary and elementary stage in all psychic work which depends upon
the innate and possibly unconscious power of the medium. The reading of
concealed script, the production of raps upon demand, the description of
scenes at a distance, the remarkable effects of psychometry, the first
vibrations of the Direct Voice-each and all of these on different
occasions have seemed to emanate from the medium's own power. Then in
most cases there would appear an outside intelligence which was able to
appropriate that force and use it for its own ends. An illustration
might be given in the experiments of Bisson and Schrenck Notzing with
Eva, where the ectoplasmic forms were at first undoubtedly reflections
of newspaper illustrations, somewhat muddled by their passage through
the medium's mind. Yet there came a later and deeper stage where an
ectoplasmic form was evolved which was capable of movement and even of
speech. Richet's great brain and close power of observation have been
largely centred upon the physical phenomena, and he does not seem to
have been brought much in contact with those personal mental and
spiritual experiences which would probably have modified his views. It
is fair to add, however, that those views have continually moved in the
direction of the Spiritualistic explanation.

There only remains the hypothesis of complex personality, which may well
influence certain cases, though it seems to the author that such cases
might be explained equally well by obsession. These instances, however,
can only touch the fringe of the subject, and ignore the whole
phenomenal aspect, so that the matter need not be taken very seriously.
It cannot be too often repeated, however, that the inquirer should
exhaust every possible normal explanation to his own complete
satisfaction before he adopts the Spiritualistic view. If he has done
this his platform is stable-if he has not done it he can never be
conscious of its solidity. The author can say truly, that year after
year he clung on to every line of defence until he was finally
compelled, if he were to preserve any claim to mental honesty, to
abandon the materialistic position.




CHAPTER IX



THE CAREER OF D. D. HOME


Daniel Dunglas Home was born in 1833 at Currie, a village near
Edinburgh. There was a mystery about his parentage, and it has been both
asserted and denied that he was related in some fashion to the family of
the Earl of Home. Certainly he was a man who inherited elegance of
figure, delicacy of feature, sensitiveness of disposition and luxury in
taste, from whatever source he sprang. But for his psychic powers, and
for the earnestness which they introduced into his complex character, he
might have been taken as the very type of the aristocratic younger son
who inherits the tendencies, but not the wealth, of his forbears.

Home went from Scotland to New England, at the age of nine years, with
his aunt who had adopted him, a mystery still surrounding his existence.
When he was thirteen he began to show signs of the psychic faculties he
had inherited, for his mother, who was descended from an old Highland
family, had the characteristic second-sight of her race. His mystical
trend had shown itself in a conversation with his boy friend, Edwin,
about a short story where, as the result of a compact, a lover, after
his death, manifested his presence to his lady-love. The two boys
pledged themselves that whoever died first would come and show himself
to the other. Home removed to another district some hundreds of miles
distant, and about a month later, just after going to bed one night, he
saw a vision of Edwin and announced to his aunt his death, news of which
was received a day or two after. A second vision in 1850 concerned the
death of his mother, who with her husband had gone to live in America.
The boy was ill in bed at the time, and his mother away on a visit to
friends at a distance. One evening he called loudly for help, and when
his aunt came she found him in great distress. He said that his mother
had died that day at twelve o'clock; that she had appeared to him and
told him so. The vision proved to be only too true. Soon loud raps began
to disturb the quiet household, and furniture to be moved by invisible
agency. His aunt, a woman of a narrow religious type, declared the boy
had brought the Devil into her house, and turned him out of doors.

He took refuge with friends, and in the next few years moved among them
from town to town. His mediumship had become strongly developed, and at
the houses where he stopped he gave frequent seances, sometimes as many
as six or seven a day, for the limitations of power and the reactions
between physical and psychic were little understood at that time. These
proved a great drain on his strength, and he was frequently laid up with
illness. People flocked from all directions to witness the marvels which
occurred in Home's presence. Among those who investigated with him at
this time was the American poet Bryant, who was accompanied by Professor
Wells, of Harvard University. In New York he met many distinguished
Americans, and three-Professor Hare, Professor Mapes, and Judge Edmonds,
of the New York Supreme Court-had sittings with him. All three became,
as already stated, convinced Spiritualists.

In these early years the charm of Home's personality, and the deep
impression created by his powers, led to his receiving many offers.
Professor George Bush invited him to stay with him and study for the
Swedenborgian ministry; and Mr. and Mrs. Elmer, a rich and childless
couple, who had grown to cherish a great affection for him, offered to
adopt him and make him their heir on condition of his changing his name
to Elmer.

His remarkable healing powers had excited wonder and, yielding to the
persuasion of friends, he began to study for the medical profession. But
his general delicate health, coupled with actual lung trouble, forced
him to abandon this project and, acting under medical advice, he left
New York for England.

He arrived in Liverpool on April 9, 1855, and has been described as a
tall, slim youth with a marked elegance of bearing and a fastidious
neatness of dress, but with a worn, hectic look upon his very expressive
face which told of the ravages of disease. He was blue-eyed and
auburn-haired, of a type which is peculiarly liable to the attack of
tubercle, and the extreme emaciation of his frame showed how little
power remained with him by which he might resist it. An acute physician
watching him closely would probably have gauged his life by months
rather than years in our humid climate, and of all the marvels which
Home wrought, the prolongation of his own life was perhaps not the
least. His character had already taken on those emotional and religious
traits which distinguished it, and he has recorded how, before landing,
he rushed down to his cabin and fell upon his knees in prayer. When one
considers the astonishing career which lay before him, and the large
part which he played in establishing those physical foundations which
differentiate this religious development from any other, it may well be
claimed that this visitor was among the most notable missionaries who
has ever visited our shores.

His position at that moment was a very singular one. He had hardly a
relation in the world. His left lung was partly gone. His income was
modest, though sufficient. He had no trade or profession, 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 both to Art and the Drama, so that his powers of
sculpture were considerable, and as a reciter he proved in later life
that he had few living equals. But on the top of all this, and of an
unflinching honesty which was so uncompromising that he often offended
his own allies, there was one gift so remarkable that it threw
everything else into insignificance. This lay in those powers, quite
independent of his own volition, coming and going with disconcerting
suddenness, but proving to all who would examine the proof, that there
was something in this man's atmosphere which enabled forces outside
himself and outside our ordinary apprehension to manifest themselves
upon this plane of matter. In other words, he was a medium-the greatest
in a physical sense that the modern world has ever seen.

A lesser man might have used his extraordinary powers to found some
special sect of which he would have been the undisputed high priest, or
to surround himself with a glamour of power and mystery. Certainly most
people in his position would have been tempted to use it for the making
of money. As to this latter point, let it be said at once that never in
the course of the thirty years of his strange ministry did he touch one
shilling as payment for his gifts. It is on sure record that as much as
two thousand pounds was offered to him by the Union Club in Paris in the
year 1857 for a single seance, and that he, a poor man and an invalid,
utterly refused it. "I have been sent on a mission," he said. "That
mission is to demonstrate immortality. I have never taken money for it
and I never will." There were certain presents from Royalty which cannot
be refused without boorishness: rings, scarf-pins, and the like-tokens
of friendship rather than recompense; for before his premature death
there were few monarchs in Europe with whom this shy youth from the
Liverpool landing-stage was not upon terms of affectionate intimacy.
Napoleon the Third provided for his only sister. The Emperor of Russia
sponsored his marriage. What novelist would dare to invent such a
career?

But there are more subtle temptations than those of wealth. Home's
uncompromising honesty was the best safeguard against those. Never for a
moment did he lose his humility and his sense of proportion. "I have
these powers," he would say; "I shall be happy, up to the limit of my
strength, to demonstrate them to you, if you approach me as one
gentleman should approach another. I shall be glad if you can throw any
further light upon them. I will lend myself to any reasonable
experiment. I have no control over them. They use me, but I do not use
them. They desert me for months and then come back in redoubled force. I
am a passive instrument-no more." Such was his unvarying attitude. He
was always the easy, amiable man of the world, with nothing either of
the mantle of the prophet or of the skull-cap of the magician. Like most
truly great men, there was no touch of pose in his nature. An index of
his fine feeling is that when confirmation was needed for his results he
would never quote any names unless he was perfectly certain that the
owners would not suffer in any way through being associated with an
unpopular cult. Sometimes even after they had freely given leave he
still withheld 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 the anonymous "evidence of
Countess O-, Count B-, Count de K-, Princess de B- and Mrs. S-, who were
quoted 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 de Beaumont, Count
de Komar, Princess de Beauveau, and the well-known American hostess,
Mrs. Henry Senior. His Royal friends he never quoted at all, and yet it
is notorious that the Emperor Napoleon, the Empress Eugenie, the Tsar
Alexander, the Emperor William the First of Germany, and the Kings of
Bavaria and Wurtemberg were all equally convinced by his extraordinary
powers. Never once was Home convicted of any deception, either in word
or in deed.

On first landing in England he took up his quarters at Cox's Hotel in
Jermyn Street, and it is probable that he chose that hostelry because he
had learned that through Mrs. Hayden's ministry the proprietor was
already sympathetic to the cause. However that may be, Mr. Cox quickly
discovered that his young guest was a most remarkable medium, and at his
invitation some of the leading minds of the day were asked to consider
those phenomena which Home could lay before them. Among others, Lord
Brougham came to a seance and brought with him his scientific friend,
Sir David Brewster. In full daylight they investigated the phenomena,
and in his amazement at what happened Brewster is reported to have said:
"This upsets the philosophy of fifty years." If he had said "fifteen
hundred" he would have been within the mark. He described what took
place in a letter written to his sister at the time, but published long
after.* Those present were Lord Brougham, Sir David Brewster, Mr. Cox
and the medium.

* "Home Life of Sir David Brewster," by Mrs. Gordon (his daughter),
1869.

"We four," said Brewster, "sat down at a moderately-sized table, the
structure of which we were invited to examine. In a short time the table
struggled, and a tremulous motion ran up all our arms; at our bidding
these motions ceased and returned. The most unaccountable rappings were
produced in various parts of the table, and the table actually rose from
the ground when no hand was upon it. A larger table was produced, and
exhibited similar movements.

"A small hand-bell was laid down with its mouth upon the carpet, and
after lying for some time, it actually rang when nothing could have
touched it." He adds that the bell came over to him and placed itself in
his hand, and it did the same to Lord Brougham; and concludes "These
were the principal experiments. We could give no explanation of them,
and could not conjecture how they could be produced by any kind of
mechanism."

The Earl of Dunraven states that he was induced to investigate the
phenomena by what Brewster had told him. He describes meeting the
latter, who said that the manifestations were quite inexplicable by
fraud, or by any physical laws with which we were acquainted. Home sent
an account of this sitting in a letter to a friend in America, where it
was published with comments. When these were reproduced in the English
Press, Brewster became greatly alarmed. It was one thing to hold certain
views privately, it was quite another to face the inevitable loss of
prestige that would occur in the scientific circles in which he moved.
Sir David was not the stuff of which martyrs or pioneers are made. He
wrote to the MORNING ADVERTISER, stating that though he had seen several
mechanical effects which he could not explain, yet he was satisfied that
they could all be produced by human hands and feet. At the time it had,
of course, never occurred to him that his letter to his sister, just
quoted, would ever see the light.

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

It seems established by the clearest evidence that he felt and
expressed, at and immediately after his seances with Mr. Home, a wonder
and almost awe, which he afterwards wished to explain away. The hero of
science does not acquit himself as one could wish or expect.

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

From Jermyn Street, Home went to stay with the Rymer family in Ealing,
where many seances were held. Here he was visited by Lord Lytton, the
famous novelist, who, although he received striking evidence, never
publicly avowed his belief in the medium's powers, though his private
letters, and indeed his published novels, are evidence of his true
feeling. This was the case with scores of well-known men and women.
Among his early sitters were Robert Owen the Socialist, T. A. Trollope
the author, and Dr. J. Garth Wilkinson the alienist.

In these days, when the facts of psychic phenomena are familiar to all
save those who are wilfully ignorant, we can hardly realize the moral
courage which was needed by Home in putting forward his powers and
upholding them in public. To the average educated Briton in the material
Victorian era a man who claimed to be able to produce results which
upset Newton's law of gravity, and which showed invisible mind acting
upon visible matter, was prima facie a scoundrel and an impostor. The
view of Spiritualism pronounced by Vice-Chancellor Giffard at the
conclusion of the Home-Lyon trial was that of the class to which he
belonged. He knew nothing of the matter, but took it for granted that
anything with such claims must be false. No doubt similar things were
reported in far-off lands and ancient books, but that they could occur
in prosaic, steady old England, the England of bank-rates and free
imports, was too absurd for serious thought. It has been recorded that
at this trial Lord Giffard turned to Home's counsel and said: "Do I
understand you to state that your client claims that he has been
levitated into the air?" Counsel assented, on which the judge turned to
the jury and made such a movement as the high priest may have made in
ancient days when he rent his garments as a protest against blasphemy.
In 1868 there were few of the jury who were sufficiently educated to
check the judge's remarks, and it is just in that particular that we
have made some progress in the fifty years between. Slow work-but
Christianity took more than 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 before reputable
witnesses he floated in the air. Consider the evidence. In 1857, in a
chateau near Bordeaux, he was lifted to the ceiling of a lofty room in
the presence of Madame Ducos, widow of the Minister of Marine, and of
the Count and Countess de Beaumont. In 1860 Robert Bell wrote an
article, "Stranger than Fiction," in the CORNHILL. "He rose from his
chair," says Bell, "four or five feet from the ground…. We saw his
figure pass from one side of the window to the other, feet foremost,
lying horizontally in the air." Dr. Gully, of Malvern, a well-known
medical man, and Robert Chambers, the author and publisher, were the
other witnesses. Is it to be supposed that these men were lying
confederates, or that they could not tell if a man were floating in the
air or pretending to do so? In the same year Home was raised at Mrs.
Milner Gibson's house in the presence of Lord and Lady Clarence Paget,
the former passing his hands underneath him to assure himself of the
fact. A few months later Mr. Wason, a Liverpool solicitor, with seven
others, saw the same phenomenon. "Mr. Home," he says, "crossed the table
over the heads of the persons sitting around it." He added: "I reached
his hand seven feet from the floor, and moved along five or six paces as
he floated above me in the air." In 1861 Mrs. Parkes, of Cornwall
Terrace, Regent's Park, tells how she was present with Bulwer Lytton and
Mr. Hall when Home in her own drawing-room was raised till his hand was
on the top of the door, and then floated horizontally forward. In 1866
Mr. and Mrs. Hall, Lady Dunsany, and Mrs. Senior, in Mr. Hall's house
saw Home, his face transfigured and shining, twice rise to the ceiling,
leaving a cross marked in pencil upon the second occasion, so as to
assure the witnesses that they were not the victims of imagination.

In 1868 Lord Adare, Lord Lindsay, Captain Wynne, and Mr. Smith Barry saw
Home levitate upon many occasions. A very minute account has been left
by the first three witnesses of the occurrence of December 16* of this
year, when at Ashley House Home, in a state of trance, floated out of
the bedroom and into the sitting-room window, passing seventy feet above
the street. After his arrival in the sitting-room he went back into the
bedroom with Lord Adare, and upon the latter remarking that he could not
understand how Home could have fitted through the window which was only
partially raised, "he told me to stand a little distance off. He then
went through the open space head first quite rapidly, his body being
nearly horizontal and apparently rigid. He came in again feet foremost."
Such was the account given by Lords Adare and Lindsay. Upon its
publication Dr. Carpenter, who earned an unenviable reputation by a
perverse opposition to every fact which bore upon this question, wrote
exultantly to point out that there had been a third witness who had not
been heard from, assuming without the least justification that Captain
Wynne's evidence would be contradictory. He went the length of saying "a
single honest sceptic declares that Mr. Home was sitting in his chair
all the time "a statement which can only be described as false. Captain
Wynne at once wrote corroborating the others and adding: "If you are not
to believe the corroborative evidence of three unimpeached witnesses,
there would be an end to all justice and courts of law."

* The almanac shows it to be Sunday the 13th.

To show how hard put to it the critics have been to find some loophole
of escape from the obvious, they have made much of the fact that Lord
Lindsay, writing some time after the event, declared that it was seen by
moonlight; whereas the calendar shows that the moon was not at that time
visible. Mr. Andrew Lang remarks: "Even in a fog, however, people in a
room can see a man coming in by the window, and go out again, head
first, with body rigid." * It would seem to most of us that if we saw so
marvellous a sight we would have little time to spare to determine
whether we viewed it by the light of the moon or by that of the street
lamps. It must be admitted, however, that Lord Lindsay's account is
clumsily worded-so clumsily that there is some excuse for Mr. Joseph
McCabe's reading of it that the spectators looked not at the object
itself and its shadow on the window-sill, but that they stood with their
backs to it and viewed the shadow on the wall. When one considers,
however, the standing of the three eye-witnesses who have testified to
this, one may well ask whether in ancient or modern times any
preternatural event has been more clearly proved.

* "Historical Mysteries," p. 236.

So many are the other instances of Home's levitations that a long
article might easily be written upon this single phase of his
mediumship. Professor Crookes was again and again a witness to the
phenomenon, and refers to fifty instances which had come within his
knowledge. But is there any fair-minded person who has read the incident
here recorded who will not say, with Professor Challis: "Either the
facts must be admitted to be such as are reported, or the possibility of
certifying facts by human testimony 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. What we see now, and
what we have read of in ages past, is but the operation of law which has
not yet been studied and defined. Already we realize something of its
possibilities and of its limitations, which are as exact in their way as
those of any purely physical power. We must hold the balance between
those who would believe nothing and those who would believe too much.
Gradually the mists will clear and we will chart the shadowy coast. When
the needle first sprang up at the magnet it was not an infraction of the
laws of gravity. It was that there had been the local intervention of
another stronger force. Such is the case also when psychic powers act
upon the plane of matter. Had Home's faith in this power faltered, or
had his circle been unduly disturbed, he would have fallen. When Peter
lost faith he sank into the waves. Across the centuries the same cause
still produced the same effect. Spiritual power is ever with us if we do
not avert our faces, and nothing has been vouchsafed to Judma which is
withheld from England.

It is in this respect, as a confirmation of the power of the unseen, and
as a final answer to materialism as we now understand it, that Home's
public career is of such supreme importance. He was an affirmative
witness of the truth of those so-called "miracles" which have been the
stumbling-block for so many earnest minds, and are now destined to be
the strong solid proof of the accuracy of the original narrative.
Millions of doubting souls in the agony of spiritual conflict had cried
out for definite proof that all was not empty space around us, that
there were powers beyond our grasp, that the ego was not a mere
secretion of nervous tissue, and that the dead did really carry on their
personal unbroken existence. All this was proved by this greatest of
modern missionaries to anyone who could observe or reason. It is easy to
poke superficial fun at rising tables and quivering walls, but they were
the nearest and most natural objects which could record in material
terms that power which was beyond our human ken. A mind which would be
unmoved by an inspired sentence was struck into humility and into new
paths of research in the presence of even the most homely of these
inexplicable phenomena. It is easy to call them puerile, but they
effected the purpose for which they were sent by shaking to its
foundations the complaisance of those material men of science who were
brought into actual contact with them. They are to be regarded not as
ends in themselves, but as the elementary means by which the mind should
be diverted into new channels of thought. And those channels of thought
led straight to the recognition of the survival of the spirit. "You have
conveyed incalculable joy and comfort to the hearts of many people,"
said Bishop Clark, of Rhode Island. "You have made dwelling-places light
that were dark before." "Mademoiselle," said Home to the lady 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, was one of the leaders of British materialism. He met
Home, saw his powers, and was able soon to say that he had lived all his
life in darkness and had thought there was nothing in existence but the
material, but he now had a firm hope which he trusted he would hold
while on earth.

Innumerable instances could be quoted of the spiritual value of Home's
work, but it has never been better summed up than in a paragraph from
Mrs. Webster, of Florence, who saw much of his ministry. "He is the most
marvellous missionary of modern times in the greatest of all causes, and
the good that he has done cannot be reckoned. When Mr. Home passes he
bestows around him the greatest of all blessings, the certainty of a
future life."

Now that the details of his career can be read, it is to the whole wide
world that he brings this most vital of all messages. His attitude as to
his own mission was expressed in a lecture given in London in Willis's
Rooms on February 15, 1866. He said: "I believe in my heart that this
power is being spread more and more every day to draw us nearer to God.
You ask if it makes us purer? My only answer is that we are but mortals,
and as such liable to err; but it does teach that the pure in heart
shall see God. 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 are
nearly over and rest cometh. To the young it speaks of the duty we owe
to each other, and that as we sow so shall we reap. To all it teaches
resignation. It comes to roll away the clouds of error, and bring the
bright morning of a never-ending day."

It is curious to see how his message affected those of his own
generation. Reading the account of his life written by his widow-a most
convincing document, since she of all living mortals must have known the
real man-it would appear that his most utterly whole-hearted support and
appreciation came from those aristocrats of France and Russia with whom
he was brought into contact. The warm glow of personal admiration and
even reverence in their letters is such as can hardly be matched in any
biography. In England he had a close circle of ardent supporters, a few
of the upper classes, with the Halls, the Howitts, Robert Chambers, Mrs.
Milner Gibson, Professor Crookes, and others. But there was a sad lack
of courage among those who admitted the facts in private and stood aloof
in public. Lord Brougham and Bulwer Lytton were of the type of
Nicodemus, the novelist being the worst offender. "Intelligentsia" on
the whole came badly out of the matter, and many an Honoured name
suffers in the story. Faraday and Tyndall were fantastically
unscientific in their methods of prejudging a question first, and
offering to examine it afterwards on the condition that their
prejudgment was accepted. Sir David Brewster, as already shown, said
some honest things, and then in a panic denied that he had said them,
forgetting that the evidence was on actual record. Browning wrote a long
poem-if such doggerel can be called poetry-to describe an exposure which
had never taken place. Carpenter earned an unenviable notoriety as an
unscrupulous opponent, while proclaiming some strange Spiritualistic
thesis of his own. The secretaries of the Royal Society refused to take
a cab-drive in order to see Crookes's demonstration of the physical
phenomena, while they pronounced roundly against them.

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

As to the clergy, such an order might not have existed during the thirty
years that this, the most marvellous spiritual outpouring of many
centuries, was before the public. One cannot recall the name of one
British clergyman who showed any intelligent interest; and when in 1872
a full account of the St. Petersburg seances began to appear in THE
TIMES, it was cut short, according to Mr. H. T. Humphreys, "on account
of strong remonstrances to Mr. Delane, the editor, by certain of the
higher clergy of the Church of England." Such was the contribution of
our official spiritual guides. Dr. Elliotson the Rationalist, was far
more alive than they. The rather bitter comment of Mrs. Home is: "The
verdict of his own generation was that of the blind and deaf upon the
man who could hear and see."

Home's charity was among his more beautiful characteristics. Like all
true charity it was secret, and only comes out indirectly and by chance.
One of his numerous traducers declared that he had allowed a bill for
£50 to be sent in to his friend, Mr. Rymer. In self-defence it came out
that it was not a bill but a cheque most generously sent by Home to help
this friend in a crisis. Considering his constant poverty, fifty pounds
probably represented a good part of his bank balance. His widow dwells
with pardonable pride upon the many evidences found in his letters after
his death. "Now it is an unknown artist for whose brush Home's generous
efforts had found employment; now a distressed worker writes of his sick
wife's life saved by comforts that Home provided; now a mother thanks
him for a start in life for her son.

How much time and thought he devoted to helping others when the
circumstance of his own life would have led most men to think only of
their own needs and cares."

"Send me a word from the heart that has known so often how to cheer 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 under fire, with
his pockets full of cigars for the wounded. A German officer writes
affectionately to remind him how he saved him from bleeding to death,
and carried him on his own weak back out of the place of danger. Truly
Mrs. Browning was a better judge of character than her spouse, and Sir
Galahad a better name than Sludge.

At the same time, it would be absurd to depict Home as a man of flawless
character. He had the weakness of his temperament, and something
feminine in his disposition which showed itself in many ways. The
author, while in Australia, came across a correspondence dating from
1856 between Home and the elder son of the Rymer family. They had
travelled together in Italy, and Home had deserted his friend under
circumstances which showed inconstancy and ingratitude. It is only fair
to add that his health was so broken at the time that he could hardly be
called normal. "He had the defects of an emotional character," said Lord
Dunraven, "with vanity highly developed, perhaps wisely to enable him to
hold his own against the ridicule that was then poured out on
Spiritualism and everything connected with it. He was liable to fits of
great depression and to nervous crises difficult to understand, but he
was withal of a simple, kindly, humorous, loving disposition that
appealed to me…. My friendship remained without 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 not possess-indeed, the
characteristic of his psychic power was its unusual versatility. We
speak usually of a Direct Voice medium, of a trance speaker, of a
clairvoyant or of a physical medium, but Home was all four. So far as
can be traced, he had little experience of the powers of other mediums,
and was not immune from that psychic jealousy which is a common trait of
these sensitives. Mrs. Jencken, formerly Miss Kate Fox, was the only
other medium with whom he was upon terms of friendship. He bitterly
resented any form of deception, and carried this excellent trait rather
too far by looking with eyes of suspicion upon all forms of
manifestations which did not exactly correspond with his own. This
opinion, expressed in an uncompromising manner in his last book, "Lights
and Shadows of Spiritualism," gave natural offence to other mediums who
claimed to be as honest as himself. A wider acquaintance with phenomena
would have made him more charitable. Thus he protested strongly against
any seance being held in the dark, but this is certainly a counsel of
perfection, for experiments upon the ectoplasm which is the physical
basis of all materializations show that it is usually affected by light
unless the light is tinted red. Home had no large experience of complete
materializations such as were obtained in those days by Miss Florence
Cook, or Madame d'Esperance, or in our own time, by Madame Bisson's
medium, and therefore he could dispense with complete darkness in his
own ministry. Thus, his opinion was unjust to others. Again, Home
declared roundly that matter could not pass through matter, because his
own phenomena did not take that form; and yet the evidence that matter
can in certain cases be passed through matter seems to be overwhelming.
Even birds of rare varieties have been brought into seance rooms under
circumstances which seem to preclude fraud, and the experiments of
passing wood through wood, as shown before Zollner and the other Leipzig
professors, were quite final as set forth in the famous physicist's
account in "Transcendental Physics" of his experiences with Slade. Thus,
it may count as a small flaw in Home's character that he decried and
doubted the powers which he himself did not happen to possess.

Some also might count it as a failing that he carried his message rather
to the leaders of society and of life than to the vast toiling masses.
It is probable that Home had, in fact, the weakness as well as the
graces of the artistic nature and that he was most at ease and happiest
in an atmosphere of elegance and refinement, with a personal repulsion
from all that was sordid and ill-favoured. If there were no other reason
the precarious state of his health unfitted him for any sterner mission,
and he was driven by repeated hemorrhages to seek the pleasant and
refined life of Italy, Switzerland and the Riviera. But for the
prosecution of his mission, as apart from personal self-sacrifice, there
can be no doubt that his message carried to the laboratory of a Crookes
or to the Court of a Napoleon was more useful than if it were laid
before the crowd. The assent of science and of character was needed
before the public could gain assurance that such things were true. If it
was not fully gained the fault lies assuredly with the hidebound men of
science and thinkers of the day, and by no means with Home, who played
his part of actual demonstration to perfection, leaving it to other and
less gifted men to analyse and to make public that which he had shown
them. He did not profess to be a man of science, but he was the raw
material of science, willing and anxious that others should learn from
him all that he could convey to the world, so that science should itself
testify to religion while religion should be buttressed upon science.
When Home's message has been fully learned an unbelieving man will not
stand convicted of impiety, but of ignorance.

There was something pathetic in Home's efforts to find some creed in
which he could satisfy his own gregarious instinct-for he had no claims
to be a strong-minded individualist-and at the same time find a niche
into which he could fit his own precious packet of assured truth. His
pilgrimage vindicates the assertion of some Spiritualists that a man may
belong to any creed and carry with him the spiritual knowledge, but it
also bears out those who reply that perfect harmony with that spiritual
knowledge can only be found, as matters now stand, in a special
Spiritualist community. Alas! that it should be so, for it is too big a
thing to sink into a sect, however great that sect might become. Home
began in his youth as a Wesleyan, but soon left them for the more
liberal atmosphere of Congregationalism. In Italy the artistic
atmosphere of the Roman Catholic Church, and possibly its record of so
many phenomena akin to his own, caused him to become a convert with an
intention of joining a monastic Order-an intention which his common
sense caused him to abandon. The change of religion was at a period when
his psychic powers had deserted him for a year, and his confessor
assured him that as they were of evil origin they would certainly never
be heard of again now that he was a son of the true Church. None the
less, on the very day that the year expired they came back in renewed
strength. From that time Home seems to have been only nominally a
Catholic, if at all, and after his second marriage-both his marriages
were to Russian ladies-he was strongly drawn towards the Greek Church,
and it was under their ritual that he was at last laid to rest at St.
Germain in 1886. "To another discerning of Spirits" (I Cor. xii. 10) is
the short inscription upon that grave, of which the world has not yet
heard the last.

If proof were needed of the blamelessness of Home's life, it could not
be better shown than by the fact that his numerous enemies, spying ever
for some opening to attack, could get nothing in his whole career upon
which to comment save the wholly innocent affair which is known as the
Home-Lyon case. Any impartial judge reading the depositions in this
case-they are to be found verbatim in the second series of "Incidents in
My Life"-would agree that it is not blame but commiseration which was
owing to Home. One could desire no higher proof of the nobility of his
character than his dealings with this unpleasant freakish woman, who
first insisted upon settling a large sum of money upon him, and then,
her whim having changed and her expectations of an immediate
introduction into high society being disappointed, stuck at nothing in
order to get it back again. Had she merely asked for it back there is
little doubt that Home's delicate feelings would have led him to return
it, even though he had been put to much trouble and expense over the
matter, which had entailed a change of his name to Home-Lyon, to meet
the woman'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 in accepting the
gift. If one consults the original letters-which few of those who
comment upon the case seem to have done-one finds that Home, S. C. Hall
as his representative and Mr. Wilkinson as his solicitor, implored the
woman to moderate the unreasonable benevolence which was to change so
rapidly into even more unreasonable malevolence. She was absolutely
determined that Home should have the money and be her heir. A less
mercenary man never lived, and he begged her again and again to think of
her relatives, to which she answered that the money was her own to do
what she pleased with, and that no relatives were dependent upon it.
From the time that he accepted the new situation he acted and wrote as a
dutiful son, and it is not uncharitable to suppose that this entirely
filial attitude may not have been that which this elderly lady had
planned out in her scheming brain. At any rate, she soon tired of her
fad and reclaimed her money upon the excuse-a monstrous one to anyone
who will read the letters and consider the dates-that spirit messages
had caused her to take the action she had done.

The case was tried in the Court of Chancery, and the judge alluded to
Mrs. Lyon's "innumerable misstatements on many important
particulars-misstatements upon oath so perversely untrue that they have
embarrassed the Court to a great degree and quite discredited the
plaintiff's testimony." In spite of this caustic comment, and in spite
also of elementary justice, the verdict was against Home on the general
ground that British law put the burden of disproof upon the defendant in
such a case, and complete disproof is impossible when assertion is met
by counter-assertion. Lord Giffard might, no doubt, have risen superior
to the mere letter of the law had it not been that he was deeply
prejudiced against all claims to psychic power, which were from his
point of view manifestly absurd and yet were persisted in by the
defendant under his nose in his own Court of Chancery. Even Home's worst
enemies were forced to admit that the fact that he had retained the
money in England and had not lodged it where it would have been beyond
recovery proved his honest intentions in this the most unfortunate
episode of his life. Of all the men of honour who called him friend, it
is not recorded that he lost one through the successful machinations of
Mrs. Lyon. Her own motives were perfectly obvious. As all the documents
were in order, her only possible way of getting the money back was to
charge Home with having extorted it from her by misrepresentation, and
she was cunning enough to know what chance a medium-even an amateur
unpaid medium-would have in the ignorant and material atmosphere of a
mid-Victorian court of law. Alas! that we can omit the "mid-Victorian"
and the statement still holds good.

The powers of Home have been attested by so many famous observers, and
were shown under such frank conditions, that no reasonable man can
possibly doubt them. Crookes's evidence alone is conclusive.* There is
also the remarkable book, reprinted at a recent date, in which Lord
Dunraven gives the story of his youthful connexion with Home. But apart
from these, among those in England who investigated in the first few
years and whose public testimony or letters to Home show they were not
only convinced of the genuineness of the phenomena, but also of their
spiritual origin, may be mentioned the Duchess of Sutherland, Lady
Shelley, Lady Gomm, Dr. Robert Chambers, Lady Otway, Miss Catherine
Sinclair, Mrs. Milner Gibson, Mr. and Mrs. William Howitt, Mrs. De
Burgh, Dr. Gully (of Malvern), Sir Charles Nicholson, 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 of Spiritualism," and S.P.R. PROCEEDINGS,
VI., p. 98.

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

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




CHAPTER X



THE DAVENPORT BROTHERS


In order to present a consecutive story the career of D. D. Home has
been traced in its entirety. It is necessary now to return to earlier
days in America and consider the development of the two Davenports. Home
and the Davenports both played an international part, and their history
helps to cover the movement both in England and in the States. The
Davenports worked upon a far lower level than Home, making a profession
of their remarkable gifts, and yet by their crude methods they got their
results across to the multitude in a way which a more refined mediumship
could not have done. If one considers this whole train of events as
having been engineered by a wise but by no means infallible or
omnipotent force upon the Other Side, one observes how each occasion is
met by the appropriate instrument, and how as one demonstration fails to
impress some other one is substituted.

The Davenports have been fortunate in their chroniclers. Two writers
have published books* describing the events of their life, and the
periodical literature of the time is full of their exploits.

Ira Erastus Davenport and William Henry Davenport were born at Buffalo
in the State of New York, the former on September 17, 1839, and the
latter on February 1, 1841. Their father, who was descended from the
early English settlers in America, occupied a position in the police
department of Buffalo. Their mother was born in Kent, England, and went
to America when a child. Some indications of psychic gifts were observed
in the mother's life. In 184.6 the family were disturbed in the middle
of the night by what they described as "raps, thumps, loud noises,
snaps, crackling noises." This was two years before the outbreak in the
Fox family. But it was the Fox manifestations which, in this case as in
so many others, led them to investigate and discover their mediumistic
powers.

* "A Biography of the Brothers Davenport." 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. "Spiritual Experiences:
Including Seven Months with the Brothers Davenport." By Robert Cooper,
London, 1867.

The two Davenport boys and their sister Elizabeth, the youngest of the
three, experimented by placing their hands on a table. Loud and violent
noises were heard and messages were spelt out. The news leaked abroad,
and as with the Fox girls, hundreds of curious and incredulous people
flocked to the house. Ira developed automatic writing, and handed to
those present messages written with extraordinary rapidity and
containing information he could not have known. Levitation quickly
followed, and the boy was floated in the air above the heads of those in
the room at a distance of nine feet from the floor. Next, the brother
and sister were influenced in the same way, and the three children
floated high up in the room. Hundreds of respectable citizens of Buffalo
are reported to have seen these occurrences. Once when the family was at
breakfast the knives, forks, and dishes danced about and the table was
raised in the air. At a sitting soon after this a lead pencil was seen
to write in broad daylight, with no human contact. Seances were now held
regularly, lights began to appear, and musical instruments floated and
played above the heads of the company. The Direct Voice and other
extraordinary manifestations too numerous to mention followed. Yielding
to requests from the communicating intelligences, the brothers started
journeying to various places and holding public seances. Among
strangers, tests were insisted upon. At first the boys were held by
persons selected from those present, but this being found unsatisfactory
because it was thought that those holding them were confederates, the
plan of tying them with ropes was adopted. To read the list of ingenious
tests successively proposed, and put into operation without interfering
with the manifestations, shows how almost impossible it is to convince
resolute sceptics. As soon as one test succeeded another was proposed,
and so on. The professors of Harvard University in 1857 conducted an
examination of the boys and their phenomena. Their biographer writes*:

* "A Biography of the Brothers Davenport." By T. L. Nichols, M.D., pp.
87-8.

The professors exercised their ingenuity in proposing tests. Would they
submit to be handcuffed? Yes. Would they allow men to hold them? Yes. A
dozen propositions were made, accepted, and then rejected by those who
made them. If any test was adopted by the brothers, that was reason
enough for not trying it. They were supposed to be prepared for that, so
some other must be found.

Finally, the professors bought five hundred feet of new rope, bored with
holes the cabinet set up in one of their rooms, and trussed the boys in
what is described as a brutal manner. All the knots in the rope were
tied with linen thread, and one of their number, Professor Pierce, took
his place in the cabinet between the two brothers. At once a phantom
hand was shown, instruments were rattled and were felt by the professor
about his head and face. At every movement he felt for the boys with his
hands, only to find them still securely bound. The unseen operators at
last released the boys from their bindings, and when the cabinet was
opened the ropes were found twisted round the neck of the professor!
After all this, the Harvard professors made no report. It is instructive
also to read the account of the really ingenious test-apparatus
consisting of what may be described as wooden sleeves and trousers,
securely fastened, devised by a man named Darling, in Bangor (U.S.A.).
Like other tests, it proved incapable of preventing instant
manifestations. It is to be remembered that many of these tests were
applied at a time when the brothers were mere boys, too young to have
learned any elaborate means of deception.

It is not strange to read that the phenomena raised violent opposition
almost everywhere, and the brothers were frequently denounced as
jugglers and humbugs. It was after ten years of public work in the
largest cities and towns in the United States that the Davenport
Brothers came to England. They had submitted successfully to every test
that human ingenuity could devise, and no one had been able to say how
their results were obtained. They had won for themselves a great
reputation. Now they had to begin all over again.

The two brothers, Ira and William, at this time were aged twenty-five
and twenty-three years respectively. The NEW YORK WORLD thus describes
them:

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

Dr. Nichols, their biographer, gives this first impression of them:

The young men, with whom I have had but a brief personal acquaintance,
and whom I never saw until their arrival in London, appear to me to be
in intellect and character above the average of their young countrymen,
they are not remarkable for cleverness, though of fair abilities, and
Ira has some artistic talent…. The young men seem entirely honest, and
singularly disinterested and unmercenary-far more anxious to have people
satisfied of their integrity and the reality of their manifestations
than to make money. They have an ambition, without doubt, which is
gratified in their having been selected as the instruments of what they
believe will be some great good to mankind.

They were accompanied to England by the Rev. Dr. Ferguson, formerly
pastor of a large church at Nashville, Tennessee, at which Abraham
Lincoln attended, Mr. D. Palmer, a well-known operatic 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 (Boston 1869,
published anonymously), points out that their mission to England was "to
meet on its own low ground and conquer, by appropriate means, the hard
materialism and scepticism of England." The first step to knowledge, he
says, is to be convinced of ignorance, and adds:

If the manifestations given by the aid of the Brothers Davenport can
prove to the intellectual and scientific classes that there are
forces-and intelligent forces, or powerful intelligences-beyond the
range of their philosophies, and that what they consider physical
impossibilities are readily accomplished by invisible, and to them
unknown, intelligences, a new universe will be open to human thought and
investigation.

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

The manifestations of Mrs. Hayden's mediumship were quiet and
unobtrusive, and while those of D. D. Home were more remarkable, they
were confined entirely to exclusive sets of people to whom no fees were
charged. Now these two brothers hired public halls and challenged the
world at large to come and witness phenomena which passed the bounds of
all ordinary belief. It needed no foresight to predict for them a
strenuous time of opposition, and so it proved. But they attained the
end which the unseen directors undoubtedly had in view. They roused
public attention as it had never been roused before in England on this
subject. No better testimony in proof of that could be had than that of
their strongest opponent, Mr. J. N. Maskelyne, the celebrated conjurer.

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

* "Modern Spiritualism," p. 65.

The Brothers did more than all other men to familiarize England with the
so-called Spiritualism, and before crowded audiences and under varied
conditions, they produced really wonderful feats. The hole-and-corner
seances of other media, where with darkness or semi-darkness, and a
pliant, or frequently a devoted assembly, manifestations are
occasionally said to occur, cannot be compared with the Davenport
exhibitions in their effect upon the public mind.

Their first seance in London, a private one, was held on September 28,
1864, at the residence in Regent Street of Mr. Dion Boucicault, the
famous actor and author, in the presence of leading newspaper men and
distinguished men of science. The Press reports of the seance were
remarkably full and, for a wonder, fair.

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

The party invited to witness the manifestations last night consisted of
some twelve or fourteen individuals, all of whom are admitted to be of
considerable distinction in the various professions with which they are
connected. The majority have never previously witnessed anything of the
kind. All, however, were determined to detect and if possible expose any
attempt at deception. The Brothers Davenport are slightly built,
gentleman-like in appearance, and about the last persons in the world
from whom any great muscular performances might be expected. Mr. Fay is
apparently a few years older, and of more robust constitution.

After describing what occurred, the writer goes on:

All that can be asserted is, that the displays to which we have referred
took place on the present occasion under conditions and circumstances
that preclude the presumption of fraud.

THE TIMES, the DAILY TELEGRAPH, and other newspapers published long and
honest reports. We omit quotations from them because the following
important statement from Mr. Dion Boucicault, which appeared in the
Daily News as well as in many other London journals, covers all the
facts. It describes a later seance at Mr. Boucicault's house on October
11, 1864, at which were present, among others Viscount Bury, M.P., Sir
Charles Wyke, Sir Charles Nicholson, the Chancellor of the University of
Sydney, Mr. Robert Chambers, Charles Reade, the novelist, and Captain
Inglefield, the Arctic explorer.


SIR,

A seance by the Brothers Davenport and Mr. W. Fay took place in my house
yesterday in the presence of…. (here he mentions twenty-four names
including all those already quoted)….

At three o'clock our party was fully assembled…. We sent to a
neighbouring music-seller for six guitars and two tambourines, so that
the implements to be used should not be those with which the operators
were familiar.

At half-past three the Davenport Brothers and Mr. Fay arrived, and found
that we had altered their arrangements by changing the room which they
had previously selected for their manifestations.

The seance then began by an examination of the dress and persons of the
Brothers Davenport, and it was certified that no apparatus or other
contrivance was concealed on or about their persons. They entered the
cabinet, and sat facing each other. Captain Inglefield then, with a new
rope provided by ourselves, tied Mr. W. Davenport hand and foot, with
his hands behind his back, and then bound him firmly to the seat where
he sat. Lord Bury, in like manner, secured Mr. I. Davenport. The knots
on these ligatures were then fastened with sealing-wax, and a seal was
affixed. A guitar, violin, tambourine, two bells, and a brass trumpet
were placed on the floor of the cabinet. The doors were then closed, and
a sufficient light was permitted in the room to enable us to see what
followed.

I shall omit any detailed account of the babel of sounds which arose in
the cabinet, and the violence with which the doors were repeatedly burst
open and the instruments expelled; the hands appearing, as usual, at a
lozenge-shaped orifice in the centre door of the cabinet. The following
incidents 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 and bound, 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 in the seance, the doors of the
cabinet being open, and while the ligatures of the Brothers Davenport
were being examined, a very white, thin, female hand and wrist quivered
for several seconds in the air above. This appearance drew a general
exclamation from all the party.

Sir Charles Wyke now entered the cabinet and sat between the two young
men-his hands being right and left on each, and secured to them. The
doors were then closed, and the babel of sounds recommenced. Several
hands appeared at the orifice-among them the hand of a child. After a
space, Sir Charles returned amongst us and stated that while he held the
two brothers, several hands touched his face and pulled his hair; the
instruments at his feet crept up, played round his body and over his
head-one of them lodging eventually on his shoulders. During the
foregoing incidents the hands which appeared were touched and grasped by
Captain Inglefield, and he stated that to the touch they were apparently
human hands, though they passed away from his grasp.

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

The next part of the seance was performed in the dark. One of the
Messrs. Davenport and Mr. Fay seated themselves amongst us. Two ropes
were thrown at their feet, and in two minutes and a half they were tied
hand and foot, their hands behind their backs bound tightly to their
chairs, and their chairs bound to an adjacent table. While this process
was going on, the guitar rose from the table and swung or floated round
the room and over the heads of the party, and slightly touching some.
Now a phosphoric light shot from side to side over our heads; the laps
and hands and shoulders of several were simultaneously touched, struck,
or pawed by hands, the guitar meanwhile sailing round the room, now near
the ceiling, and then scuffling on the head and shoulders of some luck
less Wight. The bells whisked here and there, and a light thrumming was
maintained on the violin. The two tambourines seemed to roll hither and
thither on the floor, now shaking violently, and now visiting the knees
and hands of our circle-all these foregoing actions, audible or
tangible, being simultaneous. Mr. Rideout, holding a tambourine,
requested it might be plucked from his hand; it was almost
instantaneously taken from him. At the same time, Lord Bury made a
similar request, and a forcible attempt to pluck a tambourine from his
grasp was made which he resisted. Mr. Fay then asked that his coat
should be removed. We heard instantly a violent twitch, and here
occurred the most remarkable fact. A light was struck before the coat
had quite, left Mr. Fay's person, and it was seen quitting him, plucked
off him upwards. It flew up to the chandelier, where it hung for a
moment and then fell to the ground. Mr. Fay was seen meanwhile bound
hand and foot as before. One of our party now divested himself of his
coat, and it was placed on the table. The light was extinguished and
this coat was rushed on to Mr. Fay's back with equal rapidity. During
the above occurrences in the dark, we placed a sheet of paper under the
feet of these two operators, and drew with a pencil an outline around
them, to the end that if they moved it might be detected. They of their
own accord offered to have their hands filled with flour, or any other
similar substance, to prove they made no use of them, but this
precaution was deemed unnecessary; we required them, however, to count
from one to twelve repeatedly, that their voices constantly heard might
certify to us that they were in the places where they were tied. Each of
our own party held his neighbour firmly, so that no one could move
without two adjacent neighbours being aware of it.

At the termination of this seance, a general conversation took place on
the subject of what we had heard and witnessed. Lord Bury suggested that
the general opinion seemed to be that we should assure the Brothers
Davenport and Mr. W. Fay that after a very stringent trial and strict
scrutiny of their proceedings, the gentlemen present could arrive at no
other conclusion than that there was no trace of trickery in any form,
and certainly there were neither confederates nor machinery, and that
all those who had witnessed the results would freely state in the
society in which they moved that, so far as their investigations enabled
them to form an opinion, the phenomena which had taken place in their
presence were not the product of legerdemain. This suggestion was
promptly acceded to by all present.

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

This wonderfully full and lucid account is given without abbreviation
because it supplies the answer to many objections, and because the
character of the narrator and the witnesses cannot be questioned. It
surely must be accepted as quite final so far as honesty is concerned.
All subsequent objections are mere ignorance of the facts.

In October, 1864, the Davenports began to give public seances at the
Queen's Concert Rooms, Hanover Square. Committees were appointed from
the audience, and every effort made to detect how it was all done, but
without avail. These seances, interspersed with private ones, were
continued almost nightly until the close of the year. The daily Press
was full of accounts of them, and the brothers' names were on everyone's
lips. Early in 1865 they toured the English provinces, and in Liverpool,
Huddersfield, and Leeds they suffered violence at the hands of excited
mobs. At Liverpool, in February, two members of the audience tied their
hands so brutally that blood flowed, and Mr. Ferguson cut the rope and
released them. The Davenports refused to continue, and the mob rushed
the platform and smashed up the cabinet. The same tactics were resorted
to at Huddersfield on February 21, and then at Leeds with increased
violence, the result of organized opposition. These riots led to the
Davenports cancelling any other engagements in England. They next went
to Paris, where they received a summons to appear at the Palace of St.
Cloud, where the Emperor and Empress and a party of about forty
witnessed a seance. While in Paris, Hamilton, the successor of the
celebrated conjurer., Robert Houdin, visited them, and in a letter to a
Paris newspaper, he said: "The phenomena surpassed my expectations, and
the experiments are full of interest for me. I consider it my duty to
add they are inexplicable." After a return visit to London, Ireland was
visited at the beginning of 1866. In Dublin they had many influential
sitters, including the editor of the IRISH TIMES and the Rev. Dr.
Tisdal, who publicly proclaimed his belief in the manifestations.

In April of the same year the Davenports went to Hamburg and then to
Berlin, but the expected war (which their guides told them would come
about) made the trip unremunerative. Theatre managers offered them
liberal terms for exhibitions, but, heeding the advice of their
ever-present spirit monitor, who said that their manifestations, being
supernatural, should be kept above the level of theatrical
entertainments, they declined, though much against the wish of their
business manager. During their month's stay in Berlin they were visited
by members of the Royal family. After three weeks in Hamburg they
proceeded to Belgium, where considerable success was attained in
Brussels, and all the principal towns. They next went to Russia,
arriving in St. Petersburg on December 27, 1866. On January 7, 1867,
they gave their first public seance to an audience numbering one
thousand. The next seance was at the residence of the French Ambassador
to a gathering of about fifty people, including officers of the Imperial
Court, and on January q they gave a seance in the Winter Palace to the
Emperor and the Imperial family. They afterwards visited Poland and
Sweden. On April 11, 1868, they reappeared in London at the Hanover
Square Rooms, and received an enthusiastic welcome from a crowded
audience. Mr. Benjamin Coleman, a prominent Spiritualist, who arranged
their first public seances in London, writing at this time of their stay
of close on four years in Europe, says*:

* SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE, 1868, p. 321.

I desire to convey to those of my friends in America who introduced them
to me, the assurance of my conviction that the Brothers' mission to
Europe has been of great service to Spiritualism; that their public
conduct as mediums-in which relation I alone know them-has been steady
and unexceptionable.

He adds that he knows no form of mediumship better adapted for a large
audience than theirs. After this visit to London the Davenports returned
home to America. The brothers visited Australia in 1876, and on August
24 gave their first public seance in Melbourne. William died in Sydney
in July, 1877.

Throughout their career the Davenport Brothers excited the deep envy and
malice of the conjuring fraternity. Maskelyne, with amazing 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, how his tricks were done, and comparing them with the results
achieved by the Davenports, said: "The two bear about as much
resemblance to each other as the productions of the poet Close to the
sublime and glorious dramas of the immortal bard of Avon."* Still the
conjurers made more noise in public than the Spiritualists, and with the
Press to support them they made the general public believe that the
Davenport Brothers had been exposed.

* Address at Cavendish Rooms, London, June 15, 1873.

In announcing the death in America of Ira Davenport in 1911, LIGHT
comments on the outpouring of journalistic ignorance for which it
furnished the opportunity. The Daily News is quoted as saying of the
brothers: "They made the mistake of appearing as sorcerers instead of as
honest conjurers. If, like their conqueror, Maskelyne, they had thought
of saying, 'It's so simple,' the brethren might have achieved not only
fortune but respectability." In reply to this, LIGHT asks why, if they
were mere conjurers and not honest believers in their mediumship, did
the Davenport Brothers endure hardships, insults, and injuries, and
suffer the indignities that were put upon them, when by renouncing their
claims to mediumship they might have been "respectable" and rich?

An inevitable remark on the part of those who are not able to detect
trickery is to ask what elevating purpose can be furthered by phenomena
such as those observed with the Davenports. The well-known author and
sturdy Spiritualist, William Howitt, has given a good answer:

Are these who play tricks and fling about instruments spirits from
Heaven? Can God really send such? Yes, God sends them, to teach us this,
if nothing more: that He has servants 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 a low and very sensual age. Had He sent anything
higher it would have 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 the greatest mediums
of their kind that the world has ever seen-suffered throughout their
lives from brutal opposition and even persecution. Many times they were
in danger of their lives.

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

Touching this aspect, Mr. Randall says*:

* "Biography," p. 82.

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

Mediums ALONE are capable of DEMONSTRATING the fact of man's continued
existence after death; and yet (strange inconsistency of human nature)
the very people who persecute these, their truest and best friends, and
fairly hound them to premature death or despair, are the very ones who
freely lavish all that wealth can give upon those whose office it is
merely to GUESS at human immortality.

In discussing the claims of various professional magicians to have
exposed or imitated the Davenports, Sir Richard Burton said:

I have spent a great part of my life in Oriental lands, and have seen
their many magicians. Lately I have been permitted to see and be present
at the performances of Messrs. Anderson and Tolmaque. The latter showed,
as they profess, clever conjuring, but they do not even attempt what the
Messrs. Davenport and Fay succeed in doing: for instance, the beautiful
management of the musical instruments. Finally, I have read and listened
to every explanation of the Davenport "tricks" hitherto placed before
the English public, and, believe me, if anything would 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, as contrasted with
their friends and travelling companions, never claimed any preternatural
origin for their results. The reason for this may have been that as an
entertainment it was more piquant and less provocative when every member
of the audience could form his own solution. Writing to the American
conjurer Houdini, Ira Davenport said in his old age, "We never in public
affirmed our belief in Spiritualism. That we regarded as no business of
the public, nor did we offer our entertainment as the result of
sleight-of-hand, or, on the other hand, as Spiritualism. We let our
friends and foes settle that as best they could between themselves, but,
unfortunately, we were often the victims of their disagreements."

Houdini further claimed that Davenport admitted that his results were
normally effected, but Houdini has himself stuffed so many errors of
fact into his book, "A Magician Among the Spirits," and has shown such
extraordinary bias on the whale question, that his statement carries no
weight. The letter which he produces makes no such admission. A further
statement quoted as being made by Ira Davenport is demonstrably false.
It is that the instruments never left the cabinet. As a matter of fact,
The Timer representative was severely struck in the face by a floating
guitar, his brow being cut, and on several occasions when a light was
struck instruments dropped all over the room. If Houdini has completely
misunderstood this latter statement, it is not likely that he is very
accurate upon the former (VIDE Appendix).

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

The fault lies not with the immortals, but in us; for, as is the demand,
so is the supply. If we cannot be reached in one way, we must be, and
are, reached in another; and the wisdom of the eternal world gives the
blind race just as much as it can bear and no more. If we are
intellectual babes, we must put up with mental pap till our digestive
capacities warrant and demand stronger food; and, if people can best be
convinced of immortality by spiritual pranks and antics, the ends
resorted to justify the means. The sight of a spectral arm in an
audience of three thousand persons will appeal to more hearts, make a
deeper impression, and convert more people to a belief in their
hereafter, in ten minutes, than a whole regiment of preachers, no matter
how eloquent, could in five years.




CHAPTER XI



THE RESEARCHES OF SIR WILLIAM CROOKES (1870-1874)


The research into the phenomena of Spiritualism by Sir William
Crookes-or Professor Crookes, as he then was-during the years from 1870
to 1874 is one of the outstanding incidents in the history of the
movement. It is notable on account of the high scientific standing of
the inquirer, the stern and yet just spirit in which the inquiry was
conducted, the extraordinary results, and the uncompromising declaration
of faith which followed them. It has been a favourite device of the
opponents of the movement to attribute some physical weakness or growing
senility to each fresh witness to psychic truth, but none can deny that
these researches were carried out by a man at the very zenith of his
mental development, and that the famous career which followed was a
sufficient proof of his intellectual stability. It is to be remarked
that the result was to prove the integrity not only of the medium
Florence Cook with whom the more sensational results were 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 received from this
body in 1875 a Royal Gold Medal for his various chemical and physical
researches, the Davy Medal in 1888, and the Sir Joseph Copley Medal in
1904. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1897, and was awarded the
Order of Merit in 1910. He occupied the position of President at
different tunes of the Royal Society, the Chemical Society, the
Institution of Electrical Engineers, the British Association, and the
Society for Psychical Research. His discovery of the new chemical
element which he named "Thallium," his inventions of the radiometer, the
spinthariscope, and the "Crookes' tube," only represent a slight part of
his great research. He founded in 1859 the CHEMICAL NEWS, which he
edited, and in 1864 he became editor of the QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF
SCIENCE. In 1880 the French Academy of Sciences awarded him a gold medal
and a prize of 3,000 francs in recognition of his important work.

Crookes confesses that he began his investigations into psychical
phenomena believing that the whole matter might prove to be a trick. His
scientific brethren held the same view, and were delighted at the course
he had adopted. Profound satisfaction was expressed because the subject
was to be investigated by a man so thoroughly qualified. They had little
doubt that what were considered to be the sham pretensions of
Spiritualism would now be exposed. One writer said, "If men like Mr.
Crookes grapple with the subject… we shall soon know how much to
believe." Dr. (afterwards Professor) Balfour Stewart, in a communication
to Nature, commended the boldness and honesty which had led Mr. Crookes
to take this step. Crookes himself took the view that it was the duty of
scientists to make such investigation. He writes: "It argues ill for the
boasted freedom of opinion among scientific men that they have so long
refused to institute a scientific investigation into the existence and
nature of facts asserted by so many competent and credible witnesses,
and which they are freely invited to examine when and where they please.
For my own part, I too much value the pursuit of truth, and the
discovery of any new fact in Nature, to avoid inquiry because it appears
to clash with prevailing opinions." In this spirit he began his inquiry.

It should be stated, however, that though Professor Crookes was sternly
critical as to the physical phenomena, already he had had acquaintance
with the mental phenomena, and would appear to have accepted them.
Possibly this sympathetic spiritual attitude may have aided him in
obtaining his remarkable results, for it cannot be too often
repeated-because it is too often forgotten-that psychic research of the
best sort is really "psychic," and depends upon spiritual conditions. It
is not the bumptious self-opinionated man, sitting with a ludicrous want
of proportion as a judge upon spiritual matters, who attains results;
but it is he who appreciates that the strict use of reason and
observation is not incompatible with humility of mind, and that
courteous gentleness of demeanour which makes for harmony and sympathy
between the inquirer and his subject.

Crookes's less material inquiries seem to have begun in the summer of
1869. In July of that year he had sittings with the well-known medium,
Mrs. Marshall, and in December with another famous medium, J. J. Morse.
In July, 1869, D. D. Home who had been giving seances in St. Petersburg,
returned to London with a letter of introduction to Crookes from
Professor Butlerof.

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

* "Life of Sir William Crookes." By E. E. Fournier d'Albe, 1923.

I cannot help reverting in thought to this time last year. Nelly (his
wife) and I were then sitting together in communion with dear departed
friends, and as twelve o'clock struck they wished us many happy New
Years. I feel that they are looking on now, and as space is no obstacle
to them, they are, I believe, looking over my dear Nelly at the same
time. Over us both I know there is one whom we all-spirits as well as
mortals-bow down to as Father and Master, and it is my humble prayer to
Him-the Great Good as the mandarin calls Him-that He will continue His
merciful protection to Nelly and me and our dear little family…. May He
also allow us to continue to receive spiritual communications from my
brother who passed over the boundary when in a ship at sea more than
three years ago.

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

And when the earthly years have ended may we continue to spend still
happier ones in the spirit land, glimpses of which I am occasionally
getting.

Miss Florence Cook, with whom Crookes undertook his classical series of
experiments, was a young girl of fifteen who was asserted to possess
strong psychic powers, taking the rare shape of complete
materialization. It would appear to have been a family characteristic,
for her sister, Miss Kate Cook, was not less famous. There had been some
squabble with an alleged exposure in which a Mr. Volckman had taken
sides against Miss Cook, and in her desire for vindication she placed
herself entirely under the protection of Mrs. Crookes, declaring that
her husband might make any experiments upon her powers under his own
conditions, and asking for no reward save that he should clear her
character as a medium by giving his exact conclusions to the world.
Fortunately, she was dealing with a man of unswerving intellectual
honesty. We have had experience in these latter days of mediums giving
themselves up in the same unreserved way to scientific investigation and
being betrayed by the investigators, who had not the moral courage to
admit those results which would have entailed their own public
acceptance of the spiritual interpretation.

Professor Crookes published a full account of his methods in the
QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF SCIENCE, of which he was then editor. In his house
at Mornington Road a small study opened into the chemical laboratory, a
door with a curtain separating the two rooms. Miss Cook lay entranced
upon a couch in the inner room. In the outer in subdued light sat
Crookes, with such other observers as he invited. At the end of a period
which varied from twenty minutes to an hour the materialized figure was
built up from the ectoplasm of the medium. The existence of this
substance and its method of production were unknown at that date, but
subsequent research has thrown much light upon it, an account of which
has been embodied in the chapter on ectoplasm. The actual effect was
that the curtain was opened, and there emerged into the laboratory a
female who was usually as different from the medium as two people could
be. This apparition, which could move, talk, and act in all ways as an
independent entity, is known by the name which she herself claimed as
her own, "Katie King."

The natural explanation of the sceptic is that the two women were really
the same woman, and that Katie was a clever impersonation of Florence.
The objector could strengthen his case by the observation made not only
by Crookes but by Miss Marryat and others, that there were times when
Katie was very like Florence.

Herein lies one of the mysteries of materialization which call for
careful consideration rather than sneers. The author, sitting with Miss
Besinnet, the famous American medium, has remarked the same thing, the
psychic faces beginning when the power was weak by resembling those of
the medium, and later becoming utterly unlike. Some speculators have
imagined that the etheric form of the medium, her spiritual body, has
been liberated by the trance, and is the basis upon which the other
manifesting entities build up their own simulacra. However that may be,
the fact has to be admitted; and it is paralleled by Direct Voice
phenomena, where the voice often resembles that of the medium at first
and then takes an entirely different tone, or divides into two voices
speaking at the same time.

However, the student has certainly the right to claim that Florence Cook
and Katie King were the same individual until convincing 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 Cook and Katie
are thus described:

Katie's height varies; in my house I have seen her six inches taller
than Miss Cook. Last night, with bare feet and not tip-toeing, she was
four and a half inches taller than Miss Cook. Katie's neck was bare last
night; the skin was perfectly smooth both to touch and sight, whilst on
Miss Cook's neck is a large blister, which under similar circumstances
is distinctly visible and rough to the touch. Katie's ears are
unpierced, whilst Miss Cook habitually wears ear-rings. Katie's
complexion is very fair, while that of Miss Cook is very dark. Katie's
fingers are much longer than Miss Cook's, and her face is also larger.
In manners and ways of expression there are also many decided
differences.

In a later contribution, he adds:

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

On one evening I timed Katie's pulse. It beat steadily at 75, whilst
Miss Cook's pulse a little time after was going at its usual rate of 90.
On applying my ear to Katie's chest, I could hear a heart beating
rhythmically inside, and pulsating even more steadily than did Miss
Cook's heart when she allowed me to try a similar experiment after the
seance. Tested in the same way, Katie's lungs were found to be sounder
than her medium's, for at the time I tried my experiment Miss Cook was
under medical treatment for a severe cough.

Crookes took forty-four photographs of Katie King by the aid of 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 seances at my
house almost nightly, to enable me to photograph her by artificial
light. Five complete sets of photographic apparatus were accordingly
fitted up for the purpose, consisting of five cameras, one of the
whole-plate size, one half-plate, one quarter-plate, and two binocular
stereoscopic cameras, which were all brought to bear upon Katie at the
same time on each occasion on which she stood for her portrait. Five
sensitizing and fixing baths were used, and plenty of plates were
cleaned ready for use in advance, so that there might be no hitch or
delay during the photographing operations, which were performed by
myself, aided by one assistant.

My library was used as a dark cabinet. It has folding doors opening into
the laboratory; one of these doors was taken off its hinges, and a
curtain suspended in its place to enable Katie to pass in and out
easily. Those of our friends who were present were seated in the
laboratory facing the curtain, and the cameras were placed a little
behind them, ready to photograph Katie when she came outside, and to
photograph anything also inside the cabinet, whenever the curtain was
withdrawn for the purpose. Each evening there were three or four
exposures of plates in the five cameras, giving at least fifteen
separate pictures at each seance; some of these were spoilt in the
developing, and some in regulating the amount of light. Altogether I
have forty-four negatives, some inferior, some indifferent, and some
excellent.

Some of these photographs are in the author's possession, and surely
there is no more wonderful impression upon any plate than that which
shows Crookes at the height of his manhood, with this angel-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 and artificial existence in order to convey the
lesson of survival to a material and worldly generation, there is no
more fitting term.

Some controversy has arisen as to whether Crookes ever saw the medium
and Katie at the same moment. Crookes says in the course of his report
that he frequently followed Katie into the cabinet, "and have sometimes
seen her and her medium together, but most generally I have found nobody
but the entranced medium lying on the floor, Katie and her white robes
having instantaneously disappeared."

Much more direct testimony, however, is given by Crookes in a letter to
the BANNER OF LIGHT (U.S.A.), which is reproduced in THE SPIRITUALIST
(London) of July 17, 1874, p. 29. He writes:

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

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

One of the most interesting of the pictures is one in which I am
standing by the side of Katie; she has her bare foot upon a particular
part of the floor. Afterwards I dressed Miss Cook like Katie, placed her
and myself in exactly the same position, and we were photographed by the
same cameras, placed exactly as in the other experiment, and illuminated
by the same light. When these two pictures are placed over each other,
the two photographs of myself coincide exactly as regards stature, etc.,
but Katie is half a head taller than Miss Cook, and looks a big woman in
comparison with her. In the breadth of her face, in many of the
pictures, she differs essentially in size from her medium, and the
photographs show several other points of difference.

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

The almost daily seances with which Miss Cook has lately favoured me
have proved a severe tax upon her strength, and I wish to make the most
public acknowledgment of the obligations I am under to her for her
readiness to assist me in my experiments. Every test that I have
proposed she has at once agreed to submit to with the utmost
willingness; she is open and straightforward in speech, and I have never
seen anything approaching the slightest symptom of a wish to deceive.
Indeed, I do 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, for
such a line of action is altogether foreign to her nature. And to
imagine that an innocent schoolgirl of fifteen should be able to
conceive and then successfully carry out for three years so gigantic an
imposture as this, and in that time should submit to any test which
might be imposed upon her, should bear the strictest scrutiny, should be
willing to be searched at any time, either before or after a seance, and
should meet with even better success in my own house than at that of her
parents, knowing that she visited me with the express object of
submitting to strict scientific tests-to imagine, I say, the Katie King
of the last three years to be the result of imposture, does more
violence to one's reason and common sense than to believe her to be what
she herself affirms.*

* "Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism."

Granting that a temporary form was built up from the ectoplasm of
Florence Cook, and that this form was then occupied and used by an
independent being who called herself "Katie King," we are still faced
with the question, "Who was Katie King?" To this we can only give the
answer which she gave herself, while admitting that we have no proof of
it. She declared that she was the daughter of John King, who had long
been known among Spiritualists as the presiding spirit at seances held
for material phenomena. His personality is discussed later in the
chapter upon the Eddy brothers and Mrs. Holmes, to which the reader is
referred. Her earth name had been Morgan, and King was rather the
general title of a certain class of spirits than an ordinary 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 the part, and her general conversation was
consistent with her account. One of the daughters of Professor Crookes
wrote to the author and described her vivid recollection of tales of the
Spanish Main told by this kindly spirit to the children of the family.
She made herself beloved by all. Mrs. Crookes wrote:

At a seance with Miss Cook in our own house when one of our sons was an
infant of three weeks old, Katie King, a materialized spirit, expressed
the liveliest interest in him and asked to be allowed to see the baby.
The infant was accordingly brought into the seance 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 and charm were
unique in his experience.

The reader may reasonably think that the subdued light which has been
alluded to goes far to vitiate the results by preventing exact
observation. Professor Crookes has assured us, however, that as the
series of seances proceeded toleration was established, and the figure
was able to bear a far greater degree of light. This toleration had its
limits, however, which were never passed by Professor Crookes, but which
were tested to the full in a daring experiment described by Miss
Florence Marryat (Mrs. Ross-Church). It should be stated that Professor
Crookes was not present at this experience, nor did Miss Marryat ever
claim that he was. She mentions, however, the name of Mr. Carter Hall as
being one of the company present. Katie had very good-humouredly
consented to testing what the effect would be if a full light were
turned upon her image:

She took up her station against the drawing-room wall, with her arms
extended as if she were crucified. Then three gas-burners were turned on
to their full extent in a room about sixteen feet square. The effect
upon Katie King was marvellous. She looked like herself for the space of
a second only, then she began gradually to melt away. I can compare the
dematerialization of her form to nothing but a wax doll melting before a
hot fire. First the features became blurred and indistinct; they seemed
to run into each other. The eyes sunk in the sockets, the nose
disappeared, the frontal bone fell in. Next the limbs appeared to give
way under her, and she sank lower and lower on the carpet, like a
crumbling edifice. At last there was nothing but her head left above the
ground-then a heap of white drapery only, which disappeared with a
whisk, as if a hand had pulled it after her--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 these seances
Miss Cook's hair was nailed to the ground, which did not in the least
interfere with the subsequent emergence of Katie from the cabinet.

The results obtained in his own home were honestly and fearlessly
reported by Professor Crookes in his Journal, and caused the greatest
possible commotion in the scientific world. A few of the larger spirits,
men like Russel Wallace, Lord Rayleigh, the young and rising physicist
William Barrett, Cromwell Varley, and others, had their former views
confirmed, or were encouraged to advance upon a new path of knowledge.
There was a fiercely intolerant party, however, headed by Carpenter the
physiologist, who derided the matter and were ready to impute anything
from lunacy to fraud to their illustrious colleague. Organized science
carne badly out of the matter. In his published account Crookes gave the
letters in which he asked Stokes, the secretary of the Royal Society, to
come down and see these things with his own eyes. By his refusal to do
so, Stokes placed himself in exactly the same position as those
cardinals who would not look at the moons of Jupiter through Galileo's
telescope. Material science, when faced with a new problem, showed
itself to be just as bigoted as mediaeval theology.

Before quitting the subject of Katie King one should say a few words as
to the future of the great medium from whom she had her physical being.
Miss Cook became Mrs. Corner, but continued to exhibit her remarkable
powers. The author is only aware of one occasion upon which the honesty
of her mediumship was called in question, and that was when she was
seized by Sir George Sitwell and accused of personating a spirit. The
author is of opinion that a materializing medium should always be
secured so that she cannot wander around-and this as a protection
against herself. It is unlikely that she will move in deep trance, but
in the half-trance condition there is nothing to prevent her
unconsciously, or semi-consciously, or in obedience to suggestion from
the expectations of the circle, wandering out of the cabinet into the
room. It is a reflection of our own ignorance that a lifetime of proof
should be clouded by a single episode of this nature. It is worthy of
remark, however, that upon this occasion the observers agreed that the
figure was white, whereas when Mrs. Corner was seized no white was to be
seen. An experienced investigator would probably have concluded that
this was not a materialization, but a transfiguration, which means that
the ectoplasm, being insufficient to build up a complete figure, has
been used to drape the medium so that she herself may carry the
simulacrum. Commenting upon such cases, the great German investigator,
Dr. Schrenck Notzing, says*:

* "Phenomena of Materialization" (English Translation).

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

It would appear, then, that the true reproach in such cases lies with
the negligent sitters rather than with the unconscious medium.

The sensational nature of Professor Crookes's experiments with Miss
Cook, and the fact, no doubt, that they seemed more vulnerable to
attack, have tended to obscure his very positive results with Home and
with Miss Fox, which have established the powers of those mediums upon a
solid basis. Crookes soon found the usual difficulties which researchers
encounter, but he had sense enough to realize that in an entirely new
subject one has to adapt oneself to the conditions, and not abandon the
study in disgust because the conditions refuse to adapt themselves to
our own preconceived ideas. Thus, in speaking of Home, he says:

The experiments I have tried have been very numerous, but owing to our
imperfect knowledge of the conditions which favour or oppose the
manifestations of this force, to the apparently capricious manner in
which it is exerted, and to the fact that Mr. Home himself is subject to
unaccountable ebbs and flows of the force, it has but seldom happened
that a result obtained on one occasion could be subsequently confirmed
and tested with apparatus specially contrived for the purpose.*

* "Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism," p. 10.

The most marked of these results was the alteration in the weight of
objects, which was afterwards so completely confirmed by Dr. Crawford
working with the Goligher circle, and also in the course of the
"Margery" investigation at Boston. Heavy objects could be made light,
and light ones heavy, by the action of some unseen force which appeared
to be under the influence of an independent intelligence. The checks by
which all possible fraud was eliminated are very fully set out in the
record of the experiments, and must convince any unprejudiced reader.
Dr. Huggins, the well-known authority on the spectroscope, and Serjeant
Cox, the eminent lawyer, together with several other spectators,
witnessed the experiments. As already recorded, however, Crookes found
it impossible to get some of the official heads of science to give the
matter one hour of their attention.

The playing upon musical instruments, especially an accordion, under
circumstances when it was impossible to reach the notes, was another of
the phenomena which was very thoroughly examined and then certified by
Crookes and his distinguished assistants. Granting that the medium has
himself the knowledge which would enable him to play the instrument, the
author is not prepared to admit that such a phenomenon is an absolute
proof of independent intelligence. When once the existence of an etheric
body is granted, with limbs which correspond with our own, there is no
obvious reason why a partial detachment should not take place, and why
the etheric fingers should not be placed upon the keys while the
material ones remain upon the medium's lap. The problem resolves itself,
then, into the simpler proposition that the medium's brain can command
his etheric fingers, and that those fingers can be supplied with
sufficient force to press down the keys. Very many psychic phenomena,
the reading with blindfolded eyes, the touching of distant objects, and
so forth, may, in the opinion of the author, be referred to the etheric
body and may be classed rather under a higher and subtler materialism
than under Spiritualism. They are in a class quite distinct from those
mental phenomena such as evidential messages from the dead, which form
the true centre of the spiritual movement. In speaking of Miss Kate Fox,
Professor Crookes says: "I have observed many circumstances which appear
to show that the will and intelligence of the medium have much to do
with the phenomena." He adds that this is not in any conscious or
dishonest way, and continues, "I have observed some circumstances which
seem conclusively to point to the agency of an outside intelligence not
belonging to any human being in the room." * This is the point which the
author has attempted to make as expressed by an authority far higher
than his own.

* "Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism," p. 95.

The phenomena which were chiefly established in the investigation of
Miss Kate Fox were the movement of objects at a distance, and the
production of percussive sounds-or raps. The latter covered a great
range of sound, "delicate ticks, sharp sounds as from an induction coil
in full work, detonations in the air, sharp metallic taps, a crackling
like that heard when a frictional machine is at work, sounds like
scratching, the twittering as of a bird, etc." All of us who have had
experience of these sounds have been compelled to ask ourselves how far
they are under the control of the medium. The author has come to the
conclusion, as already stated, that up to a point they are under the
control of the medium, and that beyond that point they are not. He
cannot easily forget the distress and embarrassment of a great
North-country medium when in the author's presence loud raps, sounding
like the snapping of fingers, broke out round his head in the
coffee-room of a Doncaster hotel. If he had any doubts that raps were
independent of the medium they were finally set at rest upon that
occasion. As to the objectivity of these noises, Crookes says of Miss
Kate Fox:

* "Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism," p. 86.

It seems only necessary for her to place her hand on any substance for
loud thuds to be heard in it, like a triple pulsation, sometimes loud
enough to be heard several rooms off. In this manner I have heard them
in a living tree-on a sheet of glass-on a stretched iron wire-on a
stretched membrane-a tambourine-on the roof of a cab-and on the floor of
a theatre. Moreover, actual contact is not always necessary. I have had
these sounds proceeding from the floor, walls, etc., when the medium's
hands and feet were held-when she was standing on a chair-when she was
suspended in a swing from the ceiling-when she was enclosed in a wire
cage-and when she had fallen fainting on a sofa. I have heard them on a
glass harmonicon-I have felt them on my own shoulder and under my own
hands. I have heard them on a sheet of paper, held between the fingers
by a piece of thread passed through one corner. With a full knowledge of
the numerous theories which have been started, chiefly in America, to
explain these sounds, I have tested them in every way that I could
devise, until there has been no escape from the conviction that they
were true objective occurrences not produced by trickery or mechanical
means.

So finishes the legend of cracking toe joints, dropping apples, and all
the other absurd explanations which have been put forward to explain
away the facts. It is only fair to say, however, that the painful
incidents connected with the latter days of the Fox sisters go some way
to justify those who, without knowing the real evidence, have had their
attention drawn to that single episode-which is treated elsewhere.

It has sometimes been supposed that Crookes modified or withdrew his
opinions upon psychic subjects as expressed in 1874. It may at least be
said that the violence of the opposition, and the timidity of those who
might have supported him, did alarm him and that he felt his scientific
position to be in danger. Without going the length of subterfuge, he did
unquestionably shirk the question. He refused to have his articles upon
the subject republished, and he would not circulate the wonderful
photographs in which the materialized Katie King stood arm-in-arm with
himself. He was exceedingly cautious also in defining his position. In a
letter quoted by Professor Angelo Brofferio, he says*:

* "Fur den Spiritismus," Leipzig, 1894, p. 319.

All that I am concerned in is that invisible and intelligent beings
exist who say that they are the spirits of dead persons. But proof that
they really are the individuals they assume to be, which I require in
order to believe it, I have never received, though I am disposed to
admit that many of my friends assert that they have actually obtained
the desired proofs, and I myself have already frequently been many times
on the verge of this conviction.

As he grew older, however, this conviction hardened, or perhaps he
became more conscious of the moral responsibilities which such
exceptional experiences must entail.

In his presidential address before the British Association at Bristol in
1898, Sir William briefly referred to his earlier researches. He said:

Upon one other interest I have not yet touched-to me the weightiest and
farthest-reaching of all. No incident in my scientific career is more
widely known than the part I took many years ago in certain psychic
researches. Thirty years have passed since I published an account of
experiments tending to show that outside our scientific knowledge there
exists a Force exercised by intelligence differing from the ordinary
intelligence common to mortals…. I have nothing to retract. I adhere to
my already published statements. Indeed, I might add much thereto.

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

* THE INTERNATIONAL PSYCHIC GAZETTE, December, 1917, pp. 61-2.

I have never had any occasion to change my mind on the subject. I am
perfectly satisfied with what I have said in earlier days. It is quite
true that a connexion has been set up between this world and the next.

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

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

The author has had an opportunity lately, through the courtesy of Mr.
Thomas Blyton, of seeing the letter of condolence written by Sir William
Crookes on the occasion of the death of Mrs. Corner. It is dated April
24, 1904, and in it he says: "Convey Lady Crookes's and my own sincerest
sympathy to the family in their irreparable loss. We trust that the
certain belief that our loved ones, when they have passed over, are
still watching over us-a belief which owes so much of its certainty to
the mediumship of Mrs. Corner (or Florence Cook, as she will always be
in our memory-will strengthen and console those who are left behind."
The daughter in announcing the death said, "She died in deep peace and
happiness."




CHAPTER XII



THE EDDY BROTHERS AND THE HOLMESES


It is difficult within any reasonable compass to follow the rise of
various mediums in the United States, and a study of one or two
outstanding cases must typify the whole. The years 1874 and 1875 were
years of great psychic activity, bringing conviction to some and scandal
to others. On the whole the scandal seems to have predominated, but
whether rightly or not is a question which may well be debated. The
opponents of psychic truth having upon their side the clergy of the
various churches, organized science, and the huge inert bulk of material
mankind, had the lay Press at their command, with the result that
everything that was in its favour was suppressed or contorted, and
everything which could tell against it was given the widest publicity.
Hence, a constant checking of past episodes and reassessment of old
values are necessary. Even at the present day the air is charged with
prejudice. If any man of standing at the present instant were to enter a
London newspaper office and say that he had detected a medium in fraud,
the matter would be seized upon eagerly and broadcast over the country;
while if the same man proclaimed that he had beyond all question
satisfied himself that the phenomena were true, it is doubtful if he
would get a paragraph. The scale is always heavily weighted. In America,
where there is practically no Libel Act, and where the Press is often
violent and sensational, this state of things was-and possibly is-even
more in evidence.

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

The Eddy brothers, Horatio and William, were primitive folk farming a
small holding at the hamlet of Chittenden, near Rutland, in the State of
Vermont. An observer has described them as "sensitive, distant and curt
with strangers, look more like hard-working rough farmers than prophets
or priests of a new dispensation, have dark complexions, black hair and
eyes, stiff joints, a clumsy carriage, shrink from advances, and make
new-comers ill at ease and unwelcome. They are at feud with some of
their neighbours and not liked…. They are, in fact, under the ban of a
public opinion that is not prepared or desirous to study the phenomena
as either scientific marvels or revelations from another world."

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

A good deal of curiosity had been aroused in Boston and New York by the
reports of what was happening, and a New York paper, the Daily Graphic,
sent up Colonel Olcott as investigator. Olcott was not at that time
identified with any psychic movement-indeed, his mind was prejudiced
against it, and he approached his task rather in the spirit of an
"exposer." He was a man of clear brain and outstanding ability, with a
high sense of honour. No one can read the very full and intimate details
of his 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 follow truth and accept results even when
they oppose one's expectations and desires. He was no mystic dreamer but
a very practical man of affairs, and some of his psychic research
observations have met with far less attention than they deserve.

Olcott remained for ten weeks in the Vermont atmosphere, which must in
itself have been a feat of considerable endurance, with plain fare, hard
living and uncongenial hosts. He came away with something very near to
personal dislike for his morose entertainers, and at the same time with
absolute confidence in their psychic powers. Like every wise
investigator, he refuses to give blank certificates of character, and
will not answer for occasions upon which he was not present, nor for the
future conduct of those whom he is judging. He confines himself to his
actual experience, and in fifteen remarkable articles which appeared in
the NEW YORK DAILY GRAPHIC in October and November, 1874, he gave his
full results and the steps which he had taken to check them. Reading
these, it is difficult to suggest any precaution which he had omitted.

His first care was to examine the Eddy history. It was a good but not a
spotless record. It cannot be too often insisted upon that the medium is
a mere instrument and that the gift has no relation to character. This
applies to physical phenomena, but not to mental, for no high teaching
could ever come through a low channel. 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 done to raise the wind and also to conciliate their bigoted
neighbours, who were incensed against the real phenomena. Whatever the
cause or motive, it naturally led Olcott to be very circumspect in his
dealings, since it showed an intimate knowledge of tricks.

The ancestry was most interesting, for not only was there an unbroken
record of psychic power extending over several generations, but their
grand mother four times removed had been burned as a witch-or at least
had been sentenced to that fate in the famous Salem trials of 1692.
There are many living now who would be just as ready to take this short
way with our mediums as ever Cotton Mather was, but police prosecutions
are the modern equivalent. The father of the Eddys was unhappily one of
those narrow persecuting fanatics. Olcott declares that the children
were marked for life by the blows which he gave them in order to
discourage what he chose to look upon as diabolical powers. The mother,
who was herself strongly psychic, knew how unjustly this "religious"
brute was acting, and the homestead must have become a hell upon earth.
There was no refuge for the children outside, for the psychic phenomena
used to follow them even into the schoolroom, and excite the revilings
of the ignorant young barbarians around them. At home, when young Eddy
fell into a trance, the father and a neighbour poured boiling water over
him and placed a red-hot coal on his head, leaving an indelible scar.
The lad fortunately slept on. Is it to be wondered at that after such a
childhood the children should have grown into morose and secretive men?

As they grew older the wretched father tried to make some money out of
the powers which he had so brutally discouraged, and hired the children
out as mediums. No one has ever yet adequately described the sufferings
which public mediums used to undergo at the hands of idiotic
investigators and cruel sceptics. Olcott testifies that the hands and
arms of the sisters as well as the brothers were grooved with the marks
of ligatures and scarred with burning sealing wax, while two of the
girls had pieces of flesh pinched out by handcuffs. They were ridden on
rails, beaten, fired at, stoned and chased while their cabinet was
repeatedly broken to pieces. The blood oozed from their finger-nails
from the compression of arteries. These were the early days in America,
but Great Britain has little to boast of when one recalls the Davenport
brothers and the ignorant violence of the Liverpool mob.

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

The method of the seances was that the medium should sit in a cabinet at
one end of the room, and that his audience should occupy rows of benches
in front of him. The inquirer will probably ask why there should be a
cabinet at all, and extended experience has shown that it can, as a
matter of fact, be dispensed with save in this particular crowning
phenomenon of materialization. Home never used a cabinet, and it is
seldom used by our chief British mediums of to-day. There is, however, a
very definite reason for its presence. Without being too didactic upon a
subject which is still under examination, it may at least be stated, as
a working hypothesis with a great deal to recommend it, that the
ectoplasmic vapour which solidifies into the plasmic substance from
which the forms are constructed can be more easily condensed in a
limited space. It has been found, however, that the presence of the
medium within that space is not needful. At the greatest materialization
seance which the author has ever attended, where some twenty forms of
various ages and sizes appeared in one evening, the medium sat outside
the door of the cabinet from which the shapes emerged. Presumably,
according to the hypothesis, his ectoplasmic vapour was conducted into
the confined space, irrespective of the position of his physical body.
This had not been recognized at the date of this investigation, so the
cabinet was employed.

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

Under these circumstances Olcott related in his newspaper articles, and
afterwards in his remarkable book, "People from the Other World," that
he saw in the course of ten weeks no fewer than four hundred apparitions
appear out of this cabinet, of all sorts, sizes, sexes and races, clad
in the most marvellous garments, babies in arms, Indian warriors,
gentlemen in evening dress, a Kurd with a nine-foot lance, squaws who
smoked tobacco, ladies in fine costumes. Such was Olcott's evidence, and
there was not a statement he made for which he was not prepared to
produce the evidence of a roomful of people. His story was received with
incredulity then, and will excite little less incredulity now. Olcott,
full of his subject and knowing his own precautions, chafed, as all of
us chafe, at the criticism of those who had not been present, and who
chose to assume that those who were present were dupes and simpletons.
He says: "If one tells them of babies being carried in from the cabinet
by women, of young girls with lithe forms, yellow hair and short
stature, of old women and men standing in full sight and speaking to us,
of half-grown children seen, two at a time, simultaneously with another
form, of costumes of different makes, of bald heads, grey hair, black
shocky heads of hair, curly hair, of ghosts instantly recognized by
friends, and ghosts speaking audibly in a foreign language of which the
medium is ignorant-their equanimity is not disturbed…. The credulity of
some scientific men, too, is boundless-they would rather believe that a
baby could lift a mountain without levers, than that a spirit could lift
an ounce."

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

William Eddy, the chief medium for these phenomena, does not appear to
have suffered in health or strength from that which is usually a most
exhausting process. Crookes has testified how Home would "lie in an
almost fainting condition on the floor, pale and speechless." Home,
however, was not a rude open air farmer, but a sensitive artistic
invalid. Eddy seems to have eaten little, but smoked incessantly. Music
and singing were employed at the seances, for it has long been observed
that there is a close connexion between musical vibrations and psychic
results. White light also has been found to prohibit results, and this
is now explained from the devastating effects which light has been shown
to exert upon ectoplasm. Many colours have been tried in order to
prevent total darkness, but if you can trust your medium the latter is
the most conducive to results, especially to those results of
phosphorescent and flashing lights which are among the most beautiful of
the phenomena. If a light is used, red is the colour which is best
tolerated. In the Eddy seances there was a subdued illumination from a
shaded lamp.

It would be wearisome to the reader to enter into details as to the
various types which appeared in these remarkable gatherings. Madame
Blavatsky, who was then an unknown woman in New York, had come up to see
the sights. At that time she had not yet developed the theosophical line
of thought, and was an ardent Spiritualist. Colonel Olcott and she met
for the first time in the Vermont farm-house, and there began a
friendship which was destined in the future to lead to strange
developments. In her honour apparently a whole train of Russian images
appeared, who carried on conversations in that language with the lady.
The chief apparitions, however, were a giant Indian named Santum and an
Indian squaw named Honto, who materialized so completely and so often
that the audience may well have been excused if they forgot sometimes
that they were dealing with spirits at all. So close was the contact
that Olcott measured Honto on a painted scale beside the cabinet door.
She was five feet three. On one occasion she exposed her woman's breast
and asked a lady present to feel the beating of her heart. Honto was a
light-hearted person, fond of dancing, of singing, of smoking, and of
exhibiting her wealth of dark hair to the audience. Santum, on the 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 he materialized. Some of the Eddy
spirits could speak and others could not, while the amount of fluency
varied greatly. This was in accordance with the author's experience at
similar seances. It seems that the returning soul has much to learn when
it handles this simulacrum of itself, and that here, as elsewhere,
practice goes for much. In speaking, these figures move their lips
exactly as human beings would do. It has been shown also that their
breath in lime water produces the characteristic reaction of carbon
dioxide. Olcott says: "The spirits themselves say that they have to
learn the art of self-materialization, as one would any other art." At
first they could only make tangible hands as in the cases of the
Davenports, the Foxes, and others. Many mediums never get beyond this
stage.

Among the numerous visitors to the Vermont homestead there were
naturally some who took up a hostile attitude. None of these, however,
seems to have gone into the matter with any thoroughness. The one who
attracted most attention was a Dr. Beard, of New York, a medical man,
who on the strength of a single sitting contended that the figures were
all impersonations by William Eddy himself. No evidence, and only his
own individual impression is put forward to sustain this view, and he
declared that he could produce all the effects with "three dollars'
worth of theatrical properties." Such an opinion might well be honestly
formed upon a single performance, especially if it should have been a
more or less unsuccessful one. But it becomes perfectly untenable when
it is compared with the experiences of those who attended a number of
sittings. Thus, Dr. Hodgson, of Stoneham, Mass., together with four
other witnesses, signed a document: "We certify…that Santum was out on
the platform when another Indian of 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 a conversation was being carried on between George Dix,
Mayflower, old Mr. Morse, and Mrs. Eaton inside the cabinet. We
recognized the familiar voice of each." There are many such testimonies,
apart from Olcott, and they put the theory of impersonation quite out of
court. It should be added that many of the forms were little children
and babies in arms. Olcott measured one child two feet four in height.
It should, in fairness, be added that the one thing which clouds the
reader occasionally is Olcott's own hesitation and reservations. He was
new to the subject, and every now 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 that he must hedge in case, in some inexplicable
way, he should be shown to be in the wrong. Thus, he says: "The forms I
saw at Chittenden, while apparently defying any other explanation than
that they are of super-sensual origin, are still as a scientific fact to
be regarded as `not proven.'" Elsewhere he talks about not having "test
conditions."

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

It was William Eddy whose mediumship took the form of materializations.
Horatio Eddy gave seances of quite a different character. In his case a
sort of cloth screen was fixed up, in front of which he used to sit in
good light with one of his audience beside him holding his hand. Behind
the screen was placed a guitar and other instruments, which presently
began to play, apparently of their own accord, while materialized hands
showed themselves over the edge of the screen. The general effect of the
performance was much the same as that of the Davenport brothers, but it
was more impressive, inasmuch as the medium was in full view, and was
under control by a spectator. The hypothesis of modern psychic science,
founded upon many experiments, especially those of Dr. Crawford, of
Belfast, is that invisible bands of ectoplasm, which are rather
conductors of force than forcible in themselves, are evolved from the
body of the medium and connect up with the object to be manipulated,
where they are used to raise it, or to play it, as the unseen power may
desire-that unseen power being, according to the present views of
Professor Charles Richet, some extension of the personality of the
medium, and according to the more advanced school some independent
entity. Of this nothing was known at the time of the Eddys, and the
phenomena presented the questionable appearance of a whole series of
effects without any cause. As to the reality of the fact, it is
impossible to read Olcott's very detailed description without being
convinced that there could be no error in that. This movement of objects
at a distance from the medium, or TELEKINESIS, to use the modern phrase,
is now a rare phenomenon in light, but on one occasion at an amateur
circle of experienced Spiritualists the author has seen a large
platter-shaped circle of wood in the full light of a candle, rising up
on edge and flapping code answers to questions when no one was within
six feet of it.

In Horatio Eddy's dark seances, where the complete absence of light gave
the psychic power full scope, Olcott has testified that there were mad
Indian war dances with the thudding of a dozen feet, and the wild
playing of every instrument simultaneously, accompanied by yells and
whoops. "As an exbibition of pure brute force," he says, "this Indian
dance is probably unsurpassed in the annals of such manifestations." A
light turned on would find all the instruments littered about the floor,
and Horatio in a deep slumber, without a trace of perspiration, lying
unconscious in his chair. Olcott assures us that he and other gentlemen
present, whose names he gives, were permitted to sit on the medium, but
that within a minute or two all the instruments were playing once again.
After such an experiment all further experiences-and there were very
many-seem to be beside the point. Short of wholesale and senseless lying
on the part of Olcott and the other spectators, there can be no doubt
that Horatio Eddy was exercising powers of which science was, and still
is, very imperfectly acquainted.

Some of Olcott's experiments were so definite, and are narrated so
frankly and so clearly, that they deserve respectful consideration, and
antedate the work of many of our modern researchers. For example, he
brought from New York a balance which was duly tested as correct with a
published certificate to that effect. He then persuaded one of the
forms, the squaw Honto, to stand upon it, the actual weights being
recorded by a third person, Mr. Pritchard, who was a reputable citizen
and disinterested in the matter. Olcott gives his account of the
results, and adds the certificate of Pritchard as sworn to before a
magistrate. Honto was weighed four times, standing upon the platform so
that she could not ease her weight in any way. She was a woman five feet
three in height, and might be expected to register about 135 lb. The
four results were actually 88, 58, 58, and 65 lb., all on the same
evening. This seems to show that her body was a mere simulacrum which
could vary in density from minute to minute. It showed also what was
clearly brought out afterwards by Crawford, that the whole weight of the
simulacrum cannot be derived from the medium. It is inconceivable that
Eddy, who weighed 179 lb., was able to give up 88 of them. The whole
circle, according to their capacity, which varies greatly, are called
upon to contribute, and other elements may in all probability be drawn
from the atmosphere. The highest actual loss of weight ever shown by
Miss Goligher in the Crawford experiments was 52 lb., but each member of
the circle was shown by the dials on the weighing chairs to have
contributed some substance to the building of the ectoplasmic
formations.

Colonel Olcott also prepared two spring balances and tested the pulling
power of the spirit hands, while those of the medium were held by one of
the audience. A left hand pulled with a force of forty lb., and the
right hand with fifty in a light which was so good that Olcott could
clearly see that the right hand was one finger short. He was already
familiar with the assertion of the spirit in question that he had been a
sailor and had lost a finger in his lifetime. When one reads of such
things the complaint of Olcott that his results were not final, and that
he had not perfect test conditions, becomes more and more hard to
comprehend. He winds up his conclusions, however, with the words: "No
matter how many sceptics carne battering against these granitic facts,
no matter what array of 'exposers' might blow their tin horns and penny
trumpets, that Jericho would stand."

One observation which Olcott made was that these ectoplasmic forms were
quick to obey any mental order from a strong-minded sitter, coming and
going as they were willed to do. Other observers in various seances have
noted the same fact, and it may be taken as one of the fixed points in
this baffling problem.

There is one other curious point which probably escaped Olcott's notice.
The mediums and the spirits who had been fairly amiable to him during
his long visit turned suddenly very acid and repellent. This change
seems to have occurred just after the arrival of Madame Blavatsky, with
whom Olcott had struck up a close comradeship. Madame was, as stated, an
ardent Spiritualist at the time, but it is at least possible that the
spirits may have had foresight, and that they sensed danger from this
Russian lady. Her theosophical teachings which were put forward in a
year or two were to take the shape that, although the phenomena were
real, the spirits were empty astral shells, and had no true life of
their own. Whatever the true explanation, the change in the spirits was
remarkable. "So far from the importance of my labour being recognized
and all reasonable facilities afforded, I was kept constantly at a
distance, as though I were an enemy instead of an unprejudiced
observer."

Colonel Olcott narrates many cases where the sitters have recognized
spirits, but too much stress should not be laid upon this, as with a dim
light and an emotional condition it is easy for an honest observer to be
mistaken. The author has had the opportunity of gazing into the faces of
at least a hundred of these images, and he can only recall two cases in
which he was absolutely certain in his recognition. In both these cases
the faces were self-illuminated, and he had not to depend upon the red
lamp. There were two other occasions when, with the red lamp, he was
morally certain, but in the vast majority of cases it was possible, if
one allowed one's imagination to work, to read anything into the vague
moulds which rose before one. It is likely 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 the recognition but in the presence of the figure at all.

There can be no doubt that the interest aroused by the Press accounts of
the Eddy phenomena might have caused a more serious treatment of psychic
science, and possibly advanced the cause of truth by a generation.
Unhappily, at the very moment when the public attention was strongly
drawn to the subject there came the real or imaginary scandal of the
Holmeses at Philadelphia, which was vigorously exploited by the
materialists, helped by the exaggerated honesty of Robert Dale Owen. The
facts were as follows:

Two mediums in Philadelphia, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Holmes, had given a
series of seances at which an alleged spirit had continually appeared,
which took the name of Katie King, and professed to be the same as that
with which Professor Crookes had experimented in London. On the face of
it the assertion seemed most doubtful since the original Katie King had
clearly stated that her mission was ended. However, apart from the
identity of the spirit, there seemed to be good evidence that the
phenomenon was genuine and not fraudulent, for it was most fully
endorsed by Mr. Dale Owen, General Lippitt, and a number of other
observers, who quoted personal experiences which were entirely beyond
the reach of imposture.

There was in Philadelphia at the time a Dr. Child, who plays a very
ambiguous part in the obscure events which followed. Child had vouched
for the genuine character of these phenomena in the most pronounced way.
He had gone so far as to state in a pamphlet published in 1874 that the
same John and Katie King, whom he had seen in the seance room, had come
to him in his own private offices and had there dictated particulars of
their earth life which he duly published. Such a statement must raise
grave doubts in the mind of any psychic student, for a spirit form can
only manifest from a medium, and there is no indication that Child was
one. In any case one would imagine that, after such an assertion, Child
was the last man in the world who could declare that the seances were
fraudulent.

Great public interest had been aroused in the seances by an article by
General Lippitt in the Galaxy of December, 1874, and another by Dale
Owen in the ATLANTIC MONTHLY of January, 1875. Then suddenly came the
crash. It was heralded by a notice from Dale Owen, dated January 5, to
the effect that evidence had been laid before him which compelled him to
withdraw his previous expressions of confidence in the Holmeses. A
similar card was issued by Dr. Child. Writing to Olcott, who after his
Eddy investigation was recognized as an authority, Dale Owen said: "I
believe they have been latterly playing us false, which may be only
supplementing the genuine with the spurious, but it does cast a doubt on
last summer's manifestations, so that I shall probably not use them in
my next book on Spiritualism. It is a loss, but you and Mr. Crookes have
amply made it up."

Dale Owen's position is clear enough, since he was a man of sensitive
honour, who was horrified at the idea that he could for one instant have
certified an imposture to be a truth. His error seems to have lain in
acting upon the first breath of suspicion instead of waiting until the
facts were clear. Dr. Child's position is, however, more questionable,
for if the manifestations were indeed fraudulent, how could he possibly
have had interviews with the same spirits alone in his own private room?

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

His investigation soon revealed some facts, however, which threw fresh
lights upon the matter and proved that psychic research in order to be
accurate should examine "exposures" with the same critical care that it
does phenomena. The name of the person who confessed that she had
personated Katie King was revealed as Eliza White. In an account of the
matter which she published, without giving the name, she declared that
she had been born in 1851, which would make her twenty-three years of
age. She had married at fifteen and had one child eight years old. Her
husband had died in 1872, and she had to keep herself and child. The
Holmeses had come to lodge with her in March, 1874. In May they engaged
her to personate a spirit. The cabinet had a false panel at the back
through which she could slip, clad in a muslin robe. Mr. Dale Owen was
invited to the seances and was completely taken in. All this caused
violent twinges of her own conscience which did not prevent her from
going to greater lengths and learning to fade away or re-form by the
help of black cloths, and finally, of being photographed as Katie King.

One day, according to her account, there came to her performance a man
named Leslie, a railroad contractor. This gentleman showed his
suspicions, and at a subsequent interview taxed her with her deceit,
offering her pecuniary aid if she would confess to it. This she
accepted, and then showed Leslie the methods of her impersonation. On
December 5, a mock seance was held at which she rehearsed her part as
played in the real seances, and this so impressed Dale Owen and also Dr.
Child, both of whom were present, that they issued the notices in which
they recanted their former belief-a recantation which was a staggering
blow to those who had accepted Dale Owen's previous assurances, and who
now claimed that he should have made some thorough investigation before
issuing such a document. It was the more painful as Dale Owen was
seventy-three years of age, and had been one of the most eloquent and
painstaking of all the disciples of the new dispensation.

Olcott's first task was to sift the record already given, and to get
past the anonymity of the authoress. He soon discovered that she was, as
already stated, Mrs. Eliza White, and that, though in Philadelphia, she
refused to see him. The Holmeses, on the other hand, acted in a very
open manner towards him and offered him every facility for examining
their phenomena with such reasonable test conditions as he might desire.
An examination of the past life of Eliza White showed that her
statement, so far as it concerned her own story, was a tissue of lies.
She was very much older than stated-not less than thirty-five-and it was
doubtful whether she had ever been married to White at all. For years
she had been a vocalist in a travelling show. White was still alive, so
there was no question of widowhood. Olcott published the certificate of
the Chief of the Police to that effect.

Among other documents put forward by Colonel Olcott was one from a Mr.
Allen, Justice of the Peace of New Jersey, given under oath. Eliza
White, according to this witness, was "so untruthful that those to whom
she spoke never knew when to believe her, and her moral reputation was
as bad as bad could be." Judge Allen was able, however, to give some
testimony which bore more directly upon the matter under discussion. He
deposed that he had visited the Holmeses in Philadelphia, and had
assisted Dr. Child to put up the cabinet, that it was solidly
constructed, and that there was no possibility of any entrance being
effected from behind, as alleged by Mrs. White. Further, that he was at
a seance at which Katie King appeared, and that the proceedings had been
disturbed by the singing of Mrs. White in another room, so that it was
quite impossible that Mrs. White could, as she claimed, have acted an
impersonation of the spirit. This being a sworn deposition by a justice
of the Peace would seem to be a weighty piece of evidence.

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

In addition to these reasons for caution in forming an opinion, the
Holmeses were able to produce letters written to them from Mrs. White in
August, 1874, which were quite incompatible with there being any guilty
secret between them. On the other hand, one of these letters did relate
that efforts had been made to bribe her into a confession that she had
been Katie King. Later in the year Mrs. White seems to have assumed a
more threatening tone, as is sworn by the Holmeses in a formal
affidavit, when she declared that unless they paid a rent which she
claimed, there were a number of gentlemen of wealth, including members
of the Young Men's Christian Association, who were ready to pay her a
large sum of money, and she need not trouble the Holmeses any more. A
thousand dollars was the exact sum which Eliza White was to get if she
would consent to admit that she impersonated Katie King. It must surely
be conceded that this statement, taken in conjunction with the woman's
record, makes it very essential to demand corroboration for every
assertion she might make.

One culminating fact remains. At the very hour that the bogus seance was
being held at which Mrs. White was showing how Katie King was
impersonated, the Holmeses held a real seance, attended by twenty
people, at which the spirit appeared the same as ever. Colonel Olcott
collected several affidavits from those who were present on this
occasion, and there can be no doubt about the fact. That of Dr. Adolphus
Fellger is short, and may be given almost in full. He says under oath
that "he has seen the spirit known as Katie King in all perhaps eighty
times, is perfectly familiar with her features, and cannot mistake as to
the identity of the Katie King who appeared upon the evening of December
5, for while the said spirit scarcely ever appeared of exactly the same
height or features two evenings in succession, her voice was always the
same, and the expression of her eyes, and the topics of her conversation
enabled him to be still more certain of her being the same person." This
Fellger was a well-known and highly respected 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 constantly when Mrs.
Holmes was at Blissfield and Mrs. White was in Philadelphia, and that
Mrs. Holmes had written to Mrs. White describing their successful
appearances, which seems a final proof that the latter was not a
confederate.

By this time one must admit that Mrs. White's anonymous confession is
shot through and through with so many holes that it is in a sinking
condition. But there is one part which, it seems to the author, will
still float. That is the question of the photograph. It was asserted by
the Holmeses in an interview with General Lippitt-whose word is a solid
patch in this general quagmire-that Eliza White was hired by Dr. Child
to pose in a photograph as Katie King. Child seems to have played a
dubious part all through this business, making affirmations at different
times which were quite contradictory, and having apparently some
pecuniary interest in the matter. One is inclined, therefore, to look
seriously into this charge, and to believe that the Holmeses may have
been party to the fraud. Granting that the Katie King image was real,
they may well have doubted whether it could be photographed, since dim
light was necessary for its production. On the other hand, there was
clearly a source of revenue if photographs at half a dollar each could
be sold to the numerous sitters. 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
so as to conceal the resemblance, otherwise the fraud would be obvious.
The author has the impression, though not the certainty, that the two
faces are the same with just such changes as manipulation would produce.
Therefore he thinks that the photograph may well be a fraud, but that
this by no means corroborates the rest of Mrs. White's narrative, though
it would shake our faith in the character of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes as well
as of Dr. Child. But the character of physical mediums has really only
an indirect bearing upon the question of the reality of their psychic
powers, which should be tested upon their own merits whether the
individual be saint or sinner.

Colonel Olcott's wise conclusion was that, as the evidence was so
conflicting, he would put it all to one side and test the mediums in his
own way with out reference to what was past. This he did in a very
convincing way, and it is impossible for anyone who reads his
investigation (" People From the Other World," p. 460 and onwards) to
deny that he took every possible precaution against fraud. The cabinet
was netted at the sides so that no one could enter as Mrs. White claimed
to have done. Mrs. Holmes was herself put into a bag which tied round
the neck and, as her husband was away, she was confined to her own
resources. Under these circumstances numerous heads were formed, some of
which were semi-materialized, presenting a somewhat terrible appearance.
This may have been done as a test, or it may have been that the long
contention had impaired the powers of the medium. The faces were made to
appear at a level which the medium could in no case have reached. Dale
Owen was present at this demonstration and must have already begun to
regret his premature declaration.

Further seances with similar results were then held in Olcott's own
rooms, so as to preclude the possibility of some ingenious mechanism
under the control of the medium. On one occasion, when the head of John
King, the presiding spirit, appeared in the air, Olcott, remembering
Eliza White's assertion that these faces were merely ten cent masks,
asked and obtained permission to pass his stick all round it, and so
satisfied himself that it was not supported. This experiment seems so
final that the reader who desires even more evidence may be referred to
the book where he will find much. It was perfectly clear that whatever
part Eliza White may have played in the photograph, there was not a
shadow of a doubt that Mrs. Holmes was a genuine and powerful medium for
material phenomena. It should be added that the Katie King head was
repeatedly seen by the investigators, though the whole form appears only
once to have been materialized. General Lippitt was present at these
experiments and associated himself publicly (Banner of LIGHT, February
6, 1875) with Olcott's conclusions.

The author has dwelt at some length upon this case, as it is very
typical of the way in which the public has been misled over
Spiritualism. The papers are full of an "exposure." It is investigated
and is shown to be either quite false or very partially true. This is
not reported, and the public is left with the original impression
uncorrected. Even now, when one mentions Katie King, one hears some
critic say: "Oh, she was shown to be a fraud in Philadelphia," and by a
natural confusion of thought this has even been brought as an argument
against Crookes's classical experiments. The affair-especially the
temporary weakening of Dale Owen-set the cause of Spiritualism back by
many years in America.

Mention has been made of John King, the presiding spirit at the Holmes
seances. This strange entity would appear to have been the chief
controller of all physical phenomena in the early days of the movement,
and is still occasionally to be seen and heard. His name is associated
with the Koons's music saloon, with the Davenport brothers, with
Williams in London, with Mrs. Holmes, and many others. In person when
materialized he presents the appearance of a tall, swarthy man with a
noble head and a full black beard. His voice is loud and deep, while his
rap has a decisive character of its own. He is master of all languages,
having been tested in the most out-of-the-way tongues, such as Georgian,
and never having been found wanting. This formidable person controls the
bands of lesser primitive spirits, Red Indians and others, who assist at
such phenomena. He claims that Katie King is his daughter, and that he
was himself when in life Henry Morgan, the buccaneer who was pardoned
and knighted by Charles II and ended as Governor of Jamaica. If so, he
has been a most cruel ruffian and has much to expiate. The author is
bound to state, however, that he has in his possession a contemporary
picture of Henry Morgan (it will be found in Howard Pyle's "Buccaneers,"
p. 178), and that if reliable it has no resemblance to John King. All
these questions of earthly identity are very obscure.*

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

Before closing the account of Olcott's experiences at this stage of his
evolution, some notice should be taken of the so-called Compton
transfiguration case, which shows what deep waters we are in when we
attempt psychic research. These particular waters have not been plumbed
yet, nor in any way charted. Nothing can be clearer than the facts, or
more satisfactory than the evidence. The medium Mrs. Compton was shut up
in her small cabinet, and thread passed through the bored holes in her
ears and fastened to the back of her chair. Presently a slim white
figure emerged from the cabinet. Olcott had a weighing platform
provided, and on it the spirit figure stood. Twice it was weighed, the
records being 77 lb. and 59 lb. Olcott then, as prearranged, went into
the cabinet leaving the figure outside. The medium was gone. The chair
was there, but there was no sign of the woman. Olcott then turned back
and again weighed the apparition, who this time scaled 52 lb. The spirit
then returned into the cabinet from which other figures emerged.
Finally, Olcott says:

I went inside with a lamp and found the medium just as I left her at the
beginning of the seance, with every thread unbroken and every seal
undisturbed! She sat there, with her head leaning against the wall, her
flesh as pale and as cold as marble, her eyeballs turned up beneath the
lids, her forehead covered with a death-like damp, no breath coming from
her lungs and no pulse at her wrist. When every person had examined the
threads and seals, I cut the flimsy bonds with a pair of scissors, and,
lifting the chair by its back and seat, carried the 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 and pulse and the temperature of her skin
became normal…. I then put her upon the scale…. She weighed one hundred
and twenty-one pounds!

What are we to make of such a result as that? There were eleven
witnesses besides Olcott himself. The facts seem to be beyond dispute.
But what are we to deduce from such facts? The author has seen a
photograph, taken in the presence of an amateur medium, where every
detail of the room has come out but the sitter has vanished. Is the
disappearance of the medium in some way analogous to that? If the
ectoplasmic figure weighed only 77 lb. and the medium 121 lb., then it
is clear that only 44 lb. of her were left when the phantom was out. If
44 lb. were not enough to continue the processes of life, may not her
guardians have used their subtle occult chemistry in order to
dematerialize her and so save her from all danger until the return of
the phantom would enable her to reassemble? It is a strange supposition,
but it seems to meet the facts-which cannot be done by mere blank,
unreasoning incredulity.




CHAPTER XIII



HENRY SLADE AND DR. MONCK


It is impossible to record the many mediums of various shades of power,
and occasionally of honesty, who have demonstrated the effects which
outside intelligences can produce when the material conditions are such
as to enable them to manifest upon this plane. There are a few, however,
who have been so pre-eminent and so involved in public polemics that no
history of the movement can disregard them, even if their careers have
not been in all ways above suspicion. We shall deal in this chapter with
the histories of Slade and Monck, both of whom played a prominent part
in their days.

Henry Slade, the celebrated slate-writing medium, had been before the
public in America for fifteen years before he arrived in London on July
13, 1876. Colonel H. S. Olcott, a former president of the Theosophical
Society, states that he and Madame Blavatsky were responsible for
Slade's visit to England. It appears that the Grand Duke Constantine of
Russia, desiring to make a scientific investigation of Spiritualism, a
committee of professors of the Imperial University of St. Petersburg
requested Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky to select out of the best
American mediums one whom they could recommend for tests.

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

A representative of the London World, who had a sitting with Slade soon
after his arrival, thus describes him: "A highly-wrought, nervous
temperament, a dreamy, mystical face, regular features, eyes luminous
with expression, a rather sad smile, and a certain melancholy grace of
manner, were the impressions conveyed 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 an enthusiast." The Seybert Commission Report says, "he
is probably six 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 give sittings at his
lodgings in 8 Upper Bedford Place, Russell Square, and his success was
immediate and pronounced. Not only was writing obtained of an evidential
nature, under test conditions, with the sitter's own slates, but the
levitation of objects and materialized hands were observed in strong
sunlight.

The editor of THE SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE, the soberest and most high-class
of the Spiritualist periodicals of the time, wrote: "We have no
hesitation in saying that Dr. Slade is the most remarkable medium of
modern times."

Mr. J. Enmore Jones, a well-known psychic researcher of that day, who
afterwards edited THE SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE, said that Slade was taking the
place vacated by D. D. Home. His account of his first sitting indicates
the business-like method of procedure: "In Mr. Home's case, he refused
to take fees, and as a rule the sittings were in the evening in the
quiet of domestic life; but in Dr. Slade's case it was any time during
the day, in one of the rooms he occupies at a boarding-house. The fee of
twenty shillings is charged, and he prefers that only one person be
present in the large room he uses. No time is lost; as soon as the
visitor sits down the incidents commence, are continued, and in, say,
fifteen minutes are ended." Stainton Moses, who was afterwards the first
president of the London Spiritualist Alliance, 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 facility for observation which satisfy my desires entirely.
It is impossible to conceive circumstances more favourable to minute
investigation than those under which I witnessed the phenomena which
occur in his presence with such startling rapidity…. There was no
hesitation, no tentative experiments. All was short, sharp, and
decisive. The invisible operators knew exactly what they were going to
do, and did it with promptitude and precision."*

* THE SPIRITUALIST, Vol. IX, p. 2.

Slade's first seance in England was given on July 15, 1876, to Mr.
Charles Blackburn, a prominent Spiritualist, and Mr. W. H. Harrison,
editor of THE SPIRITUALIST. In strong sunlight the medium and the two
sitters occupied three sides of an ordinary table about four feet
square. A vacant chair was placed at the fourth side. Slade put a tiny
piece of pencil, about the size of a grain of wheat, upon a slate, and
held the slate by one corner with one hand under the table flat against
the leaf. Writing was heard on the slate, and on examination a short
message was found to have been written. While this was taking place the
four hands of the sitters and Slade's disengaged hands were clasped in
the centre of the table. Mr. Blackburn's chair was moved four or five
inches while he was sitting upon it, and no one but himself was touching
it. The unoccupied chair at the fourth side of the table once jumped in
the air, striking its seat against the under edge of the table. Twice a
life-like hand passed in front of Mr. Blackburn while both Slade's hands
were under 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 in the same way,
when the instrument was drawn out strongly and one note sounded. While
this occurred Slade's hands were on the table. Finally, the three
present raised their hands a foot above the table, and it rose until it
touched their hands. At another sitting on the same day a chair rose
about four feet, when no one was touching it, and when Slade rested one
hand on the top of Miss Blackburn's chair, she and the chair were raised
about half a yard from the floor.

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


A midday sun, hot enough to roast one, was pouring into the room; the
table was uncovered; the medium sat with the whole of his body in full
view; there was no human being present save myself and him. What
conditions could be better? The raps were instantaneous and loud, as if
made by the clenched fist of a powerful man. The slate-writing occurred
under any suggested condition.

It came on a slate held by Dr. Slade and myself; on one held by myself
alone in the corner of the table farthest from the medium; on a slate
which I had myself brought with me, and which I held myself. The latter
writing occupied some time in production, and the grating noise of the
pencil in forming each word was distinctly audible. A chair opposite to
me was raised some eighteen inches from the floor; my slate was taken
out of my hand, and produced at the opposite side of the table, where
neither Dr. Slade nor I could reach it; the accordion played all round
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 this fact
doubtless aided the conditions. He adds:

I have seen all these phenomena and many others several times before,
but I never saw them occur rapidly and consecutively in broad daylight.
The whole seance did not extend over more than half an hour, and no
cessation of the phenomena occurred from first to last.*

* THE SPIRITUALIST, Vol. IX, p. 2.

All went well for six weeks, and London was full of curiosity as to the
powers of Slade, when there came an awkward interruption.

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 supposed to have taken place. He
was entirely without experience in psychic research, or he would have
known that it is impossible to say at what moment writing occurs in such
seances. Occasionally a whole sheet of writing seems to be precipitated
in an instant, while at other times the author has clearly heard the
pencil scratching along from line to line. To Ray Lankester, however, it
seemed a clear case of fraud, and he wrote a letter to THE TIMES*
denouncing Slade, and also prosecuted him for obtaining money under
false pretences. Replies to Lankester's letter and supporting Slade were
forthcoming from Dr, Alfred Russel Wallace, Professor Barrett, and
others. Dr. Wallace pointed out that Professor Lankester's account of
what happened was so completely unlike what occurred during his own
visit to the medium, as well as the recorded experience of Serjeant Cox,
Dr. Carter Blake, and many others, that he could only look upon it as a
striking example of Dr. Carpenter's theory of preconceived ideas, He
says: "Professor Lankester went with the firm conviction that all he was
going to see would be imposture, and he believes he saw imposture
accordingly." Professor Lankester showed his bias when, referring to the
paper read before the British Association on September 12 by Professor
Barrett, in which he dealt with Spiritualistic phenomena, he said, in
his letter to THE TIMES: "The discussions of the British Association
have been degraded by the introduction of Spiritualism."

* September 16, 1876.

Professor Barrett wrote that Slade had a ready reply, based on his
ignorance of when the writing did actually occur. He describes a very
evidential sitting he had in which the slate rested on the table with
his elbow resting on it. One of Slade's hands was held by him, and the
fingers of the medium's other hand rested lightly on the surface of the
slate. In this way writing occurred on the under surface of the slate.
Professor Barrett further speaks of an eminent scientific friend who
obtained writing on a clean slate when it was held entirely by him, both
of the medium's hands being on the table. Such instances must surely
seem absolutely conclusive to the unbiased reader, and it will be clear
that if the positive is firmly established, occasional allegations of
negative have no bearing upon the general conclusion.

Slade's trial came on at Bow Street Police Court on October t, 1876,
before Mr. Flowers, the magistrate. Mr. George Lewis prosecuted and Mr.
Munton appeared for the defence. Evidence in favour of the genuineness
of Slade's mediumship was given by Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, Serjeant
Cox, Dr. George Wyld, and one other, only four witnesses being allowed.
The magistrate described the testimony as "overwhelming" as to the
evidence for the phenomena, but in giving judgment he excluded
everything but the evidence of Lankester and his friend Dr. Donkin,
saying that he must base his decision on "inferences to be drawn from
the known course of nature." A statement made by Mr. Maskelyne, the
well-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 London Spiritualist Alliance, and one
marvels at the audacity of a witness who could imperil another man's
liberty by so false a statement, which must have powerfully affected the
course of the trial. Indeed, in the face of the evidence of Ray
Lankester, Donkin, and Maskelyne, it is hard to see how Mr. Flowers
could fail to convict, for he would say with truth and reason, "What is
before the Court is not what has happened upon other occasions-however
convincing these eminent witnesses may be-but what occurred upon this
particular occasion, and here we have two witnesses on one side and only
the prisoner on the 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 was released
on bail. When the appeal came to be heard, the conviction was quashed on
a technical point. It may be pointed out that though he escaped on a
technical point, namely, that the words "by palmistry or otherwise"
which appeared in the statute had been omitted, it must not be assumed
that had the technical point failed he might not have escaped on the
merits of his case. Slade, whose health had been seriously affected by
the strain of the trial, left England for the Continent a day or two
later. From the Hague, after a rest of a few months, Slade wrote to
Professor Lankester offering to return to London and to give him
exhaustive private tests on condition that he could come without
molestation. He received no answer to his suggestion, which surely is
not that of a guilty man.

An illuminated testimonial to Slade from London Spiritualists in 1877
sets out:

In view of the deplorable termination of Henry Slade's visit to this
country, we the undersigned desire to place on record our high opinion
of his mediumship, and our reprobation of the treatment he has
undergone.

We regard Henry Slade as one of the most valuable Test Mediums now
living. The phenomena which occur in his presence are evolved with a
rapidity and regularity rarely equalled.

He leaves us not only untarnished in reputation by the late proceedings
in our Law Courts, but with a mass of testimony in his favour which
could probably have been elicited in no other way.

This is signed by Mr. Alexander Calder (President of the British
National Association of Spiritualists) and a number of representative
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 enlightened enough to do the man justice.

Spiritualists, however, showed great energy in supporting Slade. Before
the trial a Defence Fund was raised, and Spiritualists in America drew
up a memorial to the American Minister in London. Between the Bow Street
conviction and the hearing of the appeal, a memorial was sent to the
Home Secretary protesting against the action of the Government in
conducting the prosecution on appeal. Copies of this were sent to all
the members of the Legislature, to all the Middlesex magistrates, to
various members of the Royal Society, and of other public bodies. Miss
Kislingbury, the secretary to the National Association of Spiritualists,
forwarded a copy to the Queen.

After giving successful seances at the Hague, Slade went to Berlin in
November, 1877, where he created the keenest interest. He was said to
know no German, yet messages in German appeared on the slates, and were
written in the characters of the fifteenth century. The BERLINER
FREMDENBLATT of November 10, 1877, wrote: "Since the arrival of Mr.
Slade at the Kronprinz Hotel the greater portion of the educated world
of Berlin has been suffering from an epidemic which we may term a
Spiritualistic fever." Describing his experiences in Berlin, Slade said
that he began by fully converting the landlord of the hotel, using the
latter's slates and tables in his own house. The landlord invited the
Chief of Police and many prominent citizens of Berlin to witness the
manifestations, and they expressed themselves as satisfied. Slade
writes: "Samuel Bellachini, Court Conjurer to the Emperor of Germany,
had a week's experience with me free of charge. I gave him from two to
three seances a day and one of them at his own house. After his full and
complete investigation, he went to a public notary and made oath that
the phenomena were genuine and not trickery."

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

A visit to Denmark followed, and in December began the historic seances
with Professor Zollner, at Leipzig. A full account of these will be
found in Zollner's "Transcendental Physics," which has been translated
by Mr. C. C. Massey. Zollner was Professor of Physics and Astronomy in
the University of Leipzig, and associated with him in the experiments
with Slade were other scientific men, including William Edward Weber,
Professor of Physics; Professor Scheibner, a distinguished
mathematician; Gustave Theodore Fechner, Professor of Physics and an
eminent natural philosopher, who were all, says Professor Zollner,
"perfectly convinced of the reality of the observed facts, altogether
excluding imposture or "prestidigitation." The phenomena in question
included, among other things, "the production of true knots in an
endless string, the rending of Professor Zollner's bed-screen, the
disappearance of a small table and its subsequent descent from the
ceiling in FULL LIGHT, 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 consider insufficient
precautions observed in these experiments. Dr. J. Maxwell, the acute
French critic, makes an excellent reply to such objections. He points
out* that because skilled and conscientious psychic investigators have
omitted to indicate explicitly in their reports that every hypothesis of
fraud has been studied and dismissed, in the belief that "their implicit
affirmation of the reality of the fact appeared sufficient to them," and
in order to prevent their reports from being too unwieldy, yet captious
critics do not hesitate to condemn them and to suggest possibilities of
fraud which are quite inadmissible under the observed conditions.

* "Metapsychical Phenomena" (Translation 1905), p. 405.

Zollner gave a dignified reply to the supposition that he was tricked in
these cord-tying experiments: "If, nevertheless, the foundation of this
fact, deduced by me on the ground of an enlarged conception of space,
should be denied, only one other kind of explanation would remain,
arising from a moral code of consideration that at present, it is true,
is quite customary. This explanation would consist in the presumption
that I myself and the honourable men and citizens of Leipzig, in whose
presence several of these cords were sealed, were either common
impostors, or were not in possession of our sound senses sufficient to
perceive if Mr. Slade himself, before the cords were sealed, had tied
them in knots. The discussion, however, of such a hypothesis would no
longer belong to the dominion of science, but would fall under the
category of social decency."*

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

As a sample of the reckless statements of opponents of Spiritualism, it
may be mentioned that Mr. Joseph McCabe, who is second only to the
American Houdini for wild inaccuracies, speaks of Zollner as "an elderly
and purblind professor," whereas he died in 1882, in his forty-eighth
year, and his experiments with Slade were carried out in 1877-78, when
this distinguished scientist was in the vigour of his intellectual life.

So far have opponents pushed their enmity that it has even been stated
that Zollner was deranged, and that his death which occurred some years
later was accompanied with cerebral weakness. An inquiry from Dr. Funk
set this matter at rest, though it is unfortunately easy to get libels
of this sort into circulation and very difficult to get the
contradictions. Here is the document:

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

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

Your letter addressed to the Rector of the University, October 20, 1903,
received. The Rector of this University was installed here after the
death of Zollner, and had no personal acquaintance with him; but
information received from Zollner's colleagues states that during his
entire studies at the University here, until his death, he was of sound
mind; moreover, in the best of health. The cause of his death was a
hemorrhage of the brain on the morning of April 25th, 1882, while he was
at breakfast with his mother, and from which he died shortly after. It
is true that Professor Zollner was an ardent believer in Spiritualism,
and as such was in close relations with Slade.

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

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

A violent crack was suddenly heard as in the discharging of a large
battery of Leyden jars. On turning with some alarm in the direction of
the sound, the before-mentioned screen fell apart in two pieces. The
strong wooden screws, half an inch thick, were torn from above and
below, without any visible contact of Slade with the screen. The parts
broken were at least five feet removed from Slade, who had his back to
the screen; but even if he had intended to tear it down by a cleverly
devised sideward motion, it would have been necessary to fasten it on
the opposite side. As it was, the screen stood quite unattached, and the
grain of the wood being parallel to the axis of the cylindrical wooden
fastenings, the wrenching asunder could only be accomplished by a force
acting longitudinally to the part in question. We were all astonished at
this unexpected and violent manifestation of mechanical force, and asked
Slade what it all meant; but he only shrugged his shoulders, saying that
such phenomena occasionally, though somewhat rarely, occurred in his
presence. As he spoke, he placed, while still standing, a piece of
slate-pencil on the polished surface of the table, laid over it a slate,
purchased and just cleaned by myself, and pressed the five spread
fingers of his right hand on the upper surface of the slate, while his
left hand rested on the centre of the table. Writing began on the inner
surface of the slate, and when Slade turned it up, the following
sentence was written in English: "It was not our intention to do harm.
Forgive what has happened." We were the more surprised at the production
of the writing under these circumstances, for we particularly observed
that both Slade's hands remained quite motionless while the writing was
going on.*

* "Transcendental Physics," p. 34, 35.

In his desperate attempt to explain this incident, Mr. McCabe says that
no doubt the screen was broken before and fastened together afterwards
with thread. There is truly no limit to the credulity of the
incredulous.

After a very successful series of seances in St. Petersburg, Slade
returned to London for a few days in 1878, and then proceeded to
Australia. An interesting account of his work there is to be found in
Mr. James Curtis's book, "Rustlings in the Golden City." Then he
returned to America. In 1885 he appeared before the Seybert Commission
in Philadelphia, and in 1887 again visited England under the name of
"Dr. Wilson," though it was well known who he was. Presumably his alias
was due to a fear that the old proceedings would be renewed.

At most of his seances, 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 of manifestation,
because it left him weak for a time, and because he preferred to give
seances in the light. He consented, however, to try with Mr. Curtis, who
thus describes what took place at Ballarat, in Victoria:

Our first test of spirit appearance in the form took place at Lester's
Hotel. I placed the table about four or five feet from the west wall of
the room. Mr. Slade sat at the end of the table furthest from the wall,
whilst I took my position on the north side. The gaslight was toned
down, not so much but that any object in the room could be clearly seen.
Our hands were placed over one another in a single pile. We sat very
still about ten minutes, when I observed something like a little misty
cloud between myself and the wall. When my attention was first drawn
towards this phenomenon, it was about the size and colour of a
gentleman's high-crowned, whitish-grey felt hat. This cloudlike
appearance rapidly grew and became transformed, when we saw before us a
woman-a lady. The being thus fashioned, and all but perfected, rose from
the floor on to the top of the table, 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, each part in concord with the whole. Only the eyes were
veiled because they could not be completely materialized. The feet were
encased in white satin shoes. The dress glowed in light, and was the
most beautiful I ever beheld, the colour being bright, sheeny silvery
grey, or greyish shining white. The whole figure was graceful, and the
drapery perfect. The materialized spirit glided and walked about,
causing the table to shake, vibrate, jerk and tilt considerably. I could
hear, too, the rustling of the dress as the celestial visitant
transiently wended from one position or place to another. The spirit
form, within two feet of our unmoved hands, still piled up together in a
heap, then dissolved, and gradually faded from our vision.

The conditions at this beautiful seance-with the medium's hands held
throughout, and with enough light for visibility-seem satisfactory,
provided we grant the honesty of the witness. As the preface contains
the supporting testimony of a responsible Australian Government
official, who also speaks of Mr. Curtis's initial extremely sceptical
state of mind, we may well do so. At the same seance a quarter of an
hour later the figure again appeared:

The apparition then floated in the air and alighted on the table,
rapidly glided about, and thrice bent her beautiful figure with graceful
bows, each bending deliberate and low, the head coming within six inches
of my face. The dress rustled (as silk rustles) with every movement. The
face was partially veiled as before. The visibility then became
invisible, slowly disappearing like the former materialization.

Other similar seances are described.

In view of the many elaborate and stringent tests through which he
passed successfully, the story of Slade's "exposure" in America in 1886
is not convincing, but we refer to it for historical reasons, and to
show that such incidents are not excluded from our review of the
subject. The BOSTON HERALD, February 2, 1886, heads its account, "The
celebrated Dr. Slade comes to grief in Weston, West Virginia, writes
upon slates which lie upon his knees under the table, and moves tables
and chairs with his toes." Observers in an adjoining room, looking
through the crevice under the door saw these feats of agility being
performed by the medium, though those present in the room with him were
unaware of them. There seems, however, to have been in this as in other
cases, occurrences which bore the appearance of fraud, and Spiritualists
were among those who denounced him. At a subsequent public performance
for "Direct Spirit Writing" in the Justice Hall, Weston, Mr. E. S.
Barrett, described as a "Spiritualist," came forward and explained how
Slade's imposture had been detected. Slade, who was asked to speak,
appeared dumbfounded, and could only say, according to the report, that
if his accusers had been deceived he had been equally so, for if the
deceit had been done by him, it had been without his consciousness.

Mr. J. Simmons, Slade's business manager, made a frank statement which
seems to point to the operation of ectoplasmic limbs, as years later was
proved to be the case with the famous Italian medium, Eusapia Palladino.
He says: "I do not doubt that these gentlemen saw what they assert they
did; but I am convinced at the same time that Slade is as innocent of
what he is accused of as you (the editor) yourself would have been under
similar circumstances. But I know that my explanation would have no
weight in a court of justice. I myself saw a hand, which I could have
sworn to be that of Slade, if it had been possible for his hand to be in
that position. While one of his hands lay upon the table and the other
held the slate under the corner of the table, a third hand appeared with
a clothes-brush (which a moment previously had brushed against me from
the knee upwards) in the middle of the opposite edge of the table, which
was forty-two inches long." Slade and his manager were arrested and
released on bail, but no further proceedings seem to have been taken
against them. Truesdell, also, in his book, "Spiritualism, Bottom
Facts," states that he saw Slade effecting the movement of objects with
his foot, and he asks his readers to believe that the medium made to him
a full confession of how all his manifestations were produced. If Slade
ever really did this, it may probably be accounted for by a burst of
ill-timed levity on his part in seeking to fool a certain type of
investigator by giving him exactly what he was seeking for. To such
instances we may apply the judgment of Professor Zollner on the
Lankester incident: "The physical facts observed by us in so astonishing
a variety in his presence negatived on every reasonable ground the
supposition that he in one solitary case had taken refuge in wilful
imposture." He adds, what was certainly the case in that particular
instance, that Slade was the victim of his accuser's and his judge's
limited knowledge.

At the same time there is ample evidence that Slade degenerated in
general character towards the latter part of his life. Promiscuous
sittings with a mercenary object, the subsequent exhaustions, and the
alcoholic stimulus which affords a temporary relief, all acting upon a
most sensitive organization, had a deleterious effect. This weakening of
character, with a corresponding loss of health, may have led to a
diminution of his psychic powers, and increased the temptation to resort
to trickery. Making every allowance for the difficulty of distinguishing
what is fraud and what is of crude psychic origin, an unpleasant
impression is left upon the mind by the evidence given in the Seybert
Commission and by the fact that Spiritualists upon the spot should have
condemned his action. Human frailty, however, is one thing and psychic
power is another. Those who seek evidence for the latter will find ample
in those years when the man and his powers were both at their zenith.

Slade died in 1905 at a Michigan sanatorium to which he had been sent by
the American Spiritualists, and the announcement was followed 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 a garbled account of the Lankester prosecution
at Bow Street. Referring to this, LIGHT says*:

* 1886, p. 433.

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

It is the story of the Davenport Brothers and Maskelyne over again.

If Slade's career is difficult to appraise, and if one is forced to
admit that while there was an overpowering preponderance of psychic
results, there was also a residuum which left the unpleasant impression
that the medium might supplement truth with fraud, the same admission
must be made in the case of the medium Monck, who played a considerable
part for some years in the 'seventies. Of all mediums none is more
difficult to appraise, for on the one hand many of his results are
beyond all dispute, while in a few there seems to be an absolute
certainty of dishonesty. In his case, as in Slade's, there were physical
causes which would account for a degeneration of the moral and psychic
powers.

Monck was a Nonconformist clergyman, a favourite pupil of the famous
Spurgeon. According to his own account, he had been subject from
childhood to psychic influences, which increased with his growth. In
1873 he announced his adhesion to Spiritualism and gave an address in
the Cavendish Rooms. Shortly afterwards he began to give demonstrations,
which appear to have been unpaid and were given in light. In 1875 he
made a tour through England and Scotland, his performances exciting much
attention and debate, and in 1876 he visited Ireland, where his powers
were directed towards healing. Hence he was usually known as "Dr."
Monck, a fact which naturally aroused some protest from the medical
profession.

Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, a most competent and honest observer, has
given an account of a materialization seance with Monck which appears to
be as critic-proof as such a thing could be. No subsequent suspicion or
conviction can ever eliminate such an incontrovertible instance of
psychic power. It is to be noted how far the effects were in agreement
with the subsequent demonstrations of ectoplasmic outflow in the case of
Eva and other modern mediums. Dr. Wallace's companions upon this
occasion were Mr. Stainton Moses and Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood. Dr. Wallace
writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* BANNER OF LIGHT, Dec. 15, 1881.

Glancing at Dr. Monck's side we observed what looked like an opalescent
mass of compact steam emerging from just below his heart on the left
side. It increased in volume, rising up and extending downward, the
upper portions taking the form of a child's head, the face being
distinguished as that of a little child I had lost some twenty years
previously. It only remained in this form for a moment, and then
suddenly disappeared, seeming to be instantly absorbed into the Doctor's
side. This remarkable phenomenon was repeated four or five times, in
each instance the materialization being more distinct than the preceding
one. This was witnessed by all in the room, with gas burning
sufficiently bright for every object in the room to be plainly visible.

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

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 the SPECTATOR * says that with
Monck at a private house in Richmond he cleaned two slates, and after
placing a fragment of pencil between them, tied them together tightly
with a strong cord, lengthways and crosswise, in a manner that prevented
any movement.

* October 7, 1877.

I then laid them flat on the table without losing sight of them for an
instant. Dr. Monck placed the fingers of both hands on them, while I and
a lady sitting opposite placed our hands on the corners of the slates.
From this position our hands were never moved till I untied the slates
to ascertain the result.

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 that it should be
length ways on the slate. The sound of writing was heard, and when the
medium's hands were withdrawn, Dr. Wallace opened the slates and found
on the lower one the word he had asked for and written in the manner
requested.

Dr. Wallace says:

The essential features of this experiment are that I myself cleaned and
tied up the slates; that I kept my hands on them all the time; that they
never went out of my sight for a moment; and that I named the word to be
written, and the manner of writing it after they were thus secured and
held by me.

Mr. Edward T. Bennett, assistant secretary to the Society for Psychical
Research, adds to this account: "I was present on this occasion, and
certify that Mr. Wallace's account of what happened is correct."

Another good test is described by Mr. W. P. Adshead, of Belper, a
well-known investigator, who says of a seance held in Derby on September
18, 1876:

There were eight persons present, three ladies and five gentlemen. A
lady whom Dr. Monck had never before seen had a slate passed to her by a
sitter, which she examined and found clean. The slate pencil which was
on the table a few minutes before we sat down could not be found. An
investigator suggested that it would be a good test if a lead pencil
were used.

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

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

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

In the year 1876 the Slade trial was going on in London, as already
described, and exposures were in the air. In considering the following
rather puzzling and certainly suspicious case, one has to remember that
when a man who is a public performer, a conjurer or a mesmerist, can
pose as having exposed a medium, he wins a valuable public advertisement
and attracts to himself all that very numerous section of the community
who desire to see such an exposure. It is only fair to bear this in mind
in endeavouring to hold the scales fair where there is a conflict of
evidence.

In this case the conjurer and mesmerist was one Lodge, and the occasion
was a seance 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, ran upstairs and locked himself in
his room. He then let himself down from his window and made for the
police office, where he lodged a complaint as to his treatment. The door
of his bedroom had been forced and his effects searched, with the result
that a pair of stuffed gloves was found. Monck asserted that these
gloves had been made for a lecture in which he had exposed the
difference between conjuring and mediumship. Still, as a Spiritualist
paper remarked at the tune:

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

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

After his release from prison Monck held a number of test sittings with
Stainton Moses, at which remarkable phenomena occurred.

LIGHT comments:

Those whose names we have mentioned as testifying to the genuineness of
Dr. Monck's mediumship are well-known to the older Spiritualists as keen
and scrupulously cautious experimenters, and Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's
name carried much 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, as the accuser
was by no means an impartial person, but Sir William Barrett's testimony
makes it clear that Monck did sometimes descend to deliberate and
cold-blooded trickery. Sir William writes:

I caught the "Dr." in a gross bit of fraud, a piece of white muslin on a
wire frame with a black thread attached, being used by the medium to
simulate a partially materialized spirit.*

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

Such an exposure, coming from so sure a source, arouses a feeling of
disgust which urges one to throw the whole evidence concerning the man
into the wastepaper basket. One must, however, be patient and reasonable
in such matters. Monck's earlier seances, as has been clearly shown,
were in good light, and any such clumsy mechanism was out of the
question. We must not argue that because a man once forges, therefore he
has never signed an honest cheque in his life. But we must clearly admit
that Monck was capable of fraud, that he would take the easier way when
things were difficult, and that each of his manifestations should be
carefully checked.




CHAPTER XIV



COLLECTIVE INVESTIGATIONS OF SPIRITUALISM


Several committees have at different times sat upon the subject of
Spiritualism. Of these the two most important are that of the
Dialectical Society in 1869-70, and the Seybert Commission in 1884, the
first British and the second American. To these may be added that of the
French society, Institut General Psychologique in 1905-8. In spite of
the intervals between these various investigations, it will be
convenient to treat them in a single chapter as certain remarks in
common apply to each of them.

There are obvious difficulties in the way of collective
investigations-difficulties which are so grave that they are almost
insurmountable. When a Crookes or a Lombroso explores the subject he
either sits alone with the medium, or he has with him others whose
knowledge of psychic conditions and laws may be helpful in the matter.
This is not usually so with these committees. They fail to understand
that they are themselves part of the experiment, and that it is possible
for them to create such intolerable vibrations, and to surround
themselves with so negative an atmosphere, that these outside forces,
which are governed by very definite laws, are unable to penetrate it. It
is not in vain that the three words "with one accord" are interpolated
into the account of the apostolic sitting in the upper room. If a small
piece of metal may upset a whole magnetic installation, so a strong
adverse psychic current may ruin a psychic circle. It is for this
reason, and not on account of any superior credulity, that practising
Spiritualists continually get such results as are never attained by mere
researchers. This also may be the reason why the one committee upon
which Spiritualists were fairly well represented was the one which
gained the most positive results. This was the committee which was
chosen by the Dialectical Society of London, a committee which began its
explorations early in 1869 and presented its report in 1871. If common
sense and the ordinary laws of evidence had been followed in the
reception of this report, the progress of psychic truth would have been
accelerated by fifty years.

Thirty-four gentlemen of standing were appointed upon this committee,
the terms of reference being "to investigate the phenomena alleged to be
spiritual manifestations." The majority of the members were certainly in
the mood to unmask an imposture, but they encountered a body of evidence
which could not be disregarded, and they ended by asserting that "the
subject is worthy of more serious attention and careful investigation
than it has hitherto received." This conclusion so amazed the society
which they represented that they could not get it to publish the
findings, so the committee in a spirited way published them at their own
cost, thus giving permanent record to a most interesting investigation.

The members of the committee were drawn from many varied professions and
included a doctor of divinity, two physicians, two surgeons, two civil
engineers, two fellows of scientific societies, two barristers, and
others of repute. Charles Bradlaugh 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 interest me"-a
dictum which showed that this great and clear-headed man had his
limitations.

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

"1. That sounds of a very varied character, apparently proceeding from
articles of furniture, the floor and walls of the room-the vibrations
accompanying which sounds are often distinctly perceptible to the
touch-occur, without being produced by muscular action or mechanical
contrivance.

"2. That movements of heavy bodies take place without mechanical
contrivance of any kind or adequate exertion of muscular force by the
persons present, and frequently without contact or connexion with any
person.

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

"4. That the answers and communications thus obtained are, for the most
part, of a commonplace character; but facts are sometimes correctly
given which are only known to one of the persons present.

"5. That the circumstances under which the phenomena occur are variable,
the most prominent fact being that the presence of certain persons seems
necessary to their occurrence, and that of others generally adverse; but
this difference does not appear to depend upon any belief or disbelief
concerning the phenomena.

"6. That, nevertheless, the occurrence of the phenomena is not ensured
by the presence or absence of such persons respectively."

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

"1. Thirteen witnesses state that they have seen heavy bodies-in some
instances men-rise slowly in the air and remain there for some time
without visible or tangible support.

"2. Fourteen witnesses testify to having seen hands or figures, not
appertaining to any human being, but lifelike in appearance and
mobility, which they have sometimes touched or even grasped, and which
they are therefore convinced were not the result of imposture or
illusion.

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

"4. Thirteen witnesses declare that they have heard musical pieces well
played upon instruments not manipulated by any ascertainable agency.

"5. Five witnesses state that they have seen red-hot coals applied to
the hands or heads of several persons without producing pain or
scorching, and three witnesses state that they have had the same
experiment made upon themselves with the like immunity.

"6. Eight witnesses state that they have received precise information
through rappings, writings, and in other ways, the accuracy of which was
unknown at the time to themselves or to any persons present, and which
on subsequent inquiry was found to be correct.

"7. One witness declares that he has received a precise and detailed
statement which, nevertheless, proved to be entirely erroneous.

"8. Three witnesses state that they have been present when drawings,
both in pencil and colours, were produced in so short a time, and under
such conditions as to render human agency impossible.

"9. Six witnesses declare that they have received information of future
events, and that in some cases the hour and minute of their occurrence
have been accurately foretold, days and even weeks before."

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

The report closes with the following observations:

In presenting their report, your Committee, taking into consideration
the high character and great intelligence of many of the witnesses to
the more extraordinary facts, the extent to which their testimony is
supported by the reports of the sub-committees, and the absence of any
proof of imposture or delusion as regards a large portion of the
phenomena; and further, having regard to the exceptional character of
the phenomena, the large number of persons in every grade of society and
over the whole civilized world who are more or less influenced by a
belief in their supernatural origin, and to the fact that no
philosophical explanation of them has yet been arrived at, deem it
incumbent upon them to state their conviction that the subject is worthy
of more serious attention and careful investigation than it has hitherto
received.

Among those who gave evidence or read papers before the committee 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 was received from Lord Lytton, Mr. Robert
Chambers, Dr. Garth Wilkinson, Mr. William Howitt, M. Camille
Flammarion, and others.

The committee was successful in procuring the evidence of believers in
the phenomena, but almost wholly failed, as stated in its report, to
obtain evidence from those who attributed them to fraud or delusion.

In the records of the evidence of over fifty witnesses, there is
voluminous testimony to the existence of the facts from men and women of
good standing. One witness* considered that the most remarkable
phenomenon brought to light by the labours of the committee was the
extraordinary number of eminent men who were shown to be firm believers
in the Spiritual hypothesis. And another  declared that whatever
agencies might be employed in these manifestations, they were not to be
explained by referring them to imposture on the one side or
hallucination on the other.

* Grattan Geary.  E. L. Blanchard.

An interesting sidelight on the growth of the movement is obtained from
Mrs. Emma Hardinge's statement that at that time (1869) she knew only
two professional mediums in London, though she was acquainted with
several non-professional ones. As she herself was a medium she was
probably correct in what she said. Mr. Cromwell Varley averred that
there were probably not more than a hundred known mediums in the whole
kingdom, and he added that very few of those were well developed. We
have here conclusive testimony to the great work accomplished in England
by D. D. Home, for the bulk of the converts were due to his mediumship.
Another medium who played an important part was Mrs. Marshall. Many
witnesses spoke of evidential sittings they had attended at her house.
Mr. William Howitt, the well-known author, was of opinion that
Spiritualism had then received the assent of about twenty millions of
people in all countries after personal examination.

What may be called the evidence for the opposition was not at all
formidable. Lord Lytton said that in his experience the phenomena were
traceable to material influences of whose nature we were ignorant, Dr.
Carpenter brought out his pet hobby of "unconscious cerebration." Dr.
Kidd thought that the majority were evidently subjective phenomena, and
three witnesses, while convinced of the genuineness of the occurrences,
ascribed them to Satanic agency. These objections were well answered by
Mr. Thomas Shorter, author of "Confessions of a Truth Seeker," and
secretary of the Working Men's College, in an admirable review of the
report in the SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE.*

* 1872, pp. 3-15.

It is worthy of note that on the publication of this important and
well-considered report it was ridiculed by a large part of the London
Press. An honourable exception was the SPECTATOR.

THE TIMES reviewer considered it "nothing more than a farrago of
impotent conclusions, garnished by a mass of the most monstrous rubbish
it has ever been our misfortune to sit in judgment upon."

The MORNING POST said: "The report which has been published is entirely
worthless."

The SATURDAY REVIEW hoped that report would involuntarily lead "to
discrediting a little further one of the most unequivocally degrading
superstitions that have ever found currency among reasonable beings."

The STANDARD made a sound criticism that deserves to be remembered.
Objecting to the remark of those who do not believe in Spiritualism, yet
say that there may be "something in it," the newspaper sagely observes:
"If there is anything whatever in it beyond imposture and imbecility,
there is the whole of another world in it."

The DAILY NEWS regarded the report as "an important contribution to the
literature of a subject which, some day or other, by the very number of
its followers, will demand more extended investigation."

The SPECTATOR, after describing the book as an extremely curious one,
added: "Few, however, could read the mass of evidence collected in this
volume, showing the firm faith in the reality of the alleged spiritual
phenomena possessed by a number of individuals of honourable and upright
character, without also agreeing with Mr. Jeffrey's opinion, that the
remarkable phenomena witnessed, some of which had not been traced to
imposture or delusion, and the gathered testimony of respectable
witnesses, 'justify the recommendation of the subject to further
cautious investigation.'"

These are but brief extracts from longer notices in a few of the London
newspapers-there were many others-and, bad as they are, they none the
less indicate a change of attitude on the part of the Press, which had
been in the habit of ignoring the subject altogether.

It must be remembered that the report concerned itself only with the
phenomenal aspect of Spiritualism, and this, in the opinion of leading
Spiritualists, is decidedly the less important side. Only in the report
of one sub-committee is it recorded that the general gist of the
messages was that physical death was a trivial matter in retrospect, but
that for the spirit it was a rebirth into new experiences of existence,
that spirit life was in every respect human; that friendly intercourse
was as common and pleasurable as in life; that although spirits took
great interest in worldly affairs, they had no wish to return to their
former state of existence; that communication with earth friends was
pleasurable and desired by spirits, being intended as a proof to the
former of the continuance of life in spite of bodily dissolution, 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 their day and
generation, the Dialectical Society's Committee did excellent work. The
great majority of the members were opposed to the psychic claims, but in
the face of evidence, with a few exceptions, such as Dr. Edmunds, they
yielded to the testimony of their own senses. There were a few examples
of intolerance such as Huxley's unhappy dictum, and Charles Bradlaugh's
declaration that he would not even examine certain things because they
were in the region of the impossible, but on the whole the team work of
the sub-committees was excellent.

There appears in the report of the Dialectical Society's Committee a
long article by Dr. Edmunds, an opponent to Spiritualism, and to the
findings of his colleagues. It is worth reading as typical of a certain
class of mind. The worthy doctor, while imagining himself to be
impartial, is really so absolutely prejudiced that the conceivable
possibility of the phenomena being supernormal never is allowed to enter
into his mind. When he sees one with his own eyes his only question is,
"How was the trick done?" If he cannot answer the question he does not
consider this to be in favour of some other explanation, but simply
records that he cannot discover the trick. Thus his evidence, which is
perfectly honest as to fact, records that a number of fresh flowers and
fruits, still wet, fell upon the table-a phenomenon of apports which was
shown many times by Mrs. Guppy. The doctor's only comment is that they
must have been taken from the sideboard, although one would have
imagined that a large basket of fruit upon the sideboard would have
attracted attention, and he does not venture to say that he saw such an
object. Again he was shut up with the Davenports in their cabinet and
admits that he could make nothing of it, but, of course, it must be a
conjuring trick. Then when he finds that mediums who perceive that his
mental attitude is hopeless refuse to sit with him again, he sets that
down also as an evidence of their guilt. There is a certain type of
scientific mind which is quite astute within its own subject and,
outside it, is the most foolish and illogical thing upon earth.

It was the misfortune of the Seybert Commission, which we will now
discuss, that it was entirely composed of such people, with the
exception of one Spiritualist, a Mr. Hazard, who was co-opted by them
and who had little chance of influencing their general atmosphere of
obstruction. The circumstances in which the Commission was appointed
were these. A certain Henry Seybert, a citizen of Philadelphia, had left
the sum of sixty thousand dollars for the purpose of founding a Chair of
Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania with the condition that the
said University should appoint a commission to "make a thorough and
impartial investigation of all systems of morals, religion, or
philosophy which assume to represent the truth, and particularly of
modern Spiritualism." The personnel of the body chosen is immaterial
save that all were connected with the University, with Dr. Pepper, the
Provost of the University as nominal chairman, Dr. Furness as acting
chairman, and Professor Fullerton as secretary. In spite of the fact
that the duty of the Commission was to "make a thorough and impartial
investigation" of modern Spiritualism, the preliminary report coolly
states The Commission is composed of men whose days are already filled
with duties which cannot be laid aside, and who are able, therefore, to
devote but a small portion of their time to these investigations.

The fact that the members were satisfied to start with this handicap
shows how little they understood the nature of the work before them.
Their failure, in the circumstances, was inevitable. The proceedings
began in March, 1884, and a "preliminary" report, so called, was issued
in 1887. This report was, as it proved, the final one, for though it was
reissued in 1920 there was no addition save a colourless preface of
three paragraphs by a descendant of the former chairman. The gist of
this report is that fraud on the one side and credulity on the other
make up the whole of Spiritualism, and that there was really nothing
serious on which the committee could report. The whole long document is
well worth reading by any student of psychic matters. The impression
left upon the mind is that the various members of the Commission were in
their own limited way honestly endeavouring to get at the facts, but
that their minds, like that of Dr. Edmunds, were so formed that when, in
spite of their repellent and impossible attitude, some psychic happening
did manage to break through their barriers, they would not for an
instant consider the possibility that it was genuine, but simply passed
it by as if it did not exist. Thus with Mrs. Fox-Kane they did get
well-marked raps, and are content with the thousand-times disproved
supposition that they came from inside her own body, and they pass
without comment the fact that they received from her long messages,
written swiftly in script, which could only be read when held to the
looking-glass, as it was from right to left. This swiftly-written script
contained an abstruse Latin sentence which 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 the Direct Voice,
and also phosphorescent lights after the medium had been searched. We
are informed that the medium kept up an "almost continuous clapping of
hands," and yet people at a distance from her seem to have been touched.
The spirit in which the inquiry is approached may be judged from the
remark of the acting chairman to W. M. Keeler, who was said to be a
spirit photographer, that he "would not be satisfied with less than a
cherub on my head, one on each shoulder, and a full-blown angel on my
breast." A Spiritualist would be surprised indeed if an inquirer in so
frivolous a mood should be favoured with results. All through runs the
fallacy that the medium is producing something as a conjurer does. Never
for a moment do they seem to realize that the favour and assent of
invisible operators may be essential-operators who may stoop to the
humble-minded and shrink away from, or even make game of, the
self-sufficient scoffer.

While there were some results which may have been genuine, but which are
brushed aside by the report, there were some episodes which must be
painful to the Spiritualist, but which none the less must be faced. The
Commission exposed obvious fraud in the case of the slate medium, Mrs.
Patterson, and it is impossible to deny that the case against Slade is a
substantial one. The latter days of this medium were admittedly under a
cloud, and the powers which had once been so conspicuous may have been
replaced by trickery. Dr. Furness goes the length of asserting that such
trickery was actually admitted, but the anecdote as given in the report
rather suggests chaff upon the part of the medium. That Dr. Slade should
jovially beckon the doctor in from his open window, and should at once
in reply to a facetious remark admit that his own whole life had been a
swindle, is more than one can easily believe.

There are some aspects in which the Commission-or some members of
it-seem to have been disingenuous. Thus, they state at the beginning
that they will rest their report upon their own labours and disregard
the mass of material already available. In spite of this, they introduce
a long and adverse report from their secretary upon the Zollner evidence
in favour of Slade. This report is quite incorrect in itself, as is
shown in the account of Zollner given in the chapter treating of Slade's
experiences in Leipzig. It carefully suppresses the fact that the chief
conjurer in Germany, after a considerable investigation, gave a
certificate that Slade's phenomena were not trickery. On the other hand,
when the testimony of a conjurer is against a spiritual explanation, as
in the comments of Kellar, it is given in full, with no knowledge,
apparently, that in the case of another medium, Eglinton, this same
Kellar had declared the results to be beyond his art.

At the opening of the report the Commission says: "We deemed ourselves
fortunate at the outset in having as a counsellor the late Mr. Thomas R.
Hazard, a personal friend of Mr. Seybert, and widely known throughout
the land as an uncompromising Spiritualist." Mr. Hazard evidently knew
the importance of ensuring the right conditions and the right type of
sitters for such an experimental investigation. Describing an interview
he had with Mr. Seybert a few days before the latter's death, when he
agreed to act as his representative, Mr. Hazard says he did so only
"with the full and distinct understanding that I should be permitted to
prescribe the methods to be pursued in the investigation, designate the
mediums to be consulted, and reject the attendance of any person or
persons whose presence I deemed might conflict with the harmony and good
order of the spirit circles." But this representative of Mr. Seybert
seems to have been quietly ignored by the University. After the
Commission had been sitting for some time, Mr. Hazard was dissatisfied
with some of its members and their methods. We find him writing as
follows in the Philadelphia NORTH AMERICAN,[May 18, 1885.] presumably
after vainly approaching the University authorities:

Without aiming to detract in the slightest degree from the unblemished
moral character that attaches to each and every individual of the
Faculty, including the Commission, in public esteem, nor to the high
social and literary standing they occupy in society, I must say that
through some strange infatuation, obliquity of judgment, or perversity
of intellect, the Trustees of the University have placed on the
Commission for the investigation of modern Spiritualism, a majority of
its members whose education, habit of thought, and prejudices so
singularly disqualify them from making a thorough and impartial
investigation of the subject which the Trustees of the University are
obligated both by contract and in honour to do, that had the object in
view been to belittle and bring into discredit, hatred and general
contempt the cause that I know the late Henry Seybert held nearest his
heart and loved more than all else in the world beside, the Trustees
could scarcely have selected more suitable instruments for the object
intended from all the denizens of Philadelphia than are the gentlemen
who constitute a majority of the Seybert Commission. And this I repeat,
not from any causes that affect their moral, social or literary standing
in society, but simply because of their prejudices against the cause of
Spiritualism.

He further advised the Trustees to remove from the Commission Messrs.
Fullerton, Thompson, and Koenig.

Mr. Hazard quoted Professor Fullerton as saying in a lecture before the
Harvard University Club on March 3, 1885:

It is possible that the way mediums tell a person's history is by the
process of thought-transference, for every person who is thus told of
these things goes to a medium thinking of the same points about which
the medium talks.

When a man has a cold he hears a buzzing noise in his ears, and an
insane person constantly hears sounds which never occur. Perhaps, then,
disease of mind or ear, or some strong emotion, may be the cause of a
large number of spiritual phenomena.

These words were spoken after the professor had served on the Commission
for more than twelve months.

Mr. Hazard also quotes Dr. George A. Koenig's views, published in the
PHILADELPHIA PRESS, about a year after his appointment on the
Commission:

I must frankly admit that I am prepared to deny the truth of
Spiritualism as it is now popularly understood. It is my belief that all
of the so-called mediums are humbugs without exception. I have never
seen Slade perform any of his tricks, but, from the published
descriptions, I have set him down as an impostor, the cleverest one of
the lot. I do not think the Commission view with much favour the
examination of so-called spirit mediums. The wisest men are apt to be
deceived. One man in an hour can invent more tricks than a wise man can
solve in a year.

Mr. Hazard learned from what he considered to be a reliable source, that
Professor Robert E. Thompson was responsible for this view which
appeared in Penn's Monthly of February, 1880.

Even if Spiritualism be all that its champions claim for it, it has no
importance for anyone who holds a Christian faith. The consideration and
discussion of the subject is tampering with notions and condescending to
discussions with which no Christian believer has any business.

We have in these expressions of opinion a means of judging how unsuited
these members of the Commission were for making what Mr. Seybert asked
for-"a thorough and impartial" investigation of the subject.

An American Spiritualist periodical, the BANNER OF LIGHT, commenting on
Mr. Hazard's communication, wrote:

So far as we have information, no notice was taken of Mr. Hazard's
appeal-certainly no action was had, for the members above quoted remain
on the Commission to this day, and their names are appended to this
preliminary report. Professor Fullerton, in fact, was and now is the
secretary; one hundred and twenty of the one hundred and fifty pages of
the volume before us are written by him, and exhibit that excessive lack
of spiritual perception and knowledge of occult, and we might also say
natural laws, which led him to inform an audience of Harvard students
that "when a man has a cold he hears a buzzing noise in his ears"; that
"an insane person constantly hears sounds which never occur," and
suggest to them that spiritual phenomena may proceed from such causes.

The BANNER OF LIGHT continues:

We consider that the Seybert Commission's failure to follow the counsel
of Mr. Hazard, as it was plainly their duty to do, is the key to the
entire failure of all their sub sequent efforts. The paucity of
phenomenal results, in any degree approaching what might be looked for,
even by a sceptic, which this book records, is certainly remarkable. It
is a report of what was not done, rather than that of what was. In the
memoranda of proceedings at each session, as given by Professor
Fullerton, there is plainly seen a studied effort to give prominence to
everything that a superficial mind might deem proof of trickery on the
part of the medium, and to conceal all that might be evidence of the
truth of his claims…. It is mentioned that when certain members of the
Commission were present all phenomena ceased. This substantiates the
correctness of Mr. Hazard's position; and there is no one who has had an
experience with mediums, sufficient to render his opinion of any value,
who will not endorse it. The spirits knew what elements they had to deal
with; they endeavoured to eliminate those that rendered their
experiments nugatory; they failed to do this through the ignorance,
wilfulness or prejudice of the Commission, and the experiments failed;
so the Commission, very "wise in its own conceit," decided that all was
fraud.

LIGHT,* in its notice of the report, says what needs saying as much now
as in 1887:

*1887, p. 391.

We notice with some pleasure, though without any marked expectation of
what may result from the pursuance of bad methods of investigation, that
the Commission pro poses to continue its quest "with minds as sincerely
and honestly open as heretofore to conviction." Since this is so, we
presume to offer a few words of advice founded upon large experience.
The investigation of these obscure phenomena is beset with difficulty,
and any instructions that can be given are derived from a knowledge
which is to a great extent empirical. But we know that prolonged and
patient experiment with a properly constituted circle is a SINE QUA NON
[absolutely essential]. We know that all does not depend on the medium,
but that a circle must be formed and varied from time to time
experimentally, until the proper constituent elements are secured. What
these elements may be we cannot tell the Seybert Commission. They must
discover that for themselves. Let them make a study in the literature of
Spiritualism of the varied characteristics of mediumship before they
proceed to personal experiment. And when they have done this, and
perhaps when they have realized how easy it is so to conduct an
examination of this nature as to arrive at negative results, they will
be in a better position to devote intelligent and patient care to a
study which can be profitably conducted in no other way.

There is no doubt that the report of the Seybert Commission set back for
the time the cause of psychic truth. Yet the real harm fell upon the
learned institution which these gentlemen represented. In these days
when ectoplasm, the physical basis of psychic phenomena, has been
established beyond a shadow of doubt to all who examine the evidence, it
is too late to pretend that there is nothing to be examined. There is
now hardly a capital which has not its Psychic Research Society-a final
comment upon the inference of the Commission that there was no field for
research. If the Seybert Commission had had the effect of Pennsylvania
University heading this movement, and living up to the great tradition
of Professor Hare, how proud would her final position have been! As
Newton associated Cambridge with the law of gravitation, so Pennsylvania
might have been linked to a far more important advance of human
knowledge. It was left to several European 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 conducted by the Institut
General Psychologique in Paris. It consisted of three series of sittings
with the famous Eusapia Palladino in the years 1905, 1906, and 1907, the
total number of seances being forty-three. No complete list of the
sitters is available, nor was there any proper collective report, the
only record being a very imperfect and inconclusive one from the
secretary, M. Courtier. The investigators included some very
distinguished persons, including Charles Richet, Monsieur and Madame
Curie, Messrs. Bergson, Perrin, Professor d'Arsonal of the College de
France, 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 endorsement of the reality of her psychic powers, but the
strange superficial tricks of Eusapia are recorded in the subsequent
account of her career, and we can well imagine the disconcerting effect
which they would have upon those to whom such things were new.

There is included in the report a sort of conversation among the sitters
in which they talk the matter over, most of them being in a very
nebulous and non-committal frame of mind. It cannot be claimed that any
new light was shed upon the medium, or any new argument provided either
for the sceptic or for the believer. Dr. Geley, however, who has
probably gone as deeply as anyone else into psychic science, claims that
"les experiences"-he does not say the report-constitute a valuable
contribution to the subject.* He bases this upon the fact that the
results chronicled do often strikingly confirm those obtained in his own
Institut Metapsychique working with Kluski, Guzik, and other mediums.
The differences, he says, are in details and never in essentials. The
control of the hands was the same in either case, both the hands being
always held. This was easier in the case of the later mediums,
especially with Kluski in trance, while Eusapia was usually a very
restless individual. There seems to be a halfway condition which was
characteristic of Eusapia, and which has been observed by the author in
the case of Frau Silbert, Evan Powell, and other mediums, where the
person seems normal, and yet is peculiarly susceptible to suggestion or
other mental impressions. A suspicion of fraud may very easily be
aroused in this condition, for the general desire on the part of the
audience that something should occur reacts with great force upon the
unreasoning mind of the medium. An amateur who had some psychic power
has assured the author that it needs considerable inhibition to keep
such impulses in check and to await the real power from outside. In this
report we read: "The two hands, feet, and knees of Eusapia being
controlled, the table is raised suddenly, all four feet leaving the
ground. Eusapia closes her fists and holds them towards the table, which
is then completely raised from the floor five times in succession, five
raps being also given. It is again completely raised whilst each of
Eusapia's hands is on the head of a sitter. It is raised to a height of
one foot from the floor and suspended in the air for seven seconds,
while Eusapia kept her hand on the table, and a lighted candle was
placed under the table," and so on, with even more conclusive tests with
table and other phenomena.

* "L'Ectoplasmie et la Clairvoyance," 1924, p. 402.

The timidity of the report was satirized by the great French
Spiritualist, Gabriel Delanne. He says:

The reporter keeps saying "it seems" and "it appears," like a man who is
not sure of what he is relating. Those who held forty-three seances,
with good eyes and apparatus for verification, ought to have a settled
opinion-or, at least, to be able to say, if they regard a certain
phenomenon as fraudulent, that at a given seance they had seen the
medium in the act of tricking. But there is nothing of the sort. The
reader is left in uncertainty-a vague suspicion hovers over everything,
though not supported on any serious grounds.

Commenting on this, LIGHT says: *

* 1909, p. 356.

Delanne shows by extracts from the Report itself that some of the
experiments succeeded even when the fullest test precautions were taken,
such as using lamp-black to discover whether Eusapia really touched the
objects moved. Yet the Report deliberately discounts these direct and
positive observations by instancing cases occurring AT OTHER TIMES AND
PLACES in which Eusapia was SAID or BELIEVED to have unduly influenced
the phenomena.

The Courtier Report will prove more and more plainly to be what we have
already called it, a "monument of ineptitude," and the reality of
Eusapia's phenomena cannot be seriously called in question by the
meaningless phrases with which 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 in the years 1923 to 1925
by a committee chosen by the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and afterwards by a
small committee of Harvard men with Dr. Shapley, the astronomer, at
their head. The controversy over these inquiries is still raging, and
the matter has been referred to in the chapter which deals with great
modern mediums. It may briefly be stated that of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
inquirers the secretary, Mr. Malcolm Bird, and Dr. Hereward Carrington
announced their complete conversion.

The others gave no clear decision which involved the humiliating
admission that after numerous sittings under their own conditions and in
the presence of constant phenomena, they could not tell whether they
were being cheated or not. The defect of the committee was that no
experienced Spiritualist who was familiar with psychic conditions was
upon it. Dr. Prince was very deaf, while Dr. McDougall was in a position
where his whole academic career would obviously be endangered by the
acceptance of an unpopular explanation. The same remark applies to Dr.
Shapley's committee, which was all composed of budding scientists.
Without imputing conscious mental dishonesty, there is a subconscious
drag to wards the course of safety. Reading the report of these
gentlemen with their signed acquiescence at each sitting with the
result, and their final verdict of fraud, one cannot discover any normal
way in which they have reached their conclusions. On the other hand, the
endorsements of the mediumship by folk who had no personal reasons for
extreme caution were frequent and enthusiastic. Dr. Mark Richardson of
Boston reported that he had sat more than 300 times, and had no doubt at
all about the results.

The author has seen numerous photographs of the ectoplasmic flow from
"Margery," and has no hesitation, on comparing it with similar
photographs taken in Europe, in saying that it is unquestionably
genuine, and that the future will justify the medium as against her
unreasonable critics.




APPENDIX



NOTES TO CHAPTER IV


EVIDENCE OF THE HAUNTING OF THE HYDESVILLE HOUSE BEFORE THE FOX FAMILY
OCCUPIED IT


MRS. ANN PULVER certifies:

I was acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Bell (who occupied the house in 1844).
I used to call on them frequently. My warping bars 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 felt very 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 know but what it was the fidgets; but she thought she heard
somebody walking about from one room to another, and that she had Mr.
Bell get up and fasten down all the windows. She said she felt more safe
after that. I asked her what she thought it was. She said it might 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 I boarded and went to
school. I lived there about three months. During the latter part of the
time that I was there I heard this knocking frequently in the bedroom,
under the foot of the bed. I heard it a number of nights, as I slept in
the bedroom all the time that I staid there. One night I thought I heard
a man walking in the buttery. This buttery is near the bedroom, with a
stairway between. Miss Aurelia Losey staid with me on that night; she
also heard the noise, and we were both much frightened, and got up and
fastened down the windows and fastened the door. It sounded as if a
person walked through the buttery, down cellar, and part way across the
cellar-bottom, and there the noise would cease. There was no one else in
the house at this time, except my little brother, who was asleep in the
same room with us. This was about twelve o'clock, I should think. We did
not go to bed until after eleven, and had not been asleep when we heard
the noise. Mr. and Mrs. Bell had gone to Loch Berlin, to be gone until
the next day.

Thus it is proved that strange sounds were heard in the house in 1844.
Another family named Weekman lived there in 1846-7, and they had a
similar experience.


STATEMENT OF MRS. HANNAH WEEKMAN


I have heard about the mysterious noises that have been heard in the
house now occupied by Mr. Fox. We used to live in the same house; we
lived there about a year and a half and moved from there to the house we
now occupy. About a year ago, while we were living there, we heard
someone, as we supposed, rapping on the outside door. I had just got into
bed, but my husband had not. He went and opened it, and said that there
was no one there. He came back, and was about getting into bed when we
heard the rapping on the door again. He then went to the door and opened
it, and said that he could see no one, although he stepped out a little
way. He then came back and got into bed. He was quite angry; he thought
'twas some of the neighbouring boys trying to disturb us, and said that
"They might knock away, but they would not fool him," 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. I told him not to go outdoors, for perhaps
somebody wanted to get him out and hurt him. He came back, and said he
could see nothing. We heard a good deal of noise during the night; we
could hardly tell where it was: it sounded sometimes as if someone was
walking in the cellar. But the house was old, and we thought it might be
the rattling of loose boards, or something of that kind.

A few nights afterwards, one of our little girls, who slept in the
bedroom where the noises are now heard, woke us all up by screaming very
loud. My husband and I, and our hired girl, got up immediately to see
what was the matter. She sat up in bed, crying and screaming, and it was
some time before we could find out what the matter was. She said that
something had been moving about, over her head and face-that it was cold,
and she did not know what it was. She said that she felt it all over her,
but she was most alarmed at feeling it on her face. She was very much
frightened. This was between twelve and one o'clock at night. She got up
and got into bed with us, and it was a long time before she could go to
sleep. It was several days before we could get her to sleep in that room
again. She was eight years old at that time.

Nothing else happened to me during the time that we lived there; but my
husband told me that one night he heard someone call him by name,
somewhere in the house-he did not know where-but could never find out
where or what it was that night. I was not at home that night. I was
sitting up with a sick person. 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 the house now
occupied by Mr. Fox, in which they say strange noises are heard. We lived
there about a year and a half. One evening, about bedtime, I heard the
rapping. I supposed it was someone knocking 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 find anyone there, but went back, and just as I was
getting into bed I heard the rapping again and opened the door quick, but
could see no one there. I stepped out a step or two, but could see no one
about there. I then went back and got into bed. I thought someone was
making game of me. After a few minutes I heard the knocking again, and
after waiting a few minutes and still hearing it, I got up and went to
the door. This time I went clear out and looked around the house, but
could find no one. I then stepped back and shut the door, and held on to
the latch, thinking that if there was anyone there I would catch them at
it. In a minute or two I heard the rapping again. My hand was on the
door, and the knocking appeared to be on the door. I could feel it jar
with the raps. I instantly opened the door and sprang out, but there was
no one in sight. I then went round the house again, but could find no
one, as before. My wife told me I had better not go out of doors, as it
might be someone that wanted to hurt me. I did not know what to think of
it, it seemed so strange and unaccountable.

He here relates the case of the little girl being frightened, as given
above.

One night after this, about midnight, I was awake, and heard my name
called. It sounded as if it was on the south side of the room.

I sat up in bed and listened, but did not hear it again. I did not get
out of bed, but waited to see if it would be repeated. My wife was not at
home that night. I told her of it afterwards, and she said she guessed I
had been dreaming. My wife used to be frightened quite often by hearing
strange noises in and about the house.

I have heard so much from men in whom I place confidence about these
noises that are now heard, that, taken in connexion with what I heard, I
cannot account for it, unless it is a supernatural appearance. I am
willing to make affidavit to the above facts if necessary.

(Signed) MICHAEL WEEKMAN.
APRIL 11, 1848.


EXTRACT FROM HORACE, GREELEY'S ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE GIVING HIS
OPINION OF THE FOX SISTERS AND THEIR MEDIUMSHIP*

* Capron, "Modern Spiritualism," pp. 179-181.

THE MYSTERIOUS RAPPINGS


Mrs. Fox and her three daughters left our city yesterday on their return
to Rochester, after a stay here of some weeks, during which they have
subjected the mysterious influence, by which they seem to be accompanied,
to every reasonable test, and to the keen and critical scrutiny of
hundreds who have chosen to visit them, or whom they have been invited to
visit. The rooms which they occupied at the hotel have been repeatedly
searched and scrutinized; they have been taken without an hour's notice
into houses they had never before entered; they have been all
unconsciously placed on a glass surface concealed under the carpet in
order to interrupt electrical vibrations; they have been disrobed by a
committee of ladies appointed without notice, and insisting that neither
of them should leave the room until the investigation has been made,
etc., etc., yet we believe no one, to this moment, pretends that he has
detected either of them in producing or causing the "rappings," nor do we
think any of their contemners has invented a plausible theory to account
for the production of these sounds, nor the singular intelligence which
(certainly at times) has seemed to be manifest through them.

Some ten or twelve days since they gave up their rooms at the hotel and
devoted the remainder of their sojourn here to visiting several families,
to which they had been invited by persons interested in the subject, and
subjecting the singular influence to a closer, calmer examination than
could be given to it at a hotel, and before casual companies of
strangers, drawn together by vague curiosity more than rational interest,
or predetermined and invincible hostility. Our own dwelling was among
those they thus visited; not only submitting to, but courting, the
fullest and 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 of three days to
this subject, and it would be the basest cowardice not to say that we are
convinced beyond a doubt of their perfect integrity and good faith in the
premises. Whatever may be the origin or cause of the "rappings," the
ladies in whose presence they occur do not make them. We tested this
thoroughly and to our entire satisfaction. Their conduct and bearing is
as unlike that of deceivers as possible, and we think no one acquainted
with them could believe them at all capable of engaging in so daring,
impious, and shameful a juggle as this would be if they caused the
sounds. And it is not possible that such a juggle should have been so
long perpetrated in public. A juggler performs one feat quickly and
hurries on to another; he does not devote weeks after weeks to the same
thing over and over, deliberately, in full view of hundreds who sit
beside or confronting him in broad daylight, not to enjoy but to detect
his trick. A deceiver naturally avoids conversation on the subject of his
knavery, but these ladies converse freely and fully with regard to the
origin of these "rappings" in their dwellings years ago, the various
sensations they caused, the neighbourhood excitement created, the
progress of the developments--what they have seen, heard and experienced
from first to last. If all were false, they could not fail to have
involved themselves ere this in a labyrinth of blasting contradictions,
as each separately gives accounts of the most astonishing developments at
this or that time. Persons foolish enough so to commit themselves without
reserve or caution could not have deferred a thorough self-exposure for a
single week.

Of course, a variety of opinions of so strange a matter would naturally
be formed by the various persons who have visited them, and we presume
that those who have merely run into their room for an hour or so, and
listened, among a huddle of strangers, to a medley of questions-not all
admitting of very profitable answers-put to certain invisible
intelligences, and answered by "rappings," or singular noises on the
floor, table, etc., as the alphabet was called over, or otherwise, would
naturally go away, perhaps puzzled, probably disgusted, rarely convinced.
It is hardly possible that a matter, ostensibly so grave, could be
presented under circumstances less favourable to conviction. But of those
who have enjoyed proper opportunities for a full investigation, we
believe that fully three-fourths are convinced, as we are, that these
singular sounds and seeming manifestations 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 questions which open a
much wider field of inquiry, with whose way-marks we do not profess to be
familiar. He must be well acquainted with the arcana of the universe, who
shall presume dogmatically to decide that these manifestations are
natural or supernatural. The ladies say that they are informed that this
is but the beginning of a new era, or economy, in which spirits clothed
in the flesh are to be more closely palpably connected with those who
have put on immortality; that manifestations have already appeared in
many other families and destined to be diffused and rendered clearer,
until all who will may communicate freely with their friends who have
"shuffled off this mortal coil." Of all this we know nothing, 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 to sustain the theory which regards these
manifestations as the utterances of departed spirits. H. G.




NOTE TO CHAPTER VI



PEN-PICTURE OF LAKE HARRIS BY LAURENCE OLIPHANT


There was a remarkable alternation of vivacity and deliberation about the
movements of Mr. Masollam. His voice seemed pitched in two different
keys, the effect of which was, when he changed them, to make one seem a
distant echo of the other-a species of ventriloquistic phenomenon which
was calculated to impart a sudden and not altogether pleasant shock to
the nerves of the listeners. When he talked with what I may term his
"near" voice, he was generally rapid and vivacious; when he exchanged it
for his "far off" one, he was solemn and impressive. His hair, which had
once been raven black, was now streaked with grey, but it was still thick
and fell in a massive wave over his ears, and nearly to his shoulders,
giving him something of a leonine aspect. His brow was overhanging and
bushy, and his eyes were like revolving lights in two dark caverns, so
fitfully did they seem to emit flashes and then lose all expression. Like
his voice, they too had a near and a far-off expression, which could be
adjusted to the required focus like a telescope, growing smaller and
smaller as though in an effort to project the sight beyond the limits of
natural vision. At such times they would be so entirely devoid of all
appreciation of outward objects as to produce almost the impression of
blindness, when suddenly the focus would change, the pupils expand, and
rays flash from them like lightning from a thundercloud, giving an
unexpected and extraordinary brilliancy to a face which seemed promptly
to respond to the summons. The general cast of countenance, the upper
part of which, were it not for the depth of the eye-sockets, would have
been strikingly handsome, was decidedly Semitic; and in repose the
general effect was almost statuesque in its calm fixedness. The mouth was
partially concealed by a heavy moustache and long iron-grey beard; but
the transition from repose to animation revealed an extraordinary
flexibility in those muscles which had a moment before appeared so rigid,
and the whole character of the countenance was altered as suddenly as the
expression of the eye. It would perhaps be prying too much into the
secrets of Nature, or, at all events, into the secrets of Mr. Masollam's
nature, to inquire whether this lightening and darkening of the
countenance was voluntary or not. In a lesser degree it is a common
phenomenon with us all: the effect of one class of emotions is, vulgarly
speaking, to make a man look black, and of another to make him look
bright. The peculiarity of Mr. Masollam was that he could look so much
blacker and brighter than most people, and made the change of expression
with such extraordinary rapidity and intensity that it seemed a sort of
facial legerdemain, and suggested the suspicion that it might be an
acquired faculty. There was, moreover, another change which he apparently
had the power of working on his countenance, which affects other people
involuntarily, and which generally, especially in the case of the fair
sex, does so very much against their will. Mr. Masollam had the faculty
of looking very much older one hour than he did the next. "There were
moments when a careful study of his wrinkles and of his dull,
faded-looking eyes would lead you to put him down at eighty if he was a
day; and there were others when his flashing glance, expanding nostril,
broad, smooth brow and mobile mouth would make a rejuvenating combination
that would for a moment convince you that you had been at least
five-and-twenty years out in your first estimate. These rapid contrasts
were calculated to arrest the attention of the most casual observer, and
to produce a sensation which was not altogether pleasant when first one
made his acquaintance. It was not exactly mistrust-for both manners were
perfectly frank and natural-so much as perplexity. He seemed to be two
opposite characters rolled into one, and to be presenting undesigningly a
curious moral and physiological problem for solution, which had a
disagreeable sort of attractiveness about it, for you almost immediately
felt it to be insoluble, and yet it would not let you rest. He might be
the best 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 to think it
anything but a clever imposture. "But," said he, "what you tell me is
very singular: I shall go myself to Mrs. Hayden; I shall go alone and not
give my name. I don't think I shall hear anything 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 to report
progress. He told me that he had gone a step beyond me, for he had
insisted on taking his alphabet behind a large folding screen and asking
his questions by the alphabet and a pencil, as well as receiving the
answers. No persons except himself and Mrs. Hayden were in the room. The
"spirit" who came to him was one whose unfortunate death was fully
detailed in the usual way. My friend told me that he was "awestruck," and
had nearly forgotten all his precautions.

The things which I have narrated were the beginning of a long series of
experiences, many as remarkable as what I have given; many of a minor
character, separately worth little, but jointly of weight when considered
in connexion with the more decisive proofs of reality. Many of a
confirmatory tendency as mere facts, but of a character not sustentive of
the gravity and dignity of the spiritual world. The celebrated apparition
of Giles Scroggins is a serious personage compared to some which have
fallen in my way, and a logical one, too. If these things be spirits,
they show that pretenders, coxcombs and liars are to be found on the
other side of the grave as well as on this; and what for no? as Meg Dods
said.

The whole question may receive such persevering attention as shall worm
out the real truth; or it may die away, obtaining only casual notice,
until a new outburst of phenomena recalls its history of this clay. But
this subsidence does not seem to begin. It is now twelve or thirteen
years since the matter began to be everywhere talked about, during which
time there have been many announcements of the total extinction of the
"spirit-mania." But in several cases, as in Tom Moore's fable, the
extinguishers have caught fire. Were it the absurdity it is often said to
be, it would do much good by calling attention to the "manifestations" of
another absurdity, the philosophy of possibilities and impossibilities,
the philosophy of the fourth court. Extremes meet, but the "meeting" is
often for the purpose of mutual exposure, like that of silly gentlemen in
the day of pop-and-paragraph duels. This on the supposition that
Spiritualism is all either imposture or delusion; it cannot be more
certainly one or the other than is the philosophy opposed to it. I have
no acquaintance either with P or Q. But I feel sure that the decided
conviction 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 knows he cannot have
seen one. I know that Q says he knows it.

In this connexion the following from the Publishers' Circular on the
appearance of Mrs. De Morgan's book shows a contemporary estimate of
Professor De Morgan's critical faculty:

Mere LITTERATEURS and writers of fiction may be pardoned for a little
tendency to the visionary and unreal, but the fact that the well-known
author of the standard works on Formal Logic, the Differential Calculus,
and the Theory of Probabilities, should figure with his lady in the
characters of believers in spirit-rapping and table-turning, will
probably take most people by surprise. There is perhaps no contributor to
our reviews 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 is readily traced
by literary readers in many a striking article in our critical journals.
He is probably the last man whom the sceptical in such mysteries would
expect to find on the side of Mr. Home and Mrs. Newton Crosland. Yet we
must record the fact that Mr. De Morgan declares himself " perfectly
convinced that he has both seen and heard, in a manner which should make
unbelief impossible, things called spiritual which cannot be taken by a
rational 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 the phenomena of
"Spiritualism." My first experience occurred in the presence of Mrs.
Hayden from New York. I never heard a word which could shake my strong
conviction of Mrs. Hayden's honesty; indeed, the result of our first
interview, when my name was quite unknown to her, was sufficient to prove
that I was not on that occasion the victim of her imposture, or my own
credulity.

After describing the visit to Mrs. Hayden, to whom none of the names of
those present was mentioned, she says:

We sat for at least a quarter of an hour and were beginning to apprehend
a failure, when a very small throbbing or patting sound was heard,
apparently in the centre of the table. Great was our pleasure when Mrs.
Hayden, who had before seemed rather anxious, said, "They are coming."
Who were coming? Neither she nor we could tell. As the sounds gathered
strength, which they seemed to do with our necessary conviction of their
genuineness, whatever might be their origin, Mrs. Hayden said, "There is
a spirit who wishes to speak with someone here, but as I do not know the
names of 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." This was
agreed to by our invisible companion, who rapped in assent. Mrs. Hayden
then pointed to each of the party in turn. To my surprise, and even
annoyance (for I did not wish this, and many of my friends did), no
sounds were heard until she indicated myself, 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 to the letters of a large type alphabet, and I may
add that, having no wish to obtain the name of any dear friend or
relation, I certainly did not rest, as it has been surmised is often
done, on any letter. However, to my astonishment, the not common name of
a dear relation who had left this world seventeen years before, and whose
surname was that of my father's, not my husband's, family was spelt. Then
this sentence, "I am happy, and with F. and G." (names at length). I then
received a promise of future communication with all three spirits; the
two last had left the world twenty and twelve years before. Other persons
present then received communications by rapping; of these some were as
singularly truthful and satisfactory as that to myself, while others were
false and even mischievous.

Mrs. De Morgan observes that after the seances with Mrs. Hayden she and
her friends experimented in private, "and it was found that a number of
persons, both in and out of my own family, possessed the faculty of
mediumship in a greater or less degree."


NOTE TO CHAPTER X


WERE THE DAVENPORTS JUGGLERS OR SPIRITUALISTS?


As Mr. Houdini has seemed to question whether the Davenports themselves
ever asserted that they were Spiritualists, it may clear the matter up
finally to quote the following from a letter written by them in 1868 to
the Banner of Light, the leading Spiritualist journal in the United
States. Dealing with the 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 most bitter
persecution and violent opposition, culminating in the riots of
Liverpool, Huddersfield, and Leeds, where our lives were placed in
imminent peril by the fury of brutal mobs, our property destroyed, and
where we suffered a loss of seventy-five thousand dollars, and all
because we would not renounce Spiritualism, and declare ourselves
jugglers, when threatened by the mob, and urged to do so. In conclusion,
we have only to say that we denounce all such statements as base
falsehoods.



END OF VOL. I



THE END




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